Archive for March, 2010


Eric Church…

We went an saw Eric Church again Friday night.  What can I say….he’s the best.


Whole Wheat Bread (new) Recipe…

Here is the bread recipe I am currently using:

1 3/4 cups warm water

1 t sea salt

1/4 cup coconut oil

1 T molasses (or honey) I use molasses

4 1/2+ cups whole wheat flour

2 t yeast

Put these in order into bread machine.  Set to dough cycle and run.  Let rise once in machine.  Remove from machine and place in oil loaf pan.  Let rise until double.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

I changed recipes not too long ago because I got a grainmill for Christmas and needed a recipe that only called for whole wheat flour.  My other recipes also called for bread flour so this one is easier for wheat grinding purposes.  This recipe uses minimal ingredients and ingredients I usually have on hand.


Orphan Lamb…

The other day it was cold and rainy.  When we got home Randy found a newborn baby lamb laying in the lot without a mama insight.  We found the mama and put her in a pen with the baby.  She wanted nothing to do with the little lamb.  She butted her with her head, refused to let her nurse, and never even cleaned her. 

In the mama’s defense she was a first-timer and apparently just not ready to be a mama.  The baby’s mouth was cold by now.  Who knows how long she had laid out in the rain that day.  I took her inside, put her in a warm bath, and gave her some dextrose.  After a hot bath, a shot of energy, and some blow drying to dry her off and warm her up she was ready for a bottle and sent back outside with her mama. 

After three days in a lambing pen with her mama and still no signs of motherly instinct the baby was pulled from her mama and the ewe was put in a pen to dry off her milk supply.  In that time we had held the mama so the baby could nurse every 4-6 hours and supplemented her with a bottle.  She just wasn’t up for the task of mothering her little one.

We were to the point where we could have started weaning our bottle lambs to two bottles a day instead of three.  With this new addition we are back to doing a bottle every 4-6 hours for the first week.  Not at all what we had hoped for, but she’s adorable and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

We have a ewe, Ebony, squeezing into our creep feeder somehow.  So last night Randy tightened the entrance (twice because she could still fit after the first adjustment) so she couldn’t get in there and hung a bucket for our bottle lambs to nurse instead of bottles.  Ebony was a bottle and bucket lamb not so very long ago and has not forgotten the pleasures of milk replacer.  We had to make sure there was no way she could get in or the bucket would be gone in a matter of minutes.

The bucket is filled with milk and a frozen 2 liter of water to keep the milk cold.  This prevents the lambs from overeating, but ensures they have access to milk as often as they need it.  Our’s has three nipples along the bottom to allow enough access for all our bottle lambs.  Our little orphan lamb was the first to pick up on the bucket.  It seems the younger they are the better they adjust.  It had just been too cold for us to feel comfortable making them drink cold milk from a bucket.  Finally, with temperatures in the 40s at night and 60s during the day (at least for now) they are officially on a bucket and seem to be picking up on the idea well enough.

No more rushing home to do bottles then turning around and doing them again before bed.  No more midnight bottle feedings.  No more 3:30 in the morning feedings.  Our lives are FINALLY getting back to normal.  If you have sheep and have not used a bucket of cold milk for your bottle lambs, you just haven’t lived yet.  They are WONDERFUL!


Adoption Update…

It is official; the letter was dropped in the mail a few days ago to inform our agency we will be closing our adoption file with them once again.  Again there are a number of reasons why, but the fact of the matter is international adoption is an incredibly expensive endeavor and because of unforeseen circumstances we are not able to afford it at this time.

Randy asked if I wanted to do the classes for the US foster-to-adopt program.  I’ll do the classes if he wants to, but right now I feel completely and utterly defeated.  The last thing I feel like doing right now is starting another process.  I want to just live life a little enjoy each other’s company which for the passed 3 years has revolved around the discussion of adopting, children, and preparation for a child in our home. 

From here on out I hope to recollect my thoughts and spend some time enjoying the things I do have (a husband, a farm, pets, and a home that could use a little tlc).  I would also like to complete some of the things we have been putting off and prepare a schedule for the year.  A schedule an impending adoption did not allow for.  Lastly, I just want to regain the energy it took to be in the process of an adoption…to feel strong and healthy again physically and mentally.

I know this is a let down to not only us, but to our friends and family who have supported us along the way.  Know we are very sorry this didn’t work out also.  A very small handful of friends are the only ones who know about our adoption process coming to an end and fortunately we didn’t tell my parents so nothing will have to be done there which is a relief. 

We will undoubtedly be asked about our adoption and have to answer questions about why it didn’t work out.  This is all part of it, and we are ready to face the music.  It’s such a hard process sometimes and such a financial burden for us middle-class folks.  I hate it for the children.  They are the ones who suffer the most through it all.


Life’s Journey…

I read an interview the other day from Jim Sturgess.  He made a comment about the fact that he is the type of guy who can go to a theater, watch a movie, and leave thinking “I could do that.  I could live like that.”  That is me!  I can so relate. 

If I posted every idea I came up with, every talent I hope to master, or every hobby I wanted to take up it would be a revolving door of ideas.  However, if given a little time I could probably know at least enough about each endeavor to be dangerous.  I love to learn, and I love to read.  I’m convinced I can teach myself enough to get me started into almost anything.

This earned me the title of “flaky” by my husband.  I change ideas, hopes, and dreams continuously and increasingly drive him nuts with my new ideas.  When I start a phrase with, “I was reading today about….” He starts to get nervous about what’s coming next.

I read an article about someone moving to the Alaskan wilderness…I could do that.  I read an article about someone who lives entirely on traditional foods…I could do that.  Someone how homesteads and is self-sufficient….I could do that.  I read about someone who lives in a camper and is a real life “gypsy”…I could so do that!

So this is what my very patient and very open-minded husband gets to hear over dinner.  All the while I’m just waiting to strike a chord with him and have him say, “I could do that too.”  Although I have never really gotten the enthusiasm I’ve been hoping for out of him, he has agreed with some of my ideas and goals for us together.  I take what I can get, compromise on some of it, and throw the rest in a drawer to surface again at a later date.

I think being an avid reader is a huge contributor to this.  I don’t really read novels, I sort of feel like it is a waste of time.  I like to read books I can learn from.  I like non-fiction!  I like anything on living off the land, spirituality, natural health, traditional nutrition, lost skills (candle making, soap making, open-fire cooking, etc.).  I have time to read because I can read on my breaks at work and over my lunch breaks.  I don’t, however, have time to do most of things I read about.  I figure if I read and educate myself now, eventually I will have the time to actually do them and be all studied up on it.

I don’t know if we’ll ever get to move to the Alaskan wilderness, eat an entirely traditional/primitive diet, have a self-sufficient homestead, or live in a camper and travel the country.  I do know it is fun to dream, imagine, and think about all the things we could do in our lifetime.  If that makes me “flaky” then so be it.  I’ve been called worse I suppose.  I just hope life doesn’t pass me by, and when I’m old and gray I can look back at my life and know I lived it to the fullest.

Two quotes I came across this week:

“I am determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.”

~Martha Washington (1732-1802)

“Borrow from cultures old and new and with our imaginations blend those borrowings to create new ways to live that are simpler, gentler, more generous, and beautiful.”

~William Coperthwaite, A Handmade Life:  In Search of Simplicity

Have a great day!


I Had a Life But My Job Ate It!

I Had a Life But My Job Ate It!

I saw this on a bumper sticker (online) the other day. That is how I feel right now. Randy and I are both worn out from lambing and working and in need of a serious vacation with an ocean involved or at least water and warmth of some sort. We will see if this happens in 2010 or not.

Here is a glance at my day and why I am screaming for life to slow down and allow me some downtime.

3:30 wake up to make bottles and head outside to feed bottle lambs and let the sheep out of the building

4:15 return inside to wash bottles, shower, and get ready for work

4:45 pack both our lunches and layout our morning and noon supplements

5:00 head out the door to work

5:45 arrive at work

6:00-4:30 work at a computer

5:15 arrive home, change, make bottles to feed bottle lambs

5:45 return inside to wash bottles, cook dinner (generally from scratch), and wash dishes (by hand) from breakfast and lunch

6:30 eat

7:00 clean up after dinner, wash dishes (by hand), make coffee for the next morning, and dish up our lunches for the next day, and make bottles to feed bottle lambs

7:30 head out to lock up the sheep in their building and feed bottle lambs, this also includes any doctoring that needs done

8:00-8:30 return inside to wash bottles and get ready for bed

8:30 Bedtime

8:30-Midnight Sleep

Midnight one of us heads out to check on our ewes to make sure no one is lambing or more specifically, having trouble lambing

Midnight-3:30 am Sleep

Then I get back up and do it all over again. This has been going on sine the last week in January and needless to say we are both exhausted and a little burned out. There is a little dim light at the end of the tunnel. It’s quite a ways away, but we will get there.

Spring is in the air and the warmer weather is already lifting our spirits. The thought of a garden right now is a little daunting, but hopefully I will get in the mood as the days continue to get longer and the weather continues to warm up.

I’m not whining! It may sound like I’m whining, but I truly love our life and our animals. That’s the part of our lives we do enjoy. It just tends to feel like we live at our jobs and have no time for our lives. We work twelve hours (including the commute), sleep 8 hours (if we’re lucky), and spend the other 20 preparing to leave our house and animals for the day and making up for the time we were away from our house and animals all day.

It may not seem like we are in self-sufficiency, environmental awareness, downshifting, or any of the things I’ve mention on the sidebar. However, this is all part of our attempt to become debt free and HUGE step toward all of these things. As soon as the debt is gone we hope to take our home off-grid or build an off-grid home. We will still have the expense of maintaining the equipment, but this will eliminate those electric and propane bills we despise so much.

We will get there. I have my moments where it seems impossible, too far away, and out of sight. Then I have days where it is just around the corner, and I can’t wait for it to all come together.

Here are a few things I think would help us cut costs in the meantime and free up even more money to put toward debt:

• Budget, I have set up a strict budget we HAVE to stick to in order to make this work. We will be allotted only so much cash money (credit cards for fuel only) for groceries, auto repairs and maintenance, vet and pet expenses, our farm expenses, and any other miscellaneous expenses. We will also set back money every month for those bills that come due once or twice a year; propane, auto insurance, and car tags and taxes.

• Dinners: one night a week will include eggs. These come from our chickens and are usually in great supply. We will also do one night a week soup or bean dish with salad. These are both not only easy meals, but also frugal meals.

• We are selling all the lambs born on our farm this spring and hopefully some of our yearling ewes. This will help our sheep pay for themselves throughout the rest of the year (hay, grain, protein tubs, and any other supplies needed).

• Cats: As of right now all eleven little darlings are in our pool house 4 days a week. As soon as Randy gets the cat door installed (hopefully this weekend) they will be outside kitties except at night. They can mouse instead of relying on cat food $$$.

• TV: We (as in I) watch very little TV. Once the season finales are over and summer is here, I want to get that whole setup unplugged to decrease the phantom load it is pulling 24/7.

• Utilities: I would like to unplug everything not in use, power down more, and possibly get a wood burning stove in our house to help our heating/propane expenses.

• Cook outside: in the summer this will be a lot easier. I have a solar oven I need to utilize, especially for bread baking. We will be grilling and cooking over our fire pit a lot more and eating cold foods (salad sandwiches, salads, cold rice and pasta dishes, etc.).

• Retirement: we’ve never been fully comfortable with the 401K/IRA retirement plan. We may decrease our input into these for the time being and use that money to pay off current debt.

• Land: we are still in hopes of owning land someday. We were convinced we needed 80 acres because that is the legal requirement to hunt your own land. We are now thinking we would do less than this and raise our own food and barter what we can’t raise instead of hunting.

• Pool: no idea if this is a possibility, but I would like to convert our pool pump to run off solar energy. This would be a good first step to converting our home.

• Well/Pump: second solar conversion possibility

•Limit our Kinesiology/Chiropractor visits:  take a multi-vitamin, CLO, exercise and stretch (yoga), and make improvements to our diet

These are just some ideas of ways we can trim down our monthly expenses and work toward our goal of becoming debt free. We are estimating it will take us under 5 years to become completely debt free including our home. If we buy land it will take longer, but that may never happen. We have the usual bills: mortgage, student loans, home equity loan, etc. We have managed to pay off all our cars and intend to keep enough money in savings so we can pay cash the next time the need for one comes up.

I sometimes think of all the things I would have time to learn and do if I wasn’t at work all day long. I would spend more time with my animals for sure, but I would also love to learn better photography skills, learn to crochet, knit, sew, play the piano, and possibly learn a second language. These desires give me the drive I need to forge ahead and do without now so we can hopefully enjoy all of these things in the near future.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful day. I hope this encourages you to strive for simplicity and to become debt free. We will work very hard for the next few years and at times I may chime in here with less than encouraging words when the going gets tough, but I know it will be worth it for both Randy and I.

*Randy just called to say, “how about we ask if your mom will watch our animals and drive to the Grand Canyon for a few days. We can rent a cabin, hike, and just hang out there the whole time.” I’m there…just pick a date!


Unfair Bed Assignments…

Our second born is holding his position as Vice Alpha.  Over his dead body will the new guy surpass him.

He may be bigger, but size doesn’t matter.  The little guy still gets the big bed.

Fortunately, Thai is good-natured and lets the little guy push him around.  Koal isn’t letting go of his position as second in command anytime soon.

Who is Alph?  Who is first in command you ask.

That would be this big mess of a dog who by the way isn’t allowed on the bed.

That would be my spot she’s wallowing all over.  Love it!

Ash got the biggest bed of all!

Adopting one child won't change the world; but for that child, the world will change.

I am the wife to my wonderful husband and joint care giver to the many animals we have acquired on our small farm here on the prairie. This is a bit about our life on our farm. We are striving for simplicity and self-sufficiency, determined to become debt-free, trying to live in tune with the natural cycles of this earth, and challenging ourselves to transition to a diet based on traditional foods. It isn't always easy, and we don't always succeed, but it is a fun learning process. Join us as we stumble through learning how to provide for ourselves, get off the treadmill, and work toward a simpler way of life.

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Mortgage Payoff

March 2010
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