Hi everyone! I hope you had a wonderful weekend. We spent the weekend “homesteading,” and it’s amazing how much joy I get out of this. I love anything about living off the land, and one of my dreams would be to spend a year with someone who actually homesteads and see what all goes into truly living off the land. I’m strange, I know. Luckily Nathan was built out of the same mold – ha! Here’s how we spent our weekend…
The weather forecast was originally for rain all weekend, but imagine Nathan’s excitement when we woke to a revised forecast of rain AFTER 2PM! And you know what that means – outside work! He fired up the log splitter promptly at 8am and got to work. I stayed inside with the kids while they ate breakfast, then headed out to help. Thankfully we had already made a dent in our goal, but we really wanted to finish up this weekend.
The kids came outside about an hour later “ready to work.” No joke. They had their work gloves, hearing protection, and eye glasses. Nathan was so proud!
I grew up working outside with my parents too, but my dad never let us kids do the “fun stuff.” He would always run the log splitter and we were stuck stacking. So we decided that if we let the kids do some of the fun stuff they would be more willing to help. She’s a beast running this thing!
They also take plenty of breaks! But honestly, just the fact that they are out there with us is huge for me. I feel it’s really important to see how much work goes into running the house and the family. They LOVE the warm cozy fire, so they are gaining an appreciation of what it takes to make that happen.
They lasted an hour before getting tired (although if you saw the size of the logs they were moving, you would be tired too!) So they headed off to ride their battery-operated ATVs and build “deer traps” while Nathan and I trudged on.
It might sound silly, but Nathan and I get so much enjoyment out of doing projects like this together. We used to do home improvement projects together all the time, and had to take a few year break when the kids were small. So we are just now getting back into working together, and it’s so fun!
Yes, he looks way more “official” than me – he was also running the chainsaw so that’s why he needed the full helmet and face mask.
Here is the result of our work. 6 cords of beautiful firewood, ready for winter 2020. Yes, you are supposed to let firewood dry for 2 years for optimal burning. We split next winter’s firewood last year. And 6 cords sounds like a lot, but we heat our entire house with the fireplace, so we go through TONS of wood!
We finished up right as it was starting to spit, so we quickly got everything packed up and the log splitter put away. Just in time for lunch – we were starving!
Fun fact – this is the “Christmas tree shed” that my family used for selling Christmas trees every December. Customers would come in and pay, warm up with hot chocolate, and browse some homemade crafts. If you look closely above the window the Fox Meadow Farms sign is still there. We now use it for storage, and are hoping to convert half to a chicken coop next year.
The other homestead event from last weekend was processing a deer Nathan shot. He actually hunted quite a bit when we first moved to NJ, but hadn’t in awhile (mainly because of building the house). Now that we’re settled and he can hunt steps from our house, he’s hoping to get more into it. I remember one year we got 150 pounds of venison from 4 deer he shot and ate off of it most of the following year. Talk about living off the land!
Here is Nathan cutting the fat off the meat (with venison you don’t eat the fat) and the kids were asking a million questions. They were so intrigued! Again, I grew up in a family of hunters, so thankfully this doesn’t bother me (it’s actually quite exciting to see how many pounds of meat you get).
We got 2 tenderloins and ground the rest. I have no clue how old this grinder is, but it is my parents and I’m assuming was the only one they ever owned. The kids did their fair share of fighting over who got to put the meat in the top area. I was in charge of bagging and weighing – 1lb per bag.
The gang hard at work. Again, Nathan felt it was important to allow them to do some of the “fun jobs” so they would want to be involved.
Venison is some of the leanest meats around, and it doesn’t get much fresher than this! It’s safe to say this is 100% grass-fed meat 🙂
These are the “boot straps” we enjoyed Friday night. This is some of the most tender meat you can find (I was able to cut this with a fork). And my dad says the reason these are called boot straps is that in the old days the butchers wore high boots and used to cut these off and drop them in their boots so the customers didn’t know they were stealing them. Crazy! And yesterday morning Reagan asked if we could have more deer for dinner. Girl after her daddy’s heart 🙂
Sunday I decided to make tomato soup from some of our frozen tomatoes from the summer. We’ve never frozen tomatoes before, but we were so drowning in tomatoes in August that we were desperate.
I roasted 2 huge bags of defrosted tomatoes with 4 red peppers, olive oil, and basil. I’m hoping our peppers do well enough this summer that we can preserve some of them as well. We’re also going to dry and preserve basil this summer.
The final product! Served alongside panko-crusted salmon and wild rice. Such a yummy dinner!
And in honor of Valentine’s Day, we finished the evening with cranberry-almond-sea salt chocolate clusters. These were so easy to make – and were a huge hit with the kids. Although you could add chocolate to pretty much anything and they would eat it 🙂
So that’s it from me today. I hope your week is going well so far!