Thursday, April 13, 2017

Welcome Silas Caleb!
It was a Monday evening, April 3, when we got the call. I had been working furiously in the garden, trying to get the last of the tomato starts in. I was covered in dirt and sweat, hadn't made a thing for dinner. I was determined to finish the spring garden gettin' in. I conquered and won.

Robbie pulled into the driveway and went in to change and come out and help me finish staking all the tomato plants (because that's the kind of husband he is) while Avonlea volunteered to make quesadillas for dinner. We got everything in just in time for dark to set in. I decided to take Avonlea out for a drive for some girly time.

We were only a few minutes into driving when I got a phone call from our adoption coordinator. She said, "I may have a placement for you!" My jaw dropped and I put her on speaker phone so Avonlea could hear.

We talked details about birth mom and baby (she had already left the hospital days ago). Before we hung up, she said we would have 12 hours to get there before he was discharged from the hospital and either put into foster care or with another adoption agency. It was a night of prayer! So many questions zoomed through our minds. The baby was born breech and his hips were of concern. We also didn't know the full health record of mom.

We prayed all night both together and alone. I woke up the next morning, with Rob off to work, and me standing in my closet wondering if I should put on grubby farm clothes or a nice outfit to go pick up my SON. The tension was high. I didn't know what to DO that day. What was this day going to look like? Should I pack the diaper bag and car seat into the van? Do I get the kids' "Big Brother"/"Big Sister" shirts out of the closet (bought a year before..."Gosh, I hope they fit!")? I got on my knees and prayed, HARD. I showed the kids his picture (sent via text the night before) and they all "oohed" and "ahhed" over him. We knelt down on the couches to pray together. It was a precious moment...all 6 of us kneeling, asking God if He wanted us to have this precious baby.

I had my phone glued to me that morning, receiving more calls with details. I called Robbie and told him that I wanted to get to that hospital and get our son. He agreed that this was God's plan.

I ran to the nursery closet and grabbed all 5 big brother/sister t-shirts, flung them at the kids and said to get dressed. I went into the closet to change OUT of my grubby farm clothes and into some jeans and a blouse to zoom to the hospital in. Everyone was giddy with delight, scrambling, loading up the carseat and bags into the van.

We stopped at Tractor Supply for some rabbit food, because when your animals are out of feed, you stop at Tractor Supply...of coarse. (ah-hem) Also got him a little John Deere onesie and socks. Because I COULD. {grin}

We arrived at the hospital in about a little over an hour. (I was thankful we weren't driving up or down the entire state, but I would have anyway just the same!) It was pouring down rain and there were reports on the radio for HAIL. It was hard to drive and see, but we were on our way to get our sweet baby, so we drove safely and swiftly. We played praise music the whole, way there. I did a number on our steering wheel.

Meanwhile, this poor boy didn't have a NAME. I remember grabbing the baby name book off the shelf before leaving, tossing it into my bag, knowing we would need it. I gave it to Avonlea as we drove and told her to turn to the boy section. We needed a "C" middle name because all our children have "C" middle names and we needed a good, strong first name. We ran through so many names in the van, meanwhile, Robbie was driving from his work and meeting us at the hospital.

When we finally arrived in the hospital parking lot and met up with Robbie, he mentioned Silas. We had thought of Caleb in the van. A dear friend also suggested Silas, mentioning that it means "asked for". He certainly was that...ASKED FOR. It derives from the Aramaic. Silas was also one who accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey.

Caleb was one of those sent by Moses to scout out the land in the 2nd year after the Exodus. Caleb and Joshua were the only two people over the age of 20 who got to enter the Promised land. It is Hebrew meaning "faithful". God is always faithful to keep His promises when we reveals them to us.

Silas Caleb is was. "Asked for" and "faithful".

For years, I dreamed of what this day would look like. The range of emotions, where he would come from, if we would get to meet the birth mother/father...I could go on.

We raced into the hospital to meet up with our adoption coordinator (who is amazing, I might add!). Went through metal detectors, had bags checked and checked us and the kids in at the front desk.
Then it was off to take a bathroom break because 5 children (and mom) had to go after the car trip.

As we headed up the elevators, I knew I was going to get emotional. So many different emotions I might add. I was full of joy, but at the same time, grieving for this birth mother. It was getting real and I got quiet.
The 5 older kids had to wait patiently in the waiting room as Rob and I went through the glass doors to meet our baby boy. He was so small and precious. The first time I saw him, my eyes locked onto his and I lost it. I was trying to video record our first meeting him, but had to stop. It was emotional. He was getting hungry and needed a bottle. Rob and I both took turns feeding him. Robbie even got a smile.
The paperwork began shortly afterwards (they were wanting to get him discharged from the hospital soon). Lots of signatures and information that I knew I was going to forget because my mind was on cloud 9 at that point. We went back and forth checking on the older kids in the waiting room. They were doing so well and staying quiet.

I was able to bring the kids out from waiting and into the hallway where they could look through the glass and see their new brother. He had already been placed into his car seat and was ready to go.

We finished paperwork, took a few pictures and down the elevator we went. Robbie went to get the van in the parking garage so the rest of us waited with our adoption coordinators in the lobby.
I couldn't wait to get this little man home! We stopped and grabbed some dinner. Avonlea and I ran into Target for some baby formula and an Easter outfit (oh yeah!).

We arrived safely home and each child demanded their time with Silas to hold and love on him. The sleepless nights began.

It has been blissful. If I'm just bein' real, I was wondering how the bonding process was going to go. Would it be different?

Nope. It's not.

If anyone tried to lay a hand on this son of mine, I would drop kick them. Yep. The "Mother hen syndrome" is at its finest and I have to fight my girls so I can hog him all to myself.

Farm chores have taken a back burner and we're just doing the bare minimum, to which the older kids have done a fabulous job! Avonlea is on goat milking duty (we are waiting on one more goat to freshen any day now), the kids feed and water everyone and give the lambs (whom I need to wean...hello) their bottles. The kids have been collecting ducklings as they hatch, placing them into a brooding box.

The only difference with this baby is that I'm not healing from anything. No hormones! Just a lot of paperwork, updating background checks and fingerprint forms, and I'm not nursing. Still praying about a milk donor. The Lord will provide.

There are so many more details that I could add, but won't. Some details on how the Lord spoke to us that evening and the next morning are private and so special. He spoke to us through Scripture and other strong believers. He spoke through His Holy Spirit. We're gonna keep them secret and hidden in just our family.

We want to thank so many of you who have reached out to us through your prayers, your giving of diapers, formula and other baby goodies. Your encouragement has meant the world to us. We can't thank you enough for thinking of us and this sweet baby. We thank you for your prayers for his birth mother to whom we will be sending letters and pictures, sharing the Gospel of Jesus with.

I had to get this story written before I forgot it! Whew!

May the Lord richly bless you all as we enjoy this Passover and Easter season. We will keep you updated on this little fella. You can count on that!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Our Foster Care Story...Part 2

I continued to pray, seek God and kept reading the "Created to Be God's Friend" book.

"Either you turn to Him for counsel and obey what He says, or you make your choice in what seems right to you. The latter can be fatal - and almost was for Abram. It is crucial to note that our best thinking - without God - can be fatal to our families and those dear to us who are walking with us!

I read further...

"Abram's obedience would bring great blessing to others, especially his family; but Abram's disobedience would also bring great harm to others, especially his own family. Faith is based on facts - but facts God has granted. When you do not have facts from God, your next step is one not of faith but of presumption!"

We came to the conclusion that we were not disobeying God by continuing with the adoption, but we would be disobeying if we adopted and didn't pursue the foster care. We have a healthy fear of the Lord. You never want to disobey!

Proverbs 9:10 says...

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."

We know also that if God did not want this adoption to take place, He would close the door. Instead, He opened it back up!

It was a blessing in direct accordance with our obedience.

God is so amazing isn't He?!

Our agency said to get ready and that's what we are doing. Our foster care workshops start shortly also. Paperwork is done and being submitted. We are collecting car seats, bottles, diapers, clothing, etc. The to-do list seems a mile long and we hope to get a few last projects out of the way so that we can concentrate on these precious little ones as God gives them to us. Back to sleepless nights, endless feedings and diaper changes. Back to baby wearing and snuggling in the early-morning hours. Back to needing a diaper bag and stroller in the van.

But, we savor the sweet moments of praying over these wee ones. Praying off the spiritual warfare that each one will bring. Praying off the sinful ways that the Enemy has come in to destroy these families. It is our job to fight it and fight it we shall! For Jesus!

I would ask this. We need others to join up with our family in support. There are so many ways you can do this! You can join up with us through:

1. PRAYER! This is not to be taken lightly. All of the families that have ministered to us as we have sought out the Lord's faith to us in fostering children have said to "get ready for warfare!". We have heard story after story of the real-life warfare happening in these homes. We need the blood of Jesus covering our home, our farm, our hearts, physical bodies and minds. Pray that we would know HOW to pray for these children coming in and out. Pray for the social workers and licensing dept. that we will be working with. Pray that we are patient. Pray that we have peace. Pray for the PARENTS of these children that they may accept Jesus and turn to Him! Pray that on the bad days, we look to the promises and revelations of JESUS and not our feelings or emotions. Pray that we do not grow weary obeying James 1:27...

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

If you don't have a prayer sheet that you use daily, there are many HERE.

I can't tell you what a BLESSING it has been in my own prayer life and walk with God to JOURNAL the prayer requests that have been answered and the story behind HOW it was answered. So many of you are on my prayer list and are prayed for daily. (If you have a prayer request of your own that you need prayer for, you can comment and put "private prayer request" so that I know not to post your comment. I would love to pray for YOU!)

2. SUPPLIES: We are currently in need of a second crib, diapers and baby girl clothing sizes infant to 3T, toddler shoes (either gender), a gently-used pack-n-play and toddler bed. We will need Bibles to administer to the parents. We are currently looking for thin, short devotional books to also distribute to parents, but we have not decided on one, specific book that would be a best overall fit yet. If you have any suggestions, we are open!

3. SUPPORT: Whether it's a meal or just a quick note in the mail to encourage. A blog comment or phone call/text is always appreciated and a huge booster for us. I am a "Words of Affirmation" girl and Rob is "Service". Aren't love languages cool? Ever since reading that book, it has been neat to find out others' love languages and fill their love tanks as well. Knowing that we have brothers and sisters behind us can make a huge difference in this ministry!

This story is only one that God could write! When the Lord calls, He equips! He has shown this to us over and over again in our walk with Him.

"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples." (John 15:7-8)

(Above is our birth mother bag in which we put some "goodies" for. I'll do another post on this later, in greater detail.)

Here is a fun video by our new friends, the Carroll family!
"What to Expect as a Foster/Adoptive Parent". Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Our Foster Care Story...Part 1

(Our foster care/adoption nursery is just about ready!)

Sometimes life dishes you a "plan". Something you know God revealed to you to do. You feel secure in that plan, but then it changes. We felt safe in this call. This plan to adopt a child, however God changed up that plan and called us to do something (if I'm being completely raw and honest) that we did NOT care to do.

Foster care.

That type of amazing "kingdom work" was for those really strong Christians. The ones that can handle (it seems like) everything. They have the strength to take in a child who has been abused, neglected, who has been exposed to things a young child should not be exposed to. They minister to them and then give them back to their families. Somehow, those strong families hold it all together, emotions and all.

 "I am not one of those people, Lord. Don't call me to do that. Please."

The more I researched and the more God was brining amazing foster care parents into our lives, the more I realized that they were just ordinary families like us who didn't have superhero strength. They were just obeying a call from God.

This is the beginning our story...

A little over two years ago, we began a journey to adopt a child. You can read about our adoption story by clicking on the side bar link "adoption" There are two parts. We knew the Lord laid it on our hearts to adopt. That's how God can start a revelation, by laying something heavy on one's heart.  After various revelations, He put everything together. We completed paperwork and home studies. We created a nursery (we felt called to do an infant, domestic adoption this time for a hand full of reasons), bought a few, various items and learned as much about adoption as we could.

After two years of waiting, we got an out-of-the-blue phone call one morning from our agency (I was thinking it was a call for a match...sigh). They said that they had so many waiting families (over 100) that they were no longer taking applications and they were informing their families that they were offering REFUNDS to their waiting families if they wanted to go ahead with another agency, withdrawing from theirs. It would be YEARS before anything went through.

I was heart broken. I cried on the back steps. You never truly understand the emotions that you are about to go through on a journey such as this. I asked God why He allowed this to happen. He called us to adopt, but yet He was closing this door somehow.

As I got up from the steps, I felt confused, but I know that we do not serve a God of confusion.

Something was up.

A good friend told me to take time to grieve that loss. I did for a few days. Then, I got out all our adoption paperwork from various agencies and went "back to the drawing board". Maybe the Lord wanted us using a different agency. I wasn't sure, but after being on the phone most of the afternoon with other agencies asking for price breakdowns of their ridiculous adoption costs, I was done.

Yep. Done.

Just picture me in a closet (because all 5 kids were awake!), banging my head against the closet door with phone in hand letting the very last agency I was to talk to that day "have it". I told her she was running a business and I hung up. Why other agencies are double and triple the cost of what our agency was asking, I don't know. What I did learn is that if an adoption agency doesn't give you a price breakdown, hang up!

"Lord, this can't be right. This can't be what you want for us. What is your will?"

I threw all the adoption paperwork in the trashcan and just continued to pray the rest of the day. I sat in the nursery, wondering why God would reveal something so specific and then take it away.

A friend at church started talking about foster care.

Foster care.

The kind of kingdom work for the strong families. Those mamas are AH-MA-ZING, but that's not me. I could never handle caring for and loving a child for weeks, months or years and then handing the child back to their parents, sometimes in situations where you know they shouldn't have been handed back. It's a sin battle. It's spiritual warfare! Some of these parents are able to overcome the battle to get their children back and some, unfortunately, are not.

I knew that as much as I didn't want to walk the path of foster care, that that was what God wanted us to do. We started getting revelations physically and they were happening one after the other, fast.

We had friends call us (who we haven't talked to in a long time) who foster children, stating that "You guys should foster. You've got that farm. What a great place for children who need to be nurtured and loved to grow up."  (She had no idea we were praying about fostering.)

We got a huge revelation from an amazing family who have walked these lines for years and had some great wisdom to share. They called us one Sunday morning and asked if we wanted company later that day and if they could park their camper on our property for the night so we could talk foster care. We have so much in common with this family, I was floored. We said yes (of coarse) and stayed up til 11:00 p.m. asking questions and getting more and more affirmation about foster care. We made some new friends and for that, we were thankful!

I was spending some deep time in prayer, begging God for answers. I opened up to Psalm 128. {Sigh}

Went to the thrift store and a book seemed to call out to me. "Created to Be God's Friend" by Henry Blackaby. It's the story of Abraham and his obedience. {gulp}  Same author as "Experiencing God, Knowing and Doing the Will of God".

I had a friend who disagrees with foster care and adoption, wanting families to be together all the time and threatened that if we went into foster care, we could no longer be friends. While my heart ached to lose that friend, the Lord reminded me that sometimes He takes people out of our lives for a reason because He is trying to accomplish something in our lives. His will must go forth.

I read in "Created to Be God's Friend" that very week "Sometimes God has to 'remove' others from our lives, so He can continue His purposes for our lives." Before John the Baptist was beheaded, he said, "He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30) "Will God have to remove someone from your life to have total access to you?" - Blackaby.

Since the Lord began revealing that week, a friend from the city invited me to her house to meet yet another foster mama, have dinner together and have a time of anointing and prayer. We prayed so long and hard that night. I was able to get more questions answered and left more confident than ever. God was working! We had talked about "testing the spirits" that night and in my hour and a half drive home, that's what the sermon was about.

Psalm 23 has been ABUNDANT lately. Everywhere I go! Sermon at church. Sermon on the radio. In books. In sewing patterns even! (We are getting sheep in a few weeks so this girl is excited to get a hands-on feel for shepherding.)

A rekindled relationship with a family member is mending and come to find out, this individual has been praying for a year that we be open to foster care.

On the phone with a good friend in this same week, come to find out that they have decided to foster children. Our kids are close and so this gives them the ability to talk about their feelings together through this whole process.

I love how God blesses in the little things. He is such a personal God!

I had taken my sister to a doctor appointment also that week (mom was great to keep the kids) and after a fun lunch together, we hit a thrift store. I hesitated to walk into the baby section, but went ahead anyway. I looked down at one point and saw some baby bedding. (The one thing we were lacking in the nursery.)

It was Beatrix Potter!

Exactly what we had decorated the nursery with. Of coarse. The funny part was that everything was in TWO'S. Two baby quilts, two window valances, two crib bumpers, etc. Either, we're getting twins or the Lord is supplying one for adoption and one for foster care.

We never 100% understood why the Lord brought the homeless family to us (who was living out of our camper over a year ago), but now we can see that God was giving us a glimpse into some of the future families we may be working with, setting goals with, praying with and ministering to.  I am thankful for that glimpse.

After all of the revelations to foster, Robbie and I decided that we would take our name out of the adoption agency and complete the foster care paperwork and workshops, in obedience to God. Our hearts were being so torn to minister to these families and we pulled our name out of adoption with willing hearts, on a new mission.

I had it in my mental to-do list to call our agency the following morning and cancel, when right after breakfast, my phone rang. It was our agency. They were calling to say that we were next on the list! My jaw dropped and I was speechless. Either God was testing us, like dangling a carrot in front of a rabbit's nose, or He was blessing us for our obedience. How were we to know what to do?!!

I prayed. Although I appreciated the encouragement of others, I had to have some solitary time with God and talk this over with my husband. We talked. A lot. The pressure of having to raise enough funds for this adoption was now back. We went with the least expensive agency in Florida and an agency that has an orphanage on site with some really amazing people behind it!

So, with this new information, how were we to know what to do? God was calling us to foster and now this!

{Part 2 to follow...stay tuned!}

Sunday, February 5, 2017

How God Uses Silence
(His Message In the Stillness)
Oh, the stillness of God. Something every Christian who walks closely with Jesus despises. When our God is silent, we can question. "Lord, is there something I did?" "Where ARE you?" The questions can go on and on. We doubt. We blame. We can get confused, and then. Then He speaks and He speaks so often with so much revelation that your head spins and everything comes together just as He planned it.


That's been me lately. Months of silence.

If you follow our family, you know we have been on this amazing journey of adoption (and now foster care). While I will be sharing that on the next post, I wanted to share the toughest part of this journey for us while it is still fresh in my mind. I wanted to share about the SILENCE.

I have been reading a book by Charles Stanley called The Ultimate Conversation, Talking with God Through Prayer. There is a chapter on How God Uses Silence and while I know that God uses many different ways to get His message across to us, sometimes He is silent.

Here are some things I have learned about God's silence to us:

1. Our ears must be trained to hear His call. Discern the spirits! Ask yourself if this is something from the Lord or not. This can take a long time to master as the Enemy is beautiful, tempting, etc. There have been times in my own life where I thought something was of the Lord, but took time out to pray and discern, come to find out it wasn't.

2. God grew quiet for 400 years towards Israel (Malachi to Matthew). No prophet, priest, judge or king made sure they were on track. The Lord was preparing Israel, His chosen people, for the coming Messiah. During this silence, common language developed, nations united, spreading Greek culture and language, roads were built so that Matthew 28:19 could take place, making disciples out of all nations.

3. God was working to help Israel with its sin problem.

There are six ways God can use silence in our own lives:

Note: Know this, that He is not angry with you, but continues to work on your behalf. If God is quiet, most likely, there is something significant He desires to teach you and He wants you to listen.

1. Getting Our Attention - When our souls become starved for His presence, we must retrace our steps to see where we've walked away from Him.

I Kings 19:9 - "What are you doing here Elijah?" God uses wind, earthquake and fire to get his attention.

2. Preparing Us to OBEY Him - He knows distance causes us to seek Him more passionately. Are we ready and eager to obey Him?

3. Revealing Our Sin - Is there something bothering you that you can't identify? Are you bearing some heaviness in your spirit that is depleting al your energy? Does it seem like your relationships/plans are going awry? Ask God to identify your iniquity and set you free (Psalm 32:1).

4. Growing Our Trust In Him - He sometimes tests how deeply we believe in Him and how we cling to His promises. he reveals areas where we need to grow. If He's called you to do something specific, He will give you everything you require. The principles God teaches us through His silence are powerful. He acts on behalf of those who wait for Him and He takes full responsibility for our needs when we obey.

5. Training Us To Hear His Voice Above All Others - Although the Holy Spirit can speak through other believers (when I say believers, I am talking about STRONG believers who walk daily with Jesus, not just those who wear the name "Christian" on their sleeve due to cultural or social acceptance), always be ONE with the Lord and go to Him FIRST so that He can reveal in the quiet and stillness. Others can sway our thoughts and opinions on decisions. Be careful on this one.

6. Teaching Us To Persevere In the Ultimate Conversation - He is teaching us to endure in our relationship with Him.

Jesus taught the parable of the widow for this purpose (Luke 18:1-8). His timing is not like ours, nor are His ways comparable to our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). Sometimes, He desires for us to wait because He is arranging our circumstances, or protecting us from danger. He may be purifying our motives, teaching us to rely on Him or preparing us to influence others.

Here are some things we can do to apply these concepts to our lives:

1. Ask God why He is so quiet. Is there a sin I must confess? A step of obedience I must take? God's silence doesn't mean He's inactive. Recall all the ways He has been faithful to you. Be honest. Express your heart to Him. Commit to being quiet before the Lord everyday.

2. Be confident He is calling you to a new level of intimacy. Don't be discouraged or afraid. We do not serve a God of fear! Get on your KNEES and praise Him! Wait quietly before Him. Thank Him and anticipate His answer. When you actively listen for His voice, the Lord is certain to respond.

God is so faithful in these concepts. He LOVES us and is pruning us into magnificent vines to bear much fruit for His kingdom.

That's what my next post will be about...Kingdom work! Our story of How God lead us to pursue foster care. Never say "never" to the Lord! (LOL) One lesson we have learned the hard way. That is usually JUST what He will call you to do! {grin}

Blessings brothers and sisters-in-Christ Jesus! The harvest is ready, but the workers are few. Let's get to work. Kingdom work! {wink}

Friday, January 20, 2017

Homestead Chicken Butcher
The air was cool outside, the fire was stoked (Lincoln kept our firewood going for us) and some chickens were about ready to meet their doom. I don't mean that in a harsh, cruel way. I love my chickens. Dearly. BUT, everything has to pull its weight on this here farm and that includes chickens. When their egg layin' is done, it's off to the freezer and on this particular day, we butchered 5 chickens and 1 turkey. This day we did Cornish X's, Freedom Rangers and a Red Bourbon turkey.

Off to the chopping block they go. Rob holds them upside down to let the blood rush to the head and they calm down and get sleepy. This is the method for the chopping block when we just use an ax which is our preferred method.

With one swoop of the ax, it's done. They do flap around a bit, but that's just the nerves. The chicken feels nothing.

The very first method we ever tried was the kill cone method and Rob doesn't like to use this method for the sheer fact that one will feel the chicken's actual neck as you take the life. Don't get me wrong, we've had days where we've done 50 chickens in a row before using this method, but we don't prefer it. Just a personal preference, really.

I love editing these pictures mostly because of the FACIAL EXPRESSIONS we have on our faces.

A dunk in the pot to help loosen feathers.

Feathers, ready to be plucked.

Pluckin' away. (Our oldest daughter was our camera person for the day.)

Feathers and "guts" are slipped into the trash bag. Some people like to throw these into compost heaps, but we didn't do that this particular day.

Dressing him out.

Isaac wanted in on the action.

Love that our kiddos are learning these great skills.

Two herbs that I love using when cooking a chicken roast...rosemary and


Into the ice-chilled cooler. These birds sat in the cooler til we were done processing. Then they got placed into large Ziplock bags and into the fridge for a few days to let the meat rest. Then into the freezer.

OR, into a roast pan for dinner.

Chicken processing was something that we struggled with on our first "go" at processing. Not that it gets any easier taking a life. It doesn't. But if we are going to continue eating this kind of protein on our farm, we need to make sure our skills in swiftly taking a life and being responsible with the packaging and cooking of it is at our ultimate best.

Here's to chicken!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Farm Tour...Parts 1 and 2

These videos were a long time comin', I know.

It's been 2 and 1/2 years since pulling onto this property. Keep in mind, we bought a forest so everything you see in these videos has been cleared by yours truly and hubby. We did things the old fashioned way using just a chainsaw, $100 lawn mower and wagon at first.

Then, after watching Alaska, The Last Frontier, we decided to replicate their "Go Devil" for hauling logs. Then, we were able to finally purchase a John Deere riding mower with a hauling bed in the back. This past spring, we paid a friend who runs a small clearing business to help us clear out our cow pasture. He was a blessing, but we quickly started realizing how if we wanted to finish that pasture and complete another pasture on the other 3 acres, it would be cheaper to just get our own tractor. And that we did!

"Big Blue" (as we like to call her) has been a huge blessing and from Lincoln on up in this family, we all drive it and use it for various jobs around the farm. To say it rocks is an understatement!

I didn't intend for these videos to get SO LONG, but a girl's gotta share what she's been doing these past few years with such amazing, supportive readers, right?  Stay tuned til the end of the second video and you can watch me get bucked by our goat! Boy needs to learn some MANNERS.

I hope you enjoyed watching! Things are always changing around here, but now that we're feeling more "settled", we'll keep the videos a-comin'. {wink}

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Good Morning and Happy New Year From Vine Living!

Yes, I know. I know. It's been over a year. Eek.

One of my New Year's resolutions I want to work on is uploading this blog more often. The past 2 and 1/2 years has been loaded with back-breaking labor, but it just wouldn't be right to permanently stop the blog, right? So many of our "necessity-type projects" have been completed, freeing up more time and allowing us to feel more settled. It's taken over 2 years, but we're finally feeling officially settled. It's a good feeling!

2016 was full of some hardships, but blessing as well. We lost our Molly-Moo cow to bloat from our new pasture. (I think I cried for a few days after burying her.)

All of our main structures and fencing are completed, so after we got our second garden built and up and running this summer, we started land clearing for Rob's large barn that he wants to get up and finished by the end of the year. All the wood will be milled and taken from trees here on our property. The mill will hopefully be here by February. (More details on that later.)

We got a hand-crank well pump installed, but after giving the internal, rubber parts some time to swell, our well is too deep for the kind of pump we got installed. We are currently looking to install either a Life Straw, Simple Pump or Water Boy to "tweak" our hand pump. Losing electricity here on the farm has given us a few scares, but this year, WATER is high on the list to continue to store and have multiple sources, just in case. We currently have some IBC tanks in place with gutters attached, but are looking to put in a rain barrel system as well. (Water has to be our #1 priority and I do intend to do some videos on that as well.)

As a mother, I have struggled finding a balance of homeschooling that works for us here. We've been blessed to find Accelerated Christian Education (A.C.E.), which has helped us tremendously as far as getting the kids less "needy" of me and their lessons, gaining independence on setting their own learning goals. It's been wonderful and quite frankly, an answer to prayer!

We added goats to the homestead this year. We have learned how to properly pressure can and have been putting up lots of canned goodies the past 6 months. We butchered our first 2 pigs, delivered our sow's first litter of piglets, butchered some turkeys and chickens. We got in our second garden, which has been producing lots of good produce this year (lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, Seminole pumpkins and more).

We have been so blessed to get to know our sweet neighbors on an even deeper level this year, learning that so many of them are like-minded about this lifestyle just like we are. To say they have been a blessing is an understatement.

This year, we were also able to take some time to actually decorate our home (which has been really fun for me!). We painted the entire interior, put up new drapes and Pinterest has been a great source as well. I just couldn't justify taking the time, effort or money to decorate without the outside animals and garden being taken care of first.

I've been taking lots of videos here on the farm, hoping to share with you all our days here and the things we have learned. A homesteader's best friend is You Tube, right? {grin}

Blessings friends and happy new year!