Tuesday, May 31, 2011


No pictures today.   I just enjoyed the moments over the weekend and left the camera behind.  Our weekend was very full.

Saturday our entire family attended a wedding together.  The couple getting married are both youth leaders for the youth group our three oldest attend.  Can you believe that at the close of the wedding ceremony, they truly enjoyed their very first kiss.  What an amazing testimony of patience and discipline.

Sunday Mike and I went away for the night to a resort town just 45 minutes from us.  Our 19th anniversary was yesterday.  This was the first time we had been away overnight since I was pregnant with Isaac (13 years ago).  With the newest baby due to arrive soon we knew getting away again wouldn't be a possibility for another three years.  It was a special time of renewal for us and we are so grateful for all of the children working together to take care of the house, animals and each other.

I have been busy getting things organized for the upcoming week, always lots to do each day for our business, putting in the rest of the garden, and enjoying this beautiful summer weather.

Warm wishes, Tonya

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Growing, Growing, Growing

Onions, Lettuce and Carrots

Sparky and Madeline

Chicks at one week

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Yarn Along - Knitting Updates and Homesteading Book

I am joining along with Ginny at Small Things again this Wednesday to update my three baby projects and share about a book I have been reading.

The simple garter stitch cardigan from Simple Knits for Cherished Babies is coming along well - one more front side to knit and than the finishing bands.

The basketweave baby blanket is coming along too.

The baby bonnet just needs the bottom band and button.
I found this book at the library and am enjoying  being reminded about why we chose to live this lifestyle in the first place and has given us some things to think about as it is so easy to get caught up in the world and the ways of the consumer society.

I look forward to catching up with your handwork projects and what you are reading.

Warm wishes, Tonya

Monday, May 23, 2011

Simple Joys

Wishing you a week filled with simple joys,

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Kids and Chicks

We are enjoying all the new babies that have been added to our little farmstead this spring.

Mike finished the outside shelter for the goats that is within their outdoor fenced area.  We still have to enlarge their fenced in area, but it is a start.  They are still getting bottle fed three times a day and we will continue that for at least another month.  It is so sweet to hear them MAAAAAAing whenever I walk  nearby on my way to the garden or chicken coop. 

And just yesterday, 6 more chicks joined us, 4 comets and 2 rhode island reds - we also ordered 6 auracanas but they are not going to arrive for another month, so we may not get them as I don't think I want to start over again in four more weeks with little ones.

When we picked out the chicks at the farm store, Sarah chose one that has some obvious challenges.  We think she is probably blind as one eye is a dull color and smaller than normal and the other is also smaller than normal, but still black.  She is also smaller in size than the other chicks.  My first reaction was to think, oh my - why not choose healthy ones - these are our future egg providers.  Then I realized how selfless she was being and how selfish I was being.  At home, she shed some tears as she began to realize that maybe her chosen chick wouldn't thrive as well as the others and she feared that she might die. 

This morning the little chick ("Eyes" as Sarah  named her) is still doing well and Sarah continues to hold, care and give her lots of love.  Didn't Jesus teach, no actually command us to take care of those less fortunate than oursleves?  Thank you Sarah for the reminder.

Friday, May 20, 2011

New Instruments

Two new instruments have joined our home this week.

This first is one that Isaac purchased himself by making lots of these ~

for a women that grows pansies and sells them as flower boxes.

he bought himself an electric guitar.  I am not oh so excited about this particular instrument but it is great fun to see his enjoyment and satisfaction of having earned it himself.

And this banjo ukulele that Mike bought at our local auction house.  It was made in the 20's and it is in  good condition.  It came with a lesson book that was published during the same time period. 

I much prefer when the children play their acoustic and string instruments, but I also work hard to support their passions - and a rock, symphonic metal  band it is for the older boys.

Warm wishes, Tonya

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Knitting and More Knitting

a garter stitch cardigan, infant size, of Plymouth Yarn, Encore D.K., which is a 75% acrylic and 25% wool, purchased at my local yarn store for $3.90 a skein, so this will be an affordable sweater... the pattern is from one of my three or so knitting books I own, Simple Knits for Cherished Babies

this is a basket weave baby blanket in the same kind of yarn, but worsted weight, using a pattern I jotted down on some scrap paper - very simple

last on my needles is this modern baby bonnet from one of my favorite knitting books, Vintage Knits for Modern Babies, I am using up some cotton yarn I found in my stash

Hmm... it seems that all three projects are for baby....

Joining in with Ginny this week.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rainy Spring Days

Although the rain makes things seem peaceful and calm outside, things inside have been a bit  hectic as we spend our third day in a row mostly inside after getting used to the joys of being outside so much of the day.  The volume is rising, indoor obstacle courses are being made and the cushions are not staying on the couch.

The young ones do go outside for a little bit at a time to feed the ducks, check on the toads, or visit with the baby goats.

I have taken the opportunity to do some cleaning.  After feeling overwhelmed about where to start in terms of housekeeping, above and beyond the dishes, laundry, and sweeping - I think I am going to have each day of the week be reserved for a particular room. 
Monday - Our Bedroom
Tuesday - Dining Room
Wednesday - Kitchen
Thursday - Upstairs
Friday - Living Room
(dear husband deep cleans the bathroom on Thursdays and I give it a quick wipe down nearly each day)
So today, I washed our windows in the bedroom, shook out the lace cover on our bedstand, washed down the lamp and clock and our bureau.  I  don't plan to get to too caught up with this and fret if I miss a day because if it were nice today I would be outside planting more potatoes and the bedroom dust would have to wait until next Monday.,

Warm wishes, Tonya

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Formal

Our oldest son, Thomas, was invited to attend a formal last night by his friend that attends a private Christian school.   A special time and really neat to see them dressed in formal attire.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Just Our Days

With a stubborn tooth abscess that is causing oh so much pain , (the dentist wanted to wait until my last trimester or after the baby is born to pull it, but hopefully, I can get it removed on Monday because it is not draining even being on antibiotics), I appreciate the ordinary even more.

Mike and Isaac building the goats a shelter in their fenced in area.  That is our beagle, not one of the goats.

I baked a lemon yogurt cake yesterday and after it was frosted, Abraham took the beeswax candles out and wanted to sing Happy Birthday - so the children sang Happy Birthday to Nobody....

Abby constructed a teepee.

Toad collecting... Abraham picked up this mating pair from the pond's edge.  We returned them to the water right away:)

Thursday, May 12, 2011


I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that said,
"There won't be peace until the power of love is greater than the love of power."

Something to think about.
Warm wishes,

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Reading and Knitting for the Yarn Along

Joining in again with Ginny from Small Things.

Just about finished with the other sock for Sarah.  And I cast on a sock for Abby in a wool/nylon sock yarn blend that is self striping and I am using the same two needle sock pattern that I mentioned last week.  For Abby, who is a size 3/4 in youth shoes, I cast on size 2 needles, 60 stitches.

Yesterday two goat related publications came in the mail.  One is a catalog of goat supplies from Hoegger Supply and the other is Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats.
It seems that I just can't read enough about them lately.

What are you reading and what handwork project is in your basket or on your counter or table?
Warm wishes,

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Baseball Days

Baseball season has started.  Isaac, our 12 year old, loves the game.  Generally, our whole family attends each game, the little ones usually play on the playground if there is one in between visiting me at the blanket and chairs (wonderful knitting time, of course).  Dear husband helps to coach the team.   

Choosing to live as we do, we limit activites for each child because if we were on the go all the time, we wouldn't have the family together as much as we should, be able to live modestly, or get the work done that is required here on our farmstead.  (Having one vehicle also helps to keep this in check.)   But, baseball season is special and it is a short season, and playing sure brings a smile to Isaac's face.

Warm wishes,

Monday, May 9, 2011


Of course lots of gardening went on and the goat fence was finished (thank you dear husband!)  The goats are growing, the lawn was mowed, and Abby had her ballet recital yesterday, on Mother's Day - a very nice way to spend the afternoon.

Happy Monday.
Warm wishes, Tonya

Saturday, May 7, 2011

My Mom

So thankful that she gave birth to me even when she became pregant at the age of 20 and my father was just 19; even while in middle of her college education.

Even though their marriage ended in divorce when I was seven, I am thankful that through financial trials and hardships that she never made us feel poor and I can't remember hearing her complain even while she worked full time as a preschool teacher and at times, worked two part time jobs so that we could live in decent housing, eat decent food, even providing for my sister and I to take dance lessons.

I am grateful that she introduced me to frugal living and gardening and that she would make our Halloween costumes each year using what we could find.

So thankful that she would take my sister and I camping during the summer - just the three of us.

My mother's attitude when hitting a road block was always - "ok, if we can't do it this way, let's figure out a different way to make it work." This has stuck with me through my life.

Although our relationship during my teenage years was rough, I am thankful that we are now very close friends. Even now when we live a five hour drive away from one another, and we don't see each other as often as we would like, just knowing that she is a phone call away is comforting.

Thank you Mom, I love you.

Love, Tonya

And Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Simple Food

With the last few days being rainy and cool, I reflected on the simple food I prepare for my family.

One night we had quiche for supper.  I was so happy a couple of years ago, to finally find a simple pie crust recipe that is easy to roll out.  It is from The Amish Cook.

Never-Fail Pie Crust

2 cups flour (all whole wheat or half white, half wheat)
3/4 t. salt
 2/3 cup lard or butter
2 t apple cider vinegar
1 egg
3 1/2 T. ice water

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt.  Cut in the lard or butter with a pastry blender until the mixutre is uniform.  In a separate bowl (I just use the same bowl to have less dishes to wash...) blend the vinegar, egg, and water.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, pour the vinegar mixture into the well, and stir until blended.  Work the dough into a ball.  Divide this ball into two.  For each pie crust, press one ball into a flat circle and roll into 1/8" thick.

With some local spinach, our onions and garlic, our hen's eggs, and some cheese, quiche is a satisfying meal.

Another evening, I made soup on the woodstove and baked some muffins and biscuits to go with it.

Carrots, Onions, Rice and Local Pasture Raised Sausage

I am looking forward to our meals transitioning to reflect the offerings of spring very soon.

What are you eating?
Warm wishes,

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Knitting Socks and Reading about Goats

Joining in with Ginny of Small Things this Wednesday for her Knit Along....

After trying to work a pair of socks on double pointed needles in the round, I gave up because it all felt too uncomfortable.  I then searched for a two needle sock pattern because I really want to knit everyone socks and mittens this spring and summer - nice small portable projects to carry with me outside and in.

I came across this pattern and was so happy with my first sock.  It fits Sarah very well. They are knit using Plymouth Yarn, Encore DK, 75% acrylic and 25% wool, purchased at our local yarn shop. For $3.90 a skein (50 gm), it should be about $5.00 for a pair for the children.  For Sarah, who takes about a size 13 shoe, I knit on size 3 needles and cast on 48 stitches.  I plan to increase or decrease in multiples of 4 to make different sizes for everyone.

Now that we have the two baby goats, I am eager to learn all I can about their care.  I found this book at our library, Goat Song - A Seasonal Life, A Short Hisotry of  Herding, and the Art of Making Cheese.  So far I have enjoyed reading about this family's experiences.

Looking forward to hearing and seeing what you are knitting and reading.

Warm wishes, Tonya

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Trout Lily Cake, Stonescapes, and Pollywogs

Abby made a chocolate cake and added trout lily blossoms to decorate it.

I knew Nolan had been working on cleaning out our little drainage streams on our property, but it brought a smile to my face when I noticed that he had even added a rock border on one.

Later I noticed Nolan working with some of the younger children.  This pipe is from our well overflow (there is no electricity involved, but for some reason there is this excess of water that has to flow out somewhere).  The pipe was by the edge of the pond making a muddy mess and now it is rather peaceful to look at.  We are so blessed to have this water source for watering the gardens and the animals.  It is also fine for drinking and flows year round, so we are never without a source of water.

Abraham has been spending time catching pollywogs and tadpoles.

So thankful for spring.
Warm wishes,

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Growing Food

While the rest of the family is off at the baseball field helping to fix the fencing and play on the playground late this Sunday afternoon,  I thought I would take a moment to share some of what we have been doing here on our little homestead.

The warmth of the sun has been helping to dry the soil and really get things growing.  The snap peas and lettuce have sprouted, which I am so excited about - our first food of the year is on its way.

Mike (dear husband) has been putting up the fencing for the goats.  He is making good progress.  We are just using saplings and fencing that we have found, was left behind, or given to us.  We truly don't buy new things all that often.

I have been doing lots in the gardens.  I am expanding them quite a bit.  Last year was our first planting season here and all of the garden areas are brand new - there was not an existing garden - so it does take time.  Our strategy has been to pile compost into the back of our old Suburban (which we have access to for free from a neighbor that has 5 -6 year old composted cow manure - pure black and beautiful stuff!), and then shovel it out into piles on our property.  From there, I wheelbarrow several loads a day to wherever I am planting and just put it right on top of the soil.  If there are a lot of weeds or grass, I just turn it over with a shovel and shake out the soil and then throw the weeds into the chicken's fenced in area.  We do not till the gardens. 

In between the rows I put the chicken house little (in other words, poopy old hay), to provide some protection from weeds and then to become part of the soil for next year. 

So far I have planted about half of the onions, lettuce, snap peas, carrots and parsnips.  For flowers, sweet peas and bachelor buttons.  Next on my list is mixing half sand and half compost to make the mounds for early potato planting.  The small potatoes we over wintered in the basement look great and are growing little sprouts.

Oh, I could just spend the entire day outside when it is as lovely as it has been.  It is amazing how quickly the time goes when you are working.  However, I think everyone would get quite hungry and the house would soon be a mess, and there are always orders to work on - so it is a balance of time.  I am so grateful, though, for the time I do spend outside growing food for our family.

Happy May!

"Welcome be thou, faire, fresshe May."
Geoffrey Chaucer

Warm wishes,