Evolution of a Blog

Kicking & Screaming I Came..

Hmm.. That USED to be the start in my Blog.. However things change, grow and carry on, don't they... Now I find I need to modify my writing as life itself has done for me.. We are no longer a Blog of Hops Skips and Jumps through the nitegarden.. No longer ramblings of a things lost. We are on a path of contentedness, fulfillment & rejoice! Life is anew! Life now takes place on a happy lil piece of ground we call The Cracker Jack Lodge! Here at the Lodge we strive for tranquility, peace, self reliance and sustainability as best we can manage! It's not a typical 'retirement' it's not an escape from civilization.. It's a choice to move more towards freedom, good health and responsibility for ourselves and this beautiful planet we share!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Lazy Days of Summer Hmmmm...

   Where to start??
Alright, flash back 2 years ago now.
"Blew up our TV..  Moved to the country.. Eatin a lot of peaches......"
    My husband The Cracker Jack and I are now living our dream!
We have a very small piece of land, 2 acres.
Slowly in the beginning we are reclaiming it and taking it back from the 'natives' as Jack likes to say!
(Natives being the spiders, bugs and other critters that had decided they would be taking up residency after the elderly woman named Ina that had owned it in the past had moved and sold the property.)
Ina's family had owned quite a lot of property in the area and we were lucky enough to have acquired a small bit of it.
    It seems that we keep receiving 'gifts' from Ina.
Initially we just felt beyond fortunate to have found a house that wasn't a mobile, out in the country with a bit of land!
Gift # 1: Our house is an old block farm house that had been built in 1946, even has an old 1946 penny pressed into the dining room floor! Super awesome gift since we intended to not use AC as long as we didn't need to and having the block all around us the house stays very cool, even in the hottest of days! Block walls, concrete floors and even a nice old brick fireplace
Gift # 2: Since there is no useable heating system in the house.
Gift # 3..  Ina had a green thumb and planted, planted planted!!   Once we gained the courage to try to clear beyond places we couldn't see, we started finding these plants, trees and other foliage & fauna!
My husband started calling our newly purchased push mower his 20 inch bush hog.....
When I say we beat the hell out of that mower..........
Poor mower.. she was a good friend, but sadly she had a short life.   She did help us find so many treasures though!
I pushed that girl into the darkest scariest places!
Looking now at some of these areas we now roam freely in it's hard to imagine how intimidating it once was here!
We cleared land and brush and found fields of promise!
    Slowly we have reclaimed the property and even some little out buildings. Repurposing old materials and lumber that had long ago once been something else.
    We now have the majority of the property fenced and secured for our livestock. With very little investment on our part aside from a couple rolls of field fence, nails & screws and a hand full of gate hardware now and then!
We get the biggest kick out of making something from something else! Pallets..  Pallets, especially free ones have been a life saver for us. As an initial quik fix we have constructed so many very usable things with pallets. From fences & chicken coops to potting tables and make shift kitchen counters! My husband Jack has the best vision when it comes to this stuff!    And unlike me.. he's a perfectionist. Where I tend to want immediate satisfaction and don't mind a bit just throwing something together, Jack will draw it out a few times, make a supply list and mull it over awhile before he jumps in. We really do compliment each other in this way.. He's able to reel me in and I'm able to share my way of making do! It's a nice balance...
We have way too much fun in our ventures here on the farm
and always manage to create some pretty amazing structures and spaces to improve on our dream more and more each day!!
    While I'm talking about the 'outside' I'll see if I can remember all of our gifts!   Since we moved here 2 years ago now we have realized so many treasures! As far as edible's..  Probably 10 Keifer pear trees, (Used to have an orchard years ago here.)
Countless Pecan trees, 2 Peach trees,& 2 Plumb trees.
We have identified at least 3 Rose of Sharon trees/bushes, pink & white ones. Walking Iris' with the most vibrant red and yellow blooms. Azalea's everywhere! Pink and white as well. Crepe Myrtle trees, Lavender, Pink & White ones, They were so large we almost didn't recognize them!
We have Pines & Evergreens, Golden Rain trees, The most gorgeous Camelia bushes with solid AND multi colored! Rose bushes, Honeysuckle, 2 Citrus trees, A Grandfathers Beard tree, even some Wild Ginger.
   As I said.. there are so many gifts!
We feel so fortunate to have found the place when we did..
So many of these beautiful plants and trees were getting lost amongst nature after being left alone and neglected for so many years! Literally.. Nature was taking the property back, which truly is amazing to see, but really, a shame since Ina had given so much of herself to plant and place these beautiful things on the property.
   We don't own a riding mower, just an old push mower and we keep up with the grass areas with that. As time goes on we extend our vegetable and raised beds every chance we get. Each new Season finds more opportunity for us to expand and grow more self sustaining crops and food for ourselves and our livestock!
It's been extremely rewarding for us to work our gardens!
Every crop is an experiment for us still at this point.
We are seeing that some things are fully capable of growing 'out of season' yet some veggies won't seem to grow for us even under what should be ideal conditions or seasons!
So we go with what grows!
At this point I am comfortable in freezing..  Working on getting the nerve up to can!..  Just would rather not have us die of food poisoning right now so I need to gain some confidence in this area yet!! We are stocking up a nice cache in the freezer!  What a feeling of accomplishment!
We had a great crop this summer..  each year and season shows us more independence and purpose.
    Add to our Gardening we also have gained so much from our livestock!    We are confident in the chicken aspect of farm life. Some of our first chickens are over 3 years now.
I know they should be on the butcher block but I don't want to right now..  These are some of my original girls, We have a history. And on top of that, they are still some of my best laying hens!
    Its not that I'm afraid to chop a chicken up.
We have had a 'chicken butchering day' and had a great time figuring it all out together! Wound up with 5 young roosters in the freezer!
Currently we have over 40 hens now and more peeps than I care to admit to!  We're incubating and hatching out our own chicks & selling roosters, chicks and eggs when we can!
In addition we have raised and had slaughtered our very first pig a year ago this November. A beautiful Hampshire we named Ina! We still have some wonderful Ina chops in the freezer now!
In time we plan on adding more critters to the farm, especially those that can head to the freezer!


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