March 02, 2013

New Blog

Here is the LINK to my New Blog.  It is not finished, and I keep changing the title, but due to so many requests and inquiries, HERE YOU GO.  If I change it again and move the blog, I'll post it on here.
For now, feel free to come on over and join us on our new adventure.

January 19, 2013

New Adventures...Join me.

This blog began in 2006, and gives a glimpse of our farming adventure.  It started with the purchase of this house, my transition from suburb girl to farmer, and ends in 2013 with our decision to farm full time.  Along the way we went from 2 children to 4, I ran a marathon, started and stopped homeschooling, and started homeschooling again.   I also became a completely different person than I was 7 years ago.  It is so fun to look back at the first few years here.   From dealing with fly's on my window, rats in the yard, a barn fire, and learning how to do everything from scratch, this blog makes me laugh.

However I'm finished here.  I started with the title 'Proud to be Country'.  I named it that because when I first told my friend I was moving here, she made fun of me and called me a 'hick and a redneck'.  I thought no. I'm happy about living in the there. Hence Proud to be Country. 
Then after a few years, I didn't like the term 'proud'.  I'm not 'proud'. I'm just me and I'm enjoying my different life.   However, after the birth of my fourth child, I was struggling. I struggled with who I was and what my life had become. I felt like I was drowning. I felt like I was trying to enjoy a life that was not for me. Not who I was.  Hence 'Finding my Happy Pace.'   The past couple of years were about me finding my way here. About me figuring out how to find myself here, and why God put me here.   Little did I know that most of my struggle had to do with SEVERE post partum depression.

Alas, I've found my happy pace. My happy pace is good and slow.  It is as simple as I can make it. Of course, going back to simple has involved a HUGE learning curve.  When you have never made muffins, or your own soap, there is a lot of trial and error involved.  My motivations are 3 fold. One, we live on one income, and are about to farm for a living, so we need to be as frugal as possible; Two, making things from scratch is better for our health (no chemicals), and better for the earth ( no factory production, and no chemicals down the drain).  Three, doing things myself is very satisfying and fun. I am having so much fun learning how to make things.   Besides, I can make our own stuff and sell the extras for those people that don't wish to do it themselves.  I think it will be my contribution to our farming adventure.

So there you have it.  The end of this adventure, and the beginning of another.  I've created a new blog.   When it is up and running I will post the link HERE.

Feel free to join and laugh with me on this new adventure in my life.  

January 16, 2013

This Blog is Done :(

So. I have officially taken up all my free space on my blog. I can no longer post unless I purchase more data. Since I really don't want to do that, I am changing blogs.

Stay tuned for the new blog.

I will provide the link on here when I figure out the where and how.

Till then, you will just have to wait for posts Dad :)

December 21, 2012

Elm Valley Farm Natural Product Line

December has been filled with lots of learning and home made goodness. Apart from learning how to render beeswax and lard, I've been learning how to do all sorts of natural products.  And NO I am NOT a crafty person so this is such a fun learning curve. 

This stems from my love of all things Natural, Luxurious  and CHEAP :)  If I can learn to make my own products and sell the extras all the better!

I'm hoping to be ready for the farmer's market in the spring, offering a Natural Product line to supplement our farm income of beef/poultry and eggs. 

Having the flu ravage our family twice this fall has forced us to just be together. I'm enjoying this time with the kids. Life is too short and I'm not letting these years of play pass me by. 

November 30, 2012

Giant cardboard Gingerbread house

How to build a Gingerbread house that will fit on the back of a mini truck.  for CHEAP.

Step 1:  Go dumpster diving at your local furniture store.

Step 2: Head to your local Dollar store for cheap accessories and paint.

Step 3: Walmart for 13$ recycled brown paint and 5 ROLLS of white duck tape. Get the good stuff.

Step 4:  Work your butt off for 2 days. Order pizza and have the kids make their own Kraft dinner. Don't even bother showering, and plan on falling into bed exhausted.

Step 5: Pray that you measured correctly and that it will actually fit on the truck.

More pics to follow with lights added!!!

November 28, 2012

I made soap!

Look I made soap!! O.K so it is the most basic soap you can possibly make, and it doesn't look pretty by any means. But it is soap!! yay me.

All I have to say about making stuff from scratch is that it is super easy. No wonder business' make a killing selling us stuff we could really make ourselves.  As for this learning how to make stuff so we can be self sufficient stuff.... We still have to buy our basic supplies from SOMEWHERE! so SOMEONE out there has to make all the basics. So really. If  the world goes black I would be just as lost as everyone else.  Only my ability to start a fire with sticks, and make shelter would save me. That is of course counting on fresh water near by and a honey hive I can steal from.

So I am definitely not doing this to be self sufficient. I am doing this to make natural products out of the stuff we produce and will be producing from our farm. And it is sooo much fun! 
I hope none of you mind getting soap for Christmas because that is pretty much where all our money is going ;)

November 27, 2012

Our 5th Child

The dog is doing fine....In case you were worried.
My house is no longer mine ;)

November 25, 2012

Our Jesse Tree Journey

The Christmas season is once again upon us. I have most of my presents purchased if not thought out, and the lights are lit up. 

It is so easy to get caught up in the Christmas craziness. We all know that, so I won't bother talking about what Christmas is NOT about.  Instead I wanted to share what we do to  help prepare our hearts for one of the most magical days of the year.

In our home, we do something called a Jesse tree.  We got the idea from A Holy Experience, and downloaded all the materials for FREE from her website.  It is a daily devotional, explaining from beginning to end the reason for Christ.  It is quite intense, and very educational. It is also beautiful and practical. We did it last year for the first time, and the girls loved putting the ornaments on the tree.  It is so detailed, that we are learning things that just slipped by us last year.  It is also good, because the older the kids get, the more they will 'get it'.

This year we picked our perfect stump, and some branches full of thorns to represent our shoot.  It sits in our dining room as a daily reminder of why we do what we do.  I highly recommend doing this with your kids. After all.... it IS why we celebrate in the first place.

November 23, 2012

Peek into Our Day

On top of all the farming stuff we are learning to do, the kids still have 'school work' to do. As a substitute for math today we played a board game that involved money and counting. They get bored doing math problems on their own all the time, so it was a fun way for them to learn and have my full attention at the same time.

Science for Lara involved creating lip balm all on her own. We will find out in a couple of hours how she did. If it doesn't work, then we get to check out the science and figure out what went wrong. I'm a learn by doing (and messing up) kind of person, and I think Lara is as well. 

It is a gorgeous fall day today, so we are going outside for a while. I hope you are able to enjoy some of the day as well.


November 22, 2012

Rendering Bees Wax

To get the honey out of the frame, beekeepers scrape off the outer capping. This capping seals the honey in the frame. When the capping is scraped off, it contains wax (bees wax). However with the bees wax, is also some honey, dirt, and a few dead bees. I am fortunate, that the local beekeeper GAVE me his entire seasons worth of cappings to play with. If I am going to make lip balms, soaps, candles and other products I might as well figure out how to render pure bees wax for myself. So here is my first attempt:

First off, I took the advice of those before me, and purchased all used equipment from Goodwill and the Dollar store. Once something is used for wax, it will never be good to use for something else. Also, I learned that if you think you may spill wax everywhere.... you will. So be prepared and lay down a plastic table cloth and line your floors with newspaper. Trust me on this one.

  So this is what the cappings look like. You need to melt is very slowly and never leave it alone. Bees wax is highly flammable.  Like I said, along with the wax there is a bunch of other stuff, so we need to separate it.

The plastic bag has all my cappings.  The pot is melting everything down. Once I got it all melted down, I poured it through the sieve, into a bucket. All the big chunks were caught, but notice the dirt particles settling at the bottom of the bucket. This is a good thing.

All the wax will float to the top. At the bottom you will have honey, water, and sludge. The wax on top will begin to harden and turn yellow. From there you just pop it off!

At this point, this is where I messed up.  I allowed some of the already separated wax to harden, then poured more melted wax on top.  NOT a good idea, as the second batch of dirt simply settled on the wax, and I made layers. This made things quite messy.

Next time I will pour the wax into smaller containers, and if I have more to melt down and add, I will use a different bucket all together. I think it would be easier in the future to have a giant pot and melt it all down at the same time as well.

This is an example of what it looks like if you pour one batch into a container. This is mostly all beautiful wax.

Once the wax hardens, you simply life it out of the container. We are not finished yet though, because there is still some dirt stuck to the bottom of my wax.  That is normal.  I did learn to ADD WATER to the wax when melting it, so the wax does not adhere to my container. So go back to the beginner, and add water.

To get rid of the rest of the dirt, all I did was melt the wax down in a double boiler, and strain the wax into a clean container through clean panty hose (dollar store), stretched over the container.  One again the wax will harden.  When I need wax I simple shave or break off a piece, melt it down and do whatever I want with it!!!

Here, I poured the wax into a log we found to adhere some thorny branches to it.  It smells heavenly!

The great part about all this is that Lara is learning right alongside me. Right now she is making lip balm in the kitchen. I'm trying to stay away so she can make mistakes on her own. I don't smell smoke so I think it is going well ;)

We figure that our current stove will become the 'shop' stove. Cleaning the messes we are making is NOT fun.