End of January on the Homestead

It is 27 degrees (F) at our place on this last morning of January. A blanket of white covers the ground once again, a result of a wee snowstorm that passed through yesterday.

I took advantage of the new snow and took Jack and my new snowshoes for a walkabout. It was lovely... listening to the crunch of my snowshoes and Jack's playful puppy antics amidst the absolute stillness except for the falling snow.

But it was a dry month overall... those snowshoes were a birthday gift on the 17th from my dear hubby and yesterday was my first opportunity to use them on new snow.

The other day, I took my camera along at chore time so you could join me for an end of January peek around the barnyard. Does that sound fun? Let's go!

All is well in the goat pen. Here is Coco munching away at her morning hay...

And those friendly goats of ours always come to the fence for a pat on the head whenever we are anywhere near their space.

We have been casually looking for another dairy goat (or two) to add to our herd. Our current gals are dry (not giving milk) and I miss having a daily supply of fresh goat milk, my favorite.

We have learned over the years to be patient and selective when it comes to adding animals to our farm, but if the right goat(s)-for-us become available, we just may welcome her (them?) to the farm. {smile}

Next stop... the duck coop. This is Mags, our oldest flock member at about 8 years old. She is a Magpie duck and a real beauty, I think...

And on to the chicken coop. Our chickens have the option of staying in their cozy coop or coming out into the out-of-doors for daily exercise and fresh air.

Say hello to the Henriettas. That is their name, not their breed. We named one of these ladies Henrietta when she was but a fluffy yellow chick, but since we can't tell them apart easily they both go by that name now.

Next stop, my cow-friend Matilda. Jack said hello to her while the hay was tossed in, then Matilda (and Shadow) munched away at their pile before spending the afternoon in the back pasture.

Matilda does love her hay, as you can see here.

And doesn't our miniature horse Shadow look amazing?... She is nearly thirty years old! I am thankful that she gets to live out her days at our place with her friend Matilda.

Here is Matilda contentedly watching the snow as it began to come down...

I love that big beautiful cow.

January sped by, don't you think? It seems as though I write those words so often... time flew by, this week went by in a flash, another month has come to an end. My grandma said to me many times that time waits for no one. She was oh so right about that.

And into February we go!

Hay, Matilda

Breakfast in the barnyard. Matilda does love her hay... all of our critters likely consider feeding time a highlight of their day. They do seem excited when they see us heading their way with their meals.

And today contained an extra bit of goodness for Matilda and her miniature horse companion Shadow... since most of our snow is currently melted and/or blown away, we moved the pair to the back pasture for some roaming and grazing in the wide open space.

Oh, happy day indeed!

Wishing you a lovely day, friends.

A Grateful Heart

Happy Friday to you, friends! Another happy-busy week has flown by in a flash at our place. I had quite a few things to catch up on... I needed to grind wheat to refill my flour bin, get my homemade kombucha bottled, tackle the ever-present mountain of laundry, and get some extra bread baked and stashed in the freezer.

And there were the usual activities of tending to our daily homesteading tasks and homeschooling endeavors and keeping tabs on Jack... along with the lovely, ordinary interruptions that remind me to pause and savor the moment at hand, whatever it may bring.

Whew... no wonder the days seem to go by so quickly! (As they perhaps do for you as well!)

It is 33 degrees (F) at our place today and the sky looks as though it *could* snow... we only got a few inches out of the most recent storm that passed through. I am grateful because less snow makes it easier to do chores and keep our critters in their proper places. But I also yearn for just enough fresh snow so that I can spend some time on my snowshoes!

Here are a few things from my ongoing gratitude list recently...

:: Good timing. I don't spend much time on social media, so I was ecstatic when a brief check-in coincided with a live session that my favorite Christian artist Matt Maher was doing just then. His music has been such a source of joy and encouragement for me... I find him quite inspirational.

:: That puppy of mine, Jack. He weighed 21.6 pounds at his veterinary check-up this week. Last time he was 13 pounds. Ha! He gained more than eight pounds in a month. He's an eater, that Jack! The veterinarian said he looks great and even complimented his good behavior. I felt like such a proud puppy-parent! {smile}

:: Good enough. I haven't had any time to sew nor did I spend much time on my own classes this week. I noticed that it wasn't causing me to fret, not getting to those things I enjoy, as I had hoped to. I have spent time on other things that were calling for my attention instead, and I am thankful for that. It is nice to not be such a taskmaster toward myself.

:: An excellent read. This week, I finished reading for the first time The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. What a book! I am going to read it again (and again) until I can absorb its wisdom and encouragement into my very being.

:: Ordinary things...Knitting on the shawl that *was* to be for me, but now I am thinking it would make a lovely and unexpected gift for a certain someone that would likely be quite surprised to receive it...Obedience training with my puppy, I can see him trying *so* hard to do the right thing...Leisurely conversations with my children around the lunch table. Those dishes can wait!...Resuming our focus on memorizing Psalm 119 in our homeschool...Trying out a new cake recipe and watching my tribe devour every last bite! {smile}...A glimpse of my cow-friend Matilda in the barnyard as I pass the kitchen window.

Good things, all of those. The blessings of a simple life.

Thank you, friends, for coming by my blog this week. I do appreciate all who take a few moments to read my ramblings. And I wish you a joyous weekend and much to be grateful for where you are.



Oh, how productive I felt as I filled my flour bin with freshly ground wheat berries! It is one of my favorite tasks, grinding flour. It takes me about an hour to get my grain mill set up, my large flour bin filled, and everything cleaned up and stored away.

The frequency varies a bit according to how much baking I am doing, but I usually grind flour every ten days or so. That is usually enough for four bread baking sessions (about twenty loaves worth of bread dough) and a couple batches of cookies, or maybe a cake or three.

And on this day, I had already read aloud to my children and helped them get their school work underway, started the day's laundry, and finally gotten my two gallons of homemade kombucha bottled...

Hence the happy feeling of productivity. Yes! {smile}

While I worked at my grain mill in the kitchen, the children were busy with their own activities nearby, and my puppy Jack was at my feet.

Usual blessings of my ordinary days, both of those circumstances are.

After awhile, I asked one of my boys to please let Jack outside for a romp about the yard. He called Jack to the door and moment later my son wondered aloud if we should wait for the deer to move along first. Before Jack entered the scene with his usual puppy-exuberance.

Oh... I hadn't realized that the herd of deer that often inhabits our homestead in the winter months had ventured so close to our fenced front yard...

Jack wasn't whining to go out, so we did wait and watch the deer as they wandered past. And then we all decided to interrupt our routine for a few minutes of spontaneous play in the out-of-doors.

It was just what we needed. A lovely break that included sunshine and fresh air!

Back indoors, the school work was completed, the flour bin topped off, and Jack had a nap. Puppies need lots of naps indeed. Another simple, ordinary day at our place.



Happy Monday to you, friends. I do hope the weekend was lovely for you! We spent our weekend surrounded by elk. One of our teenagers spotted this large group across the way, to the northwest of our homestead...

And this bunch of elk spent the weekend within our view to the south...

So we were blessed with a view of lots and lots of elk from every vantage point for a couple of days. I haven't seen the elk yet today, but they do tend to come and go regularly this time of the year.

Our weekend began with family fun night, as usual. We enjoyed our homemade pizza and then watched a movie together. My hubby made us all a huge batch of his family-famous popcorn and when I was done munching on that, I worked on my knitted shawl a bit.

This one, the one I dropped and had to start over!

Saturday was a happy-busy-at-home day... my favorite kind of day... a day of family togetherness that delightfully blends a bit of relaxation and getting things done.

We made an enormous batch of chili early in the day so it would be at-the-ready. I managed to use up *all* of our onions and almost all of our diced tomatoes since I last shopped, so the chili was rather heavy on the beans and carrots, ha! It was quite delicious, honestly.

And I managed to get these things crossed off my to-do list that day...

* finish our three week menu plan and make a grocery list
* work on the prairie skirt I am sewing for myself
* watch the next video for my ASL class
* try out my new snowshoes

Yes! I got to take my snowshoes for a walk. My hubby got himself a pair of them, too, so we both strapped them on and went for a walkabout on the drifts around the barnyard and up into the back pasture. A few of our children came along and so did our dogs Jack and Juno.

We trekked past the chickens and ducks and up to my cow-friend Matilda's winter space. It was so much fun! I am so happy to have discovered this new winter pleasure.

The rest of the weekend went by in a flash... church, grocery shopping, taking our adult daughter back to her place and running a few errands in the town where she lives.

And we watched together a documentary about Israel, which is a place that utterly fascinates me... for its rich Biblical history, especially. I love trying to read the Israeli street signs and such, since I have been studying the Hebrew language for awhile. I think Israel is a beautiful place!

And now we get back to our normal around here.

My birthday ends the holiday season for us... our holidays began in October with one of our boy's birthdays and we celebrated five birthdays along with the traditional holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year's Eve / Day... plus my dear hubby and my twenty-ninth wedding anniversary since then. Whew!

Our next at-home family birthday isn't until April, so we have a wee hiatus!

Back-to-normal around here for today includes (among other things) a full homeschool day, baking bread, catching up on the laundry, filling the wood box, and a quick run if I can squeeze it in... and I would really like to get a bit more done on my skirt, too.

So, I will wish you a wonderful day and proceed! {smile}


A Grateful Heart

What a lovely week it has been for me, friends. My dear hubby and I celebrated our twenty-ninth wedding anniversary and just a few days after that, it was my birthday. So it has been one big party around here for days, ha!

It is actually raining here this morning, and it is 40 degrees (F). I am really hoping it begins to snow, as the weather forecast predicts, so I can strap on the snowshoes my hubby got me for my birthday and give them a go! Our one-third mile long hilly driveway will be perfect for snowshoeing, I think.

Some of my children made the birthday gifts they gave me, which I loved. (you can have a look at their crafty-ness here) And one of my older girls baked my birthday cake. I chose carrot cake this year, it was delicious!

And since our oldest daughter spent the week with us, I was able to enjoy a birthday run with *both* of the dogs I love... her dog Juno and my sweet puppy Jack. I wanted to run for forty-nine minutes in honor of my forty-ninth birthday, and I did!

And friends, I am *thrilled* to begin my next trip around the sun completely free of the eating disorder and exercise obsession thoughts and behaviors that I gave heed to for way too long. I am amazed that my recovery is going so wonderfully well and I give *all* the glory for that to the Lord.

Here are a few more things from this week's ongoing gratitude list...

:: Playing the piano. The other day, one of my girls and I spent a good chunk of the afternoon playing simple duets together on our piano. It was delightful.

:: Our ducks. They are the *happiest* of homestead critters. My puppy Jack needed to go outside in the wee hours of the morning, and as I stood in the yard waiting for him to do his business I could hear the ducks quacking softly to one another within the safety of their coop. Ducks are awesome.

:: Simple foods. As I was planning our menu for the upcoming weeks, I was grateful that we enjoy so many simple, basic, homemade, real foods. Things like beans and potatoes and whole grains and vegetables. I do find our meals revolve around those ingredients, mostly... especially since our hunters did not harvest an animal during hunting season this year.

:: Family fun night. It is a tradition we began years and years ago... when our adult children were yet small. Our close-knit tribe does spend a lot of time together anyway, but family fun night is more of an intentional togetherness. We have homemade pizza and enjoy a planned activity... a game, a movie... it is usually simple and frugal, but we all look forward to it. I am glad we have kept it going for all of these years.

I do my best to avoid the negative news stories that are so prevalent these days... and the glimpses of them that I do get remind me that life is indeed a gift that we are all given and it is important to choose to be joyful and kind and considerate and grateful.

It is my prayer that more people everywhere will choose just that! Let's be kind.

Thank you for coming by my blog this week, I do appreciate all who take the time to read the snippets I share here and on Run Hoop Julie. I gave my blogs a bit of a makeover as a birthday gift to myself... I changed the colors and fonts, just for fun. I hope you like their fresh new looks as much as I do! {smile}

I wish you a wonderful weekend where you are.


Homemade Birthday Goodness

Ooo... I am *so* excited to show you the homemade-with-love gifts I received for my birthday! As I mentioned here, my birthday was yesterday. And it was quite a wonderful day!

A few of my children made the gifts they gave me. I am quite pleased with their crafty creations...

My two youngest children each painted a picture for me. One of my girls made a wee cross-stitch bird and another daughter crocheted a scarf that looks like a piano keyboard.

Here is a closer peek at the sweet little bird my girl made for me from a craft kit she purchased. So cute, yes?

And here is the keyboard scarf. I love it!

I have wanted a scarf like this ever since I began piano lessons several years ago, but I haven't gotten around to making one for myself. I am so happy my daughter made it for me, it was quite a surprise.

And now I am excitedly waiting for more snow on our homestead. Lots and lots of snow. Not only so I can wear my birthday scarf to keep warm, but because my dear hubby got me a pair of snowshoes for my birthday.

Snowshoes! Squee! I cannot wait to try them out!

My forty-ninth birthday was a most happy day full of celebration and family togetherness and homemade birthday goodness. I am indeed abundantly blessed, very grateful, and *thrilled* to be forty-nine!

Wishing you a lovely day, friends.

Our Favorite Apple Crisp

Homemade apple crisp is on every menu plan I make, it seems. And if I am efficient enough to produce a three-week meal plan to feed this large family of mine, apple crisp is likely to be on it at least twice.

It is one of our favorites, and though technically a dessert, I suppose, we sometimes have it atop oatmeal for breakfast. Or we just have apple crisp for breakfast. {smile} And it makes a yummy smoothie, too, all blended up with milk or yogurt and a banana or two.

Good stuff, we think. I am happy to share my recipe with you!

Our Favorite Apple Crisp

Lightly grease or butter a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).

3 pounds of tart apples (peeled, cored, and sliced)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 Tablespoons butter (for dotting)

Place the apple slices into the prepared 9 x 13 inch baking dish and distribute them evenly. In a small mixing bowl, combine the granulated sugar and the ground cinnamon and then sprinkle the mixture evenly over the apple slices. Stir the apple slices around a bit to coat them with the cinnamon sugar, then spread them evenly in the baking dish again.

Cut the butter into tiny pieces and sprinkle them evenly over the sugared apple slices.

Topping Ingredients:

2 cups quick rolled oats (dry, uncooked)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
8 Tablespoons coconut oil

Combine all of the topping ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl. Using clean hands (or a wooden spoon) mix them together thoroughly, being sure that the dry ingredients are moistened with the coconut oil.

Sprinkle the topping mixture evenly over the apple slices in the baking pan.

Bake at 350 degrees (F) for about one hour, until the apples are tender and the topping is nicely browned. Carefully remove the finished apple crisp from the oven and allow it to cool a bit before serving.

Apple crisp fills the house with the most delightful and cozy aroma as it bakes... and then, yum! I hope you like my version of this familiar favorite as much as we do.


Celebrating, Snow, and Goats

anniversary roses
Twenty-nine years ago I became the wife of the man that I love more than ever... I was nineteen-almost-twenty years old when we eloped. We had been high school sweethearts, each other's first and only love.

Even then, as a very young bride, I knew with all my heart that I had found my soul mate!

Our weekend anniversary celebration included a lovely dinner, just the two of us. And a candle in my dessert in honor of our special day! {smile}

our server at the restaurant captured an image of our celebration
We still have plenty of snow at our place, but the temperature has warmed up a little so we spent a bit of the weekend in the out-of-doors enjoying our homestead.

Our youngest child rolled up a snowman, complete with arms made of firewood kindling, a carrot nose, and a scarf I wove long ago on a rigid heddle loom I once had.

our boy's snowman
And the kids dug a roomy snow cave at the base of the enormous snow drift that now covers the majority of our fenced back yard. Our hilly homestead and windy area can really work together to produce some impressive piles of snow!

digging as Jack keeps watch
The goats kept an eye on us as we played in the yard. I love that their pen is adjacent to our backyard space... the goats are used to us and extremely friendly because of the time we spend in their midst.

Here are Bailey and Clementine showing off their round bellies and warm winter coats...

Bailey and Clementine
And Heidi upon her nest of hay, ha!

I hope you had a wonderful weekend at your place, friends. And onward into another week we go!



Twenty-nine years
Of sweet wedded bliss
And to think it began
With an innocent kiss

It's true... I first met my dear hubby because another boy on our school bus dared him to give me a kiss! {smile} He asked my permission to kiss me, I accepted the request, and we have been together ever since!

First as high school sweethearts, and now for twenty-nine years as husband and wife.

I do believe that God created me to be a wife and mama... and to be a keeper at home on our land. I am so thankful that I was given a vision for the high calling of spending all of my days as a homemaker at such a young age (nineteen!). And that I am blessed to be the wife of such a fine man. It is indeed a beautiful calling.


A Grateful Heart

Happy Friday to you, friends! This morning simply sped by for me... as did the week, as usual. I have been the good kind of busy recently. Not the overwhelmed kind of not enough time in the day busy, but the good kind of calm productivity. Happy busy, I like to call it. {smile}

Today is a baking day for me... I have a big batch of whole wheat sourdough bread started, a special homemade pecan pie in the oven, and we are planning to make butterscotch chip cookies later. I am also soaking two pounds of beans so I can make chili tomorrow, and I will be making a batch of our favorite homemade pasta sauce, too.

I am baking the pecan pie for my dear hubby... we are celebrating twenty-nine years of marriage in just a few days! I found this delicious pecan pie recipe on the Garlands of Grace site awhile ago, and it has become one of my go-to special things to make for my hubby.

This is what my version of it looks like...

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

:: Our anniversary. Twenty-nine years of being the wife of the finest man I have ever known. He is my best friend and my true love... I made the wisest decision of my life when I said "I do" all those years ago.

:: Homeschooling. This has been a week of fun projects... we made a child safe version of elephant's toothpaste and the little ones, especially, have been doing lots of painting and crafting and reading.

:: Speaking of reading... I picked up a copy of Marley & Me (by John Grogan) at the thrift store. I am about half way through it and I have literally laughed-out-loud while reading it *so* many times. My sweet puppy Jack is a yellow lab like Marley is, but not quite so much of a hand full. Ha!

Time to show off my pup. Again. I do love this dog so so much!

Jack at 11 weeks old.
:: Julian the frog. This Pacman frog belongs to one of our teenagers. We don't see much of him (the frog, not the teenager... ha!) so when Julian un-burrows himself from his mossy substrate it is quite an event! Our son feeds him superworms a few times a week...

:: Recovery. I shared my two month eating disorder recovery update this week. All glory to God, I am doing *so* well. Sometimes I wonder if my journey is something I should even blog about, honestly. Eating disorders seem to be a rather sensitive topic, I have found. But it is a part of me and I'm not ashamed of my past struggles, and I am overcoming, and even if those posts are only used by God to help me (which they are) then they are worth doing.

:: Ordinary things. Our read-aloud times, taking an apple to Matilda, doing my Bible study, having a few minutes to hoop. Time spent in the out-of-doors on a snowy sunshine-y afternoon. Simple days at home with my family on our farm... living on our land, surrounded by the people and animals that I love so much, and pouring myself into the life I have been blessed with.

The oven timer is about to sound, which means the pie is done and the bread is ready to go in... so I will wish you a wonderful weekend as I go and tend to those things. Thanks for coming by my blog this week, friends!


Good News

Dear friends, I do hope you had a lovely Christmas! Ours was simple and quiet... we exchanged gifts, enjoyed family time, watched a few Chri...

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