Thursday, March 29, 2007

There should be a law of God that states that Mothers shall NOT EVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE get sick. I think my entire family would agree. Right after that law there should be another law...In the event that somehow a mother does get sick, her dishwasher shall NOT break!!!! My children would sign both of those laws into effect if they had the authority to do so.

Without all of the yucky details of sickness, I'll just say I have been dealing with bronchitis and now strep throat. I feel like I have lost almost 2 weeks of my life. I have watched more t.v. in the last 2 days then I have watched in the last 2 months. (I did get some good tips off the Food Network)! So if you are a mom and have any kind of imagination you must know that our house is undone. (Again I am leaving out all the yucky details for your benefit). Everyone has pitched in as much as possible, but after a while a house needs the hand of a mom to put it back in tip top shape. I struggle with this sometimes. I grew up in a house that was always clean. I have had times in my life that I am down right irritated about things getting undone in our home. (Confession is good for the soul). I have had times in my life that I want one of those houses that just seems to stay clean all by themselves.

About 8 years ago, I was crying out to the Lord about this very issue. It seemed at the time no matter how hard I worked in our home it always needed something else done to it. I was getting so discouraged that I was starting to get frustrated with our children. The Lord dropped a scripture right into my lap that has changed my attitude from that time on.

"Where no oxen are the trough is clean; But much increase comes by the strength of an ox." Proverbs 14:14

Now at the time we did not have a farm or any real plans for a farm so I knew God wasn't speaking to me to get a farm animal. However, He was speaking about my children. I was placing the wrong value on a clean house instead of putting the right value on the children that the Lord gave me. This one scripture has changed my life when it comes to my attitude about cleaning up our home. I still grumble sometimes about the chore, but I also know that with oxen (children) sometimes comes a dirty trough (kitchen). Now one of my favorite sayings in the world is "Many hands make light work". So with that in mind I am going to go gather my many hands and get this house put back in order!!!

grace and peace,

Monday, March 26, 2007

English Mastiff: The Good, The Bad, & The Smelly

I am a dog lover. I have been a lover of animals ever since I can remember. I truly can't recall being scared of any dogs until about 2 years ago. I had been walking about 2 miles around "the loop" which started at my house and circled around until I returned home again. I love this walk because the mountains are beautiful and the road doesn't have too much traffic. About half way around the loop is a beautiful new home with a dog that looks much like the one you see in this picture. She never even so much barked at me for over a year. Then one day I happened to walk by and she wasn't only barking but she was running very fast towards me. I quickly climbed into a cow pen and stood there facing the neighbor's bovines, but they beat the barking dog. I was thinking about climbing up into the barn, but decided that I was safe enough on the ground. I went to reach for my cell phone, but much to my dismay I had left without it that morning. I stood there for a while and then decided that I could maybe climb out of the pen and sneak back home. Every time I tried to climb out, the dog would come back and bark again. I was trapped, and I was feeling a bit frustrated. I then spotted an older farmer way up on the hill and I started yelling with all of my might for him to come my way. I knew this man, and I knew he was the father of the dog's owner. He came down the hill asking me what in the world I was doing standing in his cow pen. I pointed out to the DOG. He said in a calm voice, "Sassy, go home". She went home. I was so impressed. However, I was having a little difficulty getting up the nerve to start my walk back home so I requested that he drive me past the dog's abode. He laughed and assured me that she wouldn't hurt me. I laughed and said I would rather ride than take a chance on meeting Sassy again that morning. This was my first encounter with an English Mastiff.

About a year after my encounter, Sassy became a mommy, and my oldest son begged me to stop in and see the pups. I honored his request. They were the cutest pups, but I knew they would be expensive. Several months later, I was the owner of one of her pups. The neighbor's called and offered us a "deal we couldn't refuse" to get rid of the last puppy. I wanted to share our experience thus far with this breed of dog.

THE GOOD: Mastiffs are known to be very loyal. They were bred to stay at home to guard the castle during the middle ages. They did not often bite their enemies, but they would sit on them or back them into a corner until their master came home. (This explains why Sassy was happy to trap me in the cow pen and keep me until helped arrived).

English Mastiffs have a very sweet disposition. Our Missy dog is one of the sweetest dogs we have ever had. They enjoy being with their people, and dislike being left alone. (Missy's favorite spot is to sit on the rug in front of the kitchen sink while I am doing dishes. She will also sit on our feet if she gets the chance). She wants to be as close to us as possible. They are also known as lazy which I think is a good trait. She sleeps a lot so this has kept her out of trouble.

English Mastiffs are smart dogs who want to please their owners. She has an understanding that she can play with our older children roughly, but she had best be easy with the little guy.

THE BAD: English Mastiffs are very large animals. They average out between 150-190 and above. I believe our dog is about 150 pounds. This is a good trait if you need them to scare a bad guy away. However, this can work against you if you need to get your dog out of the UPS truck. (That happened just last week at our house. Thankfully the UPS guy has a great sense of humor)! Due to their size, these dogs can do a lot of damage without really trying. I cannot go into all the things that Missy has messed up in as well as out of our home because Michael hasn't figured it all out yet! (We did find one of his lost golf balls. However nobody wanted to retrieve it from Missy's pile of pooo. Yes, she ate his golf ball)! We have a rule at our house...WATCH MISSY, and if you cannot watch her PUT HER IN THE BATHROOM with everything removed from the counter! She is a house dog who is my shadow so this isn't usually a problem.

THE SMELLY: Before we got Missy, we did a little reading about the breed. The breed profile said these dogs were on the gassy side. I believe that was an understatement...they can smell very bad if fed the wrong thing. Sometimes she smells just plain bad even when she is fed the right thing! The breed profile says that this breed tends to snore a bit. That was an understatement as well. Missy can put Michael's snoring to shame. She is very noisy at night, but I can sleep through just about anything so it doesn't bother much. The breed profile forgot to say that this breed of dog tends to slobber. That can be a bit disgusting, but a large roll of paper towels applied to her jaws usually can conquer this problem.

You may be wondering why in the world we would have a 150 pound smelly snoring house dog living in our home. (Yes, Michael asks me this question often). But remember, I am truly a dog lover. I love big dogs that are sweet natured, and Missy Girl is so very sweet. She is my shadow, and I feel a bit lost when she isn't by my side. Yes, she has probably doubled my housework load, but she has brought me and the kids much joy. (Michael is still waiting for the joy part, but I know down deep he truly loves her). Well, we will just leave it that way until he decides to post his own thoughts!!

grace and peace,


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Farmer In Training

We celebrated Seth's 3rd Birthday this month. I thought I would share a few pictures of his birthday celebration. You know every boy/man loves a good tractor. This year the grandparents and us went in together and bought him a battery operated tractor. I was a little concerned that he would miss opening up gifts, but his Daddy assured me that this was the gift for him! His Dad sure knows his boy because Seth was delighted with his new tractor. Later in the day he became even more estatic because he found 2nd gear which made him go MUCH faster!!! (Watch out fruit trees)!
grace and peace,

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Fruit Trees Welcome Spring

Here are pictures of our 2nd year peach tree. I was delighted when I saw the beautiful blooms the other evening. Then I remembered that I must pinch the flowers off the trees again this year. Ughhh...I hate doing that. It seems against my mothering nature. I spent much time caring for these trees, and now I am expected to take off all of the beautiful flowers. Tim from Urban Homestead PROMISED me that in the end I would be very pleased if I would follow his advice and pinch off the flowers. He is the tree professional...I am not. He has assured me that by picking off the flowers that our trees will put more effort into growing into strong healthy trees instead of trying to produce fruit these first few years. By trying to produce fruit, it takes away from the tree's ability to become a stronger tree. Well, I followed his advice and I picked the flowers off our now naked tree. It is so hard for me to do this. I will tell you something else that I have a terrible time doing. I can't stand to see our trees pruned. I am not talking about our large apple tree, but all of our young trees are the ones that I hate to see being pruned. It seems like they take 2 steps forward in growing, and then we cut them 1 step back. Tim spent much time talking to us about the pruning process of the young trees. He was wonderful at showing how to prune and WHY it is so important. He sold me on the need of pruning the trees, but I still don't have to like it.
grace and peace,

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Making Do With What We Have

As I said in my previous post, we inherited some seed starting trays when we purchased our house. They were intended to be used to start tobacco slips. The tobacco farmers build large raised"beds" that can hold water. The trays are floated in the water while the bed is covered with hoops and plastic. Our raised beds cannot hold water, and we haven't spent the time or money to add hoops. I was in need of a large container that could float the trays in Michael's shop while the seeds germinate. As I was looking around, I found two tubs used to mix grout when Michael did our tile in the kitchen. I had to cut my tray in half so that it would fit. I now have two floating trays! I will switch out my extra trays so that all of my seeds will stay damp. I found out earlier that dampness and heat are both important for seeds to germinate! (One year I floated these trays in our children's plastic sleds. These worked great, but we no longer have them. They later became pig troughs for our baby pigs). I also had a dilemma in how to label the seeds. I didn't want to spend the money on plastic markers to label our seeds. Instead I bought a large bag of Popsicle sticks from the craft store. I label the stick with the name of the plant as well as the date I planted the seeds. This has been a great way to keep things in order.
I am sure that the more I do this seed planting thing that I will come up with better ways to do things. For now, I am content to use what we have. We did get our order in from Heirloom Acres Seed Company. I was pleased with what I have used thus far. I have planted most of our herb seeds. Last Sunday afternoon, I planted broccoli seeds and cabbage seeds. Those are seen in the last 2 pictures. I am surprised at how quickly they have grown. Today I have planted many flower seeds. I will get pictures of them as soon as there is something to see.
grace and peace,

Planting Seeds and Tending Plants

Here are a few pictures of our make shift green house located in Michael's shop. I have to say that I have been more than impressed at how our seeds have grown under the grow lights. I planted these plants in February, and I have spent the last week "harding them off" outside. It has turned cold here over the weekend, but it is suppose to warm up next week. I will be planting all of the lettuce and spinach plants in the raised beds later this week. I will keep a very close eye on the forecast so I will know if I need to cover the plants at night. I do not have all the equipment that I need to make this seed starting endeavor easier, but I have enough to make it work. When we bought our house, the previous owner had several Styrofoam tobacco seed starters left in the basement. I have used these to start many of our seeds. They have holes in the bottom to soak up the water. I place all of my pots in a tray full of water. I found some disposable cookie trays at our grocery store on clearance. These have made nice watering trays.
I am having to stage my seed plantings to keep in mind the amount of space I have. Seeds do not take up a lot of room, but the plants take up quite a bit of space. I find myself using Sunday afternoons to plant seeds. This is a very enjoyable project for me, and Michael is home to keep an eye on the little guy. Next year I will be happy to enlarge our greenhouse space by adding another tier of lights as well as another grow light cart.
grace and peace,

Friday, March 02, 2007

March Already???

I know it has been a while since our last post. So many new changes have happened here on our farm as well as in our life. First, can you believe it is March already? I am so ready for spring, but it seems just like yesterday that we were celebrating Christmas. The seeds that we started in our make shift "green house" are doing wonderful. I can't wait until all of my other seeds arrive in the mail. I am getting that spring time garden itch, and I need to hurry and start scratching it!

At the end of February, Michael made a drastic job change. He has spent the last 6 years working at Nuclear Fuel Services as an Operation Specialist. At the prompting of the Lord, he closed the door on that chapter of his life, and he has started work as a contractor for a training company. This is such a big change for us. It is truly self employment which has been a desire of his every since I met him. (He would rather be a self employed farmer, but that wouldn't pay the bills at this stage of our life). With his new hours, he is able to work from home some. I am truly enjoying him being here, and he seems so much happier. (I had to call him yesterday and tell him: 1. the chicken tractor blew away, 2. the chickens were everywhere 3. the mastiff dog got a whim and ate a hole out of his side of the bed 4. the mastiff dog also ate his temperpedic special pillow 5. the mastiff dog also ate his side of the sheets and down blanket that my mom gave him for Christmas). Michael took it all with a grain of salt and said don't worry about it. We will take care of it. (That was unexpected. I was already looking for a new home for the mastiff dog that ate half our bedroom down in less than 20 minutes)!

The fence project that Michael and the boys have worked on for so long is almost completed. This will allow us to pick up our cow, and purchase a couple more calves. However after yesterday's wind, Michael will now be rethinking the chicken tractor situation. He will have to do something with the reamaining chickens because they are living in the barn to protect them for now.

I need to get school started with my children. Friday is a wonderful day of school for us. We have what we call Reading Friday. This is a day that we complete any unfinished projects or lessons from the week. Then we spend the rest of our school time reading GREAT books. We curl up on the couch, dump out the building blocks for the 2 year old, and we get lost in a good book. I read a loud to the children and then they have time to read their own books. As the weather warms up, we take our books outside. This allows the 2 year old to romp and play while we can still enjoy our reading time. I can't tell you how many times Jacob and Hope have climbed up into a tree and listened to our books from a comfortable limb! Such is the life of home school students. I have always spent time reading good books a loud to our children. Our soon to be 16 year old still curls up with me when he hears me reading out loud to the younger children. That to me is a wonderful treasure!

grace and peace,