I officially ended the 2019 canning season at the beginning of December. My goal was to can 150 jars (quarts, pints or jelly jars) this year and I ended up canning a total of 308 jars!
The pantry is full of foods for the winter and early spring while we’re waiting for the garden to begin producing again. I learned a lot about canning and am looking forward to canning in 2020!
We’re loving the cozy evenings around the wood stove. This evening, Paxton was was grandparents and John David was working late so the rest of us ate our chicken and rice soup in the living room beside the stove.
Making cheese. We’ve been making all of our cheese – we haven’t purchased cheese in weeks. We haven’t started making hard cheeses like cheddar yet but we’re using soft cheeses in place of cheddar right now. This cheese pictured is an easy farmers cheese that I just love – especially when it’s warm.
Making cheese is almost magical – add vinegar to warm milk, stir it in and then all of the sudden the curds have separated and you have cheese and a pot of whey.
My sweet little loves. This was our Christmas picture this year.
This is what milking on Sunday mornings looks like for me. I wake early, milk then dash inside to shower, get the kids up and get their breakfast ready. Then I head back down to pour up milk and wash up the milking equipment and then come back inside to dry hair, get myself dressed and Laura dressed and make sure the big kids are ready to go. Whew.
Laura wearing a sweet little Christmas dress that belonged to her Aunt Jill.
I enjoy snuggling up with a good book. Radical Homemakers did not disappoint – I highly recommend this book! Such a thought provoking read.
Laura is such a helper. This day we were picking up sticks and other brush all around the property to burn in our fire pit to clean up and enjoy a little fire.
This gal loves ferments and pickled foods. She’s gobbling up sauerkraut and had been eating pickled okra.
I rendered tallow for the first time and made tallow candles and tallow soaps. It was easy to work with – no bad smells from rendering at all! The tallow candles are lovely and burn nicely without bad odors and the tallow soap is so soft.
With my love at his work Christmas party. We rarely take pictures together so this one is a treasure.
What my sink looks like most days now that we’re milking – there’s always several jars to wash! This particular day we amassed all these jars after feeding the calf, skimming cream and making cheese.
Sunday afternoon naps for these two.
Weston turned 8 on December 22!
It was another birthday to remember – he woke up during the night throwing up. Thankfully that didn’t continue all day but it’s no fun to throw up on your birthday and we had to miss church too. And, then his lemon birthday cake was in the oven after it had been iced and decorated and the oven was turned out. So, candle wax was all over it.
I managed to salvage most of it and it tasted very good but he was a little bummed especially since I didn’t have eight candles. We improvised with a number 5, 2 and a single candle because 5+2+ 1 single candle = 8!
Christmas morning with my sweet little ones. Christmas morning is magical with children. We keep our Christmases simple with just a few gifts but they still are so excited and thankful. Here they are each opening their art boxes – they each had a pad of paper, a notebook, color pencils and markers.
The boys received a few small Lego sets, they all received books and card games and the girls received baby dolls from us this year.
Cecilia and Laura with their Bitty Babies.
The girls just wanted baby dolls for Christmas this year – they’re both such little mamas! Bitty Baby dolls are high quality, beautiful baby dolls but with a $60 price tag, they’re way out of our price range. I’m so thankful for the second hand market! I was able to purchase 3 dolls (one of Laura’s is not pictured) for way less than the $60 price tag of a brand new one!
Some may say it’s tacky to give secondhand items as gifts. For us, secondhand means we’re able to stretch our money even farther and the items we consume have a smaller environmental impact. (I should write another post on this…)
We ended the month – and the year – with chickens laying again!! We’ve been rationing eggs lately because we didn’t put any artificial lights on them this year – just letting them rest as nature intends.
We’re all excited to not have to ration eggs – fried eggs make such an easy breakfast! And, Weston is excited to get his egg business going again.
We’re looking forward to what 2020 holds here on the homestead.