Saturday, April 28, 2007

Hello To All

Wow, I am amazed at how quickly time can get away from me since my last post. All is well here on our beautiful farm. We have been busy doing all the farm things that Spring brings to our chore list. I love this time of year so much! Here is a quick update on the things that we have had our hands to as of lately:

Honey Bees: We were very disappointed this year when Michael checked our 2 hives and found that all of our bees were gone. There were a few dead ones remaining in the hive. We promptly ordered 2 more packages of bees. Upon their arrival, we made up sugar water and placed them in their new home. Michael has checked on them, and the new queens are laying eggs so for the time being we know that all is well there. We have had a lot of trouble with keeping our bees from season to season. Our first attempt at beekeeping came with little bees that did not want to stay home. Every time we turned around it seemed that our bees were swarming!! That lasted for two seasons. We then moved the bees to a new location because we bought a new/old home. The bees continued the swarming mode, but at least some of them were content to stay put. After a year at that location, we once again purchased a new/old home. This is the place that we live now, and it comes complete with wind, wind, and more wind. Our hives have blown over SEVERAL times even though Michael strapped them down with everything known to man. Finally we moved our bees by a neighbor's barn that is located right next to our fence. The bees are on our side of the fence, but we are using his barn as a wind barrier. We would have done this earlier on, but we weren't for sure how our neighbor would feel about this new arrangement. He doesn't live on the property so we felt he wouldn't mind, and we were right about this. Our hives have stayed together this entire windy season!!!

The whole issue with the loss of honey bees in the news has really bothered me lately. I am just as curious as the next person to find out the cause. My mom called the other day and said that she heard Paul Harvey talking about it on his radio show. That particular broadcast suggested cell phones or electrical wires may be causing the problem. I still believe that the Deliberate Agrarian is onto something with his theory of the GMO seeds. Time will tell...

Dairy Cow: Michael and the boys finally finished the fencing so that we could pick up our dairy cow from Tnfarmgirl. She was gracious enough to let Lizzy remain on her property until we could get our fences secured, which took a while. Lizzy has done quite well at her new home. She is a beautiful cow, and I enjoy looking out my kitchen window and seeing her graze in our field. However, she will function as much more than just a lawn ornament. She is scheduled to give birth some time in August so we will also have fresh milk. We have been working with her to get her more gentle for milking. Michael and I were with her the other day, and he wondered out loud if she really was pregnant. (She hasn't been vet checked so we do not have an actual confirmation). I asked him why he was thinking that, and he commented that she wasn't near as big as I was when I was pregnant!! (After almost 20 years of marriage, you would think he would K-N-O-W what not to say,but he was deep in thought). He tried to back peddle and explain that he REALLY meant something lame like "proportionally speaking"!!!! Of course I am still making him pay for his comment on that one, but I did understand his meaning. I am happy to report that since that day, Lizzie is growing a bit broader. I will keep you update on this as it progresses.

Chickens: We installed our new chicken fence which is an electrical netting fence. It is designed to be moved. I can't tell you how happy I am to have our chickens in a large fenced in area that is safe and contained. I so enjoy watching them out my kitchen window too. Sometimes when I am getting stressed, I take a minute to gaze at the chickens. There is something very peaceful about watching them peck and scratch in beautiful lush green grass. They too are much more than just lawn ornaments. We have enjoyed the fresh eggs. At this time, they aren't laying many eggs due to molting. I will be happy when they are back to work once again!

Garden: The garden is perhaps my favorite area of our farm. We have filled our 4 raised beds that we had last year. Michael will be ordering more wood from our local saw mill, and will add 6 more beds to our area. I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed gardening in the raised beds. Right now we have a bed full of all different kinds of lettuces, green onions, and a few broccoli plants. We have another bed full of bush beans that haven't sprouted yet. We have a bed full of an early tomato variety, and another bed with flowers and cabbage. In my make shift green house in the basement, I have squash and zucchini coming out my ears. There are many more tomatoes in the early stages of growth along with enough peppers to supply an army. I also have various stages and variety of flowers growing.

Well, this post has turned into a little longer that expected. I need to wrap it up here, and get to our sons' ballgames. I pray you have a wonderful weekend in your neck of the woods.

grace and peace,

Friday, April 06, 2007

recipe for Chocolate Covered Eggs

Here is the recipe for the eggs that I told you about in yesterday's post. We made these eggs today as a family project. They are VERY messy, but they are fun. The eggs remind me of the old fashioned creme filled eggs that I used to eat when I was young. They are very good, but very sweet. Hope you enjoy. For copyright purposes, I found this recipe on the FoodNetwork website. The recipe is one of Paula Deen's and it came from her show Paula's Home Cooking.

Chocolate Covered Potato Eggs

2 medium potatoes (2 cups total when mashed)
1 stick butter
2 (1 pound) boxes confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups melted chocolate

Boil and mash potatoes, then cool to room temperature. Add butter to potatoes. Mix potatoes, sugar and vanilla. Chill in frig. for 1 hour. The mixture should be the consistency of marzipan. Divide the dough into 16 equal shape pieces and roll into egg shapes. Freeze them for 30 minutes. Dip pieces into melted chocolate to cover, transfer to a rack covered with wax paper for drying. Serve cold. Color coconut with green food coloring to make grass for the chocolate eggs to set on if desired.

grace and peace,

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

He Has Risen INDEED!!

Our family spent many years not celebrating Easter or Christmas due to the fact that the origin of these holidays are pagan. Then one day we realized that we are not celebrating the goddess Ishtar or a make believe santa, but we could enjoy the holiday without worshiping the origin. We could celebrate a holiday AND worship our Lord Jesus Christ as long as our heart was in the right place. (That was a revelation to us and it changed the way our family began to make memories with our children). "To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure..." Titus 1:15. As we were seeking the Lord in this matter, we found the above scripture, and we felt released to enjoy the holiday. Our standard is that we still will not lie to our children and tell them there is a santa or easter bunny or tooth fairy. We don't ever want them to think that if we would lie to them about santa perhaps we would lie to them concerning other issues. With all of this personal background being said, I wanted to share with you some great ways that we have made Easter a special time in our home. As with Christmas, I enjoy doing several projects throughout the week with the kids. It gives us time each day to enjoy a special time of being together. I am still amazed at how much my older boys still enjoy what seems to be childish activities.
Today our project was egg dying. As you can see in the above picture, it can create a mess. My oldest son was saying how much he hated messes, but I reminded him memories were more important than messes. We combined all of our eggs into a wire farm basket. My daughter and I cut some dogwood and redbud stems and attached them to the side of the basket. We now have a beautiful table center piece without much cost at all. The best part is that we all had a hand in putting it together and memories were made. Every spring our neighbor blesses us with goose eggs. We always save them to color, and this year I wrote each child's name on the egg with a crayon. I had them color them, and then I placed them in a pretty dish for display.
When I was sick I was "busy" watching the food network. Paula Dean had a great recipe for chocolate eggs. This will be our project for tomorrow. I will post the recipe later. We will also being tinting coconut green to look like grass for our eggs. I plan on putting our green "grass" and eggs on a pretty yellow plate for display.
In times past I have done elaborate Easter baskets for each child. At other times, we just didn't have the money to spend on such things. One mother of a large family said that they purchase each child a chocolate rabbit. In the middle of the kitchen table, they put together a family candy basket for all to share. She says this helps keep the cost down for her. This year I will put together a basket for each of our children. I like to add candy to their baskets, but I also like to add other small things that don't contain so much sugar. Last year I added silly putty to each basket. I was amazed that my kids had never played with silly putty before. Silly putty was a staple in my childhood! I usually find a coloring book and a small box of crayons to add to the basket. For the older children, I splurge and buy them a magazine of interest such as a hunting or fishing magazine. Last year I used cricket buckets for my 2 older boys' baskets. The baskets turned out great, and they were usable when they went fishing with their Dad. It makes the kids feel special when I take some time to think about each of their likes and put that into their basket. My oldest son really enjoys lifting weights. I am trying to come up with something for his basket using that theme. The true challenge is to do this type of thing while staying on a budget! I have also added playdough and bubble making gadgets in the baskets as extras. Hint: When choosing a basket remember the bigger the basket the more stuff it takes to fill the basket. When I am really watching my budget, I buy smaller basekts and it takes less stuff to fill it.
We also try to get together with another family for Easter dinner. Since we have never lived around any of our family, we enjoy having a large dinner with another family in our community. This adds so much more fun to our celebration time.
And most important of all, I want my children to understand that Easter is a celebration of Jesus. On Saturday night, we will have a time of family communion. We celebrate our communion with a large loaf of fresh baked bread and a bottle of sparkling grape juice. We use risen bread intentionally because for us it is symbolic of the fact that Jesus rose again.
I hope that these ideas will help you think about ways that you can share some special time with your own family. Memories are more important than messes so enjoy some messy time with your own children, and make some wonderful memories that will last a life time.
grace and peace,