Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Little Things

It's been a while since I have posted. I have had a lot going on and have found it difficult to focus on this enough to write something worth reading. I am trying not to get discouraged by what has and has not progressed as far as the property. But we have had a few worth while successes. 

We have been collecting between 7 and 9 eggs a day, and we are hoping that the rest of the girls start laying daily soon. The other day Naaman was running around in the Ranger and a chicken dive bombed in front of him. So we had some fresh meat that night, and we are down to 11 chickens. We have not decided if we are going to buy another girl so we will get a solid dozen eggs a day, or if we will get a rooster so we can start raising chicks. Or if we will just keep the 11 girls for now. 
Tonight we also plan on building a chicken run so they can have room to explore and get bugs without getting into our garden or anywhere else. Our neighbors, a couple hundred feet away, have called to let me know my chickens were in their yard. So I want to keep our free range chickens slightly more confined. 

Last night we finally planted our garden. We decided to buy small plants, instead of growing from seeds. So we got different types of tomatoes, peppers, squash, and herbs. Plus a few mystery plants that survived from when we tried growing from seeds a few months ago. It might be too late in the year for planting some of these, but that is okay! I need to remind myself that since we are at the beginning of this journey, this year is mainly about learning. I need to be thankful for what works, and learn from what doesn't. 
I also bought some celery and as I was cutting it up, I decided to try to grow some. So I put the bottom section in a glass with some water and we are very impressed with how fast it is growing. It's the little things like that that encourages us. 

God has been trying to speak to me, but my stubbornness and busy life with my "plans" have been keeping my mind too loud to hear Him. I need to start taking time every single day to put everything else aside and just pray. No cell phone, no chores, and no children. As selfish as that sounds, I need to remember that I can't be the mother that they need if I don't take time to have a relationship with God. He can show me how to live if I just listen. 

"He says, 'Be still and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.'"
Psalm 46:10

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Keep on working

This weekend we are planning on tilling and planting our garden. We have it staked out and the grass is dead, so everything is ready for the next step! After we till it we are going to plant the small plants we started in pots a few weeks ago, and plant some seeds. As I was watering last night I noticed that some of our squash plants were starting to flower! That made me super excited! Then today I watched a chicken peck a flower off and eat it. So now I know that we are going to have to fence in our garden to keep the girls out. 

As I have said before, God is providing us with everything that we need. Last week He led us to the job that He wanted Naaman to take. It's a job that he enjoys doing and he is very good at. The hours aren't ridiculous and the people are pleasant. We are excited to see what He has in store for us with this company. 

I have been playing with some recipes for gluten free scones. I have found a great base recipe that I have successfully altered for various flavors. It's been very encouraging to have the recipes turn out as well as they have. I want to continue trying other recipes such as cookies and cakes, and substituting the flour for Bob's Red Mill 1-1. It's been a great product for me so far with delicious results. I have yet to find a good yeast bread recipe, but I am not giving up! If any of you have a great gluten free yeast bread recipe that has worked for you, I would love to hear about it!

"But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded."
2 Chronicles 15:7

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

God Provides

My husband got back from his shooting competition on Sunday and we have been pretty busy getting things done on the farm. Today we staked out our garden and sprayed it down with Round-up to kill all the grass and weeds. Since it is our first garden we are keeping it fairly small as to not overwhelm ourselves. In a couple weeks it will be ready to till and plant. I don't know if it's too late in the year to start this, but we are doing it now and hopefully we will learn a lot. 

I am excited to actually be getting the ball rolling on some of these projects. We have a lot of big ideas and plans but always think we don't have enough to start them, let alone complete them. Not enough time, not enough money, not enough resources. Then God sent me a little reminder. "You lack nothing. Use what I gave you." It was a quote that someone had posted on Instagram that opened my eyes. If God wants you to do something, He will give you everything you need to follow through. We feel like this farm is something that He wants us to do, for one reason or another. And we keep saying that we need more to do it. When in reality, we don't. We need to focus on what we DO have, rather than what we don't have. Yes, we don't have a job. Which means we don't have a steady income. But you know what we do have? Unlimited time and a whole shed full of materials for various projects. I believe I mentioned that we were able to score some free lumber a few weeks ago. There are a few projects that we can make and it won't cost us a dime. A local Ranch recently got a whole new garden set up, so they gave my neighbors all of their material they used before. So we have access to way more stacking pots and clay pellets than we could ever use. God is literally handing us what we need to get started. We are so blessed.

Naaman came home from town today with a fig tree. We have been talking about starting an orchard, but are still undecided as to where we want it or how big. And since this is the first tree we decided to just put it next to the house. When it starts producing figs I am going to have to figure out different ways to cook with them. What do ya'll like to do with fresh figs?

"And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:19

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Here's your sign!

Our lesson in farming this week came from the chickens. As I mentioned earlier, we got 8 new chickens on top of the 4 we already had. If you are a veteran chicken owner you know not to just throw all of them into the came coop. I did not know. So the next morning I found 4 chickens walking around like they owned the place, and 8 younger chickens hiding behind the hen box. I quickly realized I needed to separate them. Luckily my grandparents live next door and just happened to have an empty coop. Looks like we will be building another one for our chickens in the near future. 

My father and I went to a farmers market this morning and it was so much fun. To begin with, it was a beautiful day. It quickly got very hot, but that's Texas for ya. There were so many fun sights, sounds, smells, and food. I had never been to a farmers market before, so as I was shopping around I was soaking it all in and learning. How much of this can I make or grow at home? How much profit can I make? Is it worth putting that much time into? Out of everything I am seeing, what inspires me?

One of the first booths I walked into was the highlight of my day. They were selling sweet breads, jams, relish and such. They offered me a sample and when I told them I was gluten free they gave me the option of three different gluten free breads to try. The banana chocolate chip was amazing! I told them my story of being a pastry chef with Celiac Disease and wanting to create lots of delicious gluten free baked goods. In response to that, they offered me a job! Now, their actual location is an hour and a half from where I live, but I want to contact them and see how we can work together. I am very excited about this new development.

Have you ever had a "Here's your sign!" moment? I have had four, all about the same thing! As I said earlier, I want to be a gluten free baker. That may not sound that difficult, but baking without wheat flour is very tricky. The textures are very different, there are other ingredients you have to add, and sometimes the taste just does not work at all. There are a lot of misses before you hit on a good recipe. And I don't just want good recipes, I want great recipes. That kind of pressure I put on myself is intimidating. I am so lucky to have those around me to encourage me. My neighbor and long time friend, Traci, is one of my top supporters. She is always telling me how she sees something and thinks of me and how I should be selling my gluten free baked goods. Today, it was a little cafe downtown. They sell sandwiches and fresh produce. When they told her they were out of cookies, she immediately decided I needed to work with them. 

God keeps putting these things in front of me to remind me what I need to be doing. He wants me to bake, and bake wonderfully. To allow those who cannot or will not eat gluten to enjoy the same type of food as they could before. Every time I get discouraged or wonder if I should be perusing something else, He gives me another "Here's your sign!" moment so I don't give up. It's so wonderful.

God has put many people in my life to uplift me and I am so thankful. Without that constant positive reinforcement, I would not be able to get passed my insecurities and become all that God has planned for me. I am so glad they haven't given up on me, and I am glad God hasn't, either. I pray one day I will believe in myself as much as my loved ones believe in me. 

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men."
Colossians 3:23

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Chickens and Scones

I brought homemade scones to the Young Mother's Breakfast Club at church this morning. I was very excited about how they turned out. I used a recipe that I had found on Pinterest and just substituted Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 for the flour. It's very encouraging to try a new recipe and have it actually be a success! Too often I avoid trying new recipes because I am afraid of failure. I think God is telling me to not give up, that this is what I am supposed to be doing. 
Cranberry Orange Scone

As I have said before, Naaman and I are looking for ways that we can make money from our little 6 acres. But we have limited resources to start with. So we start with the obvious choice: chickens. I think most people start there because they are easy to take care of, will eat most of your table scraps, and provide you with fresh eggs daily. Not to mention the fresh meat. We have bought three sets of chickens since living here, today's purchase included. The first was about a year and a half ago and we got chicks. I enjoy starting with chicks because they are significantly cheaper, don't require near as much space or food, and they are just so cute! The downside is that you have to wait quite a bit longer for eggs, and at that age you can't really tell it's gender. We lucked out and got 7 hens and 1 rooster. Eventually the rooster became very territorial and would attack anyone, human or animal, that came nearby. We decided to kill him before he went after our son. He was a little tough, but made a delicious chicken pot pie. After many various animal attacks, we ended up with just one chicken left.

So the next batch of chickens we got were quite a bit older, almost to the age where they start laying eggs. More animal attacks, and we were left with one from the original group and three from the second. Just recently we decided it was time again. So we put in our name at the local feed store for older chickens, and we got the call today that they had come in! So I loaded up the kids and picked them up today! Now we have 12 chickens, so I need to start figuring out what to do with all of those eggs. 

My father and I are going to a local farmers market this weekend and I am very excited! I've never been to one and, since farm and food is what I am about, I'm hoping to get lots of inspiration and ideas about what I could produce from my farm. Obviously that is a good way to use up my eggs, but I want to do more. When our cow has her next calf, I'm hoping that we can start milking her and using that for making all sorts of homemade dairy items. We also want to milk goats and figure out how we can use that, as well. Do any of you use fresh cow or goat milk? What do you make with it?

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me an I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
John 15:5

Friday, March 2, 2018

Feel good moments

I've had a couple "feel good" moments today, and it's not even 3pm yet. First, when I walked outside I saw the beauty of the sun coming through the trees and the shadows stretching across the lawn. While I am not a morning person by any means, something that needs to change if I am going to be milking cows in my future, but I absolutely love the feelings of early mornings outside. I really wish I had the discipline to just get out of bed and sit outside with a cup of coffee and some undisturbed time with Jesus. But there is something about the smell of the dew on the grass, the feeling of the night chill still hanging in the air, and the sight of the sun just coming up over the horizon that puts me in my happy place. Man, we are so blessed to live out here. 

How many of you have a small stack of wax burners that people gave you for Christmas but you have run out of rooms to plug them in? That seems to be the go-to gift these days. And of course every one that you get come with different scents, so you probably have about 4 dozen scents to choose from. Now I usually like the warm scents like apple, pumpkin and cinnamon. Things that overall smell like fall. This year when I got a wax burner I went through and smelled each one because that's what everyone does, right? And I was struck by something long scents forgotten. (I love puns) Honeysuckle Nectar. I finally cleaned out my wax burner today and melted something that smells like spring. Suddenly my mind was filled with memories and feelings from when I was a child. It made me think of my elementary school. It was a Lutheran school on the top of a hill, and the clearing between the church and the road was always covered with flowers that we used to play in. It reminded me of the feeling of my great-grand mothers house in Missouri. With homemade quilts on the couch and crochet dolls. I could almost feel the grass under my feet, as if it were a warm July evening and the lightning bugs were just coming out. It makes me happy that I have memories like that. I hope that when my children grow up and they hear an old John Denver song or smell fresh banana bread they will smile and think of home. 

What things make you think of happy times from your past? Is there a song that is special because a loved one always played it on the piano? Is there something your mother or grandmother used to cook that would infuse the house with a smell that you can't recreate? And what memories will your children look back at and smile?

"Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth by glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it;
let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them.
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy."
Psalm 96:11-12

Thursday, March 1, 2018


The weather lately has been all over the place. Some days it's cold, some days it's rainy, some days it's just cloudy and windy. But today I walked outside and knew it was going to be a wonderful day. The sun is out, there is a light cool breeze, and everything is starting to look green again. {Fast forward a couple hours to this afternoon when a cold front rolled in and now I need a jacket and its windy! But at least this morning was nice!}

I've been cranky lately because I can't remember the last time I slept through the night. Liam, my sweet little Liam, is such a happy baby. But he's still getting up about 3 times a night, and it's starting to take a toll on me. Last night, with Naaman out of town, I did something a little different with the boys. We had a really fun picnic in the living room, the boys took a bath together, then I put on an episode of Super Why so I could get some dishes done. Liam ate half of a jar of baby food and over 5 oz of milk, and he had a great time splashing in the tub with his brother. Because of that, He only woke up once last night, and I got a solid 5 hours of sleep! Plus another couple hours after that. I woke up feeling so refreshed, which probably made the morning that much more beautiful. 

There hasn't been a whole lot going on with the farm this week. Mainly research to figure out what we should do next. I'm thinking animals, since I have a hard time keeping plants alive. But we did manage to get lots of free wood. After taking apart 3 very large wooden boxes, we ended up with about $1,000 worth of lumber. I am very excited to see what kind of projects we can create with that. I love it when God provides us with what we need!

A friend of mine made some delicious gluten free muffins the other day, and she said that she just used a regular recipe and substituted the flour for Bob's Red Mill 1-1 gluten free flour. Since I am a huge Bob's Red Mill fan, I am going to start making pastries like that. My goal is to make gluten free food that non GF people will enjoy as well. That's a tall order, I know. But I know it can be done. Anyway, I have just been looking for good gluten free recipes, but if I have a normal recipe that I know is good and substitute the flour that should work, right?? I'm going to try! I'll keep ya'll updated!

"The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where is comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
John 3:8