The days like breaths have come and gone,
some deep and intentional,
filling our lungs until forced to surrender,
others shallow, involuntary, unnoticed.
Rise and fall,
rise and fall.
We’ve inhaled and exhaled a year of mountain air;
witnessed four seasons as they’ve blown in and out.
Hear the wind blow, dear,
hear the wind blow.
Has it really been a year since we broke ground on our homestead? Merely typing that rhetorical question makes me feel a bit bereft. For my hubby and me, this past year seems like a mountain mirage. We find ourselves in a sort of trance on this current of sunrise, sunset. Our kids, however, seem to have the opposite impression. The Captain has begun referring to all his many six-and-a-half pre-homestead years as “the old days.” His early years in the city seem to have faded in his mind like a chalk mural on a rainy day.
“Remember the old days when we lived in that really tall building, and we had to drive to the park?” Yes, yes I do.
As for Goldilocks, she recalls “our old house” (the one we lived in a little over a year ago) with an estranged curiosity. She has no memory whatsoever of the city. And, having intentionally not visited any since, her only reference for the word “city” is from the heavily euphemized illustrations that emerge from her storybooks.
Our days up here have each served our children the same twenty-four hours given to us. Yet, we’ve perceived them in entirely different lengths. To me this proves two things. One, I think my husband and I might be getting old. And two, it seems that our dream of raising our children on a homestead has been realized. In fact, one day our kids may hardly be able to recall anything of their childhood besides. This realization has me feeling humbled and something like being out of breath.
Why is it that living one’s dream still feels like dreaming? How I wish I could fully awaken to the wonders all around me and drink in their sobriety. How I wish I could yet devour the days the way our children do. Even up here in the rugged elements and blinding mountain sunshine, we too “see through a glass darkly.” (1st Corinthians 13:12)
EVERYTHING WE DID OUR FIRST WINTER ON THE HOMESTEAD:
Dug up “Snow Potatoes” . . .
The first snow (October) tagged us before we were fully prepared. We hadn’t exactly “winterized” yet and in our frenzy to “rescue the last of the tomatoes” we abandoned the potatoes. Then we forgot about them entirely. More than a month went by before my hubby dug them up from under a foot of snow and ice a few days before Christmas. To my astonishment, they were absolutely perfect. No wonder potatoes have saved entire populations. Not to take the starch out of anyone whose nutrition philosophy is anti-potato, but after growing these for the first time, I have no choice but to hail the potato plant as nothing short of a miracle.
Feasted out of the deep freezer . . .
What we ate out of the freezer this winter (and still eating):
- tomato sauce
- tomato stock (for soups and stews)
- salsa verde/tomatillo sauce
- green beans
- pumpkin & butternut squash puree
- wild venison
In addition to freezer fare, we also enjoyed homegrown:
- refrigerator pickles
- herbal tea
- tented mushrooms (read on)
- fresh window herbs
Built indoor window beds for next year’s “Winter Greens” . . .
We are stoked to start growing in these. Stay tuned for plans, pictures, and results next winter!
Started early seeds . . .
Seeds we start really early (in January and February):
- calendula (for those first frost-hardy blooms)
Pre-assembled Raised Birdies Beds in the basement . . .
We’ve been doing quite a lot of “gardening” in the basement this winter. Three cheers for warm and cozy cultivating! And three more cheers for Raised Birdies Beds. You can read all our thoughts on these “Cadillac of grow beds” here.
Got the “Lettuce Grow” going . . .
Meet Mr. Lettuce Grow, or as my mom calls it “Lettuce R2D2.” I laughed out loud when my hubby brought it home, but I’m not laughing now. This contraption is incredible and deliciously easy, which to be honest is a welcome and necessary thing on the homestead sometimes. I’m fairly confident that with this hunk of plastic and LED lights we will be able to keep ourselves in salad all year long. And at four bucks a head of lettuce at the grocery store, growing eighteen of them at a time in the basement feels pretty ding-dang awesome, my friends.
Ordered stuff . . .
A few things we ordered ahead:
- veggie and herb seeds
- seed starter mix
- clover and wildflower seeds
- a dandelion weed remover tool
- sacks and sacks of grain for growing mushrooms
- Epic gardening journal
Researched stuff . . .
Stuff we researched by the fire this winter:
- chicken coop designs
- chicken runs or “chicken tractors”
- chicken breeds
- dog kennels
- barn/shop kits
- greenhouse designs
- all things mushroom
Speaking of mushrooms, we’ve harvested fifteen pounds so far out of the basement . . .
Growing mushrooms has been so much cooler (and tastier) than I could have imagined. Don’t lose faith in me, I’m still getting a special mushroom cultivation post ready for you all. There will be fungus among us soon!
Pruned our fruit trees . . .
There’s nothing quite as invigorating as a fresh haircut!
. . . and Dreamed Spring!
Wait! What about fall?
For those of you who have been following our previous “everything we did” posts, you may have noticed that we did not have a fall edition. The reason for this is simple: we didn’t have one . . . a fall that is. By the time we realized that our last weeks of summer were actually our first weeks of fall, it began to snow. And snow. Still snowing.
You can read our other seasonal highlights posts here:
Thanks so much for taking a peek at our homestead today! If you enjoyed this post, please share with another hopeful homesteader! 🙂
Love, Candace Arden
~Our Holistic Homeschool~