I’ll Leave the Light on for You

After nearly three days without water due to a broken foot valve in our well and the time it took to replace it, we are back in water which quite frankly means we are back in life. There is a part of me that embraces life’s hiccups and challenges as it seems to be the only sure way I can get through my noggin how best to endure such scenarios should they happen again. Something about experience being the best teacher. This particular hiccup happened during a stretch of hot days with record breaking humidity, which if you know about heat and humidity, you know it’s the record breaking humidity – not the heat – that makes things dangerously unbearable. We and our more than 70 animals made it through unscathed, thanks to our nearly 1,000 gallons of stored rainwater and drinking water, a pump to move water to the animals, a Berkey to filter it for the humans, and my trusty little hand-pumped sprayer contraption that we made years ago as a showering and dishwashing backup. Systems fell pretty easily into place that first morning when I awoke to no water from the faucet. By 6:30am I’d heated water from our stored water bricks and added it to the hand-pumped sprayer to wash the remaining sticky dishes from processing peaches the night before. I suppose that was another reminder to get all of my dishes washed before going to bed! At least it was easy to mobilize Plan B so I could take care of them as quickly as possible, before the heat of the day. 

The other reminder was the reality that the recommended minimum of 1 gallon per person per day is out the window when you have a lot of animals and are having extreme weather. My general practice is 3 gallons per person per day, but add in preservation season, wicked heat, and a lot of animals, and let’s just say we called in the support of our rainwater catchment pretty quickly. 



All in all, things moved along, the well eventually got fixed, harvest was preserved, and animals thrived. We even have a new resident frog living in one of the pigs’ wallows and he’s a pretty cute fella. 

This week I’ve been preserving green and wax beans, peas, and tomatoes. So many tomatoes this year and they are ripening earlier than ever. At this point I’ve only canned spaghetti sauce, and this year’s batch is my favorite yet. After a few years of our Vitamix being broken, we finally fixed it which means no more peeling tomatoes! I do remove the seeds, but even that probably isn’t necessary. I bet the Vitamix would pulverize those as well. So easy to just pop them into the machine and have the whole fruit pureed into a smooth, silky, slurry. The richness of flavor and texture is quite noticeable in the finished sauce with this method.  



I’ve been going through our extended pantry and getting things dusted, washed, and organized for winter. I do this at least twice a year and it’s proven to be the best way I know of to “inventory” our supplies. Spreadsheets or thorough inventory lists are popular methods for keeping track, but I prefer to regularly have my hands and eyes on things and see for myself where we stand. It is an embarrassingly simple method but it works for me so I stick with it. 

We are deep into cricket season with at least one sneaking into the house each day. We escort them out as quickly as possible because they do not know how to use inside voices. Bees and goldfinches have made homes among the golden, sky-reaching sunflowers. The big apple tree has dropped nearly half its bounty which we’ve taken to piling in the wheelbarrow, and parking it next to the pigs. We toss a few in whenever we walk by. There is still plenty on the tree which will be stored in barrels for wintertime treats of sunshine.  



Thankfully the oppressive humidity has passed, water has returned to our faucets, harvests continue to roll in, and we are currently enjoying our daughter being home for the week. No matter how grown and independent our kids become, they will always be home when spending time with us. It’s like they have two homes, the one they make on their own and the one that is provided for them whenever they need a soft place to land or the comfort of home cooking. I remember this with my own parents’ home, and am especially thrilled to see the same for our daughter. 

In photos and words, this is a bit of what has been happening here over the last week; please know how much I appreciate you stopping by to share in my days. I will be returning to Instagram in September, I believe, but the more that I post here the more reluctant I feel about it. I hope to find a better balance between the two spaces because there is a valuable archival element unique to blogging, and I do not wish for it to fade away. Please stop by again soon, I’ll be sure to leave the light on for you. 

23 Responses

  1. Thanks for the lovely post. Glad you are surviving and thriving . You are definitely spot on with your description of home. May it always be a place of soft landing .

  2. Thank you for sharing. I appreciate your blog. Instagram is so hard to filter out but blogs are wonderful and private.
    I am currently in ‘transition’ of my life, but am wanting to slow down and take time to grow some of my food, and support people who take the time and care about what they grow also. Getting away from mainstream everything! lol.
    Anyway, thanks. 🙂

  3. Thank you for continuing to post blogs. A lot of folks I know, including myself, do not subcribe to the various social media platforms, but enjoy reading blogs. I used to suscribe to several blogs, but they have all discontinued and gone on to other media platforms. I know I read way faster than sitting through a 30 minute vlog, and it is frustrating trying to find the info I am searching for in the middle of a video! I must be a very old fashioned grandma! Again, thank you for the time you take to write, and for the beautiful photos. Your experiences have helped me many times.

  4. How good that you could be resilient, and keep on keeping on with this hiccup. I enjoy IG, but definitely love coming to visit in this space. Home as a place of soft landing sounds like a perfect description.

  5. looks like you had an amazing opportunity to test your water security systems (thinking here of our Hearth & Home member content).
    You’re so right about “home”. My parents’ place – wherever they’ve lived – has always been home for me, even as I’ve made a home for my own family. I have a strong sense of home with my kids and husband, wherever we are, and a strong sense of home with my parents (even as a middle-aged woman, my parents are part of my sense of home.)
    We have recently decided to move to my parent’s rural property in NS when we are done living in Montreal, where we currently live to help support our kids through their university years. It will be just my husband and I moving (my kids are all young adults) unless some our grown kids move also, which is a possibility. I’m trying to make that option as attractive for them as possible, as a shared 3-generation family property would be the ultimate “home” dream come true for me.
    Anyway, I love all discussions of home.

  6. Hello Heather,
    It’s always a special time when I see your name pop up in my e-mail! I make sure I find a nice bit of quiet time to read and reflect on your photos and writing/journaling. Yes, you have done well with preparing for emergencies and so glad things are fixed again. Lovely photos of your homestead…I’m sure you’re still “pinching” yourself to realize that all of those years of dreaming and planning have now come to fruition for you and your husband.
    Thank you for sharing with us.

  7. I will say, I think your posts have enticed me to get back to my own blog. I’ve put it on a hiatus the last few months due to lack of inspiration.
    And goldenrod already blooming??? I’m drooling—ours will be soon.

  8. I love your blog, Heather! It is always a peaceful place to come to relax, while learning at the same time.:) Your photos are lovely!
    Thanks for continuing to write.

  9. I so appreciate these posts and I prefer them to Instagram. It feels more like an old fashioned letter to a friend. All your produce and canning looks yummy. I love that feeling of being stocked and ready for winter! Thank you Heather for providing this calm and helpful space.

  10. It’s nice to hear that there are parents that keep their doors open for their grown children. Not all families do this. The ones that do, are fortunate.

  11. Please continue to write your blog. It is so much easier to read and absorb than Instagram. You have such a descriptive style of writing that comes through so beautifully in your blogs.

  12. I so enjoy your blog posts so would love more. The photo’s that accompany the blog are always so beautiful.

  13. I had no idea you could just blend the tomatoes, peels and all, in the Vitamix to make sauce. I’m trying this with our next harvest for sure, I hate peeling them and it turns out I never use crushed tomatoes for anything except making sauce, so I canned sauce with all of our spring tomatoes. I’d like to put some diced tomatoes up in the fall as well, but sauce comes first as we use a lot more of it in our family. Thanks for sharing that tip!

  14. Thank you, Melissa! I remember those days when blog reading was an activity we could set aside time for, to catch up with everyone over a cup of tea. So few of us remain, at least in the blog circles I am familiar with.

  15. We have been reading your blog for a while now and always love the updates about the ridge. If I may ask… what model Vitamix do you have? We just finished our 3rd batch of tomato sauce and well let’s say the food mill has gotten quite the work out removing the seed and any missed skins and seeing your post mentioning the Vitamix caught my attention. I quickly looked up the Vitamix and saw a few different models and didn’t know what was best for tomatoes… what features were most needed and what features are not worth it for general household use. What else do you use yours for? It’s a bit pricey for just tomatoes, but after a day spent milling and such I am so tempted! We of course have regular food processors, but they don’t come close to being strong enough to get rid of skins and seeds.
    And while I am asking questions… We are from the town over from your old place in CT… where do/did you get your peaches from? We have tried a couple places locally and found them to be mealy/pithy… entire family loves peaches so knowing someone locally grows some good ones has me hopeful we can find some.

  16. So sorry for my slow reply! We have the Vita Prep, but it is from 2010 I believe so it may have changed since then.
    I imagine all Vitamix models could handle pureeing tomato skins… maybe their customer service could guide you specifically.
    We use our Vitamix for smoothies; grinding coffee; finely chopping onions, garlic and peppers for spaghetti sauce; making apple cider (we don’t have a cider press)… I used to use it for making nut milks and vegan desserts that required a lot of pureed cashews but don’t really eat those things anymore so do not use it for that. It’s so handy and powerful.
    In Lebanon the farm is called Bluebird Hill I believe. They are not organic (don’t think any fruit farm is in CT), but the family has been so good to us we love to support them and the peaches are amazing. I always get the freestone for canning. I’ve never had a mealy peach from them!

  17. Thank you for getting back to me and never apologize for the time it takes as life has a way of going by too quickly no matter our best intentions. Just last week my husband was able to take a rare few days off and we stayed on Cross Rd… you know the place. The peace and quiet on the ridge are just what we needed… I personally can never get enough of the air up there. We were only able to sneak in a few days and wanted to stop by your place to introduce ourselves, but the timing didn’t work. Perhaps next summer. My husband also reads your blog and loves to hear about your gardens so he was hoping to see them in person.
    Vitamix – I will look into it further. I made strawberry fruit leather from our strawberries this spring and the Nutri-bullet did a great job of breaking down the strawberry seeds, but the size is obviously not conducive to making tomato sauce so I was looking to see what other options there were when I happened upon your comments on the Vitamix. I am going to look into that more and your idea to contact support sounds like just the plan! If you have a moment (and perhaps I can find it online) how would the Vitamix work for making cider? You have me curious now! I tried nuts in our food processor once and the beating the bowl took was horrible, from clear to completely opaque. The nuts didn’t chop well either, so I stopped trying. If I recall, the one time we tried to make tomato sauce in it the seeds were still whole, although I can’t remember what it did for the skins. Tomatoes are pretty much done down here in CT, at least in quantities for canning for us at least so perhaps I will try next year… more research to be done!
    Peaches – When you told me where you went… I am still chuckling. We live literally about 0.7 miles north of them, and drive by all the time. I have just never gotten peaches there. We have always gone to Woodstock orchard or the orchard in Eastford. And we went there mostly because my grandmother lived up in that direction so it was for sentimental reasons mostly, but as I said their peaches are not the best. The apples are usually great as are their berries however, and so we have just gone years without good fresh peaches. There used to be a farm stand in St. J. right off exit 22 that brought in the best PA peaches but they closed years ago. Another thing to look into next year! So crazy that I just never stopped in to get any fruit there and we live right down the road!
    Thank you again for getting back to me and for all of the information. Enjoy your fall season!