Thursday, July 31, 2008

Enjoying a Day at Biltmore Estates

I was missing today due to a day of fun at the Biltmore. See you tomorrow!!!

grace and peace,

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Enjoying Uncle Robbie

Seth has had a ball these last few days with my brother and his family. He loves being the center of attention so he is in hog heaven so to speak!

If the aunt and uncle are busy, there is always time to spend with the 17 year old GIRL cousin!!

grace and peace,


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Rain Has Come

We are so thankful this year to have evening showers. Last year our drought was terrible. This year we are still in a deficit, but we count each raindrop as a gift from the Lord. Yesterday about supper time the clouds rolled into the sky. As we finished our dessert and coffee, the rain started falling. It stopped for a bit and then right before bed the heavens opened and the rain fell. It was so relaxing...almost like a lullaby. It was a nice sound to hear while falling asleep.
Yesterday also yielded our first ripe tomatoes. We have had a few small tomatoes, but not enough to even say we have had them. I took a basket down to the garden and I came back with tomatoes. I served one of our Cherokee Purples for dinner last night. My brother, who is visiting from Florida, did not eat any. I commented on his passing up the tomatoes, and he said it looked odd. He had never seen one of these tomatoes, and to his credit they do look odd! Maybe before he leaves, he will get another opportunity to eat one of them. He missed his tomato eating window for last night!!!

grace and peace,

Monday, July 28, 2008

Farm Fun

One of the great parts about living on a farm is that you can always find something fun to do. These boys had a ball playing paintball war. While they were out splattering one another with paint balls, our neighbor called to warn me that there were 4 men dressed in camouflage spread out with guns all over our field. (This is the same neighbor that shoots first and asks questions later). I quickly informed her that these boys were ours, and please do not shoot them!!!

I can't count the number of hours that our second son has spent at the farm ponds in our area this summer. Boys gather together to cast their lines into the pond and just hang out enjoying the summer time. Many nights have been filled with teenage boys sitting in a tent camping and laughing the time away. When they aren't sitting in the tent, they are frog gigging at the pond.

There was one night not too long ago that the second son and friends camped on the back of our property. They were sitting around in the makeshift tent enjoying the breeze. All of a sudden about 2:00 a.m. they heard something that sounded like a gun cocking and they were scared. The next thing they heard was the whizzing of paint balls being shot at them and the giggling of boys assaulting the peaceful campers all by the light of the moon. The chase was on and the memories were being made. War has now been declared on oldest son and friend who scared second son and friends. I am sure before the summer comes to a close there will be many more farm memories to tell...
while gathered around the big farm table. Summertime dinners are the perfect time to tell all the happenings of the day and linger while laughing about the memories of the past.

grace and peace,


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday Scripture

"I was glad when they said to me, Let us go into the house of the Lord." Psalm 122:1

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Picking Blueberries For the Farm Kitchen

A few years ago Michael received 17 blueberry bushes for his Christmas present. We planted them and watered them faithfully, but alas they did not live. It really wasn't our fault as the neighbor's cows enjoyed frolicking in our blueberry patch. Until we can get more blueberries established here on our farm, we go to the local organic blueberry farm and pick. For $8 a gallon, we can pick beautiful blueberries until our little hearts are content!
Here is our daughter and our niece. I think this was the first time for Morgan to pick blueberries.
Our children are veteran blueberry pickers seeing how it is my favorite fruit. Truth be told, I like just about all fruits!!
Jacob somehow managed to find a golf ball in the blueberry plants.
We ended up picking 3 gallons of blueberries. We have made 9 pints of blueberry syrup and froze 5 quarts of blueberries for later use. We have all eaten our full share of fresh blueberries. We have until August 12 to pick more. They will be closing at that time until next year. I want to pick at least 3 more gallons to make more syrup. I just hope my kids are all willing!!!

grace and peace,

The Farm Kitchen

Ya'll come on down and enjoy some homemade blueberry pancakes, fresh from the farm eggs and sausage. Oh, don't forget the cup of coffee and homemade blueberry syrup.

After the dishes are washed and put away, it will be time to freeze a few more quart bags of peaches. Those peaches are the base of my fruit salad that I serve over the holidays. I also love cold winter nights with a nice warm peach cobbler directly from the oven.

With so many kitchen projects the last few days, I have gotten behind on the housekeeping. We will be spending the day giving the house a good old fashion cleaning. If there is time and energy left after that, then I would like to head to the garden and see what goodies are available. I am sure several new flower bouquets will be in order for my nice clean rooms.

grace and peace,

Friday, July 25, 2008

Introducing Peter the Great

Peter the Great is a 2 year old Katahdin Ram. He is a beautiful ram with a nice sheeponality. He seems to take great comfort in being in the pasture close to the house where he can enjoy being touched by the children. We have impressed it upon them that although he appears very gentle they must still respect him and keep their distance. The children are no longer allowed in the pasture now that Peter the Great is there. A new fence project is in the works so that we can all enjoy the use of our pasture once again. I did ask Michael to make sure that Peter the Great is still close to the house so that we can reach through the fence to pet him. He seems very content and relaxed. He is a good proven registered ram and I am hoping that we have lots of multiple births from the work of his...well you get the point.
grace and peace,

Farm News Travels Fast

The horse whisperer told the horses..

The horses told the chickens...

The chickens told the cows...

The cows told the dog...

The dog told the rabbit...

The rabbit told the kid with the gun...

The kid with the gun told the sheep....

The sheep are all stressed out and nervous. "What do you mean Peter the Great is here? Did you forget that we aren't exactly sleek and racy at the moment? After all, our babies are just 9 weeks old...and have you seen our hair??? It won't all fall off. We look as if we have a disease!"

grace and peace,


Thursday, July 24, 2008

One Mad Momma

I went to the barn the other day to check for eggs. I was enjoying the time with the animals and I like watching the sheep. I was thinking about the Green Acres Song that says "this is the life for me." I had my harvest basket and I was ready to gather all the beautiful brown eggs that our hens had placed for our family. Yes indeed...this was farm ambiance at its best. I turned my back to walk back across the yard and then it happened. The rooster who obviously had been plotting a terrorism attack against me came after me. He waited until I had my back turned. I have always been a little unsure of roosters, and I was down right scared. I defended myself using my harvest basket as a shield, but I was furious. I was screaming loudly, but NOT ONE of the 5 children that I had carried in my womb even heard me. I was mad at all the kids too!!! I made it in the basement door, and I looked at all the children that were gathered together watching a movie (very loudly I might surround sound). I pointed to the 14 year old and told him that I wanted him to take the gun and go shoot the rooster. I saw a small smile come across his face, but I gave him that know the one mad momma look. He decided it was best not to cross me at the moment. I went upstairs and got a drink of water. I yelled back downstairs that I also wanted my shoes back. In my defending mode, I threw one of my sandals at the rooster. About 15 minutes later, I had collected my thoughts and decided that we shouldn't kill the rooster after all. I went back to the basement to announce that I wasn't thinking clearly earlier and the rooster shouldn't be shot. My 14 year old smiled and said, "Mom, you told me to shoot him and I did." Every child in the house has wanted to get rid of that rooster. He had a mean streak that you never could trust. I would never allow them to do anything about it until he went off on me!!! I felt so bad, but the great rooster killer informed me that the rooster was dangerous. He made me feel better when he reminded me that our 4 year old could have been hurt. Well I think Michael is going to pick up a ram today. I just hope that he doesn't try to attack me or anything because I might get the one mad momma look again and order a kid to shoot the new registered ram!!!

grace and peace,

In the Kitchen

Can you tell what I am going to be doing this morning? I even have some homemade sourdough bread rising in the oven for later in the day to go along with the fruits of my labor.

grace and peace,

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Bit of This and That

After spending much time in the kitchen yesterday, I finally got all the corn mess cleaned up. I am ready to make some peach jam today, but first I must run to town and run some errands. I will also be heading to Pigeon Forge today to pick up my niece who lives in Florida. She is visiting her grandparents, and she will be staying with us for a week. I never had an Aunt or Uncle. Both of my parents were only children. When I became an Aunt, I wanted so much to have a close relationship with my nieces and nephews. Each year I have kept them in the summer to help facilitate that relationship. This will be my first year of actually getting to keep Morgan, my oldest brother's daughter. She is a year younger than our daughter so we are prepared to have some fun girl time.
I went to the garden and cut some sunflowers for our room. They had been sitting there for 3 days when my husband finally noticed them. He asked me if they were our sunflowers and I smiled and said of course. (I think he noticed them before that, but just never said anything about it).

I went to TnFarmGirl's (Cheri) pampered chef party last night, and boy was it ever fun. We had lots of good food, good fellowship, and good products. I walked away purchasing something I never even dreamed I would want. Brandy (the consultant) demonstrated the use of a mandolin that is used to cut veggies into thin or thick pieces. Cheri assured me I would use it for all of our vegetables especially for dehydrating. I was sold. I am looking forward to getting my new toy. It even has a guard on it to keep it from cutting your fingers so my children will be able to use it as well.

Off to town I go...

grace and peace,

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Plans Changed

Yesterday morning I called the farmer that we always buy corn from because I thought it would be about time for him to start picking. Much to my surprise, yesterday was the last day of the first picking. His wife told me that he had a truck load in town, but I could tell her how many dozen I wanted and he would bring it back to me. I ordered 35 dozen. I figured with the few packages that we had left over from last year that would be plenty to get us through. Next year we will be growing our own, but this year we just didn't get to it. I got the corn around 1:30 in the afternoon. That was the beginning of the problem. I am a morning person and the thought of starting that much corn in the afternoon almost made me cry. The second problem was my children. They were already engaged in other activities. One child had spent the night with a friend so there went my corn silker. Two more children were in town at the gym. There went two more hands, and my husband was at work. wasn't turning out like last year's corn day at all. (You can read about our method of putting up corn in July 2007 older posts). Throughout the day, enough kids came home to help shuck all the corn. My daughter did arrive to help wash some of the silks off, but I was left with much of the work. Did I mention that there was some football thing that the older son and next son had to participate in that evening??? I was too busy putting up corn to even take pictures! Well, when all the boys were out shucking together I heard one say something about pictures. Another older son piped up and said, "If she starts taking pictures for that blog, I am OUT of here. I won't shuck another ear of corn." I took him at his word.

After I had finished, I was beginning to think that this was the only clean up crew that I was going to have....

But, my husband showed up in time to throw the cobs out in the woods, wash off the table, sweep up the husks to feed to the cows, and put the corn downstairs into the freezer.

So what does a kitchen look like at 9:00 p.m. after doing corn all day???

Very messy. I left to go take a bath because I had corn stuck to me from head to toe. I still have some kitchen clean up left for me this morning, but since I am a morning person I don't mind it so much today. The good news is that 35 dozen ears of corn yielded 40 quart bags of frozen corn. I also kept out 2 dozen for fresh eating. I know we will all be happy that we did this chore, but for now I am still cleaning up corn in the kitchen!!!

grace and peace,


Monday, July 21, 2008

Baseball Mission Accomplished

Our traveling baseball team won 3rd place in the World Series. They played hard and fought to make it to this level. On Saturday they had to play 3 back to back ballgames in the sweltering heat! This tournament brought a close to our season until next year. They may play a fall tournament, but we will not start back up in full swing until after Christmas.

I enjoyed the baseball year so much, but I am ready for a break. I know football is just around the corner for all three of our boys, but for the next few weeks we will be living sports free!!!! You may be wondering what we will do with all of our free time. Well, let me tell you...there are plenty of things around the house and farm that need our attention! The first thing that Michael will be doing is building a bunk bed unit for Jacob and Seth. Michael hasn't been in his shop in such a long time so we are all looking forward to the sound of saws buzzing and the smell of sawdust! Redoing our bedroom has brought new life to finishing our house. It is so pleasing to have completed our entire room and to be enjoying the fruits of our hands. We are ready to have that sense of accomplishment all throughout the house!

The garden area is in need of some care. I have been weeding like a mad woman, but it still isn't enough. I need to call a "All Hands On Deck" for garden maintenance. I also want to make several trips to the local blueberry farm and pick my favorite fruit. I need to get blueberries in the freezer and also made into syrup. So much to do, but with no baseball there is now time to do it!!! We also have to turn our attention back to our sheep. Michael needs to finish the sheep fence so we can divide the herd. We are looking for a good ram to purchase so we can breed the ewes again. He also needs to decide where he wants to locate pigs. Our pork supply is going fast and we really need to start raising more pigs. Did I mention that we are going to order new layer and meat birds? My honey do list for my husband is growing fast!! Speaking of honey, he needs to check the hives to see if we can extract the honey soon. I best stop there before I overload him. Well, off to the garden I go...

grace and peace,

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday Scripture

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Garden of Weeds

I must be a great gardener because I am growing weeds this year by the bed fulls! I spent my morning weeding the cantaloupes and watermelons. I weeded until it was too hot to weed, and I only finished half the bed. I spent about an hour and a half pulling weeds and killing squash bugs! Now can you get any better than that for Saturday morning enjoyment?
grace and peace,

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Horse Whisperer

Several years ago, we acquired our horses in an odd sort of way. The owner of the horses was moving up north and she needed a place to board them. She didn't have any money so she offered to barter. We were suppose to house the horses for 4 months and in return she would give us the one horse that was best with children. Well, 4 years later we haven't heard anything from her. I think this was her plan all along. I don't know why she was not upfront with us. Perhaps she was worried that we would say no to her request and be left without anywhere to keep the horses. They are sweet animals that had obviously had some training. We haven't been able to really ride them, but supposedly they were use to being ridden. I question that statement, but since I can't ask the previous owner I will always be left wondering. This summer Josh decided to conquer the beast. I don't know for sure what he is telling Sully, but a few minutes after the above picture was taken Josh was putting the saddle on Sully Man.

Not long after he left with the horse, he returned with this! Apparently something had gone terribly wrong with the Horse Whisper's plans. He has ridden Sully several times since. I got so tickled the day that Josh came in the house obviously disgusted. I asked him what was wrong. He informed me that he had Sully down on our dirt road and he was going to ride him to the back pasture. (I was thinking that Little Man had big plans for untrained horse, but I chose to keep my mouth shut). He said that he spent 30 minutes doing doughnuts in the road with the horse. I asked him if he was doing that on purpose and Josh informed me that Sully refused to go straight. That could be a problem if you are planning on riding him very far I noted. Josh never did smile at my humor.

I would love to give Josh and Sully riding lessons. Our lifestyle isn't very conducive to riding horses though. We have already figured out that horses are like toddlers. They can't be left out in the field unattended for long periods of time and then expected to behave well. Josh will be starting school in 3 weeks and football practice has already begun so there isn't a lot of time for him to devote to horse training. I am still thrilled that we have Sully and Violet. While they may never be the riders we had desired, I sure enjoy their presence on the farm. I love to brush them and feed them. I love to watch them run and splash in the pond. I love the sound they make when they are running and the beauty that comes when horses are in an all out race. Somehow it just makes this farm seem more like a farm. They also add protection for our sheep. The sheep woman said that horses are better with sheep than donkeys because they still protect them from coyotes, but they don't want to play with the lambs like donkeys tend to do. Michael was glad that they finally had a real job on the farm. I am just glad they are here.

grace and peace,

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tennessee Summer Fun

We have a beautiful public forest area called Paint Creek. All along the road, a stream meanders throughout the trees. It displays so much of the beauty of Tennessee with the rushing water and the massive rocks nestled up under the canopy of forest. We took the kids to swim in one of the pool areas. There is a small waterfall area that the local people use as a water slide. My children love to slide down the rocks, but for me I don't think that would feel too good on this body. The hard core locals or maybe drunkards climb way up to the top of a huge rock wall and jump into the pool of water. One slip or one mistake could very well cost them their lives. The girls had fun maneuvering the rocks.

As with most mountain streams, it is very cold water. Seth enjoys swimming here a lot, but he always leaves with his teeth chattering. East Tennessee has so many beautiful treasures hidden throughout the area. All it takes is a little time to go explore and see the handiwork of the Lord.
grace and peace,

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Early Morning Thoughts

As I awoke this morning, I found it hard to get my eyes opened and my feet moving. I have gotten into such a bad habit of lounging in the bed until 7:00 a.m. Now that my children are older, I don't feel the need to rush out of bed before 5:00 just so I can have a few hours a day to myself. I do miss my early risings though. I miss the beauty of the morning sky. It is as if the Lord eagerly shares His morning handiwork with anyone ready to see. I also miss the slower start to my days. When I get up early, I feel I have the luxury to be slow in the morning. The key to early rising is early bedtimes. My body is naturally good at this one, but not everybody in my family shares my sentiment. I find that if I am in bed by 10:00 p.m. then I can start early. With teenagers our sleep patterns aren't always the best. We went to bed at 10:00 last night, but at 10:30 our teenagers came through the door. They had been to football practice followed up by a workout at the gym so they wanted to share their day with their dad and I. Why do teenagers only grunt before 10:00p.m., but after that they are ready to pour out their hearts long into the night hours???? I am thankful that my men children want to talk to us so we accommodate our schedules to facilitate that. In the grand scheme of life, getting up at 7:00 a.m. and staying up a bit later to listen to a teenager pour out his heart is worth it.
grace and peace,

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Garden Updates

Our garden is growing a bit strange this summer. Usually by this time in the summer we are harvesting ripe tomatoes, peppers, okra, and many cucumbers. This year we have had a few cucumbers, but not the usual bounty. Our watermelon and cantaloupes are far far away from harvesting. Our tomatoes are beautiful with many green tomatoes, but no red ones in sight. I have the canning itch, but nothing to can. I don't even have peppers as of yet. We planted pretty much on time, but I am not for sure what is up with this year. I am sure the weather has had something to do with it. I know that August and September will be busy canning months so I am just preparing ahead of time for that.

I did clear out half a bed today so that I could plant another batch of bush beans. We planted pole beans about a week ago. I am unsure if they will produce enough beans before cold weather hits. This is a trial. I also want to clear out another spot to plant some more squash and zucchini. I didn't get my fill of either one of those plants this year before they were all murdered by the bugs. I have never planted these late so I will let you know how it turns out.

In a few days, I will head back to the shop to plant some broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage seeds. I am preparing for my fall garden. I still want to see how long we can harvest fresh veggies this year. This too will be another learning experience. Each year I try something new so I guess by the time I am an 80 year old woman I may be able to say that I have the gardening thing down!!

grace and peace,

Monday, July 14, 2008

There's One in Every Family

Our sheep have all had their babies. Well, except for one who never did give birth. Obviously she wasn't pregnant or had a miscarriage. We will give her another time or two in the breeding department to see if she will produce. We are up to 19 sheep. In just a few short weeks, it will be time to separate the lambs from the mamma's and let the milk dry up. I am amazed at how quickly these lambs have grown! They don't even really look like babies any more. We also are on the look out for a good ram because after the lambs are finished nursing, then we will breed the ewes again. In each family, there is always one leader or downright nosey individual. Here is our leader sheep. Her name is Cleo (short for Cleopatra because she has rings around her eyes that look like she is from the Ancient Egyptian time period). She is always the first to come and see what is going on in the backyard. She is very friendly and does not mind being touched.

On apple picking day, you can count on finding her right under the apple tree "helping" the children gather the apples. Our children are use to her, but the children helping us weren't so sure. They liked her, but they didn't want to pick up any apples that she had smelled. They were concerned that they were dirty.
This summer our son has decided to get the horses back into riding condition. As you can see, the sheep are all interested in what is about to take place. Really they were just looking for some free hand outs of food!

Here is Cleo once again with her nose where it doesn't the apple basket!!! She thought it was a grand idea for the children to gather all the apples up in one basket to make eating them easier for her! I truly have enjoyed these sheep. They have become my favorite farm animal, and I am thankful that we have had a chance to add them to our farm.
grace and peace,

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday Scripture

"Blessed is every one who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. When you eat the labor of your hands, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord." Psalm 128:1-4

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Summer Fun

I have a dear friend who lives in Georgia about 3 and half hours away. We have known each other for many years, but we don't get to see each other very often. Three of her children came to the farm for summer fun this week. We have all had a great time. (CaCinda, thanks for sharing your children with me and my family)! Here is a quick recap of our week...

Girls playing in the water hose on a makeshift slip n slide made out of greenhouse plastic.
Boys off to a nearby farm pond for a bit of fishing.
There was plenty of boys eating.

And two girls eating.
This is two OLDER boys playing in the rain on a Tonka truck and tractor. Apparently it is a lot of fun to race down the big hill in the rain and see who can get to the pond first without being shocked by the electric fence. This kind of fun can only be found on a farm!
I think he took a spill or maybe he is stopping for some push ups!
There was water slide fun and swimming pool fun.
While the boys were off seeing a baseball game, the girls worked on craft projects.
There was even camping fun.

Pictures cannot capture all the fun moments that have been shared this week. We have played dominoes and worked puzzles. Toys have been played with and even some time has been spent on the PlayStation and computer. Tomorrow our families will meet half way once again to exchange the children and enjoy a family cook out. Today we will spend some time doing chores. The Lord has sent the rain so for the first time in weeks and weeks our grass needs to be mowed. Many hands make light work so I am sure the tasks will be completed in no time. This past week good memories have been made that will last a life time!
grace and peace,