Tuesday, January 19, 2016


Hi there folks!

I finally did it! I moved the blood to or OWN domain! You can find our continued journeys here!


All of my posts will remain here for a limited time until I get them all transferred over to the new platform. Thank you all for reading the last year its been one to remember! And I'm so glad I began to write this journey down, at one point I thought no one would even read my meager words. Thank you to everyone who has, you mean the world to us. 

Hope to see you all there..

Peace and Love

The Gardner Family

Monday, January 4, 2016

CLONING HOUSE PLANTS: getting my gardening fix in January!

You see folks, if I don't get enough dirt in my daily life, I go insane. Like seriously, I need that dirt under my nails to thrive, to be in my happy place, to be at peace. 

Yes I can be at peace sitting snacking snuggling on the couch with my girls all day, but after a month or so of winters indoor crafts and the same toddler show over.... and over again.... Mama gets a little stir crazy. 

We try to stay as unplugged as possible through the winter.... When the whole family is down with one bug after another all Decemeber, the TV time gets a tad out of hand. 
So, in an effort to boost my gardening spirits and reconnect with nature... somehow... I decided to clone some of my favorite house plants! Just for fun really, but you can never have enough house plants, never. And I wanted to get one started as a gift to a best friend as she settles into her new homestead! Which I will go into more detail about later...

So here I was with a dying Christmas cactus, an overwhelming spider plant, and my two favs creeping Charlie and Pothos! Wanna know why they're my favs?

Ok I'll tell you!

I love creeping Charlie, it's a sign of friendship and of recovery. At least it is for me. It reaches for the light, and when it gets thirsty it will tell you by the dullness of its leaves. It's honest, never hiding what's really going on. And really anything the vines and takes over is just my spirit animal... spirit plant.... spirit .... you get the point.. Which brings me to my next vining love plant. 

Pothos. I received my first Pothos as a house warming gift almost 5 years ago. And it's now over 6 feet in length, and I didn't kill it! Need I say more? That's why I love it so; hardy and humble. Pothos also referred to as the devil's vine, apparently since its near impossible to kill.

By the way, upon hearing that I seriously questioned my gardening skills, I literally thought up until 2 days ago I had some innate talent with that plant.... Nope, it will do that for anybody.... 

But! Nonetheless a reason to love it even more. I don't have to stress about my Pothos, ever. That is a relief in this crazy life. 

Here I go to expand my jungle!

A great attribute of most house plants is that they are very easy to clone. All you need do is find the base of a leaf or cluster of leaves and snap it off as close to the base as possible. That way you have a better chance of fast rooting. Just pop that sucker into, say, a recycled baby food jar, or similar container, shot glasses work great as well, and fill with water until the stem is submerged. Now just find a bright location out of direct sun light and vuala! Sometimes it takes a few weeks before the first bus comes on, so be patient, and try to remember to replace the water once a week. 

When you get a good root ball going feel free to transplant that into some soil. Or wait even longer. In the case of Pothos and Spider grass, keeping them in water can be beneficial if you planned to use them as water plants for an aquarium or fish tank. They work great as a filter in this circumstance and provide nutrition to the fish. 

There you have it! If you have young or homeschooling children this can be a fun long term experiment or great science project. Personally I still get giddy when I see the first root bud popping out, maybe its just me or maybe it's just a plant lover thing ;) 

Peace and love to all,

Below: creeping Charlie vine 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

TURKEY CARCASS. The broth how-to's.

Warning: the tardiness of this post is only a depiction of how crazy busy our life has been pre-wedding. Please forgive our absence. 

It's not every year that I can get around to using our turkey carcass. But this year my crazy life allowed it. Don't get me wrong, I always try to cut down on food waste. But let's be honest, I'm no super-mom and sometimes things get thrown out. That was however not the case for the remnants of our bird. 

My real motive all along was to make some delicious homemade turkey stock. And so I did just that. 

Reeling from the piles of dishes to wash, for who else but moi, I threw in the cleaning towel. The next thing j threw wasn't the dirty dishes like you might be guessing, but rather the bones & all that was left from the pan. The entirety went into my crock pot.........

Adding garlic, dried onion, parsley and cold water over it all until the bones were submerged, I turned it on high and walked away.... Hence the favorite appliance tag. 

There you have it! I cooked it on high most of the day. Ive been told 4 hours is enough, but I've never been one to do just the bare minimum with just about anything. I have a little problem with going over board on being prepared. So I cooked it for a little over 24 hours. Yum!

The next day I picked out the bones, poured off the broth through a fine mesh strainer, and saved the little meat remnants for another meal. 

Out of the stock I made chicken and dumplings from scratch. Double yum! And yes I'll totally post that recipe soon. 

The turkey meat which boiled off the carcass was frozen to be saved for turkey chowder in the coming weeks. 

From just that one bird we not only had copious amounts of thanksgiving dinner leftovers but were also able to create two more meals. Talk about repurposing resources, and it's so easy! 

Thursday, November 12, 2015


week our friends from down the road, hence "neighbors", asked for our help in canning up some elk meat. Of course we were all over that! An opportunity to hone our preserving skills?!

Let us at it!!!

Little did we know, we would be learning a lot more that night. 

In my mind I had imagined a nice elk roast we could simply portion out to can. Show my friend Stacy a thing or to that I have leaned about canning. Bing bang boom, easy as pie right?


To our surprise as much as our friends, we had before us a full shoulder of elk... Fore leg, rib cage, a little fur still left.... Hmm this job was proving to be a little more complicated.  

Much to my gratitude we ended up with a team of 7 people all working toward a mutual goal. Team work is imminent. At this point there was myself and Spencer. His cousin KC and his girlfriend Sarah. Stacey and her fiancĂ© Nick provided this meat abundance and Nicks brother Wes came to assist as well. 

Just setting the scene peeps. It was a long night. Here's the short version...

Before too long KC had all the knives sharpened as the rest of us stared with perilous eyes as Spencer and Nick debated where to make the first cut. 
Being that this was the first time any of us had performed this sort of task, it is safe to say we were flying blind!

We decided to seperate the shoulder from the rib cage first. Once that was done we had to remove some outer meat and rinse it off a bit, it had been sitting on ice in the back of truck for 24 hours. 

As the boys began carving the shoulder, and handing us what seemed like 15 pound giant slabs, us girls began rinsing it and removing varying visceral tissues, cartilage, blood, and tendon/ligament parts. 

As a side note. The above a pieces which I ever to as 'the unusables' is cleaned again of any blood and vessel tissue and frozen for dog food. Even though we won't eat it there's still a great deal of usable protein. For piece of mind I make sure my dogs aren't eating raw bloody meat. We just thaw a little every few days, boil till fully cooked, cool, and serve. It helps to supplement the cost of dog food when we mix the two. 

I digress. 

So we finally have the meat cleaned in long beautiful deep red cuts. So we...
1. cubed quite a bit. 
2. Threw it into sterilized pint jars. Finger tightened the rings (just to where the ring stops)
3. Placed them into our pressure cooker.
4. Once the steam from the pitchcock was constant 10 minutes the counterweight was added. 
5. We then maintained 10 pounds of pressure for 75 minutes. 
6. Turning off the burner we let everything cool naturally. 
7. During this time you may or may not hear the lids popping. If they haven't popped by the time they cool to room temperature DO NOT USE. 
For more in depth canning instructions see some of my other canning posts. 

During the canning process Spencer cooked up a strip, I'll admit it was a little weird to eat it after being elbow deep in that quartercarcas. But still it was quite tasty and very tender. 

We didn't get done until after midnight. But we learned a lot! Such as:

1. Be more prepared. 
2. Start earlier. 
3. Prepare more. 
4. Clean the kitchen first!
5. Uh, get prepared?
6. Make a preservation GAME PLAN!

Ok you get the point. I always kick myself for jumping in head first but heck it all gets done eh? What can I say I'm a act now and think later gal when a fun new task comes rolling my way. 

Our family here at the High Desert Homestead would like to give a special thanks to our friends Nick and Stacey! Thanks guys for thinking of and including us in that elk-xperience, it was a memory for the books. 

Friday, October 16, 2015


Note: This post contains affiliate links. That being said, I want everyone to know I would never and will never promote products I don't absolutely love and actually use in my home. 

In the last few weeks I have received some curiosity with our choice to clothe diaper little Murphy, and, why did we stop with her big sister, Ireland. I've received even more questions pertaining to what products we actually use and what works well. So, I have decided to give you my clothe diaper run down as it were, so hopefully your munchkin won't have poo running down his/her leg..

Hardy har har, one poo joke down, now we can move on...

Well let's just start at the beginning... I will try to give ya'll the short sweet version.

We began our clothe diaper journey back in 2012 when our first princess came into the world. We were fortunate enough to receive a diaper service as a shower gift from my mom and it was all down hill from here.

If you decide to go the diaper service route, all the power to ya, we opted out after a few months due to the expenses. Basically we found buying a nice organic or even regular diapers at times were the same price. We also couldn't afford to buy a whole diaper system of our own at that time. So, we whimped out and dropped our diaper dreams. A couple other things that we didn't like about the service:

- have to hold onto those diapers for a whole week.. yuck..

- don't get to keep the pre-folds when you move up a size.

- more expensive, as I mentioned above.

- unless you ask the company, its not guaranteed they are using eco-friendly products.

- stuck to one style of diaper, water-proof cover and a pre-fold.

Yes these are all quite trivial but at the time it seemed like a big deal.

I love buying all our own supplies.

I buy all of our pre-folds and diaper covers on Amazon! What's better is with our prime membership, we get discounted prices aaaaand, wait for it..... free shipping! Can you say boo-yah? I know I can! BOOYAH baby!

Here's a few links to what we've tried!

KEEP in mind I am a bargain shopper so I waited until a lot of these went on sale. A couple items aren't exactly what brand I bought but the same products and I've tried them all.  I started putting them in a wish list a saved for them throughout the pregnancy.

So as you saw above I had a couple different covers and also showed two different styles of diaper inserts. Oh and those adorable little bamboo/charcoal odor blockers. I love anything charcoal, its works amazingly for something so simple.

So I do two different types of cloth diapers. I use waterproof covers with the unbleached cotton pre-folds primarily, but I dapple in pocket diapers and re-usables. I'll just say now that the only reason I don't do pocket diapers only is because I feel they don't stay nice as long. You can wipe out an poo on a waterproof one since they are virtually plastic or non-absorbent inside and pocket diapers aren't. Pocket diapers are amazing but if you don't buy these.... then you're in for some stained up diapers, and stains just make them dingier faster. Ok end rant.

I love cloth diapering. Some of my friends and family think I'm a nerd, well maybe that part is true, but its really not a crazy time commitment like some think it is.

Here are some of the best things about cloth diapering:

- you only have to buy them once, all the different sizes that is, unless of course someone turns them into dish rags!

- they are so cheap to wash, like cents on the dollar compared to buying disposables.

- you can get creative, with all the covers in all sorts of colors and patterns the cuteness is un-ending.

- there are so many options! From pre-folds and pocket diapers to reusables and birds-eye, the choices go on and on. And everyone has their favorite.

- if you run out, all you have to do is run the wash.

- you don't have to keep buying them since you can use them child after child.

- organic non-bleached Egyptian cotton cloth diapers... I don't know about you but that sounds great.

- no solid waste to add to your trash.

- chemical-free diapering! And apparently its easier to potty train, we shall see I guess!

Ok folks that's all for the this diaper run-down! Next time I'll show ya'll exactly how I fold and diaper my girl.

Now I have to go change one... whoopee!


Hi all! I'm back to talk more homestead on a budget how tos.

With all of this talk about not spending money and saving, you may ask how we keep on task with money we actually get to spend. This was the hardest part.. learning to budget and learning to leave our money at home was the biggest hurdle to get over. 

If you were thinking we became this frugal overnight then I would laugh, we STILL impulse buy at times... But we're so lame our impulse buys are usually something like new socks or replacing something recently broken. So, for success on a homestead:

5. Keep track of your budget! 

Organization on a homestead is a huge part to keeping a farm. Creating some sort of binder or box we could store all our vital info in was crucial for us. We have so many tasks to complete and things to remember in a given day so we must have order! 

We keep it all together in our "High Desert Homestead" binder. Our production records for meat and eggs, each animals 'farm profile' which basically tracks their health and wellness, boarding lease agreements, owner/emergency and veterinarian info. I keep the "Homestead Fund" ledger, and all of our future ideas/designs for our farm here also. 

What is the 'Homestead Fund" you ask? This is where our whole farm budget lives. We track all expenses 'homestead' in this binder, in an effort to keep the farm budget separate from our day to day living expenses and Spencer's work income. 

So you guessed it, all the board money from the horses goes into the fund, is then delegated to animals' monthly feed costs, and then again to whatever other expenses are necessary. 

This also helps us track our inventory. We keep a tally of all supplies and farm essentials we have so if we need it for something we know it's been checked and stored.... Somewhere? But if we are to cut costs, holding onto useful items is always good for the next point in case we want to repurpose or get multiplied used out of an item. 

6. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. 

I repurpose everything possible that I can. In a world full of trash, transfer centers and pollution, I feel accomplished when I use anything more than once. Everything counts in the world of carbon foot prints, and ours gets smaller and smaller every year... at least I hope. I'm not saying you have to build your house out of 100% recycled material, although that would be rad, but even saving your bacon drippings counts! Side note: a while back I found a homemade bacon drippings mayonnaise recipe... uh yum. 

Moving on..

Heres a few examples of how/what we reuse on the farm:

-I wanted a warm rug for the bathroom in our chilly and humble double wide... So I cut up a dozen pairs of blue jeans and viola! chunky crocheted denim rug. 

-Spencer built our main rabbit hutch out of 100% free recycled parts from around our property, some was ours, some was literally just laying around when we got here. 

-We built our hog pens from free pallets.  Our compost bin, vegetable boxes, garden gates, tons of wedding decorations, all made from repurposed pallets.

- Had a thought about buying Ireland a school desk with the opening top for our new homeschooling adventure. Well Spencer came home with one last night! Granted it needs a face life, but what a great project! And? FREE! That will be a DIY video for another day. 

- Spencer just finished compiling all the parts to build our own chicken plucker! Instead of spendy retail ones, we are using all repurposed parts. A Whole post on that to come!!!

We find treasures in beat up items which are looked over everyday. We break them down, build them back up, and make them new again. Sometimes on the homestead we are able to go out and buy something, this is usually in the case of, 'we need it right now and can't live without it!'

Last year Spencer got a whole brand new set of power tools, a very very necessary expense since he uses them literally everyday. This was, like all things budgeted into our expenses responsibly. Something we like to refer to as a 'one time expense' meaning this isn't recurring. This way we can buy a nicer set that will last us longer.

Yes, sometimes we would love to grab our cash and head for.. somewhere you spend big amounts of money? 

But the future of our farm, family, and fulfilling our homestead dreams keeps us focused on the end result! One of the most sustainable things we can do to cut costs is to find purpose in something old like I said above. When funds are delegated better and you ditch the retail purchasing addiction, you can focus on other aspects of sustainability on the homestead, maybe like... a garden perhaps? Maybe some meat/dairy livestock??

7. Grow your own whenever possible. 

If you came to our house looking for what we grow ourselves you would find:

- Broiler chickens, we let a rooster and 3 hens live to try hatching our own red ranger broilers.

- Two pigs--- they live in freezer now...

- Meat Rabbits, one of which is pregnant!

- Some lamb in the deep freeze left over from moms ewes.

- Home canned and frozen veggies, some still from last years canning.

- I even grew some hops for us to try home brewing this fall.

- Organic nongmo vegetable and fruit garden 

- 14 egg laying hens

Growing our own meat and veggies wasn't exactly easy either. It took a great deal of time, patience, and lesson learning to get where we are. And believe me, we have a very long way to go. Our goal for next year is to grow ALL of our produce, and can enough to last through the winter.

In order to execute these skills I wish so fervently to teach my children I must first learn them myself. 

8. We never stop learning!

As I've mentioned a hundred times over we do whatever we can ourselves. The world is our classroom and there couldn't be a better time to start learning than now. If you can't afford to hire someone to do a certain task, then its best to learn it yourself if possible. Things such as:

- repairing your own vehicles and equipment

- raising meat and egg birds

- butchering chickens

- butchering rabbits

- treating rabbits for mites 

- welphing puppies

- administering vaccinations/medications to livestock and companion animals.

- making homemade deodorant, shampoo, nipple balm, pomade, and beard oils  

- organic pest/ weed control 

- homeschooling versus expensive pre-school

- painting your own house

I could go on forever... maybe some day I'll just write a whole list for ya'll

These weren't all things we already knew how to do. We had to learn them at times, and at other times we chose to learn these skills. Having a few sets of skills on a homestead makes this lifestyle that much easier. And much much cheaper in the long run so you CAN save for your dream farm.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Life on a homestead can be very expensive at times. But I don't want that to hinder your sight of how possible homesteading with minimal funds really is.

The money was never a worry to me, I know that sounds cliche, that I don't need money for happiness or we don't need money to feel secure. But honestly, I knew I wanted to expand my homesteading dreams and I was not going to let a trivial thing like money stop me. 

Frequently I am asked, "How the heck can you afford that?!" I just want you all to keep in mind that this lifestyle is possible on a budget, and I'm here to show you how. Here's a two-part peak into our homestead life and how we make it work.

Before I begin let me preface this by saying when we first began this venture last fall I was boarding 6 horses, not including my own mare. This was our start up (though we already had 6 laying hens). That money paid to feed my horse and all the other animals including our dogs, so we could then invest in other necessities.

I'm not saying to need to go out and find some horses or go gambling, I am simply setting the scene of our transformation. Don't mistake, we love this life and we chose it again everyday. That being said, what I am about to share with you is just a few things we do in our day to day life to live with a smaller foot print and afford to supervise the growth of our food. 

1. Don't let the money scare you!!!

Never let it stop you either, work hard, and your dream will be attainable. DON'T focus on what you can't afford, start with something sustainable that you CAN afford. I am confident that with time and determination, anyone can be a homesteader. 

Maybe your first sustainable act as a homesteader is a savings account, or starting your own sourdough. If you already have a garden save seeds from your harvest for next year. Go berry picking and preserve your loot. Maybe you do have a pasture and are entertaining the thought of boarders.

I know I know, not everyone can board horses. 

And that's ok. This is just one example of how we make extra money.

2. Create new streams of income wherever you can.

It doesn't matter what it is. The possibilities are endless. Here are a few things we do to make extra money on the homestead:

- We sell chicken and duck eggs

- Boarding horses 

- Spencer has numerous professional skills that he uses often for side jobs when we need extra income. Some include painting, landscaping, wood cutting, manual labor, auto mechanics and small engine repair etc..

- I sell Certified Therapeutic Grade Essential oils through my DoTERRA business for supplementary income. More about that to follow. Learn more or join my team here!

3. Don't spend unnecessary cash! 

If you don't absolutely need it, don't bother. Minimize purchases. Cut down clutter.

Personally I would rather dig through a thousand thrift stores and goodwills to find a hidden treasure, but I'm just a nerd like that. We also don't buy anything on credit. All large purchases are made in cash. Yes, it may take longer to save the money but the piece of mind is worth every minute in the long run. 

Never buy things brand new unless ABSOLUTELY necessary. And believe me there are necessary times, but when you save for it you can prepare to buy something of QUALITY. 

Try Craigslist.. there's always a plethora of farm essential and people with tons of it! Animals, tractors, tools, vehicles, you name it.

But Quincy I really have no money but want to do anything possible to change our diet, lifestyle, anything!? Help?

Yes I hear you. I to was in panic mode when we began and there was no way in sight to afford this life!!! 

But peeps... There totally is, which brings me to this...

4. Barter when ever possible! 

I love the barter system, countless exchanges with no paper green anywhere in sight. Its a beautiful thing people. Trading someone for something I already have? Heck yes I will! Like eggs, organic free-range chicken, organic pork, organic vegetable starts, babysitting, a hen and a rooster, or even beer... no really. 

I am a big supporter of giving something when you get something in the farm community. It just feels like the homestead way, and that fills my cup. So, occasionally I provide beer and food for garden/weeding help. Maybe you'll get some cuts of our homegrown pork for manual labor. When a friend brings me a plant for my garden, I send them with a dozen eggs.  

I even got my hanging rabbit cage and 2 nest boxes from a friend's landlord, left behind by previous tenants! And for free? Score!! Just because you have no money doesn't mean you can't find it for free or maybe find something of yours you can trade. Its totally Dancing the Wolves, you should try it sometime. You can even come barter with me, I would love to help your farm ventures.

You can even become members of bartering groups that are looking to expand their contacts. This is a great way to find things you need on the homestead. I know some folks that trade fresh produce for farm fresh eggs. If you think long enough I bet there is a skill or something that you can create from within the home to barter with. 

We came to own our riding lawn mower, weed whacker, leaf blower, and chain saw from bartering auto mechanics and small engine repair. Even a free mower rental to cut our field. Boom. Barter baby! Everyone has some thing they can barter with. What is yours? 

When it's all said and don't we do this because this is how the homestead life calls to us. This is how I feel the Lord would want us to live. Of our own hand and of our own heart. And just because we don't make 6 figures in a year does not mean we don't deserve this life. 

We want more than anything to provide a healthy wholesome lifestyle and attitude for our children. To respect and feel secure in where their food came from. After all, this is why we do what we do, for the love of the food. 

I know I'm throwing a lot of words around. Like minimize, barter... sustainable...healthy 

I'm not asking you to change your life, unless you want to. Food for thought. 

Stay tuned for Part Two

Peace, Q