Sunday, March 2, 2014

The First 6 Weeks

It's been 6 weeks since my last what's-going-on-around-here update?! Appropriately so my last life update was titled Calm Before the Storm. My intuition was right on there!

If we're Facebook friends you've heard bits and pieces of what's been going on, but I'll elaborate here. Darran got a job hauling off scrap iron and junk for an estate. We expected it to be a 3 week job, but it turned into a 6 week job. Unfortunately this means he didn't make as much money on it as we'd hoped, BUT he did come home with many a treasure that we are going to need (and paid the bills and we should have enough leftover to buy sawmill blades and maybe a bit more, so woohoo!).

He's brought home everything from a wind turbine, to sawmill parts, to windows, to a back-up generator. It's been amazing! One man's trash...

However, he's been working long days, 6 or 7 days a week. This has left him pretty exhausted and left most everything around here to me. On top of my usual homeschooling, house-cleaning, 4 kid-wrangling, laundry-doing, blogging, cooking, and general mom-ing I had a lot to get started on for our spring and summer plans to go off without a hitch. It's been a tough 6 weeks, but I know it's only for a season and we've kept focused on the gorgeous light at the end of this tunnel.

When the seed and poultry catalogs show up I start pining for spring!
The first task at hand for me was garden planning. (I'll try to get a more elaborate post on that up soon. It's quite the different affair planning to try to entirely feed your family.) I ordered seeds. Ok, and ordered seeds, and ordered seeds. I have a bit of a seed-buying problem.

I also ordered sweet potato plants. They won't ship until May, and it seems people say it's impossible to grow them here. I guess I just don't know any better so I'll just grow them. I was super excited to find purple ones!

We had a cold snap the first week of February and were having lows of 15 to 20 below (and highs of 5?!). Keeping everyone with non-frozen water during that time was quite a trick. Ellie and Fiona as well as the chickens stayed in their houses most of that time. I don't blame them, I did the same.

Once the weather warmed up all the animals were feeling feisty. 

Ellie and Fiona decided while Darran was away was the perfect timing to be little twerps.
As Darran was often gone past dark it was sometimes my job to do evening chores. A few nights my sweet little angels decided they in fact did not want to go in their house. They proceeded to run off through the thick brush juuust far enough ahead that I couldn't get their collars. 

Ellie and Fiona weren't the only ones that decided to take this opportunity to run-a-muck. Goldie (ever the one that wants to be in the yard no matter the weather) chose to take every opportunity to sneak out while the boys fed the chickens. She'd immediately bolt to the yard and hide in the lilac bush or cedar tree where we couldn't get to her.

Much cardio was accomplished on wild goat/chicken chases.

Though it still looks like this outside, my mind is already on planting time.
We fully understand that we're up against a short growing season here and I've been researching like crazy and asking for advice from my garden guru Facebook friends. Aside from just getting as much out of what we do plant we also plan to grow many things that most people don't even try in this area, so I'm seeking out all the gardening hacks I can find. I've also found it a challenge to figure out how much to grow to feed our family.

I was ridiculously excited at the first sprout of the year! It feels like the new beginning that it is.
As part of that season-extending I started planting seeds in February. So far I've planted several varieties of tomatoes (144 plants, but who's counting?), peppers, and a few eggplant. I also planted some marigolds because they're great to plant around the garden to discourage pests. 

Next I'll be planting cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli. Followed by melons (Everyone I have asked says I'm nuts, I'm OK with that. Just wait for pics of watermelons and cantaloupes next fall. I know they'll be here!), tons of squash varieties, cucumbers, and pumpkins. 

Hopefully everything else can fare well enough planted directly in the ground. Pretty sure my house will be jam-packed with plants by May as it is.

Valentine's Day came and went. Darran brought me presents. He gets me.
I've also been working on drawing out the house plans. It is much tougher to design a small house than a large one I've decided. We want a smaller house for many reasons, I'll keep working at it!

Darran took a beef down to slaughter (in his spare time, ha!) and we now have 620 lbs of our own home-grown, grass-fed beef in the freezer. Depending on how our other efforts go, that will hopefully last us a year+.

The chickens have also decided it's spring and are laying around 9 eggs a day. At least I know we'll have beef and eggs!

Red is thoroughly done with winter and enjoying the sunny days playing in the mud. I hate to tell her we're likely to get snow through May.

Normally we're big on gradual sun exposure. However, as Baby O. is very fair and all of our sun exposure is about to go up exponentially with all the outdoor work we have coming up, so I ordered ingredients to make my own sunscreen. I'll post the recipe as soon as I get it figured out.

I also ordered new running shoes and put a race on my May calendar. Because, why not? OK, it seems like a lot, but running is my stress relief.
I posted this on my Facebook after only the first week: 
People have asked me a lot lately how I do everything I do. My answer: my husband. Lol, he's amazing and we make a good team. And this week? With him gone so much? This mama needs a NAP! 

It's been a long 6 weeks. We're tired, but we're smiling.

Darran is off working on the sawmill right now and I'm sipping coffee, writing, planning for the week ahead, and listening to the baby monitor and the boys drawing at the table. Life is amazing. We are grateful.

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