Wednesday, July 24, 2013


So I wanted to make a blueberry pie and I really wanted to use lard in my crust.
I really needed to see how difficult it was to render lard.
I do, after all, have 35 pounds of pork fat in the freezer.

I decided that my trusty ol' crock pot was the way to go. 6 pounds of chopped up fat thawed and placed in the crock pot with just a small amount of water on bottom to keep the fat from scorching.

I placed the knob on low heat and went to bed.

By morning (about 6 hours later) I had a beautiful yellowish-clear liquid and fat cracklings.

Oh, and it did smell interesting. Pork fat has a way of smelling less than yummy.

Next is to strain the liquid lard. I think the easiest way is to secure cheesecloth under a band onto a jar like above. Ladle the liquid and allow it to cool. I ended up with 2 quarts of lard. I placed one in the freezer and one in the fridge. It turns a beautiful white once it is cooled.
I made a wonderfully delicious  pie the next day.

Now, those cracklings can be cooked further until they are crispy and then you can eat them plain or on a salad, etc. After cooking them for a few more hours I was becoming very tired of the pig fat smell. I took the crockpot outside and poured all its contents into dog dishes. My doggies loved it!!!

Let's mark that one off the list of things I must learn to make. Mmmmmm....lard!


Last day to vote for Circle of Moms Top 25 Moms of Big Families! Please send me a vote!


What new things are you wanting to learn to make??

Monday, July 22, 2013

Sweet Ivy

The weekend was spent organizing the freezers, cleaning the front porch and bringing our new addition home.

This is Ivy. She is a two week old heifer calf. She is a Jersey. She is incredibly sweet.

Stella had warmed up to her nicely and they have become friends. Cow friends.

She has been enjoying the fresh air and grass, although she is still drinking fresh milk and will be for a couple more months.

She spends a large part of her day running and bucking and kicking. Indiana has done such a nice job halter training Stella that I have put her in charge of doing the same for sweet Ivy.

She will make a great family milking cow in a few years and we are excited to have her in the family!


Circle of Moms is winding down in their Top 25 Moms of Big Families contest! I have been thrilled and honored to be included with so many fabulous moms! Will you please hop over and give me vote?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Hand that Rocks the Cradle

There are many challenges and blessings that come with staying home to care for your kids.
Many women, even in this day and age of "progression" face the wrath of friends and family who think staying at home is not what a modern day woman should be doing with her time. What good was the women's movement if it meant women should only work outside the home? That's just as oppressive as making all women stay home. Liberation is just that: freedom to decide for one's self.

**Fletcher getting dirty and playing with tools**

Then there is the entire living on one income challenge. Families really sacrifice and budget to keep mom at home, although I think most moms at home would agree that it is well worth it!

Of course there is the lack of adult conversation and the lack of personal time. Women have conquered that challenge with play dates, girls' nights out, and structured naptimes for the kids. I think date nights with a spouse lighten this load as well.

There is one thing about choosing to stay home and raise my kids that really gets me. It gets me good.

                                 ****Rose learning to bake brownies from scratch****

It always leaves me frustrated and scratching me head. Always.
I am referring to those many, many times I have had to make a phone call to say the mortgage company or the phone company...something like that.
I am always told "Sorry, we can only discuss this account with the person on the account."
Translation: they want to speak with my husband.
Do they not know that I am the person handling all of these papers and bills? I am the designated secretary of the house??

Now, I have my name listed on almost everything along with my sweet man but occasionally we have had to purchase in his name only.
You know why? I have no credit.

Sure I have a couple of store cards that I purchase with and pay off at month's end. That is supposedly supposed to help but you know what? It doesn't.

I have "no job."

Then there are those letters you periodically get from the Social Security office that really points out your worth (at least in the Us Governments' eyes). It lists your income and your spouses income since forever ago. Then it tells how much you will supposedly get back one day.
My column is nothing but a bunch of zeros. Nothing, Nada.

I have "no paychecks."

This is when you realize that staying home raising children and educating children is not a job in the eyes of the world. This is true also in the eyes of many people in the world.

This is when you decide to tell the world you don't care what they think or what they don't see.

This is when you scrub your house, mend clothes, prepare meals, budget the groceries and accept the fact that you may never get what the world thinks is worth getting.

But that's okay.

You are very important, crucial in fact. You are raising the next generation and that is not a job just anyone can do. That is not a task for the faint of heart.
That is a task, a job, only a strong, focused, and compassionate woman can endure.

That is a calling worth more than all the paychecks and credit scores in the world.

If you are ever in doubt, drop me an email and I will explain to you again how important you are as a stay at home mom or a home school mom.

A friend of mine always says the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.

I tend to agree:-)


Circle of Moms has nominated me to the Top 25 Moms with Large Families.

I would love to boast their badge on my blog in 2013. Will you please hop over and vote for me?
Voting ends in 9 days.

Monday, July 15, 2013

She's a Rock Star

Well, she's not really a rock star, but she did perform in her first rock concert this past weekend.

It can sometimes be a challenge when you have 7 kids and they all seem to have amazingly different interests.
Indiana loves guitars.
She got an acoustic guitar a few years ago for Christmas and began taking lessons from a local instructor. It was great for the first year, but then it got boring for her.

I contribute much of the boredom to playing boring songs over and over and over again. There was no variety and certainly no goal to strive for in her playing.

                                                          **Indiana at guitar lessons**

Last Christmas she got an electric guitar. She really loved it and wanted to learn but her instructor was reluctant.
Last spring we decided to quit and look for something with a better fit and that would allow her to expand her desire to play.

6 weeks ago we found Rock Skool Chattanooga and its instructor/owner Mark Ferguson.

                                        **Indiana and Mark Ferguson after the concert**

6 weeks ago Indiana met the instructor at an Open House. She was apprehensive and unsure of herself. She left that day excited and just a few days ago she was playing her electric guitar to the well known song "Wild Thing." The Troggs Song.
Mark is a fabulous instructor and he also teaches the drums, bass and keyboards! He knows how to get kids excited and motivated!

They had a concert at the Teen Center inside the Chattanooga Library. Yes, a LOUD concert in the library! It drew crowds from every floor of the building and by the end people were dancing and clapping.

                                  **Indiana's performance. She is on the right. **

The group of about 15 students played well known rock songs by Black Sabbath, Kiss, Pink Floyd, The Beatles and even Metallica. Oh how I loved those bands when I was a teen.

Now, I now there are some in the mostly conservative home school community who would frown on such music being played by a young girl. I know some folks who only let there kids listen to and play classical music or worship music.....of which are also very beautiful.

My child, my Indiana likes rock. I liked rock and still do. In fact one of my favorite Pandora channels is Van Halen.
I think my child has found a niche for herself and that makes me happy. She certainly found a large chunk of self confidence the last 6 weeks. She has a goal learn new songs for upcoming concerts. She is playing with other kids and learning all that goes into performing together as a band.

                                           **The group of Rock Stars after the concert!**

Yep, she's a rock star.

**If you are local and want more information on Rock Skool go check out his website! He has openings for more students.
You can also find him on Facebook.


I have been nominated by Circle of Moms to be in the Top 25 Moms of Large Families.
It is an honor to be included with so many fabulous mothers and bloggers.
Will you please send a vote my way? Just look for My Barefoot Farm.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Nitty Gritty

Tomorrow is chicken processing day.

No, not these birds. The pastured broilers.
I have raised them the exact same way as last year, using the Joel Salatin model for pastured poultry.
This year, however, I used a non-GMO, certified organic broiler feed. It. Was. Expensive.

It also didn't have the best results for growth, It used split peas for protein and the birds just didn't like the peas. I had to run them an extra week for growth and then the rain came.

It has rained every day for the last week. The ground is saturated and the creeks and rivers are flooded.
Today the sun came out between storms and as a result the humidity is very, very high. The air is almost as thick as the grass.
The pasture is sprouting mushrooms.
The bugs were out in full force. The cicadas are singing along with the toads.
It feels like summer in Georgia.

This evening we have been preparing for the long and busy day tomorrow.
The birds cannot be fed tonight so I gave them fresh water and moved their pens to a fresh spot of grass. They will have the grass eaten  down by morning.
They are all healthy birds.

Part of prepping includes meal preparation for the next day. I have divided chores and duties amongst the children.
The oldest, Journee, will help with the chicken processing.
The next oldest, Quinn, doesn't like the hands on farm processing. That is fine because I will need her to prepare meals and take care of the young children, as well as keep up house chores.
Number three child, Indiana, and number four child, Willow, will milk the cow and do all of the morning chores with the hens and cows.
Later they will help by bringing the chickens to us as we process.

I made sure that we had some food in the house, and then I prepared some easy and quick snacks such as jello and fruit cups. Fletcher was happy to watch and help in the kitchen!

That is how I organize and prepare for the long 12 hour day we will likely have tomorrow.
Devin is putting up his large canopy so that we will have cover in case it......rains:-)

It's the nitty gritty of raising pastured poultry.


Circle of Moms has again nominated My Barefoot Farm into the Top 25 Mom of Large Families contest.
It is an honor to place the badge on this blog. Will you please vote HERE? You can vote once a day.
Thank you!

Monday, July 8, 2013

What I've Learned: Large Family Facts

This isn't a complete list and I am sure the list varies for every family, but I thought I would post some lessons I have learned from having a large-ish family.
Feel free to comment with more!

1. Boys are different from girls. My boys tend to climb more and throw things more than my girls ever did (even with a couple of tom boys). Although it could just be "my boys", but they also clogged the toilet many more times with toys. In fact, Devin bought extra wax rings to keep handy so he can pull a toilet up anytime of the day or night when needed. Those Thomas trains just do not flush!

2. Sometimes popcorn, colby cheese chunks and sliced apples make a fine dinner. Even the most organized menu plan can fall apart and there are those occasional (sometimes not so occasional) nights when cooking a meal is the last thing you want to do. Freshly popped corn goes great with cheese and apples. You might even throw in a quilt on the floor for a picnic and a movie. I bet you will not hear any complaints!

3. The laundry is never DONE! The best you can expect is that the laundry is "caught up." Caught up usually means that there are only 2 or 3 loads waiting to be washed. If you ever think you have completely washed everything, I suggest you look behind the bathroom door, in the kids' closets and maybe under a few beds. After looking around you will likely only be caught up on laundry.

4. Matching towels and wash cloths just aren't that important. As long as it is clean and reasonably decent (that's a wide definition too) then it can be folded and placed in the linen closet for use. I used to be fussy about matching linens and towels but now I realize that it's not important and nobody cares. The kids love the faded sponge bob towel with the bleach stain as much as any towel in the house. Time to choose function over beauty when you have 9 people taking baths or showers each day.

5. Each child is beautifully unique. I have so many different personalities amongst my 7 and it really is neat! Although we do expect chores to be done by al family members, we can sometimes adjust some chores to fit a child's interest or strength or personality. What a boring family we would be if we all were the same.

6. You can make lists and carefully planned schedules for your home school year, but it will never fall exactly into place. The biggest cause for home school burnout is the frustration of the "school plan" not going as you hoped. Educating at home includes not only academics but also the young siblings, the diaper changes, the spilled milk on the floor, the broken refrigerator and anything else that can possibly happen when you are living a life. I still craft a schedule but it's very loose and flexible to allow for all those "things" that will eventually happen throughout the day.

7. On those really bad days, it's OK to forget your schedule and just let the kids play. There are those occasional days when kids are cranky, mom and dad are cranky, and things just are not working out. It is not the end of the world to forget formal school lessons and spend the day outside, or reading books, or taking a family nap. Just do what will change the day around to a more positive leaning and start fresh the next day. Really, it's not a  big deal .

8. Kids need to go to bed at a reasonable time. Period. Not only do kids need their rest (and this includes teens) but parents need to have a few hours alone without the kids. I think bedtimes are a must for all families but especially for large families. It allows me to work on a project, read a book or watch a movie with Devin.
9. Date nights are important. In fact I think dates with your spouse should be a priority over ANY child's activities. This is not to say your child should miss an activity, but rather if you do not have times for dates because your family's schedule is too busy then you need to get rid of some activities to make time for your spouse. Dates do not have to be elaborate or expensive, and in fact they can even be at home dates. The point is to spend time with your spouse. One day your kids will be grown up and out of the house so you best make sure you nurture the relationship with your other half now. Many marriages have fallen apart after the kids moved out and the husband and wife no longer felt they had a reason to stay together. Date nights!!!! I prefer once a week but will sometimes space it out 10-12 days, depending on Devin's work schedule.
10. You will never get everything done that needs to be done in a day. Don't be hard on yourself. When you combine children, meals, laundry, school, husband, projects, housework, grocery shopping, etc, you just cannot possibly accomplish it all! Decide what is a priority and save the rest for later. Sometimes the priority needs to be sitting on the porch and hanging out with your kids or playing a board game. Those sticky spots on the kitchen floor? Well, I bet they can wait until tomorrow...or Friday to clean up:-)  Just always remember that it is okay to not get your entire list marked off at the end of the day.
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