A New Year

Wow!  Folks, it's 2019!  The fall and winter have just flashed by, and I don't think I've posted here in a couple of months!  Here's a quick recap of the latter part of this past year, and now that life has slowed a teeny bit, I hope to get back to at least once-monthly updates, and more of the single-subject posts as well.

This fall was a blur - I started vending at craft fairs this summer for the first time, and that went really well.  I attended 8, I think, from April to October, and virtually all of them were worth the time.  The only one that wasn't a gain financially, was a beautiful day and I took my spinning wheel and spun yarn literally the whole day - in that sense, it was probably worth the uninterrupted creating-time! 

Throughout the late summer and early fall, my Etsy shop was slowly picking up momentum, and paired with my craft fair sales, a lot more of my time was spent making soaps and lip balms, which I really enjoyed.  Throughout my life, I've needed to rotate between interests and what I spend my time doing, and it was actually refreshing to take a big step back from gardening, canning, etc and focus on something different for a time.  Last year, I set a goal of getting stocked up on soap for Christmas, and planned to be ready by, say, October.  Well, with the craft fairs, I hit October with less soap than ever, and struggled to get replenished fast enough for the holiday rush.  So - this coming year, I'm starting in March!  It seems I no longer have an "off-season" in soaping, similar to my gardening ever since we put in the hoophouse.  

In November, an article about us and the farm was published in The Daily Mail, and both my Etsy shop and this website saw a burst of activity that really didn't slow down until Christmas!  For the months of November and December, I basically worked full-time at my soap business, between making products, packaging, and packing orders, I didn't do a whole lot else.  By the time Christmas arrived, I was quite ready for a break, and after several weeks spent playing with the boys, making cookies, and doing some fun projects like candle-making, I'm finally feeling recharged, and ready to get back in the swing of things again.

Caleb has been pretty busy this fall as well, doing most of the cooking and virtually all the laundry and such.  He's been working about 1 day a week as a PA, which has been just amazing honestly, and we're really impressed that the bank account has pretty well held steady for the last 1.5 years of him largely not working.  It's making us realize just how little we really need an outside paycheck - his goal is to only work 2 days a month so that his certifications don't expire, and that may not be very far down the road!  

He spent a good bit of time this fall putting in underground waterlines from our rainwater tank at the barn, out to a couple of points in the pastures so that we can much more easily water animals in the coldest parts of the year.  He also finally got our original shipping container "garage" cleaned out and moved up next to the barn, and hopefully later this month we can get a roof put over that, connected to the barn, as a matching wing to the first one we did last year.  That would double the space we have to store hay under shelter - the existing barn holds about half of our winter's needs.  This also does wonders for our storage of things like the recycling, camping gear, animal feed, gardening supplies, old furniture, etc that were previously an unmanageable tangle in the container.  We could still use a few more shelves, but just the cleaning really helped organize and categorize everything into a functional storage space.  

Caleb has also spent time stockpiling firewood.  Over the last couple of years, our supply has dwindled to virtually nothing, and we'd really prefer 1-3 years-worth of wood stored up.  He's finally found a reliable source of actually seasoned firewood, and has taken every opportunity to get as much as possible, and split and stack it.  We'd love to be able to continue clearing our own woods of cull trees, but at this point we just don't have the time.  Maybe when the boys are old enough to be a help rather than a hindrance at that sort of job...

He's also been clearing out under the house (under what used to be the porch, that we closed in as the first addition), digging for and pouring a concrete footer, and last week he laid a cinderblock foundation for that part of the house.  He couldn't find anyone reliable and available to actually make the foundation, so Caleb laid block for the first time - and it looks pretty darn good!  He still needs to do the final run with a supporting baseplate for the house, but very soon we can take that whole side of the house off the jacks it's been on for over a month!  I have to say, it was a bit nerve-wracking when he took the chainsaw to the original post supports - but the side of the house did NOT fall off :-)  I realized as he was doing it that, not only would the side of the house be gone of course, but my entire soap business was in that part of the house.  3 weeks before Christmas, I could not afford to lose my entire product stock and all supplies!  But all is well, there was no catastrophe, and very soon we will have a much warmer-in-winter and cooler-in-summer living room and soap workroom.  And additional basement space, which someday I'd like to fix up as a decent root cellar.

It's mid-January, so believe it or not, it's time to think about the garden!  As I write this, Caleb is getting ready to seed our brassica starts.  He got the cold frame set up inside the hoophouse yesterday, and laid a bed of alpaca manure under it for extra heat.  He's also hoping to get a bed of peas, carrots, kale and such started this week as well, under an extra layer of row cover inside the hoophouse.  If peas are done right in the hoophouse here, we can have our first harvest in May for sure, maybe even April!  After my hiatus last year from gardening, I'm going to try to get back at this year.  I've noticed a number of canned goods have dwindling supplies, so we definitely need to grow some beets and carrots for pickling and chutney, my green tomato salsa is almost gone, the tomato sauce gave out long ago, and the green beans in the freezer are almost gone as well.

Well, that's a quick summary of the last few months for us, obviously leaving out a lot of day-to-day, mundane happenings!  I have been focusing on fiber - spinning, dying, knitting - since Christmas, and hope to get back here to chat about that very soon!  



It is pretty amazing to see the past months summarizedi in one go like this. Humbling as well, to see all you, yourself, and as a family, have accomplished! Thanks for keeping us up to date!

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