October 2, 2013

Turnips and Fruit decisions

No video yet and so much has changed already. I need to keep reminding Jake. Life is busy with three children.

So far we have gotten all the major things done outside before winter with the exception of fruit trees being planted. That will happen early November, but we will start prepping for that soon.

We have decided on which varieties of each fruit tree. They are:

Apples - Gold Delicious, Honey Crisp, and Gala (possibly a Fuji)
Pears - Bartlet and Anjou
Peaches - Red Haven
Plum - Stanley
Cherries - Stella

Jake is adamant on semi-dwarf. I am okay with this since it will yield more fruit, but I want to make sure they are not too close to the house.

I want to do more reading on grapes before venturing into that. Berry bushes are easy enough and we have enough going on trying to learn fruit tree maintenance.

Looking forward to a fun winter of research, planning, and organizing the home. Maybe we will do some indoor herbs.

June 15, 2013


Wow. 11 months since the last post.  Well, there really hasn't been too much to report up until now except getting a couple cool appliances and a little bit of canning and freezing experimentation.  Since I started pinterest it has been fun pinning things related to gardening, food preserving, animals, and country life in general.

The big news is that we just moved into our new home on 6 acres!!! The ecosystem seems to be very well balanced here, except for maybe the ticks, but we will be working on that!  There is a small pond that seems to have happened when they dug out some dirt to cover the sewer drain field. Which is ok for frogs and other insect eaters! Jake and I just talked this morning about maybe digging it deep and landscaping it nicely, possibly stocking with some Koi or something.

The home is a 3 bed, 2 bath home with a basement.  The basement had some flooding when foreclosed because the sump pump did not run. It was sold really cheaply for around $25,000 and someone flipped it.  We purchased the home for $75,000. The flip was done very well.  Nice new paint and new carpet as well as the waterproofing in the basement.

The possibilities are endless with these 6 acres for us.  We are just beyond ourselves with awe that God has allowed us to purchase such a beautiful piece of land. There is a bit of low land, not really marshy, but I think once we take care of the brush with some animals it will be good.  Fruit trees would probably not survive in the wet ground out back, but we think the front yard might be a good home for some apple, cherry, pear, plum, and cherry, maybe peach.

For animals we know we'd like a few sheep and chickens.  We have talked about just 2 pigs for the garden plots and for bacon. :)   A cow or two is not out of the question.  Goats are a toss up.  It is just a question of what might be available to us locally.  I already know of a goat farm that a new friend helps with the milking. I would love to get my hands on some raw goat milk for some cheese.

Right now we will just enjoy the horses grazing across the street out our front window and some to the west. Did I mention we are just a stone throw from and all-sports lake?

The garden will evolve over the years and we will learn what we do and don't want to do. I'd like to major on one crop to grow well and sell on the road side and then maybe some extras of our bounty, but I want to be generous to church and family and friends first. It is important to me that I start growing a large enough garden to preserve over the winter for the family. Then I can think about turning a little profit from the land.

As far as the home and buildings go, here is a list of our projects in somewhat of an order of priority to us.

1) Dehumidifier in the basement and fix sump pump pipe.
2) Whole house fan is ordered and Jake wants to install it soon before the really hot MI summer days get here. Currently the house is staying cool most of the day with the windows shut.  I think it got to 79 outside yesterday and the thermostat never went above 75!  Hot days are coming though!
3) Shed - We need a place at least for a garden tractor, workshop, garden tools, and bikes!  We are currently thinking of one that is big enough for our SUV. Forking out the money for it is the hard decision.
4) Wood stove - We would like to somehow do some venting to the rooms through the attic.  Jake is excited about this idea. It would save a lot of energy! We also think getting it done before fall might be a better price for the installer. (?!)
5) Tree planting.  We need to decided on where to put some shade on the property.  I am hoping to have a 2-3 sugar maples and maybe a nut tree.
6) Back deck and front steps as well as landscaping around the house - This will be held off until spring most likely and we will need to budget it into our financial plan.
7) Greenhouse - Jake plans to fit it with hydroponics (all legal plants of course!) I will also claim part of the greenhouse to start seedlings in good ole dirt. :)
8) Animals

We do not plan to get animals until we pay off the house with the exception of chickens for eggs.  We won't be doing much with the back acreage until then. That will also give us time to plan for the animal barn and think about what animals would best suite our needs.

It has been 2 years, 3 months since we began this journey. It is so exciting to be here, especially with the delays the bank gave us.  We can now begin to do the things that we have been dreaming of. We will face the realities and challenges of country life! Hopefully our next post will be a video tour of our home and the clean drawing board we have to develop our little hobby farm and homestead.

Glory to God!

August 6, 2012

Keeping Big Picture

An update would be good before the month passes.

Jake's job situation is doing well, although his change from working at home to a commute has complicated some things, he will be transitioning back to home soon it looks like.  There is nothing like having a hubby that gets up early to finish the day by 3-4ish.  That extra hour is priceless with our little ones.  Right now we also have a lot of home projects to do as well. Evenings go by so fast!

It is a bit of a dilemma to have money to spend, desire to save, but then have a lot of things that we can do to improve our current home.  We have to prioritize and budget what is necessary and what we can look forward to after we get land.  It is all very exciting, but it is easy to rush certain things and neglect other priorities.  Keeping goals and writing down priorities should really help to keep focus.

Here are some things to remember:

1) No Debt
2) Budget Healthy Meals
3) Not too much dreaming - God knows our desires and true satisfaction is found in daily seeking Him!
4) Take care of what you have and enjoy it!

 I can get stuck in the details and forget about the big picture, but I LOVE finding movies like this to keep the inspiration going.  

July 12, 2012

A Realistic Garden - Lots of Variety!

First I want to apologize for the hideous formatting. Out of desperation I had to make something visable.  I am wondering if it is my blog theme that is causing issues.

I found a website that gives a planting schedule for the vegetables/fruits in our zone. This will give me a realistic idea of what Vegetables I can grow.   Zones 5-6 Planting Schedule. 

I found many sites that list some plants that are grown in zone 5, but they do not list ALL plants grown in zone 5.  I am thoroughly annoyed by this that I can't find a list of all common plants in zone 5. Even better, it would be nice to see a list that is categorized by plant type.(ornamental, vegetable, fruit, etc...) If anyone finds such a list, please pass it my way!  I may need to search at the library for this one.

Another site I just ran across is Harvest to Table. They also list a lot of farm and gardening blogs that I want to check out so I bookmarked for a later date.

I also appreciated the planting schedule at 2BSeeds that lists all hardiness zones and veggies.

Here are all foods we eat regularly that I would like to at least say that I attempted.  Some of these things we might do better to just buy in bulk from the experts (i.e. rice, beans, wheat, and oats)
Green beans
Swiss Chard
Black beans

Fruit trees are a dream to me.  I know it can be difficult to do organic, but I would like to at least try:

Fruit, melon, and squash
Butternut Squash
Acorn Squash

Black Walnut (perhaps a dwarf variety and away from other plants)
Almond (great ornamental front yard tree)

Herbs - basil, cilantro, parsley, chives, lavender, rose hip, rosemary

Flowers and trees (besides the already listed)  Peony (will be the first thing planted on our land...) , lilacs (every color), daisies, pansies, coleus, holly, roses, maple, did I mention lavender and lots of it!

July 11, 2012

Plans A, B, and C

While discussing timing/living options in preparation for our long term goals we came up with three plans.

Plan A)
    1. Move single wide to land to avoid lot rent and save more monthly.
    2. Save money to build home (the beauty of this is if we decide we don't like the land or the location we can sell the land and home, or attempt to, and possibly make money on it. Testing out the spot as it were and still having a well/septic set up for a more attractive sale.)
    3. After money is saved, build home on land while living in singlewide
    4. Sell single wide cheap or give it away to a needy family
    5. If we plan to stay and build we can use the current slab from the singlewide for part of the barn.

Plan B) Same as plan A, but purchasing a doublewide for temporary use instead of a singlewide. Here we would be a little more comfortable with more kids and could take longer to save to build what we need.

Plan C) This plan is simply to not build long term and to move a double wide onto the land to live in indefinitely.  The advantage of this plan would be the sq. footage of the home, possibly a 4 bedroom with a four-season room and more money to work with for animals, garden, and pond. The disadvantage of this plan is that we will not get the efficient home we wanted long term.

Plan D) Stay where we are paying lot rent, taking longer to save to build. We can still purchase and plan while living here.  This is a tough one because all that lot rent could go into saving for a build.

All of these are still being discussed and we may think of another plan as we consider the above options. We are in no rush, well, maybe a little out of excitement. Hehe. It is fun to discuss our future together with the children and we are even thinking about what a nice place we could have for the grand kids to come visit, Lord willing.  Who knows where God might call us to or away from.  Our lives are ultimately in His hands. Nothing gets past Him without his approval!

July 10, 2012

Educating and Decisions on Land

Since we are almost out of debt and attempting a savings we now are in "research" mode. We feel somewhat settled in our temporary home from the downsizing and fixing up we have done.  This time will be spent doing a lot of work on big picture, long term plans.  Where do we want to raise our family?  Where could we stay through our retirement?  Would we be close enough to town if Jake had to get a 9-5 punch clock job? Would I still be able to be a part of a homeschooling community? What about church? These are the kinds of questions, as would be expected, that we have been asking ourselves.

One thing we are keeping a close eye on are tax auctions for the counties we would consider being in.  We plan to attend one or two of the auctions this year to see what they are like.  There are 2 or 3 pieces of land that are desirable we may take the plunge on with what little savings we have at the moment, but it would only be if no one else bid on them, which is probably unlikely.

After much prayer, consideration, and lots of talking in between our children's needs we really do think the following things are important factors in our land decision for what we need the land for. We tried to think big picture and also look at important details. There are of course details not listed that should be considered with all land purchases (well, bugs, soil testing, mineral rights, etc...)

-At least 4 acres (at the very least)
-Either on water or large enough to dig a pond
-No more than 40 minutes from town we currently live in
-Close to a small town
-Preferably not next to farm land or wetland
-Able to have a few animals (chickens, bunnies, maybe a cow for meat(which would require a barn, in which case more than 4 acres would be best.))
-Electricity available at street (need to consider changing our blog name! We still want to do wind/solar, but still want to be connected to the grid to avoid battery storage.)

This is a fun time for us. We don't have to think too seriously right now, but still enjoying and being content with where we are right now in our decisions and the provisions we have at the moment.  While we focus on taking care of what we have we are excited for the future.  It would be nice to get out of lot rent (It was just raised $20/month), but we would not want to rush anything just to get out of lot rent.  We knew it would be like this, we are just anticipating our next step.