Around the Homestead

Fair and Pumpkin season

The State Fair is just something we have always done as a family. We just love going and seeing all the animals, art, rides, and of course, the food!

Train ride
We love the mill

We had an impromptu breakfast outside before we carved pumpkins. We had pancakes and hot apple cider on an open fire. It was so much fun!

I think everyone would agree the day was a success and a great way to begin our fall celebrations.

Around the Homestead

Summer Foraging

With all the cultivated fields and pastures being grazed by cattle, there isn’t always an over abundance of foraging where we live. However, every few years the sand plums make their appearance and it’s important we take advantage of the opportunity because it may not happen again for a few years.

We tried to come up with creative ways to use the sand plums rather than just jelly. Our girls are really adventurous when it comes to food and drink which is so nice. We ended up juicing some of them, which tasted similar to apple juice.

I made a half gallon of Bounce. Here’s what I did:

Sandplum Bounce

11/4 lb. sandplums with seed

1 lb. organic sugar

1 lb. non-GMO vodka (ex:  Absolut, Kettle One, etc.)

Pour into glass jar with lid.  Place in dark cool place for at least 6 weeks or longer. 

We tried running them through a cherry pitter and dehydrating them to replace cranberries in our baked oatmeal, but the fruit didn’t separate from the pit well enough and we were left with mainly skins and juice.

So for now, Bounce and jelly is all we have. We may try making fruit leather with the sand plums in the freezer.

Around the Homestead

Summer on the Farm

We spent the summer enjoying the farm and animals. We have enough going on here, we don’t travel or busy ourselves away from the farm very much.

We love cooking outside
Willie Nelson
He loves the water
Aspen & Raymond

That is our summer in photos. It’s was a beautiful summer and everyone made it through the heat with plenty of baby pools and shade.

Around the Homestead

Homestead Update for 2021

Lexi and her baby, Tina, one day old
Our registered Jersey calf, Tina
Willie Nelson
1112 and Jericho

Lizzie, Scottish Highland-Hereford cross, and Joshua

Tina, Lizzie, and Becky

Our farm has changed a lot over the past few months. We have sold lambs, acquired calves, a billy goat, and a rooster. We hope to continue to grow and diversify our farm and resources allow.


The Good and The Beautiful Curriculum

I cannot say enough about how this curriculum has changed our home school time. That and advice and encouragement from a few books I have read lately:

Awakening Wonder-Sally Clarkson

The Call of the Wild + Free-Ainsley Arment

You can access TGTB Language Arts curriculum, levels 1-5 for free. You can choose to print it yourself or order it for a very reasonable rate.

We chose to order the course books because printing them was too expensive and love what we received. The girls are so much happier with our school days. It feels like we are just spending time together learning which is what I’m pretty sure homeschooling was meant to feel like.

We are currently using their language arts, history, handwriting, and typing. We are also using their Multiplication Math program while we wait for their new Math curriculum to be released. From there we will decide whether to use TGTB or Teaching Textbooks for math.

For History I did print the course books myself because they are in black and white. I also purchased a ProClick to bind the course books when I do choose to print them. I bought this one because you can open the spiral and add papers to it if needed which will help cut down on extra folders with loose papers or loose papers stuck inside our course books.

For science we are using Answers In Genesis. We are studying animals this year and just plan to use this curriculum that we already had, books from our own collection, and the library. As we have gone on nature hikes we have seen certain animals or the homes, tracks, or evidence they’ve left behind. We use whatever animal we see and get as many books off our shelves or from our library to study and learn about that animal. So far we have read about moles, porcupines, and muskrats. Not to mention the study of farm animals they receive daily just from our lifestyle.

We have also ordered a few of their books from their library. So far the girls have read:

Melissa Across the Fence

Ann and the Island Storm


Jade Dragons

They also have a free book list I highly recommend. It rates not only the books in TGTB Library, but also other books as well. It rates them by moral merit, literary merit, educational value, and gives a review of the book. It is so helpful for me when I can’t keep up with one of my daughter’s incredible appetite for reading. There are so many children’s books out there that we have found inappropriate for our children that it is nice to have a little insight into a book before we even begin.

They have already finished the three books above. I do question if they were maybe a little below their reading level, but we did use TGTB reading level assessment. From here we are moving onto Lamplighter books. These are the most beautiful books not only to fill our bookshelves with, but to fill our hearts with Godly character. These will forever be a part of not only our homeschool, but our lives as we pass them on to the next generation.

All three of us love this curriculum. It has made our days so peaceful and interesting. We start our morning with devotions, Bible reading, character, and then our read aloud (currently The Green Ember). We didn’t have to spend a lot of money on curriculum. TGTB is inexpensive or in some cases free. We utilize our local libraries for books or just spend time reading the Bible together. I’m so glad we found this curriculum and am thankful for Sally Clarkson and Ainsley Arment’s books to quiet the doubt that creeps into the minds of homeschool moms….”am I doing enough?”

Around the Homestead

A Simple Winter Rhythm

We are just enjoying the slower season of life we are in right now. On the cold days we nestle up with books and warm drinks. On the warmer days we play outside and enjoy the beautiful weather. These are just a few pictures from our lives taken this past week.

a day at the park
after church snack
things I am loving
Ready for the girls to wake up
morning devotions
for the tree
The girl’s fort, built all on their own.
Willie Nelson inside the girl’s fort

I love every season. I think living a lifestyle that adjusts with the seasons adds an appreciation for each one I never had before. Our mornings are slower and later, are school days longer. Our days are dictated by the weather. On the nice days we head outdoors to play and work. On the cold days we snuggle up with a stack of books and something warm to drink. It’s a time to recover from the work of summer and prepare for the coming spring. It’s a time of creating art and learning new skills. Winter is what we make of it and for us we seldom grumble about the cold, but use it as a time to rest. A nice day is sure to come along eventually and the work will still be there waiting.

Around the Homestead

Early Winter…

Nearby Christmas tree farm
Cooking off turkey stock on our wood cookstove
The fruits of our labor
We left our carrots in our raised beds and seem to be storing well there.
Saving okra seed
Preparing for snow

Dad set a round straw bale in our sheep shed that we rolled out and used in our chicken coop for everyone to nestle down in when the snow came.

The next day

We have had more snow this year than usual which has been really nice.

But everyone stayed warm and dry inside
Yes, it is a baby mole saved from our cats.

We used this experience to learn and read all about moles. There was actually an entire nonfiction book about moles out our local library. Who knew!

Around the Homestead

Meat Birds, the last of the garden, and anticipating winter…

post for rebuilding our sheep chute and feed for our Cornish Rock Slow Growers
Good help
The last of the jalapenos for the freezer.
Willie Nelson
Jing Orange Okra-Seed Saving

And that concludes fall at our homestead. I still have some carrots in a raised bed waiting to be pulled. Other than that everything is pretty much ready for winter. Soon I will have to start filling the raised beds with manure and compost to breakdown over the winter and be ready again come spring.

Now, it’s time to curl up with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book (First We Have Coffee is my favorite). When work follows the seasons you gain a new appreciation for winter and the downtime that accompanies it.

In The Kitchen

Drinking Chocolate and Hot Carob

We are in the midst of an ice storm here. The perfect day for a cup of something hot. Randy and I like to make drinking chocolate and the girls drink hot carob (no caffeine, no refined sugar).

Drinking Chocolate

2 servings

2 cups milk

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate (we use Ghirardelli 100% Cacao)

6 T. coconut sugar

Dash of cayenne (optional)

Warm on stove top. Whisk and serve.

Hot Carob

2 servings

2 T. carob powder

2 cups milk

2 T. mesquite powder (you could also use 2 T. coconut sugar or vanilla stevia drops)

Warm on stove top. Whisk and serve.

Our girls get minimal to no sugar or caffeine, so this is plenty sweet for them.