Thursday, October 15, 2015

Homestead Happenings, Just catching up

I planned to blog more about our homestead as it was happening, but then life happened.  So, I am going to catch you up all at once about our summer and early fall.

First, the garden.  Well......we did not have a successful gardening year.  Here, the weather was just miserable for crops. It was sad.  We got good seed and spent the time planting only to meet a very very wet June - rain every day - followed by a very very hot and very very dry July and August.  We got a total of 2 bitter cucumbers, one super tiny pumpkin, one super tiny cantelope, and a couple of tomatoes veggie wise.  Very discouraging, but that is the way it is sometimes with gardening.  But, with all the loss in our garden in the way of produce, our flowers went to town.  We had stunning sunflowers.  The purple cone flowers, rose of sharon, crepe myrtle, marigolds, and zinnias did wonderfully and were absolutely beautiful.  Here are some photos of those.

On to the animals.  They are doing wonderfully.  All our spring chicks are full grown chickens and are laying beautifully.  We bought 5 random bantams at a local feed store.  2 of them turned out to be roosters.  We have one away and kept the other.  The kids named him Batman.  

He's a handsome fellow and very well mannered.  I am pleased. We have had some very nasty roosters in our years of chicken raising.  Speaking of which, we slaughtered off the nasty older roosters.  We had one gentle one among that batch, however, as with the keeping of chickens, there is a risk of foxes.  And, our poor Big Red met his demise protecting the hens.  It was a sad day.  Hopefully, Batman will be just as good of a protector if the time should come.

The other chickens are all doing well as well.  We are currently getting about a dozen eggs a day of varying colors and sizes.  It is very fun indeed!

Our meat cow, Sir Loin, is full grown and ready for butchering.  He has been an interesting rascal.  He seems to be able to get loose at the drop of  a hat.  And when loose, he is quite destructive.  We won't mind a cow break for a while.

We are also now the owners of 2 cats!  Our first cat which we have had for a while is 8 years old.  She is my oldest one's cat whom we have had since she was 10 weeks old.  In the late summer, we found someone had dumped a wee kitten off our our house.  Turns out it was only 8 weeks old, 2 lbs., and a girl! So, we are now the owners of 2 cats.  We love our cats and they are very handy for mice control.  

Last but not least, we were blessed to get some apples and peaches for canning.  I spent 2 days doing peaches canning fruit and making jam and 2 days doing applesauce.  We had so many apples, I just froze the rest in slices to make into more applesauce later.  

I think that catches you all up on the homestead happening of our little corner of the world.  Now that fall is setting in, we have been cleaning up the yard and gardens for winter and doing some health preparations for winter.  But that's another post for another time.  Here are a couple of final photos to close out this post.  Happy Fall everyone!

Monday, October 5, 2015

New Feature: A book review, or two

(this post contains affiliate links which means I make a small amount if you make a purchase.  thank you in advance)

Those who know me are fully aware of my deep love for literature.  We have an extensive library in our home.  Every room, except the bathrooms, have shelves and all those shelves are overflowing with books.  I have read to my children since before they were born.  Yep, I was one of those weird moms who read to her belly.  And I love to read aloud to my children.  My kids are ages 18 to 6 and we still read together.  We may not get to it every day, but we read together.  And we love it.  

I want to start a new feature in my blog, book reviews.  From time to time, I will post about a book or series of books we have read either together or personally and then write about it.  And, from time to time, I will feature my children and have them write a review.  

So, without further adieu, our first book, or two, reviews.  

Over the summer, we read two books by Chris Grabenstien, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library  and The Island of Dr. Libris.  What fun reads these were!  Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is a story about a city opening a new library and the famous Mr. Lemoncello has cooked up a tremendous overnite stay at his new state of the art library for just 12 7th graders.  Well it turns out to be more than the kids expected.  And in order to unlock the library and go home they have to win the game that has been left for them by Mr. Lemoncello.  The story has unique twists and turns and is full of fun clues and mysteries to unravel.  Of course, there is an arch rival to the main character and you are left on the edge of your seat to see which of them will win.  I loved how much literature was referred to and how they bring out an interest in wanting to read them.  Mr. Grabenstien knows his books!   Also, you learn about the Dewey Decimal System while reading, a system that seems to have fallen by the wayside due to our advancing computer age.  My kids were all engaged in the story.  Every day it was, "Let's read a little more."  or "Aw, do we have to stop there?"

Of course, we dove right into The Island of Dr. Libris right after that!  This story takes place when a boy has to spend the summer at a lakeside cabin in the mysterious Dr. Libris' cabin.  He finds himself without all the modern conveniences of TV and internet and has to rely on this huge ornate bookshelf that he finds in the house.  He picks up a book and finds that the story is more than he ever imagined.  Again, there is mystery.  Fun characters from classic literature come to life?  How in the world are they doing that?  Again, many classic peices of literature were used which makes the tale very fun to read.  It is definitely a different flavor than Mr. Lemoncello, but still another fun read.   Just as a warning, the main character's parents are going through some marital problems and Billy is trying hard to figure out how to make things right.  I will not ruin the ending by saying whether he is successful or not.  Its all part of the plot.  But, if a topic like this is not what you want your children to hear about, you might not want to read it.  We used it as a chance for discussion, as we have with many stories where discretion in necessary.

Stories if read alone are suited for about age 10 and up.  However, as a read aloud, we all enjoyed it, even my youngest 2 who are 8 and 6.   

Overall, we give them a 5 book rating!!

Happy Reading!