My friends and readers, I am hopping over to my other blog for awhile. It has quite a different vibe and I hope you will join me on my blog, CreatingLaBelleVie.com. If you enjoy my writings, please sign up by email or follow in Reader. I hope you enjoy this story written by our little goat kid…
It was a cold blustery night when our mum said we had to be out by morn, as she’d had enough of our kicking and carrying on. So, reluctantly we left her warm womb. She gave us milk from her warm tits and kept us close. The people came to check on us and two young lads were oft reprimanded for picking us up and lugging us about. They’d put us down and we’d scamper back to our mum’s soft fur. There were other babes around the barn as well. We were all quite content.
Three days later my brothers and cousins and I were brought indoors and put into a kennel. The house was warm as we all piled into a heap and fell asleep. We heard murmurs from afar; something about us being boys and that we must go. I wondered where we were going.
The shelves are still empty. Yes, at the store, but I am talking about my own pantry. I slacked the last two years canning and it shows! Not a tomato jar in sight. The pasta sauces at the store are sub-par, in my opinion, and my own are gone. This pasta sauce is fast and delicious. So much so that I think I will stop canning spaghetti sauce and start canning crushed tomatoes!
Just Like You Been Cookin’ All Day Pasta Sauce
Pour a few tablespoons of great olive into a pan.
Saute two or three cloves of minced garlic for a few minutes.
Pour in a 28 ounce jar of crushed tomatoes (I typically love Muir Glen tomatoes plain, but this is all that was on the shelf and it works just fine.)
Pour in a splash of good red wine.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Let simmer while the pasta cooks, stirring often.
This sauce is delicious topped with Violife “Parmesan.” If you haven’t tried it, it’s a game changer. Never a better time to go vegan.
It figures that three different neighbors wanted to come out and talk to me yesterday as I was painting. I had chosen items of clothing that a little paint wouldn’t bother. So I brushed pumpkin orange paint onto the chicken coop whilst wearing red and green Christmas pajama bottoms, purple galoshes, a tie-dye shirt, a Mexican woven hoodie (until it got too hot), and a big, floppy yellow sun hat.
1- Paint Outbuildings and Trim
If it is going to be over 45 degrees for most of the day, go on out and paint. Sheds, chicken coops, window sills, and barns all need a little touch up or full paint job and this time of year is a perfect time to do it as we gear up for farming season.
I only had enough paint to do three sides of my chicken coop so I will finish it next week. It will be quite a transformation!
2- Create trellises
Darned if I could find the twine, so I grabbed leftover yarn from a Christmas project. It will work just fine. Peas are light so they don’t need a heavy frame to grow on. Dowels and twine (or yarn) work well to create a trellis for peas. Ideally, trellises will be put into the garden before the seeds are planted, or if you forgot (like me), then before the plants begin to sprout.
Dowels will go every four to six feet along rows of peas. Two or three rows of string are knotted on. Dowels and string can be reused year after year or disassembled and used for something altogether different.
3- Keep planting cold crops
A great friend of mine read my post about planting spring crops and she went out to plant but decided against it in case of frost. We have all been so ingrained that planting before the last frost date shall bring devastation and dead plants, but some plants aren’t bothered in the least by a little frost or a bit of snow. They prefer it to hot temperatures. Hot temps make them bolt (go to seed), so y’all get out there and plant your spring crops! Click here to see the list of plants to plant now.
Based on the recommendations on the back of the package, I will plant every two weeks. If the seed packet says to plant as soon as the soil can be worked, then plant early. Otherwise it will say mid-spring or late spring.
4- Take care of your plant starts
If you haven’t started your tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants indoors, better hop to it! Mine have sprouted already. Mist well with a water bottle every few days if they are covered. Once they outgrow their cover, take it off and check moisture regularly. They should be lightly damp, but certainly not soaked.
5- Prepare garden beds for summer
But, it’s only April 1st, you say? Y’all know how fast time goes and in six sweet weeks all of the summer crops are going in at practically the same time, and six weeks goes by pretty fast. It sure is nice to have beds ready to go.
I love Spring and if it is a nice day out, I just want to be outside soaking up lost Vitamin D from my winter indoors. Spring is filled with hope and joy…and sore muscles and projects! What are you working on right now?
Well, I finally did it! It took me a year, but I pulled the plug on social media. Never would I have imagined that it would become so addictive. I do not usually have issues with addiction. I can have a cigar once every five years or a glass of wine with friends and then go for a long time without. I can have a cup of coffee…oh never mind, bad example. But social media was a whole other poison.
It seemed so innocent, didn’t it? I can reconnect with friends from seventh grade! (Did I have friends in seventh grade?) Our family can reconnect! (Maybe that wasn’t a good idea.) But really it just brings out the worst in people and becomes a popularity contest. It isn’t much different than high school. Will people like me? Will they care about what I am doing? Don’t I have a prettier picture than this? Oh, here’s one from ten years ago, that’ll work! Inevitably sad when someone close to me (or not close to me) responds with a rude comment or blocks me. (My niece blocked me after the last election.) The funny memes have been going around so many times that I stopped laughing.
I looked up the other day from my screen, upset and anxious over all the Covid-19 posts and political bashing, and realized that I have wasted hours- no years!- on this damn thing. People started fighting on one of my posts and the whole thing just needed to go. Addiction done. I wondered why I stuck around so long. All my photographs are probably the biggest factor. I let someone else (Facebook) hold onto my life and records for me. And boredom, I guess. An hour can go pretty quick scrolling. I always end up anxious after a bout of scrolling. I could have been out laughing at the baby goats, or reading a good magazine, or read a chapter of my book, or write, or bake, or hell, do something! Sit outside and look at the mountains. Find some peace.
My real friends call me anyway. My penpals are a postage stamp away. The small sect of people close to us already know our political, spiritual, and personal views and are rarely surprised. They check in on us. 80% of my huge family hangs on by a thread on social media. In the real world there isn’t time to keep up with 364 friends and family. We have forgotten what real relationships look like and feel like. It is time to reconnect. Not by keyboard, but by phone, or email, or over tea. It is time to fill my moments with joy. At the end of my life, I might regret the wasted time and irritation of social media. Better head outside to view the world. Real life is happening right here.
My email is Katie@PumpkinHollowFarm.net if y’all want to be penpals, I would love to exchange addresses.
Five pounds of smoky, rich local coffee beans are a comfort to have. We still have 3/4 of a fifty pound bag of organic, unbleached flour. We have lots of wheat gluten and jars upon jars of pulses, like barley, rice, and pinto beans. Did we know that there would be a worldwide pandemic? Yes and no. We knew there would be something, and it is just a smart way to live. To be prepared. It is as comforting as a big cup of hot coffee on a cool spring morning.
We homestead for many reasons. Everyone knows that the power can go out at any time. Job losses and lay offs happen. Natural disasters happen. People get sick. But we don’t just homestead for disaster preparedness; there are other reasons too.
We homestead to save money. A five pound bag of organic coffee is $60, recently roasted locally and the beans are sourced sustainably and fair trade. A fifty pound bag of flour is about fifty bucks. That is a stellar price for organic, unbleached flour. Organic is very important to us and we would like items that we can’t produce ourselves to be fairly and sustainably grown and sold.
We also save money by preserving our own food. I save scraps from vegetables, the ends of onions, carrots, celery, leeks, mushrooms, veggies that are just turning, and make them into savory jars of broth. I make fourteen jars at a time for free, basically. I guess the lids cost a couple of bucks. A quart of organic vegetable broth in the store is a minimum of five dollars. I have jars of broth at the ready for cheaper than a Walmart special.
By having pulses and foods on hand, we eat out a lot less because we have food here. It is all displayed in beautiful canning jars and is easy to see and be inspired by.
We homestead for better food. By growing our own food, we control what is used to produce it, how it is handled, when it is harvested, and its freshness. And to have food. I suppose a lot of y’all are going to have a garden this year after seeing so many empty grocery store shelves! We have fresh eggs (we are vegan outside of that), plenty of grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and vegetables canned and frozen.
We have candles, lamp fuel, water in jugs, cleaning products, a bag of homemade soap, and craft projects for days. But here is what I have learned from this quarantine.
We need to save more money. Well, we need to save money period. All our bills are paid and we have everything we need but in these situations, an emergency fund would be more of a comfort than a cup of coffee.
We need to preserve more food. Last year we moved before harvest time. The year before I started a shop that promptly closed, but took up all my time during harvest season. Luckily I had canned a lot before that, but geez, no more slacking! I usually put up a couple hundred jars of food a year. This year I have a lofty goal of over five hundred jars of food and several gallon bags of frozen vegetables. I am also growing and/or buying a lot of things to dry and dehydrate.
We need to figure out how to save more water. We will look into rain barrels and ways to save drinking water this year in case of emergency. Right now, with our animals, we have maybe two day’s worth saved. Not enough!
Homesteading is an adventure. One can do it from anywhere. Joining a community garden, buying produce from a farmer’s market, canning in an apartment, saving jugs of water under the bed, learning to sew, getting a few oil lamps, buying second hand; the ways are endless. We gradually improve our ways of homesteading by experience. This year will be our most ambitious farm yet and this quarantined time has showed us what we need to focus on. I hope something good will come out of this time for all of you out there. How are you homesteading? What skills will you learn this year?
The governor issued a Stay at Home order until April 11th. I was livid. I was supposed to go see my granddaughters this weekend. We have three birthdays coming up (including mine). We have celebrations and a life to live. And now we can live it in the living room alone. I was mad. In 2009, the swine flu took 10% of its victims. I was preparing medicine for many who had it while they waited in my home- I without fear- because social media was still new and we didn’t have the mass panic and election year, so it didn’t garner all this nonsensical attention. Covid-19 isn’t going anywhere, and the longer it takes for us to face it, the longer it will take for us to gain immunity and the longer it will take people to get back to work. Because, you know, the landlords aren’t closed. (Imagine me storming around the kitchen seething.) Anyways, it wasn’t my prettiest moment of depression, and of course, out of the blue, two of my best friends called me back to back, because we are all connected, quarantine or not.
“Everyone has a different perspective,” Tina said, “For some, like you, this seems crazy, but to someone else, they might finally be able to breathe.” People are able to step out of society as it is and take a break and restore in the comfort of their homes.
This too shall pass.
I think of my great-grandparents during the depression and compare it to today with empty grocery store shelves and job losses every minute. But hopefully we can recover more quickly. This isn’t the end of the world. I know people are scared. I know the media is having a great time. I know that viruses will always come to steal the breath of our loved ones for as long as we are on this planet. What I need to know is how to cope right now. The laundry stares at me, goat poop laden towels, dishes and dust and dirty floors. I like my little breaks from being a housewife, but here we are, 24-7. I need a new perspective. Perspective changes everything.
My husband is working from home. We joke about traffic in the hall and the two crazy drivers (the kittens) that might cut you off. I don’t have to pack his lunch. We get to have lunch together each day and his commute is thirty seconds.
The gorgeous spring blue sky stretches over the globe of western prairie and crests over the mountains that surround my little farm and I can breathe here. I can hoe some rows, run with goats, look for eggs, play with the dog, water the garden.
I can curl up on the couch and caress the soft fur of a cat while reading one of the many books I snagged from the library right before they closed down. I can listen to records or bake a pie. Or do nothing at all. (Which of course just makes me more antsy.)
I can talk to loved ones on the phone. I can write letters. I can catch up with people that I care about. And those that love me will catch up with me too. There are an awful lot of “friends” on social media, but this quarantine time will show us our true family.
I will have time to pray and write and think and organize or nap and bottle feed goats. I will have time with my husband. I will have time.
Vanessa called right after Tina. She was sitting on the porch with her children listening to the owls hooting in the trees and enjoying the warm spring evening at sunset. The natural world goes on.
And in the end, we will all remember this year and we will all have extra toilet paper on hand. The seed companies will be bustling with orders. And we will appreciate all the more coffee with friends, hugs from children and grandchildren, and freedom.
In the meantime, stay well out there. What are you all doing during this time at home? Please comment!
In the wee hours of night, she fought on. She was very brave. All mothers are very brave, but she was weary to her very core. Little strength left in her tired eyes. She was then wheeled in for a Cesarean. I held her hand as the doctors violently freed the little boy from her womb. And in the early hours of a new day, a child’s cry filled the space between hope and fear.
In other rooms of the hospital, and in places all over the world, souls gave up their spot on this precious earth to give space for these new souls. It is their honor to do so. They do not complain, for we all honor our time here and we honor the next generations to take our place. And we send the world our blessings as we go back home.
We fight awfully hard not to die. We fear it. It is our natural instinct. But the natural order of things says that we will die. That we are here for an allotted time. I truly believe that we have an already determined amount of time here and nothing will stop death from coming once it is time. On the other hand, if it is not your time to die, nothing can take your breath from you. No one wants to die, and no one wants their friends and family to die either. Those things we cannot stop. One cannot determine the hours of another person’s life. We cannot trick death into not coming.
Fear makes humankind rather ugly. Fear is the very face of greed (fear of loss), hate (fear of the unknown), and anger (fear of powerlessness). The flip side of fear is love. The love in a mother’s eyes as she holds her new life to her breast.
People need each other. People need to be social. It is written in our genetics. Loneliness causes disease and depression. They need to feel love. Love is our medicine, you know. Not fear.
There is a ratio of consequence and natural order in everything that happens on the earth. There will always be population control through natural disasters and disease. We assist these things with our actions. We drill for oil and earthquakes follow in their wake. We pollute, cut down trees, and steal our own oxygen. We give up our own abilities to grow our own food and hand our very life to corporations to care for us, not seeing the folly in depending on foreign material items, lab food, and faulty pharmaceuticals. We assure ourselves that the lights will always be on if we pay our bills, water always there, grocery store shelves always stocked. The worst diseases in the last dozen years have come from places where animals are grown for meat. The swine flu, the bird flu, and Covid-19 would not have existed if the world had embraced love over animal flesh. (Just a note- autoimmune issues generally go away once someone goes vegan.)
In the end, we learn, like our grandparents did, to reuse foil. To bake our own bread. To plant seeds. To love our loved ones with all our hearts, as we never know their time of death. We prepare and have grocery stores in our root cellars (and maybe a stash of toilet paper for next time!) and we will all get through this. We will make better choices. Hopefully.
But do not fear for those who give up their places here. It is how it has always been and always will be. Trust and have faith. Do not let fear guide your heart. Appreciate your moments and breaths here. And next time you see a newborn baby, smile and welcome the little soul to our planet. Hope is in their message. We are all going to be alright.
Welcome Bode Jace Griffin, born 1:54 am on March 23, 2020. 7 lbs 14 oz, 20 inches long, adorable and a ray of hope. My friend/his mama, Savanna and her baby are doing wonderful.
Over 86,000 people have survived Coronavirus. Most of them had a mild cold. Over 80% of elders over 80 years old survived Coronavirus. 98% of people who get Coronavirus will be just fine. Focus on love of all creatures. It is our medicine.
It was nearly five years ago. As we stood outside in the dirt of the prairie, the wind howling, watching our animals being trucked away one by one to new homes, tears ran down our faces. We were leaving the world of farmers and joining the world of the homeless. We prayed that one day we would be able to hold a baby goat again, to feel the breeze around us as we surveyed our vegetable gardens, to hear a rooster crowing as the sun rose over the horizon somewhere in the country.
We moved from friend’s house to friend’s house, diligently working, to apartment, to owning a home in the city, to homesteading that piece of land (not able to have goats in the city), working harder, purchasing land in the country. Our own. Our own land in the country. Where we could have goats.
Doug was insistent that we adopt boys. Boys are fairly useless in the traditional farming model. A few will become studs or maybe a lucky wether will be a companion animal, but by and large, boys are meat. And if there is not enough demand for goat’s meat, they are thrown in dumpsters. It was hard to choose who to save.
So, these two will be wethered (neutered) and will hopefully live a long, happy life prancing around the farm, entertaining visitors and being apart of the family. I was worried about our Great Pyrenees, how he would take to them. He sniffed them thoroughly, then went off to protect the fortress. They will all be just fine.
We are all smiles, babies in our arms, bottles in the fridge. Feels like a farm.
Starting seeds at home is a great way to try grow many different plants and be able to get a jump start on the season. Tomato starts, for example, can be pricey, and if you are planning on canning 200 jars of tomatoes, you are going to need a fair amount of plants. Being able to grow certain varieties that are not available in nurseries is another benefit. Every year the wind knocks some of my dried chile pods off my ristras from Taos, New Mexico, and the seeds shatter. This year I planted them alongside other chilies I am starting from seed. Mmm, delicious, homegrown red chile!
This here blog is filled with every bit of information you could ever want to learn about homesteading, farming, animal care, and self reliance, but I will tell you a secret…it is built on years of failures! Can’t learn until you kill ten dozen seedlings with root rot, right? I have written about different ways to start seeds every year, and they all work, but anymore, I am keeping it simple. One year I bought a very expensive grow light to start all my seeds. My children were teenagers at the time and one of them sold it to some kids so they could grow pot. Luckily, one doesn’t need a grow lamp to start seeds! You just need a sunny window, some recycled containers, and potting soil.
I never throw away salad containers with lids, they work amazing as mini-greenhouses!
You can also save tin cans and punch a few holes in the bottom. These work well because the plant can grow in them all the way up until it is time to transplant to the garden. The less you can disturb the plant the better, so I tend to use larger receptacles.
I even utilized old drawers from a broken refrigerator. They are clear so I can see how the roots are doing, if enough light reaches the plant, and I can plant many seeds in one container.
I use potting soil instead of seed starting medium because I don’t have to transplant as quickly. The seeds germinate just fine and grow well. Purchase organic potting soil. Fill containers 3/4 of the way with soil and pour water over. Let the soil soak it up (it can hold a lot of water) and stir well, adding more soil or more water to make it evenly damp.
Seeds love to grow. Plant one or two seeds every three inches. I generally only plant one. That way I don’t waste seeds. I like to save some of the seeds to direct plant in case something goes awry with the seed starting endeavor (cats, lack of sun, over-watered…).
I plant things that need a longer growing season, like peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant. I planted paprika, red chilies, green chilies, ancho chilies, Cherokee purple tomatoes and cherry tomatoes for fresh eating, and Brimmer pink and Romas for canning, Sunberries for fresh fruit, and rosemary. (All other herb seeds will be direct planted.)
We want to simulate a greenhouse environment in the guest room. Covering the plants creates that condensation effect. I place sandwich bags over the cans and secure with a rubber band. I placed plastic bags that contained our vacuum parts when new over the refrigerator drawers. I used the lid that came with the mini-greenhouse. And I placed the lids back on the salad containers.
Finding enough sun in this house for plants is going to be a challenge. Ideally, the plants would be set up on a table in our bedroom in front of the southwest facing window, and the cats highly agree. There is nothing more they would like to do but spill pots of seeds onto the carpet. It’s great fun, you know. Now that my husband is working from home, he has taken over the office. That leaves the guest room, which can be closed and might be ideal. I covered the bed with an oil cloth tablecloth to protect it. The room faces northeast. That is not ideal so I will have to keep an eye out and make sure enough sun is hitting the plants and that the water is continually evaporating and raining back over the plants. If not I will need to move them to prevent the seeds/seedlings from rotting away.
Do not overwater! Those little legs can’t sit in water. Every few days mist with a water bottle. As the seedlings outgrow their lids, begin to lightly water as needed.
Start seeds 6-8 weeks before the last frost date. Before you transplant, let soil dry out a bit and it will be easier to pop them out of their containers. Transplant seedlings into bigger containers as needed. Remember, that most of these plants that you are starting from seed are tropical plants in nature, so give them lots of mist and sun and they will be happy! And you will be happy come salsa season!
I have a confession to make. Almost every early March for the past fifteen years, I have registered for school. Once farming season hits, I drop classes and begin my life outdoors for the next nine months. Then I am busy with crafts and rest. After Christmas, I redo my house, busily planning my garden in the back of my mind. Then hits February and early March. The tyranny of it all! I lose my sense of purpose. I become listless and not super fun to live with. I wonder about my life and my dreams and my….oh, time to plant, see ya later! I wish I could farm all year.
When a person first starts gardening, it is enough to just get everything in after the last frost date. New gardeners tend to plant everything at the same time. That is great, but then one might notice how quickly the lettuce went bitter and bolted, or the peas went to seed, and that will never do. So the gardener starts planting spring crops. We have just expanded our food window three months! Then the gardener gets hooked on fresh food and decides to start fall crops too. Pretty soon, you’re a homesteader with fresh food nine months out of the year and lots of preserves, a verifiable grocery store going on in your house! It’s good stuff and lots of fun. It is time to plant spring crops now.
Many plants enjoy cooler weather. They are the first things that we shall plant and there are other cool crops that take many months to grow, like rutabagas and celery, that need to be planted now. St. Patrick’s Day is the traditional day to plant potatoes. And the Irish know potatoes! Now, if you happen to live in a very wet climate, your potato starts are going to rot away within a few weeks, so if you garden in the north in a wet climate, you might need to wait a few more weeks. But here in dry zone 6, the timing is perfect (add a week per earlier zone to wait to plant).
Cold crops generally need to be consistently damp in order to germinate. Carrots are particularly finicky fellows when it comes to being insistent on moisture. So, if it is not going to rain or snow, plan to water once per day.
Did you read my last post? I have been busy hoeing trenches and filling them with soil in preparation. (So, if you have tried calling me, that is why I haven’t returned calls!) My seeds are separated into early spring, 2 weeks later, and 2 weeks after that. 2 weeks after that, I will begin summer seeds. I try to stay on top of things because I have trees coming and will have many herb seedlings to transplant during the next six weeks, so if it is nice out, I am outside. That is my happy place.
Here is what I plant in the spring.
two kinds of carrots (the third will be planted in the summer for winter storage)
three kinds of onions (yellow, red, and bunching)
four kinds of lettuce spread out over the spring planting season
three kinds of potatoes (the fourth will be planted in a few months for winter storage)
cabbage (another variety will be planted in the summer for winter storage)
two kinds of kale
rhubarb ( roots planted in the perennial garden)
asparagus (roots planted in the perennial garden)
I bet you didn’t know there were so many delicious food items to plant right now! Keep damp, and once the seedlings start to appear, mulch well with straw.
I always haphazardly put out plant markers but they end up disappearing, so I keep a ledger of the type of seed and where it is planted and the day I planted it. This helps me keep track of my favorite varieties (5 Silverbeet Swiss Chard!) and what doesn’t work (having a doozy of time trying to get brussel sprouts to grow). I also know what mysterious plant is coming up when the plant marker gets blown away.
Planting spring crops is a great way to spend a quasi-warm day out in the garden. Dreaming of crisp radishes and peas and new potatoes and asparagus…