Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Snapshots from the Garden

With hot, sunny days intermixed with days of rain, the garden has been growing and growing . . . all 3,600 plus square feet of it with either vegetables or weeds :) . . .

Part of the vegetable garden (I love how it looks after a rain.)

The above photo was taken a week or so ago, and the garden has changed quite a bit since then. Including a lot more weeds!

The same view of the garden a few weeks later (the other section of the garden is in the back to the left behind the flower gardens.)

I have had hardly any time to weed this year, and have had to come to the point that weeds are okay to have in the garden. :) I am afraid that I am one who really likes the look of beautiful gardens and enjoys keeping them well-weeded and cultivated. But . . . this year, that isn't going to happen (at least at this point.) At first, it was discouraging seeing all the weeds and not having things look as 'nice' as I would like them to. But then I have to ask myself, does it really matter? Not really! As long as the weeds aren't to the point of interfering significantly with the vegetable production, then, they're fine! Though, I do have to remind myself of that from time to time. :)

Besides the weeds, this year has also been much more of a challenge as with the very wet, humid conditions, the fungus problems have been significant. Our tomatoes were hit pretty hard, and I have been pulling the badly diseased plants and it looks like we only have about eight plants that are still looking all right. The onion crop, however, was completely
lost due to fungus . . .

The onions had been doing quite well, and were starting to bulb up so it was disappointing to see them end up like this. But at least the green onions are stilling look good so far!

In addition to the fungus, we have also had significant problems with deer. And all of our 'normal' scare tactics are not working as the deer are just too tame this year. We had planted two large bean crops as I grow beans for others (one hundred and fifty plus pounds) and then we have all of our beans, too. But the deer have eaten the bean plants so much that our crop looks like it is going to be quite small this year. We'll be doing well, I think, to get enough to put up for our family, but again, some is better than none!

Aside from the tomatoes, onions and beans, though, the rest of the garden seems to be doing very well, and especially all of the vine crops. They look great! I have been harvesting zucchini and yellow squash quite a bit lately which means we've been able to enjoy some of our favorite summer dishes . . . squash casseroles!

A growing yellow squash

Another positive this year is that we have a lot more honeybees around. Last year, I had to hand pollinate for several weeks at the beginning of the season, and this year, I haven't had to do much hand pollinating at all as the bees are taking care of it! It brought a smile to my face yesterday morning as I was out harvesting squash and there were so many bees buzzing around from flower to flower that the air was full with a constant 'hum' from them.


Cucumber vines

The cucumbers have been well pollinated, too . . . it won't be long before we can have cucumber salad again!

The carrot bed . . . sadly, it doesn't look quite as nice now as the deer liked the carrots, too. :)

Yes! There's some green beans growing!

And some tomatoes, too . . . maybe there will even be enough to do some canning! I hope so!

This isn't really consistent with the vegetable garden post, but one of the flower gardens is right by the vegetable garden, and when seeing this bee on the coneflowers, I had to take some photos.

And with a growing and producing garden, it means it's time for the preserving of that produce which is one of my favorite parts! I have been drying herbs, Leah and I snapped our first green beans of the year yesterday, and I am planning to put up beets today . . . what a fun time of year this is!

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Scenic Drive

The drive out to Ryan's place is always enjoyable as the scenery is so beautiful . . . there's nothing like the country, that's for sure!

Grazing Holstein cows

This isn't a very good photo, but it gives an idea of some of the flooding that we have had around here lately. We have had so much rain the past several months, and it is rare to have a few days go by without having a storm go through! And all the water sitting around is proof of that.
A country highway winding it's way out of the hills and down into the Missouri River bottoms

Down in the river bottoms . . . I love the look of the lush, green, growing corn against the hills! Then add in the picturesque old grain elevator, and it is a treat for the eyes to enjoy. This is one of the few fields that is actually growing well down in the bottoms as many of the fields were either flooded out, were never able to be planted due to how wet it has been, or have standing water in them now.

Beautiful farm fields

An overflowing creek (which is normally much smaller than this!)

One day, after spending time out at the house working, Dad gave Leah and I the treat of taking a different route home . . . and one that we had never been on before. The scenery was so beautiful and there were also so many old barns and farmhouses! It was definitely an enjoyable and fun drive home . . .

A lush green pasture off of one of the country highways we drove on

A big old barn

I just love these views!

One of my favorites of the barns we saw

A flooded soybean field - it's always sad to see fields like this!

Would you believe that this isn't really a lake, but is normally a farmer's field?
Another old barn

Driving through the countryside is something I enjoy doing, and then when it is done with two of my favorite people, it's even more enjoyable! Thank you Dad and Leah for the great time!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A House Update

How busy we have been out at Ryan's place! (And this will be continuing over the few remaining weeks before the wedding. :) After days and days spent out there (and a great many late nights for Ryan) so much has been able to be accomplished out there the past weeks. It has been a great blessing to be able to work on this project together over the past year, and we have had such special, wonderful and fun times together! I am so glad and thankful that we had the opportunity to build this house together! And as mentioned, here are a few more photos of how we got to the point of the last house post . . .

Daddy sanding down the ridges on the floor while Leah vacuums up the sawdust

Ryan working on the plumbing for the bathtub

Dad, Mr. M. and Ryan unloading concrete steps that Mr. M. gave to Ryan (and what a blessing they are!)

The primer :) We used a lot of this!!!

Music while we work . . . on the days when Dad, Leah and I go out and work together, we bring along the CD player. :)

Dad sawing the flooring

Putting down the flooring was an interesting adventure at first! It is a laminate flooring (which is what we put in our dining room and kitchen, too) in which the pieces are supposed to 'snap' together . . . only these pieces didn't want to work that way. :) Once we figured out how to work around the 'quirks' of the flooring, things went very smoothly. Dad, Leah and I had a great time together putting down the flooring in the living room and kitchen, and it was exciting to see how quickly the room changed in appearance as the flooring went down!

Break time!

Yesterday found us three once again laying flooring (and we're doing more of it again today :) only this time it was in the bathroom. And if we thought that the living room flooring was difficult at first, the bathroom was even more so! It needed a special glue adhesive put on the 'tongue' of each flooring piece before snapping them together, but with the glue on, it was much more difficult to get the pieces together . . . but once again, we ended up being smarter than the flooring and now the bathroom is all finished! All that is left for us to do for flooring is a tiny part in the kitchen, the pantry, and then the big bedroom. And those will seem easy to do after the bathroom!

Measuring for the angle cut to go around the pantry

And . . . that's all folks! As the house is now at the point of the more personal touches of Ryan and Ashley and is in the finishing stages, this will be the last house post that I'll be posting as then the excitement of sharing *their* house will be theirs if/when they would like to share someday. :) It has been so fun putting these posts together and sharing them with you all, and I hope you have enjoyed the glimpses into this very special family project!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Praising the Lord

Once again, thank you all so much for your prayers for my Mom!! We so greatly appreciated them! And Mom especially . . . it meant a lot to her that even though you all don't even know her, that you are praying. And the Lord answered those prayers! Yet in a bit of a different way . . .

Mom went in for a checkup a few days after the cortisone shot to see if, and how much, improvement she had had from it. While it had slightly lessened the pain, there was very little improvement and she still couldn't lie down. So she was referred to a Neurosurgeon who amazingly, got her in for an appointment the very next day. After looking at everything, he recommended surgery, and soon. Not only did she have the severely herniated disc (and it was bulging significantly on both sides), but she had also been losing strength in her left arm as well as the feeling in her thumb (which began spreading to her other fingers as well.) If allowed to continue like this for very long, the damage can be permanent, and as she was losing strength quickly, the sooner she could have surgery, the better. Again, the Lord opened the doors for Mom to get in for surgery only two days after the appointment with the neurosurgeon! And only three days after first being referred to him. This in and of itself was a great answer to prayer!
So this week, Mom had surgery on her neck, and it went very well. It turns out that not only did she have the severely herniated disc, but she also had fragments from the disc in her neck as well as bone spurs. No wonder she was having so much pain! After spending a day and a night at the hospital, Mom is now at home recovering. Though, it hardly seems like recovery as she is already feel so much better than what she did before surgery. And she is already regaining strength in her arm! The doctor had said that she may not regain any of it, or she may regain some, or it could, over time, return to normal. Needless to say, we are quite thrilled that she is already improving so rapidly! Again, another answer to prayer. God has been so good through this, and you all have been such a blessing. Thank you again so very much for the prayers and concern!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Morning Walk

The other morning after weeding in the garden for a bit, I grabbed my camera and enjoyed a very pleasant walk around our place. What a delight all the sights, sounds, and smells were! Hearing the many birds singing around me, watching the wind blow through the pasture grasses, seeing the dragonflies flit around and alight on twigs and seed heads, smelling the pleasant smell of blooming flowers and all the other scents of this time of year . . . what a time of refreshment it was for me and more than once I could not help but break into a happy smile when seeing or hearing different things!

Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy pow'r throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

When thru the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze.

Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in,
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, my God how great Thou art!

Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

"O may Your glorious name be blessed and exalted above all blessing and praise! You alone are the LORD. You have made the heavens, the heaven of the heavens with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is on them. You give life to all of them and the heavenly host bows down before You. You are the Lord God . . . " Nehemiah 9:5b-7a

The photos:
1 - The pasture in the process of being hayed
2 - One of the many dragonflies we have around here
3 - The chickens enjoying free-ranging
4 - A Summer Tanager
5 - A honeybee on one of Leah's Asiatic Lilies
6-9 - More of Leah's Asiatic Lilies

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A First!

It has been a little over one year since we first planted our little blueberry bushes, and it was exciting to see them flower earlier this spring and then to have blueberries begin growing on them. And this week, we had our first 'harvest'! (if it could be called that! :)

Since picking these first few ones, I have been picking a few here and there as they ripen and then am putting them in the freezer. I am hoping that by the time they are all ripe that there will be enough to make a blueberry cobbler with them, though if there isn't enough for that, we have plenty of other ways to use them! It will be exciting to use and bake with fruit that we have grown ourselves!

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Sneak Peak . . .

. . . at the progress being made out on Ryan and Ashley's house!

The living room after the flooring was put in

Looking toward the kitchen from the front door

What very full and fun days we have been having lately! Most days (other than Sunday that is :) have looked much like this for me:

~Get up fairly early in the morning and weed in the vegetable garden until Dad and Leah are ready to head out to Ryan's place

~Spend most of the day out at the house doing things such as priming, cleaning, and laying flooring (with the latter being our main focus)

~Come home and do whatever housework needs to be done

~Make dinner, do dishes, and take care of the animals

~Spend a little time in the garden again weeding (I am finally beginning to catch up on it all!)

~ And then enjoy a nice, pleasant, and relaxing evening together :)

So far it looks like this week may be much the same, and hopefully, a longer house update post will be coming soon!


I also wanted to mention . . . thank you all so much for your prayers for my Mom and for the kind notes that you have left!! They were/are very much appreciated!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Month from Today . . .

. . . Ryan and Ashley will be united in marriage . . .

. . . and how very excited we all are getting as we see the days and weeks quickly pass by!!!

(And for the record, they are counting down the days. :)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

An Interesting Week

This week has been a bit of a different one here for us as last week, my Mom began to have severe pain in her neck/shoulder which has been so bad, she can't even lie down. After a bunch of doctor appointments this week, the cause was found to be a bulging disc in her neck (and according to the doctor, a rather large bulge), so she went for a cortisone shot today which should start to bring relief in the next few days which is what we are hoping for! Once this time period is up, she'll begin physical therapy which she'll have for about a month.

So, we've been busy working around home and keeping up with everything while Mom rests (she can't really use her left arm much at all.) And between laundry, dishes, house cleaning, working in the garden, and all the other regular day to day things, I have been able to do quite a bit of sewing for the wedding, too . . .

Me hand-sewing up the hem of my dress (and just so you know, the 'brighter' pink is the lining. :)

Along the way there have been some 'roadblocks' so to speak with the bridesmaids dresses, thus making the sewing process a bit longer than what we had anticipated, but now . . . my dress is finished! It was quite exciting to put in the last few stitches and then be able to try the dress on! :)

A few weeks ago, I was also able to finish my Mom's outfit, and then Leah and I have made good progress on her dress as well. And with already having figured out and completed my dress, Leah's dress has been much easier to make! So far, Leah has been working on the skirt of her dress and I the bodice, and we're just about done with those. Once they're completed, then we can sew the two 'parts' together and finish the dress! It has been a lot of fun working in the sewing room
together. . . put in some of our favorite Southern Gospel music (lately we've been listening to some older CD's of The Booth Brothers), and then sew, sew, sew!

Leah grooming Mandy on a recent sunny day

And because of all that has been going on with Mom, we (besides Ryan, that is) haven't been able to do as much work out at Ryan's place as we had hoped, but if all continues as we have planned right now, tomorrow should find Dad, Leah and I spending the day out there working . . . that should be lots of fun!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Workin' in the Garden

Finally on one of our afternoons with the girls, the sun decided to stay out and there was no rain! So we found ourselves out in the garden planting pepper plants and yellow squash, zucchini and cucumber seeds and cultivating as well. Despite how warm it was, we had such a fun time together and the girls had a blast! For the most part, they really enjoy working in the garden (except for maybe when it's weeding time :), and it was fun seeing their smiles and their satisfaction when the work was completed . . .

Cultivating between the bean rows - she really enjoys this and did a great job!

Leah passing out the seeds that the girls were going to plant

Leah helping the youngest one plant yellow squash seeds

Planting a pepper plant

Dig a hole, put in the seed, cover with dirt . . . and then wait for it to grow!

Digging a hole for her pepper plant

Once everything was planted, we gathered up our tools and seed packets and headed inside where we enjoyed some refreshments and visiting before gathering in the living room so that the girls could write in their journals . . .

Once they were finished with that, we had our lesson for the day which was on "virtuous." I wish that I could remember all that we talked about, but the below should give an idea of what all took place during the teaching and discussion time . . .

First we read and discussed this verse from Proverbs . . .

Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.” Proverbs 31:10 (KJV)

According to Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, “Virtuous” is:

~morally good; being in conformity to the moral or divine law (i.e. Scripture)~

Virtuous basically means to contain all (or aspects of) the virtues . . . or, scripturally, all of the character attributes that God desires us to have. We brainstormed together a list of virtues that we have learned about in the past years and came up with these:

--Keeper at Home
--Gentle and Quiet Spirit

We could have kept going (as there are so many more attributes and important aspects of character that God desires us to have!), but this list gave the girls an idea of what 'virtues' are, and thus, what 'virtuous' is. We then asked the girls to picture each one of these attributes as a ruby. The more that you add into the basket, the greater value there is. The larger the ruby is, the greater its value as well. So in essence, the more we cultivate and seek after a heart that walks in obedience to the Lord and His word, the more virtuous we will become . . . which then leads to being of a price "far above rubies."

We then read a few more verses that speak of being 'virtuous' . . .

"Now, my daughter, do not fear, I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence [virtue].” Ruth 3:11

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence [virtue], and in your moral excellence knowledge . . .” (1 Peter 1:5)

After discussing the above verses, we ended our lesson time with encouraging the girls to strive after being virtuous, to seek to grow in all of these areas that we have been learning about, and above all else, to do so out of a love for the Lord and His Word.

After we had finished with the lesson, we reviewed our memory verses and then played a game together . . .

For a fun way to review, the girls each chose something that we have done or learned about in girls group, and then either acted it out, drew it on the board, or had the other girls ask 'yes or no' questions until they guessed what it was. This is always fun for the girls, and we had such a great time together before it was time to say our goodbyes!

*This will be the last girls group post for awhile as we are taking a little break from it (and from teaching sewing lessons, too) until sometime after the wedding (likely August) . . . we will miss the girls during this time, but are already looking forward to when we can get together again! :)*