Summer Days

Well, another month has passed and we’re having as much fun as ever. We are still house hunting which we knew would be a challenge but did not anticipate it taking so long to find the right home. We do have a very particular list of needs because of our long-term homesteading goals which has made it extra tough to find one that is just right. Thankfully, our realtor has been very patient and understanding with us. I don’t think any of his other clients have space for chickens, goats, pigs, and a huge garden on their list of requirements.

As usual though, it is never a dull moment on the homestead. I’ve been off work and enjoying time at home cooking, working on organizing projects, and putting together homesteading materials. Michael has enjoyed some much-needeIMG_20150719_135807280_HDRd time off work and got to visit his brother and we have a big family trip to the mountains coming up.

IMG_20150719_095425640We had an extra fun Sunday Funday a couple of weeks back when we participated in Loose on the Neuse and did a trash pick up on our kayaks a few miles down the Neuse River. The group ended up picking up hundreds of pounds of trash. We got over 80 bags and dragged in lots of lumber and very random items like bikes, tables, and chairs. Michael even won these killer Sweetwater Brewing signs which we will be happily displaying in the new house.

While doing my usual homesteading reading online one day, I came across a saying which read, “an only goat is a lonely goat,” so we had to get IMG_20150717_183335433Geoffrey a friend immediately. We came home with Georgia just a few days later and we’ve loved having her around and for them to keep each other company. They’ve only gotten into a tiny bit of trouble. They got in the garden one day and ate all of our ripe tomatoes, our only two pepper plants (the whole plant), and our cucumbers. Geoffrey also learned how to climb under a particular spot in the chain link fence so I spent one Saturday chasing him down and retrieving him oIMG_20150728_075029018 (1)ff of a neighbors porch about 5 times until I finally caught him in the act and barricaded the spot. Thankfully, no escapes since. Georgia was raised with lots of goats and little Geoffrey was bottle fed and treated like a pet with humans since about 10 days old, so she has been a little skittish with us but is coming around. They have lots of fun grazing and palling around, and of course terrorizing little chickens.

IMG_20150701_154602814Our wee ones are coming along nicely. In about another month or two we will butcher all eight and load up the freezer for the fall. We also tried incubating duck eggs with no success. We did stick a few under a broody chicken so we’ll see what happens with those. We think we may have one successful experiment with the rabbits. We took our bunnies to a friends who has a female rabbit for a play date and we are expecting a litter in just a couple of days. The rabbits have been our biggest challenge. We thought they would just do their thing and we would be getting to stock the freezer with fresh meat but since December we’ve had no litters.

IMG_20150730_132605839We are blessed to have lots of friends who keep a big garden because ours has not done well this year. We put in the raised beds but in our eagerness to get stuff in the ground did not amend the soil and it has been slow going indeed. It will be a late IMG_20150730_133005374harvest but thankfully our friends and neighbors have lots to go around so we are still enjoying fresh local veggies everyday and keeping our grocery bill super low. We trade pork and eggs when we need to and have gotten pounds and pounds of kale, tomatoes, peppers, and squash. Nom nom!

Day-to-day we post a lot on Instagram so please feel free to visit us there to keep up between posts. There’s always some cute critter just begging for us to take a picture and share.

Happy homesteading!

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Going Local

Over the years that Michael and I have been together our lifestyles have changed dramatically. While always interested in good food, buying local and sustainability, we have drastically increased our support for local farmers, local businesses, and self-reliance. I don’t see ourselves as ever becoming die-hard preppers or living completely off of the land, but we have learned so much about decreasing our footprint and buying responsibly I do not see us going back to our old ways. We also both believe that people have the freedom to choose how they live their lives and get their food and basic needs, but for us it is important to do more for ourselves and limit our support of big corporations, and particularly, the industrial food complex.

I can tell you this did not happen for us overnight.  While I was working on my degrees and we were both busy working at least two jobs we were not able to do for ourselves as we do now. But now that we both have careers at great workplaces we have the luxury of getting to make decisions about how we live and shop during our time that we aren’t at work. This is a blessing that we are most certainly grateful for. So we thought we would share some of the ways we have decided to “go local” in our daily lives.

IMG_20150404_102618346Last year when we moved to the homestead I heard about a food co-op in our community which was still recruiting founding members and working to expand their mission. We proudly joined as one of 500 founding family memberships and we LOVE shopping at the co-op. We shop here for our pantry staples like nuts and seeds, dried fruit, beans and baking supplies.  They have recently moved to a new location and are greatly expanding the products available, so we are excited to add many of the supplies we buy like local milk and butter, and even more household staples. You can read more about our local food co-op, the Grain Mill of Wake Forest, here:  https://www.grainmill.coop/

A recent addition to our local purchases was joining a local Community Supported Fishery (CSF) offered by the NC operation, Locals Seafood.  We know their products are great and have visited their shop at the NC State Farmers Market in Raleigh, but are now going to try a short share, about three weeks, later this month to see if we like it and want to commit to a longer share in the future.  For $25 a week you get 2 pounds of fresh and locally caught seafood.  Whatever we do not use right away we will plan to stock our freezer with.  You can read more about Locals Seafood and their CSF here:  http://localsseafood.com/

We are blessed to live in an area and a state where there is a lot of support for local IMG_20150404_102101606_HDRfarmers and there are lots of farmers markets. We tend to visit the Wake Forest Farmers Market because it is open on Saturday mornings and is very close to the co-op so I can usually get all of our weekly shopping done at once. There are a few meat purveyors, local cheese makers, and so much beautiful fresh produce, but they also have locally made goods like pottery, soap and hand-knitted items, and even a food truck comes out sometimes. It is a fun place to spend Saturday mornings, and with the fresh air and live music it certainly makes for an enjoyable shopping experience. You can read more about our local farmers market here:  http://www.wakeforestfarmersmarket.org/

IMG_20150404_104319889_HDRNorth Carolina is a leader in the craft beer movement and has more independent local breweries than I could ever count, so we have to send a shout out to our most local brewery, White Street Brewing Company. It is a great little downtown Wake Forest brewery where you can have food delivered, fill up a growler, and watch a ball game. They get area food trucks to visit a lot and it is a great local hangout.  http://www.whitestreetbrewing.com/

We strive to constantly improve on how we ‘go local’ in our daily lives. I know we both feel better and share a sense of responsibility in supporting our local economy. Getting food from our own backyard and from other hard-working people in our community is so fulfilling and brings us joy everyday. We hope you find ways to ‘go local’ in your own community.

Happy homesteading!