Wheat Flour

Because I bake so much from scratch, I use quite a bit of flour.  One day I decided it was time to get a big ol’ bag of flour to reduce the number of times I was running out to buy more.  I ordered a 50 lb bag of organic wheat flour and when it arrived I picked it up and began wondering where I would store all the flour.  As I carried the bag into the kitchen, I suddenly realized it was making noise and that was when I looked more carefully at the bag.  I hadn’t ordered flour.  I had ordered a 50 lb bag of wheat.

Without a mill, what was I going to do with 50 lbs of wheat?

Santa had the answer!

For Christmas, he gave me a Wondermill!!!!!!

With my mill set up and my 50 lb bag of wheat, I was ready to grind some wheat into flour.

The Wondermill, is easy to operate and is very fast.  Within seconds, I had several cups of flour ready and waiting.  So I got out the bread machine, put all the ingredients in, set it up and hit start.

I know it seems strange that I’m breaking out my bread machine to make bread from my freshly ground wheat that I was able to grind using a machine that plugs into a wall.  I never claimed to be an old-fashioned homesteader in the making.  I’m more a 21st century homesteader in the making 🙂

2:20 later, I was ready to pull the dough out of the bread machine.

Now please let me clarify.  My bread machine can mix and bake, but I don’t like the shape of the bread that comes out of the machine.  So I pull out the dough, form it into a loaf and put it in my loaf pan to do the last rise before baking.

My excitement was building as I opened the lid and then the excitement can crashing down.  The dough was more the consistency of a thick batter, which easily poured into the loaf pan.  There was no shaping involved.  Just a thick glob of dough that filled the loaf pan.

Still, I was determined to see if it would rise again, so I covered it and let it sit on the stove.

Unfortunately, it didn’t rise like it should, but I still put it in the oven to bake.

Even in the oven, it didn’t rise.

I took it out of the loaf pan, put it on a rack to cool, covered it with a towel and went to bed.

This morning I sliced off a piece and put it in the toaster.  A little butter and it was quite tasty.

My research tells me that freshly ground wheat absorbs liquids differently from wheat that was ground and allowed to sit on a shelf for a couple of months.  But I’m not going to allow that little detail from attempting to make a loaf of bread, from freshly ground wheat.  More research and more attempts will eventually provide my family a properly risen loaf of tasty bread.

 

Our Christmas Gifts to Us

Recently, hubby came home from work and wanted to talk to me about our homesteading dream.  As he began spilling out all of his thoughts I sat there thinking, “He’s right.”  Yes hubby, I said it publicly – You are right!  🙂

We’ve been waiting for the perfect moment.

We’ve been waiting for that perfect location.

We’ve been waiting for the perfect property.

We’ve been telling ourselves that until all the pieces fall into place, we can’t make our homesteading dream a reality.  The problem with that philosophy is that we put our lives on continuous hold.  There is no perfect moment.  There is no perfect location.  There is no perfect property.

All the obstacles that seem to stand in our way are only there because we’ve put them there.  For 2+ years, we’ve stood in the way of making real progress toward our dreams, our goals and our desires.

Our Christmas gift to us was letting go of all those things holding us back.  It was realizing that the most important thing we could do was to make our dream reality.  Not next year or the year after, but now.

We aren’t in a perfect moment or a perfect location,  but we need to take advantage of the moment and we’re in a location we know.  Hubby and I have lived in this area for the last 19 years.  I was born and raised here.  Hubby spent the majority of his growing up years here.  Other than the 10 years we lived on the West Coast, we’ve lived most of our married life here.

We live in prime farm country.   No, we aren’t necessarily fond of the landscape, but we know the land and this land is made for raising food.  Better than some of the areas we’ve considered.

No, we don’t necessarily like the weather, but we are fully aware of what each season brings.

We have friends here.  We have family here.

Our girls like it here.  They love that it snows in the winter and that the snow sticks around to enjoy for days or even weeks at a time.  Then they have plenty of hot summer days for water fun.  They have activities they love and lots of friends.

We are well established in our homeschool group and I have trouble imagining a better group for us.

For these reasons and others, we realized that we don’t have to pack all our possession and move to another state to homestead.  We can homestead here as well or maybe even better than anywhere else.

Our other Christmas gift to us is to begin shopping for property that will allow us to fulfill our dream of  homesteading right here in Central Illinois.

It’s not our dream location, but we don’t always have to live out every detail of the dream for life to be truly wonderful.

The best Christmas gift we can give to us is being good to ourselves and for us that means finding our homestead.  That place in the country where we can garden, raise animals and begin living the life that we long to live.  A life in the country!

 

Should Have Known

When I was a little girl, the church we attended had a toy farm set.  I loved playing with those toys.  I would set up the fences, carefully place all the farm animals where they belonged and pretended to be the farmer.

Guess I should have known that one day I would want my own farm with real live farm animals-)

Today the girls and I purged toys and got everything organized.  Lili really likes having things in her life somewhat organized as do I.  As I was putting all the toy animals into a canvass box and into the cubby, I shared the story of how much I loved playing with the toy farm animals as a little girl.

My little farmer in the making said, “I want my own toy farm to play with.”  I told her to put it on her Christmas list.  Although if  truth be told, I’m kind of excited about the possibility of playing farm with the girls as I continue to dream about one day having my own farm.

 

 

Yes, We Still Long for It

A homestead that is.

Land in the country.

 

A house, smaller than the house we currently inhabit.

Animals.  Farm animals that serve many purposes for our family.

A view.  I want land with a view.  Not a view of flat lands and prairies where I can see for miles and miles, but hills.  Mountains.  Obstructed views that allow me to imagine what’s on the other side.

 

The dream hasn’t changed.  The dream continues.  The longing remains.

What hasn’t changed are circumstances.  Circumstances that keep us rooted where we are.

I have accepted that we have a purpose where we are now.  We have two little boys who are relying on us.  Two little boys who want to feel safe, secure and loved in their new environment.  And I see new signs everyday that they do feel safe, secure and loved.

But while we were here, I still long to be there.  To be on that homestead that for the time being, only exists in my dreams.

Absence

They say it makes the heart grow fonder.

My absence has been for good reason though, so let me try to quickly share.

As some of you know, about 2 1/2 years ago, we became foster parents.  We had two sisters, ages 4 & 6 for about a month before they went on to live with another family.  There were many emotions wrapped up in a small package and after the experience we put foster parenting on hold and eventually turned in our license.  We had set a goal to move to our own little homestead for a life of more self-sufficiency and discussed the possibility of getting back into foster care once we were on the farm.

Fast forward 2 years and we aren’t on that farm nor do we know when that might happen.  We’ve put many things on hold while we have been waiting to make that dream our reality, including foster care so for many personal reasons, we decided to reinstate our foster care license.   Our reinstatement was quick and we got our license in the mail about 1 1/2 weeks ago with the expectation that we wouldn’t get a call until after our late summer/early fall trip.  Imagine my surprise when our licensing worker called late Thursday afternoon about two brothers, ages 7 months and 3 years, who were sitting in the Department of Children and Family Services office and in need of a home.  So many things went thru my mind in a matter of seconds, including the fact that hubby was out-of-town on business and wouldn’t return until Saturday night.  Then I said, “We’ll take them” and our life has been full of craziness ever since.  Not that our life wasn’t crazy before, but taking in two little guys who have been thru so much in such a short period of time adds an element of craziness that is difficult to explain.

As expected, we have had some challenging moments – A 3-yr-old with big feelings that have come out in some tough behaviors and a baby, who I now know is almost 9 months old, and who doesn’t feel comfortable enough to fall asleep (he only slept about 6 hours during the first 24 hours here and hasn’t improved a lot since then).  But we’ve also had some very enjoyable moments like watching Naomi and the 3-yr-old (who I’ll call TT) laugh and play together.  Or seeing the baby (who I’ll call TK) finally smile and belly laugh.  Although some of the most enjoyable moments have been watching Lili care for TK.  It’s the first time she’s spent this much time with a baby and she has been so gentle and nurturing.  She got the first smile from TK and he lights up when she walks in the room.

I know we have many more tough moments ahead of us, but I also know that we’ll have many more enjoyable moments ahead as well.  We just have to ride the waves and do the best we can.

Longer periods of absence here seem inevitable right now.  Please know it’s not that I have forgotten about my little blog and it’s not that we’re put our homesteading dreams aside.  While we’re waiting and hoping for our homestead goal to fall in place, we’ve accepted a very important role as caregiver for two cute little boys who need our love, nurturing and family right now.

I hope you’ll check in from time-to-time and I’ll do my best to update any chance I get.

Landscape

My lack of posting hasn’t been from a lack of things to write about.  It’s been more a matter of not having the words to write all my thoughts, feelings and information about life right now.  There is nothing bad happening, just a lot of thinking and discussion taking place these days and that’s a good thing.

One thing hubby and I have been discussing is what things are important to us as we search for our ‘perfect’ piece of homestead paradise.  We all have certain hopes and dreams about where we’ll live and what the landscape will look like.  Since our goal is to move to that perfect place, why not figure it all out and then figure out exactly where we need to land to find it.

Here are the choices.

1.  Mountain

2.  Ocean

3.  Lake

4.  Flatlands

5.  Hills

6.  Dessert

7.  Wooded

8.  River

9.  Any landscape I’ve forgotten to mention

My choice would be living on a piece of property that has some hills,

with a view of the mountains,

near a lake.

 

Of course these things aren’t all that’s important to me, but having some scenery like this every day would certainly be a wonderful way to live 🙂

What about you?  What’s your favorite landscape or combination of landscapes?

 

How Have Things Really Changed?

I was asked a question by a WOW reader. What is interesting about her question is that I had been pondering the same question myself.

“having been to the Farmy have any of your ideas changed?”

The short answer to this question is, yes.

First, let me go back a few blog posts when I mentioned that our homestead isn’t happening in the foreseeable future.   In that post I said I would discuss this later and I think now is an appropriate time.

While our plan has not changed, the timing of our plan has now changed.  Hubby and I would very much like our own little farmy to happen sooner rather than later, but sometimes life and the responsibilities of life have to take the lead.  Our hope had been to find property by this fall, but upon further inspection and introspection, we decided that it would make more sense for us to wait several months before we begin our property search again.  Not that I haven’t perused the real estate sites from time-to-time, but we won’t be making any property shopping trips in the near future.

Our last property search made us much more aware of some things that we needed to take care of at home before we could move forward.  Much like our visit to the “farmy” has made me much more aware of things to look for and think about as we move forward in finding property.

For example, we have struggled with the amount of land we should purchase.  Our visit to the “farmy” gave me a much better picture of how we could set things up on less land.  Maybe I don’t need to look at the 30 acre pieces of property, even though most of those 30 acres are in trees.  What if we find 5 acres of land, is that sufficient?  10 acres?  How many acres of land do we need in trees if we want to use wood as our heat source?  How many acres of pasture?  My visit and conversations with Cecilia has caused me to seriously reconsider some of our land requirements.

I had also envisioned spreading things out more on our little farm, but now see how having things closer to the house makes much more sense.  A more compact farm makes complete sense to me.  Less steps to the barn.  Less steps to the garden.  Less steps to the orchard.

We had also been concerned about having too much open land.  In our minds open land means more work for us.  That thought process had changed for me now.  More open land means more pasture for grazing.   If we want to raise pasture fed meat, then having more open land is a good thing.

So how have things really changed since our visit to the “farmy?”

I feel like I have a much better vision of what it will take for us to create a successful farm for our family.  I better understand the importance of keeping things compact.  I see the amount of work it takes to run a farm and having everything close will help us run our farm efficiently.  Finding ways to make work easier is key.

This was also the first time I was able to see guinea fowl at work.  They are indeed noisy birds, but I love the noise they make.  I love the fact that they move all around the farm, hard at work taking care of bugs.

 

As I stated in my last blog post, I now want a cow.  I didn’t want a cow before.  They are big animals and the bigger the animal, the more the feed.  However, I hadn’t considered how milk from cows can be fed to other animals such as chickens and pigs.  I hadn’t considered how much good compost a cow can produce.  I didn’t realize how easy it is to make wonderful, creamy butter.  Because I hadn’t considered a cow on our farm, I didn’t think about the fact that a calf could potentially be raised for meat.  Cows have great purpose on a farm.

The thing that probably changed the most for me is how my desire to live the homesteading lifestyle grew.  Being there and participating in a small way made that fire burn hotter and I am armed with more knowledge that will only help in our little farm’s success.

Now, as I peruse the real estate sites, I’m armed with more information, a better vision and knowledge that will help us find the right property for our homestead.  A slower pace to our future than we had first hoped, but we’ll get there one day.