October Goals Update 2018

Adios October! And oh my goodness there are only 2 more months this year! However, I feel like we have made the most out of 2018! So, we are ready for November!

1. Expand the garden- ✅it happened! It has been cleaned out and the chickens and ducks have been enjoying getting to run through it! I loved the layout of it this year!

Our October Garden

2. Fix the camper- ✅We fixed up our camper and loved using it on a trip of a lifetime! I catch myself thinking about the fun that we had this summer often!

Picnicking in Yellowstone!

3.Travel out west- ✅ We did it and enjoyed every single stop! I loved hiking the trails and still think about how we packed a lunch, went on a long hike and then ate our lunch while watching buffalo and wild horses in the distance! 🌏💚

Old faithful!

4. Create a certified wildlife habitat ✅ There was grass patch in front of the garage that was begging to be returned to nature. So, we did! Everything has slowly died off, but I have saved so many seeds for next year! I’m hoping to add more native plants!

Milkweed that I saved from a lawnmower!

Seeds that I will be using next year!

5. Reduce garbage- Last year we made 7 bags of garbage and we want to make less than 6 bags this year. We are up to 4, so I think we have a good chance of making it!

6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month- I gave away an old Halloween costume and spent tons of time working on our composting program for school. Between phone calls, meetings and emails I have a lot of time wrapped up in it!

7. Repurpose, remake, mend, repair-  This month I participated in a seed swap to give out our seeds that we have a lot of and make room for new varieties! Oh, and the Mr. fixed my phone case that I accidentally broke. Yay for a resourceful spouse!

8. Paw Paw trees- Our 2 little trees are looking great! They were repotted and put outside to get used to the weather. They are starting to lose their leaves now! They are preparing for winter!

9. Build a pizza oven- ❎ we are not doing this one this year. We are trying to figure out how we are going to change up the backyard next year! (We have an interesting plan for next year!)

10. Grow different produce- We have grow so many different plants! Huge gourds, different melons and glass gem corn! I just enjoyed some kale and broccoli from our garden just last week!

11. Continue tracking the solar panels- October was also a rainy month, but we still produced enough power to keep our bill at the $5 connection rate!

12. Work on garden cart sales- We sold our Blacksmithing and sewn crafts at a local craft show and had a great weekend!

I am pretty proud of the steps that we are making towards achieving our goals! And, I have a list of close to 30 different goals that are on the chopping block for 2019!

Are you thinking about next year already? Anything that you think we should give a try to?

Keep blooming friends! 🌱

Composting at school

The time has finally come! It was not a well loved idea throughout our county, but change is hard. (Especially if you have not composted yourself before!) I know that we need to teach these youngsters how to compost and be less wasteful, and I’m proud to say that there were many learning moments!

First up was setting up the bin! The location had already been suggested by our composting guru/consultant. I just had to put the bin in place and stake it down. The county that I live in waste management actually donated 2 of these bins to our school!

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Set up and ready in the new location! 

Then, I put some newspaper down to keep the grass from growing in there, a few leaves that were right beside the bin and next up were some leaves. It was topped off with a touch of compost from my bin to get it started!

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All ready to start composting! 

On Wednesday’s lunch shift I went down to the cafeteria to sort out our third grade’s leftover lunches. And here is what we noticed:

1. Kids took straws even if they had no intention of using them. (And extra straws!)

2. They take stacks of napkins, instead of just 1!

3. Some kids didn’t even touch their whole lunch! As in nothing at all!

But with all of that said, we composted 5.44 pounds of compostable materials!  Then, I added the sawdust to keep any smell from developing.

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Our first pile added to the compost! 

Next up, I put the buckets next to my car to clean out and bring in more saw dust to start the whole process over again on Wednesday next week!

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Our compost buckets ready to be washed! 

Overall, the process went well. The student compost volunteers did such a great job of telling the other students what can be composted, and the cafeteria staff have been so kind to allow us to come into their space and start something new!

It is awesome to see kids get so excited about composting and reducing their waste! We definitely need to teach them young! 🌎💚♻️

Greening up the school!

This has been a pretty great week at school! In case you are just stopping by, I am a third grade teacher and teach all of the regular curriculum and squeeze in Earth friendly lessons along the way.

Last year we were able to start a cereal bowl recycling program and recycled a grand total of around 500. More teachers have jumped on board and now we are recycling more!

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So far 446! (Since August!)

We have had a paper recycling program going on since I started teaching at the school that I teach at. However, last year we only had one out of many cans recycled due to contamination. So, this year we changed up the program, added more guidelines and it is going so much better! After sorting through it, I only had to pull out a few crayons, glue sticks and gross tissues.

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Almost 90 pounds! 

Last year I started begging about wanting to do some composting at school. I was told no, but persisted. Then I started a neighborhood composting program with my son this summer to learn more and practice mixing the browns and greens. Then, revisited it with my principal and composting guru and now we will be having waste free Wednesdays with our grade level. I can not even tell you how happy my green heart is!

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One of our new compost bins! 

Speaking of composting, we are up over 900 pounds here with our neighborhood program and have a goal of 1,000 pounds before we go on winter break. I hope that it happens!

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Getting closer! 

And lastly, we finally had to take out the trash. This is only bag 4 for the whole year! We might just reach our goal!

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Bag 4 for the year

So, pretty great progress this week! I have so many ideas that I want to do in the future! I love the feeling of hard work paying off and being given the chance to prove that I can do something! Here’s to teaching some 8 year olds how important this Earth is!

Busy but back!

We have been crafting and Blacksmithing every hour of the day that we have had available for weeks to prepare for a craft show. It’s the main one that we do, so we wanted to have a decent selection!

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Our little bit of everything! 

We almost sold out of the different forged items that the Mr. made!

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All kinds of handles! 

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Railroad spike pulls 

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Business card holder

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Park bench business card holders 

And I managed to make a few different items this time too!

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Luffa soap 

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Beeswax lipbalm 

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Crocheted cotton dishcloths 

We also sold some of our homegrown goodness!

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Birdhouse gourds and glass gem corn 

And if you are looking to win some of the seeds from plants that we loved growing this year, head over to the homestead Facebook page and take a chance!

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Giving away on Facebook until the end of the month! 

This weekend is dedicated to finishing up our son’s Halloween costume! Hopefully he will be the best looking 5’ 6 inch jawa!

Keep blooming friends! 🌱💚🌸

September Goals Update 2018

Hello October! September was pretty good to us! I mean, it was my birthday this month! And I got seeds and a compost thermometer (along with other great things!) We were able to still harvest some fruits and veggies and the flowers keep blooming too! So, here’s how the goals are going:

1. Expand the garden- ✅it happened! Everything is slowing down and harvests are becoming few and far between. But, we still have some yumminess coming out of our garden!

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Garden in September 

2. Fix the camper- ✅We fixed up our camper and loved using it on a trip of a lifetime! I catch myself thinking about the fun that we had this summer often!

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3.Travel out west- ✅ We did it and enjoyed every single stop! I loved hiking the trails and still think about how we packed a lunch, went on a long hike and then ate our lunch while watching buffalo and wild horses in the distance! 🌏💚

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Natural bridge in Yellowstone 

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Buffalo in North Dakota 

4. Create a certified wildlife habitat ✅ There was grass patch in front of the garage that was begging to be returned to nature. So, we did! There is still so much blooming! And my favorite part is that I have been able to raise and release monarchs because of the milkweed planted! Plus I’m saving seeds for next year and to share!

5. Reduce garbage- Last year we made 7 bags of garbage and we want to make less than 6 bags this year. Still only 3 bags!

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Love that photo bomber! 

6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month- I didn’t do a grand gesture last month. We shared produce and started looking at sites for a community garden that I’d like to help with. We also attended the town meeting and asked about a good location.

7. Repurpose, remake, mend, repair-  This month I had the Mr. help to paint them ends of some silverware (to help them not be left at home) to put in the faculty room to deter people from using disposables. It’s working so far!

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Reuse! 

8. Paw Paw trees- Our 2 little trees are looking great! They were repotted and put outside to get used to the weather.

We went hiking and found some paw paws to try! They were good!

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Paw paw! 

9. Build a pizza oven- ❎ we are not doing this one this year. We are trying to figure out how we are going to change up the backyard next year! (We have an interesting plan for next year!)

10. Grow different produce- We have grow so many different plants! Huge gourds, different melons and glass gem corn!

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Glass gem corn on the door

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Gourds galore! 

11. Continue tracking the solar panels- September was a rainy month, but we still produced enough power to keep our bill at the $5 connection rate!

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Not bad considering it rained nearly everyday! 

12. Work on garden cart sales- We mainly sold honey in September and we are looking forward to a big craft show this month!

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Honey! 

I am pretty proud of the steps that we are making towards achieving our goals! And, I have a list of 20 different goals that are on the chopping block for 2019! Are you thinking about next year already? Anything that you think we should give a try to?

Keep blooming friends! 🌱

A plan that actually worked!

Last year right around this time of the year, I had an interesting idea. It was to expand the garden to go out around the bee area and attach in to the chicken run. I even posted this:

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My 2017 dream! 

Last Fall my mister was awesome and tilled that area and I planted some different cover crops. The old fence was taken down and I started planning for spring! When it finally arrived, we put up t posts, fencing, lots of mulch and weed paper around the perimeter. It was at that point that I thought that I may have overcommitted!

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The garden door and no fence

Once all of the fencing was installed, we had to fill it all again, made a mulched walkway, trellis around the beeyard side and planted the seedlings!

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A very young garden! 

And even after a long trip out west, and the wettest summer in forever, the garden seemed to be thriving!

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An early season garden 

The trellises held the pole beans well, and the chickens loved that I would toss Japanese beetles to them!

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Trellises full of beans and gourds 

And then today, exactly what I had dreamed and hoped would happen last year worked out! While cleaning out the garden, I just opened up the door to the chicken area and they helped clean the garden with me! No more dragging everything from the chicken run for them to check it out. It was well worth of the work!

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Chickens checking around the gourds 

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They also cleaned up under the trellis! 

They spent so much of the day in there scratching around, eating pesky bugs and enjoying digging under the corn stalks! It was all worth the hard work!

I always wonder if I’m crazy for not wanting to move, but then moments like today happens! Keep blooming friends (even when you are pretty sure that you are in over your head!)

We found Paw Paws!!

One of our goals here is to get Paw Paw trees growing. Last year we cold stratified seeds from October into the new year. Then, after being planted for quite a while, a couple seeds sprouted!

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Paw paw seed

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First leaves 

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Tiny tree! 

Obviously, it’s going to be quite some time before we get a paw paw grown here! Therefore, we went out paw paw hunting! I knew what the leaves looked like online, so that’s what we looked for first. They have a very large, almost tropical looking leaf:

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Several Paw Paw trees

Then, we were able to spot the fruit. It is definitely more of a wild looking edible:

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2 Paw Paws

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Several fruits

After a few shakes, we had a couple Paw Paws to try:

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An interesting fruit with huge seeds! 

So, how was it?!? My husband and I liked it. Our son, not so much. It had a creamy consistency with a somewhat tropical flavor. I thought it tasted like a melon/banana/ and something else we couldn’t describe.

We are now even more excited about getting our own fruit from our trees now! If you have tasted one before, how would you describe the taste?

 

Honey, compost and outdoor school

This week was a busy one! All week I drove to the next county over to go to outdoor school and experience it with students from our school. We had a great week, despite the rain and muddiness! The hikes were my favorite part!

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The sun did manage to shine one day! 

When I got home, we spent one whole evening spinning and filtering some honey from our hives. It turned out a beautiful dark color and has a delicious taste!

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Beautiful capped honey! 

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Slowly filtering! 

Since it seems like the only weather we have anymore is rain, compost pickups are always rainy. I’m so lucky to have a great worker who doesn’t complain about getting rained on during pickups! Look how many pounds we have collected so far:

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Over 800 pounds so far! 

Even though that weather was not ideal, I was able to find a few sunshine rays that allowed me to release a few butterflies this week! 1 boy and 1 girl so far!

When  I was rushing out of the house earlier this week and I found this lone leaf in the driveway:

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❤️

I feel like the Earth was sending me some love back! We are pretty committed to each other! 😆

Wherever you are, whatever you do, try to bloom where you’re planted! 🌱❤️

Walk through the garden 8/30

The garden is still producing lots of yummy food for us and we finally have a watermelon making an appearance!

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It’s got a long way to go in a short time! 

I also peeked in on the glass gem corn and its looking beautiful!

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Glass gem corn 

I am finally starting to see some Brussel sprouts! I’m hoping that I like them!

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Brussel sprouts! 

A couple of the carrots bolted, so I figured that I would collect the seeds for next year!

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Flower seeds from carrots 

The tomatoes are still producing! We will be making lots more sauce and salsa! Yum!

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San Marzano tomatoes!

The luffas have been loving this hot weather this week! There are 5 taking over the door!

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Lots of little luffas! 

Here is a garden picture of last month compared to this month! A lot of the plants are dying off and others are taking off!

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July garden 

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August garden 

And I know that I have said it before, but I am still loving the pollinator garden area! We released our latest homegrown monarch! It was a girl!

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#7 didn’t care for getting a picture! 

Even though there is still lots of empty space, I’m loving the way that the wildlife area has worked out!

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Our little wildlife area! 

I hope that your garden is still giving you lots of food and beauty! 🌱❤️

Canning and back to work

Last week was a long one! Going back to work means prepping for a new school year and SO many meetings. (And sitting in seats made for 8 year olds during those meetings!) I am absolutely exhausted by the end of the day! But, everything will be ready by the first day for my students!

I have been able to get in the garden several nights this week and had a few nice harvests! I need to make so much more out of tomatoes!

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Nice harvest right out of the yard! 

We also had our stand set up this weekend! We had lots of customers!

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Our tiny produce stand 

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All of the tomatoes still left after the sale! 

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Some salsa ready canned and delicious! 

We finally had to take out the trash. Our goal for the year is to only make 6 bags, so I am thinking that we should be ok!

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Bag 3 and both dogs made it in the picture! 

We also did the compost pickup today. It takes a lot of scrubbing and cleaning, but we only upcycle unwanted containers for the compost. The regular buckets are from a company’s laundry detergent and the left are kitty litter containers.

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Upcycled and ready to be used! 

And check out how much we have composted so far:

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717.24 pounds!!!!

And last, but no least, we found 13 more monarch caterpillars that we will be raising and releasing!

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So many babies! 

And our last 2 were ready to be released on Thursday! 1 girl and 1 boy! (The girl flew away immediately!)

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This handsome fellow even posed for me! 

I’m looking forward to getting myself back in the work routine and hopefully having a great school year! Keep blooming! 🌱❤️