Where has the time went?

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Fall leaves by the garden a few years ago.

It’s the last day of September.  How can tomorrow be October?  I love fall, it is my favorite season, but it seems summer slipped by somehow.

It is a bit odd not to be harvesting from the garden.  We didn’t purposely leave it fallow, we really did intend to put in a great garden this year.  It just got put off by so many other things.  In the end, leaving it fallow isn’t a bad thing for the garden, but I do miss the fun of reaping the harvest of what we planted.  Now it needs to be cleaned up and prepped so that we can be ready for spring.

But we do have eggs.  Our three hens Marigold, Lucy, and Izzy are laying some beautiful eggs and they are such fun to have around.  It is time to start buttoning down the coop and run for winter and start making plans for what we need to do.  Since this is our first winter with chickens it will be a lot of trial and error for us.  I’d love to hear some winter tips from experienced chicken owners.

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One of our past harvests.

We might not have a harvest from our garden, but now that it is cooler I will still be doing a bunch of canning, freezing and dehydrating.  We can get some produce here locally (golly the prices have gone way up since last year!!) and we’ll be getting meat as we find some good deals.  Apples are in season so I want to start off with that, and I’ll see what deals I can find locally.  I also want to try using the apple scraps to make apple cider vinegar.  We’ll see.

The end of summer has brought a real struggle with my health.   I’ve been having a real battle with my asthma and all the medication that goes along with that really scares me.  Fall is always harder for me anyway because there is a lot of leaf burning around here and the smoke seems to hang in the air.  I really want to find some good ways to help my asthma that would reduce the medication or maybe even eliminate the need for it.  I can hope.  I have tried a lot of stuff but have never really seen any benefits.  The biggest thing I know I need to do is get back to eating healthy and avoiding foods I know do not help…like dairy and sugar.

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Throwback, first day of 6th grade.

Homeschooling is also in full swing.  Hard to believe it is the last year.  Also hard to believe that we homeschooled 12 years.  Wasn’t always easy, but I would do it all over again.  It is going to be weird hanging up this chapter of our life and not homeschooling next year.  I also can’t wait to see what God has in store for our son as he moves on to college.

That is it for now, off to do some chores around the house.  Until next time, I hope you have a wonderful and blessed day!  Grace and peace….

And Now The Eggs

EggsLucy, our White Leghorn started laying last week.  This week Issy, our Isa Brown started laying.  Marigold, our Buff Orpington hasn’t started laying yet.  We’ve had a total of eleven eggs so far.  Sooo “egg”cited.  Ha!  I like having brown eggs, but I much prefer a variety…and that is what we are getting.   Pretty, don’t ya think?  They are so small.  Every day they get a little bigger though.  We are working to finish the coop so they can finally have an official home instead of a makeshift pen.

We started off with what we thought would be six hens.  I knew going into this that sexing chicks isn’t 100% exact unless they are sex links.  But when you spend the extra money to buy six pullet chicks instead of straight run, you don’t expect half of them to be roosters.  We bought two Rhode Island Reds, two Buff Orpingtons, a White Leghorn and an Isa Brown.  Both
Rhode Island Reds turned out to be roosters and one of the Buff Orpingtons turned out to be a rooster.  Living in town we can’t have FreezerCampone rooster let alone three.  So we had the hard task of butchering chickens for the first time.  It wasn’t easy.

Hubby and son are working on the chicken coop.  Because we live in town we wanted something nice that the neighbors wouldn’t necessarily see as an eyesore (which is why it
is taking longer.)  Hopefully that will be done soon.  We don’t have a lot of the common predators that chicken owners deal with.  Ours are roaming cats and dogs.  So we thought it best to make a coop with a run, and then once in a while let them out to
roam the yard when we can keep an eye on them.  My BarnQuiltcontribution to the chicken coop is a barn quilt of a chicken.  I finished it yesterday.  We are going to make one in a different pattern for over our garage.

So, that is it for now.  I’m off to get some laundry done.  Hope you have a wonderful and blessed day!  Grace and peace….

 

Spring Has Froze

Greetings from cold and snowy Indiana!  Spring is struggling to get going this year and our spring projects are a bit slower than we had planned.  In my cup this morning is regular old coffee with stevia and almond milk.

DSCN3224-webreadyOne of our projects was to build a backyard chicken coop for the chickie babies.  Not so much babies anymore…they are all feathered in now and getting big.  But they are growing fast and outgrowing the dog cage they are in.  We have all the supplies for the coop…just waiting for the weather to cooperate.  So far our diva dog Pepper has been very good with them, so we are hoping she will turn out to be a good protector and not an antagonist.
I had hoped to get the early spring garden in but again, trying to work around the weather has made it a
challenge.  pantryMy seed starting indoors was a
big failure and I haven’t had a chance to redo the heirloom tomatoes and peppers I wanted to start. Are you seeing a pattern?  lol  Even so, God is in control so in His capable hands I will leave it all and just take things one day at a time.

One of the indoor projects that we did finish turning a spare closet into pantry.  Hubby and son work hard and got it finished and I got it filled it up.  It is so nice being able to have everything in one place now…and fairly organized.  They did a great job!  Our washer also sprung a leak and thankfully hubby and son were able to fix that as well saving us from having to buy a new washer.  We are also waiting for better weather to finish the roof.
Another things I’ve been up to is I have been slowly working on restarting my craft business.  I had it going successfully for a long time, then decided to pull the plug grayshawl1when it (and other things) started taking a toll on my health.  Things have changed a lot in the short few years since I stopped and since I want to do this right I am not rushing things.  The most time consuming part for me is taking pictures of everything and listing them.  I have lots to list so taking pictures, editing and listing is a slow process.  Despite that I find myself enjoying this much more than I ever have.

That’s it for now.   I hope all is well where you are, I’d love to hear how your spring is going.   Until next time, grace and peace!

Psalm 51:1-2
Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.

 

Finally! Chickens!

Now that we can raise chickens where we are we went and got some chicks.  Six tiny fluffs of down.

chick1We are using a large plastic tote for a brooer and it is sitting in our living room.  I am really enjoying the gentle little peeps of the chicks and I could sit and watch them all day.

The store where we got the chicks had a limit of six.  Our plan was to get six meat birds and three layers.  When we arrived, though, they were all out of the meat birds.  What to do?  Come home with six layers.  So I picked a variety based on the ones I though would dchick2o well here.  I got two Buff Orpingtons, two Rhode Island Reds, one Isa Brown and one White Leghorn.  The Isa Browns are really popular around here but they didn’t have many and the few left had pasty butt.  I did find one that seemed ok, but the day after we got her home she did develop pasty butt so I’m working to take care of that.  The rest are doing very well.  No names yet except one of the Rhode Island Reds is bit of a squauker.  When you pick her upchicks3 she calms right down.  We started calling her Diva.  Ha!

My biggest concern right now is our dog, Pepper.  She is very curious of the chicks and very concerned when she hears them showing their disapproval about something.  I want her to be good with the birds, but because she is a big dog and they are about the size of her nose, we’ll have to wait to socialize them.    Until the, she’ll have to keep her distance.

I have the plans for the chicken coop and run, but that will have to be second to our rebuilding of our shed.  Right now we are working on turning a closet in our spare bedroom into a pantry.  So many projects, so little time, only so much money to go around.

I could sit and watch the chicks all day, but I’ve got a lot to do to catch up from the weekend.  So I’m off to check on them and get my laundry re-booted, then tackle my todo list.  Have a great Monday!  Grace and peace!

A little bit of everything….

20141007leaves

Taking a break from working on homeschool planning (yes, still working on that) to type out a little update.

Fall is here, the weather is cooling down and it is time to have the windows closed more often.  This is a great time to deep clean the house and get rid of a lot of dust that has built up over the summer.  It is a slow process, but just sticking with my regular cleaning plan and add some extra cleaning is making it manageable.  Last week I pulled the bed apart and vacuumed everything.  Oh the dust!  My asthma went crazy and I had to put on a dust mask.  You’d never believe I had done the same in the spring with all that dust.  Whew!  Today is Tuesday and my Living Room/Dining Room cleaning day.  It isn’t in my nature to clean, my mother was a cleanie and I didn’t inherit that gene.  Having a good cleaning schedule keeps me focused.  I’d really like to get behind the sectional sofa and clean, but it is a beast and I’ll need hubby’s help.  That will wait for an open weekend where we don’t have anything going on.  So instead I’ll clean out the closet and get all the winter gear ready to use.

The garden is winding down.  I am waiting on a few tomatoes and all those plants will get pulled out.  The fall broccoli and spinach are doing great..at least the spinach that came up.  I planted a large patch of spinach and only half came up.  But at least I’ll have some.  In the raised bed up by the house is a volunteer tomato plant that started growing in mid summer.  That bed is where I grow lettuce and such.  In an effort to try and have more fresh tomatoes later in the season, the bed is now covered.  Not sure how this will effect the lettuce, but I’m hoping the tomatoes do well.  We’ll see.

I have been bad all summer about making menus.  I used to make them a month at a time since we shop monthly.  Somewhere down the line I let it go and have been winging it.  Hubby and I both agreed that it isn’t working for us.  Our grocery budget has increased and we have been eating out more since meal planning has stopped.  That is hard on the budget.  And because we have some big ticket project we are working on (for example, a new roof) getting back on budget is a must and planning out meals is a big part of that.  One of the things I’ve done to help me is to give each day of the week a meal category.  It makes planning meals for the whole month much easier.  Here are my categories:

Mondays:  Casseroles/Crockpot
Tuesdays:  International
Wednesdays:  Pastas
Thursdays:  Breakfast 4 Dinner/New Recipes
Fridays:  Finger Foods/Fish/Date Night
Saturdays:  Soups/Salads/Sandwiches
Sundays:  Roasts/Sunday Suppers

I’ve been making homemade yogurt for a long time, and the last time I made it I added gelatin.  The reason for this was hubby likes the thicker yogurt and I usually drain the whey after I make it.  It seemed a waste though losing all that protein.  So after some research I found a recipe that added gelatin to thicken the yogurt keeping the whey.  It seemed all right at first.  Hubby said it had a different texture that he wasn’t sure he liked.  I usually make yogurt with a gallon of milk at a time since we go through it so quickly.  (Since it is dairy, I don’t eat it.  Only hubby and son do.)  But hubby said that it got bitter and that he didn’t care for it.  After a busy weekend which included a trip out of state, I began making hubby’s lunch for work that Monday morning only to find the yogurt molding.  ACH!!  Never had that happen before.  I may have done something wrong, but that was half of that batch of yogurt going to waste.  So from here on out I’ll go back to the way I was doing it and drain the whey after it is made.  Thoughts?

We live at least 30 minutes from Walmart, 60 minutes from all other city shopping.  I truly hate shopping at Walmart, so it is worth it for me to drive the additional miles to get to Meijer and other big shopping stores.  This really puts a crimp in shopping sales and using coupons.  Back when we lived in Michigan in the city and close to all sorts of shopping, it was easy to hit all the sales and coupon as needed.  I was an extreme couponer before it was cool!  I was really excited to find out that they are building a Meijer store within 30 minutes away!  This just might allow me to get back to shopping sale ads and couponing.  Maybe not once a week, but maybe twice a week.  So I went online to coupons.com to see what coupons they had.  I was a little disappointed that there were only a couple coupons that we would use.  One was for shave cream that hubby uses, the other was for Mucinex.  I think it is great when people can play the game and get free things like toothpaste (I have even got money back in the past), but when you only use fluoride free toothpaste, there isn’t as much savings.  I don’t think I’m going to walk away with a cart full of couponing gems for $5, but every little bit helps, right?

I’ve stalled again on my decluttering.  While I do have a pile ready to be donated, I haven’t added much to it.  I’m hoping this weekend we can make a run to the mission to drop what I do have off and start again.  The holiday season is fast approaching and I’m starting to think of all the decorations that just sit and take up space in the garage most of the year.  I have been putting out less and less decorations for the past few years and I think I’m ready to start letting things go.  It isn’t easy in today’s world to minimize holidays when every thing out there screams at us to indulge more and more.  Fall decorations as of right now is a wreath on the door.  I haven’t pulled anything else out…and I’m all right with that.  It is much less stressful, not to mention cheaper in the long run.  Have you thought about minimizing your holiday decorations?

After being without a second vehicle for a couple years, we were finally able to pick up a new-to-us vehicle.  Hubby has the commuter car for the hour drive to work, and I have the big work vehicle for us here at home.  This will allow me to take care of more errands during the week freeing hubby to get more projects done on the weekend.  A win-win!  And hubby is happy that he is back to having a vehicle that will pull the fishing boat.  Priorities!  😉

Well, that was a ramble and not so little.  I have to get back to work now, hope your day is blessed and productive.  Grace and peace!

 

 

Prepper? Homesteader? Survivalist? Other?

Other.  Really.  Well, for me anyway.

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Making slippers for Christmas gifts.

I’ve always been on the frugal side.  Sometimes more frugal, sometimes less.  Much of what I’ve done is just what I had learned growing up.  I’ve also always been interested in the outdoors, gardening, camping, hiking, farming etc.  Growing up in the city didn’t give me many opportunities for farming, but I really enjoyed any chance to be outside with nature and camping/hiking became one of my favorite activities.

ggma

Celebrating my birthday with my great-grandmother…a homemade cake and homemade party hats.

I heartily understand the philosophy behind prepping and I agree with most of it.  I don’t feel like I need to live barricaded in militarized zone with 30 years of food and supplies put up in my hidden armored bunker.  If you do, that’s fine.  I do feel that as the manager of my home I need to be as prepared as possible to care for my family in what ever situation comes our way.  We live in crazy, fragile times.  But I firmly believe that the extreme form of prepping goes against what the Bible teaches.  The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, to take care of the orphans and widows, feed the hungry, visit prisoners.  It doesn’t say only do these things when times are good and stop when “stuff” hits the fan.  I will do my best for my family, but together we serve God first.

13-10-14grapejam

Canning grape jam.

I would love to be a homesteader.  Living off the land is hard, hard work, but can be so rewarding.  We live in town on a small lot, and while I do a lot of things that homesteaders do, I wouldn’t classify myself as a real homesteader.  But again, a lot of these things I do I learned growing up.  For example: I learned gardening…organic gardening…from my grandfather.  In the big city.  I learned to make things by hand from my mother and great-grandmother.   I learned to be frugal from my grandmother…like using old clothing (read: underwear) to mop the floors and putting left over bread that is starting to stale in the freezer to use in the future for stuffing.  When I moved out on my own, I appreciated the farmers market that was right across the street, and I found out first hand how practical being frugal was.

20140704_110600

The garden goes all the way to the wood fence.

All these things became very real for our family when my husband lost his job a while back.  This area of Indiana suffered a great blow with many automotive, trailer and RV manufacturers laying people off or closing.  Hubby’s company closed and sent the work elsewhere.  Not being burdened by lots of debt and having a well stocked pantry got us through the hard times when many others were going under.  Not only were we able to keep our heads above water, but we didn’t have to rely on any assistance, food or utility programs.  And even then, we were able to help out others when they needed it.  I’m not saying it didn’t hit us hard because it did.  Only now are we starting to get caught up on things that we had to put off during that time (like getting our roof fixed, buying a stove with a working oven, getting a “new” running vehicle after both of ours broke down.)  But being frugal, prepared and doing as much with our land as we could, we made it through when many others didn’t.

20140721_084411

Curing onions in the garage.

So I guess you can classify me under what ever category you would like.  I’m not prepping for any zombie apocalypse, but for real life circumstances for my family and those around me.  I’m not living on an off grid homestead with livestock, but we are trying to live more sustainable where we are.  If you asked me what I would call it…I would call it living Proverbs 31.  Regardless of what circumstances arise, my main responsibility is to God first, then my family and my home, and then helping others as I can.

Matthew 25:34-40 – Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’