Did You Move To A Nicer House?

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I have answered the questions “where did you move to?” or “why did you move?” so many times. Here is our story.

It all started two and a half years ago after a certain election. There were a lot of people worried, I wasn’t, I felt I had a game plan. It kept tugging at my heart and over the next year it seemed everywhere I turned, every book I would read, was pointing the same direction. I had began sharing my heart with Aaron and he wasn’t too hard to sway to my side. Two years ago we became convinced, sell the house, owe less money, live under our means and start a sustainable farm. So the mission began, but on God’s timing, not ours. We began the process of preparing our house for the market. We got it “show ready” put it for sale by owner, showed it one time and nothing. After 6 months we decided to just stay put, if it really is where God was directing us then it would happen at some point. Even though we still kept an eye out for land or a fixer-upper with a little land we just couldn’t find anything that seemed right. About four months after I had taken the sign and flyers up for our house I started getting messages about the listing I had left on our local Varage Sale site. I made three appointments to show the house that week. I wondered why the sudden interest? I got on my real estate map and saw we were literally the only other house for sale inside our city limits at the time. We decided if it was God’s timing it would work out, it did. The third family never came to see the house because we went under contract that same week. Then everyone started asking “where are you moving to?” My only answer was “I don’t know”. It’s pretty much insanity, you know? To have 3 kids, 178,526,924.05 personal belongings, 10 chickens, 4 dogs, 3 cats, 1 guinea pig and not know where you’re going. My thought was “we have a camper if worse comes to worse”.
Aaron had this dream of 10 acres, he was always talking about it. I would laugh, there’s no way. With the outrageous price of land, that won’t happen. We would be happy with 1-3 acres with a little fixer-upper, or to put our camper on, we could make that work. You can be a sustainable farm on less. Plus our main goal was to live under our means. Crunch time was coming, our dear friends were fixing up a rental house, a big one, because they love us they offered to rent it to us, kids, chickens, dogs and all! I will not relive the massive amounts of drama that go along with a move of this proportion. Let’s just say I’m still traumatized.

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We moved to a town 30 minutes away, I was lonely, lost and confused. God did amazing work in us during that time. We got to be part of a missional church plant and meet some awesome people.

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I realized how much I love my quirky hometown and how much I did not want to live in the city. But God is faithful. Just like Aaron had 10 acres on his heart, God put six months on mine. Six months later, two days before Christmas, we closed on 10 acres, in my hometown, with not one but two houses.

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On our way to closing!

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The mobile home we live in on the day we closed.

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How the rental house on our property looked at closing.

One for us to live in and one to rent out, this helps pay our mortgage and allows us to live below our means. Even though it feels like heaven here to me, most of the time I can’t believe it’s mine, I have struggled with my dream not looking like the American Dream. Our last house had an open door policy.

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I was always the first to volunteer my house, we loved hosting and having people over.

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This past weekend we moved two of out poultry houses we had left in our old neighborhood to our new place. One of the houses was on the city easement behind our old house. A friend of a friend was helping us out and asked it we used to live there. I proudly said yes, we worked so hard and loved that place so much I was proud to say it had been mine.

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He asked us if we had moved to a nicer house. Aaron and I looked at each other and laughed, we answered “no, we live in a mobile home now.” It may not look like we upgraded, but to us, we did!

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Just A Day On The Homestead

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My friend Kim gave me four hens, a rooster and a super cute, little white goat named MeMe. You may or may not remember my goat owning dreams.
We picked up the chickens from her last weekend and they quickly made themselves at home, laying eggs and everything. MeMe however was put on hold due to being busy, weather and quite frankly my concern she wouldn’t stay in our little pallet pen.

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Today was the day, despite an afternoon shower, we loaded her up and brought her home. Once she was settled in, I was feeling like a real live farmer. I mean with a goat, 24 chickens and two turkeys it really felt official! On that high, we began walking the property and planning where we would put a new, permanent pasture for her. I began to hear some sounds that didn’t seem right, like some sort of raucous was going on. Aaron and I investigated and found our poor neighbor/renter, with a bum knee, chasing her dog around the yard, hot on the trail of my blessed free ranging chickens. We of course ran over to help her catch the dog, but as the hens all found hiding places the poor rooster became the dog’s target. That handsome fella ran straight for the pond and dove in, dog right behind him. Just last week I pondered over whether or not chickens could swim, after having a dream the yard flooded and they were swimming around. Today I saw, for sure, chickens CAN swim. So imagine the rooster swimming across the pond, the dog swimming hot on his tail feathers. I say ” I’m going in!” Then my dear husband, always the hero says “no you’re not, I am!” He climbs in, grabs the rooster, chunks him to safety on the shore and starts after the dog. Aaron trips on a log and ends up neck deep, phone and wallet still in his pocket (his phone survived!). The dog gets away and runs for it again but not for long because she gets distracted by all of the cute little teenager chicks in a cage. Once distracted she was easy to grab and leash up. After that excitement (good thing all the girls had laid their eggs already) MeMe stayed in her pen a few more hours until she got bored and climbed out. I mean I can’t blame her, I wouldn’t want to go from a nice big backyard to a small little pen with nothing but two turkeys to play with either. She escaped one more time and then we realized she was going to have to go back to Kim’s house until we get her pasture built, I guess we’ll be doing that instead of putting up the pool next weekend. Even though I gained and lost a goat all on one day, I still feel like the real deal, I mean a crazy day like that means you’re a farmer, right?

DIY Vegetable Stock

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First of all it’s Friday, and I love Fridays because it means that we made it through yet another week of homeschooling and we all survived!

My mom taught me how to make my on vegetable stock using the broth in my stockpot from a boiled chicken. You just throw some veggies in there and boil for awhile then blend up in the blender and freeze in ice cube trays for later. I’ve been doing this for over a year now and I love having vegetable stock ready to throw in any recipe. I recently used up my stash so it was time to make up another batch. I had seen Natalie Creates post about making her’s in her crockpot . Since I love crockpots and trying new things I did this.

Step one: Yesterday morning I started a whole chicken in the crockpot with just a little salt, pepper, garlic powder and a couple of bay leaves.

Step two: After cooking about 8 hours I pulled the chicken out and deboned it to serve over some pasta and Alfredo sauce. Then I filled the crockpot up with water all the way, adding to the broth left behind after removing the chicken. I threw in some celery leaves (from the garden), broccoli (also from the garden) , a handful of green beans and corn, onion, garlic, carrots and a bay leaf. I salted it, put the lid back on and cooked overnight.

I walked into the kitchen this morning and got a little worried that I couldn’t smell my coffee. ” Had I forgotten to set the timer, had my timer gotten messed with?” These were the thoughts racing through my head. Then ” why do I smell food? It smells like Luby’s in here. Oh no! Did I leave food out all night?!” Whew, I was very relieved to discover it was just my stock simmering in my crockpot and overpowering the smell of my freshly brewed coffee.

That brings us to step three: I turned the crockpot off and let it cool for a bit while I had my morning devotional, two cups of coffee, checked Facebook and Instagram, let the chickens out and made biscuits and gravy.

Step four: After all of that it seems my stock had cooled off to a manageable temperature. So I put it in the blender and blended it up smooth. This ended up being about two and a half blenders full.

Step five: I filled the three ice cube trays I own with the blended stock

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20140411-090949.jpg Over the next couple of days I’ll empty the frozen cubes into a freezer bag in the freezer and refill the trays from the pitcher until I have all of it frozen.
Once again I will have plenty of ready-to-use stock at my disposable and this makes me happy!

Do any of you make your own stock? If so how do you make your’s?

This Weekend on The Homestead

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For the first time in a few weeks, we had a full day Saturday to get some work done around the “homestead”.
It was a beautiful day here and I stacked this whole pile of logs myself.

20140406-211610.jpg Yes, my arms are sore, but I feel like Super Woman. Then I mowed all of the grass

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while Aaron did some more plowing on the new garden we’re starting this year, tilled a section of our garden from last year, made rows for our fellow homesteader neighbor, Tom, in his garden and finished up the new hen house.

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20140406-212349.jpg I also helped do a little cleaning out of both gardens. Hopefully we’ll get some of our plants we started from seeds, that are patiently waiting in the green house, into the ground next weekend. By evening the new hen house was ready to be moved to the backyard so after some planning and maneuvering we got it back there.

20140407-071318.jpg Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Am I right? Oh and here’s a random picture of this handsome guy just for your viewing pleasure….

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Sunday, it rained, and what a nice day of worship, family and rest it was. I hope all of you were productive this past Spring weekend and found some joy as well.

**All photo credits for this post go to Raegan.

Greed, Envy and Goats

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Here is the thing, I am NOT a patient person. People tell me “I can’t homeschool because I’m not patient like you”….then my kids and I laugh. Why? Because patient, I am not, but this post is not about patience while homeschooling or about homeschooling at all. It’s about this season of my life where God is teaching me to be still, to savor the moment, this place in time. About me learning to be content and about God’s provision. I always want what I want NOW! And my financial state is proof of that. I’ve been through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University twice, and failed. It’s not that I don’t believe in what Dave is selling me, I do, wholeheartedly. It’s just that patience thing, because I want it NOW! Fortunately I’m an extremely thrifty person, thanks to my mom, so that makes it easier to get things I want. I even like to justify my greediness with the fact I got such a great deal on it. The past year I have not bought things out of impulse, kept a tight budget that I have only blown a handful of times and I’m starting to see the fruits. God is showing me how beautiful his timing can be, not only when it comes to worldly possessions but in relationships as well. This verse is one that has meant so much to me during this season:

There is far more than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.
2 Corinthians 4:18 (The Message)

Why do I always think that things are limited to my vision, based solely on what I can see. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that appearances mean nothing.

So up until this point all of this learning to be content and trusting God to provide for my needs and all of that has been easy compared to when I decided I wanted a milk goat. I want a milk goat, oh, let’s just say… YESTERDAY! Normally I would do everything in my power to make a desire like this happen. I wouldn’t care what it would cost in the future , or now, or about the bottom line. Hence my current financial situation. Save up for something? Take some time to gather information and research the best ways of getting things or going about it? Or better yet, waiting for God’s provision (if it’s something I actually need)? Pshh! Never. Last night I got this bright idea, after looking at pictures of adorable goats, I know, that doesn’t help. My bright idea? Pray, pray about goats. Ask him if I really need the goats, because only he knows if I will actually enjoy having them or if they will overall benefit our homestead. Not only is he the one who knows, but he’s the one that can provide. God has promised to provide everything I need and if I don’t have it, then I must not need it.

I’ve repented, and then had to repent again of the greed I’m my heart. I need to set an example for my children of waiting on God and finding joy and gratitude in contentment. So while all of you goat people will be posting pictures of your goats I’ll be repenting of envy and patiently waiting for God to make a way for me to have some of my own, if in fact I actually need them.

Our Chicken Story Part 2

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Now that we had all of the “sisters” ( as Raegan called them) settled into their new home, we were anxious to start collecting eggs. Oh I expected they’d be a little traumatized from the move so by my calculations from zero chicken experience I figured about a week. Well that week came….and went, no eggs. We all watched and waited, I whined on Facebook, threatened to grill them, put a golf ball and even a fake egg in the nesting boxes, but still no eggs. I was told they probably wouldn’t lay until spring ( they started their molt soon after we got them) or even ((gasp)) might never lay again. It was a stressful time y’all. But of course right when I had given up and about a month after we had gotten them ( I promise it felt like much longer) we got our first egg!

20140331-082136.jpg It was a really cold day, Aaron came in front outside and called me over. He told me to hold out my hand. I nervously obliged and he placed something very warm in my hand, an egg, just laid, I almost cried, then I took a picture, posted it on all the important social media websites and of course text pictures to family members. It was a glorious moment.
The next day they laid another

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20140331-082657.jpg The “sisters” have been laying almost daily ever since but we like eggs and four hens just can’t keep up, plus I really needed, okay maybe wanted some Plymouth Barred Rock hens. The second week in January we ordered 10 pullets from Ideal Poultry and I had absolutely no idea what to expect, nor was I prepared. The mail lazy knocked on my door with a box full of cheeping chicks. When I opened the box I saw 10 black chicks and 15 yellow chicks.

20140331-083425.jpgWhoa, hold the phone! I ordered 10 chicks, not fifteen, why do I now have 25 chicks cheeping in a box on my table? And better yet, what the heck do I do with them? Well the only sensible way to get your questions answered these days is by Google, so I Googled it and frantically called Aaron at work. After educating myself on day old chick care, and a run to the dollar store for a cardboard box, we were set up, heat lamp and all. After a call by Aaron to Ideal Poultry we found out why we had 15 extra chicks. Apparently when you don’t order enough chicks to fill the box they throw in some extra as “packing peanuts”. So, there we were, the proud owners of 25 chicks. They grew quickly

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20140331-085134.jpg these days they free range in our backyard with the “sisters” during the day

20140331-085301.jpg and I night we scoop them all up and put them in their cage. By the end of this week we should have a new hen house built big enough to hold them all. Very soon 5-6 of the Plymouth Barred Rock will be going to new homes, because I only ever wanted 4, and the yellow chicks, who I believe to be Buff Orpingtons and are supposed to be roosters, will go to their new home in my freezer. At this point I think I can safely say I’ve been successful raising my first chicks, with the exception of one my schnauzer got ahold of and one mysteriously found deceased in the cage.

Our Chicken Story Part 1

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It all started when I was a little girl. I used to scatter cat food out in the yard so my cats would gather around me and I’d pretend they were my chickens. Sounds like the beginnings of a chicken lady if you ask me. A few years ago my neighbors got chickens, then my husband wanted chickens. I said “no!”, I already had three kids, four dogs and four cats among other things to take care of. Then last year I got the bright idea to be more self sufficient, you know growing our own food and being a producer instead of a consumer. Of course the first thing you need is chickens. I checked out every book the library had on chickens. One day my next door neighbor’s daughter came over and said she was moving in with them and mentioned she didn’t know what she was going to do with her chickens. I didn’t hesitate for a second in offering to take them, but there was one problem, we needed a coop! So hubby got to work

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20140329-140217.jpg All of the neighbors thought we were building a deer blind. My husband hated my color choice but everyone else loved it so he lost. I’m always right when it comes to colors, when will he learn? After a couple of weeks it was time for the finishing touches

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20140329-142535.jpgNow it was time to pick up our chickens. I had read the best time to move chickens was after dark so I set out with a dog carrier and a flash light. When I got there they were roosting in their hen house, happy as can be. Their current owner grabbed one and stuck her in the carrier while I closed the gate behind her. Then he wrangled hen number two and into the carrier she went. As he was trying to put number three in the carrier I heard something rustling behind me in the dark, I looked back and when I did I accidentally opened the carrier gate too far and then ALL of the chickens escaped. We went from almost three to zero in half a second. After chasing chickens around in the dark for what seemed like forever we finally corned one, loaded her up and I took her home. Before I left though we came up with a plan for the following night. Come the next morning our apparently traumatized hen wouldn’t come out. my anxious children waited not-so-patiently in their pajamas until around 1pm when she finally ventured out. We celebrated. That night our plan worked and we gathered two more hens. Then, if we weren’t already the most popular kid hang out in the neighborhood, we were now.
There was still one little hen left back at their previous house and my husband and kiddos made several attempts to catch her. The problem was she was onto us coming into her hen house and capturing chickens after dark, so she found herself another place to roost. We just had no idea where that was. Finally one night the whole family went over there, hunted her down, and my husband captured her out of her new roost in a tree. I swear it sounded exactly like she was shrieking “help! help!” With all four chickens settled into their new home there was nothing left to do but wait…..wait on the eggs.