My Gypsy Soul

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Contentment is a word that I have always addressed with slight apprehension.  I feared the delicate boundaries shared by contentment and complacency.

Even as a young child, I was kept awake at night with the whispers of fear that I would awake one day, significantly aged, and look back at my life with intense regret of making choices I was supposed to make, instead of those I desired to make.

Over the last 29 years, these whispers have somewhat guided my path, and for that, I am forever grateful.

I have always had a gypsy soul, my wild, red curls seem to sometimes reflect the essence of this, as they tend to go and do as they please.  Even though my passionate spirit has led me on ferocious adventures, I am positive, I have never let a significant amount of time pass without following the path that felt right to me.

This journey has not been an easy one.  There were times I disappointed and hurt loved ones for choosing to turn in a direction that they did not agree with.  Although these choices were desperately hard to make, I choose to live my life with no regrets.

I have been infinitely blessed with family and friends to hold my hand, and sometimes drag me, when I needed it the most.

Over the last year, I have felt my gypsy soul settle in a bit.  I have felt a conscious release of the unsettled ache in my bones I have felt for so long.  This is the first time in my life I have felt utterly complete and content.

From walking around the Chicken Palace to listening to the quiet grazing of the goats, my gypsy soul looks around slowly and I feel no desire to uproot and find a new path.

I am exactly who I am supposed to be, where I am supposed to be and with who I am supposed to be.  It is one of the most incredible experiences I have had so far.

Do you feel this same contentment in your life?

Until next time…

FINALSIGNOFF

Concluding Year 28

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It has been a good week. I have worked hard in the ER all week, and we were still able to get things done around the homestead.

We added a dust bath to the Chicken Palace to help keep pests off the girls.  We combined Diatomaceous Earth and dirt in a dish tub.  We buried this slightly so it wouldn’t tip over when the girls hopped up on the side.  Dust bathing is super important for chickens, it helps them fight off pests that live on their skin.

dustbathe

We also added grit, which helps them digest food in their crop, and oyster shell, since the girls are only 6 weeks away from laying age!

Our garden is producing literally hundreds of tomatoes, I have never seen so many tomatoes on a plant before.  It is like a tomato jungle in our raised bed garden.

tomatoe

Oliver and I spent some quality time together this week.

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However, shortly after, Oliver ate my entire kiwiberry plant I have been nurturing for months, and I almost turned him into kiwiberry flavored bacon.  Luckily for him, I think he is pretty cute.

Poor Sawyer got terribly sick this week with the 100 degree weather, but with some extra care, a fan and a big bottle of ice water to lay up against, he turned around in a few days.

goatpeek

Neil and I are working on an exciting new feature to add to Homestead Redhead, and I can’t wait to share it with you.  It is going to be super fun!

On Monday, I officially begin my last year in my twenties.  Getting older can be a tough pill to swallow, but after some deep reflection, I am choosing to have a positive attitude.  I am in such a fantastic place in my life, I have an amazing homestead, family, friends and partner. I literally could not ask for a more blessed life.  I can’t wait to see what the coming year will bring, bring it on 29!

Until next time…

FINALSIGNOFF

Shift Work Perks

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Last week was my first week at my travel assignment and it went great.  The drive isn’t too bad at all and everyone has been super friendly.  It feels so good to be back starting IVs, managing critical patients and back on night shift.  With days off during the week it is so much easier to keep up with things around the homestead.  I don’t know how people who work Monday through Friday manage to stay on top of their to do lists-I definitely have a greater respect for you folks!

With more time at home, I was able to whip up a batch of laundry detergent.

laundry soap

Haven’t ever made a batch? It is super easy and saves a ton of money.  There are plenty of recipes out there, here is one of my favorites liquid laundry soap recipe.  If you prefer powder, just add one cup borax, one cup washing soda and grate one bar of soap.  Mix well, you can use a food processor for a finer powder, and use 2-3 tbsp per load.  This recipe makes enough for around 30 loads.

The garden has had quite a few challenges this season, but what has survived is doing great.  The tomato plants that survived are flourishing.  We are going to be knee deep in fresh, delicious tomatoes in a few weeks! Our cherry tomato plants have more green tomatoes on them than we can count.

tomatoes

The potato box is growing out of control, I can’t wait to see what is growing underneath the soil.  We added another layer of wood to the box this week.  Look at these pretty little potato flowers.

potato flower

Our cucumber vines are starting to climb and are full of yellow flowers and mini cucumbers.  We are so excited to make homemade pickles.

cucumbervine

The girls are thoroughly enjoying their Chicken Palace.  We used closet rods in their palace as roosts.  These help with entertainment and keep the girls cool since the breeze can get to their bellies.

chk roosts

After a year of having her, Rosie finally learned how to go up and down ramps, and she loves being up in the chicken coop, watching everything from her perch.

rabbitqueen

Our kiwi-berry vine is continuing to grow, I am so interested to taste those little mini kiwis in a year or two.

kiwi vine

I can’t believe the second week of June is already here, time just seems to fly by.  I take every opportunity I can to memorize the way Neil’s eyes crinkle when he is smiling at me, the chaotic combustion of laughter and little voices of my nieces and nephews, every corner of our little homestead and the diverse creatures that live there; I don’t want to forget a single thing about this season of life.

Until next time…

FINALSIGNOFF

Be Careful What You Wish For

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Homesteading is a living, flowing entity whose challenges and joys ebb and flow.

flowerquote

Spending time, sweat and your hard earned money on planting a garden is one of the most rewarding experiences there is.  The hours spent researching, watering, fertilizing, harvesting and observing your crops are usually well rewarded.  However, Mother Nature is a moody force and she rarely cooperates with your desires.

It has been weeks without rain here in the heart of North Carolina.  The upper 80-90 degree days have been hard on the crops and animals.  Everyone has been hoping for a good rain to nourish the dry earth and wash away the dust.  Be careful what you wish for.

The sky opened up this afternoon and brought tremendous thunder and sky cracking lightening.  Along with the surround sound effects that only Mother Nature can bring came heavy, fast falling rain.

This happened to coincide with when I was doing my daily chores outside, so I became a very wet redhead.  The goats squeezed themselves as tight in the corner of their house as goatly possible.  The chickens took cover in their dry coop, all but one very upset Polish girl.  Apparently she is low on the chicken totem pole and was not allowed in-or she wasn’t smart enough to go under the very large portion of the Chicken Palace that has a fabulous metal roof.

I assisted her into the coop and almost stepped on poor old Rosie the Rabbit.  She was drenched and muddy and very unsuccessfully trying to stay dry-again, she must have missed the memo about the giant metal roof.  I lifted her up into the coop where everyone else was taking refuge-including her husband Raffi who left her in the rain!  He did win back some of his gentlemanliness (that’s a word right?) when he protected her from the hens who loudly protested her arrival in the coop.

After getting everyone situated, I headed to the garden where I was very upset to learn a tomato plant that was covered in soon to be ripe tomatoes, had fallen prey to fusarium oxysporum f. sp. radicis-lycopersici, aka fusarium crown rot.  (More info found HERE) This fungus is said to live in the soil for up to two years, which is not good news.  I am so hoping it does not spread to our other tomato plants.  I carefully removed the diseased plant and put it far away from the garden.  Anyone have any experience with this?

This has not been a great garden year for us, we will definitely have to put some thought into what can do better for next year.  At least the potato plants seem to be flourishing.  I guess I will be paying tribute to my Irish ancestors with all the potatoes I will be eating in a few months!

Until next time…

FINALSIGNOFF

Cool Treats for Hot Days

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This week brought our first big harvest of spinach, lettuce and two little cherry tomatoes.

lettuce

tomatocherry

Daisy and Sawyer have been doing a good job of killing our terrible backyard “grass”.  I am much happier with this option instead of spreading pesticides all over the homestead.  We moved their pen this week and they were thrilled with the change of scenery.

goatpen

With the ninety degree days this week, our Chicken Palace residents enjoyed some special treats this week to help keep them cool.

chickenwaterm

rabbitsbroc

I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!

Until next time…

FINALSIGNOFF

Bribing Goats & New Nursing Adventures

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Slowly, but surely the goats are becoming more accustomed to us.  They still have not gotten the hang of the electric fence-neither have Peanut, Lilly or Oliver who have been thoroughly traumatized by accidently touching the fence.  We now tie Sawyer and Daisy in the center of the electric fencing so they can’t reach the fencing, but can graze freely within the fence.

goat

Sweet feed has been the bribe that has worked the best so far, they are still not huge fans of us touching them, but will tolerate it with sweet feed bribery!

Sawyer has the sweetest freckles on his nose, and matching ones on his behind.  I refrained from posting a picture of a goat booty-no matter how cute I think it is!

freckles

Since our strawberry plants have mostly gone by, we removed them from the garden so they wouldn’t continue to take precious nutrients from our raised bed soil.  Since we like to utilize everything here on the homestead, we fed the strawberry plant to our Chicken Palace residents.  The rabbits and chickens sure enjoyed the remaining strawberries and leaves!

bunnyfeast

Our 100 pounds of potato box has been doing great, take a look at the box just one month after planting!

potatobox

 We will continue to add a board and dirt until the box is fairly tall.  This gives plenty of room for those delicious potatoes to do their thing underground.

Our blueberry patch has been productive even in this first year of planting.  Those deep blue berries are quite tasty.

blueberry

We even spotted an almost ripe tomato already.  Our little cherry tomato plant is covered in grape sized, green tomatoes.

tomato

Much to her dismay, Freyja got a bath this week.  She is such a curious little creature.  She spends every morning working out as hard as she can on her wheel.  Every morning like clockwork we can hear her running as fast as her little legs will carry her.

hedgehog

This week I ended my time as a pediatric office nurse-I will totally miss my girls there-and will be attending orientation at UNC for their new ER next week.  So excited to be a part of UNC and back in the ER.  My travel assignment (I’ll be doing that until the new UNC ER opens) starts in June, I am excited to meet new folks and a new patient population.

From our homestead to yours, have a restful and fun Memorial Day!

Until next time…

FINALSIGNOFF

Garden Progress & Fresh Organic Berries

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The garden has finally begun to turn around.  With some heavy organic blood meal fertilizer, the veggies have started to look much healthier.  Our garlic is growing like crazy.  Our peppers are still looking yellow and sad, any tips for growing hot peppers?

garden

Our tomatoes, most of them anyway, seem to be happy and are getting pleasantly burdened with big green tomatoes.

tomato

The sudden North Carolina heat wave hasn’t seemed to blitz our broccoli yet, so I am hoping that we will get a few lush heads still.

broccoli

We definitely have plans to expand our raised beds next year.  We both just love walking out every day and seeing the progress our garden is making.

Our 100 pound potato box has taken off like wildfire.  They seem to grow at least an inch every day.  We are getting ready to place another board around the potato box and hill the plants with fertile dirt again.

potato

Neil and I found an awesome certified organic strawberry patch (strawberries are on the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list for the most pesticides) in Cedar Grove, NC called Whitted Bowers Farm, check them out HERE.

They had three different types of strawberries, who knew?  One was the traditional berry, one type was mini and tasted like melon, and the other type was rough to the touch, but were the sweetest berries I have ever had in my life.

Neil and I spent the late morning bent over the seemingly endless rows of red, juicy berries and picked an entire bucket full.We gorged ourselves on the fresh berries the entire way home-so tasty!

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The strawberry season will be over soon-have you gone and picked your own yet?

Until next time…

FINALSIGNOFF