Everything Spring!

Spring came on early and way too hot. It was crazy hot for a while being 85-90 degrees in mid May. This creates a bit of Spring Drama, with young plantings withering from the Sun, and well, me too, that is…withering from the Sun! It becomes hard to acclimate to, when it hits this early. Stormy season has begun, and with each storm I think, maybe this one will cool things off. Well the picture below was the one that did it. We got a couple of cool planting days after this storm!

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chives

I learned that chives buds can be fermented, so I had to try!

chive bud ferment

They can be used in a relish tray or with a Martini, darn I need to learn to like Martinis!

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Once the chive blossoms open they can be steeped in rice wine vinegar to add to a salad dressing, this turned out to be wonderful!

rhubarb

My rhubarb plants have grown to almost be enough for our needs, I still added some from Grandma’s plants though so I would have some extra.

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I liked this new rhubarb jam recipe because it doesn’t require any added pectin! So easy to make and really delicious. I might make one more batch! In my quest to learn from last year, I will freeze just a little rhubarb, I froze a lot more last year and I think Jam is a better use for it. Each year, I am trying to learn from last year!

catch of the day

What I found on my walk.

pbs and morels

…and more of what I found on my walk. Sadly it was a dismal Morel year for us, but we were happy for each one we found. The Pheasant Backs had a much better year, of course. Our Shiitakes are getting there, we should have a good flush soon, can’t wait!

I have been learning some new things, which I love. I have started learning about all the amazing wild plants we have and their medicinal values. This puts together my nursing instincts and background with my love of Wild Crafting and foraging. I practiced my first salve using these Dandelion flower tops. I dried them first a bit so they wouldn’t add moisture to my oil infusion. Then I heated the oil and let them saturate it, then I strained the olive oil that had the flowers in it and combined it with some beeswax, from the honey farm down the road. It is such nice beeswax with a bit of natural honey scent to it.

dandelion oil

 

melting local beeswax

Here is the beeswax melting.

process

I had extra beeswax so I made some candles as well. Shown below are the finished products.

product

My daughter gave me some dried Calendula flowers and so I made this salve as well. This was really fun, and I know I will want to do this more! I am starting to think about Holiday gift giving ideas!

fishing

Sometimes one must take some time to just sit, and so we did. All the fish we caught were too small:( The boat though was very relaxing, so goal achieved.

ginger beer

I am playing with fermented Ginger Beer these days. Trying to get it just right. The batch previous to this was better, so I am thinking I need to work on my Ginger Bug (my ginger starter). It is nice to be able to make a carbonated Summer drink like this.

There is only one more garden to be put in and it should be done this week. There is loads of mulching to do, but after that there is a bit of a lull, before produce starts needing processing. I am ready for a lull!

Sharing some things I have seen…

While this poster likely may be more for the SHTF Prepper world, I like the list. The one thing we have not attempted is to save our own seed. This year maybe? Working to become self sufficient? Yes, this is an ongoing process, and relates to the very title of my Blog,” Incrementally Stepping Towards Homesteading…because each step forward is one step closer”.

take control

These last few years have taught us a lot and has brought us so many steps closer to this goal. Three years ago we had a small garden, and a few Cattle. Now we have sold a calf, processed two cattle, and currently have 7 on the ground here as well as two piglets. Our garden has grown and is exponentially more productive, and we have 14 laying hens now. We have increased our fruit on the farm each year, and have freezers full of our fruits, veggies, beef, chicken and apple cider we made last Fall. We have more than enough eggs for ourselves and now are licensed for retail sales here on the farm for eggs, beef, chicken and pork. I’ve learned about the health benefits of fermentation, and have enjoyed creating with this newly learned skill.  We are also learning to be better foragers, although I want to get so much better at it! My foraging adventures have taken me to become interested in natural medications that are easily made, such as teas for colds and congestion, and salves for irritated skin. I am only just learning about this and there is so much to learn! Interestingly, I am reading The Clan of the Cave Bear and my plant research parallels the book as young Ayla learns about medicinal plants from the medicine women. It is all so very interesting and I am so excited for the things we have learned and will learn.

ww2 poster

About being more self sufficient… This is an interesting World War II poster, my own Mama remembers about planting victory gardens. The result of the victory gardens was that more than 20 million gardens were planted, with 9-10 million tons of food being produced, unfortunately when the war was over this initiative was no longer promoted and there was a shift to relying on the developing grocery stores and commercially made foods, instead of ourselves.

I can not stop myself from inserting this Joel Salatin quote…

hstead collect

Ok, (shown below) this really is the last poster, it hits home for us because whatever we can provide ourselves with, translates to needing less money to live on, which ultimately translates to us continuing to step towards self reliance, it is a simple way to live and it is a very powerful feeling to know how well we can take care of ourselves.

like printing your own

So, now I will hop off my soapbox and tell what’s up on our farm…

spring cows

The cattle are thrilled to be out on fresh green grass. The weather has been great, apart from a few too hot days, well too hot for me, anyhow!

first asapargus

Asparagus are poking up!

a morel

It’s so far not been a good Morel year, we are hoping from more, but the window is short for these.

spruce tips

This is a first. I read about dried Spruce tips. They are said to be a helpful for sore throats and colds, it can be made into a tea. It can also be made into a syrup, but I ended up drying all of these. They looked like this once they were dried. (see below)

dried spruce tips

Dried Spruce tips.

dandelion salve

This is Dandelions infusing in Olive oil, the oil gets mixed with coconut oil and beeswax to make a salve for irritated skin or sore muscles, Dandelion is supposed to have pain relieving qualities. I have never tried anything like this!

beeswax

This beeswax is from the honey farm down the road. It smells lightly of honey.

breakfast ingredients

Breakfast the other day… Pheasant Back mushrooms, chives, garlic mustard, day lily, watercress and hosta all sauteed in our rendered pork fat, with our eggs. Everything from the farm!

morels, p.b's and watercress

Wild mushrooms and watercress, yum!

kvass and strawberry yogurt

After making a strawberry fruit Kvass, I took the strawberries, now a rather light pink shade as most of the coloring went to the Kvass, and blended them in with the yogurt to make a yogurt drink, this gave the strawberries two uses. It is May and I am now officially out of blueberries, strawberries, peaches, and  what is left is applesauce, and lots of rhubarb. I could make the applesauce more interesting by mixing it with some rhubarb for an apple rhubarb sauce, and I could use the rest of the frozen rhubarb to make some rhubarb jam. We have plenty of rhubarb coming up right now, so I need to get that frozen stuff used up! Made the first Rhubarb Crisp of the year last week. We were lucky enough that when MIL and FIL came over for Mother’s Day they brought, what turned out to be, our second Rhubarb Crisp of the the year and of the week!

family shoot out

Finally it was time to take a break from productivity for a bit of fun on the weekend with family.