Musings from the Threshold

Category Archives: Homestead

This and That … and lots of it!

I haven’t been very good with blogging regularly about what’s going on around here, so it’s time for a This and That post…

Last month, Jonathan and I waited for a couple of hours in my backup OB’s office, then saw him for less than 10 minutes. We only got as much of his time as we did because I kept asking him questions. I couldn’t help but think, “and this is one of many reasons why we choose midwifery care.” On the bright side, we are in “the system” and don’t need to go back again. I will update my charts with the office by fax, and if there is a need for transport (which we don’t plan on, of course, but for which we want to be prepared), I should slide into things at the hospital without a bunch of hullabaloo about “not having prenatal care.”

Speaking of prenatal care, a couple days after the aforementioned 2 hour wait/<10 minute appt, my midwife's assistant arrived at our home for a prenatal visit. We spent a lovely and mutually respectful hour+ together. We talked about what I'm eating, how I'm feeling, my diastatis, how the baby is lying, and a myriad of other things related to baby and me. We walked around the house and talked about plans for birth, advantages/disadvantages of our house layout, etc. We drank tea together as we chatted. When she left, I felt thoroughly "cared for." THAT is what I call prenatal care. And yes, there are numbers and notes on my chart … probably in more categories than the Dr's office will know what to do with when I fax it to them.

In other news…

Stephen is definitely going through a stage where he is wanting to exert his will, so he’s keeping us on our toes. At the same time, he continues to be such a delight! His imagination is going full-steam, and while he adores playing with his siblings, he also plays happily by himself, totally engrossed in a world of his own making. He particularly enjoys playing with the tub of horses.

The Blessings received five seasons of Daniel Boone on DVD for Christmas. We’ve been watching it at lunchtime a few times a week and finished Season 1 yesterday. I had never seen it before, so it’s been an adventure for all of us.

Last night, Elanor mentioned that she had lost something and had looked all over for it. Stephen pipes up helpfully, “Did you look under the green couch?” “Yes.” “Did you look under the gray couch?” “Yes, Stephen.” 🙂

I’ve been looking across the table/room/yard/etc lately and realizing that Davey, our eldest Blessing, who will turn 14 in June, is looking more like a young man and less like a “boy.” This does funny things to my heart, but mostly makes me realize how much I like this young man.

Have I mentioned that we’ve finally figured out a laundry system that we can actually make work for us? It’s nothing fancy, just a three-bag laundry sorter in the laundry room where all the Blessings’ dirty clothes are deposited (two for darks, one for lights/whites), a white basket for light towels/sheets/blankets and a blue basket for dark towels/sheets/blankets. The four older Blessings have the responsibility of doing two loads of laundry from start to finish on “their” laundry day, picking whatever basket or bag is most in need of being done. Kate and Grace help fold and put away, and I need to start working with Kate on Fridays, working towards her having a laundry day as well. For some reason, this system seems to be one that we can make work, and the laundry room floor is no longer covered with dirty laundry 98% of the time.

Our guinea hens have started laying eggs! They actually lay them in the coop, which is wonderful for us. Hopefully as the weather warms they will continue to lay in the coop and not take to the fields as guineas are prone to do.

I finally finished getting our winter/Christmas decorations packed up and ready to go to the attic. They’ll go up and perhaps the baby tubs will come down…

The taping seems to be working well for keeping my abdominal separation from worsening. I finally started doing pilates again a couple night ago, and am thankful to be back to it. At the same time, I have to admit… it’s kickin’ my tail! But that’s a good thing.

We have our garden mostly planned out for this year and are eagerly awaiting the warming of the soil so that we can get started! We’re going to be using principles from the book Weedless Gardening by Lee Reich. No tilling, established beds/paths, and lots of mulch, for which we’ve found a good and cheap source. I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about it.

Speaking of the soil warming, I feel like I am blossoming as Spring moves in. I’ve enjoyed several days this week of sitting in the sunshine reading or working on a project. The warmer weather and the smell of spring is such a reminder of our Heavenly Father’s faithfulness! Last night, I fell asleep to the rumble of thunder, the patter of rain on the roof, the occasional distant flash of lightening… and woke to the sound of birds chirping while the sunshine streamed in my window. Spring Bliss!

See Yesterday, my photo blog, for some recent pictures. I’ll be updating it later today.

Mixed emotions on the homestead

I’m sure true homesteaders might take exception to my use of the word homestead to describe our efforts here on our rental property, but it’s all part of our effort to work toward becoming more self-sufficient and resourceful. So to us, it’s our homestead.

This afternoon, I had a terrific time in the garden. I’ll interrupt myself to acknowledge that that might sound crazy. If you had told me even last summer that those words would be typed by my fingers, I would’ve thought you were lacking in the marbles department. But I feel like I’ve discovered something wonderful. The whole process of planning, planting, weeding, tending… I love it. Some parts of the process are obviously more fun than others. But it is such a rewarding journey.

I spent some time clearing weeds around our tomato plants, staking ones that needed additional support (incidentally, in the future, the plan is to stake from the beginning and forget the cages), and trimming some of the lower branches that were sucking energy from growing tomatoes.

The corn patch is doing well, and the Blessings have it almost all weeded. I don’t believe I explained my acute arthritis flare up last week… Basically, we had hoped that the corn would outpace the weeds in the corn patch. Well, the weeds were about to take the lead, so last Monday I attacked them with a vengeance… and discovered that really tall weeds take a lot of work to pull. My hands swelled up and hurt like crazy for a couple days. So finishing the corn patch weeding is now the task of younger and sprier hands.

Miscellaneous other garden updates – Our summer squash and zucchini are looking fantastic! There are actually several itty bitty squash and zucchini growing now, and it’s exciting to see them. I’ve been working the last couple of days moving around our cardboard mulch (love that!), since the places where I placed the cardboard originally are utterly weed free now. Very cool. Still lots of places where I didn’t have enough cardboard or where cardboard wouldn’t fit well, but I’m definitely pleased with the results.

I have a long list of things I need to do in the garden, but as I sat staking and caring for tomatoes, listing to my man running the weed-eater around the yard, I was filled with joy and excitement over the learning that we’re doing and the progress that we’re making.

And then Josiah called from the chicken coop, “Mom, there are only four chicks in the pen, and one of them is limping!”

I finished the tomato plant I was working on, and called to Jonathan on my way to the chicken coop. We arrived to find that Josiah was unfortunately correct. We had gone from 7 chicks to 4.

After checking on the remaining chicks, we set about trying to figure out what had gotten the chicks, or, more importantly, how it had gotten them. The pen where the chicks have been living is attached to the chicken coop, and seemed pretty secure. Jonathan checked all along the base and found a spot where a board was pulled away and a predator could have entered. The strange thing was that there were no feathers… but Jonathan got busy clearing out around the pen and strengthening that weak area. It looks so much better now!

As he used the weed-eater on the back side of the pen (I think he figured he didn’t want to leave any hiding spots for a predator), Jonathan discovered some feathers. Apparently, something had climbed the side of the pen and gotten in a small opening in the chicken wire that covers the top. Not as secure as we had thought… at least not for chickens not yet full grown.

When all was said and done (at least for tonight), we decided to put the four remaining chicks in the duck pen. One has an injured leg, and one has lost an eye. They are just too small to be accepted by the full-grown chickens, which makes it difficult to put them in the coop at night for safety. The ducks weren’t thrilled, but I think we found a workable arrangement, with a spot for the chicks to roost out of the ducks’ way. Hopefully they’ll adjust well, and since the ducks spend most of the day up at the pond, they will all get some space.

So, I suppose it was a good reality check for us, and a reminder that we still have loads to learn. A disappointing reality check, but it’s kind of like the poem that urges us to be thankful for laundry, because we have clothes to wear; to be thankful for dirty toilets, because we have indoor plumbing; etc. I’m deeply thankful that we have the opportunity to do many new things this year – plant and tend a garden, have chickens, have ducks, take care of a 10 acre piece of property, etc. We have much to be thankful for, and I’m eager to continue the learning experience.

Quite a day

Papa and Mama Byrd are staying at the lovely Traxler “Bed and Breakfast” this week while they visit. It’s a nice way for them to visit us and some dear friends at the same time. Yesterday when they were getting close to our place, their Suburban started overheating. Not a good sign! They nursed it along and got it here, then Papa and Jonathan tried a bunch of stuff to get it to stay cool. Unfortunately, it kept overheating. They wound up spending the night here last night – yay for late night games! – and having it towed in today.

Once they left with the tow truck this morning, it was time to get busy in the garden! It’s been too wet to finish my planting, but it’s been a terrific time for the weeds to grow. Ugh. So today I had lots of weeding and planting to do. I also finally got the various areas staked and “fenced off” with string. Next year, this will be the first thing I do after tilling!

I got all of the seeds planted except the winter squash. We’ll have pie pumpkins, mini pumpkins, and butternut squash (drool…), but I wasn’t sure how big of a “hill” they needed, so today I just marked where the hills will be.

After the seeds are all in, the next thing to plant will be tomatoes and peppers. We also have some rhubarb and asparagus to plant, but since those are perennials, I’m not sure where I’ll put them.

Anyway, several hours and lots of dirt and sunshine later, I was glad to take a shower and relax a bit! Here is the evidence of my day’s labor (I didn’t take any pictures of all the dirt and sun that got on me!):