A-Ha Moments

Every now and then I need a reminder of what I am really trying to do… I want to raise healthy, happy food for my family with enough leftover to share and/or barter with friends and neighbors. I would also like to have a product or two that creates an income, hopefully an income that would equate to a part-time job if I were to work outside of the home. I’d be thrilled if we could create enough abundance from our own property to at least support our homesteading, gardening and farming efforts.

The shiitake mushroom project has been my first inspiration for an income-producing crop, and I’m hoping we can make that happen. I was supposed to inoculate 200 logs for a research project, but I’m nowhere near that yet. We’re at 86 logs as of this afternoon, and I’m hoping to break the 100 mark this weekend.

I’m considering throwing the rest of the spawn in the freezer and refocusing my energies to our vegetable garden. Spring is flying by, and I don’t have any seed in the garden. I have to put my fencing up first in order to keep the chickens from dust bathing in the fresh tilled soil and, in turn, kicking up any seeds that may have been planted.

I find myself wishing for cloning technology as I need to be working on mushrooms, working on the garden, cleaning my house, etc, etc, etc. I still stand by my belief that it’s all possible! I just need to get off my duff and getter done!


Where do I start?

First of all, I can’t believe I haven’t posted in two months! I guess we’ve been busy… I’m still working on my online farming class, plugging along when I can. I’m not in as big of a rush to get a plot on the farm with so much going on right here on our own property. I have continued my education in other ways as well. I attended the “Growing Medicinal Herbs” workshop through Chatham County Extension, my sister and I participated in the Organic Growers School Spring Conference in Asheville, and I just recently learned how to inoculate oak logs with shiitake mushroom spawn.

And now, after two years, we finally got our first bee hive. I am absolutely in love with our bees. I don’t know what it is, but I have to peek at them any chance I get. Of course, it’s still VERY new as we just picked it up yesterday morning…

With spring springing, we are getting the garden ready, too. I started a bunch of seeds today including broccoli, cantaloupe, watermelon, luffa, roma tomatoes, German Johnson tomatoes, birdhouse gourds, hollyhocks, marigolds, poppies, three varieties of sunflowers, vitex, echinacea, lavender, and okra. I can’t wait to see those little sprouts stick their little heads up soon!

I will post some pics very, very soon. For now, I just wanted to let you know that we’re still plugging along at this whole homesteading thing, learning and growing.

School is in session!!

Guess what I’m doing??  Go ahead, guess…  <whistling>  Yeah, I know the title gave you a pretty big hint.  I’m taking an online farming class through our local extension office.  

I had read about the Elma C. Lomax Incubator Farm in a local publication and thought it was a very cool idea.  I never thought I’d be participating in it myself.  My husband had read about it, too, and kept pushing me to get more information about it and to find out how I could get started.  Last week I did just that.

After talking to our agriculture/horticulture extension agent, David Goforth, I took the next step and signed up for the online course, Farm Incubator Initial Training, and have been plugging right along.  So far I’ve learned about the potential start up costs of farming, how to research soil types and land development locally, sustainable soil practices, and now plant nutrient requirements.

Once I complete all 24 lessons in the online class, I will go through an application and interview process to hopefully get accepted into the actual Incubator Farm where I will be allocated 1/10 to 1/4 of an acre my first year farming there.  I will select what vegetables to grow, find a customer base to purchase my vegetables, start working on a business plan and learn more and more about the art of farming.  My next two years at the farm will give me a larger plot of 1/2 to 1 acre of farm land to work.

I am very excited about the potential to learn so much and make some really great connections with other folks aspiring to farm the land, too.

Just Ducky!

At the end of September last year, I brought home three day-old Pekin ducklings that I bought from a guy who promised to swap me out if I found I had any males once they matured.  Out of the three, we ended up with one female and two males.  Today I took one of my boys back to him and brought home a cute little Pekin/Cayuga mixed girl.  My duck friend and I decided to work together to breed our ducks and possibly do some egg/duckling swaps in the future to keep our duck flocks interesting.  I still have one male Pekin and a male khaki campbell who can be bred to our female Pekin and the new mix.  Should be fun seeing what kinds of colors we can come up with.  I wish I had thought to take a picture of her to post here, but it’s dark and she’s all tucked in with the rest of the quackers.

For some reason the idea of mixing ducks seems okay to me, but I don’t like the idea of mutt chickens.  Go figure!  I’m a chicken purist at heart!  Oh, well…  I’ll just chalk that one up to my eclectic lifestyle!  :o)  Hope you all had a great Saturday!

Food Documentaries Keep Me Inspired

It’s been a while since I watched a documentary on Netflix, so I decided to flip through some tonight.  “Genetic Chile” caught my eye and reminded me why I’m doing what I’m doing.  Food freedom.  

This particular film focused on the New Mexico chile pepper and New Mexico State University’s research into genetically modifying it.  The film maker shares good information about GMOs and the concerns that many people, farmers, and scientists have about these products.

If you’re not sure what Genetically Modified Organisms are or what they could mean for your family’s health or even the health of the planet, please do your research.  Keep informed.  Support your local farmers and farmers markets and know what you are putting into your bodies.  Check out this film’s website at http://www.genetic-chile.com for some links to other resources you may find interesting.

My mom told me the other day that she doesn’t want to know about GMOs, organics, food safety, or any of that stuff because she said she couldn’t afford the “good stuff.”  Why be aware of something you cannot change.  That made me sad to think about and made me wonder how many other people feel the same way.  

Do you think it’s better to be uninformed?  Do you think it’s possible to eat more naturally, locally, healthfully without having to break the bank?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

I’m back!!

Happy New Year!!  

I’m so excited to tell you I’m back to blogging with a kicker…  I also have a radio show on AwakenedRadio.net called Farmgirl by 40!  (Kind of catchy, isn’t it?)  I’ll be doing it every Thursday from 7:00 to 8:00 pm e.s.t. so if you’re around your computer at that time, go check it out.  If you have any topic suggestions, things you’d like to hear about, or any questions I might be able to answer on the radio, please post them here.  I’ll do my best to cover it on the show, but I wouldn’t consider myself an expert.  If I don’t know, I’ll tell you.  Maybe we can find the answers together.

Thank you for reading here, and thank you for possibly listening in the future.  I really appreciate you, and I hope I can inspire you or encourage you when you need it.

Fit by 41

I know this doesn’t have much to do with farming, but this goal can certainly support my health and ability to perform farm girl chores.  I went to my first Weight Watchers meeting in months and am happy to report that I am back to tracking and doing the program.  Since today is Day One of my Fit by 41 path, I thought I would post a current photo taken this morning by my wonderful husband.

My number one reason for wanting to lose weight is for my health.  I have three amazing sons to keep up with, horses to ride, a hobby farm to take care of, and all of these things require a high level of energy and stamina.  I need to be able to go, go, go every day, and the extra weight can sometimes take a toll.

I have found that Weight Watchers really works for me.  Measuring serving amounts, writing down what I eat every day, and keeping track of my daily activity all support healthy lifestyle changes.  I’m hoping to lose at least 50 pounds in the next 12 months.  I’ll keep you all posted as to my successes and fall backs, but I won’t be turning this blog into a total health/weight loss blog.

What are some lifestyle changes you’d be interested in making?  I’d love to hear about it if you’d like to reply in the comments section!

Mmmmmm… Apple Sauce!

Thanks to my neighbor and new friend Connie, I have had a surplus of apples around here.  After helping her peel a mess of apples last week, she had given me a bunch of apples and her apple sauce recipe that she found on line.  We increased the ingredients to yield enough to put some jars up to enjoy later.

First Step:  Peel and slice your apples:

Second Step:  Mix apples with water, sugar and cinnamon and cook until apples are soft:

Third Step:  Once apples are soft, smash them with a potato masher until they reach a consistency that you find pleasing:

Now you can serve it warm or stick it in the refrigerator to serve chilled.  I bet this recipe would be amazing over vanilla ice cream!!  If you like, you can go ahead and can them to enjoy later.  I have chosen to do that since I am committed to have a home grown Thanksgiving this year.  I will be sure to blog more about that subject down the road.  Now I know that if I have nothing else, my family can enjoy home made apple sauce November 22, 2012.


28 apples
5 1/4 cups of water
1 3/4 cups of sugar
4 teaspoons of cinnamon
(These quantities made the 3 jars you see above)

Hay, There!

Our animals are currently all together in one paddock that has no grass whatsoever.  When Ladybug first came to stay with us, the paddock had some grass away from the trees, but that was stomped and grazed down pretty quickly.  Someday I hope to have more land where the horses can have a nice pasture to nibble on and run through at their leisure.  Until that day happens, we make hay runs.

About every two weeks I make a run to Smith Lake Rd to buy a round bale of hay.  They load it up in the back of my truck, and off I go.

Round bale being loaded on to the back of my truck

Doesn’t the truck look like a snail?


Once I get the bale back home, my husband helps me roll it off the truck and on to a pallet outside of the paddock.  We cut off the outer binding to access the hay and throw small piles of it over the paddock fence to the girls as needed.  We usually have three piles, one for Eve our alpha mare, one for Ladybug our first mare, and one for Phoebe and the goats.  Sometimes two piles will do, as long as Eve has a pile all to herself.  She’s not too big on sharing.

Some people have large metal rings that encase the round bale of hay so that the farmer can just leave the whole bale out in the field as free-choice hay.  I would love to be able to do that, but I know our goats would just jump on top of it to play “King of the World” and end up fouling the hay with urine and excrement.  The way we do it may not be the best way, but it works for us for now.

I did it!

Today is the big day…  Yup, I am officially 40.  And you know what else?  I’m a farm girl!  Oh, don’t get me wrong…  I still have a ways to go, but I’ve had a great start!  At this time we are enjoying two acres, most of them woods, with a paddock housing our current eclectic herd that currently includes three Nubian dairy goats about six months old, one dear donkey named Phoebe who is a total lovey, our mare Ladybug whom you’ve read about previously, and our newest mare Eve whom I’m hoping to be riding in the next couple of months.  We have lost some birds to predators lately, so we’re down to two male ducks, one silkie rooster, and six hens, plus our oldest son has a pair of silkies that he plans to breed.  I am also raising seven blue slate turkeys who are almost two months old.  I’m hoping they will be ready to harvest in time for Thanksgiving.

Aside from the animals, I’ve also started a garden.  I’m kind of going about it like a patchwork quilt:  a little bit at a time, piece by piece. I am currently growing sweet potatoes, various tomatoes, a squash, okra, blueberries, raspberries and black berries.  I need to add some more and start planning my fall garden.  I’ve committed to having a home grown Thanksgiving this year, so we will only be eating things we grew ourselves, raised ourselves or bartered for.  It will be a great experience!

Over the next year, I hope to blog more consistently and reach a few more goals.  I’d like to see our chicken coop and run completed, and I need to build something for the turkeys.  They are outgrowing their current cage and really stinking up my laundry room!  I’d like to increase the size of the paddock and have the goat pasture completed so that Phoebe and the girls can move down there sooner.  I want to build a milking stand for the goats and start training them to go up there twice a day in order to make future milking an easier process.  I also want to increase my gardening skills and plant a few more fruit trees.  Whew!  Lofty goals, so keep me accountable, folks!  I’m going to need a cheering committee!

I’ll get better about posting pics, too!  :o)  Thanks so much for reading!