Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Zucchini Chips

Last year, I'd found a recipe for zucchini chips on Pinterest and gave them a try, but they didn't really turn out right.  At my most recent River Valley Canners meeting, though, we were learning about all kinds of dehydration, and I decided to give zucchini chips another try on my dehydrator.

These were super easy.  I coated my dehydrator trays with non-stick spray and covered them with thinly-sliced zucchini rounds.  I sprinkled them with salt and Tony Chachere's and allowed them to dehydrate for about a day. The result is a spicy, healthy chip!  

My zucchini vines have now basically given themselves over to the squash vine borers (errrgggggg!), but if you're more lucky than I am, you may have zucchini coming out your ears right about now.  This is a great way to make use of all that extra zucchini, and if dehydrated well enough and stored in an airtight container, your chips ought to have a long shelf life.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Will Your Orange Juice Soon Taste Like Spinach?

This article is lengthy, but if you're concerned about GMO's, love orange juice, or are stuck in an hour-and-a-half's worth of inch-along traffic (as I was), it's definitely worth a read.  :)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Roasted Balsamic Mushrooms and Beans

I'm always looking for easy, creative ways to get veggies to the table, and this recipe checked off both those boxes.  

Combine equal amounts of sliced mushrooms and bite-sized fresh green beans in a gallon storage bag (I used about 6 oz. of each).

In a small bowl, whisk together 1.5 Tbs. olive oil, 1 Tbs. Balsamic vinegar, and pinches of salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Pour your marinade into the bag and smoosh everything around until your veggies look evenly coated.  Allow it to sit like this for as long as you can stand it.  I mixed mine up after breakfast and stuck them in the fridge until dinnertime.

Spread them out well on a rimmed baking sheet (or 2 if you're making a bunch) and roast at 450 degrees until done (15-20 minutes).

Quick. Easy. Creative. Yummy.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Squirreling Away Squash for Winter

Our Acorn Squash vine began to die back, so I went ahead and harvested the fruits.  These tough-skinned squash are actually a winter squash, meaning that if kept in relatively cool, dry conditions they should last well into the fall and even winter -- much like a potato.  
While there are certainly lots of ways to prepare winter squash, here's one of our favorite recipes:

Parmesan-roasted Acorn Squash

1   2 lb. acorn squash -- halved, seeded, and sliced 3/4" thick
2 Tbs. olive oil
8 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 c. grated Parmesan

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash with the oil, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Roast the squash until golden brown and tender, 25-30 minutes.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Follow-up Friday: Goat Milk as Cure for Pink Eye!

Remember this post about whether or not goat milk can cure pink eye?

Well, (knock on wood) we still haven't had opportunity to try that remedy out at our house, but we did recently have a friend who tried it out.

Kim, a friend who'd read that blog entry messaged me and asked for some goat milk so that she could try it out on her daughter whose eye was showing signs of a pink-eye-type infection.

As soon as I had some raw goat milk ready, I carried some to her, and they began treatment.

Here's her testimonial:

"We put 2 drops in at around noon, then two more drops before bed. A's only complaint was that they were a little cold! Never any pain.  She woke up the next morning, and her eye wasn't matted together, but there was still a touch of redness to it.  We didn't use anymore drops, though, and by noon the eye looked normal again!"

Excellent news!  So, next time someone in your household is suffering and you'd like to give this little remedy a try, shoot me a message and we'll hook you up!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Eat in Season: Peach Blueberry Buckle

What's a buckle, you say?
Well, what do you know . . . I said the same thing.  And I found my answer here.

The short of it is that a buckle belongs to the same family as cobblers, crisps, and crumbles, all of which are basically just different ways of combining essentially the same ingredients.

In a buckle, the fruit is folded into or incorporated into the pastry.

And, this particular recipe makes use of two amazing fruits that are both at their peak right now.  So grab yourself 4 ripe peaches and a pint of blueberries, and let's go!

Peach Blueberry Buckle

1 1/4 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick butter (at room temperature)
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 large egg (at room temperature)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. sour cream
4 peaches
1 pint blueberries
1/3 c. sliced or chopped almonds

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a separate bowl and using a stand mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.

Reduce speed to low and add flour mix and sour cream.  Fold in peaches and blueberries.  

Transfer to an 8x8" dish and sprinkle with almonds.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (an hour or so).

Optional:  dust with confectioner's sugar before serving.

Thank you to Real Simple for the original recipe.  :)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Laughing My Evil Laugh

As you may know, squash bugs bring out my most destructive and violent tendencies.  I take great pleasure in squashing them between my fingers before they have a chance to do further damage to my plants.  The other day, I let out my most evil MU-ah-ah-ah laugh as I squashed two bugs as they were mating!
But, even I paused just a moment before squishing the life out of these newborns. ;)
Isn't this cool?  At top, you can see the cluster of Squash Bug eggs.  I'm guessing I caught them mid-hatch because the little black-legged fellas appeared to be just stretching their legs for the first time.  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Spicy Dill Refrigerator Pickles!

So, John walked in on me as I was singing to myself -- and not just singing to myself -- singing to myself a made-up song about pickles.  
I was a little embarrassed, but I explained to him why I was so excited to have found this recipe for refrigerator pickles, and he quickly understood why I was so excited.  ;)

Reason #1:  My cucumbers are not yet at their most prolific, so I'm only bringing them in a few at a time.  That's not nearly enough cukes to justify a full pickle canning session.  But, with minimal effort, you can adjust this recipe as needed and only make as much as you need.

Reason #2:  This particular recipe uses items I already have on hand.  The jalapenos are going strong in the backyard, so I had just the right ingredient to provide a kick.  And, I was able to make use of the dried dill I've got stored in the pantry.

Reason #3:  The fact that these pickles are just stored in the refrigerator and don't have to be sealed by canning makes them an accessible pickle that anybody can try out. There's no need to be intimidated by this recipe.  It can be whipped up in a matter of 5 minutes!  

Reason #4:   A lot of traditional pickle recipes requite a long wait time before trying out your finished product.  One year, I used a recipe that required waiting 1 month before sampling the pickles.  By then, I'd made jar after jar of these pickles that, once we finally got to try them, we didn't even care for.  By then, the cucumbers had stopped producing.  The wait time on these, though, is only 3 days.  I've already had  a chance to try my first batch and decide to amp up the spice level in the next one.

These really are delicious!  And, unlike some processed pickles I've made in the past, they're very crisp!  See?  These pickles really are worth singing about!

Check out the original recipe here.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Creation Care

I am continually surprised by how unconcerned some Christians seem to be with the well-being of our God-created earth.  I don't really know why there's such a disconnect.  As this excerpt from Relevant so eloquently explains, creation care and love of neighbor go hand-in-hand.

God created -- and continually creates and sustains -- a world He called "very good" (Genesis 1:31; Colossians 1:15-17).  Through the beauty of this natural world, God reveals His character to all of humankind (Romans 1:19,20) and provides the natural resources we need for life.  And because we are made in the image of our Creator God, we are called to care for His creation in a manner that reflects His character -- with love, faithfulness, mercy, service, and integrity.

So, as God's people, we decry the violence waged against all of God's creation.  We bemoan the ravages of pollution, environmental disasters, waste, consumerism, climate change, species endangerment and habitat destruction upon the earth and its creatures.  And we lament not just the damages to the earth itself, but especially their effect on human life.  

"It's very clear that the least among us -- the elderly, children, the poor -- are being hurt first by environmental degradation," says Nancy Sleeth, co-founder of Blessed Earth, a Christian nonprofit committed to environmental care.  "One extremely important way we can love our global neighbors is by making sure they have access to clean water, clean air and healthy soil in which to grow food."

Tom Rowley, executive director of A Rocha, agrees.  In his conservation work in 19 countries he has observed:  "People who are dependent upon subsistence farming, forestry and fishing have much less margin for protection.  While a drought might hit us in the pocketbook, for them, it's a matter of life or death."

Likewise, the poor in urban slums are poisoned by pollution run-off in their water. Indigenous coastal communities are threatened by rising ocean waters.  Those breathing polluted air are suffering from preventable, life-threatening diseases like asthma, cardiovascular disease, cancer and more.

"I firmly believe that all Christians need to be pro-life," Sleeth says, "but pro-life means every aspect of life.  Having a viable planet for humans and all of God's creatures to thrive on is a first order of business."

"The Earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it" (Psalm 24:1).  As Christians, we believe this is true -- from the soil under our feet to towering redwoods to every single human life on this planet.  And so, as stewards, we strive to protect God's created world through daily choices like recycling, reducing energy consumption and resisting consumerism.  We aim to treasure God's creation -- not only for its God-infused beauty, but for its provision for human life.

Creation care, at its core, is far more than "going green."  It's learning to "live as agents of shalom to a place that God has put us," Rowley says.  "We do that by living the abundant life right where we are," he says, "by reaching out to our neighbors, . . .  by getting involved in conservation efforts, by becoming proactive in bringing Christ's reconciliation."

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Homemade Dill Bread

Recently, Girl 1, my most avid photographer snapped a pic of me with my rear in the air and face buried in a garden plant.  She laughed when she took it, saying that I should put that one on the blog if I want to show what I spend all my time doing.  While I don't spend ALL day in that position, I do spend quite a bit of time that way.  How are you to know whether your plants are healthy or what new bugs are calling them home, unless you get to know your plants in an up-close kind of way?  
Anyway, one of the plants I bury my face in most often is the dill.  I just LOVE the smell of dill.
I also love the smell of baking bread.  
I must admit that when I combine the two I find myself absolutely powerless.  All will-power goes out the door.  

A drizzle of really good olive oil makes it absolutely divine!

Here's the bread machine recipe for a large loaf:
(the original recipe actually calls for rosemary rather than dill  But, I figure you can pretty much sub in whatever herb makes you want to bury your face in it.)

1 1/2 c. warm water
4 Tbs. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
4 c. bread flour
3 tsp. dried or 4 tsp. fresh dill
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast

* For this recipe, I use King Arthur's unbleached white bread flour because it rises consistently and has a light, fluffy texture.

Like me, you may need to add a few miles to your running plan for the week to allow for this indulgence, but it's WAY worth it -- I promise!  

Friday, July 19, 2013

Follow-up Friday: The Boys Have Left Us

At long last, we've found a good, permanent home for Honey's twin bucklings.  (I suppose since we fitted them last week with castration bands, we should actually call them wethers now rather than bucklings.)  

In the pic above, they're getting acclimated to their new pen and meeting all their new friends.  These are the first goats we've voluntarily parted with, and it's a little weird; but they will be living happy lives as pets just up the road from us.  

It didn't make much sense for us to keep them.  In a dairy operation, bucks serve basically one purpose.  But, these twins are too closely related to our gals, so we couldn't use them as breeders.  It just makes sense for us to move them along.  And, they're sweet boys, so they'll make great pets for their new family.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Greens Gratin

Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal was a lovely read.  Her emphasis on not wasting anything that makes its way into the kitchen really resonated with me.  So, I was excited to try this recipe from the book and found it to be a pretty scrumptious way to eat greens.

This recipe starts with 2 cups of already-seasoned cooked greens.  

So, let's back up a minute.  For your "greens," you can use pretty much any sturdy leafy green.  I used beet greens leftover from my morning juicing.  To cook them, I like to saute mine like this for omelets.  To prep for this Greens Gratin recipe, I just cooked extra during my omelet prep time.
Once you've got your cooked greens, you're ready to make your bechamel sauce (once again, the word bechamel should have an apostrophe-thingy over the first e -- someone should really teach me how to do these things in Blogger). 

To make the sauce, melt one tablespoon butter and add one tablespoon of flour, whisking until combined.  Heat 1 cup of milk in the microwave to remove the chill and add it slowly to the butter-flour mixture, whisking constantly.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to the lowest possible heat and cook for 20-25 minutes.  Remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan.  

Mix your greens and bechamel well and taste for flavor (my greens were cooked in olive oil, onion powder, salt, and garlic, so I didn't need to add anything more, but you may want to add additional seasoning at this point).

Pour mixture into a buttered casserole dish, sprinkle with another 1/2 tablespoon Parmesan and bake at 400 degrees "until it's bubbling, set, and slightly colored at the edges."  (Adler is nearly always this vague about cooking times.  It took mine about 45 minutes to set up.)

**If you do not care for the taste of cooked spinach or other greens, you should probably skip this recipe.  If you do like spinach and/or it's family members, you may just LOVE this stuff!  

The bechamel sauce makes a nice pasta sauce or dipping sauce for steamed veggies like broccoli.  If you like the sauce, maybe consider doubling your bechamel recipe, using part for Green Gratin and part for a later meal.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Lovins from Star

I told you this goat loves me!
I really like this pic John took the other night.  I'd like it more, I think, if I didn't have my eyes closed.  Somehow that just seems to take the moment over the top. Regardless, though, I'm glad to have a good pic of me and my Star Baby sharing a moment. :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Growing Melons on a Trellis

We've got some adorable little cantaloupe growing on our leaning trellis system.  I like the idea of growing small-ish melons on a trellis for a couple of reasons:

1.  in a square-foot garden like ours, space is at a premium.  Getting those vines to grow vertical keeps them from taking up too much valuable garden real estate.

2.  Keeping them off the wet ground should keep them better protected from rot and pesky critters.

Just left hanging, though, the melons would soon grow so big that they'd just fall off the vine.  To solve this problem, each little melon gets its very own hammock in the shade!

I used old, pitted-out t-shirts to create the hammocks.  I can get 4 hammocks form each shirts:  2 long strips from the front and 2 long strips from the back, discarding the sleeves.

Once a melon is about the weight of a cucumber, it's ready for its hammock, I tie each end of the hammock to the trellis, gently cradling the melon so that it still has plenty of room to grow.  

Obviously, if this were a huge garden, this method would be impractical.  I can't even imagine manufacturing individual melon hammocks by the hundreds!  For us, though, it's very do-able.  Girl 1 and I each have different varieties planted.  So far, she's "winning" because she's had more melons in need of hammocks than I have.  :)  Oh, well. We all mature at different rates. My girls will need their own support in due time!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Getting Feisty About Our Melon!

It seems the goats around here love their Cave City watermelon rinds just as much as the humans enjoy the sweet flesh.  While we humans don't grunt at or headbutt one another across the table, I'd say we LOVE our melon just as much as these gals do!  

Saturday, July 13, 2013

First Tomatoes!

I just love a colorful harvest basket!

Since lots of things are in season right now, my garden haul been colorful for awhile now, but it hasn't held any tomatoes  . . . .UNTIL NOW!!!

We are growing all heirloom tomatoes this year, so I wanted to experiment with some of the more exotic varieties.  These varieties are purple, yellow, and "chocolate striped."

What better way to enjoy our first sampling of garden fresh tomatoes than atop a crostini smeared with herbed goat cheese?

Absolutely delicious!!!

What about you?  Have you enjoyed a garden-fresh tomato yet this year?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Follow-up Friday: Star Baby

Razz is my #1 gal out in the field.  We've got this whole herd out there, but she's our only milker right now, so that definitely sets her apart.  She is well-behaved on the milk stand, has a nice udder, and gives a good amount of milk.  Since these traits are largely hereditary, we were so thankful that her baby this past spring was a girl that we named First Star.  

Hopefully, in a couple years, Star will become the first great milker to have been  born on our farm.  So, she's pretty special because of the high hopes we have for her.  But, she's turned out to be pretty special in other ways, too.
Star is the one at left.

First of all, she's gorgeous.  Her mostly pink nose gives her a feminine look, and her light-colored coat with roaning is just plain stunning.

And, maybe most importantly, Star is special because she thinks we're pretty special.  This goat LOVES us!  In fact, it was hard for me to get a pic of her because she pretty much stays right up on me when I'm out in the field.  
She stays right by my side, hoping for a good petting.  

Most Nubians don't care for having their ears messed with.  That was a pretty upsetting discovery for me because their floppy ears are so cute, they're just begging to be scratched!  Star is the only one of our goats who doesn't mind it a bit, though, if you give her ears some attention.  So long as you're petting her, she's a happy girl!  

She's getting pretty big and needs to be weaned soon.  Right now, she spends the day with her Momma Razz, nursing and grazing.  At night, she is separated from Momma so that Razz can be milked in the morning.  Soon, though, we'll separate them full time and milk Razz both morning and evening.  It's about time, too.  They look kind of silly together when Star is nursing -- she's gotten so big, she can barely get underneath her Momma anymore.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Squash Vine Borers and my Attempted Nighttime Attack

My squash plants are having issues.  I've already uprooted large portions of the plants and fed them to the very-appreciative goats.  Today, as I turned this plant over, I discovered the latest issue.
See how the vine looks as if it's been sliced open?  It also has a lot of almost foamy looking frass (or caterpillar poop) around the site of the hole.

All I had to do to find a borer was continue the slice about another inch and a half up the vine.  See him?

Nasty little booger!

My books suggest that the plant may have a chance of survival if I've extracted or killed all the borers and can mound dirt up over any major holes in the vine.  I tried it, but I suspect this little plant is too far gone.  

I also tried another method of vine-borer attack that I found less effective but which may work for you, so I'll pass it along.  One book suggested taking a flashlight and straight pin to the garden at night and using the flashlight to backlight the hollow vines.  Supposedly, you should be able to see the shadows of the borers inside the vines and can kill them by puncturing both vine and unsuspecting borer with the straight pin.  The damage to the vine is so minimal that the plant should recover fully.  
Either my flashlight was not strongly powered enough or my vines were not as translucent as some other varieties might be, but I couldn't make out much light through my vines and so didn't get the pleasure of taking out any borers in the night.  Oh, well.

I've gone ahead and replanted squash in another section of the garden, so maybe our squash won't be entirely finished for the season yet.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Little Bit 'O Lagniappe

In gardening, there are the tangible rewards that you look forward to, and work toward, and finally, at long last, bring to the table.

And then, sometimes, there are some things in gardening that are just lagniappe.  Lagniappe, meaning a little bit of something extra or a bonus, is a word I picked up during our time when New Orleans was home.

Our cool week last week provided us with some unexpected berries -- lagniappe!
Since I've long considered the berries to be finished for the season, I hadn't even noticed them on the vine until Razz made a break for it in the yard the other day and had some for a snack.  It seems the goat's been eyeing those berries from the back field!

And, then there are the gourds.  Ahh, the gourds.  My best guess is that these giants vines that now cover the compost pile are the result of my throwing out some past-their-prime fall decorations last year -- lagniappe! 

I should really be turning the compost pile over to keep it decomposing well, but I can't bring myself to disturb the big, beautiful vine, heavily laden with gourds.

The hard-earned fruits of long, hot hours spent in the garden are rewarding, but there's something refreshing about a little big of surprise backyard lagniappe!  

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Got Taters?

This year's potato planting was not exactly planned out.  I don't actually love Russets, so I probably would've chosen to plant a different variety.  But, alas, Russets are what I found neglected and sprouting in the pantry, so hating to waste an opportunity, into the ground they went.
Potatoes are generally ready for harvest when, despite being well-tended, the plants begin to fall over and die back.  

The large taters will be good as bakers.  The smaller ones will probably go into some potato salad or become . . . 

Bacon-wrapped Potatoes with Creamy Dill Sauce

1 1/2 lbs. new potatoes, halved
15 slices of bacon, halved crosswise
3/4 c. mayo
1/4 c. buttermilk
2 Tbs. chopped fresh dill
1 tsp. caraway seeds
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Steam the potatoes until tender, 15-18 minutes.  Let cool.

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.  Wrap each potato with a piece of bacon and place, seam-side down, on the baking sheet.  Bake until the bacon is crisp, 18-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the mayo, buttermilk, dill, caraway seeds, salt, and pepper.  Serve with the potatoes.

**I actually think the sauce is better if made up the day ahead, giving the flavors more time to meld.  You could go ahead and steam and wrap the potatoes, too, but don't bake until just before serving so that bacon will be crisp.

Monday, July 8, 2013


"Our chevre had little resemblance to the goat cheese one finds in a store.  Mass-produced chevre, wrapped in plastic or vacuum sealed, often comes from previously frozen curds or even powdered milk -- and the milk is always pasteurized.  Our chevre had as much in common with store-bought as a sun-ripened tomato plucked from a vine in August resembles one grown under lights in February.  No supermarket can get around the simple truth, says cheese expert Patrick Rance, 'that goat cheese is a seasonal joy.'"
From Brad Kessler's Goat Song

Okay, first off, the word chevre should actually have a little French apostrophe-thingy over the first e, but I can't for the life of me figure out how to get Blogger to put one there, so please forgive my inaccuracy.

Chevre, pronounced shev-ruh, is actually the French word for she-goat and has become interchangeable with "goat cheese."
Yesterday, I made our season's first cheese.  Here's a pic of it straining through my new butter muslin (thanks again to my amazing husband for ALL my very thoughtful birthday presents!).

And, here's the finished product -- a gorgeous chevre ball, salted and rolled in herbs-- just waiting for some crusty bread or cracker to happen along.

Speaking of gorgeous, how about that opening pic of Razz?  It seems she's going for some kind of Most Photogenic Award or something.  Add these to the list of words I'd never have dreamed I'd utter, but I just love that goat  . . . and the amazing milk, cheese, and more that she provides us.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

To Sell or Not to Sell

Honey, the large red doe at center, was from the start my favorite goat.  She loved me and would give me kisses, and who doesn't like to be adored?  

She gave birth to the twin boys this spring, and we attempted to milk her  . . . only to discover that she had poorly placed,tiny teats and terrible behavior on the milk stand.  Eventually, we gave up on milking her.

Another local breeder paid a visit to our farm the other day and, liking Honey's bloodlines, offered us a pretty penny for her.  

A good farmer would sell her.  After all, what good is she to us?  We can't milk her, so she's nothing more than a strain on our resources.  

Turns out, I may not be a good farmer.  I told Girl 1, who's spending the week at her grandparents', about the offer when I talked to her on the phone.  "What?!  If Dad sold Honey before I even got home to say goodbye, I'd just have to stay here awhile until I could get over it enough to come home!  What are we gonna do?  Are we gonna have a family meeting and vote on it?"  It seems she may not be a good farmer either.  

There's a chance she'll settle down a little and be better behaved on the milk stand next year.  It's not likely her anatomy will get much better, though, so she'd still be difficult to milk.  The breeder who made us the offer has a milk machine, so a less-than-ideal udder is really not a big deal to her.  

So . . . what to do, what to do.  Maybe we will put it to a vote once Girl 1 gets home.  

Suggestions?  Insight?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Happy Slaughter Day

We took advantage of John's day off yesterday and took care of some business in the backyard.  Specifically, 8 chickens made the transition from backyard to freezer.  
I'm pretty sure they'd overheard us discussing our 4th of July slaughter plans, because for the past several days their crows have sounded eerily like they're screaming "THE FOURTH OF JULY!"  (Just try saying it aloud and making it fit the traditional er-ER-er-er-ER sound that roosters make and you'll see what I'm talking about).

Aren't they pretty? 

Last time we slaughtered big birds I found that one whole chicken was WAY too big for just our family, so this time, before freezing, I decided to go ahead and cut up each chicken into the parts I use most frequently.

Each chicken was split up into three bags:  breasts, legs and thighs, and everything else (used for chicken stock).

We have 6 more smaller hens to "process" on Saturday, but I will probably leave them whole.

In other news, the goats survived our neighbor's fireworks display, though it was touch and go there for awhile.  The neighbors were launching them at an angle so that they were actually exploding right over the milking shed.  Even Girl 2 was terrified and hiding her head under the covers in our bed:  "They're just so close!"  I could hear commotion coming from the shed, and when I went out to check, Razz and Honey looked like they were having seizures -- wild eyed, they were throwing themselves around the pen as if possessed.  When they started slamming their bodies against the sides of the barn, I got really worried.  But, when I brought it up during this morning's milking, they didn't want to talk about it and both acted like nothing had even happened.  ;)  It seems they were embarrassed by their ridiculous antics.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Checking Back in on Resolutions

We are now halfway through 2013! How can that be possible?  It seems like a good time to revisit those resolutions and consider how you're doing.  Below are my original resolutions and progress notes:

1.  Teach the kids skills to make them more confident and independent (i.e. cooking/ cleaning/ farming/ gardening/ etc.)  Surely snapping beans on the front porch and general garden work counts.  The other day, Girl 1 wanted to know why our squash plant was producing pink flowers.  Well, it wasn't, of course; it had a pink geranium peeking out from underneath it.  The point is, though, that in a culture where an alarming number of kids today couldn't even identify squash, she knew that the squash plant was supposed to have yellow blooms.

2.  Run at least 365 miles, including all area 5K races.  Thus far, I've logged 355 miles, so I think I'm well on my way here.  I did miss one area 5K race, though, because we were in NWA running the Outback in the Ozarks 200-mile relay race.  I think it was a justified absence.

3.  Pray through Common Prayer for Ordinary Radicals  Doing it.  Most days I love it. Some days I get done with my 5:00am reading time and can't remember what I've just read.  Maybe I should move this activity to a different time of day. ;)

4.  Pray consistently with the kids at bedtime  While we do still pray together (over meals and various other times, like when an ambulance speeds by our car), our regular prayer time has not really been a part of our summer routine.  I do miss it, though. The fact that they "slumber party" nearly every night makes it difficult to get one-on-one time at bedtime, though.

5.  Market some homemade wares (soap, probably)  Ummm.  I made some soap.  Does that count?

6.  Eat/serve more raw and whole foods  'Tis the season for fresh veggies!  I've done a surprisingly poor job of getting them consistently to the table, though.  Hopefully, now that ball season is over and we will actually be eating more dinners at the table rather than out of brown paper sacks, I can do better.

7.  Support local businesses with my dollar  I am failing miserably with this one. Suggestions?

8.  Learn more about farming (goat kidding/cows/organic gardening)  I've definitely now had first-hand experience with goat kidding.  Cows may still be a ways away for us.  I'm pretty sure my garden has a new lesson for me everyday.  It's almost like it relishes in surprising me with some new insect or leaf spot each morning.

9.  Volunteer some of my time to a worthy cause or two  As the race director for Cave City's upcoming Melon Dash 5K, I'm definitely putting in the time.  All proceeds go toward The Bethany Project's school supply giveaway for local kiddos.  I'm loving everything I'm learning through this process!

10.  Eat lunch at the elementary school once a week  I'm obviously taking a break right now, but I loved doing this during the school year.

11.  Replace more personal hygiene products/ household cleaners with homemade/cleaner versions  Yep!  Current project is DIY liquid detergent for HE washers.  Don't worry; you know I'll share it with you!

12.  Maintain an active/interesting blog.  Hmmmm.  Naptime used to be my go-to blogging time, but the older two kids don't nap, so blogging time has been hard to find this summer.  In fact, tomorrow, when John is off work, I plan to take the day off from blogging.  We'll be busy doing what every American does for the 4th -- slaughtering backyard chickens.  ;)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me!

Let's not beat around the bush here.  Today, I am 34 years old.  

I know that a lot of you already know it's my birthday because I've been so blessed to basically be inundated by well-wishes since I woke up this morning.
The Earliest Well-wisher Award goes to my dad, who texted me at 5:18 am, followed quickly by my Mamaw at 5:42 am.  By the time I got Mamaw's, I was already back from a quick morning run.  It seems I come from a long line of early risers.  :)

Anyway, surrounded by John, our kids, and my Mom, I opened gifts last night after dinner.  John goes overboard.  He's always been WAY too good to me on holidays, but what struck me last night was something more.

He'd asked the kids to think about things I like to do, and they'd done their birthday shopping with that list in mind.  Each gift was packaged with a corresponding tag.  My many gifts were labeled thus:

For Mom, who writes
For Mom, who runs (fast)
For Mom, who takes care
For Mom, who makes
For Mom, who reads

(I actually got to open the one with the first label early and have been blogging away happily on it for the past week or so. :)

I can't say with total certainty because it's been awhile since I've seen this great movie, but I think it's The Story of Us that claims that there's no greater feeling than the feeling of being "gotten."  My gifts, from my kids, my husband, my parents really made me feel "gotten."  To be gotten is to be loved.  To be gotten is not to feel alone.  It is to be understood.  

Today, I feel so blessed to have a circle of people who love and get me.  What more could a birthday girl ask for?

Thank you for the birthday wishes.  Thank you for reading.  Thank you for sharing this blog with me.  :)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Living with Goats

"You need humility  . . . to live with goats -- and you need a good sense of humor.  Goats, . . . are the same size and weight as us.  They can stand on two feet at our height, and even their eyes remind us of a version of ourselves; and if they like you they'll lick your face and if they don't -- watch out. "
                                                  From Brad Kessler's Goat Song

When I stood in the field with the goats and pulled the Mimosa branch low enough for them to reach more blooming goodness, they were definitely loving me . . . and, humbling me as they stood, hoofs on my chest, using me to get a leg-up to higher branches!