Monday, December 30, 2013

You Might Be A Homesteader If...

Your husband gives you these for Christmas!





To go with this that he got me for my birthday. (Click the comments to find the answer.  Mr. Herrick Kimball of The Deliberate Agrarian guessed correctly.)

You also might be a homesteading/fly fishing/bamboo fly rod building kind of guy if you get these from your wife for Christmas...





And you might have homeschoolers in your household if you purchase things like this for Christmas...






And what celebration would be complete with out cookie decorating! (And eating.)

  
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 23, 2013

What Is It?

Well, it's my birthday gift from my husband...


Bet you can't guess what it is!  I don't have any nifty prizes or anything but if you guess it correctly you have the satisfaction of knowing more than I did.  I had to ask after I had opened it.  "I know it's a chicken but "what" is it?"

My nine year-old thinks it's a Barbie "Chicken-Horse".  What do you all think?




Sunday, December 22, 2013

God's Plan For Us: Ice Storm


Had an ice storm last night followed by a light snow.  The roads are treacherous today and church was cancelled but the beauty is incredible.





Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name, make his praise glorious! Say to God, "How awesome are your deeds!"

Psalm 66:1-3b

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Slip Sliding Away



I love snow.  Blizzards? Bring 'em on. I love to watch it fall, I love to see piles of it everywhere.  I have been known to throw a snow ball, build a fort or snowman, sled down a hill or go for a walk in the silence that snow brings.  However, I have to admit, I'm really a snow bunny.  I prefer the lodge or in my case the living room couch where I can cocoon in a blanket and sip hot cocoa.

One thing I don't like to do in the snow? Drive!  I'm native to Seattle.  The PNW city gets some snow but not a whole bunch.  I never really had to drive in it.  By the time I was driving my dad was retired and able to give me a ride if the roads looked bad.  Then he passed the honor on to my husband.  When we moved to Idaho we only had one car so I never drove in the snow there.  When we moved to Texas... ha.... it snowed once and was gone in a few hours.  But here in Michigan... it snows and this year it started early.  I have teens who have to go to the dentist and the doctor and church play practice and guitar lessons and any number of social events.  And since Dad is usually either at work or in bed for these lovely errands guess who gets to drive them.  Me!  It is so not good.

Tuesday I had to drop off and pick up my eldest at a babysitting gig.  Of course this family has a long, steep, curving driveway up to the house. (With tons of trees lining the drive.)  I generally choose to stop at the bottom and let my daughter walk up to the house and down also.  But Tuesday, oh Tuesday, I forgot my phone at home whilst going to pick her up.  I didn't want to walk up to get her so I drove to the top.  I am an adult after all. This backing down a long, curvy, steep, tree-lined drive shouldn't be a problem.  Never mind that it is covered in snow.

Half way down the drive and "thunk".  In avoiding a tree, I failed to see the utility pole and backed right into it.  No big deal.  I was going slow. No damage.  I just put the vehicle in 4 wheel drive and drove forward. Of course what I couldn't see because of snow was the slope away from the driveway towards the tree I had missed.  The car moved forward and promptly slid down the slope and met the tree most intimately.  Okay, I'll just back up and be on my way.  NOOOOO... I end up digging the wheels down, down, down.  Now I am stuck and parallel parked between the tree and the pole. (Apparently the only time I can successfully parallel park is when I'm not trying to.)

Long story short, it took the grandfather of the kids my daughter was sitting, and my husband about an hour to dig and pull the car out.  Sigh... why do these things always happen to me.  Now I have a nice little dent in the front passenger fender and a busted tail light. Perhaps a move to Key West might not be a bad idea.




Now for the praises!  No one was hurt, the damage is small, both my husband and the grandfather were available to help, it was still light out and there was a break in the weather, they got the car out.  Big picture time. Big picture. Thank you Heavenly Father.

Lessons learned: Remember the phone so I can text my arrival to my daughter and not have to drive up to the house and if the phone is forgotten, don't be lazy. Park the beast and walk up to the house!


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Inexpensive Thank You Christmas Gift Idea


A simple and easy "homemade" gift to give to teachers or others that deserve a little "Thank You" gift this Christmas time is the time honored Candy In a Jar.

Everything I used to make these, for my youngest two daughter's Sunday school teachers, I had on hand- except for the M-n-M's.

We used to run a hand crafted soap and body care business and I have a few odd jars left over from that time.  I used a square jar with a cork lid but any shape will do and if you can't find anything with a lid a wad of tissue paper will work nicely.  Garage sales and thrift stores are great places to look for containers but craft stores and supermarkets will usually have something too.

We sorted the M-n-M's by color- something all the kids enjoyed helping with- by dumping our Costco sized bag onto a cookie sheet and grouping them into piles. Then we carefully filled the jar by the rainbow... ROY G BIV (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet) and sealed it up.

 
Next I tied some wire-edged ribbon around the jar.
 
 

And attached a little thank you note with string and a hole punch.

 
Simple, pretty, and inexpensive!  It works with a lot of different types of candies and can be adapted to other holidays and occasions.  Being thoughtful doesn't have to break the bank.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

God's Plan For Us



And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over the flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby, who was lying in the manger When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they has heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Luke 2:8-20

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Respect The Farmer Who Puts Food On Your Table!

 
I am by no means a real farmer.  We grow a large garden every year and are working toward the goal of feeding ourselves without depending on a grocery store and then eventually we hope to have extra to sell, but we aren't there yet.

Our entire animal contingent is made up of two cats, 17 hens and one rooster.  In Michigan, where we live, it is illegal to sell raw milk except under the guise of a "herd share" program.  Since our family goes through 4 or 5 gallons a week that puts "herd share" out of our current price range so we want to add a couple of milk goats.

Sounds great, right?

Well, it did up until a couple of days ago when it our temps plummeted into the little ball on the thermometer never to be seen again and the winds started chewing at my bare skin and the snow drifts organized themselves into a knee-deep wall that blocks my path to the barn.

Right now all I have to do is feed and water the chickens and collect eggs.  I bundle up and its not too bad but I really have no desire to get up at the pre-crack of dawn, daily, to milk animals in a heatless barn.  I am a wuss!

But it also makes me appreciate all the real farmers that are out there taking care of their animals day in and day out- leaving the comfort and warmth of their beds and homes to trek to the milking parlor or elsewhere.  Their dedication to keeping the food I take for granted on my table is starting to really hit home.

When I'm opening my drapes, my neighboring dairy farmer is out feeding and checking on his calves.  They milk at 4:00am and 4:00pm.  Uhhh... I'm up with my Costco managing husband at that time and I'm barely able to hold a thought.  I have gained nothing but respect for farmers since moving to the country. 

Never take for granted the food that is raised for you and the work that went into getting it to your table.  Farmers FEED us!  Farmer's are my rockstars!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Read and Write Friday: I just might be a Heirloom Girl!



I got the best early Christmas present today.  I got a response from Mrs. Emilee Gettle who runs Heirloomgirl.com. She is interested in having me guest blog!  I am super excited!  I really love her site and the other projects she and her husband Jere have their hands in.

The Gettles are the owners of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and have authored a cookbook and gardening book as well as publishing Heirloom Gardener magazine.  I gave my husband a collection of their seeds for Christmas last year and it was such fun to watch the bounty roll in this summer.

I hope this will be the first step in obtaining bylines/clips/credit that will give me some ummph to back up queries to other magazines.  But, more than anything, I'm just excited to be a part of this family based, agrarian minded business.

If you haven't ever gotten a copy of their seed catalog you are missing out. Flipping through it and planning my spring garden is one of my favorite winter activities!



Thursday, December 12, 2013

Homeschooling through the sickness...



I find having to school with even one sick child challenging.  Today I got three children through all their subjects and one partially through and the sick kid... she spent a lot of time on the couch.  It was clear that the sicky would not be able to concentrate on bookwork.

I thought perhaps that I could turn on the TV and find a history or animal documentary but those things don't exist anymore.  It seems these days everything on channels that used to be somewhat educating are now swamped with "reality" shows that offer little besides a lot of bleeped out words or cheap entertainment.

So tomorrow the snow is supposed to let up some and I am heading to the library.  I am picking up arm loads of documentaries and non-text books to keep her busy on the couch and yet still learning at the same time.

Any other homeschoolers out there have any tips on how to have a "sickie" learning under the radar?  I'd love to hear some ideas on this!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Cookie Cheer Up!

Well, we have a snow blower that works but unfortunately I don't have a snow blow operator!

Yesterday after plowing the drive and my wonderful path to the barn, Farmer John started to complain about his wrist hurting. He was in so much pain before work this morning I told him to go get it checked out.



Diagnosis... Tendonitis! Yah... so no nice plowed path to the barn.  We aren't quite ready to give that responsibility to our son with anything more than a shovel at this point in time.

Had another surprise diagnosis today... strep throat for my nine year old!  Keep the good times coming!


So what can you do when it is cold, snowy and you have "patients" to keep happy?  Make Christmas cookies!

Who doesn't feel better after a frosted Christmas sugar cookie? 

Usually we have a traditional recipe we follow but I found a new recipe that includes sour cream in it and it seemed like a good day to give it a try.




We didn't mess with Christmas shapes today since it was just a "test" run.  We stuck with easy-peasy circles.  Plain white frosting and simple sprinkles.




The verdict... Yum! I think this may be my new traditional recipe!  I will definitely need to make lots so that my son has fuel to snow shovel my path to the barn.

You can find the recipe for  Cut-Out Sour Cream Cookies and frosting here!

They certainly boosted spirits at Creek Cottage Homestead.  Happy baking, frosting and eating!!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Snowing and Blowing

It's that time of year again.  The time when the tractor stops being a mower and starts being a blower.


Last year we couldn't use the tractor for blowing because it was broken down. But it was a light snow year and we made do.


This year Farmer John was chomping at the bit to test it out so yesterday he got it out (even though we only had an inch or so and began to plow our drive. Five minutes into it and the blades stopped rotating. Ugghhh!

 
If I had $$ for every time I've seen Farmer John in this position with our beast we could own our own tropical island.  We bought it used.  Hey, buy used and save the difference is the motto the Duggars use.  It seems to work great for them.  Not so much for us.  With all the time and $ we've spent getting this thing to work, it would have been worth it to purchase the shiny green tractor that comes with yellow words. Alas, this was the one we could afford and, really, having a tractor payment is kind of silly no matter how shiny and new.
 
Lucky for us, this time, the problem was an old stretched out belt.  Easy to fix and not too pricey.
 

Today we got a few more inches of "Lake Effect" snow. (Not a storm, just something Lake Michigan whips up for us.)  Farmer John had our drive cleared in no time at all.  And as we are supposed to get more tomorrow, he'll get to do it again.


 
He was even nice enough to plow me a path from the back garage door to the barn!

 
Of course he could have just been trying to make up for nearly backing the beast over me in the barn.  Lucky for me I was by the chicken enclosure so he didn't knock me down.  I just got a face full of chicken wire mesh. Good times indeed!
 
How do you all handle winter weather?
 
 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Let Frozen Egg Season Commence!

 
Yum! Found this little beauty yesterday morning by the pecking block on the barn floor.  My first frozen egg.  I'm wondering if it was because it wasn't in a nesting box which are probably more insulated. 
 
Good thing I have lots of kids to send out to collect eggs all through the day!  Love me the warmth of a fresh laid egg.  Hand warmers the natural way!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

God's Plan For Us

 
 
"The truly Significant took on insignificance so that the truly insignificant could find true significance in Him."
 
-Dr. Rich McCarrell

Saturday, December 7, 2013

It Doesn't Look Like Fall Anymore

Hideeho blog people!  I am back after an unannounced break.  Sickness, school and NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) took over my life.  Also spent a lot of time chauffeuring my children to and from activities. But now that I'm feeling rested and less overwhelmed I am back to blogging.

When last I left you the homestead looked like this....



Now the homestead looks like this...

 
And this...
 
 


The chickens are less than impressed...

video


They will occasionally venture out but they prefer me to throw them their "crack" (cracked corn) inside.

video


We have moved all the chickens (Barred Rocks and R.I. Reds) into the barn together.  We added extra roosts, two heat lamps, a light, a heated water dish, pecking block and the nesting boxes from the chicken tractor.  They seem to like it quite well.





I have to laugh at my hens.  They are sooo... picky as to which nesting boxes they lay their eggs in.  There are plenty available but they only like to use certain ones and if that box is full and the other hen won't share then they just plop the egg out wherever rather then use a different/open box.  Will there ever come a time when I am not surprised by these ladies?




Well, I'm off to the local library for their craft sale. I'm half way done with my shopping so hopefully there will be some good things at the sale and I can support some local micro-businesses! Stay warm!