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Homestead Vacation and Olive Trees

Homestead Vacation and Olive Trees

Blossom learns to knit

We took a short family vacation last week, a break from the homestead, relaxing and exploring areas of interest to expand our family vision.  I must admit it was so nice not to worry about managing our power and water supply, watering plants, or milking the cow and goats.  Checking our battery function and solar panel input, running the generator when needed, and keeping our water reservoirs full have become routine for us, but it feels like a real treat to go back to seemingly unlimited power and water for a few days.  And the Lord provided an experienced and  trustworthy person (thanks Brennan!) to look after things for three days while we were gone.

 The cabin in northern Florida was small but probably twice the size of our tiny house, so it felt big to us.  We enjoyed the luxuries of longer hot showers with unlimited water, a dishwasher, air conditioning, a gas fireplace (no firewood to cut), and lots of space.  Great family memories were made canoeing on the Suwannee River, making oil lamps and rag dolls, learning to knit, playing checkers, reading Scripture, singing together, visiting a dairy of grass-fed cows and goats, exploring an old sustainable working homestead, and even burning the gas fireplace at the same time we were using the a/c (how silly and wasteful)! 


Homestead Vacation and Olive Trees

Hangin' out at the ole' country store in White Springs, FL

But we were all happy to come home again.  We love our little homestead and simple off-the-grid lifestyle.  It is so rewarding to work together as a family, watching things grow (or die), and learning basic life skills.  It has been a pleasant surprise to discover how enjoyable it is to live closer to the soil, learning more and more about God’s designs in nature and how we benefit by living in harmony with them.  As mentioned in Romans 1:20, “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that [men] are without excuse.”

Homestead Vacation and Olive Trees

The 20 olive trees arrived in the mail in two small boxes, each moist root ball twist-tied shut inside a plastic bag, and they were coiled together snugly.

 Our first stop was at The Olive Grove, an olive tree farm near Brooksville, FL that promotes the use of olive trees as an alternative to citrus (as a cash crop).  Olive trees are more cold and drought resistant than citrus, grow well in sandy soil, and grow into beautiful shade trees that provide health-benefiting olive oil and leaves. 

A few months ago The Olive Grove was selling several varieties of olive trees that grow well in Florida (Arbequina and Koroneiki) at a discounted price, so we purchased 20.  So far they are doing great and we can’t wait for them to grow and start producing olives within the next two years. 

On the first day of our vacation we visited The Olive Grove for a workshop making olive oil lamps from clay.  Dede was a great teacher and we enjoyed learning more about olive trees and making lamps that burn olive oil as in the time of Christ.

Homestead Vacation and Olive Trees

Evenstar and Blossom shape their clay lamps

Homestead Vacation and Olive Trees

Honey Bun puts the finishing touches on her lamp

Homestead Vacation and Olive Trees

Our lamps hardened and dried on the mantle in the cabin for 48 hrs

Homestead Vacation and Olive Trees

Finally we could try one worked!

The campground we stayed at was the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park in historic White Springs, FL.  As a memorial to the author of the famous folk song “Old Folks at Home” (Way down upon the Swannee River…) there is a craft square of cottages where working craftsmen demonstrate cultural arts and traditions such as quilting, knitting, blacksmithing, pottery, and woodworking.  A Carillon Tower is home to the world’s largest tubular bell instrument, chiming the hours and giving daily concerts ringing out the tunes of Stephen Foster with its 97 bells.  We especially enjoyed singing hymns together in the acoustically-alive cathedral-like museum room at the base of the Carillon Tower.  We hoped to take our violins and flute in there for a practice, but ran out of time.

Homestead Vacation and Olive Trees

We enjoyed the concerts by the Carillon (in the tower)

Homestead Vacation and Olive Trees

Two future blacksmiths pose in the blacksmith shop

Homestead Vacation and Olive Trees

The younger girls made old-fashioned rag dolls

Many of the volunteer craftsmen were not working during the days we were there (Mon-Wed), but it was still an educational experience and Blossom was finally able to learn the skill of knitting from a sweet lady in one of the cottages.  She’s been clicking those needles as fast as she can ever since.


Homestead Vacation and Olive Trees

One day we went canoeing on the Suwannee River

Homestead Vacation and Olive Trees

"Far, far away."

An upcoming post will be dedicated to our visit to Full Circle Farm in Live Oak, FL where the Stoltzfoos family raises grass-fed only dairy cows and goats (beyond organic), rotating them to new pasture regularly.   They challenged and stretched our thinking.   Another post will feature our tour of an early pioneer homestead established before the Civil War, called Dudley Farm.  This working farm has staff dressed in period clothing tending to crops and livestock, using mules for labor.  It holds a wealth of old ideas which can benefit us today.


Homestead Vacation and Olive Trees

The moveable goat barn/milking parlor at Full Circle Farm

Homestead Vacation and Olive Trees

The historic Dudley Farm

See you back soon!


Homestead Vacation and Olive Trees

Homestead Vacation and Olive Trees

Linked w/Creative Home & Garden Hop, Natural Living Mama, Chicken Chick, Barn Hop, Eco-Kids, Growing Home, Backyard Farming Connection, Down Home Blog Hop, Rock n Share, Frugally Sustainable, Country Homemaker Hop, Homemaking, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Wicked Good Wednesday, Natural Living, Tasty Traditions, HomeAcre Hop, Green Thumb Thursday, Live Renewed, Simple Lives Thur., Old Fashioned Friday, Little House in the Suburbs, From the Farm Blog Fest, Farmgirl Friday, and Simply Natural Saturday.

Homestead Vacation and Olive Trees

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20 Responses to “Homestead Vacation and Olive Trees”

  1. Southern Ladye says:

    What a wonderful vacation! Not only were you able to enjoy yourselves but it was full of educational experiences as well. Those are my favorite kinds of trips! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Jill says:

    Thanks for sharing your family’s experiences in the White Springs area. Although I have been on the Suwannee River, I have never explored all the great places you found in the area. I will definitely have to check out all these educational opportunities that are practically in my own back yard. Tell everyone they did a wonderful job on their oil lamps :)

    Also, I wanted to let you know I have quite a few cuccuzzi squash doing very well on my three vines! It is a very productive plant.

    May the Lord continue to bless your family.

    • Rose Petal says:

      I’m so glad to hear about your cucuzzi! I’m starting some new ones again too, and hope they do as well the second time around. I’d love pictures if you ever want to send me any.

      Too bad, we should have looked you guys up when we were in the area. I never thought of it!! It came up kind of suddenly and time got filled up fast.

      Blessings to you!

  3. I love the olive oil lamps! Very cool project for the kids. I’m totally gonna look up how to do that with my own kiddos. Thanks for sharing!! Always love what you guys have going on :)

    • Rose Petal says:

      Thank you for the encouraging words, Kendra. It is a great project for kiddos. I haven’t worked much with clay but it was simple enough (and I guess we had a good teacher).

  4. Vickie says:

    Those olive oil lamps are great! I want to make one! Will you be making olive oil with the olives you harvest from your trees? We are also going to plant olive trees, but we will be curing our olives. That little craft center you visited sounds so cool – and I would love to hear the bells from that beautiful tower! It looks like you had a great vacation!

    • Rose Petal says:

      The olive tree varieties we have are good for pressing for oil and for curing. I hope to do both, but I am looking forward the most to oil. And the leaves make a wonderful tea that tastes like black tea and have awesome medicinal qualities.

      Thank you for stopping by!

  5. ivylover says:

    Hey, sounds like you had a wonderful time… so needed now and then!!
    Wanted to share something I just started… to help aid digestion we have been using almost always almond milk, however I just found out that I can make it and it’s sooo simple I just have to share this
    Almost 3 cups of water to one cup of soaked almonds, blend and strain and then I’ve been finding ways to use the mealy part that I strain off it’s like a nut spread. Hope u like it if you try it!!:)

    • Rose Petal says:

      I’ve never tried almond milk, but I’ve heard good things about it. Can you buy the almonds inexpensively somewhere? Do you soak whole almonds, unroasted, and how long? Thanks for sharing!

  6. Phyllis says:

    What an awesome vacation. I would have loved to have met you and your beautiful family. I am 30 miles from the park. You are making memories with those young folks that they will remember for a life time. God bless you and your homestead.

  7. D@TheShadyPorch says:

    Sounds like a wonderful time for the whole family! Thanks for sharing! Blessings, D@TheShadyPorch

  8. I’m so glad you were able to take a well deserved break! Thanks so much for sharing on The Creative Home & Garden Hop! I can’t wait to see what you share today :)

  9. Looks like a lovely vacation. Thanks for sharing with us at The HomeAcre Hop!

    Please join us again Thursday for our special harvest themed hop at:

  10. bobbi says:

    I was wondering if you guys had a way to subscribe via email? I have you on igoogle right now but they are going away.
    Thanks, ?Bobbi

    • Rose Petal says:

      Hello Bobbi,
      I need a better way. You can use the RSS feed which is the little orange sign-looking thing in the upper right corner and see if that works for you. I tried installing an email subscribe button a few months ago and it shut the whole blog down for a little while. I’m not very techy so I’m not sure what happened. But I really would like to get a better system for those who want to follow by email. We have the newsletter email list (for newsletters we haven’t been writing) which we could use to send a notice out every time I write a new post, so I’ve considered using that. If you have any other ideas, let me know.