Category Archives: Frugal Living

Bread Failure

For the first time in a long time, I’ve failed at making bread. Well, I guess I should wait and say that after it comes out of the oven to heat up and coating the loaf with oil and throwing it in, like I normally do, I spaced it and oiled it well before the oven was ready. The result? My bread went flat. Bah. Worse case scenario I can slice it thin and toast it for crackers I guess, not to mention make another batch of bread tonight.

Musical Moments on the Homestead

One of the best things about having family visit are the hobbies and interests that can be shared by the group. When Isaac, Joe’s brother, visited the day after Thanksgiving, he brought up his guitar. In what’s becoming a tradition around here when Isaac stops by, we spent a few hours on Thanksgiving weekend as a family singing random songs – Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Boston, and a little country. Vaughn absolutely loved it and was rocking out to the music. While I didn’t get any footage of that, I did sneak a bit of Joe (one the left) and Isaac (on the right) singing “Amanda” by Boston. I stressed that I shot this without them knowing, so it’s raw. You can hear my son playing at my feet, and our lovebird singing with the boys.

It’s amazingly homey and I love it.

 

I promise that next time I’ll try to get a cleaner, less candid video. (I say this just to appease the boys.)

Trips, Harvests, and Winter On The Way

So for those who may have not heard, the Raymond family will be taking a trip out to New York. The man of the house has training to do out there for work. We’ve been blessed that work will pay for the wife and the kiddo to go along, as no one in this house has even been out that way. As nerve wracked as we all are about the upcoming trip, we lucked out and will have a very awesome family friend who has dealt with both anxiety riddled dogs and chickens before staying at the house.¬† With a house/criddo sitter lined up, the stress is reduced some, but it still means that there’s way more to do than there are hours in the day.

The gardens still need to be finished up for the winter. Seeds need to be collected from some areas, and others need the carcasses of plants pulled up and composted. Manure needs to be laid down for winter, or at least a layer or two of newspaper. There are a few beds (lettuce and broccoli) that will remain untouched as an experiment to see if theses things will indeed come back year after year.

We’ve collected all the hot peppers, bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, and lettuce that we could eek out of the gardens. Now we’re simply waiting for the beans to finish drying up before we can harvest the seeds. This year we’re planning on gathering the usual bean seeds – both bush and pole style – and pumpkin seeds, but we’ll be adding in cucumber seeds, basil, hog’s heart tomato, Cheyenne, and stuffing pepper seeds. With any luck, we’ll be able to sprout them next spring.

We’re slowly gaining on our wood needs. The kindling bin is half full. We have two and a half cords cut, split, and stacked. About a third to a half cord lies in wait for the ax. We were gifted three Ranger fulls of wood by Uncle Dennis and Aunt Leona. There are also a few trees on the side of the road that we’ll be weeding out. It will be tight seasoning some of it by the time we crack into it, but at least it will be there. We may need to resort to borrowing or renting a splitter to get it all finished up, however.

There is plastic waiting in the basement for the windows, and scraps piled up to make a couple window quilts to help cut the draft on the kitchen windows. Clothes still need to have holes mended, blankets need to be washed and laid out, and inventory needs to be taken of things to knit. Planting supplies needs to go into the basement, and the shovels need to arise from their slumber.

The next three weeks will be crazy, to say the least. Wonderful, eventful, busy, and crazy, but we’ll be loving every minute of it.

Prepping For the Frost

Tonight will bring our area of the North East its first frost/freeze warning. Normally I don’t get too bent out of shape when it comes to these things. I might put blankets over some of the more delicate plants, and say a quick spell or two to the gnomes and such, but the map that was put up on the local weather channel shocked me.

When the map shows this much of an area lit up for frost and freeze warnings, it causes a person to sit up and take notice. Normally this comes after three or four small, patchy frosts. This is early. (While part of me hopes my hunches are true for an old fashioned new England winter, the lack of wood makes me hope that we still have a couple more months before it all comes in.)

Taking a word of advice from my intuition, and letting the wind wrap around my face so I could feel its bite, I decided to run amuck and collect all the produce left on the vines and still growing.

It’s a small harvest, to be sure. We didn’t have much luck with the produce this year, with the exception of the beans that we’ve been picking like mad and the cukes that have already come and gone. The lettuce is our second crop, so I guess I can’t complain too much on that spectrum. While it seems like a little, we’re thankful for every bit of it.

We will still be covering the tomato and pepper plants, along with the small bits of lettuce that I’m hoping will survive and have a little longer to grow. Part of me hopes that I pulled everything a bit prematurely and Mother Nature will prove my instincts wrong. The problem with that: I’ve been correct on our winters the past two years. Sometimes it stinks to be right.

Oh, and as you can see, that’s a desk temporarily in front of the cupboards. It was the computer/office desk and will be moved upstairs shortly to be a sewing/knitting machine desk. As a gift to ourselves, we welcomed in a new piece of furniture into the home that will hopefully entice us to be more business oriented when it comes to the homestead and will allow me to think/work more professionally on my thesis.

Winter is on the horizon.

Today has brought the first cold, shiver-inducing rain of fall. While we’re looking at 80F for the next few days, mixed with humidity, there is no doubt that fall, and thus winter, is right on the horizon. After spending just ten minutes stacking wood, I was soaked to the bone and had to make the conscious decision that it was too wet to trust swinging an axe. Even though we’re behind on wood right now, I have no doubt we’ll get caught up before snow flies.

(I’ll be honest and admit that part of the issue is me not being able to wrap my head around us having to treat homesteading as a job. It’s hard to let the husband go off to cut wood when I haven’t seen him all day. I’m trying to forcibly adjust to that.)

Needless to say, we’ve come a long way from the above photo, taken in 2009. We’re no longer hesitant on whether something will burn. We know how to spot dry, dead-standing wood, and realize the need to use as much as possible from each and every tree that’s cut. While our jobs have changed since Vaughn was born, and I no longer get to help spot and load, I’ve become adept at emptying the truck and banging out two to three days worth of split wood in a twenty minute period. Joe has become more confident with felling and cutting to the point that, if he wanted to, I’m sure he could do a basic Wood Harvesting 101 lecture.

Aside from getting the wood in, food storage is coming along. It’s going slow, but getting there. Some items in the garden have been planted that we’ll try to winter over with a thick blanket of hay. Others still need to be planted. We have plenty of jam, some vegetables frozen, and are working on getting pickles put up. We’ve diversified greatly since last year. Here’s hoping we’ve done better with our estimates on what we’ll need to last through the winter now that there’s three of us.

There may be chores that need finishing and events that need to come to pass before we’re fully ready for the winter, yet that doesn’t set us to worrying. There have been times where we’ve bit out nails not knowing if we’ll be ready, but what’s the use in wasting time fretting? There’s stuff that needs doing.