Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The artsy crafty things we've been up to this year

 So, we've had a birthday party post, and a cow post, let's have a school related post next. :)

This year we have homeschoolers in 11th, 3rd, 1st, K and pre-K grades. I'm using Artistic Pursuits mainly for my 3rd grader though his younger siblings often join in. And the Usborne Big Book of Playtime Activities (which are actually art activities...) for the youngest ones though the olders often join in.



My 11th grader is using this book, Exploring Art Media this year. Here is a stencil he created himself.




I've mentioned before that we school year round. I schedule blocks of school time for 4-6 weeks, followed by vacations that last from 1-5 weeks. It's during each vacation that I plan out all the lessons and art projects for the next block of school. This year my teen son is managing his time spent on art. I just made sure I ordered the supplies he'd need at the beginning of the school year. For all the youngers, we generally do one Artistic Pursuit lesson per week (Mondays), and 2 of the simple projects from the Usborne book (Wednesdays and Thursdays). 


During lesson planning I tackle one subject at a time as I'm filling in my planner (I'm using Debra Bell's again this year. Love it! The main bonuses for me are how much space is given on each page for all the details I write, and that there is room for 6 students). So, as I'm filling in each day's art plan I also prep as much ahead as possible for that art lesson. This is super key for me- if I don't plan every little thing ahead for my schooling, it just doesn't get done! And then I file things here in my hanging file box under "art preps". This photo isn't so great but I'm holding a ziploc labeled Usborne pg. 12. When we get to the school day with "Usborne page 12" written in the planner, I'll go to my art preps file and grab that ziploc. 



These little monster finger puppet guys were one of the crafts from the Usborne book. So I had cut out all the needed envelopes and lots of shapes from construction paper for the children to use to make their monster faces. Those were all in a labeled ziploc for me to grab the moment we needed them. Whew!








This happens to just be a coloring book page our 8 yr old colored with markers. It looks so pretty hanging in our sunny dining room window!




One of my teen son's art projects.



That ended up here on our bulletin board that happened to be full of his other recent coloring projects. 



We have 4 bulletin boards on the living room wall. All the kids' best school work and art and cute drawings get shown off on them. I try to take everything down and file it all during our school vacations. Often that's what happens, other times I am forced to clear out the boards when they have become 6 papers thick under each pushpin and the wind of a child running past sends cute drawings flying in every direction. ;)


An example of bulletin board cuteness. This was drawn by Little Miss Farmgirl (age 3) the other day. 



Do I at times look at scenes like this and want to hyperventilate over the messes being made? Why yes, yes I do. But I am very careful not to let it show to my children because I know this sort of creative play is important. Not to mention that they all love it. 



This is something I had saved in my phone. I discovered this picture online and thought it would be great to copy it!




For very specific art projects, like for holidays, I rely on Pinterest and the Crafty Crow blog linked there in my sidebar. Here are some cute Halloween witches we did the other day. Mr Five Year Old's:



And how cute is the face Little Farmgirl drew on hers? :)



Another Halloween craft found on Pinterest. 





And, completely and totally off topic, but did you notice the fantastically large and wonderful new dining table the children are doing their crafts on? ;) I am soooOOoo excited about that table. We had long outgrown our previous table. I had giant table envy when I watched the Duggar show episodes. LOL! And then, I found this enormous table at a thrift store for only $89! Okay so it's not Duggar sized, but it seats 8 large adults very comfortably, and many more small people. And it's sturdy! I was as excited as if it was Christmas. 

And now, books and beds. Goodnight!

Monday, October 27, 2014

How goes the milking?

Just a little family milk cow update...

We continue to milk Elsie, our cow that gave birth on our homestead (our first calf birth!) in January of last year. We named her calf Heidi and Heidi is just finishing up her three month "date" with a neighbor's bull. If all goes as planned, Heidi will be giving birth to her first calf sometime next spring. Then we'll begin milking her, and we'll send Elsie off on a date. So the plan is to keep a cycle going where we always have one cow we're milking and one cow being bred or pregnant. This will only work if we continue to have a neighbor willing and able to let our cows hang out with their bull. Let's hope!

During the summer when we had lots of tasty green grass for grazing, Elsie was giving over 2 gallons a day. A lot! And now that she's only eating hay, her production has gone down to just over a gallon per day. Much easier to keep up with as we go through around a gallon every day. 

My teen son is still milking her on the weekdays, and I milk her on the weekends. We milk once per day, in the mornings. 


Nearly every time I milk our big old giant hairy dog joins me and leans right up against my back. This was the view a couple weekends ago when I turned to look behind me. 




And this was this weekend. The loud honking gang of geese wandered by and hissed at me just to let me know who's boss of this field. Okay, they hiss at you wherever you happen to be. 




How do you like our fancy "gate"? This is how we get in and out of the pasture we milk in. ;) It works out okay until we have one of our frequent wind storms. Then we do have to go fetch our "gate" parts from wherever the wind took them to. 




One thing we've learned in our three years spent living here in North Idaho is that the end of October is when the weather changes. Drastically, whew! It is coOld all the sudden! During this past weekend's milking I remembered, "oh yeah... we live in a cold place! This bone chilling wind is getting familiar!" And so begins the half of the year in which I put layer upon layer of warm things on before heading out with the milk buckets. We do have a little shelter out there, with three sides and a roof. It's a blustery, leaky spot at the moment until we get a new tarp wrapped around it. Again, those wind storms! Tarps don't last long out here. But once we get that done we'll have a pretty cozy spot out of the direct wind and snow for milking. I can't wait for snow! :)


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Let's try this blogging fun some more...

    There are two great, big, enormous reasons that the blog posts have not been flowing from my fingertips. One is, as I've mentioned, plain old lack of time. Seeings how I haven't heard that they're planning to add more hours to the day any time soon I guess I'm just stuck with that complication. Secondly, our PC has been deader than dead for several months. Any blogging I wanted to do would have to be done from my itty bitty iPhone screen. Blogging from my phone is really quite challenging, at least for anything longer than a few sentences. Well, I am now typing from our brand new, uber fancy computer. :) Sooo much easier than on that tiny phone screen.

    Still, I wish I could draw a perfect picture in your mind of the crazy nonstop busy-ness going on in our home at all times that leaves me too busy for sitting and blogging. :) Here is a fabulous example: Just the other day I sat at this here new computer for the first time and changed up my header photo and replied to recent comments. In the small window of time that took me, the baby, who is 18 mos old now, got ahold of an abandoned bowl of popcorn some children had left within his reach. It appeared to have snowed popcorn throughout the living room by the time I discovered his fun. While that was happening in the living room, someone apparently dropped a stuffed cat into the toilet. They then took it out and walked across the bathroom with it, leaving a lovely stream of toilet water behind, and dropped said soggy cat on the rug directly in front of the bathroom door. Which I stepped on. And, dinner was late to get to the table. But at least I got to change my blog header! LOL.

    But anyway, now I'm so far behind I cannot figure out where to start! What should I post about first? Recent kitchen happenings? Our meal plan, schedules, routines? A farm animal post? A pregnancy update? General life update? How we're preparing for winter? Just a bunch of pictures from this summer? This fall? Update on our homeschool year? A post about our recent lessons, curriculum and art? What the kids are up to? All the minimizing I've been doing around the house? How our gardening went this year, and the canning I've done? The butchering, the milking? How hard I've been battling the darn mice that just keep finding ways into our house?! And seriously, I really have been writing a post called My Faith Journey inside my head that will make it to the blog eventually.

Can I just start with something super simple? Here are our recent birthday celebrators. :)


Littlest Miss turned 3!



Being silly with dad.




A couple weeks later, Mister Four became Mister Five year old!



We had given him a bunch of little lights on rings, so most of his birthday pictures ended up looking like this:



Baby T reeeally enjoys ice cream. ;)



Next up will be this young man on the right's birthday, he'll become 9. A couple weeks after that, boy on the left will be turning 7, just before Christmas Day. And somewhere in there, our new baby will make his or her appearance!

This is what happens when you ask two very goofy boys to smile for a picture.



Funny thing, each of my 7 children so far have been born in different months. But this new baby is finally going to break the trend and share a birthday month with a sibling whether he/she comes today or the end of December.






All right, posting successful! I figured out how to use this new PC, discovered how to upload pictures from my phone AND resize them AND post them! That is really quite impressive for someone like me. :p Funny thing I should be married to a guy in the computer software industry.

Monday, August 11, 2014

our busy week


What a whirlwind of activity our homestead has seen this summer. And still so much more to come! Taking a stroll with my husband through the garden today had me laughing. It went something like this:

Husband: "So here's our huge potato patch you'll need to can soon. Oh and we need to get all the garlic pulled up and into the dehydrator. Here's all the summer squash- it's ready now for eating and canning. Do you need to pickle anymore? The dill is going to seed so you'd better hurry...... Don't forget I need to butcher a bunch of geese that'll need canning. Hey did you call the butcher back? We really need to get that pig and steer slaughtered ASAP! {I am still 
canning up stuff from the freezer to make space for the pig and steer}.  Do you want me to save any more eggs for pickling or wait a month? Hey what about blackberries? Have you called around to find some for jam? Oh, here is what's left of the kale that needs picking, blanching and freezing....(he points to a LOT of kale)."

Me, laughing: "Um, I didn't bring my legal pad with me for note taking. I don't think I'll remember all that....But I'd better get back to the kitchen."  :)



Here was our Thursday kitchen scene. I'm always baking up a mountain of bread to sell at the farmer's market. Here the mixer is going, kneading bread dough for me while there is cheese draining over the bucket. Elsie is giving around 2.5 gallons every morning and it gets challenging keeping up with! Cute Baby sits on the floor enjoying the contents of the pot and pan cupboard.




On Wednesday Husband and the boys enjoyed a big ol' board game all afternoon. I can't believe it held all the kids' attention for several hours! I sure don't have the attention span for hours of monsters and battles and dungeons and spells. :p


.


Our little Baby T is 15 months old now and decided to start walking just recently! And our baby becomes a toddler. *sniff*





The pond has dried up under the blazing summer sunshine we're having these days. The children are having a blast playing in the dried up pond bed. Lots of wonders to be found there in the jungle of tall cat tails. Including these fuzzy little caterpillar guys!









Over the weekend Mr 6 and Mr 8 year old did a great job harvesting, sorting and washing a huge amount of kale. When they were through I shredded, blanched and froze it. I love kale!




Our very first blueberries!! Berries are my all time favorite food. I am SO excited about berries in our garden.





Eggs steaming, bone broth simmering, rabbit and duck meat canning.




Shredded rabbit and duck on the left, beef heart on the right. I can't believe that great, big, enormous cow heart, that was about the size of my 8 year old's head, fit into one quart jar! The meat cubes really shrank in size during cooking. These were some of the things we harvested out of the freezer to make space for that pig and steer. I cooked up a bunch of frozen duck and rabbit, took the meat off for canning, then simmered all the bones with plenty of onion to make bone broth.





Today we harvested our very first ever bell peppers! We've never gotten them to grow successfully before. And of course, they were deeeelicious.



Also today, I canned 4 quarts of bone broth, then 7 quarts of pickled duck and chicken eggs (yum), and finally rounded out the evening with 7 quarts of liver. 




Last but not least- honey. Our very first ever honey harvest. We are so excited! The bees we started with last year all died over the winter. We tried again this year and WOW. Those are some happy bees out there. 

 Filtering out the honey from the comb:



I am just so darn pleased with my husband and all his work with those beehives!!
 :) We hope to be selling honey at the farmer's market next year. And enjoying that wowwie-amazing-delicious honey ourselves from now on.

What a homestead dream come true!








Linked up with:

Mountain Woman Rendezvous Blog Hop at TrayerWilderness.com



Homestead Barn Hop

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Apologies

I'm sorry for vanishing. I've really fallen off the blogging bandwagon. It's a simple issue of time mostly. My days are so full of family, farming, schooling, food prep and canning, I can't figure where to cram sitting at a computer and blogging. I do miss it though.

Thank you guys who have been leaving your kind comments, inquiring about my whereabouts. We're fine! Baby's growing, I'm 20 weeks now :) . The garden's growing, I've been busy busy canning during our schooling break. We have a big potato crop coming along! You just can't beat Idaho soil for potato growing. We have a steer and a big fat pig that need butchering so we're working on making space in the freezers. Whenever I have extra time I work on my lesson plans for the year. I always enjoy lesson planning. 

The chickens love hiding their eggs from us!  



Farmgirl in the garlic. 




Pregnancy craving. ;) 




Teen son "sitting on the cat". 






This is the belly baby at 13 weeks, that's its little hand waving at us. :)






Eldest Daughter is 23 now. 




Making strawberry jam is messy business. 







Son and goose. 






How cute are these baby bunnies! 








Husband took this of me, milking the other morning. 



Dill and cucumbers... 



Pickles!