Friday, June 9, 2017

Invitation Making

Making the wedding invitations was an involved and fun process!

Leah addressing envelopes

Meanwhile we listened to the Piano Guys 

Leah did all the labor for making the invitations save for assembling the pieces and parts . . . she designed them, printed the papers and cut them all out, and then Leah and I had an 'invitation taping morning' with our friend Meagan to tape all the pieces together with double sided tape . . . .

We're finished! Meagan and I with one of the invitations (and with the wedding date, time, location cloned out. :) 

On another day, Leah hot glued the burlap/lace ribbon on every invitation. Here they are drying before being put in the envelopes. 

It was a fun step to put the invitations in the envelopes, and then they were ready to seal and send on their way!

It was definitely exciting to have them finished and sent out. As Leah said, it makes their upcoming wedding seem even more real. :) Perhaps not quite as much, though, as when her special order wedding dress came in the mail! Only about three more months to go!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Time with Abel

Another catch up post :) . . . .

Awhile back, Mom, Ivan and Leah spent a day in town to look at items for the house (carpets, etc.), set up their wedding registry, and do some wedding shopping. They had such a fun time together! Meanwhile, I had the fun of spending the day with Abel . . . I had quite a bit of work to do that day, but we squeezed in lots of together time, plus lots of interaction while he was in the living room and I in the kitchen working.

He is such a special boy, and I love the times spent with him! So glad he is going to be my nephew! And of course, so glad to be gaining such a great brother-in-law, too. :) We are very blessed!

A couple of photos were taken during the day so here is a glimpse into our time . . . .

He loves to exercise! He brought out our mat and started doing push-ups, showing me how many he could do in a row

He has been doing really well with learning to read and loves books. He pulled this one on lions off the shelf and began sounding out the words. It isn't an easy reading level, and he did a great job!

The words that he didn't know, I would help him sound out, sometimes covering part of the word so he could read it syllable by syllable.

Covering part of the word while he sounded it out 

Thanks to the mention of "14,000 years ago . . . ." in the book, there was a good opportunity to talk with him about biblical creation and what evolution is and why the latter isn't true. It was one of a number of great conversations we were able to have.

Partway through the day, we took some time to finish up a homeschool homework page he had left to do which was on the letter 'v'. One of the pictures that he colored was a Violin . . . and so I pulled out my violin so he could play on it a bit, too. He loved that!

A budding musician!

Next up is a post about wedding preparations . . . to be more precise: making the invitations! (which have all been sent out now.) Plus there's a post to come about another workday out at Ivan's house. It is exciting to see all the progress being made!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

An Evening Walk

The sun was slowly sinking in the west, spreading its golden rays across our place . . . one of my favorite times of day to be outdoors. Birds were singing their cheerful songs in the trees, and there was a calm, peacefulness settling in. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed a walk the other evening with my camera in hand  . . . would you all care to join me?

 Looking out across the front yard

It is such a lovely time of year and flowers are beginning to bloom, the vegetable garden is finally starting to have noticeable growth after our deluge of rain and chilly weather awhile back, the goat kids are growing and are quite entertaining, . . . and I could go on, but I'll let the pictures describe it instead. :) . . . .

The little front garden that I completely redid last summer (replacing all the bad soil with good, new soil) is doing much better this year. Slowly it is filling out! 

Long rows of tomato plants . . . hopefully we'll have a big crop this year and we'll be able to restock all of our tomato canned goods! We're starting to get low on a bunch of things. 

The slightly crooked carrot bed

Onions, lettuce, spinach, beets, watermelon, tomatoes, and kale (that is going to seed)

 Tiny celery plants that grew very slowly before being transplanted out, plus some cucumbers.

Already looking forward to fresh green beans sauted in butter and garlic!

 Two of Dad's beehives . . . he's up to around 20 hives and nucleus colonies now! The blueberry bushes are right to the left of these ones, and they are loaded with berries which will be ready to pick next month.

Beehives and fruit trees . . . two of the apple trees have a lot of apples on them

Aurora with her triplets (she was becoming slightly impatient for her dinner which came right after my walk. :) 

Petunias and Vincas that I planted in front of the barn. I got a blue saliva plant this past Saturday at the farmers market so need to do some rearranging to add it in here, too.

My hydrangea bush . . . hoping it flowers this year! 

One of mom's beautiful irises 

"Is it our dinner time yet?" These two boys sure know how to let us know when they are ready to eat! While Sienna never did accept them (so we have to keep them in a separate pen), she knows the feeding routine and all we need to do now is open up both gates, let the kids run in, and she'll patiently feed them while we go do other things. We need to be back around the time she is done, though, as she is not fond of having them in the stall with her once feeding time is over.  

The chickens seemed quite curious as to what I was doing :) "No scraps for us?"

Love all the springtime flowers! I have been enjoying bringing some of them indoors occasionally, too. They brighten up the house so much! 

The daisies are just starting to bloom in my mom's wildflower garden

We haven't really done anything with this garden for years (other then weed and mulch), and the hostas keep on growing and spreading. 

Prairie, Primrose and Meadow . . . there is something so peaceful about watching them out grazing.

Looking down the driveway 

In the rabbitry . . . currently, we have three litters of rabbits. One of them is just starting to open their eyes and are cute! 

This patch of wild elderberries has more than doubled in size since last year! Maybe this summer the birds and deer will leave some of the berries for us. :) 

Here they come! Aurora's kids are not easy to photograph . . . . . 

Can you see why? They love being up close to us! 

River loving the attention

By this time, goats were getting rather impatient to be fed and the sun was sinking lower, which meant it was time to get started on the evening chores!

". . . . Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well."
Psalm 139:14b

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

BLT Chicken Salad Recipe

A whole lot of gift sets and a bunch of other products later, and the Mother's Day rush has reached its end! The last several days I have been enjoying a slower pace and catching up on some things and making a lot of soap to restock. Plus soaking in the warm weather, flowers blooming, sunshine, time with family, and these glorious springtime days!

While I regroup and sort through some photos that were taken the last few weeks (and take some more :), here is a recipe that I made recently and as it is a family favorite, thought you all might like it as well (the dressing is so good in wraps, too) . . . .

BLT Chicken Salad

-1/2 cup mayonnaise
-3 to 4 tablespoons barbecue sauce (I use our homemade/canned sauce)
-2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
-1 tablespoon lemon juice
-1/4 teaspoon pepper
-8 cups torn salad greens
-2 large tomatoes, chopped
-2 celery stalks, chopped
-1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
-10 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
-2 hard-cooked eggs, sliced

In a small bowl, combine the first five ingredients; mix well. Cover and refrigerate until serving. Place salad greens on a large serving platter. Sprinkle with tomatoes, chicken and bacon; garnish with eggs. Drizzle with dressing. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Sienna's Turn

The rain is pouring down today and rumbles of thunder roll across the sky occasionally. We are getting another deluge of rain here (around 3+ inches so far!) which changed our plans and instead of being at the farmers market, I spent the morning at home cleaning, putting together gift sets and packaging orders, and caring for our two new goat kids.

Yes, we have two more bucklings now! Things have not gone as we would hope with them, though, which means taking them to Sienna every 4 hours or so and helping them nurse. But I am getting a little ahead of myself . . .

Dad spending some time with Aurora's kids until his help was needed . . . notice how wet his coat is! It was raining just a bit yesterday morning, too. :)

Backing up . . . when I checked on Sienna yesterday morning, she was just starting active labor. Things progressed normally for a bit, and then stopped. I'll spare you the details, but what followed was hours of hard work and a long, slow, rough labor with some other complications intermixed, trying to get the two bucklings delivered. They were both in pretty good presentations and they were not big weight-wise, but they were thick and broad and Sienna did not expand the way she should have.

The second kid was born alive, but not breathing. From past experience, Leah and Dad knew just what to do. Leah held him upside down and cleared mouth, Dad began gentle chest compressions, and the kid began breathing, thankfully! (As an FYI, most of the 'stuff' on his back end is wood shavings, hay, etc. from the barn stall.)

The birth was so rough on Sienna, and then adding in that she is a first-freshener (meaning, first kidding for her), she did not accept her kids. Which means, we did all the cleaning up on them, rubbing them vigorously to stimulate them to suck, try to walk, etc. They also cannot stay in the stall with her so they are currently in a crate facing her so at least she can see them and get more used to them.

Sienna's not so sure about this! 

Then every 3 to 4 hours, we go out to feed them. The process at first took took three of us with me holding Sienna firmly by her horns, bracing to keep her still; Dad firmly holding her back leg to keep her from kicking the kids; and Leah helping them nurse one by one. Each 'session' has gotten easier as Sienna learned the process. So much so that today, two of us are able to do it easily. While it's not what we would have wanted to have to do, it's much better and easier than bottle feeding and we are thankful that it is going as well as it is!

Buckling #1

Buckling #2 . . . they are both really cute!

Each time, we let the kids play for a bit in her stall, and we are hoping that she'll eventually put '2 and 2' together and accept them. We're not holding our breath on that one, though :) as it is quite unlikely and not looking promising. At least she's able to feed them!

This is really a very small 'wrong' thing happening, yet it made me think about the fallen world we live in. Particularly since I had just mentioned in the previous post the design and instincts God placed in the animals when He created them. It's not just we humans who experience the effects of the fall of man, sin and death entering the world, and the curse, but all of God's "very good" creation was also affected. It reminds me of a verse in Roman 8 . . . .

"For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now." (Romans 8:22)

The very next verses continue regarding ourselves:

"And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it." (Romans 8:23-25)

The whole of chapter 8 is beautiful and really encouraging, and I could keep quoting the rest, though I'll stop here. :)

Even though this world as a whole is so corrupted and full of suffering, pain, sin, death, hardships, and disease, yet we (those who are believers in Christ) have such a hope that we look forward to in Jesus Christ. Our final redemption and adoption as sons, and what a glorious day that will be!

And in the meantime, we have our lives here on earth to live for Him and His glory, and to live out the two greatest commandments: Loving the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and loving others. It makes life an exciting journey strewn with blessings and joys along the way!

Well, I better bring this post to a close . . . it's feeding time again. :)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Kidding Time

It has been another really busy week so far! For me, the beautiful, warm first few days were filled with outdoor work such as planting 40+ tomato plants, hauling away construction scrap, and similar tasks, plus lots of indoor things, our ladies Bible study, and a fun shopping time with Mom and Leah. There is certainly never a lack of things to do in the springtime. :)

Our tomato plants started indoors grew really well this year - when this photo was taken, they were in the process of being hardened off.

Today the warm sunshine made its exit for awhile leaving behind chilly, rainy weather. Our garden is appreciating the moisture and more of the seeds are beginning to germinate which is always exciting to see. I love seeing the rows come to life with growing plants! (except for the weeds :) - I wouldn't mind not seeing any of those green living things in the garden!) But . . . that's all for another post once I can get some pictures on a sunny day.

This one catches up on the excitement of Aurora's kidding last week! It was a fast labor, but a bit eventful. Once we got home from Dad's birthday lunch, I checked on her and she was clearly in labor and was having strong pushing contractions. Leah and I hurried to change clothes and grab the kidding kit. I was back out there first and quickly could tell that something was not right.

Assistance was definitely needed! Dad, Ivan, and I got Aurora up on her feet so Leah could go in and do the manipulations needed. It took a fair bit of work first to figure out what exactly was going on inside! The kid had both front legs back and its head bent way forward with the chin tucked underneath the chest so in order to get it in a deliverable position, Leah had to find the front legs and pull them forward and find the head and bring it up. It was harder than it sounds and quite the process . . . my sister was pretty amazing. :)

Once the kid was in the right position, he was quickly born. Another kid, a beautiful paint doeling followed next. And then . . . another buckling! Yes, Aurora gave us our first set of Boer triplets! We had wondered if she might as she was huge. Thankfully mama goat and babies are all doing well and she easily accepted all three of them. She's a great mom and is caring for them wonderfully.

Shortly after all three were born . . . Aurora was still cleaning them up and the first two were figuring out how to stand on their wobbly legs.

It's always exciting to have goat kids born! So amazing to see new life come into the world . . . and to see how God created within the animals the instincts for them to know how to care for their young.

Being born is hard work! The first kid found a comfy resting place right next to Leah

Once the kids were all safely here and had had some time with Aurora, Leah and I did a few vet related things with them. After that, nothing more was needed for the first two, though the third kid needed help with nursing for the first 24 hours or so. We had really hoped that if we ever had Boer triplets that we wouldn't need to bottle feed so we're thankful it wasn't necessary.

The first buckling exploring 

The adorable paint doeling (we'll be keeping her!)

Naptime today

Goat kids are so fun and these three seem especially sweet. They love attention! A few days after they were born, Leah took the below video on her phone of them learning how to play - or at least one of them :) - which is always entertaining to see . . . .

(She took the video after spending some time with them, hence her comments at the end.)

Now we're waiting for our second (and last) kidding of the season . . .

Sienna is due this Friday and I think she is more than ready!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Celebrating Dad's Birthday

Dad's birthday was this past week and it also was Aurora's due date so while we had things planned to do for his special day, we also needed to keep an eye on her so came home a couple of times to check on her. We began the day by heading out to one of our favorite conservation areas to do some bird watching and walking. It was a lovely day . . . somewhat cool with a warm sun and a gentle breeze.

It was really enjoyable to be out in it soaking in the sunshine and the beauty in God's creation all around! And of course, spending time together which we always love. :) The conservation area was alive with activity and bird calls . . . ducks, warblers, geese, sparrows, shorebirds, rails, and a definite highlight: Bald Eagles, including young fledglings in the nests and being fed by their parents.

A Red-Winged Blackbird male displaying his colorful wing patches and singing away 

Mom looking at some ducks from the truck 

One of the Bald Eagle nests . . . it had three young eagles in it! We set up our spotting scope and had some neat looks at them. 

Leah took this photo of an adult Bald Eagle using her phone through the spotting scope

She did the same to take one of the young eagles in the nest

After watching the eagles for awhile, we took the scope down and were looking at some other birds when in swooped another adult eagle carrying a fish in its talons . . . .

It was quite the sight to see it fly into the nest and begin feeding its young!

A taste of the beautiful views 

Dad found some shorebirds and was looking at them through the scope and Ivan found . . . me! :) 

Special and fun times together for Ivan and Leah . . . at times talking and at others breaking into smiles and laughter, as they were here in this photo.

Me (phone photo by Leah)

Walking along the road 

We had the treat of seeing an elusive American Bittern! We startled it out of the marshy area, and it flew across landing in a more secluded spot. Here, Ivan, Mom and Leah were attempting to find where it went while Dad talked with another birder who was driving by. 

So peaceful! There is just something relaxing, refreshing and renewing being out in the quiet beauty of God's creation. 

Looking at a Sora Rail . . . these birds are always fun to see when they are migrating through in the spring, and we heard and saw a lot of them! 

Happy sigh . . . one of my favorite things: out for a walk in the peaceful outdoors, breeze blowing, birds singing, sun shining down, and with my favorite people.

Clouds began rolling in making the hills and trees light up whenever the sun peeked through. 

After thoroughly enjoying the conservation area together, we headed home to check on Aurora. There were some possible signs of early labor, but no new changes from what she had had several hours earlier. With that, we headed out to Dad's restaurant of choice: China Garden. We had lunch there (and I discovered I liked at least some Chinese food :), and then we went to the disc golf course to show Dad and Mom how beautiful the area was. 

I didn't take any pictures there, so you'll have to imagine us leisurely walking along the grassy path strewn with wildflowers along the way, climbing down the rocks to the creek, Mom, Leah and I sitting on the rocks and me dangling my feet in the cold flowing water, the guys skipping rocks across the water and then having a competition to see who could hit a branch way up stream with a rock, the laughter that filled the air . . . it was a relaxing and refreshing time!

Eventually Dad reminded us that we just might have a goat in labor so we should probably head home to check on her. Upon arrival, we discovered that we did! And there will be more on that in the next post!