Homestead Update: Our First Open House, Aphid Invasions, and Birthdays

Hey, all! How are you this week? To be quite honest, this week was rough for me. I had a lot of anxiety episodes, a lot of tears, and for the past few days I have just been feeling physically ill and worn out. I don't necessarily mention a lot of health issues on here because, well, they don't tend to bother me on a regular basis. Our family is very blessed to have fantastic health. In high school, I first started having anxiety attacks on a bi-monthly basis from stress. They usually happened after I had overworked myself. I'm also anemic, so if my iron levels are low, I can get really irritable and ill. With all of that in mind, it's probably been well over four years since I had a major panic attack, and I was suddenly hit with one earlier this week. Oh wow, it was awful, and as always embarrassing! Even though it shouldn't be, I still felt like a complete failure as I broke down with fear and stress and anguish. I wrote about this on my personal Instagram a few days ago, and it was so nice to hear from you all about similar situations or even just words of encouragement. I definitely think vulnerability is a great tool to use to make friends and learn about others, learn their stories. Our stories are very important, even when we're embarrassed by them. 

With the stress came physical illness, which is just wild, isn't it? How do our bodies do that just by worrying over something. So, I'm still kind of on the mend. I'm still stressed, but I'm trying to give myself room to breath and relax. There are a lot of changes coming to the business, things that will hopefully make both my and Jill's workload feel lightened. And that's good. I have really been liking having less blog posts throughout the week. I feel like I can really nail down our focus now! I am hoping that giving myself a true schedule and work focus will help me to enjoy more of the things that I love, like cooking and taking small trips out and about. It's been a while since I just sat and thought about nothing without feeling guilty!

Our first Open House is today! If you are joining us from Iowa City and the surrounding areas, you should definitely come stop by and say hello! Kalona and Wellman will be bustling with fun late spring activities. There's a junk and craft show happening at The Barn in Wellman, Byways Tours of the Amish countryside, and our friends down at The Shop are always busy on this weekend! We're right in the middle of all of the fun, so we hope you can take a minute or two to come say hi. From 9 AM to 5 PM today and tomorrow, we will be here giving tours of our tiny homestead, sharing our upcoming class schedule, and you can shop our showroom. It's going to be so fun!

The garden just keeps growing larger and larger, more green with every day. I went out on Monday and discovered aphids were infesting a few of our dear plants. Ugh! Why was I hoping that this wouldn't happen to me? You read all about how detrimental insect pests can be to your garden, yet I figured that it couldn't possibly be that bad. While our infestation isn't too horrible, I was still really sad to find giant holes in all of my eggplants and little green eggs laid all over the undersides of the leaves. They got to my tomatoes and potatoes as well. Grr!! I ended up looking up organic solutions to aphids and came up with spraying the plants with dish soap and rosemary essential oil diluted in water. I had both of those things on hand, hurried in the house, and got to spraying. 

When I came back outside the next morning to check if my solution had been successful, it seemed that I had attracted even more aphids! What the heck!!! So, not sure how exactly that was supposed to deter them, but I ended up ordering some Captain Jack's Deadbug after a couple of recommendations by a few of you. I'll have to let you know how it goes. It's certified organic, so I am hoping for the best!

Other than that, we discovered our first harvestable veggies - radishes! Yay! I was weeding in the onion bed, where the radishes and carrots, as well as lemon balm, summer savory, and cilantro are planted. There were some pretty ruby colored radish head poking out of the soil, so I started to uncover them. They were already huge! We found four radishes that were ready to be eaten, and picked them happily. What a treat! We enjoyed one all together as a family that night, finally feeling the overwhelming joy of growing our own food. Silly as it is, it still kind of felt unreal until that moment, each of us with a tiny piece of radish in hand. The next afternoon, we sliced up the remaining ones and put them on our salads. It was the best! I cannot wait until the other vegetables are ready.

It also made me realized that I need to start figuring out which plants needed to be replenished throughout the season. For example, I believe I only have about 20 radishes planted this year. If we want more, I believe I'll be able to plant a second set after these are ready to harvest. The same goes for all of my lettuces. I'll have to get some new seed trays started in the greenhouse this week! The lettuces are starting to look about ready to harvest as well!!

One of our favorite things to do as a family in the evenings is to all gather up in the car and go for a long drive out in the country. There are so many winding and hidden roads where we live that are just so entertaining to travel down! It always feels like an exciting little adventure in your own neighborhood, and I don't think that I will ever tire of it. I always brag about how beautiful the countryside of Iowa is to strangers and even friends, because I honestly think it's some of the most beautiful wilderness I've seen! Did you know that Iowa is 92% farmed land and it provides for 1/10th of the USA's food? I learned that in one of Tad's books - ha! But after living in another rural community for a majority of my life, living in a major city and suburbs, and now traveling all across small town USA, I've come to really love this place. To me, Iowa is like a hidden gem. The rolling hills make me think of places in far off lands, the sight of gorgeous wild blooms and livestock happily eating and living in the fields is a reminder that life is simple and sweet. Living in Illinois, all you ever saw was confinement and flat land. Being around these organic, Amish farms is really inspiring. 

I've really been trying to work on my manual camera skills lately. It's something I've learned many times before, always reverting back to using simpler techniques and quick fixes. Every time I bring out my DSLR, I learn something new and realize that it's really a lot less scary and confusing than I thought before. I like that about photography. I also tend to feel like I'm faking my way through it, because I wasn't educated in photography skills or editing skills. It's all things that I've taught myself, yet I feel like I can be an expert in crafting because you can't really get a degree in that. Even though I'll never title myself as a professional photographer, I have been messing around with DSLRs for about ten years now, and I have to say that those skills just continue to evolve over time and maybe one day I'll feel confident enough to call myself a professional. 

I sent out a survey several weeks ago prompting you all to see if you might be interested in taking online classes with us. One of the questions I asked was which type of class you might want to take, and a majority of you said photography and photo editing. That was really surprising! Again, I feel like I don't have the proper skills to teach that, but maybe it's something I'll continue to think about! What do you think?

On Tuesday, we celebrated my dad's 49th birthday. His favorite type of cake is German Chocolate, so I tried my best to make that! As you can see, I am the world's worst cake decorator!!! Do you remember Tad's birthday cake this year? Baha! Oh, wow. So lopsided. At least this one could stand up straight, but the frosting was just melting down the sides. That's what you two get for having warm weather birthdays! Anyway, it was such a beautiful night talking about our continual plans for the garden. Happy birthday, Dad!

Have any fun weekend plans?

xoxo Kayla