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Thursday, March 28, 2019

2019 Homestead Goals!

Silly duck! I just gave them water in this
bowl and he decided it is time to bathe!
Finally! Spring is here! The Pussywillow tree has started to bloom, the trees are budding, and I've caught a few peeks of green coming from the ground as my perennials have decided to make an appearance! 
This time of the year has it dreaming of what we would like to get done around here. 

5 goals at this time in no particular order are:

1) More raised beds- These turned out to be invaluable for me last year. Both for ease of weeding, gathering, and so I didn't have to kneel too much.

2) Moving Lt. Dan the Wonder Goat out of the garden after we burn the prairie. Also, making his door opening a wee bit bigger. He has grown quite a bit since we got him.

3) Make a new portable coop/revamp the old one? This is still up on the air. In the meantime, Mr. Awesome make a poop board, move the roosts for more room for the girls, and we will have two separate entrances for the seasons(Alternating to give the grass time to come back).

4) Fix siding on house/scrape/paint house/put windows in back rooms.

5) Make temporary porch on the back of the house until we are ready to take back steps out.

I have been gathering my seeds and am anxious to start planting. Every year I end up planting too early. This year I didn't start crazy early. I have a handful started. I am planning on embracing Winter Sowing next season. 

I spurlged and bought a few bulbs of Dishplate Dahlia's and another type. These I will keep in the fenced in garden. It makes no sense to plant too many things around the house as I originally wanted to. Chickens don't care how carefully you organized and planted seeds and bulbs. For them they see you digging in the dirt and they are thinking, "Crazy Human is finding food for me!" or "Crazy Human is making a nice spot for me to dust bathe in!" I've thrown in the white flag and decided to keep the garden for pretty stuff. 

We (Do you like that "We"? What I mean is Mr. Awesome will...) work on the roof issues too. Terry was able to borrow a lift to fix the loss of the slate tiles on the roof. He patched on a side and will begin working his way around. There is hope we can borrow this for another week. It has been super windy or rainy. 

Rainy reminds me of getting stuck in the driveway. Yes, I got stuck! Not just a little stuck but "Holy moon pies! What did you do!".  It was a mess but thankfully Mr. Awesome was able to use the winch to get me out. Check my Instagram feed on the left side bar for a picture of the pit I made. Did I mention we need to have a load of rock delivered to help? 

When Terry came home his face was priceless. I was a bundle of nerves but that melted away when he saw how badly Randy was stuck (Yes, we name a lot of things around the house. Jess named Randy- it's her car. Honestly, we can't be the only people that name, "Stuff"!) 


Find me here-
amazon.com/author/melindakunst
I have been writing again and hope to have my fourth book ready for print before the end of the year. I'm really excited about this one. To be honest, this is going to be my favorite so far. If you haven't heard how we had gotten started our homesteading journey you will like this! The story is a mix of our homesteading adventures as city folks and a sprinkling of how doing this saved my sanity during hard times. Check out my Author page for updates and appearances- Melinda Kunst Author


There are more goals but these are the few we are talking are starting on now. What are you working on? 

Care to connect? Find us on FB God's Breath Farm

And don't forget to check out our YouTube channel Blessmeplease09 on YouTube! I've found several videos I had forgotten to upload and now we have 100+ multi-niche videos available! I believe I have another handful that needs to go up soon too. Betcha didn't know I'm a procrastinator. 


 


Perhaps you know a woman that is in emotional pain from loss, abuse, suicide, or depression please view my blog at www.hopewhentherewasnone.blogspot.com and I have a support group for women that you can connect with, find it on my FB page Hope when there was none


Rhett & Miz. Scarlett- Cayuga Ducks


Have a great day!
BIG HUGS!
Mel



Sunday, March 3, 2019

Polar Vortex, damaging winds, and frozen combs

We are all so done with winter here! We survived the Polar Vortex! Temps fell to 46- here! I threw extra straw in the coops and Lt. Dan's house. I wrapped the Abbey (duck truck) with a bit of plastic and blue insulation sheet on the outside to help with the drafts. Believe it or not those chickens and ducks stayed out during that weather in the run! 

In the coop, I took more blue insulation sheets and positioned them along the windy side to help cut the wind. These birds stayed in! We didn't let them out at all. 

Dan happily shared his house with about 6 other chickens that made a break for his casa before the weather was too frigid the day before and so they were locked in with him, which worked out so well for us because we worried that he would be alone and cold. Those wee feathered friends kept him company and warmth! The only thing that I noticed two roosters have frostbite on their combs. I am so grateful that we didn't lose anyone!

Inside we were keeping warm the best we could. I hung up heavier curtains on the windows, blankets on our front door and everyone bundled up. Our furnace had a hard time keeping up and few weeks (thankfully) after that deadly weather snap it expired! 


We had a repairman come out to look at it and he didn't feel right to put it back together and to somehow rig it to work for legality reasons and of course, we didn't have the funds for a new one. Mr. Awessome dug out the kerosene heaters and we once again bundled up. It was a long nerve-racking week! We scrambled to find what funds we could and luckily an angel came through and lent us with what we were short. There's more to that story but that is it in a nutshell!

Next came warm weather then cold then warm and then windy! We had 40 - 50+ mph winds that knocked off siding, slate tiles from the roof, and blew outdoor stuff away. There was a plan to take the siding off anyway so we could scrape and paint the house so we kinda felt lucky to have the help with that! The roof is another sore spot that will need to be addressed soon. We do have our pans strategically placed in the attic to catch the drips but need a new roof. Sadly, most folks don't do payment plans unless it is through a finance company. With our credit, not the best, we are thinking of getting the Farmstay/Airbnb up sooner to help save up for the repairs. 

There is a possibility we may get that up and running this Summer instead of next. There is still a lot to do before we give the thumbs up for this plan. But it has been fun to find items for the bus and planning of some other sort of building. We have an idea of where the primitive spots are going. Those will be for campers that bring a tent and camp out in a designated spot.  I am gathering local spots for entertainment and sightseeing as well as local delicacies to share with guests. This part is exciting!

Soon more garden planning, seed starting, and writing book 4! This one will be about our homestead experience! I hope to have it ready to publish by the end of the year. I still have two other book ideas percolating in my mind but need to finish my other first.  I'm pretty excited to have a writing workshop next month, blessed to have several interviews sharing my story of my past, and working on more interviews and speaking events. Find out details on what is upcoming here- My Author page .

How has your winter be going? 

BIG HUGS!





Thursday, January 10, 2019

Happy New Year... Come on Spring!

It was my idea to wear our stylish tree hats. If you know me well enough this is no big deal. You're used to me. Mr. Awesome has grown used to the antics and crazy ideas. God love him!

I shouldn't be complaining about the winter. We have been pretty blessed so far. I do need to say that I am not sure how to dress. Two days ago I found myself outside picking up things in the yard wearing a hoodie. 

The holidays were good to us. It's nice and quiet with the kids coming by with the baby. I call them kids, but they are adults. Seems weird to call them anything but kids. 

Mr. Awesome and I have been dreaming about Spring and changing up garden planning. Seed catalogs are already sprinkled on my kitchen table. My seed container has been filled. And we have been brainstorming ideas for combating the wild range of insects and pests that have come through the garden. When we are done with one infestation another comes and takes its place. 

Lt. Dan the Wonder Goat has finally warmed up to us. I think he was mad at his other goat mommy for giving him away. He was pretty stubborn about ignoring us for about a month. Now, he is quite a character. He comes to beg for food and pets, mainly food! 
In my infinite wisdom, I didn't think about the damage he would do in the garden. Now, I did have an idea but the assault on my unsuspecting Elderberry was horrific. We really need to hustle him out of the garden soon. The area we thought of has our grape vines and he has already made a nice dent in those! Farm fail?! 


Fencing is HIGH on the list of things to do with him. Finishing buttoning up the house as well. We have a pretty drafty place. If the winds come out of the north the curtains move and you can feel the breeze. Mr. Awesome had the idea of using plexiglass as temporary window coverings and where he has done this the result is wonderful! We have 15 more windows to do! And before you ask, these are new windows. They are not original. They are poorly installed and caulked. 

The hens have started laying. Now, by hens, I mean 3 hens and a random duck have been laying. Which is a bit frustrating for us. We considered throwing some in the pot but don't wish to do so to the ones laying. I think they are doing it on purpose. 


They are smarter than you think. Which brings me to the other issues at hand... They are eating their eggs! I have tried putting golf balls in the nesting box and so far some wise hen decided she would rather play with it out of the nesting box and I found it in the chicken run. There are a few more tricks we can try. One is to fill an egg with mustard. I'll let you know how that goes.
I decided to try the "Deep litter" method over the winter and I tell
you, I am not a fan. I like the premise but I am a bit OCD when it comes to the coop. Now, I'm not talking the white glove test, just stinky and look wise. I've read there is no smell. I haven't experienced that yet and it could be due to the fact that ducks are really messy. We also do not have a poop board under our birds. I have cleaned a bit of it a few days back. I couldn't help myself! I moved about half of the litter out and placed it in a pile about 5 feet away from the coop. My hope is the pile will heat up, the chickens will dig and find bugs that were drawn to the pile for warmth and a yummy win for them!  

I bought 2 bags of pine chips and tossed a nice layer on top of everyone's areas. I'll do that again tomorrow as the weather may turn into a bit of snow. Time for flock blocks too! Flock blocks are these wonderful HUGE seed and mineral blocks for birds and this helps out during poor winter weather where we may not get outside to let everyone out right away. 


Did I mention I can't wait for Spring?! Do you have plans for your garden?

Friday, November 23, 2018

A surprise Thanksgiving and fun stuff!

First off... Do you remember at the end of my previous post when I asked for thoughts if I should cut my hair? Well, I did it I cut my hair! Now, I'm letting it grow in for the winter and plan to do this cut again. I loved the playfulness of it! 

I hope you had an amazing Thanksgiving! We had an impromptu holiday! Jess, Don and Short Stack came over to visit and I went into overdrive trying to make the "perfect meal". 


UGH! Let's just say that sometimes I don't do well under pressure... I forgot about the ham and it was very well done. I planned on making green bean casserole and realized I didn't have green beans to make it. I made vegetarian stuffing and added WAY TOO MUCH Rosemary. It was good once you mixed it with the cranberries, mashed potatoes, and sweet potatoes. 


Everyone was pretty kind about it but I felt pretty crummy. Especially since Jess is vegan and eats no gluten, sugar, dairy, or eggs. I made the veggie stuffing just for her but it was hardly palatable without mixing it in the other stuff which contained things she could not eat.  Did I say UGH?!


Did I mention we now have a GOAT?! SQUEAL! Lt. Dan (Mr. Dan or Dan the Wonder Goat) is a Boer Goat and is a sweet pie! He has back leg issues but that doesn't stop him from getting around. He is still rather shy with us but yells for us when he needs food and water. (Typical male!)


He gave me a scare a few days back when I heard this awful shrieking from outside. When I poked my head outside I saw that he was tangled up in our tomato cage that I had sitting alongside our fence! 

I hurried, threw shoes on, shouted for Alex to help me and flew out the door. (This picture and the next one are him checking out "The Abbey" the duck truck. He was not stuck just a place to scratch his neck and chin)

After closer examination, we figure he went inside the end of the cage but realized he was in too far when he tried to back out so instead,he stood up which knocked him off his feet trying to get out. This is just our theory.

Luckily I heard him hollering for me! Our tomato cages are made with pretty heavy metal and I couldn't find Mr. Awesome's heavy duty cutters with time and patience he was finally free. Once he was up and around he relieved himself and hustled back to eating some greens. That was WAY TOO much excitement for me! 


So, I mentioned my thoughts about opening an Airbnb/Farmstay to Mr. Awesome. After some careful thought and research, he said okay! YAY! We still have, "Godherd the bus" that is in process of being remodeled. Check out our page God's Breath Farm 

He hopes to build a few tiny houses, (This is great because I am still planning on the having a healing sanctuary here as well.) a possible Teepee, Gypsy Trailer (Shepherd's camper) and also offering primitive spots. 

We hope to open in the Spring of 2020. There is SO much to do! I am not as handy with tools or construction as I would wish to be. I hoped to be able to help more with these projects. I do need to focus on getting the garden up and running. Soil testing, mulch, researching plants, trimming trees, tagging edible/medicinal/herbal plants and trees on the property. 


Also to possibly add more goats for Mr. Dan to frolic with. We are still thinking about adding sheep as well. We were gifted 12 new ducks, hens and bought 2 other hens. This brings our flock to 27. Well, last night we lost one so we are at 26. There are about 4 Roosters that we will probably take to auction in a few weeks. 

Today all the fluffy animals are happy to have bellies full of pumpkins that were donated by Donna from a nearby town.

Last year I saw that she had put about a dozen or so curbside and we snagged them for the chickens. I stopped in October this year to ask if she could give me a call if she was putting them curbside this year and she gave us a call! Alex and Mini Man took turns showing off mad skills with the machete. I was a bit nervous with Mini Man and gave him orders to squish the mushy ones instead. We had a eager flock ready to nibble! 



I found a beekeeping group that meets about 40 minutes north of us and I am looking forward to having a mentor! We chatted with Jerry and his wife, Tara from Illiana Beekeepers Alliance




In scary news, Mr. Awesome went to the E.R. a few weeks back. He had been experiencing some discomfort in his belly and he called me after it grew too uncomfortable for him one day. I knew it was serious! He is one to never complain about being sick! 

They labeled him with a pulled muscle but after seeing his follow-up doctor it may be something to do with his colon. There is no way to say any of this nicely (COUGH! Colonoscopy!). She prescribed some antacids and will see if that helps his discomfort and if that doesn't help he may need to have the Colonoscopy. Let's just say he is not happy about that but we praying it resolves itself. 

He has since reduced his coffee intake to 2 cups a day, GASP! That is serious! There is concern over his heart issues as well. He had been dealing with stress from his side of the family some time ago. A few things are unresolved and still sting. These weigh heavily on his mind. He misses his daughter that he hasn't heard from in sometime. He always wanted her to feel independent and that she could talk to him anytime. He didn't wish to pressure her into calling him all the time or about coming over. This could have led to perhaps some feelings that we are his "new family" and that he doesn't wish to have anything to do with her. Which is FAR from the case. 

Terry  and I feel that we are missing out on seeing her and her child. We don't have funds to see her as much as we would like. Nor does he want to hound her to call him. 

I don't feel close enough to call her. In the past I was had been pretty vocal on how I feel about how she treats him. You see my father figures (except my step-dad, Chet) was not rosy. Not to toot Terry's horn but he never beat her nor was he abusive in any other fashion so this boggles my mind as why she doesn't contact him. 

There's more but that is part of the issues with some of his family members. He says that it doesn't bother him but I know these things do. I'll keep you posted on what happens next. If you could keep him wrapped in prayers I would appreciate it greatly!

In other news that I shared on my Hope when there was none page, I was honored to be asked to be part of Dimensions of Intersections

The mission of Dimensions of Intersections, Inc. is to "Plant SEEDS of Hope" with victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse; and any individual who is in any way effected by mental illness with the hope of providing adequate Support, Education, Empathy, Empowerment and Diversity ("SEEDS") to those seeking our love, care and respect. Please check the organization at the link above. There are many wonderful changes that have been going on for the upcoming months!

I have one more speaking engagement for this year that I am super excited about and have two appearances planned for 2019 but plan to add as many as possible next year. 

I put out a few messages on social media in hopes of having some help finding groups and organizations to speak with. So far I haven't gotten any nibbles. I won't give up hope to keep sharing my story of surviving abuse or the other topics I speak about. Check out my Hope when there was none blog for posts on this and also "Searching for the light" stories from victims and Survivors of abuse.  

If you haven't picked up a copy of my book at local libraries in my part of Indiana (Lowell, Brook, Lake Village, or Demotte) they can be purchased online at Amazon

I hope the rest of your week is wonderful!

BIG HUGS!
Mel

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Here comes Fall!

What an amazing Summer! I have to admit slacking in the garden. My helpers kind of shied away from the heat and the weeds grew tall! While the rabbits were actually taken out by the hawks and foxes, the garden was infested with various types of caterpillars! 

I only found a small handful of Hornworms. YAY! That was a WIN! But, the other ones had a feast! There were click bugs, stink bugs, and some bugs that I don't know what they are called but they bit like a beast for something so small. 


Our bounty was not so big. For some reason, though I planted early enough, the plantings didn't really pop until later in the season. 

In the meantime, the chickens and ducks are doing great in the run. We opened up the garden so they could range in there. There is hope we can let them free-range again once the corn privacy fence is down. The soybeans were recently harvested but since the fox used the corn as a shield we wish to wait a bit.


Did I tell you I lost my 2nd hive? I'm pretty heartbroken and haven't cleaned the box yet. I took the lid off and see there are some interesting bugs that have taken residence in it. I'm kinda dreading the clean up. But, I need to salvage the few bits of honey that is remaining. We made a bunch of Elderberry syrup, see video here

We took a trip to the Museum of Science and Industry. My Sister works there so we had the chance to visit and look around with her. 

The kids had a blast! We missed a few
of the exhibits but hope to go back sometime. I was proud of Peanut for volunteering for experiments. She has anxieties and crowds scare her but she was AMAZING! Mini Man did a few activities and can't wait to go back again.  

Speaking of missing things, we didn't do our "annual" Turkey Run trip. My knee is still healing and I worried that I could hurt it again. All my plans to ride a bike long range are put on hold. 

On the health front, my Dad had much needed knee surgery and he is recovering well. My own health has improved, though I do still have Lyme symptoms. Migraines are most bothersome. But, my thyroid is so much better. I check in the doctor next month for blood work. 

Mr. Awesome and I did manage to hit a few neat antique shops! Always fun! Mini Man and I met with my Sister, Mandy and my Nephew Dom (A.K.A.- Graham Cracker) for a trip to the pumpkin patch with his school. I was worried about the corn maze part. Last year, Mini Man had a meltdown in the maze. 

He was convinced we wouldn't be able to get out and started panicking. I dreaded this part of the trip but he did well.There was a bit of tension in his voice,this was
broken by seeing so many other people around. 

I was able to cross off a trip alone from my Bucket List! I took part in sharing "Vision Boards" with a wonderful group of women at the Gypsy Soul Retreats. It was so much fun! There is a date set for next year, so visit the site for more information. 


Aside from this, I was able to schedule several more book signings for my books- Call me Master and Rising from the Ashes and had more opportunities that you can catch here- Hope when there was none blog

We are planning on creating an Airbnb! I'm not sure if it will up and running next year but I'm crossing my fingers on this and my wee antique shop! 


I joined a writing group in my area- find them here- Prairie Writers Guild.They are a great bunch. If you are in NW IN area check them out!

The picture here is not the PWG group. This was taken last night as I shared my story and bits of information about Teen dating violence- signs parents should look for. It was a night of tears, sharing, and great support! I have met the most wonderful people on this journey of sharing. I am overwhelmed by the communities support. 

My worries right now, besides the usual bills and money is, "Do I grow my hair out because it's bugging me now?" Isn't that great!? Seriously, it seems dumb but that is my concern. I am pretty content and happy with this life of mine. :) 

All in all, it has been a wonderful Summer and Spring! Did I say, "I love my life"? 

BIG HUGS,
Mel

P.S.- So, do you think should I cut my hair again?





Monday, August 13, 2018

What did the fox say?

Apparently... NOM! NOM!

We started the Spring with 24 chickens. Not including our incubated balls of fluff. That number has dwindled down to 10. Granted 1 was eaten by a revenge-filled cat, 1 natural causes, and a possible raccoon snagged 1 or 2. The rest have been taken by foxes.

As beautiful as these creatures and the others are it makes us pretty upset. Mr. Awesome has some plans to get the remaining flock enclosed. In the meantime, when we don't let the dog out to roam the property we put a radio on. I read somewhere that one trick is to leave it on because it sounds like humans are out and about.

This is our fault of course. If we had a run perhaps we could have saved them or at least some of them. :(

In other news, our garden is in full swing. I haven't used it to its maximum potential. This year I'm
blaming it on my healing knee. Remember "The great knee incident" last December? Oh don't get me wrong I'm healing awesome. I am just a bit impatient in the process.

Mr. Awesome built raised beds for me that are working out splendidly. It has helped out well since squatting is not really something I'm doing a lot of right now.

We hatched out another set of chicks and included ducks! Out of 6 chicks and 6 ducklings, we now have 5 chicks and 2 ducklings. :)

These cute balls of fluff are not going out to range for a while. There is a hawk that has been roaming from time to time. That hawk made a meal of a newer chick.


My bees are not thriving. I had my nose in the hive several times but I am not seeing progress. I haven't talked to the bee people down the road but hope to do so to find out the magic they are using to keep the hives alive. I have been doing research on this and it still sounds as though it is due to the spraying of pesticides on farms. Since we are surrounded by farmland then it is a BIG problem for us. I'm scratching my head as to how to keep bees and keep them alive.

In other news, I was honored to be invited to be interviewed on The Bill & Kail Show about my story of abuse. I have been doing a series of videos about abuse, writing, and find us here-  Our YouTube channel. There is more but I'll be sharing that on my other blog later today- Hope When There Was None.

I hope your week is going great!

God bless and much love to you!

BIG HUGS,
Mel