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An Autumn Melange

An Autumn Melange

My original plan for this blog was to give a snapshot and a bit of a ‘how-to’ as well, of small farm life. So instead of topical posts that I never get around to writing, I am going to switch to rambling updates on everything going on.  It seemed that every time we got into a big project this summer, I thought of how it would make a great post and how I should take pictures.  The thing is, I am so busy doing the project that I never have the time to write about it! So here it is, a bit of everything.


I know a lot of people have asked about our honey.  Unfortunately we are not going to be able to sell any this year.  Mike decided to harvest just one frame from each hive.  A lot of apiarist in our area lose their bees over the winter.  Mike wants to ensure that they have a lot of food for their first winter and hopefully with full bellies and less stress they will produce twice as much next year. One good thing about not selling honey this year is that I will have at least a  full year to figure out how to print a label straight.


The crushed comb and cappings. I am hoping to try and render it so I can get some beeswax for another batch of lip balm.


We got a little under 1 litre of liquid honey from this frame.

Canning tomatoes, peaches, relish, jam and pickles took up a lot of August & September.  Our new pressure canner sped things up a bit.  It helped to not have to worry about the acidity of the tomato sauce and to be able to throw all kinds of vegetables and herbs into it.  I also used it to can a small batch of beef stew and I have a lot of other plans for it as well. I have to admit that I didn’t use all of our vegetables this year.  I felt a bit burnt out after awhile with all the work.  I was stressed about food going to waste. So instead of trying to do everything and ending up losing patience with people, usually 4 miniature people, I prayed about it, asked my husband’s advice and decided to leave it.   We gave away some, slowly ate a lot fresh and the rest went to pigs and chickens to convert into eggs and meat.  In the end, I don’t feel like it has been wasted at all.


Pictures like this make me happy! And there is 3 times more in the basement.


To save time making the sauce, I just packed as many tomatoes and vegetables into a pot as I could fit. Next I cooked it down until the vegetables were soft, the carrots took the longest, and pureed it with the hand blender. So far no one has noticed the seeds or tiny bits of tomato skin.


The pigs and chickens are living in harmony as they till and fertilize our larger garden.   They have also been enjoying all the produce that we didn’t get around to eating or preserving in the busy summer months.  It has given us the idea of planting a garden specifically for the poultry and pigs next year.  The plan is to get the chickens to scratch it up in the spring, throw some squash, bean, lettuce and whatever other seeds into it, then leave it until the fall.  I guess that is more of a permaculture approach to feeding them.


The pigs are chickens are supposed to be working up the garden. I think the pigs are slacking…

The chickens enjoy our garden scraps.

The chickens enjoy our garden scraps.


Mixed in with all the plant, livestock and child rearing was two weddings.  One of which (Mike’s mother), we hosted.  It was a beautiful day, but I was so busy that I didn’t take one picture.  I am hoping I can get some from someone else to share here.  I also had the opportunity to design and create all the flowers for a special couple that I grew up with.  Jill & Dave’s families attended the same church as my family for many years.  Their wedding colours were wine and grey, but we decided to stick with mostly white flowers.  She also wanted just baby’s breath for the bridesmaid bouquets.   It was nice to take a break from canning and spend a few days doing something creative.  Here are a few cell-phone shots:


The flowers arrived via UPS the day before.


I made some small arrangements in mason jars.


A very blurry picture of one of the attendant’s bouquets.

White and green bridal bouquet.

A top-shot of Jill’s bouquet. I love the little green poppy pods tucked in!

The little hooligans have been busy helping us and playing outside for most of the summer and fall.  The twins have been a real help this year, now that they are almost six. Homeschooling has started as well and we try to spend a few hours 4 morning a week reading lots of great literature and practicing reading and writing.  We have also joined a homeschool co-op this year at our church.


Breakfast on the porch this summer was awesome! The 2 year olds especially loved eating witch the cows a few yards away.


We put up a temporary electric fence for the cows to graze down some overgrown barnyard areas. The next thing I know, the kids had dragged 4 chairs from the porch so they could sit and watch them. It is amazing that they are still so interested in animals despite seeing them everyday.


One of our baby kittens. This one is names “Little Whodie.” Disclaimer: It was not named by me.


I have had a few requests for house pictures.  The dilemma I face is that my house is never clean for more than a few minutes.  As I type this, I am surrounded by clean laundry and toys as well as the weekly flyers.  The kitchen island is loaded with cabbages that I have to ferment, there is a fly sticker 12 inches wide and 4 feet long hanging from my kitchen ceiling (with several hundred flies on it), and the laundry/mud room is stacked with bee frames.  So my goal is to clean one room, snap a picture as quickly as possible and post it for each new post.  So here is the bathroom and the toddler’s room.

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And five minutes after taking the pictures, this is what the boys’ room looks like.  It was too depressing to take a picture of the bathroom…


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Written by Vanessa White


  • Elizabeth says:

    Dear Vanessa,

    I’m loving your blog. You have every characteristic of any one those stylish farm-house Instagram-ready blogs, but you are real. You are honest. Your writing voice invites the reader into your daily routine, all the while providing tips & tricks for the beginner farmer.

    Forget the airbrushed, perfectly staged & filtered & decorated farmhouse blogs. You have an absolutely beautiful place, and (from an outsider’s perspective!) an idyllic country homesteader’s life – but you don’t sugar-coat it.

    Carry on, keep it up – I’ll be reading!



  • Kathleen says:

    Thank you for taking house pictures for me…. I love the messy ones, too.

    Your fan – Kathleen

  • Kathleen says:

    Thank you for taking house pictures for me…. I love the messy ones, too.

  • Liz Forbes says:

    I am really enjoying your blog. What a great way to live in this crazy world of ours. Keep up the great work. Liz

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