Summer on the Homestead

Freshly harvested cabbage, cauliflower, onions, and summer squash.

“And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil. And he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full."

Duet. 11:13-15 

"For you have forgotten the God of your salvation and have not remembered the Rock of your refuge; therefore, though you plant pleasant plants and sow the vine-branch of a stranger, though you make them grow on the day that you plant them, and make them blossom in the morning that you sow, yet the harvest will flee away in a day of grief and incurable pain."

Isaiah 17:10-11


This summer, homesteading has been a bit of a challenge. While some of you are experiencing oppressive heat, we're among those who are having an oddly cool summer. That might sound refreshing to some of you, but it means the garden is not growing as well as I'd like.

You may recall that I have a big new garden, and overall, I'm really pleased with it. But the summer vegetables are struggling. While my tomato plants have grown big and healthy-looking, temperatures just haven't been right for blossoms, let alone ripe red 'maters. Only just the other day did I finally get some red cherry tomatoes from the greenhouse. The cucumbers are vining at last, and I finally have lots of blooms...but only one tiny cucumber is growing, even though it's nearly mid-August.Summer squash? Barely producing. Yard long beans? Still short, spindly, and producing nothing. You get the idea. I'd been hoping we'd have a hot fall to make up for this cool summer, but the wild animals say autumn is on it's way - and indeed, there's a bite in the air.

Now that's a cauliflower!

Cabbages and Brussels sprouts, early this summer.

Thinned carrots. If you wait until they begin showing some shoulders, your thinnings will actually be bigger and more useful.

And the orchard? It's at least a month behind. The plum trees are at last, producing and I'm currently very busy preserving as many plums as possible, while also sharing the bounty with others. But it will be a very bad year for apples, which are normally our main orchard harvest. This spring, right as the apple trees were blooming, we had a lot of rain followed by prolonged freezing temps. Now there are just a handful of apples ripening on our trees.

Our livestock have been struggling, too. For example, with quail, I normally replace our breeding/egg laying birds on butcher day, but the last time I butchered, I kept the same breeder birds instead of replacing them with younger ones. That was a big mistake. I ended up with one rooster who died and another who isn't properly fertilizing eggs. Thankfully, a neighbor for whom we hatched some quail eggs gave me one of his roosters. We're hoping he's properly fertilizing eggs. But this year has been plagued with terrible hatches, including one where all the chicks died of cold when their waterer inexplicably dumped all its contents into the brooder in the middle of the night.

In the rabbitry, most of Fiona's last litter was stillborn, then she suddenly dropped a lot of weight. I'm nursing her back into condition, but she'll be out of commission for a while. Bluebelle has suddenly decided she doesn't want anything to do with the bucks, too. So strange!

The bird flu has officially reached backyard homesteads in my county, and rabbit Ebola (RHD2) is confirmed in nearby counties. When we went to the county fair this year, we took precautions: We wore shoes we never wear around our animals, then came home and changed clothes and washed our hands. I'm trying to find a local vet who will vaccinate our breeding rabbits for RHD2, but hardly anyone in my area has heard of it, even though it is a well-documented and devastating disease.

Dehydrating a few zoodles. 

My lone cucumber.

All this is particularly frustrating because food prices keep skyrocketing and I have concerns about food scarcity. My last grocery shopping trip revealed a store with almost no non-processed meat and nearly zero wheat products; the only bread I found was almost $14! I never eat wheat and my husband rarely does, but our kids do. So they will do without or I will have to find time to make some bread from scratch. (Hard to do when I'm spending most of my day tending the garden and preserving the harvest.) Thankfully, there is still flour available in stores, but I wonder how long that will last.

And did I mention that my husband is currently out of work? (Please, if you feel inclined, pray that he will find a new job where he is well treated. And, if you can, please help support this blog by purchasing my books or supporting my advertisers.)

But - and this is a big but - here's the deal: God is in control...and I can trust in him. It's not really up to me to provide everything my family needs. He's the farmer; I'm just the farmer's helper. It's His job to take care of us; he promises He will, and He never lies. There's Nobody I trust why fret?

So I keep homesteading, caring for my family, and trying to help people through my writing, knowing it will all work out for the good of those who love Him.

And it's certainly not all bad news. I've been harvesting broccoli, turnips, radishes, kale, cabbages, green beans, cauliflower...and I've been preserving some of this harvest, including bits and pieces I used to compost (including broccoli stems and stalks, broccoli and cauliflower leaves, and the tough outer cabbage leaves). I'm thankful for every little bit.

Keep homesteading, friends!

A few turnips, green beans, and yellow plums.

Dehydrating yellow plums.
Yellow plum preserves.

Yellow plum jam and preserves.
The awesome washing station my husband built from scraps. Now I can wash the dirt off veggies right in the garden, which keeps soil out of my kitchen (and prevents it from going down the drain). 

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