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
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!