Su familia es mi familia.

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They were headed to the beach when the rain came on. Andy got the call around 8am asking if they could take us to lunch. They bypassed their house on the way to ours and came just as they were with swimsuits, exercise clothes, some mismatched attire and no extra gear. Usually she has all of her gear. Usually she has bags of changes of clothes, extra food, and her make up and earrings in perfect array, but not today. Today it was just them without the preparation. It was just them just as they were, coming to us just as we were. We were tired. We’d had guests over  the day and night before and there were popcorn kernels and dirty dishes that needed to be cleaned up. We cleaned them up. We cleaned them up and waited for our friends to arrive. They did. We drove through town to get a bite to eat at a local place. We’d never gone to town with them before. They’d never tasted Swainsboro or seen Stillmore before, but they came and they tasted and they saw and they loved it as much as we do, but not as much as we love them.

XO.

Nature Club

I’ve signed my brood up for a nature club. It’s a monthly gathering of a small group of like minded mamas and kiddos who will meet and take nature walks and observe and document our findings in our nature journals. The group is Charlotte Mason inspired and I am eager to implement some of her methods into our little homeschool. Yes, our homeschool. We homeschool. We are homeschoolers. Let’s just get that out there in public now. I have not gone to social media about homeschooling before, so this is new territory. But, it’s part of our lives and as much as I try to balance our personal and public lives (with the exception of very raw and personal childbirth stories), I’m thinking that it is no big deal to share some of our homeschool adventures. Perhaps they may even encourage someone or at the very least they will help me articulate some of our education decisions.

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This is our first year of ‘formal’ schooling and I am excited to have a focus for time spent in nature. Our kids spend a ton of time in nature. They spend more time outdoors than indoors and that is just a natural extension of our lives as farmers/homesteaders. I think this nature club will be a great experience and opportunity for the kids (and me!) to start a nature journal and practice drawing and painting and get outside and explore parks and places that we’ve never been.

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Although the group meets just once a month, it’s a huge commitment for me, because we will also be reading through volume 1 ‘home education’ by charlotte Mason and ‘meeting together’ via video conferences to discuss the writings. We’ll also have some other field trips and meet ups in between. The drive will be a great time to get some audiobooks finished and maybe some naps for the youngest darlings.

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I’m nervous excited as we dive in. Our first nature club meet is this Friday. Last night the mamas all gathered for introductions and a casual meeting and it was a wake up call for me and the commitment that we are making. It’s not around the corner. But, it’s good. It’s very good and we’re going to do it… rain or shine apparently.

 

XO.

He’s 6!

I’ve been writing a lot about sheep lately. I suppose it is the season for sheep adventures. Soon, will be bees since we’re gearing up for the Tupelo honey flow, the chicken eggs could also be a hot topic since production is steadily increasing with 91 eggs collected just today. The summer garden is about to be planted and one of my silkie hens just hatched out a duckling from an egg that was mischievously laid in her nest. I could keep a blog going with gardening content alone or animal husbandry or Andy’s chore list, I guess that is what homesteading is about, but this post is about our oldest kid’s recent birthday. He’s 6. Bullfrog turned 6 years old a couple of days ago and while it was a bit tough, because that’s the morning Yoda died, Bullfrog didn’t know it and we celebrated him and our love for our boy.

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We did not have a big party or extravagant gifts. We did hang a few streamers and give him a few thoughtful books and a container to store his Legos. He was really excited about the container and I laughed when he exclaimed ‘yay, my own container!’ Our kid is awesome. Andy hand picked a sling shot and a multi tool for him, which is a step up from his pocket knife, because it has a good pair of pliers.

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My sister, Olive and her husband sent him a fresh sketch pad, a ‘how to draw people’ book and some nice colored pencils. She’s an artist and she directed a children’s art studio in Atlanta for over a decade, so she’s the one who gives the easel, painting supplies, thoughtful games and more.

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Andy’s parents Dan ‘grandad’ and Linda ‘grandma’ (formerly Goma, but we’re working on the transition to grandma after almost 5 years of being called Goma) came over for some grilled chicken and carrot cake and Bullfrog felt like a prince.

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He’s a thoughtful boy. He adores his siblings and is incredibly intelligent. He has a memory like an elephant (I hear they never forget) and a very keen awareness of right and wrong. His heart is huge and he loves his neighbors. I am so glad that I get to be his mom. He’s growing fast and changing every day and I love that I get to be a witness to it all. I get to enjoy these fleeting years with my children and watch as Bullfrog paves the way for his siblings and continues to show Andy and I how to tackle this season of raising up children to be awesome adults. The days are long but the years are short is what I am reminded. I remember his birthday vividly. I remember the struggles to figure out motherhood (still working on that and probably always will) and I remember long before Andy and I met, praying for a husband and children. I didn’t always pray and I certainly didn’t always want a family or to get married and have children but when my heart was softened to the idea, I hoped I’d be a wife and a mother someday and now I am. They are all precious blessings and I’m so thankful we had the opportunity to celebrate our oldest and the last 6 years of life we’ve gotten to share with him.

XO.

 

 

 

 

Shearing time

The soap is technically ready to use but I’m too nervous to try it. I’ll let Andy try a few bars and make sure it won’t burn my skin off or leave any kind of dangerous rash or poison me before I use it. I made 2 different batches and decided to wait before making any more in order to make sure they actually work. Andy’s brave and honest and I need a brave and honest soul to test out my newest craft obsession before I move forward. After all, I didn’t even know what ‘trace’ was before I delved into my first soap making soirée. In fact, I couldn’t really tell you what it means now, because it’s still a foreign language to me, but if you’re a soap maker then you know what I’m talking about.

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Speaking of foreign languages and new hobbies and obsessions, we are shearing the Jacob sheep in a couple of days. Technically a professional is shearing the sheep because we sheared 2 of them when they first arrived after almost dying and taking Andy with them on their trip home (see ‘the great sheep escape’ or the ‘miracle on the interstate’ or whatever I entitled that post for more info). Anyway, after that rough chop shop of a shearing job we did and cutting the poor girls one too many times, we decided to spare their skin and have someone who actually knows what they’re doing come out and show us the ropes.

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She’ll be here on Friday afternoon and on Saturday I’m going to a friend’s place in Augusta to watch the shearer in action again and to help with the beginning steps of cleaning a raw fleece. Then, the plan is to send off some of the fleeces to a professional (fiber mill) to be processed into yarn and handle a few of the raw fleeces ourselves. This new culture of fiber farming is absolutely fascinating. Do you know the work it takes to get a wool fleece off of an animal and into a pair of socks?! No? I sure don’t. I’ve never done it. If you have then please move to Emanuel county ga so we can be neighbors and you can show me your ways, because skirting, carding, roving, spinning, suint water, worsted, 2 ply, hand spinning, spinning wheel, carders, felting and all of those other terms have just opened my eyes to the fact that I am absolutely clueless when it comes to fiber farming.

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I don’t even know how to knit, but I am determined to make a wool hat and eventually some socks out of this deal. This should be interesting and I’ll keep you posted because that’s what a blog is for, right?

XO.

Wide Open Spaces

We live on 1100 acres in the heart of Georgia. 1100 acres! That’s a lot. That’s a lot of land. Land with pastures, ponds, woods and a river. We are on a mile of the Ohoopee River. A mile! It’s surreal. Really. We are caretakers of all of this space and loads of animals. There are beef cows and sheep and dairy goats and a beautiful Jersey milk cow and horses and dogs and chickens and ducks and so much more. There are wild pigs and coyotes and bobcats and deer and who knows what else.

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How did we get here? I know it’s crazy. We’ve moved a ton in our short marriage and have lived on 4 different farms. The first was an internship, 2nd and 3rd are where we established our own farm business and now Andy’s got a good gig here on this farm as the manager/caretaker/keep everything alive and growinger/make a business modeler/and more and while we’d love to have our own place someday this is where we are today.

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We’ve rented different properties and farmed on 2 of our last rentals. The first farm we rented was 40 acres and the second was 26. We carved ourselves little spots out of those abandoned acres that were no longer being utilized for homesteading and cleaned up junk and fed the soil with loads of compost and then moved on for different reasons in the best interest of our family.

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From Savannah to South Carolina back to Savannah and now near Swainsboro Ga and we’re just getting started. Our original goals haven’t changed much and while our business and work keeps evolving, we are still pressing towards our main desires or being able to care for the needs of the hungry, the orphans among us, the widows, our parents and our children’s children. We aren’t there yet.

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For now, we are here cultivating and taming some of these wild 1100 acres and it’s awesome. We are simply stewards of these wide open spaces. XO.

Chicken Butchering Confessions

I’d never butchered a chicken. 6ish years of chicken butchering and hundreds of chickens processed since we started farming and I never actually fully butchered a single chicken.

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Somehow I managed to always be at the end of the processing assembly line. I managed to be the one who rinsed the birds or bagged them up to be shrink wrapped or ran the drinks and snacks or made the lunches or managed the kids, but I never did the deed. I ‘knew’ how it was done. I’d observed Andy and others dozens of times to have a full and complete understanding of the entire chicken butchering process. But, the knives were always in someone else’s hands. Until today.

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Today we invited a couple of friends to a chicken butchering ‘class.’ We actually invited whoever was interested in learning from a local farming Facebook group, but our friends just so happened to be the ones who came out. I’m glad it was them. We knew them. So, when Andy realized that I’d never actually killed a chicken and we decided that it was finally time to stop vicariously butchering chickens and I cried, I’m glad it was my friend who was there to hug me and not a complete stranger wondering what the big deal was.

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It is a big deal. It’s a big deal to us, because I often find myself defending our choice to raise our food and especially to butcher our own animals. It’s a big deal to take an animal’s life even if the sole purpose of that animal was to feed our family. It’s our choice to eat meat and it’s our choice to raise it the best and most humane way possible and then to end its life in the most humane way possible.

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I can justify it all day long, but that doesn’t necessarily make it easy. Satisfying? Yes, indeed. Not because I take satisfaction in butchering animals. Not at all. It’s not easy. However, I am deeply satisfied knowing that the food I serve my family was raised by our own hands. I’m satisfied knowing that I can now process, for the table, any bird and that I am no longer the ‘expert’ with no hands on experience. I’m satisfied knowing that Andy can count on me to come alongside him on the next butchering day and from field to freezer I can manage to butcher chickens. I’m satisfied knowing that I can be a little vulnerable and honest and completely confident in my chicken butchering confessions.

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XO.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

home-body

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Andy’s got jury duty this week. It’s so strange for him to not be on the farm, but the kids and I decided to take a little off-farm trip of our own, so we went to town for some errands and fun. I didn’t take any photos of our time at the library, park or fire station, but we had such a sweet time and I’m so glad we left the housework for a few hours and enjoyed our little town for the morning.

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I am clearly a ‘home-body’ and it isn’t unusual for our minivan to stay parked for multiple days in a row. There’s so much to do at home and around the farm that leaving it all behind can sometimes seem intimidating and exhausting. I used to be a busy, busy, busy gotta go, go, go gal. I’m so thankful that I have the opportunity to stay at home, take care of my family and live in a peaceful, beautiful place. I’m thankful that God has given me the opportunity to be a ‘home-body.’ It’s not something I ever desired and it wasn’t modeled for me in my youth, but it’s a beautiful thing and I’m glad for it!

XO.

Over the hump

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Did I already share that we’re expecting a new little honey bee to join our crew? Well, we are thrilled and finally over the first trimester woes of nausea, exhaustion, queasy goodness that always accompanies my baby’s earliest weeks of development. I’m thankful for each season and this last one has been a doozy. We returned from our road trip completely wiped yet feeling accomplished and have jumped right back into the tremendous prep work that comes with changing seasons on a farm/homestead.

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We don’t have snow or any major blizzards or knock your socks off freezes (it does freeze but the ground doesn’t remain an ice block all winter), but there’s still a lot of garden work, preparing a new flock of biddies to replace the almost 2 year old layers, taking off the shade cloth from greenhouse (okay that only took an hour, but it’s a change!) and the normal mulching and weeding and butchering and drying off the cow and milking the goats and bottling up the Fall honey and the whole shebang.

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Honestly, things are always changing and evolving that it can sometimes seem monotonous. Sounds like a huge oxymoron, right? But, it’s true. It’s totally normal for no two days to ever look alike. No matter how much planning and prep work and scheduling you do, sometimes it all just sort of blends together into one big happy lifestyle of crazy. That’s just our life these days.

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Andy and the kids are down at the Ohoopee River catching minnows while I take 15 to put my feet up as this roasted chicken finishes up in the oven. That reminds me of the new batch of meat chickens that arrived yesterday and that Bullfrog in all of his 5 year old glory is now solely responsible for the rabbitry. Andy will butcher, but Bullfrog is taking excellent care to be sure ‘Carrie Carrots’ (the buck) and ‘Rainbow’ (the doe) have plenty of sweet potato greens and water every day. We’re slowly getting back into raising meat rabbits after the fire ants decimated numerous litters last season. We had to call it quits for a while, but we’ve got a new system set up and are excited about it.

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Lots of other little fun things happening including officially starting structured table time in our little homeschool. The boy already knows subtraction. I’m impressed and I promise it’s not because I’ve been drilling math problems into his mind. Oh my this has gotten long. It’s good to write again. Thanks for reading.

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XO.

Only and Already

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How has it only and already been 6 years as Andy’s wife? I don’t know, but today marks our anniversary. I’m thankful for the adventures we’ve had and the ones to come. I’m thankful that he had the courage to ask me to be his bride. I’m thankful that we made a commitment to each other-til death do us part and that while marriage has been one of the most sanctifying things in our lives, it’s also been incredibly rewarding. I’m thankful that I get to be married to my best friend and that because of our marriage we get to be best friends. I love my husband. I love being his wife. It’s not always fun, adventurous and romantic, but its always good to grow in love and grace together. Til death do us part.

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My Friend Em

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I’m terrible about remembering dates and celebrating special occasions. One of my goals this year (I have a few and I just found my notebook with some passwords/logins since I forgot the blog log-in and rediscovered the goals I wrote down at the beginning of the year) was to make much ado about special occasions.

My friend Emily always makes much ado about birthdays and holidays and anniversaries and even road trips. She celebrates her family well and she even celebrates my family well!!! She probably doesn’t write important dates down on scrap paper or in forgotten notebooks and I’m sure that helps, but I haven’t arrived at her level of organization even though she keeps giving me great tools to help like closet organizers and what not.

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Another great thing about my friend Em is that she doesn’t even mention when it’s her birthday or her kid’s birthday or Rad’s birthday but I find out on her blog or when she casually talks about a beach get together and I don’t go and miss the cupcakes or in this case when Facebook reminded me that it’s my friend Emily’s birthday. I’ve pretty much reached a new low when Facebook has to tell me it’s someone’s birthday. I know last year’s birthday gift doesn’t cover this year’s, but I also know Em reads my wannabe blogger blog and that she loves me even if I don’t have a perpetual digital calendar with reminders a week or 2 in advance to make someone feel super loved on their special day like she does. She always does.

She always makes everyone feel super loved and she’s thoughtful, generous, hilarious, honest, beautiful, friendly, selfless and kind. She’s the friend who will meet you in the middle of the night when your husband needs to be admitted to the ER. She’s actually the friend who calls in a favor to a friend working the night shift at the ER so your husband gets right in…

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She’s the friend who you call when your car breaks down and you can’t drive 2 hours back home to SC so you crash in her guest room and paint toenails and watch chick flicks. She’s the friend who sends her husband to help your husband change a tire on the side of i16 on your anniversary when your jack doesn’t work and your ac doesn’t work and you just wanted to go eat a good grass fed burger at the fancy burger joint and celebrate 4 years. She’s the friend who makes date questions to ask your hubby and throws in a coffee shop gift card while she’s at it…

She’s  the friend who always has extra diapers or wipes or snacks or water or the double stroller to throw your son into also because you’re a new mom and don’t have much of a clue. She’s the friend who convinces her parents to love you like you’re family, because she acts like you are even though you’ve only just met but it feels like you’ve known them forever. She’s the friend who makes the best meals and gives you a folder full of meal ideas when you’re overwhelmed with meal planning…

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She’s the friend who is always up for an adventure and will ‘schlep’ all of her things to the beach or the farm or the beach house just to be there with you and your brood while your kids laugh and play and learn how to get along and love each other because you’re friends and that’s what friends do.

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She’s the one who teaches you how to celebrate big. She’s the one who always tells jokes or tries to make you laugh because sometimes you cry. A lot. Like when your dad loses his leg or you have an unexpected c section or when your little newborn baby girl is in the nicu. She’s the friend that you know you can trust and who you know loves you. Even though she doesn’t like to say the words it’s in the way she lives.

XO

PS-she’s also the friend who loves to not only make memories but also to record them and she does so on her blog (under the mossy oaks) and with her camera… From whence all of these photos came!!!