We live our own way here in Eastern North Carolina. Join us in our discussions of frugality, self sufficiency, gardening, and homeschooling.





Sunday, April 21, 2013

Plowing is Done!

MrLivingOurWay was very proud that he has finally finished plowing our field and is ready to move on to the next step of discing with in the week.  We are confident that things will get planted this year and have an application in to participate in our first farmers market even if we only sell eggs.  This one seems fairly laid back and okay if we add products later in the season.

MrLivingOurWay admiring his work with BerryPie on his shoulders

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Birth Story #4: A Quick Homebirth

I'm sure most of you feel like I've abandoned my blog yet again but the third trimester suddenly hit me and I was exhausted.  However, MrLivingOurWay has been plugging away on our little farm of the future and exciting things are happening.  Here is our final birth story as I remember it.

On March 30, 2014, I had an appointment with my midwife at about 39 weeks 1 day in the morning. Baby was head down and low but I didn’t really have any other signs of impending labor. After she left, we ate lunch and we put BerryPie down for a nap. We had plans following the nap to head out and do some last minute birth/baby shopping. I left CupCake  and ShortCake in front of the TV and told them I was going to take a nap too. Two and half hours later, I woke up with a contraction. It was strong but I’d been having strong Braxton Hix contractions for the last several weeks as well so I wasn’t alarmed until I had a couple of more. I timed a couple on my phone to be 5 minutes apart. 

I called CupCake to go get MrLivingOurWay who was getting the last of the stumps out of the field he is working on. I went to the bathroom thinking the contractions would probably fizzle out as they had done previously. No such luck. I moved to the computer and timed several more. They were now 2-3 minutes apart and ranging in length from 30 seconds to a minute. I texted my mom to let her know she might want to get her things together and I’d let her know when I knew for sure. They were really, really hurting at this point. MrLivingOurWay came in and shoved a cup of water at me saying “Your only 39 weeks, maybe you are just dehydrated.” I took the water but I knew better and ordered him to call our midwife back to our house. For some reason, our cell phones picked that day not to pick up a signal inside the house. The midwife said she was on the way and my husband went to work setting up the pool. I was panicking and in pain. Our house was still not as clean as I wanted it. The car seat wasn’t installed. I needed to find someone to watch our kids. I texted a friend and asked them if she could pick them up but after several minutes I sent CupCake to call both her and my mom. Apparently the CupCake sounded so panicked that that our friend rushed right over to pick them up thinking that it was an emergency and I was grateful. She found me leaning on a table and screaming through contractions. She said “Be calm. You can do this.” And somehow hearing a calm reassuring voice of a woman really helped. I told her I could feel the baby moving down and she asked if I wanted her to stay until the midwife arrived. I said “Yes!”. She helped the kids get their stuff together which also wasn’t packed and asked about their Easter goodies.  MrLivingOurWay got them for her and installed a missing car seat into one of our cars for her to take so she could fit her son in the car with the FindingOurWays. Just as the midwife walked in the door, the pool was filled. She listened to the baby‘s heart rate and then suggested I might want to get in the pool. I did. I remember shouting at MrLivingOurWay that I hated him. I’d never done that in labor before. I asked him to leave. The midwife misunderstood and asked if I wanted her to leave and I said “No! I want him to leave.” He didn’t leave except when I asked for a drink from the kitchen. The drink calmed me down but I was still in pain and still loud. I didn’t really understand that my body was pushing the baby out on its own at the point. My water broke and there seemed to be a ton of meconium. It looked yellow and I verified that was most likely old which I knew meant the baby would most likely be ok but I was still really nervous about it. It wasn’t long before the head was out and then her whole body. The midwife caught her and helped me lift her up untwisting her from the cord. I was helped out of the tub as baby had her first real meconium. Everything went just perfectly. Baby was healthy and I made it through with just needing one stitch. It was the least damage I’ve had out of four births. Labor was 2 ½ hours from first contraction though I have to say my longer labors were MUCH easier on me.  Princess was 7 pounds 11 oz and 20 1/2 inches long with a 13.5 inche head at birth. She's really, really skinny all over.

 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Strasberries

 I'm not sure how these will turn out but there was so little on the Internet when I researched them, that I figured we'd share our experiencee right from the beginning.  We planted them in our raised beds one plant per square foot.  We ordered these from our local online Farmers Fresh Market and we are excited to see what they will do.

 
The strasberry has an interesting history.  Much of the information available does seem to contradict itself. The plant originated in South America. It is clear that the fruit was close to extinction when some dutch farmers developed it commercially and it's been making a come back. 
 
Personal accounts have the strasberry plants multiplying quickly like strawberry plants so we have high hopes that we will eventually have more plants than we know what to do with.
 
If you'd like more information the strasberry,  see the following article:
 
What are you trying that's new this year?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Field Is Making Progress


Here is a new picture of our field. Last spring, MrLivingOurWay was sure we could just disc and plant.  He soon found that there were many small stumps that didn't burn and there were some tractor set backs.  He is now 3/4 of the way through the field pulling up small stumps and estimates that two more hours of work (which equals two days at our pace) will have the field ready to once again disc.  Once the discing is done, we will add nutrients to the soil based on our soil tests, plow, and then be ready to plant.

My first observation was that the dirt really looks good.  A lot better than I expected.  We have high hopes but understand that farming is full of disappointments and are looking to plant a variety to curb too much disappointment.

I am cautiously excited for him.  We've had our share of tractor set backs already this year. We've had teeth welded back onto the backhoe and we've had to get hoses on the tractor fixed.  We also still have to fix part of the disc from last year.  I'm affectionately nicknaming our tractor Money Pit. 

This has been a dream for MrLivingOurWay for a long time and it really seems it's going to come together this year whether it becomes a huge financial loss or some how breaks even. 

Do many of you feel the same way? Is there a dream that you put a lot of work into and it seems it will never happen?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Bee Confused!



There has been a lot of confusion concerning our bees.  One day a couple of weeks ago, MrLivingOurWay had taken Cupcake out to check on the bees and feed them the sugar mixture he'd made for them.  They were very excited when they came back saying the hives had grown and we should have tons of honey in the spring.

Fast forward a week and MrLivingOurWay comes in and is sure that we've completey lost our hive of Italian bees and that the Russian hive will only be okay if he feeds them more.  This surprised me because my research said that Italians would make a good beginner hive. It turns out that they are gentle which makes them good for beginners.  It also turns out that they like to multiply a lot which works well for cooler climates.  Unfortunately for us, we could be wearing shorts in December and it would not be all that out of the ordinary. This fools the bees into thinking there is nectar for them to get and then they start laying eggs.  The hive grows and there isn't enough food for them.   As you'll notice in the pictures below, there are a lot more bees lying outside of the Italian hive than outside of the Russian hive.  He was able to find the queen in the Russian hive but he was  not able to find the queen from the Italian hive.

Dead bees from our Italian hive.

 
Dead bees from our Russian hive
He's been checking on them more often over the last week and it does seem that the Italian hive is still alive. He is still unable to find the queen but he's hopeful that the hive may be raising a new queen. He will check later and will order a new queen for the hive if necessary. This is call requeening the hive.

Upon looking into beekeeping further, we realized that it is recommended that we start out with three hives so we hope to order another hive of Russians soon.  We feel like the Russian bees are more suitable to the climate in Eastern NC.

What have your experiences been with bees? Have you been surprised when one hive survived the winter better than another?  Have other things in nature or on the farm been surprising to you?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

What is an Heirloom Seed?

Image Soure: http://openclipart.org/image/800px/svg_to_png/61957/1274477301.png
One very small part of the class I attended yesterday on sustainable agriculture talked about the differences in seeds.  I have always been a fan of heirlooms because the idea of saving seeds appealed to me.  MrLivingOurWay was always a fan of hyrid seeds because he liked for this seeds to be disease resistant.  After the discussion in class yesterday, I decided to look more into this topic.

According our instructor, an heirloom seed is a variety of seed identified as a named variety in a catalog before 1947.  These have been considered by many to produce a better quality "fruit"  when considering taste, color, etc.

An open pollinated seed is a "regular seed."

Hybrid seeds are seeds that have been improved upon. It is important to note that hybrid seeds are cross pollinated between two different plants of the same species.  This might be a hybrid between two varieties of heirloom tomatoes.  The plants would probably be more disease resistant.

GMO seeds are seeds which have been genetically modified.  I never really understood what could be so wrong with this until I read a little more.  According to Underwood Gardens , not only can a plant be genetically modified to develope it's own herbicide in it's roots but the DNA for the modification is taken from animals and bacteria.  There's just something about eating a hybrid between a fish and a vegetable that doesn't seem quite right to me.

In the end, our instructor suggested that it was best to only plant half a crop with saved seeds and half with new seeds because the saved seeds after years go down in quality.  I'm not sure how I feel about that. How could we still have heirloom varieties if their quality is always going down?  What do you think?