NEWS – Turning a Corner

NEWS!  In this case is stands for North, East, West, South.  Direction!  It’s something I’m struggling with lately in regards to my blog.

I’m in a rut and I feel a bit lost on which direction I should take my blog.  I want it to be in a place that makes me happy, because ultimately I need to be happy with my blog and I’m not there right now.

When I started writing almost 8 years ago, it seemed so simple.

Hubby and I were on a very big adventure.  We were adopting and there was so much to write about. I wanted to share all the pictures of this beautiful baby girl that we were bringing into our lives, our home and our family.  I wanted to share the ups and downs of adoption.  I wanted to document the journey and have something that our daughter could take with her thru life.

From the beginning

 

Adoption #2 was a different experience, yet I still had much to share, but I also had a lot of things happening here at home.  Lili was growing quickly which gave me lots of stories to share along the way.  The blog turned a corner and I was not just documenting our adoption journey, but was documenting our life as a growing family.

Starting again!

 

After bringing Naomi home, we were adjusting to life with one more when tragedy struck and we lost our youngest son.  I was grieving my son while also feeling happiness that I now had two beautiful little girls in my life.  It’s was a STRUGGLE!!!!!  I had to be strong for my girls at a time when I didn’t feel strong.  I had to do everything I could to help them feel safe and secure when I felt my world had just fallen apart.  As a result, the blog turned another corner.

Our life moved forward.  The girls continued to grow.  I took on the challenge of becoming a homeschool mom.  Hubby and I made a decision to significantly change direction in life hoping to leave our life here and settle on a small farm somewhere.  Then life changed direction on us causing us to put farming on habitual hold.  We also opened our home to foster children again, accepting two little boys into our lives.  Then most recently we decided to get back into camping.  No tent camping this time around.  We’ll take our second home on the road as soon as our RV, Georgette (a name I just now decided to throw into the ring of possibilities) arrives.  And once again I feel my blog turning a corner.

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So many things have happened in our lives over the last 8 years.  Big things which gave me lots of material to blog about.   And somehow, even with 4 kids under the age of 8 living under this roof, I feel a little lost.  No big life events happening, just the day-to-day stuff that keeps me busy.

My blog is turning a corner.  I don’t know if I’ll take it to the north, east, west or south, but I need to find a direction that makes the most sense and write about those things that matter to me and my family.

Hopefully, one day I won’t ponder this so much and will instead sit down at the keyboard and have the words that describe this crazy life of ours with lots of pictures to share.  I think that’s what my girls will want to one day look back on.

 

A Moment of “Oh No” Turned Around

I decided to start taking horseback riding lessons.  Last Saturday the girls had a make up lesson so I was able to get back into the saddle after 9 months of not riding.  I had forgotten some of the saddling details, but felt more comfortable in the saddle than I had previously.

Monday was a regular lesson day for the girls and because hubby happened to be home that day, I was able to ride with them again.  Two lessons within 3 days!

When I first started riding I thought all I would need to do was give the horse a little kick , say giddy-up and off we’d go.  Pull the reins right, the horse goes right.  Pull the reins left, the horse goes left.

Those of you who have ridden are probably chuckling about now 🙂

It’s much more of a work-out than a little kick and a pull of the reins.  My legs need to do a lot of work guiding the horse.  My core works hard keeping me balanced and in the saddle.  If I’m not using my core appropriately, I will end up out of the saddle and laying on the ground.  The reins are used, but not nearly as much as I originally thought.

My first day back in the saddle was spent getting used to riding again.  My second day I was able to do a lot of trotting, which I really do enjoy.  Trotting requires more of the legs and core though, so by the end of the lesson I was feeling it.

The next day I was in physical therapy.  I have arthritis in my knees and am trying to do everything I can do to get some improvement in my knees.  My PT session requires more and more leg work and during this week’s session, I could really feel it in my back as well.  I knew I would feel it even more within the next couple of days and yesterday morning I woke up feeling it in my back.

I got up and started my day as usual and while bending over to pull clothes out of the dryer, I felt something pop in my back.  It was then that I said, “Oh no”!  I could barely stand up as pain shot across my lower back.

All day yesterday I was in pain.  Sitting down hurt.  Standing up hurt.  Walking hurt.  Laying down hurt.  There wasn’t anything I could do to alleviate the pain.  All I could do was try to find the most comfortable position and go about my day as best I could.

Sleep was minimal at best last night.  Every turn caused pain and I couldn’t find a position that was totally pain-free.

Unfortunately, I could barely get out of bed this morning.  My back was in so much pain that I was on the verge of tears, wondering how I was going to manage getting thru the day with 4 kids.  FS2 was especially concerning as he requires a lot of lifting and carrying throughout the day.

Now let me brag on my girls for a moment.

Knowing that mommy’s back was not good, Naomi came downstairs before I did this morning.  She turned on lights, let the dogs out and cued up Sesame Street for FS2 to watch.

Lili has helped me change diapers, put FS2 in his high chair and has done the majority of the heavy lifting and even did most of the work making lunch today.

Naomi helped serve lunch and cleared off the table after lunch.

They have really stepped in to help and I’m so proud of my little girls.  They are showing me a level of responsibility I wasn’t sure existed yet.

My back problems have caused me to think about the future in some very different ways.  Hubby’s back problems were a primary reason we put homesteading on the back burner  and yesterday I was a bit sad to realize that my back could be the reason homesteading never happens for us.  How can we run a farm of any size if we are down in the back?

But today is a new day and as the day has gone on I’ve become more and more determined to do what I need to do to get my back in better health.  The girls have reminded me that homesteading is a family affair.  It will take all of us working together and I believe we can somehow get there.  My moment of “Oh no” has turned around.  As I sit here in pain, I feel a level of optimism that things will work out in the end.

Until then, we will make plans, enjoy our RV travels and camping.  It will be an opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors as we work hard to build strength and stamina that will one day be needed on the homestead.

The physical problems we are dealing with now don’t have to be an obstacle that stands in the way of achieving our future goals.  As long as we have the right attitude, we can take the challenges before us, work hard, and turn these difficult moments in great opportunities.

 

 

 

 

RVing and Living the Homestead Dream

While our upcoming RV adventure is exciting, there is still a big part of me that can’t let go of living our homesteading dream.

What if we were to tow a chicken coop with some chickens for fresh eggs every morning?  Of course it’s doubtful chickens would lay eggs in a coop traveling down the Interstate 🙂

Maybe some goats in a towable goat barn for fresh milk every day?  Wonder what other campers would think seeing the crazy goat lady out milking her goats every morning?  LOL!

I’m just not sure how to live the RV and homestead lifestyle without one or the other suffering from neglect.  Then yesterday I came across a very intriguing lifestyle that combines RVing and homesteading in a way I never considered.

Here is the story of Davad Ekip . . . . .

RVs are for those who love and want to see their country. If you’re going to build tiny houses, intentional neighborhoods or communities, or if you want to homestead and just pursue your family dream, an RV is a good way to start the search that leads to the adventure. Here’s my story. I was actually born to a family of five… Making me family member number six. My birth was in a 20′ camper, that’s less than 160 square feet. Does that qualify? Since then, I’ve owned RVs of every sort, from tents, vans and pop-ups to converted busses, and everything in between. Of course I’ve owned a few houses along the way, both small… 1200 sq feet to large, about 4,000 sq feet.

After going full time in my RV a couple of years ago, I was invited to do a television show by one of the greatest TV production companies in the industry. Now, I’m a year into the shoot as we continue to shoot episodes around vintage RVs.

We will soon begin a thirty thousand mile trip as a nomadic city, with thirty or more vintage motorhomes. This city will include a council, school, stores, restaurant, a mobile greenhouse garden, work and repair shops, and of course the families to populate and run the town, all living in RVs. This will be a well produced and really cool show about lifestyle on the highways, which will air on a major network later this year.

This group of nomads, will be acquiring land all across the U.S. of A. Why you ask? To first build log homes, between 400-800 sq feet in size. Next we will begin to build more modern homes of the same size, but with the latest greatest materials and technology available. Close to these tiny house neighborhoods, we will construct tiny towns, to seed a different mindset of community and health, through organic gardening, local food production and mom and pop businesses. Now, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We will be followed by this TV crew, and produce episodes of our endeavors, while we stream live over the Internet, to allow a day to day following to develop. Some of the interest the show includes, are, various artist, builders, musicians and a band of philanthropist and do-gooders (cause the world can always use more do-golfers) to help spread the joy. As this band of GypSetter Nomads travel the USA building and promoting a more wholesome and endearing lifestyle, they will conceal an undisclosed (for TV purposes) agenda.

Connect with us while we’re still shooting the restoration phase and learn more. See how you can help change the future for the better, while having a blast and living the ultimate lifestyle.

Check out our current FB page “GypsyMoCo“. Who knows, you may even want to grab a vintage RV and tag along. Let’s go build cool stuff together and change the future.

http://www.gypsymoco.com/

 

I absolutely love this idea!!!!!!!  It’s a modern day version of our ancestors traveling across the country, building homes and creating small self-sufficient towns along the way.

Our plans don’t always work out the way we have envisioned them.  Maybe, just maybe, our RV adventure will lead us to the homestead lifestyle we want.  The two lifestyles combining into one great big wonderful adventure!

Polar Opposites

Some people seem to have very little difficulty making decision, even big ones.

Hubby and I use to be those people, but it seems that those days are over.  The decisions we make now, especially the big ones, take a lot of thought and consideration.  If something in our life changes, we have to re-address our decision and make sure it’s the right choice for us.

Recently, something has happened that has caused us to once again re-evaluate our homesteading decision  Not because we don’t want to homestead.  Not because we think homesteading is a bad idea – to the contrary.  We’ve had to re-address due to health issues and in re-addressing the homestead, we’ve begun to re-address another topic that we put to sleep some time ago.  The thing is, these two topics seem to be the polar opposite of each other, so it may not make sense, but let me explain.

A few years ago, hubby began experiencing low back pain.  Not just the back pain one might get from a hard day of work, but severe back pain.  The kind of pain that made it extremely painful to sit and impossible to stand.  The kind of pain that landed him in the hospital for 2-3 days on strong pain killers.  Eventually a physical therapist came in to work with him on stretching and strengthening his back, then he was sent home.

Unfortunately, his back put him in the hospital 1 or 2 more times after that and a couple of times he has been bedridden at home to try to avoid another trip to the hospital.

As we have made plans for our homestead, hubby’s back problems have been kept in the front of our minds.  In an effort to improve his back, he has been making changes.  Then a couple of weeks ago hubby was doing some work around the house and since that time he has been suffering more back pain.  By last Friday the pain was getting pretty severe.  He was using a cane to get around and trying to rest it as much as possible.  Saturday was worse so I cancelled my plans for that evening as he was unable to lift FS2.

Hubby’s back problems could not be ignored and I suggested that we rethink our homesteading plans.  There is a lot of work that needs to be done daily on a homestead and if his back was unable to handle the work required around our house, we certainly couldn’t pretend it would be fine doing all the physical labor farm work requires.

And it’s not just hubby.  I’ve been going to physical therapy for months because of my knees (arthritis) and hand (tendonitis).  My problems aren’t as limiting, but there is no way to predict the future.

Where is that crystal ball when you need it?

Without the crystal ball, we needed to re-evaluate.

Does it make sense to pack up and move to a home in the country or does it make more sense to stay put?  We have our garden here, but we can’t have animals.  At this point,  other than chickens, we aren’t sure what animals may be in our future now.  We have to determine if the time and expense of buying a home, selling a home, and moving will be more beneficial than staying where we are, especially if the only animals we will be raising are chickens.

As hubby and I discussed our options, we began discussing another option for our family.  It was an option we had put to rest some time ago, because it just wasn’t in line with the homesteading lifestyle we were planning.  For a matter-of-fact, in many ways it is the polar opposite of homesteading.  However, it’s something we had considered long before we decided to homestead.  It was something we considered before we adopted the girls.  It was something we considered again after the girls came home.  It was something we considered after I began homeschooling the girls.  When we set our sights on homesteading, we let the other option die.

In our decision to homestead, we knew we would be giving up or at least greatly reducing the amount of time we would travel.  We enjoy traveling, especially me!  I love seeing new places!  I love going to visit friends and family!  I love the educational opportunities that travel provides!  I enjoy meeting new people and seeing how differently, yet how much alike we all are!

Unless you have someone who can care for the homestead while you’re gone, travel time is limited or obsolete.  Even if you have someone who can care for the homestead while you’re gone, travel time is still limited.  We discussed the fact that our days of travel may end with the homestead lifestyle we wanted to live and it was a sacrifice we were willing to make.  But with the homestead plans now in jeopardy, we began to again discuss the option of travel in our future.  Specifically, RV travel.

Homesteading + RVing = Polar Opposites!

Okay maybe not polar opposites.  After all, homesteading would allow us to spend a lot of time in the great outdoors and RVing certainly allows us to spend a lot of time in the great outdoors.  RVing just gives us an opportunity to spent that time enjoying nature in places other than our own back yard.

Both would provide us plenty of learning opportunities.

Homesteading would allow us to raise our own food.  RVing would allow us to spend time at lakes catching fish for dinner.  Not a great comparison there 🙂

The fact is, I’ve always looked at these two things very differently.  Homesteading being the right way to live and RVing being the wrong way to live.  But after a lot of discussion with hubby over the weekend, I came to the realization that life if meant to be lived.  For a matter-of-fact I said to hubby, “Life is meant to be lived”.  One isn’t better or worse than the other.  They are just different ways of living and enjoying life.  If hubby’s back won’t allow us to live the homestead lifestyle as we planned, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy our life another way.  We can still garden here and raise a lot of our own food.  Sadly, we can’t raise meat 😦 but the food we raise can go on the road with us and we can fish lakes and hit farmer’s markets along the way for meat and eggs.

As we considered RVing after I started homeschooling the girls, one thing that truly excited me was all the educational opportunities we could create on the road.  Loading up the RV and heading to places we had just studied in books.

Learning about Mt. Rushmore and then going to see it.

Studying the Civil War while traveling in the RV then stopping at Fort Sumter National Monument

Manassas National Battlefield Park

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or many other sites to help then better understand the Civil War.

We could study the history of the U.S. while traveling up and down the east coast visiting many historical sites.

Studying a specific state and then going to visit that state.

Learning Native American history then finding ourselves at the Aztec Ruins in New Mexico

or Mesa Verde National Park

Doing a science lesson on the ocean and then camping on the beach to discover all we can about the ocean, sea life, and sand.

Along the way they would learn history, geography and science.  They would exercise their math skills as we talk about how many miles or how much time it takes to get from place to place.  They would improve their reading skills thru their studies in the RV and at each site we visit along the way.  The opportunities to learn in this environment are immense!

While homesteading and RVing may seem to be polar opposites, there are good things to be found in both.  I’m sad to think that our homesteading dream may be coming to an end.  I’m excited to once again explore the possibilities of RV travel.  Until then, we’ll see where life takes us and if we’re lucky, we may just be able to experience both of these dreams one day.

 

 

Every New Beginning

I have a home to take care of.  A home that includes 4 kids, 1 husband and 3 dogs.  I homeschool, which means part of the day is spent on school work and planning homeschool related activities.  I also spend time searching real estate listings for a home in the country.  Something that is the right size and the right price.  It feels like trying to find a needle in a haystack around here.  I also have some family stuff, outside my immediate family, that needs some of my attention.  And the list seems to go on and on.

Suddenly I realize I haven’t planned out my garden for this spring.  Maybe, subconsciously, I have been hoping that my garden will be on our homestead.

A few weeks ago we looked at a 4 bedroom, 2 bath home on 10 acres.  There is a small barn on the property and there were a lot of things we liked about the property.  Except for one thing.

THE CREEK!!!

Not that having a creek on your property is a bad thing, but this creek splits the property and the creek apparently floods.  Over 1/2 the property sits in a flood zone.  Not the house or the barn, but the rest of the property does.  The land where we would put in the orchard and garden.  The land where the animals would graze.  All this could be under water in heavy rains or a year with a lot of snow melt.

So I looked thru listing again and found a very nice home on 5 acres.  Lots of updates, a very nice horse barn and other out buildings, 4 gardens and fruit trees.  Everything there and ready for us to move into and get started right away.  A good price, but only 2 bedrooms and we need a minimum of 3 bedrooms.  Unless it sells first, we’ll likely go look at the house just to see if there is a way to add another bedroom, but after my conversation with the realtor over the weekend, I’m not hopeful.

And that is all I have found that is within our price range, the preferred location(s), and the acreage we desire.

I can’t keep putting so much time into home searches.  I need to focus and begin planning out our garden here this year.  I need to grow where we’re planted and although we may not be planted in the preferred location, I still need to grow produce for my family.

Tomatoes, peppers, onions, zucchini, but what else should we grow this year?  It is almost time to get seedlings started, so I need to get busy planning.

Maybe, instead of focusing so much on where I want to be, I should turn this into a celebration.  A celebration of one more planting here.  One more time in my garden at the home, that almost 19 years ago was a new beginning for us.

Mom, Can I Have a Baby Chick?

This was the question Naomi asked me recently.

We’ve had discussion about the animals that will one day be on our little farm and hae made it clear that a coop will be built (if there isn’t already one in place) and baby chicks will be the first farmyard animals to grace our homestead.

We have 3 dogs and 1 of them belongs to Lili.

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Naomi doesn’t have her own pet and longs for one she can call her very own.  I don’t know that a chicken is the best choice for a pet, but Naomi has plans.  She wants to pick out her baby chick.  She wants to name it.  She wants to hold it gently, like she did this chick when we visited our friend Cecilia on her farm.

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She wants to take care of it and keep it in her room.  I informed her that the baby chicks will all need to stay together and she has concerns about how she will remember which one is her.  We can figure that out.

One of the things I look forward to on the homestead is the space.  Space for animals.  Maybe some cats for the barn.  I would love a Great Pyrenees or two to guard the farm and animals.  Naomi could have her baby chick, goat, dog, or cat.  She has also expressed her desire to have a Kunekune pig like Cecilia’s.

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With more room to roam, Naomi can decide what animal she wants to call her own – within reason of course.  It’s important to her and I can’t wait to see what animals she ends up choosing.  Although knowing her she’ll want a dog, cat, baby chick, goat, Kunekune and more 🙂

 

Wheat Flour

Because I bake so much from scratch, I use quite a bit of flour.  One day I decided it was time to get a big ol’ bag of flour to reduce the number of times I was running out to buy more.  I ordered a 50 lb bag of organic wheat flour and when it arrived I picked it up and began wondering where I would store all the flour.  As I carried the bag into the kitchen, I suddenly realized it was making noise and that was when I looked more carefully at the bag.  I hadn’t ordered flour.  I had ordered a 50 lb bag of wheat.

Without a mill, what was I going to do with 50 lbs of wheat?

Santa had the answer!

For Christmas, he gave me a Wondermill!!!!!!

With my mill set up and my 50 lb bag of wheat, I was ready to grind some wheat into flour.

The Wondermill, is easy to operate and is very fast.  Within seconds, I had several cups of flour ready and waiting.  So I got out the bread machine, put all the ingredients in, set it up and hit start.

I know it seems strange that I’m breaking out my bread machine to make bread from my freshly ground wheat that I was able to grind using a machine that plugs into a wall.  I never claimed to be an old-fashioned homesteader in the making.  I’m more a 21st century homesteader in the making 🙂

2:20 later, I was ready to pull the dough out of the bread machine.

Now please let me clarify.  My bread machine can mix and bake, but I don’t like the shape of the bread that comes out of the machine.  So I pull out the dough, form it into a loaf and put it in my loaf pan to do the last rise before baking.

My excitement was building as I opened the lid and then the excitement can crashing down.  The dough was more the consistency of a thick batter, which easily poured into the loaf pan.  There was no shaping involved.  Just a thick glob of dough that filled the loaf pan.

Still, I was determined to see if it would rise again, so I covered it and let it sit on the stove.

Unfortunately, it didn’t rise like it should, but I still put it in the oven to bake.

Even in the oven, it didn’t rise.

I took it out of the loaf pan, put it on a rack to cool, covered it with a towel and went to bed.

This morning I sliced off a piece and put it in the toaster.  A little butter and it was quite tasty.

My research tells me that freshly ground wheat absorbs liquids differently from wheat that was ground and allowed to sit on a shelf for a couple of months.  But I’m not going to allow that little detail from attempting to make a loaf of bread, from freshly ground wheat.  More research and more attempts will eventually provide my family a properly risen loaf of tasty bread.