OMGoodness, it was a long weekend.  I’m completely, thoroughly EXHAUSTED.  Did we get it all done?  Nope.  But, wow, we got quite a lot done.  The barn was gutted and we started over….  We now have three separate chicken pens, so far, with more to come.  The bunnies have an approx. 15′ x 12′ foot area for their little colony.  DH promises me toys for the rabbits.  I’m thinking a tiered platform, a place to crawl under, and a few little wire bottom nest boxes.  This with a few cardboard boxes to chew on should make them very happy.   The hens have their coop back and they seem appropriately grateful.  We’ll see how many eggs we get today. 🙂

Ana made Sarah’s birthday cake and did a lovely job.

Let me tell you, the Amish Division of Duties has a purpose!  On Saturday I worked inside all day long.  DH worked outside all day long.  At the end of the day we’d had three square meals, a clean house, crisp laundry, and an altogether pleasant day.  We had supervised children, good naps, and at the end of the day we rested, feeling accomplished.  Did I mention the rhubarb pie?  Hands down, THE best pie I’ve ever made.  And it had the flakiest crust… I used lard instead, as a good cook should. 🙂  I didn’t know you could make pie with ONLY rhubarb and still have it as sweet and delicious as a rhubarb mutt pie.  But I had nothing to mix it with, and was forced to use only rhubarb.  I think I’m making it again today.  So wonderful!

Fast forward to yesterday, day four of our long weekend.  We got moving fairly early on and headed out to the barn for the reconstruction.  I came in at lunch time and made lunch, but other than that we were flying by the seat of our pants.  Oh, and I admit it, we took a one hour nap.  😛  We deserved it.  We didn’t come in for supper last night until almost 9:30 in a last frantic effort to get it all done.  It didn’t happen.

We were expecting a homeschool group today and so that was our motivation to get it all done.  It didn’t happen.  But, as it rained all day yesterday and it’s expected to rain all day today, the visit by the group has been cancelled.  And that’s for the best.  Because everything is MUD.  And on a farm, mud isn’t wet dirt, it’s wet… Well, you get the picture and the picture isn’t pretty.  I’m a little sad as I really wanted to meet everyone!  However, we had planned on a great little picnic lunch, and as DH is only in the planning stages of our big table, we currently only have four chairs, the computer chair, and one very small dining room table.  At meals, two children sit at the island and two more sit at the Step 2 plastic table.  It works well enough, and I’m really excited about the Amish style trestle table we’ve been planning.  We are using reclaimed barn wood and we’ll have big, long benches.  Imagine it – ALL of us sitting around the same table.  Very exciting.  Even better, DH will have made it.  Honestly, I don’t even care if it turns out ugly…  I just think it will be neat to sit around a table my DH made with his own hands. 

What else was on my list?  Oh yes!  Stake the goats.   LOL!  Well, you can’t say we didn’t try.  And try.  And try.  And the only thing it resulted in was putting Heidi up for sale.  This is Heidi:

buddies

She’s a pretty little Saanen, but what we’re going to spend in aspirin really isn’t going to make her worth it.
She uses the window sill of the barn to vault her over a five foot fence.  No, really, she does.  She can crawl through cattle gate and under a gate that the mini doesn’t get through.  She’s exhausting.  So we staked her.  She managed to somehow get the collar to unclip.  How does a goat pull that off?  Sigh.

Stormy & Sunny

Stormy & Sunny

This is Stormy & Sunny.  They’re CJ’s pigs.  Aren’t they, um, well, lovely?  We cleaned their pen yesterday and MY they are naughty…   And yes, daring.  Yes, they escaped too.  Tim was supposed to keep them away while I did poop removal.  Never trust your four year old to hold back the vicious pigs. 🙂  Who KNEW pigs could run that fast?  I sure didn’t.  I tell you I am going to stay in such good shape, lean and trim, this pregnancy.  Stormy and Sunny have learned to tip their trough and roll it through the poop.  Now, that’s FUN.  And they can also jump in their water tub and splash all the water out until it’s light enough to roll around through poop too.  Smart pigs, hm?  Ha Ha.  I outsmarted them.  And, pathetically, I was pretty proud that I *could* outsmart them.  I think the more I work with livestock, the more easily I take pride in being able to outsmart them.  I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or just really sad.   I took my handy dandy drill and attached BOTH to the wall with really long screws.  And they were still there this morning.  Always a good sign.

A Boy & His Boat

A Boy & His Boat

And because rain has ruined my day, here’s the gratuitious rainy day photo.  Nope, not our farm.  It was our house in town last year.  But isn’t it fun? The cardboard box is his boat.  Our neighbor, Jim, (I miss him!) said he was going to put bluegills in there the next time it rained because Tim was so excited about having his very own pond.  Blessedly, shortly after this, DH and another neighbor dug up backyard and fixed the tile.  Poor Tim, no more pond.  But, let be said, the only thing I miss about moving here is that we couldn’t take all of our neighbors with us.  They were so awesome.

Camping

Camping

I REALLY wanted to take the kids to my Uncle John’s timber this weekend camping.  It truly is “roughing” it as there is NO escape from the outdoors – you couldn’t get a camper, or a PortaJohn for that matter, down there if you tried.  But you could never, ever duplicate the experience.  Yes, it’s never fun getting poison ivy on your more delicate parts from visiting Mrs. Murphy (you’d have to read Cheaper by the Dozen to understand), but at the same time, we hunt, gather, and find more herbs and edibles there than you can imagine. 

Rebecca & Jewelweed

Rebecca & Jewelweed

Thankfully, in that very poison ivy filled timber, there is also jewelweed – a.k.a. Touch-Me-Not.  Rebecca is with pale Touch-Me-Nots, but we were also able to find the more potent orange  spotted Touch-Me-Nots.  This was last year.  I have the frozen syrup in my freezer as the dried herb doesn’t work effectively.  Only fresh or frozen… I’ve been storing it all year long, just hoping to get poison ivy to try it out. 

 

Elderberries

Elderberries

A rather nice haul of elderberries wouldn’t you say?  Now, the only thing I’ve wanted to make this year is Clover jam and Dandelion blossom jam.  I was hoping for a trip to the timber yesterday and a batch, but alas, it did not happen.  Now, if only we can stay motivated to finish the barn today and tomorrow, then MAYBE this weekend will be for fun and playing.  Ya think?
Chamomile & Oats ~ Debuting @ Creatively Serene today!

Chamomile & Oats ~ Debuting @ Creatively Serene today!

But I’m finally done formulating my baby wash!

And Andrea (WANTED Web Design) made me a lovely label for it!

I’ve been making soap for a good while, but this is our first batch from our own goats!  Made from calendula infused olive oil, shea butter, goatmilk, and more!  No synthetic fragrance oils, just lavender essential oil….

Lavender & Goatmilk Soap

Lavender & Goatmilk Soap

I finally had time to relist Solace again on Etsy.  It’s an Arnica balm, but this one is tweaked a bit.  I don’t add other items, like cayenne pepper, because I like to use Arnica for bruising for little ones.  Cayenne can be a skin irritant, so great for sore muscles, but not so hot on delicate little folk skin!  The Arnica isn’t infused with heat, but instead this is Arnica with months and months of time…. Quality takes patience.  Enjoy!

Solace Arnica Balm

Solace Arnica Balm

True Vine's Etsy

True Vine's Etsy

Etsy, how I love thee.  An audience who appreciates handmade!

Etsy Mini

After a long vacation, I’m creating again, in a new space.  It feels so strange to break out my familiar materials and be in this huge kitchen, with new countertops.  I’m almost nervous to make soap.  Isn’t that strange?  I have teas to blend today.  The Red Raspberry Blend of course, and then a luscious Orange & Jasmine Green tea.  It’s divine and I’m not fond of Green Tea, but this one, well, this one is downright lovely.

My computer room is the favorite nook of the house.  It’s in the back and I can hide here in the very earliest hours of the morning before the kids are awake.  I have my racks back here… Shelves and shelves of herbs and usually drying soap.  My soap shelves are very nearly empty.  They’re staring at me… Taunting me to make more soap.  I’ve been a bit lazy since the move and just wanting to feel very settled in.  I don’t have that feeling yet.  Everything doesn’t have its’ own place yet.  But, despite that, I’m breaking out my molds, cutters, and oils this morning.  Perhaps I’ll have something lovely to show you next week.  For now, I’ll leave you with my newly (and lightly) stocked Etsy!

Who we are, what we’re about… In pictures.

True Vine has had a bit of an evolution from the time it was created until now.  I began soaping going on three years ago, but have been interested in herbs for far longer.  I began dabbling in 2001, when I began taking red raspberry leaf during my pregnancy with Elizabeth and it’s grown over the years.  When I began soaping, I just wanted to find an outlet for using herbs and essential oils.  I wanted to make something good, something healthy, to nurture my family.

It grew beyond my expectations and it became a bit overwhelming.  We had many choices to make…  To see how successful it could be, or to scale it back a bit to manageable proportions.

In the end we found what we truly wanted we knew all along.  True Vine, from John 15, means staying grounded in God and what He would want for us.  I see True Vine as a ministry to other families, wanted to raise their little ones with healthy products.  We’ve scaled back so that it’s success would not be at the expense of our family’s well-being. 

In the end, we’ve found that we are all happy when I am a wife and mother first and foremost.  And in my spare time, while walking WITH my children, I’m able to create a few great products, especially for mamas and little ones… Naturally.

Free of parabens, free of fragrance oils, sulfates, and striving hard to utilize organic and natural materials, we create these items for our families and for families like ours.

 

Red Raspberry Leaf Herbal Blend

Red Raspberry Leaf Herbal Blend

Owner and creative director of True Vine Herbs, I’m also the mama of eight, yes, eight little folk.  My husband and I have been happily married for almost thirteen years.  True Vine is the very necessary outpouring of creative energy.   The name is based on the book of John, chapter 15 and defines my goals as a mother. 

We have been homeschooling for eight years and we’ve recently moved to a farm in the Midwest.  Our children are thoroughly enjoying their new found freedom… 

We school with a classically eclectic style and a Charlotte Mason twist. 😉  Essentially, it’s a hodge podge of what I like and what I can tolerate, with a firm belief in lots of outdoor time, short lessons, and a plethora of truly great books.   All children need hours of fresh air and plenty of food for the imagination…

 I’ve been asked where these toys came from!

The playsilks were dyed by Lori at Beneath the Rowan Tree.  Playsilks truly inspire children to use their imagination and ours are played with constantly.  Every child should have some!  And Lori makes the most beautiful ones.  But I’m biased.  We love Lori.  Where’s the heart icon? I actually asked Lori to make these for ME as I wanted them as the backdrop for photos.  But I felt SO greedy, hoarding them to myself.  The kids would have drooled all over them.  They pretend the green one is grass, the brown is dirt, et cetera.  And the colors aren’t just solid.  They are a beautiful blend, just like in nature.  I can’t tell you how vibrant the colors are and pictures just DON’T do them justice.

The waldorf doll in the picture is made by Barbara from Aunt Boo’s Babies.  Barbara and I both belong to the NaturalKids Etsy team and I can only say she makes the most beautiful waldorf dolls I’ve ever seen.  She also does customs.  This is the third doll we’ve had done by her and her work is lovely and my girls love her dolls.

The play food was crocheted by Jessica of Crochet Fun Time.  I know, lots of people make wool food.  However, the detail on these are fabulous.  The pink grapefruit has pith, pink flesh, an orange/yellow rind.  The avocado pit is actually 3D.  The radishes are made of a yarn that is this lovely pink/red variegated blend… The veggies and fruits have leaves, and they are just fantastic.  A lot of thought, creativity, and love went into these and I just can’t thank her enough.