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I am a Christian woman who loves her family and tries to live with a purpose. "I can do all things though Christ who strengthens me" Philippians 4:13


Friday, November 15, 2013

What Will Your Holiday Plans Be?

We have chosen, for many years now, to make homemade gifts for Christmas.  I'm not saying there aren't any store bought gifts, just not as many.  Some of this has been done because of economics and some because, as a family, we decided to share the true meaning of Christmas with the younger members of our family. 

It's funny how even if you know what you're getting you still have the same childlike excitement.  My sister-in-law knits socks for everyone in the family.  Now it takes her all year long to this.  We all know that's what we will be receiving from her but we can't wait to receive our socks.  What color will they be or what pattern this year?  I don't know why, we just can't wait, even the children. 

Children have the same excitement with homemade gifts as they do with store bought.  Sometimes I think even more.  I say this because, think of the many times you gave your child, niece, nephew or other child in your life the newest whatever.  How long did it take to lose interest in it?  I also dare to say they may have had more fun with the box the newest whatever came in.  I'm not saying we need to give up completely on store bought gifts.  I'm just saying that maybe just maybe they don't need all they get. 

All the Christmas commercials are filling the airways with ideas of things you didn't know you needed, but do.  I wonder how folks celebrated the birth of Jesus before commercials?  I wonder if they felt cheated not knowing of all the things they didn't have?  Could it be the real meaning of Christ Mass was understood?  Could it be everyone understood the true meaning of the celebration?

With the holidays quickly coming upon us, you may be making your plans; think of those without.  Without friends, family, means or purpose.  Maybe your plans could include someone you know who will be alone, a gift for a child who does without all year, a hand for someone who has no one else.  These gifts will be the ones you make memories with, you teach with, you hold close to your heart.

Of all the things we do on the homestead, the most important is to give of ourselves.  "No man is an island", don't try to be.

Have a great and blessed day.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Arrogant, Shortsighted and Stupid!

We had our first hard freeze of the year and I have to tell you, I'm not impressed.  When I was younger I really liked the cold weather and wanted snow a lot.  Now that I'm getting older, I'm not so thrilled with the thought of cold weather especially if I have to go out in it.  Though I have to tell you I'm not a fan of hot weather either.  April; I like the weather in April, and maybe a nice October.  If I could find a place where the weather was like that all year around I would so be there.

All the planning in the world isn't the same as actually living the plan.  The canning we did this year is in fact helping with the grocery bills but...  There's always a but...  with daughter and family here now, we had to adjust the amount we canned.  My calculations were just a tad off.  Ok a lot off, but we know how much we canned and can calculate what we have, the length of time it takes us to use it and find the difference we will need for next year.  Luckily we only have four months until spring and we can start all over again.

Some would say that our miscalculation was a mistake.  Not learning from our miscalculation is where the mistake would be, however being able to learn and to adjust is crucial.  I say all this because I am dumbfounded by the amount of folks who are willing not to learn.  How can I say this without offending?  I can't, so here it goes.  Very rarely will you be a complete success by yourself and you will never be a success if you rely solely on yes men.  Meaning one sided, your side, unable to intelligently discuss the cons to your pros.  This is shortsighted, arrogant and stupid.  Yes I know stupid is a hard word, but it is an accurate word.  Thinking you and you alone have all the answers to the woes of the folks is stupid.

Thinking folks can't think for themselves leads to the second word, arrogant.  Arrogance is thinking you know what works better for the folks then they do.  I will agree there are those among us who make poor choices in life.  Lets face it, all of us one time or another made a poor choice but that's how we learn.  Believing you should take care of us so we won't make poor choices is arrogant.

Now for our first word shortsighted.  How shortsighted must you be to think everyone needs the same things in life?  How can you believe a sixty year old mans needs are the same as a twenty year old young woman?  How shortsighted is it to believe one is more valuable than the other and how shortsighted is it to believe everyone should and will conform to your way of thinking?  Ok maybe that last one belongs under arrogant; you can choose for yourself, at least for a little while longer.

May GOD save us from our elected leaders.

Have a safe and blessed day.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Experiment Not A Failure!

My experiment with pallet gardening is coming along.  What I am finding though is it seems to need a bit more nitrogen.  I noticed no matter how much I watered, the garden seems to do much better when it rains.  So I'm thinking though slow going, this was a good lesson and will continue to pallet garden.  The pluses are very little to no weeding (as long as you put lawn fabric down first.)  The down side (and not really a down side), the garden will need more fertilizer.  I'm very happy to find this experiment was not a failure. 

Trying to give the animals more land is causing us to find more ways to grow.  So there will be a lot of container, raised beds, pallet and upward gardening.  Though I'm very happy to increase the animals, so there will be less and less meat being bought, I am not willing to give up gardening.  Where there is a will there is a way. 

Don't be afraid to try new ideas, even if the experiment fails you are still learning.  Just as Thomas Edison said when asked he didn't fail, he found 999 ways not to make a light bulb.  Homesteading is all about finding what works for you and how to make it work with what you have.  Even if you had all the land in the world, you would only be able to work so much of it.  You would still have to make the most of what you could work.

I will also be moving water barrels closer to these gardens.  Go out, experiment and learn.  Life is not about sitting back and just plodding along.

Have a great and blessed day. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Who Needs A Knight In Shining Armor?

Yesterday hubby had a doctors appointment, so on the way we were listening to the radio.  Among the other commercials there was one from FEMA, the department of Emergency Management for the government.  In this commercial they discussed several scenarios, like hurricanes, tornados and such.  They talked about not knowing what might happen tomorrow and were you ready for tomorrow.  Their very strong suggestion was that folks have a couple weeks of food on hand to care for yourself.  More and more you're hearing, if you're listening, the government telling people they may not be able to be there if something goes wrong.  So you are going to have to care for yourself. 

I was struck by this commercial on a couple of levels.  The first that folks would have to be reminded to care for themselves.  When did this happen?  How is it that folks would not know to have extra on hand in case of an emergency.  To have food, batteries, water, extra clothing, medications, a way to cook if power went out, a way to defend yourself if someone else's plan was to take what you have.  Have we become such a nanny state that folks no longer think for themselves?  Do many think the government is the only way to survive an emergency?  How can anyone not have the basic instinct to survive?

The second was that folks don't have the inclination to care for themselves any longer.  The belief that someone else should be there in case of an emergency or not even an emergency.  The disservice which has been done by telling folks we will care for you, don't worry.  Almost as if the government is the knight in shining armor riding on a white horse to save you.

I know being responsible is not in vogue any longer, however basic survival should be.  Planning and acting on the plan is not hard.  I understand folks saying they don't have extra money to put food, batteries and other life supporting items away, but you do.  When grocery shopping remember if it's buy one get one free, buy two and get two free.  When you do this you've started putting away for emergencies.  The Christmas season is upon us, so shop the sales.  Many stores have batteries and little lanterns and camping equipment on sale.  After Christmas the stores have candles marked down.  Some years I have even gotten candles for as little as twenty-five cents a piece.  How about storage containers, after each season plastic containers are marked down because they have not sold.  So pick them up.  Eventually you'll have all the seasons and you can use them during the right season or if you don't care you can use them to put up flour, sugar, cereal and most anything else you need a container for.

Have you thought of the dollar store as a place to prep?  You really should, they have many items you can use.  I have purchased canisters, bandages, aluminum foil, decorations, food, clotheslines, LED lights, batteries, medical supplies, and so much more.  Look around you can help yourself with just a little work on your part.  Don't look for the knight in shining armor, he might have too many conditions to actually get the help.

Have a great and blessed day.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Weekend Update

So here is the update on the weekend, so much fun.  Daughter and son-in-law's friends were so funny and had such a beautiful family.  We really can't wait to see them again.  We met them at a festival that was a couple of hours away and ate, laughed and enjoyed the music.  Then we all came back to the homestead, where everyone jumped in and helped with the evening chores.  Then they all jumped back into the vehicles so friends' children could see the beach and water (they don't live near water.)

Update on the does, no stork yet.  We're really not sure of the date when our buck jumped the fence, but we know we are very close to the blessed event.  So the last thing we do before going to bed and the first thing we do in the morning is to look for the new kids.  I promise pictures when they do arrive.  Hoping it's soon because it seems to be a colder autumn than usual (don't want it to be too cold when they're born.) 

Have a safe and blessed day.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Out Of Town Friends

Daughter and husband are expecting out of town friends.  Everyone is excited to see them (for us it is to meet them).  All the grandchildren are sharing stories of there friends and are just giddy with anticipation.  Daughter and husband are so looking forward to the visit.

I was talking to number two grandson (age 4) about his friend coming to see him.  I asked if he was happy and excited and he said yes.  I asked if he thought his friend had grown as much has he did and he replied yes.  Then I asked his a question that I really just threw out there.  What if he hasn't grown as much as you have?  He looked at me with bright eyes and answered "well then that would be awkward." 

When speaking to children you really never know what's going to come out of their mouths.  Sometimes it's good and well sometimes it's... hmmmm.  The one thing you can count on, is you will laugh more times than not and laughter is always good.

We are all hoping that the stork comes to visit while the friends are here.  We are still waiting on the new kids.  Every night we check before going to sleep and first thing in the morning, but you know old Mr. Stork comes in his own good time.  I will try to see if I can post a video of the new kids when born, but if I can't you can be sure of a lot of pictures.

Just wanted to get this quick update out, more to come soon.

Have a great and blessed day.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Left Overs

The cold winds of autumn have started blowing.  Though it's not unheard of it is unusual for this time of year.  So when feeding the animals this morning it became clear we need to make sure we were winterized.  Meaning the children had to have proper gloves to keep their hands warm.  Of course there were choruses of children singing out, "grandma I need a new scarf", hat or both and I will be making them.  I won't be making gloves for them because they do need the insulated type because of watering the animals. 

So yesterday I finished making an afghan and had yarn left over.  The funny thing is I was trying to use left over yarn on the afghan.  Anyway I had left over yarn and was trying to think how to use it up.  Then I thought I would make purses (or pocketbooks as they are called in some parts of the country) for my granddaughters.  I have to tell you, I'm really not good at reading patterns, actually I'm horrible at it.  So I usually make up my own pattern as I am making the item.  I made two and have to make one more and I will put them away for Christmas gifts.  Using the left over yarn I will make the scarves and hats for the children, maybe someday I'll use all the left over yarn.  Don't laugh, I can hope. 

All of this made me think of those folks who need such things and don't know how to make it for themselves.  Should you be so inclined and are able to make such things, please consider making extra and find a family or charity (church, Salvation Army, or other organization) to donate to.  You could also volunteer your time and teach someone to do it for themselves.  Caring for one another is one of the tenants of the Christian faith and I'm sure of other faiths.  Don't think someone else will do it or even the government is there to take care of them.  Think of a time when you were in need (whatever kind of need it was) and someone stepped up to help.  Possibly no one helped, remember that feeling as well.  One of my favorite saying is "Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, Teach a man to fish and you feed him for life." 

One person at a time, lets feed people for life.

Have a great and blessed day.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Be Creative

Animals fed, grandchildren doing school work, plants in the house, garden watered, time to start working on fall table decorations and Christmas gifts.  Something about this time of year makes me feel creative.  I guess it's because starting this weekend and lasting for the next three weekends most of the local churches have some kind of bazaar.  I have to confess most of the time I just look for ideas but not all the time.  There is one church that has hand knitted mittens and socks for a more than reasonable price.  Since I can't knit (still trying to learn) only crochet, I stock up on socks.  The bake sales are my worst enemy.  I can't walk by without buying something.  There are so many good bakers in the area and I have a horrible sweet tooth.  I am getting better but something about the fall just makes me hungry. 

So I made some napkin ring holders and put solid color bandannas inside.  I think they are cute and I'm going to do something similar for Christmas.  Even when times are hard it's good to try and decorate a little.  It lifts the spirits and changes your outlook.  Remember it doesn't have to be something elaborate, just something simple.  A candle here, a couple of napkin rings there, even just a bandanna in the middle of a table with a bowl of fruit or nuts.  Just something that isn't there all year around. 

Being creative will brighten your day or maybe you can brighten someone else's day.  Remember a smile is contagious, spread the smile :-D

These were made with strips of felt, ribbon and I sewed on leaf appliques.

Have a great and blessed day.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Share Your Knowledge

Today the meter reader came by.  He had to knock on the door for access to the back, which gave us a chance to talk.  He had noticed the animals on previous visits and started asking questions.  He was curious has to why we were living a homesteading life.  So we shared.  We talked about having meat that was antibiotic free.  We explained we had both animals and veggies without growth hormones.  We also explained that for us to get a chicken from chick to laying takes five months and commercially to get a chick to your table takes 8-10 weeks.  So this is why we do this.

He shared how he had always wanted to have chickens but lived inside the city limits and thought he would have to wait.  We told him to check with the city as many cities are now allowing hens only inside the limits.  There might be a limit of five but still you have five hens. 

I also heard the news on this morning the fact the average age of people who know how to make things with their hands is fifty-eight years old.  Within the next few years many of these folks will be retiring.  I shudder to think what life will be like as these folks shuffle off this mortal coil.  What will life be like for those who need a tradesman? 

The idea that you aren't of worth unless you have a college degree will be the downfall of our trade occupations.  One of the sorriest things the education system ever did, was to remove shop classes from the curriculum.  I know I will be dating myself but that's ok.  When I was in high school boys were offered auto-mechanics, metal shop, woodshop or possibly electronics.  Girls were offered sewing and cooking class (also they were eventually offered some of the shop classes.)  Where are our children going to learn these skills? 

Whatever talent you were given, share it.  Our children (small and older) need to know how to care for themselves.  Sharing knowledge is always good and spending time with anyone is good for the soul.  What's the worst that will happen?   

Have a great and blessed day.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Here Comes The Bride

Last week there was more work to be done than normal.  We were showing son-in-laws nephew and his girlfriend around the homestead.  We showed them how to care for the animals and garden.  We discussed the signs of labor for the does and what to do and who to call.  Reminded them to collect the eggs and showed them how to wash them.  Because we were doing something we haven't done in years; we left the homestead for a weekend. 

Friday we left for what some call foothills (they were mountains if you ask me) for my beautiful niece's wedding.  I know I may be a little prejudiced but she is truly beautiful with both inner and outer beauty.  The wedding was held on a sandy beach with a babbling stream running along side.  My brother walked the vision of beauty across the beach to a center aisle lined with rose petals that reached an arbor built from tree limbs.  Her eyes gleamed with happiness and love and looked as if she walked from the pages of a storybook. 

The weekend was filled with joy.  Along with the wedding I was able to see all three of my brothers, sister and parents.  This was the first time in about twelve years we were all together and it was so much fun seeing nieces and nephews all grown.  How happy they all are and funny as well. There was so much laughter. This was just a wonderful weekend.  I still have a big smile on my face.

The first night we were there my son-in-law looked at my daughter, "I'm bored.  Why am I bored."  He was confused over this.  Daughter started laughing and said, "No animals to feed, no chores; we're just relaxing."  It's funny how relaxing can be so very boring. 

Another funny thing that came out of the weekend is son-in-laws nephew's girlfriend discovered she likes animals and now wants a goat and rabbit.  She also made two loaves of bread and hoped we didn't mind.  We told her of course we didn't mind and she said "You know that's the best kind of bread anyway."  Just as I have long suspected, anyone exposed to homesteading will come to love it.

Take time to laugh and share, this is where true riches come from.

Have a great and blessed day.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Catching Up and Raising Rabbits

I can't believe it's been over a week since I last posted.  So much has happened.  Well let me start with husband is feeling better.  He had a procedure last Friday and had a reaction to the anesthesia.  Problem was it didn't happen until we left the surgical center.  Thank goodness it was before we made it home.  A quick turn of the car and in no time we were at the emergency room, where he was treated.  The only thing I will say about this is, too many time we are rushed out of the procedures.  How can they know all is well?  Two set of vitals does not make a whole picture.  I'm very afraid more of this is coming very soon for so many other medical issues.

Well back to the old homestead.  We had 5 rabbit pups born last week, unfortunately we lost two.  The other three are doing well and seem quite strong.  Here is a picture of them at five days old.

Mama was a first timer and was a little slow on caring for the pups.  Normally the mother will pull hair out to make a nest for the little ones.  In this case she didn't do that before she gave birth.  When we realized she had given birth and hadn't lined the nesting box, we placed fresh hay in the bottom.  Then with gloves on we carefully placed each of the pups in the nesting box.  We also have dried kitten replacement milk on hand in case mama didn't feed the pups in the first twenty-four hours.  Even though she was a little slow she very quickly started taking care on the pups. Within an hour she was pulling hair and covering the pups and a few hours later she was feeding them.  The one thing you must make sure is the pups stay warm and they were. 

 In the words of number one granddaughter... "My rabbits had pups they are so cute there are three pink ones and one black one.  They are so adorable."  We have had the discussion that the rabbits like the other animals are here for food and milk.  We also talked about the difference between homestead animal and pets.  Tinkerbell, Charlie, Spike, (dogs) Smokie, Babbie J and Kittles (cats) are pets.  The girls however have managed to talk someone into having a couple of the homestead animals as pets.  We now have a turkey named Barbie.

Just a quick note, if you are going to raise rabbits for meat you should have a journal.  In the journal you will track which does produce and care for their litters and how many they have.  Another thing to track is which bucks well take care of business.  Also you should have different pens for the does and the bucks.  Does can and do become very territorial.  She can and will attack the buck.  Also those cute darling little bunnies growl and stomp their foot, so don't be surprised.

We are still on stork watch with the goats.  All four mama's to be are doing well, though we are a little nervous since Capri had triplets the last time.  Oh well it will be, what it will be.

Have a great and blessed day.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Quick Update

Haven't written over the past few days because hubby had to have some medical test done.  Finished today with a slight problem with allergic reaction.  All that is in hand now so much better end to the day then start.

Will have pictures of the new pups (bunnies) on next post.  I will bring everyone up to date with the homestead at that time.

Have a great and blessed day.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Garden They Did Plant

You hope what you show the children they learn from.  You talk, they talk, you listen, they listen and then it happens. You see them take the initiative and come up with a wonderful surprise.  They've taken what you've shown them and turned it into reality.

The granddaughters (one and two) came to me and said they planted a surprise garden.  I was thinking they were talking about a pretend garden, but no.  They took my hands and led me to a very large pot.  Inside are the most beautiful bean plants in various stages.  It seems they harvested some dried beans and planted them.  I'm so proud, not bad for a six and eight year old.  They didn't tell anyone.  They wanted to surprise all of us and help with the garden. 

Both the girls watched me let some beans stay on the plant and when dried harvest the beans for seeds.  I guess I missed a few or they just saved a few when helping and planted their own garden.  They used a pot that had been used for seasonal flowers and planted in there.  So when the plants start producing we will have some delicious beans for dinner.  There is the question as to what kind of beans they planted. 

Little brother and number two grandson is sure they are magic beans and well you know, a beanstalk will be here soon.  Who knows; with a child's belief, a surprise garden might just bring a beanstalk.

Children have a wonderful sense of can do.  When they believe they can do it they do.  Much like the bumble bee who isn't supposed to be able to fly, but does.  Encourage a child you know, teach them everything and watch the garden grow.

Correction: I was just told little brother (four year old) helped with the planting.

Have a great and blessed day.

Monday, October 7, 2013


What's the last thing you think you'll find in the compost...  While hanging laundry out on this fine fall day I saw something in the compost heap.  I called my daughter over to see if she saw the same thing and indeed she did.  One of the goats had decided to try a little compost for a mid morning snack (mid morning meaning 9 a.m.).  So finished hanging the clothes and then snap this picture. 
I guess he thought he add a little more fertilizer to the mix, anyway there he is.

Number two granddaughter wanted to help write so the next few words will be right out of the mouth of babes; So we had a goat named Calvin and I loved him but we traded Calvin for Oreo McFlurry which I don't like.  We have rabbits, lots of rabbits and the brown one likes to hop in the white ones cage, so she gets mad at him for jumping in her cage and if she gets in the boys cage I don't know what him will do.  Our chickens, we have roosters, hens we have a polish chicken and the polish chicken always runs into the coop.  They live in the coop.  We have girl turkeys and boy turkeys which we are going to eat.  We have ducks and some of the ducks are little and they lay eggs.  Well our chickens lay eggs like our turkeys and we had turkey eggs before and they are delicious.  Our turkeys are so delicious when we have them on occasions.  We have dogs and cats and we like to play with our dogs and cats.  They are really fun to play with, Tinkerbell likes to play catch and our cat Kitttles likes to play with a glowing mouse toy and the spinning cat toy.  All the cats like to climb and Kittles likes to play with Babbie J (cat) and Smokie likes to lay on the porch, Kittles and Babbie J play in the yard.  Tinkerbell and Spike like to play and Tinkerbell is the one who likes to play a lot.  Charlie is our dog lays on the porch while the other two are playing.  We have a white goat and his name is Comet and we have a goat named Capri she had babies and they grew horns.  Prancer had her first kids.  We have a black goat his name is Dancer he likes to play with the big goats.

Each of the children will have a big surprise in the morning when feeding the rabbits, it seems we had 5 pups.

Each and everyday brings a laugh or two when you least expect it, just be open enough to enjoy it.  Maybe just maybe, if we all laughed a little more, well...

Have a great and blessed day.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Working the Plan

So all the animals are moved, yayyyyyyyyyyy!  The plan is falling into place with time to spare before the new births.  Ducks are doing well.  Chickens have stopped laying, so going to have to have the talk with them.  It goes like this, ladies everyone here produces, you will produce one way or another.  Not that it works but it makes me feel better lol.  The reality is, chickens don't lay everyday.  There are breeds that lay most days but still not everyday.  The turkeys are fattening up nicely so that's good.  Rabbits are being bred today.  All in all the freezer will be filled soon.

So moving on to next stage of the plan.  Fix up the birthing stall.  We have four does that are pregnant so it will be well used in a month or so.  We also will be laying in plenty of hay and straw.  Then make sure the milking stands are in good shape.  We haven't had goat milk in a while so I'm really looking forward to having some again.  Just a side note, goat milk makes great pudding, it's so creamy.  Like I said always something to do.

It's important to set a goal and then work it.  Sure I would have liked to have had all this done earlier, but life happened.  So we took our time and still worked the plan.  Too many times folks are willing to give up at the first sign of adversity.  True character shows itself when adversity presents.  Will you say well I can't do this or that because of this or that or will you find a way around this or that?  Will you step back momentarily and look for another way to complete your goal? 

Too many of us want to travel the road of least resistance.  The problem with this is you will never find a road without any bumps and turns.  Sooner or later you will run out of straight highway.

UPDATE:  Chickens are laying

Have a great and blessed day.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

To Grind or Not To Grind

To grind or not to grind that is the question?  We do, but....  Before you start there is a lot to learn.  What wheat to use for what you're baking and do I need to use dough enhancers?  Which grinder do I use?  Should I use hand powered or electric?  Where do I get the wheat berries?  Should I grind corn for meal as well?  All good questions but don't let them discourage you.

Did you know that when you grind your own wheat, you have to use it within twenty-four hours?  This will give you the most nutritional benefit.  So the next question is how little nutritional value does store bought flour have or how many preservatives does it have to give it the shelf life?

A book I like  to use is "RECIPES from the OLD MILL BAKING with WHOLE GRAINS" Sarah E Myers and Mary Beth Lind.  However there is a lot of good information on the internet and I would also suggest to check your local library and county extension office.  Also just ask around, I think you'll be surprised to find family and friends may be doing some of this themselves.

There are also a number of websites to purchase large quantities of wheat berries.  I would suggest before you get and open a super pail of wheat, look for a local store that might sell 1 lb. bags of wheat.  I purchased the super pails and continue to do so, but first I bought a couple of 1 lb. bags.  Two reason for this, first I needed to work the burrs in the grinder and there is a chance of small metal splinters during the first couple of grinds (check the manufacturers instructions) and second I needed to play with the grinder.  See just how it worked and how to set the burrs for ease and the grind I needed.

Websites to order bulk wheat (I suggest you order in pails instead of bags, this will alleviate the problem of what to do after you open a 50 lb. bag.)

honeyville.com                    (go to the bottom of the page and look for shop now)
beprepared.com                   (in the remark section of the checkout you can ask for plain boxes
                                               without the company advertising)
augasonfarms.com               (they take a little longer but good product)

Living a homesteading life takes a lot of time.  Rarely will you have time to say you're bored but it is an enjoyable lifestyle.  Soon you will see how good you feel caring for yourself and family.

Have a great and blessed day.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Pumpkins or Hens

A funny thing happened when I went for pie pumpkins and feed; I came home with seven hens.  This seems to happen to me.  A few weeks ago I left the house to run to the store for canning supplies; between the car and the front porch I inherited seven rabbits.  I often wonder what my husband thinks when I tell him, "I'm going to get... "

One day we were doing yard work when an older gentleman rode up on his lawnmower.  He very politely introduced himself and told us of his plight.  Seems he had a rooster, hen and a few biddies.  Well the problem with the situation was the rooster.  His neighbor lived in close proximity and did not enjoy the crowing rooster in the wee hours of the morning.

He had ridden past our home a few times and noticed our chickens.  So he thought he'd ask if we would like to add to our flock.  We happily accepted and thanked him for his generosity.  So, more hens.  Oh and the reason he came by on the lawnmower, he had eye surgery that didn't work as well as he had wished.  So with eyesight not well enough to drive, he rode his lawnmower to the little store just past our house.  All in all we feel very blessed and are grateful the good Lord continues to bless us.

The hens may have stopped laying, so we have sectioned them off and we will watch and wait.  Should it prove true they are not laying any longer we will have chicken soup, stewed chicken and dumplings or even chicken pot pie.  I love fresh homemade chicken pot pie and the grandchildren do as well.  The taste is much better than store bought and far less sodium.

So when we set out on one journey, we have to be open for the surprises that cross our paths.

Chicken Pot Pie

4  9" pie crusts
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. of cooked chicken breast
Peas and Carrots
Chicken gravy

Roll out  9" pie crust, placing 1 each into 2 pie plates.  Fill the bottom crust with chicken, peas, carrots and then a cup of gravy per pie shell.  Place 1 each pie crust on top of each pie plates.  Bake at 425 degrees for approximately 1 hour.  Let stand for 5 minutes and then cut into 8 pieces.

Have a great and blessed day.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Inward before Outward

Normally I would only talk about homesteading and I will again, but...  With all that's happening with the talk of government shut-downs... 

The current news may be one of the best examples to live as self-sufficiently as possible.  I think of all the folks who could possibly be in trouble should the government close it's doors.  I'm not going to lay blame at either side's doorstep, though there is much to go around.  I'm just thinking at this time those who think things will always be in their control may want to reconsider.

Look inward before looking outward.

Have a great and blessed day.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Learn, Teach

Starting out on this journey we didn't know a lot about a lot.  Sure I had gardens in the past, but chickens then goats then turkeys, rabbits, ducks oh my.  Did I let that stand in my way, nooooo.  I just didn't know enough to know to be scared.  So we just jumped in, both feet, yes we did.  Learning something new everyday; we still are (that's the best part.) 

Fortunately we have good friends who knew much about animals.  Then we read and read and read more.  Looked on the internet for anything else we wanted to do or make.  Let our own imagination go a little wild with ideas and then it happened.  One day we noticed we were homesteading and helping others.  More and more folks are looking to simplify their lives and learn skills that have been lost.  People are rediscovering the ability to care for themselves and not too soon. 

Our parents and grandparents are leaving us at staggering rates along with their skills.  The fear I have most is, if we continue to push everyone into an office or similar field no one will know how to care for themselves.  Before you all post comments, I know we aren't there, but ask yourselves, can you see that happening some day?  Should you answer yes, then get out there and learn then teach.

So I thought I would share a few books we started with:
Reader's Digest; BACK TO BASICS
(the second and third books are almost word for word so either one them would be good)
Storey's Basic Country Skills
Storey's Raising Dairy Goats

Have a great and blessed day.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Apples are Here

So the apples are here today and the work begins.  We have a bushel each of Jonathans, Honey Crisp, Golden Delicious and half a bushel of Gala.  I love this time of the year.  The house has such a sweet aroma from apples.

I start with a combination of Jonathans, Honey Crisp and Golden Delicious.  This way I have a sweet, a tart and who can go wrong with a Honey Crisp (firm but juicy) apple.  I find this combination makes awesome applesauce without adding sugar.  Then I follow the instructions from the "Ball Blue Book of Canning and Preserving".  I want to tell you, this is awesome in a jar.  I'm going to use Jonathans to make apple pie filling to can but when Jonathans (which are a good baking apple) aren't available the old standard of Granny Smiths works well.  My favorite green apple is not available until later in the fall, so then I will use a different selection of apple to can more.  Going to make apple butter as well but not sure what combination I will use, still working on that.

I was hoping to make apple juice this year but not sure if I'll be able.  Every year I'm trying to add to the list of items I can, but this year instead of canning for two, I'm canning for eight.  That's something else you'll have to figure out.  Just how much you'll need for your family.  For instance, I canned 108 quarts of Pasta sauce this past spring and summer.  I'm now finding out I may not have enough, so will have to find something else to can to supplement the pantry. 

Not to let anything go to waste, we throw the peels to our chickens.  I give all my scraps from canning to the chickens; scraps helps lower our feed bill and it's good for them so why not.  You could also use the peels and other scraps in your compost.  Whichever you do, you're not wasting and that's good.

Canning gives us a chance to preserve the season's harvest.  To enjoy the memories of all who help and to fill our bellies and hearts.  Most of all, it gives peace of mind, I know however high the prices in the grocery store go, my family will eat well, healthy. 

So in the cold winter months, summer laughter comes back when we open jars of corn.  When a jar of peaches are open the memory of giggles will come running back of children trying to sneak a slice.  When we open a jar of anything, we open a jar of love and happiness.

Have a great and blessed day.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Spaztastic Day or Clothes Pin Bag

Spaztastic - adj. eng. meaning; spastic fantastic day.  We had a spaztastic day today. 

I gave the above definition just to explain the day we had here.  You know some days are just like that.  No matter what you plan, things are as crazy as they can be.  All in all a good day but I wasn't sure we were going to make to the end. 

First, today was one on the most beautiful weather days in a long time.  Cool enough to turn the air off and open the windows.  I love days like today.  Then there was the other side of the day. Hmmm how do I explain it.  I can't, so we'll just go with the above definition of spaztastic.

When we have days (good weather) like this, I like to hang laundry out and that's what I did.  The plastic bag I had the clothes pins in was snagged and torn.  So after I collected all of the clothes pins up, I hung the laundry and came in and made a clothes pin bag.  I took an old, girls size 6x cap sleeve blouse and turned it inside out.  Sewing the opening of the arms closed, I then sewed the front and back hems together.  Then I turned the blouse right side out.  I put a child size hanger inside the blouse and then sewed it to the blouse and now I have a clothes pin bag.

Now I'm not cheap, I just don't like throwing money away.  If I can make it I would rather do that.  I'm happy I didn't throw anything into a landfill.  I didn't spend money unnecessarily and I have a practical and cute clothes pin bag.  Make sure you have a blouse (or shirt) with buttons on the front so you can open it wide enough to get your hand inside.  If you don't have any children's clothes, you probably have a family member or friend who does, you can ask them for an old blouse/shirt.

Have a great and blessed day.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Rain and Plans

So today is the first day of Fall and it's raining.  Good for the plants but not so much for those who have to feed the animals.  Oh well, I'll just think of it as a big shower, with the clothes on.

So the garden is loving the rain.  I don't care what you may use on your garden, it just seems rain grows plants faster than anything.  Though I like rainy days, I'm hoping we don't have too wet of a fall this year.  A few years back we had so much rain, a lot of gardens drowned around here.  I know it sounds funny that a garden can get too much rain, but it really can.

So sitting here with a cup of tea and listening to the rain, I'm thinking of what needs to be accomplished this week.  Finish rearranging the animals.  Put more veggies in, (I plant every two to three weeks to stagger harvest.)  Hopefully the apples will come in so we can make our applesauce and apple butter.  Take stock of animal feed and hay.  Drain the kids pool.  Build new shelter for goats and don't over do so I don't re-injure my rib.  Oh yeah take care of anything else that might pop up.

I know it might sound like a lot of work but it's a different kind of work.  When homesteading you have a lot of peace.  You are more in control of your life and circumstances.  Remember  you can do anything you put your mind to.

I will start adding more pictures in the very near future.  Just trying to get a few things in order.

Have a great and blessed.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Make it Yourself

So what kinds of things can you do for yourself?  Just about anything.  In the evenings after dinner sometimes I just sit and crochet dishcloths.  They're very easy to make and very practical.  Something you need on a daily basis and add a splash of color to any kitchen.  Ok, so, maybe the splash of color isn't your concern, but they are nice and you do need them.

 When you can make something for yourself, it's nice knowing you won't have to run to the store for every little thing.  Of course you will have to keep some things on hand, like the 100% cotton yarn.  I keep things like that on hand so when I need a dishcloth I can knock one out.  They also make nice gifts.  I usually make two solid color and two variegated, if I'm giving them as gifts and I make a couple of potholders that match.  I don't know about you but I love homemade gifts.  For me, receiving a homemade gift says the gift giver thought enough of me to give their time.  I can't think of a nicer compliment. 

I crochet scarves in the evening as well.  They take little time to make and they too have a practical function.  There are many beautiful yarns these days to use, but if you are on a tight budget you can use more inexpensive yarns.  As I said before, you are giving two gifts, the actual gift and the gift of your time. 

The gift of time is something we have forgotten to appreciate.  One of the best things about homesteading, is the time we have with our children and grandchildren.  Sharing the beauty of the land, water and most of all life.  Though there is much ugliness in the world, it still holds a tremendous amount of beauty.  Sharing that beauty with loved ones is what memories are made of.  Someday long after we are gone, another generation will share what this world once was like.  In doing so they can also share the precious gifts of time and memories.

Make sure if you decide to make or get 100% cotton dishcloths you follow the care instructions.

Have a great and blessed day.

Friday, September 20, 2013


Talk of costumes are running amuck at the homestead.  I want to be this or I want to be that.  "Grandma can you make me this costume."  Seems the grandchildren have much confidence in grandmas sewing abilities.  So out will come the fabric, pins, threads and sewing machine.  This is a wonderful feeling to have someone see a potential in you and ask you to meet the challenge of creating.

So the new challenge, four costumes.  The biggest obstacle is grandma doesn't know all of the characters that are being asked for; maybe we can talk about cowboys and cowgirls.  Whatever the costume may turn out to be, I'm very happy to see they are making the change from can I buy, to can we make. 

The creative process is just as important to develop as is the work ethic.  Remember that old saying "all work and no play makes John a dull boy", well that's as true as all play and no work  makes John an irresponsible boy.  Balance is necessary in all aspects of life.  When placing more importance on one aspect of life than others, we lose; it doesn't matter what it is we still lose.  Remember if you have children in your life you are always teaching them, more so by your actions than your words. 

So on this homestead we have time to learn, time to work, time to play and time to listen.  Of all the things I spend time on, listening is the one I wish I had more time to do.  You'll never know all that you miss if you don't take time to listen. 

Today, go, talk with a generation that is younger than yourself and create something.  A small garden, a rabbit hutch, a jar of preserves, or a costume; the greatest thing you can give is your time.

Have a great and blessed day.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Conversations and Preparing Children

Today was a very busy day on the old homestead.  Chainsaw in hand, the son-in-law started removing unwanted foliage.  Unwanted only in the sense we need the area for the goats and they get to eat it.  So they're happy, I'm happy, it's a win, win for all who live here. 

Having busy days with the whole family can lead to some interesting conversations.  Especially with the younger members of the family.  We talk about how come some animals eat grains and others eat veggies.  We discuss how to care for them and when they're old enough to mate, but the biggest topic of discussion is, who do we eat?

All know we raise animals and veggies for our daily sustenance and of course the girls try to negotiate who lives and who, well, comes to dinner.  The younger of the two girls has a unique way of determining who reaches the dinner table.  Should you hurt her, like one of the roosters did when he spurred her, you're up next.

Funny little story, she was feeding the chickens when one of the roosters flared up and spurred her. That's not the funny part.  Now he got her good and she was crying.  Of course grandma saw what happened and immediately told grandpa to prepare him for dinner.  Not having a problem with that at all, she refused to eat the first bite of dinner until said rooster was cut up and put on her plate.

The next day she was helping with the goats and one of them challenged her by rearing up at her.  She firmly stood her ground and looked right at the goat and said, "do it again and see what happens."  It seems if you hurt or scare her, you're ripe for the picking.  To dinner you will come.  I'm very happy to report, the goat backed down and those were the only two unpleasant encounters she's had thus far.

Now the youngest of the grandsons who is here, likes not having to go to the grocery store for food.  Sometimes he'll announce he wants chicken for dinner, so go get one from the yard.  I'm happy they know where their food comes from and even happier they're okay with the process.  Too many times I think we coddle our children, wanting to protect and shelter them.  In doing so, I believe we send them out into a world that is not always safe and warm.  The more we teach them about life the more we will send out into the world prepared, self-reliant, hard working individuals.  What better thing can we do for our children?

I would also like to report, number two granddaughter now goes into the chicken coop with a large shovel in hand.  I believe she is prepared.

Have a safe and blessed day.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Joys of Life

When homesteading one of the things you should always remember, take time to enjoy life.  There are always chores to do and reasons to not do one thing or another, but remember we only go around once in this world so have some fun.

This weekend was busier than usual but so enjoyable.  Saturday we went to two birthday parties and had a wonderful time.  Both were held together for two beautiful cousins.  One for a six year old little girl who wanted everyone in costumes.  I must say she made a beautiful princess and the other for a lovely young lady who turned fourteen.  Going made my heart happy.  Seeing two girls with such a gap in age both enjoying the day.  The parties were held in their church hall, with half the room in pink and white with balloons and the other half a little more sophisticated, white, black and green.  Each had their own time with a meal in between to give a nice interlude.

Today we had a wedding to attend.  A very lovely event with much joy and happiness.  The young man is a very long time friend of our son.  He and his beautiful bride had smiles so big on their faces they could have lit the world from the glow.  How much it reminded me of our own wedding day and the happiness we felt. 

Another unexpected joy happened by a chance encounter.  Later this evening we met with some family to sit in the breeze by the water.  When we arrived we saw two friends who live out of town.  They unexpectedly decided to pack up for a few days or so and come into town.  So a chance meeting gave even more joy and laughter to an already fabulous weekend.

Times like the past two days give us time to pause and refocus on what life is really about.  Two wonderful days of family and friends celebrating life's joys will always be to coin a phrase, the best of times.  So for tonight we go to bed with joy in our hearts and love in the world.

Have a great and blessed day.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

When Life Has A Different Plan

Thank goodness for having many hands.  The other day as I was working in the garden I reached for a 40 lb. bag of humus.  That's when it happened, the loudest pop I think I have ever heard.  I popped a rib.  I believe the pain is only second to child birth.  So after the family came running over to see what the scream was for, a lawn chair was brought to grandma and I was helped by some of the sweetest medics (grandchildren) I have ever had.

So what do you do when you can't help?  Write a book..  A how to book.  I will attempt to help you put thought to how you will start and what to consider before you begin to homestead.  I'll talk about how even those living in a city as well as those in rural or suburban areas can do this.  That's what I plan to do, but who knows... 

So there you go.  When something happens and your plans are quickly changed, look for options.   There are always options.  One of the options will allow me time to do a little research on the solar and wind we are trying to put on the house.   Speaking of which we thought we'd have all that up a couple of weeks ago but finding some of the connectors we needed is proving to be a little harder then we thought.  So like I said time for research.

So for the rest of the family chores go on, schoolwork, feeding animals, collecting eggs, gardening, next week canning etc.  As for grandma, I'll do what the doctor says and rest the ribs, take 10 deep breaths an hour (to prevent pneumonia) and write. 

Have a great and blessed day.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Please Take More Than A Moment

Please take more than a moment to remember a morning that started like so many others and ended in a way we pray we will never see again.  Take more than a moment to remember the families with empty seats at their tables and children who will never know a parent.  Take more than a moment to remember those who ran to buildings to bring out people they didn't know.  Take more than a moment to remember the tears that filled our streets and the pain that filled our hearts.  Then take more than a moment to be grateful for the loved ones you can still hold, for the joys you can still share and for memories you can still make.

Father, on this day of mourning we pray for your peace.  We pray for those who are no longer here and for those who still are. We pray we never feel the pain we felt that fateful morning and our children may live in peace.  We pray for your healing touch. 

Father we turn to you and ask once again to bless this land to protect and save us.

In Jesus name we pray. 

May GOD bless all of you and please take more than a moment.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Underestimating and Accomplishments

Planning Thanksgiving dinner is one of my most favorite meals to get ready for.  So I've already started.  Now you may think it's a bit early to do so or even a little crazy but...  When dinner is walking around in the back yard you notice how much weight he is or isn't putting on.  Here's the question to ask yourself, is it time to increase the feed allotments.  Will young Tom be big enough for all those you have sitting at your table.  We're increasing the feed.  There will be at least 9 of us at our table so Tom needs to fatten up.

Planning this meal will consist of what we have already put up.  What we will have from the fall garden and what we can get from our local farmers.  You cannot understand until you've made one, how good a pumpkin pie can be from fresh pumpkins and not from a can or frozen.  Anytime you can make it fresh you are helping your family to get the nutrition they need without preservatives and building memories.  I don't know about you but I have fond memories of sitting at my grandmother's table with my mother, aunt and grandmother making pierogies.  My job was to crimp the ends with a fork, both sides.  Thanksgiving was so much fun; I helped stuff celery with cream cheese and a cream cheese and olive mix.  Fixing fruit bowls, cookie trays and nut baskets.  As for pies they bought them from a local diner and they were good, so good they were delicious. 

We often think life was simpler back then, and in some ways it was.  Remember though, there were problems those families had.  Problems that were much the same as ours today.  The big difference was they looked at the problems of the day in a different light.  They would look to each other.  There wasn't looking outward but inward.  How can we solve this problem together?

Though it may seem like I'm underestimating what many of us are facing,  I think we are underestimating what we can solve for ourselves.  When life hit us in the face with the reality that my husband wasn't able to work anymore, my first thought was to plant a bigger garden.  When there wasn't any money to buy new clothes, I pulled out the old patterns and when it came time to give a gift, we looked around and thought what can I make?

New things are nice to have and shopping can be fun but we need to recognize the difference between wants and needs.  Someday the wants may be a reality again but for now the needs are being taken care of.  You know it's funny, given the chance not to get the wants, you may come to the conclusion you really didn't want it after all.

So for now, I'll start planning a meal that gives a real sense of accomplishment.  A meal that we are truly thankful for.  We will also continue to give thanks to the one who gives us strength to carry on through all we are facing and allowing us to feel his presence.

Have a great and blessed day.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Baby Goats and Helpful Friends

Everyone loves to see a new kid (goat).  Last night a friend called to let us know of the birth.  Our buck sired the newest member of their herd (family).  She was beautiful and had her daddy's ears.  So very cute but the excitement of her birth was slightly overshadowed by another recent member of the herd.  Born on July 11, the little one had her first feeding of grain.  Just as we arrived to see the newest little girl, her slightly older sister started to vomit.  Something we had never seen before. 

Out came a laptop to go to the best site for goats we have found, fiascofarm.com.  But feeling a little more urgency, we decided to call another friend whom we all think of as the guru of goats.  She was over seeing her horse and said she was on her way.  Never have we called and she not come to help.  What a great person.  When she arrived in what seemed to be just mere minutes, she quickly assessed the situation. 

The little one was choking, by choking I mean had a small piece of grain stuck in her throat.  Yesterday had been the first day she had eaten grain.  By running the fingers down the neck, our friend was able to feel a lump in the throat.  Gently massaging the throat the little one was able to bring more up.  Our friend held the little one talking softly to her the whole time.  Shortly after, the lump subsided quite a bit.  The little one started hopping around and then it seemed to start again.  So the process began again.  Repeating the whole process the little one was once more out of discomfort.

One little side note I might mention; when goats vomit they don't do it like humans.  Seems they get a mouth full and slat the heads from side to side as a method of expelling the offending yuck.  This method allows all around to know they are sick.  A new and slightly unpleasant way of sharing.

The lesson of the day is; surround yourself with knowledgeable people.  Should you decide to homestead find folks who are already homesteading in your area.  They will be a great source of knowledge and equally a great source of encouragement.  Then one day you will be able to help others. 

Have a great and blessed day.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Kindness Brings a Warm Heart

Pear season is here and I will be making pear butter tomorrow.  The funny thing about the pears I'll be using is, 3 or 4 years ago I bought 3 pear trees.  Not having enough room for all of them I gave one to my neighbor.  Now the tree I gave away has bloomed every year full to the point of bending and possibly breaking with pears.  The 2 trees I planted have not born even 1 blossom.  Oh well I have a good neighbor who is willing to share and because of that, I will be making pear butter tomorrow.

This is why being neighborly is always a good thing.  When times are hard as they are now, one simple kindness can turn into another kindness.  In this case we have been blessed with pears.  This may seem like a little thing to you but to me in the cold winter months this pear butter will bring a warm feeling to my heart.

The recipe I use for the pear butter can be found in the Ball Blue Book of Preserving.  Many good recipes can be found in it and they are easy to follow.  Besides this book I also use the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and a Gooseberry Patch cookbook, Mom's Favorite Recipes, the sixth printing July, 2005.  This is the pasta sauce recipe I make every year.  This year I made approximately 80 quart jars.  We use this for everything from pasta to pizza.  I have to tell you something I found while canning, it becomes addictive.  Once I got over the fear of poisoning us, I couldn't stop canning.  The more I canned the more I wanted to can but at some point during the summer months that enthusiasm subsides and you long for the winter months where you can just enjoy the bounty of the summer.

Remember if you decide to start homesteading, try to curb the enthusiasm just a bit.  Not that you shouldn't be enthusiastic, just jumping all in can become overwhelming.  Starting slowly lets you get your feet wet and you develop the skills you need for each task in a much calmer and enjoyable atmosphere.

Have a safe and blessed day.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How this Journey Began

I've been asked several times what lead us to homesteading and how much land do we have.  Let's take the first part of the question, how the journey began.  Steve, my husband, was in the Air Force so we traveled with his service.  I always had liked to garden and would put a small veggie patch wherever we were stationed.  I guess it just reminded me of my childhood.  My grandfather always had a vegetable garden and he would let us help harvest.  When I say he had a garden to me as a child it looked like a farm.  It wasn't; my grandparents lived on the outskirts of the city and had an usually big back yard.  But fresh produce was always part of our diet.  Then a few years later my parents moved to the next town over.  We moved closer to my grandparents but were in fact in the next town.  Across the street was one of the nicest older couples I have ever met.  Mr. and Mrs. Williams.  I don't mind using their names because they have long gone to be with the Lord.  Once a year the Williams would go out of town and I would watch over the house and garden when they left.  Mr. Williams would carefully walk me through the garden and tell me every detail I would need to know.  What to do if I saw a certain bug, or if I saw the beginnings of a fungus.  He tended the garden like most mothers watch over their children.  Now Mrs. Williams was a wonderful person herself.  She knitted and canned.  How I can remember her cherry preserves.  Back to the story.  Part of my pay was all the vegetables that ripened while they were gone.  So a love for gardening was cultivated early for me.

But the story really begins June of 1987 in Naples, Italy.  As I said Steve was in the Air Force and stationed there.  I had told him I was making lasagna for dinner, it was his favorite.  Well long story made short, he was in a horrible car accident on his way home.  He was taken to a local Italian hospital where he awoke to cuts being cleaned with alcohol.  This was the beginning of a long journey.  Over the years he was not doing as well as a young healthy man in his late twenties and thirties should.  He would go to the doctors many times and be told they knew he thought something was wrong but they couldn't find anything.  Doctor after doctor said the same thing.  Test after same test was done over and over with the same results, until one day in November of 2007.   Steve got up for work and collapsed.  He mustered some energy and continued to get ready for work.  He looked awful; for the first time since the accident in Italy I thought if he left for work I would never see him again.  I asked him to stay home that day; like many days his day was filled with meetings and appointments he couldn't miss.  I told him if he insisted on going to work I would drive him.  I know I'm not making this all that short, but I am working to the beginning of the journey.  Again long story short, he agreed to stay home and go to the doctors one more time.  That was the first day of Steve's very early medical retirement.

He was diagnosed with what is now called a TBI or Traumatic Brain Injury.  His body had been deteriorating for 20 years.  His Pituitary Gland was all but dead.  He had Osteoporosis to the point one good sneeze could break his back.  His memory was not at all good and he was sleeping 15 to 16 hours a day.  He was up for work and the drive there and home and sleep the rest of the time.  When the diagnosis was finally made he was to say at the least a mess. 

This is where my self taught PHD in cause and effect of medical treatments and food come to be. The treatments he was going to be on got me thinking a lot about our diets and how food would play into the changes.  Then a very simple encounter in a hardware store with a nurse I happened to be standing in front of in line, really got me thinking.  How safe is our food?  So with computer in hand and the internet at my disposal, I researched his condition, the treatments and how the meat and vegetables we eat are given or sprayed with the same hormones. 

Now Steve's hormone levels are checked every 3 to 4 months to make sure they aren't too high or too low.  Then I decided he or I didn't need any additional hormones in our food.  So that's how the journey really began.

Now for how much land we have.  It happens that just 18 months before he collapsed we bought a small farm style house on just over a half acre of land.  I had a friend who attended church with us, whose daughters were in 4-H.  They were raising chickens, ducks and goats.  They had just hatched a large amount of biddies and were selling them.  So our daughter who was staying with us while her husband was deployed and I went to the store and ran in to my friend and she told us of the biddie sale.  We followed her home and of course fell in love with the babies.  The short of it was, we came home with 24 little cheeping, fluffy chicks.  Not knowing the first thing about raising chicks didn't bother us in the least.  I know GOD was watching over us, but I'm really not sure if he wasn't looking out for the biddies more.  So with said computer and internet we started reading and studying about chickens.  We built a coop (we call it the Taj Baccaw) and put up fencing.  That was the beginning of the animals. 

Again remembering about hormones in all the food we consume I thought about our milk.  So off I went again looking for dairy goats.  I found two beautiful La Mancha's.  Now when everyone saw them for the first time, we always got the same question.  What happened to their ears?  La Mancha's don't have regular ears.  They have little button ears, with fur over them.  They are by far the most docile and loving breed of goats.  When in milk we would get 2 to 3 quarts of milk from one of them a day.  But sadly our small 1/2 acre was not large enough for full size goats.  So Myra and Hope were given new homes with more land.  But then I found pygmy goats, Nigerian dwarfs to be exact and they fit.  Well of course after the goats and chickens, how hard could a couple of rabbits be, right?  Well like I said before they do breed like bunnies, hahaha.  So now we had goats, chickens and rabbits.  I thought how hard would it be for a couple of turkeys?  Surprisingly they were the hardest to raise.  Not that you can't do it.  It just took a little more studying.

Well our daughter's husband has recently been medically retired from the Army.  One day we all took a ride to Tractor Supply.  May I suggest you don't go there in the spring.  They have animals.  Chickens and ducks to be exact.  So can you guess what happened next?  You got it, 9 little ducks found a home. 

Of course we have cats and dogs as well.  Dogs to keep predators away and cats, well if you have animals you have feed, if you have feed you have mice and if you have mice, you need a good mouser.

So this is how our journey began.  1 small farmhouse, just over a 1/2 acre of land, Noah's ark as my family and friends say and a garden.  With a good plan for land management, a lot of prayer to and help from the good Lord you too can have a small homestead.

I would like to suggest a book that may be out of print but you can still find copies; Gardening by the square inch.  Also Readers Digest has a series of books I find very helpful,  Back to Basics, Self-Sufficiency and Homesteading.  Each of these books are almost word for word the same but you may find one or two things in each that the others don't have.  Another book I use a lot is Storey's Basic Country Skills.  I have others and will make a list in another post but this should get you started.

Have a safe and blessed day.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Quick Tip 1

From time to time I thought I might throw out a Quick Tip.  So today's Quick Tip is, when baking cakes and cupcakes you can substitute applesauce or pear butter for the oil in your recipe.  This is a healthier choice and doesn't change the taste.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Beginning a New Season

I love decorating for the fall.  The rich colors inspire me. So today being the 1st of September, I'm already thinking of scarecrows, wreaths and pumpkins.  It doesn't take much to decorate and bring a little happiness into our lives.

Sometimes with all that is weighing on us, we have to look to the little things to brighten up our days.  So, don't have much money to decorate, no problem.  Lets start with the scarecrow.  Do the kids or better yet the husband, have any old clothes they have outgrown or you don't want them wearing anymore?  You'll also need a few safety pins, a belt or rope and straw, if you don't have straw, old newspaper will help in a pinch.  Stuff the pants with straw or paper.  Then button the shirt and pin the hem to the pants.  Continue stuffing the shirt, body and arms.  Now for a head, take an old pillow case (one you don't mind drawing on) and stuff it also.  Tie off the opening with string or yarn and pin the head to the body.  Now if you have straw you can put a little coming out of the arms and legs and retie them off.  Two ways you can display your scarecrow, you can one set him/her in a chair or two you can stand him/her up.  You'll need a pole for the second option.  Don't worry about buying one, you can use an old mop or broom handle or go outside and look for a long branch that might have fallen.  Stuff it up the back of the shirt on the scarecrow.  Don't forget to draw a face and put a hat if you would like to.  There you have your first fall decoration.  Little to no cost, depending on what you have around the house.

Thinking of fall also brings to mind the holidays and the food drives that come with them.  Many don't have enough to eat and you may find you or someone you know in this situation.  I understand that's a very hard place to be.  With a little preparing you may be able to avoid this.  If you're not canning from your garden and still going to the grocery store, take advantage of the sales.  In my area we have a store that has a deal once or so a month.  Buy 2 get 3 free, usually there is a limit, but only a limit on each purchase not how many times you go back (so take your purchase to the car and go back in and start again).  Say you wanted five cans of soup.  So buy the two and get the 3 free but don't stop there.  Buy 2 more and get three more free.  You were going to buy five anyway, so you paid for four and got six more free.  If you do this with other products you will soon find a pantry that is full.  So if you come across hard times, you'll still be able to feed your family with products you have stored for such circumstances.

There are little things you can do, day by day to help yourself.  In doing these things the feeling of helplessness goes away and you feel much better even in the worst of times.  Remember, the longest journey begins with but a single step.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Some Lessons Hurt

Today the grandchildren learned a hard and heartbreaking lesson.  Doing the normal outside chores, someone forgot to close the gate and one of the dogs got loose.  He ran right to the road and then we heard the bang.  In just that split second he was hit.  There was not any time to get him to the vet.  Grandchildren standing outside crying just as hard as they could.  Mommy and I got them in the house, while daddy and grandpa tended to Scooby.   We all talked and came to the conclusion Scooby was now in Heaven with Jesus and the baby goat we lost 2 days after she was born. 

Never knowing from day to day what life will bring we all have to face challenges.  Some may come with the loss of family or friends (including the 4 legged friends).  Some may come with illness or loss of a job.  But whatever the challenge you may face, please always remember you are never truly alone.  Though you may feel like you are, you aren't.  Jesus is always there just for the asking.

So today brought a hard lesson to young children who loved with all their hearts.  Maybe a reminder for all of us.  Even what may seem to be a very insignificant thing could have heartbreaking consequences. 

Have a safe and blessed day.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Life is Good

Today looks to be a beautiful day.  Animals are fed and its time to work on the plan for clearing a small piece of land to move nannies and their future kids.  It will be so nice to have goat milk again.  Some say its quite pungent and it can be.  The trick is to keep your bucks far from the does.  The closer the bucks the more pungent the milk. 

We also have to move the rabbits.  So, I know your thinking bunnies, awww adorable.  Not really, I don't care how adorable my dinner is.  Just as in gardening and wanting to know where the veggies I can come from, I want to know where the meat I eat comes from.  I know what it eats, how it was cared for and if they were given antibiotics or not.  So much is done to our food before we ever get it.  I firmly believe this is the reason we have so much more illness around us. 

So we'll have a day of rearranging the animals.  This may not sound like a lot of fun, but for me it is.  The real joy in working towards a self-sustaining life style, is progress.  The satisfying feeling when you've reached just one more level toward your goal and the peace of doing a good days work.

So many people are unemployed or under employed and wake each day without a sense of purpose.  Working towards a self-sustaining and or a self-sufficient life gives you that purpose.  Gives you a reason to get up and start the day with resolve.  People were never meant to sit around idly and do nothing.  Life may have dealt you a bad hand, so will you throw in the cards or reshuffle the deck for a new hand that's the choice you'll have to make.

Rabbits, goats, I live in the city.  All this sounds nice if you live in the country but I don't.  I can't do this.  Well maybe you can.  I've heard of some cities allowing goats as pets, as long as you name them.  Rabbits, yeah you can do that as well.  You know they breed like bunnies, hahaha.  How about chickens?  Some cities will allow you to have up to 5 hens (no roosters).  They really are very easy to care for and if you clean the coop on a regular basis there isn't an odor problem.  There are easy to build instructions for coops online or you can buy one already built.

So that's it for today.  Take 5 minutes and improve your lot.
Waking up every morning is a gift from GOD, so why waste it with negativity?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

How the Times have changed

As summer is coming to a close in just a few weeks, I often think how quickly the seasons seem to be passing.  For many Fall is a depressing time.  The end of the summer blooms, the shortening of the days and in many places cooler and wetter weather.  To me I find the coming of Fall to be one of my most favorite times of the year.  The beautiful colors in the changing of the leaves. A gentle breeze with just a slight chill in the air, while sitting on the patio in the early evening with a small fire in the pit and my favorite cup of tea.  The festivals celebrating the harvests of the year.  These truly are the things that make life good.

But summer isn't over yet and there is much left to do before it does end.  Putting in the fall garden is at the top of the list.  Root plants, squashes, spinach, lettuce, and many other good veggies.  I think of this time as finishing gathering fruits and veggies for the long winter to come.  It is truly a good feeling to know the pantry will be filled and long lines at the grocery stores are now a thing of the past.

We are also looking to expand the goat pen and anticipating the newest members of our flock.  They'll be joining us around the beginning of November.  It is always fun when the kids arrive but much to do before the blessed event.

Being self-sufficient means a long list of chores that seems to never end.  Our family has many hands to help and we are truly grateful for that.  My husband has health issues which stops him from doing a lot of the repairs and chores.  We are one of the many families now living with multiple generations in the same house.  Some think it shouldn't be that way but not living together is a fairly new occurrence. 

Up until WWII, generations did so to help share the workload and for lack of money in many cases.  Farmers who were as self-sufficient as any, had large families to keep the farm running.  WWII changed that with the returning of Veterans and the housing boom that came along with the VA Loan Program.  This was the beginning of the end in being self-sufficient.  Returning GI's moved to the suburbs and the birth of the nuclear family began.  No more working the family farm, the GI Bill now had people who would not have ever thought of college before going.  Thus began the idea that everyone had to go to college.  Realizing not everyone was meant for college, trade schools were a welcome opportunity for returning GI's to find work off the farm.  The nation prospered but was losing the character which had built this land.  Continuing into the 1950's, what was once vast farm land was now suburbs for the sprawling metropolises.  Fresh picked fruits and veggies were now in cans for convenience sake and meat in markets not smokehouses.

Something else also changed the character of the country, prayer.  Prayer was no longer allowed in schools.  What brought people across the mighty oceans (religious freedom) was in fact now being taken away.  Many are unfamiliar with this piece of history, but Congress commissioned the first Bible to be printed in the newly formed country called the United States.  The dedication was so school children could learn from it.  How far have we moved from that idea.

So back to being self-sufficient.  Due to a number of decisions over the years to relinquish liberties in the name of safety and security, we find ourselves with an inordinate amount of regulations constricting the ability to remain self-sufficient.  One example is bartering, it is considered a taxable income.  Not being able to give extra food from your garden to soup kitchens is another.  Fortunately folks are beginning to realize, old ways are not always antiquated in new times.  Meaning to get through the financial difficulties many find themselves in now, we have to become more self-sustaining and self-sufficient.

Friday, August 23, 2013

HWY 70E  WILLISTON NC  252-729-1842
Now when it comes to canning you may find you aren't able to have all the variety you're wanting.  So it may become necessary to purchase the additional fruits and vegetables.  Knowing where your food comes from helps to eliminate concerns.  Going back to the basics is easy and it helps with the family budget.  Now getting started you will find some extra expenses for jars, lids, jar lifter, canner (which can be any large pot, but make sure you put extra rings on the bottom so the jars don't make direct contact with the bottom of the pot) and a few odds and ends.  You can slowly build a supply of jars by adding a case or three each year to those you already have.  Some of the items you may find at yard sales and flea markets but I find it better to start out slow and build your supplies.  I have to warn you though, canning can become additive.  I have peaches and plums to can today and I'm already thinking of what to can after I've finished. 
Many of the people I know are now wanting to eliminate toxins and chemicals from their foods.  When you think about all the pesticides and growth hormones that are sprayed on fruit trees and vegetables and don't forget our livestock is eating grasses and grains that may have been sprayed.  Speaking of meat, the antibiotics they give the animals are actually causing resistant bacterial strains, that are affecting all of us.  Feeding your family from your own garden, a local nursery or farmers market can become less expensive and much safer in the long run.
There are so many ways to cut the family budget.  I haven't bought laundry detergent in years.  I make my own in one of those 5 gallon paint buckets.  This time you will need the lid to go on it.  The recipe is really easy.  All you need is;
1)   5 gallon bucket with lid
2)   one grater
3)   a long stirring spoon
4)   pot
5)   1 bar of Fels Naptha soap  (can be found in some grocery stores and local hardware stores)
6)   1/2 cup of Borax
7)   1 cup of Washing Soda  (not to be confused with baking soda)
8)   1 cup of vinegar
9)   water
10)  an old clean laundry bottle
11)  essential oil (optional)
In a pot grate the bar of Fels Naptha soap, add 4 cups of hot water.  Stir on low to med heat until soap is dissolved.  Pour into a 5 gallon bucket that is half full with hot tap water.  Add Borax, Washing Soda and Vinegar and stir until all the powder is dissolved.  Fill the rest of the way with hot water  and stir in essential oil if you like (I don't).  Let sit overnight.  In the morning stir well ( it becomes a gel) until it is a liquid form again.  Fill an old clean detergent bottle half full of soap mix and add water from the tap to finish filling the bottle.  Shake each time you use.  Use in a top loading machine 5/8 of a cup and in a front loading machine 1/4 cup.  You will have to stir the 5 gallon bucket each time you refill your laundry bottle.  It gets easier each time.
I also use a cup of white vinegar during the rinse cycle instead of fabric softener.  It is a natural fabric softener and doesn't leave a scent.  There are recipes for fabric softeners, I have never used them.
Doing and making things for yourself always gives a great sense of accomplishment.  I remember days not feeling so well and coming home from work only to find we had run out of .... and had to go back out to the grocery store.  Now with planning and being more self sufficient those days are farther and fewer between.  With the start of school and the cold and flu season rapidly approaching there isn't a better feeling than knowing I don't have to be in the stores with people who maybe ill.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Facing Challenges

Since the beginning of our country, we have faced challenging times. Our families through the generations have found ways to overcome these challenges. We hope to look backward in order to move forward. Meaning, with unemployment and under-employment where it is now, many families are trying to balance the family budget with needs. We hope to look to our history in order to simplify our future.
One of the challenges many families are facing right now, is how to feed everyone a good and healthy meal. As parents we are always wanting to give our kids the best nutrition we can. But with limited income that isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Prices in our local grocery stores are a lot of the time price prohibiting. So, what do we do? Hot dogs, that’s it, hot dogs. Oh yum, nitrates on a bun. Frozen boxed pizza; I don’t know if it still an ingredient because honestly I haven’t had frozen pizza in many many years, but glue was once an ingredient. I’d rather give the kids Elmer’s for school, not dinner.
So, what do we do? Garden, wait listen, I haven’t lost my mind. Yeah yeah I hear you, I live in the city or even worse an apartment. I can’t do that. Yeah, you really can. If you don’t have a lot of room in a yard or you live in an apartment you can still garden. Garden in containers. You heard me right, it doesn’t have to be a fancy container. I’m thinking the plainer the better. Try using a 5 gallon paint bucket. You can get them at most big box stores and local hardware stores. Then let the kids paint the outside of the container. Two reasons for letting the kids get involved. The more involved they are, the more ownership they have. The more ownership they have, the more they are likely to eat the food you’re going to grow. Make sure to drill drainage holes in the bucket. Good drainage, means good roots, means health and fruitful plants. I have personally grown, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers in buckets. All you need is sunlight, water and good soil. Let us not forget lettuce. Ok not a good pun but lettuce can be grown in flower boxes. For those in an apartment a window with good sunlight and table works, if you don’t have even a small balcony. You can also use hanging baskets. Instead of an ivy plant try strawberries. Think how much the kids or even you would like to pick fresh strawberries for breakfast or even a snack for school or work.
Think upward; all gardens don’t have to be in the ground with straight rows, (if you want that it’s ok.) Go to yard sales and flea markets and think outside the box. Did you see that old ladder, you know the one you wouldn’t let your cat stand on. It’s only a dollar. I know you’re thinking that’s dollar wasted. As one of my favorite comedians would say, Oh nay nay. The ladder is now a tower for climbing plants such as pole beans. Fresh green beans that sounds good and don’t worry if you have more than you can eat. You can always freeze the extra, but I like to can. There is nothing better than eating food you grew yourself in the dead of winter.
Let me give you another reason for growing your own food. How many times have you gone to the grocery store only to come home and listen to the nightly news and hear of another food recall. I love knowing where my food came from and what was used on it. In my case I don’t use pesticides. My husband has some health issues and because of the medications he’s on I really want to know where our food comes from. I guess it really hit home when I was listening to the news and heard what some thought was the funniest thing they had ever heard, but it scared me. A field of watermelons blew up. Yeah I said blew up. The watermelons were over sprayed with growth hormones. Growth Hormones are not only for professional ball players it seems. They spray it on produce and feed it to our livestock.  Which means it is in the veggies, fruits, meat and yes milk our families eat and drink.  A few years ago I was talking to a doctor. I told him I had a conversation with another doctor about growth hormones being used in our food. I had said I thought the hormones remained in the food after it had been harvested or slaughtered. She had disagreed. But he didn’t. He told me he had been practicing medicine for many years. When he started young girls started their menstrual cycles around age 12. Now he was seeing young girls as early as 8 and 9 years old starting their cycles. Something’s changing he said and the use of growth hormones was at the top of his list.
Having said all that, I’ll conclude with this. Our grandparents and great grandparents fed large families with very little money. For them like many now, there wasn’t the opportunity for overtime. Money was used as sparingly as possible. Everything they ate, they grew. They harvested and preserved the food. Saved seeds from the food they harvested to plant in the future. Looking to the past can and will help us now and in the future. Should you decide to leave the local grocery store for your own yard, please remember to find seeds that have not been genetically modified. After your first harvest you can gather the seeds so you can continue gardening over and over.