Thursday, January 31, 2008

I am NOT getting sick!

This is the time of year that flu and other sickenesses go around. So far I have escaped them all. I woke up at 3AM this morning with a bad headache and a scratchy throat. Those are 2 things going around up here. The throat is not sore, just scratchy and dry feeling. Many people that get this get a cold afterwards. The headache is what is a real pain (pun intended). I have had it all day. I am hoping it is gone by tonight.

Here is a picture of my knitting sampler. I am farther along than I thought I would be.

I got a wonderful surprise in the mail yesterday from a friend. She made a felted bag for me. Here is a picture of it.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Garden Planning Time

Today is the 30th of January. It is amazing that not only is 2007 over, but the first month of 2008 is about to expire. We have been having weird weather. They said the high was going to be in the mid 50's yesterday. All day long the wind was blowing like crazy. The temperature was right around 45. It was a cold 45 with the wind though. I did not realize that the high would occur as we were going to bed. When we went to bed it was 53 degrees. The wind whipped all evening, all night and is still blowing hard today. We went from 53 degrees last night to this mornings frigid temperatures. It was 13 degrees with a wind chill of -6. That was quite a drop. The sun is shining today though. We were supposed to get a bit of snow last night, but there was none. There is just a light brown expanse of dead grass.

We are pretty sure we will be moving, but we still plan on putting in a garden. We may get something out of it, and we may get everything out of it, or we may get nothing out of it. Someone will benefit from it though. I am trying to come up with a list of what I want in my garden. I want to cut back on how many tomatoes we do. I always end up with way too many tomatoes. What do you especially like in your gardens? Is there one item or variety that you will not do without? If so, let us know what it is and why you feel that way. I will share my list when I am done.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Life on a Homestead Part 2

After writing part 1 of this post, I read Peggy's blog that day. She had "one of those days" at her homestead. You can read about it here.
There is another side to this story which many of the comments on the other blog brought up. Ginny told me that she felt the romanticizing is what keeps you going in the hard times. I agree. There is just something about sitting down to the table and eating a meal that came totally from your hands and farm. It is satisfying in a way that is very hard to describe to someone. There are lots of other joys as well. Melanie made a post a while back saying a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are some pictures of the joys of homesteading. I will add words to some of them though. =)
Have you ever held a baby lamb, felt it's soft nappy wool, smelled the lanolin?

Sunshine (the Mama in this picture) was the only white lamb born that year on her farm. I can still remember the thrill when my husband came in one morning and told me that Sunshine had her babies. I went running out to see them. They were 2 white ewes. I went around the rest of the day singing ... "Two white ewes, two white ewes, Sunshine gave me two white ewes" to the tune of three blind mice.
McCoy and his women.
Have you ever had an animal that was so glad to see you that they hopped up to be near you?

Have you ever gotten to see the miracle of birth? Then to see the miracle of a brand new baby try to stand and wobble its way to its mother teats? Who can see that and not believe in a God.
Who could not love this little guy. He was really tiny. His mother rejected him and we bottle fed him. Our dog, Belle, adopted him as her own. She was so funny to watch.
Have you ever tried to ride a cow? This was Buttercup's first calf. She and Joshua were best buds.
Look at those faces. They think you are their mom or dad and they follow you around goosing you in the rear end looking for a teat. I have had them follow me all the way across a pasture doing that. I just knew the neighbors were watching and laughing.
Have you ever received a box full of chicks in the mail? Their constant peeping drives the people at the post office crazy. They prefer that you come and pick them up early. They are so tiny and soft and fluffy. Our dogs LOVE them. Star really loves them and trembles with excitement as soon as she hears them. That is her in the first picture above.
Have you ever had to go out and find a calf hiding in tall grass? They lay really still and they are very hard to find. This little one just stood up because she knew she had been spotted (pun intended).
I still remember the joy of finding our very first egg. It is still exciting to find eggs. Especially these days as an egg is a rare commodity.
Here is one little goat taking her bottle. It is fun to feed four at at time. You hear all this sucking noise and see all the little tails going back and forth like crazy.
There are some hard things to do on a farm. There are days you keep praying end soon. It is hard to lose an animal to death. However, there is great joy and I wouldn't want to live any other way. I think it is a wonderful way to raise children.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Vision Forum Clearance Sale!

There are only four more days to take advantage of the clearance prices at Vision Forum. It is a perfect time to buy ahead for birthdays or graduations. You can click on this link "Vision Forum" or click on the link in the sidebar.
Sale prices apply to all in-stock items and are only good on new orders placed through the month of January 2008. This is an exceptional opportunity to take advantage of excellent prices on home-school materials, character-building tools for boys, heirloom items for girls, as well as books, CDs, and videos for the whole family. All in-stock items are 20%-40% off during the month of January. Sale ends midnight, January 31, CST

Life on a Homestead

Many people romanticize "Life on a Homestead". I know that I did. There is a satisfaction that I find from living this sort of life. However, there are all sorts of things that you have to add in to the mix to get a true picture. I would in no way try to talk someone out of homesteading or farming. I would want them to count the cost though.

The above picture shows the bread I made this weekend. I put another loaf's worth of dough in the freezer to make pizza this week. This is probably one of the first areas that we changed in our family. We bought a grain mill and made an investment in some wheat. I was so proud that we ground our own wheat and made our own baked goods. I was not totally conscience of this pride though. I prided myself that I did not buy flour from the store. We made our own granola cereal, why I even used to make our own wheat thins. Little things happened to start showing me my pride. My very darling son pulled a funny one night at a friends house. They were having a hotdog roast at their house. Joshua got one of the buns and in a REALLY LOUD voice that he put all the hick into he could, he announced, "Look Ma.... White bread from town." Everyone cracked up including me. However, there was a little prick down inside somewhere that I was ignoring. The real balloon bursting came when I got bacterial meningitis in August of 2005. Before that, we would almost go without bread before I would buy a store bought loaf. After that... well let's just say that making the bread out of freshly ground wheat is NOT the norm. I am trying to get back to making it more often but also trying to keep my pride in check. God really does have a sense of humor. Someone wrote into the a list I am on that only uses real foods. They said they had a DLX (a mixer - the one I have) and they did not like it. They wanted to buy another brand...a Bosch. They told how the dough hook did not work and how it walked off their counter and it threw dough at her. I did not state this to her, but I was sure wondering what her problem was and what she was doing with her DLX. Those things had NEVER happened to me. I did write a sweet little plastic note asking questions about how she used it as I had one and had never had those problems. I had been using mine for around 10 years. Guess what happened after sending that email? Yep... The dough hook would no longer knead my bread, the DLX was flinging dough left and right and at me, and it starting walking on the counter. Sigh..... You would think I would learn. I also have a confession to make... OK, all of you who know me in real life skip over to the next paragraph. Ok, now that they are gone I want to tell you about a wonderful biscuit recipe I read about. The person said there is a big difference in flours. They bought White Lily (yes, white flour from town) and they thought it worked better than anything else they used. One of my cyber friends used the recipe and posted a picture of her biscuit. It was gorgeous. It was like a biscuit I only dream of making. By the way, she gives the recipe in the post above the picture and also gives credit for where the recipe came from. I was in the grocery store with my husband this past Saturday. We were in the baking aisle. I had shown him the post. I asked him what the name of the flour was. He looked at me with a look of "WHO ARE YOU" and asked if I was going to buy white flour. I hurredly assured him I was not. We found some White Lily flour. I think we both were seeing visions of biscuits in our head. He looked at me and grinned and told me to buy it. Lord, it was that husband you gave me!!! =) Since I am to obey my husband.. (Kym, I told you to skip to the next paragraph... quit rolling your eyes and groaning). Anyway, I glanced around to make sure there was no one I knew in the area and put it in my cart and then covered it with other items. So, there you have it. I have white flour from town in my pantry. Don't tell anyone... OK?

Another area of homesteading is a milking animal. I wanted goats in a bad way. We got goats and I loved them. We got rid of them last year and I still miss them. We also got a milk cow. When you have a milking animal, you HAVE to milk every day or usually twice a day. Someone calls and says there is a big family ball game going to start down at the local ball park. You are invited. Well, you can go and leave early to milk or you can wait and milk and go late. Animals do best on a set schedule. If it is thundering and lightening to beat the band, you still have to milk. If it is 5 degrees or lower, you still have to milk. If you are sick, you still have to milk. Milking a couple of goats took me a bit of time. I have never totally milked out a cow by myself. I am not sure I or the cow would endure to the end. You have to wash the udder and teats off. Goats are fairly clean. Cows love to lay in warm brown gooey mud and manure. Sometimes a full bath is needed. OK, now picture that full bath and it is 32 degrees. You get very wet when bathing a cow. Have you ever been swatted in the face with a tail that was a bit wet with manure flecks or a full blown manure tail in the spring when the green grass has just started in good?

Another area to consider is how willing are you to do medical type procedures on your animal? I have become an animal midwife. I did not choose this profession, but when no one else is here, I am it. I have had to put my arm places that I never imagined. One of our milk cows bloated. We tried the normal things and it got worse. We had to stab and puncture her. The junk started coming out and then sealed up. She ended up having to be stabbed 3 times before she was saved. She is still a sweet gentle cow that gives us wonderful raw, grass fed, jersey milk. Our animals always seem to get their worse at 6PM on a Saturday or Sunday when no vets are available or very hard to get ahold of. Have you ever given a shot? Do you know what IM, SubQ or IV means? We didn't until we had animals. Have you ever trimmed a hoof? What do you do if you make them bleed? What if an animal that has manure that is in berries all of a sudden starts giving clumps, large clumps?

I will continue this post later. I want you to see a side of this life that most people don't see or hear about. I still would choose this life though..... Until later.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Learning to Knit

I love to make things for my home and as gifts. I don't always have time or take the time to do it. I have been crocheting since I was a teenager. My Mom crocheted and she taught me. I can go really fast when I crochet. A dear older lady in our fellowship in Florida taught me how to knit. I moved not too long after that and I have had tons of questions for her. I started knitting a winter scarf for me in beautiful variegated pink cotton yarn. I worked on the scarf for 3 winters. It was not just because I am slow and awkward, but it had a pattern that you had to repeat 4 times and then switch to another pattern and repeat it 4 times. I can't have any distractions or I lose my place on my scarf. I had a friend who was visiting me. One of her children pulled the needle out of my work. She apologized but I knew that the child was just curious. The mother put the needle back into the work, but the loops are all wrong and I don't know how to fix it. So, it sits and waits until I have another truly knowledgable knitter to help me.
Ginny and I have been friends for a long time. We lived near each other in Florida and now live near each other in Ohio. She is very creative and crafty. She is also learning to knit, but it appears she is a senior in high school at knitting and I am still in first grade. =) She got a wonderful book called "The Sweater Workshop". The book has you start out by making a knitting sampler that lets you see all the stitches and tricks and what they are used for and why. She set to work and in a very short time was done. She has since made at least 2 sweaters. I have decided that I want to be a better knitter, so I am attempting to make a knitting sampler. Here are some pictures of Ginnys. I asked her permission to post these pictures.
The first 2 pictures just show 2 sides to the sampler. It is knit in the round on circular needles. It looks sort of like a windsock. You can click on any of these pictures and make them larger to see more detail.

Here are some close up pictures. This shows her fair isle knitting (that is the pretty pattern with pink and green and tan. You can also see her knitted tie string which is threaded through holes. It shows you where she decreased her stitches and doing several types of stripes.
Here shows where she increased her stitches. That is also a flap with a button hole. I told her it made me think of making a pair of long underwear with the button flap in the back. This also shows some different sorts of stitches and another strip variety.
The pink add on, is a sweatshirt pocket.
It also has you make several types of edgings. There is a loop, a lacy edging (that is hard to see in the picture) and just a regular one. I will take pictures of mine as I go. Right no, I have barely begun. Ginny, if I left anything out or you want to add anything, leave a note in the comments section.
We woke up the last 2 morning with fresh snow on the ground. Around an inch or less each morning. It got back down to around 7 degrees one night. Today we are having a heat wave. It is 30 degrees. It looks like that sort of weather will hang around this week.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


~*~ This is edited in to let you know how cold it is this morning. It is 8:30AM and currently -2 with a wind chill of -8. ~*~

Wow, it keeps getting very cold. We have seen lows predicted for tonight anywhere from four to nine. It is currently 5 degrees while I am sitting here. =) So far, the animals are all doing well. We are very thankful to God for watching over them. Our pond is frozen and it was really full because of the rain. People may want to ice skate on it. Many of the ones around here actually go to the rink to skate. They are too high tech for the old farm pond. =) I value my bones. I don't put skates on. We did get a little snow this morning and had one squall this afternoon.

I think of the old days when you lived out like we do. You had to get water from your well or a stream or pond. You would have to chip the ice around here. All of our animals have buckets that heat up enough that the water can't freeze. We have a trough heater in both troughs. It does not really make the water warm, but it won't freeze over on them. I have thought it would be nice to make them a tad warmer. I bet they would love a drink of warm water when it is frigid outside.

Everyone is in bed here except me. I am getting ready to head in that direction. I was just catching up on a few things. I am starting a knitting project. I will have to take a picture of Ginny's knitted sampler. I am making one now. It shows you all the different stitches and stuff. They it shows you an easy way to make a sweater. I am hoping to get one made some day. I would love to make one out of my sheep's wool. A nice brown one.

Yesterday was co-op day. The truck came bright and early. I was able to get everything sorted with Ginny's help and get my paperwork done early. Then people come in through out the afternoon to pick up their order. We order from Frankferd Farm Foods. They are a great company to work with.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

You Are What You Eat.... Eeeewwwww

I have had several people ask me about moving. We are trying to move to the Knoxville, TN area. We have talked about moving to NC, TN, or VA for years. Joshua and Brittany are going to be moving to the Knoxville area per her parents request. We would like to be near them. It will be easier for Joshua to move if we go. We are trying to get some things done on the house to get it ready to sell if God wills it. Everyone concerned agrees that we all want what God wants and are open to that. Joshua will have to re-establish himself down there. It would be hard to start out again in a new area without some help. Michael will also have to find a job down there. It is a lot to have happen, but we are leaving it in God's hands and doing what we can.
One of the things I wanted to do to the house was to turn part of what used to be the store into a mud room. Living on a farm with poor grading leaves a lot of mud coming into the house. Our friends from Florida were coming and we remember last year that there was a big people clog at the door when everyone comes in. They are all trying to stay by the door to take off their boots and coats. This left no room for those coming in behind them. We got a few of the ideas in place before they came from Florida this year. We hung up two 2 X 4's (one high and one low) and put hooks on them for coats. It was a life saver. There was already a long carpet runner right in front of this. We also put in a bench that used to be in the store for people to sit on and to put boots and shoes under. The coats below all belong to us. The little gray and red one was Joshua's when he was little. I had friends give me other small size snow pants and jackets for the smaller ones coming from Florida. I left them all hanging out there. I wish all the little people they fit were still here. =)I run a co-op. We buy from several different companies and then people come here to get their orders. I have a small fridge out in the store area for the cooler items that are ordered. I was looking at some of the items people ordered. Most everything would be on the healthy side. Somethings are not really anymore healthy than what is available in the grocery store, but it is handy to order it and pick it up with your other items. The two cheese logs you see in the picture below could be purchased just about anywhere that sells cheese in bulk. I think the price is a bit better than a grocery store as well. The box is a case of yogurt smoothies that someone ordered. A smoothie is a yogurt like drink. They are organic. The cans of drink on the bottom are organic ginger ale. We like to keep some of these on hand because they have real ginger in them. Most of the ginger ale sold in stores no longer have ginger in them. The ginger is so good for an upset stomach. This is organic sour cream from grass fed cows.
I like that I am able to purchase some of these items. Most of what is in this fridge is not mine. It is getting harder and harder to be able to know what is in what you are buying. In Pennsylvania they just passed a law. Monsanto makes a growth hormone that they give to cows to give more milk. Many people do not want that in their milk. Different companies picked up on that and were advertising that their product was growth hormone free. We have "free speech" in this country. They are not saying anything bad about Monsanto. They are just letting us know what is not in their milk. However, Monsanto did not think that we the people needed to know so they took it to court and the sad part is they won. Those companies are no longer allowed to let us know what is not in their milk. The FDA just made it OK to sell the meat from cloned animals. I am against this, but if someone wants to do that, it is their right. However, it does not have to be labeled as such. Now, we raise our own meat right here on the farm. What about when you go out to dinner though? You will have no idea what you are eating. Raw almonds are so good for you. A law was passed last year that all almonds have to be pasteurized before they can be sold. Some of them are heat pasteurized, but some use another method. I am trying to study it out, but it looks like they use a substance that is proven to not be too good for humans. Here is an excerpt from this article.
"Raw' almonds aren't, really
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently required that all almonds produced in the United States be pasteurized, including nuts labeled "raw." The rule went into effect September 1, despite protests from health-conscious consumers who prefer unprocessed nuts and small-scale growers who can't afford the equipment, which costs between $500,000 and $2.5 million.
The move follows two salmonella outbreaks attributed to raw almonds in 2001 and 2004. Critics of the rule point out that both incidents were the result of faulty practices at large-scale commercial farms. Small-scale and sustainable practices - including mowing and mulching to control weeds, instead of using chemical herbicides - naturally prevent the spread of harmful bacteria more effectively than post-harvest treatment, they say.
The Almond Board of California, a governing body representing all almond growers in the state, pushed for the change. Small growers complain that the board disproportionately represents the needs of the large producers."

What can we do? Do we find a network of people to barter and trade with? I know that local is better anyway. I would love to hear what y'all think of this. By the way that article is well worth the read.

It is another sunshiney day here in Ohio. It is in the mid to high 20's. We got a covering of snow yesterday.

Monday, January 21, 2008

This N That

This weekend the temperature dropped down to somewhere between 0 and 5 degrees depending on what thermometer you looked at and who you listened to. =) I just know it was VERY cold. Joshua was in Florida and we had to go pick him up at the airport around midnight Saturday night. It took awhile for the truck to get warm and for us to warm up on the trip. The timing was perfect though. He called us to tell us they had just landed when we were still at least 10 mins. away from the airport. He had come outside to wait and was only out there about 30 seconds when we pulled up. While we were stopping to let him in, a man came out of the airport wearing shorts (probably coming from Florida on Joshua's flight) and he turned around and went right back into the airport. The sun is shining again today. It is currently 23 degrees. My fire is not doing so well, so it feels cold in the house.
We have good friends who live in Virginia. They built their own house and are still doing the finishing touches. It is the house that ebay built. They got so much of the stuff for their house on ebay. When we visited them last spring I was asking her what she got off of ebay. She told me that it would be easier to for her to tell me what she didn't get off of ebay. All of their doors, cabinets, appliances, fans, flooring, etc. all came from ebay. They bought a lot of their furniture and sinks, etc. from ebay as well. They bought a new piece of furniture here in Ohio, so they picked it up and stopped here on Sunday. We got to spend the evening with them and then they spent the night and left this morning. They are real down to earth folks and we always love to spend time with them. It is never long enough.
You can see the ice/snow fringe around the pond in this picture and the little line of snow on a tiny ridge in our pasture. The grass is a dry brown. The blue sky was sure nice to look at.
Dixie has the most intense stare. She will just stare at you for the longest time.
This little piggy was my Mom's. She had it from before she was married. They would have celebrated their 55th anniversary last September, so this little piggy is OLD. He has been broken and glued back together. She gave him to me (she was going to throw it away and I rescued him) when I was a teenager. Someone saw him at my house and they bought me something with a pig on it. Then it started. The flood gates were opened and I received pigs from everywhere and in all forms. I did not set out to collect pigs, but it evolved. When I moved from Florida, I got rid of lots of my pigs. I was trying to delcutter and pare down to move. I told my friends and family that I needed nothing. If they were going to buy me something I really only wanted something I could use, not a knick knack.
I had gotten rid of so much stuff when I moved up here to Ohio. It was nice to not have so much to dust or deal with. With a possible move coming up this year, I am looking around at all the STUFF that is everywhere. I need to pare down again. I need to spread the word again that I don't need anything.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sunny But Cold

Today I spotted a UFO!!! It was the sun! =) In Ohio during the winter, the sun is a welcome, but rare friend. It is currently 27 degrees and a beautiful sunshiney day. It is supposed to stay fairly cold. The low on Saturday night without the wind chill is going to be 4 degrees. We don't mind it dipping that low as long as it does not stay down there.

Our only heat source is wood. I have to keep my fire cranked to make the house warm. If I get too cold, I sit in my rocker which is by my stove. Here are our calves. They have a warm wooly coat, but they are out enjoying the sunshine today.
Here is Charity down by the pond. You can see the ice around the edges of the water.
Here are Sunshine and Diligence. They heard me come out and wondered if a treat was coming. Sorry to disappoint you this time guys!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Vision Forum Sale

For the month of January Vision Forum is offering a 20%-40% discount on the products in our Vision of Victory catalog. Sale prices apply to all in-stock items and are only good on new orders placed through the month of January 2008. (Discounts reflected in existing pricing). This is an exceptional opportunity to take advantage of excellent prices on home-school materials, character-building tools for boys, heirloom items for girls, as well as books, CDs, and videos for the whole family. All in-stock items are 20%-40% off during the month of January. Sale ends midnight, January 31, CST.
Please use the link on my sidebar to go and visit the catalog and find some real deals.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Farm Livin' Is The Life For Me

We were told there might be a light snow last night. We were all surprised to see the ground white when we looked out this morning. It has snowed on and off all day. There is a good inch on the ground and they are calling for more tonight. When I went out to do my chores this morning, I took the camera with me. Here are some pictures of our sheep. I love the light brown fleece on this one closest to the camera.
I think this little guy wanted to make sure I got his picture.
These 2 little guys are waiting for me to pass them some grain. We normally only feed our sheep hay and grass. However, with the drought this summer, the pastures were not so good and the hay is not so good. We are giving them a bit of grain each day as well.
They too are waiting on this lady to hurry up with their feed. =)
These are my ewes. Sunshine is facing the camera. Charity is showing you her backside and you can barely see Grace in the background.
Here is Diligence the ram we used this year. He has lived up to his name well. He is very diligent in watching over his ladies.
Here are the 3 ladies again. Sunshine is the one sporting the lovely red earring. Charity is beside her with Grace in the background.
The dogs went out for a bit. I looked and their backs and head were covered in snow. The picture does not show it very well.
This is Star out surveying the area this morning.
Belle is checking out the side yard.
It is a lot prettier out here when there is snow on the ground.