December updates on the farm. I had realized this week that I haven’t wrote any monthly updates since September. Whoops! Life has a way of just happening and the past few months have been nothing short of crazy town.
*Please note this blog post contains affiliate links. If a purchase is made through one of my links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.*
I have run a photography business for 9 years. Seems strange even typing that. NINE YEARS. Insane. Anyhow, these past few months have been extra crazy driving back and forth from our old town (3 hours away), photographing sessions (or rescheduling them due to weather), and making sure all my clients had their images before the blog posts I so desperately needed to write (lol) ever saw the light of day.
I have spent the last 9 years not only building my business, but building relationships I never knew would come out of said business. I love my clients. Dearly. They have become my constant cheerleaders, and became my friends.
I wouldn’t be the photographer (or even person) without all those families this almost past decade.
Our family had an amazing Christmas on the farm. It was just the 6 of us that day and truth be told, it was glorious. The only thing I would change is having my mom here. She is one of my best friends and it has been difficult living just far enough away that a trip has to be planned.
The beautiful creature turned 22! HOW?
THE BEST GIFTS THIS YEAR
Ella (9 years old) will tell you the best gift this year was the zip line. The two of them have played with this thing for hours!!!!
Jackson of course loved his new lego set, but this magazine subscription has been the best dang gift. He looks forward to Fridays when it arrives and devours the entire thing. Then, I read it 😉
We surprised Kailyn (22) with an AlmondCow. She has been wanting one for forever and when they went on sale this year I snagged it. Fyi, she states it’s the “best almond milk I have ever tasted.”
Ryder (16) runs. No, I don’t mean like a normal runner, I mean he was running (for cross country and track) 59 miles in one week. Yeah, I know right? So, this year he got a massage gun (lol). He loves it.
I take great pride in my gift giving abilities and the kids would all agree 😉
Snow in the Summer with snow all over it.
Clyde, our sweet boy
Our beautiful waterfowl. I’m hoping for baby ducks this spring.
Lastly, our chicken (chick) order has been placed. We’re holding off until May for delivery so it’s a tad bit warmer, but we’re excited. This will be our first time with meat chickens and we’re starting out with 25. If all goes well, we’ll put another order in for the fall to harvest before it gets cold outside.
In addition to the meat chickens, 12 fresh new hand picked chicks will be arriving to begin our laying flock once more. They will all be vaccinated and we will not allow any outside poultry will set foot on this farm (lol). If you have no idea why I’m saying this, you can read all about that here.
I’ve personally started my 365 project back up this year. For those who don’t know what that is, it’s a project in which you take an image a day for an entire year. My focus this year is finding beauty every single day. It may not easy, but always worth it. You can follow along with that project on IG here.
New Years on the farm. What a time to be alive. The new year brings about so many things for so many people. Most of us have goals we want to accomplish the coming year and dreams we’re striving for. Our family is no different, but our focus this year is grass and garden.
We spent our New Year’s Day walking around the 60 acres we are blessed to be able to care for. In that time I did a lot of thinking. Hearing the birds sing, making sure to walk as quietly as possible as not to disturb the wildlife we so desperately wanted to see, and picking up wood treasures was a great way to start this new year. Winter prep had already been accomplished and it was time to think ahead.
GRASS & GARDEN
I mentioned ‘grass and garden’ earlier and what I mean by that is that 2022 we’ll be focused on growing grass and expanding our garden. In order to begin adding livestock to our farm, we have to have forage for them to eat or they will literally eat you out of house and home.
The problem is, in order to grow grass, we must first prep our land for the idea place for that grass to grow. Adding lime is what is up first since that is what our soil tests revealed. Normally lime is added in the fall so that’s our plan for Fall, with Spring 2023 adding grass to 17 acres of pasture land. Earlier if time (and finances) allows.
The future large garden has been mapped out as well as tagged. I’ve realized rather quickly how expensive it will be to permanent fence this area in so for this coming Spring we will make do with things we can do cheaply this year to keep the future chickens and hungry deer out.
This is the year to grow the majority of our food. Preserving, filling up the larder, pressure canning, fermentation, and fresh eating all the goodies we normally eat. No, I’m not going to grow anything “crazy.” This year will focus on things we actually eat, buy at the farmer’s market, or use for recipes often.
Basil, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, garlic, storage potatoes, lots of peppers, beans, and corn are all things that have been ordered or seed saved from last year. Of course we can’t forget all the pumpkins. I’m going to attempt them again this year (last year they were devoured by bugs) and I have a better plan this year for them to thrive (fingers crossed).
We planted a ton of onions and garlic to over-winter so even though those have been started, I will end up plating more in our larger garden.
Give me all the flowers. Tulips have been planted everywhere, Ranunculus have already been establish and well sprouted (stupid abnormal warmer weather), and I’ve got chamomile, zinnias, cosmos, craspedia, and yarrow on order. I’d love to grow all the things but I’m trying to be practical this year.
During the last bits of summer, we completely took out all the old boxed shrubs from the front of our home, so I’ll be focusing all filling in with things for long term wonder. I’ve already planted tulips, snow in the summer, and transplanted and moved our fig tree.
Have you ever heard of Burch Acres? I have been following her for awhile and I’m just amazed at not only her garden, but her giving of education.
BREEDING OUR GOATS
This is the year we will breed our beautiful goats. October will be the time and I’m am beside myself excited. Unaware of how we’ll breed them (obviously either by AI or bringing a buck in), but either way it will be an exciting time.
THEN WINTER CAME
Yesterday we were woken up by the sounds of wind like I’ve never heard before. It was crazy. With that wind (and storm) brought a beautiful winter wonderland. As as soon as it came…that afternoon it was gone.
We are so hopeful for this year and we can’t wait to see where this year takes us. Happy New Year friends.
*Please note this blog post contains affiliate links. If a purchase is made through one of my links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.*
About a month ago, we were gifted with a Berkey Water Filter. Now, for those of you who don’t know what this is…stay with me here. I’m about to give you a heads up on how you can get the cleanest water without having to buy tons of bottles.
WHY ON THE FARM
A year ago, while going through the process of buying this property, we had to get a water test (on top of a million other things). Those tests were not the best. We had a specialist come out and “disinfect” the well, but even after that, there were still some issues.
Long term goals for the well are in place, but it’s truly so expensive, therefore, I got on google (surprise) and did a massive amount of research.
WHY A BERKEY?
“All Berkey water filters produce purified drinking water. In order to be classified as a water purifier, Berkey has surpassed standards set by the military in order to be able to differentiate between water filters of different abilities. These standards set the bar so high that very few are able to achieve this classification. Berkey water filters not only meet this standard but surpasses it with never before seen results.” Source: here
Our main concern was arsenic in our water. Arsenic is an element that occurs naturally in rocks and soil and can naturally deposit into wells, but our levels are on the higher levels. You can put a system into place by using reverse osmosis, distillation, or ion exchange, but all of these options are quite high.
Eventually we’ll need not only an entirely new well drilled, but multiple to accommodate our growing farm. Until then, enter in the next best thing.
“Berkey Water Filtration Systems can be classified as a water purifier because the elements actually remove 99.9999999% of pathogenic bacteria (log 9 reductions) and 99.999% of viruses which greatly exceeds the standards.” Source: here
Not only that but…
Also removes or reduces:
Arsenic (>99.9%); Escherichia coli (E. Coli) (>99.999%); Fluorene (>99.9%); Manganese (>99.9%); MBAS (>96.67%); Nitrites (>95%); PCB s (>99.9%); Petroleum Products (Gasoline, Diesel, Crude Oil, Kerosene, Mineral Spirits, Refined Oil- All >99.9%); Selenium (>99.9%); Thallium (>99.5%); Rust; Silt; Sediment; Turbidity; Foul Tastes and Odors.
See that arsenic number reduction? Yep, that’s what sold me. They even have lab results to back it up.
My family thought I was crazy, but I could smell our water. It smelled weird, almost like sulphur to me. To say I was excited when the Berkey arrived would be a huge understatement. It arrived and I immediately began putting it together.
My father in law (who so humbly bought it for us) not only bought the unit, but two additional filters and my gosh it was nice not having to worry about it for a long time. I primed both filters as instructed, washed the stainless steel unit pieces, attached the spigot and it was go time.
I ran the water through it a couple times before trying the clean water and 150% noticed a significant difference. Even the kids were saying how clean it tasted. No smell, no contaminants, no nothing. I also watched the video below because I’m a nerd like that 🙂
And after seeing Lisa from Farmhouse on Boone do her review (unsponsored), I knew without a doubt we needed it on our farm. She has an entire playlist on her Berkey. Extremely informative.
A MONTH LATER
It’s been a month and I’m still 20000% sure we made the best decision for not only our health, but the health of our kids. I couldn’t be any happier with our Berkey.
Our family uses a lot of water so we fill our system up once a day for a family of 5. We also use it to fill our ice cub trays up. The filters are the best on the market, therefore it takes time for the water to completely filter through. Don’t freak out if it seems like it’s taking forever. It’s doing its job.
Watch for sales and combos. We were able to get the stand and an additional spigot that is stainless steel. They run amazing specials throughout the year.
You can learn about our other favorite products here.
I had a hard mental day the other day. I just did. There was no fighting it, I just had to feel it and feel it all. Rose colored glasses we put on a lot of times hinder our vision to see the truth and the truth is exactly what we need at that moment. Eyes to see, emotions to feel, and then we can gain perspective and put our big girl panties back on. Thursday Ramblings.
As I’m typing this, there is a little voice that keeps whispering “don’t talk about that. this is a ‘farm’ blog. wait, what?” Writing has always been therapeutic for me. I can remember in high school writing until my hand would cramp so bad I would be forced to stop. It wasn’t until I had kids that I burned those journals (yeah, I know) just so my own children wouldn’t find them one day and realize I didn’t have it all together.
FIGHT OR FLIGHT
I value the fact that I can take a tragedy, a fight or flight situation and jump into high gear. I quickly take control, make plans, execute the said plans, and make things better. The problem with that is that the situation can become so focused that I lose myself in the process.
There have been a few times in my life that have been so devastating that the part of my body that usually kicks in, can’t. Fear has paralyzed me while feeling like I have lost the ability to breath. Last year was one of those times. I was faced with something that I have come to realize I am still having to deal with emotionally. The repercussions of that event has left me with a post traumatic symptom like effect.
I remember when Jackson(our 3rd) was about 6 months old, I fell while holding him. I don’t mean just like a tumble, I mean I lost my footing so bad he went flying through the air and landed on concrete. The ambulance was called, I kept him awake while tears streamed down my face. Thank God he was just fine, but gosh that event changed me to the core. Side note: this is when my chronic back pain began. That fall changed the health of my back forever.
Back to the other day. Something just felt off in me all dang day. I couldn’t pin point it, but I was agitated, my chest felt heavy, and I didn’t realize it, but panic was starting to set in. My heart rate was increasing and the ability to breath was getting harder. Being a nurse I should have seen the signs, but again…those rose colored glasses can alter what we want to see. I was having a panic attack. The events from the week before were triggering that post traumatic symptom to take a hold there was no stopping it.
PANIC SETS IN
A new heartbreaking family event had occurred the week prior and it was now showing its ugly head a week later in my own body. It had taken a week of me going into the flight or fight mentality until the severity of the situation was too much for my own body to handle. Does that make sense? Think of it like this…you get into a car accident (a really bad one), your bruised up and sore, but what you went through doesn’t fully show up until you get back into a car a week later. That’s the best way I can describe it.
It took a full 24 hours for my body to come down, but the following day I had realized what had happened. After reflecting on what traumas have occurred in my 40 years of life, my body had every reason to freak out.
Faith has an incredible way of guiding you in the right direction, but that doesn’t mean life will be easy. Faith is not seeing something and still believing. I have heard God’s voice just a few times in my life. No, I don’t mean audibly, but more of a deep down in my soul feeling that I knew 100% it was HIM. That has guided me more times that I can count. And in those moments of despair, that is what has kept my head above water.
What I know without a shadow of a doubt:
“God gives me strength when I am weary.” Isaiah 40:29
“God is my refuge in times of trouble” Psalm 9:9
“When I ask HIM God gives me wisdom” James 1:5
So what is the whole point of this Thursday Ramblings post? You are NOT alone. We’re all going through our own tragedies, but you will not only make it out, but be a better human being because of those lessons learned from the darkest of times. You can be a light for someone else struggling. You are enough. Do not let fear tell you otherwise.
Letting go of perfection. I had an hour long FaceTime conversation with a friend yesterday. It was glorious, uninterrupted, and just what my heart needed. Even though we now live 3 hours away from each other, we didn’t skip a beat. It had been a while since we had last talked and we spoke all about what had been going on in our lives and the lives of the ones we love in our homes.
Talking about our kids, I see a small glimpse of admiration sigh on her face. I knew what she was thinking…your kids have it together. Oh sweet friend, I’m in the trenches just like you. That next 20 minutes I told her stories of the last year and a half. Stories filled with what would look like I’m the worst parent in the world. Things we’ve endured that I don’t wish upon any parent.
You could literally see her face relax as she realized we’re all there. We’re all in the depths of trying to raise God loving, people loving, responsible human beings and it’s hard. Your body and mind both take a toll but the thing is, we get up and keep going. That’s what matters.
I’ve said this plenty of times, but social media can be a tricky little thing. Adoring images of little babies tucked in their perfect nurseries, dinner tables filled with amazing food surrounded by candlelight, and pumpkin carving on a brisk fall evening. What you don’t see (unless you follow the right people) is that toddler just lost his s*** because he didn’t get to use the knife himself, or that teenager just spilled an entire glass of water all over the table at dinner and almost burnt the house down.
This beautiful little cherub has an absolute meltdown after this cureated image.
My younger kids love to tell the story of when mom ran a red light because she almost crapped her pants or the time when I pushed my then pre-teen in front of a flying bird and slammed the door behind him (they still laugh so hard at that one. Don’t judge…I don’t like wild birds flying towards my head lol), or the time my oldest son yelled at the top of his lungs that my “butt smelled like poop” at a swim park while waiting in line for a ride.
Because the truth is, we like to think we’re doing a good job. We believe that when our kids fail, it’s due to our lack of parenting skills. In the same arena, when our kids are thriving, we boast and think yeah, I’m doing it right.
Parenting will always be a juggling act. As soon as you think you’ve got this gig down, one of those precious beings will put you right back in your place. The place of humbleness.
Don’t mistake my words for the lack of time spent with your kids being invaluable. We pour everything we have into these children we’ve been blessed to raise, but sometimes they do stupid things. Sometimes they make bad choices. Sometimes they have to learn the hard way.
That has no reflection on how well you are parenting, that shows you they are human as well. They are going to fail, fall, and disappoint you. It’s not if it will happen but when. You are going to ride that wave, love them hard, and learn every step of the way with them.
WHAT CAN YOU DO
I’ll occasionally get asked what we do as a family to help foster positive relationships with our kids. Here are the top 5 things I say…
Have dinner together every single night. No, not propped up in front of the tv. I’m talking sit down, tv off, phones gone dinner every single night. But my kids do so many extracurricular activities that we can’t do that. Well maybe it’s time to scale back. If you can’t find 30 minutes of your day to sit down and have a real conversation with your family, maybe it’s time to reevaluate. What if they did just one sport this season?
LOOK THEM IN THE EYES
Seem simple right? Do you know how many times my kids have wanted to tell me a story and I’ve been preoccupied with something? I have to practice this skill every single day. Do I want to hear the millionth time about which Pokemon is the best? Of course not, but it’s important to them. If they can’t trust me to really listen to them about that, how can they trust me to listen to the big stuff one day?
BRING UP HARD SUBJECTS…OFTEN
This is a big one for me. I talk about all the things with my kids. Sex, diseases, protection, drugs, bullying, not following the crowd, all of it! Now, obviously not with the younger two yet, but the older two will tell you immediately that I’m in it. My oldest son will probably say that I talk about it too much. I don’t care. These kids know they can ask me anything at any time and it’s often. I’m not mentioning it once and think they got it. It’s a constant discussion.
I AM NOT THEIR FRIEND…YET
Our job as parents is to guide their souls. I’m not here to be their friend. I’m here to teach them how to love, laugh, build responsibility, resilience, determination, and to beat to their own drum.
There will come a day when the parenting role will shift and an unbelievably amazing friendship with your children will come to fruition. I know this. My oldest daughter and I have the kind of relationship I had always dreamed of. Now, did it happen when we were setting boundaries and enforcing rules? Gracious alive no. But those were all the building blocks.
Parents, I’m giving you the pass to be all up in their business. Who are they hanging out with at school? Find out. Need to look through their phone? GO FOR IT! Afraid they’ll get mad? Who the heck cares. Our job is to guide and protect our children. I’ll get off my soap box now lol.
I mess up all the time. Everyday. I yell too much, snap too quickly, and my attitude can really just suck sometimes. Why would I think children wouldn’t be the exact same way? Kids have horrible no good bad days just like adults. Extend some grace. No, I’m not talking about ignoring blatant disrespect, but I am saying to take a moment to breathe before you lash out at that behavior.
More times than I care to admit, I have gone to my children and said the words I’m sorry. It’s an amazing thing apologizing to your kids. You can literally see relief in those little eyes. Admitting you were wrong show them that you are not only human, but you can own up to your wrong doings. It teaches them they can too.
Can you tell that conversation I had yesterday stirred something in me? This is my jam. Telling parents that life isn’t perfect, everyone has something shoved into the closet, and life can sometimes be overwhelming is my JAM! Give yourself grace today friends.
Even though we are still feeling the fall vibes here on the farm, it was a brisk 43 degrees when we woke up this morning reminding our family that winter is not only coming, but faster than we want. Winter prep on the farm.
The image above was our first winter here (last year) and it was as stunning as it looks.
PURCHASE OF HAY/STRAW
The grasses are starting to turn and that means a few things for our livestock…time to stock up on good quality hay for winter eating. We sources all our hay locally and store in a 3 sided part of our barn protected from the elements but still gets plenty of ventilation. One side is hay while the other houses straw for bedding.
I need to get an updated image of this setup due to a lot changing since last year. The left side is the side I’m referring to. The entire back side of that barn is now fenced in (~2 acres) and they have access to it 24/7. The front area is protected by electric fencing as well.
FRESH AND CLEAN
Another task on our to do list is cleaning out all the old bedding in their housing area. We’ve already done it once this year, but we want a nice clean dry area to put down fresh straw before it gets too cold. Having an area for the goats and livestock guardian dogs that is dry is crucial for the health of them. Also having a 3 sided structure is super important. It keeps the winds off of them while still providing fresh air.
Look how tiny he was <3 Clyde is a wether (castrated male) and he is by far the snuggliest of them all.
You can read all about the goats and their set up here.
All the spring/summer plants have been pulled up and put into our compost pile. After that we have shoveled well- aged compost on future planting lots and topped dressed with wood chips that we also get locally. We removed every single boxed wood from the front of the house. They were so old and unruly and it wasn’t my vision for that area. So far we have prepped that area by placing cardboard down (I’m talking overlapping a crazy amount of free cardboard) and wood chips.
You can keep up with the progress and see the images here on our IG page.
Because we can’t just go and buy a crazy amount of compost (it’s expensive and adds up quick), we are doing things in stages. We have a little area outside of our garage where I planted peppers, herbs, etc. and that area was all cleaned out and we just planted a crazy amount of bulbs as well as onions and garlic. These will over-winter and be ready in spring.
WHAT WAS PLANTED
I’m more of a pastel flower lover with a few exceptions. That being said, I planted around 65 bulbs of pink, salmon, and white tulips as well as lavender colored crocus. I did place a few daffodils in that area as well. Tip: anytime I have to go to Lowes Hardware, I slip back into their garden section and look at their clearance section. I have scored so many amazing things for 50% off.
This week I found a knock out light lemon colored rose bush, two perineal snapdragon plants, and a blueberry bush all at the discounted rate. They are glorious and we added them to the side of our yard chicken coop since the chickens are now in our freezer.
THROUGH THE WINTER
Even though it will be cold, we still have to do things in stages like stated before so the winter task is to get the main garden area fenced in and as ready as it can be come Spring. It’s going to be large so this HAS to be taken in steps financially. One thing I have done this year (which was new to me) was to save seeds from all the plants who thrived this year.
Our peppers did absolutely amazing this year. We were shocked. I saved seeds from the best of the best. Our luffa plants stole the show and produced more than I know what do it with so seeds were saved from those as well. Next year that will drape over a large arbor entrance into the garden space.
I’m keeping an eye out for discounted grape vines and those will be added to the fence line of the garden.
Other plants I saved seeds from are sunflowers, chili pepper seeds (which plants I got to free), coneflower, cayenne pepper, and jalapeño seeds. The saving of seeds is a new thing for us, but it will cut the cost down in Spring time.
A few weeks back I picked up quite a few storage garlic from a farmer’s market. Know what I did? I took 3 of those bulbs, broke them up into cloves, and that’s what we planted to over-winter. They were amazing quality and I think they will do amazing. Each tiny clove will produce an entire bulb and that’s exciting.
SCOTT HAS PLANS
I can almost guarantee that my husband has many plans as well including getting the tractor serviced, cleaning out more land, and planning out which acreage will be fenced in next. He wants cows 🙂 but the focus this winter is things inside the home that have been on the back burner. Updating the kitchen is on the top of the list. I want to paint all the cabinets, we have our neighbor making us shelving for the kitchen (open shelving here we come), and winterizing the house. It’s an old house and it’s freezing in here lol.
PREPPING THE DUCKS
Ducks are pretty hardy livestock but we will make sure they have adequate dry bedding, fresh (unfrozen) water, plenty of feed (increase in feed is how they will stay warm), and the duck house will be added with insulation if needed.
As a single mom for 7 years, Christmas was spent over indulging my two children in a ridiculous way. The bottom of the tree was filled to the brim and most times spilled out across the entire living room. The 4 gift rule came into play a few years ago.
*Please note this blog post contains affiliate links. If a purchase is made through one of my links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.*
Christmas time at the Bowman (my maiden name) house was a sight to be seen. My mother is the optiamy of the ultimate hostess. Freshly washed blankets in baskets, little trinkets that were only brought out at holidays that she safely tucked away for the rest of the year (made it even more special when they came out), and the smell of cinnamon, nutmeg, and oranges often filled every room of the house.
Like most young families, they were not wealthy, but they always made sure Christmas was a time to remember. Now as an adult I realize how many hours of overtime my mom must have had to accomplish to make our Christmases that way. I can’t even imagine. Oh wait, yes I can. For years and years, I would go over the top on this special holiday.
Once I wasn’t a single mom any longer, the weight of 4 children at Christmas was hard. My tendencies for going over the top didn’t stop, but this time it was beyond what we could afford. Oh trust me, I did it for years and we’re still paying for it.
I remember reading an article around that time that spoke of the 4 gift rule. I instantly thought Oh, there is no way I could do that, but I was still intrigued. I also knew my children would probably be disappointed and there is nothing worse than a mom who has spent months planning for that morning only to be saddened by her children’s responses.
Circa 2016. The littles watching the Santa Tracker
THE LIGHTBULB MOMENT
It was in that moment that I knew things had to change. If I was concerned that my own children wouldn’t value how much work, time, money, and sacrifice we put into having a magical Christmas…we missed the whole point.
We both decided the financial stress of this particular holiday was insane. With our children having an overtop gift giving explosion every single year, how would they react to this new norm? How would we even transition to a 4 gift rule? First thing we did was have the hard conversation.
Popping up 4 gifts that year without explaining why Christmas wouldn’t be normal this year was not how we wanted to start it. I say normal that way because to kids, it was their normal. They would wake up Christmas morning to mounds of gifts for them to tear open. This was going to be different.
In our household, we let the kids believe in Santa until well…they don’t. They all know the true meaning of Christmas and for many years we would make Jesus a birthday cake along with singing him Happy Birthday on that special day, but they would make their little list out every year to send to that jolly old man.
Here is what we said in a nut shell. “This year Santa has asked us to make your list out for 4 really special gifts that you would love to have. Instead of putting down so many things you would like to have only to not play with them a month later, he wants to know 4 gifts that would make this year super special. He wants to know something you want, something you’d like to read, something you wish you had to wear, and something you think you need.”
We held our breath…
Yes, questions arose and we answered them as best as we could and reminded them frequently that Santa wants us to remember the true meaning of Christmas. That first year we also did our random acts of kindness which I think really helped put their hearts where they needed to be. They made out their lists and changed them often, but it got them thinking about what they really really wanted.
Some may look at this image and think that’s a ton of gifts, others may gasp because it’s not. It’s all relative. Those gifts under the tree were not only the kids, but extended family as well as their stockings. That beautiful piano was a family gift.
Our family takes our time watching each person in our home open their thought out gifts with anticipation and let me tell you…it’s that much sweeter. Although we only have one little person left in the house who believes in Santa, she also knows the real meaning behind our celebration and for that I am thankful.
I have this little book on my desk snuggled in so no one can see. In it I write things throughout the year that the kids mention they would love to have, or a need I see. When the time comes to get gifts prepared to purchase, I pull out that book and take consideration on this year’s goals.
Example: Our two littles have been electronic free (iPads, iPhones, tablets, video games, etc.) since July 24, 2020. Yep, we made them an epic deal for the ultimate prize at the end of a solid year without those gadgets and truth be told, I’m not sure we’ll ever bring them back. That being said, this year I would love to focus on things they can do.
They both have been begging for a Kiwi crate for awhile now, so they each will be getting a 6 month kiwi crate. I’ve picked out the Tinker crate for Jackson and I’m still deciding on either the Doodle crate or the new Yummy crate for Ella.
Ella recently went to a birthday party and in their backyard was this amazing swing their dad had built. I have put it on the husband task list to build one for the littles this year as a surprise gift. They are going to freak out.
Here are some other ideas for anyone who needs a little inspiration.
*A kids cooking class, a book series they can read, a magazine subscription (my kids love getting mail), museum membership, gift card to their favorite ice cream shop, a day trip to somewhere they have never been (hiking, water park, new town to explore, etc.), a backpack filled with explorer gifts, new good quality pjs, boots for the winter (this will be one of theirs), any outside toy, something to build, a local art class, maybe a music lesson? The sky is the limit, but the value of the gift is that it was picked out with thought, not just another plastic toy they will play with for a month and then get dust on it.
No, we do not count the stockings as a gift and let me tell you…I can go over board on this one. It is by far my most favorite thing to shop for. I used to save things throughout the year and put them up to use for the stockings later on. I fill them with extremely special things I know they want/need. Brand new art supplies, speciality teas for my oldest daughter, little Lego men packets, little gift cards, new toothbrushes, and I’ve found many amazing things at thrift shops.
I mentioned before that the same year we moved to a 4 gift rule, we also did a lot of giving back. If I remember correctly, each week leading up to Christmas (I think we did this for 6 weeks) we did a random act of kindness. One week my children made cookies and gave them to our neighbors. The next week we taped quarters onto the little kid toy vending machines at the grocery store, and we even collected sleeping bags for our local homeless community.
NEW EYES TO SEE
These acts gave my children new eyes to see. It wasn’t all about the gift receiving, but the giving. The giving of our time, our money, and our hearts to those in need. I highly recommend your children seeing you not only talk about selfless acts, but walking the walk and doing them. Invite them in to witness and be a part of something bigger than themselves.
I woke up for farm chores this morning and it was 47 degrees. Glorious I tell you. Just enough chill to put a sweater on and head out for all the sometime mundane but magical tasks of letting animals out of their safe night quarters and out into the grasses. September updates on the farm.
It’s crazy to think you have to prep your garden spaces this far in advance, but it’s the best practices to do so. The large permanent garden space we have planned for next year is right behind our house. The entire month of September was pasture (garden space) rotationally grazing our chickens. All that digging up by the chickens and for lack of a better word…pooping on is perfect for getting that space ready for next year.
Next up we will be placing cardboard (doubled) on the entire space we plan to fence in for the garden. We have been blessed with a ton of cardboard from a local family who has just moved to the area. On top of those cardboard pieces will be a big thick layer of local compost. This will sit all winter long breaking down and bringing vitality to this area.
PREPARING THE FRONT GARDEN
As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, we had these overgrown hedging that was placed in the front of this house probably years and years ago. We removed all of that jazz so we have a blank slate. We are going to do the exact same practice as the garden. Placing cardboard down first, then adding good compost in preparation for planting perennials next year in this space.
I do have a few that I will place there I have in containers and they can overwinter there. Autumn sedum, a fig tree, a peony bush, and a few other tucked in there. Next Spring I will plant the bulk of the cottage style perennials I have planned. Think full, pastel, evergreen look.
Scott knows I need two arbors made. One for the front where a specific David Austin climbing rose will trellis up and one for the front of the entrance of the future fenced in garden space for the next year Luffa plant will be housed. We are using free plans from Farmhouse On Boone and it is just perfect.
I’ve mapped out what plants I want in this space and I’m so excited. Attached to each window will be a window box with in season annuals made of cedar and below will be filled with shade loving Hostas, roses, echinacea, lavender, and hydrangeas. All to provide our home with cut flowers and pollination for the bees and butterflies. On the south side of the front will be a place for a long strip of chamomile intertwined with more lavender.
A NEW WAY TO SOURDOUGH
I’ll be honest, I was getting pretty tired of “feeding” my sourdough everyday and after watching Shaye of The Elliott Homestead‘s dry sourdough version, I was sold. I took my huge wet sourdough starter and began turning only 20-30 grams of it to a dry starter. I urge you to watch it if you’re kinda tired of using so much flour as well.
SICK KIDS AND A HUSBAND THAT HAS BEEN OUT OF TOWN FOR WEEKS
How ya like that title? lol. Kids have been home for a solid week with a terrible cold (negative for Covid), but this cough is relentless. We finally got out of the house today because this momma was gonna loose her mind.
Scott comes home this coming week and we will be so glad to have him home. I told him he is the muscle of this farm and it’s the truth. Farm work is not for the weak my friends.
Monday morning I will be taking all our chickens to the processor and I’m just praying I don’t get scratched to death doing this solo. We hope you have the best week ever!
Our family has been an avid essential oil user since 2013 when I joined Young Living. Just like most families, we wanted a different way to treat, heal, and live without always grabbing conventional treatments of medications, cleaners, and personal care products. I had always loved holistic approaches to life, but it wasn’t until I graduated for nursing school, that my passion came full force.
*Please note this blog post contains affiliate links. If a purchase is made through one of my links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.*
FIRST AND FOREMOST
Disclaimer: I do not nor will ever believe I know more about health than a physician, but I am a mom. I know my children the best out of anyone else on this planet and that means making decisions that conventional medicine may not agree with. I worked in an OBGYN clinic for 6 years until I was pregnant with our last baby. We decided as a family that my time was better spent with them full time.
I think our society as a whole tends to gravitate giving medications for just about anything. Got a fever? Time for some medication. Headache? Let’s grab some ibuprofen. Instead, our family tends to gravitate why we are having symptoms and how we can decrease those ailments without medication first.
Disclaimer #2: Modern medicine is amazing!!! We will always be grateful for life saving treatments and will utilize them when absolutely necessary, but I think we use them too often instead of figuring out the why we’re having them in the first place.
ALL THAT TO SAY…
All that to say you know your family/kids best. You feel more confident giving them medication? You do you. We pass no judgment here. But what if you could treat that fever a little different? What if that cough could be helped with a little oil on their chest? What if you could clean your entire house without the use of chemicals? What if…
We all see the news everyday of another company getting sued for an allergic reaction, a compromise in their facility, and even people having strange symptoms that they can’t figure out what’s causing it? We can’t spend our lives in a bubble, but what we can do is decide what comes in our own homes.
Image taken in 2014. I was so dang excited.
WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS?
What are essential oils anyways? They are concentrated extracts harvested from plants, herbs, and trees. Oils have been used for centuries. Well before modern medicine came into play. We use essential oils in our own home for a plethora of things. We use them to make our home smell nice (vs. using candles) , our haircare, skincare, supplements, cleaning, laundry, shaving, sickness, ailments, and everything under the sun. Before I grab a conventional medicine, I will use our essential oils first.
My belief is that families are fearful. What if I use them wrong? What if I use too much, too little, what if… Let me put you at ease. It’s all a glorious learning adventure. Research is key and there are dedicated groups that have a wealth of knowledge far greater than myself and I turn to them often on top of doing all my own diligent research. Feel free to reach out to me or leave a blog comment if you want to be added to a Facebook group.
This is Ella, the 4th baby. She was the reason I jumped into all things holistic. See, she was a very colicky baby and I wanted to try and do everything possible to make it better.
There is a massive amount of information and books out there, but a couple of my favorite reference ones are Essential Oils The Complete Home Reference (look for one at a local thrift shop as well), and Essential Oils of the Bible which I found fascinating. Remember to always look at your local thrift/used book store. I have found amazing resources there.
NOT ALL OILS ARE CREATED EQUAL
If you don’t read anything else in this blog post, please read this. Not all oils are created equal. It’s a sad reality, but it’s the truth. I did a ridiculous amount of research on oils before starting this journey and I kept coming back to Young Living. Young Living products will never contain: • Formaldehyde • Artificial dyes • Petroleum • Mineral oil • Sulfates • Parabens
“We believe in showing nature the same respect and reverence that she’s shown us through the priceless gift of essential oils. Young Living is tirelessly working to sustain, protect, and support the earth by:
Ensuring that all of our corporate farms and Seed to Seal-certified suppliers are carefully monitored for earth-friendly practices and low-impact production.
Working toward zero-waste operations. Young Living has won Green Business of the Year and Recycler of the Year awards for our efforts.
Using lower-impact packaging. We say no to packaging that contains PVC, BPA, and perchlorate and yes to using minimal packaging with recycled materials.
Putting our money where our mouth is by funding efforts to protect the planet, including Healing the Amazon, Vital Grounds, owl conservation, and the D. Gary Young Wildlife Sanctuary.
Going green in our new Global Headquarters, which is built to both LEED and Green Globe certifications.” Source: here
I’LL LEAVE YOU WITH THIS…
Going against the grain can be scary, but if this last year has taught us anything…sometimes it’s necessary and ends up becoming the exact thing we were supposed to do. My plan is to share more every week about how we utilize the oils we have been so blessed by in hopes that it gives you the confidence to change the way you see health in your own family.
Heard enough and ready to start something amazing? I’d love for you to join us on this ongoing journey to take back our own health, provide our children with the knowledge of better living, and start fresh. You can sign up with is direct link HERE or you can email me directly at email@example.com and I’ll get you set up.
Since we are well into September, I suppose it’s time for August updates on the farm lol. Time is a thief and it has definitely gotten away from us this month. You can read all about our July updates here.
THE CHICKEN SITUATION
Well, to make a very long story short, we are culling our chicken flock. This was not an easy decision but a well thought out one. First, let’s talk about what they have. CRD (chronic respiratory disease) is the diagnosis. This disease does not affect the consumption of eggs nor the meat of the birds with the disease (meaning you can eat the eggs and meat with no issues), but long term effects of the lives of the birds is not the best. Clinical signs include coughing, tail bobbing when breathing, emaciation, rales, and sneezing, open mouth breathing, poor growth, decreased feed consumption, lowered egg production and shell quality. Source: Poultry World
So how did our flock get CRD? After talking with a few poultry veterinary providers, we believe it came from a new flock that was introduced to our original one months ago. I thought I had given enough time between introducing everyone together, but it wasn’t and this new flock must have been carriers of the disease. Huge gut punch.
A local lady needed to re-home her flock and I didn’t do my du-diligence in making sure they were at their healthiest before moving everyone together. Live and learn.
CC, one of our Easter Egger chickens.
CAN’T YOU JUST TREAT?
We can but here’s the problem. This disease doesn’t just go away with some antibiotics. Once the chickens have it, they have it for life. It just becomes dormant until some kind of stressor exacerbates the entire process all over again. The best bio-security measure you can take is prevention. Prevention is based largely on obtaining chicks or poults from M gallisepticum-free breeder flocks.
What if our farm wants to sell chicks one day? Well, we can’t very well do that knowing that our entire flock is CRD positive. I’m sure many people do, but that’s not what we’re all about. We want the healthiest livestock humanly possible and that means starting over.
Yes, it sucks but I’m at peace with it. One, I don’t want chickens that are miserable with a raspy cough, sneezing, and just all around not feeling 100%. Two, I feel like it’s our job to provide the public (and even our own family) with the purest of forms of food (ie: eggs, meat, etc).
We will depopulate (cull) the entire flock, let the land rest through the winter and early spring, disinfect every single piece of chicken equipment we have, and order chicks in the late spring. We will be ordering all of our chicks from Murray McMurray Hatchery where they take the biosecurity very very seriously. As do we.
Every chicken owner on the planet will have an opinion on this, trust me, I know. That being said, we are confident in our decision and know it’s the best choice for us.
The only thing that got me though the devastating news was that the veterinarian stated we did everything right. The apple cider vinegar, the organic feed, the pasture rotating…all of it. This one choice to bring a new flock onto our land is what started this crazy mess. I tell you this to hopefully educate so you don’t make the same mistake as we did.
We also want to give a HUGE shout out to NC State of Veterinary Medicine. I’m not sure I’ve ever dealt with such compassionate/educated/informative veterinarians in my whole life.
Mr. Pendleton is off of the farm for 3 weeks on a work education trip, Ryder (our 16 year old) officially moved into his school for the next 2 years (amazing program), and so the little people and myself are holding down the fort (farm).
Everyone is back in school, my busy season is getting ready to begin in my business, and I look forward to the cooler weather.
I have pulled everything that is finished growing, with the exception of the luffa gourds and peppers (I swear those peppers will never stop). The luffa plants are unlike anything I have ever seen. I’m saving seeds from them for next year and I can’t wait to see how this whole process finishes out. They are HUGE. I will end up growing these next year on an arbor entering the garden spot.
Garden plans for next year are well under way. We have chosen a plot of land that will become our permanent garden space complete with fencing around the entire area to keep nosy chickens and ducks out. Four large poles will also surround the area so that I can fulfill my dream of hanging lights up around this magic place.
A beginning plan for the front cottage gardens.
Next month is going to be slammed. I’ll be gone on business 2 or 3 of all the weekends, we need to cull the chickens, get lime added to all the pastures for next year cover crop seed planting, and begin the cleaning process of everything, but we’re still so grateful for this life.