Sunday, October 29, 2006

Good Sunday Evening

Just wanted to make a quick entry on this beautiful Sunday evening. We have enjoyed our weekend once again. O.k.... Michael has tiled the kitchen all weekend, but the rest of us have enjoyed it. The kitchen is getting close to being completed. Well, the tile is close to being finished, and then we still have the grout. I helped Michael grout the dining room, and I was in for quite a rude awakening. I thought it would be like icing a cake, and was I ever wrong. It was a lot of hard work, and I thought we would never finish cleaning it! I will keep you updated as we continue this project.

The weather here is glorious today. We are heading out to a bonfire tonight in our community. Everybody is looking forward to it.

Oh!!!! I almost forgot to tell you our chickens started laying eggs!!! I was fussing just yesterday about having 17 chickens and still not getting any eggs. I guess the chickens heard my rantings and decided they better start producing something. I was getting tired of finding chicken droppings in my nest boxes! I can't wait to have many more eggs. I love the results of baking with fresh eggs. The real eggs make all the difference. I just can't wait now to get our cow and have real milk! (Truth be told, I am glad she won't calve until summer. This girl was a little worried about learning to milk in the winter)!!

Grace and Peace,

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Thoughts on Homemade Soap

After reading TnFarmgirl's blog I decided it was time to get out the soap making supplies. I haven't made soap in 2 years. Wow, the time does fly! Michael and I started making soap several years ago. I truly loved the product, but with so many other things filling our lives we had to let a few things go by the wayside. Soapmaking was one of those things. Cheri (tnfarmgirl) has been very gracious over the past 2 years to share soap with us. I have very dry skin, and in the winter it burns and itches. I have found when I am diligent to use the homemade soap, my skin keeps its moisture better. Homemade soap takes a little getting use to. It is different from store bought soap, and that is why I really like it. Soap making is not hard, but you do have to follow the directions carefully. Children should not be in the area where you are making soap. There are just too many chances of really burning or hurting a child. I am the kind of cook that splashes and dashes a little of this and a lot of that into the pot. This methodology is not the proper one to be using when making soap. When we first became interested in soap making, I bought a book by Country Living called Handmade Soap. I bought it because the pictures were beautiful, and it explained the process very well. One of my favorite soaps is the Peppermint Wake up Bar. It has a pungent smell of peppermint, and it tingles the skin just a bit. This will be the batch of soap that I start with as soon as my supplies are delivered. There are many places to purchase soap making supplies on the internet. I do not buy bulk supplies because I just make the soap for my family. If you are going to make a large quanity of soap, it would be good to look for a bulk supplier because it will save much money in the long run. If you want to try homemade soap with out making it yourself, go to TnFarmgirl's blog (link to the right). She has a web page, and she sells her soap. It is wonderful, and she has a great variety.

grace and peace,

Monday, October 23, 2006

Good Monday Morning

Wow, this weekend has flown by with much gusto. I feel like we have opened a Bed n Breakfast. We have had friends from Ohio come and stay with us a few days. We had a great time with lots of cooking, eating, visiting, walking, and hiking. I so enjoyed watching them being refreshed here on our farm. Sometimes we get so busy that we forget to really savor the moments and beauty before us. It is always fun when someone comes here for the first time because they reopen my eyes to the beauty all around us. The mountain behind our farm is turning into an artist canvas. Each day it looks as if God has colored even more beauty into His masterpiece as each tree takes on a different color for fall. I truly love this time of year. Our older children spent much of their young lives living in Florida because it was Michael's last duty station while serving in the Navy. They had never seen fall or spring or much snow for that matter. I will never forget my oldest son's reaction to his first fall. He was so in awe of the beauty of it all because he was 10 years old before he had actually seen it first hand!

Well back to our weekend.... Thirty minutes after the first family left our home we had another family stop by for a visit and lunch. We have been so blessed over the years to make covenant friendships that have lasted the test of time as well as distance. This particular family came into our life just 6 weeks after our first baby was born. That was over 15 years ago, and they have been family every since. This woman has been my Titus 2 lady in my life. She was the one who encouraged me to stay at home with my little one, and she helped me along the way to encourage me with home making. Shortly after I met her, she taught me to bake bread. She not only showed me how to bake it, she bought me bread pans and books to get me started. Wow, what a legacy she has had on my family. She didn't stop there...she continues to mail me recipes and teach me new techniques every time we are together. This time around she brought me some of her beloved bread pans as well as a wooden bread board that she has used over the years. A few years back I decided I wanted a grain mill to grind my own wheat. Guess who helped us purchase that? I had just had our 5th baby, and instead of a baby gift she sent money for the family to purchase a grain mill! She also included some of her favorite whole wheat bread recipes!

We may never know the seeds that we plant in the lives of people. We may never realize the crop that we have sown in someone's life. I know this lady truly has no idea what she has done in my own life.

This upcoming week we will be taking time to clean up from the storm. There is still a large pine tree laying in our front yard. We love to have bonfires on cool evenings. Hope, our daughter, had already been asking her Daddy to make a fire pit and some type of seating. Well, God did provide with the large tree. Michael will be making log seats to go around our fire pit out of the tree, and Hope has been collecting rocks from all over to make the fire ring. I am enjoying the time we share around the fire roasting marshmallows and drinking hot cocoa or hot apple cider.

Well, I have rambled enough and now it is time to actually do all the great things that I know to do to keep this family running smoothly.

grace and peace,

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

That Was Close

Our current home remodeling project almost expanded greatly overnight. Nature has a way of testing our patience, especially when we are right in the midst of making things happen. We are currently finishing up the improvements to our home that Julie mentioned in a previous post. Additionally, I have just completed a new chicken tractor and had it in service for about a week. We are about to make some changes to our barn to accommodate a new milk cow coming from Tn FarmGirl. All this and we wake up to the pictures below. The area we live in has extreme wind storms about 7 or 8 times a year and last night was the worst we've had since we moved here. Wind gusts near 100 mph. Oh well, I need to get to cleaning up, and wait for the insurance adjuster. More to follow.
God bless

My work car is not in a good spot.
My new chicken tractor, roofless.
The old chicken tractor, roofless.
The kids' trampoline had fight with the clothes line, still not sure who won.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Home remodeling continues

Michael is experiencing a long weekend, and he will be starting a new work schedule soon. He has decided to spend this weekend working on our house remodeling. When we found this farm almost 3 years ago, I really did not like the house AT ALL. I had in my mind a beautiful country home with a wrap around front porch that was just full of character. When we first looked at this house, it had character alright, but it was vintage 1970's!! It had the darkest paneling I had ever seen, and the kitchen floor was harvest gold flowers complete with harvest gold appliances! I didn't even walk through the entire house because I knew that I knew this was not the house for me. I took the kids and waited in the van for him. When Michael came back to the van, he was heartbroken that I wasn't on the same page as him.(At that point, I wasn't even in the same book)!! He told me it was his dream farm, and it was like taking candy from a baby that I wouldn't be interested. Our oldest son says that is the only time in his entire life he ever heard his Daddy whine about anything! We left, and I began to feel bad so I told him to call the man back and we would go and look at it a second time. I at least walked the entire house the second time around, but I still wasn't sold. I smiled on our way home, and told him I didn't like it any better the second day than I did the first. Later that day I was praying, and I felt convicted by the Holy Spirit that I wasn't honoring my husband with this situation. I went to Michael and told him that if it was truly his dream farm, then I would support him 100%. I would be willing to move to the house, and I would make myself be happy there even amongst the dark paneling and ugly kitchen. He was thrilled, and I felt great. I had already figured out the asking price was way more than we could afford so I would come out smelling like a rose when the bank denied the loan. (Ladies, this isn't the way to handle these type of situations with our husbands, but I am just being honest). Later that weekend the owner of the house called and asked what he could do to get us to buy the house. Michael told him he had to come down on the price, and he agreed. I went from smelling like a rose to feeling like a skunk because ten days later we had closed on the house. Michael was thrilled, and I was in complete dismay as well as disbelief. The first thing that we started redoing was the kitchen. Michael had a cabinet and furniture shop in times past, and he makes beautiful cabinets. He planned our new kitchen, and began the cabinet making process. Our kitchen is about three quarters finished, and I love it. Our entire family put so much work into those cabinets. When our children have company, I grin when I hear them tell their friends to watch our for the cabinets because it was a lot of hard work making them! This weekend Michael has decided to start on the tile floor in the kitchen and dining room. This is a large area and it is an enormous job, but it is already looking great. I am so very thankful that he is so talented in all of these areas. As the project continues, I will have him post pictures to keep you updated.

By the way, this farm as well as house has become my dream too. We had lived here for about a year, and we were walking in one of our fields and I knew that we were right where we belonged. As we were walking hand in hand, I told him he was right. He grinned at me, and asked me what he was right about this time. I told him he was right all along about this house and farm, and I was so thankful that the Lord blessed us with it. I thought our farm home would look totally different. I wanted one of the old homes with tons of character, but God knew exactly what we needed. I also realized that our home has character too, but it comes from us.

grace and peace,

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

To Play or Not to Play

How quickly 5 months can go by! It has been a busy summer and early fall for us. A great deal of my time has been consumed by my day job due to a labor union strike at my company. With the labor force on strike, salaried have had to keep the company running and that has resulted in considerable more hours than usual. Additionally, our three oldest boys play baseball and football and that too has kept us on the run to some extent; more on that below. As far as the farm goes, we have continued to care for our new fruit trees, enjoyed our first season with the raised beds, and have nurtured our layers throughout the summer, eggs should be on the horizon. A great deal of our farm work and progress is actually going to happening this fall. It seems like fall and spring is when we accomplish the most on the farm. We have also recently invested a fair amount of our free time into completing some remodeling projects on our house. I may touch on remodeling in future post.

I mentioned sports above, and that is what I'd like to focus on today, probably because it's been on mind a lot lately. Something I've noted in the last year as I've spent more time reading agrarian blogs, is that youth sports are not mentioned much. I'm curious as to the reason. I'm sure that some bloggers may not have young children or teenagers at home. I know that many are homeschooled and therefore do not have school related sports available. Others may not believe that children should compete in sports. Whatever the reason, I'm interested in hearing why. As for us, we homeschool and have children in public school. But, in both situations our children have competed in youth sports, both public recreation leagues and school teams. I coach many of these teams and the events are family affairs for us. One of our children is on traveling baseball team that I co-coach and we have struggled at times wondering if it is too much, but have still come to a decision that as long as we enjoy it and the sport is kept in the proper perspective we will continue.

Sports in America is an idol to many and this is a fact we are fully aware of. We go to great lengths to keep athletics and sports in the proper perspective with our children. It is a great enjoyment for our children, it keeps us and them active in our community, and it is physically healthy. There are a variety of positive aspects to sports that get overstated; some of them true and some of them not so true. But, when approached with the appropriate Christian mind set, I believe sports can be a healthy beneficial part of a Christian agrarian home.

What say you fellow agrarians. (Don't be afraid to disagree, we are not easily offended.) Just be sure and give me a reason to satisfy my curiosity.

God bless

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

We're Back

We are back and hopefully to stay this time. Many updates are soon to follow as well as discussion topics. Life has taken us away for the last several months and the time to share with you just wasn't there. But, Julie and I have both felt a need to start sharing again and spend more time conversing with like minded folks. Check back today sometime today for a more detailed post.
God bless