A Time for Reflection by Nancy Carter, Senior Editor
Our first Christmas on our homestead was simply magical for us. It signaled the beginning of how drastically our lives had changed since moving to the country. As I looked at my Christmas list, I realized that I really didn’t need to go to the mall. I needed to spend my time shopping at the local farm stores or browsing websites for the best deals on coveralls, work gloves, and things for the barn. I also found myself wanting to give handmade gifts–gowns for my nieces, a robe for my mom, and a fleece blanket for my nephew. Yep, the times had definitely changed.
And I don’t know about you, but when I look out at our barn in the winter, feel the cold, smell the hay and horses, and look at the stars shining brightly overhead, I can’t help but think of our Savior’s humble birth. For us, moving to the country has been as much of a spiritual journey as anything. It’s been about getting back in touch with things as God intended them. Raising animals with plenty of grass and sunshine with no chemicals. Growing our own garden so we can pick the veggies at the perfect ripeness. Hunting to fill our freezer with meat. Baking homemade bread with freshly ground organic wheat. Discovering salves and herbal remedies made from locally grown plants. Learning how to deal with horses, chickens, dogs, and cats. And dreaming of so much more.
It’s been quite a journey. And it hasn’t always been easy. This year a tornado hit our property and destroyed one barn. Our beloved old horse died, and we lost a bunch of our chickens to the heat. But through it all, we’ve been so thankful for where God has led us. We are blessed with plenty of room for the boys to explore and plenty of work to keep them busy. We treasure the peace and quiet that we never experienced in town. And most of all, we’re thankful for the chance to get back to our roots–to learn new things and to teach our children as well.
May your 2007 be blessed whether your homestead is in the country, in the middle of town,
or just in your hearts.
Senior Editor of HomesteadBlogger
Garden-Style Gifts by Catherine Love
Although the Christmas gift-giving season has already passed, I thought I’d share some gift ideas sure to please the gardener on your list. Now is a great time to find some great clearance items!
Garden-style gift ideas abound. With just a bit of shopping, you will find garden signs, wind chimes, lanterns, flags, and more to choose from. Try the flea market or yard sales for vintage glassware, antique tools, and beautiful old pottery. Also consider things like vases, flower frogs, floral tape, and ribbons for the flower enthusiast. Skin-care items, such as gardener’s soap, lotions, or sunscreen, are a nice gift or stocking stuffer. For more practical no-nonsense types, how about a basket filled with plant markers, twine, coin envelopes for storing seeds, peat pots, seed-starting medium, and a bottle of organic fertilizer? Gift certificates from nurseries or seed companies are a great gift. Give the gift of time–Any gardener would appreciate a coupon for an hour of weeding the garden or for help with planting or harvesting. How about a coupon for a back rub for that special gardener in your life? Use your imagination and you will surely come up with some fabulous gifts for the gardener!
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M&M Cookie Mix in a Jar by Lisa Barthuly
1 1/4 cups sugar
Attach this to the jar on a card:
Lisa Barthuly, her husband Marc, and daughters Mercy and Cassandra live in Washington State on their little homestead… with Cooter the Dog, Beauty the Kitten, and lots of wild critters. They pray for more critters and more children (they have a blessing on the way, joining the family in January!) and love the quiet country life amongst God’s creation. Check out their website, Homestead Originals, where they specialize in all-natural Soy Wax Candles, books, and gifts.
Winter Wear to Get the Job Done by Harriette K. Jacobs
Winter is upon us and regardless of the weather, there is much to do on a daily basis outside around the old farm and homestead. Livestock, winter crops, farm maintenance, and even spring planning cannot wait for ideal weather conditions. These responsibilities must be tended to daily, even in the winter elements.
Here are some suggestions for dressing to protect yourself from winter’s harshness while working outside to get it all done:
Watch for end-of-season sales to stock up on gloves, hats, and socks; these items seem to suffer the most wear. This is also a good time to acquire insulated coveralls and heavier coats at substantial markdowns. Check your local farm supply stores, mail order companies, and online farming suppliers as well. Don’t rule out checking the hunting and outdoor departments of sporting goods stores for great deals. Ladies, don’t hesitate to check the menswear department. Those coveralls I mentioned were originally my husband’s.
Safety during the winter months is of utmost priority. Make sure someone knows where you’ll be working. Have a start time as well as a designated stopping time, and keep a cell phone with you for emergencies. Stay warm, stay dry, and cherish the freedom of this precious lifestyle we share as a common bond.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this issue of The Homestead e-Newsletter. We’d love to hear what you think about it. Did you try the recipes, craft suggestions, or any of the other tips? We want to hear about it! And we also want to hear your suggestions for future newsletters. Is there a topic you’d like to see covered that we haven’t yet? Would you like to contribute a column? Just let me know! You can email me at SeniorEditor@HomesteadBlogger.com. Or just stop by The Front Porch and say "Hello" when you’re visiting us at HomesteadBlogger!
Well I got home and the big boys got home from hunting just in time for the tornado.
Is it just me or do the rest of you sometimes just feel like money simply flows through your fingers?
Our oldest son has been working for a friend of ours the past couple of weeks and has now officially become known as "The Apprentice".
Ten Favorite Characters from your Childhood
- Captain Kangaroo
Well I suppose it wasn’t too hard for most of you to guess what’s new at our farm.
A homeschool author mailed me a copy of his book and asked if I’d be willing to look at it and share about it with you all so being one who always enjoys a good book, I was happy to oblige.
Jake’s pony, Lady, is dead.
It’s kind of interesting looking back through the archives. Kinda depressing too. But through it all, God was there. He is here. He knows and He cares. And that is a wonderful gift. I always am quick to remind others to look for God’s grace even in the difficult circumstances. I have to remind myself to do that too.
May you all look back at 2006 seeing God’s grace through it all and may your 2007 be a testimony to His Love and Care.
No, I’m not so desperate for comments that I’m paying people to comment here. But I heard about a great way that Kelly at Pass the Torch is raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Her corporate sponsor, Empowering Youth Inc. , will donate $1 for every comment she receives on this entry before Saturday night. Isn’t that fabulous?!
It doesn’t cost you a thing, but you can help raise money for St. Jude just by taking the time to click over there and comment. And you can even help her reach her goal by commenting once per day. Just let her know that Nancy from Lessons Learned on the Farm sent you and spread the word on your blogs as well!
The stories are educational and absolutely delightful with wonderful photographs which help tell the stories. I’ve already passed along the links to my homeschool group and am excited about sharing the links with all of you. I love how Quaker Anne describes their reasons for sharing their farm stories for free on the internet rather than publishing as a book for sale.
We well know how dark and perilous the Internet can be, but, herein we offer to proclaim our Christian faith through the stories about our life on the farm as one more lamp shining to illuminate Christian truths and the love and goodness of Christ.
And as much as I enjoyed reading the beautiful Children’s Stories, I also enjoyed browsing their gorgeous farm website. They are located in Harrisville, Michigan where they have been pasture farming since 1985. They specialize in heirloom breeds of animals and produce as well. They provide everything from honey to soaps to chickens, turkey, wool, mutton, produce, compost, AKC collies, and so much more. They look like they are pretty self-sustainable to me!
I love hearing about successful family farms raising things as God intended. And I love their heart for sharing their faith and knowledge through simple living workshops, various classes and farm tours, and their website and children’s stories.
My hat is off to the fine folks at Quaker Hill Farms. I truly enjoyed my visit to their website and if I’m ever in their neck of the woods, I’d love to visit with them in person!