Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How We Homestead: Real Food

Welcome to the third installment of our new five-week series, How We Homestead. Each Wednesday I write a post about a different homesteading topic to shed more light on where we are on our path to self-sufficiency and what homesteading looks like for us.

If you read the first installment in this series, you may remember that the documentary Food, Inc. was the catalyst for us in getting started on our homesteading journey. Since seeing the film, we have been focused on providing real, whole foods for our family. For us, that means growing as much of our own food as possible. I am somewhat of a control freak, so it is right up my alley to have a hand in each step of the gardening process, from seed to harvest.

Row of cucumbers.

This is only our second year gardening out here, so we still are in the planning and organizing phase. Last year was sort of a test run, and we made lots of changes to the garden area this year. The biggest change was defining a large spot for the garden and building raised beds. We are still working on it, but we finally see an end in sight! We just have to add a little more mulch in between the beds (this way we don't have to worry about weeds) and finish the fence to keep all the critters away from our veggies.


Radishes popping up like crazy!

Our first strawberry!

In addition to our large vegetable garden, we also took up beekeeping this year and are eager to harvest our first batch of honey. In the meantime, I buy local raw honey from the head of the beekeeping club in our area. I love to use honey in place of white sugar whenever I can (especially in my homemade granola and ice cream) so we tend to go through quite a bit!

My first time holding a frame full of our bees. I finally did it!

One of our girls foraging on sedum blooms.

Earlier this year, we decided to try tapping our maple trees to make our own syrup. While we found that we didn't feel the process was worth it for the time and effort required, we are so glad that we tried and learned more about how syrup is made.


If you've been reading this blog for a while now, you know that we also have a flock of chickens and guineas to provide us with delicious farm fresh eggs. At first I was only concerned with keeping chickens for their eggs, but along the way I have learned how much fun they are and what great companion animals they can be. I just love my chickens and the gorgeous eggs they provide for my family!


Our ultimate goal is to be able to grow and preserve all the food that we eat here on our homestead. I realize that is a very lofty goal, and we are nowhere near it yet, but it is what we are working towards every day.

Four other awesome bloggers are participating in this series as well, so don't forget to check out their posts to read more about where they are in their homesteading journey. You can find them here -

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm
Meg at Little Homestead
Daisy at Maple Hill 101
Amber at Making A Home

Thanks so much for reading and please do let me know if you have any questions or comments. I'd love to hear from you! Don't forget to check back next Wednesday for the fourth installment in the series where I will be focusing on what a typical day looks like for us out here on the homestead.

~Tammy

Shared with Home Sweet Home, How Does Your Garden Grow  

55 comments:

  1. you're accomplishing / trying a lot in a short amount of time. you should be very proud.

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  2. I am enjoying reading aout how you are doing such a great job accomplishing your homesteading goals Tammy !

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    1. "about" argh sticky keys on gadget phone lately !

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  3. Great Post! You are one busy couple!

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  4. "Our ultimate goal is to be able to grow and preserve all the food that we eat here on our homestead." Yes! This is my goal as well! Of course I think we will need to move to a little larger piece of land in order to accomplish that! But, for now, providing the majority of the veggies we eat in the summer as well as all the eggs we could possibly want - ever - I feel like we are doing a great job! I love this series! So glad to see others homesteading journeys!

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  5. Wow - your garden is huge! Good for you two. :) The maple syrup process is amazing, isn't it? So happy about the bees! I'm hoping to get my husband to a class at a local farm so he'll lose some of his fear about bringing them to our little farm. It's currently the only thing holding us back but I want him to be on board so maybe a little experience with it will help.

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  6. Only your 2nd year?? Definitely making GREAT progress towards your homesteading!

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  7. Wow, I didn't realize it was only your second year doing this. You guys seem like you've been at it for years - you're so skilled at what you do!

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  8. It looks like you're getting pretty comfortable with your bees now. Have you had any stings?
    Farmhouse hugs,
    Cindy

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  9. Congrats on handling the hive! That's one of our goals too.

    Your garden looks fantastic! Enjoy the process...

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  10. Love this series! First, congrats on the hive - that looks like serious business. Our friends just started beekeeping - looks like an amazing journey they are beginning! As for us, we just started our garden, I have high hopes for the little thing...baby steps and you can bet I'll be borrowing some of your tips during this series! Amazing!

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  11. Your garden beds look great - you have done such a fantastic job. You're definitely making progress toward your homesteading goals - good for you!

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  12. Your raised beds look great! I think you are doing a fantastic job with meeting your homesteading goals - it's a long process to get there. We've been working on them for about 2-3 years now and no where near where I had hoped but each year get a little closer!

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  13. Great post! Your garden is looking good and it's huge! And I just adore the bees! Looks like progress!!

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  14. Tammy, The more I read in the news about all of the awful ways the food we eat is processed and grown, etc, the more I'm inclined to want to have more control over my food as well! Your garden looks terrific-raised beds are definitely the way to go!

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  15. HOW have I missed this series? I do sometimes think I live in a bubble :)
    I love love love that cucumber seedling photo, so pretty.
    Janie x

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  16. Oh look at the size of your vege garden! And it's flat - I'm a bit jealous!! One of my aims is to try and grow as much of our food as possible, I just wish the other half was more enthusiastic as I need his muscles! S:)

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  17. I am so impressed with your garden and your bees! You are doing such a great job!

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  18. That pic of you holding the bee frame is awesome!! I would be peeing my pants.

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  19. Tammy, You are doing a wonderful job. Your garden look great and I am just amazed at the shot of you holding the bees. I love that it show how much you care and love what you are doing. It is so satisfying. Great post, have a happy evening and week ahead.

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  20. I just love all this! Your pictures are amazing! I love peeking into your garden and it will get better and better every year. I think you need to give sugaring another go...it really is pretty neat to have some of your own.

    I remain jealous of your bees! We go through a ton of honey too...mostly through bread making. I use it with this recipe:

    http://bornambitous-bornimaginative.blogspot.com/2011/03/jackies-bread.html.

    Keep on keeping on...it's an awesome goal you have eating from what you do at home! Love it all!

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  21. Parabéns pela sua colmeia e pelo jardim...Espectacular....
    Cumprimentos

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  22. That's great you were holding the bees!! Looks like a lot of great productivity is going on around there...love this! Can't wait to see how your garden is going to turn out! :)

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  23. Your garden is looking fabulous!! You are a very brave lady to hold the bees like that! Yikes!! :)

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  24. Your garden looks amazing! Your work is paying off.

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  25. What a great garden! Looks like things are growing great! So impressed with the bees! Another great post from your homesteading journey!

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  26. Your garden is enormous--and I think it's so neat that you keep bees. I would love to get into beekeeping one day. Your blog is so inspiring!

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  27. The documentary, Food, Inc., was a big motivating factor for me as well. We grow produce and our own grass fed beef now. We also buy locally. Another factor for me was reading, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver. Love seeing those bees!!!

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  28. Congrats on handling the bees! You look like a natural with them :) I am curious about your garden. Why do you choose to use the raised beds? I struggle with certain parts of my gardening, so always looking to learn better or different ways of doing things!

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  29. Hats off to you and your husband for growing all your own food! I loved the photo of you holding the bees. Can't wait to hear your reports on how things are going.

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  30. So many awesome things go on over at your place. The garden looks great. Will you use landscape fabric under the mulch, or no?

    Kudos to you for holding the bees, you look like a natural!!

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  31. did u add fertilizers or is the soil already rich?

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  32. Your garden is huge. My question, though would be why raised beds when it looks like you have an area cleared that would be large enough for a traditional garden? We plant a lot of stuff in our garden and I can and preserve as much of it as I can so we can eat it late into the winter. I only have jar of tomato sauce left and we are late planting tomatoes.

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  33. I think keeping bees is one of my favourite things on our little farm. We have only had our hives for three years and we now have enough honey for us and some to sell/swap too. The hardest thing to become self sufficient in for us at least, is grains. They are a lot of work and take up quite a lot of space so we are doing the next best thing and buying from an organic mill which isn't too far away. Oh and your garden looks like it will not only be very productive but a peaceful place too.

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  34. To be self-sufficient is a wonderful goal. Especially with food prices so high these days.

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  35. Your garden looks great! We also have the same goal to grow as much as out own food as possible. It can get overwhelming at times, especially when you are up against the strange weather patterns we have been having lately, but it is well worth it. It's a win-win, you get to work outside, get plenty of exercise and you end up with healthy nutritious food!

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  36. wow, i am amazed by how much you are doing and learning!

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  37. A delicious post. Bet the strawberry tasted wonderful. We pick wild strawberries and blueberries in the woods over here.

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  38. Great looking garden!
    We are doing a few raised beds this year, hoping it helps with the weeds!

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  39. Just in awe....our goals are less lofty but I so admire you. But a note: depending on where you live (ie, somewhere cold), if this is your first season with the bees, and by Fall you haven't had them a full year, you may want to seriously consider waiting another year to harvest the honey. The honey is what the bees eat all Winter, and often beekeepers will leave it for the first Winter to ensure an adequate supply. After a year, the bees will have had ample opportunity to gettheir groove on and store enough for the future. Just a thought based on our own beekeeping experiences.

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  40. your gardens look amazing.. I love how you live and just in awe of you guys and your soul shines thru in all you do . I love the passion you all put into all tasks and dreams and YOUR living a good full life. I just love it .. WISH I was there to hug your sweet self and I feel just so blessed that GOD crossed our paths.. .. Have a blessed weekend my sweet friend .. WHO is like Fam now .. HUGS and hug little pearl for me

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  41. Hey Tammy. Fabulous looking gardens. I have a large vegetable garden, fruit orchard and chickens too (but no bees...so I'm very envious:).

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your lovely comment.

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  42. Oh Tammy...looks so fabulous. I would love to grow my food too and have a brood of chickens and keep bees but it's impossible living in the burbs. Maybe one day....

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  43. I'm so enjoying following your journey, Tammy! It sounds like things are really coming together for you this year! Your garden is amazing and of course your dear, sweet chickens. You are brave for raising bees, but it is people like you who keep us honey lovers in supply! I love your enthusiasm - it is contagious. xoxo

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  44. What a great post...your garden is coming along nicely...those eggs look amazing and I think you are a BRAVE young lady to handle those bees. I just know the honey will be sooo delicious.
    hugs, bj

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  45. Thanks for sharing your homesteading story. You are doing a fantastic job! :-)

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  46. I'm so happy for you Tammy! Everything looks so good, the vegetables, the fruits and the bees...oh my! you were holding them! A couple more months and I know that's going to be like nothing to you! :)

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  47. I love your first strawberry! And how brave of you to hold the bee frame! The eggs are so colorful. This all looks like a lot of hard work. You should be proud of your accomplishments! :)

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  48. You are amazing Tammy!!
    Your raised garden beds are beautiful and love the shot of your bees!! How rewarding for you!!

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  49. I really admire you and your family for all you are accomplishing, it's amazing! And I love the egg and honey photo's, beautifully done :)

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  50. So exciting! I just loved these pictures!

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  51. GOod to see you holding the bees! :)

    We have a lot of people around here who do maple syrup. It's a ton of work! I helped my friend one year. As you know, it takes 40 gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup. There are people around here who regularly tap just a few trees on their property. We only have one sugar maple but it's a beauty and I really should give it at try some day.

    Your garden looks great.

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  52. Your homesteading journey is very inspiring! We have only got a tiny inner city garden at the moment, but dream of something like what you have one day! Thanks for the post of lovely photos!

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  53. You guys are certainly on your way! YAY you for holding the frame, that is so awesome! Love your pics and your raised beds... wonderful!

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  54. Quite frankly, I love your life!

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Thank you so much for visiting! We enjoy reading each and every one of your lovely comments.