BETTER LATE THEN NEVER

August 12, 2012

Well we finally installed a ceiling fan in the mud room. Kind of late but there are still plenty of hot days left in the summer for it to cool down the room. Our mud room doubles as an extra room for family and guests.

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Another project off of the list but I’m still behind on getting things done.


SUGAR SHACK

August 10, 2012

We have been slowly making progress on our Sugar Shack. If all goes well we hope to have the ends closed up in the next 2 weeks. Sometime in September we are expecting the delivery of the evaporator system and that installation will begin.

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Syrup season is just around the corner. We still have many more Maple trees to connect up this year, if all goes well we hope to add another 100 taps. Bring on Winter.


NO ELECTRICITY, NO PHONE

July 2, 2012

Monday

Linda

The news has been full of reports about the derecho storms that blew across the country this weekend. These storms blow in like mini hurricanes with much less warning.

Sonny and I and my cousin John were just leaving an auction when the storm hit. High winds between 60 and 80 mph blew up dust devils and ripped branches from the trees throwing them across the roads like discarded trash. Three times we had to turn around because of fallen trees across the road ways, forcing us to find alternate routes to get home. Electricity, phone and internet were all down.

Crews quickly cleared the roads of fallen trees. The phone lines are still unreliable and it could be days before the power lines are repaired. At least the internet was back on line within a few hours and we were able to contact family.

These storms should be a wake up call for people to be prepared. Our house is prepared, but we were not prepared in our car if we were unable to get home. We should have at least had a flashlight, crackers or snacks, water, and blanket. What if we had had to walk miles to get home?

It surprised me how unprepared people have been, especially here where it is not uncommon for power to be out. Winter and summer storms reek havoc with the power lines.

The day after the storm, my cousin went into town. People were in a panic and he heard comments of how they had no way to cook, no gas in their cars and didn’t know what to do. With the power outage gas stations could not pump gas, stores were unable to sell goods because some of them had no back up generators. What would you do if FEMA was unable to come help you? I know there are catastrophes where no amount of prep will help and I understand that, but I don’t understand how people can be completely caught off guard when they know serious thunderstorms are on their way.

Number one, have a generator and extra gas if you can. I know a generator is an expensive item but it could be a life saver for your family.

Have some food in your pantry that requires no cooking. Spam, sardines, canned fruit, baked beans, crackers, peanut butter. If you know a serious storm is on its way and may knock out power, boil some eggs, fill your sinks and tub with water, ( my mom taught me this and she still does it to this day). Fill up water jugs.

Never let your gas tank get below a half of tank of gas and always have some cash on hand. When power is out so are the ATMs and most banks. A little prep is better than no prep. Think long term. What would you do if power was out for weeks instead of days. What would you do if all communication systems were down? These are all possibilities and there may not be anyone there to help you.

Be ready to help others or even help get them prepared such as an elderly neighbor. Usually power outages are just an inconvenience for a few days, what happens when its long term? Think about it. Don’t be left out in the cold or heat because you didn’t at least prepare a little. Don’t be the person scrambling to get a few gallons of gas before the gas station runs out, which is what happened here in town. Don’t wrestle someone in the Walmart aisle over the last gallon of bottled water.

There will be more bad storms this summer, and trust me our car will be better prepared. You just never know when a catastrophe could hit. Are you ready?


FIRST HONEY

June 11, 2012

Sunday

Linda

My sister Janice and her husband Rick came for a visit this weekend and we all had a wonderful time. Once again its hay season, so Sonny and Rick helped John put up bales of hay. Its a busy time here in the country and its about to ratchet up another notch as soon as the garden is ready to harvest. There are already wild black raspberries coming into season and that means its time to pull out the jelly jars, lids and bands. The buckets are sitting on standby and Janice and I have already picked a few ripe juicy ones that sweetened our taste buds.

Sonny recruited Janice as his bee keeper assistant. Suited up in bee gear she smoked the bees while he checked for honey. The wooden frames covered in wax were full and ready to be harvested. Liquid gold filled each pocket of honey comb.

Sonny scraped the frames then we squeezed out the honey through a sieve and then filtered out any remaining debris.

Scraping off the honey.

We harvested a little over two quarts. The bees have been busy collecting pollen from the clover and wildflowers that grow in abundance here at the farm. Our honey has all the sweet flavors of these fragrant wild flowers and is a light golden hue.

This is a small batch and most of our honey will be distributed to family members but we may be able to keep aside a few ounces if anyone is interested in purchasing a sample. You can leave a comment or email.

Our plan is to order some more bees and start another hive. Hopefully we will have plenty of honey next year.

 


EVERYDAY IS SATURDAY

June 5, 2012

Tuesday

Linda

Working the good earth.

A few months ago, while at the still ripe old age of fifty-one, Sonny decided that it was time to retire from the outside work force and become a full time farmer. We had been planning for this event for a few years by gradually paying off all our bills. My father’s advice to us has always been to make sure that we were debt free before retirement. That is exactly what he did when he retired at the age of fifty-six back in nineteen-seventy-nine and it has been good advice.

When we told people what our plan was we had a mix of opinions, everything from “Are you sure you want to retire? What are you going to do all day? Your too young to retire and your gonna miss those big paychecks your getting.” Others had a more positive view of our plan and gave us full support. There were a few that wished they could do the same thing.

I have asked him if he misses his job. He replies with an emphatic “NOPE!” Are we sitting around eating bonbons and watching TV? NOPE. We are always busy and on the move.

Every season on the farm will have its busy times. Spring is planting and maintaining the garden, late summer is canning and preserving, autumn is winter preps and firewood cutting and late winter is maple season. We also have the care of critters and beekeeping. We still hope to have a few goats by next spring, which brings us to putting up fences.

There are always projects, something to be built, something to be extended, something to be repaired. We eat when we want to, take a coffee break when we want to and sleep when we want to.

Life is so very short. Time speeds by us leaving memories in its wake and we wonder where it all went. Sonny could have kept working. We could have had a bigger house, more money in the bank and more stuff. He could still be traveling the world with stress as his constant companion. But when is enough…enough? Were we a little scared to take the plunge? Yes, but we found that the leap was not as high because we were prepared.

We now live on a tight budget, but lack nothing. We awaken to the morning songs of birds instead of a blaring alarm clock ( unless we are going to the flea market on Saturday morning and have to get up at five o’clock).

The point is, we wanted to be able to provide for ourselves and enjoy life’s simple gifts before one of us became ill or too old. That is our dream and God willing we will have many years to come. Others may want to travel like my parents did or pursue their artistic skills. Its up to you. Sometimes you have to take stock of what is truly important. Everyones circumstances are different, and if you have to keep working the nine to five at least stop and smell the roses or whatever your favorite past time might be.

In the words of Sonny, “Everyday is Saturday.” Pursue you dreams while you can.


TURN DOWN THE HEAT!

May 29, 2012

Monday

Linda

Memorial Day weekend is usually wet, chilly, and in our neck of the woods can on a rare occasion include a frost. Not this weekend. HOT and HUMID are the buzz words to describe it this year, but despite the hotter then the hinges of hell heat we had a great time.

Harold and Clarissa and Duke came over for a long weekend. The moment Duke got out of the car he didn’t run to hug Pop and Mimzy, he made a bee line straight for the tractor. We see now what is important to that little guy.

Sonny bought an umbrella to shade the porch table. What a difference it makes. Now we can eat outside even when the sun is bearing down on the porch. What is summer without BBQ’s and this weekend we cooked everything outside including the pancakes we had for breakfast drizzled with our own home grown maple syrup.

Keeping cool.

Garden work was tackled in the cooler hours of the morning and evening. The four of us were able to get the garden in shape very quickly. The potatoes needed to be hilled again and with the help of Harold and Clarissa we had it finished in no time. Duke kept cool splashing in the garden hose water of his blow up pool. We sweated buckets while gardening and drank water from a jug.

The corn is popping up in rows, the cantaloupe, squashes, cucumber and pumpkins are sprouting atop hills and the limas and pole beans are learning to climb. The garden is becoming lush with young growth and in return for the concoction of sweat, blisters, sunburns and soar muscles that nurture it, it will feed and sustain us throughout the coming year.

The princess piggies are faring well in this heatwave. Sonny fashioned a mud bath in the corner of their pen and the new spa accommodations appeared to meet their royal high standards.

Its siesta time in the afternoon. The whole farm seems to shut down, including the chickens and guineas who rest in the shade of the PV array sipping from the water cooler stationed there.

It may have been hot, a little uncomfortable from the humidity, but we still managed to have a good time. We are always grateful to be able to spend time with the family. Who knows where the military may send them next. Got to take advantage of the time we can spend together now. Hope you all had a great weekend and lets not forget to remember our military men and women who have served, also those who are now separated from their families. Life is GOOD.


FROM THE GARDEN

May 23, 2012

Wednesday

Linda

I have been waiting all winter to be able to pull fresh salad greens from the garden. This year we planted black seeded lettuce and romain. Yum. The temps are supposed to get in the upper nineties this weekend and that is not good for the lettuce. Hopefully it will not bolt.

We have strawberries on the vine too. We planted the quinault strawberry plants last year and it looks like we will have a good harvest of them this year. These berries are not as big or as firm as the ones you buy in the grocery store but they are very sweet. I made a pound cake today and a topping of strawberries will be our desert.

Sweet garden pickings to you all!


POTTING PLANTS

May 20, 2012

Sunday

Linda

Potting flowers.

Its time to splash some color around PHF. Although our thumbs are a pale  green when it comes to the garden we are able to grow enough veggies to feed us, but when it comes to flower beds our thumbs become the grim reaper. We tend to grow more weeds and grass than flowers, so we resort to containing them in pots  in order to create some colorful bling around the farm.

Rarely is it a true representation when viewing a picture of someone potting flowers on a blog, magazine or TV. Its perfectly staged with gardening gloves,  hand tools, pretty pots, and flowers laid out on a rustic table in a perfectly implemented potting shed.

We live in reality on this farm ( Would I like a potting shed? Heck yea). We use whats available. Flowers are potted on the porch table, and Martha Stewart would pull out her hair watching my methods. Its not neat, its not pretty, or methodical. Its messy, I don’t wear gardening gloves, and since I misplaced my tools (only God knows where) I use a spoon and measuring cup from the kitchen. But the finished product is what counts. Vibrant blooms that cheer up a bland porch, brighten a garden bench and best of all, feed the honey bees and entice the butterflies to visit.

You know, come to think of it, even if I had a potting shed, I still wouldn’t wear gardening gloves, but I might be able to keep track of my tools.


A BLOG READER COMES TO VISIT PHF

May 17, 2012

Thursday

Linda

We had a wonderful visit today with one of our readers, Luann Barbagallo, who stopped by to pick up two pints of syrup and to see just what PHF was all about.

Luann and her family are starting their own homestead in a nearby county. I’m not sure what pearls of wisdom we had to offer as Luann has twenty years of gardening, canning and raising milk goats under her belt. That experience will go a long way in starting a homestead. I hope to keep in touch Luann, you never know, we may need some milk goat advice when we finally get to that stage.

We showed her how the off grid system worked and then took a tour of the farm, stopping by to see the princess piggies. The girls were on their best behavior and allowed Luann to view the pig palace set up. She was interested to see what methods we use to raise our pigs since she and her husband will be purchasing their own feeder pigs in just a few days.

We showed her the smoke house where we smoked eight hams last fall, because if your going to raise pigs you have to have a smoke house. She whole heartedly agreed.

In the past few years we have come to know several homesteading families and one of the nice things about it is that we all share ideas. Everyone has abilities that can help another. We are all folks who choose to live a simpler lifestyle, who choose to leave the whirlwind world of consumerism and depend on our own ingenuity to provide for ourselves.

It was a great experience to meet someone from our blog family of readers. Luann, thank you so much for stopping by, we thoroughly enjoyed your visit. Wish you lived a little bit closer. You and your husband are always welcome.


Solar Cooked Dinner

May 16, 2012

Sonny
Wednesday

Great day to use the Solar Cooker.

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