Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The things of June

These days of summer have been so full and good. Many days have been rainy and soggy, but we take full advantage of those peeks of sun.

The alternating sun/rain has proven to do wonders to our gardens. Things are growing like crazy out there! My cucumber and zucchini plants are FULL of blossoms. The snaps peas are climbing high and full. We've been enjoying greens, onions, herbs, and radishes for weeks now. The only things suffering are the kale (boo) and the spinach. This is not because it's not growing, but, rather, because we seem to have a mischievous bunny rabbit enjoying its fill of those things. (big boohoo)

And the cherries? Oh the cherries! Not counting the many we've popped into our mouths, we have picked and frozen four gallons of cherries from our one little cherry tree so far. I borrowed a cherry pitter off of my friend Carmen over the weekend and spent at least an hour pitting and freezing cherries. I'm definitely investing in a cherry pitter. That was one nifty gadget that saved me so much time. In the past, I've always manually pitted them with my hands. This was so much faster and handy!

Our precious Midi contracted Lyme's Disease. I'm constantly pulling ticks out of that poor dog (not to mention our own bodies.) She was acting miserably sick last week. I waited and when she was still ill on the third day, I took her to the vet. She tested positive for Lyme's. She's been on an antibiotic now since last Friday and is back to her normal, energetic self.

The goats have settled in wonderfully. Oh do I love those little things! They are so fun, so affectionate (and also so mischievous!) They love attention. As soon as they see me out on the back deck in the morning, they start bleating and calling for attention. It's very endearing. What they probably really want is some hay, but I like to think they want to see me!

My little chicks are getting big. Our original ones that I purchased back in the early spring are now full-grown and are starting to lay eggs. The younger two batches are growing up. It's still a bit early for me to know which ones are roosters and which are hens (in the batch that we hatched.) I have my suspicions though. Some of those little ones are quite fiesty!

The kids found a boxer turtle in our back field yesterday. Oh my word, was it cute. I just can't help myself around things such as these. I really, really wanted to keep it as a pet because it was just so precious (as did the kids), but I told them that it was best that we put it back where we found it so it can go back to its home. I just could hardly stand that little face and those little feet!

I'm working on multiple yarn projects. I'm still working away at growing my stack of dishcloths. They're quick and, more importantly, practical. They're the only dishcloth I use anymore. They're sturdy and tough and pretty. I won't need all of the ones I have made so I will gift some and sell some in my booth this fall. I'm also crocheting this beautiful Alpine Frost Scarf. I typically have never enjoyed lacework in the past, but this is a nice, slow project. It's an easy stitch although it looks complicated and intricate. I adjusted the pattern so that it's double the width that the pattern called for so it will be more of a shawl than a scarf. Yesterday, I casted on a Low Tide. This Low Tide pattern by cabinfour is wonderful! It's an easy pattern, very meditative. I can sit there and knit and think or listen to Middlemarch on Audible without getting lost in the pattern.   I'm using Cascade Yarn's 100% Peruvian sport weight yarn for this shawl.

I'm so excited to be able to attend the Beth Moore conference in Cincinatti this weekend. It's a LONG drive, 5.5 hours one way to be exact. We're leaving early Friday morning and will return Saturday night. My mom, sisters, and best friend are attending. It'll be a nice girls' weekend, and I love her conferences. They're so solid and Biblical. I've always come away encouraged and challenged when I've attended her conferences in the past. Since I'm driving, I took a couple of hours last evening to clean out our extremely messy car. Again, I was reminded why I do not want a new vehicle. Kids are hard on car interiors!!!! I did my best though. Vacuumed, dusted, scrubbed, wiped down windows. It's as good as it's going to get, ladies!

I hope you're all enjoying your summer. I know that ours has been very busy, but is starting to slow down a bit which is so nice. Maybe we'll have some of those lazy days of summer they all talk about? 

Monday, June 15, 2015

finished things...

We quite successfully survived the week of Bible school, and I am on the other side of that darned cold that plagued me all last week. Just a few more days, and I think I'll be top notch again.

With the end of Bible school, homeschooling, and planting, I'm really looking forward to doing some domestic things in the house. Our house has definitely been neglected in the midst of all of our busyness.

A big part of the problem is that everyone has gotten into the habit of not putting things away when they are finished with them. The youngest little creative spirit is the worst at this. She sprinkles her little messes wherever she goes, and if I don't nag her to put them away, there they remain. But, honestly, we're all guilty of it. And as the mother, I'm learning that I need to train my kids to be neat. It's not necessarily something that comes naturally to everyone. Brad declared a 45 minute clutter-clean-up session after church yesterday. After about 30 minutes of everyone working together, our house looked amazingly tidy, and I felt like I could breath a bit easier.

So I intend to do some more domestic fluffing this week. Cleaning. Laundry. And I really hope to do a little baking. We have a tree-full of sour cherries, and I'm really feeling the urge to bake a rustic cherry pie (making a gluten free crust, of course, so I can indulge in it too!)

So onto the finished projects...

We've had Candy and Licorice (our Nubian goats) for a week now. After about three days, I finally got the hang of milking and felt confident enough in my skills to start keeping the milk for our family to consume. Brad and the kids are enjoying the milk (I'm not able to drink much because of the lactose), and I have plans to make some cheese very, very soon (my fridge is filled with quarts of milk!).

I have been milking right on the ground, and besides this hurting my back immensely, I felt like it was more difficult to keep things sanitary. I knew that I wanted a milking stand, but I didn't want to add another task to Brad's growing to-do list.

Yesterday after church it began to rain and storm and continued to do so all day so Brad and Ian found their way out to the garage to do some woodworking. What they were really making was a goat milking stand for me. They finished it by evening, and now I have a really nice stand to use when milking.

I tried it out last night (in between storms and rain), and it worked great. This morning was another story. The goats were in a mood (as was I) and both goats ended up putting their hooves in the milk. Grrr. That might have made me just a bit grouchy, but the chickens and Midi were happy at their gain of a bowl full of fresh milk.

So I guess we're still figuring this whole goat-milking business out. I have found experimentation to be the most beneficial way for me to learn in the area of homesteading endeavors. And so I will go back to the drawing board and do some more research in order to find a way to make milking even more enjoyable and easier. But maybe we'll just have those ornery days (both the goats and myself) when we just want to stomp our hooves in the bowl of milk.

My finished project is my crocheted linen stitch scarf. I was going to originally do this in a knit linen stitch, but I found myself wanting a quicker project and crocheting is definitely faster than knitting for me. I love the look and the great thing about it is that the crochet linen stitch is reversible whereas the knit one is not. This yarn was dreamy to work with; one I'd definitely use again.

For now, this scarf is getting tucked away with all of my other handmade warm things. As much as I'm looking forward to wearing this one, I'm more than content to enjoy this scarf-less weather.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Farm-ish Things

I may not be that productive this week thanks to this lovely cold virus that has me moving at snail pace, but the creatures and plants outside of the four walls sure have been.

Here come the cherries, oh yes, here they come. Last year's harvest was piddly. The year prior to that produced a massive harvest. I had heard that cherries experience biennial harvests, meaning that they will have a good harvest one year, a small one the next, a good one, a small one, and on and on. That's proven true here. The cherries on this tree are sour and great for desserts. We pop them off the tree and right into our mouths because we like the tartness of them, but they definitely have sour going for them. We do have several sweet cherry trees in the fruit orchard in the back, but those trees are still young and aren't producing much of anything yet. I was excited to see that we have fruit buds on all of the fruit trees (apples, plums, peaches, and cherries) in the orchard this summer. This is the first summer that we've had any. 

We've got chickens galore. In fact, I need a carpenter to come donate some time and build me a bigger chicken coop. My poor husband. I think we're wearing him out with all of our plans. I really wish I had the construction know-how like he does. He can pretty much build anything. Me? Yeah, definitely not my strong point. At all. We have 32 hens, 1 rooster, and 9 unsexed chicks. I'm still waiting to see what those youngest nine are going to be, although I do have some guesses since they're getting older now and starting to show some signs of gender.

I'm afraid that I may bore you with goat photos over the next couple of weeks. Oh do I love them! They're so fun and sweet. And I love their little "baahs, maahs," they make when they want something. I'm so used to my alpacas. Our relationship with the alpacas is definitely on their terms, and they never want touched. But these goats, oh my, they are affectionate and sweet and love having our attention. It's so different than raising alpacas. 

This goat business has not been without fatalities though. Despite our effort to box in one of our young white oak trees, the goats figured out how to get over the fence and eat the tree. Also, as you can see in the one photo above, 3/4 of one of my lilac bushes is gone. Eaten away. Needless, to say, we still have some goat-proofing to do!

The gardens are growing nicely. Although it's been a cool couple of weeks, we've been getting a nice mixture of rain and sun which means that the veggies are growing wonderfully. I am having a problem with a little wild rabbit who has taken the liberty of eating almost all of my kale (Grrrr) and my swiss chard. One of the challenges of gardening, I guess. Some of my herbs are big enough now that I'm going to begin drying them and storing them for the winter. I like to do that throughout the summer so I can have a nice supply built up. 

Thanks for all of the prayers for me! I'm still sick, but God has given me the strength to get through the evenings of Bible school. I will say that I'm not getting much done otherwise, though. I had a little bit more energy yesterday morning, did way too much, and was S-I-C-K last night. I'm definitely going to pace myself today.

Have a great day!