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Showing posts from September, 2018

Photo Wrap-Up for September

It's the last day of September! Here's a look back to wrap it up. 

Photo Wrap-Up for September© Sept. 2018 by Leighat

What I'm Learning About Fall Gardening

Every August I start thinking about the fall garden. My planting chart from the cooperative extension office says I can start fall planting in August, but I have to admit that August just doesn't feel right, because it's too hot. On the other hand, I've learned that waiting too long isn't good, because I never know what kind of winter we're going to get. Some years our first frost is mid-October, other years it's closer to December 1st. Some years our winter temps are mild enough to grow winter greens for us and winter pasture for the goats. Other years everything freezes out. So I'm always in a quandary over when to plant.

Recently I read an article at the Sow True Seed website, "Fall Gardening Know How: Root Crops." It shed some light on my gardening dilemma, explaining things I've observed but couldn't figure out why. I've been contemplating this as I clear out space to plant a winter garden.

According to the article, cool weather …

Learning to Adjust to Retirement Income

It's been almost nine months since Dan's accident and about six months since Social Security retirement kicked in. I have to say that even though he no longer goes to work, he's busier now and works harder than he ever has. And he couldn't be happier.

There have been several aspects of learning to adjust to our new income. We always knew it would be quite a bit less than what were were used to, but that's part of why we took up homesteading in the first place. By meeting more of our own needs we don't have to be as dependent on money. "Retirement" came earlier than we expected, but since a financial scaling down has always been a goal, it wasn't that difficult to adapt. The more challenging adjustment has been in the pay schedule.

As a truck driver Dan got paid once a week. We calculated our budget monthly and put weekly amounts into our budget categories: bills, tithe, groceries, fuel, household expenses, etc. Most months have four weeks, which was…

Soil Building Experiment #2: Pastures

Pasture improvement is one of our homestead goals for 2018. Actually, sustainable pasture has always been a goal, but there's been a huge learning curve to go along with that goal, and so far I haven't seen the results I hoped for. In fact, I admit that this year I was discouraged because of our lack of progress in growing good forage. We seem to grow more weeds! Finally, my recent research into carbon and soil building has given me information, answers, and the motivation I needed to tackle this year's goal with new hope. 

We have five subgoals for pasture improvement:
Build the soil. Establish a polyculture of predominantly perennial forage. Subdivide large paddocks for better grazing rotation. Trim low tree branches shading our pastures. (I've observed that our forage does best with filtered sunlight from a high canopy.)Develop a management plan to keep it in the best condition.
The first two are interdependent and since September is the month we designated for fall…

Super Easy Pasta Cheesy

When I was a little girl one of my favorite foods was my mother's homemade macaroni and cheese. I loved the stuff. But then, that was back in the day when nobody thought about Velveeta not being real food. Back then, nobody really cared. At some point I grew up and tried to make a more "grown up" version of mac and cheese, but let's face it, real cheese doesn't compare in texture and meltiness to Velveeta. That means that all the grown-up versions of mac and cheese just aren't the same.

The other day I wanted to cook some pasta to go with our barbecue duck legs and had an idea. I cooked some pasta, drained it, stirred in a chunk of butter and some chevre cheese, and served it to Dan. We both loved it! No, it isn't the same as macaroni and Velveeta, but then, my tastes have changed over the years. Most of the industrially processed stuff doesn't taste all that great. This simple combination of tastes and textures was satisfying to the point where I will…

Reconsidering Australorps

We've had a variety of chicken breeds since we started homesteading: Delawares, Welsummers, Ameraucanas, Barred Hollands, Silver Laced Wyandottes, Buff Orpingtons, Speckled Sussex, and Black Australorps. Our intention was to try out different dual-purpose breeds and eventually choose one as our permanent homestead breed. We wanted to stick with one breed because we raise our own replacements, and we want our replacements to be full breed chickens. Eventually we settled on the Australorps.

The Australorps have been excellent chickens. They provide lots of eggs and the oldest are still laying well in their third year. Besides good production in summer, they give us a small but steady supply of eggs all winter. They are good foragers, have been excellent with the compost, and produce good meat. Our Australorp rooster is an excellent fellow, everything one could want in a good rooster: keenly watchful and protective of his hens, yet respectful of the humans. His only fault is that he …