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There’s Always Next Year

By Cheryl Ryan

My Mom always had a garden in our yard when I was growing up. I remember her rescuing birds and caring for rabbits. So when we moved into our first home I started my vegetable garden. Through the years I’ve had varying degrees of good and bad gardens as well as varying degrees of enthusiasm for all the work it takes.

Fast forward to moving into a new house for the first time in 28 years and landscaping an entire yard.  We built vegetable beds and I planted several types of fruit trees. This year – surprise surprise – was terrible! The redwood used in our vegetable bed was treated redwood and it leached dangerous chemicals into our soil, the squirrels ate every single peach off my new tree and my first crop of apples were so heavy that it snapped two branches right off. 

I’m feeling a bit defeated but watching my favorite Instagram homesteaders helps. I wonder if I married someone different if I would be a homesteader?  Probably not, some of those animals kind of scare me but I really like watching from the safety of my phone screen. But it has been fun learning from people that really know what they’re doing.

I had no idea Loofa was a plant in the cucumber family.

One of my early favorites is The Modern Day Settler. She raises pigs for butchering or breeding and has sheep and a cow for milking. She taps maple trees and recently started spinning yarn and making her own fabric from the wool of her sheep. I was shocked when she first announced that she was taking her pigs to slaughter.  She treats them like pets. How could she do that? But she’s unapologetic in her desire to treat her animals well and that she’s a carnivore. Watching her has given me a greater appreciation for sourcing meat products that are humanly raised. And did I mention the crazy fall colors surrounding her 1790’s New England farmhouse?  

I’ve recently found Axe & Root Homestead and Wild Oak Farms.  They both have incredible gardening tips, canning ideas and just seem like nice people. Wild Oak Farms just harvested Looffa which is part of the cucumber family.  I had no idea where Loofa came from.  My latest find is Midcounty Journal. She’s darling and motivates me to get to work on my languishing house projects.  She and her husband are refurbishing an old farmhouse that is coming out so cool. She never quits moving. I’m not sure what they’ll be doing in the winter but I’m looking forward to signing on in the spring when I give my garden another go next year.

A lot of people are doing so many different things. I love finding new stuff. Please share some cool new things you are learning about.   

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