Friday, December 31, 2010

From our farm to yours....

wishing you a happy happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!

Passed my goal so I made new one.

I just realized I have not updated on my weightloss in a while.  This being the end of the year and this is one of the biggest accoplishments I have done in my life not to mention this year. My goal was 30 for 30.  Meaning, my goal was during the year I turned 30 my goal was to loose 30 lbs.  I have not only acheived that goal but surpassed it and still going.  I NEVER thought I could do. Bad I know but I definitely had lost the confidence in myself to do it after the last 8 years of being overweight.  The weight gain started when I started having babies.  Baby 1 gained 10 lbs, #2 10 more and #3 10 more then over the next 4 years it slowly climbed climbed.  To 50 lbs over the weight I was when I got married.  Woah that is alot of cake!  About 2 years ago I participated in a biggest loser competition with some friends and did lose 25 lbs but once it was over I lost motivation to keep going.  I kept the weight off for a year and slowly gained about 10 back though I never got as high as I was to start, thank God!  This year I decided I was going to quit wishing to be thinner and go for it.  It all started when I fullfilled my dream of horse ownership and got interested in eventing and I remember the day my trainer says to me "If you want to do eventing you are going to have to loose some weight.  Eventers need to be in great condition."  That was all I needed.  A goal, something to work toward, and something for myself that I loved.  No better reason to start taking care of myself.  So July 14th I joined weight watchers and started my weight loss journey.  To date I have lost 35 lbs!!!  I said before my initial goal was 30lbs but once I started getting close I realized I could do it and made my goal 40lb.  Which will be the weight I was when I got married!!!  I didn't think I would ever happen and I feel so good.  Not just health wise, though I do feel great, but also mentally.  I have realized that I am worth taking care of and there is NO reason to feel guilty for putting myself higher on the prority list.   I have built confidence in myself that I had lost.  Now I know that if I can accomplish this then that just means I need to make a new goal in my life and just go for it!!!
                                                   The old me.  The week I started WW.


                                                                 The new ME!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Reflections on the last year.

I figured I had posted about my goals for the up coming year I should post how far we have come in the last year.  This is actually the Christmas letter I send out to friends and family along with our card.

2010 has turned out to be as adventurous if not more than 09'. One thing we don't do is lead a dull life. Our travels took us to visit with family. Which are our favorite kind of trips. Yes our kids are growing like weeds and we seem unable to convince them to stop. So here it is in a nutshell the Grayson 2010.

In attempts to find a way to add income to the home without sacrificing our homeschooling lifestyle we tried our hand at many things this year. Some were good but were more work than they were worth and a couple turned out to be successful. First was the local farmers market. I spent hours over the winter months teaching myself to make artisan breads and homemade pastas. We decided we love it, so why not try to sell it? So each Saturday and some Tuesdays we would take a stash to the market. It was a big hit. We consistently sold out every week and I guess you could call it successful, but the time and energy it took to make everything proved to be a bit much. Though we loved getting to meet all the people at the market and the kids had a great experience taking quarters to feed our pony and greeting people at our booth.

Then was “Farm Camp”. This endeavor was like the best of both worlds. I had 10 children from 8:30-11:30 for a week. We did all kinds of things from learning to milk, to making cheese, baking, riding horses, gardening and even a camp out on the farm. I wanted to give them a fair picture of the farm life though so they also got to do chores including feeding animals, cleaning stalls, hauling wood and weeding the garden. And what do you know the kids LOVED doing the chores. Parents were asking how I did it.

We also started doing “Pony Parties” . We will load up our little miniature horses, goats and even the bunny and bring them to your back yard for any event. We did parties and even a church VBS. This was one of our favorite adventures and we have decided to pursue more events in the future. There is nothing like giving a little kid their very first ride on a horse.

Then there was the pumpkin patch. It sounded like a good idea, really it did, but I don't see this anywhere in our near future. It had it's great parts and we are happy that we not only broke even on the costs but maybe made $20..haha. With only working 4 weekends split between the 5 of us we all made about $1 a weekend. No in all seriousness there were some really great times and the people who came absolutely loved it and well, now we know what we are good at!

Adding all of that and not to mention the fact that we doubled the size of our garden. This also being the first year we started all our plants from seed. Kept up with all of the canning. Raising 5 turkeys, homeschooling and of course the regular day to day of living on 15 acres. Among that, these other adventures the year took us on.

We got to witness birth on our farm for the first time. Triplets from one goat and a single baby from another, sadly though she lost that baby but she gladly became a surrogate Mama for one of the triplets. One thing we have had to learn to handle is the loss of animals. Though I'd like to think it gets easier with time but really is just as sad each time. Though the kids handle it so well and seem to understand it all even better than I sometimes. We had three bouncing, literally, baby goats. Two found great homes and one stayed on our farm.

We started our adventures in milking! I chose to milk one of our goats this year and boy was it a learning experience. With weeks of battles, with a goat that really didn't want to be milked and a woman who really didn't know what she was doing. We finally figured it out and actually started to enjoy it. Everyone LOVED the milk with the exception of Ryan who really never gave it a fair try. With with the excess of milk I tried my hand at cheese making and it is oh so yummy. Now Ryan didn't care for the milk but the cheese he loved. It was a great experience and we will continue to it do next year!

Another adventure we had was teaching ourselves how to make homemade maple syrup. We tapped 2 of our 9 maple trees. After collecting sap for about a week we ended up with about 5 gallons of sap. And after it was all said and done we enjoyed all of about 2 cups of delicious syrup. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup! We are planning to tap all 9 next year. It was a great family experience.

At butcher time we had 4 big healthy turkeys. We may not grow them out as long next year considering all 4 were between 30-35 lbs dressed!!! We have LOTS of turkey in the freezer! We ground over 30lbs and are surely enjoying it and the health benefits of using turkey instead of beef. We dined on one of those turkeys for Thanksgiving this year. The Grayson family came to share it with us again. We hope to make this a tradition because it is one of our favorite times of the year.

We took a vacation driving and stopping to camp on our way down to the gulf coast. Seeing some beautiful parts of our country along the way. One being Cumberland Falls, KY. The girls were amazed at the sight of the first waterfall they have ever seen. In Alabama we visited and caught up with Aunt Marilyn and Uncle Harry who took such good care of us it was hard to leave. Cousin Amanda and the girls made their way from WV to see us and we all had a great time. Along with many other friends and family we got to see this year made it so very special. Are you tired yet? Cause we sure are. The good news is that was the end of our adventures, for this year at least.

Kelcie, now 4 with the personality of a 30 year old. Loves to grow up way too fast and still protests when we call her our baby. She LOVES to do “school” and will sit for hours working on pages I give her to do. We hold her tight and ask her to pleeease stop growing and to no avail it seems. One of her favorite past times is to snuggle and she is oh so good at it.

Macy, 5 started kindergarten in our local school district this year. We do plan to bring her home in the first grade to start her homeschooling adventures. She LOVES school and looks forward to going everyday. The beginning of the year she was disappointed on Saturdays because there was no school. She is really looking forward to this being her first year to be able to ride horses in 4-H. I think I am successfully passing my love of all things equine on to my little girls. Ryan will surely sympathize with their future husbands.

Elaina, 7 oh the difference a year can make when you are 7 going on 8. She has blossomed into a lovely young lady. Not a little kid anymore and though we protested that fact we are quite proud of who she is becoming. If she is not out caring for the horses or riding horses, then she is pretending that she is a horse. She did get her very own horse this year. She named him Moonlight. Elaina and Amy have enjoyed many many hours out on the trails together. That time is surely cherished. Her schooling is going great though the beginning of the year we struggled to balance school with the pumpkin patch. She is on track now and there are days she is in working at her desk before I even wake up in the morning. A second grader willing doing their school work, it's a hard enough life but someone has to do it. Really though as her parents we are grateful for such a lovely child and we know she is a gem!

And just because I will throw in a little update on Ryan and I. What we have found is that with the children getting bigger we have a few more moments here and there to start to pursue our interests. This year with Ryan's support I have gotten to fulfill a life long dream of owning my very own thoroughbred jumping horse. It has been such a great experience and after living without horses in my life for the last 15 years I am grateful for every day I get to own these magnificent animals. And that is what has pretty much consumed every free minute (and dollar) I have and I am loving every moment. I have been able to start training for the sport of eventing:dressage, jumping and cross country combined into one sport. Steady Smiler came straight from the racetrack and actually had an impressive racing career winning over $350,000. It takes a tremendous amount of work to get a racehorse from track life to farm life. They honestly don't even understand how to graze in a field. In our efforts to succeed at the sport of eventing and becoming healthier and fit I have lost 35 lbs and still working toward better fitness. We competed in our first event mid-November and won in our division! I was on cloud nine for quiet some time after that and you couldn't wipe the smile off my face.

As for Ryan he is, in all of it, every step of the way, with each idea, project and dream I scheme up he is the backbone. Strong, steady and supportive, rarely thinking of his own wants. For him we are all grateful. Over the last 7 years his golf game has been, well, mostly non-existent. This year he has spent more time on a golf course than he has in probably the last 7 years combined. Which really isn't saying much but hopefully next year he will be able to spend even more time golfing. It is something he truly enjoys. We could not be more grateful for his job, the people he works for and the opportunities it presents him. Working in the healthcare industry he has found nothing moves quickly but over the past two years he has built relationships with customers and is growing his territory weekly. So much so that the company has rewarded him with a trip with 24 other sales people to Naples, FL. He is obviously looking forward to that coming in March.

It may sound that our lives are crazy which in many ways they are but the reality is we purposefully live a quiet and simple life. The most important thing to us is that all of our endeavors are done together as a family. Ryan, I and the girls together, loving our lives and working together to please our Savior with who we are and what we do is our ultimate goal in this life. Once again another year has past and we are thankful for those of you we were able to connect with again and those we didn't, we miss you and hope to soon. You are always welcome at our farm! We promise to feed you well, take good care of you and give you a feel of our hard working yet simple life!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Hopes for the up coming year.

The list is long and my sights are high and I know the year will bring more than I will be prepared for.  The the list of things I want to learn, do, see, accomplish.
Make a point of spending as much time as possible with my kids and make a plan to do so.  Spend more time reading the Bible because it has supernatural transforming power that I desperately need.  I am going to Sacremento, CA for a week to visit with a friend and horseback ride through the Sierra mountain range and camp at Lake Tahoe.  I can only imagine the things that my eyes will behold in that week and I anticipate it being a life changing experience.  I want to teach myself how to make lotion bars and I want to continue learning to make diffferent artisan breads.  So far I have Boule, focaccia and    down pat and absolutely love them.  And if I get really brave I may possibly attempt to make hard cheese, though quite honestly it scares me half to death.  Who knows why I am scared of cheese but it is the truth:).  I want to get more more fit and want to get my horse more fit in the process too.  I hope to go to lessons once a month and a show once a month.  Those are pretty high ambitions and I will be happy to make a few shows all season.  The lessons though are a must.  I plan to go to the eventing camp at Come Again Farms in July and I am already overwhelmed thinking about the work it will take to prepare, then all the work during the 4 day camp and 1 day show and all the information I am surely going to me inundated with.  But it is all so exciting.  We will surely add more to our garden this year and I am still going to do most of my seed starting and hope to be even more successful at that this year.  I started a few things in the cold frame last year and they were all very successful so i am going to try it a little earlier and plant a little more.  The garden is an amazing amount of work especially since I am the only one that does the work though each year I utilize the kids more and more but it provides so much satisfaction.  First of all knowing that there is no healthier food on the planet.  It is of course a way to save an great deal of money throughout the year on grocery shopping.  We eat from our freezer and pantry throughout the winter months and the homemade food cannot be matched from the store.  We will again purchase turkeys though I wll probably put my foot down and not do it until we have proper housing for them.  The amount of extra work it is for me because I am constantly moving them all over is not something I want to do again.  We are going to have to break out our nonexsistent engineering degree and come up with the perfect solution.  Some sort of turkey tractor would be ideal because free ranging is a must. Then going trail riding with Elaina and possibly Macy depending on how she does in 4-h.  The hours out on the trail with my daughters are something that will stay will them throughout their lives as it will mine. 

These are the ones on my heart today and as the year draws to an end I know my mind will be making more lists and goals as it does every year about this time.  I know some people find resolutions cliche and a waste and I cannot say I disagree.  I don't see this as a time for resolutions but a time of refocusing.  We all need to take time out in our lives to think about where we are and where we want to be.  If we have no goals then we will unintentionally spend too much time wandering aimlessly with no destination in mind.  For me it is usually just after Christmas and into the New Year that I refocus my heart and mind toward the ultimate destination that I want to be in my life.  The time I question my focus for the past years and get a picture of what kind of life I want.  I decide with a prayerful heart what steps I need to take to make that picture a reality.  Then I write down the steps. Then the only thing left to do is to take the first step!

My prayer for the new year.

There alot of goals I have for the new year.  Sometimes it is discouraging coming up with the list since I know in advance I will surely fail at meeting all of them.  Though I am not the one that is supposed to be improving myself.  My life it not one big self help book.  At least it is not supposed to be.  It should be a book about the faithfulness of the one and only true God.  I am who I am by the grace, mercy, love, patience, compassion, strength, power, longsuffering, birth, death and ressurection of my Saviour.  So why would I think I would be able to continue to be who I am without completely relying in Him.  My life is His and I pray He do with it what He will.  I only ask that You continue to love, protect and be close to me through all of it.  Help me to be the woman, wife, mother that You want me to be.  I pray my home will be a place where the Holy Spirit roams free working in our lives everyday.  If You do those few things I know that not only will my goals be met but You will surpass all I could ever ask or imagine.  These are the desires of my heart so please help me Lord.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Spreading the Christmas spirit.

After a friends post yesterday concerning how it is hard to see that Christmas is the best time of year if you spend any amount of time at a public place, especially at a store. I was reminded of this experience that happened to me on Dec. 23rd two years ago. At the time I wrote about it on my myspace account. I copied and pasted it here as a reminder to myself and others that if we slow down and watch moments like these may not happen every day but when they do they impact you for years to come. I still not only remember the day but that same emotion that overwhelmed me and changed me.

I was at the grocery store today. When I got to the check out my total was $56. I checked in my wallet and I only had $46 in my wallet. I then reached for my debit card and it wasn't there. Then I remember that I had given it to Ryan the other day and never got it back from him. I don't carry credit cards with me. At this point there was a man in line waiting behind me. Then another cashier came and he went in her line. (this is just a small grocery store and it is about 25 min from my house) So I offer to write a check and they say they can only take checks if you have a prefered card. So I ask if I can fill one out. They said sure but it will take a week to process so it won't help today. Then I procede to call Ryan to try and get my debit card number from him. He doesn't answer his phone. So I am standing there trying to figure out what I am going to do. All the stuff I got we needed and I really didn't want to have to go to the store again before tomorrow(Christmas eve). Then the guy that was in line behind me hands the cashier $10 dollars and says he will take care of it. I was a bit caught off gaurd and if I had had time to process I probably would have refused. I asked him if he was sure and he said yes. Then I asked for his number so I could pay him back and he said no don't worry about it it's only $10. Then he walked out the door. I was so floored that someone would do that I started crying. I mean during this time of year when people are busy, in a hurry, and down right rude especially if you are taking too much time in line at the store. This man helped me for no other reason than to be a nice person. It makes me want to be a better person. I mean would I have done the same thing or would I have rolled my eyes at the person for taking up my precious time. On the way home I prayed for that man and his family that God would give them an extra blessing this Christmas. Then I prayed He would give me an opportunity to be a blessing to someone else the way this man was to me. Just a little touchy feely story for you.

Though I do not know his name or his situation in life I to this day still pray for him and the ones he loves every Christmas.

Merry Christmas everyone and I pray that each of us will have the opportunity to make someones elses Christmas Merrier this year and when the opportunity comes we won't be so "busy" that we don't notice.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Getting Bubbles for Christmas.

I am going to go pick up Bubbles today from her baby daddy's house ;).  I can almost taste the yummy milk already.  5 more months and hopefully some warmer weather! 

Have a Merry Christmas from us at Country Pardise Farm!!! 
All 15 of us!
I pray you enjoy this time with all those you hold near and dear to you.   Both the two and four legged!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I am speaking of Bubbles the goat of course.  She has been shipped off to goat, um, well, I don't know exactly how to say this, uh, off to the goat stork.  You know where they put the baby in her tummy ;).  No really she is over being bred by another pygmy buck.  So about April we should be having some more babies arriving and getting milk again.  I chose to breed a little later than last year in hopes to be a little more in the clear as far as freezing temps are concerned.  Last year we had to use heat lamps and I am not all that comfortable with that considering most barn fires are started with heat lamps.  I will go and pick her up in about a week and she will return to her rightful place here on the farm as the raging hormonal #*&@#!   Really you have never met a more grumpy goat.  But she makes such a good Mama, such cute babies and oh so yummy milk!

The cold has come.

Boy oh boy!  And it showed up with a vengence.  They said on the news average temps for this time of year here are around 40.  So why in the world it it 3 degrees??  Along with a bitter cold wind chill factor makes it feel like -5.  Don't get me wrong these kind of temperatures are not unusual for us to deal with, we just don't usually have to start dealing with them until January.

Well this is good news for this blog!  This means more time spend indoors which means more likely to update on things around here.

Along with blog updating I also have a long "to do" list for the winter months.  Lets hope and pray for the motivation to get them done.

One thing that I did this harvest season because of my busy busy scheduele and my new toy(my horse) to play with I didn't have enough time to get to all the canning and jam making I had hoped.   So instead when I didn't have the time to properly store something I would throw it in the freezer with the idea come the slower winter months I could easily go back and take care of it.  Also it is much better to have the stove going all day long when the temps outside are below freezing than when they are in the 90's.  
I sauced tomatoes and chopped pepers for my spaghetti sauce, froze a couple gallons of blackberries for jam, a ton of peaches for jam and a few gallons of cherries for preserves.  So rather than dread turning on my stove and spending another day in the burning hot kitchen I am actually looking forward to spending a few days in the kitchen standing near the warm stovetop.

Winter is the time for long days in the kitchen, catching up on reading, sitting in front of the fireplace and any other activities that helps me avoid freezing.  Though don't you worry I spend plenty of time outdoors keeping my furry companions company.

I am also looking forward to getting back to cheese and butter making.  I have't made milk since my goat dried up this summer.  So I will start getting raw milk from an Amish friend.  And baking artisan bread again.  Since I finished doing the farmers market I have been kind of burnt out on baking but I think I am ready to get back to it again. 

Those are few things that you can expect to hear about around here :)