2018 a year of promise

As the year begins in the little red farmhouse, it’s always a reminder of things unfinished from 2017.  Last year was a busy year for our family and my thoughts were consumed with decision making, planning, coordinating, and preparing every day life.

Over the past few months I have felt the “winds of change” blowing.  I have no idea what it means, how it’s going to happen, or when it will take place, but I feel it deep inside with an excitement of what 2018 is going to bring!

I look forward to sharing all the blessings this year holds for me and our family/farm.  Here are a few pictures from our Christmas season and the beginning of an exciting year!  Happy New Year to all and many blessings for your best year yet!  Tina

Being raised on a farm

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I love this picture! It’s not often I take the time to reflect on the life we have chosen to give to our children.  Part of that is because I grew up in this lifestyle.

Being raised on a farm doesn’t come without its sacrifices for our kids.  Your parents can’t take “sick” days from taking care of the livestock.  During the spring months there is not much time for anything other than preparing the seedlings to start, getting the garden beds ready to plant, fertilizing the soil, repairing pasture fencing, and fixing/maintaining the farm equipment and animal housing.  In the summer there is no summer vacation as every day the animals need to be fed and barn chores need to be done.  The animals do not “sleep in” so that means neither do we.  Weeds are a weekly family project in the garden beds, the lawns need frequent cutting, the pastures need to be trimmed down to keep the weeds down. Fall is spent harvesting, preserving, freezing, and selling the extras of things we have grown.

But the sacrifices allow for life lessons preparing these kids for their futures.  They learn responsibility, compassion, empathy, determination and the circle of life very early on.

They learn to respect the earth and animals with a very deep connection.  These things provide them with the reward of food grown from a seed, fresh eggs daily and freedom to enjoy the simple things like riding a horse through the beautiful woods.

It also prepares them for their later teenage years.  Both of these kids have been driving and working farm tractors, 4 wheelers, snowmobiles and a golf cart since they were 3 years old.  They understand the power a machine has and the dangers involved with a careless decision.

They can prepare their own meals, make bread, can vegetables and fruits, and make pies.  In other words, they will be able to feed themselves for the rest of their lives without assistance if need be.

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All of this makes the vacations and trips they do get to enjoy even better.

And the time we spend on our boat, camping out in our cabin on the farm, enjoying family time around our nightly bonfires and making lasting memories is where I find my happiness.

And that sums up why I love the above image explaining why being raised a farm kid is the best gift ever!

 

 

Busy time of year

Between school, sports, farm work, gardening, and work, the days are shorter and shorter it seems. I’ve neglected my blog these past few days for sure!

Here is an update on what’s been happening in our world.

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The plants we started in the greenhouse in March are all nicely tucked into the ground! Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Zucchini, Summer and Butternut Squash, Celery, lettuce, Sweet Corn, Gem Corn, Pumpkins, Gourds, Cucumbers, Peppers, Carrots, Potatoes, and sweet Onions to name a few.

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The chickens are busy at work and we are keeping our customers stocked on their farm fresh eggs.

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An elderly gentlemen who has come to get manure for his gardens from us for the past few years brought some apples as a gift for the man of the house helping him load his buckets and get them in his garden.  He is too weak now but finds the strength to garden!  These apples are a true gift especially to the boy of the house who informed me a few weeks ago we only had 2 containers of our homemade applesauce left.  I told him it was not apple season yet and I would pick up a jar at the store if we needed it.  His response was priceless “you can BUY that??”.

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A game of “Goat Army” was played.  Hard to get those goats to fall in line!

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This is the last time the “tween queen” will cut the grass as a “tween”.  She will celebrate her 13th birthday on Monday.

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A beautiful walk around the Buffalo, NY waterfront while the boy was at his hockey practice.  It was great to sneak out for a 45 minute walk!  I’ll post more about that at another time with a few more pictures to share!

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And tonight we ended the long work day with a great bonfire!

Back to work tomorrow making crockpot applesauce, seeding some pastures, a memorial service for a friend’s father, and a soccer game for the boy!

Winter Predictions?

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This was a storm we had in March 2014

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Snow Ponies have a stretch of their legs while I cleaned their stalls March 2014

Our local newspaper ran an article tonight about the Polar Vortex happening in our area in September. See it here.   This past winter that was the phrase of the season “polar vortex”. 

While I understand some think a few feet of snow all winter long is something that should not happen, this is Buffalo, NY people.  As a child growing up the snow started in early November and lasted straight through to the end of March.  For the last 15 years we have been blessed with little shots of snow here and there and not all winter season.  As a child I had to literally trudge through snow to my barn to feed my horse and sometimes it was up to my waist.  It was winter and that was expected.  School was closed many times, work was canceled for my parents and even our bridges had to be shut down temporarily to allow salting trucks to back up them salting as they went so they could get up to the top.  This has only happened once since in the last 15 years.  This was winter not a “polar vortex” back then.

So am I worried about the upcoming polar vortex and snowy winter?  Heck no!!  We prepare and have wonderful fires in the woodburner heating the house if the power goes out.  We will burn around 10 to 15 cord.  We have a stocked freezer with meats we purchased from the butcher and all of our yummy canned and frozen veggies/fruits, stock for soups, and homemade breads and pies.  I will stock up on flour and we have a pasta maker so we have plenty of pasta anytime we need to make a batch.  And we stock our barn for the animals with great quality nutritious hay (see our first load here) and grain/corn to help our chickens keep producing the eggs.  We will stock up on gasoline for the snowmobiles and 4 wheelers and have the tractor ready to pile the snow and make a small sledding hill for the kids.  Our pond will freeze and we will plow it and have the lights on and a fire in the barrel so we can ice skate with our friends.

What do I say to Old Man Winter (and the looming polar vortex)……bring it baby!!  (But not for at least another month please) 🙂

Outdoor Shower

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This side faces the house and the rest is covered in nature for privacy

When you live on a farm it pays to have an outdoor shower.  Ok, I admit we installed it after seeing the first Sex in the City movie where the neighbor had a beautiful……..outdoor shower!!  I forced the man of the house a few years back to see the movie with me and this is what came of it.  He installed a shower within the week.

This truly has been a saving grace during the spring/summer/fall with the kids.  They come in from playing in the woods, the frog pond, riding 4 wheelers and so on and they are covered in mud.  They know before they can step foot in the house they have to shower off.  Most of the time clothes and all!!

The adults in the house enjoy it under the moonlight.  There’s something to be said about taking an outdoor shower under the beautiful dark night sky with fireflies lighting up all around you and the beautiful stars overhead.

The sign has become a neighborhood saying.  A friend found this sign for us and hung it while we were gone.  It says Showers $1.00 To Watch $2.00  It still makes me laugh every year when I hang it up.  I purchased some beautiful tropical looking vines and bushes so even during the day it is private to the world only open facing the house.

We purchased a beautiful wooden arbor but it’s starting to peel now and next year we will have to replace it but it will be worth the work!! 

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Showers $1.00 To Watch $2.00

Preparing the Gardens

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Chance getting another load of mulch

I like to use recycled newspapers for weed control in my garden.  It breaks down nicely and is easy to rip through to plant your plants in the soil.  My family has done this for generations.  There are always some who immediately say “well aren’t you poisoning yourself with the ink?”.  Years ago yes toxins were in printing ink. Now they are made with iron oxides and non toxic pigments.  Don’t believe me??  Do the research ( http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/chicago_gardener/2007/07/using-newspaper.html )  This is a great article to read to further prove my point.
While spreading the newspaper we then drop mulch (free from our town as they are always looking for people to take the branches they mulch after winter).  The mulch is all different types of wood and helps keep the moisture in the garden.  This is my secret for weed control.  I would much rather sit on the deck having a fresh lemonade and watch my vegetables grow rather than spend hours weeding.  This is not to say some weeding is not needed but definitely not the all day project it would be without the newspaper.

 

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It’s a 3 person job but worth it

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Dad helping spread the mulch

Today is a beautiful day finally and now that the garden is covered we will let it sit for a day and tomorrow I will start the seed planting in the garden.  Eventually our started plants will be put in there as well.  Bring on the summer 🙂
 

Gardening-starting from seed

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taken this morning 5-23

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planted 5-9-14

I love to start most of my plants by seed.  Actually this year the only things I bought were some strawberry plants and 3 orange pepper plants.  I start them in little containers as above and try to start certain things earlier than others.  Brussel Sprouts and pumpkins are a must to start early as they take much longer to grow and corn.  I will continue to let those grow and then I will plant some seeds right in the garden (when it’s dry enough) so the plantings are staggered and maturing at different times. I like to take my time when I get a good crop and can as much as possible.  There’s so much to do once harvesting starts and it makes it much easier when it’s staggered.

It’s also important to stagger your plantings or you will get a huge harvest all at one time.  No one can use and store 15 heads of lettuce at a time.  So I usually plant 6 seeds of lettuce (2 romaine, 2 buttercrisp, 2 boston) to start and then when those are almost to the point of harvesting I will usually start 3 of the same seeds as above and continue the process so we are eating fresh lettuce all summer and feeding our rabbits, goats, and chickens as well.

You can see I planted the seeds above on the 9th of May.  Today on the 23rd (14 days later) most of the plants are well started and tomorrow I may be knee deep in mud but I will be getting my newspapers spread and covered for weed control (cheap and extremely effective) and getting the seeds started of more corn, pumpkins, radishes, kale, beans, cucumbers and peas.  My carrots are being grown in containers as well as my potatoes. They are nicely started also.

It’s busy work but so satisfying knowing we are eating what we worked for!!