Tag Archives: goats

Easter at the Homestead

Last weekend we headed to Ohio.
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Since we had spent Easter day with Toby’s family, this was our second Easter celebration…this time with my parents.
We could not have asked for more beautiful weather. It was a perfect spring day. Between the bright blue sky, kelly green grass, and purple violets, the Homestead was alive with color.
Much of the day was spent outside enjoying this ideal spring day.
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For lunch we enjoyed a picnic lunch of subs, potato salad, deviled eggs, and pickled watermelon rinds.
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The animals gathered at the fence to watch us eat. Perhaps they were hoping someone might toss them a roll. 🙂
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It is funny to see how alive and engaged the critters become when they see the kids arrive.
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After lunch we participated in a new Easter tradition, something we had never heard of before. This Easter tradition was introduced to us by my soon-to-be sister from Texas. Upon hearing that my poor, Pennsylvania children had never experienced cascarones before (a Easter tradition in Texas) she sent a package as a gift. “What are cascarones,” you ask:
“A cascarĂłn is a hollowed-out chicken egg filled with confetti. Cascarones are common through Mexico and are similar to the Easter eggs popular in many other countries. They are mostly used in Mexico during Carnival, but in US and Mexico border towns the cultures combined making them a popular Easter tradition.

Popular for generations as an Easter tradition in the Southwest, they are now making a splash elsewhere in the United States.”

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She explained to my mom how they work and that getting hit with a cascarone is supposed to bring good luck.


So we tapped into our very shallow, pretty much non-existent Latin roots and grabbed an egg.

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What fun they were!!

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I think we have established a new Easter tradition, although Tyler suggested that next year we just use regular eggs.


It could be fun. Messy, but fun. 😉

After our cascarones battle it was time to switch gears from Easter to birthdays, as we planned to take advantage of having everyone gathered, so as to celebrate Ozzie’s and Molly’s birthdays.

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Life has gotten busier in recent years and the added distance between our homes (2 1/2 hours as opposed to 1) makes getting together a bit tougher, so we have begun clumping birthdays and celebrating 3 months of birthdays in one sitting.

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Both kids were tickled pink to receive such perfect, thoughtful, creative gifts from my parents.

Ozzie received two new puzzles and a deck of John Deere playing cards. They couldn’t have picked a better gift for my puzzle loving boy!

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Molly received a Ukulele…an adorable Ukulele! She has been talking about wanting to learn to play the Ukulele and Mimi and Pop Pop heard her wish and granted it.

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Mom even had special Easter treats for Toby and I.

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It was very thoughtful!

The remainder of the day was spent soaking up the sunshine, enjoying birthday root beer floats, and playing Frisbee as a family.

How blessed we are!

Pictures of our weekend


Our weekend was a full one as the girls spent theirs at youth conference with friends and leaders from church. The theme for the weekend: “Anchored in Christ.”

Here are some of Gracie’s snapshots from her travels with Molly:






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While the girls were gallivanting around western New York we were playing in Ohio.

On Friday we drove out to the Homestead to visit my parents for the day for some fun “grandsons only” time. It was a lazy, relaxed day as the boys played and went swimming, and I visited with my mom as we crafted and made cards. We were only able to stay a few hours before I had to make the 2 1/2 hour trek back home

but we fit a lot of fun into our short time together…

Arriving at the Homestead.

Arriving at the Homestead.

Mom and Dad's new covered porch.

Mom and Dad’s new covered porch.

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Enjoying rootbeer floats for dessert.

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On Saturday the boys were invited to a friend’s birthday party. Melanie, a little girl in Ozzie’s class at church, was having her 11th birthday party and she invited our boys to come. It was a mini golf party at Frontier Falls, a beautiful mini golf course near us. The boys had a blast! After a round of mini golf they served pizza and cake. It was a very fun party!

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Tyler was a little sweat head in the 90+ degree temperatures.

Tyler was a little sweat head in the 90+ degree temperatures.

The birthday girl

The birthday girl

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While we were at the birthday party Toby stayed home and got some more work done on our school bus renovation. The seats are now all pulled out leaving and empty shell and a blank canvas for the design to begin. We have finally decided on a layout for the bus. After much sketching and redesigning I think we have come up with the best use of space and the most efficient way to sleep 8 in our school bus turned RV.

Sketching blueprints..

Sketching blueprints..

After the seats were pulled up the first job was tarring the floor and covering the tar in new sheets of plywood to reinforce the floor and give Toby a base to connect everything to.

All tarred...

All tarred…

Next step is cutting all the boards for the hardwood floor.


We are also in the process of planning our route for our trip out west next summer. We plan on hitting some of the big national parks and need to decide what sites to see so we can book our campsites for next summer. If you have any suggestions on “must see” stops feel free to make suggestions. We are looking for input! 🙂

After we returned home from the birthday party we got to work on yard work. After my week away at camp the yard was looking like a jungle and needed some serious attention. It is amazing how things fall apart when you are gone for a week.  It was so nice to be able to tackle the task of cleaning up the yard and porch!

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We were even able to harvest a huge basket of produce from the garden. Thanks to this rainy summer things are growing very well!

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As the day turned to evening the temperatures began to drop and all the critters became more social, coming out to greet us and say “hello.”



Ellie and Stripey...BFFs!

Ellie and Stripey…BFFs!

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At 6:00 Toby picked up the girls who had returned from youth conference. It was so nice having them home again and hearing all about their adventures.

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Ellie missed Molly while she was away.

Our house has felt a bit like Grand Central Station with everyone coming and going this summer.

We have everyone home for a few days and then Rusty will leave again with the boy scouts for his High Adventure trip. They will be leaving Thursday for a few days of cave exploring, rappelling and white water rafting.

It is sure to be an ADVENTURE!

A Super Special Saturday


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.

Hide and “goat” Seek


There is a reason why baby goats are called “kids.” The similarity between a 3 week old goat and a three-year-old child are uncanny. Both are fearless, playful, and busy…Oh so busy! These characteristics carry into adulthood (At least with goats) but they really shine when they are young. Baby goats are also born with hidden springs in their feet. Much like a 3-year-old child’s philosophy of “why walk when you can run,”

a baby goat asks, “why run when you can bounce?!”

Everything around them becomes something to leap off of…

rocks, fallen branches, tipped over buckets, other animals!

Teddy loves to take advantage of sleeping animals in the field and while they peacefully doze he will leap onto their back and then fly off the other side. Needless to say he is quickly losing popularity with this little stunt that he finds so funny. The other goats and the pig quickly chase him off when he starts using them as playground equipment. The only one who endures it is our male alpaca, Blizzard. He lays there patiently as Teddy uses him as a launching pad. As a result Teddy spends much of his day following Blizzard around.

Blizzard also has fallen into the role of protector to this little orphan goat. When Ellie snuck into the pen yesterday to play with Teddy, Blizzard flipped out, chasing Ellie away.

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The boys have come up with their own game to entertain Teddy:

“Hide and ‘goat’ Seek”

The rules are simple.

While Teddy is distracted (and he is often distracted) they hide behind one of the large rocks in the field and then call his name. He then scans the field looking for them. When he thinks he knows where they are he races over to the rock, jumps on it, and peeks behind to see if he is right. Yesterday it kept Teddy and the boys entertained for quite a while. 🙂

First he counts while the boys hide.

First he counts while the boys hide.

Then he tries to figure out where they are hiding...

Then he tries to figure out where they are hiding…

So close! Keep looking!

So close! Keep looking!

Sometimes he gets distracted by all the fun rocks to jump off.

Sometimes he gets distracted by all the fun rocks to jump off.

But soon he finds them and then the chase begins…

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Life is good when you’re a KID!

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Tests, Chicks, and Roundhouse Kicks


This week has found us running in multiple directions and pulling some long hours as we work to finish up the school year. Many of our activities are coming to a close as we head into the summer months and the kids are all trying to complete the last of their school work by the end of next week.

Here’s a peek at our week:

On Tuesday we had a Relief Society activity at church. It was a finance class on “Saving for a Rainy (or not so Rainy) Day.”

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The girls went with me and helped me set up and decorate with the other ladies on the committee. Pat lent us her impressive collection of piggy banks to use for our centerpieces.

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One of the men from church taught the class and did an amazing job!

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It was informative and entertaining and we all left with many gems of “saving” wisdom.

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While we attended the class Molly and Grace babysat  the little people in the nursery. They love the chance to snuggle some babies. 🙂

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At the end of the class we enjoyed a large variety of “cheap treats,” snacks that can be made on a shoestring budget.

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It was a great night!

On Wednesday we had our final day of state testing.  We were back at Butler County Community College for Gracie’s Literature Keystone Test. She was a bit nervous, but not nearly as nervous as she was last year when she had to complete her Algebra and Biology Keystone Tests.

She had to check in at 8:00 am so we left the house at 7:00 with books and computers packed so that the other kids could work on school while Gracie tested. We dropped her off and then settled into the college lobby where we made ourselves at home for the day with our friends, the Hudaks.

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The kids worked all day, taking breaks every few hours to play video games with friends or enjoy one of the board games we packed. It was a good day. Grace left testing feeling confident that she did well and eager to tell us about the fun games and activities the teachers had planned for the down time in between the testing sessions.

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I’m relieved we are DONE and we don’t have to face state tests again for another year. 🙂

On Thursday we added two more to the Taekwondo family. Grace and Molly decided to join Rusty and Ozzie for Taekwondo lessons. At the school the boys attend they offer a family rate. Once you have 3 children attending it is the same price regardless of how many family members join, so the girls decided to try it out. Thursday was their first class…and they really enjoyed it. They are all trying to talk Tyler into joining them but they haven’t had any luck yet.





While at class, Rusty and Ozzie were informed that they were ready to test for the next belt level. In two weeks they will both be testing. Ozzie is especially thrilled at the prospect of becoming a yellow belt.

Now on to animal news…

In addition to this sweet addition to Patchwork Farm

Teddy doing school with Rusty.

Teddy doing school with Rusty.

we have also added a few more feathered friends this week. Friends from church hatched some poultry eggs in an incubator to give their grandkids the neat experience of watching them hatch. Now that they are all hatched and beginning to grow they asked if we would like to adopt them.

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This week they joined our farm family. There are 3 ducks and quite a few chicks. We look forward to more eggs in our future!

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We also added another batch of bunnies to the mix. We now have 4 litters of bunnies. It is cute to see the bunnies from one nest wander over and snuggle in with the bunnies from another nest. I don’t know how the mommas keep things straight! Here the bunnies from an older litter climbed into the nest of our youngest bunnies. You can see the mix of sizes all snuggled together in one soft, fluffy bunch. 🙂

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And to end a busy week on yet another high note…

Last night was Spring Formal for the girls.

Stay tuned for photos. Needless to say, they had a ball!

Farm Livin’ is the Life for Me


 I feel abundantly blessed to live in the country, own land, have animals and a garden.

I am grateful for the chance Toby and I have to raise kids that get dirty, who have chores, who have learned to cut hay and milk goats, kids that eat tomatoes right off the vine, and chase fireflies on warm summer nights.

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There are lessons learned here on this patch of land.

Lessons like Patience:

Where better to learn patience than on a farm. Before you get what you want, the chores must be done.

Lessons in Reaping and Sowing:

Where better to learn where your food comes from. Firsthand you raise, and sweat, and labor over the plants that will become the food you eat.

Lessons in Hard work:

Where better to learn the lesson of hard work. There are jobs to be done and animals to care for, and whining and complaining won’t help to get the job done. Work strengthens bodies, strengthens souls, and strengthens families.

Lessons in Faith:

Where better to learn those lessons of faith than the time spent on your knees praying for an injured goat or a sick dog.

Lessons in Priorities:

Where better to learn how to prioritize then when your days are filled with so many obligations. You have to learn what is truly  important. Fill you days with learning, and prayer, hard work, and service, making time to play and enjoy the folks you are walking this dirt road with.

And Lessons of Life:

Where better to witness God’s hand and the miracles of life than on a farm. From an early age children witness the miracles of life through the cycle of birth and death. They feel the deep emotions of joy upon a baby animal’s arrival, and mourn the loss of a beloved four-legged friend with its passing.

It is a lifestyle that I never expected to be mine, but feel so blessed to live..

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

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On Mother’s Day we spent the afternoon outside enjoying our little slice of heaven.

It was a perfect day and an ideal time to get some updated photos of the critters who call our barnyard: HOME.


We hope they bring a smile to your face and a little bit of joy to your heart.

For they certainly bring joy to ours!

Teddy receiving his afternoon bottle.

Teddy receiving his afternoon bottle.

Gus, our Guinea fowl, making his presence known in the farm yard.

Blizzard, our alpaca.

Blizzard, our alpaca.

We have some new batches of bunnies that have been born over the last month. There have been three litters born, all about two weeks apart in age. When they are fully grown, the kids will take them to auction to sell. In the meantime we have loved having some new, adorable additions!

Our youngest batch. There are seven in the litter.

Our youngest batch. There are seven in the litter.

Tyler calls them

Tyler calls them “baby hippos” when they are this size. 🙂

Our next litter has four babies. They are about two weeks older and three of them are a beautiful black color.

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The oldest litter just has one baby, an albino bunny that is two weeks older than the middle batch.

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Harley D. Hog is another character that roams the farmyard. Up until a few years ago he lived inside the house, sleeping on Tyler’s bed and using a litter box. When we added the puppies he quickly decided that he would rather hang out with the chickens and goats than be pounced on by energetic dogs. He now comes and goes, with most of his time being spent in the barn.

He is full of personality and always good for a laugh.

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He loves a good belly rub!

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Our newest addition is Teddy, our two week old baby goat. He is good for our mental health. You just can’t be down when you have this little man bouncing around. 🙂

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 “Life is good when the barn is where your happiest memories have been made.”

Off to Rogers, Ohio!


On Friday evening we downsized.

Not our home.

Not our car…

but our family. 🙂

We went from five kids to two for the night, and boy did that feel weird!


The three big kids spent Friday night with Mimi Joy, leaving us with just the two little boys. It was an interesting experience as we got a taste of what life will be like when the older bio kids leave home and it is just us and our adoptive treasures left behind. It is fun to see the “littles” interact and play when the big kids are gone. They do much better one on one and when they heard that the big kids were leaving for the night they eagerly asked if that meant they could have a slumber party. 🙂

We wanted to do something fun with the little boys and take advantage of our numbers being smaller than normal. After much debate, and after throwing around the ideas of seeing a movie or going out to dinner, we decided instead to just go out to Rodgers, Ohio for the evening.


We love Rogers!

Rogers is a huge flea market/ farm auction about 30 minutes away from us that takes place every Friday throughout the year. We don’t get out there much in the winter months but once things warm up we can be found out there most Friday nights… when Toby gets home from work. This was our first time back after a few months away.

We decided that since we were going out there that we would take George, our pygmy buck, to sale. We initially bought him to breed with Cleo, our other pygmy goat, but had no luck. Since he wasn’t really adding anything to the farmyard, and the kids weren’t really attached to him, we decided to take him to auction.

When we arrived the first thing we did was check out the livestock. The kids love looking at the animals, and even though there is nothing new or unique about what they see (after all, they do live on a farm!) they still love “window shopping.”


We noticed a few baby goats up for auction and talked about the possibility of bidding on one if the prices stayed low enough, and if we got enough from George’s sale to pay for the new addition, so that it was an even exchange.


While waiting for the auction to start we strolled around the flea market. Many of the sellers have permanent booths and we all have our favorite stops. The real fun of Rogers, however, is the hunt…

Walking up and down aisles never knowing what treasure you might stumble across.

On this particular night we found:

2 pineapples for $1.00

New windshield wipers for both vehicles for $5.00/each

A large bag of cashews for $3.00

and a free slices of watermelon.


Where else can you go and buy new tires, potted plants, DVDs, a pair of sunglasses , and a baby cow…

all in one place. 🙂

That is what I call “One Stop Shopping!”

A we walked around, Toby surprised the boys with a dollar to spend on whatever they chose. You would have thought he gave them a $100. They were so excited. Then the challenge became: what to choose!


They were especially tempted by the used matchbox cars that one booth had for sale. Both my boys are car lovers.


As it neared the time for the auction to begin we headed back to the barn. On the way Toby bought us all a hot dog for dinner. When it was time for the goats to come up for auction the boys informed me that they needed to use the bathroom. So Toby stayed to bid on animals while I did a bathroom run. When we got back the auction was almost done. Toby informed us that the goats were going for too high a price so we could go ahead and leave. I started walking toward the car when Toby started pulling us toward the office.


“Where are we going, Daddy?” the boys asked.

It was then that Toby informed them that we had to pay for our new goat.

The boys squealed with delight. They didn’t know which goat Toby had won, and they wanted to be surprised, so they closed their eyes as Toby went in to pick up the new addition.


He walked out with this sweet thing:


Oh, the boys were beside themselves.

“Molly is going to be so happy!” were Tyler’s first words.

The next words out of their mouths were, “Can I feed it first?!”

The goat is less than a week old so it will be on a bottle for a little while. When we got home they boys took turns feeding Teddy and then we tucked him into “bed.” 🙂


The boys ended up having a slumber party in the living room where they watched “Charlotte’s Web” on the couch until they fell asleep.


 It was a wonderful night with our little boys and it was fun making special memories with them

that are just their own. 🙂

The road less traveled


 Jim Fisher has been quoted as saying:

“Not a moment of life is wasted on a farm. Others have been more places but none have out lived me.”

Recently one of the government employees in charge of Ozzie’s care and well-being asked us to justify our life style choice and explain why we felt growing up in the country was the best life choice for Ozzie. The words were spoken with obvious disdain by someone who was more familiar and comfortable with city life than life on a farm. It saddens me when people, who have little understanding of our lifestyle, pass judgment on it.  Whether we are addressing the fact that we home school, have adopted, live without cable, raise animals, don’t buy our children cell phones, or expect our children to participate in the well-being of our family unit through daily chores; there are always some that express the feelings that we are somehow doing our children a disservice by not buying into the world’s definition of what a happy childhood looks like.

We have chosen to take the road less traveled.

It has been expressed by others that our lifestyle choice is a selfish one, and that our children are missing out…on what, I’m not sure…but here are some of the great blessings that have come from this life we have been blessed with…

My children have known the joy of holding a baby animal, just minutes old, as well as the profound experience of holding an animal as it takes its last breath.

My children have come to understand that their food doesn’t just come from a supermarket shelf but from the sweat and labor of hard work.

My children have felt the earth between their toes and dirt beneath their nails as they have planted seeds in the ground.

They have experienced the faith of waiting on a seed to sprout and the labor of caring for and reaping the benefits of a garden.

My children have created life long, belly-laugh memories as they have chased goats off the roof and pigs off the highway.

My children have eaten eggs, hours old, and fudge made from the goat’s milk they collected themselves.

My children have experienced the childhood magic of laying under the stars, building tree houses, splashing in creeks, and catching frogs.

They have learned the lessons of hard work and diligence. They have split wood, stacked logs and raked hay.

My children have chores.

They wash clothes, cook meals, tend animals, and clean up their messes. We don’t give our children chores because we hate them or because we are too lazy to do it ourselves. We give our children chores so that they can experience the satisfaction of a job well done.

My children have been told “No” and have experienced the disappointment of not getting what they want…not because we love to disappoint them but because we are training them to be grateful rather than entitled.

My children have learned, through opportunities to serve, that the greatest joy in life comes from thinking of others before yourself.

My home is not perfect. It is often dirty, noisy, and smells of animals.

My children, also, are often dirty, noisy and smell of animals. 🙂

But, they are happy

and they are kind.

My life is not perfect or pristine. Perhaps in the eyes of the world this life I choose to live is less than ideal,

but I have seen great blessings come from this life I have chosen and this life we have chosen to give our children.

Molly and Pop pop

Molly and Pop pop

On Saturday we went to visit our second favorite farm, The Homestead. We traveled out to Ohio to spend the day with my parents and celebrate a belated Mother’s Day with my mom. It was a picture perfect day. The sun was shining and the temperature was ideal. When we arrived the kids headed to the barn right away to see the animals. Ozzie was eager to say hello to George, the donkey, and the other kids couldn’t wait to hold the two chicks that had just hatched.




George and Grace

George and Grace

After some fun on the farm we all hopped in the car and drove over to one of our favorite places in Amish Country…

Hershberger’s Farm and Bakery.


It is a neat Amish store that sells local wares, homemade baked goods, as well as farm animals. When you pull up the first thing you see are goats on the barn roof. (Unlike our goats, they are supposed to be there.) There is a set of stairs for them to climb up on. A pulley system is set up so that you can buy ice cream cones full of feed and send them up onto the roof. Inside the barn there are animals to pet and buy. There are goats, chickens, pigs, sheep, rabbits, ducks and puppies. We enjoy visiting Hershberger’s any time of the year but it is especially fun in the spring with all of the baby animals.

Tyler and a baby lamb.

Tyler and a baby lamb.

Rusty and a baby goat

Rusty and a baby goat

One of the most impressive animals at Hershberger’s Farm is Big Ben, the huge Belgian horse that lives there. He is the biggest horse in Holmes County. He measures 19H 3″ tall and 3,006 lb. He is quite the site to see!



After having our fill of baby animal snuggles we headed next door to the bakery to enjoy a Holmes County delicacy- fry pies. Fry pies are pockets of delicious goodness: a fried, glazed pastry filled with various pie fillings. My parents treated us all to one. The kids had fun choosing their flavor and then tasting each other’s choices. We sat in the shade visiting and watching two baby horses play in the field across the street while we enjoyed our treat.


We spent the remainder of our day together enjoying fried chicken for lunch, playing games in the yard, and catching up. It was  a wonderful day.


Perhaps one of the greatest occupational hazards of being human is our propensity to judge each other’s life choices.

Bottle feed or Breast feed

Public school or Home school

City life or Country life

Big family or Small Family

College education or Learn a trade

Working mom or Stay-at-home mom

Whatever the issue, whatever the choice, there seems to be a passionate defense launched by both sides.

I suppose the lesson in all of this is that…

“Sometimes the people around you won’t understand your journey

but that is OK,

it’s not their journey to understand.”


“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

– Robert Frost

Country Moments


“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.” -Marc Riboud

This weekend the girls and I went out to the Homestead to visit my parents for a “girls only weekend.” The original plan was to take Zoey, the little girl we have been doing respite care for, with us and leave Ozzie, her brother, home with the boys but when Friday came Zoey was running a high temperature and ended up staying home with her foster mom. Ozzie still came and was eager for his “boys’ weekend.” (More on that in a future blog) After picking up Ozzie and dropping him off at home the girls and I headed to Ohio for a fun weekend with Mimi and Pop pop. The plan was to relax, do some Christmas shopping, see a movie and go out to lunch. We arrived Friday night just in time for dinner. After a tasty meal we played board games. In the morning Gracie joined Mimi and Pop pop in the barn for morning chores with her camera in hand. Her photography assignment for this week was a lesson on photo journalism. This week she learned the art of telling a story using only photos. She decided to tell the story of life at the Homestead…of country moments.

Here is her story….

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Grace McCleery #2

Grace McCleery #3

Grace McCleery #4





Grace McCleery #5

“What I like about photography is that it takes moments that should have been forgotten, and just freezes them, and allows us to share it with everyone and share it with future generations. But there is also a sense of secrets of the picture, or the stuff you don’t know, or don’t see. You don’t really know what happened before or after a picture. It’s like time is frozen in that moment.”-Jesus Holguin

The prancing and pawing of eight tiny hoofs


 Yesterday was a busy day. The morning began with the arrival of a psychologist at my door. He had been hired by the school to reevaluate Gracie for her IEP. We were told to expect the testing to take 2-3 hours.  While testing was taking place in the diningroom I made a valiant, yet failed effort, to do school with Tyler in the livingroom. With every “shhhh” and ” we need to be quiet” his volume seemed to rise. Taking advantage of the fact I couldn’t fully react since I had testing happening 10 feet away he quickly figured out the advantage he had and my day began to spin out of control. The testing ended up taking 4 hours rather than the expected 2-3 hours so in the midst of Gracie’s testing the piano teacher arrived for lessons. Molly began her lessons in the livingroom after I assured the piano teacher that the organ could in no way be louder or more distracting to Grace than her little brother had been all morning. My home quickly took on the sound and feel of Grand Central Station as Rusty tried to occupy Tyler in his room, Molly pounded out songs in the livingroom, Gracie had her IQ tested in the diningroom and Winnie raced from room to room slimming everyone as she desperately pleaded for attention. In the midst of the chaos I tried to get things ready for two visitors we have spending the weekend with us. Soon our piano lessons were done and Gracie’s evaluation was completed. We all collapsed in the livingroom to put our feet up for a minute before we began to prepare for our evening activities when…

“In a twinkling, I heard on the roof, the prancing and pawing of eight tiny hoofs.”

We looked at each other in puzzlement. Toby wasn’t home…Tyler was accounted for…

So, who was on the roof?!

Molly’s eyes opened wide with realization.  “Goats!” she shouted as she raced out the door with the rest of us on her heels.


Sure enough we looked up on the roof and Gracie and Molly’s goats were jumping and kicking up their heels with sheer joy. Our goats, who are frequent escape artists, had discovered a new place to play. They discovered that if they jumped up on the air conditioner at the back of the house they could then jump onto the roof.


Tyler and I watched as the older kids raced to the back of the house to climb up and retrieve them. We watched as they climbed higher and became even more daring.


The girls were  nervous wrecks as they tried to coax them off the roof, certain at any moment the goats would jump off the edge and break their necks..


Molly was finally able to coax them over the gable and down the back side of the roof…


It was then that I decided my life was more “Ringling Brother’s Circus” than “Grand Central Station.”

Wecome to my personal three ring circus…The Greatest Show on Earth. 😉