Thursday, March 31, 2016

Why I Read the Little House Series




I've always been a reader.
Since I was young, I've had favorite books
that transported me to places I knew I'd never see.
One special moment came in the 4th grade
when I was leaving my beloved teacher and class behind
to move to Florida with my family.
We'd been reading  
Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach
and savoring every page.
When my teacher awarded me the book,
signed by her,
I felt about 10 feet tall.
I still have that book.

Books can serve as reminders of where life can take us.
No matter our circumstances,
we can overcome anything to create our dream life.
It's possible 
because authors make those dreams come true

I don't remember reading The Little House Series
when I was coming up.
Not sure if it wasn't in the curriculum
or if teachers in those days chose the books we read.
One thing I know for sure though.
I'm so glad I discovered them in my 50's.
Yeah, I'm 55 and I read (present tense) the Little House Series.
There is something so compelling about them.
They connect me to the part of myself
that I like the best, the homsteader in me.

Here are a few reasons why they are so dear:

1.  Historical significance-
I'm a sucker for anything having to do with American history, especially pioneering times.
It's amazing what families had to endure to settle themselves
in the old West.  From the wagon trains to staking a claim,
to living out their lives on their own homestead in a hand-hewn cabin, 
I marvel at the resilience of the early pioneers.

2.  The homesteading philosophy-
Starting a homestead from scratch meant that settlers had to make do with what was available.  
That meant keeping things as basic as possible, 
as well as using what Mother Nature provided to survive.
This included everything from the cabin's construction materials, to the food they ate, 
to making sure water was readily accessible.

3.  Integrity in action-
 As self-reliance was paramount to survival, homesteaders had to have an impeccable work ethic. 
Folks took pride in their tasks, whether baking bread or shoeing horses.  
Everyone was a specialist, and yet most homesteaders had to be proficient at many skills.

4.  Everyone's job was valued-
Along with becoming adept at skills, each contributor was esteemed for their contributions to the society as a whole.  Those who wanted to learn were taught by folks who felt pride in the passing on of knowledge.
Both teachers and students were highly regarded
and natural learning was a way of life. 

5.  Appreciation for the simple things-
Having a tidy home and a well-organized homestead showed that one's possessions were prized 
and had only been acquired by hard work and determination.  
A bag of flour or sugar (or nails) was a valuable thing in a time 
when nothing was promised to anyone in the new territory.
Family time together was most cherished, 
as the majority of waking hours were spent working and keeping the homestead up and running.

6.  Living with the seasons-
Whether haying, gardening, tapping trees or harvesting, 
homesteaders had to learn to tailor their work according to the time of year.  
Their diet was also adapted to what could be grown, preserved or stored, 
depending on the climate and weather.  
Staying in tune with Mother Nature ensured that they could not only survive, 
but thrive through the harshest of conditions.

For these reasons and more, I will keep on rereading 
The Little House on the Prairie books.
If you've never read this series,
I strongly urge you to consider adding it to your must-read list.
If it's been a while since you've enjoyed the Little House books,
think about revisiting Laura and her family.
You might just learn something new.

  Little House on the Prairie
source


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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Maple Hill Hop 126



Maple Hill Hop


Welcome to 
The Maple Hill Hop.
This is a hop for folks who love the outdoors.
Feel free to post about anything that's going on
OUTSIDE
in your neck of the woods,
no matter the season.
(Please share only outdoor posts.)
*Grab the button above to link back to Maple Hill 101.*




One of the most glorious sights at FarmSchool
is the vast array of lettuce varieties.
They are truly a sight to behold.
The bonus is that they taste as good as they look!




Although Lynn is a marvel at growing the stuff,
every crop has a life span,
so it eventually bolts and must be replaced.
That's where  
Lynn's Sensational Self-Sustaining System  
comes in.
He's managed to keep his garden filled to the brim
by reusing his magical soil mix in his pots-o-plenty.



The spent plants are brought to a staging area
and lined up in rows of three or four for efficient processing.
Dontcha just love Faye's lil' red wagon that helps her get the job done?
What a sweet ride!



Pruners are used to cut the plants down to the quick.





These leftovers will go to friends 
who are starting their own compost pile.




The next step in the process is to
clean up any debris that may have been left on the pots.



The covers and nails are taken out of the pots so that they can be used with the next batch of crops.
In this 7,000 square-foot garden, 
Lynn has made hundreds of these covers for the various sized pots he uses.
They not only keep weeds to a minimum,
but the plants stay much cleaner,
which helps when you can't wait to dive into a luscious salad.  
The nails ensure that the covers stay in place until the plant is big enough to keep them there.




The contents of the pots are dumped into a large bin.
Most of the crops had been fertilized with turkey poop,
so that is another component that enriches the new batch. 
With one of his large cultivating tools,
Lynn breaks up each stack, loosening the soil.



The remnants of the lettuce are removed and discarded.




After completing this task a few times,
we end up with a mountain of rich, fertile, usable soil.
The cultivator can again be used to smooth out the mixture.



Lynn shovels it into more manageable sized pots
so that it's ready to use for the next set of transplants.
The soil, pots, covers, and nails are used all over again
to keep the garden humming along.
All that's needed is seed.
Pretty amazing, huh?




There are plenty of these cute lil' critters to be found.
You know it's good when the worms are hangin' out there.
There's always something new to learn at
Farm School.

Wanna learn more?
You can check out all of our Farm school posts 
by clicking on the tabs under our header.
Enjoy! 


What's happening outside where you are?
HOP to it!

   


   



Friday, March 25, 2016

Things are Springin' Up All Over!


The weather doesn't seem to be too sure of the season.
Over the last week,
we've had temperatures from the mid 80's to the mid 40's,
and everything in between.
As I write this, we're getting an unexpected (but very welcome) thunderstorm,
complete with steady rain.
So much for getting some gardening done tonight.
There are some sure-fire signs of spring though.


Over at Faye & Lynn's last weekend, 
the most perfect hibiscus bloom was spotted.


 As you can see on the new spring header,
their azalea bush is bursting with intoxicating color!

One of the topics for discussion while I was there,
was this odd-looking Queen palm tree.
The steep angle at which it now grows 
is thanks to Hurricane Charley.
In 2004, this area was hit hard by 3 hurricanes 
in a matter of months. 
It was just before we moved to the area.
We came anyway.  ;0D


The portion that looks a bit straighter,
is the section of new growth since the storms.


 It's one massive tree.
So grateful that this one didn't topple,
as did so many others.
Faye & Lynn lost over 200 trees on their 10 acres.


 Back at our place,
one sure sign of spring has made itself known.
Our native milkweeds are coming back all over the garden.


And soon we'll be overrun by monarch caterpillars devouring them all.
That's the price we must pay for enjoying the beautiful butterflies in our yard.
and are happy to host these and several other types of caterpillars all spring and summer.
It's spring and the cats are here!
Enjoy your weekend, y'all!

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Maple Hil Hop 125



Maple Hill Hop


Welcome to 
The Maple Hill Hop.
This is a hop for folks who love the outdoors.
Feel free to post about anything that's going on
OUTSIDE
in your neck of the woods,
no matter the season.
(Please share only outdoor posts.)
*Grab the button above to link back to Maple Hill 101.*



With a cool change in the weather,
and a free weekend,
we decided to visit our favorite state park to date.

Welcome to Highlands Hammock State Park
in Sebring, Florida.
The perfect place for a family bike ride in early spring.


One of the few times we took our bikes off the beaten path,
we were treated to tranquil and fascinating views.


Wanna come along?


The sense of serenity is palpable.
God sure does some amazing work.


I'm proud to be a tree-hugger.


Big K pointed out how the cypress is growing 
right on the handrail.


This is what greeted us at the end of the boardwalk.



Within this lush swampy area,
blooms were to be found.
Unexpected pops of color delighted us.


This is old Florida,
the way it looked when folks first arrived here to settle.
So much to explore.


We hadn't remembered seeing these warnings posted
the last time we were here.
Needless to say, we stayed mostly in the bike lanes on the main road.


We were able to rent a bike for C,
as his is now too small for him.
It prompted him to decide on a new model 
once we returned home.
Win-win!


Nothin' like the freedom of spending a day
doin' something you love.
We are so very blessed.

Check out all of our state park visits under our header.

 What outdoor adventures have you been on lately?
HOP to it!