Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Getting Back On Track has been a hard couple of weeks with the flu running through our household. We are all feeling better, but we are all still dealing with being tired in the evenings. When we were all sick, so many things were left undone. It is amazing how things can be so important until I feel bad, and then I really go for getting the bare minimum completed. I have spent much of this week restoring our house back to order and cleaning things that had been neglected. I am back on track once again, and I am enjoying our household being back on schedule.

We are continuing to make farm plans throughout the winter. We will be ordering our seeds today from Heirloom Acres. I already have some spinach and lettuce seeds left from last year. I will be planting those today in our new growing center in Michael's shop. I am looking forward to seeing how the plants grow under the grow lights. I still would rather have a green house, but I will be happy if we can grow our own plants under the lights.

Michael and the boys have continued work on our fence. They are getting very close to being finished. We want to get our dairy cow from TnFarmGirl soon. I am so excited about the new addition to our farm. I am also wanting to purchase a couple of calves for meat. We are really wanting to reduce our debt, and if we can produce our own food we will be saving more money to put on our debt. When we raised our hogs, we were able to really save on our groceries. The meat was wonderful, and we knew where our food came from. As I have said in the past, I am not a farm girl from birth. It has ALWAYS been my dream to live on a farm, but I was raised in a neighborhood in a small town. I have had a lot to overcome in my new lifestyle. I remember the farm fresh eggs. I LOVED the way they made my baked goods look and taste, but I had a REAL hard time eating them on a plate. I would cover the eggs in ketchup so they wouldn't look so odd to me! Now, I feel that same way about the grocery store eggs. They are so pale compared to what an egg should be. When we raised hogs, I was really concerned about how I would overcome the memory of the pig when it was on my plate. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to overcome this problem and I would just not eat it. However, by raising and butchering 3 hogs at the same time, I didn't know exactly which one I was eating. This helped me a lot. Now we had to put the law down at the dinner table because my boys saw me struggle with this issue, and it was so funny to them. They had named our pigs Napoleon and Petunia and I forgot the 3rd pigs name. When we would come to the table they would wait until I took a bite of pork, and then they would start reminiscing about Napoleon and Petunia. They thought it was so much fun to make me turn green right before their very eyes. Their father had a few chuckles himself over this aversion of mine. However, he finally came to my rescue and forbid any farm memories to be discussed at the dinner table unless we were talking about the vegetables!

Now that you know the real truth about me, I will tell you that we plan on raising 2 cows for meat. We can sell one and slaughter one, and I do not want to know which one is which. I am growing out of a lot of my silly quirks, but until they are all gone this method works for me. We will post pictures of fence repairs and our growing center soon.

grace and peace,

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

We are still alive...I think

I am sorry that it has been so long since we have posted anything. Our entire family (all 7 of us) have the flu. It hasn't been fun to say the least. Take care, and we will be back as soon as we feel better.

grace and peace,

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sunday Happenings

Today has been a relaxed day full of fun, football, and feasting. We are enjoying an extremely warm January here in East Tenn. After dinner today, we all headed out to the back yard with a football, baseball, and bat. It was fun watching the kids play hard and be silly with each other. I sat back and watched the action. Every time I threw a ball, I was laughed at for throwing like a girl. (What do they expect...I am a girl)! We did take a walk around our fence line to decide what needs to be fixed in order to get our cow. We also decided to take our dogs to the pond and see how great our lab puppy would retrieve. Well, let me just say she didn't like the water. Michael threw her into the pond, and she was appalled to say the least. We threw an old shoe in the middle of the pond assuming that she would go get it. The shoe is still there.

Yesterday was so warm that we worked on one of our raised beds. We are planning on putting hoops on the bed and creating a hoop house. We will let you know how it goes later down the road. I had been pricing grow light carts to start my seeds. They were between $700-$800. Wow, that is a lot of money. Michael made a grow stand complete with full spectrum lights. We spent about $75 on the entire thing. He made it out of scrap wood and I am thrilled. I can't wait to start playing in some dirt. I guess I better get my seeds ordered soon!

In my last post I had requested prayer for a major decision that we were facing. We did come to a decision, and we both felt at peace. We REALLY wanted to make a different decision, but we knew it wasn't using wisdom at this time. Thank you for praying for us.

grace and peace,

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Requesting Prayer

I don't have much time right at this moment, but I wanted to ask that as the Lord leads please lift us up in prayer. Michael and I are at a time of a major decision in our life, and we want to be in the Lord's will all the way. We don't want fear to paralyze us, and we don't want to jump out of the frying pan into the fire. We just want to make sure that we are obedient to the Lord. We want to hear his voice clearly so that we can be obedient. I think for most of us we would choose to walk in obedience to the Lord. The question comes when we are listening for His voice,and KNOWING without a shadow of a doubt which direction He wants us to go. When I know that I know that God has spoken something in my life, I find it much easier to walk that out because when times are hard I know I am walking in obedience to His will. However, I want to make sure we are in HIS will, and we are hearing clearly. We are praying for conformation to come. We do not want to be led by our flesh in either direction...we just want to be in the perfect will of the Father.

Thank you in advance. It is wonderful to know that there are faithful Christians that I have never even met, and to know that we do truly pray for one another. Wow, that is a God thing!

grace and peace,

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Happy Husband

This is the face of a happy husband. You may be wondering what he is so happy about. It truly isn't anything outstanding from my point of view, but for him it is a grand moment in time. Yes, he has finally finished cleaning his shop. This is his domain...his sanctuary. Never mind the fact that there is a loving cat who hates the shop owner living in the shop. Never mind that with my sweet pussy cat comes a stinky box that sits in the corner of the shop. Even with this black ball of kitty fur, Michael's shop is clean. I bet it wont be long now that he will be starting back to work on my kitchen cabinets! A clean shop is a great place to work, work, work. Now it is my job to make sure that me and all the children do not pollute his sanctuary once again. Truth be told, I am the chief polluter of the shop. Whenever I do not have a place for an object, I tell a child to put it in Dad's shop. (The cat is a clear example of this habit). I am going to work harder on respecting his space, and keeping him a happy hubby.
We also spent some time this evening cutting our soap that we had made in early December. I think I am going to be very happy with it. We started cutting the soap on an old band saw. However, we quickly found out that a dry wall knife was a much easier tool for the job. We also found out that a tea bag box made a great soap mold. Our son helped cut soap, and he was very excited about our Luscious Lime Bar. He was ready to jump in the shower with a fresh bar of soap. I was very encouraged because this is the son that we have to push to take a shower. Perhaps things are looking up in this area.
grace and peace,

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Saturday Happenings

Things have been slow around here today. I always enjoy the slow days. Oh, don't get me wrong, there are plenty of things that we could be doing today. It just seems that every time I go to start something I get distracted today. I find myself just puttering around instead of really being that go getter that accomplishes many tasks. After Michael's vacation, I realized that I had enjoyed the slower paced days. I still got many things accomplished, but I wasn't racing against a clock. There are days that I feel like I am behind as soon as my feet hit the floor at 6:00a.m. I am reminded of the scripture in Psalm 90..."teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom".

I want to be a good steward of my time and of my days. I love the phrase "SEIZE THE DAY"! I live by that ideology so days like today can be unsettling for me. I also live by the phrase "Enjoy the Journey". Sometimes these two ideas are in contrast to one another, and I am looking to find the balance between the two. I love the days that I combine these ideas and I seize the day while enjoying the journey.

grace and peace,

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Planning for Our Garden

I have been busy lately perusing through our new garden catalogs. I love taking time to read all the descriptions, and to plan for next year's bounty. Every year after I receive the new catalogs in the mail, I spend several hours with pen in hand deciding on the must haves for the upcoming growing season. I have some tried and true favorites that are always in our garden, but I also like experimenting with some new varieties. Michael wants to try and save some our our own seeds this year so we will be growing many heirloom varieties.

One of my desires is to have a greenhouse. I have dreamed of the day when I too could have a oasis from the winter time cold with new seeds growing in my own greenhouse. As I have mentioned in many posts, our winds are horrific here in South Greene. I have lived through hurricanes that have done less damage than the winds here. Michael and I have talked long and hard about selling our farm due to the wind. There are certain things that we just can't have with this kind of wind...trampolines and greenhouses are two things that come to mind. After much prayer and consideration, we both agreed that we love our farm and we will just endure the wind. With this decision also comes the fact that I probably will never have a greenhouse. We have decided to make do with what we have. We are going to build a grow cart to start our plants indoors. We looked at several of these models in the magazines, but they cost well over $700. Now, I am sure we can do better than that if we build it our self! I will keep you posted on this project.

I love planning for our garden, but every year I let time slip through my fingers. Before I know it, I have usually missed the time for seed planting. This year I planted our collard greens WAY too late so we did not get to enjoy the wonderful greens on our table. TnFarmGirl has a wonderful calendar that really helps with this dilemma. She offers it on her website at . It is a calendar that tells you what you should be doing during each month. While looking through my new plant catalogs, I also pulled out her garden calender. What a wealth of information! If I will be diligent to read it, I should not miss any opportunities for planting! By the way she also includes recipes for her salsa (all ingredients from her garden), and my husband's favorite Basil Salad Dressing.

I am looking forward to the next garden season, but I have to admit that I really like the slow time of the winter months. I love reading the garden books while I am all curled up on our couch drinking a nice hot cup of coffee. Often times one of my younger children will curl up with me and start reading too. I enjoy this so VERY much.

grace and peace,

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Fresh Starts and New Apple Trees

For those reading our blog, I hope you've enjoyed Julie's thoughts throughout the holidays. She makes our home a wonderful place to be during the Christmas season. I have not spent much time writing as of late due to my work schedule and my play schedule during my vacation. I hope to spend a bit more time on this for 2007. I feel like the Lord has given me a great deal to share and we feel that we will see great progress on our farm this year.

First, the latest farm happenings have been new fruit trees. Earlier this year we had hoped to plant as many as 15 apple trees this winter, but that was changed to 4 apple trees and a fig tree. There were several reasons for this, but one of the foremost was pacing ourselves. One of the most important lessons we've learned in the past 6 years of building a farm is to not bite off more than we can chew. This has been a significantly hard lesson for me, as I tend to be an all or nothing type person. rather than build up slowly as time and money allow, I want it all done now and I want it big. Having this type of personality during an era of instant gratification makes it doubly hard to pace myself. But, thank God, I am learning the benefit and peacefulness of taking on only what is right for that time in my life.

So, as a result of downscaling our plans, I think we have put ourselves in position to become better stewards of our fruit orchard. Rather than being overwhelmed and having too much to tend to while we are still on a steep learning curve, we have a small amount that we should be able to have great production from. As I said earlier, we added four apple trees. We decided on 4 different heirloom apples that will grow well in our area and that tend to lengthen our harvest season. They also give us a variety of types that will provide us apples for eating, keeping, cooking, cider, sauces and apple butter. First we chose Thomas Jefferson's favorite variety, Esopus Spitzenburg, an excellent eating apple. Next, we chose the Stayman Winesap, an good all around apple, especially for baking and cider making. The third choice was the Myers Royal Limbertwig, a large apple excellent for cider and very successful in our region. And last but not least, the Virginia Beauty, a recommendation from Tim, the owner of The Urban Homestead. For a full description of each of the apple varieties mentioned, follow the link to Tim's website.

As I said the last time we visited the Urban Homestead nursery, we received service that you just almost can't find these days. Tim takes the time to answer all your questions, no matter how naive or advanced. He knows fruit trees and shares his knowledge willingly. It is a place that we look forward to visiting just for the sake of being in such a pleasant place. They operate a wonderful Christian nursery and have a beautiful family. If you live within driving distance or will be in the Bristol VA/TN area, you must call them for a visit. If not in the area, then they will gladly ship trees to you. I don't think you will be disappointed.

After a couple of days of bad weather we did manage to get our trees planted. Jake and Josh dug holes, Seth moved dirt with his Tonka truck while mom and I supervised. Hope helped fill the holes and she helped me prune the new trees as well as the trees we had planted in the spring. Unfortunately, Matt, our oldest son was sick and did not get to help this time. We also pruned on of the two existing June apple trees that were on the farm when we bought it.


Let me say a belated Happy New Year to everyone, I hope that it is a prosperous and joyful year for you all. Though I enjoy all of the holidays that we celebrate including family birthdays, I normally don't place a great deal of significance on the actual day. Many times in our life we have celebrated a given holiday on a different day because of travel plans or work schedules and the emphasis was on the celebration, not the day. But, the one holiday that I find the particular day significant is New Year's Day. This day is a great day for me to make new starts or renew old hopes.

It's a good thing to put an end to some things and being the productive, creative beings that God made us, it's good to be starting new things. I find this day of year perfect for this. Obviously, the rest of the world has a similar idea, but too often the resolutions made are only wishful thinking, as people settle back into their routines following the holidays. My prayer for your families and for ours, is that the those things in our life that we have committed to changing, ending, or starting this year, would be of the Lord, and that we will have the courage and fortitude to bring them to pass.

God bless,