Thursday, April 27, 2006

Mundane Things

I wanted to take just a few minutes this morning to touch base with everyone. There hasn't been much to report here on the Covered Y farm. Don't get me wrong...things are being done, but I didn't figure you were too concerned with the mundane chores of daily life. However, this is a regular part of life even though at times it seems that we are at a stand still. I have more raised beds to put in, but first we have to finish mowing the grass!! Which one would you rather do...mow the grass or build more beautiful planting beds? You get my point. The wise King points out in Eccl. 10:18 that the man who does not take the time to work on general maintenance will find his house crumbling and leaking all around him!

I did plant some beautiful squash and zucchini plants thanks to tnfarmgirl! She has a wonderful green house, and I always love to walk through her space. We have received many plants from Cheri, and we have always been more than pleased! Keep up the great growing, Cheri!!!

Michael is pretty particular about how he plants. He uses a tape measure to make sure that everything is just perfect. He is the man that plants his lettuce seeds in alphabetical order! Which by the way, turned out to be great in helping to know what type of lettuce we were eating. I on the other hand am very haphazard. Don't get me wrong, I like things done right. However, with little people under my feet and so many things to do, sometimes I just don't have time to use that tape measure to make sure everything is spaced just so. Due to a very busy schedule, Michael informed me that I would have to do most of the planting this year. THIS IS A HUGE LEAP OF FAITH FOR HIM. By saying this, he understands that the rows wont be perfectly straight. After planting the squash and zucchini, Michael wanted to go see our plants. He was pleased, but remember by the time he got to the garden area it was almost dark. On his way back to the house, he noticed that I had filled the whole raised bed with squash and zucchini. He gasped, and stated that I had planted enough to feed an army!

Well, I must go tackle some more mundane jobs!

grace and peace,

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Home School Encouragement

We had a very lively dinner last night. As we ate, our children started discussing what they wanted to be when they grow up. As usual in our family, our discussion went from serious to silly. Our 9 year old stated that he wanted to be Julius Caesar, but without friends. We all laughed because we knew instantly that he was referring to the fact that Ceasar's friend Brutus was the one who literally stabbed him in the back. Many public school children would not have known any of this history.

Our oldest son started public school for his freshman year. This was his first year to be in public school instead of home school. While I was preparing dinner, he came and sat down. I could tell by the look of disgust something was wrong. He was so frustrated by the lack of education in school. He begged me to apply to teach high school English. (Obviously he forgot we still have 4 other children at home for me to teach)! For the first time in his life, he understood why kids didn't enjoy reading. He concluded if the public school was the only exposure to good literature no wonder the kids hated to read! He told me how thankful he was for his home schooling years.

Now for the encouragement...

Home schooling is worth the time invested. I left the kitchen last night feeling so satisfied because Matthew saw first hand what his Dad and I have preached for years. He realized the value of the education he had been given at home, and he was truly thankful for what we had instilled.
As we are all building our farms, let us not forget the value of pouring into our children. For those of us who home school, we are making a difference in our children's lives...EVEN WHEN WE DON"T FEEL IT. Keep up the good work, and remember summer is on the way!!

As a side note... our decision for public school was something that we had never considered in the past. Matthew came to us and told us he had been praying and was feeling led by the Lord to check out public high school. After much prayer, his Dad and I enrolled him in our small public school. There are many Christians in his path, and the Christian principle keeps a tight rule of her roost or this decision would never had been made. We saw high school as an opportunity to prepare him for college while his Dad and I still had much control over his decisions in life.

grace and peace,

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

After reading KSMILKMAID'S post one day, I became inspired to try out my clothes line. After all, her laundry pictures reminded me of spending time on my grandmother's farm. As a child, I use to help her hang out clothes. I got such a warm fuzzy from the whole walk down memory lane that I decided I would recreate the scenerio for my own family. (On a more logical side to my decision, our laundry room is located just off of our kitchen. The laundry room has no air or heat vents so in the summer it is HOT. I had already been toying with the idea of hanging out clothes to help remedy this problem. Between cooking and drying clothes, our kitchen can become unbearable during the summer time). The only child that was excited about the whole process was our daughter. She enjoyed the whole process so much that I knew that I had made a good choice. Then came last night.... The clothes weren't quite dry when I had to leave for a ballgame. I knew I could get them off the line when I got back from town so I wasn't worried. They were almost dry, and I knew a few more hours would finish the job. Well, I didn't account for how long our family was town last night or the fact that we still hadn't eat dinner. When we got in from the game, I had to make a choice...finish supper or get the clothes. Hungry husband and children helped me make the choice quickly, and I decided that the natives had to be fed. I was still in the thought process of getting the clothes after dinner. Well let's just say that after we ate, Michael and I sat down and had a wonderful talk. During the conversation I had remembered that the milkmaid let her clothes dry at night. I formulated a plan, and I aksed my husband the weather forecast. He assured me it wasn't going to rain until the next day. I asked him if he was sure, and he confirmed that it would my clothes would remain dry until morning. The clothes did remain dry until morning...4:45 a.m. to be exact!! I woke up to the sound of thunder and downpouring rain. I nudged him and told him that all of our 4 loads of laundry were getting wet. His response was that he was right. It didn't rain until morning!

I will still continue to use the clothes line. However, I will check the weather forecast MYSELF!

grace and peace,

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Our First Fruit Trees

Although, we have owned property with fruit trees already present, we've never planted our own. This is something we've looked forward to for years and it has finally comed to "fruition", pun intended. After our recent update as to what was happening on our farm, The "Covered Y" Farm, we promised some detailed discussion on the various projects; well here's the first installment, fruit trees.

This fall several more trees will be added, but we were so anxious to get started we decided to do some spring planting. It is very motivational and uplifting to simply get started and know that your dream is underway. As I mentioned before, we are very thankful to Tim at The Urban Homestead for his help and knowledge and his beautiful and healthy plants.


We chose one each of two varieties; Montmorency, a sour cherry for baking and Stella, a dark cherry for eating out of hand. We certainly intend to plant more trees and additional varieties, but we are off to a wonderful start.


We also selected two peach trees for now. First was Raritan Rose, a white fleshed peach, supposed to be very aromatic and tasty, it is a semi-clingstone which grows well in East Tennessee. Second we chose a standard variety, Redhaven, it is a more reddish peach that is a freestone type peach.


We only planted 3 apple trees for now. Our plans are to plant several more in the fall; Tim at The Urban Homestead says despite popular opinion, fall is the best planting time in our neck of the woods. We planted one Macintosh and Tim had a couple of York trees with burnt roots that he made us a deal on. We removed the root ball and planted the tree deep hoping for new root growth above the graft, meaning these trees wil come in as standard trees rather than semi-dwarf.


We planted two pear trees as well. The first choice was a Seckel, we've read and heard so many good things about it that we had to have one. Second, we went with a D'Anjou which will be a good pollinator for the Seckel and is a good pear in its own right.


The last fruit that went into the ground was 10 Concord grape vines. We have not established any trellis or lines for them yet, but will soon.

All of the plants and trees went in the ground on the 27th of March. The trees were all approximately 3-5 ft tall and will probably producee fruit with 3 years. We are excited and anxious, but unlike the times we live in are willing to wait for the proper timing and enjoy the fruit in its season. That's it for now. Check back soon for details on bees, raised beds, chickens, hogs, barn improvements and more. I may also post some baseball pictures from recent tournaments we've played for the sports fans out there.

God bless,

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Home Schooling ALMOST completed

This is the time of year my children and I struggle with home schooling. We are all ready to get outside and enjoy the sunshine, but there are still many things that need to be completed indoors. I have home schooled long enough to know that one way to combat this "i don't want to do school syndrome" is to add something different to the curriculm. For instance, we have spent much of our school year studying ancient history. We finished our study of Rome yesterday, and we placed all the history books on the shelf. We will pick up with the Middle Ages when we start school next year. Now, we will spend extra time with science. We have done bits of science all year, but now we are really digging into it. This change of pace excites us all, and I pray it will help carry us until the end of May. Working in the garden also is part of our study of science, and this helps our children learn while they do.

We are also a family of readers. I am a firm believer in reading out loud to children even after they have the ability to read. My older boys and I have shared many wonderful hours spent reading together. We try to find books that go along with the history that we are studying for the moment. For example, when we were studying ancient Rome, my 7th grader read The Bronze Bow, and The Eagle of the Ninth. My 4th grader read Detectives in Toga and he and my 2nd grader listened to other books being read aloud.

Our 4th grader just finished up the book Along Came a Dog by Meindert DeJong. He so loved this book, and I found myself enjoying it too. It was about a farmer who was trying to start a chicken operation, and while he was preparing his farm, this black dog kept coming to find a home. This farmer had such a big heart that he couldn't just kill the dog so he kept putting him in the car and taking him away from the farm. However, the dog kept returning, and found himself becoming protector of a beloved red hen. The book was well written, and my 9 yr. old consumed it quickly. He is the child that we call Chicken Jake because he loves his chickens. As he read aloud to me and I read to him, we had many discussions concerning chickens. Tnfarmgirl or Cheri as we call her here, stirred our interest in chickens about 4 years ago. She gave us a few layers, and Jacob fell in love with those chickens. He has always been the one to feed them and gather eggs. We kept chickens until recently, but after reading this book we put in another order for 25 hens. They are already growing by leaps and bounds. Soon they will be ready to go outside. We have all enjoyed watching them grow, but Jacob has spent the most time with them. He is the one that came upstairs with a cold chick and asked what to do for it. He spent the afternoon giving it water and holding it hoping to keep it alive. (This chick did die, but Jacob knew that at least he tried save her). We enjoyed reading this book because Jacob had experienced much of what the author was describing with his own chickens.

I have a child coming with a book in hand begging me to read so....

Grace and Peace,

Monday, April 03, 2006


Sorry we haven't posted in the last week and a half. We have been at it hard and just didn't take the time to set down at the computer. I took a week off from my day job to make some things happen around the farm, (and to relax with the family) and that is what we did with the majority of our time. I will be posting about some of the individual items we accomplished complete with pictures, but I'll give a short synopsis for now.

With the coaching of Tnfarmgirl, we began building our raised beds. We have two completed and are ready to knock out two more. Although, they are a considerable amount of work up front, they will be well worth it down the road. After tilling up the bed area, we put up green lumber walls approximately 10 inches deep and filled with our organic soil mixture recommended by Tnfarmgirl. This included well composted horse manure mixed with cedar bedding (about 50 cubic feet), black rock phosphate, green sand, peat moss, lime, and a few bags of mushroom compost. We tilled it all in together, closed up the ends and installed drip tape for watering when necessary.

We also got several fruit trees in the ground. We visited a somewhat local nursery in Bristol, VA, The Urban Homestead. Tim was a huge help, he met with us on Saturday afternoon the 25th and spent a good deal of time teaching us and helping us select plants. We will be going back in the fall for more apple trees. Very nice Christian folks with a very unique nursery, I hope you will give them a call or check out their web site. In short we planted two cherry trees, two peach trees, two pear trees, three apple trees, and 10 grape vines. I provide more details later. After mulching them heavily, we set up a watering branch connected to the water lines to our raised beds. We will be raising these fruits using organic, or should I say, natural methods.

We received two new packages of bees from our local supplier on Tuesday of last week. Thank God, we had warm sunny weather and were able to get the bees into prepared hives on Wednesday. By the weekend my queens were out of their queen cage and the bees were busy working on setting up their new home. Although, this makes 4 hives for us, I don't think the two I had are in very good condition; more to follow on this.

We also received a free chicken tractor from the friend who supplied us with the composted horse manure. It was in need of some minor repairs, and I started those. It should be ready for the chicks we received a couple of weeks back to move into by the weekend. We also started preparations on using an old dog kennel as a second "portable chicken coup".

We also used the time to catch up on several small jobs around the house and fix a few broken things here and there. And scattered throughout the nine days off, my oldest son had 6 high school baseball games, my second son and I had two little league practices, and my third son and I had three traveling team practices and four game tournament this past weekend in Kingsport, TN. Did I mention that we love baseball, and for us it is a family outing, when we travel to games we go as a family and really enjoy the time together and with our many friends we have through the baseball teams.

Now, some folks might say they were ready to get back to their day job after a week like that. It certainly was tiring because we tried to use the time to get a great deal of work done. But, I feel more rested and content than I have in a long time. I hope someday to be able to come home and provide a living using our farm, but God has provided a great job for me now; and for that I am thankful. But, I must admit, I miss being at home already.

God bless,