Well, 2017 is gone. This blog didn’t see much writing or much traffic.
Besides familial issues (family losing jobs, others a house to foreclosure, and a suddenly sick elderly relative), I dealt with a lot of self-doubt and hesitation regarding continuing on with the blog. Homesteading became more of a chore than a love. Depression sank in as we dealt with the diagnosis for renal failure for our canine daughter, Diamond, and then her passing. Things continued to sour amidst money issues and three rounds of the stomach flu.
Here I am.
And I hope you’re still out there dear reader.
The reality of homesteading is that there is always the “seven year itch” to ditch it all. Who needs a garden? Chickens a messy and predators don’t understand that they’re your food, not their’s. Mother Nature likes to smirk as you’re knee deep in snow trying to keep your house from freezing, all the while you’re kids are asking you deep and probing life questions like, “When’s dinner?”
Here I am.
Let’s roll, baby.
Our homestead has been hit with the first major bug of the season. I’d love to blame this on Little Mister being in preschool, but who knows where it came from. Through the prompting of severe mucus and annoyance, I now have our first batch of Fire Cider steeping in the pantry. It’s only a small batch as it’s my own creation and I want to try a test batch before I go making a larger one.
Let me back up a second to answer the question “What is Fire Cider?” Fire Cider is the name for a tincture of sorts made with various peppers and herbs which have antibacterial, immune system boosting, and inflammation inhibiting properties covered with apple cider vinegar and then steeped for anywhere between 24 hours and ten days, depending on the individual recipe and required potency. Most recipes call for hot peppers (jalapeño and cayenne), horseradish, ginger root, garlic, and onion. The medicinal impact of Fire Cider depends mostly on what ingredients are used, but in general Fire Cider will help with throat and nasal congestion, coughs, and sore throat. The antibacterial properties of the ingredients also have the ability to shorten illnesses. To top it all off, Fire Cider can be used as a preventative as well.
The version that I made today includes:
– cayenne peppers
– dried ginger root
– cinnamon stick
I’ll be honest, I never measure when I make tinctures and teas from scratch. It seems to inhibit me as I get so caught up on the numbers that I completely forget what I’m creating such a thing for. Intuition is my recipe card. Over these five ingredients I poured my apple cider vinegar. Later, when I strain the mixture, I will add a small bit of honey. Ideally I would love to use local honey, but I don’t currently have any on hand, so store brand will have to do.
The best thing about Fire Cider is that you can use it as often as you like. One to two spoonfuls at a time is my suggestion. If it seems too strong to swallow on its own, you can mix Fire Cider in with your tea, a glass of water or juice, or some people add it to their soup. You can also adjust the recipe to be more suited to a child’s palette as well.
Little Miss is now three months old, nearing four months. She sleeps through the night and rarely wakes to eat. It’s time to get her into her own room.
In looking over the room she’ll be sharing with our old curmudgeon of a mini-rex, Hubster realized that the room was severely lacking in heater space, which isn’t too surprising, given how cold it always is in there. Since homesteading is all about doing what you can with what you have, and finances are imposing a strict boundary on what we can and can’t afford, we searched the homestead to see what would work.
In doing the math, which I’ll spare you as I could barenly follow Hubster’s explanation, it appeared that our bedroom had extra baseboard. Hubster quickly devised a plan to remove a chunk of the baseboard from our room and add it to that in Tracy’s soon to be room.
Everything is sealed with no leaks. Tomorrow, or sometime next week, starts the long process of moving furniture around. While I’ll miss being able to easily check on her every time I get up at night, I know that she’ll be just fine right next door to us…and I can still check on her.
Anyone who comes to this site on a regular basis will notice how irregular the posting been, not to mention the most recent lull in activity. We welcomed our second farm hand, Little Miss, into our family on August 18th. Since then, life has been a bit chaotic. Hubster was able to take four weeks off from work (he goes back this Monday) and we were graced with Gi-Gi, my mother-in-law, being able to help us out during the first week of Little Miss’ life.
Cloth diapers have added another load of daily laundry, breastfeeding limits my multitasking abilities, and the crunch of fall is tiptoeing around the corner meaning the wood needs splitting, food needs storing, and the chicken coop needs winter prepping. The loss of our entire tomato crop – 40 plants of different heirloom varieties – due to blight and an entire garden killed off by groundhogs and squash bugs has caused for additional stress. Thankfully we’ve remedied some of that through the use of the local CSA and the 9 birds we were able to raise for the freezer. (The total of birds had been 10 before the fox snagged one the day before slaughter.)
Aside from what I’ve already mentioned, I’ve begun Little Mister’s preschool curriculum. Due to his birth date, he wasn’t accepted for preschool this year which has created the blessing of being able to start homeschooling a little earlier than planned. If things go well this year, we may continue on with it.
Settling in to a New Normal is stressful on everyone – kiddos, criddos, and the parents. We’re managing and are slowly finding new ways of doing things, but are relying on our old habits and structure to provide some stability. I’ll admit, though, it’s taking some practice to get back into typing single handed while breastfeeding.
Mabon, or Autumnal Equinox, marks the common calendar’s first day of fall. For many Pagan traditions it marks the middle of fall and the beginning of the rush to get in the last harvest.
We’re a mixed faith family – Hubster is a Congregationalist and I’m a Pagan Witch – so there’s always a balance to strike with the holidays. The great thing about the Pagan holidays is how strongly they align to the tides of the year. Holidays are used to mark the passage of the seasons based off from nature and agriculture. They give holidays where they are needed to boost the spirits and keep people going. Mabon is no exception.
This time of year is always crazy-go-nuts. There is jam to finish, pickles to polish up, gourds to find room for, apples to bring in, and gardens to wrap up before the frosts come. Its a time of long days and sometimes longer nights. Mabon comes right in the middle. The equal time of day and night remind us that balance is always a must. Without balance things can fall into chaos.
One of the greatest things about Mabon is the chance to feast. In this time of abundance, it’s guaranteed that you can get in a full meal, one made with love and that can give the chance for a moment to breath and reflect on the crazy season. Given how busy the week can get, we decided to have out Mabon meal last night. We enjoyed spaghetti squash with homemade tomato sauce. Apple crisp graced the table for our dessert. Only two ingredients weren’t local (minus seasonings in the crisp), and three others didn’t come from our own garden. The tomatoes, green peppers, basil, parsley, and zucchini were all from our own land. It was delicious.