Thursday, June 23, 2016

Summer Solstice and A Second Vlog

Happy summer everyone!
It is now the time of year that we are so busy here on the homestead that days go by and we forget that we should also have a little fun.
I mean, we have to take the time to enjoy each other.
All work and no play makes me a grumpy girl.
We decided to get our tent out to sleep under the stars for the solstice.
We hadn't set the tent up in 3 years prior to this week.

I really like this tent, and it has served us well for almost 9 years now. We got it when Cali was a year old. We would camp out at Gary's cousins pond every summer. It was private and secluded and we loved it. Cali grew up there. and in this tent. So I am sad that we went for so long without setting it up here on our new property, but busy has been our first names for about that long.

 I am so happy that we decided to get it out and ready for not only our use, but also for visitors to the Homestead!
I got it all set up with a little help from Gary. And then I got the air mattress out and all set up with what we would need for our night out there.
Blankets and pillows were brought out at bed time. I also set up a little table to hold a candle and our drinks.

Before we went to bed we had a nice bonfire and enjoyed the crackling roar of the fire. I got it going pretty good.
It was so nice to just sit together and look out at all that we have been working on together.
Sometimes you just have to sit back and enjoy the progress and take stock of all that you do. It all seems to go by in a blur.
We watched the new flock of Laying hens as they watched us. 
We talked about how fast they are growing and when we might integrate them into the big coop with our ten adult laying hens.
We joked about the roosters we are hearing crow on a daily basis now, and how much louder they are going to be when they get their big boy lungs.
We enjoyed each others company and our view and we were just thankful for our time together.
That is part of why we decided to do this. So we could slow down and be present in our lives. So we could do these fun things more often together. It was so that we could laugh more and love more.
Homesteading has taken on a new meaning to me. It means that we can be more present, more resilient and free to do some of the fun things like this night.
Yes, there are days that we forget to take a moment to breathe in the beauty in front of us.
There are days that we only eat a meal together once or twice. There are days that we are so dead tired or hot that we don't even give each other a hug.
 We live for these days because we are working so hard for the days that we get to lay down in a tent and look out at the lightning bugs that fill our meadows, like stars in the sky. 
That's how we spent the evening of the longest day of the year, and how we spent the shortest night of the year, together in wonder and laughing and talking until our tired bodies and full souls, fell asleep.

 Vlog #2 Homestead Update

If you didn't see the link to my newest Vlog on our FaceBook page, I hope you take a moment to go check it out.
I get you all caught up on what's been going on here the last few weeks.
I will do my best to get a Vlog up every week, but I can't promise it, as you all know the summer months are quite the blur when you are a homesteader.
We will be getting a visit from my mom in July and I will do a video about that.
I also have a few things I have been working on that I hope to publish here soon.
I also am hoping to do a collaboration video/Vlog with our new friends at Frost Hill Farm. Go visit her page and tell her we sent you!
So please be on the lookout for all of that this summer.

Until next time,
Love from the Homestead



Friday, June 3, 2016

Homestead Economics

Homestead Economics

I recently posted an add on Craigslist, asking for supplies, A wish list,( that caused someone to comment that we should have prepared better for farming life.
This was the comment "Christopher Wallace Instead of begging, try bartering. Or Downeast dickering. You should have been a little more prepared for the switch to farming  "

This was my reply " Maine Homestead Project Christopher, good morning. If you read anything I write about this adventure we are on, you will see that I always try to barter. I did offer to trade eggs, baked goods, small amounts of cash or our precious time. I am always open to barter.
As an example, last year we had a plumber come to look at work we did and he gave us some valuable time. He wasn't going to charge us anything so I gave him some relish I had just canned. I would never feel right taking something for nothing.
I have already been offered pipe and a good price on a chainsaw. And we feel so blessed.
We have prepared to the best of our ability. This is the only way I know how to keep our costs as low as we can, I f people are going to throw stuff away, I am giving them the option to give it a good home instead.

This got me thinking about all that we have done to "Prepare" over the years. It is way too much to list but trust me when I say I have been preparing for so long for this move and this new way of life.
I have been gardening and canning for years on a small scale and recently canning on a larger scale. I Dehydrate and freeze all of the herbs that I grow.  Last year we grew 20 tomato plants and canned all that we could, and some still went to the chickens.
I raise chickens, and have been raising them for 6 years!
We have collected building materials for years, but it is still not enough to do all that we want and need to do.

So I thought hard about how I could have possibly prepared for things I didn't know I was going to need before I needed it. I also thought about how I want to live a more sustainable life, including sustainable building.
After we bought our property here, we started moving to it as soon as we could, at first it was a trailer load at a time. If you watch the channel you can see that we progressively have  been moving our 25 years worth of accumulation, from Cape Cod , to the homestead. It has been almost 2 years now, and we have one more Lg. U haul truck to go, the end is in sight, the house is about to be listed, and we will finally be in one place for good.

So I kept thinking about all of this and how I could help others who want to go on this journey for themselves. Here is what I came up with. 

Homestead Economics 101

1. If you didn't know already how hard it is to move, let us be a cautionary tale. Downsize as much as you can, before you buy a place to move to.That means get rid of all extraneous and unnecessary stuff, and  sell your house first!

2. Once you sell, get out of all debt. If you are in any, but you're not right?

3. You were looking for your dream community and a homestead in that area for years right? You didn't just drive up to Maine one weekend and decide to live there, right?

4. Hopefully you purchased your property right before you needed to be out of your current property/ dwelling.

5. Hopefully you have found a place with water(a drilled well that tested clean and safe) a septic system that is in proper working order, and there is some kind of dwelling for you to shelter in. If you're really lucky it might have out buildings, an orchard and lots of garden space. If this is you, please stop reading this, you don't need my help at all you lucky ducky you!

6. Down to the nitty gritty. Save and be as frugal as possible. Stay in and cook all your meals. Watch old movies for date night
Budget, your time, your money and your dreams.
I think the first two are self explanatory.
What do I mean by budgeting your dreams? Well that is easy.
Plan to save for the things you are dreaming about doing on your future homestead, right now.
If you want to raise chickens for eggs and meat, you are going to need a lot of stuff. Stuff to keep them safe, fed and happy and healthy. So plan your dream, on paper. Do the research. Design a coop bigger  than you think you will need it to be. In this case bigger is better. Chickens are the gateway to more chickens...and other animals didn't you know?
Make the decision if you will subsistence farm or market garden or a combo of both. This is very important. We read about market gardening and we thought it might be something we would like to do. It is not a good plan for someone who wants to practice permaculture methods. Market gardening requires an intensive rotation schedule so as not to strip the land of nutrients. I do not want to intensively farm our land like that. So it is not a good fit for us. But I have to say that I would like to have a farm stand and sell extras. It will always change from day to day and it will be what we are not able to use for ourselves. We come first.
So make your decision , what kind of farmer do you want to be? Now plot and plan for that goal. Design. Every. Aspect.

Study Permaculture Zones. Create the areas for your kitchen gardens, your orchards, your pasture areas for your free range pasture hens and meat bird flocks, They need a lot of space. If you want a dairy cow or dairy goats, plan for it, If you want meat rabbits or pigs, plan it all out.

Greenhouse or poly tunnels? Heated or not heated? There are so many things to decide.
We had dreams, but not a lot of firm decisions. We have changed our minds many times, sometimes half way through construction.
So my next point....

7. Be flexible.
S%*t happens. So now what?

The plumbing inspector came by out of the blue one day, and because of his "visit" we changed all our bathroom plans halfway through the build.
We decided to do a detached bathroom instead and now the shell of a room we built onto the garage will not be used as a traditional bathroom. We may have a sink for washing hands and our bucket composting toilet system in there but no shower. and no Water wasting toilet.
But it is now going to be awesome storage area, and closet space where we have no closet right now.

Learn to take punches and keep on getting up.
There will be losses.
There will be tears.
There will be times when you just don't want to get up in the morning to deal with it all.
Just remember that this is the life that you chose to lead.
You want security and safety and joy beyond compare.
You are a Homesteader and you are all in!

So yeah.... I posted an add on Craigslist to materials....
You know what I got?
Replies, and I have met some new and wonderful people because of it. They wanted to help us. Because people here like to help each other. They like to be neighborly and chat for a bit. They are genuinely friendly, and care about what you are trying to do.

I think I was right to ask for help. If you don't you may never leave your property, and you may not make it.

”No Man Is an Island” by John Donne
No man is an island, entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were,
 as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were.
Any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind;
and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
 it tolls for thee.

In this poem, John Donne explores the idea of the connectedness of people. People are not isolated islands. We are all a part of a larger thing, and if one person dies, everyone is affected.

If one person tries to do it all on their own, they will fail.
I feel like we should all strive to help one another, because of this connectedness. We share this human life. We are not alone. We are not an island.

With Love from the homestead,