We Moved!

Well not really…just in web space. You can find us here now, http://thefarmhandhomestead.com/

Make sure you comment on the newest post to be entired into the giveaway happening tomorrow.

~Sarah

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Adventures with Scotty Part II

Two years, a house, and a baby later we are back at it again. Working on the Scotty camper that is.

Do you remember when we bought her?  Oh how I thought we would have her finished by the summer. Well life happens. But this weekend Brook and I had another stay-cation for our anniversary. Our goal was to get the floor finished.

After our camper demolition we had the frame sandblasted and powder coated. If you remember, last Christmas I got wheel wells, wood, screws, and nuts and bolts. What girl would get excited over those things on Christmas morning? Yep, me!

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I know you are wishing you had a minivan to haul plywood!

We went with a pressure treated plywood for the floor. I did the sanding and staining while Brook took all the measurements off the old trailer and cut the wood to size.  The stain is a cherry color. We will coat it with Zar’s wood floor finisher once the floor is complete.

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It was and still is a puzzle putting this camper back together. We kept all the old pieces to take measurements but for some reason they just don’t work on the new camper. It could be that the old one is so deteriorated.

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And this is what was accomplished in a day. I really hope it does not take two more years to start the walls. We are having a family reunion in Idaho this summer. How awesome would it be to take this beauty on a road trip. I think the girls would have a blast. That is if they can stay in their car seats for two whole days.

One day it will look like this. It just has to.

Follow my other visions for the Scotty camper here.

Why I Don’t Make My Own Laundry Soap

There are two things I don’t do around here. One, make my own cleaning products and two, use cloth diapers. There I said it!

I can hear all of you gasping for air…. “What kind of homesteading mama is she?”

One who likes to keep her sanity!

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Believe me, I have tried making laundry soap on several occasions. The truth is, it does not work. My husbands laundry is smelly and dirty. Who am I kidding, mine are too. We work hard and play hard. Plus, that huge bucket took up way to much space in my laundry room.

The reasons I like homemade laundry soap is that it seemed to be the safer alternative for our very old septic system.  The previous owners did a great job of keeping it in working condition, so I really do not want to break it.

My problem…. I could not to find a laundry soap or a bleach alternative that I really liked that was environmentally safe as well as safe for our septic system.

My accidental discovery happened while at the health food store buying Grace and Hannah omega vitamins. The owner of the shop introduced me to the Melaleuca Company. I heard of them before and how great their cleaning products were.  Needless to say I went home and did some research. What I found out about the cleaning agents I was using was shocking. Caustic chemicals in my hand soap, dish soap, shampoo, and so on, absorbing into mine and my families bodies. These chemicals can act as hormones, cause asthma, skin issues, cancer, and infertility.

WHAT!!! I have been trying my hardest to keep my family healthy and safe by raising our own food and eating fairly clean, but I was blind to what we were cleaning our home and our bodies with.

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It was a wake up call for me. We are now a part of the Melaleuca Company. The best part, their cleaning products ROCK! They really work. That little bottle of hand soap has lasted me two months and it is only half way empty. Not to mention I can order everything on my computer and it comes right to my door. That means less trips to Target tempting me to spend more money. Now if Melaleuca only sold diapers.

Home Cheese Making Class

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Fear can be one of those things that cripple us into not pursuing our passions. For some of us, there is a nagging voice in the back of our head telling us that we are not good at _____and we will fail. So today I am going to try and overcome a fear. I am no expert, by no means, but I have been making simple home cheeses and yogurts for a few years. When I was looking for classes I could not find anything local. Yes, I learned from reading, youtube, and through purchasing a kit. But, I still wanted that personal interaction with a real live human being! Something we do not get enough of these days. So after much thought, a practice class with friends, and wrestling with my fear I am offering a basic home cheese making class to you.  If you are local to Lancaster County, PA, join me and another fellow cheese lover for a night of exploring CHEESE!

What you will experience:

  • 2 ½  hours learning terms, making, sampling, and conversing with likeminded individuals.
  • Making ricotta, mozzarella, chevre, and learning about kefir.
  • Sampling what you make and taking your final product home.
  • Small class size. Limit 2 persons per class.

Price: $35.00 per person.

Dates: October 14th and October 28th

Time: 6:00pm – 8:30pm

Special instructions: Please bring a quart size mason jar with lid or something equivalent and two containers for your soft cheeses.

**I do use raw milk from a local farm. I believe it makes a better cheese product.**

 

How do I sign-up?

E-mail me at thefarmhand08@outlook.com with your contact information and I will get in touch with you. I will post when classes are filled and put you on a waiting list for next month.

Weekending

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Oh September…warm summer like days and crisp autumn nights. We rang in the first weekend of fall with some fair fun and then a September picnic. It was full of good friends and family, delicious food, and cozy fireside conversations. I think my favorite part was watching the kids running up and down the hill making their own kind of fun. Sage was in her glory with all the kids to play with. The agenda for today is to cut and stack wood for winter preparations. Hope you are enjoying your weekend just the same.

Why We Do What We Do

 

Around here canning season is starting and soon to be in full force. This means less sleep and less of my undivided attention on the children. This is the time when my anxiety levels rise because there is never enough time in the day. The house is usually a disaster zone because all my effort goes into stocking up.  I question our motives for why we do what we do.  We seem to take on more and more each year.

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I have been scribbling notes on this topic because it has been on my mind of where we are, where we have come from, and where we are heading in the future. Seven years ago when Brook and I got married we began our little garden. Oh how I wish we had pictures to show you. It was not pretty! Brook got his love of gardening from helping his grandfather on his organic farm. I had a small garden growing up and helped my mom make jam and freeze beans and corn.  I can remember riding the bus as a young girl and passing one farmhouse with a big red barn, daydreaming about the day I would live in a place like that.

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Setting out on this path to self sufficiency we never thought of it as homesteading. We really just wanted to know where our food came from and to stock up on a few things for the winter. Each year it grew into more. First the chickens and later the beef cow and the pig. We added a few fruit trees to the place we rented. Next, we planted a few berry bushes and along came the bees. Then the Lord blessed us with our dream home. A farmhouse and barn to raise our children. It has just enough acres to plant our roots and establish a small homestead. Over the years things have evolved into more than just wanting to know where our food comes from.

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 It has become so automatic to go to the store and grab some food without a thought of how it was grown or raised.  Do you really trust the government with the quality of food you eat? It is a satisfying feeling when you sit at the table and look at what you have grown and produced with your own hands. Just the other day Grace wanted to go to a particular restaurant. We were running errands all day and so I agreed, thinking it would be fun for my girls and I to go out to eat together.  I was really disgusted with the quality of the food and the price I paid for soup and salad. That moment made me appreciate the work Brook and I put into raising, growing, cooking, and baking wholesome food for our family.  We could throw in the towel at any moment, but that is not us. When we sit around our table and say our prayers there is a connection to the land and the past generations who lived this way. It was the only way they knew. Nothing was artificial or overly processed. The ingredients were real and honest. Today we do it by choice, because we want to get back to the basics of real, honest, and wholesome food that tastes good and is good for us. It is a joy to watch the girls race to the chicken coop when they hear the chicken clucking or to sit with me and help me prep tomatoes for sauce.

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Homesteading is more of a way of life for us. We can show and teach our children that things are not automatic. If you want something you need to work for it. This kind of life is hard work, but it is so rewarding. Around here if we need something we work for it or we make it ourselves. There is not much to spare at the end of the month but that is the choice we made. We are investing in our children right now. Not only are we nourishing there bodies with homegrown foods but also their minds, souls, and faith. We are raising them to have a connection to the land. For everything there is a season. Our season now is our children. We do not have a penny to spare on retirement or even putting away for college savings. My plan for now is to sell the farm to pay for some of the girl’s college. We believe they should have to put toward their school of choice. Then buy a VW Vanagon and be hippies with no strings attached. We all know the Lord has better plans.  Brook hopes so! As for me, I think I would not mind it.

Vanagon - down by the river. Not quite what I have but the sentiment is there.

Tale of Two Tables

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You know the old saying “A cat has nine lives.”  Well I think this table might have just as many. It was picked out of the dumpster by the greatest dumpster diver of all time, my father-in-law. He always finds the greatest treasures. They may not look like much when he brings them home but they usually turn into something very useful. The moment I saw this table it was not love. It sat behind the horse trailer at our previous house and added to the junk yard. Then the industrial craze started to take hold and I looked at it differently. Brook thought I was nuts. I had big plans for it in a future studio. Well, Brook chucked it in the dumpster again before we moved into the new house. I made sure we kept it. Once everything was moved to the new house last May I noticed the legs were missing. Hmmm…. well they were bent anyway. I was just happy he saved the top. Just last month I found a pair of legs on craigslist that matched the top of the workbench perfectly.  So Brook got to work.  He put it together and I decided the top was really weathered. He took the metal frame off the sides and flipped it upside down. We decided on two pieces of barn wood for the bottom shelf. After pressure washing, sanding, and minwaxing, I sealed the wood with three coats of Zars floor sealer. I love having this huge work space to create.  I wish I had a picture of what it looked like before we started but I am too impulsive and forget about these things. Sorry, trust me it was bad!

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 The second table was another one I had to convince Brook of saving. When we moved into this house the previous owners left a few things and one of them was an old rickety table made of conduit piping and plywood. I fell in love with it and Brook just laughed at me for seeing the beauty in it. I love my old farmhouse but the one thing I could use more of is counter space. I thought if I could make a breakfast bar it would free up some space on the counter. We decided to throw out the microwave and toaster and buy a toaster oven. I have my reasons for getting rid of the microwave.  Just those health conscience hippie reasons, if you know what I mean.  It has taken me a while to do it, but I am glad I did.  I was on the lookout for table options when Brook mentioned the table in the barn. It was about 6 feet long so he discarded the top, cut, and welded the frame to about 4 feet. Once again we went to the barn for some wood to make a top. At first we used three boards but decided it would look better with four. After more pressure washing, sanding, and using minwax, I sealed it with three coats of Zars floor sealer. 

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What more could a girl need other than a coffee bar and a place to create.

More coffee = more time to create. Who needs sleep?