Big news from the homestead, we have pigs for sale! 2 ways to buy:
1.) Feeder Pigs for sale. Weaned and ready to go to their new home around mid-August. E-mail to get details and reserve your pig. $100 per each.
2.) Pasture Raised Pork for sale. Whole pigs for sale. Our happy hogs are raised on pasture, eating grasses, local vegetation and happily rooting and rolling around. To support their growth they are supplemented with hay and hog feed. The expected date for our 2018 harvest is early December. Butcher dates are reserved for: December 11, 2018 and December 18, 2018. You can get the details and information on how to reserve yours here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/15dstxO9mJr3N4hze4HaMeh_nPeLJNMBmAXGcgKNghA4/edit?usp=sharing
We are located in the Lake Linden, Michigan area. Feeder pigs will be ready to be purchased by mid-August, but you can reserve yours now, just send us an e-mail.
Today’s is Groundhog Day! The kids and I watched the famous “Punxsutawney Phil” make his prediction. He predicted 6 more weeks of winter! Man, the crowd there in Pennsylvania was disappointed. From our research though, historically he’s only been 20% accurate, so don’t place any bets on his prediction – ha!
Readers to our blog live in various places, so I’m sure there are many differing ideas about what winter has been like and if it would be nice if it continued. I realize this is only our first winter here on the Keweenaw Peninsula (47th parallel north), but we’ve been loving it. It’s nice to live in a place where winter isn’t just cold with a little bit of snow here and there, but a place where it’s mild (okay, cold sometimes too), but has enough snow to truly enjoy the beauty of a white and sparkly snowy winter. The best of our winter has been snowshoeing around our own property, and finding various routes to Lake Superior on snowshoe. Winter has been very busy for us otherwise and we haven’t spent nearly the time we have wanted to snowshoeing.
Our recent homestead projects included a few things that have me thinking about summertime.
1.) We’re still enjoying squash after squash that were harvested from the garden this past Autumn. They are so sweet and delightful and I’ve been preparing them in many different ways. The squash we grew this summer were spaghetti squash and buttercup squash. We are planning on more variety in the upcoming summer. One of my favorite recipes to make is 3 Sisters Soup.
The jam tastes like the summer sun! Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit in saying that, but it’s GOOD!
3.) I pickled carrots. There was a good deal on carrots at the grocery store and I was in the mood for something a little different so I made a few jars of refrigerator carrots. I did an experiment using my simple refrigerator pickle recipe; I tried apple cider vinegar for one batch and regular white vinegar for another. The family favorite was the white vinegar.
5.) Another recent project we’ve been working on is our family Nature Journal. It’s part of our homeschooling and we try for at least one entry a week. Today Flora made an entry inspired by Groundhog Day. It went as follows:
The warning came a day in advance so the morning before we hustled and bustled to get all the final details ready for a big snow. This included mostly:
1.) (Tim) Fixing the steering on the tractor so that it can be used to snowblow. All the parts came in the day before and Tim spent the cold evening in the garage making the repair.
2.) (Lisa) Panicking about how much wood we need to have inside in case the storm hits for days. I hauled in bin after bin.
3.) (Lisa) Completing the bags of winter emergency items to be kept in each vehicle through the winter. This included extra hats, scarfs, mittens, snacks, flashlights, blankets, and rags. Final supplies were sorted and completed the evening before.
The few odds and ends that we had on our minds were completed before the storm – SUCCESS!
Well, the storm came and dumped a whopping inch. Yes, ONE inch. Oh man, I was having such a laugh at myself about my storm prep anxiety. (About 20 miles from here it did snow 7+ inches, we just lucked out!) But, I am also thankful it was only an inch, it made for a slower transition to winter and also some beautiful scenery and bird watching (the birds were busy preparing with many visits to our bird feeders).
The snow stopped, but some fairly nasty weather conditions continued and that’s where the success portion of our winterizing ended. The wind picked up considerably and the temperature dropped to around 15 degrees. No matter what I did to keep the wood stove hot, I simply couldn’t keep myself warm throughout the yurt. The temperature outside was dropping and so was the temperature inside. At 59 degrees inside, I started to panic..how exactly are we going to be keeping ourselves warm this winter?
After the kids went to bed, Tim and I worked together to assess what the heck was going on. The wood stove is performing just fine, so why the super cold? Since we just moved in June, this is our first winter here. Yes, it’s new construction and should be well insulated (which it is), but also we need to keep in mind that living in a yurt is a non-traditional home, so perhaps we’d need to do some better work on winterizing along with coming up with unique solutions for winterizing.
First, we felt around for drafts, and yes, we found some.
Second we used our infrared thermometer to check the temperature on varying parts of the yurt: floor, block wall, windows, walls, ceiling and dome.
Doing so, we found 3 spots that seemed to be leaking cold air. The culprits included the threshold on one door, the space where the walls meet the sloped ceiling, and the space where the window dome meets the ceiling.
Time to get to work.
First, the threshold on the doorway is adjustable, so Tim quickly eliminated that draft.
Second, Tim used rope caulk to stuff the tiny space between the walls and ceiling. He also adjusted some pieces in our ceiling planks and double checked for any settling in the insulation that may have left gaps.
Lastly, the space around the dome has been caulked.
The temperature outside has risen about 10 degrees and the wind has calmed , so we aren’t working with exactly the same conditions, but so far we have recognized a much less drafty home, and the ability to hold a comfortable temperature between 66 and 68 has become fully and easily attainable.
We are looking at a few more changes on our secondary heating system, which is in-floor (for more efficiency and cost savings), adding an eco-fan to our woodstove to help push heat around along with implementing some indoor changes to help trap heat in and keep cold out.
These adaptations we’ve had to make the past few days I believe are part of the adventure of yurt living in the Keweenaw Peninsula! With a positive homesteading attitude, simple home repair knowledge, and creative problem solving, we can keep moving ahead rather than getting stuck in a situation we don’t know how to fix. For a moment I had a sort of “the sky is falling” attitude, but then I remembered this quote I had heard a while back: “Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” – Salvador Dali. In other words, there is no perfection. Work with the moment, do the best you can, and relish the fun in finding solutions to problems.
Any low-budget tips you can share with us on keeping warm all winter? We want to hear! Comment here on the blog or on our Facebook page.
One benefit of buying and building on raw wooded land is that it’s growing wild. One downfall of buying and building on raw wooded land is that it’s growing wild. We love how untamed and natural our woods are, yet, as we began to wander around the closest areas to our yurt where we need to keep areas and pathways accessible, we started to see certain sections that could use a trim.
At the end of the path to our yurt, there was a huge, gnarly patch of pin cherry growing. This is where we decided to store our wood, so that patch of pin cherry would need to be removed.
The view from our kitchen table to the garden and chickens was a mixed patch of tag alder and pin cherry. Once we realized how much this obstructed our view, this patch would be better removed.
Once the roses along the path to our yurt came in full bloom, we recognized how many wild plums were growing in that patch. They were not growing in a manner that would allow them to produce fruit nicely, so we decided to thin that out. The outcome would give us a much more favorable view of the beautiful roses.
There were no large trees in any of these areas, so it was more like clearing out a lot of branches that are growing out of the ground.
It was time for me to get to work, which went like this:
put on work clothes, bug spray, and sunscreen (necessary starting point for all homesteading tasks)
use chainsaw or use pruners to drop the branches, get Tim’s assistance in areas I was not comfortable with (look, I’m a novice chainsaw operator….at least for now)
drag branches out of the area
manicure the branches – branches large enough for fire wood were kept, twigs were not saved so I had to pile them up in another wooded area creating a brush pile for wildlife (more on this, keep reading)
enlist help from Flora to drag twigs and branches to the brush pile (she was great!)
stack any longer logs for further cutting into a size for burning
regret not wearing long sleeves, especially after the wild plums were are full of thorns
The outcome? Cleared space, two heaping brush piles for wildlife, small amount of firewood, and hundreds of small scratches all over my arms.
So, what’s with the wildlife brush piles? Instead of burning or chipping up the wood, why not create a little haven for our animal friends? According to yardmap.org: “Wildlife need snug hiding places like those found in log or brush piles, and we don’t just mean birds. Butterflies overwinter in them, rabbits seek shelter there, snakes hunt for rodents and invertebrates in their cover, and chipmunks conceal their seed cache in their depths. If snags are nature’s apartment buildings, then brush piles are her hotels.”
We’ve also seen that deer chew on them in winter and use them to rub antlers. In just a few years, the brush pile breaks down to a point of barely even being able to tell that it existed. In the first few days of our brush pile, the kids and I watched a family of chipmunks play in the brush pile and eat the pin cherries that were still forming on some of the cut branches.
The next big project? Start hauling wood from around the property to our new wood storage area. Perhaps I’ll choose long sleeves for this project. 🙂
Hear ye, hear ye. Or, perhaps since we now live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan it should be, “Ya Der Hey, Ya Der Hey!” Really, I write that with nothing but love for the stereotypical “yooper” accent.
Well, we made the leap in our decision (read more here if you missed it), and now we are officially moved from Wrightstown, WI to the beautiful Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan. As with any move, there were a lot of details. But I’ll spare you. Here are the amazing highlights:
We had a going away party. Friends and family showed up. We ate good food, had good stories, and made new memories. It was a great send-off.
I finished my last day at work (after almost 13 years) and was surprised with an AMAZING 30-minute “The Office” themed going away video. What an thoughtful project completed by co-workers. I was feeling the love, big time – still am. Thank goodness for technology to keep in touch. Final day selfie stick photo below.
I had a great final lunch with Joe and Danica, the owners of Prophit Marketing. They have provided me an amazing experience and wonderful work family over the past 12+ years.
Flora finished off her almost 3 year run with Conquer Martial Arts by being part of the Little Chute Cheesefest Parade (yes, this is a festival…..about cheese). She’s excited to start her new karate school here in the Copper Country.
Our home was sold! Insert HUGE sigh of relief. We hope this home and neighborhood is everything to the new couple moving in that it has been to us. We will miss that amazing Fox River view and access, but we’ve moved on to something better suited for us 🙂 If you need a realtor in the Green Bay or Fox Valley area, call the guy below (Mike Pritzl). He was so diligent, honest, and organized. Thank you Mike!
We packed and packed and packed and…..
But it got done, and on Friday, 6/9/17, off we went!
About 5 hours later we arrived and promptly unpacked.
We are still finishing up some odds and ends of unpacking, so future post to be made on how our yurt looks inside as our home and not a construction zone 🙂
It hasn’t been even a week yet, but I can say, it feels right. Today, Flora said “I’m so glad we moved here.” Ditto my love. Ditto.