flower seed packets 2021
The Homestead Weekly

The Homestead Weekly, 21 February 2021

When I was younger, I was really into journaling and kept a diary of some sort or another from the time I was six until my mid-twenties. However, as the years went on, there would occasionally be long gaps of several months when I didn’t record anything at all and inevitably, I kept putting off writing again because I didn’t want to take the time to “play catch up” and write down everything I’d missed recording. So I would go a few more months without making an entry.

Finally, I just decided one year that enough was enough and that I didn’t need to play catch up—I would just start where I was and see what happened.

So that’s where we’re at today, folks—rather than playing catch up (although I am working on a post currently that’s going to talk all about how we ended up on our new homestead and the little miracles that got us here), I’m just going to start from where we’re at.

Note: There are affiliate links to products mentioned below, which means I may get a small commission on any purchases made through those links at no extra cost to you.

I didn’t take any pictures of this week’s cooking, so you get one from a couple weeks ago 🙂

In the Kitchen

My kitchen mojo has been all sorts of out of whack since moving here at the end of November. At first, it was because I was meal prepping a week’s worth of meals on Sunday for my husband since he had to live away from us during the week (because his work hadn’t moved to their new location yet, and he was still working from the old place). That meant that it was just me on my own with the three kids every weeknight, which translated to me basically catering to their simple kid wants (quesadillas! pancakes! sandwiches!) rather than making the usual kind of dinner we were used to since I would likely be the only one eating it without complaint.

Now that Matt is able to work from the new location close to our house, I’m back into the routine of having to prep dinner every night, but boy, am I sure struggling with it. Maybe it’s because I got out of the habit, maybe it’s because the kitchen is (unfortunately) my least favorite room in our new house, but whatever it is, I have not felt inspired in the slightest to spend any more time than strictly necessary to keeping us fed.

I know it would help if I got on the meal planning train again, as that would help me to get fully back into my previous good dinner habits. Now that I’m going to be getting back into doing these Homestead Weekly posts every week, that will probably help, too :).

On the Menu This Week: Black beans + rice (with turkey sausage chunks), Instant Pot teriyaki chicken (I don’t make very many duds around here, but both Matt and I agreed that the recipe I used was REALLY not to our taste at all), Chicken Pot Pie Gravy over Mashed Potatoes, and lots and lots of cheese and avocado tortillas (with a fried egg on top).

In the Garden

I’m basically counting down the days until spring every year, but this year I’ve been especially anxious to get things growing again. Part of it is because I’m excited to see what surprises this new yard will have in store for us, and part of it is because I’ve maybe gone a bit, um, insane when it comes to buying seeds and plants for this year.

You might remember that last year, I got really into the idea of doing a cutting garden, and we devoted quite a bit of raised bed space to that pursuit. Well, I’m now seriously toying with the idea of not just doing a cutting garden for myself—I’m toying with the idea of doing a (very) small backyard flower farm where I occasionally direct market to the public or to local florists, and I’m also planning to do a few “bouquet bars,” just to see how they do. (A bouquet bar is where you set out buckets of different blooms and foliage and people just come and build their own bouquets and pay by the stem. I think it sounds like so much fun!)

We also are greatly expanding our vegetable garden this year, partly because we just have a lot more space for it, and partly because we’re really working on beefing up our food storage this year.

This year, we’re going to try growing pretty much everything from seed, with the exception of the bare root apricot tree we planted the other week and the bare root blackberry bush that should be getting shipped to us sometime this week. Oh, and five bare-root rosebushes that are being shipped out soon and which I need to figure out where on earth I’m actually going to plant them. Other than that, everything else is being started from seed, tuber, or bulb, and I CANNOT WAIT.

Note: I’m linking below to the products we’re trying out for this year in case you want to see them for yourself, but largely so that I can have them for my own reference.

We’re currently waiting on the six (yes, SIX) large grow lights we’ve ordered so that we can set up operations in the storage basement. (Fun fact: there are two basements in this house, which are not connected to each other. One houses the kids’ bedrooms and is warm and cozy and finished, and the other has one tiny finished room and a whole lotta unfinished space with concrete floor and basic wood shelving. We call it the scary basement, and it’s where we’ll be housing all of our seedlings.)

This week, I ordered all of our seed starting supplies (thanks to our tax return), which we started to get by the end of the week. We’re trying to make our own seed starting mix rather than buying it premade because it’s cheaper to do it yourself (it’s just equal parts coco coir, vermiculite, and perlite), and then we’ve bought various sizes of seed starting cells and plant pots to accommodate a wide variety of plants, sizes, and how well the final product will transplant. We splurged on a bunch of pots that are biodegradable that can be planted directly into the ground because we’re trying quite a few things that don’t transplant super well OR that will grow fairly large before we set them outside (like our tomatoes and peppers). I also bought some things I’ll need for making bouquets (floral snips, flower frogs, that kind of thing), and we also are trying out a low hoop tunnel system this year to see if it can extend our growing season a bit.

Growing this Week: I’m not positive, but I *think* there are some daffodils coming up in the front bed. We only planted tulips up there last fall but didn’t have time to get anything else in, so this is definitely something we didn’t plant. I know they’re not crocuses or tulips, and they don’t look like irises to me, either. My bet is on daffodils, though we’ll know for sure in a few weeks :). I also discovered that the previous owners had left some of their onions in the ground, so we have about five fat onions in the back garden that are frozen in place. Not quite sure what to do with those…they don’t look like they’re rotted at all (they actually look pretty delicious, at least the top third does), but I guess we’ll find out in a week or so when the ground hopefully thaws enough to get them out. I doubt they’ll be usable, but you never know! (Of course, we might just leave them there and get a really early start on some onions for this season.)

In the Coop

We ended up expanding our flock again this week! We just purchased six more chicks from the local IFA on Friday (two Americaunas, one Buff Orpington, one Red Sex Link, one Barred Rock, and one Rhode Island Red). We usually purchase chicks in March, but we wanted to get a headstart on them this year because we booked a little getaway in late April and want to have all the chicks integrated in with the larger flock by that point since we’ll be needing to ask a neighbor to watch them for us while we’re away.

Matt is currently in the bathroom right now taking care of one with “pasty butt,” which for the uninitiated just means that the chick starts getting stopped up because their poop mats down over the vent area. So Matt was in there gently wiping it off and then he called me in to blow dry its feathers after so it doesn’t get too cold. The things you do for your animals, eh?

I believe the IFA got them newly hatched (probably within the first 24 hours of life), so ours are only about 3 days old at this point, and there’s just nothing cuter. We’re trying to hold these ones a lot more than we did with our batch from last year, because the ones from last year are all pretty wary of us (whereas the very first batch we got the year before don’t have too much of a problem if we need to pick them up for whatever reason).

As for the older hens, they’re all still laying away (we typically get 7-8 eggs a day from our flock of 10). They weren’t laying at all at the beginning of winter (which is normal), but after they’d had about a 10-week break and had stopped molting and gotten their new feathers, we turned on a heat lamp in their coop so they’d have more light, which started their egg production up again. It’s been really nice having our own eggs after over two months of having to buy them from the store, and we’ve even had enough extra that Raven, our almost-6-year-old, has started selling them by the dozen so she can start learning about money.

In the Playroom

The big news around here is that we’re trying to potty train Mathias, who is two years and 8 months old as of this weekend. I’d kind of planned to put it off until summer, but when he started showing a ton of interest in the little potty we have and then started consistently starting to actually GO in it once he got praised for peeing in it a couple weeks ago, we’ve been forced to concede that he’s ready (even if we aren’t!).

Right now, we’re just in the stage of potty training where we’re having him sit on it frequently and where he’s starting to learn to tell us when he needs to go, but we haven’t switched over to “big boy undies” yet or had much success yet with him going #2 in it. For all that, I’ll be doing the same method we did with our oldest, where we’ll have him stark naked for the first day or two and I’ll just follow him around the whole day and make sure that anytime he starts to go, I take him to the potty. Once he starts being more consistent and going on his own, we’ll just have him in a pair of underwear (no more diapers during the day!) for the next day or so. I don’t think he’s quite ready to be night-trained yet, so he’ll still sleep in a Pull-up, but that’s the plan for now.

Of course, now I just need to pick a day to start all that, which I keep putting off because I remember all too well what a looooong couple days that was when we did it with Raven!

In other developments, Raven has her second loose tooth (she lost her first tooth just a couple weeks ago!) and is starting to get quicker and quicker when we practice reading her little sight words and simple phonics books from school. And Hyrum (who is now 14 months old) is starting to stand all by himself and (grudgingly) lets us hold his hand while he tries walking, but he doesn’t like it much yet. It honestly is starting to feel like it did with Mathias all over again, where we know he has the balance and the strength to do it, but that until he gets the will, it’s just not going to happen.

This was taken on Monday of this week…
now imagine there being about half this many boxes, and you’ll have what I see now 🙂

In the Home

We’re so burned out of house projects right now it’s not even funny, so most of the wins we’ve had lately are easy wins, like setting up the two new accent chairs we bought this week for the front room. I mean, we got the last of the 4 rugs we ordered for this house on Friday, and we still haven’t even unrolled it! Burnt out, I tell ya.

I did go through and unpack a TON of boxes in our master bedroom and closet this week, mostly because I was looking for a document I needed to file our taxes, but I still ended up going through a significant number and drastically reducing the amount of visual clutter that was just sitting there. And later that night, I had Matt come down to the scary basement with me to the Room-I-Pretend-Doesn’t-Exist (because it was basically stacked floor to ceiling with boxes and bags we hadn’t gone through) and move over half of them onto the shelves that will be their home for the foreseeable future.

Right now, nearly 3 months after our move, we have officially reached the stage where we’ve unpacked almost everything we need on a regular basis, and the stuff that’s left is the not-fun stuff—the stuff you know you need to probably get rid of and declutter, but you still need to go through it just to be sure.

In the Soul

As I told Matt on our way home from church today, I just feel like we’re in a period of anxious waiting right now—waiting for the weather to warm up so we can start planting outside, waiting for the pandemic to cool down so we can start making friends here and inviting people over, waiting for the time where we can feel settled in our new community, which is only going to happen when we can actually start getting out more and gathering with people.

On the few occasions where we get out and talk to people, everyone keeps asking us how we like it here, and the only answer we can give is, “We don’t know.” It’s hard to tell someone how you like a place when you’ve almost never left your house to actually get out and get to know that new place. From what I can tell, the people are super friendly down here and I think we’ll eventually have no trouble making friends, but as for now, we’re just kind of holed up in hibernation at home until further notice.

I will say though that February has been much easier on me so far than January was. January was so, so hard in so many ways, and I just felt so ISOLATED, especially as Matt was still traveling away during the week, so I was on my own all the time with the kids. Now that he’s back for good during the weeks, my mental health is doing WAY better, and it also helps that the days are warming up and getting longer and that we have all sorts of projects we’re prepping for and getting started on. It hasn’t been The Greatest Month of All Time, but it HAS been the best month we’ve had since we moved in.

So that’s something.

With the covid numbers going down so much in our state and the announcement today in church that they’re going to have our whole ward (congregation) start meeting together every week again instead of staggering weeks like we’ve been doing for the past several months, things are really starting to turn around here, which I feel so grateful for.

I also feel so grateful for the snow and rain we’ve been getting. I know it’s been so hard on so many in the South (and I’m so sorry for any of you that have been affected!), but Utah has been in the worst drought we’ve ever seen since they started recording it well over 120 years ago, so we desperately, desperately needed the precipitation. In fact, the first Sunday of this month, our family participated in a special fast and prayer with hundreds of others in our community that we could be blessed with the moisture we needed, and the heavens literally opened up that very weekend as we started to just get dumped on.

Even though we don’t live in the easiest of times, we are so grateful for having been blessed with so much. We don’t take it for granted.

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