And now for something completely different: fun family activities

Blueberry goes back to school within the next week and both Sheldon and I find ourselves scratching our heads wondering where this shortened summer went.  As relatively new farmers, we haven’t been able to take a vacation since the great vacation of 2012 (because visiting family does NOT count as we all know!!), but we do try to do little day trips here and there.  In the last week, we have tried to visit a few places that were within driving distance from the homestead including:

Fantastic Caverns

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As you all know, Wilbur crossed the “rainbow bridge” last weekend.  Blueberry and I were in charge of taking care of his remains in a humane and legal way.  On the way back, she talked me into a last minute side trip to Fantastic Caverns.  I’m glad she did!  If you are ever near this part of the country and want to take a very easy tour through a lovely cavern originally explored by a group of twelve brave ladies in the 1800’s, I recommend it!

Woolaroc

Woolaroc is a pretty cool little (ha!  3700 acres little) historical site that includes a wildlife preserve, old buildings, lots of art (including quite a bit of Native American art), and some fun stuff for the little humans like a great play area and a small petting zoo.  Woolaroc isn’t quite as great as say Promised Land Zoo in terms of getting close and personal with the animals, but it’s pretty interesting all the same!  And since you are going to be in the area, you might as well check out…

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Bartlesville

Bartlesville is an interesting town much like any small city with a large corporate presence.  Interesting mix of people, some good restaurants, and lots and lots of artfully decorated Bison statues including this one.

disco bison

Blueberry couldn’t quite figure out what was going on with his undercarriage, but we had a laugh about his “disco balls.”  Well played Bartlesville!

So, that is the extent of this year’s summer vacation.  It’s not quite as exciting as going to Europe or visiting the House of Mouse (depending on your perspective), but for budding homesteaders, it’s enough.  Now, on to our next adventure…first grade!

Happy homesteading!

 

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Observing the day of rest…not so easy!

We saw Planes this weekend and while much of it was predictable and forgettable, one line stuck with me.  “I want to do something different than what I was built for!”

Well, what are we built for?  A big part of why we moved out of the city and here to Blueberry Acres is because both Sheldon and I felt called to a life closer to what we imagine God’s will for us includes:  producing our own food as much as possible, teaching our child about the circle of life, showing care and compassion for animals and people who need it, connecting with a community that is a little less materialistic.  I’m not sure if we have achieved all of those, but it is part of our walk to be what we were built for.

Part of that walk has also included doing more to follow God’s will.  What I’m specifically talking about today is observing the Sabbath as a day of rest and worship.  Now, we believe in corporate worship and have tried to include going to church as a regular family activity.  However, we have absolutely sucked eggs when it came to allowing Sunday to be a day of rest and family time.  I know there are as many definitions of Sabbath/The Lord’s Day as there are religions, but for us, we felt called to the idea that God wanted us to have a day of rest as a family.  We were finding that we were all entering the week pretty ragged with lots of yelling and not much “good stuff” in our proverbial love tanks.  We began to realize that we can’t just follow God’s will on the super biggies..the stealing, the lying, the coveting, etc…we also need to think about the resting.  I know that I cannot know the mind of The Lord, but I believe that He knows what He is talking about…even on a busy family farm, you gotta rest!

As a result, for the last few weeks, we have started officially observing Sunday as our day of rest.  We take care of the animals basic or immediate needs, we cook/bake together as a family…but beyond that post-church, it’s kind of a PJ day.  And it’s about killed us.  Seriously.  This is harder than we thought.  Sheldon works full time 35 miles from our home, so most of our projects have to wait for the weekend and there are some things that I simply cannot do alone during the week around my job.  As a result, we’re behind on both the pig pen and the newest chicken run.  The laundry threatened to eat me alive when I looked at it earlier today.  Blueberry’s room looked like a bomb of books exploded above it.  Cats and dogs living together…mass hysteria!  Sigh.

But, yesterday Sheldon and I sat and peeled apples while talking and connecting reminding me of just how special my husband is.  Blueberry and I made pie crust with her wearing her cute new tractor apron.  We all sat on the floor and played together with lots of tickling and lots of laughter.  We didn’t make any headway on our projects, but we made memories that we would have otherwised missed.  It’s a commandment that you wouldn’t think would be hard to follow, but for us of the never ending to-do list…it is.  But of course, God is right in this as with everything else.  Our family has benefited immeasurably just in this short period of time.  Hey-in fact, Sheldon came in on Saturday afternoon in the midst of our chores and asked if we could all stop what we were doing so he could take us to the movies.  Not so bad for the guy I lovingly refer to as The Weekend Taskmaster.  I’ll share more as we better align our lives with God’s plan, but I would love to hear from my readers.  What changes have you made in your life to get yourself where you need to be…and what has surprised you along the way?  Are you living for what you were built for…or not?

Happy Homesteading!

Trying some new things this month: a working parents guide to not medicating with wine

Well, it’s July 1st.  That means that here at Blueberry Acres, we are sliding downhill (fast) into August where our little Blueberry will start her first day of “real” school.  I began to get misty eyed about it as I thought through the month of June and decided to take her out of the part-time preschool that she has been attending.  Seemed like a good plan at the time.

However, that means that now in addition to working from home part-time, taking care of Blueberry Acres full-time and occassionally shaving my legs…I need to find a way to provide care for the squirt 24/7 while working to keep that balance without having to sneak into the kitchen to fortify myself with wine on days that end in a Y.

Enter in quiet time.  We have decided that we will follow the advice of oh-so-many other bloggy moms and dads with structured quiet time.  While I wish my little Blueberry still slept in my arms, the reality is that those days are gone.  However, I still need (crave, depend on, am crazy for) that quiet time in the afternoon where I feel like if I have to answer another question from a 5 going on 23 year old, I will lose what is left of my mind.  As a result…we’re going to a post lunch regimen that involves the kiddo going to her room for exactly one hour each afternoon.  What she does when she gets there doesn’t matter to me as long as no cats are involved, she doesn’t blow the roof off the house and no hour ends with a fun ride in an ambulance.  Beyond that, she can read Dostoyevsky, play with her guys or paint her toenails blue..whatever.

Beyond the solitary confinement quiet time, we’re trying to be a little more loose on bedtime so that she can enjoy more evening farm time.  I don’t know if I have ever seen a more beautiful fireworks display than the one the fireflies put on around here at dusk.  We’re also asking her to be more involved with the evening poultry routine.  What’s that you ask?  Well, often it’s where I stand in the various poultry yards trying to convince everyone to go into their coops while cursing their moms and telling them I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving, etc.  It’s not my finest moment.  But, add in some Blueberry, and well things get a lot easier…that kid is the dang chicken whisperer.  She has had an almost magical pull over these birds from day one whether they were chickens or turkeys and she can wrangle them into the coop with limited effort.  It helps reduce my workload and stress…but also gives her a little extra shot of exercise after dinner.  While it means that she goes to bed a little later, it also means that she is sleeping in a little more.  That works nicely for me!  While Sheldon would prefer to be strict with the routine, I’m finding that a little flexibility here is going a long way.

Introducing regular chores of her choice.  We have struggled with this for a while now.  We want to introduce the concept of a weekly allowance, but we don’t want her to think that money will always be handed to her without work.  When we have tried to introduce chores for dollars in the past, it’s fizzled out fairly quickly.  Especially when she gets her piggy bank and tries to pay me to do some of her chores because she doesn’t want to.  Obviously she has mastered the concept…it’s just not of interest.  So, now we are going to one unrewarded chore per day (in addition to picking up after herself) and we’re hoping that by doing so, we’ll continue to get her to invest in how things operate, look, etc around here.  Plus, if she is doing more then we are doing less.

But, I’m curious…for the other bloggy moms/dads out there….what do you to balance your day?

Happy Homesteading!

I’ve been a lame blogger but a busy homesteader, Part 1: Cow Drama

I think it’s been several weeks since our last update of any value. But holy smokes, have we been busy here on Blueberry Acres Farm. Let me just give you the down and dirty update of the last few weeks on the cow front:

Went to cow auction to buy feeder cow. Purchased Holstein heifer. I received hilarious education in cattle prices that I will use to shame myself in later post.

Two days after receiving feeder cow that we have decided to originally name DANGHOLSTEIN! (explanation to follow later again…), we purchased a guard donkey named Festus for 50 smackers off Craigslist.

We work it out with our neighbor to get his cousin to cut our side pasture, which is 8-10 acres of too high grass. As a result, we need to move our tiny herd to what I refer to as our valley pasture so that he can cut our hay.

I wake up early on Mother’s day. I know…I should have gotten to sleep in, but that stupid circadian rhythm kicked in. I decide instead of waiting for Sheldon to handle walking these cows through what was probably snakey infested waist high grass, I would put on my big girl panties and do it myself. Blueberry decided to watch from the fence line (probably because I threatened her with every trick in the book to keep her out of the same probably snakey pasture) and cheered me on. While Festus nibbled on my hair, DANGHOLSTEIN followed too close next to him (did I mention that she was about 900 pounds at purchase?), and our Belties following a polite distance behind, I rattled my bucket of sweet feed for all I was worth while simultaneously scanning for snakes and cursing my now lost courage. But, I got those cows/donkey through the gate and closed it up. I was quite proud of myself!

Awaken the next morning to find all 3 cows back in the side pasture along with Festus. Curse them all tremendously and attempt to get them back into the valley pasture. Have the freaking GENIUS idea that I can just lead them from the gate in the “backyard” to the next gate to the valley pasture. Did I mention that I have to get across a totally open space, around Blueberry’s playset and our clothesline to get to this second gate? It made sense at the time. I let Festus out first (tactical mistake, I know that now) and get him to the second gate with ease, feed rattling, and only a little bit of anxiety. Think that this actually means that the cows will follow suit. See that Pia (the pregnant Beltie) is up next, open the gate and somehow manage to get her all the way across the backyard without incident. Turn to open the gate, turn back around and that ninja cow is gone. She is moving up the yard towards the front yard. Somehow I manage to redirect her and again lose her at the gate. She makes her way back to the original gate where she attempts to get back in to her little pal Maureen. I manage to get her back into this gate without incident other than the fact that I need to change my pants now. Decide that I can once again duplicate my walk through the snakey pasture, so attempt to get Larry, Curly and Moe to follow me, only to realize halfway through the pasture that I am Larry/Curly/Moe and these cows have outsmarted me…they are walking in the opposite direction despite my big bucket of sweet feed.  Take the walk of shame back to the house passing Festus who I let back in the side pasture in defeat.

A couple of days after getting Festus home, I find myself running down the dirt road yelling DANGHOLSTEIN! as she runs away from me in a focused attempt to get to our neighbor’s herd of cattle. No amount of sweet feed treats was bringing her back.  About this time Sheldon pulls up on his way home from work.  I tell him what happens, and he goes to park his truck in front of the house, which is about 1/4 mile away from me.  By this point, somehow Pia had found the weak spot in the fence (that DANGHOLSTEIN!) had served to make when she leapt over it and she was now on the loose too.  So, I’m standing on our road with DANGHOLSTEIN! the feeder cow going one way and Pia, the beloved mother Beltie who was helping to start our herd going the other way.  I decided to handle Pia and God bless her, she came right back to me with nothing other than voice commands and kind words.  She got right back in the pasture.  About this time, I had called for reinforcements from Sheldon (by called, I mean shrieked into the phone in the most unappealling way possible) and he pulled up to deal with DANGHOLSTEIN!…he crested the hill on our road just in time to watch her do a cow-jumping-over-the-moon impersonation when she cleared our neighbor’s cattle fence to get to the cow of her dreams.  She did not even touch his perfectly sound fence-just cleared that thing like it was a foot high.

Fast forward a couple of weeks…

Fences are repaired.  Sheldon wanted to get an electric cattle fence for DANGHOLSTEIN!, but I think I have talked him down off that ledge.  Seems kinda silly for one feeder cow who is probably only a month or two from becoming dinner.

The Belties and Festus are still in the valley pasture awaiting the mysterious cousin who is supposed to cut our hay.  It’s been hard to get more than a day or two without some kind of moisture, so I’m sure we’re at the bottom of his list of things to do.  We’re considering hiring someone to do it (because we don’t have the necessary equipment, nor do we have a need for it with our small 15ish acreage), but we’re hoping that Cousin Whateverhisname comes through.

DANGHOLSTEIN!  remains in with the neighbor’s cattle.  He is a super nice guy who is going to bring her over to us and actually put her into the correct valley for us (actually for me since I’m the only one home during the day) next time he manages to get her in the corral.  Otherwise, he’s cool with her remaining there until it’s time to do otherwise.  Can you imagine a neighbor in a suburb being that laid back about an animal infringing on their property?  Yeah, me neither…

We made the investment in our own little stock trailer.  We had found a very inexpensive rental place for trailers in a nearby town, but when we saw the opportunity to get our own, we thought it would be a good investment for us in the long run.

It looks like we will be getting a bull in the near future.  Our original bull didn’t pass his motility test (for those of you scratching your head, that means his swimmers were sluggish….), but this bull is from the same farm and from what I can gather, comes from Missouri Beltie royalty.  If he passes all of his necessary tests, we’ll add him to the herd with the hopes that when the time is right for Maureen, they will make sweet cow music together.

Well, I know this post is devoid of helpful links or interesting pics, but dang..this is about all I can manage these days.  If I could go back and tell my 2012 winter self to sleep up in preparation for our first spring/summer on the farm, I would have.  Unfortunately, I just can’t seem to find my flux capacitor….

We’ll share more soon.  Lots of chicken and turkey drama in part 2.  Until then, happy homesteading!

Do homesteaders make better parents?

The shortest blog post in history: yes!

 

Ok, seriously folks.  In the last 24 hours, I’ve read two things in relation to parenting that gave me pause.  One was a Yahoo article about a teenager who has eaten nothing but Ramen noodles for the last 13 years.  As a result, experts estimate that she has the health of an 80-year-old.  Where the heck are the parents here?  I refuse to accept the fact that a parent has been unable to course correct this eating spiral over 13 years.  I’m sure it hasn’t been easy for these parents, but my goodness.  Where is the accountability?

The other thing I read was not exactly new news, but I saw one of my more conservative FB pals post an excerpt from Bill Cosby’s famous Pound Cake speech.  Much like the Bible, I think people can use this speech and twist it to their own needs, but for me, it’s all about parental accountability.  As a parent, this speech resonates loudly with me.  I don’t see parenting as a uniquely white/black/red/polka dot issue.  It’s hard freaking work being a parent regardless of color.  Add in social inequity, poverty or ignorance and that job just got a whole lot harder.  But parents still have to be accountable.

And then there is my family.  Budding Homesteaders.  Want accountability?  Try Homesteading.  The ultimate accountability.  It’s not just our precious children or grandchildren, but I like to think that whether you are homesteading on your urban rooftop or on your 1000 acres, you have entered into a contract to do things right for your land, your animals, your plants, your family, your friends…all of it.   It’s all about choice and the consequences of those choices.

Now, does this mean that I think all farmers, ranchers, homesteaders are better parents?  Of course not.  The same jerks exist everywhere regardless of lifestyle.  But dang it, I’m sick of hearing about parents buying their children’s love with stuff.  I’m weary of seeing parents convince their children that they are the center of everyone’s universe.  I’m over hearing parents tell their children that bad behavior is a product of bad environment and not bad decisions.  I wish more parents loved enough to be strong.  To be that mean parent.  To realize that our children are capable of making decisions, taking responsibility and feeling accountability.  Making affordable mistakes is all part of learning and certainly something that we do here every single day as homesteaders.  So no, I am not so arrogant to think that homesteaders are better parents.  I think today’s post was more rant than information, but perhaps there is something to this way of life.  Maybe this lifestyle can teach our kids a thing or two about accountability even if we aren’t always perfect parents.  It is certainly my prayer for our future.

 

 

 

I think my family is trying to murder me…

…through sleep deprivation.

 

Sorry for the lack of posts/responses lately folks.  Between Sheldon’s snoring, Blueberry’s wandering and everyone’s nighttime noisiness, Blueberry Acres Farm has been far from bucolic over the last week.  It hasn’t been all zombie-like movements…We have successfully planted 12 new trees (go environment!), ordered what feels like truck loads more (I have no freaking idea where these new trees are going), gotten in another order of seeds, gotten in bedding plants and almost broke my amazingly agile and healthy 70 year old Dad as he helped us plant the latest batch of trees in the driving/cold rain.

This weekend will bring us more dog training, more garden planting, probably more trees, and apparently the building of a turkey coop THAT I DO NOT HAVE TIME TO BUILD BEFORE THE TURKEYS GET HERE IN 3 WEEKS.

I have lots more to say but no time to say it right now.  Calgon take me away!  🙂

 

Another quickie: Going to be a busy weekend

Well, not much to say today because it’s MOMMY FUN DAY!  That day where I try to work as little as possible and me and The Blueberry just do fun things, so we have several things on our agenda today which means I won’t be online much for the next day or two.  But hopefully by the end of the weekend, we will have multiple trees planted, our greenhouse built, dogs trained more and lots of fun family memories to boot.  Hope you all have a great weekend-see you next week!