Monday, July 30, 2012

A Quilt, Afghan, and Lucy

Just a quick update as we are about to head out the door to run. Remember we are working through the Couch to 5k. We missed last week due to Devin working night shifts, and I came down with a terrible stomach bug. I am just now eating real food today.
We are starting week three and it's been pretty easy so far. In fact I am amazed how quickly we have shaped up cardiac-wise. 

I finally finished this quilt top. It looks nothing like the pattern due a tragic event that ruined some of the fabric.
Zeb had an accident in his undies and when I told him to go to the laundry room and I would clean him up (this is where my sewing table sits) , he took the initiative to pull those undies off and put them on my sewing table. On top of my neatly cut out fabric.
Well, you can't wash small five inch squares of fabric.
In wanted a more scrappy quilt anyway:-)

I am going to crochet a really cool afghan. It consists of crocheting these small medallions and then putting them together. I like having something small that I can crochet while watching netflix or listening to the children read. Hopefully I will be done by.........October.
Gotta have a goal, right?

Lucy is still pregnant. She is bagged up and her udders are huge! She also has some engorgement and mucus coming from her back end. Any day now!

Keep Lucy in your thoughts and I will keep you all posted!

Have a cool week!

****Just a reminder that there are only a few days left to vote for me in the Circle of Moms Top 25 Moms of Large Families. Will you give a gal a hand or a vote? I am at #11, last I looked:-) Thanks!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My Portrait of Home Schooling

I know, I's a home school post. Sorry, I can't help myself.

Last weekend was the Chattanooga Curriculum Fair, and that means there were a ton of newbie home schoolers. Now, I have been to the Chattanooga fair many, many times. I have also attended fairs in Atlanta. While the Atlanta fairs are better, more organized and have far better speakers the Chattanooga event does has a large number of vendors and many resources to get the newbie home schoolers started.

Typically a newbie will be super motivated to teach at least 8 full subjects to their little ones and to plan attending a co-op of some sort. Let's not forget the music and art lessons and maybe some dance or gymnastics to boot.

While this is a super idea in a parent's head, I can promise that this sort of schedule will only lead to one thing. Burnout!

Burnout is a big deal too, because burnout tends to make one think they can't home school or that they are not patient enough or they are too inadequate. Burnout stinks, big time!

Today I want to share with you newbies what home schooling typically looks like over here. Now, keep in mind that everyone does things differently, hence the absolute beauty of home schooling. At any rate, here are some images for you to store away in your mind so that you might feel LESS compelled to speed your way down the road to burnout.

When you start the day out it's okay if the kids and yourself do not crawl out of bed at the crack of dawn, really. Sometimes it's nice to lay in bed together and read books or maybe everyone would rather run outside to help gather acorns and cool leaves first thing in the morning. On a cold winter day, math is always more fun if everyone is still in Pj's and sipping hot chocolate (don't forget the mini marshmallows).

You don't need desks, either. There are a multitude of places to get some school work done such as the kitchen table, the big family room recliner or even the front porch.

What about that perfectly perfect schedule you spent hours charting so that everyone can move from subject to subject with ease? I can promise that life as a home schooler ,especially with many children, does need a schedule but it is better to follow a "rough" schedule. Be flexible. Disasters happen, lessons get interrupted, and diapers often need changing. Don't sweat it.

Then there is the calender full of activities and extra lessons such as karate and music. Pick one and let the others go. What good is home schooling if you are NEVER home? I once watched a family with 3 kids working on their math in the waiting room at the dentist office. Seriously, if you MUST do math in the waiting room before getting your teeth cleaned then you are either waaaaay too inflexible or not home enough to get the work done. I promise your kids will be fine if they do not get to participate in every activity that pops up.
 The activity that demands the most attention would be dinner. Please be home together for dinner, I promise you will be happy you did.

You really do not have to sit and do busy work 5 days a week, either. Often we use Fridays as a day to go outside and learn or we might use that day for a fun outing. Be creative and remember that you are a home schooler. You do NOT have to follow the public school schedule in your area. One year we actually took off from Thanksgiving until the New Year so that we would have days to watch movies, bake cookies and complete crafts for the holidays. Take control of your calender!

What if a little one wakes up sick or extra cranky? What if EVERYONE is feeling extra cranky and weepy? I usually throw the schedule for the day out and we spend time outside or playing in rooms. I see no point in making a house full of cranky, ill kids worse by sitting them down to mess with school. A good dinner and early bedtime will do wonders for those bad moods too, allowing the next day to be much better.

Home schooling is not simply a chore that must be completed for a few hours a day, rather it is a life style. It requires parents to make decisions that are completely centered around family life. It's sometimes tiring and other times exhilarating. It is how you live your life everyday, how you learn everyday. It's also learning not to compare yourself or your children to others or to the public system.

It's finding your own way, spending valuable time with your kids, and watching them day at a time.

Oh my Lucy is starting to bag up! This means that her udders are getting filled with milk and that labor will be soon. Hopefully within a week we will have a little calf.
I have been busy getting everything in her paddock cleaned up and ready. Tomorrow I will pull the milker out and make sure it's nice a clean and ready to go too.


There is about 1 week left in the Circle of Moms Top 25 Mom's of Large Families contest. I would really appreciate you hopping over to give me a vote. I am at the number 10 spot! Thanks!


I have been super busy finishing up a quilt this week and trying to start a crochet afghan because you know I do not have enough projects to juggle:-) I will post a picture of the quilt as soon as I finish the top!

Until then, how does home schooling look at your house?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

An Omnivore's Decision

There truly can be difficult decisions for a meat eater regarding the deplorable state of factory food.
Chicken, beef, and pork in the grocery stores comes from animals that are treated poorly and shot up with all sorts of drugs and chemicals. That milk that sits in the plastic container? Same deal there.
They are food that is run through the factory, not much differently from the box of cereal on the shelf.

That leaves a person a few of options.

1. Become a vegetarian, which I just don't see myself going without meat or dairy. I know people can live very healthy lives without meat, but I like meat. I LOVE cheese...REAL cheese. This route will not work for me.

2.  Buy directly from a local, small farmer. I can do that some. Remember that we are a family of 9 people, so financially I am not willing to buy all of our food locally. Milk and meat can get pricey due to the high cost paid out by that small farmer.

3. Grow your own. This is where I am today with milk and chicken. Next year, I hope to add beef and perhaps pork. I know what I am feeding these animals. I know how they are being treated under my care. I know that what I feed this family is healthy.

This past weekend we processed 26 cornish roasters that I raised on pasture using the Joel Salatin model of pasture raised poultry.

The process went smoothly and we now have  a freezer full of whole chickens (avg, weight of 5 lbs) plus I cut 10 up into parts. We have bags of wings, drum sticks, breasts, and backs (for making stock). I removed the bone from the thighs and cut them into chicken nugget size to make Birthday Chicken Nuggets.

                       My new Food Saver was a great tool for packaging up the parts.

I know this is not a process that many can undertake. In fact, a year ago I would not even buy chicken with bones. I have progressed a long way, and I hope to be the person to take this process on for my friends and customers who do not wish to deal with the job of "processing chickens." This is where my omnivore's dilemma has taken me.

I still have 100 birds on pasture, and I have to say that these chickens love the outdoors and they spend the day being chickens. They are healthy and I am happy that they will provide healthy meals to so many people.


Lucy is getting BIGGER! She is due to calve in only 2 weeks!

You can see how much her belly is bulging, and I can feel the calf when I press on her belly. She has no signs of impending labor yet such as bagging up or mucus from her back end.
Right now she is just enjoying her easy life and the late afternoon brushing we give her.
This week I plan to get a few supplies, in case we need them, such as a calf bottle and a calcium paste.


Goodness my bees are really hanging outside their hives. They are either too crowded or it's just too hot outside. Either way, bees tend to be a little cranky on these hot days with not much blooming so I have decided to just leave them alone and watch.

I planted some Mexican Sunflowers this year and cannot believe the huge butterflies that visit the blooms.
It's like I have my own butterfly garden, and they are really fun to snap pictures.

Tomorrow I will try and take a few pictures with my macro lens and see what I get.

This mother hen did a great job raising her babies and they have gotten big. I enjoy having some birds in the yard loose to eat ticks and to scratch up the messiness left behind by the meat birds when I move the cages each morning. If I could only keep them out of my tomato plants......

It has been a hot summer so far, but we have done so much as a family...working the garden, tending the chickens, caring for Lucy, hosting movie nights, and swimming with friends.

This omnivore turned a dilemma into an opportunity. The opportunity has turned into one great summer.


I am honored again this year to be nominated in Circle of Moms Top 25 Large Family Blogs.
If you get a hankering, will you pop over and give me a vote? I want badly to stay in with this group of fabulous mothers of large families. You can vote once per 24 hours and you'll find me at the #6 spot.

Enjoy the beauty in your day!

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Okay, I am not pregnant, but I get this nesting feeling every year about this time.
You see, the home school curriculum fair is almost here and so that means buying some new books which means finding a place for everything, etc.... you understand, right?

Add to this nesting feeling the fact that Lucy will be calving in about 2 weeks and we are processing the first batch of pasture chickens this weekend.

Need I mention that I have a quilt I am working to finish?

Here's what else I have to show:

I love a quick project and these coffee mug cozies are that simple! I can finish one in about an hour. Buy cotton yarn, like what you would use for dish rags. A friend was making these and I really liked them. I found many patterns on Ravelry. These would be great gifts!

Occasionally we get an unexplained drop in egg production from the hens. Correction, unexplained until we find the reason.

Here's was the culprit this week. We found this snake curled up in the corner of the coop, digesting eggs.
The boys love snakes so Devin let them pet it before carrying it across the pasture to live away from the chickens.

Finally, to add to my list of things to do, we decided to start a Couch to 5K. Yep, Devin and I have been wanting to shape up for some time and, after a friend reassured me it was a great plan, we jumped in with both feet.

We also asked the two oldest to join along and they agreed happily.

Granted, this has only been week one, but I can already tell a difference. The program is pretty simple and gradual. I am using a program I found on the web We also have the benefit of having lots of room here on the property to run.

I was reluctant to blog about this adventure, but then I decided "what the heck!" I figure maybe someone out there was considering the same adventure and might need a little motivation.

I admit that I was surprised at the negative comments from people. Mostly everyone thinks it's crazy to run in the hot summer, but I reckon those folks would complain that winter would be too cold...there's always an excuse, right?

We actually run at 8:30 pm and finish with a jump in the pool. I am grateful for athletic swim suits that I can run in and that match my shoes:-)

Like most adventures we set out on, we discover people who are supportive and those nay-sayers who like to be negative. We dig our heels in and go for it, besides we want to be healthier for not only ourselves but our children.

Throw in some healthy eating habits and you have what I call affordable healthcare!


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Key West

Key West was everything we imagined.

Despite Tropical Storm Debbie recently causing some issues, the water was calm and pretty when we arrived. There was no shortage of sailboats or houseboats or any kind of boats because the city is surrounded by coral reefs and that means fabulous water conditions most of the year.

It was kind of like being home due to the wild chickens that are everywhere. In the evening the roost in trees along the sidewalk and in the morning they crow.

We stayed in Old Town at the Eden House , and I have to say that this place was absolutely wonderful. I have never seen such a friendly and helpful staff. It's not a huge place, but smaller and more personable. When we arrived at check-in the staff handed us a cold beer and showed us around the facilities. The afternoons consisted of a complimentary happy hour poolside and the chance to visit and meet the other guests. One of the many things I liked about Key West is that EVERYONE was super nice. If you ever get the chance to visit Key West, stay at the Eden House. The rates are reasonable and it is within walking distance to Duval Street and Mallory Square and several local spots and pubs.

Of course we had to watch a sunset so we walked to Mallory Square. Even though the island blocked some of the sunset, it was still breathtaking. Next time we will take a sunset cruise and see the sunset from the water.

I even spotted some honey bees. These privet looking bushes were blooming and smelled wonderful, and the bees seemed to enjoy them as well.

Ahhhh, vacation. An adult vacation. A few days to sleep in, take naps, sit by the pool to relax, take a snorkeling trip, eat at great pubs, and literally have no agenda. No schedule. No planned excursions.

Key West is a little piece of paradise. The weather is great, the water is warm, the food is fantastic and the people are friendly. One aspect that particularly stands out is the fact that everyone is accepting of others.

There were people of many ethnic backgrounds, racially mixed couples, and gays. Never , not once, was anyone made to feel different. It was a town where everyone was welcome, everyone was a friend. I wish all cities and towns across the country were like Key West.

So now we are home and life on the farm continues with record-breaking heat and lots of animals to keep cool. We got it, no problem.

Today, however, we have friends and family over for some pulled pork BBQ and some time at the pool. It is the 4th of July and as Americans we celebrate!

I hope you all have a happy and safe 4th! I will be back Friday. I close with a few more pictures of the fabulous Key West Vacation!

Happy Independence Day!

Monday, July 2, 2012

City Kids Homeschooling: Guest Post

Good Happy Monday Morning!

I don't know about where you all are, but here in North Georgia it has been HOT, HOT, HOT! We spent the weekend keeping our pastured birds cool and happy, though, because that's how we do things here.

I have some pictures from my fabulous vacation in Key West, but I am saving those for later in the week. Today I am guest blogging at City Kids Homeschooling. 

Hop on over and check it out! I am sure you will find lots of cool things to read about over there, so drop over and give me and Kerry a "Hello!"
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...