Tucked away in the corner of my grandparent's hay field is a magical place. Hidden behind a thicket of brush and trees is a small clearing and in it a hidden gem of a wild apple tree. This tree is by far the best wild apple tree I've ever come across, producing large delicious apples year after year. They are the perfect apple for pies, apple crisp, and especially applesauce, which we preserve so that we can enjoy the sweet apple taste of fall even in the dark winter months.
One of the reasons that D and I really want to live a homestead lifestyle is to be more self-sufficient with our food (read more about that here: Why Homestead?). To me, growing our own food, taking care of it, and preserving it feels amazing; it feels natural! The work that goes into the garden is a welcome labor, drawing me back to the land and reminding me of my connection with everything else on this earth.
So when it came time to start preparing for the garden, D and I were excited and ready. We started our garden back in March, preparing the land and planting tiny seeds into cups. It always amazes me how those little tiny seeds can grow and produce so much harvest. We cared for our transplants daily as they grew under a grow light in a south facing window. Finally the weather started to get warm, and our little transplants were just about ready to get into the ground.
Our journey towards homesteading is just beginning, but the roots had begun long ago. Both D and I have always been connected to nature. D is an active outdoorsman who lives to fish and hunt. He loves the thrill and sport of it, and he enjoys providing food for our family. I am a dreamer, someone who gets lost in the beauty of nature. I love hearing the birds and frogs, seeing the beautiful wildflowers and colors of the earth, and feeling the wind on my face. To us, nature is home.
So when D and I started to feel uneasy about our current living situation, we sat down and talked about what was important. What did we both love? What did we want? What was wrong with the way things were now?
We love to tell stories here. Whether it's a made-up story, a story from the past, or a story from a book, stories are a huge part of our family. So when I had been thinking of what to do for Creation Station this week, I thought it would be really neat for C and B to create their own storybook featuring them (and consequently me as well)!
Who else had an awesome childhood?
I feel extremely lucky to have grown up the way I did. Not only did we live out in the middle of no where, but so did my grandparents, my aunt and uncle, and my cousins. My grandparents own a farm, which proved to be an excellent place to play.
My cousins, little brother, and I spent every summer at the farm. The farmhouse itself is amazing. It was built well over 100 years ago and has so many stories to tell. Upstairs are the bedrooms, one of which was the bedroom of my mom, and another the room where my grandfather (her father) was born. Tucked away in a drawer is an old box that is the home to my great-grandma's long and beautiful brown curls from her first haircut. There are the dog-tags from my grandpa's brother who died when he was just 20 years old.
I've mentioned it before- harvesting from Mother Nature's naturally cared for garden is amazing. I literally have to do absolutely no work in the growing process, but get to reap the benefits of delicious food. All I have to do is go outside, take what I need, thank God for the gift, and enjoy it. Score!
When I first heard about eating dandelions, I'm not going to lie, I thought it sounded disgusting. Eating weeds? Gross! Turns out they're actually not. Eaten fresh, dandelions are a kind of bitter salad vegetable with a hint of that dandelion-smell taste. It can be comparable to arugula. We chose to eat them cooked on quesadillas, and they were really quite tasty! In fact, the greens themselves were pretty much
What can you do on a rainy day? Bring the water inside of course!
Our son is a really creative kid. He usually has very elaborate imaginary games going on with his sister, all the creation of his imagination. Whether they're firefighters running around putting out the fires set by dragons in the yard, or they're superheros saving the world from coyotes, or they're hunters trying to shoot a big buck, C usually has something going on. B is starting to have that same creative imagination- she enjoys a good roll-around-and-pretend-you're-a-dog time too.
I I love spring. Spring is a symbol for so much. It is a reminder that life continues and will get better after challenges. It represents new beginnings. It helps us to recognize how beautiful and amazing our planet is as everything becomes green and fresh once again after the winter's rest.
I've always been one to believe that God has provided us with all that we need, which is one of the reasons I'm moving towards a self-sufficient lifestyle. Our planet is filled with beauty, with food, and with all that we need to survive. We just need to figure out how it all works and works together so that we can reap the harvest.
I still have a lot to learn when it comes to foraging. My grandpa is the third generation to live on their farm homestead, and he talks about his mom's foraging here in Wisconsin and all that she gathered from Mother Nature's garden. One of the things she collected each spring was mushrooms. Mushrooms are tricky- it's hard to know which are poisonous and which aren't! My grandpa can easily differentiate between the edible mushrooms and the non-edible mushrooms, though explaining that knowledge isn't quite as easy. He says he can just tell by the smell which are edible or not, and my sniffer just isn't trained like his. I know there are edible mushrooms in our forests here, but learning how to find them is still something I need to learn to do.
Earlier this spring, C pointed out that it looked like some flowers were growing next to the chicken coop in the woods. I took a mental note of the leaves and figured I'd wait to see what they were as the spring progressed. Then one night when I was up nursing the baby, I had a revelation- they were wild leeks! I had seen these before during school forest trips with the fourth graders at my school. Otherwise known as ramps, these wild leeks are small onion-like plants are completely edible from the bulb to the leaves and taste like a combination of a green onion and garlic. They're one of the first things that can be harvested in the spring, and such an exciting treat. To have them here next to our house would be super exciting!
I started looking online for pictures to make sure what I had was actually leeks, and I could hardly wait until morning to get outside and dig a few out.
I love learning. About everything. Really! Reading, watching videos, learning, and sharing my learning is one of my favorite hobbies. Somewhere along the lines of my own journey, a love for learning was instilled in me and has stuck. My hope is that my children grow up in an environment in which creativity, play, and a love for learning are all embraced.
My four-year-old and three-year-old are full of life, energetic, and so excited to learn. To embrace this and to encourage them to continue to grow and build this excitement, we dedicate a part of our day every day to "Creation Station".
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