A Grateful Heart

Happy Friday to you, friends. It is a breezy day at our place and 68 degrees (F) outdoors, not quite as smoky as it has been. Quite the perfect weather, I thought, for me to finish my outdoor running training program! I felt so pleased to hear the final *ding* of my phone when my running time was complete after that final session.

I tend to keep most of my body positive fitness activities over on Run Hoop Julie... that sister-blog to this one is more about my personal journey of authenticity and body positivity and overcoming and changing and so on... but I am indeed *grateful* because I used to have an exercise obsession and eating disorder and to overcome that and have a healthy relationship with food and fitness feels amazing. All glory to the Lord! I am a body positive just-for-fun runner!

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

:: My cow-friend Matilda. She has made me so happy for the eight-and-a-half years that I have had her. I called her to the yard the other day and she came (such a big puppy, she is) for a pat and a scratch and an apple. {smile} I love her.

:: Healing. Our child's hand injury from last weekend is healing well, and won't require any additional medication or any follow-up treatment. So thankful!

And my boisterous pup Jack is healing very well from being neutered. I think he already forgot about it... he is as wild-and-happy as ever. Ha!

:: Home food production. It didn't last long, the four pints of chokecherry syrup that I made from our very own chokecherries (!) but it was oh-so delicious!

:: Pretty journals. I bought a very cute notebook for my homeschool lesson plans and record keeping... it is larger than ordinary notebooks and it has a blue flowery cover and a folder inside along with its many blank pink-lined pages. Perfect! *And* I treated myself to a daily planner that I am using for *everything* from notes to thoughts to doodles and so on. Such simple and fun pleasures!

:: That deer. This handsome fella. His split ear and lovely antlers make him easy to spot, even when he is with the other deer that frequent our farm. Such a pleasure it has been to watch him grow all summer. We see him nearly every day!

:: My dear family. That I get to spend my days with the six of our blessings yet at home, and that our son and daughter who are grown up and on their own keep in touch. I had a lovely long conversation with each of them this week... so grateful!

We aren't a perfect family. We don't all agree on every issue. We are rarely all together in one place... I have but a small handful of family photos of the ten of us side-by-side and our oldest son lives all the way across the country from our homestead. That used to make me sad and the images of big smiling families all gathered together would tempt me to envy and self-pity, honestly.

But I wouldn't trade what I have for anything. This is me, we are us. Imperfect, real. Meant for each other. The Lord says to not have *any* idols... and for me, that meant letting go of my own idea of what large family life should be. And since I did that I have found more joy and satisfaction in being a mama of many than ever before. Praise the Lord!

I am thankful to be a traditional homemaker. Homesteading in a skirt. I am smart, strong, authentic, equal to my hubby in worth, and I am happily submissive to him. I wear my headcovering not only to obey Scripture, but also as an outward sign to my dear hubby and everyone else that it is my *joy* to be under his leadership in our home and in my life. And he is such a kind and wonderful man... what a blessing it is to be his wife! Feminism baffles me. I prefer to be cherished. I am grateful that I am.

Thank you for coming by my blog today, friends. And for following my thoughts here and here as well. I'll meet you back here in this space in September, okay? {smile} Can you believe September begins tomorrow?!


End of August on the Homestead

And here we are at the end of August. Our twenty-first year of homeschooling is well underway. We have had our first wood stove fire of the season. There was a recent skiff of fresh late summer snow in the nearby mountains. I am in the mood to make or bake something nearly all of the time, it seems, as summer has begun a perceptible transition to autumn. I *love* this time of the year. {smile}

:: Matilda ::
The air is still quite smoky, most days. We don't have any fires nearby that I am aware of but my children still think it "smells like a campfire" outdoors and there is a haze in the distance and hovering over the mountain that we live on. We continue to pray for the safety of those directly affected by the fires that are still burning.

The pastures crunch beneath our feet when we walk through them since the tall grass is so dry, and only the hardiest of wildflowers remain.

:: lovely lady ::
Our hens have been roaming each day and gobbling up the grasshoppers that seem to thrive during the end-of-summer dry weather. Most of our chickens are getting quite old but they are still blessing me with enough eggs to keep my homestead kitchen supplied, for now.

We lost one of our old chickens this month. That leaves me with a teeny flock of eight hens. Lord willing, we will be getting more chicks in the spring.

:: some of our happy ducks ::
Our ducks are laying occasionally, too! We have three female ducks in our bunch of six. Again... thinking of adding to the numbers in the spring! {smile}

:: chicken walkabout ::
The grasses in the barnyard and close to our house are still pretty green. Our chickens roam about each day to do what free-range chickens do. We have been rotating our goats onto the grass, too.

I found the *cutest* wethers for sale recently... they were perfect in every way except they still had horns. We have maintained a hornless herd for many years and as tempting as it was to bring those fellas home to our farm I had to tell myself no. Patience, patience!

Our quest for more dairy goats continues as well. I am purchasing goat milk at our local grocer for now and I can't wait to have our farm produced goat milk again someday.

And we are thrilled that we got our three biggest winter prep projects completed this month. Our propane tank is filled, we got our hay, and we got our firewood. Woot!

:: my first loaf of artisan sourdough bread ::
Do I need another hobby? {smile} I must because I am becoming interested in artisan bread baking. After baking nearly all of our daily bread and buns and rolls and other baked goods for the past twenty-five years I have become interested in making my loaves kinda artsy. Fancy, but in a rustic way.

Ralph (my sourdough starter) and I have been baking together for about eight years (Ralph is fantastic!) and today we made our first loaf of sourdough artisan bread. I used a knife to score the top and just went for it. I was pleased with my first attempt... it does smell delicious.

:: smoky August sunset ::
One more day and August will be but a memory. For me, it will be a good one. I do hope that August was a good month for you as well, friends.


Winter Preps :: Firewood

We began heating our home almost exclusively with wood about nine years ago. I remember trying to discreetly nurse our daughter who was but a wee babe at the time as the workers were in-and-out of our home installing our wood stove. That baby girl is nine years old now and that is how I know how long we have been heating our little house with wood. {smile}

Only a few times each year do we use our back-up propane furnace just to keep it maintained and in good repair. One winter with our wood stove was all we needed to convince us that it is a much better and cozier and thriftier option for us than a furnace.

We used to hike into the woods and harvest our own firewood and bring it home to cut up and split. But for the past several years, we have instead ordered a four cord truck load or two of Douglas fir slab wood.

The slab wood has been such a blessing! It is mostly already cut to the length we need for our stove and not much of it needs to be split. It burns really well for us. It is a frugal option that saves us a lot of time and it recycles wood remnants that, as far as I know, wouldn't have another purpose. So it feels like a pretty good choice for us for lots of reasons!

This year, we only needed one four cord sized load of wood to add to our firewood stack to supplement what we already had. We like to keep about seven cords on hand for preparedness purposes, but we usually only burn about half of that through the cold months.

And now our firewood is here and stacked and ready for us when we need it! I anticipate simmering pots of soups and stews upon our wood stove... cozy evenings crafting by the fire... warm and comfy family movie nights... and my freshly washed laundry drying on a rack nearby... soon and very soon!


Making Chokecherry Syrup

I have mentioned that for the past little while we had been on a bit of a hiatus from our homesteading endeavors. For lots of reasons, we had decided to take a break from many of the projects and makings and do-it-ourselves-doings that come with the blessing of a simple life.

So last year, and perhaps the year before that if I remember, were a tad quieter than usual for us in the realm of homesteading.

The simple life is actually a lot of work in many ways, in our experience. And I, especially, needed that break to rest and re-evaluate. It was nice to have that time of simply enjoying our family and homeschooling and animals and property with a shorter to-do list and fewer chores... To purchase some of the foods and things that I often make myself. To choose to use my electric dryer more often than I used my clothes line. To buy rather than handcraft any of my Christmas gifts. To set aside my extra-crunchy-mama ways for a season.

It was good and necessary for us to pause and pray and plan and think about what direction we wanted our simple life on our farm to take now that we are debt-free and there have been so many changes in our family and world since we first embarked on our homesteading adventure nearly eighteen years ago.

Then, a few months ago, we began to feel the persistent desire to ease back into the deliberately self-sufficient (God-sufficient) and frugal and homemade simple lifestyle that we have lived and loved for years. I felt the pull of the land and the prompting of the Lord and it reawakened and rekindled my homesteading hopes and dreams.

It is such a blessing to be a one-income debt-free family and to have the skills and experience that we have collected over the many years on our homestead to draw from as we raise this large tribe of ours on our land. We want our family's memories to include lots of time in the out-of-doors and home food production and caring for animals and working with our own hands and enjoying each other and our homestead.

Is a homesteading lifestyle a lot of work? Yes, it most certainly is... but it is the kind of joyful and meaningful work that leaves us feeling satisfied and content. Close to God, close to home, and close to one another. And after that recent period of rest, we are practically itching to get back to it!

So this summer, I was pretty excited as the chokecherries began to ripen. We left them all for the birds last year, but this year I had chokecherry syrup making at the very top of my list of must-do keeper-at-home tasks.

We harvested the first chokecherries of the season from one of the bushes that grows alongside our long and winding mountainside driveway. From just that one bush, we foraged nearly a gallon of ripe and beautiful chokecherries!

I rinsed them and then cooked them with a bit of water so they would soften and I could extract their juice. What a cozy feeling it was for us all as the comfortable aroma of simmering chokecherries wafted from the pan and filled our little house.

Soon, I had my cooked chokecherries strained and started a pan of the chokecherry juice mixed with white sugar briskly bubbling on the stove top.

And my yield was four pints of delicious chokecherry syrup!

With a family as large as ours it would be quite an impractical undertaking for me to try to make *all* of our fruit syrups and jams and jellies and to put up all of our canned foods. But I do what I am able and that is enough. {smile} Our food storage is a lovely mix of both purchased and homemade items that we enjoy.

Oh... this wee batch of syrup is the first I have ever made using chokecherries that were exclusively harvested on our own land! Homegrown *and* homemade! And what a thrill it was for us to savor the familiar first taste of my homemade chokecherry syrup again. *Grateful!*

Ah.... I love love love the simple life. ๐Ÿ’—

Ten Months Old

Happy five-sixths of a birthday to Jack! Here he is with his ball and what remains of the huge stick he found and brought home from our day trip to Pine Creek last month. These three - my dog, his stick, and his beloved blue-and-orange ball - spend a lot of time together, ha!

And he does love to wade in the water. Here is Jack ankle deep in our own stretch of the creek that runs across our property. With that one ear tossed back... Jack's signature look. {smile}

Jack was neutered last week. It was pure happiness to retrieve him from the veterinary clinic that day. I am quite lost without this best friend of mine by my side since I have grown so accustomed to his constant companionship.

He was so glad to see me and get back to our homestead... once home, even in his woozy post-surgery state, he found his ball and took it with him when he found a comfy spot to rest and begin his recovery.

By the next day, Jack was once again full of energy and back to his playful ways. We are to keep him as quiet as possible for two weeks... yikes! Quiet is *not* a word that often describes my boisterous Labrador Retriever!

And here is my pretty pup relaxing on the deck over the weekend. I think that is sap on his leg... we have been stacking firewood and he loves to be in the middle of things.

I am sooo glad his neutering surgery is over with. I was a tiny bit concerned about the procedure since it was surgery, but what I really didn't want to do was leave him at the veterinary clinic and be apart from him for the day. I was afraid he would think I had really left him, I guess. A silly concern, I suppose... but I just love him so much, I never want my fur-baby to be anything but happy.

Oh, and Jack weighed fifty-six pounds at his pre-surgery weight check. 56! My goodness, puppies do grow up quite fast! {smile}

Wishing you a lovely day.

A Grateful Heart

Happy Friday to you, friends. It has been a happy-busy and rather smoky week on our homestead. We began what is my twenty-first year of enjoying the blessing of teaching our children at home.

I don't think I will ever be an expert at homeschooling (is anyone?) but after all of these many years we have developed a rhythm in our eclectic learning lifestyle that combines traditional homeschooling and unschooling and structure and freedom in a way that proves very effective for us. And fun... lots of fun, my children tell me. {smile}

This year, the Cazier Family Home School (that's us) ranges from first grade through eleventh. And I have a lovely helper and assistant in our recently graduated stay-at-home daughter! *Grateful!*

My own at-home studies are resuming, too. I have been studying the Hebrew language and American Sign Language for the past few years. My progress has been slow-and-steady as I have also delved into Israeli culture and become interested in Messianic and saved by grace alone Torah Observant lifestyles.

People and other cultures do fascinate me. We are all God's children and Jesus died for everyone! And while I am quite content on our twenty-acre piece of Montana and have no desire to travel or roam, learning about places of the world near and far is quite fun and fascinating, I think.

My ASL studies have spilled over into my hooping a bit as I have an interest in combining ASL music interpretation with hoopdance flow. It thrills my heart to sign hymns and Christian music and flow and I love to praise the Lord this way! I also love to study poetry... and to learn along with my dear children as they explore their own gifts and interests. I teach my children basic Hebrew and ASL for part of their studies, too.

And real life lessons abound in our creative homesteading lifestyle. Crafts. Music. Animals. Projects and diy endeavors. Not to mention our large tribe's extra-curricular activities... So, I am quite thankful that we are a homeschooling family or there would not be time for all of this togetherness and learning! Whew! (I do love it, can you tell?)

Along with *thankfulness* at beginning another school year, here are a few more snippets from my ongoing gratitude list this week~

:: This deer. I have grown quite fond of him as I have watched him grow all summer. He is the biggest deer on the mountain - as far as I know - and easy to recognize not only because of his majestic antlers but also by his split ear.

Last night, he was right outside the fence of our yard munching weeds and grass in the drain field. He gave me a casual look and calmly sauntered across the pasture with his smaller, 2-point deer friend.

:: Chokecherries. We picked wild chokecherries on our homestead this week and ended up with nearly a gallon of them. I made syrup with those beautiful foraged chokecherries... the first time I have made something with chokecherries harvested exclusively on our own land. So fun!

:: Matilda. My beautiful cow-friend. She was in heat last week. It has been many years (seven?) since her last calf was born and we milked Matilda. I *miss* those days and the never-ending supply of rich Jersey milk. I am feeling the itch to resume home dairying with another cow or perhaps more goats (or both?) but Matilda will live out her days without being bred again. Simply grazing and enjoying the magnificent view... Lord willing, she will live many more years as my loved and pampered pet.

:: Lingering wildflowers. I found these beauties tucked in behind my thriving patch of spearmint. I thought they looked so cute next to the tall stems of the mint plants.

There is always something to be grateful for. I find that I feel the most gratitude and notice my blessings best when I am...

Staying close to Jesus and pouring myself heart and soul into my family, home, and homestead; the life and calling that God has given me. * Not comparing to others, not complaining in thought or word, not explaining or defending my life or my choices. * Mindfully abiding in the moment and leaning on the Lord every minute while manifesting joyful authenticity. * Being myself. * Serving others. * Pleasing and obeying my own wonderful husband because it is my joy to do so. * Letting things go. * Avoiding drama and the people who thrive on it, as much as possible. * Giving grace to myself and others. *

And when I do those things... gratitude abounds because I notice my many many blessings! God is good all the time. So good!

Thank you so much for coming by my blog today, friends. Do have a peek around my previous posts and archive if you are new to my ramblings, and I invite you to visit my other blogs here and here if you like what you see. {smile}

Wishing you a lovely weekend~

Teeny Tiny Surprise

It has been a pleasure to observe all of the recent hummingbird activity around our property and yard and fence and feeder. Such bold defenders of their space they are, one to another! We have been amazed and entertained at the hummingbird battles we have witnessed as the wee critters zoom about and chase each other... often with an audible impact between them after the swift buzzing sound of a pair flying past.

And yet, they seem quite gentle and sweet toward us as we stand near the feeder and watch and sometimes photograph them. Several of our large tribe have experienced the joy of holding the feeder whilst a tiny hummingbird or two perched upon its edge and sipped from its openings.

The other day as I was holding the feeder, a hummingbird landed and had one foot upon my finger as it perched to drink the nectar. Such a light touch it was! A simple pleasure to savor and remember indeed.

All of the activity of the migrating hummingbirds has led to me taking the feeder down quite often for a scrub and a nectar refill. What a surprise it was to discover a hummingbird feather stuck onto the edge of one of the feeder holes...

In all of our years of feeding hummingbirds on our homestead I have never seen a feather left behind on the feeder before this one. It is the teeny-tiniest feather I have ever seen! The feather blew away when I took the feeder down so I am grateful that I took a picture of it when I did. {smile}

Wishing you a fantastic day,

Handknit Dishcloths

Oooo... today I have some recently finished handknit dishcloths to show you, friends. These simple projects went along with me to all kinds of places over the summer. Day trips, the park, the creek, appointments, activities... I like to take a simple handwork project along with me when I am out-and-about just in case I feel prompted to grab a crafty moment.

After all of my many years of homemaking, I have tried quite a variety of purchased dishcloths for my kitchen tasks. And most of them have ended up in my rag bag or donate pile in no time. My minimalist tendencies have taught me to just pass those other kinds along right away to someone who will use them because handknit cotton dishcloths are what I prefer!

Earlier this summer, I purchased a big cone of cotton yarn in a variegated colorway that I thought was cute and began making pairs of some of my favorite simple go-to dishcloth patterns that I have discovered and enjoyed using through the years. As well as my first seed-stitch dishcloths... those were fun to craft.

Six new handknit dishcloths are a good start to restocking my dwindling supply. And I am looking forward to knitting many, many more!


Our Stretch of the Creek

Only just now are we starting to spend regular time this summer at our stretch of the creek. The raging high waters of spring kept us away... then the beauty of nearby places beckoned us away from our farm for day trips... then it was that homesteading to-do list that simply cannot be ignored for long... and then we discovered a creekside nest of hornets that had to be tended to before we could all truly relax and enjoy the blessing of having our very own creek on our property.

After ridding the pasture of those pesky hornets and then clearing a lovely spot amidst the tall dry grass in the area on Saturday, we all were quick to say - Sure! - when the suggestion of a Sunday evening trip to the creek was made at last.

One of the first discoveries as we settled in for some family time in one of our favorite places was this pretty butterfly in the pasture. Its wings were injured for some reason, so I offered it my finger and it climbed right on. I carefully set it upon the leaves of a nearby bush. It made me so happy to help this wee creature to safety! I love butterflies.

The creek is only a few inches deep in most places now. Perfect for a splashabout and some water play time for our children and my boisterous pup Jack.

We discovered some *very* tart gooseberries along this stretch of creek. Not enough to harvest for jam or pie making, but plenty to forage and enjoy on the spot.

This is the spacious patch of pasture that my hubby and our boys cleared for us. We estimate that the cuttings were equivalent to two or three bales of hay. It isn't much, but because of it our critters did indeed eat some homegrown hay this year.

And I love to celebrate even the tiniest homesteading accomplishments and every wee step of self-sufficiency we are blessed to achieve. Woot!

Wet. Tongue-wagging. Happy. That is Jack at the creek! {smile}

We searched for signs of impending autumn. And we found some! The trees and bushes alongside the creek are beginning to look like fall is in the air, indeed.

So pretty! I love love love this time of the year.

The fish weren't interested in being caught-and-released this time. But it is always fun to try, I am told.

Yes, fall is suddenly in the air. And today is rainy and cozy and only 48 degrees (F). It was our first official day of our twenty-first year of homeschooling in our family. I baked sourdough bread and got the laundry mostly caught up, and there is a turkey in the oven for dinner. Did I mention that I *love* this time of the year? ๐Ÿฆ‹


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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