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, 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.