Monday, May 22, 2017

Motherhood Can Sometimes Feel Like This Scene


Sometimes I've felt like enacting this scene.
"Help me help you!"

Friday, May 19, 2017

Mindlessly Mothering

 photo IMG_6321_zpsfm48xdsd.jpg

Hannah and Emily came running in the house and breathlessly announced that Hannah had seen a "baby snake" at their bike ramp.

"How long was it?"

She spreads her fingers about 4 inches. Kind of small for a snake, but children aren't always the best judge of measurements. 

"What color was it?"

"Brown with black markings" was her reply.

In my state, that could possibly mean a copperhead or water moccasin, but I've never seen one at our place. These are not reptiles I want near where my children play. However, I've learned to be patient and gather as many facts as I can before responding in my decades of parenting.

"Will you please draw me a picture?"

Hannah drew the picture above, and I knew right away it was a Little Brown Skink which is a harmless creature. They can move so quickly; you can miss seeing their tiny legs and mistake them for a baby snake. 

Skinks are very beneficial to humans. They eat the bugs that destroy our crops and pests that invade our homes. I used this opportunity to teach my youngest two about the role of the skink and the God given responsibility of having dominion and stewardship over the earth. 

Now, I am not fond of slithery things, and I certainly do not not want them touching me. If they surprise me, I'll scream so loud you will hear it from where you sit. I'd be quite happy if I never came across another slithery thing. However, I was not given this job as a mother to teach my children about my preferences or aversions. I am to teach them God's unadulterated truth. So, I can't mindlessly mother. Mothering requires thoughtfulness and careful consideration of what God's Word says.

The truth is that we have been given dominion and stewardship over the earth and the creatures on it. We need to take the job as seriously as we do the other jobs He has given us like parenting, ministry, marriage, career, etc. 

If we react with fear or revulsion to every little creature we see, it can lead us to foolishly destroying the gifts God has given us in creation. Then, we lose the benefits God has in place. 

God says His thoughts and ways are much higher than mine, so I believe the benefits of letting creatures, like the Little Brown Skink, alone extend much further than I can imagine. 

I also believe God will bless us for slowing down in the course of our day to consider Him as we go along and also for choosing kindness over cruelty. 

Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”




Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Jungle in the Explorer

 photo mothersday_zps4bt830n1.jpg 

This is how you ride when you stuff two large peach trees in a Ford Explorer that already has a large tool box in the back. Amanda took me shopping and bought me the trees for Mother's Day. Brandon bought me two large apple trees and a peach tree. I ask for fruit trees for my Mother's Day every year with the hope the trees will produce fruit that will bless my children's future families. 

My grandmother grew a large garden and always sent home food, a hug, and a request to visit again with anyone who visited. I look back and see how she had a wonderful, practical ministry to others right in her own home. She started with her own family and worked her way to be a blessing to both friends and strangers. This is what I hope to do from the little spot of earth God has bestowed to us.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to everyone with a loving mother's heart no matter if you have many children or none. This includes those who conceived and lost, those whose child grew and left for Heaven, teachers and social workers who see the hurting child and respond, and fathers who step up to fill both roles. I hope you know your love and concern matters in a child's life, and you are worth your weight in gold!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Opportunistic

 photo cardinalinquailpen_zps3li0yhde.jpg

This opportunistic female cardinal got into Caleb's quail pen which is a large, walk in hoop house covered in one inch chicken wire. She couldn't remember how to get back out. She was eating the quail food when he saw her! Caleb, who also takes advantage of opportunities, brought her inside for a quick minute so everyone could enjoy the chance to see our state bird up close. Because being afraid isn't fun and our rule is that if we aren't all having fun, it isn't fun, we let her go quickly.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Our Other Nine

 photo rememberingninebabies_zpsmxzny1vy.jpg

Per our tradition, we gathered as a family on May 7th and remembered our other nine family members. We are thankful the Lord made them known to us even for a short time. We wait patiently with joyful anticipation of the day we will be together.

Texts from our neighbors telling us how much they enjoyed seeing the sky lanterns was a welcomed extra blessing.

I was asked if I was concerned about them being a fire hazard. Here's my reply:

"No. We researched them and chose these for that reason. The ones we buy cost more than others, but they are worth it. These are made in such a way to not start fires. They rise rapidly, go very high up into the sky, have a very limited burn time, and burn completely out while in the air before the biodegradable parts fall harmlessly back to earth. We've been using them for years with no issues. We watch every one until it is finished. They go completely out while they are still very high in the air every single time." 

We also live near a river and the wind takes them to open water. If you are still concerned about fires, you can use them after a rain. 

The ones we purchase are completely biodegradable. 

There were manufacturers using wire for the frames which fell into fields causing concerns for cattle farmers. If those are still being made, I'd avoid them.


Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Congratulations, Amanda!

 photo 1_zpsvkbspqgg.jpg

Amanda worked very hard in the job she found about six months ago. She impressed her bosses and earned herself a new position with better pay and benefits! She did this while taking college classes and maintaining an A average, working 12 hour long night shifts, and working overtime when she could pick it up. She is saving for a house which she hopes she can buy within the next year or two. Way to go, Amanda!!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Take It Slow

Clint helped a young man, Alex, whose car broke down in our driveway after he drove through water. Alex told Clint he thought the best way to get through water was to drive as fast as he could. Clint was patient and gentle as he encouraged him to go slow through water that can't be avoided to lessen the risk of damage. It was apparent as they diagnosed the problem that the young man didn't have a good working knowledge of his automobile, but he really listened and asked questions when Clint explained things to him.

After Clint talked with him for a while, he learned this young man did not have a father or a mother growing up. Alex aged out of the foster care system. His uncle works him as a waterman for $40 cash a day a few days a week. A day starts very early and can go 8-12 hours. That is very low pay for a very hard and often dangerous job.

Alex bought his car for $200 and has put $300 in it. We could tell he was worried about what it would cost to fix his car. Unlike most young adults, he has no cell phone. He sleeps at his uncle's house so he can get up early and work, but he lives with his aunt.

He was driving alone on a learner's permit because he had no family who was willing to ride with him. He had already been pulled once, but the officer was understanding to the situation and let him go with a warning. Clint drove him to his aunt's so he could go get his driver's license on his day off. He came back later and fixed his car.

The young man was hesitant and seemed to have a confidence problem, but he was polite and has a desire to learn. When Clint let him know his driving method was erroneous, he didn't let his pride get in the way of taking in new information. He clearly isn't afraid of hard work. Instead of making excuses or waiting on a hand out, he is trying to get himself started in life despite the many obstacles in his path. That's a lot of good character qualities that emerged in a few minutes of talking. I am glad we had the opportunity to meet him and hope we see him again.

People who do things that seem foolish might not have had the same opportunity to learn as you did. Slow down and look for the good in people. Try to be patient and gentle with everyone you meet to avoid causing more damage (hurt) in their lives. Some roads in life are harder than others.

If you will please pray for Alex.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I won't let it erase the good memories...

For the first time ever, I am thankful my paternal grandparents are with the Lord so they were spared the pain.
I'm still trying to wrap my mind around it. The quiet time away helped settle my heart a bit.
I lost my cousin Jerry to suicide eight days ago. He was the oldest of the local cousins. When we were children, I thought he could do anything and everything.
When he got his driver's license, he took me and another cousin out driving. I thought he was so cool! I remember him patiently teaching me to throw a crab line at my grandparent's pier. He took me to a little spot he knew would fill his trap with minnows he could use to catch bigger fish. He showed me how to find the path through my grandfather's thick bamboo patch to the well house. To younger me, it was as exciting as going through the wardrobe into Narnia! He and I played horseshoes together at my grandparents. I'm pretty sure he let me win. After Clint and I were married, we spent some time with Jerry in a lake cabin he was renting at the time and created many fun memories. I still use a recipe he gave me and will make sure that I tell my children today who it came from.
Like most of the men in my paternal family, Jerry could do anything with wood from building houses to making furniture. He could fish, hunt, and trap with the best of them and then shared whatever he had. I can't remember him and I ever having a harsh word between us. He was so much fun to be around! I can still see him smiling, cutting up, and laughing. He was a compassionate, gentle, down to earth, give you the shirt off his back country boy.
I've lost so many friends and family to suicide. I can remember crying my heart out for days the first time it happened when I was a teenager. I burst into tears 20 years later when visiting his grave. The sharpness of it so many years later took me by surprise. I still miss him! The pain suicide leaves just sticks around. It's not how we should leave one another. I use to get angry about it, but I soon learned to look past the act to see their pain and forgive them.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to someone, and if they aren't helpful, reach out again to someone else. Keep moving until you get the help you need. The first few people you reach out to might be in the midst of something of their own and not see your need because their own pain. Help IS out there! I have friends who have been there and found their way through with various treatments. I am proud of them!
To my family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances: If you ever need a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, a hug, a swift kick in the pants, a friend, a sister, an aunt, a mama...I am here. Don't make a permanent choice that will end forever the chance of your circumstances changing. You could be missing out on something better that was out of your sight only because it was right around the next corner. Let the pages of your life keep turning, and see where you end up. My heart is very burdened for my aunt, uncle, an cousins. Please pray for them.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Prayer Request

My cousin, Jerry, took his own life. I am heartbroken. Please be in prayer for his parents, siblings, and niece and nephew. I love them all very much and can not imagine the pain they are going through. 

Jerry L. Bailey

Western Tidewater - Jerry Lee Bailey, 52, passed away unexpectedly Tuesday, April 18, 2017. He was a native and lifelong resident of Isle of Wight, a beloved son of D. Marie Talton and Rollis I. Bailey, Jr. He is also survived by a sister, Susan Sauder, and fiancé, Will Greer; a brother, Ronnie Bailey; niece, Bridgette and nephew, Bailey.

Jerry was a passionate carpenter and woodworker and was able to help and care for others with his crafts and hands. He was a caregiver, great cook, gardener, and avid hunter and fisherman.

In addition to his immediate family, Jerry was blessed and was a blessing to O.A and Hazel Spady, Jimmy Turner, Jim and Elizabeth Turner, Shirley Hooker, Bruce Wayne Spady, Jimmy Holland, Steven and Rhonda Culpepper, and two canine pals, Jackson and Buttons.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Bee Progress First Week

 photo beeprogress1_zpsgfufsknd.jpg

When Brandon got his bees, he did not have a rubber band large enough to attach the queen's box to the frame. So, he removed a frame and sat her box in the hive. He was told by his local bee mentor not to open the roof for a week while the bees set up their home. Since he never put the frame back, he has comb growing between the frames and attached to the roof. This is not a big deal.

 photo beeprogress3_zpseqxwitho.jpg

New to beekeeping, we were impressed with their progress in just 6 days.
Brandon has Italian bees supplied by the local bee group. They are known for being very docile.

 photo beeprogress5_zps6wvy036c.jpg

Brandon didn't take any chances. I watched their behavior as I walked to the hive, and they remained calm, so I was able to get a really good look.

 photo beeprogress6_zpsvkd5xgu3.jpg

The drops are sugar water Brandon sprayed on them. 
It keeps them busy while he works and gives them a boost of energy.

Psalm 16:24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Brandon's Bees

Clicking the pictures will make them larger for easier reading.

 photo bees1_zpsrofcelmf.jpg

This is about 5 pounds of honey bees.

 photo bees2_zps49niqu6g.jpg

There was a board stapled on top of this for shipping.

 photo bees2a_zpspvry7pzi.jpg

 photo bees3_zpscnmt1mj5.jpg

I always thought the queen traveled alone, but she is accompanied in her little box by a few others.

 photo bees4_zpsrlgxii4h.jpg 
Everything is pretty easy going unless you mush a bee. 
If a bee is harmed, it releases pheromones that tell the others to attack and sting. Brandon was careful, and we had no issues. The bees were very calm and several landed on us peacefully to rest. If we didn't want them on us, we gently brushed them off. Most of us liked having them on us. The entire installation was a very pleasant experience!

 photo bees5_zps5ly4gsjb.jpg

The buzzing noise they make is very soothing.
The queen is in the box at the bottom of the picture above.

 photo bees7_zpscgmaiarw.jpg

The queen is in the box which is covered in bees as they work to get her out. These are at Brandon's house, but we hope to add hives to our farm next year.

Psalm 119:103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Friday, April 07, 2017

Little Nest

 photo 1_zpslozgpnw6.jpg 

 I found this tiny nest on the ground under one of our pine trees.
It is made from hog hair, horse hair, grasses, and a few strands of woven plastic feed bags. The penny is for size comparison.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Where Food Comes From

Recently, I was buying ever-bearing strawberries from a department store. Green berries of all sizes were hanging off the plants. The cashier asked me what they were. I was surprised by the question. She was so delighted by those little green berries! She had never seen strawberries growing before! I was reminded how many people have never had the opportunity to see where their food originates. Her genuine enthusiasm made me smile.This isn't stupidity as some people like to call it. It's a lack of knowledge due to lack of opportunity. I am very thankful for my rural upbringing and all of the simple things I often take for granted. 

Don't be puffed up by your knowledge. Understand we have not all had the same opportunities in life. Be thankful for your experiences, and continue learning! 

Monday, April 03, 2017

How We Use Our Brush for Natural Fencing

 photo naturalfence_zpsemtnlduv.jpg 
natural fence to keep animals in

 photo moreforboundary2_zpskqohgxal.jpg
more for the pile

A lot of livestock owners use a double fencing system for their animals, but it is cost prohibitive for small family farms. We have been piling our brush right along our property line for years. This creates a dense natural barrier that serves to keep our livestock from leaving our place. 

We have added to it, in a manner where it is not visible from either side, the old rolled wire fencing and other materials we have that can be re-purposed with the same goal in mind. I really like this because the old fencing we paid for is an investment that is still working for us along our brush pile fenced perimeter. That investment is still being returned to us many times over.

When our livestock has escaped, this has worked very well to keep them out of the farmer's field which is directly behind us. So far, we have never had a hog, goat, horse, etc go through or over it. What happens most of the time is the animal follows the path which leads them to the house where we usually see through a window that someone is out.

It's not completely around our property, but we are continually adding to it as we go.

This is our way of using what is naturally around and on hand to accomplish the same goal of a double fence system. This was a better choice for us than burning it off or carting it to the landfill. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Front Yard Visitors

 photo visitors_zpsrhrprjl3.jpg

This pair of Canada geese came to visit in our front yard for a few hours. They made themselves at home and did not seem bothered at all by our presence. Our geese never came to the front yard, so I do not know how they would have reacted to the uninvited guests. Our visitors came very close to where we were sitting and stayed for a few hours. Bethany took these pictures after I went back inside to get some work done.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Cutting Up on Bikes

 photo brothers_zpsswpg7dmt.jpg

Knowing the girls would laugh, Brandon took Hannah's Hello Kitty bike. Then, Caleb took Emily's. Em yelled while laughing, "Hey, you can't ride that. Mom, look at them!" To Hannah she said, "Ugh, we have brothers!" It's good fun as long as everyone is enjoying it..and we all were!


Monday, March 27, 2017

She got it out!

 photo undertruck_zpshhtbxh6n.jpg

 photo likeherdaddy_zpsossbmhyf.jpg


 photo teachingtool1_zpsxfcyeikk.jpg
homemade learning tool

 photo teachingtool2_zpsd9qnre33.jpg

 photo amandahappy_zpslcfhqyfy.jpg
Time to pull the engine out! 
After working that morning, Dad was on hand to help guide the engine out.

 photo engineout_zpseoirw4dr.jpg
She's so happy it's out!

I've noticed it's the people doing nothing constructive that are usually the ones criticizing the people who are movers and shakers. Yes, Amanda has had some criticism. She was told by a young man that she should be learning to "knit and stuff" in her time off. She told him she knows how to crochet and sew, but those things will not get her the car she wanted at a bargain price. Amanda laughed at him because he spends his free time playing video games and can't do simple things on his own car.

There is nothing in God's Word that says a woman can not learn skills. Just because something isn't stereotypical in our culture does not mean it is immoral. This skill will benefit her and her family for the rest of her life. She is adding to what she already knows. She has already fixed vehicles for others and did not charge them for her time. She will be able to minister to more people because of her current project. 

It is honorable, pure, and admirable that she wanted something, set a goal for it, and is working very hard to obtain it for herself rather than sitting around waiting for someone else to provide it or for it to magically fall out of the sky. She is not neglecting anyone or anything by doing this. She is being industrious while the guy at work is wasting his time on something that will never tangibly benefit his life. 

Proverbs 12:24 The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor






Sunday, March 26, 2017

Civilization Today

Civilization today reminds me of an ape with a blowtorch playing in a room full of dynamite. It looks like the monkeys are about to operate the zoo, and the inmates are taking over the asylum. --Vance Havner

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Amanda's Attitude of Learning

 photo 1_zpstaqrr4ys.jpg

 photo 3_zpshjgfeven.jpg 

  Amanda set her eyes on a goal, and she's working to get there. That engine will be pulled out later today. She's come a long way from cosmetology school! "If I fail, I'll still learn, and what I learn will be worth more than my small cash investment. If I succeed, I'll have a great car for very little cash and some hard work. Either way, I am going to learn things I can use the rest of my life, so no matter what happens I can't lose."

Joshua, Caleb, and Bethany are taking turns working with her so they can learn too.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Father, Return Elizabeth Thomas to Her Family

 photo 17458172_776245895861743_453619196319523093_n_zpsxcp7f5lt.jpg

While they were last seen in TN and thought to be in Alabama, a family member (Danielle Thomas) told me yesterday (3/23/2017) that keeping an eye out and looking in the woods of other places, including my state of Virginia, is worth doing.

"the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says efforts to locate them remain unsuccessful as they could be anywhere." source

"She told my younger sister that if she wasn't home by 6:00 to call the police. Call for help I think was her exact words," James Thomas said." source

" The suspect is believed to be armed with two handguns and driving the listed vehicle." source

I have a particular interest in wanting to see this 50 year old predator apprehended, and this young woman returned home. Let's share the missing persons information, keep our eyes out, and keep the fervent prayers going.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Here's Why...

Our entire family learned a lot through this experience.

A couple of years ago, Brandon left work early in his casual office clothing and took his car in to a local mechanic to have an estimate on getting the work done for him. The mechanic did not know Brandon already had diagnosed the problem, knew the cost of the part, and had the knowledge and skill to do the work himself. Between college and work, Brandon simply did not have the time to perform the repair, so he was willing to pay to have it done.

The mechanic came back with an entire list of things that were "wrong" including some parts that had been replaced a month earlier. That told Brandon the man had not even looked hard at his car since the new parts were easy to distinguish. Needless to say, the estimate was very high and included a lot of work that did not need to be done.


Brandon came home and relayed the experience. Clint, in his stained work clothes, took the car to the same mechanic shortly after Brandon had. It was the same car, same list of symptoms, same mechanic. This time, there was only one part that needed to be replaced, and the estimate was very reasonable. 

Amanda was outraged at the difference and wondered aloud how much more they would have tried to deceive her because of her gender. 

Now you know the reason behind her motivation to learn how to repair her own cars. So, she is giving up her free time and suffering through bad weather and failures to teach herself the skill of auto repair. "I have to drive a car my whole life. I need to know how to care for it."

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Three of the Sisters

 photo sistersfixingbikeandtruck_zpsgnusopjd.jpg

Em's bike chain kept falling off.
Amanda was tracking down a minor issue with her truck, so Emily and Hannah asked her for help with the chain.

While she is working nights (including overtime) and flying through college courses, Amanda is also teaching herself all she can about how to repair cars. She, and all of our other children, started learning with Clint as a two year old who would crawl under the cars and hold tools for him. As she grew, he taught more and built upon it every year. Through trial and error, Amanda has really expanded upon that knowledge in the last six months. She's worked outside in freezing temperature and very cold rains. She is eager to being her engine work on her next ride this weekend. Clint did not have a father around. Clint taught himself with a book. I was there for most of that learning, and it did not come quick or easy. It did come by determination, much time, and consistent effort.


If you teach yourself skills, you will never regret it. If you don't because you are afraid of failure, you have already failed. If you are too lazy to learn new skills, don't complain about how you can't move forward in life or how much it costs to pay to have something done for you. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

This and That

Amanda bought a fairly nice vehicle for next to nothing. The catch is that it needs timing guards. That means the engine has to be pulled out. Our girl is very mechanically inclined, so we are willing to support her in this. 

Clint and I decided to foot the bill for a gantry since we can use it for other things. To accomplish all of the criteria that had to be met for our needs, we decided to install it ... in the front yard. Neither Clint nor I were happy about that, but it is what it is. I was a bit happier when I realized I can hang a bench swing from it when it is not in use for pulling engines. I'll see if Caleb will build me one like my grandfather's.

We are also tearing out and redoing a bathroom, working on splitting next year's firewood pile, adding fence so our American Guinea Hogs can continue to eat healthy pasture, working on kitchen cabinet repairs, incubating chicks that will grow all spring/summer and go to freezer camp in the early winter, nurturing seedlings that were started indoors, making jigs for woodworking tools, pressure canning over 200 lbs of chicken, hanging solar powered lights (given to me for free) all over the place, etc. It's busy. It's very, very busy, but rather than being scattered here and there, we are busy at home helping each other accomplish goals which serves to bond us closer to one another. 

Emily's and Hannah's curriculum jumped from $299 to $699. Clint and I decided we would avoid the robbery, so I am making my own curriculum for them this year. It is very time consuming, but also rewarding since I can tailor it more towards their interests. 


Clint and I are planning some time away soon. We haven't decided if it's going to be at an ocean front house or a mountain stream side retreat, but it will be welcomed either way.

I was going to write a bit more, but I was just called away. So, I'm off to more mothering and managing our happy home and busy farmette. 




Saturday, March 18, 2017

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Wendy's Tips for Growing Your Own Food to Cut Grocery Costs



A sweet friend asked for tips for beginners who want to grow a garden to cut grocery costs. Here is what I shared with her.

Clint and I are still learning too. There was a generation gap in passing down learning about growing and preserving food on both sides. As a young wife 22+ years ago, I checked out from the library and purchased books to teach myself. Thankfully, there is much more on the internet now. One of my favorite books from then is Carla Emery's The Encyclopedia of Country Living which has been updated. It looks like a phone book and covers just about everything you can imagine about country life.

A lot of my self taught learning was slowed down by lengthy spells of bed rest caused by each pregnancy and then having little ones to care for, but I kept plodding along in that shuffle most of us do..two steps forward and one step back. 

What to plant and what to avoid is dependent upon your immediate area. Know your growing conditions. I have low acid clay soil with a high water table that is rich in minerals due to flooding from our river. Our weather is affected by our river and the ocean. I've been working on building up our soil in certain areas for 22 years. If Clint brings me home a load of mulch or a bag of leaves, grass clippings, or pine cones from a curb, I'm a happy girl! 

What grows well in the wild where you are? Here it is asparagus, blackberries, persimmons, etc. You know you can't lose with plants that already grow wild where you are. I am hoping to get outdoors and dig up some of our wild blackberries and plant them along fence lines and chicken pens this year. 

High yield garden producers like beans, peas, tomatoes, squash, collards, lettuces, etc make good choices. 

Perennials like berry bushes, grapevines, strawberries, asparagus, rhubarb, garlic, horseradish, many herbs, fruit trees and such allow you to plant once and harvest for many years. I consider these good investments.

I also like the permaculture idea of "food forests." I would like to tour a place that has these established as I am still trying to get a fix on what this looks like and how it is done.

Speaking of tours, did you know you can do a free self guided tour (a lot of walking) Joel Salatin's farm which is just outside of Waynesboro, VA?http://www.polyfacefarms.com/principles/ There are tons of ideas to be gathered from here, and his family is friendly and polite. I really enjoyed our short time there and hope to go back soon. 

Look at what is naturally (wild) on your land that can be used for your needs that you are ignoring. https://www.wildedible.com/ I harvest my own elderberry, plantain, dandelion, chickweed, mint (planted by someone who lived here eons ago), bayberry (aka wax myrtle), persimmons, pine needles (animal bedding/potpourri), clover and grasses (feed for animals), etc. We've been conditioned to run to the store for everything rather than use the resources that are all around us. We cut the trees down as needed for firewood and use the discarded branches as a natural fence, privacy, boundary line in areas. We make use of things that are here that we know will work for our needs. I've lived here for 20 years and am always finding something new like a female (fruiting) persimmon tree that was hiding in a ton of brush. (I KNEW that deer was going into that thorny thicket for a good reason!!) 

What plants/vines/bushes do your neighbors have that you can trade for? You can cut costs and expand what you grow quickly this way. 

You'll notice one year, you'll have one crop coming out of your ears, but something else might not be doing that well. Preserve what you can during bumper crop years, because the next year, it will likely be a different crop that produces abundantly. 

As Clint and I approach our 50's, we are looking for ways to make it easier on ourselves in the future, so we are adding raised beds, containers, and are experimenting with gutter* gardening. While on vacation, I saw an elderly Asian man who had a large container garden all raised on boards and saw horses to his chest height. He had produce on the vines, so it was working for him. We've often talked about trying that. We are still shufflin' onward! I'm heading outside now to see what I can get up to before the cold weather comes before I head to the store to stock up on some "loss leader" sale items.

*Avoid the strawberry gutter planting idea you see online. The one you see that has the big pretty berries trailing down has an irrigation system run through it. I've heard of too many who tried it without the irrigation hoses. The berries die in the summer heat.

Friday, February 24, 2017

A Few Ways I Save Money on Groceries

Here are some of my favorite ways to save on groceries. Most of them were passed down to me from older ladies with many children. Food costs are one of the largest costs most of us have, but they can be controlled. I feed my family very well, but I do not spend a lot on our groceries. All of those weekends you see me taking away with my husband...are paid for with our grocery savings!

Plan your menu based on what you have on hand, what is on sale, and what is available.

Buy nutrition vs "food." Food fills your belly, but the wrong foods leave you feeling hungry. Nutritionally dense food keeps you fed, satisfied, and healthy.

Stock up as much as you can on what is on sale. It's a worthy financial investment. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-03-26/invest-food

Learn when food expires and when it is most nutritious to consume it. Most canned and some other foods lasts much longer than the sell by date. Those huge #10 cans can last 20 years or longer if stored properly. However, the nutritional value can break down as it ages. We try to rotate through all of our #10 cans within 12 months or so.

Grow/provide your own...fruit, meat, vegetables, sprouts, herbs, etc. Our grapevines have produced an abundance of fresh fruit and jelly over the years. We have also produced more vines off of those vines. Money well spent! Most of our friends hunt and/or fish.

Don't waste. You would not believe how much this one simple, but far reaching tip can save you in a year. Use everything you can. For example, I will cook a roast with vegetables in the crock pot, and then save the drippings and left overs to make soup the next night. Save drippings from chicken. The fat can be used in baked goods and the jelly like layer makes a very flavorful bouillon for soups and sauces. Save the juice from canned fruits like peaches, add water, and freeze for popsicles. Take the apple your son didn't finish, cut the rest of it up, and make an apple cinnamon "muffin in a cup" for your snack.

Research recipes from the Great Depression. They tend to use nutritionally dense foods that are cheap and readily available. Those recipes can be spiced up to your liking.

Learn the sale cycles in your favorite stores. You will notice certain items go on sale every so often. Stock up enough to carry you through to the next time that item is on sale.

Learn how to preserve the food you grow or buy. Investing in a freezer can save you big dollars over time. I have lived through lengthy power outages and love pressure canning and dehydration because the food is not electricity dependent.

I make a list and plan my trips online before I go. This really helps me stay within budget.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A very full week

 photo 1_zpsfnua5ns4.jpg


I have been rendering lard from our pasture raised American Guinea Hogs. Why use lard from pasture raised hogs? Because that kind of lard is healthy and is a good choice of fat! (I also recommend researching the health benefits of schmaltz vs vegetable shortening and other oils.)

Mine isn't as bright white as it could be if I had used the fat from only certain areas, but I want to make the most of what the hogs gave us for our large family and our pets. My adult children have asked me to supply their pantries with it too. I might get more picky as I meet demand.


This is a busy season for me. In addition to rendering the lard, I've been pressure canning a few dozen quarts of stock, approximately 135 lbs of chicken, and 150 lbs of pork. Tomorrow, I am going to make schmaltz (rendered chicken fat). I've also started several types of seeds for our garden, made three new raised beds, and filled our small incubator with eggs. I've had a house full of sick kids and am sick myself. I am a tired but happy woman.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Prayer Request

Our friends have had a rough pregnancy journey. They were told to abort the baby several times even though a few doctors held out hope that something could be done. One doctor was especially cruel saying they would not try monitor baby during delivery "If it dies, it dies." This same doctor told them, "You have other children. Be happy with that." 

Despite being told the baby would not make it to the third trimester, to full term, through labor... their baby was born alive last night. However, little Verlin does have major health issues and will not be here for long. 


Please keep the family in prayer for comfort and peace as they let their sweet baby go back to the Lord. They take great comfort in the fact that they have left this little one's life solely in God's hands. Thank you!

An update from the mother: "Just an update here: family is here now and we are enjoying today with our special little man who will most likely gain his Heavenly body later today once we take him off life support. We have agreed that it is in his best interest not to prolong his suffering as his lungs are underdeveloped and he has no kidneys or arteries to the bladder. Pray for us as this journey isn't easy for anyone!"

And later: "With heavy hearts we have to say that our precious Verlin peacefully passed away this afternoon. We are delighted that we had 23 hours with our precious son!! Continued prayers would be appreciated!"

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Flight of Fancy

Hannah: "Mom, I wish we could take some feathers and make ourselves some wings so we could fly."

Me: "Hannah, that's exciting! Where would you fly to?"

Hannah: "I'd fly over the farm and sit in the top of a tree." 

Me: "But, you have the WHOLE day. Wouldn't you want to fly somewhere else?"

Hannah: "Mom, I don't want to get lost!"

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Article: The Shack — The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment

The Shack — The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment

"In evaluating the book, it must be kept in mind that The Shack is a work of fiction. But it is also a sustained theological argument, and this simply cannot be denied. Any number of notable novels and works of literature have contained aberrant theology, and even heresy. The crucial question is whether the aberrant doctrines are features of the story or the message of the work. When it comes to The Shack, the really troubling fact is that so many readers are drawn to the theological message of the book, and fail to see how it conflicts with the Bible at so many crucial points.
All this reveals a disastrous failure of evangelical discernment. It is hard not to conclude that theological discernment is now a lost art among American evangelicals — and this loss can only lead to theological catastrophe.
The answer is not to ban The Shack or yank it out of the hands of readers. We need not fear books — we must be ready to answer them. We desperately need a theological recovery that can only come from practicing biblical discernment. This will require us to identify the doctrinal dangers of The Shack, to be sure. But our real task is to reacquaint evangelicals with the Bible’s teachings on these very questions and to foster a doctrinal rearmament of Christian believers.
The Shack is a wake-up call for evangelical Christianity. An assessment like that offered by Timothy Beal is telling. The popularity of this book among evangelicals can only be explained by a lack of basic theological knowledge among us — a failure even to understand the Gospel of Christ. The tragedy that evangelicals have lost the art of biblical discernment must be traced to a disastrous loss of biblical knowledge. Discernment cannot survive without doctrine."

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunday School Children's Bible Study Lesson

I haven't written a Sunday School lesson in a long while, but here is one I made recently for my youngest children. It is free for those who come to this page for personal use in homes and their personal local churches but permission is not given for publishing in any work without proper credit to the author given.

Psalm 119:105 Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

Thy Word - God's Bible, His letter and instruction to us

is a lamp unto my feet-it reveals where you are standing in the moment, God's Word gives useful and relevant knowledge for right where we are.  (It's like when our family pauses in our walks in the woods to listen for sounds, look at the sun's placement, read the terrain, look up for broken/dead trees and limbs that might come down, and look for wildlife signs. We do this as we stand still to reveal exactly where we are and to gain a warning of what we might encounter ahead so we can be prepared. We take this pause daily in God's Word to gain information to help us as we travel further in life.)

and a light unto my path. - to be on a path is showing movement, God's Word illuminates the way to go as we journey day to day and gives us wisdom to correctly use the knowledge we have gained in our daily pauses to avoid the trouble we know is there. (This is like when we use a bright light on a trail at night. We know danger is there in the things we can trip and fall over, the things that can fall on us, and in the wildlife that can harm us, so we want to be prepared and have a way to avoid trouble.)

To illustrate these concepts, we used a small light and a map to study a path and then took a walk using different flashlight strengths. We also had one person hang behind to show how a bright light can help others. The flashlight strengths illustrate the difference between slack Bible studying Christians and strong mature Christians devoted to studying God's instructions to us. Do you want to reflect a bright light for the Lord that attracts others to safety or a weak light that can barely see where it is going and is tripping it's own feet up?

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Immigration, World Poverty and Gumballs - NumbersUSA.com


Just because someone sees things differently than you do does not mean you should jump to the conclusion that they do not have compassion. It simply means they see things differently.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Brain vs Heart

Heart vs Brain: Eons ago, my late grandmother told me she was driving on a back road and came across a car pulled off to the side with a man lying in the middle road and two men flagging her down. She did not stop. She drove around with the plan to call for help when she got somewhere with a phone. As she passed, the man in the road stood up, and all three got into the car. Wanting to help someone is a loving response of a caring heart, but please use your BRAIN to keep from being a victim.

Woman almost carjacked after stopping for dummy in child’s clothing


Monday, January 23, 2017

How do you respond?

"Do you want to know if you are really a servant of God? It is how you respond when you are treated like a servant." - Brian Long

Friday, January 13, 2017

Buttermilk Biscuits

Author Unknown

One Sunday morning at a small southern church, the new pastor called on one of his older deacons to lead in the opening prayer.
The deacon stood up, bowed his head and said, "Lord, I hate buttermilk."
The pastor opened one eye and wondered where this was going.
The deacon continued, "Lord, I hate lard."
Now the pastor was totally perplexed.
The deacon continued, "Lord, I ain't too crazy about plain flour. But after you mix 'em all together and bake 'em in a hot oven, I just love biscuits."
He paused, "Lord help us to realize when life gets hard, when things come up that we don't like, whenever we don't understand what You are doing, that we need to wait and see what You are making.
After you get through mixing and baking, it'll probably be something even better than biscuits." Amen.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A New Puppy!

Update: I've been trying to take and post the picture of the "puppy," but we had a snowstorm with unusually cold temps followed by a busted pressure tank. Due to continuing issues with the Flash Plug in, You'll have to look at the picture on Photobucket  Please excuse the baby cereal. I do the best I can while moving quickly to keep him from getting chilled. He never nursed on his mother..not even once. He is growing and gaining weight.

Well, not quite a puppy....

It's a pig. A newborn pig. A rejected pig.

It's an American Guinea Hog piglet. 

The sow was a first time mom and did not take to the experience. There were some influencing factors, so it's understandable. We believe babies are better off with their mothers most of the time. So, we've tried multiple times to get her to take the two survivors until there wasn't any other choice but to help them ourselves. We brought them indoors and started feeding both store bought colostrum. One of them was too weak from the get go so we figured it wouldn't survive. It didn't. The other is a fighter and is still going strong. 

By fighter, I mean it fights us when we try to feed it, but we get food in it!

I have been helping orphaned animals since I was a young child. Mostly, it's been puppies. So, I keep accidentally calling the piglet a puppy as I give it encouragement. "Hey puppy, it's time to eat!" "Come on, puppy, you can do this! Keep trying little pup!" "Good night, puppy! I'll see you in a few hours." If it survives the great odds against it, and it just might, it will probably think it's name is "Puppy!"

It is indoors in a crate during it's crisis, but it will be moved outside as soon as possible.

I will try to get a picture of the new "puppy" soon. I am suppose to be cleaning my bedroom :-)!

Ink Savings for Large Homeschooling Families

This is my affiliate link for my HP Instant Ink account. If you sign up for Instant Ink through that link, we both get a month's worth of ink for free.

We LOVE it! 

You need an Instant Ink eligible printer

This is an affiliate link to the one we purchased and are using. It was very quick and easy to set up with all nine of our computers. We had it working within a few minutes of taking it out of the box and plugging it in.

If you use more than few cartridges of ink a year, the Instant Ink plan will save you money. 

We signed up for the 300 page a month plan which is $9.99 a month. If you do not use all of your pages, 300 of them can rollover to the next month.

If we go over, it is only $1 per every 25 pages which is also a bargain compared to printer companies and libraries! We are very pleased with our membership and will keep using it for a long time to come.

Friday, January 06, 2017

How I Saved and Earned Money While Being a Stay at Home Mom

This was my response to a Facebook post asking what we mothers of large families do to cut back, save money, and earn money while being a stay at home mom. I've shared things like this before, but there are so many women who want to know how others have done things. They are literally hungry for information and encouragement.

Please excuse the typos. My days are very full, and it was written hastily to fit it into a quiet moment. If I wait for a moment to make it perfect, it will never be shared. I just don't have the time or the desire for the illusion of perfection any more..."good enough" is going to have to suffice. I hope it encourages someone else in their walk as a mother.

I've been a stay at home wife then mom for almost 30 years. I share this to encourage the young mothers to look for ways they can save money because there might be more from home you can do than you realize. Some of these things don't seem like a lot of money savings, but it really adds up and begins to build upon itself as the years pass. So, don't get frustrated, don't give up, just keep working at it. Glean through these posts and pick three things you can do and work at those.

This may seem like a lot, but it's been over the course of 30 years. I didn't do it all at once. I dropped things like couponing and rebating when I found better ways of making/saving money at home. I have sold books, clothes, goat's milk soap, items found at thrift stores, etc online. I make most of my own cleaners including laundry detergent, fabric softener, all purpose cleaner, etc. I cook a lot of our meals from scratch and in bulk so I have economical and nutrient dense meals ready to go in the freezer. I grow a garden and can produce. I have raised animals on our farm for cash sales, eggs, milk, and meat. I have made yogurt, cheese, ice cream, etc from the milk. I garden and can our produce. I also pressure can and freeze ahead meals like roast beef, soups, etc which saves me time and a lot of money (compared to convenience foods and take out meals) later. I am a certified herbalist and make my own herbal blends for my pets, livestock, and family.

In my early marriage, I spent time developing skills like sewing so I could do things myself instead of hiring it out to someone else. My husband has done the same with car repair, plumbing, etc. I read dozens of family money management books like the Tightwad Gazettes and took away what I could use. I reread them now and then for tips that fit my life better now. As a young and overwhelmed mother, I studied how professionals clean to know how to do it efficiently to save myself valuable time and energy while homeschooling our children.

We reuse everything until it falls apart. If it's a vehicle my amazing husband can't repair, it then gets scrapped for cash. We also recycle, and the metal brings in a little cash. We look for free or inexpensive building materials. We consider purchases an "investment" so we do research and try to buy quality items we can use for years to keep from having to replace them.

We look for items that will give something back to us...instead of ornamental trees, I bought grapevines and fruit trees. For many things, I shop thrift stores first and then fill in the gaps with sales items. We use what nature provides..wild blackberries, persimmons, and elderberries grow abundantly in our woods. My husband cuts down our trees and gets them to a manageable length. Then, I and our children split and stack them for our winter heat. We usually are all working on the firewood at one time as an annual family event with a hearty meal afterwards.

I pick up leaves and pine straw from the curb for mulch, livestock bedding, etc. My sons just raked a yard of acorns to feed our hogs. The homeowner can walk without turning an ankle, got work done for free, and we are going to save a small fortune in hog feed.

I find free things to do locally for weekly family entertainment.

We have seven living children. We are debt free and paid off our home years ago. We pay for used vehicles and every thing else with cash. The farm sales and the ways I've learned to save have also allowed us to take two one-week vacations a year (with some extra weekends here and there) most years for the last ten years.

Living this way can be a lot of work, but I've learned the hard way to treat myself like I would a close friend. I give myself half days and even full days off to read or catch up on sleep as needed. I am content with my very joy filled life. I stay home a lot, avoid situations full of drama, and keep focused on my main job-my husband, children, home, homeschool, and ministry.

I know how hard the days are with little ones, pregnancies, housework, homeschooling, etc, so I sincerely hope this gives someone encouragement.