The Gang

The Gang
October 2008 Sweet Potatoe Harvest

About Me

I am a busy mommy of 6, seeking to be a loving, godly helpmeet to my husband and a biblical discipler to my children. God has blessed us with a child with Autism. May the lessons that the Lord is teaching me and our family be a blessing to you and yours!

My Favorite Books

  • Bible
  • Created to be His Helpmeet by Debi Pearl
  • Four-Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman
  • Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver
  • Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll
  • Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
  • Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp
  • The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace
Friday, December 5, 2008
Philip lost his first tooth tonight at dinner. He was eating applesauce and reached in his mouth to pick out what he thought was a piece of food and he pulled out a tooth! He is VERY excited about his "tooth fairy". We tried to explain to him that it is a tooth and that the tooth fairy will visit him tonight and leave him some money. He kept getting confused. He put the tooth under my pillow and checked it frequently, notifying us that it was still there and the tooth fairy hadn't come yet. When he went up to bed he took the tooth with him to put under his pillow. :-)

I'll try adding a picture tomorrow because the internet isn't cooperating right now! :-(

Sorry for the lack of blogging. Many things have been stressing and tiring me out lately and I haven't had the desire to blog most of the time. Today we tackled one of my HUGE stresses.... the school room. Phil's company gave him a nice gift certificate for Christmas and we were able to purchase some book shelves for the school room as well as a couple other needed items.

I've been doing school in the kitchen lately because I do not like the chaos of our school room. We were using cardboard boxes as make shift book shelves, which were becoming more and more bowed. We also had a HUGE pile of “stuff” that hadn't found a home yet since we moved in.

Many of the boxes are filled with books that I hope to get bookshelves for someday, but until then the pile of “stuff” has been relocated to a storage closet off the bathroom. I still have a lot of sewing supplies pilled up near the filing cabinet which I hope to get organized into rubber maid containers before storing it elsewhere.

Here is a shot of the newly organized wall.
December 1, 2008
Phil didn't get a deer this hunting season. However he did enjoy learning how to field dress a deer and a great time of fellowship with men from our church at the hunting cabin. He did see a nice buck opening season but he didn't get a shot at it. He also shot at a nice 7 pointer the last weekend of hunting season but it was too far off and on the run, so he missed. We were very blessed by friends sharing some of their deer with us. We have two small bucks and a really nice doe to cut up next week. We are thankful for the meat!
We had a nice quiet thanksgiving yesterday even if it was a bit lonely. I still miss being with family on the holidays but I know that since we have chosen a life with farm animals we will most likely not get to leave home much.

I was hoping we'd get to eat one of our turkey's for our Thanksgiving dinner but Phil thought ours were still too small so we enjoyed some chicken instead. It was fun and challenging serving a preservative, dye, and “processed” dinner. We had our pastured chicken, stuffing made with properly prepared homemade bread & cornbread flavored with garden veggies and sage, sweet potato souffle, corn, organic cranberry sauce, gravy, homemade bread w/ butter, pumpkin & apple pie served with freshly whipped cream. It was the first thanksgiving ever that I didn't end up with an MSG head ache from the stuffing and other preservative laced foods. We enjoyed all the food that we had grown on our own property.

We spent the week filling up construction paper leaves with things we were thankful for. We tapped the leaves on the window in the kitchen. The rule was that you had to put something totally different down each time and we couldn't repeat anything that had been chosen on a different day. Our window was filled with fun colorful leaves listing over 30 different things that our family was thankful for.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
You may have noticed that my last several posts have a date listed before the title. I've decided to blog daily on my computer then download those blogs when I have internet access. So you may notice a lapse in blogging then several all at once will be posted. I hope you will enjoy keeping up with things a little more closely than before.

Today we had a deer given to us with the skin still on. My dear family knows that any time an animal was being butchered when I was growing up, I ran and hid. Well our desire to learn how to do our own butchering and processing of food has changed my outlook quite a bit. Last weekend, with the help of our friends I butchered 30 chickens, 15 for us and 15 for them. Tonight Pastor Steve and Bob, friends from church came over to teach Phil and I how to skin, quarter and butcher venison. Ok.... Kirk & Dad you can pick yourself up off the floor and continue reading. :-) Yes, I touched raw bloody meat! Not only did I touch it but I de-boned it cut it into steaks, butterflied the tenderloin, and cut roasts while picking off hair and cutting off the Grissel. The doe was quite small so we only got about 13 meals from her but free meat is free meat!!

Now that Phil and I are trying to learn all this stuff I only wish I had paid more attention when my Dad and brother cut up meat each year. Phil is thinking about taking some butchering classes sometime in the future so we will be able to more confidently process all our own home grown meat.

I'm very thankful to have chicken and venison in the freezer along with a little Lamb and Elk that we received from friends this past week too. We might get to eat meat every night this week what a treat that will be!! We've also been blessed with more carrots, beets, and cabbage. MMMMM!

Phil will be hunting with a bunch of men from our church opening weekend. If he doesn't get a dear there is a very good chance that there will be "extra" deer shot that others won't want for their families. Very soon our freezer will be full of venison, pork, and beefalo! I'm exciting about being able to have a menu centered around meat rather than beans BUT ....... I think we will need another freezer next year!! I already have my chest freezer almost full with lamb, chicken, and veggies from the garden. I'll have to do some shuffling to fit in all the meat we have coming, but it will be worth it!

Oh and for those of you who care..... we got 9 eggs today! :-)
Yes, that is right we are in one of the many areas across the US that are receiving a bit of snow. I laugh as I think about us have 70 degree weather on Mon & Tuesday and an inch of snow today. Only in the Mid-West!
It is a perfect start to the day since we are heading out at 10 to go to the church for Christmas Program practice. Samuel has one of the lead roles in the play. Elizabeth, Caleb, Philip, and I all have small parts. Yesterday I was approached by the program leader and asked to play the piano for the program because the woman who was lined up to play is no longer able to. I'm so excited! It has been so much fun getting back to the piano after 8 years of hardly touching the keyboard. Yesterday before our chiropractor appointment Sam & I stopped by the church so I could practice for an hour. I probably could've sat there for three hours if I had the time. I'm trying to prepare some simple offertories for when I'm scheduled to play for church services while reviewing some scales, chords, and technique books that I used years ago in an effort to get my hands to start working properly again. I'm also reviewing a classical book that I started in College to help build my skills further.

I am loving teaching piano again and am praying that the Lord would provide a piano for our family so that I can not only teach our children but be able to offer lessons, a couple each day, to those in the community. My three students seem to really be enjoying lessons more and more as I discover their true level of play and am able to get them into books that are appropriate for them. Two of my students have had 4 years of lessons but only went through the primer level then jumped to books that are really really hard. We have decided to scale them back into a “normal” level and start a strong emphasis on theory, note, chord, and scale studies. The girls seem to be really excited about it and so am I! I'm anxious to get Elizabeth going again so she can also catch up for two years of stagnancy in her playing. Our greatest challenge is finding time to get to the church to practice since we don't have a piano of our own.

When I began piano at the age of 6 I had the best piano teacher. Mrs. Irene Lowe was my teacher all the way through 6th grade. I know that Mrs. Lowe always wanted to see me teaching piano some day. She was an amazingly talented musician who taught such a well rounded piano program. It is my desire to follow her style of teaching with my children and with all of my students. Because of the way she taught I was able to learn a wood wind and brass instrument in high school along with playing various percussion instruments. I'm not sure if Mrs. Lowe is still alive, but I am thankful for her godly example as a teacher and mother. She taught piano in her home because she has a son with Downs Syndrome. I know my mom saw her a few years ago at Shepherds Home in WI. When he moved into Shepherds they moved to Wisconsin to live in the same area in order to stay close to him. If I remember correctly, even those in her lessons who were not “church goers” had to learn how to hymn play as a part of their lesson. I see that as a great way to share the gospel with others. I pray that I will faithfully use what Mrs. Lowe taught me to help prepare others for church ministry, as well as to simply share her love for piano.
We have changed our focus, attitudes, tones and expectations for our home a lot these past two weeks. The Lord brought me to a point of deep conviction about how I was talking to (yelling at), training (scolding), and dealing harshly with the kids on a daily basis about their laziness and disobedience. Through a situation in our church and listening to a friends abuse story I realized how horrible I was being and how miserable our family was. I confessed my sin and asked God to change me and make me a peaceful, loving, encouraging mom.

The next day I sat down with the kids and shared with them what the Lord had done in my heart. I asked their forgiveness and told them that God wants to see our home be a peaceful loving home. I also shared with them that I saw how much my anger had effected them because of the anger in their lives and how they dealt with conflict between siblings. We talked about how in the Bible Jesus only got angry and frustrated with the Pharisees and Sadducees who were being “fake” Christians. Jesus always taught people with patience and love. I have not been doing that but want God to change me and pray that God will change the kids too.

The past two weeks have been very different. Got has given me the ability to view the kids through His eyes and as a result I haven't “yelled” at the kids one time. We are working together more peacefully and have a family goal of making our family peaceful and loving. Our chores have really changed from a frustrating time to a time of each of us working together to get things done. The kids are having better attitudes and are learning how to prayerfully change their hearts of anger into hearts of love. We are studying anger in Proverbs and this weeks spelling verses are Proverbs 14:17 and 29:22.

This week has been fun gathering eggs. Elizabeth is trying to convince the boys that gathering eggs is a girls job! :-) Tuesday we got 4 eggs, Wednesday 5, Thursday 5, and today 8! We are at the point where I won't have to buy eggs anymore! YEAH! This morning we had veggie loaded omelets with our beautiful deep orange yolked eggs. We had green peppers from our garden, onions & chard from friends gardens a piece of bacon each, topped with some wonderful sharp cheddar cheese. YUMMY! It is very exciting for me to see the kids enjoying more fresh foods.

Tonight we will be enjoying elk meat balls, mashed winter potatoes, and cheesy broccoli. And for dessert we are having Chocolate Cream Shakes: 3 cups cream, 1 tablespoon cocoa powder or carob powder, a drizzle of real maple syrup or agave nectar, 1-3 farm fresh egg yolk, and about 4 ice cubes. . Put all ingredients in a blender and give it a whirl. Taste to see if it needs a bit more sweetener. The kids loved it and I loved giving them a healthy “snack” before bed.
I am shocked and pleased to report that our garden is still producing some beautiful food. We have Romaine, Butter crunch, and Black Simpson lettuces, two types of spinach, celery, leeks and the Brussels sprouts are loosing their leaves while revealing a stalk filled with lovely mini cabbages! Today we will be liming the garden and hope to finish laying a very thin layer of straw before we do the last tilling of the season. The strawberry plants might need a little more straw over them. We've had so much wind that a lot of it has blown off. I still have beets to preserve, and some carrots to dig up and prepare for winter storage. I'm going to preserve some of the beets without pickling so we can use them in our Valentine soup and for Balsamic Beets. I have three 5 gallon buckets FILLED with beets to cook up and preserve. I also have some other root veggies that I'm going to experiment with storage techniques to see how the foods will last the longest in our root cellar. I cannot believe that I'm still harvesting food and it is November.

We have a lot of work to do in the new garden plot before the ground freezes. The pigs have rooted up a lot of rocks that need to be removed. I hope that the kids and I can get all the rocks out, get some lime sprinkled on it and get it tilled before the ground freezes. Even if we can only get half of it ready that will be extremely helpful for our spring planting. A lot of what we will be planting in the back garden won't go into the ground until late May/early June.
Raising animals is another great prof for God's miraculous seven day creation. When you want eggs from chickens you have to have hens that are at least 5 months old. This week our hens reach their 5 month birthday and it has been so fun seeing the beautiful new eggs they are laying each day. According to our calculations only about 6 of the 23 hens are laying. Some hens take 6 months before laying so we aren't expecting them all to be producing until sometime in December. Our hens are laying beautiful eggs, some are a light tan/beige, some are orangish brown, others are brown with white speckles and brown with red speckles. It makes a beautiful carton of eggs! The next time we are able to fill up a carton I'll try to remember to take a picture. We tend to eat them about as fast as they are coming into the house most of the time.
The weather has been amazing these past few days. Today we put aside the school books for some practical learning in organization and farm management. We spent the day enjoying the 70 degree weather while cleaning the barn, organizing the feed, mixing chicken feed, and doing more preparatory work for the winter housing of the animals. It is a very nice feeling to see the barn looking more like a barn and to hear the happy thankful responses from the animals who are living in it. We still have to build a few stalls but thankfully the work we did will make the building project much easier!
Today my third born celebrates his 9th birthday. He spent the day helping daddy paint our old house up north and came home with “grey” hair and absolutely exhausted.

Caleb has accepted Christ as his Savior but struggles, as we all do, to understand the magnitude of God's sovereignty. Caleb is our family clown, he enjoys being silly and making his little brothers laugh. He is a very special big brother. Each night Caleb reads books to his little brothers before bed time. They ask for Caleb to read to them almost every night and miss it when he doesn't. Caleb is very intelligent and an avid reader. He is currently doing 3rd & 4th grade school work even though he is technically only in 3rd grade. I am proud of Caleb for his heart of love and leadership toward his little brothers.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
We spent this past week getting back into a "normal" routine. The week before was so busy with Sunny's departure, Elizabeth's birthday, and the Youth Group activity that our week was just CRAZY! This week we focused on getting back into a good school routine and enjoyed stopping by the library to refresh our supply of books and audio learning cd's. We have a great library only 10 miles from our house. The head of the children's dept loves home schooling families and it shows. She is very helpful and loves working with kids!! We checked out a cd on Squanto that is produced by Focus on the Family. It is excellent, I would highly recommend that you try to borrow or buy it for your family if you have children.

Phil finished up the chicken room all but the laying boxes. For now we put some crates filled with straw up on top of their tall feeder lid. Our new hens will hopefully start laying eggs any day.... we anxiously await the day when we no longer need to buy eggs from the store or others.

Phil also made a stall in the barn for the goats so we could get them out of their summer area and into a place where it is much warmer. He plans on building them a larger winter stall in the middle of the barn but the one he finished was already partially started and easier to complete. Plus it leads to the outside which he can fence in with some electric fencing to allow the goats to have some free choice grazing on the "warmer" days.

Pinky and Stinky have been reduced to the upper left hand corner of their pasture area and are enjoying more feed these days while we fatten them up for butchering and wintering. Phil will be working on a stall for Pinky over these next couple of weeks so that when we haul off Stinky for butchering we will be able to move her into her winter stall.

Our first Youth activity was the evening of Elizabeth's birthday Party. Our activity for the night was entitled "chicken run"! We divided the youth and our boys into two teams which had to catch all the roosters (18) and put them into the chicken tractors for fattening before we butcher them. Would you believe I forgot to take pictures!!! It was quite fun watching the girls, Pastor Steve, Phil, Caleb & Sam chasing the roosters. We enjoyed a toasty campfire which we used for hot dogs and s'mores. The girls also practiced for their Bible quizzing in which they tied for First Place this past weekend at our regional Youth Meeting. Elizabeth was very nervous about the quizzing but did manage to answer one question to help her team gain their victory.

The boys and I spent Saturday getting the garden ready for its wintery rest. We pulled up the trellises, ripped out all the dead plants, buried the strawberry plants under straw, and started the process of spreading a thin layer of straw over the entire garden. Our soil is solid clay. I hope that by adding the straw and rabbit manure it will start the process of getting the soil more peat like and workable. I will do a shallow 3 inch tilling of the straw this week after I sprinkle on some lime. Next fall I will have some nicely composted goat, pig, and chicken poop to spread throughout the garden, that will be just lovely!! :-) We will also be picking rocks in the new garden plot and ripping up any weeds that Stinky & Pinky decided not to eat this summer. My last garden project for this year will be to transplant some raspberry plants from a friend into the new garden plot. We are still enjoying lettuce, spinach, leeks, celery, and brussels sprouts but that will probably come to an end soon since the temperatures are dropping and I don't have these foods in winter boxes.

The only other new event in our lives is that I am a piano teacher again! I was approached by a family in our church and asked to teach their three daughters. I was planning on teaching Elizabeth this year and decided it would be fun to get back to teaching a couple other students. It has challenged me to get back to the piano, and I now spend many days wishing I had a piano here at the house to practice. Since we don't have a piano I teach at our church and practice at our church. I hope that this week Eliza and I will be able to start practicing 4-5 days a week at the church. Thankfully our church is only 10 minutes away, but it is more convenient to practice when the boys can stay here, so Phil and I are trying to figure out when we can work piano practice into our daily schedule.

Well, that concludes the latest info on the Reese's Pieces gang.... enjoy a week filled with God's beautiful creation during this wonderful fall season!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
NOTE: This was supposed to be posted last night, Oct 14 but the internet died before I finished posting our events from Oct 13 & 14, so read it as if it was posted yesterday, not today.

Much has happened in the past 24 hours which would make for one long post. Instead I will be writing 3 posts about things that have occurred here in the Reese house: Elizabeth's Birthday, Sunny's Departure, and The Great Horned Owl.

One story that really doesn't fit in any of the above posts is about Philip and our cat Nibbles. Yesterday Nibbles caught a mouse. We found the mouse out on the lawn. When Sam went to move it Nibbles was upset, snatched it up and ran off to eat her catch. Philip then caught Nibbles and brought her into the house excitedly telling me: “Look Mommy, Nibbles is eating the mouse!” I chased him and the cat with half the mouse sticking out of her mouth out of the house. I guess that I can find comfort in the fact that Philip wasn't touching the mouse, he was only carrying the cat who was trying to eat the mouse into my house! :-)

NOTE: This was supposed to be posted yesterday, Oct 14 but the internet stopped working after the owl & sunny posts were posted. Eliza's birthday was Oct 13.

Yesterday my baby girl turned 12. I am so thankful that the Lord choose to bless us with Elizabeth. She entered the world so tiny and frail at a whopping 5 pounds 1 ounce. Now she is turning into a beautiful young woman with a sweet spirit and tender heart. She is learning how to cope with 5 younger brothers while taking on the challenge of helping her mom and dad learn how to be “farmers”. She loves gathering eggs and is quite the pro at milking the goats. Elizabeth is very talented in the area of music and art and is looking forward to having piano lessons this year.

Now..... if I could only figure out a way to get her to shower more than once every 12 days. I keep telling her that I could grease my frying pan with her head! :-) Oh well.... soon enough I probably won't be able to keep her out of the bathroom if she is anything like her mother was as a teenager.

We didn't have a birthday party for her yesterday. However, we did have some yummy gluten free chocolate chip zucchini cake with ice cream and she opened her birthday cards from her grandparents. This Thursday she is having some friends spend the night and on Friday we will have her actual birthday party just before her first youth group activity, which we are hosting.

Happy Birthday Elizabeth! May God bless you and guide you as you seek to honor him!
Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Last night Samuel, Philip, and Phil were throwing some wood into the basement wood room when Philip started to scream: “Sunny's dead, Sunny's dead!” At that time Sam joined in the chorus and Phil and I went running for the front of the house.

Our dear sweet Sunny dog decided to take on a Combine and lost the battle. We are very thankful that he didn't suffer, his death was very quick and painless. The next several hours were quite difficult for us all. We all shed many tears as we tried to encourage the kids to be thankful that we were able to enjoy Sunny for the past year and a half.

Phil came up to me after all the kids were finally down for the night and held me so that I could cry. Sunny was my dog. Phil got him for me last summer. Phil knew the moment he saw Sunny that I would want him. He was part pure bread golden Retriever and part pure bread German Wirehair, but he looked like a rolly polly lab pup. He grew up to have the look of a lean hunting lab. This past year when Phil was gone from us for most of each week Sunny was my evening buddy and our protector. I never had to worry about him with the kids. He protected our family not only from strangers but from Phil's old dog Bandit who often turned on the kids. Sunny would jump between Bandit and the child in danger and keep Bandit from hurting anyone.

Sunny will be a dog that will be hard to forget. He was a wonderful companion, a playful dog, extremely smart and very cuddly. He was constantly curled up with one of the kids on the couch or in one of their beds. The silly dog thought that he was a chicken herder, chased bikers, stole sticks of butter, and ate lawn ornaments, but he was always there when we needed him either for work on the farm or to lick up the soup that I just spilled on the floor.

This morning we buried our sweet Sunny Dog and will soon start on a quest for another family dog. I pray that we will be able to find another dog that will fit as perfectly with our family as Sunny did.

This morning we were greeted by a Great Horned Owl in the Turkey Tractor. Elizabeth was the one who noticed that all the turkey's were out. When she went to look for the one white turkey that was missing she saw a really odd looking “hen”, and the remains of the missing white turkey. When the “hen” turned it's head she realized it was an owl! She went running and yelling for daddy after closing the top of the pen. The owl was calmly perched on the stairway perch above the dead turkey, in the pen looking and hissing at us. Phil called the DNR to find out if they wanted to tag it or if we should just turn it loose. They told him we could just turn it loose. So all the kids and I headed into the house and Phil went out armed with my long thick oven mitts and a baseball bat to try to get the owl out of the Turkey tractor. He tried to turn it over and it wouldn't budge. He eventually had to nudge it with the baseball bat until it came off the perch, then he moved the pen off the top of it so he could fly away.

Now, thanks to this beautiful but fierce owl we only have 6 turkeys.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
I promised to report our gardens totals for the summer. Here is my best estimate which does not include all the salads, fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, potatoes, onions, leeks, carrots, celery, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, green peppers, tomato sauce, pasta sauce, BBQ sauce, and diced tomatoes, corn, etc. that we have enjoyed eating throughout the season. It also doesn't include the lettuce, spinach, celery, leeks, brussels sprouts, carrots, broccoli (if the goats leave my plants alone) and cabbage that we still have coming in from the garden.

Total expenses: about $700, this is how it breaks down: seeds, sets, and plants -- $200, Fencing $400 (biggest expense for this year), gas for tiller – about $10, I also purchased freezer baggies and jar seals throughout the year spending about $50, extra onions, peppers, and spices for pickling $40. If we hadn't fenced in the garden our expenses would have been about $300. I didn't factor in the amount spent on electricity since I won't be sure about that until we get a bill in a month where I'm no longer canning.

40 # Sweet potatoes (stored in a box with straw/potato layers)
13 spaghetti squash – these will not last all winter, we will try to use them up ASAP
19 Butternut Squash
Sauce 24 quarts, 3 pints
Salsa 7 pints 14 half pints
BBQ sauce 11 pints
Soup 15 quarts
Pasta Sauce 13 quarts
pizza sauce 7 pints
diced 14 quarts

Jam: 15 pints (we started with 32 pints)
Apple Sauce: 13 quarts 1 pints (We started with 16 quarts)

Squash 7 pints 1 half pint
Zucchini 3 pints
Cucumber Sandwich 3 pints
Cucumber Chips 1 quart 6 pints
Bread & Butter 12 quarts
Fermented Cucumber Chunks 3 quarts
Dill spears 5 quarts, 3 pints
Dill Hamburger Slices 7 pints
Fermented Dill Spears 6 quarts 1 pint

Cucumber (sweet) 6 pints
Dill 12 pints 1 half pint
Beet 3 pints

Cole Slaw 10 - 2 cup bags
Corn 14 quarts
Rhubarb 7 – 3 cup bags and 6 – 2 cup bags
Zucchini Grated 11- 2 cup bags 5 – 4 cup bags
Beans Green 14 quarts, 2 pints
Yellow 1 quart, 7 pints
Broccoli 5 quarts
Zucchini Crisp – 5
Strawberries – 5 gallons
Roma Tomatoes – 4 – 4 pound bags
Blueberries – LOTS (given to us for FREE)
Spinach – a 10 oz bag and a 5 oz bag, I hope to freeze more of this from our fall plants.
Sweet potatoes – 3 quarts, 1 – 2 cup bag
Celery (I diced and put into small baggies for soup stew and bone broth) 2 cup bags – 11, 3 gallons filled with 1 cup baggies.
Green Peppers (diced) 1 gallon filled with ½ cup baggies, and 1 gallon filled with 1 cup baggies
Carrots – (sliced and blanched) 9 – 2 cup baggies

So, in total we have over 88 GALLONS of food preserved by freezing or canning, plus the potatoes and squash. We ate a lot of our veggies fresh throughout the season too. I'm sure I can easily say that we got 120 gallons of food plus all the root veggies and squash. So that means that each gallon of ORGANIC food cost us about $5.83 cents. If we hadn't fenced in the garden our cost per gallon would have been $2.50. Either way you figure it I feel that we have saved a TON of money by growing our own organic vegetables. Organic canned goods are increasing in price just like every other item in the grocery store. I'm now curious to see how long our preserved items will last us throughout the year.

We have also lost a few things. I lost over 20 pounds having to work in the garden and preserve all the garden foods. We've also lost a large portion of our lazy bones because we have each had to learn how to be diligent workers of our “field” in order to reap the harvest.

Do I want to do a garden next year? YES!! Next year we will have the 80 X 50 plot that we used this year PLUS a new 84 X 84 plot that the pigs have been preparing for us. We want to do some different veggies and a lot more of many of the veggies that we grew this year. I'm already excitedly planning for it. The kids are going to have some crops that they will be responsible for. Next years expenses might be similar because we are considering fencing in the second plot because of our farm animals that free range or continuously get out of their pens! The third year our expenses will drop dramatically since everything will be fenced in. If we ever get to move to our own place in the country we will be able to pull up the fencing and move it with us.
Today I found Eclectic Culture Farms blog. I was encouraged to find another busy mom doing things the "old fashioned" way. Go visit her blog and enter her drawing!

Thursday, October 2, 2008
Autumn has finally arrived to New Holstein Wisconsin! The days are cooler, the crops slowing down and/or being harvested, the tree's turning their beautiful warm colors, and the smell of wood burning stoves fill the air. I apologize for my lack of blogging this past month. I've been a bit overwhelmed with everything from my blod clot to school, preserving, and trying to develop a good daily schedule with the children.

So here is a quick run down on what we have been doing:
1. Home schooling -- Our school year is going great so far. The kids are enjoying the routine and I am enjoying seeing them be successful while having fun learning. We are doing a very intensive health unit right now where the kids are learning the importance of a clean room, clean bathroom, and hand cleanliness (especially after being outside holding chickens and petting goats).

2. Gardening -- We are still canning tomatoes and freezing zucchini. Usually only 1 day a week is consumed with preserving the garden produce. We are enjoying our fall lettuce bed and have tried a couple yummy Butternut Squash! Soon I will be harvesting some brussels sprouts and the sweet potatoes. We will also be working on the new 84 X 84 garden plot that Stinky and Pinky have been weeding, fertilizing, and picking rocks in.

3. Health -- I met with my doctor today and he is sending me to a podiatrist for my foot. He is wondering if my blod clot may have been a result of the injury to my foot. I still have many times where I experience a lot of pain in my foot, so we are going to try to find out what it wrong with my foot. I see my family doctor again the beginning of December at which time I will probably be able to go off the blood thinner. I have his permission to start walking for exercise to help the blood flow as well as to hopefully help my Blood pressure to go down.

4. Animals -- The goose is getting fat, the ducks are almost ready to be butchered, Stinky is looking more pork choppish, and I butchered our first chicken last week! Yep, you read correctly, I, Me who HATES blood & guts butchered a chicken! One of our roosters got hit by a car but was still warm. I was determined to NOT miss out on the meat so I quickly put a pot of water on to boil, and got a knife while Sam was tying it up by the feet to the tree, and slit the throat (after about 7 tries, and a run into the house for a large serving fork to hold the head still). I am afraid that after digging out the guts and going through an anatomy session with the kids pointing out the various organs, I simply couldn't handle separating out all the gizzards for cooking later. We ate the bird for dinner even though he was still quite small. Phil butchered another one that evening that had been attacked by Sunny and had a injured leg. After eating these two small birds we've decided they need another month or so and need to be confined so they can put on a bit of weight.

5. Family -- We were so blessed to have Mom & Dad Reese with us for about 10 days while I was on couch potato rest. We also had a fun surprise visit from Phil's Uncle Jack and his wife Auntie Jane. They came all the way from Colorado to bring us yards and yards of material and a beautiful electronic sewing machine. I'm so excited!! I've had 3 other machines given to me and none of them worked. This machine is oiled adjusted and ready for action. The first two things on our winter sewing project list are winter jammies for everyone and window coverings for each of the rooms. I hope that I'll be able to remember what to do after not sewing for 13 years. Elizabeth really wants to learn to sew and I'm sure she will have a talent for it!

6. Church -- We love our little church! I got to attend a ladies sleepover with a few other ladies from the church. It was so much fun getting to know the ladies that were at the sleep over. We had fun chatting, eating, and playing games. Samuel has one of the lead roles in our Christmas program this year. He plays the role of a little boy who is ALWAYS eating, while going on an adventure with another little boy as they seek to help a needy family in their community. Sam is learning his lines and is very excited about it.

That's about it for now! I'll try not to have such a huge gap in my blogs this month.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Yesterday was a very busy day! Phil and the kids harvested about 40 pounds of tomatoes, 15 pounds of pickling cucumbers, 10 pounds of regular cucumbers, several HUGE zucchini, onions, beans, and the tender thinnings of our fall lettuce bed (which we used for our salad at dinner last night).

Elizabeth, Caleb and Phil helped me to make a few types of pickles, relish, grated zucchini and tomato sauce. I tried to sit with my leg up as much as possible throughout the day of processing food. It will be much easier to get things accomplished when I don't have to sit with my leg up all the time!! I have learned that it is much easier to cook down tomato sauce in a Nesco type of cooker than it is in a pot on the stove. The sauce cooks down faster and doesn't burn!!

Tonight I made a list of all the foods we've processed from our garden so far. We have canned: diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, strawberry jam, brined dill pickles (still fermenting), cucumber chunks, cucumber sandwich pickles, sauerkraut (still fermenting), bread & butter pickles, dill pickles, hamburger dill pickles, beet relish, cucumber relish, dill relish, zucchini relish, zucchini pickles, summer squash pickles, and applesauce. A dear friend of mine told me that she used to love canning because her pantry looked so pretty with all those different jars of produce. I thought when she wrote that to me that the thought of my pantry looking pretty was silly. However, she is totally right!!! My root cellar looks so pretty with all the different colors from the various canned goods!

I still have a LOT of tomatoes ripening in the garden. I'm hoping for another 2-3 hundred pounds. We also have to pick more apples from our tree. Our pickles and cucumbers are both still producing a lot too. We have lots of celery to chop and freeze some nice leeks that need to be blanched again, a few more onions, a few cabbages, 6-7 heads of cauliflower still forming, some new broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts plants just starting, Brussels sprouts to finish from the spring planting, and our lovely butternut & spaghetti squash are getting bigger and riper. Our fall pea plants are close to 1 foot long now and ready to attach themselves to the fence so they can climb and grow this fall. Our third planting of beans is going well and should start flowering in a couple weeks hopefully before it frosts. I'm not sure how frost hardy bean plants are, I guess we will find out!

We have put grated zucchini, zucchini crisp in a bag, freezer slaw, green beans, broccoli, and yellow wax beans in our freezer. We will soon be adding apple pie in a bag and apple crisp in a bag and we continue to add more beans to our freezer each week.

Over the next couple of weeks I hope we will have the chance to make apple preserves, more applesauce, seasoned tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, sweet pickle relish, cucumber chips, ketchup, and dilly beans.

I really underestimated the amount of onions I should have planted. Next year I will plant 3 – 20' X 3' beds with onions (red & yellow) that I will start from seed. I will definitely do as many tomatoes as I did this year if not more and I will do a LOT more pepper plants!! I've had to buy onions and peppers for the pickles and relish we're making rather than being able to just pull them from the garden. It has been fun using our fresh dill for the dill pickles, but I will grow more next year.

Our house is a wreck with me being off my feet for a week now. I'm looking forward to a bit more help this week from Phil's folks. Phil is also looking forward to getting back to a regular work week. We plan to start our school program this week. This weeks focus will be establishing a chore and school routine that works smoothly. The kids have to milk goats and feed the animals before we are able to eat breakfast. Then we have breakfast clean up and lunch prep before starting our school day. My goal is to get our school day started by 9 a.m. which will require the kids to get up early for chores.

So now I'm off to finalize the school lesson plans for tomorrow and fold some more clothes.
Friday, September 5, 2008
I wrote this blog on Friday but was having problems with the internet connection so it didn't post. So read it as if it was written on Friday.

This mornings blood work shows that I'm at 2.1 so I did not have to get a Lovanex shot today!! My tummy is so relieved and so am I! The hospital said that I should get a break from daily blood work and shots at least until we get the results of the blood work on Monday. Thank you for praying!!

My doctors appointment yesterday was also encouraging. Our new family doctor said that sometime between 3-6 months we will stop the oral medication. Then after a couple months they will run a test to see if I have a clotting disorder. If I do not they will not "require" me to stay on thinners. I explained to the doctor that I wanted off the thinners as soon as it was safe. I also talked with him about my desire to continue to loose weight through proper diet and exercise rather than being put back on BP medicines and he agreed that my plan was a reasonable one. I see the doctor again in a month and will still be monitored Mon - Fri by the Anti Coagulation clinic until they feel my levels are at a point when I can spread the testing to 1 time a week then eventually 1 time a month.

I'm using my resting time to read everything I can about raising the animals we have and the proper harvest and storage of our garden veggies. We registered at our local library yesterday and took the opportunity to check out more books on farming and in particular raising goats.

Periodically we have been blessed by a friend bringing over a meal. That is a huge help since Phil is trying to work, manage our unruly animals, and keep up with the house. Last night a friend who also practices the Nourishing Traditions way of eating brought over a WONDERFUL Lamb Coconut Curry stew. It was so good, the kids practically licked their bowls!! Thomas wouldn't eat the meat since it was "green". It is often very discouraging dealing with his sensory issues along with his food allergies. But such is life!!

The kids are enjoying their first research/reading/science unit: GOATS! They are reading about how to care for goats while we are developing a charting system to keep track of when they are in heat (so we can breed them), how much feed they are getting, how much milk they are giving, what minerals & supplements they are on (this will happen when they are closer to kidding), and eventually when they are due to kid. It is really amazing how much graphing, charting, and math skills are used in raising healthy animals.

I'm really excited about starting the kids nutrition unit. The older three children will be learning how to prepare about 10 healthy lunch meals. Once they are comfortable making these dishes they will be on a rotation system of having to plan a week of lunch meals. They will be learning how to make nourishing soups, stews, sandwiches, salads, and whole grain pasta dishes.

Time to check the weather and pick a day sometime over the next couple of weeks when we can harvest our potatoes! Phil and Elizabeth are going to be making Cultured Salsa today too. That should be interesting! :-) Phil whipped up a batch of his first soaked whole grain pizza crust this morning too! What a guy!!
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
For those of you wondering how I am dealing with all these needles, it is tough. I am not a fan of any type of shot, IV, or blood draw needles. Today was the most painful of all the days so far which makes me dread tomorrow. I'm not sure if my skin is more sensitive due to the blood thinners or if my ability to deal with being a human pin cushion is just fading away. This morning the blood draw hurt more and the Lovenox shot REALLY hurt. I have a bruise that is about 4 inches in diameter and am swollen and sore from this mornings Lovenox shot. Thankfully since I found a new family doctor the Coagulation clinic will be monitoring my daily blood levels and adjusting my oral pill so that I will hopefully be off the stomach shots soon!!

Please pray with me that my blood thinning levels will reach between 2 & 3 very soon. On Monday my level was a 1 and today it only increased to 1.1. UGHH!

Today was a difficult day since Phil was not able to be home to take me to the hospital or to help with the kids. Thankfully he is able to adjust his schedule for the rest of the week and we have some family coming to help next week. Today I had two short periods of being on my feet for about 1 hour each time and saw my leg start to swell each time. So I will continue to be a couch potato. I've been enjoying reading and researching more about how to care for the animals we have on our little homestead. Tomorrow Phil and I will stop by the Kiel Library to get our library cards and get some books on goats for the kids first research assignment of the school year. Elizabeth got about 3 pints of milk out of our does today. She was quite excited and is becoming a good milker. I look forward to them getting a proper milking station so there isn't so much hay and stuff in the milk.... yuck. I'm sure the pigs are enjoying it though! :-)

Phil harvested close to 40 pounds of tomatoes, lots of zucchini, cucumbers and pickling cucumbers tonight. Tomorrow the kids will learn how to make tomato sauce and pickles for their morning school lessons. There will be lessons in fractions, weight, cups, pints, quarts, and gallons, and science. How fun!
Monday, September 1, 2008
Life on the "Reese Ranch" is never dull!! We are still having pig problems. Pinky & Stinky enjoy early morning romps around the property dumping the dog food bin and eating their fill and digging up holes along the house looking for roots, and all the other things pigs like to eat. Phil is working on tweaking the electric fencing so hopefully their wandering days will come to an end soon. Stinky may meet an early demise if they continue to get out because she is the biggest of the two and the one leading the way of escape. We are considering wintering Pinky and breeding her so that we will have a pig to butcher every couple of months instead of just 2 a year. We're still trying to find out what our breeding options are and considering if this is the route we want to take with our little porker.

On Saturday we added 6 dairy goats to our list of animals. We got one goat on Thursday from the place that we got the two baby goats that died. They gave us a yearling as a replacement for the two that died. She was quite skidish being all alone, since she is used to being in a herd. We found a local family that wanted to sell 6 dairy goats that have been raised free range and un-medicated. One goat is 3 yrs old, 2 are 1 yr old and have had their first kids, and 3 are still kids. Phil is trying to keep the older 3 and the one we got from the other farm milking but it has been challenging without a proper milking station. Today Phil and Sam are working on building them a stall in the barn and fencing in a pasture area. They will also work on a milking station as soon as their living area is ready. Our children are loving having the goats!! The older three are enjoying learning how to milk them and everyone loves the taste of the goat milk. Thankfully the 6 new goats are very friendly and love the kids. We hope that they will help the other one to adjust better to our family. We look forward to breeding the 4 older goats in October and the 3 kids in January. When all of them have had their kids and the kids are weened we should get close to 2 gallons a day of goat milk. This is the perfect amount for our family!

We are working on fattening up our roosters for butchering in October and November. Phil is trying to cover their fenced in area so they don't fly out and wander all over the property. The 5 in the chicken tractor are putting on weight much nicer than the ones that are running all over the property. It will be fun to have a few chicken dinners soon since we will butcher the 5 in the tractor the first week of October.

The geese, ducks and turkeys are all growing very nicely. It is amazing to see almost the daily growth in the geese and ducks!! They are so fun to watch as they play in their little pool.

As for the 2 legged human animals, I mean my lovely children, :-) every day seems to be filled with new adventures. On Thursday when the kids were on pig patrol they decided to play with the briers. They were chasing each other trying to throw them into each others hair. Sam thought it would be fun to load his head with the briers even though I told him he'd never get them all out, and he was warned by Thomas' therapists too. About an hour later after their fun had ended Sam walked out to the garden to greet me with a hair doo that resembled that of a cancer patient loosing their hair rather than my adorable curly topped boy. We made him walk around until Saturday with his butched hair doo, then we had to shave him almost completely bald. I'll try to post pictures sometime when the internet is working better.

Elizabeth's injured wrist is healing well. She is also the one that has really taken to the goats and loves milking them and caring for them. Caleb is looking forward to getting glasses soon to correct his vision. When he went to see the doctor at Children's Hospital to get the contact prescription they found that his other eye needs correction too. So he will be getting glasses as soon as we can find an eye care place in our area that accepts our insurance. Thomas has a new therapist since one of his had to quit for the school year because of her teaching hours. Philip & Nathan just romp around all day as boys should catching bugs, collecting rocks, and making "swords" and "guns" out of every stick they find.

Samuel helped all the kids to make their own "work bench" in the garage. Phil has provided them with their own tools and has shown them where their "wood supply" is so that they can be creative. They spend hours a day hammering out there. When school starts they will be having shop class with Phil as they build all the stalls in the barn for wintering our animals. The boys are very excited about the barn project!

I am adjusting to my new daily routine of blood draws, shots and limited activity. Some times it just seems like a nasty night mare. Phil and I were discussing it last night and were talking about how it is a comfort to know that God has a purpose and a plan for allowing this in our lives right now. I'm excited that through my research I've found some natural remedies for blood thinning which I will be starting this week. Two of which include high doses of garlic and cayenne pepper. I will be trying to find a new family doctor tomorrow and pray that I will pick one that will be understanding about my desire to get off the medications as soon as it is safe to do so. I realize that it may be many months until the clot has dissolved and it is safe to get off the thinners, but refuse to stay on a controlled dose of rat poison (which is what my medication is) for my entire life. For now I just pray that the shots and blood work will end soon and that God will allow the clot to dissolve quickly and safely.

We are enjoying preserving and freezing our garden produce. Pickles of various types, zucchini, and tomatoes continue to be our daily projects. We've harvested a bunch of carrots and some of our cabbage too. I tried a wonderful freezer coleslaw that was AMAZING!! I know it will be such a treat to pull it out of the freezer in the winter when veggies are so expensive! I plant to put up several more 2 cup servings of the coleslaw for Phil and I. The kids don't really eat coleslaw yet so the smaller servings work well for now. It is fun watching our root cellar fill up with jars of food for the winter.

That should catch you up on all the Adventures of the Reese's Pieces for now. Have a blessed day!
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Many of you may know about the trouble I've been having with my foot. We hoped that it would get better but due to my high activity level it continues to be a problem. On Thursday I re injured it working in the garden. Phil and I had decided that he would take me to the hospital for x-rays Friday night. We put the kids in front of a movie (a big treat for them) and drove 8 miles down the road to the hospital. The doctor who saw me thought that I had a stress fracture so he ordered x-rays. Dr. Cotton was also concerned about the swelling in my leg and the pain I was having in my calf muscle so he ordered an ultra-sound of my leg to rule out a blood clot. The x-rays of the foot didn't show a fracture. I felt pretty stupid and was frustrated because I was so swollen and in pain. After waiting 2 hours the ultra-sound tech still hadn't arrived. We didn't know when the test was ordered that the guy had to come all the way from Green Bay. Anyway, we were about to leave and not get the US when they told us that he had just gotten into town and it would only be a few minutes more until he arrived. The US tech was a wonderful Christian man who I was enjoying fellowshipping with when suddenly he said, "Uh oh, you have a blood clot right behind your knee." Shortly after when he was continuing all the needed tests around the clot my doctor walked in wondering what was taking so long. The tech told him that I had a clot that was about 1 inch. The clot is not fully blocking my vein, but is large enough to cause concern. I actually have two types of clots. I have a chronic clot that has probably been in my leg since I was on bed rest with Nathans pregnancy. Sometime over the past month or so another clot has formed over the chronic clot. At least I'm assuming it formed over the past few weeks because that is when I started to have pain in my calf muscle and swelling on and off which are both symptoms of a blood clot.

The treatment protocol requires that I have daily blood thinner shots in my stomach until the blood thinner cumadin that I've been prescribed thins my blood enough to allow the clot to start to dissolve. Dr. Cotton said that for the next 2 weeks I cannot stand for long periods of time. I can walk, which is difficult with my hurt foot, sit with my leg elevated or lay down with my leg elevated. I also have to wear those lovely tight thigh high stockings all day which help the blood flow in my legs. Starting on Monday I will have to get blood drawn daily and my blood thinner medications adjusted according to the test results. I've been told that it can take months to get the medication regulated properly, and it may be several months before I will be out of danger of the complications that can occur if the clot breaks up and shoots to my lungs. We will be finding a new family doctor this week to oversee my case and may have to see a vascular surgeon. Dr. Cotton said that because I have a chronic clot I may have to be on blood thinners for life, and option that Phil and I are not comfortable with because of the side effects of the blood thinner meds. The doctor said that I may be a candidate for surgery to remove the chronic clot but it is a risky surgery and it may be hard to find a vascular surgeon in the area that will do the surgery. You all know that I am not a person who enjoys needles nor the thought of surgery, but we will start to explore the options that are out there for treatment. I am also going to be researching natural, dietary, and other types of treatments that may help the correct the clot problem.

Please pray with us about the following:
1. That we can adjust our family routines to allow me to have my leg elevated for as much as possible for the next couple weeks.
2. That I will not experience any injuries that will cause me to bleed since I will no longer have the ability to clot, and that I won't get any uncontrolled nose bleeds which can be common with the medicines I'm on.
3. That the new clot will dissolve quickly.
4. That the Lord would preform a miracle and the chronic clot will dissolve so that I won't have to be on blood thinners for an extended period of time.

We praise the Lord that the pain in my foot caused me to go to the hospital so this blood clot could be discovered before it gets worse or before it was so bad that it took my life. We are so thankful that the Lord prompted Dr. Cotton to run the test to look for a clot that he really didn't think would even be there, yet it was. God is good! We are resting in His divine wisdom in allowing this to happen in our lives.

Thank you for your prayers!
Friday, August 22, 2008
It has been a while since I've posted. We have been enjoying beautiful weather as summer winds to a close. Friday through Tuesday we were able to enjoy a wonderful visit with Phil's parents. The visit was short but was such a nice change to our days. The fellowship was sweet and the kids enjoyed some great grandparent time!


Our garden continues to kick out produce and we try to figure out what to do with it! :-) So far we've canned 14 quarts of applesauce from the tree in our yard, zucchini relish, zucchini pickles, squash pickles, and bread & butter pickles. We also made up 5 bags of zucchini crisp filling for the freezer, I'll let you know if it works just as well as apple crisp/pie stored in the freezer. The tomatoes are starting to ripen a bit faster. I'm anxious to try some tomato sauce and my canning recipe calls for 45 pounds of tomatoes. Today I brought in 12 pounds. Maybe by the middle of next week I'll have enough to try my first batch of tomato sauce. I canned my first two quarts of diced tomatoes this past weekend.

Today we harvested our first two spaghetti squash. It looks like I'll have a ton of pickling cucumbers ready next week. most are about as big as my pinky right now, so by next week they should be a nice size.

The vine bore has finally killed my last two pumpkin plants and is starting to move to my butternut squash. This makes me very sad!!! I have a ton of butternut squash forming so hopefully they won't progress fast enough to ruin the entire crop. I dream of having enough butternut squash to last the winter but we'll have to see if the bore destroys those dreams as he has my dreams of pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin soup made right in the pumpkin.

We have some watermelons that are about the size of a basket ball. I hope that it stays warm for a few more weeks so they can finish growing.

We lost about 8 of our cauliflower heads to the heat of the sun. I didn't know until too late that you have to keep the cauliflower covered while the flowerettes are forming. The pigs are enjoying the bitter cauliflower. We have 8 plants left that have just started to form their cauliflower heads so I tied the leaves up around them today hoping that we will be able to harvest some nice cauliflower in a couple weeks.

Our fall lettuce, spinach, pea and bean plants are starting to grow. The fall broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage haven't sprouted yet. It has been so hot and dry! We are watering the garden so that each section gets watered at least every other day, but it might not be enough to get the plants to start. We will just wait and see.

We are gearing up for school. Our school supplies have been purchased. I was given free English/language arts books for the older three, math for the older two, and science & social studies/history for all the kids. I found some great math books for Thomas. We are working on his blends in phonics and will be starting to do a review of his sight words next week. While shopping the other day I found the perfect kindergarten work book for Philip! Elizabeth and Caleb are reading books like crazy lately which is fun! Phil is reading the kids The Hobbit for literature. I am working on lesson plans for the month of September. I yet have to purchase the spelling books for the older three and Thomas's reading curriculum but other than that we have everything needed to start our school year! I'm excited about our character study that we will be doing called Proverbs for People by Rick & Marilyn Boyer. The first lesson is exactly what we need right now, Slothful vs. Diligence. The kids still have not adjusted to the needs of our farmette country life. It amazes me how lazy we are allowing our kids to be raised and I always thought my kids weren't that bad until moving here. The typical American child is EXTREMELY lazy and selfish. Yes I realize we all struggle with laziness and selfishness. BUT, that isn't how it should be. Somehow my generation and this next one (I believe) are missing the discipline gene that our WWII grandparents had. Phil and I pray that with lots of patience and consistency that we will have a changed heart and that we will be able to help to shape young men and a young women that will have great work ethics.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
How many creative and yummy ways can you use zucchini? This is the time of year that zucchini and summer squash are producing mass amounts in the home garden. You can also find them for a very reasonable cost at the grocery store and farmers markets. These two types of squash can usually be used interchangeably in all recipes that call for zucchini.

Phil and I decided a couple months ago that we were going to need to live as if our family was in a depression financially. With the expense of running two houses until our Pembine house is rented our finances are very tight. My grocery budget has been cut $500 dollars, some months even more..... that is a lot especially when you consider my grocery budget covers not only food but all other living needs, clothing, feed for the animals, purchase of animals, paper products, etc. I am not writing this blog to complain nor to have others feel sorry for us. EVERYONE that drives a car and shops at a local grocery store is feeling financially strained right now!! I am writing this to try to encourage others to think outside of the box by cooking healthy meals using what you have available in your kitchen/pantry.

Our tight budget has caused me to try to get really creative with the abundant food that the Lord has provided for us. We decided back in March to use part of our stimulus check for dry beans, rice, and grains that would store for a long time and yield a lot of food and nutrition for our family. Usually we have a lot of beef and pork in our freezer too but right now I'm down to less than 10 pounds of meat in the freezer. This October/November we will start to butcher our roosters, one of the pigs and hopefully Phil will get some Venison for us. For now, beans, rice, milk, grains, nut butters, a little frozen fruit, honey, organic sugars, agave nectar, maple syrup, some eggs and veggies are what I have to work with.

To be honest I was getting really discouraged trying to come up with food that would satisfy this crowd and be prepared quickly with all the time needed in the garden. The past two days I took time off from the garden to sit down and look through some of my favorite cookbooks for creative ways to use the veggies, beans, and rice that I have in abundance. I also have to note before sharing some of the great recipes I found, that I am blessed to have a husband that is extremely supportive. He usually raves over whatever food is put on our table which encourages the kids to accept just about everything. Plus, when what you serve is all you have.... the kids learn to eat what is in front of them or go hungry. Another trick I've learned is to make a “healthy” dessert on evenings that I know the kids will not want to eat parts of the meal. The rule is always they must eat a little of everything if they want dessert.

So, what have we already made these past few days? Egg Zucchini & Onion casserole, Egg Vegetable Strata (layers of torn whole wheat English muffin bread, sauteed veggies, and eggs with just a sprinkle of cheese for flavor, made the night before and baked in the morning at 350 for 50-60 minutes), Baked Oatmeal, Veggie loaded Omelets, (every time you see veggie I am always using zucchini and other veggies from the garden or our CSA), Vegetable Rice Medley, PBJ, & PB Honey Sandwiches, Biscuits, Bread, Garden Vegetable Enthusiasm Soup, Valentine Soup, Balsamic Beets, Zucchini Coffee Cake, fresh salads, Creamy Cucumber Salad, Cole Slaw, Strawberry Kefir Smoothies, Kombucha, popcorn (made with Coconut Oil & sea salt) and probably more that I cannot remember right now. That doesn't sound all that much like a starvation diet does it??

Over the next few days we will be trying: Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake (without icing), Navy Bean Soup, Hearty Minestrone Soup, Zucchini Crisp (just like apple crisp except use 8 cups of cubed peeled zucchini), Zucchini Pie, Cabbage Sloppy Joes, Cucumber Salsa, Cabbage with herb butter, Corn & Bean Soup, Marinated Cucumbers, Lentil Vegetable Soup, Kimchi, cucumber and red onion salad, and Garden Vegetable Pizza.

I do want to take a minute to stress that if you are limiting your diet to veggies, beans, and grains it is SO important that these foods be prepared properly. Many people start making their own bread but don't realize that if the grains are not pre soaked you actually miss out on 50-70% of the nutrient content. This is the same for beans and rice. We are not really choosing to not eat meat right now, it just isn't in the budget. That is why we use lots of raw whole or partially skimmed milk, butter (made from the raw cream skimmed off), coconut oil, olive oil, and flax oil/meal. It is SO important to have good fats in your diet especially for the little ones. Fat is brain food for our kids if it is the right fat!

So what cookbooks and other sources am I using for these recipes? Bean Cuisine by Janet Horsley, Bean Lovers Cookbook by Golden West Publishers, Taste of Home Annual Recipes 2000 & 2001 (Thanks Kristin), Quick Cooking annual Recipes 2003, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book, and Pillsbury The Complete Book of Baking. I also refer to the following blogs: The Nourishing Gourmet, Passionate Homemaking, and Keeper of the Home for wonderful nutrient dense recipes that follow the Nourishing Traditions guidelines. If you do not have a lot of cookbooks (which I doubt) then use your Internet to search for recipes that use the ingredients you have on hand. Just type in the ingredient into your search engine and you'll be shocked to find out how many recipes are floating our there in cyberspace. You can also go to your local library and spend time looking through the cookbooks there.

So, here is my challenge to you. Take some time to look through a few cookbooks and prepare food with the resources that are in your house. If you don't have a well stocked pantry and a garden you might find it more challenging to cook a variety of healthy filling meals. I am so thankful that we decided to do a large garden this year and stock up on dry foods that store well. It was a very worth while investment since it will see us through many months of lean times ahead. God is good!!

Ok, here are the Zucchini bars I made yesterday, my Garden Vegetable Enthusiasm Soup, and a Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake made the nourishing way! I did cheat on the zucchini bars recipe and NOT soak it because the kids were very hungry and I wanted a somewhat healthy snack for the afternoon and to use for dessert to make them eat their Garlic Buttered Swiss Chard and salad. :-) Once I work with the recipe more and soak the grains successfully and reduce the sugar or use a sugar replacement like Agave, or maple syrup, I'll re-post it as a nourishing recipe.

Whole Wheat Zucchini Bars

Combine 3 eggs, 1 ½ cups sugar (organic Cane or Rapidura preferred), and 1 cup oil. Blend Well.

In a separate bowl combine: 2 cups whole wheat flour (I used Prairie Gold), 1 tsp baking powder, ½ tsp sea salt, and 1 tsp cinnamon. Mix with a spoon.

Add dry ingredients to wet and mix well. Stir in 2 cups shredded Zucchini or summer squash.

Spread into a 13 X 9 baking dish. Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Variations: Leave out the cinnamon and sprinkle on ½ cup of carob or chocolate chips. Add 1 cup or dried currants or raisins. Add 1 cup chopped nuts.

Garden Vegetable Enthusiasm Soup

1-2 Leeks or 1 red onion, chopped
½ green pepper, chopped
3 celery ribs with greens, chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Freshly pressed garlic cloves
1 small head of cabbage, sliced thin or shredded
1 yellow summer squash, cut into chunks
1 zucchini, cut into chunks
4-8 cups chicken broth (depending on the amount of veggies in your pot)
2 large freshly picked tomatoes, diced
a handful of fresh basil chopped

Heat a large stock pot. Drizzle with olive oil. Add leeks, green pepper, & celery and saute until translucent. Add freshly pressed garlic and saute for about 1 minute stiring constantly so the garlic doesn't burn. Pour over sauted veggies 4 cups of broth. Add the cabbage. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until the cabbage is crisp tender. Add summer squash & zucchini and simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes just until the squash is crisp tender. You may need to add additional broth at this point. Make sure the veggies are all covered by the broth. Just before serving add the fresh tomatoes and basil. Only cook the soup for an additional minute or two with the tomatos & herbs. Salt and pepper as needed and serve with fresh bread or biscuits.

Variations: Add carrots and potatoes to the original veggie saute. I believe that parsnips or turnips would be a nice addition too but haven't tried them yet.

Whole Wheat Nourishing Zucchini Cake

Soak 12-24 hours at room temperature in a covered bowl:
2 ½ cups soft white wheat (pastry flour), spelt or kamut.
½ cup buttermilk
¼ cup oil
½ cup melted butter

When you are ready to prepare the cake preheat the oven to 350, and butter a 13 X 9 cake pan.

Add to soaked mixture:
1 ½ cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa or carob powder
1 tsp baking soda

Mix well.

Add 2 cups shredded zucchini and ½ – 1 cups carob or chocolate chips and ½ cup chopped nuts.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The original recipe called for frosting but I omitted it because we don't need the extra sugar.

Does anybody have any great beet recipes?? I have another 2 meals worth of beets to use. I think I'll try basic buttered beets for one but would like something new to try for the other meal. Please leave a comment with you favorite cucumber, zucchini, or beet recipes or link to your blog if you've posted a recipe there that uses one or more of these foods!
Monday, August 11, 2008
Today we did a lot of planting in our garden. All of our beds are full of veggies or seeds now, YEAH! The kids helped me plant the snow peas, shelling peas, and 2 types of green beans. Then I planted broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, monnopa spinach, giant winter spinach, Romaine lettuce, buttercrunch lettuce, and black simpson lettuce. I will also try to plant more leeks this week for fall and winter use.

We spent the afternoon blanching and freezing 5 more quarts of beans (green, purple, white with purple speckles, and yellow) and 1 quart of broccoli. The purple and white with purple speckle beans were part of our weekly veggie share from our local CSA. What is a CSA you ask? It stands for Community Supported Agriculture. In many communities you are able to find a CSA where several farmers work together to provide chemical free or organic food to local consumers. The consumer pays a fee for a ½ or full share and receives a box or bag(s) full of food anywhere from once a week to once a month. I was so excited to find a CSA only 3 miles from our new house! It is run by a young couple who have a sweet little 2 yr old boy. They are currently the only farmer contributing to their CSA. They grow over 35 types of veggies and often more than one variety of each type of veggie. I was able to join their CSA even though 2 months are already gone for an adjusted rate. So far we have had the opportunity to try: candy cane beets, purple potatoes, red & yellow onions, leeks, fennel, basil, green zucchini, yellow summer squash, cucumbers, red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, red potatoes, purple beans, white with purple speckle beans, green onions, and swiss chard! It is really fun going to pick up our bag of produce each week then coming home and unloading it with the kids. We also receive recipes! I'm so excited about being able to buy organic chemical free food that is VERY local, so FRESH, and very reasonably priced!!

This evening I decided to make creamy broccoli soup with another quart of broccoli that I didn't freeze. Often I'll add potatoes to the creamy broccoli soup since the recipe is actually a Potato soup recipe that I converted to a broccoli soup because the kids like the Potato soup so much. I decided not to use potatoes so was looking for another root veggie to add to the soup. I have so many lovely veggies in my fridge right now but beets are the only root veggies that I have in excess right now. I was hoping to disguise the beets in the soup so the kids wouldn't realize they were eating beets. I boiled them, deskinned , cubed and added them right at the end of the cooking time. As I stirred the soup it started to turn a very nice creamy shade of pink. :-) Each of the kids started to come in asking what was for dinner and I told them, “This soup is a gourmet variety only sold in the best restaurants, it is called, Valentine Soup! It tastes a lot like my potato soup but has a secret ingredient!” After our Bible and prayer time I served this lovely pink soup to the kids. We were all totally shocked to absolutely LOVE the soup!! The beets were VERY sweet and added a really nice flavor to the soup. Each bite was a bit different because sometimes you'd get a beet which was very sweet, others a bit of broccoli or some freshly cut celery, which was also very sweet. I went out and cut the celery right before making the soup and used all the beautiful green leaves in the soup. I have never tasted such a sweet full flavored celery as the celery cut from our garden. The kids and Phil just raved over the soup the entire meal!! I've been making a wide variety of “enthusiasm soups” lately because I want to use all the fresh veggies in a variety of ways: breakfast egg souffl├ęs, soups, side dishes, grilled, etc. I was very thankful that my beet experiment ended a little better than another great chef who once tried liver in her enthusiasm soup.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
For those of you expecting a story about how a local woodchuck is eating our garden you will be pleasantly surprised to find a saga about a woodchuck in our BASEMENT instead!

I wrote the following entry last Sunday evening while Phil was out of town but didn't have internet access to post it. Before I post the story I will update you on the happenings of our week. This past week the kids and I worked in the garden rescuing it from the weeds and preparing many empty beds for our fall planting which will be done tomorrow. We will be planting two types of peas, 3 types of lettuce, 2 types of spinach, more brussels sprouts & cabbage, carrots, beans, and possibly more broccoli & cauliflower.

We are starting to harvest zucchini, leeks, beans (almost done harvesting the first planting & the second planting will be starting to harvest by the end of next week), tomatoes (slow so far but once they start turning I'm sure we'll be canning daily), and a few peas from our early planting. We found all the strawberry plants and to our pleasant surprise many of them are sending out new plant shoots! Plus I just had a friend offer me a bunch of strawberry plants. I expect to see our strawberry patch triple in size by spring.

A little kitty wandered into our yard last Sunday, she has been affectionately named "Nibbles" and has been claimed by Elizabeth. Our landlord dropped off a black male on Tuesday who is almost a year old and is named "Midnight" who has been claimed by Caleb. Then on Saturday a friend dropped off a male kitty who has been named "Tiger" and claimed by Samuel. We hope to have some kitty's this spring to help keep the mouse, mole, & chipmunk populations from taking over the place! All three of our new additions will be barn cats. Nibbles is really trying to weasel her way into the house. I've consented to her being a basement cat at the very most. I refuse to have a cat in my main house ever again! We've had to many weird cats who pee & poop everywhere and I won't put up with it again!

I've been reading "Bringing up Boys" by Dr. James Dobson this past week and am convinced that if I am still sane by the time the boys are in their 20's it will be a miracle!! Nathan decided to test his fate with a gallon size ziplock bag on Saturday. I saw him with the bag and thought, "Naw, he won't try to put that over his head." A few minutes later we heard a very weird cry from Nathan then a thud onto the floor. I went into the living room to see the ziplock bag fully over his face, his face turning bluish purple and him screaming, gasping for air. I started to scream his name over and over while trying to get the very tight fitting bag off his head. It wouldn't rip and it was on him so tight that it was very hard to get a good hold of it while Nathan was flailing. I got it off right before he passed out. He was quite lethargic for a few minutes then perked up. We told him that is was a BIG "NO NO" to put a bag over his head! Tonight Philip found a small baggie on the floor (which had early housed some raisins for Thomas) and said, "Mom, Nathan won't put this on his head right?" I convinced him that it was too small but we should throw it away just in case he were to try.

Today we had the opportunity to fellowship with a family in our church for the afternoon. Then during the evening service Phil, Elizabeth, Samuel, Caleb and I shared our testimonies with the church and were voted into the membership. It is so much fun being in a small church again! We are looking forward to ministering in our church as time goes on. Our church requires that a person be a member for six months before teaching or taking on a leadership position. I think that is a great idea! It will allow us to minister in small ways (music, nursery, etc.) while getting to know the folks and the needs of the church so we might know how the Lord can best use us in the ministries of the church. So far we have been blessed by the preaching & teaching of the Word while enjoying wonderful fellowship with the members. We praise the Lord for His leading us to this community and our new church!

So, that is a brief summary of our weeks excitement, all but the woodchuck story which I hope you will enjoy reading: (Remember this happened last Sunday)

The Woodchuck

We had quite the adventure on Sunday August 3rd. Phil left for Kentucky at about 2:30 p.m. At around 5 I was in the Kitchen and heard Sunny barking in the basement and a very weird squeaking then clicking almost like a rattling sound. I went down and saw that Sunny had some sort of animal cornered behind a pile of wood. Our landlord had decided to open up two of the windows in the basement in hopes of drying the basement. I figured that a squirrel had wandered into the house so I was planning to take enough wood off to allow Sunny to catch and kill it. I got enough wood off the pile using a long stick and Sunny started to fight with the animal. He came out with a very nice sized animal that at first I was afraid was a raccoon. Since I know coons can be VERY mean I screamed, then yelled, “No Sunny DROP!” He tried to drop the animal but it turned and bit him in the mouth. Sam started to swing a board at the dog & animal hitting them both a couple times until finally the animal let go of Sunny and Ran into the main room then up the stairs and behind the water tank. Of course there was a ton of commotion as I was screaming, Sam was yelling and Sunny was yipping. For those of you who are wondering Sunny just got his rabbis shot the beginning of June, so I know he is going to be fine!

We ran past the tank and up into the house and shut the kitchen door. I then called the landlord who wasn't home. I figured out that the little “squirrel” was actually a woodchuck or a ground hog and it was a nice sized one. When we got to church we shared with our church friends our little adventure and some of the men from church volunteered to come over and kill what they said was a woodchuck based on my description. They were actually having fun discussing what type of a gun they should use and where the animal should be shot.......... while I'm just worried that Nathan, Philip or Thomas will try to pet the thing and get hurt!

So when we got home and I still couldn't get a hold of my landlord I called Pastor Steve our associate pastor who is also a taxidermist. He brought his twin 10 yr old boys and his 4 yr old son and they along with Sam and Caleb went down to the basement to take care of the woodchuck. It was funny peeking down the steps at all those boys on the stairs watching Pastor Steve try to get the woodchuck out from behind the tank. He was hoping it would run out so he could shoot it. But the woodchuck was too smart and was trying to hide. Eventually Pastor Steve had to pull it out with a pitchfork and hit him on the head. They put the woodchuck in the bucket and took it out to dump behind the barn. On their way out Pastor Steve's 4 yr old said, “Daddy can we take it home?” I laughed!

I was shocked that Samuel was able to watch Pastor Steve kill the woodchuck. He is usually the one with the weakest stomach who gags & pukes quite easily. He was quite manly though throughout the entire process. :-)

At 9:30 p.m. Phil called and heard the entire story from Samuel & Caleb! He said, “Sure I leave then you guys have all the fun!” :-) I will be calling the landlord in the morning asking him to put those windows on, dry basement or not!!

NOTE: Our landlord did put the windows back on until he was able to make screens for the windows! He buried the woodchuck and said it was a young one. I'm thankful that it wasn't a full grown woodchuck or our story might have been much scarier!
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Life has been very full these past couple weeks. We found out that we are not able to get Internet access, so my time on the computer is very limited so I apologize or the lack of blogging.

The kids are enjoying periodic "adventures" where they fill up their backpacks with books and snacks and head out to the creek or under the apple tree for "hiking". Usually they aren't gone that long because the mosquitoes attack them!

We are still trying to find a new normal with the responsibilities of the garden and animals. Philip had a run in with a nail when the house was being re-roofed last week. His foot was a bit infected and he woke the morning after he got the nail in his foot with a fever which was the start of another episode of tonsillitis. It seems anytime Philip gets exposed to a cold/flu bug and this time it seems and infection in his foot, it triggers a nasty few days of fever, swollen tonsils & adenoids. I'm so thankful that a couple weeks ago I read a GREAT article from the Weston Price Newsletter that talked about how good it is for kids to run a fever and how best to deal with it. We pray that this time since we didn't give him any Ibuprofen or Tylenol that next time he won't get as sick when his tonsils flare. It is comforting to know that God designed a fever to fight the bad bugs and it is totally ok to let kids have fevers!! If we curb the fever by trying to bring it down they body cannot fight the illness or disease that is causing the fever. Allowing kids to run a fever is the best thing which goes so much against what we are taught from modern medicine which is quick to drug rather than really heal. Ok..... I'll get off this soap box now! :-)

I've been struggling with a foot injury that we are trying to decide how to deal with it. I hurt is back in May and it is not healing. We aren't sure if it is a break or if I have tendon/ligament damage. If it is still bothering a lot by the time Phil returns from his trip we will probably have to get it checked out. There are many things I'd rather spend the money on than x-rays and doctors, so I keep on hoping it will stop bothering me. Last weekend when Phil went up north with the kids to clean out the Pembine house I re-injured it chasing chickens out of the pig area and was on crutches all day Saturday. I'm using a surgical shoe for the next couple weeks to see if keeping it immobile will help it to heal.

We have been blessed to find a local farm only 3 miles from our home that provides organic, chemical free veggies for a reasonable rate. We are joining their CSA for the remainder of the season (through Nov.) where we will receive a nice assortment of veggies each week. This past week we tried Purple potatoes and beets for the first time. I made the beets in a balsamic vinegar brown sugar (sucanat) glaze. Most of us really liked it!

Our chicks (50), turkeys (7), ducks (6), and geese (2) arrived this past Friday. The roosters we got in May are getting big and starting to look more and more like roosters. The two hens we have are laying eggs somewhere on the property. Phil just finished one of the chicken tractors. We are going to put the two hens and some of the roosters in the first tractor. That way we will be able to find the eggs each day!! The pigs now have a large area to root up and fertilize that is lined with electrical fencing so they will stay put and get my new garden patch ready. Once they are done with their work we will pick rocks and till the area to prepare it for over 100 raspberry plants I'm getting this fall and the corn & potatoes, and maybe a pumpkin patch in the spring.

Our Garden is doing great! WE may have lost some of our corn to the last thunderstorm. The winds were very strong and some of our stalks are leaning quite badly. We hope to pack more dirt around them on Monday. My foot and the building of the chicken tractor has prevented us from getting out there these past two days. We are harvesting green beans, yellow beans, and continue to harvest broccoli. Elizabeth & Caleb helped me to blanch and freeze 2 1/2 quarts of green beans, 2 quarts of yellow and 2 quarts of broccoli. I'm still waiting to sink my teeth into the first juicy tomato. We have 1000's of them forming and hope they will start to turn red soon.

This morning as we were leaving for church a mangy little grey kitty wandered into our lives. We were hoping it will stick around and help manage the little squeaky creatures that like to live in the barn and basement (in the winter).

We met with our church pastor and deacons today and shared out testimonies. Next Sunday night we hope to be voted into membership at our new church.

That's about it for now! I won't have Internet access until Phil returns from his trip later this week.

Have a great week everyone!
Saturday, July 19, 2008

Our pig adventures began on Monday when the pigs decided they'd like to become "free range" pigs! :-) Thursday was the worst day yet. I woke at 6:50 hearing a noisy commotion in the entry way. It sounded like Sunny was famished and eating fiercely. Then I heard the dog bark, he was standing in the driveway looking into the entrance barking. When I peeked out my kitchen window I discovered two pigs eating all Sunny's dog food! That was the first of many pig chasing episodes for the morning. At one point the pigs had wandered into the creek, which is beyond the barbwire fencing. I was walking through the corn field on the other side of the creek and trudging through the creek trying to stir them back into the pasture. Finally we were able to spot them, so I put the kids on watch while I went in to make some lunch, it was already 11:30. Yes, you read it correctly we had been chasing pigs off and on for 4 1/2 hours. Ugh!!! Finally around noon Sam jumped into the creek and chased them back into the field where Sunny & Elizabeth successfully chased them back into their pen. We tried to block every exit point they had created in the pen and then set the kids up on a rotation watch of the pigs until Daddy came home.

Thursday evening Phil started building a new coop and fenced in area for the chickens. We ran out of feed and they are not getting enough grass in their current pen. We HATE giving them grain and have no money to buy more so fencing in a grass pasture area was the only and best solution. By Friday he had it finished so we spent the morning chasing chickens and putting them in their new fenced in area. We caught all but 13 who were caught in the evening once they were in to roost for the night. The picture I have posted is of the pen before Phil built the roof. Now it has a peeked roof with a laying box way up high. The 2 full size hens showed their appreciation for the grass and laying box by giving us two fresh eggs last night! Earlier in the week Elizabeth found a nest in the hay loft with 18 eggs in it. We tested them all in the water test and they were all good. They've already all been eaten and were still fresh and wonderful!

I have to tell you that I was so exhausted by Thursday night after chasing pigs for so many hours that I literally cried tears of relief when I realized that Phil would be home all Day Friday to help us keep the pigs in their pen. And wouldn't you know, they didn't try to escape ONE TIME on Friday.

Today was a different story though. They got out several times before Phil finally corralled them into the old Chicken pen. Phil and Sam are expanding the pigs fencing and electrifying it so our little porkettes will stay put (hopefully)!

The kids love having the chickens in the yard. Phil and I laugh every time they pull out the camp chairs and sit around the pen "chick" watching!! :-) Today they caught a big beetle and enjoyed watching the chickens play "beetle football"! I love looking out one kitchen window and seeing our garden and the other window to see our meat & egg sources for the winter. It is GREAT getting to raise/grow our own food, but it is a lot of work!! The weeds are winning in the garden right now because it has been far to hot to be in the garden during the day and we've been getting a lot of rain. Both the veggies and the weeds like these growing conditions, which is causing us to loose the battle to the weeds for this week at least.

Phil has decided to build chicken tractors and is trying to decide on a design that will be economical and easy to move. We figure we will need a few of them. He wants to try to design chicken tractors that will hold 25 birds each. Right now we have 28 hens and 25 roosters. We have 50 more chicks arriving next Monday. It is a straight run so I'm not sure how many of each sex we will have. We'd like to start pasturing them within a couple weeks since August is very warm here in WI and having the grass will give them a strong healthy start!! Plus, they will outgrow the room we have set up for them in the barn. We also have 6 turkeys that will need their own tractor. I think the 6 ducks and 2 geese will also need their own tractor. So That means Phil needs to build at least 6 bird tractors. WE have PLENTY of Lawn for the birds. We are determined to use this useless grass to help our food supply instead of use energy we need to spend elsewhere. It takes Phil about 7-8 hours a WEEK to mow the lawn with our push mower. I'd rather spend the money on building the tractors so that our meat and egg birds will be healthier than on a riding mower.

I'm sure the next few weeks will be filled with building lessons as Phil and the kids finish the pig fencing and start making the bird tractors. There is never a dull moment!
Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Today our 80+ pound Berkshire piglets arrived. Thomas is having a hard time accepting that we will eat the pigs. He wants them to be Wilbur! :-) Tonight when Thomas was talking on the phone with Grandma Conover he told her that he didn't want Mom and Dad to Bake the pigs. His next comment was, "They'll be under arrest!" I think Thomas wants to have us arrested for butchering the pigs. :-)

I'm very happy to get some of my freezer space back! I've been saving food scraps for the pigs since we found out we'd be able to buy some. I had the entire freezer in one of the refrigerators FULL with slop for the pigs.

Today while I was working in the garden Philip was telling me that he wanted a pet. I told him we had a pet, Sunny our dog. He said that he wanted a different pet. I asked him what kind of a pet he wanted, his reply, “ A Elephant!” As we held hands walking up to the house I told him that I didn't think we had enough food to feed an elephant. I then said, “ Philip, what would you feed the Elephant?” His reply, “Chick starter”. Then he told me that he wanted to use his “dollar” (which is actually a $5 bill he earned for helping with chores) to buy his elephant. I love the way four almost five year olds think!

Tonight I sent out an email to family and friends whose email address I have. This email contained our new address and phone number. If you didn't receive it and would like to please email me and I would love to pass our contact info on to you! I do apologize if I missed anyone. It is very likely that I don't have everyone's current email address.