Walk through the garden 6/16/17

It has been quite a hot spell this week with temperatures almost in the 90’s everyday. Therefore, I have not bothered the bees because they are already hot and I’m not one to anger already angry insects that sting.

I’ll start off with our tiny harvests! I picked a ton mulberries off the neighbor’s bush to make a pie! (Unfortunately, it turns out that I am not a huge mulberry fan! But, it wasn’t absolutely terrible!)

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Garlic straight from the garden
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Our first onion and some other yummies

The garden has seemed to enjoy this warm up! The tomatoes are full of blooms, as well as other plants!

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Tomato blooms! 
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Cucumber blooms
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Zucchini plant
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Green beans (plus lots of weeds!) 
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Pumpkin blooms 
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Tiny cucumelons 

While I was in the garden, I found a chicken behind me checking out everything!

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Rogue chicken

And the solar panels have been making tons of energy with these sunny days! Already over a megawatt by the middle of the month!

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Solar + longer days = loads of energy

We are hoping to be harvesting some more from our tiny homestead this month! Are you harvesting anything from your garden??

It feels like summer!

This week has really heated up! We have been able to go swimming and be outside all of the time. The plants are really taking their first growth spurt and I am up to 2 okra plants! All the birds are very happy too!

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Quail eggs

We have also been able to harvest a few things:

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My first garlic this year 
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Strawberries and eggs 

And as for the first week of our zero waste summer challenge, altogether we only made a little over 3 ounces of trash between the 3 of us! The chocolate chips have been put into cookies enjoyed by all of us. (That’s why it’s circled!)

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Week 1 of zero waste challenge 

I have also spotted a few beautiful flowers blooming away in the garden and the bees and butterflies seem to like them!

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Beautiful echinacea 

I will get a picture of all the yummy things growing in the garden this week!

May Goals Update 2017!

Do you know what today is?!?! It’s the last day of school here! Therefore, I’m on break! Yippee!! So, I’ll be posting a little more often! But, now onward with the goal update for May:

1. Zero waste our home! We already do a good bit to avoid creating trash, but there is always room for improvement! We are having a family challenge with money prize between the 3 of us! The one that creates the least amount of garbage gets the $! (We are hoping to get the boy on board with eating less packaged food!) There will be lots of cooking and baking in my future!
2. Declutter 20 items per month. Last year I decluttered 2016 items from this house. Nothing out of here this month! We really don’t have anything to get rid of at the moment!

3. Create only 12 bags of garbage per year. Americans are super wasteful. We are going to try to only produce one 13 gallon kitchen trash bag per month! Well, we just threw out the 3rd bag this year.

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It’s June and only 3 bags! 

4. Merge crafting and homestead business. In May we did a craft show out of town in Boonsboro, MD and we did pretty well for a rainy day! We also have hit our 30th sale at our Etsy store!

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Some items we sold! 

5. Create a summer kitchen. We will be turning a spot in the garage into a nice canning area. Just waiting for our favorite electrician to get to it , my Dad. 😊

6. Expand the garden. I just made the expanded area larger with fencing! Darn deer everywhere here! I was also able to get a good bit planted in our regular yard and even made a green bean tee pee for our pole beans!

7. Grow some different plants. Luffa gourds were so fun to grow last year, but something keeps eating the seedlings this year! The cucumelons are in the ground, as well as the popcorn and I’m doing my best to get some okra to germinate! We also have some huge pumpkins that came up on their own from ones the chickens ate last year!

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8. Make a chicken viewing area. In the warm months, I love sitting by the garden and watching the chickens and bees. But, I normally sit on the ground. I’m not sure if, or when we will get this accomplished! But, our hen hatched out one beautiful little chick and the quail laid their first egg!


9. Green up my school. Schools create an absurd amount of trash! My class recycled around 150 pounds of plastic film this year! I also tried to start magazine recycling, but someone kept throwing it all away! Also, my students started saving their single use bowls from breakfast for me to recycle as well as packages from muffins for terracyle!

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These are only from my classroom! 

We also did research, located native plants and planted a pollinator garden at school!

10. Track our solar panels. This month we reached 1.46 MWh! (And it was a gross rainy month!) We also got our bill for May, and it was less than $10! Ahh! That was a nice bill to open!

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11. Continue beekeeping. May was the month of swarms! The hive that we split off of our hive is doing well! (Pic on left) Then we got a call about a smaller swarm here in town, they are doing well now! (Bottom right pic). Next we got a call for a big swarm (middle picture.) We were then called back to the same area we got the last swarm to help get an established hive out of a tree that was being cut down. (Top right photo) So, I guess we are glad that we never got a call about the bees we ordered, but didn’t get!

12. Travel more with the family! We managed to visit so many places last year and have some major traveling ideas for this year! We went with the boy to a nice closer amusement park for his end of year band trip. It was great!
If you set goals, how are yours going?

Garden happenings, beekeeping and lots of work

I’m elated to say that this week is my last week of school and from here on out I will be busy taking on all this homesteading!

I’ll start with my beekeeping fun. All the hives seem to be doing well and are laying lots of eggs. The newest swarm that I got has been really busy laying eggs! Great job on picking that queen!

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You can see the brood! 

When we pulled the hive out of the tree being cut down, we put some frames of their brood in there to help get them started and attached them to the frame with rubber bands. Well, they showed me how much they liked those bands!

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They don’t like the rubber bands

The mister has a friend that has a ton of bamboo growing in their yard. That stuff is so invasive and grows too fast! But, they let us cut some for free to turn into tomato stakes and a green bean teepee!

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Bamboo! 

Around the homestead we have been gathering lots of eggs and some delicious strawberries!

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Homegrown food! 

The mycelium from the winecap mushrooms are really enjoying this wet weather!

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Fabulous fungi!

I was also given a fixer upper kind of project by a friend! Her camera strap was looking sad and needed recovered! So, 30 minutes later, I had removed the old fabric and made it pretty again!

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Pretty again camera strap! 

The solar panels did great last month!! Our bill was for only $8.16 and we even got a credit back for over $80 from previous months!

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Solar is kicking butt!! 

So that’s a quick update here on our tiny plot of land in the middle of a small town!

Mushrooms and gardening

One of the best parts about our quirky (but totally normal to us) way of life around here is everyday is like a life science lesson! Yesterday our wine cap mushroom spawn finally arrived!

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Wine cap spawn! 

So, what is spawn you might ask?! Well that’s exactly what the homestead lesson with the crazy boy was yesterday! It’s wood chips that have been inoculated with spores from the winecap mushroom and allowed to start mycelium growth! In easier terms, it’s like the roots of the mushrooms that your putting in an area to get them to grow there! That’s exciting stuff! Bill Nye would’ve been proud of that lesson!

So we took that spawn outside and broke up pieces and basically made layers of spawn with straw and lots of water. Fungi like things wet and decomposing material. I love teaching that little knucklehead of mine about all things science-like!

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Hoping to eventually get some 🍄!!

Now on to the rest of the garden! It’s been raining, a lot! And seedlings are loving it!

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Baby beet! 
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Potatoes that need me to hill them! 
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The newly planted onions 
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The oldest onions sets planted
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Beautiful garlic
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Salad bed of leaf lettuce, arugula and spinach 
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June bearer strawberries

And I’m pretty excited about our volunteer pumpkins! My friend’s dad gave us the gigantic pumpkins that he grew last year for the chickens. Now there are huge pumpkin seedlings coming up where they ate them!

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Maybe a huge pumpkin this year?!

This weekend I will be crafting like noone’s business, since we have a show next weekend. Hope that you enjoy your weekend!

Pretty busy for February!

This weekend just absolutely flew by! I swear that we had more touches of this and that all weekend. I was summoned to go pick up the old jars of food from my Granny’s to get rid of. Of course I get to keep all of the ball jars. Definite win!

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Nice inheritance of jars!

Since the weather was so beautiful, I knew it was a chance to really clean out the coop. That was a lot of work!

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Clean, clean, clean! 

Then, I finally got around to cleaning out my vermicompost bin. There were lots of worms and also lots of worm castings! My seedlings will enjoy this boost when they get put in the ground!

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Worm castings

I was also able to take a picture of my fence area. It’s where I grew the luffas last year. I’m hoping to expand it out and landscape it in!

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Random planning where I could put plants 

And now where my Sunday disappeared to: spinning honey. Since we lost a hive over the winter, we decided to go ahead and harvest the honey. Thank goodness we have a kid that has a crazy amount of energy. He spun at least 90% of the honey out of the frames! Go boy go!

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Lots of honey! 

Finally, we were forced to take out our first bag of garbage this year. Sherman wasn’t even sure what we were doing. So, that’s bag number 1!

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First bag of garbage

And I had to share this sweet piece of jewelry that was passed down from my Granny. My mom can remember her mom wearing it to church when she was a kid. So, I wore it to church today.

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So vintage that it’s awesome! 

So, here’s to another week! As a teacher I get to enjoy Valentine’s Day with 8 year olds and enjoy receiving some sweet teacher valentines! Enjoy your week!

Urban homestead kinda weekend

It’s hard not living on a big ol’ farm, but living the way we do. We constantly get people saying “but you live in town” or ” well you can’t have (filling the blank with whatever animal) at your house!” Which is totally true! But here’s the kicker, we are doing so much with what we have! Here are a few examples of things we did around here just this weekend!

I gave Izzy dog a nice solar powered fur cut! It was so sunny, so her clippers were being powered by the sun!

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Beautiful girl! 

While gathering eggs I found our first Easter egger egg in the coop! She takes most of the winter off from egg laying!

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Welcome back so egg laying! 

Next I threw some banana peels into the worm bin in the basement and realized I need to clean out the worm castings. Their 💩 is great plant food!

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Garden gold! 

It has rained a lot here this winter, instead of snowing. So, the area around the coop was super muddy and gross. I got to haul more and more buckets of wood chips to their area. It looks so much better!

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All cleaned up! 

At work Friday, these apples were being given away because they had some bad spots.

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Beat up apples

At first, I was going to just chuck them in to the chickens. Instead, the chickens just got the bad spots and I made some yummy apple muffins! Zero waste breakfast tomorrow!

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Apple muffins! 

Last night I realized I needed to make up some yogurt for lunches this week. I used 2% milk and it came out a little more runny, so I had to strain off the whey to thicken it up. It’s delicious!

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More homemade yogurt

And between all that I was able to craft up a ton of items! I got an order for 60 white beaded bracelets! I’m half way there already!

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Loads of craftiness! 

And of course I played some uno with the boy, visited family and even got to see my beautiful little niece smiling so big. Made my ❤️ so happy! And of course this makes me smile as well:

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Sherman! Our crazy boy! 

Seriously, whose dog sits like that? Our crazy pup!

This month has flown bye and I can’t wait to update you all on our progress around the homestead! Have a great week!