End of July on the Homestead

Our loyal senior cat Stinky Winky keeping watch over the barnyard in the evening light.

A friendly moment shared between my two bestest animal friends, Jack and Matilda. 💕 Oh, how I love these two!

Dwindling wildflowers in the pasture. And a few more of them - here.

Farm fresh eggs from our well-loved hens. Using and eating surplus eggs from our homestead farm sanctuary's own hens is a blessing and does not compromise my own personal vegan convictions and beliefs a bit.

Our hens have amazing lives with us and freedom to safely roam our barnyard and they lay according to their natural rhythms. It would be silly to let their eggs go to waste, I think.

A sweet moment between Bailey and Clementine, our rescued Pygmy goats. We don't know with certainty, but it is quite likely that they are mother and daughter.

Pretty purple flowers growing atop by thriving patch of spearmint.

And the first sign of autumn's approach has been discovered on our homestead! While on a walkabout around the pasture last evening, my dear hubby and I discovered some leaves that have begun to don their fall colors.

It was a productive month on our homestead... in July we finished our painting projects and tended to some extra cleaning and de-cluttering and needed repairs around the homestead. And we managed to get away for a couple of day trip adventures and picnics and afternoons at the park, too. A rather good mix of work and play indeed!

And into August we go... 🍂

A Grateful Heart

Happy Friday to you, friends. Just a moment ago, as I was preparing to begin my gratitude post and reflecting upon the goodness and blessings of this week, a hummingbird came to the feeder that is directly out the window before me. Oh, what a wonderful treat! Hummingbird sightings have been oddly rare thus far this summer, so I am hopeful that perhaps that is about to turn around and we will once again have regular visitors to our feeder before the season passes.

As I have shared with you all, I often enjoy listening to sermons online throughout the week. And I have a favorite pastor from Oregon that I especially love... his teaching style is a wonderful match for my understanding and comprehension and his messages and insights have enabled me to grow greatly as a believer.

But I have gotten a bit behind in my listening. It has been niggling at me (thank you, Lord!) so this morning I decided to listen to a sermon rather than music while I did my morning run.

And wow, just wow. You know how sometimes it is as if the words that God brings to your ears are meant just for you, and speak perfectly to your needs and situation? Well, that is just what happened to me today. I was so grateful! And the amazing thing is that I needed those words *today* so it actually was a good thing that I was a bit behind in my listening.

I truly felt washed by the word today. As though the bits of anxiety and other icky-ness that I had inadvertently allowed to creep into my thoughts were swept away and replaced by Truth. I am so refreshed and encouraged and oh-so thankful for it. {smile}

And I enjoyed a lovely run in the out-of-doors with Jack beside me and our goats looking on. It was a very good start to the day and end to my planned running for the week.

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

:: Deer. We are still seeing lots of them around our farm sanctuary homestead. So pretty they are!

:: Blogging. In just a few days, this blog and then Run Hoop Julie will both be a year old. And Images of a Happy Gentle Life is nearly at its half-birthday. This makes me so happy... I really enjoy blogging. I like taking pictures and planning posts and writing and editing and web design. All of it!

But even more than that, I love the positive effect that blogging has on every part of my life. My blogs inspire me to notice things, to pay attention, to make-and-do things, to be creative. They help me to be organized and manage my time. They are an outlet for my thoughts and creativity and show me how far I have come and how far I have yet to go.

They contain memories and hopes and dreams. They keep me humble. They make me brave. They help me to celebrate the simple and ordinary life that I have been blessed with. My one unique and wonderful journey of being.

My blogs are a place to store recipes that my kids say they want to make someday. And to chronicle our homesteading adventures and snippets of all the wonders of daily life in this large family of ours.

And I do so love being a part of this blogosphere that is laden with lovely and interesting people who simply want to share a bit of themselves, their talents, their struggles, their stories.

If you enjoy reading any of my posts or visiting my blogs, I sincerely thank you for stopping by. Lord willing, I intend to continue my blogging endeavors for a long long time to come. {smile}

:: Compost heap wheat. What a discovery! I have a miniature stand of homegrown wheat thriving behind Matilda's building!

If the deer don't get to it first, I hope to harvest it and grind my own homegrown wheat to add to my homemade bread.

That is one of my long-time homesteading dreams... way back when, before we had even found our land and still lived in town, I dreamt of making a batch of bread from homegrown wheat. All of these years later, that dream just might become a reality!

Whether it does or not, this wee surprise has reignited in me the desire to grow some of our own food here on our twenty-acre homestead.

Thank you for coming by my blog today, friends. 💛 I wish you a lovely day and a cup brimful of gratitude wherever you are.


Nine Months Old

Nine months since my pup was born and just over seven months it has been since Jack bounded into our hearts and homestead as a wee wiggling bundle of love. Nine months old! And outwardly, he looks rather grown up.

His behavior and endless energy and enthusiasm for life are evidence that he is still pure puppy on the inside!

A highlight of this past month in Jack's life was likely our family trip to the mountains last weekend. It was our first day trip to the wilderness that Jack has been a part of and oh my, I do think he approved...

My dear hubby gave me so much more than a dog when he surprised me with Jack last Christmas. He gave me a loyal companion and a protector and a confidante and a best friend... in an adorable, furry, boisterous package. {smile} This dog makes me feel so unconditionally loved.

And it is true... maybe you have noticed?... that all of us on this happy gentle homestead love our sweet dog Jack, too!

Okay, maybe Ruby merely tolerates him. Ha!


The Rest of the Paint

The coolness of our recent evenings has been quite refreshing, especially since our daytime temperatures of late have climbed rather near 100 degrees (F). I find it to be a lovely time, as it begins to cool off for the day, to putter about the barnyard and simply enjoy the company of the critters that live with us on our farm sanctuary homestead.

And while wildflower season is passing by all-too-quickly, there are still a few pretties growing here and there practically begging to be photographed in the light of the golden hour. {smile}

Since Jack was busy playing fetch with one of our children back in our fenced yard, I took some moments to visit with my lady friends. My puppy is doing quite well around the critters on our farm, but still needs to be closely supervised with the chickens as he learns to control his chasing impulses.

So I think that our hens were a lot more relaxed with Jack occupied in the yard. I know I was!

Our chickens are the sweetest creatures and do seem to like being held and talked to. So I cuddled a few of them on my way to chat with Matilda.

And here she is, my barnyard best friend. Matilda was hanging out in her corral with Shadow - an image of that sweet moment is here - but she came right over to me to see if I had brought her a treat. Of course I did!

And as I was petting my cow, I remembered that I wanted to show you the small painting project that made such a big change in the overall look of our barnyard.

After we finished painting our duck coop and chicken coop, we had just enough red paint left to do the entrances to Matilda's shelter and the building in the largest pen. We have decided to save the task of painting the entire larger building for next year (Lord willing). But Matilda's building is metal and painting its entrance was just what it needed.

Here is what it looked like before, with just the bare wood. Functional, yes, but not very pretty...

But what a difference an hour's time and some leftover paint made, yes?

Looks good, if I do say so myself! And that is the end of our painting improvements in the barnyard for this season. We are quite pleased to scratch that to-do off of our summer project list.


Day Trip to Pine Creek

It was a weekend of leisure for us, a rare luxury to have a project-free summer weekend amidst the daily responsibilities of life on our bustling farm sanctuary homestead. Especially since though it is yet July, autumn and winter seem just around the corner with all of the projects and preps yet to be done.

But we as a family do enjoy our day trips. They are like mini vacations, usually frugal, and allow us to have lots of adventures and get-aways while still tending to our farm. The extra blessing is that we live in the beautiful state of Montana where wide open spaces abound, simply beckoning at us to get out there and enjoy them.

And then we are home to care for our critters and sleep in our own beds again that night. Quite perfect, we think. {smile}

So this weekend found us at one of our favoritest of favorite places. We have spent time in the mountains at Pine Creek every summer for as long as I can remember. And it has been the traditional birthday outing for our girls with summer birthdays... so we pretty much *had* to get up there!

Amazingly, the same spot we always use was empty when we arrived. We moved in to the area and began exploring and enjoying the day. It was my puppy Jack's first trip to the mountains and I do think he loved it as much as the rest of us do.

It was a beautiful sunny day... not too hot but plenty warm. We saw so many butterflies about, flittering here and there and landing on the wildflowers and the towering pine trees. This summer has been the summer of butterflies, I think.

The eight of us plus Jack hiked the trails and made our way to the creek.

If I could have, I would have captured the scent and sound of this spot to bring home with me and savor in the days to come. It was magical.

So we made ourselves comfy and the fisher-people tried some catch-and-release fly fishing and the rest of us explored the space.

Our kids are such nature babies and how my heart rejoices to see them wild and free in the out-of-doors while respectfully exploring the beauty and wonders of creation. It was a good day for finding slugs next to the water.

Treasures found. And one happy just-turned-seven year old boy who was pretty sure the sparkly rocks contained diamonds. {smile}

Fly-casting into the creek is fun even when the fish aren't biting, I am told.

The coolness of the water rushing over my feet. Ahhhhh.

After nearly thirty years of being a mama, I have settled into a rhythm of watchful relaxation with my children. We play, we explore, they stay where I am always in their sight as they make adventures. All of nature becomes a classroom with our eclectic approach to homeschooling.

And then we ate our lunch at this table. We had a picnic of sandwiches and chips and fruit and trail mix and then savored the remaining moments in the surrounding woods before we cleaned up and headed back down the mountain. I had to turn for one last image of this special spot before we drove away. It is a happy place for me. Another lovely day at this place in the woods is now etched upon my mama-heart.

Thank you for joining me here today, friends. I wish you a beautiful day.

A Grateful Heart

Happy Friday to you, my friends. I am glad you came by my blog today so I can share with you the beautiful orange-and-blue sunset that we were blessed to see earlier this week. There has been a bit of smoke in the air and it does cause the sunrises and sunsets to be extra spectacular and colorful.

One of my children once asked me which I prefer... sunrises or sunsets. Isn't that an interesting question to ponder?

At the time, I immediately said sunrises because for some reason sunsets used to make me feel kinda sad. But they don't anymore, so I really couldn't choose a favorite now. I love the very beginning of another day that comes with each sunrise, full of hope and wonder for what will come.

And the sunset brings with it a sense of satisfaction. Of believing that whatever happened that day was for my good and God's glory. Of letting go, of resting. The end of another day on the homestead.

So I choose... both. I love sunrises *and* sunsets. Can I do that? Of course I can. {smile}

The once abundant wildflowers are beginning to dwindle a bit as summer keeps marching on. The once plentiful rain upon our land has subsided and many of the wildflowers are coming to the end of their glory for this season.

But the ones that remain are beautiful. These purple ones were quite cheerful looking in the back pasture as my dear hubby and Jack and I were enjoying a recent walkabout.

And the blanket flowers are still bringing a smile to my face as I pass by their beauty. I'm a little surprised that there are any of them left as blanket flowers are a favorite for the child-picked bouquets that line my kitchen windowsill all summer long.

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

:: Self discovery. I usually write more about this kind of thing over on Run Hoop Julie, but learning recently that I am blessed with the INFJ-T personality has been such a fascinating and exciting realization that I had to include it on my gratitude list here.

As I read about INFJ-T - its traits, strengths, and weaknesses - I find myself excitedly thinking, or even saying aloud, "yes! that is me! how does this writer know me so well?" to so much of what I learn and discover. I look forward to exploring this some more!

While it isn't a surprise to me, it is kinda fun to have confirmation that I am indeed a happy introvert!

:: A hummingbird, finally. It has been a quiet summer thus far for hummingbird activity at our place. But this morning, as I was running with Jack, I spotted a hummingbird perched upon our fence. I didn't see it visit the feeder, but it was definitely sizing up its options.

:: Those foxes. We thought they had all moved on, but my dear hubby has seen two of them near their woodpile home this week. I am glad they are still around.

:: Knitting. I have been making dishcloths to replenish my dwindling supply of handknits for my kitchen. It takes me about three days to knit one up, I prefer to keep a leisurely and enjoyable pace. The last one I made was knitted in seed-stitch and I am quite happy with it.

:: In the books. Our 2017-2018 homeschool year... which was my twentieth year of homeschooling our children!.. is officially behind us. The graduate's transcript is complete and the rest of the paperwork and record keeping is up-to-date. Woot! I am quite pleased with it all. And I now get to enjoy a brief hiatus before I begin preparing for and planning my twenty-first year of teaching my children at home.

I will only have five students next year. Oh my, these sweet babes of mine are growing up so fast!

There is always something to be grateful for. Even as I type these words, I could let my mind wander to things in my own life that I wish were different... nobody's life is perfect. But I refuse to water those thoughts or to pay them any mind. Move along, dark cloud, and make room for the sunshine! My trust is in the Lord and that is where it shall stay.

Wishing you a cup brimful of gratitude where you are.

Homestead Wildflowers in Purple

I thought that since I shared with you a show-and-tell of the lovely yellow wildflowers that dot the pastures of our homestead, it would be fun to have a look-see at a few of the purple beauties as well.

All of the wildflowers have been abundant this summer, and the butterflies are numerous, too. We haven't seen as many songbirds and hummingbirds upon our feeders as usual, though. Just this week the goldfinches have begun visiting regularly. Perhaps we will see more of them as the season moves on.

In the meantime, there are plenty of wildflowers to enjoy!


Chicken Coop Makeover

Another summer homesteading project is complete. And it was a much needed one... our sweet chickens' cozy home was beginning to look rather shabby...

Our homestead chicken coop has served us (and our birds) well in the seventeen years it has stood on the hillside. My dear hubby built it for me when we got our very first chicks way back in the spring of 2001.

And this year... "refurbish the chicken coop"... was a must-do task on our list of barnyard projects. It was definitely showing signs of wear-and-tear from its time in the wind and the weather, and daily use by our lovely chicken ladies.

We replaced broken boards and leveled the run. Screws were tightened and hinges straightened. The building was scraped and scrubbed and given two coats of fresh paint.

And oh my was all of that work worth it...

The chicken coop looks so wonderful now! 

I couldn't be happier with the makeovers... first the duck coop, and now the chicken coop. There was enough paint left to spruce up Matilda's building and the shelter in the large pen, too. What an unexpected blessing that was. Things are looking good all around the barnyard these days!


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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