Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Sweet Potatoes in the Pacific Northwest!

Ok.. I just planted the sweet potatoes.  I know  you think I am crazy.  And last year I would have agreed with  you.  But God literally grew a 5 gallon bucket of sweet potatoes for us out of about 15 plants. 

Yes, It could have been a better yield.  But I was praising God to know end. 

This year I am going to try it again.  Only I am going to grow the same Beauregard type and a new Centennial variety.  To see which one's do the best..  They are both touted as doing good in northern climates.

So, many have asked.... and.... this is what I do.  It's actually easy and well....

It's easy....

First you have to buy the starter plants from a source that verifies they are Organic starts... that's important.  Unless you want to be like me and end up having raised beds that can not have any root crops grow in them for 3 years.  (sweet potatoes can get diseases and such if they aren't organic.)

I plant then in raised beds.....

Then I cover them with a cloche type structure.... then I don't open them....

 Seriously... I don't open them...

Walk away....

Face to the hand as in don't bother me!!!!

Every few weeks I sneak my hand in and check the soil... They hate wet soil.  I only water them  when the top 8 inches of soil is dry. 

That is so so so hard for me.  Seriously, last  year I snuck water to them twice in the year and it was 1 time to many! 

So walk away..... and don't look back! 

Now, I have 4 garden beds this year with sweet potatoes in them... 2 down near the coops that I need to finish building the cover for... it won't get a ton of sun.. but it does get awfully warm down there...

I'm trying to build the cover!!!!  Hahahaha

and then I have 2 beds up on top that get near full sun and they are already covered.  I am hoping that pretty soon I will see them sneaking out and spilling over the garden beds....

So, why do I do it this way...???

They grow best in a hot and dry climate... So I figured if I could trap in the heat and control the amount of water they get.. they might grow.. and they did... Praise God!!!  Because Sweet Potato Fries are awesome!!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

BBQ's... Not all are created equal at the Beach!!

Hello there!  Thought you might like to read my research notes.........

We are almost at 50 inches for the year!!! (Oct to Oct!)

It's raining outside and I am inside working on some research.

Ok.. the research I am doing is actually Hubby's to do.. But he is working and well.. I had a few idea's and this is probably not going to go over in this house so well....... So please pray for me...

Ok.. I am joking...  Hubby love's everything I do!!! Especially when it is to help him out.  Hhahahahaha

Oh Bwhahahahaha

But seriously please pray for me....   ;-)

I watch my man, who loves to BBQ, (He would BBQ every day if he could) use this now sorry little bbq that is literally falling apart.. again!!!
Pathetic we know!!!!!

To be honest we bought this one 2 years ago knowing that it would be short lived here.. but just wanting something till we got the bigger house.

So we knew it would be temporary.

And we spent the money... very very little.... with that in mind.

Well, plans have changed and we now need it to last a little longer.  The outside is holding up rather well.. but the entire inside is literally gone!!!

Personally I am seeing a new bench for the shop on wheels.. so there is some selfishness in me doing this research!

I mean you all know what I did to the last BBQ right????

Well.. here it is... The miter saw that I got from the old BBQ stand.... it is still in use.. and I love it!!!!

This was actually the first bbq that I bought all by myself... years ago.. It lasted us that long....

I actually bought it in 2005 the month after I met my hubby.  We put it together in the garage in the rain.. and then I held an umbrella over our heads while we bbq'd hot dogs on it... together.  Because I bought it on one of the 5 days a year it rained in Fresno! 

Picture taken in 2008.. In fresno... Note... No rust at all!!!  It's 3 years old...
 I used to be a huge bbq'er myself.  But hubby loves to do it.. and well.. I have a lot to do.  So, we need to make sure he has an awesome bbq.   Proper tools are the start to greatness right????

The one horrid issue that we have found is the salt in our air and humidity and rain, and moisture we are fighting with... took this once new BBQ and turned it into a rust bucket in a matter of 2 years....

Picture taken in 2012.. just after living on the coast for 2 years.... It was completely rusted out inside.

Remember, we have only been here 4.5 years and we are already on our 2nd soon to be 3rd bbq!!!!!  And I am sure you know by now that I hate to spend money twice on the same thing!  I was raised to spend it wisely and save to buy the best... which actually isn't the most expensive.

So off to do the research... I will place my notes here....   (mainly so I can read them to Hubby when he gets home!)

For those interested... The BBQ Search Pinterest Board is here...

Follow Tabitha's board BBQ Search on Pinterest.

Here's the motto we are going with in this house now.... We want to buy things that last!!!!  We want quality and we are willing to wait and save.... We want to do the research and learn from others and buy long lasting quality products that we don't have to hold together with duct tape and bailing wire.  

So now... keeping in mind this one will have to last us as long as possible.. but will not be the end all of all BBQ's..... That one will cost us a small penny... and if I have my way.... It will be this one...

Stop drooling on my blog!!!!  I know it's pretty!!!!  It's also sold manly on the east coast.. and at a price of about 4,000.00... It is my dream!!!   That is if I was to dream about BBQ's.  More about this one later..

Reading some threads online about BBQ's and quality.. we are going to want to look for one's that rust the least...

High quality Stainless steel probably 430 SS
Or Enamel,
Or Alluminum
and not Cast Iron.. which will literally rust away.. which we have been experiencing...

All the ones that the big box stores... no matter the price are literally out.  They are made with cheaper material to be sold in stores to make a profit and be afforable to us folks...   Remember, we are looking for long lasting...

Lets do the math.... Cheap grill at 200.00 every 2 years... times 10 for 20 years..... would cost us 2,000.00.  That doesn't count the replacement parts on the second year... (yes we actually have to replace the cheap insides) and the garbage cost... since we have to pay to haul things away...

There are only so many tables I can keep in the shop don't you know!

What am I saying.. I can always use another table!!!!!  ;-)  Then there is the fact that we love to smoke... and charcoal cook.. and propane.. So...

Some online I have found some people like the weber series...  Genisis s-330 and the Summit S470.. both are stainless steel and the enamel version as well... (all of these can be found bookmarked on the pinterest board.

People are saying they have lasted them well over 2 decades... but when you start talking about being on the coast.. you get in to another topic...

Rust issues.. and grate and ignition start issues... So....

Then people go to this guy... The big green egg... It doesn't rust.. since it's made out of cermaic.. which makes me wonder how it would do in the 60 mph winds we get ALL THE TIME... But it is on my list of things to look in to.. It's only Charcoal so it won't be a permanent finished solution.. but it would be nice to have as a grill oven and smoker.. for those times we have no power!!

Now that's an idea...  it runs about per Chuck who just called me back!!!  Awesome thank you chuck in Keizer, Oregon!!!  suggested retail is 870.00 plus 160.00 stand other part is called the plate setter for 80.00... (the dealer in our area sounded like they were on another call) for the large egg... There are a ton of sizes... and well ... the dealer is in the town next to the big girl town.  So we might just stop in.  Next time we are there... which is a few month away.   Must stop for a moment and tell you that Chuck from the Chuck's BBQ store in Keizer Oregon was very nice.. I didn't leave a message so he must have caller ID... crud must call to get my number blocked!!!!  and he didn't try and push sell me... I LOVE THAT in a store....

Thank you again Chuck! 

Once I started searching all around for BBQ's that specifically did well... on say ... marina's and boats... I hit the motherload of information. 

All of a sudden.. the Summit E620 weber grill... did horribly!  :-(  this is where I got really sad... I wanted to like them.  Totally!!!  User's were saying they rusted and pitted... after a few years on their back decks that were close to the ocean.


Then I hopped on this thread on good BBQ's for the Coast.... and I read every single one... I pinned the sites for hubby to look at and fell in love with the Willminton Grill.  More specifically the combo grill that is pictured above....

So.. the research that I have done.. is being passed on to Hubby.... He will look into it all.. choose the grill that will take us through the next phase and figure out which one we want.... to last us through our next 20 years.

The one thing I know for sure.. this next one has to last us at least 8 years... at least.  But for the future.. I want to be able to cook on Propane and charcoal and wood.. it will most likely be several different units.. and that's fine... but a little bit of planning now.. can save us a ton in the future...

Things that will will prolong a grill.... wiping it down once a month with wd40.. the stainless steel parts... Keeping it clean and free of food debris and covered.  Would help to keep it in the garage... but we don't have one.. and yes we have a shop.. but we aren't carrying it up a flight of stairs each time we use it ... we use it several times a week here!!!

So, that makes me wonder if a good quality Weber grill will last the time we are looking at or if the egg is the solution.... 

Next research project I have to do.. is surveillance... and food costs.. and ????  I know there is something else.. I just can't remember is right now...

I called Chuck back... I wanted to ask him about his choice.. He likes the Traeger Wood Pellet.. for the ease and push and start and load with pellets.. but I had to stop him when he mentioned is calls for electricity to start them.  We use the BBQ as a total back up when we don't have electricity.  But he sells the BGE so I may get to meet him yet.

Friday, April 3, 2015

When God Answers.... (an update on the housing plans)

For a few months now we have been talking about how we were working on clearing land and finding plans and literally building a bigger house on the land. 

You can watch our latest video here....

Or skip it if you already watched me running around like a chicken with it's head cut off about how I need to MOVE everything.  It's all moved by the way.  ;-) 

How far have we gotten?  As far as God wants us to get.  If you remember, you heard me say at the end of the video I only wanted the house if it was God's will.  I didn't want any of it if it wasn't His will.  I stand by that.  Still today... Even after yesterday. 

Yesterday we got a call from the lender asking us to come to the office for a conference call as soon as we could.  Our appraisal came in and they needed to talk.  I've been alive long enough to know that if you ask someone to come to the office... it's not good news.  So we stopped and prayed... We prayed for God's will, a clear sign and knowing lenders and wanting to get the deal closed... we added.. that if there was a way that added any monthly expenses to the deal.. we would take it as a sign it wasn't meant to be.  Then drove over. 

8 minutes later we are sitting in front of the lender and were conferencing with the person in charge of our loan.  She is telling us that the value of the land came in 52,000 less then what it was once appraised for in 2008!!

My mind literally stopped!  How could that be?  I could see several thousand less... but 52,000 is a lot of money!!!  Our property dropped in value well over 1/3 of its value.. in under 6 years! 

It also meant that we would need to come to the table with 25,000 if we wanted to move forward. 

Money we didn't have.

 There was a way we could swing it if we wanted to get mortgage insurance and pay an extra 100.00 a month..... But remember our prayer???

Then we started crunching numbers.. the final numbers of what we owed on our first and what we were actually going to have done.. and we came to the final look that if we wanted to do this the only way we could... was not to have the garage built... and a few other minor details... and we would still have to come up with 10,000.

Again, Money we don't have... and a clear answer to the prayer we just prayed moments before. 

I sat in the office.. You could tell they were feeling horrible and I felt so bad for them.  To have to tell us what they thought was bad news... and dash our hopes and dreams...

But my hopes are in God.  And my dreams are to live the life that he wants for us.  Not to live the life I want and think I deserve. 

Lord, I meant it when I said I only wanted to live the life you want for me!!!! 

And I leaned over the phone and told the lady it was OK.  I believe in God and His plan and if there is a way... then He will find it.  But for now, I am totally fine with the info. 

Totally sad that our property has decreased that much in such a short time.. But, I know the economy of the world today... It's not as pretty and rosy as they are all letting on it is!

Hubby and I head home.  There is a slight silence in the car... (those that know me are laughing... but really there was).  And hubby looks at me and says he is sorry.  My heart fell... because I know he is not saying he is sorry for not getting the house.  I know he is saying he is sorry for other things.  And I want to reach over and hug him.

With permission from him I am allowed to share this:

Growing up, I was taught by my parents 'cash on the barrel'  I was given an allowance for everything.  I wasn't one of those kids that got to go shopping every weekend with her mother for clothes.  I was given a small amount each month to use on clothing as I chose to.  It was never enough, and I scrapped by on cheap clothes that while clothed me... never got me asked out or invited anywhere.  And to be honest... most of the time I looked down right hideous! 

I would like to stop for a moment and just say.... I blame the 80's.  It was not good to us girls!

I can remember asking my father for something and him asking me... "How's it feel to want?"  No matter how I answered he had an answer for everyway... If I said good.. It was "well I wouldn't want to spoil that" If it was bad... "Well start finding a way to earn the money and save for it."

He taught me to save!!!!  It was a lesson at the time I hated!!!

The only time he 'helped' me was when I wanted my first car.  I can remember the search for the car.  I needed a loan... I was sitting down at the dinning room table getting the lecture of all lectures... The speech that led to them shortly later co-signing on the loan for me to get the car.  They wanted to help me build my credit.. and this was there way.  If I missed one payment they would own and sell my car.  And since they clearly had followed through on everything else they had said in my entire life... I was in fear of missing even one payment.  So much so, I was always paying 2 payments ahead.... Just in case something happened I would have a month to get a new job and earn enough to make the now, tiny car payment. 

He taught me finances!!!  I paid that loan off early.  Because they taught me that having debt wasn't the in thing to do.. That working hard and paying everything off so you didn't have to pay interest on anything was the proper thing in life.....

My husband, I have recently learned, was taught this about finances and money......


His words -  The bills were paid.  There was always food on the table.  We knew we weren't well off and if we wanted something we had to use our money.  But we were never taught how to save or handle money to benefit us for the future. 

To which I tilted my head, much like a dog tilts there head and starred at him with the look of 'how is that even possible?'  And then I asked.... "You mean to tell  me you never experienced the joy of saving for something for MONTHS and MONTHS and the feeling of elation the moment you went to finally buy it?"

To which I got the blank stare.  But more like the "Crazy woman what ARE you talking about kind of stare!"  Which answers the question I have always had of when I would say... Oh I want to save for that.. and he would buy it right off for me.... BUT I WANTED TO SAVE FOR IT!!!!!!  :-(

And this is how it has effected us.... I like saving. 

Wait.... I LOVE SAVING!!!!

I also love empty shelves but I am learning to not live with that. 

My man on the other hand wasn't taught the consequences of saving for the future.  Or why you should when you have the money now to make the payment.  And while we had been doing awesome for all these years.. and even saving money... When we moved up here, running a homestead takes more money to get it off the ground.. then one would think. 

A lot more money!

A lot!!!

And I take the blame for wanting this parcel of land that we purchased.  I can see now how actually moving on to a property that actually had a house on it... and buildings that needed fixing would have been the way to go. 

A little late... I know. 

So, here we are... very little savings and not enough to pay what they want us to pay.  A tiny house loan on our property that we are now working on paying off quickly... to once again be debt free. 

We came home to work on the bee's... only to discover our last hive died... Never once did we exclaim 'why us God?"  That's not for us to ask. 

Instead we praised Him.  For through this all He is showing us what He wants from us.  We worked side by side yesterday cleaning and painting old hives, in prayer and talking. 

God is clearly saying wait.  We don't believe He is saying No.. at this time.  As for now, we will save the money and slowly do one thing at a time that needed to be done on this land to get it ready for the house... On our own.  Paying for it as we go. 

We won't have a huge kitchen to can the veggies in... for now.
We won't have a large library to display all our books...  for now.
We won't have a workout room... for now.
We won't have a guest room for friends to stay in... for now.
We won't have another dog.. for now.
We won't have ....... A large monthly payment to worry about.

We will have God's love and favor and blessing.  And each other!!  And those alone are worth more then any house large enough to walk in without bumping butts with the other.  

Then in the evening as we were cleaning up I was adding up the figures in my head and stuff that we were doing and weren't doing and it hit me.... We haven't looked at all the alternatives.... There is a way out there.. but we haven't been shown the main door...

So for now... we are waiting.

And really, I am perfectly fine with it all.....

I would like to show you houses that are ready for our resident's to move in to next week.....

We are expecting 3 bee hives to move in... and their boxes are ready.... I call it "Bear Camo".  In reality the base color was the color of our cottage.. personally it reminded me of the color of a babies first poop.  So I labeled the unlabeled can of paint...

I took a picture for you because I knew you wouldn't believe me......

We were using the paint color because really.. its just bee hives... but hubby turned his back on me for a moment and out came the other paint colors I had gotten from Lowe's when they had the 'free paint sample' coupons in the magazines!  (Thank you to those that are reading this that had sent me some!!!) I grabbed a few colors and a brush and started painting....

You should have seen the look on my father-in-laws face when he came over and asked me "What the heck are you  doing?" and I exclaimed....

"I call if Bear Camo!!!  I'm bear proofing the hives!!!"

Hehehehehe   LOL  ROFL!!!! 

Oh come on.. it's funny!!!!!!

As for now.... Since all the bee's are dead... I will be out clearing the land in the area they need to go.  So much to do.... I wouldn't have time to be in a large house with my feet up!!! 

God is awesome!!!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Types of Gardening and which one is right for you?

Remember we were working on a series about gardening?

It was really hard... talking about gardening all the time...

Really it was! 

Naw, I'm just pulling your parsnips!  Hahahaha

You can look back at The Secret to Gardening.... Part one.. where we talk about really, my history of gardening and.. we take a look at failure. 

Remember, there is no failure in gardening... Ever.. at all!

We then learned that we just need to start planting... forgetting about all the rules.. rules will come later.. first we must learn to crawl... walking comes later... You can read Where to Start in the Garden Part two... here..

And now we are ready.. to learn about the different types of gardening.  I can't cover all of them.  I don't know all of them.  But I can give you just enough to understand which one you need to research for yourself.  And maybe a little bit to understand what is right for you.. may not be right for me. 

Remember in part one... where I talked about my growing area being drastically different then yours?  Where I live and how I grow things is actually unlike any where else in the USA... quite possibly the world.  I am truly in the Pacific Northwest  along the coastline.  I won't go in to details.. You can read and research about them for yourself if you live here...

Or you can catch up with me at the local coffee shop and I will be glad to talk your ear off.  :-)

In the meantime...

1.  Container Gardening.  I use this one... for things like peppers and eggplants that are perennials... I know!! I didn't know they were either till last year.. and now I am trying to keep mine alive through the winter... Yipee!!

I built a container on the side of the stairs....

A large container planter near the house.. for specialty crops I needed to keep an eye on.

Literally... you can plant in salvaged trash!!!!
This is simple and easy for the new gardener.. you take a pot and simply plop some soil and plant your plants... The upside is you can move them... Into shade or sun.. whatever you need.

The downside... if you live in the south.. or a hot area.. you are shaking your head saying.. ya... we don't grow like that here... And all of us other people are scratching our heads and asking why??

Let me explain it... In some areas.. it gets so HOT.. literally.... for hours... that it would be near impossible to keep the plant adequately hydrated.  I know... I lived in Fresno, Ca for 21 years and I was rarely successful at it.  The sun comes out at 0700 hrs the heat is unbearable at 0930 and for several months out of the growing season.. it never cools down... Not joking.. 90' at 0200hrs is very common!

So, depending on your area.. container gardening may or may not work for you...   I'm dancing right now.. because I can garden this way!!!! 

But, I am showing sympathy for those that can't... seriously!  :-)

2.  Row planting... Into the ground... Some of us can clear the ground and plant in rows.  Leaving space between the rows to walk down and harvest the fruits and veg.  Your plants are directly in the ground at ground level.   This works for a lot of people.  And usually I would say it's a waste of space.. but last year I saw a garden planted like this.. and it was jam packed with produce.  and productive produce. 

People in hot and cold and wet and dry can garden like this... putting down a drip irrigation system would be a fabulous idea if you live in the south to give water directly to the plants roots... and lessen the evaporation.  Also, mulching the ground with wood chips... can help keep the moisture in. 

The downside to this... moles and voles have total access to your garden, from underneath.  And they can be destructive!  We finally killed the one that was tearing apart our fruit garden.  Darn boogers!!!

Some say that there is a lot of wasted space between the rows that you walk through... I disagree.. I mean your going to have to walk through or around the plants anyways... so ... choose knowing how you set it up.. you need a path of some type. 

The few reasons I don't garden like this.. is Maggie... Who has never met a nice comfortable patch of spinach she didn't like to lay in... Or any patch she didn't like to walk in... So, since she is my best garden buddy (sorry hubby) I chose another type of gardening.  I also live on a steep hill!!! Steep!!!!  So I pretty much have to terrace everything. 

We tried to grow potatoes and corn on a partial cliff side but the water just ran down and everything pretty much withered once the warm weather came.  It was a nice idea however. 

3.  Aquaponics..... Sounds like a disease.. I know.. but it's really a cool way to grow produce.  You don't use dirt.  It does take time to understand the workings of it and how it waters... feeds... and such... So, if you like the sound of it... study up. 

Basically you are growing your produce in rocks or some sort of medium other then gritty soil.. Water is filtered through a system of pipes and containers and fills up the planting area and drains out several times a day ... hour... so on... You can fertilize the plants via using fish.. or you can add your own fertilizer... I will be looking more in to adding this method of growing to our garden... Mainly for lettuce type growing.  and things that are hard to wash off the soil from. 

You need power to the system.  However you want to get it there..

It will not be my main system for growing... But I do want to try it... The reason for it not being the main are simple in my mind... 1.  I am working my soil to be self sufficient.  I don't pump a lot of store bought fertilizers and such into my soil and on my plants... I want to learn to grow without them in case I actually HAVE to grow without them.  2. I don't want to have to worry about the power to the source.  In the winter we can and have and do lose power often and for (the longest so far) 5+ days.  Usually those are during huge storms where the sun never pops out for that whole time... So, I can not depend on the sun... to power anything.

Now, down the road when I have a lot of money... I might be able to build a solar battery back up system that collect during the few days we have power and use it when we don't... but for now.. I want to concentrate on gardening consistently with what God gives me. 

Now... I would first check out this guy... and all his videos on Aquaponics and his set up...

Rob Bob is amazing.. at gardening and the set up and explaining!  Highly recommend! He is also a common name here in the USA.. how do I know that?  I was talking to someone about setting up a system and we both commented on this mans videos... and we both said his name at the same time!!!  That happened more then once....

4.  Permaculture.... Think Permanent Agriculture... this method is simple... It's creating a 'food forest' on your land and have it be self sustaining... I actually practice this method believe it or not.  I have quite a few people contact me because they hear me 'weeding' and they have read books on the topic that this is a no weeding method and very easy... let me just burst a few bubbles... it is not as easy or non labor intensive as is being talked about.  To establish a garden like this takes time.. and time and planning and time.. I know.. I am doing it now on parts of our land .. and .... sometimes my raised beds require less attention then this type of farming does.  So, read up and watch a ton of videos about it before you think.. this is perfect for me!!! I can sit back and rock in the chair and watch the food fall!!!

And, keep in mind.. most of this is done down south.  If you garden like this in the northern USA please contact me.  But most of this is down south with tropical plants... and most of these people still have regular veg plots they work.  I know... I talk to a lot of people! 

Now, I said everyone can garden this way and they can.  But not everyone can garden this way successfully!  the same way.  I get 70+ inches of rain a year and remember that hill I live on... don't email me telling me I need to build berms and capture the water... and save it.. in my area.. I need to wick it away from the fruits and veg as fast as I can.  I have a constant water source that I water all the garden with... So water isn't my main concern.  God already set it up for me.

The other thing to consider... when we lived in Fresno, Ca.. I could pull a weed and drop it and it would wither and die... It never dawned on me.. when I spent 2 days pulling weeds in the garden and dropping them in the path that they would be laughing at me and just continue to grow in the garden path!!!!!!!  Wicked I know... But up here.. you pull a weed and you put it somewhere you don't mind it possibly living... Usually I dump them over in the chicken coop area... Chickens love them.. and they don't stand a chance at survival! 

I am sharing a video with you.. I did a lot of research on this.. and well... you have to see if for yourself.  Realize that this farm he is at  is ten years old.. Yes, there are parts that are 'little maintenance' involved.. but .... there are also high maintenance area's...  I have been working the food forest garden on our land for 1 year now.. I still have a lot of work to do with it to get it self producing.  But that's the joy in gardening.  Watching your hard work take over and produce for you. 

So, watch the video.. and count how many helping hands you see in this video... and remember... it's just me up here... plus 16 chickens that work all day long.... But someone has to install the fencing to keep them in... :-)

5. Raised Beds.... This is the main way I garden.  The only flat part of this land is literally pit rock covered for a future house... everything else is a terrace or cliff .... So, I built planters to plant everything in.  I got the wood for free from our local dump that allowed me to go up and take whatever I wanted..... Literally!!! Score!!!  I built the planters filled them with good soil and they never get stepped in or compacted or ran in via a dog.. and bonus ... rain water quickly drains through them.  Which right now as I watch the rain pour from the sky.. is a good thing. 

Oh look weeds??? How did they get there!!!!

They are also raised up so I don't have to bend over that much and my back hurts less... Maggie no longer runs through them when they are at least a foot above the ground.. and I am happy.  However, chipmunks and squirrels hide in them and eat all the butternut squash.. But they would have hidden in the rows also... So it's all fair.  

The down side to this if I lived in the south would be I would have to water more... They do dry out a little faster.   But for where I am... they are the way to go.

6.  Square Foot Gardening is the way to go if you are doing raised beds and very OCD or like that look.  I tried it one year and one year only and it drove me nuts that all the plants I planted were not listening to me on how they weren't supposed to be encroaching on their neighbors square foot space... That and the end of the year when I needed to rotate crops.. it was literally a pain for me. 

If you want to read more about it... Check out this book..  Either from your local library.. which I got mine.. or from amazon... which is where the picture came from..

In my defense I also had other people at the time attempting a community garden.. and they totally didn't understand it and weren't interested... so the bed saved for several types of plants... turned in to all squash... and cucumbers.. because one person didn't label they planted it all full of squash and the other person came by and planted half of it with cucumbers.. and well....

I don't offer community gardening on my land any more...... at all!!!!!!

7.  There is the Back to Eden gardening method.. where people throw the wood chips down... which I use to maintain my moisture.. and they plant straight in that... I do a small variation of this.. but I haven't turned my whole garden area into it... I need the raised beds at this time.  

There are a ton of videos on growing this way on YouTube.  Just search it.  I spent a whole evening watching them... If you would like to watch a video.. click here.. The owner doesn't give permission to embed..

8.  You have Intensive Gardening where you grow a ton of stuff with each other.. I wouldn't do this for my first garden.. or second one either.  The research of what to plant where and what doesn't like what.. is enough to pull out a few mustache hairs.. So for a beginner... just stick with small and simple... It wins the race... But when you want to challenge yourself more.. you know its there..

Interesting article on it here... 

9.  And then if you are like me.... there is always terrace Garden.... Where you literally terrace and plant on the slope of your land...
What you see in the picture above is literally hundreds of Strawberries... blueberry plants, currents, Red and golden Raspberries... and plum and pear trees.  All on the downward slopes...

Everything in our garden moves.. nothing has found it's permanent place just yet.  But hoping that this is the magical year that it all happens.  So for now, we garden where we can. 

Each person's needs are different.  Don't get hung up on the 'type' of gardening and what is right for you..... just plant a plant in the ground and watch it grow... then experiment from there..

If you don't like your results one year... change it up the next.

Like I said... My goal in gardening is not to purchase any fertilizer... or amendments.  People literally spend hundreds of dollars on soil amendments.. like rock dust and minerals and fertilizers.. and mix up huge concoctions.. and feed their plants.. making them dependent on the additives.  Look into the Mittleider Gardening method.... Yes they get huge results and they brag about it non stop.. but if they couldn't get or afford the additives??? 

I want to use what God gave me.  And He gave us this land... with the ability to grow peppers and eggplant.. which a lot in this county can't grow.  I am perfectly happy to pull a few weeds for that trade off! 

Ok, ask me that in a few months when the weeds really start coming...

Yes, I will do a post on weeds!!!  Because they are not always bad.. and if you use them correctly they can be a benefit! 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Perfect Plan... for a Homesteader

By now, most of you know that I am far from normal.  And that we are building our forever home on our land.  See Part 1 here.. In the Beginning There was Dirt.

What is normal anyway?

But when you talk lifestyles and ways people live and try to fit them in spaces that are all designed the same way... for me????

It just plain doesn't work!!!!

Some people can live and work in a 10X10 kitchen.  I can not!

Oh Dear Lord... let me clarify PLEASE!!!!!!!!!

Dear God,
I can work in that size of kitchen and I now work in a very small kitchen.. But my dream kitchen to make me fully functional would be slightly larger then that.   But, I will work with whatever you want me to have!
Sincerely, your servant.

To be honest I need a place for all my tools... Think of me like a produce farmer.. and chicken farmer and soon to be goat and rabbit farmer.. and processor... and butcher and researcher and workout enthusiast and seamstress and computer techie .... I could so go on.. but in the end.. after having room for all of the above.. I still would like a small space to sit down and relax.

I think that's called a couch... I'm not sure we haven't owned one in over 5 years!  I did sit on one a few days ago though... with an awesome little girl that read books to me...

It was so nice!!!!

SQUIRREL!!!!!  (You know you were thinking it!!!)

So I have been told we need to pick out a floor plan first... and let me just stop you right now and say.... I have been dreaming and researching for this moment for 5 years or more!!!!

Literally!!!  I have a whole board pinned on Pinterest.. actually several for this very moment!!!

We were going to wait and have a stick built home built on our land... but we realized with some changes that happened recently, and quickly, we actually can't wait.  We need one soon... and the sooner the better.  And then there is money... we can't afford the stick built at this time... So, while praying about it heavily we are realizing this is actually the way we are to go...

Especially since after a prayer I opened a newspaper and there on the first page is the full page article on buying and designing a modular home... Can you just say... Hello Lord I hear you????

So, while hubby was off tending to business I sat down at the computer and kept myself busy pulling off house plans from manufactured homes that would work, somewhat, for us!

Maybe I should stop here and let you know that I used to tour new construction open houses for the fun of it!! Shout out to my friend Brenda who went with me!!!  and might as well tell ya, I was a realtor for 16 years.....

So, ya, this was like torture!!!!



Initially these were my 6 must/needs... I printed literally anything that would work...

1.  Master bedroom away from main living area.  With some things that have occurred I realized how horrible it is if one is sick and the master is off of the living room.  Literally you can not rest.  and everyone needs to be whispering.  Nope, we want to keep the master bedroom in the back of the house where we can close it off while the other person either sleeps or gets well!

2.  LARGE kitchen!!!!  That is a must.. I need to process the produce from the garden can up all the items, be able to own a meat slicer and have it stored somewhere and grind wheat and bake awesome goodies while roasting a chicken and have room for others to come and help me if they want to!!!!

3. Storage.... pressure canners don't just poof into hiding when you aren't using them.. Everything needs a place to be!  I need that to be in the house... somewhere!!!I should mention I am usually soaking wet most of the day since it rains 300+ days a year here.. and everything is scattered in far away buildings!

4.  Guest Room... because there are people that we love enough to invite in our home.... I still go by the adage of quests are like fish... they are only good for three days!!!!   :-)  But my adopted Sister can stay way longer!!  Hehehe

5.  A library/den for all our books.  and office work

6.  Front door must be on the short side of the house.... It's just because of how the land is placed... I don't want people feeling free to wonder around without first being hit with the door.... Seriously, you would be amazed how many people feel free to just SHOW UP and wonder around 300 feet into the land... down private stairs and all around!!!  CALL FIRST!!  Geesh!

So with those 6 items listed out on a sheet of paper we took each plan and went through them.... Hubby and I made columns on each sheet and scored them on a 1-10 scale... 10 being the best we loved...

It was like the lightening round.... 30 plans getting numbers written on them.. and passed back and forth...

Then we came to a halt... I liked one.. giving it a nine.. and hubby gave it a zero!!

Zero isn't even on the scale I cry out to him... why don't you like it????

In the end I submitted... mainly because he was right.. and because I love him... and because he was right....

But I still really like the plan!

 I could have really made this work!!!  But hubby said one thing that made me take this from a 9 to a zero in a matter of pouting moments....
"I don't want you hidden away in a far off kitchen when we have guests."

The whole reason he didn't like it was because of me!!!  So score points for him.. and shed a tear for the covered porch off the kitchen!!! 

Man I loved that idea......

So we kicked around several floor plans... Not wanting to go too wild or huge and keeping it respectable and within reason.  The last thing we want when people come into the house is to feel like they can't afford the air in the place.. let alone be comfortable... So we tried to restrain ourselves...

And in the end... We found and fell in love with this....

Without the optional deer gutting tub nor the 4th bedroom. 

But we didn't leave this plan as it is.  It needed a little bit of tweaking!  partly because a living room and a family room???  To me is wasted space.  We like to be together all the time... So....

This is where the green pen came in handy.  Hubby took over that part because he is used to drawing out plans or details.... That and every time I came close to making a mark on the page he flinched!  It was rather cute!!!! 

Actually is was really really cute!!! 

We contacted a lady from the manufacturer to help us design what we wanted and get the changes from our idea's to actual plans and start the process for building it. 

They didn't have their model available to walk through.. but they did have this one... which was close..

Close enough we knew it was what we wanted... You should have seen the expression on her face when we told her we wanted to bump the dining room into the family room and enlarge the kitchen!!!  Hahahaha.. Priceless!! She was awesome to work with.. She literally NEVER said no!!!

So what were the changes we actually are making???
Ummmm.. nice straight lines there my lover!  :-)

For starters the house has to be mirrored.. to fit our land..  cabinets along the entire kitchen wall.. 2 deep sinks.  and taking away the family room and creating a hallway with a room off the kitchen for storage.  and then as you pass the storage room you enter into hubby's library!  With the master bedroom in the far back corner. 

There is no center island in the kitchen.  I plan on building it somewhat like the Downton Abbey kitchens.. with the big long tables down the middle.  I actually have a large 7' library table that will go there.. along with several other tables.  and benches underneath for sitting on to shell peas!  Hooks for a pot rack, Finally!!!!

Yes I have it all planned out in my head!!!!!!  I've already made several batches of cookies in the kitchen!  I can almost smell them!!!

Those are the big changes.. the little changes are just minor upgrades... You know like a switch for a generator... when we lose power...

Well that and a whole house fan.  We don't need an A/C unit we just need a way to open the windows and pull ALL the cooler air in and push all the hot air out the roof area. 

There turned out to be an extra bedroom and we are turning that in to Hubby's workout room.  OK, mine also... But it's for Hubby!!!!  And the view that he will have of the bay... is going to be awesome!!!!!! 

OK, the view the kitchen and living room will have, will be of the long driveway... But you won't ever see me complaining...  EVER!!!  Because I can work a garden on the cliff that's on the other side.. like no ones business!!!!!  A cliff of flowers!!!!!!????

Oh and we were able to move the front door off to the far right end of the home. 

So, we have it all planned and drawn up and by the time we actually got home Pamela had it sent off to the builder to see if it's all doable and how much it will set us back...

So I am asking for prayer... for the figures to be workable.. and doable for us.  And for us to be ok with the things that we won't be able to afford...

As always, I am praying for God's will!  If he wants us to have it as we feel it would work best for us.. then He will make it clear.  If he doesn't... then I don't want it. 

I want only what He wants me to have.


He knows me and my future better then I do.  I depend upon Him to design the house around what will come in the future.

With that said... What do you all think?

Oh and here are pictures of the kitchen from the home that we saw... the kitchen and dinning room combined... are slightly smaller then the new kitchen.

Picture towards the left...

Picture towards the right....

I'm getting the feeling that I might just be a little crazy for wanting a 23.5" by 13" kitchen!!  Not including the laundry room that is just through the door!!!!  Crazy??? 


I'm perfectly normal!!!! 

Perfectly normal!!!!!

(just let me pretend!!)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

In The Beginning..... There was dirt.....

Here it goes... the post that starts all posts... and sets us up for a series of posts that a lot of you are wondering.

We were wondering also 6 years ago as we were starting the process to move up here.

You find the piece of land.  You wonder, where do we put the house?  The septic, the well, the outbuildings?

And how do we go about getting permits.. and inspections.. and...??

Your head starts to swim and you literally go into overload...

Then after all the running around you do, you actually end up with a house.  And the rest is total history and it's like labor pains.. you forget how utterly painful most of the process really was.

6 years ago we built a small.... very small little cottage on our land.  The county knew (fully aware) that it would become the studio in the future when we wanted to build our main house.

For now, we just wanted to move up here and we needed a place to put our head while we worked the land and built the sheds and oversaw the whole process.

Well, things moved along and some good and some horrible things happened in our worlds.. and one thing led to another and we found ourselves living in this little cottage for 5 years.

Way to long if you ask either of us.

WAY TO LONG!!!!!!!!!

We had a modular home built and designed for our immediate needs... which was 5 years ago!  And we have sense grown out of that.. but lets look at the plan for the heck of it.

This is basically our floor plan now...  The heater is in the wrong place and there are to many upper cabinets in the kitchen and the fridge is in the wrong place.. and.. the sink is not stuck in the corner... and the front door is in the wrong room..  But it's basically the same as ours.

I like this plan so much better!!!!!!  Except I would still make more changes to it...

Our Cottage
The small changes that we made were as follows...
1.  Added a pocket door from the living room to the hall.  I highly recommend!  It not only cuts down on the noise in a small house... but it allows us to close the door and use a space heater to heat just the living area... and we can sneak off to a cold bedroom to cuddle under the covers!!! Love this!!  Totally worth every 600.00+

2.  We put the closet door to the small bedroom opening to the hall.  Making bedroom #2 an office.. but also allowing me a place to put food.  There is no pantry in the kitchen...

3.  We had the whole place sheetrocked... I just couldn't live in a modular that was going to 'look' like a modular.  I know... I am shallow... Let me pretend!!!

4.   Put linoleum throughout the whole house... Totally recommend it.. It's wood colored so it looks (if you pretend) that you have wood floors..  We did this because the whole area was surrounding us in dirt.  Actually Mud staining clay!!!!!!!  It was all mud all around us.... And I know myself.... and we have a dog... I wanted to be able to mop up the mess and not worry about anything else.

There were a few other upgrades.. but those were the ones we needed to have.

What I wish we would have done... was raise the window in the kitchen and put lower cabinets all along that window wall.  I love the window in the hall idea option on this new plan.... Awesome idea they have there.

So with all that said... we are now on the adventure of building a new house.   We actually NEED to.  other then we both love books a little to much and we now live in what we call a 'sleeping closet'  because this isn't California and you have to have 'real' coats in this area of the woods.. and you actually have to dress in layers and stay warm.. and having multiple jackets and large coats and fleeces.. and.... you have to have a set of clothes for work that are going to get muddy and icky and a set for actually going out and seeing people.. and...

No.. I refuse to wear the muddy clothes into town!!!!!!!

Foot down stomping yes, I still want to look nice when I go out in public.

Even though my style has morphed into something closely related to what everyone else here wears.... I still want to be clean and smell good.

So, I need separate clothes for that.  And this all takes larger closet space... So last month we changed the small bedroom into a large closet.. with a bed in the middle.

Don't laugh...

It actually works...



Hahahahahaha  It is funny!!!!

And let's not even talk about the kitchen... There is no storage for anything!  Most all of my tupperware hasn't seen the light of day in the 5 years.  It's all still stored away in the shop.  And the food is literally in multiple spots on the land.  A tiny closet can not hold what a family needs for a few weeks!  So when I want to can up some produce... I march up to the shop to get the canning jars.. gather all the items from ALL OVER the house in secret spots... can everything up... then hide the completed jars all over the land.. in any building that has a spare spot!

You think I am joking.. I know... I can hear it in your giggles!


I really wish I was kidding.... Somewhere on this land is awesome pineapple squash that I can't remember where I stuffed it!!!!!!

Proof I made it!!!! 

But back to the land.  We want to build a new house on the land... and to do that we have to finally move the dirt mound on the top of the hill... There are actually 2 of them.

We also need to get rid of all the dirt!!!!  using it to create level areas.. and fill in areas.. and so on...

I need to move the garden.. but I need to know how much of the garden I need to actually move.. I also need to create a garage pad.. but again.. how much of one do I really need?

We need to pull permits and either decommision the cottage from a living area to a plain studio or go and see if they will give us a waiver if a family member needs to move into it.

 We need to do a lot of things... but what to do first.. is the question.  And while I have tons of things that I need to do first on my mind.. And I usually save the best for last...

In this case.. we actually have to do the best first!!!!!


We need to pick out a floor plan to see how much space we actually need to clear to build!!!

Doesn't that sound fun???  

So next time...... Picking the perfect floor plan for the homesteading lifestyle!!!!


Monday, January 26, 2015

A quick update....

Well, a lot has been happening on the homestead and with family.... Here are the changes that you can look for...

We will be praying for and have been getting serious bids for a new much larger home.  693sqft for 5 years is just to long.  I was asked to do a podcast about living in a tinyish home and I said yes... because we learned so much.... and literally it would be a good idea to do if it helps others...

We have a lot of trees that must come down... we have 2 major piles of dirt that need to be removed... relocated and areas that need to be graded and filled in.  We have the temporary garden that needs to be removed and relocated down in the chicken yard area... ... and a chicken yard that needs to be relocated... More Bee hives that will be arriving in just a few months.  And....... well.... today we ordered an incubator... looks like we are going in the chicken making business!!!!

This morning we hopped in the car after choosing the floor plan we loved online the most and making major changes to it... we drove up the manufacturer and started the process to have them design it.  We got to view one that looked very similar to the one we are making the changes to... and .....  

Please pray that it's not overly expensive for us.. That God is in the middle of it all and that the county continues to smile as we walk in asking stupid questions. 

I have a garden to plant and seed and no idea where it's all going to go..... (can't plant in the beds that need to be moved!!!!!)

These are the changes that are currently occurring on the land...   I could go on.. but I will be posting here about all the details... so if you are looking at buying and setting up a home.. and don't have a clue as to how to do it.. or where to start.....  Stay tuned... there is more to come!!