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Catching up…

Well, it’s been a month since I found my way over here, and I am finally finding time to catch up. A couple months ago I started acupuncture due to some health issues I am struggling with. Since the first visit, I have felt amazing changes in my body and mind every day. I have not had as much sustainable energy since I was a teen. However, since I have many years of exhaustion to make up for, I have not been able to sit still at the computer long enough to write a new blog post. So, today here I sit. I have spent the last several weeks getting the rest of this house unpacked, and getting the three of us wiggled in to this space….it has been too long coming. It has been a hugely productive month, and now school is in session and I am excited for the productivity to come. In the last month, I have managed to make two quilts, ten strands of beads, and two up-cycled candle-holders. I have made three types of Jelly and canned them, as well as some soup, which I am a little nervous about because as my first canning experience I am not positive that it was a successful. I got a lot of the stuff done that I have been meaning to for the last two years…and that is a great feeling. I have been doing lots of baking and cooking, which I really, really enjoy, as does my family.

The garden has been quite productive. I have beans and peas and carrots coming out my ears….and the raspberries. Oh man, we put up a lot of raspberries, which works out nicely because my son will eat frozen fruit with cream on it all day long. I have been making fudge and cookies. I found a recipe on another blog for some delicious cookies, made with a chocolate cake mix. Since no one in our home is a big fan of cake, this has been a huge blessing…..as we somehow have an abundance of cake mixes in our cupboards. As my dear hubby days “Best cake I have ever had”.

The tomato and pepper plants are ridiculously prolific, and I can’t imagine how we are gonna eat all those peppers in the course of a year. I make a lot of homemade chilli and spaghetti sauce, so the tomatoes will get eaten up no problem, but looks like all the neighbors are gonna be eating peppers this winter. I even managed to successfully grow cantaloupe here in my short season garden. Tires…that was the trick to success. I assume it is the warmth in the tires that made them grow so prolifically. The tires also raised them up off the ground. I grew them in stacks of tires two high, and not one melon is sitting in the dirt rotting on the underside! I am sold on growing melons and squash type plants in tires from now on! I can’t wait till I live on land that I own so that I can grow whatever I want, in whatever container I want, whenever I want.

We have a small rural home, right outside of town, rented from an elderly farmer who is very stuck in his ways. He gave me a big lecture about how vegetables are not meant to be grown close to the house, they are not meant to be grown in containers, and I am watering all wrong…plus, it’s way too late for any crops planted after may or June, so he is convinced that my second succession crops will fail….  My dirt is too rich and I haven’t fed my plants enough.  The old grouch just complained about every aspect of my non-traditional, non-square, too close to the house, garden. I was so irritated with him for days, but I figure I will show him…When my cool season succession crops come up, I will take him a big basket of goodies (he is, after all, a ninety year old widower), and it can’t hurt to share my abundance with him. I try to just let it roll off my shoulders when his negativity overflows into my bubble, but this time I stewed for a few days. When I finally own my own property, I will have an entire row of tires set up. They work great for anything that loves warm soil, and they hold water great. I highly recommend trying some “tire gardening”. Because the warm season crops love the tires so much, I want to figure out a way to make covers for the tires, but they are gonna have to be pretty big, because by now, the gourds are pretty large. The temps got into the thirties this week, and I was worried about them every night. They are not done yet, they need a few more weeks, if they can just get through this cold snap.

I am ready for Fall. I am ready to start tearing down some of the garden stuff that’s done, and rounding up and bringing in the stuff that doesn’t fit in my tiny greenhouse. I look forward to the cooler temps and the craftier season. I spend most of my summer keeping up with my very social husband, and tending the garden. I look forward to the slower paced cool seasons, when I can spend time focusing on projects in my home and my craft surplus for the spring farmers markets.

I especially look forward to the routine of “school season”. We are wound down and in bed by close to the same time every night. I enjoy getting up at five am to walk my mutts before getting the child and hubby up for the day. I start the coffee, walk the dogs, get the boys up, and make breakfast. I feed the boys and dogs, get the laundry started for the day and make sure the dishwasher is empty for the day. By then, the boys are heading out the door, and I now have an opportunity to spend an hour doing Bible Study while drinking my coffee and waiting for the laundry to be ready to change. Once Bible Study/quiet time is done, I head to the chore list and start working on projects or chores I want to accomplish for the day. I have found that my motivation for chores in the afternoon is lacking, so I spend that time working on writing, research, crafts, gardening, baking…things I really enjoy. As dinnertime approaches, I get that ready and then wait for my boys to come home. I love when I have had a ridiculously productive day and they both notice (I am pretty spoiled in this department, as they do seem to notice). After dinner, I clean up the kitchen, put away food, and water the garden. Get young one ready for bed, and get the dogs cared for for the evening. I love the part of night when everyone winds down and I can sit with my journal and spill my thoughts for the day. I love having bedtime routines and having my clothes set out for the next morning before I go to bed. Somehow, I can’t manage this routine in the harried days of summer….and it is welcome relief from the chaos that ensues when we go go go too much for too long, for my tastes anyway.

We moved the sewing table out of the too small office, and now everything fits better, and I have better access to my sewing machine all the time. This makes life much, much easier. I look forward to a very productive craft and sewing year. I have been keeping my eye out for inexpensive material….I even found two yard swatches at Wal-mart last week for a dollar a piece! Score one for the craft budget there!

I finally got the SD card cleared from my camera, so maybe now I can start taking some photos of all these great projects I am working on and sharing them with you. Meanwhile, I guess you are stuck with your imagination. I have been successfully saving money from my nanny job to buy craft supplies, and I have been thinking about looking for a part time job in a craft store around here, or a bead store…. just a few hours a week. Not sure if I could pull it off or not. Guess we shall see how school goes for my son this year. Really, I just want to make stuff and sell it more than anything. I don’t need much income, but a little would be helpful.

I also want to go through all my books…I have so many books. I would like to trade them at the bookstore for some used books that I would rather have. I own tons and tons of books I will never read again. Why not trade them for some I have been longing to have, like that beekeeping book, or that Hobby farm book I have been eying. There are tons of craft books at that particular store that I would love to bring home. I want to make several binders, from all types of articles and information I have collected on all types of subjects. Cooking, crafts, gardening, household management…..it’s pretty ridiculous, my obsession with organizing things in binders…Ugh. Well, I have chatted long enough for today. Have a blessed evening. Until next time…

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Blueberry muffins

Tonight, I went to allrecipes.com and found a recipe called “to die for blueberry muffins”. They are cooling on the stove right now and I can’t wait to try one! I harvested my first radish of the season and a baby carrot that really was premature but I wanted to call it a baby carrot for harvest sake. Also made some pudding pops…remember those. They were so yummy. I can only hope my homemade ones are as good. I am still in that weird daydreamy place. I so desperately wish that the sun would come out and stay or at least some heat. My poor veggies are drowning. I am in serious need of sunlight. I just don’t function well when the sun doesn’t show. I am having no problem making lists of things I want or need to accomplish….what I am having trouble with is following through with those lists. I have garden stuff, household projects and chores, and paperwork type responsibilities, and really, I just want to daydream about future ownership of land. I cannot imagine how to get there, just have faith that God has a plan for the Rescue Ranch. I have no desire to do the little projects and tasks because I am focused on the big picture…I am sure that if I could focus on those small projects, maybe I could get to that homestead. I am quite ambitious about the urban homesteading but I really look forward to the Rescue Ranch being in operation. I look forward to a reason to be up early in the morning. I love early mornings but it is way to easy to hit snooze when there are no immediate responsibilities. It’s pretty amazing when I look back at how the little details all point to ranch skills. I could never have seen that in my future years ago. I look forward to doing God’s work on a business level. Really, I think I feel like I need a purpose bigger than what I feel I have now, and that I long for the stay at home mom with a job role. I want a purpose bigger than my tiny little family. I long for the opportunity to show others the love of Jesus through caring and compassionate works. Not because I have to but because I wish that everyone could feel the quiet joy that comes from loving Jesus and understanding unconditional love. I look forward to hostessing a Bible study group at the rescue ranch one night a week, and a clothing closet for people in need. I look forward to helping those who need help find their way, and hopefully watching others fall in love with God the way I have. I am really excited about getting together a group of volunteers and dropping off fresh veggie boxes to those in need… I am excited and focused on the future. How do I focus on now so I can get to the future?

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Daydreaming

Oh it’s so late and I should be in bed, but I am in this daydreamy place and I can’t seem to get my thoughts to quit whirlin’ so I guess I am going to daydream here for a bit. It starts with just one simple thought about my new plants that just arrived, and it spirals into a web of daydreams so entangles that I can barely sort it all out. I think of a bigger greenhouse, and permanent fruit beds…..trees, bushes. I start to think about a day when I can build a hoophouse that is large enough to garden in, rather than my little, great place to start seeds early, greenhouse. Then I start thinking about how much that will cost and how to get there. That takes me to a place where I start dwelling on writing a book and making up my garden planners. Thinking of writing a book and designing my garden planners takes me back to a place where I am daydreaming about buying a home again. Its a vicious cycle. Buying a home makes me think of the wonderful garden I will have one day, and the cute little garden shed I will buy, and the larger greenhouse and sunrooms…..

Permanence. This place is temporary. I don’t think we will live here forever, and every time I plant a bush or other perennial in the ground I wonder how long we will live here, on this rented piece of property. I wonder if we will move in the spring or fall and if I will have to leave them all behind. I think of it as training time. By the time I have my little plot of owned land, I will have lots of gardening skills. This rain may never stop, and then it won’t matter anyway, cause if things keep going this way, I wont be able to garden much longer anyway. I have responsibilities that I cannot focus on because I just want want get to that place so badly. I imagine it is like when you desperately want your baby to walk, only to realize time goes to fast and you want them little again. I used to daydream about a ranch full of animals, but that dream has changed slightly. I dream of a ranch on which I can house animals in addition to doing whatever other work God chooses for me. The Rocky Mountain Rescue Ranch is going to be a beautiful thing. I believe it is what God has planned for me. Unfortunately I think I have to write a book to get it and I am in no place to do that at the moment. Well, I may be, but if so, I am having a heck of a time focusing on it. I think I am supposed to write a book about shame. I have also been asked to write a book on raising children with PTSD. Oh now that is a high bar….I am feeling a little unworthy of that task, but the therapist who asked me must have had some faith in me.  I can imagine sitting on my porch in my rocker writing to my hearts content. I cannot imagine the other order. My whole life I pictured going down a road that led me to a little secluded piece of land where I could write. I never imagined writing would be the path to that piece of solitude, but recently it seems to have been presented to me that that is indeed the answer.

I don’t know how to make myself do the research. There is always something else to do. I have tried scheduling in writing times, but just cant seem to stay focused on the task at hand. Writers block….better labeled researchers block? I guess I should pray about it. I was quite focused in the beginning, but now it is hard to prioritize time for research and writing. I love to do research about all types of stuff….

I earn a little money here and there doing stuff like babysitting, but this is the first time in my life I have been a stay at home mom and dependent on someone else’s income. That is difficult for me. I have been fairly self sufficient most of my life. It is good for me to earn a little, but what I really want is to earn enough to make a difference. I have spent the last twenty years trying to figure out how to become self sufficient with my many skills. It seems as though you have to specialize in one thing to make enough money to go out and buy big houses to do God’s work, and I often feel like my crafts and writing are nothing, never gonna get me there. Other times I really think I can earn enough money doing things like creating, that will get us there slowly but surely (that is the only real way to get ahead right?). I was always taught, easy come, easy go, so I assume that I am not gonna win a lottery (I suppose you gotta play to win). I get so distracted when I start trying to figure out what to do next…

My house has taken forever to make sense of, but it is finally getting there. I have been successfully managing chores and gardening, and it gets better everyday. Now if I could just get baking, crafts, and writing in there, I would have some completeness going on, and be earning. My “new” husband and I are finally, after almost a year, learning how to live together. It has been an uphill battle but we grow closer everyday. It is amazing how different two people can be and still be so in love with each other. As each day goes by, and I get better at managing a whole family rather than just my child and I. Each day, my husband and I get better at understanding and reading each other. It even occurred to me the other day that I might want to go back to college. I have not had that thought in such a long time. It was right outta left field. I don’t think so though…not right now anyway.

I wish I could get all the things done every day that I want to. I think I need to go back to writing my nightly lists before bed so that I can focus on the next day and work through some of the projects that I have been procrastinating. I am having the hardest time focusing. I hung all the chore charts so hubby and son could help keep the house clean, but that seems to have robbed me of the precious lists that I have become so dependent on in my lifetime. I am gonna go write a list for tomorrow. ‘ Night

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Feeling Drippy

Ugh! Today is a weather day. It has been rainy and dreary here now for months…..Not to mention that last summer and the summer before were also both quite wet and dreary. If I wanted to live in the rain forest I would have moved to Washington for Pete’s sake! Our ground is so waterlogged that most of the seeds won’t even germinate, not to mention, in these mountain altitudes, when there is no sun, there is little heat. So this week we get fifty degree days and rain. I looked at the ten day forecast yesterday and Tuesday, June 14th is the next day they have predicted sun! My poor, poor peppers and tomatoes do not know what to do with all of this stinkin rain!

A couple days of clouds quickly steals the ambition right out from under me and I just want to cover my head till the sun comes out…..

Blue light receptors or something…. nonetheless, I get a bit grumpy and cynical when the sun hides for days. Oh, don’t get me wrong.  I have plenty of drive and motivation, but a complete lack of ambition and focus. I can make lists all day long of the things I want to accomplish despite the dreary weather, but when I look at them and pick a chore, I wander aimlessly around avoiding any real projects.

We have it much better than ND. Those poor folks are drowning in our runoff….. My prayers are with ya folks! We ALL want it to STOP RAINING!  Anymore it seems like all April showers bring, is more May showers, and June Showers…is it ever gonna stop?

Tomorrow is my son’s last day of school for the year. I look forward to some quality time with him this summer. The other day he told me that his best friend (who attends church with us), has decided that he believes in the Egyptian gods, and that he is sad because he really wants his friend to remember Jesus before the end comes. He is worried about missing his friend in heaven. Is that not a sweet thought from a twelve year old boy? All I can do is pray for his dear friend, and hope he finds his way back. Children are so amazing!

I can’t wait for this blog to grow into a large enough domain that I actually have a reason to make tabs, and keep track of the seasons. I sure wish the weather would dry up enough for me to go out and get some photos. I did take some of the front bed, which is going to be a perennial bed. Before pictures from last week. I have since dropped several pots of perennial herb seeds down into the soil, of which, a few have germinated. We might get a spot of sun tomorrow, I will try for some new photos of the herb pots pre growth.

Before I was a Christian, long long before, I often spent time online reading blogs about crafts, sustainable living, and gardening. It seems like I felt like I was constantly coming across Christian sustainability web pages and blogs. By this I mean web pages published or blogs maintained by Christians who are mostly or completely self sufficient. Off the grid I suppose. Now, I go looking for those blogs and I cannot find much. What’s up with that?

My boy wants meatloaf…I want to be lazy, meatloaf it is then. Funny how much you will do for your children. I take way better care of him than I do myself. I insist he eat healthy meals when I can barely stomach them (or maybe chew, can’t wait to get these stinkin teeth fixed). I insist he have a sleep routine when I cannot establish one. I insist he go to the dentist, while I myself procrastinate…. hmmm? Whats up with that?

I am the volunteer coordinator for the local Spay/Neuter task force. Three times a year we hold a local event during which we Spay/Neuter almost two hundred low-income animals for free. I live for this event. It puts some worth into my otherwise, somewhat boring life. This particular event, we happened to schedule for what appears to be vacation week. Five of my regular volunteers have called me to tell me that they will be on vacation for that week! Oh Crap!   Not quite in panic mode but not really comfortable either!

I find that i go through a cycle of feeling both blessed by where I am in life and how far I have come, and feeling quite stagnant. It really feels, sometimes, like my life is just a series of naps, chores, and snacks. I desperately wish that my husband and son would help me keep our house clean without me having to get angry or sad. Most of the time when I get angry or sad, they help me out for a day or two, and then right back to the same old routine. I clean all week, and then we trash the place on weekends. It sucks to feel like I have no real worth except to clean up and feed after my husband and son. I want to garden and craft and write a book. I want to take my dogs to the park on a routine basis. Ugh! I want some help. How many housewives feel this way? And yet, as meaningless as it all seems some days, I feel more blessed than I ever have…..Hmmm. Whats up with that?   I gotta go make meatloaf!

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R.I.P Stevia….and it was doing so well

I mourn the loss of my Stevia plants with a frustration and irritation. I have read all over the place that Stevia is hard to grow from seed, however, after searching for almost a month to find some seeds locally, I purchased a pack of ten measly seeds for almost four dollars! Are you kidding me, these things must be like gold. At that same time I also purchased a pack of Spearmint seeds, which for some reason, are also incredibly difficult to come by in this region. To my dismay, the Spearmint also contained very few seeds. I planted my little seeds and diligently cared for them as they sprouted and grew. As I read more I learned how lucky I was to have four strong little seedlings from those ten seeds I planted, and nearly all of the Spearmint seeds had germinated and I think I had eight or ten baby Spearmint plants as well. Tonight, the dumb-arse cat that I am cat-sitting, knocked down and killed all of those healthy little seedlings. They are smashed behind a greenhouse table and a window and any attempt I make to rescue them is going to result in their complete demise….so I must say so long, and hopefully I will find these seeds again. (clearance season on seeds, so I will rush out tomorrow and hope they are not all gone). I am irritated by a general lack of respect for my plants and garden by my visiting pets parents. Every single time someone brings a dog to my house, a plant gets destroyed. Now the visiting cat is joining the torture. I love animals so much, but I am tempted to just ask people to leave their animals home at this rate. Today alone, two different visiting pets managed to destroy over twenty five seedlings….Grr….Argh! How do I get my friends to understand how frustrating that is, how much time, energy, and money I put into raising those little things? I cannot get that time back. There is nothing I can do about the lost Brussels Sprouts and Stevia plants. I really put a lot of heart into them and as they are destroyed, I don’t think it’s cute the way your dog is standing in my raised bed! Please manage your pets or leave them home! Well, there is always next year I guess. I do still have a patient part of my that thinks maybe I can try purchasing greenhouse plants of theses varieties yet for this year, but they are so much more expensive, and so much less gratifying!

On a happier note, I had a fantastic day building gardening planners for one of my girlfriends and I. They started out identical, and we are gonna sit down and compare them in a year to see how we have modified them. I think that will be quite interesting really. I put in a few pertinent charts, and made is realistic for outside use by placing everything in sheet protectors. She was pretty excited to get hers, and I started prettying mine up as soon as I had a chance.

I am anxious for the holiday weekend to come and go. I am hoping that with the onset of the last frost date, we will also receive some good, hot, sunny weather. We have a gutter leak that drowned some of my little Cherry tomato babies the last two days. I hope they dry out. So far they are hanging in there, but if we don’t get some sun soon, they are gonna wither and dye. I am anxious to get out to the beds and finish up my planting in the next couple of weeks, and I look forward to experimenting with the greenhouse and succesion planting. Well, I guess that’s it for now, it’s late and I should be sleeping. ‘night.

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Gardening on my mind

I can’t get myself motivated for these menial indoor tasks. It has been raining for two months, it seems…..
Floods are everywhere and I have no ambition to do indoor chores. My greenhouse is finally erected and I cannot really do much outdoors. The last couple of weeks have been quite busy in the garden, when I get a break in the clouds. I cannot wait for it to warm up some so I can spend full days in the sun; so that my plants can get a break from some of this rain, and enjoy some of the hot Montana sun that they so love.
I spend countless rainy hours searching for solutions to my ant problem. They are not fire ants, but they are everywhere! I cannot figure out how to get rid of them, and I have yet to see an anthill. I have tried countless things, so far Grants Kills Ants have been the most successful thing, but they are hard to find around here. Cinnamon seemed to do the trick when I spread it over my garden, but when I pulled up my radishes, I was quite dismayed to see that the ants had just gone under the soil. Alas, they eat my radishes every year without fail! I have moved the radishes, I have sprayed pesticides (much to my dismay), I have tried soap and water. Nothing seems to work. As far as I can tell I don’t have any sign of Aphids (I read that Aphids attract ants and that to get rid of the aphids would solve the ant problem). I have a new organic trick I read about as a general pesticide. It is a concoction of onion and garlic that I chopped up and put in a milk jug with water. I let it sit for a week and strained it, but it has not stopped raining long enough for me to apply it. Also, it seems I would have to make quite a lot of this to soak my whole garden (as there do not seem to be any areas free of ants). I guess I have to stick with good ole grants stakes for now and hope I can find something natural to replace it with, or at least something that I have easier access to. I have just established a large garden, nearly free, thanks to my very resourceful husband, who was able to score me some really good used potting soil that I could improve some of my very clayey soil with. He was also able to get me some shipping crates that we were able to fill with some of this same free soil and square off for raised square foot beds. I have spent endless hours scouring books and the internet looking for frugal gardening ideas. I was also lucky enough to get a small greenhouse for mothers day from my wonderful son and husband. I am in garden heaven…with one exception, everything is flooded and we are looking at seven days of forecasted rain. In the course of this blog, I hope to share my adventures and learning experiences as a relatively “baby” gardener. As each season progresses, I become more and more interested in the details involved with gardening. I learn more about pests and disease, companion planting and crop seasons. This year I add a greenhouse to the mix. The adventure ahead of me is so exciting! For as long as I can remember, I have daydreamed about my little place in the country. I have wondered and waited and hoped and dreamed, but never imagined it would come true before me. Today, I sit here, on the edge of the country, looking at the flood in the cow pasture, and think how far I have come form those young city girl aspirations. I revel in the many blessings which I am surrounded by, and thank God for the many blessings and opportunities that have come my way! Today I realize that I have started my journey to self sustainability, or at least have learned to walk and taken a baby step or two. I hope to build this blog into a wealth of frugal information and curious journey. Won’t you meander with me, as I learn how to turn my semi-rural yard into a productive garden? I intend to learn to garden and harvest proficiently. I intend to process and preserve my harvest. I intend to live off of this bounty for most of the winter, and God willing, my husband has a good hunting season, we shall eat fairly inexpensively for the next several seasons. I love the idea of making homemade gifts out of garden goodies (like veggie baskets and herb vinegars and oils). I intend to gift seedlings to friends not blessed with greenhouses, and maybe one day when I can expand my little greenhouse I can consider farmers market as a way to share the wealth as well. I find myself daydreaming of the endless possibilities that this little greenhouse has opened up for me. I intend to square foot garden and container garden on this tiny little piece of land that I have available to me for now. I am greatly interested in growing a large perennial bed of herbs and I am also completely enthralled at the idea of companion planting and organic procedures. Frugal by nature, I love finding great ideas and sharing them with others. I can’t wait to share them with you! When the weather is less than pleasant, I love to work on my numerous craft projects and writing is always a favorite pastime. I find much more time for these activities in the winter, which can be quite long in Montana. For now, the clouds have dissipated and I find myself called to the garden, until next time…