Thursday, August 30, 2012

Time to Clip Those Wings!

Our turkeys are going to be free range... but we still need to keep them close to home, so it was time to clip their flight wings on one side.  It doesn't hurt them... it's much like a hair cut, except we don't use our hair for flight or balance.  Our turkeys are getting big enough to fend for themselves against predators and they can still get high enough to get away from anything chasing them.  We also introduced them to their pasture last night and they LOVED it!   After their clipping they were markedly nervous about us being in their pen and were eerily silent... but as soon as they got out in the grass... the sound changed... it's almost a cooing sound.  They were incredibly happy to be outside.  They started chasing bugs and nibbling the high grass.  It was amazing to watch.  They also moved and stayed together as a flock, which was something I was worried about, as they get bolder and more comfortable outside, I'm sure some of the Toms will get bold enough to chart new territories with a few hens, but for now- they were one big mass of turkeys.  I'm so excited and yet so nervous about this season.  I want to keep our turkeys safe... but we can't just keep them inside, that's not what they were made to do.

They will be healthier and happier with a daily dose of outdoor adventure... but won't we all?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


You'd think we'd all be used to waiting by now.  It's how we start life... waiting for labor to begin.  We spend seasons waiting for the next one to begin.  We sleep waiting for dawn.  Much of our life is a waiting game... but I am starting to learn that amidst waiting there is life to be lived.  Sometimes I become so paralyzed in the wait that I forget there are still adventures in the now... and thought my heart is set on the horizon, I need to focus my eyes on the path I am on or I just might stumble through (or over) lessons I need to learn now.

I closed my Main Street yarn shop three months ago.  I thought my new shop would be open by now and that my goal would be achieved... but I'm waiting.  The shop is on indefinite hold.  The more I thought, prayed and weighed the costs (both financial and emotional), I realized that I was getting the cart before the horse... err... sheep.  Building a workshop to process fiber is still in my goals... but it's still evolving.   Building the shop before having the sheep who's fiber I'm going to process seemed to rushed... and rushing was part of the reason I closed the shop... to simplify my family's life and to be more present as we move to more self-sufficiency.   So we look towards building a barn and fencing in a pasture for our future sheep and we wait.   The shop will wait as well... when the timing is right I'm sure to see her again.

Recently we applied for a grant through our local ag council... we didn't get picked on the first round.  Disappointing... but there's a chance they will pick us the next time... or the next, so more waiting.  There's also more research to be done into other grants, there's sheep farms and shepherds to visit, and there's more waiting.

All in all it's a time of perseverance.  I'm okay with this... part of the homesteading lifestyle is cultured in patience.  In delayed gratification.   And as is true on the farm... there's never a day when there isn't something to be done... life to be lived.  Here in the now.   And so we wait.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

“Rain clouds come floating in, not to muddy my days ahead, but to make me calm, happy and hopeful.” ― Rajuda

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Moments...

A sweet friend at church surprised me with a birthday present-- a beautiful handsewn apron!You see, I've recently become obsessed with aprons (not to mention find them EXTREMELY handy!!)I love wearing this out to the clothesline... the giant pocket holds my clothespins perfectly!
And it has CHICKENS on it! 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

My grandmother is amazing.

Hers was the first phone number I ever memorized.  She cared for me and my siblings as my parents both worked to provide for our family.  She and my grandfather are proud parents of four and proud grandparents of over 20 and now great grandparents of... let me do the math on this one... 11 and a half (my sister's little boy is still on the way).  She is a recent breast cancer survivor.  I'm proud to be her granddaughter and so thankful that she is still in my life.  Love you gramma.  Happy 84th birthday.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My Clothesline...

So I finally got my clothesline...  I convinced the husband to spend part of his day off digging post holes and burying fenceposts... then I convinced my children to paint it with me.  Today, we ran up to the hardware store for a few bolts and away we went!  When we got home tonight, it was sprinkling, but we would NOT be detoured!  As the rain began to fall we were still working away!  Huge thanks to my sweet husband who made this possible and to my three little elves who helped to paint! 

I am so excited to use this!  I'm actually going to run a load of laundry before I go to bed tonight and before I leave to run errands in the morning I'm going to get them up up on the line! :)  Now, that's crazy clothesline love.  

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Moments...

I keep a "eucharisteo" journal, or thankfulness journal as part of a study I've been reading with some friends from church.   This was one of yesterday's entries.   I like to rescue, I like to help, but there are times I need rescuing.   Yesterday was one of those days.  It's a very helpless feeling... I was unsure of how to solve the problem I was in.  I said a quick "help me" prayer...  but honestly I said it very haughtily... I believe the second thought after my prayer was "no one is going to help you"... but I'm lucky enough to have a friend who can tell amazing stories of analogy on the drop of a hat, and bold enough to literally stand in my place and do that.  Thank you friend.  Humility and gratefulness-- lesson learned.

Friday, August 17, 2012

We've Got Eggs!

Just two little eggs, but eggs none the less!  The ladies had begun laying down a lot mid-day.  I've not even taken the time yet to look this up to see if it's a sign of their readiness for egg laying.  But none the less, when we went in to refill their food and water there they sat... two beautiful eggs!  Thanks chickens!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Turkey Chase!

One of our little turkeys took the boys and I for a run today.  We were getting their food and I was trying to get some good shots of how big they are getting, when one of the boys tripped and spooked one of the Spanish Blacks and out the door he went.   The poor little guy instantly knew he was away from home and started "peeping" for his family.  But the closer I got to him, the further away from them he went and eventually he flew right out of the barn!  The chase ensued!   We laughed, we ran, we clapped, we laughed some more... all the while the poor little guy was just a wall away from his family and between trying to listen to his family's cries and being scared and in a foreign place (read: high grass) he was so confused.

A short while later, he hopped back into his pen- a better option than being flanked by three little boys and a frantic photo happy mama.

And for those pictures showing off how big the turkeys are getting... here's a pic of me and one of our Royal Palm Toms (we're starting to see signs of spurs and their coloring is rapidly changing).

So handsome. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mini Frozen Yogurt Pies!

So... the husband and I are always looking for healthy snacks and sweets.   Tonight he wanted pie.  I didn't have the makings for pie... not even graham crackers to make a crust with.  So... I improvised a bit!  We have light yogurt in the fridge that the kids decided they didn't like b/c of the chunks of fruit in it (not my favorite either--those chunks of fruit are texturally just gross.),we have some animal crackers, we have almonds and local honey. Good on ingredients.  But then, I couldn't decide on flavor... so I grabbed my silicone cupcake liners and I was set!  And at less than 50 calories per pie... perfect snack!

Here's the recipe!

1 c animal crackers (crushed)
1/2 c almonds
2 tbs honey
4 light yogurt cups of your choice (I chose key lime, cherry, strawberry and blueberry)

First, put animal crackers and almonds into food processor and chop until fine.   Mix honey and cracker/almond blend in bowl, should become a chunky mix resembling brown sugar.  Place a spoonful of crust mix into bottoms of silicone cups.  Spoon 1/3 of yogurt cup on top of the crust in each cup.  Freeze.  To eat right away, freeze for 15 minutes, then eat!  It will still be soft enough to spoon up, but cold and frosty!  If you it lasts longer than that... you will want to let them set out and soften up a bit before eating.  Enjoy!

A Quiet House...

I'm sitting in my house... alone.  It's a rare thing.   I know it won't last long... so enhances the value of these moments.  Mostly because it's in these times that I get to refocus myself.  There's no music playing, there's no television on... the dogs are even asleep... so it's just sweetly still.  As luck would have it, right now it's even still enough that I heard a bird singing outside.  So as not to lead you on to believe that I'm living this fairytale existence... I will explain why these moments mean so much to me.  I love the sounds of boys at play-- but boys at horseplay or worse yet, boys fighting is my nails on the chalkboard.  And we have a lot of both.

We are in our elementary and preschool years, so there's a lot of heavy competition going on at all. waking. moments.  It's a beautiful and terrifyingly ugly thing.  I love that they love to be with each other (I don't have any loners in the group... they simply love being together--even when they are fighting, none of them storm off- at least not for long), but sometimes you go to bed at night, hoping that they will hit the magic reset button overnight and wake up slowly and peacefully... but then they are yelling and throwing toys and tantrums and it's not even dawn yet.  

And then I hear the wisdom of those who have children older than me and they say "Cherish it, these days don't last long enough." And I hear the aching longings of dear friends struggling to conceive and they say "Cherish it, we want to have those moments and they aren't within our reach, yet" and I stop.  Usually, I stop too late.  I've already reacted in anger at my boys.  I've already broken their hearts with my own frustrations... and I forget to cherish.  I forget to be kind.  I forget to teach my children in these moments of anger and disagreement, because I'm too busy proving that I'm louder than they are.  

Then comes a night, just a few times a month when the husband takes the kids out with him to church and let's me have a night to refocus.  I have a list of things I would like to get done while they're gone.   I'm looking at a table still cluttered from supper, I'm looking at knitting project still unfinished, I'm looking at a counter with flour and sugar still dusting the top from baking cookies last night, I'm looking at a dirty kitchen floor that could use a good mopping... what better time to do any of these things than right now while I'm alone?!   I won't get to all of those things.   In a moment, I will choose one to do and complete before they get home.  If I get lucky determined, I may squeeze in two... but I've already got the best gift... and that is clarity.   And my clarity shows me that my noisy, messy house is noisy and messy because of my noisy, messy kids.  And yes, I will clean it up, it won't always be messy and it won't always be noisy, but neither will they... so I will enjoy my quiet moments, but I will live for the ones that aren't so much. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Saturday, August 11, 2012

How I adore my fowl feathered friends...

the General and his ladies living the free range life
 I truly love my chickens.  Its seems odd saying that... but I love having them.  I love my turkeys, too.  I love feeding them, I love watching them, I love caring for them.  Everything about fowl farming... I love.

A friend was recently staying with us and asked me as I sat next to the chicken run feeding clover to the birds "If 10 years ago, someone told you this would be your life, would you have believed them?"  No.  I would not have.   22 year old me, working full time at a pharmaceutical company, living in the Chicago suburbs, probably would have missed the appeal of farm life.   After a post recently on Facebook, someone said "Girl, you were born in the wrong era".  To that, I can whole-heartedly disagree.   If this was just commonplace, I don't know if I could enjoy it how I do.  This homesteading life is a counter-culture choice.   It's not for everyone... but it is for me. Part of it feeds the inner-rebel in me, the rest of it just feeds my joy and excitement for learning.

are you my mother?
Back to my chickens.  I'm personally invested in my baby chicks.  I have been since receiving their eggs from dear friends of ours.  We turned them by hand in the incubator, we watched them hatch, we've watched them grow.  They know my voice.  They trust my hand.  Our bigger hens will come to me for dinner time, but don't particularly like me.  They don't dislike me, but it's just not the same relationship I have with my incubated chicks.  I'm so fond of them.   I love to call to them and watch them run to the side of their run... I love how they will sit and sleep in my lap and let me pet them.   They are sweet.

We are still waiting on eggs.  We thought it could be as early as this month... so we check eagerly everyday.   With as hot as it's been lately, it could be a while... but it still makes me hesitate every time I go to buy eggs at the store.

So... it a love affair.  I become overwhelmingly happy when I see my chickens out and about free ranging... and when I put them up and call to them.  I don't know exactly what it is.... something very maternal, I am sure.  I just love them.  This may not be the life I would have chosen for myself 10 years ago... but I'm so glad it's where I am now.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Share-worthy Zucchini Bread! *Sugar and Oil Free*

So with all the zucchini we've been harvesting... I knew I needed to get going on processing them for future use! With 20 lbs of zucchini grated and pulpified and frozen... I used a bit to  play with a new recipe for a zucchini bread that I could mix fruits and flavors into after they've been poured.  After my boys devoured two loaves and my friends helped finish the other two, I knew I had found a winner!

  • 3 1/4 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups splenda or sugar substitute of your choice
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Fruit/chopped nuts/ or chocolate chips of your choice (1/2 cup per standard loaf pan or 1/4 cup for mini)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon and sweetener. In a separate bowl, combine applesauce, eggs, water, zucchini and lemon juice. Mix wet ingredients into dry.  Pour into loaf pans (either 2 standard loaf pans or four mini loaf pans), sprayed with nonstick spray.  Fold into batter and fold while in pan (this way you can individualize your loaves). Bake for 45 min- 1 hour, or until a tester comes out clean.  Devour.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday Moments

My little vet helping his Pop Pop with a calf who was abandoned by its mama. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Let's Do the Time Warp Again...

You know those moments, when sitting around a table laughing as hard as you can with dear friends can suddenly act as a time machine?  When a decade suddenly disappears before your eyes?  I had that magical experience this weekend with some of my dearest friends.  Sitting around the table, with tears streaming down our faces, we were suddenly back in our college dorm.  Not all friendships can do this dance.   We all live in different places now, hundreds of miles apart... being grown ups in very diverse lives.  But all we had to do was turn on a 90s mix tape and pour our hearts out and dance... and we just began our weekend as if no time had gone by.  I think I probably slept a total of 5 hours all weekend... and I may have overdosed on caffeine... but it was all worth it.  It was refreshing to the core of me.   So thankful to my mother in law and husband for making this weekend possible.  It was a gift.

Megan- "My Life With Freckles"
Saying all of that... I want to introduce you to one of my sweet friends.  She's an amazing blogger.  She's witty and hilarious.... and can weave an fantastic story of life into an analogy of Saved By the Bell.  She reminds me to be nice when my "funniness" crosses the line into mean, but then laughs at me anyway.   I'm proud to know her and I'm honored that she is my friend.   I'm secretly hoping that this post will encourage her to write more often because the world needs more of the beauty that she has in that heart of hers.

This whole weekend was just such a treasure.  Just a step to the left... and a jump to the riiiiiiight.  :)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Revelations for the coming year...

Yesterday was July 31... it means today is the first day of August (genius, I know) and that yesterday was my birthday.   We had big plans.  We were going to get up early and load up the car and take the boys on a surprise trip to a close by amusement park.   But, the best laid plans of mice and men...

First, the youngest boy fell asleep in the car on the way home from the grocery store, and since we were so close to bedtime, I let him sleep while the older boys and the husband and I watched the Olympics.  Well, he rallied.  He woke up around 9:30- ready for dinner and ready to play.  He also found a caffeinated beverage on the table that his big brother hadn't finished and topped that off.  So... needless to say... we were up late.  Around 1:30 am- he finally wound down and I was able to go to bed.  Around 3:30, the husband woke up and said he felt chilled.  Odd for a warm summer night.  And before I even reached over to feel his head, I could feel the heat coming off from him.  Fever.  So back downstairs I went for some water and medicine to help him shake it off.   My vision was blurry- but I chalked it up to being tired.  But when I woke up a few hours later, I couldn't open my eyes at all.  Allergy attack.  My eyes were swollen shut.  After a few frustrated tears of plans going downhill- I took some Claritin and went back to bed.   Upon waking, realizing that I had literally slept half of my birthday away, we decided to try to go out... we went out for fro-yo and a movie (which thanks to my eyes I had to wear my sunglasses through!) and then picked up our favorite Take-and-Bake pizza (think Subway for pizza- they make it fresh right in front of you!) for dinner.  Added in some Olympic games (love that they fell on my birthday this year!  That doesn't always happen).  And my birthday was complete!

Anyway... now it's August!  Time to turn my attention to all three boys starting school this month.  The oldest will begin 3rd grade, the middle in 1st and my baby is heading to preschool this year.  Getting the house together is so important to me because I want to help create an environment that helps calm the chaos that schooltime brings.  With three boys, our house can look and sound like a war zone sometimes.  I don't mind getting in the trenches with them, but I don't like standing in the opposite trench fighting against them.  So, I want to proactively provide ways to help support them, and some of that starts here in the house.

Also, when I closed my shop, I promised everyone that I would get back to my yarn business in August.  We are pausing right now on thoughts of the workshop/studio here on the farm-- that's a whole post for another day-- I still don't have all the right words in my head.  BUT--I DO have yarn to dye and yarn to sell!  So starting tomorrow, August 2nd, my etsy shop will be reopened!  I have rovings and handspun yarn to list and I will be "destashing" a lot of my retail inventory at reduced prices as well!  And for the month of August- FREE SHIPPING :)  So... I will be a busy little bee indeed!   Happy August everyone!  May it be a refreshing month of new beginnings and new seasons!