Archives for October 2011

Homestead Living

On Saturday we arrived here in Wichita…all of us…together!  We were hoping to buy a home here.  We even had a contract to buy a house with 5 acres, but it fell through after the inspection.  I will be honest and tell you that I was devastated.  I knew in my heart that the Lord had a plan for us and that the house wasn’t in it.  I was just overwhelmed by the fact that we it would be even longer until our family could all be together again.

It was definitely a walk through the valley. 

But then the morning came and there was joy once again.  My God is bigger and better than anything I could ever dream up.  My husband had gone to look for rentals in town.  The few that he looked at were awful.  They were dirty, too small, too pricey, and all of them were in town. The situation seemed hopeless.

It has been our dream for so long, to buy a house in the country.  My oldest daughter is a senior this year we had really hoped that she would be able to experience a bit of farm life with us before she grows up completely.  We were hopeful that this move to Kansas would allow us to see our dream come to fruition.

Then in a moment, our hopes were dashed, or so it seemed.  Crushed dreams always seem hopeless in the eyes of man.  Not with God.

For with God, nothing shall be impossible.
Luke 1:37

After explaining to the property manager our desire to live in the country, he told my husband he did have one property in the country that he had been trying to rent for over 6 months. It was close to the base where my husband works, it had 5 acres of land, the house was just the right size, and because the owner had been waiting so long to rent it, he was willing to cut the price down to meet our budget.

Thank you Lord!

AND

if we really like the house, we can buy it.

So, we are busy unpacking and enjoying our little patch of land. My kids have come in covered in dirt every day. I don’t know if you remember the episode of Little House on the Prairie where Nellie tells Laura and Mary they can’t come to her party because they are “country girls”…well we are proud to call ourselves “country”!

Several weeks ago as we were planning to buy the other house, I ordered two books on homesteading.

The Backyard Homestead
and
The Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals

Having not grown up on a farm, I feel like there is sooo much to learn.  We are hoping to start off our homesteading endeavors with a handful of chickens, a few Nigerian dwarf goats, some Angora rabbits, and as I mentioned before, a garden (complete with fruit and nut trees).

The Backyard Homestead’s subtitle is “Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre”.    This book touches on raising chickens and farm animals, but mostly covers gardening, planting trees, and raising bees. 

What I have enjoyed about this book is that it covers related homesteading topics.  For instance, in the section on growing your own garden, it discusses preserving those foods (canning, freezing, storing).  You also find various directions for “other” things you can do, like make cider or vinegar.

There are many books out there that cover these topics in greater detail, but this book seems to tie it all together.  It reminds me of a brainstorming section in a book…lets think of all the ways we could “homestead”.  I enjoy this because it helps me think about things I might not have thought about before.  It sparks new interest and points me in the right direction to get started. 

The Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals focuses more on, well, farm animals.  It covers them in much more detail– chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, rabbits, bees, goats, sheep, pigs, and cattle.

As with the other book, it is a menagerie of information that is great to get started with.  I will have to dig much deeper when we are planning to actually get the animals, but for now these books give me enough to get started and plan with.

Will keep you posted on what I am learning!  I am so excited!!!

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Check out what the other moms are reading!

Kerimae @ The Happy Home

Brandy @ The Marathon Mom

Andie @ Happy Andersons

Stacy @ A Delightful Home

 

*Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links.  If you click on them and purchase a product from the company, I will receive monetary compensation.

High Five Moms: Bringing in the Plants (Herbal Recipe)

One of my biggest dreams is to grow a huge garden and be able to supply our family with fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs. I have wanted a garden for years, but for various reasons it just hasn’t happened. It’s not that I haven’t tried. In fact, most years I have tried. I am afraid I have a “black” thumb!

Several years ago we had a backyard the size of a postage stamp. We were able to use a garden plot on the base, but the location of it made it difficult to get out there every day. The weeds were horrendous and crept up on us faster than we could pull them out. Then we had a bought of extreme heat and we just couldn’t keep up with the watering. We did get some nice produce, but nothing spectacular.

A couple of years ago we moved to Spain. We were able to rent a home with a bit of land. I was so excited, I thought I would finally get to do some real gardening. Because of the weed problems we had experienced before, we decided to try square foot gardening. My husband built some really nice 4×4 planters. We followed the prescribed method, buying the correct soil, mixing and adding everything we needed. I purchased my heirloom seeds and planted them according to each recommended depth.

I thought this might be the year for a really great garden.

I guess all the critters thought my garden was really great. Especially the Cabbage caterpillars. My garden was destroyed before it even got going. I don’t think we were able to eat anything from the garden that year.

So, I am still dreaming of having wonderful garden.

In the mean time, the only plants I deal with are the dried varieties. And since we are coming upon the cold and flu season, I thought I would share a quick herbal recipe with you. This is my go to herbal remedy, the one I always keep on hand and use on all my kids at the first sign of illness. This recipe is an old, old recipe that has probably saved countless lives.

It is a fever reduces, an infection fighter, full of antioxidants, nourishing, soothing, and it taste good too!

One last thing…it’s easy to make!

Triple Threat Cold and Flu Fighter

You will need dried:

25 grams yarrow
25 grams elderberries
25 grams peppermint
25 grams elderflowers
240 millilitres glycerin
160 millilitres distilled water

1. Mix herbs in a large jar.  Even though the picture above shows the herbs almost filling the jar, I like to leave at least half of the jar empty to make room for the water/glycerin mixture.  Also, it is best to grind the herbs to powder.  This can be done in a coffee grinder (dedicated to herbal grinding) or possibly a food processor (although I have never tried it).

2. Prepare menstruum (the liquid substance that will extract the herbal constituents from the herbs) by mixing thoroughly the glycerin and distilled water.

3.  Pour menstruum (glycerin/water mixture) over the herbs in the jar.  Stir well making sure everything is mixed up.

4. Leave the mixture in the jar for 2 weeks, shaking each day.

5. At the end of 2 weeks, strain the liquid from the herbs.  Muslin fabric works best for this.

6. Label and store liquid glycerite.

Congratulations!  You have just made a 1:4 herbal glycerite to treat your family with.

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Visit the other High Five Moms!

Brandy @ The Marathon Mom

Keri Mae @ The Happy Home

Andie @ Happy Andersons

Stacy @ A Delightful Home

High Five Moms: Hand-On Learning for Boys

I am really looking forward to reading the other moms suggestions today, especially Brandy…she is pregnant with her 8th son. I know she has to have some great hands-on learning activities for boys. Make sure to visit all the other moms and find out what kinds of projects they keep their boys busy with!

Brandy @ The Marathon Mom

Keri Mae @ The Happy Home

Andie @ Happy Andersons

Stacy @ A Delightful Home

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I am an artsy kind of person, and ever since I can remember, I have loved all kinds of arts and crafts.  My daughters have inherited my “craftiness” and are always working on some type of project.  This has all be very natural.  When I am working on something, I try to include them in what I am doing.  If they want to learn something new, I try to at least learn enough to teach them and get them going.

It has been different with my son though.  I have really struggled to find projects that would keep him busy and teach him skills at the same time.  I usually blame it on the fact that we don’t live on a farm where I can send him out to build a chicken house.  Or I blame it on the fact that my husband is in the Air Force and is away from us so much.  Whatever the cause, which is probably just my lack of thinking outside the box, I am on a mission to find projects for my boys!

Some of the projects we have done:

Rockets

We have bought model rockets for my older son to put together and launch.  The rockets that I have looked at range from almost no skill level to very detailed and challenging.  We bought ones that were somewhere in the middle, although they did require some help from me.

Hobby Lobby carries quite a large selection of rockets and other items such as engines and launchers.  If you check your newspaper, you can usually get a 40% off coupon each week.  We have also ordered from Amazon or Estes Rockets.

Although we haven’t done it yet, I think this would be a great project to get a group of boys involved in.  It would be so much fun to have a launch day contest.  You know boys always love a good contest to get them motivated.

Woodworking

This is one area I am hoping to really get my son started in.  He is 14 years old now, and I feel like he is capable to learning some basic woodworking skills.  We have let him use a few of the simpler power saws (it still makes me a bit nervous).

My oldest daughter has been good about creating projects for my son to work on.  Her latest request was a drop spindle used to spin roving into yarn.  He was able to create one with the power sander and a dremel tool.

For the younger kids (even the girls), I have been taking them to Home Depot on the first Saturday of each month.  They offer a free woodworking project.  I usually let the kids do their hammering and putting together at the store, then we come home and paint and decorate the project.  Some of the projects have been so cool that the older kids joined in.  I understand Lowes has a similar project day, but we haven’t made it to one yet.

More Ideas Needed???

I am sure we have done other cool stuff, I am just drawing a blank right now.  I need your help.

What about your little men?  I would love some more ideas to test out on my guys!

 

 

 

High Five Moms: Seasons of Change

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

Ecclesiates 3:1

When we were in Kansas a couple of weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of trees in the area. I had always envisioned Kansas to be flat prairie land.

Ever since living in Germany many years ago, I have longed to live somewhere with four seasons. I am hoping that by the time we arrive back in Kansas, the leaves will begin to change into the bright oranges and reds that I so miss.

It makes it so much easier to accept change when it is wrapped in such beauty and splendor.

I am reminded of the changes in my own life. How much more I look forward to changing seasons when I anticipate the blessings of the new season rather than focusing on the loss of the latter season.

Since Cooper was born, I have been having pain in my lower abdomen. I have been putting off a trip to the doctor mostly because I don’t want to hear the allopathic solution to almost all women’s health issues — hysterectomy. I would rather keep as many body parts as I possibly can for as long as I possibly can.

This has caused me to realize a few things though.

One, I am not getting younger. For the most part, I am thrilled with this realization. I have no desire at all to return to my youth and the follies it entailed.

However, realizing I am getting older means I may be beginning a new season in my life.  And I just don’t know if I am ready for that yet.

For the last 10 years, my husband and I have allowed the Lord to bless us with the children He desired us to have, without intervention from us.  In making that decision, I honestly thought I would end up having children until I was well into my 40s.  I was sure I would end up with 10-12 kids.

In the last 10 years, the Lord has blessed us with 4 children on earth and one in heaven.  I am not saying that I am disappointed in any way, just surprised.

I guess we all have hopes and dreams for our lives and deep down inside we tell ourselves that “someday” they will happen.  Like living on a farm.  I have always wanted to raise my kids on a farm.  I have always known that “someday”, Lord willing, we would get a chance to own a farm.

But realizing your seasons are changing is also realizing that your hopes and dreams may not come to fruition.  They too will have to change with the season.

Second realization, my children are getting older.  We all comment on how fast they grow up, and they do.  But then it hits you, they are grown up.

My oldest daughter will be 18 in less than a year now.  And while I look forward with rejoicing to the new season in her life, I can’t help but miss the season she is leaving behind.

The season of club houses, Tamagotchis, and piano recitals is quickly fading as I look forward to a growing friendship with my adult daughter.

Final thought…there are some parts of our lives that carry over into several seasons.   Then there are other things that the Lord has ordained for specific seasons.

This has been an especially important realization for me as I sometimes lament the fact that I can’t get all the things done I would like to get done.

Right now I have several young children, including a nursing baby.  This season of young children and nursing babies is such a short season and I only have a short window of opportunity to experience it.

There will be time to quilt, and make soap, and write, and work when the kids are all grown.  But never again will I get the chance to kiss booboos, braid pigtails, and hold this baby to my breast.  This is the season that the Lord has purposed for me and I need to see the beauty in this season before it is over.

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Don’t forget to visit the other High Five Moms this week!

Andie @ Happy Andersons

Stacy @ A Delightful Home

Brandy @ The Marathon Mom

Keri Mae @ The Happy Home

Popcorn Balls

One of our favorite treats in the fall is popcorn balls! Now let me forewarn you, this is not some healthy for you kind of recipe. Basically sugar, sugar, corn syrup, and more sugar poured over popcorn. We don’t make this often, but when we do, everyone loves it!