March 2009


How is it that we keep accumulating more animals?  I’m a little confused.  Nothing else has given birth and yet…..  More animals.

I’ll be adding pictures this morning of our newest acquisitions – Stormy and Sunny.  Thanks Grandpa.  Just what we needed. 😛

So, it was time for the little ones to get disbudded.  And, me, being a gutless coward, headed off to a semi-local goat dairy.   Their son was ever so kind enough to do the dirty deed for me so that I wouldn’t have to be the bad guy to Latte and Heidi, who are now, for their own good, hornless goats.  Sigh.  It was pretty awful.

In the meantime, Miss Elizabeth went with me for moral support for Heidi.  They’re pretty close.  But at the last minute, Lizzie decided she couldn’t bear to watch.  So, she went off with the daughter in law to look at something….

Um, yes, pygmy goats.  Do they have a purpose?  Um, no.  I don’t think so.  Are we getting one?  Why yes, yes we are.  Why?  Couldn’t tell you.  BUT, Princess fell in love and Daddy said okay, and it’s a done deal.  Angel, our new little pygmy will be joining us in two weeks.  She’s really cute.  And about the size of our cat.  Yeah, not kidding.  TINY!

Now, that said, it, of course, led to a discussion on what are miniatures good for?  My thoughts, nothing.  But I was SO wrong!!

Turns out pygmies are the miniature version of a meat goat.  And Nigerian Dwarves are the miniature of a dairy goat.  See here?

Nigerian Dwarf Goat

Nigerian Dwarf Goat

So, a doe should be 17″-19″ in height.   Whereas if you take your average Saanen, they’re going to be about 32″ high.  So, you can see there’s a pretty significant difference.  And the same in milk supply…  Your average Saanen is going to give you about a gallon per day, or 8 pounds of milk.  The Nigerian is going to give you 3-4 pounds of milk per day, with 4 pounds maxing it out, or in other words, a 1/2 gallon at peak production.

Now, you combine the two and you have a mini Saanen!  The best of both worlds – you can feed your goats half what a normal goat would eat, due to their tiny stature and plan on getting about a 6 pounds of milk per day from your doe on average.  The Nigerian Dwarf in the genetics will also help drive up that butterfat content.  And let’s face it… Minis are NOT perfect for the average dairy farmer.  But, how fantastic are they for a suburban homesteader?  They’re slightly smaller than your average boxer dog, and since you really need to own two goats rather than one, the 1.5 gallons you get per day is just about perfect for any family, with a little leftover.   For us, we really wanted to own a buck.  With a half dozen does around, it’s going to be very inconvenient to not own our own buck.  However, with our space limitations and the need to keep the buck separate from the does, we just couldn’t see a way to make it happen.  Add to that the fact that I just can’t see myself dealing with a large, amorous, obnoxious buck and we have a problem.  When the buck is smaller than my dog, it makes it a little more convenient.  We can actually keep him in a large indoor/outdoor kennel attached to the barn.  Mini Saanens and Mini LaManchas…. for the homesteading family.  I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited!

We’re all sick here with the exception of a lucky few, so this is going to be short and sweet…

Went to a farm on Sunday and picked up fertilized eggs.  A variety of colors for a variety of chickens.  They’ll all be cross bred, but I’m not starting with $8-$12/dozen eggs to see if our incubator works!  The neighbors charged me a whopping $1.50 per dozen 🙂  They even threw in a free cat, lol. 

A variety of eggs!

A variety of eggs!

 The intention had been to  make our own incubator.   We went to Lowe’s and tossed the necessary equipment into our cart.  I was pretty excited.  But then we added up the bill and to make the incubator would have cost us approximately $65.  This incubator (a still air Little Giant) was $40.  That sweet and handy husband of mine has intentions of adding a fan to it.  (Old computers ARE good for something!)  For those of you who would really like to make your own, you can find great instructions at the Backyard Chicken Forum here.

Little Giant Still Air Incubator and Sweetest Pea

Little Giant Still Air Incubator and Sweetest Pea

 

Personally if I were going to recommend one, it would probably be the Hovabator brand and NOT this one, but you know what?  It was local and it was cheap and it was there when I had eggs.  Now, that said, we’ll be curious to see what kind of hatch we get…  If I got 50% I’d be happy.  If I  get 2/3 to hatch, I”ll be thrilled!  Honestly, with as many times as the kids have gotten on the table to “just look” if we get two chickens we should be ecstatic.

Eggs!!  In the Incubator!!

Eggs!! In the Incubator!!

This is pretty exciting for me.  It’s supposed to be for school, for the kids, blah, blah, blah.  We all know this is for Mom and that she’s probably the biggest kid of all.  But it’s pretty exciting!  Now, to just remember to turn them 3 times a day.  

For those of you also doing this, check out the University of Nebraska’s Embryology page.  Links to see candling, developing embryos, and more.  For those of you who don’t think you can do this because you can’t keep the chickens, local farmers are MORE than willing to “loan” out the eggs and then take the hens off your hands.  As a matter of fact, you’re doing all the hard work and they’re getting chickens!

*Do you realize sick children do not interrupt?  In here 15 minutes already and nothing…  Yup, that’s how you can tell they’re sick.  Have a good day.

today.  But no hints and no pictures!  You’ll have to wait ’til tomorrow!

A while ago, a few years back, I belonged to an elite little community called MOMYS.  MOMYS stands for Moms of Many Young Siblings and while anyone could be a member, in order to post you had to have four children within seven years.  This was a rule for many reasons, but mostly in that what works for a family of 1, 2, and 3 is not at all the same as a household of six children in less than nine years.  The dynamics and the juggling is very different.

I was reading Jenn’s comment on my last post and I was thinking of how to explain my thinking on closing True Vine.

Well, on this MOMYS digest, there have been a few moderators over the years and to my knowledge (there might be a new one now) but the most recent is Tina.  Now I respect Tina for a multitude of reasons, but the one thing she had a habit of drilling into the MOMYS was this one thing – the idea of Good, Better, and Best.

It was the concept of not just saying to oneself, “Is this thing I am doing a good thing?”  But instead evaluating the decisions in our lives as, “Is this the BEST thing I’m capable of doing?” 

There are times in each WAHMama’s life that the answer to this is going to be different.  Many WAHMamas have a financial obligation to their families.  In my instance this is not the case.  As a matter of fact we vowed to keep dumping all profits from True Vine back into True Vine in an effort to improve marketing, advertising, et cetera.  In each family “best” is going to be entirely different.  Some in the Christian communities assume that their personal conviction should be a mass conviction… whether it be private schooling, homeschooling, dress wearing, quiverful….  The truth is I am so busy keeping my own family I can’t possibly be someone else’s Holy Spirit.  Being mama and wife to my own little family is certainly a full time job on its’ own merit! 🙂 

My best was not getting done.  If I were to ask myself, “Is True Vine a good thing? This ministry created out of need for families with littles that have sensitive skin or can’t find QUALITY products that use safe preservatives or safe ingredients?”  It was definitely created out of our own personal need and I know through the years of searching myself, that the need exists.  For me it was a ministry of sorts.  So, I can easily answer that this creation was a very good thing!  But when I ask myself a slightly different thing  – “Is True Vine what is BEST for my family at this moment?”  The answer is most definitely no.  I cannot serve two masters no matter how valiantly I struggle.  And because of responsibility I had taken onto myself, I was trying to serve two – and only doing a partial job at both. 

I think that while this scenario applies to myself, I look forward to others asking themselves this same question.

When the children are watching Sesame Street, is it a bad thing?  Well, no.  But is it the BEST thing they could be doing or would there be a benefit in helping Mama prepare breakfast?  Is a child playing a GameBoy inherently evil?  Well, no.  But it isn’t the BEST use of that time.  Is Mama reading on the computer a bad thing?  No, if it’s not idly passing time.  If it’s serving the family (and it certainly CAN be that.)  But if she should be preparing a meal, reading to a little one, helping an older learn a new skill, or teaching a lesson, then it is NOT the best use of her time. 

Good, Better, Best… When we learn to differentiate from what is good and not evil to what is best, we’ll have attained a true gift.  “Not bad”  isn’t really a definition of Good.  

So I hope that I inspire you today to go beyond good.  To seek what is truly the best you can do.  Seek, actively, something wonderful to do for your spouse.  This can be a backrub to aching muscles, making a favorite meal, or just sitting and really, truly listening to his day tonight.  This can be reading a favorite book to a little one or singing a silly song.  It can be simply not complaining about something that went awry.  Or being cheerful when you just don’t feel like it.  But ask yourself today not to simply settle for good, but to strive for best and to be content with that which has been given to you. 

Contentedness with what we have, a thankful heart for that which we’ve been given, and a longing to give our best to others is most certainly the best we have in us from our Creator.

This week has been a long one…  I feel I need to very much clarify a statement I made.  I said that I have parasites in my life – things that feed off the time, the energy, the creativity that God has given me.  And when I said this I also said that True Vine is one of those parasites.  A sweet friend pointed out to me that her business and customers are a blessing.  I think that she is right and that she must have balance in her life.  My customers are a huge blessing to me.  True Vine is/was a huge blessing to me.  A blessing can become a burden when you allow it to consume more than it needs or more than it should have.

I fully admit I have very little self control. 🙂  I have a hard time keeping myself organized, or moving on to the next thing, like a schedule.  I like to do things to completion.  An example is that if I want to clean my living room – everything must be done.  The cushions get vaccumed under, the books get reorganized, the furniture gets rearranged, we vaccum under all of it.   If I make cookies, I never make the kind you refrigerate!  Because if I stop what I’m doing and move onto something else, I’ve lost interest.   I essentially am an adult with ADHD and I don’t say it lightly.  I know how to arrange my life in such a manner that I can get things accomplished, but I have a tendency to hyperfocus on individual things.

True Vine is my area that I hyperfocus.  Understand that when I am actively creating, packaging, listing, doing photography, et cetera that True Vine takes about 60 hours a week.   Supper time is moved, schedules get off, and my patience can be ‘nil if I’m working on a particularly challenging formulation that I want just right.

There are those who believe that the actual sin is impatience or lack of self control.  That is absolutely true.  But when you know the source of sin, do you continue to do what you’re doing, or do you cut it off.  If your eye causes you to sin are you not better off plucking it out?  I have ran True Vine for about three years now.  I’ve learned SO much.

Those of you who know me well, know I worried about it taking over even at it’s inception.  True Vine comes from the Book of John, Chapter 15.  And it is to remind us that life outside of the True Vine isn’t real.  To have life we must stay plugged into God.  True Vine was named just what it was named because I needed that reminder to stay plugged into God  and the life that He had called me to. Unfortunately I tried for three years to maintain that and failed more often than succeeded.  Ultimately I can see I derived much pleasure from True Vine.  The greatest addiction, of course, was the pats on the back.  I enjoyed creating and being praised for my creations.  Motherhood is not a thankless task.  I am thanked in a multitude of ways each and every day as I watch my children grow.  But it is true that the vast majority of public certainly underappreciate it.  Here, though, this creation, my business did get recognition.  It was a way to show family, friends, aquaintances that I was living, thinking, being…  Very capable of other things – marketing, packaging, formulating, but CHOOSING to be a wife and mother. 

So is True Vine a blessing?  Absolutely.  But, it was also a source for me to choose a wrong way.  For me, I had a hard time balancing it.  The hours spent creating were minimal.  All told, if I mixed up a batch of soap… Even one layered, swirled, and as complicated as I could make it…. You are talking no more than two hours all told.  But, the cutting, the packaging, the printing of labels, listing, photographing, advertising to sell that soap added up to another 2-3 hours.  And this was true with every item.  The amount of time to make any package was generally multiplied by 2 or 3 by the time it was sold.  My herbs do not take nearly so much time, but the competition in Bath & Body is very steep and to market a product, it must be packaged just so. 

And so we came to a very difficult, but relieving decision, to sell True Vine’s formulations to another natural bath and body maker.  I’ll be making that announcement in the coming weeks when she is ready for it. 

We retain the name and the herbal part of True Vine.  But ALL of the bath and body formulations are hers and she will continue to make our products under her name so that our customers can continue with the items they need.  I feel sadness and relief and joy all at the same time.  It’s a little frightening to let go of something that took up so much time, but at the same time it is very freeing for me.

I do believe in God-incidences.  This is where God allows or maneuvers situations and people in your life in order to benefit us in some way.  Now, the “benefit” doesn’t always seem beneficial.  In fact sometimes it seems like unncessary pain, hardship, or difficulty.  But, in the long run, it grows us.

We watched Fireproof last night.  Pretty fantastic movie.  They did a great job and I greatly appreciated what the church, the actors, producers, are doing through this work.  But out of all of it, I most appreciated Day 23.  Indeed, where the journal tells the man of “parasites” in his life.  Things that have taken over love, attention, time……

Now, the Lord has been dealing with me on some things… For literally, a couple of years.  Same scenario, over and over and over again.  Obviously I’m a bit of a blockhead.  So this morning I decided to forgo the computer time and spend a little time with Him as it should be.  And I asked, “Could you show me more clearly? ”  You see what I struggle with is using my time.  My particular parasites are connected – my computer time and True Vine.  They suck time, energy, and attention.  A lot of time, energy, and attention.  Anyone can be a mom.  It takes working ovaries and a uterus.  Anyone can be a wife.  Just say, “I do.”  But it takes time, energy, attention, commitment, and a willingness to serve to do it well.  It is not that I lack in these areas.  The Lord has given me these things.  But I’ve taken these gifts and spread them into other areas so that they are thin in other places.  It’s like having enough pizza sauce, but too much dough.  😛 

And so today, without any idea of what I was going to read, I simply opened my Bible to where a string was in it and read.  It happened to be at John 21.  If you read this story, you’ll see that this takes place after Christs’ death.   The disciples fished, and yet they caught nothing.  Thanks to the goodness of the Lord, their nets became full.  I liken this to our life within Christ.  He gives in abundance that which we need and sometimes even that which we do not know we need. 

And so they came to shore.  They prepared to eat. 

15 –  When they finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” 

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” 

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” 

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

 

I’m going to stop there.  There is more and it is relevant, but I’d like to go deeper for a minute.  In my Bible there are notes.  Apparently in this area, the type of love that Christ is talking about is agape love.  This love is translated as true love, the self sacrificing love that Christ showed when He died for us.  It was more than affection.  It was a deep, abiding, unselfish, giving of oneself, the type of love that is committed, that serves others. 

As this applies to ME, I see that Christ does not require a lot from me.   He does not ask as the world asks.  He does not ask for SuperMom.  He does not need me to be soccer mom, run my business, and spin 100 plates.  He does not me to know all, be all, and tell all.  He asks that I feed his lambs.  He has chosen me, at this moment, to be a wife and a mother.  To serve the children and the husband I have been gifted.  Can I truly say that I love them with a deep abiding self sacrificing love?  Can I say I do it in Christ’s name?  Can I say that I am loving (the action, not the warm fuzzy feeling) them each day, not on my own strength, but through HIM? 

Or am I allowing parasites to walk with me, stealing gifts He has given me to use to serve these lambs about me?  Am I allowing weaknesses of character, flaws of the human condition, or situations I’ve allowed, to steal my meek an quiet spirit?  The peace of Christ? 

I’d ask that you reflect today on your parasites?  What has Christ called you for at this very moment?  Not in ten years time, not even tomorrow, but to do today?  As He has put, and is putting, people into your life for YOU to serve (not to BE served) are you choosing to serve?  Are you doing so grudgingly or with the joy that knowing being Christ like is serving in His name?  Reflect on your motives.  Reflect on the parasites.  Make the changes necessary to serve Him by serving the lambs He has given us.  

I hope you have a blessed day.

So, two days ago on another forum we were asked to SHOW what a day was like for us.  Another forum had asked to see what our school rooms / school day looked like in homeschooling families.  So, yesterday,  the camera followed us around all day….

Morning comes around 5:30.  I get up with dh to make the coffee and see him off…  Still dark, and chilly.  No fire. 😦 

No ashes either.

No ashes either.

 But any morning that starts with coffee is a good morning. 🙂

And a favorite cup

And a favorite cup

A little computer time

A little computer time

But then

Sun's Up!

Sun's Up!

Chores will be a little chilly this morning.

Chores will be a little chilly this morning.

But first, a little breakfast of granola

But first, a little breakfast of granola

Or with strawberries :)

Or with strawberries 🙂

Preparing Breakfast for Dogs

Preparing Breakfast for Dogs

Big Brother Juices

Big Brother Juices

Sweetest Pea helps me sterilize for milking

Sweetest Pea helps me sterilize for milking

Girly Girl milks Cinderella

Girly Girl milks Cinderella

She milks Cinderella first, because Cinderella holds still, doesn’t kick, lets milk down easily, and pretty much pours it out into the bucket.   Gypsy… Um, well, not so much ANY of those things.  Old Bat.

I strain, measure, and chill

I strain, measure, and chill

 By this point, all little girls, big girls, and Big Brother have showered and are dressed.  Big Brother watches Shortie Pie while the rest of us go out and do chores.  His turn comes next.

Chicken Chores - Feeding Leftovers from Juicing

Chicken Chores - Feeding Leftovers from Juicing

Feed all the babies.

Feed all the babies.

 

Big Brother gets a bale of alfalfa for the does from the other barn.

Big Brother gets a bale of alfalfa for the does from the other barn.

 

While I milk.  Yes, in my pajamas.

While I milk. Yes, in my pajamas.

Showered and Dressed... Only four hours after waking up.

Showered and Dressed... Only four hours after waking up.

Finally.  We’re ready to start school.  Everyone is dressed, everyone is fed, including beasts.  I WISH we were all organized too.  As this is technically a cross-post because I’m lazy and was supposed to take pictures of my school areas last week. (Different board – school areas in a small house) This is going to double for  both posts. 🙂  Wait!  That’s not lazy.  It’s MULTI-TASKING!  It’s actually uber efficient.  That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Books, functioning as school books, in general state of disorganization.

Books, functioning as school books, in general state of disorganization.

This was our $14 find at the last farm auction we went to.  It allows me to have the rest of my books on my bookshelves.  I am VERY grateful. 

More coming……

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