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 🙂

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 🙂 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 🙂 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 😉

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 🙂 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.

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 build  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 😀

I love pallets and Pinterest!

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I got this cool idea off Pinterest for a potting table. Something I could do myself!! We had been collecting pallets for a fence project that has long been discarded. There were so many things to do with pallets. I’ll start with a potting station.

I went down to Harbor Freight to get a saw. I needed one anyway for my fence. I was smart enough to get the two year warranty and was on my way. I got home and cut up my pallet and some 2x4s we had been saving. (Never know ;)) Michael had brought home his impact gun from work and with his help lining things up, my table was together!! Not only did it look good, it was very sturdy!

I had to scrap the pallets for for my failed fence because I cut them up, but something tells me the winter months will having me collecting pallets again and planning ideas for Spring 🙂

Potato Pull!!

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We had a great day potato pull yesterday of some white sweet potatoes. Less sweet and less nutritious than the orange variety, this was a new potato for us. This harvest had been growing for about 6 months. We covered the beds twice with straw and compost as the greenery raged.

We started by loosening the soil with the pitchfork and digging in and around for the potatoes. I always feel like an archeologist digging away fossils. Yeah, I grew up in the Jurassic Park era.. So I love digging up potatoes and garlic.. and onions,, 🙂 It was a great day to be in the yard. Lower 70s, great breeze. I love just being out there with Michael harvesting part of our dinner for that night. It was just a really good moment in all the stress we’ve had lately. The world sure doesn’t make it easy sometimes to go back to basics, ya know? That little cottage I want nestled in the foothills with a clean stream that runs by. We can’t catch and eat but so many of those fish due to mercury levels.

What do we do you ask? We cook potatoes. I pour enough olive oil to drizzle over the pan of cut potatoes and went out front and stripped two rosemary branches. Dropping those in with the oil, I chunk 3 small/med white sweets and one large orange sweet. I spread them out on a cookie sheet, drizzled the oil and roasted them at 375 degrees F. The rosemary made the house smell so good and even though the scent was strong, it did not out power the potatoes at all 😀

Pansies it is…

ImageOur friend came by this morning and looked at the flower beds we’ve been asked to do in front of our neighborhood. Some one before us had planted 5 Holly bushes under the lettering of the entrances. It looked fine now but those will be full size bushes by next summer, drowning out the whole name. Our fiend tells us to get rid of them and get 4 flats of assorted pansies. We had a great time at the nursery at Lowe’s picking out our flats.

Happy with their arrangement, we used my bulb planter thingy to make holes and popped them in. I have spread a Professional #4 mix over the existing leaves and mulch to break down. What my friend showed me today was there was too much organic matter! What? All I hear is to put it there, but he says he sees this often with heavily mulched areas over time. It does decompose, but because no new dirt is added there is practically no SOIL. What the crazy proof was the fact it had been pouring down rain and 4 inches in, dry as a bone. Nothing under all those layers was getting any water! We used our 2 watering cans and watered well. The forecast says to be rainy tomorrow as well so that should help. We spread some compost out and scratched it in. All in all it looked great!! I was so excited. Once they get established, they’ll take off with even more brilliant blooms!

Chicken and Jalapeno Popper Nachos :D

Image I pulled some jalapenos from the garden with the craving to make my friend’s Jalapeno Popper dip. She tells me on their last cabin getaway, they made a meal out of just the appetizer!! So that started the wheels turning, what if we shredded a chicken breast in with the dip?? Genius!!

So, last night, I boiled one chicken breast, shredded it once cooled. I actually boiled one and a half, the half I used for Sydni’s chicken alfredo.. I baked the dip and then slid it onto a bed of nacho chips.. Mu-ah!!

It was so good! With jalapenos still putting out well, I wanted to pass this along. With or without the chicken, class A recipe.

Jalapeno Popper Dip

1 (8oz) cream cheese, room temp

1/2 cup mayo

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

4 oz sliced, drained, pickled jalapenos

2 fresh sliced jalapenos

1/4 cup bread crumbs

Mix cheeses and mayo in a bowl, add peppers. Pour into greased baking dish. Mix additional Parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup) with bread crumbs, sprinkle over dip. Add additional cheddar, optional.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until sides are bubbling and cheese is melted.

We use just eat it with tortilla chips, but this time I added the shredded chicken and served it over the chips, nacho style. It was a hit!! Thanks Liz!!