Home!

 After a bit of a sad and emotional goodbye to our old house, we stepped into the future God has waiting for us and we have been HOME for 5 month now! Our forever home. Our dream home. Our anything goes home. Our wild and free home. Our little piece of Heaven nestled right at the base of the Sierra Nevada Foothills home. What a relief.  Home is a very nice place to be. But home still needs a lot of work…

We have been working. our. tails. off. for the past 5 months to get lots of balls rolling in the direction of self sustainability. At least in the scope that we have envisioned for our family, which is to produce as much food to feed our family as possible on our own property. God has blessed our hard work! Here is where we are:

Meat, Eggs, Dairy:

We arrived with 4 laying hens, we now have 13 laying hens, 15 that will be laying by next Spring, and 12 bantam hens that will be patrolling our garden next Spring when the fencing for their run is complete. We also are raising our first turkeys this year! I chose a few heirloom varieties; midget white and royal palm. We have ended up with 3 toms (males) which will be Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner but I think I’ll keep the ladies. They are so pretty and I LOVEthe pretty whistling sound turkeys make! Who knew?

  • We have never been able to raise meat birds due to space constraints…we raised 17 Red Ranger meat birds this year! We processed them ourselves and now have a freezer stuffed full of pasture raised, organic, homegrown chicken! YUS! This was  a biggie for me! When I was vegan….it was mostly because I felt that if I couldn’t actually know how the animals were raised and processed, I had no business eating them. So I feel MUCH better about knowing exactly what kind of life and conditions these chickens were raised with. I also learned pretty valuable “gutting” and “butchering” skills that you can only learn by doing.
  • The hubby scored with a deer AND elk tag this year! Pretty confident he will at least be able to get a deer so that will be at least 100 pounds of fresh game in the freezer. Hoping for an elk…which would feed our family for several years!
  • We have our 3 little goat ladies that are doing great and are very happily growing fatter every day. I mean….how do you get so fat eating grass? I don’t get it! Lol. I will not be breeding these girls at 9 months, like a lot of people suggest, but closer to 18 months. Goats have a 5 months gestation period so….we’re looking at a year in a half before getting any milk from them. I am considering looking for a goat in milk before then. But once we get the whole cycle in, we will be good on dairy! YAY!

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So that has us good on our eggs, meat, and dairy….eventually. If there is no deer or elk meat for the freezer we will continue to purchase our grassfed beef to fill the red meat void.

Fruits and Veggies

      • The property was very neglected for a looong time before we moved in so we have been cleaning up a lot of dead and over grown growth and then mulching, mulching, mulching with woodchips to start building up workable soil. We have been blessed with an abundance of woodchips from a local arborist which we have been spreading like maniacs all over the property. The initial idea was to do a nice deep layer over the front lawn to prepare it for a dwarf fruit tree orchard next fall! We will have 4-8 different kinds and varieties of fruit trees planted! Probably 16-20 trees in total.

The second focus has been to get the back right quarter of our pasture nice and mulched and ready for a huge garden area! I did end up doing a very small “test” garden this Summer, which performed MUCH better than anticipated! I will do a quick blog post on the methods that I am experimenting with and how everything did soon! We will be fencing in a large portion off at the end of the Summer so that I can expand my winter garden plans! YES! I said…

  • Winter garden!!!!!! I did some experimenting with overwintering crops and winter gardening in my last house, with minor successes, but then pregnancy. I have a lot of new information and am excited to put it into practice to see what does and does not work here. I think our biggest issue will be the wildlife, not the weather.

So there you have it! A basic 5 year plan to (God willing) produce our eggs, meat, dairy, fruits and veggies mostly right here on our very own little homestead 🙂

 

Raw Applesauce Pie

2 Finished Pie Crusts

We had some of our dearest friends over for dinner and had so much fun. We don’t have people over often, mostly because everyone is so busy going in all different directions. I’m not into fancy dinner party’s as much as I am into eating delicious, nutrient dense food, being together around the table, and enjoying each other’s company. So, I keep it pretty simple. Delicious, but simple. That means that I am NOT in the kitchen all night. I prefer to get everything done during the day so I can relax and enjoy the evening. I made a few of my favorite staples, a hamburger and sweet potato stew, fresh baked sourdough roles, and my friend brought a delicious salad. Soul food.

For dessert I did a throwback to my raw vegan days and made an old favorite: raw applesauce pie with a soaked brazil nut and raisin crust. YUM. I traditionally ate this as a breakfast treat but now I use it to bribe my kids…because it has the magical word “pie” in the title, it carries some real weight! Cheap marketing and labels totally works on kids. If you aren’t using both of those tactics to your advantage, start this instant.

Another great thing about this is that it’s very easily digested and quick to make once the nuts and raisins have been soaked. That’s a huge win considering how difficult most “dessert” or sweets are for our bodies to process and I actually feel great about letting my kids think they are having a treat by eating “pie” for breakfast. You too can live this dream. Let’s get to it!

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound raw brazil nuts

1 pound raisins

1TBSP Flax Oil (optional)

7 medium sized apples – cored and quartered

Cinnamon

The Morning Before:

Soak your nuts and raisins, in separate jars, in water (I use reverse osmosis water with minerals added back in).

24 Hrs Later:

*Drain the nuts and discard the water

*Drain the raisins and reserve the water (it is excellent to use to sweeten smoothies!)

*Blend the nuts and raisins together if you have an excellent blender or a food processor that’s working (mine had the nerve to break). I ended up using my 15 year old vita mixer and so had to do the nuts and raisins separately and in batches. Whatever gets the job done here (see how easy I make it on you?). Brazil nuts on the left (above) will be beautiful and the blended raisins on the right (above) will look a lot like sludge. That’s normal. Ha! If you blended the two separately go ahead and mix them together now.

*This is where I add my flax oil, if I use it, to the crust

*Once you have everything blended together, it’s time to get the crust pressed into the pie plate. I just use my hands to press the crust down evenly into the pie plate. Brazil Nuts are suuper oily and the dampness of the raisins along with the oil of the nuts makes them perfect for pressing and forming into a beautiful crust.

Pie Crust Pressed

*Now it’s time to make our filling. If you are using a blender, start with filling it 1/4 full and blend until completely pulverized then continue to add until all 7 apples are effectively blended into a “sauce” consistency. I add just enough cinnamon to turn the sauce slightly brown. Pour filling into the waiting pie crust, smooth out the top and refrigerate to let firm up a bit. Overnight is best….but I can never wait that long 😉 Bon Appetit!

Finished Pie 1

 

 

 

 

Chickens and Turkeys and….Ducks (maybe) Oh my…!

***SCROLL DOWN FOR PART 2: UPDATED 5/28***

We have a great start to what will be our chicken/turkey/POSSIBLY duck area. It has been so much fun having the entire family out there working on this project! Our 8 year old has been amazing to watch. She has been shoveling dirt and rocks and contributing a ton to our projects! Our 4 year old has been a trooper….she busied herself with collecting all of the worms we dug up during our “trenching stage” and playing in our huge field/pasture without complaint. Our 1 year old has been sleeping like a champ out here! 2 1/2 – 3 hour naps every. darn. day. Yeah, that’s what running all over 3 acres will do to you. Plain tuckered out. Here is what we have managed to get together over that last several days;

Before Coop Here is where the coop will go and our  “fowl” area before we did much of anything. You can’t really tell in the picture but there is a decent slope so the plan goes like this; dig a trench, stack cinder blocks, make level, build on top of cinder block footing. Sounds good. Go.

Digging Trench

We used an edger to make a rough cut of the trench lines and then made our 8 year old do all the rest of the work. What?

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See? She’s fine! You can kind of see how the top right is higher than the bottom left, right? RIGHT? Because there was a whole lot of dirt that was dug out of that top right corner!

Trench and Blocks

Once we had our trench dug out and “mostly” level we tamped it down with a 10″ tamper and started laying the cinder blocks. 60 cinder blocks, by the way, were fork lifted into the back of my husbands Tundra. It was aaawwesome. Okay. We used a 4′ level as we went to make sure everything was level. Not too difficult, just time consuming.

Bella and Bonnet

Our 1 year old hates missing any of the action but there’s a few reasons it’s a tad difficult working with her out in the field with us; Uneven terrain = lots of toppling over (think drunk person walking uphill. a rocky hill. a rocky hill with no path, okay now you got it! Not pretty). Also, it’s the very beginning of April and still pretty chilly (but sunny?) here. And stickers. There are these dagone weeds with long fingers full of stickers. I was expecting goat heads, but got these instead, and so I guess that’s a win? It seems more likely I will win the war against them as goat heads are nearly impossible to eradicate once they are established in an area. Anyone want to try to hold a screaming 1 year old still and try to remove an invisible teeny tiny sticker from her little hand? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Anywho, she’s been a real trooper during our long hot building days…she hangs for a few hours and then sleeps a few more, which is basically angelic behavior for a 1 year old. She’s clearly advanced (chuckle, chuckle). Also, that bonnet, right? (I got it from Urban Baby Bonnets, check them out here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/UrbanBabyBonnets)

Working on Foundation

It took us 2 dang days to dig this trench and get the cinder blocks laid and even. Maybe a bit long, but we have never done this before so we’re learning as we go, and this particular spot has that slope. Stupid slope. Next structure will be quicker!

Coop Framed Out

My awesome hubby framed out each wall over by the garage so he would be able to do the cuts and lay it all out to attach together, then we hauled each section out to the coop area and assembled in place. Somehow no one took any pictures of the walls being put together! He based them off of my drawings and did a fantastic job! I am so proud of him and how far his building and handy man skills have grown since we first got married! Mad skillz.

Framing Done

So this is where we stand with the coop as of now. I’m not sure how much more will be done as a pretty good storm is blowing in over the next several days (boo!). I am still thrilled with our progress and that we can actually start to see how this is going to look! Luckily we still have a weekend before the turkeys come (:O) and then another 6-7 weeks before they can go outside. Chicken chicks arrive May 29th!! Life is goooood!!

**The mention of ducks…I’m being pressured into ducks. That will not happen this year, but I threw the “maybe” in because…well never say never, eh? And also. Ducks. So cute! So….maybe 😉

 

****PART 2: UPDATED 5/28****

This chicken coop has taken QUITE a bit more time than either of us expected. That said, we are doing our best to think carefully and do everything “right” so we don’t have to re-do anything. I also have specific ideas about each part of the coop and how I want the finished product to preform and look like…Lane and I (ok, mostly him)are working hard to make sure everyone is happy with the final product. So far, everything is turning out as hoped, even if we have had to undo and redo a few things, it’s so worth the time and effort to get exactly what we want. I mean, when it’s your forever home….making everything as perfect as possible is just what you do, and timing doesn’t matter as much because, ya know, it’s your forever home!

Here’s a quick update to where we are now…

*Walls have been framed in and windows and chicken doors all cut out

*We used 1/4 inch hardwire mesh to cover the windows. It’s important to use these specific screws with a rubber washer, to really seal these suckers down to keep hungry predators out of the coop. We have ALL the predators out here so predator proofing the coop was mucho importante.

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*We decided to go with tin roofing again. It is affordable, quick, and durable. We also had zero issues with it at our old house. All that is left to do is add a gutter system to the roof, which will happen later this year, because Winter is over now, right? RIGHT?! (Ugh!)

*Floors have been done – side note: when you frame in your floors make sure you measure the width of your plywood and place your floor studs that distance apart. I know. Seems so simple and obvious in hindsight. And it cost us about an hour and a few four letter words.  But we prevailed. Because we are homesteaders damnit. We win.

*I decided to go with the super duper cheapo laminate tiles this time to cover the subfloor. Basically I just need something smooth and slippery in order to quickly and easily push all the bedding out the hatch when it’s time to clean the coop (which is approximately every 6 months with the deep litter method we use #winning)

*Roosts are installed. Side story about the huge manzanita limb in the coop…we took that limb from a manzanita bush at Lake Almanor at a cabin that Lane grew up visiting his entire childhood…and then we went once or twice every year while we were dating and for the first six years of our marriage. In fact, we snatched that beauty up the last time we were there, not knowing it would be our last trip. We used it in our first coop as the only roost and now it is in our “forever coop” and reminds us of really beautiful memories made in a very special place.

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*I have had a “dream door” basically forever. I mean, don’t you? Think blue painted dutch barn door (swoon!).  If anyone has seen Mr. Ed then you know what I’m talking about! Only the door of my dreams was 1,000 times dreamier. And Lane made it a reality. He. Is. Awesome. Check this beauty out!! I used what my kids call “Elsa Blue” because it was left over from our old playroom and I do believe it is PERFECT! Am I right?!?!

Chicken Coop Door Finished

And so that is where we are now with our ” Maison de Poulets” and I could not be more pleased with the progress! Our chickens are in and I have been working on a special project in their previous “coop” that I can’t wait to share in this space!

We will be doing the entire siding with the fence pickets you see here around the door. I’m still not 100% decided on the color I want to paint them…I was initially thinking white, but not excited about the brightness of it…and so I think I have settled on a light grey. That should still help keep it cooler in the Summer while still making this magnificient door POP. Excited to be down to the finishing touches and get on full speed with all of the other happenings around the Meyerstead.

We added 11 more girls to our flock last week when we scored a great deal on 5 month old chickens! They should start laying in about a month or so. Our new baby chicks are coming THIS WEEK sometime, which is so hard to believe because I literally ordered them on March 3rd, before we even moved into our new house, almost 3 months ago. LOL. So typical.

Baby Turkeys are growing quickly. They have mostly feathered out and spend their days in the pasture inside the chicken tractor I built when we first moved in here. Baby turkeys, from what I have read, are more temperature sensitive than chickens, so they will stay inside the garage at night until they are at least 7 or 8 weeks and completely feathered out. It’s going to be interesting when the next wave of babies arrive this week…  we will have poultry at all stages! Let the good times roll!

 

 

Welcome Astrid and Moonlight!

Baby Goats in Pen

Today was a tremendous day…a landmark day. A day that represents so much of what I have thought about, prayed about, dreamed about, and given up on a thousand times. I am overflowing with thanksgiving at the incredible life God has opened up and allowed through the move and purchase of this property. He is so good. These two sweet sisters came home to the Meyerstead this afternoon! Golly, I’m such a sucker for sweet little bleats and heart shaped noses. And basically anything with fur 😀

Girls in Car with Baby Goats

Yes, the girls rode the 30 minutes home with the babies on their laps. They only bleated the first 29 minutes and were perfect angels the entire rest of the trip!

Channing in Car with Goat

Channing did not move a muscle, besides her very energetic tongue and mouth muscles to keep telling me how scared she was Moonlight was going to pee and poop on her (LOL!).

Addie in car with Goat

Astrid is a pretty hilarious little goatie (actually baby goats are called “kids” but how confusing is that?!?!). She wiggled the entire ride home while Moonlight was completely relaxed. I love that God gives so much attention to giving every single animal their own unique and quirky personalities! I am also grateful that He made me an animal lover. LOVER. You guys, I used to cry when I saw baby animals I loved them so much. I used to play with baby rattlesnakes and catch, literally, buckets and buckets of lizards, frogs, snakes, and turtles. That’s right. Lover. Of. Animals. That’s me. Feeding Moonlight

Here I am giving Moonlight a bottle…I never, in my life, have given a bottle to a living thing. My babies have always nursed so how was I supposed to know that I was supposed to warm the milk up before trying to feed?! Ha. Rookie mistake.

When we got home with the goaties, I set Moonlight down to get Channing out of the car. Mistake. Such a mistake. We chased her around for the next 15 minutes trying to catch her. Baby goats are fast on their hooves! She has been a bit traumatized but I’m sure she will warm up and be fine in a few days. Once she knows where the milk comes from 😉 And these little ones will get no shortage of attention and love! The girls have collars and leashes for them and you better believe we will be walking them all over this property and neighborhood!

10 days into our new house…we are not fully unpacked but we have baby goats and the foundation of our chicken coop in. I’d say we’ve had a great start to our homesteading life! So much fun (and work) still to come!!!

 

The Best (no wait) Sourdough Pancakes

 

DSCN0050 - CopyNo wait pancakes make a real difference in my world because who plans breakfast the night before? I may have time right before bed to have one last thought to throw some oats into water for soaked oatmeal the next day, but mixing batter together is too much to ask. It just is.

This is by far my favorite sourdough pancake recipe, and I have tried many. This one also gives you a good reason NOT to throw any left over starter out. I still can’t believe that’s what everyone actually suggests doing! This recipe uses a hefty 2 cups of starter! So if your starter has turned from a cute pet on the counter to a raging beast, go ahead and double this recipe and get some delicious pancakes in the freezer for a quick breakfast on the go. Confession: sometimes we just leave them out and eat them cold with jelly for lunch *tisk*tisk .

One of the reasons I hate making regular pancakes, by the time I have poured, flipped, and cooked enough of them for my kids, and it’s finally my turn, they have already eaten their pancakes, licked their plates, deposited empty plates sink side, and moved on with their day. I am ALWAYS the last one eating and it’s usually by myself. Lame-o. For this recipe, I dump the entire bowl of batter into my largest skillet (happens to be cast iron, but stainless steel works too!) and cook it all at the same time. Then we eat at the same time. Together. And things happen…like prayers, conversation, and jokes. And then I feel like a responsible adult. Winning.

It’s breakfast, we’re hungry, so let’s just go ahead and get to the point. Here’s the recipe 🙂

No Soak Sourdough Pancakes with Berry Compote

Ingredients for Pancake

1 egg

1/4 cup melted (but not hot) grassfed butter

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp sea salt (REAL or Celtic)

1 tsp cinammon

1/4 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp allspice

dash of ginger

2 TBSP maple syrup

2 cups starter (fed the night before)

1 TBSP water

1 tsp baking soda

Ingredients for Berry Compote

Frozen Berries (any assortment works, I use the organic variety pack from Costco)

Maple Syrup

Directions

Place berries and maple syrup in small saucepan on simmer. Let simmer and occasionally smash berries to release the juices. Leave on low simmering while cooking pancake.

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Preheat your largest skillet (or 2 medium skillets) on the stove top and turn your oven on to broil.

Beat the egg and add in the butter, vanilla, salt, spices, and maple syrup. Mix well then add the 2 cups of starter. The mix will be thick and heavy, that’s normal.

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In a separate dish, mix the water and baking soda together. Add to the starter mix and stir vigorously. The mixture should start pillowing up and get much easier to mix and not be quite so thick and sticky.

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Melt a TBSP of butter into your skillet and make sure to cover the entire bottom and sides of the skillet to prevent sticking. Then go ahead and pour all of that batter right into the skillet (or divide evenly between your 2 medium sized skillets)

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Cook on the stove top until you see bubbles form and pop on the top of the pancake.

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Once that happens, pull the pan from the stove and slide it into your preheated oven. Keep a close eye on the top because this goes from perfect to burned about as fast as a baby goes from laughing hysterically to crying buckets of tears (whoa, that’s fast). I would say roughly 3-5 minutes should do it. Once the top of the pancakes is golden brown all over, it’s done!

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Pull the pan out and flip over onto your largest cutting board and admire that beautiful pancake pizza (which is what my kids affectionately call it). I cut this like a pizza, with a pizza cutter, because it’s more fun that way, and I’m all about fun.

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I also like to go ahead and slather the entire top with grass fed butter, because I’m all about butter.

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Serve a slice up with the berry compote on top, sit back, and enjoy being everyone’s favorite 😉

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