Can I still call these The Homestead Weekly when I’m only averaging one of them a month? 🙂
Not surprisingly, basically all of my time has been hijacked by flower farming. Once I’ve planted out the first big wave of all the tender annuals (which will probably happen around the 24th of this month), I anticipate that things will slow down a *little* bit until about July, when I’ll be ramping up harvesting like crazy. For May and June, I’m basically just starting some more succession planting in the grow room, picking enough to cover the CSA bouquet subscriptions (which we sold out of! so exciting!), and then I don’t anticipate that I’ll have too much extra to start selling until late June or so. At any rate, life should get a little less insane here shortly!
Here’s what we’ve been up to the past few weeks.
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In the Kitchen
I’m basically hitting eternal repeat of my easiest go-to meals until further notice, which means we’re having red and white pasta, cheese and avocado on corn tortillas with a fried egg on top, sausage gravy over rice, and meals involving the pre-cooked gluten-free meatballs from Sam’s Club (spaghetti and meatballs, Swedish meatballs, sweet and sour meatballs…you get the idea). I’ve even had to push pause on my bi-monthly Misfit Markets produce boxes because I was finding that with how little I was cooking, I just wasn’t using the produce in them fast enough before they went bad.
Occasionally I’ll bust out a more time-intensive dinner (like how I made my favorite version of Indian butter chicken and curry rice when my in-laws made the two-hour drive down to drop off lumber for us), but those are few and far between. At this point, I just count it as a win that I haven’t resorted to cold cereal every night for dinner.
In the Coop
On Saturday we finally opened the door from the newer chicks’ run so that they could go out into the larger run with the established hens, and while there were a few minor tussles, the integration seemed to go smoothly enough. We waited a bit longer this year than last year to start integrating them, if for no other reason than that we were busy with other things and didn’t think about it too much. While we are letting them out during the day, they still are going back into their own smaller coop at night, so eventually we’ll have to train them to just go in the main coop with all the other hens.
For now, we’re fine to keep things kind of where they’re at.
Funny note, though—my dad had once sent me a video of a chicken hopping up over and over to reach some greenery on the lower branches of a tree, and I just thought it was hilarious. Imagine how fun, then, to see one of our own hens start to do it a couple weeks ago! One of these days I’ll have to catch it on video and post it here because it seriously looks crazy ridiculous, and I just want to watch it over and over again :).
In the Garden
In the last Homestead Weekly, I was coming off a crushing run of seedling failures, which taught me that if I plan to transplant out anything (even things that are super cold hardy) before about a month before my last frost date, I need to cover it with frost and wind protection. Period.
Since then, almost everything that I’ve transplanted has survived, and I’ve transplanted out a LOT — more snapdragons, more stock, a bunch of rudbeckia, statice, Moldavian balm, Chinese forget-me-not, sunflowers, strawflowers, annual phlox…the list goes on. It seemed to take awhile before many of the seedlings got over their transplant shock, but now that things are warming up significantly around here, we’re seeing noticeable growth all over the place.
A big lesson I had to learn the hard(ish) way this year was the importance of 1) potting up seedlings once they reach a certain point in the plant cells, 2) fertilizing everything regularly, and 3) making sure that things that like a certain temperature actually get that certain temperature while indoors (aka, leaving all the warm-loving plants on the heat mats, even after germination). I say I learned this the hard way because I planted nearly 100 tomato seeds this year (9 different varieties), which all should be huge by now…except they aren’t. I got a great germination on all of them and they weren’t dying or anything, but they also basically just sat for weeks in the grow room without doing much. I originally had planned to maybe have some on hand for the seedling sale I’m wanting to have at the end of the month, but they just aren’t big enough. Once I wised up to the three big mistakes I was making above, I’ve seen a decent amount of progress, but for some of the seedlings, it was too little, too late, and I now have about half of the tomato seedlings I did before and none that will be ready at the ideal time to sell (or even that will be at the ideal size for us to plant out). Oh well. Lesson learned for future years!
I’ve also learned that it’s basically impossible to make CSA subscriptions work during this time of the season without perennials and spring-blooming bulbs. Luckily I’ve had enough perennials that were already on the property (and was able to forage–with permission–a few other things) to cover the subscriptions, but in future years, I’m definitely planning ahead better—I need to overwinter a lot more hardy annuals so that they can start to come on by now, I need to plant way more perennials that bloom at this time (which I’ve already started), and I’ve already ordered 700 bulbs to be planted in the fall (500 tulips, 100 daffodils, 100 alliums) so that I can do a spring CSA subscription next year.
Little by little, I’ll get better at this thing.
Blooming in the Garden Over the Past Month: Lilacs, Alliums, Tulips, Daffodils, Bleeding Heart, Pansies, Dianthus
Direct Sowed Outdoors the Last Month: sunflowers, ammi, cress, orlaya, dara
Transplanted Outdoors in the Last Month: lemon mint, snapdragons, pansies, yarrow, rudbeckia, sunflowers, mint, spotted balm, bee balm, sea holly, delphinium, statice, African daisy, a few cosmos (experimentally), strawflower, stock, California poppy, ammi, dara, yet more sweet peas (I’m not holding my breath, though—I seem cursed with those), Chinese forget-me-not, phlox, baby’s breath, echinacea, some zinnias (experimentally, though I don’t think they’ll make it as we have a late-ish frost predicted for next weekend)
Other Things Planted Outdoors in the Last Month: liatris (from purchased corms) and several plants we purchased from a nursery—Denver Daisy rudbeckia, monarda (bee balm), artemisia, Shasta daisies (the crazy ruffled kind), salvia, and Russian sage.
In the House
The house has reached epic levels of untidiness over the past month…you know it’s bad when we all feel shocked anytime it’s decently tidy anymore. I’m desperate to get it more fully under control again (and to finally actually put in the kitchen floor, dang it!), but we literally won’t have a spare minute to do any of that until about June, like I was saying.
At the top of the list of priorities is to start getting the kitchen floor in because that will make a HUGE difference in how our home feels (because now, without one, it doesn’t look that great even when it IS all cleaned up), and then the next item of business is to use this rug adhesive I bought ages ago to anchor down all the new rugs so that they stop shifting and pulling up at the corners and wrinkling, which just further adds to the chaotic look around here.
Then I’ll need to tackle the playroom, or at least come up with a way that the kids can feasibly keep it semi-organized.
All in good time, though.
In the Playroom
It seems like a lot of growth has happened over the last month with our kids—Raven turned 6, Mathias is basically furthering himself with potty training since I don’t plan on formally starting it until June (though he’s actually doing a decent job of making headway on his own), and Hyrum is starting to talk quite a bit more (though he decided that walking is not as great as crawling and so therefore doesn’t do it that much). Seriously, this past month has just seemed like I’m literally watching my kids grow up right before my eyes, which is always bittersweet as a parent.
For Raven’s birthday, we celebrated with a party the weekend before with grandparents, and then the actual day we sent treats for her class and then we surprised her that night by driving to our new-favorite restaurant about 50 minutes away and then playing at the park nearby for over an hour. Although the evening was chillier than we’d anticipated, it was still such a fun night, and I love that Raven told us many times how much she loved her special day and how thankful she was that we’d done all these things for her. She’s such a wonderful kid, and she is seriously the biggest help around here. We’re so thankful for her!
Mathias officially stopped using a pacifier (not by his choice), which meant that he also pretty much stopped his afternoon naps immediately. That’s been tricky for me since that’s my best time for doing focused work on the flower farm, but I’ve taken to just having me join or help me for almost all of the things I’m doing. The lack of pacifier has been a challenge at night as well, just because he was getting up out of bed a million times a night or just taking a super long time to fall asleep, but I’ve worked out a system that seems to be working–I basically just sit outside their bedroom door after we put them to bed and every time I hear him talking or trying to get out of bed, I just knock on the door and remind him to be quiet and to stay in bed. Surprisingly, it actually has worked pretty well the past several nights.
In the Soul
A couple weeks ago, the stress of the flower farm was so high that I was starting to take it out on my kids. A lot. I found myself yelling at them on a daily basis (I’m usually not a huge yell-er), breaking down into tears when they were super naughty (like when Mathias drew on both my couches AND several of my walls with marker…over and over again), and I was just feeling like the Worst Mom of the Year pretty much every day. Seriously, it was bad.
Finally, after a particularly bad day when I started crying after I yelled just because I felt so bad about yelling, I knew something had to change, and it had to change NOW. So I started reading church talks about motherhood and other topics every morning and praying specifically for help controlling my temper (especially when I was stressed), and since then I haven’t yelled once and have handled everything with MUCH more patience. Besides it contributing to us having a much more peaceful atmosphere in our home, it’s also been really good for me, as I’m no longer beating myself up about not being more patient.
I’m sure there will be times in the future when I’ll start to revert back into bad behavior, but it’s been good to have more of a plan/resolution in place to combat that when it does happen. I know my strategy is nothing earth-shattering (and sadly, it’s already a lesson I’d learned but that I’d fallen out of the habit of doing), but it’s just an extra reminder to me to make sure I’m not slacking on the little things.
Until next time! (Hopefully it won’t be June, but let’s face it—it very well could be!)