Sunday, December 18, 2016

Simply Christmas.

Well, despite the fact that every big box store has been proclaiming that "Christmas is coming!" since a month before Thanksgiving, it always seems to surprise me when it really does get close! Less than a week to go, folks! So far it's been a sweet holiday season here at the homestead, though. We've kept the decorations simple and mostly homemade. I've especially enjoyed using boxwood, cedar and pine from right around the farm, instead of faux garlands.

I made several of these tiny wreaths to hang in the windows.

We cut our own tree from one of the fence rows around here. It was quite the search, and we almost despaired before finding "The one". It really is a nice tree, especially for a cedar since they tend to look kinda "Charlie Brownish", or be overly bushy. Ember thinks she's so big, lifting it up!

We popped a ton of popcorn after we got the tree up, and Esther and mommy went after it! I think it looks so pretty! We have gone minimal with ornaments to let the natural beauty of the tree shine through. If you ever decide to string popcorn, here's a tip: use dental floss instead of thread, it is so much stronger and the popcorn goes on really smooth!

Caught this one of my little squoogie after he crashed for an unexpected morning nap. Awwwww.....

Instead of lots and lots of holiday glitter and glamour we have " thrown around the cozy " with sheepskins, quilts, pillows and fuzzy throws. I wanted the house to scream:"Cocoa, any one?!".

So... the sweetest thing : When your five year old comes up to you with a present she wrapped herself with scraps of wrapping paper she found and she tells you it's for you because she saw you didn't have a present under the tree yet. My heart is melting! She even made a tag with both of our names on it. 

Dustin brought me a lovely bunch of cedar and pine from the woods, and I made this simple garland for the front door. It was so much easier to make than a wreath; I just arranged the boughs how I liked and then tied them together at the top with some wired ribbon left over from last year and added the sleigh bells.

We took our family Christmas photos at a beautiful old church that we spotted on main street earlier this year. I just love these doors!

Finding quality toys that don't break the bank can be so challenging. And that's where thrifting comes in! We scored these Baby tree blocks at a local second hand store, as well as the adorable metal kaleidoscope. The other wooden toys were ordered from GVS, an old fashioned mail order company ( call toll-free 1-800-398-2494 for their catalog). The prices were about half of what I had found for similar pieces from other suppliers. We got the cute little knitted ball from a booth at a primitive Rendezvous.

 Several of my siblings got the kiddos this gorgeous "night before Christmas" book as an early present to enjoy as they anticipate the holiday. Its by Jan Brett, and we just love her work! The artwork is phenomenal! Thanks so much to John,Tom and Caroline!

We also are doing some homemade gifts this year (well, honestly, I don't think there has ever been a year we haven't!!) This little stuffed kitty is my gift to Ember. I had a lot of fun making it and I know she is going to love playing with it. Of all the kids, she loves making up games with her stuffed animals the most. I'm thinking about starting to make these to sell on our etsy shop, what do you think? I'd love some feed back!

We did get some new iron work up on the etsy shop in time for the holiday, isn't this a neat wall rack? These are SO versatile, we have several of them around our house doing different jobs :-) .

Our neighbor cut some mistletoe the other day and kindly left some for us to make use of, um, I mean, find (hehe!) It's right above the front steps, so nobody is really safe. Good thing we all love each other!

Thank you all for following! Wishing you all a Merry, Merry Christmas! May God bless us all in this coming year! Love from all of us at the home made homestead.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Our New Little Milker.

Introducing the newest addition to our homestead! Our New milk cow, Abigail, is a small jersey. She is still young( even though she has had one calf), and we are in the process of really getting her gentled down and trained to come in when she is called for milking. Dustin built her a milking stantion under the side shed on our old barn and she also has a nice, roomy stall to call her own :-) .

View from above.

Milking away. A nice, stainless steel bucket is a must. You can use plastic, but it is much harder to keep really clean, and aluminum and other metals can actually give the milk a bad taste. Is one place that carries them (Search "stainless steel milk pail").

Here is Abigail's bell. She wears it when she is out to pasture. It is really handy because she is not fully trained to come when she's called yet, and if she is up in the woods, it's nice to be able to hear her when you go to find her.
 And, anyway, if you own a cow, and you own a cowbell, who could resist?

It feels so good to have loft full to the rafters with hay from our own land. Bring on the cold weather - there's plenty for the stock to eat!

So, one of the benefits of having our own cow has been making our own butter. Butter, especially organic or natural options, is so expensive these days. And with the studies that have been done now show how bad margarine is for you, it's been nice to have a steady supply from an animal who's food source we know.

The girls have gotten a kick out of helping shake cream!

Daddy shows her how.

Ember, you little ham!

You can tell the butter has nearly "come" from the way the cream looks sort of clumpy on the sides of the jar. Once it looks like this it just needs another minute or so before it's butter.

Oh, now, here's the butter! Look at that big lump floating in the buttermilk. Sometimes it is yellow like from the store, and sometimes its very pale like the batch above. The color doesn't affect the flavor. And speaking of flavor, it has been amazing! I have eaten homemade butter that had a strong flavor, but I think that must be from something with a strong flavor that the cow is finding to forage on. Anyway, this has been really tasty.

The butter needs all the buttermilk rinsed out. This seems easiest if you stick the whole jar in the fridge for a little while and let the butter harden a bit. Then when you rinse its not so easy to loose some of the soft butter down the sink.

Last, you salt the butter to taste. A little goes a long way!
*The wooden spatula is one that Dustin carved. Go to to see our current selection of  hand carved kitchen utensils.

Well, that's it for this post, but we look forward to making cheese as well ! - HMH.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

New Items on Our Etsy Shop!

Let me introduce you to Bee Wise reusable food wraps, the newest items on our Etsy shop( click here to view). These have been so popular at our local Farmer's market over the summer and fall that we have been unable to keep enough to list online until now.

So... here is how they work: 100% cotton saturated with pure bee's wax softens as it warms from your hands. It becomes pliable and is easily wrapped around leftovers, sandwiches, and etc. 

Once wrapped the wax hardens again and clings very securely! Plus, who wouldn't want to look at these fun and pretty patterns instead of boring ( not to mention wasteful) plastic wrap or foil?

Here is a cool little fact: Bee's wax is naturally antibacterial! And here's another: with proper care these wraps will literally last for over a hundred uses. 

These would make wonderful little stocking stuffers for just about anyone on your list this Christmas. Even the kids will love seeing the fun colors in packed lunches.

Watch for more eco-friendly items coming to our shop very soon! Also we are working on getting some beautiful ironwork jewelry and some new woodwork up on the site in time for the holidays- so check with us often, you don't want to miss something good!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Legend of the Great Sweet Potatoes ( and other fall harvest).

We plowed a new garden spot this spring. Sometimes a new garden is a bit of an "iffy" proposition. The soil is often in need of amending with organic matter and the plot will usually do better after a few years of faithful fertilizing. Well, this plot did OK with most of what we planted. We got some pretty nice tomatoes, some indifferent pumpkins and an alright Mellon crop; but the sweet potatoes! They blew us away! These things broke all the rules and got ginormous! :-) 

We sent one of the sweet potatoes home with a neighbor. She weighed it out of curiosity and it was over six pounds! It wasn't the the biggest of the bunch, either.

 Here we are shaking the dirt of the bunches as we dig them up. As you can see we really got some interesting shapes as well as the huge size.

Sweet potato pie, sweet potato wedges with butter and salt, mashed, diced, it's all good! " Yummy-yum!"

Take a look at the clusters of roots!

Our big helpers. Brother missed out as he was taking a nap. Too bad, he relishes playing in the dirt.

Here we are with some more of the harvest. We had a lot of fun with the heirloom pumpkin and gourds. Esther is holding her pet bantam rooster, Jack. He is the friendliest chicken ever and loves being carried around!

Check out Janet's "little pumpkin"! New baby Morgan is due to arrive in February!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Making Hay- The Old Fashioned Way.

Well, well, well...
We still exist and we are still homesteading! The past year has been so busy that I have totally neglected this space. I'm sure our poor blog is feeling lonely! We are coming back into cyberspace with a long anticipated blog on putting up hay with horses. We have made hay twice this summer. The first time Dustin did it completely old school and cut it with a scythe, then piled it by hand before we gathered it on to the hay wagon. These first photos are from that time.

P. S. I sewed the dress Ember is wearing. I was so happy with how it turned out!

Getting the horses harnessed.

Just as a side comment, How cute is this Flag art that Dustin created for the barn? Look closely, its the bare springs from an old mattress!


Horse-ing around with Lincoln. Pun completely intended. :-) 

Baby-wearing sure is handy on a working farm. Sometimes we need all hands on deck even if the littles don't oblige by taking a nice, long nap! Conagher sure  enjoyed hanging with mama!

 Forking it up on the wagon.

The haystack must be Spread and stomped down on the wagon bed as you go. This "ties it together" and keeps it from slipping off.


...and higher!

The second time we made hay this year, we were putting up much more. So some of our neighbors kindly came over and cut it with their mowing machine. They also let us borrow their old fashioned hay rake ( we had one of these in TN but were not able to bring it with us when we moved). There are some pictures below of the rake in action. Another one of our neighbors came and helped us load the hay before an on coming shower! Here's a big thank you Jimmy! We could never have done it so fast without you!

Hey there, big boys!

Here is a shot of the field with the mounds of hay (mostly) raked up. Next blog, I want to tell you about our Etsy shop! Yes, you can now buy those pretty things like you see on our pinterest with the click of your mouse or the tap of a finger! Exciting stuff! Until next time!