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

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Counting Blessings #86 - 97

86) abundance of green beans (in canner now) and summer squash
87) God's amazing Goodness sought and found, even on days when it seemed nothing was good. This never ceases to amaze me! It reminds me of one of my favorite Bible verses; "This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast..." When I need an anchor, I start counting blessings. I find my anchor has more to grip that way.
88) beautiful rainbows and water drops in the sun
89) unexpected windfall of gently used hand me downs for the kids (Thanks Mary!)
90) quiet A.M. and P.M. milkings marking the beginning and ending of the day, creating a rhythm, providing opportunities for thought and prayer
91) doing things I'd never thought I'd do, surprised to find strength and grace I didn't know before
92) Rich Mullins music playing in the background
93) quiet and peaceful Sunday
94) first day of school tomorrow, marking a new season; time to slow down, snuggle, read with kids, learning new skills together, celebrating milestones
95) cool mornings and evenings, snuggling under the blankets again
96) warm days, summer lingering in the air, not quite time to give it up yet
97) staying home more; I love home :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Little Girls and Little Bunnies

We have bunnies just opening their eyes again, and happy little girls. :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Ahh...finally! I've been waiting for this all summer, and finally it's time! Tomatoes and basil at the same time. Joy!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lily on the Milking Stand

I'm finally getting a photo of my milking stand up here. I purchased the head stall portion of the stand, and Dan figured out a way to attach it to an old coffee table for me. It saved a considerable amount of money over buying the whole thing, but not as much as building the whole thing would have. It was a nice compromise between cost in money and cost in time spent.
Lily and I continue to improve in our milking skills, and very slowly Lily seems to be giving more milk. It's still a miniscule bit that wouldn't seem worth it to most people, but it's enough for Hattie's needs, so it's worth it to me. If we get to an amount that's not completely embarrassing I'll give you an exact figure. Say, a pint a day. When we achieve that (if ever), I'll let you all know. ;) There's a clue as to how much work I'm doing, and for how little. I am learning a lot though, and that makes it worth it to me.
Molly's going to try her hand at the milking tomorrow. Hopefully she likes it and will make a good back up in case of emergency.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Counting Blessings #74 - 85

74) This week was a rough one health wise, so first and foremost, I'm thankful for God's sustaining me during a very busy week while feeling under the weather with no time to rest. Many of the things I'm thankful for this week relate to the hard go I've had. I think I never really recovered fully from this illness, and had a major set back. I'm on the mend now though, and trying to take some time each day for rest. :)

75) the prayers of faithful friends

76) God's healing touch

77) helpful children

78) cool breeze off the harbor

79) abundant harvests (see new header photo for today's)

80) fresh goat milk (It tastes SO MUCH BETTER than that I've purchased in grocery stores.)

81) white washed chicken coop; fresh starts, new beginnings, clean slates...grace in many forms

82) Rest

83) Lynn (I hope you're up and about and able to read this. You really worked hard to bless so many children's lives this past week. I'm very thankful for you, and the chance to talk with you for a while. Praying for your healing, and hoping you're feeling better. Hugs!)

84) birthdays (38 years yesterday. I'm not afraid to say it, yet...) :)

85) YOU! Each and every one of you! It's been a hard week to be thankful, but I knew at least a few of you would be looking to see what I had for the week. It kept me searching! It's almost like searching for hidden treasure sometimes, and finding another gift is such a surprise. Surprised by Grace...I like that. :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Lily Pics

Here are the pics of sweet little Lily. She's just a dear! Can't you tell just by looking at these? :)
So far the other girls aren't taking to her well. I think things are better when no people are around, but when we're there they really keep her away. Pansy tries to bite her ears. They both chase and butt her. I keep praying they settle down soon. I really don't know how long it should take, but I'd hoped they'd already have it worked out. It's making for a lot of waste hay since I want to make sure Lily gets enough. I try to put it in a few different places.
Well, it's off to bed for me. I. Am. So. Tired......Goodnight all. :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

New Goat News

I spent the day yesterday driving over to the Iron Range to get our newest goat, Lily. I love that drive! So relaxing, no traffic and there's some farm country to see too.
I spent a couple of hours at Baa-si Farmz, where I purchased Lily, learning now to draw blood, and talkin' goat. It was a blast. I was a bit surprised by Lily's tiny stature. She's only 16 months old now, so still growing. As a first freshener, her udder is only so-so (but nicely attached, and her teats are quite small. I milk with only my thumb and first two fingers.
Speaking of milking, I've done it twice so far. Once at 7:30 P.M. when I got home yesterday and at 7:30 this A.M. Last night's milking was extremely laughable. It took way longer than it should have, me being so inexperienced, and Lily never having been milked. Neither of us knew what we were doing. Molly had to help me hold her leg so she couldn't step in the milk pail or kick me. I got milk everywhere but the pail for a while, then it was a hit or a miss. Lily had just nursed her doeling for the last time right before I drove home. Any way, all said and done, I got a WHOPPING TWO OUNCES OF MILK! This A.M. was slightly better at 5 ounces and no leg holding. We're both catching on!
I don't think she was nursing her baby as she should have been. She had rejected her and was just beginning to take her back. Also, a single doeling doesn't really need all that much milk. For those reasons, I'm sure she's not giving as much milk as she's capable of. She's only 3 weeks fresh, though, so I'm hoping with patience and proper feeding we'll both continue to improve. We should have some time since does generally peak in their lactation at about two months. By her second freshening we'll both be old pros (I hope).
The good news: I'd said I'd be happy with enough for my daughter's breakfast, and she had enough for her granola this A.M. She was all smiles and loved the milk. It was worth it!
Sorry no pictures yet, but at this point just accomplishing the task of properly cleaning everything, and milking, and re-cleaning is taking too much brain power. When I get more used to the process, I'll try to get some photos.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Counting Blessings #56 - 73

57) beautiful waxing moon
58) wind in the trees at night
59) rain
60) freshly mowed grass
61) lovely piano music on Ann's blog (sometimes I log on just to let the music play)
62) getting closer to a new school year, spread before us fresh and clean
63) quiet time alone
64) sleeping baby Bundle of Joy
65) chicken and rabbit meat processed
66) Lisa :)
67) All-American pressure canner
68) clean chicken coop ready for new flock
69) full moon
70) sound of goats munching hay - so relaxing
71) good chocolate
72) sun tea
73) orange juice

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Meat! Oh yeah.

Today we finally got time to deal with the old hens. We processed eight of them, and also two rabbits. Dan was just refreshing his memory for when we do the whole batch of bunnies, which should be soon. We were so thankful that our good friend Lisa could come over and give us a hand with the slaughtering and cutting up of the hens. We haven't, up to now, butchered enough to remember what we're doing, so we were really glad to have a knowledgeable person present.
One of our old hens weighed in at seven and a half pounds before processing, and we found a strange surprise inside her. Over a pound and a half of yellow fat in her abdomen. Yucky! That's what gluttony gets you I guess. She's always been the "boss" and the first one to get anything good. Also, just as I suspected, she was a faker. She had no eggs in her at all, but usually spent some time on the nest each day and left bragging about...nothing. She never left an egg behind, just faked it. She did dress out nice and plump though.
We found a lot of egg yolks inside most of the hens. I forgot to take a picture of that, but I have a whole bowl full in the fridge, and I plan to feed them to my family for supper with some fried potatoes. Does anybody do that? I really don't know if I'm crazy for doing this or not, but I'm going to try it.

In this crock pot there are all the hearts and gizzards as well as the backs, ribs and necks, and the two rabbit rib cage sections. There are also garlic, onions and pepper corns. It smells wonderful in here! I'm getting hungry.

The rest of the meat; breast sections, legs, wings and thighs, fit into eight quart jars, and I canned them. I think some of the meat floated up and pushed the lids up a bit, releasing some of the broth. Bummer, because that stuff is good. I'm looking forward to making a good soup soon so we can try the chicken. It looks like it got nice and tender from the canning.

Tomorrow it's off to get my newest goat! Milking tomorrow night if all goes well! :) I'm also learning to draw blood so I can do that myself. It really pays for me to learn to do all I can since there's not a large animal vet anywhere within a 3 hr. drive of where I am. This way I'll be able to send blood in to the lab myself to test for disease or pregnancy. These tests are very inexpensive provided I can draw the blood and send in the paperwork myself.

Wishing all of you a wonderful weekend! Happy homesteading, homeschooling, homemaking...Happy "home" and all that means for each of you!

Thursday, August 11, 2011


That's how many blogs I follow (or attempt to). It's too many, but they're all good! I don't want to let any of you go, ever. I find such great information and am so entertained, encouraged, stretched, sharpened...affected in so many great ways by all of you. What a dilemma! :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cupcake (aka Lily)

I'm happy to introduce Cupcake to you! It looks like she'll be joining Pansy and Starlight soon, and will get a name change to Lily. I got the chance to purchase her from a breeder who had decided to sell her herd of Nigerians. I'm really excited by the prospect of having milk sooner than next May! Her little doeling is going to be sold to someone else as a bottle baby, so I will be able to try my hand at milking right away. I really don't know how that will go, or what her udder is going to be like when it's allowed to bag up good (if it does indeed bag up good). I guess that's a mystery for all of us. I hope for enough milk for our cows milk intolerant daughter to have milk for her cereal and a glass at dinner. I'll be pretty happy with that for now, though I hope for enough for all our needs in the future.
I've read in my research that a well-bred Nigerian doe can produce an average of a quart a day over the 305 day lactation period. At peak production (two months into the lactation cycle) some does are now producing over 6 lbs of milk a day, some nearly seven (one gallon). The way things stand now the three does I have are on a one fall freshener and two spring fresheners schedule. If I could spread my spring fresheners out by a month it would be ideal, except for the logistics of where to put all of them. Since things aren't often "ideal" we'll all get to see what actually happens over the next year. OK, are you bored yet? I've got goat fever right now. Sorry to all of you who aren't interested in goats, but watch out, I hear it's contagious! ;)

Lilly with her current doeling

Monday, August 8, 2011

Counting Blessings #33 - 55

Oops! I missed my counting blessings post yesterday. Here it is any way; I couldn't wait another whole week.

33) goats in milk :) (I'll tell ya more about that later)
34) the first ripe tomato of the season
35) a clean(er) house
36) town festivals
37) Amy, Andy and Sparrow
38) gardeners that know stuff about gardening :)
39) Blueberry Jam (terrific local band)
40) aunts and uncles
41) parades
42) fire works
43) ripe nectarines
44) belly laughs
45) husband's smile when the eyes smile too
46) cookouts with good friends
47) Vacation Bible School - children having fun all morning
48) two more weeks of swimming lessons
49) lawns growing more slowly - more time with husband
50) weeks and weeks of open windows
51) whole foods co-op
52) milk straight from the cow
53) sunglasses
54) good books
55) sunlight glinting off of water

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Guest Post by Resident Naturalist, age 8

A few weeks ago my dad and I looked into a nest by our old green house. A bird flew out, and it hit me on the head. That really happened! I saw her go in and out. She had a nest in there. The eggs hatched and now the baby birds flew away.

Today I went with binoculars and saw a gold finch in her nest. I watched her stand up and move her eggs around with her beak. I saw her fly away and land in a tree. She made a pretty call and a bunch of other gold finches came to her, and then they flew away. I could see it really up close with binoculars and it was really cool.

In our bard there are baby squirrels. I saw one. It was really curious. It came very close to me. When I came close to it it ran behind some hay bales. It ran onto a window sill. I almost trapped it with the shutters. Right before it got away, I touched its tail.

When I was in our greenhouse, I saw some mice. I followed them outside. I found their house, and also a mouse nest.

I was by our barn and I saw a chipmunk eating feed. I got very close to it. It ran away. A few minutes later I saw something in the chicken fence. The little trees were bending down. I went inside, but it was a sparrow.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Critters at Tanglewoods

There's a lot going on here with the animals, too. We'll soon have full freezer and pantry shelves, and it feels good to finally have some pay back for all the spending money on feed and time on care. My husband is really excited about getting a "harvest" soon. So, here's what's going on now.

We weren't supposed to get any roosters with our last batch of chicks, other than the dozen white orpington's we got as meat birds...

...but this guy must have been sexed wrong. He's a picture of manliness, cockerel style. Only 8 weeks old, crowing and attempting to mate with the young ladies. Isn't he a beauty? I wish I could communicate to him that his very life depends on his being gentle with the humans here at Tanglewoods.

And then there's this chicken here. It was our rare breed chick, and is one of my favorites, though I suspect it's also a cockerel. I'm not positive yet about that, however. I'm really hoping it's a hen. We really can't keep three roosters with only a dozen hens. We definitely want to keep the rooster we have now (he's such a gentleman with his ladies, protective over them but never aggressive in any way), though he's about to loose all but one of his current hens. I hope he likes his replacements. I believe the old hens will be going into the canner and freezer on Sunday (I hope).

Our meat birds are growing really well. They'll be fryer size in five more weeks, so we'll be busy again then.

The bunnies are fryer size now, and ready to go in the freezer. That should happen later this week. They're weighing in at about 5#, so all dressed out we should end up with about 50 lbs. of rabbit. Someone get the BBQ sauce, and I'll start the grill! Mmmm, yummy!
We also have two more batches of bunnies due soon. Looking forward to a winter of rabbit stews!
Is this making food out of these cute furries difficult? You bet it is, but it's also going to be so good to have healthy, clean, ethically raised meat. There hasn't been a lot of meat around here lately, and every one of us is looking forward to eating well on this little homestead.

Dan surprised me with this awesome goat "balance beam". I was so thrilled when I saw it! I'm very thankful for so many things about this man. However, lately it seems like the already terrific guy has been quietly replaced with a super deluxe version. I was absolutely shocked yesterday when he said, "I think I'll come to town with you. I don't feel like working today." WHAT? Rather run errands with me in town than work? That's just too unbelievable. But, we had a real nice time running errands together. While I was shopping at the co-op he even took little Six on the kiddie rides (our town's most popular summer festival began on Thursday).

The goat jungle gym makes the perfect spot to sit in the shade and have a chat with a good friend.

As usual, Starlight would rather eat.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Garden Update II

cucumbers are on the way

yellow crookneck summer squash

snow peas need picking daily

cabbage heads are getting quite large

Deer tongue lettuce, my new favorite. It's growing so well, lasts a long time in the garden, and tastes great. I'm definitely going to do a lot of succession planting of this next year.

Other goings on that I don't have pics of:
-We're eating some broccoli, but it's not growing very successfully. This is my first time growing it, so I don't really know what to expect. I don't know if it's because it's been a warm summer, or the type of broccoli I planted, but it doesn't grow very big before it's beginning to flower out and I have to cut it now or never. This means we aren't getting as much as I'd hoped for.
- I've got Swiss chard coming out my ears. I'm freezing it, stir frying it, egg baking it, and still it continues to flourish beyond what I need. I'm blessed to have it, but I'm going to have to get really creative! :)
- The green beans are almost ready to begin picking.
- Lots of pesto made, and the basil is still going strong. I'm hoping to have some when the tomatoes are ready for making caprese salad. I almost can't wait! Oh, yummy!
- Cilantro is barely hanging in there, but I keep cutting back. I don't think it's going to make it until the tomatoes are ready, but I wish I could have it timed it right. I'd wanted it for salsa, but I might have to buy some instead.

Also growing are:
-red cabbage
-red curry squash
-green pepper
-tom thumb lettuce

That's all I can think of right now.

The nest post should be a livestock update. Goat pics on the way!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Garden Update I (Tomatoes)

First, I'm happy to report that there was no more tomato damage this A.M. I went out with a flashlight after dark last night and couldn't find any more worms. Oh, thank you, God!

The garden from a distance

Bush Early Girl (Oops! I think this is Thessaloniki(?), not bush early girl.)

First ripening tomato. Beefmaster is coming in first, even before Stupice and Early Girl.

Pear Tomato

These are the tomatoes on the plants that froze this spring. I had cut away every bit of foliage after they froze, and they looked like sticks poking out of the ground, except that there were tiny itty bitty suckers on them. What amazing little plants they turned out to be!

Bush Early Girl

Olive Grape

Monday, August 1, 2011

Tomato Help Needed

OK all you experienced gardeners, I need help! I found my first ripening tomato today, and also found these. Can I get rid of these guys? Any suggestions would be oh so helpful. In my arsenal already are insecticidal soap, diatomaceous earth and neem oil. Would any of these be helpful to me? I've been so careful of these tomatoes, and they've come through so much. I've got so many of them near ripening. I hope I don't loose them all now!