Monday, December 28, 2009

Year End Thoughts

As I begin a new year I want to reflect on what I have accomplished in the past year and where I hope to go in the coming year. This past year I finally began to take steps toward having the homestead I have always envisioned. I searched out and purchased two milk goats who are possibly pregnant, nine fat hens who are laying an abundance of eggs and a pair of piggies who I hope will breed this spring. My gardening efforts did not yield much but I got the bug to build raised beds and start again this spring. In the coming year I would like to be much more conscientious of my spending while looking at everything I already have with a fresh eye.
On a professional level I changed jobs, and while the new job may not be where I would like to stay forever, I am grateful none the less for it and the new things I have learned while there. Additionally, I had a major surgery and came through healthy and free from a long term health issue that had robbed me of energy for years.
I have been so very inspired by all of the hard working amazing people I have followed as they blog about their lives.I hope to reflect back this time next year with a sense of satisfaction that I have simplified, consumed less and produced more from my little plot of land here in Florida. I have thought a lot about why we blog, why I blog, and why I find it so cathartic. I know I do it for myself, an online journal in a way to remind me of where I have come from but why do it in a public format? I know connecting with like minded people is one of the reasons, wanting to feel like my life and my efforts mean something may be another. I would love your input on this topic, why do you blog?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Google Yourself

Has anyone googled themselves?? I was in google images looking for an illustration for my posts and I googled my profile name lauraslife and was shocked to see my profile pic as well as several of the pics from my blog pop up. I guess I did not realize how far these little messages can travel. A kind of Karma in a way, who knows how what you send out may come back to you.

Another year comes to an end.

Today is the third of three days off and I have gotten most of my shopping done which is a huge relief. Also, I have gotten some real sleep which I so needed and am feeling so much more positive. The Christmas tree has lights but still no ornaments and I have decided that it's OK just like it is. This year I will have no guests to my home, this year won't have all the bells and whistles of years past, but even so, it will be a year to visit with friends and family and to be grateful to have the chance to start again in a fresh new year.

Next year I hope to move my homesteading goals further forward. I like the egg, veggie count that some blogger's post, I like the plant something, harvest something philosophy that others follow. I would like to raise my own Thanksgiving Turkey and maybe even a few more to sell at the local critter auction. I also hope to put together a pantry system in my home that helps me to spend less time and money in the grocery store. Additionally, I would like to begin a small home business, not sure yet what that will entail but I am going to start researching possibilities. I plan to purge a ton of my junk and might even try my hand at selling some things on ebay.

As I look back on this year I have to acknowledge that I am blessed. If I don't get the chance to say so before then, Merry Christmas to all of my new friends online, you all have no idea how much you have inspired and encouraged me with your blogs.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Letting Go

Today is a completely off topic day. As hard as it is for me to admit, I can't get into Christmas this year. I pride myself on being optimistic, seeing the bright side of life and moving forward but I am coming to realize that I just need to allow myself to face my feelings and accept that this is a year to take a step back, forgive myself for whatever it is that I think I could have, should have done differently. Anyone who has ever gone through a divorce may know what I am feeling. This will be the first Christmas in 27 years that our whole family will not be together, it's hard.

I know that time has an amazing way of healing, I pray that this time next year I will have my usual zeal for the season back. I am not a person who usually shares her personal emotions but I guess I feel the need to stop denying and mark this season as one of those life milestones that in the end will only make me stronger and wiser.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The First Present

Yeah!! I finally bought a present. I was reminded by the music at Octoberfarm's blog of the video The Snowman by Raymond Briggs that my own children watched over and over when they were young. Honestly, I am not sure who loved it more, me or the kids. I decided to find the DVD for my grandsons. Now that I have finally made a purchase maybe I can keep the momentum going and find meaningful gifts for the rest of my loved ones.
The music you hear first on my blog is from this movie, the movie has no words just a beautifully illustrated story and wonderful music.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


My good friend has a couple of very prolific citrus trees in the yard, one is a tangerine tree that is overloaded with what looks like thousands of ripe tangerines. It pains me to see them go to waste, so today I went and bought a juicer So far I have frozen three big batches of juice. It is so good.
I think I will be doing some juicing on every day off for the next few weeks. In my quest to produce more of my own food I have added so far: juice, eggs, goat milk, cheese, fresh green beans and a variety of from the garden herbs.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Eggs, eggs and more eggs.

In the course of a week my two eggs a day has gone to seven eggs a day with three more about to begin laying. I am facing a case of be careful what you wish for...... I am giving away eggs to everyone I know and still have too many. Guess it is time to start looking for egg recipes.
Happy Friday everyone, its 4:30 a.m. time to milk the goats, then off to the hospital for another very long day. Such is the life I chose, it is challenging at times but I am grateful everyday for all that I have.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Coffee Anyone??

I finally took a minute to take a picture of my vintage coffee grinder and thrift store coffee percolator. When I stop and ask myself what would I really miss if there were no electricity I think of coffee. I know for now I am dependant on coffee beans that are shipped from from South America but I did find coffee bean plants for sale on eBay and Amazon for around $8.00.

I found a link to the University of Florida's Ag site and they say that coffee can be grown in Florida or as a potted plant. Anyone out there ever grown coffee? I will have to do a lot more research so see if it is even remotely realistic to think about on a small scale but it might be fun to try. I had to laugh the other day I was watching the show "100 Mile Diet " or something like that and the families all complained that the most difficult thing to give up was coffee.

Thank God It's Thursday!

After two excruciatingly long days at work (14 hour days) I have one day off. I am determined to make the most of it but I have already spent two hours in bed sipping coffee and reading blogs. I keep telling myself "me" time is good but I still feel guilty . So I am going to make a list and put on some Christmas music and jump in hoping that the spirit of the season will begin to creep in. Getting about 5 eggs a day now. (Quiche for dinner tonight) I love the idea of keeping a count like so many of the bloggers I follow do. I think I will start mine Jan. 1st.

Happy Thursday!!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Happy Tuesday!!

Just a quick hello to all of my blogging friends, I had one day off (Monday) and it was full of chores and shopping trips for the essentials that keep this place going. Back to work today.

I got the coffee grinder that ordered from ebay, it works great and I am having freshly hand ground coffee this morning. I will post a pic later. Have the best of days!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wishing all of my blogging friends the happiest of holidays! May you really feel the spirit of thankfulness for all of the blessings in your lives.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Two Eggs a Day.

I am so excited that two of my nine new hens are laying daily. You would have thought it was Christmas early, I am so happy to eat my morning omelet with eggs from my hens and herbed goat cheese inside. It's truly the little things in life! On a side note, my youngest son 18 who still lives at home won't eat the eggs from my chickens, he loves eggs but says he cant eat the children of the hens he knows. Weird kid!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Problem Fixed

I think I found the problem with my ability to open links in blogger. I un-installed some of the applications I had recently downloaded from facebook and removed the google toolbar they were displayed on and the problem was fixed. I guess you really have to be careful about what you download. Happy to see all of your blogs entries again!!

I can't read the blogs I follow

I am so frustrated, I am unable to open the links to the blogs I follow. Everything else in blogger works but it like a pop up blocker is on that prevents me from going to all of your blogs.
My pop up blocker is off. I have written to google, no response yet. I have run anti-virus and disk clean up on my computer I have re- booted a million times. This has been going on for over a week. I am in blog withdrawal!!!! Any suggestions??

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Making Soft Cheese

I have gotten in the habit of making at least one batch of easy soft goat cheese each week.
This easy method uses lemon juice to curdle the milk. If stored in an airtight container immediately the cheese retains a lot of whey making it soft and spreadable like cream cheese.
If left to hang in the cheese cloth longer you end up with a dryer batch that can be sliced or even crumbed like feta. I add spices to season the cheese according to my taste. I found the original directions at the website "Slugs on the Refrigerator". I would post the link but I can't seem to make copy and paste work inside the blog format. I hope to expand my cheese making adventures to Mozzarella and eventually hard cheeses too. . I figured it out, here is the link to that site.

It's the little things...

that make me smile , like the first eggs from my new flock of chickens, my new milk goat, a colorful batch of homemade soy candles, a batch of freshly made goat cheese from my own goats milk.

Coming home after a long day at work and gladly summoning up the energy to tend to my little farm because all who reside here depend on me.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Coffee Grinder

Ordered a coffee bean grinder off of ebay today, I think it was a post at "Cold Antler Farm" that inspired me to find one, now to find an old fashioned percolator.

I have followers!!!

I just had to say thank you to those people who commented on my blog. This is my first venture at writing anything ever and as you all know it is intimidating to say the least to bare your soul and expose yourself for all the world to see. I find the process is somehow liberating and scary at the same time.

I enjoy the blogs I follow so much and feel so satisfied knowing that there are other people out there who share a similar vision and interests as I do. Having grown up in Los Angeles Calif. most people really don't understand why I do what I do (that's certainly a blog in itself). Already, you have added so much to my knowledge base. I am happy if I can add in anyway something to the collective experience.

I have a long way to go, I hope that someday I will be able to add photographs that even come close to the beautiful images that some of you share or that I might be able to write as eloquently as some I have read but I believe the journey is going to be a lot of fun.

I feel like I have made some new friends out there....Thank you!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

The first week in ICU

Spending a lazy morning sleeping in and reflecting on the whirlwind that has been this week.
I am pleasantly satisfied with all of the new experiences that came my way at work this past week. I transduced an arterial line, pulled a sheath, learned about Central Venous Pressure, what do do with some really lethal but lifesaving medications, and probably a hundred other things I did not know before. It's not rocket science, but it is definitely more technically challenging stuff then I had previously been exposed to. I watched a family greive the loss of a beloved mother with grace and dignity and I prayed that I would have such a family by my side when my time comes. I am reminded that life is a precious gift not to be wasted.

Coming home nightly to my little chunk of land I feel the need to simplify even further, shed the unnecessary clutter in my life and get even more back to basics. I read a blog somewhere out there describing the simple satisfaction of grinding your own coffee beans and percolating them on top of the stove in a simple old fashioned coffee pot, somehow that appeals to me a great deal. The problem I see with trying to simplify is dependency on the consumer machine.
Even if I decide to get back to basics and grind my own beans and even go so far as to brew them over a campfire or a wood burning stove, I have to get those beans from somewhere right? The challenge is to find local sources for such items. I think that might be harder to do then I can even imagine.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Life is good

For the past week or so I have had that amazingly satisfied with life feeling. I have a new job and am finding it very rewarding, forcing me to grow and inch out of my comfort zone. For years I had thought I would like to be an ICU nurse but was afraid of the complexity of the medications and the advanced equipment one sees in that setting but after only two days in the new position I have learned so much. My head is full of new things that I am trying to sort and make sense of. I believe I am going to rise to the challenge.

In my home life the simple addition of the dairy goat who needs to be milked twice daily and the new chickens combined with the cooler weather has rejuvenated my desire to continue on my journey towards a more self sustaining homestead. I find milking very grounding, somehow connecting me more to all of the animals who all come to watch the dairy theatre. Anthony, my 18 year old son and I have settled into a peaceful routine. Something about the fall, even in Florida makes you want to nest in, go to bed earlier and keep the home fires tended. I like it!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Life gets hectic

My life has had it's share of turmoil lately, but thankfully things are working out. I no sooner had returned to work after my long post surgical leave before I found myself in the midst of some pretty intolerable working conditions. I have never in my life walked off the job, but that is exactly what I found myself doing. I feel like it was one of those defining moments in life where you have to stand up for what is right at any cost. I quit my job on Friday and thankfully because I am an RN I had a new job by Tuesday. I am now in the middle of reorganizing my life to accommodate my new schedule.

Managing to care for my livestock, milk my dairy goat twice daily and continuing trying to grow some of my own vegetables are projects that I am determined to maintain because they bring me so much self satisfaction. I patiently await the arrival of the first eggs from my hens who are looking fat and healthy. I lost my Barred Rock Hen sadly to my dog Lola, the Boston Terrier who simply loses her mind when she gets close to a chicken or duck. I have tried everything short of tying a dead chicken to her neck and making her carry it around for a few days as I have been advised, to no avail. I still have my original nine Rhode Island Red Pullets and fingers crossed they stay alive and well, but that is a pretty big wish since they are all free range with no enclosure to keep them safe at night. I hope to build a safe structure very soon but have not been able to get to it yet.

I had really good success with my first batch of soft goat cheese made with lemon juice instead of rennet to curdle the milk. I followed a basic recipe for making soft spreadable goat cheese with lemon juice I found doing a simple Google search online. I added some chopped up lemon balm herb that I had growing in my little garden. The resulting cheese was soft spreadable with a nice sharp flavor very similar in consistency to cream cheese. Eaten over flat bread or toast was so delicious I will make it a regular addition to my homesteading projects. I hope to find a recipe for Alfredo sauce using goat cheese as well.

I made made a batch of 6 soy candles with a great pumpkin spice scent the candles are really long burning and I am very happy with them, however, I realized as I made them that they are not really moving me in the direction of self sufficiency because I must purchase all of the ingredients to make the candles from retailers. I need to do more research on home made candles. The only way I can see to truly make my own candles from my own materials would be to raise my own bees, so for now I will have to ponder that question.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Making a living.

Finally home cozy in my bed with Lola the Boston Terrier at my feet. She is an amazing escape artist, she can get out of any enclosure which is how she a wrangled her way up on to my bed, I am to tired to object. Worked a 12 hour shift today which in itself is not all that bad. I certainly am grateful t have such a good paying job. I think about what so many people are facing in this country and wonder how they manage to put one foot in front of the other every day. I am very tired though, and would have liked to have fallen into bed feeling like I had accomplished more around the homestead today. All I really managed to do today was water the little garden. My youngest son fed and cared for the animals today, he is 18 and I keep thinking I have got to figure out how I can manage it all when he is not around full time. Its time to call it a night.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Small Steps to Sustainability

I read a post by Jenna Woginrich on the Mother Earth News Website where she talks about her beginning journey towards sustainability. I found it so inspiring to hear how a girl who holds down a full time job in Design (Web, Internet stuff) has completely transformed her life to one that not only allows her to be far less dependant on the consumer machine as well as much more satisfied with her life. I know that feeling, I love that feeling. I too, have finally begun to realize that I can do this myself. I have no idea what the future holds for me but I am determined to live the life that I yearn for with or without a man around. I know by making smart choices and organizing my time I can do this while working full time time and then some. With that goal in mind, I have over the past two months added to my little homestead, a flock of ten Laying Hens and two Roosters. The sight of those happy birds happily pecking around my yard is heart warming. I have also added a Yorkshire Sow and her little sidekick a Yorkshire Boar Hog. The idea is to let them breed and use their offspring as a source of meat and to make a very small income off of any piglets sold. My trough garden is coming along nicely. The peppers I planted are loving the never ending summer here in Central Fl. and are producing fruit already. The tomato plants look great but no flowers yet. The cool weather crops I planted ( you know the ones you are supposed to plant in October) are looking a little rough from the heat. I hear rumor of a cool front coming soon so maybe they will perk up then.

I made a wooden raised bed frame last night,with the help of a friend I learned how to work the drill and went and bought my own set of drill bits and drivers and a chuck ( I now know what a chuck is). I am so proud of those tools, they are the first tools I have ever owned. All the leftover tools in my house were my husbands. I hope to make many more over the coming months adding to the production of vegetables for my home. Additionally, I found a local builder and bought a goat milking stand. I currently have only one small doe a Spanish/Boar mix who is pregnant. I plan on milking her once a day and leaving the baby with her the remainder of the time. I am looking for a real dairy goat to buy but they are pretty hard to find in this area and expensive so I may have to wait a while. I am happy to have this venue to journal my progress and I am constantly inspired by others who write so eloquently about their adventures. Thank you Jenna Woginrich!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Live Stock Water Trough Garden

Since I usually work in excess of 48 hours a week there is not a lot of time for time intensive homestead chores so I am looking at ways to be self sufficient and grow my own vegetables that are not terribly time consuming.

With this thought in mind I decided to plant a small vegetable garden using the basic principles in square foot gardening in my unused horse trough. To do so I elevated it using some cinder blocks I had left over from another project, it already had holes drilled in the bottom from it's previous use as a baby duck brooder. In the bottom of the trough I had my son fill it with about 10 inches of pine needles and oak leaves raked out of my front yard.
On top of that he made another layer of about 10-12 inches with decomposed manure (horse and goat)that had been raked and aged for over a year. On top of that I dumped about 15 bags of generic topsoil that I got at Walmart for about $1.18 per bag. This made a nice bed ready for planting.

New Beginnings

This blog will follow my efforts to take small steps to a more sustainable way of life. I have been re-inspired by the Dervais (spelling?) family of Pasadena California, see them on you tube "Paths to Freedom" for your own bit of inspiration. I plan to simply jump in where I am,focus on taking care of what I have, using up the glutton of material posses ions I already have and living a life more conscientious of the choices I make daily.

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...