Homestead Challenge: Level-Toddler

I love reading homestead blogs and looking at all of the lovely pictures of people living such wholesome, meaningful lives. Life. Goals.

Seeing productive gardens that feed families inspires me to get out there and get dirt under my nails!

But in my garden, if you look just a little closer…you will find…

That the toddler fed my favourite hand cultivator to the dog. But it’s totally still usable πŸ˜‰


Meanwhile in the kitchen, I am getting my homestead groove on and cooking up a storm. It’s often in the kitchen that I feel like I am acing this homesteading gig. 

There is tomato sauce bubbling away on the stove, a couple of batches of biscuits cooling on the bench and I am using the blackened bananas to bake up my favourite banana cake recipe. Waste not want not, right! Only…

I keep tripping over because the toddler who never sleeps has decided this is the perfect time and place to take a nap πŸ˜€ To be fair, she is probably worn out from helping with the chores. Today she fed the chickens all by herself!

It’s just a shame she dug up my cauliflower seedlings to feed to them. But it’s not like she could feed them the layer mash. She spilt that all over the ground while trying to pour it into the watering can πŸ˜‚

On a positive note,  I do have half a dozen volunteer tomato plants coming up in the middle of winter thanks to her squishing green tomatoes all over the ground in her last attempt to feed the chooks πŸ˜‰

But maybe tomorrow will run a little smoother. We finally found her missing elephant. She just can’t sleep without her. It took me two days to find it…

Hiding in the onion drawer of the pantry. And the sad part is, I go into this drawer every.single.day and I didn’t notice her there. 
Because I’m just a little tired.

Because simple living is hard work.

Because life gets busy and we mamas are juggling a lot of plates in the air.
But it’s also fun and worthwhile. These crazy moments make me laugh. And I wouldn’t want life any other way πŸ’š
I’d love to hear about the challenges you face as a homesteading parent!

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A Quiet RevolutionΒ 

​”Personal transformation can and does have global effects. As we go, so goes the world, for the world is us. The revolution that will save the world is ultimately a personal one.” ~Marianne Williamson

We live in a world where homesteading, which is really just living much the way our grandparents would have, is a quietly revolutionary act. In a society ruled by corporations, this is one of the few ways we can take back control of our lives and reclaim responsibility for our future and for the future of the Earth.

Growing our own food is a way to say NO THANKS to corporate greed and control. No, I’m not ok with you forcing farmers into unsustainable practices whilst offering (forcing) them ridiculously low prices for their produce. Farming is a profession which should be respected, celebrated and supported. I do not wish to be party to your bullying tactics.

Growing our own food is a way to say NO THANKS to losing touch with seasonal living. Sorry, but I am not ok with eating out of season food that has been trucked in from out of state or worse still, shipped in from overseas. Those unnecessary food miles and the resulting pollution are not ok with me, thanks anyway. I would much rather wait patiently and truly enjoy the first magical strawberry of the season.

Growing our own food is a way to say NO THANKS, I’m not comfortable with large-scale monoculture practices and the subsequent chemical use. I would rather not ingest those pesticides if I can avoid it, and I’d prefer not to be responsible for degradation of our soil. Instead I will work to repair the soil on my small patch and feed my family food that barely needs rinsing.

Keeping animals for food, even if it’s just for eggs, is a way of saying NO THANKS, I am not ok with the factory farming industry and it’s unspeakably horrible treatment of animals (buying direct from one of the many wonderful, ethical farmers in this country can send the same message). I would rather watch my hens forage around my yard and gratefully accept the eggs they gift me in return.

Cooking from scratch is a way to say NO THANKS, I am not ok with accepting the highly processed and packaged foodlike items that are robbing us of our health. I would like to know what is in my food, know that it nourishes my children’s bodies. I can do without all of the unnecessary plastic that pollutes our planet.

NO THANKS, but I don’t want to accept a one size fits all life for myself or for my children’s education. I don’t want my clothes to be made from oil. I don’t want to rely on a factory to provide me with something so simple,  so everyday, as a dishcloth. I don’t want to pay for things I can do myself. I don’t want to live detached from the Earth I came from. 

Like a toddler I want to scream, “I can do it myself!”

Suburban homesteading is a way to take back control. Control of our spending, control of our health. Through growing, cooking and preserving our own food we can accept responsibility for ourselves and for our impact on the Earth. We can thumb our noses at the corporations that try to tell us how to live, from the clothes we wear to the water we drink. 

The problems of the world can seem insurmountable. We can feel lost, powerless and afraid. Or we can take back our power. 

Each person who plants a garden takes back some control and responsibility for themselves. Each person who plants a garden inspires a friend to do the same. Slowly, quietly, the revolution is spreading from one backyard to the next. 

Have you joined the suburban homesteading revolution?

Get started with these ideas for homesteading in the suburbs.

 

Homesteading- what is it?

You’ve heard me talk about it. Suburban homesteading. But what is it?

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If you get up in the morning and put on gumboots instead of slippers, you might just be a homesteader.

If you ready your kids for school and find yourselves sitting around the kitchen table ready to start your lessons, you might just be a homesteader.

If it’s time to put dinner on and you send the kids outside to collect what you need from the garden, you might just be a homesteader.

If the change in seasons means something to you beyond a change in wardrobe…
If a hole in a sweater means work not shopping…
If you keep animals but not just pets…
YOU MIGHT JUST BE A HOMESTEADER.

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Homesteading- it’s a bit of a buzzword. You’ve probably heard it more than once, even sussed out that it refers to living a more self-sufficient lifestyle. I’d wager you could even list off a half dozen or so activities you think it includes. And you wouldn’t be alone if you’re still a little…vague about the idea.

And that’s because homesteading is more than a location. More than a set of actions. It’s a lifestyle, but more importantly it’s a mindset. And that’s why homesteading can happen on a farm or in your suburban home. And it’s why anyone can do it!

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To be a homesteader all you need is the drive to become a more self-sufficient. That’s it! If you want to live more naturally, be less reliant on shops, save yourself some money, and become a maker not a buyer, then you’re set to be a homesteader!

And because this is a mindset change,Β  these pearls of wisdom may come in handy πŸ˜‰

“Use it up, wear it out. Make do or do without”

And

“It’s not about where your home is, it’s about where your head is”  ~Rhonda Hetzel

So- are you a homesteader?

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Our Simple Homestead Bloghop

Quick tip: starting a herb garden

Want to start a herb garden but not sure where to start?

When you have a recipe that calls for fresh herbs to be added, instead of paying $5 a bunch for some limp leaves, spend the $5 on a small plant to stick in a pot by the door or plant straight into your garden. $10 will get you a more established plant like this thyme I’ve planted today. I can snip of the handful of leaves I need and it will keep growing ready for next time.

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On today’s menu? Soup made with this fresh thyme, carrots from the garden and leftovers from yesterday’s rooster.

Take aim and fire!

I have recently discovered some people find it offensive for a suburban homesteading page to discuss despatching animals to feed your family. Trust facebook to bring out the ugly in people.

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It has me wondering though… are our followers not aware that we here at ‘Forage and Forge’ all about becoming as self-sufficient as we can on our little patch of suburbia OR do people not really know what suburban homesteading is? Maybe people believe we should strive for self-sufficient vegetarianism? Hmmmm

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So I have (of course) decided to write a series of blog posts explaining the how, what and why of suburban homesteading 😊 Which makes NOW the perfect time to ask any questions you have about this way of living.

Fire away!

A year on…

We’ve been here a year now.

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The garden has been mostly kind to us

We’ve been here a year and I now have a much better understanding of the small parcel of land we call home. I know where we get full sun and where the shadows fall. I know which areas flood and which drain well. I know which soil has rubble beneath the surface, and which is home to the worms.

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The old patch has been left to run wild at the end of summer

So we are planning to start a new vegie garden in a different location, and turn last years patch over to some dwarf fruit trees and herbs. This will be a major project with new fences, new pathways and all included, and will more than likely be a long and slow process.

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Planning in progress

I’m so excited. Planning is such great fun!

Summer in Season: Tomatoes

Here in sunny Queensland you can grow toms almost year round, but traditionally summer is the season for harvesting tomatoes. Even in Queensland they are at their best, and CHEAPEST, in the warmest months of the year. I’ve got one lot of plants just starting to fruit, and another variety of seeds all set to put in the ground…well as soon as I get my A into G and dig a new bed :-p I’m all for procrastinating in summer.
Ah, swimming and ciders on a hot day.

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While I’m patiently waiting for my fruit to be ready, and getting ridiculously excited at the appearance of these little green globes, I’m stocking up at the markets. $12 for just over 10kg of tomatoes! Bargain baby.

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But what on earth do you do with a glut of tomatoes? You get to bottling, of course! Here’s some ideas for preserving tomatoes. Why? To save money, reduce waste (no packaging waste here), and move that little bit closer to self-sufficiency. Plus it’s just plain fun. Seriously,Β  there are few things in life as satisfying as a well stocked pantry you’ve filled yourself.

So here’s a few ideas to try:

*Jars of whole tomatoes
Preserve jars of whole tomatoes to use in recipes which call for tinned tomatoes. A good use for Roma tomatoes.

*Jars of chopped tomatoes
As above, but this can save you time later if the recipe calls for chopped rather than whole toms.

*Tomato sauce
Sooooo much better than that salty, sugary mess that comes in a plastic squeeze bottle.

*Tomato paste
I hate buying tomato paste. Either you buy a jar and it goes mouldy before you can use it all (why are the jars so BIG?). Or you buy the individual sachets and have to throw away a foil wrapper or two every time you cook with paste. Plus homemade just tastes sooooo much better. Dehydrating and bottling paste is on tomorrow’s to-do list as well. Make sure to use big, juicy tomatoes for a decent yield.

*Passata
Bottle to use later for pasta sauces.

*Freeze
You can freeze whole tomatoes to use later in cooking. Personally I think this is best for cherry tomatoes.

*Pasta sauce
If you have a pressure canner (which I sadly do not), you can prepare pasta sauces WITH MEAT IN THEM and can to use later. This is not safe to do with a water bath, you must use a pressure canner for safety.

*Sundried tomatoes
Okay, okay. I cheat and use a dehydrator. Very basically, you dry your tomatoes and preserve in jars of oil. Perfect on a pizza, or on a plate of nibblies.

And just because I love you, here’s a post onΒ peeling tomatoes in bulkΒ to make life easier for you 😊

 

Those are my favourite ways of preserving tomatoes. Do you like to put away food for use later?

Weed tea

Sometimes my garden is growing lots of delicious,  nutritious food…

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And then sometimes it’s growing weeds. If I’m lucky it’s just a few and the chookies get a treat πŸ™‚

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But sometimes I have been lazy (so terribly lazy!). Times like this call for weed tea. Not the kind the aging hippy down the road drinks. The liquid gold kind. Weed tea FERTILISER πŸ˜‰

All of those nutrients the weeds have been stealing from your garden can easily be returned to their rightful place. All you need is a garbage bin with a lid, an old pillowcase, water and weeds. Lots of weeds!

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Step 1: pull out weeds and stuff them into your pillow case. Fill it right up and tie it off with a rubberband. This is your teabag.

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Step 2: put your teabag into your rubbish bin (henceforth known as your teapot) and cover with water. You may want to weigh it down with a large rock to keep the teabag submerged.

Step 3: this is the most important step. Put the lid on your teapot/bin TIGHT. This is going to stink in no time at all; you do NOT want it to spill.

Step 4: Now we wait.

Six weeks later all of the weeds will have drowned. Remove your teabag and empty it into your compost bin. Thise weeds are now dead so you can be sure they are not going to start growing in there. The watery sludge in the bottom of your teapot is your fertiliser. Give it a stir with a long stick. This is one designer scent you don’t want to be wearing.

(Come to think of it, you will want to be wearing gloves or using tongs -OR BOTH- when you remove the teabag).

Your homemade liquid fertiliser is strong so don’t apply it neat or you will burn your plants. Dilute it down 1 part weed tea to 10 parts water. Apply to the base of your plants in the morning. 

Voila!  The nuisance in your garden just saved you spending your hard earned cash on fertiliser. Organic and free! Bet you never thought you’d hear those two words together in a sentence :-p

Growing up

If you’ve ever had to do it,Β  you’ll probably have realised that growing up ain’t easy. In fact, I’m not 100% sure I’ve mastered it even now. But don’t despair; you’re not alone. Your beans know how you feel.

And not just your beans. Your peas, your cucumbers, your tomatoes – they all like a helping hand to grow up healthy instead of becoming a sprawled out mess on the ground. Of course around here we like to be pretty hands on in raising our babies. No expensive props from Bunnings. Oh no! It’s DIY all the way. Much like with our actual babies πŸ˜‰

So we made a trellis for our beans. The cucumbers are gamely trying to go along for the ride. And I wouldn’t be me if I hadn’t used recycled materials :-p

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Making a trellis is EASY. All you need is some old fence palings (or any timber lengths you’ve got hanging about), some screws, a couple of hinges,  chicken wire and staples.

The Mister used some old fences we bought from the tip shop a while back, just taken apart and de-nailed. He used 8 pieces: 4 long, 4 short. Long are about 6ft, short about 4ft. You want to use the screws to knock together two rectangular frames. So use two long pieces joined by two short pieces.

Once you’ve got your two frames you need to hinge them together at the top. Luckily we had some used hinges left over from pulling out the old kitchen. Waste not, want not! Prop up your frame and cover in chicken wire. It’s easiest if you just staple it on with a staple gun.

(Remember a while back i had to puppy-proof some fences? Well, he’s grown so I could take back the wire to reuse here).

Now position the trellis in your bean patch.

Done!

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The Mister is a thinker, so when he made the frames he put the bottom horizontal piece a few inches up from the bottom. This means we can wiggle the frame down into the soil to stop it blowing over in a storm. We’ve had a couple of doozys already and it’s held up no problems.

We made the frame only as wide as the bean patch, but you could make it wider if you have a larger patch. Personally, I would go with making two frames so that it doesn’t become unwieldly to move.

At the end of bean season the frame can be folded up and put away in the garden shed until next year. Or easily moved to another part of the garden to support its next crop.

We’ve decided to let the cucumbers have a bit more of a spirited upbringing. They are rambling across the ground between the potatoes and the beans. One plant is trying to tag along with the beans. Seems some one likes the comfort of boundaries.

Do you have any wayward children growing in your garden?