Friday, May 30, 2008

"Tails" From The Farm Part 10

You can start reading part 1 here.

We had good friends from New England, the Candy family, that came to stay with us about 2 months after we moved in. Mr. Candy and his boys were such a help that week getting things done. There were some barn siding that needed replaced and some work out in the barn and around the property. We had some good snow (for us it was good, for them it was nothing) and the children all got to sled. Even the Dads got in on the fun. They would go down the driveway and cross the road. They put a small ramp of snow across the ditch on the other side. There were contests to see who could go the furthest. We got some good pictures. We girls spent a lot of time in the house by the warm stove. I taught Mrs. Candy and her daughter how to play a song on my dulcimer and they played for us.

We had put in an order to have them come and hook up our electricity. The poles had already been put in, but they needed to hook the wires to the box in the basement. One morning we were all still in our jammies and robes. We did not hear trucks out front. All of a sudden there was a man’s face in the kitchen window. Now that window was well off the ground, and no man could stand there and see in, so it was a bit of a shock. They had come to hook the house up and he was in a bucket being lifted up to hook up the wires up on the house. We were so glad we had our robes on. I was excited to get the electricity, but there was also a side of me that was kind of sad. I loved living the way we did. They hooked it all up. An electrician had already been there and put the box in and also he put in a total of 5 outlets. We had 2 in the kitchen, 2 in the office and 1 in the basement. We had to clean out our fridge. It had been turned off in Florida (it was used up to the last minute) and it had not been left open to warm up. It was FULL of mold. Mr. Candy set the boys and himself to clean it up. Once that was done, it was plugged in. I had not realized just how quiet my house was, until we heard that motor running. It was amazing just how loud it was after the silence. We used the other outlet in the kitchen for a lamp or if we needed to plug in a mixer or something. We hooked up the computer and I put in an order for internet service.

Other than a lamp in the kitchen and one in the office (both very small) all of our lamps burned kerosene. I had to learn to trim wicks and remember to keep them filled and the chimneys clean. We also had flashlights in several key places for quick use.

We had all of the animals in one pasture. The chickens we brought with us just roosted in the barn. We ordered more chicks in the spring. We were going to build a chicken coop before they got too big for our brooder. Our brooder was a large cardboard box in the basement. We had the heat lamp down in it and then covered it with beach towels and blankets. Star has always had a love of baby chicks. She trembles with excitement when they come in the mail and she loves to sit and watch them. She would always go down to help deal with the chicks. She would jump up and look down in the box. The chicks grew fast and we had still not built a coop. They really stunk up the basement. We had ordered Buff Orpingtons. We made a very small moveable pen for the yard to buy some more time. Joshua had expressed an interest in learning about framing. We bought him a book all about it and he was anxious to try his hand at it. We decided to make a homeschool project out of building the chicken coop. I had built forts and other little structures with my brothers. We found the plans for the chicken coop we wanted. I had Joshua make a materials list and I made one as well to see if we matched. We did and I think it surprised him that his Mom had come up with the right amounts. We went to the local building company. It was a very small operation in a very small town, but they were so helpful and friendly. They helped us get everything together and loaded in the truck. They even had some old second hand doors and windows we bought for a couple of bucks each to use. Joshua and I looked at building this coop from two different view points. He saw this as a great framing project. Joshua has a cabinet maker’s eye. If he does any work for you, it WILL be plumb and even and perfect. To him this coop was his first work of art. I love art and I like for things to be fairly plumb and even. However, these chickens needed to have been in this coop 2 weeks before and they were out of room in the little pen we had them in.

Here are the chicks in the cardboard box brooder.

Here are a couple of pictures of Joshua and Star taking care of the chicks.

We decided where in the pasture that we would put the coop. We got started with putting the floor joists on the skids. There was not much disagreement with the flooring. Then we started on the framing for the walls. I would hold something up and say, hammer it. He would get out the level and say, it needs to be moved a bit. That was OK at first. Then it got old on both sides. We never did fight over it, but I ended up trying to make him see that this was a chicken coop, not a house for people. It did not need to be plumb, but it DID need to be done so that our large chickens in their crowded quarters would have a home that they could move around in. So, then we made a game of it and called ourselves “The Close Enough” chicken coop builders. We made up sales slogans to go with it. We did a great job. The inside had 2 rooms. One was just a narrow entry area that we kept the feed can in. It was separated from the main part of the coop by a wall of chicken wire. The human door went into the little room and there was a screen door to go into the main part of the coop. We also had a small chicken door on the front that could be opened from outside with a little ladder for them to get down to the ground on. We made the chicken door as small as we could so that the goats would not try to get in. We had actually seen a goat do a version of the army crawl back in Florida to get in through the chicken door to get their feed. We did not make it small enough, though. Dear, dear Ellie was trying to wedge her self in through that door. We nailed a board across part of the opening from the inside. The chickens could still go in and out, but goats could not. The goats drove us nuts the whole time we were building it. They would jump up on the coop floor and dance around and playfully butt us. They left goat berry gifts all over the floor that we had to sweep off. We were finally ready to put the chickens in their new home. We caught the 4 in the barn that we had brought from Florida. If you wait until a chicken roosts for the night, they are very easy to catch. Then we put the Buff Orpingtons in the coop and closed it up. We left them locked in for several days, so that they would know it was home. The chicken dilemma was over.

We decided that we needed to paint the coop to help preserve the wood. The barn was also just plain T1-11 that had not been painted. We went to the small hardware store in the next little town. We asked their opinion on paints, etc. They suggested that we stain it to help preserve it. We brought home a brochure that had lots of color chips on it. We each took a turn looking at the colors and studying them. Then we each went off by ourselves and picked our top 3 favorite colors. Number 1 got 3 points. Number 2 got 2 points and Number 3 got 1 point. Now, if you know me at all, you know that I LOVE blue. However, I chose the blue as my second favorite. A dark red, was number one. One of the guys picked the same blue I did as their number one choice and the other also had it as second choice, so the blue won. We painted the barn and the chicken coop. I love to paint on things, so I added some touches to the coop and barn. I painted sunflowers on the big door to the coop. I also painted “Poultry in Motion” on the door. Then over the little chicken door I painted, “Thou Shalt Not Henpeck”. =) The end of the barn that faced the road was just plain. So, I painted on a board to look like a window. Joshua made some shutters for me and we put up a board with our farm name on it as well.

Here is a picture of the coop after it was painted.

Here is the end of the barn facing the road. I also had put up some shelves with old buckets and pots on them. I was going to plant flowers in them.

This picture is after I put the fake window and the sign up.

This was the side of the barn that faced the house. See the hitching rail?

To be continued…

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Another Prayer Request

Please pray for my Aunt Darolyn. She is my Mom's older sister. She has been having some problems, but we just got an email saying she had an hemorrhagic stroke. She is in ICU. She has some paralysis on her right side and cannot speak. Thanks for all the prayers for my family. It is hard when you are scattered all over the country and can't be there.

Here is a picture of my Mom and her 3 sisters. Aunt Darolyn is on the left next to my Mom. This was taken at my parents 50th wedding anniversary party.

Light And Shadows

I drank too much iced tea yesterday, so I had a hard time sleeping last night. The older I get the more things seem to bother my sleep patterns. =) I was laying there in bed and thinking and praying and planning and doing lots of things besides sleeping. I noticed the light coming through the crack in the door. We keep a light on in the kitchen. I was trying to figure out what was making the weird edges on the shadows I saw. It is amazing how skewered something can be shaped like in a shadow. Since the door was only open a crack, the shadows were long thin ones.
Then I just got to thinking about shadows and light. There are only shadows when something blocks the light. And by blocking the light, it leaves a dark place. It made me think of "The Light", Jesus. I know that there are still dark corners in me that need to be cleaned out. What is allowing there to be a shadow in those corners? Something is blocking the light there. I believe it is sin. Sometime that sin is one of commission. Something I do or say. I know that all of my sins are forgiven, but I still need to confess and renew my relationship with the Lord. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Here is what I have been hearing from the Lord. I need to spend my time and energy in getting closer to Him. I need to spend that quality time not only praying to Him, but listening as well. My Uncle Noel who just died this past Monday, was known for getting up at 4:30 every morning to spend time in prayer. It showed in his life and in his walk. The more we embrace The Light and get closer to Him, the fewer the shadows in us. I was reading in the Daily Bread this morning. The title was Are We Listening? Here is a portion of what it said.

I have heard people say, “If only God would talk to me! If He would just tell me what to do, I would do it.” The simple fact is that God has already spoken to us through His Word, the Bible. Do we listen to Him as He speaks? The psalmist desired to obey God’s Word “continually, forever and ever” (119:44). And James warned about ignoring it when he said, “Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).

And this was in the Daily Bread yesterday...

When Elijah stood before the Lord on Mount Horeb, he didn’t meet Him in the wind, earthquake, or fire. Rather, God spoke in a “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11-12).
I’m more convinced than ever that God finds ways to communicate to those who truly seek Him—especially when we lower the volume of the surrounding static.

Are we too busy to listen? Do you always have to have music on, or background noise? Are we so distracted with what needs to be done and who we need to contact and all the details of life that we can't take the time to sit and listen for Him?

Have you ever met a new person somewhere and you spend some time talking to one another. Then you talk on the phone a couple of times. Pretty soon, when you pick up the phone and hear their voice, you KNOW who it is by their voice. Do you KNOW God's voice when He speaks to you? There are times I have heard His voice. Usually if I know I am hearing Him, I am obedient. However, there are still times that I do not want to obey. I was having trouble getting up on time. I told God one night that if He would wake me up, I would get up and out of the bed. The next morning a minute or so before the alarm went off, He nudged me awake and I heard Him... not audibly, but in my heart I heard Him remind me of what I said. I was able to get up out of bed and get my day started right. However, there are mornings where He nudges me awake and I look at that clock and the excuses start in my brain.... I did not sleep well, we got to bed late, I have a headache and feel overly tired, there is really nothing that has to be done this early.... He does not turn the bed over and dump me out. He leaves me to my own way. But, I MISSED a blessing. I MISSED a time shared with Him that morning. My day does not flow as smoothly, my nerves tend to be more irritable, and I have allowed a shadow to be formed. Usually when I do get up on those days, I don't have time for a relaxed time in the Word. I believe then that I have committed a sin of omission. Many times to me these can be the worst. They are not as clearly seen and can catch you unaware.

I have often compared the Christian walk with a cordless screwdriver. Yes, I know I am weird. =) If those batteries are not charged up regularly, it is not an effective tool anymore. How many Christians (especially in America) go to church, pray over meals or if something goes wrong, but don't take the time daily to charge their batteries. They go to church to be spoon fed, but don't ever feast on the Word themselves. Their lives are full of shadows. May we as Christians take the time to do what is needed - spend time daily with our Lord, memorize scripture and put it into practice, use the talents He gave us to further His work - so that His light shines out brightly through us without the shadows.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Count Your Blessings Monday

Here is an opportunity for you to give thanks unto the Lord for a blessing in your life. If you have a blog, please sign Mr. Linky below and post on your blog. Please link back to this blog and you may use the picture above. If you do not have a blog, leave a comment on this post telling us what you are thankful for and what you are counting as a blessing today. This is a way that we can encourage one another. Many of our blessings we will have pictures of and we can share those as well. I think that many times we forget that it is a blessing to be able to breath, to get out of bed, to hold a baby... Share your blessings with us. They encourage others. We can share so many other things.... special gifts, recipes, let's take the time to share how God has blessed us!!

This is a picture of Uncle Noel doing something that he really loved. Driving his pontoon boat with some of his children and grandchildren aboard. He and Aunt Ruth would spend their summers at this lake on property that has been in our family a long time.

My blessing is having people like Uncle Noel in my life. There are many godly people that have an influence on my life. I have been truly blessed. Uncle Noel went home to be with his Lord today. Thank you to all who prayed for him and his family. Please continue to lift up my three cousins and their families through this time.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Prayer Request

Last Tuesday, May 20th, my Uncle Noel had an accident on a bicycle. He has a severe brain injury. They were not even sure he would make it the first day. He is still alive and in the ICU.
Here is a picture of Uncle Noel, Aunt Ruth and part of their family. This picture was taken in July, 2006. Aunt Ruth went home to be with Jesus in September of that year. She was my Dad's only living sibling.

Uncle Noel and my cousin Beki (on the right) were up visiting family in Maine. Uncle Noel is very athletic. They had been climbing mountains, taking bike rides and other things. He plays tennis often. They are not sure what happened, but he had a couple of episodes of his blood pressure dropping and getting dizzy this past winter. They are wondering if that is what happened here. He took a bike for a spin around the block and did not come back. They went to look for him and found him. He had hit a tree.

My Uncle is one of the most gentle, kindest, sweetest men I have ever met. He was a Methodist preacher for most of his life and is still active in the church. He loves the Lord and if the Lord chooses to take him, we know he is going home. Please pray for his 3 children. They have some decisions to make. They ask that they receive clarity on what to do and timing. Beki lives in Ohio, Tom and Sherri live in Colorado. They are all up in Maine. I would appreciate your prayers for the whole family. Beki wrote a note saying she is very open and willing for God's will, but she is still sharing her desire to have her Dad restored to health. I am sure the other 2 feel the same way.

Thanks for praying.

Friday, May 23, 2008

"Tails" From The Farm Part 9

You can start reading part 1 here.

The only heat in the house was wood and no stove came with it. We asked Reuben (the Amish man that owned the house) if he thought a Pioneer Maid cook stove would heat the house. He lit up like a light bulb and got all excited. He asked if we had one and we told him we did. Pioneer Maids are Amish made and that must have made him happy.

We talked and prayed and talked and prayed some more. It was more than we wanted to spend, but we were going to make an offer for what we felt we could spend. We had never owned a house before and did not really know what we were doing. Our real estate agent was very helpful and assured us that we could offer what ever we wanted and wait and see what they would say. We submitted the offer which included the diesel engine and the water softener. They made a counter offer and we in turn made a counter offer to that. We told them we could go no higher. He said that he had to meet with his Dad and Brothers as they had helped him with the mortgage on his house and his new house. His real estate agent picked him up and took him over to his Dad’s house. They did most of their discussion in Dutch, but every once in awhile the realtor would hear them say something he understood. He told us later that several times things seemed to get really heated up and going no where and Reuben would mention “Pioneer Maid” and then they would all get excited and start talking again. They came back and accepted our offer. I guess us having that stove helped seal the deal. We had noticed a small local bank in a town between my brother’s house and the new house. We went in on my birthday in early December to apply for a loan. The people at the bank were so warm and friendly. They told us all that we would have to do. We got started and since the house was empty, we closed in a very short time.

We had our pick-up truck and stock trailer to move things with. First of all, we had to go and put some sort of stove in so we could warm the place up to work in. We purchased a wood stove that was on the smaller side just to get it in quickly. The Pioneer Maid weighed 680 pounds with all its packaging and would need to be carried up a flight of stairs, so we would need help. My baby brother and his family came up and helped us hook up the stove and do a few things. They loved the house and were thrilled for us. They offered to come and help us move the Pioneer Maid in and the piano. Joshua and I started making trips in the truck during the daytime. We were emptying out the storage unit as we were able. We would go up and start a fire to warm the place up. We could not turn the water on yet because we were not there to keep a fire going and the pipes would freeze. We found out where the closest bathroom was. I felt like I was living a dream. I LOVED that house. It was a gift to me from God. I had always dreamed of a log cabin with a big wrap around porch. I still love log cabins, but would be every bit as happy in a big old Amish style home. The living room was very large and spacious, as was the kitchen. There was an 8’ X 10’ walk in pantry with 2 counters for working on along with some cabinets. The master bedroom was off the living room and there was another small bedroom attached to it. This had been the nursery, but we would use it for the office. Upstairs there were 4 bedrooms that Joshua got to choose from. =) He picked a corner room with good views out both sides. We chose a room to keep as storage. There was an attic, but they had never cut a hole to get up into it. Who needed an attic with all the extra space? There was a full walk out basement as well. We had gotten a really good deal on the piano. The guy held onto it until we had the house. He then delivered it to the house, but only put it in the basement since it was a walk out. The house was on the side of a hill. The walkout was in the front. As we unpacked we realized how many items we had that needed electricity of which the house had none. All of our ceiling fans, and lamps, etc were put in the storage room.

A couple of times we picked up Reuben to help us out and show us some things, plus he had a few things stored in the barn he wanted to get. He would ask us questions. You could tell that he was trying to figure out what box to put us in. He asked if we had a TV and we said no. He was really surprised at that. There were 2 ladies who lived next door to this house. They had loved on his children. They let them watch TV and he was not happy about that, but he still let them go over there. They had taken the children up to Cleveland and taken them up in high buildings to look out. They took them on train rides. They bought them bicycles that had to be kept over at their house since this particular parish did not allow bikes. When we talked to the ladies later, they did their best to expose those children to the world. That in itself is sad, but they were allowed the freedom to do so. That is sadder. You could tell we really confused him. We brought up lots of things about God. We had ready so many books about the Amish and assumed they were all Christians. We have found out that is not the case at all. He did not know much about God, but he did know what his church believed and what their rules were. His family and several other families had split off from the local parish and moved farther south because they wanted to be able to smoke on Sundays. I don't think they wanted to smoke in their meetings, but afterwards. The people who still lived up around this house did not smoke on Sundays. It confused him as we talked about our relationship with the Lord.

Here is a picture of the front of the house after we put lattice up across the bottom.

It was coming down to the end of the year and we wanted to be in before New Years Day. My baby brother and his family came up to help move the stove into place. It took a lot of work to get it on the trailer. Then driving the hills with the truck bed full as well as the trailer full was quite a trip. There was one long hill that several times the truck was down to about 15 MPH when we hit the top. They got the stove out and put it at the bottom of the porch steps. They did try to put some bracing under the steps, but they were still wobbly. Doug (my brother) said he would take the top side and Joshua and Michael would be on the bottom side. Only by God’s grace did the three of them get that stove up those stairs. It about killed Doug, because he had to bend all the way over, step up and pull. We got the stove up and in the living room and they hooked it up. We got a fire going and we were in business. We did not have the heart to ask him to help with the piano. They were all worn out and huffing and puffing. That had been a major feat. We got pizza from a local place and they stayed and our first dinner in our new house with us. We sat around and talked awhile. The boys all went looking at stuff. They put up some quick fencing so we could bring our animals. Doug & his family were invaluable in helping us get set up in that home. We celebrated Christmas with family, but we were doing everything we could to get in by the end of the year. We ordered hay and it was delivered to the barn. They 2 young men even put it away in the barn for us. We had stalls rigged up.

It was New Year’s Eve and we got the animals up there and were going to be spending the night. As they went back for a second trip, I was making up beds. We had turned the water on and they had started the hot water heater fire. We had wiped everything down. I was putting dishes away in the cabinets and filling the pantry. They got back and said they had one more load to bring and asked if I wanted to go with them. I was so tired, but there was so much to do, I told them I was going to stay there. I had Star with me. When you came in the front door, there was a staircase right in front of you. It was a closed stair case with a door. If you went to the right, you went in the kitchen and if you went to the left you went into the living room. From the front door, you could see the master bedroom door and if it was open, you could see the bed. I was totally spent and went in to lie down on the bed. I had my back to the door. Now, if you know me well, you would know that I really don’t like animals in the house. They are NOT allowed on my bed at any time for any reason. Star would sleep with Joshua in his bed, but I think it is gross to have a dog in or on your bed… or any other animal for that matter. I guess I fell sound asleep. Michael said that when they got back they wanted a camera really bad. I had my back to the front door and was out cold. Up on the bed, curled against my back laid Star, sound asleep with me. =) They thought it was hysterical.

We were in. We were not unpacked, but God had given me an earthly home to settle into. He not only gave me an earthly home, but one that was WAY beyond my wildest dreams.

Here are some pictures of the living room after we had our furniture in and situated.

We settled into a routine. Joshua would go down and start the coal fire to get the hot water heater going. They would load it up with paper and then put coal on top of it. Then they would put diesel fuel on it. When he lit that thing in the basement, you would hear it roar up the chimney like a rocket taking off. That is how Reuben showed us how to do it, but I never quite got used to it. One time it blew the pipe right out of the wall and the basement started filling with smoke. We had to get it back in place quick. We were really good at first about making sure we used the hot water and not let it get to hot. As time went on, we became more relaxed about it. Then we would start to hear the pipes pinging. We knew we had to hurry. We would run and turn on the hot water tap in the hallway sink and the kitchen sink. The steam would come billowing out and fill the room starting at the ceiling. Many times the steam would come well down below our waists. You think that we would learn. It made for some REALLY hot water though. You had to be very careful to not burn yourself.

The stairs to the basement were steep and a bit wobbly like the porch stairs. There were no side railings or backs on the stairs. Star had not been in a place with stairs before. She wanted nothing to do with them. We would try to coax her up with treats or a promise of a ride in the car, but no go…. She did not want to go anywhere near those stairs either going up or going down. There were 3 stairs to the back porch and that is where she liked to come and go from. Joshua would pick her up and “help” her walk up the stairs or down them. She finally got used them and would go up or down at a break neck speed.

The basement was divided up a bit. There was a long narrow room where the coal stove and hot water tank were. There was a door to the outside from that room and from the main room. At the back of the main room was a small bathroom with just a toilet and another room that they had used for a root cellar. In the root cellar room was what I got to use for a refrigerator. They had taken cement and made a rather large square bathtub shaped thing. It had a drain pipe that stood up several inches from the bottom of the tub. There was a spigot for running water. You would turn the water on to a trickle. It would fill the tub up to the top of the drain pipe and then drain away. It was a man made spring house set up. You would sit your items down in a water proof container or jar in the water. The water came up out of the ground at around 50 degrees. It was constantly running through and keeping cold. I would put smaller items in little plastic baskets to keep them from going all over the place. This worked really well at keeping things cold. It had a couple of downsides though. Number one, the water that went through there had not gone through the softener yet and it was gross. It stained all my containers and jars. The other downside was that it was in the basement back in this dark room and we did not have any electric lights. You would have to go the basement with a flashlight, get the stuff out while it was dripping wet and then carry everything (or make many trips) back up to the kitchen to use. We thought storing meat would be no problem, because it was winter in Ohio. We were going to buy the meat and keep it in a cooler on the porch. That winter was very mild and most of the time we had to buy the meat on the day we were going to fix it.

We lived without any electricity for a couple of months. The way the house was set up made it easy. The only two things I really missed were my refrigerator and my computer. I love the kerosene lamps. They gave such a soft warm glow. We had a couple of Aladdin lamps that would get pretty bright, so we could still see well. I loved having the glow of lamplight in the bedroom. It made everything seem so cozy and snug. You would go in and turn the light down and then blow it out before getting into bed. I have to say that the time we lived there were some of the happiest times of my life. I loved that house and that life.

To be continued…

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Seven Foundational Elements of a Godly Estate

Every man leaves an estate, a legacy that represents his life and labors. A man’s estate my not have many hard assets, but it will have valuable spiritual assets or destructive spiritual liabilities. In this illuminating talk, Geoff Botkin shares seven foundational elements that are essential to a well-appointed godly estate. He urges men and fathers to build providential estates for their families; to make provision for the future by investing their energy and resources into worthy endeavors that will bear much fruit over time.

The Promise: The Beauty and Power of the Fifth Commandment

Is it “well with you”? If not, it may be because there are unresolved issues relating to honor in your life. “Honor your father and mother” is the first command with a promise. In this foundational message, Doug Phillips breaks down the issue of honor and addresses challenging issues such as: How do wise parents instill honor in their children? How should children respond to perverse authority in parents? In what way are adult sons and daughters to honor their living parents? How can adult children restore honor to relationships that have long been tinged by dishonor?

The Providential Nexus of Plymouth & Jamestown

Was the Jamestown Settlement founded for solely commercial purposes? Was the Plymouth Colony formed simply to establish religious liberty? In this illuminating message, Dr. Paul Jehle clears away many of the misconceptions and demonstrates that, while Jamestown and Plymouth had real differences, each had vital strengths that the other needed — and that, over time, God would providentially wove together these elements to form the greatest nation in the West.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What a Beautiful Evening

I was waiting for Michael to bring me the milk for straining. I grabbed the camera and headed out the door. The first 2 pictures were actually taken on Sunday. The purple rockets (a type of phlox) is growing wild all over right now. I love to see them. If you pick them, they last a long time in the house.

I saw this purple flower peeking out of the weeds against the house. It is actually on a Vinca vine. These vines are supposed to be an annual up here, but for whatever reason, one of mine (and I only plant mine in pots) somehow got rooted behind my half barrel planter. It comes up every year. It has never bloomed though. I pulled the leaves back to make sure it was the vine blooming and it was.

My Wisteria is almost done. I have praised the Lord for these blooms. I feel like it was a gift that God gave me. I drank in the sweet scent and just kept looking at them. I noticed it is growing along that side of the house. I need to pull them out as they can be destructive. I want to save a couple as I know some people who want starts.

This is my comfrey plant. It is doing well for being dug up many times. This is the one, that I dig up and give away. =) It seems to like this spot though.

I believe these are blooms from a wild cherry tree, but I need to look them up to be sure.

These little flowers are BEAUTIFUL. They just popped up though. They have never come up before and there are 2 patches of them. Both patches are in a row like they were planted on purpose.

Here are some baby apples on our tree.

These are baby peaches.

I hope you enjoyed your stroll with me. The milk should be in any minute now.

Growing Your Own Food

We have been pursuing our dream to grow and raise as much of our own food as possible for quite a few years now. We are still learning. There is always something new to learn or know. I want to do several posts along this line of thinking. Maybe I will reserve Thursdays for that type of post.... hmmm... Not sure on that one. I have a hard enough time remembering to do my Monday "Blessing" posts and my Friday "Tails" posts. I do want to keep this thread going though. I am going to reserve today to talk about gardening.

Gardening is not really rocket science. Some things need a bit more care than others, but most things will grow fairly easily. However, gardening does take work and perseverance. I have talked to many people about gardening and I get the picture that some of them think of gardening as tilling up some ground, sticking some plants in and going out and pick your dinner. That does not happen at my house, although it would be nice. This year we are going to try a different method of gardening in parts of our garden. I believe it is called the Ruth Stout method, but I am not sure, because I can't find the book right this second. =) She is an older woman who keeps a fairly large garden with little to no work because she mulches heavily.

Two years ago, I put down a thick layer of newspaper and then straw over it around my squash and cukes. The next year when all the little weeds started springing up in the garden before we planted, that area was bare. We had some several year old, big round bales of junk hay. We have put about 4 of those in the garden. We have another one out by the garden to spread and maybe 3 more up in the field. I know that hay is not recommended because of the seeds it can contain, but this is really old stuff, so we are going to try it.

Here is some of the lettuce varieties that we plant. I like to get a wide variety of lettuce for salads. I would also like to grow some edible flowers this year to grace my salad bowl and make it gorgeous.

The big bushy things you see in this picture are asparagus ferns. I let too many go that year. If you do not pick asparagus every day, you automatically lose some. I have never seen stuff grow so fast. Star is a big help in the garden. =)

You also have to be willing to be around critters. I am not a spider lover at all. However, I see all kinds while I am out there in the garden. They are really beneficial. This guy is huge. Thank goodness he was in the flower bed and not the veggie garden.

It is so fun to find the hidden fruit of your efforts lying among the stalks and leaves.

One of the things I want to do this year is be diligent to make a canning/gardening notebook. I canned a lot of pickles last year. I was not sure how many to do. We are coming down to the end of them and I am hoping they will last until I get cukes to make more this year. I want to know the details of taking this....

...and turning it into this.

I want to figure out how many quarts of tomato juice a bushel will make. Then how many jars of tomato juice do I think I will use. I want to write all of that down. Then I want to keep track of all that we can or freeze and how much is left when that particular item comes into ripeness the next year. I don't want way too much, but neither do I want to run out.

I have a cookbook (I am not sure that is the right thing to call it) that I absolutely love. It is the one cookbook that I won't do without. It is called The Practical Produce Cookbook.
The subtitle is how to Plant, Pick, Prepare and Preserve Produce. It lists almost all the items you would grow in your garden. It gives you planting tips and times. It tells you how to know when it is ripe and ready to pick. It shows recipes using that particular item. Then it tells you how to freeze, can or dehydrate them. It has been a lifesaver for me several times. If you click on the book, it will take you to our online store where we sell it. HEY... it's my blog, I can stick a commercial in. =)

Dehydrating is another wonderful option. We LOVE Vidalia onions. You can only get them for a short time in the spring and early summer. You can also grow your own sweet mild onion, although I have still not found one as good as a Vidalia from Georgia. I slice them up and then dehydrate them. (We also sell dehydrators) I recommend running your dehydrator outside, or on a porch or something as it will make your eyes water in the house (That is experience speaking). After they are dryed, then run them through a food processor or chop them up somehow. 50 pounds of onions will fit in a half gallon jar. They taste like candy and many get eaten right out of the jar. We use them in place of onions in soups, salads, casseroles, etc.

I would love to hear ideas that you have or use in your garden.