Homestead Happiness

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The other day, I planted potatoes and garlic. The kids were not happy, complained about everything, did not want to help, and ended up going in the house to leave me alone with my spade and seed potatoes.

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Today, they came out saying, “We are in the garden with mommy!”  and “This dirt is so cool!”  I believe the difference in attitude had a lot to do with the weather.  When I was planting potatoes, it was just hot.  Today, it was kind of hot, but every time it started to get uncomfortable, clouds would pass and the breeze would kick up and it would be just enough to say, “Ahhhhh!  What a wonderful day.”  I missed this kind of summer weather when we lived in California.  Summer without rain or clouds is just punishing, isn’t it?

So there I was in the garden, planting peas with the help of my Lion Cub and Blue Dragon, and they said, “Look!  There’s Daddy!”  And there was my husband coming out of the house, wearing Little Fox on his back in my Boba Baby Carrier, holding Kangaroo’s hand, and setting down our long long driveway to check the mail.  I could have cried with happiness right there, and not just for all the usual reasons a  babywearing mom might have for tearing up at the sight of her husband wearing the baby.  I haven’t talked about his accident on my blog yet, but I’ll get to that in my “Unplugging” series about the long road we took to getting here.  Not only is it a miracle he is alive to wear the baby (the 25+ lb toddler, I should say–not just a little baby!), but it wasn’t too long ago that I thought he would never be able to safely carry a baby on his back due to his injuries leaving him off-balance.  But when he came back from the mailbox and I was done planting peas with the older kids, we roamed about the garden and barn, comparing notes on which plants we had identified so far and imagining the animals we have yet to acquire.

Is this where I wake up to find it is all a dream?  Oh wait, there is a giant mosquito bite on top of my head–this is reality.  It’s a lovely one right now (in spite of the mosquitoes), and I’m going to cling to that  as long as I can.

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Harvesting Sunshine

Yesterday we had snow on the ground in the morning.  Today it was warm and sunny.  Ok then.

Here’s the view of our garden area, which soon will be tilled.  (I hope.)  That’s the barn in the background.

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Today, the kids and I gathered (more) dandelions to make syrup.  This was the result of our picking:

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Based on what I’ve read from various recipes, all you have to do to make dandelion syrup is pick a gazillion dandelions, rip the petals off, and cover them in water.  Boil from anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes, depending on what recipe you read.  Then allow to steep overnight.  That’s what’s going on right now.

In the morning, I will strain the liquid and measure it.  Then I will boil it with equal parts sugar until it is completely dissolved and, hopefully, thickened.  That’s about it!  Some recipes tell you to add lemon juice or spices, but that doesn’t seem to be required.  This needs to be kept in the fridge for sure.  I’ll tell you how it turns out–if it’s half as good as the dandelion jelly I still need to tell you about, it will be a success.  The jelly is like eating sunshine.

Next up is our mint/mullein scalp tea for my daughter.  Last week, I made mullein tea for my daughter’s itchy scalp, and IT HELPED.  I can’t tell you how many remedies we’ve tried for her itchy head, but the mullein tea worked.  I just poured it on after washing her hair.  Anyway, mint is also good for scalp ailments, and she asked if she could try mint tea instead since we have an abundance of mint growing near our house.  I said, why not use both?

Here are her herbs waiting for the tea pot to boil.

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And here’s mullein growing wild, just for reference.  Please note that I am NOT an herbalist or expert and I’m just learning all of this.  So don’t take my word for it.  Do some of your own research or ask a real expert before being sure you have identified a plant.

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Last, but definitely not least, we have a mystery plant growing in our garden!  I was hoping it was parsnip.  Nope, not parsnip. Rutabaga?  Nope.  (Thank goodness. Then I would feel compelled to actually prepare it.)  So, what is it?  My next guess is an overgrown radish.  What do you think this is?

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I am really hoping it is something edible, since there are a lot of them growing.

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