Monday, November 18, 2013

The Extraodinary Adventures of G.A. Henty: Under Drake's Flag

   I'm a bit nostalgic by nature. When I think of days gone by I think of families huddled around the radio in the evenings listening to The Grand Ole Opry or to an exciting radio drama. What a way to spend the evening! Recently, we've had the opportunity to pop some popcorn and gather together to listen to a fantastic audio theater production. The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty: Under Drake's Flag. This truly brought to life G.A. Henty's book of the same title. This 2 hour action packed drama takes you along on the adventures of Ned and Gerald as they grow from boys to men under the leadership of Sir Francis Drake, the well respected and famous ship captain. What a fantastic Christmas gift this would make for your children! While enjoying this story they would learn the value of good morals, bravery, honor, and integrity while experiencing thrilling shipwrecks and battles at sea. And most to fully rely on God no matter what your circumstances are. There's even a bit of romance in the mix. This story was enjoyed by the entire family. Boys and girls. Young and...not as young. The quality of this production is fantastic. From music to crashing waves, every little sound affect brings this story alive right before your eyes. So...need a nice relaxing evening at home with the kids full of family friendly entertainment? Look no further than Under Drake's Flag. But may find yourself sitting at the end of your seat at times or with your faces glued to the radio as if you could peak through the speakers and get a glimpse of life at sea with Sir Francis Drake!

For more information visit!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cooler Days and Earlier Nights

   It's that time of year. I woke up this morning wanting to start a fire in our wood stove. Our days lately have been nice and cool. Our nights are pretty chilly. The leaves are starting to turn colors and fall to the ground. The animals are putting on their winter coats. It's getting dark quite a bit earlier now. We've been having to get our chores done earlier in the evening to keep from walking around in the dark. These early nights are nice and peaceful. Everyone has been winding down sooner. We've had coffee-and-a-good-book kind of evenings instead of working outside until the sun goes down. The kids have been settling down with a book or playing on the living room floor. We are slowly moving towards that slower pace time of year. Not that all work is done in the cooler months. Our winters are pretty mild so we garden throughout the fall and most of winter. Right now in the garden we have cabbages, brussel sprouts, greens of many kinds, green beans, pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, radishes, carrots, and herbs. Fortunately we have been having plenty of rain so we haven't had to water the gardens. And because of the cooler temperatures the weeds and grass aren't growing like they were. Less work! Also, the goats come in this time of year. We are only breeding two does this year. Although love is in the air out in the goat pasture we have decided to A.I. instead of do live breedings. This is something new for us and we are excited to introduce some really nice bloodlines into our herd.

So, that's life on our little homestead this time of year. What is fall like in your neck of the woods??

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Apples, Apples, and MORE Apples!


   There's nothing better than a fresh crispy apple. We love apples and eat a lot of them in our family. Recently we ordered apples along with others in the church we attend. We purchased 160 pounds! We made 120 pounds into applesauce. The other 40 pounds were split with my parents.

My mom and sister came over one evening. We sorted the 40 pound box we shared separating the bruised and smaller apples. These were made into apple butter. These we peeled and cored by hand and cut into quarters. The larger apples were peeled, cored and sliced for apple pie filling. Thank the Lord for my apple peeling/coring/slicing gadget! Quite a few of these were eaten fresh before we even got started. We ended up with 8 quarts of apple pie filling and 9 pints of apple butter. The apple butter is absolutely wonderful smeared on warm buttery biscuits!

The families at church got together for applesauce making. This was a fun experience. The apples were going to be quartered the evening before applesauce making day. We live about 2 hours away from where we attend church. The church families offered to prepare our apples for us so we wouldn't have to do them all ourselves or make the trip 2 days in a row. This was a blessing. Everyone working together made quick work of the apple quartering. The next morning we arrived at the designated home where there were boxes upon boxes of prepared apples. All the church ladies arrived and we started washing, cooking, milling and canning apples. We had 4 stoves going, numerous pressure cookers and 2 food mills. This was an all day job and a lot of work but many hands made light work and the day was very enjoyable. By the end of the day I'm guessing we probably put up between 600-700 pounds of apples. When I left that evening they were processing the last few batches. Our 120 pounds of apples made almost 60 quarts of delicious applesauce.

We are so enjoying eating our fresh applesauce. It makes a nutritious snack or side dish at meal time. And apple pie is only a jar away.  Now... I want to plant an apple orchard!

My girls peeling the apples for apple butter.

My son and husband...peeling, coring, and slicing for apple pie filling. The chickens and pig thoroughly enjoyed the peels!

Here I am making applesauce in the food mill. My daughter is watching and learning while helping out with one of the sweet babies.

Some of our applesauce still waiting to be processed.

"I have given you every plant with seeds on the face of the earth and every tree that has fruit with seeds. This will be your food." Genesis 1:29


Monday, October 7, 2013

The Prairie Primer- Big Woods complete!

   Yes, I am a big slacker blogger! I have not been able to find time to blog regularly as you can see. I believe I will make an entry at the end of each unit instead of at the end of each week. That will give me time to blog about other things on the homestead as well. I hope!

We have finished the Little House in the Big Woods unit and we so enjoyed it. We actually just began the Little House on the Prairie unit. Unfortunately, our camera broke so we don't have as many photos to post as we did at the beginning of the Big Woods unit. What did we learn?? We learned about honeybees and the nutritional value of raw honey. We studied the moon and it's phases, we learned how "Pa" provided for his family and how his family trusted and respected him. What a good example of a Godly man "Pa" is. And lets not forget "Ma." She was an excellent example of a Godly woman. What a wonderful wife and mother. We learned about oats. How to harvest them, their nutritional value, and how to cook them. We also made granola using oats and raw honey. Yum! We studied yellow jackets and how to treat stings and sickness with herbs like they used to "back in the day" seeing that doctor's weren't readily available. This was interesting because we also use herbs and essential oils medicinally in our home. We studied how important it is to follow the instructions of your parents and not be swept up in foolish behavior.  We made Johnny Cakes and studied the history of Johnny Cakes as well as the history of songs like "Oh Susanna." We learned about maple sugaring and hope to be able to experience sap collecting and the syrup making process this year. We studied the California Gold Rush. While studying about the Gold Rush my children learned that getting rich quick is usually never the case. To be successful takes a lot of hard work, time, and a good quick mind. Most importantly my children learned that life is not all about wealth but about love, happiness and servitude to God. My little Grace always tells us "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." From her favorite book in the Bible, Matthew 6:19-21  So very true.

During the Big Woods unit the kids had the opportunity to visit Laura Ingalls Wilder's home in Mansfield, Mo while on vacation with their grandparents. This was exciting for them. This was the home Laura lived in while writing the Little House books. While there they were able to see many things that belonged to Laura and the Ingalls family. Including Pa's fiddle. Sadly, they were not allowed to take pictures inside the house.


The Wilder's "modern house."

We also went on a field trip to our local museum where we saw an old log cabin, a wagon, and many historical items that would have been used in Laura's time as a child. Such as a long rifle like Pa had and a butter churn like Ma used to make butter.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Zucchini Casserole

   Once again we have zucchini growing in our garden. This afternoon I picked a couple then came in and started preparing them for supper. Recently I found the best zucchini casserole recipe in a magazine that I read. I'm sorry, I can't post a picture because it's baking in the oven at the moment while a roast is simmering on the stove. Soon I'll be making mashed potatoes to go along with it. Fresh baked bread will finish off the meal. Yum, can't wait. The house smells sooo good right now.... OK, back to the casserole...this recipe is super simple and very good. I hope you give it a try.

Zucchini Casserole

3 c shredded zucchini
2 TBs flour
1/2 c shredded cheese
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 c quick oats
1/2 c oil
1 or 2 shredded onions

Mix ingredients and pour into a greased casserole. Top with shredded cheese if desired. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Prairie Primer - First 2 Weeks

   I know I said that I was planning to post at the end of each week but I just didn't have time at the end of week one. So, I decided to wait until the end of our second week. We have enjoyed our first two weeks of our "Big Woods" study. We have done many fun things. We've studied bears, owls, maple sugaring, trees, lungs, skin.... MANY things. We've also studied the history of music from Laura's day. Like Yankee Doodle, Buffalo Gals and Pop Goes the Weasel.

This was our first morning. The kids were so excited they ate and did their chores in a snap. They were ready for school before 7:30. And yes....they just had to have school by lamp light. Here they are coloring Little House pictures to put on the front of their binders.

Laura Ingalls had only a corn cob doll named Susan to play with as a little girl in the Big Woods. The kids made corn cob dolls (and a corn cob boat) and were encouraged to play only with this for the day.

We studied owls and learned that owls swallow their prey whole. Afterwards they regurgitate a pellet that contains the hair and bones of their prey which can't be digested by the owl. We dissected owl pellets and found many little bones.

The girls weren't so sure about this experiment but once they got into it the found it pretty interesting. Joseph loved the idea from the start. Typical boy!

This is a skeleton from Heaven's pellet. We are pretty sure it was a mouse. Each pellet had 2 or 3 skeletons. They must have been hungry owls!

The kids learned about the importance and purpose of our skin.

We studied how our lungs take in air and provide oxygen for our bodies. These are lung models we made to show how our diaphragm helps us to breath.
When our diaphragm contracts it moves down, drawing air into our lungs.
When our diaphragm relaxes it moves up, pushing air out of our lungs. This was a neat experiment.

We read that Laura's Pa liked to whittle. He whittled Ma a pretty shelf. Joseph has been looking forward to learning the traditional art of whittling. He has started whittling designs on a stick. Thank goodness we have Aflac. :)

I could have posted many more pictures. We did so much.  These past couple of weeks have been a great start to a new year and we are looking forward to the rest of the year.
"Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. "
Proverbs 9:9


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Prairie Primer


   Today we started our new school year using The Prairie Primer.  The Prairie Primer is a literature based unit study based on the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. We will be learning  about the 1800s world of the homesteader on the American frontier. It will be interesting to compare the life of the homesteader then to our lives now. Along with literature and history, The Prairie Primer covers social studies, geography, writing, science, health and nutrition, bible study, character building, and life application. We are rounding out this curriculum with grammar and math using resources by Rod and Staff. We are also using a reading program called Drawn Into the Heart of Reading. We look forward to incorporating crafts that the children already plan to learn into our school studies this year. Things like spinning, whittling, sewing, butchering and preserving meat, canning and drying produce and herbs from our garden, animal husbandry, and so many more things.

I plan to post pictures showing what we have studied and made while using The Primer at the end of each week. I hope you enjoy following along on our Little House adventure.

"And all your children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of your children."
Isaiah 54:13

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Corn bread

   Corn bread....we eat it with most suppers. My husband thinks he's the best corn bread maker ever. And I have to say that he does makes some good corn bread. We like to cook it in a cast iron skillet. Cast iron cooks nice and even and puts on a nice crust. I thought I'd share my husband's corn bread recipe with you. Give it a try. You won't be disappointed.

1 cup all-purpose flour (we use freshly ground flour)
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 olive oil
coconut oil for skillet

Mix together dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients together in a separate bowl then mix all ingredients together well. Heavily coat your cast iron skillet with coconut oil. Set the skillet on the stove top burner and heat. Pour batter into hot skillet and let it cook undisturbed for a few minutes. You'll know it's ready when the edge of the batter starts to separate somewhat from the side of the skillet and rise up a bit. When this happens place into a 425 degree preheated oven and bake for approx. 20 minutes or until golden brown. When it's finished slice it and cover it with butter. It's also great drizzled with honey. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


   Sugar and spice and everything nice, that's what little girls are made of. Snips, snails and puppy dog tails, that's what little boys are made of. Well, yes and no. Mine are made of a little of this, that and a few other things. hehe... But I can say that my children are what my world is made of. I thought I would post a picture of my little homesteaders in training. I love my family. I am one blessed woman.

"Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them..."     Psalm 127:3-5 NASB

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Green Beans

   I can remember loving to eat "Green beans from Grandpa's garden." Actually, those were the only green beans I would eat. Or so I thought. Later I found out that when green beans from Grandpa's garden were no longer available my mother would open a can of store bought green beans and tell me they were Grandpa's so I would eat them. Oh the trickery....can you believe that!
Unfortunately, we had no green beans from our garden this spring. We planted 200 beans which grew to be beautiful plants....with almost no beans. What few we had were not very good. Kentucky Wonder proved to be less than wonderful this go-round. 
Thankfully, we had someone from church share their bounty with us which was such a blessing. My daughter, Heaven,  and I spent the day snapping and canning green beans. We put up 15 quarts which will happily hold us over while our next batch of green beans grow.  I pray these will produce well for us so we'll have more than enough green beans in the garden this fall to put up for the year.

The wise store up choice food and olive oil,
but fools gulp theirs down. 
 Proverbs 21:20 NIV

Click this link to hear one of our girls' favorite songs....
Green beans in the Garden.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


    I have always wanted a little herb garden. For the last few years  I have tried to grow herbs and have failed miserably. This year my herbs are doing great! I started my seeds in the greenhouse and transplanted them into a raised bed near my kitchen. I'm growing mint, dill, basil, caraway, sage, oregano, thyme, pineapple sage, rosemary, stevia, parsley, catnip, and cilantro. I so enjoy drinking fresh herb water throughout the day or drinking a cup of mint tea in the evenings. And you can't beat cooking with fresh herbs! I plan to grow more herb varieties such as medicinal herbs in the future.

We have started drying some of our herbs to put up for future use when fresh herbs aren't available. I've been hanging them to dry from our doorframe in our dining area.

My daughter and I put some dried herbs in 1/2 pint jars and labeled them for future cooking and tea.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Homemade Dishwashing Powder

   In our family we try out a lot of do-it-yourself recipes and projects. Some work, some flop. Recently, my husband bought me a new dishwasher. We haven't had one for a few years so this has been a real treat! I found a recipe online for homemade dishwashing detergent. I tweaked it a bit and am very pleased with the results. My dishes are sparkling clean and the dishwashing powder only cost me pennies. Can't beat that!

Homemade Dishwashing Powder Recipe
1 cup Super Washing Soda
1 cup Borax
1/2 cup Kosher Salt (or any other course grained salt)
2 small packets of sugar-free lemonade kool-aid
1/2 bar of my soap, grated

I'm storing the detergent in a quart sized mason jar. 1 Tbsp is used per load. This will wash approx. 24 loads of dishes. I'm using white vinegar as a rinse aid...another penny saver. Happy home keeping!

“She looks well to the ways of her household..."
                                                                   Proverbs 31:27

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Canning Dill Pickles

   Our family loves pickles. My children can put a jar away in a day. With all the rain we've had lately our cucumber plants are looking great and they are producing really well. Today I decided to put up our first few jars of dill pickles of the season.

This year we're growing National Pickling cucumbers like always but we are also growing a new variety, Marketmore cucumbers. These are a nice dark green cucumber that are long and slender with lots of "meat" and tiny seeds. I'll be using these and some of our larger National Pickling cucumbers for sliced pickles. I'm also growing my own dill and garlic which I used today in my pickles. My garlic could use a little more growing time but I just couldn't wait. I picked just enough to use for today's canning.

The dill pickle recipe I use is very simple and very good. Sometimes I add a hot pepper in with the cucumbers to add some "bite" to the pickles which I love. The great thing about pickling is you can add whatever you want....peppers, onions, carrots.... the possibilities are endless.

White vinegar
Canning Salt
Fresh dill (dried can be used)
Washed cucumbers
Fresh garlic

First I sterilize my jars and lids. I then get my water and vinegar started in a separate pot on the stove. I use one part vinegar to two parts water and bring them to a boil. While waiting on the jars and vinegar mixture I wash my cucumbers and slice them if I'm making sliced hamburger dills. I always cut the blossom ends off of the cucumbers so they won't be bitter. When the jars are ready I start putting my ingredients into the jar. For a pint size jar I'll add 1 teaspoon of salt, a knife end of alum, a nice sized sprig of dill and 1 toe of garlic. (Since my garlic was a little small I used a few.) You can add more or less of any of these ingredients depending on your taste. This is when you would also add a pepper, onions or whatever else you might like in your pickles. Today I kept it simple. If I'm making whole pickles I like to make them in quarts because pint jars just don't hold enough. If using quarts I double the ingredients except for the alum.

After all the jars are ready I start packing in the cucumbers tightly. Then I'll carefully pour the vinegar mixture over the cucumbers until they are covered. I tap the jars on the counter to get trapped air bubbles to come up then put the lids and rings on. I carefully place the jars into the pot of boiling water that was used to sterilize the jars making sure they are covered with water. They boil for 10 minutes then are carefully taken out and set out to cool before removing the rings.

There you have it....pickles! You can simply put up your own pickles very cheaply and provide your children (and yourself) with healthy homemade snacks all year long.

"...He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy."      Acts 14:17

Thursday, May 9, 2013

School Day Interruptions

   As a homeschool family we have had interruptions during school time on more than one occasion. Ringing telephones, busted water lines, broken fences and run away goats. Life happens. This morning we had an interruption of the pleasant nature. One of our Nubian does decided that today was the day for her to kid. I noticed this morning at chore time that her udder was nice and full and her ligaments were soft so it wasn't a surprise when our daughter ran in from the barn to tell me that she was starting to kid. With little assistance Luminaire (Lulu) brought into the world 5N Farm's Obadiah. Better known as Obie. He's such a cutie although I do wish he was a she.

   So, this morning the three Rs were put on hold and we moved "school" out to the barn. I'm very grateful that our children get to experience "life on the farm" and learn all of the wonderful life lessons that are learned here at home. Some things can't be taught in a classroom or learned by reading a book. We're blessed to have the opportunity to teach our children at home and offer them a well rounded education.

Now...the excitement is over and it's back to the three Rs!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Making Goat Milk Soap - Part 2

   It's been a couple of days since I poured my soap up. I usually give the soap two days to set before cutting it into bars. If we're in the midst of the dry, hot summer I may only have to wait one day.

 After removing the soap from the molds (which easily come apart) it's time to cut the large "loaf" of soap into bars. I have a soap cutter which was bought online. This makes cutting the bars so much easier. One batch of soap makes 28 good bars and 4 ugly end bars.

Being handmade, hand poured, and hand cut means that no two bars are exactly alike. They each have little cracks, rough spots or some kind of flaw. That's the beauty of a handcrafted product. They have character unlike commercially made products.

My dad picked me up some old coke crates which make great drying racks. I stand the bars up on end and line them up in the crate. Standing them up on end keeps them from warping as they dry. The soap needs at least two weeks to cure. The longer you let them cure the harder the bar will be and the longer they will last in the shower without quickly dissolving. A one month old bar is nicely cured.

I hope you give soap making a try!

"There are four things a child needs: plenty of love, nourishing food, regular sleep, and lots of soap and water."  - Ivy Baker Priest