Friday, June 26, 2015

My Public Apology

Dear Vacuum Cleaner,

I want to publicly apologize for what I put you through today. I woke up deciding to clean the rooms of the little people living here, not knowing what a horrendous day it would mean for you.

I promise that I did not realize how much trash, rocks, legos, scotch tape, cereal and paper was embedded into the carpets of my little people. I am very sorry that you were forced to suck up all of such things from the carpet, no doubt shocking and jumbling the inner workings of yourself.

I realize you are a new member to my household and that you have probably realized why there is such high turnover in the carpet cleaning department here.  Please know that you are not alone.

Upon further reflection, I am taking responsibility for all of the woes that each appliance and cleaning machine must feel here. While only needing to be used a few times per year, the poor carpet cleaner has an equally tough job. I have cleaned the water/rinse tank after each carpet cleaning and it is terribly dirty. I am always shocked at the amount of dirt coming up from what seems like clean flooring. I blame the little people and the dogs, of which I have many.

The dishwashing machine has the same issues as yourself: overuse and not enough vacation time. The dishwasher, too, has had frequent turnover and for that I am regretful. No, it isn't fair to expect you to clean load after load of dishes all day and everyday, not to mention the very copious amounts of sauces and grime to wash.

The refrigerator is no better off either. It must hold lots and lots of food and milk. Did I mention milk? That milk must be chilled down quickly too. Jars are constantly being rotated around between cheese making days, and the little boy people are awfully rough while slamming closing the doors. There is also a constant smearing of fingerprints and foot prints (yes, foot prints) across your beautiful stainless steel body. I try to keep it shiny, I promise, but these little boy people are too powerful a force.

The clothes washer and dryer are also overworked and underpaid, but not under appreciated. It is not easy keeping nine people in clean clothes, and the swim season has made it even more difficult with all of the beach towels. Yes, they are heavy to wash and long to dry. I am sorry that the new puppy loves to do her business on the kitchen rugs, making them a wash item almost everyday as well. In her defense, I get busy sometimes and forget to take her outside. Her bladder is also quite tiny and I am not used to such frequent tinkle trips. Thank you though, because the rugs are always very clean and fresh once they leave the laundry room.

Sink and shower drains, I truly do feel for you having to deal with massive amounts of hair on a daily basis from keeping 5 young girl people clean and beautiful. I really do strive to help you out with my hemostats on occasion, digging and pulling out long strands of hair from your being. I apologize for the times I neglected to pull out my hair pulling tool out and was forced to load you down with hair eating chemicals to unclog your pipes. Thank you for never backing up to the point that the floors flood, and I promise to keep my hemostats close by at all times.

Oven and stove, what can I say? There is not another set of cooking appliances in town that works as hard as you both do on a daily basis. Food is always prepared in large quantities and you both always live up to the strains of meeting our meal demands.

Although I know you all might be considering a massive protest  or walk out for more vacation time, please don't quit on me. It takes a special kind of machine to help keep this home and family clean and functioning. I really do thank you for all you do, and again I apologize for what you had to go through while cleaning the rooms of my little people. It was almost too much for me as well, and well....I appreciate you coming through it for me.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

How To Render Lard

Forested pork is one of the many animals we raise here on the farm. It is always nice to fill the freezer with food that was raised humanely and naturally. Aside from the fabulous meat, we also get a fair amount of pork fat.

I love pork fat because I can use it to render lard. Yes, lard! Lard from forested or pastured pork is actually quite good for you and can be used to make pie crusts and biscuits. If you have not baked with freshly rendered lard then you are missing out.

What I use lard for most of the time, however, is on my clothbound cheddar cheeses. When I am ready to place a wheel of cheese into the cave for aging, I wrap it with cheese cloth and then rub it down with the lard.

Rendering lard is quite simple and I am happy to share with all of you an article I wrote that has been featured in Molly Green.

Please check it out and share it with anyone who has ever wanted to render lard.

You can also share it on Pinterest and you can find Molly Green Magazine on Facebook! You will not only find my article, but lots of great articles and resources for Home steading, Homemaking and Homeschooling!

What are your favorite recipes using lard?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Start to Summer

A few things happened over the weekend.

1. We got rain. Not much, but enough that I was able to move the hens and egg mobile. It has been super hot here and we just haven't had any rain. The ground is so hard and dry that moving the temporary bird fencing would have been tough. The quick rain shower gave the ground just enough softness that I could move the fence.

There is one mama hen who is caring for her one little chick, though. I had Indiana and Willow catch her and her baby so we could physically move them into the new egg mobile spot.

Because we are expecting another hot, dry week I moved the egg mobile near the tree line where the shade is plentiful.

2. The last three cows needing to be bred were artificially inseminated on Saturday. I didn't get a single picture of that event :-) I found a farmer who lives nearby and had a wide selection of semen. I decided on a sexed Guernsey, hoping I can get some heifers next year.

3. We celebrated Willow's 13th birthday at the lake! Her actually birthday is today, but we agreed that a lake day would be a great party.

The boys, and all the kids, enjoyed playing in the canoe.

The mud and clay is always popular with the boys too. They like to sculpt things and then air dry them. It can get messy, but a quick dip in the water usually cleans them up!

Willow opened some fabulous gifts! Thank you everyone who came out and spent they with us!!!

4. Devin got a new puppy for Father's Day. Actually we picked her up a couple of weeks ago. She is a cocker spaniel and Devin named her Luna.
She has been a wonderful little pup, but the lake wore her out!

Devin's mom had the chore of holding the sweet thing while she napped.
I hope to start posting many pictures of her as she grows!

The rest of my week will consist of surviving the heat and keeping the animals all hydrated. We have about 2 more weeks before chickens will be ready to process. Willow and Indy have been great helpers caring for the birds.

I hope everyone stays cool!

Happy Birthday Willow!!!

Happy Monday Ya'll!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Rockstar Summer

The Chattanooga River Bend Festival was all last week, and my Rockstar and her Rock Skool helped close the night out with a super performance!

It has been a super busy year of performances for Indiana, and she was starting to become weary of the lessons and gigs. In fact she discussed taking a summer break once River Bend was behind her.

Turns out the concert renewed her enthusiasm, and she is hoping to learn a few new songs on her own.

The crowd was rather large at the show and ALL of the kids did a fantastic job! Her instructor is up to over 50 students now...there were 13 when Indiana started. Amazing. This was a big deal to perform on this stage at this festival and we are looking forward to what the future holds for the Rock Skool.


Today it will be yet another hot, humid day. I think it is supposed to be 94 degrees and we have not had rain in a week. This means my ponds are starting to look a tiny bit low. Because my back yard grass growth is so impressive, and we don't like mowing, I plan to move ALL of the cows to the yard. This will also ease my mind that they have enough water, since I have plenty of water troughs in back.

We have been working on a hormone shot protocol to get the last three cows ready for artificial breeding. Wednesday they will get another shot, another on Friday and then they will be inseminated on Saturday. If it takes, and I think it will, then I will have 6 cows bred. Three babies will be Angus cross and three will be Guernsey cross. Do I have enough grass to feed all of these cows? I will cross that bridge when I get to it. There are some possible ways to obtain more land with grass and I will see how that plays out for us.

Meanwhile, I am still cranking out wheels of farmstead cheese. I have 3 that are consistently great, but I am trying to find a couple more to add. Blue cheese still alludes me. I had no idea it would be such a difficult cheese to craft, but I have yet to make a decent one.

I hope it's a beautiful day where you are!

Happy Summery Monday Ya'll!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Childhood Summer

I have not been writing lately. I have not been sewing or knitting or doing much of anything.
I have been somewhat in a state of transitioning, but I think I am now ready to get back to my life as normal.

Part of this transitioning period was due to a new computer. I finally got a Mac! After a few years of Windows 8, however, this Mac has been a learning curve for me. Today I was able to download some pictures from my camera and it was pretty easy. Here's hoping for many, many great years with my new Mac.

Next, I have been using my *downtime* to plan my summer, the next school year and my long term goals as far as my farmstead cheeses are concerned. Highest on this list, however, is my summer.

Simply put, we are focusing on home.

I know there are tons of summer activities available but I am truly a believer in childhood summers.

Childhood summers mean the kids can get up and spend their day doing what they please. Last week my kids read books, played games, used up an entire box of sidewalk chalk, played in the pool, and explored outside. They brought me wildflowers, unusual twigs and an assortment of bugs they collected.

Yesterday we sat outside, grilled a nice dinner and visited with several friends who came to share food and fellowship. Yes, the endless summer cookouts.

Childhood summer. Slow summer.

This isn't to belittle the fun of traveling or the experiences of a camp, but don't we do enough outside activities throughout the year? Can it be a real summer without several nights of catching lightening bugs?

              ****The cat Fender loves to explore with us outside****
Even when we lived in a subdivision, the summers consisted of an outside kiddie pool, sidewalk chalk, homemade play dough, a tree house and lots of driveway cookouts with neighbors.

In the everyday business of laundry and meals, a slow childhood summer is a balance, even for teen agers and possibly ESPECIALLY for teenagers.

Judging by my newsfeed on Facebook this morning, I am quite possibly the only one who advocates for a slow summer, but since when do I fit in? Since when do I follow the majority crowd?

Now I am signing off (until later this week),  we have cows to milk and a summer to be enjoyed!

Happy Monday, Ya'll

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Choosing Home

I am excited to share today a fabulous project that I feel very blessed to be involved.

Choosing Home: 20 Mothers Celebrate Staying Home, Raising Children, and Changing the World is a thoughtful and inspiring collection of writings from 20 moms who stay at home. Each essay is unique in experience and reasons to choose home instead of an outside career. I am thrilled to be one of the 20 moms featured in the beautiful book. The two fabulous ladies who pulled this project together and edited, Rachel Chaney and Kerry McDonald, did a spectacular job, and I am so grateful for this opportunity to work with them. Are you ready for the great deal on this book?

For the next few days you can get your copy for FREE!!!!!

Choosing Home: 20 Mothers Celebrate Staying Home, Raising Children, and Changing the World is now available on Amazon. For FIVE days only, starting Tuesday, May 26, the book will be available for FREE. Grab a copy and enjoy twenty eloquent and thought-provoking stories of mothers who have chosen to postpone or forgo careers to raise their children. On the heels of much media attention surrounding the positive impact of working mothers, Choosing Home argues instead that mothers (and fathers) can change the world by focusing on their families.  See for yourself what the buzz is all about. Get your copy today!

Monday, May 18, 2015

That Real Food Plan

For the most part we eat a healthy diet around here. We raise all of our meat and I prepare most of the meals from scratch.

But then there are things like potato chips, cheese crackers in the shape of fish, and honey nut cheerios. To say we ate whole and real foods would be a lie.

                   *****Raw milk camembert I made a while back******

When you begin to really read the labels of packaged foods, you see that sugar is in almost everything. The problem with sugar is that it is highly inflammatory and is probably the biggest issues that leads to illness in the US.

I am not just talking about white sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Those yummy fruits, like grapes, are loaded with sugar. Yes fruits are whole foods, but sugar is sugar. Honey and maple syrup? Those are better than granulated sugar, but it must still be consumed lightly.

Because I am always looking for new ways to challenge myself and to load myself down with more work. I decided to try and switch us over to more real foods and whole foods. I blame Pinterest. I saw a pin come across my feed about *real food* and it got the wheels turning.

The past week we have started our food journey. The basic premise is that you only consume whole foods and any packaged items must have 5 ingredients or less. Processed foods are out.
Now, I didn't throw any food out because that is wasteful, plus you have to sort of wean your kids and yourself off the processed food you love so much. (I may or may not be hoarding the last bag of potato chips.)

Take a look in your pantry and see how much processed foods are in there. It is amazing when you actively look for such foods, how they have accumulated into even the best diets.

So here is what we have on the menu for the week for dinner:

Whole wheat pizza
Crock Pot Chicken Tacos
Baked Spaghetti with salad and artisan bread
Braised Beef with veggies and rice
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Rosemary Encrusted Roast and Roasted Veggies
Ricotta Cheese Pancakes

Lunch has consisted of leftovers, egg salad and whole wheat bread, and sliced roast on pita bread.

Breakfast has been muffins, oatmeal, smoothies, and eggs with toast.

Sounds simple, right? Looks like I have it all figured out and organized, right? Well, let me tell you that I have one word for this meal plan: EXHAUSTING!!!!

I have been in the kitchen everyday for long stretches, and that is on top of making cheeses almost each day. My wheat grinder has been over drive and the oven has been baking foods almost non-stop.

Breakfast has been the toughest because I love having cereal around. It's simple and the kids can make it themselves. When the mornings include milking cows, a large breakfast is not something that happens here.
I did make some granola cereal and the kids loved it, however it only lasted one day. Making enough cereal for 9 people can be daunting.
I also made some flavored coffee creamer, and I will admit that it is quite yummy. I doubled the recipe and it is lasting a good while.

Lunch meat is another item to go because it is heavily processed, so I cooked a roast and sliced it for sandwich meat. I have a freezer full of grass fed beef and it is good to use it up.

Yesterday I went to the local Chattanooga farmer's market to buy strawberries, thinking I could make jam and let the kids snack on berries. Wouldn't you know that all the farmers but one was sold out within the first hour? I bought a few from the farmer who still had some, but they were overly ripe and not good for snacking. Instead I made crepes and whipped some fresh cream to add to the strawberries for a dessert. We were all thrilled with that scenario.

Awe, first world problem.

 I intend to stick with this and see it through the difficult adjustment period. Devin and I do go on *dates* once a week and I will be able to order and eat what I want (does that sandwich come with chips? Can I order extra chips?????)

So tell me, how have you adjusted real foods or are you thinking about making the switch? Ideas and suggestions are always welcome!!!

Happy Monday Ya'll!

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