Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Our Kitchen

Our kitchen is truly the heart of our home. We do so MANY different things in this area of our house. Of course, we cook, serve meals, and eat meals in this area. We preserve food and make wonderful creations in here too. However, I spend many hours of each day doing school in our kitchen. Each and every one of our children have learned to read at our dining room table. I mentioned something about one day getting a new table. My older boys were appalled with such a thought. They like the friendship that they have developed with the old table. They have memories that were made at that table, and they weren't exactly excited about replacing the table of their childhood.

Today I spent the last several hours teaching my 12 and 10 year old children how to write. We spent time creating topic sentences and making diagrams to help us brainstorm our essay. I always write with my kids. It helps them to see me work on a paragraph. We try to critique my writing so they can see strong sentences as well as weak sentences. Writing is one of those things that I find is easier to do than to teach. Which is a funny thing because I am an English teacher by trade! Some people are easier than others to teach to write. My oldest son has done very well in college because of his ability to write good essays. I spent his entire 7th grade year with him teaching him writing. We wrote a lot that year together, and it has paid off in the long run. Do any of y'all have any good suggestions for a writing curriculum that you like to use? I am also spending some time doing research on the Internet. I have found some great sources to help me. If you know of any good writing sites, please leave a link in the comments. I need help!!!!

I believe the true key to writing is doing it often. That has been a mistake that I have made with Jacob and Hope. I haven't spent time each and every day writing with them. Tomorrow we are going to hit it again, and I am planning to have them write something every day. I find it much easier to teach older kids to write...you know...high school age kids. Younger kids are a bit more of a challenge for me, but I know with some hard work on all of our parts, we will be able to master this!

grace and peace,

Monday, March 30, 2009

Weekend Happenings on the Farm

Spring is in full force here in our area. We spent the weekend with rain, wind, and cooler temperatures. Our farm is starting to come together. I spoke with Robert, the man who is clearing our land, and he said that it would only be another day or two and it would be finished. That leaves the clean up left to do. He won't be back for a few days because it is so wet here.

Michael mentioned that we will be starting on the next fence project for the sheep. We are going to fence in a large lot so that we can rotate them from pasture to pasture. This helps us manage our grass better and it is also healthier for the sheep. If they are rotated correctly, they will not have to be wormed on a regular schedule. I am surprised at how quickly they ate down the 1/4 acre that we put them in last week. We are all out of hay, but Michael will be picking up some more today. There still isn't enough grass to support our flock of sheep.

Michael and Jacob caught the Black Angus cow that we are going to feed up for our beef. They put her in the area that we last raised our pigs. Michael found a great feeding system to feed up the cow before butchering. I know that grass fed beef is healthier. I know all the pros for that. However, I just don't like it all that much. I so prefer the flavor and texture of the meat like I buy in the grocery store. I know it looses its omega 3 fatty acids when it is taken off the grass, but I don't like the flavor of the grass fed beef. I probably could train my taste buds to get used to it, but I am not there yet. I figure we eat organic garden veggies, we eat our own eggs, and pork. Surely, eating our own beef without hormones but still fed grain is good enough. I hope so or else I guess I would just have to eat only chicken and pork!

I still have a soft heart where animals are concerned. I don't like seeing the cow that I know we will be eating soon standing next to the barn. I try not to look at her. I felt the same way with the pigs. At least we always butcher 3 or 4 pigs at a time so I don't know which one I am eating! The same will be true when we butcher the lambs. (I don't like that either if truth be told). Sometimes I think it is so much easier just picking up a nice package of meat at the grocery store. I know that the animal had a poor life, but at least I wasn't involved. I know our animals have all had a great life while here on our farm. That does make me feel better about the whole thing.

grace and peace,

Friday, March 27, 2009

Just a Thought

"All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Missy Moment

I wanted to update you on our beloved English Mastiff. Her foot has not healed up as nicely as I had hoped. She can put some weight on it and she gets around where ever she wants. (See she manages to get herself up on the couch whenever no one is looking)! She still walks with a pronounced limp. I am thinking that as time goes by perhaps she will walk a bit more normal. She is still the lover that she has always been. I can't see spending much more money for surgery or other repairs at this time. She can live with what she has and I don't know that any thing else would be effective. My main concern is that as she ages she might develop arthritis. There really isn't any way to prevent that so for now we will worry about other things...like how do we keep her off the couch!!!!

grace and peace,

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Progress Continues for the Garden

There is a 90% chance of rain today, but so far we have yet to get any. My new plants in the garden need water. If it doesn't start raining soon, I will have to haul some water down to them. The upside of no rain is our neighbor was able to come down with his tractor and plow up another garden area in our backyard. This will not be a raised bed area. Instead, we will be planting potatoes,which are due to arrive on March 30, and corn. If there is room, I would also like to add a row of pole beans. We haven't been able to grow enough green beans for our family in our raised beds so this would help if there is room.

My daughter and I headed to the shop this morning and did some seed sowing. We planted almost all of our pepper and tomato seeds. We also sowed a lot of flower seeds. Hope chose wave petunias and zinnias to sow today. We also planted our summer yellow squash. I am out of zucchini seeds so I need to get some of that tomorrow. The only variety of tomatoes that I didn't have that I wanted was Super Sweet 100. They are a very sweet cherry tomato and I truly love these little treats. They aren't an heirloom variety so I will pick them up from the feed store my next trip into town.

Here is a picture of some of our handy work from early in the day. When the seeds germinate, then I will have to get them under the grow lights. I don't have enough grow lights to accommodate all of my little plants so I have to go down stairs a couple of times a day and switch the plants around so that they all get to enjoy the light. It is a bother, but it does get the job done as long as I remember to water them!!!
grace and peace,

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I'm A Garden Cheater

My husband built me this wonderful grow light center so I could grow seeds for our garden. I used it a lot last year. This is a picture from last year. Aren't all the plants beautiful? This year I have used it some for my broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower plants. My plants haven't done very well this year. It might have something to do with the fact that I didn't water them often. I also started several weeks later than I usually do so my plants are little. I am still caring for them, but today I went to the feed store. I spent $34 and BOUGHT my broccoli and cabbage plants. I also purchased green onions. I feel like a cheater, but I sure am glad I got some plants in the ground!

I planted three of our raised beds. My first bed is all broccoli. My second bed is a hodge podge. I planted 5 cabbage plants, beets, and 3 different varieties of lettuce. I also sprinkled some radish seeds in there too. There is a small spinach spot as well. I used my green onions as borders between my different types of lettuce. My third bed is an entire bed of peas. This will be enough peas for our family to enjoy fresh, but I am sure there won't be near enough to put any in the freezer.

So even though I am a garden cheater, I at least got some plants in the ground. There I said it and I feel better. I will continue to minister to the baby plants in my greenhouse area. I am hoping they will make a full recovery and I can plant them a bit later this spring. (I am not holding my breath...apparently water is pretty important)! How does your garden grow?

grace and peace,

Monday, March 23, 2009

Phase One of Fence COMPLETED!!!

We finally got our animals in their new fence area. I can't tell you how happy and thankful that I am. This was the very first part of Michael's fence vision for our farm. He has spent much time thinking and planning out how he wants our farm to be laid out to make it work the best for us. We own 17 acres of land. We use about 1/4 of that and the rest was covered in trees. Our plan is to have the trees removed, which is still being worked on, and then we will have the entire 17 acres for our animals. (Just a side note, the trees were badly damaged due to pine beetles or we would have made other plans). This first phase of fence is only about a 1/4 of an acre. When all is said and done, this is the spot that will house one of our two rams. He will have the entire 1/4 of an acre to himself. However for now, we will use this 1/4 of an acre for all 29 sheep and lambs. Don't even ask me when the next section of fence is to be started. I can't even think about that! I know it will have to be started soon.

I told you that Michael needed to do a full post about the fence...you know one of those technical posts that I am not very good at. It would include real terms other than "round thingy". Here is my rendition of the sheep fence. It is a 7 strand high tensil electiral fence. (Ain't nothing going through it and nothing coming into it)!

On each strand, Michael used a daisy wheel so that fence tension can be adjusted as needed. This will make maintenance of the fence much easier. It only takes a crescent wrench and a little bit of man power and the fence can be easily adjusted.
And here is the picture of the gift that is better than chocolates. It is a one sided gate latch. It cost $23 at Tractor Supply, and it is worth every penny!
He also took the time to bury the electrical wire under our gates. This means that we no longer have to hold a plastic piece with a hot electrical wire attached to it when we want to open the gates. The kids and I never did do well with that. He knew it was important to me that I could just walk out through the gate without having to touch electrical wire. He also knew that I love to pet the animals. He made two different wooden slat areas that we could pet the animals. There is no electric fence there so we and the animals won't get shocked when loving on them. These are all "small" things, but they make our farm experience so much more enjoyable. These are the things that 5 years ago I would have said would all be a waste of time or money. Not anymore. I was in 100% agreement on these little extras!
grace and peace,

Saturday, March 21, 2009

More Fencing

I am one tired puppy tonight. We spent our day working on fences. It is so past time to get the animals out of the backyard! The kids are getting excited because once the animals are moved into the pasture then we can assemble their Christmas present. The younger three kids got a trampoline for Christmas, but we couldn't put it up with the animals out back. They have all waited very patiently, but they are starting to get antsy now. With the looks of what we accomplished today, we could for real finish the fence tomorrow. I am almost holding my breath because I have waited on this to be done for so long.

When we are finished, I will ask Michael to do a complete post on the fence that we chose and the reasons behind it. Let me just say that I am thrilled with what he chose. It is a true sheep fence so I don't think I will be chasing any more sheep in the middle of the night! He also bought me one of the best gifts that he has ever given me. He came home with a $30 gate latch. I just about had a hissy because that is a lot of money to spend when you don't really have to have it. Each gate has a small chain and latch on it. They are a bit cumbersome to use, but they work. After he installed our new gate latch, it took me one time of opening it and I knew I was sold. I can open it with one hand and close it with my hip! I asked him if he would go get another one for our other gate. These things are better than roses or chocolates!!! I told him that I would be happy with a gate latch as my Mother's Day gift...and I was serious.

grace and peace,

Friday, March 20, 2009

Meet Lilly Bit (Another House Lamb)

We knew early on yesterday that Lilly wasn't going to be cared for by her real momma so we quickly adopted her and brought her into our home. (See why I think it is becoming a waste of time to clean my house?) Lilly is the smallest lamb we have ever had. She is even smaller than Angel was when she was born. I am so thankful that the weather was warmer for this birth.

We spent our day caring for Lilly and watching the other baby to make sure the momma was being good. I also had to make another mad dash to Tractor Supply to buy more colostrum and milk replacer. I thought I learned my lesson to make sure that we had these basic supplies on hand during lambing season. But to my credit, I didn't know it was lambing season. It was suppose to be done for now!

grace and peace,


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Look What We Have At Our House NOW

My day started out a little rough. I was making coffee and trying to get my eyes opened when I happened to glance out the kitchen window to find a pretty white ball of fluff. I knew immediately that we had a new lamb. We weren't really expecting any more lambs, but we also knew one ewe never did deliver. I just thought she wasn't pregnant, but apparently I was wrong. When Jacob went out to feed the animals this morning, he found another baby left in the barn area. The ewe delivered twins. As sheep farmers, we are suppose to be excited when we see twins. I am not thrilled. The momma decided to reject one of the babies and guess what that means for me???? I will be the momma. We are watching and waiting to see if momma ewe will do her job and take care of her baby. If I don't see some love soon from the momma, I will go get the little dear and bring her into the house. On the positive side, at least it isn't cold outside!!! On another really positive note, both twins are girls so I won't have to bond with one of the little boy money sheep!

grace and peace,

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Spring Is In the Air

It feels and sounds like spring this morning. I hear the birds outside and the 80 chicks that are still housed in our shop chirping and singing. The sun is shining and the day is beckoning me to come and play. For me today, play is going to take the form of work. I have been so lazy lately and now I must put our home back together. I often times lay the blame for a dirty home at the feet of ...

Missy. She does keep our house a little messier than most. If she isn't around to blame, then it becomes the fact that we live on a farm. Who has time to keep the farm dirt off their boots before coming into the humble abode? (Apparently NONE of the males that live in our home)!
So today I have the itch to clean. I don't just mean a little cleaning...I mean the kind that gets to the "bottom of the dog hair fur ball behind the couch" kind of cleaning. I am wondering if this mood will pass soon. Just like President Obama and his team never want to waste a good crisis, I must hurry and not waste a good cleaning mood. Who knows when the next one might strike???!!!
grace and peace,

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pizza Bread Recipe

I was in the mood to play in the kitchen yesterday. I decided to try a bread recipe that had caught my attention several days ago. It was named Pizza Bread for its flavor. My kids and husband devoured this great bread. It could go with a meal or it could be used as a snack. That was what my children chose to do with it. I think it would be great with my Sausage Lentil Soup recipe. It truly has a wonderful pizza flavor. It would also be great as a lunch served with a marinara sauce for dipping purposes. I bet you could toast it in the oven with some mozzarella cheese sprinkled over it!

Pizza Bread

1 3/8 cup warm water
3 cups bread flour
2 Tablespoons dried milk
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons soften butter
1/2 cup chopped pepperoni
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 Tablespoon Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chopped canned mushrooms (I omitted these because we didn't have them).
1/8 cup onion flakes
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon oregano
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast

Mix all together in bowl. Knead for about 5 minutes. Let rise in warm place until doubled. (This usually takes about an hour). Shape loaves and place into 2 well greased bread pans. Let rise again until just to the top of the pan. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

grace and peace,

Health Care for Veterans

WASHINGTON, March 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The leader of the nation's largest veterans organization says he is "deeply disappointed and concerned" after a meeting with President Obama today to discuss a proposal to force private insurance companies to pay for the treatment of military veterans who have suffered service-connected disabilities and injuries. The Obama administration recently revealed a plan to require private insurance carriers to reimburse the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in such cases.

"It became apparent during our discussion today that the President intends to move forward with this unreasonable plan," said Commander David K. Rehbein of The American Legion. "He says he is looking to generate $540-million by this method, but refused to hear arguments about the moral and government-avowed obligations that would be compromised by it."

The proposed requirement for these companies to reimburse the VA would not only be unfair, says the Legion, but would have an adverse impact on service-connected disabled veterans and their families. The Legion argues that, depending on the severity of the medical conditions involved, maximum insurance coverage limits could be reached through treatment of the veteran's condition alone. That would leave the rest of the family without health care benefits. The Legion also points out that many health insurance companies require deductibles to be paid before any benefits are covered. Additionally, the Legion is concerned that private insurance premiums would be elevated to cover service-connected disabled veterans and their families, especially if the veterans are self-employed or employed in small businesses unable to negotiate more favorable across-the-board insurance policy pricing. The American Legion also believes that some employers, especially small businesses, would be reluctant to hire veterans with service-connected disabilities due to the negative impact their employment might have on obtaining and financing company health care benefits

As a wife of a veteran and a long time supporter of the military, I find this unacceptable. Haven't the wounded given enough of themselves to our country? Should they require to give yet again? If Michael were one of these wounded veterans, we could not have the self employment insurance that we carry now. There is a cap on the amount that they will pay out. This is the insurance that we can afford, and to help keep our cost down per month, we also carry a large deductible amount. An already wounded veteran wouldn't have this option. He would be forced to pay large monthly bills just to have health insurance! Did I mention that we got our insurance based on the fact that we didn't have any major sickness or diseases? Do you really think that an insurance company is going to be willing to give insurance to a veteran with a pre-existing condition?????

I too believe that if a wounded veteran comes back from war and is looking for a job, small business employers will not be interested in hiring that veteran because they will not want to pay for the health care required. Now our wounded veteran can't even find a job because he is a liability from the very beginning!!!

This plan sets up our veterans for failure after their time of service. In my world, the veterans should get to go to the front of the line for their service that has already been given to all!!!

grace and peace,

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Backyard Sheep

The sheep are still in the backyard. Michael and I worked all day Saturday trying to finish the fence. Several of our boys were feeling a bit under the weather, and I chose to work in their stead. It was raining and cold outside, and I didn't think that would be very good for their snotty noses! Let me just say I worked my tail feathers to the bone, and I was tired. I dug a post hole with post hole diggers. It has been a long time since I used post hole diggers, and my shoulders where talking back at me for it! I did enjoy the alone time with my hubby. We had a lot of time to be together. Our intent was to actually work more on the fence Sunday afternoon. However the rain just didn't let up and it was a nasty soupy mess. We took the day to rest instead of work after church. It was nice, but that means the sheep will still be in the backyard another week! I am starting to wonder if I will even get to have a spring garden. The sheep destroyed the fall garden and I am praying that the spring garden will actually get planted. The grass is starting to turn green and signs of spring are all around me so I am itching to get to planting. But for now, at least another hard day of fencing is needed. I just hope my boys are feeling better before the next fence work day!!!!

grace and peace,

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday Scripture

"Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:29-30

Friday, March 13, 2009

Preparing the Beds

This is one of our garden beds at the end of the growing season. We remove the drip work water hose and we will till the bed under to let it rest. It is best to sow a cover crop on the bed to add extra nutrients for next year's planting. However, this is the real life and we have never actually done that. We always intend to do just that, but by the end of the growing season we are tired and ready to be finished for a bit.

We do allow our chickens to come behind and help us to clean up the bed. While they are eating the leftover plants and bugs, they are also providing our beds with good manure.
We then let our beds set for the winter time. Next in the spring, it will be time to till them back up and add any extra dirt needed to them. We have a wonderful source of composted horse manure. By the time it gets to our farm, it looks like the prettiest dirt you have ever seen. The down side to it is that we have to drive almost 40 minutes to load it. Then once we are there, we have to shovel enough to fill the back of our truck. One truck load will fill one raised bed. We have 10 raised beds so that is a lot of shoveling! Last year we didn't add any of the new dirt into our beds at all. We were busy with baseball and Michael was working extra shifts. We just grew in what we had, and it was fine. We did add some amendments to our soil which included some green sand and mushroom compost. This does get expensive so we try not to get too carried away with all the extras. After all, we need food that doesn't cost us a lot of money in the end.
After adding any extras to our bed, we then till it again. We are then ready to add our drip works water hoses. This year I plan on using plastic to cover our beds. I will use a knife or bulb digger and cut out places for my plants. The soaker hoses will be under the plastic. This is suppose to help control weeds. I spent more hours than I care to admit weeding my garden last year. I will bite the bullet and spend a little extra for the plastic this growing season.
We would be busy getting our beds ready if our animals were out of our backyard. Instead we are busy trying to finish our fence so we can move our animals. There is still plenty of time so I am not hitting the panic button just yet. It doesn't hurt that the temps dropped again this past week. Remember, I am a fair weather farmer and I don't like to be out in the cold!
In our area, most gardeners plow up their garden in the month of February. This is suppose to help with weed control in the growing season as well as bug control. When you plow the ground, it causes many of the bugs to be turned over to the top of the soil. This exposes them to the cold weather and helps to kill them out before spring. We haven't plowed our potato garden. Our tractor isn't working and we haven't even decided for sure where we even want to plant our potatoes. I am sure we will need to make this decision in the next week because the potatoes will arrive sometime before the end of the month!!!
grace and peace,

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Farm coming Back to Life

I love spring because it is time for the sleepy life of winter to pass and the vivid life of spring to return. I do not like the teasing that comes with the beginning of spring. We have beautiful weather for several days and then out of no where the cold sneaks up without warning. Back and forth like a tug-a-war between spring and winter. We are all shouting for spring to emerge victorious, and eventually she does. However, we still have to endure the harsh breath of winter until spring wins the final battle.

Today we are experiencing the winter's cold breath after many days of sunshine. I spent yesterday morning enjoying reading and praying on the deck. This morning I was looking for a quilt to wrap around me in the heated living room! It will continue this way for several more weeks. Then spring will muster up all of her strength and she will push winter completely out of the game. But for today, I think I will stay inside and bake something nice and warm!

grace and peace,

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

To Plant (Seeds) or Not to Plant that is the Question

I have had a lot of phone calls lately from people who know that I garden. I have to smile because I remember when we first started and I called Tnfarmgirl every other day for garden help. The first question that has come my way these past few days has been, "How do I know which plants to grow from seeds or which ones to grow from purchased plants?" When we first started gardening, I had to purchase my plants because I didn't have any grow lights. I watched the feed stores and Lowes, and when they started putting out plants I would purchase them. In the spring, the broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower plants would be displayed. I noticed that they didn't have any lettuce plants. I realized that lettuce is easy to grow from seeds so that is generally why lettuce plants are not found in the store. Lettuce, spinach, and carrots can be direct sowed in the garden. (Direct sowing means that you get your soil ready to plant and then you sprinkle the seeds into it and cover them up to let them grow). I suppose you could direct sow broccoli, but I have never done this. It is much easier to purchase broccoli plants. It makes the harvest quicker too.

Here is my list of things that I plant NOW using seeds directly sowed into the ground:

lettuce of all kinds





Here are the things that I grow NOW from plants purchased from the feed store or Lowe's or that I have grown under the grow lights in our shop:




Romaine lettuce (these are grown as individual plants not sprinkled out like the other type of non head lettuces)

I also purchase onion sets from the store for green onions. Potatoes are grown from seed potatoes. This would be directly planted into the ground as well. I will do another complete post on potato planting around the end of March. That is when we will be planting our potatoes.

Keep in mind these are the items that I am interested in for my spring garden. I will do another list for my summer garden soon. Have I left out something that you plant in your spring garden? If so, please leave a comment so we can add it to the list.

grace and peace,


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Meet Lambert

This is Lambert. We noticed this past weekend that this little guy wasn't doing well. He is very thin and he was having a hard time doing much of anything. We quickly took him from the flock and started working with him. First, we gave him a dose of worm medicine. We do not worm our animals on a continual schedule. We wait until we see evidence of worms and then medicate them. This way healthy animals are not being treated unnecessarily. We have had a few sheep show signs of worms so we medicated them all. We also gave him a shot of antibiotics. We didn't know for sure if that would help, but it was better than losing him. I think his problem was lack of nutrition. His mother's milk sac looked completely dried up and I think he wasn't getting water.

He was so weak that we had to hand feed him corn. He would eat it if we put it in his mouth, but he wouldn't eat it from the ground. We tried giving him a bottle, but he wouldn't have anything to do with that. We brought him a bowl of water and hand fed him corn several times a day.

He is always happy to see us coming to get him. Jacob and him are big buddies now. After two days of extra attention, he is strong enough to be out eating grass with the other sheep. We are still bringing him to the front yard to make sure he gets his portion of corn, but we no longer have to feed it to him kernel by kernel. I think he is going to make it, and now I am more quick to look at all the lambs. Just because they are two months old doesn't mean that we can forget about them. Raising lambs in the winter is much different than raising them in the summer. We are new to this whole animal raising thing so I feel like our poor lambs are our learning curve. We are learning something new with each new birth, but sometimes it is at the expense of the life of the lamb. We won't make the same mistakes twice, but I would rather not make them at all.

This girl has been spending a lot of time here on our farm. She is smitten with our oldest son. She really enjoys the animals. She spent about 5 minutes with the new chicks and had already named several of them. She was then able to identify the ones she named. I suggested that she stick to naming the colored birds. She was unsure why I would instruct her to do that, but when I told her that most of the yellow birds would be eaten she quickly understood. She is the one who broke the farm rule this past weekend. She took one look at the weak lamb that we were nursing back to health and declared that HIS name shall be Lambert. I am afraid that she has become quite attached to the little guy. I don't have the heart to tell her not to befriend the boy lambs. Perhaps we can divert her attention to a nice girl lamb instead. She does love Angel. She fed her bottles every time she was at our home. This is the same girl that got a hen thrown at her the first time she came to our home. You can read more about that here

grace and peace,

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Sunday Scripture

"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." John 10:10

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Saturday Fun

Saturday's are almost always an enjoyable day for me. Either it is a play day or it is a work day, but either way I usually enjoy what is accomplished. Often times, it is both play and work. Today is no different. This morning will find the men of our family at a local fundraising basketball tournament. Hope and I will spend our morning cleaning up the house. The afternoon will find us preparing to meet friends down at the creek for a good old fashion birthday grill out. This is the first fun outside activity for the season and I am looking forward to the warmer temps and just being OUTSIDE. I was asked to whip up some things for dessert. I am thinking about making some homemade chocolate ice cream and some cookies for the event.

grace and peace,

Friday, March 06, 2009

Getting Ready for Bed

The other evening I decided to take a nice bubble bath. You know the kind that helps calm the nerves and gets you ready for a cozy night of sleep. I put on my pretty silky pajamas and I even took the time to put lotion on my dry skin. Alas, I was ready for bed. As I walked into our bedroom, this is what I find.
The entire family was piled in or beside our bed. I thought maybe they had even brought Angel the house lamb upstairs and placed her in our bed. They didn't go that far, but the English Mastiff was plotting how to throw the teenager out of the bed and replace him with her warm snugly body.

Apparently for whatever reason the daddy of the bunch was making his famous monkey face. It is pretty humorous and he usually won't do it for cameras or outside people. It is just a face for his dear sweet family that always brings much howling and laughter. Our 4 year old was trying his best to mimic his daddy, but alas nobody in our family can make the monkey face quite like the patriarch.

More laughter and wrestling and playing and laughing took place. My relaxing bubble bath had worn off by this time, but it sure is nice to see everybody together having a great time. This kind of stuff is what families are made of, and it is what makes our family so close. I just wish it could happen first thing in the morning instead of the last thing at night!!!!
grace and peace,

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Chicks Have Arrived

Our chicks were scheduled to arrive yesterday. When I didn't get my 6:00 a.m. phone call from the post office, I was a little worried. I called the post office to make sure they hadn't forgot to call, but they let me know that there were no chicks there for me. I contacted the hatchery and they let me know that they were shipped out as scheduled which meant they got held up in the postal system. The hatchery assured me that they would replace any chicks lost due to this problem. They have sent several emails wanting to know if the chicks had arrived. This morning I awoke to the sound of the telephone. It was the post office telling me to come get my chicks. I could hear the little chicks chirping in the background.
They came in this box. All 80 of them snuggled together to stay warm.

Michael constructed a pen for them in his shop. We will keep them in there for awhile until we are certain that the weather will stay warm enough for them and that they are strong enough to go in the outside coop. Having them downstairs also makes it easier to care for them for the first few days.
We mixed up sugar water to give them a boost and help get them started. I put one third heaping cup of sugar to a quart of water. This should help them gain the energy that was lost during the shipping process.
On another farm note, Angel, the house lamb, spent her first night outside. She woke me up crying at about 3:00 a.m. She didn't stop crying until sometime after 5:00 a.m. Did I mention that having a farm can cause loss of sleep???? Not to worry though, I do enjoy a good cup of java...and today I am sure I will enjoy several!
grace and peace,

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A Taste of Spring

Lemon Bars

Grease 9x13 pan. Preheat oven to 350. Combine the following ingredients and mix until well blended. Pour into greased pan and bake for about 30 minutes or until light golden brown.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup soften butter
4 eggs
2 teaspoons lemon extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Once the lemon bars have baked, pierce them with a fork and make the following glaze. Pour glaze on the bars while bars are hot.

2 cups powder sugar
4 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

These bars are very soft. If you need to cut them to serve, make them the day before. They will cut easier if you let them set for a day. They are wonderful...never mind the fact that you will probably gain 5 pounds when eating!!!!!

grace and peace,

Spring Spring Come Again

I try very hard not to complain, but I am OVER winter. I am so ready for the beauty of spring to come into our corner of the world. I know it is just around the corner. I have already seen the daffodils poke up their pretty little yellow heads, but winter seems to be hanging on by a thread. Our temps are suppose to be warming up by the middle of the week. I am ready for the house lamb to move out to the barn full time. Well, honestly I wouldn't care if she lived in the shop forever, but my husband is ready for her to be an outside pet. I just didn't want to put her outside with the temps being in the teens at night. Our chicks are scheduled to arrive tomorrow morning. We will be putting them in the shop until we are sure the weather is warm enough for them to stay in the chicken coop with the heat lamp. We will go from hearing 'baaaing" to "chirping" . That is o.k. I like the sounds the animals make.

I was rather frustrated last night when I went into the shop to water my plants that are under the grow lights. My broccoli plants have become very leggy. I am a bit unsure as the reason for this other than I haven't been as faithful to water them as I should. In my world, out of sight means out of mind sometimes. I repotted as many as I thought were worth saving...not near as many as I had hoped. I will probably try again this week. With the chicks down in the shop chirping for water and food, perhaps this time I will remember that plants need watering too!

Because I am so over winter and so ready for spring, I made one of my favorite spring desserts on Sunday. I will share the recipe with you maybe today or tomorrow depending on time. So check back for a taste of spring soon!

grace and peace,


Monday, March 02, 2009

Italian Beef

Here is a picture of one of our favorite quick meals ready to go into the oven. This Italian Beef makes great sub sandwiches. It is super easy and it is wonderful left over. I have even frozen the extras before and it does just fine. Hope you enjoy!

3 pound Rump Roast
1 Tablespoon salt (I cut this back to a little more than a half tablespoon)
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1 Tablespoon dried basil
2 minced garlic cloves
1 Tablespoon pickling spice
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups water

Place roast in a glass baking dish. Add remaining ingredients and cover with foil. Bake at 350 for 3 hours. Remove from oven and let roast rest for about 15 minutes. Shred roast or slice it thin depending on your likes, and place back in the juice. Saute green peppers and onions. If your entire family likes green pepper and onions, then add them all directly to the shredded meat and stir. If not all likes the green peppers and onions, serve them on the side. Serve meat and juice on hoggie rolls. These subs are great with homemade french fries or chips. I also like to add jalapenos peppers and provolone cheese to my sandwich. Don't forget the pickle on the side!!!

grace and peace,

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Sunday Scripture

"For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." Habakkuk 2:14