“Will you be selling pumpkins again this year?” Ummm…(awkward pause) no. “You must be doing a lot of canning right now!” Nope, not really. We patiently waited all summer long to have some kind of harvest… any kind of harvest. We knew we weren’t going to have stellar results, we knew we were going to have less success than last year, but the results have been pretty pathetic this year. If you’ve been wondering why you haven’t been hearing about more homestead related stuff from us, it’s because we haven’t had much to write about, and yet we kind of have. Homesteading in September started off on the right foot, but quickly got off track.
It just wasn’t meant to be… this year. God had different plans in mind for us this year, and that’s okay. I may be a little disappointed in the results, but we’ll take what we can get. Maybe His plan is to help us understand failure better, to keep us humble. Maybe it was to give me the opportunity to refine other skills. Some of it was surely to get certain things back on track around the house and as a family. Even if our garden results weren’t stellar, and even if we didn’t get to utilize certain new tools, we did a whole lot of building up this year, and down the road, I am sure that it will lead to results that are beyond our imagining.
So what went wrong? For starters, we planted our garden 1-2 weeks late. Normally, that wouldn’t be an issue, but it rained SO MUCH during June and July. Not a terrible thing when you are starting a garden… I never really had to water… but then again, I’m pretty sure we may have gotten just a smidge too much water. And in between all of that rain, there were really hot days. Yeah, summer is hot around here and all, but not in June. We always want it to be hot in June… in fact, we’ll even pretend it is, but it doesn’t really start to get hot until July, and August and September are always the scorchers. Actually, all of this rain and heat wasn’t terrible for the gardens or even the fruit trees. Things were growing quickly and flourishing, despite being late. But then it hailed.
Yes, the hail came through and it ripped most of the fruit off of our fruit trees. Some of our peaches survived, and two of the apple trees seemed like they were going to do okay. I had missed the first part of our cherry harvest (the birds and kids got them) and thought I’d get the rest the next day, but the next day was the hail storm. So no cherries. But I had hope for those peaches and apples. The garden was still small and seemed to be unscathed by the hail storm. It looked like we’d recover well. But we didn’t.
After the hail storm, it got cool outside. By cool, I mean we had a lot of days that barely made it to 70F. For most of July, August, and September, I saw very little growth, except for the peas and green beans. If plants are expecting higher temps and don’t get them, they just won’t grow the same. I think the plants thought fall was coming, and a lot of them floundered. And then something strange happened in September.
September started to get warmer. It was gradual at first, but by mid-September, we had the hottest temperatures of the year. In fact, I think the first day of fall was the hottest day of the year.
I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me go back to the beginning of the month. I did harvest peaches! But they got thrown out 🙁 We harvested them one day, but then I wasn’t able to deal with them right away, and we were busy every day that weekend. I wouldn’t have harvested them, but they were falling on the ground, and if we left them, the bugs would get them. Spoiler alert: the bugs got them anyway. Disappointment followed, especially from the kids since I had planned to make honey-spiced peaches again this year. But that’s life. You pick yourself back up and move on. The potatoes were dying back which meant it was time for another harvest.
Actually, prior to the hail storm, the potatoes were looking fantastic. They never really recovered from that, so when I went to dig them up, I was only a little bit surprised to find two potatoes for every one that I had planted. Oh well, at least we doubled our input, right? I needed a way to store them in the kitchen, and I had FINALLY gotten my sewing room in check (mostly), so I completed a project that’s been on my list for the past 3 years… burlap produce bags. They were fast and easy to make, and I will probably end up making some more. The upside? I completed a long-overdue project and it made our kitchen appear just a little bit cleaner.
On one of the comfortable days, I got ambitious and decided I’d finally spread some woodchips out in front of the platform for the produce stand. I doubted I’d have anything to put out there this year, but why not get the groundwork laid? The ground over there was quite uneven, so I was able to get it evened out some, and I planted a few mums that I had picked up from Walmart a few weeks earlier for a dollar each. They might be dead now, I’m not sure. I probably should have bought mums from my neighbor, but she put hers out right after I bought mine. At least the other flowers I planted in the Secret Garden were doing well. Anyway, I am not sure if I will get anything more done on the produce stand this year. I’d like to, but we put a hold on homesteading projects until we could get better at other things (like keeping the house clean or staying on top of schoolwork).
We had our second chicken butchering, and that went well. All of the birds were similar in weight to the first batch, and we butchered my brother’s two turkeys as well. Yay! A success! And the green beans were doing well, and the cucumbers starting to grow. I was planning to start canning green beans with the pressure canner. In fact, I was planning to do it on the 8th, but then my plans just fell apart…
Speaking of falling apart plans, we had picked apples on Thursday the 7th. I did manage to make some applesauce that day, but I didn’t have enough time to do it all, so I was going to finish it up the next day. I had actually started to make the applesauce… cut up a whole bunch and had a huge pot on the stove, cooked and ready for grinding. But then E choked and that all went out the window. No canned green beans, no applesauce, but at least our baby is alive.
Four days later… Actually, right before E had his “incident,” I received some exciting news. A friend of mine had sent me an email for Bill and Jennifer of Self-Reliant School’s Christmas Bootcamp. They were looking for somebody to make a sewing tutorial video, and my friend thought of me. I was hesitant when I filled out the form, and explained my reservations, but they offered me the spot! Now I had to make a video. Well, that Friday, the kids and I actually made a trip to the fabric store in the morning for three reasons. One was to get materials for the Bootcamp video, another was to get materials for my upcoming table runner tutorial, and the last reason was to take pictures for the post on How to Buy Fabric. Well, I tried to do some writing while we were in the hospital, but my mind was elsewhere. When we got home, I was able to start working on the project. I actually filmed the video twice, and I’m still not totally sure how I feel about it. I haven’t tried to make or edit a video since Freshman year of high school, and that’s getting to be a while ago…. I’m getting ahead of myself again. I’ll tell you all about this project very soon! But this project took most of the spare time I had last week. We also had a lot of field trips that week, and again, another post for another day.
Whew! That feels like a lot. And yet not so much. Oh, I know! Scott and Tiffany harvested our first honey last(?) Thursday! I think there was over a half gallon of honey. Yet again, another post for another day. I don’t have pictures from that because I was still distracted from the whole hospital thing and also because of the video project.
I have been wanting a new headshot for the blog, and I needed to submit one with my video, so my brother took one for me that Thursday. It’s nice to have a brother (and a sister) who are photographers! I also tried my hand (yet again) at making a new logo for Spring Lake Homestead. I have not loved any of them. I can totally see in my head what I want it to look like, but I can’t turn it into a reality on paper or computer. I kind of like my results, but not as a logo. I’ve toyed with writing a children’s book (mostly because I’d enjoy illustrating one), so maybe I’ll have to save this for that way-down-the-road project. It could be about our homestead in one way or another. If you have any ideas, I’d be happy to hear them 🙂
Well, somewhere in the midst of extra field trips, making videos, and extended stays in the hospital, it got hot out. Really hot. And guess what? Our plants started to grow! I noticed our zucchini plants getting bigger late last week (was it Friday?), and yesterday when I finally remember to check the garden, I found a bunch of zucchini growing! Now I can make zucchini bread! And my favorite “summer dish” (I’ll have to make up a recipe for you sometime). And that wasn’t all that was growing! The sunflowers have suddenly bloomed, the pumpkins are actually starting to grow, and the tomatoes are starting to ripen. I might actually get to make another batch of pesto from the basil plant. And there is still a chance I may be able to can some green beans. I haven’t checked, and it would probably have to happen pronto, but we’ll see.
We also started up German lessons again last week, and the kids just finished week two of Religious Education. It will be good to have something to mark our calendar by, but those regular events also seem to make time march by much too quickly. And as always, September gets rounded out by our anniversary. Today, Scott and I celebrate 10 years of marriage! We have officially been married for a decade 🙂 We sure have packed a lot into those years!
I needed to write out what went wrong this year so that next year I can look back and think “oh yeah…” and know what we can try to do differently so that next year, we can have pumpkins to sell again and food to preserve. Hopefully our preparations (and failures) this year will cause us to be more prepared next year. There were a lot of moments we felt overwhelmed this year without having to deal with garden chores and harvesting, and I can’t imagine what kind of stress that would have added to our lives to have a bountiful harvest. Blessings in disguise, right? But next year I hope to have our organizational skills in a better place, that we are being more diligent about working on certain “educational skills” with the kids, and that we all know how to do our chores better so that we will be excited and prepared for a bountiful harvest. Next year will be better. I don’t doubt it.
Now it’s time to hear from you! What were your successes this summer? What did you fail at? What kinds of obstacles did you face?