Wild Moon Cottage is a small working homestead in the pristine Ozark Mountains. We have dairy goats, poultry, organic herb and vegetable gardens, a start of a tiny fruit orchard, several black walnut trees, wild berries and fields of wildcrafting goodness. We raise our own milk, our own eggs, much of our own medicine and food. I do laundry by hand, make my own vinegar, candles, soap, bread, cheese ........ For a living I am an artist and herbalist. My goal for myself and our homestead is to be as self sufficient and self sustaining as possible.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Weeks of 9.20.15 - 10.3.15

I Love this time of year!!  Chilly mornings, warm days, cool nights.  Mist on the hills and magic in the air  :)

I’ve been doing a lot of drying… squash, pumpkin, peppers, pears, onions, ginger, apples.. Made some pear sauce and candied some ginger. I’m going to be making pumpkin and pumpkin pie bark next week. I also made cheese and yogurt last week.

Blessed food!

We bucked hay all day last Sunday. It’s been years and I wasn’t feeling good and probably only did ¼ or less of what the guys did, and was still sore the next day. But it was good hard work, we enjoyed it and being able to help a friend a little. We also got hay for ourselves!

I’ve gotten almost my whole studio moved back onto the enclosed back porch. It was a huge black snake spending time in the Stone House. Henry, I reckon. Anyway, I can work again!!!!  Thank the Mother!!!

More about making bog shoes
About Sage Grass, Crow’s Foot Grass and Foxtail grass
How to stack hay for safer travel

-Harvest  –

-Barter –
3 Ghost pumpkins
A box full of Green Bell Peppers
A huge long squash
A bunch of pinkish orange pumpkins
A ton of butternut squash
Several books
Heavy denim curtains
A few candles
2 months of natural Prairie grass hay

-Gifts –
Elk butter (it tastes just like butter!)
Shoulder of venison
Big bouquet of dried Sage Grass
Squash, pumpkins and peppers beyond our bartering

Homemade venison and barely soup with carrots, celery, lambs quarters, dock, onion and mushrooms. Served with homemade whole wheat soup crackers.
Butternut squash stuffed with wild rice, savory herbs and spices, onion, peppers, spinach and poke.
BBQ venison on homemade organic corn flour rolls, steamed organic broccoli with cheese.
Egg and smoked cheese sandwiches on homemade oat bread with carrot sticks on the side.
Cheese & Meat plate, summer sausage, smoked gouda, medium cheddar, olives, grapes, apple slices, crusty bread and pumpernickel rolls.

Homemade salsa and organic blue corn chips
Commercial hummus and O blue chips
Raw apples and pears
Homemade peanut butter granola

Pumpkin muffins
Biscuits and wild raspberry preserves
Cocoa oatmeal drop cookies
Scones with pear sauce
Cooked pears with caramel
Baked apples with cinnamon and butter
Goat milk ice cream with pear sauce
Pumpkin bread with walnuts

-Sunday Dinners-
Grilled split chicken with grilled squash, carrots and potatoes.
Venison kabobs – cubed and marinated over night. With potatoes, carrots, onion, squash and green bell peppers. Served on steamed brown rice.

Hot tea with goat milk and honey
Cold black pekoe and raspberry zinger
Cold Black pekoe with orange peel and honey
Ice cold goat milk (reg and chocolate)
Milk shake of ice cold goat milk and frozen banana
Cold Black pekoe
Mint tea (hot and cold)
Lemon Balm tea (hot and cold)
Hot chamomile tea
Cold green tea with honey

the portable firepit I got for 3.00. It was all rusty, the top screen all smashed in and the bottom rusted through. I cleaned and sanded, pushed the screen back out and painted it with heat proof paint I had leftover from painting the outside of the rusty grill oven from last year. I still need to find a metal piece for the bottom but it's usable now and looks almost new  :)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Aug 25th to Sept 11

Aug 25, Tuesday

It started out chilly but bright and beautiful. The first thing I did was grab a shawl and turn on the stove for my tea pot. It started to warm around 10:00 and by noon it was quite warm.

Yesterday I got the orchard path, campsite and front mowed. I’ve been having a feeling that the campsite will be needed soon, We’ll see. While mowing, I found one of the Pawpaws we planted a few years back. The others didn’t make it but I kept feeling like this one was alive, although I couldn’t find it when I looked. It’s small but healthy and growing!

We have a 3rd turkey poult, hatched yesterday. I hope to get a lot more but if not, I hope these 3 are a Royal Palm tom and 2 hens. Whatever they are, we’ll be thankful for them.

~Recent notes from my Wild Harvest journal…
There are very few black walnuts this year on the trees. They’re already staring to fall. No persimmons on their tree so far.
Poke is - abundant.
Parrilla - abundant
Queen anns - low
Bergamot – none on our property at all this year but abundant elsewhere (must establish in the herb gardens)
Rosehips – moderate but not nearly as abundant as previous years. Huge this year. There are some covered in white and look to be fused together with it.
Elderberries – got only what I covered. All others picked completely clean.
Vervain – abundant

We’ve been having a lot of trouble with internet again lately and some days can’t get online at all.

We have so much to do this fall I doubt we’ll get to the solar shower but, when we can, we’ll be moving the barrel set up closer to the house and running a hose from the barrels to the indoor shower. Possibly through a window at first but eventually through the vent pipe for the old propane water heater. This will give more privacy but also be warmer on cool days. It will still be set up for outdoor showers too though.

Anya’s wound is almost completely healed! I’m planning to go on a big wild harvest and wandering very soon. The only drawback to my new (bartered) saddle is that it has no tie ons at all. I was told I could cut it for them just like leather (reinforced with leather) but have been hesitant to try. Maybe I’ll try one and see. I need lots of tie ons for carrying my gear and harvest bags.

We had a very hard loss of poultry over the weekend. I can’t think what it could have been except for Coyotes. We lost 5 ducks, including both of our drakes. Boot, the Pekin drake, was the size of a goose. Nothing takes that much at once. Even a big cat would only take one and then leave with it. We never heard anything either and found no evidence.

Then yesterday I let the poultry out to freerange and we lost one of next years hens, a chick hen, very young but not tiny. She was about the size of a full roll of a grapefruit. She could have easily been taken by a hawk though. We expect some natural loss, we gratefully share this space with all sorts of wild folk, but it’s a hard loss nonetheless. The chick’s poor mother, Sunflower, waited and waited for the chick to come back. She sent her other 3 up to the barn but stayed out in the paddock for a long time. I had to go get her to put her up.

I’ll be leaving all the poultry in the pen for awhile. We free range year round but this time of year they really need to be out, building up for winter.
Pennyroyal and Pansy (our big does) should both be due any day now but I must have been off a month because, although they’re quite pregnant, they don’t look that close to birthing. They are both carrying minis though, they’re bred to Hickory, our Nigerian Dwarf buck. We’ll see. I usually keep good records but I forgot to write down the exact date that I separated them from him.

I got stung by a red wasp today! On the face, on my left cheek. It‘s a big deal because I’ve always gotten along very well with them and have only been stung twice in my life, when I was little and once when I put my hand down on one. I was folding tarps to put away and there must have been one, or a nest, in one of the tarps. It came straight our and hit me in the face, stinging instantly. How odd.  A little of my black walnut salve took the sting and most of the fire out. It’s a little sore and slightly swollen. The little bastard could have just buzzed me to tell me to leave it alone.

The day’s harvest –
Rose hips
Vervain  (probably the last for the year)

-Breakfast- bagel with butter, hot tea with creamer
-Lunch-  Irish oatmeal with brown sugar and local dairy milk. Hot tea
-Supper- leftover rice and broccoli with cheddar and raspberry tea
-Evening Tea- granola and hot tea

I may change our name to Abundant Moon Cottage  :)


Aug. 28, Friday

I am Not amused!  I just got stung 4 more times by the red menace. Same thing, same area. I checked, didn’t see any sign of red wasps, started working in the laundry yard, heard a buzzing, started for the house and the little compostable bastard stung me on the shoulder, under my upper arm and twice on the side, below my arm. 2 stings in 51 years and now 5 stings in less than a week. Tonight, when he’s dormant, I’m going hunting and we’ll see who has the last sting.

When Nik woke, late morning, he was pretty sick. By that time, I was also feeling a bit poorly but figured it was the 4 new stings. I realize now that we are both having some sinus things. Pressure pain, headache, weird throat.  Echinacea (virus or infection), vitamin C (immune boost and backup), Elderberry honey (throat care and back up to the others), sleep.

The day’s harvest –
4 hen eggs

-Lunch- spiced/herbed ham on homemade flat bread with my homemade dill dressing, and fresh tomato, onion and lambs quarters from the garden. water
-Evening Tea-

Lunch was an attempt at something like Gyros using what I had. It turned out surprisingly well but not Gyro like.  The ham tasted like herbed ham, the dill dressing was delicious but not cucumber sauce, and my flat bread is not fluffy like the tradition flat bread for Gyros.  Even so, I’ll make this again and just call it something else  :)
On Thursday, I sliced leftover ham in a similar shape and put it in a bowl with a cover. I added paprika, rosemary, onion, tarragon, sage, assorted cracked peppercorns. Made sure all the meat was well covered then covered with water and a splash of lemon. Marinated  for 24 hours.


Week of Sept. 11, 2015  

It’s quite cool today. I missed much of it again because of either over eating yesterday or eating something that didn’t agree with me. I’m fairly sure it’s the latter since I chugged a bunch of organic vanilla soy milk followed by a glass cold ginger ale. *-* 

The days have been busy but filled with good things. Putting up foods, moving my studio back into the enclosed back porch, putting in hay, general work toward fall and winter.

For two days we worked on loading and unloading hay bales. For ourselves, and to help a friend. I still have some sore muscles but it was good hard work, that I enjoyed.

We (or I) have been having terrible communication problems, again, AOL has gotten horrible and we can only get online every few days. The tracfone got funky and had a system fail and, even though I have plenty of minutes and days, we can’t make or receive any texts, voicemail or calls. They say they’re working on it but I don’t reckon it will work out until it’s time. I seem to have a Gee with communication and it could be caused subconsciously because of my severe hermitness. Which is growing stronger. Funny, I yearn for a clan (kith & kin) and to be all alone, at the same time.

Nik and I have both had terrible ragweed allergies this year. Never had them before, ever! I used to bring cut Goldenrod in for vases.

I think I have decided to switch over entirely to New Zealand rabbits. I love Mini Rex, particularly ours, but the 3 month old NZ does are bigger than the full grown MR. Meatwise, 1 NZ will equal almost 4 MR. And I’ve discovered that they come in several colors and broken (spotted), Their fur is softish but also coarse, nothing like the MR. But I understand that the NZ are easier to save the fur on, so that might also be a boon. And the fur is soft enough to use in lining shoes an making mittens etc..The NZs are also supposed to be much more efficient for meat than any other breed, except Californias.

Aside from bring more rabbits in, I’m working toward getting the population down for winter care. The goal is to have only the minimum smallstock needed to get through winter. And to have a fully stocked pantry and freezer. That will equal a lot less work outside for a hard year, which I seems we’re to have this winter, but still insure we and the animals have what we need and to have breeding stock come spring.

We’ve had some very bad poultry losses. We lost both drakes, an Ancona hen, 2 ducklings, a pullet, our only Buff Orp hen and all 3 turkey poults.

I've discovered what's living in The Stone House (my studio). It's a Huge black snake! I found it's shed which is incomplete and almost 4 ft long and over 8 in around  *-*

The week’s Harvest….
27 hen eggs
4 duck eggs
Hay grass seeds
Rose hips
Queen Ann seeds
Vervain (I found another batch to harvest)
Poke berries
Elderberries  ( very few)

The week’s Bartering has gotten us…..
8 pounds of oat bran
8 pounds of barley grain
5 lbs raw beeswax
3 doz. quart canning jars
Book on horse packing
2 New Zealand rabbit does (3 mths old)
A beautiful set, service for 8, brick red pottery dishes
A king size set of flannel sheets
(neither of us has a king bed but they’re in beautiful condition and can be made to fit a full bed or used as fabric)
A flannel patchwork skirt
A pair of black flat shoes
A little plaid purse
44 bales of good natural grass hay

4 magical little peacock feathers
A lovely horse book
A bag of small jars
A couple of pounds of whole oats
Some MRH Cat’s Claw
A huge wonderful squash
2 quart vinegar bottles

Nemo and me, growing older  :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Aug. 18th to 22nd

Aug. 18 Tuesday

Chilly this morning and absolutely stunning. We have mist almost every night and early morning. In the morning, when I look across the clearing, to the edge of the upper forest, it looks like gossamer decorating Her cathedral. Another gift on the huge list of blessings.

Something has gotten into my studio/workshop and is really creeping me out. I can’t find it but it’s left foul evidence on the floor and on my work table. I’ve started work on moving my studio back into the back porch which has halted some of my work.

This evening I’m reading about spinning wool by hand (without a spinning wheel)

The day’s harvest –
3 chicken eggs
Grass seed heads

-Breakfast- granola and water
-Lunch- ham on oat bread wth commercial mustard and veg sticks. La Croix
-Supper- vegetarian chicken patty on oat bread with homemade olive oil mayo and fresh tomato, oven fries with rosemary, pepper and sea salt. La Croix
-Evening Tea-  granola and a glass of raw milk


August 19, Wednesday

Rain and storms and we needed them. I love the rain and thunder rolling across the hills. It was also a bit chilly and the damp seeped in and made me want to hibernate  :)

I got some writing done, worked on my Memoirs and another book. Then sewed most of the rest of the day.  In the evening I did some more reading on wool, carding, spinning etc.. I plan on making candles in the next few days and got some wick soaking.

The day’s harvest –
5 chicken eggs
1 very tiny duck egg
A few Juniper v. berries
Salad greens – dock, lamb quarters, sorrel, dandelion, wild lettuce, clover

-Breakfast- oatmeal with honey and cinnamon. Hot Irish breakfast tea.
-Lunch-  ham sandwich on oat bread. Raspberry tea.
-Supper- soft tacos with beef, black beans, rice, cheese, garden onions, peppers, tomatoes on homemade tortillas. Raspberry tea
-Evening Tea- natural peanut butter and local honey on the last of the oat bread. Hot chamomile.


August 20, Thursday

A bright and chilly morning!  I grabbed a shawl as soon as I got up and put the kettle on for some hot tea.

Pepper’s birthday is tomorrow, that’s been so much on my mind. She loved her birthday and loved telling people her birthday was coming up. She’s at peace and things are as they should be but my heart is missing another piece and my soul feels thinner and more worn.

Finished shearing the sheep. Bartered for and picked up a new cast iron manual pitcher spout water pump for the cistern. Got a load of hay (Nik did most of the work). Worked on running the solar shower into the house. Got some things out of my studio. Still can’t figure out what’s in there. There was a third big splat of something on the floor and in the same area. It came from the rafters above but there’s nothing there.

 Pump for the cistern

Sweet Sage. He's so laid back, calm, gentle, patient and wise.

The day’s harvest –
3 hen eggs
Poke berries
Grass heads for seeds
Unidentified flowers for the vase
2 bags of wonderful, raw Shetland wool

-Breakfast- commercial apple bars and dry cereal. Hot Irish breakfast tea with organic cow milk and local honey
-Lunch- ham sandwich, commercial potato chips. Cold Black pekoe
-Evening Tea-


Aug. 21, Friday

Happy Birthday Pepper, I love you

Cool and overcast, a fine Irish day. One of my favorite kinds :)

We’ve been having trouble with aol again and  can’t get online very often.

I’m keeping the goats in the pens for now because the big ones are near birthing time and this is about the same time last year that I saw the big beautiful Bobcat. Plus we have plentiful Song Dogs, who generally don’t bother anyone but might be drawn to. and Nemo has to be up during the day because of his car chasing.  I’m hoping to have a larger area permanently fenced in before winter. Right now the goats and sheep freerange or get tied out in places, which I’ll still do for mowing purposes, but they need a safer area that Nemo can watch over. The big does go into the horse pen but the NDs, Sage and babies can get right out. Even the big does can get out of there.

Did laundry but it didn’t get dry enough outside so it’s back inside to dry. Cleaning wood today, furniture, window frames etc. I’m all natural for most of my cleaning but I still use Murphy’s for wood. It’s 98% natural, I think. And I like the scent. I learned from my friend Barbara P to add a few drops of lavender. I add lavender oil to all sorts of things for cleaning and more, but hadn’t thought of adding it to the Murphys.

We had our first turkey poult hatch out today and a second is on it’s way!  I’m not sure what Bourbon Reds look like as poults. I’ve gotten a brooder ready  :)

The day’s harvest –
5 hen eggs
Poke Berries

-Breakfast-  hot tea with organic cow’s milk and local honey
-Lunch- leftover taco meat, black beans and rice in a bowl with clover and magenta lambs quarters. Water.
-Supper-  vegetarian chicken patty with mushrooms and carrots. La Croix
-Evening Tea-  apple crumble with last fall’s apples from the freezer. Hot tea


Aug. 22, Saturday

I woke with a headache and not feeling well. I think it’s a sinus thing. Aspirin for breakfast  *~*

It was supposed to storm all day but nary a drop has fallen since I woke.

Got some sewing done. I’m working on making some gathering aprons. Also finished taking in some skirts and a cotton slip with eyelet trim made from a bed skirt ( Thank you for the idea, Barbara!!!!).  Of the gathering aprons, I’ll be making both half and full.

Created a new chick brooder, which seems to be working much better. It’s a metal cage which I wrapped in plastic, covered the top with foil, except for the space for the heat lamp and added an old blanket on top, far away from the lamp but will help hold the heat on the cool side. The poults are doing well, staying under the light but not huddling.

The day’s harvest –
3 hen eggs

-Breakfast- Cooked apples with cinnamon and honey. Hot tea with milk
-Lunch-  tea
-Supper- leftover piece of chicken and tea
-Evening Tea- 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

week of 8.11th to the 17th 2015

Aug 11, Tuesday

The day was gorgeous! High 80s, low humidity, wonderful breeze. A perfect day for working outside.

Painted some outdoor furniture - painted a big, old cast candle holder - weeded in the garden - gathered tomatoes - gathered polk berries and prepared and drying for year round use - cleaned rabbit hutches - raked and cleaned a little around the barn - wandered out around the pond with Anya and cats as escorts - then moseyed down to the orchard with Fox and cats as escorts.

This evening I’m reading and learning more about shearing, carding, and skirting wool fleece.

-Breakfast – egg sandwich with melted goat cheese and fresh tomato slices on toasted honey oat bread. water to drink.
-Lunch - small, leftover breaded, oven fried steak on bread with homemade olive oil mayo. Raspberry ice tea to drink.
-Supper – leftover chicken with the last jar of applesauce from last year (made from wonderful little barnyard apples with lots of cinnamon) and oven fried potatoes. More Raspberry ice tea to drink.
-Evening Tea – Berry Bake made with our raspberries and local blackberries from town. A cup of chamomile tea.

Berry Bake  (or Apple, Pear, Peach Bake etc)

Melt a little butter in a dutch oven and layer fruit at least an inch thick. Depending on natural sweetness, drizzle honey or sprinkle sugar (cane or brown) over the fruit and dot with a little unsalted butter. Add any spices you want in the fruit here too. Cinnamon and clove for apples and pumpkin etc.. I don’t add anything to the berries but a little honey or sugar.

Make a batch of biscuit dough to drop biscuit consistency and add a little extra sugar if you want a sweeter dough or save it for the top. Drop by spoonfuls on top of the fruit and smooth the globs together a little here and there. Be careful though, not to push the dough into the fruit to much.

If you want a sugared top, which is very good with apples, sprinkle a little sugar over your dough. For apples or pumpkin I usually sprinkle a little cinnamon too.

Bake covered, until wooden skewer comes out clean (careful not to poke it into the fruit) and top is lightly browned.

You can use pumpkin or sweet potato but I always cook both of these until they’re soft before adding. Combinations are wonderful. Apple and any berry, cherry berry, apple and pumpkin, apple raisin or cranberry ….   I also sometimes add walnuts or pecans to fruit.


Aug. 12, Wednesday

Another absolutely beautiful day! Perfect weather for summer doings.

Only got a few things done today but they were big things and took much of the day. Mowed (easy but takes a lot of time. Thankfully it’s something I enjoy), got Sage the sheep partially sheared (took over an hour and didn’t get to the main fleece (back) yet), painted the indoor wood rack, burned trash, cleaned more around the property, bagged up dry herbs

-Breakfast – sausage gravy and potato potpie. Water
-Lunch – leftover pinto and navy beans turned into baked beans with bread and butter, Ice tea
-Supper –   Ice tea
-Evening Tea – animal crackers and chamomile

Aug 13, Thursday

Town day and beautiful weather for it. In the mid 80’s with low humidity.  Always plenty to do on town day. Bank, feed store, grocery sore, parking lot for an hour free wifi, walmart, stopped by some friend’s house and picked up my new (very old) treadle sewing machine I bartered for. It’s in a lot worse shape than I expected but it’s still very beautiful and (I think) fixable.

- Breakfast – water
- Lunch -  A big bacon burger in town with an unsweet  ice tea
- Supper – raw carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and cherry toms with commercial yogurt ranch dressing. Raspberry ice tea.
- Evening Tea -  Kisses and black pekoe. It’s been cool enough in the evenings to have hot tea.


Aug. 14, Friday

Another beautiful day! How blessed we are  :) 

Aside from the usual…. I did 3 loads of laundry. Mowed the laundry yard, back and campsite. Still working toward painting in the kitchen. There are a lo of little things hat need tending… pulling off old board, filling holes, filling cracks large and small, a little sanding etc.. I could probably get it all done much faster, if I didn’t do anything else. But this is working well, doing a little at a time then going on to something else. I finished painting the indoor woodrack and the base of the portable fire pit.

- Breakfast -  homemade granola and water.
-Lunch- Jasmine rice with broccoli and cauliflower, with sharp cheddar and cracked pepper. Ice cold La Croix
- Supper –


Aug. 15, Saturday

Gathered up all tarps and hung on lines to clean and see what we have for winter use.

-supper- homemade pasta in parmesan white sauce with onion, cracked peppercorns and peas.


Aug. 16, Sunday

Beautiful day!

We visited a friend who had just gotten home from the hospital and took them a basket of things to make life a little easier for the next few days. From there to get a load of hay. And then home for Sunday Dinner.

-Breakfast – commercial apple fruit bars and water
-Lunch- commercial sweet roll and commercial raspberry ice tea
-Supper- grilled pork steaks, grilled carrots, celery, peas in pods and cherry tomatoes and cooked sweet corn with cow butter and black pepper. Iced vanilla tea.  Delicious!
-Evening Tea- grilled peaches with goat’s milk ice cream and a cup of black pekoe.


Aug. 17, Monday

Looked like it might start raining at anytime but never did. A little more humid but still a lovely day.

Cleaned around the barn, checked on things for the storms coming, moved some things to safer areas, checked feed supplies and made lists of what’s needed,  worked more on the kitchen (having trouble removing some of the old tile board), prepared the wood area for more firewood, started clearing out for the next fencing to go up.

The day’s harvest –
5 chicken eggs
1 duck egg
Sage leaves
Echinacea leaves
1 tomato
4 carrots
Queen Ann’s dried seed heads

-Breakfast- water
-Lunch- leftover pizza, raw veggies and yogurt ranch dip. Ice black pekoe
-Supper- leftover chicken, leftover swt corn, leftover pasta, honey oat bread. Ice black pekoe
-Evening Tea- dry sweet cereal and a glass of cold raw cow’s milk


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Aug. 10, 2015

I missed most of the day for sleeping. I don’t know why but I was unable to sleep during the night and so napped for some hours today. I needed the sleep, to be sure, but I really missed being a part of the day.

Something has taken all our duck eggs. There were 4 Ancona nests and one Pekin nest, all with eggs. This morning all the eggs were gone. No shells or evidence, they were just gone. I was suspicious because Grace, the Pekin hen, has been sitting on hers regularly, which means we would have had more ducklings in another couple of weeks. She was off them longer than usual this morning so I checked and there are none left to sit on.

We have a very large black snake (Henry), who lives under Rabbitville. He keeps away his deadlier fellows and in exchange, takes an occasional egg. But, he only takes one at a time and I find the regurgitated shell the next day. This is probably a raccoon. I’ve left the barn door open so Nemo can go in. Hopefully he will sort it out and we can remove the culprit. The loss of all the duck eggs is a hard thing. I have a waiting list for ducklings and we needed duck meat for the winter stores. But things will work out, they always do  :)

Last Thursday I did some bartering and got us a beautiful little full blooded (no papers) spotted, Nigerian Dwarf doe. Her name is Willow and she’s fitting right in. The plan is for her and Hickory (our full blooded, blue eyed, moon spots, Nigerian Dwarf buckling from last fall) to add homestead income, meat and milk.

We also have two full size dairy does due late this month or early Sept.. Selling the weaned kids should give us a little profit toward winter animal prep and a good fresh supply of milk/dairy for many months.

We currently have 5 regular laying hens with 3 more to start soon and eight more to start next spring, so that should keep us in eggs. Plus duck eggs, if I start gathering them. Just the thing for rich winter breads and pastries.

We don’t have ducks or chickens for butcher though, which I had hoped t have by now. That will leave the meat very lean for the fall and winter. But I’ve concentrated on rebuilding our smallstock and pens etc rather than breeding.

We’ve not had rabbit babies in a year because of rebuilding the rabbitry. But it’s close to done so breeding has started again. We’re down to 5 Mini Rex, 2 does and 3 bucks. The plan here is to continue raising the rex for sale/trade but to add a larger meat breed as well. I love the Mini Rex but it take 4 to 5 to feed all the meat eaters for a day. A larger meat breed would make that 2 rabbits for a day. That’s feeding Nik, 3 dogs (1 huge) and 8 cats. I don’t care for rabbit and it’s hard for me to eat what I kill. For meat twice a week, that would be up to 10 mini rex or 4 new zealands.

The vegetable garden is starting to dwindle. A few tomatoes every few days. It didn’t do well this year at all. A few squash, peppers, tomatoes, onions, greens….  Next year, there’s always hope for next year  :)  And I have some fall planting to do, which may do better. The Ozarks has a fairly long growing season, thank The Mother.

Wild and herb harvest have been very good and I have a lot drying now.

I’m hoping to get a top back on the cold frame before the weather turns. The old top broke when a limb fell on it and I’ve not gotten it replaced. I have two old, very heavy, glass doors I may try to use. Plexiglass would be much lighter and easier to handle. We’ll see, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. The doors are much heavier but insulated.

We have turkey eggs in the incubator. I trade rabbits for 21 Royal Palm and 4 Bourbon Red. Plucked fresh from under the turkey hens. Which actually makes it a bit trickier in hatching them because I have no idea when to stop turning. But it’s worth the trying. There was one cracked egg which got tossed so we’re down to 20 RPs.

Like our Nigerian Dwarf and Oberhasli goats, Shetland/Leicester sheep, Ancona and Welsh Harlequin ducks and Autralorp, Buff Orpington and Plymoth Rock chickens, both the Royal Palm and Bourbon Red are heritage breeds. The RPs in particular are what I want t raise for trade, meat and eggs. They’re the smallest of the full size turkeys and will fit better here. But the Bourbons don’t seem a lot bigger than the RPs in person. I was surprised at that. And the BRs are beautiful birds.

I had gotten away from keeping a harvest journal but am getting back into it. It’s an important tool in many ways. To be able to see what’s usually in season in your exact area and to monitor harvests from year to year….  It’s also a joy to read on lazy days and remember harvests past. I keep it by weeks and try to note the days as well. I note what I harvested, where I found it, how much and how the whole plant/plants looked. The basic weather that season or week or month etc… I was reading through and found that the raspberry harvest 2011, from our cultivated wild patch, was abundant thought the berries were smallish they were still quite juicy even with the drought of that year.

This week, in addition to regular chores, I’m working on … sewing an apron or two, two Spirit Totem art dolls, preparing to paint the kitchen cabinets, walls and floor, enlarging some animal pens, preparing to fence in more area, harvesting and preserving foods and medicinals, shearing the sheep, reorganizing the cottage, bartering for a lovely working treadle sewing machine, inventorying the pantry and freezer and cleaning the freezer out.

Nik gave me a most excellent gift last week. A book I have wanted for years! The Garden Cottage Dairies, by Fiona Houston. I can’t stop reading it, I absolutely love it! It’s wonderful to read the first hand accounts of a modern woman living the old ways. I live many of them now but am striving to move further that way each year. There are plenty of wonderful accounts of life in the day but it’s very different to live that way now. http://www.amazon.com/Garden-Cottage-Diaries-Eighteenth-Century/dp/1887354662/ref=sr_1_1_twi_2_har?ie=UTF8&qid=1436561257&sr=8-1&keywords=cottage+garden+diary

How incredibly grateful I am to be so nourished by life. I live daily, surrounded by profound beauty. A slice of homemade bread on a stoneware plate, the gentle eyes on a loving dog, my feet and knowing how far they've carried me with the hope that they carry me many miles more.  I am truly blessed.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

7.18.15 Pictures from around the cottage

Just in from gathering my lunch. A huge salad of wild lettuce, magenta lambs quarters, dock, and clover from the property, and tomatoes and onion from the garden. I added homemade croutons, a sliced boiled egg and homemade honey mustard dressing. I made the dressing with spicy, stone ground mustard, local honey and all natural sunflower oil. that was good but it wasn't creamy enough so I added a tablespoon of homemade mayo and it's wonderful!

I've been working on rebuilding the rabbitry. The biggest colony was destroyed a while back and we never rebuilt, as planned. But through some wild moon wheeling and dealing this week, I got two huge doe hutches and 4 large buck hutches. With what I already had, rabbitville is looking great and the buns are very happy! I stopped all breeding as the hutches and space got smaller but now they can start again before winter.

They still have the smaller colony but I think I'm going to turn that into a huge do hitch as well. I've spent the last year assessing what the most economical breeds would be, space, food, meat, litters etc etc.. and I believe a larger meat rabbit would truly be best. If only because in procuring meat I would have to do less killing for the same amount of meat. I love the Mini Rex though so we'll see. I have adequate room now for larger rabbits. We'll see. I'll take pictures of the new rabbitville soon.

Anya is doing wonderfully. I've left the wrap off the last two days and the wound has come together more and is starting to scab over. No sing of infection or any other trauma to the area. Still haven't found where or what she did it on and there should have been a lot of blood. Definitively not an animal.

And here are the photos  :)

 This is Mr. Fox or Fox No-Ears. He's the Cottage butler, he escorts us from and to the door and to check the mail. He is also the alarm system and partner to Captain Nemo, cottage security.

Here you can seen his poor torn off ear. The top circle is torn off completely and the bottom is a shred of skin. He's fine just as he is, I don;t know if I'll take him to have the skin trimmed up. We have come to love him very much.

This is Old Hen, 14 years old!!!  with two if her chicks. The other two are nearby. None are actually hers but she hatched them out and raised them like her own. She an excellent mother.

 Lavender or Lilac and her ducklings

 Mullein, or more accurately, Minion Mullein. Paneer is raising him but he follows me everywhere!  We also call him Puppy Mullein.
Mullein is 25% LaMancha, 25%Saanen, 16% each Nubian, Kiko and Boer. He has LaMancha elf ears, light Boer colored head, dairy buck rear and meat buck shoulders. He's one of the sweetest and smartest goats we've ever had.

 Sweet, old Raspberry. We call him Black Buddha because when he's sitting up he's a head and a big fat belly. He's getting old though and in this summer's heat and humidity he sleeps a lot. 

Bounty. I have tomatoes and onions from our garden but these are all from a friend. The week was so prosperous! I traded for all this and more last Monday.

Hoe Very Blessed we are  :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Sandwich

For lunch I had a simple peanut butter and jam sandwich. Just peanut butter, jam and bread, just a sandwich. But it became so much more. The first bite I took was big and, as I slowly chewed and tasted, I remembered it’s journey and my part in it.

The first thing I tasted was the wheat bread I had made a few days ago. I remembered scooping out the flour and bagging it up at the store. I recalled the sticky texture while kneading the dough, the smell of the yeast while it was rising, the warmth of the pan when I took it from the little camp oven on the grill. I remembered slicing the bread and nibbling a piece that broke off and thinking how good it would be as a sandwich.

The next taste was the raspberry jam. I remembered the sweat, and scratches and pestilent bugs while gathering those sweet little berries. I remembered the bright burst of flavor with each one I popped into my mouth and then bemoaning the fact that I was eating more than I was saving. I remember catching my reflection as I passed the mirror and laughing out loud at my raspberry lipstick. I remember the wonderful raspberry smell that filled the house as I cooked the jam and the hot stickiness when I ladled it into the jars. I remember thinking how grateful I would be every time I opened one of them.

And then I tasted the peanut butter and time began to fold. I recalled buying it at the store and double checking the country of origin and ingredients. Even though I check it every time I buy it. Then it brought back memories of when Nik was little and I made homemade peanut butter with raw peanuts and oil. And then of eating P&Js with Pepper when we were kids. I wondered if she remembered them too. She loved peanut butter.

Those memories took me further adrift, so I set my plate aside and closed my eyes. I could hear sea gulls and the ocean washing upon the sand. I recalled a day that I made peanut butter and honey sandwiches, which my Love and I took to the beach. We sat on a towel and watched the waves roll in, quietly eating our sandwiches and lost in thought.

And I remember my thoughts from way back then. They were of the future and where I wished I could be. My wish then, over 30 years ago, was to live simply, quietly and peacefully. Off grid, by hand, with the Earth. Somewhere alone in the deep country, with my Love and a horse, dogs, cats, chickens, garden …..

He’s not here, of course, he crossed the veil by his own hand not long after that day of peanut butter and honey sandwiches. But today’s raspberry jam and peanut butter reminded me that I am so incredibly blessed, that most of my dreams have come true and that a sandwich isn’t always just a sandwich.