End of October on the Homestead

Here we are at the final day of October. Already. I wasn't going to mention it again, how quickly time flies by around here, but it is oh so true I just couldn't help myself. {smile} It is snowing ever-so-lightly at our place right now, and there is just a bit of snow on the trees higher up on the mountain.

The rhythm of our homesteading tasks has shifted away from gathering (hay, firewood, propane) to one of preparing for the upcoming winter. My dear hubby has been working on his crawler so it will be ready to use on the driveway once the snow flies. The plow is back on the front of the plow truck. Our septic tank was serviced. Seasonal items like outdoor furniture and warm weather toys have been stored away until next spring. Fences have been checked and tightened. A broken rail on Matilda's corral was replaced.

Indoors, October saw us put up and preserve this bounty of friend-grown apples that we were invited to pick. I finished crafting a cozy shawl for myself and began knitting some simple Christmas gifts. I am beginning to look forward to digging my snowshoes out of the closet. Our eclectic homeschooling activities and many farm tasks and craft projects fill our days. And I did my usual baking of bread (especially) and cakes and cookies and whatever else my tribe fancied. Though I have not been successful at finding much time to experiment with artisan baking and bread scoring... perhaps I will delve more into that artsy endeavor in the wintry days to come.

And the holiday season has already begun at our place! Our son's end-of-October birthday (followed by my dog Jack's first birthday) is *the* beginning of so many celebrations and preparations and traditions to come in the next several weeks... one right after another.

We will, Lord willing, enjoy our annual fall costume party family fun night this week. It is loads of fun! And then in addition to celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas and the New Year, we are blessed with a Christmas Eve birthday, a New Year's Day birthday, followed by two more birthdays (one of those will be my fiftieth!) and our thirtieth wedding anniversary mid-January.

Whew! Lots of planning and cooking and baking and making to come. I love the holidays and doing what I can to make all of those days special and meaningful for my tribe, but they can be quite a lot of work... and even seem a bit overwhelming if I am not mindful to simply abide in the moment at hand, noticing and enjoying the abundant blessings.

But right now, at this moment, it is peaceful. My dog is asleep at my feet and my children are working on their school nearby. The parakeets are softly singing to one another (our new addition, Buttercup, has settled right in). My youngest child is practicing his Christmas hymn on the piano. There is a small fire in the wood stove and a fresh pot of coffee in the kitchen... and pumpkin spice flavored creamer at the ready. Outdoors we have a calm and cloudy 38 degrees (F) to go along with the snow. It is a lovely, ordinary day.

And into November we joyfully go...

One Year Old

Somebody very special to us had a birthday over the weekend...

My puppy is now a big boy! My sweet Jack turned one year old on Saturday. Oh how he has grown and truly become one of the family since my dear hubby surprised me with him . . . a dog of my very own! . . . last Christmas.

Remember how little seven week old Jack was when he joined our family?

:: Jack at 7 weeks old :: 
Awww! Such a sweet little Labrador Retriever he was! We all loved him immediately. And now he is *so* much bigger and even sweeter, I think. {smile}

Jack seemed pretty excited about his birthday present on Saturday. Perhaps he recalled the day before, and the family fun and presents and festivities we had for our boy's seventeenth birthday celebration? Jack was right in the middle of all of that!

And he was surely wagging his tail with enthusiasm when I set his gift next to him, as if he knew what to expect.

We got him a new collar and a polar fleece blanket for his birthday. I really like the blue collar on him and Jack *loves* his blanket. He loved and played with his old blanket until it was too tattered to keep, so I was excited to pick this one out and give it to him.

And there was one more thing... we bought him a New York steak for his birthday. It simply *had* to be a New York steak, I mean, he is named for the character Jack Kelly from a play that is based in New York City! My Jack Kelly started drooling when I cut up his steak for him. He sat perfectly still and never took his eyes off of me... and then he did enjoy every last bite of it.

Happy first birthday to my best friend and constant companion. I think he had an extra-good day. I do *love* my dog!


A Grateful Heart

We are celebrating a birthday on this Friday at our place. One of our four boys is seventeen years old today! I am so often wondering to myself as I hug this son of mine who has grown to be six inches taller than I am ... (and I am pretty tall at 5'9") ... how did my baby boy grow up so fast?

We have a good relationship, we enjoy comfortable conversations about any and every topic, and I treasure these days as I have learned through experience that time will continue to fly by all too quickly. So I am especially mindful to abide in the moment at hand during this homeschooling and homesteading season that blesses us with much togetherness. Time does indeed march on.

But today he is seventeen and he let me bake him a candy covered purple caterpillar birthday cake...

Sweet, yes? {smile}

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

Something new. I usually bake our bread with a combination of all-purpose unbleached flour and home-ground whole wheat flour. But last time I was at the store, I bought bread flour instead of all-purpose. I haven't used bread flour in my recipe for a long time. Oh, how springy and light my bread has been! Perhaps after more than twenty-five years of baking all of our bread, I will make the switch to a new combination of half whole-wheat and half bread flour for our daily bread. Always learning, I am!

Golden eagle. As I was walking outdoors yesterday afternoon, a golden eagle flew over our homestead and circled the area for a bit. It was enormous and graceful and beautiful to watch. What a blessing!

Cotton yarn. My dear hubby picked up another skein of cotton yarn for me at our local store this week. I had been concerned I would run out before I finished the dishcloth I am making (in spite of how quickly I was knitting - ha!) and he surprised me by picking up another skein. So sweet!

Good timing. Our daughter was able to leave work a bit early and discovered that she had two flat tires on her vehicle. It was during business hours *and* her dad was able to help her get to the tire shop to get the flats fixed. If she had finished her scheduled shift the tire shop would have been closed for the day before she realized her dilemma.

Encouragement. I am so thankful for the encouragement of body positive quotes and self-accepting ladies who have (like me) overcome food and fitness issues and walked away from diet culture for good! And for the encouragement of other Christian wives and mamas that value a simple and quiet stay-at-homestead life. And especially, for the encouragement and teachings of online sermons by conservative like-minded pastors who faithfully direct my heart to Jesus. I do enjoy being a wallflower {smile} but all flowers do need watered (encouraged!) regularly in order to thrive!

Well, I must skedaddle and have a big piece of purple birthday cake with my boy. I wish you much gratitude where you are, friends.


Autumn at the Creek

How lovely it always is when we decide to take a break from the chores and tasks of the home and barnyard to spend some relaxing moments at the creek. So as I do what I can to keep up with the many things that are clamoring for my time and attention in the middle of this bustling week, I am thankful to savor the memory of the moments our tribe played there together last weekend.

Traditionally, we explore the pasture and creek side wilds and splash in the water and look for signs of autumn when we visit our creek in October. We did all of that... and Jack did his share of creek wading as usual. That dog of ours loves the creek as much as we do. Maybe even more!

And just before we headed back up the hill to our house, the moon made an early evening appearance in the clear blue sky. It was so serene to watch it slowly rise and peek at us between the yellow leaves that yet hang onto the creek side trees and bushes.


A Grateful Heart

:: October sky above the back pasture ::

:: the last three wildflowers on our farm ::

:: my best friend watching me potter about the kitchen ::

:: "Mama's deer" - the mule deer buck that visits our homestead often ::

What a glorious October day it is on our farm. Blue sky, a slight breeze, 64 degrees (F) outside, a small fire crackling in our wood stove inside. I have bread rising on the kitchen counter and the day's laundry on the clothesline, blowing dry in the sunshine. School is done for the day and we have been playing outside, enjoying our farm together. Good things, I am grateful.

I began my day with a beautiful 3-mile outdoor hike and a sermon. Our Friday morning schedule is sometimes a bit more relaxed than our other weekdays and allows time for such things. I am listening to a sermon series about depression in a believer's life, its causes and cure.

Though I am only a few messages in to the thirty-one part series, I feel so thankful to have found these teachings of sound doctrine about Spiritual Depression on Sermon Audio.

I am nearly a year into my eating disorder and exercise obsession recovery (Praise the Lord!) and I do believe I am fully recovered... I have become truly body positive and self-accepting and free of disordered food and fitness behaviors.

My joy is from Jesus, and it will not be shaken. God is so good!

But along with that unshakable joy, there are still residual feelings of anxiety and depression just beneath the surface, sometimes. Or right there on the surface, occasionally. No disordered behaviors, I don't act on those temptations, but the thoughts - while dwindling - do remain more than I prefer.

It puzzles me. Life is good, I am surrounded by people and animals and land that I love, we live a simple homemade life that I wouldn't trade for anything, and I am *very* happy, but that niggling feeling of slight anxiousness, and tiredness, of feeling a bit downcast, remains... I know it doesn't make much sense, especially since I am a saved-by-grace, born-again believer.

Oh, I have come so far and for that I am *thankful!* My body is healed and in its fat-and-happy place. I have made so many necessary changes and given myself permission to let things go. I don't have an eating disorder anymore. I am, for the first time in my life, kinda like my own friend... I am nice to myself, I even like me. I often feel misunderstood by those who don't really know me very well, but that doesn't even bother me anymore.

I have learned how to forgive past hurts (and the people behind them, when necessary) and move on... even allowing myself to remove some difficult relationships from my life guilt-free after forgiving and healing from their damage. I no longer require myself to maintain or restore stressful relationships when it doesn't seem wise for my health and happiness to do so.

My support team helped me realize that I need to be kind to myself, too! That isn't selfish, it is a very important gift. One cannot draw from an empty well. And difficult relationships can be oh-so draining, yes?

Recovery has been a lovely, messy, brave, complicated, and necessary process. How amazed and thankful I am to be putting so many things behind me at last... to truly grow in the Lord and as the woman He created me to be... and on the cusp of turning fifty!

And the victory I have been blessed with physically and mentally in this past year encourages me to keep going until *all* of the lingering anxiety and depression are gone, gone, gone. Until God's voice of truth is the loudest influence in my thinking.

So I think this sermon series will be a wonderful tool in my recovery arsenal. Thank you, dear friends and sisters, for your prayers. I really am fine, I just want to have complete victory over these long-standing issues. {smile} Oh that God would somehow be glorified as I continue to overcome and share my imperfections with the interwebs.

Is vulnerability actually beautiful? Authenticity. Sheesh... I would say it's just hard and incredibly humbling. Oh, I do write a lot more about all of this on Run Hoop Julie, if you would like to join me there.

Here are a few more things I am thankful for today~

:: Pumpkin spice. I am of the thinking that the more things that are pumpkin spice flavored, the better. I love it. So I was *thrilled* when our local grocer finally got the pumpkin spice flavored coffee creamer in stock this week. Yay!

:: October. My favorite month of all. I love mid-September to mid-November... autumn! {smile} FYI, my current order for favorite seasons is: autumn, spring, summer, winter... but I do enjoy them all. I picked winter last because that is usually the hardest season for us on our homestead.

:: Woodpecker. There was a woodpecker on our deck this week. We watched it grasp some insects out of a crack on our deck and eat them. It was fascinating. Such good timing that we looked out the window when we did!

:: Jack. That dog brings so much joy into our days. He is just playful and fun and happy all the time. And sweet and loving and... well, you probably know how much I love my dog!

:: Books. I just finished a novel that I really enjoyed - "Thieving Forest" by Martha Conway. And now I am reading "The Four Million" by O. Henry, it is a collection of short stories. I am reading "By the Shores of Silver Lake" by Laura Ingalls Wilder *and* the first Harry Potter book aloud to my children. And in my Bible reading, I am in the books of Deuteronomy and Luke.

Thank you for coming by this blog today... and for your visits to Run Hoop Julie and Images of a Happy Gentle Life, too. One big blog in three parts is how I look at it, and they each fulfill a niche and purpose that is just right for me and for them in this season of life... thanks for following along! (I hope you enjoy them!)


Cozy Handmade Shawl

All finished! A cozy shawl that I crocheted for myself. Do you love it as much as I do?

One of my dear boys chose this acrylic yarn for me and gave it to me for my birthday last year. The thought of him standing in the yarn aisle of our local shop and choosing just the right colors for me warms my heart *so* much! And he was quite pleased when I decided on a project to craft with that yarn at last.

The shawl is simple double-crochet and it is narrow on one end and wide on the other. Quite perfect for wrapping up in and keeping cozy both outdoors and indoors, I think. I am very pleased with it.


Around the Farm

So many crafty happenings around here lately, yes? And that is very good... I love writing about and sharing the things we make and do at our place. {smile}

But since I have *another* craft post to share with you tomorrow, Lord willing, (it is my finished crocheted shawl *squee!*) I thought that today I would show you some of the critter pics I took yesterday.

Let's go!

I was gazing out the kitchen window - waiting for my bread to finish up in the oven - and looked out at just the right time to see my cow-friend Matilda plop herself down in a nearby spot for her afternoon rest. So as soon as my bread was out of the oven and set aside to cool, I grabbed my camera and hiked up to spend some time with her.

The rest of my tribe played with Jack in the yard... that yellow Labrador of mine and Matilda are pretty good friends, but I didn't want Jack to tag along and perhaps nudge Matilda up from her lounging place.

I love it when Matilda rests in this spot. I can watch her from the house and quickly dash out to give her an apple and a pat on the head. And she is *so* calm and peaceful when she is in her cud-chewing daze... it must be her happy place.

And Matilda's Shadow is looking so good... hard to believe this miniature horse is over thirty years old! Shadow really is Matilda's shadow... she follows Matilda *everywhere.*

Here is one of my eight remaining chickens, heading out to join the others for an afternoon peckabout in the barnyard. Our little flock is getting older, but these ladies still lay large-and-lovely brown shelled eggs fairly regularly.

I stopped to tend to our ducks on the way to the goats' area. And they were quacking and splashing and having a good time, as ducks are known to do around here. But every single picture I took of them was too blurry to share... oops!

And Clementine.

If someone asked me to guess where Clementine is on any afternoon, I would not hesitate to predict that she is lounging on the base of her spool, basking in the sunshine. This is her favorite spot.

I can't blame her for claiming the spot as her own. I have been on top of that spool and the view is lovely... it overlooks the house and the yard and the barnyard. She can see the back pasture and the front pasture and the amazing view for miles around.  Smart goat, that Clementine.

And so fluffy and soft! Not to mention she is blessed to smell like a goat (ha!) which I do believe is one of the best smells ever.

And here is a surprise for you... our budgies! Perhaps a peek at these two indoor critters of our farm will make up for the lack of duck pictures? {smile}

Wishing you a lovely day~

Traditional Crafting

It was a rather quiet weekend for me. My dear hubby and our children were so kind to keep our home and homestead running smoothly while I mostly took it easy and kept to the most basic and necessary tasks while my cold lingered.

Our oldest at-home children even did the grocery shopping for the week after I made our menu and list. We have always shopped together as a family so they had no problem at all getting everything we need for the next several days.

And they brought me a "feel better" gift... I am not sure I have gotten one of those before. {smile} It was a cute seasonal gift bag filled with peanut butter chocolate pretzels, pumpkin spice hot cocoa, pumpkin spice coffee creamer, a can of whipped cream, and a skein of kitchen cotton yarn. I thought that was so sweet!

While they were gone to town for the grocery shopping and my dear hubby and the rest of our tribe were busy about their own activities, I got myself a cup of coffee and started my Christmas crafting. It was so cozy in our house with the fire in the wood stove and the snow covered view (it has mostly melted since then) and it seemed like a good time to begin my tradition of knitted dishcloth making.

Each year I knit several dishcloths for Christmas gifting. Our adult children expect them and always tell me how much they like them, one of our girls has stashed some in her hope chest, and I like to give them to lots of other people, too.

They are such useful and frugal gifts, of course, and in my opinion much better for kitchen tasks than any store bought dishcloth I have tried. And I just like making them and giving them away!

So dishcloth number one for Christmas 2018 is well begun... in red.


A Grateful Heart

Happy Friday to you, friends. It is a chilly day at our place... right now our outdoor thermometer reads 52 degrees (F) but it feels a bit cooler than that with the slight breeze and the snowy view of the mountain above us. We have a fire in our wood stove keeping us cozy inside as we work on school and projects and the tasks that clamor for our attention today.

As I suspected earlier this week, I did indeed come down with a cold and it has sapped much of my energy these past few days. I have used some necessarily restful moments to stitch on my poppy counted cross-stitch sampler. I need the bright light of mid-day so I can see the tiny holes and I am often busy with something else during that span of the day... so having that quiet time to craft is something good that has come of this cold. {smile}

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

:: Seeing "my deer" again... the big mule deer buck that I watched all summer came by our homestead for the first time in a long time this week.

:: Thoughtfulness... my kind hubby stopped by the store to get me something for my cold-related headache yesterday, and he also picked up a surprise quart of goat milk for me since I was almost out. So sweet!

:: My homekeeping servants. I don't know where I would be without my washer and dryer and oven and pressure cooker and mixer, etc. How much more have I appreciated them this week when I have been under the weather and desired to get my tasks done as quickly and easily as possible.

:: Just a bump. The other day, my sweet pup Jack jumped up at the exact moment I leaned forward and his head collided with my face... entirely an accident caused by bad timing. It gave me quite a fat lip and a bruise but thankfully our collision did *not* seem to damage the dental work and bridge I have because of bone loss in my jaw and the several missing teeth I have due to that. So relieved!

:: A nearly finished project. I finished crocheting the cozy shawl I have been working on for myself. All I have left to do is weave in the ends. Lord willing, I will get that done and get some pictures so I can show it to you next week!

Thanks for coming by my blog today, friends. Do have a peek at Run Hoop Julie and Images of a Happy Gentle Life if you want to see what else I have been up to lately. {smile} I wish you a wonderful weekend where you are...

One Dozen Doings

:: Coco ::
I am...

Drinking: My third cup of coffee-with-goat-milk of the day. It won't be my last. {smile}

Eating: Nothing yet... but toasted homemade sourdough bread with honey peanut butter and a banana will be happening very soon!

Listening: The wood stove fan is whirring and our senior cat Marvin is meowing for my attention. I think he wants me to lift him up to the counter, he isn't able to leap like he used to.

Reading: The book of Numbers, in my Bible. Thieving Forest (Martha Conway), on my nightstand. By the Shores of Silver Lake (Laura Ingalls Wilder), to my kids.

Learning: I have "watch the video for current ASL class" tucked within the homeschool lesson plans on my to-do list, so that is my hoped-for accomplishment. There are only three more lessons in the syllabus before I graduate from this course (American Sign Language 1), I am hoping to finish by the end of December.

Thinking: About ordering a drop spindle and some roving fiber. My crafty interests are beginning to lean more and more toward spinning.

Admiring: The way the tiny icicles are hanging off of the bird feeder that is right outside the window. All the way around the bottom of it, forming a ring of icy points that remind me of whiskers.

Hoping: That the beginnings of a cold that I feel this morning will skedaddle rather than get worse. Mamas don't have time to get colds... right? I wish!

Hiding: A few Christmas gifts that I am quite pleased to have purchased already are tucked away in my gift bin.

Wearing: My long denim jumper layered over a blue knit shirt, and some cute purple socks. And I chose my colorful flower-patterned headcovering today.

Trusting: That if I am patient I will come across some just-right dairy goats that I have been itching to add to our wee herd so we can begin milking again. I think Coco and company would love some new friends and I would love to resume our little home dairy, Lord willing. Goat milk is my favorite.

Feeling: Content. Blessed. Thankful. God is good.

And one more to make it a baker's dozen of doings...
Wishing you a most lovely day!

Welcome Back

"Your buck is back, Mama!" my son happily exclaimed as he took a break from his archery target practice in the pasture to dash to the house and share with me the exciting news.

Ooo... how lovely! My boy set up the spotting scope on our deck so we could all have a look at the wee mule deer herd that was grazing in an adjacent field, with that familiar buck in its midst.

And what a relief to see him again. I had missed him and been wondering where the deer I had kept an eye on all of last summer had been for the past month or so. So regular were his visits to our homestead that my tribe had begun calling him "Mama's buck." He is a beauty!


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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