Kindness is essential in our daily lives.
I will share weekly a new post with a message of how powerful kindness really can be.

Home is in my Heart

I began homesteading almost 20 years ago before it became so popular; it wasn't because of necessity but an effort to create a lifestyle that promoted greater self sufficiency. It's a special feeling knowing that the nutritious food I'm serving materialized from the efforts of good old fashioned gardening in my own backyard. Not every year was the garden bountiful. Many a visit to a small farm stand or farmers' market brought many a bushel of fresh harvest to my doorsteps for canning, freezing, drying, etc. 

It's not to say that homesteading is a simple or easy way of life. You either love it or hate it. Because I love everything involved in my own particular style of homesteading I feel like I'm always on vacation while never leaving the comforts of my home. Living rural has benefits of it's own - privacy, fresher air, bluer skies, greener grass (I guess I'm getting carried away). Sparse neighbors means we don't have to keep up with the Jones and the Jones are not eyeballing everything we do. We don't have to keep such a tidy yard if you know what I mean.

This vintage needle point is of an
Amish proverb that hangs on the
wall outside my pantry door.
 I can't remember when I wasn't canning tomatoes or freezing corn. These were the first two crop items that I began preserving. Terrific pasta sauce and old-fashioned corn chowder have been with us for years.  Additional canning followed for string beans and carrots followed by pickling beets and freezing beets. Canned applesauce and peaches came in at some point for a short while interspersed with frozen beet greens and swiss chard. Also usually on hand is homemade green tomato relish. Onions are harvested and stored in my old pantie hose and potatoes are dug and stored in open slat wooden crates in our cold storage room with shelves aplenty to store the canned goods. Sounds good but none of this happens without good old-fashioned hard work. I call it a labor of love.

Jelly warrants it's own recognition. Terrific rhubarb jam is made from the pickings of our own patch which has been going strong for almost 20 years now. Grape jelly is made from the fresh squeezed grapes grown in my parents backyard (dad's favorite).  Black raspberries picked at a fruit orchard round out the winter supply of jellies and jam.

For several years we raised piglets from spring to fall to fill the freezer with butchered pork through the winter. That phase has since passed and we now support six New Hampshire Red chickens who have steadily supplied us with 5-6 eggs a day since we adopted them last fall. (I make a mean Chinese egg drop soup.) Two dogs and one cat round out the menagerie.

Heating our home with wood as our primary heat source is a story all by itself. We actually order the logs delivered to our home where the man of the house takes responsibility for getting it cut, split and stacked. There usually are two piles of logs; one stack already seasoned and being cut and split and the other stack sits through the winter getting seasoned for the next year at which time we start all over again. A great wood splitter and big wagon make the job a little easier, the rewards of which cuts back on our winter utility bill and the can't-beat very-warm heat ain't hard to take either!

I've ordered by mail and received the seeds I'll be planting in my summer garden this year and am still awaiting my onion and potato sets. For the first time I'll be experimenting with planting some of the seeds indoors for transplanting at the end of May.

 I'm also exploring, as I speak, new ways to make my own household cleaning products.

Snow, snow go away. Let me plant my garden. Let me hang freshly washed laundry out to dry on a sunny day. Let my chickens run free. Let me have one cold beer on a real hot day. Let me enjoy a barbecue. Let me pick a sweet-smelling rose. Oh snow, snow please go away!

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