About Us

2021: The First Quarter

Can you believe that we’re through the first quart of 2021 already? Because I can’t. It’s April already, and I feel like yet another year is flying by.

I haven’t written a basic update in awhile, so I think I’m about due! I know, I’ve been shared some posts recently of projects I’ve been working on, but I haven’t really gone into what our days have been like and what our plans are for this year.

To start, we’ve been a strange kind of busy. Lots of projects around the house that I didn’t really plan to do but that needed doing, plenty of relaxing craft time, and lots of homeschooling. February had about a three week cold spell where we didn’t do much or go anywhere.

Then it started to get warmer, fast. It’s been very nice out for the past few weeks (aside from the recent winds), and we’ve been taking advantage of the weather to get a head-start on yardwork. It’s strange to me that we always get so much done in fall, and I always get to this point where I feel “done” for the year, yet when spring rolls around, I wonder why we still have so much left to do.

Scott has been trimming, planting, and grafting trees and working on making some firewood. He and the boys cut some trees back in the woods last year and we dried the logs throughout the year, and he cut that up so we could boil down the last of the maple syrup.

Scott did the tapping this year with the kids, and we shared the work-load with boiling and collecting sap. It was a mediocre year for sap collection for us. Lots of days seemed like they’d be perfect for sap flow, but then the winds would pick up, and I learned that the sap doesn’t flow when it’s really windy. That way if it looses a big branch, it can put it’s effort into repairing the bigger wound, rather than the tiny little tap hole. We ended up with just shy of 3 gallons of syrup this year. It would have been more, but we had a stretch of really windy or rainy days where I couldn’t do any boiling, and we lost a bunch of sap because of it.

Boiling down sap

The older boys helped me to clean up the seed starting area in the basement last month. We rearranged everything, got some extra shelving, and my friend down the road is lending me some of her extra lights this year. We haven’t started much yet, but pretty soon, I am hoping to get my motivation to plant.

The house felt like it sort of fell apart in February. The kids were constantly making messes in the house because they were antsy and pent up from the cold days when they couldn’t play outside. It took the better part of March to recover from that, and I’m still not quite to where I would like to be with some of the cleaning. But at least we are doing better with maintaining at the moment.

We did get a few skating days in this winter, but we got sick, and then the cold hit, so I was sad we didn’t get to enjoy it more. We also didn’t get to sled quite as much as I had hoped for, but we had a couple of fun sledding outings, and I am glad that we were able to do any skating at all. We haven’t been able to in a few years!

Miss Lady ice skating in January.

The chickens and ducks did pretty well through the winter, but they are definitely glad it’s getting warm out. We’re starting to get some eggs again, and hopefully, we’ll be collecting more eggs soon.

My garden plans for this year have been slow to take shape. I have ideas, but I am partly waiting on some other decisions to be made before I make a final call on everything. I am hoping to create strips of garden beds this year with mowing space between beds, and I want to amend the soil so we can hopefully have better success with certain crops. My friends and I went in on a bulk order of cattle panel so we can make some permanent trellises for our gardens, so that’s something else that we’ll be working on soon.

I came up with some vague plans for the secret garden this year. I’m going to redo the beds there, hopefully get some limestone slabs to make a walking path, and I bought a bunch of bulbs and a few plants for the garden as well. I really need to spend some time digging up those beds and planting so that everything grows well this summer. I did manage to put in a small arbor with some cattle panel. I needed it in now because I had picked up two kiwi plants, and they had to get into the ground before they’d die.

We spent a lot of time talking about the summer kitchen last month, and we’re going to wait another year to have it built. We’re planning to get some price quotes, and hopefully we can come up with a more concreted design for what we want. We still have a little bit of cleanup to do around the slab. We have a few other things we’d like to put our assets towards that may be more helpful for us this year.

After a lot of consideration, we bought two, inexpensive greenhouses. One is big (20’x10’x7′), and the other is just a little thing (8’x3’x3′). The wind has been so obnoxious, though, and I had to buy longer ground stakes/staples to hold them down. They seem to be a little more secure. I haven’t planted or put anything in either one just yet as they were set up right before Easter. I’ll probably write a post with a few more details about all of that soon. We also made a really big financial decision instead of building the summer kitchen, but I’ll address that in another post soon.

The new greenhouse.

We talked about possibly getting pigs this year, but since neither of us did any research over the winter, we decided that an animal other than poultry will likely have to wait another year, unless the right situation would present itself. It’s a bad idea to take on something like that unprepared, and I think we’d regret it. So pray that we can get the research done and next year we can up our game.

We bought a new refrigerator last month. I don’t think either of us really wanted to, in that the fridge we had was working just fine, but all of the shelving was absolute junk. The shelves in the doors were broken beyond repair, the door was not shutting properly, the crisper drawer had a big hole kicked in it because it got stuck… It was kind of a nightmare in that respect. We found a fridge that has a convertible freezer, so now we can use the entire thing as a refrigerator, which is perfect for our big family. We’re very happy with it so far, and it has been so nice to have the extra refrigerator space. I know I’ll especially appreciate it during harvest season when we have lots of food to process.

The kids and I have been shifting gears a little with our homeschool routine recently. The older three are doing more independent work now, which is nice because it allows me to work with Doodles and E a little more easily. Doodles has eased up on his stubborn streak and has let me know what things he’s ready to start working on, and E has been eager to do what Doodles is doing, so that’s been nice.

The older kids and I were doing a ton of reading, per their request, but I had to back off a little, because it was wearing me out. We were reading The Silmarillion, The Case for Christ, Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Race, Exploring Creation: Chemistry and Physics, Exploring Creation: Zoology 3: Creatures of the Land, Who Was Neil Armstrong, plus our morning prayers and hymns, and the usual readings from two different children’s Bibles. Wow. Just writing all of that out was exhausting!

So I told them that I needed to cut some of it out for right now. We finished up the book on Neil Armstrong because it was short, and I said we’d finish The Case for Christ before we jump back into the Silmarillion or Mr. Lemoncello, and we’re just going to do one science book until I get done with Mr. Lemoncello. Then we’ll be back to our normal reading routine.

The prayer and hymns and Bible study time will remain the same. We read from two different “children’s” Bibles so that we can really memorize these stories. We have a bunch of different versions geared towards different ages or with different focuses so it helps them glean new information all of the time.

One of the hymns we sing in the mornings.

Scott and I do a Bible study with some friends once a week, and sometimes one of the older kids will join us for that. We’d let them more often, but sometimes adults need to be able to discuss adult topics, and the kids just aren’t ready for that. But we let them from time to time, and they think it’s just the coolest thing. I go to Bible study at our church once in awhile, when it works with our schedule, and occasionally, the older boys will follow along when we do that. They want to do a more formal, “grown-up” study with me once a week out of their own “grown-up” Bibles, and we’ll start doing that really soon, once I get myself adjusted to our modified routine.

I’ve been busy with projects, and yet not so busy at the same time. I really can’t figure out how that works. Anyway, I made a dress for myself, crocheted a shawl, made a blanket for my sister-in-law, made a blanket for Peanut, finished a blanket for E, finished an old hand-quilting project for my niece, and more recently, I made an altar cloth and liturgical cloths for the different church seasons for our prayer times. That was such a simple project, but so fun for me to do.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading this winter, but not quite as much as I hoped. I finished reading the book Persecution by Dave Limbaugh, I’m about finished reading The Flipside of Feminism by Venker and Schlafly, I read The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs by Joel Salatin last month, and I’m reading Around the Year with the von Trap Family by Maria von Trapp, and I crammed in Melissa K Norris’s book, The Family Garden Plan. I am also casually reading a book called Socialism by William Federer, a book on flood myths and legends, and I am trying to finish reading a few books I’d started quite awhile ago.

By the way, the von Trapp book is awesome. The book is about how a family can celebrate the Liturgical year at home, and I am absolutely loving it. It has me excited to add a few new traditions to our year!

I really, really thought I’d have all kinds of time to write this winter, and in truth, I did. But I didn’t have the motivation or energy. My computer has been fickle about charging, and it seemed it was dead every time I picked it up to write. Or when I did write, I couldn’t get the words to come out right. I had things on my mind I wanted to say, but I could never seem to put it into writing. Recently, it seems I have regained my inspiration. Let’s just hope it lasts! It’s not like I want to be writing all of the time, but it would be nice if I could at least do it on a semi-regular basis.

I’ve been working on my non-homesteading plans for the year. We set up park days with friends, picked out dates for Rocket Club, picked a date for the Tea Party, a weekend for the guys to go camping and dirt biking, and put a few other random things on the schedule. I don’t like having a lot on my schedule, but just knowing that we have these things picked out in advance might help prevent me from over-booking myself.

We’re finally making plans for the homestead. I’m not quite ready to share everything that we’re thinking about doing, but there’s probably going to be a lot of landscaping done, and we’ll probably have some chickens for butchering and egg production again. Hopefully, as I iron out some of these plans in the coming week, I’ll be able to share more of what we’ve got going on for the year!

How’s your start to 2021? Are things going well for you this year?

Love and Blessings~ Danielle

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