The Newbie Homesteader

I’m thankful I’ve mastered the art of milking goats so that’s one less thing I have to learn.  I love learning new things, but there’s something about springtime on a farm that makes me feel like there’s just not enough time for everything.  It’s the season of “hurry up” before the “wait”.  Not that there’s a whole lot of waiting on a farm, with so much work to be done all the time.  But this weather has me feeling the urge to get the garden tilled and fenced (from the deer), the greenhouses ordered and up, and the seedlings started.

I love it all.  But I am new.  And sometimes my love for it (and my sense of urgency) gets ahead of my knowledge.

  • What to plant: What do I know how to grow and what do I have room for?
  • How much to plant: How much to do we need and what will space and time allow?
  • How much to plant: Should we plan on extra?  I’ve only canned salsa and apple sauce!
  • How to plant: What soil, temp, water, and room does each plant need to grow properly?

My homesteading adventure thus far has pretty much been built on crash courses.  I think it’s fun!  My husband has a very good full-time job, so our lives don’t depend on our crash-course farming (Praise the Lord).  However, we are in this for the real deal–to save money, to pay off our home, and to live off our own land one day.

I’m pretty sure I’ve overplanted cabbage.  I have a whole flat planted… by the way, that’s 20 sixpacks with 2-3 seeds each (just in case).  That’s 120 if only one seed grows per slot.  Hey, half of those are late bloomers!  But that is still 60… do I even have room for 60 cabbage plants?  That would be a lot of sauerkraut and kim chi–which would be amazing!  But realistically… I don’t know what is realistic.  I haven’t done this long enough, and we haven’t had enough cabbage in the past to be blessed with winter storage.

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Baby Steps of The Newbie Homesteader: on Farming

  • Go ahead and plant it and don’t fret over it.  If you throw out some seedlings this season, oh well.  It’s not a waste because all learning has a cost involved.
  • Ask if anyone would be willing to buy extra seedlings that come up.
  • Don’t bury yourself in books and study while spring passes you by.  Read what you need to do, but don’t get mad at yourself for not meeting every criteria perfectly.
  • Grow fewer things better.

Learning Is Not A Waste

When my daughter was 13 months old and we discovered we were expecting again, my breastmilk was seriously drying up.  We were spending $100 per month shipping raw milk to our door because the sale of it in-store or on the farm is illegal in our area.  I mentioned to a friend that I was considering getting a goat, and within minutes she had found a craigslist ad and I was on the phone setting up a time to meet some doelings just five minutes from home.

Crash course.

We brought home our doelings, and while we nurtured them into adulthood, the previous owner offered to pass on her goat-keeping knowledge to us.  The very first time my husband ever milked a goat was when our new friend needed to go away for a week and asked us to do the milking for her.  My husband’s lesson was a one-time shot and then he was on his own for the rest of the week!  No room for fear or giving up here!  That’s the beauty of crash courses, they teach you to keep going on ahead and not turn back.  Isn’t that the character of farming, after all?

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk

Or unused seedlings, or rotten tomatoes, or bug-eaten cabbage.

When the goat would put her foot in the bucket and taint the whole gallon, or catch the edge of the bucket and tip it all over the floor, our friend used to say “don’t cry over spilled milk.  I figure, it just goes back into the ground to nourish the soil for my garden and the grass that grows to feed them anyway.  It’s never a waste.”

I tell you, we have spilled a lot of milk in our dairy-goat days, but we have saved and drank a lot more!

May this be the same at harvest time 2014.

Happy planting!

~Melissa

Sharing At:  Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Raising Mighty Arrows

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Story Time Favorites: Great Books for Little Listeners

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We are very enthusiastic about books and reading in our home, and we don’t read just any book that comes along.

I’ve always read aloud to my children from infancy, never assuming they don’t know what I’m saying just because there are words they don’t say or that we don’t use commonly or that I haven’t specifically defined for them.  Children (and all people) pretty easily pick up the general meaning of new words just by the context surrounding them.  In fact, it’s the best way to introduce new words, because it becomes familiar and normal rather than isolated.

Children also pick up the story you are reading, and this is why I choose books with historical, moral, or innocence value.  Some books are just innocently fun, like just about any book by Arnold Lobel. Others are historically fascinating, like the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  And of course all books are written with some worldview or another in mind, and I need to choose those which fit into our worldview to pass on to my future generations.

There are some great books to be found, as well as not so great books.  There is a lot of, well, “twaddle”, as Charlotte Mason would call it.  I think the way the word sounds pretty much sums up what it means.  Useless, amusing filler.  Therefore, I really appreciate when others put together lists of books they have personally enjoyed.  I really want to give you a list (in no particular order) of just a few books on our shelves that have been favorites at story-time.

I advocate staying within your budget!  Many of these books may be found at your local library, used bookstore, or thrift stores.  Just look around.  Your library may have an online database you can search from home.

My children are currently ages 5, 3 and 9 months.  These are the books they enjoy:

Charlotte’s Web

I spotted this book at a garage sale–in with the dozens of other books destined for the trash heap.  I’ve always heard Charlotte’s Web referred to as a classic but had never turned the pages myself or even known what the story was about–until now.  Last fall I read this book aloud to my children (then 4 and 2), and we all thoroughly enjoyed it!  My children have no problem sitting quietly through the reading of this book and are actually the ones who will set it in my lap, eager to listen.  This is a fairly long chapter book with few, albeit delightful, illustrations.

The Bears On Hemlock Mountain

I got this book from the library and was planning on it lasting a while as it is another chapter book.  However, my son (3) really, really wanted to get to the part where it talks about the bears (he looked ahead at the pictures), which isn’t until the end.  So, we all sat down and went through the book… it took half an hour.  Yes, they sat through it, and they loved it, and they wanted to do it again…

Stone Soup

This book is one of my all-time favorites.  Just read it, and you’ll know why.  It is a fun, lighthearted story we all enjoy.  Our children get a kick out of it, and my husband and I laugh to ourselves every time.  Read about how these pigs turn hearts of stone soft again with Stone Soup.

Owl At Home

My parents read this book to me when I was a little girl, and I loved it then!  Though this book comes in a paperback, I highly recommend investing in the library binding.  The paperback I purchased for our family has been loved to pieces.  When my daughter was a little over one year old, my husband and I had read this to her so many times that when she requested it while laying her in the crib at night, we could recite it to her from memory.  Owl At Home is my children’s number one story-time favorite (four years running).

Mike Mulligan and More: Four Classic Stories by Virginia Lee Burton


Two years ago, we first borrowed from the library and read The Little House (not to be confused with the “Little House” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder).  The book was so delightful, I was eager to see if the author had written any other stories and found this collection on Amazon.  My son brings this book to me almost every story time.  His requests go back and forth between Katy and Mike Mulligan, and when it’s not one of those, it is…

Choo Choo by Virginia Lee Burton

If you and your children ever visit the Sacramento Train Museum (or any other cool train museums), then I recommend having this cute book about a “naughty runaway engine” waiting at home for your little ones.

The Christian Mother Goose Big Book

We received this hand-me-down from some new friends at our church, and it is so cool!  I’m not a fan of Mother Goose, I’ll tell you that right now; but a Christian version?  This is very well done.  Done well enough to turn a book (Mother Goose) I won’t let into my house into a family favorite.

Last for this list, a bedtime favorite board book with beautiful illustrations..

When Will It Be Spring?

I have the board book because that is what I found at the thrift store, and I really like how well it holds up, but it also comes in paperback and hardcover.

Happy reading!

Blessings ~

Melissa

Sharing At:
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How to Build a Strong Christian Home – ebook – get a FREE copy this hour!

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I will just come out and make it plain:  I am posting about this e-book because I will get a free copy if I do so.  You can see the details on A Wise Woman Builds Her Home and maybe even get a facebook post, tweet, pinterest thingy, or blogpost posted in time to get a free copy for yourself too! 

mombutton1I have not read the e-book, so I cannot recommend it with that much knowledge.  However, I have been a long-time visitor of the author’s blog and have found numerous articles and resources valuable and beneficial.

It is my daily prayer to grow into the Proverbs 14:1 woman who builds her house.  And as this is the focus of Mrs. Fuentes’ blog, I am very interested to see what wisdom she has to share in her new ebook How to Build a Strong Christian Home.

Have you read the book?  I would love to hear your comments and reviews!