Garden Update July 5, 2015

I finally got my garlic harvested. I have waited for months and then, when it was ready, I was busy and then it was rainy and well, life got in the way. I should have harvested this weeks ago. The ground was still a bit moist from the recent showers, so I will have quite a time of it, brushing the dirt off the cloves when it dries. Still, I was thrilled to get so many heads and there are some really monstrous ones in there. All the stems are too dried and brittle to braid it for storage, but I have been saving netted bags to store it in.IMG_8820 I have already stolen a couple heads from the garden, before this main harvest, for dill pickles.IMG_8823 Here’s our favorite refrigerator dill pickle recipe.

8 cloves of garlic, chopped

2Tbs pickling spice

6Tbs of salt

2c. vinegar

2c. water

2 bunches of dill

add cukes and keep in the fridge. Ours are usually ready after about 2-3 days. I then refill the jar with cucumbers a few more times before mixing another batch of brine.IMG_2077Look whose helping weed in the garden! He volunteered to tackle the asparagus bed, which was filled with asparagus ferns (so itchy!) and huge johnson grass. It looked beautiful once Jeremie got done with it and we are so thankful for his willing help!IMG_8798We’ve been stealing potatoes also, while we have weeded the potato bed. It is time to harvest them all, but I am waiting for the soil to dry out a bit.IMG_8393Mia and Susie have been keeping the kitchen cheery with fresh zinnias almost daily! They make me smile, lined up in blue ball mason jars on my sink window.IMG_8791Jimmy has been harvesting lots of white pumpkins from his garden. It is so thrilling for him to find these treasures under the huge leaves of the pumpkin plant. It is getting time for him to pull up the plant and put something else in for the late summer/fall. He is deciding what else he wants to grow.IMG_8394The tomatoes are starting to get red! But the kids and I noticed this black insect poop on the plants. Hornworms! So we went on a hunt today and found over 15 huge hornworms. IMG_8819They were disgustingly fascinating to catch. Charlotte is making a home for them to keep them captive and feed them old tomatoes.IMG_8824Does anyone know what kind of squash or pumpkin this might be? It is a volunteer plant and I’m guessing maybe spaghetti squash? What do you think?IMG_8793And lastly, here are some cucumbers, second planting, and beans, second planting. The vines are going to be creeping into the beans like crazy. They insist on it. And even though I try to keep them climbing the trellis, they prefer to creep along the ground.IMG_8796

A rockin’ good time

The "before" is so ugly!

The “before” is so ugly!

We have this ugly area around the house that is always overgrown with weeds. Someday I hope to plant this area with lavender and comfrey. But that will have to wait. It’s not high up on the priority list. Some friends of ours have a landscaping business and were clearing this rock out of a client’s yard. IMG_8353Since they had no need of it, we get to use it to mulch the area around the house. It was a lot of work, weeding the area, raking it level, rinsing the rocks off, laying down landscape fabric.IMG_8358 A lot of work for Jeremie and the kids. I can’t say that I did any part of it. What do you think? An improvement or just as ugly?IMG_8363

Time for tea

IMG_1080A while ago, the girls feasted at a formal tea party. IMG_1087Such delightful delicacies. Such elegant decor. Such fabulous fashions.Sometimes it is fun to forget responsibilities for a while and enjoy some good old fashioned girly fun.IMG_1089

Camping Out

IMG_1798This past week saw us traveling up north to visit with friends and relatives. We had beautiful weather while we camped in East Troy, Wi. The kids got to re-connect with all their cousins, some of whom they haven’t seen in a couple years.IMG_1879 Surprisingly, there was no shyness, bickering, drama. Only sweet fun, hugs, and a blessed time together.IMG_1689 There were so many things to do at the campground! The kids and their grandparents, aunts and uncles enjoyed canoeing, zip lining, rock climbing, the leather shop, swimming, volleyball, and horseback riding and water slides. IMG_1592There was not enough time in each day for all the fun they had. Relatives came from New Mexico, Florida, Michigan, Tennessee (of course!) and some from just 15 minutes away.IMG_1699 We are blessed to enjoy an extended family where everyone one is a believer, we all put a high importance on family relationships, where children are welcomed as blessings, and we are all striving to pass on the faith to the next generation. IMG_1510Night-time saw parents gathered around fires sharing memories and stories, viewpoints and opinions. Well, after the rousing games of capture the flag and jailbreak, of course. IMG_1839Smores, family, ga-ga ball… it is sure to be the highlight of our summer.IMG_1673


Garden Update 6-28-15


The bermuda grass has crept in little by little along the south fence line. So, this week we are reclaiming the south side of the garden. Little by little. It is sweaty work, in this summer heat. But with each of us taking a fence section working for 1/2 hour before the mid-day heat, it’s not too bad.

As you can see in the picture, my garlic is ready to be harvested!

Cleaned up fence row! And as you can see in the picture, my garlic is ready to be harvest!

We have been harvesting beans. Last year I froze all of my excess beans. This year I hope to can them. Canned beans, heated with bacon bits are so delicious!IMG_8350 And pickles!! The cucumbers have started producing. Not a ton, yet. But enough to start one batch of refrigerator pickles. I’ll have to dig out our favorite recipe and share it with you all. IMG_8348Peppers. We should have waited til these turned color because I didn’t plant any green peppers. Only purple, white, chocolate and orange. But little gardeners were anxious to pick something. IMG_8349Tomatoes should be ready soon. The plants are loaded with fruit and some are showing signs of pink. We have picked a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes. A favorite summertime snack for Mom and Mia.IMG_8374

Bona Fide Lunatics

I always knew we were a bit strange. I have heard rumors that we are considered eccentric. I joke that we are crazy famers who don’t know what we’re doing. But today, we entered the world of bone fide lunatics. Yes, this family with soon to be 10 children, has welcomed a bull to the farm. IMG_2028A BULL, not a bowl as some people like to call him. He supposedly is very gentle and worth every penny we paid for him. Which was quite a few. But he is a handsome fella isn’t he? And the girls all love him. We like to raise our herd of cattle as naturally as possible and artificial hormones and AI’ing just didn’t seem like a good fit. So, the only other option was borrowing a bull or keeping one on the farm. There are no South Poll bulls available in the area, so we purchased one from the same farm that we got our girls from 2 years ago. IMG_2033The kids want to name him Solomon, since he as so many wives. Our Clover will be his concubine, visiting only once a year. Jeremie hopes for spring calves so the bull is in with the girls as we speak. Clover will come for a visit next month because I want her to calve a little later in the spring, because Jersey calves are not as hearty as South Polls. I don’t want to take the chance of losing a calf on late spring icy ground. The man who brought us the bull from Missouri, said he would buy him back in a heartbeat for more than we paid for him. In the last month since we committed to buying him, he seems to have filled out well and is very impressive in size. I just hope he is as gentle as the reputation that precedes him claims.IMG_2030

I’m laughing out loud

This is my husband. He’s a dear thing. Always willing to help out. Always willing to be interrupted. Always looking for a deal. He was at our local bargain center when he found these flavored organic lemonades on sale for 50 cents. So he asked the manager if he bought them all, could they be marked down to 25 cents. 185 bottles later….:)IMG_8327

A shot in the arm

A spiritual one, that is. Sometimes, as a veteran homeschooler, it is easy to lose sight of why we do what we do. Day to day lesson plans, mundane discipline and training issues, sleepness nights, schedules, meals; every day life gets in the way and clouds the awe-inspiring vision awaiting before us. At one of the first homeschool conventions I attended, almost 15 years ago (boy, I’m ancient!) I was asked, “does a fish know he’s wet?” The answer? No. A fish doesn’t know he’s wet. All he knows is “wetness”. Sometimes I feel so immersed in the secular, hedonistic, sensual world of modern culture, that it’s hard to step back and often I don’t even realize how “worldly” I’ve become. Teenage dating? Secular University with it’s left-wing pro-homosexual agenda? Movies and books which question absolute truth and promote situation ethics? All of these seem “normal” until we step back and take another look at them through “Biblical lenses”. Sometimes a “shot in the arm” is what it takes to make us wake up and re-assess the decisions we make, the activities we participate in, the movies we watch, the music we listen to, and yes, even the churches we attend. conventionSo last weekend when I attended the Illinois Christian Home Educators annual convention, it was just the wake up call I needed. It was a time of visiting with dear old friends, making new friends, hearing inspiring messages and spending time with others  building each other up, challenging one another, and inspiring one another. ICHE is committed to “preaching” home discipleship as opposed to home education. There’s a world of difference folks. So, while the little ones and Daddy stayed home watching the animals and working hard, the older girls and I were gifted this special time of listening to speakers, shopping in the vendor hall, yelling and playing games, sleeping the whole night through !IMG_20150605_205449308 It wasn’t all fun and games for the girls, though. They stayed up late and woke early, energized to serve the homeschooling community. They worked the registration table, helped people with get the info onto their phones, served lunch, picked up garbage, carried books, tables and chairs, and just tried to anticipate people’s needs. Thankful for a loving family for picking up the slack when we deserted them for the weekend. Thankful for organizations like ICHE. Thankful for God’s word, constantly directing us and guiding us.  IMG_20150605_202354448

Finger-licking good

DSCF7088From farm to table. That is our goal. Fresh, local food, raised in our own backyard. For the collective memory… 75 broilers ($1.79 each) , 1100# of organic food from KOFFI (18 bags of 22% @ 24.50 each, 4 bags of 19% @ 23.22 each). Slaughtered at 10 weeks of age. BroilersDrying2Tommy always does “the deed”. He got a new victonix butchering knife for Christmas and that worked great. Jeremie does the de-feathering and scalding. Our new plucker that we bought with a couple friends worked great, after minor adjustments. Mama does the evisceration. But I’m working myself out of a job. I taught Susie and Charlotte how to clean out the innards and they did a great job. They told me next time I can sit on the deck and watch them do all the chickens. We’ll see. Mia and Katie and Benja rinse the birds and bag them up. Many hands make light work.

These are birds from the last time we butchered. But they pretty much look the same  every time.

These are birds from the last time we butchered. But they pretty much look the same every time.

Another blessed year

We are so thankful to the Lord for His good gifts. This week we are especially thankful for Katie. She celebrated 15 years of life this weekend! 15 things we love about Katie:IMG_0549

  • She’s very creative
  • She never acts like she doesn’t have time for you
  • She forgives easily and quickly
  • She’s the life of the party
  • She is not easily offended
  • She will find a way to get it done
  • She likes to sleep in pitch darkness and utter silence
  • She keeps her bedroom in utter chaos
  • She is always willing to include the little ones
  • She is an excellent cook and baker of sweet things
  • She rolls with the punches
  • She likes to sing at the top of her lungs
  • She only asked for ACT prep materials and a cd for her birthday
  • She is a yoga fiend
  • She is a leaderIMG_0649