Living the Dream

Homestead: garden, Journal, Update

Just as the seasons quickly changed from ‘the winter that didn’t want to end’ to, ‘bam! Everything is in bloom,’ our little homestead has quickly developed into a never ending list of things to do! It can be tiresome and a bit daunting at times, but for the most part we are loving it!

In the past few months we have added a farm kitty and 25 chicks to our list of animals. We originally had 28 chicks but lost two to untimely deaths (one may have been hugged a little too tightly by an animal loving toddler 😬) and one either just disappeared or we miscounted. I’m really hoping it was the latter and we don’t find a chick skeleton in our garage some day.

Our ducks are all doing great! We’ve added two more to our flock since we started out. Jay says their like a bunch of nervous old women. They scatter and run every time someone comes anywhere close to their fence and then regroup to quack and gossip about it 🀣 The other day I heard them going nuts and I thought there may have been a predator in the fence because they’re usually pretty quiet. Turns out one of the chicks got out of the coop and the ducks were either terrified or tattling… maybe both. The whole flock is pretty fun to watch. And the kids are loving it!

So far we believe we have 3 males and 3 females in our little duck gang. We’ll hold on to all the ducks but process the drakes in the next month or so… and by we I mean Jay. I refuse to be the butcher.

Oh, and as I mentioned we also got a cat. I never thought I was a cat person (dogs are just way cuter!) but this little guy is so fun and snuggly! He’s doing really well outside too, such a stress free pet 😊

Along with taking care of the animals we have been busy getting the gardens ready and planting. If all goes well we should have; green beans, black beans, tomatoes, basil, chives, carrots, red onions, strawberries, corn, spaghetti squash, melons, zucchini, asparagus, garlic, edamame, peas,and rhubarb. We also planted a few blueberry bushes, raspberries, goji berries and two plumb trees that we hope will do well in the years to come! Oh and grapes!

Add the general maintenance of the house and attempting to keep the yard from going crazy despite a broken mower *And keeping the kids alive* we are pretty worn out by the end of the day! But it feels so good to be tired from hard work rather than from being lazy. Although I do take advantage of some down time when I can πŸ˜‰

Notice there still isn’t any trim up ^^?Things are never really “done” and I’m still looking to add more things to our plate (crazy i know.) But we have have been dreaming about all of this for a while, and we couldn’t be more excited.

Until next time,

Abbey

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To Homeschool or not to homeschool.

Homeschooling, Journal, Random Thoughts

If you follow me over on Instagram you may have noticed a post or two where I briefly talked about trying out homeschooling curriculums or table time activities. Since then I’ve had a number of people ask me if I’m planning on homeschooling our kiddos. The short answer? I have no idea!

For a few months now I’ve been feeling a tug on my heart that something needs to change within my parenting and our home. I’ve been fighting it, to be completely honest, but I’ve seen the growth and positive affects a little structure and purpose in our days seems to have on my kiddos and myself.

As of right now Des is registered to go to preschool next fall and I haven’t fully decided what the rest of their education will look like. But, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and blog surfing, not to mention praying. I LOVE the mentality behind So many of the homeschooling families and great philosophers that I have been following. My favorite author and educator by far is Charlotte Mason.

She has so much insight on how children learn and what is best for them. She may have written her books back in 1889, but she is still very relevant today. The idea of building up a foundation for our kids to be self learners and instilling in them a love for learning just makes me giddy with excitement! That and the fact that she focuses so much on reading and learning from living books as opposed to text books and tests!

So even though i haven’t decided which way we may go, and honestly we may end up deciding year by year, I have decided to work through a preschool curriculum with the kids and have a family rhythm that promotes learning, free play, and nature study. It amazes me the difference i see in my kids behaviors and attitudes when we have a rhythm in the home and activities planned. They Love it! Desmond asks me every couple of hours, “do you have any more activities for me? I want to do an activity.”

So far my favorite curriculum is from the Peaceful Press. It’s easy to follow, has a great book list, really fun arts and crafts and letter practice. I also love that it has activities for motor skills and life skills.

You guys, it is amazing! This is how I would love my kids to grow up, learning all their “school subjects” side by side with daily life and real world application. It just seems to really fit into our family dream of homesteading and getting back to simplicity. It’s been such an odd journey for me this past year. I’m doing things I said i would never in a million years do and am loving it.

Who knows, maybe this is the next thing God is calling me to.

Until next time,

Abbey

Birds of a Feather

Animals, Journal, Update

It’s officially spring! And the Knowles’ family is not immune to the feeling of renewal and excitement that the warm air and sunshine brings! (We’ll just pretend there isn’t a chance of snow on Saturday πŸ™„)

Some of you may have seen that we have started out our flock this past week. We ordered chicks a couple of weeks ago but since they won’t be ready until mid April we (ok, I) couldn’t resist the baby ducks at Farm and Fleet.

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ey were advertised as "Easter Ducks" which most know is not an actual breed or even a real term. I did a little research since I knew I'd have to do a little convincing when it came to my husband who is All about raising animals based on breed and where they come from. Going into the store we still didn't know what they were but we knew they were cheap and worth a try.

After looking at them and doing a little reading and investigating we're fairly certain they are pekin ducks, which are what I really wanted!

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ey're so pretty! And they're great egg layers which is my main reason for getting ducks.

After I convinced Jay that we should get a few the kids and I got a brooder ready for them. We already had a crate made from baby gates that Jay put together a few weeks before when a runaway dog showed up in our lives for a night so that seemed like the perfect fit.

The kids gathered leaves and wood chips from our giant wood chip pile that we got for free from a tree service! We use a lot of wood chips in our gardens and orchard so this is Perfect!

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e dried leaves and chips make perfect (free) bedding which will eventually be thrown out into the compost. We just add a layer of fresh leaves about twice a day, easy Peasy.

We added a brooder light, food, and some immune boosting water to complete the ducklings new home.

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en the fun began! Seriously, ducklings are So easy to care for! We ended up purchasing four so each of the kids and I got to name one (sorry Jay.)

Des named his Chase. Etta, Sky. Brydon, Blippi (πŸ˜‚) and I named mine Gertie.

These little guys are super skittish but they're becoming more and more accustomed to our voices and having us around. They definitely get handled and visited by the kids frequently!

chocolate ice cream and playing with ducklings make for a perfect Friday night! While we’re busy watching these babies grow (and man do they grow fast!) Jay has been working on a chicken coop/tractor. But more about that later 😊

Abbey

End It.

Journal, Random Thoughts

You know I get it, the draw to sin. Especially when that sin only “affects you.” The desire to tell a little lie, take a little bit more than you said you would, indulge in things that are actually harmful to you but feel right in the moment.

But there is one sin I don’t think I will ever understand (ok, there’s more than one but this one is up at the top of the list.) I’ve never actually heard anyone arguing for this particular act but since it’s still an issue in our world there must be someone advocating it?

Even if someone were to make a very well made documentary explaining why it’s “beneficial” or how it’s “really not as awful as it is portrayed” I could never relate or even mildly justify it.

Isn’t it mind boggling that in 2018 there are still people out there that apparently think slavery is ok? How could anyone think it is within their rights to kidnap other human beings and sell them?

I don’t care what color you are, where you’re from, what your gender is, or how high your I.Q. is. We are all our own person and aside from ourselves we only belong to God, no other human. Parents do not even have the right to sell their children (I’m obviously not talking about adoption.)

What evil lives inside a person to make them look at a child that is on their own or a defenseless person and thinks, “they’d make a good profit, and no one else is around to claim them?” Slavery in all forms is wrong… the fact that I even have to say that in today’s world is just soul crushing. Isn’t it obvious? And we’re not just talking about slavery happening in third world countries or in cultures we just do not understand. No I’m talking about human trafficking happening right here in our own country!

I couldn’t help feeling the weight of it all today. As a stay at home mom in the middle of small town America how could I make a difference? How could I help anyone who has been affected in this way?

I’m praying for everyone who is currently enslaved and being mistreated! I am asking God to free them, ease their pain and suffering and comfort their loved ones who are undoubtedly reeling with worry.

Jesus free us from the evil that is taking over this world! Open our eyes to the ways we can be your hands and feet. Please don’t let us stick our heads in the sand with our fingers in our ears anymore. Soften our hearts and show us how we can help those around us. Help us to protect one another and stand up for those who have lost their ability to fight!

May we work together to make this world a better place. It won’t be perfect until the final day, but that doesn’t mean we can just turn our backs on humanity and stay in our church bubbles until then.

Do you have a way that you like to spread awareness or aid in freeing those who have been enslaved? Please share so that we can all know what our options are for making a difference!

Abbey

Just an Update

Homestead: garden, Journal, Random Thoughts, Update

It’s been quite a while since I have done any sort of update on our house and homesteading adventure. Honestly it’s because we haven’t done much. With the cooler temps and our general burn out on painting and remodeling we have sort of gone into a hibernation mode πŸ˜‰

With the weather turning cold once again and the threat of snow upon us, I can’t help but think back to last week and the amazing temperatures we had! The whole family spent all day Saturday outside working on our side lot and enjoying the fresh air.

It. Was. Glorious.

Jay cut down a dead oak tree that would have potentially become a threat because of how tall it was. I was, of course, a little nervous about him cutting it down himself, but once I realized he didn’t have to climb up to the top to chop it down piece by piece my heart returned to regular speed. You gotta love being able to just let a whole tree fall and not worry about it hitting anything!

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I wish I could upload the video of the whole tree falling! He did a really good job of getting it to fall right where he wanted it. The kids thought he was pretty amazing πŸ™‚

We spent the rest of the day cutting up the tree for firewood and other projects. I even got to have a little fun with the chainsaw πŸ˜‰

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Des and Etta chipped in by collecting and pulling the smaller/ junkier pieces on their sled over to a fire Jay had built. They seemed to really enjoy having a chore and purpose!

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I unfortunately didn’t get any photos of her but Ry had a good old time just playing in her toy car and running around the yard. She and I spent a few minutes just basking in the warmth of the sun, it felt so good to lay down in the grass and soak up some vitamin D!

Along with the tree clean up I did some leaf pick up around the front yard. We pretty much live in the woods so we got hit hard with leaves this fall. Unfortunately the majority of them fell when Jay was in France and then our ride on broke down and our electric push mower wouldn’t start in the cold. We attempted raking some of the leaves back in Nov. but we basically gave up. With the warmer temps we were able to get the push mower going and we at least cleaned up the front flower beds and yard.

Speaking of living in the woods, Desmond has discovered the joys of climbing trees. If I couldn’t find him I knew I didn’t have to look far… just up πŸ˜‰

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Ever since all the work we did this past summer we have been a bit lazy or busy on the weekends. We haven’t really done much inside since moving in and basically have just worked on cleaning up the grounds outside. But, we’re starting to get the urge to start working on things again and with the promise of spring around the corner we can’t help but dream about all the things we have to do.

In the next few months we hope to;

-Start seedlings inside for our garden

-Build a decorative/ privacy fence on the side lot with fallen branches and plant fruit bushes and vines along the fence.

-Get chicken fencing and make a chicken tractor or something similar

– Get some chicks (we just sent in our order!)

-Put up trim in the house (Ya…we have both put that off for a long time.)

-Do a temporary kitchen remodel

-prepare and plan out gardens

-clean up backyard

-clean up ravine (Separate post all about this to come.)

– And SELL OUR OLD HOUSE! (Please, someone just buy it!)

We’ve had a nice few months of relaxing and taking a break from all the remodeling and working on our property. But, I think we’re all ready to get back to it… now if only the weather would cooperate and let us back outside!

Abbey

 

Waste Not, Want Not

Journal, Random Thoughts

I’m not really sure how Pinterest decides which Pins it should recommend to me or how it adds to my main feed. Obviously some of it make sense, if I Pin a recipe for brownies I expect to be bombarded with other decedent and chocolatey desserts! But then there are times when I am scrolling through and I’ll see a Pin that claims I can ward off evil spirits by using salt water… I can only assume that by Pinning essential oils Pinterest has decided I’m a Wiccan or believer in other weird earth things such as crystals (In case you’re wondering, I am neither.) I can’t decide if my main feed is simply set up of things that relate to me, Pins from those I follow, or trending topics from around the nation.. I can only assume it’s a little bit of everything? That being said I’m not really sure if this is a new trend that is sweeping the nation or if I’m simply seeing a lot about it because it relates to things I have searched or Pinned myself.

I have seen a large amount of posts talking about the “zero waste lifestyle.” After reading through some of the blog posts and articles on the topic I realized this type of lifestyle fits pretty closely to the idea of homesteading and going back to the old ways of doing life. In a way it makes me laugh because it seems like such an obvious idea and not really something I would consider a huge life change that requires posts such as, “How to live the Zero waste lifestyle in 9 easy steps,” or “10 items every Zero Waste lifestyle home needs!” However, when I truly think about it our generation really does rely on some pretty wasteful products that we could easily stop using and replace with more eco friendly options-most of which were the norm thirty or so years ago. So I tip my hat to those who are spreading the word and doing their part to get us back to wasting less and being smarter with our purchases and way of life.

So what is the Zero Waste Lifestyle? Correct me if I’m wrong, but the gist of it is discontinuing the use of one time products or products made of materials that can’t be recycled or composted. Examples of these products would be, but are not limited to; plastic wrap, plastic bags, really anything plastic- even toothbrushes and hairbrushes, paper towels along with food or other items that come in multiple layers of packaging (cereal.) I kind of shudder to think about all the random junk that will end up in the landfill once my kids have outgrown certain things…we’ll have to work on keeping stuff intact we can just pass it on.

In a few posts I read the authors had suggestions such as use what you have until it can no longer function then replace it with something that is more eco-friendly, this way you’re not creating waste by switching to zero waste…I mean, that makes sense❗️Some advised buying bamboo toothbrushes or making your own toothpaste so that you don’t have the toothpaste tube left at the end. As with any lifestyle there are many levels to it. You can go as extreme as taking a bag of zero waste items with you at all times when you leave the house so that you’re not forced to buy a plastic bottle of water or use a plastic fork, or you may just go the route of picking up something from the store that comes in a glass jar as opposed to a plastic one. Either way this can make a pretty big impact on our planet.

I have a couple of fun things my family has done to become Zero Waste, though we didn’t know it at the time. We just wanted to use products that could be reused or paper products that could be composted for our garden. So here’s my list ofΒ  products and ideas we use to work a little closer to zero waste (it’s a work in progress, we are by NO means on top of this.)

Who Gives a Crap Toilet Paper<<<<
ered a big old box of this toilet paper way back in August and we still have about half of it left.

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a little skeptical that the thinner sheets would make the rolls last very long but we haven't had any issues! I love this company because they use bamboo to create the toilet paper. Since bamboo grows extremely fast it's more sustainable than cutting down trees! Not only this but the company also donates 50% of their proceeds to help make toilets for countries that can't really afford to have them all over the place. (This paper is also safer for septic system.)

San Francisco Bay Coffee Pods<<<<
tried, I really did, to stop using K-cups and just put coffee grounds in a filter insert for my keurig. But when you have three little kids that all love to talk non stop before you've had coffee in the morning you need a quick fix. -I am NOT a morning person- That's where these little beauties come in! You can get a box of 100 for about $30 at Costco AND they're made from vegetable based plastic so they are compostable!! Even if they end up in a landfill they won't be around for long. We keep ours though since coffee grounds are great for gardening.

A few other things we do are try and purchase food that comes in reusable containers;

I reuse all the glass jars we end up having from pasta sauce or pickles etc. They work great for storing food, bone broth, and even odds and ends like bread bag twist ties. Most of these jars have the same mouth size as my mason jars so I can switch out the lids if need be.

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so save all of our egg cartons for when we have our own chickens. The styrofoam ones don't have any other use really but the cardboard ones we get from Aldi could also be used to plant seedlings in for starting our spring garden indoors. Once they're ready to go into the ground you can just plant each compartment since the cardboard is biodegradable!

We have also done a bit of a ditch and switch with certain products;

Now that we make our own bone broth we no longer buy chicken stock from the store which cuts down on the cans or boxes it comes in.

I make our hand soaps and cleaning supplies with my essential oils and reuse the same bottles each time.

We brew our own kombucha in reusable glass jars and bottles.

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ajority of our grocery shopping is done at Aldi so I use reusable shopping bags, it's easier to remember to take them in when the store doesn't bag your stuff and you have to pay for each bag πŸ™‚

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so do everything we can to make sure things that are recyclable actually end up in the recycling and not in our garbage. The only thing I'm Really bad about recycling are the occasional plastic shopping bags we get. Somehow I always forget to drop them off at the store. More often than not we end up using them to throw out diapers. (Diapers…i know i know, those are so wasteful.)

My next plan of action is to find compostable garbage bags (which I know are a thing) and see if they will work for our family. I'm a little worried they may start to decompose before we get the garbage out to the can 🀒 I have also seen compostable plastic forks and plates! Really anything that doesn't just sit around and take up space but rather decomposes back into organic matter would be a step up!

Like I said we are far from living with zero waste. Especially with kids it can be really hard to do. But just because something is hard doesn't mean that you can't take small steps to get closer to a goal!

And don't forget;

I believe this 100%. If you want a world that produces more sustainable products and that works to find ways to make more things earth friendly, then cast your vote with what you buy. Marketing experts are watching and see what people really want.

What is one thing you could start doing today to work towards a little less waste?

Abbey

Keeping busy in the Winter Months

Journal, Random Thoughts

Every winter I get an itch to do something creative. I’m artsy by nature and thrive when I have a fun project to do or am creating something new.

The beginning of a new year plus the cold dark days of winter always make me want to start something new and keep my hands busy.

I feel like a part of my mom is finally coming out in me this winter. She made amazing quilts. I never had to wander around the house to find her because she was either in the kitchen or sitting in her back living room corner lazy boy, hand stitching a quilt. I’ve lost count of how many quilts she made. I personally own two, my dad has a ton, I’m sure each of my siblings has at least one and there are probably countless quilts strewn through out the country – given to those my mom wanted to bless with some warmth.

This one isn’t even her most impressive one. She hand quilted it but it’s not as many stitches as she would usually do!

I wish i could say I followed in her footsteps and have created many quilts. Unfortunately, i never had the urge to quilt. Maybe it was because i saw how much work and time they take? I’m a bit ADD (literally) and I struggle with follow through (hence the 5-6 year knitting project πŸ˜‚) My lack of interest wasn’t because of a lack of my mom trying to teach me to quilt. In fact when I was about 9 I took a beginners quilting class with her at her favorite quilting store. I think I only went to one actual class and spent maybe 20 minutes at the sewing machine with my pieces of fabric for my first (and only) quilt square. I just wasn’t interested.

The only time i ever got close to wanting to sew anything was when i decided to make Etta a couple of baby blankets. I really kicked myself for never paying attention to how my mom sewed. I could have really used her advice and help on a few things. The blankets i made were ok, but no where near perfect.

Instead of quilting I had picked up knitting. For the last 5 or 6 years i have been working on a blanket… yes you read that right. I honestly don’t know where the pattern for the blanket is anymore, how many stitches there should be or if I have enough yarn. But, every fall and winter I pull it out to add a little bit more to it. It makes me think of my mom; all curled up under a warm partially made blanket with my legs tucked up under me and the tv on.

This year I pulled out my knitting and for the first time I was bored with it from the minute I started. I was ready for something new. I still wanted something that would create something useful (like a blanket) but also beautiful, and unique.

My first project is a cross stitch. My mom had taught me how to embroider years ago and unlike quilting I actually enjoyed it. I wasn’t really into the idea of cross stitching though since all the patterns i had ever seen were of old farms and women in bonnets. That just isn’t my style. But I found some super fun ones on Pinterest and then Etsy. This cute little one came from The Geeky Stitching Co. on Etsy, it came with everything I needed (including a piece of candy πŸ˜‰) and I seriously am in love with it!

Just like when I was younger the back isn’t quite perfect, but it is Way better than my embroidery use to be! I can’t wait to see the finished product!

Unfortunately I have gotten a bit sidetracked by my other project, loom weaving!!!! I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone that does this. It’s all new to me but it is so fun and I figured my old pot holder making days would help me figure it out πŸ˜‰

I ordered one from Beka on Amazon and LOVE it! It’s so relaxing and you don’t really have to follow any sort of pattern unless you want to!

So this winter, if you’re looking for me, I’ll be over in my corner lazy boy huddled under a blanket with some tea and weaving or cross stitching like a little old lady 🀣 What can I say? Creativity and thread are just in my blood. I miss you mom!

Abbey