• Handling the Squash Beetles

    Handling the Squash Beetles

    Note: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated–without any extra cost to you– when you make a purchase through these links. You can read our Disclaimer here).

    If you remember a week or so ago I mentioned that our squash plants were being devoured by squash beetles. After some more research, Dad Sprayed the plants down with the Neem Oil mixed with a little dish soap. The dish soap helps the oil to adhere to the plant and kills the beetles. The next afternoon we went out and harvested the last of the squash.

    Squash Beetles on a Spaghetti Squash

    We’re going to leave the vines up another week so Dad can continue to spray them and hopefully rid the garden of the beetles before we pull the plants out and throw them away. Some of the plants that were hit with the squash beetles succumbed to them and died. But some were able to still produce fruit!

    Considering our battle with the squash beetles we ended up with a pretty good harvest! 😀

    We got several zucchini that we were able to eat fresh, a few that we could give away, and a few bags of shredded zucchini that we stashed in the freezer for use over the Winter. We got a couple of tiny Butternut Squash (aren’t they just adorable?). Enough Spaghetti Squash for a meal and several little cooking pumpkins that we’ll process for pumpkin pie.

    The Squash Beetle infestation reminds me of what Jesus says in John 15. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

    The interesting thing is that the Squash Beetles actually attack the vine, not the fruit. So it makes me wonder, what beetles of life are we allowing swarm around our lifeline and cause damage to our relationship with Christ?

    Until next time,

    Bailey Sue

  • Growing & Preserving Tomatoes

    Growing & Preserving Tomatoes

    Note: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated–without any extra cost to you– when you make a purchase through these links. You can read our Disclaimer here).

    Tomatoes are one of our family’s favorite things to grow and the one fruit we use the most often. Yes, tomatoes are a fruit. If a plant flowers, it’s a fruit, meaning that most of the vegetables that we eat are actually fruits. Things like beans, squash, tomatoes, and peppers are all fruits!

    For as long as we’ve had a garden we’ve planted tomatoes!

    In my opinion, they’re one of the easiest things to plant & fun too! We usually plant Romas or another similar variety because they have more meat and less water making them better for canning. We’ll be sure to include a sandwich tomato like Better Boy for BLTs or simply slicing and eating. And of course, some cherry tomatoes for salads, and a couple of yellow tomatoes or small pear tomatoes because they’re less acidic and we need yellow tomatoes to make Pico de Gio. Though we forgot this year we try to always feed them breakfast when we plant them. Adding a scoop of used coffee grounds, dried egg shells, and a banana peel to each hole.


    Once the tomatoes begin to turn, it won’t be long until we’re practically drowning. So, we start using them…Adding some fresh chopped tomatoes to omelets, making a quick pasta sauce, egg sandwiches, or making a breakfast pizza.

    Early September Harvest tomatoes & squash
    2021 Garden Harvest

    When it comes time to start preserving them…we have a couple of different options. Usually, we’ll make a batch or two of homemade salsa. One year we even made and canned salsa outside using the grill and a camping stove! After seeing what’s left we’ll make some tomato powder. Using our food mill we’ll collect all the juice and freeze dry it to make a powder that we’ll use in soups. We’ve also tried our hand at tomato juice as well.

    Making Salsa Outside

    Last year, we took the rest and made stewed tomatoes. Blanching and peeling them, then crushing them in a warm jar and adding water to fill the rest of the jar before it goes into a water bath. While I enjoyed preserving them this way because it was so easy, it wasn’t practical. In our soups, there were large chunks of stringy tomato instead of the nice bite-sized chunks we prefer.

    This year our garden has taken a bit of a hit and the tomatoes are taking forever to turn. In addition, we’re preparing for the bakery’s busiest season. Next month we have something every weekend and a combined 5 markets–including a HUGE two-day festival at the end of the month.

    So, we’re doing something a little different with the tomato harvest. We’ve been enjoying some of them diced as a side dish with quiche or taco night. Once we start to get several in we’re going to freeze them in gallon-sized zip bags and process them over the Winter when life settles down a little.

    This is a first for us. Usually, we’ll block off a weekend and preserve what needs preserving. Freezing corn, beans, and squash. Then we’ll can tomatoes, pickles, and relish. But this year it’s different and it feels very weird. almost like we’re forgetting something. But maybe, that’s a good thing. With so many other irons in the fire, we’re able to keep up with the harvest because it’s trickling in instead of us getting slammed.

    Despite the garden’s trouble with pests, wacky weather, and a late planting it’s done really well. And for that I’m thankful! We are just starting to get enough tomatoes to freeze a bag full so I’ll be sure to keep you all posted on the process as it develops!

    Until next time,
    Bailey Sue

  • Dealing with Loss on the Homestead

    Dealing with Loss on the Homestead

    Note: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated–without any extra cost to you– when you make a purchase through these links. You can read our Disclaimer here).

    There are parts of homesteading that bring me great joy but there are also hard days of loss on the homestead. While I love sharing all the great parts–the growing plants, the harvest, the meals we make, or how we preserve the harvest; I think it’s also important to share the more challenging parts.

    Last week was particularly challenging & we’ve dealt with a bit of unexpected loss on the homestead…But let’s rewind a little so that you can get the full picture.

    The weather this year has been a little wonky. Spring was particularly rainy and cold. We even got a couple of inches of snow the day after Easter! Summer weather has fluctuated rapidly. There’ll be weeks where it’s in the 90s, hot and humid, followed by a brief rain shower, then the temperatures fall back into the mid-80s. We’ve not had a good rainshower in a few weeks.

    We’re newbies when it comes to starting seed indoors. This year our seeds got started later than we would have liked and they didn’t do as well as we’d hoped. We’re still trying to find the right setup. Someplace that stays warm and gets enough light. Many of them ended up awful small and spindly looking. When it got time to harden them off we set the trays out in the garden & then got busy with a project inside and realized that it had begun downpouring! By the time we made it out to get them we were soaked through to the skin & most of the plants got hammered. We’re pretty sure we lost many of them then.

    Many of the tomato plants that we started we lost. When we cleaned out the garden beds at the beginning of the season I found several volunteers from last year that we were able to supplement. However, we forgot one crucial step when we planted them–adding a banana peel. It gives the plants added calcium. So we improvised and started soaking banana peels in water and watering the plants with it.

    We’re in the middle of August and are just now starting to harvest tomatoes! The plants are full of green tomatoes but it’s taking forever for them to turn. This could be due to the crazy temperatures, forgetting the added calcium, planting volunteers, or even supplementing with store-bought plants later in the season.

    But that’s not all. We’ve lost about half of our Bloody Butcher corn to cornsmut! Squash beetles have practically decimated our squash! We’ve lost two of our laying hens this year & two of our meat birds. And last weekend we found that two of our bunnies had died!

    So, how do we deal with loss on the homestead?

    Homestead loss can come in a variety of forms. Loss of crops, animals, or some other form. When it comes to crops we tend to handle the loss by doing more research. Looking up weather patterns, what causes the disease or pest, and what ways it can be prevented. Learning about what went wrong and ways we can improve.

    When we noticed the squash beetles we did a little research and started treating the plants with diatomaceous earth. When the beetles persisted, we did a little more research and tried Neem Oil. Note: our dogs are not a fan of the scent, particularly Wyatt. Over the Winter we’ll do some more research and see what we can do to prevent them next year.

    Dealing with the loss of an animal on our homestead is a little different.

    For starters, as a general rule we tend not to get too attached to our livestock. A good way to do this is to not name your animals. Full disclosure, we break this rule. All of our layers have a name but I’m pretty sure that only JoJo can tell you who’s who and every name of every bird out there. Our bunnies have names (though these ones we’re only using to gain experience taking care of bunnies and for their fertizlier). One of the meat birds is mistakenly a different breed than the others and considerably smaller, so I’ve named it Tiny.

    We’re all adults so the way we deal with loss on the homestead is different than it would be if there were young children involved. The number one thing that we do is show grace. We all deal with loss differently and we give those that need it time to grieve. We let them talk it out and process it, and sometimes depending on the situation we’ll do something productive to try to prevent further loss.

    For example, we noticed that 2 bunnies had died within maybe 6 hours. So we took the afternoon to deep clean the bunny hutches. Washing out the waterers, and feeders, and giving eveything a deep scrub. We let the other four bunnies get some time on the grass, clipped their nails, and brushed their fur. Though we don’t know what caused the bunnies to die we did what we could to prevent more loss and sprinkled the bunnies with diatomaceous earth to prevent parasites.

    We talked about how we would deal with loss on the homestead if we were younger. We’d start by looking for books that deal with loss. Maybe writing about it in a journal or drawing pictures. We were all older when we started homesteading so we’ve not really experienced loss with young children. Those of you that have, what did you do or what would you recommend? Share your thoughts below in the comments!

    Though we’ve dealt with some loss on the homestead this year there’s also been a lot of good!

    Once we’ve processed the loss and things that we may be able to do differently we try to find the good in the situation. Ususally one or two of us will remind the others that yes this is hard but look at the good! Though our squash plants have struggled we’ve been able to get a decent harvest. We ate several zucchini fresh, gave away some to family, and put some up for over the Winter. Even though the plants look dead there’s even a few more pumpkins and squash on the vines ripening!

    a harvest despite the loss on the homestead

    Though to some degree loss on the homestead is to be expected, that doesn’t make it any easier. We’re learning how to handle the loss, pick ourselves up with God’s grace, and learn some lessons along the way.

    Until next time,

    Bailey Sue

  • Our Stay-cation & some of our favorite Stay-cations over the years

    Our Stay-cation & some of our favorite Stay-cations over the years

    Note: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated–without any extra cost to you– when you make a purchase through these links. You can read our Disclaimer here).

    This past Saturday was the only Saturday the family didn’t have anything planned until October. So we took full advantage of it & planned a little Stay-cation. Bradley had to work on Sunday so we planned a fun Friday night & Saturday.

    In August it’s our tradition to watch the old musical “State Fair”. The movie is set for the week of August 23, so we try to watch it close to then; making a night of it & having fair food for dinner. Considering this was the only couple of days we had available in August we watched it “early”.

    We’ve done various fair foods over the years. One year we had Storebought Corndogs, soft pretzels, & nacho cheese. Another year we did a Fryday Friday. Making our own corndogs, onion rings, & hushpuppies. This year we altered it a little after we all ended up sick from the grease. We had grilled brats, with sautéed peppers & onions served over some quinoa. With it, we made some poutine. Store-bought french fries, topped with cheese curds, & slathered with instant brown gravy. Dad had a fire going out back & we ate dinner and chatted around the fire while trying to keep the barn cats from eating our food.

    Stay-cation Dinner night one.

    Once it got dark enough to lock the chicken coop for the night we cleaned up, headed in, & put in State Fair.

    Stay-cation day 2: Saturday!

    Saturday we took the dogs on a walk at the Rec Center before it got too busy & then we had homemade Cinnamon Swirl Bread & homemade French Toast Sticks for breakfast out on the porch!

    The rest of Saturday we spent working on some little projects we never seem to have time for. Nothing too hard, just time consuming. Giving the rabbit cages a deep cleaning, rearranging some outdoor furniture, & cleaning up the outdoor wood pile. That way the back yard is all clean and tidy for the next bonfire! Saturday night, we harvested some of our sweetcorn for dinner & we grilled some steaks over the fire! And that put an end to our little stay-cation!

    Now that we’re all adults Stay-cations look a little different than they used to. But over the years we’ve done a variety of different things. Here are some of our favorite stay-cation ideas.

    1. A day at the museum

    We’ve been fortunate to live in close proximity to several museums. One of which is the National Museum of the United States Airforce. Sometimes we’d get up on a Saturday morning and simply go explore the museum. There are a lot of different museums that are either free admission or have selected days where admission is either free or cheaper. Take a look online and see what you can find. If museums aren’t your thing or you can’t find one within your price range, maybe try a new park, playground, or hiking trail. Take a picnic lunch and make a day of it!

    2. Walking around downtown

    This is one of my favorites. Old historical cities not far from home! You know, the ones where they’ve preserved the city square and they’re filled with old buildings and quaint little shops? Simply going and walking around, window shopping, & dreaming about what it all looked like 100 years ago! Though you don’t need a special event to go on a little adventure, do a little research & see if maybe they have a tree lighting, festival, or Christmas kick-off event that’d be fun.

    3. Camping at home!

    This is particularly fun for long weekends & can take on a variety of forms. We’ve done this a couple of ways. If you have a tent you can set it up in your backyard & only go in the house for the bathroom & getting food. We did that once or twice but found that we preferred to pretend that the house was our camper. Only going in to use the bathroom, get & clean up meals, & sleep at night. We spent the rest of the time chilling outside. Playing in the sandbox, the blowup pool, or some game or other we had come up with.

    Stay-cations are a great way to take a little break from the everyday busyness & create some great memories with your family without breaking the bank.

    Often getting you out and about in your hometown for the first time & being able to see a lot of neat things you never knew existed before. And the best part is they can be as simple or elaborate as you’d like. It’s all up to you. You get to make it what you want it to be!

    Until next time,

    Bailey Sue

  • Specific Prayer…

    Specific Prayer…

    A while ago I mentioned this Bible Class that our Church was having on how to handle our anxiety. Giving God our problems, sticking to the facts of a situation, & being specific in prayer.

    A few weeks ago we talked specifically about being specific in our prayers. Asking God for what we need or want. Though God already knows what we need before we ask, we’re encouraged to lay our requests before Him. See Matthew 6:8 & Philippians 4:6-8.

    Over the years I’ve tried to be more specific with prayer.

    If I have a lot on my mind I’ll just write my prayer out as a way of getting my thoughts on paper. For things that I pray about daily, I write the request on a notecard. Every few months or so I sort through the notecards. Seeing what prayers were answered, which ones I no longer feel led to pray about, & which ones I want to reword.

    I sorted through my prayer cards earlier this week & rewrote a card specifically about which business projects to work on next. There is a running list of about a 1/2 dozen things that need to be done and I asked for guidance and wisdom about which projects would be the best to start first & help the business to grow.

    Most of these projects have needed to be done for a while, but I was never sure how to start. For one project in particular I felt like I needed a resource explaining how to do it right. Another project I had attempted a few times before and never figured out a way to make it work long-term.

    So, I prayed about it for a couple of days and was toying with some ideas. Talking about different things we could research, ideas we could try, and what the best course of action was. But I never felt led to do anything specific.

    A mentor of mine asked if anyone wanted to join her for a project later this year. After some back and forth I gave her some information & let her take the lead. She suggested an idea and within minutes Mom, JoJo, & I came up with the specifics of how we could do it. Then I told her why I was struggling with this particular project & why I felt I couldn’t make anything work long-term. She then offered to send me some resources to help with that very thing!

    And that’s not all!

    The other project I’ve known needed to be done for some time. I just wasn’t sure how to start & the best resource to use without charging an arm & a leg. Last night I got an email from a new company I’ve been working with. They offered to send me A FREE e-book on the very same topic I needed to learn more about! Once I downloaded the book I quickly glanced through it & saw that it covers nearly EVERYTHING I need to know. Not only that but I’m confident that it will provide me with the next steps to actually take action versus just acquiring knowledge!

    Now, I know that God doesn’t always answer prayers or even very specific prayers in just a few days time. I know that there are prayers that for whatever reason, beyond our understanding, he chooses to answer differently than we would have liked. And in 100% transparency, I’ve been in both of those situations at different times this year.

    I share this with you because I know that for me, it can be hard when you’ve been praying a specific prayer over and over for years & God’s answer has been “wait”. Often times when this happens I’ll begin to wonder if God is even listening to my prayers.

    And personally, I’m always encouraged when I see how God is moving & answering prayers in others’ lives.

    I love sitting back from a distance and just watching. Seeing the big and little ways that God is faithful. The way His hand is SO evident in their story. Of course it was difficult & beyond challenging. But they never gave up. They never lost their faith & look at them now, living their dream. Yes, it looks different than they would have imagined but looking back they wouldn’t have had it any other way.

    So, when I’m struggling to believe that God is moving in my life I take great encouragement from watching God move in others lives & my faith is strengthened. If God can do it for them, why won’t He do something like that for me?

    And that’s why I share this with you today. As an encouragement. Because God does hear your prayers. He is listening. And His is moving. You may just not be able to see it yet.

    “Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah”
    ~Psalm 62:8

  • Pickled Peppers & More: Garden Harvest

    Pickled Peppers & More: Garden Harvest

    Note: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated–without any extra cost to you– when you make a purchase through these links. You can read our Disclaimer here).

    This week is really the calm before our storm. The last weekend of September is our biggest show of the year–a two-day local festival. It’s a huge festival that requires a lot of preplanning and baking ahead of time. This is really the ONE week (and only weekend) we don’t have pressing plans until October. And we plan to take FULL advantage of it!

    The garden is gearing up for canning season. The cucumbers have finished for the year & the beans are drying. One kind will be saved for seed & the other will be shelled and used for bean soup beans. Tomatoes are just starting to turn, our corn tassels are drying and then they’ll be ready to harvest.

    Sadly we’ve lost several more stalks to Corn Smut. Our Tumeric & Ginger arrived in the mail & we got them planted in pots yesterday. We got a small harvest of apples that we made into fried apples and served them over ice cream.

    There were several more banana peppers that we harvested as well.

    Banana Peppers with pickling seasoning

    A few of them we chopped up and put on our pizza a few weeks ago & this past weekend we made pickled banana peppers! Dad found a YouTube Video explaining the simple process using ingredients that most people already have in their kitchen or are easy to find in the store. We followed the recipe replacing the garlic cloves for minced garlic & the celery seed for celery flakes.

    We chopped our peppers & boiled our brine. After heating our jars (we don’t sterilize them; we just wash them & heat them in the oven on the lowest setting until we’re ready to pack them–this was how Great Grandma taught us), we put the peppers inside and covered them with the brine. Put a reusable storage lid on top loosely & let them cool on the counter overnight.

    The next morning we placed them in the fridge. We chose to make refrigerator peppers this time around to try them. If we like them & we’re able to do another batch we’ll hot water bath them for longer-term storage.

    While we were at it we had a couple more zucchini that needed to be preserved. All the zucchini that we’ve gotten so far we’ve eaten roasted. But these two we peeled, quartered, & grated using our food processer to freeze. Over the Winter we’ll use it to make Great Grandma’s zucchini bread, add some to soup, or even pasta sauce. We ended up with three 2-cup bags for the freezer & about 1.5 cups that we added to our pasta sauce for dinner that night.

    Now, comes the fun part: trying the pickled peppers!

    Sunday night’s dinner was brats, coleslaw, & pickled peppers. They were good but a little too vinegary. So we tried them again Monday night…& they were perfect! After thinking about it, I think I pulled them out too early Sunday & they just needed more time to mingle!

    Even though we’ve been busy thus far & anticipate being busier over the next several weeks we are thankful that we have the ability to do what we are doing. That many hands do indeed make light work & for the most part, we’re all willing to pitch in to get the job done–whatever that job may be.

    Until next time,
    Bailey Sue

  • Busy, Busy, Busy…

    Busy, Busy, Busy…

    Note: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated–without any extra cost to you– when you make a purchase through these links. You can read our Disclaimer here).

    I must admit that all the back-to-school sales & the subtle arrival of the newest Fall fashion took me a little by surprise. This year is going by so fast…For many, this is a busy time of the year. School will be starting at the end of the month if it hasn’t already and the holidays are right around the corner.

    For us, we’re coming upon our busy season. We picked up two new Friday Farmer’s Markets in addition to our every-other Saturday Market. We’re steadily harvesting beans, zucchini, & banana peppers that we’re preserving! We got a few jars of pickles & some relish preseved from our cucumber plants! The squash vines are producing spaghetti squash, acorn squash, & pumpkins. Tomatoes are abundant on the vines so once they start to ripen we’ll be very busy putting those up. We’ve got over 30 ears of corn almost ready for harvest too.

    Add to that, September is our busiest month with the bakery. We have a few Farmer’s markets in addition to the Mum Festival at the end of the month. A two-day long local festival with a parade & lots of fried food, vendors, & people!

    As our calendars start to fill up it’s easy to feel overwhelmed & exhausted.

    At the beginning of the year, I chose a word to focus on. Growth. What’s funny is that this year has been more about perspective. When there’s a lot going on I tend to gravitate to my to-do list, making sure that come day’s end most, if not all the tasks are complete.

    Along the way, I forget to pause & enjoy the moment. I forget to acknowledge that God has blessed us with the produce from the garden & the knowledge to preserve it. Or that the sink full of dishes means that we ate a good home-cooked meal. The piles of laundry mean that we all have clothes to wear.

    I recently started reading a book by Emily P. Freeman called The Next Right Thing. It’s about learning to simplify life so that we can discern His voice more. The book’s main focus is on making decisions. However, I’m finding a lot of the principles apply to everyday life. Simply put: do the next right thing. Do what’s right in front of you well.

    I don’t know about you but I’m a lot more like Martha than I care to admit. I’m always worrying about what’s next. The truth is I forget about Mary. About her ability to pause, savor the moment, and “choose the good part which will not be taken away from her.” (See Luke 10:38-42).

    If I’m being honest, I really want the ability that Mary had. The peace of being able to choose what was better & not have that worry in the back of her mind that she wasn’t doing enough or that she should be doing something else.

    What we’ve come to find out is that it all boils down to priorities.

    Taking life one day at a time. What needs done today? Which of those tasks should be done first? Then doing that task well & moving on to the next. I don’t always do this well, or sometimes at all. If there’s one thing that I’m learning it’s that I don’t want to get to the end of my life feeling like I missed out on living becasue I was so focused on my silly to-do list. I want to soak up the beauty and joy of the life that’s right in front of me. TODAY.

    So with the turn of the calendar and soon the turn of the seasons let’s remember to take life one day at a time. One hour, one minute. Focusing on not only doing the next thing in front of us well, but also on simply enjoying. Taking a minute to pause, silence the noise and distractions that are so prevalent and take a look around. Thanking God for what He’s given then enjoying it! Play with your kids, savor that meal, bask in sunshine, enjoy the feel of the wind through your hair.

    Front Porch

    Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
    ~Luke 10:41-42

    Until next time,
    Bailey Sue

  • Preparing for Winter One Piece at a Time…

    Preparing for Winter One Piece at a Time…

    If you’ve been around here a while you know a couple of things about us. First, our primary heat source is a wood-burning fireplace insert. Something that Dad made sure to have installed as soon as possible once we had the keys. Second, our wood cutting & storage situation has changed almost yearly since we moved in almost 6 years ago.

    As hard as we try to cut wood throughout the year inevitably life happens. We’re never as ahead as we’d like to be. So, starting in late Summer we’ll take a few Saturdays and cut and stack wood all day.

    Bailey stacking Firewood

    Dad’s worked at the same company for nearly 30 years. So, if someone is throwing something out he’ll ask about it and usually he’ll bring it home. That’s actually how he gets all of our firewood & some of our wood for projects. The company gets a lot of skids or pallets in. He’ll load them in the back of the truck and bring them home. He told a couple of coworkers and now he’s got people setting stacks of them aside for him to bring home.

    wood to cut

    After he brings them home we’ll stack them up along the driveway until we can break them apart. The first Winter we lived here Mom and Bradley would cut the skids apart using a circular saw and cut wood as we needed it.

    Shortly after that first Winter we changed it up a little and decided to use a chainsaw. We’d unstack the skids and lay them flat on the ground. Then someone would go around with a chainsaw and break them apart. We’d take them to the backyard and cut them to length. It worked a lot better than the circular saw but we went through chainsaws and chains like toilet paper. Evidently the majority of chainsaws are not meant to be used that frequently. Our clothes got stained with oil and bending over to cut the wood left the operator’s back and legs sore.

    So we upgraded & got a Mitersaw that we mounted to an old metal table we had laying around. Dad had a guy make something that we could use to break the skids apart…So we’d break the skids apart, transfer them to the back yard and cut them to length.

    That’s the best saw & cutting set up we’ve had yet. And for the most part, we’ve only made some minor adjustments.

    We were watching some homesteading videos on YouTube & came across one from Lumnah Acres where he made a dust collection system for his shop. Dad bought the stuff and made a few modifications to it so that it works better for us. The skid busters that were built are pretty heavy for the majority of us so we got a breaker bar from the hardware store that does the same job it’s just lighter. Just this past year we’ve moved all the wood working supplies up to the garage making it easier to build projects and cut wood.

    Stacking the wood is another story…

    Stacked Wood

    As we’ve grown into this property the places we put the wood changes. We’ve had it in a particular place only to get chickens, expand their space, or clean up an existing junk pile only to discover an undisclosed dangerous well in the middle of the yard. Last year when we took our deck down we toyed with the idea of moving the wood to a section of fence across from the back door. It makes it easier to bring the wood in when there’s bad weather or a lot of snow.

    Earlier this year we started getting some gravel and working to move the wood closer to the house. So far, it’s our favorite spot! And now that we’ve moved the wood cutting supplies to the garage it’s even easier to stack the wood! And we’ve upgraded our tarps to an actual wood cover!

    Honestly, I would get so frustrated that we’d have to move and restack all the wood every year. Believe me, it got old really fast. But I’ve learned to be flexible. What started as a blank slate 3/4 acre property with 2 cats & a dog grew into 6 chickens and a small garden. Which then grew into 6 bunnies & many chickens.

    And finally where we’re at now. 3 dogs, 2 indoor cats, a GINORMOUS garden, 6 bunnies, several chickens, 2 shed cats, and 2 porch cats. As irriating as moving firewood can be, it was a sign that our homestead was (& continues to grow)! It is all about perspective after all..

    Until next time,
    Bailey Sue

  • There is a Fungus Among Us… 😮

    There is a Fungus Among Us… 😮

    This week we’ve been able to harvest a couple more zucchini that we’ve enjoyed eating roasted, more beans that we’ve blanched and frozen, & even made some pickles!

    We harvested even more Banana Peppers, a few Jalapeños, & the very first ripe apples off of OUR Columnar Apple Trees! Thankfully we have a ton of green tomatoes coming on! Our corn is starting to tassel and the pumpkins & squash are growing bigger in their hammocks!


    However, we’ve noticed something else too…Disease has claimed a few of our plants. 😥

    Earlier this week while looking at the garden Dad & Bradley noticed this fungus on the Bloody Butcher Corn & mealy bug on one of our Sweet Corn stalks. According to our research, the fungus on the Bloody Butcher Corn pictured below is called Corn Smut & it’s actually edible 🥴 but we have NO intention of eating it. So, we’ve pulled out 2 stalks of corn & burned them to prevent the smut from spreading.

    We also had to harvest 2 full plants of green tomatoes because the plants were dying! So now, the dining room window sill is doubling as a tomato ripening station.

    As sad and frustrating as it is to have to pull plants before we’ve harvested the fruit it’s necessary. Unlike the popular Osmonds song, one bad apple really does spoil the whole bunch. If we’d left the plants the fungus & disease could have easily spread to the entire patch of corn or the rest of the tomatoes. And that is far worse than losing 4 plants. It’s all about perspective

    “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”
    ~Galatians 6:9

    Until next time,
    Bailey Sue

  • Cucumbers, Pickles, & Relish–1st Time Canning in 2022!

    Cucumbers, Pickles, & Relish–1st Time Canning in 2022!

    Note: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated–without any extra cost to you– when you make a purchase through these links. You can read our Disclaimer here).

    The garden produce is trickling in! We’ve gotten quite a few green beans, about a 1/2 dozen zucchini, and finally enough cucumbers to can! If you’d like a more in depth explaination of how we can & some of our most used supplies check out this post!

    With this batch of cucumbers, we decided to make one pint each of refrigerator dill & bread & butter pickles, dill relish, & of course some dill pickles.

    I find pickles to be one of the easiest things to can. While you can make your own pickling salt we’ve always bought Mrs. Wages pre-made packets. Typically, the instructions for both the brine & full pickling process are printed on the back of the package. Then you mix the packet with water and vinegar & heat it on the stove. Fill your jars with cucumbers add the brine, put a lid on it, and process it in the water bath!

    We used a mandoline slicer to speed up the slicing process. I’ve been banned from using that ever since I about sliced my thumb off years ago.

    For the relish, we used the grater blade on our mandoline slicer and then filled the jars with the same pickling mix that we used for the dill pickles, & processed the jars.

    This is a first for us. We’ve never made dill relish before. When we finished filling the jars we had a little left so we added a little brine, stuck a lid on it and popped it in the fridge. When we tried it the next day we all liked it. It had more of a coleslaw texture than relish but it was good & we’d do it again.

    We had a couple of cucumbers that needed to be “surgically” removed from the trellis. They actually grew into the trellis & once they were cut free they had little bits of chicken wire still attached. So, Dad took some wirecutters & cut the wire off. After that they were good to go! Who would’ve thought that wirecutters were a canning essential?

    When we placed the jars in the waterbath we heard a discinct crack. We couldn’t immediately tell which jar cracked so we left them all in to process. When the time was up, sure enough one of the jars was sitting at an odd angle. Upon pulling it out we saw that the entire bottom had cracked off. 😥

    Yes, it’s sad to lose a jar. But sometimes that happens. So we carefully pulled it out, saved the ring, reusable lid, & rubber gasket & tossed it in the trash. After letting the hot water sit overnight we strained it through some cheesecloth & washed everything so that it’s clean for next time!

    The refrigerator pickles were even easier!

    Sadly, these got going so fast I didn’t get a chance to take pictures. However, I’ll admit I was quite leery of trying these. We’d done refrigerator pickles in the past and I was not a fan of them.

    These though? They’re GOOD! Actually, they may just be my favorite pickles & I’m not a big pickle person. They’re so simple too!! Get a pint jar, fill with 1-1.5 pounds of sliced cucumbers. Open the packet of premmixed brine (We used this brand specifically for refrigerator pickles. This is different than the premade brine mix linked above. This is a premade liquid brine.), pop a lid on the jar and refrigerate for at least 8 hours! We tried both the dill and the bread & butter varities and loved them both.

    All in all, we ended up getting 4 quarts of dill pickle slices, 1 quart of dill relish, & 1 pint each of dill & bread & butter refigerator pickles. Not too bad for the very first canning of 2022! We ended up using the refridgerator pickles & the left over dill relish the next night for dinner! And it was delicious!

    Until next time,
    Bailey Sue