*This post contains affiliate links which allow us to make a small commission at no additional cost to you*
As a mama to two little ones and as a homeschooling family, we have a lot of books. Honestly, I’d love to someday have an entire room devoted to books. A girl can dream of her own personal library, right?
Back to the books! As parents, we have tried to cultivate a love of reading in our children by reading them great stories often from a young age. Now our kids are four and two, and they’ve both memorized and can recite quite a few of our family favorites.
Speaking of our family favorites, I’ve compiled a list of some of the books we read frequently here on the homestead. These books are not only loved by our kids, but we enjoy reading them as well, which is always important when you’re going to be reading them over and over…and over.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar – https://amzn.to/36rriGm
The Complete Tales of Winnie The Pooh – https://amzn.to/36rrpBM
The Complete Brambly Hedge – https://amzn.to/38qoWJj
The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter – https://amzn.to/36p1Elw
Little Blue Truck – https://amzn.to/2RFSXz9
Big Red Barn – https://amzn.to/38we8K3
A Little House Picture Book Treasury – https://amzn.to/2PEQjqO
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt – https://amzn.to/2RCysmR
The Little Red Hen – https://amzn.to/2E7lR2Y
Where The Wild Things Are – https://amzn.to/2PdbKQN
A Madeline Treasury – https://amzn.to/2YCxrwp
Corduroy – https://amzn.to/2RF5JOd
LadyBug Girl – https://amzn.to/35be2W2
Have you and your family read these stories before? What are some of your family favorites? I’d love to hear your suggestions and add them to our growing collection!
Hey guys! I am so excited to be back updating you on everything that has been going on. First, my IT Department (AKA Chance) built us a new computer, and we are flying on this thing! I was having so much trouble getting any work done on the blog on the old computer, but now that we’ve upgraded, we are rolling! This will make it so much easier to write on a more consistent basis.
And the big announcement- we started a YouTube channel! We have gone back and forth over the past few months on whether or not to start a channel, but we finally took the plunge. I am sort of camera shy, so it’s a bit out of my comfort zone, but everyone has been so encouraging, so I’m excited to keep sharing videos of what we have going on here with you.
So, let’s recap the Homesteaders of America Conference. It was such a blessing to be able to attend such a special event. To be around almost 3,000 other people who are interested in a lot of the same things we are was so exciting. For once, we didn’t feel like the odd man out! We did bring the kids with us, so we weren’t able to sit down and listen to a lot of the speakers, so I am thankful for the Homesteaders of America membership where we will be able to tune in to all that we missed. The speaker line up was amazing, so I’m sure there was tons of valuable information given. The kids had a blast running around, looking at the different animals (hello, alpacas!), and checking out all the amazing vendors. I’m so glad that the conference was family-friendly, and that there were even classes for the children. We really enjoyed the story time with Joel Salatin as a family.
What I found to be so incredible about the conference was the sense of community. It was sort of like a big family reunion. We were able to see so many people that we have only chatted with online which was really exciting. What I love about this conference and this community is everyone is so encouraging and tries to build one another up. It isn’t a rat race to see who can get to the top first. Everyone genuinely wants everyone else to succeed at what they’re trying to accomplish on their homestead. You don’t see that very often anymore in our society.
No matter where you are on your homesteading journey, there is something for you at this conference. I would highly recommend it for any homesteader looking for a great opportunity to learn and connect with fellow homesteaders. We came home so inspired and with so many new dreams and ideas for our homestead. The few days spent away from our homestead re-lit our fire for all things homesteading. We will definitely be back to the conference next year!
Thank you all for your continued support and sharing this journey with us. We have so many exciting ideas we want to share with you as we continue to build up our homestead. If you haven’t, subscribe here on the blog for updates. And while you’re at it, hop over to our YouTube channel and subscribe as well. You can find our channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2CSAqEECUyu9NvcAjykJdQ
I have some exciting news! This fall, we’ll be packing up and heading to the Homesteaders of America Conference! The conference is October 11-12 in Front Royal, Virginia, and we are so happy to be going for the first time. This will be such an amazing learning opportunity for us and a lovely time to connect with those in the homesteading community on a journey like us. Let me fill you in on what I can’t wait for at this year’s conference.
The conference has an incredible line up of speakers this year, including Joel Salatin, Justin Rhodes, Jill Winger, Mike and Lacie Dickson, and Jason Contreras. Personally, I can’t wait to hear Jill Winger speak on the importance of vintage cooking skills. I’m a pretty confident cook, but I know that Jill has a ton of great tips to use in the kitchen. Justin Rhodes is always a wealth of knowledge when it comes to permaculture and getting your chickens to do your garden work for you, and I am really excited to hear Mike and Lacie Dickson share about their experience of giving up life in the city for life in the country in a yurt! There have been many times where we have considered giving it all away and moving into a tiny home, so I can’t wait to hear them speak about yurt living. Of course any time I can hear Joel Salatin speak is such a blessing, and I am really looking forward to hearing him speak about business and finances on the farm.
The Homesteaders of America Conference also offers hand on workshops on topics such as beekeeping for beginners, raising meat rabbits, and preserving the harvest. Registration is required for these workshops, so check out the Homesteaders of America website for more information on those before the conference. Another great addition to the conference this year are the kids classes! We will be bringing Henry and Lillian with us, so the fact that there are activities for children is a definite perk for us. You all know that the kids having an active role in our homestead if so important to us, so I am thrilled that there are educational opportunities for them as well. The kids can learn about pollinators, survival skills, wet felting wool, and raising chicks. Also, there is story time with Joel Salatin. Let’s get real- I’d be at story time with Joel Salatin even if my kids weren’t attending. Admission for kids under 17 is always free, so bring your kids for an incredible learning experience!
The Homesteaders of America Conference is going to be such a wonderful experience, and I can hardly wait until October! No matter where you are in your homesteading journey, there will be something for you to gain at the conference. I am so excited about everything we will learn from the conference speakers, but I’m also really looking forward to meeting so many other homesteaders! It will be nice to be around tons of people with similar dreams and goals. If you are interested, check out homesteadersofamerica.com to buy your tickets. I will be writing a follow up blog after the conference to share our experience. We hope to see you there!
**If you don’t follow me on Instagram, hop on over and give me a follow @abundantlifehomstead. I’ll be doing a ticket giveaway for tickets to the conference later this week!**
Let’s talk lard. Using lard seems like a thing of the past; something our great-grandparents used but should never be consumed in this low-fat, no-fat society we live in today. Thinking of regular lard consumption brings on ideas of clogged arteries and instant heart attacks, but research is beginning to show that lard isn’t as bad as the reputation it has been given. Consumers have had vegetable oils, such as canola or corn, crammed down their throats as a “healthier alternative” when in fact these heavily processed oils are not our healthiest choices.
Pastured lard actually boasts several health benefits, including being a good source of vitamin A. It is also high in monounsaturated fat similar to olive oil. I know I would much rather reach for my home-rendered lard than use any other highly processed vegetable oil. Want to learn how to render your own lard at home? Follow these simple steps!
I typically use my lard for biscuits or pie crusts, but it also makes the best friend potatoes! Would you give lard a chance? How do you use lard? Leave a comment below and chime in. Also, don’t forget to subscribe for updates from the homestead!
Sigh. Guys, usually I come to the blog filled with excitement to give you an update on what’s going on here, but today, I come feeling..blah. Usually I come with something I have already written that I have put some thought and work into, but tonight I come to talk from the heart.
It has been a day. It was one of those days where I was texting Chance by 10:30 am saying, “I am losing my mind.” As a rule, you shouldn’t be allowed to lose your mind before noon, yet there I was. For some reason, Henry’s listening skills have flown out the window the past few days, he was up at 5:45 am today, and Lillian has two molars finally coming through, so needless to say, everyone was not in the best spirits this morning. I am generally a very patient person when it comes to my kids, but I could feel myself reaching my breaking point. There were (and still are) mountains of laundry to wash/put away, a sink full of dishes, and a dirt covered floor, yet here I was telling Henry not to do something for the 100th time and picking up a wailing Lillian from the floor. I said a quick prayer of, “send help and coffee,” and attempted to charge through the day. No. Just not happening. I decided to give up whatever I was trying to get done in a desperate attempt to turn the day around. I tossed everyone out the door for a little fresh air and garden strawberries.
Did it help? Yes, but temporarily. After lunch, I attempted to get both kids to nap. Let me really put an emphasis on attempted. These attempts were met with more wailing and screaming. I needed the kids to nap, not only for my sanity (which is important) but also their’s for the rest of the day. Yet again, I gave up. I loaded them into the car for a quick drive. Both kids were out in less than five minutes. You all couldn’t do that at home? Really?
I know that there are those of you out there with kids who have experienced days like this before. A day where it just seems like you’re drowning under disaster after disaster, crankiness, ears that seem to not hear, and you’re just trying to keep your head above water. I have been there more times than I can count, especially with little ones! I’m not writing this post to unload my crazy day, although it does feel good to get it all out. I am here to encourage those of you with little ones (or maybe not so little ones) who are in the trenches just trying to get through the day. Hoping for a moment of silence to drink your coffee that you have microwaved three times. Who am I kidding? I just drink it cold at this point. Praying for patience as you break up another squabble or correct your child for what seems like the millionth time in one hour. I feel you. I am right there with you.
There are times when I feel like I cannot stand to say no to something one more time or deal with one more fight; times when I feel like nothing I am doing or saying with my kids is working. Then I look at the sweet faces of my children, say a prayer, and find the strength to keep pushing. To all the parents out there, find that strength. It won’t always be countless squabbles over a toy or thousands of Cheerios spilled into your couch cushions. Continue pouring into their little lives and training them up. It is the hardest, most exhausting job, but it is also the most rewarding. And know that you are not alone. Be encouraged and know that you are doing the most important job out there. Taking care of tiny people isn’t easy.
Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6
I’m sure you’ve all heard the quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I know I had heard it many times, but it never really resonated with me until recently. It can be so easy to scroll through social media (I’m looking at you, Instagram), and compare your life to other people’s perfect photos and feel discouraged. I know there have been many times where I have thought, “Wow, look at that homeschool room,” or, “If only we had more land like that and a barn,” and, “Gosh, she does it all, and here I am buried in 500 mismatched socks and dirty diapers.” I’m sure you’ve been there a time or two. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in what seems like someone else’s perfect life that you can lose sight of what you have.
Take the homesteading journey for example. Right now, we live on two acres. We don’t have a barn or large fields of flat, lush pasture. We have rocky, clay soil that we are working hard to amend. We have been searching for a bigger place that would suit what we are dreaming of doing, but so far no luck. It can be difficult to have these dreams you want to accomplish right away, yet feel stuck where you are. There have been many moments where I have felt like we will never find the right place or we will never reach what we aspire to achieve.
Recently I had a ‘check myself before I wreck myself’ moment. I was so stuck in dreaming of our future plans and gazing at snapshots of other people’s lives that I had totally lost sight of the life we are cultivating now. I think back to a little over three years ago when we were preparing for our first flock of egg layers to arrive, and I see how far we have come and how hard we have worked in such a short time. We have already accomplished so much, and we have worked tirelessly together toward our goals as a family. And you know those picture-perfect snaps of the lives of those who inspire us? That’s exactly what it is- a nice photo. The people behind these photos are living a life just like us. There may be trouble with their animals, the house is a disaster, and the children are having melt downs-yet none of those photos will make it to your news feed. We have to remember that no one’s life is perfect no matter what you see on social media. Social media can be a gift or curse. You can be encouraged by the community you see or allow it to have a negative impact on you and discourage you. I am making a conscious choice to allow the social media community I am a part of to encourage me to continue working toward my goals and inspiring me to live a better life.
The Bible says in Philippians 4:12, “I know what it is like to be in need, and I know what it is like to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” I am certainly well fed and living in plenty, and I am so grateful for that. It is my goal to practice contentment every day and trust in God’s timing. I am cultivating the life I have dreamed of with my incredible family, so I need nothing more. Plus the joy is in the journey, isn’t it?
What are you dreaming of for your life right now? How do you practice being content where you are? Share below, and don’t forget to subscribe to stay up to date on what we are doing here on the homestead!
Hey all! It has been such a long time! I wanted to drop in and give an update on what’s going on here on the homestead. It has been tricky finding a good rhythm that gave me some time to work on the blog while taking care of the little ones plus everything else we have going on here, but we have settled into a good routine that will hopefully give me more time to consistently blog. So let’s jump right in!
I am so excited to be back in the blogging game and share what’s happening with you here on the homestead. I’ll be posting more recipes and DIY ideas, plus delving into family topics that are important to us. I hope we can all learn and share together on this homesteading journey! To stay up to date on what we are doing, don’t forget to subscribe. Also, follow me on Instagram @ abundantlifehomestead. You’ll see tons of pictures of our daily life on the homestead.
Wow- it has been a while. I feel like I haven’t had a free second to write about what has been going on here on the homestead in so long. Chance and Henry got hit hard with a stomach virus for about two weeks, we had family visit, and then other summer projects and events have been keeping us so busy that I have had very little time to write. Plus we have been changing some things around here on the blog. Let’s start with a garden update!
After a long winter that seemed to last through April, we finally got our summer gardens planted. This year, we have the front and side gardens like last year (check out last year’s gardens here https://abundantlifehomestead.com/2017/09/01/the-summer-gardens/), but this year, the front garden is almost double in size. We are also using a lot of wood chips to keep weeds down this year instead of the weed blocking tarp we used last year.
This summer, we are growing tomatoes, peas, cauliflower, broccoli, chard, kale, turnips, parsnips, carrots, beets, lettuce, and arugula in the front garden. So far, things are growing well, and we have been able to harvest some greens, green beans, squash, peas, beets, and turnips. The greens and peas have been such a treat, but I won’t lie, the turnips were bitter as can be! I am assuming it has a lot to do with our soil quality which is something we are still working on. Has anyone had experience with this? Any tips? Anyway, our tomato plants are huge, and tomatoes are starting to appear. I absolutely cannot wait until the first tomato is ready. There’s nothing like a garden tomato! The only thing holding us back is how much rain we have had! It has been so wet that the tomatoes just haven’t been able to ripen yet. I plan to can as many as possible to store up for winter again once they are ready.
In our side garden, we did corn, green beans, squash, and cucumbers just like last year. It is growing really well, so I am hoping for a great harvest. We planted blueberry and raspberry bushes, but I’m not expecting anything from them this year. I think the stress of planting them thwarted any chance of fruit. We also planted a peach, apple, and pear tree, but like the berry bushes, they likely won’t produce this year. I am just excited to be taking steps toward producing our own fruit here on the homestead. Our strawberry patch was finished in June, and we had some delicious berries from that this year. I am looking forward to an even greater fruit harvest next year!
Overall, I am hopeful for our gardens this year. I thought we did great last year and am praying for another large harvest. My hope is that with each year, we continue to improve in the amount of food we are able to grow and continue to improve the soil quality here. I hope we are able to leave it much better than when we first started.
What are you growing this year? Do you have any expert gardening tips? What are your hopes for your garden? Comment below, and don’t forget to subscribe for updates from the homestead.
As you all know, I am trying to make more and more of our foods from scratch. Since we have started Lillian on solid foods, that means I’ve been in the kitchen whipping up some delicious homemade baby food. With Henry, I made almost all of his baby food, but there were a few things here and there that we did buy. Since then, there have been reports come out showing there are baby foods, formulas, and toddler snacks containing arsenic, lead, and BPA. According to this study (link here: https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.usatoday.com/amp/794291001), 80 percent of the items tested contained these contaminants!
This is not a post condemning all baby foods/formulas/snacks. I am sure there are good ones on the market, but these findings were pretty shocking. As parents, we want what is best for our kids, and if we are striving for the best, purest foods for ourselves, that should extend to our kids. So I have been making Lillian’s baby food like I did with Henry, but this time, I will be making all of it. Plus, it is so simple to do! Interested in doing some or all of your baby’s food, but not sure where to start? Let me show you how!
For this recipe, I used sweet potatoes since that is what we did for Lillian’s first food. Substitute whatever you would like to use for your baby!
Once you have made your simple baby food, come back and share your tips and yummy combinations! Let me know what your little ones think of starting solid food! I’m excited to try some of your ideas. Don’t forget to share and subscribe for updates on what we are doing here on the homestead.
There is a new addition on the homestead! Yes, we welcomed our beautiful baby girl six months ago, but we also got another sweet girl two weeks before Lillian was born.
We got Chewie in November right before Lillian was born because who doesn’t get an eight week old puppy two weeks before you’re having another baby? (As you can tell, I am really behind in updating you on things going on around here, but between kidney stones and two little kiddos, it is easy to get behind. I am hoping to be more on the ball about getting blog posts up!) Chewie (Henry is really into Star Wars) is a Great Pyrenees. We are using her as a livestock guardian dog. Livestock guardian dogs live with whatever livestock you have, in our case chickens, ducks, and pigs, and deter predators. Around here, we deal with the occasional fox, opossum, raccoon, weasel, and aerial threat. Before we got Chewie, we actually lost a chicken to an aerial predator, so having her here as an extra protector to our animals is very important. Interested in getting your own LGD? Here are some things to consider.
So if you are interested in protecting your livestock with an adorable, hardworking furry friend, I would highly recommend a livestock guardian dog. Be sure to do your research to find what breed is the best fit for you. Once your dog is bonded to your livestock, rest assured that you have a fierce and loyal protector on your homestead and a life long friend.
Guys, it has been a rough month. Things were going great- kids were getting into a good routine, and we were gearing up for all our spring projects, then bam- I started having some health issues. Anyone who is a parent knows you have zero extra time to be sick. I was having urinary issues which can be painful and pretty unsettling. Lucky for me, I have a nurse on call all the time in my dear husband. I wasn’t in any pain, so we decided to wait it out.
I have a history of kidney stones, so we assumed that’s what it was. Three weeks later, I was still having issues, so I had a CT scan. And there they were- two stones in my left kidney. Ugh! At this point, I was completely pain free, but the next day that all changed.
By morning, I was writhing in pain. Like being stabbed in the back and side over and over pain. You know those pain scales with the little faces where you rate your pain from 1-10? Yeah, I was flying off that chart. I was in orbit. So we got an appointment with a urologist to figure out what my next step would be.
After an X-ray, the urologist decided doing a lithotripsy would be my best option. A lithotripsy is where they use high energy waves directed at your stones to break them up so you can pass them. I have had one lithotripsy before, but I didn’t have two little ones to think about. It was especially stressful for me since I’m nursing Lillian, but the doctors were great and were able to give me all nursing compatible medications throughout the process. That was a huge weight off my shoulders!
Getting the lithotripsy done was a bit of a hassle, but I am feeling 100 percent better. Thank God there are treatments like this available when you need them…and I really needed it! It is nearly impossible to take care of little kiddos when you’re miserable. I am so thankful to be back to my old self.
So, have any of you ever dealt with kidney stones? What were your experiences like? Any good home remedies you have used? I have been drinking a lot of water with lemon juice but would love to hear any other ideas you have! Share below, and don’t forget to subscribe!
Here are some pictures that have nothing to do with kidney stones but everything to do with cuteness.
Wow! Welcome back! It has been a while. We have been so busy in the past few months since I took a hiatus from the blog. Since my last post, we butchered two pigs (hello, pork!), celebrated Henry’s second birthday, and enjoyed the holidays with family. The biggest thing that happened during the break was the birth of our beautiful daughter, Lillian Ruth in November. I had a repeat c-section, so it was rough for a while, but the recovery was much easier than when I had Henry.
She is such a sweet addition to our family and already four months old! I can’t believe how fast time flies when they are this little. She fits in so well, and it’s like she has always been here. She has been colicky which has been difficult for all of us. It’s horrible when you feel like there is nothing you can do to relieve what your baby is going through! Have any of you dealt with colicky babies? Any tips? I would love to hear it because this was something I was clueless about and not prepared for! I think we are starting to see the light at the end of the colic tunnel as she gets older, but it is tough sometimes.
Henry absolutely loves his little sister. He loves her so much that we have to supervise said love because it can get a little rough for a little baby! I am so glad that he has done so well with her. We definitely went through a rough patch when we first brought her home in the form of a hitting phase, but things have settled down now. Think it’s easy to reason with a two year old about sharing his parents with a tiny screaming person? I’m sure you can imagine how that goes.
Now that Lilly is here, we have entered a season of diapers, nonstop messes, and interrupted sleep. We are settling into a routine and dreaming up new dreams for the farm. It’s chaos, but it’s our chaos, and it’s a blessing. Our hearts have are more full than ever. This is the definition of living abundantly.
There’s a reason that the acronym for greatest of all time just happens to spell goat. We had tossed around the idea of getting goats for about a year, but we finally took the plunge. Just like I expected, the goats have brought so much joy to the homestead. Let me introduce you.
We got Lucy and Ethel together. Lucy, the brown goat, is a Nigerian Dwarf. We chose Nigerian Dwarf goats because we had heard they had better tasting milk. Nigerian Dwarf goat milk is also higher in butter fat than other goat breeds so it’s creamier and sweeter. We believe that Ethel, the black and white goat, is a pygmy. Lucy and Ethel are two peas in a pod, and you rarely see one without the other. Lucy thinks she is the queen of the herd and is probably my favorite out of them all. She is so sweet and mild mannered. Ethel is a little shy and can be a bit of a bully to the others, but I love watching her scamper around and head butt the others.
We got Rosie in April, along with her older daughter, Beatrix. Rosie also came with these two cuties that she had given birth to the week before. Hiccup (black with white ears) is a buckling, and Astrid (black ears) is a doeling. Can you tell our kids love How To Train Your Dragon? Rosie is so friendly and is always giving sloppy kisses to the kids. She is a great goat to milk and very rarely gives me any trouble. Her daughter from last year, Beatrix, was pregnant when we brought her home and gave birth to a buckling named Tony a week later. On the other hand, Beatrix is pretty skittish. It has taken her some time to get used to milking, and she still gives me a bit of trouble. She is slowly improving and warming up to us, so I am hoping it will just take some time. Let me just say- baby goats are the best things in the world! I am convinced baby goat therapy should be a thing!
Getting the goats has not only brought so much love and excitement to the homestead, but we have also been getting their delicious milk! This is the first time I have ever milked an animal, so it took some getting used to, but it’s quickly become one of my favorite parts of the day. I can’t wait to share recipes with you featuring the milk, like how to make your own yogurt and cheese.
I am so excited to share more about our journey with the goats. We plan to breed Rosie, Beatrix, Ethel and Lucy this fall, so I’ll be updating you on that when the time comes. Plus, I’ll give you the run down on basic goat care and milking.
Don’t forget to subscribe to stay up to date on the homestead news. Also, follow us on Instagram @abundantlifehomestead for a peek into our daily life!