homesteading

When nothing is sure, everything is possible.

Margaret Drabble

 

Downsizing isn’t finished around here and has become more difficult. What to keep? What to get rid of? I crave the space but cling to the craziest things…like my lesson plan books I used when I was teaching 17+ years ago! But they were so good, I think, it was so fun… But I have never used any of those things in homeschooling, and even if I were to go back to teaching in a public school (not likely), I would do things differently.

 

But there they were: notebooks of photos, lesson plans, schedules, etc. and etc. (and etc.) I thought about giving them to someone and I thought about making up some nifty ebook about *whatever* from it all, but I finally just chucked them. I’ve also been going through all of our homeschooling books and curriculum. I have used so many different approaches, different books, different work texts…it just made up for a lot of books and things that not only took up space, but collected dust (literally). A friend taught me how to sell books on Amazon and woo-whee have I been making a lot of trips to the post office to mail books! I tell you what: it doesn’t hurt as bad to get paid to downsize! Slowly, slowly, I am consolidating my books to the ones I reference often, or reread. I figure if it’s just attracting more dust, I am blessing my children ahead of time with less to deal with later when I die.

 

Here are some other areas I am consolidating. Consider this a “7 Tips To Downsize!” with “BONUS 3 more for free!” without the annoying ads or pleadings to join my email list. (You’re welcome. But do join my email list :) )

  • recipes: I know I don’t need 50 cookbooks, but that is what I’ve downsized to at this point (I know…it’s a sickness…). Any cookbook I kept for only one or two recipes went buh-bye and those recipes got copied into my recipe box. Someday I will go through that recipe box and flick out every card that hasn’t seen the light of kitchen workspace into the garbage can. And someday I will then downsize my cookbooks again (and again) until I can happily have…I dunno…five? I am finding that the library has a bazillion cookbooks I can try out, so that’s my plan for fresh inspiration when I need it. And then–wouldn’t it be cool?–I can type up all of my consolidated recipes into a personal cookbook!
  • art/craft/sewing instructions: so.many.tutorials. All just waiting for the nebulous time I’ll get to it “later” but you know what? Whenever I get that “later” time, I always find something else I’d rather do. But just looking at all of this stuff makes me long to make this or create that and promise myself (again and again and again) that I will get to it. So now I *am* getting to it…by letting most of it get-to-gone.
  • art supplies: I love art journaling and have started my second book. But I find that I am using the same materials over and over again, and I have a whole lotta of maybe-someday-meh things that are pretty to look at but I’m tired of maintaining and organizing. In fact, I am sick of “organizing”. I don’t care how well I do it; it still means s.t.u.f.f. I’m tired of plastic bins, shelves, binders, and drawers. Most of my art things happily went to an artsy friend of mine.
  • herbal recipes: I am an herbalist and have scraps of paper everywhere with recipes and notes on them. I am consolidating them all into two books: one for recipes and my own materia medica, and one for lecture and class notes. Once my lectures notebook is full (it’s almost there), I will just use the other one for everything.
  • photographs: I love Shutterfly, and manage all of our photographs there. One day I’d like to consolidate all of the old photographs into a digital book, but spending time on the computer is definitely not my thing (I’ll forgo the rabbit trail of where I see this blog going for right now…). What I’ve done with my loose photographs is gone through various stacks and tossed the extras. For example, when I came across photos for a holiday event, I tossed all of the repetitive or otherwise unworthy-to-be-saved pictures. Do I need 15 photographs of a child in various poses in a single outfit? I think not.
  • clothing: I am terrible with my closet. It’s not that I have too many clothes; I have very little. I’ve been trying to gather clothes according to some mathematical number (have so-many shirts, etc.) but I’ve since decided that I need *outfits* for certain days. I need a “going out” outfit, a “gardening” outfit, a “clean the house” outfit, etc. This is easier for me to manage; I can just grab Monday’s clothes. Mathematically, I guess that means like “ten outfits”, giving some flexibility to the week.
  • time: I’m always trying to arrange my time to give priority to what I feel is most important, letting go of *extra* tasks and outings that are not fueling my main purpose at this season in my life.
  • homeschooling: From many different curriculums, to joining together as one group. Finally. My oldest is 17 and I feel like I’ve finally come to peace with how we homeschool. Combining grammar with Bible with reading with writing with history and so on. Everyone working at their own levels, and with time to pursue their own interests. I know….because you’ve been asking…I need to write a homeschooling post or do a podcast on it. But I’m too busy homeschooling ;)
  • gardening: Well, it’s certainly easier to consolidate my gardening when there isn’t much to do! The old house we were in had never-ending (although satisfying) garden work, and this current house has kept us so busy with repairs and upgrades that I haven’t been able to spend time OR money outside in the kitchen garden. The raised beds desperately need to be weeded of morning glory and buttercup, and it seems so daunting. Furthermore, I need dirt and compost but seriously cannot find anyone to bring me $50 worth of soil. So do I want a dump truck delivered with a tremendous amount of extra for $364? I am soooooo thankful for our CSA down the street and cannot wait for the first box this upcoming weekend.
  • kitchen: One drawer or shelf at a time, that’s how it’s done. Do I really use 12 wooden spoons? No, I use the same 3 all of the time. Do I use my soup tureen? No, I just use the pot, even with guests. And so on…

One thing we just consolidated was the time we spend on our hens. I get the great idea of a chicken tractor and we’ve used one for many, many years. But it is falling apart, and it is daily work that takes time. I was ready for a simple coop with access to the outside pasture. Thankfully, we were blessed with a gentleman that gave us his labor and time in exchange for playing with his baby (and such a sweet baby!). So, he put up some gates in our yards to keep our toddlers safe and then built us a small coop to put the hens in at night. He also relieved us of our wasted feed problem. I am immensely grateful to him and wish he could continue to work for us, but he has his own homestead to work on.

 

Here is our easier chicken work load; isn’t it pretty? The duck house is in front of it; we brought that from our old house. The ducks free range, too. Having a livestock guardian dog is a very nice way to keep predators away.

 

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The inside has crates for the nest boxes which will be far easier to clean than the wooden ones we had in the tractor. And there is PVC pipe for a continuous, clean, non-waste feed source, and branches for the roosts. We still need to set up a watering system, reinforce the bottom to discourage digging varmints, and put in bedding for the bottom.

 

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I can’t say I love downsizing. The *idea* is great, but the work is hard. It’s not the difficulty of taking stuff out, although there is work in that. It is more of a mind and heart work, and a very stimulating and provoking challenge to where my treasures really are. I’m keeping my eye on the prize.

 

Blessings,

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winterinthecabin
Living in close quarters

 

Six months in, and I’m beginning to sense that my “winter sabbath” is going to need to be much longer. I’m trying to rest and regain my bearings, but it has been hard. Here are my most difficult challenges thus far. Feel free to skip the downers if you’d like!

 

DOWNER: It’s a bit lonesome. It’s not that I’m seeing any of my friends less, but because we moved a good 45 minutes away it takes more effort to “just” meet anyone for coffee. Or even to go *get* a coffee. I’m missing the last-minute get-togethers and the on-the-fly multi-family pizza suppers. I’m not currently running a book club and no one else is either. It feels like I’ve left the party and no one remembers me.

 

UPSIDE: My house is full of people! We’re connecting with one another more with board games and have been doing an evening family Bible time since September. I’m missing my friends but growing closer to my family. And my snail mail writing has picked up, connecting with friends who’d rather send a letter than communicate online.

 

DOWNER: It’s cold. Gone is the thermostat to maintain whatever comfortable temperature I want at all hours. The floors are cold. The walls are cold. The windows are cold.

 

UPSIDE: We’ve learned to use a woodstove and once it’s going, it feels wonderful in here. I’m not sure if it’s the wood-heat, but it feels so much nicer than electric. We’ll be looking into a better woodstove so that we can bank the fire (new terminology!) and make it easy to restart. Once the siding gets replaced on the north wall, that will help the cold walls, and the floors simply need rugs. Slippers help too! Windows are on the “to be replaced” list.

 

DOWNER: It’s dirty. There is dirt on the floor all.the.time. I can’t even figure out why…it is more people in less space? Is it blowing through the non-insulated (but looking-very-pretty) walls? It is a constant battle to keep it swept. Constant.

 

UPSIDE: We can sweep! It is a great blessing not to have carpets. Rugs we can shake out. Floors we can sweep. And when the floor is swept, I *know* it’s clean. Carpets, not so much…lots of dirt can bury into those fibers. I’m not sure I’ll be replacing my dying vacuum cleaner. And, with so many people here, we all work together to keep our house clean. Many hands, light work.

 

DOWNER: My kitchen is too small. As in, way. I appreciate the blogs and photos of people cooking and even writing cookbooks from their galley kitchens, but I now have ten people and only a teeny bit of counterspace. It’s a challenge to find places to sourdough or otherwise ferment anything. Plus our range doesn’t work well, and the fridge has its own issues as well.

 

UPSIDE: I can make this room bigger. I can move things around, build new countertops and replace appliances as the budget allows. It’s just going to take some time and a bit of out-of-the-box thinking. I’ve hired a kitchen designer, and though that’s not cheap when you have to add travel costs to the boonies, I figured it was cheaper than making expensive mistakes when it comes to remodeling. Although…she hasn’t contacted me for a month, so maybe she doesn’t want to make the drive. Maybe it will be just me making tons of mistakes. And blogging about it…because bad stuff happening makes for good storytelling, right? Meanwhile, I’m using stools and chairs for additional counterspaces, and we’re just making it work. We’re eating :)

 

So, yes, our new downsized home is very pretty and has a lot of potential. But it’s living in the messy middle of what is and what it could be that can be a downer. It’s good to remember the upsides.

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Owning a Livestock Guardian Dog

January 28, 2015

  We’ve owned our Maremma Sheepdog since he was a puppy, born 5 1/2 years ago. He has been a good dog, and a worthy investment for our family. Today he got into a rather loud and angry fight with two dogs that ignored his warnings to stay off our property. The dogs’ owner lazily […]

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“I Need to Go to the Store”

January 21, 2014

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 […]

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On Goal(s) Setting

January 4, 2014

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 […]

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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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