Wednesday, May 24, 2017

It's Garden Time Again.

Every year when this season rolls around, we all get outside and into gardens to work together. As the children grow, it is so much fun to see them be able to do more and more. They are really becoming a big help, and this year we gave each of the girls their own little plot to plant whatever they like in. They are so excited!

We have several garden plots under cultivation. About a quarter of our front garden is in greens this year. We are currently enjoying two kinds of lettuce, 
radishes, kale, collards, and spinach! Catching up on our B vitamins!:-) 

This patch needed to be worked up before transplanting butternut squash into it and marking off the girl's little gardens. Everyone got involved.

 Conagher says, "Hep, hep!" (help). We might have to find a tool that's more your size, buddy. ;)

Its so beautiful when the flowers start blooming! This is the first bloom that opened on the Echinacea in the herb garden.

Dustin, when mowing the yard, has been going around several of these gorgeous clumps of wild daisies that came up in front of the garden. They are just too pretty, and are so healthy it looks like we planted them there on purpose!

Lilly and Conagher hard at work. Looks like little guy found a garden tool he could actually handle, after all!

This little fellow still gets to take it easy while everyone else works (he he!)! I see you, you chubby lil' lazy bones!

 Peek a boo!

Just a few shots from around the garden and yard, now.

The big pieces of brown paper are what we are using to mulch around our cucumbers. This is going to keep weeding down to a minimum and also should help us have cleaner cukes when it comes like to pick them. We like to make pickles but also hope to be able to sell some at market and in our little farm stand this summer.

These barefoot beauties! I foresee some serious foot scrubbing in the bath tub tonight! I love my country kids :-) 

Looking forward to seeing what this garden produces and what other blessings and adventures come our way this summer. Dustin and I were married in the summer and I always like to count the gardens we have tended together. This one makes number ten!

Monday, March 6, 2017

homeschooling through a season of change: Janet's day in the life with a 7, 6,4, almost 2 year old and newborn.

*Today, I am connecting with Simple Homeschool blog for their "Homeschool day in the life" Link-up. Hopefully, our readers will enjoy this little glimpse of this part of our life here on the homestead, and maybe I can be an encouragement to those who are homeschooling through times of disruption or change in their lives.- Janet*

We recently welcomed a new little person into our family.This sweet little chubbiness has been a joy to get to know. The whole family seems enamored by his tiny toes, silky soft hair, and that sweet, indescribable "baby smell". As anyone with a new little one knows, the baby makes itself "priority one" from the moment of birth, and mom is is immediate need of rest and recuperation for at least a few weeks. This is all as it should be, but obviously, it can throw a wrench in a family's rhythm. Especially for homeschooling families for whom Mom is the principal teacher.
Of course, one solution, and a good one, is to take time off and make up for it during summer break. However,I wanted to avoid this as we tend to be extremely busy with our farm and gardens in the summer and really need to take the summer months off from lessons. So, our solution has been to relax all our normal schedule during this time and enjoy lots and lots of what I have been mentally calling " couch-schooling" :-) 

A "day in the life" for us right now looks something like this: 
I wake up. It is not early, maybe seven-thirty. My husband is already up and making his coffee, stoking the fire in the wood cook stove, and putting on the kettle for my tea( bless him!). I spend a bit more time in bed, nursing the baby, then get up, mosey to the kitchen and make my red raspberry tea. My midwife recommends this to help heal my uterus after the birth and I enjoy the flavor of the herbs each morning. Some how, even with five kids, I have never developed the need for morning caffeine. I head to the couch to drink my tea, cuddle little Aengus, and maybe read a little of my current book or devotional. Right now, it's "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. This is also when I go over and add to my daily journal. Its something like a cross between a bullet journal and a commonplace book. It holds my to do lists, quotes that inspire me, things I accomplished, and random ideas and ramblings. Right now I'm also using it at the end of the day to write what we learned as I haven't been bothering with my normal planner. I will go back later and fill in the planner with all we did during this time. I check my email and look at a blog post, and then I hear little feet pattering from the girls' room.

It's Ember who is the first riser this morning, and she climbs up to visit with me and the baby for a while. Soon, the two biggest girls are awake too and Daddy goes to get Conagher from his crib. Diapers are changed, girls get themselves dressed, I fix their hair (maybe), and then they have some quiet time as they listen to our scripture songs CD. Esther helps set the table while Daddy does morning farm chores, and I fix some scrambled eggs from our chickens, who have been laying like crazy with all the warm weather we have been having. We've been having lots of easy food like oatmeal or cold cereal too. Anything to keep it easy to make and easy to clean up, as the girls have been handling most of the after meal tidying.

After we are done with our breakfast, Lilly wants to know if we can read her book. She has been working through Rod and Staff's Stepping Forward series, and has found a lot of satisfaction with each book she has finished. We normally read a chapter a day, but lately she will often insist on two chapters as she is excited about finishing the series! She has learned a lot of new sight words and now is just getting into long vowel sounds.
After Lilly finishes, I call Esther over to read. She has been more motivated when she can choose what she is reading rather than just using her second grade reader. I'm just fine with that as long as the reading level is about right for her and a little challenging. Right now her favorite is the Frog and Toad treasury. :-) She has started to read with more expression and even 'do the voices'. We have dropped formal English lessons for now, but we find ourselves discussing quotation marks, compound words, and punctuation. I love lessons that just happen organically, and you can bet I'm counting them! Later on, the girls decide to count the money in their piggy banks and I listen in as they review coin values, count by fives and tens, and add and subtract. Math lesson, check!  The baby is sleeping and I take this moment to fold some laundry.

Next we eat lunch (sandwiches), and Conagher takes a nap. Normally, the girls would have nap/quiet time too, but Daddy decides they can farm with him today. He is plowing all the garden spots for spring planting and sowing turnips in the upper garden. We know time spent in nature, free play, and involvement in the day-to-day farm chores are just as important to the children's education as worksheets and memorization are. Today they have a wonderful time getting to ride the draft horses, Logan and Lincoln.

While they are outside, I take a nap with my boys.:-) When everyone comes in they are filthy so I make them rinse off in the shower and get into pj's early. They ask if they can listen to an audio book so we hear part of" The Wise Woman" by George MacDonald while I fix some supper. After, when things are cleaned up somewhat (only one dish is broken), the girls bombard us with requests for bedtime stories. I read a bit from "choice stories for children". I love the old fashion sound to these stories and they all have great moral lessons. The kids usually don't want me to stop.
 Daddy has started reading aloud a lot lately, ( I love this as much as the kids, btw!). He recently finished all the Mowgli stories from Kipling's "The Jungle Book 2" (leading to me strewing books about jungles and rain forests around the house for the kids to find), and now he has been reading "Grandfather Tales", a compilation of the Appalachian version of many famous and not-so-famous folk tails. It's collected and retold by Richard Chase and the language and tales are just wonderful and laugh out loud funny. Robin hood is friends with the Indians, Cinderella "goes to meeting' instead of a ball, and we love "How Bob-tail beat the devil", just one of the stories you've probably never heard before.

Reading done, The kiddos brush their teeth and get ready to go to bed. Kisses are given, bedtime songs sung, and requests for water made. One girl wants to listen to the auto book as they go to sleep but another wants some quiet music and I opt with the music as they listened to the book earlier and I feel more like music myself. I nurse the baby as they fall asleep and Daddy puts big brother to bed.

Before I hit lights out I read a bit and look at pinterest or update our etsy shop, and think about teaching Lilly how to chrochet or knit since she has been begging me to do this. We'll see. It does seem like it would be a good couch-school subject...

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Welcome, Aengus!

Hello to all of our friends! It's been awhile since we have posted,and we are super excited to come back to this space with the announcement of our new baby's birth! Say hello to Aengus Mountain Morgan!

Isn't he a sweet little chubby thing? He was over a pound heavier than any of our other babies at close to nine lbs., but we were blessed with a safe and beautiful home birth just the same.

Chilling with new baby brother. We didn't know what he was going to be before he came, and so we were super excited to find we had another boy! It's evening-up around here! :)

One of the birth announcement photos we took right after he was born. The beautiful quilt was sewn by Janet's Mom. She has made a special baby blanket for each of the children when they were born.

He loves his baby brother! No jealousy here! We are so happy with how Conagher has reacted to baby's arrival.

We got them all in one picture! He's nearly two weeks old and so glad we didn't wait any longer to get this shot. Was just talking with a friend about how it seems like the more little ones you have the more you savour every little stage because you KNOW, from experience, just how fast the time does fly.

*Note: for those who would like to see more frequent updates or our family, farm and shop, we are now on instagram! Check us out!@homemadehome7

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Simply Christmas.

Well, despite the fact that every big box store has been proclaiming that "Christmas is coming!" since a month before Thanksgiving, it always seems to surprise me when it really does get close! Less than a week to go, folks! So far it's been a sweet holiday season here at the homestead, though. We've kept the decorations simple and mostly homemade. I've especially enjoyed using boxwood, cedar and pine from right around the farm, instead of faux garlands.

I made several of these tiny wreaths to hang in the windows.

We cut our own tree from one of the fence rows around here. It was quite the search, and we almost despaired before finding "The one". It really is a nice tree, especially for a cedar since they tend to look kinda "Charlie Brownish", or be overly bushy. Ember thinks she's so big, lifting it up!

We popped a ton of popcorn after we got the tree up, and Esther and mommy went after it! I think it looks so pretty! We have gone minimal with ornaments to let the natural beauty of the tree shine through. If you ever decide to string popcorn, here's a tip: use dental floss instead of thread, it is so much stronger and the popcorn goes on really smooth!

Caught this one of my little squoogie after he crashed for an unexpected morning nap. Awwwww.....

Instead of lots and lots of holiday glitter and glamour we have " thrown around the cozy " with sheepskins, quilts, pillows and fuzzy throws. I wanted the house to scream:"Cocoa, any one?!".

So... the sweetest thing : When your five year old comes up to you with a present she wrapped herself with scraps of wrapping paper she found and she tells you it's for you because she saw you didn't have a present under the tree yet. My heart is melting! She even made a tag with both of our names on it. 

Dustin brought me a lovely bunch of cedar and pine from the woods, and I made this simple garland for the front door. It was so much easier to make than a wreath; I just arranged the boughs how I liked and then tied them together at the top with some wired ribbon left over from last year and added the sleigh bells.

We took our family Christmas photos at a beautiful old church that we spotted on main street earlier this year. I just love these doors!

Finding quality toys that don't break the bank can be so challenging. And that's where thrifting comes in! We scored these Baby tree blocks at a local second hand store, as well as the adorable metal kaleidoscope. The other wooden toys were ordered from GVS, an old fashioned mail order company ( call toll-free 1-800-398-2494 for their catalog). The prices were about half of what I had found for similar pieces from other suppliers. We got the cute little knitted ball from a booth at a primitive Rendezvous.

 Several of my siblings got the kiddos this gorgeous "night before Christmas" book as an early present to enjoy as they anticipate the holiday. Its by Jan Brett, and we just love her work! The artwork is phenomenal! Thanks so much to John,Tom and Caroline!

We also are doing some homemade gifts this year (well, honestly, I don't think there has ever been a year we haven't!!) This little stuffed kitty is my gift to Ember. I had a lot of fun making it and I know she is going to love playing with it. Of all the kids, she loves making up games with her stuffed animals the most. I'm thinking about starting to make these to sell on our etsy shop, what do you think? I'd love some feed back!

We did get some new iron work up on the etsy shop in time for the holiday, isn't this a neat wall rack? These are SO versatile, we have several of them around our house doing different jobs :-) .

Our neighbor cut some mistletoe the other day and kindly left some for us to make use of, um, I mean, find (hehe!) It's right above the front steps, so nobody is really safe. Good thing we all love each other!

Thank you all for following! Wishing you all a Merry, Merry Christmas! May God bless us all in this coming year! Love from all of us at the home made homestead.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Our New Little Milker.

Introducing the newest addition to our homestead! Our New milk cow, Abigail, is a small jersey. She is still young( even though she has had one calf), and we are in the process of really getting her gentled down and trained to come in when she is called for milking. Dustin built her a milking stantion under the side shed on our old barn and she also has a nice, roomy stall to call her own :-) .

View from above.

Milking away. A nice, stainless steel bucket is a must. You can use plastic, but it is much harder to keep really clean, and aluminum and other metals can actually give the milk a bad taste. Is one place that carries them (Search "stainless steel milk pail").

Here is Abigail's bell. She wears it when she is out to pasture. It is really handy because she is not fully trained to come when she's called yet, and if she is up in the woods, it's nice to be able to hear her when you go to find her.
 And, anyway, if you own a cow, and you own a cowbell, who could resist?

It feels so good to have loft full to the rafters with hay from our own land. Bring on the cold weather - there's plenty for the stock to eat!

So, one of the benefits of having our own cow has been making our own butter. Butter, especially organic or natural options, is so expensive these days. And with the studies that have been done now show how bad margarine is for you, it's been nice to have a steady supply from an animal who's food source we know.

The girls have gotten a kick out of helping shake cream!

Daddy shows her how.

Ember, you little ham!

You can tell the butter has nearly "come" from the way the cream looks sort of clumpy on the sides of the jar. Once it looks like this it just needs another minute or so before it's butter.

Oh, now, here's the butter! Look at that big lump floating in the buttermilk. Sometimes it is yellow like from the store, and sometimes its very pale like the batch above. The color doesn't affect the flavor. And speaking of flavor, it has been amazing! I have eaten homemade butter that had a strong flavor, but I think that must be from something with a strong flavor that the cow is finding to forage on. Anyway, this has been really tasty.

The butter needs all the buttermilk rinsed out. This seems easiest if you stick the whole jar in the fridge for a little while and let the butter harden a bit. Then when you rinse its not so easy to loose some of the soft butter down the sink.

Last, you salt the butter to taste. A little goes a long way!
*The wooden spatula is one that Dustin carved. Go to to see our current selection of  hand carved kitchen utensils.

Well, that's it for this post, but we look forward to making cheese as well ! - HMH.