About Me

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My tremendously supportive husband & I have 3 wonderful children, 1 dog, 12 laying hens, 2 dairy goats, 3 bee hives, and a 2000 sq foot vegetable garden on a small 1/4 acre lot in the city. In the center of it all is our small 1,000 sq foot house purchased in 2008 as a foreclosure that we fully renovated to host our growing family, home school adventures, and small home business (CozyLeaf.com). We have a desire to learn a path to self sufficiency finding ways to be good stewards of the resources God has given us. We want to learn to live with less as we laydown roots to our little homestead.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Warm things

"Warm Things" is what we call them around here, but basically its just a bag sewed up and filled with grain. Easily warmed up in the microwave, or just set it right beside the wood stove and it is hot and ready when you need a warm snuggler! Hold it, or place it at the foot of your bed at night to add extra warmth in these chilly winter months! These 2 bags took me about 20 minutes to sew up and will last for a long time!
I haven't used corn yet, but I hear that corn is one of the best grains to fill in these warm bags! Give it a try and have a couple extra on hand! I just use scrap fabric and so we have all different sizes.
Cheap and Easy!
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Monday, January 10, 2011

Beeswax Candles

Making Beeswax candles was pretty easy! I just bought a few molds and poured melted beeswax in on either side of a wick and then let it set! One of the candles was supposed to be taller, but it actually cracked in half when I was anxiously pulling it out of the mold...so I have 3 instead of 2 :)
These candles smell fantastic!! I added some essential oils to one of the candles (Pine Needle and Clove oil) but the other is just the sweet pleasant smell of the natural beeswax!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Meat for a year

Bryan was able to tag 3 deer last week so we were able to process all the meat today!
From 3 does we were able to get right at 100 lbs of meat! We made 25 lbs ground sausage with Holly seasoning, 25 lb ground sausage with Maple seasoning, 17 lbs ground regular unseasoned, about 14 lbs loin steaks, and about 35 lbs cubed meat.
We shared some and brought home the rest to put in the freezer for this coming year!
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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

When the boys are away, the girls will play!!

Bryan and Henry have been out hunting, so me and Addie got a few projects to work on too! I bought Addie some plain wood peg dolls for Christmas, so we decided to paint them! It was extremely fun! We got to create a lot of characters and have fun making them exactly how Addie wanted.
I definitely recommend this as a fun craft time :)
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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Curious little goat!

Peaches and Poppy are so curious! They love to stand up on our deck railing and look over the front fence at all the activities that happen out front. Our neighbours love looking over the fence and talking to them :)
When we first brought the girls home they would stand in the back yard and make noise to get attention...now they hardly make a peep! Bryan and i were even talking the other day and I said "I don't remember the last time I heard the goats make any noise at all!" They just observe everything...and of course eat as much as possible!
Some people say that goats are incredibly noisy creatures, but I guess we have been blessed with a silent couple! I also think they are very spoiled! They get plenty of attention from us...which also includes being sung to daily :) Seriously though I do sing to them, but I pretty much sing all the time and about everything, so its not to rare around here :)
I just love these goats and I'm so grateful to have them as pets! Its nothing like I expected...I never would have thought I could love a goat so much, but they are surprisingly precious animals :)
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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Little Hunter

Last night most people stayed up late and slept in this morning...but for us New Years eve means going to bed early because New Years day marks the opening of late doe hunting in this area! Today was the start of a great year ahead and we were all up at 5am to get Bryan and Henry out the door for some deer hunting.
It was a long day for them and no deer were spotted (partly because of an irrational man driving his very noisy truck into the field scaring off all of the deer). It was also extremely cold! When they took out the door this morning it was 6 degrees! Yes, I stayed inside by the fire! After the morning hunt they came home for lunch and a nap for Henry and headed back out for another round...much warmer this time, it was 20 degrees but I was still in by the fire!
By the end of the day they were both exhausted, but excited to have some dinner inside where I successfully brought the living room temperature to almost 90 degrees (thanks to the wood stove).
Win some and loose some...all in a days hunt!
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Get Started and have No Expectations!

Its been a crazy year here on our little city farm. There has been an extreme amount of work put into our backyard but looking back on the year makes me feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to learn so much and even more blessed to have the opportunity to raise my children with this knowledge and experience! Our backyard looked tremendously different this time last year. We had just brought home a few chickens at the end of last year to start our journey to our little city homestead but there was no garden, no goats, no compost, and no canning...just a lot of grass (dead grass and mud pits actually). January 2010 took off and so did we! We started all of our seeds for our garden right in our little loft, built a little "goat barn", petitioned the city and brought home 2 baby goats, plotted and planted a garden, ran drip irrigation, started a compost rotation, canned, dried and froze an incredible amount of veggies from the garden, grew well over 1,000 pounds of veggies, bread both our goats (we hope), collected over 1,000 eggs from "the girls", brewed up a lot of beer and well over 100 bottles of wine, but most importantly we started our journey!

We sure had a tremendous amount of success from our backyard farm, but we sure did have a lot of fails too! All of those failures have brought knowledge and a plan for how to fix it next year! I am so excited for next year!! I know it is going to be very different, seeing as I am going to be having a little baby in May, but we are always up and ready for an adventure! There will be a whole new set of challenges to work through and we sure cant wait to see what 2011 brings! We have high hopes, but our goal is to just keep going and do as much as we can with our time, energy and resources.

We have had so many visitors to our homestead this past year and continually hear people saying how they would love to do what we are doing, but they just don't have any idea where to start...neither did we!! My encouragement to all you newcomers... Get Started and have No Expectations!! Its only been a year for us and we are so encouraged with the steps we have taken and the knowledge we have walked away with just from 1 year. Yes, most of those steps were blind and we rarely knew what was going to be the result, but if we had never taken that first step then we would have missed out on so much! No Expectations - yes, this may sound like a very odd goals, but the entire year we told ourselves "worst case scenario, we fail"...and it is true, that is the worst case scenario! Yes, it was frustrating when we planted all of our plants from seeds and some never even made it to the ground and even more frustrating when we raised a plant from seed and it died or just did plain terrible (6 tomato plants never produced a single tomato!), but through that frustration we gained knowledge and tools for the next attempt!

What to look for from us in 2011!! In April our goats are due to kid and we will have a few baby goats around (for a little while anyway), and in May I am due to have a baby...we are only keeping 1 of these new babies though (yes, my baby!), growing more than our 1,000 lbs of veggies from last year, new adventure of milking goats, worm composting (I hope!), starting our own backyard beehive, and a ton of little things that we could never even plan to learn! Join us in our adventure...we sure can use the advice and encouragement!

Happy New Year!!

Dehydrating Celery

Dehydrating celery has been quite simple :) We had about 30+ heads of celery come from the garden this year and I cut them all down and it has been a several day slow process to get them ready for drying. I gave away quite a few heads of celery and canned up some into a vegetable mix, I also froze 2 gallons of cut pieces...but then the rest was saved for dehydrating! I sure wish I would have taken better pictures of the process, but I didn't.
This could easily be done in a day, but I'm starting to spread out my projects and not have high expectations for finishing them super fast!
Harvest, Clean and Cut your celery (into 1/2" pieces). Soak in water and baking soda for about 10 minutes or so (to preserve the color), I used a large travel cooler to wash and soak all of our celery pieces. Drain and pat everything dry and get ready to start drying them. At this point I put all my pieces of cleaned celery into the refrigerator because it was getting late at night and I didn't want to mess up because I was so exhausted and couldn't think straight! It actually ended up being a couple days later before I got around to dehydrating the pieces, but it didn't affected the outcome! Place all your pieces onto your dehydrating screens. Directions said: Dehydrate 18 hours at 100 degrees. I actually ended up using my oven for this dry set and had it on convection 170 degrees, I ran the oven for about 3 hours and then got a little too nervous to let it run through the night so I shut it off and started it up the next morning. I was glad I did because this seemed to work quite well and alot of the pieces were quite dry just from a partial drying and then resting overnight. I ran the convection for another 2 hours at 170 and then let it rest again and started it up for 1 last run of about 2 hours.
This sure wasn't the best organized method, nor did I follow directions too well, but 7 hours of electrical usage is better than 18.
I am shocked with how well they dried! I am always amazed at how much space is saved by dehydrating!! I am becoming more and more fond of dehydrating! I had 4 packed trays of celery and in the end it all easily fit in the middle of 1 tray and was all nicely tucked into 1 quart sized canning jar!