Thursday, January 22, 2015

Going Country...Settlin' In

Greetings Strangers! As many of you know, I've been updating Facebook with lots of pictures of our "Going Country Adventure", but the blogging, well. Yes, the blogging hasn't been so hot since we haven't had internet on our property. Sneaking away to a Chick-Fil-A to update wasn't as easy as I thought as I watch my five, little darlings on the playground. I'll even admit to sitting in a McDonald's parking lot (there's very limited WiFi in a small, country town) trying to gather up information on You Tube to AI a cow! (This life has become anything but dull I tell ya!) 
 

Although I've really enjoyed being disconnected for about seven months, I haven't gotten to share this rich blessing with you all either! So, we caved and got internet. Ha!
 
This adventure has been anything, but easy. I thought about just picking up and blogging about fun recipes, fencing tutorials or really great pictures of our beautiful chickens, but neh! If I don't document the rest of the pictures and videos of the "before", I'll regret it, I'm sure.
 
So WARNING! Looooong, post ahead (if you dare to read)...
 
The packing, oh the packing! I don't ever want to see another banana box for a long time. Seriously. Packing was hilarious because every time I thought we were done, a cupboard would be opened and yet something else needed to be packed. We were able to get rid of so much "stuff" and that was liberating, let me tell you.
 
We loaded the camper first with daily essential items, then watched as the 1-800-pack-rat box showed up one day. Loaded that sucker up and the rest. Well, the rest went into our barn at the property.
 
Months prior, we spent every weekend we could (weather permitting) driving to the property and chopping down more trees to make way for the camper and scrambling to get a chicken coop made (with 5 children, including a baby on my back and building late into the night with hardly any light to see...it was interesting to say the least!). At the last minute, our city chickens decided they were pretty much done laying eggs and so I gave them away to a 4-H program, a tad relieved we weren't going to have to figure a way of getting them up to the property too.
 
I remember the weeks before leaving. Days filled with keeping the kids busy with more packing, popsicles and just playing outdoors. 
 
Titus took his first steps just before we left and wound up doing more practicing in the camper and...
 
in the camper at the new farm.
 
 
Leaving the old house was bitter sweet as it was the house Rob and I left on our first date when we were 16 and 17 years old. 
 
 
Dad was sweet to come help us get the house ready to rent out. Not easy to watch our family verse be painted over, but it had to be done. I am currently scouting out a new wall for our verse to go in the  new house. Moving out of the house was difficult. We had help, but did so much on our own. We were up until 3a.m. the night of our anniversary cleaning the old  house, painting, scrubbing, mopping and worst of all, we knew we were going to have to put down our beloved Golden Retriever, Riley. Riley was old and unable to get up and walk at this point. Mom watched the kids so Robbie and I could take her to the SPCA and put her down. My heart ached. Our first "child". Our trusty, old girl who loved every baby we brought home, knowing she'd get less of our time and affection. She was so loyal. I miss her still and wish we could've brought her up here to bury. The trip would've been too uncomfortable for her though. Rest in peace Riley.
 
 
Life in the camper was indescribable. To begin, our first day waking up at our property was amazing! We were nervous and excited all at the same time. Our well had just been completed and our electricity had just been run so we would have running water and electricity. July 2nd was the day we moved. I remember the weeks leading up to our move, we were waiting by the day, waiting for calls that our electricity and well had been completed. We were thrilled when we got the "go ahead" and that we did...go ahead, I mean.
 
We went with gusto!
 
The following day (Isaac's 3rd birthday), we drove back to the old house for the cows and rabbits. (Thankful at this point we didn't have chickens to transport.) I remember pulling up and letting the cows run free. Mabel bucked up her heels and took off. I was beaming, thanking the Lord for this land. Molly and Mabel hung out in the stalls that day until we could make them a "quick do" Little House on the Pararie fence. It was small, but bigger than they were used to. (We now have an acre properly fenced in for them which we're currently clearing for pasture.)
 
As each day passed, we learned more about the land and ourselves. Although the beginning was full of excitement and bliss, each week brought new frustrations and joys at the same time. We depended on the Lord, fully. Building a farm from the ground up wasn't for wussies and this was what we were finding out quickly. I, personally, struggled with spiritual warfare, but the experience grew me like never before. I was challenged to "test the spirits" as Paul warns.
 
I John 4:1...
 
"Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world."

I prayed a lot, did a lot of research and read a book called Spiritual Warfare by Dr. Karl Payne that really helped me. The enemy is powerful and has amazing ways of disguising himself as "from God", but I had a friend and mentor help me through the testing to where I became at peace. I hope that that experience will allow me to help others who may be going through spiritual warfare as well. I am not an expert, certainly, but when faced with trials and times of growth, I can not emphasize ENOUGH that you need to be PREPARED mentally and spiritually to persevere and follow through with what God has revealed to you and the faith He has given you.
 
Our remaining days were filled with living off of popsicles stored in the fridge in our barn, exploring our property, playing with the animals and a few visits from friends, one in particular who drove up with 4 children just to fill our refrigerator and then head home again. I got teary-eyed when she left, knowing we had support from back home. I looked forward to each visit from friends and treasured each minute.
 
("Hills" in our new town. We love driving up and down them.)
 
We waited 2 months and then our house came down the road. It was a magical day. I was exploding inside. It took about 2 weeks to get everything set up and functioning. We prepared a BBQ for friends and family who could come help us move in. Well, the BBQ got ruined due to rain, but we still managed to feed everyone, unload the Pack Rat box and barn.

(The 10 Commandments in our little downtown.)
 
A sweet friend collected all of our laundry hung amongst our trees (they had been hanging for 3 days straight between rain storms) and were starting to smell. I told the men helping us move that my first request was to get the dryer hooked up. The feel of freshly washed and dried laundry was incredible. I think I kissed my dryer at that point. No, really.

(Downtown courthouse dating back to the 1800's...Civil War time.)
 
The first night in our new house was strange. We had WAY TOO MUCH SPACE. It took weeks to get adjusted to being back in a home, but it was a good feeling.

We didn't have internet or cable while in the camper. Only movies and my itty-bitty phone to feel somewhat "connected". We found a sweet, little church and have gotten to know some amazing families. It's very family-friendly and we love that. The thing that took getting used to was that we could talk "farm talk" with people here and they didn't have puzzled looks on their faces or think we were weird because we like to produce our own food. Most people do here. Hay in the back of your car is the norm. We've been able to get to know a few specific families up here (with amazing connections that only the Lord could put together) who are also permaculturally-minded. We love visiting each other's farms, learning from each other and already have some chicken processing days planned out.

(Old grave yard on a hill near a lake in our town)
 

Avonlea had her 9th birthday party here just shortly after we moved into the house. How we threw it together, I have no idea.

It's sometimes strange thinking that this is the only home Titus will remember (should the Lord keep us here indefinitely). He will never know a life without acres of land, chickens, cows, etc.

There isn't a day that goes by where I'm still not flabbergasted as to how we got here. It still feels like a dream. A dream that the Lord revealed to us, trusted us with and now is watching every step we take making sure we are good stewards with what He has given us. Our land, our finances, our animals He's given to us and our children.

(Mabel at 10  months old...will be ready to be bred this coming April/May)
 
The projects around here seem endless sometimes. Daunting to say the least. I remember taking a drive one time, feeling under so much pressure to "do it right". I remember pulling into a driveway of a farm not too far from here (it was vacant and for sale and I often looked at it, times when we'd drive past). I remember looking at how beautiful it was, thinking, "Will we ever get our own farm fully running and beautiful?" As I felt sorry for myself, I had this feeling of "Just get your butt in gear and keep working girl and it WILL fully function someday. Quit whining!" I wiped a tear or two, kicked the car in reverse, put my big girl pants on and haven't looked back since. Still get overwhelmed sometimes, but the "Just keep swimming" tune comes into my head and then I just think of what the Lord has done through us and my pouty lip gets put away.

We now have roughly 25 heritage breed egg laying chickens. (Although, we're waiting for that first egg moment still..next month should mark 6 months and we'll be scouting daily for sure. I'm so tired of paying for sub-par, grocery store eggs.)

The scoop on Molly and Mabel (this picture was taken when we were separating them to wean Mabel)...well, we've had a few tries at breeding Molly to a local mini-bull by the name of "Leo", but no luck. Norah says that they, "Just weren't twitterpated enough". Maybe she's right. Anyway, we've learned a lot about watching for heat signs in cows, but it's pretty hard to do when they're alone and not in a herd. So we put the girls back together and now we see what others are talking about when they say that they're "able to tell when a cow is in heat". Yep. The mounting each other gets interesting. Long story short, we'll be using AI (Artificial Insemination) for both girls this spring. Same bull to help us keep record. He's a well-tempered (very important after our "episode" with a ferocious bull named Beau), A2/A2 beta casein, polled bull in Texas. A sweet, Christian family owns him and I can't wait to get this process started.

As we've been putting together, things on the farm that is, we've been trying to use up as much organic material that we already have here versus purchasing from a store. The cattle fencing we couldn't get around, but as for pig fencing, our composter and our garden beds, all have been made using pine trees and yearling trees (for weaving). We have some heritage Yorkshire/Berkshire piglets coming any day now.

Our family  has definitely learned a lot about begin a TEAM through this process. It's a lifestyle that not many choose, but it's one we're desperately in love with. The kids say all the time when we go into the city that they can't wait to get back home to "fresh air and grass". (grin) I personally get nautious when we go into the city. Too much concrete for this girl, but in terms of witnessing the gospel to the lost, I have to give it to the ones God has called into the cities to share His love and salvation.

I have seen a tremendous change in my sons specifically. They're attention spans are different because they practically live outside, doing the things that little boys enjoy doing...pretending to chop down trees, playing swords with sticks, running, exploring, laying down on the soft earth just to stare up at the sky, chasing chickens, riding cows and horses (of which we have two now), roasting around campfires, riding bikes without Mommy having to watch their every move in a busy street or worry about cars, shoot BB guns into the woods and just "be". It's what God intended and somehow, we've gotten it mixed up. Sometimes, I do wonder what little boys sitting in classrooms all day in the city would be like if they were just given the chance to really live, expand their minds and explore.

One thing that has become my favorite living here is looking at the stars at night (sorry, there's not a picture of the starts, but I'm expecting a new camera lens in the mail and then I'll give it a whirl).
 
It's breath-taking.
 
We've seen a lot of shooting stars up here as well.

(Norah and her bunny..."Peanut"...who Daddy had to shoot a few weeks ago because it attacked Lincoln. Sad story, really.)

We've really enjoyed visiting others' farm up here too, constantly gleaning. Constantly learning.

(Titus and Avy at another farm)

 

So many things have taken a back seat to us moving. Homeschooling...we're still playing catch up. Baking, cooking, etc...for awhile, we just ate convenience foods since my mill and many other larger appliances were put away in the barn. Getting everybody back on track with healthy eating hasn't been bad though. The kids always enjoy helping me in the kitchen, preparing meals. They're learning and we talk constantly about food, where it comes from, pesticides, GMO foods that are now changing human DNA, etc. They're fascinated and while a certain food may not be their favorite, they eat it (most of the time)  knowing that it's a better choice.

I've been enjoying getting back into baking and learning new recipes. I found some recipes for soaked bread recently and am looking forward to trying it (a gluten-free way to eat wheat...gotta soak it to get the gluten out.)

The kids have really remained close the majority of the time we've been here, especially in the house. The last week in the camper, we were starting to feel very much like we all wanted our own space. The house was such a blessing at that point. I think that we could've lived out of the camper longer if we would've had more of a long term mentality going. We would've built on a deck, installed an internet satellite on the camper, built a carport over it, parked it in a different spot on the property, etc.

I was so grateful for the book from American Family Now. It got me through some tough days and made me appreciate the amazing days.

I guess I won't be titling any more posts "Going Country" since we're here now. Bitter sweet friends. Bitter sweet. I look forward to catching up with all of you and hearing what you've been up to this past 6 months! We're so thankful for all our cheerleaders who prayed for us, brought food, helped us move and supported us. You kept us going and we're so thankful!
 
Blessings to you all and I look forward to staying up-to-date here in Blogger World, Lord-willing!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Welcome to...
Welcome! Welcome! Welcome!
 
Can you tell, this lady is excited to welcome you to her farm? {large grin}
Well, I am. We have been beyond blessed to take on this amazing journey as the Lord has lead us in every step. The last post, I shared some of our first week living at our property. We lived out of our camper for about 3 months (July, August, and September), and then...ohhh, then. Our house was "delivered". I got a bit teary-eyed as it came slowly (VERY slowly) down our little dirt road. So many days I woke up motivated to farm. Just to get my hands dirty and plant something, till something, build something, milk something. However, that's not what the first three months entailed. The first three months were full of remaining with God (John 15), staying closely knit to Him as we definitely endured some hardships. We were tested to our max, but we made it. Some have asked if we would do it all over again and I don't know if I would. If I knew the feeling of the outcome, I know I would, but it was a very difficult time on our family. I journaled a lot and prayed a lot. I looked forward to visits from friends and family. There were amazing days where we were on "cloud 9" to be here and days where we felt alone and helpless. I wouldn't trade the experience for the world though. The growing that we did wasn't something I'll ever forget.  With various trials and spiritual warfare we endure, the Lord is always teaching us how to come out of it a more mature Christian and able to help and disciple others about to go through similar trials. I am grateful.


 
Some changes we've gotten used to now are collecting our mail in the middle of our road. The kids love riding their bikes and collecting and delivering mail to pen pals from back home. Each mailbox is different, old and new and has a story to go along with how they took residence in our area.
 
We've gotten used to loading the trash cans onto the mower wagon and driving it out to the end of the road for trash pick up.


A simple trip to the grocery store has these views and I never tire of them. I never tire of the grazing cattle and horses, the wide open spaces, sunshine and blue skies, green grass and rolling hills.

There might be 8 traffic lights in our town and we LOVE that. No stop and go traffic. We just drive.

Here's Titus getting his first haircut in the camper. I miss his curls. He's 18 months old now, climbing everything and babbling away.

Here's a picture of our washing at one point in the camper. Our hose broke and we had to fill up at our well for both washing and animal troughs. I was thankful that I bought a washing plunger for this very "just-in-case moment".

Norah taking a spin at it.

...and our house. We've never lived out of a manufactured home before, but we LOVE it! Larger than our last house, more spacious (with a milking/laundry room) and a fraction of the cost we're hoping to have paid off as soon as possible. It's a 4 bedroom, 2 bath and I'm planning on a future post including a tour.

Our little road at sunrise. So peaceful and quiet.

I love watching the sun coming up through the trees.

Fire wood that has definitely been useful. We have so much more to cut and stack. We're deciphering whether or not to use the lumber for garden beds or plant in ground.

My itty-bitty potting table for now.

A view from my kitchen window. Stay tuned for the official tour of our house, farm and even our town. My camera has been busy. So much to share and update! God continues to blow our socks off with His blessings and beyond coincidence circumstances and people He has brought into our lives. To God be the glory!