Holding On (By the Skin of My Teeth)

Last Thursday, July 21, Connie had her heel and Achilles Tendon operated on. She will not be able to put weight on that leg for three months. That would be approximately 13 weeks, or 91 days. If you really want to know exactly what your partner does around the old place, put them off line for about a week.

Yeah, all that stuff.

So this last week I have worked 40 plus hours, put at least one real meal a day on the table, tried to make certain Connie was comfortable, did the minimums to keep the critters alive, had an occasional talk with the Lord God and slept. That would be about it. Had Katherine not enlisted to take care of her mother some of the time, I might not have been able to do that. On top of that, I am just not pleased when people start cutting on the love of my life. Makes me kinda want to punch them, but that does not seem appropriate in this case.

So the first week is about over. We have a follow-up with the doctor tomorrow, and Connie is beginning to get around a little better. After waking up early this morning to finish cutting my knee high lawn, and fighting back the rag weed and various poisonous prehistoric plants that are taking over my dog lot, I fell out for a nap. I woke up to find the dishes I had washed after dinner last night put up, the new dishes on there way to clean and a plate of French Toast and bacon courtesy of Connie and Katherine waiting for me. Thank you both.

Speaking about the lawn. Let me continue a little about things I would have done differently when I started this little experiment in Green Acres-ism. No matter how tough and resilient you might think you are, if you have an acre yard (plus or minus) you do need a riding lawn mower and a gas powered weed eater.

At least, if you are in your later years and have any intentions of doing things other than cut your lawn. If not a riding mower, I would suggest goats. That does not mean you need a high dollar rider. I bought mine used from a friend for $250.00. The gas trimmer I got at Lowes for about seventy bucks. (Lowes has a 10 percent discount for military veterans; bless their hearts.)

I set out on this adventure with my 5 HP push mower and an electric weed eater. From the closest outlet, which is just inside the front door, to the farthest point of my front yard is about 175 or so feet. I needed the gas weed eater. And I really got tired of taking two plus days to mow the lawn. Also, this next year I am planning to get a wagon I can pull behind the mower, to do some chores around the place.

Another answer that is a work in progress, is just getting rid of the lawn entirely. We are working on planting it in an edible garden, but that is Connie’s project and she is in no shape to work on it right now..

The bees are going like gang busters. We have harvest a gallon of honey from each hive and they are still full to overflowing. I am going to have to get at least one more super or rob them again this next week. Maybe both.

As I said, I am involved in a project to cut down and kill a very intimidating forest of weeds that are growing, well…. I guess like weeds. To supplement the physical labor of cutting down these monsters I wanted something that would kill the beggars while not poisoning my dogs, chickens, bees or land for a couple more generations.

I had heard of something and looked it up. This is the basic recipe that I am following.

Take one gallon of cheap old white vinegar, pour it in a bucket. Add one cup of table salt and stir it up well. To that add one tablespoon of dish washing liquid to make the stuff stick better and stir that in. Put your product in a closed, marked container and put some it in a spray bottle and spray your plants.

I cannot endorse this recipe yet and it is indiscriminate, it kills the good stuff with the bad if it works as advertised. Connie or I will report back to you on it, when we know how it works.

I will close this rambling post. I hope something in it is interesting and helpful in your walk. Any prayers for my lovely wife will be appreciated. Also, I will put all you folks on my prayer list. Don’t worry, I don’t mind if you don’t believe in God, He believes in you.

The night before they took my love in for the operation, I slept very little. At the hospital in Chilicothe, Mo. Just before the operation, Connie, Katherine and I joined hands and prayed. When I looked up the nursing staff and the Doctor were in prayer with us.

Next, after we had to go out, Kat and I went for breakfast in the cafeteria. At our table we joined hands and blessed our food. I have an old soldier’s awareness of what is around me, so I knew that the tables next to ours and the people walking by stopped while we prayed.

I love the country.

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Catching Up…Again

Where does the time  go?  I just keep losing track of it!

I know Ed was working on a post, but he got sidetracked too.

For both Ed and I, our focus lately has been on prayer for our friend and brother in the Lord, twenty-five year old Taylor Finley who started intensive chemotherapy this last week for stage four sarcoma. Our little town has come together in a big way to support him, but it is even more amazing what God has done through Taylor’s illness. If you follow us on Facebook, you can read all about him there.

As I told you last week, Kat and I started school again, so most of my day is tied up with that.  I love Charlotte Mason’s methods, but my visual-spatial daughter has some struggles with it, so we are needing to switch things up a bit.

The weather cannot decide what time of year it is.  Thursday, it was 55 degrees. James and I did some work on the cold frame…outside…without coats…in January.  Currently it is 25 degrees, and the low for tomorrow is supposed to be -3. There is a chance of snow and ice over the next few days too.  Kat and I brought some more wood in the house tonight just in case we need it. Pray for the best; prepare for the worst! That doesn’t mean that we don’t believe God will take care of us; it means that we understand that His idea of “best” isn’t always the same as ours!

The roosters finally came out of the coop, but I’m sure they’ll be “hibernating” again now.  Ed is working on plans to create a second coop so that we can keep both roosters. I’ll let him tell you about all that though. Maybe Monday.

Our last round of bad weather included more ice than snow and when the weather warmed, sheets of ice started slowly sliding off our roof. One day I was in the bedroom and I hard a loud rapping sound coming from outside. It kind of sounded like a woodpecker, and kind of not. I looked out the bedroom window, but didn’t see anything. I heard it again, so I went to look out the front door. That’s when I noticed the ice. The rapping was coming from directly over my head, so I went out onto the sidewalk to see the front of the house. From there, I  could tell the ice sheet had covered the gutter. The bird was trapped in the gutter. I went to get Ed. As he started to tell me that he didn’t know what we could do about it, the bird escaped from the end of the gutter.

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Looking straight up from the porch

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From the sidewalk

By the way, have you checked out the Back to Basics Living bundle yet? There really is a ton of great stuff in there. If you were to buy everything individually, you would have to pay over $500.00, but from the January 18-24 (next week), you can get it all for less than $50.00!

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I shared a little about the homeschooling part of the bundle last week, but that is the tip of the iceberg. It’s going to take me a while to get through everything, but I’m liking what I’ve seen so far. I’ve been looking over “Handmade Gifts from the Kitchen” by Stephanie Rose from Garden Therapy.  All kids of great ideas, and not just “gifts in a jar” either.
“Homesteading Without A Homestead” by Marie Beausoleil from Just Plain Marie, is full of great advice for starting where you are in the whole homesteading process.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Connie

 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I hope your first day of 2016 got off to a glorious start! It is a cool 35 degrees here on the homestead, but the sun is shining!

It’s the day that so many of us start those famous (or infamous) New Year’s Resolutions to get healthy, lose weight, pray more, exercise more, spend more time with the family, and the list goes on.

No, this is not going to be a post about resolutions. Several of my blogger friends have written some good ones though like this one from Marie.

Ed and I are planning a “homestead meeting” for tomorrow morning before he and James go to work. We want to look at what we accomplished this year: the successes, the failures, and the reasons for both. We’ll share some of that with you next week. One thing that both us already know that we need to do is catch up on reading posts of our fellow bloggers!

As Ed told you Tuesday, the roosters don’t like the cold weather, and as of this morning, they still have not left the coop. Meeko and Libby are back to sharing the big straw-filled dog house. One day, the conditions will be right, and I will get video of Libby rearranging new straw. She’s like a kid at Christmas!

I went back to visit the kidney doctor yesterday, and testing revealed that I need to drink more water. He didn’t say one thing about cutting down on the coffee! Drink more water: I can live with that.

Last night, I was sitting here at my desk, and Loki brought me one of his favorite toys; an old squeaky ball. I took it from him to throw it and realized he had only given me half of it! The other half was in pieces all over the floor, and the Lord only knows where the squeaker is. I just hope he didn’t swallow it! It’s probably a good thing that he got a Kong dog toy for Christmas.

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Ummm….

Ed worked last night, but got home about 10:30. We stayed up to bring in the new year with Kat and drink our traditional glass of sparkling grape juice, but went to bed about 12:10. Yeah, we’re night owl party animals for sure!

I don’t remember if I ever told you, but I did get the onions planted before it got cold. The frame part of the cold frame is finished, but I don’t know if it is actually insulated enough to grown anything. I need to do a little more research. Does anyone know about testing soil temperatures?

I dug out a couple of rag rug projects and told myself that I will finish at least one of them this weekend. I already put all the Christmas decorations away, but I still need to get the house into some semblance of order.

Kat and I start back to school on Tuesday. I would have started Monday, but Ed is off that day, and we have errands to run. For school purposes,we will treat Monday like Saturday and have school on Saturday instead. I’ll let you know how that works.

Connie

P.S.
I have some exciting news coming, so be sure to check back with us next week, and I’ll fill you in!

Why Are We Here Again?

There are plenty of fantastic homesteading blogs out there, so why on earth would we want to start another one? Well, the reason we call our blog, Old folks at Homestead, is because, when compared to most new homesteaders, we are old. I am 51 and Ed is 64. We both have health issues that present unique challenges to the rigors of homesteading, and I think we bring a different perspective to the subject. The same could be said about our decision to home school my daughter, starting in 9th grade. We’ve just kind of done everything backwards.

Additionally, the blog isn’t just about homesteading, per se. It is also about us individually, and all the things we love. For me, that includes repurposing and wildcrafting, for Ed, it’s leather working and cowboy poetry. For both of us, it’s a love of music and books and animals and most of all, a love for the Lord and a desire to honor Him in all that we do. You will find a little of all of that here.

We will experiment and learn new things too. Ed wants bees and I want goats, but we are going to get chickens first.  We hope you’ll come along with us on our journey. Share in our successes and our down right disasters. Let us know how we’re doing. Perhaps we can learn from each other along the way.

We’re glad you’re here.

Connie

I Don’t Want It All

But I do want to learn it all.

Ed already told you how we got here, and what our basic livestock/gardening plans are, so I thought I give you my perspective. One thing Ed neglected to mention is that our new place is over an hour’s drive from our old one, and we came here without knowing a soul. We came with two of my three children, two half crazy dogs, and four completely crazy cats.

Although we had agreed not to do anything major until next spring, we had hoped to be a little farther into settling in to our new place than we are. We had some unexpected health issues that have slowed us down some. If you’re interested, you can read about my accident here. Things are better now, but still moving too slowly for my impatient self.

Ed and I both believe that people need to learn how to do things the old ways because one day, they just might not have a choice. For me, I think it goes a little deeper than that. I’ve always loved history, and as an extension of that, I want to know how to do things the way my great grandparents did them.

Grandma did teach me how to make bread, but wouldn’t attempt teaching me to sew or crochet, because I am left-handed, and watching me work “backwards” made her crazy. No one else in my family knew how, so I’ve muddled around off and on over the years, trying to teach myself. I’ve had more failures than successes, but I keep trying. I am, however, the family “go-to” person for homemade bread, and my oldest son can make it as well as I can. All three of my kids are bread kneading experts.

If I could, I would learn how to do everything. I would learn about caring for goats, chickens and horses. I would learn how to card and spin fibers, knit, crochet, and weave. I would learn to quilt and make our clothes, I would learn to make butter and cheese as well as all our own bath and laundry soap. I would learn to grow and preserve all our own food. I would grow and grind my own grain, and press my own oil. I would learn about wild edibles and medicinals, and take care of my families health through the real food we eat and natural medicine. I truly believe that when God created this world, He gave us everything we need. We just need to learn how to use it.

OK, well that is the short list of what I want to learn. Give me a few minutes, I’m sure I’ll think of more. Oh, yeah, I want to learn to play piano and guitar well. I can play some now; just not well.

I’ve been actually working on this list for a long time. So how am I doing? Well, as I said before, I’ve worked some on needle work and sewing. YouTube has been great for learning things left-handed. I have made laundry soap, deodorant, and lip balm. I have made lye from wood ash. I never got to the soap making part of that, but that’s another blog post. I have grown and canned some tomatoes. I’ve made apple and pear butter, and raspberry jam. I’ve grown herbs and learned to dry them (by accident). I’ve used said dried herbs for medicinal purposes. We are going to talk about Yarrow in a future blog post. Its great stuff! Last year, I attended a wild edibles workshop.

As much as we can, we try to limit our use of processed food in general and refined white sugar in particular. I’ve done a little research into essential oils and their uses. We have a few here that we use. Number two son swears by peppermint essential oil for headaches.

Almost everything I mentioned in the last two paragraphs happened before we moved here. I am so excited to have more room to learn things, grow things, build things and make things.

We are so glad to have you along with us on this journey as we create our homestead. We welcome any input, information or advice you have for us too. That way, we can learn from each other.

Connie

Welcome to Your 5 Acre Farm: Now What?

On the 1st of August 2014, my wife Connie and I spent the morning signing reams of papers for taking possession of our five acre farm in the wilds of northwestern Missouri. On the farm is a two stall barn with a lean-to addition for farm equipment, a two car detached garage and our new three bedroom home with a half basement garage. We now have a thirty year mortgage. Please understand that when we pay it off, I will be ninety-three and my blushing bride will be eighty. Either we are the most optimistic people in the world or we are betting heavily on a zombie apocalypse.

So, what is five acres? Historically, an acre is the amount of land you can plow with a brace of oxen. Oh by the way; a brace of oxen is two. So we bought ourselves the amount of land it would take five days to plow with two oxen. That would suppose I had two oxen, the appropriate plows and tack to harness them to the plow, any experience at all plowing with cattle and any motivation to plow the whole place to begin with. I have none of the above.

Let’s use a comparison maybe we can understand. An acre is 90% of a football field. So we now own four and one half football fields though it would be hard to play a decent game on them because of various buildings and cross fences.

So there you go. Both Connie and I love animals, outdoors, independence and doing things ourselves. Oh, we also love each other. So now that we have our five acres, what are we going to do with it? That has been the subject of much conversation and a little action since August. Having moved in so late in the year we both decided no live stock or gardening until spring. That will give us time to plan and prepare.

Most of the farmers in our area grow grains, corn and/or soy beans. I could fill the whole place with any combination of these crops, grow a bumper crop of them, sell it high and still not make enough for us to catch a bus to town if a bus ran out this far.

Every family in the area has their kitchen garden. In the first week we were here, we were almost buried in an avalanche of good will and tomatoes. There are some chickens, cows and goats in the area. A little further down the road you can find all sorts of live stock from sheep to pigs to lamas.

Goats: Connie wants to raise goats for fun and profit. The poet Carl Sandburg’s wife was a breeder of prize winning goats. Remember that if you are ever on Jeopardy. My Connie wants to raise goats and I told her that was alright but don’t expect me to rope them. It is not that being called a Goat Roper upsets me, but have you ever tried to rope a goat? They got some serious quick going on. So sometime towards spring I am going to have to cross fence around the barn and we will need to get a goat or two.

Bees: I want bees because bees make honey, and I have a raging sweet tooth. Also, bees are just cool. I remember as a little boy helping my grandfather with the bees; watching him gather honey, sneaking around behind the hives to put my ear up against them and listening to the hum of the bees cooling the honey in summer. Bees are really great little critters. However, I am not certain Connie is particularly thrilled. Got a feeling I will be robbing hives by myself.

Chickens: We both think you just have to have chickens. Chickens mean eggs and meat and I am fond of anything that can provide two kinds of food, ergo the goats. Any sustenance farm is going to have to have some kind of fowl, chickens or guineas are the best candidates. I expect we will try both within the first couple years.

A garden of course: A family of four can easily provide itself with the necessary vegetables, tubers, greens and such, ‘maters, tatters and beans, on a half acre. I have one picked out. We will also be planting berries and fruit trees.

Those are our goals for our first year; along with that maybe, just maybe, a couple of pigs. After that we will look at some grains, maybe a cow or two, pigmy cows are interesting. As time goes by, I am certain we will fail at some things and find successes we never even thought about. Raising mushrooms is intriguing and growing worms goes right along with composting.

Then there are matters of self reliance like production of our own energy, getting that old well back in action and seeing what comes from that and learning to recycle, reuse, repair and simply restrain ourselves.

The central theme of this blog is living simply, sustained by the earth each other and ultimately our God. What we intend to share with you is not how we GOT there. We intend to let you watch while we GET there. Allowing our readers to learn from our mistakes and profit from our successes as they happen, is our goal. The fact that I am old enough to remember when dirt was young should add to the entertainment value. Connie? Why she’s still an eighteen year old girl and as beautiful as she ever was. Why do you ask?

Ed