Monday, July 31, 2017

We Bought a Farm: When the strawberries call, you answer

I am realizing that it is important to make connections. It is important to pay attention to those connections. It is important to stay in touch with those connections and foster them.

Yesterday, I got a Facebook message from a friend I've made in town. He's a local pastor, homeschool dad, and permaculture fan. Just an all-around awesome guy. He attended our permaculture conference, and we've purchased some plants from him in the past.

It's a long story, but his cousin runs a HUGE strawberry/raspberry greenhouse about 45 minutes from our house. Due to loss of funding, they are shutting it down. The question: did we want to come to the greenhouse from 2-4pm the next day and collect berries?

I actually had other plans but really felt this was an opportunity to big to pass up. These are organic fruit! And it was free!

So I cancelled my other plans. John was working. But our intern, Jacob agreed to go. Dad and Mom were out of town but came in two minutes before we had to leave which was a Godsend as Hannah was able to stay with them.

We had no idea what to expect when we got there, but it soon became obvious that we were going to get a TON of berries! Here's two pictures of the three kiddos in one of the raspberry aisles:

And me with one of about 20 buckets like this we collected of strawberries:

In the end, check out this video below to see our haul. It was AMAZING:

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Online Shower for Ryan and Briana Huisman

After eight years of marriage and FIVE years waiting to be matched as parents, Ryan and Briana are having a baby boy!!!! Unlike some parents who have nine months to prepare, this amazing couple has only a matter of weeks. Their little man will be making an appearance August 8th (or sooner!)

I really want to help the amazing couple prepare for this incredibly exciting time in their life with an online shower. Whether you know them personally or not, would you consider purchasing something off their registry to try and help make this transition even smoother? Every small item will help make this excitingly overwhelming time easier. Ryan and Briana have ZERO things for a baby. When you deal with infertility for this long, you don't fill your house with hopeful items. You empty it of any reminders.


Simply go to BABIES R US  and type in their registry number: 59759202.
You can also search by Briana Huisman as well. 
They live in Windsor, Colorado which you will see on the registry.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Review: I'll Push You

This book tells the story of Justin and Patrick. They are friends nearly from birth, and together they embark on the trip of a lifetime. As adults, Justin is now in a wheelchair -- the result of a neuromuscular disease. But when he wants to try and walk the Camino de Santiago -- 500 miles through Spain -- Patrick agrees to walk it for him and push him the entire way.

Here are just a few of the things I loved about this book:
  • FRIENDSHIP! These guys are true friends. You don't see this among men very often. They love each other. Truly. And it is really refreshing to see. To be honest, it was almost a bit uncomfortable for me to read about in the beginning, but I realized that was because of what society has done to me in regards to male friendships.
  • COMMUNITY! I loved watching people come around these two men to help them on this journey. People they had never met. Strangers that popped in and then popped out of their adventure. 
  • FAITH! These two guys love the Lord, and they share about that in their writing. This includes sharing about some past sins that have dominated both of their lives.
  • ADVENTURE! I love a good book about conquering something. This was one of those books. I am inspired, and now I want to walk the Camino some day too.
I passed off this book to one of our farm volunteers who is reading it, and as hooked as I am with the idea of actually doing this trek. In addition, I can't wait to see the documentary about this as well. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

We Bought a Farm: But it's our life

I am not ... 
I repeat ... 
I am not ... 
a "Suzy Homemaker." 
I have never pickled anything. 
Heck, I've never jarred anything. 
One time I learned to make yogurt. 
But then I forgot. 
I am a city girl in my heart. 
I haven't been dirty a lot in my life. 
I'm a tomboy. 
But not a farmer's wife. 
And definitely not a farmer. 

And yet, slowly, V-E-R-Y slowly, I am coming to embrace the idea of homesteading. I'm not even sure what that word means exactly. And I'm not sure it accurately describes what we are doing here, but it is the closest I can get. 

Homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of foodstuffs, and it may or may not also involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale. Pursued in different ways around the world—and in different historical eras—homesteading is generally differentiated from rural village or commune living by isolation (either socially or physically) of the homestead. 

One word can lead you to define another word. So let's discuss self-sufficiency for a moment. Shall we? This is the idea of not requiring anything for survival that you cannot provide for yourself. Here's another handy-dandy wikipedia definition. 
Self-sufficiency (also called self-containment) is the state of not requiring any aid, support, or interaction for survival; it is a type of personal or collective autonomy.[1] Self-sufficiency is a type of sustainable living in which nothing is consumed other than what is produced by the self-sufficient individuals. Examples of attempts at self-sufficiency in North America include simple livinghomesteadingoff-the-gridsurvivalismDIY ethic and the back-to-the-land movement.

We are not self-sufficient on our farm. Nor do I think we ever will be. But we'd like to be mostly self-sufficient, and I would love to find people who are doing what we are doing to trade or purchase from if we aren't doing it.

For example: dairy. I have no desire to do any milking. And I don't think I ever will. But if I could find another farm where they were doing it, I'd buy from them before I bought from the grocery store if it was possible. 

An example are the blueberries pictured above. We did not grow them. But there is another farm down the road from us (okay about 45 minutes from us) that is doing organic blueberries. So I ordered eight gallons from them.

I had no idea how many blueberries eight gallons was until I met him in the parking lot of Yoder's and we exchanged blueberries for cash. Suddenly I had a whole lot of blueberries. I spent the next few days working to freeze those berries to use for smoothies and other fun snacks. I'm so excited to have all of these in our freezer and to have supported another farm in doing so.

It is interesting how an idea doesn't come to you. This idea wasn't one that while lying in bed, I decided: I want to homestead. I want to be self-sufficient. I have never embraced those words or thought that they fit me.

(In truth, I am pretty sure my husband brain-washed me. I am pretty sure he planted tiny, minuscule seeds for the last two decades to get me to this point.) 

I'm kidding. Sort of.

Either way, here I am.  

John has spent all day to day smoking one of our pigs. The pork is AMAZING and we are so proud to have raised this meat from the very beginning.

Instead, slowly, things just started happening that lead me into this life I never saw coming. Over the last two years, I have totally come to understand and be able to care for the animals on our farm. In the last few weeks, our intern, Jacob, has been teaching me how to do the fencing that moves our sheep and pigs every 3-5 days by myself. My goal is that when he leaves in October, I will be able to handle the animal moving without John needing to be present. I'm very proud of this and feel that it is one of the last pieces of the animal puzzle I needed to tackle.

Our garden is now taking over (with nearly complete thanks going to Jacob.) As Jacob harvests and brings food in, I am watching Jacob and John put this food to use. They are making pickles for example. I still don't understand how all this food works or how to best save and utilize it, but I'm getting it. And it's exciting.

Here are a couple videos of our two main gardens:

I still don't know exactly why God brought me to this life. And today, as I took FOUR showers and changed my clothes five times due to mud and rain, I couldn't help but wonder how in the world my life changed so drastically in such a short period of time.

We have bitten off a lot. But we are really learning and paring things down. And as we do, I'm feeling this life fit me more and more. The idea of being able to raise food the way we want to raise it and to raise our children among green grass is so appealing to me.

It isn't perfect.

But it's our life.

And I not only like it ...

I love it.

Friday Funnies

Hannah: "Can I go outside?"
Me: "Yes, but please don't bother Mr. Jacob. He's working out there."
Hannah: "I won't. I'll just talk to him."
Isaac: "Hannah, that's the same thing."


Me: "I want you both to stop hanging on cousin Nate. No more touching him."
Hannah: "Can we give him a hug?"
Me: "Yes. Maybe one."
Hannah: "Only one a day?"

Thursday, July 27, 2017

We Bought a Farm: Our Farm Dog(s)

One of the reasons that we invested in Australian Shepherds was because we wanted a higher-than-average chance of them succeeding in farm life. We didn't want them to have to stay in the yard, away from all the animals. We wanted them to be able to be out on the farm with us. Our yard is a fenced three-acre plot which is quite adequate for a dog. But we really wanted them to have the run of the farm.

We did not get these dogs to be animal guardian dogs. A guardian dog is more of a worker than a family member -- this means that they aren't present with the family (as much). We wanted family dogs that could also help make their presence known around the farm for animal and people protection.

However, during the first year of their lives, we had many not-so-good run-ins with the animals. The dogs killed a guinea, nearly killed a chicken, Ritter attacked a sheep (who survived), etc. However, I have continued to work with them and it does appear that they have it down!

Let me be more specific: Arabelle seems to have it down perfectly. She is flawless with the animals and can be trusted nearly completely.

Ritter is still a bit more challenging. He mostly has it, but when he comes out with me, I put him on shock collar. I've never had to use it, but I don't trust him completely. He isn't as "chill" near the animals as Arabelle is yet, but he is very close.

I do NOT take the dogs out together. Their listening skills drop exponentially when they are both out so they go out on the farm with me one at a time. Today, I did animal chores all day so Arabelle came with me two times and Ritter came with me two times. They did great. Here's a video of Arabelle showing how chill she is with our free-range, pasture-raised chickens:

Arabelle continues to want to be out with me. She sees it as her job and it is the highlight of her day. Ritter still prefers just being loved on and staying at home. He will go with me, but he will choose a belly rub over anything.

Arabelle definitely sees me as her person, and chooses me over almost everyone else. Ritter chooses anyone who will love him (and especially anyone who will give him a belly rub.)

When a new person comes to the farm, Arabelle barks and takes a few minutes to trust the person. Ritter immediately rolls over on his back for the new person to rub his belly.

While both dogs are still a little jumpy with kids, they are doing fantastic. We plan to breed them one time only so if you are interested in an amazing dog, let me know!

Yes I said that I would never have another indoor dog. These dogs are still about 50/50 inside and outside, but they spend a lot of time indoors, and I love having them inside with us. There is a different relationship with a dog who lives inside.

All the kids love the dogs, but Sidge definitely loves them the most. He absolutely adores them and says that his favorite dogs in order are: (1) Ritter (2) Arabelle (3) Scrubs.

Aaaahhhh Scrubs. I think of him often. But I don't cry anymore when I think of him. These dogs have managed to nestle their way into my heart, and that makes me a bit sad -- as if Scrubs has lost a corner of my heart to them. But I think he would want it that way. He wouldn't want me to be sad. And, there is no question that Scrubs will always remain the "best dog ever" in my heart.

The kids, who did not grow up with Scrubs as a puppy, are definitely more attached to these new dogs -- as they should be. I truly hope these dogs can usher them into their teenage years and maybe even into adulthood!

We Bought a Farm: When the Chickens Won't Travel

We don't often move our chicken tractors very far. We move them onto new grass 1-3 times a day, but we don't usually move them long distances. However, when we processed our last batch of chickens and decided to start moving our turkeys, we decided to put our tractor of laying chickens next to the turkeys.

The ending of the story was that we eventually got them to where we wanted them to go, but it was nearly a disaster, and we were all worried during the adventure that we were going to lose some chickens due to fatigue or death under the tractor.

We hit a patch of gravel. Since these chickens have only been on hay and grass, they did not know what to do with the gravel and refused to move forward. We could not get them to walk. So John opted to get into the tractor and scoot along with them while Jacob pulled the tractor. It was well over 90 degrees that day, and John actually got so hot, he nearly passed out after spending nearly a half hour crawling with the chickens to their new home.

But, it did work! We didn't lose a single chicken, and I managed to catch the whole thing on video:

These types of "adventures" are actually what cause farm life to be so challenging. You think you have a plan. You think the plan will take just a few minutes. And the animals (or weather or landscape or materials) decide something entirely different on your behalf, and you end up spending half a day doing what you thought would only take a portion of your morning.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Oh what she comes up with!

Hannah figures out a way to use clothes in the most interesting ways. Take this pair of pajama pants I found on sale for them at JC Penney's for 80% off!

She decided to make them into ...

... a shawl?

Aunt Gabbi and cousins come to the farm

JB's brother Ray couldn't make it, but his wife, Gabbi, and our two awesome cousins: Grace (13 almost 14), and Nate (11) came to visit for a few days last week. The kids had a blast with them! They live in Middle Tennessee, and I didn't get a single picture of the kids while they were here, but managed to snag one with Aunt Gabbi as she prepared to drive home.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Tribe Life Tuesday: The Will, The Why, The Bold Yes!

A weekly post from my childhood to grown-up friend Carrie ~ 
sharing her awesome life and her desire to have community while doing it!

Welcome to TribeLife Tuesdays! We are so excited you have decided to join us! Today we’re going to be answering three important questions; I hope you brought your curiosity along for the ride. What is The Will? What is The Why? And when is it time for a Bold YES? Let’s dive in!

What is The Will? 
It’s determination, resoluteness, strength of character, and single-mindedness. My will and I sometimes collide and there are seasons when I find it difficult to stay resolute or single-minded on a matter. I am all about evolving in perspective but single-mindedness can be an incredible gift in moments of chaos. It gives us a sense of surety, which is hopefully founded in truth. This will of mine has a tendency to be a free spirit, so managing and shaping her is quite a discipline. 

Have you ever met someone who walks in resoluteness? Someone who is steadfast in themselves and their beliefs? I have not only met some but I have researched such people. I found the commonality between these strong-willed ones is a high level of success and influence in our society. If you want to be hugely successful or widely influential you have to have determination, resolution, strength of character, and single-mindedness to pull it off. 

What is The Why? 
My why has grown over the years. My why is rooted in bringing justice, advocating for tribe, and giving people a place of safety where their voice matters. These things run deep within me and are wrapped up in every action and reaction I have. One of my big whys is I WANT MORE SO I WILL OFFER MORE. This is the why that keeps sitting me down, pulling up a chair in front of me and staring me right in the eyes - I can’t escape it and I don’t want to. 

So, when the opportunity came up for my husband and I to start a podcast, I immediately said yes! Then I waded into my decision and floundered in it, then I took a deep breath and dove in headfirst. The first few dives were like swimming in a creek - it was shallow, narrow, and full of boulders. But, with each dive, each commitment, each discipline, my swimming has become automatic and my vision has tunneled so tightly, it's blurred out all the unnecessary details. It’s a "I know we are doing the right thing because I'm bruised, sore, bumpy, and I feel so good” kind of thing. 

To be vulnerable with you, I struggle with over-commitment and a lack of focus. I often commit to too much and follow all the way through with too little. But this, this was the start of something BIG. To use my voice, the very thing I desire to help others discover, all to inspire and influence people to live their best lives? 100% YES!! 

Yes to facing my fear. 
Yes to building the character it takes to manage such a heavy load. 
Yes to becoming single-minded and fully engaged.  
Yes to being vulnerable even when it’s uncomfortable. 
Yes to going toward my future.  

So why are we launching a podcast? Because I have the privilege of living an outrageously beautiful life and I want to share it with all who listen. I invite you to subscribe via iTunes, and each Tuesday I will fill your car, home, office, and anywhere in between with an unforgettable sound. A sound that will hopefully ignite life and passion in you and reassure you that you have all you need to live an outrageously beautiful life as well. Your voice matters and we can’t wait to hear it!

Thank you for reading. 

See you next Tuesday!


Review: The Crafty Classroom

Crafty ClassroomI get so excited to write a review on a product I absolutely LOVED. This time it was the USA Activity Bundle from The Crafty Classroom. We loved this product, and we also loved the price. All THREE of these books are just $15. That is just $5 for each of the downloadable PDF's. This is soooooo worth the price. Seriously! I am raving. (Can you tell?!)

I was able to use this product with my three oldest kids: ages six, eight, and nine. In fact, I even printed out a page here and there occasionally for my three-year-old so that she could feel like she was "in" with her big brothers and sister when we were doing our USA Activity Bundle. In addition, my nieces came into town, and I printed off some pages for them to "homeschool" with us. They loved them as well. Everyone had a blast doing these!

Here is a picture of the three books. Remember these are downloaded products, so they won't look exactly like this. But you could easily put it together to look like this if you wanted:
USA Activity Bundle

You could put it together in book format, put it in a folder, or print them out as you go along. It is really whatever fits with your family. I decided to print out all of the pages of each book, and give each kid a folder. I was trying to make it as simple as I could:

You do not have to buy the books that "go along" with each of the downloadable books, but I decided to. They were very reasonably priced on Amazon, and just very cool books. The book recommendations are listed in the downloadable document so you can easily find what is suggested.

Here is Abigail working on her "Vermont" page of the book. She is using the correlating page in the purchased state book to answer the questions. (If you didn't have the book, you could easily find what you needed online.) Abigail was my youngest participant, but she loved working through this, and she did a great job finding the state flags, capitals, etc. in the correlating book and writing them down in her printed packet.

Here is Sidge working on Texas:

My kids absolutely loved working through these. There is coloring and writing, and each of my kids could decide how creative or detailed they wanted to be. Sometimes they really took their time and made pages look great. Sometimes they went a little faster. I was especially impressed with how well they did copying over the lakes and rivers in each of the states onto the paper. (You can see that a little bit in the outline of Texas on Sidge's paper above.)

I really suggest you check out this company on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. This is a FANTASTIC product for the price. You are getting an entire unit right at your fingertips, and if you buy the book, there is very little parental involvement at all. You can simply say "Get out your USA Activity Bundle and they are off!

Crafty Classroom {Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, July 24, 2017

Review: ACTÍVA Products

Art. Wendi and art. Gosh we just don't mix. I really think I do a decent job homeschooling. But art is continually throwing me for a loop. So when an opportunity arose to do some homeschool crafts using the Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit from ACTÍVA Products, I jumped at the chance. In addition to the Sculpting Kit, ACTÍVA Products also sent us their ACTÍVA Products' Favorite Sculpture KIDS CRAFTS free eBook.

Here is a picture of the box that arrived at our house:

Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit

I was a little overwhelmed with things going on around the farm and with company in town when this project came in for us to review ... so my mother-in-law, Mary, graciously volunteered to head up this project. She picked different projects to do with each of the children, and they were a huge success. I was really impressed by how simple they were and how little mess there was. They really came together very easily!

Mom specifically said that one of the best things about this product was that it was very easy to choose age-appropriate projects using the same box. She said she could easily see adults and teenagers finding fun things to do with it. And she was able to use it with my three-year-old as well.

My three-year-old (soon to be four) daughter worked on a snow man. Here is a video of her working on her project:

My eight-year-old, Sidge, made a Christmas tree. Sidge is always a great sport and excited to try new things -- but he doesn't want to devote a ton of time to anything. This was a perfect amount of attention span for him! Here is a video of him working on his project:

And here is a picture of him with his completed project. He was really proud of what he did:

Isaac, who is nine, wanted to make a bowl. Here is his almost-finished bowl. He ended up doing a lot more painting to it after I took this picture below. I love the smile on his face. He was really proud of his bowl!

Abigail, who just turned six, worked on some star ornaments. But she also wanted to do the same snowman her sister did. And she did a great job! She really has a lot of my husband's art skills in her. You can see that the hat is removable and will be a little candy dish.

Grama and the kids used the Rigid Wrap to make nearly everything seen above. There was a separate bonus product included as well called CelluClay. They used this product to make the nose on the snowman and the ornaments on the bowl. 

Creating the projects was really very simple -- in fact, I could have done it, and I'm not artsy AT ALL. Some newspaper, warm water, scissors, and detailed instructions (which came with) were all it took to get started. Some of the projects required additional materials, but you could definitely do a lot of things by just using what was in the box. 

In addition, the ACTÍVA Products' Favorite Sculpture KIDS CRAFTS free eBook is a full color document with a ton of other great ideas as well. Take some time to check out: Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit today!

My kids had a blast with this product! And Grama did too. Take some time to check out this company on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram
Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit {ACTÍVA Products Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Saturday, July 22, 2017

As Bought a Farm: Our new guineas arrive!

Back in June of 2015, we received our first batch of guinea fowl. We really enjoyed these birds, and we especially enjoyed how many bugs they ate -- especially ticks!

Once you get guineas to "imprint" on your farm, they will most likely stay forever. This was the case for us. They would roam the entire farm during the day, and then, each evening, the guineas would come up to the house around dinner time to get some food, and then climb up and into their guinea house and roost for the night.

However, about one year after we had the guineas, we made the decision to move them out of our yard and the roost they occupied. The reason was two-fold. (1) They were getting into our flower beds and taking dust baths continually AND (2) The dogs had begun chasing them, and I couldn't work on training the dogs with guineas everywhere. 

This proved to be a terrible decision. Without realizing it, a predator began picking off our guinea fowl. Because we weren't feeding them each evening anymore and because they weren't coming into our yard, we had no idea how many we had, and didn't realize their numbers had dwindled until they were completely eliminated from our farm.

At the time, we were okay that this had happened. The issue with the dogs and the garden made us almost relieved to not have the guineas.

But this year, we really started missing them again. Mostly we noticed how many more ticks we were finding on us, our WWOOFers, and the kids. So we decided to bring the guineas back.

We are going to set up their roost outside of our yard and try to keep them from coming into our yard and mingling with our flower beds and dogs. We have some ideas to keep predators at bay. And I am excited to hear the sounds of the guineas again. Many people say they are loud. And, okay, they are, but I find their sound incredibly "happy" and "uplifting." I miss it on the farm. 

This past week, about thirty guinea fowl arrived as two-day-old little chicks. Here are some photos and videos sharing their arrival:

Leave it to Hannah to come outside in a sparkly shirt and a blanket because she couldn't find any pants.

Isaac holding one of the new guineas.


The adorable Haley -- our current WWOOFer. 

And here is a video of their arrival


The following was written by Briana -- one of our Because of Isaac couples. 
This is probably the most exciting announcement I have EVER had the pleasure of making. 

Have you ever waited for something for so long that you lost hope it would ever happen? If you’re there right now, can I just tell you: There.Is.Hope. God has not forgotten you. He has not abandoned you. If you have a desire in your heart, it is there because God placed it there. He will fulfill it because He is faithful. You just don’t get to know when or for how long it will be before He fulfills it.

Ryan and I set out on this journey to adopt 5 years ago. Our home study was approved 4 years ago last month, and I remember feeling so hopeful and confident it wouldn’t be long before we got “the call”. I have always wanted to be a mom, and I just knew God was going to make my dream come true. 

What was sure (in my mind) to be a short wait turned into months and those months turned into a year. One year turned into two. Two years into three. You get the idea. By about this time last year, I felt the last embers of hope fading. I could no longer imagine getting that call, and I even lost my obsession with knowing where my phone was every second of everyday. Those were some very dark days, if I’m being honest.

God surrounded us with people who helped us through the longest, darkest nights of our wait. They encouraged us, cried with us, and lifted us up. You know who you are. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

Our story doesn't end there...HOPE was just around the corner. Thank you, Jesus!! 

We are so happy to announce that we are matched with a beautiful expectant mom, and expecting a precious BABY BOY in less than a month. Our hearts are overwhelmed with gratitude and love for this gift of life.

In the days and weeks to come, would you pray for our expectant mom, S, and for the sweet little boy she carries. And pray for us, as we endure this final stretch of our wait. This will undoubtedly feel like the longest few weeks of our lives.

I hope our story brings a renewed sense of hope to those of you in the thick of it. He is faithful, even if you lose hope along the way.

Friday, July 21, 2017

We Bought a Farm: Lots of updates on our WWOOFer program

We have a new WWOOFer here at the farm named Haley. Actually she's been here for about two weeks. One week left. She put together a little video showing some of the animal chores she does here on the farm. It is really cute and gives you a little insight into what animal chores might look like on any given day. You will notice some cameos by some chicken feet. We just processed our chickens, and we try to use ALL PARTS of our animals so nothing goes to waste. The pigs receive a lot of the chicken "leftovers" that we are unable to use.

Haley is actually our 20th WWOOFer! She is a 19-year-old college student who wanted to stretch herself and do something new during her summer break. She is an upbeat, positive gal, who is just seriously a wonderful person. People like Haley give me hope for my own children as they grow up. Maybe they can grow up to be a good adult!!

(A quick side note. Many of these people find us through the website. However, we also receive a lot of volunteers through

Typically, each volunteer helps us with basic animal chores. They might also jump in on some other things, but animal chores are what we need them most for. We ask each volunteer to stay for about 2-4 weeks. At that point, some ask to stay longer, but many are on to their next adventure.

I have mentioned our intern, Jacob, a few times on the Blog. For the first time, we have accepted a long-term WWOOFer. We had another for four months (Dan!) and one other for two and a half (MaryAnn!), but Jacob, will be with us for about ten months when it is all said and done. He is incredible here on the farm. If we had to leave tomorrow, he could keep the farm running without question. We also trust him without question and are so appreciative of what he has brought to our farm and family.

So while Jacob has been here, we have been trying to have a second WWOOFer with him. Jacob can then keep up on the garden, moving animals, and tons of other odds and ends that are actually getting us ahead instead of just keeping us treading water. And the second WWOOFer can do all the animal chores that would otherwise dominate Jacob's day.

In the past, we didn't have this option because I only had two guest rooms. A WWOOFer occupied one of them and the second room was reserved for guests -- family and friends that came to visit us. However, when we bought our camper, an added bonus was that guests could stay in the camper. So now we have two WWOOFer rooms and the camper for guests.

Some farms will put bunkbeds in rooms and house multiple WWOOFers in one room. We really wanted to avoid that. We think that providing people with their own room is one of the perks of volunteering on our farm. We also want to keep our numbers low and really only bring in people we feel we can really trust. So they have their own room, a bathroom they share with guests or other volunteers, and a shared living room area that has a microwave and a few other basics. They eat breakfast and lunch on their own in our kitchen, and they eat dinner with our family.

When we don't have a second WWOOFer, and even when we do, I have been spending a LOT of time helping with animal chores. Not only do I like to stay active and keep up on how our animals are doing, but there is just so much going on here in the summer that I really feel the need to jump in help. In addition, it is just so incredibly hot here right now that none of our volunteers can last very long outside. Jacob actually does a lot of his gardening work between 7pm-9:30pm -- when it gets dark. The one great thing about being in the mountains is the drop in temperature early in the morning and late at night.

Many people have asked me about our volunteer program and where we see it going. We really aren't sure. We have had great success with the program and have had very few people that were not a great fit. And now we are starting to see some of those people return for second stays. One of our favorite WWOOFers, Tymen, from Holland, is returning in September! And another gal we just loved, MaryAnn, is planning to come back in October.

However, the fact still remains that having extra people here does require a lot of organization and does decrease our privacy. We also feed these individuals which means that including my in-laws and guests that may be here, I feed a minimum of 9 people every night and sometimes up to 17! My house is open from 7:30am until 7:30pm. Volunteers walk in and out to eat, hang out with the family, or ask questions. When I am away from the house, they are in my house. They do not sleep in our house. But there are always people coming and going. Most people tell me they can't imagine living this way. But for now, God has told me He wants me to continue loving and showing these young people His love. So I am doing that.

I truly never thought that the Lord would call me to open our home and our life like this. I don't think He will call me to this forever. But for now, we have told him that this is HIS LAND, and we will do with it what HE TELLS US TO DO. One step at a time.

But the fact remains that my children are getting older. And as they get older, they are venturing farther and farther from my wings. At some point, we think the volunteer program, at least as it looks now, will come to an end. The safety of our children is too important, and we want them to have freedom to be out on our farm. If there are volunteers also out on our farm, their safety is put in jeopardy. Right now, the kids don't venture around the farm very much on their own, so we are still able to have very good rules in place to keep them safe. But obviously, when we have teenage daughters, I can't bring in twenty-year old male WWOOFers! :) John might seriously have a mental breakdown.

For now though, we take the next step, and keep moving forward until God tells us not to. We are excited about the possibility of partnering with a mission organization we love dearly in Nigeria. They are interested in sending two Nigerians to work here for six months, learn the ins and outs of permaculture, and take that knowledge back to their people. We are still a ways off from that happening, but are hopeful it could take off in the spring.

Have other questions? Please feel free to ask them. We are an open book about this program and are incredibly excited to have participated! We understand that most people can't imagine this kind of life. We get that. But we honestly feel like this is our mission. You probably can't imagine being a missionary. But people do it. That's kind of how I feel about this calling. I didn't want to be called to this. But it's where God has me. And I have to listen.

P.S. If you want to see another great WWOOFer video, please check out Jordan's video here.

And if you are interested, here is the longer version of Haley's video. It is so cute!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

We Bought a Farm: Bauernhof Kitsteiner daily videos (VLOG) UPDATED!!!

JB has started a daily video of life on the farm. I've been told this is called a VLOG. We will be doing one of these almost everyday so stay tuned!

May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
August 2015
  • Episode 36 (An animal update: sheep, pigs, ducks, and geese)
  • Episode 37 (New mobile shelter for sheep and pigs)
  • Episode 38 (Feeding fermented grains to the pigs and sheep)
  • Episode 39 (Abigail feeding ducks)
  • Episode 40 (Laying chicks arrive!)
  • Episode 41 (166 new chicken sin our brooder: 101 broiler and 65 egg layers)
September 2015
October 2015
  • Episode 44 (Repairing degraded land using sheep, pigs, and chicken)
  • Episode 45 (Repairing Arrowhead Pond)
November 2015
  • Episode 46 (Making chicken stock)
  • Episode 47 (Our 9 week old Cornish Rock Cross chickens are ready for processing!)
  • Episode 48 (Processing day for the broiler chickens)
  • Episode 49 (The scalder and plucker in action)
  • Episode 50 (Finishing a long day of processing chickens)
  • Episode 51 (An update on, and closer look at, our layer chickens.)
  • Episode 52 (Introducing a ram to our ewes)
  • Episode 53 (Pig update)
  • Episode 54 (Using sheep against brambles)
  • Episode 55 (Our portable pig/sheep shelter)
  • Episode 56 (Pasture improvement with sheep, pigs, and chickens)
December 2015
  • Episode 57 (Introducing 3 new pigs to the farm!)
  • Episode 58 (Combining the geese and ducks into one family)
  • Episode 59 (A video Grampa shot showing the overflow from our pond after a long, hard rain. If we had not fixed the damn wall, we may have lost the pond. The repair was just in time.)
  • Episode 60 (Another video shot by Grampa after a long, hard rain. This video shows our sill working as designed when the volume exceeded the capacity of our main drain.)
  • Episode 61 (Sheep playing follow the leader!)
  • Episode 62 (Flooding of the duck and goose paddock.)
  • Episode 63 (The geese and ducks enjoying the flooded paddock.)
  • Episode 64 (A pond in need of repair. Getting dangerously close to some big problems.)
  • Episode 65 (Quick fix of our pond in danger.)
  • Episode 66 (More water management issues -- A cut back erosion channel in a valley.)
  • Episode 67 (Feeding fermented grains to our sheep and pigs.)
  • Episode 68 (Our birds sleeping after having their wings clipped.)
  • Episode 69 (Dead ducks! Ugh!)
January 2016
February 2016
  • Episode 72 (Checking for eggs at our new EggMobile) 
March 2016
April 2016
  • Episode 77 (Twins! The first lambs born on the farm!)
  • Episode 78 (The first lambs on the farm, enjoying Spring on the first day of life!)
  • Episode 79 (Four geese lost in one night. One goose sitting on a nest.)
  • Episode 80 (Spring lamb update.)
  • Episode 81 (Tree planting preparation.)
  • Episode 82 (Tree planting preparation, Part 2.)
  • Episode 83 (Getting our first tress in the ground!)
  • Episode 84 (Heeling in some of our bare-root trees that we couldn't plan right away.)
May 2016
June 2016
July 2016
August 2016
September 2016
  • Episode 107 (Moving the Egg Mobile means we need to retrain the flock)
  • Episode 108 (Maximilian Sunflowers popping up all over the farm)
  • Episode 109 (Getting started on our garden ... finally!)
  • Episode 110 (Our mobile livestock shade shelters)
October 2016
  • Episode 111 (Spiderwebs as a marker of pasture biodiversity and regeneration)
  • Episode 112 (Red-Winged Blackbird chasing a Red-Tailed Hawk)
  • Episode 113 (Our current livestock watering system using 275-gallon IBC totes)
November 2016
December 2016
  • Episode 118 (Piglets nursing on a different mom) 
  • Episode 119 (Mother nursing other piglets as she prepares to give birth)
  • Episode 120 (Pig home birth)
  • Episode 121 (Smoking pork from a farm-raised hog)
  • Episode 122 (Using pigs to till the land in preparation for our Food Forest.)
February 2017

March 2017
  • Episode 125 (Massive rain event and our swales and pond just barely stayed intact.)
  • Episode 126 (How we move our pigs when we need to get them across our property.)
April 2017
  • Episode 127 (Rotational grazing pigs to regenerate poor pastures)
  • Episode 128 (Shaggy mane mushrooms in our pastures)
  • Episode 129 (Sheep in new paddock)
  • Episode 130 (A temporary "release valve"/level sill on our swales during major rain event)
  • Episode 131 (Dung beetle on our farm!)
June 2017
July 2017
John's Farm/Permaculture Blog Posts
To read all of my past posts about our farm, click here.