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

  • 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! 🙂

  • Texting & Driving. Just don’t do it. It’s that simple.

    A few months back, I had borrowed my daughters fairly small car to drive into the city. It was a Tuesday, later afternoon. I was making the almost 2 hour drive for one of our ten adoption course sessions. My husband came most sessions, but had to miss two. This particular Tuesday was one of those times.

    Since we live in the prairies, the drive to the city is flat, and fairly straight, and simply an easy drive.

    This is probably the worst part of prairie driving. People are so accustomed to the easy drives, that they just don’t expect the unexpected.

    I was driving along, enjoying the scenery and being alone in the cute sporty car with the music playing. There were few vehicles driving by me heading in the other direction, and even fewer behind me heading my way. At one point I noticed a big black truck a little ways behind me.

    On these types of drives I always put on the cruise control, just a smidge over the speed limit so I’m not being ‘slow’, but not enough over the limit to ever worry about a speeding ticket. I enjoy driving, and don’t enjoy rushing, so the cruise control is great for me.

    As I was going along, there was nothing remarkable about the drive at all. I was simply minding my own business. At one point up ahead, there were a few bumps in the road and these bumps were marked with a small, but noticeable red traffic warning sign. So I began to slow down to prepare for the slight ‘impact’ of those bumps in the road.

    I just happened to quickly glance in my rear view mirror, just as we’re taught way back when we’re learning to drive.

    Suddenly, that big black truck I saw a ways behind me before, was almost on my back bumper, and the driver had not even noticed I had slowed down. He was headed straight at me, full speed. He was RIGHT.THERE.

    I quickly hit the gas peddle to speed up, and at the same time I noticed in my rearview mirror that he looked up from what he was doing and realized I had slowed down in front if him.

    He had been holding his phone just like this:

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    I know that he had felt very confident that he could see perfectly well in front of him with his phone right out in front.

    I know that he felt very confident that all was well, the road was all clear, him and I were quite obviously both set to cruise control.

    The weather was good, roads were dry.

    There was nothing to worry about.

    Perfect road conditions to text while driving. Why not? Nothing else to do while driving down a boring straight stretch of prairie highway right?

    Wrong.

    There is NEVER a perfect time to text while driving.

    Or to read a text while driving.

    Nothing you could text is EVER important enough to risk killing yourself, or possibly someone like me.
    A mother to five, adopting a sixth, wife to one, sister to four, daughter to living parents, aunt to thirteen children, daughter in law, sister in law to four, cousin to many, friend and acquaintance to countless…

    The list goes on.

    Do YOU want to be responsible for taking me, or someone like me, out of the lives of ALL those people?

    No?

    Then watch this video. It’s important. And it’s very well done too.

    And yes, it is also sad.

    But watch it anyway.
    Your family, and my family, are worth it.

    from one second to the next.

  • Easy cherry pitter!

    The kids picked cherries for me this evening and I pitted them with ease!

    I made myself a cherry pitter out of an old small fork.

    I had seen a quick video on YouTube : http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LevzJ7X1A_Q&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DLevzJ7X1A_Q

    When I first watched the video, I thought, “How could that really even simplify pitting cherries? How much quicker could it actually be?”

    I mean really? Cherry pitting can’t be THAT hard.

    Well, I found out it’s not that hard, but it is a pain in the rear, and time consuming, with a knife! Not to mention messy!

    So I figured that I should spend a few moments of my time and make a cherry pitter, after trying to cut out about half a dozen cherries.

    So glad I did! The rest of the cherries took me about 3 minutes to pit! Way easy! And nicer looking finished results too, and no real mess!

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  • Forgiveness & Grace

    Now that our time away is over and I have some time to sit down with my thoughts about the ten days of travelling, I realize I have a hard road of forgiveness and grace ahead of me. I’m really struggling with some things that have recently come up.
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    All my life I have chosen to be quiet about a lot of things that have happened in my past. I have always believed, that while it is my right to share MY stories and be as open as I am about MY life, when it comes to sharing parts of my life, especially difficult times, if it involves other persons, it is no longer just MY story to share.

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    This is why I don’t often share personal things about my past, my family, my husband, my children, etc.. My stories, that include them, are their stories too. Perhaps they are not interested in having their stories shared from my point if view. Stories are personal.

    When I do share, it’s because I have simply asked for their permission to share.

    However, the times that have truly had the most impact on my life, and my faith, are not usually ‘happy’ stories. Sometimes, I know the persons involved in those personal stories would be upset if I shared them.

    So I simply keep quiet, and a very large part of my life never gets shared. But those are the deepest parts of me. The parts I feel mean the most, and the stories of mine that can impact others lives the most too! Stories in which many of us share common bonds, trials, tribulations, strengths, and weaknesses.

    I don’t like shallow, and often feel like I’m living a shallow life by not sharing the deepest parts of me. But deep could hurt some of those whom I love…

    I always thought I was doing everyone a favour by not sharing my stories. I thought I was being honourable, and respectful, by keeping those stories tucked away where no one could see them.

    But lately…
    I’m realizing that I may not be doing anyone any favours by being quiet.

    Mostly…
    I’m not doing myself any favours.

    It seems that by keeping quiet, it has been misinterpreted to be a sign of weakness.

    This could not be further from the truth. It takes a whole lot of strength to be still. It takes a great amount of strength to be quiet.

    During our time away, as we travelled out west to pick up our new son, some issues from the past surfaced. I’m trying hard to work through it all. Especially feelings of anger. I refuse to let anger control me, or take up any head space. There’s SO much more to life, too much to let anger have ANY of it! I’ve always let go of anger, and moved onto grace. It’s a much better way to live. A much better place to be.

    But how do you truly forgive, and live under grace, when some don’t seem to want forgiveness or even feel they need it?

    I don’t really know, but I value a peaceful, and grace filled life too much not try my best to figure it out.

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  • Are YOU, or your kids, bored?

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    I saw this on a friends Facebook and love it.
    All my life I’ve wondered how anyone could ever be ‘bored’. Certainly not for lack of opportunity to DO, and LIVE, for that only comes from lack of willingness to think, and look beyond ourselves. We must make ourselves aware of life around us.

    If I were ever bored, I would do some baking and go give it to someone. If I didn’t bake, I’d make a sandwich, or even buy some food, and go give it to someone.

    If I had no ability to bake, or money to buy something to share, I’d go for a walk, with my eyes open to my surroundings and the needs around me. I’d go pick up litter. We’ve actually done this.

    There’s much too much to do in this life to be bored! If you’re bored, find an adventure. If you can’t find one, create one!

    If you still can’t come up with something to do, go ask someone else how you can help them. An elderly neighbour, or a new mom.

    This is just my opinion, but allowing boredom to make a place in ones life is a dangerous open door for something else. Depression.

    I’m not saying if you get bored you are depressed, or if you are depressed you are just bored.

    I’m simply saying, don’t let yourself fall into a trap of feeling ‘bored’. If you force yourself to DO something instead, especially for someone else, only good can come from it.

    If you allow yourself to sit and be bored, it helps no one, most especially not you.

    And please, do NOT allow your kids to be bored, or to say they are bored. If they are, or say they are, take them by the hand and open their eyes to the world around them, including the needs of others.

    If a child is old enough to be bored, they are old enough to help someone.
    It begins with us parents. We can change our children’s expectation to be entertained into an expectation to be a help when there is nothing else to be done!

    I have five children (6 as of July 15th!!). The eldest is 21, youngest are now 13. Boredom has never been a part of our lifestyle. Don’t let it be a part of yours.

    You may say, “But you live in the country, on a homestead…”

    In the past 23 years we have lived in a bachelor suite, a basement ‘apartment’, in a small town, in a large town, on a city lot, on 5 acres, and now on 18 acres.

    We have lived in Ontario, on the west coast of British Columbia, and now in the rural prairies of Saskatchewan.

    We have been financially well off, and we have been flat broke, and everywhere in between!

    We have had a stable lifestyle, and we have had very rocky rough times. Even in our marriage.

    Your place, space, funds available, surroundings, and/or situation in life do not cause boredom.

    Only YOU are capable of ‘causing’ boredom in your life.

  • Our daughters, and talking about periods.

    Someone recently asked what to do about their daughter starting her period, so I thought I’d write a little about that here on the blog.

    I have four girls, ages 13-21. One daughter began shortly after turning 11! So very young! She happens to be our daughter with aspergers too, so that made it even more important to help her understand it was all fine, and normal. Thankfully, she’s a very black & white thinker, so I explained the facts and that was basically that!
    The other three girls began at 12-13 years of age, each child is so unique!

    Because I make cloth pads for a living (www.homesteademporium.com), my girls knew all about periods & pads long before they began their cycles. A couple of them even looked forward to starting because they had helped to make their very own pad ‘stash’! That made it a lot more fun.

    I always suggest to those wanting to have their daughters try cloth, to let them in on the fun, either helping to make the pads with you, or at least picking out the fabrics, colours, ect. if they are being made by someone else such as myself! Teen packages is one of my favourite things to make!

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    http://hyenacart.com/HomesteadEmporium/mt/269/58569/Teen-Starter-Package-lonicera

    Begin talking about periods while they are young! Don’t be shy, or scared, and they won’t be either. I honestly feel that talking with our children about the changes in their body is opening the door WIDE open for speaking to them later about all sorts of difficult topics from sex to drugs! It may be difficult at first, but do it! Force yourself to do it if you have to! You want your teens to be able to speak to you later on when tough choices begin! This is your chance to start a solid foundation right now! Grasp that opportunity and don’t let it pass you by!

    If choosing to use disposables, I suggest the same as with cloth. Shop online together in the comfort of your home (we like www.well.ca In Canada, you get free ship, possibly the US too? Use our special coupon code while shopping the first time and you receive 10$ OFF a 40$ order!)

    Let your daughter pick what she’d like to try. Maybe do a little shopping for some new undies too! If you can afford it, shop for a new outfit or some other special ‘grown up’ type of gift to celebrate! Be sure to add some special chocolate, and maybe some healing tea too, to help with any discomfort!

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    http://hyenacart.com/HomesteadEmporium/mt/269/34248/Monthly-Tea-donated-by-Delias-Pantry

    Make periods ‘normal’ and even a teeny little bit fun! You may find your own attitude about periods changing in the process too!

  • Sheep shearing on the homestead today.

    When we first brought our sheep home, we knew they would need to be shorn (is that how you say it? or is it sheared?) soon. I wasn’t really sure how, or what, we would do but figured that we’d some how figure it out. We always do!20130630-203727.jpgI couldn’t seem to find anyone local to help out, but that was really ok. We actually quite enjoy learning things and this was simply one more adventure to learn about!

    I set about trying to find some shears, and ended up having to order from the internet, and hoped they’d be good!
    Then I read lots, researched lots, and watched lots of videos of sheep shearing by hand. It’s pretty amazing how quickly some of these guys could do it. But that brought me to something I noticed. Every video I found had guys doing the shearing. I’m sure there must be other women out there shearing their sheep?

    I wasn’t too worried though because I knew I had my ‘crew’ here to help!20130630-203928.jpg

    We decided to start with the least ‘stubborn’ of our three adults. One of our mama sheep, Dolly. We set her on her behind as shown in all the books and videos, and sure enough, she sat fairly still. Not real happily, but fairly content. The girls helped to hold her up while I set to trimming!

    Once we got to a certain point in the shearing process, we’d lay them on their sides. We learned quickly that as long as their hooves were always kept up off the ground, they’d basically just stay and not try to fight us at all. I was surprised by how easy they were to handle.20130630-204144.jpg

    I realized pretty darn quickly that the shears I have are not the greatest, but ok. I also realized pretty quickly that there was no way I was going to be able to shear a sheep in 8 minutes or less, as they did in the videos. Ha!20130630-204235.jpg

    But I did realize that we could do this ourselves, and we’ll continue to do this! I was actually able to shear the entire sheep in one big fleece. I was sure we’d have to stop and start many times, possibly over many days, but after about an hour we had our first sheep done!20130630-204315.jpg

    The first sheep was a little rough going, she ended up with a nick in the skin, and a couple of grazed little spots from my inexperience with the shears. I felt so bad that she had to be my ‘guinea pig’ but she never even flinched through the whole process! What a good girl she was!

    I ended up with a grazed knee and wrist, due to flying hooves a couple of times she thought she could get up. So I guess we’ll call it even.

    The second sheep, our other mama, Molly, got away with just one nick. Hopefully when we tackle Wally tomorrow, the last sheep needing to be trimmed up, I’ll know better what I’m doing and he’ll get away without any nicks what so ever.20130630-204414.jpg

    The next big job to master, cleaning out the fleece from the sheep. We’ve already studied up about it, but now it’s time to actually try it. I had hoped to do it today but by the time we were done the two sheep, my back was telling me it was time to call it quits for the day! The fleece will have to wait!20130630-204454.jpgWhile we were shearing the sheep, hubby made a great dinner of homemade bbq’d burgers and I picked the very first ‘fruits’ of our labour from the garden. Lettuce for the burgers and a salad! I had my salad with fruit added. yum!

    If I get a chance, I’ll share some photos of the fleece washing process as we go! The fleece we have will be used by Shaylah (and anyone else in the family!) for her felted wool creations. One day we may just venture into some fiber dyeing and possible even spinning! I’ve always wanted a spinning wheel and I’m sure at least one of the girls would also love to try their hand at spinning their own wool!

    As I always say…

    Time is my only limit, my creativity is endless.

    There really isn’t enough time in a day to get done everything I’d love to do, and learn about. When I hear people say (or see them type on the net) “I’m bored.” I want to ask how that’s even possible?! There’s just too much to do to be bored in this life that we live!