Wednesday, August 14, 2013


It's incredibly hot out.  And humid.  It's rarely humid in the north, but this year we're into our fourth week of heat and humidity.

The garden is spotty and disappointing.  Given the heat it should be growing like crazy.  The greenhouses are doing well, but outside is slow growing.  The weeds of course, are growing like crazy.  We pull them for the birds every day- a fresh layer of weeds to cover the floor of the turkey shack every night.

We continue foraging for weeds and fiddleheads.  It's too hot for puffballs now.  I start a batch of dandelion wine.  I skimp on the sugar, so it won't be very strong.  Rhubarb is up, although not much appreciated without flour and a ton of sugar.  The boys much on an occasional stick.  I start a batch of rhubarb and dandelion wine.  I make a small batch of dandelion syrop, blending it with the birch syrop for sugar.

We dig dandelion roots and dry them for coffee.  Husband appreciates them more now, much stronger than my other tea weeds alone.  He even digs some himself when he's out and about.  We try to dig for roots farther away from the house, keeping the dandelions in the yard for greens.

We're cooking outside on the fire pit now.  We don't have to cut the branches as small, and are able to use a lot of twigs as well.  Cooking doesn't entail much.  We planted the remaining potatoes, carrots and beets for seed.  Meals are just a jar of canned meat and whatever weeds we foraged that day, mostly dandelion, occasionally lambs quarters.  We're all in the habit now of munching as we go as well, eating dandelions as we pick, and chewing on grass and clover.

The perennial bed comes to life, and I start cutting and drying chives, and some flowers and plants for medicine and tea.  I wonder if I can make tinctures with wine.  I make plantain/comfrey salves with tallow.  I plant calendula, bedstraw, bergamot, cicely and some other herbs.  I gather stinging nettle and make vegetable rennet.

We rotate the cows through the pasture every three days.  It's not enough to allow each section proper rest, but it helps.  The horses spend so little time in the pasture that we just leave them up at the barn.  They're usually in the side yard, or the garden yard, or at someone else's house.  They graze as they go.  The goats roam around loose, as always.  We never could keep them fenced in.  They never wander far though.

Sanya's horses were out behind the pasture one morning.  Brother and Sil chased them off.

We work on fencing the edge of our property, down the side of the logging trail to the creek.  Hopefully that will keep the horses out, and eventually we'll let the cows out to graze.  We cut thin poles and nail them to the trees, a crooked little fence.  We keep the tree tops and branches for firewood.  The Littles saw through the branches with the hand saw.  The basement fills slowly.

Brother and Sil take down their add a room tent and frame it in with logs.  They frame all the way around the trailer, putting the roof up over both.  They cut logs for the sides and chink it in with clay.  Poles for the roof are covered with the vinyl tent.  They soon have a solid little cabin with the drafts all sealed.  They build a bigger chicken coop beside the cabin, with a trap door/window between them.  They can heat the chicken coop with the woodstove next winter.

They fence in their growing yard and garden.  They need to protect their garden from their free ranging chickens, and the cows that will be grazing through soon.

Mom's roof leaked last winter, so we all work together to build her add a room and put a new roof on over the trailer.  She has enough lumber to frame in the walls, and press board to cover them.  The roof is covered with poles, then tin.  There's only enough tin to cover half of it.  We have to scrounge for more materials elsewhere.

We nearly fill Mom's woodshed with the tree tops and branches we cut for the roof.  We move the woodstove into the add a room.  We frame in the windows and build an archway in the trailer wall where the windows used to be.  It needs insulation and interior walls, but it'll give Mom more space and hopefully keep the roof dryer.

The first two banties to go broody both hatch their chicks, 18 little fluffballs between them.  We move them from the brooder boxes to the floor in one of the pens.  We pick weeds for them every day for two weeks, then let them out to free range.

Week after week, the other banties hatch their chicks, and we move them first to the floor, and then outside.  One of the missing hens from outside returns with a clutch of chicks as well.  Two are still missing.

Husband takes ten chicks to the farmer who gave us the calf.  He finds out the farmer couldn't drive his cows to Diego's.  They all scattered through the bush.  Most came home within a few days, but there are still a few loose.  He also caught a couple of horses that were roaming free.

We shoot a fox going after the chickens one afternoon.  I cut the meat into small pieces and put them into five gallon pails with holes in the bottom.  I hang the buckets from the fence surrounding the turkey pen.  The flies lay their eggs on the meat, then the maggots hatch and fall to the ground, providing the birds with a tasty treat.

Husband takes more parts off the tractor and delivers them to the fellow who builds cutters.  He stops and chats with the new neighbours on the way home.  Their names are Mel and Arlene, and the kids are Tommy and Ben.  They've built a small lean-to, set up a tent, put in a large garden, and have fenced off the area.  They've caught one of Sanya's horses that were in the garden before they fenced it.  They considered butchering it, but for now have it tied to a tree.  Husband offers them a dozen chicks if they'll continue working on the fenceline down that side of the property to the creek.

Lisa and Sally fence in their garden and a new chicken pen.  They dry and store weeds and grass for their chickens next winter.

Once all of the banties are out of the chicken coop, we clean it out and start drying and storing weeds and grass as well.  We clean out the hay lean to for grass storage.  We clean out the loft in the barn.

We accomplish much in the longer days, without screens and such to occupy our time.


  1. I can't imagine the work and planning it takes for all your doing. Feeding yourselves now and for the upcoming winter. It's sounds like all of your time has a purpose & even the "down" time has productivity for the future.

    1. I've been a SAHM for the last 15 years. My primary 'job' has been to feed my family. Every year the garden got bigger, the jar collection grew canning more involved. Then the butchering, and now wine. Husband's earns enough to pay the bills, but if I didn't feed my family from home I'd have to get a real job to contribute, lol.

      Most of the stuff in the story is not new to us, although some is more concentrated than real life. We've been fencing ALL SUMMER LONG... and still haven't got things anywhere near to where I want them, or have them in the story. However, in real life, #2 was at camp for 6 weeks, and Husband is at work usually six days a week, so it's mostly me, #1 and the Littles that have been working on it. I look at what we have accomplished and think, if Husband and #2 were home, we could have finished the pasture months ago. Then in the story, I also have brother, Sil, nieces, Lisa, and now the new neighbours... You know the expression, many hands make light work. One of the advantages of large families of yesteryear. So yeah, it sounds like a lot, but other than adjusting to hand tools, it's not work that we are unaccustomed to, and as I mentioned, we're no longer distracted by screens. We all have a bit of an addiction here, and it's really scary how many hours we waste each day between the computer, tv, and 'smart' phones.