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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Church and Community... A Woman's Stream of Consciousness

 We love our current church. LOVE it! The worship, the pastor's sermons (we learn sooo much weekly), the connection our kids feel to leaders and teachers, the outreaches the church is involved in constantly amazes me... so what could possibly be the issue?

 Well, it's 30 minutes away. Definitely not in our community.

 While that may not seem like a big deal to some, Farmer and my hearts have become passionate about creating a sense of community in our... community. We feel like it's something that is really missing in our culture. It's such a transient one and while it's so very nice to be able to get in your van and drive and distance not a big deal anymore, we feel it's also taken away from our communities and the connection of those around us. There's always gotta be pros and cons to everything, right?!

 That is a big topic though and one I don't know if I can put into words the right way. It involves a motto of "If you don't like it, help change it!" though. But my thinking hasn't quite figured it all out yet (haha), so I'll stop there.

  But I'll try to put into words what is on my heart for this subject... and MAYBE I can sort through my ponderings a little more by doing it...

  When envisioning our future, being a "pillar" of the community has always seemed something to strive for. But we can't be that if we aren't actively IN our community. That seems pretty obvious, but can be harder to put into action than it seems.

  This year we enrolled our older boys in our local school. Now, more than ever, it seems wise to start investing in the community our children will grow up in. Their friends will be from there, their sports teams will play there, etc.
  Even though I volunteer at our amazing Children's Hospital, it was time to start volunteering on a more local level too. So I joined the PTA... my first year and I'm a little nervous, but I think it will go well. Farmer is getting back into his former FFA Alumni Club to start helping them out this year.

  But it doesn't seem like enough.

 I just have this feeling that we should be going to a church that is closer to us. When I brought this upto Farmer, he was quick to agree (the distance is what gets him). One that consists of our neighbors and those that surround us during our everyday lives. One that will include my children's classmates and other school parents. One that reaches out to ----------- (insert town name) and nearby people, with their unique problems and issues.

 Sigh. It's rough though. We love our church so much. But they've set a high bar for showing Christ's love, sharing His message, and kindness to it's community and nearby ones. One that convicts Farmer and I to do the same in our own. 

 We are starting to visit some nearby churches. We know we will never find one like our current one (each church has to be unique), but we are searching for one close to home. One that we can be a part of, that we can serve in, one that reaches out to it's surrounding people, etc.  There is a very small church near us (in fact, it's the church my husband grew up in) that has struck a chord with me. Everyone knows everyone there and has been very welcoming. It's one that makes me think we can grow into it.

But we are still praying for guidance and visiting around.

I just spoke on the phone with my sister in another state and her and her family just went through the EXACT same situation. They are now attending a small church 5 minutes from their house. She was so encouraging. It made me feel as though I'm not alone in all my thoughts.

So I guess I wrote this post to try to sort out my own thoughts and, to let any of those who may be going through the same thing, know you are not alone either!

It's a big subject, but I feel like I'm working my way towards something good. And relying on Jesus for guidance, brings peace.

That's all for now folks...

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Last Year's Canning List Revisited and Thoughts

It's amazing what spending 1 day at home can do for... a home! After a whirlwind (and I mean whirlwind) month my house looked like it had been through... a whirlwind. Okay, I'll stop repeating myself now... couldn't help it!

As I finished sorting toys, tipping couches over to clean under them, organizing shelves, cleaning upstairs, I paused to look at my canned good shelving... I've been needing to count how many jars of canned goods I have left from last year before I started this year's venture of canning. As fate (or messy, artsy children) would have it, a pen and a small notebook lay on the floor at my feet.

It was the most satisfying chores I did that day.


So this is last year's list: 2013 List

    What we BARELY went through and will not need to can any of this year:

beets (Farmer was on such a pickled egg kick during canning season, I was sure we'd use them)

jams (my kids just want honey on everything and because it's so good for them and free, I cater to them!) though I did do some strawberry already

dried fruit

    What we didn't go through as much and will reduce this year's canning amount:

applesauce... fresh applesauce is just sooooo amazing and I made it all fall, my kids got spoiled on it and griped about canned applesauce.    -I do plan on trying my hand at keeping apples through the winter though... my mother-in-love offered up her basement as an experiment lab

    What I wish I canned more of:

peaches (though our state lost ALL their peaches and are having to get them trucked in, which makes for a pricey peach). If I can find the place that sells them for $25 a bushel that an Amish lady told me about, I will can just 4 bushels though)

green beans


salsa (I still have some jars left, but I used it very sparingly and I think bought some from time to time... silly me!)

     What I wished I would have canned, but never got around to:

pinto beans

kidney beans

tomato sauce

    What I got perfectly right:

spaghetti sauce

freezer corn (though with our plot of corn we may get more... which is great!)

freezer zucchini

freezer pumpkin puree


                        Stay tuned for this year's Canning List and the start of an adventure!

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Pitchfork

 You remember the shit shovel I got for last Mother's Day, don't you? (if not, click here).

Well, Farmer really outdid himself now... this was my Mother's Day/Anniversary present this year...

Thoughtful Farmer broke the handle of my old one (let's just say there was a 7 month old calf charging my sweet man and in self defense, he knocked the calf out cold... he recovered, but my handle did not) and, as a friend pointed out, "He must really love you if he bought you a new pitchfork and not just a new handle." Heartwarming, eh?

Cleaning out this lower barn is proving to be quite the sweaty, dusty workout and I pray we don't come down with "farmer's lung" the 3x a day I am in it (the kids come with me usually 2x). The pitchfork really has been invaluable though.

 So while it wasn't a pedicure and flowers as I'd been hoping (can I get a "word" for farmwife feet?), I'm pretty pleased. And I'll be spending some of my egg money on the above mentioned this Thursday. Even farmwives want pretty feet. And a break.

Most can't picture me in a zebra printed chair, reading a celebrity magazine, and being pampered, but, oh, it's a too infrequent joy of mine. But I pick Allis Chalmers orange toe polish because that whole "you can take a girl out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the girl" line. It's true.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Some Farm Highlights

It's been so long since I've last posted, I kind of don't know where to begin. To begin where I last left off seems impossible and too overwhelming, so a bit of randomness seems much more in order.

This past week, much like the previous 4, was full of goings-on. It's kind of foggy when it began, but I have become farm parts runner and children runner and errand runner and that involves a lot of... running. Consuming days and leaving me with the "what the heck did I do today or yesterday or the day before that?" as I stare at my disaster of a home in the evening. I asked Farmer if we could have someone come and help deep clean the house with me or take the kids to a babysitter so I could do it uninterrupted, but his firm, "No, you are capable." leaves me feeling a bit of shame.

Everything gets piled on top of something else and new summer projects come rolling in week after week. It's good... and chaotic with a hint of drowning.

Why did I think all of this would get easier when the kids got older? Sigh. I guess when people would look at me with my 4 hooligans, aged 4 and under, and say, "You must be so busy! How do you do it?" I assumed that that meant it gets less busy as they are older. I was wrong. Boy howdy, was I wrong.

Enough rambling...

Some recent farm life highlights:

-Sissy, our holstein, is fresh now. I'm amazed at how much more milk holsteins give vs. jerseys... and how much less cream there is. Farmer is still training her to go in her stanchion nicely so until then he is doing the milking. His mom was gored by a holstein with horns (much like Sissy) years ago, so this is why he is so cautious about it.

-Our first batch of meat chickens went to the butcher last Friday. Farmer was just going to drive up and then come home to do some work, then have me pick up the frozen birds later, but he ran into Cardhawk, who was also processing his birds. They found themselves giddy with no wives, no children, and no work, so they spent the day frollicking (that's how I like to picture them, at least) the county... visiting lumber mills, Amish ware stores, and I think a petting zoo. Crafty Lady and I were a bit on the jealous side, to say the least. Farmer's peace offering was a horn of colby jack cheese, 2 1-gallon mason jars, and a box of 1/2 gallon mason jars. He was forgiven. And now it's my turn for a break!

-The garden is planted... not how I want, but it's planted. I hate planting so much (am I allowed to say that and still be a farmer's wife? I do love to weed, but it's because I can see my work immediately.) and Farmer had no time to help me plant, so he put sweet corn in the corn planter and planted it all in corn. I have a few tomato, green bean, and bell peppers planted, but it looks like I'll be buying beans and tomatoes to can off the Amish again. I'm not apologizing... even though a farming friend lit into me about it. I can only do so much before having a mental breakdown... and I'm close. So this is all for the good. Better to buy veggies and be sane for the husband and kids than to be straight-jacketed mama in an institution.

-Corn is planted and Farmer is anxious to start cutting hay. Rain, rain, go away this week, come again next week. I don't feel like talking about all the field stuff though. We rarely see that man as it is. What's his name again?

-I fixed our push mower!... then I broke it again. And when I saw "again", I mean for the 3rd time THIS mowing season. But now I know how to put on new propeller blades so I don't even need to inform Farmer when this happens the next time. And I'm not kidding myself, there will be a next time. I get all my pent up frustration out when I mow every week, so I mow and I don't stop... t posts, rocks, 3-seater swing hooks... just keep mowing. heeeehehehheeeee. Scared yet?

-Trying to lean on Farmer less and less (with a happy heart still... albiet that doesn't always happen) as he gets more and more busy, so I'm also trying my hand at the weed whacker too. And trying to fix the: shop vac, the clothesline, and the vaccuum. Wow, I'm hard on things!

-Been perfecting my skills at the pitch fork. The kids and I are still hard at work cleaning out the big barn that has decade old hay in it. It's a slow process. But I bet I can beat you arm wrestling. :)

-The kids and I and some friends went strawberry picking last week. Guess what's sitting on my stove? Strawberry jam of course! We don't go through a whole lot of jam (the kids prefer honey on sandwiches), but it's nice to have. The first canning session of the season! Yay and eek!

   That's all the update for now. Lots more going on and hope to get back into writing in this online journal here, but I have some embroidery work to get to and, as I sat down to write this week's ever expanding to-do list, I realized the above has been on there for 3 weeks. The same for mopping, but who the heck wants to mop after these long, summer days? Embroidering infront of an air conditioner? Yes, please.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Farm Boy Chores

Between spring time chores such as: plowing, planting oats, messing with meat chicks, growing vegetable starters, and cleaning up yards, we are also in the process of trying to clear out barns. There are massive amounts of old hay that need to be took out of one in particular...

And who better for the job than a pair of rowdy farm boys?

At least twice a day, they climb the haymow and kick down massive amounts of hay that I fork over to some ever hungry cattle. This farm job has given them a lot of pride in their work, a fun past-time, and a sense that "this is their farm too". 

And what does Baby Girl do while we feed hay?

And what does Mommy do a lot of when she gets home? Oh, the springtime laundry! I totally forgot! It's worth it, it's worth it, it's worth it. There, do I believe it now? 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sewing Snapshots

I haven't shared what's been making my sewing machine stitch miles lately. It's been running ragged as ever though. And though I thought I had been great at figuring out my sewing to-do list for this year, I keep adding more and more to it! Then, of course, I need fabric for the new projects listed... I tell ya, it's a good thing Farmer loves me...

So, Baby girl needed some new pajamas and I got out my favorite flannel line (I had been hoarding it... LOVE Buttercup Babies) and sewed her 3 new pajama gowns (that sometimes turn into day dresses) and a couple pajama bottoms (not shown). I was saving the fabric for baby blankets, baby clothes, and such, in case Farmer gave the go-ahead to add a new little farm kid to our brood, but it's been a year and a half of storing this fabric and it was time to use it. I don't know what this means about a 5th baby... and I'm okay with that right now. :)

I have a Valentine's Day tradition with Farmer's 2 nieces, in which I sew them a Valentine's Day dress or skirt. This year, I chose to sew 2 dresses...

Baby Girl's Valentine's Day Dress is below. She wanted to wear her new doggie dress I sewed her on the big day though. I didn't realize 2 year old girls started wanting a say in what they wear so young! I have a lot to learn.

 I hosted a Little House on the Prairie Day and had the pleasure of teaching 2 sweet girls a little about sewing. It was so fun and has me so excited for when Baby Girl is old enough to learn!

We sewed pillows...

I finished 3 quilts that are very dear to my heart... after the 3rd one though, I started contemplating the value of sending a quilt off to get professionally quilted. Or the value of upgrading to a sewing machine with a long throat. That would make quilting so much easier! I am in the process of researching... Here are some random glimpses of the 3 quilts:

I've picked up embroidery again. It had been years and I forgot how relaxing and fun it was! Finished some gifts for loved ones and am working on a special project for one of my favorite people. 

Farmer prefers I work on non-sewing machine crafts when he is home. To be fair, my machine is loud and we were finishing up the series "Burn Notice"... intense! It was the perfect week to make a stack of fleece blankets for our Children's Hospital.This is a great project for even non-sew-ers and kids love them!

Now we are watching "Murdoch's Mysteries" which is much more conducive to sewing at the machine. Perfect timing as I'm churning out 2 John Deere quilts this week! 

It feels good to have a hobby I enjoy so much and a husband who is (usually) more than happy (okay, okay: just happy) to create a bigger fabric budget some months. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Farm Happenings

 It's been a busy few weeks on the farm.

Lots of sheep happenings... Sorting out and selling lambs. Keeping alive new lambs. Sorting out and selling old ewes and some more lambs. Shearing ewes. Bottlefeeding lambs. Doing perimeter checks in the lambing barns (those little dears like to find any space they can fit into to get stuck). Shearing more ewes. Dosing ewes.  Feeding ewes.

Then there is oil well happenings... Pumps needing fixed, wells needing maintenance.

Farm Tax happenings... Done and Done! Turned into the accountant. I sincerely hate math (it is my least favorite 4 letter word) and I sincerely love there are people in this world who enjoy it so much they become accountants.

Chicken happenings... they are now producing 13-14 eggs a day. I need to cull 3 of the older chickens that are just eating food, but I'm waiting till the weather warms up a bit. I need to order another 10-15 layers this Spring and am trying to decide if I want to stick with the trusty Golden Comet or branch out and try another breed. Thoughts? All I care about is consistency and the most eggs.

Cattle Happenings... Farmer does most of their caring, but he did forget to shut the Evil Gate and 25 head of cattle got out on the road... while I was on the phone. Slamming the phone down, pulling on my mud boots, I ran outside. In the van I hopped, laying on the horn. Got a few cows to come in just by this, but most were booking it. A hay truck appeared to be coming down from the hill and, not caring if they had some place to be, I decided to race past the cattle moving away from the truck. I jack knifed the van a distance from the cattle and using the other truck as a detourant to go up the road, we corralled them back into the evil, open gate. As I went over to say "thank you", I realized it was "the boys"... the men who serviced our oil wells for many months. I felt much better about inconveniencing them then! Gate shut, we won. Stupid cows!

Milk Cow happenings... Rosie and BamBam are sold. Shockingly, I shed a few tears when I told Rosie goodbye. There is just something about a jersey milk cow... dogs dying, cats getting ran over, never bothered me much. But Ms. Rosie, the big, teat-dragging milk cow... turned me all sentimental.  They fetched a very nice price and we are trying to decide if we should wait for our Holstein to calve in a couple months or buy a new milk cow, in milk, in March. My frugal side says to just wait, but my love of fresh milk side is saying to buy a fresh jersey! We'll probably wait because Farmer is always more logical than I am.

The biggest news is that our local high school's FFA Auction is coming up in a month. We've sold some farm equipment there before, but they also take other stuff. I usually bake cinnamon rolls for them to sell, but this year I decided to sew a farm-themed crib quilt. Because there is no Allis Chalmers fabric, I asked Farmer what material to buy: New Holland, International, or John Deere. My jaw dropped when he said, "John Deere." He said it would sell the best. Baby Girl hid her face in her hands at the news.
 So I ordered John Deere fabric... and it will be inside this house. An Allis Chalmers house. Big news indeed... considered Farm News because of the polarized, tractor fan clubs.

I must be off. Jack, the lamb, heard me go grab a cup of coffee and he is bleating for his bottle. Years of motherhood have taught me how to tune noises out, but to tune back in when earnestness enters their vocal chords.