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, 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!