April 30, 2018

End of April on the Homestead

:: Coco and Bonnie ::

:: my sweet cow-friend Matilda ::

:: two of our male ducks - a khaki campbell and a fawn and white runner duck ::

:: ready, set, go! time for an afternoon peckabout ::

:: all that remains of the snow at our place ::

:: my dear hubby - coffee time on the deck! ::

:: a pair of pasqueflowers in our pasture ::

It is overcast and drizzling rain on our homestead on this last day of April. Our outdoor temperature is 43 degrees (F). The view has turned from white to yellowish to green quite rapidly as the snow melted and the new growth of spring began in earnest. There is a pair of finches on the feeder outside the deck facing window... I am thinking about getting my hummingbird feeder out this week, too.

We tended to some necessary tasks this month.

We trimmed all of the goats' hooves...

Matilda and Shadow were moved from their winter space and now spend most of their days roaming and grazing in the spacious upper pasture...

We began disassembling a tall stack of fence panels that were once used as snow fence...

And there was much cleaning and some repairing around the house and the outbuildings and the barnyard. (With plans discussed for painting our outbuildings this year! Oooo!)

The leaves are coming on the currants and finally, we have flowers in the fields! The first wildflowers of spring have burst forth from the dormant earth at last! Oh, how happy they make me... I have always considered them to be flowers planted by God, since we simply wait for them and then enjoy them while they last.

Wildflowers often inspire simple haiku poetry...

Snow melts flowers grow
Pasture grass is lush and green
Dotted with color


And into May we joyfully go!






April 27, 2018

A Grateful Heart


Happy Friday to you, friends. It is a glorious day at our place... nothing but sunshine and it is 76 degrees (F) outdoors. My eighteen-year-old daughter and I enjoyed a brisk two mile walk together in the loveliness this morning and I feel thoroughly refreshed inside and out!

The wildflowers abound around here all of the sudden! Only a few kinds are up... but we are greatly enjoying the appearance of the many yellowbells and pasqueflowers (prairie crocus) in the pasture.


And the deer and elk and bluebirds... we have felt quite blessed by the creatures and beauty of God's creation this week.

Here are a few recent snippets from my ongoing gratitude list.

:: Northern harrier. We have had this majestic bird of prey nesting on or around our homestead each summer for the past few years. Perhaps the same one... And it is around again! Every day I see it swooping over the pastures and the neighboring land as it hunts. Welcome back, friend!

:: An owl. It woke me up one night this week... calling "who - who - who" from its perch atop the power pole that is not too far from the house. We quietly went to the deck and saw its silhouette in the moonlight. Just wow.

:: Toe-gurt and an owie that finally healed. One of our children had a very minor scratch on their toe that, in spite of this mama's diligent efforts, became infected. A round of prescribed antibiotics has done its job, thankfully, and the owie is nearly gone.

Each day, I gave my youngster some yogurt along with the medicine, as our doctor suggested. And since the medicine was for an infected toe, the yogurt quickly became known as toe-gurt. I found this all quite amusing and I love how we laugh together, around here... and I'm glad my child gave permission for me to share this bit of cuteness with you! {smile}

:: Soup for lunch. I have been making enormous vats full of soup for lunch recently. It is wonderful when it lasts for more than one meal (easy the next day!) but even when my large tribe eats it all up, homemade soup is delicious and frugal and a simple solution to the meal that tends to sneak up on me on a regular basis!

:: My clothesline. Oh what a joy it is to hang my laundry out in the fresh air and sunshine to dry! Using the clothesline has always been one of my favorite homemaking tasks... I love it still.


I hope you have had a week full of goodness where you are friends... and that you feel the joy of a grateful heart everyday.

Love,

April 26, 2018

Six Months Old


Oh how perfectly that first image of Jack captures his playful and boisterous side. We were out in the yard practicing "drop it" during a game of fetch - ha. Jack is an expert retriever (obviously) but isn't always willing to give up his ball so I can toss it again. So we practice by trading the ball for a treat and he gets so excited.

Jack may be the only individual on our homestead that will miss the snow when it finally melts completely this spring. He adores snow like no creature I have ever seen! The drift in our backyard is nearly gone (at last!) so Jack will have to find a new spot to bury his ball.



Indoors, Jack has calmed down quite a bit this month. He rarely visits the laundry basket to select his favorite unwashed items these days, and we are once again able to leave our shoes by the front door without them being carried off.

He lost his baby teeth this month. The kids thought it was fun to find them here and there... and now that his adult teeth are in his chewing has greatly subsided. He does still chew on things he shouldn't occasionally, but he seems to be testing his boundaries more than anything else.

And he is my faithful companion, still. What a friend to me Jack is! Wherever I go, he goes... and I love it. So that he isn't underfoot in the kitchen, I am teaching him to keep an eye on me from the dining room. I can hardly believe how big he is getting!


Here he is with his beloved ball again, looking nearly white in the sunshine. Perhaps this is the best representation of Jack at six months old... ready to play, tail wagging, with his ball in his mouth.


What a joy this dog is to all of us around here! We all 💕 love him and I am quite sure that the feels the same way about us.

Kindly,


April 25, 2018

Homemade Whole Grain Cornmeal Rolls

Today, I would like to share with you my recipe for whole grain cornmeal rolls. Often, I simply make a pan or two of rolls from the whole wheat sourdough bread dough that I use for our daily bread.

But sometimes, I like to add another bread baking session to the week so I can make up a batch of these cornmeal rolls. They are delicious, we think.

It is also convenient to make this recipe if I happen to have enough leftover cornmeal grits... but that doesn't happen very often. Significant leftovers of any kind are a rarity with this growing tribe of mine!

Here is the recipe for you...


Homemade Whole Grain Cornmeal Rolls

1/2 cup whole grain cornmeal, medium grind
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup butter
2 1/2 cups milk

1/4 cup warm water
2 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon granulated white sugar

2 eggs, well beaten
5 cups (approximately) whole wheat flour

In a medium saucepan, combine the cornmeal, sugar, salt, butter, and milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to bubble. Continue to cook and stir for one more minute, and do be careful as the bubbling cornmeal tends to splatter.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside. Stir the mixture occasionally as it cools to lukewarm.

In a small bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and teaspoon of sugar. Stir well and set aside.

Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl and beat well. Add the lukewarm cornmeal mixture and stir to thoroughly combine. Stir in the yeast mixture.

Begin adding whole wheat flour to the contents of the large mixing bowl. Add the flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. Continue adding flour until a soft dough is formed, it usually takes about 5 cups of whole wheat flour to make a dough that is soft but not too sticky to handle.

Knead dough lightly in the bowl for a few minutes until smooth. Five minutes or less should be fine. Lightly spray the top of the dough with cooking spray and cover the bowl with a clean cloth. Let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.

Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Punch down risen dough and knead a few times to remove air bubbles. Lightly spray your clean hands with cooking spray to minimize the dough sticking and then roll the dough into balls, placing the balls into the prepared pan to rise. (recipe makes 20 - 24 rolls)

Cover the rolls in the baking pan with the clean cloth and let rise in a warm place until double, approximately 45 minutes. As the end of the rising time nears, preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).

Once the rolls are nicely risen, remove the cloth that covered the pan during rising and place the pan in the preheated 350 degree (F) oven. Bake for about 30 minutes. The rolls are nicely browned on top when done... and they smell amazing!

Carefully remove the finished rolls from the oven and set the pan on a rack to cool to your preferred serving temperature.


I like to serve these rolls while they are still warm, usually alongside a big bowl of homemade soup or chili. I do hope you like them as much as we do...

Enjoy!



April 24, 2018

Outside :: Inside

:: Mags - resting in the hay and sunshine ::

Outside::

The sunrise was a beautiful orange color this morning. I peered out the window at just the right moment to see it crest the distant horizon.

There was a deer in our yard when we opened our blinds. She hopped over the fence when Jack went out. Her herd sisters were bedded down along the edge of our driveway.

I saw a lone cow elk in the distance outside the kitchen window as I prepared my dear hubby's breakfast. What a thrill!

The landscape is a mixture of snow and melted spots and mud. At this moment the sky is a big sheet of clouds as far as I can see. The view is a bright muddy monotone of gray, mostly. It is 35 degrees (F).


Inside::

I read in Genesis by the light of the orange sunrise. It gave the page of my Bible a beautiful hue! I am moving slowly but steadily in my desire to read God's word from cover to cover.

My dear hubby and I had our morning coffee... we talked of current events and how the world is changing, thanking God for His control of it all! And we talked of the glorious day that Jesus will return. O Lord, come!

I chose to dance for my morning fitness endeavor - a fun combination of ballet and then belly dancing today. Ha!

The children are all awake and ready to start the day. So I need to get our green smoothies made... today, I have in mind a combination of bananas, spinach, chia seeds, orange juice concentrate, and milk. Yum!


Wishing you a lovely day where you are ~


April 23, 2018

A Carrot and a Kiss for Matilda

I knew it had snowed again before I even opened the blinds this morning. The natural light had a wintry tint to it... and snow had been predicted... so it wasn't too surprising to peer out the window to a landscape covered in white. And the icicles are back on the bird feeder.

Wasn't it springtime over the weekend? {smile} I am glad for the outdoor projects and fun in the sun of the past few days. Including time with the critters! Matilda heard us enjoying the day and returned to the barnyard from her wanderings in the upper pasture to see what we were up to. She has always liked being near where we are.

After all of these years that cow of mine has become a real friend to me. I had a carrot in my pocket (just in case she did indeed decide to join us) and called her name. She doesn't always come to me when I call her - like many cows, she has a bit of a stubborn streak tucked into her personality - but she usually comes to me.

"Matilda!" Here she comes...





She got her carrot and a pat on the head and a kiss on the nose. Because she likes carrots and I love her. 💖

And while I won't pretend to know what goes on inside that head of hers, I do believe that Matilda - in her own cow-kind-of-way - loves me, too.

Kindly,




April 21, 2018

Suddenly Spring


Today was, in my joyful opinion, the first day of spring on our homestead. Of course the calendar says otherwise, but this day was so chock full of springtime goodness and a perfect combination of work and play. It feels as though spring has finally sprung around here!

For the first time since the long-ago-warm-enough mornings of last autumn, my dear hubby and I began our day with coffee on the deck. Our children slept in, so we had two hours of time to savor coffee and conversation and tossing the ball for Jack to retrieve. Bliss.


As we drank in the view along with our coffees we spotted deer on the hillside across the way and several bluebirds flying about... we also saw a golden eagle and a red-tailed hawk and a northern harrier.  Nearby meadowlarks serenaded us with their cheerful songs and added to the springy-ness of it all.

A bit later, I released the chickens for their daily peckabout. We do still have a snowdrift against the hill in our backyard, but the barnyard is suddenly bursting forth with green and the chickens were eager to roam free!



As my dear hubby and our boys worked on their projects, the girls and I tended to the animals and gave Matilda a treat. That cow of mine loves her carrots.


The girls and I stopped by Matilda's winter space to grab what was left of her selenium block and oh, the view!


After the tasks of the day were done, some of the kids played barnyard basketball and we sat outside to soak up the spring. One of our boys had a ladybug land on his hand, a butterfly flew past (and landed for a moment on that snowdrift that remains in spite of the sunshine) and we celebrated the first wildflower of the year on our farm... a yellowbell (from this post).


I am so glad that today was so warm and wonderful! Just the taste of spring we have been waiting for.

Joyfully,



April 20, 2018

A Grateful Heart


Happy Friday to you, friends! It is *such* a gorgeous day at our place... our afternoon temperature is 76 degrees (F) and the big blue sky is resplendent with just the right amount of puffy fluffy white clouds.

We have just come in from the barnyard where we were discussing and planning and starting (yes, even starting!) some spring and summer homestead maintenance and improvement projects.

We wasted no time in beginning a clean-up project of disassembling and relocating some snow fence panels that have been stacked alongside the garage for long enough. It felt good to work together outside... and I have always agreed with the quote that states "well begun is half done." (I just learned that Aristotle is credited with that quote... I heard it from Mary Poppins. Ha!)

Now, I am going to get my bread in the oven and share with you some snippets from this week's gratitude list while it bakes! (be right back...) {smile}


:: All the deer. They are still around, and I love seeing them. A couple of days ago, there were half a dozen deer bedded down right outside our fenced yard when I opened the blinds. They were facing east, toward the brilliant orange sunrise that was just cresting the horizon. And there was a pair of bluebirds perched on the fence just behind the deer. It was a remarkable and serene scene that I was thrilled to witness.

:: Three red tailed hawks flew directly overhead when my daughter and I were walking outdoors the other day. Birds of prey *always* give me goosebumps when I see them, I love those birds so much!

:: We have a good start on getting our goats' hooves trimmed, thanks to my daughter. Two out of five are done. Yay!

:: I had a dreadful headache the other day... a hormonal migraine, as I tend to get every now and then. My dear hubby made a special trip home from work with a pain reliever formulated for migraines (over-the-counter) and thankfully, it took the edge off of my headache and it was completely gone by the next day. Oh, how thankful I was and how loved I felt!

:: Spring cleaning. We are all going through our closets and drawers and *stuff* to see what we can do without or toss away or donate. I love sprucing things up and adhering to the semi-minimalist habits I adopted a couple of years ago. Strangely enough, I am not nearly as sentimental for "things" as I once was.

:: My cat Ruby. We are friends again... it took her quite some time to forgive me for loving my puppy Jack so much, I guess. But now, she is back to her purring and cuddling self and I often find her waiting for me in my chair in the morning. {smile}

:: Makeovers. Blog makeovers, that is. I asked myself, What would my blogs look like if I made them look exactly how I wanted, without concern of the "right" colors or layouts or fonts or how blogs are "supposed" to look... what if I just made them a true and authentic reflection of me? *Ta-dah!* I do hope you like them as much as I do, I had so much fun designing them these past few days! (my other blogs are here and here)


Well, my bread is nearly done baking - it smells amazing - and I have a big pot of cooked beans to drain and stick in the fridge (for tomorrow's chili) and then it is time to get our family fun night pizza started!

I wish you a cup brimful of things to be grateful for, friends. Thanks for coming by my blog today.



April 18, 2018

Simple Crocheted Dish Scrubbers {Tutorial}


As I was perusing the small craft department at a local shop, I was delighted to discover a textured polyester yarn especially made for crafting dishcloths and pot scrubbers! I have always preferred my own homemade dish scrubbers made from upcycled mesh onion bags, so I felt giddy as I chose a cheerful skein of scrubby™️ yarn in a bright colorway and plopped it into the cart.

Before that day, I had no idea such a yarn existed. Squee!

One skein of the yarn was enough for me to make three dish scrubbers. And to make them cuter, I used bits of cotton yarn I had leftover from some of my ongoing dishcloth making endeavors to add a scalloped edge.

These scrubbers were simple to make, and took about an hour each.


Step One:
Using a size J crochet hook and the scrubby™️ yarn, I made a swatch using the single crochet stitch. The swatch measured about 4 inches wide and 10 inches long when it was finished.

Step Two:
I folded the finished swatch in half (bringing the shorter sides together) to make a double thickness. Using the size J crochet hook and a bit of cotton yarn, I slip-stitched around the edges of the swatch to secure them together.


Step Three:
I changed to a size G crochet hook and did a round of single crochet stitches, one stitch per slip-stitch except for the corner stitches... I did two single crochet stitches in those.


Step Four:
I did one more row around each scrubber with my cotton yarn and size G hook. For this final row, I did three stitches (single crochet, double crochet, single crochet) in each single crochet stitch of the previous row.

Then, I simply used a slip-stitch to join the last stitch of the final row to the first stitch of that row and tied it off.


Aren't they cute? And they are wonderful for washing dishes by hand. I toss them into the washer with a load of towels when they get dirty and let them air dry.

I hope my plain-terms written tutorial is simple for you to understand and follow if you wish to make some crocheted dish scrubbers like mine. And if you do make them... enjoy!

Love,

April 17, 2018

Near and Deer

We are so blessed to live in the beautiful state of Montana. In our area, we are surrounded by abundant open space and fresh air and we share the land with a variety of wildlife... I took my camera along when we returned our adult daughter and grand-dog Juno from our homestead to their place last weekend.

On the way out to the frontage road, we saw a pair of sandhill cranes in a field alongside the creek.


Just over the mountain pass, there was a pair of red tailed hawks perched atop the cross brace of some power lines.


And in the still-snowy field next to them, there was another pair of sandhill cranes!


The snow is so sporadic this time of the year... it is nearly melted - even in the mountains - where our adult daughter lives.


A bit closer to home, we drove past the remains of old time "coke ovens" that were once used in coal mining. These days, they are overgrown with bushes and crumbling from age.


Near the coke ovens, we spotted a herd of deer grazing in a bare hay field.


Such a lovely day in our neighborhood!


I am thankful that we live in such a beautiful place. I hope you enjoyed seeing it! {smile}

Kindly,



most popular