Guest Post: Raising Capable Children

Today’s guest post is by Angi Schneider, of Schneiderpeeps.com. I have reviewed her eBook The Gardening Notebook here on Homestead Honey, and enjoy reading her posts about gardening, recipes, crafting, and more.  Today she shares her perspective on a topic that is near and dear to my own heart – involving children in the work of the homestead.  Welcome, Angi!

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One of the things I love about visiting Homestead Honey is seeing how involved the children are in the homesteading process. As a mom of older children it’s really exciting to see young parents allowing and encouraging their children to be by their side as they go about their work. 

My own children are 19,17,15, 13, 11….and 4. Over the years we’ve tried really hard to include our children in our work. It isn’t always easy. In fact, when they are really young it’s so much easier to just do the work ourselves. However, we’ve found that as our children grow so does their ability to help.

Their abilities don’t just help us, they also help them. My boys are regularly called on by men in our church to work for them. In fact, one man hired the 17 and 15 year old to cut down a tree. When a friend found out that they were using a chainsaw and neither my husband or the man was there, she asked, “Is that even legal?” I don’t know, but they’ll be fine as they’ve cut down lots of trees with their dad. They’ve been taught how to properly handle a chainsaw. 

 

 

Another benefit of having children help you in your work is that they feel capable. We live in a culture that tends to be treat children as if they will always be children. Then we’re surprised when they’re adults and act like children. Children who are encouraged to work alongside their parents learn how to make decisions. They learn how to figure out what to do when something goes wrong.

 

But it’s not just in the area of work that these things happen, it’s also in the area of crafting. As I type this my 4 year old is working on a woven hot pad. It’s hard work for a 4 year old. She still needs help making sure she goes over, then under. She wants to make something useful and is proud every time we use one of her hot pads. 
Young children delight in working next to their parents.  And if you wait until your children are old enough to really be helpful to include them they probably won’t want to be included. 
I want to encourage you that if you aren’t used to having your children work or craft beside you that you gently begin to encourage it.  I think you’ll both be glad you did.

Angi Schneider is a minister’s wife and homeschool mom to 6 amazing children.  She writes about their adventures at SchneiderPeeps and is the author of The Gardening Notebook.

Berkey Giveaway!

I know I said I was going on vacation, but then I was invited to participate in this great giveaway opportunity for a Go Berkey filtration system.  As many of you know, we have been catching rainwater this summer and filtering our drinking water through a stainless steel Big Berkey filter. I was a bit skeptical at first, wondering how a filter could transform rainwater that sits in barrels for weeks (and gets a algae-laden) into water that I’d enjoy drinking, but it truly is amazing.

So I’m happy to share this giveaway, sponsored by Berkey Clean Water and Homestead Bloggers Network (of which I’m a member).

Go Berkey Giveaway Bundle. $235 value.The Go Berkey system is perfect for outdoor trips, an emergency kit, or an office desk. Since it’s small and portable, it’s perfect for really small kitchens that have limited counter space. Hmmm….

Here is some more information about the awesome companies and bloggers bringing us this giveaway, and a bit more of the nitty gritty details.  And for full disclosure, I am in no way being compensated for this post.  Just sharing the love, cause I think my Berkey filter is really great, and I’d love for one of my readers to have an opportunity to win!

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Meet Our Sponsors!

BerkeyCleanWater.com is giving away a Go Berkey system. You can learn all about the system here. This is the perfect on-the-go system for your camping, hiking, picnic and outdoor trips. You can put it right into your backpack and it’s going to filter any water, anywhere.

The Go Berkey Kit includes a gravity water purifier with 1 Black Berkey purification element and a generic Sport Berkey portable water purifier and vinyl carry case. The
system is worth $150.

Learn more about Berkey Filters
Berkey Water filter Fact Sheets
Berkey Clean Water Blog
Top 3 Products from Berkey: Berkey Light, Travel Berkey and Go Berkey

MomPrepares.com is one of the host blogs for this giveaway and is contributing to the
prize bundle with a Coleman Speckled Enamelware Dining Kit (Red) that you can use for those camping/hiking trips! It even has pretty little mugs to serve up your Berkey-filtered water!

Timber Creek Farm and The Adventure Bite have teamed up to give away the Glacier Stainless JavaPress, an awesome stainless steel French press coffee maker for your trip. Simply fill with your favorite grounds and fresh clean water from your Berkey and you’re all set for some of the best coffee you’ve ever tasted.

Imagineacres has the perfect mug to drink that Berkey-filtered, french press made coffee out of. And what’s better? Mercer the Mug will scare off any little critters that come to your
campsite, while bringing a big smile to your face. Let’s just say, you’ll have the most unique mug at camp.

Lille Punkin’ is contributing to the prize bundle with a subscription to GRIT Magazine! So, now you have something to read while you’re huddled by the fire, drinking coffee!

More Participating Blogs
Untrained Housewife
Homestead Honey
Colored Egg Homestead
Joybilee Farm
Learning and Yearning

How to Enter

Go to http://homesteadbloggersnetwork.com/berkey-clean-water-a-giveaway/ and use the Rafflecopter widget to enter this giveaway!

Open to residents of the US. Giveaway ends Oct 7th at 12:00 AM CST. Winner will be chosen randomly using the Rafflecopter widget. Once winner’s entry method has been confirmed, the winner will be contacted via email and given 24 hours to respond. If no response is given, another winner will be chosen.

This giveaway is organized by the Homestead Bloggers Network and sponsored by the company and blogs listed above.

Building a Tiny House: Framing, Windows and Doors!

A few weeks ago, Brian set an ambitious goal of framing and installing all of the doors and windows before we left for vacation (this Wednesday night). And, with the help of many hands, we are a few door hinges away from meeting this goal!  The house is really taking shape, and although it’s certainly not going to be a finished product when we move in this fall, we can now begin to imagine ourselves tucked in for the winter, all the while tackling interior finish work.

Before I share a few photos, I must say that none of this would have been possible without the help of my in-laws Ron and Ann.  While they visited us for three weeks, Ron and Ann tirelessly helped us work on the homestead, as they often do.  Ron hauled bucket after bucket of water from the pond so I could keep the garden alive, helped Brian install the sub-floor, insulation, and nailers, and grilled up some fierce salmon; while Ann washed dishes after each meal, hung all of our laundry, read book after book to Ella and Everett so Brian and I could work, and kept a constant supply of ice cream in her RV’s freezer.  Although this is “our house,” none of it would be possible without their help, and we’re so very appreciative.

I also have to correct a mistake on my part. For some reason, I’ve been telling you that our house is going to be 200 square feet, and that is just not correct!  It’s closer to 18 x 19 feet, so about 350 square feet.  Still tiny for four people!

All that said, here is an update on our building progress:

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We were very fortunate to have gotten this 3 inch rigid foam insulation for free, thanks to a new friend and fellow builder.  Brian and Ron installed the insulation and then a sub-floor of local cottonwood, which you can see below.

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Framing! It was so fun to stand in the house and imagine looking out our future windows.  This one looks north into the lovely forest behind our house.

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Our tar paper crew – Brian and his parents.

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Windows! We decided to hire our friend and neighbor Beth to help install the windows.  We purchased the two windows seen above at a Habitat ReStore, and the rest at Bayview Building Supply in Quincy, IL, which sells overstock and mis-ordered new windows at a discount price.

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All wrapped up! This sweet little house just needs its reclaimed barn wood siding and it will look so very cute.

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As I mentioned above, we are heading out of town this week, for a long-awaited vacation to the place where Brian and I met – Catalina Island (the island of romance!).  I have several blog posts lined up for you while I’m gone – a guest post from my friend Heather of The Homesteading Hippy, and one of my favorite crafty how-to posts from last summer.  I will still pop in from time to time on Facebook, so “like” the Homestead Honey page and follow our adventures!

Wishing you a wonderful week!Teri

Out the Front Door :: Melons

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!

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Everett holds our first Prescott Fond Blanc Melon (above and below)

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Banana melon really does look and taste like a banana! 

Do you grow melons?  If so, you probably can relate to the absolute wonder of walking out into your garden, picking a ripe melon, and letting its warm, sweet juice drip down your chin and fingers.

My garden in Oregon did not get full sun exposure because we lived in a narrow valley.  Plus, a year-round creek flowed through our backyard, making the garden micro-climate a bit cooler than our neighbors up the hill.  Melons and other hot weather crops were a real challenge to grow.  I was able to grow extremely small, short season cantaloupe in the greenhouse, which were certainly delicious, but not abundant.

I was so excited to try a variety of heirloom melons this summer.  The hot days and moderate nights, humidity, and full sun make for great melon growing conditions.  I selected over a dozen varieties from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and off they grew.

Selecting a ripe melon is still not something I excel at (for instance, the Prescott Fond Blanc above was a tad bit underripe), but my general understanding is that a ripe melon should be fragrant, the base should have a little “give” when pressed with your fingers, and the melon should slip easily from the vine.  The Banana melon grew to its enormous size within the first month, then sat there, unchanging for weeks, while I wondered when in the world it would be ripe. Suddenly, the color began to change from a light green to a light yellow, and finally to a bright yellow. The stem began to separate from the fruit, and a heavenly scent was noticeable.  In two days, it was ready to pick!

Next year, one of my goals is to create a larger space dedicated to melons.  I am hooked!

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What is happening out your front door?  Do share below!

Guest posting

Just wanted to pop in briefly to let you know that I’m guest posting on my friend Dani’s blog The Adventure Bite today. I am sharing a bit of background about our “big move” from Oregon to Missouri, and how it challenged us to leave a safe and comfortable life behind and leap into the unknown.  I really enjoyed reflecting back on that period of discernment, and articulating the process behind our decision.

If you haven’t already checked out Dani’s blog, be sure to jump on over there and look around.  In addition to writing about backyard farming and hosting the popular From the Farm Blog Hop, Dani shares a number of tasty and beautiful recipes, such as her Sweet Mascarpone Peach Tart (which was included in my Peach Recipe round up), and a German Pancake Pizza (yum!!).

My post can be found here.

Have a wonderful day,
Teri

Living Outdoors: A Day in the Life

I bet you’re wondering how a family of four lives on their homestead while they’re building a house, right?  I’d be curious too.  Where do we sleep?  Where do we eat?  Where do we poop? Come with me today, on a little adventure – A Day in the Life…       DayinLife1

We sleep in a borrowed pop-up tent trailer.  Circa 1980, it is literally falling apart at the seams, but has kept us warm and dry (mostly).  We each have a Rubbermaid bin of clothes, and our personal belongings that are not stored at the red shop are tucked into various cracks and crevices.

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The chickens greet the day with some pecking and scratching around our picnic table. One morning, a few weeks ago, I went off to teach choreography at a performing arts camp, and returned a few hours later to this lovely table.  Back in Oregon, Brian had milled up a cedar tree from the land, carted its wood all the way to Missouri, and finally crafted the boards into the picnic table they were always meant to be.  That picnic table is where we dine.

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Kitchen time!  I honestly feel like I spend most of my time in the outdoor kitchen, washing dishes, firing up the rocket stove for cooking, and more recently, preserving food (I’m loving this conversation about canning on the HH Facebook page).

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Charging up the various electronic items.  We have really loved these Ikea solar lamps. They need a few hours a day to charge, but they have been so useful for nighttime reading or just getting the kids ready for bed (not to mention nighttime tick-checks). We currently have a smart phone, so we are able to interface with the internet world on the land, although my big computer sits at a friend’s house.

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How Brian spends most of his time….framing!

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A poo with a view!  It’s our super-duper pooper!  Yes, we poop in a bucket.  And then we sprinkle it with sawdust.  And then it goes into a big old pile of poops that came before it, and it gets composted down into a big pile of humanure.  And we will use it, when it’s fully composted, likely on trees and shrubs.

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And here is how I spend my time lately – in the garden, watering and tending my new fall plantings.  If you look very closely, you’ll see a big black tub with a tiny boy.  That’s our “bathtub,” filled with pond water.  It’s great for hot days, not so great when it’s cold.  I like to mix up my personal hygiene with black tub baths and trips to the hot showers at the YMCA.

So there you have it.  A day of eating, cooking, working, cleaning, and pooping on our hilltop homestead.  If you have specific questions about how this all works, leave me a question in the comments, and I will do my best to answer!

 

Waldorf Homeschool Planning Thoughts

Happy Friday!  It is another gorgeous Missouri summer day.  We have been so blessed by the weather this summer – days in the high 70’s, clear skies.  While I do wish for a bit more rain to fill our water catchment barrels, I am so grateful to be living outdoors in comfortable conditions.

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In fact, this morning, there was a bit of a chill in the air, and I found myself putting on long pants, wool socks, and a hat!  A tiny hint of fall.  And no matter how many years its been since I was last in school (not really all that long ago!), cool crisp fall-like weather always gets me thinking about school. This year, I will be doing kindergarten at home with Ella (and Everett gets to tag along).  I had many good intentions to start last year, but with the move and house-building, I just never really did much.

This year I am committing to 2 sessions per week of Kindy, and to help me plan and implement, I just signed up for Lisa at Celebrate the Rhythm of Life‘s Planning e-Course, which starts next Monday.  My general plan is to create weekly or bi-weekly themes, such as “Tomatoes”, “Apples”, “Fall Leaves”, and to center stories, songs, crafts, food, and excursions around these themes. But that’s about as far as I’ve gotten, and I’m really looking forward to this course as motivation to get some solid details in place for the fall months.

Our little Waldorf-inspired homeschool cooperative has not yet manifested our perfect teacher, so this weekend we parents will begin the process of planning and preparing for the year ahead.  It is an exciting time, open to new possibility, and also a bit daunting – how will we successfully meet the needs of each of the 11 children, ranging in age from 15 months – 6 years? How will we busy parents find the time to coordinate and create an experience that is meaningful and rich for the children, and for ourselves?

I am a subscriber to Carrie’s blog, The Parenting Passageway, and I love the gentle wisdom and encouragement she shares.  I found this post on How to Grow a Homeschool Group so helpful.  Our group is just at the point that Carrie talks about – oldest child is 5 or 6 years old, and folks are antsy to get started.  Our members are highly skilled in consensus decision-making and non-violent communication, and we use these tools in our meetings to get us through any challenging moments.

I look forward to sharing my progress in the coming months, and I am truly interested in hearing from you as well!
Warmly,
Teri

Out the Front Door

Snapshots of the beautiful, crazy world right out our front door.
If you’d like to share some of your own photos, please leave a link in the comments!

FirstEggs

First Dozen!  When five out of ten of our spring chicks turned out to be roosters, we went back to the local hatchery for some older chicks, and came home with two (already laying) year-old White Rocks. After a two-week adjustment period, they resumed laying, and we’ve been happily collecting two eggs per day ever since!  Last night, one decided to get all broody on that day’s eggs, and Ella is really hoping for chicks.

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Some days, you just have to go with the flow (and I wonder why it’s so hard for me to make a “schedule”!). When our Amish neighbor Jacob dropped by in the morning, asking us if we wanted to buy sweet corn, how could we refuse?  Six dozen ears, and four hours later, I had prepared 8 quarts of corn for the freezer.

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Rigid foam insulation!  A new friend at Red Earth Farms Community Land Trust hooked us up with this (free!) reclaimed foam insulation for the living room and bedroom areas.  What a gift!  It has since been covered with local cottonwood sub-floor (full update next week).  With Brian’s dad here for a visit, work is going doubly fast, and for this we are so grateful!

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What is happening out your front door?

Planting a Fall Garden

When the temperatures are in the high 80’s, it’s hard to think about a fall garden.  After all the work that goes into planting, tending, harvesting, and preserving the summer garden, do I really want to do it all over again?

For me, the answer is always yes.  Living in Zone 5b, I am really able to get three plantings in per year: in early spring, summer, and fall.  Fall crops tend to be of the green variety – lettuce, spinach, chard, kale, broccoli, cabbage – and the root variety – beets, carrots, radish, parsnips.  But in truth, I just re-sowed zucchini to see what would happen!  After all, the average first frost date is not until October 10th.

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A new zucchini planting, with dill, chard, and cilantro behind.

When we arrived in Missouri in late October last year, I quickly realized that I was not going to be able to get the fresh, local, organic, and year-round produce that I had grown accustomed to the in Willamette Valley of Oregon.  I hastily made a round of phone calls to local farmers, but was told that their season was pretty much over, and if I wanted to come buy some turnips, I was welcome (in retrospect, I should have bought up those turnips!)

This year, I know my garden will not feed us all winter long – it is too small, and the sheet mulched beds are not the best for root crops. Still, I have been busily and carefully sowing, tending, and planting in every little open spot that I have available.

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Tucking kale into beds.  I planted Siberian and Red Russian, mainly.

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Just for fun, a few rows of beets and carrots in a particularly well composted raised bed.  Our family, particularly the two little ones, LOVES beets, so I hope they do well!

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A bed of brassicas and chard, with lettuce and mesclun mix sown in between.  I have been challenged by cabbage moths, so I’m trying various deterrents, including these crushed up eggshells.

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Prepping new bed space.  We are fortunate to have an unlimited supply of composted horse manure, so I’ve been adding heaping piles, then topping it with a chicken manure fertilizer, and mulching with straw.  I’m going to try to fit a few cabbages into these spots, in hopes that they will be able to inhabit space as the tomatoes and peppers die back.

It truly is a joy for me to spend these hours in the garden, preparing the beds for the coming cool weather.  And it’s also a joy to support the local farmers in my area, from whom I will probably buy a stock of beets, winter squash, carrots, and yes, turnips.

Are you planting a fall garden?  What do you have growing?

In the Garden: Trellises

When you have a small garden, as I do right now, one great way to use space efficiently is to think vertically.  Trellises can be a wonderful tool in your garden – allowing plants to climb up, instead of trailing along the ground.

In my garden, I like to trellis not only climbing plants like peas and pole beans, but also my cucumbers and indeterminate tomato varieties. I like that trellises are not only functional – for instance, preventing disease by maximizing air flow, keeping fruits off the dirt and closer to eye level for easier harvesting, and raising fruits and vegetables away from ground-dwelling insects – but they are also beautiful, creating three dimensional interest in the garden.

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This trellis, crafted by my artist blacksmith husband, supported a black-capped raspberry in our Oregon garden. It came with us to Missouri, where it was intended for a lush and bountiful pole bean crop in Ella’s garden bed.  But pests had other plans and our bean crop has failed miserably.

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When I first learned about crafting an arched trellis out of cattle panels, I was hooked.  I imagined my indeterminate tomatoes climbing freely over the arch, creating a lovely shaded pathway below.

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And while the arches are really quite cool, the tomatoes have not quite reached the towering heights I was anticipating. I chalk it up to a first year garden.  But, this trellis is really sturdy, easy to install, and will last for many years.

Next year, I believe I will use one of them for my cucumbers, which are bountiful and overtaking sections of the garden. Clearly, this trellis was not tall enough. (The cuke variety that is totally rocking out is Delikatesse, from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds).

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In Oregon, we had a wonderful 20 x 50 foot greenhouse that was such a joy in the rainy winter months.  Because we lived in a small valley with few hours of full sun exposure, it was very important that we planted our warm weather crops in a hoop house of some sort.  Working with the structural support of the greenhouse, we would tie string onto our tomato plants, and wind them up the taught string.  I pruned them heavily, so they’d put more energy into fruit production.  It was a labor-intensive method, but yielded great results.

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Trellises require a bit of extra effort at the start – building, creating, and guiding plants up the trellis, but the support they provide, and the texture they add to the garden are, in my mind, worth it.

How do you use trellises in your garden? 

Chime in here, or on the Homestead Honey Facebook page!

This post was shared on the Homestead Bloggers Network and From the Farm Blog Hop.