When Dreams Change

Have you ever wanted something so badly, for so long, that it was all you could think about day and night?  You would eat, drink, and sleep that dream, and everything you did revolved around it in one way or another?

And then something happens in your life…it can be something big and epic, or something small and seemingly insignificant…but it changes everything.  It changes how you see things, where you see yourself, what you envision for you future, and your life.  Ultimately, it changes your dreams.

For me, it was a trip to the East Coast for a friend’s wedding.  It.  Changed.  Everything.

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One look at Lady Atlantic, and she stole my soul.  As cheesy as it must seem to you – I literally feel a physical ache since I left there.  Pulling at me to come back.  As if I left a part of me…a vital part….there.

Life is different there.  There’s no rat race.  No fast forward.  No competition for the bigger house – the nicer clothes – the more expensive car.

And this is where my dream changes….

It used to be that I wanted land…a lot of it.  Acres.  For growing gardens, and crops.  For raising small farm animals.  Without a neighbor in sight.  Living off the land, and as off-grid as possible.

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What we have been talking about, is getting a fixer-upper.  Where we’re looking, you can get a decent sized house (that needs a large amount of TLC) for a fraction of a fraction of the price we would pay here!

We could be mortgage free in just a few years, fix up the house to our own liking….and be a five minute walk from the ocean!

No…I probably couldn’t have my chickens (or maybe I could, depending on the town’s laws…Hmm…something to look into!)….but I could definitely have bees! (Already looked into that one!!)  🙂  And no goats, or sheep, or pigs…and definitely no cow.  But the vegetable garden would still be on the table (figuratively an literally…ha!)

So as much as I feel that I’m “giving up” on my dreams, I’m really just, sort of readjusting them a little.

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From homestead in the countryside, to keeping it “urban” in a little fishing town in Eastern Nova Scotia.

Now I have a new dream that I want so badly that I think about day and night.  That I eat, drink, and sleep, and everything I do revolves around it in achieving it, in one way or another.

So folks, it looks like my plan of turning My Little Urban Homestead into an actual homestead are, well, buried at sea! 🙂

East Coast….Here I come!

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Garden by Design – And it Begins

It’s finally that time, and I’m so excited!  No more snow, and I’m almost certain that frosty nights are almost a memory.  Time to start some seeds!!!  I have to say however, I need to get a better setup.  This sitting and bending forward – yeah, not doing it for me (or my poor back!).

Man, I just LOVE this time of year, digging in the dirt, new growth everywhere you look, it’s so energizing!  Like Mother Earth is waking up and she’s finally done with the morning grumpies.

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I love playing in the dirt…don’t you?  I love opening a new bag of soil and running it through my fingers.  It’s like the grownup version of mud pies.

I’ve got lots of work to do still, and a lot more seeds to plant, but at least I got a start on it tonight.  I even hit two of my ‘Garden by Design’ picks!

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I’ve got lots of basil because I plan on making some pesto (mmm!)…some spinach and chives, and thyme (another GBD pick!), five cucumber plants – I might just try my hand at pickles – and some corn.   Seriously people, I cannot live without corn.  If I could only eat one food for the rest of my life, it would be corn.

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I’ve also got some green bean bushes, and lettuce.  A lot of the seeds I’m planting now, I will plant more of in a couple of weeks.  I’m going to try some succession planting so that everything isn’t all ready at the same time and then finished.  I’m also going to try some companion planting.  I’m thinking peas to go up the corn stalks…what do you think?

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These little ones started off as little shoots sprouting off of a rutabaga I have sitting on my counter.  I picked them off, dropped them in a glass of water, and about a week and a half later, I had some roots!  …and I just picked three more little buggers off of it, so we’ll see if they do the same!

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All in all, I think it was a pretty productive evening.  I still have to get my little tomato seeds planted (and hope they grow!), but I’m also going to get other tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic, plant the pepper seeds I saved, and lots and lots of flowers.

I wanted to do so much, but after thinking about it extensively, I feel that if I over-do it, I’m going to get overwhelmed and fail.  I want to do quite a bit still, but I think I need to cap it so I don’t sabotage myself with my first real garden.

Now I’ve got to finish some tasks I’ve already started so that I can get these in the ground when they’re ready!  1) Finish clearing out the flat area of the yard, 2) Get our burning permit so we can get rid of all of this wood (and save the ash for other homesteading projects), and 3) get the materials I need to build my raised beds and just Git R’ Done!

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Task 4… fill up this hole Tucker found so we don’t break a leg while mowing the lawn!  …I have to admit, it does look kind of cozy though!

Spring Fever

It looks like Mother Nature might finally be done sulking – today has been the most glorious day!  Warm, sunny, and just completely perfect.

The last few weeks have been a bit wonky.  Warm weather one day, a snow storm the next.  It has a way of making people miserable.  Add to that, that every single one of my little baby apple trees died and well, I haven’t exactly been a happy camper when it came to homesteading activities.

But with today being such a beautiful day, I figured I’d trade in my cabin fever for Spring fever!

I stepped outside, and almost walked right back in.  Yard clean up after years of owners completely neglecting it, is a daunting task.  But I rolled up my sleeves (and didn’t think to wear gloves or long pants – not my best moment).

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I’m pretty sure some of these dead tree limbs – lets face it, they’re too big to merely be “branches” – must have been here for years!  They’re so dry the pieces just snap right off.  Piles of branches, and what seemed like miles of this invasive vine growing everywhere and attaching itself to everything.

Once the bulk of it has been cleared out, I think the lawnmower will be the best line of defense against it.  It seems to just take root wherever it touches the ground – I’m really not sure what it is, but it’s completely taken over this part of the yard.

Three and a half hours later, I’ve made some progress.  Not close to being done just yet, but the pile of wood I dragged out of there is heartening!

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Tomorrow, we’re going to go pick up a burn permit.  Neighbors tell us they’re only $23 per year – a very small price to pay to get rid of all of this, and enjoy months of backyard fires, while avoiding the $250 fines for burning without a permit.

It’s always a good idea to inform yourself when you move to a new area.  You want to make sure you know the laws and follow them – it’s not worth the aggravation to be a rebel. 😉

I have to say, I’m pretty proud of what I accomplished today.  I’m not sure if I’ll be able to move tomorrow because every part of me aches, but seeing an end in sight puts a smile on this girl’s face.

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Now I face a conundrum.  This is the flattest spot in our yard.  It’s also home to some pretty big trees.  Trees = shade.  I want to put my raised garden beds here, but I also want to be able to grow a wide variety of vegetables.

The Summer sun will hit that spot when it’s high in the sky, so I can confidently guess at about six hours of good sun, and then partial / spotted shade.  The neighbors also advised us today that the very heavy population of rabbits ate their entire lettuce and kale crop last year, so I think some sort of fencing will be in order.

Another neighbor (his dilapidated garage shown in the picture) told us that wild raspberry is rampant back here as well, so it looks like I’ll be able to make a few jars of homemade raspberry preserves this year!  Bonus!!

Aching body, sore feet, and splintered hands aside, I’m so excited to finally be able to get started making this backyard jungle turn into an oasis.  And I can’t wait to take you all along for the ride!

Sunday Do-Da-Day

Today was a do-day.  Since yesterday ended up being rather less-than-ideal for reasons I won’t go into, I wanted today to be a productive day.

It started with my alarm waking me up at 1:00 AM so that I could pick up my daughter from work.  “I’ll be done at 1:30.” she’d told me.  I got there at 1:27…and waited until 2:23. Sigh.

But my bed embraced me like a lover when I got home, and I stayed there until about 9:30. When I woke up, it was to a veritable Winter Wonderland!  Big fat beautiful snowflakes were falling slowly, making it feel as if we were in a snow globe..and it seemed they had been doing so all night!  About 6 or 7 inches I would say, and it was still coming down.

I know many places have been completely pummeled by Father Winter in the last few days, and our measly half-foot is probably laughable to a lot of people.  But we had about a centimeter on the ground before last night, so a beautiful picture to wake up to this morning!

I think workouts that aren’t an actual ‘workout’ are the best ones.  Good old fashioned hard work in the great outdoors.  Shoveling heavy snow has to be one of the best in my opinion.

Before I joined hubby outside to shovel, I put a big pot of homemade vegetable broth on the stove.  It’s my first attempt at it, and I’m proud of the outcome!  I see lots of soup in our future!

Now that I know how easy this is, my freezer will never be without lots of this stuff.  You can do so much with it!!

Everything went in – from the bunch of celery that had long ago seen it’s prime and was laying rather…um…unmanly…in the bottom of the crisper, to ends and peels from the carrots, parsnips and turnips I chopped up as part of the week’s food prep – even dried up rosemary sprigs and the stems from a bunch of parsley!  When we walked in after an hour of hauling snow, the house smelled yummy!

I’ve got about a dozen freezer bags now filled with either broth or chopped veggies ready for the slow-cooker as this week’s meals!  One of the main topics of our last family meeting was being better organized for meal-time.  We’re now deciding the meals we’ll be eating for the week ahead on the weekend, and I’m prepping as much as I can ahead of time so make things easier during the week!  Tomorrow…Beef Stew!  …and of course something vegetarian for my daughter.

Tonight it was just hubby and I for dinner, so I made us some homemade poutine with some vegetarian gravy my co-worker gave me with strict instructions to give him my absolute honest opinion.  …I’ll be asking for his recipe tomorrow!  Went a little bit rebel-child with the cheese, mixing it up with some sharp yellow Cheddar and some jalapeno Havarti.

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Oh, and can’t forget my little surprise this morning when I checked oh my baby orchard!!  They are all popped!!  All nine of them!!  I’m so fricken excited!!!! 🙂  I can’t wait until they start looking like little baby trees!

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So now it’s nearly 11:00 PM on Sunday night, my feet ache for being on them all day, and I don’t want to go to bed because as soon as I do the weekend is over!

Hope you all had a good weekend, and wishing everyone a good week ahead!  And for those especially in the areas that have been and are still getting hit with insane amounts of snow, please stay safe!
*** UPDATE ***

Apple trees aren’t ALL doing as well as I thought.  While 1 and 2 are doing great, already showing off their first set of real leaves, 3 seems to have popped only to die.  4 and 5 are still showing potential, while 6, 7, 8 and 9 I’m afraid might be stunted but the next couple of days will tell.

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Baby Orchard

A few weeks ago, I got it in my head to try and sprout apple seeds!  This isn’t just a whim, it’s all part of my plan to prepare for the off-grid days we’re working towards.  In wanting to be as self-sufficient as possible, I’m looking at what we’re eating now and how we can produce those things for ourselves.

Apples are a staple in this house, and I really hate buying them from the grocery store, in plastic bags, not knowing how long and far they’ve traveled to get to my fruit basket.  Not knowing what germs, pesticides and other chemicals coat their skins.  It’s really not a green practice.  So having our own fruit trees is really important to me.  There will be other fruits as well – pears, plums, maybe apricots – but I’m starting with apples!

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I started by saving nine beautiful black seeds from a Granny Smith apple, cleaning them, scoring them gently, and dropping them in a glass of water.  I had to change the water quite often because it kept turning a rusty color.  But a few weeks later, I’ve got these cute little sprouts!  All nine sprouted, and I’m so excited!!

I know this is probably not the method expert growers would use, but I’m no expert.  They say “There’s more than one way to skin a cat”…well personally I hate that saying…who the hell skins cats anyway??  But I say, there’s more than one way to sprout a seed. 🙂  They kind of look like little sperms, which I guess is kind of fitting…

I didn’t want to leave them like this in water for too long.  I don’t know if it would have harmed them, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.  My afternoon project (which took all of 10 minutes) today, was to start my little baby orchard.  A quick trip to town and I had all of my supplies…pots and trays from the dollar store, and my Timmies.

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My method isn’t complicated.  Fill 3″ pots with potting soil, poke a hole with my finger, drop in a sprouted seed, cover with soil, and spray with water.  TA-DA!

I chose to pray water instead of pouring water because I’ve noticed in the past that when I do that, it creates holes in the soil.  It may not be a problem…may just be that I’ve got a slight case of OCD…either way, this is how I did it.

I don’t know if I did it right, or if they’ll even grow.  But I’m hoping they will!  The plan is to grow them in pots while we’re living here.  I know it’ll be a few years before they’re even big enough to be anything but a pretty little tree, but that works for me because I don’t want to put them in the ground until we have our own land.

Then I can decide what type of apples I want to graft onto them.  I have to admit, I kind of want to make trees that will produce a variety of apples.  If all nine seeds make it to trees, it’ll be the beginning of a beautiful, and hopefully bountiful, fruit orchard!

And in another step ahead, I plan on keeping all of my fruit trees pruned to a height no taller than 5 feet tall.  This is to ensure than when we grow older, and aches and pains start creeping in, we’ll still be able to easily harvest our own fruit.  No ladders or step stools needed!

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Do you have any fruit trees on your homestead?  How do you keep them healthy and producing year after year?  All advice and recommendations are invited!!

A Little Green

Hi friends!  This post is a little different than all of my other posts.  Basically, it’s a personal note directed at all of you who follow me, and hopefully those who will follow me in the future.

As most of you already know, I’m currently in the learning and growing stages of becoming a full-fledged homesteader.  I’ve mentioned a few times, how I eventually would love for my ‘job’ to simply be a homesteader.  But for that to happen, I need to find and create new streams of income that won’t involve the typical nine to five.

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Hence, this post.

It’s just a little bit of a heads-up to those who regularly read my posts (And THANK YOU, by the way!).  You might start seeing a few ads on my posts in the near future.  I’m in the process of pro-and-con-ing through lists of ways to create income from blogging.

I want to say sorry now if this irritates or frustrates anyone, and I sincerely hope it won’t stop you from visiting!!  I’ll be testing the e-waters as to what works for me, and what doesn’t.

My traffic isn’t high enough to make any sort of significant difference in my bank account at the moment, but I’m hoping that in the next few years, this might change.

I would love your feedback on this, as well as your opinion on posts that do have ads or affiliate links.  I’m hoping to get started with a few in the next week or so!

Thoughts???

Garden by Design ~8~

I love cooking with fresh herbs, but for some reason whenever I get those little pots of herbs from the grocery store, I can never manage to keep them alive for more than a couple of weeks.  I’m hoping that after caring for multiple herbs and vegetables this summer, I’ll be more adept at keeping them.

I love many different herbs, but one of my favorites has be to thyme.  It’s so fragrant and flavorful, and so pretty to look at!

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In doing a little bit of research for this post, I learned that there are over 400 different varieties of thyme.  Kind of blows my mind.  Makes me feel like a bit of a thyme rookie – I’ve only ever had the regular thyme you get at the supermarket, and lemon thyme which I did manage to grow one year.  But with so many varieties, well…you can just have thyme after thyme!  Okay, corny.  Sorry.  But seriously, don’t you want to try them all?  I do!!

Now, you may not know this (I didn’t until just now), but thyme is also an unsung superhero in the world of herbs.  Besides adding tons of flavor to your favorite dishes, it also has amazing health properties.

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We’re talking some pretty serious super powers here.

Feeling a little blue?  Have some thyme!  It contains carvacrol which is known to be a natural mood enhancer! (Also found in oregano)  It also has some tumor fighting kick-ass toughness, so that’s something to be happy about as well, especially if there’s a history of cancer in our family.  And lets face it…we sort of all have a history of cancer in our families these days.

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Been a bit under the weather?  Maybe a little thyme can help!  This stuff is pretty potent and will gladly assist you in giving your sore throat a run for its money. Its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties are tough enough to even kick your bronchitis to the curb! Talk about fighting power!

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What really made me take notice however, is that it apparently also has the ability to prevent food poisoning by being a natural preservative and prevent the growth of bacteria on your food (meats).  An herb that can make my chicken taste wonderful, and keep the nasties away?  Sign me up!!

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I plan on growing enough of this herb to have plenty of it fresh all summer, as well as drying a bunch to last me through the long cold months.  It seems there’s nothing this little butt-kicker can’t do!

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What’s on YOUR spice rack?