End of December on the Homestead

End-of-the-month (and year!) greetings from our happy gentle homestead to you, friends. It is a frigid day at our place - only 5 degrees (F) when we first checked the outdoor thermometer this morning - and the sky is a clear icy blue and the ground is white with snow for as far as I can see.

We have been watching a large herd of elk on the hillside across the way this week. It was snowing when I took these pictures for you, but I think you can make them out fairly well...

How blessed we are to see elk from our place! It is a wonderful privilege that we do not take for granted, especially since our area seems much less rural than it once did and is getting more and more built up with homes... activity that may eventually cause much of the wildlife to move on.

For this last homesteading review post of the year, I have decided to go through and choose a post from each month of 2018 to revisit...

January: Making Friends
The first introduction of Jack and Matilda. My two best animal friends took to each other right away, and have become true barnyard buddies this year.

February: My First Home Sewn Prairie Skirt
I still have that skirt in my wardrobe and wear it often. My fingers are itching to sew more of my own clothes again... long skirts and modest jumpers, especially! Perhaps I will find the time to do so next year. {smile}

March: Over They Go
Watching deer outside the kitchen window. I *love* the wildlife that we so often see on and around our mountainside farm.

April: Simple Crocheted Dish Scrubbers
A simple tutorial for you... I just made another dish scrubber earlier this week. They are the best, I think, for washing dishes by hand. I like them even better than the scrubbers I used to make with recycled onion bags.

May: Little Foxes
It was so fun to keep an eye on the fox family that lived up the road from us last summer. I am really hoping they will be back to inhabit the log pile in the spring.

June: Weekend Goodness
Just an ordinary weekend on the farm. Moments of our simple life and homesteading adventures.

July: Handknit Graduation Shawl
The shawl I made for our daughter's homeschool graduation.

August: Homemade Sourdough Bread With Homegrown Grain
How thrilled I was to have some homegrown grain to use in my bread baking! A long-time homesteading hope and dream of mine, it was... so thankful!

September: Archery Season
What fun our big family had with our homestead archery range last fall.

October: One Year Old
Jack turned one in October. Oh, how I love love love that dog of mine.

November: Thanking God for His Faithful Provision
One of the many, many times the Lord gave us just what we needed at the perfect time. God is so good!

December: Simply Christmas
A few of the simple decorations and traditions of our family's holiday celebration.

Thank you for visiting my blog and following our family's homesteading adventures, friends. All of the monthly updates for 2018 can be viewed here, in case you missed one.

I love fresh starts and new beginnings, and I am quite looking forward to seeing what the Lord has in store for our big family and farm in 2019. I trust that whatever it will be, it is for our good and His glory. Wishing you love, peace, and blessings in the new year...


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 Christmas movies, and ate lots of yummy food. {smile}

I have been thinking about sharing with you the good news of the gospel for awhile now. I have been praying about it... sometimes I am concerned that I might appear smug or prideful in the way that I write... or that I won't be clear, or any of the other excuses that the devil whispers into my thoughts to keep me from telling you about Jesus.

But the message is God's, not mine. I simply want to share with you the good news that I accepted so long ago... it opened my eyes, changed my life, and saved my soul.

We are all sinners.
"for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God."
Romans 3:23
God is holy and perfect beyond what we can even understand. People are sinful... look around, look at me, look in the mirror. Sinfulness abounds, yes? It isn't an insult, it is a fact. Our sin separates us from God and we cannot, by our own effort, change that. Our sin nature is simply part of us - whether we are "good" or "bad" by the world's standards - and God does not tolerate sin. We need a Savior.

Christ died for us.
"But God commends his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:8
Jesus, who is fully God *and* became fully man when He came to dwell among us, paid the price for our sins. He willingly died on the cross to pay the price for our past, present, and future sins. God loves us so much that He gave His only Son so that we can have a way to be with Him forever!

The gift of God is eternal life.
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 6:23
Though sin is often pleasurable and may seem fun for a season, it always leads to destruction. Not only the consequences of sin in this life, but in eternal damnation to Hell. But when we trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior, our sins are washed away - just as if they never happened - and we receive the free gift through Jesus of eternal life to be with God forever in Heaven.

Confess and believe.
"that if you will confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, one believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
Romans 10:9-10
To become saved, admit your sinfulness. Admit specific sins, even, and ask God to forgive you. Confess Jesus as Lord and invite Him into your heart to be the King of your life. Accept the free gift of God's grace and be saved.

Being a born-again Christian is not about following rules or doing good works to earn God's favor or salvation. It is simply understanding that we are sinners and putting our trust and faith in the One who paid the price for our sins. We are saved immediately, bought with the price of the precious blood of the risen Christ, and in time - through Bible study and prayer - we develop a close relationship with God... Father, Son, and Holy Spirit... that will endure for eternity.

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new."
2 Corinthians 5:17

Jesus is the one and only way to joy, peace, and Heaven. I pray if you don't know Him that your heart will soften and your eyes will be opened to the truth of God's love and forgiveness and your need for a savior. And if you do know the Lord, I rejoice with you as a sister in Christ!

(The Scripture in this post is from the World English Bible which is in the public domain. The name "World English Bible" is trademarked.)


Christmas on the Farm

What a thrill to open the blinds on Christmas morning and discover a fresh skiff of snow upon the barnyard! A white Christmas we had on our homestead, as we had hoped. {smile}

After we enjoyed our breakfast of homemade cinnamon rolls and opened our gifts, one of my girls and I headed outdoors to take our critters their Christmas apples.

Jack "helped" me give apple slices to our goats. Heidi wanted a scratching beneath her chin.

Another apple for Heidi.

And another. {smile} Heidi is such a friendly gal.

Ah... there you go, Heidi. A proper scratching for you!

And then over to my Jersey cow-friend Matilda and her Shadow. Both of these critters love apples.

Sweet Shadow, more than thirty years old she is! 

Merry Christmas, Matilda!

And friends, do you love my new skirt? My dear hubby gave it to me for Christmas. It's reversible to a multi-colored patchwork on the other side. *Squee!*


Early Morning Quiet

Twinkly Christmas bulbs lighting the room. Familiar hymns and Christmas songs filling the air. Jack sniffing around, exploring the new. My first cup of coffee finished. Quiet time is over. So much to be thankful for... Time to wake the kids!


A Grateful Heart

:: pretty flowers on display ::
Winter begins with a fresh skiff of snow on our homestead. Just enough to turn the landscape white, but not enough to affect our ability to do chores fairly easily (to the kids' and my delight) or to drift across our long, winding driveway (to my dear hubby's relief).

My youngest boy told me he prayed for snow last night. He had heard me say that I hoped for a white Christmas... how thrilled he was to see the answer to his prayer covering our property this morning. {smile}

:: my best friend in his usual spot by my side ::
I am about ready for Christmas, I think. I have a few gifts left to wrap, but my hubby offered to help me with that. This week, we purchased our traditional bake-at-home pizzas and lots of extra toppings and snack-y foods to enjoy on Christmas Day.

And we have a Christmas Eve birthday to celebrate, too. One of our boys will be fifteen! He requested sour cream chicken enchiladas for his birthday meal... on Monday, we will set aside our Christmas focus for a bit and make sure that our boy has a great birthday.

:: homemade ornaments ::
In lieu of listing snippets of gratitude this week, I want to share with you the story of one of the kindest and sweetest gifts I have ever received...

It has been a long time since our big family was all together in one place. Our grown son lives way across the country and isn't able to come home often. And when discussing my upcoming fiftieth birthday, I told one of our older girls that all I wanted for my birthday was to have a cup of coffee here at home with that grown son... for our whole tribe, the ten of us, to be together for the day on the family homestead.

Unbeknownst to me, that conversation prompted my daughter to attempt to make arrangements for that to happen. She contacted her far-away brother and let him know the plan she had put together to make it work.

There were text messages and conversations between them. Discussions about a plane ticket and vacation days from work. But he can't come for lots of reasons. I do understand... it simply isn't practical... it isn't going to happen.

I was, admittedly, kinda sad at first. I didn't even know about all of this until it was over, so I had to deal with the surprise of the plans and initial disappointment of knowing it wasn't to be all at once. Sure, I would have loved to have him here, to have had that cup of birthday coffee with my boy...

But I am so glad he has his own life and a good job and obligations that he loves where he is. He was so brave to pursue his dream of moving across the country in his twenties and now he is all grown up and independent and doing quite well... exactly what a mama hopes for, yes?

And then, I felt so loved as I pondered my family, especially my nineteen year old girl, trying to orchestrate a surprise visit from her grown-up brother to give me what I said I wanted. An impractical, expensive, whirlwind trip home just for Mama's birthday. Her attempts are one of the nicest and most thoughtful gifts I have ever gotten indeed. It really, truly is the thought that counts...

God is so good! I have everything I need, much of what I want, and I am utterly content and oh-so grateful.


handmade with love

It has become a family tradition that Mama knits a dishcloth for each of the grown children of our tribe at Christmastime. And I make a few extras for gifting to others, too... such a cute and useful handmade gift they are.

I love making them and giving them away!

A few years ago, our grown son that lives across the country told me that his Christmas dishcloth smelled like home. It did bring a tear to my eye when he told me that. {smile}

For this batch of dishcloths, I purchased two skeins of red cotton and one skein of "mistletoe" variegated cotton yarn. I used the same knitting pattern for all of them. And I made three of the dishcloths a solid red color, one using just the variegated color, and two are a mix of solid and variegated. I used every bit of the variegated yarn and had mere inches of the red cotton left when I finished... perfect!

It was fun to make these and I was pleased to notice as I crafted them that I have become a much better knitter in this past year.

I kept the variegated one for my own kitchen, and the rest have been wrapped and mailed away. I kissed the one I made for our grown boy before I wrapped it and sent it off to him... it is a piece of home and brimful of love, indeed.


Our Gingerbread Tradition

Every holiday season for as long as I can remember, we have purchased a gingerbread house kit and extra candy and spent some family time assembling and decorating a gingerbread house.

We don't try to make it fancy. We just do our best to get as much of the candy frosting-glued onto the roof and walls before it's all eaten. {smile}

Ta-da! Simple and cute, yes? The paper cut-outs were a fun touch this year, I think.

And this year, since we have such limited space that is out of reach of our boisterous Labrador Retriever to display our gingerbread house, we decided to enjoy our candy-covered creativity for an evening snack on the day that we made it.

All of the children said that it was their favorite festive activity of the weekend! Perhaps a new tradition - eating the house the day we make it - has begun?

As for Mama, I am *loving* all of the twinkly lights we draped about the house. So pretty!


A Grateful Heart

Happy Friday to you, dear friends. Whew... Jack and I are just back from a windy walkabout in the pasture. The sun was just going down and the moon is in the sky. So pretty! But the chilly wind hustled us right along and made me wish I had remembered to don a pair of leggings under my long skirt before we left the house. {smile}

This was a good day at our place. We had a slightly lighter school day. That is something I like to do on Fridays whenever possible. It is nice to use the day to catch up on projects and assignments, and to get all of my record keeping for the week done before the weekend.

Our adult daughter surprised me by coming by the homestead with her dog this afternoon. We had coffee and chatted while I mixed up and baked a batch of spice cookies for our family fun night dessert later tonight. Simple pleasures of an ordinary day, for which I am thankful.

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

:: Holiday preparations. What fun it has been this week to listen to Christmas songs, watch seasonal movies, read aloud from A Christmas Carol, bake things, and wrap presents. My dear hubby mailed the present-filled packages I needed to get sent off to far away places, too!

:: Advent. Such a blessing it is, amidst the fun of all those just mentioned activities, to daily read together and pray and meditate on our wonderful Savior. The stories and Bible truths are so familiar, yet beautiful and fresh each time we have our readings and discussions.

:: Mule deer in the freezer. Our teen boys got the mule deer processed earlier this week. So thankful we are for the hunting season harvest our menfolk brought home this year... about 42 pounds of wild game meat altogether.

... Our son who harvested that mule deer had missed a few shots in previous hunting trips and was feeling a bit anxious before that hunting excursion, concerned he might miss again. We discussed it, and I tried to encourage him... and off they went, the boys and their daddy.

I was home, waiting and wondering how they were doing at the hunting site. At 4:44 p.m. (I looked at the clock) I felt a strong prompting to pray for my boy's hunting success. That he would be calm and confident and safe, and trust in his abilities. So I did.

Seven minutes later, my boy (the one that I had just prayed for) called to excitedly tell me the news. He had harvested a deer a few minutes before! I told him how I had been praying for him at that very moment and we both marveled at the timing of it all... God is so good! Never stop praying.

Wishing you a cup brimful of gratitude and goodness where you are.

Brown Sugar Cookies

Howdy, friends. Is it cookie baking season at your place, too? Seems like I have an even bigger challenge than usual, this time of the year, keeping our cookie jar filled with homemade goodies for my tribe!

Today, I would like to share with you one of my oldest and most-used cookie recipes. Brown sugar cookies are a favorite of all around here, and this recipe makes a whole bunch of cookies... plenty for sharing or gifting or decorating. And maybe-just-maybe for keeping the cookie jar full for a few days. Maybe. {smile}

Here is the recipe for you ~

Brown Sugar Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).


5 cups unbleached all purpose flour
4 teaspoons cream of tartar
4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup all vegetable shortening
4 Tablespoons warm water
2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
11 oz bag (about 2 cups) baking chips, optional


In a mixing bowl sift together the all purpose flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) cream together the butter, vegetable shortening, water, brown sugar, and white sugar. Break the eggs and add them to the creamed mixture, and add the vanilla extract. Mix well. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and combine all ingredients thoroughly. Add the baking chips, if you choose to use them, and stir well.

Note ~ for this particular batch of brown sugar cookies I added two cups of butterscotch flavored baking chips and they were delicious! I encourage you to try any flavor you like!

Using a teaspoon, drop balls of cookie dough onto ungreased baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake in a preheated 350 degree (F) oven for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies are set around the edges and lightly browned on top.

Once the cookies are done, carefully remove the baking sheets from the oven and transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Store cooled cookies in a covered container.

I hope you like these yummy brown sugar cookies as much as we do.


weekend on the farm

Matilda had a small herd of deer hanging out near her space over the weekend. I love how Matilda just does her own thing... she rarely pays any attention to the many deer that visit our farm.

There have been lots of mule deer in the vicinity once again. I haven't yet seen the big buck I enjoyed watching so often last summer and early fall, but there have been other bucks and lots of does wandering about.

I was thinking the other day that Matilda is starting to get up there in age, for a cow. She came to our farm almost nine years ago, when she was three years old. So that puts her at about twelve years old. We haven't milked her for several years and have no plans to have her bred again (thus, no more milk from her) but the desire for another milk cow occasionally niggles into my homesteading hopes and dreams... we'll see what the Lord has in store for us.

Our grown daughter was home for part of the weekend and brought my grand-dog with her, of course. Juno is such a sweet and quiet dog... and her quietness is perhaps most apparent when my boisterous dog Jack is around.

Oh, how I do love these two.


Please note . . .
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Good News