Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sweet Surrender

There is much that has been on my heart the past few weeks as I have thought and prayed about my own spiritual life and have been examining different aspects of it, realizing ever more that I am not where I should be. I was seeing how I had become complacent in some areas, and how various things in my life that I was struggling with, while seemingly unrelated, stemmed from a similar root: self-focus. Self truly is an enemy to be continually fought and defended against! I find that it likes to rear its ugly head when the busyness of life creeps in or when I am tired or am struggling with my emotions.

The struggle to overcome it when tried in one’s own strength is wearisome and unfruitful at best. (speaking from experience here. :) Yet resting in Christ’s lovingkindess and in His strength and love brings such a change! Simply changing my focus from self and earthly things to my dear Savior, showers down the peace and the joy that were lacking. Through a heart and mind “set on things above” one’s outlook is so different! When looking at things through a heart of surrender to Christ with the desire to serve Him as opposed to a heart of self, how different is one’s love and service to others!

It is amazing how swiftly the change to resting in Christ can take place – yet it is through an effort . . . and a continual, conscious, and persevering effort. That seems a little contradictory doesn’t it? Effort and rest at the same time? But the two seem to go hand in hand. As we put forth the spiritual effort and make the choice to surrender ourselves and to rest in Christ, then He can fill our hearts with Himself and His rest . . . the Holy Spirit and the “impulse of His love” will be what moves our hearts, our hands, our feet, our words.

As I read in my Bible yesterday morning, so much was speaking to my heart. Yet one particular passage especially so as it held in it the beautiful example of the Lord Jesus. It is speaking of when Christ will return and when He has “put all His enemies under His feet” (1 Corinthians 15:25.) And then it goes on to say . . .

When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.” 1 Corinthians 15:28

Christ Himself, the Son of God, the Savior, Redeemer, the Lamb, the One who is holy and true, the Perfect One, the Alpha and Omega . . . subjecting Himself to the Father.

What an example . . . what a humbling example our Savior is to us. Can we do any less than to surrender our poor, sinful (yet redeemed!), weak beings to Him?

Sweet surrender . . . it is indeed that. Not always easy, but the fruit reaped is without a doubt, very sweet.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Introducing: "Baby B'Loved"

 

Leah's Etsy shop is now open!

And I am so excited to be able to share about it here . . . Leah designs and makes lovely, and very well-made, items and has done an incredible job with her shop. And I can personally vouch for her wonderfully made Mei Tai baby carriers :), as I have used one of them with Adelyn and loved it!

Mei Tai Baby Carrier - Reversible in Pink and Blue - Handmade 

Mei Tai Baby Carrier - Reversible in Brown and Blue - Handmade

She also makes the most adorable little baby booties . . .

Crocheted Baby Booties - Mary Jane, 0/3 Months - Handmade Baby Shoes in Green 

Crocheted Baby Booties - Mary Jane, 0/3 Months - Handmade Baby Shoes in Purple

I can just imagine a precious little ones' feet cuddled inside of these soft booties!

If you would like to visit her shop, simply follow this link: Baby B'Loved

Monday, May 28, 2012

Last Week's Firsts

It's always fun to expand one's knowledge and skills and learn how to do something new . . .

. . . and it seems like as soon as one new thing is tried or learned, I'm ready to branch out and try the next thing whether it be a new recipe, a new skill, or a new quilt or crochet project . . .

. . . and even if I never become accomplished at some (or many :) of the things I try, it's still so enjoyable! I love to learn and keep busy . . . and to do those things that help to make our house a home and help our little homestead along.

I am thankful for the opportunity to be able to try so many things and enjoy many different experiences including a few new things tried this week . . .

~ canning strawberry syrup ~

(which was*delicious* over waffles!)


~ canning strawberry jam ~

(which is also in the above photo)

~ canning strawberry rhubarb jam ~

(not pictured)


AND


~ making mozzarella cheese! ~


Yes, cheese! For a long time, I have wanted to try my hand at cheesemaking, and I cannot tell you how many times over the years books from the library came home that covered various aspects of how to make cheese, butter, etc.

Before making the mozzarella cheese, I had printed out several different recipes for how to do it, Leah and I watched videos online of how to make it, and we thought we had a fairly good grasp for how the process should go.

Only . . . it didn't go according to the 'books.' :) After adding the rennet and letting the warm milk/rennet mixture set for the called for time, we took the lid off the pot to cut the curd. Only there was no curd!

"What to do next?" was the question that was in both Leah's and my mind. 

Long story short, after some looking online, we found that goat's milk can take up to one hour for the curd to set which helped to explain some things! We did eventually get some curd to form and ended up with a little over 6 oz. of mozzarella when all was said and done (only about a third of what we should have gotten, but at least it was some!) . . .

The mozzarella after it was grated

Leah and I had so much fun making this cheese together and had quite a few laughs over our failures and 'learning as we go.' Oh, the memories! 

At least now we have a much better idea of how to do it next time, 
and we are looking forward to that!

In the meantime, we enjoyed our first ever homemade cheese in a delicious broccoli salad (made with our own broccoli and onions, too, by the way) . . .


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Our Little Sunshine

Adelyn having a lot of fun playing with her Grandpa

Her smiles are infectious! As is her laughter . . . which was prevalent during this sequence of photos!

As always, fascinated by her Grandpa's face. :)

Snuggle time with her Grandma . . . one of Mom's favorite things. :)

Aunt Leah and Adelyn enjoying time together . . . Adelyn loves to pull up on things now and is beginning to take side steps, too. It won't be long before she'll be walking!

She is beginning to love to be read to! She was so attentive while I read this book to her (over and over and over . . . :) She even would start to turn the pages if I wasn't reading fast enough!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Around Our Farm

This spring has been one of the most beautiful and enjoyable ones around our place . . . and perhaps that is partly due to the fact that we are beginning to reap in abundance many fruits of all of our hard work the past several years!


Sometime I should share "before" photos so you can see how different things looked only a few years ago, but for now, here are some of the "after" (though there are still so many more things we want/need to do!)


The Vegetable Garden

This garden has been a work in progress over the years! After having a smaller garden in a different location for much of my growing up years, in spring of 2008 we tilled up a big portion of our front yard and turned it into a vegetable garden. With it being a new garden, the first few years held a lot of problems with disease, poor soil conditions, and pests (such as grubs!) Yet the patience and work is paying off and so far, this year's vegetable garden is the best we have ever had.

 The broccoli heads are growing larger and are almost harvestable size now

This is part of the vegetable garden, and it is backed by the goat pen . . . which was the result of a lot of tree and brush clearing the past two years and then the pen was built this past fall.

Looking the other way, here is another part of the garden with the beehives in the background - and yes, we have three now! Our artificial swarm was a success, the hive we took the swarm from successfully requeened themselves, and we installed a new package this spring. The bees have been really busy lately, and I am looking forward to taking a peek in the hives again in a few days!

And a closer view - after having fungal disease in our onions the past two years, it was exciting to have none of that this year!

Beets are such a pretty vegetable

Most of the vegetable garden . . . there is more right at the front where yellow squash, zucchini and more tomatoes are planted. And then this week, Dad tilled up another large area behind the garden and around the orchard for more garden area.

Zucchini plants

Freshly harvested lettuce and spinach - we have been able to enjoy many salads already this year!


Our Fruit Crops

Our strawberry plants have produced abundantly this year! So far, we have 24 pounds of them in the freezer (to be enjoyed in smoothies, yogurt, and baked goods) and also have been able to enjoy them fresh and in desserts as well.

 
 One of the strawberry beds

 
A basketful of fresh picked, juicy sweet strawberries


One of our favorite desserts . . . strawberry bars

Blueberries

 Peaches . . . this will be our first year to harvest peaches from our trees, and we are very much looking forward to that! We would have had some last year only the deer ate them all . . . this year, though, we have the trees fenced with electric so we won't be having a repeat of that.


Herbs

We don't have much for herbs yet this spring only lavender, thyme and oregano. I still need to plant the basil, cilantro and dill which I am hoping to do this week.

 
Lavender


The Goats
 
Little Larkspur's favorite place to sleep is under the hay feeder! (We decided to name all of our dairy doelings after Missouri wildflowers, hence her name, Larkspur. :)

The still nameless buckling with Aurora in the background. We're trying to find a theme for our dairy bucklings that would fit well with the dairy doelings' wildflower names, but so far, haven't come up with anything. Names of trees and rocks just don't work as goat names. :)

Dixie has been a great first time mother!

Dad set up the electronet so that the goats could browse in a new location, and they have been enjoying it! Once they eat this area down, then we'll move them to another. I love how herbivores can take weeds, brush, and non-useable things and turn them into meat and milk.

Daddy and Leah watching the goats . . . Larkspur was having so much fun racing around!

Lacy enjoying some Elm leaves

My sweet Aurora

 Daddy shutting the gate after moving the goats back into their main pen.

 Chase continues to have good milk production, and she is doing much 
better on the milking stand, too!

Aurora and Lacy heading down to the far end of the pen during the evening


The Chickens

Some of the chickens enjoying free ranging. 
We had a butchering day awhile back and reduced our laying flock down to around 26 hens. It has been nice to have a smaller flock!

And while I didn't get photos of them, the rabbits, dogs and cats are doing well, too. We have three litters of rabbits now that are just about weaning age. Once they are weaned, we would like to try pasture raising them until they are old enough to butcher. Hopefully that will go well!


 Other Sights on the Farm

A Tulip Poplar bloom . . . a favorite with the honeybees!

Some of Mom's beautiful Irises.

This photo could use an explanation! Honeybees need a source for water which we had provided for them, but they began to not use it as often . . . then Dad found them coming to the end of a hose that had just been used and crawling inside to get water there. So he set this bowl there, filled it with water and put in some sticks, and the bees use it very regularly. And now that they have established this as a main water source, we'll need to find something bigger for them to use. It's amazing how much water honeybees can go through!

These compost bins continue to work so well! Before planting season, I was able to haul one whole bin of compost to the garden. Then I combined the other two into one (the center one), and that is just about ready - it will be spread on the garden either this fall or next spring. Now the other two bins are full of litter that Leah recently cleaned out of the chicken coop. It's wonderful how all of this waste and plant matter can be turned into rich compost!

It is SO nice to have lush green grass in our yard again!

Our three beehives with the blueberry bushes growing in between them

Daisies . . . an abundant springtime flower around our place

Part of Mom's wildflower garden

And some of the flowers brightening up indoors

And there you have a glimpse into what it looks like around here right now. Though, things are always changing and plants and animals are growing, so in a few months (or even weeks) things will be looking different yet again!


Linking up to the "Homestead Barn Hop"