Saturday, June 28, 2014

Weekly Round Up, Weekly Round Up, Here are Some Pictures for Yo-u!

Thanks to my three girls, I've had a My Little Pony song stuck in my head all day.  Hence the title of this post.  Just imagine cute little ponies running around singing, "Winter Wrap Up, Winter Wrap Up, Let's finish our holiday cheer."  And just in case you can't imagine it, the link will take you to a You Tube video.  Be easily becomes stuck. 

Enough about ponies.  Let's talk pictures. This week was kind of hit and miss for taking them.  Hopefully next week I'll be more on track. And remember to bring my iPod with me.

Sunday, June  22nd

Another generation of barn cats being tamed by Jayme.  Three kittens in this batch.  The kids are enjoying playing with them, and most mornings they scramble into the barn for milking time in hopes of getting a squirt or two.  Now I just need to teach them to catch it...

Monday, June 23rd

No picture.

Tuesday, June 24th

The was sure fun to play in!  Bryan helped to get it fixed up--the middle is supposed to be higher than the front and back!  The tent is now moved from this location, to a smoother spot in the yard.  It's also further away from our "lightning rod" flag pole! 

Wednesday, June 25th

Just a crockpot.  A picture taken specifically for a blog post.  Nothing fancy.

Thursday, June 26th

Exciting day for us!  The Parent Partnership Program where I used to work had a surplus sale.  $10 for a bag full of homeschooling materials.  Look at all the things I got for $30.  Some highlights:  Dave Ramsey's Foundations for Personal Finance course for homeschoolers (all complete!), Institute for Excellence in Writing's Student Intensive Writing Course B (for Jayme in 8th grade), Ruby Bridge's Through My Eyes, and a complete Sing, Spell, Read & Write K-1 set.  Wow!  Lots of other things too!

Friday, June 27th

No pic.

Saturday, June 28th

This is a really blurry picture.  It worked a whole lot better in my mind than in actuality.  It was too dark in our house when I took it, but if I had turned on a light, I would have woken them all up. This shows our living room, with five of the six kids (all but Simon) asleep on either the couch or the floor, all snuggled close and piled under blankets.  It was sweet. 

Memo to self...check the weather forecast BEFORE you tell the kids we'll all be sleeping in the tent that night.  Thunder, lightning and rain.  Not a pretty picture for a tent.  They were so disappointed, especially since Jayme, Jeffrey and Ellie worked so hard prepping the tent with blankets, sleeping bags and pillows. 

To make it up to them (kind of), we brought all of them inside and camped in the living room.  They crashed after popcorn and a movie.  And we all stayed warm and dry. 

We're hoping to really camp next week--when the weather is better.

I hope your week was just as good as ours, and perhaps your weather a little better!  (I KNOW we need the rain, but I prefer the sun in June!)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Blender Ice Cream!

Ice cream is a favorite dessert around the farm.  Actually...we kind of like ice cream any time of day.  We've even had our homemade stuff for breakfast on occasion.  (Frozen milk, vanilla, a bit of unrefined sugar or maple syrup, maybe some fruit...what's not to love?)

But even in our awesome ice cream maker, it takes time.  Each batch requires about 25 minutes from mixing to eatable.  It also takes planning--I have to make sure our ice cream containers for the machine are completely frozen.  Which doesn't always happen.

So when I read about blender ice cream here, I knew I had to try it.  I didn't have just plain frozen strawberries like it called for, so I used a mix of frozen fruits.  Ours had strawberries, pineapple, mango and peaches. 

I used about 4 cups of frozen fruit, 1.5 ish cups of raw milk, and 3 T of unrefined sugar.  (Once Simon is over a year, I'll use honey to make it...).  After combining all the ingredients in the blender, I turned it to the ice crush mode for about 5 minutes.

I learned something very important.

You should put the milk in the blender first.  Not the frozen fruit.  I was shutting it off and stirring it pretty frequently.

I did it right on the second batch.  That I made just a few minutes after the first batch.  The first got devoured that quickly! It was more of a sorbet texture, but whatever you want to call it, it was tasty.

I'm looking forward to experimenting with other frozen fruits.  In fact, I cubed up a watermelon yesterday, and threw about four cups in the freezer.  We'll give that a try today.  Except I think I'll teach Jayme or Jeffrey how to make it.  It's a great treat for kids to prepare!

Simon definitely approved!

 Have you ever made ice cream in your blender or food processor?  I'd love to hear ideas for other combinations!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Five Things That Simplify Life

I've been actively decluttering the house again.  Seems like we always have too much stuff.  I'm learning that more stuff equals more cleaning.  More stuff equals more stress.  More stress is just bad.  So some of the stuff has to go.

But, as I'm analyzing objects in our house to decide if they are worth keeping, I've also found some things that really are useful. Objects that I never really thought about before now.  And I started pondering the usefulness of these things and how they simplify life around here.

 Yes.  Random thoughts like that truly do just pop into my head.  What can I say...But enough about my randomness and back to five random objects from my house.

These items may not seem like much, but they do help simplify my life.  With a busy family, a growing farm and life in general, simple is good!

A word of warning.  These things may not simplify your life.  Thus, don't go out and buy one of each thinking that these five items will solve all your problems.  They certainly haven't solved all of mine.  And they might not even be useful in a different season of life. But they are useful to me right now. How's that for a rather random disclaimer?  :)

 With that rather wordy (and apparently random) introduction out of the way, let's get to the heart of the matter.

Five Things That Simplify My Life

1. Our toilet seat

Okay.  I know what you're thinking.  How in the world can a toilet seat simplify life?  Just hear me out.  I was skeptical too.  In fact, we recieved this as a gift from Bryan's older brother for Christmas several years ago.  And it sat in the box for a long time.  I wasn't really seeing the use for it back then. 

 But now that we've been using it through two potty training kids (with a couple more to go...), I'm sold.

 This toilet seat is different.  See that fancy insert that my hand is holding? That snaps down and provides a training seat for the kids.  That way they can't fall into the toilet.  (Important stuff!)  You know what is so awesome about this seat?  It allowed us to get rid of the small potty chair we used to have.  Those are horrible to clean and take up space that my small bathroom just doesn't have. 

Another bonus?  Because my kids are learning on a normal sized potty (except for the smaller hole), they aren't scared of sitting on potties in stores or at other houses.  Yeah!   

2.  Our Apple TV

We now have converted our DVD collection to iTunes and have placed all the DVDs in the basement.  Do you know how often Owen and Sydeny or Simon would empty out our DVD cupboard before?  And then Owen would rip and eat the inserts.  And we'd have a crazy big mess in just a couple of minutes.  Not to mention the scratches.  Now?  Just a simple little box sitting on top of our DVD player. No messes.  That's pretty awesome!
 3.  The crockpot. 

Right now it has beef broth simmering away.  It's also useful for making casseroles, soups, mashed potatoes, taco filling, and about a million other tasty things. doesn't heat the house up to use.  That's great news for summer in this house with no AC!

That, my friends, is a very useful object!  One that I won't be parting with anytime soon.  Though I might add another to my collection.  Then I could make mashed potatoes in one and cook a chicken in the other.  Hmmm...I might be onto something there!

 4.  Our Dog Crate

Yup.  We crate trained Cinders.  He sleeps here.  He hangs out here.  He can't destroy the house from here.  All good, stress reducing things for puppy owners!  It also makes a nice place to store boxes of diapers on top. 

Just be sure a loose diaper doesn't end up so it can be pulled into the crate.  Otherwise you might come home to a mess.  But at least that mess is contained inside a crate!  (Not that I'm speaking from torn up diaper experience or anything... :) )
And last, but certainly not least.

5.  Our shoe rack.

You have no idea how much of a hassle shoes have been.  Ideally, we'd all keep our shoes in our bedroom and there wouldn't ever be a shoe mess in the living area.  Except...when you have to run outside to do anything.  Going upstairs and finding the shoes you want just isn't really feasible. And I'm really not good at then putting those shoes back away as soon as I come back in. 

When we had a smaller family and had first moved in here, we just left our shoes on the hearth around the stove.  It worked really well.  Until our family grew.  And so did our shoe collection. We had shoes all the way around the stove.  Which worked in the summer.  But trying to start a fire with shoes all the way around just wasn't very practical.

So we got a tub.  One of those large Rubbermaid tubs.  And we shoved all our shoes in it.  Ever try digging through a tub of shoes while you're in a hurry to leave, trying to find the mate?  That's not fun.  So the tub didn't last very long. 

I can't remember all the other things we tried.  I know we lined them up on the wall under our coat rack at one time. But the kids really enjoyed scattering them a little too much.  And when we got our pup, the crate needed to go there.  What to do?  What to do? 

Then I saw this at Wal-Mart.  And it was like a light-bulb going off!  It's worked beautifully for about a year now.  Boots on top.  Shoes in the slots.  If the shoe rack is full--take some of your shoes and put them upstairs.  Your entire collection does NOT need to be in the living room.  Brilliant! 

See--shoes matched up and put away.  No frantic searching.  No stepping over shoes.  No more huge mess.  Just shoes--simplified!

From the bathroom to the kitchen and everywhere in between, there are definitely random objects in life that can make things simpler.  What things do you rely on to ease the stress in your life? 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Grouse Creek Growth Update: Gardens, Trees and More!

Well, the garden is mainly in. Now we just have to water, weed and see if my thumb is turning green yet!

The kids helped me finish fencing it, and Bryan rehung the gate. Now the chickens and deer can't help themselves to our produce. 

Thanks to my mom, many of our veggies went in as started plants instead of seeds. It's nice to know for sure that those aren't weeds. Last time I tried a garden, I think I plucked out several dozen good plants in my over zealous weeding. I think I've learned a thing or two since then...hopefully! 

Since this is the location of our previous chicken coop, the soil should be pretty good. It's loaded with creepy crawlies which I know is a good sign. We will throw some cow manure/straw into it at the end of the season and it should be even better next year. 

You can see the nice dark soil in this picture. It's pretty good! 

In addition to the garden, we have containers of lettuce, cherry tomatoes and green onion sitting on our porch. Those require a bit of shooing the birds away, but it's so nice to have salad fixings close. 

Other things are growing here at the farm as well. The cherry tree is looking amazing this year. Last year a huge wind storm blew most of the blossoms off and it never really recovered. I'm thankful to see the green cherries and realize I will be able to put some pie filling up for winter! 

The plum trees are also loaded. I hope to dry more plums this year. Those were a delicious treat in February this year, andI want  to have more. The trick is in not eating them all right away...they taste so good!

Our service berries are just about ripe. Looking forward to more jam! 

You know what I love about the fruit trees? I don't have to do a thing to them and they keep producing each year. No weeding. no watering (well the sprinkler might occasionally hit them, but its not methodical...) So much easier than a garden! 

That's a great thing about eating weeds too. The dandelions, plantain and cattails keep coming back and are prolific! Now I just need to get better at using all of the great food The Lord has provided. We did try sautéed cattails the other day. I will be making them again. 

Our barley hay is looking decent. The rain last week was a definite blessing. I'm so thankful that we have hand lines though. Being able to irrigate has made a big difference in crop quality. 

Lets see. A growing update wouldn't be complete without our growing animals. The chickens have three weeks left to get fat. 

They are getting there! We like to see at least five pounds after butchering, and I think we are on track. 

The pigs are also packing on the pounds thanks in part to the rich milk they get each day. I thought a cougar was going to take off with them the other night, but I think Cinders scared it off with his barking. Or maybe it was Bryan with the gun...

One of the downsides to raising animals and living in the country are the predators. But praise the Lord--all three pigs are still around! 

So we should have plenty of food to put away for winter for both us and the cows. Even if my garden doesn't grow like I hope it will.  That's a pretty good situation to be in!  We are definitely blessed! 

How is your garden growing this year? 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Weekly Picture Round Up

It seems like only last Saturday it was 10 something at night and I was in bed realizing that after our wonderful drive that day, I completely forgot about getting my weekly pic round up done. 

I almost thought today was going to be a repeat.  We went down to my dad's and enjoyed a good visit while Bryan helped with some car maintenance.  (Having a hubby who used to manage a Jiffy Lube comes in handy!) 

But, we made it home and got everyone to bed, and I thought I'd type this up really quick.

So without further ado, here you go.  A week's worth of memories from Grouse Creek.

Missing a pic for Sunday, so we'll begin with Monday.  Another hidden nest.  This time in a bed of stinging nettles.  Thank goodness for gloves that protect.  18 eggs--all of them good!  Made a double batch of lemon pudding for snack this day, and we all ate up!

Tuesday, June 17

I spent most of Monday sick, and Sydney came down with it as well.  She wanted a bed on the living room floor, and she slept.  Isn't she a cutie?  Now we just have to work on breaking that thumb habit...
 No picture on Wednesday either--I was on a roll this week!  For forgetting that is!

Thursday, June 19

The day we moved the Legos downstairs.  Here's a shot from the bottom step.  You can see both play areas and our storage for them. 
 Friday, June 20

My parents bought a tent at a yard sale a couple years ago.  It's been in their shop ever since.  I decided today was the day we'd set it up for our Friday adventure.  It was certainly an adventure. 

I've NEVER set up a tent before.  This one didn't have directions.  I had no idea, so after Jayme and I messed around with it a  bit, I called my sister Mindy (who enjoys camping with her husband) to ask for advice.  I said something along the lines of...

How do I know what shape tent this is supposed to be, and how would you go about setting it up if you didn't know what you were doing and you had no directions?  My wonderful sister was very patient and had me send her some pictures.  She got us going in the right direction and offered to help when they come next month to butcher chickens if we didn't have it by then.

But we did!  My mom came over, and was a trooper at helping.  We tried a few methods until we finally stumbled upon something that worked. It's crooked, and we won't be sleeping in it until Bryan goes over it and helps me make sure everything is tight.  But, it is a tent and the kids are loving it.  We'll just leave it set up for a bit. 

This pic was snapped during our three hour trial and error to set it up.  Sydney was playing with Simon.  And trying to keep him from crawling under the tent.  He loved that!

 Saturday, June 21

Firewood day!  Bryan took this awesome picture after he decked some logs.  Don't the kids look great?  From front to back...

Simon, Sydney, Ellie, Jeffrey, Owen and Jayme.  I love them all so much! 

Good night everyone! Have a wonderful rest of your weekend!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Legos, Computers and Toys...Oh My!

Do you have any areas of your house that just don't work anymore?  Maybe a space where you avoid because it is so disconnected, so cluttered, or just not functional. 

We sure do.  But now...we have two fewer of those spaces, and I'm excited!

Did you know that playrooms and offices really shouldn't be in the same room?  You think I would have figured this out a few months ago when Sydney was supposed to be playing and I found her standing on Dad's desk trying out all of his highlighters. 

Or the time she emptied the contents of some files on the floor.

Or had the water for her toy kitchen gracefully posed above the computer to pour into the cup she had balanced on the tower.  

Yeah--episodes like those truly should have clued me into the fact that two year olds and unsupervised play time in the office don't go well. But it took a while.  Call me a slow learner.


Another space that was driving me batty was the girls' closet area.  I know what most of you think of when you hear the word closet.  I assure you that the typical enclosed area with a door is NOT what I'm describing.  Our house is over 100 years old.  These closets are like mini-room with slanted ceilings and are quite large.  But not very functional if you are taller than a ten year old.

When we first moved the girls up there, we decided it was the perfect space for Jayme to play with Legos.  After all, she was the only one using them.  And she fit quite nicely in there.

Fast forward a few years, and Jeffrey and Ellie want to build too.  And Jayme grew up a foot or so.  And no longer comfortably fits in her closet. 

So she brings the Legos out into the main room to play.  And her creations get scattered by her sisters.  And pieces get left out.  And stepped on. (Ouch!)

And now they've reacquainted themselves with our old tub of K'Nex.  So there are K'Nex and Legos for me to dodge each day.  Cleaning their room was a daily struggle for them.  It was taking forever.  


Are you seeing my ah-ha moment yet?  It hit me this morning!  Bryan and I had been talking about the playroom disaster last night, and really wanting to declutter the house.

The kids and I took action today.

We moved the toy kitchen and accessories upstairs to the closet.  Sydney and Ellie both fit comfortably in there and can play independently with no computers to fry.  We got rid of broken and not played with toys from the rest of the playroom, and toys went back into bedrooms. 

The Legos and K'Nex got moved downstairs, along with a couple of small tables for building on.  We brought a bookshelf and the building pieces are now housed neatly in containers instead of on the floor of the upstairs closet.  One of those place for everything kind of moments for us.

The Lego/K'Nex storage area and one play table.
The kids who are old enough to play with Legos know better than to mess with the office stuff.  And they fit a lot better in the larger area. 

Sydney is being trained currently to leave this room alone unless she has been invited in by an older sibling or parent--who will be supervising her.  We do have blocks and Lincoln Logs in there as well, as I want to encourage siblings to play together.  But she can't be in here by herself anymore.   

The other play table, and the blocks and Lincoln Log storage.

Clean-up this afternoon was so much easier!  No cramming into small closets.  No water by a computer. 

And Ellie was excited to unpack her kitchen area during quiet time. 

We'll tackle the rest of the girls' room tomorrow, and another drive me batty area will be taken care of.

How exciting!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Exploring Our Area

I'm married to a man who loves to explore. To set off on a drive with some snacks and a camera and see what we can find.  It's a blessing to be able to be by his side and explore as a family. The experience really is more important than the destination.

We are blessed to have the beautiful Columbia River rolling through our county. This past Saturday, we did something new. We rode on the ferry across the water. 

The Columbian Princess is the ferry we took. 

Everyone was excited about the opportunity, and we were thrilled by the price: free! 

Here's what the kids looked like, as we waited for the ferry to pull out. Owen was fascinated by the water!

After we drove off the ferry, we headed off on an adventure. Along the way, we stopped at some historical sites. Bryan got a great picture of all the kids. They are sitting on a bench created from a piece of the dam that used to be at this site. 

We were able to walk into the bathhouse,  the building you can barely see behind them. It was so neat to see how they had constructed this structure with a broad axe and logs. 

As we left this place behind, we began our long journey home. We wound through beautiful mountins and worked our way home from Kettle Falls and Colville--a direction we hardly ever travel. 

It's amazing how many adventures are hiding just a few hours from home. We have many historical landmarks, scenic loops and more.

I'd encourage you to explore your area and see what you can see. I would love to hear about your explorations! 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Owen's Favorite Apps

Owen loves his iPad.  It's been a wonderful investment for him.  He's learning how to navigate the different buttons, how to distinguish between icons, and how to isolate his touch.  The apps we selected for him also expose him to a variety of academic skills.

Exposure is what we desire for Owen.  We aren't entirely sure what he is learning and what he's not, as he can't tell us or show us very well.  But we want to make sure he has the opportunity to learn what the other kids are learning.  We want to expose him to the academics. By picking games that he can play with his siblings (and then practice independently), we help to meet that goal. 

So what does he like to play? 
Starfall ABCs now an App!
Here are five apps that are Owen approved.

1.Starfall ABC
We enjoy the Starfall website for early learning, and were delighted to discover that they have several inexpensive apps.  The ABC app is a favorite. You click on a letter and work through different activities based on that letter and sound.

2. Toca Band

Toca Boca games are delightful.  They have fun characters and are very interactive.  Owen's favorite of the series it their musical one.  There are several characters you can pick and choose from to make a band.  Each makes a different beat. By combining them, you can create some interesting music.  He plays on this one for long periods of time. 

3. Counting Bear

The apps from Grasshopper Apps are highly recommended by our family.  They are all completely customizable, and the parent can change the features to make it at just the right level.   I can decide the min and max number, if objects need to be touched in order to count, or program my own sounds in. 

Basically in this app, a single object appears first.  You touch it and it counts 1.  Then two objects appear (different from the first) and you touch both of them. It says, 1, 2.  And so on.  Very good for one-one correspondence and also vocabulary building when Owen plays with others.  (Let's touch the horses Owen.  How many horses are there?)


Another musical app!This time a freebie.  Owen loves the tunes on this one.  There are five different games that you can cycle through, and you can touch just about everything, which is perfect for teaching interaction and finger isolation.  There are opportunities to match picture cards, put legos together into simple creations, and make a car speed up and slow down.  Colors change, weather changes, there is so much to talk about with this app!


Another Grasshopper App finishes out this list.  This one can be single or double player.  It starts off with just a couple of pictures, and gives a word for the picture you need to touch.  (There might be a zebra and a pear, and it says, pear.) Building vocabulary is really important, and this is a fun way to do it.  I like that it has both one and two player modes.  It's a fun one to have Jeffrey or Ellie play with Owen, and then he can practice later on his own. 

Are there any apps your kids really enjoy?  Or do you have any recommendations for other musical type apps?  Owen loves those, and I like to surprise him with new games. 

Note:  All pics from this post are taken from iTunes. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Homemade Velveeta with Real Food

I'll admit it.  I think Velveeta cheese is delicious!  It melts so creamily.  It turns mac and cheese into a creamy wonderland.  And don't even get me started on grilled cheese sandwiches made with it. 

But...I can't bring myself to actually buy Velveeta.  It's not even real cheese after all.  So I just decided to enjoy cheddar in mac and cheese and on those toasty sandwiches.  Good.  But not the same.

For some reason, I was really missing the gooey factor in the mac and cheese this weekend.  And I decided to try and figure out if it could be replicated in the home kitchen.  A quick bit of time on Google left me with the answer. 


Easily actually.  I was surprised. 

So grab a few ingredients from your cupboard and fridge, and make some Velveeta with me.

You'll need:

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 T water
12 oz (or so--I didn't actually measure, but tried to shoot for about a cup...) of grated cheese (I used cheddar because it's what I had.  Colby is traditionally used, and next time I'll be making my own soft cheese to try...)
1/2 cup evaporated milk (which is made by reducing milk over low heat until it's at 40% of the original.  It took about an hour and a half starting at just over a cup to reduce to 1/2 cup.  You can also use the canned variety.  I just don't keep that stocked.)


Soften the gelatin in a small bowl with the water.  I let it sit for 5 minutes or so.

Bring the evaporated milk to a boil.  Add the gelatin.  Stir well.

Dump in the cheese.

Stir well and remove from heat.

Use an immersion blender to get it nice and smooth.

Pour into a small loaf pan that has been lined with plastic wrap.

Put in the fridge to cool for at least 3 hours.

I found this recipe from here.
Afterwards, I found this recipe, which just calls for real milk instead of evaporated.  I'll use it next time!

What did I do with our block of creamy goodness? 

We had a few bites with crackers.  And I diced the rest up and threw it in our Sunday mac and cheese.  It was great!

Have you ever made Velveeta? 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

First Weekly Pic Round Up of June

I told you last week was busy.  See how Simon ended up at our potluck after church Sunday morning?

Yup.  He really did fall asleep in the high chair.  It was so cute! Thanks to Bryan for taking the pic!
Monday, June 2

My parents got Owen a cute swimming pool with a slide for his birthday.  We enjoyed a long, relaxing play time on Monday.  Owen didn't quite make the picture.  But he was playing in the hose, trying to spray anyone who dared take it away from him to fill the pool more.  Water fights are pretty serious business around here! 

Tuesday, June 3

Garden work day.  The space is now Simon tasted and approved.  Of course, I didn't have my phone out to capture the cuteness.  But thankfully Steve, my step-dad, was on hand and took care of that for me.  Thanks!

Now we just need to pull the rest of the sod (which may or may not get done this year) and finish a small section of fence.  I'm hoping to plant some things Monday.  As a huge blessing, my Mom started many things for us in her greenhouse, and picked me up a few plants this weekend.  Thanks Mom!

Wednesday, June 4

The day we had the nearby fire.  This offers a different angle view of it.  I really prefer the pictures my flip phone takes compared to the old iPod.  Too bad they're such a hassle to upload (have to text them to Bryan first, and then save them to the camera roll to access them on the computer.) 

Okay.  Maybe that's not actually too hard.  I'm just a whiner!  I should do it more often to capture better quality shots!
Thursday, June 5

One of the hard parts about living on a gravel/dirt road is biking.  It's a lot harder to get the hang of it.  Jeffrey and Jayme whiz down the road like mad, but Ellie hasn't quite mastered the moves yet. It's much easier for me to keep up with her while walking!  We enjoyed a stroll to the log bridge this evening before dinner. 

Friday, June 6

I really thought I took a picture today.  I did in my mind at least!  So here you can imagine a picture of a happy Rusty Redbull and three cow ladies in a field.  Since it's June, we released him into the fields early this week, and it's been neat watching them all interact.  He's not as picky about the grass he eats, which I'm enjoying.  He's tackling some of the weed patches the ladies left.  Get fat Rusty...get fat!  And theoretically in 9.5-10 months we'll have three new calves running around....

Saturday, June 7

 Simon LOVES the vacuum.  He thinks it's so fun to play with.  Except he always pulls it over and hits his leg or his arm or something with it.  So he fusses a bit.  Once we cuddle and put him back down, he heads right back to the vacuum.  Silly boy!

Have a wonderful Sunday!  I'll let you know next week how the garden is coming!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Wildfire Prep

Looking out past the milk barn and seeing smoke billowing on the mountain is concerning.  Watching five Department of Natural Resource trucks and a water tender from the local fire district speeding by the road adds to the concern.

You can see the smoke coming up on the mountain between the silo and barn.
This is the scene that unfolded right before quiet time on Wednesday.  It provided a great teaching moment on wildfires.  And on being prepared.

Thankfully, after calling my husband and having him get information from his mom who works at DNR, we decided it wasn't an immediate threat to us.  The fire was on adjacent land, but it was being contained and held by logging roads, which separated our land.

But, a little more wind, a little more flame, and the situation could have been different.  When you live in the woods, you know that wildfires are a distinct possibility.  And you develop a plan.  And build a green zone around your house.

Here are some of the items on our plan, just in case we ever have to evacuate.

1. Kids--obviously the biggest concern.  Everything else is replaceable.
2. Dog--put his crate in the back of the car.  He won't like it, but he'd be safe.
3. Our emergency bag.  Has clothes and pajamas for everyone, and a couple days worth of meds for Owen.  I need to update this bag for the current season, and get it ready to go. We did a quick pack on Wednesday just in case, but it needs some more thought.  I also need to get some snacks.  Hungry kids are grumpy kids!
4. Desktop tower and laptops.  Lots of important data.  And pictures.  Our really important actual documents are protected in a fire safe.  But our digital files aren't as fire protected. Living out here, we don't have unlimited internet, so backing everything up online isn't yet a viable option for us. 
5. Free the pigs and open the pasture gate for the cows.  Trust them to use their instincts and find safety.  Since our chickens are still free ranging right now, they'd be safe on their own.  If they were enclosed, they'd be added to our free list.

Obviously, letting the animals go is something we don't just want to do nilly-willy.  Getting them back would be hard if it turned out to be a false alarm.  But, I'd rather free them than have htem burn.

Thankfully in all the years we've lived here (and when I lived across the road as a child), we've never had to evacuate for a fire.  That means I've never had to make that decision.

We trust the Lord to protect us, and know that if the time comes that it happens, He will guide us and that everything that happens is in His perfect plan.  Thus, we don't fret too much about fire.  We have a plan, get prepared, and then don't worry.

During Wednesday's fire, I was blessed to be able to ride up and check it out with my mom and some of the kids.  I was able to snap this picture through the front windshield.  You can see that we have a great crew of people (many of them volunteers!) battling the blaze.  I'm very thankful for these men and women!

We learned later that a lightning storm Tuesday night started the fire.  It burned 5-6 acres of land.

What else should we do for wildfire preparation? 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Between the Rivers 2014

You've probably wondering why in the world I keep referring to this event called Between the Rivers.  And wondering what it is.

Between the Rivers is a gathering put on by a non-profit organization called Bridges to the Past.  This organization is "...dedicated to education and preservation of our shared human history through the skills of our ancestors." Pretty neat! 

The gathering allows people to gather for a few days and learn some of those skills.  Classes were offered this year in bow making, flintknapping, fire starting, herbal medicine, felting, bread and cheese making, and many primal topics.  Instructors from all around the US came to stay and share their knowledge.  

My kids are mainly too young to really enjoy the classes yet, though Jayme selected some to take, and spent most of the week down at the creek learning.  The rest of us stayed home and ventured down at different times of day to enjoy.  My parents helped wheel Owen around and supervise some activities for my little ones.  Jeffrey particularly enjoyed the blacksmith forge.  

As our children get older, we'll be able to all participate more, which will be fun.  

Jeffery's S hook
If you're interested in learning more about this gathering, check out their website.  Perhaps you'll even decide to register for the 2015 gathering. 

Having lots of campers invade the property for a week is definitely different.  Seeing a group of people decide to open your pasture gate and walk through it instead of the road can be annoying.  Especially since the pasture didn't actually lead to the gathering space!

But for the most part, we really enjoyed their presence again this year, and people were really respectful of the land.  Which we appreciate! And I love that it helps my kids learn to interact with people of all ages and backgrounds.  That is true socialization!

Are there any primal skills that you enjoy?