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, 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!