Welcome to Mama Homesteader!

Follow my family in year 3 of our homesteading journey. Along the way we try to answer the question ," What can one small family do to change their lives on little more than 1/10th of an acre?" Let's Find Out!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Out in the garden!

    A few days ago Sarah and I planted the pea/bean beds. Now we have some really gorgeous green sprouts! Those three beds hold bush beans, sugar snap peas, regular peas, sage, thyme, cumin, and cayenne peppers. All of them are looking great! Along with that we planted the rest of our hostas in the shade garden and mulched it. We have a bit around the door and trash can that I think we'll be digging and mulching, but its pretty much all done and looks nice.
    And on a positive note: The rose that I thought had died has surprised me with new growth! Finding that was wonderful. I promptly removed the one I planted before Mother's day. It has done NOTHING since it was planted! Another wonderful walmart dud. Oh well, I have my prize rose and I am happy. I transplanted it, some of it looks rather iffy, but there is a section that looks great. As long as I keep it happy in its new home- there will eventually be beautiful blooms greeting my guests.
    The heat has been a little unbearable the last day or two. We did a lot of running between payday errands and memorial day celebrations! The heat (and hives) didn't curb Sarah's enthusiasm for great weather. We planted flowers at the cemeteries. Sarah is a pro planter by the way! :) She had fun at TWO cookouts on Sunday! To top it all off she watched a parade (and got lots of candy) and won a goldfish:) Life is nice!
    But heat aside, her and I will be out in the garden early tomorrow. I have some of the beds ready for planting. We'll be planting broccoli, turnips, cucumbers, tomatoes (some of them), and marigolds (leftovers from what was bought for cemeteries). If we can tolerate the weather we may do more, at the very least prep a few beds for Wednesday! I'm aiming for Wednesday/Thursday for planting potatoes. The bed is done, but I need to give my cut seed potatoes a day or two to cure before planting. We should get about 35 lbs of potatoes out of our planting!
   On that note, I will be expanding the garden. The seedlings I started for my mom have come around enough that I will be planting them. She went ahead and bought plants, so I am left figuring out what to do with the ones I have. So officially I'll be adding at least  four more types of tomato (12 plants), cauliflower, eggplant, and another type of green pepper. It's all good...I'll be a summer vegetarian.

                                               Cheers! ~Mama Homesteader


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Homeschool Preschool

     I love being able to teach Sarah new things, but I am the first to admit that this is hard. There is only so much I can do to keep her engaged. She loves her work book, and we work with it about 30 minutes a day. we do puzzles, play games, watch Dora, read, do crafts and do things around the house.  
     We don't always do it, but I have relaxed myself. I can't sit her down and do a lesson like in a "real" school. That is not how Sarah works. We can only spend 15-20 minutes before its time to move on, because that is her attention span before she's ready to move on. I have relaxed myself into our preschool merely introducing concepts to her. I know she's not going to master them right away, but the ideas are being planted.
     This month we focused on ABC and items that begin with that letter, and 0123. We talked about different modes of transportation, and she recognized most of them- though truck and taxi are a bit harder. Since we are gardening I added gardening tools and parts of a flower (flower, leaves, stem, roots). I made matching games for both transportation and gardening. She loves them both and plays them everyday!
      We are also in the process of gearing our dining room toward Sarah and learning. Once I have everything the way I'd like it, I will be posting pictures!

                                                        Cheers! Mama Homesteader

Garden Update

      Today a family friend, Dave, came and tilled the majority of the garden. It was a HUGE relief to have it done, it's a lot of space and I was dreading digging it by hand!

   What you see are actually five spaces along the back, and two longer spaces across the front. There is also one across the back of the shed! They look a bit messy right now, Dave's tiller is a beast. Once I have all the kicked out soil raked back in, it will look much better!                                                          
      Sarah and I also got our one and only raspberry planted. It was disappointing that the second bush we bought was dead, and the selection of that variety at walmart all seem to be dead. But so far the one bush we have is thriving well!

         I know it's hard to see, but its there in the middle of the dirt. Before you know it we'll have canes everywhere! Good things can come in small packages!                                                                             
        I also started the shade garden on the side of the house. You will also notice in this picture that the bushes on the end of my porch are gone! Well mostly, we still have to pull up the roots yet!  

I had an enormous amount of Hostas on the property, so I put most to good use and the rest I gave away on Freecycle! I was also very surprised to find ferns in the back yard, Sarah and I planted them    along with the hostas. For  the most part the side shade garden is done. There are a few more hostas    that we will be planting on the other side of the garbage can. But if weather holds up, we can             probably get that done tomorrow! As for the bushes, once they are gone we'll be putting in two dwarf lilac bushes. They'll only get 5 ft tall  and 5 feet wide maximum, and I'll still have room for more        hostas! LOL                                                                                                                                              

The above picture looks a little messy. Sarah and I have some weeding to do! Her NiNi Pam gave her some violas, and she gave Mark and I Marigolds for Mother's Day. We planted those along with a new Tea Rose in this front bed. I am really glad that I left the Azaleas alone, because they are absolutely      stunning! Sarah's bird statue completes the bed!                                                                                                                  

We have tomatoes everywhere! Four dozen plus a few extra. I can't wait till I have the garden beds finished so that Sarah can plant her " 'Tatoes "! Mom's stuff didn't do so well, but I think it was due to too small pots and not enough light. My marigolds didn't do well either, only three our of thirty six      sprouted and grew. Maybe next year! I have a few tweaks to do to make the greenhouse work  better, but next year we will be much more efficient in our seed starting!

                                                    That's all the garden news for now!            

Cheers! ~ Mama Homesteader           

Canning Chili

   Recently I made way too much chili for lunch one weekend. Usually, and I am ashamed to say, soup leftovers rarely get used up. It's not because we don't like them, but its because I either forget that it is in the fridge, or that its in the freezer. I hate wasting anything! My solution was to try my hand at canning the leftover chili, two quarts of it.  Following the instructions for my canner, I pressure canned them at 75 minutes. What I was left with were two stunning jars of chili!

I loved adding these to my growing stockpile of canned goods! It's awesome to think that once I have my stockpile built up, that I can grab a can of soup on a busy day knowing what's in it. Healthy and    
Cheers! ~ Mama Homesteader

Homemade crayons

   Last Christmas Sarah received a large 200 count box of crayons. She already had the remnants of two large boxes, so we have an AMPLE supply of crayons at our house!! The real question became- what on earth to do with the broken fragments. Bits and pieces of crayon are a fact of life, but finding a way to reuse them can be fun and creative.
    At Make and Takes, they have all the instructions for turning those old bits and pieces into new fun crayons. In our case, I carefully peeled the crayons when my little one was asleep. She loves to peel the paper, but quickly gets frustrated. Once peeled, I sorted them according to color into a muffin tin lined with cupcake wrappers. The next day, Sarah watched as I put them in the oven. She was excited as I pulled them out later, she kept asking when she could have them. Once they were cooled, she had a blast with them!

Such pretty colors, I just had to take a picture in sun to show them off!

Sarah loved showing off her "chunky" crayons!

Coloring is hard (but fun) work!

These crayons also make a fun stacking game!

This is a wonderful activity to do with young children. You can let your imagination soar with different color  and shape variations. Better still- no more crayon bits!

Cheers! ~ Mama Homesteader