Here and Now..

Recently faced with short term goals lately as enough time has passed with no real plan to place that its time to regroup. As soon as my student loans paperwork can filled > 50 days and processed, I can return to school under Pell grant without loans. How dumb that was.. I feel the financial institutions should make you show a business plan almost to get the loans they give out per semester. We’re in college for Pete’s sake! We are supposed to be poor then go out and get our degree job. But Hell no, they asked if I needed the full amount??!  Real thought needs to be put in on what job/career will be most fitting with finances and security. Degree needs to be picked with a job in mind. I felt double crossed as I left micro and chemistry lab like a super cool mad scientist to get into what I thought was the program of my dreams of Nursing. No. It didn’t happen that way. At all. Thoroughly disgusted with the time and effort I spent to get into this super selective program.. and I hated it. No preparation for what I was to face in the two years of core classes geared toward the Nursing program. :((( Not a happy camper and I knew I didn’t want to be stuck in this field. I took a hardship leave and left. Where do I go from now?

I mean I have my minor in journalism.. That’s what I love. Words. They can do so much, take you somewhere that you have never been. you think artists starve?? Journalists eat dirt. Not even good dirt, like scraggy dirt, yuck. So here my ramblings will go for now as I process through this life of a mother, hippie, peace promoter, you get the picture 😉 There are so many things I want to do, record here, take you all into my silly, wild, crazy life as I figure out where I go from here. About this close to renting the house out, buying a van and hitting the road. Seriously.

For now on a personal level, smile more it catches on. Feel happier. Keep up my Yoga, push Syd to find the peace that comes with grounded breathing and focus. She already knows some simple routines to try on her own, but I want her to want to do them, need to like I do.

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So.. Just trying to figure it all out :)

ImageSo, wow is right.. We are going to have to start over in so many aspects when we move. It’s so scary to let go of what you already have to even embrace the possibility of a better future. The future we want is less dependance on anything store bought. And that ranges from food to clothing to gas. We started that here and now we’ll start again.

I’m losing the chickens today. Yes I’ve cried more than you can imagine over three birds. I put their whole package on Craigslist for $100 and it sold in 30 minutes. He’ll be here today. A small family with two growing children. I’m glad people are starting to realize the importance of growing it yourself. You know what goes in that chicken, the eggs are walked in your back door, fresh as they can be. Who wouldn’t want that?! And to have it all packaged up to boot! We’ll have to check ordinances once we get settled in, build a better coop and start again. Keep moving forward!! (saw it on a movie)

ImageWe found Budget to be the cheapest rental. They have a 20% off until the 28th and we’ll save around 75-100 bucks going during the week instead of weekend. So the last week of February will be our last week in Indian Trail. My stomach is doing somersaults right now!

I have already emailed Michael’s resume to my mom to hopefully work her magic!! She knows someone at the Honda dealership there in Valdosta and took Michael’s resume up there. Everyone seemed really excited about his certifications in general not just the ones with Honda. They asked all about the move, when we would be there and if he would be able to start work the following Monday. THIS COULD BE A GREAT THING!! So please everyone keep your fingers crossed. He is so worried about finding a good job in a smaller city and it working for all of us. I’ve also decided to seek employment. The house sits pretty central in Lake Park so commuting on the SS is going to be sweet. I really hope I can find something close enough and be able to work things out to be home for Syddo! Because that is really what this is all about for me in the long run. Raising her to have a different awareness on the world and I have to be there to do that 😉

ImageSo I’m really scared, nervous, excited, etc., etc. Everything is moving so fast. I think we are going to try for the yard sale this weekend. Go ahead and get that stuff gone and purge again. We plan on taking the basics, we just all have different definitions on what exactly the basics are!

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!!

Mixed Emotions..

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Yesterday was a bad day for the urban farm. One of my neighbors has a Dodson who got off her runner. She got into our chain link fenced backyard and started attacking chickens. Michael saw it first, but it didn’t take the rest of us long to figure things out as he ran out the back door yelling. By this point the dog had Pepper, our 4 month old Barred Rock, down by the neck. If it wasn’t broken, it was close. There was a terrible hole in her neck. No, this was not supposed to be happening. This can’t be happening. It was and it got worse. Michael tried to grab Pepper away and Nikki, the dog, bit him. He kicked her at this point. We don’t know this dog. His hand bit, Pepper trying to stand, blood everywhere, kids screaming.. he kicked the dog off of her and I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same thing.

The dog died instantly. Are you KIDDING me? This is really happening right now? The kids ran to see if the dog’s owners were home, while Michael had to put Pepper down. Her neck was broken. This is, was my favorite hen. She hasn’t even started laying yet. Why the HELL was that dog in my yard. I watched Michael hold her feet, slit her throat and hold her as the life drained away. She finally quit flapping. I mean I knew we would one day eat these chickens. We’ve been plotting the roosters death for weeks. But it wasn’t supposed to go like this. These were unnecessary deaths. Tears rolled downed my face.

Nikki’s owners weren’t home, but by now every neighborhood kid knows and a mass greeting when they did get home is exactly what I wanted to avoid. They have a little girl in fourth grade and a son in ninth. The dog was with them a lot and I knew was close to all of the family, that this would be really hard for them as well.And I just made friends with their mom, she offered to let Sydni ride to the bus stop not only when it rained or snowed , but every morning now that it had gotten cold. We had just passed down shoes, jeans and sweaters to Ashton, which worked out perfect. Why did this happen.. You know, I thought what if the dog hadn’t died. Pepper would just be dead. I wouldn’t worry they may be mad at Sydni for some weird reason. I’m so confused about this..

This is definitely one of the problems of urban farming. I grew up on a real farm and if any dog, no matter owner, even came into our yard, it would have been shot. They stress the animals at the very least. The owner would be saying they were sorry. I wouldn’t be feeling this bad. I’ve just beat myself up and that’s nothing compared to what Michael has felt. Even though his dad is one of those shoot on site and he doesn’t even have any animals. His answer is he has kids and I can’t argue with that either. And he would expect an apology for the bullet wasted as well. (He was the first person Michael called) We wanted to call animal control at first to make sure we weren’t liable for anything. I think I was just so freaked out. But then my second thought was I didn’t want the neighbors to get in any trouble because the dog was on no leash and it bit Michael. Torn.. word of the day. Why am I feeling so bad when this dog came into my fenced back yard, killed my chicken in front of my three kids and nobody said sorry to me when I must have apologized twenty times. But I do feel bad, I feel terrible and you know, I’m not really apologizing for Michael kicking the dog, but just that little girl’s dog is dead. Why was it out, geez. What a mess.

New Pancake Recipe a Hit!!

ImageNot having a clue what to feed the three children demanding food, I turn to AllRecipes.com (one of my savior websites) for something for breakfast. I had flour, milk and eggs.. I felt pretty confident 🙂 A picture of fluffy, golden pancakes immediately caught my eye. Checked the ingredient list. Okay.. This could work and I get to make my own sour milk. Oh yeah..

ImageFirst I put the vinegar into my milk to sit.. How weird. This has got me wanting to look up making buttermilk. I whisked together my flour and other dry ingredients while my butter melted. In drops an egg to the butter. I’ve noticed how dominate the yolk in our chickens eggs compared to what I’m used to from the grocery store! It’s cool how I get to pick which chicken’s egg I use. Donna got the honors today 😉

Mixed our flour mixture in and then proceeded to make some of the BEST pancakes I’ve ever had. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a new recipe.

Fluffy Pancakes

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • cooking spray

Directions

  1. Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to “sour”.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg and butter into “soured” milk. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.

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 😉 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.

Just another day commuting..

Image So as I venture farther and farther, I learn so many things as a new cyclist in the city. Everyday it’s about seeking the eye contact needed not to get plowed over, gaining more and more nerve to hold my line/lane.

Today I learned two more things to add to my list.

  1. You can get run over by some odd characters on Halloween. Don’t get me wrong, people try to run you over all the time, but usually just on Halloween do you almost get creamed by the Tinman in an Izuzu.
  2. People that ask cars on the curb or what not tend to not ask you for money while on your bike. This guy actually avoided eye contact and moved to the car behind me. Brilliant. And I didn’t have to make a car payment this month probably unlike the car behind me. Double score.

All and all, it was a great trip! Beautiful weather despite the recent storm. I love the parking. People still look at me sketchy when I walk in with my book bag, but you know what they say.. Haters gonna hate 😉

Happy Halloween everybody!!

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 😀