Monday, August 29, 2011

Finally Going Back to Work

Tonight will be my first night back to work in the ICU after one month off recovering from my injury.
I considered myself blessed to have such a good job to go back to but boy being home was so
nice. Heres to hoping that 12 hourse passes quickly and that my patients are well cared for

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Christopher and Casi.

Today we celebrate not one but two birthday's in our house. My son and his wife Casi are 28 today. We all think it is pretty special that they were born on the same day, my son in California and Casi here in Florida and that somehow they found each other. We know she was meant to become a part of our family.

Hook Rug Kit Give Away at Hungry Hook Primitives

I love crafts that use recycled materials and have loved the primitive creative patterns seen on hook rugs forever but have never known anyone who actually makes them who I might learn from. Today one of the new bloggers I follow Farm Girl posted the following giveaway from another creative blogger at Hungry Hook Primitives.
This blog explains in detail how to gather the supplies to begin making hook rugs including finding wool garments from thrift stores that can be used to make rug strips. If the rest of her tutorials are as easy to understand and as thorough as her first one I can't wait to read them. Finally I have a much clearer understanding of how these rugs are put together.
Visit her site and read yesterday and today's posts for a chance to enter her give away of one of the two kits pictured above.
Looks like fun.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The New Homestead Begins to Take Shape

With my recent move from the suburbs to a more rural setting on five acres again I have decided that I no longer can be considered an urban homestead so I have changed the title of the Blog back to Laura's Homestead Adventures. Slowly, the pieces are beginning to fall back into place and I am beginning to see progress.
Last weekend I bought four young laying hens off of Craigslist and a starter coop for them with plans to build a larger movable chicken tractor very soon. The chickens are currently moulting but should begin to lay eggs again as the weather cools off in the next month or so.
Because we have mild weather usually well into December here in Florida we can grow a Fall Garden, we have the fall garden seeds started and sprouting and 3 raised beds in place one with a nice batch of green beans already on their way. My daughter in-law Casi and I planted Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Tomatoes, Green Peppers, Cucumbers, Pumpkins, Garlic, Cilantro, Basil, Oregano, Thyme and Squash Seeds and all are doing well.
The plans for fall include establishing at least 8 raised beds for veggies, continuing to can and freeze our produce as well as in season produce from our local farmers market.
I have eight meat rabbits in the freezer thanks to my gentleman friend who does not mind doing the dirty work for me with plans to continue to butcher rabbits all fall and winter. I know I will eat the meat and will share it with the boyfriend and his family but I am not sure I will convince anyone else in my family to eat it, they can't get past the cute factor. We have four does and a buck and their offspring in different stages of growth. I know for many the idea of eating rabbits is difficult but I feel like if I am going to buy and eat meat why not raise my own in humane conditions, well fed, well cared for right up until the quick end. Worldwide, rabbit meat is consumed routinely and it is a great source of protein for families that can be raised in a very small space.
I have not yet learned how to spin my angora rabbit wool into yarn yet but plan on trying to take a class this Fall or Winter to learn the basics. If I am successful at learning to spin the yarn I might think about adding a couple of more Angora bunnies, but I wonder how many bunnies one might really need to provide enough fiber for knitting projects. Ash, our little grey Angora has become such a wonderful pet, he lives in the house and loves to run around and jump in peoples laps to be petted. He is terribly spoiled.
Now that I have mastered canning salsa, jams and spaghetti sauce I need to learn how to pressure can things like soups, chili and meats so that is the next project.
I will continue to dry the herbs that I am growing and hope to learn to dry some fruits and veggies as well.
These are small beginnings but beginnings none the less and it is exciting to get back to doing the things I love. This week I am going back to work after being home for four weeks following my horse accident, I have loved being home even if it were not under the most ideal circumstances but at least I go back with a clear reminder in my head of what I work so hard to support and that makes it so much easier.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Canning Salsa

Yesterday my daughter in-law Casi and I decided to can some home made salsa using the ball blue book recipe for zesty salsa which can be found at

The actual recipe that we used had been adapted to go with the canning starter kit that I bought at Lowes and used approximately half of the ingredients listed here. In the future we will make at least the full recipe or even double the recipe and fill 1 Quart jars, these small jars will be gone in no time, we called these little jars personal salsa jars since one person can easily polish one off all by themselves. Next time we will may try some variations like adding Black Beans and Corn. The flavor is amazing and it was a very successful first canning attempt for my daughter in-law. This time we used all store bought ingredient but I cant wait to do this with some of my fall tomatoes and peppers from the garden.

Monday, August 15, 2011

100th blog post.

I just noticed that I had 99 posts so far so this post marks my 100th blog post.

When I started this blog it was because I was forced to be on bed rest after surgery and I have to laugh as I mark this occasion that I once again find myself on forced bed rest due to injury.

Today I looked at the tracker that I downloaded to this blog that shows where in the world the blog is being viewed from. It honestly is mind boggling to see people from everywhere and I do mean everywhere in the world reading about what goes on in my life and what I am doing on my humble little homestead. My kids and I were talking about all of the different countries represented as well as those from what looks like almost every state in the USA and once again we all had to concede that it is a small world and becoming ever smaller as we increase out ability to communicate effortlessly with people from around the globe.

To those of you that follow or simply stop in to visit my blog I want to say Thank You.
Thank you for the words of encouragement when things were rough, for the laughter when life is good, and for reaching out to let me know you understand my thoughts.
Thank you for sharing your lives with me through your blogs, pictures and videos, I feel blessed to have the ability to soak in the different cultures, different beliefs and words of wisdom, to see your successes, your failures, your heartache and joy and for being brave enough to allow others into your world day in and day out.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Unexpected Forced Vacation

On July 31st I got up and out early to beat the scorching heat and get in some riding time.

I saddled up my two mares, my paint mare Karma and the Welsh/Paint Pony mare Lily both pictured here both of whom tend to be a little high spirited and hard to handle. The paint mare and I usually come to a understanding pretty quickly, I have ridden her frequently and had some of my best moments on the trail with her. That morning however, was not so pleasant, both mares were not behaving well even as I saddled them. But,stubborn woman that I am, I rode them both but not without a great deal of head throwing, prancing around, kicking, some rearing up and generally just being difficult.

After my initial rides on both of them I decided to spend some time working with the paint mare Karma to get her to stand still while being mounted, usually I have to have someone hold her while I get on her so she does not run off before I am fully in the saddle. After a repeatedly making her come to a full stop in front of my mounting block I thought she was going to finally cooperate but alas I was terribly wrong. Just as I swung myself over the saddle to sit she decided to take off in a full canter before I could fully catch my balance and find my seat. She ran directly along side of the fence where if I did not raise my right leg it would have been caught. My right foot was not yet in the stirrup since I had not time to place it there and I am unsure looking back on the event if that foot being free was a blessing or a curse in any case as my right leg came up instinctively to avoid the fence my saddle slipped to the left and I knew at that moment I was coming off of the horse one way or another. I have no idea really what happened because it happened so quickly but in a matter of seconds I hit the ground and hit hard. I immediately knew I was hurt but was able to after catch my breath and with the help of my family get into the house. It wasn't long before I knew I needed to head to the emergency room. I had severe pain in my neck and in my rear end.

Long story short, I ended up with some bad whiplash and a broken sacral bone, which is basically my tail bone, the large bone in the back of your pelvis. The whiplash began to ease up after a week but the broken bone has forced me out of work since the event, with the hopes of going back to work after the 26th of Aug. Standing, sitting or bending are very painful with laying on one side or the other in bed being the only comfortable position I can find I am forced to get lots of greatly needed rest and lots of time to think and reflect on where my life is going. Boy is that a scary thing to face.

I have asked myself over and over what went wrong that day and a couple of things could possibly have influenced the events of the morning. Besides being horribly hot and humid for so early in the day, both mares had had their hooves trimmed the day before and even though I was riding on soft ground it's possible they had tender feet.

Additionally, in my repeated attempts at getting the mare to stand still at the mount I had neglected to re-check the cinch which had loosened too much something I usually am so careful to do. Also I believe my high strung mare was pretty agitated by my exercises with her which I failed to fully realize. In any case I did not win this battle with my horse, I did not show her who was in charge and I was not as careful as I should have been.

It will be a long time before I will be healed enough to ride again and I had to admit to myself that I definitely don't bounce as well as I did when I was younger. I will have to really evaluate how best to be safe when riding again and how best to find a way to make these mares safe to ride whether it be being sent to trainers or spending a lot more time with them myself. I can't bring myself to consider finding them new homes, I love them both so for now I will be considering my options.

As for my time off, it's unexpected, its financially challenging, but it's nice to be home.

The event has really made me stop and think about people who live with chronic pain or illness and given me a greater sense of compassion for them. I know that this accident could have been so much worse and I am so grateful that it was not.

First Blog Post from my Droid Phone

Just discovered the Blogger app for my phone that allows me to blog on the go.  Amazing what can be done from this thing. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Drying Homegrown Herbs

I had forgotten to post this the day that I did this project back in July. I still have a hard time with the arrangement of photos in my blog posts. But you get the idea here.

I have had this Excalibur Dehydrator for 20 years, I bought it at a yard sale for next to nothing but have only used it a handful of times over the years. Hopefully, that infrequency is about to change. Today I picked some very overgrown Basil from my little herb box off the back porch, rinsed it in a colander and spread it out over two trays to dry. The pics show the before and after, as you can see a large amount of fresh herbs condenses down to a much smaller amount when dried. Yes, herbs are cheap, you can buy them for less than a dollar at the store but there is a real sense of satisfaction in cooking a meal seasoned with home grown spices.

I have a surplus of Thyme and Oregano to do next.

I don't have a book to go with the dehydrator but I am sure an Internet search will give me some ideas on how I can preserve some of the other garden surplus. Anyone have any success with dehydrating fruit? If so I would love to hear from you.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Still alive and kicking.

Dear blogging friends, I just want to say I am still alive and well. Life lately has really derailed my ability to blog and follow blogs. My family and I have been in transition again, as we neared the end of our one year lease we decided the place we were renting was not ideal for our large family.

Fortunately my daughter in law found an amazing home for us to rent on Craigslist. Five fenced acres with covered stalls for the horses, room for the dogs to run free, lots of gardening space and privacy out in the country. We are so much happier.

I will be relieved when all of the boxes are unpacked and we settle in better but if I have to rent I could not ask for a more ideal home. I could even have a dairy goat and a few chickens here.

I am very excited about what I will be able to do here.

We stubbornly moved every one of the big half barrel veggie plants we had going and we continue to get a steady supply of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and tomatillos which we don't quite know what to do with (they are extremely prolific). We also have eggplant and pumpkins coming along.

I am still working way too many hours but somehow I have managed to find a rhythm to it all and am making it work.

Summer came to Florida early this year and with a vengence, we have had consistent temps 95 to 100 degrees every day for about 2 weeks. We finally are beginning to get some regular rain, thank goodness because the whole place was beginning to look scorched.

So life goes on, I hope to catch up with your blogs and lives soon, I have missed my blogging pals,

Here's to a happy summer.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What kind of energy do you bring to the table?

I heard someone say "you and only you , are responsible for the energy you bring into the room". I really like that and hope to keep it in mind as I go through the day in and day out grind, but man my energy really needs some coffee.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Introducing Ashton

This little guy is my newest project, he is my first Angora Bunny, he is nine weeks old and my grandsons who name all of the animals are calling him Ashton, Ash for short. He will provide me with Angora fiber that I hope to learn to spin into yarn. I found a local woman who teaches spinning classes and how to dye the yarn and sells all of the tools for gleaning your own fiber. I am excited about this new endeavor. He came from a really nice young family who are just starting their rabbit business and they have handled him so much he practically leaps into my arms whenever I open his cage. I am in love.

Traumatic Day for Rocky

My baby is growing up. With my busy schedule I try to handle little Rocky as often as possible, including picking up his feet. Today I had the farrier add him to the hoof trim regimen that I have done on my horses every six weeks. He was not a happy boy. He fought with everything he had, but in the end it got done. He is a sweet horse and I continue to enjoy the him for the surprise gift he was to me. I won't begin to be able ride him for about two years, I hope that he will eventually become the replacement trail horse for my trusty old horse Red who is now 27 and just beginning to show signs of his age, he will be a hard horse to replace, hopefully with lots of love and careful training Rocky will fill his shoes someday.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mini Tornado

Lots of rough storms blowing through here in Florida the past two days, was glad to be off work and hunkered down at home. Yesterday, a mini tornado blew all the tomatoes off the plants and some siding off of the house, snapped a little tree clean off like a match stick, but the family, horses, dogs and kitties are all fine and that's all that really matters. Hope you have sunny skies where you are.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Today is my one day off, but since I worked the last three nights I was so tired and slept all day, so now I'm up at 4 in the afternoon and it's morning to me. Sadly I have but 4 precious hours of daylight left to make the most of. Such is the life of the night shift worker.

The weather here in Florida has been beautiful, Monday my kids and I went on a spur of the moment camping trip, we packed up and went to a local campground called Rainbow Springs, we had such a good time but could only stay one night, we are anxious to find time to make a few more treks out before the heat and humidity gets too bad.
The past few weeks here have warm but without the humidity that plagues us later in the year so we have been spending lots of time outside. My lovely daughter in law Casi has been bitten by the gardening bug, thank goodness someone else in my family sees the value in growing your own food.

Together we have begun to formulate a plan to begin building on the Urban Homestead idea here in our new home in the suburbs. So far we have planted two 4x6 raised beds with cucumbers,bush beans, bell peppers, yellow crookneck squash, zucchini and egg plant, our next project will be to fill a several half barrels salvaged from all my old farm with pepper and tomato plants.

I recently taught myself how to knit from a You tube video, it was much easier then I thought, however the price of yarn is outrageous so lately I have been thinking about Angora Rabbits for fiber which of course would mean I would have to learn to card and spin the fiber into yarn. Has anyone ever read the children's book "If you give a mouse a cookie"? I seem to keep going there.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What Are You Doing to Be Prepared?

I borrowed this image from google images, I wish I could say it was stuff I have on hand, while I have a few things I am not nearly as prepared as I hope to be. I live less than 30 miles from a major nuclear power plant, would having Iodine tablets on hand in case something happened at the power plant be smart? No one wants to act out of fear or panic but rather to be rational and logical and plan for things that really could happen and that you can protect yourself and your family from.

The events in Japan have certainly gotten me thinking about how prepared my family is for any unexpected disaster natural or man made. I have to admit that I don't believe there is much of anything that the people of Japan could have possibly done to prepare for what has happened there but what about the things that might happen that we can prepare for?

Emergency preparedness has been a goal of mine for years and years but one that I never quite feel I have even scratched the surface of. Sure I have plenty of canned and dry goods but if hard pressed to come up with fresh water my family could only manage for a day or two, and that is not counting fresh water for my animals. Some of the bloggers that I follow have truly made preparedness a priority and I am in awe of what they have accomplished.

I know that like anything in life it all depends on how much importance you place on the thought and how much of a priority it is made. So today I am considering where to start and what items need to be acquired first.

So my question to you is what are you doing or have you done to prepare for the unexpected?

Friday, March 11, 2011

All I can do is Pray

Today anything going in my world that I might want to write about seems so trivial in light of the terrifying news from across the ocean, I send out my prayers to all of those people impacted by this horrible event in Japan I know you all join me.

Friday, February 4, 2011

A note from the trenches.

Work Work and more work, for those of you who might be wondering where I have disappeared to, that word is my life in a nutshell. Sad but true. Have been working two jobs focusing on doing what I need to do to keep it all afloat right now while I have all my kids under on roof. It won't be like this forever. My Urban Homesteading adventures are few and far between, the kids and I planted some Romain lettuce on the back porch, those little green sprouts coming up are such a nice reminder that the cycle goes on. I am still making bread regularly and spouting seeds in the window sill, but that's about it. I am reading a book on home cheese making but the thought of making it from store bought milk saddens me. I can't wait for the day I have milking goats again.

This month my colt Rocky will be six months old and I will wean him from his mama, which promised to be a traumatic experience for all. I will post pictures of him soon. He kept the blue eyes which makes him pretty unusual looking.

Hope all of you are keeping warm and well this winter. I pop in and catch up on your blogs when I can.

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...