Category: This Month On The Homestead

25

This Month On The Homestead: Birthday Baking, Icicle Hiking, and Getting Stuck on My Own Driveway

February 2020 In a winter populated by snow storms, in a climate where cold is more familiar that warmth, and a region mythologized by horse-drawn sleighs breaking through snow, February went above and beyond. Several overachieving storms bent tree branches to the earth with the weight of snow piled on ice piled on snow. Crunching through this ice/snow laminate on snow shoes breaks the silence that follows a storm as all critters, save we humans,...

71

This Month On The Homestead: Breathe Deeply, Expect Nothing, Add Carrots

January 2020 January delivers a stark reminder that the holiday festivities are finished and that snow is in residence until May. January meets us with a grim reminder that we ought gird ourselves for consistency of weather and of activity. It’s a month of monochromatic sameness. But January is also the time for decluttering and new recipes and woodstove worship. It’s an exercise in locating beauty in the mundane. In finding stillness among the snow-soaked...

63

This Month On The Homestead: Hiking and The Great Indoors

December 2019 December is a dormant month. By December, we’ve completed our fall wrap-up tasks: all food from the garden is preserved, the apple cider is pressed, the tractor is switched over to the snow blower and chains, the snow tires are on the cars, the firewood is stacked on the porch, and snow obviates all homesteading labor save its removal from our driveway and walking paths. In December we turn inward and embrace the...

64

This Month On The Homestead: Starting Fires, Baking Pies, and Celebrating a Birthday

November 2019 November ushered in our first snowfall and the seasons replaced, exchanged and subsumed each other. I’m never quite ready for this transition, even though I know it’s coming, even though I love the snow. It’s hard for me to let go of my preferential feelings for fall. By November 8th, we were in full winter regalia and nestled beneath the white blankets that’ll cloak the earth until spring. There’s a relief that accompanies...

45

How We Evaluate Expensive Purchases: Why We Bought A Generator

I reached the limit of my desire to re-enact Little House On The Prairie every time our power goes out. So, we bought a generator. Today I’ll discuss why, what type of generator we got, how to assess a range of price points for the same product, and perhaps most importantly, why we waited four years to make this purchase. The 1870’s: Not For Me I’ve tried living a la the 1870’s and, I’ll be...

74

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...

79

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...

69

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,...

49

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...

36

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...