Sunday, September 29, 2013

God's Plan For Us

Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.

Proverbs 31:11

Women, this is what we need to be working towards.  I can honestly say that I don't meet these standards right now but the Bible says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. So this is obtainable by the doing of the Lord and not myself.  My job is to submit to His will and be obedient.

Confidence - full trust

Value- worth, merit, usefulness (notice it isn't necessarily a materialist notion of value)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Off To The Theatre!

Yesterday was City Girl's first Theatre Lesson at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre And School Of Theatre Arts.

She has recently become interested in acting and wanted to try it on for size.  We covered the cost of a Christian homeschool summer day camp for the arts for her and she loved it.  She decided that she wanted to try out for the winter play this group puts on.

It costs $175 to participate in the production and Farmer John and I had to tell her we couldn't afford that.  But because she was passionate about it we found a fundraising site and she gathered a portion of the money from donations of family, friends and blog readers and then Farmer John found her a summer child care position for a couple of weeks. Between the two she was able to cover the cost.

Audition day for Peter Pan came and went.  Finally the cast list was posted and ache of all motherly aches, she didn't make the cut.  She didn't get a part, not even a small one. To keep total devastation at bay I quickly got online to find out if there was some other drama program she could take part in.

I found out that the local Grand Rapids Theater did indeed have classes available for her age group and the cost was $135- money she had from above.

So for 10 weeks she will learn the basics of acting.  I wish it was under the shelter of the homeschool group instead of the Civic Theater but it is only a couple of hours a week for ten-weeks.  I will be praying for discernment for her.  Worldly theater can be, well, wordly.

I'm a firm believer that modern "culture" is the way it is because we Christians have abandoned it.  We should be leaders of culture and that is the reason I am letting my daughter foray into this field of interest.  Should she feel led by God to continue on then we will discuss ways for her to study to the fullest glory of her Savior, The Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank goodness the Lord knows the plans he has for us! 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Homesteading Means Staying At Home

Just a couple of nights ago I was sighing and feeling extremely stressed out and unhappy because all I seem to be doing lately is running around.  An errand here, the library there, this child here, that child there... Frustrating! I just want to be at home doing the things that need to be done.

Well, today the Lord gave me a nudge to remind me that He is in control.  The brakes on my car are failing and Farmer John deemed the car unsafe to drive.  BOOM!  Just like that I don't have to run around anymore.  I get to stay home.  Now, it actually is kinda inconvenient (Had to put my son's guitar lessons on hold and when do I grocery shop?) but really it is a blessing in disguise.

My husband's work schedule is such that he will be home so that I can have the car for Wed. evening church services, and city girl's theater lessons  (for 10 weeks) and he will be off most Sunday's as well. Those are the important things. Everything else will work itself out.

We currently don't have the funds to get the car fixed so we are going to be living life as a one car family for a while but I really don't mind. The Lord never works in ways that I expect but he knows what is best for me.  The Homestead is where my heart is!  Thank you, Lord Jesus!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Happenings Around The Homestead...

This is the first year we have ever grown cabbage.  I love fresh from the garden cabbage but do not enjoy it cooked or fermented.  However, my husband loves sauerkraut so we are experimenting with our first ever batch.  It's sitting on the counter as we speak.  We don't have a crock so we are using (re-using) a Costco pickle jar covered with an old t-shirt rag.  It's high tech, let me tell you.  I may (or may not) try some when it's done.  I know, I know, kraut is supposed to be really good for you.

We have also yet to have a frost in my area so the tomatoes are still coming on strong.  The kids are getting good at prepping the tomatoes for canning.  (Apples too.)  When they start to complain, I simply say, "You like to eat, don't you?"

This is a pic of the bag City Girl whipped up in about 15 minutes.  She wanted a certain size and everything we had was either too big or too small so she went down to our "craft" room and created what she needed.  The body of the bag is a bottom leg of a pair of jeans she had made into cut-offs earlier this year.  She merely had to sew one end shut.  For the handle she made a braided rope made from old t-shirts and sewed it on.  We had some iron-on decals laying around and she embellished the bag with those. (The decals were marketed for the back of jean pockets... who wants their daughter wearing kissy lips on her backside? This is a much more tasteful application.)

There are so many possibilities for this bag.  It is really only limited by your imagination.  It is a quick, easy, and cheap project.  Goodwill stores are great sources of jeans and t-shirts!

What have you all been up to?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Art Prize 2013

'Tis the season!  Grand Rapids annual art competition has arrived once more.  Since our daughter had a doctor's appt. downtown we took a field trip day and saw just a very small portion of what was entered in the contest.

 Pastels on wood- a rendition of the Last Supper

Even the River gets art in it.

...And the bridges...

Using recycled or found objects is always popular .

Sculpture and bells made from old oxygen tanks. My kids enjoyed those.

The Artist and an attendee play Amazing Grace on the bells.

Who doesn't love a family of giant yellow ducks?

Nemo was there.  This was made with tack nails and sequins.

Giant "recycled" dragon... old metal and tires, tube lights and a big propane tank to make it breathe fire in time to music.



Bronze sculpture...

Or is it performance art?

Living plant wall art
We enjoyed ourselves and there was plenty of eye candy.  But after we got home my husband and I discussed that there was nothing we saw that really blew us away.  I guess I'm a traditionalist and am looking for art that I can't replicate, that takes real talent and skill not just a clever mind.  I'm sure that those pieces exist in the competition but we didn't come across them.  Again, we saw only a very tiny bit of what was on display. I will try to post and link to the winners when they are announced.  I'm sure those will be more traditional "fine" art.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

God's Plan For Us!

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
Proverbs 31:10
Wife:  A woman married to a man
Noble: Exalted moral excellence
Character: Moral quality or integrity
Moral: Ethics or standards

Ruby: One of the rarest, most precious of gemstones

Are women these days striving to be a wife of noble character or are we merely rubble?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sickness Is Finally Retreating!

I don't know about you but this was a hard week for me.  Not much got accomplished.  My brain felt like it was wrapped in a wool sweater for most of the time.  This week's word was BEFUDDLED.

I spent most of my time resting and reading.  I blew threw many a tissue and also Veronica Roth's Insurgent.  Great read and I can't wait for the third installment in the Divergent series to come out. (Due out Oct. 22nd of this year.)

Today my brain is finally full speed, my house is clean and jars for canning apples and tomatoes are washing. A time of rest is always welcome but I'm ready to get back moving! 

I drank half of Lake Michigan while I was down and consumed a lot of citrus in the form of orange juice and lemon water.  Herbal Teas w/ honey also are a favorite of mine when sick along with one comfort food that probably has no health benefit but it is tasty... Red Robin Clam Chowder.  When I'm sick I'm their best customer.  (I'm fairly certain it tastes so good because it is thoroughly laden with msg but when I'm sick there is nothing that I want more.)

What do you all do when you are sick?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Secret Egg Stash!

After moving our chicken tractor on Saturday and the ensuing pandemonium required to get them in the past couple of nights, Farmer John and I figured the chickens were a bit stressed and not laying eggs.

Of course last time we thought that we found a secret stash a couple of days later.

Deja Vu!

I just happened to see a chicken sitting in a very hidden place under some bushes.  When I went to go inspect it further thinking this was Divergent's hiding place I was surprised to find another secret stash filled with eggs.

Clearly the chickens were not stressed.  They just didn't want to lay their eggs in the chicken tractor.

The nest was so tiny and so far back in the bushes that I had to get my nine year-old daughter to crawl in to fetch the eggs.

Of course since so many eggs had been lain there a couple had been stepped on and cracked open. Reagan, though, was a trooper and retrieved all the good ones even though they were quite dirty.  The hens all looked on, quite curious as to what we might be doing there.

We pulled a dozen eggs from that spot.

I usually don't wash my eggs but these got washed.  I also floated them to make sure they were fresh. They were.  I candled them with a flashlight too, just to make sure that nothing was developing.
My four year-old watched each step with unwavering eyes.  She loves collecting eggs and wanted to learn more.
Today when we went out to collect eggs we checked the stash area but there was nothing there.  There were however eggs in the nesting boxes in the chicken tractor.  I can't figure out these birds for nothing.  I think they're messing with me.
Update on Divergent Hen:  I found her hiding place and it wasn't the above egg nest.  As I was putting in hens last night  (We only needed to help one beside Divergent in.) I watched her slowly saunter away around to the front of the house.  She had disappeared by the time( a couple of minutes later) I could go for her but I looked for her and I just happened to see her in one of our trees... but she wasn't on a thick branch near the trunk. She was up and out on a very tiny branch near the outside of the tree.  I know that was not were I had looked the nights before.
I was able to coax her down from the tree and then I caught her and carried her to the tractor.  She went calmly as if she was happy that I had found her.  I hope she goes to the tractor tonight. I would prefer her not to be divergent.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My Divergent Hen

So we moved the chicken tractor the other day  (Saturday) while the chickens were out and about.  I debated as to whether this was a good idea or not.  I thought perhaps we should move it after the hens and Snowball were in for the night but I took pity on Farmer John who wanted to move it in daylight.

The chickens could have cared less about it during the daytime but come dusk...

When I went out to shut them all up for the night, where were my chickens?  Standing in the exact spot that the tractor used to be in.  Talk about creatures of habit.  It was like they thought the chicken tractor would just appear over them.

So myself, Farmer John and two of our children had the ever so fun task of getting them to the chicken tractor.  We tried bribery with cracked corn, we tried herding and finally we had to result to catching them by surrounding them with chicken wire and then picking them up one by one and moving them to their new home. Can we say, "Roosters are feisty!"

Well, it took forever but finally all twelve were in for the night.

Sunday night, I went out with my daughter and Farmer John to shut  up the chickens again. It went fairly better.  Two hens were already inside and we managed to herd six more in with little difficulty.  That left four chickens... three hens and Snowball.

Andi and I managed to herd Snowball over but he would not go inside.  He flew to the top of the tractor and perched.  Then he jumped down and ran all over with us trying to cut him off.  Then we got him back over to the tractor where he proceeded to do it all over.  Finally we got him to go in... cracked corn was just too much temptation.

While all that was happening Farmer John was herding the other three hens.  When we finally thought we got them all in we did a "Chicken butt check".  We open the back side of the tractor and count. Hmmm... eleven.  We must have miscounted.  Nope after counting multiple times, pushing and prodding chickens so we could make sure one wasn't hidden, and me climbing into the tractor to count from the front (I sight to see.)  We still only came up with eleven.  Oh yeah!  We left one out and it was getting dark fast.

Enter my Divergent Hen!

We searched high.  We searched low.  In the barn, under everything, in every tree, in every bush.  Around and around the house we went.  It got dark.  We used flashlights.  All to no avail.  We finally had to call it quits and hope that where ever this hen had got herself to, she was safe.

Next morning I awoke to Snowball's usual crowing.  But then I heard a most joyous sound.  Clucking!  I never hear clucking.  My hen must have come out of hiding and is alive and well.

I got up and got dressed and went out.  She wasn't at the old chicken tractor spot.  She was however at the back of the house. All safe and sound. I approached her with some cracked corn but she wasn't too sure about me.  She didn't come up to me like the hens usually do.  I figured she was still upset over the fiasco herding efforts of the past two nights so I tossed some corn her way and left to let the other chickens out.

She was so happy when the other chickens came out .  She joined right in when they came over by her.  But she didn't join them at the tractor.

Now comes last night.    Seven hens in the tractor come dusk and two hens and snowball on the roof of the tractor.  The two hens went in right away.  Snowball took a couple minutes of herding but then he went in.  Two hens left to go.  We walked over to were they like to hang.  No chickens. Sigh.  We walked around the house. No chickens.  Great! Now my Divergent Hen has a friend.  Finally we heard a cluck and hastened toward it.  One chicken, sigh, not two.  We managed to herd her to a fence and catch her.  She got carried to the tractor.  But still no other chicken in sight.  We searched high.  We searched low.  Under everything, in every tree, in every bush. Around and around the house we went.  We did several chicken butt counts.  Only eleven and night was falling. Curse this blasted hen.

Farmer John had the gall to ask us... "Is it the same hen?"  They all look the same dear! But I would bet it is the same one.

I don't know where this chicken goes but she sure hides herself well. I hope I hear her cluck this morning and see her out. I don't want her to end up as anything else's food. Only me and my family have dibs on eating her when her egg laying time ends.

What the heck do I do about this Divergent Hen?  The nights are going to get colder and she will need to be with her flock.  And then when it gets really colder they will need to move into the barn for the winter.  That will be another story because then they'll need to share with my red hens.

Featherside Story: How two flocks became one.  Featuring the Red gang and the Rocks gang. Instead of clicking their fingers they cluck. I prefer an alternate ending to the Westside Story ending because I don't want any dead chickens.

Any one have any suggestions as to how to help little miss Divergent go back to the chicken tractor?

Update:  When I went out this morning.  I found that Divergent had lain an egg by the back porch.  It was nice of her to lay it where I would see it.  And I found her perched on top of the chicken tractor where she quickly joined the flock when I let them out.  She even entered the chicken yard and ate cracked corn with the others and then went into the tractor to eat and drink.  I think she was cold and lonely.  Maybe tonight she won't be Divergent any longer.  We can hope.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

God's Plan For Us!

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Apple Picking On A School Day!

Finally got my pictures from Thursday to load! Here are some...
 Us girls. (The boys were getting our buckets weighed.)

 Farmer John's favorite!

 Looking for just the right apples...

 Got one!

 Got a bucket full!

 Baking Apples

Our Haul!!!! Now the real work begins.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Homeschooling In The Orchard!

We took our first homeschool field trip of the season today.  We went apple picking at the U-pick farm in Fennville.
They had tons of varieties to chose from.  We only got a few kinds. Some for baking, some for sauce and some for eating.  They are so much better then any grocery store apple.  It was almost like eating sweet, crisp candy.
I sense apple pie for dessert tonight.  The ladies over at Homestead Blessings are cidering.  What do you like to do with apples? 
I'm having some issues with uploading photos right now but if I get it working I have a lot of fun pictures to post.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Pondering Prepping

I'm an avid fan of the television show Revolution.  I love it's premise.  A world without power.  How would we survive? Could we?  Well, people have done it for the past 6,000 years so with a little prep. we can too. 

I love electricity.  I love my clothes washer and my computer, my fridge and freezer, my water flowing to me, my toilet flushing etc.  but what happens if it all just stopped working.  Now, I'm not talking nano-tech like in the show but even a storm can wreak havoc on the power grid.  Ask anyone who was impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

My attention has also been drawn to what I have named the North American Power Grid Drill supposedly taking place on 11/13- 11/14/13.  Of course every conspiracy blogger out there has something to say about that. Check out here. But whether or not that turns out to be anything still leaves me questioning my own short term self-reliance preps.

Water- if the electricity goes, so does the ability to pump water.  Best to have some stored or at least have the bath tub filled if a bad storm is coming.  For long term, we have a creek that we can get water from.  Of course we'd have to boil and filter it.

Food- Even if you have a filled pantry, how are you going to cook it?  We are blessed with two wood stoves.  They aren't cook stoves but in a pinch we can throw our cast iron cookware in or on top of.  We could also cook outside if need be.

Heat- We have wood stoves and woods on the property.  We'd use the seal off the room technique. We never throw away blankets.  We have tons.

Light- We have lots of candles, matches, oil lamps, flash lights. etc. (Don't forget batteries)

We have a septic system... as long as we have some access to water we can still flush.  What would a person hooked up to city sewer do?  Best have a bucket and shovel on hand.  A stock pile of tp would be good too although rags, paper or leaves are available.

Also good to have on hand: basic tools, can opener (non-electric), first aid kit, battery or crank radio, needle and thread, paper and pen, fire extinguisher, and some way to entertain the troops.

On one of the prepper blogs I was reading it was predicted that without power in 90 days 90% of the population would die.  I don't know if that is accurate or not but if we were left alone I think we could make it 90 days.  I don't dwell on these things but I think it is common sense to at least ponder some simple preparedness.  You never know what weather is going to come your way.

What are your self-reliant plans? Do you prep?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Homestead Firsts- Little Eggs & Skinned Tomatoes

My little Barred Rock Hens (and one rooster) that we brought home from the farm store this spring have grown up.

We are now finding little eggs in the nesting boxes of the chicken tractor.  We even found one with out a shell.  It only had the membrane.  It is fun to hear the hens cluck after they've laid their first egg.

Also for the first time ever I de-skinned tomatoes.  My pretty batch of fresh tomatoes went from shiny and pretty to naked.

I was surprised how easy the skin came off.  Just a 45 second swim in boiling water and they just peel right off.  It was surprisingly satisfying!  I came away with 12 quarts of canned tomatoes with tons more waiting on the vines out in the garden.

I have a love/hate relationship with canning.  It seems like such a hassle and takes such a long time (Especially when you run out of lemon juice and have to wait till your husband comes home from work before you can go get more. Cough. Cough.) But it is such a feeling of accomplishment when you look at the finished product sitting on your counter and down in the larder.

What do you all preserve?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Family Time & The Family Economy

With our new school schedule we have added an evening "family time".  Our first family time together last week was met with mixed reviews.  Farmer John wanted to get everyone involved with his future business, Bamboo On The Fly (tentative name), and so we all tumbled out to the garage to work on his current Bamboo Fly Fishing Rod.  I must admit only John and our two littlest (Reagan and Taylor) were overly excited to do this.  Later I realized that I had to confess sin because I was less than championing my husband's vision at the time. (Which is really silly because I very much want him to leave his "corporate" job for a home-based, family biz.)

Yes, we put a blowtorch in the hands of our 13 year-old son!
 And our 15 year-old daughter

 Not our 4 year-old- she was content to make up her own games with balls and badmitton birdies!

Here I am with the torch.  The pieces of bamboo for the rod are slid into the copper pipe and then the pipe is heated with the torch.  This dries the bamboo.  You could see the steam being released at the tube ends.
As you can see the garage is highly unkempt.  Farmer John is on vacation this week and so one of our projects (practical arts for school) will be cleaning the garage.  By mid-October we'll be getting heavy frosts/freezes and the cars will need to be parked inside overnight. (Farmer John does not want to scrape ice at 3:30 in the morning!)
Leave me a comment if you are interested in a Handcrafted Bamboo Fly Rod!
If you are wondering about family economies check out Kevin Swanson's Generations Radio show (search the archived shows for "family economies) and Herrick Kimball over at The Deliberate Agrarian writes frequently on this topic too!