Homesteading

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augjosh

As is usually the case, I headed to the garden about an hour before dusk last night with my two littlest buddies. They thrive in dirt, on dirt, and with dirt so I no longer fight the barefooted tendencies, at least not in the garden. We picked black-eyed peas and watched bees pollinate the cucumbers and I wondered at the mercy I spend my days in.

butchering

It wasn’t until I was 29 years old that I knew what it was to first kill the animal I would like to see on my plate. This week Elijah gave it a go from start to finish at ten and he put me entirely to shame in the best way possible. He’d like to make this a regular occurrence, it appears, and his Mama is grateful for the prospect of that kind of eager help.

augseedballs

I casually mentioned the concepts of seed bombs to Annabelle last week and she ran with it full speed ahead until Mama found an hour for it. We don’t like to leave land bare if we can help it and since we essentially tilled a bit of the Chicken Field with the backhoe, I have been wanting to plant something as a cover crop if nothing else.

If you’ve not heard of seed bombs, it is something I learned of in a book by a man named Masanobu Fukuoka . Essentially you mix a bunch of seeds with clay and compost and enough water to form small balls. Once dry they are sort of encapsulated and can be thrown on ground you don’t wish to till or can’t reasonably plant by hand. Better than that, they are supposed to only germinate when enough rain to truly germinate the plant becomes a reality.

Since we were looking at rain percentages this week – and it is sprinkling as I write – I figured we’d give it a go. We threw them into the field this morning, which was great fun, and we’ll see what the Lord has for them.

augcellar2

augcellar

Not long after the backhoe was gone, Stewart began work on the root cellar. It is a long overdue project; and one he is working readily on. I greatly admire his ability to dive in and just do what needs doing, but I also find myself saying “please be careful” far too often to a man whose pragmatic caution far exceeds my own. Maybe that started when my babies (okay, the boys) started going up and down that ladder?

augkitty

The kids are now beginning their weaning process so we are milking these ladies twice a day. After four months or more of not having regular milk in the house, I – the only one who doesn’t drink milk – might be the most excited. Okay, probably not, but let me explain.

I have a homesteading theory that goes something like this: We could get a very large portion of our daily caloric and nutritional needs met by fresh dairy. I think I figured we could drink at least two gallons per day straight from the glass. Then we would eat kefir or yogurt once per day, homemade cheese once per day, and butter or cream pretty much at every meal in combination with garden vegetables.

That is to say, I can’t imagine there ever being such a thing as too much milk.

augstanchion

So Stewart built a stanchion this week and we very tentatively are working with Mabel in preparation for milking. She hasn’t directly kicked me yet, so I am very grateful for that. It kind of seems like either milking Mabel will be a smashing success… or I will end up with a major injury. In all honesty, working with this cow has brought out a fear of large animals I didn’t realize was quite so strong in me.

When we announced we’d be giving milking her a try, the children ran through the pasture yelling “Cream!”, so this is one task I’m going to be praying my way through for the foreseeable future.

mabel2

Nice girl…

moving-dirt-6 moving-dirt-1 moving-dirt-4 moving-dirt-5moving-dirt-7

I have often found it hard to wrap my head around the needs of a specific season unless we are in it. In the winter we think of firewood and water-proofing and row covers in the garden. In the summer we think if staying cool, of course, but there is one resource at the forefront of our days: water.

I think about it when I fill the sink a little lower every day for dishes. I think about it when we fill water filters and animal troughs. I think about it when doing laundry at home no longer seems a wise option. I think of it as we water the garden less and less the further we get from a rain. And we think of it more and more as we continue to add animals who also need more water. So it was a good time of year to rent a backhoe and really focus on the needs of the land, animals, and people in regard to water.

After doing this a few times now, I’ve found that it is a very intense time of work trying to make the most of this resource we’ve been given… but it’s also very exciting. We store up ideas and projects over the years, in the event that the Lord makes a way for a tool such as this, and then we dig.

This time some of the projects Stewart was able to do include: dig outhouse holes, expand our existing pond, swale a portion of the pasture, dig out a root cellar hole, dig out a much larger pond for the animals on the pasture, and mix all of those remaining hay bales into the chicken field garden.

We are very grateful the Lord provided a means to move forward on these projects and we look forward to seeing what He has next for us.