While We’re Waiting

While we’re waiting for Ed to figure out that washtub bass, I thought I would fill you in on our last year, and share some plans for upcoming posts.

Last August, we took our first ever family vacation. We went to Georgia to visit my dad, then to Charleston SC so Chicken Girl could see the ocean. From there we went to Greenville SC to visit Ed’s daughter, and on to North Carolina to visit Cherokee and see where Ed’s grandparents lived when he was a boy.  We put 2600 miles on my car and made some great memories. There will be more about that in later posts.

While we were gone, James was supposed to stay here and take care of the critters.  Well, that didn’t go quite as well as we had hoped.  To make a long, sad, story short, James was not able to fight his Meth addiction and surrendered his probation. The judge gave him nine years.  The blessing in that is that he is clean and sober.  We pray that this time he gets the tools (and the desire) he needs to stay that way.

In the meanwhile, Bam Bam’s life kind of fell apart too, and he is staying with us again, along with his two small dogs, Rex and Gracie. They have been with us since December. It’s been nice to have him home again, and he is a big help. The little dogs provide a lot of “entertainment” although the cats are less than impressed.

Kyle and dogs

Bam Bam with Rex (black) and Gracie (white)

The big dogs are doing ok. Some days, Libby really shows her age, but I think we’ve stopped her digging out. Meeko still climbs out, on occasion, comes to the back door and barks! I think he wants to play with the little dogs, who aren’t terribly sure that’s a good idea.

On a positive note, we have finished homeschooling and Chicken Girl graduated on June 3rd. She is now taking an online Voice Over class, since she wants to be a voice over artist.

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Chicken Girl at her graduation party

As for the chickens, with the exception of one hen we lost to illness (we’re not sure what), they are all doing fine. We get between one and two dozen eggs a week, which is more than enough for us.  We are working on rebuilding the coop (again), as well as some new chicken tractors.

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Sunny about ready to fly the coop!

This spring has been an exciting time with the bees. Currently we have four hives. One we bought as a nuc, two from a hive we split, and one we took from an old house. I know that Ed will want to tell you all about that, but I will say I have finally put on the bee suit and started helping him. Capturing that wild hive was amazing!

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The wild hive was behind this wall!

Weather wise, things have just been strange.  With the exception of about a week of frigid sub zero temperatures, last winter was mild and dry. We didn’t get much spring. It just went from cold to hot, and still very dry.  We finally got some rain yesterday, but we need more.  The grass is dry and crunchy, but the plantain is doing beautifully!

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All the green is plantain. The brown is grass

We bought some fruit trees as well as some elderberry bushes planning to create fruit tree guilds. Well, we didn’t get as far into that as we would have liked, but we did get all the trees in the ground and they are hanging on.

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An apricot tree with mulch inside the drip line. We plan to plant understory plants here later.

Ed and Bam Bam built me a basement greenhouse, so I was able to get some seeds started. The only problem was that when they were ready to go outside, the weather was still too cool, and then the tiller broke down and Ed wasn’t able to get everything tilled.   We improvised and got everything I started planted. Some things didn’t make it, but most are, like the trees, hanging on.

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The greenhouse

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Tomato plants in the garden

After three years,  the blackberries are producing! Then a few days ago, I discovered wild raspberries growing behind the barn. This must just be a good year for berries. The mulberry trees in the fence rows are full of fruit in varying degrees of ripeness. The wild grapes have taken off too.

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Blackberries!

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Wild raspberries behind the barn

Well, I think that is pretty much everything. Hopefully, Ed will have that bass built next week, and he’ll post about that and all the other ways you can make your own musical instruments.

Connie

 

 

 

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We Surrender!

Well, no we don’t , but those words did come from Ed’s mouth yesterday as we were leaving for a day trip to Independence.

As I walked out the back door, I looked out across our front pasture. None of the pastures were mowed last fall, and they are  overgrown. Something caught my attention, and I went back into the house for the camera. A plastic grocery bag, caught by the wind, was caught in a bare sapling. As Ed and Katherine turned to see what I was photographing, Ed laughed and said, “We surrender!”.  I had to admit, the bag did look like a white flag.

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See the white spot in the middle of the picture?

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Here’s  a closeup

We all had a giggle and got in the car.

Let me back up a minute. Night before last, late in the evening, we had a thunderstorm. Yes, that’s right. A thunderstorm in January, in northern Missouri. I didn’t see any lightning, but I did hear the thunder and the rain. It poured!  So, yesterday morning, everything was pretty soggy. On top of that, the weather must have remembered where it was, because it was windy and getting colder by the minute.

As we made our way along 116, Ed said that it looked like we might be going into some fog. We’ve had a lot of fog lately, so I really didn’t think that much about it until a few miles later. The air became cloudier and I had a moment when my mind had to make a small shift and remind me that fog does not blow across the road…no, snow does that.

Ed asked if I thought we should turn around. I didn’t, and we were out of it in a few miles.

The rest of the day went pretty much as planned, and we got home in the mid afternoon.

The dogs met Ed as he got out of the car. Then Meeko decided he should come across the driver’s seat to say hello to me. While Kat and I carried in groceries and other things, Ed went to plug the hole. It didn’t take long.  They have found a new place, but Ed will have to get more pallets before he can fix it permanently.

I think Ed is right about the free roaming dogs being the major catalyst behind the escapes, but I also think they might get a little bored. Let’s be honest, they have nothing but time when it comes to figuring out how to escape.

Kat and I have slowly eased back into school after the holidays, and this last week, in Biology, we looked at fungi.  We collected two different types from outside, as well as a mushroom from the fridge. She was able to get some spore samples and look at them under the microscope. Her overall takeaway is “Mushrooms are cool!” Next week, we move on to sea life. We’ll be starting some dissection soon. I’m not sure how well she will take to that.

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The three specimens

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Investigator Kat

Ed and I went to the monthly bee club meeting on Monday, and Ed was able to order new bees. They should be here in April.

Hope everyone enjoys their weekend!

Connie

Catching Up…Again

Where does the time  go?  I just keep losing track of it!

I know Ed was working on a post, but he got sidetracked too.

For both Ed and I, our focus lately has been on prayer for our friend and brother in the Lord, twenty-five year old Taylor Finley who started intensive chemotherapy this last week for stage four sarcoma. Our little town has come together in a big way to support him, but it is even more amazing what God has done through Taylor’s illness. If you follow us on Facebook, you can read all about him there.

As I told you last week, Kat and I started school again, so most of my day is tied up with that.  I love Charlotte Mason’s methods, but my visual-spatial daughter has some struggles with it, so we are needing to switch things up a bit.

The weather cannot decide what time of year it is.  Thursday, it was 55 degrees. James and I did some work on the cold frame…outside…without coats…in January.  Currently it is 25 degrees, and the low for tomorrow is supposed to be -3. There is a chance of snow and ice over the next few days too.  Kat and I brought some more wood in the house tonight just in case we need it. Pray for the best; prepare for the worst! That doesn’t mean that we don’t believe God will take care of us; it means that we understand that His idea of “best” isn’t always the same as ours!

The roosters finally came out of the coop, but I’m sure they’ll be “hibernating” again now.  Ed is working on plans to create a second coop so that we can keep both roosters. I’ll let him tell you about all that though. Maybe Monday.

Our last round of bad weather included more ice than snow and when the weather warmed, sheets of ice started slowly sliding off our roof. One day I was in the bedroom and I hard a loud rapping sound coming from outside. It kind of sounded like a woodpecker, and kind of not. I looked out the bedroom window, but didn’t see anything. I heard it again, so I went to look out the front door. That’s when I noticed the ice. The rapping was coming from directly over my head, so I went out onto the sidewalk to see the front of the house. From there, I  could tell the ice sheet had covered the gutter. The bird was trapped in the gutter. I went to get Ed. As he started to tell me that he didn’t know what we could do about it, the bird escaped from the end of the gutter.

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Looking straight up from the porch

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From the sidewalk

By the way, have you checked out the Back to Basics Living bundle yet? There really is a ton of great stuff in there. If you were to buy everything individually, you would have to pay over $500.00, but from the January 18-24 (next week), you can get it all for less than $50.00!

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I shared a little about the homeschooling part of the bundle last week, but that is the tip of the iceberg. It’s going to take me a while to get through everything, but I’m liking what I’ve seen so far. I’ve been looking over “Handmade Gifts from the Kitchen” by Stephanie Rose from Garden Therapy.  All kids of great ideas, and not just “gifts in a jar” either.
“Homesteading Without A Homestead” by Marie Beausoleil from Just Plain Marie, is full of great advice for starting where you are in the whole homesteading process.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Connie

 

Back to Basics Living Bundle Review: Homeschooling Fundamentals

700x470Are-you-ReadyI actually planned to get this out last week, but Life happened and I didn’t get it done.

Since Katherine and I started back to school last week, I thought I would start my review of the Back to Basics Living Bundle by picking something from the Homeschool category. There are six products:

The Naturalist Homeschool Planner
Back To Basics Homeshcool MP3 Collection
Color Coded Planner for Student
Easy Peasy Chores. Black and White Cards
Easy Peasy Chores. Color Cards
Homeschooling Fundamentals.

Ok, well, picking something was not as easy as it sounded, but I finally settled on Homeschooling Fundamentals by Tiffany Davis from the blog Imperfectly Happy

The plan was just to skim over it first, but Tiffany Davis’ style is so engaging, I read the whole thing. For someone just in their second year of homeschooling, like me, this 46 page eBook offers a load of encouragement.

Although her book isn’t technically divided into “chapters”, I’m going to use a chapter reference so I don’t lose you in the different sections. So, in the first chapter, the author introduces herself and tells about her own homeschooling journey. The second chapter, called “Getting Started” answers many questions that tentative homeschoolers ask. If she missed something, I don’t know what it would be.

The third chapter covers different homeschool methods, like Traditional, Classical, Unit Studies, Charlotte Mason, and Unschooling. She explains each method and discusses why someone might or might not choose that particular method. She closes the chapter by saying she uses an Eclectic method which means that she has borrowed parts of each method that work for her family.

Chapter four covers Spaces, Schedules and Accountability. She stresses the importance of being organized, without being a slave to organization. Chapter five covers the “S” word: Socialization. To quote Tiffany, “Unless you are a hermit that refuses to take your child outside, you’re going to be ok, and so are they!” (p.32).

The next chapter covers Coops and Classes, (including online classes) that can supplement what you are doing at home. In chapter seven, Tiffany discusses burnout, what it is, and ten tips for avoiding it. After just coming through a dry season myself, let me add a hearty Amen to those tips!

Chapter 8 section includes some some helpful links and book recommendations. The last section is an “About the Author” page, telling you more about Tiffany and providing a link to her website

If you are considering homeschooling, or are a novice homsechooler wondering what in the world you’ve done, This eBook offers some great advice and encouragement.

This eBook is one of many included in the Back to Basics Living Bundle which will be available for purchase from January 18th to January 24th. You can find out more about that here.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I hope your first day of 2016 got off to a glorious start! It is a cool 35 degrees here on the homestead, but the sun is shining!

It’s the day that so many of us start those famous (or infamous) New Year’s Resolutions to get healthy, lose weight, pray more, exercise more, spend more time with the family, and the list goes on.

No, this is not going to be a post about resolutions. Several of my blogger friends have written some good ones though like this one from Marie.

Ed and I are planning a “homestead meeting” for tomorrow morning before he and James go to work. We want to look at what we accomplished this year: the successes, the failures, and the reasons for both. We’ll share some of that with you next week. One thing that both us already know that we need to do is catch up on reading posts of our fellow bloggers!

As Ed told you Tuesday, the roosters don’t like the cold weather, and as of this morning, they still have not left the coop. Meeko and Libby are back to sharing the big straw-filled dog house. One day, the conditions will be right, and I will get video of Libby rearranging new straw. She’s like a kid at Christmas!

I went back to visit the kidney doctor yesterday, and testing revealed that I need to drink more water. He didn’t say one thing about cutting down on the coffee! Drink more water: I can live with that.

Last night, I was sitting here at my desk, and Loki brought me one of his favorite toys; an old squeaky ball. I took it from him to throw it and realized he had only given me half of it! The other half was in pieces all over the floor, and the Lord only knows where the squeaker is. I just hope he didn’t swallow it! It’s probably a good thing that he got a Kong dog toy for Christmas.

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Ummm….

Ed worked last night, but got home about 10:30. We stayed up to bring in the new year with Kat and drink our traditional glass of sparkling grape juice, but went to bed about 12:10. Yeah, we’re night owl party animals for sure!

I don’t remember if I ever told you, but I did get the onions planted before it got cold. The frame part of the cold frame is finished, but I don’t know if it is actually insulated enough to grown anything. I need to do a little more research. Does anyone know about testing soil temperatures?

I dug out a couple of rag rug projects and told myself that I will finish at least one of them this weekend. I already put all the Christmas decorations away, but I still need to get the house into some semblance of order.

Kat and I start back to school on Tuesday. I would have started Monday, but Ed is off that day, and we have errands to run. For school purposes,we will treat Monday like Saturday and have school on Saturday instead. I’ll let you know how that works.

Connie

P.S.
I have some exciting news coming, so be sure to check back with us next week, and I’ll fill you in!

Run, Run, Run!

Seems like all we did this week was run.

We made two 100 mile round trips to Liberty. and one 140 mile round trip to Independence this week, for doctor’s appointments and other personal business. Needless to say, we didn’t get much done on the homestead.

However, we did find a supplier for free wood pallets and other cool stuff from a store in Liberty. Look what we brought home yesterday!

wood frame with pallets in the background.

wood frame with pallets in the background.

Since we still don’t have the cold frame finished, Ed is thinking about using part of one of the pallets to frame the windows. Lord willing, his next two days off (Monday and Tuesday), will be “stay at home and catch up on projects” days.

Even with all the running, we did manage to get some school done. Most of what we did this week was literature. Since she was having to do a lot of sitting and waiting, I made her take books with her. She was not happy, but she did it. Today we started some Shakespeare, as well as reading “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” . Next week will have some “catch up on school” days as well.

The days that Ed worked, I got a few projects finished. I got some goldenrod picked and then I hung all my herbs out in the garage to dry.

goldenrod

goldenrod

drying herbs

drying herbs

I started drying them this way a few years ago, when we lived in Independence. I had a bumper crop of herbs and needed to get them all harvested before a forecasted frost. I crammed everything I could get into paper grocery sacks and stuck them on a shelf in the back of the house. Time got away from me and I didn’t get anything done with them. A few months later, I opened the bags, expecting to find rotted plant matter. What I found was perfectly dried herbs. I’ve been drying them that way ever since. The challenge this year was finding a place to hang the bags. I thought about the basement, but its too damp. I finally settled on the garage. I would have suspended them from the rafters, but I didn’t have any way to reach that high.

I also finished my first fall decorating project.

maple syrup bottle candle holders

maple syrup bottle candle holders

It’s the same concept as the blue ones I did awhile back. These are maple syrup bottles. I coated the inside with a shade of acryllic paint called “nutmeg”. Since the little handles are solid glass, I covered them with hemp rope. The leaves on the front are real maple leaves from the trees in our front yard. I coated them in about a ton of Mod Podge, to make them stay on. Then I tied on the raffia bows. I think they turned out well. The candles were too big for the bottles, so I had to whittle them down a little to make them fit. I guess that is as good a reason as any for learning to make my own candles!

Of course, on the days that Ed worked, we still had school, and Katherine still had to read. Here she is reading Les Miserables. Bookworm is reading along.

Kat and Bookworm reading Le Mis

Kat and Bookworm reading Le Mis

Ed is working on a series of posts about our critters, but I have to say something about Bookworm here. She is Captain’s daughter, from her first and only litter. At our last house, she practically lived outside. Now, she won’t go out unless we make her, and then she climbs the front door screen, yelling at us to let her back in. She divides her time between Katherine’s room and the tables in front of the picture window in the front room. I’m not sure what she was  thinking here. Maybe she thought she looked better in the pot than the avocado tree did.  That tree is tougher than it looks. It stood right back up when I made Bookworm move.

Bookworm in the avocado pot

Bookworm in the avocado pot

Our weather has been typical for Missouri fall. Two temperate days, one hot day, and then a “but I don’t want to turn on the furnace yet” day, and then back to a temperate day. We are getting very close to our average first frost dates, so I would really like to get some things finished outside soon. I also need to bring in some potted plants and herbs from the front yard. Then I’ll have to work on some interior lighting.

Hope everyone has a great evening!

Connie

Writing 101: When I’m Not Writing

This was the Day 11 assignment from Writing 101:

What do you do when you’re not writing? How do you reset and return to this dashboard, refreshed? What do you need in your day-to-day life to maintain balance: Running? Yoga? Gardening? Painting? Cooking?

Today, publish your post in any form you wish, as long as you focus on one or all of these questions.”

What do I do when I’m not writing? Every thing else!

The most important thing I do is spend time with the Lord. I talk to Him. I read my Bible, and sometimes some other devotional material. I write down scriptures from my reading that speak to me that particular day, and sometimes I write down prayers, and other thoughts. The earlier in the day I can do that, the better.

Then, of course, is the work of the homestead: Cooking, cleaning and caring for critters. There is gardening and foraging. Look at this beautiful Goldenrod. I recently found out that tea made from the flowers can help with kidney trouble.

Goldenrod

Goldenrod

Today, after we ran to town for groceries, Ed, Kat and I worked on expanding the chicken coop. Although Moonrise is much smaller than Sunrise; we’re pretty sure he is a rooster too. So, we will have to find some hens soon.

Sunrise and Moonrise

Sunrise and Moonrise

The almost done, expanded coop

The almost done, expanded coop

Then there is the homeschooling. I really like Charlotte Mason’s methods, but coordinating it all takes a lot of time and a lot of reading. The upside to that is that my daughter is getting a great education, and I’m improving on mine.

When I don’t have any of that to do, then I work on repurposing projects, practice piano and guitar, and try to learn new things for myself.

I try to check in with facebook at least once a day. I have a lot of family spread out across the country and that is the easiest way for us to stay in touch.

I really like Pinterest, but I could really waste a lot of time in there, and I can’t afford to do that right now.

At the end of the day, I try to come back and write it down to share with you. Sometimes I’m better off sleeping on it first.

Oh, and here are some pictures of a few other projects I’ve been working on.

My first refrigerator pickles. They were awesome!

Refrigerator Pickles

Refrigerator Pickles

Straining the mullein and plantain oil that I started in July. Now I can make plantain salve. I put some of the mullein oil in a recycled brown bottle with an eye dropper. That way, it will be ready should one of us have an ear ache.

plantain in oil

plantain in oil

straining the plantain

straining the plantain

mullein oil

mullein oil

Remember the day I was going to take pictures and it rained? Well, as promised here are some pictures of my painted junk. I’m thinking of planting clematis around the bike, and turning the baskets into fairy gardens. There are some rather sickly cone flowers (echinacea) between the pots.

painted junk

painted junk

Here is some of my not painted junk as well as some nice mums I bought at the flower shop here in town. You can see my tin man and some other stuff in the back ground.

Not painted junk and mums

Not painted junk and mums

This is my latest project. I got the idea from something I saw on Pinterest. Those are olive oil bottles that I coated on the inside with acrylic paint. You just pour some paint in and swish it around until it coats the bottle. I want to do my kitchen and dining room in these colors…someday.

painted bottle candle holders

painted bottle candle holders

Anyway, that is just some of what I do when I am not writing.

Connie

Let the Horror Begin!

That is what Katherine said as we started school this morning. Yeah, that was encouraging. Well, we made it through the day with only one meltdown. Although, I guess you could call it a double, because we both got pretty hot. Fifteen-year-olds with attitudes are so much fun. Yeah, right.

The rest of the week was just as busy as last week. I did get my herbs harvested, but haven’t done anything with them yet. I got the strawberry bed mulched, and cleaned out the mess in the driveway that runs into the basement/garage. We had stuff sitting out there covered with tarps, and the tarps were useless. The garbage man had a busy day. Oh well; it’s just stuff.

harvested sage, rosemary, oregano, thyme, parsley, basil and mint.

harvested sage, rosemary, oregano, thyme, parsley, basil and mint.

Katherine and I pulled out some old tires and an old bike we’re going to turn into yard art, and scrubbed them down with dish soap. Now, I just have to get the paint.

scrubbing the bike, tires, and other things.

scrubbing the bike, tires, and other things.

Speaking of paint: We have a ton of paint left by the previous owner. Most of it is interior latex paint. Any ideas about what to do with it? She and I have totally different tastes in color schemes. Most of it is pastels, except for a really bright “melon”. Not my thing at all.

I do want to share a few things with you that I’ve learned in the last few weeks. You know I can barely stand to throw anything away if I think I can do something with it. Well, I have been reading for years about things to do with toilet paper and paper towel tubes, and have a bunch in a bag. Last week I was fighting with two different glue guns and a glue pot, trying to untangle their cords. I was about to roll the cords around their respective owners when the bag of tubes caught my eye. Ok, it’s not pretty, but it really works! As for the pretty part. I covered coffee cans with scrap book paper and old dictionary pages to make tube collectors that sit on the back of the toilet.

cords in tubes

cords in tubes

tube can

tube can

Since I keep all glass jars and bottles, I have spent a lot of time trying to remove labels. Then a few weeks ago, I read this blog post. She is absolutely right. Wow that works! Only don’t leave them to soak over night. Your jars will be clean, but the cold washing soda will set up in the bottom of your sink around the drain plug. Using, vinegar, running water, a table knife, and about thirty minutes time, we finally got it out.

washing soda hard as rock in the sink

washing soda hard as rock in the sink

petrified washing soda

petrified washing soda

Some time over the last few weeks, and I honestly don’t remember where I read it, there was something that said you could spray a table spoon of Epsom Salts diluted in a gallon of water on your peppers and they would produce better. Since mine weren’t producing at all, what did I have to loose? So I sprayed them. Of course, it could be a coincidence, but my peppers are blooming like crazy and I actually have a few small peppers growing. I’ll keep you posted. I took some pictures, but you can’t tell what from what with all the green.

Oh, here is a picture of our pitiful potato crop. Our neighbor, Mr “A” says he doesn’t “fool with potatoes”, for that very reason.

pitiful potatoes

pitiful potatoes

The other day, I noticed something growing in front of the barn doors that I thought I should know. I had to wait for blooms to be sure, but it’s mallow! I’ll tell you about it in my next post, as well some info about preserving herbs.

Mallow!

Mallow!

Connie

Yes, We’re All Ok

It’s just been a crazy week.

In the last 10 days, Ed has had one day off: yesterday. Of the nine days he worked, he has put in mostly nine and ten hour days, in addition to the hour or so drive time. The drive time has extended too, due to road construction. He’s spent what little spare time he’s had, building the chicken coop. I know he’ll want to tell you about that, but I will tell you that it’s finished enough for the chicks to be in it, in relative safety.

Since yesterday was his only day off, we had to run all day. First was a trip to the vet for Libby. I was concerned because she seems to be losing weight. She’s always had trouble with flea dermatitis, and I wanted to take care of that too. It was our first visit with that vet, and it won’t be the last. He was very good, and he didn’t charge us an arm and a leg. He said that Libby’s issues are more than likely flea related and he put her on the flea pill. We took care of her shots while we were there. He told us we could just bring Meeko over and he could get his shots and a flea pill. He wouldn’t charge us for an exam. You can’t beat that.  We brought Libby home, and headed back out for the hour drive to Liberty. We were home long enough to put groceries away before I had to be at a Sisters-in-Service meeting at church, and Ed the men’s Bible study out at the preacher’s farm. It was a long day.

What am I doing while Ed is working?  To be honest, since we started the Whole 30, I’ve spent most of my time in the kitchen. Since processed foods are out (as well as grains, dairy, and legumes),  I am spending a whole lot more time cooking. There is no “grabbing a sandwich”. There is a whole lot more clean up too. The up side is that I have energy to do it all. Looser fitting clothes are a bonus too. We have ten days left before we enter the “reintroduction” stage.

When I haven’t been cooking, I’ve been planning for school, which we start next week. I did have one day where I was able to get outside and do some clean up. That is when I got our Thursday picture of the week. I went out to the barn to look for something that I had misplaced (that happens a lot), and saw this guy on the door. I called Kat to bring my camera, and we used hers for scale.

Kat and the praying mantis as long as her phone

Kat and the praying mantis as long as her phone

Lord willing, I’ll be able to get the herbs harvested tomorrow, and set to preserving them. Oh, we harveseted the potatoes this morning. It was disappointing. I’ll share more about that next time.

Connie

This, That, and The Other Thing

Last weekend marked our first anniversary on the homestead. This weekend will mark a year since my accident. A lot has changed in the last year, and in some ways, not nearly as much as we would have liked. However, in all things we are thankful to God. He allowed us to get this place, and He kept me from being crushed under the wheels of my son’s car. Life is good!

Earlier this week, when we were out feeding the dogs, I told Ed that although we seem to have the ticks under control, the dogs (Libby particularly) were still infested with fleas. He suggested we bathe them Thursday morning since he didn’t have to be at work until three. I thought that was a good idea. By the way, the DIY tick repellant recipe that I use on the dogs, as well as the one for us, can both be found here. It works great for ticks, but like I said, the fleas are still a huge issue.

So, early Thursday morning, Ed, Kat and I, did dog bathing duty. We hadn’t bathed them since we moved. Bathing them at our last house was a super challenge. If you are interested, you can read about that, and a couple year’s worth of other dog and cat stories here. (I went back and read Ed’s post about that bathing, and noting his analogy and vocabulary choices, I am amazed at how much the Lord has worked on that man!) Of course, he told you a lot about Libby yesterday. I  can add a little information: Before I got Libby, I was told she was a “pure bred Lab”. Obviously, she isn’t. As I’ve often said, “She’s no more pure bred Lab then I am!” You cannot bribe her with food. She just dosen’t care. Our last vet witnessed this and told me that training her was going to be challenging. He was right: Libby is now eight years old, and she still won’t come when she’s called, if she has something better to do.

Anyway, back to the bath. Now we have outside water spigots and hoses; things that make dog bathing oh so much easier. I recorded the bathing this time, but compared to years past, it was a non-event. The highlight of the bathing was probably Meeko running past Libby a little too closely and hitting her right in the jaw with his hard head! Besides, from where I placed the camera, most of what you see is our backsides. Nobody needs to look at that! We don’t even want to look at it!

Speaking of big backsides. Today, we are starting the Whole 30. I will keep you posted as we go through our thirty days of eating only meat, veggies, fruit and healthy fats. No grains, no legumes, no dairy and definitely no sugar or processed foods. I’ve already been doing a modified version of that as we used up food we already have, and I’m feeling pretty good.

Also, earlier this week, Kat and I carried some things out to the barn. While we were there, I wanted to check the two rooms that have doors where we have been storing holiday decorations, things that belong to my boys, and the majority of my book collection.

To be honest, I was most concerned about the books. I had seen rodent evidence around the barn, and I didn’t want them nesting in my books. I turned on the light and stepped up into the room. I had started to check some of the boxes; shaking them first and listening for anything moving. Then I heard Katherine express some surprise. I honestly don’t remember what she said, but when I turned to look, she was pointing at the floor that I had just stepped over.

There was a rather large snake skin. I think I may have jumped. I really don’t like snakes! Intellectually, I understand that there are good snakes and poisonous snakes, but the scared to death side of me doesn’t pay much attention to intellect. My second thought was that if that skin was in this closed room, it’s previous owner might be in here too! We went back to the house.

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Kat and the snake skin. She thought it was cool!

Later that evening, I relayed the incident to Ed, showing him the skin that we brought back to the house with us. He said, “Well, he’ll keep the rats and mice out of your books.” “Yes,” I replied, “and he’ll keep me out of them too!”

We’re still debating on whether we should give up on the garden for this year. It’s really over grown and not producing much. The pole beans have been showing us lots of lovely blooms, and very little bean. If anyone has any ideas about that let us know. Since we were told the previous owners had their garden in the same place we have ours, we are both thinking that we should compost and mulch that area well, and then let it be fallow for a year. That way, if the soil is as depleted as we think it is, it will have a chance to recover. If we can get a cold frame built, I am thinking about a fall garden with some greens and broccoli, cauliflower etc.

beanless beans

beanless beans

I am also working on pulling together what I need for this home school year. We are switching to the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling, which means shorter lessons on a wider range of subjects. We will still be using Life of Fred for Math. We will be reading from many different books, some of which I already have, and some I will have to order. Amazon and I have become great friends! I would love to be able to take advantage of their affiliate program, but Amazon and the state of Missouri had issues, so I can’t. Anyway, for Kat and I, school starts September first!

Speaking of home school. Last year, during Botany, we stuck some tooth picks in an avocado seed and put it in a glass of water. Now, we have a nice looking start on an avocado tree. Don’t expect to ever bear fruit here, but it is a nice looking house plant. I just have to keep Adora from laying in it.

avocado seed

avocado seed

avocado plant

avocado plant

Well I guess that’s enough this, that and the other for now. Have a great weekend!

Connie