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
Saturday, October 31, 2009
October has been busy with school, preserving the harvest, flu, school, making cheese, flu, school, flu, etc. Yes, we have had the feared H1N1 and survived without difficulty and WITHOUT the vaccination!!

All the children are doing well in school. Thomas had a rough time getting back into the routine after his almost week long bought with H1N1. He is finally starting to get back to normal. He only has 2 months left of his intensive therapy treatment. I'm very thankful for these three years yet I'm looking forward to life no longer revolving around Thomas's therapy schedule!! We are unsure as to what the future will hold for Thomas regarding therapy. Wisconsin passed a law that requires insurance companies to cover therapy for Autism. That sounds GREAT to those who haven't been able to "afford" therapy. However, the hope quickly fizzles when you realize that you still have to pay your deductible and in many cases a co-pay which can easily total $1,600 a month in order to receive 20-30 hours of therapy a week. I'm afraid that we have discovered that our insurance is one that is required to pay which means we are required to use the insurance rather than the Waiver. Depending on how all the details play out we may no longer be able to have therapy for Thomas beginning in Jan 2010. The Lord knows what is best and we are trusting Him for the outcome. I do believe that Thomas needs more therapy, however, we have a large deductible and a 20% co-pay which will most likely mean little to no therapy for Thomas.

Philip's lumpy limphnodes continue to decrease in size very slowly. He goes back to see the Dr. in December. Philip loves school and is really doing well. There are still many days that he wants to stay home with mom and home school. I keep telling him that someday he will be home with mommy for school but for now, he has to go to Mrs. R's class. I love the time of day when he comes off the bus anxious to hug mom and share a bit about his day.

Nathan is enjoying his 4K class. The teachers told me that when he was out with H1N1 the class was quiet and lacked its typical "spark" and "energy". He is starting with two 30 minute sessions of speech therapy. His greatest weakness with speech is clear pronunciation. The Speech Pathologist did four tests with him and he passed all them with flying colors except the one on phonetics and pronunciation. I really like his SP and I know with her help Nathan will make a lot of speech progress this year. I am also excited that I will get to play the piano for Nathan's 4K Christmas program. This will give me a good chance to get to know more of the folks in our school and town.

Eliza, Sam, and Caleb are doing well with their home schooling. They seem to enjoy spelling the most which is really quite funny since Eliza and Sam are really behind and Caleb is advanced. They like the program that we are using though so that is good! Sam and Caleb get to do a lot of experiments in science which makes that subject fun for them and challenging for mom..... I have to have the right stuff on hand for the experiments!! I think a nice science kit is on the Christmas list for this year!

Phil helped his team at work move their data center this month. It went very smoothly which brought on the praise of the WM board and Phil's bosses. I am so thankful for the job that Phil has. He really enjoys it and he is valued for his hard work! He is also putting in a lot of time on the farm getting it ready for winter. He's built a new stall in the barn for the goats, fixed up the cows stall and milking area and is constantly moving fencing so Rose can have fresh pasture. He is a hard working man!! In a couple weeks we'll be butchering a steer with some Amish Neighbors. Phil is excited about learning how to butcher beef! After that experience my hubby will be able to butcher everything we hope to raise on our own someday.

Me, I've been busy trying to keep up with this busy brood and the farm. I am enjoying making lots of food out of our good Jersey milk. We make cheddar cheese, Mozzarella, butter, cream cheese, sour cream, and lots of hot chocolate to name a few things! Elizabeth can now make Farmhouse Cheddar Cheese from start to finish without my assistance. She is a big help in the kitchen! My new hens are starting to lay which has increased our egg production from 8-10 eggs a day to 14-18 eggs a day. I'm able to sell the extra we don't need. We have finally decided to end our Turkey brooding business. Our Tom and the 3 hens will be gracing our table over the next few months. Our Amish neighbors have agreed to help me butcher them the week before Thanksgiving! I'm looking forward to Turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Last year just didn't seem like Thanksgiving without a turkey!

This week I'll be canning carrots, pumpkin, squash, and apples. With the help of my Amish neighbor I'm am slowly becoming more confident about pressure canning. I just don't have the freezer space for everything yet I want the food to last us the year, so pressure canning some of these foods is my only option. The Amish have done it for YEARS and thankfully Sarah is willing to answer all my silly questions!!

In the midst of it all I'm thankful for the beautiful Fall weather. God paints the rolling hill's and the edges of the fields that surround us with the vibrant yellows, red's, and oranges of fall. Most of the leaves have blown off the trees now as we hunker down for the slower, colder days of winter. We've survived out first year trying to be fairly self sustainable with good success. We've learned a lot through the struggles, successes, laughter and tears and we look forward to next year!
Saturday, September 26, 2009
This past week has been focused on canning the tomatoes from our garden. Elizabeth, Sam & Caleb have had to help me a lot because my carpel tunnel has gone from bad to severe after having to milk Rose for a couple weeks. Thankfully now our vacuum pump is working so I can give my hands a rest.

Since last Sunday we have made 14 quarts of Spaghetti sauce, 7 pints of pizza sauce, 14 quarts of diced tomatoes, 9 quarts of tomato sauce, 11 pints of BBQ sauce, and 37 pints of salsa. I couldn't have done it without the kids help. My hand goes numb and get very painful after only a couple minutes of holding a knife. We probably have another 150 pounds of tomatoes to pick and process over the next week or so. We'll be making more spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, salsa, and probably more BBQ sauce. I'm already at the point where I dread having to look at tomatoes for another day. I know that I will be glad when we have all this wonderful organic food in the root cellar, but I think I will be more glad when we are DONE canning tomatoes!

Friday we went on a field trip to a local orchard with Nathans 4K class. The kids and I learned a lot about how to care for an apple tree. They are writing a report about what they learned. The woman who gave the tour asked me to mail her the kids reports. She said she wished more older kids came to the orchard because there is so much to learn!

This week we will be busy with school and canning. The week will end with a mini vacation for ME! Yes, I am actually going to leave the premises for 24 hours. I'm going on a ladies retreat with some ladies from my church. I'm very excited about getting a day away for fellowship and spiritual refreshment.... I just hope they don't serve tomatoes! :-)
Friday, September 11, 2009
This week was the first that I allowed the littles to ride the bus to school in the morning. I was concerned that being on the bus for 30-40 minutes in the morning would be a struggle for him. Thankfully, I was wrong. Thomas has done a great job. He even rode all by himself on Wednesday because Philip still wasn't well enough to attend and Nathan doesn't go to school on Wednesday.

Elizabeth, Sam, Caleb and I did home school each day this week. None of them have all their subjects but we consistently worked on the ones they do have. I am really liking Spelling Power. The kids are really having fun with spelling this year and I know this systematic way of doing spelling will help Elizabeth and Sam to catch up to their appropriate grade levels while it is challenging enough for Caleb so he isn't bored.

Elizabeth got to go to a sewing class on Thursday. One of the missionary builders at our church taught all the girls at our church how to do some basic stitches by hand and on the machine. She also gave them a history lesson that included quilting before teaching them how to do a nine patch quilt. Elizabeth really enjoyed the day with her friends from church learning to quilt and sew!

Philip ended up missing two days of school this week because he was still too weak and tired. He still isn't back up to his old energy level. If he hadn't just had a mono test three weeks ago I'd be taking him to the doctor for a mono test. Especially since this is the second time he was sick in 3 weeks.

We are going on our first field trip tomorrow to Ledgeview Nature Center, about 2 miles down the road. They are having a "Health & Harvest Day". It will count as health and probably science for the kids. Plus they were able to color a picture which they will submit for a free ice cream while we are there. Phil will be gone to a men's retreat, so it will just be the kids and I. I'm sure it will be and adventure!
The past couple mornings Rose has decided that she wants to walk home to her Amish farm. She acts like she is willingly walking to the pen until she gets the pen in site then she turns around and bolts for the road. The first morning we were able to catch her right by the garden. The second morning was much worse. She bolted away from Sam and by the time we caught her she was down the road a ways. We ended up tying her to the hitch on the back of our Minivan and pulling her home. I decided to park in our neighbors drive and walk her to her pen. As soon as we got to the gate she bolted dragging me along behind her. I would've held on longer however.......... my pants were falling down! :-( UGH! When I let go Elizabeth and Samuel caught up to her and were jogging on either side. Sam decided to try to throw all his weight on her to see if it would slow her down. It did only because Samuel slid under her body and the cow tripped over him with her back knee landing fiercely in the middle of Sam's back. Sam stood up, gasping for breath that wouldn't come. His face was beat red while his lips were turning blue. Finally he fell to his knees then passed out. Thankfully he was only unconscious for a couple seconds. When he woke up his breathing was not labored so I was pretty confident that he didn't have a punctured lung.

So I ran for the van and up the road to catch the cow again. This time we backed her right into the pen while she was still attached to the van. We pulled the van out enough to get the gate closed then we finally untied her. By this time Sam was looking much better and able to help us. He was complaining of pain when he breathed deeply. After talking with Phil we decided that he wasn't in any great danger but we wanted him checked out by a doctor that knew the spine. So I took him to our Chiropractor that afternoon. Dr. Nick found that Sam's spine and ribs were sound, no fractures, however, he had 4-6 vertebra's that were severely out of place. He adjusted Sam and thankfully Samuel felt instant relief, being able to breath much easier. We are very thankful that Samuel's first lesson in cow ridding didn't end with any severe injuries.

Yesterday I didn't take a chance and hooked her up to the van and put her in the pen with the aid of the vehicle so I wouldn't have to chase her. This morning Phil was here and she didn't give him any trouble. Hopefully she is starting to realize that this is her new home.

Many people have asked me, "She really wouldn't walk home would she?" I think that because the Millers lead her here by hitching her to the back of their buggy. She really does know the way home. Usually a cow is hauled to a farm in a trailer which means they loose all sense of direction. Rose however, walked here so she thinks she can just walk home!

I still really am enjoying having a Jersey cow and if the Millers offered to sell her to us, I would buy her in a minute. She is very mild mannered which makes her very easy to hand milk. We are really enjoying her creamy milk and the first batch of cheddar cheese curds are almost gone. Today I'm making cheddar cheese curds again, and either a block of cheddar for aging, or some mozzarella so we can have pizza this weekend. Our first batch of butter will be made tonight and I made some mildly tart creamy yogurt a couple days ago too! I love the versatility of cow milk and of course, the flavor!
Monday, September 7, 2009
School has begun again. The three littles started at New Holstein Elementary last week and overall had a very good week. Thomas, who is in grade 2, is adjusting well to being in the classroom again and is excited to try ridding the bus this week. We have his IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting on Tuesday at school to outline the areas that we will target this year with his behaviors, therapy (speech & Occupational Therapy) and education at school. Philip is in kindergarten and having a great time! Nathan and I went to his class for a shortened day on Thursday, then on Friday he went by himself and rode the bus home. He loved it!! He will be getting evaluated for speech which will allow him to receive speech therapy soon.

The older kids and I took the first week to get used to our new spelling program. We are using Spelling Power which allows each child to be at their own level, while progressing as quickly as they master the current word list. They are all doing great and are really enjoying it! We also did their math testing so I could verify which level each child is at while getting a good picture of their strength and weaknesses in Math. We ended the week by hanging a bulletin board, white board and classroom clock. The kids also wrote a Journal entry about their first week of school. This next week we will add a couple more subjects for each child, depending on what curriculum's have arrived by then. We are still waiting for all our school materials to arrive.

This year they each have their own crates to hold their school materials, and they have their own "space". Elizabeth uses the table, Caleb the school desk, and Sam, the old computer desk. They really like having their own "desks" this year! Within the next couple weeks we will start them on Piano too. I want them each to have a foundation in music and piano is the best way to attain that. Once they each have a good understanding of music theory and the treble and base clef notes then we will look at getting them each an additional instrument to learn.

This year's schooling will be a lot more structured than last year and I am enjoying the change. The kids seem to be really liking having a guided lesson for each subject too. We are using Alpha Omega Life Packs for science, history, and language arts this year. I'm sure it will be another year of learning what works and what doesn't!
Sunday, September 6, 2009
I think I've posted about some of the health problems that Philip has been having. When we lived in Pembine and he was in 4K he missed one week a month because he'd end up being sick, running a fever, swollen glands and tonsils, and just feeling miserable.

Since moving his boughts with illness had become less and less. He started only getting sick every other month, then every three, etc. He was sick in November then was in very good health until 3 weeks ago. That is why when his neck remained swollen when he wasn't sick we got concerned. Exactly three weeks ago he spiked a fever and was in bed for 2 days. Yesterday it started again. He spiked a fever and spent yesterday in bed and he is already in bed again today, after going out to watching milking and visit the puppy. Thankfully these last two incidences seem to be much shorter than before. They only seem to last a couple days instead of an entire week.

Phil and I are trying to figure out what is lacking in his body that will help his immune system to fight off these little bugs. What is not balanced??

The biopsy of the growth in his neck came back fine, no cancer cells or abnormal cells of any kind. The ultra sound showed several growths between 1 & 2 centimeters in size on his neck. He sees the specialist again on the 28th. Until then we'll just make him comfortable when he runs the fever and pray for wisdom as to how to help this little boy gain full health again!
This morning was quite the milking adventure with Rose. We had decided to try to use our goat stantion in reverse for Rose. We didn't take into account that the stantion weigh's very little and our 800 pound cow would just jerk it around while trying to get the vegetables and feed we have on the platform for her. So this morning Rose was milked in the barn, in the driveway, and in the front yard! I'm sure all the cars that drove by had a nice laugh, since you don't often see a Jersey Cow in someones front yard with a long haired red head milking her into a 3 gallon bucket! About half way through the milking process when we were chasing Rose down the driveway, Phil said,"Honey, I think your dream come true has turned into a nightmare!" Thankfully we both have a sense of humor and really want our own cow which made the morning very laughable!! After chasing Rose around getting her milked we enjoyed coming into the house to have last nights very whole milk, the jar was almost 1/2 cream, over a bowl of cereal!

We aren't getting as much milk out of her as the Millers were. I think it is because we cannot get her to stand still and relax while I'm milking her. She is also used to being milked with a machine. Rose is actually more difficult to milk than our goats. The goats have a nice firm nipple and they let down their milk well. So far, Rose hasn't been comfortable enough to let her milk down easily and her two back teats are VERY small. Like even smaller than our Brownies teats. Phil is going to work on getting the vacuum pump working so we can use it for Rose. I think once she settles in we will see her milk increase again! So far we've only gotten 2 3/4 gallons out of two milkings. She should be closer to 4 gallons a day.

I must say after chasing Rose around for 1 1/2 hours it was quite relaxing to milk Curley, the goat!

Today Phil will stop at Tractor Supply to get a lead rope and a hook to mount on a beam in the barn so we can tie her up during milking time. He is also going to get a bit of new fencing so we can put her in a pasture area along side the house. She'll be our lawn mower for the fall!
Saturday, September 5, 2009
No.... Really, I HAVE a COW! Yes, that is right! Today a beautiful Jersey sauntered up the road to her new boarding farm, the Reese Farm. Our Amish Neighbors lead Rose here behind their horse and buggy. She walked 3 miles to get her and arrived at about 5:45 p.m. We introduced her to the barn then milked her for the first time. She did GREAT!! She has been milked with a machine for the past 2 years. For now we will be milking her by hand. Phil hopes to get our vacuum pump working soon so we can milk Rose with our new Serge milker.

I am so excited to finally have a Jersey on the farm. We will board Rose until she needs to be bread again next summer then we'll take her back for a month or two then they will return her here. Our friends are working on building up their dairy herd so they can eventually ship milk. For now though they only have 4 cows that they are milking which isn't enough to ship. They were giving all the extra milk to their pigs. When I told Sarah I was looking for a Jersey she mentioned it to her husband who said we could have Rose until they are ready to start shipping milk, which I think is a couple years away yet. This will give us a chance to try out having a cow without having to spend $1200 on one. What a DEAL!!! I can certainly handle babysitting a cow when we get to use all her wonderful creamy milk!!

We had another addition to the farm today.... a new dog. Well actually she is an almost 6 week old sweet little puppy! Elizabeth bought her from friends of ours. She will be our farm dog. She is going to live in the barn with the animals and hopefully protect the animals and gardens from the varmints that have done so much damage this past year! Elizabeth hasn't named her yet. Sometime over the next couple days I'll have to take pictures of our newest additions.

And we had one subtraction too. Marie our best goat went to her home tonight a couple miles down the road. Now we are down to just milking Curley until the spring when she and the 2 yearlings will freshen. Caleb is very glad that he will still have goat milk from Curley and I am very glad to only have about 1/2 gallon a day of goat milk to use. Caleb drinks about that much in a day, so it will work out GREAT!
Monday, August 24, 2009
We've been blessed by friends who have given us apples this month. First our land lord came over with a bushel of apples that made 6 quarts of sauce. Yesterday we received a bunch more from another friend. Today we made 25 quarts of apple sauce from those. Sam and Elizabeth were big helpers today. It took us most of the day to make the sauce and they did most of the quartering of the apples while I was making bread, having Thomas's weekly team meeting, and cooking the apples. It was definitely a team effort!

Caleb had a check up today with his doctor at Children's hospital. The doctor said his eye looks great. He will see Dr. Connor again in a year.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Since my last entry our lives have been busy working the garden, preparing for school, and enjoying the summer with an occasional chase the pigs and/or goats day. Yes, our fencing issues and naughty livestock still cause trauma at least once a week. We are raising 40 more meat chickens and my new laying hens are growing nicely. They are even starting to make friends with some of my current laying flock.

We've started to sell off our goats. So far we've sold 2 milkers and 1 yearling. We'd like to sell 2-3 more adult goats and the 2 female kids before winter if possible. We only have 2 goats left that we are milking and they are yielding 1 ½ gallons of milk a day. We keep what we use and give the rest to our pigs. We are selling most of the goats because most of us don't like the goat cheese and only 3 in the family like goat milk.

I don't think that I've blogged since we got our 5 feeder pigs. They look like little Wilbers, and they are very naughty! We kept them in the barn at first because they were too little to be out with pinky. After a month of barn life their stall and our barn STUNK. So we decided to try them out in the pig pen, so we could clean out their stall. They did fine for about a week then they got adventurous and decided to start exploring the farm, yard, and road. So, Pork, Chop, Bacon, and Sausage are all in the pen in the barn while Hamy is still living with Pinky. Hamy doesn't try to escape when he is alone, but if we put the others back in the big pen they five of them explore the property.

We may be “renting” a nice jersey cow from our Amish Neighbors starting soon. They have a Jersey that they don't need right now but in the spring they need the milk from it to feed their beef calves. They are just giving all the extra milk to their pigs. I had mentioned to Sarah that I was working on selling the goat herd so I could get a nice Jersey cow. She told me that they might have one they'd sell. However after talking with her husband she told me that they still need the cow in the spring but would let us use her for now so we could have some cow milk. The details have to be worked out and haven't been discussed by the men yet. This may be a great opportunity for us to see if we are ready to get a cow. And mmmmmmm I can just taste the cheese, cream, butter, sour cream, cream cheese, etc that the wonderful milk would make!

Lately I've been shopping for school books for the kids on ebay. So far everything I've gotten adds up to a savings of 50%. I only shop late in the evening so it doesn't cut into my family and farm responsibilities.

Philip celebrated his 6th birthday this past week. We had a fun party just with our family and lots of water balloons. Philip is seeing an ENT for a lump in his neck. He just had a biopsy on Aug 20. We will find out the results next week. The doctor doesn't think it is anything major but will be watching it closely over the next several months even if the biopsy comes back negative.

Thomas, Philip, and Nathan are excited about going to New Holstein School this fall. We are working with the school to get Thomas's special needs cared for properly. Their back packs are loaded with school supplies which they get to drop off at school on the 31st while seeing their classroom and meeting their teachers.

Elizabeth, Samuel, and Caleb are looking forward to another year home schooling and so am I!

The biggest highlight for the kids this past month was the visit from Grandma & Grandpa Conover. We had only a couple short days with them but enjoyed our time immensely. We took a day's vacation away from the farm to swim at Blue Harbor Resort Water Park. My mom loved the slides..... I on the other hand HATED them. The kids were all wrinkles and red eyed after their day in the water. It was so much fun! Thanks Uncle Jack & Aunt Jane for the tickets!!!

To read about the activity in our garden lately please check out our garden blog. I just updated it with several back dated entries.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Phil, Sam, and Caleb leave for Kenora Ontario tomorrow morning at 5 a.m. They will be traveling with 3 others from our church, 2 other men and one other boy. They will be going to the camp that Phil, Elizabeth and I went to a few years ago to help with Girls Camp. This time the men will be helping with a variety of things during the week while the boys will be campers. I'm excited that Phil and the boys have this opportunity and am prayerfully expecting it to be a great week for them all. Please pray for them as they seek to be a blessing to those at the Kenora church and camp ministry.

Elizabeth and I will be left here with the littles to run the "farm". There will be a lot of extra chores to tend too but I think we'll be able to manage ok.

I won't have any internet access while Phil is gone but I'll try to write a few posts to load up when he returns.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
This spring has been filled with a lot of outside work. Our front garden is filled with the exception of the sweet potato patch. I'm not sure I'm going to get that in since I haven't ordered the plants yet, I'll decide what to put in that plot this weekend. Our plans for the back garden have hit some snags since it is SOOO full of rocks. We managed to get a 60' X 25' area ready for sweet corn and finally got that planted mid June. Last year we didn't get our sweet corn in until mid June and it did fine so I'm hoping it will do ok this year too. There is a small section of the garden that I was able to fill with 120 raspberry plants and some rhubarb. The rest is almost unworkable. So we are pilling it high with grass clippings and manure, then putting in hills of nicely composted dirt for our squash veggies. Hopefully it will work. We hope to have it all finished over the next few days.

We area already enjoying fresh salad greens and spinach. Our strawberries are ripening and are so sweet and beautiful this year. The peas will be forming pods soon and it looks like there will be lots because there are a ton of flowers!! This will be my first successful pea crop ever! The tomatoes are flowering and we've already hilled 5 rows of potatoes. Elizabeth just thinned our purple, yellow, and green bean rows. The beets, rutabagas and turnips are forming their roots and the carrots are starting to come in nicely. The onions and leeks are growing nicely, if they continue to do well we will have plenty of onions for fall canning and winter use. I love looking out my kitchen window and seeing our rows of veggies soaking in the sun and/or rain. Five years ago I hated the thought of gardening, now.... I'm starting to enjoy it. Well maybe not enjoy it really but I am thankful for the opportunity to grow fresh food for my family and do enjoy watching them grow... if only the weeds would stop growing!! We hope to start apply a grass clippings mulch to each bed once the mower is fixed.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
After many months of praying through what to do about the Pembine house. Phil and I had decided that we'd look for a renter who'd be willing to work on repairing the house. We are very excited that we have finally found someone who is interested in working off most his rent while living in the apartment. Our new renter has already started repairs on the water system that had many burst pipes after the pipes froze this winter when the heat went out. He will be able to move in soon and will continue to help Phil repair the house so that we can rent out the main house or sell the place. We are so thankful that God has answered our prayers about how to handle the Pembine property!
Friday, July 3, 2009
We were very excited to have Phil's parents visit us in the Middle of May for almost one entire week. The kids got to show Grandma and grandpa all their baby animals. They were hear to see some of Elizabeth's first turkey's hatch. They also got to enjoy watching the kids jump on the trampoline they purchased for them for Christmas until a strong wind decided to blow the thing across the yard, over dads car, and into a heap by the lilac bush. Phil has yet to get it resurrected since we've been so busy with other things on the farm since then .

Grandma and Grandpa brought us many new books and toys that they are removing from their home in a effort to downsize. Aunt Beth also sent some surprises as a result of her and Uncle Wes helping his mom to downsize after the recent home going of Wes's dad.

Our family spent Memorial Day visiting with our Pastor, his wife and many others from our church. The men cut down a large boxelder that Pastor wanted removed from his property. The removal of the tree was fairly uneventful until Phil hollered for everyone to stop cutting. He had seen a mama racoon run out of the tree when they were cutting it up after it had felled. He then looked in the trunk and found a nest of baby coons. They still had their eyes closed. My boys got to each hold one before we put them under a bush away from where the men were working. Pastor was planning to kill them that evening but when he went to take care of them, they were gone. Their mama must've come back for them even though they were touched by human hands.

Another special visit we've had recently was when some of our friends from Pembine came down to spend the day with us. Karen and 9 of her 10 children came down to see our “farm” and spend the day “playing”. The kids really enjoyed themselves and I had so much fun catching up with Karen! Their mama cow died shortly after giving birth to her heifer this spring so we sent them home with 3 gallons of fresh Goats milk! It was so much fun getting to spend the day with them!
Thursday, July 2, 2009
May began with a visit from the local vet. We were concerned that Marie, our best dairy goat, was going crippled. We had some tests run and were happy to discover that she was disease free. She surprised us on May 4th by delivering two black and white billy kids. Elizabeth went to the barn around noon to check on the goats and found that she had successfully delivered. We had to take the kids away form her immediately because we were still waiting on the lab reports from the vet. The vet had told us to heat her colostrum to a low heat to kill the bad bacteria that may be in it form the illness we thought Marie had. Well..... let me tell you, colostrum turns into a solid mass at about 95 degrees. I was supposed to heat it at 136 for 1 hour... HA!!! We had to run to our Amish neighbor who raises goats to find out what he suggested. Goat kids MUST have colostrum or they will usually die of diarrhea. Thankfully Andy had some colostrum in the freezer that we were able to warm and feed Bill & Max.

That first week of May was a busy one. First Max and Bill joined us, then Curley had her kids, Samantha & Clarence on the 5th followed by Brownie who delivered Samson & Simon on the 6th. So we went from no milk to LOTS of milk in just 3 days! We let Curley and Brownie nurse their kids for their first 24 hours, then we removed them and started bottle feeding them. We decided to remove the kids from their mom's after their first day of colostrum so we could train them to be friendly goats. They are VERY friendly!! The children have really enjoyed having to bottle feed the kids each day. They are almost ready to be weaned so they are down to just one feeding a day now.

Patches waited to have her kids until the 12th when Midnight and Courtney joined the herd. All of our children got to see at least 2 of the kids being born. It was quite an experience!! I thought it was a great way to teach the kids about how God allows the birthing process to take place for goats. They all thought it was pretty cool!!

We are now milking the four does two times a day. At first the milk tasted horrible and I was really worried. We learned that during the beginning of the goats lactation the protein and fat content is very high which gives the milk and off taste. Thankfully that taste went away after about 10 days and now the milk is YUMMY!! The only one that says they don't like it is Elizabeth. WE think it is just in her head!! :-) We are using the milk for drinking and making cheese. I also found a great recipe for making a carmel sauce out of the milk that the kids love with apples. WE hope to try ice cream and a wider variety of cheeses as time goes on. Right now I'm just making Feta and Cheddar from our milk. I still prefer cow milk and the options available when using cow milk like making cream cheese, sour cream and butter. I would gladly sell all my goats in an instant if I could find a nice calm Jersey Cow to add to our farm.

I am the primary milk maid which is causing severe problems with my carpel tunnel. I'm seeing a chiropractor regularly since the tips of my fingers on my right hand are always numb now. We are also looking for an automatic milker. We found the machine we want, a serge milker. The milker is reasonably priced on ebay, however, the vacuum pump needed to make it run is another matter. We are praying for wisdom while we research and shop around. I cannot continue to milk by hand because I'm getting to the point where permanent damage could set in. The chiropractic care and physical therapy will hopefully prevent that until we can get an automatic milker. The children help with the milking too but whenever they milk alone we loose milk due to the bucket getting kicked over by goats. They children aren't as good at removing the bucket quickly when the goats get ornery.

We've decided that we will probably sell the three yearling's and the two does that were born this spring to help pay for the milking equipment. We will keep the 6 boy goats that have already been weathered, to raise for meat. They'll be butchered between 9 – 11 months of age. We plan to try a few different cuts but mostly we'll grind it to be mixed with pork or beef. We'll probably use a lot of it to mix with our pork for summer sausage at the late winter butchering of the pigs.

We have about 20 new hens that will be added to our flock of 19 hens in a couple months. Our 19 full grown hens are producing 14-16 eggs a day. We sell our extra eggs for $2 a dozen. The Amish sell theirs for $1.50 and the two places that raise pastured organic eggs sell theirs for over $3 so we chose to settle for a price in between the other places and don't have a problem selling our extra eggs. We will be butchering our 18 meet birds and 16 roosters at the end of this month. When that happens we will move our 30 turkeys to outside pens so they can be ranging on grass and bugs all summer long. We had originally planed to get more meat birds in July but will raise the turkeys for winter meat instead. The local coons, possums and mink have decimated our flock by about 10 over the past month. We are trying to remodel our outside pens so the birds will be more protected but still easily movable.

We still have Pinky. She will be joined by 5 40-50 pound piglets next week. We will raise the little ones so they can be butchered in December or January. Pinky will meet a new boar in December so we will be able to have a full liter of piglets in the spring. We found a farm just on the other side of Kiel that raises organic Berkshire pigs and they are willing to let us borrow their boar for a few weeks so we can get Pinky pregnant! YEAH!
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
It has been a busy spring here on the “farm”. I will provide and update on all that has been happening in several posts that will arrive over the next few days. If I try to put it all in one post it would take way too long to write and read! :-)

This post will focus on the kids.

I'll start with Elizabeth's end of the year science project. She decided to incubate duck, turkey and chick eggs in a real incubator. She had to get up in the night and turn eggs, watch the temperature and moisture levels and record her data. She ended up with over 40 turkey's hatching. No, that is not a typo, we had 40 turkey chicks. We sold 9 of them when they were about 2 weeks old. One was crushed during feeding, the door slammed down on the poor little thing. So we still have 30 turkeys that we will be raising for butchering the end of November. We've decided not to do more meat chickens since we will have plenty of turkey for the freezer this winter and our first batch of meat bird raising hasn't gone that great. I'm sure we will give some of the turkeys away but I plant to keep at least 20 for us.

Elizabeth is enjoying working in the garden, helping me make cheese from our goats milk, and learning to make bread. She is a dreamer and says often how she hopes to have her own “farm” someday with a cow (she doesn't like the goat milk), vegetable and fruit gardens, and fruit trees. A girl after my own heart! :-) Of course we've talked about her being open to where ever and whatever God has for her in the future.

The kids have officially finished school and we are doing some occasional journal entries to practice writing and spelling. I'll probably do a summer review book with each of them starting in July. I need to get back into a schedule that will force the kids to read each day too, but until the gardens are all in we have put those things on hold.

Speaking of gardens. The big kids are putting in anywhere from 1 ½ hours to 3 hours a day Monday through Friday in the garden. They are working on earning a Wii Sport & Fit for their '09 – '10 school year. I work with them usually, some days I have to be in the house doing other chores. They have already put in over 150 hours toward their Wii.

Thomas has started on supplements again under the direction of Doctor Brown at the ARCH center. We took him for his first appointment in May where the doctor spent three hours with us helping us start setting some goals for his treatment plan. First on the docket is getting him back on the correct dosages of supplements. Thomas is not very excited about this, however, his health is improving even though we only have introduced about 7 of the 20 he'll eventually be on. The biggest improvement is in his bowels. Thomas usually only poops about 2 times a week. We are almost to the point where he is having a stool once a day. The other improvement is that his sleep is improving. He is falling to sleep a little faster and seems to be resting longer. These are some important first steps toward healing his tummy.

Philip is having some problems with an unexplained swollen gland. With chiropractic treatment it is improving. We tried antibiotics and they didn't effect it. Other than that Philip is spending his days playing in the creek looking for frogs. Usually Nathan is tagging along on the frog hunts.

We have just learned that Nathan has an ear that is completely blocked with wax. We will be trying some home wax removal things, if they don't work I'll have to take him to an Ear specialist to get it removed. Nathan is quite delayed with his speech, he is even worse than Philip was. So after doing some research on our local school we have decided to enroll the younger three in New Holstein Elementary for the fall. They seem to be ready to meet Thomas's needs and they have a GREAT speech pathologist!! I am impressed with the school layout and enjoyed meeting with the principle and CESA Autism Specialist.

As for Samuel and Caleb they are trying to learn how to be diligent workers here on the farm while enjoying many hours of building forts, playing in the creek, climbing trees, riding bikes and much more. Pray for us and them as we try to teach them how to be disciplined diligent young men.

Pray for us as we seek to raise these kids to have a heart for the Lord and others!
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
We've met several of our Amish neighbors over the past few months and are becoming better friends with our closest Amish neighbors. I have had a feeling lately that I am being accepted more into their circle of trust. I think it is because not only do we have a lot of children, but we also have a very large garden, freeze/can our garden produce, and raise a lot of our own meat.

The ladies in the Amish community have been much more talkative with me lately and just yesterday I was invited to shop at their local dry goods store. JACKPOT!! I've been hoping for an invitation to shop at the local Amish store. Today I went “shopping” and was able to buy 2 pounds of pectin for less that $5. The same amount would have been over $50 at WalMart!! They had lots of spices/seasonings for very reasonable prices along with all baking supplies. I had a pleasant conversation with the store owner and found that her husband might have a Jersey Cow for sale. I mentioned it to Phil and am hopeful that we will get an ad in the Wisconsin Farmer soon to sell or Dairy Goats so we can get a Jersey Cow.

I'm enjoying getting to know the folks in the Amish community. Phil and I are praying for opportunities to witness to them. We haven't yet learned if they are Old Order or New Order Amish which could mean the difference between Salvation in Grace alone or works based Salvation.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Today is the day of the birds. When I got up this morning I noticed two of our baby turkeys frantically pacing along the front of their cage. I went out to check on them and found our friend the Great Horned Owl in their pen. It killed 26 of our 28 turkeys. So much for filling the freezer with turkeys this fall!

Phil called the DNR who put him in touch with Wildlife Management. Phil told them that he was not turning it loose again like we did last time. This owl has done too much damage on our farm to just let it go free again. They sent out a game warden who we thought would take it away, but instead, he shot the owl. He told us to contact the USDA to file for damages which we did only to discover that since the Great Horned Owl is only protected and not endangered they are not able to give us any type of compensation for the loss of birds. UGH!

On a happier note we butchered our meat birds this morning with some friends of ours. We did 200 birds in 4 hours. Only 23 of the birds were ours. Tonight I put 12 in the freezer and will package up and freeze the other 11 tomorrow afternoon. We'll be ordering more meat birds in a couple weeks to raise for butchering in September.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Today began Strawberry Jam season. The local Amish are selling wonderful ripe berries. I picked up some today so Elizabeth and I could start making jam. We were able to get 13 pints of Strawberry Rhubarb and 9 ½ pints of Strawberry done when all of a sudden my stove died. AGHH!! Both the stove top and the oven are not working. I checked the fuses in the basement thinking that I had blown a fuse, but they appear to be fine. The clock on my stove still works but none of the burners nor the oven work.

The worst of it is that Phil is out of town. I'm going to try to find a dealer that sells Amana stoves to see if I can get a service guy to take a look at it. I have about 7 gallons of milk that need to be made into cheese in the fridge and more strawberries coming on Thursday and Saturday from our Amish friends. This is NOT a good week for me to be without a stove. Well I cannot think of a week that would be a good one for me not to have a stove, but this one makes life even more challenging!!

UPDATE: Would you believe that the stove was unplugged?? The only portion of the plug that was still in was the part that worked the clock. I'm so thankful that it wasn't a broken stove! We have since canned a total of 66 pints of Strawberry Rhubard and 24 pints of Strawberry. Now we are working on freezing berries whole and crushed. Whole for smoothies and crushed to serve over ice cream and short cake.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
April was a busy month. We finished up our syrup season making just over 6 gallons of syrup. A GREAT first year! That will save us $240 on syrup this year.

We've spent a lot of time working on getting the gardens ready and still have a lot of work to do. You can visit our garden blog to read more about it.

Phil and the kids have been busy mucking out the barn. We welcomed 26 little meat birds mid April. We lost a couple in the first days then 3 more to a rat when we moved them to the barn. So we had to move them into the brooding box in the barn to protect them from our resident Templeton... EWE!!! We hope to have them outside grazing within the next couple weeks so they will have a full month on grass before butchering.

Four of our goats will be kidding any day. Phil is working on getting their new solar powered electric netting up so they can start grazing every day. We tried getting Pinky bread but the boar and his girls didn't like her so we aren't sure if she was actually bread or not since she only made it 5 days with the herd before we had to bring her home. We will butcher her this fall since getting her bread is going to be a challenge each year. We hope to find a few feeder pigs in May to raise for fall butchering too. If she is successfully bread then we will raise her piglets for early spring butchering.

Elizabeth's incubation experiment failed so the pig enjoyed many rotten duck eggs. Elizabeth still wants to incubate so we have borrowed an incubator from a friend and are trying to incubate turkey eggs and more duck eggs. We'll know if any of them were fertile starting May 14th, the date the first tray should be hatching. The kids excitedly told me that we have a chicken that appears to be broody, so they put 6-8 eggs under her. If she stays on them we'll see little chicks peeking out in 21 days. Spring time on the farm is full of fun and new life!

Nathan celebrated his fourth birthday on the 26th. It is hard to believe that my baby is 4 years old already. He was very excited to get a “shoot a bow and arrow” as he calls it for his birthday. The boy seems to always have a gun or bow and arrow in his hand trying to hunt for some exotic animal. :-)

We kicked the cats out of the basement about a week ago and of course I now have mice in my kitchen... YUCK!!!! Speaking of mice I'll end with Thomas's mouse story.

Two weeks ago we got home from church and Thomas saw one of the cats outside. He walked up to it and noticed that it had caught a mouse. He took the mouse..... which was still alive mind you.... away from the cat and brought it inside to show me. He was all excited and wanted to keep the mouse. Of course I bravely yelled for Phil and he guided Thomas outside to free the mouse. Thomas proceeded to talk about the mouse all night saying that he wanted a mouse for a pet. Phil told him he couldn't have a wild mouse but that the pet store had mice. I then said that mice are not ever welcome in this house as pets or not!!! When Phil was tucking Thomas into bed Thomas told Phil and he had KISSED the mouse... EWE!!! I was glad that Thomas hadn't kissed me goodnight!
Saturday, March 21, 2009
This morning we were so excited to wake up to what Laura Ingalls Wilder calls a "sugar snow" in Little House in the Big Woods. We have not gotten much sap this week because of the very warm temperatures then the very cold. On Thursday I cooked down the 18 gallons we had collected during the week. This second cook down went SOOO much faster. We finished the syrup in less than 8 hours that is a HUGE difference compared to the 18 it took us green horns for the first batch.

Today we gathered almost 25 gallons of sap! YEAH!! We will gather again tomorrow then on Monday another home school family is coming over to learn about the syruping process. They are a family from our church who has 4 girls and 1 boy. Their children's ages match up almost perfectly with our kids, and Eliza loves having them over since the girl count is almost equal to the boys when they are here! :-)
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Yesterday was a VERY LONG day. Phil started the fire up at 7 to start cooking down the 20 gallons of sap we had collected on Saturday and Sunday. We learned a LOT our first day.

1.Keep the fire REALLY hot. The faster the boil the better quality syrup and the faster it will be done. Our fire was not hot enough most of the day. I was so nervous about the sap boiling over that I didn't let it boil for most of the day. Finally at about 3 in the afternoon when it was going SOOOO slow I decided to stoke up the fire and found that I could allow the sap to boil nicely and it didn't boil over.
2.Keep the sap on the outside fire until there is only between 1 and 1 ½ gallons of sap left. We brought ours in too early which meant we've spent a lot of time finishing it in the house. So much time that it was midnight last night and we still weren't done. We finally went to bed and I finished it this morning.
3.We should have read more about the process so we would be more confident in what we were doing. While we were trying to finish the syrup inside last night we went online and read a lot. It was helpful to know the areas we need to change before we cook down more sap on Wednesday.
4.Spring is beautiful but the mud is a major magnet to little boys!! At one point yesterday three of the boys were covered in mud from head to toe. Because I couldn't leave the fire to give them baths Elizabeth had to bring out several 3 gallon buckets of warm water for me to get off the first layer of mud. We even had to dunk Philip & Nathan's heads into the water because they had mud pies for hair!
5.NOTHING gets accomplished in the house when I'm having to be out by the fire all day. The kids are ok out there monitoring it for a few minutes, but adult supervision is needed with boiling sap.

This morning when I finished our syrup we ended up with 4 full quarts of syrup. So our first day's ratio was 25 gallons of sap to 1 gallon of syrup. When Phil and I were researching last night we found that the sap to syrup ratio ranges from 20-60 gallons of sap to equal 1 gallon of syrup. From what we read the type of tree tapped along with the weather and sap quality can change throughout the syrup run. So we don't expect to get so much syrup each time even though many of the trees we are tapping are sugar maples. Total time for our first gallon of syrup. 18 hours of cook time. Like I stated above I don't think we had our fire hot enough yesterday. Hopefully next time we'll be able to shave off at least 5 hours from our cook time. That is the goal at least!! :-)

Today I have to take Thomas to Green Bay so we are not cooking down the 10 other gallons we collected yesterday. I hope we will get another 10 more today but with it being so warm, I'll be surprised if we do. I'm thinking that for us it might be a good idea to cook down sap every other day just so we can keep a handle on the house chores and laundry, while the sap run lasts that is. I'm concerned that with the weather being so warm the sap might stop running. The good thing is that many of our trees are in the woods where there is still snow cover and it is cooler. We are even thinking about tapping more of the sugar maples in the woods because we found a couple more taps and we have plenty of buckets. Anyway, further thoughts on cooking it down every other day...... by doing it that we it allows us to do school every other day in order to finish off their workbooks for each subject. We do math while making the sap by talking through how many cups are in pints, quarts, gallons, 5 gallons, etc. and have talked about the science of evaporation too.

Update: We only gathered 6 gallons of sap today. :-( Phil talked with one of our friends that has been sugaring for 7 years and he said this year may be a REALLY bad year. In other words, the run might be almost done because of the warm nights last night and tonight.... how sad!! We are still thankful for the little bit we have been able to make.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Today is my 37th birthday. Yes, I am a woman who just admitted my age! :-) I guess I don't feel 37, except when I'm in the garden all day and can hardly move by the evening. I plan to start walking this week so I can get ready for the heavy garden work this summer. I'm sure hiking in the woods gathering sap each day will help to build some strength too!

We had a lovely day worshiping the Lord this morning at our church First Baptist Church of Kiel. Phil and I are so thankful for the solid Bible teaching and preaching at our church. Our pastor is teaching on the doctrine of man using Ryries Basic Theology book as a guide, and the morning message was from John 9, the first 12 verses. We were reminded that we must not be blind to those around us and miss opportunities to do the work of the Lord. It was a convicting message, especially for a busy mom who is easily distracted by the tasks of a day, and not as sensitive to teachable moments with my kids.

After church we headed for home where I had Venison Stew in the crock pot to be served with the bread I made yesterday. I was surprised when I got home to find out that Phil was taking me out to eat while Elizabeth served the kids stew at home. It is very nice having a child old enough to hold down the fort for a couple hours. Phil and I had a lovely lunch at one of the local restaurants. When we returned home we headed out to check the buckets for sap. It is a beautiful day which made the walk in the wood so pleasant. We gathered a little over 10 gallons of sap today. Which brings our total to a little over 20 gallons of sap. Tomorrow morning I will start to cook down the sap into syrup. If I do it right we should end up with about 2 quarts of syrup.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
I have to post a funny story about two of our children who were trapped in the garden today. Thankfully spring is arriving here in South Eastern Wisconsin which makes for a muddy garden. My youngest two children decided to wander into the garden, I'm not sure why, but they were quickly sucked into the mud! I glanced out my kitchen window to see Nathan (almost 4 years old) trying to take a step. His upper body kept moving while his feet were firmly stuck in the mud. He fell face first and was quite upset. Philip (5 years old) saw his brother in distress and tried using a stick to free his feet. Thankfully, Phil was on his way outside so while I was laughing I asked Phil to go rescue the kids from the garden.. In the meantime the struggle for freedom continued. Philip moved to another part of the garden which caused him to get stuck and step right out of his rubber boot. All the while Nathan was still crying because he couldn't get his feet loose. He'd lean his body forward and spring back because his feet were firmly in the mud. I only wish I would've thought to grab the camera.

The boys came to the house with mud completely covering their rubber boots, the front part of their pants, hands, coats, etc. I only wish the outside hose was thawed so I could've hosed them down before bringing them in for a bath!

I guess my hopes of getting in the garden soon are a little premature... I don't want to get sucked into the mud and I'm quite sure my children wouldn't come to the rescue! :-)
Monday, March 9, 2009
Yesterday, we were hit with another 5 inches of snow just as we were starting to see beautiful dark rich soil in our gardens. I'm thankful for the good moisture but was a bit daunted in my hopes for spring when the forecast showed a cold next two weeks. However, yesterday when I checked the 2 week forecast on it look much more promising.

We've been tossing around the idea of trying to tap trees for maple syrup and had just about given up on the idea when we learned that a friend at church used to tap trees but hasn't for a couple years. He has all the equipment we would need and is willing to let us use it. Phil is going to talk with him tonight to find out if he would like to join us in maple sugaring along with his two boys. Phil and Rob got to hunt together this past fall and they really enjoy each other’s company. It would be a wonderful time of fellowship for the men and boys, plus it would be GREAT to have someone working with us who has made syrup before. If all works out we will start tapping this week since it is supposed to warm up on Saturday and be perfect sugaring weather thereafter.

Elizabeth's little incubating experiment continues. She has 8 duck eggs that she is incubating. We are also collecting goose eggs and will either try to get the goose to sit on them this weekend when it warms up, or we will try to incubate them too. We are going to be drowning in science experiments over the next couple weeks with the incubation and syrup making projects! How fun!

We are starting a new blog. For a while now we've been contemplating doing a gardening blog and have decided to do it. So for those of you who aren't interested in our gardening adventures you won't have to read about it any longer on this blog. If you want to follow along with our garden journey than you'll want to read Gardening In South Central Wisconsin at
Thursday, March 5, 2009
I'm not doing a very good job blogging in this new year. I've composed many blogs in my head that have never made it onto the computer for various reasons. February flew by with a few colds, more dead chickens, and lots of school. We are pushing to complete the majority of our school work by the end of March because we have gardens to plant and fences to put up. Once that is done we will resume "school" by doing a summer review book for each of the kids.

Our chicken flock has gone from 70 to less than 40. Some of the hens have finally started to lay again and we are averaging 10 eggs a day. We've ordered 25 meat birds which will arrive in April and be butchered in July. Twenty five new hens will also be added to the farm in May.

The goats are looking pregnant which is a good sign. They aren't due until the end of April. A couple of them are getting quite large, so they might be carrying triplets.

Elizabeth has decided to try to incubate duck eggs. We will know in a few days if the eggs are fertile or not. She did the research and has a little home made incubator in her room. We had one female and 2 males survive the dog and mink attacks. We hope that the female will eventually get the motherly urge, so if our attempts to incubate fail, we will still have some little ducklings sometime this spring. We have also discovered that we have one goose. A goose egg was found in the barn two days ago. Only time will tell if we have a pair that will mate or two geese.

Phil and I have been researching Maple Sugaring and will tap 12 trees this weekend to start the process of making our own Maple syrup. This year is supposed to be a good year for the sap run, so we hope to make a gallon or two for our first sugaring season. I'm sure it will be quite an adventure!

We are very excited that over the next 15 days 10 are supposed to be at or above 40 degrees. That is perfect maple sugaring weather.... and it will allow all the snow to melt so we can start to clear the upper garden and plan the lower with some early spring food (spinach, peas, lettuce, kale, etc.). I'll be starting many of my garden plants over the next week in the living room.

The boys have been enjoying "hunting" on these warmer days. They dress up with their swords, archery items, and shields, and head out to walk along the creek in hopes of spotting animals. Nathan and Philip love trotting after Sam on these adventures.

Caleb has new glasses and can now see out of both his eyes, PRAISE THE LORD! Samuel will be getting his new glasses next week and I get to have an appointment for contacts next week too! YEAH!! I haven't had contacts since Phil lost his job at NBBC, over 3 years ago. I'm looking forward to getting to wear sunglasses this summer while I work in the garden.

We hope you are all enjoying the coming of spring in your neck of the woods! For me Spring is a reminder of the New Life we have in Christ. It also causes me to be so thankful that God never gives up on me, He forgives me of my sin when I confess it and allows me to start fresh and clean in my efforts to serve and please Him.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
February 6, 2009

Yesterday while sitting in the kitchen I heard Philip screech, “FIRE! Mommy there is a FIRE!” I stood up and looked toward the living room and saw a box of newspapers that had fallen against the wood stove which was in flames. The flames were shooting up a couple feet above the stove. I ran and grabbed the box and shouted to the boys to open the front door. As I was running with the box a clump of flaming papers flew by my head, singing my hair and landed on the hard wood floor. When I exited the front door I threw the box into the snow and ran back into the house to put out the fire by the stove. I beat out all the fire in the house with a cardboard box then went outside to deal with the burning box of papers. There were clumps of fire on the porch against the house and against the railing. I was able to put those out easily, however, the box of papers was burning fiercely and there were several pieces flying off that I had to catch and put out so they wouldn't start a fire somewhere else against the house or in the trees. I shouted for Sam to get me a shovel. With the shovel I was able to throw snow on the fires in the front yard. It probably only took a total of 5-7 minutes for all of this to happen, it was very intense.

I'm so thankful that the kids reacted quickly and obediently to my commands. We had a discussion time when it was all over and I praised the kids for obeying right away and for not trying to handle the fire by themselves. Their quick reactions saved our house, and our potentially our lives. I praise the Lord for the way He gives us strength and the ability to handle emergencies.

So, how did the fire start? We keep a box of newspapers and kindling in the corner by the door in the living room. When I started the fire in the morning I had set the box on the wood pile instead of in the corner. It was a safe distance from the fire, or so I thought. Nathan and Philip had decided to unplug the extension cord for the cordless phone and start swinging it. In their swinging of the chord it pushed the box onto the stove. I had just told them to stop and plug in the phone when the box ignited. It was a good lesson for the kids about how careful they need to be around the wood stove.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Today we found 5 chickens dead upon entering the barn. We thought another dog had gotten in, you see a few weeks ago we lost 8 chickens and 2 ducks to the neighbors dog. They then got sick because of getting overly stressed due to the dog attack and we lost another 9 chickens. Well, today's chickens were peculiar because they had bite marks on the back of the neck. We were also missing another duck. I thought that we had a fox or raccoon that had found their way into the chicken pen. The boys went out to clean up the mess and saw a “creature” sniffing at the door of the rabbit pen. They threw a bucket at it, which caused a hiss from the animal and it scurried away. By their first description I thought the animal might have been a muskrat, but then they told me it had a long furry tail. We looked up a mink in our encyclopedia and both the boys confirmed that that was what they saw in the barn.

Discovering a varmint solved another puzzle that presented itself this past Sunday. Sunday morning while doing chores Elizabeth found a barrel that had 17 eggs. All the eggs were frozen, most were cracked and ended up being partially empty when I thawed them. Some of the eggs were cracked in half with exposed frozen egg. Phil thought maybe the chickens were so shook up after the dog incident that they were laying eggs while perched on the barrel. I didn't think that would happen. We've asked a couple locals if a mink would steel eggs, and all have said YES! I guess eggs are a favorite of theirs. Our friend had mink killing his chickens through chicken wire. It would reach through the wire and grab the birds by the neck and kill them but not be able to get them out to eat them.

Our plan is to trap and kill the mink. Thankfully one of our friends has a live trap we are using for tonight. Tomorrow Phil is going to stop at the mink farm that is about 2 miles from here and see if they have any traps and if they'd want the mink (maybe even pay for them) once we catch them. If we are successful you just might notice a lovely mink collar on my coat! :-)

Oh by the way. On a very sad note. We started the winter with 70 chickens and 6 ducks along with our geese and turkeys. One of the geese is still healing from the dog attack, the turkeys are safe and getting nice and big. However, we only have about 40 chickens left and 3 ducks. SOOOOO sad!!
I have to tell another story about a conversation that I had with Philip today. This afternoon we went to our Chiropractor. While I was getting adjusted I told Sam to remind me to talk with our friend Mr. Turba about getting Pinky bread to his boar. Our plans were to stop by the Turba's on the way home from town. As we were driving there, Philip, who overheard our conversation said to me, “Mommy, we already ate Stinky Bread and it was good!!” I told him that we ate Stinky ham, pork chops, and sausage but that there wasn't such a thing as “Stinky Bread”. I then explained to him that when we say we are going to get Pinky bread it means that we are going to let Pinky be a mommy. Then he asked me if baby pigs like to eat pig slop. I told him that they only have their mommy pigs milk at first but that they would eventually like pig slop. He said, “Oh, so they get sweet goat milk when they are babies.” I had to try to explain to him that Pinky would have a special piggy milk when the pigs were born and the baby pigs would really like it! He finally seemed satisfied and stopped asking questions. Nothing like teaching the birds and the bees pig style to a 5 year old!
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
It has been such a blessing to read your comments. Blogging is a fun way of journaling our family happenings and my little hobbies. I'm glad that others enjoy keeping up with our family by reading my entries.

Today I spent the afternoon traveling with Thomas to his bi-monthly Therapy review. I am so thankful that Thomas has been able to receive the Wisconsin Autism Waiver which pays for 35 hours a week of in home one on one therapy. If we had to pay out of pocket for these services it would run us $40,000 - $70,000 per year. God is good!

Thomas has made significant progress in his first two years on the program. Some of his big area's of improvement are: language, social interaction, basic learning skills, reading, writing, emotions, and compliance. He has gone from a 18 month old rating in most of these areas to a 3 1/2 - 5 year old level as of March 2008. I'm guessing that this year he will be between a 5-6 yr old in all areas. Thomas will be 8 in May so he is still behind his peers but he is really improving. Thomas has a lot of "quirks" that are unique to him and the autism disability, but even these have decreased.

The other day Phil and I were at WalMart and I purposely went to the checkout line of a "handicapped" clerk. She is usually very chatty, yet as a mother of a child who is challenged it is very evident to me that she is not what most people would call, "normal". I shared with Phil afterwards that I enjoy going to her isle when I'm at WalMart and talking with her. The average consumer would be irritated with her conversation. I look at her and smile thinking that it would be such a blessing if my Thomas were able to have a job some day. It would be such a blessing if others would accept Thomas for who he is now and when he is grown. It would be a blessing to see him independent and caring for himself. I know that the many hours that Thomas' therapists spend with him weekly are helping him to grow and develop into a functional person.

So, why is Thomas at the forefront of my thoughts today? Well, besides spending 3+ hours alone with him today, I learned that some things with his program might be changing. Pray with us that the transitions will go well and that Thomas will thrive in spite of them. I am still hopeful that they won't make the changes that they are contemplating, but it seems after today that they are inevitable and it is just a matter of time until they occur.

I'll end this blog with a funny scene from our shopping excursion today. Thomas and I went to Woodmans, a large reasonable priced grocery store in Green Bay, before his appointment. I needed to buy honey and while I was trying to compare prices he was trying to stop EVERYONE, quoting lines from the "Bee Movie". He was shouting and grabbing at people quoting the lines from the movie when the bee sees all the honey for sale at the grocery store and is outraged. As I was trying to shush him, I laughed and realized.... who cares what people think! At least he was quoting the movie at an appropriate time and place! :-) If there had been children down the isle they probably would've recognized that he was quoting a movie and smiled at his actions. Adults however, roll their eyes and glare and this mom who cannot handle her "bratty child." Oh well......
Monday, February 2, 2009
February 1, 2009

It has been a couple months since my last post. I'm just curious..... did you miss me? I've often wondered how many friends and family members actually read my blog. If you've missed hearing about our family adventures leave a comment or email me and let me know.

There are many things that need some updating but I thought I'd start the year with some praises.

1.We found out this past week that I do not have a chronic blood clot in my leg any more. We have been praying that the Lord would do a miracle and allow both clots to dissolve and Praise the Lord He chose to heal my leg and remove both clots. I will no longer need to be on rat poison and according to the blood labs I do not have the genetic tendency for clotting. We praise the Lord for these specific answers to prayer!
2.We have a new dog. Some friends of ours needed to find a new home for their year old Great Dane, Nina. Phil and the boys met Nina and we decided to adopt her. She is very BIG and very mild mannered. The previous owners did a WONDERFUL job training her. She is starting to enjoy our family and show signs of settling in. She is black with a little white patch on her chest. Her back is about up to my hips. She looks like a black lab on stilts! :-)
3.We successfully butchered Stinky with the help of some friends just after Christmas. We've been enjoying pork chops, sausage, and ham. When the slicer comes in we will be able to slice the bacon. Our summer sausage is sitting in the freezer for 30 days to make sure all possible bacteria is dead.
4.We are all in good health.
5.School is going well. Elizabeth has become quite independent and usually gets her schoolwork done very quickly, which allows her to fill her “extra” time with reading and art. Caleb is needing some extra challenging, and Samuel is plugging along. Philip is wanting to learn to read and write. Thomas is doing great with his sight words and short vowel phonics words. He will start journaling this week. We are thankful that he is in his third year of ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy. He receives 30-35 hours of one on one instruction from his therapists. Nathan enjoys coloring and cuddling up to Nina.
6.Phil is enjoying his work with Dynamic Campus Solutions. We are thankful that for the time his job is not in any danger of cut backs or lay-offs. I got to meet his co-workers at his companies Christmas party which was held at the Whistling Straights Golf Course Clubhouse. The PGA Championship tournament will be held at this course in 2010, 2015, & 2020.
7.Spring is coming! Yes, I can feel it in my bones! :-) The seeds for the garden have been ordered, potatoes will be ordered in March, and I am anxiously waiting for the snow to soak into the earth so we can begin working on this years planting.
I'll end this post with another of Philip's funny moments. Philip is starting to show more interest in spiritual things. The other night he was having a talk with Phil about Heaven, sin, and hell. He was very curious about why when people are naughty they have to go to the “hotel”. The poor boy must have his ears clogged again... he mistook the word hell for hotel. Out of the mouths of babes! :-) We are so thankful that God's word says, “Suffer the little children to come unto me....” This is our prayer for each of our children that they will come to know the Lord personally and choose to serve Him with their lives.