So.. it’s been awhile..

I feel like I’m in confession a little, even though I’m not Catholic . So much has happen since my last post. Sydni and I are continuing with our self sustainability as much as we can here! I work full time now at an awesome bar and grill. I still commute!! The Rat Ride has done me well! I have also added a tricycle to our wheels. With a basket in the back, it’s perfect for the .2 miles to the grocery. Work is about .3 miles in the other direction. So everything works out great!

It’s harder the find that balance working in such a fast paced environment, even harder to not take it home. Sydni and I have started back to our yoga practice to help with that. She has really been a wall for me this past year. She understands more than I could even ask of her.ย 

We are doing some container gardening and we have 5 fruit trees . I’m re doing the front flower beds and plan on incorporating more edible landscaping into to ornamental already there. Slowly but surely!! It’s so good to be back down south, where you can buy a bushel of acre peas from your cousin, get a bag of tomatoes from your mom, the list goes on. I’ve got my compost almost at full rock ๐Ÿ™‚ Going through as much food at work prepping stuff really helps add to the heap. The worm farm is put together but not yet operational. Trying to build up some of the dirt in the back that has been barren for so long due to shade and the wrong plantings. Got some beautiful black and red elephant ears, planted because you know I love bulbs!! ivy and a little jasmine I’m trying to save. It’s all coming along ๐Ÿ™‚

We are still doing all of our art stuff on the side and may have found a partner in the department which could mean big things!! She is going to teach me to sew first hand and I cannot wait!!

trike

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Early morning thoughts..

So… What I’ve learned so far since the move.. Even though permaculture is about building your food forest on a permanent location. Name kinda says it all. Now sustainability and it’s practices, use it anywhere you go..
When we got here, I was stoked to be back, but I’ve cried over losing my micro farm several times. I miss the dirt in my garden. I miss the sweet smell of it. I’ve started no seeds. I bought 2 tomato plants with a free aphid infestation. That are potted up and sitting pretty on the dock. I think we may add a jalapeno today. I can have a dock garden ๐Ÿ™‚ my pear tree has no blooms, even though neighbours around block is.. :/ I think she may get some fish emulsion today. She had a banana peel the week I got here. My neighbours on closest side have 2 plum trees that are being devoured by moss, but they have blooms all over. I may go strip it today. Be awesome for some preserves! My neighbours on the other side have a lemon tree.ย  We have a lemon and lime coming. So we will def have more of an orchard than last time. I don’t have any of my brambles though. I can only hope the people who decide to buy our house in NC loves all we’ve done.
Sometimes I get sad knowing I’ll never have the garden or chickens here. As much as I love this family home, I still want the farm life. All kinds of animals, bees, crops everywhere! I dropping cowpeas today along fence. We still hold all our frugal practices very close. We have and want to. I never want to lose the act of humility. Doing things for yourself, not relying on others, brings a sense of that I never want to lose. Knowing where our food comes from with out paying ‘organic’ prices. It blows me away what they want for non antibiotic, anti hormone, anti real animal! Sheesh.
Once we get our routine back and Michael starts work, things will smooth out even better. Now we are waiting for his criminal background to come back so he can go take his drug test. We are hoping, HOPING, that it will be this week. It was almost 3 weeks ago Honda told him he was hired and he has still yet to start. I knew things move slower down here, that I have not forgot, but its the lack of southern professionalism that has me concerned. It seems they are flying by seat of their pants in his hiring process and we just really hope that it is not a show of the true work ethic held in that establishment. Soon though, we need all of us to get back on track with a way of life down here. Sydni is the only one with a routine! She’s doing great!! She got to go on the Jeckyl Island trip because someone had to back out and there is no refunds. So they chose her! I told her she had to be one the luckiest little girls in the world, she hugs me and smiles. As long as I’m with you, I am, she says…

Headed back down South.. :)

ImageSo, BIG BIG news folks!! We are moving to Georgia in four weeks!! My family owns a house on a small lake in Lake Park, GA. It’s about five miles from the FLA line in Lowndes county. We are so excited about this opportunity! You know around Thanksgiving, we were wanting to get back closer to some family and I seem to have the biggest lot in one place ๐Ÿ™‚

The lake house was built by my great-uncle around ’74, I believe. He had moved there to become Principal of Lake Park Elementary. He and my great-aunt have been gone many years now. Their three children inherited the home until my mother bought it.. eh.. 15 years ago?? (don’t hold me to that date ;)) What! I remember working on it on my 13th birthday, so.. that means15 years, hey I was right! Mom gutted some of the house, knocked down partial walls and voila!

She just celebrated her second wedding anniversary with her husband who she now lives with on a beautiful spread of ten acres. She has rented out the house(it is still being paid for because of refinancing) and the tenants moved out last month. So!!! We are going. It’s a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 1 office/laundry room (which was my room as a teen! but when I left, mom knocked down another wall and extended her closet halfway into that bedroom and put the washer and dryer and computer desk in there :/) All brick exterior, fireplace inside, four 75 year old (at least) oak trees that had been there before the house was built. My uncle planted four dogwood trees when the house was built but only one remains living. They died from the inside out just like the Sunday school story.

So how does this help our self sufficient journey you ask?? One major factor here is community (my family and friends of 28 years) We don’t really have and never will have the network we will down there. My two parents alone know 75% of Valdosta, GA. Michael has taken a big decrease in pay and it is really affecting us here. Commuting with my bike will be awesome around the Lakes and community there. The exercise on bike alone will be phenomenal! I’m actually REALLY excited about that! But.. I will not have the garden plot I had here. And everything we have planted in ground, we lose. We are still trying to find out about the chickens. They will be in a dog kennel in the back of the Fit if I can help it ๐Ÿ™‚ We’ve planted 5 beautiful trees, 3 tea olives, 3 rosemary bushes, 2 blueberry bushes, 2 jasmine, 1 huge Triplecrown blackberry bush, 1 each mint, spearmint, and apple mint. I can only hope the family who moves in here next sees these as a blessing. Will appreciate the life we tried so hard at putting back into the soil.

We will definitely have to change some garden practices for the new house. Start making a new homestead ๐Ÿ™‚ The back yard is mostly shaded by the oaks. The front yard is your conventional turf yard. I can’t wait to get back down there to look at the grounds with a grower’s eye. I know container gardening is going to be huge for us. Can’t wait to keep you guys posted on everything. Wish us good luck, I feel this move is for a right reason and we are embracing it wholeheartedly.

We have started the pre-packing purge for a yard/moving sale and it feels GREAT! Until next post ๐Ÿ˜‰

New year.. New projects.. New goals..

ImagePumped up for the new year!! Michael started a project on a mini wood stove. I’ve been pouring over seed catalogs, brushing up on crop rotation. Last year was all about growing, this year we actually are incorporating a little more method behind the madness ๐Ÿ™‚ I want to focus more on preserving this year. My mom got us a dehydrator for Christmas! Score. And I’m picking up a canning set soon with the Ball book to start reading through it. I canned tomatoes in a class last year so we’ll see how it goes..

Image We have a shed outside that is roughly 100 square feet. With the tiny home movement in our future, we decided to turn the shed into a model tiny home for us to see what it’s like. Now mind you, we don’t plan for 100 sq. ft. but it’s going to be fun to see what we can do with our shed.

Michael scored an 50 cal ammo box to project a mini wood stove we have seen on a couple YouTube videos. We had some old pavers left over to use for the corner for both protection and to help absorb and hold some of the heat. Using a Sharpie, ruler and his dremel, he cut out a door. He went and got piping. We want to make it chimney out the side if possible instead of the roof. Right now we are burning in it outside to burn off any zinc.

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More up to dates next week. Hope everybody had a great Christmas and Happy New Years!!

Garlic sprouts showing!!

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Now to keep the chickens out. I’ve been making them stay in their coop until 2 hours of daylight left. They destroy everything I do!! They had a field day with the leaves and straw I put out last week. I just spent nearly an hour raking the beds back together. They can stay. Gotta get a fence around the garden! I put maple leaves in the bottom of their coop so they could scratch around in there. It’s still so cool to open their nesting boxes and find 2 different colored eggs! They are getting a bit bigger in size too. I have the coolest looking dozen eggs on my street, I’m willing to bet!

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Covered my container carrots and strawberry beds with straw. It’s supposed to be 28 degrees here tonight. They are really flourishing, one thing chickens couldn’t get to! I call them Carrots for Eli to encourage an apartment dwelling friend of mine to garden anyway! I rearranged the chickens new design of the drip hoses. Creative little buggers.

Another November day..

ImageWe finished getting leaves and straw through out the garden. Michael’s new job with a landscaping company helps us out with the free leaves and straw for sure!! We covered all the beds and will continue layering with leaves newspaper and cardboard through this month. Not only am I hoping for less weeds this Spring from lasagna layering in the garden, but some serious fertile material as well. I read that the freezing and thawing cycles over winter actually help break down and aerate from the water/air that expands and contracts over and over again. If we can help it I would like the initial tilling we did at the beginning of this year would be the only mechanical till. We added amendments and broke them into the hard clay, but every time I pull weeds, especially that stupid grass, it ’tills’ that whole spot!

The chickens love the new additions of leaves in the garden and the floor of their coop. They are like children playing in the Fall leaves, just scratching away. I cannot keep them cooped all day (Althea just paces) so I leave them in til around 3 or 4 in the afternoon, so their damage time is limited. I have been sketching up plans for them a new coop area. I really hope we are back in Georgia to build it, though. Every day that passes, I feel more sure of my decision to try and go back. To make my home near my family. With Michael’s two boys here, we are just torn..

But the mortgage payment is about to wear us thin. Knowing now like we do, we could build our own tiny home, decked, with what we pay here a year. A 30 year mortgage actually hit me the other day.. I was thinking about if we stayed here another year.. where would that put us on owing towards the house.. $900 a month, between 11 and 12 thousand dollars. Okay that’s a good chunk of change, how much do we still owe. He bought the house for $125,000 less than 2 years ago. 12 grand doesn’t even make a dent, holy shit. We’ve got to get out of here. I can’t have my soul on loan at Wells Fargo the next 28 years. Hell, that’s how long I’ve been alive!! Where has the Tiny House Movement been?? People don’t have to do this, but yet gladly step up to sign leases on houses and cars. I just want my cottage, my garden and my bike.

We are going in less than 3 weeks for Thanksgiving and this will be the big moment of looking at the land with my step-dad and asking.. Asking for a chance. We’ll work off the land any way we can. Michael can get a job, until we get everything in place. I really hope I can make them see how important this is to me. It’s not some dumb project where UI want to go all hippie and live in the woods, well maybe it’s along those lines, but it’s not dumb. To not have a car payment… House payment.. Grow your own fruits and vegetables, so that they don’t come from Chile, unripened and full of chemicals.. Spend more quality time with my family letting Nature and our own unhinged curiosity lead the way to learn and discover.. To encourage our children to not conform, to always dance to their own beat, no matter how funky ๐Ÿ˜‰ Who’s the crazy ones here, I’m really starting to wonder. All over the world people have turned to the simplicity of life, may be the oldest, time tested way to be happy. Do what your heart wants and live a life that allows it.

Getting ready for winter..

Image Getting the chickens ready for their first winter.. I first cleaned out most of their old soiled bedding, not as good as their Spring cleaning will be if they are still in that coop, but remove all wet or really soiled stuffed, wiped out the nesting boxes. Then we laid in extra straw and leaves back in their boxes and the area under their roost and around the pen. We had our first frost this week and I don’t want their feet to get frost bite. We definitely have a rooster, now to figure out what to do with him. Michael wants to butcher it himself. I told him to have at it, but finish the job if he starts it.

We stopped letting them out of their pen this week as well. I will have no Fall garden because of them. Our plans are to buildย  a fence over Winter and move their pen once a week. We built it to where the two of us could do this, we just thought the birds all over the yard was ‘cute’. Not anymore! Donna finally started laying yesterday!! She laid the first that morning in the shed and the second in their coop but on the floor, not in the nesting boxes. The other two pullets will have around 2 months before they lay if we supplement their light. Pepper already sits on Althea’s!

We are still pulling peppers by the day. Today’s pull of jalapeno barely took the weight off the bush! Bell peppers are still forming, but I’m sure once the frosts are more consistent, they’ll be gone in the week. We let the chickens ruin most of our trail and error for this years Fall garden. I did plant three rows of garlic and plan to get onion sets over the weekend. But they completely ate the Brussels, lettuce, striped the potatoes. I guess I did learn one error!

Garlic is in the ground and the potatoes are piled high!!

We planted three rows of garlic cloves today! I spent the morning weeding the beds and hard raking all the loose dirt the chickens have been scratching away from the beds. They have really screwed my pooch on the Fall garden, I knew they would and the precautions I took just weren’t enough. I planted the garlic in the beds to the farImage left. Not like a regular Fall crop I guess, it stays until May. I think I’ll rotate out with a block of corn.

Writing down bed layouts for crop rotation is one of the biggest things I want to learn and work on. I planted legumes after the corn to hopefully fix nitrogen for the next crop. Each plant can help or hurt each other just by the way you plant it! I guess it’s time to reread all my Permie stuff. I have different questions this time through, just like they said I would. The old theory vs. practice. With Winter approaching, I’m sure I’ll get my fair share of catching up on my reading. A new GRIT came just today, with winterizing your chickens on the cover, just what we’ve been talking about!

I piled the potatoes today as well, tried to leave just the tops showing. This will be my first trial with growing them this time of year. I’m assuming just like the carrots, if I keep the tops from getting freezer burnt and die, they’ll continue to grow. The carrot tops in the container out front are a good 4 inches now. I’m glad they’re out front, the chickens would have had a field day with those fluffy tops! I plan on getting onions from Renfroe’s this week and a couple bales of straw to add some finishing Fall touches.

Keeping up the good work ๐Ÿ˜€

Girl day :)

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Michael helped a friend of ours out on a side job, so Syd and I planned it where we could spend some time with Liz, his girlfriend/my confidante. I don’t get to see her much as it is and she loves to bake.. So perfect way to spend the afternoon ๐Ÿ™‚ We decided to do jalapeno poppers (we are all still harvesting jalapenos every day!), a dip and a peach crisp for desert.

Goodness it was good to be just girls! Sydni played with the dogs, burying Coyote’s stick from him. It was so funny, he would sit beside her and act like he wasn’t looking when she buried it. Then they would ‘find’ it together. Liz and I sat on her back porch where you feel tucked away and safe. Her little treasures peeking from different corners all with a story to tell. We laughed the afternoon away in between preparing each dish. It was really needed..

She hollowed the peppers while I sliced up the peaches. I know they are not in season here right now, but I was craving the peach crisp. (She had already told me she had vanilla ice cream) Sydni helped me with the final touches on it. By then the boys had come back and we moved the dinner back to our friend. We ate black bean salsa and baked dinner. It was delicious!! Not only did I get some time with my girls, we made a kick ass meal with dessert. Day well spent..

Teach a man to fish.. :D

Last year we bought a flip over style compost bin. You can see it next to the pallet fence I started (it’s no longer there, don’t worry;)) As our garden grew, remember we started with 2 4 x 4 raised beds, our compost pile grew. After reading Teaming with Microbes, it grew even more. We could compost our dog in the pile we have going now ๐Ÿ˜‰ We tried to contain it with another pallet idea.. gotta love Pinterest, but it was cumbersome to do anything with, besides facilitating the chickens to jump in our neighbors back yard. We cleaned up the turn style and placed a for sale ad on Craiglist. Within 2 hours a lady had emailed then called Michael to arrange the sale and pick up. You could here it in her voice. She was exactly where we were last year at this time. Once her and her husband got there, Michael offered to sale them both bed frames for $20. We had about $40 in them and had used them for 1 year. Made from cedar, they were still nearly perfect aside from a little warping from late summer sun. I gave her a little book I had pick up with some Burpee seeds called, Little Space, Big Bounty or something like that.

We had been talking about doing away with the beds anyway and these people were pumped about starting off just like we did. And it felt really good to pass on our baby shoes, so to speak. It is so refreshing to find others wanting to just generally being more in touch with doing things themselves. Wondering where their foods comes from, realizing there might be a problem with food shipped 4500 miles to be in a nearby grocery store when so much can come from your back yard. Score one for the Home Team ๐Ÿ˜‰