House on the Hill WV

Date Nights on the Homestead

Heidi NawrockiAh, yes, date nights. I remember those days. Back when my husband and I lived in town and had no children. Fast forward to reality, though ... 53 acres and two kids. Date nights are nearly nonexistent now. Especially date nights that require leaving the house.

But that doesn’t mean date nights can’t still be fun! You just have to get a little more creative. And you can also get some of those things checked off the to-do list!


1. Brew beer or make wine together! A few years ago, my husband started making wine, and beer followed closely after. It’s a fun project to bottle up the beer or wine after the kids go to bed. Not only do we plan the garden seasonally, but my husband plans his libations accordingly. He makes sure to have a white wine bottled for summer and red for the winter. And after you’re done bottling, you can enjoy a glass of wine together!

2. Shell dried beans. Hear me out on this one — dried beans are the lazy gardener’s best friend. You spend some time planting in the early summer and then you spend some time shelling them later in the season. No canning, freezing, or drying required! So, grab a glass of that homemade wine and chat about your homestead plans with your spouse.

3. Weed the garden. Yes, another menial chore that can be made fun when done together. Playing in the dirt is therapeutic to me, and it helps to have somebody around to talk to. My husband does the grunt work with the hoe, and I do the finesse work around the plants. Date night and a free manicure!

4. Preserve the harvest. Have a plethora of beets? Pickle ‘em! Too many tomatoes? Make some salsa, or hot sauce, or just plain tomato sauce. The job doesn’t necessarily go quicker with two people, but once you get a rhythm down, it can be really fun. And when you pop open that jar of beets or salsa, you can be taken back to that summer night of canning in the kitchen!

5. Put the chickens up and go for a walk! Around the yard, of course, and be sure to talk about your hopes and dreams for the space for the future. Or, lay down in the yard and look at the stars. Or sit down and watch the sunset!


See, there are ways to sneak in a “date night” and still be productive!

Want to see what’s going on at our homestead? Check out my blog and Instagram!

Spring Arrives at the Hill

Heidi NawrockiIt's April 9 and as I sit here writing this, snow is falling and the wind is blowing. We are to get record low temperatures here tonight in West Virginia. This is after a few weeks of 70 degree temperatures. Ah, Mother Nature, you finicky girl, you! But, the cold weather will be short lived and projects will pick up with full speed around the homestead.

There's already been some work this spring, though. We have started our orchard! We planted 6 apple trees and 3 cherry trees last weekend. I'm particularly excited for the apple trees as they are all heirloom varieties. We bought a “cider assortment” and I see a homemade cider press in the future! My husband enjoys making wine, brewing beer, and making hard cider. Last spring he planted grape vines, this year is apples...who knows, maybe next year will be hops?

Another addition this spring is new chicks! We ordered some chicks to add color to the egg basket. We were so thrilled to get the call the other day that they were at the post office, but were a little disappointed to see that some had not made the trip and we lost a few more in the first 24 hours. I'm chalking it up to the colder temperatures and what seemed to me like an extraordinarily lengthy trip. The remaining chicks are doing well and running around like crazy! My son is hoping to go to the feed store on Monday to pick up a few other chicks to replace the ones we lost. I think I'll be open to the idea!

buff cochin chick

We have started our tomato, pepper, and herb plants. We just ordered a legitimate grow light the other day as our plain old fluorescent bulbs aren't cutting it. Our tomatoes have legs to make one jealous! But, I know with the proper lighting, they'll be strong and ready to go in the garden later next month.

My project for the snow day is to plan the chicken coop landscaping. We planned and built our own coop based around the passive solar design of our home. We have only managed to get it primed (chalk it up to life with two little kids, a husband with a full time job, and the weather), but this spring it will get an overhaul – I'm excited to add in some beneficial plants surrounding it to attract the pollinators for the garden and to provide more shelter for our free ranging girls.

Happy Spring!