Tiny House Homesteading

have the courage to dream

Month: May 2016

How do you measure success?

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Perennial garden

Today we added 7 twigs to our perennial garden . We are really hoping that these twigs take root in the soil and grow into productive perennial bushes full of berries in the next few years. As I plant these dormant twigs that are supposed to become berry bushes someday my mind is full of everything that we ar up against. To begin with we have almost pure clay soil, so we are adding sand and goat manure to the soil to break it up and enrich it. Second, I don’t really know what Iam doing, so I hope that as I plant them I am doing the right things. Third we hope first that the dogs don’t dig them up, second that the goats don’t get to them when we aren’t looking, third that the rabbits don’t eat them and fourth that the rats don’t eat them. I know thats asking a lot; especially since we don’t have a fence up around our perennial garden. I am also hoping that we get the fence up soon to help keep some of the animals out of the garden.  However like everything we do out here we have to have courage to move forward and to try. We want a homestead that has plants and trees everywhere, but with clay soil and rabbits and rats everywhere its definitely and challenge and a lot of work. The reality is that if we wanted property with fertile soile, we couldn’t afford it. What we could afford was this piece of desert. So we are buying this piece of desert and doing all we can to tun it into our little oasis. I think all of us have things in our lives that require a lot of hard work to become fruitful, but if we are willing to work hard we can one day see the fuit of our labors. We do have to realize that not all projects will produce fruit. In fact lots stay barren and aren’t poductive, but we choose to dream and to keep trying. I just don’t want to give up at this point. Even though we are three years into this, we really have just started, and have a lot more to do before we can truely know what kind of a homestead we can have with some dedication and hard work.

Please share what dreams  you are working on.  Continue reading

Summer Garden Challenge 2016

Hi everyone! This is our summer garden challenge. I wanted to encourage everyone to plant something this season. Some of you have already been planting and others haven’t started yet because you have been waiting for Memorial Day to come (and possibly go). Well its here now and it would be super exciting to have all of my readers get outside and plant something and then tell me about it. What did you plant? Was it something you have planted before? Is it something new? Is it an annual or a perennial? I am super excited to hear from everyone!

Right now we are working on planting a handful of perennial plants that we got in the mail. I have never planted bare root plants before so it will be interesting to see in a few months if they are still just twigs in the ground or if they are growing. I will post pictures as I got. Look for updates.

Please share with us what you have planted. Click on the title to this post and it will bring up the option to comment. I look forward to hearing what everyone is planting.
Update: Our bare roots plants through the mail didn’t do so well. We went to our back up plan and purchased some plants from the nursery. They did better.

 

 

 

Off-Grid

Yes we live off-grid. We use a combination of solar power and propane. Most people who use solar power have to have some sort of gas product, because solar power doesn’t support heat systems. We use propane for our stove/oven and to heat our water. We use solar power for everything else. We have learned how to cook with solar ovens but because of high winds where we live we currently aren’t able to cook with solar oven too often. I am currently developing a solar oven that would we would be able to use even on windy days.

Because we use solar power for everything except heating our food and water when we have overcast days our power supply is really reduced.

We love solar power, but it is expensive and has elements that need to be replaced as they wear out.

We do not currently have a wind turbine which is kind of crazy because we do get a lot of wind, but we hope to get one someday.

Try!

In the spring of 2015 I was participating in a challenge with my sister. We had agreed on a point system and were rewarded points for doing tasks that were beneficial for ourselves, our families, or our home. One of the ways that we could get points was to plant something in our garden. To this end one evening for Family Home Evening I announced that we would be planting some seeds. My motive for planting the seeds was that I wanted points that day for planting something in my garden. The truth is that I didn’t actually expect anything to grow.  I hadn’t actually had a successful time gardening, and I usually resorted to purchasing starts at the store that often would die over the growing season for one reason or another. However the lure of points in my challenge with my sister was big and I didn’t need to actually have success in growing something to get the points; I just needed to plant something.

So our family stuck some seeds into the ground and watered them. Over the next couple of weeks we kept watering them (after all little kids don’t forget things like that). Soon some plants started to grow. It was exciting for everyone and shocking for me. I couldn’t believe that our seeds were actually growing. Now we just needed to wait and see what they actually were. Because of my lack of faith that we could actually grow something from our seeds, I had failed to mark in our tiny garden indicating what we had planted. A few months later, however, we harvested some zucchini and crook neck squash.  I am sure that we planted more than just those two varieties of plants, so not all of our seeds were successful but some were. I learned that day that I needed to try more things. There will always be things that we do that yield little or no fruit, but if I hadn’t planted any seeds we surly would have reaped that – NOTHING. However, we did plant something and we grew something and we harvested something and we enjoyed the fruits of our labors and turned our first zucchini into a delicious chocolate zucchini cake.

zucchini plant zucchini

Have the courage to dream!

I love the idea that one it takes courage to do something that could end in a complete failure and two that as we try new things that may or may not succeed we learn, we grown and we enjoy the journey. When we moved onto 36 acres of mostly dirt we had two small sheds that were on the property. One shed had our solar equipment in it with a little more space that we were able to use for some of our things. The other shed had two lofts and about 10 by 14 feet on the inside of actual floor space. What we did was put up one tent, build a temporary outdoor kitchen and piled all of our things onto pallets on the dirt. A few days later the rest of our belongings arrived on a trailer that a friend let us use while we tried to figure out just where everything would go.  It was crazy and on top of that we had 9 kids.

The kids didn’t really complain. Before we made the move we had several family meetings to make sure that everyone was okay with the crazy adventure we were about to go on. Within two weeks our shed that would be converted into our tiny house arrived and we were happy to take the tent down and move part of our kitchen inside the shed. Our first big push was winter. We moved in May but we had to turn our shed into a home before winter hit, so the race was on. I have to admit that I didn’t tell very many people about our crazy plans because, well, they were CRAZY! I also didn’t take a lot of pictures. I wish now that I had. I wanted pictures of the finished product not the outdoor temporary kitchen or the kitchen table sitting in the middle of the field. I wish now that I had seen more of the beauty of that because it was a beautiful time for our family, but I was always worried that others would judge us and so I didn’t really want anyone to see our crazy life.

Some of my best memories are working side-by-side with my kids building our home or moving fences. One day my son said we need to do this more often. I asked him what he was talking about and he said that we needed to work together more often. It was music to my ears. The truth is that I work with my kids all the time but that particular son loved to get out of work. To hear that he enjoyed working alongside me was so great.

By the first winter our cabin wasn’t quite finished, but it was done enough to live in through the winter months and we continued to work on it. That January my husband lost his job. Up to that point we had been paying for our property and our shed (the shed was on a 36 month payment plan) and we were cash flowing the build of our tiny house. What amazes me is that when the money ran out we never ran out of things to do on our homestead.  God always provided the supplies and the ability to keep working on our home and property. I would wake up each day and look around and see what supplies I had and then get to work. Sometimes I didn’t have anything to do buy move fencing which already existed but not in the spaces we wanted it. However, if I was willing then there was always something to be done. When my husband finally found a full-time job that fall we just kept going and the next spring we paid off our cabin a year early. It was at that time after two full years of living in our tiny house we decided that it was time to expand for the sake of our sanity. We purchased another shed on a 36 month payment plan and added two bedrooms, two lofts and a family room. A year later we paid that building off.

We have endured unemployment, rattlesnakes, floods, the loss of one pregnancy and our last baby born early and hospitalized for the first 3 weeks. One secret to our success is our mandatory family time which we lovingly call Forced Family Fun nights or days. We love to watch movies and TV together renting old series from Netflix like Little House on the Prairie and all the Star Trek shows. We also love the cooking shows like Iron Chef and Cutthroat kitchen. Perhaps some of our favorite shows are building shows that we can learn great ideas from. We love to watch Grand Design from youtube videos. My 6 year old son loves to watch those with me and talk about what we can build next.

Another thing that we have loved about our experience here is our animals. We currently have goats, chickens, dogs and a pig. However we aren’t in love with the pig. We do love our chickens and goats and will probably get more of those.

Sometimes when I am asked about living in a tiny house I just simply say we traded our indoor space for outdoor space. We love living on our 36 acres and are excited to see the new ways that we use our space over the years.