Spring 2017 Farm Update Series: Plants

I am doing a series of updates about what we have done so far with our little homestead. I am trying to post weekly but it may be more like every two weeks. You can always check the intro post for links to all of the currently posted updates.

our homesteading adventure spring 2017 updates

Hubby put in 3 garden beds for veggies. We have seeds started in pots and two tomato plants that we will transfer into those. Well, we will transfer into one of them because we filled the other two with potatoes, onions, and garlic! Hopefully there is room for my other seedlings or we will be quickly building a fourth bed!

our homesteading adventure updates

We had a guy out to cut down a dead tree near the house and he identified our fruit trees for us. We have one pear tree, four apple trees, and four that are either peach or apricot. I am looking up ways to preserve all of those so I can be ready when the fruit is ripe! I went and checked them a couple days ago and most have plenty of baby fruit on them so hopefully we get a good harvest.

our homesteading adventure spring 2017 updates our homesteading adventure spring 2017 updates our homesteading adventure spring 2017 updates

The neighbor gave us some raspberry shoots he was thinning out so we have 8 of those planted but I don’t think we will get anything from them this year. Perhaps the neighbors will want help picking and preserving theirs when they are ripe. (We have the BEST neighbors!!) They also told us there is a big blackberry bush on the property. I think I know which one it is but we will see this summer. I guess I better prepare for preserving those too! We have also found some grape vines but we won’t get useable fruit from those this year. One is on the ground and needs to be pruned then trained to an arbor. The vines that are currently on a support seem to be dead, there are no leaves or flowers on them. Hopefully we can save the one that is alive and get it on a support for next year.

I am planning to put in a pollinator garden. I have an old bed I am going to clear out and plant with milkweed and other flowers specifically aimed at butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. We have some seeds coming for that-I am a bit behind on that particular project. I also want our kids to tag monarchs to track their flight but I’ve already seen three and don’t have the tags so perhaps that project will wait until next year.

our homesteading adventure spring 2017 updates our homesteading adventure spring 2017 updates

We reorganized one of the beds in the fenced part of the yard and planted roses. When spring began we had several plants emerge in the fenced yard and some outside of it. We know we have daffodils and irises and I think there are day lillies. Other things came up that looked like bulbs to me but never flowered. We also have a bush that I believe is a Chinese peony. I am going to be transplanting most of that somewhere else and trying to get all of our fenced section to go back to just grass. Our yard is full of landscaping with rocks and plants everywhere. While I’m sure it was pretty when it was originally done, but it isn’t exactly dog and kid friendly. I would prefer just grass! We are also filling in the pond. It just isn’t safe for kids.

our homesteading adventure spring 2017 updates our homesteading adventure spring 2017 updates our homesteading adventure spring 2017 updatesour homesteading adventure spring 2017 updates our homesteading adventure spring 2017 updates our homesteading adventure spring 2017 updatesour homesteading adventure spring 2017 updates

Our field was FULL of dandelion and I had wanted to pick and dry them for tea but they were gone before I got around to it. I am putting on my calendar for next year to be ready for dandelions in April. I know you can make dandelion jam and I know the dried herb is great for tea and infusions. I’ve also heard of dandelion wine but that may be beyond my abilities! I am planning to make use of them next year though!

We have several herbs growing wild around the property (I think they were once in a bed but were allowed to take over) that I need to get better at identifying. The neighbor has catnip growing in his woods and tells us there are mushrooms all around. I am going to work on my foraging skills!

our homesteading adventure spring 2017 updates

I saw a recipe for lilac jam that I would love to try. The neighbors have a lilac bush but its flowers are already gone. I’m thinking of asking if I can take a cutting and see if I can get one to grow in my yard so I can try the lilac jam later. It smells wonderful so I’d love to have one even if we don’t like the jam!

I will be planting gourds and sunflowers in the next week or two and I have a bunch of bulbs to plant somewhere but I don’t think they will come up until next year now. We have quite a bit of other projects to get the property how I want it but we are enjoying making our mark here. It will be fun to see how future updates compare to this one!

What do you have growing this year? Let me know in the comments!!

Homestead Updates Spring 2017 (Series intro)

our homesteading adventure updates

There has been a lot happening on our little homestead this spring. It is very exciting and has been a challenge not to go overboard with what we are trying to do this first year. I started to write a post with all of our updates and it quickly got VERY long so I will do a series instead!

Keep in mind we really don’t know what we are doing so this is all a grand experiment!! 

Here is a little bit about the updates you can look forward to over the next few weeks:

The plants: What we are growing, what is already growing on our property and what we plan to grow at some point.

our homesteading adventure updates

The Poultry: We got chickens (and guineas)! I’ve learned a lot in our little chicken experiment.

our homesteading adventure updates our homesteading adventure updates

The bees: the bees are coming soon and we have been preparing.

our homesteading adventure updates

The house, yard, and pets: we have done quite a bit just cleaning and fixing up around the place!

Goals update: At the end of this series I will post an overall update on my goals from the beginning of the year.

The homestead kitchen: My kitchen adventures in natural/whole/healthy living!

our homesteading adventure updates

 

My plan is to post one update post a week for the next few weeks; of course, life could get busy and I could miss a week but I will get these up as quickly as life allows. Be watching for these if you want a glimpse into our homesteading journey. I will also link here as the directory for this season’s updates.

Recipe: Bacon, Sausage, and Kale Over Brown Rice

My husband is the head chef and recipe writer around here! He whipped up this simple almost-one-pot-meal (you need a second pot for the rice) the other night and it was a huge success. We are all about recipes that mix in veggies because it is easier to get our kids to eat them that way.

Bacon, Sausage, and Kale over Brown Rice recipe, almost one-pot-meal, gluten free, dairy free

Ingredient notes:

If you want to make this as healthy/whole/crunchy/all natural as possible choose organic ingredients, local when possible, and pastured meats with no added MSG, nitrates or nitrites. Base your choices on your own preferences, budget, and availability.

Salt– We use Real Salt for all of our cooking. Himalayan salt is also a good choice. However, while these salts have health benefits over table salt, they do not have added iodine which can lead to a deficiency (many people are deficient in iodine even if they use iodized table salt). In order to add iodine to our diets, we add a handful of Dulse flakes to any dish that it will mix in and disguise well. This meal would be one of those.

Bacon, Sausage, and Kale over Brown Rice recipe, almost one-pot-meal, gluten free, dairy free

Bacon, Sausage, and Kale over Brown Rice

serves 6

3 Cups Rice (we like brown basmati or jasmine)
6 Cups (Homemade) Chicken Broth (homemade chicken broth instructions coming soon)

Soak rice in water and 1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar for 4+ hours. Drain and cook in chicken broth. (Rice in the Instant Pot is quick and easy even if you forget to soak it!)

16 Oz Package of Bacon
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion diced
3 garlic cloves diced
10 oz bag of frozen kale or about 2 cups chopped fresh Kale
16 oz Package Precooked Sausage (such as summer sausage or kielbasa), sliced and quartered
 Salt and pepper to taste

Bacon, Sausage, and Kale over Brown Rice recipe, almost one-pot-meal, gluten free, dairy freeBacon, Sausage, and Kale over Brown Rice recipe, almost one-pot-meal, gluten free, dairy free

Cook half of the bacon in a sauce pot or deep cast iron pan. Drain bacon on paper towels. In the same pot, sauté garlic and onions in olive oil and the bacon grease. Then, add the other half of the bacon and olive oil to the pan to cook (do not remove or drain this bacon). Add kale and sausage to the pot and cook until kale is tender and sausage is warm throughout. Add the rest of the bacon back in. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve over rice.

Bacon, Sausage, and Kale over Brown Rice recipe, almost one-pot-meal, gluten free, dairy free

Let me know in the comments if you try this recipe!!

 

Bacon, Sausage, and Kale Recipe, one pot, natural, gluten free, dairy free

A house, An Acre, and BIG PLANS!

Earlier this week I told you all about our moving adventure but what I REALLY want to share with you is our new house and land! Well new to us, the house is actually nearly 140 years old. I absolutely love it. There is even a stone on the front with the year it was built! There are a couple of additions over the years that make it even more unique.

We are on one acre and are making plans for what we are going to do first with our land. We plan to make the most use of our little piece of earth as possible with hopes of some day buying additional land to add on. For now we feel like we have quite a bit to work with.

One of my favorite features of the house is this wall which was originally the outside wall but they left it exposed when they added on this side of the house.

We are also enjoying the wood stove, although it throws off the thermostat so the upstairs gets really cold!

We knew there were fruit trees on the property. So far we have found at least 7 fruit trees but we have no idea what type they are. We met someone at church who had looked at the house in late summer when the trees still had fruit and she said there were quite a few trees including apple, pear, peach, cherry, walnut, and apricot-maybe more. We are excited to see what grows this summer. We have also found two grape vines. None of the trees or vines seem to have been tended to recently so we will have plenty of work to do this summer cleaning up and learning to care for them!

We were also surprised by a small building with a fenced yard on the property right next to the house. We didn’t notice this building in any of the pictures or videos our realtor sent us (yes we bought the house without seeing it in person first – big risk but I think we made a good move!). With a little bit of cleaning and improvements, we think it will make a good chicken coop and yard (I can’t let the chickens completely free range because the road we live on is relatively busy and cars are going FAST). We hope to get chickens in early spring, hubby even thinks we may be able to get them sooner but I’m not sure I want to tackle chicks when it is still cold out.

We also hope to get rabbits and bees this spring and start a small garden. Next on the list are goats and turkey but those may be further down the road.

We also have this pond we can’t decide what to do with. It is inside the fenced yard where the kids play which makes me nervous. It is bigger and deeper than it looks. We have thrown around the idea of a few ducks or tilapia in it but we are leaning toward filling it in.

We have already added our first farm critter. Leia is an Akbash/Anatolian shepherd mix we found at the local animal shelter. She is a bit thin (no surprise there) but is beautiful and sweet. While she is a livestock guard dog by breed we got her as a companion to our current dog Luke and a general farm/house dog. (Yes, Luke and Leia, we are nerds). Having a second dog has already noticeably helped his separation anxiety.

Our New Dog

As we make improvements and bring in animals I will be sure to document our adventures here! Hopefully you can learn something along with us and maybe get inspired to do some small scale farming of your own. Or just laugh at our adventures and inevitable mishaps.

Do you have a farm? Chickens? Other livestock? A garden? Share how you homestead in the comments. I’d love any tips you can share!! 

I will share some of our “farm adventures” via live video on Facebook or Periscope so make sure to follow me there and on Instagram for “behind the scenes” type pictures that might not make it to the blog!