Tuesday, January 23, 2018

To Blog or Not To Blog,,,

In January of last year I sat down and wrote a post from the RV I was living in at the time. I thought then that I really wanted to get back to blogging more often if only to chronicle the ins and outs of starting a homestead from the ground up for my own record, so much for that plan. Here it is one year later and I am back to try yet again. If nothing else along with all of the successes we have had I will always be honest about the struggles we have experienced making this new life work.

One of the reasons I find it difficult to post is that I live in an area where there is only satellite Internet service and the connections are incredibly slow and spotty. While I would not change a thing I am where I am supposed to be I mentions all of these little drawbacks as a caution to those who are looking for their perfect homestead sites. I  have a contract with my current provider that I do not want to pay to break so I will stick it out, but in about six months I will be able to switch to another server who now is offering a much faster connection via satellite. I do not know if it's okay to post the names of the companies so I won't but if anyone is curious drop me an email.

On a more positive note, as of October 2017 we finally have a home on our property! After a lot of research and contemplation we agreed to put a new single wide mobile home on the land instead of building a house. While financially it may not be the better investment, for our convenience and peace of mind it was the most practical choice and I could not be happier or more comfortable than I am in my new home. My husband and I are both 54 and felt that at our age we just wanted to get to the business of homesteading on our land, raising our critters, growing our garden and so we celebrated our first Christmas in our new home and it was wonderful.

Sunday, January 22, 2017


The homestead dreamer should really think long and hard before choosing between buying
raw land and an established place with electricity, water, living structures, fencing and outbuildings.
I bought this property before I met and married my husband Tommy, and had developed a huge emotional connection to the dream of living here, when he told me he was willing to  relocate from Florida to New Mexico and help me make my dream come true, I was over the moon.

However, hindsight being 20/20, if I had to do it all over again, knowing what I know now, I must admit that I might reconsider buying a completely undeveloped piece of land and opt for an older already established homestead. Don't get me wrong, I am in love with this place and the challenges have been quite the adventure but  this journey can certainly test the bond between husband and wife. I don't think it is fair to paint a picture of roses and sunshine when the reality is that its not an easy life, I have seen too many homesteaders that I have admired not withstand the stress of the day in and day out workload and the heartbreaks associated with the inevitable failures that occur on homesteads, farms and ranches every day.

The challenges you face building from the ground up are many. Number one, it takes money, even when you think you have estimated every penny you will need, prepare for emergencies. Equipment breakdowns, vet bills, and the costs associated with keeping warm in the winter and cool in the summer will always be more than you can anticipate.

Working off of the homestead is another challenge, if my husband were not retired and able to be here full time it would be twice as hard for us to keep things running smoothly. If you do need to work off of the homestead traveling distance and weather can present another big challenge. I drive an hour to work daily. Because our property is off of a dirt road, snow and rain make it necessary to have a 4 wheel drive vehicle and even with a jeep there are days when I am not sure I will make it out, and on that note forget about ever having a clean vehicle again.

Having a way to get water is another huge challenge that cannot be underestimated and is a topic I will address more completely in a separate post.

What to live in is probably one of the biggest considerations, one that we have not quite figured out yet. If you have some construction/building savvy you will be way ahead of the game. Unfortunately, that is not a talent the either my husband or myself possess so we will have to decide to pay a builder to build a home or go with a mobile home, a choice that we can't seem to be able make, not to mention one that we feel financially prepared for. So, for now we are trailersteading, term I first heard in the book by Anna Hess "Trailersteading", which was a pretty inspiring read.

Living in a travel trailer poses its own set of challenges that I will talk about in another post but with used travel trailers available in all cost ranges they do provide a way to get to the business of living on the land,a choice that I would definitely make again.
 This is the Keytone Everest that my husband and I are currently living in.
This is the Holiday Rambler that my 25 year old son is living in.

The straw bales are our attempt at winterizing, we had the pipes freeze on both trailers right around New Years day and they stayed frozen for about 2 days. The straw bales seem to be keeping that from happening again. I will share more about this form of tiny home living in another post.

Friday, January 20, 2017

On the Grid

I want to write about some of the big projects we have completed here on the homestead for two reasons, first to simply remember this process and second to give others who are out there homestead dreaming an idea of what one can expect if they decide to start literally from the ground up.

One of the first things we did to make this land comfortable to live on was to get electricity to the place. While the idea of being off grid is really appealing and I so admire those who can make it work, it was not a reasonable plan for us right now. I work full time and am often up and on the road well before dawn and I know that I would have a really hard time trying to live without electricity. I would love to see us add solar panels and other off grid means of heating and cooking but not at the expense of my sanity.

We were incredibly lucky that the local power company had already run power lines along the outer edge of our property, this saved us a ton of money.  The first thing we had to do is have a local electrician come in and put in a drop pole and the panel boxes that hold the breakers. After that we then had the local electrical company come out and run a line from the main power lines to the drop pole. Next, we had to have the State inspector come and give his blessing to the set up. After it passed inspection we were able to have the electrician come back and run the lines to our storage sheds, and install two fifty amp outlets to the two travel trailers we have brought up to the property to live in. We spent roughly around $7.000 for the whole electrical set up. As we add other dwellings, water pumps etc. we will pay the electrician for those upgrades as we go.

I wanted desperately to be on the property and had I not been fortunate enough to have the money to get the electricity installed I would have been looking at the best generator I could get to power the self contained trailers. With horses and other animals on the property keeping everyone in water would have been a much greater challenge. Speaking of water, did I mention that we have to haul water? Yes we do, and that is a post for another day.

New Life...New Blog

The last time I posted was in April, 2014. I can't believe that almost 3 years have passed since that post. By the way four of the chicks pictured in that post are still alive and clucking away in Florida. As for me, life happened, I moved 2000 miles across the country and the blog fell by the wayside, but it was always something I wanted to get back to someday. Blogging for me was alway such a great creative outlet and allowed me to connect to so many amazing people all over the world, I am really excited that the cold days of my first real winter here on the new homestead will allow me some time to sit and start again.

So much has changed in my life since that last post I am not sure where to begin. I have realized one of my greatest dreams and finally moved to New Mexico onto a bautiful 30 acre piece of land at the base of the Manzano mountains. This place is truly my forever home and I am grateful every day for the peace and tranquility of this land. That being said, now the real work has begun, and as anyone who ever started a homestead from a raw parcel of land knows it is a labor of love. Since I am still working full time as a nurse and Hubby Honey Do has retired, a great deal of the blood sweat and tears that keep this place moving forward are his so I felt it fitting to rename the blog but have not yet come up with a name that fits. I'll have to mull it over a while.

I look forward to checking in with the bloggers that I used to visit often, and that some of my followers are still out there and stop by to say hello. I look forward to seeing what you have been up to over the last 3 years and look forward to sharing this new life of mine with you.

This picture is from my front window Christmas Day 2016.

I hope other new homesteaders can be encouraged from the progress we make as we build this new high desert homestead from the ground up.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Chicks in the Living Room

Experienced homesteaders, hobby farmers and country folks in general would not think twice about buying a batch of chicks at the Local Rural King and raising them up for eggs. But a lot of my friends who were raised as city dwellers like I was might think that sounds a bit daunting.
Honestly, when they say chickens are the gate way drug to homesteading it is surely the truth, chicken are amazing creatures, and they spread an infectious form of happiness as they go about their daily business.
With a little reading and research anyone can raise chickens in a very small space. I currently live a suburban area and have two small coops in the back yard. I currently only have four hens and two of them are extremely small bantam hens so  I will raise these girls up to fill in the egg production by next fall.
Of course you really need to check the zoning laws in your area to make sure its OK to have chickens but most cities now allow at least a few chickens. If you don't keep a rooster, the girls (pullets) don't make any noise, they eat kitchens scraps and their manure can be composted to enrich garden soil.
Nutrition wise, eggs got a bum rap for a while but now the pendulum is swinging back towards recognizing eggs (the whole thing, not just the whites) as one of natures perfect foods and there is nothing more satisfying then sitting down to a plate of eggs fresh from your backyard flock. And of course, it is true that fresh eggs are so much better than the ones from the grocery store.
Chickens are really easy to take care of , they have few health problems and really just need fresh air, clean food and water and decent accommodations. There are a thousand different plans for chicken coops online that you can build or you can buy a small one at your local farms store. Everything you ever wanted or needed to know about chickens can be found online for free. With several great blogs and websites dedicated to chicken keeping of every kind you can become an expert in no time. I see  free Kindle chicken books offered at least once a week. With a little imagination a person can get started keeping chickens with little up front cost. Baby chicks sell for 1-2 bucks a piece and full grown laying hens sell on craigslist and in farm stores for around 15 per hen.
So until they are fully feathered these girls will be hanging out in the living room where I can keep a close eye on them until they are ready to move out into one of the coops. The sound of chicks pecking and chirping happily is music to my ears.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Picmonkey- Wow it's really fun and free.

Another blogger mentioned this fun
website called Picmonkey www.picmonkey.com/
its a free photo editing site that allows you to add text, graphics and other interesting touches to your photos. You can edit you photos there as well. I always wondered how people got text into their photos.

At this rate in about five years I will
actually know how to create one of those beautifully professional blogs I so admire.....well maybe.

I look forward to the day I actually have some time to spend learning how to use this great new feature.www.picmonkey.com/

Monday, March 10, 2014

Meet Molly

My new granddaughter born on Valentine's day. 

My youngest son and I drove out to Texas for two weeks to spend some time with this little beauty and her mommy. They live  south of Houston. It was a good trip and I was sad to leave them behind but boy it is good to be back home in my kitchen and in my garden.
Too bad that darn job demands my return tomorrow.

Saving the Harvest means Saving Money

Bell Peppers:
Nothing is more disheartening than having the produce that you worked so hard to raise and harvest go to waste in the produce bin of your fridge because you had too much or your did not get around to using it. Same goes for store bought produce
I have thrown away or composted more beautiful fruits and veggies than I care to admit to because it spoiled before I used it. Knowing that is just wasted money,  I am really making a much greater effort these days to keep that from happening.  Here are some of the veggies I have recently harvested from my fall/winter garden that I have put up in the freezer.
Bell pepper diced up and spread on a cookie sheet to freeze before dumping in to freezer bags keeps the pepper pieces from sticking together to form one big ice lump. I use the same method to preserve fresh berries and even grapes.  
Collard greens are another crop that grows so abundantly here in the South that you are guaranteed to have more than you can use at once. Being from California, greens were a dish that I had to grow to love but since my Southern husband and daughter in-law love them I decided to give them a try and now I do like them and grow them too. To prepare any kind of greens, first the stem must be removed (I feed those to my rabbits) and then the leaves can be diced into smaller pieces and quickly blanched in a pot of boiling water for about 2-3 minutes and then rinsed in cold water or dunked in ice water, drained and then put into freezer bags for later use. I do the same with excess kale and even cabbage. I think anything from brassica family could be blanched and frozen. I sometimes will puree the Kale into a more liquid form to add to smoothies since it is so highly nutritious. I have yet to master Kale chips, I hear people rave about them but mine tasted kind of like dirt so until I find a more tasty way to make them I will pass.
I know for many these tips may sound simply basic, but for people like me who grew up with TV dinners and boxed mac n cheese they are new and valuable skills to learn, allowing me to save my harvest and save money by reducing wasted produce.
Collard Greens:

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Homesteading Heartstrings

If you have read my blog in the past you may notice that I changed the name of my blog again. I decided that this blog is about the journey, the process of getting to where I am going and one that will probably never be fully completed. So for now that title feels more fitting.

There are so many amazing blogs out there about homesteading and self sufficiency that it makes me wonder if I really have anything to contribute to the mass of information already out there. But, after so many months away from blogging I find that I really do miss it.  I miss making note of the things that I continue to do on a daily basis that are out of the ordinary in this age of convenience. I miss the interaction with other like minded people as well.

In my day in and day out life I am a nurse on a critical care unit and there a very few people who understand my fascination with this kind of a lifestyle, heck I don't understand why I feel so strongly pulled towards a harder way of living but I always have been. There is something in me that gets the most amazing satisfaction in laying out an entire meal on the table that was produced entirely on my own land, from the animals that I have raised and from the sweat that went into the vegetables that I have grown in my own yard. I have written before about how strongly I feel that we need to keep these old skills alive and pass them down to our children and grand-children. I still feel that way.

These days prepping for disaster has become a popular thing to do and I am all for that but if one of those scenarios does come to pass there had better be plenty of people around who know how to start from scratch and exist when the canned foods run out.  I definitely don't shun modern living, I think the internet is the greatest thing to ever happen in my life but I think that we take it all for granted and assume it will always be there, what if it were not? Could we get by? I digress, that is a topic for another blogger.

With those thoughts in mind,  I am re-dedicating myself yet again to continuing this blog even if only for the personal satisfaction of making note of this journey that I am on. Through all of the ups and downs in my life I always come back to the same place in my heart, the desire for a little place of my own in the middle of nowhere. A place where I can put down permanent roots and settle into the task of building a working homestead with gardens, chickens and goats to start with. Room to ride my horses for miles and a place that my grandchildren can run wild on and look forward to visiting. I am not there yet but I continue to work towards that goal daily, paying down my land, learning new skills and perfecting the ones I have already learned. I hope to do a better job of  making note of what I am doing regularly so that other like me can learn from my successes and failures along the way.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The second half of life.

The summer of 2013 has been a big one for me, first I turned 50 in June, a fact that continues to boggle my mind because besides besides my body not cooperating with what I want it to do I still feel like I the same woman I was years ago. Only the new little lines on my face and the grey in my hair and the aches in my joints that I try to ignore remind me that yes indeed time marches on.

Secondly, July 16th I got married again.  After a long 4 year period of friendship and dating I knew this was a man who I could build a life with.  Together we share the plan to build a small homestead in New Mexico and to pursue the idea of becoming as self sufficient as possible.
So, the second half begins. I'm excited to see what the future holds.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Strawberry Leaf Tea

Today I did something I felt was actually blog worthy, at least in the homesteading world. I made Strawberry Leaf Tea. A project that made me just a little bit nervous.

Strawberry tea, like other berry teas has many reported health benefits, high in vitamin C, it is used to calm upset stomachs and digestive issues. As a nurse I know that many of the modern medicines used today began as herbal remedies so I am always interested in learning about alternatives from nature.

When I moved from my old house I carefully dug up all of my strawberry plants that were just beginning to bloom and moved them to the new raised beds I had set up in my new location and hoped that they would survive the transplant. They did amazingly well and produced a decent crop of berries. Here in Florida the dog days of summer are just beginning to set in and I believe the plants are done producing any more fruit but the leaves were still green and thriving so I decided to try something I came across somewhere along the way, making tea from the leaves of the plant. Before I started I tried to find information online about how best to proceed but there was surprisingly little out there but just enough to get me through the process.

I picked the leaves and washed them carefully removing all of the stems. I made sure to pull out any that looked to be wilting or damaged as I had read that as the leaves begin to decompose they become toxic to humans and can cause nausea and cramping, the part that worried me. 

Then I set them on my dehydrator racks to dry out. I have an old Excalibur Dehydrator that I bought at a yard sale over 20 years ago that is still going strong.
Anxious to see how the tea might turn out I decided to dry and handful of leaves in the microwave. Since I
do not have a tea infuser I improvised by tying the leaves up in a thin cotton dish towel ( I use these for cheese and yogurt making too) and pouring boiling water from the tea kettle over to create and infusion. 
Nothing I found online told me how long to leave the leaves infusing so I used my best judgement and decided that this pale green color was just about right. I worried that the tea might be very bitter but it was surprisingly pleasant almost citrus like. I sweetened it with a little honey and enjoyed the whole cup. It has been a little over one half hour since I drank it and I am experiencing no bad side effects so I suppose I will live and will definitely be drinking more of this unique tea blend. 

To Blog or Not To Blog,,,

In January of last year I sat down and wrote a post from the RV I was living in at the time. I thought then that I really wanted to get bac...