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.