Category: This Month On The Homestead

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This Month On The Homestead: Apple Cider, Tomato Sauce, and a Jack O’ Lantern

October 2019 October is the reason why I live in the New England countryside. I mean, I guess there are other reasons, but October ranks pretty high. It’s the most idyllic, most stereotypically “autumn,” most mythologized, most steeped-in-Americana of all the months. And I love it. Welcome to my recurring series in which I document life on our 66-acre Vermont homestead, which we moved to in May 2016 from urban Cambridge, MA.  Wondering about the financial aspects...

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This Month On The Homestead: A Full Woodshed, Evolving as Gardeners, Plus a Pumpkin

September 2019 As you saw in our expense report, September turned us away from summer, pushed us into fall, and forced us to reckon with the inevitability of winter. We started the month with monochromatic green and ended in a riot of leaf colors. September makes us hustle. Dropping temperatures rob us of our languid summertime pace and Mr. Frugalwoods and I rushed from garden to kitchen to firewood, each task feeling immediate and necessary...

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This Month On The Homestead: Vegetables, Turkeys, a Ground Hog, and Tractor Maintenance

August 2019 This series has been on hiatus the last few months because I’ve struggled with what to write. I am not a real homesteader. At least, not in the sense that folks expect when they hear the word “homesteader.” It evokes an antebellum existence of no electricity or running water, of growing and raising all of one’s food, of an internet-less, canning jar-laden life. I want to tell you about our month on our homestead,...

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Drink Whiskey, Look at Stars, Make Maple Syrup

The air smelled like maple syrup. Every time I stepped out of the house, or got out of the car, or returned from a hike in the woods, I smelled it. It doesn’t smell like when you hover your nose over a plastic jug of grocery store syrup. It’s not saccharine and plasticized. It doesn’t even smell like the “real Vermont maple syrup” we used to buy at farm stands while driving back home to...

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This Month On The Homestead: Maple Trees, Maple Sap, Maple…

March 2019 The sap is flowing, the sap is flowing! Maple sap, that is. Welcome to a special maple-flavored edition of my This Month On The Homestead series. Today I’ll cover the process of tapping our maple trees, running tubes between the trees, and collecting maple sap. Since I used a lot of words to write about all that, I’ll dedicate a future post to the actual boiling of the sap to make the actual...

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This Month On The Homestead: When Your Internet And Your Truck Conspire Against You

January 2019 What is there to say about a month like January? It’s the doldrum of a season. Winter persists. Fall is a memory. Spring is an elusive promise that seems more like a maybe than a definite. Snow engulfs everything: trees, cars, garden fences, porches, small mammals, a box of tissues I accidentally dropped off the porch and forgot about. It’s all buried under stubborn, thick white. I don’t mind winter and I don’t...

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This Month On The Homestead: Burning Brush and The Life and Times of Firewood

December 2018 Most of what happened in December related to our Christmas fiasco festivities, which I detailed earlier this week in Laugh So You Don’t Cry: What It’s Really Like to Celebrate Christmas With Little Kids. Other than that whole situation, I can report that it is still winter on the homestead. We’re still covered in snow, although not as much as in November. It’s white and fluffy. Except for the spots where it’s icy and...

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This Month On The Homestead: Snow, Power, and Celebrations

November 2018 November is stick season. November is stark trees, bare earth, cold. November is purgatory, a way station between vibrant fall and monochromatic winter. At least, that’s what November is in a normal year. This year, however, November slammed us into deep winter. As we waited for the final leaves to finish their descent and made plans to gird ourselves, impertinent snow took hold. Heedless of its prematurity, careless in its saturating abundance, snow...

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This Month On The Homestead: Bears, Turkeys, Deer, A Tractor, and Wood

October 2018 Transition visits in October. We’re caught balancing between two extremes, tentative and uncertain, unable to find sure footing in either fall or winter. There’s a riot of color on every leaf and the trees look fake with saturation. The oranges and reds and yellows all cluster around, pushing into our faces, swarming at our feet, demanding we notice their brilliance. And then, it snowed. A demure snow, doing a trial run to see...

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This Month On The Homestead: Apples, The County Fair, and A Plum Thief

September 2018 Early September carries the whiff of summer. It’s warm, the trees are lush and green, and the vegetable garden still pushes out reams of produce. We hop around bound up in our summer lives: mowing fields and grasses, harvesting and preserving vegetables, playing in the creek, and picking late blackberries. But mid-September begins to portend a change. Temperatures dip and we find ourselves closing the windows and reaching for sweaters and socks, long...