Monday, January 11, 2016

Pomander Balls

Inspired by the book, Little House in the Big Woods, the kids worked together to make a pomander ball, just like the one Aunt Eliza gave to Ma. This little activity took the kids over an hour to make! But at least it was an activity that had them working together and away from their screens. These pomander balls smell so good, and make a great little scented decor. The cloves act as a preservative for the apple, and the apple is actually suppose to keep for months and months. All we needed for this activity was an apple free of cuts and bruises and a small container of whole cloves.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Farming Story: Mom Butchers a Chicken

One afternoon as I'm taking out the trash, I found our dog Bella on the entrance of our garage killing one of our barred rock chickens. These black and white chickens with their bright red combs are my favorite, and their purpose here is to provide our family with eggs. Bella seemed so proud of herself and didn't seem to understand why she was getting a spanking. After all, she has seen us butcher chickens before, and she has been fed leftover chicken meat from the table, so I guess in her doggy mind she didn't see what the big deal was. I sent Bella to her cage, and then fetched the shovel out of the storage room to scoop the dead chicken up to toss far into the woods. However, when I stood over the chicken, I could see that she was still alive, breathing, even able to stand, but she was mortally wounded. I knew that we would have to have the unfortunate task of putting her out of her misery. Mitch was away at work, and wouldn't be home for at least 3 to 4 hours. I called him anyways asking what to do. He told me my two options were to either take care of the situation myself or let the hen suffer until he was able to come home. Of course I couldn't allow the poor hen to suffer, so I called my oldest son Maddox outside to help me. I had him find an axe while I brought the chicken over to a chopping block located on the side of the house. I didn't think that I could do it, so I asked Maddox to take over for me, he was willing, but with the axe in his hand I was concerned that he would miss and cause the hen further pain, and what kind of mother was I to have my 9 year old son to kill a chicken instead of taking care of the dirty work myself. To be fair, this wasn't his first chicken slaughter, but it would be mine. I took the axe from his hand and said I would do it myself. I screamed as I swung the axe down, the head was removed and the poor hen was dead. I cleaned up the mess myself and thanked Maddox for his help.

This all happened a couple of months ago. Bella our dog has since killed all of our barred rock chickens, but she has left our cornish rock and red star chickens alone. I guess our black and white chickens were too slow to get away from her. I'm not sure how to train our dog to leave our chickens alone, especially since she has a taste for them, but we're trying our best to work with her, after all she is only a big puppy, who isn't yet a year old.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Shaking Butter

The kids and I are reading through the Little House on the Prairie books, starting with The Little House in the Big Woods. We're loving the book! Inspired by the Ingalls we are having fun with a few crafts as we read through the books. Our first activity was homemade butter. We don't own a cow or a goat (yet!) and we don't have a butter churn, instead we used a clean jar with a secure lid, and heavy cream bought from our local grocery store. We filled our jar half way with cream and started shaking. We had two jars, and I let the big kids go first while the little ones were able to have a turn when their older siblings arms became tired. The kids had to shake the jar for maybe 10 to 15 minutes before the cream turned to whip cream, and then finally butter sitting in a jar of buttermilk! The kids loved this project. They had so much fun, that they couldn't stop talking about it all day. We squeezed the buttermilk out of the butter and separated the liquid and the butter into two different containers. To enjoy the fruits of their labor the kids then baked some fresh homemade bread to go with their butter. We saved the buttermilk, which I plan to use to make some buttermilk pancakes.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Farming Story: Egg in the Snake's Mouth

Back in October while the kids and I were outside doing some light yard work clearing our yard of sticks, trash, and toys, we noticed the ducks were upset and fussing. Skylar checked to see what all the excitement was about and found a snake in the ducks' nest! This was all the more upsetting because one of our ducks had finally started to go broody, and we were expecting a nest full of ducklings soon. Mitch was working from home, so I was able to get him down to the coop right away. Mitch grabbed the snake by the tail and pulled him into view. He was a long rat snake with a large egg shaped lump in his throat. To save the egg, Mitch pushed the egg out of the snake's mouth with his foot! Unfortunately the snake scared the ducks away from sitting on their eggs again, and we don't have baby ducklings.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Farming Story: Pigs Are Out

One afternoon a couple of months back, I had just put the little ones down for a nap while the big kids ventured outside to play. I was washing dishes when Maddox bolted through the back door to announce that the pigs were missing! I was a little confused, but when I went outside to investigate, I found that sure enough our two hogs were not only not in their cage, but they weren't in the yard either, or anywhere to be found. A tree branch had fallen on the pig pen, allowing them to get away. Our property is surrounded by woods, so  I assumed they were out foraging not too far from home. I filled a bowl with pig feed and set out into the woods calling for the pigs, tapping on the food bowl. It then occurred to me that even if I found these pigs, how in the world was I going to get them back into their pen? Even if I had thought to bring a rope or leash with me, its not like they have collars, and I'm certainly not strong enough to pull these pigs, who are 250 lbs each, out of the woods all the way home. I kept calling. Suddenly I heard a gun fire! Our nearest neighbor is 10 plus acres away. Close enough to walk to, but not close enough to see. My heart sank knowing that a neighbor had found two strange pigs in his yard and probably shot them to keep them from eating his garden. My next thought was, well I guess we'll have to process our bacon today. I started to walk back home from the woods. The plan was to hop in the car and talk to the neighbors, but I could hear the big kids calling for me saying, "Mom! Mom! We found the pigs!!" As I reached my backyard I could see our giant pigs running down our dirt road, into our yard, and towards me in the backyard! The gun shot must have been from a neighbor not shooting my pigs, but giving them a scare so they would run back home. Because I still had the food bowl in my hand, they ran right to me, following the food bowl as I led them back into their pen. I was so relieved! A few weeks later we were able to send them to the butcher and we now have a freezer full of pork.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Christmas 2015

We kick started our Christmas season by surprising the kids and taking them to the local Christmas parade and carnival!

We made homemade cookies and gingerbread houses

We have a tradition on Christmas Eve to open up one present. The present is always brand new Christmas PJs. This year I included a candy cane and hot cocoa packets. Mason was so sweet at night as I was tucking him in, I told him he must go to sleep right away, and that in the morning there would be presents for him.  His response was so sweet, "But momma, I already got a present, I got a candy cane!"

Christmas night we ate dinner at my parent's house.

 The morning before New Year's Eve we packed up and traveled to NC to spend Christmas with Mitch's siblings. We spent our short weekend together visiting the Carl Sandburg home and ringing in the new year together! I was also able to meet my newest nephew Grayson, from Mitch's youngest sister Brianna.

Josiah, Mason, Talon, and Maddox


I regret that I didn't get a photo of all the cousins together. New Year's Day we drove to SC to visit my grandma and to eat our traditional New Year's Day lunch, black eye peas, collard greens, and pork chops. We had a great holiday season spending time with our family. I'm looking forward to seeing what this new year brings.

Happy New Year

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