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Courage To Do

LindsayThis is a collection of stories and fables, some true, some fictional, and some a mixture of both, that will entertain everyone and anyone who has a little Grit! Retold by me, Lindsay Hodge of Haven Homestead. If you liked this story, head on over to Haven Homestead, or comment here and let me know.

Frank and Fred were good neighbors. They had been together since they were tadpoles swimming around in the duck pond at Haven Homestead. From dusk to dawn the two frogs would hop around the pond, climb the trees and splash and play. There was always plenty of food for the two of them, and all the rest of the frogs that lived in their bit of the forest. The ducks would chase them through the pen, and sometimes a child would come and catch one or both of them, but they always found their way back home. The two neighbors would often go for a quick hop-about, as good neighbors do.

Once, on one of these hop-abouts, a tragedy happened. The frogs had gone to a milk shed nearby. It wasn't far from their pond, and they had been there a few times before. There was an especially good spot in one corner where the frogs would hide and catch some of the tastiest flies. There was something different about the shed this time. Something that gave Fred the chills.

“I can't put my finger on it,” said Fred, “But I've got a bad feeling about this.”

“Oh, Fred! Don't be such a worry wort.”

The frogs took their usual route to their favorite snack corner. A hop onto a stool, followed by a jump to the shelf and a short, but precarious climb up the wall above the buckets of cream and milk. They were almost to the corner when Frank hollered, “WATCH OUT!”

Minnie Mouser, the resident barn cat, had been hiding and waiting for a tasty treat too. Frank saw her just as she was about to pounce! Fred jumped left, Frank hopped right. Minnie pounced on the shelf right where the two had been. She pursued the frogs from one side of the shed to the other. The frogs would jump and hop with Minnie never far behind. Finally, she had them cornered.

“There's only one way out,” whispered Fred.

“Where's that?” asked Frank.

Fred explained, “The buckets. If we can jump over that one right below us, we can sneak behind the one next to it, and hop out through that crack in the wall.”

As Minnie edged closer, Frank looked. There was no way. “We can't jump that far! At least we never have before!”

“We've got to try,” said Fred.

Suddenly there was no time left to talk. Minnie crouched, then her spring-like legs catapulted her forward and the two frogs leaped for their lives... Right INTO the bucket of cream.

Frank and Fred splashed into the cream head first. The bucket was deep and the sides were slick. Minnie tried to get to the frogs, but gave up in favor of some slightly easier prey that had caught her eye. The frogs were left to figure their way out of the bucket in relative peace.

“Whew!” sighed Fred. “I'm so glad that's over.”

“Don't get to cozy just yet. We've still got to get out of this bucket.” Frank looked around. From where he was treading, he couldn't see anyway out.

“Let's find out how deep this bucket is,” said Fred, “Maybe, you can stand on my shoulders and hop out.”

He swam to the bottom and realized that it was much too deep. He tried letting Frank stand on his back to jump while he was swimming, but Fred would sink too quickly for Frank to hop out. They tried using their sticky fingers to climb out of the bucket but the cream was thick and slippery. They couldn't get a good grip.

“This is just great. We've escaped being eaten by a cat to be drowned in a bucket of cream!” complained Frank. “Why don't we just give up now? It'll be easier.”

“Just keep swimming Frank,” said Fred, “We'll figure this out.”

Fred's ever-hopeful attitude was just a little annoying to Frank. It was hard to swim in the cream. Cream was much thicker than water and Frank was getting tired. Frank kept swimming, though he knew there was no hope.

“I swear, this stuff is getting thicker!” Frank bellowed. “I'm done. There's no way out.” Frank stopped kicking and sunk to the bottom.

Fred could not give up. He was sure that an answer would present itself soon enough, but his heart felt heavy. He had just lost a very good neighbor. The cream was thick, and getting thicker, but still Fred kicked his feet.

Suddenly, something about the cream changed. One moment it was so thick he could barely move his feet, and the next he could move more freely and there were chunks of something yellow floating all around him. The cream had turned into butter and whey! As he swam the butter got firmer and the whey got looser. Fred began to work the chunks into a sort of hill in the middle of the bucket, and in no time at all, Fred could stand on it. Fred flopped himself onto the top of the hill and rested for a moment.

Then Fred looked up from his perch on the top of the butter and said, “I think I can just make that.” He got into his best long jump position and with all of his might, he shot right out of the bucket.

The hop home was a bittersweet one for Fred. His neighbor was gone, but he was alive. He thanked God in Heaven for the strength to get through that mess, and he hurried home to take a bath.

“I don't think I'll ever visit that shed again,” thought Fred. He never did, but he never forgot the lesson he learned there either.

The moral of this story is:
Just keep kickin'
the cream will thicken!
When the going get tough just dig in!


Many Hands Make Light Work

LindsayThis is a collection of stories and fables, some true, some fictional, and some a mixture of both, that will entertain everyone and anyone who has a little Grit! Re-told by Lindsay Hodge of Haven Homestead.

The Little Red Hen

Many Hands Make Light Work (How the Little Red Hen Finally Got Some Help)

Millie stood at the edge of her field, dreaming of the delicious bread that she would make from the golden wheat that drooped its heavy heads and swayed in the wind. She had worked hard to get here. Millie had chosen just the right kind of wheat, prepared the ground, planted the seeds and nurtured the precious plants for months, all on her own. It was a lot of work. Especially for a hen. She was tired, but she was proud of the work that she had been able to accomplish. She just wished that she could have someone to share it with.

It wasn't like she didn't ask for help. When she asked Pete the Pig to help her pick the seed, he'd just snorted and said, “Not I.” Then he continued to wallow in his mud pit.

Millie asked Henry the Horse to help her plow the fields. It would have been short work for a horse his size, but he just whinnied, “Not I,” as he trotted off to the back field to play with Rover. Rover and Henry couldn't be bothered with work when there was playing to be done.

Millie asked Gander and Goose to help water and weed, but they had six new goslings to worry about. They had said, “Not I, but I wish I could.”

So Millie just worked. She worked harder than any hen had ever worked before, and just look at what she had accomplished! Now, it was time to harvest the brilliant crop. All morning, she had been clucking to the other hens about how wonderful it would be to work in her fields, and eventually taste the delicious bread that would come from her hard work. She went on and on about the bread. “The best part is going to be eating it!” assured Millie. When the sun had just crested the hill, Millie took her leave of scratching in the run to work on the wheat. When she arrived in the field she stood there for a moment to contemplate the wonder of it all.

The sun rose higher in the sky, and with her sickle in claw, Millie went to work. She was about half-way down the first row when she noticed Gloria and Ruth standing at the edge of the field. The two hens looked as if they weren't sure what to do. Millie raised one wing in a salute and hollered, “Hello my friends! What can I do for you?”

“Well,” said Gloria, “We actually wanted to ask what we could do for you.”

Millie just looked at the pair. Should she ask for help? Once she had explained all that there was to do, everyone else had said, “Not I.” She was afraid to ask anymore.

Ruth clucked and scratched a moment, and then she said, “We would like to try some of this bread that you are so excited about, and we thought you might like a little help with preparing it.”

That was all Millie needed to hear. “Well, come on over. I'll show you how to bundle this wheat.” And with that, the three little hens got to work cutting, bundling and stacking. They sang together as they worked, and by the time the sun had begun to set, they had finished the whole field.

“It would have taken me three days to do all that by myself!” clucked Millie.
“It was hard, but it was fun!” laughed Gloria.
“Indeed! What are we going to do tomorrow?” asked Ruth.
“Tomorrow we will thresh the wheat. If we have enough time, maybe we can even grind a little bit and make our first loaf of bread!”

It was hard to go to sleep that night. The three hens clucked with joy over the possibilities that tomorrow's work might bring. All of the other hens in the roost were annoyed at all the fuss the three were making, and maybe just a little bit curious.

Okay, they were a lot curious. Which is why, when Millie, Ruth, and Gloria took off for the fields the next morning, the whole flock joined them. In no time at all, the wheat had been threshed and the straw was stacked neatly in the barn. It took two shakes of a lamb's tail for Millie and the other hens to grind some wheat into flour and get a loaf rising.

The flock scratched around and talked as they waited for the bread to bake. They were having such a great time working together.

The bread was turning a beautiful golden brown, and the delicious smell drifted from one corner of the farm to another. Pete the Pig's stomach growled. Hank and Rover had to stop mid-gallop once the scent reached their noses. Gander and Goose and their wee goslings even managed to waddle up to the house. The hunger-inducing scent brought the whole farm to the kitchen window.

“Mmmm-mmmm!” bellowed Pete. “That smells mighty delicious! Do you think you could spare a slice for me?” Millie and the other hens started in surprise.

“Us too!” exclaimed Rover and Henry.

“It smells so delicious,” complimented the geese.

Millie was a little bit ruffled. How could she be expected to share her bread when they weren't willing to share the work? She bristled and clucked for a minute, but who could be upset for long with the heartwarming smell of delicious bread in the oven. Besides, Millie had a plan.

“I'm so sorry folks! We only have enough for us hens today. We can make some more later, but it will take some time to grind enough flour for all of you. It might take a few days. And besides we have to get another field planted. That is, unless you want to help.”

Millie laid out her plan for everyone to work together, all the while slathering some fresh butter on the homemade bread she had just pulled from the oven. She passed the slices around to the other hens, and took the last one for herself. The other animals left the hens to enjoy their bread, and took their hungry stomachs home, eager to work for some of their own.

The next morning, without any ado, Millie had all the help she could ask for, and boy was she glad for it. Pete was in charge of separating out the best seeds to sow for the next harvest. He snorted and snuffed and separated the seeds into two piles, one to grind and one to plant.

Hank and Rover plowed the field and planted the seeds. Father Gander and Mother Goose had their goslings operating the flour mill, and the hens all worked on baking delicious loaves of bread.

Millie watched her friends working and playing together and having a grand time. She knew that she could do it all on her own. She had done it before, but as she stood there watching her friends working together, she thought to herself, “This is how it should be.” And it is.

The moral of this story is:
Don't be a shirk,
If you want the perk,
Then always remember:
Many hands make light work!


haven homestead banner


Help Me Choose Some Plants

LindsayHello my fellow GRIT readers! 

Chris and I just had a great idea. We want to know more about certain plants and different cultivars so we can be knowledgeable about them when we are designing properties. With that in mind we have found some really awesome resources, and we'd like to share them with YOU!

We posted our first plant profile on our other blog, Comfrey Can Do! Check it out.

comfrey | courtesy Leslie Flanigan/ 

Photo: courtesy Leslie Flanigan/

Which brings me to my request. I need some help picking more plants to feature. We already have a list started (things like columnar apples, seaberry and garlic), BUT I want to know what you want to know about. Keep in mind that we are in the Pacific Northwest, and we will be focusing on plants that we can grow here. However, we are open to any and all suggestions. SO suggest away!

Thanks for your help!


Reaching Tortilla Equilibrium

LindsayWhen you live a more sustainable life, you inevitably come to the decision to make your own bread, or not. Some folks feel like it’s an easy decision. Kind of a “Duh! Of course I’m going to make my own bread” moment, but for me, it wasn’t so easy. I really value my time, and bread, no matter what kind, requires time and preparation. For a long time I felt like I just didn’t have the time to bake my own bread, let alone make tortillas or fresh dinner rolls. And besides not having the time, I didn’t know how!

After listening to some motivational speeches on time management, I realized that I was living re-actively, and not proactively. (I’ll go into that theory in another post.) That lead me to finding the time to make breads, and I’m sure glad I did. However, the theory of living proactively didn’t prepare me for the difficulties of figuring out the HOW of making my own breads. I needed to find equilibrium; some balance between a recipe that worked for me and my family, using my time wisely, and knowledge and experience enough to make delicious time-worthy breads.

Whether you are a newbie bread maker or a veteran, you know that making bread is sometimes a discouraging experience. It doesn’t matter whether you are making regular yeast bread, sourdough, flat breads, dessert breads or any other kind of grainy deliciousness, things go wrong. Bread baking is as much a science as it is an art. No matter what the outcome is, I learned that the time spent was definitely worth it. My advice to you: Don’t give up on finding equilibrium.

I was in college when I first started making my own bread. It was shortly after I married Chris. After several months of “My mom always makes bread” and “I really love homemade bread,” I decided that I was going to give it a hearty go. I only had one class on Fridays, so that became Bread Day.

Nearly every Friday, I would come home from my lab, mix up the dough, and have lunch ready for Chris when he came home in between classes. As soon as our lunch was over, it would be just about time for me to form the loaves. It wasn’t anything fancy and the first few batches came out really rough, but I did it. Unfortunately, as soon as that semester ended, so did Bread Day. I am also still searching for the perfect sandwich loaf recipe. I haven’t yet found Sandwich Loaf Equilibrium, but when I do, I will look back on those early tries with fondness.

Whenever I try something new, there always seems to be a learning curve. Even if the first try is successful, sometimes subsequent batches are NOT. My experience with tortillas was no different. The first batch was so successful! I stopped buying tortillas at the store immediately, I posted about it on BOTH of our blogs, and I have made them probably once a week since January. Maybe more often. I typically use one of two recipes, one with sourdough and one without. Check them out at my other blog!

They haven’t been super awesome every time I’ve made them, but that first time when it was so mind-blowingly awesome kept me trying. (Chalk one up for beginner’s luck!)

Finished Tortillas

Now that I’ve had about a year of experimenting with tortillas, I’d like to share my experience with you. I’m sure the advice applies to other breads, too. Here’s a list of my problems and solutions. I hope they help.

  • I almost always forget the salt. There’s nothing like a bland tortilla. (Or bland soup, or bland rolls, or bland cookies … I forget the salt in everything!) I now have salt highlighted, underlined, and in bold on my recipe cards. I haven’t forgotten the salt in a few weeks, but I won’t check this one off the list just yet!

  • I didn’t separate the dough before the rest. That meant that the dough was too stiff to roll flat enough. If you can’t roll your tortillas flat enough, then you get tough inflexible tortillas. Needless to say, I separate the dough BEFORE the rest.

  • I tried to memorize the recipe. It’s really troublesome when you can’t remember whether it’s 1/3 or 2/3 cup of oil … now, I always take out the recipe card even if I don’t look at it.

  • I used too much oil. I thought for a little while that my tortillas were inflexible because I didn’t use enough oil. That resulted in a few batches of really oily tortillas. Having the recipe card out really helps. SO does reading the recipe card now and again. I now know that I wasn’t separating the dough before the rest!

  • I didn’t use enough oil. This made my tortillas dry and flaky. Again, having the recipe card out helps. So does not trying to be superwoman.

  • I burnt them. That’s what happens when you stop paying attention to the frying pan! I try to roll out all the tortillas first, and then fry them, or I roll out one and fry it before I move on to the next. This still happens, but now that I have a system, it happens less often, and more often because I’m playing with my children instead of cooking dinner!

  • I didn’t roll them flat enough. If you roll them nice and thin, they puff. That puff is important to the flexibility of the tortilla. I always make sure to roll them out as flat as possible.

  • I used a hard wheat flour and didn’t knead it long enough. My tortillas, and all of my bread, were dry for awhile. That hard wheat flour is really thirsty flour, and it’s very tough. I didn’t realized that flours acted differently from each other. Now I know how to adjust for when I switch up my flours! I typically prefer soft whole wheat flours, and I make sure to knead until the gluten develops.

It is a fact of life that we can’t have perfect loaves every time. If you learn from your mistakes, eventually things get better. After a year of trials and failures, with the increasingly more often success, I have pretty much reached Tortilla Equilibrium.

Tortillas and Rolling Pin 

There are all sorts of people out there doing the same things you’re doing, and we can learn from each other, too. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time we try something new. Recently, one of my favorite magazines, GRIT, put out a special bread issue, GRIT's Guide to Homemade Bread. I am just devouring it! (Not really, ‘cause that would be weird …) It has all sorts of goodies, including a little snippet from my original sourdough post, and a photo by yours truly! Besides my obvious excitement over being published, the issue is one of the best I’ve read in a long time. If you’re interested, check it out here.

Resources like this one from GRIT make it even easier to get started, and keep on the path of making your own breads. Just remember, take the time, and don’t give up! You can do it!

Now that I’ve reached Tortilla Equilibrium, I’m ready to start on a new adventure … does anyone have any suggestions?

A Better Way to Raise Chicks

LindsayOne of the greatest perks to being a creative genius is that you can pretty much do anything that you like, with whatever you have, as long as it works. I like to think that my husband and I are creative geniuses. Recently we have created a chicken coop out of pallets and reclaimed tin roofing; we built a rabbit hutch out of reclaimed lumber and tin, free cages and feeders, and worm bins; and we have innovated a new way of raising store-bought chicks.

Little Black Australorp 

I want to start by saying that my husband REALLY doesn't like to clean up poop. That is why we are using worm bins under our rabbit cages. That is why we have chicken tractors and a moveable coop. We don't keep our cats indoors so we don't have to worry about a litter box (not to mention I'm allergic), and we let our dog range when it's time to do her business. They have the whole 5 acres to do their business, and unless it's on a walk way, we don't have to worry about it!

So far we've been successful in avoiding having to handle a lot of poop. Of course you have to deal with it. Poop is a part of life. But we don't have to do it very often!

When it came to getting chicks, my sweet husband devised a plan where we could use a worm bin under the baby chicks. The worms and kitchen scraps could feed the chicks, the worms would compost the chick poo, and we wouldn't have to change the chick bedding. It seemed like a real win-win.

chicks in bin

Mostly it worked out great, but we had too many chicks in too small of an area and they did start to smell like stinky chicks towards the end. I think that part of the problem was that we didn't shred our newspaper up fine enough. I also think that we ran out of worms! All in all it was a pretty successful venture, but I would definitely do things differently if I do it again.

Here are some things that we learned along the way:

1.) Put your chicks and worms in an appropriately sized box, and make sure that you have a good 8 to 10 inches of worms and dirt on the bottom of your container. Too many chicks in too small of a container with not enough worms can really put a damper on your plans for not smelling them!

2.) Use wood shavings instead of newspaper, or else shred the newspaper up really fine. If you don't you'll have compaction problems.

3.) Be sure to use a cultivator to mix up the worm dirt/chick bedding every other day or so. When you mix it up, you are teaching the chicks how to scratch, keeping the bedding from getting compacted, and giving the worms and the chicks an opportunity to eat more food!

You will still have to provide your chicks with feed and grain, but with any luck you will definitely cut the feed costs by quite a bit. AND you won't have to worry about cleaning up a bunch of chick poop!

Honey Bee Helpers

LindsayThe idea behind Haven Homestead is that we want to be able to produce all (or at least 75%) of our own food. That includes wanting to make our own sugar. Since sugar cane and sugar beets don't grow “well” here and since processing sugar from those can be tricky, we have decided that we want to raise honey bees.


Warre Hive 

Honey bees are great! The do all the work of processing the sugar, we just have to harvest it. They not only provide their beekeepers with honey, but they also help to pollinate a huge number of the plants that we eat every day.

The sad part is that bees are under attack. As more and more people enter the gardening arena, pesticides and chemical fertilizers are becoming more common. Instead of planting vegetables in guilds that support a healthy ecosystem, new gardeners look for the “easy way” of getting rid of garden pests. The trouble is that when you use PESTICIDES you aren't just getting rid of the pests, you are also getting rid of the beneficial insects, like honey bees, that would actually help your garden be more productive.

Save Honey Bee

In order to further our venture in food production and environmental rehabilitation, I have started taking courses to become a Master Beekeeper! I'm so excited!

If you are interested in becoming a beekeeper too, check out your local university's extension office, or with your state's beekeeping association. Bees are such an integral part of our agricultural system that you won't have to look far!

Photo Credits: The first one is a Warre Hive taken by me here at Haven Homestead! The second one is one I googled, since I don't have my own bees yet, and is courtesy of Bees Hive, a blogging site for anyone who loves bees.

SPINning Straw into Gold at Haven Homestead

LindsayHere at Haven Homestead we are just starting out. We've been on our property for a year now and we have come a long way, but we have an even longer way to go! There are two different techniques for gardening that we have recently learned about and we are giving them a try to see how they work for us. The prospects are really exciting!



SPIN Farming is the technique of using an intensive crop rotation of a high value crop on a small plot. There are all kinds of tips and tricks that the developers have come up with. You can check it out at their website at This information is not only great for getting results from your garden, it's also really great for designing a farm business to be successful from the get go.

Straw Bale Gardening is basically a container gardening method where the bales are the container AND the growing medium. It's supposed to be a weed-free, easily accessible way to garden and you can do it anywhere! Even on concrete. Plus, since the bales start generating their own heat, you can start your garden up to two weeks before you normally would. At the end of a season or two, you are left with some really great compost, which is known amongst gardeners as black gold. Hence the spinning straw into gold!

We've started conditioning our bales according to Joel Karsten's book, Straw Bale Gardens. The book is available at or on Amazon.

The great thing is that we can still use our lasagna mulch garden bed in our “straw spinning" too! Just a different technique for different purposes.

We already have sprouts in our cold frame that we built on New Year's Day. I think they are radishes. I can't wait to start growing things in our bales!

First sprouts 

Read about more of our adventures at Haven Homestead at!