Monday, June 20, 2011

Little Farmers On The Job

Hello there from HOT, DRY Louisiana!  We are still fighting the lack of water, but it is supposed to rain tomorrow.  In the meantime, our squash have been revived and the good Lord continues to bless us with an abundance of harvest, even amidst the unusual earliness of extreme heat and drought.  The garden continues to grow, my canner proudly stays on my stove these days, and we stay busy between summer days and food preserving!  Oh, and the turkey died.....after 2 weeks of catering to the poor little fella, all of the side effects of having a baby turkey in my entry way and then on the porch.  All for nothing.....sniff sniff. 

I'd like to share a little bit about our family and why we are choosing to follow a more simpler lifestyle.  This is something that's come with time and although we've taken huge steps, we still have a long way to go to meet our goals.  There are several reasons we're making such changes around here.  One of those is health.  Another is that it's practical.  Yet another is that it fills our family's days with the real lessons of life instead of so much 'junk' the world offers these days.  It's fulfilling.  It's simple. just makes sense. 

What makes the most sense is how this impacts our children and their future.  I could go on and on about the lifestyle, character, and values we're trying to nurture in their lives and through example.  We strive to parent the way God intends and sure enough, we find such strength in doing that when we do other things that God intends growing our own food instead of getting it processed to death at a local discount store.  And yes, I still buy groceries and store bought 'organic' food is not something I buy into or purchase.  No, we're just making the biggest differences where we can, and as time goes on hopefully those differences will continue to grow.  In the meantime, I trust He who holds our family's health and future in His hands! 

These children, they are at the center of everything Tommy and I do, and the reason why we do.  Not only  are we teaching them life lessons, but practical lessons.  Gardening and food preserving is a dying art.  In this family it's being revived and passed to my children.  It doesn't take the fall of a nation or another depression to leave family pantries bare these days.  What about natural disasters?  Sickness in the family?  A husband who loses his job?  There are many, many reasons why it's important to know how to use what you've been given to make things work sometimes!

And perhaps the greatest thing we're passing to our children?  The joy in being simple.  The joy in the work.  The satisfaction at what they've accomplished.  And certainly not least important....the awe of just what the Lord has designed and blessed us with.

Yes, there's EVERY reason to learn, experience with, and pass this life to our children.  And there's certainly no reason not to! 

And may I say that they ENJOY it.  They're learning it right along side this Mama and we're loving it together!  They really know what they're doing and they're good at it!  I wanted to share some pictures from around here this week, most of which include captured moments of my children playing such important parts in making this farm go 'round! 

I wasn't able to post for Father's Day yesterday.  So let me just say tonight that I am married to an amazing man.  A good, good man who values what is right and has passed that to our children.  They are so blessed to call him Daddy.  These pictures have been taken while he's at work, so's some pictures to make you proud!  HAPPY FATHERS DAY!  WE LOVE YOU SO VERY MUCH!

With these three, ANYTHING is possible!  They're hard at work on an engineering project!  Three minds together in this family means.....

Success!!!!  It looks like they've about got it!

The idea started here!  At first it involved Cass with a big red shovel, a rope, that four wheeler, and the big kids trying to climb the tree!  But apparently plans changed, it seems little man may be the head honcho here!

Aiden stringing up peppers!  He got the whole bunch of them on there and we were able to hang them up to dry!
Shelling peas is a family affair!  They loved it, they enjoyed it, and we got through them that day!  And then found a few laying throughout the house today......I wonder who ever could have done that???  They've loved every part of this, from planting, to picking, and putting up the food.  I'm so proud that they've been a part of it all!

Some of the harvest, so nicely arranged by Aiden himself.  I feel good knowing he takes pride in his work!  We picked together, then he organized and arranged on the counter top for me!

Making tomato juice for my husband.....with my makeshift sieve/food mill type of concept!  It worked!  Then Tommy asked why I didn't just use a pillowcase or sheet, that that's what his Papaw use to do. made perfect sense!  Next time I'll be all over that idea!

Some more beautiful cans to put up!  This has quickly become a passion!  I'm LOVIN' it!

God Bless everyone and have a wonderful week!  Remember where your help comes from and how your needs our met!  Dont' forget to thank God for what you've been given today!

Proud to be a part of Homestead Revival's Monday Linkups!  So much great sharing!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Okra Wars & Mater Magic

It has been so dry here, so unusually hot for this early in the summer, and the worst so that most can remember.  When you combine that with the survival mode we had to lean towards with my surgery....I sadly have a garden I'm trying to revive to it's greater potential!  It's hung in there, my husband did a good job while he was here and I'm out there doing my best to give her a good drink of water every day.  A week ago, I was in tears, praying that it wasn't beyond hope because of the heat and lack of moisture.  Today, I'm excited to share that my squash is coming back to life, my corn may just make after all, even if it's late, and I'm about up to my eyeballs in tomatoes!  We've had an abundance of peppers, although the bell peppers seem pretty bad off from the heat.  The pole beans are pretty much goners, but we still have purple hull peas and butter beans looking like they're going to come on through after all!  And okra.....oh the okra.

Yes, I fight with veggies.  Okra and me, we've had a tough go of it this week!  Sure, it ate me up a little when I cut some tonight, but more so when I tried to blanch and cut it to cover in cornmeal for freezing.  I was taught to make sure they aren't hard when cut.  Still, I ended up with a big, slimy, celery tough like bunch of shredded okra and seeds.  So, did I pick too early, too late, or just go wrong on my efforts to blanch?  There's more on my counter tonight and more coming on the plants, which hopefully means I'm going to have opportunity to get on top of this here particular vegetable....or so hopes my husband!

And the I wish you could see the tomatoes.  Let me tell you that I was told I wouldn't be able to grow a single tomato on this land.  I don't listen well as I took that as a challenge, and something God had different plans for when He led us to plant this garden!  We have batches of tomatoes ripening each day, with so many more on the vines to come!  I have cherry tomato plants that are loaded, one with probably 200 little tomatoes!  

 My canner has stayed on my stove and my sister and I are working our way through the harvest, learning as we go!  I wish I could kidnap my Grandma Betty, along with all of her canning goodies and keep her here through the summer to soak up all of her knowledge and great company in the process!  But since Grandpa probably wouldn't let me get away with that, I'm going to have to keep reading, listening, watching, guessing, and seeing what works and what doesn't.  In the meantime, we are being blessed with such good, healthy food, in spite of the torching heat and dry, dry weather.  My kitchen counter has taken on the daily role of garden extension, as you can see!

Just some of the tomatoes out today, I have more outside to ripen.  Lots of peppers, and of course the okra that has me baffled.  You can see jars of Peach preserves, Jalapeno jelly, and seasoned tomato sauce, which Nessie and I made just today!  Yes, we only made 4 jars....accidentally, but I suppose that's how we learn!  And it did make the house smell wonderful!

Nessie stirring down the tomato sauce as it cooked down.  We took turns keeping watch....the ENTIRE two hours because we were too afraid to step away!

Cass can't wait til he's a big boy and can be in the dugout like his brother!  Aiden's doing great in T-Ball and I've been able to go and watch the last couple of games!

Me and my babies.  Just missing our Alaina here....she had a birthday yesterday and is now officially in the double digits!  Oh how they make my days go round, fill with joy laughter, and remind me just how awesome of a gift I've been given.  I wouldn't trade my husband, these children, my life, our home, or our values for anything in this world.  God has been so good to us!
We are to be good, faithful stewards of what's been given us.  That means taking good care of what's been entrusted to us, no matter what the size or condition of the circumstance may be.  It's been on my heart the last several months that in doing just this I will honor God, being sure to make the very most out of every opportunity and circumstance He sends my way.  Does this mean I'm perfect in doing so?  Surely not.  I've spent way more time complaining and being ungrateful after this surgery than I care to admit.  And then I go back to this thought.....I'm to make the most and do the best with what I've graciously been given. 

My has grass EVERYWHERE, I've lost my pole beans, and almost my squash.  But I didn't let it go.  I decided to nurture and care for what hope was still there and tonight I'm rewarded with a peek of what may still come from my plants.  I can't pull my weeds right now, but I can water and pick.  That's doing the best I can with the cards I've been dealt this last month.  And I believe God is honoring that, as I hope I am honoring Him in doing so.  My garden continues to grow, the harvest keeps on coming in!  So tonight I am grateful.  Tonight I strive to do my best and give the most with what I've been given.  Not complain about what I can't do or wish I had things or abilities that I don't.  No, I am to be content doing just what God has laid out for me right now.  That, I can continue to reach for!

DISCLAIMER....If you're a man, you can quit reading this post now!  Thanks!

I need hormone guidance!  Any and all advice, direction, and reference would be greatly appreciated.  I need knowledge, personal stories, and opinions if any of you have any to give.  Thank you kindly!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Perfectly Simple I actually sitting down at the computer to blog?  What a good feeling that is!  There's something about creating a post revolving around my family, our land, and our lifestyle that just brings me peace!  It's proven to be a way to slow down and soak in the abundancy of blessings the Lord has showered on our family.  All too often during the day it's easy to lose sight of that truth in the hustle and bustle of life here on our land!

Since Tommy has returned to work, life seems to have taken charge of me again....whether my body feels like cooperating or not!  I'm just grateful that I've been able to do what I have and that my little sister has been such a help these last several weeks!  It's a long process but a learning one for me as well.  God knows what he's doing with us, even when we can't see exactly where things might be leading! 

Daddy and all four kids, celebrating 'our very own' Father's Day since he'll be at work then!  I LOVE this man, I enjoy him, I appreciate him, and I MISS him when he's not here.  Ten years ago I could never have even dreamed that I'd have the man I have in my husband and the perfect family that we have!  These children are blessed to call him Daddy!

To slow down for a minute and just be still, here's sharing a sight just down the road........

How can one see such beauty and not believe?
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and God-head;so that they are without excuse:  Romans 1:20

So beautiful, so big, and so much bigger than me and whatever worries I may carry on my heart today! 
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,  Ephesians 3:20

And an update on the cows!  As of yesterday we had several calves about to be born, including to this poor Mama!  Her udders enlarged like this last year also and baby did fine.  Perhaps she's just going to keep favoring towards engorgement each time.  As long as the calf can suck, we should be fine!  And this morning, we have a new calf!  Just not to this Longhorn of Tommy's Dad's, but to a younger Longhorn of ours!  I'll be riding the kids out to see this weekend and will be sure to share pictures!  And who knows, we just may have another before then!

 Not to leave you without some of the sweetness in my days....

My amazing, handsome, perfect little boys!  How these little fellas make my heart just fill over with love for them is something else!  Please keep both of them in your prayers!  Aiden's foot is giving him trouble.  I've put him in some more supportive shoes instead of the summer sandals and they're hurting his foot.  We will be taking him back to Shriner's to check in on things, hopefully towards the end of summer!  As for little Cass man, he is up for another renal scan at the end of next month.  That's our big, nuclear test of the kidneys that shows flow and function.  Both of these boys are so amazing, so perfect, and so complete.  We just need a little extra courage and prayer to get them both past these bumps in the road!  Thanks ahead of time!

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.  Psalm 19:14

Monday, June 6, 2011

Healing, Homesteading, and Humor!

Oh my, where to begin?  It's been quite the adventure around here this last week or so, as always!  With so much I've been wanting to share, I'm just not sure where to start! 

It took me awhile to get my heart and mind where they needed to be today!  Tommy left for work this morning and after 3 whole weeks and the challenges we've faced as a family this time home, it was extra hard to see him go!  And with my husband also went so much of our help with me still recovering!  So mixed with the sadness was also the uncertainty of just how exactly all of this was going to work these next two weeks!  He did set us up pretty great with our own 'dog watering system' on the 4wheeler, and some rearranging that will make our days so much easier!

And then something amazing happened!  As the day went by and I got past some of the reluctance, I began to see things come together!  I woke up from a much needed rest to find my little sister already had the dogs taken care of!  My kids were all playing outside to their hearts content...which means for some great sleeping tonight...and I WAS ABLE TO WATER MY GARDEN!  I know, sounds so silly and small, but it's a big step.  Mostly in the sense that it brought a little more encouragement to my heart.  Much needed encouragement! I type, I'm eating one of the best things I've ever put in my mouth....a sandwich loaded down with the first ripe tomatoes from our garden!  I don't think there's anything like it, and although I've always heard people talk about homegrown tomatoes, my taste buds still work in awe tonight!  Even better is how we've been just eating the cherry tomatoes like candy all week!  Aiden ate one of the large tomatoes like an apple tonight and loved it!  As for me....I especially love that I know EXACTLY what is nourishing my little one's body's when it comes from our own land!

So today is good.  Life is grand.  Our God is still in control.  My family is complete.  And I continue to heal.  We miss Tommy when he's gone, but I'm just so glad he was able to be home with us through these trying weeks.  For anyone whose been wondering what I'm referring to, I had a complete abdominal hysterectomy less than three weeks ago....the 'old fashioned', cut through your stomach muscle kind.  It was necessary but it's been hard on all of us in many ways.  Harder than I realized it would be.  But today, I continue to heal.  Today I'm not 'sickly' like I was before the surgery, nor do I carry the fear that I have cancer on my shoulders., I just heal.  And thank God for the children that He has so graciously blessed us with.  Our family is complete, our family is perfect, and as I heal I know I can better be Mom to this family healthy!

Now to share some of what has made my heart smile...

Peaches Peaches!!!!!  Tommy brought them home and look what we can do......

Canned peaches in syrup!  First batch ever, so now I know to pack them tighter and put less syrup over them to better preserve more per jar next time!  But they turned out beautiful anyway!  We did have a problem peeling them with the technique we used.  I think maybe we should have waited a few more days because they weren't easy to peel!  And you see the days harvest, which will also be part of this weeks canning and freezing projects!  And something so exciting to me is my canisters in the back!  I took apart a bouquet from when I was in the hospital and used them to arrange inside these!  I think they turned out so pretty!  I was grateful to have the time to slow down and enjoy being creative....until then they still had fall leaf decor inside of them!  And of course the beautiful yellow flowers Gracie picked for me are still on display!  Oh yeah, and this was my sisters first canning experience!  She did great and was so much help!  She's ready for the peach preserves we'll be making tomorrow!

And I'm able to cook a little these days again!  Not big meals, but occasional small, easy meals!  So I experimented with our Pablano Peppers for Sunday dinner!  I sauteed them a little for the roasted effect, then stuffed them with a mixture of chicken, salsa, and cheese~the same I used in the quesadillas!  Mmm mmm good, especially for a thrown together first try!

Some sadness this week....we lost a dog that had been a gift to me, a chicken (always one of the sexlinks), and one of two new baby turkeys.  But on the's our little turkey survivor!  And for a good laugh, let me tell you that this cute little fella is STILL in a little home in my foyer, just a baby gobblin' away!  When I asked my silly husband what the plan was for the little guy, he answered in perfectly Tommy, country boy, just like a giant kid style....
"Gobble gobble, it's a turkey.  They come in the house all the time!  In November people always have turkeys inside."
And so goes the conversations in our home!  I LOVE my countrified, always entertaining husband.  But tomorrow, little guy goes OUTSIDE, where LIVE turkeys belong! ;)

My oldest little farm hand has once again been in the mud!  I love this boy and he LOVES his 4wheeler! 

We are so blessed.  I wouldn't change anything about our life, our family, or our lifestyle.  I only continue to pray for God's grace and guidance to be the mother and wife He has called me to be.  My husband and children deserve nothing less than that!  And to be a good steward over all He has entrusted to us!  I am thankful for healing, and the forgiveness of my imperfections in the process!  And so blessed to have the help and the family that I do.  Our God is such a good God!  May you find blessings, peace, and comfort from His this week! 


NOTE: I'm in need of input concerning processing my tomatoes.  I'm about to have a very large harvest and plan to put up whole, diced, stewed, mater juice and sauce.  The whole shebang really.  And I have yet to purchase a food mill.  I searched online tonight and came across several options.  Would love suggestions for what has worked best for your canning needs!  I'm looking for efficiency and practicality!  THANK YOU!