A Small Family Thank You (& dreaming garden update)

Following Big Family Homestead (and others in the homestead community) has also given my husband and I a shared dream again that isn’t being crippled by our current finances or his job frustration.

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You guys, being married is hard.

Hard in ways that I never could have fathomed before we got married. Not hard in the screaming yelling ways (though we’ve had our share of that) but in the “we just aren’t connecting” ways. It takes time to be good at it, and when you master one thing you find another that needs work, or you’ve been so busy on mastering this that you have to backtrack and fix things you hadn’t been focused on.

Parenting is also hard in unexpected ways. It requires much patience and you can’t be assured of a good outcome until much much later.

Making a French Press of coffee instead of using yee olde drip pot w/pre ground dirt, also difficult, sometimes finnicky, more time consuming, and requiring patience.

It would seem that many good things in life are this way. So of course my weird little heart is starting to fall in love with our garden and dreams of a homestead of our own, where nearly everything is much work, not assured outcomes, and oh, also, this is how you feed yourselves.

It was in one of these difficult seasons of marriage that my husband and I realized we had no hobbies in common.  I like to sew, paint, write, read & cook. He likes to game, both tabletop & video, do gaming related things, and shoot. Our interests don’t overlap as much as we thought they did when we were dating.


So we found ourselves, five years in, with a tiny baby, having month leftover at the end of the money, overall pretty crazy about each other, and in agreement on The Big Things – religion, finances, parenting, politics (ish), and the overall quality of Vin Diesel films (Sci Fi yes, Cars no). But we didn’t have anything to *do* together. Gaming early on in our marriage was disastrous for many reasons I will not go into here. So we prayed.

And we thought. And we prayed. And we thought. And I stumbled upon these lovely people –

Brad & Christa of Big Family Homestead have been a huge encouragement to me, personally, and also kind of set us off onto the “eventually we want a homestead of our own” path. Husband has always wanted to be off grid, and I’ve always loved growing things, but we didn’t know/realize that there was a community for this, a cohesive term for the thing we both wanted but couldn’t name. We thought we were just weird. Maybe we are weird, but we’re not alone in the weirdness.

Big Family Homestead is very open about their homesteading journey and the realities of their life/finances/etc. Brad does short devotional type videos, and for someone who’s has issues with church, and is slowly dealing with that hurt and baggage, crawling her way back to the Body of Christ after being deeply hurt – it’s safe. He’s not telling me I’ll go to hell if I don’t do X Y and Z, but rather just saying “Oh hey fellow Believer, here’s a thought, perhaps you can think on this too”. Christa homeschools or has homeschooled their SEVEN children, which gives me hope that if she can handle seven (and not look like a hot mess all the time) I can probably, maybe, handle one, and not cripple her little mind. She also makes amazing breads, and I have taught myself to make Husband bread following their videos (Bread! Demystified. Woo!).

Following Big Family Homestead (and others in the homestead community) has also given my husband and I a shared dream again that isn’t being crippled by our current finances or his job frustration. It gives us something to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon when we can sit down and watch homesteading videos on projects we’re dreaming of or attempting the next seasons and work to do together when it’s sunny. We aren’t an active part of the community like some because we don’t have a youtube channel, and we don’t have a homestead yet – we have our little dreaming garden – but it’s something we share and enjoy, and I love it. I’m pretty sure he does too.

While there are many in the Homesteading side of youtube (I’ll link to some other channels at the bottom) what I love about Brad and Christa is that they explain things in such a way that you think “Oh hey, I could probably do that!”. They don’t put on airs. Their house looks like a house full of children and family instead of like a magazine, they speak frankly about the realities of caring for a special needs child (one of their children has a g tube among other health issues) and their content (with the exception of perhaps goat birthing) is very toddler friendly. To the point that my toddler gets excited to watch new “FAMY HOSTEAD”. It’s adorable.

Despite all the crap they’ve been through in life, Brad is happy and upbeat. Christa is pragmatic without being bitter. I guess it’s easy to seem that way online, if you really really want to put forth the effort to be fake, but I really don’t think that’s the case here. I think they’re just genuine people who love God and love their family and love homesteading. They’re moving to a new farm, from a one acre homestead to a 30 acre farm with barns, and they’re sharing the journey of moving and setting up the new place. I’m so excited to watch.

If you’re even vaguely interested in homesteading, homemaking, or just watching interesting things, I suggest you take a look at Big Family Homestead. Aside from the information in their videos, BFH means a lot to our little family.

So, Brad & Christa, should you ever read this, from the bottom of my heart, Thank You. We are so excited for what’s happening with you guys, and to watch/support you in the journey God has you on.


 

Oh hey, speaking of gardens, I have a little one. Stuff is happening. By “stuff” I mostly mean stifling heat, but none the less, not everything is dead, so here’s where we stand in mid July:

Tomatoes. We have fruit! But this fruit was already setting before the blight got bad.

Tomatoes, Abe Lincoln
Tomatoes, Abe Lincoln
This is gross AND frustrating! Double points.
This is gross AND frustrating! Double points!

This is still happening, even after treatment/fertilization. I am much frustrated. Yes we have fruit, but we don’t have abundant “LOOK I CAN MAKE SAUCE” fruit. We have “1-2 sliced tomatoes with dinner a week” fruit. We’re still buying tomatoes at the store. I don’t see any fruit that’s set (or any more flowers) since the blight got bad, so I don’t know if we’re “done” after this and should just yank the plants, or if we wait and see.

Our Bean Box! You could say we’ve let it get out of hand, but that would imply we ever hand it “in hand” and knew what we were doing. We’ve had four dinners with beans (five, maybe?) have have 2 big bags of frozen beans in the freezer. So that’s something! Does anyone know if you’re supposed to prune/trim pole beans? Asking for a friend.

Green Beans
Green Beans box o’ doom.

 

Tasty dinner side. No we didn't eat the huge one.
Tasty dinner side. No we didn’t eat the huge one.

That box is going to have all the bean plants pulled at the end of this month, get a month or so to bake in the glorious southern heat (maybe with a light layer of DE on top? We have beetles and snails) before having more dirt/peat moss added and amending the soil for our fall garden. Is it really a fall garden here though, when it’s horribly hot into October?

We’re hoping to try some broccoli in the fall (low expectations y’all) and are going to plant a lot of collards again this year b/c they did SO WELL last year, we were quite pleased. Husband really wants to attempt carrots even after last years dismal experience, so we’re gonna to try pots now. Pots of carrots on a patio in the South. Okay.

Speaking of planting, we got seed mail today. I was so freakin excited. Also, they will allow you to order stickers and a magnet for free. These (plus broccoli) are what we’re going to attempt for fall/winter. Any tomato container gardening  in the south advice is welcome:

SEEDMAIL

Big Family Homestead does a “seed swap” every spring, and we participated this year. We haven’t planted all the seeds we got, simply because we have to do everything above ground, and dirt/containers ain’t cheap y’all. I think this is a large part of my frustrations. Just planing something is a considerable time/energy/money investment, because we can put NOTHING in the ground here. Then it doesn’t bear fruit, and I feel like I’m wasting the limited resources we’ve been blessed with. But I’ve also learned that half-assing it doesn’t cut it. You HAVE to get good dirt, you HAVE to fertilize, you HAVE to water 2x a day on days it doesn’t rain, otherwise you’re just wasting money to enjoy cute seedlings that never produce food.

So of the seeds we got sent this year, here are three of the things that are actually doing quite well:

Behold! The Mighty Moringa! Husband takes capsules of this and it really helps with his back pain. So we're hoping to grow our own.
Behold! The Mighty Moringa! Husband takes capsules of this and it really helps with his back pain. So we’re hoping to grow our own.
Jalapeno. Which of course we eat very little of. Most of these will be given away. But look at how beautiful!
Jalapeno. Which of course we eat very little of. Most of these will be given away. But look at how beautiful! Dear other Peppers, take the hint.
Egyptian Spinach. This stuff is doing amazing in the heat here, and is really darn tasty.
Egyptian Spinach. This stuff is doing amazing in the heat here, and is really darn tasty.

The Moonflower (seeds I sent in for seed exchange) is finally starting to cover the bit of fence by the door. This makes me stupidly happy.

JulyMoon

Bonus garden friend

He was about the size of my pinky fingernail.
He was about the size of my pinky fingernail.

 

So there’s where we are with our little dreaming garden. There are some of the people who have helped us recognize our dream, and here are others who are just so willing and happy to put gardening/homesteading content out into the world, and absolutely worth looking into :

Guildbrook Farm – family homesteading in North Carolina. Good canning/gardening/prepper info. Thoughtful explanations of how they got where they are and why they do what they do.

An American Homestead – Completely off grid homestead in the Ozarks. They don’t have a washing machine or flushing toilet, so maybe too hardcore for me. But I admire and respect what they’re doing, and they’re full of good, practical info.

Deep South Homestead – Older couple homesteading in the south, full of practical wisdom & southern charm.

David The Good  – This guy is really passionate about composting, permaculture, and being able to feed yourself via your garden should crap hit the fan. He makes white boy garden raps which are amusing. He and his family live somewhere in the tropics.

 

 

Dreaming Update…

I went to a playdate yesterday at the church we’ve been going to but are not members of. Met some other cool moms. They were impressed with my garden. My garden that I’ve been lamenting to my husband and God all week about being discouraged about. I’ve been questioning my entire life – why garden? It’s not GREAT, everyone else’s is so much better! Why blog? My blog is tiny, no one reads it, and my writing is crap! Every one else’s blog is so much better!”

Funny how we see things, isn’t it? I watch all these youtubers and I think “YOUR GARDEN IS MAGICAL” and mine is…not dead yet? My “this doesn’t even count!” is someone else’s “Wow, you can do that? That’s so friggin cool!”.

Note to self: Don’t disparage the work God is doing in your life or your garden because it’s not done yet.

Also, making mom friends. So weird. Nice, but weird. Apparently I’m still ten years old and awkward in my head. As one other mom, who I found TOTALLY AWESOME and cannot for the life of me remember the name of, commented on. We’re all still awkward tweens inside.

I said update, so here’s an update. I present to you, our June 1st 2017 Harvest:

20170601_132217

 

Edit 10/18/17: That mom’s name was J and we’re actual friends now. Whee!

I’ve got a dream, I’ve got a dream…

My husband and I have a dream. We would like, within the next 8ish years, to produce around 80% of our own food, and within 10-12 years be completely energy independent, probably via solar. A large garden to grow almost 100% of our produce (and living in the South, banana and avocado trees are possible), can and preserve both veggies and ready made meals like taco meat and black beans, raise and butcher our own hogs (and maybe a steer), and have a cow for milk. Husband wants goats, but we don’t like goat milk and aren’t huge fans of goat meat, so I don’t know why he wants them, other than because fainting goats are amusing. Husband is also very interested in aquaponics and wants to get a tilapia pond going.  All this, and a private gun range, on 10+ acres of land.

I didn’t say it was a small dream.

Simple, maybe, but not small.

There’s a lot of reasons for this, and maybe I’ll go into them at some point, but the simple honest truth at the heart is that growing things makes me calm, and pretty darn happy. It makes my husband really happy too. So we have our dream of a 10+ acre homestead. A dream I can’t even share with a lot of people I know, because they just go “That’s stupid, go to the grocery store” (thanks dad!).

I watch these amazing homesteading families on youtube – Big Family Homestead, Fouch-o-Matic,  Deep South Homestead, Hollis and Nancy’s, Justin Rhodes – and I feel like, we’ll never get there.

I feel like I’m behind. 

I look at my friends who don’t want a homestead, and they, mostly, at least own a home. We do not. Finances have been hellish for us since ten minutes after we got married until very recently. It’s just the way it goes. And yes, some of my friends are older, which I forget, and some married much older men, partly to have that insta security of owning a home and a good job. I made different choices.

But still, I feel like I’m behind. 

All my friends, literally, have two children. I possibly will not. I love my daughter with all my heart, but getting her here, during a high risk pregnancy and then having a csection, and finding out her cord was in a true knot? It was terrifying. On top of that, there are other very serious reasons I can’t go into here. I love being a mom. I’m absolutely in love with my daughter.

But compared to my friends? I’m behind. I’m half the mom they are, literally. 

 


I know that, logically, comparison is the thief of joy. I’m also pretty damn sure none of my friends think I’m only half a mom compared to them, or that I’m a loser because we still rent. But in the dark little places of my heart, *I* feel that way. I feel like I will run out of life before I get to these things I want, or that they just may be out of my reach forever, like a second child may be.

And some days, I am so consumed with this “being behind”, not just on these things, but on my writing, on spending quality time with the kiddo, on cleaning the house, on spending time with my husband, that everywhere around me, all I see is a pile of failure, of being behind, of life moving faster than I can keep up. I think of a Homestead of our own and feel like it’s an impossible pipe dream that we’ll never get to. This feeling permeates everything I do until I feel like nothing I have to offer will ever be good enough. For the people I love, or even myself.

This is fucking insanity, by the way. Were I to hear someone I cared about, or hell, even a random stranger with a small child say this shit, I’d buy them coffee and tell them to chill the fuck out.

Morning Glory


God told Zerubbabel to rebuild Solomon’s temple. It took a few years to build the foundation, and then, because of political crap, it just sat. A foundation. For 17 years.

17 years is a long ass time to be behind, guys. 

Zerubbabel was sleeping one night, or probably not sleeping, because he was WAY BEHIND ON A GIANT PROJECT FROM GOD, and God sent him a message, in the form of a terrifying messenger, as was his way (Zechariah 4):

“Zerubbabel is the one who laid the foundation of this Temple, and he will complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has sent me. 10 Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”

I do not have a Homestead, but I do have a few small beginnings. I have taught myself to make bread. We eat out far less than we did a year ago, in fact I cook most nights unless it’s payday.  Later this year I hope to get a waterbath canner or pressure canner and start canning some of our own stuff. And we do have a garden. A small, stubborn, completely-above-ground-because-our-soil-is-crap, garden. It’s small, but it’s a beginning.