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Spring Has Sprung!

It was a long winter. The weather was mild enough but we had our fair share of sickness, including a trip to the walk-in for Luke and one to the ER for me. We’re both doing well now, praise the Lord! From the middle of January through the whole month of February we didn’t get to church at all. Thankfully, we have made it the last 5 weeks in a row. It’s been such a blessing to get out of the house to worship and fellowship with our church family.

March was very mild in our part of the world. It was so refreshing to get outside to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. I even spent some time working in the garden with a few of the children! We got all the raised beds cleaned out and some cardboard laid down in one bed to try and kill some grass that is coming up. We bought seeds early in the month. It’s been hard holding off on getting them in some soil but I did finally get some planted last night. I planted peppers, tomatoes, some herbs, and some flowers. I’ll be planting lots more as the weeks go by.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Our garden area is fairly new. It took us several years to realize we needed to create raised beds if we were ever going to get much of a harvest. Clay soil that is often saturated all spring made it impossible to get a garden planted in a timely fashion. The garden is a work in progress. We’ll be adding two new beds where the red arrows are pointing. It’s a far cry from gardens we’ve had in the past but I’m thankful for what we do have.

I’m so excited about gardening, permaculture, and expanding our homestead that all my reading has been on these subjects. Five Acres & A Dream The Book by Leigh Tate has been very interesting. Leigh and her husband are on a small acreage in Virginia where they areΒ  creating a self-sufficient homestead. You can read more about Leigh’s adventures here, 5 Acres & A Dream The Blog. I also got a new to me copy of The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery. I bought a copy of this book nearly 20 years ago when I was still living with my parents and unmarried. I had a desire even then to live the homesteading life and be married to a farmer. That copy finally bit the dust so I picked up a used copy. I recently found Carla’s daughter, Esther and her family, on YouTube! They are creating an off-grid, permaculture homestead in Idaho. I’ve been really encouraged and motivated by what they’ve shared. The most recent book I pulled out is Integrated Forest Gardening. Scott and I plan to use permaculture methods on our 6 acres in the southern part of the state. We’ve been researching and reading up on this subject for over a year now. This year we were actually able to start putting our plan into action! I’ll share more about what we’re doing in another post.

Spring is here andΒ  I’m so ready!

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Ready for Spring!

As I sit here with ice-cold fingers I can’t help but think of Spring and all the wonderful things it will bring with it when it finally arrives! I just love that our Father has blessed us with a change of seasons. I can only handle Winter for so long. πŸ˜‰

I’m excited to be more involved with the garden this year. We have most of our seeds already but will be ordering the rest today. Yeah! Ordering seeds always makes the promise of Spring more real. We’re planning to expand our gardens again this year. By the end of the year Esther will be eating solid food, too, so we’ll have 6 mouths to keep fed. I look forward to the challenge of putting up as much of our own food as possible. I’ll have to remember these cold days when I’m sweating over the canner this summer! πŸ˜€ I’ll detail our garden plans in a later post.

Christine requested a current picture of Esther. I promise to get one up ASAP. πŸ™‚ I can hardly believe my baby girl will be 4 months old in just one week. Makes me tear up just thinking about it. I love her so dearly and pray that our Father will give the wisdom I need to raise a daughter for Him. A daughter who will love her Father above all things and seek His will in all areas of her life. A daughter who will be well-equipped to be a loving and faithful wife & a caring and compassionate mother.

I have so much more to share but will save it for another day. πŸ™‚

Blackcap Jam

Canning season has begun here on our hilltop homestead. Scott and the boys have been busy picking blackcaps. So far we’ve got 9 pints of yummy blackcap jam put up for the winter! A taste of summer tucked away for a cold winter day.

I’m getting really excited about being able to harvest summer squash and zucchini, tomatoes and peppers, green beans and cucumbers! Before we know it we’ll have produce and fruit coming out our ears. I can just imagine all the yummy meals and many canning jars we will be able to fill! We’ll be spending most of every day in front of the hot stove. All that hard work will be worth it, though, when we can open up the cupboard door, pull out something tasty, and remember these warm summer days that will all too soon be gone.

Green Beans in the Garden

I found this YouTube video at one of my favorite blogs, Little Jenny Wren. It was a video shared by Jewels (who doesn’t blog publicly any more) with Jenny a few months ago. I love this style of music and would love my life to look like that portrayed in the video and sung about in the song. I guess we’re actually on our way. πŸ˜‰

And here’s a very encouraging article Jenny wrote last week, Truth, beauty and goodness.

Thinking Ahead

I can hardly believe it is already the first of July! Where did June go? Before we know it we’ll be bombarded with abundant produce from the garden. And I can hardly wait. So I’ve been thinking ahead to all the things I’d like to can and freeze this summer and fall. Our goal is to preserve enough food to get us through the coming winter. Here’s a list of things I hope to “put by” in the next few months.

To freeze:
Peas
Broccoli
Zucchini
Strawberries
Blueberries

To Can:
Green Beans
Dilly Beans
3 Bean Salad
Tomato Sauce
Stewed Tomatoes
Spaghetti Sauce
Salsa
BBQ Sauce
Tomato Soup
Ketchup
Peppers (My Grandma’s recipe)
Strawberry Jam
Blackcap Jam
Blueberry Jam
Spiced Peach Jam
Summer Squash Pickles
Bread & Butter Pickles
Dill Pickles
Pickled Beets
Zucchini Relish
Applesauce
Apple Pie Filling
Vegetable Soup

I’m sure I’ll come up with more ideas as the summer progresses but this is a good start! So what are you planning to preserve from your garden this summer?

1, 2, 3, 4 and more!

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I posted! I really need to make a little better effort at posting here at least semi-consistently. So since it’s been so long I’ll try to give an abbreviated update.

On April 28th I had my first midwife appointment. I was 12 weeks 5 days along. All went very well! My weight was down by a few pounds. I was negative for glucose and protein. My blood pressure was a little high but I believe that is because we had a student sitting in on the appointment. (I’ve never had to “deal with” that before.) We only had to have one vial of blood drawn. And best of all, the midwife found the baby’s heartbeat as soon as she placed the doppler on my stomach!!! The baby’s heartrate was strong and in the 150’s. What a beautiful sound that is!!! So I’m currently in my second trimester and recently completed my third month! It’s hard to believe I’ll be halfway through my pregnancy (four and a half months) in just over 3 weeks! Our next appointment is on June 10th, our 8th anniversary!

Over the last few weeks we’ve been busy getting our gardens ready for planting. Scott has gotten lots of seeds and quite a few transplants planted. So far we have several kinds of lettuce, peas (both sugar snap and snow), rainbow swiss chard, spinach, several kinds of beets, green beans, onions, cabbage, broccoli, and potatoes in the ground. We’ve also been able to harvest some chives, lemon balm, oregano, thyme, and sage from the herb garden! We still have a lot more to get in but we’re making progress! We’re hoping and praying that we will be able to put up enough food for the whole winter. I don’t even want to think about the hot, sticky hours of work filling jars for the canner! πŸ˜‰ But it will be well worth all the hard work!

John, Noah, and Isaiah are growing like weeds! I can hardly believe my oldest “baby” will turns 6 years old in just over a month! Where does the time go? In preparation for the new baby’s arrival I plan to start first grade with John at the beginning of August. We’ll continue with school until I get to the baby’s EDD and then we’ll take a couple weeks off. We’re continuing with the free Charlotte Mason-inspired program Ambleside Online. I’m still in the process of collecting some of the books but John and I are both getting really excited to start! The only thing I dread is having to report to the school district throughout the year. Oh well, what can I do/say?

I’m not sure how many of you know I taught myself to knit last August but you can expect a picture-filled blog post soon detailing all my creations. (Mostly dish/washcloths.)

I’m sure there is more I could share but it’s all escaping me for now.

Broccoli!!!

Our family LOVES broccoli so we planted over 30 plants this spring! We’ve already eaten quite a bit and have put up over 15 quarts of it in the freezer! Even after cutting the main head a broccoli plant continues to make what we call “side shoots.” So every few days we harvest the broccoli, blanch it and stick it in the freezer for this coming winter. Below are a few pictures of the boys with our first broccoli harvest. πŸ™‚

I’m working on putting my list of preserved/frozen foods in my sidebar. I’m just not sure how to change the font size. Besides the broccoli we’ve also frozen snow peas and made violet jelly and strawberry jam! It’s that time of year!!!