February 2020

First daffodil of the season was picked by Weston on February 7th! Daffodils are my favorite and Weston knows it!

We woke to a surprise snow on February 8! Everyone was so excited and it was beautiful!!


John David is mastering the art of making mozzarella.

We harvested another pig and experimented by canning sausage. It was a success!

We participated in our very first seed swap! It was a fun thing to do and we ended up with so many seeds and several new to us seeds. I’m most excited about growing luffa this year.

Organizing my seeds. Spring is so close!












January 2020

I always enjoy the month of January – it’s a fresh start after the festivities of Christmastime, a time to set goals/objectives for the new year and enjoy the cozy long evenings.

We started this January with a pantry challenge. With the exception of a bag of tortilla chips, maple syrup and peanut butter, we didn’t buy groceries for a solid 3.5 weeks. We could have gone longer but our Azure Standard order came in on January 27th with fresh apples and we ended the challenge then.

It was a success in that we tried some new foods – like Bulgar porridge from Bulgar that had been sitting in the pantry for months, used some things that needed to be used up and got the pantries/freezers more organized. Since I didn’t buy groceries for the first part of the month, we were able to pay for our Azure order and still had grocery money left at the end of the month. I’m confident we could have lasted the entire month of January and still ate delicious, healthy meals from what we’ve preserved over the past year.

Since it’s January, I thought it was the perfect time to get started on Cecilia’s quilt. I’ve wanted to make her a quilt for a while now and had started cutting out squares from fabrics we had on hand, a few my mom had given us and some from a bag of fabric scraps I picked up at a yard sale a few months ago for $2. These patches were cut entirely from ‘scraps’ – I did not purchase any new fabrics to start this quilt.

I was hoping she’d want to help me sew it but she hasn’t been too interested – it is a time consuming task. She has been excited to watch the progress though! Here she is snuggling with the quilt top when it was about half finished.

We were blessed with mason jars this month. A couple from John David’s parents small group sent us a tote filled mostly with regular mouth quarts, a few pints and jelly jars and a friend at church gave me a box of jars! I’m so thankful for jars – I’m looking forward to filling these up with goodies from our garden this summer.

Our chickens are laying again. My chickens are laying and so are the boys’ chickens! It’s been fun not having to ration eggs.

Paxton enjoys a game of chess – here he is teaching and playing with his daddy. He decided he wanted to learn to play, purchased this book with a small set attached and has been explaining the game and coaching us all as we play with him. I enjoy it but there are lots of rules that I can’t keep straight on my own!

Baby Bright is growing well and looking more like a little beef calf than a Jersey cross. It’s fun watching him grow.

We’ve been reading through the Little House series this school year. It was fitting that it was time to read The Long Winter in January, especially since we were reading it when we had a few days of a cold snap. It was about 18 degrees a few nights – frigid to these southerners! We can’t even begin to fathom the coldness that the Ingalls experienced during the long winter – I’ve never even seen a negative temperature in my lifetime.

Two of the nights that the low was 18, we let the children sleep in the living room. Paxton slept on the couch and the other 3 slept on two crib mattresses pushed together. They loved sleeping in front of the wood stove and they were cozy nights reading The Long Winter all snuggled up in the living room.

One morning, I felt like I had a bit of a cold coming on and stayed in bed to rest. Paxton and Cecilia made me breakfast in bed. A fried egg, toast, lemon tea and garnished with a pink flower Cecilia found outside. It’s amazing having children who can cook and care enough to take care of their mama. Thankfully the rest coupled with my good breakfast helped me fight off whatever it was and I was fine by noon.

On January 25th, I attended a Homeopathy Workshop all day. It was so good. I purchased a small kit of remedies that we’ve already began using. I still have so much to learn but I’m excited about learning more about caring for my family with homeopathy.

Our friends, the Honeycutts, parked their RV here on the homestead the last week of January. It was fun having ‘neighbors’ here for several days. Our kiddos played outside together nearly all day long all week. It was fun watching all of them play together – free play outside is the best play. They left on the 30th to set out on their travel adventures – follow them on Instagram – @thehoneycuttcrew.

I canned 6 quarts of applesauce from the apples from our Azure order we received on the 27th just so we’d have a few more in the pantry and so the rest of the apples could all fit in the fridge!

January was a good month and we’re looking forward to February and starting to prep for spring – garden planning, plans to purchase chicks, working more outside and looking forward to warmer days!


December 2019

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 Eve.

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.


November 2019

My little kitchen helper. This girl loves helping me cook.

Sipping hot tea with my girl.

We recently moved Cecilia out of her toddler bed and into a twin so the toddler bed is currently in our room where Laura’s crib was. It’s nice to have as an extra nap/rest spot or for sick kiddos to sleep in when they want to be close to us. Steel has claimed this cozy little spot as her own!

Making fresh butter from our cream. So, so good!

It’s so fun to have a fridge full of milk – fresh milk, cream, butter, cheeses and yogurt from this goodness!!

The continual state of the kitchen these days – except there are typically at least 2 or 3 half gallon mason jars in the sink or on the counter too!

Weston shot his first deer of the season on November 16th. He was just tickled!

Paxton successfully shot his first game the same day – he got a squirrel!

These two guarding the homestead. When we go check the mail which is outside of our perimeter fencing, Copper (and sometimes Steel) posts herself right here and keeps an eye on us.

All the animals love Laura.

My sweet little garden helper. We’ve been working on clearing out the garden beds – we’ve finished the lower garden but have work to do in the upper garden still.

I found this cute vintage-y metal basket at a local consignment sale and it’s been just perfect for toting milk jars.

Our November Azure order. Apples, potatoes, carrots (lots of carrots – didn’t realize 25 pounds was quite so much!), corn seeds, dishwasher and dish soap.

We have lots of carrots but we also have lots of little mouths to eat the carrots. Laura ate one right away!

I stopped in my favorite local thrift store and found a box of 12 half gallon mason jars complete with a box lids and bands that had never been opened for $5!! Such a fun find and we needed more half gallon jars for milk.

We’ve been reading the Little House on the Prairie book series this fall as part of our school work and all of the children love the books. My mom made both girls adorable pioneer dresses! Cecilia loves her and has already worn it several times. Laura wouldn’t pose for a picture but she is adorable in her little red dress.

Happy Thanksgiving!  We didn’t raise a turkey this year for our feast (hopefully next year!) so we had a roasted chicken that we raised and beef wellington with beef from a local farm.

Thanksgiving feast – beef wellington, roasted chicken, green beans (raised and canned here), homemade dressing using my grandma’s recipe, mashed potatoes (from potatoes raised here, cream and butter from our cow) and homemade cranberry sauce.

I’ve signed up for my very first seed swap and I’m excited! It’s the Save Love Seed Swap and it’s a Valentine’s themed swap. My seed packs are little valentines. The packet contains seeds and a little insert telling what type of seed it is an some basic instructions.

Play imitates life for children and these two have stocked their kitchen larder with home canned goodness. I love watching them play and imagine.

I love how their play kitchen looks with all the canned foods lined up on their shelves.

We ended the month of November making candles. The one on the far left is a beeswax candle made from combining two spent beeswax candles together and the other three are tallow candles.

November was a lovely month and we’re all looking forward to December and the Christmas season!

October 2019

Okra, okra, okra. We’ve enjoyed our okra well into October.

Sweet Laura ready for church. She’s wearing her new backpack I picked up for her at a yardsale. It was $2 well spent!

Apples! I ordered a few cases of apples from Azure Standard and have canned a lot of applesauce and experimented with canned apples too. Looking forward to enjoying this applesauce – especially on sourdough pancakes this winter.

Laura loves helping her daddy care for Buttercup. She goes out with him every morning to help him feed her, brush her and help her get used to being in her head gate to prepare for milking.

On October 14th, our family and John David’s mom took a day trip to The Foxfire Museum in Rabun County, Georgia. We enjoyed a lovely drive and really enjoyed touring the museum. There was a sweet lady there who was a weaver. She gave us a wonderful weaving demonstration as well as showed us how to card and spin wool.

We ate a picnic lunch on Foxfire grounds and then travelled back to Blue Ridge and went to Mercier Orchards for some apple treats and apples.

October 16th garden harvest. It’s still such fun finding all of these treasures in the garden. I’m going to miss this so much once it frosts.

Weston with our barn cat. He was pretty feral when he arrived but with Weston’s regular visits and animal whispering skills, he’s getting less wild and is even allowing us to touch him.

Fair time!!

We entered several items into our local fair this year including baked goods, craft items, art and produce.

Weston placed first with his homemade bread.

Paxton’s biscuits placed first!

Cecilia absolutely swept the Primary Baking! She placed first with her biscuits, muffins, corn muffins, bread and cookies. She was excited.

I was tickled that my biscuits placed first!

With my first place fair biscuits!

My green beans also placed first! There were several green bean entries and I was excited to see the blue ribbon for these.

Laura loves helping in the barn with daddy – she even helps with some of the dirty work.

Serious little girl picking okra with her daddy. He took this picture – he said she was munching on an okra pod and telling him a big story.

On October 30th, Buttercup had her calf! It’s a boy! It was such an exciting moment to see a baby calf just after he was born.

Sweet baby calf. We haven’t named him just yet but he’s adorable.

John David milking for the first time. We’re looking forward to fresh milk, yogurt, butter, cheese, cream and all the  yummy things that an abundance of milk means.

We don’t make a big deal out of Halloween but the kids do enjoy dressing up. They attended a trunk or treat at a local church and at their Mimi’s school and had a party with the sweet sitters and kids who attend childcare with them when I’m at my small group Bible study.

This year we didn’t buy any costumes, they used what they already had.  Cecilia was Elsa (in her well loved, tattered dress), Paxton was an ESPN sports analyst, Weston was a cowboy sheriff and Laura was Cinderella.

I love them and the simple joys of childhood.

September 2019

We bought a cow!!!!!

On September 3, we traveled to Middle Tennessee to pick up a beautiful jersey cow. She’s 5 years old, is bred and expected to calve sometime in October. We have named her Buttercup.

Sweet Laura spending time with the goats and sheep.

The first weekend in September, we took a little road trip to visit my parents at their property where they are building a house. We took some back roads to get there, driving through the town we lived in when Paxton was born and then went to Shaffer’s Farm Meat and Texas Barbeque for lunch. This was John David’s favorite place to eat when we lived in the area – they have amazing brisket. The kids all enjoyed their barbeque and eating in a restaurant (a rare treat for our family these days!)

We enjoyed our visit with our family – my parents and sister and her family were there with us Friday evening. Then my aunt drove up with my grandma and cousin’s daughter. We had a nice day visiting and enjoying a nice September day.

Laura wearing one of my favorite outfits. This one was Cecilia’s and this is probably the last time Laura will wear it. It’s such a sweet little outfit. I’m trying to remember to take pictures of my children in the outfits that are my or their favorites.

The okra has loved the September weather. We’re picking okra every other day and canning batches of pickled okra, freezing some and eating okra nearly every night with dinner. We still haven’t gotten tired of okra!

Canning goal achieved.

My original goal was 150 jars and once I hit that goal, I decided to go for 250! I reached that goal September 14th and still have apples to can.

My sweet little loves ready for church.

Our happy little flerd (flock + herd)! We’ve been running the cow, sheep, goats and pigs together. Everyone has been pretty content together.

We finally have cleared the floors of our shed and have almost everything organized and put away. Woohoo. So exciting to see this space looking so good.

John David’s tool wall – this was his idea. We have outlines of all the tools behind so everyone knows what’s missing and where it goes.

The biggest project of September has been adding on the milking shed. John David has worked very hard and spent very little on this thanks to salvaging most of the materials.

Buttercup in the head gate.

Letting the animals graze their way across the back yard to their new paddock. Love it.

August 2019

August is a month I used to dread because it signaled back to school for so many years but now it’s a month I adore. The vegetables and the flowers are abundant and the days are long and full of summer charm. While we typically start our homeschool back in August, it’s often later in the month when we do and it doesn’t change too much of our routine – we just add in a few hours for lessons and reading.

We found this crazy beautiful zinnia in our front flower bed – it’s a zinnia within a zinnia.

I spent hours and hours in the kitchen canning – mostly green beans and tomatoes.

Filling up the pantry. Such fun to watch these shelves fill up with produce that we grew and preserved here on the homestead.

We didn’t take any kind of summer trip (and have no plans for any big trips this calendar year) so we have planned a few day trips for the next few months. Mid-August, we went to Red Top Mountain State Park for hiking, picnicking, swimming and playing in the sand. We had a lovely day together!

Love this sweet sleeping girl curled up with her babies.

We started our school year on August 28th. Paxton is in 4th grade, Weston is in 2nd grade, Cecilia is a Kindergartener and Laura is in Tot School (which means reading lots of good books!)

Weston and Laura wearing their crowns made from weeds.

August 29th was an exciting day – we starting ripping out carpet in the living room and master bedroom. We are going to be laying down hardwood floors. The carpet was in excellent condition – we just prefer hardwoods with dogs, toddlers and farm life. Since it was in such great condition, I posted it on Marketplace for FREE and someone wanted it! So great to give something away and keep it out of the landfill.

Our boys were very helpful with ripping up the old carpet.

Daddy having a breakfast date with his two girls.

July 2019

Laura is a little farm girl through and through. She’s typically the first child awake each morning and she just loves going out with her daddy to do chores. He captured this photo when she was out with him one afternoon. He was working in the attached barn and she was just sitting in this box doodling.

This gal loves books. I love sleeping babies and books.

Beautiful garden harvest. It never gets old.

We started painting our upper kitchen cabinets in early July. We wanted a lighter look for the kitchen. We’re still not sure exactly what we’ll be doing with our lowers but we’re getting started.

We also painted the ‘attached barn’ a barn red color. It’s an awkward attached garage without doors on the house that we haven’t been sure of what it’s purpose is. We’ve called it the basement, garage, lean to and barn in the two years we’ve been here. We’re deciding to go with barn so we decided to set it apart with a visual distinction.

We both have a dream of a white farm house so we probably will be painting the house sometime in the future (maybe far distant when money is a bit more abundant!)

Our sheep started lambing on July 7. Mary was the first one to lamb – she had twins! Unfortunately the adorable little black lamb died a few days later and Mary passed about a week or so later. She was a sweet but older ewe. Her little white male lamb is doing just fine – we’ve named him Captain.

We were able to witness Weston’s ewe, Ginger, give birth to twin baby lambs and the week and a half when the ewes lambed was such fun. Each new arrival was so exciting for us all!

Our kitchen as it looked mid-July after getting all of the uppers painted. We talked about permanently taking off the doors but decided to put them back on. We really like the lighter and brighter look the white gives the kitchen.

Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes! July is one of the best garden months.

Our elderberries ripened in mid-July! We made elderberry jelly, a bit of elderberry syrup and froze most of our berries to make fresh medicinal elderberry syrup throughout the fall and winter.

My little green bean snappers. Several hot afternoons, we’d put on a movie or a show and have a snapping party.

Nursing Laura for one of the last times on July 18th. So thankful for the 2 years and 2 months of nursing this little gal.

First batch of pickled okra. Yum.

I sat a goal to can 150 jars in 2019. I reached that goal by mid-July!!

Since I reached my goal so early and there were lots of green beans, tomatoes and apples to go, I decided to see if I could get 100 more jars for a total of 250!


New pantry shelves. They’re amazing and it’s been such fun to fill them up with fresh canned jars!

We had horrible luck growing corn this year – we planted in several different spots with no success. These two volunteer stalks on the edge of the lower garden did great – we harvested a grand total of 3 ears!

This gal has been such a help with canning green beans.

Tomatoes ready to can.

7 quarts of tomatoes!

De-stemming elderberries to make elderberry jelly.

How I enjoy watching my children play and how play often mimics life. Laura was taking such good care of all of her babies. One was napping and she was feeding the other two.

Another example of play mimic-ing real life. Cecilia organized her play kitchen dishes. She called the arrangement her “set up”. Love.

We found these Calpurnia Tate Girl Vet books at our library and enjoyed them! Calpurnia and her brother Travis are the main characters, they live on a farm and love nature and animals. Nature study is incorporated into these books and we all enjoyed them. (I will add this disclaimer – if you avoid books that mention evolution, these may not be for you. We don’t completely avoid topics that don’t line up with our beliefs – we have discussions about what we do believe and why.)


June 2019

June was a full month – family visiting, gardening, canning, swimming, blueberry picking, Bible school and more!

My parents visited at the beginning of the month and we enjoyed a little day trip to Fort Mountain State Park. We enjoyed hiking and a picnic lunch with them.

Watermelon jelly – this is one of our family favorites – it’s so good and we loving cracking open a jar in the fall/winter for a little taste of summertime.

First little green bean harvest on June 6th.

And a bigger harvest on June 12 – time for canning!

There’s a new baby cousin in the family! On June 13th, John David’s sister welcomed her baby. He’s their very first, first cousin on their daddy’s side of the family. They were all quite smitten.

The upper garden on June 14th.

The lower garden on June 14th.

Snapping green beans with my helpers.

The first two batches (14 quarts) of green beans for 2019!

Even my littlest love enjoys helping with the green beans.

Weston is helping me cut up banana peppers to ferment.

Love these beautiful gladiolus. They’re such beautiful flowers and that shade of orange is just amazing.

Cecilia helping me make lip balm.

Blueberry picking at a local blueberry farm. Yum.

Love this man. Love that he mostly enjoys picking berries with me.

Someone enjoyed the fresh berries.

And so did this gal.

Canned blueberries and jam.

We started getting more summer veggies on June 21.

Cecilia helping me get the green beans ready to go in the canner.

The pond as it looked June 23rd.

We have been talking about adding a dairy cow to the homestead so we decided to give dairy goats a shot for a bit before committing to a cow. We purchased 3 dairy goats, two which were in milk. They are all sweet goats and fairly easy to milk. The boys even enjoyed helping with the milking.

Tomatoes started coming in on June 30 – a very happy day for this gardener!!



May 2019

May was a full month of working in the garden, beginning to reap some harvests, caring for our broilers and butchering chickens.

May 2nd marked our second anniversary of living here! It’s hard to believe we’ve called this place home for 2 years now.

All of my children love being in the kitchen with me. I have intentionally taught them their way around the kitchen and how to prepare certain foods. I enjoy seeing their creations.

Paxton is quite the cook. He prepared this meal for his daddy – he boiled the egg, made the scrambled eggs which he topped with salsa and prepared the coffee as well. Notice his cilantro garnish – quite the touch for a beautiful and delicious breakfast.

I did a little soap making experimenting with activated charcoal. I just love how these basic lye soaps turned out – I especially like the charcoal swirl – so pretty!

The lower garden as it looked May 2nd.

The strawberries started coming in early May and all 4 children made it a daily habit to check the strawberry patch – they kept them picked clean!

We found a snake shed. Such a fun and scientific find!

Lettuce in the upper garden!

Laura enjoying an early morning strawberry when she went out to do chores with daddy.

All of the sheep enjoying the green grass.

Weston has found multiple toads already this summer – he’s quite the toad hunter/catcher.

Love this beautiful green view from looking out on the back pasture.

Happy Mother’s Day – I love being a mama to these 4 and like getting a decent picture taken with all my kiddos.

Laura turned 2 May 12th. We had a little party with family and she had such a fun time opening her presents. She received several gifts that are just perfect for our little farm girl – new barn boots, small garden tools and a little wagon.

First lavender cutting. So beautiful and fragrant.

Big lettuce harvest on May 14th.

Sweet little Laura. Love this baby girl, she is such a joy to us all.

Lower garden on May 24th. Green beans are growing – looking forward to our first harvest.

Our two tractors of broilers. We raised about 60 broilers this spring.

May 31st was butchering day for our family. We butchered all of our chickens together – just 4 of us – both boys were huge helpers in the process.