Well, it’s been a while. What a year we’ve had! But believe it or not, this family of 6 is STILL living in a tiny house and we HAVEN’T died yet! Here’s a little catch-up:
Lockdowns in a tiny house aren’t bad, especially when you have plenty of acres and lots of beautiful spring weather to enjoy! We had such a nice place to park our house from Sept. 2019-Sept. 2020! We were on a turf and nursery farm backed up to a hazelnut farm and had plenty of paths to walk and ride bikes while staying off the busy road. It was a special time of rest and being together.
Land ownership has always been our deep desire… Trent and I have been exploring ways of having land to call our own for many, many years now. We always seemed to hit a wall, there was seemingly no way of buying land and being able to afford the mortgage. Finally we had an “aha” moment where we realized that if we could share land with my parents, we could have the land we so desired, while being a blessing to them by caring for them as they age (which is still several decades away). To our surprise, they were up for it!
In early 2020, Trent and I started looking with my mom and dad for property to buy. In July, we found a beautiful place with 10 acres and were so excited to move! But the move took on an ugly twist as wildfires picked up after a freak Labor Day east wind. We figured our special place up on the mountain was ashes, as the fires burned right into our new town. As the smoke cleared, we realized our mountain was untouched by fire, and our plan was able to go ahead.
I don’t have many pictures of this time. It was a very difficult time for our whole family, very overwhelming. I literally collapsed- mind, body, and spirit. But we kept plodding ahead and here is one of the most relieving moments of all: the house settled in it’s final resting place!
… And what a parking spot it has been. Nestled in the edge of a beautiful woods, views north of the big sky… the view out my kitchen window is lichens hanging luxuriously from fir branches. I couldn’t have asked for more. With a very difficult year behind us, we set out to start making all our years of dreams a reality.
I am excited to share our life with you as it unfolds. Our near plans involve growing most of our own food (thanks to a huge greenhouse we are erecting) and building a permanent home for our family. Yes, this means the end of life in the tiny house… but we still have a few more years of tiny living to enjoy.
Long-term dreams include farming garlic, herbs, and meat chickens… and whatever other opportunities come our way.
But for now, we wake up every morning in the tiny house, enjoying the fact that living in this beautiful house in a beautiful, quiet place is what we consider “normal life”.
The kids have adjusted pretty easily to the move and the new style of house. It has helped that we live on 5+ acres of land, full of new wonders for them, including a creek, a forest, and a shop for riding bikes.
Here is one of my tools to help life work better: Quiet time. (which, with kids aged 3-8, it isn’t super quiet, but maybe I could call it “quieter than usual time”) Here’s an example of a quiet time all through the house.
Tate’s quiet time in mommy’s loft… books and being alone.
Wade’s quiet time: pressing flowers
The girls’ quiet time: in their loft with Barbies and a Barbie book.
And our real key to success is what we’ve planned for all along: time outside. Which isn’t hard to achieve since the weather’s been so nice! Today we built a fort under a fallen oak branch.
Everyone knows how wonderful apple cider vinegar is, and the hype is very founded. It improves health and can have several household uses. I use it a variety of ways, from conditioner to salad dressing!
Here are some benefits of apple cider vinegar:
Maintains a healthy blood sugar
Lowers blood pressure
Helps with acid reflux
Has active cultures
If you buy raw apple cider vinegar with the “mother”, it is about $6-$10 per quart. That’s not really a bad price, but I’m always up for doing something myself and saving a little money!
Apple juice or apple cider. Some people say you can’t use pasteurized apple juice, but I have made it with pasteurized juice several times and it works just as well as the raw stuff. Sometimes you can get organic apple juice in a handy glass jug, then you can just ferment it right there in the jug!
Raw, unpasteurized apple cider with the “mother”. This is your starter, which has good bacteria hungry for apple juice!
Pour your cider into a glass jar or jug. Make as much or as little as you like!
Add a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. The vinegar starter’s good bacteria will begin to eat the sugars and convert them into vinegar.
Cover with a cloth and a rubber band.
Let it sit for 2-3 months.
After a week of fermenting, it will become bubbly and taste like sparkling cider. You can stop there and enjoy the best sparkling cider you’ve ever had. But you’ll probably feel guilty about that decision when you’re back at the store buying a bottle of ACV.
Then comes what I call the “nail polish remover phase”. I have never drunk nail polish remover, but I can imagine it would taste like this. You will think your project has failed. You will want to give up. But trust me, if you let it go a little while more, you will have vinegar.
It is ready to use when it is super sour and has lost the nail polish remover taste. It does take a long time to ferment, but it requires very little of your time and effort. Gotta love projects like that!
We have been blessed to be able to forage windfall apples near our house, so we went the extra mile on this apple cider vinegar batch and made our own apple cider. We juiced our free apples to make completely free apple cider vinegar.
Turning our fresh cider into vinegar is a good way to make the cider shelf-stable and enjoyable all year long. I am thankful for my freezer and refrigerator, but I am always interested in finding ways to use them less and less.
It looked like apples pooped all over my table but let me tell you, that was the best cider I have ever had.
It was a fun Sunday afternoon activity for us to all do together. It almost felt like an apple party. I have really enjoyed preserving seasonal food more and more every year. It makes me thankful that I don’t have to completely rely on my preservation skills for our all of our wintertime food, and it also makes me admire the women who didn’t have grocery stores or refrigerators.
Once the cider was made, we poured it into various jugs and jars.
Instead of using a starter, I’m using the “mother” that has formed most generously from a previous batch. It is similar to a Kombucha SCOBY in that it is made of bacteria and yeast. It has a similar texture and feel as a SCOBY.
Lastly, I set the jugs on top of my fridge where they will live for several months! (As you can see, I don’t clean the top of my fridge.)
The foam on top is because the juice is unfiltered. I will filter it after it becomes vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar is a great project to kick off your fermenting journey with– it is simple and rewarding.
It is now December 13th, and the vinegar is totally done. It took about 3 months to lose its “nail polish remover” taste. It is the most sour thing I have ever tasted in my life! It has a great flavor and is pretty concentrated. I only ended up with a little more than a gallon. I think some of it evaporated as it fermented. This stuff loves to make big freaky white mothers though!