Sunday, December 8, 2013

The summer until now

It has been awhile since I posted! So much water under the bridge! Somehow it seems that the older the boys get, the busier I get. What was the summer full of? 

Gardens and food 
We planted a garden that didn't do too well. Got a few strawberries from it and enough from a friend at church to put a few in the freezer. The peas gave enough to have a few fresh meals. The corn was utterly sorry. I bought some from the local farmers' market to be able to put some in the freezer. We got some tomatoes but I never get enough and this year was worse than ever. I never did get beans planted so I bought some from a neighbor. I decided I kind of liked just buying my produce. I'm sure I wouldn't always want to do that but it was rather discouraging to put a lot of work in the garden and not get much. We got some nice potatoes and if we'd have dug them sooner would have gotten more. Some critter decided they were good too. We picked some blueberries from our patch but ate all of them fresh. I was hoping for some for the freezer. The patch is 17 miles from here and it is a bit far to go once a week to pick, plus all the care that it needs. I am debating whether it is worth our time and money. We enjoyed other things from the garden too- lettuce, kale, beets, peppers, cucumbers, melons and onions. So why should I be disappointed? Things didn't produce at the rate I thought they should or become the size they should be.

Of Chickens, Guineas and Deer
We purchased 75 broiler chicks, planning to raise them for ourselves and my sister's family. By the time the story was all told we had 43 to put in the freezer or can. A skunk helped him/herself to a number of them and we think a bird of prey was also getting fed. I am very grateful for the meat now. A neighbor sold us some guinea keats  but they were a nightmare. They escaped the pen I made and are so tiny and fast that they eventually gained their freedom. I decided if that was to be tried again I would need a stouter cage. Christopher contracted Lyme disease this spring and I wanted so much to have guineas around to help with tick control. (Sometime I want to blog about our Lyme journeys.) Niece Sylvia shot a deer and gave us the meat. What a blessing!! Now we have two more deer hanging in the shed that were given to us and are needing to be worked up. Makes me feel rich! My laying hens found a new home through Craigslist so now I'm buying all my eggs again. I get some from a friend who has chickens.

Of Working Boys, Bakery and Cows
Thomas needed Stephen and Austin's help this summer so the three youngest and I did most of the canning alone. Maybe that's why it seemed so busy. We haven't had a summer like that before. The boys helped my parents with two different festivals, too. We also milked two cows this summer. So sometimes if the men weren't home, the younger boys & I would milk. The cows belong to my sister (Verina) & husband (Joe) who had to move and had no place for them. I was delighted to have milk and chores for the boys. Just before Thanksgiving they sold the one cow. They had a potential buyer for the second one but he hasn't made good his word. We went to Gap Mills to help my folks with the bakery work the week of Thanksgiving and didn't want to have chores for someone to have to do while we were gone. It worked out okay then and Joe got the cow on a once-a-day milking schedule. It was nice to have a break like that and still have a bit of milk. Now another cow has freshened. Had a heifer calf. The last two calves born here were heifers. The one born earlier this year hurt herself somehow with the fence -cutting and severely injuring her hind leg. We don't know if she'll be strong enough to carry calves.
The new baby

Thomas, Stephen and Austin's latest project

That's Thomas there
Applesauce, Co-op, Program and Sickness
This past week the younger boys and I made and canned the applesauce. I was so pleased to get that done. Now once the deer is worked up and the Christmas program behind us, maybe I can focus more intently on school. It seems there is always something that makes it hard to keep to the schedule. We homeschoolers have been meeting weekly on Tuesday to share some classes. Verina works with the younger ones, doing some phonics and crafts. I teach writing to the 6th grade - high school students and give art classes to the 4th - 8th graders. Joanna Stoltzfus teaches all the children music and is also the choir director for the whole school/homeschool group. It seems the program is a lot more difficult this year and we must be prepared to give it already this week on Thurs evening. A number of the students including our two youngest, have had the whooping cough. Now some sick bugs are making their rounds so we just pray we'll all be in shape to give the program.

Snow, Fireplace and Birds
We didn't have a church service today because of snow. It started snowing at 8 or 8:30 this morning and the snow began to stack up fast. We got at least 5 inches and then some sleet. I guess the forecasters were not prepared for what might come. This morning they said the total daytime accumulation would be 1-3 inches. By noon they were saying 3-5 inches and by late afternoon 7-11 inches. Predictions are for a wintry mix and then freezing rain overnight. One of my sisters in TX said they have 3 inches of ice. I said I didn't know TX got that cold and she said she didn't either. I am sitting under a colorful afghan a friend gave and listening to the fire crackle and pop in the fireplace. Such a cozy place to be. I can just look out and watch the birds and enjoy the scenery. I really don't enjoy getting out in that stuff. The boys do though. They were sledding and snow boarding. Thomas isn't well today. Not sure if it's something he ate or a bug.
The view from my front window

Ever have a prettier "Christmas tree"?

On the front deck

View from my back window               Photo by Austin

More of School
We are enjoying our studies in school this year. Rome to the Reformation is the title of the study. Making alive to us the times in which Jesus was born and the church began. For science we are studying the human body and later the heavenly bodies. Melvin has always struggled with reading, being dyslexic. This year we have benefited from the school purchasing the Barton System of reading and spelling. I tutor Melvin here at home and am pleased with the progress he's making. There are three in school and two of us homeschoolers that are dyslexic. So the Barton system is a good investment.

Of Being Sixteen
Yes! We now have a sixteen year-old! Wowie wow wow! Stephen turned this magic age the 7th of November. Now we have new things happening as he does things with the youth group. It adds more to life - more to do, more to spend, more places to go, more to experience. For him and for us.
Grandma Judy gave him a camcorder she inherited

Watch out or you'll be in his sights

He does well with photography

These lilies grew here on our place

Behold the beauty

Of a New Mattress and an Old
Some friends gave us a new mattress and box-springs for our bed so the boys have re-purposed the old mattress. I always told them they may not jump on the bed but now their joy is fulfilled in that area.
Austin makes the leap

Matthew's turn

Uncle Arnold gave Austin a camera too so he has been having fun with that. I'm sure he had someone using it for the two photos above and probably took the ones of Stephen. And the roof job. And the calf. "Honor to whom honor..."

And now it is time to cease pecking and go be sociable with my family. God bless your week!

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