homesteading

I say those words far, far too often. In my case, it’s about twice a week, which may or may not sound as ridiculous to you as it does to me. But for as many years as I’ve worked towards decreasing my dependence on the supermarket, here I still am. I find it not only a great nuisance, but also wasteful. And dangerous. Anytime you *need* to go to the store means that it is a day your family better not get hit with a hurricane. Like illness. Like a pink slip. Like an injury. Or…a real hurricane.

 

I was thinking about this during lunch today. I sent the children outside to play while I put it together, and it ended up as something…well…”put together.”

 

Store (In)Dependence

 

I began with leftover sauce and bits of meat from last night’s crockpot. Then I added white beans I had soaked last night and cooked up this morning. Looking into the fridge, I found a bit of leftover chicken and leftover peas. I added freeze-dried bell peppers, dehydrated celery and onions, and powdered garlic. It all became a very full–and filling–pot of soup for our lunch. It felt a bit like Carly Emery‘s “Independence Days”, days in which her family could eat without going to the store. It is pretty close to how I imagine my grandmother ate: using up what she had, eating from her pantry, eating in season and from what she preserved. Given that she lived her whole life in a remote Greek village, she could “need to go to the store” all she wanted…but there was none, except a small shop I remember old men liked to gather in at chess tables. It sold cigarettes and probably ouzo. I don’t even know how she fed her hens and dairy animals (feed store? what feed store?), but I suppose that is pondering material for another blog post.

 

Would your kids eat the soup I made? If times got really tough, would you know how to make food like that? Do you know how to use your pantry (and would anything be in it?), and how to cook from leftovers (food you didn’t toss or forget about)? Could you bake a loaf of bread from a handful of wheat berries?

 

I am not where I want to be in this, obviously, because as thankful as I am for the opportunity and time and means, once or twice a week to the store IS ridiculous because it means opportunity lost for other endeavors, time lost to travel and shopping, and money spent that could have been saved or otherwise better stewarded.

 

Do you–like me– “need to go to the store” quite a lot? Does it concern you at all to be so dependent upon that store being there, it being open, your having a means to get there and back, and the money to spend there, and that it would have exactly what your family needed exactly when your family needed it? If any of those things failed, what would you all eat?

 

I will share with you what I’ve done so far for my own family to decrease our dependence on the store, and then confess *why* I still find myself there too much even now.

 

Grains and legumes are easy to store and they last a long time. Prepared properly, they are nutritious and filling. Because we like baked goods, I also store wheat, salt, baking powder, and honey. I have a good store of both baker’s yeast and sourdough starters. If I couldn’t leave the house for whatever reason, we could still eat for quite a while.

 

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I store a lot of seasonings, but the key here is that I store much of what I use a lot of. Every year I dehydrate and powder a quart or more of garlic and oregano. I also keep thyme, onion, cinnamon and nutmeg. My aunt in Arizona once sent me a quart of dehydrated mixed chili peppers; yum yum yum! Buying seasonings in bulk or dehydrating your own is very inexpensive. Buying little cans of unique seasonings for a one-time recipe is very expensive, but you don’t have to create everything yourself. Just make sure to have on hand what your family likes best.

 

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A few years ago I started experimenting with freeze-dried foods. They’ve come in very handy for those times I didn’t have what I wanted, and I wanted to avoid a trip to the store. The bell peppers in our soup today came from such a can.

 

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Another experiment of mine was to prepare ready-meals. It seems like the majority of the store is exactly that: ready meals and ready breads and ready salads and ready everything! There have been pah-lenty of times our family has gotten home late from wherever or just didn’t have the money *today* and the fridge was an echo chamber. I got the idea from Jennifer Ess and so far, we’ve liked most of what we’ve tried. I like that any of my kids could grab a jar or two, add water, let it all simmer and voila, a decent meal is served.

 

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My chest freezer is a blessing. I realize that if we lose power, I’m going to be canning and dehydrating a whole lot in a short amount of time *if* I have the jars (another thing to prepare…), but in the meantime, this freezer has been an excellent place for me to keep an entire grassfed cow, dozens of homegrown chicken, and plenty of fish. Before we said goodbye to the last of our goats, we stored up plenty of goat milk to either drink or use for soap, too.

 

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Another thing I store is plenty of herbs. We use them for our medicine and in preparations for the body (soap, shampoo, oils, etc). I love having my own full medicine cabinets!

 

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So, what’s missing and why am I STILL going to the store? For me, it’s a lack of canned and preserved PRODUCE. I love to prepare and eat everything fresh, and if I’m not getting it from the garden, I’m going to the store. Furthermore, I have yet to harvest a goodly amount to preserve….so far, my perennials and fruit trees are too young to do much more than feed us during the growing season. And, worse, I confess I’ve been far too lazy to buy up that big box of apples or pears in season and to spend the hours needed to put them away. This is a serious blunder on my part. The truth is that if I spent my hours PRESERVING what is currently very accessible in my area (via the store, or farmer’s markets, or the farm down the street…), I would have more time on my hands than is spent by my trying to grow everything myself. My garden will not go away (that’s an extra measure of food security), but I need to be more thoughtful and diligent in my PRESERVATION of fruits and vegetables, so that I can clearly have no other real reason to go to the store other than because I *want* to and not because it’s getting into afternoon and oh-dear-supper’s-due and now I *have* to.

 

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One last thought. When you are working towards building up your pantry, it is important to USE your supplies. LEARN to cook those beans, LEARN to use up those scraps of leftovers, LEARN to cook from scratch and so forth. Otherwise, it is not only a waste of resources and time, it will be tremendously stressful if that day ever comes when going to the store on a whim isn’t even a possibility. Is that likely to happen? I don’t know. I don’t put that possibility at a “zero” however, and so we work towards those coveted independence days.

 

Blessings,

{ 5 comments }

On Goal(s) Setting

January 4, 2014 · 5 comments

Isaiah 52:12   For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the LORD will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward. 

I love the beginning of a new year much as I love Mondays. Fresh starts. New days. Hope.

In setting goals for the day or week or month or year…it is good to remember that we need not go forth in haste, nor in fear. The Lord will go, He has gone, before us, laying down foundations and putting things in order for the times to come. Some of those things will be good. Some will be trial. But all will be for our edification and sanctification and will strengthen us by His hand.

I tend to want my goals done yesterday. I tend to want to hurry the learning process or complete things in great haste, lest enthusiasm withers or disasters strike all because I was not ready or diligent or thoughtful or persistent. It does my heart good to know the Lord is already ahead of me, and I can rest in the seemingly insignificant mileage I put forth today.

My word of the year is CHOOSE. I want to choose the narrow way, the road less traveled, the things that seem small and unimportant and commonplace. I want to remember that in this country that remains (relatively) free, I still have many choices to serve the Lord and my family, and I want to CHOOSE wisely.

Do you have goals written out for the year? I wrote mine in the front of my desk calendar, selecting areas I desired to give attention to.

2014 goals

 

One of my goals has been to translate my daily journal writing into other forms, and to practice drawing and lettering. Taking Gina’s class at last year’s Art and Soul Retreat was wonderful; she taught me how to use a year-long planner to practice art journaling in little bites. I’m a little bites kind of gal; I sort of pick at projects here and there, little by little. In my book I practice with watercolors, colored pencils, collage, washi tape, and ephemera.

 

goals 2014

 

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This is the week I’m currently on; it’s half-finished. I know how easy it is to be wowed by finished art pictures (or home and garden pictures for that matter). What you usually don’t see is the pain of hours of pulling wire or the time of relaxed pencil coloring or how many appliances were stashed under the beds before the pictures were taken. Whatever your goals are, it’s here a little, there a little.

 

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I’m a journaler at heart, so of course I began *another* journal. I think I have five going now. This one–another date book–I’m using for keeping track of my goals, that is, what did I do today to further them? I think looking back on those notes will help me when I feel like I’m *never* going to meet my goals (do you ever feel that way?)

And I’m also using it for my Bible studies, drawing or copying scripture from the readings I’m doing that day and week. Currently I’m reading Isaiah (I read cover to cover and then begin again). It is a perfect fit for me to try to translate what I’m reading into pictures and letter work; it helps me to not only meditate on the Word, but to remember it. These pages are only half done.

 

 

Bible study art journal

 

In other news, the homestead’s awfully quiet without our dairy goats, but it’s been a good rest. Sometimes you just need to clear the deck to rethink and re-vision what it is you want your family to be about doing. As for us, and I’m sure for many of you, the economy hasn’t been the most kind and we’re once again considering selling our home. My husband and I have dubbed 2014 the “year of decision” as what happens during this time with his business will make those sorts of decisions absolutely decisive and less of a choice. It’s one reason my podcast has been quiet lately….we’re not sure what to say other than, “Gee, things are really tough right now…..” It is one of the beauties of being in the Word, though, because I know I have a sure foundation no matter what happens.

 

In the meantime, I’m reading like crazy. I have three piles of books in my bedroom alone, mostly nonfiction. And because my outside chores have–mostly–gone away, I have extra time to cultivate other interests, such as playing with wool and other fibers. Good thing, too, because eight weeks of getting slapped down with sciatic pain has really slowed me down (including my metabolism but that’s another story).

 

goals 2014

 

Do you have goals for the new year? Do you have a way of picking at them, and of recording the little steps you do take, to fight that disappointment later that whispers of quitting? You can do it. You really can. The Lord has gone before you. Keep your eyes on Him and let Him lead.

 

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Blessings,

{ 5 comments }

If There’s an Empty Barn, Rejoice

November 11, 2013

Habakkuk 3:17-18   Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God […]

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Longing for Your Dream? Practice.

November 7, 2013

I’ve been thinking, that in my quest to live a quiet(er) life, too often I think of my YiaYia and the little two room house she lived in, as if turning Waldonesque would center my heart.  I realize, logically, that this is not so, that discontent is not easily assuaged by change in circumstance or […]

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What to Do While Floundering

August 6, 2013

Or not.  This is what *I’ve* been doing.   Ever since we tried to sell our house and then took it off the dumpy market, I’ve been turning it all upside down and redecorating, repainting, replanting, re-re-re-thinking about how to make the house I was (and still am, in a sense) ready to walk away […]

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You Don’t Have to DI(all)Y

May 31, 2013

Acts 9:6  …Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?     It was a little too much for me, this small little post I came across.  It endeavored to teach me how to make *something* in my kitchen from scratch.  Now, I’m not even going to say what *it* was because probably someone in these parts […]

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How to Build Awareness

May 10, 2013

I was talking with some friends yesterday about how our drive for getting things *done* sometimes makes our awareness of needs–and blessings–in front of us sorely lacking.  The problem is that as often as we push past cultivating awareness of our surroundings (and the people in them), that God-given sense of ours becomes dull.  Really, […]

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Living the Forgotten Way Lifestyle

December 3, 2012
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Podcast: Play in new window | Download   Daniel and Abby Jo are joining us to share their off-grid experiences with living the Forgotten Way.  You’re sure to enjoy their story!     Daniel and Abby Jo are no longer blogging, but you can still find their website here.   The Grandpa Jakes Campfire Cooker […]

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Basic Herbs in My Home

November 15, 2012

It’s that time of year when harvest is closed and the dark and cold outside foster rejuvenation of mind and body.  It’s a time to find quiet, catch up on reading, pick up the knitting needles (or scrapbooking…or whatever…) again and take advantage of more hours to sleep.  For me, it’s also a time to […]

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Heirloom

November 11, 2012

My YaYa, brother and I bringing bread to the oven. We crawled up the mountain on gravel roads for hours, slowly snaking up in the midst of dirt and brush and the odd dilapidated auto meeting us on the downhill.  The passage was narrow and guardrails would have been pointless anyway.  I remember the crunch […]

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The Reality of Living Off the Grid

September 21, 2012
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Podcast: Play in new window | Download Meet my off-grid friend! Bugging out to live off the grid sounds very intriguing, especially in our current economy with our need to simplify and downsize.  But what is it really like?  Listen in on the conversation I had with a young mother, telling me a bit of […]

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Busy, Busy, Dreadfully Busy…

September 13, 2012

Aren’t we all?   I dislike being so busy.  You know, I haven’t worn a watch in at least 15 years, so maybe it’s time to chuck the calendar as well because I can’t seem to just have a week with nothing on it.  Oh, it’s not full of bad things at all, and much […]

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Post-Due Date Waiting

April 28, 2012

Well, here I still am, now six days after my “due date” for baby number seven.  It’s nothing new to me, this waiting for a “late” baby to show up; in fact, baby number five decided to wait a whopping 18 days (and he packed on the pounds to prove it, at 10lb 15oz).  The […]

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Raising (and Butchering!) Your Own Meat Animals

April 11, 2012
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Ever think about raising and butchering your own meat animals? Join me as I interview my friend Sonja to hear her experiences and advice. Warning: there may be some parts you might get "ick-ed" about!

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Healing a Duck After An Attack

March 29, 2012

*UPDATE*  This morning, the 30th, our last duck, our “one tough duck” Handsome, died.  We are all sick about it.  But we’re reminded how awful death really is, and how Jesus conquered death.  Someday, someday soon, death will die.   It’s never a good sign when my kids come pounding on the kitchen door with […]

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Nesting 2.0

March 24, 2012

That’s what my husband calls it, anyway, this full throttle attempt at designing and uploading a brand new website before the end of the month (no pressure, just one more week to go aaahhhhh!).  I haven’t done this since I started blogging in 2006, when I taught myself a lot of html coding from dissecting […]

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A Day in My Life, Part 1

February 2, 2012

Evening to Morning T’wasn’t so long ago I was looking at someone’s blogsite and sighing over the fact that it looked like this writer was miles ahead further than me, headed where I wanted to go. But then I came across what her day was like and decided that not only was she living far […]

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Natural Face and Skin Cream, Part Two

January 12, 2012

Well, I was so excited about the fabulous cream I made last night that I wanted to share it with you pronto!  And then….something was nagging at me….like….didn’t I blog about that before? YEP.  You can read how I did it here.  So I guess that makes this post “Part Two”. But…seeing as how I […]

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A Walk Around a Pacific Northwest Garden

August 19, 2011

Want to take a walk with me around our gardens?  We’ve got the goat milked and the hens let out and all of the animals are happily watered and fed.  Let’s grab the point-n-shoot and head out…. Yes, what you see here is a real miracle:  tomatoes growing in the Pacific Northwest: And a squash […]

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Pastured Poultry From Your Backyard

June 17, 2011
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In this podcast my husband and I share about how we raised and butchered our own meat hens. We didn't grow up farming, we're not experts, but with help from the internet and a "just do it" attitude, we did it and are so happy with the results. Believe me, if we can do this, you can too.

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Late Spring This-n-That

June 13, 2011

Here is some catch-up on what’s going around my home and farm-ette.  Flowers are coming into bloom, including the unusual pink lilic tree; what an intoxicating introduction to spring.  I love wandering to and fro through the garden and smelling nature’s perfume wafting from the newest blooms.  The apple blossoms are finished, and sweet rocket […]

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Sense-Full

May 24, 2011

I was thinking today of some beautiful things I am lately filling my senses with. For one, I’m writing in a journal I bought from this company, Legacy.   The paper feels so nice to the hand, the cover is lovely to the eye, but I must admit the pen was replaced!  I miss writing […]

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Morning at a Happy Home and Farm-ette

April 25, 2011

Morning these days is glorious. The air just smells so spring with salty sea air filtering through the woods and daffodils perfuming the air. If I could put a scratch and sniff on all of your computer screens, I would. Want to come join me for a bit this morning? We’re outside first thing because […]

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Early Spring

April 7, 2011

Early spring around here, weather-wise, means rain showers with peeks of sun, cloud covers and intermittent hail and snowflakes. It also means indoor handwork slows down and outside chores pick up. Here are some pics of other things going on around home and farm-ette. I was at the store about to buy a bouquet of […]

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Rainy Day Homesteading

March 15, 2011

Here in the Pacific Northwest we’ve had deluges of rain. We not only got puddles in our front pasture, we got ponds and rivers! I have to admit it’s been a blessing because I’ve been focused on getting the inside jobs completed before spring. But the peas will be late this year, already, as it’s […]

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A Soap Making Craze

November 2, 2010

Maybe if I stay busy enough I won’t spend time wondering if I’m sad enough. Isn’t that weird? You all are so kind to me; thank you thank you thank you. I haven’t even deleted any emails yet; rereading your words and hymns is a great comfort. So, I’ve been on a soap making craze, […]

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Mushroom Hunting

September 28, 2010

A young woman I know mentioned that she liked to go “mushroom hunting” and so, being ever so my timid self (ha), I immediately asked if I could tag along! After all, we live in the woods, so I wanted to learn about the food growing there in my own backyard. She was just as […]

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You Don’t Need 5 Acres…

September 16, 2010

…to bake up a batch of fresh bagels. Unless you want to grow the wheat for the flour. Homemade bagels smell and taste ridiculously delicious, and they are not that hard to make. It involves preparing the dough and rolling them into circles the night before, refrigerating it, and then boiling and baking in the […]

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Milk From (Your!) Front Yard

September 6, 2010
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Well, if you have the space....why not? In this podcast I'll share about the benefits of whole, raw milk, share an interview I did with my cow-owning friend, and tell you about my own dairy goats. As usual, my husband pipes in at the end. If you can grow lettuce, you can milk an animal.

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Living Slow

August 29, 2010

Every now and again I wonder what everyone is rushing all about life for. Usually I think of this while watching traffic, knowing that each multi-thousand steel encasement has at least one person in it with places to go and things to do. And because of the stainless bubble surrounding said person, there is opportunity […]

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Real Life Happens Outside of the Computer

July 30, 2010

This is from our road trip; the scenery was beautiful! Life’s been so full lately that I am hardly missing my online world! My computer time has been almost nonexistant, and my blogs unread and unfollowed. Other than tweeting with my friends and answering a few emails a day, it’s been pretty quiet (for me!). […]

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Opening Day at the Farmer’s Market

May 4, 2010

Our family decided to take part in our community’s farmer’s market last Saturday for opening day. We didn’t have a lot to sell, but it was still a great experience. I had to come up with a name for our farm (if you can call our mini-homestead a “farm”), so I named it Sweet Pea […]

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Babies on the Farm-ette

April 18, 2010

Well, trying to breed our doe milk goats twice in the past year has resulted in nothing more than a couple of contented goats making our pasture picturesque. After weighing our options, we decided that what we would add a buck to our small herd to avoid yet another trip to the breeders across a […]

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Possess and Dwell

February 6, 2010

1 Corinthians 11:22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? I’m a homemaking, homesteading, homeschooling wife and mother of six who, even with all of the work that goes on around here, sometimes wonders at the end of the day, “Where did my day go?!” And I admit that when I […]

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Naturally Reared Animals

January 21, 2010

Nothing in human nature is so God-like as the disposition to do good to our fellow-creatures.Samuel Richardson I am so thankful to the Lord for the privilege of keeping and raising a variety of animals. It is hard work, but the pleasure of being around them is but a partial return that includes meat, milk […]

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More Homemade Seasonings

December 15, 2009

After my stint of garlic powder making, I was totally hooked on making our own seasonings. Never mind that most of our garlic powder now comes from China (and this writer makes some interesting observations about that); the color, smell and flavor of freshly made seasonings is out of this world. This only matters if […]

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Meet Our New Puppy

November 25, 2009

We have a new puppy and he is keeping me very busy! He was 8 1/2 weeks old when we picked him up, and he is settling in nicely. We never even had one night of whining from him, amazingly. I love the feel of his fur; it is so wooly! And dirt just dries […]

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Making Soap

November 17, 2009

I’m really not opposed to buying soap from the store, but I get satisfaction in understanding the process of how to make it and also in doing it “my way”. Also, I get an amazing amount of soap from a short stint in the kitchen! I like just following directions and recipes rather than trying […]

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Harvesting Honey

October 31, 2009

Well, I waited long enough to do this. First of all, I’ve never done any of this before. Second, I was so in awe over the whole process I didn’t want anyone to miss how beautiful the frames looked. And to harvest the first year! What joy! I showed the frames to everyone who visited, […]

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Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

October 7, 2009

I believe it was Matthew Henry who said something akin to when God sends mouths, He sends meat. We have seen this time and again in terms of provision in all things, and are so thankful for every bit of it. Lately, we’ve been drowning in bananas of all things. A friend of ours works […]

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Rewards of the County Fair

September 5, 2009

We participated once again in the annual county fair. It was a week of long hours, daily driving, and hard work. Every day I packed up six children and spent long periods of time on the fairgrounds, keeping my baby happy and my toddler corralled while the older children swept barns, greeted guests, and showed […]

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Barn Building

August 16, 2009

We’re currently building a small barn for our dairy goats. My husband has never built a barn before, but is doing very well using his knowledge of construction to make it happen. And me? I’ve never milked a goat in my life and although I’m enjoying the animals themselves (they’re so sweet!), my confidence isn’t […]

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