June Homestead Report

This report marks our very first “Homestead Report.” I chose this title in effort to pay homage to the Wehr family who built our home and whose decedents lovingly refer to it as the “Homestead.” I hope this report will give you a bit more of a peek of what life is like here in the middle (of nowhere) but also inspire you to take a few minutes to jot down or take mental note of all that you have accomplished, experienced, and have grown from in these past 31 days.

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Hello friend,

It’s hard to believe the end of June has arrived and the month that certifies the beginning of summer is slipping quickly into the rearview. I feel like it was just yesterday I was freshening up my herb garden with new potting soil and carefully planting each plant into the old kitchen sink and vintage copper baking canisters to set around the porches. I went from protecting each plant from the frosty colder nights to ensuring they have plenty of sun and water so they can thrive throughout this fleeting season. As the herb garden has been flourishing and we’ve been able to enjoy snagging those few ingredients from our own porch to toss on top of a pizza or our tacos the hens have been enjoying having the windows and doors open on their coop every day and sporadic treats to keep them cool-more on that later in the report!

Before stepping into July, as it will arrive quickly here at the end of the week, I felt like it would be fun to take a glance at what all June had to offer and take inventory of what occurred at the homestead in the areas of the restoration of our 185-year-old home, the garden, the coop, and our family.

Thank you for dropping into the middle today!

This was a successful month for the homestead as Aaron, my husband, completed some of the most tedious gutter work and we became quick at tearing down and setting up scaffold which family was so kind to allow us to use since this past fall. We couldn’t have done this work without it!  Aaron has come to nearly the end of repairing mortar, cutting and painting rake boards and installing new gutters around the house and installing a couple new windows.  There is only a little finishing work that remains and one easy gutter to hang on our front porch along with a rain chain-which I’m super excited about. Next up, we will be rebuilding an awning and side porch and hopefully figure out where the porch light is wired to so we can replace the light and begin using it. Oh, how I love a good mystery/hunt!

In addition to the exterior house projects, we have been already begun to think of what lies ahead in the next two years. Having that plan established allows us to focus on what’s at hand, appreciate how far we’ve come, and to pace ourselves as these old homes are more of a marathon than a sprint. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t have plenty of other things we’re tending to like bush hogging fields, cutting down fallen trees and branches, and other small maintenance items that arise from time to time.

New to the Homestead.

The homestead acquired a late 1800’s camelback trunk this month! A fellow old house steward, Teresa, and friend on Instagram reached out to see if I would be interested in caring for a couple of trunks. One of the trunks caught my eye and she offered to bring it out to the house, so I gave them a tour of the house, pointed out some of its quirks and neat history, and then our kiddos took off playing together giving us a chance to chat.

I have to say, old house friends are the only people I’ll meet on a whim and show them our home that is a work in progress. I know they understand and appreciate what, we too, appreciate. Teresa is now the third old house steward who I met on Instagram and have met in person. While we have taken trips to Currituck, NC to meet Christina and Johnny and stayed with Amanda in her gorgeous New England farmhouse in Franconia, New Hampshire, Teresa is conveniently just across town, and I couldn’t be more excited to be near an old house friend!

You can see Teresa’s gorgeous 1830’s home by clicking here and you can get a peek inside of the beautiful Charles Taylor trunk here.

Our garden is planted!

I honestly wanted to stop at that line because it is truly a miracle for us. Mother nature was busy giving us lots of rain and then really high temps. We would wait for the dirt to be dry enough to run the tiller in the evening and then wouldn’t you know we’d get hit with another quick storm that soaked it all over again. Even after having planted the garden, we had several storms and had to replant sections of the garden. Now that the garden is planted and tamed, wouldn’t you know our tiller is now acting up. Which means all hands-on deck this week making sure it doesn’t become a jungle like we encountered before.

Here is a list of what’s planted in the garden:

  • Tomatoes-a variety
  • Bell Peppers-red, yellow, green
  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Onions-red, white, yellow
  • Cucumbers-including snacking
  • Pumpkins
  • North Carolina Watermelon-Individual size and ones that get very large
  • Cantaloupe
  • Loofa
  • Beans-washed out. We need to replant a row.

The hens say hello from the coop! The girls are currently enjoying a nice steady summer rain and will likely be enjoying a worm or two as soon as it passes.

There has been a lot of happenings this month with the coop. We’ve lost a trio of hens, greenie, yellie, and sky this month due to old age. The last bird that passed this month happened on our date night. We arrived home late and when Aaron walked out to check on the girls, he found her. Now while I know a lot of people handle their animals differently, Aaron has always buried these birds for us, and that night was no different.

The next day in the afternoon, wouldn’t you know the kids and Aaron are cautioning me not to drive the mower over along the ravine. I of course disregarding their warning and drove over anyways out of curiosity. The kids walked alongside me and decided it would be better to inform me there were feathers everywhere and that there was an empty hole in the ground. Was I surprised? Absolutely not. Sometimes nature is going to take what it needs and that is a lesson I keep experiencing out here in the middle.

With temps in the high nineties and humidity making it feel like it was over 100 degrees, I was sure to do all that I could to help keep our hens cool. Chickens don’t sweat and cool themselves through their comb (the part on top their head) and their feet. So, in the afternoons when it was really hot, I filled the baby pool with nice cool water and put out in the chicken run an ice ring that I had filled with cranberries and blueberries for them to peck at in the shade.

With temperatures high for days in a row, it can be very stressful for them. In effort to help with a bit of pecking that was going on, we added a teeter totter for them, an additional shaded area allowing them to spread out from one another and put out some ramps and more wood piles which they love to climb on and explore. The biggest change and what I hope helps the situation the most is letting the hens free range. They have been enjoying themselves so much being free and as much as we are in and out of the house, and the fact we haven’t seen hawks lately it is my hope this will make everyone a bit happier in the coop.

We continue to get about a dozen eggs a day from our hens. We have family and locals who reach out weekly to purchase which has been wonderful since it’s been hot, and I can’t put them on the farmstand in a cooler in the heat. I just worry with the amount of sun the farm stand gets they wouldn’t last all day.

Would you believe this! Someone left us three bags of feed for our hens on the farm stand! I sent Aaron and photo and he asked me if I was selling feed now. Ha! Certainly not, but those bags filled all of our containers up and truly meant a lot to us! Whoever you are, THANK YOU!

We celebrated Aaron’s birthday this month and he requested I make his favorite lemon blueberry cake (I’ll share the recipe this summer with you!) It was a delicious treat after having homemade pizza out of Aaron’ new pizza oven. In honor of Aaron’s birthday, my parents gifted him with an amazing spruce. We are trying to decide the best place to plant it where we can enjoy it and has plenty of room to grow.

Speaking of growing, with all the rain and hot temperatures, our fields have been growing faster than we can keep up. A few weekends ago, Aaron was out bushhogging the lower field around our pond and wouldn’t you know he found a five-foot-long black snake down in the grass. It was huge, like it had been enjoying feast after feast. The snake unfortunately didn’t make it because it had gotten nicked by the tractor, but I have to say he or she had to have been keeping the mice away from the house because of how thick it was!

Speaking of mice, a few days after the found snake, Caroline woke up and was calling for all of us to come up stairs because there was a big mouse in her room. It was hilarious because she was upset with our cat, Blizzard. She said he was being lazy and wouldn’t get up and attack it. As any parent would do, I interrupted her complaint with, “Well, if you’d keep your room picked up, it couldn’t hide in your closet.”  Since the cat was over all the excitement, I put a trap in her closet, closed the door and she just sat in there. She grew impatient, put the trap up, found the cat and sure enough the cat earned his keep again with another mouse. I swear you would have thought a wrestling match was going on upstairs with all the cheering going on.

While we prefer not to have mice in our house, as I’m sure you likely feel the same way too, we’re not too fond of them outside either. I know we live in the country, they certainly come with the territory, but they really slowed things down this past weekend when they chewed the fuel line on the tractor. Maybe with the recent kill of the snake, they’ll leave the tractor alone. But I’m certainly not going to hold my breath.

Landen with “Zesty.”

While the snake and the mice aren’t our favorite critters out here in the middle, we did come across a very nice turtle early this month. We spotted it coming up the hill from our pond and we couldn’t help ourselves. We dropped what we were doing and had to run out and see it. It wasn’t scared of us which made it really fun for the kids because they were able to check out all the markings on its legs, head, and shell.

Landen is always the master mind behind building things and so he came up with a clever plan and built a rather roomy structure madefrom leftover carboard boxes, under the maple tree, gave it water as well as a few things to climb around on and after playing with it for a while, they spread out a big blanket and read alongside it. Don’t you love when joy can be found in such unexpected moments? That turtle will never know how much joy it brough to them that day.

There are a lot of unexpected things that happen out here in the middle. Sometimes they are pleasant while sometimes they present us with challenges. This month, however, we were given the gift of an unexpected surprise that left us celebrating our sweet Caroline. Back around the twins’ birthday, their Nana and Boo Boo, got them magazine subscriptions. Caroline got the Girl’s World Magazine and within the pages is a section where young girls have submitted their artwork and a collection is shared in each issue. In May, Caroline had asked for me to submit her artwork. I sent in everything they requested through email, and wouldn’t you know this past week when the new issued arrived, she flipped through the magazine quickly and found her art and name published! Needless to say, this was a highlight of her month!

The day before Aaron’s birthday, I had decided Parker and I needed to get out of the house. The twins had been at camp, and I had been spending a lot of time working because it was so hot outside. But I could tell he and I needed to get out and do something.

When telling parker to get dressed for the day and grab a water and snack for the road he asked where we were going. I told him I didn’t know but that we’d figure it out on the way to dropping off Landen and Caroline. As soon as I took a pause, Parker said, “We could go to the antique store.”  This was not an idea I would ever reject. The drive to where I love to go is all back roads lined with fields and dotted with treasured small towns with gorgeous old homes. So, his suggestion was accepted in less than a second’s time.

I didn’t have anything I was looking for in particular so I took a couple pictures of things I liked so I could remember where to go back and look if I wanted to snag them and Parker loved the idea of taking photographs of things and asked for my camera. He was sure to take pictures of a stuffed wild turkey, some tools, a telephone, little animal decorations, along with some silly faces from us taken standing in front of a mirror. Towards the end of our trip, he had spotted some tractors. He picked up the box and asked how much it was and every time they were anywhere from 55-100 bucks. I told him to start looking for some tractors that weren’t in their box and so he went into mission mode and sure enough found himself a metal tractor. He walked out of the store proud as punch as did I because I have hooked at least one of my kiddos with treasuring pieces from the past.

While there were many moments to account for this month, I have to say celebrating Father’s Day with family over lunch and at the National Air and Space Museum and visiting La Grange, Kentucky was two of my favorites. I’m not sure about you but being with family certainly feels different now. Being able to be with one another feels a bit more special and I know I value the time even more than before.

Have you ever been to La Grange, Kentucky? I had never been before but saw it on Ben and Erin Napier’s show on HGTV, Home Town Kickstart. I was drawn to this small town that was beautiful but has the unique feature of having train tracks down their Main Street. While it can run nearly two dozen times a day, we did not get to see a train cut through town while we were there. We couldn’t have had more fun with my parent’s and our kiddos strolling the streets of a historic town, popping in and out of all the shops and having conversations with locals. They truly are the kindness capital of Kentucky and I look forward to returning again, next time maybe during the week so I can see those big trains up close like they have been running since long ago.

I hope you will all enjoy these last few days of June and have a wonderful 4th of July!

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