Thoughts….

We had some wonderfully cool mornings that made fall really feel like it was on its way. Then last week the temps jumped back up into the 100s and after the coolness it truly was miserable. Thankfully it only lasted about 4 days and we are now back to fall temps. It’s been a busy few weeks here. The hubby has been diligently working on finishing our woodshed for the main firewood.

The other pile he still has to cover but at least these stacks closest to the house are dried in now. This has been one of those projects he had to complete before starting on cabin work.

Our oldest daughter turned 11 on the 16th and right before her birthday she took a hatchet to her thumb when she was chopping wood. She has used a hatchet for over a year now and she is usually very careful. Thankfully with hubby’s EMS experience he was able to doctor it and it has healed much better than we expected.

Yesterday was a day the kids have been excited about for months. Nearby a town sponsored an old fashion day where old skills are demonstrated. We all dressed up in our Sunday best and got there early. For us this is our dress. We wear plain clothes or pioneer clothes everyday. We have found these most comfortable in the way we live. We wear the layers worn in the old days with shifts, stays/corsets/, petticoats, and dresses. The little boy wears a Plain shirt and fall front pants or overalls. The hubby wears pants that are replicated from the military pants worn in the War Between the States. It is more affordable to dress this way if you can sew and I sew constantly. I usually have a day sewing project that I sew on the treadle and at night I hand sew on my work dresses. In the mornings before chores, I knit socks. At the old fashioned day everyone thought we were in costume and we had our picture taken at least ten times. We almost felt out of place because we are different even though others were actually dressed up. The skills demonstrated are now everyday life to us. Everyone kept telling us to go try the beans and hoecakes but we eat that every Sunday. We watched the gentleman and lady at the chuck wagon cook with the coals in the Dutch oven. This is something I do daily and I don’t always enjoy it anymore. It has become routine but it made me step back and realize how blessed I am to have learned these skills over this past year. The cooks told us this was their last event and they were retiring and selling the setup to someone else. They said their children had no interest in such things. It made me sad for them. I truly believe our children and young adults today need an interest in these old skills and our history to learn how to live properly in today’s time. Times have changed and progress is often a good thing but it’s also important to know our past and know basic skills.

It’s also good to be creative and think outside the box. The hubby bought me these leather pumps at a antique store going out of business for $2. They retailed at $210. I absolutely love them but after two wears the heel cap cracked and broke out. After much searching and thinking we finally decided to cut up some old rewards cards and super glued these to the heel. The hubby cut up an old tire and glued these over the plastic card. After it dried he trimmed up the rubber and you cannot even tell we added a sole.

Hopefully I get a lot more wear out of these shoes. Life doesn’t have to be so complicated. We can simplify it by having only a few things we love and use. If we truly love what we have we will fix it until it can’t be fixed anymore instead of just running to buy something new that probably isn’t as quality.

I do hope everyone has a blessed week.

Shower House

With fall and hunting season fast approaching, our little logging road sees more people as they go on to the other lots behind us to hunt. Last year we made do with a little shower tent to help with privacy during shower time but it was blown away in one of the spring storms we had. They hubby decided it was time to build us a shower room on the shower deck. He used old slab boards that were left on the property and he the oldest daughter constructed this over a few days time. The wall facing the road is solid but due to lack of materials the other walls have gaps but since there is no privacy issue with these two directions, we are not concerned about this. We have a shower curtain that is pulled down to make a door. It’s absolutely wonderful to be able to shower in complete privacy without everyone having to go inside so one person can shower. This has been a long planned for edition.

It has been fair week here and things have just been busy. This blog seems more difficult to get up as life settles more to a routine here and we endeavor to get so much done. Our oldest daughter has never entered anything into the fair and she was so excited to enter one of her woodworking pieces. Our pastor and she had found this piece of wood on the property and he liked it so she did some sanding and smoothing  and we decided it looked like a mushroom. She gave it to him some time ago but he encouraged her to enter it into the fair and she won a blue ribbon with it.

I did do some canning with some tomatoes a gentleman brought to church. I made a few jars of salsa. I am getting better at canning over the fire.

Thankfully we have had quite a bit of rain which is helping my fall garden and our rain catchment. This is definitely a blessing. I love just being able to fill the washing machine and rinse tubs without pumping all that water. I can just let it fill and soak the clothes all while making breakfast.

The rain has forced me to cook a meal or two inside. We have no roof over the outdoor kitchen area. Since I couldn’t bake anything with the camp stove I invented what we called doughnut cakes– similar to pancakes but no need for syrup. They had coconut, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a pancake style batter. They were delicious.

Of course I have been sewing. I finished one of little boy’s pants and have two pairs left to go. I have been sewing my new dress which is an 1840s wrapper day dress from Black Snails patterns. It is completely handsewn with piping all through the dress seams. It is taking quite a bit of time but I really would like a good everyday work dress and I love this style dress.

We are certainly staying busy but making good progress. I do hope everyone has a blessed Labor Day weekend.

Wood Stove and washing machines….

Not wanting to wait until last minute we bought our stovepipe and rain cap and set up the stove. I also ordered some stove black but it hasn’t arrived yet. Many of you may remember last year we dealt with major leaks at the tent opening where the pipe comes into the tent. The hubby decided to use bigger pipe and a larger rain cap. He took some hardware cloth and secured this inside the rain cap to act as a spark arrestor.  

We also decided to put some concrete pavers under the stove as added fire protection. We knew nothing about wood stoves last year and we are still learning but we do feel a little more prepared. We are already having cooler temperatures and it is amazing but we will not light the stove inside until we absolutely have too.

Another project on the list before winter was making more soap. I made olive oil/coconut oil soap. This soap only reaches a light trace before I mold it and it usually takes me about 2 1/2 to 3 hours of stirring with an old egg beater till it forms trace. Definitely a job but worth it to us to have a soap that lathers and doesn’t irritate our skin like most boughten soaps. The only other soap I use is fels-naptha in laundry use. It is very good for stains.

The hubby’s other project before cold weather was building me a washing machine so I don’t have to have so much contact with cold water come winter. I have used it several times and it does work nicely and efficiently especially just being able to fill it up with rain water for now.

The barrel has pvc pipes secured inside the barrel that act as agitators as we move the handle back and forth. The clothes get the cleanest if they can soak for awhile then the children or myself agitate the clothes for about 10 minutes. It’s easier than the washboard.

I have been sewing diligently and have completed the hubby 3 complete shirts/pants. I have made the little boy a shirt and pant so far and three more sets to go for him. I love the way the hubby’s have turned out.

I also finished my 18th century stay for everyday wear. The one I had been wearing didn’t fit me properly and I was in need of something that fit like it should. It is only partially boned and laces in the front and back. I have not taken a picture of it because I wear it all the time. It is comfortable and easy to wear. I have worn corsets and stays for about 2 years now but this is the first one I have made to actually fit my body type. I used the Simplicity 8162 pattern and absolutely love it.

The fall garden is planted. I may have waited too long but the heat was so extreme I was afraid the seeds wouldn’t come up. I pulled most of the summer crops up. They just never did produce like they should because of the summer drought we experienced.

Our biggest news is the little spot of land that we own. It is solid rock here. We have chosen this spot as the future home of our cabin which we plan to start on this next spring. If all goes well we will be clearing and cutting trees this fall to prepare for the cabin — it will be basic– a 16×16 with a small loft. We have a plan and a spot picked out. We will be using cedars since that is what we have the most of. We are very excited and cannot wait to start on our house. We love the tent but it is not like have solid walls around you during a cold winter night or during a big storm.

Here is a picture of the newest member of our family — a rooster we named Theodore.

I hope everyone has a blessed week.

When We Are Sick….

I meant to have this blog post up sooner but Saturday I was so sick I barely got up. I cooked for the family and that was about it. By Monday everyone had what I had. There is a certain virus going around our church family so I imagine we must have picked it up at some point. We all feel pretty rough.

Things don’t stop around here because we are sick. Thankfully we had rain and even now as I sit here writing it is storming again. We are so thankful for the rain. I haven’t been in the garden because I have been so sick but I know the rain has helped it. We also managed to get our 2 IBC totes cleaned out and installed.

The hubby has them tied together so that they fill at the same rate. This will be over 500 gallons when full. Already I have used them on two separate occasions for washing clothes.

The oldest daughter was thrilled to fill up the laundry tub by just standing there. We were so amazed at having running water right there. What a blessing! No more pumping gallons of water and hauling it just for laundry or the garden. As long as the totes have water we are good. This is a major improvement on our little farm.

Last week we completely changed the inside of the tent. The hubby cut the bed down to a shorter height. We opened up the middle to allow airflow. Instead of having 2 separate rooms in the back of the tent we have one big open one that we can partition with curtains at night. This seems to have worked because the tent is no longer getting past 104 degrees even on the hottest days.

Only the hubby would bring his chainsaw inside to saw the legs off the bed.

Our favorite little antique store in town went out of business last week but we were able to get one final item– a screen door. I had my eye on this for a while. The hubby installed it with some clever cutting on our old door and I absolutely love the look of it. I have always wanted an old screen door. I have spent my sick days sewing the hubby’s new pants and shirts. The more we study history and things of the past the more we realize why they dressed the way they did. I already had a pattern I have almost perfected for the hubby’s pants but no shirt pattern. We finally found him the the little boy collarless shirt patterns from friendspattern.com. I ordered a few other patterns from them as well and am very impressed so far. They aren’t beginner patterns but I finally have enough experience I was able to figure the shirt out. With everyone having only a few options to wear this will help with wardrobe space and laundry. I use only natural material usually that I thrift or yard sale and this greatly helps with laundry. These clothes are easier to clean and mend as needed. They are also cooler.

I do hope everyone has a blessed week.

Outhouse Update and Other Things

We finally got some rain on Sunday a week ago– it was enough to green up the plants a little but overall we are still considered in a drought. There is a burn ban over most of our state due to the extremely dry conditions. It seems crazy to be gathering firewood and cooking outside when the real temps stay in the triple digits but we do it  knowing we are preparing for winter.

We have also been preserving many things for this winter. We were able to get a local 3/4 bushel of peaches and though some were canned as slices and some were made into spiced peach jam– mostly we used this intense sun’s power we have been experiencing to dehydrate the bulk of them.

I also dehydrated some sweet potatoes to see how they did. All of it turned out very well. I used my vacuum sealer the hubby made to seal all of them. I also have been working on some fermenting. We have fermented okra and cucumbers from our garden. Nothing is producing in abundance so I continue to put up a jar at a time just trying to preserve as much as possible.

We were in the local WM yesterday and decided to get some more potatoes. The last time we were going to buy some they were completely out of the 10 pound bags. When we looked yesterday the bins were completely full but the price was $7.47! At the beginning of this year potatoes were almost 4 dollars. The last time I purchased some a few weeks ago they had jumped to $5.84. It was shocking and it really hit home how important it is to prepare — not because food won’t be available– it just won’t be available at prices we can afford.

We finally improved our outhouse. We never were able to dig the hole as deeply as we wanted due to the bedrock. It did last the year the hubby predicted but it was very full. After much contemplating we decided to fill the hole with moldy straw we had salvaged from a fall festival decoration and put a piece of plywood over this and the existing hole. It will all compost down there. The hubby cut the back of the outhouse making a small door. We place a bucket inside. This is now our composting potty. It cured all smells we were having. We use sawdust to cover everything. The bucket is emptied every two days and cleaned out and replaced in the outhouse. The question was were to dump it. We finally decided on tree bogs around our orchard trees. This will fertilize them and as well as offering a place to dispose of our waste.

For us it is a time of surviving the heat and keeping our kids and animals safe in this heat. We are preparing as much as we can food wise. I do hope everyone has a blessed rest of the week.

Preparing For Winter

It seems almost laughable to post this with that title when temps have been in the triple digits here for days. Yesterday’s high real feel temp was 115. But I canned. I canned tomatoes I got on sale; I canned applesauce. A few days ago I canned grape jam. The hubby has been splitting firewood. We are in a battle against time. It seems ridiculous to be preparing for cold when you can barely stand the heat but we are because if we don’t we will be unprepared. I am not able to can much at a time due to the limited produce I am finding but 7 jars here and 5 jars there all add up. I also spent a day recanning a gallon of maple syrup I got a deal on.

Mostly everything has sealed and has made its way down into the root cellar. The temp has certainly climbed in our makeshift root cellar but  it is still well below outdoor temps– yesterday the thermometer showed 77 while the temp was around 20 degrees higher outside. Water-bath canning has been made much easier by a gift that was given to me– a steam canner. This thing is amazing! It uses much less water than a water-bath canner and works faster since it takes alot less time to heat up.

It makes water bath canning less time consuming.

Due to the extreme heat and constant wind I have been hand watering the garden every other day as well as covering what I can with a shade cloth. We have harvested a few vegetables from it but the heat is so intense everything is very small. But I will keep trying. We have not had any rain in well over a month. Everything is dry and dying. Finally last night we had about ten minutes of rain and it was so refreshing. We stood out in it and just savored the coolness. It barely wet the top of the ground but it was the best thing I have felt in a long time. The hubby decided to build our rain catchment system as an act of faith it would rain.

We didn’t catch much but it’s a start. We actually purchased two large IBC totes for this system but with no rain we didn’t want to waste a ton of well water cleaning them out. So for the time being he used this food grade barrel.

This apple peeler above is 200 years old but it made peeling our apples for applesauce much quicker than hand peeling. I took the peels and cores and started a batch of vinegar. The hubby built me a vacuum sealer for my dehydrated foods. It uses a brake bleeder to suck the air out and it does work. We sealed a jar of pecans this way. I got the idea from YouTube on a channel called Rain Country.

We have been so hot and had no energy due to the heat. It never cools off even at night. Last night the hubby suggested a movie night in our clearing.  The kids were very excited about this idea (they have never even been to the movies) but they thought this sounded fun. After supper we set up our theatre and enjoyed a family movie The Legend of Ruby Silver. It was a good family movie that kept everyone’s attention. I took my sewing down there and the kids used our new wagon as a seat. Our old water wagon broke beyond repair since the hubby can’t weld.

I do pray everyone is surviving this heat. We enjoy the air conditioner every time we go to the store or church but we are learning to survive without it. A weekend ago we took the kids to a local nature center. It was beautiful and not quite so hot. We definitely enjoyed the inside part that was nice and cool.   I hope everyone has a blessed weekend.

We Made It One Year

Yesterday June 28th made one year of living off the grid out here on our 11 acres of land in the woods. I couldn’t help but look around and see how much has changed. We have went from merely surviving to calling this our home. It is not a temporary feeling anymore but a knowing that we are slowly carving a life out here. There have been many ups and downs and it has certainly been the longest year of our lives but God has brought us through.

Most of our trials have been caused from just lack of knowledge. When we moved here we really didn’t have a clue what we were doing. In so many ways we were unprepared but much of what we have learned hasn’t been learned from books or Youtube videos, it has been learned from actually doing. Routines had to be established, different ways of doing things had to he learned, but most of all we had to change our mentality. There is a major difference between our family and those old time pioneers– we have enjoyed the luxuries of modern living like AC and running water. We know there are easier ways of doing things than splitting wood by hand or hand pumping every ounce of water. But to live out here and enjoy it we have had to let go of that modern mentality and accept that we chose this way of life. We chose it to teach ourselves and our kids a simpler way of life– to know we are working toward self sustainability and an environment where everything works together in peace (for the most part). We actually have a garden that is producing for us a little bit of food. We could have easily looked at our ground and said it won’t produce anything for a few years with the hard clay and rocks but instead we hauled in free compost that was already here, we mulched it heavily with hay to keep in what moisture we could, and I hand water it almost every morning that I have extra water from washing clothes or the kids playing in the water in the wash tubs.

We have found we can talk a project to death but until we just do it, it means nothing. Usually it never goes as planned anyway. But we learn as much as possible then proceed. But it is only in the doing we find satisfaction. Seeing results encourages us to keep going.

For anybody considering this lifestyle all I can say is learn what you can but don’t spend all the time planning. Sometimes you just have to do it. It takes hard work and creative thinking and for us much prayer and asking for God’s direction.

Some things have scared us and we put off trying because we are intimidated. Take canning over the open fire– I know it is done but I was scared to try. I finally did and it worked out just fine.

We are finding ways to cool off like our bathtub turned into a pool or going to the river just a few miles from our house so that the heat is more bearable.

We have come a long way from that first night out here but we still have a very long way to go but we have learned it is achieved step by small step. We have been blessed with a wonderful church family and good friends. We did work yesterday but we also took time to make a cake and celebrate this life we have chosen and all the many blessings that have followed.

Here are a few pictures from a year ago with todays pictures. How things have changed!!

With a dream and alot of hard work and determination, it can be done! I hope everyone has a blessed week.

Summer life

Yesterday the hubby built our first rabbit tractor. We have been wanting to build some of these for a while now. They are perfect for our grow out bunnies. They can eat grass, they have plenty of room to run around, and they have a roof and a hideaway end for getting out of the weather. It did take the hubby all day to build it but it looks very good. He had to take a couple breaks due to the heat. I know this heat is across most of the South but these real feel temps of 102 and 108 have been quite oppressive after the temps in the 60s. There was no adjustment– it just spiked in a day or two. The night is ok when we get to about 2 in the morning.

We are not sure if it is the insulation we installed under the platform of the tent or the fact that it is on a platform, but the airflow through the tent is almost nonexistent in heat and humidity like this. We have all windows and doors open but the air in the tent is hot and heavy even when it cools off outside. We have two small rechargeable fans but even these don’t have enough power to move the air enough to offer relief. After much research, we decided to head to the nearest big city and purchase some job site fans. We went with Ryobi because that was what was on sale and the reviews were good on their products. We ended up buying 2 battery sets because if you bought a set you recieved a free tool. The two tools we chose were two 11 inch fans that could be run by the battery or by the solar system plugs. We also bought an 18 inch fan that also can be plugged into the solar or used on the battery. Because they can run on the 18v batteries, even the large fan pulls very little power off the solar system. We use the small fans for bedtime. The batteries lasted roughly 18 hours on low. That is 2 nights. So far we are impressed. We haven’t tried the large fan on battery power because we have been using it on the solar. We use it at suppertime and in the evening after our showers. We would sit on the porch where it is cooler but the tent offers us protection from the many flies and insects we have an abundance of late in the afternoon. So far we cannot complain about the heat. We have filled a 15 gallon barrel with water and use our battery shower to spray us down during the day. During the hottest part of the day we will try to go down into the woods in the shade. It is so much cooler under the trees.

One of my biggest obstacles out here has been an oven. For a year now I have not been able to bake a fully successful bread loaf or any large baked item. I use the 5 quart Dutch oven and make one pan at a time. This is time consuming but not practical for a family of 5. I have looked at many oven options from propane ovens to camp ovens to adobe ovens and many other options. Finally I found an oven I love. It is a 5 gallon (20 quart) Dutch oven. I just put my hot embers under it and preheat it with the lid on. In a few minutes it is ready for whatever I am baking. It easily holds my 8 by 13 enamel cake pan. The only downside is that the oven with lid weighs about 50 lbs. Thankfully after the item is baked the oven can be left to cool then moved back to its storage spot.

Even my gingerbread loaf had room to rise and cook properly. I have adjusted to cooking over the fire and love it. I can even use my waffle iron and not burn the waffles now. I can bake, fry, boil– whatever I want I can do. Cooking over the fire is natural now but it did take me awhile to realize this. When we moved out here I had never even started a fire much less cooked over one.

Yesterday it was so hot that after clothes were washed and hung to dry, we went down in a shady spot behind the tent that was full of brush. The hubby got out his chainsaw, the kids and I got out the rake and grub hoe and went to work clearing brush and rocks. After it was cleared, we brought too old pallets down and set out large water trough on it. We then pumped 85 gallons of water and brought it down to the tub. This took us two trips from the well. But finally it was finished. We now have a pool for the hot afternoons and a nice shady spot to sit.

This was the first project we have done just to make our place feel homey. It was our first job to make us actually more comfortable. Everything we have done up to this point has been for mere survival. We struggle just to make it through each day it feels like. So we are very proud of having a small spot just for our enjoyment. I do hope every one had a blessed rest of the week.

Following our Hearts

It has been warm again most of the week but this morning is cool enough to be sitting out in the summer kitchen with a blanket wrapped around me as I watch morning dish water heat and wait on the coffee to boil. I call it the summer kitchen because this is where we cook all of our meals and heat water for various things. I have a white folding table out here with my dishpans and dishdrain. We keep the five 5 gallon buckets filled with water as well as a 7 gallon Auqatainer full. The 7 gallons has a spigot and is used for handwashing. We also bought a plastic storage box for keeping wood dry. I also keep a few supplies such as the coffee mill and coffee and a few tools in there.

Of course the summer kitchen has no roof and this does make cooking in the rain interesting but if it is really coming down I do have the option of the propane camp stove in the tent.

The hubby finished the shop. The only thing not complete is the batons but this can be done at a later date. He has moved most things into it and hopefully today we will move the old garage tent up there to the shop. It will be used for the tractor and wagons as well as some hay storage. Hopefully we will be able to put some of the things stored in the trailer into the loft of the new shop.

This month we plan to concentrate on firewood for this winter. We both want to be prepared this winter. Last winter we had no idea how much wood it takes to heat and cook full time on the wood stove. We were blessed by friends who helped us and really saved us from freezing. We know what to expect this year and we plan Lord willing to be overprepared.

I don’t normally talk about what is going on in the world even though I do keep an eye on it and sometimes overly worry like most folks. Gas here jumped 14 cents in one day. We have never seen anything like it. Prices in the stores are outrageous as well. Everything seems to be going up and there doesn’t seem to be any relief in sight. We have been wise in our purchases but we have started investing in some alternative products and some more bulk products. Our bulk food products are just to top off what I have been doing for a few years now. Our alternative products include mostly garage sale finds such as hand tools, fabric, yarn, pots for the fire pit, and supplies for the homestead. Some things we do order as God blesses us with the funds to do so. We have ordered a Country Living grain mill but it is not even due to ship until late this month because of the demand. This will replace my old 1940s mill.

We also made another purchase that we took a lot of time to pray about and truly research and consider. As gas prices rise we realize there might come a day when we can’t fill our old Dodge truck. We invested in some basic bicycles and a pull behind trailer for the two little ones to ride in. The oldest daughter already has a bike and rides extremely well even on these hills. We knew it would take us some time to build endurance to even be able to ride off our logging road to the county road with the steep inclines. The kids love riding together and this is good for me and the hubby as well to gain some strength to do this. Hopefully by the time we would need such an option we will be in good enough shape to use it.

We were blessed to find a clearance deal in the blue bike due to some cosmetic damage. We don’t know where things are going but we feel the need to be prepared.

My garden is finally starting to grow. It seems to be confused with these temperature changes and has been slow to grow.

I do pray everyone has a blessed weekend. God is still in control and I am thankful for that.

Good way to enjoy a cool morning!

Shops-Snakes- and other Things

We are back to spring around here. Our 90 degree temperatures have dropped to the 50s at night and the 60s to low 70s in the daytime. We had already taken the stovepipe down in the house so these cool nights we just bundle up with extra blankets. I have never seen such cool temperatures this close to June. The cool weather plants in the garden are thriving but the the peppers and tomatoes aren’t so sure about this drastic temperature change. During the hot weather, we had added some hay because there is no shade at the garden and the hay definitely helped hold the moisture in the ground a little longer.

The shop build is in its final stages and for this we are amazed and thankful. The hubby really did not want to spend any money on materials for the shop except of course for the nails he had to have. This no spending money led to quite a problem when he reached the bottom of the shop. He put a board around the bottom to nail the walls to but this would leave a gap since he didn’t want this board directly against the ground. He considered cinder blocks which we priced; he also considered pouring some concrete which we also priced. Neither of these options would be cheap even for as small as the shop is. Finally he decided on stones. He already had a small pile of stone but each morning when he went for his walk, he brought back 2 to 3 flat stones depending on the size. One day we went for a truck ride down the county road and loaded up flat stones that had washed up during the storms. He was nervous about dry stacking the stones but in the end it turned out beautiful. He also took the red clay and filled in the cracks. The roof is recycled and he had to fill many holes with silicone he had on hand so it wouldn’t leak. The only other money we have spent on the shop is some rough cut lumber milled by another man with a chainsaw mill. We invested in that because our trees are not big enough to build an entire building. It would take too many to make into enough lumber.

We are in for some more rain but any day it is not raining I imagine he will be nailing up walls.

Our next full time project is the winter’s firewood. We have some done but we are waiting to move the hubby’s things into the new shop because we will be moving the garage tent up there beside the new shop. There is a tree over his current tent shop that is dead. It will be used for firewood. We also had an oak and hickory felled in Saturdays night’s straighline winds. These are down below the tent near the creek. We will cut them down there and haul it out.

We had major root cellar issues. The drain pipe the hubby installed worked great– no more standing water in the cellar. But we have had major temp increases. We decided to crack the lid and let some hot air escape. This has worked so we know we need to vent the top. We also need to figure out how to insulate it better. The hay started to mold on the bottom so we stuffed bags with hay and dirt and laid these across for the time being but it is not enough insulation.

We have also been seeing a lot of snakes. The little one went to collect eggs and found a rat snake who had just swallowed an egg. The hubby went to chop its head off and out popped the egg. So little girl and the egg were safe and the snake is dead.

We have seen 4 or 5 snakes so far most of them harmless thankfully. The hubby did mow the areas we frequent and the orchard as well as a path to the creek so that the kids can play down there.

We were able to find some cheddar cheese on sale and I have started another experiment in preservation without refrigeration. I took oak wood ash, sifted it, and buried 10 blocks of cheese in my stoneware crock.

So far we have used 4 and it seems to be working great. The cheese hardens a little but the taste is not affected.

The well house is completed and working wonderfully for shade and rain protection. There are so many things happening around here and so much we are trying to do that we loose sight of whether we are actually accomplishing anything at all. We get down and discouraged looking at all the work and feeling like we are going in circles. But looking at the pictures, we are very slowly making progress. Starting from the ground up is hard and nothing is quick. It takes so much time and effort and each project offers its own set of challenges to overcome but the results are worth it.

At night I have been hand sewing the hubby a new pair of pants and we usually use the solar bulb but I hate the brightness of it but I had no good place to set my lamp and actually be able to see. One morning before breakfast the hubby took some time to cut this log down to size for a table for me.

We are truly blessed and thankful to be living this life. I do hope everyone has a blessed week.