Prepping the homestead for a road trip.

As I sit here, sipping my coffee and avoiding the inevitable and lengthy list of to-dos that must be done before Wednesday, Im wondering why we agreed to this trip in the first place. I’m leaving my garden and my animals for two whole weeks. I’ve given my self a head cold from the stress of it, a talent I’ve had since I was an adolescent going on any family vacation. Like really Q, chill out. We. Will. All. Survive. Operation ‘Plant as much as I can before Wednesday’ is behind schedule. I’m not done packing.. for five people. And I’ve lost my favorite essential oil roller..

but baby this vacation and I need each other! The chance to show my growing family the place I love so much. See the inside of my grandparents house one last time. To fish all day, swim and lay in the sun. To spend 16 days and 16 nights with Spencer, no work all play? Done and done. Buh-bye homestead I love, I’ll be back for you..

Everyone needs a vacation right? To get away from their reality and live differently for a bit?

For a homesteader, a vacation is a scary adventure with unpredictable outcomes. Will the garden die? Or get swarmed by bugs? Will my chickens get slaughtered by the resident coyotes? Or will my goose finally succeed and I come home to fresh goslings? There’s are so many unknowns.. lucky for us we have some great best friends who’ve been there and done that with us on all things homestead. Without them, this trip would not be possible. I don’t say that lightly, they are literally the only people I trust with my babies, both plant and animal. They’ll be watering my gardens with love and shepherding my feathered flock. And for that I say, thank you thank you thank you & amen!

Because everyone needs a vacation guys, even a homebody homesteader mama like me.

It’s not easy either. I feel a little crazy, dragging our little family halfway across the country. And I’m sure Spencer will be tearing me from the garden kicking and screaming come Wednesday morning. Maybe it’s not the best call to head out in the middle of June? Major planning and timely execution got us to this point. From installing drip irrigation in one garden, in ground irrigation repairs in the other, building a new chicken run & treating the flock for mites, planting hundreds of starts & thousands of seeds, and a whole lot of mulching everything in sight I think we’re going to be ok.

Maybe the shelling peas will rippen before we leave, maybe it’ll be after. And it’s ok. That’s the best benny of house-sitting for a gardener, you get to reap the harvest while they’re gone. And of what plenty there will be. I might miss out on peas, spinach, and kale. When I get back the cucumbers, watermelons, and pumpkins will be vining around, maybe the raspberries will be ready, and I’m sure we will be rolling in salad greens and radishes. And all the while we’ll be teaching our kids to swim, eating fresh caught fish, soaking up family time, and recharging our souls for this life we love.

Here I sit still sipping coffee, writing this when I really need to get back to it. But I’ll definitely finish my coffee first. Then I’ll be logging as many hours in my happy gardens as I can before departure.

Peace and Love, Q

Elderberry Syrup

This is straight up nature in a bottle guys. Only 5 super ingredients make up this immunity boosting syrup. Once a quite expensive remedy, elderberry syrup can now be made, by you, in your own home.

This time of year it’s all we can do to keep our families protected from not only the elements but the dreaded flu season. Is it just me or is there something going on with this glorified “flu” vaccine? Call me crazy but it’s not working. Since my oldest daughter was 2 I’ve taken my family on a journey of natural solutions. From DoTERRA essential oils to this sickness kicking syrup.

I source all my ingredients carefully making sure I find the best ingredients for my family. All of them can be found on Amazon and most can also be found at your local health food stores.

It takes only a short time to throw together and the aroma it puts off is strong and beautiful. It can be taken once daily as an immune supplement or every 2-3 hours when you’re sick. If you do take it as a daily supplement I suggest taking the weekends off as to let your immune system regulate itself. Best part is you can literally put this on your waffles at breakfast, ooOo or maybe crepes?

So here it is y’all enjoy!

  • 2/3 C dry whole elderberries
  • 3 1/2 C water
  • 2 TBS ginger root
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 C raw honey
  1. Add berries, water, and spices to saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover.
  3. Simmer 45-90 minutes or until cooked down by almost half. Remove from heat.
  4. Strain berries from liquid squishing the juice out of the berries as you go.
  5. When cool enough to handle, but not yet cold, add honey and stir until dissolved.
  6. Pour into glass jar/bottle and store in refrigerator.
  7. Dosage: children 1-2 tsp, adults 1-2 TBS

Pretty easy, eh? Let me know what you think about it. My kids love it, but some other don’t, even if it’s an acquired taste for you or your family, just know this stuff does only good for your body and works wonders on a stubborn cold. And it looks pretty dang cute in a jar like this in the fridge. I can’t tell you how many conversations have been started from this bottle of purple beauty.

Gotta get back to seed inventorying. Happy garden dreaming y’all!

Peace and Love,

Q

8 Free Seed-Starters

There’s no need to go break the bank on fancy seed trays. Up-cycle any of these for a quick and easy (and free) solution. Eventually I plan on buying a couple soil blockers in order to cut down on our waste and use of plastic, but until I can invest in that tool this is what we did this year. Check it out. 

  1. Milk cartons– these were empty epsom salt cartons we just cut the top off and filled with soil. 
  2. Toilet paper rolls– we save all our rolls for crafts or firestartes, and now see starters. Works great for peas since you can fill halfway and back fill as the sprouts grown taller. 
  3. Shallow boxes– this was my mother’s experiment and it worked amazing for sunflowers, and that’s just mulch from the chicken yard. 
  4. Shipping materials– fill with soil and plant. Boom. 
  5. Juice bottles– all did was cut off the top and added two drain holes. 
  6. Egg cartons— ever tried planting tomatoes in egg shells?And here’s a couple more options that I didn’t have the chance to try, though I have seen other folks find great success with also 
  7. Milk jugs– simply cut the jug in half and discard top half, poke some drain holes in the bottom and voila! 
  8. Coffee cans– coffee cans are great since they hold warmth quite well and can be reused many times. All you you need to do is take a hammer and a nail and add a few drain holes in the bottom. For an added effect only fill halfway with soil and cover it with plastic to retain temperature, sorta like a greenhouse.
  • One a side note: instead of buying more greenhouse seed trays I also started a great deal of our garden in paper cups and solo cups that we had lying around the house, saved a lot of money doing that folks!

As you can see, there’s no need to spend countless dollars year after year on expensive to buy cheaply made plastic seed trays. This is more sustainable and much more financially forgiving. Not to mention you will be cutting down on your household waste and reusing those paper/plastic/metal products. Most of the paper based ones can also be planted directly into the ground. Give it a try, what can you lose? And just keep planting seeds y’all!

Okra in the sunset.

Peace and Love

Q

    Homestead Plan 2017

    Holy cow where did last year go?
    We accomplished a lot in 2016 and failed at even more. 

    The onions I planted so the horses could trample them…
    We’re learning to grow and live more seasonally and to appreciate what we have while we have it. 

    Like all homesteaders this is a lesson that has been tough to learn. We wanted (and did) to dive right into the deep end. Some of our endeavors were successful and others a horrible tragedy. 

    My little chicken helper
    But not this year. We’re on a new property with a whole new lease on our homesteading dreams. 

    We have learned so much the last two years and it’s it so lucky you can take all your trials and tribulations with you, isn’t it? I don’t know what I would do without all the hands on hours I’ve had of trying to make things work. 

    But that’s just it, we can’t make things work in our favor all the time. Sometimes we just need to go with that flow. 

    And I gotta say that all homesteaders have one flaw, the fact that we have to learn it on our own. Am I right? A fellow steader can tell you all their stories and give warning after warning but you’ll still need to learn it for yourself.  

    Raised beds which grew so much food!
    This is most ardently true of us Gardner’s. Were cheap (frugal) and we’re ok with a little hard work and good ole fashion elbow grease. 
    So this year there’s lots to be done. 

    Here’s a little of what we have in store:

    • Build Justin Rhodes’ Chickshaw
    • Put away 60 broilers in freezer camp
    • Establish our crop garden
    • Build more garden spaces and soil– put those chooks to work!
    • Build a greenhouse
    • Can and freeze our harvest for winter (basically I want to grow enough veggies to sustain us through winter)
    • Add 30 laying hens
    • Grow 10 turkeys- also for freezer camp 
    • Build a hog pen
    • Expand meat rabbit project – build pasture pens
    • Put up 5 tons of hay for winter
    • Fence in and seed front pasture – horse grazing

    It’s a lot to get done and that’s just the big things… 

      we’ve got a lot of work ahead and I can’t way for this snow to melt so we can get started!

      Peace and Love…. and seed starts!

      Q

      A homestead school experiment for Ireland

      Summer Snipets. And What I Learned About Me. 

      We’ve been a little blog MIA lately enjoying all the sunshine! Here’s a little photo story of what’s been going on here on and off the Gardner Homestead. 

      Our hen Margox hatched our first ever batch of   homegrown chicks. All 7 chicks are growing up fast. 

      First time seeing those tiny feet!

      Spencer and I lucked out on some KID-FREE time and went to see Smash Mouth. Save to say I was wayyy more excited than my hubs. 

      Our little Murphy girl is a walking, running, babbling adorable toddler now. How did it happen so fast?!?

      Oh Ireland, my Ireland. Please stop growing up so darn fast! Love, Mom

      If we harvest nothing else, there’s always onions.

      Thank you to whichever previous tenant planted the beauties. This our third summer here, is the first year they’ve had a full bloom. 

      See that cute spud? Yeah he and his siblings froze to death in Mid-June. They’ve finally bounced back…

      Happy 4th of July from these Gardner girls. 

      What’s a homestead without a messy backyard full of chickens?

      This baby is chore partner, she’s always by my side (or on my back!)

      Kato’s first time packing. Deaf dogs need jobs to right?

      Getting lost in my hop jungle, our third season with these Willamette Hops is sure to be a big producer.  Can you say home brewed IPA? 

      Exploring the Metolius River trails with my tribe of toddlers and dogs. 

      My little Irish earthlings

      Symbiotic hiking partner, she’s a versatile baby. She gets a free ride, while providing never ending cuteness, drooly kisses, and keeps me in shape!

      Some of that 4th madness! Shhhh…

      I can’t survive a summer without these, my favorites!

      Exploring our natural world close at hand.

      Planting beans for nitrogen to feed the corn
      1/2 Farm girl 1/2 daddy’s little princess
      Giving some summer lovin’ to my favorites
      Ireland saw her first play, The Little Mermaid

      The peas, oh these lovely purple peas. 

      Weekly harvests are almost over.
      Ladder rack rabbit tractor? Oh, yeah!

      One thing I’ll never do again is plant the hops so close to the house. They’re a harbor for bugs and insects, some good and some bad, but all of them right at my back door 🙁


      Like I said, I knew there would be onions. So far we’ve harvested radishes, onions, lettuce, kale, zucchini, and shelling peas. 

      That’s just a little of what’s happened this summer. Trust me there’s more but I won’t bore you with it here. Head on over to IG to see our full homestead photo diary @thegardnerhome. 

      Oh yeah, and if I know anything about me it’s that I love summer, case and point for this short update. I’m spending more time with family, less time with technology, and that’s OK. Keep an eye out for some of our new projects and plans… YouTube Vlog? 

      No spoilers yet!

      What have you been up to on or off your homestead this season? 

      Peace and Love,

      Quincy