Purslane Family Farm

God. Family. Farming. Food. Fun.

Wood Burning

Wood Burner    We only heat our home with a wood burning stove. I love the independence it affords and the cheaper electric bills. It is a lot more physical work than just turning up the thermostat, but physical work provides exercise and satisfaction from a job well-done. This will be the fourth year of heating this way, and every year around this time we start to wonder how much longer we’ll be burning. I thought this would be a great place to keep record of that.

This has been a particularly harsh winter. We’ve gone through most of our firewood so this summer will be spent harvesting a new supply. Just this week it looks like the weather is going to finally warm up a little. Up until now we’ve only had a handful of days above 60 degrees so we’ve still been burning all day & night. It looks like most of this week we’ll be able to just burn for a short time each day to knock off the chill, but the sun and warm temperatures should warm the house during the day. Praise God!

Comments Off

Making butter

Usually we use up all of our cream in our morning coffee, but this week we actually had about 2 quarts left over (I still haven’t figured out how that happened). The best use for leftover cream is butter of course.

Jars of fresh cream

Jars of fresh cream

I’ve been using my blender to make butter, but I think this is pretty hard on it. Once we get a cow of our own I’d like to look into buying a nice butter churn.

Cream in the blender.

Cream in the blender.

After a few minutes you end up with whipped cream.

Whipped cream.

Whipped cream.

Wait a few more minutes and the solids will separate. You’re left with fresh buttermilk and butter.

Butter in buttermilk.

Butter in buttermilk.

I strain this into a bowl. The leftover buttermilk will be given to the chickens, although you can also drink it or use it in baked goods.

Draining butter.

Draining butter.

Buttermilk for the chickens.

Buttermilk for the chickens.

After draining it is then washed with ice water until the water is fairly clear. We go through butter quickly around here so I don’t worry too much about washing out all the buttermilk.

Use very cold water while washing your butter.

Use very cold water while washing your butter.

Lastly, I add some salt to taste, measure it out in half-cup servings, and roll it in wax paper.

Finished product. Yummy!

Finished product. Yummy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments Off

2012-13 Homeschool Plans

Due to the addition to our family we are getting a late start on school this year. My plan is to start next week, and we’re going to begin slowly. Math and grammar will be our initial focus for the oldest child (second grade), and then we’ll slowly add in other subjects as I feel we can handle them.

Second Grader

We are still using Saxon Math 2, and are on Lesson 61. There are 132 lessons in the book so that means that we have 71 lessons left which is a little over 14 weeks of lessons. That will take us to around the end of January. Then we will start Saxon 3.

For grammar we are using Shurley English level 1, and we’ll be starting back-up with chapter 12 lesson 1. There are 28 chapters, each with 5 lessons. So with 16 chapters left that will take us to the beginning of February, and then we will start Shurley level 2.

Our bible studies will include all 5 children. We will be using the Veritas bible cards for Genesis through Joshua; The Westminster Shorter Catechism Songs (some of the children will still be working on the Children’s Catechism); Greenleaf Guide to OT History; Journey Through the Bible; & the Student Bible Atlas.

We will be using the Veritas Press Old Testament and Ancient Egypt History Series at home for History. This will include the flashcards and all that comes with them, The Ancient Egyptians, A Child’s History of the World, & The Kingfisher Atlas of the Ancient World. I’m not very familiar with this series but I understand that the bible flash cards go along with the history flash cards to teach the children (& myself) the chronological order of biblical & historical events. I will have all of the children participate in this as well.

For Latin we will be continuing in the Song School Latin book and adding in Prima Latina.

Literature will include all of the second level 2 & 3 books out of the Veritas catalogue. Some of them will be read by my son, & some I will use for our read aloud time. We’re going to start out with the Adventures of the Northwoods Series. I’m hoping that most of these books will be available at our local library.

We will be using Excellence in Spelling: The Phonetic Zoo for Linguistics. The price tag is kind of steep on this so I’m hoping that it’s worth it.

If the children are interested in Art we do own the Drawing with Children book. For Music I will try to keep a steady stream of classical music CDs from the library in the house to expose the children to the classical composers. I might also get a few books from the library about various composers. We are also considering teaching our kindergartener piano. I have some piano knowledge but I would like to find someone to teach her.

Kindergartener

We own the Rod & Staff kindergarten workbooks so she will continue with those. We’ll also be working on her alphabet recognition, maybe some phonics, and some memorization (scripture, catechism, poems, etc.).

Preschooler

We also own the Rod & Staff 3-4 year old preschool workbooks so the preschooler will be working on those. I think that he’s also ready for alphabet recognition, phonics, and memorization as well. We are thinking about schooling the “kindergartener” and “preschooler” together.  I’ll assess how things go over the next few months before making that determination.

Toddler & Baby

These guys will just be present for some of the lessons & will pick up on things that are interesting to them. I plan on doing lots of read alouds (we’ll be making frequent trips to the library) and we have plenty of educational toys around for them to occupy themselves.

I would like to work on basic skills with all of the children. Things like laundry and cooking skills.

Comments Off

Our diet changes

I decided that on May 8 we would transition to a Paleo diet cold turkey. It went okay for about a week, and then we started going downhill. We are still eating fairly well, but we’ve cheated several times. I think that for us it will be easier to make the change slowly. For now I’m going to concentrate on cutting out the gluten. We will still have plenty to choose from, although I won’t be buying any of those gluten-free  baking mixes or treats. I will still try to make treats from scratch. So that’s the plan for now. I figure that by getting all stressed out about our diet I’m doing myself more harm than good. I’m responsible for feeding 6 people and I need to take their needs and wants into consideration when I make these huge changes to our diet. I’m still reading a lot of paleo blogs and books,  just trying to understand more about the diet and keep myself motivated. Now, if I can just find an exercise plan that would work for me…

Comments Off

Spring Days

We have stayed pretty busy around here. There were some trips that happened. Most notably we enjoyed a weekend at Patoka Lake to celebrate Alex’s birthday with some of the family. We stayed in a cozy little cabin for 2 nights,  rode a train on the scenic railway in French Lick, and went for a tour of Marengo Cave. The kids got to enjoy some quality time with their cousins, and everyone had fun!

The chickens are growing like weeds. It’s amazing how quickly they change. I keep trying to discern who’s a rooster and who’s a hen. I’ve determined that we have at least 1 rooster (out of 50). Unfortunately we’ve lost a few older chickens to the neighborhood fox. The chickens will fly over the fence very early in the morning, when the sun is still rising, and the little vixen will grab them. It’s been frustrating to keep finding random piles of feathers. When we catch her out in the yard we quickly run out there to chase her off.

We finally got our garden started over the weekend. Twenty-three tomato plants. That’s quite a few for a family that doesn’t much care for tomatoes. Lord willing, there will be lots of sauces and salsas. Around 10 pepper plants of various varieties, 4 yellow squash plants,  4 melon plants, 2 rows of sweet corn, and 1 row of popcorn. I still want to get in green beans, cucumbers, and more melons. I have so many seeds to plant , but I’ve reached the point in my pregnancy when I do have some limitations, mostly exhaustion, and I know it will only get worse in the upcoming months. Andy has actually done most of the work, and I’m so grateful for that!

That’s about it. On Thurs. I will post a pregnancy update, and I plan on posting an update on our switch to a lacto-paleo diet in the upcoming week. Hopefully I will also get better at photographing happenings around here and getting those posted on the blog. Lots of goals as I figure out how to juggle everything, and learn how to use WordPress.

Comments Off

Book: The Urban Farm Handbook

We just returned from an extended weekend trip. How lovely it was! The children’s grandparents kept them for the weekend while Andy & I went to Nashville, IN and Bloomington, IN. We had a reception to attend Saturday evening, but the rest of the time we had to ourselves. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Janko’s Little Zagreb in Bloomington on Friday evening, walked around the Indiana University campus, and did some relaxing. The weather was a little rough so we didn’t get to spend as much time outside as we had hoped, but that’s okay. Friday night we stayed at the Brown County Inn. I made a mistake in booking that room… I though that it was in Brown County State Park. It was actually in Nashville. The price was too steep for the quality of the room and the walls were paper thin… we could hear everything in the hallway and in the room next door. So on Saturday night we stayed at the Artist’s Colony Inn in Nashville. It was much nicer… clean room, nice staff, very quiet, and our stay included a breakfast buffet in their restaurant. We had a great time, but it was so wonderful to see the kids when we returned and get back to normal today.

Today I just wanted to write a quick review of The Urban Farm Handbook. I heard about this book from the GNOWFGLINS blog, and checked it out from the library. I got sidetracked with Paleo information while having this book so I didn’t get to read it cover to cover. But after browsing through it I’ve decided that it’s one I would like to add to my personal library. It isn’t just for the urban farmer. There are great tips in there for getting started eating healthy and local if you live in the city, but there are also more extensive tips if you want to implement these practices yourself. There was a small section on beekeeping that I would like to explore more thoroughly. Great recipes including those for bacon, ham, sausage. Lots of information on canning, including fermentation. The list goes on. Unfortunately, the book is in high demand so I have to return in to the library, but it’s already been added to my Amazon wish list.

Comments Off

21 Weeks

Wow! Is that correct?? It’s hard to believe that I’m already over halfway there. Or if this pregnancy goes like my others I’m probably not even halfway (sigh).

I’m feeling pretty great. I think that my diet change has helped with fatigue. I’m trying to take my daily supplements, eat healthy, and get around 7-8 hours of sleep per night. I do still get a little exhausted, but that’s to be expected with 4 little ones running around. I’ve still been doing a lot of research on the Paleo diet and pregnancy. There’s not a whole lot of information out there, but what I’ve found makes it sound safe. Robb Wolf (The Paleo Solution) recommends adding in extra carbs and fat during pregnancy. So I haven’t been stressing about eating extra fruit.

My exercise has definitely been lacking. I’m hoping to get back on track with walking and squats this week (along with the dreaded Kegel’s, I don’t know why I hat those things so much!). The lack of exercise might be why I’ve already gained 16 pounds. Ugh. Oh well, I tend to really pack on the weight but luckily it comes off fairly easily after the birth.

Baby’s really starting to move around a lot now too. I think that has to be the most exciting sensation ever… feeling life inside of you. I had my drink glass resting on my tummy this morning & got a kick hard enough to move the glass. Wow!

20120419-151046.jpg

Comments Off

2012 Plans for the Farm

Our 2012 plans are a bit different than they were in 2011. I had huge plans last year. They included chickens, pigs, turkeys, guineas, bees, & a dairy cow. Some of those came to fruition & some did not.

This year we’re going to take it easy. Our chickens from last year total about 15. Around 10 of those are 2 years old so in the fall they will serve as our stew chickens for the winter. It will be hard to part with them, as I know each one of them, but such is the life on a farm. The other 5 will stay around another year. We still have 1 guinea hen, who at this point is just a noisy pet (although she does give us 1 small egg per day). Four turkeys remain, 2 hens & 2 toms. They’ll stick around for now. I unsuccessfully tried to incubate around 20 eggs. Not a 1 was fertilized. I do believe that 1 of the toms will grace our Thanksgiving table this November. We also have the 51 Araucana & Silver-Laced Wyandotte chicks. All of the cocks will feed our bellies this winter, & the hens will start producing eggs around August.

We are considering not raising pigs this year. Partly because I haven’t heard back from my Gloucestershire Old Spot source, & partly because we’re thinking of investing the money in some other areas. We still don’t have a fence or barn, & we would really like to get those things taken care of so that we can add a dairy cow to the mix. Our freezer will be pretty full of meat after next week (more on that to come) so we should be okay skipping the pigs this year, & possibly finding a local source for bacon & sausage after ours runs out. I can’t survive without those!

Lord willing, we will also be planting a fairly large garden to provide all of our summer vegetables, & hopefully will be able to preserve some also. We just need someone to come do some tilling for us. Although the gardening will be tough with my ever expanding belly, & a little one due at just the time when I need to be canning all those tomatoes! If it’s meant to be then the Lord will help me find a way.

Our honeybees died over the winter. I’m hoping that Alex & I can take a beekeeping course next spring & then we can add those back into the mix. I was just too scared of them last year.

So, that’s it. Much smaller plans but maybe much more doable. I’m still very excited about all that we have going on here, & everything that we have to look forward to!

Comments Off

Saturday Pictures

20120414-144545.jpg

Egg Laying

 

20120414-144601.jpg

5-week old chicks

 

20120414-144625.jpg

Rock Wall climbing

 

20120414-144613.jpg

Comments Off

Garden Seeds

I am so excited about gardening this year! I’m not sure what I’ll be able to get done since we’re expecting a little one in August or September, but right now I am ready to start planting some seeds. Even though I have lots of seeds from years past I still ordered a good amount this year. All of my seeds have been purchased from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. To help me stay more organized I am making a list of all of the seeds that I have on hand, and I’ve alphabetized my stash.

  • Beans: Purple, Dragon Tongue, Blue Lake
  • Beets: Choiggia, Bull’s Blood, Detroit Dark Red
  • Broccoli: Romanesco Italia, Waltham
  • Cabbage: Brunswick
  • Carrots: Parisienne, Little Finger, Amarillo, Danvers
  • Cauliflower: Snowball, Giant of Naples
  • Corn: Country Gentleman (Sweet), Dakota Black (Pop), Pencil Cob (Dent), Rainbow Inca (Sweet)
  • Cucumbers: Long Anglais, Lemon, Parisian Pickling, Mexican Sour Gherkin, Japanese Long, Snow’s Pickling
  • Kale: Ornamental Fringed, Russian Red
  • Lettuce: Arugula, Romaine, Little Gem
  • Melon: Moon & Stars, Tigger, Anne Arundel, Wilson Sweet
  • Okra: Harlow’s Homestead, Burgundy
  • Onions: Leeks, Jaune Paille des Vertus
  • Peas: Lincoln, Blue Podded, Laxton’s Progress, Little Marvel
  • Radish: Pink Beauty
  • Spinach
  • Squash: Rouge Vif D’Etampes (Winter), Buttercup (Winter), Straightneck (Summer), Lady Godiva (Winter), Early Golden (Summer), Striata D’Italia (Summer), Acorn (Winter), Pie Pumpkin (Winter), Pumpkin Mix (Ornamental)
  • Swiss Chard: Flamingo Pick, Five Color
  • Tomato: Amish Paste, Chadwick Cherry, Creme Brulee
  • Turnip

Lots & lots of seeds. Hopefully we’ll have our garden tilled soon and we can start putting some of these seeds in the ground. Our garden will be placed where our chickens have been the past two years. We’re thinking that should be some nice fertile soil!

Comments Off