Late May On The Homestead: Gardening, Homeschooling, and Bartering

Rain, rain, and more rain!

We’ve been getting so much wet weather this spring. It feels like it’s been raining for a month straight. We’ve enjoyed a few peaceful evenings sitting on the back covered porch, watching the rain gushing down the rain chain and listening to the thunder rolling in the distance.

Every so often a glorious blue sky will break through the clouds for a short time, but the grey creeps back before we can make any progress working outdoors.

I haven’t been able to hang my laundry out to dry for weeks. We have an indoor clothes rack that I hang wet laundry on, and an expandable line over the bath tub. But the humidity in the air keeps the clothes damp longer than normal.

These are the days when an electric clothes dryer sure would come in handy. Laundry piles up quickly when there are six people in the house, especially as much as we like being outdoors (and getting dirty!).

Weeds, pests, and disease in the garden.

All of this rain has been great for the garden, but of course the weeds love it as well. I’ve been trying to go outside and weed the garden beds between showers as much as possible.

As you can see, I’m currently losing that battle.

I need to mulch many of the raised beds to keep the weeds down, but I can’t stand the thought of buying bales of straw to do so. It just wouldn’t make sense financially at $6.50/small bale.

I think I’ll start collecting leaves from the woods and chopping down tall, leafy plants like comfrey and dock to use as mulch.

Sadly, our fruit trees aren’t doing well. The one pear tree that had little pears growing all over it has developed fire blight. The leaves, branches, and fruit have been gradually shriveling up and turning black as the disease spreads.

Doesn’t it look terrible?! I feel like yanking all of our fruit trees out and giving up.

Just look at our pitiful pears. I’m SO SAD about this!!

After four years of waiting, the tree had finally produced its first fruits. And now they’re all ruined. UGH.
I should have researched blight resistant varieties better.

At this point I don’t even think the tree is salvageable.

I’ve been watching red Cardinals from my kitchen window flying into our Montmorency cherry tree and eating all of the fruit. I enjoy watching the birds, but it stinks to see them taking off with your long-awaited food! Looks like we won’t get any cherries this year. Surprisingly, we’ve never really had a problem with the birds eating our fruit before. I might need to get some bird netting to throw over the tree next year.

 

Alongside the birds have been the squash bugs and Mexican bean beetles. Every day, sometimes twice a day, I go outside and examine all of our plants for insect pests. The cabbage moths are also flitting around everywhere, and already I’m seeing some worm damage on our cabbage. I really think we need to cover our cabbages with row cloth next time we plant.

Homeschooling into Summer.

We’ve been doing End of Grade Testing this week. Jada is finishing up 8th grade, Titus- 5th, Xia- 3rd, and Elias- 1st. Testing is required in our state, but it’s also helpful to me as it shows where we need work still in their schooling. I’ve been using the results to put together some workbooks for the children to go through this summer to catch up on stuff we haven’t learned or become proficient in yet.

It would be nice to take a break for the summer, but we’ve chosen to school year-round. This way the kids don’t forget what they’ve been learning and we don’t fall out of the habit of doing our lessons. We also go more slowly throughout the year with a four day school week, so we need to continue through the summer in order to fulfill the required 180 days of school.

That’s one of the great things about homeschooling. You’re free to do what works best for you.

Bartering

There’s a huge pine tree growing in our woods with an extreme slant toward our yard. It looks like it could come crashing down on our garden fence any day now. My husband knows a guy who does tree work, so we had him come out and give us a quote on taking it down. We need an expert who can fell the tree so that it doesn’t fall on our clothesline or the fence.

We finally got enough of a break in the rain that he could come out and take a look. After a thorough examination, he quoted us $150 to drop it if we’d do the cleaning up part ourselves. A very reasonable price.

My husband does printing on the side (t-shirts, banners, signs, etc), so he asked if they might be able to barter. Turns out, the guy was in need of some signs. They were able to work out a trade, which ended up being better for both of them than dealing in cash.

We would pay him with six printed yard signs in exchange for his labor. The signs cost us about $58. If our tree guy had purchased them elsewhere, he would have paid $200-$225 out of pocket. By trading with us he saved $50-$75 out of pocket on the signs, and we saved about $90 on felling the tree.

We’ve been able to use Jerry’s printing business quite a bit for bartering, which has definitely come in handy. If you have a skill or a service, consider offering a barter option with your customers! You might both end up better off at the end.

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. Allison Morton June 10, 2018
    • Kendra Lynne June 13, 2018

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