Friday, January 31, 2020

We Bought a Farm: The Doggies

Our two dogs are completely different creatures. Arabelle is with us on the farm all ... the ... time. Wherever we are (and specifically wherever, I am), Arabelle is there ...

Ritter on the other hand is always in the house, laying down, waiting for his belly to be scratched by anyone. You could be a complete stranger. He doesn't care. It's all he lives for. Truly:

Thursday, January 30, 2020

TF Homeschooling: Giving a Glimpse

This is what homeschooling looked like in our house today.

Of course this is just a two-minute snippet. 

Two-minutes can't really paint any picture completely accurately. 

There are two wwoofers (currently have Jacob and Jake here), and grandparents and a husband coming in and out with things going on. And there are tears when things aren't going the right way. There's kids trying to bargain or getting frustrated that they have to edit a paper again. 

And there's me taking a thirty-minute walk because I am about to lose my mind with one particular student who has been complaining the entire day. 

But generally, it's a happy place ... chaotic. But I wouldn't have it any other way,


We Bought a Farm: A Tangled Reel & The Glad Game

This is a reel. 

(Actually this picture above is three reels, but I just snagged this from this Internet because this story really needs pictures to do it justice, and I couldn't find one darn picture of a reel anywhere!)

These reels are a MAJOR component to what we do on the farm. These reels help set up paddocks for our sheep so that we can rotate them to fresh paddocks every 3-5 days. 

To get some more information on "rotational grazing" and why we use these reels, you can visit some posts from JB's TCPermaculture Blog by clicking here: 
And here's a video that shows it too:

But that's not the point of my post. The point of my post is that in order to rotate sheep, we have to take down and set up paddocks continually. We call these experiences "Paddock Parties." They aren't really a party (by any stretch of the word), but we try to get "all hands on deck." If we get a lot of people out, we can take down and set up as many as 4-6 paddocks in an hour.

But if a reel tangles ...

Ohhhh, if a reel tangles ...

Tangled reels are the BAIN of my existence folks.

The BAIN of any of us here on the farm. 

Yesterday, we had a tangled reel. I won't say who tangled the reel because that doesn't really matter. What matters it that two individuals (myself included) spent 2.5 hours untangling a reel following a tangle. 

I'm constantly amazed how fast "plans" can change on a farm. One minute it is 3pm. I am about to go in and make dinner. The next minute it is 5:30pm, and we are just finishing up untangling a reel. 

In the midst of the tangled reels, I tried to find the "Pollyanna" part of the experience. It was beautiful weather! There was someone (Grama) inside to help watch children so I didn't have to rush inside. My helper was a nice guy who patiently worked through the reel with me. 

If you haven't heard of Pollyanna's "Glad Game", I encourage you to watch this clip below. The ballet reminded me of how important it is to try to bring happiness and positivity into every situation. I find that remembering this is ESPECIALLY important in farming where there are so many pieces that can not work right and cause something to not go the way you had planned!


Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Are you a Carla?

Are You a Carla?

I was a military wife, mother to three young children and one huge Dalmatian. About to be stationed on a Portuguese island in the middle of the Atlantic, I was excited about the adventure that awaited our family of five. We left Turkey and boarded a plane for the Azores, excited to spend two more years living overseas together as a family.
Shortly after arriving, I met her. Also a military wife, she had two young boys of her own, a nice match for my three- and four-year-old sons. She lived off-base. My husband, too, had wanted to live off-base. During our time in Turkey, he had gotten slightly burned out as the doctor on a tiny base. He felt that at this new assignment, he needed some separation between work and home.
To read the rest of this article, jump over to THE GLORIOUS TABLE

Monday, January 27, 2020

We Bought a Farm: Back to the Grind

We aren't late-night people. 

We are farmer people.

But once a year, we commit a solid two weeks to the ballet. It is worth it. We love it. We love the group and what it stands for and what it has been in all of my kids' lives but especially in Abigail's life. 

But we are TIRED. I think I'd rather be farm tired from hard farm work instead of tired from way too many late nights.

But now it's Monday. And ballet is over ... and real life is back in full gear. 

Sometimes I think: #Icantbelievethisismylife

For example, I found this jar on my counter. I immediately asked JB, "Why is there a mason jar of nails on the counter?"

To which my husband replied: "Those aren't nails. They are willow tea sticks for rooting hormones."


Ummmm ...

(I am not sure what that means exactly but I think that it means you cut little sticks off and then use those to make new plants?)

And then, there is this video ... carrot testing here at the farm. We've been growing many varieties of carrots and storing them in different ways. Tonight we decided to try these different carrots and decide which ones we liked best.


Ballet to carrots and rooting hormones.

Go figure.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Happy Birthday JB!

My husband is 44 years old today! Forty-four! How is that possible? He's been the love of my life since he was seventeen. Over 25 years!

I'd love to tell you all the wonderful things we have planned for his birthday, but the ballet is dominating our birthday for him this year (and the past four years). Not that he'd complain. 

Greatest man EVER!

For his birthday this year, I thought I would write down all the "hats" JB has worn since I've known him:

  • Graphic designer
  • Disk jockey
  • Landscape employee
  • Physician
  • Soccer coach
  • Team statistician
  • Chef
  • Farmer
  • Birder
  • He's done photography for weddings
  • He's made a cake at weddings
  • He's done flowers for weddings
  • He's done make-up for ballets
  • Husband
  • Dad
  • Brother
  • Uncle
  • Son
  • And sooooo much more!!!!

Saturday, January 18, 2020

We Bought a Farm: Farmer Wendi

Yesterday I made an egg/lamb drop. 

(It is sort of like a drug drop, but it isn't illegal and it includes farm products instead of drugs.)

This particular family have become very regular costumers. (I'll call her MK to keep her anonymous since this is a ... "drop".) They love what we are doing and strive to eat foods from farms like ours. I love selling to people like her. It feels so good to hand things over to someone who understands why I am so proud of it. 

As I handed over the eggs and ground lamb and we chatted for a few minutes, MK said, "When my three-year-old asked me where we were running off to, I told her, We are going to see Farmer Wendi."


Her little girl knows me as Farmer Wendi.

Later that evening, I recounted the story to JB. 

"I achieved a life goal today," I told him. "To be called Farmer Wendi."

We both laughed. 


"Did you ever, every picture your life ..."

He didn't need to finish the question.

The answer is NO! No! Definitely not! Ever!

The grown-up Wendi in the little-girl Wendi's mind lives in the suburbs. There are neighbors and a tiny yard and maybe a dog. And if the kids were really lucky a goldfish or something. She'd buy her food at the grocery store and her hands would never get dirty unless you count a trip to the beach with her kiddos where she built sandcastles. 

Never in a million years would I be living in the country. Never rural. Never not seeing neighbors from my front porch. Never, ever being Farmer Wendi


And yet ... deep down, I know this is where I belong. I also know I could never, ever go back to the Wendi of my dreams.

Thanking God today for the dreams that don't come true ...

Friday, January 17, 2020

Dinner by myself

I had a doctor’s appointment in Johnson City today. I left kiddos with Grampa and Grama and decided to have some Indian food too. 

I L-O-V-E Indian food ... LOVE it. And since the closest place is almost an hour away, I don’t get it as often as I like (unless my husband cooks it which makes my heart super happy.) 

I messaged a few friends but no one was able to join me so I brought a good book and myself and am sitting in the restaurant by myself enjoying my alone time and dinner immensely. 

I’m also gonna bring some takeout home for JB — will have it for him when he gets home from his 7a-7p shift. 

I used to worry about what people thought of me if I ate by myself. While I am sure some people eating by themselves are lonely, I think others, like me, are enjoying themself tremendously. 

Don’t feel sorry for me — be jealous. :)

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Harry Potter Day

JB finished reading Book 4 of Harry Potter with the kiddos last week and that meant it was time to watch the fourth movie together! (My boys have already devoured the books on their own, and both JB and I have read them solo as well.)

John made Butter Beer and Polyjuice Potion and Pumpkin Pasties and some other fantastic snacks. It was a super fun day!

Monday, January 13, 2020

Parenting a Pomegranate

Motherhood is so hard. And wonderful. And exhausting. And exhilarating. And overwhelming. And fabulous. And scary. It's chocked full of emotions. Good and bad. No one can understand it until you are in it. 

This chick. 

My little dinosaur. 

Our sweetie-pie pomegranate. 

She's sugar and spiey in one incredible little dynamo package. 

And despite the drama that I feel unfolds in a family each and every day, when you ask Hannah what makes her sad, she will often say: "Nothing makes me sad."

She's just a little kid loving life, waking up each morning with nothing on her agenda but playing and being ... young. She's dressing up like a dinosaur and asking for snuggles and expressing herself fiercely and poignantly. 

I often think of this little girl and the fact that without our infertility journey, we wouldn't have her.

She was worth every single moment of procedures and doctors and medicine.

I love you Hannah Joy. Thank you for the JOY you've brought to our home. It just wouldn't be the same without your little self in our lives,

Saturday, January 11, 2020

We Bought a Farm: The GROSS Stuff

It's important to remember that real life is a septic system over running your garage bathroom. It's the muck. The grossness. The complete truth that life can be messy. That even an idyllic slow-life requires wading through the dirt and blah sometimes ...

It's thinking the problem was relegated to the garage only to discover that the big house is on the same system and so everything is boiling over into the lowest point in that wwoofer bathroom. 

It's a text to a few friends and a reminder from one to keep your eyes on the truth

"When anxious thoughts begin to well up, focus and direct this question to God. 'What do you want me to learn from this?' And ask Him to teach you that lesson. Each hardship in our lives, I look at as a 'test day' where you get to take the test and see what you've learned between the tests. Try to ace it, Wendi! Don't settle for a B."

It means not flushing toilets and digging holes in the yard trying to find the septic tank that no one ... including the builder or the plumber is sure of. 

It means taking the kids to a big ballet lesson while you leave Grampa in charge of something that no human being wants to try to be in charge of. And feeling loved and supported through his willingness to deal with the grossest of the gross. 

But it's a reminder that beautiful posts on social media aren't the whole story. 

The whole story is beauty surrounded by moments of muck and trusting God in all of it!

What Your Complaints Actually Reveal About Your Heart

I recently stumbled upon an article entitled: "What Your Complaints Actually Reveal about Your Heart."

I encourage you to read the article in its entirety. However, I wanted to share one section that really jumped out at me. 

"If people irritate you a lot, your problem isn't the people; it's pride." 

I'll be honest. I don't think I'm a person who gets bothered by things any more than the average Joe. But I do think that as I have gotten older, my Pollyanna-ness has worn down substantially. I get a lot more annoyed and bothered than I did when I was younger. 

And then I read this.

And I realized that the author was ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. 

I get bugged because people aren't doing it the way I think is the best or most efficient or more appropriate. That's really what it boils down to. Sure there are times when people are just flat-out wrong. But most of the time, I'm annoyed because I don't like what they are doing because it isn't the way I would do it.

Which means I think my way is better.

Which is pride.


Friday, January 10, 2020

What the Research TELLS us to do (vs. what we actually do)

A friend posted this article on Facebook, and it really resonated with me. You can read the article in its entirety by clicking here: What the Research Tells Us To Do. I want to note that this is a friend who has her kids in public school. This is not a homeschooling post bashing public schools in the least bit. 

I am not against public schools. Or private schools. I taught in a public school. I went to a private school. My Dad taught in that school. My brother is an athletic director at a school now. Most of my family members and many of my friends have their kids in school.

But this article resonated as to why (some of our) schools are broken and why more and more parents are saying "I can't let the school do this wrong." 

For example: nearly all research indicates that children are not really ready to read until they are seven-years-old. But in the USA we are NOT listening. We are forcing kids to learn to read younger and younger when the facts are: MOST are not ready.

If you wander into a homeschool cooperative, you will find that a vast majority of the children are not reading at five or even six-years-old. That's because we are listening to the research. Almost all kids are reading by the age of seven. When the research indicates they are ready.

Another point this article touches on: "early childhood education should focus on equity, happiness, well-being and joy in learning." It's proven. It's a fact. The research shows it. 

But we aren't listening in the USA. We are:

  • increasing instruction time.
  • relying on standardized tests.
  • requiring kids to sit and listen.
  • focusing HARD on literacy and math at young ages.
Now listen: I know some schools aren't doing this. And some teachers are fighting this norm. I'm just summarizing in a general sense what this article said. 

The author finishes with this, and I agree: "This is not my feeling. This is not my opinion. This is not my philosophy. These are the facts as fas we can currently determine them. It is cruel, even abusive, to base our educational system on other people's feelings and fantasies, even if they are rich and powerful. For the sake of our children, we must demand play-based education because, damn it, that's what the evidence tells us."

TF Homeschooling: What I love

I love to see kids working together on school assignments. I do think one "downside" to traditional school is that kids are all the same age. I really think there is something awesome about the "one room schoolhouse." 

Here's a fun video of the insanity fun in our home this week. 

Thursday, January 09, 2020

We Bought a Farm: A Bit of Culture

Each of our students is studying a country right now as we get back underway in January. The Kotynski kids are studying Bolivia as they just got back from a wonderful vacation to see family and the place that Aunt Hannah was born. 

Abigail is studying Germany -- the country which she was born in.
Hannah is studying the Azores -- the first home she ever had.
Sidge is studying Turkey -- his home from ages 2-4. 
Isaac chose Canada -- a pretty random decision I think.

Each student has to complete about 20 different assignments related to their country. This includes writing papers, reading books, discussing currency, and even cooking a meal! Today Abigail (with the help of Grama) cooked German pancakes!

That wasn't the only taste of culture we got! Tijmen sent us a package from the Netherlands. What a fantastic surprise! I got a Delft plate (my favorite!!!!) and the kids got key chains. We also got some stroop waffles! So, so fun!!!