Tag Archives: farm life

What a Weekend!!

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What a full weekend we had. It was packed to the gills with projects, places to go, and things to do. It was a crazy weekend, but a productive weekend…and boy did we all sleep well Sunday night!

Here is a peek into all the craziness we crammed into a 48-hour period…

Saturday began at 7:00 am. Rusty had a bike ride scheduled with the other young men from church. They planned to meet up at 7:45 and would be gone most of the morning. The plan was to conclude their excursion at the comic book store where an annual basement blowout was being held, offering thousands of comics for only $1.oo/each.

Rusty “rolled” back home around noon, tired and happy, eager to show off his comic book finds.

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The big task of the day was canning. A friend from church found a great deal on apples that we couldn’t pass up. We bought two bushels and the plan was to spend the day turning our bushels of apples into applesauce and apple pie filling. When these plans were made I thought I’d have a whole crew of helpers in the kitchen with me for the day, but soon other opportunities began to trump canning, leaving me in the kitchen with a revolving door of helpers coming and going through the day.

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My first helper of the day was Tyler. He had a few hours until he needed to leave the house and eagerly jumped on the task of coring and peeling apples for applesauce.

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At 10:00 am he had to leave with Toby and the girls jumped into his place as second and third in command.

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Tyler and Toby were off to Pittsburgh for some unexpected fun. The previous night, while out with friends, we were offered two free tickets to a Pitt football game at Heinz field. It was decided that Toby would take Tyler. Tyler is by far the biggest football fan in the family and we knew he could use some Daddy/son time after the unsettling week he had had seeing Ozzie leave.

It was just what they both needed. They were able to escape for a few hours and enjoy some mindless fun and male bonding over football and popcorn, and they had a perfect day for it. The weather was beautiful!

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At 11:00 am I lost Grace and Molly as canning helpers when they left for an event at Gracie’s school. As part of Gracie’s American Sign Language classes, she must attend a certain number of deaf events each semester. This is something Grace looks forward to and on this particular Saturday her ASL club was hosting a tie-dye activity at the school. Grace decided to invite Molly along. Molly has struggled a bit with the life changes that have occurred in our home lately. The absence of Ozzie and seeing less of Grace due to Gracie’s busy school and work schedule, has left her feeling a bit lost. Noticing this, Grace invited Molly out for a sister date. They made plans to attend the tie-dye activity and then go to Rita’s for an Italian ice after the event was over.

Both girls had a wonderful time. The ASL club had a good turn out and everyone enjoyed getting messy. The club supplied socks for everyone to tie-dye, but participants could bring other items to tie-dye as well. Grace and Molly each brought a pillowcase to color. It was a fun activity for them to share. Molly enjoyed getting to know some of Gracie’s college friends, and enjoyed getting to use some of her ASL skills.

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At noon Rusty returned home, thanks to a kind young men’s leader who dropped him off on our doorstop, and then Rusty jumped into the fray of apple canning. At this point I was onto apple pie filling and Rusty helped me peel, core, and slice apples for the pie filling. He was a great help and my efficiency increased significantly with another set of hands in the kitchen.

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We also made a large batch of oven dried cinnamon apple slices to enjoy as snacks. As the slices slowly dried in the warm ovens the entire house took on the delicious smell of autumn.

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Around this same time Toby was heading back out of Pittsburgh to pick up the girls (after they dropped off Mimi Joy’s car that she graciously lent them for the day) and head up north for Tyler’s equine therapy.

He had another wonderful session on his horse, Smokey, and he enjoyed sharing his experience with Toby and the girls. He is a natural on the horse and we are finding the lessons to be hugely therapeutic.

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After lessons Toby and the kids made a quick stop at Baldingers Candy Shop for some sweet treats.

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It was now 3:00 pm and things were winding down in the kitchen. The apple slices were dried and the canning was complete. My legs ached and I was covered in dried, sticky, apple juice…but what a satisfying feeling it was to gaze upon the fruits of our labors!

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It also happened to be General Conference weekend, a twice annual event in our church where we have the opportunity to hear from leadership in the form of a worldwide broadcast. It is a special weekend comprised of 4 two-hour sessions that we can watch from the comfort of our own home and receive counsel, guidance and uplifting messages from inspired speakers. We try to make it an extra special experience with a fun breakfast, activities, and booklets to help the kids take notes and stay engaged.

On Sunday morning, Rusty volunteered to be in charge of breakfast. He stumbled across a recipe online that he wanted to try. It was peanut butter and jelly French toast…and it was delicious!

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While Rusty cooked breakfast, everyone else sat down to write a letter to Ozzie. This will become a regular Sunday task. My plan is to help facilitate connection between the kids through pen pal letters. There is healing that needs to occur and written letters seem a good way to foster a renewed connection in a safe and non-threatening way. The stack of letters will then be mailed one at a time through the week, creating a steady influx of mail for Ozzie, hopefully making him feel of our love and letting him know he is not forgotten.

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For General Conference, I printed out our traditional bingo game and filled a bowl with our “prizes,” as well as created note taking doodle packets for the kids to use as they watched.

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It was wonderful to spend that time as a family and receive inspired guidance and direction.

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Sunday afternoon we also had a visit with Ozzie. It couldn’t have gone any better. He is doing beautifully and this Momma’s heart overflowed with gratitude to see him so at peace. It was a joy to get that time with him to catch up and reconnect.

Sunday night we enjoyed a game night for our Family Night activity. Friends from co-op, who also are avid board gamers, lent us an escape room game they purchased. We love these sorts of games and this one was no exception. We had a blast racing the clock and working as a team to solve the puzzles needed to win the game.

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We were successful!

It truly was a non-stop, crazy weekend…

Filled to the brim with busyness…

Filled to the brim with blessings!

The Cone is Back!

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Just when we thought we were free from the terror of a Great Dane encased in a hard plastic cone…

Just when the other dogs quit cowering in fear at Olive’s entrance into the room…

Just as the cuts on our arms and legs began to scab over…

Just when we finally threw that sad excuse of a cone into the trash,

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the adventure begins again.

For the THIRD time!

We arrived home on Wednesday evening, following two fun-filled days at Kalahari. We were greeted by enthusiastic, happy dogs who were glad to see us.

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All was good.

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All was well.

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Until…

*cue scary music*

We open the door to find this!

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Blood everywhere.

Olive was let outside for a few minutes and in that time, in the midst of her leaps of joy and pirouettes of happiness, she somehow injured herself. And I mean REALLY injured herself.

We opened the door to find our front porch looking like a scene from The Walking Dead.

Undeterred by the gushing wounds on two of her feet, she continued to bounce around with 100-pound-puppy energy, quickly coating the porch, us, and herself with blood.

It was at this point Molly pondered out loud, as she ran to the medicine cabinet for bandages, “I wonder what it would be like to just have a normal, boring day around here.”

But, alas, nothing is ever simple, uneventful, or boring at Patchwork Farm.

No, everyday is an adventure…whether we want it to be or not. 😉

Thus began adventure # 786,901 at Patchwork Farm: “The day the cone returned!”

It took all the older kids to hold Olive down so that Toby and I could inspect the damage. When the blood kept soaking through the pressure dressings we put on her ankles, we knew the situation exceeded our level of expertise and it was back to the vet for another overnighter for Olive.

She is earning her frequent flyer miles at Rainbow Vet, and we are personally funding our veterinarian’s next European vacation! Ugh.

We were able to pick up Olive the next day. After walking the entire yard we still have no idea what she ran through that tore her up so badly that she needed to get staples in her legs,

But the end result was minor surgery, boxing gloves for paws, and the return of “The Cone.”

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She is now on “bed rest” once again-

“And it is SO MUCH FUN!!” I scream with a manic grin.

She also can’t get her bandages wet for 10 days, a challenging feat living in Western Pennsylvania, so she was sent home from the vet with little plastic galoshes that must be tied onto her feet every time she goes outside.

Moving with the grace of a newborn giraffe, she struggles to move through the yard hampered by boxing glove feet, covered in stiff plastic bags.

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She has adapted by learning to walk on her tip toes, quite reminiscent of Wile E. Coyote sneaking up on the Road Runner.

It is quite comical to watch,

but the return of the “cone of shame” is not so comical.

We are all suffering from this latest Olive adventure…

Olive is feeling the pain of her most recent injury in her feet.

The kids are feeling the bruising pain of collisions with the “cone of shame” on their arms and legs.

And Toby is feeling the piercing financial pain of Great Dane ownership in his wallet.

Can someone pass me an aspirin?

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What’s Up, Buttercup?

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In addition to Olive, our new 10 week old Great Dane puppy, we have a few more new additions at Patchwork Farm.

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Buttercup, one of our farmyard chickens, is a broody little Momma. She loves babies and loves being a Mommy, so she has this habit of hiding her eggs from us. Instead of laying in the same area as the other chickens she finds hidden corners to build a nest, and lays a clutch of eggs, with the intention of hatching them.

So what do I mean by “broody?”

Broody Hens:

A broody hen of any breed can be used to hatch eggs and raise chicks from other hens of any breeds.

  • A broody will sit on any eggs, whether or not they are fertile and regardless of who laid them. To gather a suitable clutch of eggs, she will not only lay her own eggs but may roll other hens’ eggs into her nest.
  • While a hen is brooding, you can remove daily any extra eggs she gathers into her clutch. Drawing pencil “equator” lines around the eggs you want her to brood will help with identification.
  • A setting hen will usually leave the nest at least once a day to eat, drink, and defecate. The eggs are not in danger of cooling off too much during a normal foray into the coop or run.
  • Typically, chicken eggs hatch about 21 days from the beginning of incubation or nesting by a broody hen. A few days early or late is not unusual, and some breeds lean toward earlier or later hatches.
  • If a broody hen has pushed an egg out of the nest, she probably knows something is not right with that egg or embryo.

 

For those that are unfamiliar with the workings of chicken laying…I know I was before we got chickens 7 years ago…here is the scoop:

A young, healthy chicken lays an average of an egg per day. Which means you could in theory get a dozen eggs per day if you have 12 chickens. That is not always the case. Other factors like amount of daylight, weather, age of the chicken, and nutrition come into play but it is a good average.

A grown chicken lays an egg per day whether you own a rooster (a male chicken) or not.

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The ladies will lay regardless of whether the egg has been fertilized by a male or not. If you do have a rooster there is no obvious differences in a fertilized egg verses an unfertilized egg when they are collected daily and put in the fridge. There is no difference in the look, texture, or taste and it matters not whether your omelet contains a fertilized egg or an unfertilized one.

Here are some other fun egg facts:

Double eggs or “egg in an egg” are created when an egg with a shell is encased by the next egg in the oviduct and a shell is produced over the outer egg as well.

  • Double yolkers may have a normal amount of egg white with two or more yolks. The egg may be unusually large.

Contrary to what some believe the yolk is not an undeveloped baby chick. It is actually the nutrients that the chick would feed on as it developed in the shell, if the egg was fertilized.

The egg yolk or egg white may have red or brown specks in it. These “blood spots” and “meat spots” are harmless bits of tissue and are allowed in commercial Grade B eggs. If they look unappealing, the spots can be removed with a spoon or knife before cooking.

The shell color is a breed characteristic. Most chicken breeds lay light-to-medium brown eggs. A few breeds lay white, dark brown, green, blue, or cream colored eggs.

And no, brown eggs are not healthier than white eggs.

If you aren’t sure how old an egg is, you can submerge it in water. The freshest eggs will remain at the bottom of the container, while old eggs will float. Floaters should either be discarded or opened far from your nose

It is the addition of heat through incubation or a sitting hen that causes the embryo to begin developing into a baby chick if it is a fertilized egg. This incubation period takes a little over 3 weeks.

Often with free range chicken (like ours) a hen will “disappear” for a period of time and then return with a parade of baby chicks following her, as was the case with Buttercup.

We have had chickens for years but this is the first time we have had a broody hen. We typically add chicks to the farm through mail order. They are overnighted through the postal service and we get a phone call from the postman to come pick up our noisy chicks when our chirping box arrives.

Having a hen sit and hatch new additions has been a fun change for us. It is neat to watch Momma take on the role of teacher and protector of the chicks as opposed to the artificial environment of raising the chicks in the basement under a heat lamp.

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Buttercup is a good little Momma, herding her chicks around the farmyard with Gus, our Guinea fowl, who has taken on the role of protector and adoptive dad to the nine babies. It is so funny to see!

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It is moments like this that make me feel so blessed to raise my own “chicks” on a farm where they can experience the most thrilling of nature’s wonders.

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A Berry Busy Day

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On Friday we left the house at 10:00am and didn’t return until 2:00am. It was a very full day filled with an abundance of blessings.

Our day consisted of strawberry picking, a graduation party, a school bus inspection, a two hour drive to pick up Tyler’s biological brother for a weekend visit, an unexpected request to babysit two of our little friends for the weekend, and an evening at the drive-in movie theatre to see “Finding Dory!”

That is a lot of crazy crammed in one day, but we pulled it off!

Due in large part to Toby!

 Not every man would so willingly take on as much as my man does. He is a living example of being “all in.” He doesn’t flinch. He doesn’t waver. He doesn’t run. When asked to take on three extra kids over Father’s Day weekend he just smiles and says, “What’s one more? …or three more?”  🙂

I think I won the husband lottery and have no idea how I got so lucky. Our life is often crazy and messy and loud and chaotic but there is no one I’d rather be navigating it with than this man. Today, as I write this blog and try to catch up on recording all that happened this weekend, I reflect on the blessing of my husband. Today is our 19th anniversary and I can’t help but think how boring my life would be without him.

It was Toby that called Friday morning from work and told me to have the kids dressed and ready to go. He was done at work and suggested we go strawberry picking as a family. It was a beautiful day, sunny and not too warm, a perfect day to be in the fields.

We drove out to Catalpa Grove Farm. Friends introduced us to Catalpa’s six years ago and it has been our go-to “you pick” farm ever since.

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This was Ozzie’s first time picking strawberries with us since we didn’t make it out to Catalpa’s last summer. He was very excited and the kids were eager to share the experience with him.

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When we arrived we stopped at the front booth to pick up the wire baskets that hold our quart containers. Then we drove out to the fields where we were assigned the rows that we were to pick from.

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We were told to pick as much as we liked (The cost was $3.00/qt) and to enjoy sampling the strawberries while we worked. 🙂

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It took us about an hour to pick 24 quarts. Each person was given three quart containers to fill when we arrived, and then those who finished first helped fill the last few.

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As I knelt in the wet hay that lined the aisles,

with the sun warming my shoulders and the scent of strawberries in the air,

I counted my blessings…

All 6 of them

with strawberry stained lips.

Everyone had a good time picking, visiting, and sampling.

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When we were done we headed back to the front gate to pay for our haul

then we parked and headed inside for another Catalpa tradition:

strawberry slushies!

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Catalpa’s yummy strawberry slushies have become our annual reward for everyone’s hard work in the field. They are made from the strawberries grown there and are a delicious, cold treat.

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After enjoying our slushies we drove back home to put the berries in the fridge to keep until we could process them on Saturday morning,

before we headed back on the road for the remainder of the day.

The next morning, with the “help” of 8 children we cleaned, cut and prepared 24 quarts of strawberries for jam and freezing.

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Half the strawberries were turned into jam (30 jars of jam) and the other half were bagged for future recipes and to be used to make smoothies.

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Even Harley got to enjoy the fruits of our labor when we gave him the bowl of strawberry foam that was skimmed from the top of the jam.

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All in all it was a “Berry” good day!

Work and Play at the Homestead

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We spent this past weekend in Ohio at my parents’ house as we cared for their critters. They drove up to Michigan to visit my sister’s family and we offered to care for their farm while the were gone. The kids were looking forward to a mini vacation at the Homestead. The plan was to fit in a little sightseeing and local fun in the midst of our responsibilities. The weekend didn’t go exactly as planned when the flu hit and left some feeling yucky, but even with that setback we managed to make the best of our weekend away.

The days began and ended with work as we cared for the animals and gardens. Everyone took on different responsibilities from feeding and watering animals, to gathering eggs, to mucking out the barn. The work was not too different than their chore list at home, but somehow doing the work at someone else’s home made it more fun. 🙂

We also had the responsibility of keeping Mimi’s beautiful gardens alive in the midst of 90+ degree days.

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Feeding the trout in the spring room.

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Grace watering the flower gardens.

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Rusty gathering eggs.

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Ozzie giving George his nightly brush down.

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Tyler playing chase with the goats.

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 After our chores were done each day then it was time to play. On the days when we had sick kids we stayed home and the healthy kids enjoyed swimming in Mimi and Pop pop’s pool, soaking in the hot tub, and enjoyed the treat of cable TV. There was a lot of Disney Channel viewing done by all the kids, and a lot of Weather Channel viewing done by Ozzie. 🙂

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Enjoying our nightly dip in the hot tub.

 During times when everyone was feeling well we ventured out for a little local fun. The number one requested stop by all the kids was Hershberger Farm. This farm/bakery is a must see stop in Amish country. This farm hold a special place in our hearts as it was the place where we adopted both our puppies: Winnie, our English Bulldog and Ellie May, our Bashar (Bassett Hound/Shar pei mix) from.

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They no longer sell puppies but they do have a fun free petting zoo where you can hold and feed all sorts of farm animals that they have for sell. This time of year is especially fun at Hershberger Farm with all the baby animals.

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It is funny how much my kids love this place. It is not as though the animals here are a novelty for my farm kids. Between our home and the Homestead we have most of these critters, but for my animal lovers the joy found in a petting zoo never lessens or grows old.

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There is no cost to pet or hold the animals. The only expense comes from the additional activities like the carriage rides or pony rides…

as well as the cost of food if you choose to feed the animals.

We decided to splurge on the $5.00 cost of buying 6 ice cream cones of animal feed. It is such a clever way to package the animal feed because there is no waste. You feed the animals the pellets and then feed them the cone they came in when your cone is empty…It is brilliant!

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The cone also makes a great transport vehicle for feeding the goats on the barn roof.

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At Hershberger Farm they have built stairs up to the roof for the goats to climb. If you want to feed the goats lounging on the roof you place your cone on the conveyor belt and turn the wheel that moves your cone up to the goats who eagerly wait until the cone is within reach.

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It is a lot of fun to do. Some of the kids chose to feed the goats on the roof while others opted to save their feed for the mommas and babies inside the barn.

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Inside the barn there was a regular menagerie of critters including, but not limited to: cows, horses, goats, bunnies, chickens, sheep, ducks, and even a Zebu.

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The Zebu ended up being Rusty and my favorite critter there. With his sweet temperament, excess skin and long, droopy ears we decided it was the Bassett Hound of the cattle world and we want one!

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We spent hours feeding and loving on all the babies. I am amazed we made it out without someone smuggling out a baby of some sort  under their shirt.

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Hershberger Farm also had a new addition to the petting area. Their massive, famous horse, Big Ben, has retired to the fields to enjoy a quieter life in his old age and the new horse on display is Big King. He is a three year old offspring of Big Ben and equally impressive in his size and stature.

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When everyone had their fill of animal loving we walked over to the bakery so that they could each pick out a fry pie to have for dessert after dinner that night. Fry pies are a Amish treat that one must buy when in Amish country. Fry pies are a fried, glazed pastries that are filled with a variety of pie fillings. Each kid picked out a different flavor to try.

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On another afternoon we ventured out of the house to go to Lehman’s… another must see spot to visit in Holmes county.

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 Lehman’s is a really cool store in the heart of Ohio Amish Country that has a lot to offer for both tourists and locals alike. We were introduced to Lehman’s years ago by Toby’s parents when it was just a small hardware store specializing in non-electronic housewares and hardware. Since then they have expanded and what they have to offer is so much more. They have a lot of neat things there. They have unusual sodas and even have a large section of toys. There are charming decorations  on display to add to the experience, including an old fashioned English telephone booth and an Amish buggy.  The place has become somewhat of a tourist attraction and is definitely a good roadside stop to go in and walk around for awhile even of you don’t plan on buying anything.

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We were there at lunchtime and bought a hot dog for everyone. The kids loved eating in the jail cell that sits in the corner of the café.

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We walked around for a while and then the kids were each allowed to pick out a fun soda to drink outside as we lounged in the sun.

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The selection of sodas for sale is crazy! They have just about any flavor you could want including many you probably wouldn’t want. 🙂

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Each kid picked out a yummy flavor and then we purchased one crazy flavor to try. The kids picked out peanut butter and jelly flavor soda to share…and surprisingly declared it “pretty tasty!”

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We left on Sunday to return home after getting the animals and home ready for my parents’ arrival. The timing was good. In the following 48 hours more of us got hit with the same stomach bug that left Molly feeling lousy over the weekend. It was good to be home in our own beds.

It was a lot fun to get away for the weekend but it was nice to return home.

A Belated Mother’s day

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We spent Sunday in Ohio.

My sister, Kelly, and her daughter, Lydia, had driven down to my parents’ house for the weekend. They had traveled 7 hours south from their home in northern Michigan to celebrate Gracie’s 18th birthday with her at her Downton Abbey tea party.

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Because our family is spread from Michigan to Texas whenever we do get together we take advantage of that rare treat and celebrate all the birthdays and holidays that fall around that time. This weekend we celebrated Grace, Molly, and Kelly’s spring birthdays as well as Mother’s Day with my mom.

Since Grace, Molly, and I needed to be in Ohio on Monday for the tea party we decided to drive two vehicles out to the Homestead and then at the end of the day Toby could drive back home with the boys and the girls and I could stay and begin Gracie’s celebration.

It was a perfect day. The sun was out and the temperature was ideal. We ate lunch outside and then opened gifts.

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The kids each painted Mimi a flower on a canvas for Mother’s Day. (Grace is holding the rose Tyler painted since I couldn’t get him to come over for a picture. He is still self conscious about his new hair-do.)

 It was nice to be able to celebrate Mother’s day all together (I just wish my brother, Travis, could have joined us.)

Molly and Grace also received their birthday gifts from Aunt Kelly…beautiful necklaces that were so personal and perfect for each of them!

The remainder of the day was spent enjoying family time outside:

Playing with the farm animals…

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Tyler challenging Bobby to a duel.

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 Blowing BIG bubbles…

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And playing our traditional game of badminton….

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Around 5:00 the boys headed back home and the girls’ night began.

The first item on the agenda was hat decorating. I had picked up some inexpensive straw hats for us to decorate for the tea party. The girls had fun raiding Mimi’s ribbon and flower stash to create lovely tea party hats.

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While we created we had fun taking Downton Abbey personality quizzes online to determine which character we would each be.

When the hats were done the girls put on swimsuits and hopped in Mimi and Pop pop’s hot tub for a soak.

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Then it was time for party favors!

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Mimi had found a beautiful antique tea set that she purchased for the big day. She had filled each tea cup with treats for every girl to take home, and then gave Grace the tea pot, creamer and sugar bowl as part of her gift. The set was charming and was just Gracie’s style.

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My party favors for the group were Downton Abbey paper dolls that I found online and wrapped with a pair of scissors for each girl. (Thank you, Pinterest!)

We ended our evening by watching an episode of Downton Abbey to set the tone for our tea party the following day and to introduce Lydia to the characters and story since she had never seen the show. Gracie carefully chose an episode that would be entertaining and appropriate for a 10 year old, as well as one that highlighted all the main characters. She chose Season 1 episode 4 when Branson comes to Downton Abbey to be the new chauffer and Sybil wears pants.

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It was a perfect way to end a wonderful day with family,

as well as a perfect way to start Gracie’s Downton Abbey tea party birthday celebration.

Llama Drama

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For English Composition Rusty has been working on a personal memoir assignment. He chose to share the story of the day we adopted Obama the Llama. We have had fun looking back on that funny adventure. Here is his memoir:

“Life on our farm is always an adventure. We have had our share of crazy experiences with the animals that call Patchwork Farm home, but the one that takes the cake is the day we brought home our llama.

Near our home there is a weekly auction that takes place every Friday night. At this auction you can bid on everything from 20 pounds of strawberries to a used air conditioner, and everything in between. The biggest reason we go to Rogers auction is the animal auction. At Rogers we have bought chickens, rabbits, even the occasional goat. Never did I think we would buy a llama. It all happened when we showed up at the auction and there was a llama in the pen with the goats. He was tall, with long, white fur and a sloping big nose. My dad was instantly in love with the idea of having a llama. The thought of having a llama in the field to protect our herd of goats appealed to him. As we sat in the audience Dad was hoping that the llama would be a good price. At this point in the night I think my dad, in all his excitement, forgot we didn’t have a trailer with us. He raised his hand to bid and the auctioneer pointed to him and yelled “Sold!” We were now the owners of a llama.

Dad went to the front desk to pay his bill and then went into the barn to get our new llama. With a harness and a leash Dad walked the llama to our car. It was at this moment that he remembered that he didn’t drive his truck and trailer to the auction. We had actually come in the family station wagon. Rather than panic dad just said, “We will figure this out.”

We walked to the the car dragging a 300-pound llama by the leash. Dad had Mom hold the leash while he folded down the seats that the kids weren’t using, to make space for a 7-foot llama. It was now time to convince the llama to climb into the back of the station wagon. He found out llamas don’t like station wagons. They also don’t fold easily, but dad was persistent and with a tuck here and a fold here he managed to squish Obama the llama into our car.

Once he was in he was fine. His fluffy white body filled the back of the car and he rested his head on the back of the driver’s headrest. As we drove home cars passed us, slowing down to look closer or take a picture with their cellphone cameras. On our way home Dad decided to make one more stop at our local ice cream store so that everyone (except the llama) could enjoy an ice cream cone on the ride home. Everyone got out of the car to order their ice cream from the front window. As we were walking back to the car carrying our ice cream cones we passed a young boy who had stopped to stare in the window of our car. He was shocked and  shouted for everyone to hear “ Mom, they have a polar bear in their car!”

Obama made it home in one piece and enjoyed a long life at Patchwork Farm. He never again rode in the station wagon. Instead of cruising around town, his days were spent grazing in the fields. In the end it all worked out. The moral of the story is think before you act, especially if you are buying a llama.”

Which came first the chicken or the egg?

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We are proud to announce the addition of 8 new arrivals at Patchwork Farm…

we have babies!

And we didn’t even know we were expecting. 🙂

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On Thursday morning we were called out to the animal pen by Molly’s frantic cries that she needed help. She discovered Ellie, our Bashar pup, playing with a new “toy.” It was a baby chick and the baby chick really didn’t want to play with her. Molly came to the rescue, saving the chick from the Ellie’s slimy Bassett jowls and then the search for Momma began. Molly, forever our animal rescuer, began to search through the tall grass to find any other chicks. We soon figured out who Momma was by the way one chicken closely followed Molly (who was carrying the soggy chick in hand) around the field. Rusty joined in the search and with bucket in hand they began to collect peeps.

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We found 8 living peeps.

We didn’t even know there was a nest of eggs tucked away.

We have another Momma currently sitting on eggs but after checking out that nest and discovering those eggs still in tact and Momma still sitting, we knew this was a different nest.

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After 7 years of being chicken owners this is our first batch of babies. We have never had a broody Momma before the addition of a few new chickens and roosters this summer. Suddenly everyone has “baby fever.”

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We collected the babies and set up a nursery in a container that would hold the babies and keep them safe from wandering out the holes in the fencing where the dog eagerly waits for his “friends” to come play. Momma jumped into the nursery with them and had been caring for them ever since.  It is heartwarming to watch the interactions of Momma animals and their young. The Momma tucks all her babies under the warmth and safety of her wings and keeps watch.

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The babies are in the cute, fluffy stage,

and even the peep who was soaked with basset slime has dried out to fluffy cuteness.

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We are now waiting for the arrival of batch #2. That momma is sitting on 12 eggs and leaves the nest only for minutes a day to drink and eat. One egg shows the start of hatching with a pinhole crack beginning.

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What a delightful life we have been blessed with.

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There is no place I’d rather raise my brood than on Patchwork Farm.

Time

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“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” – Henry David Thoreau

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I recently had a conversation with two friends. As we sat at a table, catching up on each other’s lives, I found myself caught up in a working woman’s conversation as they discussed their careers, their busy schedules, and the juggling act they must perform as working moms. Rather than bemoan their busy days, however, they quickly agreed that they could never go back to being “just a stay at home mom.” They agreed that staying home with their children, spending their day caring for their homes, doing laundry, and making meals would just be “too boring.”

Then they smiled at me with a poor, pitying nod and the same sympathetic, “poor soul” look you might give someone on death’s door. 🙂

Thinking they were joking I found a laugh beginning to bubble up.

Then I realized they were serious…and I had to hold back the fit of laughter that was fighting to come forth.

Boredom…HA!

I can’t even imagine such a feeling.

It is the object of my fantasies and distant memories.

I remember being bored once… I think I was 8, but it was so long ago I can’t be sure. 🙂

Time is such an interesting paradox. It is something we always feel we are lacking and yet we perceive others having in abundance, and yet the reality of it all is that we all are equal…

In a world that is quick to point out any imbalance, any inequality, any injustice, this is one area where we all stand on equal footing.

86,400…

those are the seconds in your day

and my day,

and your “busy” neighbor’s day,

and your great grandmother’s day,

and the President’s day,

and your 8 month old daughter’s day.

Time is the great equalizer.

Within every day we begin with the same balance in our bank book,

only the way we choose to use (or lose) those seconds differ.

I am a firm believer that no one person is busier than another. We are simply busy with different things. How my daughter spends her seconds is very different from how my mother spends hers, and yet I wouldn’t say one schedule is busier than another.

Society sells us this lie that the worth of our life multiplies the busier we can tell people we are. Busyness is worn like a badge or carried like a bank book, quick to be pulled out and compared to other’s accountings of their lives…

“Who is busier?” we ask ourselves.

“Wow,” we acknowledge, “She must be an amazing person. Look at how busy she is. There is hardly a second left at the end of her day.”

BUT:

“It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. What are we busy about?” -Henry Davis Thoreau

No one is busier than another, we are just busy with different things…

with different priorities…

with different purposes…

with different callings.

How I use my time, while it may seem to lack value when seen through the glasses of your priorities and your calling, has equal value to your life’s work. And while I may not have any desire to spend my days in an office environment, I recognize it is where God wants you to be.

We don’t have to want another person’s life to be able to embrace its worth for them!

I think this is the greatest lesson I have learned as I have grown older…

Our callings are not the same.

My purpose on earth is different from yours,

and because our callings differ, our use of time will differ too. And that is a wonderful thing. We need to spend more time cheering each other on in our journeys and spend less time judging the value of our journey based on the lives of those around us.

As I sat and listened to the conversation of these two friends I just smiled. I didn’t take their words personally, and I didn’t let their ignorance of my personal calling affect me. I don’t need their validation or their approval. I don’t need to give them an accounting of my days, and minutes, and seconds.. I know I am on the path the Lord wants me on (at least for this season of my life.) and I know he values the way I am spending the seconds of my days.

It is not their journey to understand.

So I just smiled and assured them that staying home and teaching my five kids wasn’t boring to me…not boring at all.

Perhaps someday the Lord will see fit to bless me with a little of that mythical “boredom” I hear about in fairy tales.

Until then I will embrace the crazy busyness of my life,

and give thanks for the path I am on.

We all have the same 86,400 seconds of life to spend each day,

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may we all spend them wisely and see them for the beautiful currency that they are.

How are you spending the days of your life?

A Super Special Saturday

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Saturday was Tyler’s last soccer game of the season.

And while that was a celebratory event in and of itself

it was then magnified by the presence of Mimi and Pop pop coming to watch Tyler play.

A few weeks ago my mom called and wanted to know the dates of Tyler’s upcoming soccer games so that she and my dad could plan a trip from Ohio to watch him play. This was their first time seeing one of Tyler’s games and Tyler was beside himself with excitement.

We decided to take full advantage of our get together and celebrate Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Toby’s birthday all at once.

Tyler spent the morning waiting on the driveway for them to pull in while the older 4 kids decorated the outdoor chalkboard with a welcome sign for Mimi and Pop pop.

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When they arrived  around 10:00am the kids took them on a tour of the house, eager to show off their rooms, and then we sat down to open gifts.

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After we were done opening gifts we headed to lunch. We made plans to celebrate Mom, Dad and Toby at an Applebee’s lunch before we had to be at the soccer game. It was delicious!

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Then it was on to the soccer game. Tyler was very excited to have extra cheerleaders on the sidelines. 🙂

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It was so much fun sitting together and visiting while we watched Tyler play.

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Tyler played a great game, scoring a few goals and helping his team win their final game of the season. It was an amazing season for their team, as they ended their season undefeated.

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But the biggest growth we saw in Tyler this season was character growth. He has been born with natural athletic ability…that was always there. The transformation we saw this season was a different sort of transformation. Thanks in large part to his coaches (and I believe the key being a female coach for a change) we saw Tyler become a better team player. We watched as he developed better communication skills, more awareness of the other players, self-control and maturity that we hadn’t seen up till this point.

A lot of this is a result of soccer and some of it is just the natural progression of a hurt child becoming more comfortable, feeling more safe, and learning to trust.

He came to us with a hard exterior, rarely smiling, physically strong and aggressive, and very self focused. He had learned in his early years that he couldn’t trust others so he became a tough little boy who would take care of himself. We have watched the wall he built slowly crumble over the last two years and a softer version of our little boy is emerging.

A metamorphosis has occurred.

And joy now shines forth.

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After the game we came back to the house for cupcakes and  some outdoor fun.

The kids brought out some of the newest members of our furry menagerie for Mimi and Pop pop to meet. 🙂

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It was a special Saturday at Patchwork Farm.

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I went to bed that night feeling overwhelmed by the abundance of blessings God had given me.

I fell asleep feeling so grateful…

Grateful for healthy, happy, loving, generous parents, who live close enough for special day visits like this one.

Grateful for God’s power to heal hurt hearts and broken spirits.

Grateful for the growth I get to watch in EACH of my children as I begin to catch glimpses of the people they will become.

Grateful for the best husband in the whole world. A man with a strong character and a soft heart who has opened his home to the orphan, and opened his heart to those who hurt.

Grateful to raise my little brood at Patchwork Farm…

A magical place indeed.