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

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tepees and Wigwams

In order to get the kids up for school this A.M., I had to call them from outside. The weather was perfect for sleeping out last night, and the older three and dog slept on the lawn. I got up and took this photo before they all got up.

The youngest two girls have been learning about North American native culture this week, so we've made model wigwams and tepees. I've come to see the native homes as great works of art. Trying to make these tiny wigwams almost made me crazy. To make them for real must have taken great skill that I certainly don't posses.

It's been a good week so far!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Counting Blessings #138 - 151

138) fall leaf hikes - crisp leaves, earthy smell, beauty

139) five days at home - This time in quarantine has been just what I needed. Staying home for five whole days without taxiing anyone around has been very nice, and having my family to myself for that time has been great too!

140) nicely trimmed goat hooves - After around four corrective trimmings on Cupcake, she's finally getting a nice flat hoof to walk on, and her trims are going faster. Hooray for that!

141) home grown golden delicious and gala apples - Thanks, Mike and Donna!

142) organic, grass fed beef - This is SO exciting to me! The sweet folks who I doulad for last ordered a quarter of beef for us in exchange for my time with them. Talk about a huge blessing! It was a blessing just being there for them, and we will be receiving this wonderful gift as well. I'm so very thankful.

143) seven freshly processed chickens in the freezer - Yesterday Dan and I processed the seven white orpington chickens that managed to keep away from predators. We did it by ourselves for the first time, and it went pretty well.

144) gaining skills and confidence

145) learning new things - I hope I never stop!

146) Small Farmer's Journal - Dan and I have been enjoying a stack of these for a while now. I like that it gives us ideas to talk over and try out. Lots of fun having projects to work on as a couple.

147) the amazing abundance of tomatoes that grew this year - more than I hoped for - Thank you, God of Wonders!

148) golden aspen leaves against bright blue sky - how could I not be happy with such beauty to see?

149) beautiful weather - It feels like we're getting a real fall this year. The leaves seem to be changing a bit slower than usual, and staying around longer. The weather has been fantastic! I'm soaking up as much of it as I can.

150) a baking day - It seems so long since I've baked anything. It was nice to have some baking time, since the produce isn't keeping me so busy. I made granola and whole wheat crackers. Those wouldn't have been my children's favorite choices. Next chance I get, it's going to be Roman apple cake, and apple crisp. The kids will be much more happy with my choices. I still have over a bushel of apples to process.

151) a day to pause and be thankful - I hope I never stop!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Final Two Winners!

I've got two more lovely Liebster's to introduce you to tonight.

Kim over at Jabez Farm is one entertaining and enlightening blogger. Her blog fast becoming a favorite read. If you'd like to know how to cut up a pig, render lard, raise turkeys, cook or bake something delectable, make your own vanilla extract...well, I could go on, but you get the idea. She's a homeschooling, homemaking, home-girl with a great sense of humor. I hope you love her as much as I do!

And last, but not least, Peggy at Hidden Haven Homestead is sure to make you feel all cozy and homey. Her homestead animal tales are always entertaining and informative, and I love her stories about her grandchildren. Don't miss the one from yesterday! It's great, and all mom's of teens are sure to get a good laugh - and maybe a good idea!?

Thank you, ladies, for the great blogs!

Now if you five awesome women would like to, you may choose five outstanding Liebster's of your own and feature them on your blogs. I'll be reading, and would love to meet some of your favorite bloggers. Happy posting! :)

P.S. I hope this all makes some semblance of sense. I'm a bit tired tonight. We're dealing with whooping cough, and now basically quarantined. We'll be spending the next five days at home (Thank you, God! I'm actually thrilled to be forced to stay home!). Ordinarily, I'd invite you to stop by any time, but please don't right now. Apparently we'll be contagious until Tuesday P.M. :(

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Two More Winners

I'm pleased to introduce you to two more Liebster (dear, sweet, kind, nice, good, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome) women!

Mama Pea at A Home Grown Journal is a real homestead lady. There are two very lovely homesteads in our area that are built with her (and Papa Pea and even Chicken Mama's) blood, sweat and tears. The first is being enjoyed by another couple now, but they are both lovely and well laid out little farms. Mama and Papa Pea are wonderful folks, and full of wisdom about many, many homestead type things. Honey bees, solar power, gardening, poultry, cottage cheese making, kefir, dairy goats (which they had on the "old place"), canning, baking...You really should meet them. You'll be so glad you did!


Erin at Garden Now Think Later is another woman who writes a truly happenin' blog. Her life is always full, and right now it's a bit more full than usual. She and her hubby and boys are in the middle of a big transition right now. Those of us who've gotten to know her through her blog, and are fortunate to have her big transition end with a move to MN, can't wait until it's complete! She is truly an amazing Virginia, no the SUMMER, no kidding! She's also an accomplished espresso maker (and drinker), knitter, food preserver, military wife, and wonderful mother to two really great boys.
She's also very organized. I just had to throw that in because I have no idea what that is (except it looks GREAT!), or how it works, and it amazes me. It would still amaze me even if that's ALL she did, but as you've read, it's not. You should definitely get to know her!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Difficult Task Completed...Drumroll Please!

AND THE WINNERS (in no particular order) ARE...

Sherry over at Russ-stick Acres writes a great blog. I love seeing glimpses of her life; Wee-house, (and it's wee-wee house ;), the goats and other critters both on and around her homestead. Her faith is inspiring to me as well. In some ways she had a rough year, but she looked for and found God and His blessings in the difficulties of it. That's BIG, seeing God not as the cause of our trouble, but the One who wants to help us THROUGH it. Thanks, Sherry, for the encouraging example!

You are a true

lady! Absolutely dear, sweet, kind, nice, good, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome!

I just realized I won't have time to finish this today, but I can't wait to start sharing these awesome women with you. So, I'm going to share in stages. If that means some of my chosen blogs earn this award from someone else before I share them with you, they'll be receiving it more than once. :) Have a great time getting to know Sherry!

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Big Thank You and Hug To Match

Thank you so much Apple Pie Gal, for the fabulous award! Seriously, it feels like a great big hug from a friend. I'm thrilled! I'm most happy because this means I get to choose five of my favorite blogs (and their super wonderful authors) to pass it on to! This is going to be so fun, but so hard. I love all the blogs I read so much. You all inspire me in so many wonderful ways, and I learn so much from you.

The Liebster is awarded to spotlight up and coming bloggers who currently have less than 200 followers.
"Liebster" is a German word meaning dear, sweet, kind, nice, good, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.
I'll be keeping these words in mind as I choose five of you wonderful women, but like I said, this will be HARD! I think all of you exemplify these characteristics!

I've got some choosing to do, but I'll be back! :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Counting Blessings #125 - 137

125) smoky, roasted tomatoes

126) coffee with clover/basswood honey and goat milk - I have a newly discovered love for both the clover/basswood honey I get at our co-op and our sweet goats milk. In fact, don't tell on me, but I sometimes steal a spoonful of honey and eat it by itself. YUMMY!

127) fresh squeezed apple cider - Some good friends gave us a taste yesterday. Oh, my. Tastes like autumn in a glass.

128) littlest daughter's sparkle

129) three weeks of school finished - This time of year is so delightful in the respect that I spend much more time interacting with my children. It's wonderful to spend time snuggled up on the couch together.

130) real snuggling weather

131) count down on the garden - It's nice when there's more stored away than there is left to process.

132) Swiss chard - It's the most amazing stuff! It's sweeter now that there's been frost, and it's greener and healthier than ever. It was one of the first crops to be eaten this spring and is still being eaten fresh.

133) ripe apples off the tree

134) Dani's hawk (story coming soon)

135) This Recipe for grape juice concentrate, also found in the Simply in Season cookbook.

136) Speaking of the Simply in Season cookbook, that's one thing I'm thankful for this week. I just got it a couple of days ago, and I love the way it's organized. It's not just a cookbook, but also a book full of ponderings about every aspect of food. I love how I can search by ingredient and find something to cook or a way to preserve that ingredient. For instance, if you were inundated with turnips, what would you cook? Or chard, or cabbage, what could you do with a mountain of that? This book has helped me answer these questions this week.

137) my husband's organizational skills

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cupcake's (aka Lily's) Antics

Cupcake has a thing for my hood strings. This is our little interaction today.

"I'm not doing anything back here."

the sneak attack

cute, cuddly, but with an ulterior motive

"Got it!"

"If I can't have the string, can't I taste the camera?"

"I'm bad!"

The Season I'm In, and Maybe You Are Too?

I would like to know how many of you ever feel like there's no way you are EVER going to find the bottom of the laundry pile again, or you will NEVER have matching socks in the children's drawers, or how about winter clothing? Anyone else out there planned to get it all washed and put away for the summer, only to find that it's nearly winter again and it's still waiting to get put away? Anyone else sort of feeling that the harder you work the more there is to do? I HOPE so, because I'd like to know that I'm not the only one who is feeling this way. On the other hand, I hope not, since I don't like this feeling and hope none of you deal with it.
So, if you don't, wonderful! I'm genuinely thrilled for you, and so glad there are some of us out there who can plan and execute things so well. You just might be the ones holding the world together! :)
To those of you who are feeling a bit like I am right now, I'm sorry to hear that. But, you know what? There are more of us than you might think, and we're a pretty fantastic bunch of people too. I promise if you invite me over, I won't even look at your laundry pile, and I won't lift the couch cushions either. If I see your children wearing mismatched socks or none at all, I'll assume you've got a life like mine. Very full, and very happy, and a bit chaotic. Maybe you also have many many pints and quarts full of your summers work stocked away in the pantry. Maybe your life's rhythm in the summer is ruled by what the garden or animals are producing, or what summer activities the children are involved with, or both. Perhaps we will all finally get to the bottom of that laundry pile when the garden is sleeping under it's winter's mulch and the jars of summer goodness are being slowly opened and savored.
Life is full of seasons. Sometimes I struggle with fully living in the season I'm in. Sometimes I'm not thankful for the blessings I'm receiving because I'm worried about what's coming next. That too bad, because each season has its treasures and blessings.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tomato Help Needed Again

Hey all! I just helped our Resident Naturalist post about hornets, so please don't miss it even though I'm posting again so quickly.

I have a tomato quandary. It's supposed to freeze tonight, but I have a LOT of tomatoes that look like this:

What would you do? Would you pick them even though they're not quite ripe, or cover them and hope for the best? I'm going to cover them anyway since there are so many green ones. I'd like to give them a chance. But I would hate to loose these beauties when they're so close to ripe! Can I trust covering with sheets to protect them? By the way, that picture is of one of the bush early girls that froze this spring. You can see what it looked like here. See the third photo in the post. Can you believe that? I'm so glad I decided to try letting them grow!
So, please advise me! I await your wisdom... ;)

Guest Post by Resident Naturalist

We went to a place my dad works and saw this hornets nest. It was built on the side of a greenhouse. It was as big as my dad's head. It was like half of a nest. You could see inside of it. The hornets came to feed the larvae. The larvae were wiggling around.
It was really cool because there was another hornets nest inside the greenhouse, but it was abandoned. It was as big as my dad's fist. It was safe to watch the hornets from inside the greenhouse.
Here is a video of the nest that my mom helped me put here.

***Note from Mom***
There are so many fabulous homeschool opportunities in nature! This was a terrific opportunity, being able to safely watch these hornets working inside their nest. Wow!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Counting Blessings #108 - 124

108) camp fires on cool nights, fall hangs in the air while heat glows on the cheeks

109) Good times with little Sis.

110) New babies (1 doula baby this past week and two nieces had babies this week too)!

111) Crisp fall leaves. They smell wonderful, and I love the crunching sound as the goats munch on them.

112) pasta with chopped fresh tomatoes

113) hot tea

114) little girls giggling

115) hugs from half grown son

116) water with fresh lime juice

117) humus (Why are they all food? I must be hungry.) Actually, I am very thankful for healthy food in such abundance.

118) beautiful night sky

119) plenty of wood waiting to keep us warm this winter

120) apples turning red, hanging heavy on branches

121) red kuri squash turning a reddish orange, beautiful splashes of color in the garden

122) moon bathing earth in cool beauty

123) children gathered close

124) barefoot days and quilted nights

Friday, September 9, 2011

An Absolute Must See Film

Today I came across this absolute gem of a film called A Farm For the Future. It just has to speak for itself. If you're interested in sustainable agriculture, you're going to get so much to think about from this. I hope you're inspired by it as much as I was.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Unique Doula Role and Experience

I haven't rally written about my doula experienced on this blog much, and decided I wanted to introduce you to that part of my life today. On Tuesday AM I got to play a unique role for me doing a very different type of doula work. It was a GREAT experience!
I was asked if I would be interested in attending a home birth in order to help the family's two daughters be a part of their new sibling's birth. Wow! Would I EVER! I have long wanted to attend a home birth, and I was thrilled to be asked to be a part of this one. It was by far the most low key, peaceful birth ever. The midwives were fantastic at their job; very knowledgeable and had a peaceful, supportive presence.
My little charges were a delight! Their parents did a super job of preparing them for the labor and delivery. They each had some special jobs they wanted to do and were able to be kept occupied with them when needed. They weren't frightened by the birth process, and were thrilled when baby arrived. Four year old daughter got to tell everyone the sex of baby. :)
I dearly hope that I get to experience more home births in the future.
I know this post is short on details, and there's oh, so much more I would love to say, but this is a small community and I want to allow the families I serve their privacy. That's one reason I don't blog about this too often. It is nice to share with you all this part of my life though! :)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Counting Blessings #98 - 107

98) abundance of tomatoes

99) health all around (It's been a while since we've all been healthy at the dame time, and I'm SO THANKFUL for that!)

100) reaching 100 blessings to be thankful for :)

101) community youth soccer

102) clean goat barn and trimmed hooves

103) great first week of school

104) My Father's World curriculum, for holding up a high standard for my children, and giving them a schedule to follow that wasn't created by me. My children don't try to bargain as much when there's a nebulous "someone out there" who created their assignments. It's working well so far!

105) The guys at Math Teaching Textbooks for creating a wonderful program that allows me to successfully teach increasingly difficult math effectively.

106) all the wonderful things to discover and learn about - it never gets old!

107) Baby niece Bundle of Joy - her enthusiasm and joy are so infectious!

Saturday, September 3, 2011


I had no idea when I was lamenting over my tomato plants what I would be blessed with come late summer/fall. I've been able to make pasta sauce with my tomatoes with the intent to can it for the first time. I had two lovely quarts of sauce made, and both jars broke in the canner. :( I know what I did wrong though, and next time I won't make that mistake. I didn't have the sauce in the jars hot enough to go into the canner that I'd just taken the beans out of. The water in the canner was too hot for the jars and the bottoms broke off. I didn't catch my mistake until after I'd "canned" the sauce. When I opened the lid, I could nearly have cried.
I've got almost enough for another batch if I stretch it with carrots, yellow summer squash, onions, basil, green pepper and garlic that I grew. In fact, if I wait a couple more days I think I'll have more than two quarts this time. Oh, I can't wait! :)

Friday, September 2, 2011

First Week of School

As mentioned, this was our first week of school. We had a really productive first week, but I'm exhausted! This is going to take some serious getting used to.

On Monday we had a patriotic red, white and blue snack (since we were talking about the U.S. Flag and the Pledge of Allegiance for U.S. History/Geography. I love this picture! They were so excited to eat this yummy snack, and it shows in the photo. Fun, fun, fun!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Persuasive Essay

We started school this week. 9th grade daughter's first big assignment was to write a persuasive essay. I loved the topic she chose! She's a girl after my own heart, and she's learning fast. She wants to farm in the future. Her interests lie mainly in animal husbandry, but she's also interested in organic farming of all kinds. She plans to try her hand at a garden of her own next spring.
Following is her (finished?) essay.

Factory Farming vs. Organic Farms

Organic farms are better than factory farms because they are better for the environment, produce healthier food for people, and are more humane to animals.
First of all, large meat producing companies pollute the earth. They have large amounts of animals which means that they have lots of waste to deal with. They use lots of gasoline and energy to move it all. Some of it will run into our rivers and lakes and pollute our water. Some companies have even illegally dumped waste into water. Organic farms use less energy and fuel, and their animal waste can be used as fertilizer because the animals don’t have any added chemicals or hormones.
Products produced at factory farms are unhealthy for people. They have added hormones to make them grow faster and bigger. The animals are fed only corn. This is a cheap way to feed them and it fattens them up quickly. Animals from organic farms are grass fed and free ranged. The meat has no added preservatives, chemicals, or hormones.
Lastly, organic farms treat animals better. They have large pastures so that they are not all crammed together. They are slaughtered by hand so that the people know that the animals are dead before they begin butchering. They are kept in a clean, roomy space. Factory farms, however, are inhumane to animals. They are kept in small, cramped spaces, often indoors. They sometimes have no fresh water and are up to their knees in muck. Animals- mostly chickens, are sometimes killed and butchered with machines. If a chicken somehow misses the part where they get killed, which sometimes happens, they get their feathers plucked while they’re still alive.
For these reasons, I think it is best to support organic farmers and not factory farms. You can support organic farms by buying local at a whole foods store or co-op. You could buy directly from local farmers. You could grow your own food to eat, and even sell it. You could become an organic farmer!