Homestead Happenings Autumn 2022
Updated: Jan 16
Welcome to my little quarterly update blog post where I’ll share some highlights from around our home + property! Here, I’ll be sharing a highlight reel of projects, life events, and other pertinent musings to recap the month we had as a family.
STARTING A BLOG
I kicked off the month with the launch of my blog website. This was a massive project, years in the making, and a huge goal of mine finally accomplished. Many long, late nights and early mornings were spent at our dining room table typing and editing away as I worked to put together the first batch of blog posts, recipes, graphics and photos for the launch of the site.
And oh my goodness the response has blown me away.
THANK YOU for all of the wonderful support, enthusiasm, and love on this website. From the amazing recipe reviews, personal emails and DMs, to the re-shares on social media to tell your friends and family about my little corner of the internet. You all are THE ACTUAL BEST and I’m so grateful.
Starting a website has been such a boost in my personal relationship with content creation. Not having to swim upstream against a shady algorithm or clickbait culture (*cough youtube*) has been refreshing and dare I say “fun!” I look forward to continuing to share cozy, simple-living content here as the weeks and years go on!
I would be remiss in not thanking my hubby Weston for all the love and support, my amazing site designer Kaleigh, my brother Luke who does some writing for me, and my photographer Britiny. Without these people, this site would have never gotten off the ground and I'm so grateful for their amazing work and friendship.
1 YEAR HOME ANNIVERSARY!
On October 10th, we celebrated 1 year of living in this beautiful place. And what a full, whirlwind of a year it has been! As I look back over what we’ve been able to accomplish with completely remodeling this fixer-upper home, planting our first garden, exploring the woods of our property and doing some deep, extensive landscaping and other projects, I’m left feeling a bit tired and more than a bit grateful. We're so thankful for where God has lead us.
Watching our kiddos explore and adventure on this homestead, learn gardening skills, and how to relate to and care for animals (our rescue kitties) has been some of the most rewarding and heartwarming experiences throughout this year.
There were so many ups and downs along the way. Unexpected additions to our endless renovations to-do list, expensive and extensive repairs, and many, many hours of back-breaking labor all proved to be character and skill-building opportunities for both myself and Weston.
Sometimes things ARE best left to the professionals and experts, but other times, the value of learning to do it yourself is not just quantified in the money you save but also in the confidence and skills you acquire.
We had a good bit of renovation and home ownership experience before taking on these projects, but many of those skills were tested and then expanded upon in this first year here! Take a more in-depth look at these projects in my House To Home series!
We’ve added plumbing, millwork, flooring installation, tiling, tractor and small engine repair, swing set and woodshed building, gardening and more to our list of “expertise.” And while we are no where near being actual experts in these areas, the confidence that has been built as we’ve learned these skills and continue to hone them has been nothing short of fulfilling and quite valuable.
This month for us was uncharacteristically warm and sunny. Octobers in western Washington typically come in and go out like a lion. But this year, Seattle tied the record for the most days 70 degrees and over in the month of October. Typical temps here are in the mid 40s to 50s during the day so this was downright balmy for us!
And we saw this as a perfect opportunity to finish the landscaping and planting of our back yard. Weston had been regularly visiting the area behind our house with our tractor to clear brush, saplings, and push back the boundary of the “wild” area in this region of our acreage.
The “yard” when we first moved here was cramped, overgrown and full of uneven ground. An abandoned garden stood at the edge of a dense wall of blackberry brambles and there was little room to throw a ball or frisbee without the risk of losing it into the abyss.
We had been working since early spring either by hand or by tractor to clear the invasive weeds and carve out a wide-open area to run around or picnic in! Little by little, the space was taking shape. More outdoor projects featured in this series on my channel!
When we saw the extended forecast in early October we knew we had an extremely rare, short window of opportunity to get the ground graded, raked and seeded before the threat of frost and downpours. It was risky as an unexpected early frost could botch the whole plan and ruin the seeds/ tender shoots.
However, if the weather held, seeds sprouted and roots established, we would have our ground cover well underway and maturing through the winter, reducing the mud in the rain and snow and giving us an even more luscious turf by the time spring arrives.
After much research, we went with a highly-rated Kentucky bluegrass starter mix. It seemed to be the best option for quick initial growth, hardiness for a wide range of weather and temps as well as longevity in our particular yard. Clover is also part of the ground cover for our yard and will help create a great ecosystem and blooms for pollinators!
We planted the seed and held our breath as we waited for those first, tender sprouts. 9 days later it happened! We woke up to a light green “fuzz” on what was the day before, bare, rocky dirt.
Over the next several days of sunshine and watering from a sprinkler fed from our private well, we continued to see encouraging growth and filling in of what will be our backyard.
As I look out my window now in the last days of this month, I see the beginnings of the lush lawn that will continue to mature. I’m delighted to say the risk was worth it and I can’t wait until we can enjoy picnics and throw the football around in the yard that we worked so hard for!
SMOKE CLOUDS... RAIN CLOUDS
With the extra autumn sunshine came massive growth in our kitchen garden! As a first-time gardener I was surprised by an explosion of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cabbage, herbs (and of course, weeds!) We were so blessed by the abundance and the extra boost of gardening experience that our unexpected autumn harvesting gave us. What a treat!
Unfortunately, the extra sunshine and lack of rain also encouraged the spread of wildfires in the Cascade Mountains (about 70 miles away from us.) While we had it WAYYYY better than many regions, massive amounts of smoke and ash still made it out to our area.
Our API rating made it up to the 200s and with that came lung and sinus irritation, corrosive ash on our vehicles and buildings and an overall feeling of impending apocalypse.
The dirty orange canopy overhead and the billows of smoke blowing through our glen in the back few acres of our property were sights we won’t soon forget. We prayed often for those closer to the fires, displaced or evacuated and of course for the firefighters working to get the situation under control.
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It felt like we were just holding our breath for rain to finally come; a very unusual sentiment during a pacific northwest October. Many of our mealtime or bedtime prayers with our kids included, "Lord please make the rain come back.”
Thankfully the winds shifted, the weather pattern changed, and the rains came. We could finally turn off our sprinkler for the new grass and let the heavens pour down.
In just a weekend we had more rainfall than the whole summer combined. Our thirsty ground drank up the bounty, our gutters overflowed down the side of the house, the puddles returned to our driveway and our cats did NOT know what to think of the wet stuff suddenly splashing down from above (they had never experienced rain in their young lives.)
Now that precipitation has returned, it’s time to winterize the garden and harvest the last of the fruit of our labors! Just today we spent a lovely two hours in the autumn sunshine grabbing green tomatoes from their vines, twisting the last few zucchini out of their beds, pulling up the last of the radishes and ripping out the spent lettuces, chard and endive stalks.
The “waste” of this project was tossed into the trail head that leads down into our glen to help the bunnies and fawns finish their fattening up for the winter. All that remains in our no-dig beds are the herbs (which I’m hoping will last through the winter.)
I’m considering direct-sowing a few carrots, parsnips and rutabagas to see if we can harvest anything in the bleak midwinter. We shall see!
In the meantime, I processed the last of the zucchini and put the diced bits into freezer bags to be used in soups, stews, and banana breads.
A few peppers went into a taco bar we hosted for our church home group last night, and the green tomatoes are currently sitting in my grandma’s glass serving bowl on a sunny windowsill in our school room.
I followed my mom’s advice and grabbed those green tomatoes before it got too wet and cold outside and caused bottom rot.
The hope is that they will turn red while sitting on the windowsill. If not, it’s fried green tomatoes for a fun snack for the kids and me!
HONORABLE MENTIONS OF THE MONTH:
And that just about wraps up our month!
Tonight, we are having family over for Sunday Night Football and our yearly viewing of Disney’s Ichabod and Mr. Toad. The pumpkin seeds are roasting and my mom just reported a whopping 48 deviled eggs (a new record) she made for our yearly harvest get together and family time.
This a tradition that started when I was a wee one.
We’d have my grandparents over to listen to the aristocratic voice of Basil Rathbone as he narrates The Adventures Of Mr Toad and the all-too-familiar voice of Bing Crosby as he croons his way through the tale of Ichabod and his midnight jamboree in Sleepy Hollow. My siblings and I know every line and melody and look forward to enjoying it with our own kids decades after the tradition began.
As we close out October and head into November, the holiday season has its "soft open" in our home and I'm looking forward to the next couple of months filled with family, friends and the new memories we will make together.
Love and Hibiscus Everything,