Be true to who you are…..

And the family name you bear……

Saturday, October 18, 2014


a baby boy is born...

We celebrate.

Because babies are fun.  Yet, in the birth of that baby there is a deeper purpose than chubby cheeks and dirty diapers.  A purpose chosen of God.  So we teach him to pray.   Pray not only for himself but the world he will someday influence and most of all the woman God will send to walk beside him.

While the years march on, we cherish his silliness.  We fight for him in his struggles.  And we always hold before him, his walk with the Lord...

We teach him that his Savior loves him, loves his children that will follow.  Teach him that the woman he chooses for a wife will directly impact the heritage that he is leaving behind.

 We see God's grace when a small stammering tongue asks for protection and a loving family for his wife, because he loves her even though he has not yet met her.

And are not surprised when she becomes so real to him that he sends her gifts over the space of time..

As he grows, his prayers become more specific. Lord, let her love children.  Lord, help her to keep herself pure that our marriage will glorify you. Lord, give us a goodly heritage.

And on he walks.... and waits.

Waits through his teen years while others tease and chide as to why he doesn't have a girlfriend yet.  After all "What's the matter with you?"

Shielding his heart from girls who were not taught better.

He walks with his eyes on Christ.  He fills his days with the glory of God's creation.

He waits past his nineteenth birthday

.... his twentieth.

 and the critiques intensify "People don't live like that anymore, Cody.".....

And yet he knows that while people change... the great I AM changes not.

Then one day God begins a friendship.  In one small space of time God honors all of his petitions and that friendship turns into so much more.

Pure is that relationship because Sarah has waited on the Lord too.

Their desire to keep Christ first is mutual...

Their love for children is shared.

The day has come for Cody to ask to court his bride, the answer is yes.

My heart is full of the Lord's goodness and mercy.  Thankful for His grace.

 The Lord's way is so very beautiful.

 May they always walk in it.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Add a Little Spice....

We finished up our lessons late one afternoon, I had a half hour before I needed to start dinner.  Not enough time to start many projects and too much time to allow my self the luxury of sitting around.  So I decided to head out to pick spice berries.

Me: Girls, I am going up top for spice berries. Do you want to come?

Grace: Sure, if I can drive!

Beth: I'll get some bowls.

Me: Great! but we only have a half hour, so let's get going.

We headed up with Grace in the drivers seat of the Rhino.  Shortly she stops to look at a turtle...

Me: Grace, half hour, sis.

On she goes... till we hit the cow pasture and she has to stop and chat with the cows and scratch the new calf behind the ear.

Me: Maybe, you should get out and when you are done checking the cows you can join us....

Giving a big old sigh, she takes off again.  Around the corner there are two LARGE cedar trees that have grown close together making passing between them next to impossible.  A new road is starting to form going around them.  Everyone else uses the new road, not Grace.  Giving a sharp punch to the accelerator, she plows through the branches and I let out a groan of complaint as the branches drag across my face and dry out my eyeballs, scratching and tearing at my hair.

Me: Grace! Normal people go around you know?

Grace: Say's the woman who only has a half an hour! I'm making up for lost time here!

Even minus my eyeballs we still managed to get a good picking of spice berries in a short amount of time, next time I won't hurry her like that. LOL!

If you are not familiar with the spice berry bush, you are in excellent company.  I staggered onto them quite by accident.  I found the berries while making my rounds checking the cattle pastures.  Not knowing what they were or if they were poisonous, I broke off a branch and sent it with the menfolk to the county extension office.  Such a pleasant surprise to find that the berries, bark and leaves are all useful!

Just a few fun facts:

Spice berries were substituted for allspice during the civil war.

The fruit, bark and leaves all have medicinal qualities.

The bark and leaves make a wonderful aromatic tea.

After we harvested the berries we rinsed them in cool water and placed them in our dehydrator over night.

The smell is heavenly!  To preserve the quality of the berry we freeze them after dehydration but it is not necessary and they do look pretty in a jar on the shelf.

Using spice berries is not as convenient as picking up ground allspice from the store. They need to be ground fine and are a bit sticky after being ground.  I place them in the blender and once they are pulverized I add the sugar required in the recipe to the blender and pulse it a few times. This will draw it all together and help clean the blender.
The inconvenience is minor, however,  when one thinks that  A) the berries are free, while spices are expensive and B) It is natural (non GMO, non hybrid, non anything if you will) and organic, growing on our place with no other hands touching it but ours.   I am sure that should have a C,D, and E in there but you get the picture.

I wanted to try the new berries right away so I sent Andrew to the garden to find a ripe pumpkin..

Pumpkin pie can take a long time when you make the ingredients from scratch...... :)

But once the pumpkin was cooked down and the berries dehydrated we were in business!

 I am not a winter person but I see many cold days spent experimenting with our new found gift in our future!  Thank you Lord, for making your creation so much fun!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lying In Green Pastures....

Is this scary?

No? Okay, how about this?

I didn't think so either.... but, my cows...... my cows, they thought differently.  You see for the last two years they had lived on a little 16 acre pasture.. In this pasture they had grown together as a herd, here they were fed hay when the grass grew short, here they birthed and raised their babies.  Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter they lived their lives and had grown VERY comfortable where they were.

Enter now our plan for rotational grazing... We had spent the entire Spring fencing the perimeter of our property and were ready to rotate the cattle to the back pasture for summer grazing.  It was beautiful.. Lush grass and hanging grape vines over head~ cow paradise~ everything they could ever want just waiting to be munched by my ladies. I was filled with excitement as I walked along making sure all was safe for them when we turned them in the next day. It was going to be perfect.

But you know.... it wasn't.

 The next day, as our entire family gathered at the fence with grain bucket in tow, the cows became nervous.

When the gate swung open wide...

they balked.

 NO cow had ever gone out into the orchard before....and here we were trying to coax them past the orchard and down the lane...

Shane, tired of their hesitation, jumped on the four wheeler and tried to shove them through.....

 the cattle scattered.

Over and over we tried different tactics. What a fiasco! Every critter on four feet was scared and every critter on two was ticked.

 I wished at that moment that I could speak cow, I knew if I could just tell them of the deep, thick grass that was growing out back they would come. I had SEEN with my own eyes, great things waiting for them but they couldn't see anything wonderful from where they stood.  All they could see was us standing there,

 the gate,

the four wheeler,

the new road...

and all of it scary.

After an hour of running in circles, I called it off for the day and decided Andrew and I would try it alone the next day.

As we walked out the next morning I explained to Andrew that we would have to take them as they came... if only one cow followed the bucket, then we'd move them one cow at a time.  Under NO circumstance were we to go back for stragglers. Under no circumstance would we yell or use the 4 wheeler.

We braced ourselves for an all day ordeal.

To my surprise when Andrew shook the grain bucket, all ears came forward.  Andrew walked straight into the herd, showing off the grain as I opened the gate. They were totally focused on the bucket and on Drew. One cow stuck her head in the bucket and started a shoving match with another... Low and slow I say to Andrew "Run, Son."

Turning his back as if to hide the grain, he calls " C'mon cows!" and off he ran like a bullet from a gun, through the orchard gate and up the lane just as fast as he could go. (You would too if you had nineteen 1,200 pound animals running after you ;).  Everyone followed, oblivious to where they were,  focused only on the bucket and Andrew. Up the trail and to the back they went.

Only when they had eaten all the grain did they stop to look around at their new surroundings, surprised at where they were, they began to eat and rest in the lush grass.  Life became so simple when we all had the right focus.

Stuuuuuuupid cows right?  Let me ask you something.....

How is it with you, Christian?  

When the LORD asks you to follow Him, where do your eyes turn?  To the circumstances around you?  The strangeness?  The people watching?  To the unknown?

Do you understand, He has seen the other side.  He has complete view of the path, He's even walked it to make sure it is safe..  more than that he promises to lead you without fear if you will only turn your eyes on Him.....

Ride on, ride on triumphantly,
Thou glorious Son ride on!
Thy faithful children bravely take
The road that Thou hast gone..

I have no cares, O blessed Christ!
For all my cares are Thine;
I live in triumph, Lord!
For Thou hast made Thy triumphs mine.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Have you heard? We have a Pond!

Our home is obsessed with our pond, every free moment has been spent researching and planning.  We talk about our pond, we talk about talking about our pond....





Hey, there is a lot to learn before we get our fish on the 16th.

Drew, a few days ago found a publication on water quality and how to improve it.  One test seemed pretty straight forward.  Collect a sample of water in a glass jar, leave undisturbed for two days and see what settles to the bottom.  Easy Peasy!

Well, we took our sample, labeling it pond water we set it on the counter to begin the count down.

Day 1....

Day 1 and a 1/2 ..... safe

The eve before we get to peek... I walk into the kitchen to find Cody shaking the jar like a little boy would shake a snow globe....

"hey Ma, what's this?"

shake, shake, shake.  As he totally concentrates on the particles floating in the water I say....

"Oh, you know, just a water sample that we took from the pond.  It had to sit for two days to let the stuff settle to the bottom and we were going to look at it tomorrow.........."

As the realization of what I was saying sinks in, Cody's snow globe transforms into a stick of dynamite and he gently places it on the counter, slowly backing away.

"Sooooo, two days from right this second would be Saturday?"

I nod, switching off the light,  now having a better understanding of why some animal mommas just up and eat their young.

Unfortunately, Saturday is no better.  On Saturday I am washing dishes and ask Shane to run a bottle of sugar water out to the hive close to the house.  I noticed they were a little low on feed and want to keep them in good shape for a Spring split...  Like the sweetheart he is, he says "Sure" and grabs.. guessed it.... my bottle of pond water.

"Oh, not that! The sugar water is over here!"

Shake Shake Shake... "What's this?"

"Nothing"  I say as I dump it down the sink...

Those fish are just going to have to live in whatever is out there because that jar is interrupting the peace and tranquility of my soul and home.. Nuff said.

On a funnier note, we've all been discussing what kind of fish we want in our pond as well.  Grace decided that we should have Sea Horses!  She even went as far as to find some for sale on eBay.  I was proud of the other children because, without laughing  (I can't say the same for me), they explained that "Sea" Horses had to have salt water to live.  Undaunted, she calls on Mr. Google to see if the people she lives with knew what they were talking about.  Turns out the Sea Horse has a fresh water cousin called a  Syngnathid..... who knew?  It looks kinda like a Sea Horse, kinda like a Sea Dragon... But as she triumphantly scrolled through the pictures her expression changed and to my relief she no longer wants them in our pond.  In her own words "they are so ugly, they would haunt my dreams!"  Whew! We dodged a bullet there......

At any rate, the fish will be here next week!  We have a Weeping Willow sitting here waiting to be planted when the goats are moved to their summer pasture.  We picked up a few pussy willow twigs at the Swap Meet  in March and are rooting them for the edge. Our Brandy Wine Crab Apple should be here shortly and if I could just find a few cattail starts we would be all set!!!  Cannot wait to see how this all plays out!  Pictures will follow!!!

Friday, February 28, 2014


In this post I am going to assume that you already know the wonderful benefits to growing geraniums in your garden. If you don't, a quick google search should bring you up to speed but it is safe to say that geraniums are a repellent.  If you have a bug problem in your garden, nine times out of ten you will find geraniums as a good companion plant to repel it.  My husband would tell you that it repels humans too as he hates the smell of them.  We are very careful not to perform this activity when daddy is home. :)

Why grow your own? Well, because....

1) Geraniums are expensive.

2) when you are caring for a family my size you soon learn to despise paying for anything twice.

3) growing your own helps  insure a supply.

4) during the dark grey of winter it is nice to have something as stubborn as you blooming in defiance.

so here is how I solve my need for geraniums...

When my daughters were young I took them to the store and allowed them to pick out two geraniums each, from those "mother plants" I have kept my garden in supply of this God given repellent every year since.

During the winter my geraniums sit on the window sill and are allowed to do what ever they wish.. usually they wish to grow long and stringy and bloom.

 It's a jungle in there...

The girls need a haircut..... I try to imagine the little starts you find at the greenhouse. and clip them off the main plant. On the baby... I will not be scientifically correct in my speech here ~I want to leave just enough leaves to allow the new plant to photosynthesize but not big ones that would over tax the new plant by trying to support it, See how I have plucked the cut end bare, that will be the root system.  DO NOT throw the extra leaves away. I'll show you what to do with them later.

Now, if ( and that's a big if) I have the money or left over product from the year before I like to use cloning gel from Worm's Way. (no they didn't pay me to say that, but if they wanted to that'd be okay too..) It causes them to sprout roots faster but it is not necessary. If I don't have gel I will often shave pieces from a willow tree and stick them in the dirt with my cutting. (Willows have amazing growth hormones) And if I don't have either I still stick those puppies in the dirt and get new geraniums anyway... don't over think this.

The babies are then placed in the dirt and kept WELL watered. I try to start them when I start my tomato and pepper seeds.

The blossoms are placed on the table for one last hurrah.

And those leaves that I told you not to chuck are placed in dishes of water and kept watered until they sprout or die... I will have both.  Law! would you look at that woman's widow? Somebody should make her get the spring cleaning done... who's brave enough to try and drag her away from the garden right now...anyone?

One thing I would like to point out is a geranium will eventually get old and you don't want to be left without mother plants. Usually when they start to turn woody on the bottom and crack you should replace the mother with one of the new babies in the fall.. I don't know if this picture will show it well....

I may replace this one in the fall or keep it and and add an additional one.. we'll have to see how I feel. :)

The ladies with their new hair cut, waiting to spend the summer on the porch.... my rule of thumb is take half /leave half. I could have cut a little more and I still may but for now I think I have enough babies.

And that, my friends, is as simple as it gets. Plant your new babies in with your garden plants and you are done.