Thursday, February 26, 2015

Just Do It
You know, Nike had a great slogan when it came out, "Just Do It".
I was up in arms the other day, trying to juggle everything when I fell face-first on our bed and claimed that I needed a vacation. Yes, the sunny beaches of Mexico were what I was envisioning. Just a quick get-a-way and I promised I'd be right back {grin}.
Since getting the internet, I have noticed some things, I DO LESS! It's true. I love having the internet at home, but find myself flocking to it so often that I get engulfed in it and the time flies by and I haven't gotten anything done! Pre-internet, I read more BOOKS and got more done for sure. Rob laughs because when I have a problem, I simply scramble for the computer to solve whatever needs solving. It's a dirty, nasty, little habit I tell ya! I'm relying on a device that doesn't always have the answers and steals away my TIME. Time that I could be throwing seeds into trays, fixing our nesting boxes or mucking out an area for composting.
It's such an art learning balance, especially with homeschooling. We've had a week getting back into the swing of things, seeing what needs finishing up before summer gets here and I'll admit to hiding in the closet with chocolate (once, okay, maybe twice...ah-hem) to take a breather and refocus.
I love our life here. I love the messes, the animals, the kiddos, the loud, crazy times that I know I'll miss when they're all teenagers getting ready to leave the house. I love soaking in snuggles from a certain 3-year-old, cuddling my "baby" and playing dollhouse. When I get overwhelmed I think about getting rid of it all for a swift second and think, "nah". I still wouldn't trade our chaotic life for the world! Seriously. I could never go back. I could never have a quiet house, void of animals, laughter, even arguing, chicks in my laundry room, baby rabbits in the living room (because we just had 2 litters born this week and they are stinkin' cute!).
In the times of being overwhelmed, I need to "just do it". Get out in the garden and not search for the latest ways of doing it. I don't know about you, but digging my hands in the soft, dark earth is my escape. Really. If I don't have dirt under my fingernails, I've missed out. It's my "go to".
Let that be our goal this spring to "Just Do It".
Be inspired and then, go get your fingernails dirty!
Go ahead now. Git goin'! Shew!
I mean it, get off your couch and get goin'. Start with some seeds and get you some chickens. You'll never look back.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Around Here Lately...
This post is a hodge-podge of pictures and "happenings" around here. They're full of sunny days and cold nights, lots of playing outdoors, finally getting around to decorating our home, planning for the last season of structured lessons and getting ready for the summer.
Our sweet Molly (3 years old) is pregnant again! We're super stoked! We didn't think it would come back positive, thus we ordered 4 straws for Artificial Insemination, set up the AI tech. to come this week, but thankfully had to cancel him because she was indeed pregnant. We used the BioPryn testing kit for a blood sample and sent it into the lab. They called us the following day and we got the great news! We have two due dates written down and the calf with either be due August 4th - 18th or October 6th-11th. Lord-willing we'll have lots of extra milk for our piggies this fall.

Our garden tomatoes covered for frost. This is something new that we never had to do in our old hometown. Our new town is so highly elevated that we get the coldest of cold temperatures when winter dips down. This particular evening, we hit 22 degrees, had frost on our plants and ice in pockets around the farm everywhere. Solid ICE. The tomatoes didn't make it, neither did the pole beans or cucumbers. Our broccoli, cauliflower, peas, lettuce and chamomile were fine though. In our old town, we could plant just about anything starting in September and let it grow til March, with no fear of a freeze. Here, we learned an important lesson that the cool weather crops definitely have to be planted first and the warmer weather crops need to wait til March to plant. I knew this first year would be a learning curve and we are certainly learning!

Mango blossoms. This tree did not make it through the frost. We're going to try to cut it back and see if it will survive.

Our neighbor's rooster who likes to hang out at our place.

Sunning out our frost sheets that we used to covering. Told my husband we need a clothes line eventually. Strangely enough, I'm itching to line dry again. I miss it, even after a summer with no dryer during rainy season.

One of the pines that still remained in our garden area. Took Rob 30 minutes (roughly) to get it down. It will make for some beautiful lumbar!


I LOVE the smell of freshly cut pine. And the rings, oh the rings! Counting them is bitter sweet. We hate to take them down, but we have to grow food.

Pretty much every person that we've talked to regarding getting a full-sized tractor has said to get one. We've been cutting trees, clearing land out and hauling logs for over a year now. When we first bought our land, Titus was a baby and I would strap him to my back all day, hauling logs. Now, instead of dropping LOTS of money on a 38 horse power tractor, we bought a John Deere lawn mower which has a 25 horse power engine and it hauls just fine. We built a "Go Devil" such as the one seen on Alaska the Last Frontier, strap the log to it, and away it goes. We saved a lot of money and have been able to get all the jobs done so far that we've needed to do. It won't move hay or dig a pond, but we're hoping to barter with neighbors for those services.

A little walk with Molly. Now that the animals have a much larger area, we have to make it a point to walk them so that they stay able to be walked on a lead.

The start of our beans being covered. They didn't make it. The good thing is that our growing season lasts til May up here, so we can still plant in March and harvest in May before the real heat sets in.
The desk of your truly. I found this old, wooden desk at a thrift store for $15.00 and I adore it. I love opening all the windows, letting the breeze in, listening to the birds, watching the animals and kids play outside. I'm looking forward to picking Garden Phlox (which grow wild here and are beautiful!) and Elderflowers this spring to set here and smell as I research, read and write.

Two of the many red-shouldered hawks in our area. Although they don't bother the grown chickens, the little ones don't stand a chance. We watched as a hawk flew down and took one of our 5-week-old chicks a week ago. Not cool. 

Rob and Lincoln working on the garden fencing.

Titus and his "chickies".

We were able to place two lovely picnic tables outside and we've been really enjoying eating meals outdoors as well as doing lessons.

Orange blossoms


Peppermint...I love drying this out for Norah's and my favorite tea.

Milkweed...lost this to the frost as well.


Our "pasture". It used to be a forest and still kinda is, but we're working on it one tree at a time. Was hoping to have most of the trees down and stumps ground for tilling in grass seed this spring, but it looks like it will take more time. Being a grass farmer is something that I take seriously and although I'm at a rookie level learning-wise, I'm itching to get it a-growin'!

Molly-Moo and Mabel-Mae. Mabel will be ready for breeding this April.

Our compost pile. It's pretty small here because I was emptying it out and into our garden, but I had to snap a shot. When we moved here, this was the FIRST thing (besides continually cutting down trees) that I focused on. Soil is everything and good soil grows good grass. Good grass gives you healthy animals and healthy animals give you good, nutrient dense food. I'll be sure to do a more detailed post on how we got A LOT of compost in just two weeks' time and keep it going (even still's a permaculture thang). This compost grows great plants and it was all FREE! Tee hee.

Half-painted fencing. This sucker keeps the chickens out of the garden...yea!

There is no shortage of firewood here. I'm sure someday we'll run low (maybe 30 years from now), but we're actually looking into getting a wood stove for the house. They can be found quite inexpensively, heat your home well, you can use them for cooking and the ones that are EPA-certified can be installed into manufactured homes.

A little Norah and Titus lovin'.

Time to paint. One thing we LOVE here is that we rarely run our air conditioner. Even though we live in Florida, due to our elevation, the nights are substantially cold here and we just cover up with an extra blanket at night, then open the windows in the early morning, letting the cold air in to keep us comfortable during the day. It's lovely.

Oh yeah, we have 2 cats now. This one in particular has earned his keep with his professional mouse catching. (grin)

Yes, we live outside (pretty much). Norah is enjoying a reading lesson here.

Our meat birds who are slowly disappearing thanks to our hawks. Time to build another chicken coop.
Our piglets were born last week and we were so excited to take a trip to visit them. A little boy and a little girl made up this small, first time litter. We're hoping to two more from another sow soon. Total of 4.

They're quite adorable if I do say so myself. Friends from church breed them and they have been so sweet to share their knowledge with us. This past week, you could find me at any given day researching natural pig wormers and pig raising. I ordered this book in hopes to learn more about natural pig raising vs. our commercial ways. There's a lot being done with garlic, rosemary and DE (Diotemaceous Earth).

Hog plum trees are in blossom here and they're so purdy. Can't wait to do us some hog plum pickin' and make jam.

The blossoms have a light fragrance

ICE! Yes, we had an ice fight the morning after our below freezing temperatures.
Blessings sweet readers!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Adoption Story...Part 2
It was my birthday. Thirty-five to be exact. My husband had taken off of work to stay home and spoil me, helping with the kids, chores, and just being home for me to enjoy. It was lovely. We had dinner that night and after we ate Rob asked me if I wanted to get out alone that night for some peace and quiet. I thought it would be nice and I had a list of things I wanted to look up and research on the internet. So, I grabbed the laptop and headed out in search of a place with Wi-Fi. McDonald's it was.
I got an iced tea and sat down amongst maybe 10 others in the restaraunt. I love the corner spot and as I sat with my list of things to research, a sweet, older woman walked up to me. She had brown skin, glasses and the most precious smile. She introduced herself as Miss Betty. She said, "Excuse me. Could you come help me with my computer?" She looked puzzled and I complied, willing to help her out. She had a notebook in her hand, filled with scribblings and notes. She asked me to get her online with the Wi-Fi. Check. Then, she had a website she needed help finding and couldn't figure out where to type in the address. (I'm thinking she was VERY new to computers!) I read the address and thought it was maybe for a cute blog or something.
It was for an adoption website. I gulped.
 I have been praying since Titus was born that the Lord would reveal whether He wanted us to have another baby, adopt or "be done" with babies. I'm always "on the lookout" for revelations and leadings of my Lord and I was wondering if this was one of them.
As I got her to the website she needed, we began talking about adoption. She had such a heart for it and shared that she was a believer, feeling God asking her to take in some children who needed love. I listened as she shared. I walked out of McDonald's that evening feeling comforted by Miss Betty and encouraged. I never saw Miss Betty again after that night, but I think about her often. My birthday was the start of a line of revelations in which our family would be changed forever.
A few evenings later, we were at church together as a family. Rob usually meets us there and thus, we have to take two cars home. The kids usually scramble to get into Daddy's car (I guess because it's cooler than mine...ha!) and this night, it was just the girls and I driving home. Adoption was heavy on my mind and sometimes I just throw up silent prayers asking the Lord for more revelation. As we pulled out, there was a car in front of us with the license plate "ADOPT 1". Avonlea pointed it out and laughed. "Look Mom!" she said. "This license plate says ADOPT 1 on it. Maybe God is telling us something." I smiled. "Okay, Lord. I'm listening."
A few days later, I was folding laundry and the kids were playing outside. I must have had 6 loads dry at that time and was folding and listening to Moody Radio. (My secret addiction.) I was listening to David Platt (My kids always try to "name that preacher" as we listen as a family and they call him "the pastor that always sounds like he's spitting". I tell them that's not kind to say, but sometimes I wonder if he ever swallows. Anyway, I do appreciate his heart on the gospel and enjoy listening.). He was in James and talking about adoption. He was talking about all the things we SAY as Christians that we're going to do, but never act on. The Bible is clear that we ACT. Then, he continued to paint the picture of Christ's adoption of us. I got teary-eyed, knowing that He was revealing more and more.
The following evening, I needed some groceries and Rob offered to get the kids ready for bed so I could run out. That particular week, I was in prayer about adoption, but specifically what was on my mind was if I could love an adopted child as much as my own biological children. As I walked around the store, a little girl, not much older than Titus was running around next to me. She was Hispanic and had the most gorgeous brown eyes. She had a pink pacifier in her mouth and ran up to me. I picked her up and asked her in Spanish where her mama was. She was scared. I started playing with her to comfort her, then started walking around the store to find her mother. Nothing. I asked a few shoppers if they saw a woman looking for her baby. Nothing. I thought, surely there's a mother in this store who's a nervous wreck because she can't find her baby! Nothing. I finally went up to the deli department and told the girls that I had found this baby who needed her mother. One of the girls came around the counter and took her from me.
That's when I knew.
My heart ached and I knew that this was the Lord telling me that I COULD and I WOULD love my adopted child just as much as my biological children. I said goodbye, grabbed my cart and began shopping, only somehow, I couldn't remember anything I needed to get. My mind was on that sweet baby, lost without her mother. I finished my shopping, checked out and then wandered over to Customer Service. I asked the workers if that little girl had found her mother and they said that she had. I had peace. "Okay, Lord. I think I can do this."
The next Sunday, our pastor had touched on adoption, another sermon on adoption came onto Moody Radio that same week. I couldn't escape the fact that I truly felt that God was revealing to adopt. A few months prior to this, I had searched for an Obstetrician in our area (that was in our insurance network) as well as midwives, but every time I tried calling a new practice, they either didn't take our insurance, weren't taking new customers or wouldn't take me due to how many c-sections I've had (5). I contacted a sweet mother who has had 11 C-sections hoping for some advice, but she had some struggles she was working through with her father's passing away and although she did contact me and desperately wanted to chat, she couldn't and I understood completely. Doors continued to close in terms of having another baby, but I was at peace knowing God had a different plan and for the first time, I was okay with not having another baby. God was going to choose one for us this time.  I prayed one morning, just ASKING the Holy Spirit if we should adopt and this warm and over resounding "yes" echoed in my body.
The process of adoption is the closest picture I can think of to what Jesus must feel as He accepts us into His Kingdom. What a messy, but beautiful picture. It's engulfed with hardship and it interrupts OUR plans to submit to HIS plans. It's beautiful all at the same time and I'm so thankful that the Lord has called us to do it. I'm so thankful that our kids get the chance to see first-hand the importance of it. I'm thankful that God would entrust us enough to steward this little boy or girl for Him. So humbled.
After receiving confirmation from the Holy Spirit, we've made it our prayer that the Lord would lead us to WHERE, WHAT AGE, and WHAT TIMING. These have been the biggest questions. The where has been narrowed down to local here in Florida, the age is infant, and the timing is all up to God!
I think sometimes, we get too entangled with the details of service to the Lord, that if we just follow the very passions He's given us and just do SOMETHING, He'll lead us. So we did. Although I'd rather adopt internationally, we decided that that would be too difficult for our family in this particular season of life. We don't have a lot of outside help so for Rob to take weeks off from work or me to fly over alone with 5 little ones in tow in a foreign country, would be very difficult on our family. We chose to go through an adoption agency that is local for our area and we also chose (unless the Lord leads us otherwise) to stay in birth order, adopting an infant or child under Titus' age.

(Please note, I am not saying that we would ever say "no" if God called us to adopt out of birth order. I am simply saying that statistically, staying in birth order is highly recommended for a family's structure. We have seen family's thrive in birth order and some have thrived out of birth order. Some have struggled in birth order and some have struggled out of birth order. Dr. Kevin Leman has wise advice regarding adoption in his book "The Birth Order Book" and for now, we've adhering to that advice unless the Lord calls us otherwise.)
 By choosing an adoption agency that is local, we could drive to the hospital for the birth, bring the children with us, or take turns driving back and forth until discharge of baby from the hospital. Also, running a farm, it's not always easy finding someone to watch our animals. We've been blessed so far to have neighbors feed and water them, but when there's a cow in milk, it's a different story.
We've also found that domestic adoption is much less expensive than international. (We have our very own mission field right here in our own country, states and neighborhoods, and yet the romanticism of ministering in foreign countries is overrated. Not saying some can't be called to foreign countries. God DOES call, but sometimes, I think we call ourselves, which can be dangerous.)
We've looked into fostering, but for the State of Florida, we aren't able to since we already have five children and that is the max for our state. We've explored so many different avenues, but we feel so at peace with the adoption agency we're working through. They offer amazing counseling services to birth mothers, prenatal care and much more. They also receive the gospel. Knowing that your money is going towards that is very comforting.
We're so happy to share what God is doing in and through us. Please keep us in your prayers as our beginning paperwork has been submitted, a home study will be scheduled and at any time (weeks to years), we could get a call for our sixth, little blessing!

"Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow."

Isaiah 1:17 
(I do realize that I share a lot of details with my readers, but I don't mind and I hope that our story's details may be a witness to the glory of God as well as sharing useful information on how we went about decisions we felt called to make.)