The kids went on a wagon ride with Daddy to retrieve some hog panels from way up the path. The pigs and chickens were down in the woods having a grand time together. Fern is on the right of the tree and Wilbur is on the left. Lily the farm dog has everything under control. I'm sure that the girls could tell you the names of the chickens in the photo, but I can't.
Here's the girls cutting coupons. I love how they work hard to save. I would love it more if my mom and Grandma Smith could see them! Life is good on the farm. We sold the two precious goatbabies. They went to a wonderful family. For a change, our soy candles and goat milk soaps have been selling. I have a very good friend to thank for that! Tomorrow, Miss B is planning a large candle production day and I'd like to get three batches of soap made. The weather is just about to start warming up, with tonight being bearable, unlike the last few nights. The girls and Mr G started 144 seeds today. Tomorrow is pea planting day.
Here's Miss B holding "Locket" and "Sunshine." I'm trying to sell them. They're just a week old but already I'm totally attached to them. They're really great pets. Any little kids in California want a shipment of FUN?
I like that the children call her Mrs. Red even though she's yellow. See, she's Big Red's favorite hen, and since she lays the eggs that hatch out into his sons (no, never daughters!) they must be married, hence the Mrs. Red. Aren't they a lovely couple? They had a separation a while back when Mrs. Red went to live on a different farm, but then she came back to us and is living her "happily ever after" with her true love.
Mr. G is planting a beautiful pear tree from www.treesofantiquity.com Today, he planted Bing and Ranier cherries, this Bartlett pear, a santa rosa plum (Miss K's favorite fruit), a pluot (plum/apricot) (I think.) And two more apple trees, a Pink Lady, and a Stayman Winesap. Plus the berries. At this rate, we'll have as many trees as we have goats.
You can see some of the existing orchard behind that handsome guy if you look very closely. Also a thoroughbred horse, Mr. B.
Here is the place where the first blueberry sticks are planted. Ok, they aren't really the first. I had planted some last year and didn't follow directions. They were dead before you could blink. But this time I'm going to acidify their soil like a good girl. That gas can in the photo has nothing to do with the acidifying plan. It was just there and I was in a hurry so I didn't move it first. Mr. G tilled peat moss into the bed before the plants arrived, and is mulching with the plentiful pine needles for the acid. You probably think I have imaginary plant friends, but to prove that there are such things as scraggly looking blueberry plants in that bed, I took a close up for you. Cute, isn't it? It will be wonderful indeed to have fresh blueberries!
See the two lines of raspberry sticks coming out from the fence? Neither do I, but there they are. 10 raspberry twigs that will hopefully be raspberry bushes soon. My goal is to post again when they're huge brambles.
A clothesline was a news forecast To neighbors passing by. There were no secrets you could keep When clothes were hung to dry.
It also was a friendly link, For neighbors always knew, If company had stopped on by To spend a night or two.
For then you'd see the fancy sheets And towels out on the line; You'd see the company tablecloths With intricate design.
The line announced a baby's birth To folks who lived inside, As brand new infants clothes were hung So carefully with pride.
And the lines were full of diapers, So white and bright and clean. Because in those days of yore, In stores Pampers were not yet seen.
The ages of the children could So readily be known, By watching how the sizes changed You'd know how much they'd grown.
It also told when illness struck, As extra sheets were hung; Then nightclothes, and a bathrobe, too, Haphazardly were strung.
It said, "Gone on vacation now," When lines hung limp and bare. It told, "We're back!" when full lines sagged, With not an inch to spare.
But clotheslines now are of the past, For dryers make work less, Now what goes on inside a house Is anybody's guess.
I really miss that way of life. It was a friendly sign, When others knew each other best, By what hung on the line.
I don't know if this poem would inspire me to skip the ease of the electric dryer. It seems to take a bigger shock to the system than a cozy feeling conjured up by the sweet ideals in this piece. Poverty usually does the trick. It was a sacrifice for me to stop using the dryer. I have yet to see the new electric bill's praise for my determination. And it will be harder to keep using the line if there's not a big difference in the amount next month. The good news is, if I can use a clothesline exclusively, anyone can do it. If you have children, enlist their help by paying them the difference in the electric bill for the help they give in lowering it. We had a family meeting complete with a pot of tea, and notebooks in which to jot down ways to save. The girls have been more helpful than I imagined they could be since then. Don't underestimate the little folks' help in living frugally.
I kinda figured that Joe would wake up from his nap if I tried a photo, and I was right. But you get the idea of how cute it had been, till I wrecked the ambiance of the goats shacking up with Joe in his house on the porch.
The weather is raw and bleak today. Big change from yesterday. I though that I'd bundle up and plant some of the trees and plants that came yesterday, but now I think that can wait. Instead, I'll be pouring a cuppa and sitting alone, aah, at the table, planning lessons. We had such a wonder filled day at school yesterday that I wish there was a recipe for having a day like that.
This is our blizzard, which is occurring as I type. You can see the whiteout conditions if you look a little to the right and below the center of the photo- see it? That's the whiteout snowflake. Phew, it's a lucky thing school was already out for the day. Think of the hazardous driving conditions that flake will cause! We Yankees are laughing, but seriously, I'll bet the local drivers are in a panic right now
Ooh, I like these kids! They slept through the night! And at 6, I heard some rumbling in their box, but they didn't even cry. Then they drank 12 oz. of fresh Nigerian milk because they had drunk all the colostrum their own mom would produce. We all agree that they seem stupider than Nigerian babies, but I don't mind that when I can get a whole nights' sleep.
Here are the kids in their new home. It's a giant storage box that was conveniently brought down from the attic this very day in order to pack away Christmas tree ornaments. True to his heritage, Flick is making his bed for the night right next to his new charges.
#6 decides to reject the kiddos. So now poor Mr. G has to help me by dragging her down to the barn and holding her leg in the air while I milk her. Then we have to feed the little ones- looks like a really sad job, huh? The whole family are experts on bottle feeding now. It's a huge relief to have a whole crew of capable helpers when times get tough! In fact, I think we'll even be able to make it to Lynchburg to see Ken Ham speak about evolution and creation tonight. I guess you readers can't see the perspective of the goat pen. #6 is happily watching the humans feed her kids. Oh yeah, daycare all the way baby.
These are #6's babies. When we got home from church, I could tell she was going to kid today. I took a phone call from a potential goat buyer, and when I finished talking, here were a buck kid-with meconium- and a doeling! She seems to be completely rejecting motherhood. I explained to her that this is totally against our beliefs here on Providence Farm, but I don't even want to repeat what she said back to me. So, homeschool mom she's not. Now the plan is to give her a half hour then start bottle feeding these little cuties if she doesn't have a change of parenting philosophy. I have a feeling that the buck is going to be listed on Craigslist as a pet goat for sale, rather than a market goat, don't you?
Today was a red letter day for minimizing roosters! Mr. G and I went to the Amish stand to buy some cookies for the baby shower I was attending. We saw some people buying hens from the Amish, so I asked if they wanted free roosters, and they did! They should be here to pick them up in a few days. So there will be less crowing overnight, I hope. More good news: we sold 13 hens yesterday. Also, when we went to the feed store, we ran into an old friend who just happens to have a boy goat of my breeding, still intact, and available for stud. Now I can advertise my lady goats as does who are going to freshen. It amazes me just a little that this friend and her goat had slipped my mind. I did notice that the kids and I had been thinking of this particular friend a whole lot lately, but even though I think my brain was trying to get me to make the connection between the friend and the goat, it didn't click. That's one of the benefits of being over 40, I guess. Mr. G is working hard on the chicken incarceration house and yard. It will be nice to have less chicken souvenirs on my porches. In case anyone wonders why I would downsize chickens, and therefore downsize eggs, last summer got out of hand with egg production and egg hiding. I ended up constantly finding rotten eggs. "Constantly" in this sense meaning "twice". But even finding rotten eggs once makes quite an impression.
We plan to introduce the baby goats to the electric fence one by one, and turn them out to the big fields, while penning the pigs where the garden will be- in the old goat enclosure.
I'm hoping to have a huge and well maintained garden this year, hence all the imprisoning of various and sundry farm animals.
Miss K is feeling loads better, but still has the occasional flare up of colitis. I think I suffer more than she does with it! Why can't life just flow smoothly and painlessly every day?
I had made slippery elm capsules so that Miss K didn't have to taste it. She wanted to watch, so I let her. Then, she wanted to make a capsule, so I let her. I thought she must be having trouble with her fine motor skills since it was taking longer than it took me, but then I saw what she had done... She had made 9 capsules! I wonder if she's cut out to become a Pharmacist?
Thankfully, Miss K's belly pain has let up quite a bit. For now, at least. If anyone needs to know what works for colitis: aloe vera, slippery elm, DGL, bromelain, papaya chews, probiotics, kombucha tea, and TLC.
Tonight is windy. Miss L says, "It's Windsday!" A cold front is almost upon us, but for now, the windows are flung open wide and the stirred up warm air makes us feel all excited inside. The jets are flying over too, which helps the ambiance along. The best part of the night is that the big girls are doing the milking for me.
I know this is a poor quality photo, but I ran out of batteries as I took it, and I wanted to show you the cute kid feeling better, outside, with bare feet and a beagle. The door is still wide open- and no bugs yet! Now Miss L is having a yogurt out there with the aforementioned beagle.
Fern and Wilbur made their transition to big pig bed today. No more pig crib for these two. Our goal is to keep them out of the yard and behind the fence. So far the sheep have been the clear overachievers in staying where we want them. Let's see how the swine stack up. Can you tell we love our pigs? They even have their own sphinx guarding their entrance...
As hard as I try, I can never do more work in a day than my Amish friend Emma. If I hang out two loads, she's hung out three. If I tell her I've canned tomatoes, she shows me 250 quarts of applesauce that she's done. But we're happy about the small amount we got accomplished today anyway.
The youngest is having a good spell in her colitis ordeal right now, and I pray that it goes on like this forever. At least we have really cool medicine for when it does hurt. And a fantastic and caring family doctor, phew.
Readers, you've gotta try the homemade cleaning stuff! Because I ran out of Cascade powder, I had to try a homemade recipe for dishwasher soap. Under duress and not expecting very good results, I combined 1 tablespoon of Borax and 1 tablespoon of washing soda and added them like I would the Cascade. Voila! Perfectly clean dishes for a tiny fraction of the price I'd been paying. I'm starting to think that we can do every household cleaning job with Borax, washing soda, and Fels Naptha soap! Is it a sad commentary on my life when soap excites me this much?
In spite of the fact that the littlest kid is still suffering off and on with debilitating stomach pains, we're having one of those "good homeschool days." The weather is springlike and the mood is cheerful amongst the girls. So far, we've gotten laundry done, the kitchen cleaned, and some decluttering finished. The big girls are assembling extra winter supplies and outgrown winter clothing to take to the local clothing exchange. One of the happiest results of the economic downturn is the renewal of bartering and cooperation. I've seen lots more charity than I've seen greed.
Is it time to put away the Christmas tree yet? I guess if Mr. G, who had to sleep on the couch across from Miss K once again, feels up to it, it'll be the attic for the fake tree.
Here's a surprising fact: According to spellcheck, "decluttering" is not a word. Who knew?
Here's poor little Miss K, sound asleep after Dr. Joe prescribed some good tummy medicine. We're so thankful to have such fantastic medical care, here in the middle of nowhere! The kid spent all day Sunday between crying over stomach cramps and having a fine time. She still has pain today. Let's hope that she'll be all better tomorrow.
Homeschooling has gone to the dogs. I desperately needed a few hours alone yesterday to gather my thoughts and plan lessons, but instead I got a crying kid to hold. And the anxiety of having a crying kid wears me down. So now I'm even more frazzled than ever. This little one had taken a lot of really interesting- I mean that in a good way- pictures of the farm today. If I have a chance, I'll try to post some.
Miss K took a whole lot of photos around the farm for me.
This was the first really warm day in a while. It was 72 degrees. All the windows were thrown open, and Mr. G dug 4 1/2 holes for new fruit trees. I dug a half of one hole. Probably loosened it all up for him. We're getting two new apples, a Pink Lady and a Stayman Winesap. A plum and a plumcot. A pear. A Bing cherry. 4 blueberries and 10 raspberries. I think we're picking up a beehive this week, if the schedule permits. We pick up the actual bees in mid April.
The girls and I had a meeting today about how to do better with saving. I'll try to pass along some ideas as they occur to us. Here's one that definitely works. To make homemade laundry soap, round up these hard to find ingredients: Fels Naptha soap washing soda Borax twenty mule team A bucket for the finished laundry gel, big enough to hold two gallons. I used the empty Sun (cheap detergent from Wal Mart) laundry detergent bucket. The recipe says: 1/3 bar Fels Naptha, grated into a saucepan with 6 cups water. Heat and stir till all melted. 1/2 cup each washing soda and Borax. Add to pot and stir well. Pour 4 cups hot water into bucket, add your soap mixture and stir. Now add a gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir. When it cools, it will gel and turn really interesting! Use 1/2 cup per load.
One of my favorite things about this recipe is that when you're melting your grated soap, your house smells really clean. This soap is working fantastic for me. At least give it one try to see if you're impressed enough to go through the trouble of mixing a few ingredients to save tons of money- and the environment. You can find people showing you how to make this on Youtube as well. Some of them make a powder, but since you only use some crazy amount like and eighth of a teaspoon per load, I do better with the gel- makes me feel like I'm adding lots of soap!
Lfe is good and boring here at Providence Farm. Today, I looked out the window and exclaimed, "What am I seeing?!" Miss B replied, "Oh, the turkey vulture is doing it again! He's sunning himself." I couldn't get a better photo than this grainy one because he saw me try to get out the door. He was big.
Bummer. This is what I found in Mama Bear's bed tonight when I went in to read Jane Austen and fall asleep. Big Daddy got suckered into "come and rest with me in the bed" from the littlest baby. That left the big babies to gather in MY side of the bed. That'll learn me to get to bed sooner. I thought I was feeling too rough to go and milk tonight, so instead I've been playing computer solitaire. Now I realize that nobody's so sick that they can't spend ten minutes doing their chores. Aha, this photo was taken in darkness. Funny what a flash can do. So off I go to milk the goats. Hopefully they'll milk through at the same rate until #6 freshens (has her kid(s). Soon I'll post how to milk a goat and how to make cheese the way I do all things, the easy way.