In Preparation

I don’t even want to say it, but here it goes……winter!

We have been busy preparing for the winter months ahead of us. I really am in denial about cold weather this year. I find myself doing stupid stuff, thinking that it will remain 70 degrees every day. For example, I left thirty gallons of prepared juice (for wine) in the garage thinking it would start the ferment process because well it still is summer, right?

Yesterday was most likely the last day I will be able to go bare foot so I made sure not to wear shoes whenever I could. (That is not a bruise on Hannah’s foot. She got into some wild berries on the property. They ended up all over her shirt too:))

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I spent some of the day preparing the top garden for the horses who will arrive here this weekend.

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Over the weekend Brook and his brother filled the hay barn for those horses to have some grub this winter. The forts and wild shenanigans have already begun to take place in there.

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Wood has been cut, split, stacked, and covered. I am so thankful for a warm house on these chilly nights.  Not to mention a hard working husband to make sure his girls are warm and cozy.

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The piggies and cows have gone to the butcher. The last of the chickens will soon fill our freezer.

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The last of the canning will commence with sour kraut. That is, if the chickens don’t eat all the cabbage before I tend to it.

Craft supplies were just bought today to stock the art cabinet. This mama has to be prepared as we will soon be spending more of our time in doors.

Such a bittersweet feeling. The tug to come inside met with the pull to be outdoors as much as possible. Oh to find that balance.

Enjoy these last few days of August   I mean October.

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Gardens, Girls, and Dessert

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Thursdays have become girls day around here. It started with Grace and I visiting my parents on a Thursday. Now with all the girls being born into the family along with my aunt and uncle recently moving into the area, we all seem to congregate at my parent’s house. The guys go one way and the girls hang out with coffee and magazines. This past Thursday we mixed it up a bit. Everyone came to my house for lunch and a trip to The Conestoga House and Gardens. If you are local to Lancaster County, this is a free garden to visit. They are open on Wednesdays and Thursdays through September. I suggest you gather a group of your best girls or even your honey for a stroll around these beautiful grounds. End your time there with a picnic or just a simple dessert like we did.

Goat Milk, Kefir, and Nursing

At 10 weeks Sawyer developed a milk allergy. She was allergic to the lactose in any dairy product I ate, even if it was the last ingredient in a baked product. It showed itself through her having really bloody stools after nursing. I know gross and TMI. Well it happens and it was very scary. After two visits to the doctor and a trip to the ER (all in one day) we still did not have a definite answer as to what was causing it. So, I called the lactation consultant the next day because I had to pump and give her special formula for several days while we tried to rule out the causes. She immediately knew the problem and explained it to me much better than any doctor could. Without going into to much detail, her body could not digest the lactose and it irritated her intestines to a point that it would cause blisters and when she did number two they would pop and thus the bloody poop. Sorry folks, just letting you know incase other mothers out there are having these issues. 

 What does this have to do with goats? Most babies can outgrow this around 4 to 6 months of age. In the meantime I had to find a way to get my probiotics other than taking it in a pill form.  Goat milk is more easily digested and contains less lactose than cow milk. So I found local goat milk and used my kefir grains to make kefir.

What is Kefir?

 Kefir grain is a symbiotic union of yeast and bacteria to create a culture. When these grains (they are more like curds) are added to milk they ferment and make Kefir. See my step by step instructions below. I mix my kefir with Naked brand juice because I would never drink it straight up.

 Sawyer is 5 months old and I am still able to nurse. I still supplement with Alimentum formula. I have eliminated dairy from my diet and added coconut milk, almond milk, and goat milk kefir, and homemade goat milk cheeses. I am slowly adding hard cheeses to see if she has a reaction. I live on dairy products and get most of my protein from dairy. It was difficult at first. Believe me, I was ready to throw in the towel many times, but she needed that comfort only nursing could have on a newborn. Plus, I still needed that bonding time with her. There are so many options these days. So if you are a mother to a child with a dairy allergy you do not have to give up, it does get easier. As my lactation consultant said “As long as she is getting one nursing session a day she is acquiring the immunities she needs from your breast milk.”

 Making Kefir Using Cow Milk or Goat Milk

 Start with a kefir grain. My mom split hers and shared it with me. They do grow in size so you may be able to find someone local who sells them or you can make your own using a culture. Try looking here.

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Add fresh raw cow milk or goat milk. You can use pasteurized milk but raw milk produces a much nicer grain. Only add 3 to five times the amount of milk as the size of your grain

Cover the jar with a coffer filter and a rubber band.

Let it sit on your counter for 18 to 24 hours. Sometimes I do let mine go longer. You will start to see the milk separate into curds and whey.

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Skim the grain off the top and place in a clean jar. What is left in the other jar is your kefir. I transfer it to a large container so I can keep adding to it. Cover it and place it in the refrigerator. Drink a small amount at first and work your way up to more once your body adjusts. This is an amazing probiotic. In my findings, it is much better than a tablet or even yogurt.

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Start the process over with your grain. Once it starts to grow larger you can split it and share with a friend or simply make more kefir.

If you forget about it for a week. Simply rinse off the grain in water and start the process again. It may take two days to get it started again.

When I have a lot of kefir I place fresh milk on the grain and put it in the refrigerator until I need to make more. It may take two days to get it working again.

Add your kefir to smoothies or mix it with a thick juice like the Naked brand juice.   

 

 

The Corn Roast

Every year at the end of August we gather at a friend’s house just down the road from us for the annual corn roast. Come early and stay late. An open fire pit with corn roasting in burlap and an abundance of clams, beer and friends make this an event we look forward to all summer. This year I made a bruscetta using this pesto recipe. While making it I sipped on my new favorite drink. A recipe from my sister. A sweet blush wine, peach schnapps, and cranberry juice over ice. Oh the smell of peach schnapps reminds me of my grandmother. She liked her cocktail of schnapps and iced tea.

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Enjoy your last days of summer folks with whoever you are with and wherever you may go. 

This-n-That and a Garden Recipe

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It has been full of life around here. Crazy busy with garden and farm work with a splash of fun. We spent our 4th of July celebrating simply with family, food, and fireworks. We visited the place we keep our piggies and all declared how big they are getting.

In the evenings we all grab a container and head to the berry bushes. We rotate between the blueberries and raspberries. The garden is coming along slowly. Nothing is ready for harvesting yet but I did pick up some fresh produce from a farm down the road. I have been hungry for zucchini bread. Grace and I experimented with a recipe I had and made it gluten free. It was perfect and not to sweet either. 

Gluten Free Zucchini Carrot Bread

3 eggs

1/2 c coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 c. raw sugar

2 c. grated zucchini

1 large carrot grated

2 c. GF oat flour

1/2 c. brown rice flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

Oil bread pan with more coconut oil, preheat oven to 350. Beat eggs, oil, sugar, vanilla, until light and thick. Add dry ingredients and fold in the zucchini and carrot. Bake for one hour and 15 minutes. 

Slice and top with raw honey and fresh blueberries. 

 

Greenhouse therapy

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Knowing the rain was coming, we headed to the greenhouse yesterday for some greenhouse therapy. The smell was unreal and the sun warm on our cheeks. Just what we needed. We even shared an ice cream treat while watching the chickens.

The Path Ahead

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Well it is the new year and New Year’s Day is usually my least favorite day/holiday just because Christmas is over and it is a really long wait till spring.  But this year I embraced the day and looked forward to all the opportunities waiting in 2013. I am filled with hope and excitement every time I think about all that I want to accomplish in this new year.

Number one on my list is to start packing up this house! Many of you know that Brook and I have been looking for a house but the timing was just always a little off. so we both said we would start packing up and when the time is right the Lord with provide a house of our own. So I have already begun the packing process. One box a day.

Number two on the list is to love more. This can mean something different to everyone, but I would like to take the time, that precious time, and listen and care more deeply for others. I always have good intentions of serving a little more but at the end of the day my priorities seem to get the best of me. We are to love God with all our heart, mind, and strength above all else. We are also called to love our neighbor as ourself. Christ placed a high value on his relationships and showed us how to love even the unlovable. In loving us he died for us. That is unconditional love. So in this new year I want to love unselfishly putting lesser attractions aside and to love like Christ.

God has a plan for my life just like he has one for yours. I really need to take time to listen (maybe even learning to listen) this year to what he wants me to be doing instead of making my own. Aren’t his plans always greater than our own anyway?

Have a Blessed New Year!

A Season of Change

Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under Heaven.

This week I have been thinking of the change that is occurring in our house and how we are trying to adapt to and embrace that change. This September brought about a different change that I am transitioning into. I said goodbye to teaching and hello to full time stay at home mommy. As the seasons change, so do the seasons of our lives. Life would be boring if everything stayed the same. Some days are satisfying, but most days I go to bed exhausted and wondering how I can do it better tomorrow. The teacher in me tries to organize the day with plans and lists and it helps but sometimes those days are just too full and we all get short with each other. We will all find our rhythm and our new roles as time goes on.  I have to remember not clutter up the days with tasks and just to enjoy this season of my life.  Even though it is hard work, I am feeling so blessed right now to be able to stay at home and serve God through raising my children. Verse eleven in Ecclesiastes three states that, “He makes everything beautiful in it’s time.” Brook and I both feel like we are in the thick of raising our children and pray we are doing it correctly. This verse re-assures me to keep persevering when things get ugly. During those times Brook likes to remind me to keep things simple, take time for each other and our family, and to find the beauty and joy in each day.

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