Throwback to March 21, 2011

NOTE: This post originally appeared on our old Our Cedar Cottage blog. Since that time, our Suburban developed issues we couldn’t afford to repair so we sold it to a friend. We still miss it and hope to buy another someday. In the meantime, we simply park at my parents’ house and walk back and forth when the road is a mess. No more trying to drive!

M – U – D

The Spring Thaw has gifted us with a deeply rutted, slippery road. Our Suburban is able to handle it if in 4-wheel-drive, but we always forewarn the children to “Hang on!”

Our cell phone service is spotty today for some odd reason. Dad tried to reach all three of our cell phones, and some of them more than once, but we never heard them ring. In somewhat of a panic he attempted to drive his Durango back here to check on us.

Despite having 4-wheel-drive, he couldn’t make it. His truck is too light and he went right off into the ditch.


He called Kenny to bring the Suburban to pull him out. When that failed, they called me. I was in the Durango, hooked hitch-to-hitch to the Suburban, which Kenny was driving. Dad hooked his tractor to the front of the Surburban and we choo-choo-trained our way out of the mess. Yay!

I’m sorry that I have no pictures of the Durango in all it’s muddy glory, but Dad power washed it before I thought to take any. Our Suburban is perpetually muddy as it’s absolutely useless to wash it until the road dries out.

Since the power washer was already in use, I took the time to clear Dad and Mom’s 2-car concrete parking pad of the winter’s dirt and debris. Forty-five minutes and one aching back later, it looked pretty good.

I also power washed Dad’s muck boots and then mine. I exclaimed “Look! They’re PINK!” I havne’t seen much of the color over the last few weeks of trekking between our two homes.

Of course, the walk home undid the job for me.


This is my first time participating in the Homestead Revival Barn Hop. Welcome, new readers! [NOTE: As of 2017, the Barn Hop seems to be defunct.]

Throwback to March 20, 2011

Note: This post originally appeared on the “Our Cedar Cottage” blog we used to update on Blogspot. Since the time of that posting, both Grey-C and Baby were determined to be girls.

Kitty Update …

Some of our friends and family members will remember that we started out with five kittens last Fall. One came from a farm where our friend Joe works and the other four were part of the same litter at a farm near our home. The four in that litter died within a five-day time frame and we never learned the cause.

Grey C. is the kitten that survived. She (at least we think she is a she) is healthy and happy and permanently outdoors now that the frigidly cold winter is behind us. She likes to lurk on the deck and slip into the inner porch where she scratches and mews at the door to be let in.


This week a new kitty showed up at our place. She (At least we think she is a she.) turned up under our deck, which is enclosed so we had to wonder how she had gotten under there. She found her way out and by afternoon responded to calls of “Baby Kitty” but not really to “Kitty” alone. And so she named herself “Baby”. She approaches us now, however timidly, and loves to be cuddled. She hisses at Grey C., though.


I suppose at some point we should determine their respective genders or we may well have more baby kitties calling Cedar Cottage Farm their home.

Throwback to March 19, 2011

NOTE: This post originally appeared on our old blog. I’ve moved it here for posterity. I hope you enjoy a look back with us!

We finally ordered our garden seeds!

Yesterday Kenny and I found the time to sit together and make the final decision on what seeds to order for this year’s garden.

We knew from the start that we would order from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds at It’s important to us to raise heirloom varieties. We have several reasons for this, including propagating rare varieties as well as being able to save the seeds from our produce for future gardens.


We are planning a large garden to provide fresh food as well as extra for preserving.  My parents will benefit from the bounty, as well.

Our local Tractor Supply store has announced that they’ll host a Farmer’s Market this season at no cost. How exciting! We ordered ample seeds for our own use as well as to sell at the market. Here’s the list!

Amish Paste ~ Chosen for canning and sauces.  We liked this variety because it hails from Wisconsin.
Ferris Wheel ~ This variety was released in 1907 out of LaCrosse, WI, so should do well for us.
Mortgage Lifter ~ It would be wonderful if the name held true for us, would it not?
Dr. Wyche’s Yellow ~ Kenny likes yellow tomatoes and this one is supposed to be popular at markets.
Nature’s Riddle ~ This is a marvelously ugly tomato!

Pride of Wisconsin ~ Chosen because we had confidence it would do well in our climate and it is very rare.
Minnesota Midget ~ The reviews were great on this, it comes from a similar climate and I just thought they’d be cute to grow.

Red Wing Lettuce Mix ~ This mix has beautiful color.
Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach ~ I love spinach fresh or cooked and this one is supposed to be somewhat mild.

Purple Beauty ~ These look marvelous!
Chinese 5 Color ~ Purple, Cream, Yellow, Orange, Red and Screaming Hot.
Jupiter ~ We wanted a disease-resistant bell that would do well at market.
Lipstick ~ The name of this one was so odd that we had to read about it.  The information seems promising, so we’ll give it a try.

Cherokee Trail of Tears ~ So named because the seeds were carried on the Trail by the Cherokee.
Blue Lake Bush ~ Long heralded in my family as a great grower!
Henderson’s Black Valentine ~ Ready in 53 days and great for snap beans or soup beans.
Old Homestead ~ This is a Kentucky Wonder, which is another with a strong tradition in my family.
Purple Podded Pole ~ The pods look beautiful and grow to be 6″ long.

Cosmic Purple ~ The words “excitement at farmers’ markets” drew us in to read the excellent reviews.
Little Finger ~ This baby carrot is supposed to grow well and it’s sweet.
Jaune Obtuse du Doubs ~ A true yellow carrot that is ready early.  I can’t wait to try this one myself!

Tall Telephone ~ Introduced in 1881 and fascinating reviews!

Country Gentleman ~ We wanted to grow a traditional shoepeg corn and this one is sweet, to boot.
Rainbow Sweet Inca ~ The beautiful colors earned the “Rainbow” part of it’s name.  I’m looking forward to home-ground corn meal.
Wade’s Giant Indian Flint ~ The photo below (from the Baker Creek web site) explains why this one was chosen.


TOS Schoolhouse Teachers’ February Special

This offer is such a great value that I have to make a special post for my subscribers.

The Old Schoolhouse magazine operates an online lessons platform called I have been interested in using this platform for some time, but the price tag was just a little too steep for me to sample it. I had trouble budgeting the $179/year, even though this price was good for all students in the household.

The February special is only $95/year!

There is also a monthly option if the $95 is too steep for you to commit to all at once. That’s just $131/year which is still quite a savings over the original price of $179. offers over 300 online courses that your student (or you!) can take at their own pace. All 300+ courses are included in the $95/year! There are no additional fees for adding children. I haven’t seen such an offer anywhere else. All other sites I’ve explored charge extra for each additional child.

This offer isn’t just for homeschool families! Anyone can sign up. You can expand your child’s learning, shore up their skills in mathematics, or keep them on task throughout the Summer months so their return to school in the Fall is an easier transition. There are computer classes and art instruction and foreign languages and … the list goes on and on!

If you can do this, I encourage you to give it a try. It’s definitely well worth it!

Throwback to November 27, 2010

NOTE: This post first appeared on our former blog called Our Cedar Cottage. Now that we have our own domain name, I’m moving a few posts over that we want to save. Please enjoy this flashback with us.

How to make fire starters …

We finally found the time yesterday to make fire starters.

Normally we use dryer lint, which works very well. When we lack old candle stubs, Gulf Wax works well and is very cheap.

This time, however, I had a number of old scented candles in various sizes. We also decided to try pine wood shavings in place of the dryer lint.

Dad keeps his fire starters in an old aluminum pot, which doubles as our wax melting pot. The process of melting the wax would have gone more quickly if we had chunked up the old candles first.

I had two candles still in the jars, so we softened them by putting them in a pan of hot water. We put a rack underneath to prevent breaking the jars.


A nearby nursing home saves all of their cardboard egg cartons for us to recycle as fire starters. We plan to raise chickens next year, and will set aside the cleanest cartons at that time for our eggs.

We filled each carton with pine shavings. We found that they worked best when the shavings were contained in each cup and not mounded over.


We stirred the wax gently to prevent splatters. An old spoon found among the camping utensils served for stirring and for ladling out portions.

We found that hotter wax provided better saturation and a more cohesive fire starter. Just be careful as it tends to have a boiling action when it is poured into the cups.


I had trouble getting a fire going today after a busy morning kept me from tending it. Placing a fire starter under a log that is supported by a couple of small kindling rounds will provide a flame lasting 10 to 15 minutes with plenty of air flow. That is usually enough time for the fire to catch.

The fire starters reside in my old cast iron dutch oven on the hearth.