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Friday, April 29, 2011

Photos for this Friday

 Egg collecting
 Some say "Cleanliness is next to godliness"..
 So we cleaned!
Sweet Man and I ordered bibles for our little princesses for Easter, complete with their names on them. However, we did not upgrade the shipping, so they were a tad bit late. ;-)
You know dinner turned out horrible, when even the dog won't eat it! 
So thankful this dinner turned out great! Homemade Pita Pockets with some yummy chicken salad.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The haunting of the headless chicken.....

Early morning feeding chores can be such a peaceful time. The birds are all happy for the new day and the air is filled with their lovely songs. Lazy dogs have yet to wake up and face all the many questions of their day like, "Which pillow should I shred on the porch today?"  The princesses are still all snug in their beds dressed in their mismatched PJ's. And Sweet Man has just been seen off to work.

This morning proved to not be quite as peaceful. When I walked by Sweet Man's stove I heard an eerie scratching sound coming from inside.

Now any other day I probably would have just shrugged it off and went on with my tasks. But not this morning. For you see, this is where the headless body lay of our rather large feisty rooster. By the time the deed was done the previous evening,  a storm had rolled in, and a fire was not lit to cremate the body. So it lay. Waiting. With the door closed.

All sorts of disturbing thoughts entered my head on this foggy morning."Was it possible that it was too dark to see correctly, and a foot had been lopped off instead of a head? Is it possible for a chicken to survive without a head? Has he come back from the grave to torment me for taking his life and then not even eating him?" AUGH!!! I just had to know!!

Armed with nothing more than knee high rubber boots, I proceeded to approach the stove with caution. I figured if an ax couldn't be the demise of a chicken, a pair of rubber boots wouldn't do a bit of good. But still I walked on ever so slowly.  I listened. I heard more scratching. I smacked the stove to see if it would quit. It didn't!! Whatever it was doing in there, it was not happy. "Oh Lord, please forgive me for taking the life of something you created. Please don't let this headless chicken flog me!! I just know I would be traumatized by such an event."

I listened again and found the sound to be coming from BESIDE the stove, instead of in it. Further inspection showed this...
This sweet little turtle had somehow found his way into a piece of stove pipe and couldn't get out. Oh he was giving it his best try. He would manage to climb halfway up the pipe, only to slide all the way back down. this I can handle! This can even be something exciting to wake the girls up to show them. A headless chicken, not so much!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

So many books, so little time.

I have often been accused (jokingly of course) of not being able to focus on one thing at a time. There are just so many exciting things about life, it is hard to only explorer one thought at a time. This have become evident to me in my quiet morning time reading. I not only have one book that I read from, but several.
There is of course the bible, a book on prayer, two little devotional books and of course the sale flyers. You have to be aware of  what's on sale you know. :-) I think I am going to have to get a bigger coffee cup to accommodate this time a little bit better!

 To add to this little library of morning time reading, a friend has let me borrow her Dave Ramsey book, The total money makeover. Can I just say WOW!? I so wish I had read this books years ago. It is very eye opening how all of those "little" purchases add up and suck the life right out of your bank account. With the help of my working night shift this past winter, and a pretty good size tax return, we are on our way to our Total Money Makeover. I am only half way through the book, but it is amazing the contentment that comes with knowing where you are actually spending your money.

 This is one thing that I think I should slow down and focus more on. ;-)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Country life

I am convinced that it must have been a Beatrix Potter book that sparked my love of country life. The beautiful pictures she drew had a way of capturing the best part of farm life. The animals always look so nice and clean, and there was hardly ever a sight of mud. The whimsy of it all had a way of letting your imagination run wild. I can remember trying to look for little squirrel homes with my mom one day while walking to the bus stop. I fully believed they had full kitchens and baths somehow in those trees, and always a stocked pantry.

One thing I did not take into account about farm life, would have to be the hard decisions one has to make. Last night I finally settled something I had been wrestling with for sometime. I have two chicken coops, with two completely different flocks. One coop is wonderful, with its spacious interior and large fenced in ranging area. The other coop is adorable, but with it being situated at the bottom of a hill, it has become quite unpleasant. With all of this rain we have been having the poor chickens have basically been swimming in mud. Now, the other coop is plenty big enough to hold all of my chickens, but if I was to combine them like that, I would have to "get rid" of a certain rooster. One that we have had for a couple of years. Sure he is as mean as a snake. But he does his job well at protecting his ladies. He has ran off several neighborhood dogs and even a few children. :-o We had to "get rid" of another rooster last week, but we hadn't had him very long and you could tell his hens did not appreciate him!! So, that was kind of a no brainer. But this guy was well loved by his ladies. After thinking it over and over, I decided they would probably like the upgraded living standards over keeping their Man. Even though I don't understand that, for I would live in a tent if I had to choose between a nice house or my Sweet did seem like the best thing for the chickens though.

He was "taken care of" by Sweet Man, and the Australorps had their wings clipped so they could join the new flock. I would say it was rather chaotic. We had to accomplish this all pretty much in the dark, for this is the best time to catch a chicken you know. I was surprised at how scared we both were of this job. These chickens are so much bigger than our other ones, and we were both covered in sweat and mud, (and perhaps a little poo) by the time we were done.

Even though our farm doesn't quite look like the ones depicted in Potter's work, I wouldn't trade it for anything! Thank God I'm a country girl!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Harvesting honey :-)

Honey time!

If you are going to harvest honey with your Dad, there are a few things that will be needed. No,I'm not talking about those fancy and expensive bee supplies. First, you will definitely need a little princess that is camera happy, and is all to pleased to take more pictures than imaginable. Now, be warned. This princess will not try to capture your best side/look when taking these photos. :-o I look like I gained 10 pounds in this picture!! Has to be the way she is holding the camera....
Second thing you need, is of course a Christmas apron. A CHRISTMAS APRON?? Sure. Why not. With this day being Easter, it just seemed appropriate to wear an apron celebrating Christmas. In this way you have Jesus' whole life summed up. Came to earth as a baby and eventually died for us so we could be with him forever. And another plus is the fact that if you are behind on laundry, you know that you have at least 8 months till you really need to have this one washed. ;-)
Next you need a good ole fashioned fork, colander with small holes, and large roasting pan. Oh yeah, just simple kitchen supplies. After I uncapped the honey, I scrapped it all into the colander for the honey to separate from the comb.
Now doesn't that look delicious?! It tastes pretty yummy too!

Zombie Fire Ants!!!!!!

Zombie fire ants. What in the world is that?! It sounds like something out of a really corny science fiction movie. But no, they are actually real!! What child wouldn't love to learn about that?! Since we have ants coming in every nook and cranny of our house right now, it just seems fitting to do a unit study on them. :-) I can't get rid of the little critters, might as well learn more about  them! I am thankful that they aren't the fire ants that we learned about in this study from The Old Schoolhouse.
E-Book: The Curiosity Files™- Zombie Fire Ants

E-Book: The Curiosity Files™- Zombie Fire Ants 

There were many great things about this study, one being the price. It was only $6.95, and you could even get it cheaper if you bought several studies in the series at one time. I loved all of the beautiful, colorful pictures this study has. It really kept my children interested, and wanting to learn more. It is geared for the ages of 8-13, but with a little creativity I used it for my younger two children as well, 6 and 7. It was very biblically based with lots of scripture, which I LOVED!! It offered everything from snack ideas, lab time (with actual activities), time zone learning, math problems, handwriting (manuscript and cursive), measuring, how to make an ant farm and even practice on the days of the week. I have done several unit studies in the past, that I feel are great. But they all needed to be supplemented with our other school work. This is not one of them. It was very well rounded and covered more than enough for a school day. It was also a pretty inclusive study. There wasn't the constant running back and forth to a computer to look up a certain link, (there were some links) which is wonderful. My children are easily distracted (as am I), and if we have to keep leaving the school room our work does not get done. An answer key was also provided, which made my life a whole lot easier. Sure I can figure out the problems....but who has time for that in between laundry, farm chores, and house work??

As with any school material there are always a few downsides, one being those beautiful/colorful pictures I mentioned in the previous paragraph. They are a little pricey to print out, and with this being a fully inclusive study (lots of pages), it went through the printer ink pretty fast. One other thing that kind of threw me for a loop was the fact it didn't have marked out how much material you should cover in a day. Now depending on the way you want to look at that, it can be a good thing, or a bad thing. It ended up being nice when I didn't want the pressure to finish X amount of pages before lunch, but then I fear that I pushed too hard on the other days. Learning to pace oneself is a lesson that should be taught though, and I guess inadvertently this study did just that. :-)

Overall I would give this unit study a thumbs up. :-) It in fact did live up to its name, The curiosity files, and my children wanted to know MORE and MORE about the zombie fire ant. Isn't that what homeschooling should be about? Learning about really cool things that God has created in our world. I think so, and so do my girls! Thanks TOS for letting me review this product. Many fun memories were made through this study!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

"O LORD, I marvel that you should become incarnate, be crucified, dead, and buried. The grace calls forth my adoring wonder, for it is empty and You are risen: the four fold gospel attests it, the living witnesses prove it, and my heart's experience knows it. Grant me more and more of the resurrection life: may it rule me, may I walk in its power, and be strengthened through its influence." (Vally of Vision)
Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Clipping wings

The chicken yard has been a pretty happening place lately. This past week it got a lot of attention from me and Sweet Man. When I go grocery shopping I like to look for the phrase. "Free Range" when it comes to my meat. That phrase makes me think of rolling green pastures with animals enjoying life they way God intended them to. So naturally when we got our chickens, I wanted to them to be free ranging on our property. Spending their days scouting out bugs in our forests, or enjoying our grassy fields. NOT roosting on my patio furniture, hanging out on my porch fighting the dogs for the dog food. We had turned our old dairy barn and fenced in area to the mac daddy of chicken coops, but they were just not content to stay in the 1/2 acre or so, of alloted ranging space. First thing in the morning you could almost hear one say to the other "Hey look how green that grass is on the other side" and off they would fly, right over the fence. So we watched a little tutorial on YouTube about how to clip a chicken's wings, and got right to work. Clipping ALL 37 of them! It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, and I can now catch a chicken in a mere few seconds.
They didn't seemed phased by this cruel little trick of ours.
 I love them so much more now, 
  that they aren't getting poo all over my porch!
There were a couple of other things that needed to be taken care of in the chicken yard. One being the mucking out of the main coop. Princess #1 wanted to help with this, and to get the eggs.  With the fact that our newest rooster had turned into the Tasmanian devil, it was not a safe place for the girls. He would in fact chase them all the way up to the back door, and wouldn't give up until they were in the house. I tried basically to kill him with my broom, but my soft bristles were no match for him. He just kept coming at me/them/anyone  he felt like. Sweet man ever so kindly "Took care" of him for me. :-) With the fact that he was gone I now had a helper with my chicken chores.
Since it was a chilly night Sweet man loaded our outdoor wood stove. It had the weirdest aroma though....smelled kinda like....chicken. ;-)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Canning for half price!

Everyone knows that growing you own food is not only better for you, but cheaper as well. This time of year I start getting excited for all of the produce that I can preserve, to feed my family through the fall and winter. To make that food cost even less, I am always on the look out for markdowns. Not only can you get great deals at the farmer's market/ grocery store on produce, you can get awesome deals on supplies as well. Canning supplies and spice mixes to be exact. I snagged all these deals the other day, and I am just super excited to get to work! Sure these are last years supplies that they moved out to get ready for the new ones. They are perfectly fine, and half the price.
Looks like we will be eating pickles, salsa, tomato sauce and jams in abundance this winter! :-)
Oh how I love a good deal!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

On track with our unit study!

We might actually do it! We are on track to finish our 5 day unit study on Easter, in the alloted  FIVE days!! I have never in my life accomplished a unit study in the time frame they suggest. With this Sunday being Easter, I really wanted to have it completed. It has been a lot of work, but very rewarding. I can tell that God is using my feeble attempt to show these girls how special this day is. It has been awesome! The girls are enjoying all of the activities that go along with the study, and I am enjoying letting my house go to pot, so I can focus more on them. :-)
We learned how great of a servant Jesus was, and we were inspired to do a service as well. Blanket making for children in foster care seemed perfect. I hope those children receiving the blanket don't have allergies to cats. :-o
 We were able to participate in a resurrection egg hunt with our church. This egg hunt was a little bit different, and I loved it. There was an egg with a little piece of linen cloth in it representing the empty tomb. The child who found the special egg was to shout, "He is not here! He is risen, just as He said!" How special is that?!
Decorating some eggs of our own was on the agenda as well.
And with the fact that this unit study has required so much of my time, the girls actually had recess! Laundry still has to be done you know. :-)

 A six dollar yard sale find, yard toy, and some comfy PJ's make for an awesome time!
This unit study has been a blessing to this family. I can tell we have grown closer to God and each other. So thankful for this opportunity I have been given, to teach my children at home!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday (almost ;-)

 Princess #2 &3 reading a slightly out of date magazine (1812)
Princess pea party with AHG
FINALLY, porch sittin weather! :-)
One should always groom themselves. 
You never know when someone might pop in for a visit. :-o
When work is done, there is time for reading fun.
I just wouldn't have imagined it would be on top of my car. ;-)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The promise of Easter

This past Sunday was Palm Sunday. The children in the church blessed us adults, by walking up the center aisle waving palm branches and singing Hosanna in the highest. Now, if that doesn't make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, I don't know what will. It brought tears to my eyes seeing my children being taught the true meaning of Easter. It's not about cute bunnies or marshmallow peeps. Why do even we Christians forget this sometimes?

I have had an even stronger desire this year to teach my children how important these days are. The days of Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter. I ordered a week long unit study just about these special days, and we will be doing it all week.
Yesterday was our first day, and this study brought up a lot of awesome conversations. Princess #3 asked if getting to heaven was really as simple as just believing in Jesus. When I answered "Yes" she was blown away that someone would decide to not do that. I had to agree! Kids just get it you know...
Working away on learning all about how special Easter really is.

I have also been thinking about how much work I put into teaching my girls to eat healthy food, and then give them special rewards for holidays that consist of more sugar than anyone should consume in a week, let alone a day. For this reason alone we opted out of buying our usual peanut butter eggs this year, that we make with our scouting troop. I just couldn't justify giving them that much sugar. I came up with another plan. I took our staple cookie recipe and covered it in melted  chocolate. Ok, sure the chocolate has SOME sugar...but not near as much as the usual peanut butter egg. I left out the chocolate chips in the recipe since it would be getting covered in plenty later. :-) I think the girls will love them!

And since bunnies are so dag on cute...I surprised the girls with one of those as well. Yes it was given to them early, but I have a thing for furry little critter babies. :-) Hey, Jesus made these as well. I just keep telling myself I am teaching them to love His creation. ;-)
 It's our new classroom pet. Every class room needs a pet ya know!
And who wouldn't want a cute little critter to stuff in a box and carry around the house? I know these three kiddos enjoyed it. :-) I will admit that I had forgotten just how much poo one little guy could make. Oh well, it's working great for the garden!

This Easter let's remember how special this time is. Let's not get caught up in the worldly ways of teaching our kids about a make believe bunny that brings you hollow chocolate candy. Jesus gave us the ultimate gift...that's enough. We don't need to add to that....and those hollow chocolate bunnies are so deceiving anyways! :-)