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Busy as a Bee

I’ve been busy as a bee over here, going from one project or task to the next, and in the process, transforming this place we call home. The results are just as sweet as honey to me, and all of that work and effort is creating little seeds that will someday turn into so much more.

I don’t think the right question to ask me these days is “What have you been up to?” so much as it should maybe be “What haven’t you been doing?” I’m working hard to make our goals for the year a reality. It means shaking up the routine for the summer so that we can finally get on track, but I feel a lot better about shaking things up because of where we are at with everything else. The kids are doing great with their schooling, they’ve become incredibly helpful and also independent, and it’s allowing me to take things in a different direction this summer. And I am SO grateful for that!

Seriously, I can’t fully express just how much the help the kids have given me is worth. Adam has been helping cut the lawn, watch Gideon, work in the garden, and assist me with different projects. Aaron has been the hardest worker for the last month. He’s been doing a ton of yard clean up, he started cutting the lawn with the riding mower, too, he helps me with things all of the time. Adeline has largely been helping out with food, watching the little boys, cleaning the house, taking care of Gideon, and helping in the garden when needed.

Paul has learned how to ride a bike without training wheels, which means he’s currently keeping himself very occupied and out of trouble, and he’s able to assist with some jobs as I need him to. Elijah is just far less needy at the age of four. Quite often, his siblings help him when he needs it, and he spends nearly all day every day playing outside or cutting the lawn with the reel lawnmower I bought last month, and when he’s in the house, he’s usually just playing quietly. Gideon his walking, talking a little, teething… Like I said, his big siblings have been a huge help with him. I spend plenty of time with him, but he really enjoys spending time with the big kids. When he’s awake, I sometimes park him in a stroller near where I’m working so he can watch me, put him in a carrier, or just take a break to spend time playing with him.

I stalled out for a couple of weeks there while the Wisconsin Safer at Home order was in place, but the minute it was overturned, I regained my energy. I’ve been doing Bible Study at church, and we’ve been having friends over once a week for that same purpose. Scott’s got me beat though… he has 3 in one day some weeks! Church reopened for Sunday Mass on June 14th, so we’ve been back for two weeks now for that, and it feels so good. After receiving communion on Sunday though, my heart just broke a little because I could feel how sad it makes God that people are too scared to come to church or too indifferent. I hope the pews start filling up again soon! We started to see friends again regularly, and it’s just really so good for the soul.

Scott, Paul, and Adeline stood up in a wedding for family friends. The groom is our oldest friend, and his bride is one of our newest, but she’s absolutely wonderful, and it feels like I’ve known her forever. Paul got to be the Ring Bearer, and Miss Lady was one of three flower girls. Scott was a groomsman, and I got to do the alterations on the bride’s dress as well as Scott’s clothes, Adeline’s, another flower girl’s, a bridesmaid, my dress, and my sister-in-law’s. It was nice to have an excuse to do some sewing, and stuff I really haven’t done much of in years! I don’t really have the time to take on alterations normally, but this was a good reason to take a break from some of my other projects.

The garden is probably the biggest project at the moment. Almost everything is coming up really nicely. We have a couple of spots that aren’t/didn’t do as well, but after the rain the past few days, everything else just shot up! We planted a massive garden this year, a pumpkin patch, and a sunflower patch. The kids were incredibly helpful in getting everything planted. Scott bought me a double-wheeled hoe for and early Mother’s Day gift, and it is probably my second favorite gift ever. Yes, I know that makes me really weird. This tool is a HUGE help. It made quick work of making rows for planting, prepping weedy patches for planting, and it weeds like a dream. We don’t have any mulch in the garden this year, so it was an absolute necessity in order to make this garden feasible. The weeds are a stretch to keep up with this year. There’s so much going on, and the garden is so big. But I’m definitely managing better than ever before.

Exciting stuff… I’ve started to harvest things from the kitchen garden! Lettuce, some spinach, a ton of oregano, and lots of garlic scapes. We’ve been using lettuce for awhile, but the other things were just harvested recently. Sometime in the next couple of weeks, we’ll be harvesting peas, and before you know it, beans, zucchinis, and more! I can’t wait!

While I’m eagerly waiting more to come out of the gardens, I’m really thankful that I don’t have to harvest much just yet. I’ve been too busy working on projects around here, and I don’t want food to go to waste, or to have to wait any longer to get this stuff done! I recently built an outhouse with a composting toilet, I framed a new wall for the “Summer Kitchen” (the old coop that burned down two years ago), and I’m in the process of painting the granary. I sided the garage portion with board and batten to make it look more like the rest of the building that it’s attached to, and now it’s all getting a paint job!!!

There’s a long way to go to finish the work on this building. First we need to find the funds. I can do a little more work on it until we have more money for it, but it’s probably going to stay like this for awhile now.

I really can’t put into words just how much these projects mean to us to be working on. The old coop has just been kind of depressing to look at, and it’s still kind of a cluttery mess, because we have to finish cleaning up around the outside of the foundation. We did a lot of the demolition needed to fix it up last summer, and now we’re moving on to the repair phase. Framing out the wall was a pretty big deal. Now we just need the funds to finish the project. The goal is to have the structure completed before it snows again. We might not get it totally completed, in terms of potential painting and whatnot, but if we can get glass in the windows, a roof on, and the sliding doors in place, we’ll be doing good.

The granary is just a game-changer. We’ve been wanting to fix it up since we moved here, and we’re finally working on it. We’ve been here nearly 5 years now! Every time I get a little more paint on it, I get more and more excited. It’s really looking so good, and we both feel like it looks like we care enough to take care of what we own, which is a really good feeling. I will probably do a whole post on this once I have the project completed.

The outhouse was a multi-purpose project, meant to solve several problems. Now that there’s stuff planted in the field, I want to be able to work out there without having to walk all the way back to the house to go to the bathroom. If we have a power outage again, we have a back-up. And when we have company over for one of our many, many outdoor gatherings, we have another restroom that people can use, particularly for when we are having bonfires or are hosting Rocket Club. Scott was very against the project, but it won approval from the women we’ve had over, and he had to concede that it makes the set-up we have in the pie field feel more like a destination than just a random fire pit in the middle of a field, which really is part of our goal for it all.

I’m not sure if I mentioned it last time I wrote, but Scott built a new arbor for the grape vines. The old arbor was rotting and falling down, so we needed to replace it. He built a much bigger arbor, but we both really like how it looks. He still has to add on the brace supports at the top, but we just need to set aside a little bit of time for that so we can wrap that project up. He also recently cut the grass in the big field. We staked all of the trees that are growing out there that we want to keep (the intention is that it will be a grazing field someday), and he cut everything else down.

I built a bench for the Prayer Garden! That also felt really good, because it makes the whole area feel like a place that’s meant to be relaxing and enjoyed. All of the perennials I planted a few years ago are starting to fill out, and the things I’ve added this year really took off nicely. We started to dig out the stream more and line it with stones, but unfortunately, we haven’t gotten as far with that as I would have liked. Now the grass is high again, and I’ll probably have to wait until late in the year or next spring to finish shaping it. Oh well. And Pumpkin and I painted his greenhouse and put actual roofing material on the half of the roof that was just plywood for the last year.

We are currently raising broiler chickens. Initially, the plan was to butcher this Saturday, but we had two issues… one is that the birds weren’t as big as I had anticipated, and the other is that finding a chest freezer right now is nearly impossible. I’m glad that people are being more prepared for bad situations, but I really need another freezer right now! We pushed back butcher date by two weeks, so hopefully I can get something by then. Aaron has been a huge help to me, almost exclusively doing those chores ever since we moved the birds out to pasture. We started with 72, but I think we are down to 54 now. We had several issues after moving the birds out to pasture. It was unfortunate, but we learned a few valuable lessons. We’ve been doing this for 4 years now, but there’s sadly, always more to learn.

We plowed a plot of land for some of our friends so they could plant a garden this year. They planted beets, cucumbers, sunflowers, and tomatoes, and so far, it’s all doing well! I’m excited for them, and I’m glad we are able to help them. I’ve been wanting to do something like this for other people for awhile now, but this was the first year it really worked out to do it the way I pictured. We’ve had some people do a little gardening here in the past, but this is different. I hope we can expand on this a little more in the future.

Scott changed up some of the trails on the back of the property. We live on land with a lot of springs, and so we were having some water issues on some of the trails we were using. We had to shift them over a bit to fix the issue. We also cleared a plot of land where we hope to build an off-grid cabin someday. I hope that’s in the not-too-distant future, but we’ll see. Maybe next year if all goes well financially.

Inside, I’ve been trying to catch up on cleaning, and I recently finished the final wall of bookshelves in the living room. I’m still not quite done with the second section that I built, but I’m hoping to wrap that up soon. Probably on some rainy day. This last set of shelves… it took me a long time to get it done. I could have finished it sooner, but with all of the outside work, I just took my merry old time. I worked on it on rainy days as I had the time and energy. I struggled with a few things on this project, but I’m very happy with how it turned out. After I finish the trim and cabinet doors for the one shelf, the next step will to prep for the woodstove. We need to add some fireproof material to the wall and the floor, and then the woodstove can come in anytime. The actual installation might not happen until next tax season, because the chimney liner is going to be PRICEY because of how tall our house is. And yes, I got more than one quote. It’s the type of liner that we need combined with the amount that we need. I’m so anxious to have it installed!

I’ve been trying to play catch-up with housework whenever the weather is not good for being outside. Right now I am way behind on shifting around clothing sizes and seasonal clothes for the kids. The dryer broke for the third time this year, and the part to fix it just arrived, so I’ll be able to do some laundry again soon. We got behind on deep cleaning bedrooms and some of the other spaces in the house, so I’m really pushing to fix that on rainy days. I’m getting better at being able to work outside on hot days… go out early and late, and stay inside during the middle of the day. Also, having a massive to-do list is keeping me highly motivated.

Aside from all of that, I think the only other thing that I didn’t address is the apple trees. We grafted a lot of trees this spring. I forget the exact number right now, but I think it was something like 130. We ordered 150 rootstock, but gave some to a friend, and we used some to make more rootstock. The grafts got planted in the fenced in garden, and most of them appear to be doing pretty well. I need to do some serious weeding in there, though! The rest of the fruit trees are doing so-so. I wouldn’t say they are bad, but between the shock from the fire and the bitter cold winter two years ago, they are in a strange cycle for fruit production. At least one of the apple trees put out zero blossoms this year. One of our cherry trees died, but our sweet cherry finally produced a few cherries. I still don’t think we have any pears, though. Oh well. We keep working at it. Last year was a pretty good fruit year, so I can’t complain. I’m sure next year will be better.

Well, that’s all for now! How are things going by you? Drop a line in the comments!

Love and Blessings~Danielle

4 Comments

  • Susan Casper

    How many acres do you have? It’s starting to look like a large functioning operation. It must give you lots of satisfaction to see your planning and ideas turn into reality. Do you still have the dog? Haven’t seen him in a while.

    • Spring Lake Homestead

      We’re on 25 acres, but we only utilize a fraction of it. There are several ponds, and there’s a lot of wooded area, too. It is very satisfying seeing things turn to reality. We’ve been laying the groundwork for years, and now it’s actually becoming visible.
      We do still have our dog. She’s doing well, happy as can be! She spends a lot of time by my side when I am out there, and she likes to walk the property and find animals to chase.

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