Of Pantries, Dresses & Other Such Homey Things

     There’s so much to share today!  We’ve had a day filled with good, hard work, wonderful homeschooling adventures, shrieks of terror and giggles of delight.  A couple of good questions have been brought up in the comments, and I want to answer those as well.  Where to start?

     I know.  Let’s start with babies!!  Babies are always a wonderful place to start.  I’ve been remiss in not letting you know that my friend, Rebecca, had a successful c-section a couple of weeks ago and she and her fifth baby, all girls, are doing great.  Precious, precious picture here.  Your prayers for a safe, complication free surgery were appreciated!

     My friend Kendra gave birth to her eighth child last night, and she and baby Joseph are both doing swell.  Stories and pictures here on Fletch’s blog.  (And yes, the Lisa mentioned there is the Lisa mentioned frequently here.) 

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     Our weather is just beautiful beyond belief.  Warm, and yet not too hot.  A gentle breeze that keeps the clothes drying on the line flapping ever so gently, just enough to keep them from drying too stiffly.  I love the placement of my clothes line.  The whites can be turned to face the sun in the afternoon, while the colors (turned inside out to avoid fading) are able to dry in the shade.  It’s a simple pleasure that I delight in!

     My husband repaired drip lines and hoses and sprinklers for me yesterday, so my watering today was able to be done on schedule.  (Oh, there’s that “S” word again.  Honestly, scheduling is not a bad thing.  Why, even God ordains things on schedule.  Think not?  The seasons roll around on schedule, as do day and night.  The planets move in carefully designed orbits.  If God, Who is perfect, ordained that the universe run on schedule, who am I to argue.  But I digress…….)  Lots of watering going on today!  I changed the irrigation line in the orchard this afternoon, and instead of taking the short way back to the house, I took the longer route around the garden. 

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     I was admiring how nicely the pepper plants are doing.  I considered our poor Honeydew Melon plant for quite awhile.  He’s not looked too good, but he has put out a healthy new leaf so, perhaps, he’ll do well yet.  The Roma tomatoes look wonderful, as does the Sweet 100 cherry tomato; but wait a minute.  Where’s my Early Girl tomato?  I planted her right here!!  And she’s gone!  Disappeared into a brand, spankin’ new mound of freshly dug earth.  I hollered to my husband who was working in the shop and told him he needed to come see this.

     By the time he came out to join me, I’d found the other end of the varmint’s tunnel.  In fact, as I watched, the little critter through a bit more dirt up outside of the hole!!!  Taking dominion means a lot of different things to folks, depending on their perspective.  Taking dominion here means getting rid of the varmints that interfere with our food supply, be it animal or vegetable.  My husband did what needed to be done to protect the rest of our garden.

     We are, of course, hoping that the Lord will provide an abundant harvest here this year.  Our orchard trees have set fruit in abundance, so much so that we will have to thin the fruit to save the young limbs from breaking.  Sometimes too much of even a good thing can be bad.  I will, as the year progresses and we begin harvesting, share with you the various things we are doing.  Lord willing, we will be harvesting our Young Berries in just a couple of weeks.  The coming months will find us making and canning jam, canning various fruits and veggies, drying fruits and veggies, and freezing fruits and veggies.  We’ll do some pickling and salsa making and maybe even some sauce making.  I’ll be sure to let you know what we’re up to.

     In the meantime, I would heartily suggest that you pick up a copy of the Ball Blue Book.  This inexpensive publication is invaluable when it comes to freezing, drying and canning.  You can probably find the current edition and your local hardware store (if they carry canning supplies), or even at WalMart in the coming months.  If you have a copy of that is more than five or so years old, I’d encourage you to pick up a more current edition.  Updates are made, from time to time, to provide the safest ways to “put food by”, and to utilize any new products that might be available.  The Ball Blue Book is the resource we use for freezing, canning, pickling or drying.  

IMG_4945       My wonderful husband also mowed the firebreak around our pasture today.  It was such a dry winter and early spring, the grasses in our pasture never really grew much.  This did make mowing the required thirty foot fire break along the roadways and property lines easier, but it might also mean that we will need to have more hay on hand for our sheep later in the year.  I am thankful that the center of the pasture still has some green grass in it that will continue to grow just a bit longer to provide for our animals.  We do not live in an area that will receive much in the way of measureable rainfall from now until fall.  There is flood irrigation in this pasture, but we cannot use it without flooding the folks who live behind us. 

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     I took my husband out a tall cup of water to drink.  He took a brief break from his mowing to drink the water and chat a bit with me.  He was wearing his standard ball cap and I had on Dani’s visor.  I leaned over to kiss him before heading back to the house and we clunked bills!!  It about knocked me over!  Almost 30 years of marriage and the man’s kiss still makes me weak in the knees! 

     When I headed back to the house, I left the empty cup and my camera on a picnic table in the front yard.  It is my habit to look down when I walk anymore because I tend to always put my foot into a hole and stumble otherwise. So, after depositing the camera and cup, I took about two steps and then I let out quite a scream.  (I’ll be you wondered where the promised “shrieks of terror” were going to come into play, huh?  Okay, okay, but I have to back up just a bit.)

     Yesterday, my husband needed to do a couple of errands for our church, and pick up a couple of things in town.  He asked us all to go, and you know we did!!!  Will keeps a small, plastic tub of a toy of some sort in the van to occupy him while we drive.  His current van toy is a Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head.  Yeah, I know it’s a “pre-school” toy, but he has had endless hours of delight putting together strange creations for us to laugh at in the car.  We got back in the car after a stop at Home Depot, and Will screamed!  Loud!  It seems a fairly large spider had made its way into the Mr. Potato Head box and was crawling around in there.  My husband dutifully raked the spider out of the box, dropped it into the parking lot, and off we went.

      Over the course of the next several minutes, we all laughed about Will’s scream.  Aaron was taking a bit too much pleasure in teasing his brother, so we reminded him of his reaction the last time a racer snake crossed his path.  We bantered back and forth, all in good fun, about who screamed the loudest when startled by a snake, Aaron or me.  The discusssion ended at Wal-Mart and screaming was the last thing on our minds, because as we were walking in, my blogging buddy Susan was walking out.  Dani and I had the joy of meeting her several months ago at our favorite deep discount grocer.  I was thrilled to see her again yesterday, and was pleased to introduce the rest of my family to her. 

      Okay, back to today.  If you’ve been following my ridiculously long story here, you’ve probably guessed that my “shriek of terror” this morning was caused by a snake.  Not a small, lightning-quick racer, but a better than three foot long Gopher snake!  I screamed.  Then I realized, the goofy thing was not moving.  I headed to the back door and called in, “Who’s the joker who left the plastic snake in the grass?”.  The dead silence that met my question, followed by the sounds of running feet headed my way, let me know that there were no “jokers” in the house.  At least not today!  I thought, “Great, there’s a dead snake in my front yard.”

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     All three kids and I headed back out to look.  “He’s dead.”   “No, he’s not, he just moved his head.”  What, in fact, was happening, is that I had startled the poor snake in the process of eating his lunch!  Once we all found a spot to watch from three feet or so away and stood still, he continued the process of devouring lunch.  The problem was, he was ingesting a racer snake, sideways; and the racer snake’s body was wrapped around quite a good-sized bunch of grass. 

 

 

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     He swallowed and thrashed.  He thrashed and swallowed.  He tugged and he pulled.  More and more of the racer disappeared.  Finally, the Gopher snake wrapped his tail around the leg of a chair, braced himself and pulled the rest of the much smaller snake off the grass !  It was fascinating and incredibly cool to watch!  By and by, he realized that we were looking on, so he slithered off toward our play set with Will following behind.  He paused, momentarily, and then took off across our front yard toward the roadside ditch.  I didn’t scream anymore today, but I did keep a careful eye out as I walked about doing all of the watering!

     I love that we have good critters here, as well as harmful ones!  God’s creation is marvelous to behold!  Though the snakes do startle me and cause me to shriek, I do appreciate them.  Maybe this guy will wander on out to the garden and watch for any more tomato plant stealing rodents.

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     Our family homeschools the year round, but we are winding things up just a bit this week in preparation for a two week break.  The boys are just finishing up a couple of books and then they will be done until May 26.  I know that we’ll all enjoy the break.  Dani gave Will a hand this morning.  We don’t answer all of the questions asked around here, but we do help the asker find the answers for themselves.  One of my foremost goals for my children’s education is that they will become lifelong learners.  My job is giving them the tools they’ll need to continue educating themselves for the rest of their lives.  I am grateful for, and humbled by, this task. 

     Joann asked about my pantry and how and what I keep there.  You know, Joann, keeping and stocking a pantry is not a one size fits all deal.  Almost all of our cooking is done from scratch.  My pantry is full of ample supplies of flour, wheat berries, sugar (organic & refined), brown sugar, some Confectioner’s sugar, honey, molasses, dried pastas, hot cereals (old fashioned oats, Scottish oats, 7 grain, rolled 5 grain, etc.), a small supply of cold cereal, dried herbs, spices, vinegars, oils, dried fruit, miscellaneous other baking supplies, a few snack-type items (pretzels, crackers), etc.  We also keep a fair amount of canned goods on hand, but only the things my family eats regularly.  We prefer fresh, then frozen, but rely on canned veggies and fruits more in the off season.  We all prefer canned green beans to frozen, though (unless they’re fresh frozen from our own garden), so canned green beans are a staple here.  

      My freezer supply is a bit diminished just now, partly by design.  This time of year, of course, most if not all of of last year’s harvest has been used.  It is also about time for the annual defrosting of my large freezer, and it’s nice to not have so much to take out and keep frozen when that job rolls around.  Frankly, grocery prices have soared and even the “on sale” meats have started rising out of my budgetary reach.  Once I have defrosted my freezer, however, I plan to make a concerted effort to pare back expenditures in other areas to build the meat supply back up a bit.  Ideally we would like to be raising our own beef, pork and poultry; but it is not something that we can achieve just yet.  One day, Lord willing. 

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     In fact, I’d love to have my beautiful Nubians back in milk, too.  In the meantime, though, Gigi is enjoying the sun.  Perhaps you can’t tell by the picture, but she’s actually looking quite irritatedly at me.  Well, excuse me, Miss Gigi,  for interrupting your siesta!

     All that to say, each one of us must shop and stock (or not) our pantries and freezers as best serves our own families.  A family of just a husband and wife and a pet or two would shop and stock up much differently than my family of five, just as I would shop and stock up much differently than my friend Lisa who has eight children.  Everyone’s household finances and budget are also different.  The Lord has blessed us all very richly, yet very differently.  Look to Him for wisdom as you seek to look well to the ways of your households when it comes to providing for your families.

     One further comment on this subject before I let it go entirely.  I would highly suggest that you read my friend, Brenda’s, series on managing in and preparing for troubled times.  This is an excellent series, written by a woman who, like most women our age, has endured various seasons of economic hardship.  Her wisdom is born of experience and age and is offered with love in the true spirit of Titus 2. 

     Lastly, Melanie512 left a comment on yesterday’s book review, asking,
           “i’ve been looking at your site for a little while now, and i’m interested in knowing more aobut your religion. basics, i guess. what denomination is it? do you have to wear skirts all the time? do you HAVE to stay home? etc…”

     Melanie, I’ve actually addressed this issue before, and I’ll give you the link to that post in just a moment.  My “religion basics”…. I am a sinner, saved by grace.  I believe the Bible to be God’s inerrant Word.  I try to live my life in a way that I hope will bring glory to God, but I fail quite often.  Our theology is reformed, but only recently so.  There is no “have to” about the fact that I wear dresses, or wear my hair long, or that I am a keeper at home.  My goodness, I have posted oodles of pictures of Dani wearing pants, some in just the last few days!  These matters are all points of personal conviction.  You can read about my personal convictions in these areas at this post (scroll down a bit, it’s there!).   That said, and understanding that these convictions are my own (shared and embraced by my husband as well) and not a mandate or “rule” of my church or the denomination, here is a link to the church where we are members, and a link to the denomination that our church is a part of.

     I had a few more things to mention, but our power was out for a bit over an hour this evening, and it is now quite late.  My husband will be back at work tomorrow, and the kids and I have a full day ahead of us, too.  Homeschooling, tending to my home and homestead, perhaps a bit of sewing…..all work I am blessed to have and to do.   

God bless you as you look well to the ways of your household!
Proverbs 31:27
 

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10 comments to Of Pantries, Dresses & Other Such Homey Things

  • “Look, it is chef Dani! ‘First you sneak up behind your brother, and while he is not looking you PUSH him into the soup! HAHAHAHAAAA, then you stir him with the spatula'”  Good golly that boy and his tater heads, he scares me sometimes, where ever does he get his sense of humor from anyways?

  • Thank you so much, I have been reading your blog for many months now. I wanted to tell you that you have been an encouragement and a blessing to me. It meant alot that you laft the links for me to see your church and your beliefs. I am a independant Baptist, and my hubby likes for me to know people abit before I just accept everything they say. He too has looked at your blog to see what I am reading. I am very happy to have you as one of the resources to count on. I am a first generation christian and don’t have alot of “good” advice on alot of things. Thank you so much. Michelle Corning.

  • .. Goodness Cheryl! TWO SNAKES… I would have died on the spot… I send the dogs and cats out in ranks ahead of me when I have to walk the property… I honestly don’t doubt a bit that the snake that tempted Eve must have been a sight to behold… cause I think if it had tempted me, it wouldn’t have gotten the first word out before I beat it to death with a stick…! ~smile~

    I pray a good day for you!
    Lea

  • Gosh, Dani…I would not have a clue as to where Will gets his sense of humor!! I have read a couple of blogs…a goat-milker and a Botzy…who kinda remind me of him!!!:p

    Cheryl, your post was wonderful. I would still be screaming about that snake! Thank goodness we only have garters here, at least in the yard. There are other kinds by the river, but I get the willies just thinking about it.

    I love your insight about Schedules and God. You are SO right!:goodjob:

  • LOL I like you snake story! :laugh:

  • LOL I like you snake story! :laugh:

  • I never get used to seeing a snake in my garden! Just reading about them gives me the shivers!

    I enjoyed reading about your day and your garden. The Ball Book is on my list of must haves as I plan on canning some of our bounty this year (usually I freeze everything). 

    Manuela

  • The snake(s) was/were fascinating and icky all at the same time!!!  But, like ya’ll, I would’ve had to stand and watch it too!  “Inquiring minds…” and all that!  :p

    Saturday on our way to my family’s reunion, we passed by LOTS of strawberry “fields” and of course, I thought of you all!  I’m a little bit sad that I won’t be close by when all those berries start to bear fruit.  I know you would be giving me a call saying, “Alesha, do you want to come and pick some berries?  They’re coming out our ears!” and I would gladly come running to rescue you!!!  :yes:

    And “yay!” for the healthy little ones joining your circle of friends!

    Thanks for the great post as usual!  I know it takes a lot more than “usual” to post nearly every day.  I certainly appreciate your faithfulness.

    Alesha

  • Cheryl~ I feel so honored that you actually mentioned me by name and put my blog address up on your blog, wow I feel I should make some sort of speech or something….Seriously thanks for the info. Yes I know that things are different for each household but was just curious about what the basics are..I guess I have that covered, I have all the regular cooking things, flour, sugar ect… I am having a hard time organizing it, like where do I put the dog treats next to the Cheeze~its or next to the cereal???They have to be close to the ground so Molly can see them when I head anywhere in the direction of the pantry!! If you and Dani run out of things to do you can always come and organize my pantry, we could have lots of fun kind of like an ummm organizing pantry party!!

    Thanks again, you have the greatest blog and you are all so funny!! Did you notice on my blog that on one of my recent posts I mentioned you and your blog and then I was even  bold enough to steal your signature verse, but I did give you credit for it and only used it that one time

    Blessings, Joann~

  • Hi, Cheryl…This was a most wonderful, information packed post! I love it when you have time to write the long ones. Your writing makes it sound like your lives are so rich and full.

    You are a brave woman to have not only NOT had a heart attack after stumbling across that snake, but for going back to actually LOOK at it and take photos! 😮

    I hope that you’re feeling better today, and that you’ll have a very happy Mother’s Day tomorrow. May the Lord bless you and your family continually and abundantly…

    ~Becky