Good bye city life! Our family designed and built an industrial but old fashioned farmhouse on nine acres. Now we are building our homestead ~ or is it building us? Grab your boots and join us on our journey to country living.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A horse of his own

Jonah got a horse of his own today.  He is a registered three year old Appaloosa gelding - Aliso's Shining Star.  Jonah hasn't decided what to call him yet.  He is sweet tempered and really cute.  He is roan with white flecks and a thick white blanket on his rump.  He also has a star and snip on his face and a blonde tail.

Jonah introducing himself as the leader
I think they are going to make a great pair.
First ride at home
Do you have any good suggestions on "barn" names?  So far we have come up with: Snip, Star, Snow, Speck.  And it doesn't have to start with "S".

Monday, November 29, 2010

30 minutes of Sam-ME

Our 4 month old puppy, Sammie, is growing like crazy.  Right now she is all legs.  And in the morning, life is all about her!  We call it "30 minutes of me", Sam-Me to be exact.  As we get up, she greets each of us like a little kid on Christmas morning.  Here she eagerly awaits the boys to come downstairs for petting and playing.
My husband puts in the majority of  "me" time since he is the first one up.  And then we all share in the rest.  It's hard not to be happy in the morning with Sammie around.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent wreath

Today starts Advent, the four weeks that lead up to Christmas, and at our house that means candlelight dinners.  How I love that!  Yes, we have an advent wreath and it sits on our dining room table every year.  But instead of lighting it only on Sundays, we light it up every night while we eat.  For me, it is a daily reminder of where the focus of the holiday should be ~ on Christ. And on Sundays when we light another candle, we read a scripture about what that candle represents before we bless our meal.  In December in the Red Farmhouse, evening meals are enjoyed by candlelight, even if takeout pizza is on the menu.

Just so you know, the advent wreath is a circle of evergreens representing eternal life. It is adored with three purple candles representing Mary & Joseph, the Wise Men, and the Shepherds.  The pink candle signifies the Angels that announced Jesus' birth to the world.  The center white candle is lit on Christmas morning and represents Christ.  It is the birthday candle.  We save these white candles from each year and decorate with them in clusters at Christmas time.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Last flowers

Old man winter is on his way to Oklahoma, so they say.  70's today, 30's tomorrow.  Extra chores have been on the list to get the farm ready for a freeze...
  • wood inside by stove
  • extra blankets washed and on beds
  • plenty of feed in bins
  • pasture faucets drained so they don't freeze
  • clean chicken coop and add heat lamp
  • extra hay for the piglets
  • cover flower beds & strawberries with straw
and one more...
  • pick the last of the garden flowers,
put them in my pretty baby cup,
and set them in the window where they can watch the frost safely from the sill.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cranberry Relish

Cranberries are a must at Thanksgiving dinner.  But how many times have you seen a full dish of them when the meal was over?  That won't happen if you make these cranberries.  They are delicious! Once you taste this you will never purchase that nasty canned stuff again.  I promise.

Cranberry Relish
2  - 12oz. packages fresh cranberries
2 1/2 cups sugar
1  - 12oz. jar orange marmalade
1 cup chopped walnuts  (you can omit these if you don't like nuts)
makes 3 pints

In a large saucepan, stir sugar into cranberries.

Cook on medium - high heat, stirring often but not constantly.  You don't want the sugar to burn.

Keep cooking until the sugar and the juices from the berries mix together.

Cook a little more until the plump berries pop and the juices start to foam.

Stir in orange marmalade and walnuts.

Now it smells like Thanksgiving in the kitchen!  Spoon into jars or freezable containers.

You can process just like jam but I just stick it in the freezer or refrigerator.  It doesn't last past Christmas around here.

fyi: it's great on toast or turkey sandwiches too!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving book

Each year at this time, I get out a special book.

We all know the story of the first Thanksgiving by the Pilgrims and Indians but what happened before? Why were they so thankful that year?  This book sweetly tells the story of tragedy, perseverance, and faith of these people.  It reminds our family of the things that we should be truly thankful for.  This week we are tossing aside our regular history lessons and reading this instead.  It's become a tradition.
Over the years, we have done a few things that made Thanksgiving memorable.  Things that made it more than food and football. 

Often we have 5 kernels of corn by each place setting as a reminder of the Pilgrims daily rations one winter before the first Thanksgiving.  How blessed we are to have food on the table.  The kernels are a poinant reminder of simple blessings of daily needs.

We also share things that we are thankful for.  One year, our boys made a Mayflower ship out of a milk carton and every one put a slip of paper in it with what they were thankful for.  We laughed and cried.  Our family was thankful for everything from God's forgiveness to diapers!

No matter what, we pause to pray and thank God for all the blessings He has given to us.  This year I am especially grateful for all we have.  Our new farm has been so much work but it is exactly what we have always wanted. For that I am very thankful.

Added to that is food and football and that is good too.

What do you do that makes Thanksgiving special for your family?

Saturday, November 20, 2010


You know you are living on a farm when the most important wardrobe decision each day is which boots to put on.

when you find yourself dressed like this.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pull up a stool, sit, and spin

Barstools - they can add a lot of character to your kitchen.  So when we picked some out for our new farmhouse, we thought long and hard about what we wanted.  We started out wanting the black saddle seat stools.  However, seated next to white cabinets and having 3 boys, I knew it would only be a matter of time before that black paint was on that white.  In addition to that, we wanted simple, backless, clean lined, durable, and oh yeah, we didn't want to pay too much. Asking too much?

This is what we found - Stainless steel spin barstools
from Crate & Barrel.

I am happy to say that after one year, they still look like we just took them out of the box.

They have the feel of an old fashioned soda fountain stool but with a contemporary flair.
Pull up a stool, sit and spin.  They're lots of fun.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cute pumpkin cupcakes

Not pumpkin flavored, just pumpkin pretty.  I love cupcakes but who doesn't?  They are being devored right now and I must say my boys don't appreciate the cupcake's charming looks as much as they should. So I had to show them to you.

All you need is a yellow cake mix (butter recipe, of course), orange icing, pecans for stems and green icing through a leaf shaped cake decorating tip. 
Make some for your little pumpkins.
And yummy!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Garland to wreath

Finally, I put some fall decorations in the farmhouse.  We have been so busy, I hadn't done it yet.  I didn't think we could have Thanksgiving without them though. 

Generally, I keep it simple.  And this is simple - a Pottery Barn pitcher with a plain pumpkin wreath.

Only it's not really a wreath.  Wreaths generally cost more than I want to spend.

Garlands are usually cheaper and work just as well when you put them together.

Just overlap them a little to even out the thickness and twist the wires around each other to connect.

And then you have a wreath for your table.  Just add something in the middle. 
Or... you can hang it just be sure to put the parts that connect together on the sides.
Hope you are having a happy fall.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Coughing calves

Last Friday we heard the calves coughing.  It's a little alarming when you have an animal and it gets sick for the first time.  It's also a little intimidating when they need medication and they weight 600 lbs! 

Time to call in backup...
The rancher down the road whom we bought the calves from has been very helpful.  He came over with the shots after we penned them up.  Had to build a temporary pen first.

Then we decided to try to halter break the heifers.
Wow! I'm glad he was at the end of that rope instead of me.

After some mud sliding, the "little" girl escaped with the lariat on.

And we spent the whole weekend trying to figure out how to get it off.  Jared, our youngest finally hooked it with a walking cane while she was eating.  I think they are a little big for halter training.  We will wait for babies in a year or so and train them.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Homeschooling - how & why we do it

Homeschooling - it sounds like a hard thing to do.  Honestly, sometimes it is.  But often difficult things are the most rewarding.  And homeschooling has been rewarding for our family.

We are on our eleventh year in our homeschooling journey.  I call it a journey because it is an ever changing road that we decided to walk down.  I never thought we could make it this far.  Somehow it has just worked for our family.  Now it just seems a normal part of life.  Teaching our boys spelling and math has been an extension of teaching them to eat with a spoon and to walk.  Each year we evaluate each boy to decide if it is best for them.  So far, homeschooling has been successful for each of them and so we continue on our road of learning together.  I must admit, over the years I have learned as much as they have, not only about phonics and history but more importantly about myself.

Today, I wanted to answer a few questions about homeschooling that I have been asked over the last decade...

1.  Why did you decide to homeschool your children?

I had an excellent example, my sister in law, that homeschooled before me.  Silently, I observed them for years mulling it over in my mind.  I would ask myself, "Can I do that?"  When our oldest, went to Pre-K, he started getting in trouble.  He was a very sweet boy and obedient but wiggly as most boys are and so he became very unhappy.  We decide to give homeschooling a try.  And then I knew, "I really can do this!"

Jared on his first day of kindergarten at the dining room table

2. What is your philosophy of education?

Our philosophy is simple: Build a foundation of faith.  Add to that the basics: math, science, grammar and writing.  Polish it off with an understanding of history and good age appropriate literature.
Teach them they can pick up any book at any time and learn something from it.  Encourage each one in their strengths and help them along in their weaknesses.  And have a little fun along the way.

Guess what we were studying here?
 3.  What has been the best thing about homeschooling for you?

That's hard to pick just one thing.  I'll give you the top two:
Character development has been the biggest plus in homeschooling our boys.  It has given us the opportunity to know them better as they have grown, deal with issues that arise (and they always do), and mold and shape their character in a way that we never could have without homeschooling.
And second, they remain the best of friends to the point that they all still want to share a room together at ages 16, 13 and 11.  I hope that this will last their entire lives.  The truth is that friends come and friends go but close brothers last a lifetime. 

4.  What has been the hardest thing about homeschooling?

The knowledge that we are soley responsible for their education.  It can be an overwhelming thing if you dwell on it.  Now that I have one that will soon be off to college, I realize that taking one step at a time down a long road is the best way to get there.

I have also comforted myself in the thought that no one wants my children to succeed more than I do.

5.  How do you know what to teach?

Now days, there are endless options for curriculum.  Most are very user friendly and require little work for the mom-teacher.  This is a great thing especially when you have multiple ages.  Whenever we can combine history, literature, or science and still be age appropriate for each child, we do. 

Here is my list of go-tos:
Math U See
Apologia Science
Easy Grammar
Institute for Excellence in Writing
Spelling Power
Wordly Wise Vocabulary
and my favorite - Sonlight literature and history

6.  What do you do if there is something you just don't think you are qualified to teach?

It wasn't until high school that this even became an issue.  With our oldest son reaching that stage a few years ago, we started taking advantage of private and group tutoring for science and math.  Letting some very qualified ladies teach the things that were out of my comfort zone has worked out great for us.  It has allowed me to still oversee the completion of the schoolwork and step in to help if needed but leave the heavy teaching to someone else.  This year, I am trading off a subject with another mom.  Her girls come to take drawing from me and she teaches writing composition to my boys.  I love that.  I also love that she doesn't mind teaching them outside even if it's on a fence post.

7.  What about socialization?

There are so many opportunities for socializing with other homeschooled kids that you can not have enough time to do schoolwork.  Over the years, my boys have been involved with a homeschooled Boy Scout troop and a weekly PE class as well as art classes, pottery, playgroups, book clubs, and even a Shakespeare club.  I had a woman ask me once how my children were going to learn to stand in line.  Funny, we were at that very moment in a check out line at Walmart.  Good socialization, in my opinion, is a child being able to relate and communicate with any age of person, something that homeschooled kids often do well.

8.  If "school" doesn't take as long at home as it does in a classroom, what do you do with the rest of the day?

Oh, that has been the fun part and one of the reasons we built this farm.  Keeping kids busy is important.  Boys, especially as they get older, need something to do that makes them feel important.  And they sure don't need more time in front of a screen.  We have tried over the years to encourage life skills and hobbies. 

Doing things like properly saddling your horse and taking it for a ride,

building something on their own,

caring for animals (yes, even falcons),

playing thinking games,
or even working for spending money, are all ways that our boys spend their days.  "Find something that you love, and do that", is what our boys hear us say on a regular basis.  Education should not be all about the books.

I realize and appreciate that homeschooling is not for everyone but I am thankful that I have this opportunity with my boys.  Even if there are days that I wish they would go get on the big yellow bus that stops in front of our farm everyday.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ahead of the curve according to CNBC

It appears that we were ahead of the curve according to an article on CNBC today.
2,100 sq. ft., open living area, no hallways, detached garage, energy efficient houses with big front porches.
Sounds farmiliar to me.  It's so nice to be trend setters.

Picking exterior paint

Picking out a paint color is a big decision especially when you have a house with all siding.  You definitely don't want to redo it because you don't like it.  We looked at lots of pictures before we made our decision.  It finally came down to this... 

While we were building our house,  everyday we drove by this tiny old farmhouse that is painted red.  I loved it!  My dear husband wasn't sure about it though so we experimented with some different choices.  The dark green was my second choice.  For us, the yellow seemed too feminine and the taupe too plain. 

To decide, we painted the front of the house like this.  We bought quarts of 6 different colors and tried them out.  Everyone that came to visit or work on the house gave their opinion.  I had one city inspector say, "Any of them except that red!"  You should have seen his face when he came back after the painting.  Poor man, couldn't handle the bold color.  Even within our family, their were strong feelings on the matter.  I however knew instantly which one I liked and I my husband let me choose.

It was very helpful to study them at different times of the day as well as on sunny or cloudy days.  If you do this, it's important to give the colors some time to, well, show their real colors.  It was costly to buy all those quarts but it saved us from painting the whole house and then not being happy with it.  In the end, Benjamin Moore Soft Gloss Country Redwood  (#96 23) was the clear winner. 

Country Redwood is a factory mixed color so there was no variation from can to can.  First, one coat of primer (yes, we primed pre primed Hardy for good measure) and then two coats of paint.  It was a LOT of painting. 

All areas close to the rafter tails had to be done by hand.  Shielding the spray didn't work well with the red paint. Husband didn't want pink rafters, I can't imagine why!  I helped the painter with the whole project.  He was great, giving me tips to improve my skills along the way.  It was hard work but I have always enjoyed painting.

For us, red was the right color.  I can't imagine our farmhouse any other way.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chickens and pigs don't mix

This morning was drizzly and the chickens were begging to be let out to free range.  A new problem we have with free ranging though...
Chickens and pigs don't mix! 

Lizzy, my favorite, has been wanting to visit her new next door neighbors.  She hopped up on their "door" to say hello a few days ago.  Today she just invited herself in.  The result?  Run, Lizzy, run!  They chased her all around the pig pen.  Jake & Jonah jumped in there to save her.  She stayed clear of them the rest of the day.  Sweet Lizzy, she was just trying to be polite.

Lizzy (the brown one) was telling her friend how rude the pigs were

Monday, November 8, 2010

Chicken egg basket

One of my friends brought me this sweet chicken.  She said it would look better in my kitchen than hers.  I don't know about that but I have come to love this little basket.  She is made completely of coiled wire with a red metal comb and waddle and a yellow wooden dowel for a beak.  Her top pops open to fill with eggs.  Certainly too cute to use for gathering but very pretty on the shelf.  Now I need to figure out how to blow eggs so I can fill her middle with the multi-colored gifts that my girls leave me everyday.  Thanks, Karen.  I really love the chicken egg basket.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Work on the weekend

Today there was work going on here at the farm.  Saturday is big chore day.  I'm quite sure I will never see a shopping mall again on Saturday.  But that is ok with me.

My honey was on the tractor in the riding arena leveling all the dirt that we had delivered yesterday.  This is the base layer of good ole Oklahoma dirt.  A mixture of sand and dirt will be brought in next.  It is going to be quite the arena.

Boy 1 and boy 2 were building the permanent pig pen.  Those little piglets didn't know what to do with all that room.  Even with the boys still working, the piglets were running around digging there snouts into the grass and uprooting it.

They are neighbors with the chickens and have a view overlooking the pond.  Lucky pigs!

And what was I doing?  I was braiding my horses hair.  We played salon and she got all pretty.  Actually, with no little girls, I'm not very good at braiding.  She didn't seem to mind.  She loves attention. When Bobbie first came home, she had rubbed a section of her mane off.  I trimmed it back and have been brushing it regularly trying to get it to grow out.  I'm hoping the braids will help it to lay down a bit.  It would be nice if it were longer but I think it still looks cute.

We went on a long walk around the farm too.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Loads of laundry in a little corner

Welcome to my little laundry corner.  It's an efficient space nestled in the mudroom.  You can find me here a lot!  When building the house we didn't want a "room" dedicated to dirty clothes so this is what we came up with.  Keeping it out in the open forces me to keep it neat and clean.  I love that.

The washer and dryer is stacked so they don't take up so much floor space.  Cabinet space is above for rarely used items.  Handy items are stored on the Ikea stainless shelves.

We chose a Samsung because we love their products and it was half the price of the Whirlpool set.  It gets a daily workout with 2 to 3 loads a day and is holding up great.  As a bonus, the dryer sings a little jingle when the clothes are dry. Cute!

I painted this little cabinet red and found ceramic knobs for $1 each with the initials on them.  4 out of 5 of us here in the farmhouse have the those initials.  The top is leftover butcher block from the kitchen.  We tried not to waste materials.

My favorite faucet in the house!  Brizo Trevi Cross in chrome.  I just love the looks of the tall gooseneck.  Contemporary but the handles have an old fashioned flair.
The sink is just big enough to soak something small or wash hands when you come in from outside. 

A basket on the floor keeps my boys from throwing dirty things on the floor.  Sometimes they come in covered from head to toe and I won't allow them to go any farther in to the house.  If you have boys, you know what I'm talking about, right?  It's empty right now but that is just because the poor washer and dryer have been working to death all day.

That's it - my little corner where dirty things get clean, everyday.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Glimpse into our day

Up at 6:45.  It's cold this morning.

Hubby built a fire in the stove & put coffee in my cup. 
What a good guy!

7:15 Grits and scrambled eggs for breakfast.
Clean kitchen and bathroom (it's Thursday)
7:45 Dressed for the day
Farm Chores for everyone.
Mine is taking care of the chickens.

8:00 Everyone fed and watered. 
Plan what's for dinner.

Time for school
Help Jake with Chemisty
Grade math from yesterday.

Do writing & spelling with Jonah & Jared

Orthodontist appointment at 10:15
Grab your books - school in the car
History on the way there.
Literature on the way home.
I wasn't the one reading of course!

12:00 lunch - jalepeno cheddar wraps

12:40 riding and exercising the horses.

2:00 drawing class that I teach here at the house. Nine teenage girls!
3:30 deep breath
3:45  Sonic time with husband.  It's our daily, 20 minute, $2 date.

4:00 Everyone pitch in and help Dad with work.  We run a family manufacturing business.
6:00 Dinner at home will wait til tomorrow. (Not typical for us)  Barbeque at the office.
6:45 Bring one boy home with me to put the animals to bed just as it gets dark.
8:00 Make a cherry pie.  We all need one after a day like this!

8:30 blogging to you

8:50  Gotta go.  Pie's done!

But just one more thing before I put my head here:

Pray as a family.
It's the way we end our day here at the Red Farmhouse.


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