Monday, December 19, 2011

Come One and All - Lessons by Lego

Today, my children and I came up with an ingenious plan. Make a nativity scene with legos.

No doubt this has been done... I'll google that when I'm done here. :)

But we were thrilled to have thought of it. We immediately began planning and gathering the pieces we would be needing. How does one make a lego baby???? What can we do for the wise men's gifts?

As we gathered all the pieces, it became clear that even with our best efforts, this was not going to look like the common nativity scene, with flowing robes, crowns, and sheep. Our lego-men consisted of pirates, space men, and airport employees.



And while my children were getting frustrated, the Holy Spirit reminded me of something more important than a 'picture perfect' display piece.

Jesus was born to die, not just for wise men and shepherds.

But for EVERYONE! Consider the bible story all by itself. Who was there? Some animals and angels. Some wise men and shepherds. These wise men were well educated, wealthy and revered. While shepherds were poor, unwashed common folk who cared for flocks of animals in the wilderness. Yet these two classes were both uniquely invited to this event.

So I was able to share with my children a beautiful point with our lego nativity.



Pirates, Space men, Airplane pilots, policemen, Mamas and Daddies, Little Boys and Little Girls....

Our path to salvation is the same.

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."
Luke 2:11-12

So come, one and all. Be ye a pirate, a spaceman, or just another type of commoner... You are called, and you are welcome. Receive the greatest gift that the season has to offer!

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23



May God richly bless you and yours!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Finding Joy in Troubles

I slept peacefully as my husband got up and began preparing for work. As I slowly became aware that the shower was running, I started to wake and fed the baby. Then crawled out of bed with my brain not quite on 'GO' yet. For me, this is a very typical morning.

My husband came out, much sooner than I expected and told me, "There's no water."

No water.... What a way to start the day.

So he dressed to go out and check the well house, while I began preparing breakfast. For me, it was straightforward, and took just a bit of thinking. Can't make oatmeal, can't make pancakes. Eggs and bacon on the griddle. Then I went to work digging through my pantry for our jugs of stored water.
Here is where prepping comes in handy. No water does not equal an emergency in my home. I LOVE THAT!

Sweet, unshowered husband comes back to inform me that the pipe around the pump sensor is frozen. The heater in our well house just couldn't cut it, I guess.

So we sit and eat and he heads to work. The day moves on as usual for the most part. For me, some small things need to be thought out and arranged. A large bucket of water in the restroom for flushing. A small jug in the kitchen and bathroom for washing hands. I probably should heat up some water also for washing dishes, and for little babies diaper wipes. Nothing like cold water on a naked baby butt *CRINGE*. And drinking water in the fridge.

We're set.

The weather promises to warm up for a week or two now, so hopefully by the end of the day, the pipes will be clear and flowing again.

Like so many of our struggles lately.... we find that our 'troubles' are simply results of our numerous blessings!
We have frozen pipes today because we moved out here and are on sweet, blessed well water. (We had frozen pipes frequently in the city as well, but didn't count that water as so blessed. LOL)

We are nearly out of feed for our birds today because they are numerous and laying daily, healthy and strong.
The floors in my house are constantly filthy despite daily vacuuming because we have moved out and started the mud farm we dreamed about.

The sink is full of dishes because my family had LOTS of delicious food to eat. (Honestly I was washing them last night, past my bed time, but STILL more linger. UGH!)
The laundry room is full of muddy clothes because my vivacious children insist on going out to play even in this ridiculously cold weather.

But hopefully, you can see.... these troubles aren't really troubles at all. Just a moment to breath in and out, think about it..... and the perspective changes.

We are not troubled.
We are BLESSED! Mightily blessed by a Loving God.

Look at your troubles.

How many of them are true troubles with no hope in sight?

And how many of them are blessings that the enemy doesn't want you to see? :)



http://www.ihichristiandecor.com/speak_his_word_3.html

Friday, December 9, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tonight's Research - Basic Pig Care

During these cold winter months, my husband and I are stretching our brains and planning ahead for next spring and growing the homestead. While I dream of milk cows, my husband apparently dreams of pigs. I think he is addicted to bacon. :)



So, we are currently looking into the BASICS of pig care. Of course, as in all my research, I turn to google. I pride myself on finding everything I ever look for there. I know it is built for simpletons like me, and we work well together.

Google - "how to pig"

Yep. Easy as that.

I came across some great resources.

http://www.ehow.com/pigs/ - A collection of several articles ranging from basic care, basic butchering, and even some on breeding.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Sustainable-Farming/1980-05-01/How-To-Raise-Healthy-Pigs.aspx - A great inclusive article on the basics of raising pigs and what you can expect from the whole process.

So far, as I understand it, caring for a pig is pretty simple. They eat ALOT, and produce copious ammounts of manure which is excellent for your garden. They don't sweat, so their biggest requirement in housing is that it needs to have a large shady area, and possibly a muddy pool. And, pigs are notoriously intelligent and strong. Just a fence will not do. Sturdy fencing, electric wire and even a trench filled with rocks and logs are required to keep in these rooting beasties. Add to this a three walled shelter (big enough for full grown girth) and you are set!

One particular suggestion I am considering to be priceless. "Grow russian comfrey."



In the past, in my research on herbal remedies, I came across comfrey again and again. It is marvelous used in salves and poultices. It is an extremely prolific plant. Practically impossible to kill, any cuttings 2" or more will grow a new plant. It grows very large and hardy, producing an excellent, balanced feed for your swine in great quantity. It also is an extremely nitrogen rich plant and when added to your compost will speed up the heating and breakdown of your pile.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Garnered Wisdom - Reusing a Canning Lid

I can ALL THE TIME.

I have an assortment of Ball and Kerr Jars. And I use the common canning lids by Ball and Kerr, as well as the reusable Tattler lids.

When my neighbor invited me to lunch with her mother, a canning enthusiast as well (having raised 11 children), I brought a few jars of recently canned stew. She asked about the Tattler lids and I explained that they were reusable.

Her mother said, "What do you mean reusable?"

I told her that the rubber rings and plastic lids could be canned with again and again, guaranteed for 20 years' use.

She smiled. "I reuse all my lids."

I was shocked. Being adventurous in my canning, I had tested my own lids. I knew that the 'experts' said each canning lid could only be used for one and only one seal. I had tried to reuse my lids. More than 50% did not seal for me and I never tried again.

Again, she responded with that smile. "I have reused all my lids for years."

Oh I was dying to know HOW!

She grabbed a canning lid and explained her invaluable wisdom to me.

As long as the rubber ring is whole and intact, the lid is capable of a seal. The problem is NOT the lid.

The problem is the screw top RING!

While canning, pressure is built up inside the jar and some air is released from each one, creating its vacuum seal. This released pressure actually warps and pushes out on the top of each canning ring.

She showed me how using a spoon I could easily press each ring back into shape. Pressing the curved of the spoon down onto the inside rim of the ring, turning the jar so that I press around the entire edge.

As I did this, I could see in many spots that this portion of the ring was indeed bubbled up.

I then proceeded to can 35 pints and 7 quarts of pumpkin.

I also wipe all my jar lids and rims with vinegar before closing them up. This increased my seal rate even when using new lids.

I share this technique with a 100% seal rate to back it up. I already called and gave many thanks to my neighbor's mother. She blessed my home more than she might ever know.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Somebody to Love

We have a new pet at our home.

Or should I say, My husband has a new pet.

Meet.....Hokey.



My husband dotes on Hokey. Hand feeds him. Changes his swimming water with fresh warm water about once every hour. Sits on the couch watching TV together. And today, my husband brought home feeder fish.

Hokey ate about 5 already.

My husband is RIGHT NOW feeding him another and trying to get a video of it. I think, the duck might pop, but I do hear Hokey, "Peep, Peep, Peep,"ing from the other room for more.

Anybody know if you can house train a duck? Google here I come.....

We Have CHICKS!

We are so excited to announce our first chicks!

Yes, we have raised MANY birds since moving to our home sweet home. But these chicks are from our very own eggs lain by the hens we have joyfully raised since April.

See their beautiful eggs!!!



We have just been putting them in their as they are laid. So for the next month we are expecting more hatches at any time. From now one we will be holding them for up to a week to make it a little more organized.

Sunday night we saw two eggs had pipped!



And this morning were greeted by two beautiful chicks. It is always sooooo surprising how little they are, how soft, how adorable. Sweet, sweet babies.



Yeah, I think mine are pretty sweet too. <3

Monday, November 14, 2011

BEST Read of the Day: FULL of Awesome

I found this absolutely marvelous read today.
Pigtail Pals: Waking Up Full Of Awesome.

--------------------------
There was a time when you were five years old,
and you woke up full of awesome.

You knew you were awesome.

You loved yourself.

You thought you were beautiful,
even with missing teeth and messy hair and mismatched socks inside your grubby sneakers.

You loved your body, and the things it could do.

You thought you were strong.

You knew you were smart.

Do you still have it?
The awesome.

Did someone take it from you?
Did you let them?
Did you hand it over, because someone told you weren’t beautiful enough, thin enough, smart enough, good enough?
Why the hell would you listen to them?
Did you consider they might be full of shit?

Wouldn’t that be nuts, to tell my little girl below that in another five or ten years she might hate herself because she doesn’t look like a starving and Photoshopped fashion model?
Or even more bizarre, that she should be sexy over smart, beautiful over bold?
Are you freaking kidding me?

Look at her. She is full of awesome.

You were, once. Maybe you still are. Maybe you are in the process of getting it back.

All I know is that if you aren’t waking up feeling like this about yourself, you are really missing out.

Tonight's Research - How to Butcher a Cow

A couple of weeks ago my family went to the Livestock Auction. For me, this was like visiting a toy store. Row upon row of sheep, goats, pigs, llamas, and cows, cows, cows and more cows. The prices blew me away. I strongly urge everyone to check out their local auction house.

I want a dairy cow SOOOOOOOOOO much.

But I know very little about their needs and care. It was recommended that we start with a beef cow first. This way we learn to care for a cow and then, after we have that figured out, get a milk cow, adding the duties of breeding, calving, and milking.

Some of caring for a cow seems pretty simple. Fencing, Pasture, Housing. Looking ahead at the needs of our farmstead, we realize, we will be raising some of these animals directly for food, ie. beef.

Do we have what it takes to slaughter and butcher an animal for our dinner?

We have done chicken, duck, rabbit, and now goat just in the short time since moving out here. Honestly, the hardest issue with this is our soft squishy hearts. Silly farmers crying over their dinner. But we thank the Lord for our animals, and for helping us to provide an enjoyable, free range, healthy life for them, before they bless our table.

It seems that the mere size of the animal is going to be the largest difference. Will we be able to hang it for more ease on our backs, and have gravity help with the skinning? What tools are needed? Sharp knives for separating meat and skin, strong saw for cutting through joints and bones.

I look forward to some homegrown beef. And I pray and long for the day we have some sweet homegrown milk and cheese to go along with it. And I will enjoy every morning looking out upon my growing farmstead, with poultry scratching and squawking through the gardens and orchards, cows and goats munching the tall grasses and nuzzling my hand as I walk by them, and my children laughing and playing in the trees and mud. Sounds like a piece of heaven to me.

How to Butcher a Cow

Diagram of How to Butcher a Beef Cow

YouTube Video: Butchering a Cow

HowStuffWorks: How to slaughter and butcher a cow – A fascinating look at the meat we eat

MadeManual: How To Butcher A Cow

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Resource Found - 52 Weeks of Food Storage

I came across this list today while scanning Pinterest, my latest obsession (thanks kd).



52 Weeks of Food Storage
For around $10 a week you can slowly build your food storage to provide 52 weeks of food for 2 adults.

I found this list at One Good Thing by Jillie.

Week 1 – 6 lbs. salt
Week 2 – 5 cans cream of chicken soup
Week 3 – 20 lbs. sugar
Week 4 – 8 cans tomato soup
Week 5 – 25 lbs. flour
Week 6 – 6 lbs. pasta
Week 7 – 6 lbs. brown sugar
Week 8 – 8 cans tuna
Week 9 – 1 lb. each of yeast, baking soda and baking powder
Week 10 - 50 lbs. wheat
Week 11 – 8 cans tomato soup
Week 12 – 20 lbs. sugar
Week 13 – 10 lbs. powdered milk
Week 14 – 7 boxes macaroni & cheese
Week 15 – 25 lbs. rice
Week 16 – 5 cans cream of chicken soup
Week 17 – 1 bottle vitamins
Week 18 – 12 cans evaporated milk
Week 19 – 5 cans cream of mushroom soup
Week 20 – 50 lbs. wheat
Week 21 – 8 cans tomato soup
Week 22 – 10 lbs. beans
Week 23 – 8 cans tuna
Week 24 – 3 lbs. shortening, 3 lbs. oil
Week 25 – 25 lbs. rice
Week 26 – 5 lbs. honey
Week 27 – 10 lbs. powdered milk
Week 28 – 20 lbs. sugar
Week 29 – 5 lbs. peanut butter
Week 30 – 50 lbs. wheat
Week 31 – 7 boxes macaroni and cheese
Week 32 – 2 qt. mayonnaise
Week 33 – 1 bottle aspirin
Week 34 – 5 cans cream of chicken
Week 35 – 50 lbs. wheat
Week 36 – 7 boxes macaroni and cheese
Week 37 – 6 lbs. salt
Week 38 – 10 lbs. beans
Week 39 – 8 cans tomato soup
Week 40 – 25 lbs. flour
Week 41 – 5 cans cream of chicken
Week 42 – 20 lbs. sugar
Week 43 – 1 bottle vitamins
Week 44 – 8 cans tuna
Week 45 – 50 lbs. wheat
Week 46 – 6 lbs. pasta
Week 47 – 20 lbs. sugar
Week 48 – 6 cans cream of mushroom
Week 49 – 5 lbs. honey
Week 50 – 10 lbs. of rolled oats
Week 51 – 8 cans tomato soup
Week 52 – 50 lbs. wheat

You will end up with: (for 2 people)

300 lbs. wheat-----need 600 lbs.--includes rolled oats, pasta,
12 lbs. pasta
50 lbs. rice
50 lbs. flour
10 lbs. rolled oats
100 lbs. sugar----need 120 lbs. --includes honey, brown sugar
10 lbs. honey
6 lbs. brown sugar
20 lbs. powdered milk----need 150 lbs.
12 cans evaporated milk---
3 lbs. shortening---- need 70 lbs.
3 lb. oil
2 qt. mayonnaise
5 lbs. peanut butter
2 qt. mayonnaise
5 lbs. peanut butter
24 cans of tuna fish----need 40 lbs. of meats
20 lbs. beans---need 190 lbs of legumes
1 lb. yeast
1 lb. baking soda
1 lb. baking powder
12 lbs. salt
2 bottles vitamins
1 bottle of aspirin
11 cans cream of mushroom soup
20 cans of cream of chicken soup
40 cans of tomato soup
21 boxes macaroni and cheese

Now this list does not include water needs at all. It is recommended that you provide one gallon of water per person per day. This covers drinking water and minimal hygiene needs. And as the list points out, it doesn't actually fill in all your food needs. Meat, beans, wheat, sugar, fats are lacking.
I think toothbrushes and first aid kits are important too. :)

Here is a food storage calculator so that you can estimate what your particular family's needs are.

But, this is an excellent resource to start with!

For many people the idea of food storage is daunting. How can one purchase hundreds of lbs of food and still remain within a tight budget? How does one store such goods?

The good news is, that many have come before you. Today, they can be called preppers, survivalists and such. But in days gone by, they were simply called homesteaders, pioneers, farmers... you know... NORMAL. Many of you remember playing Oregon Trail? Remember purchasing 100 lbs of salted beef? Same concept.

Now Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA recommends everyone to stock up at least 3 days worth of food and water for emergency preparedness. That means at least 3 days of food and water for you and your spouse, your children, your pets. And.... what about your mother? Your neighbors and their children? It is something to think about.

Especially if you are a follower of Christ. Off The Grid News - Practicing Biblical Hospitality In Hard Times: Are You Ready For 2011? clearly shows how time and again the bible calls us to step forward for others, to prepare to be hospitable, even in the face of our want. Maybe you think it won't come to that. But... you would do well to think and plan ahead. You would do well to prepare, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Don't think it is necessary?

Here is a list of US declared Natural disasters from 2011 alone. It could happen anytime and anyplace.

Gird yourself.
Say your prayers.
And stand tall.

<3

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tonight's Research - Learn a Language for 'Frugal' People

My husband and I have discussed learning languages for a while now for our homeschool, and for ourselves as well. We are most familiar with the Rosetta Stone program. But since we are oddballs, in every sense of the word, we do not run Microsoft or Mac on our PCs. We run linux. And while linux rocks in security, ease of use, administrating any number of business and home systems, and especially in cost, there is one small hurtle to overcome. Many programmers do not write their software with us in mind.

Of course, we will overcome. :)

So began our search for alternative methods to learn a language.

I have just found a treasure trove, and here it is.

Melnyks - Learn Mandarin Chinese Podcast: http://www.melnyks.com/

Russian Pod 101: http://www.russianpod101.com/

Arabic Pod 101: http://www.arabicpod101.com/

Hebrew Podcasts: http://hebrewpodcasts.com/

Notes In Spanish Podcast: http://www.notesinspanish.com/category/beginners-podcast/page/3/

Laura Speaks Dutch Podcast: http://www.podcastdirectory.com/podcasts/archive.php?iid=16485


These are just a few languages that I looked up, but I bet there are plenty more out there if you look for them.

And a tidbit for inquiring minds....

[caption id="attachment_1327" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Maps courtesy of www.theodora.com/maps used with permission."][/caption]

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tonight's Research - Cock or Hen?

It was not long after we moved on our homestead, that we purchased our very first little chicks. I had attempted to read and comprehend the how to's of chicken raising. Like so many other tasks, I have learned that I can garner so much more by DOING the task, than reading about it. Seeing those little peeping chicks at my local hardware/farm/garden store (run by my local mayor even lol) I knew I just had to jump in.

We started with 6 chicks.



I had no idea what I was purchasing, so I purchased 2 of each from the three varieties available. I afterwards took the time to read up on their breeds to discover their traits. Which lead me to go back and purchase 6 more of the egg laying varieties.

From their we purchased Muscovy ducks and discovered our family is allergic to duck eggs. That was NOT pleasant. But duck meat is tasty, so we decided to continue raising them for meat. Besides, they are EXCELLENT at controlling the slugs, which are so plentiful here.



We purchased a Little Giant incubator. We found a local poultry farm that sells fertile eggs to incubate. A distant relative sold us a beautiful Leahy Forced Air Incubator.



After our first batch hatched, we immediately started another. We can always tell the chickens and ducks we have hatched for ourselves vs those hatched by others. They know us. They linger longer, and come closer to us. They eat out of our hands and follow us around the yard. They may not be cuddly like kittens, but they are so soft and fluffy, so beautiful. If you are gentle, they will let you hold them and pet them.



One of the difficulties of raising our own chicks is determining their sex. I have read about and attempted the vent sexing methods. Obviously it takes a much better trained eye. I don't feel badly about that. At poultry houses and hatcheries they pay vent sexers big bucks for doing a difficult job with a low percentage of mistakes. I hope that over time, I will improve. Until then, I look at my growing chicks and try to determine, are you my future egg layer? Are you my next mama hen? Are you a strong rooster who will defend my flock? Or are you dinner?

Our first incubated hatch resulted in 4 Rhode Island Reds, and 2 Plymouth Barred Rocks. It became clear after time that 3 of the Reds were roosters, with one little, well protected hen. More on that later. :)



The Pic only shows one of the Plymouth Barred Rocks, but my 2 rocks looked the same. They both had wattles and combs. I know now, that alot of hens have these traits as well. So I googled 'Plymouth Barred Rock' and searched for those vintage chicken breed posters. I am considering getting a few of those to grace my farmstead, especially as we raise some of these unique breeds.

I found this beauty.



After looking at this I can see..... my two little chickens are boys. This doesn't necessarily mean they will be gracing our table soon. We have a batch that is just one month or so younger, and we may keep one or both depending on the number of females available. They may be put to better and more enjoyable use.

And they have proved themselves to be quite excellent protectors of their 'flock' already. On my farmstead, I also have two sweet cats. I got them for my children, who love them dearly, usually by carrying them with their legs dangling everywhere, by laying on top of them, and by squeezing them when they clearly don't want to be squeezed. And my good little furballs take it. They don't bite or scratch. They do run for all their worth when they see their chance. I am trying to instill in my children the appropriate care of their animals, but it is still a learning process.



My cats have discovered the joy of hunting. They have, most excellently, caught numerous mice since being here. For a while, it was one or two a day! But I haven't seen any for a couple of weeks now, and have noticed that my cats have been stalking these younger chicks. I was quite concerned and was in fact, standing by with some pebbles in my hand ready for the rescue.



I watched silently as the cat crept slowly closer, and closer. Then I noticed something. Calmly, and at first unnoticed, the roosters, (yes all 5 of them) surrounded that one little hen. They continued pecking and scratching and gave the cat no indication that he was seen closing in. Our little black panther, Whiskers, inched closer and then braced to pounce. And the roosters charged him! Wings out and necks bracing! The cat turned and ran away with a little squeal.

It was the funniest thing I have seen in quite a while. Nothing like a good laugh.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Tonight's Research - Aloe

I was given a beautiful gift this summer from my mother in law, an enormous aloe plant. Over the summer we used a few pieces on my children's scrapes and scratches, we learned that ducks LOVE aloe and had to bring the plant to safety before they devoured it, and it grew ... even more enormous.



So tonight I read up on Aloe....

How to Propagate Aloe Plants: Choosing a small 2-4 inch young aloe leaf, break it off the stalk and let it dry before planting it in loose, moist soil.

How to Harvest Aloe Gel: Break off a large, whole stalk of aloe, or utilize any accidental breaks. Using a knife, cut the skin off the semi solid gel mass inside. Slime it wherever needed.

How to Preserve Aloe Gel: Fresh is best. But you can freeze single use servings in an ice-cube trays.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Key to Success

Do not ever give up. We all fall. We all stumble.
Get up! Try again!
You only fail when you refuse to continue the fight.

We all face various trials and struggles in our lives. We are faced with troubles caused sometimes by our own mistakes, misdeeds or misunderstanding, sometimes by other's, and still sometimes, just life.

It can be so discouraging.

I know. It would be easier sometimes to curl up in a ball and cry. Never get out of bed. Why bother, when you have already failed miserably and will just face more defeat?

But that is the enemy speaking. Remember him? The enemy of our souls? The father of lies? He would like nothing more than for you and I to give up, to stop trying. He would like nothing more than for us to lay down and never stand again.

But we not alone!

In John 16:33, Jesus tells us, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

All of our troubles, all of our hurts, sicknesses, and pain can be brought to Him. And just like our own hearts, can be transformed.

----
I am thinking these thoughts, because I have struggles too.

I have so many blessings.

I have an amazing, loving, strong husband.
I have beautiful, intelligent, healthy children.
I have a gorgeous home, and a garden, and chickens and ducks.

I have so much.

And then something happens and I realize,
I have so much that I could lose.

And the enemy would like nothing more, than for me to stop right there and mourn what I have and could lose, when in fact, I should be standing and kicking butt, and FIGHT FOR WHAT HAS BEEN GIVEN TO ME!

I intend to.
I will not give up.
I will not ever fail, because I will never accept defeat.

The price is simply too high.

Join me. Pray for the Lord to gird us with strength, to guide our hearts, and to give us victory in our homes and in our lives.

May God richly bless you. <3

Monday, October 24, 2011

Why Do I Homeschool?

Many times I have been asked, "Why do you homeschool?"

I understand that for many, the thought of homeschooling their children never occurred to them. Public schooling is so normalized, so convenient, so status quo. And after all, the school system is held to high and lofty standards regarding our children's education and safety while in their care, right?

I feel that as a parent I am uniquely qualified to love and raise my children. And the bible clearly directs my husband and I to be solely responsible for their education. Now, some parents, like myself, choose to follow that literally.
"You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up." Deuteronomy 6:7

So I will keep my children with me, and utilize all the available teaching moments I come across in the day. I will find curriculum (which are plentiful) to supplement the learning environment. My children help in the garden and learn the growing process of plants. My children care for their pets and learn about the life cycle of animals. My children help in the kitchen and learn the joy of cooking and measuring ingredients. My children go to the park and run for hours and then go home to take a nap. They may not realize yet that this is science, or math or exercise. But there can be no argument that they are learning.

I feel that the social aspects of homeschooling and public schooling are misconstrued. My homeschooled child has friends. We have playdates at various homes and the park on many occasions. And when we go somewhere on our own, every other child is happily greeted by my outgoing children with smiles and "hellos." And why is that? Because that is how I 'taught' my children to greet others. When my son went to the local firehouse with Daddy one day, he happily talked with them and answered their questions. Daddy was very proud.

Some have argued that our public schools teach, Love, Tolerance, and Kindness. Are these not 'Christian' ideals?
You cannot remove Jesus Christ from christianity. You either proclaim Him, or you don't. "Love everybody" does not equal "christianity." So as a Christian, I have to choose my priorities.
And in my home, I am allowed to proclaim him.

Now some have argued with me that I am not allowing my son to choose his own path. And I will admit that is partly true. When my son is in my home he must respect me and listen to my words. And he must obey the rules of my house. But when he is an adult, he will make his own home and be responsible for making his own decisions. I hope to prepare him for those choices he will face.
But by sending my children to public school, I am allowing someone else to build his worldview. I am depending on someone else to portray world events, past and present, without bias. And I am placing a vulnerable child, whom I love, in the care of someone whom I do not know.

This of course doesn't include the incredibly poor test scores of the local school district, the high percentage of drug users by voluntary surveys and burgeoning student/teacher ratios, and disturbing accounts of violence, hazing incidents to school shootings.

Some have questioned, "Why not send your christian children to the public school system, so that they may be a light to others?"

I do not feel that we should ever argue keeping young children in an unsafe atmosphere so they can be "light." How can a small child stand against a throngs of unbelievers, being mocked by fellow students and teachers alike for their simple faith.

Jesus did not send out children to teach the gospel. He sent out strong adult men, after having taught them personally for almost 3 years, this after they had already grown up in Jewish Society, knowing the scriptures personally.

I know that the responsibility to educate my child is enormous. I do not take it lightly. I know that as my child grows and learns, and eventual becomes an adult, his success will weigh heavily on me. My husband and I pray, research, discuss and work toward this day.

Personally, I feel I'm giving my children the very best option available.



***

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Freecycle, Paying It Forward

A friend recently recommended Freecycle to me.



I love it!

Just to name some of the benefits, I have been able to get rid of my 'junk', I have been able to help out someone in need, I have been blessed by someone else whose 'junk' was precisely what I needed. I have met some great people in my local community.

The concept is so simple. If you have something you don't want and are willing to give away without compensation, list it. If you need something and have no money, or prefer not to pay if possible, list it.

It is like Craigslist, but EVERYTHING is free!
Two weeks ago I got an EXTRAORDINARY blessing, from some wonderful neighbors.



Yes! A woodstove! Once we get this installed, it will be such a benefit to my family.

And just today I was able to clear out a large space in my own home. I have a huge fish tank. I have loved it. I have filled it with beautiful swimming sparkles of color. My children have enjoyed it. But since moving out on our sweet homestead, we poured all the fish into our pond. Yet, our fish tank sat in my dining room window (the only window to face my large backyard) empty, and blocking my view and any activity I could enjoy there. I tried craigslisting it several times. Maybe it is the season or the economy, but I got no bites. So, I freecycled it. I was sincerely ready to have that fish tank out of my way.

And look, now I have a lovely space to put a few plants and too look out on my lovely back yard while my children play.



And since we are looking there anyways. Please note my lovely house plants. They are from the garden! Two bell pepper plants, and a jalepeno plant.



I plan on adding a couple of tomato plants as well. Certain garden plants, if brought inside a greenhouse or your home by a sunny window, will continue to grow and produce for up to 3 years! So I have chosen some of my best producers, potted them and brought them inside. I brought in some of my cabbage, but it immediately looked sullen. I think it prefers the cooler weather, so I have placed a couple on my porch where they can be a little more protected from the elements.

I still have alot to learn about 'homesteading' and my black thumb is a constant hurdle to overcome. But, I have noticed a steady pace towards our goals. And I am overjoyed we are on this path. And happy to share some of my tools of the trade.

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tattler Reusable Canning Lids Discount

Coordinate a bulk order, receive free lids!

Organize a 5,000 lid order, or larger, for your friends,
family, church group or other organization and you will receive
one free case of Wide Mouth lids, AND one free case of
Regular lids, shipped to your doorstep.

Orders over 5,000 pieces will receive a 15% discount
from our retail price. Custom orders will be accepted,
and the entire shipment must be sent to a single mailing address.

Call 877-747-2793 for further details.

Shipping charges apply
Offer expires 12/31/2011

----
I have just a couple dozen of these lids. I LOVE THEM! After reading another of my favorite bloggers, Patrice at http://www.rural-revolution.com/2011/01/refried-beans-last-frontier-of-canning.html discuss canning with them, I have had a 100% seal rate. Add to this, the lids are guaranteed for 20 years, BPA free, and don't rust. Awesome.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Family Game Time

My family has been trying to slowly replace our tv consumption for other more productive endeavors. To this end, we have obtained some children's games. We have played Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, Hi Ho Cherry-o, and Garanimals 1-2-3.

Most games for children are so PAINFUL for adults. Sometimes we have found ourselves reading the directions again and again on a particular game. "How do we keep score?" "What is the goal here?" "So.... no one wins the game?" Yes, we are narrow minded. How can you play a game where NO ONE WINS! LOL

I love my kids. So I can happily play a game every now and then, with sincere joy in my heart about being with them and watching them learn and enjoy themselves.

But after a while it can get tedious = boring = unenjoyable = no longer a part of our lives.

We know that it is good for us and for our children. We know that there MUST be gooooood, enjoyable and even LAUGHING OUT LOUD HILARIOUS games for families.

We came up with two. IF you know of any others, please share them with us!

Pictionary
Here are word lists you can print off for playing with children. Then you can use your own paper and pens, or white boards, or a charred stick and rock. :)

http://stretchmarkmama.blogspot.com/2008/12/pictionary-for-kids.html (I can relate to her evenings.)

http://www.thegamegal.com/2010/11/06/pictionary/

Charades
This allows you to print off a list of words in varying categories, including one for kids. Then you can sit back and watch your children act like monkeys, on purpose, but this time QUIETLY! :)

http://www.charades-ideas.com/printable_cards.php



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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Good Way to Spend the Weekend - Canning

I love canning. Really. I have a running list, all year long, of things I want to can. Before we moved out of the city we had the canner set up at all times and we got into the habit of canning something every weekend, and any leftovers when I made a large meal.

And it was awesome.

First of all, I LOVE doing things with my husband. And he loves canning too! I love working beside him, planning with him, and just being anywhere he is in general.

I know - MUSH!

But it is true.

Secondly, I love canning because I can step back after I am finished and SEE that I produced something. With a few hours of labor (and piles of dishes) I can produce meals, side dishes, and treats that will be preserved for up to 25 years. Military studies have shown that after 25 years, canned food begins to lose nutritional value, but is still edible for upto 40 years! Of course, most of our food gets eaten within a years time. Since I am constantly canning, I feel no need to 'wait' to open a jar. I know I'll be replacing it soon enough with another tasty meal.

And thirdly, I love canning because I am REALLY good at it. I believe that all people have gifts, talents, and special abilities that the Lord has given them to enjoy and bless others with. Canning seems to be just right for me. At first, it seemed so intimidating, but once I got started, it came EASILY!

YAY for canning!



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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Green Tomato Pickles

One thing grew exceptionally well in my garden this year. Tomatoes. I am glad. Tomatoes happen to be one of my favorite things in the entire world, and garden fresh tomatoes make my mouth water and fill my mind with recipes galore. As such, I have tried very hard to become GOOD at growing tomatoes.

I'm not perfect however. :)

So, while I was deluged with tomatoes.... the cooler weather left me dealing with a large quantity of tomatoes that were not ripe.

Last year, my family tried fried green tomatoes. They were... ok. But honestly, we didn't care for them. We thought they could make a nice, small side dish. But certainly not a meal for our family.

Since then I had come across another idea that I have been waiting anxiously to try. Green Tomato Pickles.

The directions I first came across seemed extremely easy (which I LIKE).

When you finish off your jar of pickles, keep the juice. Then chop up your green tomatoes (it recommended into fourths) and put them in the jar for one month, in the fridge, to soak up the juices and flavor.

Easy right?!

I have been buying the gallon pickles jars lately. I am hoping to replace all my plastic food containers with these good, strong glass jars. I think they will be quite attractive lined up on my pantry shelves, next to my home canned soups, veggies and jams.

Just a week or so ago, my children finished off the last pickle in a jar. Fortunately I remembered and asked that they keep the juice and jar in the fridge for this project.

Today I went out and collected some of my harvest.

Here is what I will be making for dinner. Sauteed Zucchini, Tomatoes and Onion. This is a family favorite. Sometimes I add bacon. YUM!



Here I have gathered some of the over ripe tomatoes. I will attempt to collect some seed for next years garden from these. These tomato plants were very large and strong, producing very well.



Here, I have a grocery bag filled with about half of my green tomatoes. They are mostly different varieties of cherry tomatoes.



I got out my gallon sized pickle jar with remaining brine, rinsed handfuls of green tomatoes at a time, then chopped them into small bite size pieces, and dropped them into the brine. I believe that cutting the tomatoes, enables them to soak up the juices more efficiently, so I cut even the smallest tomatoes at least in half.



While I have never tried this before, I am very optimistic that it will be delicious and a nice treat for my whole family. Because of this, I also decided to venture a little further. I perused some brine recipes and made my own for a second smaller jar to try out.



I used 1 cup water, 2 tbsp salt, almost 3/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, 10 smallish chopped garlic cloves, and added 1 tbsp of cilantro. (I love cilantro. mmmmmmmmmmmmm)

They look so beautiful to me. I am soooooo eager to try them.

One month from now. I will let you know how they turned out.

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Oodles of Doodles

I think after my daily duties, the children and I will spend some time coloring to our hearts content.

I found some great ideas today.

Some Geometric designs -http://www.barbsgalaxy.us/ColoringPages/patterns/Geometrix/index.html



And Alphabet doodles -
http://geeden.blogspot.com/2011/01/alphabet-doodles.html



I think we can write the kids names, doodle and color them in and hang them over their beds. Throw in one or two of the geometric designs and they will have a colorful, personalized space to call their own.

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Goodbye Facebook - Hello Life!

After weeks of talking about it, planning and intention, I have deleted my facebook account this morning. Even still, as I hit that submit button, my heart skipped a few beats. It felt like I was cutting off a limb. Maybe not one as useful and loved as my baby holding arms, but there was still some pain.

I know, I know, I'll get over it. :)

For anyone else considering leaving facebook you can delete your account by following these directions - http://www.wikihow.com/Permanently-Delete-a-Facebook-Account.

For those who love me and love to peak into my life, I will try to appease by blogging more. I had intentions of blogging about a few things today. But once again, I forgot the camera in my husbands car. But once he returns, I'll get on it!!!

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Friday, September 30, 2011

No Till Gardening

In my constant search for gardening help and how to's, I came across Ruth Stout. She came to gardening a little later in life, in her 50s. She worked hard at it and followed all the typical advice, tilling, planting, fertilizing, pesticides, watering, weeding, until one day she discovered that there was an easier way. She noticed that weeds seed themselves and sprout without any help. Perhaps vegetable gardening could be almost that simple. In 1944, she was waiting impatiently, again, for the plowman to come and prepare her gardening space, and decided..... not to.

She provided for her own food needs for several years, with year round gardening, without tilling or using pesticides or even watering. She mulched with hay throughout the garden, which released nitrogen into the soil, and maintained moisture.

The thought of not tilling or watering, honestly, baffles me. But, watching this video, I can hardly argue with the results. I certainly think a section of my garden will have to be a 'Stout' test run. I certainly have plenty of hay to start with after my haybale gardening this year.





She wrote numerous books on her gardening methods, and spoke to many gardening clubs and magazines.

For more information about Ruth Stout - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Stout

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Another Goldmine of Info Found

http://www.simplebites.net/eat-well-spend-less-homemade-substitutes-for-grocery-staples

Great homemade recipes for ranch dressing, pizza sauce, mayonaise, yogurt, and more. I'm going to be going through and adding these to my cookbook.

And... while I am at it, I must remember to PRINT OUT my cookbook. I don't know how reliable my local grid is over the winter. I must prepare NOW before the power is out and we're stuck eating oats and crunchy rice.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Starting to feel like a Farmer

For the last couple of weeks... I have really started feeling like a farmer.



My garden is pathetic.  Tiny little plants poking their heads from my rock hard clay, struggling to survival.  I got spoiled rotten working the community gardens, tilled and disced, composted and tilled again each year before myself and other locals came to plant our seeds.  Those soils were sooooooo luscious and I had no idea.  But now, as I attempt to break my 'soil' on my own property, my shovel bounces back in that jarring, screech as if you hit a rock.  But its not a rock.  Just my lovely clay baked by the summer sun.


My son watching me work.



Of course, there are things I can do to improve this.  I have found some great local resources, and met some amazing and wonderful people.  I must admit, that every venture I have made since coming out here has been so uplifting.  Even when things fail, I still can step back and see so much good from each experience.

My goals right now are to collect some manure from some of my local farmers.  They seemed quite eager to share it. :)  Adding the fresh manure to my compost, and the aged to my garden areas, will take some labor for sure.  But the nitrogen and other nutrients will make such a huge difference.  I'm sure the results will be quite noticeable.

And we are hoping to get a rototiller before the month is out.  We're not sure if we will be getting a new or used one, and have been weighing the options.  Half jokingly, I find myself desiring a goat cultivator and harness.  Of course my goats are not trained and I only have pygmies.  They do make cultivators for the little guys and I picture it.  It goes well with my long skirts and baby sling and hand pumped well and wood fire cooking.

Oh I love my little goats.

Unfortunately, my husband does not.  I can't blame him.  In my deep love and infatuation I arranged with another goat lover to breed my girl.  My fellow goat enthusiast brought her handsome black pygmy buck to my home.



And as I oohed and ahhed over his shiny coat and long curled horns, he proceeded to scent my porch, my lawn, my car, and my husband.  The next 4 days he broke through our fence about 4 times a day, chased me around the house, beat on my neutered male goat, and didn't give my little female any rest from his advances.  My husband said he had to go.  It was around this time that my girl finally went into heat and was more accepting to this little black terror.  He seemed to calm down and left the children and I alone all day.  I shared this information with my husband, yes, in the hopes that this buck would be allowed to stay long enough to fulfill his duty.  My husband said "ok", in that, "I don't think this is a good idea but OK" way.   In my foolishness I heard what I wanted and did not call the goats owner to come and get him.



That night, my husband stood out by the chicken coop, relaxing in the evening sunshine and taking in the beautiful land that has been given to us by a good and loving God.

And the goat rammed him in the crotch.  He bucked, he huffed, he sprayed his stink and jumped up in furious displays of manhood against my husband.  I came out to find my husband lying on the ground, cursing.  He recovered himself quickly in the face of an angry goat with enormous horns and chased him away with the hose.  Water is a good deterrent for goats fortunately.  And I was on the phone with my fellow goat lover to pick up her boy.

Wish I Had A Picture. LOL



She shared my desire to see little goat babies, and we arranged to have my girl go to her farm while they did their business, which takes about a month.  My little neutered male is very lonely without her, but it won't be too long and she'll be back with a little extra something.

I was also gifted with a family of meat rabbits.  They are beautiful, soft, and pretty friendly.  I don't have a hutch built yet, but I keep them in my dog kennel at night and put them loose in my large fenced duck pond area to run loosely and free under the sun.



I love to see my homestead coming together.  I love seeing my chickens, ducks, rabbits and goats roaming freely over my yard, eating grass, playing and running.



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