Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Preparations Have Started

Can you believe that tomorrow is the first day of October?! Yeah, neither can we. We sure do love our passive solar home and when the sun shines, it gets HOT in here. But, for other times, we use a woodstove. And a woodstove needs...well, wood.

Dan took most of Sunday pulling down a tree that split during the derecho two years ago. From what we can determine using a tree ID book, it's an elm. So, it's a hardwood and it's HEAVY. The kids and I enjoyed watching Dan do his work with the chainsaw and he enjoyed being manly and hooking up a chain to the truck to pull it out.

He's not feeling as manly now...he has a terrible reaction to posion ivy. And he apparently got some on his wrists and then wiped sweat from his brow. Sooooo....his eyes are now all swollen. He looks like he might have been in a fight, sans the black and blue color. Or maybe it happened Sunday night when I COULD NOT get him to wake up when Kole needed him. Nothing like laying with two kids, who want to be wide awake, at 1:40 AM while he was dead to the world. I tried everything, short of telling him the house was on fire. I didn't think that would go over very well....

Anyhow, we are well on our way to getting some wood ready. The big pile is well seasoned wood and the neatly stacked pile is the part of the tree that wasn't dead. So, we have a headstart for next year!

Now, if I can just talk Dan into cleaning the chimney soon rather than waiting until there was ice on the (metal) roof like last year! What preparations have you started for winter?

Monday, September 29, 2014

First Autumn CSA

The leaves are starting to change here in West Virginia. We have some of the most beautiful fall foliage in the country during October. We get some pretty spectacular views at the house, so I hope to have some neat pictures to share with you over the course of the next few weeks!

It's always somewhat depressing to know that the summer Farmers Market season is coming to an end. We only have two more weeks of a summer market left until the winter market starts. To help ease my sadness about the ending of the market, I stocked up on some summer produce for my CSA box this week.

I picked up a dozen ears of corn, bell peppers, apples, tomatoes, and a huge watermelon. We had some corn last night that was delicious. And we enjoyed some watermelon for dessert. We ate outside and the chickens loved us because we shared our rinds with them.

I roasted a pumpkin from the garden this weekend and I am looking forward to going to the Springs Folk Festival later this week. Dan is ordering some things to make hard cider from the unpasteurized apple cider I pick up for him by the gallon. I also snag a gallon jug of maple syrup. We love that! On the road to the festival, there is an Amish family that generally has a few wagon loads of goods. This is where we got hooked on delicata squash. You can pick up pie pumpkins for $0.50 or $1 and other squashes for just as affordable. I'm looking forward to stocking up on some to throw in our root cellar.

What plans do you have for fall? I'll share some progress on painting the chicken coop and our fall garden this week! Happy Monday!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Double Yolk

I was pleasantly surprised to crack open a pullet egg and find a double yolk! I don't think the cuteness factor of pullet eggs will ever wear off :-)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Chef Picked CSA

It's fun to pick our own CSA box. But it's also fun to have Chef Dale pick it for us!

We brought home poblano peppers, tomatillos, shiitake mushrooms, apples, raspberries, and cabbage. We made chile rellenos and a salsa Verde for dinner tonight. And Little J ate what seemed like her weight in raspberries! What's your favorite way to use cabbage?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Don't Let Her Fool You

I know, I know - she looks all sweet and innocent, right? Cute dog. Loves the kids. Has adapted and now enjoys being around the chickens.

But....BUT! She likes the chickens a little too much. No, she doesn't harm them. She might harass them here and there, but no chickens have been harmed since she has decided she is fine with cohabiting with them.

Today, little J and I were outside playing. We happened to see Lakelyn messing around under the deck where the chickens have been laying their eggs lately. And then we see it...an egg. In her MOUTH! She's an egg stealer! We caught her red pawed!

We've been seeing a decline in egg production over the last several weeks. We couldn't quite put our finger on why, we just accepted it. But, now it makes sense. There have been days where I've seen Lakelyn going into the coop (we still have some finishing to do on it - like making a chicken sized door!). I just thought she was being a turd. Now I know. There have been days where we get 7 eggs. And although I don't recall for sure, I am going to bet it's been on the days that the dog has decided to stay inside.

So, now we can add egg thief to Lakelyn's list of naughty behaviors. Do you have a dog or other animal that steals eggs? 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Walk Behind Tractor

The Mother Earth News Fair is huge. Huge, I tell you. I really wish I would have been able to go for more than one day, but there's always next year, right?!

I came home with a renewed enthusiasm for homesteading. Between seeing the animals and checking out all the vendors, I couldn't help but be excited. As my dad and I started walking around the vendors, I was drawn toward the walk behind tractor with a mini round baler attached. It was really cool. And it would be a perfect size for our needs.

We have no plans to get a larger tractor, which would be necessary if we wanted a full size baler. But this little guy would certainly do the trick. As I was looking over the website, it looks as though this walk behind tractor can do all that a big tractor does on a smaller scale. Earth Tools claims to have more than 40 implements for their walk behind, from a plow to a brush mower. It definitely seems to be something we should look into. What about you...do you have a tractor? What are your thoughts on the walk behind tractors?

Monday, September 15, 2014


C. S. A! Come on, cheer with me now! We really are so thankful for Fish Hawk Acres. Chef Dale is making such huge strides in the local food movement in the state, as well as Appalachia. During the summer, we sometimes pick our own produce from the Farmers Market stand for the week. Yesterday, I was at the Mother Earth News Fair so Dan and the kids got to pick our box. They did pretty well! Sweet corn, red peppers, hot peppers (habanero and cayenne - he plans to dehyrdate it), onions, apples, poblano peppers, and cucumbers. You can tell the summer season is starting to wind down and for me at least, my tummy is getting ready for the fall and winter foods!

Speaking of Mother Earth News, I have so much to share with you. I hope to do a blog each day this week talking about something different I saw while there. It was a day out by myself and I enjoyed it. It got me excited for the future! Stay tuned :-)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Turkey, anyone?

I loaded the car up yesterday to run some errands and take little J for her well child check. It was a rainy, dreary day. As I was coming down the driveway, I spotted the flock of turkeys who like hanging on the hill. Since it was raining, they weren't terribly fast and didn't fly off into the woods. I stopped and put my window down for a picture. I counted 14 and some scurried away before I could snap the picture.

Great, I thought. I had a picture of the turkeys who start every spring in a nest behind the house. When I put the window down, it made a funny sound but I didn't think too much of it. Until I couldn't get the window to come back up. It was pouring down rain, remember?

I turned around and got back to the house. I pounded on the door a little. No dice. I turned the car on and off several times. Still no go. I searched Google for ideas of what might be wrong. Most of it went over my head. I was still hoping that if I let it sit for a few minutes and turned the car back on, it would magically work again. I called the local Honda dealer. I was told it was a common issue and would be a nearly $500 fix. Fantastic.

But, remember how we built our own house. Well, by we I mean my hubs and dad. Dan also do 99% of our vehicle maintenance. So, when he got home, he pulled the door apart and found the problem. The dealer was right in the over the phone diagnosis. But, we won't pay $500! We won't!

Dan went off to search the internet and found the part at a few places. Meanwhile, I am semi-freaking out. The Mother Earth News Fair is this weekend and I have plans for 2, maybe 3 people to ride with me on Sunday to attend. There is no way I will miss it! None! But, the part isn't available anywhere until the start of next week. Oh nuts, as my little man says.

Dan ordered the part and I began looking into rental cars. Driving over two hours without a drivers side car window ain't happening. Hertz has an affordable weekend rental rate and so my friends and I will be riding in style in a compact car. At least it should get good gas mileage!

PS - We looked into junkyards, but to no avail.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


I got to pick my box this week and I based it off of a meal plan I actually put together!  In the hopes of budgeting a little better, I made a meal plan! And it wasn't terrible!

I picked up some tomatoes, onions, sweet peppers, nectarines, and summer squash. You can tell the summer is winding down with the change in produce available. But, I'm looking forward to fall! I'm also looking forward to the Mother Earth News Fair this weekend - I'll get to meet Joel Salatin!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Pantry Project - Update

I'm so glad I posted earlier this week about my pantry. It really kept me on track with this project! I've been meaning to do it for the better part of the summer, but it kept getting put on the back burner. When the kids and I were at Target this week, I picked up some pretty contact paper. And I threw it out to my Facebook friends as to the best place to find foam board. I found it at Dollar Tree!  It was 1/3 the price than Target - which makes a big difference when you buy nine sheets!

I woke up this morning in one of those moods. You know, the kind of mood where you NEED to get something done? Dan hung with the kids and I had at it. I laid the foam board on my shelves and marked where to cut - the board was 20" wide and my shelves are a little more than 16". I then put the contact paper on the top and wrapped it around the sides. I would have gotten a progress or how to shot, but I was on a roll. Like I said, I as in a mood.

Luckily, we don't keep much in terms of boxed foods that expire. I only had two or three things to throw out. It's still a work in progress as I still want to find more clear glass storage containers. But, it is progress! And I really do love it!

Check out the other great posts over at the homestead blog hop!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Pantry Project

We are home and getting back into the groove after a mini vacation to visit my in-laws in Georgia. WVU played Alabama at the Georgia Dome and Dan took his Kole and some of his family along. It was a fun trip for all! I went with my mother in law to a tiny town called Woodstock and we checked out a yarn store called "The Whole Nine Yarns." I picked up some more needles and yarn to continue my slipper projects - they're so much fun!

Our garden is slowly puking out on us. The chickens surely didn't help! We are helping to do some clean up this weekend in there and plant our fall crops. We are putting in broccoli, kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, lettuce mix, and some cilantro. We also need to devise a way to keep the chickens out of where we plant our garlic.

I'm in a mood to start "finishing" the inside of our house. It is finished, of course, but I really want to put some time into making it more organized and functional. I'm starting with the pantry. I'm embarrassed to post the picture - but, hopefully it will help hold me accountable. Feel free to check in with me if you don't see updates!

You can see that it is a disorganized mess. Things are haphazardly tossed in there and there really isn't much rhyme or reason. Yes, there are tortillas. I'm making shrimp tacos for tonight and after a ten hour drive yesterday, I'm not in the mood to whip up my own. And yes, we keep our eggs in the pantry.

I'm hoping to transition to all clear/glass storage containers. I love reusing our yogurt containers since we can't recycle them in our area. But, it presents a problems when I go to get things out. I have to look through all the containers to find what I'm looking for. And yes, I do know I could label the containers, but I want to be able to see our dried beans. Especially since we grew them ourselves!

I found inspiration from Jen over at iheartorganizing. Her pantry is swoon worthy. We have wire shelves, too, and they drive me nuts. I picked up some contact paper today and hope to find some foam board that's affordable. I want to make the pantry pretty and functional. I'm also in love with her labeling. Maybe I need to save up some money for one of these! I'm going to stop by Dollar Tree and Dollar General to scope out some glass storage containers.

How about you? Are you in an organizing mood as well? If so, join me!