Monday, March 25, 2013

Cute and Handy Clothespin Holder

I love to hang my clothes out on the line to dry.  Most days are still, but on the days when I deal with a lot of wind, clothespins are a must.  

Yesterday I whipped up this handy clothespin holder using a pattern I found on

Very easy design!  I had it cut out and sewn in under a couple of hours.  I used a decorator weight cotton for the main part of the bag, and then made my own bias tape from a quilter's cotton.  I figured it needed some fancying up, so I added the ruffle.  Anything to make wash day more fun, huh?

It should hold about 100 clothespins.  I may need two bags...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Dear Homestead Journey, Where Have You Been?

I'm still here.  Over the last several weeks, our family has been through changes.

Without going into great detail, my dear in-laws have moved in with us.  Their addition to our household has brought joy and blessings to our family.  My children are such attentive servants, and they are being given the opportunity to learn a valuable character building lesson.  Their grandparents are leaving a mark on their little hearts that will stay with my children for their lifetime.

Almost three weeks ago, my sweet mother was diagnosed with lung cancer.  The news was shocking to us all.  I don't think I've ever cried so hard, nor have I questioned "why" so much.  My mother is one of the most healthy people I know.  She eats great, exercises, never smoked a day a day in her life and has never done anything harmful to her body.  I never imagined I would be going through this with her ever, especially at such a young age.  I trust the Lord and His healing.  I know my mom has been washed in an unexplainable peace that only God can give.  I praise the Lord that she is a Christian and, even though the diagnosis may look grim, she knows God has the power to heal and save and to give her long life.  I pray she will be with us here on the earth, for many years to come.

I believe she will be healed.  And I believe it is the Lord who has granted her peace and grace.  I know that through all of this, God will receive ALL the glory.

After battling a stomach bug that has lasted over two weeks, and dealing with the emotional roller coaster of my family members, I think I am finally ready to tackle life again.

If you think of us, pray for us.  My parents, my in-laws, and my family.

I promise this will be the beginning to posting here again.  I am grateful for all of my readers and those who are willing to stand in the gap for our family.


Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Sprouting Alfalfa Seeds

There is a lot of power packed in those tiny alfalfa sprouts.

I eat them on salads, veggie wraps, sandwiches, and my youngest daughter eats them alone.  By the tiny handfuls.

Alfalfa sprouts are a good source of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and Vitamin A.  They are rich in calcium potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus.  And they can help lower your risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and bone loss.

Plus, I think they taste great.

Alfalfa seeds are easy to sprout.  It typically takes five days until they're ready, so I keep about 3 jars on a rotating schedule, because we seem to run out pretty quick!

You can buy bulk alfalfa seeds from online seed companies and Mountain Rose Herb.  I purchase my seeds from Azure Standard.

I have this handy sprouting screen that I purchased through Azure Standard, but you can find one like it on Amazon and probably various other online sources.  You can also use a cheese cloth instead of the sprouting screen, but the screen is oh, so handy.  It fits right inside a wide mouth mason jar ring.

Day One:  Put one tablespoon of alfalfa seeds into a quart sized jar.  Cover with water and let soak for 4-8 hours.  Drain the water, then more than cover the seeds with water again, swish around and drain.  Don't turn the jar upside down to drain the water, otherwise, the seeds will stick to the screen.  Turn it on its side and slowly drain the water.  I like the seeds to stay on the side of the jar near the opening, but not to cover the opening.  I think they get plenty of air flow that way, and you won't have any trouble with the possibility of your seeds becoming moldy.  

Once the water is pretty well drained out, leave the jar on its side, or at a slight incline, with the mouth facing downward.

Day Two:  You can see the seeds are just beginning to sprout.  Put more water in the jar, swish around a bit, gently drain the water again, and set the jar on its side.

Day Three:  It's amazing how quickly these seeds sprout.  Fill the jar with a bit of water, gently swish and drain, leave the jar on its side.

Day Four:  You can eat the sprouts at this point, but I like to give mine one more day.  There are more greens on the fifth day.  Fill your jar with water to cover the sprouts, gently swish and drain, leave the jar on its side.

Day Five:  Ready to eat!  I remove the screen and replace it with a regular lid, and store the sprouts in the refrigerator.


Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Caring for Citrus Trees and Other Potted Plants

Here in the deep south, we have the luxury of growing citrus trees.  Occasionally, we do have a cold snap and have to worry with bringing the trees in, or covering them to keep them safe from frost and freeze, but most winters come and go without any extra cause for concern.  

As a precaution, I have raised my citrus trees in large pots.

If you grow any of your fruit trees or vegetables in pots, you may already know that the soil you plant them in will lose its nutrients quickly.  Maybe a few months, maybe a year, but with watering and and drainage holes, your important assets to feeding your plant is going to wash out of the bottom of your container.

That's why it is very important to keep up a feeding schedule for these plants.

I feed my citrus three times a year with a mixture called Citrus Tone.  I buy mine from my local nursery, but I think you can find it at Home Depot and Amazon as well.  It contains organic ingredients and makes it easy to add the proper mix of fertilizer to your trees.

I feed them once in late January when I first see blooms, and then I feed them again once I start seeing fruit (usually late spring), and then I feed them again in the late fall when the fruit is ripe or I've already harvested.  About a tablespoon sprinkled around the base of the plant seems to do the trick.

You will also know if it's time to feed them by yellowing of the leaves.  If you have a few leaves that are yellowish, you might need to give your tree an added boost of nutrients. 

Also, it's a good idea to cover the base of your tree with hay, straw, or some kind of mulch as potted plants dry out easily.

As your citrus tree matures and bears fruit, you will need to purchase or build a trellis to help bear the weight of the fruit.  My husband built this one out of a couple of 5ft stakes.  Shove the trellis into the soil as close to the edge of the inside of the pot as possible, so as not to hurt the root of the tree. You will then need to tie (with garden tape or twine) your heavy bearing  branches to the arms of the trellis.  Otherwise, the fruit will cause the branches of your young tree to break.

Right now is a great time to feed those citrus trees!

Monday, February 04, 2013

God Made A Farmer

This Dodge commercial was featured during the Superbowl last night.  I didn't watch the Superbowl, but the commercial circulated around Facebook many times over since it aired.  When I first watched it, I fell in love with it.  I even teared up.

But then I watched it again.  And again, and as much as the narrative was moving and powerful, the pictures were emotional for me in a completely different sense.

The first time I watched the commercial, I listened more than watched.  The second time, I showed it to my husband, asked him excitedly "Have you seen this?!!!" he said "Yes, and it's great, but it's not really our kind of farming...."  Ummmm.....what?  So I watched it again.

At the risk of sounding nit-picky...

The video totally glorified the industrial farmer.

Oh, how I wish instead of field after field and row after row of corn, they had instead chosen farm after farm of family raised produce, free-range eggs, greenhouses full of seedlings, farmers sitting at a stand inside a farmer's market selling their blood, sweat, and tears to the local community, instead of a farmer selling his soul to the government.

I had to that corn genetically modified?  Does this farmer know the environmental wound he has created by plowing down acres of land in it's natural state only to be regenerated by GM corn and soybean seeds, followed by an ample dousing of fertilizers and pesticides?  Does he realize the years of damage his soil has undergone?  Does he know his land is completely depleted of all of its natural minerals in order to accommodate his easygoing farming methods only to be supported by a government subsidy?

I fell for it.  My emotions were tugged on and I was so very easily sucked in.

There were no struggles with the USDA or the FDA.  No issues with zoning or destroyed freedoms or dashed hopes and dreams.  No SWAT team invading a family owned poultry farm destroying all of their products.  Where was the picture of the real American farmer?

When someone asks you what you do, do you tell them you're a farmer?  I promise their next question is this, "What do you raise?"  They expect to hear you say that you raise corn or soybeans.  No one expects you to say, "I farm a sustainable homestead fully capable of feeding my entire family and local community, powered by my own two hands, and my livelihood and success rests on hard work and the Lord's blessings."  Try that next time and see what happens...

That being said, I loved the tribute.  And I respect farmers of all makes and models.  Anyone who is strong enough to wear the title "farmer" and endure the criticism and ridicule that goes along with it, has earned the respect.  I just don't to be confused with those who have sold out to freedomless government funding and rest in a false sense of security.

But honestly, the commercial still makes me tear up.........

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