|Looking down at the garden from the front yard|
To recap the past 4 months since I last had time to post...we built a woodshed and filled it with wood, and carved 8 terraced garden beds out of our hillside. The garden beds were a big job, but one we attacked with relish. A big part of our reason for homesteading is to grow our own food, so this was an exciting first step. After digging up the clay-ey plots by hand with shovel and hoe, we then added sand, organic cow manure (our very generous neighbors down the road gave us SEVEN truckbed loads of the stuff!), and a dozen different soil ammendments. The resulting mixture is dark and light. And our first crop is already planted - about 70 heads of garlic given to us by friends. Looking out at the patch of garlic under its blanket of straw gives me the same feeling I had when I was pregnant with Rose...a mixture of pure joy and quiet wonder, plus a little apprehension about whether everything will come out all right (and whether I'll be up to the task). Hopefully gardening will go as well as mothering has so far.
Our little house has been performing quite well in the cooler weather. By late September/early October we were back to having a semblance of refridgeration - as the nights got down into the low 40s and upper 30s, the root cellar cooled right down and we could stop buying ice blocks for the cooler. It also became cool enough to fire up the woodstove on a regular basis, and we're now using it to cook all our meals (except John's boiled eggs before work in the morning, which are much faster on the propane stove). I've been baking in the oven several times a week, and slowly learning the art of getting the fire to exactly (or almost) the right temperature...and then keeping it there. Truly mastering the art will probably be easier once Rose is a little older and not so much of a constant distraction. Luckily I tend to let the fire get too cold rather than too hot, so things just take longer rather than burning.
I've been experimenting with my own whole wheat natural-yeast (sourdough) starter, with the goal of eventually baking all our bread and not buying any from the store. Although I've made some satisfactory loaves, I'm still searching for the perfect recipe. Luckily John doesn't mind a dense "hearty" loaf with his eggs in the morning. Another fermentation experiment I'm dabbling in is kombucha. We received a "mother" from a friend and our first batch is currently brewing.
|View of the house from the garden|
Other plans for the winter are: shelving the pantry and root cellar, building an "ice house" in one end of the root cellar, finishing up trim work downstairs, and maybe getting the rest of the shingles and trim on the outside of the house. Not to mention planning out the layout of fruit trees and grape vines around the outer rim of the garden, and planning/building a chicken coop. Like I said, the "slow season" isn't really going to be very slow.
Hope everyone is happy and well and enjoying time with friends and family during the holidays. Best wishes to you and yours in the New Year!