Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Fletcher at 6 Years

Yesterday was Fletcher's birthday.
 He officially turned 6 years old, which is almost unbelievable to me. So much has happened over the last 6 years.
6 years ago we were still mourning the death of my dad, who had died 5 days previously, and yet we were also celebrating life with the birth of Fletcher.

This year we are just a couple of weeks away from celebrating another baby. My dad would have loved being here for all of the excitement.

Because of Devin's ER schedule, we celebrated Fletchers birthday a week ago with a family trip to the local jump park.

The entire family loves the jump park, and on Monday evenings they offer a family special. The entire family gets in for a grand total of $35. I missed being able to jump with everyone, but enjoyed watching from the sidelines.

After jumping we grabbed a few pizzas and an ice cream cake and came home to open gifts.
Fletcher loves Blues Clues so Willow crafted a "notebook" for him. She did a great job and it has actually been his most favorite gift. Hand made wins every time.

He was also gifted lots of play dough, and who doesn't love that stuff? The boys have played with it every day and I have swept the floor of dried play dough every evening.

 When we were at the beach and celebrated Zeb's birthday I discovered that Publix had some nice ice-cream cakes. The oreo one is a favorite, so that is what we had for Fletcher too.

It was a simple celebration. It was a family birthday party. It was perfect.

Happy birthday Fletcher Pike!

Today will be a busy day with school and a mid wife appointment. I am hoping Devin and I can squeeze a movie in this evening too. The Magnificent Seven is out and I really would love to see it!

Happy Wednesday Ya'll!!

Thursday, September 22, 2016


Bugs! It's all about bugs with this kid.
When I started combing through books for the school year I knew I wanted to include some sort of junior entomology curriculum.
That was a long and fruitless search.

Most of what I found was geared for very young students and comprised of a coloring page and a chart of butterfly metamorphosis. This kid is ready for more.

I ended up buying an entomology intro book, several color books, a thick insect identifying book, and  a box of file folders to create lap books.
I spent an entire day taking notes from reading the entomology books and created a list of general bug knowledge and specific bugs, along with their traits.

I also decided to include Rose and Fletcher, so that the three youngest all have some insect knowledge.

Lap books, if you are new to them, are a way to create an individual book on a topic. It gives kids a chance to cut and paste and create. This first book covered the topic of entomology and what it includes.

Next week, we will move on to specific insects, and they will each get their own lap book.

I also decided that some insects are worthy of several weeks of study. Honey bees will be studied in more depth this spring, and I plan to order a couple of bee packages. I have the bee suits for kids, so the boys can help install the bees into new hives.

To go along with the new apiary we will set up, I ordered several blueberry bushes. The biggest struggle with bushes here are the cows. Cows love blueberry bushes. Devin spent a full day getting me an area prepped and the bushes planted and mulched. Later next month he will add some fencing around the entire area to keep my ladies out. He will also add space for bee hives in the spring.

I also decided to dust off an old and empty worm farm. I have worms on order and plan to let the children get the farm up and running. They can learn about composting with worms and by spring they will have ample bait for some fishing in the back yard creek.

Zeb has been busy collecting caterpillars and watching them transform into beautiful butterflies. There is no shortage of the critters around here lately.
He has been able to look them all up in his identifier book and then turn them free.
So the learning has come natural for him and I am simply trying to fill in some details.

3 more weeks until this new baby should makes his entrance. I have been trying my best to organize the house and yet relax too. Sleep has been difficult at night and afternoon naps have become necessary. I can live with that.

Today is the first day of autumn, although the 90 degree temp outside says summer is still very much here.

We have not been swimming quite as much, but we do still find some time to cool off. Journee's pup Kid enjoys the water very much and it helps to burn some of her high energy.

Here's wishing everyone a fun and productive week!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Greener Grass

I have found Fridays to be my one day to sit and enjoy the morning. Because of the many projects I am wrapping up before starting school and having this baby, I have been extremely busy.

One major project I started was to write up a junior entomology curriculum for the younger kids. I searched high and low for a bug program for the boys to no avail. Everything was geared for much younger kids, and Zeb is especially ready for something with more detail. I will post an update once I am finished.

                        ****One of many bugs Zeb has found around the farm and admired****

This was also a summer of no rain. It was very dry and hot until late July. We finally started getting some rain and the grass finally decided to grow.

In fact, it was too dry for a cutting of hay in June, but we should get a good cutting in a week or so. This should, along with all of the pastures, give us enough food for the cattle this winter.

A couple of days ago we moved all of the cows into the yard around the house.

                                   ****Valentine and Molly****

No fancy landscaping over here. I use cows to mow the lawn and I honestly do not care if they munch on bushes.
Not to offend anyone with beautifully landscaped yards, but I truly find more peace in watching my cows graze the yard. Grass based farming has so many advantages and we are blessed to have the ability to farm in this manner. Thank you Joel Salatin for all of the inspiration!

                       ****Baby Chance, who is not so much a baby any longer****

They were very excited to move to fresh grass and spent a good part of the moment jumping and bucking their way across the yard. We will let them graze a few days before moving them again.

Journee's elderly goat has spent each morning, now that they are cooler, basking in the morning sun on the drive. I have washed the drive twice this week of goat droppings, but it is a lost battle.

                   ***Brownie. One of the steers ready to process this fall***

Our next big project is too get a blueberry orchard planted. This would be an easy task, except we must fence the orchard to keep the cows from chewing down the bushes. Devin will be better able to tackle the project once Dragon Con is over.

We spent a good deal of time Tuesday sewing the finishing touches on some cosplay costumes for the Dragon Con event. I know it will be  great time for everyone attending.

Moving the cows, cutting hay and prepping school supplies must mean one thing: Fall is almost here.

It's time to soak up these last few days of summer and that is exactly what I plan to do this weekend.

Happy Friday Ya'll!!!


Friday, August 19, 2016

Summer of Birthdays

It was a summer of birthdays.

Willow celebrated her 14th birthday in June. She loves to celebrate at the lake, so a lake gathering is what we do.
Willow loves having her best friends and siblings at the lake. We always pull out the jet skis, and all of my kids LOVE jet skis!

My ever loving bug boy always seems to find a new critter to hold and examine.

Fletcher loves playing in the wet clay/ common here in the South.

We also had a new calf born near the end of June.

We came home from a family dinner to find that Penny had calved while we were gone. She had a healthy bull calf that is half Jersey and half Swedish Red.

I usually band my boys into steers and raise them for beef, but I decided to raise this guy for a bull. I will need a bull next year to breed many girls.  Indiana has named him Kai. Here's to a new farm adventure.

Finally, while we were in Florida, we celebrated Zeb's 7th birthday. Actually we celebrated his birthday and a friend's birthday, who came to the beach with us.

Of course Zeb got more items for his constant bug collecting.

We bought a couple of ice cream cakes from a local grocery and ordered pizza for dinner.

The next day Zeb bought a hermit crab with his birthday money. I am happy to announce that his little crab, named Happy, made the trip home and is living happily in an aquarium habitat.
Zeb likes that he now owns two pets. He got a leopard gecko for his 5th birthday and that little guy is still doing great.

It has been a summer of birthdays. It has been a summer of family gatherings and friends hanging out.

We still have a few weeks of summer left, no school here until after Labor Day.

This weekend I plan to work on some sewing projects and finish getting some school stuff organized. I will update next week on my new curriculum.

Happy Friday Ya'll!!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

We Stormed the Coast

Sometimes you just need to unplug, unwind and revamp. 

A beach vacation usually helps.

Last week we stormed the beaches of Florida.

This last month has been all about me trying to make sure I am resting my feet, enjoying this pregnancy and getting life organized and prepped for a new baby.

We also took a week trip to the Gulf Coast. Sandcastles and sea shells were the top priority for 6 days.

Journee, ever the homeschool student, bought a couple of books to bring along that helped us identify the many sea critters and shells we collected. Of course the live critters were tossed back to sea once we had identified them.

We rented a townhouse that slept 14 people, so we brought along a couple of family friends to enjoy the week. We cooked most of our meals, took afternoon naps and played board and card games late at night.

The area we stayed was not crowded at all, so we were able to really swim and sprawl out on the sand.

Here are a few of the water critters we caught and identified. It was very exciting for the kids to experience the salt, the sand, and the marine life.

Of course we had to venture out in the evening to catch sand crabs and walk along the shore.

So now that we are back home, I am getting school work organized and some sewing projects finished. Lots has happened here over the last month, but I will get everything posted and updated.

We really needed a summer break and thanks to a fabulous teen, who can milk cows, we escaped for a fun 6 days.

I hope everyone is having a fabulous summer. I leave with a few more pictures from the coast.

Happy Sunday Ya'll!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Kid Ears

 Journee finally, after many weeks of waiting, got her German Shepherd baby.

She arrived at 8 weeks old and was quick to learn some basic commands. Journee paid high dollar for this dog's pedigree and breeding. She came from a local breeder and has so far been a wonderful pup.

Journee named her Kid and plans to use her to train for K-9 Search and Rescue, something she has always wanted to do and has researched extensively.

Because she is still so young, she isn't able to handle or process intensive training, but she has learned basic commands and loves to play a game Journee calls "Hide and Seek." Basically someone holds Kid while Journee runs away and hides. Once Kid is let go, she is commanded to "find."  She finds Journee every single time. It's amazing.

Journee must also go through some training and exams for this type of work, and last weekend she took an intensive field navigation class near Atlanta.
She is managing nursing school, work and her dog. Lots of work for her and she is never bored.

Of course we get to babysit when she is at school and work. The pup has bonded well with all of us and is super friendly.

Those ears? Oh yes, she has the best ears.

I can't wait to see where this adventures leads these two.

Happy Tuesday Ya'll!

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