Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Homestead Laundry

Good Morning!  I awoke to the sound of rain.....again.  The last three weeks have been overcast and rainy, leading to a farm full of mud.  Everything is muddy, even the sheltered livestock pens.  The chicken yard, well, let's not talk about the chicken yard.  I was thinking of replacing them with ducks anyway.

The rain has certainly made homesteading not the most pleasant of adventures.  Besides trying to keep the livestock dry and fed, I've been trying to convince the 10 and 8 year olds that playing in the muck is not the most enjoyable thing in the world or should be limited to once a day.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm actually a great proponent of dirty kids.  They should get dirty.....daily.  But when the dirt is mud and the play times are mixed in with indoor times necessitating a complete change of outfits.....well, let's just say that my laundry basket looks like it exploded.

And the rain isn't making that any easier either.  Two years ago I put the older 4 children in charge of their own laundry, giving them their own baskets, a specific laundry day, and two rules:  use only cold water and only use the dryer in inclement weather.  For a while, read that:  a couple of weeks, everything perked along fairly well.  Until one of them "forgot" to do their laundry until late in the day.  I graciously allowed them to use the dryer.  Then all of a sudden children who can recite whole scenes from movies they saw once five years ago couldn't remember their wash day or to put them on in time for them to be hung out to dry.  Frustrated was a kind word for the way I felt.  I was tempted to just get rid of the dryer but the frugal side of me just couldn't get rid of something that worked.  So I took it to the Lord.

Yahweh is the protector of the frustrated and downtrodden and, if you are a homeschooling mother whose children outnumber you 6 to 1, you have been there at least once.  If four of those children are 18 and older, you've been there lots.  And, if those children have been raised to be independent thinkers who don't just follow the herd, you live there.  Two weeks after I began praying to Yahweh about how in the world to resolve this without resorting to my "Attila the Hun" impersonation (I've really been trying to cut down, honest) my dryer died.  Oh, hallelujah!  I don't think I've ever been so happy to lose an appliance.  Ray tried for a week to fix it.  "It" turned out to be a part that would cost half the price of a new dryer to replace.  Ray spent another week trying to figure out a way to finance a replacement before he realized I wasn't interested in replacing it.  Like it or not, no one was using a dryer.

That was a year and a half ago.  I've never really looked back, although the children have.....and often.  To handle situations like winter and the current monsoon season that we are enduring I purchased a drying rack from for the small stuff and set up an old damaged flagpole someone had given us to hang shirts and pants on hangers.  It works fairly well, except for sheets and towels.  I've been trying to get Ray to install a longer clothes horse, and here, that would suspend from my 12 foot ceilings and be lowered/raised by a pulley system for those items.  But, until now, I've been able to get those things done and hung outside on a regular basis.  At least regular enough for me to feel that the gain isn't worth the argument.  Now, however, I could really use that.

But, eventually, we will get some sunshine.  And I will be ready to grab my chance for some clean-air fragranced sheets and open aired towels.

Now, it's time to get started on another day.......and a load of clothes.

May Yahweh bless you in this new day!


Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Sense of Community

Good Morning!

To me homesteading is all about becoming more self-sufficient.  It's about relying on yourself for most/all of your needs.  And then sharing what you have learned/created/grown with others. The Amish have been doing this for centuries and are masters at it.  Spurning any government help, they remain a symbol of what America used to be:  a group of communities united together, sharing both the joy of the good times and the sorrow of the bad.

But, as our faith in God has been replaced by a "faith" in our government to provide all we need we have become a lazy, obese nation of self-centered individuals who don't even know the family/people next to us.  We get up, go to work, come home, sit in our air-conditioned houses, doodle on the computer, never really seeing those who live near us.  We know longer know or care about the lives of those living around us.

We currently live on a somewhat busy highway between a small town and an even smaller town.  We are usually out gardening, mowing, taking care of our animals.  After 14 years of living here and raising our children, we have gotten to know a lot of the "old-timers" in the community.  Three of my older children have worked in the local hardware store, the heart of any small town.  One has worked as a volunteer in the county government and is now Director for the Chamber of Commerce in the town.  She knows, quite literally, everyone.  Another worked as a real estate agent/office manager for a real estate company in town for several years before moving to the larger city close by when that office was closed.  Still another works both at the hardware store and a local diner.  The ones still at home make themselves available to help others in the community with odd jobs around their places.  We have, as a family, been active in the community, usually simply as an extension of our life.  Our children play softball, football, and are active in 4H. We have held fundraisers and attended fundraisers.  We have spent countless hours in our yard sitting on the tailgate of someone's truck and just talking about life.....theirs, ours.  Since we home church with several other families, and are therefore not supporting a building, upkeep, and various other programs, we are free to use our tithe to help out our neighbors in need and other local groups whose workers we see every day.  This kind of sharing is not a natural part of my personality, but I was raised with a compassion for others and a strong sense of "the right thing".  This, and a strong sense of community are things which we have tried to teach our children.

Our lifestyle has been noticed by many as they travel the highway in front of our home.  We have earned the respect of some, the envy of others, and the ridicule of a few. 

Now, governments across the country are trying to take over the lives of those wishing only to be left alone and provide for themselves.  Their reason:  independents are hard to control.  It is only by making us dependent on the government for everything that they can seek to control us.  The fact that most of their tactics are unconstitutional doesn't faze them.  After all, they have the current President as an example of how to work around that document and the Congress set to balance their power.  But, this powerplay is nothing unusual.  Our government has been occupied by greedy, corrupt individuals since its creation.  What is different is the willingness of our fellow countrymen to stand by and allow this powerplay to go unchecked.  The lack of community and subsequent desensitization has taken its toll.  We no longer care what is happening to others across the land, as long as it doesn't interfere in our lives.  As long as the government continues to see that we have water and food and healthcare, etc., we don't care that they are stripping others of their property and their rights.  As long as we can continue to get our daily facebook fix and pass along the latest twitter by some useless Hollywood idol, we are content.  We can ignore the plight of those who are being kicked off their property by local governments because of future development plans, those who are being jailed for storing rainwater on their property and providing unprocessed food for consumers hungry for the real thing. and those who choose to live without government assistance.

But you can do something.  Get the word out.  Share these stories on facebook and twitter.  Donate to people who can help those being threatened, such as the Home School Legal Defense Association and the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund.  Write letters to your congressmen.  Call them.  Actually get involved.  It is only by increasing the pressure on these governments that we can change the road we are headed down.  And always remember, just because you may not be a homesteader or a prepper or a constitutionalist or an independent spirit, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't help protect them.

First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me. 


Pastor Niemoller

 May Yahweh bless you in this new day!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Respect, Dignity, Tolerance

     I have been following the Chick-Fil-A  drama with avid interest.  For those of you who have been living in a cave for the past two weeks, Dan Cathy, the CEO of privately-held Chick-Fil-A, was interviewed on a Christian station as a private citizen, one whose views are protected by the 1st Amendment (so far).  It is unfortunate that his paid position came into play.  Immediately following the airing of the interview several governmental figures came out against not only Mr. Cathy, but also Chick-Fil-A.  Some of these figures, most notably Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, Tom Menino of Boston, and Vincent Grey of D.C., went so far as to say that Chick-Fil-A was no longer welcome to set up shop in their towns.  This is rather cavalier of them considering the high unemployment rate in each of these towns (9.8%, 5.7%, and 9.0% respectively as of May 2012).  I wonder how the people themselves, especially those who may have benefited from those lost jobs, feel about the possible loss of jobs attendant with this stand.
     There were also plenty of people who came out in support of  Chick-Fil-A, such as Mike Huckabee, the former presidential candidate.  It was he who gave birth to the idea of a Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day to give everyone interested a chance to show support for the food chain and its first amendment right to voice their opinions.  I was overjoyed by the number of people who responded to Mike Huckabee's call.  According to Facebook, over 668,000 people indicated that they would attend the event.  From the lines reported all over the country, most if not all plus some actually did.  My family also attended and enjoyed a really good meal.  I must say that we do not eat out much, but that Chick-Fil-A has always been one of our favorite places when we did.  The atmosphere at the restaurant we went to was very courteous and upbeat.  No one was upset at having to wait and I must admit that the service was absolutely wonderful.  Especially in comparison with other fast food restaurant's service I have received.  I was very impressed, both with Chick-Fil-A and my fellow Americans.
     I have not been as impressed with the behavior of those in opposition to Mr. Cathy's views.  It seems that the only response the left can come up with is playing the "hate" card, much like their overuse of the "race" card.  There was no sign of "hate" or even "intolerance" at any of the sites I saw reported on.  There appears to be a major difference in the definition of "intolerance" between the two views.  I also hold the belief in Biblical marriage, that of 1 man to 1 woman, as do apparently the majority of people in 30 other states in our union.  I have been known to donate to groups following my belief system, as do Mr. Cathy, Chick-Fil-A and 100% of all other people.  It's called "putting your money where your mouth is" or "walking the talk".  Why would anyone give money to a cause they don't believe in?  Does this mean that I "hate" those groups with whose ideas I don't agree?  No.  The ability to allow others differing points of view without lowering one's self to petty confrontations and declarations of hatred and mistreatment is part of what defines a mature adult.
     America was founded on the idea that all people should be able to express their views without fear of the government.  It was never intended to force everyone to support views with which they do not agree.  Several years ago a major country singing group voiced their disgust with the sitting president.  They had every right to do so.  After their opinion was aired on major networks, radio stations, music stores, and a number of individuals declared that they would no longer play/buy the groups cd's.  These people also had the right to pull their support from a group they did not agree with.  "Hate" never came into play.  These people were simply using a tool at their disposal to, in a mature manner, show their disapproval of the band's actions.
     I support the right of parents to homeschool their children.  This does not mean that I "hate" public schools or those who attend them.  I don't agree with most of the left's views, but I will always defend their right to express them nonviolently.  I just wish to be treated with the same respect and dignity that they want for themselves.
     Respect, dignity, tolerance.......really are a two-way street.
     May Yahweh bless you in this new day.


Monday, April 2, 2012

Kidding Season Has Arrived

Good morning!  It seems that around here it is either drought or deluge.  After waiting so long for our kidding season to kick in we had five kids in 2 days this weekend.  It was a nice turnout in 3 does and 2 bucks.  Two of the births were so fast that we didn't even know the does were ready, but rather were met with dry kids in the pasture.  Those does are keepers.  Here are some pictures of our newest addtions.

This is the doeling off of our Lady.  Since most of our genetics are chamoisee, so are our kids.  Michaela usually doesn't name her kids right away so we'll just have to see what she comes up with.  Since she's been watching Sweet Home Alabama, you can expect names inspired by the show.

These two are from Ellie May, who is actually a cou blanc.  Their sire, however, throws very strong chamoisee kids.  Ellie May had a buck and a doe.  Don't ask me which is which.  I can't tell them apart and even Michaela has to double check.

This is the doeling off of Twisted Oak's Waikiki Beach (Kiki).  Her chamoisee is a little different (a brown overcoat on black).  It will be interesting to see what she ends up with.

Below is the buckling off of Kiki.  All of these kids, as well as our does, will be at the NCADGA Spring Show on Memorial Day Weekend.

Here are also pictures of the two Boer kids we've had this year.  I've been very disappointed in some of our does and will have to be making the difficult decision to cull some who have not taken in the last two breedings.  I don't like doing it, as our breeders are almost like family, but business is business.

This is Julius, a beautiful little buckling.  Since my herd gets named by Joshua and Samantha, I'm never sure what I'm going to get.

The far right is Connie, a very energetic doeling.  She also has wattles.  I've never seen a Boer with wattles before and have no idea where they could've come from.

We still have one more Alpine to kid in late April, so we'll keep you up-to-date.

For those of who have been trying to make the afghan with me, I'm sure you are farther along than I am.  First, I lost the pattern book.  Then the camera broke.  Then spring and kidding season hit.  I personally thought spring wouldn't come until it was supposed to, not in February.  But, I am now getting it back on track, so be looking for the next square on Wednesday.

May Yahweh bless you in this new day!


Monday, February 27, 2012

What's Been Happening on the Farm

Good Morning!  Well, here we are at the last week of February and you might be wondering what's been happening here on the farm.  A lot.  A lot of wildly different stuff.  So I figured today I would catch you up and maybe I can get back on track.

Septic woes - When we moved in in September 1998, the septic tank was in a sad state, with "water" standing on the ground and flowing under the house.  Since at the time we planned on adding on to the house, we installed a new, large septic system (with 10 people in the house we went big) with an enlarged drain field.  It worked and we forgot about it.  Then, in late January, we began to notice "water" standing over the holding tank area.  After a little researching I began calling to get estimates.  $200 would get my septic system pumped, another $100 would get the grease trap taken care of.  Finally, one company offered to do both for $250....sold.  In the midst of all this I discovered that you are supposed to get your system pumped out every 2-3 years.  Who knew?  From there Ray handled it, and passed on the word to me that the guy said that it was FULL!  We are very fortunate that it didn't move over and begin to clog up our drain field.
PS - We never did add on the the house.

Hot Water Heater - We knew it was coming.  We knew we were living (or showering) on borrowed time.  Our water heater had been put into the house in the 1970's.  We had repeatedly replaced the element in it, each time pumping out huge amounts of calcium deposits.  The last time we replaced it the threads on the water heater got stripped, so we knew that when it went again, that would be it.  Well, it happened and so we purchased a new one.  While I would have loved to have a tankless or very large heater, we decided to stick with the same size.  We very seldom run out of hot water, even with 8 people and all of the cooking and showering that goes on here.  A tankless was way out of our price range.  So we stuck with a 40 gallon.  Now, replacing a water heater in a 100-year-old house is not an easy thing.  When the bathroom was originally created out of a back porch in the 1970's, the water heater was installed and the closet built around it.  So we had to replace it with one that would fit in the hole.  The old one also had not been installed with cut-off valves, so when we needed to turn off water to the heater, we had to turn off water to the entire house.  My husband, Ray, is a marvelous man.  The knowledge that man has packed in his brain is a treasure trove.  His only mistake was in asking me to unhook the wiring. 
At some point in the distant past, a load management system had been wired in.  Since I am extremely quite a bit somewhat a tiny bit rebellious, I didn't want the electric company to tell me when I could/couldn't have hot water, so I had it turned off but the wiring remained.  This gave three different wires to disconnect from each other.  I didn't know that I was supposed to remember what wire was hooked where.  I didn't discover this little item until it came time to hook the new one up to the electrical system.  And we came up with extra wires.  This was not good.  We tried everything we could think of......calling a relative who is equally endowed with this amazing knowledge, EVEN looking at the wiring layout in the instructions, but we could not get the water heater on.  Finally, out of desperation, Ray checked the wiring going from the house to the heater.  With me flipping breakers back and forth we discovered that the wiring we thought went to the house breaker, actually went to the old load management system.  Once we figured out that little gem and changed over the water.  Thank the Lord for my husband.  Left to myself I'd never have thought to check out that little detail.

Radiator/Water pump:  Ray's truck is 12 years old and has 270,000+ miles on it.  He uses it to commute to work and run farm errands.  We knew there was a leak and have been trying to keep water in it, but this has gotten rather difficult.  We have spent most of February looking for a used or rebuilt water pump.  Now we have decided that they don't exist and are working on getting a new one.

Kidding season:  This is upon us.  Heidi, one of our cashmeres gave birth to twin doelings, Callie and Allie, (pictures to come).  Next up looks to be Lynn, matron of our Boer herd.  I was hoping to have all of the cashmeres kid in February and the Boers in March, but such is life when dealing with animals.  At first all was well with Heidi and the kids, then she began to push one of the kids, Callie, away and not allowing it to nurse.  So we are bottle feeding her with Maggie's milk.  Or, rather, Samantha is bottle feeding her and doing an awesome job.

Rabbits:  All of my rabbits have been bred and I will be expecting litters in early March.

Maggie's last calf, Faline, has been sold.  L'il Bit is on ice, aging, and will be put in the freezer in a couple of weeks.  That made a major difference in my weekly feed purchases.

Rain:  It has rained about every 3-4 days all winter.  The ground is completely saturated and it is impossible to get the wheelbarrows into the pens on a daily basis for cleaning.  Consequently, on the days where it has gotten dry enough, it has taken all day to do the cleaning.  The rain has also prevented us from getting Penny, our sow, pen ready and getting her rebred.  In addition, February was the month that we were supposed to lime and sand all of our pens and that is definitely not happening.

Also, due to the rain, several of my Boers have come down with foot scald.  More on that in a later post.  Suffice it to say that that particular treatment is rather easy but time consuming.

Taxes:  enough said.

I'm sure there is more, but it is time to be getting on with the day.  It's suppose to rain.

May Yahweh bless you in this new day!


Monday, February 13, 2012

Schedule? What Schedule?

Good Morning!  OK, it's probably clear to everyone by now that I am not organized nor scheduled.  I'm not even sure that I could ever become that way again.  There was a time when I was.  When the children were much younger, I was REALLY organized.  I had a planner with all of the appropriate sections and calendars where each activity was color coded with a different colored pen.  We separated our dirty clothes as we took them off and each load had a certain day of the week.  We had a scheduled time for getting up, going to bed, eating meals, starting school, etc.  The house was cleaned on a routine basis.  It all worked really well. 

Then we moved.  And it all didn't just go slowly downhill.  It dropped like a rock.

My husband's parents were aging, his mom had had two strokes and was consequently disabled.  His dad just couldn't work and keep up with the place, which included a 100-year-old house and 4 1/2 acres.  So we bought it and they began to live with us. 

That was the end of the organization.  All of my stuff remained packed up and was only gradually integrated into the house, which made doing some things very difficult, like:  packing away papers, clothes, or anything else that needed storing.  Cleaning could only be done as a room was available and, since most of the stuff belonged to my in-laws, I was reluctant to let the children clean as I had at our own home.  We went to bed early and got up early.  They went to bed late and got up late. There was no room for anything and nothing had a place.

Then, as the children got involved in 4-H, we started adding animals.  The first things, chickens and rabbits, didn't really do too much to our schedule.  Even the heifers my children showed didn't change things too much.  The show schedule itself played havoc with our fall schedule.  Now we are, at least a little, what we had so desired when we first moved:  a working farm, and we love the life.  But it does not lend itself well to schedules.

Believe it or not, I sat down the last week of December and scheduled out soapmaking, cheesemaking, blog posts, cleaning, school, meals, shopping, etc.  I made it a little over halfway through January and "then came the rains.  And with it my troubles with the" schedule.

For instance, we have a small trench dug in the goat's pen to help drain the water.  The problem with this is that it has to be maintained, i.e. dug out, on a regular basis.  If we have no rain or just a little rain, this is easy and not very time-consuming.  But when you get a lot of rain on a daily basis, or on most days, it is more difficult.  So, during the last month, I have been spending quite a bit of my time trying to keep this open. 

Since we don't use a dryer, the laundry schedule has also taken a direct hit from the rain.

Then you have the day one of the puppies got into something that caused her face to swell and required an emergency visit to the vet.

And the day the heifer got loose and it took all of us over half an hour to catch her.

And the day the goats got through the fence and had to be rounded up and the fence repaired.

And the day I found one of the goats limping and had to treat and bandage her leg.

etc., etc., etc..

What have I learned through all of this?  I'm not really in control of my schedule.  Yahweh is.  And I need to be open to whatever He chooses to bring my way, even the customers who stop by for eggs and end up staying 2 hours talking and trying to learn how they can get started on becoming more self-sufficient.  Does this mean that I don't need to bother trying to plan or schedule?  No.  It simply means that I don't need to get upset when my schedule doesn't go as I have it.  It also means that some days it's just easier to change the date at the top of my TO DO list rather than to completely copy it over.

May Yahweh bless you in this new day and may you welcome all he has planned for you in His schedule!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

So You Want to Homestead? (Part 2)

Good Morning!  Today is showing all of the signs of being a rather difficult day.  We had over an inch and a half of rain yesterday and everything is a muddy mess.  We had planned on having a group of boys over to help us dig out our goat pen in preparation of bringing in new sand, but.........I don't see how we could get wheelbarrows in and out of the pasture to haul it.  I think that we will have to put that on hold.  I hope that it dries up quickly as we had planned another work day on Saturday to spread last year's compost pile out on the field a neighboring farmer is letting us use this year.  The field has seen several years of abuse through the use of chemicals and planting of GMO seed, so we are trying to get some natural nutrients back into the ground before planting season.  I have a lot of preparation work planned for the month of January and I am hoping the weather will cooperate.

Weather is a big factor in homesteading.  No matter where you live, this is one thing that will dictate almost all of your decisions, especially in gardening.  I am blessed to live (right now) in a part of the country where we typically have a somewhat long and varied growing season.  Actually, we have two planting seasons.  Our spring season is from January 11-May 3, while the fall season runs from July 19-September 3.  Your climate will dictate what you can/cannot grow and what varieties do well.  Your local Cooperative Extension Agency is the best place for this information.  It also may or may not have a Master Gardeners Program.  If it does, these would be the best people to get advice from, although anyone who has been gardening long in your area is a valuable source of information.  Most gardeners are more than happy to share their knowledge with others.

A helpful hint from me:  Start small.  If you have never gardened before, do not overwhelm yourself with too much.  When we first started my father-in-law lived with us.  He had grown up in the 1930's -'40's on his parent's truck farm.  "Truck farming" was the term used for raising produce on a large scale.  He remembers picking cucumbers, lettuce, etc. and packing it into boxes for shipment up north.  There was absolutely nothing that man couldn't raise.  And whatever he raised.........he raised a lot of.  He thought in terms of multiple hundred-foot rows.  That's a LOT of produce.  Even though I canned and froze as much as possible, he still ended up giving away so much that people would see him coming and cross to the other side of the street.  Start small.   Once you learn about the process of gardening, then you will be better able to determine exactly how much your family will need in a year.  Some gardening books that I have used are


Which leads to another helpful hint:  keep a garden journal.  Write down everything:  when you planted, how you planted, weather conditions, rainfall amounts/dates, when you noticed germination, when you harvested, how much you harvested, etc.  You can either come up with your own or choose one of many available on the internet.  Here are some I found:


This will help you make decisions next year by letting you know what worked, what didn't, how much to plant, etc.

Next week we'll talk about what to do if you don't have much room for gardening.  Until then, order those gardening catalogs and start reading.

May Yahweh bless you in this new day!