Monday, March 29, 2010

Decisions decisions...whats your opinion???

I am getting a horse!  I am getting a horse!  I haven't had a horse of my own to ride since I was 15!!  Before that I was a very serious competitor in our local hunter/jumper circut.  I ate, slept, lived and breathed riding.  A series of events took me from it though.  One of which was being sent to bording school where they didn't let you off of the property let alone have horses.  But that in it of it self is a whole other topic.  So I love, love, love to ride english hunter/jumper.  That is where my passion for horses was develouped into full blown obsession :).  I do enjoy a relaxing ride in an western saddle but it just does not pose the same physical challange that I so enjoy.  That being said, I am a mother of 3 now.  With LOTS of responsibilities.  I could't afford to break an arm or a leg falling off of  a green horse and I don't seem to bounce the way I did when I was a kid.  So I want a fairly well broke horse.

I have 3 little girls who love animals and my 6 year old LOVES horses and riding.  I am assuming at least 2 if not all 3 of my girls will love horses as I do.  As they are so young they need a VERY well broke horse to make mommy feel comfortable.  I do have the miniatures but after about 6/7 the kids have out grown them.

Here is my question: Do I go out and purchase my dream horse, finally doing one thing that may be a tad bit selfish on my part, so that I can fullfill this dream of mine??  Or do I make a comprimise for my families sake and get a horse that the entire family can enjoy and that my daughter could use in 4-H?

I want to start looking for my horse but I have put it off because of this one question.  I guess I don't know where to start looking.  So let me have your advice.  What would you do in this situation?


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Next step on my journey to getting a horse.

Step one was get get all the projects that were more pressing done first.  Which were many.  They all took money and energy.  We try to do as much as we can ourselves.  Which usually takes less money but more time. Both resouces of which are in short supply around here.  So all in all this step has taken from the time we moved in, to now.  About 5 1/2 years.  Ahhh patience is a virtue, one I often don't emulate but in this matter I think I showed a great deal of patience if I do say so myself.

Then during the winter my husband built a stall.  Now if you know anything about me or my farm you may wonder why I say I don't have a horse.  Since I clearly have 3 "horses" right now.  These are miniatures and one is a yearling halflinger, also a small horse.  So my fencing and stall space has been sufficient for these "horses".  When I say horse I mean one I can get on and ride for pleasure without my feet dragging on the ground and the poor animal grunting.  So the stall my hubby built was a big stall.  One suitable for a full sized horse!

The next step is to put in a fence.  We are so close.  We have the money and we are on the scheduele for the fence company.  The trick is this is an amish business.  If you don't know much about amish you may have an ideal in your head of friendly hardworking folk that ride around in cute little buggies and are generally good people.  Now I am not saying they are bad people I am just saying that the ideal may be a bit nicer than the reality.  For one, they are not real fond of the "English" as they call us.  They don't always deal honestly and they are shrewed business people.  Though they do work for less, alot of times, since they do not have the overhead or debt and bills that most American businesses have.  So I do choose to do business with them and do not discourage people to give them business.  I am mearly saying do it with caution.  They also do not run on regular time!  They do things when they want and don't really care if you don't like it.  All that to say I am hoping that my fence gets put in during the month of April.  Now they said last of March first of April but after speaking with Jacob Stoltzfus today he said probably not until the second week of April.  Wishful thinking makes me want to believe that it will get done soon but reality is I may not see the fence for a few weeks.  Can you tell my 5 1/2 year patience has finally run out?!  I WANT MY HORSE!!  That may have sounded a bit like a 2 year old temper tantrum, well, because it kind of is ;).  Ok ok I will stay calm but I am so excited about the whole thing I could jump out of my skin.

 The next picture you see of my back yard there should be a beautiful new 4 board fence across it!!!  And I will be laying in my hammock looking into the new pature and gazing at my horse!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

No pictures just a rant :)

After commenting on a post by Handmade Homeschool I realized how good it felt to get out all these frustrating feelings that I have been overwhelmed with these past few weeks.  I can't say I can pin point any specific thing that has put me in this rut.  All I know is I am in it and am having a hard time finding my way out.  There is really nothing wrong but it feels like nothing is quite right either.  I am just bombarded with resposibilities right now.  A to do list a mile long.   I am doing a hundred things at once and not doing any of them well.  10 people wanting something from me and I really don't feel like doing any of them.  I just want to stay home and do school with my girls.  Sit read them books and learn together. But it seems that school is the one thing that is not getting done.  That itself I am not real concerned with because I have no intention of stopping school over the summer so we will have plenty of time to do the neccessary work.  But I still want to be doing it.

I guess I don't see an end in sight.  I expected this feeling to hit more in the winter months and not when the temperatures have been in the 60's and sunny.  That itself is usually all the motivation I need.  It is this list.  You know the mile long one I mentioned earlier. 

Clean out stalls(and they are very bad. Because I couldn't get the barn door open to clean them out for over a month since it was frozen shut)
get into a milking scheduele
all these little babies animals depending on me to make sure they are fed and warm
spring cleaning
starting seeds
tending to my seedlings
planting in the garden
cut down trees
rent a stump grinder
find someone to till and plant the pasture
the moms group I am in charge of and all that entails

And that is not to mention the regular chores of taking care of all the animals, cooking, shopping, bills, kids and school.  This alone is a full time job.  All the rest is...well...overwhelming.

I am by no means trying to complain.  I love my life and wouldn't change it for the world.  This is just a season and yes it shall pass.  I am just hoping it passes quickly and smoothly and a bit easier on my nerves.

We have babies!!

I haven't posted a blog update because my computer was not reading my camera card.  Which means I couldn't post pictures and what is a blog enty without pictures?

Sunday afternoon I noticed Flower (our pygmy goat) seemed to be showing signs of labor.  I watched her for a while and when not much was happening I went inside.  A few hours later I returned to find flower had delivered and her baby was dead in her pen.  Ugh my heart was broken.  It was a good sized baby.  I was so frustrated that I wasn't out there and maybe could had prevented the death.  It was heart breaking.  More frustrating because I have no idea why it happened.  I don't know if it was still born.  If she struggled to deliver and it died during delivery or if she maybe didn't clean it off fast enough this being her first baby.  These questions huant me. 

I then got my husband to dispose of the baby.  I stayed out in the barn to watch Flower for a while to make sure she was doing ok.  Besides heart broken that her baby was gone she seemed to be fine.  As I was sitting there I noticed Bubbles acting very strange.  Pawing at the ground.  Are you kidding me both are going to deliver on the same night!!?  Sure enough not much longer and Bubbles starts pushing.  Out comes #1 quickly after #2 and #3.  She had triplets again. 
                                                            Moments after delivery. 
Just taking a break after a long trip.

Amazing how within moments they are searching for food.

Besideds a little help clearing the sack from their faces I let her do her job and what a great job she does.  Then it occured to me to see how things would go if I put Flower in there to help clean and nurse them.  So I did.  They all got along great.  It helped fill that loss for Flower and gave a busy mama some help.  I sat up until about 3am making sure everyone was warm and dry for the night.  Since it did happen to be the coldest nastiest night we have had in weeks.  She delivered one male and two females.

Flower reaching in to help out.

The next morning I noticed that Bubbles had returned to her normal self and did not like having Flower in her pen.  So I took her out and pulled out one of the babies that seemed to be attatched to her and gave it to Flower to mother.  They got along so wonderfully and Flower could not be happier to have a baby.  So a happy ending to a sad start.  

Flowers and her little adopted baby.
They are starting to dry up a bit

Now what to do, what to do?  I have already had a phone call from someone wanting two of them as soon as they are ready.  They are coming out today to look at them.  I think it may just be their new adorablness but I can't even think about selling them yet.  Though I know things will change when I am paying to feed 5 goats.  So I know I need to get rid of atleast two but I am not able to part with them mentally yet.

Everyone dried off and snuggled in for the night.

Just wanted to share the birth story.  I hope you enjoy the pictures of the fluffy little babies.
Here they are the next morning all fluffy and playful.
If you haven't seen a pygmy baby.  Especially ones that are tiplets than you can't understand how tiny they really are.  They are smaller than my cat.
And oh so adorable.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A lesson in prayer.

Listening to my little Macy (5) pray is a joy to my heart.  Her eagerness to talk to God is inspiring.  I guess that is why God says suffer not the little children to come to me.  They are so honest and so pure and full of faith that they can talk to God in a way I often forget to.  She has a wonderful way with words and it makes my heart so happy to hear her small little voice talk to a huge God with so much confidence.

Some of her prayers

" Dear Jesus thank you for my family.  Thank you that you gave everyone a family.  My Mommy is sad today please help her to feel better.  Please help us to be good so she can have a better day.  Please help my Nana to feel better and thank you for healing her so good.  Thank you for all of the different people that you made.  Thank you that you gave us pets." 

And they go on and on.  Everyday multiple times a day she prays these prayers.  It amazes me and encourages me.  What advantage at life this child will have to know how to come to the throne of The Most High and talk to Him?  Thank you God for this small person you have sent to my life.  She is a joy to her mother!

I know who I need to go to when I need an answer to prayer.  How could God say no to that sweet little voice :).

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The process of our maple syrup.

Here is the finished product.  Read on to see how we got it.

We started with the pot on the right full.  About 4 gallons of sap.  That all came from 1 tree in about 3 days.

After about 6 hours boiling outside on the grill burner it evaporated to about 2 cups. Then we brought it in to finish it off. You are not supposed to boil sap inside because of the crazy amount steam that comes off of it. If you start researching maple syrup making you find out all sorts of rules about the right and wrong ways to do it. The goal is to reduce the sap down until it reaches 7.5 degrees above YOUR boiling point. So the first step to that is finding out what your boiling point is. It can vary on elevation and even weather. Ours was 208.4 degrees. Everything I read said to use a candy thermometer. I tried that but opted to use my digital meat thermomter because it was easier to read and seemed more accurate. But I don't recommend that unless you own the t.v. infomercial Ove Glove made out of KEVLAR. It gets HOT!

Here it is toward the end stages. It starts out as clear as water and toward the end starts to take on the maple syrup auburn color. It's almost done! You definitly want to keep a very close eye on it at this stage because once the temp starts rising it is a matter of minutes. And you do not want to do all that work and end up over boiling it.
This is the finished product. About 1 3/4 cup 100% pure maple syrup. The ratio from sap to syrup ends up about 40 to 1. So 40 gallons of sap will end up about 1 gallon of syrup. Or 4 gallons of sap will end up about 375 milliters=1 1/2 cups.

The end result.


Friday, March 12, 2010

It's turkey time!!!

Yes yes they are adorable but remember don't get too attatched. 
Meet the 5 newest additions to our farm!  They don't have names yet but once we can start telling them apart better they will.  It is exciting to start turkey season again!  We love these animals!  They are so fun!  We love them even more on the dinner table at about 165 degrees and golden brown.  If you are not a farm person I am sure you now think I am just heartless.  But honestly if you eat meat they all start out like this.  Just because you didn't see it doesn't mean it didn't happen:)  I just prefer to know they lived a nice healthy life free ranging on my farm.  Rather than stuck in a pen with 500 other turkeys for the entirety of their life.  So enjoy these little guys along with us but remember don't get too attatched.  Even my 3 year old knows what will happen in about 5 months.  Macy 5 even told them today as she was petting them in her sweet little voice "hi baby turkeys we are gonna eat you when you get big".    HAHAHA!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

So so much going on around here

There is so much going on around here that I dare anyone to keep up.  Each of these thing could really take up an entire post of it's own but honestly I just do not have the energy mental or physical to do that.  So this is as good as it is gonna get. 

Last night I was up late worrying about my enormously pregnant goat.  She was panting.  Something she has never done.  I was affraid of an infection so I, with the help from my friend, took her temp.  Ha I will spare you the details on that one!  It was within normal range so that put my mind at ease.  I guess I will chalk it up to being so big and pregnant which leaves less room for lungs.  It wouldn't surprise me if we had twins or triplets by weeks end.

Right now I am boiling down our maple sap.  We got about 4 gallons from one tree.  We tapped two.  I don't know why but one of the trees didn't give anything.  This was such a cool experience and tomorrow morning we will have waffles with homemade butter and homemade maple syrup.  I think that is pretty cool.  I am thankful for this life I get to live and enjoy.

Also today I had about 7 women and lots of kids come over to have a seed share.  It went great!  We shared some seeds, food, some tips, and other good conversation. 

The mud has officially taken over and has caused some problems but also lots of fun for the kids!  The weather though, is WONDERFUL!!  We are down to our last little pile of snow in the yard.

I also did the first planting of the year!!!!  Well outdoors.  I have already started seeds indoors but I am getting to utilize my cold frame and have planted; spinach, lettuce and swiss chard.  I was also wanting to plant sugar snap peas but I realized I bought a vining variety and I do not want to trelis them so I now need to go buy more seeds.

Tomorrow I host our monthly MOPS planning meeting.  Then off to pick up hay....why?  Because we are out again.  I love these animals but man, they eat alot!  Then a nap....hahaha...just seeing if you were paying attention.  There will be none of that.  Then we are having a local amish man come out to give us an estimate on fencing!

I have also had the joy of hosting my friend and her 2 kids this week.  It has been great to have them around to join in some of the fun around here!

Having a seed share today!

I am excited!  I think there should be a pretty good turnout.  I got the idea from another blog.  I will post the link to that blog when I post how it went.  I am just excited and wanted to share.  Have a great day!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Tapping for sap!

Ahhh this is a family experiment.  There are so many variables even when the pros do this that there is a good chance that we may all get about a tablespoon of syrup when it is all said and done :)  But that is not really the point of it all anyways the point is to experience life to the fullest and that is what we are trying to do!  I received my taps in the mail on Friday.  I called a local woman that I purchased syrup from last year and asked for some tips.  She was so sweet and helpful which is pretty common in the world of a farming community.  All you have to do is ask and they will sit you down and impart there years of wisdom at no charge. 

We explored all the options for how to collect the sap.  You can purchase special buckets or bags there are people that use milk jugs or coffee cans. After looking at them all we decided that we were going to try to put as little money into this as possible and came up with our own method.  So with two new 5 gallon buckets that we already had, some tubing and connectors we made or collecting system.  It is pretty cool if I do say so myself.  Well I can't really take design credit since Ryan really came up with the whole thing.  So here it is!

                                                       Assembling the collection system

Drilling for the tap.

Our little helper.

Look closely you can see it coming!!

Our tree which Elaina said looks like it is at the doctors.

Help from the peanut gallery!

Hurry up catch it it comes!!!

Next step: Wait!  Then starts the boiling!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

When your Mommy is your teacher.

When your Mommy is your teacher this may be the way you do your english lesson.

And this may be the way you do your math.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Making changes

Making changes has seemed to be my theme throughout 2009 and I plan to continue on the same path.  Most of my changes have revolved around slowing down our life, educating ourselves (in lots of areas), and what better than FOOD!  I have been on a journey to make sure my family enjoy the simple things in life and enjoy eating the good things in life.  Good as in wholesome, nonprocessed, natrual food.  You would probably be surprised aboout the kind of  things you are putting in your body with everyday items from the supermarket.  Not only are we eating  better but buying better.  Buying better as in buying local and knowing where our food comes from and what is put into it.

 Some of the changes I made over 2009 are;  I have started raising turkeys, growing a garden, canning and freezing ALOT from my garden, going to a local produce auction and purchasing the rest of the produce we ate and stored, making my own cheese and butter from raw milk, learning how to make my own bread, pasta, bagels, pitas, purchasing our eggs from a local farm/friend, researching GMO and organic qualifications, purchasing organic and heritage seeds for my garden this year. So I have made alot of good steps toward the ultimite goal which is feed my family better and support our local farmers.

Now one goal that I hope to move forward with this year are to raise more of our own meat and start buying more of our meat from a local organic grower.  As I was driving home from an appointment today I saw a sign for a meat/butcher so I decided to go check it out. It was a jackpot. Turns out he grows his own beef, buffalo, elk and pork.  All naturally with no hormones, antibiotics or preservatives. What a great find!  I bought hamburger, steaks, sausage and buffalo burger(well he threw that in for free so I could try it). His prices were GREAT too!  So all that to say I am making changes and some time changes can be hard other times they are just plain delicious!!

 Some other goals for this year are to store away more for the winter months, which in turn means a bigger garden, start milking our goats, plant fruit trees, not allow our land to be farmed using pestiside anymore(it is land we own and rent to farmers). These are the ones I have planned and I am sure that as the year goes by I will do what I can to add more to that list.

If you have any kind of desire to make any of these changes for you and your family alot of this may seem overwhelming but my best advice is even if it is something small it is a step in the right direction. Just take one step at a time and only take on what you can handle. Don’t get overwhelmed by trying to do it all “right now”. You will look back in a year with a list as long as mine or even longer!


Starting seeds

This will be my first year starting seeds of any kind for my garden.  I planted my broccoli yesterday and today I planted stevia(which I am so excited about BTW).  Soon to follow will be tomatos, artichokes, peppers and more! 
How exciting right? I mean it is just dirt.  But  if you are a gardener you can appreciate this.  Cause in a few short months this will be food on the table.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Have you ever eaten fresh homemade cheese curds?

If your answer to that question is "no" then you are truely missing out on one of lifes yummiest little treats!  These are garlic dill cheese curds.  Ha I dare you to try to just eat one.