I hope you are all enjoying a peaceful beginning to this Advent season. We’ve been enjoying getting things set up over the last week. Some lights are hung, stockings are waiting for St. Nick’s, and we’ve been preparing our hearts and minds for the coming of Christ.
I have yet to make a final decision, but I may be shutting down the blog. Since getting rid of the internet in the house, it rarely crosses my mind to write anything, and the few times that I have hooked up to the internet, just answering my emails takes up far more time than I’d like. Using the internet is just getting to be a hassle and a task that I don’t enjoy at all!
As to the whole decision to get rid of the internet… I’m very glad we decided to ditch it. I’ve just felt so much more peace in not having that distraction in our home. I’ve been more focused on the right things in life. There are random things that are minor disappointments or frustrations, like realizing I need to look up a recipe I used to use and never printed off. Some days I’d kind of like to be able to listen to podcasts again, but ultimately, I don’t need that either. It’s a fleeting moment of feeling like “Oh… I can’t do that right now,” and then it passes and I forget all about it.
I’ve always read a lot, but rather than reading a little online and a little in books, I’m now focused on the books. It’s been good for me, lots of edifying reading.
Pig butchering went well. It took us a total of 3 days to butcher 6 pigs. We started to butcher the first Friday of November. It was a slaughter day, and we killed 5 of the 6 pigs, got them gutted, skinned, and quartered. We took the quarters over to my friend’s walk-in cooler to store overnight.
The next day, we finished the slaughtering. The men worked outside for the first half of the day. They skinned the hocks, got the heads cleaned up for use, and took care of a few other jobs. Meanwhile, I worked inside with the ladies and showed everyone how to cut up the front quarter of a pig. After lunch, we picked up and started showing the men how to cut up the quarters, and after dinner, we all grabbed a ham and started to break those down into cuts as well.
On Sunday, after church, we finished butchering the last pig with the help of our friends/neighbors (thank you!!!) and one of Scott’s brothers. Once the work was done and we had everything cleaned up, we went back to the cooler to divide up all of the meat for everyone to take home.
Sincerely, a huge thank you to everyone who helped. What a blessing! It went really smoothly, and it was an enjoyable weekend overall.
I spent some of my time the next few days working on getting my meat moved into the freezers and preparing my meat for grinding. I have been meaning to grind for the last month, but I just haven’t had the ambition or the time. Everything is ready to go, I just need to work up the motivation.
I crashed pretty hard once butchering was over, and I feel like I’m still recovering. It wasn’t the butchering itself, just all of the general homestead work for the year, the start of a new school year, AND having a new baby. Plus, I had my wisdom teeth pulled and I’ve been dealing with some back pain, so overall, it’s been intense since Olive was born. I’ve been so grateful to be able to just relax and unwind a little these last two weeks.
I took the week of gun hunting for deer and just totally relaxed. I read quite a few books for my own purposes in that time, and by last Sunday, I was feeling ready to start thinking about the things around me again. Adeline helped me clean up part of the basement last Sunday, and it was SUCH a relief. I’ve been meaning to do that for over a year now!
Then we spent the beginning of the week working on other odd jobs. We had to clear out a lot of garbage from the basement, do some repairs around the house, fix the pen for the last remaining pig (we’re keeping him), and then did some things for Advent. Aaron built a little manger for us to put straw into throughout Advent, and he also made a rack for us to hang all of our stockings on for St. Nick’s.
It wasn’t until sometime last week that I realized I haven’t really even begun to think about Christmas gifts yet. Normally, I’d be well prepared by now, but not this year. Part of that is because I have been reassessing how a lot of things are done around here. There’s this frustrating sway of feelings that range from “we can’t afford anything anymore” (because of inflation) to “the amount of waste and excess and ‘wealth’ we have is sickening.”
This isn’t exactly a new feeling… it’s part of why we homestead and homeschool, but I feel like I’m seeing the greater extremes of it all, if that makes any sense. When the gas and grocery budget goes half as far as it used to, it’s rather depressing. But then I get home and see the clutter and the messes, and the things not cared for and that’s depressing too. I’m not depressed, it’s just that the situation is frustrating and there doesn’t seem to be any clear or easy way out of it.
I work on the mess and clutter part constantly, but it’s an uphill battle. Yes, the kids are involved, they do a lot to help out, but it’s always a struggle. The younger boys still don’t understand, the big kids still don’t really want to help out, and it’s 7 to 1 every day. My friends are all feeling the same pressure lately. I think part of that comes with our turning our attention back to the inside work after all of the outside work for month. Pray for us!
Scott has been glad things have slowed down a bit, too. He was also feeling a little overwhelmed after such an intense year. We got the new building completed shortly before butchering, which was perfect, because we ended up using that as the place for skinning and gutting, and it worked really well. It ended up raining and we had something like 50 mph wind gusts that weekend, so it was good to be working under shelter. He and the boys finished splitting last year’s wood that they cut once the building was finished, and now they’re working on winterizing things and getting things cleaned up in the garage.
I mentioned before that we have 1 pig left. We bought 8 in the spring with the intention of butchering 7 and keeping one of the females. Only, we found out that one of the boys was not castrated, and so we decided to try and keep him, and we may end up breeding him in the future. We still only butchered 6 of the pigs because the 7th was picked up to be butchered elsewhere. Two of the 6 pigs were our own, and the other 4 we raised for some friends and family, all of whom helped us butcher.
Initially, our plan was to get a second pig this year so we could have a breeding pair and raise our own piglets this next spring, but infrastructure came along slower than we wanted for various reasons and we were so burnt out that we decided we’ll wait until next year to get a sow.
As for the milk cow, that is still questionable for now. We still may end up doing that, but there is so much we’d need to figure out over the winter, so we will see how things progress with that. I want to just push through and do it, but right now, I just need to focus on getting back into a steady rhythm again. I have to do some more reading and the kids and I have to do some planning before any final decisions are made.
The kids are doing well. They’re each continuing to make strides in new areas of life. Olive is getting big, she’s 3.5 months old already! She’s sleep trained, pudgy, happy, and getting stronger and stronger every day. I have a suspicion she’ll walk early like Aaron and talk early like Adeline.
Other than that, not much is new around here. Maybe if the house is cleaner and my head clearer, I could write more in depth soon, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for it! I hope you are all doing well! May God bring peace and joy to your homes this Advent season!
I’m not homesteading, but often have that same feeling: I can’t keep up. Then I recall what I always told my writing students when they were blocked: “Lower your expectations.” It helps to get started and feel you’ve accomplished something. As I read this, it seemed as though you are accomplishing an awful lot–maybe you’re focusing too much on your “high expectations.”
I will miss this blog a lot, if you choose to end it, but you’ve got a lot on your plate, and you know best where you want to put your work hours. Have a blessed Christmas.
Spring Lake Homestead
Maybe! I think the hard part about trying to get “back on track” is that I took all of last winter off from doing any major cleaning because I was so sick. We keep chipping away at things and it’s slowly getting better. It’s always a struggle to know if expectations are maybe too high, or if priorities are off or if we’ve just got too much on our plate!