Our First Year of Homesteading – Spring

What we have

We have started seeds indoors with this greenhouse. (Full disclosure, if you follow the link I just provided, I may earn a slight fee at no cost to you, this is referred to as an affiliate sale.)  This year I am attempting to add to our gardening space by doing some plants like cherry tomatoes in containers. As it warms, more can be planted outside.

I did complete two online courses through Cornell (they were gracious enough to offer 2 free courses for those interested during this Covid-19 Lockdown. I completed a course on Soil Health and Intro to Beekeeping.

Our turkey chicks arrived in mid-April. They are adorably cute at this stage, the older they get the less cute they are until they are downright ugly. Sweet birds for the most part, but butt-ugly. I now remember how much it hurts when they try to sample your tattoo (mine is an anklet, that they try to nibble/chomp)!

We were able to buy a rebuilt washing machine. Savings at the laundrymat money pays for that machine quite quickly for us. We also bartered for a bread machine, our fresh eggs for a gently used machine. We love fresh bread but I just don’t have time to tend to all the kneading and rising. I’m not sure what we prefer: a savory loaf or a sweet loaf.

What we are doing now

We are starting to forage. I am pretty confident in my berries, but they aren’t ready yet. I am good with my fiddle heads, and I hope to try ramps this year. I am sure my family will like them. I’m allergic to garlic, so I wonder if I can handle ramps, it could be a handy alternative… As we are out on local trails I note the berry bushes and hope to seek out property owners for permission to pick.

Time to harvest dandelions. For years I have wanted to make dandelion wine. I also want to make dandelion jam and dandelion salve. I am not sure I want to eat the greens even though I have been told they are delicious if you harvest them while tender. So far, what is close to home is growing right on the side of the road or on treated fields. Soon I should find enough that are clean and without chemicals.

Some might consider it cheating, but at this point I start bulk buying fresh vegetables to start canning. I don’t have fresh tomatoes at this stage, but I can buy a case of them pretty cheap and start canning salsa, for example. I also start buying fresh fruit as it is cheap. This trend continues through the summer and fall. I chop and dry some for our DIY instant oatmeal. In the past I have frozen a lot of fruit, this year I hope to can more of it. Right now 25 pounds of beets are in my kitchen. I’m going to try a recipe I found for chips. And I have roasted some and started using them in smoothies. I may try dehydrating them and grinding them into powder as another storage style. That might be easier on the texture, also.

We are bartering more fresh eggs for other plants. I just bartered eggs for rhubarb and am doing another exchange this week.

We are currently in the market for a new freezer. The freezer I don’t need til later in the summer, but maybe we can get a better deal by buying before the gardens are producing or hunting season.

What we need to do next

We have decided that most farmer’s markets are not opening this spring and maybe not this summer. Therefore we may have to have a farm stand at the house to sell from. We had considered this before. So we need to:

See if we can put an easel or other temporary sign up by the main road a half mile away.

Build a stand, maybe on a trailer

Figure out how to keep the dust out of the stand (maybe we can’t have it right beside our 

dirt road so how do we entice them up the driveway and retain our privacy?

Figure out how to keep the money secure, prevent theft, and keep animals out. We won’t 

want to stay at the stand constantly.

Do we lock it at night or empty it?

We need a cooler to keep the eggs cool.

We need a freezer or fridge/freezer and electricity if we want to sell anything cold

We need labels for anything baked or prepared (and be familiar with all cottage/kitchen 

laws about ingredients etc).

We need to create signs for the stand itself with what is offered, plus a sign for the 

crossroads at the main road and in Burke Hollow.

If it is on a trailer, can we bring it to Camp?

Find a small rectangular mirror to place behind jars to reflect light through the pretty 

things.

More canning, and daily garden work is in our future, just as much as daily feeding the fowl and collecting eggs. It’s just what we do.

We have a new guardian puppy arriving soon. Then there will be puppy training, too. The kids are hoping for ducklings, too…we’ll see.

11 Comments

  1. You do more than most people so I wouldn’t worry about whether buying vegetables to can is cheating. It sounds like you have a lot of tasks ahead, but you are also accomplishing a lot of really cool things. I think homesteading sounds like a beautiful, simple lifestyle that I would enjoy. My fiance does not agree though, so I will have to live vicariously through your experiences. Enjoy the turkey chicks!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It is rewarding, but it is also difficult. I was ready to get rid of all the birds about a week ago after they had broken out of their fencing and destroyed my cucumber starts and then refused to go in their coop that night. 😆

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  2. So you have that many eggs that you can barter for a washing machine? Wow! I can just imagine your turkey chicks being dumb enough to pick at your tattoo.

    On your stand: might be a choice between security and having it closer to the house. How busy is your road? How do others in the area do it? Can you ask some friends what they would prefer/ be more likely to stop at as a customer?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, these are great suggestions! You’re right, there aren’t that many stands as most of our roads aren’t that busy. There are a lot on the honor system, and most are within sight but not right next to the dusty road. Our driveway/hillside makes that last part difficult…

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  3. It’s not cheating to buy good food in season and preserve it – sometimes veges either don’t work out or something happens to them. Sometimes it’s just a bad season or your too busy to plant. I’ve never done canning but I have done some bottling. You sound like it’s all coming together

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I would love to have a greenhouse so I am super jealous! I’m not as jealous about all the work you have to do, but I’m somehow also feeling super inspired.

    Liked by 3 people

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