NO 1 SON

Today I want to tell you about our No 1 son.  He is 19 years old now and he is a wonderful young man.

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They say that young ladies should look at how a prospective husband treats his mother before they make their decision.  If this was the case my son would be the best choice.

He is loving, caring, considerate and generous both with his time and his money.  He is always willing to help me around the house and actually got a bit miffed at me the other day for mopping the floor for him because he said it was his job.

He hasn’t always been easy to deal with and had a difficult period before he turned 13.  When we  have talked about some situations that occurred he actually said that those weren’t his finest moments!!! God is so gracious and merciful.

I used to be concerned about how he would turn out but somehow I knew deep down that God would lead him in the right direction, and now I marvel at the truth of that.  We kept on with his training and discipline and education at home.  We kept him away from bad influences and we kept together as a family so that we could walk through situations with him, explaining, teaching and correcting as we went.

Now he is an adult and we still lead him and give him advice, but we step back now and let him make his own decisions, always being there for him when he needs us, and he has stepped up being there for us as well.

He works as a shearer now and is employed around the district by numerous landholders.  We are so pleased with how he handles himself in the wool sheds when he works and (because he is young) how he takes the ribbing that comes with the trade.

I will really miss him when he gets married and moves to a home of his own.  I pray that God will give him a Godly wife whom we can love and welcome into our family.  I also pray that we will allow him to leave and cleave so that his wife becomes the most important person in his life.

For now he is still here at home growing, learning and striving to be the best person and shearer he can be.

To God be the glory great things he hath done.

A wise son makes a father glad,  but a foolish man despises his mother.  Proverbs 15:20

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SHEARING FACTS

A shearer is a man that shears the fleece off a sheep.  We live in a grazing area which is predominately sheep and the sheep we have here need to be shorn at least once a year.  It is still a strenuous job and is tough. like the men who have to do it.  There aren’t too many young men who want to take up this occupation because of the work involved.

 

HAVE WE PRESENT DAY MOTHERS GOT IT SO BAD???

On Sunday we attended an anniversary of my husband’s first school.  It was a one teacher country school half way between their home and town.

There were many people there from around the area and a lot of people attended who had moved away as well.  So it was nice to catch up with some of the people I knew from when we lived on the family farm when we were first married some 25 years ago.

There was one person that I caught up with that left me with a lot of food for thought.  She is actually the mother of one of my dearest friends.   Her name is Mrs T and she is about 86 years old.

Apart from just catching up on our family and how our grandchildren are going she actually shared with me about her life as a young wife and mother so many years ago.  She gave me an insight into what life was like before we had power and all the mod cons that we do now.

When they were first married they lived in a one room hut, which still stands today.  They had no electricity and she milked 10 cows by hand every day.  She had 4 children under 5 and by the time she had the 5th child she was milking 20 cows per day.

She made all her own butter, soap and candles. She sewed all her children’s clothes on a treadle sewing machine.  She had a huge vegetable garden and heaps of fruit trees.  She preserved around 300 bottles of fruit per year and also vegetables.

sewing machine

When the children were little she had a girl helping her with daily chores and with the children.  I would suggest this would have been a great support to her, as her husband was busy with the farm and wouldn’t have had time for inside work.

I asked her whether all this work, with little help bothered her and she said no.  Her opinion was that that was how it was and you just got on with it.  Wow and I complain when the floor gets dirty and I have to plug in the vacuum cleaner!!!

They built a timber home when the children were little and eventually bricked this home.

I remember her vegetable garden at this home and the large amount of fruit trees and it always astounded me.  She also had an amazing garden of trees, shrubs and flowers, you could tell that she really enjoyed gardening.

I jokingly asked her when she slept when her children were little and her daughter replied “not much”.  It’s no wonder she is struggling with her health with all the hard work she did years ago.

So how hard is it for us modern mums really????  We have power and running water and toilets that flush.  I know that I have a supportive husband and children who also help around the house and with outside chores.

I wasn’t actually looking forward to going, but it turned out to be a great afternoon.  Not only did I catch up with some old friends but I got an insight into what life could have been like for me had I been born some 80 years ago.

It has made me realise that I should stop complaining about the little things and be grateful for all the mod cons and gadgets that I have that make my life easier and chores quicker.  I am also grateful for the children I have that help me out and collect the fire wood and hang up washing.

My experience today makes me want to get up in the morning and be a hardworking wife and mother, to strive to make our house a home.  It makes me want to be diligent in my housework and in teaching my children.

There is so much we can learn from the older generation and their wisdom on being wives, mothers and keepers at home.

It makes me want to rise up before the grayheaded and be thankful for her wisdom to a present day mum.

I am truly blessed.

You shall rise up before the grayheaded and honour the aged, and you shall revere your God. I am the LORD.  Leviticus 19:32

She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also , and he praises her.  Proverbs 31:27-28

How have you been challenged in your life and homemaking by the older generation??

PS.  The candles that Mrs T made were made with tallow or animal fat, not bees wax.  I found this fascinating…

This post is linked up here…

The Art of Homemaking Mondays Buttonand here

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IT’S VEGETABLE PLANTING TIME PART 1

It’s vegetable planting time in our place of the world.  Spring came on the 1st September and the weather has really warmed up quickly.

We don’t usually plant tomatoes here until after the Melbourne Cup Race on the 1st Tuesday in November because we can still get frosts, but this year we are trying something different.

We planted 60 tomato plants today and plan to put them under plastic.

The paddock that we are planting these vegetables in was sown with peas  last year and after we harvested them we left it for the winter. In late winter we moved the pigs into the paddock and let them eat the grass and work over the root matter, which then fertilizes and aerates.  Graeme then ploughed the whole paddock with the tractor.

Pigs digging
Pigs digging

He then prepared the bed by rotary hoeing it and making raised beds, so that we can get a deeper top soil.  We then found drench drums and placed them between every second tomato plant and filled them with water.

No 2 daughter filling the drums
No 2 daughter filling the drums

We will run hothouse plastic over the top and make a sort of poly tunnel which is held up by the drench drums.  The theory is that the water will heat up in the drums during the day and then at night when the temperature drops the drums cool off a lot slower than the atmosphere does thus stopping a freeze happening around the drum (It is a cold framing idea that my husband found on u tube).

After they planted the tomatoes they planted about 40 kg of white potatoes.  My husband once again prepared the bed and raised it.  He then spread sheep manure down it and rotary hoed it in, then the children planted the potatoes – two rows per bed.  Finally everything was watered in.

Graeme spreading sheep manure on the potato bed
Graeme spreading sheep manure on the potato bed
Planting potatoes
Planting potatoes

This is just the beginning of our plantings.  In a month, once the chance of frosts has gone we will plant another 300 tomatoes.  At the moment we planted Grosse Lisse tomatoes but we will probably put in some Romas as well.  Next week we will finish planting the potatoes, another 10 kg of whites and then 50 kg of reds.  We haven’t really grown potatoes before with much success so we thought we’d give it another try this year.

We will also be planting zucchinis, corn, pumpkins, cucumbers, beetroot and carrots in another week or so.

I will keep you updated with more photos and information as we go.

What are you planting at this time of the year in your place in the world???

THE BEAUTY OF THE BUTTERFLY

butterfliesWe delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to accomplish that beauty…

The other day we met No 1 daughter and her children at a town half way between their house and ours (about an hour driving each).

It was a wonderful day and we finished off our picnic lunch by having a cuppa at the local cafe and found this delightful and thought provoking picture on the wall.

This brings to mind our children and our relationships with them.  I now marvel at the beauty of the relationship we have with our older two children, but these relationships have gone through some immense changes to get to where they are.

When our children are young its a relationship of parent and child. We love, instruct, discipline and encourage, with tighter reigns on what the child is allowed to do.   It is not really a relationship of friends.

As they grow from toddlers to early teens it again changes.  It is still the parent/child relationship with instruction, disciplining and encouragement but it is somewhat evolving.

As with our children we start to encourage them to be adults, to be husbands and wives.  We lead them into home based business ideas and allow them time to develop them.

My husband took our No 1 son to TAFE once a week, where he could learn welding and machining and all that stuff in a controlled environment amongst other adults.  He was one of a few homeschooled children that have done adult trade education before he was 15.

Our daughter was already sewing for others by the time she was fifteen.  She also worked one day a week in our local fabric shop (owned by a close Christian friend) and what she learnt there I couldn’t have taught her.

When they were young adults the relationship was still of parent/child but we  developed a great friendship.  A friendship that still has boundaries of discipline but once again even that discipline is evolving.

My daughter and I are born talkers.  We both need to talk out the things on our minds.  We can chat for hours and still find things to say to each other.

No 1 son isn’t quite as talkative but when the time is right he shares his ideas and future plans and once again their is friendship.

Now they are adults, No 1 daughter is married and living the life we all prayed for.  Our relationship is still of parent/child but it doesn’t involve discipline.  It is truly a love, teach and encouragement relationship, and now it goes both ways.  I am sure she loves me as much as I love her and she teaches and encourages me everyday. We can still talk on the phone for hours on topics from what we are cooking for tea through to deep spiritual issues.  She is quite wonderful and we are blessed by this relationship, both myself and my husband.

Our No 1 son is now 19 and is quite the young man.  Our relationship is definitely one of Mother and Son but we are great friends as well. Now comes the time when we must trust in God for his safety and well being.  His father and I encourage him in the right choices but also step back and allow him to make his choice.  I tell you what – this can be hard.  We have to trust that his training and relationship with God will lead him in the right direction.

Both children know that we are always there for them whenever they need us.

So you can see that our relationships have now gone through many changes, both for them and us as parents but these relationships are beautiful and we delight in them.

This post is linked here…

MOMS THE WORDand here…

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and here…

Christian Mommy Blogger

 

PUMPKIN CAKE ROLL RECIPE

Here’s the recipe to go with the canned pumpkin.

Pumpkin Cake Roll

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar (I use caster sugar)
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin (drained)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Filling

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 250 grams cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tblsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Beat eggs on high speed for 5 mins.  Gradually beat in the sugar. Stir in pumpkin and lemon juice.  Combine flour with the rest of the dry ingredients and fold into pumpkin mixture.  Spread in a 10 x 15 inch pan lined with baking paper.  (I spray the paper with cooking spray so that the cake doesn’t stick)

Bake for 10 – 15 mins at 180 degrees.  Do not over bake.  Loosen edges with a knife and turn onto a towel that has been sprinkled with icing sugar.  Remove baking paper.  Starting at narrow end, roll towel and cake together.

Beat filling until fluffy. Spread over cake and roll.  Chill.

Absolutely Delicious!!!

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WHY WE KEEP PIGS

Why do we keep pigs???? Apart from the fact that when they are piglets they are extremely cute – but not as cute as our granddaughters!!!! (sorry couldn’t help putting in a photo of them).

Our beautiful granddaughters
Our beautiful granddaughters

We keep pigs for a variety of reasons and are listed as follows: (in no particular order)

  1. They are another source of protein for our family;
  2. They are great to dig up the paddocks before planting;
  3. We sell them to help pay our bills.

No 1 expanded:  We have our own cattle that we butcher for ourselves, and they are a Highland/Jersey cross.  We also endeavour to have meat rabbits and chickens for variety.  But another source is pork.  There is such a variety of things that you can do with pork and we especially like bacon.  We have just made our own bacon and it’s in the freezer.  I want to can it shortly.  I especially like pork spareribs done in my multicooker and will post a recipe on that later.

Sow and piglets
Sow and piglets

No 2 expanded:  My husband uses the pigs to dig up certain areas in our paddocks before planting vegetables or crops.  Last year they dug up our pumpkin patch for us and our other vegetable patches. We don’t keep our pigs in small pig pens as we like them to graze naturally on pasture, we do supplement their feeding with wheat or whatever grain or hay that we have on hand.  Pigs actually eat woody weeds that no other stock will and when you have them digging up they are aerating and fertilising the ground for your next crop.  Minimal soil preparation is needed then to create a good seed bed (information compliments of my husband).  At the moment the piglets get milk every day (from our dairy cow) mixed with wheat.   So not only are they doing us a favour but they are getting fed at the same time.

No 3 expanded:  At the moment we have 23 piglets running around and when they escape their fenced off area my husband calls them the tribe of Israel.  When they are little, getting out isn’t really a problem but as they get older they escape the confines of their yard and dig holes in our nice lawn.  We usually keep them in a roadside paddock and as we live on quite a major highway, we get people just dropping in wanting to buy them. Of course this is great and we have never advertised in any papers to get rid of them.  We will put an A-frame out the front this year as we have quite a few to sell off.

So pigs are very versatile and actually really quite fascinating to watch.  Last year one of our sows was due to farrow and the boar was pulling tufts of grass out and placing them behind her as she lay down.  We aren’t quite sure what this was all about because she eventually got up and walked off and didn’t farrow for a couple more days.  Maybe the boar had the nesting thing happening instead???!!!

So if you are thinking of keeping pigs (we have heaps and could sell you 1 or 23) we would really recommend it.  We have a mixture of Large Blacks and Berkshire and we do find that the heritage breeds have a better mothering temperament and handle the free range lifestyle better than the commercial breeds, and they also taste better.

One point to note when keeping pigs is that you need quite good fencing.  My husband keeps them in with electric fencing tape and we hardly ever have them on our nice lawn.  He is my hero!!!   I no longer have to run outside in my slippers with the kids to chase piglets.  Sometimes when you let the children chase them by themselves they can end up on the road, and I am sure you can image this to be a bit of a circus.

If you have pigs and have any advice or just humorous stories please let me know, I love a good laugh and we can always learn new ideas and way of doing things. 

Sow feeding piglets
Sow feeding piglets

 

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SOURDOUGH BREAD

I have been enjoying watching the program “River Cottage Garden” which is based in the UK (You can Google them and look at their website).  On one of these episodes they were making sourdough bread.  Now before No 1 daughter was married she used to make sourdough bread for us, and did a great job, but it always seemed so confusing to me and I didn’t really pay too much attention to how she went about it.

On this episode they explained it so simply and it seemed such an easy thing to do, so I gave it a try.

That evening I started my starter and fed it for a week.  I started it by mixing equal quantities of flour and water (I think I used a cup each). At this stage I only had white flour so that was what I used.  Once I had mixed it I placed it in a glass jar and loosely covered it with glad wrap.

I kept feeding the starter daily using equal quantities of flour and water. I mixed this separately and then gently stired it into my starter.

After a week you should see clear signs of fermentation.

Sourdough starter
Sourdough starter

I did so I started using it…. (this is exciting)

The recipe from River Cottage Garden stated that you make a sponge mixture the night before you want to bake bread.  So you get a bowl and measure out 500 grams flour and then add 700 ml warm water.  Mix this together and then add 2 soup ladles of the starter, mix again.

sponge mixture
Sponge mixture

Cover the bowl with glad wrap (cling wrap) and leave in a warm place over night.

The next morning take the bowl and add another 600 grams flour and 20 grams of salt.  Mix well until flour is all taken up.

Adding the extra flour and salt
Adding the extra flour and salt

Place a few drops of olive oil on the bench and your hands so that the mixture doesn’t stick.  Turn out the mix and knead.

Mixture ready to knead
Mixture ready to knead

Place in a greased bread tin.

Ready to rise
Ready to rise

Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm position until double in size (I leave mine on the shelf above our wood stove). This takes somewhere between 4 and 6 hours depending on the warmth in the room.

Keep an eye on the bread and when it looks almost ready preheat your oven to 250 degrees.

Bake for 45 mins.  Turn out onto a tea towel when warm and wrap up.

Yummy bread
The finished product

 

I have just purchased a grinder and I now use fresh ground wheat flour.

my grinder
my grinder

In the morning when I add the extra flour I use 300 grams of white. When I use all ground wheat I get a hole in the middle, but adding the white stops that problem.

This is a double recipe, you can halve it if you like a smaller loaf.

I have made this into fruit bread too, just add fruit and spices in the morning when adding the second lot of flour.

To keep your starter going just keep feeding it equal quantities of flour and water daily.  I feed mine after taking out the ladle for the sponge mixture at night.

This bread is really filling and I find that instead of eating almost a loaf for breakfast we only go through half a loaf, and it is really good for you too.

I also use this mix for pizza bases – I will post this soon.

If you have any ideas on stopping the hole in the middle when using all wheat flour – I’d love to know about it please.

Please let me know how you go if you try this recipe…

This post is linked up here…

 

HYPNOTIZING CHICKENS – HOMESCHOOL JOY

No 2 daughter and son are out hypnotizing chickens.  It was something that they saw on a “swamp man” type reality show.

They say it actually works and if they keep practicing as much as they are now, I’m sure it will.  Though I do feel somewhat sorry for the chickens, but they seem to be very long suffering.

They have finished their school for the morning and our outside enjoying the sunshine.  Spring is here in Victoria Australia and summer is coming quickly.

I have been trying to teach them to get into their school in the morning and in the afternoon they can go and have fun, doing the things they enjoy.  Sometimes this theory works and some times it doesn’t.

Some mornings it is a hard slog just to get through a maths lesson.  I get frustrated and they get stubborn.  No 2 son spends too much time fiddling and scratching and singing and not enough time actually doing his work and No 2 daughter spends her time telling him to be quiet or poking him.

Oh the joys of normal, happy, healthy children.

If they were at school I wouldn’t have the pleasure of seeing them succeed with their schooling or seeing them blossom from being outside, creating games and camps and cubbies.

If they were at school they wouldn’t have time to help Dad when he gets home, because of their homework.

If they were at school I wouldn’t have the pleasure of helping them through their attitudes or squabbles.

If they were at school someone else would be seeing them achieve.

Some days are hard, really hard, but the joy and pleasure and good times override the bad and makes this homeschooling experience a totally right thing.

So if you want to see your children really achieve, keep them home, release the chickens, teach them all the good things and let them play in the dirt – it is our God given responsibility.

No 2 daughter and son
No 2 daughter and son

If you are thinking of homeschooling I want to encourage you to give it a go, you won’t be sorry, you may be tired and grumpy but in the long run you will never be sorry.

Deuteronomy 6:7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way and when you lie down, and when you rise.

PS: Today was one of those hard days so I am writing this to encourage myself as much as everyone else.

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Hope In Every Season

HOSPITALITY – GIVE IT A GO

I really enjoy cooking for people, especially when they are having difficulty doing it themselves.

We seem to have quite a few people at our church who are suffering from cancer.  My heart goes out to them and their families, and my constant comment is all I can do is pray and cook.  There is nothing more we can do for our Brothers and Sisters in Christ than to care for them, our Church family really is our family.

I feel so blessed to be able to help people.  But I want to be humble with it as well and I like my husband to deliver the food, in that way he takes the praise and not me (otherwise pride can get in the way). I just want to know that the food tastes alright!!!

Sometimes I have doubts about my cooking abilities.  My family are always saying “that was great Mum”, but they love me and have to like it.  So it is hard to cook for someone, especially when you don’t know their tastes or whether they are fantastic cooks or not and whether your food will meet their standards.

I have found that none of the above matters.  All that matters is that you care and you give.  I find that when I cook for others with them in mind it all turns out well.

A point to remember is that when people aren’t feeling well they don’t feel like cooking (well I don’t anyway) so a meal will always make their day brighter.

Another thing we have noticed is the relationships that have been built when we give someone a meal.  There have been people at church that we have just not connected with and the barrier has been dissolved when they see that we care for them.  My husband always says that you get nothing out of a relationship unless you put into it.

My husband and I really want our children to understand what it is to care for people.  To know that giving is a great gift both to ourselves and others.  My No 2 son comes into the kitchen on a Friday (the day I cook) and says it that for us and when I shake my head he says oh it’s for so and so at church – my No 1 son says why do they get all the good stuff!!!  All joking aside, our children need to learn how to give and love others.

So if you have some doubts about your ability or are a little bit scared to cook for others here are a few tips that I follow.

  • Soup – soup is easy to make and teamed with some lovely bread it is a great meal.
  • Onions and celery are always my friends and are usually the first ingredients I use in a casserole.  They give any stew a great flavour base.
  • Make a tin based casserole, tuna, corn, champignons, evaporated milk.  Heat all this up, add some cheese and mix with pasta.
  • Bolognaise – every child I know loves spaghetti bolognaise.  Often I switch the spaghetti with noodles which makes it much easier to eat.
  • Muffins are great for a sweet accompaniment and once again they are easy to make (try my prize winning chocolate cake recipe if you don’t have one it’s very easy).

So if you feel there is someone at church, a neighbour or a friend who needs a hand, get out your recipe books or just make an old favourite, put on a smile and knock of their door.  I guarantee you they will appreciate it and your heart will soar.

2 Corinthians 9:7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

casserole

If you have some easy casserole ideas or something special that you make for people, please share it …

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CANNING PUMPKIN

Our pumpkins are starting to go “off” so thought I’d better get into canning them.

I have already done some with onion, bacon and chicken stock for a quick and easy pumpkin soup, but this lot I am doing just plain.  I have a great pumpkin roll with cream cheese recipe that I use the plain pumpkin for.  Will post that later…

Here’s how I can pumpkin.

First I grab a nice big pumpkin (my options are small due to pumpkins going off).  Preheat your preserving jars – I do this by filling with hot water.

The pumpkin
The pumpkin

Then I grab a sharp knife and cut it up into cubes (or any other interesting shape that comes).

Pumpkin ready to can
Pumpkin ready to can

Fill your jars with the pumpkin and top up with boiling water.  At this stage I wiggle the handle end of a wooden spoon in the jar to release the air bubbles.  I then place the lid and clips on.

In jars ready to go
Jars ready to go

Then I place the jars in the canner (I have already put the required amount of boiling water in the canner).

Jars in the canner
Jars in the canner

Then can as per usual method.

Canner on the stove
Canner on the stove

I take the jars I use to be about a quart so I put my pumpkin on for 90 minutes.

The finished product
The finished product

Take the clips of the jars and store. (I leave mine overnight and then remove the clips)

PS: I use Fowlers preserving bottles and screw top jars.  I like the Fowlers bottles because I have heaps and it was a bit too expensive to buy mason jars.

PPS: I don’t precook my pumpkin, it goes in the jars raw.

 

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