We miss a day…..

First off I have some really exciting news…  We FINALLY got the perc test application submitted!!!  He said he should be calling on Tuesday to set up an appointment to have the perc test done.  Once I have a date set I will have to call and see about renting a backhoe for the day.  We have an entire list of stuff we have to do with a backhoe too.  We want to get the driveway put in all the way to the house and get the spring/fall garden plot in.  I’m super excited about it!!

It took us thising to get the application in because 1) the link to fill the form out online and mail it wouldn’t work so I 2) went to the library, filled it out online, and tried to mail it but it wouldn’t send so I printed it out and 3) tried to take it in to the office but the office hours are not posted online. The first time I went was at 11 am. They are only open tues, wed, and fri from 8-10. I tried to go back on a tues but my car battery was dead.  I them went back on wed. Got there 15 min before they closed only to find they were closed. A tiny sign on the corner of the window if the door informs me that their NEW office hours has them closed on wed and only open tues and fri 8-10.  I told C at that point that if he got my scanner up and running and scanned them in so I could email them that I would be eternally grateful. He scanned them that night and they were emailed shortly after. I love how great C is at helping me. 

Now on to the garden update.  Things have been going so well!!  We have been really on top of processing everything up to this point, and we have gotten a lot!!  We pick at least 10 cucumbers a day, 6 squash, and 3-6 zucchini and we still have a long way to go of harvesting those!!  Yesterday we had a really large rain come through and were unable to get out to the garden to pick anything. This is what happened when I went out to pick first thing this morning. 

  
We also have jalapenos, banana peppers, habaneros and beans that we have been picking.  We are going to pickle some beans once we get enough of them coming in at once.  Until then we have been dehydrating them as we get them and putting them in a bag until we get enough to vacuum seal and freeze.    Our tomatoes are starting to ripen, this is our first blush.  Once they start to ripen things will really start to get crazy.
  
Also our poblanos are producing like crazy.  My plan with them is to stuff them with a meat and cheese mix and freeze them.  Then when we cook them we batter and deep fry them.  They are so good.

  
The most exciting thing so far is how much food we have been able to give away.  I have been giving away or trading at least a half a bag of food every 3 days or so.  It gives me such pleasure knowing that I am able to give food to people who appreciate it.  Next year we plan on starting up at the farmers market and actually start selling our goods, but for right now I’m happy giving it away.  I love feeding people.

These last two pictures area favorite things of the garden. The first are the poblanos, zucchini, beans, and cucumbers. The second is our future view of the moon from our house. 

    

  

All We Need Is Love

I’m gonna get controversial today, again.

I’ve been feeling really strongly about a few topics lately that are extremely controversial and all rooted in one topic, the misrepresentation of religion.  I have to preface this with saying that this is my opinion.  It’s my interpretation of the topics at hand.  You have every right to have your own opinion on this, in fact I encourage you to pray about it, think on it, consider thoughts at hand, and formulate your own educated opinion.  However I also request that you please respect mine.

There have been a lot of really controversial topics to come to light over the past 10 years or so.  I’m unsure if it’s that I have become more politically aware, or others have become more outspoken, or that more and more people think they are smart about politics because of the availability of information on the internet and social media especially, or that I’m becoming more and more intolerant of ignorance and hypocrisy as I get older I’m not exactly sure, but regardless of the reason I feel I have to speak up.  I have prayed, and thought, and meditated, for a long time on these subjects and have come to a conclusion.  Wanna hear it?  Here it goes …..

I am a Christian so I am calling out other Christians.  I will let those of other faiths do that to their own.  I fully back the right of Christians to protect their rights to.  However, I think we tend to confuse and distort the difference between Christian rights to not be persecuted and the rights of Christians to persecute others.  Here is where my Buddhist background comes in.  I honestly, with all my heart and soul, and every fiber of my being, believe that I am no greater than anybody else, and my rights are no greater than the rights of anybody else.  When I pray about a subject this is the thought that returns to me every time.  How does this effect those around me?  If fighting for my “rights” hurts, damages, or takes away the rights of another than it isn’t my right to have.  I am a sinner just like the rest of us.  I have committed adultery, been divorced, had a child out of wedlock, I suffer from pride, I talk about other people, and the list can go on.  My sins are no greater or less than yours.  I cannot tell another person that your sins make them less of a person or that they have less rights than me because they believe differently than me.  I will fight tooth and nail for the right to pray in school, but in the form of a moment of silence so everyone can worship as they see fit.  I cannot with good conscience say that I have the right to pray but you do not.  We go to other countries a missionaries and fight for the right to worship, and pray, and hand out bibles, yet we deny other faiths the same rights here on our own soil.  When I first moved to KY my car was vandalized for having a Darwin fish, Sikh temples have been bombed, the Buddhist center in Louisville has been vandalized at least twice.  Why is this ok?  Why is it ok for Christians to not only persecute but actually do harm to those different than them?  It’s sickens me to watch programs like FOX news come just shy of applauding Christians persecuting others.  Some of the more horrific domestic terrorist events have been committed by Christian extremists yet they have been swept under the rug, and downplayed.  In the case of some murders of abortion doctors they have even been joked about.  We claim our Christian rights are being violated because we want the right to not have to do business with people we don’t like, or who have a lifestyle we don’t agree with.  Having respect for another human being is not an affront to our Christian faith.  We actively fight against the rights of gay marriage yet my marriage is just as much an abomination.  Not only did i divorce but I also married a non-believer.  How is my sin any less than the other?   Now I do believe the pendulum swings the other way though.  In my opinion it is the right of a church to not marry people who they feel are not living appropriately (including living together, being of the same sex, etc).  If that is the stance of your church then find a new church or change the way you are living.  I do not believe we should force others to believe as we do on either side of the fence.

The greatest discomfort I have with the transgender community is the knowledge that they have the highest suicide and teen homelessness rate than any demographic in America.  It makes me ill, it makes me cry, knowing that my fellow Christians have helped make that a truth.  I cannot look someone in the eye and tell them that their life doesn’t matter to me because I may not agree with their lifestyle.  I have friends who are gay, I have friends who are transgender, and I have watched them struggle.  I have watched them fall, I have cried with them and for them, and all I can do is love them and share the love of Jesus with them.  If we turn away a transgender do we also turn away the alcoholic, or the greedy?  I have seen the greedy who have no remorse for their sin be welcomed with open arms while the homosexual or transgender who feel guilt and remorse get turned away, shunned, and even threatened.  Why is this ok? It is not my job to judge.  I leave that job to my God.  I can share the love of God with them but the relationship they have is their own because everyone faces judgment alone.

I do not view myself as being so great that I can interpret the word of God better than the next person, but I do understand one thing, my job is to love and share the gospel and that is what I will continue to do.

Living as a Community

One of the most important things I find about the homesteading lifestyle is the importance of working together to help each other achieve your goals.  I think in life we don’t help each other enough, but as a homesteading community altruism is a much more desired trait.  There is a lot more trading of goods and services than you would ever find in everyday life.

A perfect example of this is our good friends A.J. and Aimee.  They have been homesteading for much longer than I have (I would say we but C grew up homesteading).  They have goats, chickens, ducks, and even a very friendly pot bellied pig.  They also have one of the largest backyard gardens I know of.  They have helped mold my views on affordable food prices as well.  In years past he has set up in small farmers markets with some of his goods and I have come away with loads of potatoes, peppers, carrots, onions, and kohlrabi all for about $10. Their aim is that real, organically, home grown produce can cost the same as the crap you get a walmart or kroger.  You can and should be able to eat well without going broke doing it, which is exactly what we are doing.  In the past few years he has taken his pepper business to the extreme.  He grows some of the hottest peppers in the world, along with the rest of his garden, and sells them online.  It’s a pretty amazing business.  If you like hot peppers check out his site: Peppers by Mail.  Mention you found him because of us!!

  
C loves hot peppers.  He finally was able to grow habaneros this year which he is very excited about.  He was going to buy some plants from A.J. this year so he could grow the hotter peppers but they went fast and we were unable to obtain any.  That’s where the “working together to help each other” awesomeness comes in.  We have about 24 squash plants and 12 zucchini plants.  Needless to say we have an overabundance of yellow squash and zucchini.  They were unable to grow their squash and zucchini this year but really wanted some.  So we struck a deal!  We are now doing a produce exchange once a week.  They are giving us red potatoes, onions, carrots, and occasionally the hot peppers (like they did today), and we are giving them squash, zucchini, honey, and anything else they want out of our garden.  It’s a great deal and allows for homesteaders to be able to focus on fewer types of plants yet still get a good variety.  it’s really important to utilize your strengths yet still help others around you.  Imagine what would happen if C and I were stingy and kept all the squash and zucchini for ourselves.  I think we would probably get really sick of them pretty fast. 

don’t forget to follow the blog!

  

Being Informed is Awesome

Apparently, according to KY state law, you do NOT need an architect or engineer to sign off on house plans.  When I was informed of this I was skeptical at first so I actually looked up the building code regulations and by George they were right!!  This makes me just a little excited.  We are buying a set of building plans for $200 when C gets paid next week.  He has a program that lets you modify PDFs so we are going to modify the plans to be exactly what we want (and in truth the plans we are buying need very little modification).  We will hopefully be getting the sewage permit the week after next as well, so by early September we should be building!!!!  SQUEE!!!!!!  I’m so excited I can’t even stand it!!

In order to get the sewage permit we need to rent a backhoe to dig a hole.  That’s right, we need to rent a backhoe to dig A hole, one hole.  C and I have been discussing it and have decided that if we are going to rent the backhoe we are going to rent it for the day and get a lot done with it, meaning we are going to flatten out the giant hole that our house will be built in and put in our fall garden plot.  On the first of next month I am starting my fall plants in the starter wells we have.  I am planting spinach, lettuce, brussel sprouts, broccoli, onions, and cabbage.  I think that’s it.

Our spring/summer garden is doing amazing!!!  We are picking at least 6 squash, 3 zucchini, 6 cucumbers, and 10 peppers everyday.  our beans are about ready to be picked too.  Next year we will plant MUCH earlier than we did this year.  I’m still pretty impressed with how much we are getting so far.  All of our tomato plants have a ton of tomatoes on them, they just haven’t ripened yet.  I’m a little nervous because of how late it is in the season, but I still think It will be ok.  I’m hoping they will start to ripen in the next week or so.  We have definitely had a weird spring/summer.  This is our yield from last weekend, right as the cucumbers were starting to come in.  Since this the squash have started to have issues with blossom end rot which we are taking care of with a natural calcium spray made from eggshells.  I’ll let you know how that works!!

I wore the wrong shoes to garden today (because I wasn’t planning on going out to the garden until after I worked) so here I am gardening with bare feet!!

We have had a rough two weeks, but that was our own fault, BUT come this thursday we will have another $700 to throw at the house build.  Yippee!  Already spent: $250 to pay off the excavator, $300 for the sewage permit, $200 for building plans, hmm, that puts us $50 over budget….  eh, we’ll figure it out.  We can always put off the house plans until the next payday.

Preppers and me

This is another “why we do what we do” post.  I think these are important to not only educate people but to remind us about the important things in our lives.

I am finding that a lot of people who are not familiar with homesteading confuse us with preppers, which can be an easy thing to do.  We aren’t preppers so I may get some of the prepper stuff wrong (so if I do please let me know!).   We have prepper friends and we LOVE our prepper friends.  They are some of the most dedicated homesteaders we know and they teach us so much.  We just homestead for different reasons.

For those of you who are really confused right now and saying “what the heck is a prepper?”, here is a very general description.  Preppers are homesteaders like us who are homesteading in preparation for some sort of natural disaster.  They do all the same things that we do with a different end purpose.  Some differences are that they don’t necessarily care about not using lab made preservative (although you can have regular homesteaders that don’t either), The main difference is that they stock pile food and guns and ammunition and anything else you may need if there was some sort of natural disaster.  The preppers I know are working to have enough food to last them about 5 years (of what they can save for that long, like flour and such). Then they eat on the food for the 1st year while saving back for year 5, so they are more or less on a 5 year cycle.  Now just like any other homesteaders each prepper is different in how they do things, but the end game is the same.  If something happens they are prepared to survive.

We live more on the day-to-day.  We are working to decrease our spending and be more self -sufficient.  We grow and stock enough food to last us until the next growing season.  We buy enough of the stuff we don’t grow to last us maybe a few months so that we only have to go to the grocery store once every month or two.  If something were to happen we wouldn’t necessarily be prepared for it, but we would have the ability and knowledge to survive.  We have guns (you really have to if you homestead), and about a box or two of ammo.  I think it’s important for us to know how to shoot a gun, not just so we can hunt for some of our meat but also for protection.  We have 3 small kids and at least one coywolf (a coyote/ wolf mix breed and much more dangerous than either of them because they are big like a wolf but bold like a coyote) who lives on the property. You better believe if we see that sucker near the house we are grabbing the shotgun!

Our end goal is mainly to break free from the grips of big business and coorporations that otherwise create slaves.  We wont be dealing with any of the major food companies that lie to consumers about what they are eating, our food will be more nutrient rich and better for us, we wont be dealing with power companies or mortgage companies.  We will maintain one credit card and one small loan at all times to keep our credit up as a “just in case” but we probably wont even need that.   We go to the doctor when we need to but we just don’t get sick.  Our preventative care is in the food we eat.  I don’t spend money on healthcare for myself because I don’t get sick.  I don’t have high blood pressure, I don’t have high cholesterol, I don’t have digestive problems anymore. I can stand to lose a few pounds, but I did also just give birth.  I haven’t had to take antibiotics in almost 6 years.  Basically we want to live the way they did in the late 1800’s.  So instead of looking forward to what could happen  you can say we are looking back at how good our past was and trying to get back to that.  We are still utilizing modern conveniences, we aren’t amish, but we can still live with the same values as they did in the past while taking advantage of the modern world too.

I think it’s really important to have regular homesteaders and preppers and for the two group to work together in a homesteading community.

Ok- now what?

As of 5 minutes ago our architect has officially backed out.  It’s not a huge deal, we can now have to find an architect who will agree to modify a set of plans I can get that are in autoCAD.  They aren’t perfect but with a little modification they can be.  These are the plans we are looking at.  They are both from http://www.dreamgreenhomes.com

roundhouse1

It’s a 2 story earthbag roundhouse.  The second story is a loft.  There is only one bedroom and one bathroom, which is an issue.

10m-roundhouseF

This is actually a better one but I would like it with the loft like in the first picture.  I think it would be easier to add a second bedroom and a loft to this one.

We know we are going to have to pay to get the plans we want but we are still trying to keep this at a reasonable price.   Thoughts?

Just When You Think it’s Safe

I knew when I started this that I would be sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly.

We have been really good with money every since moving.  Not to the point where we really have extra, but to the point where we could buy what we needed for life and the house and still be able to make it to the next payday without freaking out about money or getting hit with overdraft fees.  Somehow this week we really messed up.  We overspent by probably about $150 this weekend and until I get paid next (in a few days) we are kinda screwed.  This isn’t the first time this has happened and probably wont be the last but I’m currently freaking out and have to figure out how to fix today so we wont get overdrafted.  After today we should be ok, unless we get ovrdrafted and then we wont be ok.  ugh I hate this.  I think the most annoying part is that the $150 we blew was supposed to be used to do the perc test.  Now we have to wait until next thursday before we can do it.  I think what I may do is go ahead and apply for the perc test and schedule them to come out sometime after next Wed.  This is definitely the one major problem with building the house ourselves.  The good news is we only have $250 left to pay for renting the excavator.  Money is so stressful.  We also may have to go back to the drawing board with the architect too.  Our architect may have fallen through and if that’s the case we are looking at an addition $2000-$4000 we have not budgeted for.  Ugh, so frustrating.

I’m also still trying to get 100 followers!  Don’t forget to follow the blog!

If you would like to help with the build check out our GoFundMe

Update: We have fixed our current money situation and should be better by tomorrow (whew!!).  My aunt is spotting me $30 until tomorrow (i already have $50 being transferred to my account) and even though they are a big giant terrible bank Chase is pretty great.  I called and told them the situation and they took off the overdraft fee.  Sometimes if you are nice and calm and polite, yet still firm they give you what you want!   I may have also found some designs for our home that will cost us about $400 (yay!!) and everything is starting to look up.  I hate days when I wake up to a freak out.  However, fixing problems gives me a total high.  I am loving life right now.

More meal planning

Now that summer has officially hit and we are starting to harvest some of our garden crops I am once again really excited about meal planning.  We have been doing really good at planning our meals and staying within a $150 budget for 2 weeks, however…. things are about to get real!

We splurged a bit this week and spent $60 at lucky’s.  We bought 2 nights worth of teriyaki steak kabobs for $16!  I nearly had a heart attack until C reminded me it was for 2 nights.  We also bought the milk, cream, and buttermilk that we prefer but can’t justify buying because it’s almost twice the price of the cheap stuff but it’s so much better for you because it’s low-temp pasteurized and un-homogenized.  You can definitely tell a HUGE difference in that vs the cheap stuff.  We also bought butter, oatmeal, veggies that we need that we either aren’t growing this year or havent come in yet.  We got cabbage, bananas, sweet peppers, and organic onions and potatoes.  We have decided we are no longer buying root vegetables that are not organic.  We really want to get the most out of our food and until we either are growing everything we need or can buy all organic we are slowly moving towards what we feel is most important, and after reading about the soil quality of potato farms after the dirty dozen list came out we decided to make the change.  We also bought some spices, cheese, and drinks for us.

Today C is going to the restaurant store.  He is buying yeast, flour, corn meal, butter, and cheese.  My guess is he will be spending about $50.

Here are our meal plans for the next 2 weeks:

Dinners:

bean stew MON 1
teriaki beef kabobs with rice and naan TUES 1
pizza WED 1
chili THURS 2
buffalo chicken cornbread with blue cheese salad FRI 2
cornbread sliders with green beans SAT 2
spinach and mushroom quiche SUN  2
calzones MON 2
Chicken enchiladas with rice and salsa TUES 2
baked cabbage and ground beef WED 2

Breakfasts:

frittata, fruit oatmeal, omelete, fruit pancakes, scrambled eggs, breakfast burrito, pork buiscut sandwich

Lunches:

chicken sandwiches, feta and spinach fritters, steak sandwiches, curried chicken salad, stir fry veggies with rice, veggie roll ups, leftovers, homemade fish sticks

and snacks:

Bananas, banana bread, zucchini bread, oatmeal cookies, veggies with homemade ranch dressing, cheese cubes,

Now I know what you are probably thinking: “Wait a minute, you didn’t buy a lot of those things”, and you are right, but as you may recall 1) we are growing a lot of our own food 2) we have been slowly buying bulk meat and putting it in the freezer, and 3) we have both meat and egg chickens.  I have also been figuring out a preliminary dinner plans for the NEXT 2 weeks:

here is my shopping list:

restaurant store: yeast ($2), olive oil ($16), steak ($35), cheddar cheese ($12) = $65

lucky’s/ kroger: fish ($5), onions ($5), peppers ($4), chocolate chips ($3), kale ($2), raisins ($3), potatoes ($5), lettuce ($5), beans- dried black and pinto ($4), cream ($8), milk ($4) = $48

Now these things may change because I’m not sure we will need cream, and i’m going to try to find steak for cheaper than $35, and I tend to overcompensate for the price of things so that if C decides to splurge on a few things I’m not freaking out.  So right now we are looking at about $110 for 2 weeks of food.  and this is what it looks like:

thai curry fish with rice THURS 1
chicken tikka masala with rice FRI 1
stuffed pablano peppers with beans and rice SAT 1
rolled steak with cucumber tomato salad SUN 1
grilled cheese with zuppa toscana MON 1
ranch taco salad TUES 1
beef stew with beans and veggies WED 1
stuffed cabbage rolls with fried green tomatoes THURS 2
pizza FRI 2
chicken pot pie SAT 2
veggie fajitas SUN 2
green beans with pork and fried green tomatoes MON 2
grilled cheese with homemade tomato soup TUES 2
tortellini WED 2

I dont know about you but i’m pretty hungry now.  The beans slow cooking on the stove aren’t helping.  yummmmm

There and back again 

It’s been another long but productive weekend.  We got a late start on Saturday (what a shock) because we o to make a screen for the hive before we went down. We didn’t get a chance to get to the bee store during the week and they aren’t open on Saturdays. It didn’t take C long to throw one together. 

  
We hit the road at about noon making our eta about 3. It was a pretty smooth ride except the baby kept crying. He is either growing or starting to teeth. Whatever it is he is miserabe.  I feel so bad for the kid.  Also there is something quite horrific about this scenario:

C: something smells like poop. Baby girl did you poop? 

We both turn to look at her

BG: Poopoo!! (As the shows us two handfuls of it.)

We immediately pull over to the shoulder where I wipe her down, sanitize her, and put a new diaper on. Needless to say it was not the best moment of te trip. 

Once it get dark we screwed the screen onto the hive and filled in any holes where they could get out. Then his mom watched the kids and let us go on a date (which consisted of driving around the woods listening to folk and bluegrass).  It was so nice and peaceful and really took me back to when we first started dating. 

  
The next day we got up at sunrise. Then fixed the plumbing and the toilet (so yay for full running water in their house again!!!), put ratchet straps around the hive, and moved it into the truck. We had some pretty upset bees. There were about 20 bees that were super mad they couldn’t get back in the hive. Apparently if they have to fly too far from to get back in time they will spend the night out and come back to the hive in the morning. These bees had done that. They were completely saddled with pollen (which is the coolest thing to see, big chunks of yellow on their thighs). Once the bees were in the truck his mom and I took the cages I had brought and wrangled up some chickens. She sent me with 3 roosters, which are getting slaughtered tomorrow, and about 15 or 20 mid size chicks to split between me and A.  It was slightly entertaining to watch Cs mom trying to grab these baby chicks. She’s pretty freaking good at it too!  We packed the rest of our gear in the truck, lined the truck bed then put the chicken cages on top Of the lining. Once the kids were back we were on our way home!

  
The three hour long drive home was entertaining to say the least. We left the side of the topper open so the chickens didn’t suffocate. We also stopped about every 45 minutes to check on the bees, which was good because at the second stop we noticed there was a small hole they were getting out of so we plugged it back up. 

Once we were back we dropped the bees off at the property, and realized there were a lot more bees in the box than we originally thought which is really good!  The bees seem to like their new home. They were very active.  We also picked the massive amounts of squash and zucchini from the garden (because we now have to pick them everday).  We dropped off the chickens when we got back to the cabin. The roosters are staying in the cage until I slaughter them tomorrow and the babies went in my coop that is no longer being used by my hens because they are agrivating adolescent female chickens who won’t stay in the nice coop I made for them. We will deal with the babies when they get a little older and we can tell what sex they are. 

   
    
 C is so excited about having the bees. He’s like a small child about it. It’s so cute to watch. I guess it’s like me with my chickens. He even had a dream that on the way home our chickens ate all the bees. You know something is really on your mind when you dream about it!  Hopefully they will do better here than at his parents where they were competing with 2 other hives. I guess only time will tell. 

Death becomes her

Tomorrow I am missing 2 funeral services.  One is for a woman I used to volunteer for.  She was the director of a wildlife center here where I used to volunteer.  She was a really amazing woman and someone I really enjoyed working with.  The second is a brother of two good friends of mine.  He was very young and his family are very amazing people that I really love and admire.  Even though I didn’t know him I went to the viewing today to support my friends and their family.  Death is a very strange thing to me.  I don’t deal with death the same way other people do, if you haven’t noticed yet.

Being at the viewing made me think about my own mortality.  Not in terms of what will happen to my soul or my actual death itself, but what will happen afterwards.  I used to be really afraid of death, like to the point where I couldn’t sleep at night because I was afraid I wouldn’t wake up.  I think I finally came to the realization that life has a 100% mortality rate and so I separated myself from the thought of death.  It’s going to happen someday, I can’t spend my life waiting for it.

So back to today, I find traditional funerals very odd.  First there is the viewing: there is this casket where people can go and look at your dead body, maybe even touch it (totally gross), while people stand around all morose about you being dead.  Then there is the funeral where people talk about you and watch you being buried.  It’s all very weird to me.

I know that most of my friends and family will think that our after death body plans very odd, but C and I are both having natural burials.  When we die our bodies will be transported to the nearest natural burial site (which at the moment is in Ohio) where we will be buried straight in the ground.  No coffin, no embalming.  I want my body to decompose and create new life within the earth.  I don/t expect anybody to be there, except maybe close family.  A memorial service will be held close to our home and I totally expect wine to be served and bluegrass music to be played, or at least a banjo….with possibly a special request from me for some Dueling Banjos (just kidding…or am i?).  I want people to talk about the funny stories of me, the awesome things I did, and their fondest memories of me.  No visitation, no funeral, no touching me after i’m dead. none of that.  I realize peoples memories of me will fade and that’s ok, i expect it to, but at least i’m able to sleep at night now.