Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sweet Nothings in the Morning

My husband and I have been having a harder time than usual crawling out of bed in the morning. Perhaps it is because it takes so long for the sun to climb over the mountains here or perhaps it is because there is no time requirement on him from his job. Either way it is causing us to get a late start on our day. This morning I heard the alarm clock chiming at around 6:00 a.m. I promptly hit the snooze...just a bit longer to linger in bed. After all, it is all warm and snugly under the covers. My husband pressed his chin into the back of my head and started whispering in my ear. I was thinking that this was the perfect way to wake up in the lover, my best friend whispering sweet nothings into my ear. Then I heard what his sweet nothings where...he asked me ever so gently, "Do you want corn?" CORN!!! What does that have to do with morsels of love words...unless of course he thinks I am a sheep or worse yet... a pig!!!!!!!

Well, I must say I have had a bit of fun poking at my husband throughout the day. Never in my life have I heard such romantic talk from a man!!!
I can only imagine what words of love he may mutter from his sleep on the morning of our anniversary!!!!
grace and peace,

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

An Afternoon at the Ballet

On Sunday afternoon, Hope and I attended a Christian ballet performance of Sleeping Beauty. Our area is very blessed to have a very talented ballet company. This company does ballets that the owner of the company writes based on Biblical themes and stories. Hope and I try to attend a ballet every year. She enjoys it so very much. She has to endure many sporting events in support of her brothers, and I know she enjoys indulging in some culture upon occasion. We had a girls day out complete with dinner at a restaurant. Our family hardly ever eats out at a restaurant so it is a real treat. The waiter seemed to understand that this was a special day for a 9 year old girl, and he treated her like a special young lady.

Hope still loves playing with dolls, but she also likes being a part of grown up things. She is learning to cook with me. She enjoys gardening, but she prefers to do that in the summer time. She isn't thrilled with planting seeds in the winter! Raising a girl has been a bit more challenging for me than raising boys. I think it is because most girls are more emotional than boys. With boys, they are generally naughty or nice. Girls seem to be different. Many things are dramas even when there isn't a need for a drama. I am not a drama queen so at times this becomes frustrating to me. Hope LOVES to serve her dad. (By the way, I too enjoyed serving my dad. This was the beginning of learning to have a servant's heart in my own life). I encourage her all the time to serve her Daddy even when she would rather do something else. She has stepped into making his lunch for work. He called today and said that Hope packed his lunch, but everything she included needed to be heated with boiling water. He didn't have any boiling water so he didn't eat. He was very cheerful about it and asked me not to say anything to her. She even included him a pack of hot chocolate. He didn't want to hurt her feelings. However, we will address what types of foods are best for his lunch next time BEFORE she sends him off to work!
grace and peace,

Monday, January 28, 2008

Meet the Flock

Here are the new additions to our little farm. These are 10 Hair Sheep all with lambs to be born anywhere from May 23rd to June 21st. Michael did not get home until well after dark with them last night so I wasn't able to really see them. I did stick my hands in the trailer to touch them. After touching them, I am convinced that this is what clouds must feel like. I could have stood there for a very long time just squishing their hair.

The farm that Michael purchased the sheep from was a wealth of information. My husband and children all came home quite impressed with the Border Collie that she used to herd the sheep. Michael said that he enjoyed watching the Border Collie work as much as he enjoys watching bird dogs do their thing. I am sure a Border Collie will be in his future. I told him that we could use our English Mastiff to round up the sheep. He glared at me and said that would look more like a nuclear explosion! Not a pretty picture to think about there!!!

As we learn more, we will be sure to pass on the information. I would like Michael to post about his growing knowledge of sheep. He serenaded me to sleep last night telling me all about sheep breeding and genetics. I drifted off somewhere between the RR factor and the QQ genetic factor.
grace and peace,

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sunday Scripture

"You have set all the borders of the earth. You have made summer and winter."
Psalm 74:17

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Saturday Farm Happenings

Fences are being erected, new electric chargers are being installed, and grounding rods are being placed into the ground. This is the Saturday happenings here on our little slice of heaven. Michael is putting up temporary fencing for our new addition that will be coming tomorrow afternoon. He is fixing our electric fence issues. We have lived here for 4 years and we have never got our electric fence to work properly. I pray that today all of those issues will be solved. He is also closing off the back of our farm to all of our livestock. He wants to do a more intensive grazing rotation that will allow us to close off certain fields for hay production, and to allow the animals to go into the pastures only when we want them there.

We are still in a bit of a quandary. We will be picking up 10 sheep tomorrow afternoon, but we still do not have any area designated just for the sheep. This will make it very difficult to administer medication if needed or even the basic need of feeding them specific minerals and corn. (Remember our horses...they are the big pigs of the pastures)! We are taking this one step at a time. Today it is fences. Tomorrow it will be to bring them here. Sometime soon we can address the other issues. The lady that we are buying the sheep from suggested that we leave our horses in the same pasture as the sheep. She promised us that our horses would protect them from coyotes. (I hope that includes horses who are just lawn ornaments. Hey if she is right, then the horses just found a real job which means Michael won't be wanting to get rid of them every time he buys a new load of hay)! She said that in her past experience donkeys aren't the best to use for protection of sheep because they tend to kill the lambs. In her experience, the donkeys weren't trying to kill the little darlings, but they just tended to play a little too rough for their well being. I still would like to look into some Great Pyrenees Dogs or maybe some sort of herding dogs. That is way off for now seeing as how I don't even have the basics for the sheep yet!

I am sad to say that I will not be around tomorrow to bring home our new additions. I had already purchased tickets to take my daughter to a Christian Ballet. I would so rather be in jeans and work boots getting new sheep, but I know that would greatly disappoint my daughter. So instead I will dress up in nice clothes and get a little culture added to my life. It should be fun, and I know that it will be a great time for our daughter. I am hoping that Jacob will be taking pictures for me of the sheep in my absence. If he does get some good ones, I will post them for all to see.
grace and peace,

Friday, January 25, 2008

A Snow Day in East Tennessee

I was surprised yesterday morning when my husband called from work and said that the County schools were closed due to ice. It was frigid outside and there was water on the roads. Our family home schools our 6th and 4th grader, but our 11th and 8th grader attend the local public school. (That whole topic is another blog all on its own)! When our two oldest boys are out of school, we tend to let the younger two have a break as well. However, Jacob did come and find me so we could work on math and social studies together. Go figure!!!

A typical snow day with snow would look different. However since we didn't have any snow, I decided that a few chores were in order. Of course all outside animals had to be fed. Since the water hoses were frozen, children carried buckets of water out for the pigs. Matthew took some time this morning to finish the water line repair for his dad. Michael wanted to make sure that his repair was going to hold so he didn't fill in the large hole. He covered it with a tarp in hopes it would help it to not freeze. Matthew got to shovel dirt and repair the front yard. He wasn't thrilled with his job in the cold. He isn't a cold weather person. I think he spent one too many summers living in Florida!

After the work was completed, there was time for some fun. We had a competitive game of Shang Hi Rummy that took up several hours in the afternoon. This card game is great and it is challenging. Our 9 year daughter can play it very well, and it is my favorite card game of all. Afterwards, Joshua took some time to play a game on the computer.

As you can imagine with 4 boys and one girl in the house, there was lots of laughing and playing and wrestling.

With all the kids being entertained by each other, I took the time to do some baking. I decided to make a pecan pie. Whenever I make a pie that requires one pie crust, I always make a second crust to freeze. This is a huge time saver for me if I need a nice homemade dessert quickly. While I was rolling out the second crust to put in the freezer, Jacob came in and asked me if I was making his favorite pie. Jacob won't hardly eat any pie except Chess Pie. (Again Go Figure...of all the pies to be the only one he really likes. He is a strange little child)!!! As I was looking for ingredients to make the pecan pie, I realized I didn't have Karo Syrup so I made a quick plan change. I did go ahead and make chess pie for Jacob instead of freezing the extra crust, and I also made a Chocolate Meringue Pie for everybody else. Our chickens are laying well right now so I always enjoy baking when I have plenty of eggs to use.

That just about sums up our untypical snow day. It was fun and a few things got accomplished that was out of the ordinary. It was a good day.

grace and peace,


Thursday, January 24, 2008


When I downloaded our pictures from our camera to our computer, this is what I found. I knew one afternoon recently that Jacob and Seth were playing cowboys. I could hear the laughter rolling up the stairway. Every so often Seth would come upstairs asking me to tie his bandanna around his mouth. It kept falling off with the laughter that exuded from his little being. As I looked at the pictures on the computer screen, my heart was flooded with Thanksgiving to the Lord. We are so blessed that our children enjoy being with one another. My 11 year old and my 3 year old can spend an afternoon playing cowboys together. This touches my heart. When we had Seth, I was bothered by the fact that there were so many years between him and our other children. I was afraid that he would be left out of his siblings lives...almost like an only child. Shortly after Seth's first birthday, I conceived again. We lost that baby. For our family, that was miscarriage number 5. The Lord knew my fears, and He has answered the cry of my heart concerning our youngest child. He isn't like an only child at all. He is surrounded with siblings who spend a great deal amount of time with him. I am thankful to have a home where children's laughter fills the very fiber of our being.

grace and peace,


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Water Leaks and Other Fun Things

My dear husband spent his morning repairing a water leak at our home. After digging a huge hole to locate the leak, he was able to put in a new fitting and fix the leak. I let our English Mastiff out, and her look at Michael's mess was priceless. She had a look on her face as if to say, "Your in big trouble now Mister"! We constantly fuss at her when she digs in the yard, I guess she thought Michael had lost his mind for digging up the front yard!

I have to say I love indoor plumbing! I often think I would have loved to have lived in the days of Little House on the Prairie. However, I truly love turning the valve at the kitchen sink and having running water. I guess I am more spoiled than I would like to admit. I can't tell you how many times I turned the water on and found that nothing came out. I knew the water was turned off, but I guess habits are hard to break. I was very thankful when Michael had our water flowing once again. We spent the day without water so tomorrow will be designated as a cleaning day. I also didn't realize how much I use water to clean!!
grace and peace,

Seeds to Plants...Next Step

Here is a picture of my seeds that have grown into little plants. This is the floating tray that I germinate my seeds in. Each cell is a cone shape which helps the roots to grow stronger.

When my plants are about this size, I transplant them into pots. This is what I did on Saturday afternoon. I transplanted 80 All Seasons Cabbage plants into large pots. I also transplanted 138 broccoli plants. I still have over 200 more cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower plants to transplant. I am out of the smaller size pots so I will need to purchase some more before I can continue to transplant the rest of my plants.
You may be wondering why we grow so many broccoli and cabbage plants. (My husband was wondering the same thing). First, I grow different varieties so I can see which ones I like best. Second, sometimes my seeds don't germinate this well. If I only get half of the seeds to germinate that I planted, then I would still have enough for what I want. Since I have so many plants, I didn't just want to throw them away. I can either plant more than we need and then give away the excess produce or I can give the plants away to someone who is ready to plant in their garden. This all depends on time and space.
My biggest challenge to growing a large amount of plants is the space that I have. I have to go down every 12 hours and rotate my plants. I have 2 levels of grow lights, but I have 3 levels of plants. I just rotate the plants and it works fine. However, it is a bit inconvenient. Michael was intending to build me another shelf like he built last year, but I hate to ask him while he is so busy with everything else. Since I can make do with what I have, I will just work with what is in place. I am sure the extra trips up and down the stairs will do my body good!!!
grace and peace,

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Fun Farm Weekend

Michael has been wanting to purchase sheep. We have spent time researching and learning about the different breeds. On Saturday morning, Michael and a friend were heading out to go to several farms that had sheep for sale. I decided that I wanted to tag along. The first farm was more of a hobby farm that raised exotic animals for petting zoos. Although it was very fun to see all the exotic animals, it was not a place to purchase sheep for our needs.

The next farm we went to was a great educational experience. We showed up unannounced, but they were very gracious to show us around and give us information. The man escorted us into the field that had 30 ewes that were for sale. He said that 28 of the 30 had been bred. I was really wanting to know how he knew which ones had been bred, but I decided that I would ask my husband when we got home. I am tired of opening my mouth and showing my ignorance of farming around experienced farmers. I noticed that all of the ewes had a large spray painted orange mark on their back. I figured that they were marked to designate which ones were for sale. (I was wrong). I saw the ram and he was wearing a harness. It looked like something you would attach a leash to in order to lead him around the pasture. I decided that it would be an appropriate question to ask about the harness. After all, we might need to purchase a harness to lead our ram around the field with too. Once I asked the question, this nice gentleman farmer got that sly grin on his face. Ughh..somehow I had asked a question that showed my complete ignorance of sheep. He told me in a very kind way that it was the marker for the ewes. I was confused and decided that since I had already showed my ignorance I should just go for the whole ball of wax and ask yet another question. I opened my mouth and asked a marker for what???? He then explained sheep breeding to me. (Oh, why didn't I just ask my husband ALL of my questions at home in private)!!! He explained that the harness contains a paint pack. He drew my attention to the color of the pack in the front of the harness. It was the same color as the mark on the ewe. When the ram breeds with the ewe, he also paints her back. This is the way he knew which of the 30 ewes had been bred. I smiled back at the kind man and said well, now you have answered the question that I really wanted to ask.

He and his wife spent time giving us a lot of great information. We will be going back next Saturday to pick up 10 ewes. Yes, according to the large paint spot on their back they should all be pregnant. They are due to lamb in June.

There has been some questions about selling sheep and goats in Tennessee without having a scrapie tag. I asked the sheep farmer about the law, and she told me that the new law says that as long as the sheep are sold for meat before the age of 18 months old the new law doesn't apply. I am still not for sure of all the ends and outs, but it is something that we are investigating. We will keep you posted as we find out more information.

grace and peace,

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Snow Day Fun

It was predicted last night that our area would receive close to 3 inches of snow. I was skeptical, but I kept my eyes on the weather. As the evening time approached, it was a definite we would be getting snow. On our way to a home group meeting, I decided that our children needed gloves. We have had 5 pairs of gloves chewed to bits by our English Mastiff. She has some sort of fondness for thumbs on gloves. This is the reason that we no longer own a complete set of gloves. After church group, our family stopped by Walmart. We purchased 5 pairs of gloves, and 2 cheap plastic sleds. We were armed and ready. On the drive home, the snow was coming down in heaps. I smiled to myself and thought that for the first time in my life I was organized and ready. I wouldn't be spending my morning scrounging up gloves and snow attire!

I woke up this morning to hear the county schools had been cancelled. I was thrilled, and then I looked outside. There wasn't any snow. Well, there was enough to look like some flour had been spilled on the yard, but mostly grass was showing. Well since we didn't have any snow to speak of we spent the morning being lazy. (We all enjoyed that a great deal)! Our family took the snow day and headed to the local YMCA and made it a swim day instead. I have to say that we had a great time, but it sure didn't end up like we all thought it would. After buying 5 pairs of gloves and two plastic sleds, I spent 30 minutes trying to scrounge up a pair of shorts for our 3 year old to swim in. I didn't think his Thomas the Train snow boots would fit the bill for the afternoon!!! (However, he did wear them to YMCA)! I took a picture from last year and posted it with this post because to date we haven't seen enough snow to even take a picture!!!!!! On the bright side, all of our animals' water is still flowing and not frozen.
grace and peace,

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What Would You Have Done?

I have been feeding the animals the last few days. I don't know what made me start this trend, but I found that I love being outside and doing the farm chores. Seth usually goes with me. He is a huge help in gathering eggs. He can crawl in spaces that I never could dream of getting into to gather the eggs. I have to watch him closely because he has no fear of our animals. This is a good thing, but it can cause him to get into situations that could be harmful.

When I started feeding the animals my husband gave me instructions. Actually he gave the same instructions to our oldest son over the weekend. These were his instructions to the letter..."Give each animal one slice of hay". (He also gave other instructions about buckets of grain, but I got all of those right so we need not discuss those for now). We bought a large cube of alfalfa hay and it peels off into slices for easier feeding. I noticed after a few days the animals were VERY happy to see me come to feed them. As my husband and I were talking last night, I mentioned how much hay we had left. He had a shocked look on his face and asked me just how much I was feeding the animals. I recited his instructions back to him just like he said..."I gave each animal one slice of hay". He was still puzzled, and he began to inquire some more of my feeding. After a few minutes of discussion, he asked me exactly how many slices of hay I had put out that day. (Now I am not a math student, but I was beginning to think he was losing his mind. We have 2 horses and 4 cows. That equals 6 animals. I put 6 slices of hay for each animal). He looked at me oddly and asked me if I was joking. I assured him I can do basic math and I knew exactly how many animals were eating hay and I put out one for each animal just like he had instructed. He then started back tracking. He said that he thought that I understood that one for each animal meant one per animal group. I was suppose to be putting out one slice for the horses and one slice for the cows. I told him that was NOT what he said and that I followed the instructions given to me. It was his fault not mine that the animals have now eaten so much hay. He disagreed. Later that night our oldest son was in the room with us. I asked him how much hay he had given the animals over the weekend. Matthew recited the instructions back to me and his dad. "Give each animal one slice of hay". The teenager proved my point well. His Dad's instructions were flawed. By the way, the animals also like seeing our oldest son coming out to feed them! Unfortunately for them, Michael has now cleared up the miscommunication. All good things must come to an end, and that includes extra grub for the farm animals!!!

grace and peace,

Monday, January 14, 2008

Weekend Home Improvements

Michael spent the weekend working on our kitchen. Here you can see that our spice drawers to the left of the stove have now been completed! I can't tell you how excited I am about this. We started renovating the kitchen about 3 years ago. This project has been a huge undertaking, and we are about 80% complete. I guess it has been about a year since Michael has worked on the kitchen. There have been so many other things pulling at his time. (Farm work and building a business are just a few of the latest)! He also finished the tile in the kitchen. When he laid the tile, he did not put it under the stove or the refrigerator. He didn't want to move the appliances on to the freshly laid tile in the kitchen. We were going to wait about a month and come back to finish the job. Well a little over a year has gone by so he decided it was time. Wow, what a difference it makes having the tile under the appliances. He also replaced a broken part on our dishwasher, and it is amazing how much better that cleans. He glued up some more cabinet panels so they will be ready to install as soon as he gets the time. (Lord willing it won't be another year)!! As soon as he installs the new panels, I will start putting on the finish.

We also moved our chickens into the collard green and lettuce bed. They do a fantastic job of cleaning up a garden bed for the next growing season. I am hoping that they will have eaten much of the bug larvae and that we will enjoy less bugs in our garden. Our chickens are laying about a dozen eggs a day now! Yesterday our son gathered 14 eggs so I guess they are happy with their new "home improvements" as well.

grace and peace,

Friday, January 11, 2008

Making a House a Home

I have never thought of myself as a housewife. When filling out forms, I always find it irritating when my "occupation" title is housewife. I am not married to our house. Instead I have always thought of myself as a homemaker. I have noticed over the years that those bubble forms that must be filled out have changed the language to homemaker instead of housewife. Perhaps I am not the only one irritated with their choice of words.

I am not for sure where my thoughts about being a homemaker came from, but I don't think it was from my own mother. My own mother kept an immaculate house. I don't ever remember one time waking up to a messy house. I don't ever remember dishes being in the sink except right after a meal. However, her attitude was one of distaste for homemaking. She was very good at the surface of keeping a home, but her heart wasn't into the home. I always thought that she was a homemaker ONLY because she had no other skills. She just settled for the job because she couldn't do anything better with her life. (I found out after I was married with my own children that my picture of her was wrong. She CHOSE to stay at home and she actually gave up a career to do so).

I know that many of my heart attitudes came from the lady across the street. Her and her husband were more like grandparents to me than neighbors. I loved them dearly and spent many hours in their home. Just watching her interact with her husband showed me something that amazed me as a child. She was well into her 70's and her eyes still danced when she spoke of her Joe. She loved that man dearly and he in turned loved her in a way I had never seen before. When I was a teenager, she would tell me that when I get married to make sure that I never complained about my husband wanting to hunt or fish. Her Joe spent many hours in the woods and she was always thankful that he was there instead out somewhere drinking or womanizing! She told me stories of what life was like during her childhood and raising a family during the depression. She told me life events concerning farming and many other of her childhood memories. While she told me stories, she was teaching me a different way of thinking. Every day when I was walking home from school, her husband would ask me what I had learned that day. I usually replied with "nothing", and he then would tell me what I should be learning. It was this man who quizzed me with my multiplication facts when I was in fourth grade. My own mother taught me to be a good cook, but this lady taught me how to wrap the meals that I prepared with love. She taught me a graciousness about being a homemaker that I had never seen at home.

Last night our family sat down to a late dinner. Everybody was very hungry and ready to dig in to homemade chicken pot pie, cranberry salad, and hot from the oven yeast rolls. It was so late that I didn't want my younger children to have tea so I put a pretty pitcher full of ice water on the table. My two older boys both noticed at different times the pretty pitcher of ice water on the table. They both took the time to comment on how nice it was to have a glass pitcher instead of my usual plastic pitcher. These boys are 16 and 14 years of age, but they notice when I take the time to do the extra little things. My boys love it when I take the time to light candles throughout our home. They notice the beauty of the candle light and it is special to them. I do this often and every person in our home enjoys this simple act. It is a statement to them that I care enough for them to go that extra step.

There are days that I don't feel like putting our home back in order. Today I am frustrated with our children and the way they have been keeping the downstairs. Our oldest son knew it was going to be a problem because he warned me this morning before I went downstairs. He knew I wasn't going to be pleased. When an area of our home looks like our basement does this morning, I have two choices. I can choose to pitch one of my notorious Momma fits complete with steam coming from my ears and loud sighing sounds coming from my mouth. I can choose another path which causes my children to grow in the area of being responsible. I also have to look at myself and see where I have dropped the ball with training the children. I haven't made it a priority the last 2 weeks to keep an eye on the basement. They will keep it up much better if they know that I will be down to inspect their areas. (Remember these are 16, 14, and 11 year old boys occupying this space with a 3 year old added into the mix)! I will be having a loving mother to son talk with each of my boys today. I will hold each and every one of them accountable for the state of the basement. (o.k...I can't really hold the 3 year old accountable, but I can at least make him pick up his dirty clothes)!!

All of these facets are part of homemaking. I don't want to be the maid in my children's world because chances are when they grow up they won't have a maid. I also bet their wives won't want that job title either. However, I do want our home to be a place of order and peace. I want our home to be a place of refreshing from the craziness of our everyday world. I want our home to be permeated with the love of Christ even when everybody isn't acting exactly the way they should. I love dinner time because our family gathers around the farm table and the labor of my hands is enjoyed, but it is so much more than that. Our dinner time is full of conversation and laughter...usually there is much laughter around our table...sometimes more laughter than my ears would like to her. I know that good memories are being made for all in the house. With each day that passes by, I know our house remains a home full of love for each and every one of us.

Being a homemaker isn't being the maid, although it does involve cleaning. It is about a heart attitude... a thankfulness to the Lord for even having a home and family. It involves training the children in proper attitudes as well as pratical applications for every day. It isn't about being June Cleaver of Leave it to Beaver in t.v. land. In her fictional world, everybody was gone while she stayed home cleaning and cooking and making herself pretty. I would rather my family be around me while we work together to make our house a home. (Well, there are some days I would love a grandparent to take ALL the children AND the dog to do something productive AWAY from the house)!! Being a homemaker is about our heart in all that we do for our family. It is a choice that we make everyday.

grace and peace,

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Farm Update

There usually isn't too much activity to report on our farm in January. However, there have been some things happening around here. First for some unknown reason, the chickens decided to start laying eggs again. We really haven't changed much of anything. Our son did take some hay and put it at the bottom of the pen. It might have provided some warmth from the cold. It hasn't been very cold the last few days, but the chickens had already started laying again before the warmer weather arrived. Today Jacob gathered 12 eggs. I have well over 3 dozen eggs in our refrigerator! The fresh eggs make such a difference in all of my baking products. I am always much more likely to bake when I have the fresh eggs.

The seeds that I planted just the other day have already sprouted. I was amazed at how quickly they came up! I still have 2 more trays that haven't germinated yet, but I am sure they will soon. I have the seeds in our bathroom, and I could literally watch them grow every time I stopped in the bathroom. It was amazing to see that in just a few hours time that the tiny little plants would grow. I will be moving 2 trays into the shop to grow under the grow lights. The other two will continue floating in our bathroom until the seeds germinate. From this afternoon until this evening, the little plants had already started leaning into the direction of the bathroom light. I have lost many new seedlings due to the fact that they become leggy growing to the light. This is why we bought the grow lights so we could adjust the height of the light as the plants grew. Leggy plants do not grow good root systems so they will generally die quickly.

While I was preparing dinner this evening, I took a pail of kitchen scraps out to the pigs. I took the time to pay attention to just how much they have grown in the last few weeks. I was amazed at how quickly pigs gain weight. I know they are eating a lot, and they are thrilled with any kitchen scraps that get tossed their way. We don't usually have leftovers for animals. Remember we have 5 kids that like to eat!!!

Speaking of eating... I am also amazed at the amount of hay our animals are eating. We now have 4 cows and 2 horses eating hay. Michael put out $120 worth of hay out and it lasted for one week! Obviously that doesn't fit into our budget so now we are rationing hay to the animals. The horses are the big hogs of the bunch. I don't think they took their noses out of the hay ring during the past week except to go to the pond for a drink of water! This hay shortage has really made an impact on many farms here in our area. We have just a few animals and it has affected us. I can't imagine what it has done for the farmers with many animals. The price of hay has at least doubled from last year's prices. We don't have a tractor or we would have cut our own hay this past year. Perhaps by next year we will have purchased a used tractor!

grace and peace,

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Oh the Weather Outside is Spring Like!!

The last few days have been glorious here in East Tennessee. The temperatures have been into the 60's and the children have wanted to be outside a lot. I enjoyed being down in the shop yesterday planting seeds. I opened the garage door and let all the glorious sunshine pour into the area. I love being outside so I too have enjoyed the last few days. I know that this won't last long so I am soaking up the sunshine every chance I get. I also love winter. I enjoy the slower days of wintertime and I will enjoy that too when it comes back around in just a few days.

I did get my seeds planted. I decided to germinate them in the upstairs bathroom. I am always concerned that the shop will not stay warm enough to germinate seeds. The last few days haven't been a problem, but I am sure colder weather will come in the next few days. My husband wasn't delighted to find containers of seeds floating in the bathtub. I told him just to use the other bathroom and it would be fine. He insisted that the shop was warm enough, and he is probably right. I just wanted to have a little extra precaution. If he grumbles too much, I will move them back to the shop.

grace and peace,

Monday, January 07, 2008

Seed Time for Harvest

Seeds being started in the shop. I float them in trays with water to keep them moist during germination.
Last years seeds after being transplanted into larger containers.
Our Shop "Greenhouse". This is the growing center that Michael built me for about $70.

It is that time once again here on our little farm. I am starting seeds for our late winter/ early spring garden. I have learned that there are a few things that must be overcome when growing under grow lights. First, the plants must be large enough to plant outside. Growing under grow lights is a bit more unsure than growing in a greenhouse. Due to this, I have to factor in a little more growing time for my plants. This is easy by starting the seeds earlier than usual. Secondly, I must make sure that there is plenty of time to hardin off the plants before planting them in the garden. Our growing environment is much different than a greenhouse, and I must take into account that our little plants haven't been outside at all. To hardin off plants, place them outside for a few hours each day. This process takes about a week and the time outside needs to be increased each day. This is a very important step to remember and plan for when growing under grow lights.

This year I am thinking about using hoops over our beds to enable us to plant outside earlier. I want to increase the amount of produce that we grow here on our farm and decrease the amount of food that I must purchase at the grocery store. (We are still harvesting Collard Greens from our garden, but our lettuce has endured one frost too many for this year).

I will be starting Cabbage, Broccoli, Onions, Cauliflower, Spinach, and a few flowers that I want to use on our front porch for spring color. I will also start some different types of lettuce in a few more weeks. Our family loves broccoli so I would like to freeze a lot of this veggie. Michael and I are the only ones to eat cooked cabbage so I only need to freeze enough of that to use in soups and have some to fry upon occasion. However, we all enjoy fresh Cole slaw so I need to plant enough to have Cole slaw and a Cabbage Noodle Salad often. We only like to eat cauliflower fresh so I won't need any of that to freeze. I add cauliflower to our garden salads and I make a wonderful cauliflower salad. Our family also likes to have cauliflower on vegetable platters served with dip. We love having baby spinach in our salads. It is wonderful served fresh, but I must admit I do not like garden spinach cooked. I love spinach out of the grocery store cans, but I could not eat fresh spinach cooked. Michael likes it sauteed with garlic and olive oil. I couldn't even eat it like that. I will stick to fresh spinach salads. I love to make a salad with fresh spinach, pecans or walnuts, and strawberries served with a Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing.

I will post pictures of our plants as they start to grow!

grace and peace,


Friday, January 04, 2008

Off to Feed the Animals

It is COLD here in Tennessee. Jacob is usually more than willing to feed animals for us. He doesn't mind feeding them, but he prefers to wait until he has been fed first. I can live with that. All I have to do is have him a hot breakfast, and then he is happy to dish out the food to the rest of the barnyard. The water to the barn is frozen so that requires us to take pitchers of water out to the pigs for now. We are also switching out the water for chickens daily. I think one of our biggest challenges over the years is how to water animals during the wintertime. It can be a lot of work if the water remains frozen. We purchased two small water containers for the chickens. We keep one at the house and one in the pen. Each day during the winter, we fill up the one at the house and switch it out with the frozen one in the pen. We made sure that the water containers were small so that they would thaw out quickly. This is working quite well.
We did have a dusting of snow the other day. It was beautiful, but not enough to play outside. I would love a wonderful snow this year. We haven't had any real good snows in the last few years, and I miss that. I love sled riding and being outside with the children. But for now, it is time to start my day...
grace and peace,

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Collard Greens

Here is a picture of our collard greens a bit earlier in the year. I finally decided to start harvesting them this past week. I picked an entire grocery bag full of collards. I brought them in the house and soaked them in cold water to remove any dirt. I then took the time to cut the stem out and chop the leaves. This took forever. I was now down to a 5 quart mixing bowl full of collard greens. I then put them on the stove to cook. When it was all said and done, we ended up with a cereal bowl of collard greens to grace our table. I gave Michael and myself a generous spoonful and I gave Jacob a smaller spoonful. He is our only child that likes things like collards. Shortly after the prayer was said, I announced that the chickens could be moved over the collard green bed. I didn't think the collards would be good enough to mess with again. After all, it was a lot of work to get such a small helping of greens. Then I took a bite. I quickly announced that nobody would be moving the chickens into the collards. These greens were the best I had ever eaten in my life. Jacob and Michael both agreed that these were by far the best. I might have even said that they were my favorite vegetable in the entire garden. Lets just say, they were WELL worth the trouble. I have several more meals worth of collards in the garden, but next time I will cook at least 2 grocery store bags full! Maybe then we can all have seconds!

Collard Greens

In an iron skillet, use about 3 Tablespoons bacon grease. Add fresh collards that have stem removed and chopped into bite size pieces. Add about a quart of water, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon sugar. Cook for about 45 minutes on low to medium heat. Add more liquid if necessary during the cooking process. Spoon collards out of liquid into serving bowl. Serve collards with vinegar if desired.

grace and peace,