A Grateful Heart

Greetings, friends. I am just back from a homestead walkabout that I was blessed to enjoy in the afternoon sunshine with my dog Jack. It has been awhile since we have chosen to spend any length of unnecessary time in the out-of-doors... so cold and windy it has been on this mountain, lately.

But today the sun is shining and it feels almost balmy at 41 degrees (F) so out we went to explore the snowy pasture!

This was an ordinary week, for the most part. We are tending the critters and keeping the fire in the wood stove going... working on our homeschooling endeavors... reading and crafting... cleaning and cooking and baking... discussing our springtime homesteading plans. 

I have begun to explore the practice of having a personal day of intentional rest and refreshment in the Lord each week. It was sparked by the traditional Sabbath custom, and it pairs nicely with my focus word for the year: present.

For me, it has (at this early stage) simply become a day that I stay off the computer altogether and choose to limit my phone time to necessary use only... what a difference those things alone have made! And I am careful to intentionally and deliberately focus on family time rather than my own separate interests. I may bake something yummy for us, watch a movie with my tribe, spend time outdoors, or do just about anything that is slower paced and renewing and relaxing, while having somewhat of a maintenance-type day for homesteading and homemaking chores, as much as possible. Already, I am looking forward to this week's day of rest!

Here are a few more recent snippets from my gratitude list ~

:: My happy bean sorter. While I was making breakfast for our tribe, my youngest son sorted through the beans that I was using for this week's big batch of chili. So diligent he was as he picked through the mix of beans that I had measured, and so excited to find a couple of tiny rocks hiding in the pile. He set them aside to show his daddy and big sister. {smile}

:: Surprise pie. Our older kids blessed me by doing our grocery shopping again this week, and even more so by bringing home a pumpkin pie from the bakery. My favorite! It was a delicious dessert after that night's dinner.

:: An exemplary life. One of the pastors I have greatly enjoyed listening to online went home to the Lord last week. Through all of his health troubles and death he and his family encouraged me and pointed me to Jesus again and again... I did cry when I found out he had died, but those tears were mixed with the joy of knowing that he is with Jesus now, for eternity. I love his family and his dad is my favorite pastor... I am honored to be their sister in the Lord and so thankful for their sermons.

:: Simply quitting. I was reading a novel that I was discovering page-by-page... it wasn't really my taste, it didn't quite adhere to my convictions, it wasn't the best use of my precious and limited reading time. So, I gave myself permission to *not* finish that book even though I was half-way through it, and I returned it. Easy-peasy. Why do we sometimes feel like we must finish everything we start?

:: An anniversary. As I was going through papers in the file cabinet, I came across the document that so happily proclaims that my cow-friend Matilda came to call our farm her forever home on February 19, 2010. Nine years ago! Oh, how close we have become in those nine wonderful years. 💗

Thank you for coming by my blog today, and for your visits to this one and this one, too! I wish you a cup brimful of gratitude where you are, friends. God is so good!

shalom ~

birthday scarf {crochet}

Howdy, friends! You all know how much I love sharing with you my finished projects, yes? Well, this is a rather *special* one... it is the birthday scarf I made for our son's thirtieth birthday!

I used a skein of the acrylic yarn that another of my boys gave me for my own birthday in January. So this scarf was full of prayers for the birthday boy and gratitude for the gifted-to-me yarn. Oh, the many blessings of homemade and handcrafted gifts... stitched brimful of love and prayer they are.

I made the scarf nice and wide... and the pattern is alternating single crochet and double crochet, with each next row having a single crochet stitch above a double and then a double crochet stitch above a single. If you crochet, I think you will know what I mean by that. {smile} I used my size L hook so the lovely texture has a nice drape to it.

It was fun to use the cake mix box that I sent along with the scarf as a measuring tool for the yarn I cut for the fringe...

And it was a nice touch to add the fringe, I think. I asked another of our boys if he would want fringe on a scarf and he said yes, so... fringe was added, and so was a hug.

The box of birthday goodness made it to its destination in time for the big day. So glad I was! And what a blessing it is to reach the milestone of being the mama of a thirty-year-old. How is our baby boy thirty? It reminds me to treasure even more these happy-busy days of homeschooling and homesteading and raising the rest of our little and not-so-little ones.


A Grateful Heart

:: from this week's snowshoe walkabout around the homestead ::
Shalom! We are cuddled near the fire on this blustery day at our place... outdoors, the wind is howling and the snow is blowing about, piling into drifts here and there. Our barnyard critters are well-stocked with extra hay in their cozy shelters and the older boys carried buckets of hot water to them this morning. Brrr!

This week I had time to work on my Hebrew studies *and* I was able to hide another section of Psalm 119 in my heart. Now I need to review verses 1-72 and keep going. I have learned to be gentle with myself in the area of achievement... such a perfectionist and goal-setter I quickly become if I don't stay aware of my tendency to overdo and subsequently allow the good to distract me from the best.

I initially began learning the Hebrew language in July of 2016... it has, over these past few years, sparked in me a great interest in Israel, and a love for the Jewish people and the Jewish Messiah. The Lord has given me an appreciation for the Hebrew/Jewish roots of my faith and it is bringing out an increasingly Messianic tone in my life and worship (as a born-again Gentile Christian) that I find to be quite a blessing. My dear hubby is profoundly encouraging and supportive of it all... God is so good!

So I have been listening to many online sermons, lately. Not only from the wonderful Messianic Jewish synagogue that I love, but also from my very favorite Bible-believing church (Jon Courson's fellowship in Oregon) and the messages in the Spiritual Depression series (by Jim Savastio) I am studying through, and various messages on Sermon Audio. Oh, how thankful I am for all of the edifying teachings... "Test all things, and hold firmly that which is good." (1 Thessalonians 5:21 - WEB) and for God's Word and Jesus the Messiah, my Savior! {smile}

Here are a few more snippets from my ongoing gratitude list this week ~

:: Seeing the elk. They have moved on, but what a blessing it was to have the herd of two hundred hanging around our property for those few days earlier this week.

:: Conversations. I cherish the talks I have with my children - those grown and those yet at home - about literally anything and everything. They know they have a forever friend in their mama and I am glad to always be here for them.

:: Pumpkin spice. My dear hubby keeps tracking down the last available jugs of pumpkin spice coffee creamer (my fave next to goat milk!) and bringing them home for me to enjoy in my coffee. Oh, how my man spoils me. {smile}

:: My stay-at-homestead life... in which I help my dear hubby and teach our precious children and tend our animals and make many things from scratch... my only paycheck is hugs and kisses and it makes me rich beyond measure. The world cannot measure the kind of wealth I am so blessed to possess!


my first tatting project

I had to set my tatting aside for a spell so I could crochet a birthday scarf for my boy (...I finished that scarf but can't show you quite yet just in case he visits his mama's blog...). {smile} But yesterday afternoon it was far too frigid to spend any unnecessary time in the out-of-doors, so the kids and I chose a movie to watch together (we settled on The Hiding Place) and I purposed to use the two tatting stitches I have learned to tat my very first intentional project.

It took me nearly the entire two-and-a-half hours of the (wonderful) movie to make this simple tatted butterfly, ta-da! So cute, yes? It has its flaws but I am embracing them as a reminder that only God is perfect...

I love it, such a sweet little lacy butterfly of size 10 colorful crochet thread it is. And I have requests from all six of our children-at-home for more butterflies so there will be plenty of opportunity for me to practice the beginner pattern of double stitches and picots. I likely will tat at least one for each of our grown children, too.

Friends, I think this new tatting endeavor is really growing on me!


An ordinary bread baking day, it was. I usually make a four to five loaf batch of light wheat sourdough bread each Monday. There are *so* many Challah recipes and braiding techniques I want to try, but yesterday I simply saved back enough of my regular bread dough so I could practice another four-strand braid.

I made my strands of dough a bit longer and narrower this time, and braided them a little tighter. It was a good technique for me, I think I will keep with that method. Once I had the loaf braided, I realized that we had not a single egg in the fridge for me to brush on top. Not one. My older kids were bringing some home from the store (they had gone to town to do the week's grocery shopping) but my bread would be ready for the oven before they returned.

So I had another of my boys make a quick jaunt out to the chicken coop to see if one of our hens had perhaps laid an egg in spite of the cold weather. He discovered one. Just one, but it was all that I needed. {smile}

And my boy also excitedly reported that the big herd of elk that has been in our vicinity was crossing our back pasture and many of them were right next to our fence.

We bundled ourselves up in coats and scarves and shawls and mittens (the temperature has been near zero (F) for a few days) and went out to the deck to see the magnificent herd. Oh my, what a blessing! And at about the same time as the excitement of all that had passed, the kids returned from town with our groceries *and* my braided bread was ready to come out of the oven.

Such a lovely, ordinary day it was... I am so thankful for our simple homesteading life.

shalom and blessings,

so many elk

My dear hubby and I had been sipping our morning coffee and discussing the upcoming day, while keeping an eye on two very fluffy songbirds that were making use of our feeder during the subzero temperatures of the morning.

I stood up from my chair and glanced out the other window and whoa! what an unexpected thrill! A large herd of elk was in the neighboring pasture. They likely came down from their usual mountaintop range due to the weather. I hurried to wake up the kids so they, too, could see the awesome surprise.

We often see elk across the way, but to have them so close was quite a treat. All of these images were taken from our deck and yard ~

My hubby counted about two hundred elk in the bunch.

There were a few bulls amongst the many cows. The largest we saw was a 6 x 6. So majestic!

After awhile, the lead cow started walking up-country and the rest of the herd followed behind. They eventually stopped and rested for awhile on the hillside that I can see out our kitchen window, and then the snowfall became too heavy to see them... the herd had moved on by the time the snow lifted.

But today, those elk are back! What a blessing it is to see them again. I do hope they will stick around for awhile. And I hope you enjoyed seeing these wildlife visitors to our Montana farm... I love them so much!


A Grateful Heart

Howdy to you... happy Friday... happy February! We have gusty winds and warm(ish) temperatures at our place today. My dear hubby tells me that a winter storm is predicted, so perhaps a cozy weekend by the wood stove is about to happen? For me anyway... my hubby will possibly be spending a chunk of time on his crawler keeping our driveway clear of new snow. He loves doing that.

I will likely be spending a goodly portion of the two days upcoming near the stove regardless of what the weather does... I have but this weekend to finish the scarf I am making my boy for his birthday. I need to get it finished and wrapped so my dear hubby can mail it away at the beginning of next week. That scarf (aka a hug from Mama) has to travel approximately 2381 miles before *next* weekend when our oldest child will be celebrating is thirtieth birthday. {smile}

But this afternoon found me in the kitchen. I had a few cups of apple slices leftover from a cake I made the other day, and I decided to mix up a batch of apple fritters for my crew. So I donned my apron and heated up some cooking oil in my cast iron cauldron and did just that!

They eagerly rolled the cooled-but-still-warm fritters in powdered sugar and/or cinnamon sugar and ate them up almost as quickly as I could fry them. I had to remind them to save a couple for their daddy.

This is the apple cake I made with the rest of those apples. I have become family-famous for this lovely cake, it is dense and moist and cinnamon-y and absolutely delicious!

Here are a couple snippets from my ongoing gratitude list this week ~

:: Reading aloud to my kids. We finally finished A Christmas Carol. Onward we go with the rest of our well-begun read alouds... three books, currently.

We went back to Proverbs 1 today, as it is the first of the month. I asked my children... Do you think we should read this yet again? I have read aloud and discussed the book of Proverbs with our kids over and over again each month for twenty-two years... before these children yet at home were even born. Yes! they so wisely responded. {smile}

:: Amazing helpers. That our older children occasionally manage the weekly grocery shopping for me is *such* a blessing. Since we usually shop together as a family, they know just what to get and always stay on budget.

Time for me to skedaddle. Family fun night pizza and activities are beckoning...

shalom and blessings ~

End of January on the Homestead

:: Heidi and Bonnie ::

:: atop a drift in the chicken run ::

:: contemplating her daily peckabout in the barnyard ::

:: scratching around and doing her chicken-thing ::

:: those happy ducks of ours ::

:: a cow-kiss from my sweet Matilda ::

:: Jack... such a handsome fella my best friend is! ::

Unusually warm, for the most part. And icy... the pastures and barnyard are a splotchy array of ice and snow and dirt and dry grass. There are drifts of snow about, some rather towering, but not so much snow that we are digging out pens and gates for our critters. And January comes to a fairly quiet end on our homestead.

This is the time of year that we shift into maintenance-mode for our out-of-doors homesteading tasks. Daily chores are tended to, weekly tasks (such as cleaning coops and outbuildings) are done, but not many - if any - extra projects are often happening this time of the year on our farm.

All of our farm critters are ageing gracefully... the goats, chickens, ducks, Shadow, and Matilda. All of our barnyard inhabitants are rather advanced in age, or at least a bit past what would be considered their prime. So we treat them as the well-loved pets that they are as we talk about and pray for and make plans to increase our flocks and herds and home food producing endeavors, Lord willing, in coming months.

Peep, peep goes my imagination as I dream of getting more chicks in the spring. {smile}

But for now, we wait and enjoy this (so far) mild winter on the mountain. Cozy, contented evenings around the wood stove... knitting, eating popcorn, reading. Ah, the simple joys of January.


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