My Country Quest

Follow along our journey back to the land. This is where we will record our thoughts, musings and dealings with terrible dragons right here for your viewing pleasure.

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Location: Missouri, United States

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Puttin' By

I don't know whether to call this entry "puttin' by" or "bye-bye Puttin' By". Our garden is a terrible mess. There are weeds everywhere there isn't a foot of mulch. Funny how the weeds ALWAYS make good...It has been very dry this summer here in the Midwest and our gardens are paying for it.

  • The corn didn't set well at all so we have short ears, one on a stalk instead of 2 and they aren't filled out all the way either.
  • Bugs had Mardi-Gras on our green beans so there are very few of those.
  • The tomatoes look good though we don't have any ripe ones YET!!!
  • Our potatoes are ready to dig but I'm not sure yet where I'm going to store them. I had supposed to can them, a horrible waste of energy and space to store potatoes. Recently though, the thought of dehydrating them has crossed my mind.

Speaking of dehydrating, I found an awesome forum for sharing canning and preserving recipes. Sugar Mountain Homesteading Board I got the idea to dry the yellow squash my mother in law gave me. HUGE SUCCESS!!! I salted it lightly with sea salt and they taste JUST like potato chips! No kidding! Funny though how 12 pounds of squash can be dried to fit into a half-pint jar! LOL It's gonna take alot of squash to get a pound of "chips". hehehehe I'll probably used them in stews and casseroles rather than as snacks. Maybe if I had abigger dehydrator I'd do it for snacks. This way, my little "Harvest Master" dehydrator is barely adequate. Maybe next year?

Friday, July 01, 2005

June 13th

Rain. Can't till and the weeds are getting really bad. Where we have hay down there isn't even one poking it's way out from under that blanket. I've come up with a new garden motto:

Where there is no hay the weeds prosper.

June 8th, 2005

Our first cash from the Holland's came in today!!! Woohoo!!! We will be building some better housing for them if we have anything left over after buying rabbit pellets. Woohoo!!! I am so excited. If my accounting is accurate, and I think it is, we have now officially cleared our investment of all breeding stock. Not bad eh?

The garden is looking good but I must admit that without a LOT Of hay to mulch with, which we don't have, it's going to get really full of weeds in a hurry. It's amazing but we have a rototiller now so we'll be getting out there this weekend to till up the weeds. At present our largerst crop is one of poison ivy. No kidding.

May 14th, 2005

Camped out last night. We actually planned on camping for 2 nights but after last night, well… I doubt we will be doing that again anytime soon.

The ground is unbelievably hard. Ok - you’ve had your laugh, now on with this entry. I am not 17 anymore, the supple age I was when I last camped with my parents. Ahh… I don’t like getting old. Anyway, we camped, we cooked, we ate, and minus a few mosquito bites and a hitch in my get-along we are none the worse for the wear.
I doubt we will be planning anymore though until the outhouse is built. We had to use a 5 gallon bucket which, in theory, works fine. Except that no one wanted to sleep in the tent that housed the porta-potty. Yes, of course we took it outside. The smell however was not so easy to move. Yuck. It amazes me how soft I have become. I mean, I used to jump in and out of holes in the ground, chase down wandering cattle, shinny up a tree and hide or hang upside down from it’s limbs. I guess it’s time to admit that this body too has aged. And none too gracefully I might add, if I’m judging by my rear-view after last night’s camp out.

May 7th, 2005

Almost a month since I wrote. Sigh. Been working. Really hard. Now I understand better why most people mow off their “perfectly fertile land” and raise grass instead of sweet corn. It’s a lot of work. I doubt I’ll be waxing poetic in today’s entry so bear with me.

-planted 3 pounds of sweet corn (For you amateurs that’s 13 - 250’ rows. Wait a minute. We’re amateurs too. Sorry.)

- planted 15 hills of cantaloupe (Yes really. It will bring about $2 each and the seed cost a whopping 20 cents. Plus it will freeze well cut up if we can‘t sell or give it away.)

All of the plating thus far as been done with the aid of a hoe, a rake, and a piece of PVC pipe fashioned with some duct tape to make a pseudo-seeder. At least that’s what we call it. I can tell you that by the end of that 13th row we were surely spending our crop cash on a tractor and seeder. A real one.

The tightening is being felt in earnest now. We are barely making it from paycheck to paycheck and that’s without the phone. We’ll have it back on eventually but due to a miscalculation brought on by fatigue I forgot to pay the bill. Did you know that in Missouri (and elsewhere too I would think) one can order only the basic phone service without long distance for a measly $13 and some change a month? I feel like an idiot for having paid more than $75 a month for all of my adult life on a phone bill. We calculated that even with buying phone cards for long distance we will save about $500 a year.

Savings aside, I’m having a bit of trouble dealing with this “all-work and no play” thing. It can’t be helped really since we have to get things planted NOW before it rains but I am planning a real vacation when we’re done. Well. . . we’ll probably camp out or something but I am bringing a book. To read. Non-reference material. And some lemonade.

April 12, 2005

One can hardly call our little 3.9 acres in a rural subdivision “wildness” but I just read this phrase by Henry David Thoreau in “Building Your Cabin Retreat”:

In wildness is the preservation of the world.

And though I highly doubt we will do much to have a “world-wide” preservation impact, on our little dirt farm, we intend to preserve our family well enough on it with God’s help. The neighbors no doubt think we are crazy - Mr. Jamison is here today to plow and he’s just as I write this turning under a bit more than half of our land for a garden. I’ve never understood why more people don’t do this, and instead choose to mow off perfectly fertile ground. But then I’ve never been one to do things for purely aesthetic reasons so I doubt my opinion is worth much. We have a Rabbitry in our garage and half of our city lot is filled with garden plots as the whim arose. J Amidst the traditional flower beds around the house I grow lettuce, radishes, comfrey for salves and rabbits. . . You get the idea. Utilitarian-chic is what I like to call our style. It’s pretty to the trained eye.

As I’m writing I see that our friendly plowman has offered a ride to Austin (12). He is having the time of his life today. The only thing better would be if he were behind the wheel himself. I’m reminded of a spring-fresh day just like this one not a few years ago when I was sitting on the fender of Dad’s old Oliver tractor. We had finished haying the cows and between the barn driveway and the house driveway we picked up speed. My hair flew back as Daddy & I exchanged a smiling glance. We were both hoping Mom didn’t see us I think because it would worry her to see me in such a precarious position. IT was worth the risk though and as we lurched to a stop I happily proclaimed that I’d never get married. I’d stay right here for the rest of my life thank you. . . though I’d have to build my own house someday. The dream of living close to the land in a house I built myself was birthed that day I think. Almost 13 years of marriage and 4 children later, I am seeing that dream come alive.

April 3rd, 2005

I am going to post some journal entries from the beginning of our quest. Not the very beginning mind you, but the actual physical beginning of the journey. Enjoy!

Just got home from the title company. I had anticipated being giddy from the event of the morning but I’m not. The reality of our choice has set in like a thunderstorm. We now have 2 mortgages. One on the house we’re living in until it sells, and as of this morning a second one on the land. Gulp. On $1800 a month we have to make $538 in mortgage payments, pay our utilities, feed and clothe the children plus Shawn and I. Double gulp. Thank the Lord we own our car and ¾ ton van - though gas on the latter costs easily as much as a payment would.

There was somewhat of a rush to buy this land because the price was right, it has water access, and we got owner financing at a 5 year term. We’ve been hoping and praying for just such an arrangement for nearly 5 years. The area is so glutted with people moving in from the city that it’s nearly impossible to find something like this so we jumped at it.

We’ve tightened our belts on the food budget but I’m insulin resistant & I just can’t eat rice and beans and expect to function properly. Hello loopy Mama! J This tightening has brought both Shawn & I to the startling reality that we are, like most Americans, one paycheck short of complete destitution. In what I can only ascribe to “divine vision” we have the Rabbitry up and running and should have fresh meat from them in about 6 weeks. The plan for that is to raise Holland Lops for pet stores - just enough to pay for feed for the meat rabbits. I found 3 pet stores eager to buy them from me at a reasonable profit but I’m seeing no why there are no other local breeders. Iris (one of the brood does) has kindled twice with only 2 kits to show for. At $20@ that will pay for the feed bill for now but we still have 6 weeks to go until we harvest our first crop of rabbit meat. My idea of a “no cash meat product” has a few glitches.

Our 25 Buff Orpington pullets are nearly feathered out and we’ve only lost 2. Pretty good considering that Joshua (7) has been in charge of their care from day one. He transferred them to the chicken tractor per my request a day too early as it turned out. Our mild April weather gave way to a cold snap and those 2 died in the 34 degree night. There is a heat lamp in there now. I hope to have eggs by fall. As of now we are spending $4 a week for fresh brown eggs from a lady that brings them in to the barber shop where Shawn works. It’s a blessing to have the eggs but I could do without spending the $4.

Just testing

Seeing if this whole bloggin' thang really works. I mean of course it DOES but the question remains, can I get it to work for me!