Making the Most With What We Have
Welcome to our brand new series here on Little House Living, “Making the Most With What We Have”! This series will showcase individuals and families all over the US (and even outside the US!) that are making the most of what they have. We know that you can be a modern homesteader without 160 acres of land and a mule so this series will share the stories of these families so we can get a peek into their lives and learn from each other.
Today we are learning about Alycea’s Story…
Where Do You Live?
We have taken the leap to follow our wine making dream, in our middle age, and have moved to France, near Chablis, in Burgundy. After moving around making wine for others in a number of countries, we decided on France.
We took on a guardianship (looking after the animals and security of a property) of a ‘petite’ Chateau to give us a place to live, and save money, whilst we determined if this was the life we wanted. One year in and we are pursuing the homesteading lifestyle, growing our own veg, making the most of what we have and managing a small vineyard.
What Are Your Dreams and Goals for Your Homesteading Journey?
Our long term goals are to make and sell our own wine supported by a successful online shop. The thing about wine is it can be a fickle mistress. Most people enjoy the end result without thinking of it as an agricultural product, susceptible to the whims of the weather, bugs, birds, and disease. Due to its uncertainty, particularly on a small scale, we have also recently opened an online Etsy shop to sell items we upcycle and wildcraft. In addition we have started a large vegetable garden to help feed us, initially because of little income, but more because we have come to believe in a healthy lifestyle, one where we know where our food has come from, that there are no chemicals involved and no food miles.
How Are You Making the Most With What You Have?
We’ve discovered the multiple uses of herbs. We have a beautiful herb garden, with more herbs than we knew what to do with. So we started researching. Lavender we always knew helped you sleep, but now we put into the bath or steep it in sugar to bake with. Sage is tasty in food, but also makes a great tea for those of us in our middle years. St John’s Wort steeped in oil helps us with cricked necks after a hard day in the vineyard. We now make all our own teas, tinctures, oils and lotions from what we have in our garden. Some of which we also now sell in our shop.
What Are Some Things You Have Learned So Far?
It was our rabbits not wanting to eat broccoli from a supermarket, but who would chomp their way through our own garden produce in 5 minutes that really made us question food and its sources, and to re-think what we put in our bodies. Having a very limited income as well helps us review what we have to hand and not waste anything. We’ve become masters at recycling what looks like nothing into something we can use. We’ve learned so many things in consequence, from drying and storing walnuts to making a hanging garden bed for those quiet times. Now, we look with new eyes to what we can turn our hands to next. The creative world is truly our oyster.
Share Your Favorite Recipe!
As advocates of no waste, one of my pet hates was always broccoli stems. I know one can chop them up and sauté, but lets face it, no one likes the stem as much as the florets. My favorite recipe makes use of the broccoli stems (as well as walnuts from our garden) in a Broccoli Walnut Pesto. Fresh, light and zingy, and so easy to make (and cheaper than normal pesto with pine nuts). And if walnuts are not to hand, substitute almost any nut, and it works almost equally as well.
1 clove garlic
2 broccoli stems, cut into pieces
1/2 cup walnuts
juice from half a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Chop garlic in food processor until as fine as you like it.
Add broccoli stems and lemon juice to the processor and pulse until chopped. Add walnuts and pulse again until chopped.
With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until you get a pesto consistency you like.
Season with salt and pepper.
Share With Us One Unique Tip That Has Helped You
Pallets are amazing! They are strong and have so many re-uses. We have yet to find the limit of what we can do with them.
We discovered our local hardware shop would let us have them for free. We duly hauled home whatever we could fit in the back of the car.
We sometimes take them apart for the wood (great for fixing parts of the chicken and duck house) or keep them whole for projects. We’ve turned pallets into a strawberry wall in the garden, a hanging bed in the orchard, and a headboard for our bed in our cottage. Next is planned, an outdoor sofa.
Your Favorite Useful Homesteading Item
The internet – it opens doors to new ideas, particularly when living in the isolated countryside. And a sharp knife!
Anything Else to Share?
If we are examples of nothing else, we would like people to realize that whatever age you are, you are never too old (or young) to pursue a dream.
Want to be a part of the Making the Most With What We Have Series? You can read about it and fill out the interview questions here.
Thank you Alycea for sharing your story with us!