This Month On The Homestead: Who Wore It Best? Plus a Fire Pit and Some Radishes
The first of the first comes ripe in June and oh how we feast. Or rather, oh how the kids feast. If anything actually makes it inside, it’s a summer miracle. Here’s what the girls ate straight from the garden in June:
- Snap peas!!! Ya’ll, I am on fire with this garden. I mean, on water? To be clear, fire is not ideal for a garden. I’ve been babying our pea pods for months–covering them from frost, weeding, watering, warding off pests (primarily my children), and finally, harvesting. And one day, I will eat one. That day did not come in June. Littlewoods designated herself the snap pea harvest helper, which entailed her following me along the row with a bucket while I picked peas and dropped them in. She then ate EVERY SINGLE ONE. If there’s such a thing as a two-year-old snap pea overdose, we will be the ones to find out.
Radishes!!! I want to be excited about these but, turns out, no one in the family likes how they taste so I’ve been hate eating them like the nasty little faux apples they are.
- Salad greens!!! I’m able to wrestle an adequate number of leaves away from the kids to make dinner salads every night. I’m not sure what we’re going to do in the winter–no store bought greens could ever taste so fresh!!! My mixed greens, lettuce, and arugula are growing beautifully and we feast on them nightly. My spinach, on the other hand, not so much. Not sure if it doesn’t like the soil? Or the sun? Or me?
- Herbs!!! The basil, sage and dill are filling in nicely.
Welcome to my series documenting life on our 66-acre Vermont homestead, which we moved to in May 2016 from urban Cambridge, MA.
Wondering about the financial aspects of rural life? Check out: City vs. Country: Which Is Cheaper? The Ultimate Cost Of Living Showdown as well as my monthly expense reports.
Contemplating going rural? Here ya go: Want To Move To The Country? 15 Things To Consider.
A Wedding Anniversary
Our 12th wedding anniversary happened in June and in light of Pandemic, my initial reaction was bummed. We were supposed to be on a getaway while my in-laws watched our kids. But we weren’t so I spent part of the day indulging in decadent self-pity. I take pride in our anniversary because it’s something we’ve accomplished. Unlike my birthday where IT’S MY MOM who should be celebrated (something driven home to me during hard labor with my children).
Our anniversary, on the other hand, is our thing–we did it, we created this life, and we’ve stuck together. So I was less than enthused when I realized our anniversary day involved church via Zoom, a community meeting via Zoom, clearing a trail in the woods (thankfully not via Zoom), folding laundry, and garden bed weeding.
But as I wrapped Littlewoods in my bathrobe, rocking her for our morning wake-up ritual–while Mr. FW made breakfast and Kidwoods vaulted from the trampoline–I realized this was our best anniversary yet. Not in terms of activities, but in terms of life lived. Twelve years ago, if you’d asked me to make a list of things I hoped my husband and I would accomplish, this anniversary included them all.
I am bad at enjoying the present moment. I am REAL BAD at perspective. I forget that this, RIGHT HERE, is everything I want. This husband, these children, this land, this fire pit–these are what I want. And I’m married to a person who, when I say, “I’d love to have a fire pit this summer,” responds by going into the woods and digging out enormous stones to heft into our yard in order to build me a fire pit.
More About the Above-Pictured Firepit
The above is a real flame. I repeat: not a fake flame. This is what happens when you light a fire pit with a flame weeder in order to roast marshmallows. You then wait 20 minutes for the flame to subside so that you can actually, you know, roast your marshmallows. One of the many reasons I love my husband: his many and varied ways of (safely) starting fires. No Glamour Sheds were harmed in the creation or endurance of this flame.
I’m pretty sure our kids will remember the pandemic as the summer they got to roast marshmallows and hot dogs in the yard every week. And also as the time when they got Power Wheels…
Who Wore It Best?
For the first time EVER, I was the one to plant the majority of our garden. I was the one to dig holes and straighten plant roots and sweep soil around burgeoning tendrils of vegetable life.
That’s where I was for much of June: planting, pruning, weeding, and harvesting. But the real reason for all this time in the garden was to bring you a homestead edition of “Who Wore It Best: Mrs. Frugalwoods or Mr. Frugalwoods?” See photos above and at right. Vote in comments.
June might seem late to plant a garden, but that would only be if you do not live in Vermont. To be honest, we Vermonters should keep our plants indoors year-round, ideally under electric blankets.
Now, let’s spend a few moments reflecting on my haute farm fashion as I imagine you’re desperately googling to see how you too might find shapeless overalls (BUT THE POCKETS, LADIES), an on-trend hat (NOTE THE NECK FLAP) and the stunning UPF shirt. Not to mention: dirt under your nails is the Vermont manicure. Don’t go to a social function without it.
Where to get Mrs. FW’s farm fresh look: the overalls (yes, we both have the men’s version), the shirt, (yep, we both have the men’s), and the hat–actually, the hat is so old I have no idea where it’s from (affiliate links).
In The Garden With the Toddler Ennui: by Kidwoods, age 4 and Littlewoods, age 2
Yes, I planted this lettuce after pestering mama for 35 minutes until she relented and let me nestle nascent plants into the earth and smash dirt around their roots. Also, yes, I knocked over an entire flat of basil plant starts because I hula-hooped through the garden. Many will die. I was given a lunch, yes, but the [homemade, organic, whole wheat] bread was “not long enough,” so I threw it in the grass and my little sister ate it.
I, the little sister, know that I was given busy work over here in unplanted earth. I was not entrusted with a plant–not even a token plant–and am WELL aware you directed me to dig in the one fallow spot in this raised bed. In defiance, I will now water your radish plants with my tea kettle. Where this tea kettle water came from, you will have to wonder. I will not follow your instructions to “water other plants too please,” I intend to drown this ONE plant.
We are the Toddler Ennui and we hate your plan for the day. We will not give you the satisfaction of a smile or recognition. You are dust to us, much like the earth beneath these plants. We revile your rules, your mandates to “stop touching the strawberry plants” and also, could you please make us a snack and cuddle both of us at once while we twirl your hair and stroke your ears?
A Summer Craft-type Thing By Mrs. FW
I will have you know that not only did I plant the garden, I am also doing a craft-type thing this year. I am drying flowers. This complicated process involves me picking flowers, then hanging them upside down on a clothesline in the basement and waiting for them to dry out. This is the craftiest thing I’ve done in ten years.
The peonies seem prime candidates for drying. Or the “pee-on-me’s” as Kidwoods straight-facedly calls them. As we round out month four of isolation, I’m glad it’s summer. And I don’t even like summer. I live in Vermont for a reason. Snow is preferable to bugs that bite people. Wearing a coat is better than sweating the moment you step outside. Warm brownies by the woodstove on a frigid winter’s eve are better than, well, anything else. But this year? I put out a welcome banner for summer.
The kids have gone feral in the yard, plucking snap peas and strawberries from the garden, running through hose water, stomping on plants (and each other) as the sun beats down, washing it all clean. I’m ready for fall (yes, I know the first day of summer was like a minute ago), but I’m also grateful for the loudness of summer–the heat, the peonies, the vegetables–and the fact that if we turn on the AC window unit in our bedroom, I can still use the electric blanket for a few minutes every night.
Wood Harvesting Begins
In Vermont, it’s either winter or it’s time to prepare for winter. Our non-winter days are brief so Mr. Frugalwoods started felling, skidding, bucking, splitting, and stacking firewood (to burn in our woodstove to heat our house) and sugar wood for our maple syrup operation (operation is too strong a word–hobby perhaps?)
Woods Mama = Slowing the Eft Down
I spent 20 minutes with the girls observing this Red Eft Eastern Newt (which I’m sure was terrified by the encounter and for that, I apologize). To sit in the sun with my girls discussing this creature–and the slug Littlewoods brought over to serve as the Eft’s friend–was a moment of zen. There is always more to do: to plant, to cook, to clean, to write, and it is HARD for me to let it go and pet a newt. But for my kids, it’s not hard at all. It’s the most natural thing they can imagine. So there we sat, a newt, a slug, two children, and thunder rolling in the distance, a promise of aid for our garden.
There’s a lot I think I do wrong as a parent. There’s a lot I question and worry about. Pretty much the only time I’m 100% confident in my parenting is when we’re in the woods. My kids become independent and resilient in the woods and all I have to do is follow along and make sure no one eats a poisonous plant or grabs a venomous snake. I wish I always had the patience I have in the woods. I wish I always stood back and listened as much as I do in the woods. I need the lowered standards and quiet trust of woods mama to be my all-the-time approach. Because it’s not. Out of the woods I’m an impatient perfectionist. So this summer, I’m trying to bring woods mama inside.
After moving here, we had solar panels mounted on our barn roof. My full write-up on the panels is here and I include a solar update in this series. This is the only way for me to remember that: a) I have solar; b) you all would like to be updated on it.
In June, we generated 770 kWh, which is decent. For context, in January 2020 our panels generated 120 kWh and in July 2019 we raked in 907 kWh.
Since our electric company offers net metering, we’re able to bank our summer and fall sunshine for use in the winter, which keeps our electric bill low year-round, even when the sun isn’t shining. This has been your solar production update. You’re welcome.
Want More Fotos?!
Join me there if you want more of our frugal woods. Some folks have asked about this and yes, I do try to post a picture to Instagram every day and–unlike with many other things in my life–I have a pretty good track record.
How was June for you?
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