Monday, March 23, 2015

homesteaders don't have time for baths (only showers)

Our 1700 square foot home came with 2 bathrooms. One of them, which is off the master bedroom,  is quite large and includes an enormous bath tub (and also a shower). I'm not sure there's enough hot water in our water heater to even fill such a behemoth. Since we were always busy, rushed, or needed constantly by children (or cows or sheep or gardens or steamimg canners), my husband and I just never bothered filling that thing up with water in order to lounge around in it. We always shower. So, over time the tub and surrounding area became a storage space. Our humble home came with no pantry or very much storage area, but there was this huge unused space in that bathroom! Over the past near 3 years since we moved into this home, that bath tub spot has seen a constantly revolving batch of STUFF. Muddy farm pants, meat grinder, food dehydrator, canning supplies, cleaning supplies, livestock first aid supplies... The scenery is always changing. 

The other morning while I was standing in there brushing my teeth, I had a moment of amusement looking at that side of the bathroom. I'm so used to it being full of our homesteady stuff that I don't notice how weird our bathroom really is. 

At this particular moment we've got dozens of jars of canned foods: broths, lard, fruits and syrup. Since it's not potato season in our garden yet, there is a pile of yams and potatoes I order from We've got water jugs, lots of bee hive equipment, honeycomb and that big metal thing is a honey extractor. Eggs, canning jars, even a couple homestead books and magazines. When I found our wonderful, huge new(used) dining room table at a thrift store last summer, my husband had the brilliant idea to repurpose the top of our old table into a "shelf" of sorts. We laid it on boards and now we're able to stack stuff both in and on top of the tub. So I've got all my vinegars for cleaning and canning, and my other soaps and detergents under there. And yes, behind it all is a TV. We upgraded our humble TV in the living room to this fancy 3D TV but have yet made it a priority to trade it out with the old one. We just pull it out now and then for family movie night.

Moving back a little and the incubator and giant water barrel can be seen. Being serenaded by peeping chickens while showering is always nice.

And there you go. My bathroom.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

a really neat craft

We all had so much fun with this one that I wanted to give it its own post. :)

As I've mentioned, I've been following Lacy over at the Catholic Icing blog around and copying many of the wonderful things she does. This particular craft was easy, cheap, and do-able for nearly all ages. Messy? Well, most definitely. But worth it. 

The basics are: "draw" a simple picture or shape, in this case a cross, on paper, then sprinkle plain ol' table salt all over it. Touch your watercolor paintbrush to the salt and the color spreads in the niftiest way! 

HERE is her post describing how to do it.

For the younger kids I drew their simple cross shape with a crayon on their piece of construction paper. Then they could trace my line drawing with their glue. 

I gave them the salt shaker and crazy they went with it. That's where the messy part comes from. Once they shook salt all over their glue, they gently shook the excess off over a baking sheet. Then they would dip their paintbrush into the watercolor paint and just touch he tip of the brush to the salt.You don't have to wait for the glue to dry, and you don't rub the brush around. Just touching it to the salt sends the paint color creeping across the shape. So neat! There were all sorts of "oohs!" and "aahs!" from the kids. 

They had so much fun with it they kept on going after our crosses were complete.

And then after all that, they touched their paintbrushes to the salt leftovers on the baking sheet, just to watch the color spread. :)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Baby human, baby turkey, baby goose. All is right with the world.

Baby human, baby turkey:

Our very first ever baby goose! We ordered a batch of geese from the hatchery last year. And here is their first gosling, hatched in our incubator yesterday:

Isn't it so cute?! 

On what seems an unrelated note, here is a wonderful post I read this morning on the Raising Homemakers blog (strangely, I'm unable to find a way to leave a comment to let the writer know how much I loved it. Perhaps the blog doesn't like my browser...). She describes going about her days taking care of her family in ways that seem mundane on the outside. But the sheer joy she experiences in stirring a simple pot of soup brings tears to her eyes.

I know that feeling! My days are quite routine. Diapers, laundry, teaching, raising up children, cooking, cleaning. I suppose I could grumble and claim to "be sick of the endless dishwashing", or throw in the towel and not bother spending the time cooking from scratch takes. But you know what? I love keeping our house! I enjoy doing the dishes, day after day after day. I enjoy seeing my children's clothing folded neatly away in the drawer after putting yet another laundry basket of clothes away. I wake up every morning genuinely excited about my day ahead. My day of dishes, laundry, teaching and diapers! I am doing exactly what I was made to do- taking care of my family. Glamorous and fascinating? No. Mundane looking from the outside? Absolutely. Would I change one tiny thing about my wonderful housewiferish life? No way! When my days on Earth come to a close, I hope very much to leave with a smile on my wrinkly, ancient old face, recalling years of wonderful routine in taking care of my family. Gardening in summer, baby farm animals in the spring, new school years beginning in fall, snowmen in winter. Dishes and laundry and bandaids and diapers and singing and piles of graded math tests throughout that I will be so proud of. :) The same old simple sweet goodness that I imagine many, many an old lady has smiled over on her last days. 

Today, Thursday, is pizza night yet again. It is early spring. There are cute fuzzy babies hatching in the incubator. We gush over them today, and roast them for dinner in the fall. I taught art and math and reading lessons this morning. I've washed diapers and made peanut butter and homemade jam and bread sandwiches for lunch. I'll likely be doing the same thing in 365 days, but with older children, no baby in the bouncy seat at our feet. The mundane years go by, and bring tears of joy to my eyes more often than I ever thought possible. 


Monday, March 9, 2015

Saturday and Sunday: more adventures. :)

Since my in-laws were paying us a visit on Saturday and playing outside with nearly all the children, I figured I'd better take advantage of my time alone and bake up a bunch of goodies. I made a small hill of granola, began some pretzels and had plans for more "thin wheats" crackers. Just as I completed shaping the 2.5 dozen pretzels and was heading toward the oven with them, the power went out. And it stayed out til midnight! So there went my plans for enjoying peaceful time in the kitchen baking all afternoon. 

I had to smile because after a few hours without power, I was quite discombobulated. "If I can't do dishes or laundry or bake things, then what on earth should I be doing?" I laughed with my mother-in-law over that.

I did spend some time strolling around our homestead enjoying the sun. We'd had another set of twin lambs born that morning! That makes 4 sets of twins so far. :) And one more ewe is still round as could be. I imagine she's having twins, too. Or else one really enormous sheep. It's funny, sheep are similar to women- they carry their pregnancies so differently. The mama below, who had birthed the twins on Saturday, didn't even look pregnant! She is one of our youngest ewes, born here just last year so we wondered if maybe she was too young and didn't conceive this year. Lo and behold, not only was she pregnant after all, but with two babies! So far she's being a fantastic mama sheep to her long legged little white children. (This is a poor photo because I zoomed the camera in so far to take it) 

Our day progressed and it began getting dark. Since we have many baby chickens and turkeys under heat lamps, and eggs in the warm incubator, they are always our first concern when we have a power outage. Even though it was a warm day and I had the windows open, the baby turkeys in the kitchen were shivering and whimpering within minutes. I moved their boxes right next to the stove where I had the dutch oven simmering lamb shoulders inside. Since our stove is propane, it still works even without electricity. Those little turkeys quickly smooshed their bodies right up against the cardboard box side that was next to the stove! They stopped shivering and enjoyed the steamy lamby goodness. 

Eventually Husband had to get the generator up and running. Yes, for all the baby poultry. We brought all the young birds and the incubator, laid them out on a tarp across the dining room table, and plugged their various heat sources into the noisy generator that was running (on gasoline) outside the dining room window. That made for a very loud, and stinky(!) and entertaining dining room. Since that is where the lights were, that is where the whole family gathered to hang out and watch "Turkey TV". 

(Busy has a messy spaghetti face below. It was dark, who could tell?)

These are my cooling racks (that you'd put cookies on just after taking them out of the oven) that we cover the boxes with once the birds become old enough to hop out of their boxes. They still manage to hop out at times, only to be found wandering across a counter or the kitchen floor, desperately chirping for their bird buddies. 


One way you can tell which ones are turkeys, are by that little bump in the center of their faces. That becomes their long, dangly wiggle waggle which I am certain has an official name but I always call it their wiggle waggle. I'm not sure what the purpose of those dangly waggles are, but I have sure seen adult male turkeys biting and yanking on each other's during fights!

The chickens have teeny little ridges between their eyes. Those become their combs when they're adult. 

Thankfully the power returned in the middle of the night. I got up extra early the next morning (on daylight savings day so it felt even earlier!) in order to get those pretzels baked and to get the dishes washed that couldn't be done the day before without power. I also needed to shower, milk the cow, prepare breakfast, and get myself and the 2 babies out the door by by 9:30 am in order to get to church on time!

There is a women's fellowship group after church that I'm enjoying so much! (Which is why the babies and I attended alone- it wouldn't make any sense for my husband and all the kids to leave me at church for the group, drive all the way home, then come all the way back to pick me up- an hour long round trip). During farmer's market season, I very much enjoy socializing with the other vendors and the customers. During the rest of the year I very much enjoy socializing with my eldest daughter and my mother-in-law. Besides these times, I don't really visit with other adult women in real life.... well, just about ever! So beginning this monthly fellowship group has been so awesome! Both for the fellowshipping AND the fun, female interaction. :)

After a few hours of chatting and laughing  Bible Study, I drove into town to hang out with my eldest daughter whom we decided would have "Paisley" as her blog alias. Here she is, consoling her grumpy baby brother, at the restaurant we stopped at. 

When you are 22 months old, instead of enjoying socializing at the restaurant, you enjoy gobbling down a bowl full of grapes and then putting the bowl on your head. 

Since I was in town I also ran some errands here and there- refilling our gas cans, picking up bulk food goodies (bran, dates, almonds, etc) for trying out making some granola bars.

After all this, I picked my eldest son up from his dad's house where he spends the weekends and made the long trek home from town with crying babies in their carseats. I always dislike the ride home from town in the dark. If only I could drive and breastfeed at the same time!!

All in all another fun filled weekend. Life is good, we are so blessed, and time is going by too fast. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015


Here are some of yesterday's adventures. :)

Our day began as usual, with school work around our big dining room table. Then the butcher arrived to assist us in turning our problem steer I've typed about into hamburgers (the one in my header picture at the moment). Things were proceeding as normal until our butcher, after finishing things up and attempting to drive away, discovered that his truck had slowly sank into the soft soil in our yard. We'd all thought it seemed pretty frozen out there and the truck would be safe driving over it to the spot he was able to drop the cow (he shot the steer as he was eating his hay- he didn't notice a thing!). But alas, the ground was only frozen about 3 inches down. Below that it was squelchy mud. The more he tried backing up, the deeper the wheel sank. The menfolk got to work with shovels and wood and... whatever it was they were doing out there with those cinder blocks and stuff.

Husband tried giving his truck a pull with our pickup truck. No good. We called a couple neighbors who own bigger tools and trucks. Not home....

Until we reached one neighbor who lives just a couple miles away. He was able to come right over on his tractor. After a couple hours of the guys working on the problem truck, our generous neighbor made it look easy as pie as he gave it one pull with his tractor and out the bogged truck came. Which of course led to Husband and I discussing once again how owning a small tractor might be on our horizon.

And here is where our school work was abandoned during the excitement.

Breaking ice with the shovel:

And investigating frozen pond things:

While the guys were working on the truck, Monkey and Artist were helping/having fun salting the hide. After the butcher skinned the steer, Husband laid it out flat so it could have a thick layer of salt sprinkled across the whole thing. The salt draws the moisture out and helps keep the skin from decomposing and being gross. Husband will begin tanning it soon. If all goes well we will have a lovely, soft, long-haired, furry, hide rug. And if all does not go well, we will have a stiff, holey, smelly hunk of dead cow skin. 

Inside, Busy was busy watching turkey TV. There are many turkey, and a few chicken, babies living here on our kitchen counter. Our house is full of PEEP PEEP peeping all day and night. (All those little white things in the smaller box are dry white beans. The older kids had been adding one white bean to a jar for each sacrifice they made during all of Lent. Things were going along swimmingly- they were doing things like helping me sweep, putting their sibling's Legos away for them, etc. just to get to add a bean to the jar. Until baby brother came along and dumped the beans into the chick box. LOL)

Later in the day I, after being prompted by my Husband, decided it was most definitely time I did something about the first aid supplies that were enjoying taking over our living room closet. A few months ago Monkey had cut the back of his leg climbing out of a tree. During the treatment of it I realized that my first aid kit was sorely lacking in supplies AND organization. So I began collecting what we needed: a better, larger bin, and more bandages, blood stoppers, gauze, etc. etc. - and tossing them all into the closet willy nilly. So I dug them all out, laid everything across the table and began sorting and organizing. I'm pleased to say that I finally managed to get everything fabulously organized and labeled. But by the time I had finished it was too dark to take a picture. 

And for dinner- goose! :) The very one the boys plucked for us the other day. The 2 older boys also made cracker dough while I was having fun with first aid kit supplies. And so we had "thin wheats" with our goose dinner. They were so, so good! It is the first recipe I have enjoyed from the DIY Pantry cookbook. And I'm so looking forward to using more recipes from that book. There are still a hand full of processed foods we use on a regular basis that I need to stop bringing into our house, crackers being one of them. 

This was Tuesday. Since our preschooler is learning about the letter B this week, the children blew watered down paints across a bush picture I had drawn: a Burning Bush. ;) This was (yet another) wonderful idea I borrowed from Lacy over at the Catholic Icing blog.

And now, dishes and laundry and babies call. And that new cookbook.....whatever shall I make next?

Monday, March 2, 2015

indoor fun, outdoor fun

 This past weekend Little Miss Farmgirl decided to share her princess crown with Roo.

He seemed to like it. Here he is smiling up at her:

Several minutes later I got a hearty laugh when I found this! Still in his princess crown, he's been joined by a baby dolly in her "crown"- a canning funnel. LOL!

Isn't this neat. Our water pump was left dripping overnight and this is how my teen son found it this morning. The water had dripped down and created a mini stalagmite!

Hmm. Remind me not to leave the bread out unattended. (Those are finger pokes made by a curious child)

A boy and his goofy dog who enjoys a good belly scratch.

I told Smiley and Monkey that I wanted to take a picture of them in the lovely sunshine. This is how they showed up- with sticks and rocks and silly faces. ;)

When not enjoying good old fashioned play with sticks and rocks, they had fun with a homemade see saw, balanced on a roll of barbed wire fencing and a stump used for chicken head chopping off.

Is this too gory for a family-friendly farming blog? I love this picture because you can see exactly how the boys feel about plucking goose for dinner: Artist (on the right) doesn't like getting his hands "messy", with feathers, mud, paper mache, you name it. That's his "ew." face. LOL Monkey (on the left) on the other hand, loves it very much! 

On a side note, I don't think there can be found a more attractive man than one with hay and goose feathers stuck in his beard and mud on his knees at the end of the day. I sure love my husband. ;)

Here's that goofy dog again. There might be endless comfy, clean countryside around but he'd rather smoosh his face into a heap of composting cow manure and straw for a morning nap.

I've never seen something like this before. I've just noticed that our 2 month old has this very interesting color strip in his eye! Can you see it in the pictures? His eyes are darkening, surely to become brown like his siblings (and dad), but there's a strip of whitish-blue there in his right eye. It wasn't there until recently. It seems to be forming there while the rest of his eye is darkening? Isn't that weird/neat?

I wonder if it will stay?

And that's the summary of our simple yet busy weekend. :) Oh, not including the turkey babies that have been exploding from the incubator these past few days! That's been super fun. I should get a post up about the babies showing up here lately... We've got 5 lambs so far! They are sooo cute!

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The Chicken Chick