I might not have all my ducks in a row but my eggs are another story.

I may not have all my ducks in a row but my eggs are another story.

I’m not sure if there is anyone left around here to read these words but I think I will type them none the less. A 9 month absence must be enough to kill a blog, especially a little one like mine, but I will write because I need to dump all of these words and thoughts out of my head. I need to keep a record of our days and experiences if for no other reason than that I want my kids to have it. So, I suppose, it doesn’t really matter if there is anyone here reading this as long as someday in the future the kids do.

I know I have said this before but this was meant to be a journal of our homesteading experiences and this year has been real short on the homesteading bit. I mean, we are still here, still chopping firewood and moving sheep, still butchering our own animals for food, still pulling a plant or two out of the ground to grace our dinner table but it all seems far and few between and certainly not noteworthy enough to write a post for. Really, what would that look like anyway?

We woke up this morning and walked the 10 sheep 10 feet from pasture 1 to pasture 2 today.


We harvested carrots for tonight’s dinner from our one and only row planted this year.

Awe inspiring it is not.

So rather than manufacturing posts and scraping together a few pictures, I just avoided it all together. Spring and Summer around here were spent mostly in doctors’ offices, either for my issues or for pre-op, op, and post-op (which in the end lasted months longer than it should have) on Kevin’s right knee. Our two biggest projects consisted of Kevin digging a new waterline out to our overwinter pastures (which took nary a long weekend) and him rebuilding our back deck, a highly boring job but one that had to be done, lest the whole thing went crashing down sometime this winter, buckling under the weight of two feet of snow.

Of course, we still felt busy because while none of those things look all that impressive individually, string 1000 mundane moments together and they still take up a hell of a lot of time. Add in that half of those 1000 things involve an animal with an instinct, an agenda and a mind of its own you might as well multiply it by a million. On top of it all there are two little kids needing time and attention (Exhibt A: while just typing this I had to field a question from PJ as to what is actually happening when we burn wood in the woodstove. This led into a discussion of atoms, molecules, hydrogen, carbon, waste products, atmospheric gases, incinerators and how it all impacts the environment.) Granted, we got our science lesson for the week (month? next year?) out of the way but you can see how this might all make a mom (and dad for that matter) a little too tired to muster a weekly blog post.

So what else is there to say? I have missed writing and all the cathartic side effects that come along with it. I have struggled with what to write about and how to walk that line of feeling like I have to share and sharing because I want to. I want to connect with other like minded people as well as people that can help me expand my mind. I’m not going to make any broad sweeping statements that I am going to show up here every day, or every week for that matter, but I do know that I want to show up. How that’s all going to play out I have no idea but I do know if anyone wants to come along I sure would enjoy the company.

if it’s not working…

Change it!


The new garden plot.

Well the last couple weeks have been all about reconfiguring. Reconfiguring our plans, our wants, the things that we truly need and, most of all, our (often times unrealistic) expectations.


Kevin preparing the soon to be potato patch.

Truth is, things had gotten a little out of hand; stuff on the homestead had seemed to take on a mind of its own. We were trying to do so many different things, in the hopes of being guided toward that which fulfilled us and that we honestly enjoyed. On the contrary, we were each being pulled in so many different directions that we were all suffering. Oh, the perks of restructuring you life and mindset all while in your 30s, raising two kiddlets and completely overhauling one’s living arrangements. We also found ourselves drifting away from some of our original intentions which had, of course, led us to this lifestyle in the first place. We were so busy everyday that Kevin and I found ourselves with little time and, unfortunately, sometimes even less energy and patience to really engage with the kids, what with constant farm chores, three meals a day to prepare (often times from scratch), businesses to attend to and any other general tasks all of us have to do in our daily lives. We also found that we all had little time left to pursue our individual creative endeavors, those things that refill each of our respective cups, allowing us to return to the group refreshed and recharged. The environment that we were unintentionally generating was in direct contrast to how we so badly wanted to live.


Last year’s garden partially turned back into pasture.

Late this winter while discussing this season’s upcoming pasture rotation schedule we came to realize that the front pasture we used for our garden last year would need to be reseeded and transitioned back into grazeable land. I officially started off spring feeling deflated and firmly planted behind the proverbial eight ball. After all the work and soil amending we had done on the space, with tremendous help from the pigs no less, we faced the 2013 gardening season back at square one. We also sat down and discussed which livestock groups were working here, which we would like to possible add, and those that we would rather transition away from. Taking into consideration ease of keep (especially during the winter months), upfront and subsequent feed costs, resale value and whether or not the products that each inevitably provided could be purchased from other farming friends at a reasonable price, we started laying out slightly adjusted plans for the future.

I hope these guys get to stay!

I hope these guys get to stay!

As is usually the case, the further we move forward with these new plans of ours, the more the resulting benefits become apparent. We have scaled back the vegetable garden, finally convincing my father that we would never be able to make a living from market gardening if Kevin and I were the only two working at it. However, we can save quite a bit of money if we focus our efforts on the produce that we eat all year and put our energy into growing those crops well, then preserving them for winter. The garden is now much closer to the house which makes taking the kids out with me to tend to it much easier and tremendously more productive for me (this girl of ours is a runner, a daredevil and a huge majority of my days seem dedicated to keeping her from mortally wounding herself during one of her stunts). It also seems to be much more enjoyable for the kids, thanks to their play set and other toys soon being moved near by and a new picket fence that is being erected, allowing them to play safely within its confines, without me having to chase after the littlest every two minutes (that two minutes is not an exaggeration, by the way). We have already established various fruit trees and bushes, including a large strawberry patch that Kevin and I planted on the slope of a small hill, near the new garden area. As the new layout and design unfolds before us, my creative heart is happy with the aesthetic we are achieving, as well as the resulting increase in efficiency and more realistic goals we have set for ourselves.

It's a work in progress...

It’s a work in progress…

All of this reconfiguring has also allowed Kevin and I to begin focusing on creative endeavors that before had only received a fraction of our attention while we worked mainstream jobs and before we began cohabiting and pooling all of our respective resources. Our move here was supposed to allow for pockets of time, and interpersonal support for each of us, to rekindle these talents. I am so thankful that we were able to step back, re-evaluate where we wanted to end up, accepting where we currently were and having the courage to say “this is no longer working for us, we need to change it.” Sometimes the choices are tough, other times the decisions are a no brainer, what’s important is that we realize when things are heading in the wrong directions and have the strength and confidence to turn the train around. Granted, admitting that I can’t accomplish everything on my list(s) is certainly not my strongest quality but that is why I have Kevin. He, thankfully, plays the part of my brain (which I dreadfully lack) that tells me when I have reached the reasonable limit of things that can be accomplished, figures out which of my “to dos” really do not matter in the grand scheme of things and identifies those that will need to be left until another day.


Sunset over the apple orchard down the road from us.

I have a feeling that exciting things are on the horizon and I think we will now have the time and energy to enjoy them.

What’s new with you? Has Spring’s arrival inspired exciting changes in your neck of the woods?

we went a wassailing…



Yes, you read that right, we went wassailing to our lone apple tree (the same apple tree that I wrote about this past summer) in hopes of inspiring more of an offering from her this coming autumn. It was the final celebration of our holiday season. From what I could gather in my research, wassailing usually commences on Twelfth Night (January 6th) or Old Twelfth Night (January 17th) in most counties in England. We settled on the 6th as it felt like more of a completion to the season.




The kids gathered musical instruments and we made a raucous. PJ, the youngest male in the family, was perched in the tree where he sang a song he had written, off the cuff, about how much he loved apples. We offered our tree stale bread soaked in hard cider, we drank, toasted and sang a more traditional tune to awaken her and entice her into production. Finally we finished by pouring cider about her roots. What may seem like a silly tradition to some felt more important to me as we stood in the cold singing and and drinking. We were sending our thanks for what we have and our intentions for a good growing season filled with joy and prosperity out into the universe, loud and clear. We were finding another way to give back to Mother Nature because after all without her where would we be? This symbiotic life between us, the soil, the plants and the animals is beautiful and fragile, a gift that we deeply appreciate.




Throughout our holidays we ate things we had grown or hunted, gave handmade gifts which were often made of materials harvested from this land of ours and we celebrated together with family, friends and neighbors from both near and far, most often, right here on the farm. During the first week of the new year we have wrapped up projects from last year and started writing goals and farm plans for 2013 and beyond. I, myself, am greatly looking forward to the coming year mostly because it will consist of much less start up and much more of the everyday life of being a homesteader. The kids will both be a bit older, a little more independent, undoubtably more capable and, in turn, hopefully more involved in the day to day goings on. We adults have garnered, I dare say, more knowledge out of the last year’s experiences than we did in the previous ten and feel better prepared because of it.


So here’s to the coming year, and all that it might bring. Hopefully it will be abundantly blessed, undoubtably beautiful and spent quietly together…until next January that is, when, if you drive by at just the right moment, you will be able to see a bunch of hippies dancing and sing about their apple tree.


December 13th


My maternal grandparents, sometime in the forties.

If you look at yesterday’s post and then at the tree in the above picture they look remarkably similar, don’t they?

Everything I know about interior illumination (and christmas tree decorating in general) I learned from my grandfather, via my mother. He was the decorator, not my grandmother, and to this day is the first one, out of us all, to have his place done up for the season. He always went out and picked the tree and, from the stories I heard, spent days decorating it just so. His tinsel hanging process was epic, and required such precision that if anyone was caught “just throwing it about” they were immediately released from any decorating duties for the remainder of the season.

For the first 25 years of my life every single christmas, with the exception of two, was spent with them. All of my holiday memories are filled with the sounds, smells and sights of them and their home. The traditions that my parents and I had and, in turn, that my kids now have contain them both in every facet. Unfortunately, my grandmother passed away just before PJ was born but my Pops has spent every christmas with both of my kids. He is a constant feature in both of their lives and will forever be imprinted in their memory. And many years from now, when they are decorating their own holiday tree, or come across an old family photo from holidays past, they will instantly know why their lights must be situated just so and their tinsel must hang just right.

It runs in the family.

Oh so thankful

I have no idea where the past two weeks went! (I am beginning to think that this has become a recurring theme here.) Between a holiday that quickly snuck up on me, two littles who have seemed to hit a developmental growth spurt at exactly the same time, and just the general chores of everyday farm life, I feel as though I move from one thing to the next, at a fast pace, knowing that December, and all it brings with it, is going to be here in a blink of an eye..again.

I’m not sure how it works for others writing blogs, but for me an idea for a post usually begins with photographs I have taken and then snowballs from there. But alas, I have been so busy that my poor camera has sat lonely in the house while I have been running about. As I sat here, bemoaning my lack of photos, and trying to finish a post that had no photography to go with it, I absentmindedly began flipping through photos on my phone. I suddenly realized that I had documented a good portion of the last two weeks (except, of course, for our thanksgiving feast, apparently I was too busy then, even for Instagram) using my phone’s camera. Snippets of our busy life, caught in an instant, almost without care, and when looked at can transport me back and piece together the last couple of weeks.


Finding the beauty in the shifting light of the season and trying to embrace the shorter days.


We have been loving watching Bert grow bigger every day and seeing his mama turn into the wonderful and patient dairy cow that we knew she could be.


More often than not, we have been greeted by frosty mornings. The boy awakes almost every day asking if there is snow on the ground yet.


We pasteurized our first batch of milk…makeshift style!


Watching the deer that hang out across the street The ones that seem to refuse to cross over onto our land.


Making, and crafting, and making some more in anticipation of the season.


We have been spending a lot of free time in front of our beautiful, new wood stove. It has officially erased any memory of being cold!


Finding refuge in the van, out at a family dinner, with a toddler who has entered a developmental growth spurt. One whose patience (and mine, at moments, for that matter) has yet to catch up.


I’m in awe of the boy my first baby is becoming, and reminding myself that he is only trying to learn who he is when his stubbornness comes out.

I just love those little red x's.

I just love those little red x’s and how, when put together, they make such a pretty picture.


When all else fails, and the day seems like it just can’t get better, go back to bed and have a snuggle. Everything looks better after that!

For those of you who celebrated last week, I hope you had a beautiful Thanksgiving and for those who didn’t, that you were able to catch a few everyday moments of your own.

My goal for the month of December is to not get caught up in the “doing” and stress that the holidays ultimately bring. I want to stop and soak in the moments, the special traditions and this time of wonder when my babes are little. As it seems that this blog is always the first thing to be left by the wayside when things get crazy on the farm (in life?), I need to make a change for the season. Not wanting to leave this space idle for a whole month, I am going to set a goal of capturing those moments, with a picture, and hopefully post one every weekday until January! Anyone want to join me?
I am sure there will be a few full post thrown in. Or maybe not. We will just have to see. 

all is well here

Everyone is safe and sound here. We had high winds and a lot of rain but, thankfully, never lost power. We awoke to two overturned animal shelters, an uprooted hunting tower and a small section of shingles blown from the big barn’s roof. All the animals were wet but happy and escaped our brush with Sandy unscathed! Our thoughts are with all of those who were not as lucky as us and we hope for both their safety and a speedy return to normal.

Even though we weathered a hurricane, a mere two days ago, it’s time to get back to serious business. We have a very important holiday to attend to, at least that’s what the under 4 foot tall crew in the house has told me. Due to the storm, and the time we spent preparing for it, our Halloween activities seemed to have all been squished into the last 24 hours. Thankfully both of their costumes were completed late last week, in anticipation of a Halloween party with my in-laws. PJ’s costume request of dressing as Woody from Toy Story and his sister playing the part of Jesse felt a little to commercialized for our liking, so I decided to make as much of both costumes, from scratch, as possible. It was fun trying to recreate the outfits by repurposing things I found around the house and throwing in a few small fabric purchases (all made with coupons of course). I even went so far as to make Jesse’s hat from poster board and heavy-duty red felt. I estimate that I spent about a quarter of what store bought costumes would have cost and finished them in about three evenings, with help from my mom (she drew all those red squares you see on PJ’s shirt) and while Kevin wrangled the kids on his own giving me uninterrupted time to sew and put all the pieces together. I even went so far as to craft a wig for Shaelyn, made out of orange yarn, but she is much to terrified of it to put it on. In fact, every time we come near her with it she takes off running in the opposite direction.

It was, indeed, hard to find time for all of our usual Halloween festivities while also attending to the work here on the farm. However, looking at it now, it facilitated in me letting go. Figuring out which traditions were truly important to us as a family and letting all the extraneous things just slip away, without the worry of whether the kids were missing out. It seems, just by living a lifestyle that comes with working a farm, simplicity automatically follows. You have no choice but to let go of the unnecessary because there are always more important things to be attended to, such as animals to be moved to new pasture before they find a way to escape to it on their own, water bins to be filled, eggs to be collected, and in the case of this week, structures to be rebuilt. All of this is yet another reminder that life is good since moving to this homestead, it looks quite different and, from the outside, much simpler than the one we lived before. Truth be told, we are just as busy (if not more) than we were a year ago and we (mostly me) are learning to inhabit each moment we have together rather than getting caught up in the breakneck pace.

For now the pumpkins are carved, the seeds await roasting, the house is decorated, the apples are candied and our little monsters are ready to hit the town and gather up their treats. The mess strewn about the house, the three piles of clean laundry that need to be put away, and the bins that those decorations came out of, which are still sitting in the middle of the dining room, will have to wait until tomorrow. After all, there is more important business to attend to.

We wish you all the most frighting of Halloweens filled with only the most adorable ghosts and goblins!

Autumn Surprises

Here are some beautiful sights we stumbled upon on the farm this week. A week that started off wet and dreary, then morphed into a replay of summer. Before we were done in the garden Friday afternoon, a cold wind started to blow in from the west and the mercury dropped 20 degrees within an hour. All standard operating procedure for autumn in Western New York.

We are now settling in and waiting to see what the hurricane might possibly deliver. We have heard everything from snow with freezing temperatures to gale-force winds or just a gentle rain shower. I am actually more than willing to welcome a week of weather that keeps us inside, to be together, rather than being strewn about these forty acres, sprinting to get all of our individual chores done before darkness or winter (depending on the nature of the current chore) sets in.

I think it is safe to say that we are all feeling tired and worn from running this marathon that is the first year of starting a homestead. However, there is plenty of beauty and joy, most often in the unlikeliest of places, sneaking up and grabbing us when we need it the most, keeping us motivated, looking and moving forward.

Here’s to Sandy changing her mind at the last minute and taking a sharp right-hand turn! And if she doesn’t? Well we will pick each other up and just keep running, together, toward our future.

I hope everyone stays safe and enjoys their last weekend of October.


Todays my birthday. I’m thirty. Funny, I don’t feel any different then I did yesterday. I was so sure that the day I turned thirty I would feel different, have an epiphany, know all the answers. At twenty I had a very different idea of what me, at thirty, was going to look like. I was apparently like every other twenty year old, a fool who thought they knew everything. Go figure.

I was never going to be thirty. I was going to relive twenty-nine over and over again. Twenty-nine on the 29th. You have to admit, it has a certain ring to it. And it would be no problem to get others to play along because, for a while, I could probably pull it off, thanks to good genes and my Mediterranean skin (oily might be a bitch in your teens but wrinkles will be a long ways off .) Once I did hit the inevitable time where things sagged, and I was obviously no longer in my prime, people would probably be too scared of the “Old, crazy lady” to refute my claim. Perfect, I could linger forever in my delusion.

Truth is I didn’t plan on this present, back when it was my future. I was supposed to be wearing high heels, not Muck Boots and designer jeans, not Carharts. I wasn’t supposed to be learning how to milk a cow, how to rid pigs of lice using nothing more the canola oil, or trying to calculate how much hay to buy for the winter, striking that balance of not spending money on more than we will use, while at the same time, not purchasing to little and inadvertently starving the sheep, seven of which should also be pregnant. (Note to self, you really, really need to make a decision on a ram , like yesterday!)

I wasn’t supposed to be trying to make all of our food from scratch. Hell, at one time, I had said that I wouldn’t even have time to make my (someday in the distance future) kids cookies, I would find a good bakery for that, since I would probably be much too busy working my über important job, all while being quite fabulous and going to quite fabulous places. Now, spending a Friday night with Kevin, making butter, trying out a new cheese recipe, or baking up some seasonal delight is my idea of fabulous.

Ten years ago I didn’t knit or spin. No reason to own sheep back then. I didn’t garden. I had only just begun to eat organically, and my locavore tendencies wouldn’t surface till about 5 years later. People who knew me ten years ago, probably wouldn’t recognize me now. I have been married to the love of my life, for almost 5 years (sorry Hun, but you weren’t even my type when I was twenty.) I have two littles, whom we parent so far outside the mainstream, and in a way that wasn’t even on my radar back then, that the weird looks and the “do you really want to do that” comments don’t even register any longer. We are living a life that I didn’t even know existed when I was twenty.

It took me thirty years to stumble upon the real me, the one that I created (finally embraced?) and come to find out, the twenty year old Laura was wrong, about almost everything. Thank goodness for that!

Welcome thirty. Let’s see how wrong we can be by the time forty rolls around.

Catching up

I had been tossing around the idea of starting this blog for awhile, as a way to chronicle all the goings on around here. I kept coming up with reasons to put it off, “I can’t come up with a good name, I don’t have extra time to sit down and write” and many other excuse that are too numerous to count. Thanks to constant bugging prodding from Kevin and gentle nudges from other friends and family, here it is. So, I needed to find a good way to catch everyone up on what has happened here on the farm since last November and this picture post is what I came up with. My hope is to be able to focus, in more detail, on the individual aspects of our homesteading life in the coming weeks. You know, in the spare moments between preschooler requests, toddler needs, animal chores, garden weeding and harvesting, food preserving, meal making and all the other “to-dos” that come with this simple life.

I’m also slowly working on the look of the blog and have been constantly tweaking it, so, if it seems to change every time you stop back you’ll know why.

Okay, here you go, the quick version of the past 9 months here on the farm. The amount of time it will take you to look through the photos is about how fast it felt while we were actually living it. Time flies and all that, ya know?

A little bit of our little prairie, covered in a morning frost.

Not long after moving in we discovered that there were gorgeous sunsets almost every night.

The first animals to arrive at the farm were the guinea fowl (above) and 10 Cayuga ducks. (Below)

During the heat wave, in March, we were able to get a head start on tilling up the garden and Dad’s hops yard, with help from our neighbor down the street.

The veggie garden, which we calculate to be about 2/3 of an acre, plowed, tilled and ready to be planted.

Planting peas, the first seeds to go in the garden of our new homestead.

The next arrival on the farm was Lilac, our someday dairy cow. We bought her from an organic dairy farmer, her farm happens to be right around the corner from us.

Next to arrive were the heritage breed piglets who will be pasture raised to market weight and then put in the freezer. Any extra meat, exceeding what we can eat in a year, will be sold.

Here are the first three, of our now 18, Shetland sheep. From Left to right, Hershey, Dessie and Hope. They are here not only to eat grass, giving Kevin and Dad a break from constantly mowing, but to also provided me with fiber to process and spin into yarn. Hopefully, this will make feeding my knitting habit much less expensive.

The growing garden in May.

Some of our laying hens outside the mobile coop that Kevin built for them. One hen has started to lay tiny brown eggs.

Free ranging on pasture will make for tasty and healthy eggs.

The first pullet egg next to Henrietta’s pale blue egg. Henrietta is the Americauna hen we inherited from the previous owner.

Some goodies, picked from the garden just a few days ago.

What’s new in your neck of the woods?

Here we go…

A view of the house, barns and livestock shelters from the ridge in the back pasture.

This first blog post, of mine, is an invitation of sorts. We want you to come with us on this new adventure of ours and the best part is we will be doing all the heavy lifting and poo hauling while you get to sit back, relax and enjoy your daily visits to the farm!

For quite a while, it has been a dream of Kevin’s and mine to start homesteading. To get back in touch with the earth, to know where our food comes from and to be sure that it only traveled the short distance from our backyard to our kitchen, not hundreds of miles like most store-bought goods. At the same time, my maternal grandfather had decided, that at 88 years old, he was ready to sell the home that he and my late grandmother had shared for over 50 years. My parents intended to share their home with him, if he agreed. After many discussions, weighing both the challenges and joys that would lay ahead, we decided to search for a large home with individual living spaces for all of us. A home, with enough land attached, that allowed us to pursue our need for a self-sustaining lifestyle. I hope that this blog will help keep our family and friends updated on our day-to-day experiences, no matter how busy this farm life becomes. I also wish for it to serve as a reminder, to myself, when the days get perticularly hard, how beautiful and blessed this life of ours truly is and to create a written journal for our children. A journal that will remind them of one wild adventure that their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparent, dove head first into, seeing the great promise that laid ahead and the wonderful memories that waited to be made.

I’m sure it’s not going to be easy but I guarantee there will be fun, moving, happy, trying, difficult and often hilarious moments. That’s life after all. So here we go…life in a big, crowded, house on our own little bit of prairie. Won’t you join us?