May Homestead Update

May passed us by in such a whirlwind of activity that I didn’t think much of consequence actually happened in those 31 days. But a quick scan of the contents of my camera  proved otherwise. Low and behold! Exciting things happened! Lots of them!

Some have already made it to this blog; most have not. So let this post serve as a catch up for you on all the not-to-be-missed happenings at our mountain home.

Impromptu Trip to Georgia

Ian’s parents are making some big changes. The kinds of changes that involve uprooting their lives and moving states away from their home near Pittsburgh to live in sunny, coastal Georgia. They took a week-long house hunting trip earlier this month and invited us along. I momentarily put away my sorrow about the imminent reality that all my family will soon be living ten hours away from me and took full advantage of a few days at the beach.

It was my birthday, so Ian baked me a cake fit for a tropical beach vacation! #menthatbake #he’sakeeper
A major highlight of the trip was taking our two puppies to the beach. They loved the sand and waves but never quite figured out that the seawater was ALWAYS going to be salty when they tried to gulp mouthfuls of it. Slow learners I guess.
We aren’t in Appalachia anymore! Down in the estuaries of Georgia alligators like this are a common sight.

We had a glorious trip, and I’ve decided Christmases spent on a southern beach might not be such a bad deal after all.

The Arupe Scholars Service Group

The Arupe students are part of a special scholarship program at Wheeling Jesuit University that emphasizes service. In their second year of service they focus on serving in state and come to Big Laurel to help in any way they can. Rainy, cold weather was no deterrent for them- we put everyone to work inside! Buildings were cleaned and organized, floors were painted, and Tupperware was organized.

But never fear, lest you worry there was too much work involved, know that plenty of time was made for country dances, Mexican food and card games.

Thanks to Arupe, Big Laurel is ready for our summer camp season!

Garden Updates

We are in a time of feast and famine in regards to rain and sunlight at present. When it rains it pours for days; when the sun shines it scorches my seedlings and cracks the soil. Yet somehow our plants are still thriving. We ate quite a bit of food from the garden in April and added a few new vegetable types this month.

Newly tilled soil makes the garden look more organized than the reality. My haphazardness means Ian’s OCD is pushed to the breaking point. He’s Ian threatening to put weed mat over everything next year or at least force me to plant in straight rows.
Potatoes have beautiful blossoms! Who knew?!

Back in March, Ian planted a few potatoes in tires to see if we could grow them in leaf litter. Since then we’ve learned that toxins from the tires can leach into the spuds so we probably won’t be eating these. Still, it’s a fun experiment to see if they will grow!

Toxic tires: talk about overcoming obstacles to thrive.
At the same time we also built strawberry tunnels out of old pvc pipe. Sadly the roots never took hold, but we recently replanted some strawberry starts instead and they seem to be doing great.
The kohlrabi is golf ball size, quickly approaching baseball sized!
I almost threw my broccoli seedlings out this spring because they were so puny. So glad I didn’t- this head should be ready to eat soon.

We’ve been eating boc choi all month. It’s a little unfortunate that it all seemed to peak at the same time, as we’ve been having trouble keeping on top of it all! Asian stir fries all night, every night.

Anyone have some ideas for other ways to prepare this green??

Pretty in the garden.
Prettier on my kitchen table.
Prettiest sautéed with ginger and soy sauce!
Another stellar meal. Home grown grilled asparagus and tortellini with cold frame swish chard and goat cheese. Sadly we don’t produce our own goat cheese…yet. 😉

Dog Drama (and the ‘Brownie Incident’)

Two dogs are certainly better than one, but they can also be quite a bit more trouble than one. Well, that’s a little unfair. In most cases our two puppies entertain each other all day, playing and wrestling around the yard. They demand much less attention from us, but what they DO demand is more hygiene maintenance.

These two are filthy. Not only do they spend all day running around in the woods, they also consistently jump into our dank pond and every mud puddle they can find. If I I’m writing on the couch and smell a swamp smell, I know one of them is near by.

Baths are worthless when they immediately jump back in puddles, so we are doing our best to towel dry them before they come inside. But their messiness is a minuscule price to pay for how much enjoyment we get out of them and how much I look forward to walking in the woods with them every day.

Treat time on the trail!
The heavy clay soil around us retains water for weeks and weeks. Perfect conditions for mud puddles.
Our soil is CLAY. I don’t even know where Wendell FOUND this nasty puddle, much less why he had the compulsion to go in.
And to think we initially adopted him because we thought his dappled coat would camouflage the dirt. HA

The Brownie Incident

It’s becoming abundantly clear that Aldo is a puppy full of unreleased energy from his time at the pound. Walks seems to wind him up, not wear him out, and I fear for the lives of the deer he decides to chase. Our house seems to bore him and he’s taken it upon himself to redecorate, usually by moving our smelliest personal items (shoes, socks, underwear) onto his dog bed or even out on the lawn through the cat door. Recently he’s been doing the same to food, taking out our recyclables and in one instance my mango. But all that pales in comparison to ‘the Brownie Incident.’

We had been gifted almost a full pan of chocolate brownies and were excitedly anticipating eating them later that night. Well THAT didn’t happen. We made the mistake of leaving them unchaperoned on the kitchen table for about three minutes, which turned out to be all the time Aldo needed to gobble them down. Seriously impressive- he and Ian should go at it in an eating competition sometime.

In any case, I was sick with worry. Even a little chocolate can be deadly for dogs and these were stuffed with it.  Aldo looked pretty sick himself, laying on his side, belly distended, and ignoring our calls to him. But there was nothing we could do; it was late in the evening and any vet available would be hours away.

So he slept it a way. At 4am Aldo’s belly ache turned into a sugar rush and he went CRAZY: barking, running around the house, and bringing toys to his bed (even the tinfoil from the brownies!) It’s days later and he’s still abnormally hyper. I guess it’s good practice for having a toddler someday.

Internet Issues

I’ve been moaning and complaining about our very slow, very limited internet options out here (this post and most others are written at 6am, the time we have ‘unlimited data’.) I believe that the monopoly that Frontier has on internet services around here is contributing to the poor level of service we are receiving. You can check out my rant here.

I have a love-hate relationship with this satellite dish.

Giving Stitches to a Silkie

Our favorite chicken suffered a horrific side injury earlier this month, but thankfully Ian used his first aid knowledge and ability to stay calm under pressure to stitch her up with a sewing kit we found in a desk drawer.

The good news? She survived the traumatic experience like a champ and has been thriving.

I was so disgusted that I couldn’t take these pictures. Credit goes to my brother who was visiting.
Poor, poor bird…
Making the final snip.

Freelance Writing

I started a new endeavor this month- attempting to start a freelance writing business while living on the mountain! I’ve made slow but steady progress these past few weeks, landing five legitimate jobs and netting $177 in two weeks. This comes to just under $7 per hour of writing time, but that figure DOESN’T count the time I’ve spent searching, applying, and bidding on jobs- which has been significant. I think this time will be reduced as I make connections that turn into repeat business and hone my writing skills to be faster and more efficient.

My biggest takeaway? There IS writing work out there and people are willing to pay me for it. Making these connections and showing clients my value is going to be entirely up to me.

My new best friend.

Passive Income From This Blog

I’ve recently joined the Amazon Associates program, meaning that amazon purchases that go through a special link on this blog give me a small percentage of commission. Check it out here!

PLEASE NOTE: I goofed up earlier and had an Amazon link that didn’t work. If you have already visited my ‘support this blog’ page and saved the link, please go back and re-save the link again. This one should be properly working now.

Start of Summer Camps

June and July are summer camp season here, meaning I’d going to be pretty busy these next few weeks. My posting frequency may go down, but never fear I’ll still be waking up early to write when I can.

And that’s the month of May at the Knob house. How did your month compare?

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3 thoughts on “May Homestead Update

  1. Great picture of your dad! It made me smile. Your comments about planting your garden in rows remind me of my mom and dad. Mom didn’t care if the rows were crooked because she could get more in them. Dad used a string line to keep them straight and evenly spaced, probably so he could get the rotortiller down the aisles.

    Millie likes to collect things while we are away too. The trainer said it probably comforts her. The kids got a big laugh when she collected a pair of Reuben’s dirty underwear. At least she didn’t eat them.

    1. Oh I love this! I feel entirely justified in my planting technique now that I know I’m just taking after Grandma. 😀

  2. I am terribly curious to know if the potatoes really absorb toxins from the tires. I can’t seem to find any information on the internet from anyone who has sent their potatoes to a lab for testing, just lots of speculation. I bet this would make a great science project for a kid.

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