Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Wayward Tooth Fairy

Back when we had only a couple of kids, we had a really great tooth fairy. She always managed to sneak in while the children were fast asleep and trade a baby tooth for 2 shiny quarters. She had another fabulous quality too: She was always prompt!

As our family grew, her reliability waned. It would not be uncommon to find a tooth still sitting in a child's room the next day. I guess she had a really busy night sometimes...or maybe she was extra tired and dozed off to sleep before 9pm.

Whatever the issue was, the children could get her to come back the next night if they would draw for her a pretty picture. This was, of course, my suggestion.

"Oh! I bet if you draw her a pretty picture she will come back with 3 or 4 shiny quarters!"

It always worked. The tooth fairy has quite a collection of pretty pictures, most of them have dollar signs drawn on them too. My kids are so very subtle with their hints.

Fast forward to present day. The tooth fairy has a fairly easy job these days. She no longer has to find a tooth in a dark bedroom. No, that was becoming too much of a chore to walk upstairs and sneak around the bedroom. These days the kids use a cute little chicken treasure box to place their tooth inside. It even sits majestically on the kitchen counter for all to see (and hopefully not forget)!

Rose lost a tooth last night and she placed it inside the chicken box for the tooth fairy. The tooth fairy had Rose's tooth on her mental list of things to do during the night.
I really don't know exactly when the tooth fairy became so wayward, but it happened, nonetheless. I try not to focus on negatives anyway.

Oh that wayward fairy! She somehow forgot to pick up the tooth and leave 2 shiny quarters. Poor Rose!
Of course I reminded Rose that the fairy really enjoyed pretty pictures, and I urged Rose to get busy with a drawing. I suppose even Rose is a little tired of the tooth fairy antics, because she didn't even want to bother with using crayons for her picture. Take THAT wayward tooth fairy!

Hopefully the tooth fairy will make an early stop here to the house with 4 shiny quarters for Rose, assuming the snow storm doesn't keep her from making it to the house.
She really is a pathetic tooth fairy, Devin and I both agree, and we are both grateful our kids can be bought off with only quarters.

Happy Snow Day Ya'll!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Follow Through: Large Family Management

One of the most often asked questions I receive is about chores and how I manage to get things done.

I am not going to lie. I do get *lots* done in a day, but do not think for a second that *everything* needing to get done happens. My house is a disaster right now. I am waiting until spring weather, and we will take a week off to deep clean and organize.
The kids will be helping, of course. Chores are what keeps this house running smoothly.

Chores are part of life. Chores teach kids about responsibility and about contributing to the group. Chores build self confidence and allows one be an active member of the group.
Chores, which are part of a daily routine, should not be "paid chores."
Chores are what keep a mom sane. Seriously.

In this house I have a chore chart. It rotates weekly.

Rotating weekly will make sure the kids are learning all the chores and it also keeps them from feeling bored of the same chore. I have my oldest and youngest daughter paired up so the younger one can have a "mentor" as she learns. 

Now, in this house things such as making a bed, bringing down dirt laundry, cleaning the bedroom , etc are NOT consider chore chart chores. They are, instead, considered something that is done without a second thought. Wake up and make your bed. You shouldn't need a chart for that task.

I admit my chart is ready for a revamp too, as my oldest is in college and working a job. She is often times not here and the others must pick up the slack.

Outside and farm related chores are an entirely different ballgame. I have no chart for those chores. I have no sense of *fairness* or equal distribution either. Here's is how farm chores work: I decide who does what and things get done. It can change daily too.

Typically Quinn stays inside to clean the kitchen and filter milk while I head outside to milk cows. Indiana and Willow feed all the outside animals and fill water troughs. The young boys hang out with me while I milk. Even at their young ages, the boys learn quite a bit about cows and milking just by watching and talking to me.

There are, of course, days when I have so many projects in the works that I assign the milking chores to Indiana or Journee. Both girls are great cow milkers and I trust them to fill my shoes. Of course, there was a process of them learning this task. I taught them both how to milk so that I would have some back up. It is really nice for days when I am making a batch of cheddar!

Of course there is always the question of how I manage to get the kids on board with all of this work plus their school work. I have a simple answer: Follow through.

Follow through is the most powerful weapon in the parenting arsenal. The kids learn quickly to follow through on their chores and responsibilities when you, as the parent, show them you have great follow through with punishment.

If I threaten to take away all electronic devices for a week due to lack of chore or school follow through on their part, trust me when I say I make good on my threats. I always follow through. Always. Even if it makes my life a pain in the bootie, I follow through.

The kids know I am serious because I have proven myself.

                               *The little ones playing a game before chores and school*

As with anything, your attitude will reflect on to the kids, so keep a positive attitude towards chores.....but always follow through. You'll be glad you did and so will your kids!

Happy Monday Ya'll!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Farming Realities

Today is officially a snow day. We only got a light dusting, but it is enough to excite the children and increase the farm chores just a bit.

Food and water are the two major requirements to keep livestock warm, and we spent a good part of the morning handing hay bales out. Tomorrow is supposed to be frigid, and so we will be well prepared.

I unexpectedly received a call from my meat processor this morning that he was on his way over to get my steer. Like the gusty, cold winter air this phone call hit me smack in the face.

                                               ***The ducks on the frozen pond***

I knew this day would come soon. Yum-Yum, the steer, was our first calf to be born here. The last two and a half years we have fed him, cared for him and allowed him a chance to live on open pasture with lots of grass. We knew from the start what his fate would be, but it is still difficult.

This is the most difficult part of farming. When I first bought my dairy cow, I accepted the fact that there are only two fates for a bull calf.

1. Sell him as a baby and he will likely be living a less than humane life before being processed.
2. Keep him and allow him a nice, humane life before processing.

We opted for #2. As with all of the animals we raise, humane treatment is a top priority.

There is simply no other way.

                                          **Free ranging hens enjoy a treat of scratch grains to stay warm**

Today reality meets farm life. The full cycle of life continues to show itself, as it always does when you raise farm animals.

I am trying my best to not get emotional or attached. I am reminding myself why we chose this life. Our freezer will be full with clean, organic beef in a few weeks.

                                       **Zeb carries this block of ice around and pretends it is a big diamond!**

Some days are pure bliss and some days are just tough. Time to focus on the good. There is no sense is dwelling on the sad.

The cows were wasting too much hay because we have been placing the bales on the ground. Devin built a corner hay feeder over the weekend and it is working nicely.

We still have several weeks of winter and even longer before decent grass starts growing. This hay feeder should help us waste less hay, since we do have a limited amount to get us through until spring.

I hope everyone is staying warm and safe! Winter will surely be over soon and then we will have tornado weather:-) Of course that only lasts a little bit and then summer will here. I am ready for warm nights and cookouts with friends.

The meat chicks for pastured chicken will soon be ordered for an April delivery, and I really hope to get my raised garden beds back into shape!

Happy Hump Day Ya'll!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Grand Opening!

Ok, so it isn't a HUGE grand opening, but I do have 1 item in my shop now.

A few weeks ago I found this beautiful candy skull fabric and knew I had to sew something with it!
I also have a fabulous purse/bag that I made last spring. Combine the two and you have a beautiful new purse!

The pattern is from Hunter Design Studios and is the Wee Chunky Bag.

Sam Hunter was kind enough to allow me to sell some of these bags in my Etsy Shop.

Lots of interior pockets make this bag especially useful. I can fit lots of chocolate and lip gloss into this know important things like that:-)

Anyway, I made 2 of these bags and they are in my shop. A girl has to start somewhere, right? Now to get busy and list a few more goodies I have made. Soaps will arrive as soon as they are finished curing!

Happy Friday Ya'll!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Just Another Lazy Day

So I have been incredibly busy these days! I have decided to go ahead and post a few items in my Etsy shop, although now I have to take good photos of my items.

We have also been busy with school and de-cluttering the house. That almost makes me think of de-cluttering a house with 9 people living in it.

My pile of unfinished projects is slowly getting smaller, if I can just keep from starting new ones. Haha...I am seriously laughing at myself right now.

Well, I thought it was past due for an update!

First, I have been trying to crank out some milk based soaps. This batch here has lemon grass and rosemary in it and it smells fabulous. 6 weeks to cure and there will be plenty of soaps to go around!

Friday I cleaned up my room, or rather the pile of junk that sits in the corner of the room. I came across some old Usborne books and all of the kids spent some time reading them, including the teens!

I found some cute skull fabric at the local quilt store and decided to make a new purse. You cannot tell from this low quality picture, but the skulls are bit sparkly. I made 2. One to keep and one will go on Etsy.

I am teaching classes in a local fiber studio and needed to hand dye yarn for a beginning crochet class this Saturday. Journee learned how to dye the yarn too and was a huge help to me! Next week we will hand dye some fingering weight yarns for use in embroidery.

Moving on to farm animals.... Flicka (the house lamb) never did adjust to being with sheep. She does love the calves though, so we keep her with all the bovine babies.  You can see that the calves love her equally as well. Molly, who has grown a ton, likes to lick and love on Flicka.

The baby steer who was so sick has made a full recovery! We still do not know for sure what happened. we assume it was a mineral deficiency and so we are very adamant about keeping good mineral salts out in a loose form for free choice. We are also keeping him locked up at night by himself so he can have lots of extra alfalfa and grain to munch on. We are hoping he will keep gaining some weight.

Winter here brings mucky, wet ground and no green grass. For this reason, I am letting the hens totally free range all winter. This works out very well and allows them to spend lots of the day scratching through hay and cow patties. The cows tend to create nice hay beds after they are done eating but the hens will help compost it up, spread it out and fertilize the ground. By late spring this ground will be green and lush.

A proper hay feeder is on our long list of things to build, but for now we just have to settle with hay on the ground. The ladies don't seem to mind. Right now Belle and Ivy are spending all of their time with the bull in hopes of being bred. I still need to get Penny and Valentine out there too before he leaves the farm.
Spring looks to be a busy one. We have a couple of big projects in the works, and that doesn't even include getting meat chicks!
I am grateful for NO SNOW this winter so far and hope I did not just curse myself:-)
Enjoy your day! I am making cheese today and finishing up school with the kids.
Happy Monday Ya'll!

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