How I Avoid Homestead Burnout

We are back from vacation, and it was so, so wonderful.  Honestly, some of the most perfect days – a mixture of gorgeous weather, good friends, family, amazing food, beautiful beach days, ocean life (dolphins, seals, a blue whale!!!), our kids trying new things like boogie boarding and snorkeling – all in the magical place where my husband and I met and fell in love.

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As we got ready for our trip, my personal stress level was very high. Packing for vacation is always challenging, but this time I felt particularly harried about getting the homestead ready for us to leave it in the hands of a (very capable) housesitter.  My garden was getting decimated by cabbage worms, rabbits, and drought; our “water catchment” system has not been refilled by rain in weeks, making us resort to filling up barrels at friends’ houses; Brian was hand-toting hundreds of gallons of water from the pond so we could keep plants and trees alive; and to top it off, it was 90+ degrees.  Add in rehearsals, work deadlines, two young children, and you can see how it might feel a little overwhelming.

But, thankfully, as soon as we boarded the train, my worries about our homestead evaporated, as they always do when I go away.  On our 40 hour train ride, we read books (The Man Who Quit Money and New Dawn on Rocky Ridge), listened to Sparkle Stories, watched the scenery, ate, and just recharged.  When we were on Catalina, I left my phone in our room and just played.  (It’s why I have hardly any photos!).  And when we were hanging out with my awesome sister-in-law Lynne, we just basked in her incredible hosting.

Recently, while lurking on a popular homesteading Facebook page, I read a heated discussion about balancing travel and homesteading.  There were MANY of the opinion that when you have a homestead, you should be content to stay home; that travel and homesteading simply do not mix. Of course there were some good arguments – experienced homestead sitters are hard to find and can be expensive to hire, your homestead is likely more lovely than your travel destination – but there was also a hint of judgement in some of the comments as well, suggesting that those that like to travel are just not cut out for the homesteading life.

I completely disagree with this sentiment. As much as I love my homestead with all my heart, the way I avoid homestead burnout is by leaving.  I have to get away to recharge, to be able to come back with fresh eyes and say, “Look at all we have accomplished here.” Having not done any travel all summer, it was hard to gain this perspective, and I was getting a bit mired in self-criticism for not having a bigger, better garden, or canning more, etc.

Coming back home can be a bit rocky. There are many moments where I wish to be beachfront, sipping a cocktail and eating scallops at my favorite seafood restaurant.  But a few days into our homecoming, now that I’m finally unpacked, I can envision a cold frame for fall greens, and think about planting garlic, and plot where our new sheet mulched garden should be.  I am recharged and ready to approach the next few months with renewed vision.

 

 

Super Simple Felt Balls

Today I’m bringing back one of my favorite how-to posts: making felt balls.  For those with young children, this is a perfect craft.  You can do it outdoors, the mess involves only soap and water, and kids are mesmerized by the tactile sensation of rolling fuzzy wool in soapy water. I hope you enjoy it!

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Felt balls are awesome!  They are great for throwing practice (soft – nothing gets broken!) or for open ended play. (They’re round bales of hay! No wait, they’re freshly baked rolls!)  And they are the kind of craft that is great to make outdoors on a warm sunny day.

So here’s how to do it:

1. Get yourself a nice wad of carded, clean wool.

2. Loosely form the wool into a ball.  It will shrink down, so make a bigger ball than you’d like of your finished product.

3.  Fill a bowl with the hottest soapy water that you can stand to put your hand into and roll that wool into a soapy round messy ball!

See that ball forming!  Keep rolling!

4. Now, get another bowl of very cold water.  Squeeze out the hot water and soap and immerse your ball into the cold.  Keep forming it into a ball as you go.  Alternating between the hot and cold will make your wool ball shrink and tighten.

Look!  Easy enough for an 18 month to try!

5.  Keep alternating back and forth between your hot and cold until your ball is tightly bound together.  Let dry in the sun or inside for a few days until it is completely dry.  Sometimes I like to affix loose parts of the ball with a felting needle.

Voila!

Now go throw that ball around!

Peach Peel Jelly

I am happy to welcome Heather, of The Homesteading Hippy.  Heather has such a great selection of blog posts about urban farming, canning, raising livestock, recipes.  She is also the author of two (!!) eBooks – The Urban Chicken, which I reviewed earlier this year, and a new (free) eBook called Cooking From Scratch.

Today, she shares with us her recipe for Peach Peel Jelly. Welcome, Heather!

With the “waste not, want not” mentality that I like to have and with peaches in full season, this recipe for peach peel jelly is one you’ll want to keep nearby!  First, start by getting some ripe, delicious peaches and rinsing them off.

As you are canning your peaches, and removing the skins and other parts you don’t want to can (brown spots or soft spots) save them into a large pot.  When you are done with the peaches, fill the pot with the scraps with water to cover.  Bring to a boil for 30 minutes, and then let sit covered, overnight.

The next day, strain the peachy water through a cheesecloth or jelly bag.  Don’t squeeze!  This could make your jelly cloudy.

This is what will come out…gorgeous color, right???

Take 3 cups of your peachy water and add 1 box of pectin.  Bring to a rolling boil, then add 3 cups of sugar.  Bring back to a boil and set the timer for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Spoon the foam off the top, and ladle the hot syrup into hot pint jars.  Water bath for 20 minutes, remove and let cool.  Store up to a year.

Enjoy that peachy goodness!!

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Heather of The Homesteading Hippy is living the rural life, in an urban setting.  She and her family live in a small town in Northern Indiana where they garden, keep assorted poultry and rabbits.  Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,and  Google+.

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