Let’s Talk About Canning Jars…


So let’s talk about jars.  A canning jar is a glass jar that is designed to be used over and over.  It is designed to be boiled and pressured.  A canning jar has a universal screw top.  You can switch up brands of canning jars or canning jar tops and the jars, lids and bands will all fit each other.

Canning jars are wonderful!  Even for dry good storage, it is such a convenience that they all have the same lids!  (I hate searching and searching for lids that fit.)  Of course they are glass, but they are among the most durable glass made for consumers.  They can also be dropped and almost always survive.
“They” say to only use actual canning jars.  “They” say that other jars aren’t designed for the high temperatures of canning or for being reused.  “They” say that when you use other jars, they might not seal.  Well, they’re right, technically.   They have to say that for liability reasons.

Now it’s my turn to say that for liability reasons.  Here it goes:  don’t use jars for canning that aren’t canning jars.  It could be dangerous.  The jars could shatter in the process since they are not designed for home canning.  They might not seal.  If they don’t seal properly, you could die from the bacteria.  Now that you have read my warning, you can read what I am about to say…

You can reuse non-canning-jar jars.  It may be risky (see above) but it can be done.

Classico Tomato Sauce comes in jars that have the universal canning jar size top.  Their website says not to reuse them.  (See the dangers above.)  All I am saying here is that they have the same universal top.  I have one.  I have used it for water bath canning.  Make your own decision.

Miscellaneous glass jars that have matching metal tops will usually reseal if subject to the same conditions as canning-jar jars.  They are not manufactured for reusing.  (See dangers above.) Know that pressure canning is a lot harder on jars than water bath canning.  Make your own decision.  This e-how post (see #5)  actually says that you can reuse these jars for water bath canning.  As of yet, this has been the only place that I have ever found something official saying that it’s OK to reuse non-canning-jar jars.

Actual canning jars come in two varieties: wide-mouth and regular mouth.  The wide-mouth jars are wider at the top.  The theory is that they are easier to clean than the regular mouth canning jars.  They are also more expensive, both initially and for the replacement lids or replacement lids and bands.  I own a few wide mouth canning jars.  They were in the house when we moved here.  I have not used them yet since it is so much more money for the lids and bands.  Make sure that if you undergo a canning project that you have enough lids and bands of the correct size to go with the correct jars.

Actual canning jars come in many different sizes.  Jelly jars are usually eight ounces.  There is also pints and quarts.  There are also half gallon jars, but I personally have not read anything about these with the exception of for dry good storage.  If you know of using these half gallon ones for canning, please do let me know.

The main companies that make actual canning jars (that I know about) are Ball, Kerr and Golden Harvest.  The majority of canning jars are made by these companies.

Canning jars are usually sold by the case of twelve.  They are sold initially with the bands and lids.  I am still looking for where they have the best deal on them.

Dollar Tree sometimes sells pint canning jars.  Although you can most likely find a dozen pint canning jars for less than $12.00 for a case, it may be worth the investment there if you only wanted to can a few jars to try.

I have personally yet to find them at a garage sale.  My little house on the prairie did come with about four dozen actual canning jars in the basement.  Canning jars wash up easily and well.  I am grateful for these.  (Or I guess I could say that I bought some really expensive jars and they came with a free house.)

Do you have a stash of jars?  Where did you get them?

Posted in Canning, Laura's Little Kitchen On the Prairie by with no comments yet.

Shouldn’t It Be Called Jarring?

According to my husband, canning should be called jarring, since the food is preserved in jars and not cans.

In this post, I am going to give a little overview of canning.  I am aiming this post (and this whole canning series) to someone like the me of five years ago, the me who has no clue about canning at all.  You may be yawning right now since everybody else in the world has known all of this since they could crawl.

So what exactly is canning?  Canning is storing food in jars.  The food is food that wouldn’t ordinarily keep at room temperature.  When properly processed, you can store your jars just fine at room temperature.

Canning basically involves two steps:
1. Preparing the stuff to go into the jars, preparing the jars and putting the stuff in the jars.
2.  Processing the jars so that they both seal and do not allow bacteria to grow in them.

The reason that canning so hard for someone like me is that I had never prepared food in such a way that it could be jar-worthy.  I had to learn two new things: preparing the food for the jar and processing the jar.  Both of those above steps were new to me.


Posted in Canning, Laura's Little Kitchen On the Prairie by with no comments yet.

Taking Kids to the Dentist

I have five children.  They each have a mouth.  As their mother, I am responsible for their healthcare, including the healthcare of their mouths.  I am fastidious with making sure the children see the dentist every six months.  I believe these dental visits are necessary.

We are blessed with very good dental insurance through my husband’s employer.  The children’s checkups cost me absolutely nothing, which is a blessing.

I never even bothered taking the children to the local dentist.  Out here, we have ONE local dentist. (I think perhaps we have a second dentist now.)  I go there myself because I have to.  For me to leave my kids and go to the dentist it needs to be a quick thing.  I can’t go on a road trip.  I can’t take them with me.  Bottom line here is that I was familiar enough with the local dentist to know that I didn’t want to take my kids there.  This is for two main reasons.  First, they hardly ever have the same dentist and staff.  Rural medical places have very difficult times keeping their staff.  Secondly, they hardly see any children.  We have had other “bad” experiences with medical personnel who rarely see children.

I take my children to a specifically pediatric dentist.  They are on the edge of Colorado Springs.  Being that I have such a long drive to get to the “city” (if you can call Colorado Springs a city… it’s really a town… New York is a city)  it is important that I don’t have to go to deeply into the “city”.  It makes a big difference.  They also only do children.

Their dentist is just at the edge of Colorado Springs, next to the hospital.

Their dentist is just at the edge of Colorado Springs, next to the hospital.

They have one big dental room for examinations.  It has four dental chairs.  A dental nurse takes each child.  They can do all of the children at once.  The actual dentist then makes her rounds to each child.

There are actually four examination tables in this big room.  There was another child on the fourth one whose parents probably don't want their child on this blog.  I also gave the dental nurses daisy heads to keep their anonymity.

We were just at the dentist Friday.  There are actually four examination tables in this big room. There was another child on the fourth one (behind me when I took this picture) whose parents probably don’t want their child on this blog. I also gave the dental nurses daisy heads to keep their anonymity.

It’s kind of like a factory.

If I had one kid, I’d probably hate this dentist because the factory aspect of it.  But for me with my little brood, the factory dentist works wonderfully.  They let me schedule the appointments all at the same time (a huge convenience with a bunch of children).  Because the children are all seen simultaneously, it is a lot easier for me to accomplish this trip by myself.  My husband does not have to use some of his precious time off to do these routine checkups.  Taking five children for their dental checkups takes me about 45 minutes, loading in and out of car seats included.  45 minutes every six months is something I can handle easily. (Although this time does not include the actual drive there.)

My kids are even cute in the dentist parking lot.

My kids are even cute in the dentist parking lot.

“There was an old woman who lived in a shoe who had so many children she didn’t know what to do.”  I’m not her.  Taking my children to the “factory” pediatric dentist is one thing that I do “know what to do” to make things a little bit easier.  There have been no cavities so far for any of the children.  I call that success.

Posted in Knowing What to Do to Feel a Little Bit Less Like the Woman in the Shoe by with no comments yet.

Free Seed Starting Trays

snuffyI will make a confession here: free is my favorite price.

My farming dream includes my abundant garden where I grow organic heirloom vegetables.  I would grow all these vegetables from seed, seed that I have collected myself.  Of course right now this is just a dream, as I have failed and failed and failed with my garden.  I hope and pray that this year will be the year I will figure it all out.

One big key piece of the dream is to cultivate vegetable starter plants from seed.  There are basically three costly inputs to starting your own vegetable starter plants: seed, soil and seed starting trays.  (Of course there is water and sunshine, too, but I am referring to monetary input costs.)  Believe it or not, the most expensive “ingredient” is the seed starting tray.  Those seed starting trays will cost $1.00 or $2.00 each.

I am now going to share with you thee secret method to getting free seed starting trays…

1.  Go to the garden center section of a big box store, maybe Lowe’s, Home Depot, Wal-mart, etc.  Make sure it’s at the peak of the season.

2. Do the work for the garden center employees.  Consolidate trays of flower and vegetable starter plants.  You want to look for “holes” in the display trays and condense the trays to fill up some and empty others. Be mindful and respectful of the job that the employees have to do: make sure you only combine trays of the same type and price point and variety.  You are doing them a favor.  They are doing you a favor.

3. Ask permission of an employee to take the trays home.

stickynote2It’s that simple, really.

Here are a few other things to be aware of:
I have never received a “no”. Ever.
Some holder trays are better for seed starting than others.  It really just depends on the style used and there are probably hundreds of variables.
The big box stores throw these trays out anyway.  The trays do not have an inventory.  The grower purchases these trays by the truckload, so their cost for the trays is nominal.  They do not reuse these.
The “experts” will tell you to disinfect the trays with a solution of 10% bleach to kill any diseases present.
There’s probably a chemical residue on the trays because I can guarantee you that that grower bathed these starter plants in an assortment of chemical ick.
Isn’t it better to repurpose these trays rather than have them end up in a landfill?

You may also be wondering how I came up with my “system” for obtaining free seed starting trays… Once upon a time in Jersey a very long time ago, I used to manage garden centers.  I was Assistant Manager (and even Acting Store Manager briefly) of the now defunct Frank’s Nursery and Crafts.  I also ran the Garden Shop and Patio departments of a K-mart for an entire season.   I observed these trays being thrown out.  I threw them out myself as I consolidated the trays or delegated consolidating.  I managed the whole process of selling thousands of dollars worth of starter plants daily, ordering directly from the grower.  (Perhaps I should add that running garden centers was really the precursor to me becoming a farmer.  Perhaps that is a story I’ll share with you in the future.)

And of course, just because my kids are cute, I’m going to illustrate this….

Step One… Arrive at a Big Box Garden Center.

These "holes" are  what you want to look for...

Step two… These “holes” are what you want to look for… start consolidating here…

Again... look for "holes" in the display trays and then work on consolidating them.

Again… look for “holes” in the display trays and then work on consolidating them.

This is not a bad amount for April.  The garden center business peaks in May.

This is not a bad amount for April. The garden center business peaks in May.                       Step three…. Make sure you ask permission from store personnel before you take them home.


These are seed starting trays from two years ago.  My seeds never grew, but it wasn't because of the trays.

These are seed starting trays from two years ago. My seeds never grew, but it wasn’t because of the trays.

(Linked to The Barn Hop.)

Posted in Being a Good Environmental Stewards, Feeling Nostalgic, Laura's Cheapskate Secrets, The Garden and tagged , , by with no comments yet.

Saturday Smidgen Series, Part Four: April 26, 2014

In the Saturday Smidgen Series, I offer you a smidgen sized glance at life around our homestead this week.

We started this week off at High Mass.  We went to the Easter Vigil after Kevin got out of work.  We missed the “vigil” part but were on time for the actual Mass.  We had to wait for Kevin to get out of work.  I love High Mass.  We were pretty beat on Easter.  Kevin was off, which was a blessing.  He worked on a an emergency plumbing problem which needed some immediate attention.

Kevin also installed our new oven in the kitchen.  Is it possible to be in love with an oven, in an oven sort of way?  I really really am.  It is a Maytag oven.  It has five burners on the top and a 5.8 cubic foot actual oven.  It’s the biggest cheapest oven I could get.  I am really in love.
My sister also sent us an anniversary present- the cast iron griddle skillet that you see on the right.  And that’s our organic grass fed beef on the skillet on the stove.  I’ve never had a cast iron anything, although it’s been on my wish list forever.  I’m in love with the skillet, the oven and the beef.  Hooray!

I'm in love.

I’m in love.


Tuesday, my son Vince broke one of my Croydon Mattress Factory mugs.  I actually thought they were indestructible.  When I was first on my own, I happened to go to the Echelon Mall for an interview and I happened to also walk into the Croydon Mattress Factory store in the mall.  I happened to fall in love with a futon and put it on layaway.  It took me quite a few months to pay it off.  I was really excited.
“Here is a mug,” the salesman said.  “As a matter of fact, take two mugs.  You’ll need them since you are newly on your own.”
The salesman was right.  At first the mugs were my pride and joy.  They even matched each other.  As I slowly began to acquire “real” mugs, glasses and dishes, I began to, um, not prefer my Croydon Mattress Factory mugs.  I almost hoped they’d break.  Nope.  I moved them to a second apartment in New Jersey and then to Pennsylvania.  In Pennsylvania, I took them to work to keep there.  I didn’t care if they broke.  They never did.  I took them to Colorado.  They never broke here.  Now that I have kids, we break EVERYTHING.  I mean really everything.  But we never broke the Croydon mugs.  Sigh.  I would hand them to toddlers, almost hoping.  Finally this week, Vince broke one.  I didn’t think it could be done and in a way I’m sad about it, which really surprises me.


The Croydon Mattress Factory…

We made Resurrection Rolls for Easter.  They are cinnamon sugary goodness and teach an important lesson about Easter.

Cooking is more fun with toddlers.  Really.

Cooking is more fun with toddlers. Really.

On Friday, I took my kids to Colorado Springs for their regular dental checkup.  Here you can see that they are wearing their new matching shirts, on the grounds of the dentist.  I am in love with Zulily. It is a discount lady’s and kid’s clothes website with some gorgeous gorgeous stuff.  If I had the money for it to be a problem, I could see myself buying way too much on there.  I bought my boys their matching John Deere shirts there and my daughter her canvas shoes.

Have you seen my tractor?

Have you seen my tractor?

I had Vince’s hair cut professionally while we were in Colorado Springs.  It was his first haircut after his surgery.  In a way I was scared to get to cut or cut it ourselves.  But I guess life moves on and hair grows.  If you are new to this blog, you can check out my other blog which tells some of the story of Vince’s recovery from his brain tumor, which was removed in March.

Before and After

Before and After

When we were in Colorado Springs on Friday, we also went to The Home Depot.

They don't have those kid-holder carts anymore!

They don’t have those kid-holder carts anymore!

We’ve been trying to work on a birthing stall for Mouse the pig  and get geared up for the summer.


Posted in Saturday Smidgen by with 4 comments.

Dreaming of Canning

I have dreams of canning. I have dreams of having a beautiful garden and preserving tons of vegetables and fruits. I have dreams of my children eating our own abundant harvest year round. Of course it’s all organic and produced locally, right here. I guess right now it’s just a dream… I’ve had that dream for years. It was before I knew that I would even have kids, before I knew how to grow a vegetable, before I knew exactly what canning was. Yeah, I know compared to Martin Luther King, Jr., my dream is nothing. But, it’s my dream…

In 2009, I had enough tomatoes in my garden to can some tomato sauce. My darling mother-in-law, who has been canning since she’s two, most patiently guided me though it. I only had one child at the time. We went to her house one afternoon. I brought the crockpots right there. I brought my few jars. She painstakingly and patiently showed me the basic process. I have to brag on my mother-in-law here: she is a saint. She has been canning her whole life. She gave up her time, used her own equipment and step-by-step explained things to her obnoxious slow-to-catch-on-to-stuff-like-that Jersey girl daughter-in-law. So that was my introduction to canning.

2009, My very first canning experience…

I understand the process a little better now. I’ve read and studied. I’ve canned quite a few times by now. Did you know that I’m a cheapskate? My first on-my-own canning experience was born out of my cheapness. My husband Kevin likes to take peanut butter and jelly to work. He’s pretty picky and only likes grape jelly. I’m pretty picky and only buy the “fruit only” jelly. Most jelly has sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup in it. The “fruit only” jelly is close to $3.00 for a very small jar. It only lasts for a few sandwiches. We were spending a fortune on grape jelly. Inspired by this blog, I decided to attempt my own grape jelly. It worked! Can I tell you how much I was bragging on myself for making those two jars of grape jelly? Yeah, I did it all by myself! Well, it wasn’t the perfect grape jelly. I had used honey as a sweetener. Honey is delicious. It was raw and local to where I used to live in South Jersey, too. Honey has it’s own taste. Honey made the jelly taste less grapey, and well, honey-y. But, it was my first try.

And I succeeded. I have since canned a bunch more times, and I think at least I got the basics enough to share…
Posted in Canning, Laura's Little Kitchen On the Prairie by with no comments yet.

Ernie’s Rooftop Adventure

You may remember my cat Ernie.  During my first summer here, a co-worker gave me Burt and Ernie.  (You may also remember that I like to name kitties after Sesame Street Characters and that I spelled Burt wrong.)  They were the cutest little things.

Burt and Ernie As Babies… Burt is the black and white one.


This was our first summer here, my first pregnancy when I was constantly sick, basically my Mrs. Brewster time.  I was miserable.  Burt and Ernie were my little buddies.  I used to tie them in my shirt and carry them around cleaning with them “helping”.  It was before kids, before Snuffles.  Burt and Ernie brought me happiness during this sad time.

I had a special bond with Burt.  He was mine.  Not that I didn’t love Ernie or anything, but Burt was just special.  Kevin was also adamant that there would be no more house cats.  Burt and Ernie were to be outside cats.  One evening when I went to bed, Kevin told me I could take them in that night.  I choose to let them stay outside.  It was my laziness and my stubbornness willingness to be a farmgirl and have farmcats.  When I woke up, I rushed outside to check on them.  I called them.  Ernie came running.  There was no Burt.  I found Burt murdered between a board leaning on the house and the house.  He had been moved.  There was blood on the concrete steps.  The crime had happened there.  Looking back on it, we think it was Grey Cat, a grey mean tom that used to hang out here sometimes.  Toms will kill baby boy kitties.  Other animals will eat them.  Burt’s body was still there.  (Snuffles does a good job now of chasing away the cats that don’t belong.  I no longer have an issue with stray cats because of Snuffles.)  We buried him.  Burt’s death hit me hard, because of my stupidity at leaving him outside, because he was the first animal on my little homesteading adventure that I lost, and because we had a very special bond.

In my brokenhearted pregnancy stupor, I picked up Ernie and kind of wouldn’t put him down.  Kevin felt bad for me and said Ernie could be a house kitty.   Fast forward, all these years later… Ernie is a house kitty, but he occasionally likes to go outside to hang out.  He has become more of Kevin’s cat and sleeps in our bed at Kevin’s feet.

Just about a year ago, on April 28, 2013, I was running late for Mass as usual.  Kevin had gone to Colorado Springs to the Latin Mass and I was bringing the children to St. Somebody of Someplace, the local Novus Ordo Church.  Because we were so late, I stepped on it on the way there.  I even passed a slower vehicle on the paved road.

When I stopped at the stop sign in town, a man who happened to be standing there was pointing.  I thought he was signaling me, but I just waved.  I was in a hurry to get to Mass.

When I pulled up at St. Somebody of Someplace Church, I parked on the street not too far from the entrance.  Mr. FormerSheriff, the former sheriff of Lincoln County, pulled up next to me and rolled down his window.  Ouch!  It turned out that he was the slower vehicle that I had passed. I thought he’d give me a ticket, or at least a lecture.  I had started to take the kids out of their car seats.

“Laura,” Mr. FormerSheriff said. (He remembered my name.)  “Laura, you have a cat on your roof.  I noticed it when you passed me and I tried to get your attention.”

I started to mumble an apology for going so fast, saying that I was late for church and that it had started at nine, etc.  This was before it hit me and I looked up on my minivan’s roof and saw Ernie there.  “Ernie!”  I reached up and grabbed my frightened kitty.   I thanked Mr. FormerSheriff and told him I was late for Mass. I locked Ernie in the minivan with the windows open slightly and went to Mass. I’m about 7.5 miles from St. Somebody of Someplace Church.  I was in a rush.  I would say I was driving at 70 mph at some points.  I even passed Mr. FormerSheriff.  The roads were straight and flat for the most part, but still, 70 mph?  My kitty held on.  I call that a little miracle.  Were the guardian angels holding him there in place?  Maybe…  

This is Ernie on the minivan roof when we got home. I staged this to give you a visual for this story. Poor Ernie!

Posted in Uncategorized by with no comments yet.

Is Everyday Earth Day?

Today is April 22nd, which is known as Earth Day here in the United States.  Earth Day is a day to promote support of environmental protection.

Perhaps we can talk ad infinitem about how “environmental protection” isn’t really Catholic in origin. (We can think about how some aspects of so-called environmental protection are actually diametrically opposed to Christian principles.) I’m not going to get into that here.

But we can remember when after Jesus fed 5000 men with the miracle of the loaves and fishes, “he said to his disciples: ‘Gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost’.” (John 6:12, DRB)  We can also remember that “In the beginning God created heaven, and earth.” (Genesis 1:1, DRB) I think it only follows naturally that we are to be good stewards of all that God has created.  If we squandered this away, would this be bordering on the sin of gluttony?  I’m not sure.  I’m not a theologian, rather, I’m just offering some food for thought.  I truly believe in being good stewards of all that He has created, and perhaps “being a good steward” is a similar theme to “environmental protection”.  So in honor of Earth Day, I will share with you, in no particular order, some of the things we do here on our homestead to make every day Earth Day, even though we just call it “trying to be good stewards”.

1. We drive a Nissan Versa.  We have four vehicles: a Nissan Versa, a minivan, a pickup and a “Dollar Van” (15 passenger van).  Our Nissan has a manual transmission and gets over 35 miles per gallon.  We drive the Nissan as much as we can.  It is our preferred vehicle.  I have figured out how to fit three car seats in the back safely.  Although we need the minivan, pickup and Dollar Van for the stage of life that we’re in, we always make the most fuel efficient choice we can.

This is our Nissan Versa in the Wal-mart parking lot in Ohio, September 2011.

This is our Nissan Versa in the Wal-mart parking lot in Ohio, September 2010.


2. We don’t use the dryer.  We own a dryer which is probably not very efficient, but we only use it about twice a year, when we have an urgent need. I use the clothesline.

Here are some socks hanging on the clothesline , March 2013. Our house isn't white anymore.

Here are some socks hanging on the clothesline , March 2013. Our house isn’t white anymore.


3. We cloth diaper.  I used to be a member of the cult of cloth diapers.  OK, so it’s not really a cult, but it seems that way sometimes.  When I had just two in cloth diapers, I did crazy things like go camping with cloth twice and drive to New Jersey with cloth.  Now I use disposable diapers when I’m on the go.  I just really can’t handle cloth on the go with three in diapers.  Even packing that amount of diapers for a twelve hour day on the go takes up too much room.  So I do use ‘sposies, but it’s minimal.

This is Baby5.

This is Baby5 last week.


4. When we go to Denver or Colorado Springs for a day of appointments, it is usually a twelve to fourteen hour affair.  I coordinate my trips to go grocery shopping and other stores with necessary doctor appointments.


5. I make the most of leftovers.  I try not to let anything go bad.  I use scraps as much as I can.  If I can’t use the scraps, I give them to the animals.  I compost what can’t be used for the animals.


6. I compost cardboard and paper stuff.  I take metal to the scrap yard (when I’m in town anyway).  I take glass to town to recycle, during a trip for something else.

September 2012- This is our pickup on its way to the scrap yard.

September 2012- This is our pickup on its way to the scrap yard.


7. We homeschool.  In our school district, preschool is a half day and does not run a midday bus.  If I had enrolled my two oldest there, I would have to pick one up at eleven and drop the other off at one.  We’re nearly 8 miles from the school.  8*4 = 32, 32*4 (days per week)=128.  I save 128 miles driven weekly.  The bus drives by our house anyway, so we are not saving the school district any gas by homeschooling.

September 2013- We homeschool.

September 2013- We homeschool.


8. We do hand-me-downs.  We do thrift stores.  We do garage sales.  We also buy some clothes new and look for higher quality.  Clothes have finite wear.  We’re sensible about it.  When clothes do wear out, they become cleaning rags, “baby butt rags” (cloth diaper liners) or compost.


9. We make good use of what’s lying around here, especially for our farming endeavors.  Remember the Loomix tub?  Case and point, really.


10.  For our animals, we source as much as we can from our own land.  We grow our own straw.  We grow our own hay.  We make fodder from our wheat.

This is June 2012- This is a bale of straw in our wheat field.

This is June 2012- This is a bale of straw in our wheat field.

11. We raise our own beef, eggs and now pork.  We raise our own wheat.  One day I might actually have a garden good enough to provide food for our family.  I’m working on that.


12. I order everything that is economically feasible to do so online.  The UPS and mail ladies drive by our house anyway.


13. We heat with wood.  The trees on our property are in various stages of dying.  Our heating fuel therefore comes right from our own property.

This is our woodpile in January 2012.

This is our woodpile in January 2012.


14. My children who have needed speech help get it over the computer, in a similar way to Skype.  That saves a lot of trips, even if we actually had quality speech therapy locally (which we don’t).


15. We save some roof runoff for watering the garden.

Spring 2013- These containers are catching roof runoff.

Spring 2013- These containers are catching roof runoff.


16. We farm organically.  Sure we’re not certified yet, but our practices are organic.  There are no organic farms within a 50 miles radius, so farms like ours are rare.  We don’t use those icky chemicals on our land.

Can we better stewards? I’m sure that we can improve. We are decent though. This list is just some of things we do, off the top of my head at least.

I think the important thing to remember is that whether you call it environmental protection or being a good steward, Earth Day is not just a day. It is an every day endeavor. It’s a lifestyle.

(Linked to A Mama’s Story.)

Posted in Being a Good Environmental Stewards by with no comments yet.

Saturday Smidgen Series, Part Three: April 19, 2014, Late

In the Saturday Smidgen Series, I hope to give you a couple of small smidgen glances into life around our homestead (mostly from this week)…
I had finally found my camera.  Since it had been missing for a few days, there are some days missing in our pictures.


This first picture is actually from last week.  Five kids, a baby goat and our dog is how we roll here on the prairie…

It's really hard to get everyone to look the same way!

It’s really hard to get everyone to look the same way!


On Wednesday, I made a Passion Week Dinner.  I’m not that smart.  I got the idea from the internet.  We had it on Wednesday since I had some appointments on Thursday in suburban Denver and I didn’t want to have treats on Good Friday.  Here you can see that my son doesn’t know how to set the table.  You can also see the Hersey kisses to represent Judas’s betrayal of Jesus, the thirty silver kisses to also represent Judas’s betrayal, eggs to represent Peter’s denial before the crock crowed, salt and vinegar potato chips to represent the vinegar given to Jesus on the Cross, peanut butter and pretzel crosses to represent the Cross, the swords of cheese too represent St. Peter cutting the ear off of the soldier and the Crowns of Thorns.  Yeah, I know that roosters don’t lay eggs and this ain’t gonna help me get into heaven.  I just felt the need to do something to bring this down to the kids’ level.
And also, as an FYI, either I’m doing this all wrong or all-peanut-peanut-butter doesn’t work very well as a “glue” for pretzels.  Perhaps the other blog writers that I stole this idea from used the fake stuff.

Passion Week Dinner

Passion Week Dinner… And yes, even though we finished repainting the exterior of the house in September, that is still painting tape on the outside of the window.


We now have a new “playhouse”, aka water heater box.

I stuck photo editor daisies on here to block out my address.  This IS the internet.

I stuck photo editor daisies on here to block out my address. This IS the internet.


Here is Baby5, just because he’s cute…

Did you notice the oatmeal on his face?

Did you notice the oatmeal on his face?


I made a lamb cake for Easter.  I know it’s corny and I know you can call this a PinterestFail, but I like the idea of eating lamb on Easter.  Except that lamb is super expensive, we have a freezer full of our own organic grass fed meat and we’re not even crazy about lamb.  I also don’t have a lamb cake mold, so this is what I came up with, using some inspiration from Pinterest.  I baked the cake in a bowl, a loaf pan and a 9×13 pan.  The 9×13 pan is the base.  The bowl is the head.  I cut the loaf pan cake into legs, ears and a tail.  I used white cake and white frosting, a whole bag of white marshmallows, a few pink marshmallows from a colored bag and a few chocolate chips.  So it’s not the best, but considering my normal cake wrecks, this came spectacular.  I just don’t normally have the patience or skill to make appealing looking cakes.  I need to take a class or something.  I’m tired of cake wrecks. I actually made two of these.  We brought one to our relatives’ house and the other one is still sitting on the kitchen counter.  We just haven’t had a chance to eat it yet.  That is horrible, I know, but we like our shower more.  In addition to normal Easter stuff, Kevin needed to do an emergency repair on our shower.  We really like indoor plumbing.

I named him Joshua.

I named him Joshua.

Posted in Saturday Smidgen by with no comments yet.

Delivery Day

We have been waiting on a few things to come here and by accident it all happened today…

We have been working getting the basement ready to have some foundation repair work completed.  We needed to move the water heater.  It was ailing and needed replaced.  It was stupid to move the old water heater and its plumbing  when it needed replaced anyway.  We had ordered the replacement through Home Depot.  We actually ordered a kick-butt one because with all the rebates that our electric company offered, it ended up being the same price as the cheaper ones.

The man bought the water heater today.

Here is the truck delivering the water heater...

Here is the truck delivering the water heater…

Coming off the pickup... notice the child in the 'playhouse'...

Coming off the pickup… notice the child in the ‘playhouse’…

The plumber came to install it.

Here it is installed in the basement!  Hooray!

Here it is installed in the basement! Hooray!

I’ve had this idea in my head to raise pastured pork.  For years.  I took the plunge and bought a pregnant sow (girl pig).  The old owners delivered her today. Her name is Mouse.

meet mouse

Meet Mouse…,

Lowes also brought our new oven today.  They took away our old old one.  (I have always hated that oven. )  The oven had broken.  Someone gave us their old oven.  That one broke, too.  Hooray for the second new oven!  Kevin will get that installed soon.  Goodbye, old old oven. Thank you Lowes Man for bringing our new one!

Goodbye, old old oven.  Thank you Lowes Man for bringing our new one!

Goodbye, old old oven. Thank you Lowes Man for bringing our new one!

Yesterday I was in Suburban Denver for a day of appointments.  I stopped at Home Depot and bought some purple lumber to build Mouse a new stall. (Purple lumber is crooked lumber that Home Depot discounts 70%.)


This is what lumber looks like on a minivan…


Here it is on the roof…

Posted in A Day In the Life by with no comments yet.