Until next time,
Our youngest son, Monkey, was born on a Tuesday evening eight days after his due date. I thought I was going to be pregnant forever. There is a misconception out there that the more babies you have earlier you might deliver. Not me. I think Monkey could hear how crazy and chaotic it was out in there that he decided to stay in his watery world for as long as possible. When he was finally born...he was mad. After being in labor off and on for eight days and little progress, my midwife had we drink a couple of ounces of castor oil. I hate the stuff, but ya know what, it works. Four hours after my "cocktail" labor kicked into high gear. I was out walking the driveway and B was about to send me out the door to go see a movie and just relax and see if that would help my body keep labor going. I told him that I think it would be best to get the children ready to go to his mom's house and to call the midwife. Contractions were 5-7 minutes apart and very strong. This was around 6pm. Midwife arrived at 8pm and Monkey was born at 8:40pm weighing 8 lbs 3 oz and ? inches long. Our computer crashed earlier this year and silly be didn't back up photos, so I might not have very many from when he was first born and those first couple of months.
Tomorrow Monkey will be 14 months old...he is growing up too fast! Wish you a great year Monkey. Daddy and I love watching you learn and grow up. Kisses to my littlest man!
Until next time,
Wow...it's already past the middle of June (***When I started this post, that was accurate! Can we just pretend that it is still June?) and I have been busy, but don't have a lot to show for it it seems. The beginning of the month, or the end of last month we went to our local Homeschool Convention. I always feel inspired and rejuvenated to start school again. The end of this school year was a challenge and I found it very difficult to stay on task and motivated to get our lessons done. We pretty much took all of April and May off...not a planned vacation, but for my sanity, we stopped. I am in the process of getting lessons planned and organized because this year I will be schooling not one, not two, but three children. Junior will be finishing third grade work and starting on fourth grade as the year progresses. He has the reading level of a fifth grader and above (he's 8 years old), but struggles with math and writing assignments. Bubba will be doing first grade work and Junebug will begin kindergarten. She is so ready to be doing big girl school. Pipsqueak will have her own worksheets to practice on and will do all the crafts and letter sound activities. Monkey, well, we will plan to do school during his nap time which currently is from around 12:30-3:30 daily. I'm sure by the time we start school he'll change his routine on me. Such is life. We "plan" to have a start day for the new school year on June 30th, that way, when the wonderful harvest comes in the fall we can take some time off and when spring weather arrives again next year I won't feel guilty about not finishing school like the public schools do in our area. The freedom of being a home schooling family!
We took a geology field trip the first full weekend of June about 2 hours west of us. The president of the Heartland of America museum took us out to a local quarry for us to dig around in the rocks and sand. The children loved climbing up the mountains of rocks and searching for treasures. Monkey got to ride on B's back and towards the end got to climb on top and feel the different textures of the rocks. We checked on the different layers of the earth inside the walls of a dug out spot in the quarry and they showed us the operation of excavating sand. We believe that the three littles all got Ecoli from said quarry. We think that the water sourced used there may not be the cleanest and after running around and touching everything they had time from the quarry to the museum to sit in the van and suck their thumbs without their hands being washed. Wiped with a baby wipe, but not a good scrub. That's what I did the for the next week in June...puke and poop patrol!
After the geology tour we went further south and came across some interesting cliffs and went for a short hike. The town we were in is near the Oklahoma border. Parts of Oklahoma are known for having red, clay soil. I thought our clay soil on our farm was bad. The weather was nice for our field trip day. Cool in the morning, warm in the afternoon, but not sweat your butt off hot! My van looked like a hot mess after playing in muddy rocks, sand, and red clay!
The garden is growing, but so are the weeds. It's an endless battle and I don't seem to be winning. I am working on mulching the garden, but I go to bed too late to get up early enough to get outside before the kiddos wake us up and after breakfast we have been doing Summer Reading at our library and Vacation Bible School. Maybe tonight will be the night I go to bed early and get up early and make some progress. It's too hot to work during the day and the mosquitoes are horrible at night. Let's see, can I come up with anymore excuses? We did harvest the first thing from our garden last night...peas! They were the best peas I've ever had, with some fresh creamy butter. Yummy! I think we have enough out there for another meal, but otherwise we'll have to try again this fall and see if we can't get enough to maybe put some in the freezer. Our dinner was primary grown or raised off the farm last night. Pork kabobs and peas we raised/grew and potatoes with our herbs on them. It makes all the hard work worthwhile when you have the children next to you raving about how much they like your food and can you make it again next week!
Our chicks that we brought home in early May have not done the best and out of 85 we have 35 left. The hens we will keep for eggs and the roosters will go in the freezer. B just got done making them a chicken tractor that we can move each day or every other day while the grow to get fresh greens and bugs. They seem to be enjoying themselves. The children helped paint the frame of the portable chicken run and I'm not sure who or what had more paint on it. Probably the children. No pictures of that, but you can imagine paint everywhere. I mean everywhere. I was picking paint out of the girls' hair for days!
Sadly, since writing this post we now only have two chicks left. Our dog, Midnight, thought they were his own personal buffet, all you can eat, and wiped out our flock of laying hens and future rooster dinners. B and I are beyond disappointed and frustrated. Homesteading is hard and expensive! Midnight is currently in lock up and we have an ad out for a free dog. He's great with children and our other dogs, but not with chickens or lambs. We will be advising who ever his new owners will be not to have livestock.
Mable had another litter of piglets, but out of the four that she delivered, only one survived. She seems to be pretty feisty and full of energy and follows mama in the pasture. We're not sure what happened to the other three. They looked healthy, but something wasn't quite right. We are going to have our water tested to see if something in it could be cause fertility issues. Mulefoot hogs are know to have seven to ten piglets per litter at least twice a year. Mable has only had a litter of seven once and out of those seven, only four survived.
Mable's three piglets from last September are growing and are learning that the larger pigs are in charge. Wilbur was released from his solo pen and his sisters were moved from the garden to the main pasture. We had hoped to plant in the garden that they were in, but haven't gotten to it yet. There is still time to plant corn and melons, but have to let the ground dry up a bit to till it once and then mulch with hay and plant.
We did a fun little art project that I saw on another blog Whatever that involved continuous line drawing of an owl. The idea is that you color each section a different color where the lines intersect. We came up with some really cool artwork. Junior, Junebug, and Pipsqueak each had one. We are giving them to our library for our summer reading program, but I plan to have us do it again since it was so much fun and I want some colorful artwork in our school room. These are frame worthy pieces of art!
We also celebrated Monkey's first birthday in June. That will be the next post.
Until next time,
Our youngest daughter, Pipsqueak, turned three last month, but life has kinda been busy so I haven't been able to do her birthday post. Sorry Pipsqueak, please forgive mama! I may not be cut out to be a "blogger" or even a "homesteader who journals". I hang my head in shame.
Our little Pipsqueak was born early in the morning on Memorial Day three years ago. I can't believe my tiny little lady is growing up so fast. She may be small, but she is mighty and our life with her is exciting, funny, and oh so sweet. We had a small family dinner and a butterfly birthday cake.
Coloring at the Heart of America Resource Center. This a museum that is still a work in progress, but will be fantastic when completed. This is copied from their website, but this is their mission statement: To establish a center which provides Biblically-based science education, science resources, and opportunities to experience science in the context of nature. To support and network with other organizations that honor the Creation/Gospel message.
She is already asking when it will be her birthday again! Wishing you a fun and happy 3rd year Pipsqueak. Mama and Daddy love ya to pieces and you are such a large and important part of this family and we couldn't imagine life without you and your precious little smile.
April showers, bring May flowers? Not in our neck of the woods. It is so DRY here. There is no point to dusting our house (lets be honest, I don't do that much anyway) but there really is no point to it right now. I'm sure 10 minutes after I dusted it would be covered in a layer of fine dust and dirt that is blowing in through my windows. I refuse to turn the air conditioning on until I can't stand the heat and humidity. For now, I will live with the dust. We are in the highlighted area today and tonight for the potential of some severe weather. I'll pass on the high winds, 2 inch hail, and the tornadoes of course. I just want a good long, soaking rain. The cracks are already starting to develop on the farm and the summer heat isn't even here yet.
Even though the rain is few and far between we have been having beautiful weather. Spring has definitely arrived and for us that means high winds also. Most days starting in March we have a sustained 15-20 mph wind and goes up from there. Today, we are 25-35 mph sustained with higher gusts. It keeps you cool when the temperature rises, but it makes it miserable to be outside doing anything. It keeps me from working in the garden, that and the million other things that seem to keep me busy. Planting tiny seeds when the wind is blowing as much as it is challenging to say the least. I have to plant at night when the wind has calmed a bit to have any hopes that my seeds will stay put.
I am experimenting with making my own seed tapes. You take strips of newspaper and dab a bit of "glue" (flour and water) spaced apart accordingly to what you are planting. I am going to experiment with lettuce and carrots (the two smallest seeds we plant) and see if they work. You place the seeds on the "glue", let them dry and roll them up. Go outside into the garden and dig a trench and place seed tape in and unroll. Cover with soil and water. Keep the ground moist until seedling emerge. Keep the ground moist enough is a constant struggle. My germination rates and low sometimes because the soil drys out so fast because of the wind. I'll attempt to plant these this weekend and see if they work.
I have planted a few things so far. My peas are growing nicely and hope to have a good crop this year. I soaked my seeds to speed up the germination since I was a bit late getting them in the ground. This technique seems to be working well. We planted potatoes from leftover harvest potatoes from last year. I'm not sure if they will grow or not, but it was a nice experiment to see if we could grow potatoes from our own leftovers. If nothing starts to pop up soon I'll probably go to my pantry and grab some potatoes that have developed plenty of eyes that should grow a good potato or two. I've planted a row of beets for Bubba. He LOVES beets. I'm planning to plant a few more rows for feed for the pigs. I don't like beets and I don't think pickling will make me like them either. We'll freeze some, but give plenty for the piggies to enjoy too. I wonder if there poop will turn purple? Sorry! :-) I've planted a few onions, but Monkey's nap the other day interrupted garden time so I still have about 90 more to go. Bubba and Junebug each have their own garden space in my main area. It gives them something to do and care for and hopefully keep my garden from being stepped on and grow their interest in the hobby. Junebug let Pipsqueak and I help her plant in her garden. Junior has a much larger garden, probably a 10 x 10 area between our shop and greenhouse. He hopes to sell some produce the grows, but I hope he'll share with the family as well. It's amazing how much they like to pack into their small spaces. Bubba planted enough vegetables in his space for a garden twice the size that his is. Maybe the close planting will keep the weeds at bay? Time will tell. Junebug planted some peas in her space and she ran out there first thing this morning to check her garden. Her face was priceless when she came in to tell me her peas were growing too!
Just as my fruit trees went into full bloom, Mother Nature threw us a curve ball. Our temperatures dipped down to 28 degrees for one night, but we pray that not too many blooms were affected by it and that we still get a decent crop of peaches, pears, and apples. I've been pruning my trees and I think that's one of the most nerve racking things to do on the homestead. I hope that I don't thin them out too much or not thin enough. Time will tell if I did it right or not. If I did it wrong, it will grow back, eventually!
Junior's lambs are growing nicely. The day after the twins came home we brought home another female. They are named Sarah, Samantha, and Tom. These three will be Junior's breeding pair. These sheep don't have wool, but hair, making them better suited for our warmer climate. Their hair thickens over the winter to keep them warm, but for now we don't have to worry about shearing any wool. Junior was disappointed, I was relieved. One less thing we have to schedule in to get done. Their pen still isn't quite finished, but they are now at least out of my laundry room and school room. We have small pen in the yard for them that we move around to fresh grass. One end has a tarp over it to block the wind and the other end has a dog carrier with hay in it to sleep in. We are still bottle feeding 4 times a day, every 6 hours. We are trying to be on a 10/4 schedule, but doesn't always work out. Right now we are on a 11/5. I wake him up for the middle of the night feeding since I have been unable to grow extra arms to feed them all on my own. Plus, I'm loosing sleeps for these little critters, he should too since it was his choice to get them. I'm such a mean mom, right? ;-)
Lilly and Midnight are growing fast too. They check out the lambs each day and are interested in the chickens. Midnight thinks it's fun to chase. I do not think it's fun for him to chase. That leads to killing my chickens. I keep and eye on him and correct his behavior. I tell him no, slap him on the nose, and he submits by laying down and rolling onto his back. He knows I'm in charge. Occasionally after his has been scolded he will run into his doghouse and come back out a few minutes later. I guess he is putting himself in timeout. He found out what the hog fence does, shocks. He didn't like that. He ran to his house and hid. He hasn't been back out there since.
Speaking of pigs, the male piglet from our last litter is an escape artist. Wilbur thought he didn't need to stay in the pen with his sisters and should roam our yard like a dog. That was all fine and well until I got a call from the sheriff department saying that my pig was spotted along the highway. Great! How the heck am I suppose to get a pig home with five children? I load everyone up into the van and head out. We found him 1/4 mile away on the wrong side of the road, gorging on dried corn from the past harvest. He wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. I left Junior with Wilbur and ran home to get a carrier and the scrap bucket and hoped I could capture him and then figure out how to get him into the back of the van. By the time I got back to Junior a lady and her son stopped to help us. She use to be the vet in our town and I think she may have been the one to call the sheriff when she saw him out on her way to town. We quickly captured him and with their help we got him in the back of the van. Now, remember, we live a 1/4 mile from where we found him. I pull into the yard and back up to the garden with the chain link fence. Just as I'm ready to get out of the van to get the carrier out he starts freaking out and is half way out of the carrier. I rush to open the back doors and he tumbles out and fights his way out and into the garden. He wasn't harmed, but my van was. He SHIT all over the back of my van. Oh, the smell. I quickly cleaned it up and got ready to head to town for an appointment. Something big always happens when you have somewhere to be. He stayed put the rest of the day and all night, but the next morning he was out again. Drastic measures were needed to keep him in. Our electric fence wasn't sending out enough power to shock him with our ground being so dry. I chased him into the main pen with the bigger pigs and got him locked into our hog panel area for when we capture them to slaughter. He has been there about 3 weeks now. He has fresh water, scraps everyday, and a bed of hay to lounge in. Hopefully we get enough moisture soon so that the fence works optimally. Otherwise, he will be a hog roast early summer.
We have sprayed our 10 acres of wheat with sea minerals twice and now wait and see if it will make a difference at harvest time. Sea minerals are a natural, organic method to fertilize crops. Our farm isn't certified organic, not yet anyway. With the help of my father-in-law we hope to be in the next year. The soil where we live is heavy clay. It's a constant challenge to grow anything in it. If you drive tractors over it repeatedly, you pack it down. If you till the ground, you dry it out and make large clots that are hard as rocks and the plants can't break through. We try to till as little as possible, but it still needs to be done on occasions. We are going to experiment this year and grow pumpkins in three different rows. Two will have a weed barrier in place and the other nothing to see how the pumpkins do. We're trying to make our farm make some income, plus provide a high percentage of our own food year round. A pumpkin patch would help to bring in some revenue so we are in the beginning stages of seeing how we can make it work, or not work. Time will tell.
We took the kiddos to the drive-in movie theater a couple of weeks ago. It's a lot a work to go and we are super tired the next day, but it's a cheap way for us to all go see a movie or two. They were having a $12 per car load special verses pay for each person. We grabbed dinner on the way and enjoyed Rio 2 and Mr. Peabody and Sherman.
We took the children fishing over Easter weekend. Monkey and Bubba had a touch of the runny nose so we didn't want to share our germs with the rest of the family so we stayed home from the big family dinner. We didn't catch any fish, but Junior caught some frogs.
That was a long post, but I feel like I'm caught up on what's been happening on the farm and at home. Hope everyone is enjoy the spring weather too and if you can, please pray for rain for us.
Until next time,
Take a deep breath mom and dad, these twins are four legged and have white fur all over. And they say baaaaaa...
Junior asked us last fall if he could raise sheep to sell. B and I thought it would be a good idea for him to be able to start his own little business and to teach him responsibility. He did lots of reading on how to care for and raise lambs. The farm where we get our milk and beef had orphan lambs to sell. Junior bought two yesterday that were born in the freak April snow storm we got and were cold in the pasture. They were brought into the barn at the farm and bottle fed. Once they knew that the lambs were gonna pull through I got the call and B picked them up on the way home from work. They are fed roughly four ounces of milk replacer every four hours. Hopefully by the end of the weekend we will be up to every six hours. They are currently taking up residence in my laundry room in my old wooden toy box my grandpa made for me when I was a child. It hasn't been used for years to hold toys, so why not hold lambs. We have been working on a pen area for them, but haven't quite finished it. They should hopefully be moved outside by the weekend and start nibbling on grass by this time next week. We will have to bottle feed for approximately six weeks, but with more ounces per feeding, but fewer times a day. We have one boy and one girl lamb. Junior has decided to name the boy Tom or Tommy, but undecided on a name for the girl. He says they are his breeding pair, so next summer we will be able to breed and have our own lamb born on the farm in Spring 2016, hopefully.
Last night I took care of all of the feedings, but starting tonight I will make Junior get up at least one time during the night to help with feeding. They seem to be getting use to the nipples and are latching on better than they were yesterday. A new adventure for our family.
Until next time,
Let the birthday celebrations continue! Today our oldest, Junior, turns eight. I still can't believe that my "baby" is eight years old already and almost as tall as me (which isn't hard to do, but still). Junior was born on April 2, 2006 at 9:15pm weighing 8 lbs 11 oz and 20 inches long. Labor and delivery were long and hard, but from the moment you were born I forgot all about it. Junior, you may be the oldest, but you will always be my baby. I'll love you forever. Your dad and I love watching you explore and learn about the world around you. I hope this year is everything you want it to be. Make great memories, have fun, and trust in the Lord to guide you on your path.
Enjoy the photos of Junior over the years as he grows from a small little baby into the fine young man he is becoming.
Happy Birthday Junior
Our second born turns 6 today! It's unreal to me that our chubby little Bubba is six now. There is never a dull moment when Bubba is around. He is funny, creative, smart, and very ornery and we love everything about him. Bubba was the smallest of any of the babies I birthed, but that lasted for about two weeks before he packed on the pounds from my delicious and nutrition milk. He is now lean and getting taller everyday. It won't be too many years before he is taller than me.
Bubba was born at 5:59am in April 1, 2008 weighing 7 lbs and 19.5 inches long. He touched our hearts from the moment he was born and we couldn't imagine life without him. We look forward to the years to come, watching him grow and learn. He loves his brothers and sisters (although he may not admit to it), helping daddy in the shop, helping mommy in the kitchen, watching movies, and playing outside as much as possible. Happy Birthday Bubba, we love you so much.
Enjoy the pictures of Bubba through the last six years...
Have a fun year being six Bubba. Make wonderful memories, have fun, and learn much.
Sorry for the lack of posting recently to those who are keeping up with us. Life has started to get really busy leading up to spring. Ok...who am I kidding, we are always busy. I traveled with all of the children back in mid-February to visit family and from the time we got back up to now it has been a constant stream of stuff to do.
The day after we returned from our trip we butchered our first hog. He was the biggest of the males and estimated him to weigh 300 lbs before slaughtering. I found this nifty method you could use to predict and then weigh to find out for sure. We don't have a scale, so we are going off the prediction. What you do is measure around the heart girth and multiply the heart girth by the heart girth and then multiply by the length of the hog and divide by 400. Our hog came in at 305 lbs to be exact. We figure once you subtract the weight from the head and organs from the body cavity we figure we got close to 175-200 lbs of pork from our first hog. We still have three more hogs to butcher. One is pretty close in size to the first hog, but the other two are quite smaller. We will hopefully get them fattened up and get them all butchered before warm spring weather arrives.
It took us roughly three hours to kill, slaughter, and hang the hog. Not bad for frick and frack out there who had no clue what they were doing! We had hoped to get a hog done each weekend or every other weekend and be done with butchering by the end of March. Well, life has a tendency to throw you some curve balls. The weekend after our first butcher we had some other chores that needed done on the farm and we decided we would just take that weekend "off" and wait until the next weekend to butcher. Well, the next weekend was finishing up some project and then hopefully get to the next hog. It was a lot colder than the first slaughtering day so we decided to wait. Maybe it's good we did or maybe not cause then the next life event might not have happened. B was working in the shop and managed to sprain his ankle really good. We thought it was broken at first, but after x-rays and a CT we are confident it is not. It's slow going for him, but he is improving each day. I'm just glad that his injury wasn't as severe as my friend's husband was. He may have a rotator cuff tear and surgery may be in order. Not a good thing when they run a dairy and now Kerry has to step up and be a milk maid on top of her other duties. She has a great blog too if you want to check it out. www.imarriedamilkman.com Then he got sick with a nasty sinus infection. Monkey developed croup and the other four have colds. Mama is the only one not sick and I don't know why not. Monkey has been sleeping terrible for the past five days. He slept really late this morning so I hope with some good rest and continued treatment he'll be better soon.
The weather had been teasing us off and on. We have had a few days where the weather was absolutely beautiful and then followed by winter yuck. I sure hope our snow is done for the season, but I won't hold my breath. Last year we had snow in May! I have started to work on the new pen area to move our piglets into. They have done some amazing work in our main garden so now they are off to garden plot number two. The second garden plot will be planted with sweet corn and strawberries. Around 750 strawberry plants to be exact. If anyone wants to come and help plant I'll let ya know when they arrive. It will probably be the end of April to early May!
I have started some of my seeds for the garden and they are taking off quite well, for the most part. I started 4 trays of tomato seeds which hold 72 plants. If you do the math, that's 288 tomato plants. Don't worry...that many won't make it into the garden. Some seeds didn't sprout and others are really small so I don't know how strong the plant will be. I hope to sell any leftovers that I don't have room for or give to friends who need some plants. My peppers are very slow to sprout and my first try at growing onions for seeds is off to a good start. Most of the 72 seeds sprouted and received their first haircut last night. I planted broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower last night. I still have flowers and herbs I want to start from seed. I may try to plant a few more peppers since my first planting isn't taking off as well as I had hoped and I don't want to cut myself short.
This weekend while B is off the farm I hope to work in the greenhouse with the kiddos and get it prepped so we can start some lettuces and peas in there soon. I also hope to start carrots and beets for Bubba. That boy loves beets. We went to Pizza Hut a week ago for lunch and he was so excited to see beets on the buffet with the salad. He was extremely disappointed to find out once back to the table that they were cold beets. He slid them under a slice of pizza to try to warm them up, but it didn't work so well. We are gonna try a couple different varieties this year for him. One is a golden beet which is yellow instead of the normal red/purple color. We'll see if he likes them or not.
Today I am working on rendering lard. It doesn't smell the best, but I am looking forward to making my first pie crust with it. Hope spring weather is visiting you all too!
Until next time,
P.S. Sorry if there are typos...my brain is so tired from being up at night with little Monkey. Hope you will forgive me!
Serenity Farm now has a couple of new puppies! The grey one above is Lilly. She is a blue heeler/cattle dog mix. The black and white below is Midnight. They are adjusting well to the many hands who like to smother them with love each day. Sky is beyond excited to have some new playmates. She has been sleeping in the house each night, but not last night. We locked the puppies up in the dog run last night so nothing could get to them, but she stayed on patrol and made sure that everything was safe for them. Such the protective mama she is even when they aren't her babies. We hope they will be good livestock guard dogs and keep our chickens safe and any goats or sheep we hope to get this summer.
Life has been very busy the last few weeks. I will try to do an update for you all, but I make no promises. The weather will be gorgeous this week and we will take full advantage of it.
Happy Monday to all of you!
I want to be the best homesteader I can be, while teaching my children at home in the school room and outside on the farm.