Good afternoon everyone!
We are incredibly sorry that it has taken us so long to post again (weekly in the summertime is a hard nut to crack around here), and our home computer is on the fritz (again), with our internet being slow (to non-existent). Alas, here I come with the ultimate catch-up post of what we have been doing at the old homestead!
- A vacation!
YES! We left our homestead for one amazing and glorious week at Restoule Provincial Park, to camp in a tent and spend time together without electricity! Although Jim and I could be full time without power (except when football season is upon us), we thought it was important to take Landyn out and teach him that there’s more to life than TV and electronics, and that when it comes time to eat, you need to work for your food! The highlight of cooking for us was definitely our cast pie iron, which made us amazing wraps, sandwiches, and even desserts (Landyn especially loved the chocolate-peanut butter hand pie, I thought the apple pie was pretty delicious). Landyn even learned to make his own toast on the camp toaster that my dad made us before we left!
Restoule is an amazing park, and I highly recommend it for anyone with small kids and/or dogs, as the beaches (all 3) are spectacular, and there’s one that’s dog friendly! There are a ton of hiking trails through the park, and we thoroughly enjoyed hiking up to the top of the 300 foot bluffs and checking out the view.
Although Landyn did complain a few times about being bored and having nothing to do, he did entertain himself pretty well with some basic digging toys, sticks and leaves (hey, isn’t that what little kids are SUPPOSED to do?), and he said that he would happily go again! I consider the whole vacation to be a huge success!
2. Berry season galore!
We are SO fortunate where we live to have a great pick-your-own-strawberry field within 5 minutes of home. And I mean, these berries are something else. I have never had strawberries so delicious, so big, so juicy… they are just hands down amazing. And, they don’t cost an arm and a leg!
This year I went picking with my mom (and also had her pick me 2 buckets prior on one of her days off), and needless to say, the Homestead is FULL of jam and frozen berries!
Thus far I have made a ton of strawberry freezer jam (my absolute favourite), and 4 batches of a jam recipe I got from my cousin Jude, which mixes raspberries, strawberries and blueberries together with some spices (not quite as sweet, but a definitely delicious mixture!).
Now mom and I are on the hunt for blueberries, and are anticipating having a Friday of picking this weekend. Last week we went for a quick quad ride (with mom driving… her first time!), and found what we have deemed ‘The Motherload’. Hopefully the berries hang on until we can get there to pick them out!
The plans for the newly picked blueberries include one batch of jam (I can’t resist homemade blueberry jam on a hot tea biscuit), and then freezing the rest in 2 cup bags for making homemade blueberry strusel muffins through the winter! I’d say I’d make a delicious blueberry pie, but Jim hates blueberry pie! (WAIT A MINUTE… does that mean that I’d get a full pie to myself? Maybe a blueberry pie IS in the works!!!)
3. Bear season is upon us!
YES! Bear season starts here on August 15th, and we are so incredibly excited!
Now, I know what some of you are thinking… Don’t shoot bears. And I get it, I really do. And until I met Jim, I was under the same sort of impression. But, there has been a few recent things that have changed my mind (mind you, I don’t intend of changing any anti-hunters minds, so if you fall in that category, you don’t need to comment or email me about it… I respect your opinion and you should respect ours!). Unfortunately, with the homestead, there are a few reasons we fall hunt bears.
The main reason? Homestead safety!
2 years ago, we put up our game cam in our driveway, just to see what was going on when we weren’t home, or at night (as we kept hearing a ruckus in the yard). Not only did we catch the ultimate culprits (a family of raccoons that we found later to be living in our garage), we also found a 400+ pound bear that liked to saunter through the yard, put his teeth in our gas cans, and get our dog completely riled up.
Now, when Mr. Bear would come, he wouldn’t do a ton of damage, and it was normally when it was night and it was cooler for him to walk around, but coming within a few feet of our doorway is a little too close for comfort.
Now that we have an established bear bait, equipped with it’s own game cam, we can distinctly pick out 10 different bears that are coming to the bait this summer. That does not include all of the 6 yearlings that we saw living across the road from the farm all last summer and this spring (we have seen 2 on the camera). That tells us that we have a healthy bear population within the immediate vicinity of our house and the farm, and that removing one or two of those animals won’t doom our local population. Now if we were seeing 1-2 on the camera, we would either be moving our bait to somewhere more populous, or taking a year off from hunting to allow more animals to migrate into our stand. (Quick little PSA here… hunters need to take more responsibility in ensuring the maintained populations of animals in their areas, and doing responsible hunting to make sure that we have wildlife for years to come. Don’t be a dick!)
We also consistently see the “Big Boy” (the 400+ pounder that has grown to be about 550+) kick the crap out of a bunch of the littler bears in there. I get that it’s nature’s hierarchy, but at the same time, removing him will increase the overall health of our bait.
Also another great reason for our bear hunting? Getting a freezer full of delicious, healthy, all natural meat for a great deal! I can’t wait until we can have bear stew, bear lasagna, or bear chili again!
4. Plans for the fall!
So now we are busy, trying to maintain our gardens, keep the chickens happy, keep the yard together, plan all of our canning… Am I the only homestead wife that thinks “holy shit, my house is a disaster?!?!” We spend so much time tending to our homestead that I can’t help but walk by the stacks of laundry and unswept floors and think to myself “man, I’m doing this all wrong”. Every weekend seems constantly consumed with chores (which I don’t mind), but it seems like my house is taking a shitkicking after the fact!
Take a week’s holidays in September, when everyone else is working, and clean! Yes, I’m totally one of those people that is happy with a ponytail, coffee (lots and lots of coffee), good music cranked and cleaning rag! I am going to spend a full week washing walls (the indoor wood furnace does a number on them with bits of soot), floors, mucking out closets… the entire house is going to get a makeover.
In the meantime, I am scouring Pinterest for the best home cleaning schedule, where it gives me one thing a morning to clean, and then my house will remain relatively livable on a week by week rotation. Do any other homesteaders have good tips on keeping your house tidy while being able to devote most of your time to your ‘stead (while both working full time?). Does anyone have any good cleaning/tidying tips they’d like to share? What about homemade cleaners that are better than the store bought versions? Hit me up with a comment below! 🙂
I am following this post with a quick one on the chicken run we built this weekend (including directions), but I promise I will post next weekend about more homestead adventures!
xo Laurie & Jim