No politics or unpleasant ponderings this post, I promise!
Just some homesteady happy snaps and a well wishing for a wonderful weekend. 🙂
Drum roll, please, for this next rare shot . . . A Skittles sighting!
Mystifying mushrooms! These are quite common, honies (armillaria tabescens) claimed to be good by a good many foragers, but we haven’t tried them yet, because my mushrooming buddy and her husband got wretchedly ill on them once. Oops, I promised no unpleasantries. 😉
I suppose these next snaps might be unpleasant to some, sorry! I do get that, I felt that at first too, but I was gradually desensitized as I realized how much economic sense it makes, what an amazing skill it is, and especially how magically delicious it is.
Our favorite foraging expert who we forayed with nearby this past spring has a great new website all about medicinals. Here’s a short podcast about it, and reminding me that now is the time I should be collecting some goldenrod before winter! Medicine Man Plant Co
We’ve been at this about a decade now, learning by trial and error. Because of a major health crisis in the family, I’ve been introspecting even more than usual these days. That’s why I haven’t been posting much lately.
I thought it high time to deeply consider what our own health futures might hold, Hubby and I, while we are not under the immediate duress of old age and poor health. Health is one of the main reasons why we committed to this homesteading lifestyle. Other reasons are political, esthetic, quality of life and, for me at least, a sense of urgency to hold on to something precious for future generations—nature—before it slips completely from our lives.
Watching the impact of the Scamdemic not only on the economy, but also on our ‘health care’ system has demonstrated unequivocally that, despite the challenges and hardships, we’ve made the right choice.
Our ‘health care’ system, which is actually a disease promoting system, is beyond hope, in my estimation. (This one’s surely gone viral by now, but in case you haven’t seen it yet, it’s brilliant!) The DEVOLUTION of covid vaccine efficacy
I truly believe the only way out of the mess this country has become is by reclaiming our natural rights back from the government.
However, that first means reclaiming our natural responsibilities—those ‘unpleasant’ aspects of life we’ve come to outsource to the government (and their corporate partners in crime) in the first place, which has made it ridiculously powerful, as all governments (and their co-conspirators) are wont to be.
We are trying to accomplish that by first demonstrating to ourselves, and then hopefully to others, that such a thing is possible, and also desirable.
But what if, due to our increasing age, we had to choose? Limited strength, mobility issues, cognitive decline, all are serious potential threats to our continued lifestyle here.
Considering this I’ve made a few lists, ranking our current activities against future realities based on: Required inputs, health impact, pleasure principle, and bang for the buck.
It isn’t pleasant. I don’t want to give up any of it, ever! Bees, chickens, pigs, sheep, goats, veggie garden, fruit orchard . . . . But, here goes.
Kombucha, no caveats, it stands alone. If you can make tea you can make kombucha. It’s healthy, it’s fun, it’s delicious. Hubby no longer drinks beer or soda thanks to this amazing beverage, better for health and finances for us, and far better for the environment too, with almost no waste.
Sourdough bread, and already we have caveats. I know loads of folks think they are gluten intolerant; I used to think I was too. Grains properly prepared are nothing like most store-bought breads, for health and taste. Around these parts you can’t even find good bread. In other locales you may be able to find it, but I’d guess the prices are scary. Making your own sourdough bread is time consuming, but it’s not difficult. Same goes for sourdough cookies, brownies, pizza crusts, etc. And, let’s face it, gluten-free products are not tasty, so there’s some extra incentive.
Raised garden beds, and more caveats. Starting to garden at an advanced age is probably not going to be too successful. Of all we do here it claims the prize of Most: most expensive, most labor intensive, most greatest learning curve, most unreliable results. Still, I love it! So, continuing to garden with some foresight and adjustments is perfectly doable. I insist!
That short list makes me sad. It’s the bare bones and I hope such sacrifices will never be required of us—no more chickens, goats, big dogs, great big garden?!
I don’t even want to consider it, but there it is.
There are also many projects still on my list to successfully accomplish, which are in trial and error mode now. Like making all our own body care and household cleaning products and herbal medicines. Hubby has future hopes of making furniture, if his current to-do list will ever allow it. No time for poor health here!
So, another short list is in order. The three things, in addition to those above, that I hope and pray we never get too old for: 1. Bees — not even for the honey necessarily 2. Chickens — they are easy enough to manage, but they attract predators 3. Goats — mostly for the cheese making, but they’re pretty good company too
And the three things we would most likely not be able to continue into old age: 1. Slaughtering — tough work, no doubt about it 2. Orchard — even established ones are a lot of work 3. Pigs — high maintenance, yes, but so delicious
We have no intention of ever rejoining urban life. And as far as intentions go, avoiding nursing homes and hospitals is right at the top of that list as well.
I’d love to read any comments on how you’ll be avoiding the hospitals and nursing homes too! And, are you sick of ‘civilization’ yet?!
No rest for the weary around here! Our goal of year-round garden harvesting has been met and is every bit as rewarding, and exhausting, as I expected.
Living, working and eating according to the season is remarkably satisfying. In the last couple of years especially I’ve spent much less time learning from books and much more on direct observing and experimenting.
I’m thinking our next goal should be to throw the calendar and the clock out with the garbage. Show those Amish what a real Luddite looks like! HA! 🙂
This time of year the spiders tell me it’s a good thing I’ve got the cool season crops out already. Many of them were started indoors, then transferred outside under shade cloth which will remain until the heat breaks, fingers crossed we don’t get an early frost.
I’ve just started harvesting the sweet potatoes, the luffa and peppers are going crazy, the radishes, volunteer cherry tomatoes and lettuces are finally happy again and I’m most excited for the mirliton squash (chayote) that is finally getting its first flowers. This will (hopefully) be our first success with mirlitons following multiple failed attempts. I love this squash, but it thrives in southern Louisiana mostly, because it needs a very long warm season, even longer than we get here. I started these indoors in February, along with the turmeric, also a first for us this year.
As soon as it cools down I’ll also be harvesting honey, lots of herbs for drying and pesto, along with foraged leaves and roots for teas— sassafras, beauty berry, sumac—and once we finally get some rain, it’ll be time for mushrooms.
Hubby will be filling the freezer with lamb and pork and freshening our flock for spring lambs and a few to add to our growing herd of milking goats.
Hibiscus in May, hibiscus today . … still not blooming because I got a late start.
The honey bees love the Thai basil and the native bees especially love the salvia and the sweet potato and luffa flowers. We’ve decided next year to plant an entire row of luffa in the orchard just for the bees and pigs.
Hope you can enjoy a moment of piglet playtime! Surely there will be time for a wee rest in late winter?
Sanity still reigns on the wee homestead and I thought maybe a few of y’all might need a decent dose of it during these crazy dog days of summer amidst continued global chicanery.
The garden looks more like a jungle, but there is a method to the madness. Mostly it’s called ‘too hot to bother’. Still, it looks better than it ever has this time of year (which is saying very little) so I’m proud of a few things worth sharing.
The pigs are eating well off the luffa, which does so well here it actually out-competes the grasses. I wish we liked to eat it too, but I do use the sponges. It’s widely consumed in some cultures, so I might keep trying recipes to see if anything can improve its very bland taste. Plus, the bees love it, so it’s definitely a keeper.
We’re pretty limited on the veggie harvest this time of year, which means eating okra almost daily. I’m really not a big fan and it’s not even a fun one to harvest. It’s prickly and the fire ants scout every inch of it waiting to fall into your gloves or onto your thighs as you cut the spears. Its only redeeming qualities, if you ask me, are that it thrives in the heat and the flowers are pretty.
It’s our first harvest of scuppernong grapes and I’ll soon be making some wine and jelly. I’m kind of sick of canning, after all the pickles and having tried several new canning recipes this year, but I must find the grit somewhere and get back to it. For my latest experiments we’ll soon be tasting pickled watermelon rind, melon butter, and some exotically flavored cucumbers. That’s in addition to all our usual staples of pickles and salsas and sauces.
I’ve also made poke wine! It tastes pretty weird, but is supposed to be an excellent medicinal, so I thought it would be good to have on hand this winter. Despite popular hype, poke berries are not poisonous. Well, not exactly anyway. The seeds inside the berry are poisonous if chewed. You must extract the juice or swallow the berries whole.
Our pear harvest was quite small this year, but those will be processed soon too, into cider and preserves. My favorite, figs, have been doing better after a couple years of total failure. Too bad we eat them too fast to preserve them!
I’ve settled into a nice routine with milking our goat Summer and am extremely pleased with the cheeses I’ve been making. It took some getting used to, fitting it all into a workable new plan, after making mostly large-batch cheeses for several years. I’m using only traditional methods now too, so no more expensive cheese cultures to purchase.
Organizing seeds and preparing the fall plantings are also in high gear. It’s a real challenge in 90+ degree temps to be considering the cool season crops. I’ve got some started indoors under lights and my direct sow method amounts to throwing a variety of seeds in the ground every week, waterIng liberally, and keeping fingers crossed. Usually, eventually, some seedlings get brave and make an appearance and if we’re lucky, will produce something before the first frost.
Handy Hubby’s still rockin’ the new utility room and it’s already looking fabulous! It’s been a 100% DIY project for him and he never fails to impress. Once done I’ll give him a proper staging and big kudos post.
Nature is not perfect, nor perfectible. But whether in chaos or order there can always be found magnificent beauty that heals, energizes and inspires.
I don’t like to see folks high on false Hopium when they face troubled times. I don’t like political slogans or wistful mantras about Hate or Love.
I wish all mankind could feel what I feel, see what I see, touch what I touch, so that the wholesome Hopium of pure life filled them each day with all the sense of wonder and potential, or challenge and purpose, they try forever in vain to find in others’ words and buying things.
And they would know to micromanage Life is antithetical to our raison d’etre, not to mention a hard lesson in futility.
Co-creating beauty and abundance, participating directly in our daily sustenance, living reciprocally between the heavens and the soil is a marvelous feast of the mind, heart and soul.
Nature does not long to be worshipped, or revered, or admired from afar, or just replicated in images. It is us, it is ours to be truly seen and felt, up close and very personal, not as masters or servants, but as partners, in divinity.
To work with nature, really work WITH it and IN it, is to spend your days suspended in magic.
Try one minute of bee zen. Can you hear their successful model of a happy colony? Contrary to popular lore, the worker bees control the queen, not the other way around. Can you sense their contentedness in maintaining their colony as instinctually as every Superorganism does?
Just like the human body, if left to its own devices, it knows just what to do.
Big days on the wee homestead! The cucumbers are coming in by the bushel full, the lambs are dropping like rabbits, the mushrooms are growing like mad and the bees sound exceptionally pleased. I can’t keep up!
Luckily, Handy Hubby is here now every day, thanks to his ‘early retirement’ (that is his layoff six months ago) thanks to The Great Scamdemic. With his steady efforts and attention our place is shaping up beautifully and my stress levels have been reduced by half, even as chaos still reigns. For these are not the only new milking mamas, I’m now officially a milkmaid in training myself!
Learning to milk in humid and buggy 95 degrees F is every bit as pleasant as it sounds. 😏
Handy Hubby crafted me a nice milk stand from plans posted by Fias Co Farms, a very good resource for goat newbies.
The chanterelles will surely give up very soon in this heat, so I forced myself to brave the mosquitoes and ticks once more to gather one last big basket full. I came across a new variety while hunting that’s not in any of my books, so I contacted Texas Foraging expert Mark ‘Merriwether’ Vorderbruggen, who identified it and directed me to this excellent site:
Since our temps went from April-like to August-like overnight, I got stuck in a bit of a bind with the bees. Because I’m trying to work between 3 different hive types (very stupid, do not entertain this folly I would advise) I’m trying to get them to move of their own accord. It is working, but it is quite a slow process. I will eventually have 3 colonies from this one very full nuc without too much destruction or fuss, or at least that’s my plan.
To end I offer a true garden success. I’ve been experimenting a lot with companion planting, sometimes with advice from permaculture books, but sometimes just by my own observations. This year I planted sunflowers very early, before it was warm enough for the cucumbers and melons. My thought was to attract the bees to the garden like a lure down to the still small cucumbers. It’s worked like a charm and the trellises are bursting with activity.
I’m also trying some new tricks with the tomatoes, letting the cherry types go wild, but highly managing the large varieties and interspersing them with various herbs, lots of comfrey, turmeric and ginger. The results are not yet in on those efforts, but I’ll keep y’all posted.
Wow, what weather! We got 12 inches of rain overnight on Monday, far more than we’ve ever seen here. Unlike the tornadoes, hurricanes and hail, however, I don’t complain about the rain. This region was made for rain, and lots of it. It’s the droughts that are far more difficult to withstand, and far more unnatural.
Texas Weather Modification doesn’t respond to public inquiries and they don’t share data on all the various projects happening around the state, so who’s to say if this was all Mother Nature. Man’s tech being ‘proprietary’ after all, we peons and peasants are relegated to the realms of conspiracy theory. Folks will continue to deny the weather warfare schemes until the bitter end, I suppose. No one wants to believe man is manufacturing the weather, despite clear evidence right at our fingertips.
However, that’s beside this particular post’s point. This is what we woke up to, the sound of Niagara Falls outside our window! While still in bed I said to Hubby, “What is that sound? It can’t be wind, the trees aren’t blowing!” One look outside and I saw, that’s the creek that now looks like the Mississippi, flowing right over the road and bridge (sorry for the shaky camera, I was focused on the roar more than the image).
While we had several fence issues from the debris, lost a favorite old tree, and the electricity was out for a spell, it’s absolutely amazing to me how resilient nature can be.
The water was mostly receded in just one day and then, out come the lovely fruits as kind rewards for our losses and extra labor.
Chanterelles abound, the flowers and veggies are flourishing. The mosquitoes and ticks too, no gifts given without associated costs.
One delicious dinner of pasta in cream sauce with chanterelles, green brier tips and sweet peas. And another favorite tonight, pizza of course, which Hubby pronounced my best ever. Our own homemade cheese, bacon and sourdough crust certainly help the chanterelles sautéed in garlic butter make their best impression. .
While hunting chanterelles I stumbled upon a rather large patch of this rare beauty which I once mistook for a wild orchid. Actually it’s a Purple Pleat-leaf, in the Iris family. It’s gorgeous in the wild, but wilts immediately when cut. I carefully uprooted a few of the tiny shallow bulbs and transplanted them in the garden.
Hopefully the bees will find them as lovely as I do! If not, they still have their garden favorites.
I’ve heard contention whether envy or jealousy is ‘le mot juste’ and while I’m interested in the semantics, in this particular case, for the moment, I’m more interested in the feelings.
Let’s just say, for the sake of this post and the wisdom I’m trying to impart within it, that envy, like its roots, denote from ‘envie’, or, ‘to desire’. That is, within this particular context, to desire something for its own sake, not to receive pleasure by withholding from another.
To desire something at the expense of another is a feeling I’ve not yet known, though I’m assured constantly it’s a quite universal feeling. Not that I’m saying at any level that I’d wish to share my spouse, as one example, with another for the sole sake that such an individual would benefit, at the level that I theoretically might, according to such anecdotes, from the accolades or astral benefits of sharing my spouse. Now that I’ve only managed to combombulat the issue, let me state it unequivocally: Desire is love without the commitment.
To say “J’ai envie de toi.” is a far more sexually explicit thing to say in French than to say “Je t’aime.” Yet both are translated often as “I love you.” In Spanish the two expressions prove even more nebulous.
Until this particular feeling enlightens my consciousness I can only say what I’ve experienced personally in that relative ballpark. I have “envied” only one person in my entire life—in this particular sense of I WANT what you’ve GOT—and it was not for her beau, or her looks, or her wealth—though that is not to say that any of those were not enviable. In fact, as enviable as any of these things might be, this young woman would have no idea whatsoever I ever ‘envied’ her at all. It was like 20 years ago, or so.
And yet, when I think of her, my heart is stroked. I get a knee-jerk reaction of nostalgia mixed with mystery that evokes in turn a tear-jerk reaction that is completely unique to this particular individual.
I don’t even remember her name. In fact, in the most attracting moments I ironically also found her a bit irritating—as odd as that sounds—too lively, too happy, too in love, or something.
She was blonde and bubbly and sleeping with the boss, so I really don’t knock my irritation too much. But, she had something else. It’s so extraordinarily rare anyone has anything I want, but she had it. To me, in a way I didn’t understand at all at the time, she had the ring of power.
And She had it so fucking good it burned. It burned me! My desire for what she had burned me, so hard, that over 20 years later, my biggest triumph in life is, #metoo. But not for her man, her plan, or her choices!
No, not that #metoo nonsense!
She knew the plants.
We walked through Prince William Sound Alaska, and the flora and fauna were like relatives to her. She knew her TERRITORY! Never, not ever before or since, have I felt that kind of envie.
And now I know, if she were to meet me again now, she’d say the very same thing about me.
She’d see in me what I saw in her: Pride in my territory.
And so, this strange young woman I knew for only a few months, in changing the course of my mind, changed the course of my life, for the better, forever.
And she has no clue about it, at all, and most likely never will.
Related to the psychological term ‘cognitive dissonance’ this new Eco-socio-scientism-conspiracy term describes the thermometer and related mechanical device-reading temperatures that refuse to align with the visual and sensory data which would otherwise assure a concerned individual that the season is indeed changing.
A lunch of freshly foraged chanterelles and lactarius indigo—lucky for me, I chose wisely. These are not beginner’s mushrooms and I was really nervous! (Hubby didn’t dare, citing the obvious need that, just in case, someone must live to tell the story.)
Persimmon seeds in the feral hog scat is a better indicator than that blazing 90 degrees Fahrenheit that’s frying the kohlrabi and beet seedlings before they’re a centimeter above the soil’s surface. Don’t fool yourselves, it’s not just ‘Mother Nature.’
This is that tricky New Micro-Season in East Texas, thanks mostly to weather engineering I’ve no doubt, where no crop, or handler, understands what’s actually happening.
The days are far too hot for the cool season, the nights far too variable for any season. The hungriest and most prolific garden pests are still proliferating, long from dead from potential threat of frost, but the hungry chickens are unable to benefit because said voracious insects are conveniently barricaded with the young greens and seedlings they so covet within the garden gates where there‘s narry a predator to be found.
If the past few years of weather whiplash are an example, we’ll go from shade cloth over our boxes to in need of frost protection within a few days. Maybe this time we’ll be ready for it?
The bees are as excited as if it’s spring, which gets me worrying. I plan to do some honey harvesting very soon. I have a mean colony who I’ve been giving the benefit of the doubt for well over a year now but who might get the permanent boot very shortly. I got stung in the eyebrow, again, just trying to maneuver around their hive, gently. Just in order to weed!
There’s just no call for that level of aggression around here; they’re clearly asking for some serious retaliation. Sure, the golden rod they’re feasting on was not my doing, but that tree groundsel, excuse me, a meager toll is in order, considering I planted that expressly in that very position for their exclusive benefit.
2nd favorite thing I’ve planted this year: Thai Red Roselle, makes my favorite Kombucha, another favorite discovery of 2020!
First favorite, check back to summer posts, Trombetta squash. We are still eating it!