Saturday, August 18, 2018

2018 Growing Season of Change

You step out side and pull in a deep breath of air, filled with a whirling mix of aromas only found on a farm. You gaze up and search the sky. Another cloudy day. Your mind can't help but start to wander to all of the different things that need to be done today. The never ending list that seems to wrap tightly around you. Sometimes it brings comfort, but some days you feel like your being squeezed a bit too hard, you start to sweat a little and it becomes hard to breath. You can't move and you don't even know were to start. Close your eyes, quiet your mind and pray for the peace that only God can give. Wiggle free just a little and pick one thing on the list to begin your day. 

The 2018 growing season has brought so many days like this for me. There has been a wind of change blowing gently across the homestead. I can't put my finger on what has been so different this year but I've just had an off feeling for some time now. Our season was off to a slow start with a lot of unforeseeable complications. Nothing major just enough of a complication to move things along at a slower pace than we would prefer and set things just a bit behind schedule. We started the season with some big goals. Some of them included building a small cabin for volunteers, finishing our fencing project and building a much larger barn. Time has gotten away from us and these projects haven't made it very far and some have been abandoned all together. The strange and almost tangible feeling of uncertainty has swept into every part of everything that we do. 

Farm VS Homestead

We started this journey with a certain picture in mind. We wanted to homestead. To live a subsistence lifestyle and supplement it by growing crops and raising goats and chickens for milk and eggs. The idea was simple and small. Things slowly seemed to change for us until suddenly we realize we're no longer much of a homestead we're turning into a small family farm. Adding more and more livestock and bigger and bigger gardens. It's not a bad thing. If we had the dream of being farmers we would be on the right track, but that was never our dream. Livestock chores and constant upgrades don't leave much room for things like fishing and hunting. Growing a ton of crops doesn't leave much time for harvesting wild edibles like mushrooms and berries. It's a trade off, with only so much time in a day. Over the past few weeks we've really become aware of the way that things have changed. We've started to re-evaluate what we really want to accomplish and how we want to accomplish it.

So What Now?

Now we're looking at every little part of everything we do. Trying to decide what changes we can and should make. It's going to be a long slow process but we're putting a cap on our "farm" growth. It's time to work on making what we have more efficient so we have the time to do the other things that we want to do. We have to ask ourselves a lot of important questions like "Why again do we want to grow out a beef steer when we could get a moose (if we had time)?" A lot of this comes up because of where we live. If we lived down in the lower 48 growing the farm would most likely be the best way to go. It's not as easy to live a subsistence life style where hunting and fishing are more restricted and hunt permits are harder to get. Not that things can't change up here at some point. For now though why spend a small fortune raising a steer when there is a Moose out there eating a wild totally organic diet that we could potentially harvest. This is just an example of the many...many...many things we're thinking about and evaluating. I could write a whole book, I could call it "The Farm Trap" lol...

We still plan on finishing the fence to expand grazing area and building a small guest cabin. The Barn however will just be upgraded a bit, rather than torn down and re-built to 4 x the size like we were planning. That one change alone has taken a lot of pressure off. Not to mention most likely we would have eventually filled the extra stalls with more animals. There are many more things large and small that we have to re-evaluate. From daily activities, feed, and projects big and small.

I wish I could promise to update you all more often but that's always easier said than done. While it's easy to pop on for a few second with social media it's hard to find a half hour or more to stop, pause and write out a whole post. Remember you can always check in with us on Facebook were I drop photos and post updates more regularly.

We would appreciate some prayers that we make good choices with regard to changes in how we do things. What it all boils down to in the end is what's best for our children. They are after all our number one priority. I feel like their missing out on so much of what Alaska has to offer. They don't really remember the stuff that we did in the first few years because they were to little. They don't remember how we got to where we are now.

Wishing You All The Best

Daniel 2:21 And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: 

Friday, June 1, 2018

A New Kind Of Post

A new kind of post

I've never been any good at keeping a diary and so far my blog is no different. It's hard to find the time to sit down and write about what I've been doing because I'm always busy doing something else. So this post is going to be a little different. I want to talk a little about some of the things that I think about when I'm out working. Whether I'm milking or pulling weeds those quiet working moments are filled with so many thoughts about life, death, and everything in between. Here I'm going to share some of the things that have been through my mind recently.

Goats VS Cows on the small scale farmstead

Up until last summer we only had goats. I love my goats. Ken on the other hand is less than impressed with them. To me they are sweet, curious, fun and clean. I was not prepared for how different a cow would be. To me they smell worse. Some other things I didn't really expect: they aren't as clean, they drool, they have tongues like sand paper, they have no problem laying in their own poop. My goats have always been pretty easy to care for. Their stalls needing a clean out every couple of weeks or so depending on how much time they spend inside. The cow stall MUST be mucked out EVERY day or she will wallow in her own poo. With the goats there was a nice little pad of dry hay that developed by the hay feeder and they had well worn trails around the yard. The heavy cow has turned the area around the feeder and those trails to a muddy mucky mess. The goats are much, much easier on the ground but much harder on your trees as they love to strip the bark off, especially in the spring and fall. The shear quantity of the cows wet poo and all her pee oh my gosh it is just crazy. The goat poop is dry and they don't pee nearly as much and will often leave the barn to pee rather than pee in their stalls. The one good thing is the cow seems to have picked one corner of her stall that she likes to pee in. If that were not the case I have no idea how I would keep any clean dry bedding in her stall. The two big advantages to having a cow will be the extra milk and cream that can be used in more ways than the goats milk. Also, dealing with a single calf that is meant to be beef as apposed to triplets and twins from each doe that will then have to be re-homed or butchered (not much meat). Our cow Peaches had her calf in January it was supposed to be sexed bull calf semen but instead she had a large heifer calf who we named Apples. We were hoping for an easy first calving for both our cow and ys but no such luck. The calf was huge and we had to help pull her. Milking has been a HUGE challenge with the cow, The goats were so simple. With the goats I would just take them from their stall to the milk stand one at a time. Then I could give them a little grain and get to milking. If they gave me trouble I could tie their legs. When they were done I could put them outside or back into the stall no big deal. With the cow because we don;t have a large enough milking area she has to be milked in her stall. That means mucking it out first. She is also a major kicker so I've been having to milk her one handed while holding the bucket in the other hand. I do one teat at a time and milk into a smaller bucket that I then dump into a bigger bucket. Not only does she kick with her back legs but she will use her front feet to kick up debre at me and into the bucket. She also smacks me in the face with her tail which is extra fun when it has poop on it. Oh, here's another one, it's a lot easier to lead train a goat and your less likely to be drug screaming through the woods. This hasn't happened yet but it's often in the back of my mind. She is a big girl and that size and strength has to be respected. I have to say though she is almost as sweet as the goats and the longer we have her the more we are forming bonds. Her baby Apples is supper sweet and the kids have decided they are going to train her to be a riding cow. Yes, they rode the goats but they are too heavy now for that. I should also mention that the cow consumes WAY more hay than the goats so if you have to haul your hay from a distance like we do this can be a big factor. 

In summary my personal recommendation for the small homestead, farmstead or off grid farm I would recommend goats as apposed to cattle. I would however suggest that you plan well for what you will do with all those extra goat kids. Buy good quality, clean tested registered stock if you plan to sell the kids. Be responsible when re-homing, many re-homed goats are used as bait for fighting dogs. If you want to eat them consider a boar or other meat type buck so that the kids will have more meat on them and be more worth your time to butcher. 

Taking a Life

This has always been a hard one for me and something that I think about very often. It is a sad reality of farming with any kind of Livestock. If you plan to have them for meat you will have to face the deed. Even when you don't plan on eating them there will still come a time at some point in your farming life that you will have to make the choice to put an animal down. Lets face it just like children you can't watch them all the time. Just like children you can't stop them from getting hurt or sick no matter how well you care for them things just happen. The more animals you have the higher the likely hood that something will happen. For an example my son's favorite laying hen. He went in to close the chickens up for the night and came out screaming for help. His hen was walking around with her guts hanging out of her vent. We can only guess that she most likely had a prolapse while laying an egg and the other hens pecked and pulled at it pulling her insides out. Needless to say their was nothing we could do but put her down. It was heart wrenching and my son mourned the loss of his friend. There are options if you have meat animals. If you leave near a slaughter house you may have the option of taking your animals to them to be processed. There are also mobile butchers in some areas that will come to your property and do the deed for you. Most often though folks choose to take care of this process themselves as we do. In our family Ken is usually in charge of slaughter and we all work together to clean and process. There have been many occasions however when Ken was not available and I have had to put an animal down myself. Luckily so far it has only been birds. I still find the act of taking a life to be very hard. However you do it don't ever loose site of the fact that these are living things. They feel stress and fear and don't want to die. It is important to not loose respect for their sacrifice and to treat them with compassion and dignity right up to the end. The process should be as stress free as possible, fast and humane. The approach may vary from animal to animal. Do your research on the best approach for the animal you will be dispatching. I highly recommend looking into The Farmstead Meatsmith for pigs. Also be away of your other animals and how they may react to what is going on. Some animals are more sensitive than others. 

In summary prepare, do your research, and treat your animals with respect and compassion. 

I hope my thoughts on these topics get your wheels spinning. If you are interested in my thoughts or experiences on some other aspect of small off grid farming let me know. We are learning as we go so these are just my thoughts, experiences and opinions. Please do your own research on topics of interest using these as a jumping off point. I'm just hoping they will give you something to consider, maybe spark an idea that you hadn't thought of yet. 

All the Best my friends,

Matthew 13:31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:Matthew 13:32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Pre-Spring is in full swing.

So we're in Pre- Spring mode. This means that even though we are still dealing with winter and snow we have to start planning for the spring. Spring for us means breakup. Lots of melting snow and mud. mud, and more mud. Not to mention standing puddles and flooding because the water can't sink into the still frozen ground. So much to do that we are keeping very busy.

I've started my plant starts. So far I've done tomatoes and peppers. Here are the varieties that I'm planting this year.


Indigo Cherry
Gold Nugget
Yellow Pear
White Cherry
Speckled Roman OG
Verona F1 OG
Pozzano F1 OG
Amish Paste OG
Granadero F1 OG
Early Jalapeno
Hungarian Hot Wax OG
Numex Joe E Parker OG
Purple Star
Alma Paprika
Long Cayenne
Leeks King Richard 18 03/03/17

Gevaria F1 18 03/03/17
Brussel Sprouts

Catskill 18 03/03/17

Meet Peaches! Peaches is going to be our new family milk cow. She's a Brown Swiss and is currently waiting to be AI'd. Once she is confirmed bred she'll get to come home to Sweet Homestead Alaska.

Soon I will be cranking up the incubator. April will bring 4 weaner piglets and 4 hives of Buckfast bees. Because we're switching over to a cow we didn't breed any of our goats this winter. I'm really going to miss having baby goats jumping all over the place.

Chocolate Chip peppermint cake with chocolate mouse frosting.

The kids celebrated their birthdays together this year all on one day. 

Lisa Worked hard with Nonnie to make these Lap Quilts for the Boys.

Wyatt is his SWAT gear.
Ken's Custom Truck Build is really coming along. It was hard to get good pictures after he'd been welding and grinding in there. 

Just want to give a little shout out to my Beachbody coach Jenny Morgan of Faith.Farm.Fitness  If your looking for an at home exercise program she can help you find one that's right for you. Then she can hook you up with a challenge group that will help keep you motivated to keep up with the workout and stay on point eating a clean and healthy diet. I've used Beachbody programs in the past because I like to get in some extra cardio inside in the winter. This winter I wanted something new and I needed some motivation and support. I found Jenny a fellow Christian, Homesteading, Homeschooling mom and I am so thankful. I started with my first round of Core De Force and one of Jenny's challenge groups. I'm now on week 3 of round 2 of Core De Force and in the Graduate Challenge group and loving it. It's one thing to loose weight there are a million gimmicks and plans that can help you with that but then your either stuck using some supplement or you end up rebounding. Real results happen slow and aren't about being skinny. Their about being the strongest healthiest you that you can be! The only way to get there is learning to eat healthy, get plenty of exercise and find balance in your day. 

Your body is God's Temple don't let it fall apart! 

1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 

1 Corinthians 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Happy New Year and Welcome to 2017

Happy New Year Everyone!!!

I hope that everyone had an amazing holiday season and that you're all geared up for 2017.

We had a really fun New Years complete with hot dogs roasted over a bonfire, smore's, funky flames and fireworks. Great food and Great friends. I wish I had taken out my camera but not sure I would have had much luck with pictures in the dark.

So we finally got some snow after waiting and waiting with only a few inches on the ground. Then it warmed up to 35*f and rained! Soooo... the top of the snow turned to ice. Luckily we've had a few more inches not to go on top of it. It's been a weird winter so far with crazy temps weird snow fall and lots of wind.

We have a lot on our list for 2017. Not resolutions just a long TO DO list. On top of that list is getting a cow and selling some of our goats. That makes me sad I love my goats. We have some new ideas for things we want to grow and it's time to inventory my seeds and place some seed orders. We want to do some pasture fencing and make some upgrades and repairs.

On a more personal note I'm working with an amazing group of ladies including my sister and lead by Beachbody Coach Jenny Morgan, with the common goal of improving our over all health. Not just doing some fad diet but making a lot of little changes to improve our health and that of our families. It's going to be a lot of fun learning and sharing ideas. My mom, Donna and I have already been doing Stronger Seniors and we're all seeing improvement in our over all strength and balance. We've been doing it for around 2-3 months now.

A big part of my journey will be learning portion control and meal planning. Here is a picture of my portion control containers and my planners as well as our week one menu.

I am LOVING my new planner and would highly recommend it to my fellow farm/homestead ladies. It's called the "2017 Heart of The Farm Planner". It's a great tool for not only household tracking but also farm tracking, goals, and meal prep/planning.

Come fall I hope to do even more preserving of foods from our gardens and high tunnel to make sure that we have healthy veggies available year round We did pretty good this year and so far we have enough of most things to get us through the winter.

Well, Welcome to 2017 and I hope that every one has a year full of blessing.

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. Psalm 139:14

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Countdown

Hello Everyone,

Our family is all geared up and ready for Christmas. Here is a glimpse into some of our family Christmas traditions.

First we don't do Santa. I know shocking right my poor kids. I don't like to lie to my kids so we never gave gifts from Santa or promoted him as a real person. They still put out cookies and milk for "Santa" but they know that Santa is Daddy. Here's another BIG shocker we don't push Christmas as Christ's birthday either. Why? Because we feel that Christ's birth is something that should be celebrated year round. Soooo, for us Christmas is a Holiday about family, giving, and reflecting on how we can be better givers and be kinder to one another throughout the year. We have fun and enjoy the season. We talk a lot about things like Santa and the birth of Christ but it's more like a history lesson. We look at were our modern traditions come from and how they have changed into what we see in the world today. We talk about how it is celebrated differently in other countries and cultures around the world. We also don't do the elf on a shelf.

So what do we do? First of all we cut and decorate a tree with ornaments that Great Grandma Rose sends for the kids every year, plus some homemade ones.

We Make Cookies usually Crinkles and Sugar Cookies.

We do a 12 days til Christmas countdown. It usually includes things like free hot cocoa day or Make Christmas gifts for the animals day. Today we will be having a picnic by the Christmas tree. We have little bags on a string numbered 1-12 and each one has a little note in it on what we get to do special that day.

Christmas Eve the kids put out Cookies and Milk or Eggnog

Christmas morning we usually start off with Home Made Doughnuts. See Recipe in the recipe tab. Then we open our Christmas stockings. Those are also a family tradition going back generations. Everyone in our family has one hand made especially for them using a pattern that has been handed down. My Nana used to make them, now my mom makes them and someday I will take over. They are made for each new baby born or new husband or wife who joins the family. Then we go and do our morning chores and pass out our gifts to all the animals. Then we come back in and open gifts. Later in the morning the rest of the family here on the homestead comes down and joins us and we exchange gifts, watch movies, eat cold sandwiches and a finger food buffet.

The Kids took part in the annual Christmas play at the church yesterday. Then we all enjoyed the great food at the potluck after and of coarse ate way to much :)

Merry Christmas!

Let us remember not one day a year but every day.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour , which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Tis The Season

Hello and Good Day,

This week was yet another busy one. We had the Manley Hot Springs Sally Hudson Crafter's Guild Christmas Store on Saturday. The rest of the week involved getting ready and putting final touches on our craft projects that we would be selling. Lisa made more of her quilted trivets and the boys made more of their peg games. I made a few small crochet items and did some baking. 

Ken has been hard at work on his truck build. We moved the cab from his black truck onto the dually frame. It was quit the ordeal. It took Ken, Darryl, Ian, September and I to move it safely. Donna, my Mom and the kids all got to watch, cheer us on and bite their nails as we moved it over. 

Before on it's original frame

After Black cab moved onto heavier dually frame
Ken Mangled his thumb making the new body mounts. We're watching it closely. I really wish we had a suture kit on hand suitable for human use.

The picture is 3 days after. Right after it happened the one side looked like hamburger. 

We're gearing up for the Christmas season. Yesterday we went out and cut down a tree. This morning it's up and warming up. The kids are hoping to decorate it this evening. If we tried to put the ornaments on the cold branches they would snap off. We're pulling some of the other decorations out of the Christmas tote and putting them up around the house. 


Our big plans for this week include lots of school to make up for the time we took off for Thanksgiving. Not because we feel like we have to cram but because we have some super fun projects coming up that we're looking forward to. 

Lisa just finished her first chapter book. "Little House in the Big Woods". Now she's doing a book report and she's started the second book in the series. 

We're doing American History this year. We started with the Native Americans and we have just recently moved on to the first Colonies. 

For Science we're doing Astronomy. 

Math is Teaching Textbooks.

We also do Bible study and we're learning Swedish as well as still learning some basic sign language. 

Language Arts is a custom curriculum blend based around reading actual books. 

Art we really like the Homeschool Art Studio series. Plus we do seasonal crafts. 

Lisa is doing Quilting with Nonie for Home Ec. The boys are doing wood shop/mechanics with Ken.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6

Monday, November 28, 2016


Butchering young Turkeys

Hello All,

Again it has been way to long since my last post. We had an insanely busy spring that just seemed to keep on rolling with very little time to settle in at the computer and type much of anything. Even e-mails and facebook posts have been short, sweet, few and far between. We also missed out on most of the fun local events that we usually attend. It would be pretty much impossible to talk about everything that happened over the past several months but I'll try to hit on some of the highlights. 
The least complicated birth of the Season.Iris and her triplets Luke, Bo and Daisy
Turkey Hen with 11 babies under her.

Our kidding season was the most difficult one we have ever  had with soooo many challenges and so much loss. We got a huge batch (over 100) of heavy breed cockerels in place of our usual meat birds and that was also a huge flop. They were unhealthy from the start, we had huge losses and the birds were so small at butcher that it was not worth the food that they ate. A hard lesson to learn. Thank goodness God was looking out for us and we ended up with an abundance of baby turkeys. Many of which we sold as poults. Others were butchered young and replaced the fryers that we lost. Still others were raised and butchered just before Thanksgiving. We may not have much chicken in the freezer but we have plenty of Turkey. 2 of our 3 pigs did really well. The third did ok it just didn't grow as big as the other 2. They were also butchered about a week before Thanksgiving and were processed out over a few days. We try to make use of everything we can. I even made head cheese for the first time this year. 

Pork Steak
Making Sausage with our new Meat Grinder that we got as an early Christmas gift from Donna. 
Head Cheese!
Raw Hide Chews for the dogs.

The high tunnel performed well again this year and we had a wonderful abundant harvest. The only thing that didn't do well was the corn and I'm still not sure what happened there. We had basically a small crop circle in the middle of the corn and of coarse what fell did not produce. The potato garden also did well and produced a LOT of potatoes for us again this year. The bees were a flop again this year. When hiving we lost a queen. Then we had a spring swarm which I caught and re-hived. We ended up with 5 hives and only got about 4 gallons of honey. Very disappointing. 

We had some great helpers here this spring and summer. My cousin Cole came and stayed with us for a couple of months in the spring and was a huge help getting everything set up for the growing season. To add blessing to blessings Cole accepted Christ while attending Rock Crossing Bible Camp here in Alaska.  Then we hosted our first wwoofer Stephanie. What an amazing experience! We could not have asked for a better first wwoofer. She is an amazing, smart and wonderful person, a true joy to be around. We worked hard and had fun. She will always be a part of our family from here on out and we hope that she will be able to come back and work with us again or just come for a visit. 

Stephanie Milking Lilly

Me, Stephanie, Wyatt and Oak checking hives

Relaxing in front of the fodder house enjoying hot dogs and s'mores 


Our biggest structural change this summer was the addition of a well!! We now have our own water and don't have to haul it from Manley any more. There is still no plumbing from the well so once a week or so we hook up a hose and filter and pump water into all our storage tanks. We also got a tankless propane water heater so we can now take a nice long hot shower! Yippee! All our plumbing is located in the fodder house/bath house. The cabin is still dry with a small tank that hooks to the sink for washing dishes and the tanks on the back of the wood stove for hot water. 

We were on TV this fall. This summer the cast and crew of the Animal Planet show Dr. Dee Alaska Vet came out and did a clinic at our house. So...our family was on the season 2 episode 7 called Farm Frenzy. I do NOT envy people who are on these kinds of shows. It's extremely hard to get anything done while they are filming. Having to repeat yourself all the time and having people in and out and all over your place. Don't get me wrong they were all really nice people just not very considerate of farm life. Leaving doors and gates open, going were asked not to go etc...

So here we are ending out November. We had a wonderful laid back family Thanksgiving with great food.  The school craft bazaar is done. The butchering is all finally done, school is in full swing and we are impatiently waiting for more snow so we can start running the sled dogs. The Crafter's guild Christmas store is coming up on December 3rd so we're getting some more stuff made to replace what we sold at the school Bazaar. Lisa is learning how to quilt from Donna and did well selling her quilted trivets. The boys are learning woodworking with daddy and have been making peg games, they also sold well.  

Lisa's Lap Quilt

Boys bear face peg game, They also have triangle ones and bear and moose profiles.

Now we're getting ready for Christmas and today I recorder the coldest temps so far for the season -33* f. Oh...did I mention that we now have an NOAA Co-Op Observer weather station on site? I record and report each days 24 hour totals (high, low, temp at observation, precipitation amounts, snow depth, 24 hour snow fall etc..). Today's 
Observation timeNovember 28, 2016 at 08:00AM
Observation typedaily (24 hr values/totals)
Max temperature0 degrees F
Min temperature-33 degrees F
At observation-32 degrees F
Precipitation0.02 inch
Multi-day AccumulationNo
Snowfall0.1 inch
Snow depth3 inch
Observation period weather


What I'm hoping to do from here out is to try to update once every week or two. I need to try to set aside a time. They will be shorter posts but more often. As I pull out my garden records I still plan to share with you all the varieties that did well for us this year. We lost over 80 plant starts this spring to the goats when they got into our front entry while we were gone visiting a neighbor so that put a crimp in some of my garden plans and record keeping. I'm also hoping to make a small e-book with some easy from scratch recipes, stories and advice to people considering going off grid. Not sure how long that will take but it's a goal. We're hoping to find a way to raise some funds to purchase fencing supplies. We're hoping to be able to fence off the old runway and turn it into a field for grazing and ultimately get .......drum role please......A MILK COW! Fencing supplies tend to be pretty pricey up here so it's a long term goal, but hoping for sooner rather than later. 

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57 KJV