I'm SO excited about my latest news!!  I am going to start helping out at the farm where we get our CSA deliveries from!! Have you ever met anyone so excited to pick weeds!?  I'm sure I'll be doing more than that but even picking weeds will be an awesome learning experience.  I'll get to learn how a real working small farm operates!  Reading books like I've been doing is a great source of information but nothing beats hands on training!

The farm extends all the way to the tree line you see in the far distance of this photo... that is where all the veggies that we'll be getting for the rest of the summer are growing and I can't believe I am going to be a part of helping them grow!

My husband has the week off this week and my mother is visiting us for a while... so yesterday our little family decided to drive out to the country and check out a town that we have researched and has really peaked our interest.  When we arrived we drove down Main St. and found it to be thriving with restaurants, tiny shops and small businesses.  We stopped and walked into a coffee shop where, although we were in a rural town, were able to get latte's and cappuccinos!  To top it off... while we were in the coffee shop we met the Chamber of Commerce Executive who gave us her card and told us a little more about the town and told us to contact her with any questions.  I think we MAY have found our future hometown!
I'm so excited... I was perusing through the Mountain Rose Herbs website and found a list of Herbal Education resources some of which offer online courses!  It looks like there is a wide range of options from paying $10 per course which you can hand pick to paying $400 for an entire 12 course lesson plan. 

I like the idea of taking things slow and being able to pick specific topics I want to learn about.  My main goal would be to be able to make salves for all the cuts and scrapes I'm sure my little man will get in his toddler years and tinctures we can all take when we're feeling under the weather.  I'll be looking into all the courses available online to see what best fits my needs and maybe start taking a $10 class here and there!  There's also something just so enchanting about going out into your yard and picking a few sprigs of herbs to make teas and herbal remedies for your family... I can't wait!

Other Magickal Happenings To Check Out!
Front Porch Dreams
Magick From the Farm
Made From Scratch

Excitement, fun and a little bit scary pretty much sums up our weekend... We experienced our first tornado siren and had to wake up our boy and go down to the basement.  It was only for a brief time and we definitely missed the brunt of the storm.  It's definitely something we have to get used to, having moved from the southwest where practically no natural disasters happen to the Midwest where tornadoes are common.  All our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who had to go through tornado devastation this past weekend. 

This morning was where the fun and excitement came in... we were so blessed to be able to go to our CSA's farm this morning where they held a brunch for all their members.  The food was delicious and we were able to show our son where his food comes from!  His favorite part of course were the chickens!  It just warmed our hearts and made us look forward even more to the time where will have our own little farm. 
We spent most of the morning there and when we got home our boy took a nice long nap after running around and having a blast at the farm... My husband and I spent some quality time together and had a nice peaceful lunch.  When the little one woke up we decided to run to the store for a few essentials...while there my husband asked "aren't we out of dish soap?"  We were... but I told him that weren't going to buy any because I should be able to make some homemade dish soap... and so I did!  Here's what you need...
1 cup liquid Castile soap, 1/4 cup warm water, 1 tsp vinegar, and about 10 drops of essential oil (I chose Tea Tree Oil)... And here's what you get!
It works great, smells great, and we saved money!  And speaking of homemade cleaning supplies... the laundry detergent that we made a few weekends ago is working great as well but it still needs some tweaking so as soon as I've perfected that one I'll post the recipe as well!
I've been thinking the past few days about how I should probably have a sort of checklist going for things I've learned and need to learn for when we obtain our homestead and mini farm.  Of course the art of homesteading is an ever learning process and I don't believe one can know ALL there is to know.  But I'm referring to the basics... There are certain skills that cannot be attained just by reading articles and books and need more of a hands on approach such as learning about raising chickens and alpacas, so although I will continue to read about raising farm animals, there will come a time when my family and I will seek out farms to volunteer at to get hands on experience.  For now though, I want to focus on things I can do right here in my rental home.

I came across a DVD collection named Homestead Blessings.  Each DVD teaches you about different skills necessary to have a sustainable homestead.  The DVD's I currently have on hold at my local library are; The Art of Bread Making, The Art of Canning, The Art of Gardening, The Art of Candle Making and The Art of Herbs.  I think these are great subjects for me to study and learn right now so I won't be completely clueless when our front porch dreams come true.  I also have to be as frugal as possible while learning these trades so canning, and candle making may be a bit postponed till I can find some great deals on necessary equipment. 

So the following is my Homesteading 101 checklist... listed in no particular order:
  • Bread making
  • Gardening/Herbs
  • Sewing
  • Canning
  • Candle making
  • Soap making 
  • Dairy (making yogurts, cheeses, and butters)
  • Spinning                                                                                                                                    (Sewing, Soap Making and Dairy are also DVD's included in the Homestead Blessings series.)
I want to mention that although I talk about learning these things so I can be prepared for when we buy our homestead and mini farm, I'm also choosing to learn these things now so that my family and I can begin benefiting from them now as well.  One doesn't need acres and farmland to acquire the above listed skills in order to be self sustainable.

~ Be Magical! 
Click on the picture above... it'll take you to acountryfarmhouse.blogspot.com, a great country blog!
In my "About Me" page I briefly mention our dream of wanting the perfect homestead... I thought I'd go into a bit more detail about what my husband and I are working towards and what we hope to have one day.  My dream, ever since I was a little girl, was to have a little bit of land with a beautiful country home and a wrap around porch.  Most people who knew me knew of my dream and in my senior yearbook my mother even wrote a dedication in the back which read... "Good luck finding that BCH of yours", which stood for Big Country Home.  Why she put it in secret code I'll never know.

When my husband and I got together we discovered we had the same dream and decided it would be something we would work towards together.  However we had grown up and lived in Arizona... and as a wonderful as a place the desert is and though we will always call it home, there aren't a whole lot of wrap around porches and green acres there.  So it was dream we kept in the back of our minds, but we had both come to terms with the fact that our dream would probably have to be a bit modified... but as long as we were together we were good with that.  However, only a few years later... Fate placed us in the heart of the country. 

We are now surrounded by green pastures, country homes, and of course wrap around porches... We haven't gotten our hands on one yet but we are still overcoming a few unavoidable obstacles and we have a very specific three to five year plan.  That may seem like a long time but one thing I do know... we will have been together six years this June and married for four years this October and those years went by in a blink of an eye.  So we see it as the PERFECT opportunity to learn all we need to learn and prepare for our little farm and homestead. 

We of course want to start small because I truly believe that is the secret to success.  We would like to raise some chickens to have our own eggs and of course grow our own vegetable garden... but after getting settled in, our biggest goal is to own Alpacas!  We've already begun researching how to raise them and we think we've even found an opportunity to volunteer at a nearby Alpaca farm!  As of now this is nothing we plan on making a profit on.  We just can't wait for the pure enjoyment of having a mini farm, two to five acres, consisting of a couple of Alpacas, which we will keep as pets and for their fibers, some chickens, a few dogs and cats, and our little family harvesting the seasons vegetables.  We also discovered quite a few organizations who rescue lost or abused farm animals... so with us being big time animal lovers, I wouldn't be surprised if we ended up adopting one or two additional farm animals here and there.

This is our dream... and every day we are inching closer to it.  We never take life for granted and we know anything could happen that would end up changing our path, but as of now there's nothing stopping us.  I hope to continue to take you on this journey with us and share all the obstacles we overcome and all the challenges we face in getting there.  For nothing can be appreciated unless it is the result of hard work.

~ Dream Big... and Be Magical!