Monday, November 24, 2014

Winter Weather Advisory= Time to Start a Garden

The National Weather Service in Sterling Virginia.... 
Has issued a ***Winter Weather Advisory***....

QUICK... 
Your probably thinking get the toilet paper... get the milk... 
Here at the Homestead we say QUICK Plant a garden....


Mom called this afternoon insisting she needed Ruthie's "help" to make some Thanksgiving Treats... So I jumped at the chance to work in the garden a bit before we get up to 5 inches of snow later this week. With 70 degree temperatures here in Maryland today, I jumped at the chance to get my cold frames up and running  as this may be the last glimpse of growing weather I see for the foreseeable future...



A cold frame is super simple and any homeowner can quickly build one.Dad built some for mom in their lean times their 1st few years of marriage so I wanted to give it a shot myself. I bartered with Dad that I would do the Wright Farm chores tonight if I could borrow the truck, have those old windows in the shed, and 5 bales of straw....

There is something special about a rickety old farm truck... the scratched CD on repeat in the radio tells me Kelly was at the wheel not long before me, and I am always in awe of the myriad of varmint slaying  objects, animal health supplies, and the fact that you always come out of that truck dirtier than when you got in it...



Snug against the foundation of our 1890's farm house I took old storm windows and put them over a "frame" made from straw bales. The straw acts as insulated walls,  holding in the warm sun that the old windows let through.It's that simple... I then rescued the last of my standing herb plants a sage, and a parsley and moved them to their winter abode, scratched the dirt a bit and planted some lettuce and some spinach. This is on the sunny side of the house so it will stay nice and toasty when that warm sun hits it for the better part of the day, and if all is right in a few weeks I'll have fresh table greens!

The last of the Sage I harvested next to the wood stove onto my vintage drying rack Nate got me at a yard sale for my birthday. I so love that he knows  that I'm all about the practical and that yard sale gifts fit perfectly into our budget :) Sage is an essential ingredient in our deer meat we grind each year so this will all get put to good use come deer season. More on that later...

As for me...
I've moved to a warmer climate inside my cold frames.... come get me in the spring...

With love and sage,

AVR

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Homestead Engineer...

4 months ago we made an EPIC decision... Nate quit his job to become our full time Homestead Engineer,the title we give since "stay at home dad," doesn't quite do justice to what it takes to be at the mercy of a 100+ year old farmhouse, a hungry wood stove, 2 dogs, 10 chickens, 3 turkeys, 20 cows, oh... and  1 wide eyed little girl.

We had priced daycare... and the monetary price tag would be almost all of Nate's monthly pay, but the emotional price tag of a stranger with our child 9 hours a day, 10 months a year, with values that would probably not be the same as ours... that was not a price we were willing to pay! 


As I like to say... She's only going to be little once, we've only got 1 shot to do it right! Most importantly,I want her to live at a child's pace, not my pace!


To say we live on a shoestring is an understatement... it's more like used dental floss... a little frayed, and flavorless at times... but we get the job done!







I must admit though that every single sacrifice... every time I don't have even the change to stop for a coffee, 
or the car gas tank isn't just on E, it's on LOW E... 

I just need pictures like this to remind me why we chose this path.

Feeding Milk Cows with Gramp
Playing with Daddy on the Chesapeake Bay

Checking Tobacco with Auntie the Great
Feeding a new litter of pigs with Aunt Kelly
                                                                        
Helping excavate for the new silo.

I was a blessed little girl to know the love of my grandparents, and had I known then that they would all be gone by the time I was in my early 20's there is no doubt I would have re-prioritized. I want Ruth to know that love and that adventure that only comes from Grandparents... and lucky for her Great Grandparents too! In fact each week Ruthie has a lunch date with her Great Grandparents a treat she looks forward to while jumping yelling "MOM MOM, MOM MOM!" when she realizes that today is the day.



They always say that when you become a parent you want to give your child the World.... In my heart I am 1000% convinced that our sacrifices for her to be able to stay at home with Nate are giving her the world, allowing her to see the world, experience the world, taste, touch, smell, and laugh at the world... 



The chronicles of our journey continue and there is no way I'd rather spend it than here at 2950 with The Foreman (Ruth), & my beloved Homestead Engineer (Nate)!

Much Love!

AVR

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Partially Hydroginated... Totally No THANKS!

So.. I got to thinking a lot what I put into my body when I was busy growing Ruth. I read every label... Including this one. I have taught phonics for 8 years... I can't pronounce half of this CRAP! Sooo....
Goodbye!

A few simple natural ingredients and you can have coffee creamer that will make you NEVER go back to that other plastic disaster! It is important to note that as a dairy farmer's daughter I have a fundamental problem with calling it Almond Milk... An almond does not have a mammary system. So it's Almond Juice in our house, and YES I do re-write it in Sharpie on every single carton. 
My favorite Creamer is Caramel Extract, Coco Powder, Raw Stevia, and Almond Milk Juice. 
Grab and empty Mason Jar. Add 1/2 teaspoon Coco Powder
A splash of extract. You could use Almond, Hazelnut, Vanilla, Peppermint you name it! Then put in about 2-3 tablespoons of Almond Milk Juice.
Give her a good shake...
Brew you coffee accordingly. I use my beloved Kurig, and put it in my FAVORITE mug. I have an EXTREME love of Polish Pottery. It's probably because my Dad  who rarely leaves the farm goes out every year to hand selects every piece for me each Christmas. 
It's art you can cook and eat on and  with. (More on this later) 
And then... add to your coffee.. and ENJOY you breakfast! YES I put my creamer in my Polish Pottery Cow Creamer! 

For those of you who are nutrition conscious this creamer is also a great option. This creamer comes in at under 20 calories for the whole serving, and it's Sugar Free, and Processed free, and most importantly I can pronounce everything that's in it!

Until next time I'm about to sit down and enjoy this yummy treat!
~AVR~

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

LOVE.HONOR.CHERISH.... that means his stuff too!

If you have a husband or any man in your life you know he has "that box," you know the one... he probably came with it or his mother is in the process of delivering it to you house as we speak! 

Somewhere in a mysterious dark corner of your home it's collecting dust, and inside are his worldly childhood possessions.. 

NJR is no different he too came with such a box. In fact that box, his dog Max, and a framed Ravens photo were the only things he brought with him when he became my cohabitant  at 2950. Our wedding vows say to LOVE, HONOR and CHERISH... I assume this also applies to that box.



Here it is... straight from "the box," NJR's travel league baseball uniform from his High School years... He always wore the trusty #56 whether in football, baseball or basketball, so #56 is truly sentimental for the man of the house... Let's face it NJR your not going to EVER wear that again... so what to do what to do...LOVE.HONOR.CHERISH.


1- Goodwill Pillow... $4.00
1- Raggedy old uniform
1- Inspired amazing wife on a mission 
to remove clutter from our home ;0)

 30 minutes on the sewing machine.. 


And now his faithful uniform is in a place of honor our couch. I must admit as I sewed I could see the blood stains and grass stains that held the many stories and memories as to why that old thing probably found it's way to that box in the first place.
Rather than sew the buttons shut I left them buttonable....that is how we'll get the pillow in and out in order to wash it as needed...

As for the rest of the uniform.. I did what every woman does with some things in that box... I buried it in the bottom of the trash can... HA!

LOVE.HONOR.CHERISH.
~AVR~

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

AVR Bread Chronicles... The tales of Yeast Break Anonymous...

Hello... My Name is Amy and I can't make Yest bread... Hi Amy....

For those who follow my Facebook rants.. for years I've been attempting and failing at making yeast bread. It generally ends up as a hockey puck that we eat some of out of obligation and then pass on to "The Don" our Rooster and his lady friends. I have a bread machine. I do like it, but let's face it bread machine bread is NO yeast bread... 

So last week I put it out to my Facebook friends. So at the suggestion of my good pal Ashley Herz I gave this Food.Com recipe for artisan bread that required NO kneading and claimed to only take 5 minutes... that got my attention.

This is one drafty old farmhouse and on a day when my first glance at the thermometer read -10 as Dad helped me battle frozen pipes I thought Soup..
. and Bread... oh bread...

So I gave the recipe a try.

It was fast just like the recipe said it would be... and for once the dough did what it said it would, rose, fell and filled the pan!!! I like to do a mixture of whole wheat and white flour. So that's why it's a little odd color and made it probably more dense.
And sure enough....



 Bread happened!

What I've learned "Artisan" is cook speak for "Shit that's really ugly but boy is it good!" I ate more than my share with Dad's honey and butter... AHHH it was deeelish!

It made 3 loafs and when Nate got home a second one ( don't know where the 1st one went) vanished with a big bowl of chicken soup..
My ultimate goal is to find a recipe I can make each week to replace our bread purchase from the store.

I give this recipe 4 VR's (stars), it was super easy, and crusty which I LOVE and had the option to refrigerate some of the dough for later.... but my quest continues for the best yeast bread I can possibly make... Please send your suggestions! 

~AVR
Bread Chemist


Friday, January 3, 2014

Deer Hunting is for the Birds...

In 2014 our goals are to become even more self sufficient living more from the land... Deer hunting is one way we do... There are those who scoff at the idea of hunting... Deer are beautiful creatures, but just like any population they need to be managed, and if you've seen what they can do to a car or a soybean field I think you'd agree we could use a few less...  

As we think about becoming more self reliant deer hunting is a way for our family to bring home natural food that was grown here on our land, it is lean and healthy and never steps foot in any kind of processing plant. Regardless of your views on hunting there is something neat about being able to go out into nature and provide for your family. 


Nate has become quite the hunter and already this year on Crop Damage Permits and during regular season has put 5 deer in our freezer. This is his 8 point from last season and to be honest we don't even know where the rack went.. we put it out for the foxes.. Let's face it... when you are harvesting deer for food for your family a rack is not something that matters. In fact if you had our choice we'd prefer a young yearling because of the meat quality...

Nate and I cut the deer up ourselves and use Leslie Wright's
100 year old knives and meat grinder and meat saws to get the job done.


In an effort to honor what we killed and make the most of every piece of the animal I decided to give making homemade suet a try. If you know my Nate he is a total Bird Nerd and we go through POUNDS of bird seed each winter. Because of this we enjoy Indigo Buntings, Blue Birds, and even a rare albino Sparrow as guests to our yard.  
 I began by taking the tallow/ back fat from the deer. If you wanted to try this at home you can use tallow bought from the butcher.

Then ground it into a meat fat paste... less gross than it sounds in real life I promise!
I then rendered it in my trusting canning pot from the Goodwill... turning it into the consistency of bacon fat. 



While it was still warm I added a jar of Natural Peanut Butter and a heaping helping of birdseed.

Then I re purposed some old coffee mugs and filled them with the mixture and popped them into the freezer mainly to keep the critters out of them.
I hung them on our usual spot and on this snowy day I got to enjoy the show.


You don't have to agree with hunting, but I'm sure we can all agree that nature is a pretty amazing thing and being able to enjoy it is one of the greatest blessings we have here at 2950.

Until next time... happy bird nerding... 
~AVR~

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

13 for 13... 13 Pictures that best depict 2013.



We bought ourselves a camper for adventures to abound!

We made a BIG announcement that 
would change the world forever!



 We adopted aspects of a "homestead lifestyle" raising our own chicks and hens....

 And... enough turkey for 70 people 
to enjoy on Thanksgiving!



 We drown some worms and caught some amazing sunrises!

We Steamed into History and made local history on Ol 17 traveling the line like Lincoln did!


 And waited patiently... well sort of... for the newest arrival.


 After 9 months and 3 days of labor. With An all natural delivery and amazing doula We welcomed Ruth Kelly Roland the most amazing little human we could have asked for!


 And turned Dan and Karen Vaughan into Mammaw and Grandpa for the 1st time!

A second Master's Degree arrived!



We learned to smile! A LOT!

Fell in love with our simple life as a family of 3....



Now we ponder... What will 2014 bring! 


Happy 2014 from Richardson Lane
AVR, NJR, RKR