Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Not always easy.. But always rewarding

I just could not skip over the past 2 months. Depsite the 50 some odd inches of rain this year. yep you heard that right,, almost 2 ft alone in a 2 week period in May, we came back fighting after the flood to ensure we could put food up this winter!
Weeding replanting, mulching, spraying ( organic of course;) and just babying  my gardens proved to work ;)
I've been picking bounty daily and putting up for for the winter
One thing has proved true through all this rain, Mushrooms love it! haha,, We got a good crop of shiitakes after the flood ( all that bumping around and underwater for 24 hours) ,but had to go find the logs  first,, Our friend Jon found almost all of our Shiitake and Oyster Logs during flood clean up!!! Our oyster mushrooms have been prolific, I have probably picked about 10 of the wicker baskets you see below.. I've dried then and canned then and they will be excellent in soups, omelettes , casseroles and pizza this winter.
Numerous jars of Green beans have been put up with another big crop coming in.
30 jars of pickles have been put up, and i am not sure Ill do anymore, while my daughter and I love them, I just wonder if I want to make anymore haha
I have sauerkraut fermenting in the crock ( from our cabbage crop) and will be canning it this week.
I am on to tomatoes now , just did salsa last night, next up is tomato soup....
We had an ok potato crop despite the rain,, about 70 lbs... good enough to get us through most of winter.
15 Chickens were processed in early May... and we will do about 10-15 more  before winter..
along with 2 more pigs ;)
It is all so much work, and even more so when Mother Nature decided to make it even harder. But the joy I get from baskets full of homegrown vegetables is incomparable.
The pantry is filling up quickly and it is a beautiful sight.. Ill be sure to share in photos when it is filled to the brim ..
Still waiting on sweet potatoes and Winter Squash and hoping to get a fall garden in..

Oh and did I mention,, about 800 lbs of Honey?? ;) Our spring flow was awful, but With all this rain we are so very pleased with our Summer Bounty!!!
Thats is , once again, in a nutshell... Just thought I would catch you up before I pledge to post .. weekly?? Don't hold your breath, but I promise to try .....
Thanks for stopping by and reading
Much Love
The Cool Family

A few photos of what is coming from the garden..... 


Monday, July 23, 2018

May 18th , The Flood

Hello friends!
I almost thought about just not writing in my blog anymore. I just do not have time ( Or I do not devote time, one of the two) to telling you about all that is going on around here.

I think I really just need to get past this post, and maybe things will start to ebb and flow a bit more. I honestly did not even want to blog about this. I am much more adapt to beautiful homestead posts than depressing ones, and this one is well ,, depressing , but it is story worthy and part of our homesteading journey. so here it goes!

On May 18th our property flooded.. and it came out of nowhere. a flash flood of sorts..

All of May this year had been rainy. Every. Single. Day.. it rained.. When they called for .10th of an inch, we got 1-2"... Our spring Honey flow( or lack there of) was happening.. and it was a hard pill to swallow knowing our Spring flow would not be as good as it should have. The Tulip poplar trees were loaded with blooms. Trees that had not have blooms in previous years were just laden with Beautiful Poplar flowers ( if you have never seen a Tulip Poplar flower, it is Google worthy)

Now let me set the scene a bit , since you may not the the lay of our land.
To get to our home you have to cross a tiny single lane cement bridge. This bridge it within a stones throw, maybe 110 ft from our front porch. underneath the bridge is what use to be the main creek. Years ago it was filled in with about a half an acre of dirt and the creek was diverted to the end of our private street.. and that is now where the main creek flows.
So about 200 ft or so away , is where it used to "Y" but now the water just flows all one way instead of coming right by our house as it used to. There was a lot of minor ( and one major) flooding here yrs ago, which is from what I understand why this was done.

On May 18th, my husband Robb drove over this little bridge and dried up creek bed to make sure it was water free ( it was). The Creek has come over that .5 acre of land in the passed, and filled up that creek bed a bit. It once slowly filled it up until it was level with this bridge ( mind you this bridge is our ONLY way out) but that was the worst we had ever seen it.

Robb came in and sat down for supper. We talked about the rain ( it was pouring again ) the normal spots along our 12 mile gravel commute , that had flooded over ( there are spots that commonly flood over and are impassable, it was not unheard of at all)
We talked about the bees, the honey flow, cursed the rain and ate our dinner.
Halfway through our meal I looked outside and saw some saplings swaying in the dried up creek bed. I mentioned this to my husbands, whom disregarded it as just the wind.. Well there was no wind, which is why it caught my eye.
About 30 seconds after that I looked out our front window towards the bridge, and my timing was impeccable. That very second water was coming over the bridge and towards our home.
It was surreal, thats the only word to describe it.. ok and terrifying. haha.
after almost 2 feet of rain in some part of Western NC, our creek rose to 13 ft above flood level, and Broke its banks................
I am not gonna lie, I wish I could say I held my composure and did everything in an orderly manor, but that is not the case.. I was kinda freaking out.
I told Norah to put anything on the bed that she thought was of extreme importance.. I looked back a minute later and she has her entire room on her bed. It was the sweetest and most hearbreaking thing ever.
At this point we were not sure what to do. I have never dealt with flooding, Flash Flooding at that.. and was very scared. We just were not sure how fast the water would raise, if it would follow a second flash flood etc.  So we got a ladder out and headed for our roof.
and it rained
And rained.....


Buckets. I am talking a complete downpour for 3 hours..
Everytime I said " Please God, make it stop raining" It rained harder...

We sat on the roof and watched our property flood. We watched my gardens ( still in the baby stages) get swallowed up by Wilson creek. we watched it come to the bottoms of the Chicken coop door ( which is almost 3 ft high) and we watched it come to the bottoms of about 25 of our Hives...
At that point all I wanted was for the bees to make it.
Chairs can be replaced.toys can be replaced.. Established Hives are a little harder to replace. and the blood sweat and tears that goes into caring for an established hives is irreplaceable..

We watched all of our outdoor equipment go under water ( lawnmovers, weedeaters, 2 generators, wood splitter, )
We watched everything my husband collected ( he calls is useful , I call it garbage) float our from under our shed.
We watched Trees float through our yard, snakes, unidentifiable items ( hard to see when its raining sheets),
The worst part of was watching the water come up to the bottoms of our Bee Hive enterances, The water even picked up a stand of 3 bees and turned it around, The stand was floating,and we are just staring at it, waiting for it too float away, it never did,, I do believe some prayers were answered on that roof, as I asked God to please spare the bees...................as soon as the water came to the bottoms of the enterances the water stopped rising....

I have never felt so helpless in my life. So much hard work at the mercy of Mother Nature..
The more we prayed , the harder in rained...
and just when we thought it could not get worse ( about an hour in) the creek filled its bank at on the other side ( if you picture 10 o clock and 2 o clock it was flooding from 10 o clock and was now coming at us from 2 o clock) and the creek was coming toward our house from that direction..
I would like to say we were shocked, but at that point we just watched it happen with little remark, and the occasional " please make this stop" comment...

At some point,, ( I believe about 45 minutes into us going on the roof) Robb called 911.... She explained that they could not get to us.
Remember it is 12 miles of gravel to get to us, on a road that follows either Wilson Creek, Johns river, in the middle of a National Forest
Roads were completely gone, flooded over, trees were down. It was an absolute mess.
She mentioned them getting us by helicopter if they had to...

Robb brought some ladders and tarps unto the roof and made us a little shelter to keep us dry, along with some blankets
With the constant downpour the warmth lasted only a short time and we were starting to get wet again.
It was probably about 65-70? but it is amazing how cold you can get when you are wet! My poor little Norah ( 11 yrs old ) was shivering like crazy.....

3 hours later,, they arrived... The water had receded a bit by then,, maybe a foot or so??
The water that was in our home at one point ( it only came into the home about 2 ft,, not high, but about 2 ft in..  thanks goodness!) They found a Forest Service rd that was passeable.
It was mandatory evacuation, so we packed a few bags quickly walked through the lake that was our yard, got in a truck, and headed out.
Trees were down and Gravel rds were giving was as we drove over them, it was awful.
At one point I took Norah out of the truck and crossed our by foot. I realize they were rescuing us, but I needed to do that on my own. as we drove over more road gave way and the truck behind us could not make it over..............................
an hour  later we arrived at Collettsville School ( my daughters School)
where they had a Red Cross Station set up.. Then we were evactuated from there, because that was flooding... True Story....

Long story short. A teacher and amazing Human Being, heard about the flooding and asked someone they knew if we were at the Red Cross shelter, she offered to take us anywhere we wanted to go. We ended up at an Inn around 1130 pm that night...

This story could get really long.. The first week was a whirlwind. So much support and help and so much to be grateful for. Our flood insurance did not cover anything outside or inside...
But the amount of financial support we received Blew us away..

From May 18th until Now as really just been piling more stuff to do on top of our already ridiculous schedule
We had lots of clean up...lots, and some things still need done but in all we are back to normal
Its amazing how resilient plant life can be! My flower bed that was completely underwater, thrived and grew, and our gardens are doing awesome,
We have 2 more garden and another beeyard on another peice of property that did NOT flood, thank goodness!!

It really could have all been much worse.. I am so grateful for the people who were her for us during all of it. You know who you are...... THank you for your unconditional love , without judgement, and just helping us in any way you saw fit.. whether it be a can of soup, letting us borrow your truck and phone ( YES we had some friends loan us these things!) , paying for our hotel, helping come clean up, or some cash to help us get some new things.... I think that is one silver lining in all this.. realizing who the good people in your life are..

Much love!
Onward and forward
Homesteading photos to follow,, atleast positive ones!!

THe Cool Family



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Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas

The Eve of Christmas was spent making homemade Pierogies for dinner ( and dog treats for our furry family member). We had a lovely meal of our pasture raised Pork, Homegrown home fermented Sauerkraut and homemade Pierogies.
Christmas took place outside for a good portion of the day. Hot Cider and Butternut squash and sausage soup warmed on the fire filled our bellies.
Our hearts are full <3 br="">Merry Christmas from our Homestead , to you and yours 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Don't Grow up... yet

Please, don't grow up,, Miss Norah Jane,, I see it, It morphs from from day to day, a shape shifter of child, young lady and (gulp) a short glimpse into preteen at times...Sometimes I see the grown up Norah more than I am ready for, but then the Little Norah sneaks back and takes precedence, and I exhale.  because I get: ONE more day of little Norah Jane....
Almost 11 yrs old ( well not until May 1) and still attached to stuffed animals and pretend play, decking out your Tree house landscape, catching critters around the homestead,  and just hanging out with the chickens.  An imagination  that is 10 fold what mine was at this age.
Growing up Alone, in the forest, with no siblings is an attribute to such an imagination  You have a naive nature that I hope you carry with you a bit longer, because kids grow up too fast.
I hope I can remember the 10 year old Norah 30 yrs from now.. I take pictures, I blog, but I hope whats in my heart is how I remember you  best...

Friday, November 10, 2017

Autumn at the Homestead

Greetings! And Welcome November ! 
We have really just been buttoning things up around here, gettting ready for winter.
With bee season finally at a standstill  ( with the exception of autumn feeding) we have been able to play catch up

In the past few months we have been...................................

 Splitting firewood, our only source of heat

 Bottling Muscadine Wine

 Preserving the Bounty

 Wild Foraging and making Medicine

 Eating Comfort Food

Adding these 2 to the farm,, Pickles and Pancakes

Processing the last batch of Chickens

Enjoying Garden Bounty In November 

 Enjoying the last few weekends at Coffeys General Store before we close for the Winter

reveling in the autumn beauty that is my commute.....


The Cool Family