New Year, New Beginnings.

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So it has been since October since I wrote anything!! Sometimes life just gets in the way. But, with a new year comes new beginnings. New gardens, new recipes, new ideas with vlogging, new surprises. I’m excited for what the new year is going to bring.

So what has been happening on our little homestead these past few months? Well, we have downsized a lot in the house. It feels so cleansing to donate or sell off things you are not using. We have also added things that were “wants” to our home. For example, Zach bought me a Kitchen Aid mixer to help with our food prep. Let me tell you what a time saver this has been. I keep it right on my counter and use it often. We also got new appliances. I have washed dishes by hand for 6 people for a year and I must say, I will NEVER take a dishwasher for granted again!! We also got a new stove and refrigerator. We moved our fridge that was in our kitchen downstairs for extra storage because someone got membership to Costco!! Yes, this girl! I never realized how inefficient our stove was until we got a new one. Plus, it’s finally nice to have all 4 burners working!

Our journey to going completely gluten free became real about a month ago. Zach was the first to show signs of having issues years ago. I fed him gluten free, but the rest ate wheat. I wasn’t ready to give it up because it’s convenient. Then it was me with the issues with my foot which radiated up into my leg. So I quit gluten, but honestly would cheat every now and then. But when it started to effect my two daughters, I knew I needed to make a change. We started to notice my daughter was having bowel problems and would daily find herself in the bathroom sick. She also was tired all the time (probably because she wasn’t absorbing enough vitamins and minerals from her food). Our other daughter started to experience itching after she would eat gluten. It would get so bad she would cry and scratch her skin open. So we cut out gluten and you know what happened? The bowel problems went away and the itching stopped. They were more alert and active. So, was it gluten that was doing that to my girls? Well, to see if it as really the gluten, I gave them gluten again to see. Sure enough, the bowel problems came back, and the itching came back. But this time, my daughter was not only itchy but she actually broke out in a rash! I told my husband that was the straw that broke the camels back. We cut out wheat that day from everyone’s diet and haven’t looked back. After a good cry on how the heck I was going to do this with 6 people, let along with children who I swear invented the goldfish cracker, I wiped the tears and began baking. Because as a mother who wants what is best for my family and their health, I knew gluten was not one of them.

So that leads me to our garden. We got the new Baker’s Creek Seed Catalog. We will be placing our order within the next week. Our oldest daughter has shown a huge interest in saving and growing seeds. So this year she will be in charge of that.

The chickens are well and we will be adding a few more to our laying hens this spring. We have meat birds we are raising in the garage right now as we speak. Some may say that it is cruel to raise them in the garage and not on pasture. Trust me, if we had the meansĀ  we would do the same. But with limited space, this is the best we can do. They have a lot of room to run around and two huge windows that give them light. We keep heat lamps in there to keep them warm. They are happy! We also added to rabbits to the mix. We are excited for the compost for the garden!

As for surprises this year? Well, we will have to wait and see……

Poop Soup.

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WHAT? Yes, I said it. Poop Soup. Now don’t be scared, I don’t feed it to my children. But, I feed it to every plant that goes into my garden. When we plant our plants, before sticking the plant into the ground, we add some if this poop soup to the soil. We will also add some to the base of plants when needed. I’m talking about rabbit compost. Rosie, who we saved from death, serves a great purpose on our little farm. We have her back by the garden in an open bottom cage which allows her droppings to fall down below. We then collect them in a 5 gallon bucket and fill it 1/3 way with poop and the rest with water. Let it sit for a few days to work its magic. Then you take it and pour it around the base of the plant (avoiding lettuces or any root crops). You will see a difference overnight. Rabbit compost is full of nitrogen and phosphorus. It has brought plants back from the almost dead for us. Last year, we thought for sure we were going to lose our bean plants. So we decided to throw some “poop soup” on. And lo and behold they came back! I filled my freezer last year with the highest yield of beans we have ever seen. If you don’t have access to rabbits, ask around. I’m sure someone is willing to give you their rabbits poop. Or look online. Believe it or not, you can actually buy rabbit compost. Getting a free rabbit off of Craigslist is another option. They can live outdoors with the proper hutch and warmth. You can make the animal work for you. Also, rabbits are territorial creatures. Because we compost this way we never have a problem with the wild rabbits eating our garden. This year we had to put a fence around the garden because our dog Maggie now has access to the entire yard and has a distaste for the UPS truck.

Here is what you will need to make the compost tea:

5 gal bucket

Rabbit manure

Water

Long stick

Old cup

Add 1/3 manure, the rest water, stir, and let sit for a few days. Place at the base of plants.