Suburban Homesteading in Southwestern PA

By Stacy Artis


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    Hello!  Goodness, the time is flying.  I can't believe it is nearly the middle of October already.  When I am in the middle of one busy season I always find myself looking forward to the next, thinking life will slow down.  Ha!  I'm only fooling myself with that one.
    We've been enjoying fabulous Indian Summer weather this week.  Beautiful, warm, sunny days of the most amazing blue skies and crisp, cool nights where the stars shine like diamonds.  Mornings have sparkled with frost or have been shrouded in fog.  The deer continue to act nuts due to rutting season and one really has to keep an eye out for them in the mornings.
    This has been one of those weeks where everyone is running somewhere each evening.  I dislike those as we don't get to sit down to dinner as a family.  There was no school today so the kids and I got a bit of a breather, but Matt had to work tonight and Tim will be getting home later so still no family dinner.  I'm making tacos and nachos.  Everyone can eat them whenever they get in.
    Matt and Holly asked me to drop them at the mall in Greensburg today.  Matt wanted to look at Halloween costumes.  He wants to be a knight to go with Holly's elfin princess.  They are very into the whole "Lord of the Rings" thing.  Megan and I skipped the mall and went to a new dollar store, a craft mall and Aldi's for baking supplies.  We are going to make cookies this evening as part of our Mom & Megan day.
    We finally finished clearing out the garden this week.  What a jungle it had become!  We aren't sure we want to go the garden route next year.  We are so busy that the weeds tend to get ahead of us quite a bit.  For us it might be better to buy vegetables and fruits in larger quantities when we want them and can them.  I can't imagine that we won't at least have a few rows of onions and some tomatoes, though.  One thing is for sure, the only way a garden will go in is if we put down plastic first!
    The chickens are exasperating.  Still no eggs.  I'm not sure what the problem is, but Tim bought me a copy of Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens last weekend when we were at Barnes and Noble.  I'm sure the answer is in there somewhere!  The other thing is that all but one of the roosters have got to go.  They don't fight or anything and they aren't mean when we go in the coop, but they eat...AND EAT and they're all crowing now.  It gets quite noisy in the mornings.  Tim is in charge of butchering and just hasn't had the time.  I am keeping the largest.  He is really quite big and handsome and I am going to try raising a few of my own in the spring.  Providing the buggers ever start laying.
    I took some of my pickles to work the other day, both dill and sweet.  Wow!  They sure went over big.  The ladies are asking for both recipes.  I will have to clear it with Wanda since I used her dill recipe.  All of us bring in things for the others to taste.  You just never know what you might find on the table.  In the last week we've had my pickles, pickadilly, fried green tomatoes and taco soup.  We have a new driver that used to be a chef at a rather upscale restaurant in Pittsburgh and he has promised to bring us all kinds of soups this winter.  Yummy!  This could be really bad for any diet I might go on.....but a couple of us have started walking before the afternoon routes.  We walk about a half mile up the highway to a used book store, browse and then head back.  Whew!  It's up hill with coal trucks and other traffic whizzing by.  Gets the heart going in more ways than one.
    We heard from our attorney this week and now know that the meeting with our creditors in the bankruptcy is October 27.  I am so not looking forward to that.  I hope it goes better than it usually does when you speak to them on the phone.  They sure have a way of making you feel like scum because you are in debt.  I'm sure they run into plenty of people who have no intention of ever paying, but it would be nice if they at least gave you the benefit of the doubt until they knew one way or the other by your actions.  We are praying it all goes well and they all agree with the plan our attorney came up with.  If not, we won't be able to proceed with the bancruptcy.  That would really stink.
    I've started my Christmas shopping.  I made a layaway at Kmart the other day with a couple toys Megan has mentioned wanting and some clothes.  I like doing layaway because I can get what I want before they run out and they will adjust the prices as things go on sale so I end up paying much less than it says on the receipt.  I got quite a few games for both her and Matt.  I am hoping to encourage more sitting around playing games and less sitting around watching television or playing video games.  I've picked up a few things for my mom and her husband, too.  I'm working on some large latch hook rugs, too.  I don't have anyone in mind for them yet.
    The company I work for has its own charity (doesn't have a name) that is run by what is called the Care Committee.  I got involved this year and am the representative for the drivers in the Derry school district.  I'm very excited about it.  The company finds out from each school district the names of students that most likely will not be having much, if any, Christmas.  Each child makes a wish list....they usually include more practical things than toys....and then we go out and try to get as many of the things on the lists that we can.  Once in a while they do more like buying fuel oil or a washing machine.  We'd like to do more of that type thing throughout the year so we are really looking for fundraising ideas and sponsors.  I've managed to find a grocer willing to give a turkey to each family!  Food is something we've never given before.  After all the gifts are purchased we have a big wrapping party.  They are delivered to the schools and the schools get them to the families.  The families never know where they came from.
    Megan is asking to start dinner....mostly so we can get it over with and start on the cookies, so I guess I'd better get to it.  I hope where ever you are, you are being blessed with this beautiful Fall weather and the ability to enjoy it.

Carpe diem!