Sunday, December 04, 2016

Memory Verse - Romans 5:6

When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. Romans 5:6

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Memory Verse - Mark 10:27

With God all things are possible. Mark 10:27

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Introducing...

3:03 AM, Thursday, September 1, 2016.

8 lbs 14 oz, 20.25" long.
Mother and baby are both doing well.

"A certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple,
of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard
us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended
unto the things which were spoken."

Acts 16:14






Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Preserving Summer (aka Nesting)


So this is a lot of what's been keeping us busy lately. There were also swimming lessons for almost half the kids and miscellaneous school prep for the older 5. And all but QB got to spend at least one Tuesday with Grandma C at the cousin's house across the border. But now pretty much all the canning I wanted to do is done (we probably should make more applesauce though) and the official due date is tomorrow, so we're down to the waiting for baby game.

What I love most about this picture though is how much time it represents that I was able to spend with various individual children.

Over 100lbs of butternuts (25lbs pictured here) were collected over five days of swimming lessons at the local park. While the kids in lessons were swimming most of the others played on the playground and one or two kids would help me collect shopping bags or feed pails of nuts off the ground at the park. This gave me time with just about all the kids individually. Later when we dried the nuts in the dryer, it was Dolly who spent hours washing out the walnut stain that was left behind each time we dried a batch of nuts. I'm sure she was happy to see the long range forecast with record temperatures and no cloud cover that prompted the nut drying process to be moved outdoors. Without the threat of rain, we spread the butternuts across the driveway and let the sun dry them for us.

This pail of apples came from the two trees we have, and I got to spend time with Hal and QB picking them up off the ground. Well, I carried the pail and they picked up the apples since they are already a lot closer to the ground and can bend over better than I can currently. :) These apples are the best of what we collected and have been reserved for school lunches. We collected other apples and pears from the neighborhood trees and Granny sent bags of windfall apples from her house to us via Grandpa and Grandma C. Butler was my one-on one applesauce maker - we made 6 quarts, but then ate one quart right away because everyone loved the samples from our canning leftovers. QB especially loved the 'app-sauce!' and in spite of his size, he probably got the lion's share of what we put out for dinner. The plan is to make more since we still have buckets of apples sitting outside the front door, but they can wait until after the baby comes.

The 4½qts of hazelnuts were Ricka and Dolly's specialty. They were my 'hazelnut hunters' and we had a lot of fun wandering the property identifying trees together. Ricka still brings me an odd hazelnut that she finds every once in a while.

PC nearly did all the work involved in making the 10 pints of peach salsa and he willingly helped me pit and chop a whole pail of plums that I needed for later. Emma worked with me to make one of the two batches of plum jam including picking the crab apples in the sheep field that we needed for making the jam pectin. We ended up with a total of 5 pints of plum jam and 4 more of plum jam/sauce (those didn't set up quite as nicely as the first batch).

Dolly worked in tandem with me to make the first two batches of peach jam which was a really fun project because she did all of her batch herself after watching me and copying what I did on my batch. She took a few minutes longer to get her batch off the stove, and ended up with a darker jam that set up better than my lighter colored batch. It was a rainbow after the thunderstorm type of thing and I was really thankful for that because she had worked so hard and thought she ruined everything by letting the jam cook longer than it was supposed to. For the other batches of peach jam I had random helpers that came and went, but we ended up with a total of 16 pints and the kids gobbled one up in sandwiches the first few days after we made the first batch.

The five older kids collected the one pail of pears that we let ripen in the living room for a week before I turned most of them into baby food. Any leftover peaches and plums were also turned into baby food and we ended up with a total of 18 half pints of baby food split between the three flavors. It works out to about 36 jars of store-bought baby food. Again, I had random helpers during the baby food batches, but they came and went and helped while there was something that kept them interested in the job at hand. One of my favorite quotes was from one of the older kids, "Don't worry Mommy, when I grow up, I'm going to do canning too!" And it was immediately followed by a sibling's enthusiastic, "Yeah! me too!".

I think it was rewarding to all of the kids when we collected everything we put up during the month to take a picture and they could see all their hard work in collecting and preparing the bit we did all in one place. And it's rewarding to me to see all my children learning and appreciating the value of projects like these while they're still young.

"Go to the ant.... consider her ways, and be wise: which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest."
Proverbs 6:6-8




Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Three Little Pigs - Chapter 1


Our Three Little Pigs

Perhaps the newest story in our life will revive my writing skills... one can always hope. Meet the stars of our latest adventure! Sir dubbed them 'Chocolate, Strawberry and Vanilla' when we brought them home this past Saturday, but I think they're fast earning their own names already. When I'm doing the chores, they get called 'Boss, Rojo and Chip'.

Today I moved them from their stall in the barn out to their yard for some sunshine and grass and they had a blast digging and smacking to their hearts content. Once Freckles got over her initial fear of them, her natural guarding instincts took over, and she has decided they're her personal pets. She tried getting them to play with her, but that resulted in Boss and Rojo threatening to take her on in a wrestling match. In the end peace was established and Freckles took up her post in the pig pen to keep the newbies safe.


Guard Dog on Duty

About a month ago or so, we decided that since chickens had worked out so well for us over the past two years that we were probably ready to move on in our 'farming journey' and expand our horizons a little. Since Sir isn't as excited about my dream of a milk cow as I am, we settled on something a little less time-consuming and work-loaded and agreed on pigs instead. The first step was visiting the local livestock auction to observe and learn what our options might be. Almost every Saturday we'd watch the sales take note of the prices, condition and variety of what went through and then we'd go home and work on reconstructing our barnyard to include a pig pen. Finally one day we registered as buyers, but since we still had work to do to be completely ready, we set our bidding limit pretty low so we'd only end up buying if the pigs were ridiculously cheap. The first week we didn't even bid, the week after that the price exceeded our limit and we backed out of the bidding, the following week we couldn't make it to the sale and then there was last week.

We had plans for the evening, so to save time between the auction and when it would be time to go, we decided to take two vehicles to the sale. That way I could go home and get something done and Sir could run some errands after the auction. He took the two oldest kids and headed to the sale and I was going to join him with the rest of the gang once I finished making lunch and putting shoes on little people. Of course I was running late as usual, and even though I arrived at the auction two minutes before the sale was supposed to start, I could hear the bidding already in full swing. As I herded my little people in the door to the auction ring, I heard the auctioneer slam his hammer and say, "Sold! How many do you want?" and then I heard Sir's voice reply, "Two.". I rounded the corner with my sleeping infant in his car seat in one hand and my foot-dragging toddler in the other to find Sir motioning to me to go pick out two pigs. I plunked the carseat down, let go of the toddler and stepped up to the ring to make a selection on a heartbeat's notice. To buy myself time, I asked for gilts (female piglets) because I couldn't tell if the males were boars or barrows (gelded males) and the ringman ran his grease crayon down the back of the first gilt he found. As she scurried away, I realized she wasn't the healthiest looking piglet of the lot and tried to get him to change her for another, but I guess that was against the rules. The auctioneer said once they put a color on them, there was no switching, but I could choose a third pig for the same price if I wanted. Sir gave me a quick nod, and I picked out two other pigs tossing gender preference to the wind in favor of hardiest looking.

It turned out we got a second gilt and a barrow and once we got them home and in a warm stall with food and water they all looked great. I still have to weigh them so we can chart their progress, but they're smart little guys and have been adjusting and fitting into our barnyard menagerie quite well.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Just Like That

"Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."
James 4:14

Last night my sister called me. I asked her how she was doing, and for the first time, I heard her speechless. She started to say something, but it took three tries before the words finally tumbled out. The house was gone.

The house we grew up in - toast. Literally - it had burnt to the ground. Our parents weren't at home, but the pets inside and everything else was lost. The house, pump-house/shop - all gone. It wasn't just the place I grew up in, the place I went to school at or the place I discovered a myriad of things. It was home. I spent 21 years there. Every wall and corner held a memory and it's hard to fathom that it's not there any more. I know what I feel about it, is nothing compared to what my parents must be going though. They raised 5 kids without running water for 8 years, without a telephone for 10 years, without electricity. They watched their little ones learn to walk, talk and love in that house. A lifetime of memories.

It's hard to imagine the old piano, Dad's 12 string guitar, his banjo, Mom's treadle sewing machine, her cupboard of keepsakes where she put all the treasures we gave her, the 410, the bread table or the storehouse gone, but they are. The chimney my grandpa built in the 70's was still standing last night, but that doesn't really make a dent in the enormity of the loss.

I thought maybe I could help by giving my parents a place to get away from it all - since there's not much else that really can be done, but then I realized they probably don't even have their documents like passports and birth certificates and licenses any more so that won't work for a while either. Besides, they're going to thinking of basic stuff for a while, like clothes to wear, replacing Dad's breathing machine and sorting out where they're going to start over from.

At least the rest of my siblings are there - I know when things happen, you want to know your kids are close and safe, and my parents have that.


"Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him.
Matthew 6:8


And that is real comfort and Hope.