The Helpful Homestead Husband

I spent the morning with my sister, nephew (3-1/2 years), and niece (2 years). We took a drive out to Blain’s Farm & Fleet, which is one of my favorite stores. For those that don’t know, it’s like a Wal-Mart for farm folks. We stopped for lunch and then headed back home to put the kids down for their naps. Gage loves snuggle time with Auntie, and I cherish every second.

I hadn’t had time to check the garden before I left, so I threw my purse in the house and headed out to the jungle that is our black raspberry bushes. I mentioned about a month ago that these berries are taking over. We pick at least a pint every day now. Today was no different. The problem is that with all the rain we’ve been having, the mosquitoes are awful. After I picked a pint, I wasn’t sure if the stains on my fingers were blood, berry juice, or a mixture of both. I have bites on bites. There was still so much yet to be picked, but I had to stop or risk needing a transfusion.

Berry Picking 6-29-15

When my homestead husband got home from work and the rain had passed, I lured him out there (it doesn’t take much). Being the clever fella he is, he remembered to bring his trusty tennis racket. No, I’m not talking about the kind you actually play tennis with. I’m talking about this kind (you can find it here):

Bug Zapper

We bought ours about 15 years ago at Venture before they went out of business. This thing never gets old. It’s one of the cheapest and most entertaining gifts I have ever bought him. He stands out there swinging and picking berries. He insists he is being my knight in shining armor, protecting me from the vicious, blood-thirsty, winged beasts (“I think I’ve killed at least 50! I’m pretty sure they’re running scared now!”). I can’t help but laugh and love him just a little bit more. Watching him, I just can’t bring myself to chastise him for eating more berries than he’s putting in the cup.

Life is so much sweeter with him beside me on this wannabe homestead.

This Could Get Ugly

We went to a bonfire last night with some agents from the company where my husband is a Realtor. I have met this woman and her husband before and they are absolutely wonderful people. They live in a lovely rural town about thirty minutes from us. Did I mention they have chickens (and ducks)? Well, they do: six hens and three ducks. The ducks are beautiful, but I was not as impressed by them as I thought I would be. The chickens were a different story.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were talking about my concerns over adding chickens to our homestead. I have wanted them for several years but was concerned that we would get them and I would find that I didn’t like them at all. He mentioned this bonfire and we decided that would be a good opportunity to confront my fear.

Chickens 1

I think my concerns were unwarranted. What do you think?

Chickens 2

Initially, I said I wanted two hens. Then, I wanted three. Now, I want six. Homestead hubby said three. I said six. He said zero. I said six. This went back and forth for several minutes. There were threats of “Then, I’m not building the coop.” I just giggled and said, “I’ve heard that one before.” Anyway, the battle rages. It could get ugly.

Only Human

A few weeks ago, I shared that I was limiting my online time to once a day. I have to confess that, in the past several days, I have broken that rule. A lot. 

While I haven’t been online nearly as much as I used to be, it has been too much. I am becoming increasingly irritable (although that could be PMS-related), and if I can sense it, I’m sure my friends and family can, too.

Today, I am renewing my commitment. I will only log on once a day. This will be tremendously difficult since I just launched this blog and the Facebook page and things are going well. I really feel like this is the direction I am meant to head, however, I’m sure my followers will understand my slow responses.

Now, it is past time to go and check on the garden (black raspberries are ripening every day now). I also need to get started on the strawberry jam and keep reading the new book Almost Amish: One Woman’s Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life.

The First Step Can be Scary!

Well, it’s official. The blog update is complete and the Facebook page is live. Thanks to my BFF, Tara, at Exclusively Yours Designs for the pic and logo design. We did this last week but I was afraid to really pull the trigger on it because there are so many other wonderful writers in the homesteading community with so much more experience and knowledge, but you never know if you don’t try. My hope with this site is to inspire others in my situation (stuck in the suburbs indefinitely) to pursue their dreams using what they have available.

If you don’t have a big yard, you can still plant a garden using containers. If you don’t have a lot of money, you don’t need it. If you can’t have livestock, find a butcher, farmer, or CSA nearby. The point is, you can do this. WE can do this. My goal is to help you find ways to do it and encourage you to keep at it despite setbacks from Mother Nature or discouragement from those who think you are crazy for choosing to live this way. Given the volume of blogs, Facebook pages, and groups dedicated to homesteading, I think there are more of us than many people think. That makes my heart smile. To quote one of my all-time favorite musicians, Charlie Daniels, “There’s a whole lot more of us common folks than there ever will be of you!” (from “What This World Needs is a Few More Rednecks”.)

Well, Hello there, Tree!

The garden is loving all the rain! All of the cucumber and green bean seeds have sprouted and things are really filling in. Even the trees. Sometimes, I feel like they are closing in on us…

Tree 1

Tree 2

Tree 5

Tree 6

The above picture is out our bedroom window. Good morning, Tree!

Tree 7

Tree 3

Tree 4

Thankfully, no one was hurt. I was the only one home at the time and might have had a slight heart attack when I got up to see what was going on after I heard rustling and crackling; nothing major.

There is a significant woodpile underneath the base of this tree that we think kept it from hitting the house any harder than it did. We are due for more rain in the next few days, so I hope it holds up. Needless to say, I don’t want to sleep upstairs right now. Truth be told, I considered going to sleep at my folks’ house last night, but I’m not chicken hawk.

The Insurance company is saying about 3 business days. We are saying not a snowball’s chance in hell. They need to get someone out here today. This is downright unsafe.

On a lighter note, I’ve been wondering how we are going to clear out a bigger spot for the chickens next year. The phrase “Be careful what you wish for” comes to mind about now.

There’s never a dull moment on the Rasmussen Homestead! I wouldn’t have it any other way! Well, maybe without the tree problem.

Everything’s Coming Our Way

I’ve had this song stuck in my head for most of the morning. It’s one of my favorites by Santana and one I grew up listening to at top volume with my parents. Music has always been a huge part of my life. Like air, it is something I cannot live without. Despite the fact that it is storming outside, I can see sunshine. Everything really IS coming our way. The garden is thriving; we are thriving; our family is thriving. Our fourth grandchild (sweet baby Justin Jameson) was born in April and our fifth grandchild (sweet baby Josie Gloria) is due to arrive in September. We are blessed.

Grampy gifted us granddaughters (me, Kristen, and Chrissie) with raspberry bushes that he dug up from his neighbor’s yard. They look a little rough, but I’m hoping with a little extra love they will thrive like the others. Words cannot express how much it would mean to me to have a little patch of home right in my front yard. At this time of year especially, I get extremely homesick. I crave the sights and smells of Amberg (except the wood ticks). I yearn to slow down and spend time with family. I long to hear the Menominee River roaring in the distance as the dam opens. Having these plants here makes missing home a little easier.

No matter your circumstances, remember you can always find something to be grateful for. You might have to look a little harder, but you will find it. Some days it’s the simple fact that you woke up above the dirt. Just remember the old saying, “This, too, shall pass.” It will. I can promise you. As this song says, “Brand new day, fresh new way to live. The morning is calling. Walk with me into the sun.”

Life is Good (and GREEN!) on the Rasmussen Homestead

It occurred to me that I have never shared our little garden. It’s nothing fancy, but it sure makes me feel like a million bucks every time I go out to look at it. I planted eight cucumber seeds and only three sprouted, so I planted five more. The onions seem to be growing nicely. I cannot wait for them to be ready. I’m pretty sure I will cry the day I chop an onion I grew myself (and not for the usual reason)!

Cucumbers onions 6-13-15

I planted thirty green bean plants from seed and only about 15 sprouted, so I planted more.

Green Beans from Seed 6-13-15

The little fella in the lower left hand corner was attacked by a critter, and I didn’t think he was gonna make it, but he surprised me and has new leaf growth. I’m ecstatic! The center row is green beans we bought as plants and the right two rows are Anaheim peppers and the mystery peppers. Most of them have buds, two have flowers about to open. It won’t be long now!

Peppers and Beans 6-13-15

The garden on the south side of the house is moving right along, as well. The hot peppers, green peppers, and red peppers have buds and one flower is fully opened.

Red and Green Peppers 6-13-15 Hot peppers 6-13-15

The tomatoes are getting big but still have no buds/blossoms. I am pinching off the suckers as they crop up and even pinched off some of the very bottom branches that tend to get stuck in the dirt after it rains.

Tomatoes 6-13-15

I love all of my garden plants, but my pride and joy is the black raspberries. They were among the first things I ever planted (the other was a blueberry bush that didn’t make it). These babies grew into this monstrosity from just two canes in about six years. If my husband would let me, I’d let them take over everything. (And, believe me, they try!) I love them. He loves them. Our grandkids love them. We all want more of them.

More Raspberries 6-13-15 Raspberries 6-13-15

We plan to start directing them over into this open space and cutting them back on the end closest to the tomato plants to give me more space for ‘maters and peppers.

Future Raspberries 6-13-15

Don’t tell my husband, but I’m hoping they take over the bushes in front of the house. Wouldn’t that be lovely? We would be able to sit on the porch and pick berries while watching the world go by. Sometimes, I sit on the rocking bench and imagine I’m on my farm in the country. I block out the houses across the street and visualize an open field like Grampy has Up North. Some day, I want to watch a storm rolling in across the field. That day will come, but not for a while yet. Until then, I will be content here in our suburban home with my little garden (and soon, chickens) that I continue to think of ways to expand. Life is green on the Rasmussen Homestead!

Homestead Updates

It’s been nearly two weeks since I limited social media time to once a day. I log on in the morning for a little while and then I’m done until the next day. I removed the Facebook app from my phone (I still have Messenger so I can chat when I have time). I got rid of Candy Crush and Farm Heroes Saga. It is getting easier, but I’m still dealing with withdrawals. Currently, the dominant emotion is depression and a feeling of being lost. These feelings tell me that I made the right decision. Anything that can consume that much of my life and leave me feeling like an addict going through DTs is not healthy.

In the morning, I have my coffee, check Facebook, and then head out to the gardens. The tomatoes and peppers on the south side of the house are growing nicely. The raspberries (as usual) are out of control. Yesterday, I counted 13 new canes. We talked about letting them take over a semi-circular section and clearing out half of them in the fall. There won’t be any plant loss, just relocation a little west of where they are now. This will give me almost the entire south side of the house for tomatoes and peppers. I can’t deny that this idea gets me more than just a little excited.

There has been increasing talk of chickens and where they will go. There’s a little concern (on my part) that we will get them and I will decide that I don’t like them at all (which I doubt very much). To check this theory, we will be attending a bonfire at the home of a friend of my husband who raises chickens. Again, I’m beyond excited.

Things are going well with just a few bumps here and there, which is to be expected. Any time you make changes, you will face difficulties. Change isn’t easy, but if you want it bad enough, you will stick it out. And, on that note, I’m off to have one last cup of coffee, check on the garden, and then go visit my sister and her babies.