Tuesday, August 12, 2014

And School Begins!

Well, yesterday was our first day of the 2014-2015 school year! I have 2 middle schoolers, and 2 grade schoolers... Time has flown by so fast!

As we start the year, I remember all of the things I love about homeschooling my children...

I love the flexibility. We had a BIG weekend with family this last weekend, and come Monday morning, I had 2 still in bed sleeping at 8 am. I'm a bit of a stickler and like them to begin school at 8 am, BUT I'm not without mercy! On those mornings after a big weekend with family, or a late week night by the campfire, I will let them sleep a bit longer. The rest of the time though, they are in bed by 8:30, and if they want to read for a little bit, they are allowed, but school starts at 8! Be up dressed, fed, and ready to go!!

I love seeing them excited about a new subject they never knew they liked, all because of a program that finally fit their needs. Last year was our first year ( in about 6 years) that we have done a true homeschool program (as apposed to the online school we had done the 2 previous years, and the homeschooling I had done for my older sons through their 1st grade/ Kindergarden years). And when picking out programs I really needed to find things that fit their needs and matched their personalities. Well, I hit the nail on the head with their math programs. I had all 3 using the program tell me how much they loved math now!! Awesome!! This year, it's spelling!! Wow!!! Nothing makes me more happy them their excitement about these subjects!

I love knowing exactly what they are studying. I know every single thing. I can answer questions, I can make them think deeper, I can test them outside the classroom with some practical applications, and we can go back and rework those things that didn't work out so great the first time... 

I love that they (and I) have more time. When my kids were in the brick and mortar school, they would get home at 4-4:30, they would get changed, sit down and have to start homework. Homework would sometimes last a short time, but would many times last an hour, maybe 2, and there were many times we worked on things until they went to bed, and a few times we even had to wake them up really early in the morning and try to complete it then! Ugh!! Now, my kids are typically done by noon, and they have the full gamit of subjects! That leaves time for my kids to be involved in soccer and for guitar lessons. It also leaves time for them to help out around the house with chores (yep, my kids work! And they don't get paid!). But most important thing is that they have time to play and be kids!! They can ride their bikes, they can play Legos, they can do a puzzle, or whatever! 

They are so many benefits. And I bet I can come up with many more great things I love about homeschooling, but the absolute best thing is that I get to be with my own kids! I know my kids. I know their personalities. I know their likes, their dislikes. I know how to connect to them, even though I have a teenager and a pre-teen! 

Are their hard things in homeschooling? You bet! And not everyday seems like a blessing but I can look back and say that it was, because I come out of a bad day usually learning something valuable.

So 2 days down now... Only 178 more til the next summer break! 😉

Friday, July 25, 2014

School Books, Canning, and Summer Madness!

Well, Sunday my son got some sort of 'bug' then gave it to me by Tuesday. Thank goodness it was only a headache with some body aches, but still it took 3 days of my life that could have been much better spent elsewhere, but God knows what He's doing and I trust there was a reason He slowed us down those days. And for that part of it, I'm thankful!

But the green beans and zucchini didn't slow down on those days... But, I'm not complaining. Gathering things from the garden makes me happy. And thankful that we are able to harvest and even can a little of this.  Like I mentioned in my previous posts, we started this year with a smaller garden. And smaller gardens mean less produce, so next year I'm going bigger!! I think with our mulching system, my husband won't flinch too much at that. In fact, this is the first year we've had a garden that he hasn't had to do ANYTHING in!  I did get some canning done last week with some green beans. I didn't get a lot but it's free, and it's more than I had! 

My blueberry (cherry type-heirloom) tomatoes are starting to ripen. I love their sweet taste! Can't wait until these start rolling! Other tomatoes are also coming along! Shortly, we will have lots of tomato juice, and maybe tomato paste! Maybe I'll just can the pizza sauce that I always whip up... Plans, plans... 

School books are also rolling in! We have most everything now except for 2 orders that should be in by Monday or Tuesday.  Boys are already getting excited. The older ones are less excited of course, but still excited. They just don't like to be tied down when it's so nice out!  Neither does their mother!! **shhhh!**

Tonight, we are going to have our last family dinner in the home that I grew up in. We moved there when I was 2, and that home raised 5 kids and has seen 12 grandchildren. But my parents aren't as young as they used to be, and moving means lots of new opportunities for them, as well as less work to take care of! So it's a great move for them. Next week, on Thursday and Friday, we will be moving most of their things. Pray for us that things go smoothly! 

Well, I suppose I better get back to the STUFF that awaits me!! I sealed some sugar in my FoodSaver, and it's just waiting to be put away, my canned green beans, are also waiting to be put away, laundry is almost done. Just waiting for clothes line space at this point. Need to sweep and dust yet. And get my dishes ready for dinner tonight. Goodness, seems like much more to type it out like that!! I Better get moving!! 

Everyone have a great weekend!!!!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Much to Catch Up On!

Has it really been since April that I posted? 

Since we got all of our mulch in place (gardens!) and started planting, things have seemed so busy! When summer FINALLY kicked in, it felt like there was so much to catch up on!

Well, things have gone pretty well overall! We just finished 4H, so I might have a bit more time for posting! 

Overall, chickens are doing great. Our layer hens started laying ( we have 5), and we are getting 5 eggs everyday. Almost everyday we get a 'double-yolker' from one of the hens, which excites the boys. They have some discussions on who will be one one to eat them!

For fair, we raised ( and sold) our 3 goats. I have always enjoyed having goats, but on our small property, we just can't keep them. Maybe someday, we can purchase land next to ours and keeps some, but for now, we can only keep them for 4H.   Our boys sold their goats at fair, so they are now gone.  We also raised meat birds for fair. We still have them (fair ended a week ago) but have a call in to a local Amish butcher to get them in soon. My husband can do the butchering but doesn't enjoy it, so we hire it out and it's not much more to have someone else do it. My husband has a more than full time job, and has gone 1-3 days a weeks helping my parents redo/ move into a 'new' home. They are both unable to do much/ any physical work, so he wants to bless them with help!  So, he is more than too busy! 

My garden has been doing great! We started off small this year to see how the mulching system would work. And honestly, it worked out great!!! Like I've posted before, we got free mulch from a local compost facility for free!! And we got a LOT! And thankful we did! It's kept me from having to do a lot of weeding! Oh, we've had some weeding but not even close to what I've done in previous gardens! And we are now pulling out produce from the garden. We've picked green beans, lettuce, and zucchini. I've also picked a few cherry type tomatoes. Next year, it will be bigger!!

I just canned some green beans also! I bought a pressure canner off of eBay several years ago, and am so glad to have it! Though it's starting to leak a bit ( seals are shrinking), it's always been a great canner.  Can't wait to get more done!

Well, besides some landscaping (from free plants and mulch!!), that's about it! I will post more soon on individual things. Until then, have a blessed and plentiful week!!

Monday, April 28, 2014

New on the Homestead

Moving from our 10 acre farm a year and a half ago, I wasn't sure we were going to be able to have another homestead. When we moved to this one acre plot, I was almost positive that a homestead wasn't going to happen. But then I changed my thinking, and started to plan out how we could convert this 'lot' to a homestead... And this last few weeks has been that change that I have been imagining!

In the last 2 weeks, we have done 'homesteading on the cheap'. We have got free mulch from our county compost site, and free rocks for landscaping from the farmer whose field is right behind our house. We are going this week or next to get some free hostas and ornamental grasses from a friend who wanted to split theirs up... 

This weekend, we got our 5 chickens! We paid a little more to get ones that are ready to lay. So in about 2-3 weeks, we should start getting fresh eggs!!! 

My strawberry patch was getting run over by our dog, so I took some extra chicken fencing and set it up around the strawberries, and our dog seems to be respecting that perimeter... Thanks goodness, because I think I am starting to see some growth on some of the plants.

I still haven't planted my peach tree in our new orchard area, it's been getting in the 30's at night and I don't want to freeze off any buds. Looks like maybe tonight will be the last of the 30 degree temps and it should stay above the 40's... 

Yesterday, as part of homesteading on the cheap, I had bought 3 packets of seeds: Shasta daisies (my favorite flower), coneflowers (echinacea), and lavender (called true lavender). I took some old milk/ water jugs and some potting soil that we had from last year, and I planted a bunch! I put them in a big window in the basement where they can keep warm and get plenty of light.  

What's next? Well, we bought a pretty large bit of (used) treated lumber from a family member that was getting rid their decking. It was super cheap for the amount that we got!  We will be using that to make a deck safer to be on. When we bought this house, the deck didn't look safe. A year and a half later, it still looks the same, but now we can do something about it!!

I am also going to be planting the garden in the next 2 weeks. By then, it should be safe to plant. I'm excited about having a garden again!

Well, while today is cold, rainy, and windy, I figured I could get a bit of blogging done... Hope you all are getting a bunch done on your homesteads also!! 

King of the goat hut!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Strawberry Plants in the Ground- More Work Today!

What an incredible blessing Springtime can be! I absolutely love when the grass starts to green and the trees start to bud out... Fall used to be my favorite, hands down, but Spring has tied for the lead. I love how everything can go from being "dead" to alive again and thriving! Such a blessing and a reminder of new life!

On Friday, we got a new garden plot tilled, and right away I planted some June-bearing strawberry plants. 30 total. We don't have a fence up yet, so I am hoping our dog doesn't plow through them too much until then. 

Today, we have already been working on my new orchard area and garden! I'm so excited. My husband is getting loads of free mulch from our county compost site, and I have been busy spreading cardboard boxes on the ground so grass doesn't pop up too bad in the mulch. I am also spreading mulch in my garden! For questions about why I would do that, you can do a search on Eden Gardening. Very good free info on the web. I'm hoping this will work out for us!!

I have to go for now. Hubby should be here anytime now with another load!! I will post pictures soon of our progress!

Boys helped plant strawberries!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Don't Just Throw Away Those Food Boxes!

I was just talking to my sister about one way of saving money which I will share with you another day, but that got my mind going on how we save money in other ways.

Yesterday here in Indiana, it was 72 degrees!! Woohoo!! But today temps are dropping all day and we have chances of snow this evening!! Ugh!  So as temps are dropping, I am starting a fire in our fireplace, and am reminded of yet another way we save money!

It's not a lot of money, but it is also using things we have on hand instead of buying.

We use cereal/ food boxes to start our fires!

When we get another box empty, we take the box and rip it into strips or pieces. You could then store them in a cute container or basket close to you stove, and have free fire starter! And unlike other fire starters I've tried, this takes a lot less work!

Even though it's getting warm here, we will continue to use this for our campfires!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Homesteading on Whatever Size Land That You Have...

I read a great article a few weeks ago, and it captures the very thoughts that I had this winter when I started thinking how much I missed having 10 acres and a mini farm...  While I was feeling sorry for myself (boo hoo!), I started to remember how I need to be thankful for what God has given us, and to bloom where we are planted. We need to bloom on this one acre that God has blessed us with.  It may not be ideal to us, but it is the perfect place for my family, right now.  Check out this great article, and don't forget God put you where you are right now, in His perfect timing. It may not be our ideal place, but it was given to us so we could learn and bloom...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

So Much Happening- Spring on our Homestead (FINALLY!!!)

Well, at the end of March we have several birthdays in our family (3 in house alone!).  So making each day special takes time. Then parties for 2 sides of the family (families are too big to combine!), makes for a crazy few weeks!

BUT, I am sooooo excited because Spring has rolled into my part of the country!  And since last weekend, it seems like we have been working on making our new little plot of land a homestead. though it may be small, I think we will be able to accomplish much on it!

Last weekend, we went and got our beehives. We moved 2 years ago in June from our old house. When we moved, we didn't have a 'home' yet, so couldn't take things like our beehives with us. So, I'd say for over 2 years, we let our hives (2 out of 3 had bees in them) fend for themselves. Not because we didn't care about the hives but because all the moving and the chaos of finding a home was too much. Bees CAN be petty self sufficient too, if they aren't getting what they need, they will swarm and move on. Which is what we figured our hives would have done. 

When we got there last weekend, what we found surprised us. There was actually an active hive! After the crazy hard winter we had here in Indiana, we never expected there to be a hive that lasted. But there was. And we couldn't be more happy!!  But this added to the complication of moving the hive! In the end, we got the bees all tucked away and we carried the hive through a muddy field, about 2-300 feet to our trailer.  We loaded them up and took them to their new home.

When we got here, we unloaded the live hive and prayed that they would make it ok.  The next day, my husband (still concerned over the moving of the bees) check on them.  He found a lot of dead bees in the bottom of the hive (which can happen) but he also found a large bee, which unfortunately could be the queen. 

We are pretty sure that it's too late for us to buy new bee packs for the hives by now, so we are going to sit it out and pray that the hive can replace the queen on their own. Which if they are as strong a colony as we think they are, they should be able to do it, no problem.  As of last night, the bees are traveling around they found one of the other hives and the honey that was left in it, and were getting that honey. I've even found one honey bee on the outside of my kitchen screen giving himself a bath. There a lake across the road from us that I'm SURE that our bees are now enjoying. 

I'm just so happy that they made it. We will continue to monitor their well being over the next weeks and months. And I will share here.

Being Spring, we also got our chicken coop cleaned out (ready for our new chickens on April 26th!!), and built our goat pen for the boys' 4H goats. We aren't technically allowed according to the old record on the property to have goats, but none of our neighbors mind, and that's the big thing. Plus it's a temporary arrangement, and though I wish we could have goats permanently again, we have to abide by the rules.

Tomorrow, the boys are going to help a neighbor lady by cutting down a few trees that she wants out of her yard, and she is letting us keep the wood! Great thing is she is right across the road. So free wood, and it only needs to be hauled 30 feet or so. It feels good to be stocking up for next winter already.  

While my boys work on wood, I will be making trips to our county compost site and getting free mulch! We need lots of it.  I am going to be making a few planting beds around our one acre and I'm also going to start a new garden plot.  I am going to use mulch in the garden. Watch Back to Eden gardening. It's a new, old approach to gardening... This will be my first year trying it, but I'm excited. We sold out big honking tiller last weekend too and I'm hoping not to need it anymore with this planting/ gardening method. 

I also have an idea for a small greenhouse where maybe in the fall and early spring, I can still have some of those precious greens growing! We will see if I can talk my hubby into that one... Or maybe I'll just doing it myself! It seems as though it could be a petty easy project, but I will keep you updated on that also.

Yesterday, while on my grocery trip (I go once every 2 weeks), I saw some fruit trees and immediately sent some pictures to my husband. He said he didn't mind if I got something's to plant. So I picked up a peach tree!! I'm beyond excited about it!  When we bought this house, there was already one apple tree and one pear tree grown up and almost seeming to be a lost cause, but my husband chopped those trees down to where he thought they should be (after he did it, I panicked, knowing that you aren't 'supposed to' cut that much off all at once). BUT the tree came back that next year and produced beautiful fruit! I'm so excited to add peaches to the mix!  We will probably get it planted tomorrow! Yay!!

And I guess last but not least, I am going back to my friend's greenhouse on Monday with my mom. I'm hoping to pick up some herbs for an herb garden I will be starting, and hoping to get some other plants and seeds as well. Only problem is that I put an ad in the area advertisement outlets asking for someone with a tractor tiller to till a new, small garden plot, and I haven't had any takers yet. So... Here's to hoping that gets done really soon so I can start my garden.  If not, I am not looking forward to doing that all by hand! :/

Well, it is going to be in the 60's today in my area, so I look forward to some time outside! Talk to you soon!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Spring Cleaning Week 2- The Bedrooms

Next to the bathrooms, I think the bedrooms are my next, least favorite rooms to clean! It's just all the stuff, all of the areas that are pretty hidden, and we can tend to let things build up, or let things accumulate...  If you have children, you know not only do you need to change out seasonal clothing twice a year, but you should also make sure all of their clothes FIT them!  Which can be a chore itself!

So here are some ideas for the bedrooms.  Take these ideas and fit them to your own needs. Not everything that I do will fit for you, and visa versa.  Take a week to get everything done. Each day, give yourself an area or a specific bedroom, to clean. Then, it hopefully won't seem so overwhelming!

Ideas for Spring Cleaning Bedrooms:

Kid's Rooms
- go through toys; throw out what is broken, give away what is no longer played with or not really in their age range anymore ( this chore alone COULD take a few hours depending how often you do this!)
- go through all clothing, ALL CLOTHING. Check the condition of all clothing. Pitch what is unusable or beyond "play clothes" or usable material. Save clothing that your child has grown out of for a smaller sibling, a friend, neighbor, cousin, or for donation. Don't hang onto it if there is no need to... These clothes take up a LOT of extra space!
- wash bedding! Clean mattress, if necessary.  ( sprinkle with baking soda and sweep off, or just mist with water and an essential oil like lavender). You can also wash pillows.  I have never had huge success with this, but you can find many places on the internet where there are instructions on how to wash your pillow.
- clean out from under those beds!!!
- dust! ( my childrens' room get the dustiest! Ugh!)
- wash curtains, rugs, well loved stuffed animals, etc.
- organize closets and drawers.  And then SHOW YOUR CHILD WHERE THINGS GO!  This was a mistake I made years ago, I assumed that my kids would just SEE where things go, then put them there. WRONG! You have to tell them, show them, then tell them again! This also helps them learn how and where to put their clothes, when you ask them to put their clean clothes away (oh yes, children CAN do this!).
- sweep!!!

Adult Bedroom

- go through all clothes and make sure off season clothes get put away ( in a tote?), old clothes that are beyond work clothes get thrown out, used for rags, used for material, donate unworn or unwanted clothing..
- organize drawers, closets, shelves.
- clean out from under the bed, if need be. Things can tend to get dusty in this area, clean it up! It's almost better not to store under the bed if you don't have to so you can just run a sweeper under there once a week.
- dust! Ugh! Bedrooms can be the worst for dusting.  If you are like me, dusting my bedroom is about the last thing I think of when it comes to cleaning my own house.  
- wash bedding! You could also sprinkle baking soda on the mattress and sweep off, and mist it with water and an essential oil ( like lavender!). This would also be a good time to wash pillows, if you are good at that sort of thing!! :)
- go through any 'collections' that you might be keeping (ie- books, knitting items, etc), what do you REALLY use here, what don't you? 
- wash curtains, rugs, etc.
- sweep!!!

And whenever you get a chance, open those windows!! It's great when we can let some fresh air in after a long, stale winter... I'm still waiting for the day I can do that here in Indiana!  

Well, hopefully this list will give you some good ideas and some motivation to start cleaning some of those bedrooms!!!  It's not a fun job, by any means BUT if you do it right, you won't have to do it but once or twice a year.

Talk to you next week about Spring Cleaning the Living Room!!!  

Friday, March 21, 2014

Field Trip to a Friend's Greenhouse

Even though there was a new dusting of snow on the ground, and the roads were a little slick this morning, the boys and I ventured out and went to a friend's house.  This friend has been organic gardening for years, and I wanted to check out what all that she does!

This is her first year with her new, larger greenhouse, and she was raising a bunch of new plants.  It was so refreshing, after all of this cold and snow, to walk through all of her new baby plants.  I love the humidity, and warmth of a greenhouse.  She had lettuces, chard, leeks, herbs of all sorts, broccoli, and so much more thriving there. She also has been saving seeds for years, and will be selling her seeds soon.  So, as soon as she prices everything, I think I will be the first in line!  I'm so ready to start planting, hopefully things thaw fast around here!

It's great to be able to talk with, and see what others are doing with their gardening, animals, or homesteads in general. It gives us a chance to get excited, get motivated, get new ideas, and get a fresh perspective on some things!  

As soon as things warm up more around here, the boys and I will be going back to see how she plants all of her lovely flower beds, and garden spaces.  I can't wait to get some more ideas!

Where do you get new ideas from?  Are you trying anything new this year on your homestead?