Saturday, February 28, 2009

An Unusual Saturday on the Farm

Michael has worked long hours this past few weeks. He was in need of some rest. We knew the weather was due to be cold and rainy so we decided to make this weekend a relaxed one. We enjoyed coffee this morning and did some farm planning. We placed our chicken order. We did run into some snags. First, the hatchery that we have always used in the past was out of chickens. The first available date to get our chickens was May 9th. We knew this was too late because it would be in November when they would start laying eggs. We checked several other hatcheries and they too were all out of chickens. We finally found one that had what we wanted and placed our order. We ended up purchasing 50 meat birds and 30 layers. (Jerry R. you will get your 12 chickens soon, my friend)! They are due to arrive sometime next week. We almost ordered turkeys. We were going to try 5 turkeys to see if they were good, but the hatchery would only let us order in quantities of 15. That is a lot of turkeys even for our family. We decided to wait a bit on the turkey order.

After spending some time planning, I decided to drag out the sewing machine and see if I could do some practice runs. I have identified my problem with sewing. I can't measure properly. Michael spent a lot of time showing me how to measure. I guess I was sleeping during math class many years ago! He reminded me that he is a woodworker and sewing is the same except you are working with cloth instead of wood. Makes sense to me...I was just thankful that I had his help. After a few hours of work, I finally made a square that I was satisfied with for my quilt.

I took my time and didn't feel pressured like I did at the sewing class. I actually enjoyed the time spent today. I wasn't near as stressed as I had been last week. I didn't even need Tylenol! I did go hunt a pair of reading glasses and that made it easier too. It does help when you can see what you are doing. And the best part??? I didn't even cut my hand! See, I told you we had a good day.
grace and peace,

Friday, February 27, 2009

Sausage Lentil Soup

This soup is one of our family favorites. I make a big salad and cheese bread to accompany it and my kids love the meal. Hope you enjoy!

One package of Hot Italian Sausage, cut in chunks and browned in a dutch oven
To the browned sausage add the following:
8 cups Beef Broth
4 baby carrots diced
1 (28 oz) can of diced tomatoes (I use a quart of our home canned tomatoes)
1 1/2 cups lentils
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1 chopped onion
2 celery stalks diced
3 cloves of minced garlic
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt

Bring to a boil and then turn down heat to simmer. Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes. After soup has finished cooking, add 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar, and cut up 1 dried Cayenne pepper. If you don't have Cayenne peppers from the garden, you can sprinkle in crushed red pepper flakes to your liking. If you don't like spicy, leave out the Cayenne pepper. The original recipe does not call for the Italian sausage so you do not have use it if you want a vegetarian meal. My men like meat so I always add the sausage. We first ate a sausage lentil soup at Carabba's restaurant. It was so fantastic that I went on a hunt to duplicate it for our own table. This recipe fit the bill for our family!

grace and peace,

Thursday, February 26, 2009

She Got Stuck

The skinny sheep all managed to suck in their tummies and squeeze through the gate.

The fat sheep tried, but she got stuck. Her baby took full advantage of the situation.

Jacob came to free his beloved Patches.
grace and peace,

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A New Experience

I remember when we first started gardening 8 years ago. I had a hard time wrapping my mind around the whole concept. I would get confused about when to plant certain things and succession planting and the whole nine yards. It was more than I wanted to think about at times. My husband was the ever patient teacher, and soon I took over most of the gardening chores. I am now the reminder to him on things concerning the garden.

Now, I am starting a new endeavor; one that I don't have quite as much faith to turn out in the end. If I felt overwhelmed when we first started gardening, I feel doubly overwhelmed now. The only reason I am doing this is to bail my husband out with my daughter. You all started on the evening we went Christmas shopping. We weren't even shopping for our daughter. We had already completed her gift list. We were heading down the aisle that had real artist pencils to purchase for our nephew. To the right of the so called pencils, my husband had an epiphany. He picked up a sewing machine and put it in our cart. "What are you doing?", I quickly asked. I am buying Hope a sewing machine for Christmas. I remind him that Hope's Christmas shopping was completed and we needed to purchase for the other children on our list. He told me that he knew she would be thrilled and he wanted to do this special thing for our daughter. "And who is going to teach her to use this new machine", was the next question out of my mouth. He assured me that he would be the one. It would be a daughter father thing. That was all well and good. He did teach her the machine. He has spent countless hours with her reading the manual doing all the things that I never learned to do.

He recently asked me to take her to a new fabric store in our area and let her choose material for her and him to make a pillow. I decided that wasn't that hard. I could drive the girl child to town and purchase material. Simple enough...well, it didn't quite work out like I had it planned. Simple is never really simple in my world. When we got to the store, the lady was so very nice and encouraged Hope in her new hobby. She suggested that we come to the new quilting class to learn basic stitches and how to sew. The idea is that one time a month the class meets to teach basic sewing by making a quilt square. At the end of the year, there will be 12 quilt squares made (so they say, but I'm still not quite sure about that), and then the next year we will all be ready to make a quilt. Hope was thrilled to be invited to a REAL sewing class with a REAL teacher and other REAL people. She promptly asked her Daddy if he could take her, but his REAL job seemed to interfere with her plans. Guess who that left??? Yep, that left me the REAL mom who NEVER learned to sew. I decided that if I could learn to garden surely I could learn to sew. So off to the sewing class we went. I purchased a few cool tools. I made one cut with the wheel roller and then I cut my finger. That took me all of about 10 seconds. The good thing about it was I didn't need immediate medical attention like the teenager next to me who also cut her finger with her new device. 3 long hours later here is what I had to show:

It took me T.H.R.E.E. hours to make this. It isn't even the same size. Tell me how can I measure EXACTLY and come out with two pieces totally different sizes? I don't know. I even invested in the handy dandy cool ruler thing, but obviously it wasn't very useful.

THREE hours of my life to make this. I could have cleaned the whole entire upstairs in three hours. I could have made a very nice meal in three hours. I could have planted a lot of plants in three hours!!! Now I am committed to sewing class for the next two years of my life!!! Can you believe it? My husband's Christmas gift to our daughter has taken hours from my life. I think I should demand retribution. For every hour that I suffer through sewing class I should get a free hour of something fun. That sounds fair to me. Of course, Hope is doing a bang up job at sewing class. Perhaps the teacher just had pity on her for having such an inept mother. Whatever the case, she did spend extra time working with Hope. What did I get for my efforts? The teacher sent me back to the iron because I didn't even iron my "square" good enough. Hope kept asking me if I was having fun. I don't know why the girl child would ask me such a question. I should think that the wrinkles in my forehead should give away the fact that I was a bit stressed. I didn't want to lie to the child, but I found myself growling something about I would rather be having fun in the garden. Yes, retribution is definitely what I need...and two Tylenol for next month's class...and maybe some private sewing lessons!
grace and peace,

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


For those of you watching my garden timeline, I thought I would share with you that I made my potato order today. Tnfarmgirl told me about a company called Ronnigers. I called and placed my order. It was more expensive than just going to our local farm store. I had to pay almost $30 in shipping, but according to Tnfarmgirl the yields will be well worth it. The past few years I have had a hard time getting my hands on Yukon Golds in our area. It seemed the day they were delivered at the stores they also sold out. Since I was always about a week behind, I never had an opportunity to purchase the Yukon Gold potatoes. That was my main reason for ordering. I knew I would get what I wanted and it would be delivered to my front door on or around the date that I choose. I have also always wanted to grow garlic. According to the buzz all around, fresh garlic is wonderful. Ronnigers also offers garlic so I ordered that too. That will be my first new garden experience for 2009! I also ordered Kennebec and Red Norland potatoes. The Kennebec is an old potato that should be a good keeper and Red Norland is one of those red new potatoes that we grew up on here in the south. They are wonderful cooked in a pot of fresh garden green beans. Give me a few green onions and a glass of sweet tea and in my opinion you would have a meal fit for a king. The men in my family would require meat to be served too!!!

grace and peace,

Missy Update

Missy has done well from her run in with the car. It has been 6 weeks since she was ran over by the car. She ended up with 3 broken bones in her foot. Two of those bones have healed, but we are still dealing with one bone that is being a bit stubborn. The vet says that it should only take a few more weeks and she should be fine. The funny thing is that every Friday night Missy decides to chew off her cast. It is as if she knows exactly when Friday night rolls around and it is time to free herself from the cast. How could she know that the vet has closed for the weekend? It gives her a few days of freedom from the cast. The vet encouraged me to make sure she doesn't put any weight on her foot when it doesn't have the cast. I smiled politely because that is what you are suppose to do, but inside I am thinking, "yea try to keep her from putting any weight on her foot. She weighs 180 pounds!!!" Actually I am wondering if the foot injury will be a blessing in disguise. She isn't as likely to saddle up to the bar and stand on her back legs and partake of the food that is still left there. She hasn't even stolen one loaf of bread from the counter since she has been injured. In the life of owning an English Mastiff, the only truly safe place for food is the top of the refrigerator. That way you know for sure she can't swipe it and eat it before you can say, "looky there"! I have lost several loaves of warm bread cooling on the counter to her. She has trained us all very well. We no longer leave food anywhere that might be within her reach. However just the other morning Jacob let his guard down and left a Breakfast Burrito sitting on the table while he poured himself some orange juice. Missy lifted her head and gulped down the boy's breakfast including the paper towel that was with it. Jacob was forced to eat the dreaded oatmeal, but at least Missy had a nice breakfast. I am sure Jacob won't let that happen again!

grace and peace,

Monday, February 23, 2009

Garden Production

Our garden produces a good portion of our food all year long. I spend many hours in the summer canning and freezing for our winter needs. In our area, we can start planting cold weather crops sometime in early March. By April, we are enjoying fresh garden lettuce! We also can extend our growing season into November so we can still enjoy fresh veggies in late November with just a little planning.

The question has been asked about how much produce do I buy at the grocery store. Here is my best estimation. In the summer, I don't buy produce much at all. In late July or August, I might buy lettuce to make a salad every now and then. We usually just eat whatever is abundant in our own garden during the summer. I shop every two weeks, and each trip I always purchase a 10 pound bag of potatoes, a bag of onions, several cloves of garlic, a bag of baby carrots, and bananas. In the summer, this is usually all I pick up, but in the winter I add more. Often times I will add extra potatoes in the winter because we eat a lot more meals with mashed potatoes. In the winter, I always buy enough lettuce to make a couple of salads each week. I will usually purchase a pack of mushrooms each shopping trip as well. I also will grab a head of cabbage if I am making coleslaw. I have frozen cabbage in my freezer, but I can't make slaw out of that! I make coleslaw about once a month depending on the meals I am serving. During the winter months, I will usually pick up a couple of fresh broccoli stalks and a couple bags of frozen peas or frozen lima beans. I almost always pick up several sweet potatoes each shopping trip during the winter. My children love baked sweet potatoes for lunch!

Please keep in mind that I might grab something out of the ordinary for a special side dish, but that doesn't happen often. I would NEVER serve Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato Sandwiches in the winter. They just don't taste good. However, that is a common late summertime dinner at our house.

We eat vegetables with almost every meal. I usually want something green on the table. This isn't because I am such a health nut. This is because that is the way I like to eat. I eat meat, but it doesn't bother me to do without it. I like to serve roast, potatoes, and carrots with green beans or cooked broccoli or even cooked cabbage . If something happens and the green side dish doesn't get made, I am also fine to eat pickled beets from our pantry. That serves as my vegetable. I also make a green tomato side dish that I can in the summertime. On those cold winter nights that I am serving beans, I will get my veggie fix with green tomatoes.

With all that being said, that means our garden produces the rest of our vegetable needs. Keep in mind that in the summer I do purchase from local stands and other farmers for our strawberries, peaches, blueberries, apples, and corn. This year I am hoping to grow our own corn, but I will still have to purchase the other things. I am also hoping to once again have a potato patch. We have never grown sweet potatoes and those are on my list for this year as well.

I hope this glimpse into my garden will help you as you plan yours. Please keep in mind that we started out small. Our first garden produced enough to eat fresh. Our next garden produced enough to can tomatoes and green beans and a few pickles. We have been at this for 8 years and each year we add something new or learn something new. That is the fun of is never the same. I am constantly reading to learn more or asking questions of other gardeners. It is great to get with other people and pick their brain about their gardens. Gardening is always a work in progress.

grace and peace,

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Scripture

"And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:32

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Garden Thoughts

I have had several people ask me, "How much of your own food do you produce?" My first response is not near enough. I know what we spend at the grocery store and it would appear by that total that we don't raise a garden at all! The truth is that we could cut our grocery cost by A LOT if we milked our cow and had more meat in the freezer. We are working on both of these issues. Our family drinks over a gallon of milk a day and for my "men" a meal isn't a meal unless there is meat on the table.

We have 10 raised beds that we grow our produce in each year. One of those beds is consumed by flowers. Michael used railroad ties as the border and I do not want to grow food in that for chemical reasons. This is my designated flower bed. That leaves me 9 large raised beds to use for gardening. My goal would be to add at least 5 more beds this upcoming year, but for now we make do with what we have. We also have a separate garden area that we can plant potatoes and corn. We haven't used this plot for the last several years. We have no way of watering it, and the drought here has been severe. I plant in a succession manner. When one bed is finished, then I till it up add more compost and start again with something new.

For example, I will use 2 beds to plant my broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and lettuce in for early spring. I will also use a bed for peas. A bit later in the season I will use one bed for my squash and zucchini. Another full bed will be designated for my green beans. (We really need at least 2 if not 3 beds for green beans, but I don't have the space). I will also use 1 bed for peppers and at least 2 beds for tomatoes. By the time I am planting tomatoes, it won't be long and my broccoli bed will be ready to be used for something else. I will till it and add compost and plant another bed of tomatoes. When my cabbage and broccoli plants are getting bigger, I will sprinkle lettuce seed around them. The lettuce grows, but the cabbage and broccoli plants give them some shade. This allows me to grow lettuce that isn't bitter later in the season. I plant lettuce seed every 2 weeks somewhere in my garden until it is just to hot. I also put green onions all throughout my garden beds. I usually give Seth a sack of onion sets. I show him where I want them planted and I leave him be while he plants the onion. He is 4 years old and I find onions ALL over the place, but I don't mind. It keeps him busy and we eat all of the onions no matter where they may grow. Another thing I do with green onions is use them as a line marker between my different varieties of lettuce. I plant a block of Black Seeded Simpson lettuce and then I plant a vertical line of green onions. I then plant my next variety of lettuce and I again plant another vertical line of green onions. It really helps me to designate where things are using this method. My husband likes to plant his lettuce in Alphabetical order. That can be a great help in knowing what you are growing as little baby lettuce can be hard to identify when they first break through the ground.

My garden goal is to grow as much of our food and eat it fresh as much as possible. This means that we never have tomatoes in our fresh grown salad. Lettuce comes in way earlier than tomatoes. By the time the tomatoes are ripe, it is too hot to grow lettuce in our area. I will purchase lettuce from the grocery in the winter, but we don't eat a lot of salad in the summer. Once our lettuce is finished growing, we are eating other garden vegetables. We never eat cucumbers or tomatoes in the winter time. I HATE grocery store cucumbers and tomatoes so we just don't eat them. We don't eat citrus fruit in the middle of summer either. We try to eat whatever is in season. I am not a die hard in this, but it is my rule of thumb.

Next time I will post about the yield of our garden and how much we purchase from the grocery store.

grace and peace,

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Supermarket Vegetables vs Garden Grown Vegetables

The Gist:
If the economy isn't grim enough for you, just check out the February issue of the Journal of HortScience, which contains a report on the sorry state of American fruits and veggies. Apparently produce in the U.S. not only tastes worse than it did in your grandparents' days, it also contains fewer nutrients - at least according to Donald R. Davis, a former research associate with the Biochemical Institute at the University of Texas, Austin. Davis claims the average vegetable found in today's supermarket is anywhere from 5% to 40% lower in minerals (including magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc) than those harvested just 50 years ago.
(Read about Americans' Incredible, Edible Front Lawns.)

I saw this news clip on Yahoo news this morning. I quickly copied it to post about it later today. Of course the story ended with perhaps consumers should look to buy organic veggies in the supermarket now that these numbers are coming out in the light.

I would take that thought to the next level. I would encourage people to grow their own food if at all possible. That way you KNOW for sure what has been done with your food.

However, I do understand that not all people have the ability to grow their own food in today's world. My next advice would be to PURCHASE your food from a LOCAL organic farmer. The food will taste so much better than if you bought it in the grocery store, and you will know that it hasn't been shipped half way across the world with all sorts of chemicals and gases to keep it fresh. Check out your local CSA's. They can be a great alternative to grocery store produce.
We are not at the place as of yet to grow all of our own food. Several years ago we gave up growing corn and decided to purchase it from a local farmer who grows his corn organically. Our biggest reason was the drought conditions as well as fence issues. We knew that there was no possible way for us to water our corn. We just weren't set up for it. We paid the extra money and purchased the corn. It was organic so we knew it wasn't full of junk that we didn't want. We made arrangements to meet the farmer at 8:00 a.m. as he was coming out of the field. The corn was picked that very morning so we knew the flavor would be fantastic.
We also purchase much of our fruit that I use to make jams. We buy local whenever we can. I go to the local market and pick up the strawberries that were picked right here in our county. I buy peaches that have been grown in Georgia or South Carolina from a road side stand. I am sure these peaches aren't grown organically, but at least I know they didn't come from some other country. We also order our citrus fruit from a grove in Florida. I order at least $100 worth of oranges and grapefruit. They come to us the first weekend in December. We eat on these until February. I usually don't buy oranges or grapefruit again until the next December. These little steps help me to know that my food is full of the best flavor possible and that they come from as close to our home as possible.
grace and peace,

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Farm Thought

"Hobby farmers are often among America's best land stewards; they are interested in working the land, but are not reliant on it for income." John Morgan, author for Hobby Farm magazine

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

There's a New Kid on the Road

I spent my day at the DMV office. Josh finally decided to read his permit book and take the test. He passed and now we have another teenage driver in our home. I am going to take a moment and vent or whine...however you choose to view it. I spent 3 HOURS of my life at the DMV office with 5 kids today. There were 10 people in line when we got there. The people behind the counter where very kind, but they had to do things by the state book. While we were there, not one person other than Joshua took a computerized permit test. The computers were just sitting there unoccupied, while we waited. There has to be a better way to do business. One person chose to leave and drive to Morristown to take care of his business. I thought to myself that didn't make much since because the office in Morristown will have to follow the same state rule book that our local office does. It just seems to me that this person would be adding about a 30 minute drive to his wait!

Now for the scary thought....what if the government takes over health care?????

grace and peace,

Monday, February 16, 2009

Seeds Have Sprouted

Here are the seeds that I planted just the other day. They have now been moved from our bathtub to our makeshift greenhouse in the shop. They are under the grow lights and in just a few days it will be time to take them out of the seed starter trays and plant them in individual containers. All I have left to do now is to remember to water them and clean out the bathtub which still has lovely potting soil at the bottom. I am going to purchase new pots this year for my plants. I have used the little trays that I have collected over the years from purchasing starter plants. However, they have been used a lot and are in bad shape. I am unsure of what I will purchase, but Michael and I will head to the wholesale garden supply place and see what they have available. If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment.

grace and peace,

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday Scripture

"Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it." Song of Solomon 8:7

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Trump Card

I mentioned in an early post that I had to use "the trump card" on Michael to make sure that my little house lamb wasn't eaten or sold as meat. I have had several questions asked about a trump card so I thought I would do a post about marriage and trump cards today.

First, I don't know if this is a principle that works early on in marriage. Michael and I have been married almost 22 years and we know each other well. In our early days of marriage, I tried to use manipulation to get what I wanted. In my teen years, I wouldn't have called it such a thing, but that was exactly what it was. As with most young married couples, Michael was eager to give me anything I wanted, and I was just as eager to please him. By year two, both of us were getting a bit weary in well doing. Often times the thing I wanted was the opposite of what he wanted. We each had to learn give and take like no other time in our life.

Over the years, our love for one another grew to the point that we learned to walk in the principle of "your good at my expense." The days that we both carry out this principle all is well in our world. Each of us is looking out for the other's best interest and we both are blessed. There are times that we each extend the other a little extra grace. For instance, Michael doesn't have a personality until after 9:00 a.m. I know this and give him liberty in this area. He knows I get whiny at night, and he overlooks this on my behalf. He has always been the one to give our children a nice bedtime experience. I on the other hand, shove them in bed and threaten them with their life if I see them again before 7:00 a.m.!

I have spent many years with this man and he knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that he can trust me with his heart. I too know that he loves me and he would give up everything in the world for me including his life. In our marriage, we always discuss a matter together. If we can't decide on which way to go, then we go with his decision. He doesn't lord that over me. It is a Biblical principle that we have always used in our marriage, and it works. If I see him doing something that I think is against the will of God, I talk with him about it and pray all the more. Then there are decisions that REALLY aren't that major, but it may mean more to one of us.

This is where Angel the house lamb comes into the picture. I am very attached to this little lamb. I have come to see her as a pet. Michael looks at her as a sheep...a money maker. On a sheep farm, a sheep either has babies or is sold for meat. Either way, they are here as income. I understand this principle. I agreed to it. I know full what happens to sheep on a sheep farm. I make sure I don't mess with the little boy lambs because I know their final destination. I cuddle the girls who I know will stay on this farm and have more babies to enlarge our flock. I agreed to save Angel on the fact that she was a girl pure and simple. My heart strings became attached to this lamb, and I almost panicked when he talked of serving her at the Easter Dinner table. I then remembered my trump card. I looked at him and told him that it meant a lot to me for this lamb to grow up here and remain on our farm and not in our freezer. I told him I knew that it wasn't the best farm decision, but I cared about her. It was IMPORTANT to me, and I knew that because it was something important to ME it would also be important to him. Of course, he granted my request and has teased me all along. He tells me with a sly grin that all he has to do is switch ear tags and I'll never know the destination of my little house lamb. Yea, right. She is the one who follows us around like a dog and baaaas at us every time she sees us! It has become a game between me and him teasing about this little sheep. He couldn't have bought me a $10,000 diamond ring that would have meant more to me. He heard my heart and he did what I asked solely because it was meaningful to me. Now, that is what I call love in action.

I want to make sure that you understand the trump card isn't to be used as a manipulation tactic or as a lie. It is solely there to be used as a "just because you love me" card. Think of it as a "get out of jail free" card in the game of Monopoly! I don't use it very often. Truth be told, in our home there isn't much need for me to use it. I have used it upon occasion in an argument when I know Michael is right in theory, but my heart was hurt none the less. It always works because he values my heart more than his own. I know this full well, and I would never want to do anything to manipulate the man that I love so much.

grace and peace,

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Counting Sheep

I had my jammies on, the nice satin ones that my mom gave me as a gift. I was turning my pretty quilt back when I happened to glance out my window. The moon was large and it was beautiful outside even though the wind was howling through the trees. I glanced at the hay bales that sit in the front yard to keep the animals out of them. That was when I saw it...there was something on top of the hay bale. I strained my eyes further so that I might could see exactly what that something was. I then realized that it was a sheep. It was after 10:00 p.m. and dark and windy outside. I had already chased the sheep TWO other times that day, and Michael was out bowling with guys!!! (How do the animals know when he isn't home??He only goes bowling with guys about twice a year)! I sounded the alarm, which by the way is a loud shriek from my mouth, while running through the house looking for my shoes. My oldest son had just gotten out of the shower and he was in his boxers and barefoot. The last time he got the animals back in they just followed him gently into the fence. I think that is what he expected from them this time so he casually walked outside with a flashlight in his boxers thinking all he had to do was call them and open the gate for them to stroll back into their home area. (I could have told him differently, but I didn't want to break his Shepherd's bubble at that point). Our second son took the time to get a coat, hat, and shoes. He was no novice and he knew the sheep were being contrary all day. Our third soon also took the time to dress, and I grabbed a jacket to keep out the biting wind from my satin jammies. As I was walking out the front door, my oldest son was running as fast as he could. Apparently Peter the Great was out too and he wasn't in a great mood. Matthew had walked over to the side of the field to round up the sheep and he was without any protection...including clothing. Peter saw him and chased Matthew. Matthew forgot about the new fence that Michael and the other boys had just installed this past weekend. He was running with all of his might and he dashed into the 7 wire high tinsel electric fence. The only good thing was that Michael hasn't installed the electric part! Matthew bounced off it like a pin ball and it pushed him even closer to Peter. Josh had headed outside and he saw the flashlight bounce up and down running the gamut of the fence. He heard Matthew scream and he knew that Peter was out there. He ran back to the porch and grabbed the broom. He jumped up on the hay bales and watched as Matthew ran past with Peter close behind him. Josh clunked Peter with the broom from the top of the hay bale, and it stunned Peter enough to give Matthew a chance to get into the house. Matt was good and mad by this time...he also decided that he needed clothes!

After an hour of rounding up the darlings, we finally got them back. We used every vehicle that we owned. We had just put them in the barn to be locked away until the REAL farmer could get home from his bowling outing, and then we saw three more sheep walking down the road. We spent a bit more time wrangling those into the barn. It was close to midnight as we all walked into our home. We all sat around laughing at our experiences and reliving the great sheep hunt. When the real farmer came home, he and I walked out to the barn to count the sheep. I was still in my satin pajamas. We had them all. I don't think they will be let out of the barn again until the real fence is in place and electrified!!!

grace and peace,

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Lion and the Lamb and Jacob

Well, Missy isn't really a lion, but the English Mastiff does have a bit of the lion look when they run. Yesterday was beautiful outside so Missy took her broken foot down to the backyard to play with our house lamb. The house lamb is more attached to Missy than she is the other sheep. I hope the house lamb has some discernment whenever she sees the Border Collie! He won't take kindly to her wanting to snuggle up for a nice nap.

Here is a better picture of Angel. She has grown considering she started out at 4 pounds. She follows us around like a dog. Whenever we are out working, she is always there. She is still small enough to squeeze through the fences to come and find us. Yesterday, I sat outside on the deck and read to Seth. Angel heard my voice and started crying frantically. She knew I was around, but she couldn't find me. She wasn't hungry at the time, but she was ready to be loved on for a bit. She loves to be scooped up into our arms and snuggled. I am sure a more seasoned farmer would tell me that I need to cut the cord with this little lamb...that I am setting myself up for trouble down the road. I know they would be right, but for now she still is our little house lamb!!
I also had to play the "trump card" with my husband. You know that "card" that a wife holds that pulls the heart strings of the man she loves. Michael mentioned that Angel probably won't make a good mother or a good sheep. He suggested we eat her. I trumped him and asked him to just keep her as a pet if for no other reason than because he loves me and I care about her. I don't often ask him to make unwise decisions, and I am sure that a seasoned farmer would tell me this is unwise. However, I really am attached to this sheep and I want her to live a long happy life here on our farm even if she is nothing more than a pet. Since I hardly EVER play the "trump card" in our marriage, he was more than willing to let me have my way. Well, I am sure he wouldn't call it more than willing, but he gave me what I wanted anyway!
grace and peace,

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Clearing Continues

Robert was out early this morning clearing more trees. He is close enough to the house now that I can watch the trees fall on the hillside. I think it is going to be beautiful when we get this all finished. I know the new pasture will be much appreciated by our animals, and the hay that can be grown will be much appreciated by our checkbook! For this winter, we have spent $3,400 in hay to feed our animals, and we aren't sure that will get us through the winter. If we had to keep purchasing hay from other farmers, we could never make a profit on our sheep. We could have cut down on our hay expense if we didn't have the horses. Nobody wants horses in our area right now due to the expense of hay, and I don't think we could give them away to anyone. I still like them and as long as we can feed them we will keep doing so.

The last few days have been warm and beautiful in our area. It is a reminder of what spring will feel like very soon. I am looking forward to packing away the heavy coats and gloves! Michael and the boys made great progress on the fence this past weekend. Maybe in the next two to three weeks we can move the sheep to their new pasture and out of our backyard. That sounds like a dream come true!!!!!

grace and peace,

Monday, February 09, 2009

Starting Seeds

I finally got my seeds planted in my trays. I will be floating some trays in our bathtub. Don't worry, we have a shower in the other bathroom. I float the seeds to keep them watered from the bottom and by having them in the bathroom I am assured that they will stay warm. It is our way of making do with what we have!
I planted a DiCicco broccoli variety. It is an early Italian broccoli that does well in early spring. I also planted another broccoli variety that is good to produce side shoots. It is called Green Sprouting Broccoli. I planted All Seasons Cabbage and Early Snowball Cauliflower. I then planted a tray of Buttercrunch lettuce. As soon as all of these plants germinate, I will plant a batch of Romaine Lettuce.
Looking back at last year's notes, I think I am about 3 weeks behind from when I planted last year. This shouldn't be a problem here. This year has been much colder than last year so we still should be in good shape. For those of you who are watching my plant times for your own use, I will let you know when I actually put the plants in the garden. If I were buying plants from the store, I wouldn't even be thinking about gardening yet. It is only because I am raising my plants from seeds that I have to start this early. I grow seeds because it is so much cheaper than buying plants. I will be planting over 100 broccoli plants this year. I can't even imagine how much that would cost me if I purchased them from the store.
grace and peace,

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Sunday Scripture

"Enter His gates with Thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations." Psalm 100: 4-5

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Fences and Helpers

Today is suppose to be much warmer than the last few days. Last weekend was spent working on the fence for the sheep. This weekend will be spent doing the same. After all, these sheep can't stay in the backyard forever. I have to get my spring garden out soon!!!

Jacob will be helping his dad with fences. Jacob is always good to help do anything outside. He loves the farm and the work that comes with it.

These two helpers just love the farm...the work that comes with it could be left up to Jacob if they had their wish. However, their strong manly bodies are needed to get that fence done.
And what about my day? Well my day will be spent in the shop planting seeds. Due to my mom's visit, I had put the seed planting off for a time. It doesn't look like her power is going to be coming on anytime soon so she will be here longer than she had expected. Therefore, I will need to go ahead and plant my seeds. Maybe playing in the dirt will scratch that spring itch I have been feeling lately!
grace and peace,

Friday, February 06, 2009

Need I say More?

I am really trying to enjoy the slower days of winter. I am trying not to get that itch to just see things growing everywhere. I look at my raised beds and I see nothing. I know that in a few short months that my hands will be overflowing with garden produce and flowers. During that time of year, I sometimes find myself longing for the slower days of winter. Why are we people not content where God has us at the moment? I don't know. I battle my flesh in this area often. I look at what I don't have instead of what I do have. I guess that is the selfish side of me coming out, and quite frankly I don't like it. I want to enjoy each and every day and season that the Lord has given to me. I want to live for the moment and not always looking to the future. This is my desire for this day...

grace and peace,

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Sheep 101

Our little bottle fed lamb has grown and adjusted quite well. She spends her days out in the yard and barn with the rest of the flock. When she gets hungry, she comes to the back door and cries. She spends her nights in the shop. It is very cold here and she doesn't have a momma that will curl up with her to keep her warm. Yesterday we brought her in to eat. I knew something was unusual when I had to go outside and call her. She had gone about 5 hours without eating. She did come to Jacob, but she would not eat. He came upstairs and announced that she was very fat especially on her left side. I knew she was bloated, but still was unsure as to why or what to do about it. I called Tnfarmgirl and she told me to keep her up walking. While the kids made her walk, I contacted the lady that we bought our herd from and she gave me a quick lesson in bottle fed lambs. She says this happens often. Somehow she must have gotten extra air into her stomach while taking the bottle. She suggested we hold the bottle down lower so that she has to get on her knees to eat. She then told me to go get Mylocon know those drops that you give gassy babies. She promised within 2 hours Angel would be fine. I did what she said, and she was right. Within two hours ,Angel's belly was back to normal. Who knew??? I certainly didn't. I don't think she would have made it without this little intervention. She told us from now on to be on the safe side that we were to give her a couple of drops before each bottle.

Sometimes I don't think I am cut out to have a farm . I get way to attached to these animals and it causes me to make poor decisions at times. With each new thing comes a new learning experience so maybe by the time I am 100 years old I will finally know what I am doing!!!

grace and peace,

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

February Happenings

Our kids have enjoyed the little snow that we have here in our area. But for me...
I am dreaming of fresh lettuce growing in the garden with a pretty orange zinnia displaying its beauty!
grace and epace,

Monday, February 02, 2009

Winter Days

Snow has come our way. Not much, but enough to call it winter. I saw in the paper that the groundhog saw his shadow so that means six more weeks of winter. My kids didn't buy it. They can't trust our local weatherman and they most assuredly aren't going to put their hope in a groundhog! I am ready to move on to spring. I haven't minded winter this year, but remember I am a fair weather farmer. I like to do things outside when the temperatures are pleasant. Can you blame me? So what do I do when the winter weather hits? I go to the kitchen and start baking. That way I can stay warm while I produce scrumptious baked goods for all the people here at our home. It's a win win situation if you don't count the extra pounds that ends up on my waist!!

grace and peace,

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Sunday Thought

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." Robert Frost

grace and peace,