Thursday, December 8, 2016

Goodbye Fall, Winter is Coming

The crisp air is fading to Jack Frost kisses. Snow has fallen. Much hot chocolate has already been consumed. Still, winter has not officially arrived.

Though, it is my least favorite of seasons, I still dream of a white Christmas. The reminder of how, by the blood of Jesus, our sins are washed away and we are made new.

Currently, my husband is re-building the ice rink in the back yard. Hopefully, this year, I will, finally, be able to try ice skating. Crazy, I know! How could I live in cold places and manage to never ice skate before?

Things are going ok with our cows. So far our efforts to breed the mom and heifer have been unsuccessful. However, the calf is getting big and doing fantastic. We aren't sure, yet, if we'll breed her or eat her. Being part jersey,  I'd like to try, but she doesn't like to be handled much. We also have a young bottle angus calf. I must say, though they are only a month apart, he doesn't  compare much to our jersey-shorthorn. She's being raised on mother's milk, (we milk share), hay, alfalfa pellets, and the occasional scoop of grain. He is also mostly on hay, but gets grain everyday!  I look forward to having our own cows' offspring on the dinner table. 

Speaking of milk sharing, our cow is a hoarder. She gives more milk when my husband milks her than when I do. On average she gives me half a gallon. Every once in awhile, I manage to get close to a gallon. My husband usually gets 1 1/4 gallons. Sometimes, he gets as much as 2. We have a milking machine, so it isn't how I milk her. I know there is more there because I see her calf going to town when I put them back together.

Regardless, we enjoy the milk we do get. We've started aging some cheddar and Parmesan. I've got jars of feta in the fridge. I did end up getting a yogurt maker and have made a few batches of it. I like to add berry compote to it. If we could get more cream from her, I'd love to make ice cream and butter.

Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about, or gotten rid of our sheep. They have been divided up into their breeding groups and should all, hopefully, be pregnant by the end of the month. They aren't fans of the cows, which can be a downside when they are on the same pasture, but they all seem to be doing well.

There isn't much to say about our turkeys and chickens. Our chickens took a hiatus from laying eggs, for some reason, but at least one has started laying again. Hallelujah!

Thoughts of next year's productions, are already on my mind. I'd like to try building incubators with the boys as a project and seeing if we can hatch some poultry with them. Garden plans are brewing. Even, thoughts of hunting and foraging are dancing around my mind. I hope to have a full larder, a full house, and an overflowing heart over the next year.

I really don't like to see fall go. I hate being cold. However, right now, the hope of what is coming, should Christ not return, is bringing a joy to my heart and an excitement for winter.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Fall is in the Air

The crisp chill of fall is reaching forth into the mornings and evenings, with the fog rolling in along side her. I know she hasn't arrived yet, still, I hear her whispering her comforting warmth into my heart. My favorite of seasons. Summer and it's busyness is fading, into the still chaotic, yet calmer days of autumn.

Burnt out, I skipped most of blackberry harvesting and am close to missing out on this years grape harvest. I have yet to turn my frozen strawberries into jam. However, I've already been able to harvest some potatoes and a lot of tomatoes. What has me most excited is the sight of my pumpkins, which I wasn't holding much hope for, due to lack of rain. Yet, we have some and they are looking beautiful.

We've also welcomed new members to our farm. We had thought of waiting until next spring, but found a milking shorthorn, with her heifer and calf. Being the spontaneous type, my husband suggested we dive and so we did. I have never really liked milk before, but I know now, I just don't like store milk. I have yet to add chocolate to this liquid goodness. We have made butter, ricotta, a soft spreadable cheese, milk bread, ice cream and some other yumminess. I am hoping to get a yogurt maker soon as well.

With fall comes school for the girls, life learning for the boys, and baking/crafting time for me. I look forward to fresh baked breads, hot cocoa, and some kind of needlework or reading and snuggle time by the fire, as the rain pelts the windows.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

A Moment of Appreciation

You know it is a hot day when I can completely soak my thick, curly hair with the hose and 10 mins later it's half way dry. It dried completely, after 20. This is very unusual. Usually it finally stops dripping after 30 minutes to an hour. That's the kind of hot day it is. I am not a hot or cold kind of person. I like things more temperate, yet, I braved the outdoors and am glad I did. I actually took time to enjoy it.

In doing so I allowed myself to see how blessed I am with the ability to go out with my husband and set up temporary fencing for our sheep to graze a hay field. Tonight, I will escort them back to their paddock and tomorrow we will take them back out. I am free to forage and there is much to be gathered. Really, I am free. For us, our farm is a hobby. It benefits our family and helps to provide food for our tables. We have the confidence that, if needed, we could live off our land. We don't do it because we have to. We do it because we want to and we can. How amazing is that? To be able to choose this life.

I know my life isn't glamorous, romantic, or really all that exciting, yet, it is wonderful - ups, downs, all of it. I have a husband, whom I love and care for. A husband that I've been through good, bad, and kind of ugly with. A husband who, in all his imperfections and my own, is mine and I am his. With that, we have been abundantly blessed with 6 amazing people to join our adventure. Brilliant, creative, wonderful gifts that we get to share life and wonder with. And we get to do it, here, on our farm. We get to connect them to their roots while teaching them how to fly. How to be who they are, but, hopefully, to also know where they came from and that they are always welcome here.

I'm truly richly blessed and, today, I am appreciating that.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Some Dreams Really do Come True

I started this year with so many hopes and dreams, knowing full well many wouldn't come to light. There is only so much I can do in a day and, often enough, my plans don't really work out the way I intend for them to. Yet, here I am, nearing the end of the 5th month of the year and am pleased at all that has been achieved.

We currently have 8 incubated chicks that just graduated to being free range. We also had 6 incubated turkeys hatch last week. Sometime this week a baby chicken hatched in a turkey nest, causing the hen, and 2 others, to throw out their eggs and tend only to it. At least we are up to 9 chickens now, and with so many hens guarding it, I can only imagine it will be fine. Along that line, there are two more turkey hens going broody in the barn with a huge nest of eggs. I am tempted to gather the eggs and throw them in the incubator if the hens don't settle with them soon. Wish the chickens would get broody enough to sit, as well.

Our garden is growing. We've discovered a lot of garlic thriving where we harvested last year. Apparently we missed some. The garlic we planted in the fall is also looking really good. We should have plenty, (I would hope), for the coming year! Sweet corn, popcorn, green and banana peppers, tomatoes and potatoes, green beans, broccoli and cauliflower, zucchini, yellow squash, slicing and pickling cucumbers, red and sweet Spanish onions are all planted. Will be planting my yellow onions tomorrow. I'm still trying to decide if I want to pot my herbs or plant them on the side of the porch and hope the chickens don't destroy them. Our asparagus isn't doing so well this year, though. With our dogs still somewhat out of commission, for pest control, the critters have been eating the tops off the stalks. Still plan to throw down some watermelon and pumpkins. Need to throw straw down over some of the plants, in hopes of maintaining some moisture in our sandy, rocky soil.

Our orphan lamb is doing terrific. Eating and growing, quite well. She does have a bad habit of slipping through the gate, though, and wandering around with my 3 year old as though she was his puppy. Today, I found them playing on the slip and slide.

Walking around, I've enjoyed seeing the growth of the cherries, mulberries, apples, black raspberries, blackberries, and wild grapes around the property. Hoping I'll actually be able to harvest all of these things. Haven't seen any morels so far. Last year my husband collected 2 and ate them both.

That's just the farm. The growth in my kids this year has been subtle, but there. I often don't realize the growth and developments, until really taking time to look back. The way Blessing #6 tries so hard to sit up on his own, laughs when I tickle him, coos right along with me as I sing, tries desperately to eat his hands and toes, and just watches everything! Blessing #5, naming and claiming our farm, and all, for himself. Getting out there and trying to take care of it on his own, when I am busy with other things. Blessing #4 finally getting, somewhat, interested in the alphabet. Learning to be more helpful and do more things around the house. Blessing #3 also. He has, finally, started showing some interest in reading and has figured out, for the most part, how to tie his own shoes.

I know many things my boys are "finally" learning, are often taught much sooner. Sometimes, it really is because I don't think about it, because it is such a small thing. Other times, it is because, in truth, they aren't ready or interested in learning it. I know, because I've tried. When they are, though, it comes quickly and easily.

Then there are Blessings #2 and #1, excelling in most, if not all, of their academics. Growing into fine young ladies with minds of their own and a firm foundation of who they are, what they believe,  and where they want to go. That doesn't mean they are done growing or that they won't change their minds. It simply means, they are strong and that, in spite of my doubts, I must be getting something right, even if it is only my faith that I am not the end all be all for them.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Doing the Best I Can

    I often want to say, "I'm just doing the best I *can*", but usually the words get caught in my throat as a voice inside my head reminds me that, really, I could be doing better. Sometimes, that voice is joined by a chorus of outside speakers, but usually is just in my own fears.

     I breastfeed, but... I babywear, but... I eat some organic, but... I homeschool, but... I raise and grow some of my own food, but... I know. You can relate, can't you? That voice that says, but I could be/should be... If I only... I know this is good, if only I had the time, the money, the whatever... To that voice, I wish, "I'm doing the best I can.", was good enough, but it isn't. That voice is riddled with guilt, shame, and worry.

     The truth is, we could probably raise our animals on organic, grain and gmo free food. Probably even grow our own. All while making sure that anything we don't raise or grow is also organic, grain free and non-gmo. The reason we don't? As important as it is to me to "do my best" to eat well, I don't always care. Honestly. I just don't. I know I should but I don't. How could I not? Well to be honest, there are a few reasons. One would be that the bible does say not to worry about what I eat. (Maybe I'm taking that out of context, but hang with me) Even beyond that, it says not to worry about ANYTHING but to pray about EVERYTHING. I struggle enough with worrying, without adding more to that plate. Secondly, my priorities do not always align with using so much money/time on food. I know... I know... It will cost me more, in the long run, eating "garbage" foods than eating "real" food. The fact is, I'm going to die eventually anyway. Let's be real here. I could die right here, right now, as I type this. We don't know the day nor the way (usually) that we will venture out of this life. If I have to choose between living a completely organic, gmo free life with little to no money/time for other things I enjoy, well... I'm going to choose to split my finances/time differently. Am I bagging on people who do choose to utilize their time and funds this way, NO! Absolutely not. I really don't care what other people eat. It simply means that I won't always choose the best foods.

     And it is true, I do babywear, when it works. But sometimes, it just doesn't. I'm only 5'1. Trying to do dishes, pick things up off the floor, etc... etc.. wasn't comfortable when I was pregnant and it isn't comfortable when I'm front slinging my baby, either. Does he cry when I don't? Yeah, he usually does, if he isn't sleeping and no one else is entertaining him. I know, crying is terrible for brain development, emotional development, etc... But it's ok, because I breastfeed and co-sleep, right? Really, I could be/should be doing better, because I can, but I won't. Sometimes, what is best for me, will not always be what is best for him, and sometimes I have to choose me.

     It is also true that I homeschool and, often, try not to stress by comparing my kids to public school kids, or even other homeschool kids. (Although, I usually fail at not worrying about it, because I tend to worry about everything...Did I mention I'm trying to work on that?) My 5 year old doesn't care about his ABC's. My 8 year old is just now, sort of, kind of, starting to be interested in reading. My almost 3 year old, still doesn't say a whole lot. Thankfully, I have my girls. My girls, who now attend public school, have shown me that in all my "unschooliness" they are actually doing just as well, (in some cases better), in just about everything they are doing academically, as their completely public taught peers. This gives me both hope and understanding, that I may be right in trusting that my kids will learn what they need to to live the lives they feel called to live, even if they don't learn everything someone else thinks they should. Still, much more could be getting done with them.

        The fact is, there is always going to be something more, something else, something better that I could be doing, and yet, I'm not. Not because I literally can't, but because I just don't. I have to come to terms with that and be ok with it, regardless of what I *think* others are thinking of me or how worried I *could* be about all the damage I'm doing with the choices I am making. No, I'm not doing the best I could be, but I'm not doing the worst either.


Friday, March 18, 2016

And So it Begins

The birds tweeting and chirping their beautiful praises, in the morning, as the spring peepers join in chorus. Ah! Spring, how I've missed your promises of life, love, joy, and excitement.

Already I see buds popping up on my trees. Only a couple of months, before I can collect mulberries again and restock our bare jam shelf. I suppose in honor of the impending celebration, of the official return of this glorious season, I should finally get some seeds and start my garden growing, as well.

Eggs are already incubating. Lambs are in their final month of pre-birth growth. The kids and I have finally begun braving the outdoors for more than a few minutes at a time. Whole adventures are being had, once again. What an amazing time of year this is.

Friday, March 11, 2016


This week has been nice and warm, inspiring us to get some major farm chores done. We got the coop and the hen pen in the barn cleaned up. The barn itself got a freshening. Sheep have been rotated, in preparation for next month lambing. And I have finally been able to collect enough eggs to incubate!

The homestead has not been completely neglected in all the sunshiney glory of this week. We've managed to keep it consistently tidier than we have in a long time. I may even be able to start deep cleaning. I already cleaned up the fridge, in the kitchen.

Homeschooling is going pretty well. We decided to give a go. I think it will be a nice addition for our 8 year old, just to be sure. Today was his first day of it so, of course, he acted like it was completely horrible. I still plan to keep with our eclectic/unschooly mode, and just incorporate this.

As for the family, in general, we are busy, as always. This would be a big factor in my sluggish blogging. That and spending too much time on facebook trying to divert my attention away from my ridiculous craving for sugar. Though, I never completely cut it, I am trying to keep it reduced. Although, I did just have a friend tell me about the Whole 30 challenge. Sounds interesting, but I'm not ready for that.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Old Fashioned Mom

What do you do when you are sick and have 3 rowdy boys tearing apart the house? Same as grandma would've. Make them go outside and play.

My house is the "cleanest" it has been in a while. So cleaned up that, maybe, I can actually try to deep clean it, which I never get to do. The thing is, it only takes these lively fellows seconds to dismantle any progress I've made.

Sometimes, as it does for most everyone else, this burns me up. Lately, though, I have been working on being more mindful. Their capabilities do not show me they are monsters, as some might think. What it does show me is that they are full of stifled energy and creativity and the best place to let that bomb go off is outside!

Yes, it will save me time, trouble, and negativity. It will also give them the opportunity to grow, learn, and bond.

Sure, I could try sitting them down and doing crafty stuff with them, but that isn't the activity for them, right now. Neither is letting them veg in front of the tv or video games. They do that plenty enough as it is.

No, they need to move, to run, to be loud. Their bodies are shouting for use. So, I send them outside, into the cool, fresh, air. Into the land of melting snow and muddy puddles. The land of freedom and adventure, where their imaginations can take them to galaxies far... far away.

As I do, I realize how much, when I am not sick, I need to do the same. I need to get out and play and enjoy life. Somewhere along my life's path, my free spirited, playful self has been locked up and forgotten how. Just as Peter Pan in Hook, I need to remember who I am.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Winter isn't Over

I suppose the groundhog was wrong...

Due to the indecisive weather, I haven't been able to collect enough eggs for incubating. It is a bit disappointing. I also haven't gotten my seeds, or really laid out a definite plan of action for our garden.

I have, however, enjoyed watching my kids get all geared up and play outside together. I've relished sitting by the fire doing lessons with my boys and having the girls home, due to snow days.

I'm not winter's biggest fan, but I'm not too proud to appreciate it's gifts and beauty. I know that in time, things will happen. Until then, I will rejoice in each day, as best as I can.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

One Thing After Another...

...also know as, when it rains it pours.

Yesterday, my husband rushed one of our dogs to the animal hospital, after she ran under the truck. A severely broken pelvis led to an over night stay, plus surgery and another night stay, today. The prognosis for her recovery is very good, especially since she isn't very old. It is the reason we chose the surgery over the alternative. I hope she has learned that moving vehicles are not her friend, because I don't want her to ever go through something like this, or worse, again. I am just thankful she is alive and will be well again.

Then today, I'm pretty sure I burnt the motor on our emulsion blender while trying to blend dates. (Yes, they were pitted.) I don't have a regular blender or a food processor. I'm hoping it just needed a break and will work again. *Side note... Dates are very sticky, but I have a recipe to share when I get the pictures loaded on our main computer.

Speaking of the computer... the video card died last night. Fortunately, it should be up and running again by Sunday, so I should be able to blog (with pictures) about our snowy days and post a recipe! Maybe, if things go really well, I'll even have a video!

In spite of the things that haven't been going well, today has been a good day. My girls were super helpful today, as I told them they couldn't have their electronics unless they each gave me 1 hour of good help around the house. Blessing #2 helped me empty out the pantry, which I then cleaned. I decided to line the shelves with parchment paper (oily/greasy shelves are nasty and difficult to clean.) and then she helped me restock it. My laundry area is cleaner than it has been in a while. Two out of three bathrooms were clean and my downstairs is mostly tidy without me being completely worn out! Fantastic, I do say. Plus, I didn't have to make dinner or clean the kitchen afterwards, as my husband and children took care of all that.

It makes me glad that, even with all the things to weigh me down, I chose instead to see the blessings and the joy.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Sugar War

I've often told people, I am less worried about alcohol than I am about sugar. I don't really have a problem saying no to drinking, but no to a cookie, a piece of cake, doughnuts? That is a different story. So for Lent, I decided to reduce my sugar intake, as a start towards a healthier temple, (body.)

Aside from my Mentos slip, and the homemade waffles (2 days in a row) while being out of honey, I've actually be doing pretty good with the decreased sugar consumption. That doesn't mean I haven't itched for a fix from time to time, especially when offered sweet treats. Thankfully the Girl Scout cookies my husband brings home, I've had practice saying no to, but that's a different story.

I haven't really lost any weight, which, being post-partum is somewhat disappointing. (But, hey, I also haven't really started exercising either.) However, I have noticed differences. I have been cranky and irritable, as one would expect with withdrawls of any kind, but I can be that way anyway. What has really been noticeable for me is that I've been less tired and just felt all around better.

Even when sickness made some rounds through our home, recently, I didn't get sick. I feel almost a glowing feeling, like when you hit the 2nd trimester (for me anyway) where you don't feel sick any more but you aren't huge and all that either. Just a healthy glow.

Not only that, but, I've also been a little more adventurous. Today, I tried a date for, what I'm sure is, the first time. It was ok. Sweet enough, but the texture was... not my thing. Refusing to give up, (since I bought 3lbs through one of the local co-ops), I began looking up things to make with them and I'm excited to try some. Really, if I can still have chocolate, I might be ok. hahaha It isn't all sugar I'm wanting to eradicate from my body. After all, our body needs sugar, from fruit and honey and such. My vegetable intake has gone up a little bit, right along with my fruit in take. This, of course, has also helped with my feeling healthier.

The thing is, I like it. For the most part, I'm not missing the treats as much as I expected to. I like the radiance I feel, much more. And I'm realizing that the hunger I often feel, is usually from thirst more than hunger. I've know that for a long time, but to realize and accept that is a different story. Doesn't mean I've gotten much better about hydration, though I have gotten somewhat better.

I'm looking forward to seeing what the coming weeks will bring about, as I continue this journey. Maybe I'll be courageous enough to overcome my sugar addiction and let it truly go. Not returning to start all over again when the season is done. Instead, letting it be the start of a new way of living.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Not as Planned

So far things are not going as planned

The first step in my plan was to collect 2 dozen eggs and incubate them, starting last week. Sadly, I got just over a dozen. So, I will try again and hope there are enough and that none of them freeze! My goal is to hatch 3-4 batches of chicks. Then, when the time comes, we can process them in successive groups. This should help fill our freezer with our own chicken.

After I've dealt with chickens, I'd like to do the same with our turkeys. Though, I think I'd only bother with 1-2 batches.

There is also the garden planning. I would like to plant a really good, solid, hardy garden this year. Maybe even build some cold frames around the outside of our house, to grow somethings in the winter and/or to use for transplants for next year.

The hope? That we will be more self sustaining in the coming year. The best way to know you're eating quality food is to grow it yourself. The problem? I planned these things thinking that winter was already leaving and God proved me wrong!

I also have some home projects I'd like to do. I have those laid out and am working on the details of how to go about getting them done. I'm pretty excited and can't wait to see what I can accomplish.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Itching for Spring

I am so ready for spring. Ok, in my heart I am, however, I still have a lot to do to prepare.

There is a garden to plan, seeds to buy and start them for transplanting. There are good hatching eggs to collect for the incubator, because this year, I have a plan. My goal, to not buy chicken from the store next year. The plan, raise up, in succession batches, chickens to fill my freezer with. Then do the same with the Turkeys.

So really, I'm not actually ready for spring, but my heart is. I'm fully of excited anticipation for what this year holds for us and am ready to get going to make these things happen. I just pray that in all my endeavors, I persevere even after my enthusiasm wanes.

May this be true for all of us during this year of Jubilee!

Monday, January 25, 2016

It Had to be a Warmer Winter

         Honestly, I don't mind. I prefer warmer weather. I never would've imagined living where I live, yet here I am. And I am thankful for this warm weather, save for one reason.

        This year, with so many of our kids into hockey, my husband decided to build an ice rink in the back yard. Awesome, I know, except when it is too warm to use it, which has been more days than not.

          In spite of that fact, I am glad he did it. Though, I haven't been able to use it (I'm 33 years old and never ice skated and there is a rink in my own backyard... Yeah.) I have enjoyed watching my family use it.

         Seeing my children's skating and hockey skills improving is cool. Even better than that is seeing them get outside and do something together that strengthens the bonds between them. To hear them laughing together. This winter may be warmer than last, but my heart is what is truly warm with joy at these precious memories.