Every time you feel in God's creatures something pleasing and attractive, do not let your attention be arrested by them alone, but, passing them by, transfer your thought to God and say: "O my God, if Thy creations are so full of beauty, delight and joy, how infinitely more full of beauty, delight and joy art Thou Thyself, Creator of all!
- Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain

You can’t get to joy by making everything perfect. You can only get there by seeing in every imperfection all that’s joy.
-Ann Voscamp

Friday, April 30, 2010

Hattie's Tadpoles

Hattie found some frog eggs in a pond on Wednesday, April 28. They're beginning to hatch today, April 30th. The tadpoles are unbelievably tiny and very still. We read that they will begin to move around after about 4 days. I hope that happens, but I did some things wrong when we got them. I wasn't prepared for them when she brought them home. They really didn't have enough water in the container for proper oxygenation, and we brought them into the house. We may have changed their water temperature too quickly or too much. They are, however, we shall see.

I did eventually answer Hattie's question about the mother frog. How cute that she left half of the eggs for the mother frog! She now knows that the mother "lays" (?) her eggs and then goes her merry way.

I just realized how much was going on in the background: temper tantrum, music, loud "talking" to child throwing tantrum...such is life at our house.

As a post script, I was watching YouTubes of goat kid castrations and dis budding. Yuck, yuck, and triple yuck! I don't know if I can do it...

My Girl!

I wanted to share some pics of Molly with you all, but when you "borrow" them from someone else's FB, it doesn't work real well.

Here's Molly getting ready to go for a ride.

Molly's first and greatly anticipated ride on Dyna (as in dynamite).

Molly and Dyna again.

A winter trail ride on Klu

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Thanks, Turkey Durk! (or, Making a Quill Pen)

We recently finished up an ancient history course, and began a new course on the middle ages. We'll be studying the period of history from roughly 400 AD and about 1600 AD. We began with the division of Rome into two kingdoms and will end with the Spanish Armada and an overview of the world at the end of the 16th century. What young boy wouldn't love it? Gladiators, knights, castles, King Arthur, Robin Hood...
Here's where Turkey Durk comes in. I wanted to make quill pens with the kids, and asked a dear friend if she had any large feathers I could have. She had butchered a large tom by the name of Turkey Durk shortly before I asked, and donated some of his tail feathers to our homeschool. It worked out really well. I SO need a camera! It would have been fun to take some pictures of our project. It was actually quite easy to do. Here's the process:

What you will need
some feathers about 10 inches long
a straight pin
a sharp craft knife
a cutting board
some sturdy paper (drawing paper works well)
some India Ink
a piece of felt (or paper toweling)

1. Soak the feathers in warm, soapy water for about 10 minutes.

2. Use the craft knife to remove a couple inches of feathers from the quill (or remove all of them, if you wish. They were used both ways.)

3. Cut the tip off the quill shaft at an angle using the craft knife. The very tip of the angle is the portion you will write with. Cut a tiny slit at the tip, parallel to the shaft. This tiny slit helps the ink to flow properly. (It would be so much more clear with a picture. I do apologize for my camera. It worked for about 15 seconds tonight. Just as I was snapping a picture of this process, it went berserk again!)

4. Use the straight pin to clean out the quill shaft.

To use the quill pen, dip it in the ink (about 1/2 inch) blotting the excess on the felt (or paper towel). Hold the quill at an angle with the "open" portion of the angle you cut facing up. You want that tiny slit you made facing the paper. Experiment to find the right angle and pressure. When we first tried it , I was using it "upside down". It was very hard to control the flow of ink and it was used up almost immediately. Just keep trying, and I'm sure you'll figure it out quickly.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

This past weekend, after the conference, we went to Heidi's Mini Acres to see her goats and ask questions. We decided that we will probably be getting 2 bred does early this winter. These are some of the Jr. Does she has now that will be ready for breeding in the fall/winter (photos "stolen" from her site). They would kid sometime next March or April, I believe.

Aren't they sweet? We saw her MANY kids, born this month. They are the cutest little babies! They're usually around 2 lbs. but one sweet little runt was only half a lb!
I'm really looking forward to this experience. I've got a lot to do so we can welcome them home with style this winter. I've got a bunch of clearing to do for the fence, and posts to pound in (hopefully by my self). Dan will help me stretch the fence after I'm ready. I've also got 2 pens inside the barn, a hay rack and a milking stand to help build. And hay, feed and minerals to find and purchase. Also hoof trimmers and dis budding iron, and probably a plethora of other things that I haven't thought of yet. If I keep going, I'll be overwhelmed again. I keep telling myself, "One step at a time!" After 5 years of debating the pros and cons of goat ownership, it's really about time! I can't wait for that wonderful, all natural, organic, fresh milk to be mine! Yogurt, cheese, kefir, here I come!! ...I think.
Right now, our little homestead is rich in one thing...EGGS! They're coming out our ears...or at least our fridge! I could use an idea for something really delicious, rich and absolutely sinnful to make that would use a LOT of these eggs! I think this weekend I'm going to try my hand at my first home made angel food cake. Not exactly rich and sinnful (more like angelic), but something I've been wanting to try for a while. Maybe the rich and delicious suggestions should use the yolks. I'll have a dozen of them to find use for after making the cake, I think.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Homeschool Conference: Country Mice Go to the City!

We got home on Sunday after a challenging but very rewarding home school conference in Rochester. My sister and I went to the conference together, and we really had some personal growth moments. Finding parking was one of them! There was a 5 story parking garage connected to the hotel. When we got there there was seriously ONE SPACE left, all the way at the top. It was more like 75 % of a space, since the cars on either side were parked over the lines. I wish we had taken a picture of the van in the cozy space we fit it into!
Once we found our room, we took a picture of the room number so we wouldn't forget it (a bit of a joke, but I think we were slightly serious).

That evening before we tucked ourselves in for the night we went down to the lobby to ask about how long it would take to walk through the skywalk to the Civic Center from our hotel. They said to give ourselves at least 10 minutes. Well, when we came down in the morning and tried to find our way we thought that we'd made a mistake in not giving ourselves MUCH more time. Thankfully one of the hotel employees asked us if we needed direction. If he hadn't walked half way with us, I'm sure we would have wandered aimlessly for a lot longer.
While we were walking he told us the funniest story. Earlier that morning, he'd seen a gentleman walking around looking lost. He asked the man if he needed direction. The man responded with, "No thanks, I've got Jesus." After about 10 minutes, the hotel employee saw that the man was still aimlessly wandering around. Once again he approached the man, this time saying, "Jesus sent me to direct you 10 minutes ago. Do you want my help now?" This time the man accepted assistance. How silly we are sometimes. How often we miss the answer to our prayers because we're looking for something else!

My sister and I laughed and laughed about our whole situation. It was just so funny to keep getting lost, and be so challenged in figuring things out. It was so fun to have her to laugh with. What a blessing from God it was to spend such time with her!

the skywalk

This is a gigantic Barnes and Noble that we passed in the skywalk. It has an escalator to the lower level (with lots more books), and used to be a theatre. You can see the stage in the background.

This is some artwork that my sister and I thought was neat, and took pictures of for our artsy daughters to try. The dots give the effect of a mosaic from a distance, but are really "dots" of paint.

The keynote speaker was a man who trains horses and compares it to our relationships with God and our children. They created this arena full of dirt for him. It is a LOT of dirt! We found it pretty amazing that they were able to create this very workable space for the "Sermon on the "Mount'" folks to work in.

Lew from "Sermon on the "Mount'" during one of our workshops.

My sister and I enjoying ourselves at the conference.

Overall the conference was a marvelous experience. It was inspiring, encouraging and informative. There were over 4600 people in attendance. It is really an encouraging thing to be in a room with 4600 other people who have all come together with the goal of being the best educators they can be for their children. I wonder how many fortunate children that represents? I personally knew of 5 families who were represented by 6 of the parents who represented a total of 15 children. If we use that to average 3 children for every person, that would be 13800 children! Wow! We attended some excellent workshops on child training, relationships, and education.

I got the chance to become more familiar with some curriculum that I've been impressed with. Unknown to me, I'd been gradually patterning my own homeschool after a lot of the same ideas and using a lot of the same books. I was able to sit in on one of his seminars and found it very inspiring and encouraging. His heart for raising thoughtful, responsible and Godly children was evident just as it is in the curriculum that he and his wife have developed. I pray God develops that same heart in myself and Dan. I tend toward taking the lazy way out of too many things. But, God is good, and He's been patiently nudging me on. When I look back I can see how He's patiently helped(or helping) me to grow up in him.

I was also able to get some good instruction on teaching writing. That was inspiring and also encouraging. I found that many of the things I've been doing have been good, as well as how to take those things to the next level. I feel more confident to carry on now.

So, it was an all around wonderful time! Dan and the kids also had a good time. He took them to lots of parks and on a lot of walks. They found snails and other water creatures to bring home, and got a LOT of sun. They were all a little pink and quite tired when we got back to my sister's house.

Hehehe! Ok, I just read this and I guess you can sum up this whole thing using the words ENCOURAGING and INSPIRING! I was a bit redundant, but I'm done now, so you get what you get! :)

Hattie's Glasses

Hey all!

I have really wanted to post for a while now, but I just don't have the time! Here's a quick post to show you what our Hattie Girl looks like with her new glasses.

Next post- The MACHE conference: The Country Mice in the Big City. I can't wait to tell you all about it!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ho Hum...

I really don't have too much to say right now, but thought I'd post before we head south. We'll soon be off to the cities for a home school conference. I get to spend two whole days with my sister, minus the men, children, and pets! I'm looking forward to the time with her, and the great information and ideas I'll surely receive at the conference. I know, however, that I am going to miss my family a lot. It's funny that as much as I might need a break from my normal life sometimes, I'm never really fully away, and never fully immersed in whatever I'm doing. There's a huge part of me that's still busy being Mom. I wonder, will it be like this forever? When they're all grown and have flown the coop...
Well, that's as far as that's going to go right now, because I'm tearing up at the thought of them all grown - even though right now they're being SO LOUD I'll be surprised if you can't hear it when you read this, and one of them just dropped a frosted graham cracker on the floor icing down and then proceeded to eat it.

Today was a pretty good day! I'm trying really hard to get 3 good school days in before the conference, and still have enough laundry done and not come home to a house that looks like it's been through a tornado. So far, part success. Schooled all the kids in math, reading and grammar. Listened to my 7 year old do a beautiful job reading aloud to me. That's one of the most rewarding things about homeschooling for me. I love it when they learn to read! Got some laundry done and cleaned the kitchen. However, I have 5 baskets of laundry in the living room that seriously need putting away, only they've been there so long they're probably in need of washing again. I did have to re-wash the basket of towels that the dog decided to use as a bed. :(

Question for Mama Pea's Mr. and Chicken Mama: What do you do when a hen is being "over loved" by the rooster? She has no feathers on the back of her neck or her lower back, poor girl.

Oh, and one last thing. This one's a prayer request of sorts. Today, Molly fell off her horse during her lesson. She hit her nose on the ground, and somehow also her back, just above her hiney and to the side. She's a tough girl and doing fine other than some bruising, but I'll tell ya, it's really a struggle for me not to be afraid for her. I appreciate your prayers for her safety and quick healing of the bruises. Thanks!

Please pray for me, too, come to think of it! I'm feeling a little...or rather a LOT stressed right now, with all the stuff that's been going on. Lots of good stuff, but too much of it!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Wonderful Sunday

Today was a beautiful day! We really packed a lot of "rest" into it! Rest meaning a fun break from doing what's required to do something we think is relaxing and enjoyable.
We started out with some great coffee and quiet time together this morning. I love mornings that start off slow with no particular plan. The morning was beautiful, so after my coffee I went outside with Molly to say hi to the chickens. The black rooster was already busy waking the world with his squeaky crow. That crowing has earned him his new name - Squeak. I spent some time hauling brush, cinder blocks and other odd junk from the designated goat area, then returned to the house to read about fencing with woven wire horse fence. That's what we purchased for the goat fence. I'm hoping that it will hold up despite the fact that I've heard and read so much about what escape artists goats are. It's 5 feet high with 12.5 gauge wire with 2"x 4" rectangles. I'm spacing the posts approximately 8 feet apart instead of the recommended 10. I hope this will prevent the goats destroying it.
I really wanted to get out in my kayak for the first time this spring, so our family and my brother, sister in law and new niece met for a little campfire and picnic. It was so great to get out on the water again! I feel so close to God and so full of His peace when I'm on the water. It's such a nice place to view His creation and enjoy all His handiwork. I only saw one bald eagle while I was on the water today. We also saw an otter, and on the drive home, 18 grouse. Two of them were males with their tails spread and their necks all puffed up. So beautiful! Dan and Molly are happy to see so many grouse this spring, and hoping that means a plentiful season this fall. It was also wonderful to see my brother and his family for a while today.
Oh! One other thing we saw were some VERY large tracks on the road, from either a cougar or wolf. I wish I could post a photo for every one's opinions as to which it was, but the camera steadfastly refused to work today even though it worked perfectly yesterday - fickle gadget! I spent some time online looking at the difference, but I'm still unsure of what we saw. They were about as large as Dan's hand. Whatever it was, the tracks weren't there when Dan rode his bike past the spot. They were there when he returned a couple minutes later, and they were running tracks. The stride was as wide as I could step, and my legs are quite long. Whatever it was, it was BIG. It was only on the road for about 20 yards, and then bounded off again. I think that Dan scared it. He was probably only seconds in front of or behind it. Kind of freaky if you ask me!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

"Farming" Chores Today!

Today was a day full of farmin' chores! Dan and I actually had a lot of fun working together. First, we cleared the future fence line for the goat pen, and part of the future new fence for the chicken yard as well. I still have a lot of brush to move from that job, but tomorrow is another day.

We then began cutting wire for building rabbit cages. We're building them of sturdy welded wire, 36" long x 30" deep x 22" high. It requires a LOT of cutting, and my hands are tired! The pieces are then bent, if they need it, and put together with J clips. Here's the first one all done! We have three more to finish before we bring home our first rabbits. We hope that by mid summer we will have two breeding pairs of New Zeland's.

Yesterday, I covered the area I have planned for my first raised bed (garden) with black plastic. I did this in an effort to kill all the grass and hopefully make it easier to break up the root systems. Dan arranged a trade (horse chores for cedar boards) with a neighbor, so I will have some nice cedar boards coming in about 2 weeks. I'm going to use them for the borders of the raised beds.

Before we moved from the cabin we lived in before we bought this property, I had two beautiful raised beds that Dan built and filled with compost that we made. They were wonderful to work with and very fertile. After 3 or 4 attempts to garden the more traditional way, by tilling up the yard, I'm hoping to recreate those raised beds of the past. They were so nice to work with, and so much less frustrating. I'm not one of those people who has a love of gardening for gardening's sake, so anything to make it easier and less work is welcome!

Molly, the quality control specialist, examines the first cage.

Said cage.

The wire, and cut pieces waiting for assembly.

The intrepid husband/wife team with the finished product. We're happy with our days work!