Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday Scripture

"The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever".

1 Peter 1:24

Friday, September 28, 2007

Growing Fall Plants

Here are a few early pictures of our fall plants growing. I have cauliflower, cabbage, and a lot of broccoli growing in our shop. I keep water in the trays under the plants to keep them moist. The trays are disposable cookie sheets that I found on sale last year. I am trying to see how much fresh food I can keep growing this fall and winter. We will be adding hoops over our beds this winter. We don't have to worry with those right this moment, but it is on the back burner for a few weeks from now. Our first frost date is around October 15th if my memory serves me correctly.
I am in the process of cleaning up the garden beds that are done producing for this summer. I was surprised to find that my zinnias have kicked it up once again. The plants look horrible, but the flowers are beautiful for cutting purposes. Our tomato plants are still producing tomatoes, much to my surprise.
I haven't had a chance to plan a honey do list for this weekend so I need to get with Michael and check to see what his plans are. I am hoping to get quite a bit done on the farm this weekend. The weather is beautiful, and I am having a hard time staying in the house at all. When I get the bug to be outdoors, I try to get out there as much as possible. I know winter will be here before we blink twice, and I want to enjoy this great weather as much as possible!!!
Hope you have a great farm weekend!!
grace and peace,

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Last week I was speaking with a lady whose husband owns a dairy farm. This woman is around my age, and I felt comfortable asking her personal questions. Of course Michael asked her if they drank their own milk. She made a very disgusted look, and said "NO WAY"! I then asked her if she helped her husband much in the barn. I was hoping that she did so I could then ask if I could come one morning and share in the milking experience. She smiled, and told me the advice that her grandmother gave her right before her wedding day. The advice went something like this: "Don't ever start doing a chore that you don't intend on doing for the rest of your life". She promptly made the decision that she didn't want to commit to barn/milking chores everyday so she doesn't go to the barn with her husband. I have to say I was a bit shocked.

I then had a conversation with another dairy farmer's wife. She is in her late 50's, and I asked her if she helped her husband much with the cows. She said that she did for a short period of time, but the more she did in the barn for him, the more he wanted her to do. She decided quickly that she wasn't having any part of that so she even quit carrying her cell phone so he couldn't reach her to ask for help!

I have to say both of these scenarios puzzled me. First let me say, I do enjoy being outdoors any chance that I can. I know this helps me when I am working with Michael doing farm chores. I find them very pleasant usually. However, for me enjoying the work that I do with Michael isn't my criteria for helping him. I do it because first of all, I want to be his help meet. But it is even more than that...I ENJOY being with him. If I can help him with work, it gives me more time to be with him. Often times I get a double bonus...first, I get to spend time with him while we are working together, but then the chore is done quicker with both of us working together so I get to spend more time with him after the chore is completed. I see it as a WIN WIN situation.

There have been many times in our marriage that I felt like I couldn't help him because I just wasn't qualified to do the job at hand. However, I find if I offer to help him , he is more than willing to teach me the skill. I have been taught to properly sand and finish cabinets. I have learned about laying tile as well as wood floors. I have learned how to paint, and I have learned how to garden all at the hand of my husband. I have learned many skills right along side of my children. I can put together bee hives with the best of them. But you won't find me out with the bees!!

My husband runs a consulting business with a partner. When he started this adventure, I felt for sure that I wouldn't be able to help in any way at all. He assured me that I could learn the computer again. I wasn't so for sure. However, after much teaching I am now becoming a technical writer. I work with him some, and I love being with him. I enjoy knowing and learning more about his business. I find it very rewarding, and I get the double bonus of spending much time with him.

I feel like this is a key to our marriage being successful. We each take time to learn and experience the things that the other person likes or does. I can't imagine being isolated from the things that Michael does. I will admit there are a few things that I do not participate in, but our kids enjoy doing them with him. I don't want to hunt, but I will go shoot guns. We just enjoy being with one another doing long as we are together. I don't want to sit on the sidelines while he goes and does all of the things that life requires. I would much rather be at his side whenever possible.

grace and peace,

grace and peace,

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

My Children Keep Me Humble!!!!!

I love my children to pieces. They are truly a gift from the Lord into my life. God gave us 5 beautiful living children, and I lost 5 babies to miscarriages. I remember the days before our first child was born. I really wondered if we would ever have children. I wanted to be a mother so badly, but I couldn't make it happen. I finally gave the whole issue back to the Lord, and I got to a place that I would trust God even if children were never a part of our life. This was not an easy journey, but I truly decided that I could trust God no matter the outcome.

Michael and I have been parents for 16 1/2 years. I have finally figured out my children!!!! I believe that they have a meeting in the basement and play "Paper, Rocks, Scissors, Shoot" to determine which child is going to drive Michael and/or I crazy on that particular day or week or month. When the "winning" child decides that the heat has been on him or her for too long, the game starts again, and a new child is designated to the job. Let me explain myself. For several months, our oldest son has been the designated one. There have been times that I have been so outdone with him over the last few months. About the time I decided that I am going to shake him until his teeth falls out, then a new person had been chosen. My oldest son came home with a smile on his face, and kissed me with greetings and salutations. You can only imagine my surprise. I did not expect this change, and I was confused. When our third son arrived through the door from ball practice, I expected my sweet loving 10 year old. Oh my...he must have won the latest "Paper, Rock,Scissors,Shoot" match because he now is the grumpy one!!! The saga continues....

I was really pondering this whole point, and I realized that God gave Michael and I children to keep us humble. (I am sure that this isn't the only reason, but it is one of the reasons). About the time I find myself feeling good about the parenting job I am doing, along comes another game of "Paper, Rock,Scissors, Shoot", and one of my little darlings turn into something that I shall not even name!! Everyday, I find myself going to the Lord to get a strategy for these children as well as for myself. Everyday I am humbled, and there is nothing wrong with this. It is good to be humble....even if the children MAKE you that way!!!!! I would rather them make me humble than crazy!!!!!!!

grace and peace,

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sharing a few thoughts from my heart...

I love reading about the Amish and their lifestyle. A friend of mine shared an Amish collection of books with me, and I devoured each and every one. However, one day I finished a book and I found myself feeling sad and discontented. After a time of reflection, I realized that I longed for the life style of the Amish. Let me pause for a moment, I do not want to embrace many of the Amish beliefs. However, I am quite enchanted with their simple life. I know in my heart of hearts it isn't truly simple, but just different than what I experience.

I heard a friend say one time that the grass isn't greener on the other side...just different. I thought about that for a moment. Our calf still likes our neighbor's grass better than ours, but that doesn't mean the grass is better or greener. I could spend a lot of time wishing that things in my life were different. For example, I sometimes wish my children didn't participate in sporting events. I don't see anything wrong with healthy competition so it isn't a problem of conviction, but instead it is a problem of time. I know without a shadow of a doubt that if we didn't attend sporting events of 4 children that we would have an abundance of time to give to this farm. On the other end of the spectrum, I am thankful for what sports have brought into our children's lives. I believe that in 2 of our kids imparticular, that sports have helped create much character in their lives. For our third son, sports has been a wonderful growing experience that brought him out of his shell.

I sometimes find myself wishing for a different know one more like the Amish style home. I would love to live in a home with that much ambiance. On the other hand, I sure do enjoy my fresh ground coffee brewed in my electric coffee pot! I also enjoy the air conditioner on a nice summer day. When we first moved to Tennessee, we rented a cabin that had a wood stove for heat. It was all fun and games until the fire went out. You see, I could keep the home fires burning (usually), but I couldn't ever start a fire from scratch. The novelty of heating with a wood stove wore off real quick. The mornings were unbearably cold. We spent a lot of time huddled in the living room in front of the wood stove trying to stay warm.

One day I came to the realization that I could spend my life wishing for some other pasture to eat from, but I would rather spend my life enjoying the pasture God gave to me. I am so thankful for all that God has done in my life. I still would love a community like the Amish share, but I am so thankful for the family that God has placed me into. I have a husband that is more wonderful than words could express. He is a Godly man that protects me as if I were his most valuable treasure. He is a wonderful father to our children. I am so very blessed.... so today I want to enjoy the journey that God has given to me. I want to enjoy the grass in my pasture...not the grass in the neighbor's pasture. After all, once the calf has eaten from the neighbor's pasture long enough, she realizes it is just grass. Then she is forced to look for another pasture that might have greener grass than the previous pasture. I don't want to be like the calf that moves from one pasture to another eating the same grass, but wishing it were different.
grace and peace,

Monday, September 24, 2007

Dancing with the English Mastiff

When my brother was in town a few months ago, he wanted to get a picture of how tall our mastiff really is. He wanted to send it to his step son who has always wanted an English Mastiff. What you need to know to really appreciate this picture, is that my brother is close to 6 1/2 ft tall! Missy sure enjoyed the playtime that he provided.
On another dog note...Missy went to the vet to get spayed. We had considered breeding her to sell her puppies. (English Mastiff puppies can be quite costly. Unless of course the breeder just wants to get RID OF any extra puppies and makes you a deal you can't refuse, as in the case with our acquiring an English Mastiff). We also found out to get a good stud dog would cost between $1800-$2000 up front!!! I quickly made a phone call to the vet because we weren't about to pay that much money to breed a dog! After being at the vet for surgery, Missy came home with a horrible hot spot on her back. She is allergic to fleas, and if she comes in contact with them she will chew herself up. My mom told me about a hot spot remedy that she saw in the DogWorld Magazine. I tried it, and it is working. She is much better now.
Hot Spot Remedy for Dogs
In a clean spray bottle use equal parts Original Listerine, Baby Oil, and Water. Shake well and spray the dog's hot spot often.
Simple and can't beat that!!
We had a nice weekend. When time permits, I will give updates on the pig pen, farm chores, and plants in the make shift greenhouse. We still need to extract honey. I am hoping that will be done in the next week.
grace and peace,

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sunday Scripture

"To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven."
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Friday, September 21, 2007

Birthday Moment

Our only daughter is celebrating her 9th birthday today. Here is a picture of our girl helping me make Pickled Green Tomatoes.
Before she was ever born, I almost lost her. I went to bed to rest, and had a wonderful dream. God showed up in my dream and I knew that all would be well. When I awoke from my nap, I was filled with much hope and peace. We named our precious baby girl Hope Shalom as a reminder of the Lord's goodness and faithfulness.
Hope means confident expectation of good, and Shalom means peace. (If our last baby had been a girl I was going to name her Faith Charise. However, God sent us a boy and Faith just didn't seem to fit. We named him Seth, which means appointed one. I figured God knew we already had 3 boys and only 1 girl, but he appointed Seth into our family anyway)!
We will be having a family celebration this evening, and of course we included one of her little friends to join in the fun. She had the funniest birthday request I have ever heard. My husband said, "Only a girl child would come up with that! We have a little trailer that hooks on the lawnmower to use as a little cart for odd jobs. Hope suggested that her brother's make her a float using the cart, and pull her around on the evening of her birthday!! She thought that would be a fun moment in time, and it would make a great birthday present. If this gift comes to pass, I will be sure to post pictures later, but don't hold your breath!!!
grace and peace,

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Lizzie and Isabell

Here is a recent picture of our momma cow and her baby. This calf still isn't staying home very well. Michael has put much effort into securing our fences, but she always finds a way to escape to the neighbor's farm. She comes home when it is time to drink some milk. I am getting ready to order my supplies for milking so maybe we will be ready to milk soon.
Michael and I were talking with a couple that owned a dairy farm. Michael asked the wife if they drank the raw milk. She made an awful face and said "NO"! I found that to be odd. Many of the dairy farmers around here won't drink their own milk. That gave me food for thought. To be honest, I haven't met one dairy farmer that consumes his/her own farm's product. Of course, I haven't met every dairy farmer here in our county, but still I have chatted with quite a few of them. They look at us like we have 2 heads when we mention milking and DRINKING our own cow's milk.
grace and peace,

Monday, September 17, 2007

Many Hands Make Light Work

One of my favorite sayings is "Many Hands Make Light Work". I have raised our children by this motto. When people say "oh, you have so many kids", my response back is "Many hands make light work". I can see many people pondering this statement. This weekend we all pitched in and made quick work of the garden area. I took a few pictures of our eager helpers. Well, the Mastiff wasn't really helping do anything. She was just enjoying the shade from the Okra plants. I just liked the picture because at least she was behaving herself. When we all work together, it gives us time to visit with one another as well as teach and train. When there is a million and one weeds that need to be pulled, there is plenty of time for a little girl to share ALL that is in her thoughts while she is helping to pull all those weeds!! I probably have taught more Bible truths in the garden than anywhere else. The kids can actually see the lessons right before their very eyes. This makes for a great impact later on when they need to be reminded to pull the weeds in their own heart before they take root! The garden is my place of solitude, but it is also a place of fellowship for me. My kids would rather we fellowship elsewhere, but for the most part they are willing hands to help make the work a bit lighter.
grace and peace,

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Garden Goodies

We have had a busy weekend. One word sums it up nicely...."Football"! We have spent much time watching our children play ball this weekend. However, we also have found some time to spend in the garden and even working on the hog pen. Here are the okra plants that are now in abundance in our garden. I also snapped a picture of our new bed of green beans. The red things in the background of this picture are the flowers in the neighboring bed. I have canned 8 quarts of green beans and 4 pints and 4 quarts of Pickled Green Tomatoes over the weekend. I also have frozen 5 quarts of green peppers and Anaheim Chili Peppers. I still have enough green tomatoes left for a large batch of fried green tomatoes as well as probably 2 more batches of Pickled Green Tomatoes. I think our regular tomatoes are finished for the season. We are still getting red tomatoes to eat out of hand, but the abundance is no longer there. I heard my husband say something about doubling our tomato production next year. (Now is not the time to share those thoughts with me. I am still tired of canning tomatoes and sauce. It was nice to can green beans because they are not nearly as messy)! Michael and the boys tilled up the watermelon bed and added more dirt/compost. I will be planting lettuce later this week in that bed. I want them to till up the Roma tomato bed next. The plants still look nice, but there won't be enough time to produce new tomatoes before the cold weather comes. We ended our weekend with a makeshift bond fire complete with a game of hide n seek for the children.

I am starting to really get in the mood for fall. This morning it was cool enough to have a jacket on outside. I was at the grocery store buying extra milk the other afternoon and I caved into a spur of the moment purchase. I bought 3 pots of mums for our front porch. I love fall flowers!!! I am always a sucker for fall flowers. I am also a sucker for fall food. To go with my fall mood, today I made pumpkin pie and whip cream for our family dessert.

grace and peace,


Sunday Scripture

"The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; The God of my strength in whom I will trust."
2 Samuel 22:2-3

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Friday Night Football

Our oldest son played football last night. Michael and I went to watch the game, and I saw an awesome sight. Early on in the game, one of our players went down on the field. His best friend was under him, and the player on top did not get up. The player on top has had a horrible year chocked full of injuries. The player on the bottom was finally freed by the paramedics, but the player on top layed lifeless on the field. In high school football in our area, if a player gets hurt both teams goes to their sideline and everybody takes a knee. When the player on bottom came back to our sideline, he was crying hard. He called the entire football team to come together in a huddle formation to pray for our injured player. Our entire public high school football team made a huddle on the field on their knees with their arms on the next ones shoulders, and bowed to pray for their team mate. It was an awesome sight. The boy that was hurt was knocked unconscious. His nose was bleeding and his face mask was completely flattened by the impact. He was o.k., but of course he did not get to play the rest of the game, much to his disappointment. I truly wish I had a picture of that ball team praying for their teammate. I would love to frame it and hang it in our son's room. It was a wonderful moment in time watching our team cry out to God on behalf of a friend.
grace and peace,

Friday, September 14, 2007

Green Tomato Side Dish Recipe

My mom gave me a recipe for Pickled Green Tomatoes. She told me that it really isn't a relish, but more like a side dish that I just HAD to try. In fact,she guaranteed that I would like it. I decided to make several batches of it even though it didn't sound all that great. I also decided that if we didn't like it, I would include the jars that I made as part of her Christmas gifts this year. Yesterday, I mad a pot of Pinto Beans and I opened our first jar of Pickled Green Tomatoes. Michael and I BOTH loved it. I haven't shared the recipe up until now because I don't like to share recipes that I haven't tried myself. I don't think of these as "Pickles", but I think of them as truly a side dish to a meal. In Ky, one of the local fish restaurants serves this dish with the platter of fish. I loved them with beans, and my mom says they go great with any meat. On top of our thing to do list for this weekend, will be to gather more green tomatoes and peppers!!! I will be making SEVERAL more batches of this recipe over the weekend.

Pickled Green Tomatoes
8 cups chopped green tomatoes
2 large onions chopped
2 Hot peppers chopped fine
2 green peppers chopped
2 Tablespoons Canning Salt

Cover above ingredients with water. Let set for 2 hours. Drain.
In a large stock pot stir together:
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups Apple Cider Vinegar
1 teaspoon Celery Seed
1 Tablespoon Mustard Seed
Add Drained Tomatoes to above brine. Heat until boiling. Once boiling, Boil for 3 minutes. Have jars hot and lids hot so they will seal. Place tomatoes in pint or quart jars. Make sure they seal for extended storage. ( yields approximately 3- 4 pints)

When I made this recipe, I used small green tomatoes and I quartered the tomatoes. I chopped my onions and peppers like I would for tomato sauce. I also switched out green peppers for red peppers. I had them in the garden, and I thought they were pretty with the green tomatoes. I hope you enjoy!

grace and peace,

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Farm Happenings

The air is starting to feel different here in East Tennessee. I went out this morning before dawn to let our dog out, and it was chilly. Last night while we were in the garden, I noticed a slight chill in the air. I love fall so much, and I love the change of seasons. I find that as the seasons change, our dinner menus change as well. Last night I made Baked chicken and dressing, sweet potato casserole, and garden green beans. It was a nice change of pace from our summer menu.
The chickens are enjoying the cooler weather too. Michael gathered 9 eggs yesterday. This is much better than the 2 eggs that we gathered the entire month of August!
Work continues on the hog pen. Michael will be doing some work on the barn to house the hogs. Our barn needs so much attention so I am looking forward to it getting a bit of a clean up as well as a fix up. Our neighbor stopped by yesterday. This is the same neighbor that offered us a cow for a good price. The calf was suppose to be born sometime in the next 3 months, but they found out the little thing was born yesterday. They couldn't find it yesterday evening so we will look for it today. I pray all is well with the little thing because the deal is even better with 2 cows for the price of one! We considered trading our jersey calf that was born in June, but we decided that for now we will keep her. (I am getting weary with her escapes)! Michael has fixed the fence so many times, but she always finds a place to slip through. Her mother has become a very calm cow. She comes to us now when we are in the field. Our goal is to milk her, but our barn needs so much work. Michael did work with her some yesterday, and she was fine with him going over her milk sac. I think she will allow us to milk her now. She has come along way since June when we couldn't even get near her. We will need to purchase milking supplies soon, and I am excited about this update.
grace and peace,

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Progress Being Made

The last few days have brought about unexpected farm progress. My husband decided to start the pig pen that we have wanted since July. He will complete it soon, and we should be getting pigs in the next week or two. I am very excited about this new event in on our farm.

I was out talking with Michael while he was wiring up the pig pen this evening. The weather is beautiful here, and it feels like fall may very well be in the air. On the way back to the house, I stopped in Michael's shop to water my plants. I saw the potting soil, and I decided it was a nice time to start repotting plants. I spent the next hour repotting plants while visiting with my hubby and children. I still have A LOT of broccoli plants left to repot, but I finished up the cauliflower and cabbage plants. Progress was made!

Tomorrow I will be back to canning. I probably have enough tomatoes to can, but I am wondering if I REALLY want to do that again. Our green beans are now coming in strong, and I know I will have at least a full canner of green beans to process. I need to rearrange my schedule so that I can spend a whole day in the kitchen to catch up on my canning, but I can't do that tomorrow.

Our neighbor also stopped by the other evening wanting to know if we wanted to purchase/trade cows. He heard we were looking for a beef cow, and he has one that will calf in the next 3 months. He offered us a good price, and now we will need to decide what we want to do. I'll keep you posted. I would be thrilled to add a beef cow to our farm!

grace and peace,

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

Well, our weekend didn't turn out quite the way I expected. Not that it was bad or anything just different from my expectations. Michael needed some time to relax and play. I on the other hand had a "honey do list" the size of Texas. As you can imagine, each of our wants and desires were on the opposite ends of the spectrum. I decided to submit to my husband's wants and needs and just go with the flow. We had a nice weekend with some production accomplished. We did not extract honey, but Michael did glance at the hives. He was very encouraged with what he saw. The front porches of the hives were covered in bees. This is a good sign. The honey extraction can wait a little longer. In fact, it may be good to let it wait a while.

I did get some canning done. I canned 6 more pints and 1 more quart of tomato sauce. Plus I tried a new recipe for Pickled Green Tomatoes. It is a side dish served with fish or beans. I am looking forward to trying it. My mom said they were wonderful so I figured if we don't like them then I could package the rest up as part of her Christmas present!

We picked green beans this weekend which was the big surprise for me. I didn't think they would be ready quite yet. That is the fun thing about just never know what to expect. Our peppers are coming out of our ears. I have been busy freezing these for winter time use. We picked all of our watermelons today. They taste wonderful, but they are smaller than I expected. The okra is coming on strong. Yesterday we had chicken strips, mashed potatoes and gravy, fried okra, fried green tomatoes, and homemade biscuits for supper. And yes, we all washed it down with sweet tea! (Maybe that's why I am always walking the loop and never losing any weight)!

I weeded the bed of peas with our son. We had a nice time chatting while getting chores done. My big disappointment for the garden this weekend was that I wanted to till up the beds that we were done with so I could start planting fall crops. I also had wanted to transplant my baby seed/plants into bigger pots in the basement greenhouse. I guess I can move that all to next weekend. It really wasn't that pressing just something I had hoped to get done.

We ended up going back to the mountain stream for a playtime on Saturday afternoon. This was Michael's idea and you can well imagine that the children were thrilled. We had a wonderful time, and I enjoyed getting back up into the mountains very much.

On Friday evening, our second born son decided that he and a friend would go camping on our neighbor's farm. They asked permission from our neighbor and were granted permission. They quickly got their gear ready. I asked them what they were taking. From my perspective, it didn't look like much. I asked about the tent. I was informed by these two 13 year old boys that men didn't need to sleep in a tent. I then asked about sleeping bags...again real men didn't need sleeping bags. They were going to pile some pine branches up and make a bed. (I was thrilled that I wasn't camping with these "real men". I asked about food. They informed me that they would be catching their supper and cooking it over the fire. (Now, I was REALLY glad I wasn't camping with them)! They set off with Michael's sea bag filled with a tarp. (There wasn't any rain in the forecast. I personally would have chosen the sleeping bag over the tarp, but again I am not a "real man"). About 10:30 p.m., the phone rang. Joshua announced that they were headed home. I asked what was wrong. At this point, I was afraid that the real men had set the neighbor's woods on fire. They assured me all was well, but "it was H-A-R-D roughing it"!! They were hungry, tired, and wanted a bed. They came back home, ate a bite, and went to our pond to frog gig instead. Then they tucked themselves into a nice soft bed in the nice cool house. My new names for these two boys are Boone and Crockett. By the end of the weekend, they were responding to their new names well!

grace and peace,

Sunday Scripture

..."'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness'. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me".
2 Corinthians 12:9

Friday, September 07, 2007

Honey Do List for the Weekend

I have spent a little bit of time planning our weekend work schedule. I find if we have a bit of a plan to work from, things generally go better. I am hoping that perhaps this will be the weekend to extract honey. He had mentioned that earlier this week so I added it to his "honey do list". I also want to empty the tomato beds if at all possible. I am sure I will be canning tomatoes or sauce or something red this weekend. I have run out of quart jars. I have never filled all of my quart jars before. I am amazed. I noticed the new bed of green beans are coming in now. We will probably pick green beans by the first of the week. I will have to purchase more quart jars for this event. I don't mind. Since it is the last of the canning season, I am hoping to find them on sale. Speaking of canning jars, TnFarmgirl turned me on to 1/2 gallon mason jars. I had never seen this size jars in the past. They are wonderful to have for many different uses. TnFarmgirl uses them to put her fresh milk in. We use them to store our honey in. I also use them to store our wheat berries, and homemade granola when I make it. These jars are somewhat hard to find so keep your eyes out for them. I will buy any extra that I can find because I use them that much. I also will be using these jars to store our milk when we start milking Lizzie. Just thought I would pass this information along. Hope you have a great weekend and good production of your time.
grace and peace,

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Tennessee Fun

Here are some pictures of our Labor Day outing. We took a little time off work to splash in God's "swimming pool", and enjoy the beauty of the Tennessee mountains. Sometimes it is hard to take time off from work, or even the garden. There is such a balance between work and fun, and Michael and I struggle to find that balance at times. We so want to build the farm up, but not at the sacrifice of our family. We do not want to raise our children to hate the very life that we hold so dear to us. If the farm becomes nothing but work, our children will resent it and want to remove themselves from it. However, if play is the only thing our children know, then we have not done our job as parents. They need to learn early on the balance between work and play. I know I enjoyed the play day very much. I heard talk about a camping trip coming soon for our family!!!
grace and peace,

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Canning Wants and Needs

I have spent a lot of time this summer canning our garden produce. I enjoy canning, and I am thankful that I have the ability and knowledge to put up our own food. Growing up, I never saw my mom can. I know she did can, but she waited until we were outside to do so. We did help her put up corn. This was always a big day at our home. I enjoyed it every year. When we moved to Tennessee we started our first canning endeavors. We bought a canner, and Michael started reading the directions. I had heard horror stories of the past so I was a bit scared of this huge pot. Michael and I spent that first summer canning together. He taught me the canning process, and in turn I taught him about cooking. These are fond memories for me. Now almost 7 years later, I am chief canner in our home. I am no longer scared of the large canner that has permanent residency on our stove during the summer months. As with anything in life, canning brings needs and wants. For example, I want to have 2 canners. It would make my canning day go so much faster if I had 2 canners operating at the same time. This would save so much time for me. This isn't a true need in my life, but it is a valid want. However, this year I have discovered a true need in the canning department. I need another large pot. I have a large stainless steel pot that I use to make my sauce or cook the beans or tomatoes. I have been caught so many times this year needing another pot. I have had to pour tomato sauce that isn't ready into other containers so I could use the pot to make supper. After supper, I would wash the pot and continue cooking the sauce. This is crazy. I haven't had this issue in the past because I haven't canned as much as I have this year. Before next canning season, I will purchase another large pot. I see this one desire as a true need worthy of money being spent on it. The extra canner idea is just a desire, but I will not purchase that one at this time.
grace and peace,

Monday, September 03, 2007

Garden Goals and Updates

We have had a wonderful garden season this year. I am very thankful for this because the late freeze and summer drought has left our apple trees with no apples and our bees with little honey. Local fruit has been very expensive due to the freeze, and the local blueberry crops didn't produce anything. I know the key to our garden success this year has been the raised beds. We were able to control the amount of water our plants received even though we have had little rain. (Our water bill has been sizable)! We also have not had to deal with bugs like we have in times past. I believe the late frost did something to the bug population. We only had a few Japanese Beetles. The ones we did have enjoyed the Zinnias and the Marigolds and the Basil plants. They pretty much stayed away from my produce plants.
Every year my garden goal is to put as much of the produce up in the pantry and freezer as possible. This means much canning and freezing on my part. I have always thought this was the main goal for my summer in the garden department. This year I had an epiphany. I want to see how long we can keep fresh produce going in our garden. We so enjoyed the fresh lettuce this year until the August heat came and the lettuce turned bitter. I talked with Michael about my thoughts. He told me that he could construct hoops to go over our beds during the winter months. This would promote a longer garden season. With the hoops, I think for much of the year we can grow many different veggies. I have started a ton of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and onion seeds in the shop. I plan to make another planting of these items soon so we can have a succession of plants. My main concern about these hoops is our wind. After all, 2 of the largest trampolines have blown away during 2 different winds at our home. (One was even strapped down)! I am sure Michael will come up with something!?!
This week we will be tilling up some of our summer garden beds. My flowers are looking very tired. I am having a hard time finding ones to cut to make bouquets now. Before he tills the flowers, I will cut all the pretty ones and make as many bouquets as possible. My mom has a recipe for a green tomato relish that she likes a lot. I will be picking the green tomatoes out of the Rutger tomatoes and use them for that recipe. These plants are almost finished producing, and I don't want to keep wasting the space for plants that are tired. The Romas are slowing dying down too. I will let the ones turn red that are on the vines then these plants will be tilled under too. They have been heavy producers this year. Our other bed of tomatoes are still producing enough tomatoes to eat out of hand. We will leave this bed for now, but I am sure they are not long for this world. The cucumber bed needs to be taken apart. I believe the watermelons will be finished in the next week or two, and that will give us another bed to clean up for fall use. We have beautiful pepper plants that still have a lot of life, and our okra is just now getting good and started. We will have okra until frost this year. We also planted a second bed of green beans which are covered in blooms. We will have green beans until the frost comes as well this year. We planted an entire bed full of peas a few weeks ago, but the peas came up spotty. I am going down today to plant some more peas in that bed.
I will keep you up to date on our fall garden. This is truly a new experience for us. I am planning a post on this year's garden failures and what I plan to do about it next year as well as a post about our growing pantry. I also keep a garden wish list and new things I would like to try for next year. I will share those with you as time permits.
grace and peace,

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Sunday Scripture

"Behold He is coming with clouds and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so. Amen. I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, says the Lord, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty" Revelation 1:7-8

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Dove Hunting Tradition

As many of you know, today is opening day of Dove Season here in East Tenn. This day has become a tradition of sorts in our family. Michael loads the children up and heads to the local dove fields. Even our daughter participates in the hunt. She is too young to hunt, but that doesn't stop her from participating. If your under 10 in our home, then you are the designated retriever. (I think some families actually have a dog for this job, but our Mastiff wouldn't want to actually work for her dinner)! The other boys all have guns. Now this is a walk of faith for me. I know our children have had good gun safety drilled into their heads, but they are just kids. I choose to let Michael deal with all of this...I'll just stay home and can some more tomatoes. That should be safe enough!!! The kids and Dad look forward to this day so much. It is the beginning of fall in our home. Next on the agenda will be fall football games, evening bonfires, and planting fall gardens. I am ready for the change of season. Maybe today's dinner will be grilled dove breast wrapped in bacon, but just in case that doesn't work out I am putting on a pot of chili. Hunters are hungry even if they don't catch anything for dinner!!!!
grace and peace,