Tuesday, February 25, 2020

We Have Enough

When we moved from Florida,
we were hoping to find a nice piece of property
where we could settle down for the rest of our lives.
Acreage was important, as there were dreams that needed to be fulfilled,
and nothing less than a few acres would do to make that a reality. 
Small town living was our first choice,
as none of us like the big city and its complications.

We rented a house for 6 months while we were house hunting.
What an experience that was!
The house was over 100 years old and not well cared for,
so we spent most of that winter  
and easily got tired of the noise of the busy street out front.
It seems that when we started our search,
the housing market went bonkers again
and we just couldn't find what we were looking for.
The property would be fabulous, but the house was falling apart,
or the house was in good shape, but it was on a busy road
or too close to neighbors.
Ya know what?
We ended up right where we were supposed to be.

 We landed on just over a half acre of land,
on a corner lot in a rural neighborhood.
Yes, we have neighbors, but everyone has a good bit of privacy,
and we know every one of them by name.
The best part is that we were able to pay cash for the house,
and were able to remain debt free.

 Our property has a large front yard for Big K (he likes his grass),
a huge area for the vegetable garden,
and a good bit of wooded area for the birds and other critters to enjoy.
It's a blessing having this piece of dirt to call our own.
I think of it as my half acre of freedom.
Was it what we were hoping for when we started our search?
Not really, but we choose to focus on that with which we have been blessed,
and know that there is a plan for this journey.

We share this space with birds, bees, caterpillars, butterflies,
squirrels, snakes, and even an occasional deer or two.
My goal is to make it pretty, yes,
but more important, a comfortable place for us
and all who choose to call it home.
We have worked on creating a butterfly and wildlife habitat
by fostering those critters any way we can.
In doing this, 
we stay constant in our gratitude.

 One of the biggest blessings of this homestead is the chance to follow my passion
in creating food for myself and others.
I plant the seeds, God does the rest.
What a wonderful arrangement.

It is something that never gets old, this gardening lifestyle.
Each new season presents different challenges,
as well as considerable rewards.
There is always something new to try,
and having this little piece of heaven on earth is such a gift.

Creating happiness out of disappointment is a choice.
It would be easy to think about all the things that could have been,
if only...
Instead, the opportunity is taken to see the potential in what is already there.
We can turn this place into anything we choose,
if only we are willing to dream and take steps toward that intention.
No one would accuse me of being afraid of hard work,
because it feels like part of God's plan for me.

 Becoming more self-sufficient is the goal of many,
and we are no different.
Growing some of our own organic food,
cooking from scratch and making our own cleaning products,
as well as repurposing items and buying used
are all a part of this homesteading lifestyle.
It doesn't matter whether you live in the country,
in town, or somewhere in between,
everyone can do something to be more interdependent.

 For me, the objective is not to merely exist alone,
but to become a part of a well-oiled community,
where folks can volunteer, barter and work together
for the betterment of everyone.
One of the best steps taken since moving here
was enrolling in the Master Gardener course through our local Cooperative Extension office.
Not only was I able to pursue my passion for growing,
but the friendships I've made are something I treasure.
It is comforting when I realize that we most likely will be here
for the rest of our lives,
and I'm so grateful that we have friends with which to share these years.

 The older I get, the more I love staying home.
I don't have the desire to venture very far
when I know that everything that I hold dear is right here.
There is just nothing like settling down with a great book or an old movie
on a cold or rainy day.
Surrounded by the people you love in a cozy nest is the ultimate in contentment.
What could be better?

My wish for you is that you find that space.
It's there, it just needs to be recognized.
We all have so much for which to be grateful.
Yes, things go wrong or don't meet our expectations,
but we can choose either to let it ruin our day,
or take action to improve the situation.
It begins with gratitude.
Find something to be thankful for,
and it will multiply.

We have enough.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Garden Friday

Welcome to Garden Friday!
It's been slim pickin's here in our garden,
so we have been enjoying finding some color elsewhere.

Our local big box store has been putting a few things out
like this sweet lil' candytuft.
It reminds me of allyssum.

 Pansies are still available as well.
I've been so happy to see the pansies on our front porch
blooming through the harshest of our winter temperatures.
They add so much cheer when things are looking bleak.

Need seeds?
Goodness, do they have 'em!
I think there might be a touch of spring fever around.
For the most part,
I order from seed catalogues,
and they've started rolling in.

One is a new-to-me "heirloom only" company
that I would like to try.

There were actually a couple of rain-free days in a row,
and I was able to do a bit of work on Kelsey's Woods
(that's what we call the wooded area of our yard).
Three big piles of twigs and branches 
were added to the chipping/mulching pile.
Now we'll need to be patient enough to wait 
for more rain-free/non-freezing days in which to do the chipping.

The seed collection was ransacked checked,
to see what I need to order for this season.
I use these vintage metal drawers I found at a thrift store
that have dividers in them to keep things tidy.

One of the best things about heirloom varieties,
is that seed can be saved from year to year,
and the crops are as close to the original as you can get.

Time was taken this week to get one tray seeded.
It felt good to be planting again,
even if it's just a little at a time.
I've decided this year to use a wall calendar
to keep track of when I plant what.
That way, I can look ahead to make sure
I have the seeds at the ready that I need for upcoming sowing.
I use an organic seed starting mix for seedling trays.

Some of the things started in this tray were
broccoli, kale, leek, and lettuce.

our neighbor
The snow has started falling as I write this
(Thursday afternoon).
So it is with winter in North Carolina.
There will be time for more sowing,
with warmer temperatures expected this weekend.
The snow is amazing,
but it sure makes it hard to garden!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Going Local-Catawba County Firefighter Museum

This Saturday, we made a trip to the Catawba County Firefighters Museum,
located in nearby Conover.

This field trip was perfect for our family.
Big K is a former volunteer fire fighter
(back in the Ice Age),
and C collects fire alarms and smoke detectors.
It was wonderful to see them both in their element,
and able to share their knowledge with me.

The museum is open on Saturdays from 10-3 and Sundays from 1-4,
and is located at 3597 Herman Sipe Road in Conover, NC.
Tours can be scheduled at other times for groups.
They can be reached at 828-466-0911.
David Pruitt, a former firefighter himself, is the contact person
and was kind enough to show us around.

We always enjoy vintage vehicles,
and this collection of fire trucks is no exception.
An array of ravishing red rigs greeted us
as we entered the main display area.
The trucks are models from the 1930's and 1940's
and have been fully restored by volunteers.

Original equipment abounds, 
including these antique hose reels, as well as an assortment of nozzles, 
tools and radio equipment.

This classic sprinkler bell was used to alert workers 
that the fire sprinkler system had been activated in a commercial building.

Before hoses were commonly used, these types of fire buckets got the job done,
one bucket at a time.
The cone-shaped buckets would be dipped into rain barrels
and passed from one person to the next until the fire was out.
The shape would make it easier to lift back out of the rain barrel
and also retain more water in the vessel when being passed down the line.

Along with historical documents, artifacts like this foam fighting equipment
help visitors understand the complexity and importance 
of the fire department within the community.

These wooden extension ladders reached up to 36 feet tall.
Today's ladders are usually constructed of lightweight aluminum,
as wooden ladders would be subject to burning.

These pull stations caught C's eye.
He has quite a collection of them,
along with fire alarms, strobes and smoke detectors.
He has offered to contribute to the museum
when he finds something they don't yet have.

This massive siren would be found on the exterior of the fire station 
to alert firefighters and provide information about the call.


Here's a street box that used to be in front of a building.
These were often found on city streets
and were useful in helping firefighters find the exact location of a fire.


Inside, the lever, once pulled, would trip the alarm
and send a code to the station,
so that they could identify the exact location.

the inner workings
(sorry for the blurriness)

This alarm box would be at the fire station
and would correspond to the street boxes.
In case of a fire, the alarm on the street box would be activated,
which would in turn alert the fire station,
using a designated code.

Here's a video that explains it better than I can.

A large collection of bunker gear, or turn-out gear, was on display.

A variety of flashlights, searchlights and spotlights were showcased.

A host of metal signs from various stations were featured as well.

Although the museum is free to the public,
there is a donation jar just inside the front entrance.
Visiting this valuable resource is yet another way
to honor those who give so much.
We'll definitely be back.

Other Posts in Our Going Local Series:
Vending Machine Museum
Grier Truck Museum
Memory Lane Museum

Friday, February 14, 2020

Garden Friday-Five Ways to Start Your Spring Garden

buttercrunch lettuce
Welcome to Garden Friday!
We're still dealing with wild and wicked weather,
so the ability to get much planted is still on hold.
I did manage to sow some leek in seed trays,
while I keep hoping for a break in the weather.
I'm in good company though,
 as it seems that most of the country is dealing with similar conditions.

There are a few necessities when you are a gardener.
One is soil of some type.
When starting seeds in containers or trays,
I prefer to use organic seed starting mix,
and I was thrilled a couple of weeks ago
to see that stores were starting to carry it,
even though we are still in the throes of winter.
Its light and airy quality gives seeds the best chance
of taking root and germinating.
Potting soil or compost can be used as well,
with the addition of an aerating medium, such as vermiculite.


 The other necessary item is some type of seeds.
These can be purchased online or by catalogue,
as well as in your local big box store.
I lean toward organic seeds,
and am working on acquiring more heirloom varieties.
With just these two items,
you can grow yourself some food!
Okay, the soil and the seeds have been obtained,
what's the easiest way to get started planting?
Well, I'm glad you asked!
Here are five easy ways to get your crops on!


 These peat pots can be purchased in the garden section at most big stores.
They start out flat, but when soaked in water,
they poof out like magic.
They remind me of the puffed pastry shells at the grocery store.
The center hole you see here will be the planting hole.
Once the seedlings emerge,
the whole container can be transplanted.
No waste!


 Being the frugal gardener that I am,
I usually find a way to repurpose something 
we already have around the homestead.
These toilet paper and paper towel rolls do the trick quite nicely.
Once the cardboard roll is formed (see that here),
the soil is added and the seeds are planted.
Again, the entire container can be transplanted,
as it will break down over time and feed the soil.

Another recycling idea is to reuse the plastic pots
and seedling trays that have been purchased over the years
with new plants in them.
These can sometimes be found at thrift stores or yard sales as well.
This particular type of container can't be put into the ground,
but these trays can be used over and over.
When they are no longer in good condition,
they can be taken to your local Lowe's,
where they send them out to be recycled.


 Along the same lines, recycled storage tubs
can be planted with things like carrots, garlic, 
leek, onions or even sweet potatoes. 
Depending on the depth of the crate,
root veggies can do quite well and remain in place until harvest.
This lends itself well to those who don't have an established garden
and need to keep things containerized.
Pretty much anything can be grown in a container.
Check out my friend Lynn's 7,000 square foot container garden
under all the "Farm School" posts beneath the header..


The fifth way to get your spring garden started 
is with straw bales.
These can be purchased from big box stores, feed stores,
or your local farmer.
We have been blessed to be able to acquire these organic bales
from a gentleman who sells off all of his extra bales
for three dollars apiece.
They work great for cucumbers, flowers, okra and strawberries.
The great thing about this type of growing,
is that once the bales have exhausted themselves as a growing medium,
they can be used in the compost heap or around the homestead for drainage issues.
They work well for a full year before needing replacement,
and again, there is no waste.
I even use the baling twine that they are wrapped in
for little jobs around the homestead.
This option would be ideal for those without any garden area in which to grow,
or for someone who has mobility issues.
The bales can be placed on a concrete driveway or a deck,
making gardening easier for someone with problems getting around.

2019 garlic
 These are just a few of the ways to get started growing your own food.
As with anything that's being tried for the first time,
it's best to start small and build on with each success.
It is a real thrill to bring something into the house 
that you've grown from seed, nurtured and harvested.

 "Life begins the day you start a garden."
 – Chinese proverb