random notes and chit chat from the insanity of our life

Peek into our life and see how crazy it can get with 6 kids, homeschooling, sewing, and now farming. We're in our first year on the land, and entertaining the world with what we don't know. By the grace of God, we're learning, day by day, so pull up a chair and laugh with us!

Monday, December 12, 2011

the ugly Christmas tree...

So, today, we put up our Christmas tree.  Yesterday, we went and bought it.  Spent some time wandering around the lot, stood up lots of trees, critiqued them...  Picked a noble fir, like I like. 
Today, we brought it in, put it in the stand, lights, decorations...  And it's such a GOOFY tree!  Total Charlie Brown tree.  Bad enough that it's kind of...bent, and lopsided, and awkward all around, but there are more ornaments on one side than another, and big gaps in spots where there are no ornaments at all.  And due to Tony being in a definite 2 year old stage, it's got only unbreakable ornaments that won't break my heart to lose on it, lol.  (Good thing, too, since he's already shredded one).
And the truth is...I love it.  I look at that tree and it's beautiful to me.  I can see a time in the future when I will have a pretty tree, with my fragile ornaments...and I don't long for that day at all.  That will mean i have no children at home, or at least no little ones, and though I'm sure I will enjoy that season when I get there, I don't look for it now.  I love my children so much, love this time, and it's rushing by so fast. 
So I will snuggle on the couch, and look at my ugly Christmas tree, and savor every second of this season, even with the shredded ornaments.  And when Megan rolls her eyes about our tree...I'll remember all the ugly trees SHE helped put up, and probably embarrass her by getting misty eyed.  Christmas past, Christmas present, Christmas future....all beautiful.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New inmates at the crazy farm!

Well, it's been a while since I posted...as usual.  summer, fall, pregnancy...all flew by.  Now it's winter, almost December, and my, how things have changed.
The crazy farm has grown.  In October, we were given 2 Toggenberg does, 2 year old twins.  Sweet gals, and then a couple days later, their good buddy, a Jacob ewe, came to join them.  She was so lonely without them that we were asked if we would like her, too.  We're so glad we said yes, she's just the sweetest thing.  Then, early november, we were given 2 horses!  Both Arabian geldings, from 2 different people.  The kids are just loving this, and learning a lot along the way.
But the most exciting addition (to me, at least, lol) is our newest baby.  Jack was born on 11/12, at 10lbs 6oz.  He's a real snuggle baby, spending most of his time in the mei tai carrier, or in someones arms.  Nurses well, sleeps well (snuggled in my arms, lol), makes plenty of diapers.
So...with luck, I can get to posting more.  I always say that, but it rarely happens.  Maybe, instead of only posting when I have something "interesting" to say...I should just use it like a diary and post every day, and hope something interesting HAPPENS, lol!
So, today...we are starting to get back to routine.  I love cold weather.  Makes me want to cook.  Lunch was easy, ramen and hot cocoa.  Made triple chocolate cookies (chocolate batter with white and chocolate chips) for snack.  Made a double batch of MY cocoa for the fridge (the kids are happy with powdered stuff, but not I.  I drink from scratch only!).  Made a batch of cranberry sauce...because it sounds good.  Sliced the meat and mixed up the au jus for tonights french dip sandwiches, from Saturdays roast beef (instructions at the end).  Sliced up the potatoes for the french fries, now they are soaking in hot water.  Trying a new way of making them, since my deep fryer died. All that AND did some schoolwork with the kids, couple loads of laundry, changed my bed, kept the fire going...  
Now, the cookie recipe is here...http://www.hersheys.com/recipes/recipes-by-type/20/Cookies.aspx?ICID=KH1433  I usually do 1 cup chocolate chips with 1 cup white, but have done 1 cup of pb chips instead of the white, or 2 cups of mint (andes) chips instead of the white...  Always a hit, no matter what I do!
And for the french dip...  I love french dip sandwiches, but have gotten so good at making them that I don't order them in restaurants anymore really.  Make a roast beef for dinner.  Make plenty, to have a good chunk leftover.  Save that, and save the leftover gravy or drippings (make SURE to have leftovers on the gravy, it makes the au jus!).  Next day or two, slice the roast up nice and thin (I have a meat slicer, it helps a LOT for those of us who cook a lot, especially for larger families.  I buy salami in the long tube and slice it myself, etc.  Saves a lot of money!).  Mix up a couple few cups of bullion or beef broth (I like to use beef base from Sams, mixed with water).  Add in the leftover gravy and whisk till smooth.  Pour over the sliced meat, in a big oven safe dish, and heat through.  Serve on toasted buttered sourdough bread, with french fries and some veggies.  I think we're having steamed broccoli with cheese).  Make sure to serve with bowls of au jus.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A confession...

I have a confession to make.  My favorite time of day is...bedtime.
I know, I know.  Bedtime?  What an awful thing for a mom to say, right?  (joking).  But it is.  Not for the usual reasons, though.
I love bedtime, because I am a terrible mother, and I snuggle my children to sleep.  Not the older 2.  DD1 (15) and DD2 (almost 11) would not go for that anymore, being so "grown up".  My little 3, however, DD3 (7), DS1(5) and DS2(2) are my snuggle bunnies.
There is nothing like snuggling my darling children to sleep.  Whispering together about the day.  Discussing random questions that pop out of their mouths.  Hearing their sweet and silly prayers each night, learning what seems important to THEM each night.  Then holding them as they go limp, and looking at their sweet faces, asleep and relaxed and still for a few moments...
I remember, even at the end of the longest day, why I do this.  Why I stay home with them, homeschool them, put everything that I am into raising them, even on the days that it seems I am failing.  Because they are my greatest gifts, and I thank Him for them every night as I tuck them in and head to my own bed.

Moving a calf, or how NOT to do it!

We had a bit of fun here yesterday.
DD1(15 years) decided that the beef steer (4 months), who is still in his small pen by the house, was sad and wanted to graze on green stuff.  He's eaten every bit in his pen, so is eating hay till we can move him to the big pasture.  So, without checking with me, she got a halter on him, and dragged him out under the fruit trees.  Chained him to the plum tree with a dog chain, filled a bucket of water...and that's when I happened by a window.
I'd wondered why suddenly, all the kids were outside, lol.  Now, I knew.
Went out, and sure enough, he was grazing happily on the chain.  Ok, well, it's YOUR responsibility to keep an eye on him, DD1.  Don't let him get tangled in it, or off of it, etc.
Couple hours later, I look out, there he is, grazing away.  5 minutes later....GONE!  ACK!  SO, leaving DD2 (11 years) to watch DS2 (the 2 year old), we all went out to hunt.  Finally found him, behind the pond, grazing away at more green stuff.  He came frolicking over, till he got about 10 feet from us, then he stopped and looked at us like "uh oh, the fun is over, huh?"
DD1 managed to catch him pretty easily, but MOVING him was another story.  She's hanging on the front of the halter, on the ground, on her belly, and he's backing up, head low, dragging her, lol.  I sent DD3 (7 year old) for the bottle, told her to fill it halfway with water.  Couple minutes later, she's back, with it full.  She waves it, and he trots over, leaving DD1 in the dust, lol, literally.  She takes the bottle from DD3, and starts to try to .... tempt him back to the pen, but he's having NONE of it.  He wants that bottle, and NOW.  So she's RUNNING to the pen, and he's running circles around her, tripping her, mooing frantically...She's got the BOTTLE!!  Finally, she makes it to the pen, gets him in there, and feeds him the bottle of water. 
Needless to say, the rest of us were NO help, rolling on the ground laughing as we were.
And no, he didn't break the chain.  Somehow, it unlatched itself from the halter.  She forgot that it used to do that for the dog, too, which is why we don't USE that chain anymore.....

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Butchering day...the first, but not the last

So, today was the day.  I had chickens to butcher, morning sickness or not.  6 chickens, and no idea what I was doing, lol.
I printed up step by step (with pictures) directions, from a blog a friend found for me.  Found some sharp knives, some buckets, a sheet we never use, a garbage bag to cover the table....  put some water on to boil, and off I went.
It went surprisingly well.  Only got 2 done, but for a first day...and it was about 3 hours, but we had to stop during the 2nd to wait for the water to get hot enough....  So I'm pleased.
Killing method was novel, but the blog made it seem workable, and it was.  Grab the chicken by the legs and hang it upside down till it calms.  Swing your arm back, up and over, and smack the chickens head into something hard (I used the chopping block).  Knocks it unconscious, and you can then find the jugular (hopefully, that part was tough) and slice.  Hold upside down to bleed out, and off to the scalding pot.
My "scalding pot" was an old cat litter bucket, well scrubbed.  Put in some cold water from the hose, add hot water, check temp.  Good.  Dip, swish, 30 seconds of swishing around, then on the table to pluck.  WOW, that was easy peasy.  Feathers come right out.  I probably missed a few pinfeathers somewhere, but it's all good.  Then cut it open, remove the guts (kids were fascinated by seeing all the organs, we spent quite a bit of time discussing what was what), and the head, lower legs, etc.
Rinse, bag, weigh....70oz!!  Nice sized roaster, IMO.  Repeat, second chicken was 58oz, and that one I cut into parts to grill or fry one night.
It feels really satisfying to see, in the fridge, 2 chickens that I raised, butchered, cleaned, etc, resting to be eaten in a couple of days.  I admit to throwing away all the offal, because I was too hot by then to go dig a hole, lol.  I need a shady place to work, instead of sitting in direct sun.  Dh is already thinking of plans to build me an area with running water, a sink, a counter, a propane burner or a turkey fryer for boiling water in....
I'm thinking to do another batch in the fall.  25-50 (ok, maybe a couple smaller batches?).  My tractor only holds about a dozen, so I either need several more, or one larger one.  But I might even consider selling meat birds, so it's all stuff to think about....
Can't wait to see how it tastes!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

getting moving again

So, at almost 15 weeks pg, and still queasy and tired a lot of the time, I have decided that, like it or not, I have to push past this.  To encourage myself, I am going to keep a running list of what I get done today.  Always feels like more when you can SEE it, ya know?
8:40am-So far, we are up and moving WAY earlier than has been our norm the last couple of months.  Lately, if we finished breakfast and chores by 930, it was a good morning.  Today, it's 840, and breakfast and chores are done.  All animals are fed.  I have started a load of laundry, stripped my bed, straightened my bathroom.  Vacuumed the floor (I am ashamed to admit how long that had been since it was done...).  Baking soda'd it, and will vac again in a few minutes.  Kitchen is cleaned up, dishes are soaking.  Everyone is dressed, including Tony, who peed in the POTTY this morning, too!!
As soon as Mariah finishes the catboxes, I will vac the bathroom floor again.  Megan is mowing and weed whacking the fenceline, then we are going to start working on the storage room in the shop.  Having a garage sale in a few weeks with a friend, so need to go through everything and find lots to sell.  AND need to make room in the storage room to move toys and art supplies out there, inaccessible to little hands.
9:17am- vac'd my room again.  Switched laundry.  cleaned the little potty chair, that we never use, for the garage sale.  got new sheets and mattress pad out for my bed (switching from winter to summer pad).  cleaned up floors in family room and kitchen.  tony pottied in the potty AGAIN!  YAY!  Made dr appts for Steve (checkup), Tony (recheck iron), and myself (referral to OB I have chosen) for Friday, Steves day off.  Now at a bit of a standstill till Megan is done outside.  Sent kids out to check all the waterers for the poultry.
10:19-switched more laundry.  hung out the mattress pad to sun and dry. helped Megan fix weed whacker.  She finished.  Letting her rest a bit then we start again!  YAY!!!  Tried to do some computer work, couldn't figure out how to do what I need.  Took Tony potty again, nothing this time.
12 noon.  lunch break.  Working on the shop room.  Finding lots to get rid of, lots to sell.  Have stuff for Steve to look at tonight, too.  And Tony ASKED to use the potty, peed AND pooped in it.  Has been dry all morning.  WOOHOO!
335pm-Done for the day.  Went through EVERYTHING in the storage room.  organized what we kept, and got rid of a TON.  I hope people want books at this garage sale, lol.  Probably a dozen moving boxes of books.  Tomorrow, we start hauling the boxes of kids clothes out there, and move the art supplies. 
AND, I got our book "stores" down to the point where ONE more bookshelf in the house will easily hold all the kid books, and maybe some room for me, too.  That's amazing.  Still have a lot, but I really weeded down a ton.  Have a few boxes to look at when Steve comes home, and need to ok selling the desk with him, but then I can make dinner and kick back for the day.  Good thing, too, because I am exhausted.  About to reward all of us with ice cream cones.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Blog! I found you!!

Oh, blog, I have missed you!  The last few weeks, I have been thinking of you, but I had a computer crash, and couldn't find you!  Aaaaaah, I am back.
So, quick updates on my life...
I am almost 13 weeks pregnant, and morning sickness is ALMOST gone finally.  However, it may take me months to dig out from the mess that happened while I was sick.  Ack!
The garden is getting tilled Friday.  YAY!  I can't wait to plant.  Better late than never, right?  Between the weather, and morning sickness, and then the kids had a stomach bug (that lasted over 2 weeks between the 5 of them...)...
I have chickies!  Alice hatched 11, though she is down to 7 (and one of those is in the brooder with a hurt leg).  Lost one to a water trough, 2 to weakness from birth (they were just never "right") and 2 to who knows what.  I also have 6 cornish cross in the tractor, 3 turkeys and 2 pullet chicks (6 weeks old or so) in the coop, and another 8 pullet chicks in the brooder.  And I need to find some more Polish Crested for the kiddos.
We have a beef calf, too.  He is about 6 weeks also, and quite happy.  Needs to be "steered" soon, though, and moved out to the back pasture.
 I think that is enough for now.  Hopefully can start blogging more, now that I found you!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Easy chore, right?

So, we got wood delivered, a couple of weeks ago.  Wonderful dry wood, peach, walnut and oak (mostly oak).  A cord of wood is a LOT bigger pile than it seemed like in my head, mind you.  It's about half stacked, slowly getting more stacked as the kids get badgered out there.
Now, normally, Steve splits kindling for me.  He's not in very good health, so I figured it certainly couldn't be as hard as it seems when he comes in afterwards, you know?  How hard can it be?  Stand wood up, hit with hatchet, smack on chopping block a couple times, kindling falls off the side.  Repeat.
Well, today, we needed kindling, and he's at work.  So, off I go, with 2 big buckets and the hatchet.  Stand wood up, hit with hatchet, WOAH!  Hatchet bounces OFF wood!  Barely even a dent!  Ok, try again, harder.  Watch fingers closely.  Stand wood up, hit with hatchet, ok, it's in.  Abouuuuuut...a half inch.  Well, it's in.  Smack on chocking block.  Smack on chopping block.  Smack a bunch more times.  It's in about...another eighth of an inch.  CRUD!
Ok, get a hammer.  Smack back of hatchet with hammer, till arms fall off.  Then rip the kindling the rest of the way off of the wood.  Realize that hammer is broken (already was, split in handle, OW!  Pinched my finger thumb).  Get another hammer.  Start allllllll over again.
I think a half hour of splitting got me about a half a bucket.  I MAY have enough till lunch.  Of course, finger sized pieces burn really quickly, so maybe not.  And I only got that much because I hunted down a piece of scrap 2x4 (not pressure treated) and split that.  Splits much easier.
Oh my gosh, if I'd been a pioneer woman, I'd have just died.  Childbirth is much easier.  I need to make something especially wonderful for Steve tonight, after he comes home and splits me wood.  He deserves it!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Well, NOW I know how firewood keeps you warm.  Not just the fire, but the prepping the wood!
We're down to green wood, mostly tree limbs.  They don't burn well, don't light well, and they make NO heat.  Heck, I can HEAR some of them steaming once I get them lit.  Will be buying wood this weekend (hopefully!), so....
SO I lost my mind and went outside, lol.  Dh had said that when he got home, he'd cut up a pallet to burn.  We have a bunch (3?  5?) plus a couple broken ones, and they make great wood.  Nice and seasoned, oak, hot...  Checked the wood pile, brought in the last 4 pieces he'd cut up on Saturday, looked at all the green wood, and said NO.  Dragged a broken pallet into the breezeway and busted it up, hands and feet.  Kicked it apart, pulled it apart...jumped on the long pieces to break them...  I now have a nice pile of oak bits for today, lol, and I may never need it.  I'm SWEATING!  Dragged the other broken one into the breezeway, too, so the rain coming doesn't soak it.  Wet wood doesn't burn well either, we've learned.
Such a learning curve, lol!  So much to learn, so little brain to do it with!