The Willard HomesteadThe Homestead, the Emporium and simple living on our funny farm.

  • Oh deer.

    On our way home from Good Spirit Lake last month, we came upon this lovely little family of deer.

  • Another season over.

    The seasons are changing, quickly.

  • A mother’s plan.

    A while back I came across a post in my facebook feed about a family of four girls who had their photo taken together every year, for years, in the same order. The photos began from the time the four were ages 15-25, and went on for the following 36 years. I thought this was pretty impressive and it got me thinking about my own children, and photography.

    Like all parents, we started with our first child snapping one photo after another. We have quite literally thousands of photos of Alesia, our eldest. When Joshua came along, life was a little busier with two but we still managed to get a fair amount of photos. Probably a more ‘normal’ amount of photos.

  • Just 67 days until Christmas!

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    It’s snowing!

    We really aren’t ready quite yet. The barn stalls are not done for the horses, and the garden has yet to be tilled… but it looks SOOoo pretty!!

    And we may not be ready yet but Julia made sure that Jasper is.

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    Let it snow…let it snow…let it snow…

  • Progress continues, in work and our new life as a family of eight… Tuesday.

    It is beginning to truly feel like autumn here on the prairies now. There is no longer any way to deny it. A few short weeks ago our kids were swimming in the lake and sun bathing, and now it’s just about time for mittens and hats!

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    We live in deep farm country. Above is the road to our home. We are the only home on this entire stretch of grid road as far as the eyes can see, which is quite far on the prairies! All the farm land surrounding us was harvested this past week and it seems the season is truly winding down. Winter around here for most is much more ‘slow’ then spring and fall. In the spring and fall it’s all about, “Hurry up, and wait”. You’ve got to hurry up and get in the crops quick enough in the spring … then wait. In the autumun you have to hurry up and get the crops out … then wait … for spring again.

    For us, everything has been hurry, hurry, hurry, since we got here. Hurry and get the garden in. Hurry and get the barn ready. Hurry and pick up our new son in BC. Hurry and help him to settle into our life, and us settle into having him in our lives, so we can hurry up and be a ‘real’ family. Hurry up and wait, it seems, is also the theme of this whole adoption process! Hurry up and get paper work done. Then wait. Hurry up and get more paperwork done. Then wait again. Hurry up and get him home. Then wait for more paperwork to be done. lol Hurry up and wait.

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    We’re learning lots of patience through it all, on the farm, in the adoption process, and even through the addition of a new family member. It’s been a very big life change. Bigger then adding any of our other children, even the twins. It’s been a lot like the fence above. That fence looks alright, but once the horses were in the paddock, they quickly found weak spots and began to break out where ever they could. The fence ‘looked’ fine, but it wasn’t fine. It needed rebuilding. For the time being, we had ‘hodge podged’ some fixes, well enough to get by until we could spend the time needed to fix the fence properly. Some parts of the fence were usable and left as is, other parts had to go and be rebuilt completely, other parts just had to be fixed. We’ve been rebuilding, not just on the property, but within our family too. As a foster child, life can be a lot like that fence. Some parts will be ‘hodge podged’ the best they can be by people in your life that won’t be there long term. Once a child has a forever home, the real work can begin and life can be ‘rebuilt’, in a way that will remain solid and sound forever.

    Adding a teen into the mix is a lot different then adding a newborn baby (or even two, twins) into your family. With a new baby, you train them up as you go along, living life together, learning together as they grow. For an older adoptive child, it’s like they are put on a crash course to learn everything they missed out on while life was unstable. Life becomes about survival, not a slow growing up process of learning one day at a time, in a stable, loving enviroment. Because some of the key people in your life are not invested in the long term future, a lot of life for a foster child can be spent getting through one day to the next, for the child and even for the foster parents.  Important parts of life, and learning, are missed out on, not due to anyone’s ‘fault’, just due to the unfortunate circumstances.

    It’s been over 3 months now, and there’s been bumps along the way, hardships for each family member, but we’re getting there. It’s been a huge change not just for Pieter, or us as parents, but for our other children as well. The peaceful, quiet, routine life we once knew was changed pretty much in an instant as we all try to fit ourselves into a new life as a family of eight. My husband said it best. When we decided to adopt, he figured we’d have a period of time of adjusting to our new child fitting into our family. However, the biggest change & surprise has been that our entire family dynamic and way of life has really had to change completely, to fit our new son & brother in. We’re having to figure out a new dynamic, a new routine, new ways of living, a whole new scope that fits everyone.

    It’s hard to explain, but I’m sure anyone who has adopted probably understands completely. One small example, would be our eldest son. He’s been accustomed to being the only boy in the family for close to 20 years. He’s always had his own space, has always been very independent, has a myriad of hobbies and tools etc. to use for those hobbies. He’s also quite quiet, but does enjoy good conversation when he’s got a minute to spare between one of his three jobs. He has been this way since he was old enough to walk. Always working, always learning, always busy with his hands, and always quiet unless he’s got a moment to take a break and have good conversation.

    Our new son, because he’s moved around a bit from home to home, and because of the ‘survival’ mode of living in foster care, is quite the opposite. He does not really have any hobbies, or know how to entertain himself (but is learning some new hobbies quickly!) He does not really know how to be independent and tends to crowd and be a little ‘in your face’ and very much, in your space. He also has not mastered the art of conversation, and tends to ramble a whole lot about a whole lot of nothing. Peace ceased to exist in our home the day he arrived. He’s uncomfortable with quiet. We are all very comfortable with it, and greatly enjoy it. lol That’s probably been one of the biggest changes.

    When Pieter moved into Joshua’s room, he basically took it over completely. Boxes and boxes everywhere. Lego, everywhere. Joshua’s room did not go from looking like Joshua’s room, to Pieter and Joshua’s room. It went from looking like Joshua’s room, to looking like Pieter’s room, with Joshua staying over. I’m quite sure Joshua felt like he would have to help Pieter fit into his room, but instead Joshua has had to figure out how to fit BACK into his own room.

    *Don’t take my sharing this the wrong way, or as anything against my new son. I don’t mean it as anything negative. I’m sharing the realities of the differences between the two boys.

    Thankfully, after the initial shock of a total life change has worn off, Joshua got busy. He built shelves in his room for all of Pieter’s lego creations. He reorganized and reconstructed their big closet for all of Pieter’s boxes, and the bedroom finally looks like Joshua AND Pieter’s room. Also, Joshua had Pieter HELP him to build all this, so it FEELS like “their” room too. They created their space, together.

    The changes in Joshua’s life, and how he tackled it to solve the issues that arose, are a very good example of how it is for the entire family. As a family, we are learning how to become a smooth running, once again peaceful, family of eight now. It’s a work in progress, but we do see progress, it’s not easy, but it’s promising.

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    Back on the farm… This was my view for most of Tuesday .Pieter and Julia helped my husband put in the whole new fence line for the horses.

    My husband never ceases to amaze me. He personally could care less for horses but he spends SO much of his time and energy working, to make life possible for the rest of us to have our horses!

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    There’s an aspect of my husbands personality that can tend to drive me a little crazy at times. He’s a perfectionist. Sometimes I want to take over a job he’s doing and do it myself because he’s so darn picky that I often feel like it takes three times as long as need be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a pretty darn picky person myself when it comes to my own work, but when it comes to some things like building sheep pens, or finishing off the cold cellar, or building a door for an animal pen, a shed, etc. my husband will always go the extra mile and do it ten times better then I might feel is needed…

    But, I have to admit that as I look down the fence line as he’s pounding those posts, and its so straight that it you look a certain way, you only see the very first post… I realize the very thing that can drive me crazy is the very thing I also appreciate greatly about him.

    Once again, he went the extra mile for us. Not only did we pound in posts for a larger paddock, we worked into the dark that evening to pound posts for a 60X120 RIDING RING!!

    To say Julia is excited, is an understatement. I ‘might’ just be a little excited myself! What girl doesn’t dream of having her own horse and riding ring?!? I sure did, and I may not be so little anymore, but I sure hope to make use of that ring for many years to come. When all was done, and we were driving back to the house, Julia said, “Thank you both very, Very, VERY much for the riding ring!!”

    We are very blessed, with six very great kids.

    And tomorrow (Wednesday) Graydon goes back to work. It’s a good thing too, he needs the rest! lol The house is back to it’s regular routine of school, play, household things, farm chores, and business. I think we could all use a bit of rest too. 🙂

  • Autumn on the homestead

    So much to be done on a homestead in Autumn, to finish out summer, and prepare for winter.
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    We’ve gotten a lot done in a short time.
    My husband and two sons have been busy with lots of building around here!
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    The garden is almost ready to be crossed off the list. We’ve gotten 75% of the potatoes out now. Everything else but the beets and carrots have been removed, and preserved.
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    I’ve been canning stewed tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, pickles, apple juice and grape juice.
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    We’ve prepared and frozen about 90 pounds of applesauce, as well as cranberries for future sauce, raspberries for crumble, and sliced apples for pies. I’m hoping to can some apple pie filling and lots more apple juice.

    This year the dehydrator has been running overtime. Tomatoes, celery, celery leaves, Swiss chard, onions, and even lettuce.
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    We still have pigs to finish out with approximately the next month.

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    And a full cow will be ready this month as well. We are adding two more freezers to our workshop. At this rate we may be better off investing in an industrial full size freezer. However, I most likely won’t be feeding eight people forever, so one day we won’t need quite as much food put away. At least not all in our small home! 😉

    Things have been busy, but good. We’ve all decided we love fall on the prairies as much as summer now that we have our own homestead and the worries of where we will be have been left behind.

    It’s so very good to finally be home.

    How have you been preparing for winter and finishing out your summer? We’d love to hear from you!

  • A family that works together, stays strong.

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    There was something very surreal about scrambling together in the dark to find all the last garden goodies, by the light of the harvest moon last night!

    The three youngest girls especially enjoyed picking all their pumpkins this way, they thought it was ‘cool’ to hunt the pumpkins with the coyotes howling close by. Pieter found it fun to climb an apple tree in the dark and throw apples at his big brother who then put him in a hold and showed him who’s really ‘boss’.

    These are the moments that memories are made of. On a homestead, most of the best memories are made while ‘working’ together as a family.

    Remember that for YOUR family, even without a homestead.

    This is our first year with a ‘real’ homestead (and by prairie standards, it’s TINY!!!!) but this is most certainly not our first year doing homesteading type ‘work’ as a family because we’ve known all along that a family that works together, stays strong together.

    My best memories as a child were of our family working together. Building a home, or camping. Once our family kind of stopped working together because everyone was off on their own separate ways/lives, the very best memories seemed to fade. Life and stress got in the way.

    Take the time to MAKE those memories even after your kids are no longer little children!

    My older kids (22 & almost 20) sometimes wonder why I ‘organize’ things like potato picking, or hay time, etc. when all eight of us are home. It’s not easy to juggle with adult kids who have several outside-of-the-home jobs, but I do it because it’s so worth it! Wether they realize it or not, these will become the times they remember best!

    Now that we have Pieter here, it’s important for him to have some of these memories too! But its important for all six of our kids, and hubby and I too!

    Get to work as a family, and create some memories!

  • YouTube Review Contest!

    Contest time! Who wants a prize?!

    Recently I’ve discovered, thanks to some awesome customers who have sent me links, that there are reusable cloth reviews on… YouTube!
    Who knew?! Now we all do!

    Some of these reviews are for our Homestead Emporium Reusable (HER) products!

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    I think this is fantastic. I’m NOT a camera person myself, very camera shy! To see and hear others on YouTube, share about our products, is super fun AND I have to say… I’m SO impressed by those of you who are NOT camera shy! I want to see more!

    So… I’m going to offer up three prizes for YOUR Homestead Emporium YouTube product review videos! Create a video and email us the link, at wendy@homesteademporium.com

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    One grand prize of a 50$ gift certificate, and two prizes of a 20$ gift certificate!

    There will be voting for the BEST & most informative reviews!
    These prizes will not be randomly chosen! So share all the info that you wish you knew before starting cloth, as well as your thoughts on your favourite Homestead Emporium Reusable (HER) products! Whatever the product may be!

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    PLUS, just so no one feels left out, if you email us a Homestead Emporium Product YouTube review, you will receive a 5$ gift certificate good towards ANY instock items at our hyenacart shop!
    Simply email your YouTube video to Wendy at wendy@homesteademporium.com by Oct. 1st and she will email you the special coupon code by Oct. 15th!

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    Some tips on how to create a great review:

    -Be sure to have good lighting!

    – Set up your camera/phone in such a way to minimize movement!

    -If you’re camera shy, but still want to participate, simply put the products on camera and don’t worry about not being on camera yourself!

    -If you don’t like your voice on camera, get creative, use some nice background music and clearly visible cue cards for your review! Let the products speak for themselves along with your cue card notes!

    – Be creative and come up with new ideas on how to share your love of Homestead Emporium products!

    The contest is not just for our cloth pads! If you have any Homestead Emporium product, a blanket, facial cloths, baby mitts, not-so-flat wraps, pillows, trainers, anything we’ve made and you love, feel free to review it and share the review here!

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    Most importantly, have fun with this & keep it family friendly!
    *Any inappropriate videos will be disqualified at our discretion (inappropriate language, not family friendly, etc.)

    One last request, no mention of other company names/products in the videos.
    As much as I may feel blessed you’ve chosen our products over xyz’s products, it is a pet peeve of mine to see/hear another company spoken of negatively. Each pad maker/work at home mom/company works very hard at what we do! Some people love our products, some people love other products. No one product/company will be best for everyone!
    Let’s stick with info about Homestead Emporium’s products in these contest videos. 🙂

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    Contest closes Oct. 1s 2013t. We will post info on how to vote after Oct. 1st!

    5$ gift certificate codes will be sent out by Oct. 15th to everyone who sends a review link to Wendy.

    Once we’ve been able to post the video links on the blog here, voting will take place. The three prizes for the top videos will be awarded at that time!

    I am excited!
    I hope you are too!

  • Apples, apples, every where!

    I first blogged about our use of apples three years ago here on the homestead. Back then I was working with tens of pounds of apples. Now, on our new homestead in the prairies we’re dealing with hundreds of pounds of apples. So many that I don’t have time to blog about it. lol So I’m reposting this old post today so those of you new to the homestead can see how we make applesauce, and other things apples! 🙂