The Leaves Are Changing Colors & Things Are Busy on the Homestead

I figured I’ve been playing hard to get for long enough now, so let me update you on the homestead happenings over the last month and a half!

First of all, as you might have guessed, I will just be hitting the highlights and if you want to know more specifics on one topic or another, you know how to find us and ask!

Up first, we have our sheep barn build project! We finally got the concrete poured for the foundation and 2 foot high base wall around the middle of September while my Dad and Jed were visiting. During their visit, we got firewood moved and stacked for winter (there’s still plenty left that needs to be moved and stacked as well though… just need a place made for it all first), we ate some good food together, watched college football each Saturday, went to a few baby appointments, and got the initial construction on the barn up and running. Since their departure, Eddy has been working on that barn day and night… just kidding, he goes to bed when the sun goes down! But, it definitely feels like an around the clock project at this point. He has completed the frame for the first floor, laid the flooring down for the second floor, braced the building, and is currently in the process of setting posts and beams for the second floor before moving onto rafters and roofing (hopefully before his birthday next Friday)! He amazes me every single day with what he accomplishes flying solo! I help where I’m needed which means holding something in place for him while he climbs or nails or whatever, but for the most part, I’ve been hands off on this project because there is plenty of other things that need to get done around here before winter.

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In other exciting news, we got a new puppy! She’s a Blue Heeler or Australian Cattle Dog and her name is Olivia (aka Livie). She has been such an amazing puppy even with her high energy and occasional bad habit we are consistently trying to break (jumping up on you and being mouthy when she gets super excited). She is about 4 months old these days so she is still growing and learning and we have no doubt she will be a perfect puppy in no time! Besides her two bad habits that get the best of her when excitement takes over, she sleeps all night long in her kennel, walks great off and on leash, and only has tiny, excited tinkles in the cabin or truck but has never had a true potty accident ever. She is slowly but surely learning to work the sheep and the commands that go along with that… and Tripp doesn’t seem to mind her much these days, although I have no doubt he wishes she would take more naps so that he could have peace and quiet at all hours of the day again.

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We have had a couple nights that got down to freezing temps over the last week or two so everything that lives above ground in the garden has been harvested and I am in the process of storing things accordingly OR processing, cooking, and canning the things that need to be looked to sooner rather than later. My cabin is littered with cookie sheets of drying beans, shelves of drying corn, and countertops full of tomatoes, melons, and other goodies. It sure is a lot of hard to work to harvest and process everything, but it will all get done in good time!

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Speaking of kitchen things, we got our brand new stove in and got that set up in the kitchen while my dad and Jed were here visiting. We had to use our critical thinking skills to get the stove pipe to line up just right, but alas, it did get done. We have burned several fires in the stove over the last couple of weeks to keep the chill out of the cabin at night… and I am SO HAPPY to report that we just load up the firebox before bed, damp it down to simmer, and the coals are still hot and ready to be fired back up when Eddy gets up to start the coffee in the morning… it is basically a dream come true for us! We aren’t used to this sort of luxury but I think we have adjusted well!

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We also got our snowmobile back recently and are under the impression that it runs like a champ again. The true test will be when we get out on the snow with it. Until then, we are just trusting that we will have a working snowmobile come winter time this year (that is, until Eddy gets rowdy again and breaks it… haha)!

And, not sure if you all care or not, but I got really tired of my super long, super tangled, rat’s nest of hair on my head, so I found a YouTube video to watch and then decided to chop all of my hair off myself. I am still shocked when people comment about how cute my hair is, but I will take all the compliments I can get because I’m pretty proud of myself! Usually spur of the moment decisions like that don’t turn out as good as you hoped, but when Eddy spent 15+ minutes trying to brush out a mammoth knot on top of my head one day, I said enough is enough!

 

As far as baby updates go, yesterday we went to our 31 week check up and had an ultrasound. Everything looks great and baby Emory/Emery is cruising along just fine. We have good growth (even though he/she is still a small baby… measuring in the 10th percentile), all of his/her organ function is looking perfect, and we FINALLY got a decent face photo… usually the baby’s face is covered by two hands and sometimes two feet as well. But, we are head down, doing happy baby breathing on screen, wiggling all 10 fingers, and kicking two little feet that have all 10 toes, showing off a full head of hair, sticking out our tongue and just staying nice and cozy inside mommy!

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I am also checking out really well too. I’m still sleeping through the night without having to take potty breaks and only having a night here or there that involves a little bit of heartburn… but luckily that has still always been remedied by sitting up for a few minutes and/or 1 or 2 Tums before drifting back off to sleep for the rest of the night. No swelling to report which is awesome and I passed my gestational diabetes test during my last visit. I feel great and even though I move slower and get out of breath easier, I still think I am pretty useful around the homestead for the time being! Hopefully that lasts until it’s time to pop out a baby!

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A couple of weeks ago, my friend Christen, threw me an online baby shower which took place on Facebook. It was such a fun time even though it would have been even more special to celebrate Baby E in person with all of my family and friends… but that’s what I get for moving across the country as far from everyone else as possible! HA! We played a lot of fun games all day long and I even went LIVE to share all of the baby goodies we have been getting in the mail! It’s amazing how many people were thoughtful and kind enough to shower Baby E with a gift or two. It meant the world to Eddy and I and we are extremely grateful to have family and friends as great as all of YOU!

We received everything from personalized onesies, to sleeping bags, to bath tubs, to changing pads, to breast feeding supplies, to lotions and other baby skin care items, to handmade blankies, to baby rockers, to milestone markers for photos, to little baby hats, socks, mittens, and more! I truly believe we got a little bit of everything which means that we only have a few bigger things we will need to purchase ourselves to finish prepping for Baby E.

As far as days off go, we took one recently (because it was a rainy day which means little work being done outside) and decided to pack up the pups and head across the border into Canada for a day at King’s Landing. KL is a living history attraction which takes you back to how life would have been in the 1830’s… and you all know that is right up there at the top of Eddy’s interests. We basically had the whole place to ourselves because of the weather but luckily it was just misty rain and not cold at all so it was perfectly fine for us! Eddy got 1 nail for his barn handmade by the blacksmith in town, we got to see the water wheel fired up and running all of the gears and machines in the old sawmill, and we had a nice lunch at The King’s Head in the village. It was a great day and we needed a little break from all of the hustle and bustle of Fall to-do’s around here.

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Our plans for wrapping up the Fall season around here include: finishing up this barn build and getting the sheep, chickens, and hay inside before the snow starts falling, finishing up the walls and floors in the cabin, finish canning or processing all of our garden harvest including apples that need to be collected from the trees around the property, AND prepping for a newborn baby which is now estimated to be arriving closer to Christmas perhaps (but, of course, who knows!). I’m sure we have several other things that need to get done before the snow starts to fly, but we blow ourselves away everyday thinking about how far we’ve come in just 1 year (oh yeah, we recently celebrated our 1 year anniversary here!) of being here. And no matter what we are able to accomplish before the snow begins to fall, we are in a MUCH better position this year than we were last year… and we always keep in mind that this is supposed to be fun, not stressful, so it’s all good around here and spirits are high! Here’s a few throwback photos to this time last year. ENJOY!

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Until next time folks!

XO,

Frankie, Eddy, Baby E, Pups, and Homestead Critters

Coming at You With All of The Updates Today!

Hi guys! Do I really need to keep apologizing for not holding up my “weekly blog post” end of the bargain? I doubt it… you guys just know me too well and I have a feeling I don’t have to beg too much for your forgiveness…

With that being said, I am going to break down our updates into a few categories so that you can bounce right to the topics you are interested in hearing about!

First up is ANIMALS because we have a few new faces on the homestead! How exciting!

Shortly after my last post, we acquired 6 sheep and 6 chickens from our local Amish friends. They have been such an incredible addition to the homestead and we couldn’t be happier with getting our 6 eggs a day like clockwork now and getting to see all of their adorable faces each and every day too. Keep in mind that even though we named the sheep (no-no #1) and are very loving and friendly with all the animals here (no-no #2), they are here for a purpose… a food purpose. For the time being, our chickens are just an egg source and the sheep are a source of love and face rubs (next Spring they will become a dairy source when they start lambing hopefully) BUT they will all one day be a meat source for us as well. Sorry to say it, but it’s true.

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The chickens are Rhode Island Reds so they are great egg layers (they are the same breed we had when we lived in Tennessee) and are a decent dual purpose chicken (egg & meat). The sheep are a mixture of Katahdin and Katahdin x Dorper crosses which means they are a decent dairy source, excellent meat source, and we don’t have to sheer them because they are a haired breed that naturally shed on their own. We decided to go with sheep instead of goats at this time just because sheep are docile, easy keepers, AND aren’t little escape artists like goats are notoriously known for being. We may think abut bringing on some goats at a later point, but for now, we are super happy with our little sheepie clan.

Now, like I said before, we did name the sheep so allow me to introduce them to you!

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From left to right: Deborah, Karen, Sunny Boy, Janet, JJ, & Linda

We have JJ (aka Jed Jr) who is our beautiful black ram and the sweetest of them all. He’s basically a big dog to be quite honest. He responds to his name being called and comes running up to you when you tell him to come. He has a Chewbacca-like bahh that makes me giggle every time I hear him.

Sunny Boy who got his name purely because he has a sunny personality and is a wether (castrated male sheep). He’s a big love bug too. We got lucky with some super sweet gentlemen in our sheepie clan!

The girls all got their names from the middle-aged white lady trend that has been all over social media lately.

Janet is the smallest of all of our girls and is by far he sweetest little thing EVER! She loves having her butt rubbed and will nibble on your finger if you give her the chance.

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Karen has the biggest, fluffiest butt of them all and is still a little skeptical of us. She will let you pet her for about 2 seconds before she decides she’s had enough and remains just out of arms reach for the rest of our visit.

Linda is even worse than Karen only allowing you to graze her with the tips of your fingers before getting the H-E-double hockey sticks out of arms reach. She is a beautiful girl but she does not like being touched much.

Deborah goes back and forth with wanting to be touched/petted and then acting like Karen & Linda. Her sweet little spotty nose and ankles are just the cutest. Besides Janet, she is our smallest girl and she’s the most vocal when she sees us walking around outside.

Earlier I mentioned that the sheep were easy keepers and not little escape artists but we have had a few mysteriously escape their fenced in areas. Although they escaped for whatever reason (be it a few greener blades of grass or something spooked them causing them to go over or under the electric fence), we haven’t had any trouble returning them to their fenced in area. A little grain and the comfort of being near their flock keep them close by and easy to manage.

The chickens turned out to be the biggest escape artists of them all at first but after getting their wings clipped, they have been happy little campers in their fencing and we haven’t had any issues with them at all. They are pretty sweet too letting us pet them and pick them up whenever we want to. We try to rotate the sheep and the chicken areas pretty regularly so that everyone has plenty to eat and to keep them occupied during the day.

Next up, let’s chat about updates to the HOMESTEAD itself!

Eddy was in charge of building a run-in for the sheep (to keep them shaded on hot days and sheltered from the wind on cooler days) and getting the solar powered electric fencing for them and the chickens. The fencing is portable which has been handy for moving animals around to greener grass. I am so stinking proud of Eddy’s run-in build though because it stood up perfectly to being dragged down the driveway when we did a big move for the sheep and it even held up during 2 different turns! When we first set out to move the run-in, I had a feeling it was going to collapse and crumble, but I was so happy to be proved wrong! Good job Eddy!

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We took one day a few weeks ago to clean out and do some organizing in the shed. It didn’t end up being perfectly cleaned and organized, but by the end of the day we were ale to walk through it with ease and it had one less wasp nest in there so we considered that a big win!

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In other big, exciting news, Eddy has dug a trench for a concrete footer for our sheep barn that we plan to have built before winter. The sheepies need a warm place to hang out of course and a simple three-sided run in just wasn’t going to cut it. We also put in a huge lumber order to a local Amish sawmill and have been spending a lot of our days loading, hauling, and unloading lumber for this barn build.

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Sometimes when we are out at the sawmill picking up our lumber, we get a chance to watch the Amish and horses work with the giant stacks of logs they keep on hand and turn it into custom sawed lumber. It’s really cool and I could sit there all day and watch the big beautiful draft horses work.

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We also recently bit the bullet and decided to place our order for cut, split, and delivered firewood (4 cords). We haven’t gotten around to processing our own lumber off of our property this summer and just came to the realization that we don’t have the time, energy, or resources to do that this year. In the future, that would be a nice thing to do each year but when it comes down to the cost of equipment upkeep (chainsaws, log splitters, etc.) vs time & energy, it’s a no-brainer to just have someone else do it for us each year. So, who knows, that may be how we do it anyway going forward. It’s all still to be determined.

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We did see several people use some homemade pallet organizers to stack and organize firewood so we stole the idea and made some for ourselves. The pallets were all free ones that we acquired here and there and each organizer is simply three 4×4 pallets with 2 braces on the front and 2 on the back. It was a super simple construct and just makes the stacks look and feel so much prettier! (Heck… anything is better than the frozen, tarped pile in front of the cabin we had last year. RIGHT!)

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We are also currently in the process of building a covered lean-to on the far side of the cabin where we can stack more firewood and park the ATV or whatever this winter. It will also be a nice place for little Trippy to potty and not get lost in the snow too! We have the frame built and the rafters in place. Now, all we need to do is put up the perlins, order and put up the metal roofing, AND put some siding on the far wall of it and then BAM… all done!

Speaking of firewood, we are also about to go pick up our brand new wood stove tomorrow! We decided that the old Glenwood C stove is going to serve as the stove for our summer kitchen in the future and we are going to have a Baker’s Choice stove in the cabin. The big reasoning behind this decision is that the new stove is more air tight and efficient than our 100 year old Glenwood which means we won’t have to feed the stove with firewood every 1-1.5 hours all day and night to keep things warm around here. That means that the only thing keeping us up at night in the foreseeable future will just be a newborn!

Moving onto a quick GARDEN update!

The gardens are looking good! We still aren’t having much luck with our peppers (not counting the bell peppers which have started coming in recently), broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale, and brussel sprouts. BUT we are having a lot of good luck with the things we have been harvesting daily like lettuce for salads (we have some romaine types and iceberg types), tomatoes (which are starting to ripen more and more), green beans, squash, zucchini, potatoes, carrots, and sugar snap peas.

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The corn is looking so tall and beautiful these days and I might be the most excited about all of our pumpkins and watermelons which are looking so big and beautiful too! We’re also finally starting to get some cucumbers in the garden which is pretty cool!

Our only garden issues we’ve had to date is the one groundhog that we took care of at the beginning of the gardening season, a bout of Colorado Potato Beetles which started eating the foliage on our potato plants (but we’ve got those under control now), and, of course, the dreaded weeds! Otherwise, we are just taking our garden experience day by day and making notes for how to be better next year. Until then, we have been LOVING eating all of our own homegrown stuff these days.

This is a great time to switch to the topic of WHAT WE’VE BEEN MAKING on the homestead lately!

I officially have some canning under my belt this year which really feels good. I haven’t dived into pressure canning yet only because I planned on canning green beans but we’ve been eating them all pretty regularly so there’s never a big enough pile to work with to make it worth while just yet. I have however canned wild choke cherry jelly made from choke cherries picked from our own front yard, some raspberry jam (again made with raspberries picked in our own front yard), and I have 2 types of dill pickles I’m working with at this point. One batch is a quick dill pickle recipe that I need to make a bigger batch of since we really liked those (on the to-do list today) and I have another batch that is still fermenting. Once those reach the flavor point we like, I will get to work canning those.  It’s definitely been fun trying new things and recipes. We got our pickle cucumbers from some of our Amish friends and plan on trying a third pickle recipe for sweet pickles that Eddy used to make with his mom and grandmother. We finally got all of the ingredients for that recipe so that’s on the agenda to do asap as well.

Ok… let’s chat about what we’ve been doing for FUN lately and then we’ll move onto my favorite topic these days to wrap up this post!

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Eddy and I celebrated our 9 year wedding anniversary at the end of July by taking Eddy to get a routine colonoscopy done (hahaa!) and then had a pretty typical date night with a homemade steak and potato dinner and a movie! It was kind of funny and perfect. We also got to hang out with friends one night while they were canning beets (which was pretty helpful since I got to watch an experienced canner use her pressure canner) and we all had a pretty great dinner to go along with the tutorial which was awesome!

One of my favorite experiences was by far the Country Music Jam Night recommended to us by a couple different people. Low and behold, nobody mentioned that the band was the Senior Citizen Music Group and that besides Eddy and I, the youngest person attending jam night was probably about 80 years old. Kind of joking but kind of not. It was so funny but we danced, ate a couple burgers, and listened to some good classic country music.

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We also participated in a few events that took place recently during the Patten Pioneer Days which is a week long festival filled with all sorts of smaller events. We went to a horseshoe tournament, a book fair, a big BBQ (accompanied by our friend Darrell), and there were several other things we had on our list to go check out but never made it to. I feel like it will be even more fun with a child in the future because they had a lots of kids activities on the roster throughout the week.

Eddy and I have also been working on studying herbalism via a free mini course we signed up for online this month. We have already learned so much about using herbs medicinally AND it has been so much fun exploring the property and finding out that we have so many of these herbs on hand right in our own front yard! Our front porch is starting to look like a good old fashioned apothecary with all of Eddy’s collections hanging out to the dry.

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And, last but not least, let’s talk BABY stuff!

I am currently 24.5 weeks pregnant and still loving every second of it. Baby Emory/Emery is a little wiggle worm and Eddy finally got to feel him/her kick the other day. I have been feeling great and only had a few bouts of heartburn, but thanks to my veterinarian’s advice, I no longer lay in bed and eat which has basically cured the heartburn. Otherwise, I just feel like I have to pee every 5 minutes (and God forbid I sneeze… because then I don’t have a choice whether I need to pee or not hahaa!!). I still do plenty of work around the homestead but I take it easy for the most part and only help with heavy lifting, etc. if Eddy seems to be struggling doing something on his own.20190823_063500-01-01.jpeg

Up to this point, I’ve gained about 20 lbs which has been great according to my doctors. I hung around 10 lbs for a long time and at my most recent appointment shot up another 10 lbs. I don’t seem to have any stretch marks to date and really haven’t been doing anything to prevent them on a regular basis so it must really have something to do with genetics like everyone has been telling me lately.  I’m still sleeping like a rock and only waking up to roll over from side to side which was my norm before pregnancy too.

I haven’t really had any particular cravings throughout this pregnancy but I do enjoy a bowl of cereal from time to time (chocolate peanut butter cheerios, cookie crisp, captain crunch, etc) and that’s not something I typically keep on hand or eat ever. Otherwise I have had a pretty normal appetite for veggies, fruit, pasta, yogurt, and my typical eats.

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At 20 weeks we had our big anatomy scan ultrasound! It was so much fun seeing little wiggling fingers and legs kicking out here and there. We also got to see great shots of a healthy spine, heart, nose and upper lip, kidneys, and just an all around good looking little babe! The technician told us when to turn our heads so she could check the gender and make sure that anatomy looked normal and healthy too. I was so scared that she was going to slip up and say something like, “Oh look, he’s waving at you!” or, “Wow! She finally turned over so we can get this picture now.” or something like that BUT she was an excellent technician and never slipped up. Thank goodness because I am definitely looking forward to the big surprise on his/her birthday!

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And speaking of birthdays, Eddy and I finally sourced and met with a local doctor who specializes in homebirths in this area. We had somewhat given up on the idea of a homebirth that we had our hearts set on for a long time before pregnancy and at the beginning of this pregnancy but nobody could recommend a good source for this which was a huge bummer. We had pretty much decided that a natural hospital birth was going to be the best bet for us until we met with this doctor here in Patten. She made us feel so comfortable and was so much more informative than any doctor we had met with thus far so it was a no-brainer for us to decide in that meeting that we wanted to move forward with a homebirth plan as long as everything keeps progressing normally and healthy throughout this pregnancy!

We are definitely not burning any bridges though and have decided to keep our appointments with the OBGYN down in Bangor and even tour the hospital which will all be our Plan B should us or our doctor up here decide at any point that homebrth isn’t the best option anymore.

It just seems to us that a homebirth is going to be the calmest, most flexible option AND we don’t have to worry about driving an hour and a half one way to get to the hospital and then back home again if we don’t have to (and who knows what kind of weather we will be dealing with in December). Our homebirth doctor provides all the same services that a hospital would, just in the comfort of our own home and she provides all of the clean up and assistance that we need before, during, and after.

We have always wanted to try the most natural birth possible without any intervention (unless it’s absolutely needed for health reasons) and it was really enlightening to learn the correlating numbers between epidurals and c-sections and general birthing complications when you are so out of touch with your body and the experience of giving birth. People may think we are acting like hippie nuts but it just totally makes sense to us to be as connected to the experience as possible despite the pain and everything that comes with that.

The homebirth doctor told us that she cherry picks her patients based on some strict guidelines that she has set for who she decides to work with based on the health and mental state of the patient… and she is convinced that Eddy and I are a great fit. She also told us that she will be the first to recommend a hospital birth should the need arise… with all that being said, we are so happy going forward to have this option that we wanted from the get-go!

In other baby news, we have been getting some of the cutest gifts in the mail lately. I can’t wait to share all of them in a separate post after my online baby shower at the end of September. I can’t believe how lucky we are to have so many people that want to celebrate this baby with us AND who already love Emory/Emery too! It feels so good! Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who has thought of us and been kind enough to send us sweet baby things during this incredibly special times in our lives. You are all the BEST!

Until next time!

XO,

Francesca, Eddy, Tripp, Baby E, and all the homestead critters

 

 

Summertime On The Homestead

These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity ranging from pregnancy check-ups to hosting visitors to hanging with the Amish to working on one project after another. It’s been a lot to keep up with but somehow we manage!

In regards to baby Collins, we had our 16 week check up exactly 3 weeks ago and everything looked great! Baby’s heart rate has been holding steady between 150-160, and again, we only got to hear the heart beat on the doppler at the last visit… BUT in 1 week we go in for our 20 week anatomy ultrasound which is the big one that will show us anything and everything (except gender of course!) and we do get to bring home lots of pictures, so I will be sure to share those here if any of you are interested in seeing them!

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I recently had my first prenatal massage and it was heavenly. I have always been a fan of massage, but this lady had magic hands and paid special attention to my face and head which I think is entirely underrated in the massage world. There aren’t many things that feel better than someone massaging your face/head! By the way, I go in for my next massage on August 6th and definitely plan to make it a once monthly self-care must!

In other baby news, Eddy and I are 99.9% sure we have decided on both a girl and a boy name… if Baby C is a girl, she will be named Emery Blake Collins, and a boy will be named Emory Blake Collins. The name Emory comes from Eddy’s maternal grandfather who he was very close with and we decided we liked that name almost right off the bat for a boy and a variation of that for a girl AND THEN the middle name Blake was a suggestion made by Eddy’s oldest daughter Megan. She figured we could use it for both a boy or a girl and we felt the same… AND we love it! And this way, both Eddy and the Baby will have the same initials which is a fun coincidence!

And last but not least on the baby front, a good friend of mine from Tennessee has offered to throw me an online baby shower which is just the sweetest! I didn’t expect to really have a baby shower just because I live so far away from all of my family and friends and they are so spread out across the States… but Christen decided she was going to make it happen anyway! So, I broke down and finally created a baby wish list/registry which you can find at linktr.ee/babycollinsregistry if you would like to send mommy/daddy/or baby a gift!

OK, next up is cabin projects! We finally got the kitchen shelving and countertops installed and the faux ship lap walls are all up around the kitchen and back behind where the stove sits. While we had out most recent visitors here, we moved the old Glenwood C cook stove out of the cabin and currently have it tarped near the side of the cabin. It will eventually be used for an outdoor Summer kitchen when that time comes and we ordered a newer cook stove called The Baker’s Choice. It has a much bigger fire box which means we will be able to get plenty of sleep at night (minus us getting up with a newborn) without having to get up and add more wood to the fire every hour or two like we had to do last winter. It is also a more air tight and efficient stove which means baking and cooking will be much more convenient!

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Excuse the mess… we will organize and put stuff away as the sink gets plumbed and shelves go on the walls as well!

As far as outdoor projects go, Eddy and I staked out and started tilling up an area where we will build a sheep barn before winter. Eddy also rigged up a sheep transport cage out of cattle panels that fits right into the bed of our pickup truck so that we can go pick up our sheepies on Monday!

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A quick pic of our new ram!

Our gardens have been growing like crazy and every single day we get a few strawberries out of our strawberry patch that we get to share with each other. We have recently added 4 grape vines to our homestead and Eddy is excited to build an arbor within the next week or so for those guys. We got 3 marquette grape vines and 1 edelweiss grape vine and all 4 already have some baby grapes on them. Aside from what we’ve planted this season, we are starting to see lots of wild strawberries, wild raspberries, elderberries and of course apples galore growing and ripening all over the property which is super exciting!

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The hops are officially taller than I am!

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Tomatoes are flowering!
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Future salads!
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Potato flowers!
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Corn, pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers!
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Zucchini

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Beans are flowering too!
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Butternut squash!
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Watermelons!
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More peas!
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My sugar snap peas are the cutest!
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Meet Waldo! He’s our friendly strawberry patch guardian who keeps the strawberry eating slugs off our berries! Every time we take a walk through the patch we ask, “Where’s Waldo?” and hope he doesn’t pop out and scare us 🙂

One of the more interesting things we’ve done garden-wise lately is protecting all of Eddy’s hard work from a rogue groundhog we saw a few times hanging out near the garden. Groundhogs can ravage an entire garden in just 1 night so Eddy knew he had to get him ASAP before all his efforts were thwarted by said groundhog… so to make a long story short, Eddy and I tried groundhog stew for the very first time and Eddy has been practicing how to tan hides. The stew was ok but not something we really are dying to eat again so we may not be doing that anymore, BUT we also haven’t seen any more groundhogs roaming the plot areas since.

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Off the homestead, we did stop by to see an Amish barn raising which was very cool to see. There were little Amish worker bees all over the place and everyone was banging hammers on nails right by someone else’s head. It was a sight for sure. While we were there we lined up a ram that we are going to pick up on Monday as well from the brother-in-law of the guy we are getting our ewes and whether from.

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And as I mentioned before, we also had company for a week recently! Eddy’s brother Rob and his family came up and helped us out a bunch! We got a few projects finished up around the cabin and around the property, we had time to go fishing one day, have a rainy movie day one day, and it was fun to sit on the front porch each morning and drink coffee together!

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And before I wrap up this post, I want to give you all an update on Tripp. Some of you may already know and some may not, but about 2 weeks ago Eddy and I noticed a growth in Tripp’s mouth. After inspecting it at home, we both agreed that it looks like a cancerous growth. So, we scheduled an appointment with a veterinarian close by to get a second opinion and after both Eddy and the vet got a good look at it, they agreed that it is either a very early cancerous growth OR is just a place where he bit his cheek and now it’s inflamed. It’s just kind of hard to tell at this point. Whether it’s cancer or not, we probably won’t have it removed or poke at it for a biopsy because if it is cancer, it could cause it to spread and wreak havoc on his mouth SO we are hoping he has just bit his cheek and that’s that! We will definitely keep a close eye on it and most importantly, it is not causing him any trouble or discomfort. He is eating and drinking like a champ, wagging his tail, getting excited about his treats, and sleeping almost all day per usual.

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Well that pretty much sums up all the exciting news and progress we’ve been making on the homestead as of late. Thanks for playing catch up with us and I look forward to sharing some pictures of sheep, chickens, and produce soon!

XO,

Frankie, Eddy, Baby E, and Trippy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As The Gardens Grow!

My oh my, Eddy has been hard at work since I last blogged! He has spent day in and day out working in the gardens. We officially have 5 plots that he has mowed, tilled, raked, weeded, de-rocked, planted, mulched, fertilized, and it is definitely paying off!

Where have I been during all of this gardening business you ask? Well… I helped out a tiny bit here and there but I don’t have the stamina nor the patience to deal with the horrendous amounts of black flies, mosquitoes, ticks, deer flies, and horse flies like my main squeeze. I’m just not built as tough as Eddy is in that department… and I’m kinda ok with that! Ha! I can say for sure that I am looking forward to winter again just so I can go outside without the fear of getting eaten alive and scratching bug bites for days on end.

The ONLY upside of having bugs right now is the dark evenings and nights when we can look out the cabin windows and see all of the lightning bugs floating all around the cabin! There’s nothing like it!

Most of the photos I have to share in this post are mostly garden photos, so prepare yourself!

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Peppers, Tomatoes, Onions
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3 Types of Beans
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Strawberries!
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Pole Beans
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Garden A
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Cantaloupe
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Potatoes
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Corn
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Watermelon
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Corn
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Squash or Zucchini
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Beans
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Garden B
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Garden C
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Cascade Hops
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Fuggle Hops
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Strawberries

In other non-garden related news, Tripp was feeling a little yucky (no appetite, a couple vomiting episodes, and lots of #2 potty breaks outside) for a few days after we picked him up from boarding, but he’s back to his normal self again! It took me a couple days at least to muster up the energy to clean up the cabin after having guests and on the several rainy days we’ve had lately, we’ve been taking it easy around here (which is good for Eddy because he has the tendency to be a workaholic sometimes).

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Eddy’s dandelion wine that he started a couple weeks ago is looking good and is still fermenting like a champ AND in his spare time, he rigged us up a shower in the cabin! The shower has been somewhat of an experimental project so we can figure out what is going to work and what we need to adjust so that we can have our choice going forward of taking a bath or a shower.

Eddy (again, my little workaholic) has also been super busy mounting a solar panel and rigging up a couple batteries on the Mule so that he can ride down to the brooke and fill up our 65 gallon water tank to water the gardens.  He also came up with an idea that has worked pretty well so far to sink a few t-posts around that garden and then run 50lb fishing line around each plot to deter deer from getting in the garden. The idea is that they may brush up against the fishing line which feels strange for them and since they can’t really see it that well, they will most likely not try to jump over it because they aren’t sure how high it goes. Our only concern is that a moose might decide to plow right through it, but that hasn’t happened yet and we are keeping our fingers crossed that it doesn’t. We have yet to put up any sort of deterrence for smaller critters like rabbits and groundhogs.

We had some of our friends, Kent and Sherry, stop by Sunday morning which was a perfect morning for sitting on the front porch and drinking a cup of coffee. We chatted for a few hours and even discussed having Kent come by soon and dig a big hole behind our cabin so we can get to work on a root cellar. We also talked about smoothing out some bumpy areas on the driveway, bringing a few loads of gravel in for that too, and leveling out some areas in our clearing so that we can get to work on our sheep barn, chicken coop, and more!

We ran around to some Amish farms the other day to start scouting out potential sources for livestock and farm animals we want to start taking on soon. We found a great source and even picked out a few sheep that we plan to bring home mid-late July. We also have a female donkey lined up as a herd protector too. She is down near Bangor so we plan to stop by and check her out when we go down there this Friday for our 16 week baby appointment. We are still on the hunt for a rooster (we think we are going to get our hens from the same farm that we are getting our sheep from), a ram and wether for our sheep flock, a few meat rabbits, and one or two heeler pups to be our pets/working dogs out on the homestead!

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And to wrap up talk about homestead projects for this post, we’ve officially started putting up walls in the cabin! I am really loving how they look so far and we have been making really good progress on the kitchen area and the wall behind our cookstove. Next, I will keep working on the rest of the cabin walls while Eddy gets to work installing our kitchen cabinets, countertops, sink, and shelving.

For the walls, we are going for a faux shiplap look but much less expensive being that we are using 1/2 inch plywood cut into 8 inch planks. We are using a couple of quarters for our spacing and it’s just the perfect amount of space that the planks have a distinguished space between them but not so much that you can see studs or insulation in the cracks (unless you get up super close and really try to find something like that).

I can’t wait to see what it looks like when we are all done and the windows and door have trim around them, the kitchen is complete, AND we start decorating the walls with shelving, photos, and greenery! It will actually look like a home and I am super excited about that!

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Yesterday we ran a few errands before heading to Eddy’s doctors appointment in Houlton. He had a great consultation about getting his inguinal hernia repaired and because he won’t be able to lift anything heavy for 4-6 weeks after surgery, we are thinking we will hold off on that until late October or early November when our outdoor homestead chores start to really dwindle down… then it will be time to prep for BABY C’s arrival!

One of our errands yesterday was dropping off our snowmobile to be fixed so hopefully we can have that back up and running this winter. It will be nice to choose to snowshoe the driveway rather than HAVING to snowshoe the driveway. Ha!

And, like I said before, in just a couple of days we are heading South for our 16 week baby appointment. During the last visit we got to hear the baby’s heartbeat on the doppler but I believe this visit will include an ultrasound. If so, I will be sure to snap a few pictures to share with you next time. Overall I have been feeling great! No nausea or sickness. Just taking frequent naps and doing a lot of huffing, puffing, grunting, and groaning during my daily everything. Eddy points out how noisy I am all the time now and we have a good laugh about it. My clothes are starting to get tighter and I despise having anything cut across my stomach area. I either have to have really high waisted pants on or something I can scrunch down beneath my stomach.

In general, I feel like my bump looks more like I’ve eaten too many tacos, but it is exciting to watch it grow more and more everyday! I am extremely grateful that I feel as good as I do. I know I’m one of the lucky ones in that department!

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Until next time!

XO,

F, E, T, & BC

 

From Canada to Boston

This past week has been jam packed with travels and now we are taking this Saturday to play catch up on the homestead, relax, and blog!

Of course last Wednesday and Thursday were spent prepping for new cabin guests and being away from the homestead for most of the week. We basically got all of our seeds and transplants in the ground which felt really good. The morning before we left for Bangor, we found moose tracks through the garden and a little pepper plant that got kicked around but we managed to be put it back in place and it is currently growing well. On that note… next step is putting up a fence around the gardens!

Friday morning we woke up bright and early to finish up a few things before heading to Bangor for an OB appointment and a vet visit. My 13 week appointment went very well and we got nothing but good news!

The doctor was happy with how I looked (good color, no swelling), how I felt, and they used a doppler to find baby C’s heartbeat which was a strong, healthy 161! We went over all of our family’s health history and my bloodwork from the last visit and everything looked great!

Then it was off to Buffalo Wild Wings for a delicious lunch followed by a vet visit for Tripp so he could get his Rabies vaccine updated for his future trip to Canada and meet the staff for his future boarding stay while the rest of the gang headed South for a few days.

We spent the night in Bangor and the next day around lunchtime we picked up Megan and Paul from the airport!

That afternoon we went to a downtown pub for lunch, stopped by the 31 foot tall statue of Paul Bunyon, checked out the Hannibal Hamlin Death Couch in the public library, drove to Stephen King’s house where we bought some pink lemonade from a kid run lemonade stand in the neighborhood, and then walked around the Mount Hope Cemetery which was the inspiration and filming site for Stephen King’s Pet Semetery before heading North to the homestead!

The next day we explored the property and watched baseball all day. It was nice to just relax and lounge around with everyone all day long.

unday morning we woke up bright and early to cross the border and go explore Canada. Shortly after we crossed the border, we saw signs for the World’s Largest Axe and decided that was a must-see. Just down the road from the axe was The Big Axe Brewery so we stopped by and had a drink before hitting the road again.

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From the brewery, we took the scenic route along the river to King’s Landing which is like taking a step back in time! The actors definitely stayed in character the entire time and assured us that we were in the year 1845. Eddy was like a kid in a candy store looking at all the farming equipment, wood working tools, and just checking out how people lived back then!

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After King’s Landing we headed to Fredericton where we found a nice pub to sit outside, eat, drink, and watch Auburn baseball advance to the College World Series! We did walk around after lunch and see a few sites before heading back to our home Country!

The following morning we were off to explore Portland! Our trip included walking around Old Port, checking out some breweries, and eating some yummy eats!

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Wednesday morning we continued exploring Portland by visiting The Holy Donut for breakfast, They make all of their donuts with Maine grown potatoes and they did not disappoint! We got a 1/2 dozen that we each had a bite of. The flavors we got were Maine Blueberry, Honey Lavender, Bacon Cheddar, Dark Chocolate Sea Salt, Allen’s Coffee Brandy, and Pomegranate. Then we were off to the Portland Head Lighthouse and Shipyard Brewing Company. At the brewery, we all enjoyed a flight of beer (I had a flight of homemade sodas) and we played some cards while we waited for our train to Boston.

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Next, we were off to Boston for a couple of days! On the train, we sat in the cafe car and played Spades the entire 2.5 hours. Megan and I were on a team together… AKA the winning team! We kicked the boys’ butts! It was a proud moment for us for sure!

Once we got to Boston, we got a ride to our Airbnb and we got ready to head to Chinatown for some good Chinese food! We ordered way so much food that the wait staff had to extend the table for us. We couldn’t eat it all but it was so good and the leftovers last us the rest of the trip when we found ourselves to be a bit hungry at home. Then we walked around and explored Boston Commons and the Public Garden before splitting up so Eddy and I could head home to bed while Megan and Paul went to see a DJ appearance at a local bar.

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Our only full day in Boston was a rainy day but that didn’t stop us from walking the Freedom Trail and exploring downtown. Then our afternoon was spent touring Fenway Park where we got to go on top of the Green Monster. Then we went back to our Airbnb to dry off and warm up a bit before heading back to Fenway to see the Red Sox play the Texas Rangers. It was a goo game and we saw a lot of home runs hit. We even saw one home run hit over the Monster!

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The only thing we didn’t get a chance to do while we were in Boston was to walk around Berklee College of Music and see where Eddy went to school, used to live, and some places he would hang out at while he lived in Boston. BUT luckily, on our last ride back to the Airbnb, we were driving down Masachusetts Avenue and drove right past one of the buildings he used to live in! Our driver was kind enough to pull over so I could snap a quick picture of the building. It isn’t the best picture but it was still cool to see the building and know Eddy lived there while he attended Berklee!

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The next morning we all parted ways to the airport and train station to head back home to Maine and Louisiana. It was such a good vacation and so much fun to hang out with Megan and Paul! Our next visitors won’t be here for another 3 weeks so we have a lot of work to do before they get here!

Until next week!

XO,

Frankie, Eddy, Tripp, & Baby C

Playing Catch Up on The Homestead Blog

Hi Folks! Long time, no blog post!

I can’t believe I let almost 2 whole months go by without updating you all on the homestead happenings around here! My sincerest apologies ladies & gents!

Most of you might still be wondering if we have any snow on the ground and the answer to that is NO! All of the snow left us right around the end of April/early May… although we did have one more 3 inch snowfall left in us for May 14th but luckily it was warm enough that nothing stuck and the rest of the day was warm and full of sunshine!

Basically we are just going to run through the highlights of what’s been going on since the snow left us so prepare yourself for lots of photos and little explanations here and there. If you have any questions or want me to dive deeper into a certain topic, feel free to leave a comment and I will address it ASAP!

For those of who don’t already know the most exciting news already… we are expecting a tiny little homesteader to join us around December 13th! I am currently 12.5 weeks pregnant and we are looking forward to our next OB visit this Friday where we will get to see our little nugget and hear the heartbeat for the first time!

Besides a couple weeks of queasiness around week 6 and 7, I have felt great throughout this entire process so far! I am extremely grateful to not have had “morning sickness” consistently throughout the first trimester like I have known other expecting mommies to have… yikes! I am a pretty lucky gal and I know it!

In case anyone was wondering, Eddy and I are NOT finding out the gender before baby Collins gets here, which means we will all be surprised together as an early Christmas present!

In other news, we have been tidying up our front yard a bit since all of the pretty snow is no longer covering the mess of destroyed hoop houses, pallets galore, and cardboard boxes we weren’t able to get to before winter hit. AND we began working on our covered front porch!

Since the weather has really warmed up, we’ve seen a lot more animal action around the homestead including moose, deer, turkey, and even a few black bears!

Eddy also got our strawberries in the ground and fixed our solar wires so they are protected while running from the panels to the cabin. Before that they were just hanging out above ground and fending for themselves 😉 We also staked out and worked the ground a bit behind the cabin where we plan on putting our chicken coop and chicken run. Our future rabbits will also live in the coop once that’s finished!

On Saturday, May 18th, we attended the Amish Auction in Smyrna. It was an interesting day for sure! We basically spent the entire day there eating hamburgers and homemade ice cream while we watched just about anything you could think be auctioned off. They auctioned off food, tack, random farm-ish equipment, clothing, animals, and large farming equipment. I really enjoyed hanging out in the livestock barn with all the chickens, goats, pigs, cows, horses, rabbits, turkeys, and more!

Eddy did win a few things while we were there like a couple of stainless steel milk cans and 3 pieces of antique farming equipment meant to be pulled behind a horse.

Since the Auction, we wrapped up our covered porch build, set up Eddy’s hops trellis (which was no easy feat being that they are 14 feet tall), planted his hops plants, put a few potatoes and carrots in the ground, and have spent our evenings riding around in the mule and exploring the clearings on the property.

Eddy also started a batch of homemade dandelion wine which looks and smells so yummy!

Last, but not least, this past weekend we had our very first cabin guests and we couldn’t have asked for a better bunch! My mom, dad, grandpa, and nephew came to visit us and we had such a great time with them. We blew up a couple of air mattresses inside the cabin (yes we had enough room for that) and just had a big ol slumber party!

For a couple of day excursions, we visited the Lumberman’s museum in Patten which was very cool and we hopped across the border into Canada for a quick lunch and to get Cody’s passport stamped!

Otherwise, we watched baseball and softball in the cabin, ate a few meals, and accompanied Cody as he drove the mule up and down the driveway.

Over the next few days, we are planning to get a few more plants in the ground, tidy up the cabin, do some laundry, and get ready for an overnight trip to Bangor. While in Bangor, we have our next OB appointment, Tripp has an appointment to get his vaccines updated, AND we are picking up Megan and Paul from the airport for a super duper fun week full of day trips to Fredericton NB, Portland, and then a 2 day trip to Boston! We cannot wait!!

I promise not to leave you all hanging again for months at a time and will get back to a somewhat regular posting schedule again for the rest of the summer. Thanks for hanging in there with me and I hope you all are having a great day!

XO,

F, E, T, & Baby C

April Showers Are a Real Thing!

We have seen nothing but one rainy day after the next with just a hint of snowfall here and there when the temps get low enough. Besides wrapping up our first season of maple syrup production, we’ve had a pretty low-key, almost kind of boring week with lots of dish washing, some laundry, and just tidying up here and there in the cabin… oh and lots of movies and tv shows! Ha!

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Ok, so this week we finished up our maple syrup run and ended up getting 3.5 pints of finished syrup from 2 different batches that started out as about 25 gallons of sap. The first batch we finished off has a thinner consistency and was double filtered and the other batch is thick, very rich, and was only filtered once during the boiling process. We read that some people do it one way and other people do it the other way, so of course, we wanted to try both methods and see which one we liked better. So far, we have only tried the thicker, once filtered batch on a stack of sweet cream pancakes and we give it two thumbs up!

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Once we made it to the point of having the 3.5 pints of syrup, Eddy and I gazed upon the 30ish gallons of fresh sap we had sitting in front of us in buckets and kitchen pans and decided that we were happy with what we had! That meant we sadly dumped the rest of the sap out and called it quits on this particular project. At this point, we just don’t have a great set up and all the right equipment to see it through until the bitter end AND it was soooo time consuming. Not only did Eddy have to manage the fire all day long in the elements of the great outdoors (aka our front yard), but we were having to go out in the woods and collect firewood as we went because we didn’t have anything stocked up before we started boiling the sap.

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As far as our indoor seed starting projects go, Eddy transplanted all 36 of his tomato plants into larger cups/pots so they could spread their roots a little and start growing big and strong! All of our other plants are continuing to grow and are looking happy and healthy. We also received a few new seed packs from the tree section of the FedCo seed catalog that we ordered back in Feb. and those are our strawberries, 2 different kinds of hops for future brewing, and 3 different kinds of potatoes.

With all of these warmer temps and rain we’ve been having lately, we seen more and more snow melting around here every day. Hopefully soon, we will be able to get the UTV running up and down the driveway again. It does have 4 wheel drive and chains on the tires BUT the snow is still piled up so high in some spots that the UTV doesn’t have enough clearance in the center to maneuver through it just yet without getting stuck. Once we get to a point where we can use it regularly, we should have the green light to get started on all of our indoor and outdoor projects and builds that we need to get materials from town for. Some of those projects include things like finishing the inside of this cabin with walls and a ceiling, working on building a porch/greenhouse on the front of the cabin, start on a chicken coop/rabbit hutch area, a goat/sheep barn, a building for wood storage and processing, an outdoor/summer kitchen, a root cellar, a sugar shack for maple syrup next year, and all sorts of other stuff. The list gets longer and longer every time we talk about it!

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Other than that, we have several days of rain in our near future, so we will be planning, organizing, and talking shop inside the cabin while we wait out these April showers. Oh, and if you thought that a 2 hour chat with Eddy’s Mom last Friday morning was impressive, I just want you to know that this morning we talked to her for 2 hours and 40 minutes! Time just gets away from us when we chat with her and it seems like we never run out of things to talk about! Good times! I love the fact that Eddy has such a great relationship with his Mom like I do with my parents! It definitely makes life easier and much more enjoyable for sure!

Until next week!

XO,

Frankie, Eddy, and Tripp

 

 

Snow Days & Syrup Season Continued

This week has been full of snow days, rainy days, and sunshine. I saw this photo on Instagram recently and literally laughed out loud!

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Monday we had a full on snow day with the first snowflakes making their appearance around 8 AM and going strong until the wee hours of the following morning. You already know that means you could have found Eddy and I cuddled up in bed with our puppy all day watching movies, tv shows, and snacking on all sorts of yummy treats.

Tuesday we saw snow off and on all day long but that didn’t stop our seedlings from germinating or growing strong under their grow lights and staying cozy on their heat mats. Eddy’s celery sprouts are looking awesome (which is surprising to us since the last time we tried to grow celery was when we lived in Tennessee and we didn’t see ONE. SINGLE. SPROUT. EVER.). Did I mention last time that I have some radicchio sprouts coming in these days? If not, I DO! Plus, I am seeing my spinach and tomato green zebra seeds sprouting… along with the last to show up to the party, my basil sprouts!! Yipee!

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Wednesday was another on and off snow day for us but we were getting kind of tired of being lazy, so we made sure to get up and move around the cabin. While I washed dishes, worked out, and took a bath, Eddy piddled around with some indoor projects and research he had been meaning to catch up on PLUS he finished our taxes which was a big accomplishment!

Yesterday, we had a beautiful day full of temps in the 40’s-50’s and lots of sunshine so we headed outdoors to get a few things done. We started out with a fire underneath our sap boiling station so we could get that up and running for the day. We felt that we had boiled off enough water from the initial batch of sap to move onto the next steps in the syrup making process. We poured the 1st batch through a homemade filter (a colander lined with paper towels) into another boiling pot so we could do a second boil on the more concentrated sap. The filter did it’s job by removing some leftover trash (pine needles, dirt, maybe some ash from the fire if any, and other things that don’t belong in syrup), and some crystallized sugar pieces that we didn’t want to stay in the sap because it could affect the flavor. The second boil required us to get up to about 219°F which turned our concentrated sap into Maple Syrup. We did that but felt like our syrup was still too thin and watery, so we did our research and figured out we just needed to boil it until it reaches our desired consistency. Now, we aren’t expecting Aunt Jemima consistency because that isn’t real syrup (just a bunch of high fructose corn syrup), but we do expect it to be a bit thicker than the watery-like consistency we have now… although it does taste like some true Maple Syrup which is very promising!

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We let the syrup boil a bit this morning and have kept it on the stove to stay nice and hot while we cooked our coffee and made a big batch of chili, so once it cools down, we will check it out and see if we’re happy with it. Now… we may be doing this all wrong but it seems to be working ok for us so far, so we’ll just keep on keeping on!

Aside from working on our sap/syrup, we also stocked up the cabin on wood yesterday and went on a little day date to a local-ish (only because it’s about a 20 minute drive for us) pub and had a late lunch/early dinner. The food was really good and I was so happy that I didn’t have to do any dishes afterwards. We were both stuffed as we went to run a few errands in town before heading back home, but we made it!

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Today the forecast is calling for on and off rain, so we are munching on chili and planning to spend the rest of the day making some plans for when this snow melts along with relaxing in front of the tv while we binge watch our favorite tv show. We started out the day just right with coffee and a 2 hour phone call with Eddy’s mom. She’s just the BEST and we love her so much!

Until next week!

XO,

F, E, & T

Maple Syrup Season is Upon Us

We are definitely seeing more and more hints of Spring time around these parts. We’ve been getting lots of rain which has caused some serious snow melt and now we have more and more ground being exposed. Yay! Unfortunately, tomorrow’s forecast is predicting 7-11 inches of snow so… there’s that too.

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With all of this warmer weather, we have several trees that have been producing sap like crazy (like when we check the buckets daily, we are seeing 50-100% full buckets on 6 or more trees). With that being said, we finally got around to starting the boiling process yesterday and we have been able to make good headway on some of the sap we’ve collected already. Today we are back at it bright and early because there is plenty more where that came from. It will be interesting to see if we actually make maple syrup and have success being that this is our first attempt at it. Luckily we’ll have plenty more seasons to fine tune our process if it doesn’t turn out quite right this time!

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In other news, our brook looks like you could have a nice white water rafting trip on it and we’ve only been firing up our wood stove first thing in the morning these days. Because we only have a fire in the morning, we do the majority of our cooking then. That means we usually eat dinner for breakfast so that we can eat things like steak and garlic mashed potatoes when they are fresh and hot off the stove. Things like salads, tacos, cereal and milk, fruit, etc get eaten later on in the day.

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In regards to the wood stove and fire situation, we are running a little low on the hard wood we bought at the beginning of winter and are down to using the pieces that were cut too long for our fire box. We bought 15” pieces but ended up with 10-20% of our load being 16-21 inches long which has definitely been brought to the attention of the guy we bought it from. We’ve been using the chainsaw to cut those pieces down to size and then splitting them when needed. It’s all working out ok but we are looking forward to more warmer days because of it.

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The shed that we built in a hurry at the beginning of the winter season also needed a little face lift recently. We never actually finished the shed so the T-111 panels that make up the outer walls weren’t being held up by very many nails per panel so we had a few that were coming loose due to warping and wind… but we went around the whole building and fixed what we could get to.

Eddy showed off his electrician skills again this past weekend when we had a few cloudy, yucky days that got our batteries low on power. Because we had such a sunny day following those yucky days, we had a lot of power flowing in to recharge the batteries and the wire for the fuse connector that is technically only made for up to 30 amps got a bit hot when we were hitting 40-50 amps. We’ve had an issue with this particular fuse wire before which got so hot that it melted the fuse connector rather than blow the fuse. After trying to manage the wire temp for a while on that sunny day, Eddy decided to heck with it and just hardwired the control panel straight to the batteries. For all of you who have no idea what I just said… we don’t have to worry about wires or fuse connectors melting anymore because Eddy is an electrical genius! Ta-daaa!!

And, last but not least, we are seeing lots and lots of little sprouts all around the cabin lately! Not only do we have tomatoes, peppers, onions, etc coming in that Eddy started a couple weeks ago, but we are also seeing things that I started like lettuces, kale, spinach, radicchio, Indian mustard greens, and sprouting broccoli! We are still getting excited each and every morning we wake up to a new plant baby around here!

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Until next week guys!

XO,

Frankie, Eddy, & Tripp

P.S. notice how I didn’t talk about that basketball game last night… we’re still crying about it over here… wahhhhhh!!!

 

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like… Springtime?

The theme of this past week has been all about SEEDS and SAP! We have been having so much fun bringing a little bit of Springtime into our still somewhat wintery cabin.

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Last week Eddy started several varieties of seeds indoors and has them all arranged in their respective trays, on top of heat mats, under grow lights, and living well at the foot of our bed. We get so excited every morning we wake up and see new green sprouts and sprouts that are becoming toddler or teenager sprouts! Ha! Making their way onto our homestead already are 2 different types of onions, 3 different varieties of tomatoes, 4 kinds of peppers, lots of valerian, and 2 types of yarrow.

A couple of days ago, I took my turn at starting some seeds which include a few different lettuces plus some greens like kale and spinach, along with some random older seeds I’ve been hanging onto for a while. Those include things like basil, green zebra tomatoes, radicchio, Indian mustard, and sprouting broccoli. The lettuces and greens are all things we ordered this season but I got the other seeds a couple of years ago from a friend of mine doing a seed swap of sorts. It was really cool to get a package with surprise seeds in it and now it’s even more exciting because I’m actually giving them a chance to live a little!

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Not only have we been starting some veggies and other food stuffs indoors, according to the extended forecast (which usually isn’t accurate but I’m crossing my fingers this time around), it looks like we may get an earlier Spring than we thought! Typically, the last frost date is around May 23rd, but it seems like temps are on the rise, there is little to no snow in our future, and the rain and sunshine are continually melting all of our snowfall so we may be able to get to work outside sooner rather than later! YAY!

All of this warmer weather has also been lucky for us because a month or so ago, we were taking inventory of our wood stocks, and realized that we are looking kind of low. Now, we haven’t run out by any means, but we have been very conscientious about when and how we are utilizing our wood these days. Because we’ve been having warmer nights, we’ve been able to run a small propane heater inside (don’t worry everyone, it has a built in CO² detector with auto shut off capabilities, plus we have another CO² detector in the cabin, and this cabin is by no means air tight so we are pretty safe in regards to running a propane heater in the cabin) and are able to keep our indoor temps between 60 and 70 degrees which is PERFECT for us! Every morning we do have a fire so we can make coffee and cook a meal of two to eat later on in the day if desired. Overall, it’s a pretty good system we have going on and it helps us keep some good, seasoned, hard wood on hand till the bitter end of winter!

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Again… in stories related to the recent warmer weather… we have collected about 4-5 gallons of maple sap from our 15 buckets and taps around our clearing. It’s definitely been a fun going on a short adventure/hike around our clearing each morning to check the buckets and empty the ones that have a little sap in them. Some days we have found sap in every bucket, and other days we might find sap in only 2-4 buckets. I guess it all just depends on the weather each day!

Once we get enough sap to make it worthwhile, we’ll rig up an outdoor area to boil the sap and start the syrup making process! At this point, to help keep the sap happy while we keep on collecting, we are keeping it in a snow bank that used to house all of our frozen wood. Luckily we’ve used up all of that frozen wood (thank goodness we don’t have to chip off ice and let the wood dry out for 24 or more hours before we use it now!!) and now there is a perfect, shady, snowbank that we can use to keep things cool outdoors. We know we won’t get much syrup when it’s all said and done but it will be enough for us to enjoy the fruits of our labor and try our hand at something new!

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Besides rounding up sap and starting seeds, we’ve been spending a lot of our days watching college basketball and college baseball. Eddy and I are both doing pretty good in our 2 March Madness tournaments and are hoping for a BIG AUBURN WIN tonight against UNC so our brackets stay intact. I mean, are you even really a true Auburn fan if you don’t have them winning it all in your bracket?

Eddy says, “No, you’re not. Quit pretending.” Seems pretty plain and simple… and straight to the point! Ha! War Eagle!

And, for those of you that are wondering if we ever got our State Inspection done on the truck so we could be a couple of legal Beagles… we got it all taken care of yesterday and all it cost us was about 10 minutes of our time and $12.50 at the local auto shop. Hope this means no more “stops” at the Redemption Center that include not being able to find ANY of our legal paperwork! Hahaa!

That pretty much wraps up all of the happenings around here over the past week… Are you proud of me for getting this blog post out today and not 2 or 3 weeks from now? Good!

Love to all of you and thanks for following along on our homesteading adventures!

Until next week!

XO

Frankie, Eddy, and Tripp