The Hopeful Homesteader

The Hopeful Homesteader

Friday, December 16, 2011

I remember now why I didn't want pets.

Don't take me wrong, I love Patches, Buttercup, and even rambunctious Macy, with all my heart but this week each one of the animals has decided to remind me of the reasons why, for so many years, I swore I wouldn't have pets.

Patches has been having a few issues with worms over the past month, which we've treated her for both with medication and adding pumpkin seeds to her food. She perked back up after the treatment and we continued to give her the seeds as a precaution as well.

Tuesday night she began acting funny again, rubbing her head against everything (not usual for her), meowing loadly and almost literally jumping off the walls. I tried everything I knew to comfort her but nothing worked.

I went to go outside to get something from the van and she darted right out the door! Now you should know that the first week we moved in she got outside and was attacked by another cat in the neighborhood. Then about two weeks ago she got outside and Macy and Buttercup, (okay mostly it was Macy) ran her up a tree. It took us 5 hours to get her out of the tree and hasn't even offered to go outside since.

Now here it is, Friday morning, and there has been no sign of her since. I've been crying for days. Everytime something reminds me of her I tear up. I miss her terribly and am so worried that she wont return.

Wednesday morning, the hubby went out to make sure the kids had fed and watered the dogs, they are new to having pets and have to be reminded sometimes. A few minutes later he comes running into the house yelling, "Somethings wrong with Buttercup!"

I dash outside to see what's going on and find her laying on her side eyes huge as saucers and rolling up in her head with blood on her.  On closer inspection she had a dime sized wound on her swollen muzzle that was the source of the blood and her body was not exactly rigid but very stiff. I scooped water by the handfuls into her mouth for a bit and she perked up. I think now that the stiffness and the eye rolling was due to her being scared rather than anything else, the lady that gave her to us informed us that she had been abused by someone before she had gotten her and she frightens easily. After about two hours or so she seemed completely fine and has had no problems since but there for a bit we thought we were going to lose her.

Thursday afternoon, I was on the phone with my mother-in-law when the hubby comes in from outside and says, "You're gonna have to come help me." He was carrying a bowl of water and a bloody washcloth. I quickly hung up and went out to see what was going on now.

Macy is laying on the porch and there is a large amount of blood pool under her front left paw. After we cleaned her up the best we could, she wouldn't let us mess with it much, the best we could tell was that she had cut her paw on something.

We got the bleeding slowed but not completely but she wouldn't let us mess with it so we waiting until my son, Devin, got home. Macy is his dog and she will let that boy do just about anything with her.

When he got home he was able to get a closer look at her paw and found that there is a very large spot on her paw where the skin is completely gone. Luckily there was nothing in it that needed removing though.

We lost numerous family pets when I was a child and this week has definately reminded me of why I always said I never wanted pets. They are just too hard on the heart.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Busy Time of the Year

First and foremost, I wish to apologize for not blogging in a few weeks. I can only attempt to explain the reasons why.

Aside from the death in the family, with the holidays coming it has been extremely hectic around here. We enjoyed a wonderful visit from one of my sisters, Faith, whom I haven't been able to see in many years. I truely hope that it isn't as long between the next time we are able to see each other.

Also, with Christmas looming, I have been hard at work making presents for my family. I would post pictures but I don't want to spoil the surprise so they will have to wait for now but I will post pictures after Christmas has passed.

We were able to can several items. We got a great deal on some apples and tomatoes so we were able to put up applesauce, apple jelly, apple butter, as well as tomatoes so we haven't been completely slacking. ;)

Since I blogged last I have also decided to go back to school, thanks to some serious nudging from Faith. I will be starting classes in January to further my nursing education so I might be a bit slower on blogging than before but since it is winter here in Alabama, and I haven't yet been able to get any animals and the garden must wait til spring, there really isn't much to blog about on the homestead front.

So although I may be slower in posting I am still dedicated to creating a chronicle of our adventures into homestead and now there will be the added topics of going back to college as I close in on my fourties! Stay tuned for the shinanigans all!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

We will all miss you, Robert!

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.
~From a headstone in Ireland

This afternoon my husband's uncle, Robert, passed away. He was a good man, a loving husband, father and grandfather. He has been ill for some time but even though something like this is expected it's still devastating.

Though he is gone, he will not be forgotten. He will live forever in our hearts and memories.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Holidays are coming--Mama's recipes

I come from a very large family and we aren't always able to be together for the holidays. One thing I have always counted on throughout the years in the weeks before Thanksgiving is a call from at least one of my sisters (I have 9 of them!), asking me for several of Mama's recipes, most especially her dressing recipe. (Mama passed away when I was 15. The youngest of her kids was only 6.)

The conversation usually goes something like this:
Various Sister: Do you have Mama's dressing recipe?
Me: Yeah you got a pen?
Various Sister: Okay go ahead.
Me: Get out your iron skillet.
Various Sister: I don't have an iron skillet.
Me: Then ya can't make Mama's dressing.

Of course I would always finish giving them the recipe but Mama was always adamant about making cornbread in an iron skillet. To her it just wasn't cornbread if it wasn't baked in an iron skillet and I must say that I agree with her. The bottom crust is so much better in an iron skillet that it gives a more robust flavor to the entire bread.

So I thought I'd post the recipes that get asked for every year on here as a quick reference that they can find whenever they need it. Maybe someone else might like to give them a try as well. Mama was one heck of a cook!

Mama's Cornbread
Mama's Biscuits
Mama's Dressing
Mama's Divinity
Mama's Butter Cake
Mama's Homemade Chocolate Frosting

Although as I sit here typing this post, I am forced to wonder -- will my holidays be forever changed? I have always loved being the one that everyone called to get Mama's recipes. Hmmm, oh well, I'll post anyway. Surely they will still call anyway!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Front Porch

Well Monday and Tuesday we spent working on the front porch. We've finally gotten it to where I'm satisfied with it. (Not finished but usable at least.)  Taking down the tin was a bit tricky since our ladder wasn't quite tall enough to reach the highest screws. Kevin knew a guy when he was younger that was working with tin and was decapitated by it so of course I was a nervous wreck until it was all down.

The tin is off.
 With the tin down, the view of the side yard is just beautiful. Still have a lot of cleaning up to do around the trees and so forth but that's for another day.

We saved the tin to use on the chicken coop.
 The front of the trailer looks so much better just having the tin down. The way it was with two different colors of tin it was just an eye-sore. I admit this is far from perfect but it's much better than it was.

 We had hoped to be able to save the lattice. I scraped at the foam insulation for over an hour and only had about a 2 foot wide section semi cleared so we decided that it was more trouble than it was worth. We took out all the lattice and used some wood we had from pallets to make some railings.

Gotta love free pallet wood.

Still need a few more rails and we're going to add a sill above them.

Sitting on the porch looking out has a MUCH better view now.
They're predicting rain for the next few days so probably wont get to start on the chicken coop until next week sometime. But we're making progress, its slow, but it's still progress. Although it's not what we want the end product to be, for now it will do.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Upcoming Projects

We've all been sick the last week and haven't really gotten much done since it's been cold and raining, so I thought I'd talk about a few of our upcoming projects to kind of give a sneak peak of whats to come.

Project 1: Front Porch

Since we aren't able to turn the existing "addition" into a dining room we've decided to take it back to a porch. We've already moved the door back into the original place but we still have to remove all the spray insulation and tin from it. I'm not looking forward to that task but it's the next project we'll be tackling, most likely Monday or Tueday.

Front Porch as it is now.

Project 2: Chicken Coop

Since Macy and Buttercup wont stay in the pen and have become porch dogs, quite easily I might add, we have the chain link fence area to be able to use for a chicken run and we plan on building our chicken coop right next to it in the style of the one picture here.

The chain link dog fence area will become the chicken run.

Hubby assures me that we already have all the materials and we will begin building this week!!! Yay!

Project 3: Greenhouse

Awhile back on craigslist I was fortunate enough to find a bunch of free storm windows and we had to store them at my mother-in-laws house until we moved. This week we finally got them moved over here and we plan to start building it very soon.

The makings of a FREE greenhouse!

Through all the moving we've had to do only one window got cracked.
 So there's a small sneak peak of what our next few weeks will be consumed by. We hope to have it all completed before Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The pool is finally finished!

Yesterday we got out there and finally finished up with the pool. We got it folded up and stored neatly in the shed until spring.
It's GONE. Yay!

Now we just gotta get the deck torn down.
All stored away.
Kids "swimming"

For the rest of our day be sure to go to the Our Animal Family page and read the latest post there.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Working on The Icky Pool

Remember The Icky Pool?

Another of the unfinished projects we got started on last week was the Icky Pool. We thought for a long time about the best way to do this and all we could come up with was that we would have to completely take it down and set it back up come spring.

We started out by taking all the posts down. The rope that was strung through the loops on the liner had dry rotted and we had no trouble at all with this part.

The posts came out relatively easy.
Next we had to try to start draining the water from it. Boy was it COLD! The pool was placed wrong in the first place and had several high spots that made draining the water out a huge chore. 

The water started draining a bit before we even had all the posts out.

It started collapsing in on itself as we removed more of the posts.

Finally all the posts removed and the water just started pouring out. At first.

It stopped draining with a good bit of water left still in it.

Once we had as much water out as we could get we tried to pull the liner over to get more out. When we did we found out that it was placed directly on the ground instead of sand or anything. But on the upside it was totally dry underneath, so we're relatively sure there are no holes or leaks in the liner.

The ground beneath was very compacted.

We got it pulled a little more over. Took forever. Its super HEAVY.

That's as far as we got it.

Once we got the liner pulled as far as we could, boy was that thing HEAVY, we decided we'd have to wait and let it dry up some on it's own so this is as far as we've gotten at this point. We still have to remove a lot of debris that has collected on the bottom of the pool, clean the liner and let it dry, and then get it stored for the winter.

There's still a TON of debris to be removed.

I'm glad we couldn't figure out another way to clean it because once we got it all pulled up we found out that if we hadn't done it this way we most likely would have lost it next year due to roots growing under it. They would have penetrated the liner and cause leaks.

One of several patches of roots that were growing under the pool.

Also, by taking it down instead of attempting to keep it in place as it was we've decided that when we put it back up next year we're going to move it to the front of the house in a much better spot where we wont have to deal with it being situated under all those trees and this wont happen again.

The new spot. Just have to cut one tree and it will be perfect.

Now if I can just get up the courage to put my hands in all that ick to remove it we'll get it completely put away for the winter. Unless someone can come up with an idea of how I can remove all this gunk without using just my hands and without tearing a hole in the liner.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Busy Week

It's been a very busy week here. We're continuing to unpack and find a place for everything. Sheesh how to does one family collect so much stuff?! It's amazing how much junk you collect through the years.

We've started a lot of projects this week, although I can't say we've completed any of them yet. It seems that we always seem to get side tracked.

We've gotten all the holiday decorations out to the storage shed. Yeah, I know. Its only a short time until they are needed again but, hey, its NICE to not have them cluttering up our closet like we've always had to do before.

We did a lot of raking and burning outside. We got rid of two large stumps that were almost in the back door. I don't know why but they were nearly three feet tall. But at least they are gone now. There are still at least two more out there that need to be burned out but its a good start.
The enclosed front porch area that we had thought we were going to be able to turn into a dining room turned out to be more trouble than anything else. The previous owner had moved the front door, put carpet down over the porch boards and tin all the way around with the spray can insulation so it was a nasty eye-sore.

Enclosed Porch - Before
We really needed the dining room space so I "attempted" to work with it.  We didn't have the money to buy plywood or anything but the previous owners had left a ton of tar paper and shingles out behind the shed so I thought I would be able to make it work, at least temporarily, anyway.

So I pulled up the carpet and swept it as clean as I could.

Carpet removed.
Then  I laid down tar paper. Of course I ran out halfway through so I finished with just shingles and then replaced the carpet. I knew it wouldn't be as good as if we'd been able to do it right but I thought it would at least be more air tight than it was.

Finally I set the room up as my dining room, even though we weren't able to do the walls or ceiling or anything it didn't look as bad as I thought it would and at least now we had a place to eat.

Hubby insisted on hanging the pictures. LOL
Well it stayed that way for about 3 days. Until we had a cold snap and I found out that it still was NOT going to work. The temperature in there was at least 10 degrees colder than in the rest of the house.

We decided that since it would cost us more in heating than it was worth we'd turn it back into a porch for the winter. So the next day I had to take apart my table and chairs and put them in the storage shed, pull up the carpet again and remove all the shingles I had laid down. At least this time I had help.

Devin just loves to have his picture taken!
Kevin moved the door back into the original position and now we're using it as a covered porch. We still need to take the tin off the outside but that will have to wait since we don't have the correct bit for the screws.

And that's just one of the unfinished projects we started this week. We also started on The Icky Pool but we'll save that post for another day.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Meeting new friends

Yesterday we went to a BBQ to meet some friends from Homesteading Today Forums. The whole family had a great time meeting Carol and Cheryl and interacting with all the animals as well.

I must say I think Devin had the most fun since he not only got to ride a horse, he got to feed the pigs, play with ferrets and even a few snakes. He was so proud of himself for being brave enough to have the snakes on his neck.

One snake - he's doing okay

Two snakes and he started to get a bit nervous

Three was all he could take.

Looks like a little jockey don't he.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Canning soup stock

Today I canned for the first time. I remember Mama canning stuff when I was little but I was always too young to be allowed anywhere near it. By the time I was old enough to be able to help she was too sick and I never got to be in the kitchen with her when she canned.

I did grocery shopping yesterday and after putting away everything, (I always go through and chop up all the celery, bell pepper, green onions, carrots, etc. and freeze them for quick use) I had a ton of veggies in the freezer waiting to make into stock.

This morning my hubby took me to Wally World and bought me a new pressure canner!

My first brand new pressure canner!

I took it out of the box and washed everything according to the directions before getting started. I also washed up some canning jars that my mother-in-law had given me a month or so ago since she no longer needed them.

Fresh clean jars

Next I put all my veggies, seasonings and water into a stock pot to boil like I do for freezing.
Soon to be stock

After boiling for an hour the stock was ready to be canned. It turns the most beautiful golden brown.

After filling the jars I loaded them into the canner.

Ain't it purty!
Then came the waiting. I had to wait until there was a steadystream of steam coming from the canner before I could place the "jiggler" or pressure regulator onto the canner. Once the ten minutes had passed I set the jiggler for 10 pounds of pressure and placed it onto the canner.
3 piece jiggler set for 10lbs pressure

Wating for it to "jiggle"
Once the jiggler began to jiggle I set the timer for 25 minutes, which is recommended for stock,
and waited. I had to turn the temperature down once or twice to keep it at a steady rhythm.

At the end of the day I had 6 quarts and one pint of beautiful stock!

A good days work!
All in all a great experience and I can't wait to have my own garden going so I can do many, many more things.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Restoring a pair of old chairs

In the old shed on the property we found two old chairs in really bad shape. Hannah decided she liked them and wanted restore them.

The frames weren't too bad but needed a bit of TLC.
The seats were in awful shape.
She has decided she wants to do her room in chocolate brown and a light blue so she set to work fixing her chairs.
She turned it upside down to begin tightening it up.

She's making sure everything is squared up.

She caught us taking pictures!
After she got the frames all tightened up and squared she spray painted them chocolate brown.

Side view after painting.

Front view after painting.
While she waited for the paint to dry she moved on to the cushions.
Removing the old upholstery.
Stapling on the new fabric.
After the new fabric is on - bottom view.

After the new fabric is on - top view.

Both recovered seats after new fabric and cardboard cover for bottom.

One of the finished chairs.
She's quite proud of the finished product and I must say I am extremely proud of her as well. She took something most people would call trash and made it into a very nice and completely functional item for her room.

Way to go Hannah!!!