Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hello and Goodbye

As usual my parents' visit this weekend went way too quickly. Sometimes I get discouraged that our time goes so fast especially when there are so many distractions and everyday busy-ness that still needs taken care of when we're together. Like the generally large amount of time it takes to care for 5 children and the household they occupy. Obviously, I love Love LOVE my kids, but golly, it can make socialization difficult!

My parents live 3 hours away and are in a very busy season of their lives. Dad is District Superintendent of the Northeastern district Christian and Missionary Alliance Churches, and Mom is in demand more and more each day as a speaker/author. They travel a TON. Just returned from Bosnia and Germany where they spent two weeks ministering to missionary families. Left from here for Pittsburgh where they will be leading a conference until Wednesday, and then traveling again through next weekend for Mom's speaking ministry. This is the life they lead. It's exhausting for me to contemplate. Yet they are being obedient to God's call and any selfish desire I may have to be able to "claim" them more often is simply human greediness on my part.

And while they are doing what it is God has for them, I am being obedient in my own way by caring for the children he's blessed us with and the home we are so fortunate to have and the daily chores that need doing around here. Obedient by living the life He has called me to. A life of large family mothering, being a help-meet to my husband, homeschooling, and simplicity. Though simplicity can often look like being sentenced to  hard labor (goats, chickens, gardens, cooking from scratch, budgeting till it hurts,self sufficiency etc...) it is still the life I feel confident I was born to lead. A life that many don't understand and may even mock at times. But I'm happy here. Happier than if I were working every day and collecting a large paycheck. My paycheck is all that surrounds me on a daily basis and I go to bed exhausted (and poor ;), but simply, content. Priceless.

My parents have touched so many lives, including the lives of Joe and I. What examples they've been of Godly obedience, unwavering faith and commitment to each other. What luck we've had to be blessed by these two. By living out our obedience I can only pray that someday our lives will touch others as well.

Mom and Dad, I miss you already.
Dad, thanks for milking the goats with me. A special time I will store away and treasure. Mom, thanks for all the sweet encouragement, and for loving your grandchildren so much. And both of you, thanks for always giving more than you take.
Oh yeah, and for always complimenting my hospitality, even though you've traveled the world over and have been entertained by much more important than myself.
Love you two.
God bless your journey.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Not much time for writing these days. This is some of what we've been up to:

Pasta making. Fun! My dear mother in law cleaned out her basement a few years back and we were the lucky recipients of this pasta maker. At the time I was pregnant (with Brenna, I think) and didn't want to bother so I stuck it in my basement and forgot about it completely. Lo and behold what did I find when cleaning out my basement? Confession: I get kinda itchy and twitchy when it comes to appliances I have to put together and figure out. (not to mention all the space they take up) But I decided to tackle this one anyway. So I cleaned 'er up and gave her a go. The kids and I had fun making egg noodles which were pretty yummy. I see more noodles in our future. Next I'll try some wheat noodles from flour we've ground in the Wondermill.  There's even a recipe for chocolate noodles (oh my)...

Goat cheese yum...

Snowy day adventuring...

A warm (52 degrees!) day which brought this...

You can just imagine the fun the kids had with this "lake" in our backyard.

So glad the barn stayed dry inside!

And of course plenty of this:

On a more serious note, I've spent much of the last few days in fervent prayer for a blogging friend of mine and her family: She tragically lost her 12 year old son on Friday, yet is giving thanks to God for his goodness in all of this. An amazing, courageous, heartbreaking testimony. What beautiful faith she has.
God has numbered our days. Who are we to question his sovereign plan for our lives? Please pray for them, and for the message they are hoping to share through this. And go love on your own children a little more today. I know I have...


Tuesday, February 15, 2011


New to Dandelion's Acre: Whisper and Tania (tu-nee-uh)- we call her Tia because the kids couldn't remember Tania. "What's her name again, Mom?" They both respond to their names which is pretty amazing considering the woman I bought them from had over 100 goats (all named, all came when called) Loved it. Here's her blog Whisper, a mostly white Alpine/Saanen, and Tia a white and black Alpine/Togg. Both friendly and well behaved ( desirable traits in a goat ;) They give us about 1 and 2/3 gallon a day of sweet, creamy milk and we are thankful. Tia is easy to milk, but gives a little less milk than Whisper. She managed to put her hoof in the bucket yesterday (after 25 long minutes of milking), but I'm hoping it was a mistake (rather than a habit) and really, the chickens didn't mind at all that I had to give (all) yesterday morning's milk to them.

Whisper with the chickens

Just about all my pictures of Tia are close-ups because she never leaves my side (laugh) 

Whisper gives about a gallon a day but was unfortunately endowed with small orifices (undesirable traits in a goat) Oh dear. In all fairness to the seller I will say that I was duly warned :) The first couple milkings it took me almost 20 minutes just to milk her out. Tia takes about 3-4 minutes. I could barely feel my hands for the first couple days. It has gotten progressively a little easier and after 3 days of milking her I can do it in about 10 minutes now. Still a long time, but better. And really, Whisper's name should be Patience because she stands there so quietly all the while. And for that I am so grateful. My hands are already feeling stonger than they ever have been. I wonder how long till carpel tunnel sets in?
I had Joe out there last night with me to give it a try. After all, it'll be his job on the evenings I work, and he needs to know just what he's getting himself in to   how to do it ;) Good sport that he is, he milked out one side while I worked on the other and we were done in about 10 minutes. This morning I had Connor help me out in the same way. He milked out the easier side while I did the harder and it went much faster and saved my hands a bit. I do love to have my husband out in the barn with me and think I may be on to something. ~"Honey, you have to come milk with me or I'll be out there forever!"~

 In fact, I actually thought I would be out there forever this morning. As Connor was leaving, he inadvertently (and so like Connor) locked me in the milking side of the barn. There I was, locked in the barn, stuck with Whisper who was mournfully looking at me like, what the heck lady, I gave you your milk now let me out already. It really wouldn't have been too bad except that Brenna my exuberant and over-ambitious 3 year old had insisted on following us out this cold morning to help me milk ("I milk the goats for you mom!!"), had lost her gloves somewhere between the barn and the house and was now at a high pitched wail because she was cold (and on the other side of the door I was locked behind of course). She was too short to unlock the door for me and too upset to go back to the house for me and get Joe. So she just stood there screaming and I stood there (with Whisper now exploring all this side the barn had to offer) helpless. In the end, I managed to climb on top of the hay and over top of the divider between the milking side and the other side and jump down to free myself. But it was traumatic, and my poor little (but not so light) Brenna then had to be carried to the house (still screaming) along with the 3/4 gallon of milk and the two empty water buckets.

We have goats again.

Let the adventures begin.

Monday, February 14, 2011

To My Valentine

For you see, each day I love you more. Today more than yesterday and less than tomorrow. ~Rosemonde Gerard

Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be.
Robert Browning

A woman knows the face of the man she loves like a sailor knows the open sea.
Honoré de Balzac

Are we not like two volumes of one book?  ~Marceline Desbordes-Valmore

Happy Valentine's Day to my man. The father of our children, the head of our home, the keeper of my heart...

And... our barn is occupied once more, my hands are sore from milking, and yogurt and cheese and soap (oh my) are being made by the pot-fuls! What is it about an abundance of milk that makes one feel rich? (insert contented sigh...)
More about that later. I have a Valentine's cake to bake :)

Happy Valentine's To You!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Disappointments and Window Art

Another let down this morning. We were on our way later today to view and (most likely) purchase two beautiful does. An Alpine/Saanen mix and an Alpine/Togg mix. Big producers, healthy, young, round with babies. (Seemingly) perfect for us. Woke up this morning to an email from the seller. She sold them late last night. Right out from under us. What a disappointment. Even Joe (the reluctant goatherd ;) was let down. I made up my mind to feel sorry for myself and bum around all day. Oh poor me. Poor, poor me. Then I thought of what my mother would say at a time like this. "Well, look on the bright side. No one's dying." Amen to that. Isn't that the truth. What do I have to be sad about? Nothing. Absolutely, positively.

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. Psalm 28:7
I love standing at my kitchen sink. This is the view I get:

Sunny day. Treasures line the windowsill.

A flowerpot painted by Ava, handpainted cross- a beautiful reminder of a wonderful trip to New Mexico with my sister, brother, sister-in- law; pipe cleaner hearts, rock from our creek, sweet metal knick knack of young sweethearts (a reminder taken from my Grandparents house shortly after their death), a flower painted by Connor for Brenna "Brenna is like a flower" is written on the top; origami by Garrett, a tiny bud vase made by Garrett in Kindergarten, and an "I love you" sign printed out by Garrett weeks ago just for me.

What's on your windowsill?

And, we've officially ordered 10 more laying hens, 15 meat birds, and 4 turkeys (starting small). We settled on two of the white and two of the bronze for those of you who were wondering. It's going to be a busy wonderful Spring.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Honey, Herbs, and Woolens

Today was an exciting day. Well, for us anyway. We got out of the house. That makes any day exciting, no? The country kids and I all donned our best farm tour clothes and traveled down the road to buy this:
We also got a brief farm tour from the spry 78yr old farmer who raises natural beef, spanish meat goats, broiler and laying chickens, and (obviously) honeybees. He had kind eyes and was a father to 8 children and our conversation was pleasant and easy. I told him of my farm dreams and he told me how he started farming with 500 meat goats, and how he lost 100 broiler chickens in two nights to some unknown predator last year. He caught a mink a few days later, but didn't have the heart to dispatch it, and so drove miles away to relocate the rascal. A genuine individual, he was.
I can't wait to use this raw honey in some of  our soaps. You can get info on all the benefits of raw honey here:

I also got a shipment of some herbs I use in our soaps and salves:

I already have others that I've grown and dried (a very humble assortment) here myself, and am expecting more in the mail any day. Love herbs. Love crafting with herbs, Love growing herbs. Frankly, it just makes me feel good to have these God-given natural healers in my pantry. I love expanding my knowledge about their healing properties and can't wait to expand my own herb garden this year.

We also loaded the van with several Salvation Army bags and were able to drop them off this morning. It sure feels good to get rid of clutter.

As I was going through old clothes to look for Salvation Army donations, I came upon a sweet pair of woolen pants I had hand-sewed for Ava when she was a toddler. Hand-sewed, because we were in Minnesota at the time and I did not have my sewing machine with us. These were made from a pretty wool sweater I had reclaimed from a Salvation Army years ago and used as wool longies for her because she was in cloth diapers at the time. Though Charlotte is not in cloth diapers right now, I felt they were just the right size and would keep her chubby little legs warm on our journey to the farm this morning. If you want to make your own pair, it's really easy. I found a tutorial here:
What a cute blog this woman has, and lots of great sewing patterns as well.

Here's a picture of our Charlotte wearing her woolens:

and another, just 'cause I like taking pictures of her :)

and here's Ava, 4 or 5 years ago, in the same pair:

What's better than hand-me-downs?
Homemade hand-me-downs

And just for fun, Ava insisted I wear this blue ribbon in my hair today. "A present for you, to make you beautiful, mama."

Blessings on your Friday,

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Soap Making, Child Training, and a Tribute to the Rooster

Whew! It sure feels good to catch a minute to sit down and blog again. It's amazing how quickly a whirlwind of days pass by. We lost our sweet rooster the other day. The second casualty of what we think is a weasel that lives under the coop. "Puck", who was affectionately named by Ava (because it rhymes with 'cluck'), and who was the only of our chickens we named, died a pretty awful death. I'd like to think it was in brave defense of his hens, though I'll never know. Garrett, in memory, made an origami bird (rooster) in black and white- Puck's colors. It sits on the windowsill above my kitchen sink where it too, will probably meet a quick end for all the times it has fallen into the sink (inevitably when it is full of water).
We've moved the remaining hens (who seem unaffected by the recent brutalities they've witnessed, and are laying again, I'm happy to report) to the vacant goat barn where we hope they will stay safe. We've put out a trap for the perpetrator in the chicken coop, but seems he's been untempted thus far. Or maybe after two large chicken dinners in as many days, he's hunkered down for a long winter's nap.

The last few days have been filled with soap making and child training. The latter being just a neverending job, it seems. Especially during long winter months. And every time I think I've got them straightened out long enough to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee, another argument ensues. It is then that I remind myself what blessings these children are and how honored I am that God gave me charge of them for what little time we have together. I want my children to learn patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The teaching of these begins at home. I did happen to snap a couple pictures of the children happily co-habiting in the last couple days. These moments have been a little rare here lately and so all the more precious are they...

This last, though not depicting co-habitation exactly, is simply a picture of Brenna spontaneously napping on the couch after several hours of rather challenging behavior. Ahhhhh... Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. Psalm 127:3

I'm very excited about the soapmaking we've been doing. Scents on the curing rack so far include: Stress relief (lavender, patchouli, bergomot), Simply Lavender, Rose Geranium with added rose hips for skin nourishing vitamins and exfoliation, and our Dead Sea bar- a yummy bar fresh from the sea with mineral rich sea kelp powder and dead sea salts from Jordan. Here's some interesting information about the Dead Sea and the wonderful goodness it contains: Of course all our bars are all natural and made with only the most nourishing ingredients. These include goats milk, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, mango butter and castor bean oil. Fragrances are derived from only 100% natural essential oils. We will be making several more varieties and then they will all be allowed to cure for a minimum of 6 weeks. In that time we will be working on our logo, website, brochure, and herbal salves! Joe has already designed a beautiful and practical soap holder to use with your soap in the shower so as not to waste any of your beauty bar! He'll be busy turning those out soon.

And the search for our own goats continues... In the meantime, I'm loving the snow, but a little thankful at times that I don't yet have to rush out at 7am to milk...

May His peace be in your homes,