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2016 in Review:: Our Year on a 5 Acre Iowa Homestead

2016 has come and gone and I have not shared a single recap of our year or popular posts. I really enjoyed the recap that I wrote of 2015 and decided to write another one!


2016 in Review

As I comb through the pictures I took last year, it appears that we spent more time away from the homestead in 2016 than actually on it! While that’s not really the case, there seem to be two clear highlights from 2016. The first is travel and the second is mostly finishing the Passive-Aggressive House.

Winter 2016 Yearly Review

Winter on the Homestead

We started 2016 quite comfortably in the Passive-Aggressive House. The winter was much more mild than it was the previous two years. The Passive-Aggressive house was warm and comfortable and much better than living in the barn, yet I spent a good portion of the winter frustrated {and one might even say, angry}. And mostly at the lack of closets in our house.

Not only was I angry at the lack of closets, but I was angry at myself for being angry!! No closets is such an ungrateful thing to be angry over, right? I mean, genocide and starvation are alive and real in this world, and I’m upset about closets? Yup. That’s me laying on the big ole Catholic guilt and I’m not even Catholic. 🙁

Progress did happen in the house over the winter, though. In early January we revamped the kids’ homeschool area with a bunch of awesome IKEA cabinets. The picture of the boxes above is the before and the picture of the bookshelves is the during. I haven’t shared an after yet, but vow do that. The kids’ bathroom vanity arrived in February. Before it got here, they had no sink upstairs and had to brush their teeth in the powder room on the first floor. Also pictured is my temporary pantry which has since be re-done with permanent built-ins. I’ve been sharing facebook live videos of the house on my personal facebook page, and if you’re interested in seeing them, I might be pursuaded to share them on the SimplifyLiveLove facebook page too! Leave me a comment and let me know. 

Spring on the Homestead

Spring Break in Florida

Spring arrived and we were all ready to get out of Iowa. So we did a lot of family traveling in Spring of 2016. The kids were still homeschooled at this point so we had no real reason to stay. The first trip we went on was an awesome spring break to Alabama and Florida to visit our dear friends. Both families we stayed with are such troopers to host all six of us every time we drive to Florida. We had a great time visiting places we’d been before and a few new ones too, and I even ran into a favorite cousin I hadn’t seen in years. Florida is such a great place for the kids {and adults too, let’s be real}.

2016 Year in Review - DC homeschooling on the road trip

Next was an equally amazing homeschooling-on-the-road trip to Washington, DC. The official purpose of the DC trip was business travel for our home-building company, but I managed to extend the trip quite a long time by visiting another amazing friend in Philadelphia and then also traveling with her and her children to DC. We had a great time visiting the Smithsonians and seeing the memorials and national government buildings. She then took her three boys and all four of my children back to her home in New Jersey while Dan and I attended our business meetings.  After the meetings, I went to her house for a few more days before we headed home. What kind of friend keeps your FOUR kids on her own for several days?! I truly have amazing friends.

spring on the homestead 2016 in review

On the homestead front, we got a new little Great Pyrenees puppy playmate, Harry the Dirty Dog, to be friend and buddy to our Nora, and a bunch of  new chicks too, both meat birds and laying hens. The horrible round-up poisoning of my garden set the stage for a sad gardening season for me. It really demoralized me and although I tried to get it back together and keep gardening, my 2016 garden was a pretty big failure. I did no canning and we didn’t honestly eat all that much food from it either.

But the very exciting news at the Passive-Aggressive House in Spring of 2016 was the arrival of my bedroom closets in March (the first of the closets for the entire house). The rest of the closets, and the remaining kitchen cupboards, started arriving regularly after that, and by the beginning of summer, all closets had finally shown up and most of them were even installed by early fall!

2016 Year in Review, Spring in Florida

And the final awesome piece of news we received in the Spring of 2016, was at Sara’s yearly hip check up. Since her diagnosis of developmental dysplasia of the hip in 2011, we have seen her surgeon at least once per year, and usually there was a surgery involved. On her 6th birthday in May 2016, we got the fantastic news at her hip re-check that we don’t have to go back for another check up until 2018! The two year all clear news is something hip parents dream of hearing and we were so happy to finally get the news ourselves. Knock on wood that we will get great news in 2018 as well.

summer 2016 travel recap

Summer on the Homestead

Travel in the summer didn’t really slow down either. I took a whirlwind trip to Chicago with the North Iowa Bloggers and then surprised my little sister by heading out for her 40th birthday party at her home in Seattle. How she turned 40 while I’ve managed to stay 29 is beyond me. LOL!  I don’t think she was ultimately surprised, but it was a spur of the moment trip that I went on alone and it was such fun. I was also invited to tour Iowa Pig Farms and on an influencer  tour of NOW Foods in Chicago! Summer of 2016 was a lot of fun. 🙂

summer on the homestead 2016

On the homestead front, I raised 24 meat birds in Summer of 2016 and my freezer is full from those efforts. This was the second time we raised meat birds and I was much more successful with my efforts in 2016 than I was in 2015. Raising those meat birds was one of my big homestead successes for the year! The egg layers went nuts laying eggs and I did harvest a little bit of food in my garden.


Fall in Iowa

Fall started out well, but ended poorly. Perhaps it was even the hardest season of all, or maybe it only seems that way because it’s the freshest on my mind. It’s probably equally tied with winter, honestly. On a personal level, we did quite well. We made the decision to send all four kids to  public school and that has been a good decision. It was a hard transition, but I think it will be a good thing for all of our kids, and me too.

It meant I was able to do a lot of fun solo blog travel with trips back to Florida for the Type-A Parent Blogger Conference, Huntsville for the TBEX Conference Preview Trip, and my favorite, New Orleans for ShiftCon Eco-Wellness Influencer Conference, which was great. And I hosted a gathering of Iowa Bloggers from around the state which was just fabulous. Add in a couple more quick trips to Chicago for family fun as well as another home-building trip to Michigan, and you understand how crazy the fall was travel-wise.

On the homestead front, four of my egg layers froze to death during a really bad cold spell in December. For a period of three days every time I went to the chicken coop, I found a dead chicken or two. That was hard! We had some things going on in our home building business which were very emotional and no fun to deal with, and honestly, the election really got me down. I’m worried for the future of green ingenuity and decent treatment of human beings, and scared to see what the profit-first mentality will do to the country. I hope my fears turn out to be unjustified, but I guess time will tell.

And that my friends, was our 2016 in a nutshell! Thank you so much for being here and reading this long, rambling post. I appreciate you all and hope 2016 was a great year for you! 🙂

2016 in Review Our Year on a 5 Acre Iowa Homestead long pin


Saturday 7th of January 2017

I agree, the election was a drag. Worries, yes. We'll have to see how it plays out. I hope that I am wrong. Happy new year!

Michelle Marine

Saturday 7th of January 2017

Happy New Year to you too, Lori!


Friday 6th of January 2017

I would love to see videos or pictures of your finished house


Friday 6th of January 2017

what do you do when you have an over abundance of eggs? we will be venturing into chickens for the first time this year and Im wondering about what to do when you have too many?

Michelle Marine

Friday 6th of January 2017

That's a good question, Ann. With 6 people in my family, we eat a lot of eggs. I also sell extras though. Production is off right now with the winter, but when I picks back up I am going to experiment with freezing eggs. A good friend does it all the time, but I never have. :-)

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