Last Month On The Homestead: May 2024

butterfly on phlox

butterfly on phlox

chive flowers in garden


May came in a bit chilly, which is typical of the month, but quickly warmed up to summer-like temps.  We had a little of everything - rain, sunny days with higher humidity, sunny days with lower humidity, warmer nights, cooler nights, and breezy days.  The only thing we didn't really get was typical May days of cooler temps.  

Winter clothes got packed away quickly by the middle of the month, flip flops were pulled out, and the flannel sheets were stripped and replaced with cool cotton ones.  My husband's boat was cleaned up and prepped for fishing, the pellet stove was officially turned off for the season, we switched from drinking hot coffee to iced coffee (do you do this?), pollen pretty much coats every outdoor surface, and the outdoor clothesline was adorned with clothing and sheets every week.  

We were happy to welcome May!!

green bean seedling

tomato plant with flowers

The Garden
I wasn't sure if things would change on a dime, so I resisted putting the nightshades into the garden until the second to the last week of the month.  Turns out I probably could have planted them earlier, but I'd rather be safe than lose them all.

The garden is fully planted.  Seedlings are all in and I've direct sowed all of the seeds that I planned to start with.  I'll be planting more throughout summer for succession crops and more greens will be planted toward the end of summer that do better in cooler fall temps.  Oddly, the only seeds I've struggled with germination so far was kale.  I've always had kale germinate and grow like weeds but this year, it's been more difficult.  Gardening is always an adventure!

All of the plants are up and seem to be doing well.  The weeds are thriving as well, of course.  About half of the garden needs to be weeded but that won't be happening this week.  Maybe next week.  Maybe the week after.  I've learned to not stress about it.

Our fall planted garlic is getting close to harvest time.  It appears that it all made it through winter, which is always exciting, leaving us with 98 heads.  Enough for a year if I make garlic-heavy sauces (like Toom) or a year and a half if I don't.   Regardless, I'll plant more this coming fall.

baby bunny

baby bunny

The Wildlife
In addition to gardening, May was all about the wildlife.  Bunnies!  Snakes!  Robins!  

Let's start with the snakes and get that out of the way.  I will preface this with saying I know many snakes are beneficial.  The problem, of course, is that I don't like them.  At all.  I can't have them slithering around while I'm working in the garden and, therefore, we are in operation relocate-the-snakes mode.  They have made a lovely home in my compost bins.  This has happened before.  It's dark, warm and they can be right in the middle of the action as they are located in my garden where I'm sure rodents and other things visit.  Once the compost has broken down, the bins will be relocated.

Originally, I had only seen one rather large charcoal colored snake.  It's not only long, but it seems too large of a girth for a garter snake.  Although I'm certainly no snake expert.  I was describing it to my husband, and he laughed thinking that I was exaggerating.  Then he had the pleasure of seeing it.  "That's a pretty big snake" he remarked.  Um...yes.  Yes, it is.  I named him/her Monty, and we continue to try and catch it for relocation purposes.  

I've made many announcements while in the garden that it is just not welcome on our property and there will be NO birthing of little snakes while here.  My husband, as he was working on my garden fence last week, found yet another snake coming from the compost bins, and this one had some orange on it.  I have no idea what it was.  Thankfully he caught it, and it has been relocated into the woods nowhere around our property.  Good riddance and I sincerely wish it the best of luck.

On to a more pleasant subject.  The wild bunnies have been numerous, and we have loved watching them.  We have tiny ones (as in one would fit in the palm of your hand), larger kits, and adults.  We've left spaces around our property untouched so they can have longer grass/weeds to hide in.  We're trying to allow them places to feel safe and it seems to be working, as we've seen them hanging out eating, laying in the shaded spots, and chasing each other.  Just this morning, as I headed out to the coop to check on the girls, two littles were chasing each other all around the yard outside of the coop.  It was so cute to watch.  They were a little bigger than the smallest we've seen - they could probably each fit into your hands if you cupped both together.  Yes, they can fit through my garden fence, so this means that they may eat down my garden.  I'm trying to protect the plants they like.  Of course, I'm hoping this all works but only time will tell. 

backyard bird robin

The robins are always plentiful, and this year has been no different.  It's so delightful to watch.  I'm so grateful for living intentionally slower where we can take the time to observe and appreciate all that nature has to offer.  We've watched the mom and dad pairs frantically feeding the babies in their nests and then, later, hopping around the yard with their young, feeding them and showing them how to seek out food.  

New Hampshire chicken

backyard chicken easter eggs with egg customer card

The Coop Girls
The chickens are doing well.  Unfortunately, we did lose one girl in May.  I'm positive she had sour crop, which I treated her for a few times, but I suspect something else was wrong and I have no idea what.  One day she was chest butting the others and causing quite a commotion, as she had a tendency to do, then she was quiet and didn't look good.  I took her aside and, after giving her a once-over, realized she had sour crop.  I treated her and she looked great for a day.  Then back to sour crop symptoms.  I continued to treat her, but she continued to decline.  On the fourth night she passed sometime in the middle of the night.  Gosh, it's never easy and we try to do everything we can for them.  We believe she was either 8 or 9 years so her passing may have also been age related.

white and pink phlox

outdoor clothesline homemade basket stand

purple iris

The Yard Chores, Home Projects, and Intentional Spending Year
I spent a good amount of time in May weeding flower beds and spreading mulch.  This was done a bit later than anticipated mainly because we weren't sure if we were going to invest in mulch this year or not.  We are spending the next two years as "intentional spending" years to build our savings back up after the previous 3 years have depleted it.  

Our beloved frenchie Oliver, who we lost last September, had a LOT of medical expenses the last 3 years of his life.  We had insurance for him (thankfully) but hadn't learned about it until after he'd had 2 surgeries and 3 diagnoses.  This means his pre-existing conditions (one being his ongoing spinal issues) were not covered.  I've mentioned before, but his monthly expenses were more than our household monthly expenses (not including the mortgage).  Because we work for ourselves and are intentionally keeping our business small, it took a financial toll.  Please understand that this is not a complaint - we made the decision to do everything we could for him and wouldn't change a thing.  It's just our current reality.  

So, because flower bed mulch isn't a necessity, initially I didn't want to spend the money this year.  It's been about 4 years, however, since we've invested in mulch, so we discussed it and decided to do half of our flower beds.  Aesthetically it makes me very happy and perks up the homestead, so I think it was money (and effort) well spent.  Hopefully we'll be able to do the other half next year.

I had hoped to add quite a few plants this year but that will be put on hold for another year or so.

My husband FINALLY built me a new clothes basket stand.  I put in my request for this last year, and it appeared in front of me this month.  He used all repurposed items he's saved and voila - a new-to-me stand.  He is also painting one side of our house every year, so he chose to start with the back of the house this month.  

maine coon farmcat
it will not be a surprise to tell you that Jackson is NOT very helpful in making the bed.  He enjoys supervising though
Could we have an update and NOT include Mr. Jackson?  Um, no.  That would not be possible.  He's doing well!  He gets weighed monthly to ensure he is keeping his weight on as he ages, and he still acts a good 6 years or so younger than he is.  His immaturity is refreshing and funny.  

I'm growing catnip for him and it truly makes him crazy.  He LOVES it and rolls and sniffs and scratches at anything in sight.  Then he suddenly takes off running, without any sense of direction or intention.  Next, he returns to the catnip and the whole ordeal happens again.

I try to bring in his weekly catnip allotment at lunchtime to give us something to laugh at while we take our lunch break.  It's our own reality show!

homemade sourdough sandwich bread

The Kitchen
The food we put up last year was almost completely used up in May.  The only thing we have left is 4 containers of apple pie filling (we used our Asian pears from our massive harvest this past fall).  Lots of space to hopefully be able to fill up this summer and fall!

Usually by the end of May I put my sourdough starter in the freezer for the summer.  I try not to use the oven much to avoid heating up the house.  I haven't put it in the freezer yet though.  I'll continue to make bread every week or two until it becomes unbearable to do so.  I've mostly been making jalapeno bread (both sourdough and no-knead versions) and honey wheat bread.  The honey wheat I make both as an artisan loaf and a sandwich loaf, depending on what we feel like having that week.  It's a recipe by Sarah at Rocky Hedge Farm found here.

Here's what I like about this recipe.  First, she offers a timeline of what needs to be done and when.  I think that could be very helpful if you're new to sourdough.  Second, it's the perfect hydration, in my opinion, because it's moist, springy (instead of dry as some are), and easy to work with.  Third, it makes GREAT sandwich bread.  Although the recipe is written as an artisan loaf baked in a dutch oven, I simply put my dough into a standard bread pan lined with parchment for the final rise.  I bake it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 35-40 minutes.  You know how some homemade breads just don't make good sandwich bread because they are too stiff?  This makes really nice sandwich bread because it's springy and moist.  I used the white flour the recipe calls for once and it was a super fluffy bread.  It's great if you like white flour, however, I'm not a white flour fan so ever since I've been making it with either whole wheat, spelt, or a mixture of either of those and a bit of bread flour and it works so well!

All meals except 2 were made at home.  In our area there are 2 BBQ restaurants that offer their meals to non-profits at cost so they can raise money for their company.   The restaurants have staff cook the food on site, so it's freshly made and hot when you pick it up.  It's really a great idea.  My husband loves both restaurant's meals, so we were able to order 2 in May.  It's affordable ($20.00 or less for a full meal) and a nice treat for him.  We are near the Saratoga County Fairgrounds, and they offer a take-out meal once a month as well. 

The outdoor grill made its appearance and will be used pretty much non-stop until late fall.  My husband is a fan of anything grilled and I enjoy making our homemade pizzas and fresh veggie skewers on it.  

The Ninja Creami came out of storage and has already been put into use.  Do you have one of these small appliances?  We LOVE ours.  LOVE it I tell you.  This and the air fryer have hands down been the best small appliance purchases we've made ever.  I bought it a few years ago and it's been used regularly ever since.

The Creami is an ice cream maker.  But not just any ice cream maker.  Are you familiar with the traditional ice cream makers?  I don't remember exactly how it goes but I know you have to freeze the container before you start then freeze and turn the ice cream and blah blah blah.  Not the Creami.  It is soooooo simple.  I make both dairy and non-dairy versions.  I was really excited about the non-dairy because have you seen the ridiculous prices on this in the stores?  It's insane.  Not to mention how much fat (usually made with coconut milk) and sugar they contain.  And high fructose corn syrup if you like Ben & Jerrys.  But the alternative, homemade "nice cream" isn't always a crowd favorite.  First, it always has added bananas or avocados in order to make it creamy.  And second, the consistency is good but not great.  I literally take a fruit smoothie that I whip up in my blender and pour it into the Creami freezer container.  The only thing I do different is I add a couple of dates to make it sweeter because it will now be ice cream.  I keep these containers in the freezer, full of the "ice cream" base, so that they can be made whenever we want.  After 24 hours in the freezer, it's ready and you mix it up.  It's creamy, smooth and delicious.  Just like ice cream.  Even my husband loves the non-dairy version (although I always have 2-4 pints of dairy ice cream base in the freezer for him too).

Ta da!  Ice cream whenever you want it.

handmade soap Cobble Hill Farm Soap

The Soap Business
We've officially entered our first busy season of the year for our soap business.  Not only do we have local purchases and online orders, but we also add tourist purchases to the mix.  Thankfully, our summer farmers market is very popular for tourists and locals, so the traffic picks up significantly from the end of May until the end of September.  Our market has over 60 vendors including a LOT of prepared food vendors and music, so it's a great time that people come back for again and again.  

We spent May making products for backstock.  This means a lot of packaging in addition to making the product.  It's nice to be able to do all of this from home so that I can toggle between work and gardening or work and cooking, as needed.  

homestead living

The Email Newsletter
Some of you have emailed me asking for more information about the email newsletter.  Should you subscribe, not subscribe?  I thought I would add a little explanation of what it is in case anyone else is wondering. 

The newsletter has changed since I started it back up again and I'm pleased with it so I hope those of you who receive it are too.  It is now sent weekly on Friday if there are any new posts that week.  It includes an outline of what's going on that week on our homestead (words & pictures), a link to that week's new posts, and a link to a couple of previous posts that may be of interest.

This is strictly a blog newsletter with the purpose of giving you links to the new posts and updates regarding our homestead.  There isn't anything about the soap company as the soap business has its own newsletter.  As you know from following the blog, I don't push our products here, and I also don't use the blog newsletter for that purpose.  If you choose to subscribe, your email address is for the newsletter only, not shared with anyone, and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.  

I hope this helps!

Whew!  That was a long one!  And that's May on the homestead!  How was your May?  Did you plant any fruit or vegetables?  Have you switched to summer clothes and meals?  Are you drinking iced coffee (or coffee substitute as I do) or tea?  Do you have a Ninja Creami?  Inquiring minds would love to know!


  1. What a great idea to have a laundry basket stand! Something I've never considered, but would surely be helpful as this body eases into late 60's and beyond. The Ninja Creami is new to me, and it sounds a lot more convenient than the old-fashioned kinds, like we have. We've been talking about making some plant based versions this summer.

    Those allium blooms are such a lovely color. I'm sorry about the loss of your hen. I expect she was living her best life those 8 or 9 years. I'm dealing with some health challenges with McNibs right now, and you're so right, the bills add up quickly. Best of luck in catching and relocating Monty!

    1. Yes, a laundry stand is a wonderful thing!!

      If you ever decide to consider a creami, watch Kathy Hester's Ninja Creami FAQ or 101 videos on youtube. She does such a nice job demonstrating it and showing any potential issues as well as how to resolve them. Plus, she has a nice assortment of plant based recipes for it!

      I'm sorry about McNibs. Hugs to you as you love and care for him.

      That Monty....he's a sneaky snake! 😉

  2. I tend to enjoy watermelon lemonade during the summer, as well as coconut water. They seem to keep me more hydrated than plain water. Also, adding just a smidge of salt to my water bottle helps.
    The garden sounds like it is fully stocked! I guess you don't concern yourself with bunny damage?

    We are still enjoying cool mornings, thankfully. I love living with four seasons, although I wouldn't complain about having a bit more snow in the wintertime. Most days find me in shorts and light, long-sleeved tops that wick away sweat.

    We recently acquired an ice cream maker, something that had been on my wish list for a while. I love being able to make nondairy ice cream any time I want. It's a great way for me to add some calcium and fruit to my diet. If everything were that easy!

    I'm sorry to hear that you lost one of your girls. Our Betty had sour crop for a couple of weeks, but she seems to be better now. I simply kept the ACV and garlic cranked up in her water and made sure to keep her crop as empty as I could get it. Thankfully, she seems to be improving daily.

    May your month be filled with fresh food, ample energy and blessings galore!

    1. Daisy - I LOVE watermelon, strawberries, or cucumber in ice water during the hot summer months.

      Yes to the bunny damage. We've already had plenty. I'm trying to keep the stuff they like up and away from them and/or covered until it gets larger.

      It sounds like a similar protocol I followed with our chicken. Happy Betty the chicken seems to be doing well after her bout.

      Thanks for the good wishes - wishing you the same too!!!

  3. Good to hear about everything that has been happening...gosh I hate snakes too, so scary. I found out about the ice cream machine about 6 months ago and it's all the rage. I'm trying to talk myself out of getting another appliance. I used to have the ice cream machine where you put it in the freezer overnight but the bowl is huge and we didn't use it that much so I sold it. If I make ice cream I make "the kiwi country girl no churn ice cream" which takes 10 minutes. Have a great week. Kathy A, Brisbane

    1. I hear you on the avoiding buying more small appliances Kathy. I had that ice cream maker that you describe too! We always had the same problem - moving things around in the freezer to make room for the bowl. Wishing you a wonderful week as well!


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