Moving to a New Website!

Good morning!

I’ve been a little quiet here this last week or two, because I’ve been preparing to move this blog to a new web address:  www.homestead-honey.com.

Homestead Honey new website

If the gods of technology smile on me, I will complete the migration today, which means that the next time you visit my blog, please do so at www.homestead-honey.com.  You can go there right now and bookmark it, and you will find some pretty pictures and a framework ready to import this content.

If you receive my blog posts via email, I’m going to do my best to migrate that function as well, although most likely through the newsletter service MailChimp.  If you are not already signed up to receive the blog via email, why not?  Head on over to homestead-honey.com right now and sign up in the upper right hand corner!

I am looking forward to the flexibility of my new site, and will be working over the next months to tweak it to make it user friendly, and to offer more tools and resources on gardening, homeschooling, and living your homestead dream!

See you there! (And wish me luck!) And as always, thank you so much for reading!
Teri

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Building a Tiny House :: Siding and Tiling

It really is astounding, even for a house as simple and tiny as ours, the complexity of details, materials, and timing of building a house. For instance, in order to insulate our house with dense-pack cellulose, we first need to wire for (solar) electricity, put up the exterior siding, and install the wood stove and chimney.  To install the wood stove, the stove pipe needs to be ordered, a platform constructed, then tiled, then trimmed, then grouted, and so on and so forth.

And so Brian plugs along daily: sourcing, ordering, and gathering materials, sketching plans for electrical wiring, consulting with online forums, videos, and friends.

Occasionally, my skills come into play – making decisions, selecting materials, brainstorming the layout of the house – and even more occasionally, I have the opportunity to actually help build. I have always wanted to plug into the interior work of the house.  Truth be told, I’m just not that into framing or siding or making complex measurements.  But I love creating beautiful spaces, have a good brain for details, and I’m neat and organized.  Tiling really appeals to each of these assets.

Tiling1 Tiling2

Ta da!Tiling3

We found this gorgeous stone (possibly limestone) tile at a Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Columbia.  We were able to get two boxes for $10! In a day or two we’ll grout the tile, and then we can install our beloved wood stove.

And on the outside of the house…

Siding1 Siding2

It’s so beautiful!  This is some of the reclaimed barn wood that Brian’s been collecting and purchasing over the past few months. Some of it was ready to cut to size, but other pieces were rotting on the ends and the good parts needed to be rescued from the center.  Two sides of the house are just about complete.

Our timeline is still very tight, but we’re moving along, making good progress each day.

Out the Front Door

Snapshots and snippets of the beautiful, crazy world right out our front door.

If you’d like to share some of your own photos or a blog post, please leave a link in the comments!

Tomatoes2

Tomatoes1

One of the best parts of living in Missouri is that food just grows and grows! (Well, there are pest problems of course, but the hot days and warm nights contribute to abundant harvests). We are trying our best to take advantage of the local bounty by gleaning and buying in bulk, and preserving or storing for the winter.

We went to the local university farm last week and gleaned these gorgeous paste tomatoes.  I believe the variety is “Striped Roman.”  They are meaty, huge, and made amazing tomato sauce.  This huge pile boiled down to 8 quart jars and one large pot of pasta sauce!

Pond1

I’ve been enjoying the last days of swimming in this beautiful pond.  We have yet to have a frost, so the pond remains warm enough for quick swims (and baths), even in October!

MessyHouse

I’m kind of cheating, because this photo is technically “In” the front door, but I wanted to share a photo of the BEFORE, as we move everything out of the house in preparation for wiring, insulation, and installing our wood stove.

For the next three weeks, we will be house-sitting at a friend’s house and taking care of her gorgeous Belgian horse, Solomon.  We’ll continue to go to the land each day to work and play, but staying elsewhere will enable us to really focus on the house for the coming weeks, as cold weather is coming!

What’s happening outside your front door?

September Circle Time

Our first day of school was on the late side this year, partly because of our Labor Day vacation, and partly because I just wanted to enjoy the last days of summer.  I’ve been steadily planning and gathering resources both for our Waldorf-inspired homeschooling cooperative, and also for Kindergarten with Ella (and Preschool with Everett), and we officially began just before the Fall Equinox.

Our first day of Kindergarten was really sweet, although I have to admit, the first 5 minutes were a total disaster. Everett was crying, Ella was pouting, and I tried to “keep calm and carry on.”  After a few songs we got back on track, and by the time I lit the story candle, we were all having a great time. We worked on a craft – a dragon puppet that we used during our simple Michaelmas celebration at school (inspiration from Mamaroots).  We made the body with a simple fingerknit strand, and hand-sewed the head and tail from scraps of wool felt. With some assistance cutting the felt and preparing the needle and thread, Ella was able to work on this project fairly independently, leaving me to work on Everett’s beloved dragon.

DragonPuppets

The circle I will share below is the same one that I am leading with our homeschool cooperative.  This year we have a group of 10 children, ages almost-three to six years old.  We meet in the home of one of the families, and they have a beautiful, large, Amish built home and farm that is just perfect for our group’s needs.  We have circle time and story in the living room, flow into the dining area for hand washing and snack, and then go outdoors for games, activities, and free play.

Last year I received feedback from some of the parents that their children (particularly the 5 year old boys) needed a bit more active energy in the circle, so I’m working to bring in a balance of high energy movement, quiet fingerplays, active songs, and centering verses.  My resources are Freya Jaffke’s book Celebrating Festivals with Children, Donna Simmon’s Joyful Movement, and the Enki Kindergarten Curriculum.

September Circle
(themes: spiders, apples, seed pods, Michaelmas)

Opening
Good morning dear Earth, good morning dear Sun
Good morning dear stones, and the plants every one.

Good morning dear animals, and the birds in the trees
Good morning to you, and good morning to me!

Verse
As days grow short, hearts grow bright.
Saint Michael with his sword
Shines out against the night!

Fingerplay
Itsy Bitsy Spider

Song
Way up high in the apple tree
Two little apples smiled at me
I shook that tree as hard as I could
and down came the apples
Mmm, they were good!

Verse with movement
Here stands the apple tree, strong and green
Here are the apples that hang between
A strong wind blows and knocks them to the ground
Here is the basket to take them all to town

Active Song (sung to tune of 10 little Indians)
Hop on one foot and then the other (x3)
That’s how we hop together

Step and hop and step and hop now (x3)
Soon we will be skipping

Skip and skip around around the circle (x3)
That’s how we skip together!

Fingerplay
In a milkweed cradle, all snug and warm
Tiny seeds are hiding, safe from harm
Open up your wings now and hold them high
Come Mr. Wind and help them fly

French Circle
One of the member’s of our group is fluent in French, and leads a 5 minute French immersion with greetings (Bonjour, Ella!), songs, and movement.

Story
Our Michaelmas story was very sweet, and was drawn from this incredible resource -a free downloadable eBook, entitled An Overview of the Waldorf Kindergarten.

Zacusca! A tasty way to preserve eggplants

The first few times we went to a potluck dinner at the community down the road, we were served a savory treat called zacusca. It was brought out from the pantry in pint jars and reverently placed on the table, next to the precious homemade goat cheese. Clearly, this was something special.

We broke bread, spread goat cheese, and then topped it with zacusca.  Wow! I had never tasted anything quite like it. It’s not baba ganoush exactly, not a caponata sauce exactly, but somewhat similar.  Apparently it is Romanian in origin, and is a great way to preserve an abundant harvest of eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, and onion.

My friend Beth and I decided to tackle some zacusca this year.  We purchased two large banana boxes full of eggplant, peppers, and onion (which cost less than $13 for over 20 lbs of produce – unbelievable!) from our Amish neighbor, and got some huge paste tomatoes from another neighbor.  We followed this recipe on Food.com, but adjusted it according to the amounts of produce we had and changed around some of the directions. I figured it was hard to mess up such a dish.

Please do check out the recipe on Food.com for full instructions, but the basic gist of zacusca-making is as follows:

  • Blacken eggplant over a grill or fire
  • Dice, then saute peppers and onions
  • (I also made tomato paste, but you could easily purchase it in cans)
  • Food process EVERYTHING and then,
  • Mix thoroughly, adding salt and pepper and lots of olive oil to taste.
  • (We decided to saute the vegetables prior to food processing, so we did not cook it again)
  • Pressure can for 45 minutes in sterilized mason jars

Zacusca1 Zacusca2 Zacusca3

I have to admit: this was an enormous job. The steps for preparing each vegetable took time and effort and I was very happy to have two adults (sometimes three) on the job. But the flavor is rich, savory, and intense, perfect for use as a dip with pita, a spread for bread, or a topping for polenta or pasta. I imagine cracking open a precious jar in February and tasting the end-of-summer harvest.

Building a Tiny Home :: Little Details

Before we went on vacation at the end of August, Brian had installed the windows, doors, and tar-papered the exterior.  It was a great push, and we felt proud of the results.  Returning home, it took a week or two for us to really wrap our brains around the question, “what’s next?”  Brian began to tackle many little details that don’t really make the house look dramatically different, but that are necessary before we insulate or put up exterior siding.

HouseDetails1

For instance, these little nailers took several days to cut to length and install.

HouseDetails3

We realized that we really wanted a larger window on this south wall, not only to allow for natural lighting and solar warming, but also just to be able to see our beautiful land!  So Brian removed the small window that had been previously installed, and ordered this lovely window. So much better!

HouseDetails5

One of the fun parts of building a home is dreaming about how you want it to look and feel. Particularly because this house will be so tiny (under 350 square feet), it’s important to use every inch of space efficiently, and a lot of the decisions about wall placement need to be made now, as we build.HouseDetails2

These two walls are the only interior walls, and they will delineate the mudroom entryway from the kitchen and dining nook.  The rest of the house will have an open floor plan in the shape of an “L”. In the back right of the photo, you can also see a square that was framed in to the mudroom wall.  This will be a door into a closet that fits under the bed loft. Man, is our house a mess!HouseDetails4

The kids have caught the building fever.  This morning Ella woke up and asked me to help her pick out clothes in which she could move easily, because she wanted to work on her building.  It makes me smile so much to see the kids imitating the work that we are doing, and to be so creative in how they execute their work/play.

One question that is asked of us more and more often is, “what will you guys do when it’s cold?”  It is a challenging question. We opted not to return to the same house-sitting situation that we had last October – May, mainly because we love being on our land. But the recent cold and rain has been sort of a wake up call.  We realized that, aside from the house, there is really no dry, warm place for the kids to hang out and play (or for me to do homeschooling), and that we need several weeks where we remove EVERYTHING from the house and blow in dense pack cellulose insulation and start on the interior walls.

We decided to house sit for a friend a few miles down the road for a few weeks in October. It is our hope that we can do most of the messiest work during that time period, and then set up a situation where we will be living in a construction zone. It’s not the most ideal, but it’s what we have to work with right now.  We will be caring for a very large, very old draft horse named Solomon, and Ella is so excited to help feed him and brush him.  I am excited to have a few luxuries, like electricity to set up my sewing machine, and a freezer to store ice cream!  It’s the little things, really!

Financial Hurdles of Homesteading

A few days ago, a reader asked me this:

“How did you overcome the financial hurdles of homesteading, both starting and continuing? ….Obviously you are happily “living on less,” but you also have obvious real expenses.”

This is a huge question, one that I certainly cannot fully address in one post, but I thought I’d start plugging away at it.

Yes, homesteading can be expensive. If you are choosing to homestead on acreage, as we are, then there is the cost of land, of infrastructure like a road, or water.  There is the cost of purchasing, renting, or building your home.  There are expenses related to gardening, to preserving, to caring for livestock.  There is a never-ending list of chores and projects, most of which costs money.  Real hard-earned cash.

As many of you know, our decision to move to Missouri was largely a financial one. We loved Oregon, we love our community there, we love the ocean and the mountains and the abundant cultural opportunities.  The West Coast truly feels like home to me, and thought I’d go on living there forever.  And yet…

We had received an unexpected gift of money, partially from a relative passing away, partly a gift from family.  With this gift, we could have made a nice down payment on a small piece of land in Oregon.  For years we dreamed of purchasing the property on which we rented an adorable little cabin.  We talked to our landlord, we brainstormed with neighbors, we crunched numbers.

We slowly (and sadly) realized that we could not afford to live in Oregon (at least in that area), and continue to live the life that we value – one of hard work and hard play, one of community and connection, one of spending time with friends and family.  With two young children, our priorities had shifted dramatically, and having a livelihood that allowed one of us be at home with the kids felt really important. We began to critically evaluate how we could achieve this goal, and AND homestead in community.  And then, a piece of land next door to good friends in Northeast Missouri came up for sale.

The land was cheap. So cheap that we realized that we could purchase acreage outright, and still have some money left over to build a small home and put in some basic infrastructure.  So, we opted to make a huge move to a new state and start over debt-free, rather than stay in Oregon.

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And that is where I am going to end this post, for now.  In future posts I will detail some of the ways that we are able to make homesteading work, from our employment situation, to creative strategies to save money.

 

Shared with From the Farm Blog Hop and Homestead Bloggers Network.