The Homestead Grows…

“Real Life”
Mike plowing the new garden like a REAL farmer, with a tractor and plow!

After my ridiculous call week of 71 hours in 5 days, I woke up Saturday morning at 5 ready to jump into what I like to call my “real life.” The plan was to find a used washing machine to replace our dead one and then get to work on the farm. We drove the 30 minutes to Houston, MO, only to receive a call that the washing machine we were going to look at had been sold.

As fate would have it, there was a big auction going on at the fairgrounds. We decided to see what was there. We walked in, immediately won a much-needed new stove for $20.00, and then wasted the next several hours waiting for something else good to come along. We should have just taken the stove and left. But it was fun, and we enjoyed the afternoon.

Playing “Chicken” With The Weather

My greenhouse seedling nursery has been bursting at the seams! I up-potted, and those larger pots are already too small. Everything is root-bound right now, and looking quite peaked, droopy, and sad. The issue is the weather. We are having such cold snaps that it is a crap-shoot regarding timing of transplanting. Tomatoes in zone 6B should be out on Mother’s Day. But with lows of 37 degrees, that’s not a very good idea. Our other issue is that I have nowhere to plant said vegetables. The ground has been so very wet that we have been unable to till up the ground. Now that Mike has fixed the tractor, he will be able to continue his project of directing rainwater runoff so that our living and gardening area is no longer a swamp. Unfortunately, we are in for another 4-5 days of heavy rain, so my poor plants continue to suffer in their tiny pots. I finally made the choice to tuck what I could where I could outside so that at least we will have some fresh veggies this summer. Our growing season is pretty long, so I am hoping my late starts will do fine. I also have the greenhouse, which is just overflowing with food.

The archway Justin built last year from cattle panels revealed a happy surprise when I removed the pots from last year: Mulch had broken down into a nice, black soil that was full of earthworms! I mixed in some sand, peat moss, potting soil, and my very first batch of homemade compost and got to planting.

I found that squash and tomatoes are good companion plants, so I put in a little of everything: Three varieties of Heirloom tomatoes, a zucchini, a cucumber plant, and two White Ghost pumpkin plants. I can’t wait to see them all making a living, green tunnel of food!

The Greenhouse

I have totally revamped my approach to growing in my greenhouse this year. When I first started, I ever-so-carefully made arrow-straight rows of lettuce and spinach, everything spaced the way the seed packet said. It was picture-perfect. But I realized that Nature does not flourish like this. Nature has variety and symbiotic relationships and an ecosystem. This year, my summer greenhouse garden is a chaotically-organized tableau of companion plants in varying stages of maturity, which will ensure a steady supply of many garden basics: Lettuce, spinach, onions, carrots, nasturtium, tomatoes, and peppers. Nothing is labeled, because I really don’t care. I can see with my eyes the difference between buttercrunch and oak leaf lettuce. It is so much fun to go “shopping” for dinner!

Next Steps

We are STILL waiting on Mike and Jen’s tax refund to arrive so we can get started on our forever home. Fortunately, there is plenty of work to be done while we’re waiting. Next on the list is to get proper ventilation in the greenhouse so we don’t have the stunted growth and awful tomato production we did last year due to ridiculously high temps. Mike has some plans for some ventilation windows built into the sides of the greenhouse. We will be installing the shade cloth we got last year. The row cover inside will need to be rolled up and tucked out of the way to make room for the tomatoes’ rapid vertical growth.

I’ve ordered the carburetor for our second better-quality weedwhacker, so that two people can now work on beating back the ever-encroaching brush and grasses. We are also awaiting the new steering kit for our little John Deere tractor, which has been sitting idle since last summer. Mike is designing a trailer for it with a boom so that super heavy containers can be moved with ease by old ladies like me! We are also repurposing an RV water tank for the trailer, adding a pump, and we will be able to drive 45 gallons of water to any garden on the property and not be reliant on the length of our hoses!

If it ever dries out Mike will plow up the garden close to the kitchen and the old pig pen area. Then we’ll be able to till it with my new tiller and start getting food in the ground!

Saturday Night Sauna

Saturday night we had an all too-rare sauna, which was absolutely healing and relaxing. Justin is our resident pyromaniac, so he got that sucker roaring: 200 degrees! The sauna is part of Mike’s cabin, and it was entirely designed and built by him and grandson Gabe. We spent many cold winter nights enjoying its comfort!

The best way to enjoy a super hot sauna (at least, the way we do it), is to get yourself very warm, and by the time you are ready for a rinse in the shower, you will be simply pouring sweat. Walk into the shower room and take a shower as cold/cool as you can stand it. If you shut the shower off and you’re still steaming, you’re not cool enough! Get back into the sauna and repeat. Because my muscles are warm, I like to do some long stretches. It feels so good to move in that heat! My chronic neck, back, and shoulder pain is greatly relived after some stretching in the sauna. An added bonus is then sleeping like a baby!

Back to the World

Tomorrow starts another work week, and I am kind of sad about that. Please don’t get me wrong. I love my job. I love what I do (I’m a dialysis nurse, by the way.). I get great fulfillment in helping people feel better as a direct result of my treatments. But my heart, my soul, and my passion is inspired by what we are doing here on our homestead. I am never more alive than when my family and I are sitting around the campfire tossing ideas around and refining plans for this place. The thought of taking some dirt and some seeds, nurturing them into a harvest, and then preparing or preserving that food for my family is simply joy to me. I look around me and all I see is either what we created, or what we are creating. I see it all as beauty. I often forget that to outside eyes, this place is a little, ummm, rugged. Some would even feel sorry for us. But in reality, I feel sorry for them.

To find joy and satisfaction in the pursuit of one’s loftiest and grandest dreams and desires is to truly live. And even though I wish I had more time to travel this path, I am immensely grateful to have had the opportunity at all. So many live and die trapped in their little boxes of conformity, never knowing the satisfaction that comes from living fearlessly.

Peace to you!

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