Monday, October 31, 2011

Little Bundles of Cuteness

Our newest litter of baby rabbits are at the most adorable stage right now! They opened up their eyes last week and are now jumping in and out of the nestbox, starting to nibble on pellets, and they really like eating hay. So each time I take care of the rabbits, I have to spend at least a little extra time petting all the little cuties . . .

Asleep in Leah's hands

Opening its eyes for just a moment

And all of them snuggled down together in the nest box

It has been so fun to be raising rabbits again! I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it . . . and hopefully I'll remember that once we're in the middle of winter and are needing to thaw out their waterers 3+ times a day! :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Day with Little Friends

This past Tuesday, a friend of ours' children came and spent the day with us which was so enjoyable. We love these children so much! It was a delightful day spent partly indoors and partly outdoors . . . from watching their science video for school (by Dr. David Menton on the skin - it was very interesting) while Leah and I cross-stitched, to the little girls helping hang out the laundry and bring it back in once it was dry (which they really enjoyed! Especially with how windy it was - they thought it was funny how much the clothes were whipping around), visiting together, reading, doing puzzles, and much more . . . .

The legos are always a much enjoyed thing for them to play with!

We heard some beautiful piano music! And then I played a duet with her, and then Leah, she and I played a song all together which was fun. Leah also found our old duet book that we played out of together when we were little, so Leah and her are working on learning one of the duets in it.

While Leah was working on her cross-stitch, one of the little girls asked if she could do some - so Leah helped her, and this sweet girl did a great job with it. (And I'll need to get a photo of Leah's cross-stitch to share here - it is beautiful!)

And of course, a visit to our place is never complete without spending some time with the animals! Our first time going out we visited, Dixie, Danny and Chevy and the children got to watch as we gave oral de-wormer to the little guys (which is part of the routine care of goats.) Their first 'veterinary' lesson! :) Then we went and saw the chickens (which the children are gradually overcoming their fear of) and the baby rabbits (and I have photos to share sometime of those, too! They are at their really cute stage right now.) And of course, a highlight for the children is always petting Lassie and brushing her . . . .

Lassie loves it. :)

Getting ready to go into the chicken pen . . . the little girl in the red shirt was so afraid of them and didn't want to go in, but she overcame her fear and did! She stuck close beside me the whole time holding tight to my hand, but she went in! And she had the reward of seeing and petting the baby bunnies then, too, since going through the chicken pen is how we get to their pens.

Later in the day, we went and visited Sadie and Chloe, and this time all of the children went in! At first, the goats weren't quite sure what to think of all the children in their pen, but they did let some of the children come up and pet them.

All in all, it was a wonderful day, and I am so thankful that the Lord has blessed us with knowing such dear children as these ones!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

One Reason Why I love Homesteading . . .

. . . moments like this . . .

~ A beautiful, peaceful fall evening feeding the goats their grain while the setting sun lighted up the trees and pasture with the warm glow of its rays. ~

Overlooking our neighbor's pasture

Monday, October 24, 2011

Homemade Toothpaste

There are so many different things that I would like to try to make and/or learn how to do someday . . . and little by little, my experience is gradually expanding and so many new things have been learned or done over the years: growing and drying herbs, canning and preserving produce, baking with whole wheat, making our own laundry soap, raising animals, quilting, crocheting, and more. And now something new has been added:

~ making toothpaste ~

As soon as I saw the recipe for it on this lovely blog, I knew I wanted to give it a try. And it was so simple, I don't know why I haven't tried this before!

We don't have any coconut oil, which the recipe called for, so I was planning to get some, but when I mentioned to Ashley that I was going to try this recipe, she quickly offered to give me the needed 4 Tbsp. from what she had. (Thank you so much, Ashley!) I also needed an essential oil so a
trip to the new organic grocery in town was made by Leah and I last week (and what a great store! We will definitely be returning.)

The ingredients were mixed up and the 'concoction' tried. I had prepared myself for how different it was going to taste from what I am used to and had determined that no matter what, I was going to use it. I will admit that the taste was . . . not the greatest. But I do like the toothpaste. A lot. It left my mo
uth feeling so nice, fresh and clean! And what's more, I know what the ingredients in it are and that they are all safe.

Homemade Toothpaste
Makes 4 ounces

4 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
5 Tablespoons Baking Soda
8-10 drops 100% essential oil
(I used spearmint oil and after trying the recipe, added about 5-7 more drops than what the original recipe called for. I was fine with using it as it was, but other members of my family appreciated just a little bit more. :)

Mix all ingredients together well and that's it!


Another great plus was discovered after using the toothpaste just a few times . . . it whitens teeth! After just the second use, I noticed a difference. So with the trial run successfully finished, this toothpaste will definitely be regularly used now!

Linking up to the "Homestead Barn Hop"

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Coming Frost

A hard freeze in the forecast prompted a bit of outdoor activity early this week . . . Dad and I covered over our green bean rows, Mom harvested all of the remaining tomatoes and peppers from the plants (and pulled out all of the plants as well and cleaned up that part of the garden), Dad harvested the last of the hot peppers, and then we did just general work outdoors as well.

About half of the tomatoes . . . and we enjoyed some of them for dinner last evening. Delicious!

Sweet bell peppers that Mom later chopped and put up in the freezer

I also had been running all of the herbs that I had air dried through the dehydrator for a bit to finish the drying process on them. The basil is all finished now, and I just finished the parsley Thursday. There is still a lot
of parsley out in the garden, but I think we have enough to last us for the year so I am not sure if I am going to harvest and dry any more or not. We shall see. :)

Dried and crumbled basil - ready to be stored in a jar in the spice cupboard

I also removed the seeds from the dill heads that had been harvested and dried earlier and put those away to be used for next year. The cucumber seeds that were saved were also sorted and then packed up for next year. It was fun to do a bit of seed-saving this year, and I hope to do more next gardening season!

Dill seeds

Little by little the gardening season is winding down and the garden is being put to bed until next year . . . we still are hoping to harvest more green beans and then lettuce and spinach as well (and the mangel beets will be mulched over to be used as animal feed through the winter), but other than that, the garden is finished now. One season ending and another well under way . . . the wonderful season of fall. It has really felt like fall here this past week with cloudy dreary skies, blustery winds, and temperatures in the 40's and 50's. It made evenings curled up on the couch with an afghan and my cross-stitch especially pleasant! (Though, the 70's of today and for the next couple of days are a very nice change. :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Someone's Another Year Older . . .

The happiest of birthdays to you, Ryan! (This is your first one as a Daddy! :) I am so thankful that you are my brother and so glad that you are a part of our family! I was just thinking today of some of the fun times we used to have together as kids . . . building forts, exploring in the woods, playing our own invented tracking game, doing school together, all the laughter during dishes time and some *ahem* interesting 'debates' about whose turn it was to wash the dishes. :) (Remember those?) Ah, what special and fun memories!

I hope you had a very special day, and in this next year of your life, may the Lord guide and direct your steps in Him as you seek to walk in His ways!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Great Frugal Find . . .

. . . is a bunch of boxes of canning lids that were on the clearance rack at a very reduced price at our local TSC (Tractor Supply Company) store . . .

I was quite glad to find these, and now we should be all set for canning season next year!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Our Weekend Adventure

A new experience took place for us this past weekend! With an open few weeks, Daddy decided we would focus our efforts on putting in and finishing the larger goat pen that we had been working on. But since it has been so dry here with only a few rain showers here and there since sometime in June (and those didn't even dampen the ground underneath the trees), the ground is about like concrete and there is NO way a regular post-hole digger would get through it.

So, we rented a two-man gas-powered post hole digger for a weekend. Dad ran one side of it, and then Mom and Leah took the other side. Since my shoulder is still healing, I did the light work of being the gofer and running and getting the things they needed, etc. Even with the machine, it was very difficult to make the post holes as the ground was just so hard. Plus, running that machine was very tiring and hard . . . but they did a great job and persevered!

"Are you ready?"

A hole in progress . . . they had to keep lifting it up and putting it back down over and over until the hole was deep enough. And with a machine that weighs around 150 pounds, it was very tiring!

Still smiling after drilling quite a few holes

Partway through the afternoon, Ryan and Ashley stopped by to pick up the flat bed trailer, and then Ryan helped do several post holes while Mom and Leah took a break and we ladies and Adelyn enjoyed time together . . .

Leah and Ashley with Mom and Adelyn in the background

Mom and Adelyn enjoying some time together

Almost done with another hole!

Meanwhile the goats relaxed in the shade, little knowing all of the effort that we were going through for them! Speaking of the goats, Leah and I had been trying to come up with suitable names for them and so far, hadn't. So Leah asked Ashley if she had any ideas and after just a bit of thought, she suggested "Chloe" and "Sadie." Those names fit perfectly! (Thanks, Ashley! :) So Chloe is the oldest one with the white blaze on her face, and Sadie is the one with the entirely brown face.

After Dad and Ryan had done three holes, Ryan and Ashley were needing to head for home, but before that, they wanted to weigh Adelyn on the scale (which is Ryan's actually, but he's been letting us use it for putting up produce, meat, etc.) We set our big roaster pan on the scale and then nestled Adelyn inside of it . . . she made quite the picture! And rather enjoyed it until it was time to be lifted out . . .

Isn't she cute?!

After they left, it was back to wrangling the machine for Dad, Mom and Leah . . . after using it, they described it as feeling kind of like what they would think riding a bull would be. :) That thing bucks and jerks and is overall hard to manage. And I have to say, as the watcher, it made me a little nervous observing the process!

All the way down . . . another hole finally finished! The ones along the pasture fenceline were especially difficult as the ground was so hard and there were so many roots.

Taking a little break before the next hole

Me - the photographer, gofer, and moral support

Saturday came to a close with over half of the holes dug, and three very tired people. But it was a happy tired as we were all pleased with the progress! Sunday, our gathering with brothers and sisters in the Lord was at our home, and we enjoyed a wonderful morning of teaching and fellowship and an afternoon meal, and then Mr. W. and Ryan went and helped Dad do the rest of the holes! It was so thoughtful of them, and it really was a blessing to us.

Meanwhile, we ladies enjoyed visiting together and Leah and I spent a lot of time with the children as well with showing them all of the animals, letting them go into the pens and pet the goats, taking out the rabbit's nestbox so they could see the babies (and to show the mothers as well), and they even got to help some with the fence! As the day neared its close, the ten year old girl told Leah that she hopes she can live on a farm someday. :) I am so glad that they enjoy it so much and that we are able to share what we are blessed with with them!

Finally, the last hole was dug - a total of 17 - and the tired, hot, and sore workers came in for a break before calling it a day and heading for home. Goodbyes were said all around, and our hearts were full with thankfulness for the kindness of our friends! We couldn't have done it without them.

And now with the holes all dug and the machine returned . . . it was time to clear out all of the loose dirt from the holes (they were each about half-filled) which Mom, Leah and I have been working on. It takes quite a long time to do, but we only have 6 left now! Our work was delayed a bit, though, as yesterday it rained! Yes, real rain! Not just a brief shower, but a rain that lasted for hours, and then began again at night and lasted some of the nighttime hours. How thankful we are for it!!! And since the ground was so dry and hard, the holes weren't damaged by the rain at all (in fact, they're still dry inside.)

So putting up fence will be filling our days for the next little while. It will be so nice to have it finished, and hopefully the process will go quickly and smoothly!

Monday, October 17, 2011

'Tis Soup Season

With colder weather and chilly winds, it's that time of year when soups are beginning to find their way back onto the menu again . . .

One of our many favorites - Potato Soup - and the recipe can be found here

And they're even better when accompanied with some kind of homemade bread such as Leah's whole wheat muffins that she made to go with the above soup the other evening . . .

A perfect fall dinner!

And if anyone would like the recipe for the muffins, here it is:

Whole Wheat Muffins (adapted from Mom's 4-H muffin recipe :)

-2 cups whole wheat flour
-3 tsp. baking powder
-1/4 cup sugar
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1 egg
-1 cup milk
-1/4 cup oil

Grease muffin pan. Mix dry ingredients together. In another bowl, beat egg slightly. Add milk and oil. Combine dry and liquid ingredients and stir slightly – just until they are mixed adequately. Do not attempt to remove all the lumps. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Dip batter into muffin pans filling each cup 2/3 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-16 minutes. Yield: 12 muffins

We always double the recipe and freeze whatever is left over to be enjoyed later for breakfasts. And depending on your oven, you may need to adjust the temperature and length of baking time. We always pay close attention to our muffins the last few minutes of baking as they can get too done rather quickly!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Sunday Hymn ~ Heavenly Sunlight

Walking in sunlight, all of my journey,
Over the mountains, through the deep vale;
Jesus has said, "I'll never forsake thee,"
Promise divine that never can fail.

Heavenly sunlight, Heavenly sunlight,
Flooding my soul with glory divine;
Hallelujah! I am rejoicing,
Singing His praises, Jesus is mine.

Shadows around me, shadows above me,
Never conceal my Savior and Guide;
He is the light, in Him is no darkness;
Ever I'm walking close to His side.

Heavenly sunlight, Heavenly sunlight,
Flooding my soul with glory divine;
Hallelujah! I am rejoicing,
Singing His praises, Jesus is mine.

In the bright sunlight, ever rejoicing,
Pressing my way to mansions above;

Singing His praises, gladly I'm walking,

Walking in sunlight, sunlight of love.

Heavenly sunlight, Heavenly sunlight,
Flooding my soul with glory divine;
Hallelujah! I am rejoicing,
Singing His praises, Jesus is mine.

Words by: H.J. Zelley


"For God, who said, 'Light shall shine out of darkness,' is the One who has shown in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ"
(2 Corinthians 4:6)

"For You light my lamp; the LORD my God illumines my darkness." (Psalm 18:28)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Road Home - Part 3

Continued from this post . . . .

Sunday morning we enjoyed a delicious breakfast of homemade biscuits and gravy that someone in the family had made for everyone, and after spending some time visiting with family and then saying our goodbyes, we began the long trek home. Again because of road closures, we needed to take a different route home than normal and several family members suggested different ones to us. We ended up opting for one which took us straight south from where we were and then once reaching Kansas, we would head directly east.

We did have one little malfunction with a vehicle during the weekend which was one of our truck headlights burning out on Saturday night. So Sunday morning we picked a new one up at a gas station and Dad (with a teeny tiny bit of help from me) put the new one in. It was then that we discovered that our headlamp had about an inch of water in the bottom of it! How that got in there, we don't know, but it explains why the light had burned out. At the next stop that we took with Ryan and Ashley, Dad asked Ryan if he had anything that could punch a hole into the headlight casing, and . . . he did! A screw and a screwdriver did the trick . . .

And once again, we were on our way. This was all new territory for everyone (except for the Nebraska portion of the drive which Dad and Mom and been on before), and it was a very much enjoyed drive! The scenery was just beautiful . . .

Blackbirds on a windmill

How I love the prairie! There's just something about it that I can't even put into words. For much of the drive, Leah and I were happily and busily pointing out different sights to each other and snapping away with our cameras. Meanwhile, the miles were slipping underneath of our tires, and we were getting closer to home . . . .

Our traveling companions. :)
(Photo by Leah)

In Kansas, we took the Pony Express Highway to Missouri, and that was really enjoyable! There were many pony express landmarks along the way, and I found myself wishing we had a little more time so we could stop at the numerous historical places and museums. Maybe someday! At one town we went through, part of an original pony express station was there, and I managed to snap this very poor quality photo of it before we had passed it . . .

The further we drove east, the more cloud cover we had, and gradually the sunlight began to disappear . . .

Photo by Leah :)

Two really neat old buildings along the road

A big beautiful barn

As we progressed along our journey, we eventually passed signs that said "one lane road ahead" - "expect delays." The signs were right! There were two places where there was just one lane and each time we had to stop for awhile while the oncoming traffic went through . . .

At one stop, Leah held her camera out the window to take this photo looking down the line of traffic - and Ryan, Ashley and Adelyn are right behind us

Leah also took this photo at one of the places where we were stopped - it was a pretty place!

On we go!
(Photo by Leah)

A little town that we drove through

As the day progressed and night fell, we were all getting rather tired and were ready to be home! But there were still hours left of our journey . . . at one point, we separated ways from Ryan and Ashley as there was a different route that would bring them home more quickly than the one that would bring us home. And finally, we pulled into our driveway and were home. Once again, a wonderful reunion weekend had come to a close . . . what an enjoyable and fun time it was and now we have so many special memories from it!