Pretty much every Monday morning I give our three youngest girls the morning off.
hey get to sleep in until about 10, and I take care of the animal chores.
It’s that time of the year again!
So many are saying winter is lasting too long and they can’t wait until it’s over. I say it’s going by much too fast! There’s so much to do before spring arrives!
First and foremost on the agenda is planning and preparing for the garden!
Today is our 24th Wedding Anniversary!
For some reason I woke up fighting grumpiness though, so I told the kids we’d have only a partial school day today and they agreed to make dinner for hubby and I too. We’re not able to get out and do anything special since he’s on 12 hour night shifts at the moment.
We have a lot to get done, so we finished up school quickly. While I cleaned, the girls set to work on shucking our corn crop. It grew so much better this year!
Elsa had a sweet surprise this week.
When we first moved to our homestead late last spring, we saw an advertisement for a mama cat and some kittens. She was all black. Elsa wanted her because her black cat had died the previous fall. So we drove the 1.5 hours to go pick up her and her kittens. We would keep one kitten and our friend wanted the other two kittens.
Elsa had Ceecee for about 3 months. We were told she had been burned by some teens as a kitten, but her fur had grown back nicely and only her tail showed any evidence of her sad story. Ceecee was a very friendly cat, and a good mom. However, she was scared of loud noises, and didn’t care much for the dogs. One night when our son lit a few small fireworks while family was visiting from the Netherlands, she got scared and ran away. We found her a few days later down the road at some grain bins.
About a month later, July 2013, she disappeared again. We searched everywhere for her, but never found her. We were sure the coyotes must have gotten her.
Two days ago Julia pulled me aside and said she was sure she caught a glimpse of a black cat that looked just like Ceecee, near the road by our driveway. We didn’t say anything to Elsa, because we were pretty sure there was just no way it really could have been Ceecee! She had disappeared 15 months ago! And, she really had only lived with us for a few months!
If we told Elsa, she was sure to spend her days calling and searching, and we just didn’t want to get her hopes up.
The next day I was filling up the sheeps water bucket when Julia called me from the horse paddock. She called, “Mom! You need to come here & see this!”
Being the worry wort I am, I immediately started praying, “Dear God, don’t let it be a horse injury!” and headed over to see what Julia needed me to see.
And there she was, holding Ceecee.
Fifteen months after she left, she found her way back. Shorter frost bitten ears, and a great big pregnant belly.
Anyone want a kitten in about 9 weeks?
Elsa couldn’t be happier!
Last fall I purchased a tiller at a farm auction for the hefty sum of 5 whole dollars. This past spring I decided to take it for a tune up before it was time to plant the garden.
I had been given the name and number of a gentleman that our friends recommended. So I gave him a call and brought the tiller over.
While there, him and his wife chatted up a storm with me about everything under the sun from my SUV & the best products to use to keep it running well, to farming, tractors, gardening to kittens, making buns, lard, and more. I love talking to farmers. There’s so much to learn from them!
While we chatted about gardening, at one point the wife asked if I had ever had banana potatoes after I mentioned wanting to grow purple Russian potatoes this year. I told her I had never heard of them before!
She quickly went into her home and brought out a handful of little yellow-ish potatoes for me. She said to cook them for dinner so our family could give them a try.
I looked at the handful of potatoes, and told her we are a family of 7 and knowing how much my kids love potatoes and trying new foods, would it bother her if I planted her potatoes in my garden, instead of cooking them and having them fight over the small feast? That way we would have several meals of banana potatoes instead!
She thought that was a great idea!
When hubby planted all our potatoes, he planted her handful of banana potatoes.
Yesterday we dug them all up!
Her gift of potatoes, stretched into FIVE gallons! Talk about stretching the goods!
Sometime this week we will cook up a dish of banana potatoes and finally taste them after patiently waiting for over 6 months. I’d say that return was well worth the wait!
I’ll be totally honest, my girls do not really enjoy weeding in the garden.
So…when I decided as part of their school year in the spring they would each grow their own fair sized garden plot start to finish, I expected them to complain!
Instead, they seemed excited!
It’ll be great in many ways for all of us. This years garden was overwhelming for me, I work full time hours plus homeschool, and the homestead. This will give about a third of my garden size over to them to care for.
In turn, they will be free to plant anything they would like, and watch it grow from seed to harvest! After that, preserving, cooking, and eating the foods they grow will also be a part of their learning process.
I think they are excited for a few reasons, but one is that even though they don’t like weeding, they LOVE harvesting, and they realize the work really does lead to the reward.
Even though this is our 20th homeschool year, I can honestly say I’m as excited for this upcoming year as I was on our first year!
We’re reaping what we’ve sown, in the garden and in our schooling too.
Some photos from parts of the garden yesterday. Lots of beets, potatoes, and tomatoes. I’m not sure how many tomato plants we planted, but you can see the first two biggest rows here and we have four more rows growing in succession. Almost all are Roma’s, for sauces etc..
The corn, peas, beans, pumpkins and carrots are also doing well but I’m not as happy with the melons as I just can not keep ahead of the weeds in that area this year.
I’m pretty sure my peppers are all a no-go this time. I’m just not sure starting peppers or toms from seeds will ever work for me. Most of my toms that are doing well, are ones we bought as plants. Meanwhile, I spent hours and hours of my time, energy, and electricity for heat lamps, trying to grow them from seed since March! When I think about those hours turned into hours working in my business, it doesn’t equal up. I’m also not fond of gardening ‘indoors’, so my time could be much better spent in the early spring. I believe next year I will focus that time on increasing my products in business, to stock up items for the shops, in preparation of the busy planting and summer season!
I totally failed at getting my salad greens planted. First we had all that rain and floods, then my tiller died. After that, I couldn’t seem to get the area designated for greens cleared of ALL the weeds that popped up from all that rain, long enough to plant the seeds!
I’ve decided I’ll plant a select few in a large antique laundry tub I have, and save the rest of the seeds for next year.
When I wander the garden this year(amidst all the horse flies and Mosquitos we have in an OVERABUNDANCE), if I look to all the enormous amounts of veggies that are doing so well, my heart swells and I feel so totally blessed. When I attempt to tackle the weeds that have completely overtaken other parts of the garden, I feel overwhelmed, and completely defeated.
This year has been a real mix of extreme ups and downs.
In the garden… and in our lives.
As a parent, there are many milestones we go through while raising our children. The final goal is the same through each of these milestones, to do the very best that we can to raise our kids right.
Excitement for the new path that’s laid out before this eldest daughter of mine.
Excitement in our family growing by the addition of a new son (in law).
Yet the occasional struggle to come to grips that my time as “mommy” to my “little girl” will never be the same.
I was actually doing quite fine with it all, enjoying it and embracing it all very well actually… until I heard a song. I can’t even remember where I heard it? TV perhaps, or the background music on a Facebook video? Maybe the radio? I’m not sure.
Over 22.5 years ago for Alesia’s very first Christmas my husbands aunt gave us a music tape of lullabies.
Every single night for many years afterwards I would play this tape and sing along with the lullabies while I rocked my baby, and later on, babies.
This particular song was one of my favourites. It’s brought back such strong vivid memories of my first years as a mother with this Baby of Mine.
I sometimes feel like I’ve spent half my life battling this little girl. We are alike in some ways, both stubborn and strong willed. In other ways, we are very different. These differences have been the heart of many battles over the years.
I am an introvert, and this girl of mine is an extrovert through and through. It’s often difficult for us to understand one another because of this.
Yet these same ‘issues’ that caused struggles growing up, are probably some of the things we admire most in one another.
I admire her ease in public and ability to take on new tasks and meet new people.
I expect one day when she has children, she’ll appreciate her mother’s ability to be content at home raising her family.
But no matter the struggles, the joys have been so much more. With marriage and the addition of John to the family, there’s the promise of even more joy. We truly are blessed.
Family and friends are coming from as far as the Netherlands, Texas, Ontario, British Columbia and of course, nearby, to help us celebrate! I’m in awe at the willingness of so many to drop everything on such short notice to join us. It will be a true celebration!
This introvert is trying her best to embrace the ‘crowd’ and follow her daughters lead in enjoying all the people! 😉
As we spend these last ten days preparing for Alesia’s wedding, I’m sure the emotional roller coaster will continue and I’ll keep hanging on for the ride!
Raising children is definitely the ride of my life! I’m quite sure that ride doesn’t stop when they get married!
How about you?
As a parent it can be more difficult to fit everything in but you can do it!
What are the extra’s in your life that you’ve been missing out on that you would like to find the time for again?
It’s Monday and we’re behind on shipping.
I REALLY hate it when this happens! I hope my customers truly understand that we never ‘aim’ to have shipping delays!! We’ve been working hard since finally settling into our ‘final’ homestead, on getting shipping times down. However, sometimes life gets in the way and one day turns into two, then three, a busy weekend comes along, and here we are, late.
Our goal at the Homestead Emporium has always been to have two shipping days per week. This actually works out quite well and most weeks one of us gets all our packages to the post office twice. Sometimes, like this past week, things come up that cause every.single.thing we do to get backed up. We didn’t even have time for a stocking this week, which REALLY affects the home budget! A trip to the city on Tuesday for taxes, pretty much a full day adventure. Friday and Saturday an indoor garage sale to benefit our local museum. My goal each week is to TRY my best to have two days for just family, Saturday and Sunday. That didn’t work so well this week. I ended up working until 11:30pm Sunday, and I’m still not caught up.
This is the one real struggle for me about being a work at home mom. Work and home life must co-exist. There’s no heading off to work for 8 hours, working, getting it done, and going home. Since I’m at home and not away at work, it can often be taken for granted that I can run the kids to places, or I can stop everything to do whatever might come up. On top of working at home, I homeschool the kids, so I really do NOT like to disrupt our routine. I prefer to keep weekday mornings free for school and weekday afternoons (and often evenings) free for work. Things flow well when we stick to this schedule.
What’s all this got to do with shipping times?
I read a review the other day about a work at home mom (wahm) and it got me pondering our shipping issue. The reviewer was comparing the first wahm to another, saying that the first wahm had a smaller business then the second wahm, but the second had faster turn around times for email replies and shipping. So, to this reviewer, the first wahm had no excuse for not being just as fast, if not faster.
The review, in reality, was simply not a fair comparison. It got me wondering if this was the view of most wahm customers? Do they expect super fast shipping and emails from wahm’s because they are always at home and should be near their computer and sewing machines?
The first work at home mom does a lot of the work herself, as I do, in her business. Her turn around time was being compared to another work at home mom that has a lot of help. The first work at home mom does all her own sewing, all her own email replying, as do I. The second work at home mom has seamstresses that do the majority of her sewing now, and her husband also works the home business full time.
The comparison, and ultimately the review left for this wahm, did not take each woman’s reality into account.
I know our business is not lightening fast with shipping, and I really don’t know how to change that without drastically changing our family & homestead lifestyle.
I do have a shipping helper, but she’s young, and still learning. She does a great job gathering all the items and packaging them, but the final job of closing up packages and printing out shipping labels is still something I have to do. I decided a long time ago that this business would remain a FAMILY business as much as is possible while allowing our children (who are all now teens and adults) to come alongside and learn the business in ways that they WANT to participate. There’s no forced labour. Although, my son may argue with that as he really doesn’t “love” doing snaps, but thankfully he still does about 60% and our 16 year old is helping me do the other 40%. That means I’m doing snaps again where as before, Joshua did them ALL. The business is growing though, and I’m not wanting to ‘force’ him to do more than he wants to do, but there’s only one of me and only so much time in a day. Or in a week.
It’s a constant balancing act. Trying to figure out the very best way to allow the business to grow, while allowing my children to grow IN the business, in ways they WANT to.
This means deciding when it’s best to hire outside help, like Wendy and Ryan from www.eveningdesign.com, who have taken over a lot of my webwork! None of my children have the capacity, or desire, to do webwork at this time. At one time, Alesia did, so she took care of some, like all our etsy listings. Now she’s an assistant manager in her outside-the-home-job, and is in a serious relationship. Her other half lives 2 hours away so this means a lot of travel time for them. She simply doesn’t have the time to devote to Homestead Emporium any longer. So now Wendy is my right hand woman when it comes to all things online! And she does a fantastic job!
But Wendy can’t come over here and ship packages for me. She’s 2 hours away. :p
Besides, our children all enjoy the income they make from the business. This is the ultimate goal, that each family member who so desires, is able to make a good income through Homestead Emporium.
But that requires patience from me, to teach them and work alongside them. Teaching your own teens to work alongside you is different than being able to hand over a job to an outside adult. Since I do both, I know which one is easier. Hiring an adult…
But nothing worth while in life is easy, and watching our children grow and learn from a business I began is worth the extra work. And patience.
However, it does require a little more patience from our customers too. My hope has always been that each one of you will feel it’s worth the wait too.
Our family and business goal, has never been to deliver the FASTEST.
Our family and business goal has been to deliver the very BEST!
I probably shouldn’t even type that out, I’m likely to ‘jinx’ myself and forget all about blogging from here on out! Things have been relatively busy here on the homestead for the past while. Then again, when isn’t it? Between getting ready for spring and planting seeds in countless pots in hopes of not having to buy starter plants this year, to the regular work of the Homestead Emporium, to homeschooling 3 grade 10’s and every day life of cooking, cleaning, and caring for animals, I don’t doubt busy is the ‘normal’ for our family. This afternoon I spent 1.5 hours planting more seeds. So far I’ve learned that the Jalapeño pepper seeds grow wonderfully and easily. Onion seeds are either very difficult, or they simply hate me. Sweet peppers came up ‘ok’. Out of all the seeds I started, I have 6 healthy good sized seedlings. Giant peppers, I have four. Hmmm…. I guess we’ll be eating a lot of SPICEY foods this upcoming year. lol Good thing most of us like the spicy flavour of Jalapeño! I hope to make Jalapeño infused oil this year too, so I’ll need extras in case I goof up a few times. Or more. So far my asparagus seeds are not really showing any promise, but I have lots of seeds left and considering they take 2-3 years before we can eat any anyways, I’m not in a hurry. We’ll get there, sooner or later! I have 3 wonderberry trees/bushes/seedlings coming up already. I’m pleased about that. Growing veggies is one thing I expect to be able to do. Growing fruit, to me is a true added bonus. I found out today that you can grow elderberry here in Saskatchewan. If I can’t find any starters this year, I’ll definitely be looking for seeds to start my own next year! My tomato plants are doing alright. They are a tad leggy but I’ve started some more seeds in hopes that all is not lost. My Dad’s tomatoes grow the best, followed by the Pearly Pinks, with the Amish Paste tomatoes coming up very poorly. That’s a disappointment since I want, and need, them the most. I started a bunch more today in a better starter soil. Hopefully they will come up better this time. I was leafing through all my seed packets today and realized quite a few seeds need to be planted 2-3 weeks before last frost… hmmm…. that would be a week or two from now. Considering we can barely get TO the garden due to snow, and on days like today, muck, things will need to warm up and dry up awfully quick for that to be happening any time soon. Knowing the incredible rush & hurry that occurs once spring planting season is upon us, and knowing that I was too late with about half my seeds last year, almost causes my heart to skip a beat thinking about the busyness that will soon be upon us! Homesteading isn’t easy, but I have to admit, that for the most part it’s quite pleasurable. The other week when the family was away and I was left to feed all the animals their mid-day meal, even though it was blustery outside, I found myself pausing as I pushed the wheelbarrow of hay and just gazing around in awe that all this is ours. That this is my life. Finally. I really don’t think the wonder of that will ever cease. On the Homestead the baby animals are growing well. Sadly, Cinder the pint sized lamb did not make it. She fought well for about a month and we had hoped perhaps she’d simply be a pint sized lamb for the rest of her life but she passed away in her sleep one night. She never did figure out how to eat, or even suck on a bottle, so it wasn’t really a surprise. We had been syringe feeding her every feeding since birth. She gained weight slowly but steadily, and always seemed happy, and definitely very sweet, but she just never thrived, and always only barely survived. Her brother and sister and then Millie, our first lamb, are all growing like weeds! They get to play outside daily now that the weather is warmer, and they love it. Millie is so happy to finally have playmates! She always tried hard to get her mama to play with her, jumping up on her back, bouncing all around her, but to no avail. Now she has two playmates as they all share the large stall together, and the outdoor pen. It won’t be long before it’s time to find new homes for the moms. Our ram has already found a new home with a great big family of girls. Shaylah was SO worried that he’d miss her, but seeing as he’s gone from having 2 girlfriends to about 100 times as many… I think he’ll survive. Thankfully Millie, his daughter, is just like him. Super friendly, learns fast, and is more of a pet then livestock, so Shaylah’s very happy about keeping her. Julia is raising her lambs to sell once they are older. Once they are sold, she says she’ll stick with horses and focus more on horse training and riding. Shaylah will be getting one or two Shetland lambs early summer, and will raise them, along with Millie, to be used for their wool from now on. She’s also got plans to make a small cart, which she intends on teaching Millie to pull. We’ll see how that goes! I think we’ll need to make a custom halter for her, since their wool tends to be pulled on when sheep pull carts. I’m pretty sure we can figure something out though, with a little creativity! As I keep writing I’m realzing I probably don’t blog a lot because it always takes me so long and I write too much. It’s a vicious cycle! One day I’ll learn how to write SHORT blog posts. Obviously not today though! Maybe I’ll try that tomorrow. 😉