Family, Motherhood, The Homestead Weekly

The Homestead Weekly, 25 February 2024

Years ago, when I first started my other blog (which is now exclusively about flower farming), I used to run a series every Sunday called The Homestead Weekly. It was basically just a weekly round-up of everything we were doing around our home, and it actually was probably my favorite blog series of all time. Now I highly doubt that these will happen weekly, especially once our flower farming season really gets underway, but I still thought it would be fun to start the series up again.

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I feel like a word that kind of summed up this last week was MOMENTUM — now that we’re getting so close to the opening of our flower farming season, all the preparation and work we’ve put in up to this point is really starting to pay off, and I was surprised again and again this week at how many opportunities keep coming our way. We can’t say yes to all of them at this point, but it’s still an exciting time for us as we head into this first season of seeing if we can really make this whole flower-farming-full-time thing work out.

There also is a sense of momentum and forward motion simply because we’re starting to get nicer and nicer days lately, which allow us to make visible progress towards our growing goals for this year. This is a far cry from how I felt even two months ago, when there were many, many days where I wondered if we were truly out of our minds for thinking to go full-time with this.

Never a dull moment over here, at any rate!

Here’s how things have looked around here over the past week.

In the Kitchen

I know I need to get back on the meal planning train, but I’ve really struggled to get back into the habit. I have at least been better about actually preparing a solid, somewhat nutritionally balanced dinner the majority of the time (there was a time awhile back when we were regularly just throwing together whatever was quickest more nights than not). I know it will get even trickier in about a month when our flower farming season officially opens, so I ideally need to figure out a system that works for me sooner than later.

Years ago, I used to plan out our meals for the month by simply opening up a Word document and listing out 22-25 dinners that were all based on things we already had on hand or would have on hand. It was extremely effective on the months when I took the time to do it, especially since I’m definitely a bit of a mood cook, so this system allowed me to pick and choose what felt most palatable on any given night. I’m kind of leaning towards trying that system again for March, so we’ll see if I can make myself follow through on that this next weekend, when we start the new month.

On the Menu This Week: cheeseburger soup + homemade GF rolls, grilled cheese sandwiches, Instant Pot sausage + rice, steak and homemade french fries, chicken gravy over GF biscuits, Hawaiian haystacks, mini meatloaves + creamed potatoes/peas

In the Garden

We had temps in the mid-50’s on Monday, so Matt took advantage of the ground being workable enough to till up one of the large new in-ground beds we’re doing this year. I hadn’t planned on needing the bed for several more weeks, but since switching to a different (read: way better) potting soil, our seedlings have exploded this season, growing MUCH faster than they ever did in the past. While this is wonderful in that it means we currently have the biggest, healthiest transplants we’ve ever had for the farm, it also means that everything wanted to get transplanted out YESTERDAY, and we’re still not in an ideal planting window yet, even for hardy annuals.

So after going back and forth about which is worse — letting stuff get stressed and root-bound or taking our chances, we’re deciding to take our chances, and we’re going to plant out everything under a double layer of frost cloth next week and hope for the best. (And, just in case, I’ll start a second round of some of the more critical plants we’re putting out this week so that we have backups).

The kids also direct sowed a bunch of hardy annuals in their own little personal flower gardens this week, which mostly consisted of various types of poppies, calendula, and bachelor’s buttons. They’ve been begging us for their own garden space for a couple years now, and we finally carved out a space in the backyard this last fall so that that could happen. We still need to do a ton of work in that area right now because it’s a little bit chaotic and haphazard, but it’s at least a bit of ground that they can treat as their very own.

Blooming This Week: the very first flower of 2024 bloomed this week — the first anemone in the high tunnel!! We also have some seedlings that are technically blooming in their trays, including the really fun violas pictured here.

In the Business

I decided to include a separate little section about how the business of flower farming is going, largely because I want a record for myself, and also because some people might be curious as to how the transition from a very part-time side hustle flower farm to a full-time venture looks like in real life.

What’s been most surprising to me so far this year has been the momentum we’ve been gaining since making the announcement last October that we were transitioning to full time. I’m sure part of that momentum is definitely because we’re simply spending more time on the business in general, but there’s definitely power behind making a firm decision towards one course of action and running with all your energy towards it. This week, I think I spoke to around 6 brides who were all looking to possibly source buckets of DIY wedding flowers from us, pre-sold some of our super sacks of mushroom compost (which will be available at the beginning of March), and got a query from a large wholesaler in the city wondering if they could start sourcing some flowers from us.

It’s all extremely exciting, but it’s definitely not without moments of intense worry and wondering if we’re outright crazy. We still don’t actually have flowers to sell yet this year (and won’t for another couple of weeks), so a lot of what’s going on right now is just our best guess as to what we WILL have available at any given point, although there’s never any guarantee. I always try to over-PLAN and over-PLANT to try and take care of as many contingencies as possible, but when we’re taking on so many new ventures all at once, I’m pretty nervous that it’s only a matter of time before I make a mistake somewhere.

Time will tell, I guess.

In general though, I’m in a much better place mentally about the farm than I was a couple of months ago, when I was sure we were crazy and when I was majorly stressing out about when we were going to be able to finally find someone willing to sell us farmland at the right price that we’re looking for. We’re still not really any closer to that than before, but I’ve now more or less gracefully accepted that it’s okay if it doesn’t happen this year, and that we’ll just keep putting our best efforts towards that and trusting that something will eventually work out for the best.

In the Playroom

On Monday, the kids had the day off of school thanks to the Presidents Day holiday. I was working on some administrative stuff in the morning, and my son came in and handed me an invitation to a surprise party that they were all planning in the front room for after lunch. Matt and I took a break from working and tending the baby to attend, and I’ve gotta say, I was pretty impressed with their ingenuity and party-planning abilities!

They had planned four games–pin the tail on the Pikachu, the “bin picker” game (where the person holding the small bin called out the name of something in the bin and you had to try to pick out the correct thing with your eyes closed), a unicorn-decorating arts and crafts activity, and a pillow fight. It was genuinely a delightful little break in the middle of our day, and it made me eagerly look forward to the slower paced days of summer (well, slower for the kids, anyway–summers for Matt and I are kind of insane!).

Raven and Mathias (who are in third grade and kindergarten) also had received a no-screen-time challenge from their school for the week, which we followed through on. It honestly wasn’t that hard for us because our kids have very limited screen time as it is, but it was still a nice little nudge of encouragement for us to play more card and board games together as a family or to do other things that didn’t involve t.v. The biggest thing for us is that we often use the promise of watching a single episode of some show as the “carrot” we dangle in front of our kids to motivate them to help clean up the house, so our house was definitely a little untidier this week as a result, ha ha — looks like we need to work on that.

In the Home

Between the holiday on Monday and us going out of town all of Friday for a family party (where we celebrated Chinese New Year with my side, which was totally awesome) and the whole no-screen-time-as-a-reward thing, the house was in the worst state it’s been in for months. Because of how drastically we really tried to minimize stuff last year, it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been, but the week definitely showed us that we could definitely get rid of quite a few more things in order to reach the true level of minimalism we’re eventually hoping to get at.

In my ideal world, we’d minimize to the point that if all of us were working together on any room in the house, we’d be able to get it completely tidied up in five minutes. Now, we’re mostly there on some rooms in the house (like our front room and our t.v. room), but we’re definitely NOT there in others. Ah, well — I always like having a project to work on, anyway 🙂


In the Soul

All in all, this was a really, really good week. I felt like my social cup was filled up to the brim between more quality time together with just our family, the fun Chinese New Year party with my side, a massage therapy session for me with the guy who’s been working on my back for years (and who I’m currently doing some marketing for), and all of our family being able to go to church together for the first time in a long time since Matt was asked to speak today in the meeting and we needed the other one of us to sit with the rest of the kids. Naomi’s doctors have advised us to keep her out of public settings as much as possible for the entirety of the flu and RSV season, so Matt and I have been taking turns staying home from church with her each week since the beginning of October. It’s a sacrifice we’re all too willing to make if it helps us to keep her safe from serious illness this winter, especially as we’re still trying to protect her heart and lungs, but we definitely prefer to do church as a whole family (obviously).

With how challenging the past couple years have been for us in various ways, one positive thing that’s definitely come about from them is that I’ve learned to deeply appreciate when things are going well, since I know it won’t last forever (just as in the same vein, I’ve learned that hard times won’t last forever, either). Now that we’re out of the darkest days of winter and looking ahead to spring, I’m feeling all the hope and new life and motivation that comes along with that, which is one of my favorite mental states to be in.

Feeling a lot of gratitude today for it.

I’d love to know how your week went, and I hope you enjoy the new series! Like I said, I doubt I’ll be able to do these every week, but even if I can get one out a month, I’d be happy with that!

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