Paratus Familia Blog

The latest posts from Paratus Familia Blog

I will be going silent for a time.  Hopefully it won't be long - but as we all find out at point or another, when it rains, it pours.

Sir Knight and I have been burdened with a fairly heavy tax bill this year, argh!  It is highly annoying, but we are managing.  Our belts have tightened to the point of suffocation but God is good and we always have what we NEED.  

Yesterday my computer up and quit - with no warning!  Maid Elizabeth did manage to recesitate it long enough for me to download some documents to a thumb drive that I would have been bereft without (including a novel that I have been writing) and backup everything important.  

At this point a new computer is not on the top of our priority list.  With that in mind, please forgive my anticipated "Radio Silence".  I will post as I am able (I am writing this on a borrowed iPad), including Miss Serenity's speech for the 2nd Amendment rally, however my posts will be few and far between.

Also, my opportunity to return emails is limited - I can only use our phone.  If you email, I will do my best to send you at least a few lines.

Until then,

Enola and Family

P.S.  I have such incredibly wonderful readers!  Your concern is so appreciated, but really, we are doing just fine.  Taxes are an inconvenience, but nothing more.  We are blessed beyond measure and want for nothing.  I am just waiting for a bit to take my computer in to the smart folks at the Genius Bar and have them take a look.  As with everybody else, it is just a matter of budgeting my time and money properly.  Thank you everyone for your words of encouragement.  You are all wonderful gifts.

Posted: April 16, 2014, 2:50 pm

John Lackland (so named because his father did not deed him any land) was the younger brother of Richard Coeur de Lion - the lion hearted - and usurper to the English throne.  He was wicked and cruel and his greed knew no boundaries.  His lust for money and power was insatiable.  He routinely had the leading men of his country tortured and killed in order to seize their wealth and exercise his complete and total dominion.

From the safety of Windsor Castle, John Lackland commanded the country people to drive their cattle into camp to supply his soldiers with food.  For the people of Wales, this was one act of tyranny too many.  They refused.  In retaliation, King John seized 28 sons of the chief families and imprisoned them.  With their blood boiling, the Welshmen flew to arms.  Their insubordination quickly resulted in the summary execution of the sons of Wales.  King John had decisively subdued a rebellion and secured his position as Lord and King.  Or had he?

The year is 1215.  The barons and lords have organized themselves into a great army.  In fact, they called themselves the "Army of God".  They will no longer be subject to the King and his tyranny.   They have sent their demands to King John, who, with great oaths and swearing, refuses to grant them liberties.  The Barons determine that if the king will not grant their petition, they will secure it by the sword.

Although a tyrant, King John is also a coward.  He fears being seized by the "Army", and sends word the the Barons that he will meet them at Runnymede, on the 15th of June, and grant what they desire.

The "Army of God" ascends on the Valley of Runnymede.  All of the great men of England are present - lords and barons and nobles.  They wear coats of mail and carry swords and lances.  They are there to obtain freedom and liberty.  They will not take "NO" for an answer.

The Barons produce a great parchment detailing their demands.  Upon its signing it will become the law of the land.  Amidst the vast legion of armed men, King John puts his name and seal to this great document, not even reading its contents.  It is the Magna Charta - the Great Seal - and it is the first document granting freedom and liberty to the people.

Tyrants, whether they take the form of a single Monarch or of a vast government, will never willingly give up their power and authority.  No amount of debating, talking or cajoling will cause them to release their iron grip on the rights of the people.   Their force can only be met by a united people demanding their liberty.

Our Runnymede may well be in a valley in Nevada.  Our Great Charter has already been drafted, signed and sealed - all that is required is an army, dressed in mail, armed with swords and possessing the hearts of free men.

* I wrote this about the current events happening at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada.  I must admit that I do not think that the "mob" mentality that is currently being displayed will do anything to encourage or achieve liberty.  Restraint and strength, a discipline of the tongue, will always yield results worthy of truly free men.
Posted: April 11, 2014, 3:24 pm

We have been busy, busy, busy getting ready for spring!  There are so many things to be done.  Miss Serenity helped me varnish the English garden hives that we bought (the bees should be here the end of the month) and Master Hand Grenade is building raised beds and helping repair various things around the homestead.  Today, he replaced a pane of glass that had fallen out of the cold frame.  It was just held in with silicone and little else, so he scraped the old sealant out of the frame, replaced the glass, put two screws in each side (for added support) and re-siliconed the glass in place.  After Princess Dragon Snack and I weeded, we added some chicken manure, watered it a bit and will patiently wait for a week or two before planting.  I can't wait to see seedling popping their heads out of the warm, moist earth!

Varnished Hive

Repaired Cold Frame
Even though the evenings are longer, I have been settling in to read a bit here and there.  Currently, I am making my way through "Starting Right With Bees".  It was published in the 40's and is chock full of great information.  Maid Elizabeth brought it home for me after a recent excursion to a local antique store.  I can say with some authority that it was worth every penny of the $2 asking price!

Light Evening Reading
In between all of the spring clean-up, I have been baking for my family (I know, a real surprise!).  Last night we feasted.  We partook of a decadent meal of grilled chicken breast and homemade fettuccine Alfredo accompanied by a  fresh loaf of Pugliese, a regional Italian bread.  Not a word was spoken as we ate, but the dinner table was far from silent.  Contented groans came from every corner!  That is nothing short of music to a cooks ear!

Please bear with me as I write when I get a chance.  If I'm not writing, you can be assured that I'm up to my elbows in dirt, or bees or building!  I'll keep you posted.


10 1/2 C bread flour
2 T salt
2 T yeast
1 tsp. sugar
4 C water, warm
1/2 C olive oil (Extra Virgin - the good green stuff!)

Mix together the water, sugar and yeast.  Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes or until it starts to become foamy (sponging).  Add 1/2 the flour and all of the salt and mix.  Add the olive oil (the better quality oil, the better the bread).  Continue to add flour until the dough is soft but not sticky and holds its shape.  Knead for 10 minutes or until it becomes very smooth and elastic.

Shape the dough into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl.  Cover with a dish towel and allow to rise at room temperature, away from drafts, until the dough has doubled in size, 1 to 3 hours.

Gently turn out the dough onto a greased baking sheet, without punching it down.  Gently pull out the sides of the dough, then tuck them underneath to make a neat, pillow-like round loaf.  Do this several times, but do not knead the dough, punch it down, or turn it over.

Cover the dough with a dish towel and let rise, away from drafts, until it has almost doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  During the last 15 minutes of rising, heat the oven to 450°.  Lightly dust the loaf with flour.  Bake the bread for 20 minutes at 450° then lower the oven temperature to 375° and bake for 25 to 35 minutes longer, or until the loaf is nicely browned and sounds hollow when tapped underneath.

Makes 1 LARGE loaf.

Ready for the Oven

Warm and Savory

Posted: April 10, 2014, 12:53 am
Miss Serenity is preparing for her biggest school final of the year.  She has been tapped to speak at this years 2nd Amendment Rally being held in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho on April 19th.  Her speech is finished, her note cards prepared and she is steeling herself to speak in front of a large, armed contingent of fellow patriots.  This will be her public speaking final.  It is essentially pass/fail, which I've always thought was easier.  I expect her to knock it out of the park!

Serenity's speech outlines the real purpose of the 2nd Amendment - explaining in concise detail the American citizen's responsibility in securing their free state.

Of course, we are not the only ones to realize the deadly course we have chosen to allow our government to follow - the video link below outlines the only possible outcome of our unchecked government.

If you are in the area, and want to hear Miss Serenity and other patriots speak about the 2nd Amendment, the rally will be held at the North Idaho Fair Grounds on Saturday, April 19th at 12:00p.m.

I hope to see you there!

Posted: March 30, 2014, 10:15 pm

Most of you know that Sir Knight and I have had the desire to sell our homestead and move for a number of years.  When we originally bought our property, we had intended to live here forever.  We even purchased land with very few zoning requirements, hoping that one day we could subdivide and provide our children with plots of land to build their own homes, essentially creating a family "compound".

As our children grew older, our hopes and desires changed.  We found ourselves longing to move closer to my parents, to have our children grow up near their grandparents.  We wanted to become a community of generational living - all having our own homes, but in close enough proximity to shoulder each others burdens and share in each others daily lives.

Having a clear direction, we put our property on the market and began looking at options in the vicinity of my parent's.  Convinced that we would be moving shortly, I spent weeks packing all but the essentials and storing the boxes tidily in the horse trailer - anxiously awaiting moving day.

Quickly, we found the perfect property for our family.  It was a HUGE old house on 20 acres, complete with a barn, chicken house, garage and two ponds.  The house was rambling and quirky and full of character - a perfect fit.  The children had picked out their rooms and I was redecorating the house in my mind.  My thoughts were filled with hope and joy.  We made an offer on the house (full price, even) with the condition that our property sold.  Our offer was summarily rejected.  I prayed and prayed and prayed.  Sir Knight and I talked and planned and gave it another shot.  We made yet another offer, sweetening the pot, but to no avail.  Our offer was rejected again.  I was crushed.

The truth of the matter is that even if the homeowners had accepted our offer, our property hadn't sold.  An accepted offer wouldn't have made a whole hill of beans difference, we couldn't buy our dream property.  God had spoken.  The answer was "NO".

That was the beginning of a cycle of highs and lows, impossible hopes and dashed dreams.  Over the next few years, we would find ourselves hoping against hope that this property or that was finally the "one", only to be told "NO".   My best girlfriend's mother decided to sell their family home.  I had practically grown up there - it had to be the one!  NO.  A piece of property came for sale right down the road from my folks (where there is very little privately-held land - and it never goes up for sale) - that was the perfect piece!  NO.  Again and again and again, our dreams evaporated.

I would like to say that I took all of this gracefully, with perfect peace and contentment, but the truth is that I raged inside.  I cried and I questioned and I felt abandoned by God.  I kept thinking that if I just did all of the right things, if I tried harder, that everything would fall into place.  It seemed, however, that the harder I tried to make things happen, the more resounding the NO became.

I felt trapped.  My best efforts where for naught.  Our circumstances were less than desirable, but we couldn't seem to change them.  We couldn't sell, we couldn't move, we couldn't even change our current living arrangements without going into untenable debt.

I have to admit it - I was angry with God.  I had watched Him bless many of our friends abundantly, extravagantly - yet His constant answer to our family was NO.  No, you can't sell.  No, you can't move.  No, you can't live in a house.  No, you can't enjoy the ease and comfort of a normal life - even for a little while.  No, Sir Knight can't get a job that is easier on his body.  No, no, no!  And the worst part?  I hated my lack of faith.  I hated the fact that I questioned God.  In my head I knew of His faithfulness, His goodness.  In my head I knew that His plan for our family was perfect.  I just couldn't see the forest through the trees and I hated my lack of vision.  I was broken.

So, what did I do?  I hit my knees and cried out to my Lord.  I told Him of my anger.  I poured out my soul.  I asked for His forgiveness for my lack of faith.  I begged Him to sustain me through the valley of unbelief.  I prayed to desire His will alone and to live my life according to the will of my Father.  I practiced contentment, reminding myself of His many blessings on a daily, even hourly basis.  I sought to understand the very character of God.

I am so thankful that God loved me enough to tell me NO.  Through the years of disappointments and struggles, God has drawn me closer to Him.  He has shown me the depths of His love and the reservoirs of His grace.  He has taught me that we can't earn His favor, yet He delights in giving good gifts to His children, even when they don't deserve them.  He has taught me that His best work is often done under the shadow of grief and that hope is renewed every morning.  He has taught me that when I am at the end of my human strength, He will uphold me with His mighty right hand.  He has given me eyes to see and ears to hear - and that alone is worth every disappointment and every hour of suffering.

And here we are.  We still have not sold our property.  We still have no prospects of moving nearer my parents.  Sir Knight still works at a job that is very hard on his every joint and muscle.  We still don't live in a house.  We still have hopes and dreams and desires unfulfilled.  Our circumstances have not changed - but my faith has.  Every morning I wake with a mind filled with hope.  Not necessarily the hope of selling and moving and having an easier life, but the hope that God's perfect will will be done - that He is still on His throne and that He holds me in the palm of His hand.  I have the hope and the assurance that whatever God does with this family is right - whether it is accomplished here in "Little Shouse on the Prairie" or in the mountains of my youth.  I am exactly where God wants me!

If God had allowed all of the desires of my heart to be immediately and completely fulfilled, I would never have experienced the blessings of being told "No".  I would not have raged and questioned and cried until finally falling to my knees in submission.  I would never have scratched the surface of my faith.

I still would love to sell and move.  I would love to live in a house and see my husband working at a job that is not so physically draining.  But I am content.  I am content because I know that I can trust God with our lives.  I know that His plan is to prosper us and not to harm us.  And I know that being in the center of His will is exactly where I want to be.
Posted: March 26, 2014, 4:50 am

Last week, my girlfriend Lady Day and I met with our other dear friend, Julianne of Providence Lodge to celebrate Julianne's birthday.  We met in a little restaurant for tea and spent the better part of the afternoon talking and talking and talking.

Lady Day, Julianne and I have been friends for many years.  Our children have grown up together.  We have celebrated with each other, cried with each other and occasionally been irritated with each other.  Our collective children, when they were younger, were affectionately known as "The Locust" because they would eat us out of house and home whenever we spent the day together.  While our husbands would talk over the problems of the world, we ladies would encourage one another.  We would share our hearts, snuggle our children and drink cup after cup of tea.

As our children have grown older, our get togethers have become depressingly infrequent.  We still make time for birthday celebrations and an occasional afternoon visit, however we rarely have an opportunity to get all of the families together.  The children have grown, many of them have married and begun their own families.  The ones left at home are busy, all going their separate ways.  Now, rather than tending small children, wiping noses and cuddling babies, we are talking about weddings and grand babies and our changing roles in life.

Oh, what joy there is in an afternoon of sweet fellowship with these wonderful, dear friends!  After catching up on all of our latest news, Lady Day and I presented Julianne with our small tokens of affection.  Lady Day's gift to our dear friend was perfect - a handmade "Naturally Concealed" holster.  Once Julianne chooses her concealed carry pistol, she will give measurements to Lady Day, who will then custom-make a holster so that she can conceal carry with ease.  If there is a more thoughtful gift to be had, I certainly can't think of it!

My gift was far less grand, but no less heartfelt.  Julianne's husband was diagnosed with cancer about a year and a half ago, and since then, Julianne has done her best to bring nothing but healthful things into their home.  She has cut out all processed foods and sugars and has even gone so far as to discontinue alcohol filled cleansers, lotions and bath products.  Knowing that natural bath products are expensive and hard to come by, I made a basket full of items crafted in my own kitchen, with ingredients I could pronounce.

I made some tried and true recipes and a few new ones, with great results.  Knowing that Lavender was one of Julianne's favorite scents, I made most of her bath products with a liberal amount of Lavender essential oil.  First up was Lavender Whipped Body Butter.  I used the same recipe as the Peppermint Whipped Body Butter, using Lavender essential oil instead of Peppermint.  Next up was my favorite Lavender Body Lotion.  I love the way it glides on, leaving skin so smooth and soft.  Not wanting to stop there, I tried a new recipe, Peppermint Citrus Sugar Scrub.  Sublime!  And last, but not least, I made a Spa Lavender Detox Soak, a soothing combination of Epsom Salts and baking soda, scented with a healthy dose of Lavender (perfect for night-time soak).

After I mixed and stirred and poured into containers, I loaded everything into a basket, added a couple of candles and presented it to my dear friend - bath products fit for healthy living.

The afternoon spent with my wonderful friends reminded me how precious and rare our friendship is - and inspired me to make more of an effort to nourish and maintain this lovely gift.  All of the busyness in the world is no substitute for the most treasured gift - the gift of "bosom friends".

If you would like to make a gift of healthy bath indulgences, you can find two of the recipes below and follow the links to the other two.  Enjoy creating a beautiful life!

Peppermint Citrus Sugar Scrub

1 C granulated sugar
1/2 C oil (olive oil, coconut oil, sweet almond oil)
2 - 4 T ground orange peel (optional - makes a great exfoliant)
2 T glycerin (optional)
10 drop peppermint essential oil (more or less)
10 - 15 drops sweet orange essential oil (or other citrus oil of your choice)

Mix sugar, oil, orange peel and glycerin together.  Gradually add the essential oil, mixing well.  Store your scrub in a glass container.  (I put mine in a metal powder container lined with plastic wrap).  TO USE:  Rub a small amount on wet hands, scrub body, rinse with warm water.

Crushing the orange peel using a mortar and pestle

Mixing all of the luscious ingredients

Spa Lavender Detox Soak

1 C Epsom Salts
1 C Baking Soda
Lavender Essential Oil

Mix the Epsom salts and baking soda well.  Add essential oil to achieve the desired scent.  You can use any essential oil you'd like, however, the Lavender is very relaxing.  Pour a splash into the hottest tub you can stand and take a leisurely soak.

In a plastic wrap lined antique powder tin

Rather charming, I thought

Posted: March 25, 2014, 2:53 am

One of my greatest joys in life is creating a beautiful, inviting home.  Sir Knight has come to know, just by the faraway look in my eye, that redecorating or rearranging is imminent.  I especially love to use things in creative and unexpected ways.

Over the years, I have found that I can dress my house up any way I like with the things I already have.  Sometimes I wander through the "shouse" looking for a table or lamp to move to another area.  Sometimes, I look through the shed, the container or even the burn pile for inspiration.  Lately, I have been feathering my nest with anything and everything galvanized.

My romance with galvanized metal began a number of years ago when I was desperate to clean up the backsplash behind my sink.  When Sir Knight and I had brought in our old restaurant cupboard to serve as a kitchen cupboard in the "shouse", we put bead board behind the sink and counters.  After years of service, the bead board had deteriorated to the point of looking dirty and impossibly worn.  Wanting something that I could clean easily, I looked no further than our building material pile.  A number of pieces of metal roofing caught my eye and I knew they would be perfect for my purposes.  Master Hand Grenade and I put a metal blade on the circular saw, donned eye protection and used the kitchen table as a work table.  We measured and cut and used roofing screws to install our new black splash.  Perfect!  It is easy to clean, rustic and suits our rowdy family perfectly.

Our backsplash

Taking a cue from the back splash, I began to look for other ways to incorporate galvanized metal in our home (have I mentioned how easy it is to clean?).   We had junked a few beehives that were past their usefulness but I saved most of the components to be used for some as of yet identified purpose or another.  One day I was wishing that the table that sits next to the love seat in the kitchen had a bigger tabletop and suddenly I though "Hive Top".  I quickly trekked to the shed, grabbed a galvanized hive top and fitted it snugly over the existing wooden top of the side table.  It was just right, big enough to give me extra space but not so big that the table became unstable.  As of yet, the hive top is just sitting on the table, however, Sir Knight has offered to screw it to the wood with nice rounded head screws if I would like (I'm just sure if I'm ready to commit).

Hive top fitted over the top of a wooden table
Sometime later, I saw a gorgeous wooden wine barrel lid fitted with a metal band that was intended to sit in the middle of a table and hold a cheese board and wine or a lovely loaf of artisan bread.  I really wanted to bring that lid home, but it was exorbitantly expensive and I knew, with a bit of thought, I could come up with something that I had laying around.  In came yet another hive top.  The galvanized metal looks great against the rustic backdrop of our worn pine table and if I flip it over, it works great as a serving tray!  Multipurpose!

And as a table centerpiece
Last week, I was cleaning out the pantry (you should never have to use a broom and dustpan to clean the pantry!) and was looking around my various spots for some make-do shelving to make the pantry shelves a bit more useful.  I didn't find anything very romantic (a plastic milk crate and soda crate), but did spy an unused chicken feeder, galvanized of course, that was just begging to be used for something.

After I finished the dreaded pantry job, I fetched the feeder and scrubbed it clean, all the while trying to decide just where it should go.  First, I put it on the propane fireplace in the living room, filled it with burlap ribbon, electric candles, pinecones and antlers.  It was nice, but just not quite right.  While I stood there surveying my work, I heard the beeping of the washing machine in the bathroom.  I ran in to put another load of laundry on, glanced at the bathtub, and knew that my chicken feeder had found its home.

A 36" chicken feeder with the swivel top removed

The legs fit perfectly over the sides of the tub!
Disassembling my initial chicken feeder efforts, I moved the feeder to the bathroom, flipped down the legs and fitted it over the sides of my cast iron bathtub.  A galvanized, fitted bathtub caddy!  Perfect!  I added a few candles, some washcloths and a jar of homemade bath soak - creating a simply lovely, romantic bath accoutrement.  Because the feeder has sides, it holds a book quite nicely and the galvanized metal is the perfect medium in a bathroom setting.  I couldn't have purchased a better tub caddy!
A grain scoop candle-holder

After moving things from here to there, I found my coffee table (also a medical storage box on wheels) depressingly empty.  Keeping with the farm chic theme, I rescued a bent, slightly rusted grain scoop, scrubbed it up and set about creating a simple center-piece.  I fit two electric candles (not as romantic as the real deal, but better with pets and children) in the scoop, added a few berry branches and a bit of moss.  Simple, classic and just right sitting on a piece of reclaimed rustic barn board.

I love to feather my nest with unused things I already have.  Between the great outdoors and my burn pile, I have a unique, warm and quirky home that I love.  And with the incorporation of a chicken feeder, I have literally "Feathered my Nest"!
Posted: March 24, 2014, 3:51 am
Image from Predator Intelligence
A number of months ago, Sir Knight and I took a much needed weekend off.  We left the children at home and made the trek to my parents house to spend a couple of days of wonderful fellowship.  We visited and ate and solved all of the worlds problems and generally enjoyed ourselves immensely.

One evening, my dad brought out a plate carrier that he had recently bought for mom, so that Sir Knight could help him get it all kitted out and ready.  Dad had mom put the carrier on, while he and Sir Knight moved around her, customizing all of the adjustments - letting it out a bit here and sucking it in there.  After the fit was perfect, they set about adding molle attachments.  "Do you want a dump pouch?", "How about a double taco?".  "Do you think a drop leg platform would work for you?".

As I sat there watching the proceedings, mom with her arms outstretched while dad and Sir Knight added accessories, it struck me - my dad and husband were grown up boys with their very own "Apocalypse Barbie".  Their "Barbie" wore combat boots and multicam and they could dress her in any number of tactical outfits.  They could outfit her with three day pack and an AR-15 for Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols, a Banshee Plate Carrier (with threat III plates), a Blackhawk CQB (Close Quarters Battle) holster (complete with a 1911 pistol) mounted high for operating out of a vehicle, 3 magazine pouches for the 1911 along with 3 double pouches for a total of 6 AR-15 magazines, for a mounted rescue mission.  Or, they could go light with Multicam summer-weight BDU's, a slung AR with a battle belt, a drop leg pistol holster and just a few extra magazines.  When you're dressing Apocalypse Barbie, the sky's the limit!

Image from Predator Intelligence
In an effort to help you determine if you, too, are an "Apocalypse Barbie", Maid Elizabeth and I have come up with a few indicators.

You Might be Apocalypse Barbie if.....

  1. You've ever uttered the words "Does this plate carrier make my butt look fat?"
  2. You have combat boot in multiple patterns and colors.
  3. You've ever received body armor for Christmas... and were excited.
  4. Your iphone has a Magpul protective case.
  5. You require the pattern on your magazine pouches to match the Duracoat on your weapon.
  6. You refuse to mix woodland camouflage with multicam.
  7. You wear R.A.T. boots and F.R.O.G. blouses.
  8. You really wish Infidel Body Armor would make contoured plates for a woman's shape.
  9. You actually think your combat boots look great with your long skirts.
  10. You've ever put your hair in a french braid so that your MICH helmet fits.
  11. Your son has ever uttered the words "My mom wears combat boots".
  12. You extol the virtues of "group standard" weapons to your girlfriends.
  13. Your local gas station owner seeks your advice when trying to determine whether to buy an AR or an AK.
  14. You have shemaghs to match all of your camo patterns.
  15. You hunt deer with a Steyr SSG.
  16. You've ever used the helmet light on your MICH helmet to find lost socks in the dark.
There you have it, a few hallmarks of Apocalypse Barbie.  My husband claims that boys don't play with dolls - so I guess I'm his "Action Figure"!  (I think he's really in it for the accessories!)
Posted: March 20, 2014, 3:21 am

One of the challenges of living off-grid is caring for animals without the convenience of modern electricity.  Stock tank heaters are a thing of the past, making winter a constant battle against frozen stock tanks.  Although it may sound easy enough to keep the ice chopped with an ax, it is actually a form of farm ballet, an exercise in perfect control.  You must chop with enough force to effectively break the ice, while controlling your exerted energy so as not to render the stock tank incompatible for use due to massive ax-inflicted trauma.

Although spring is welcome after a long winter (no more frozen stock tanks!) it brings with it it's own set of animal burdens.  One of the challenges we have had to overcome is adequately nurturing baby chicks without the use of a heat lamp.  Chicks have to be kept warm and in the past we simply plugged a heat lamp in, hung it in the brooder and walked away.  Easy!  Now, life is not that simple.  Our solar/generator system will run most things effectively, however, it cannot support anything that that involves resistive heating - meaning no heat lamps!

The last time we got chickies, we waited until late spring/early summer, when the temperatures were warm enough that we didn't need a heat lamp.  The problem with that method of chick rearing is that it generally takes nearly a full year before the chickens begin to lay eggs.  They spend their summer maturing and by the time they reach the age for egg production, the days get shorter and they just don't get into the habit of laying eggs.  That means that you have to suffer through an entire year of spending money on chicken feed with little or nothing to show for it!

We have had abundant eggs for a number of years, but our hens were getting up in years and their egg production had dropped significantly.  We went through the winter with no hens cackling in our henhouse, but knew we had to restock before summer arrived - we want fresh eggs!  And so, we visited our local feed store, picked out a variety of good layers and brought fluffy little chicks home.

A few of the chicks were really tiny.  By the time we got home, three of them were nearly dead.  Actually, when we were unloading them, I honestly thought they were dead.  Maid Elizabeth picked one up, looked at it and determined that it was only "mostly dead".  A few warm breaths as it lay cupped in Elizabeth's hand brought a flitting to the poor little chickies eyelid.  The other two were also "mostly dead" but not completely gone, so Maid Elizabeth grabbed a cookie sheet, lined with it an old wash cloth and laid the limp chick bodies on the towel.  They didn't move a smidge.  She slid the cookie sheet into the oven of the wood cookstove and closed the door.  The stove was just bubbling along with a slow fire, so it wasn't super hot - just right for incubating baby chicks.  Within an hour the chicks started moving around and by an hour and half we had to remove them from the oven - they were up walking around.

"Mostly Dead" chickies, warming in the wood cookstove oven

Rejuvenated chicks getting a little extra attention
After reviving the "mostly dead" chicks, we turned our attention to creating a chickie habitat behind our wood cookstove.  We brought in a wooden box that was small, but not tiny.  We laid newspaper on the bottom of the box (easy to clean) and added a layer of pine chips.  We grabbed our trusty Dietz lantern, filled with Kerosene, lit it and placed it in the corner of the box.  We turned it down pretty low, but not low enough for the flame to extinguish.    We did put up a small piece of cardboard to keep the chicks away from the lantern, however, we have come to find out that the chicks like it right next to the lantern and they hop back out when they get too hot.  We added food and water and a heavy towel that we placed over about 2/3 of the top.  We didn't want the towel to lay over the top of the lantern and we wanted the chicks to have adequate ventilation.  For the cooler nights, when the wood cookstove is stoked, we add a hot water bottle for the chicks to cuddle on.  That, along with the kerosene lantern keeps the chicks cozy and content.

Our make-shift brooder box has worked incredibly well.  The chicks are happy and warm and growing nicely.  We fill the lantern every evening and it easily burns for 24 hours with no problems.  We keep the brooder box behind the wood cookstove so that we don't need to burn the kerosene lantern particularly high.  Our lantern if far enough away from the stove not to be a problem and there is no (uncovered) open flame as we are using a Dietz.

Being off-grid is an exercise in ingenuity.  You have to be creative, finding new (old) ways of doing things.  We are happy to have a whole flock of off-grid chicks.  Now is the time to think of creative ways to go about the business of life.  Don't wait until you have no choice - choose to think outside the box today.

This is just another day in the life of "Little Shouse on the Prairie"!
Posted: March 19, 2014, 1:30 am

We are enjoying stunningly beautiful spring-like weather here in the American Redoubt!  We've had a number of days in a row of sunny, warm-crisp weather that just requires one to enjoy the great outdoors.  The children and I have been rushing through school just so that we can hustle outside and get to the myriad spring chores that call our names.  It's hardly work basking in the warm sun with the gentle breeze of spring blowing through our hair.  Oh, glorious days!

As I headed outside this morning, something red caught my eye.  I ventured to the garden bench to investigate and was delighted by the sweet posy that had been plucked and artistically placed in a most inventive vase - a spent shotgun shell carefully filled with water!

Princess Dragon Snack found the first flowers of the season - Snow Drops.  They were poking their heads up through the decaying leaves in the garden and, wanting to leave a surprise for me to find, plucked one and placed it in the red shotgun shell for me to discover.  Sheer delight!

Oh, the joys of children and spring!
Posted: March 14, 2014, 3:37 am
"Doesn't matter what the press says.  Doesn't matter what the politicians or the mobs say.  Doesn't matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right.  This nation was founded on one principle above all else:   The requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences.  When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth and tell the whole world -- No, YOU move."

                                                              J. Michael Straczynski
Posted: March 13, 2014, 4:02 am

This is a post specifically written for women.  If you aren't a woman, you may wish to politely look the other way!

Ladies, modern society has us completely turned around.  We our taught to serve our children and shun our husbands.  We build our family's foundation on an alter dedicated to the worship of our young.  We cater to their needs, to their desires and to their demands.  We place their feelings above all else.  We allow them to sleep with us, to interrupt us and to disrespect us.  Our children take first place in our lives, with our husbands coming in a distant third.

This cannot be.  As wives, it is our duty, and our honor, to respect our husbands.  Here's the tricky part.  We need to respect them even when they are not respectable.  Does that mean that we have to agree with everything they say and do?  Of course not, that would be impossible!  But it does mean that when we disagree, we must approach them with a high degree of respect and honor.  We don't get to tell them how stupid they are or how juvenile or how idiotic they are being.  Instead, we gently present our case.  And we choose to accept their decision - even if it's wrong.

As Christian women, we are called to honor and respect our husband.  Never once does the Bible tell us to honor and respect our husbands if they are honorable - or even respectable.  We are told to do it because it is right.  Although being respectful to our husbands sometimes seems positively impossible, even odious, the beautiful harvest that we will reap is awe inspiring.  What harvest, you ask?  You will reap the blessings of a peaceful home.  You will reap the blessings of your husband's love.  You will reap the blessings of children who, watching your example, will choose to be respectful to you, even when you don't deserve their respect.  What you sow in obedience you will harvest in abundance.

Believe it or not, Sir Knight and I are far from perfect.  We do not always get along.  Sometimes he hurts my feelings.  Sometimes I make him angry.  Sometimes I think that a lasting marriage is truly an impossibility.  But I know the truth of God's word.  I know that I am called to respect my husband, no matter what the circumstances.  The trick sometimes, is knowing what respect looks like.  Over the years, I have found a number of ways that I can be respectful to my husband.  These things I do - always - to show my husband respect (even when I don't want to).

  1. When our family gathers for tea, I always serve Sir Knight first.  He is the husband, father, priest prophet, provider and protector.  He gets preferential treatment!
  2. When we share our afternoon tea, small children are not allowed in the kitchen and the older children (who take tea with us) are not allowed to enter our conversation until Sir Knight and I have spent time re-connecting.  He gets preferential treatment! 
  3. I never allow the children to interrupt their father.  He gets preferential treatment!
  4. I never volunteer my husband for anything.  I ask.  
  5. I never speak unkindly about my husband.  He is the man God provided for me.  To speak unkindly of my husband would be to speak unkindly about the God who gave him to me.
  6. I teach my children to love and respect their father.  I extol his virtues in front of them and teach them to forgive his human inadequacies.
  7. I pray for my husband
It is not always easy to be the wife God intends for me to be.  I struggle and I fail and sometimes I resent having to be respectful.  But in my heart of hearts, I know that God's word is true.  I know that God knows what is best for families and that what is best for a family is for the wife to respect her husband and for the husband to love his wife.  I need to respect Sir Knight - even when he hasn't earned my respect.  And he needs to love me - even when I am unlovable.  Obeying the word of God builds a foundation for the family that is indestructible.

Those who have ears, let them hear.  The world would have you build your house on the sand, but in Christ, you will build your house on a Rock.  Start building today using respect as your mortar.  Your house will stand - and your husband will rise and call you blessed.

Note:  I am having a difficult time answering comments - not sure what's up.  Please feel free to email me directly if you have a question.
Posted: March 12, 2014, 3:30 am

One of our very favorite quick breakfasts is homemade granola stirred with a bit of homemade yogurt - simply divine!

For the most part, we like to make just about everything from scratch.  If we can grow it, or raise it, or harvest it, all the better.  Yogurt is very simple to make in your own kitchen, even if you don't have a milk cow - store bought milk works just fine.  And granola is super easy and oh, so satisfying - especially knowing exactly what it is that you are putting into your body.

I use a granola recipe that is very simple and endlessly adaptable, depending on what you have in your cupboard.  This time, I remembered that I had a #10 tin of freeze-dried raspberries that just begged to be included in my granola.  Wow - I should have done that sooner!

I like to use thick-cut oats so that the granola comes out wonderfully chewy - very substantial.  I use honey for sweetener and for the oil I use either butter or olive oil - I'm not a real proponent of vegetable oils.  Because I wanted something really decadent (and because it would go so well with raspberries) I added a very scant handful of chocolate chips to the warm granola - just enough to make it wonderful but not enough to make it junk food.

As I mentioned, I love this granola with really thick homemade yogurt, however Maid Elizabeth likes hers with milk and the children prefer to eat theirs by the handful, right out of the gallon jar.  Basically - whatever tickles your fancy!

Chunky Raspberry Chocolate Granola
6 C rolled oats
1/2 C pecans
1/2 C coconut
1/2 C wheat germ (optional)
1/2 C powdered milk (optional - really boosts the protein)
2/3 C honey
2/3 C olive oil or butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 T cinnamon
1 C freeze dried raspberries
1/4 C semi-sweet chocolate chips

Place your rolled oats on an ungreased 9x13 pan and bake for 10 minutes at 350°.

Remove from the oven and stir in the nuts, coconut, wheat germ and powdered milk.  Add the honey, oil, vanilla and cinnamon.  Stir until thoroughly coated.

Bake 10 - 15 minutes, stirring every 3 - 5 minutes until uniformly golden.  Do not over-bake.

Let cool slightly.  Add the raspberries and chocolate chips, stirring well.

Let cool completely in pan, undisturbed, then break into chunks.

Posted: March 11, 2014, 1:54 am

Recently I have been experimenting with all things to do with personal body care.  It occurred to me the other day that I had no idea what any of the ingredients were on my shampoo other than aqua.  That is a sad state of affairs!  I make every effort to provide my family meals made with whole foods (as much as possible) so it would stand to reason that I would make the same effort with personal care products as well.  I have dabbled in homemade care products for years, however, until now, I have never jumped in with both feet.

I have been experimenting with body butters, sugar scrubs and homemade bag balm, but this week's project was body lotion.  The recipe I discovered has only 3 ingredients, but I have to tell you - it makes my skin so soft that I can hardly believe it!  My husband is especially thrilled with the results.  I find myself slathering lotion on at every available opportunity.

The first lotion I made I scented with Lavender essential oil.  Lavender is so earthy and soothing and is perfect for sore muscles.  Miss Serenity pulled a muscle in her back while we were working on the log deck and after the day's work was done she treated herself to a hot lavender bath and asked me to rub lavender lotion on her back after she was finished.  It helped her so much that she had me put lotion on her several more times over the next few days to facilitate the healing of her pulled muscle.

Grated beeswax

Coconut oil and beeswax

Melting over low heat

Completely melted

Cooled and ready to whip

Creamy lotion - ready to bottle

With such success with the lavender lotion, I decided to make something a little more "manly" for the men in my life.  Shuffling through the cupboard I came up with Fir Needle Balsam essential oil.  Oh, it smells so good!  Spicy and earthy and eminently masculine!  I added just enough to the lotion to produce a wonderful, heady scent without being overpowering.  I have to admit, even though I made the Fir Needle Balsam for the guys, we girls are pretty mad about it as well.

When you work with your hands, water, inclement weather and hard work take their toll.  If you are anything like me, deep fissures can develop if you don't take time to care for these hardworking members of your body.  I do really enjoy using a lotion that I can make in my own kitchen and am pleased by the fact that I know what every ingredient is and where it came from.   There is something comforting about that!

If you want to try your hand at making homemade body lotion, I highly recommend this recipe.  Use any essential oil that smells good to you - you can even make every member of your family their own scent.  Lotion take moments to make but the rewards are much longer lasting.

Simply Perfect Body Lotion
1/2 C coconut oil
3 T beeswax
5 drops of Essential oil (or more or less, depending on preference)

In a small saucepan, melt the coconut oil and beeswax over low heat.  I grate my beeswax with a cheese grater. It melts faster and is very easy to measure.

Remove from heat, add essential oil.  Allow to cool, stirring occasionally.  

When cool, use a stand mixer or hand mixture to mix to a creamy consistency.  Pour into containers and label.  

You can add extra beeswax if you want a more solid consistency or less for a very liquid lotion - it's up to you.

This lotion is somewhat oily going on, but quickly absorbs into the skin, leaving it impossibly soft and smooth.  It is rather addicting!

If you value knowing what you are putting on your skin, this is the lotion for you.  Enjoy!
Posted: March 11, 2014, 1:52 am

Spring is quickly approaching and with spring, blossoms and blooms.  And what do blossoms and blooms need?  Bees, of course.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been preparing for bees by ordering all new hives (English Garden hives, of course) and charting out the perfect location for the "girls".  After receiving the new hives, I realized that if I didn't order bees soon, I would be out of luck for this season.  I quickly got to work researching bees and was surprised by what I found.

The bees that we have had in the past were Italians.  They were lovely and gentle and good producers, however, they seemed to swarm with unending regularity (probably mismanagement on our part) and were not particularly cold hardy (they did hail from Italy, after all!).  As I researched bees, I was drawn to a few different varieties that I thought would thrive in our area.  The Russians and the Carniolans both seemed like they would be a good fit, but one in particular caught my attention - the Buckfast bee. The Buckfast was developed by Brother Adam of Buckfast Abbey in Devon, England.  His goal was to develop a honey bee that was resistant to tracheal mites, first and foremost, and then he began breeding other good qualities in them.  They are particularly cold-weather hardy, are very gentle and proved to be the top producers during a two year study conducted at the University of Minnesota (in a field of six varieties of honey bees).  According to the study they have the best build-up in the spring, have a very low swarming tendency and produce queens that are noted for their longevity.

With the decision made we placed our order and have two packages of Buckfast bees coming via USPS (yes, they will be delivered in the mail!).  They should be here by the end of April, just in time to pollinate all of our spring blossoms and provide us with many hours of buzzing enjoyment.

I really think the bees will love their new homes - they are English Garden hives, after all!
Posted: March 7, 2014, 3:23 am

A number of months ago, a new addition came to live on our homestead.  His name is Stoic the Vast.  He is a Tibetan Mastiff.

Maid Elizabeth had been researching this breed for years, admiring their protective qualities and lion mane, but we never expected to be able to afford one of our own.   In a wonderful turn of events, we happened across Stoic in the next state over and were able to pool our resources and bring him home.  Boy, were we in for a whole new dog experience!

Tibetan Mastiffs are known as Lion Dogs and for good reason.  They are very cat-like canines.  Their very walk is the walk of a lion and combined with the thick "mane" that surrounds their neck and travels down the top of their back they can be more than a little intimidating.  In their native Tibet they are referred to as "Door-Post Dogs" due to the fact that they are chained (and I mean chained, with huge logging chain) to the door-post of their owners homes during the day and let off their chains at night to roam and protect the town.

Tibetan Mastiff (image from Google)
When Stoic first came to live with us, we was friendly but reserved.  He was very interested in the children and watched Sir Knight and I with a keen eye, reserving judgement until he knew us better.  After about a month, Stoic decided we were his family and his entire demeanor changed.  For the first few weeks, he allowed anyone in our home with nothing more than a quick sniff before granting them entry.  Once we became his, NO ONE was allowed in the house, on the driveway or even on the county road without his consent.  He changed from a furry teddy bear into a fierce defender of everyone he considered his.  While still a big love with his family, he became an entirely different beast with everyone outside his immediate circle.

Tibetan Mastiff's only allow a very few men into their lives - 2 or 3 is their limit (unless you are immediate family).  They love children and tolerate women (unless they perceive them to be a threat).  We have a family friend that drops newspapers off every few days and always brings treats to the dogs.  For the longest time Stoic refused to take treats from Joe, requiring one of his people to feed him the treats.  At length, he allowed Joe the honor of hand feeding him.  Thinking that he had accepted Joe into the family, we asked him to shouse-sit over while we visited my folks.  Stoic spent the entire duration of our trip chained outside - he refused to allow Joe to even get close enough to him to unleash him and bring him into the house.  Joe was allowed to fill his food and water dishes, but he was not allowed to touch him in our absence.  Joe wasn't considered one of us.

Not our Tibetan Mastiff (from Google)
As our Tibetan Mastiff moves through our house, I am often awestruck.  He moves like a cat, even to the point that he will rub up against one of us when he wants attention.  He moves silently, with incredible grace.  If he hears or sees something outside and becomes concerned he growls with a low rumbling growl that begins at his tail and moves through his body.  Quite frankly, his growl makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.  I can't tell you how thankful I am that I am on this side of his teeth!  If he wants to look out the kitchen door window, rather than putting his paws on the door, he sits right up on his haunches and looks out the door - I've never seen anything like it!

Tibetan Mastiff's are a home defense dog only.  They are not herd guardians or  hunting dogs or even  companion dogs (although I think Stoic is a wonderful companion) - they are guard dogs pure and simple.  They do not listen to their owners when they are told to "stand down", they believe they know better than you when there is a threat - and they will act on it.  They require a very well fenced yard or preferably a logging chain - they will wander.  It is not that Tibetan Mastiff's aren't loyal, they are, but they just think they can defend and guard you from anywhere in the county.  They are EXTREMELY defensive of their own property and people, however, they are very manageable when you have them on a leash outside of their own home ground, so taking them for walks in the park is great.  Just remember, these dogs must be on a leash at all times!

Stoic has not yet gotten his full mane - but it's coming!
Tibetan Mastiff's are not for everyone, but they definitely are the perfect dog for our family.  Before investing time, energy and money in this beautiful breed of dog, do your research - make sure they are a right fit.  One website that we found extremely helpful is Tibetan Mastiff  It is full of helpful facts and tidbits, along with history and pedigree information.

Maid Elizabeth came across a list of rules for a Tibetan Mastiff's household.  We found these to be very true to form (minus the Karma thing)!

Rules in a Tibetan Mastiff's House

I am the keeper of this house.  I am also one of the most ancient of warriors.  Do not even think about coming into my home without an invitation.  Not only is it bad Karma to tick off a warrior, if I have to defend my house or my family, you are mine.  I will keep you.  I do not suffer fools.

I am the legendary Tibetan Mastiff.  Tibetan is in my name.  It is very significant, a big deal, and of colossal importance.  Tibet is named after me.  How cool is that?!  Not only is Tibet named after me, the Tibet flag has my ancestors on it (well, a poor imitation, the artist was not very good).

I am the boss.  No impertinent  behavior allowed - except mine or the children.  If you are not me or them, behave.  It is your responsibility to be familiar with my rules, to be sure you understand them.  This is my house and all of the stuff here is mine.  Stuff is, balls, sticks, boats, couches, remote controls, socks, beds, humans (especially children), treats, shoes and anything else I want.  And it's all mine, mine, mine.

I am aristocratic and blue blooded (my pedigree is better than yours).  I am brave, obstinate, intelligent, stubborn and alert.  I can be dignified if I want to (but I don't want to).  I am fast, agile, stubborn, playful, sweet and loving.  I do try to be stubborn, but I always know best.  Sometimes a dogs got to do what a dogs got to do.  I want to please my humans, but I am a thinking dog.  I have energy to burn, places to go and things to do.  Leave me behind at your own risk.  Whatever happens is your fault, not mine.

To all who enter my home:  Expect a complete body search performed by me.

D.D. Anderson (2008)
Posted: March 6, 2014, 12:18 am

A couple of weeks ago, I sent my older children into town to do a few chores while I stayed home to do laundry and school the younger ones.  I could tell by the sound of the car as it charged up the driveway that something had gone amiss and I welcomed my children at the door with a questioning look.  The expressions on their faces told the story - they had had a spat and were no longer speaking to one another, in fact, they refused to even look each other in the face.

Allowing them a few minutes to sort through things in their minds, I went about my business, knowing they would come to me when and if they needed counsel.  Within minutes, my son came to me and said, "Mom, can I talk to you outside?".  Knowing that he knew the biblical method of solving problems I directed him to his sister.  "It is she you need to talk to, not me, son.  Your problem is with her, not with me.  Speak kindly and gently and take care of this situation".  He almost spat the words, "NO - I don't even want to look at her, much less talk to her!", and he turned on his heel and strode out of the room.  

Looking at my daughter, I knew that her sentiments mirrored her brothers.  The air was thick with tension.  Hoping my children would resolve their differences with no intervention, I held my tongue.  

Finally, I realized it was time to "mother" my children.  I went to my son first.  His face was set in stone and he really didn't want to hear what I had to say.  I didn't yell or fuss at him, or tell him he was acting foolishly, I just reminded him what the bible had to say about conflict resolution.  I reminded him that he was going to be the head of a household someday and it would be his responsibility to direct his family with wisdom and grace.  I told him that he was laying the groundwork for his future life - that how he dealt with things now would dictate how he dealt with things in the future.  I told him that he was laying the foundation for his family and that in turn was laying the foundation for the nation.  I looked my son in the eye, told him that I was proud of the Godly man that he was becoming, gave him a hug and walked out of the room.  

Fifteen minutes later, I looked out my front window and caught a glimpse of my daughter sobbing and my son encircling her in bear hug.  They hugged and talked for a few minutes and by the time they came back in, they were laughing and teasing.  My children had been hurtful and mean and had reacted poorly to each other.  They could have allowed their conflict to damage their relationship, however  (with a little bit of encouragement) they chose to talk to one another, admit their wrongdoing, ask for forgiveness and grant lifegiving grace.

God is so good.  When we choose to deal with conflict according to His word, we begin to build a foundation for our life that will not crumble.  I have been blessed to walk with my children from the time they were born, and speak into their lives.  I have found that, although it is important to be home when the children are small, it is almost more important to be home when they are older.  I have found myself in the middle of life-changing conversations, with my children sharing their very souls, in the middle of the day after they have had a run-in with a sibling or a cherished friend.  I have searched the bible with my kids when they have been angry and hurt and seen God's word become a soothing balm to their inmost parts.  I have listened while my children dispense the very same advise to their friends that I have  given to them.  I have smiled while my children have helped their friends honor their parents and offer Godly encouragement to them.  They are building a strong foundation for their lives, and in doing so, they are building a strong foundation for our nation.  

As parents, we have the ability to affect our nation by how we raise our children.  If we choose to allow the schools, the churches and the television raise our children, we will be lost.  We must actively engage in raising them, training them, discipling them.  We have to teach them how to interact with each other and with other people.  We have to teach them how to solve their own problems, how to control themselves and how to be productive members of society.  Our job is crucial, parents.  WE are the future of our country - not the teachers, preachers or any other number of people we put in charge of our children.  This country is on our shoulders.  It is our responsibility.  WE have to teach our children well.

Every day we build the foundation for our nation.  We build it in our homes, in the very hearts of our children.  As much as we would like to blame the state of our nation on "them", the direction of our nation rests firmly on our shoulders.  Parent up, people - we only get one shot at this!
Posted: March 5, 2014, 12:08 am

I have never really been much of a "craft" girl, however, I love to make things that I believe to be both wonderful (or beautiful) and useful.  I have made soap and candles and lip balm for years, along with lotion bars and deodorant but recently I have been itching to increase my "homestead crafts" repertoire.  One of the products I use the most but have the had the most difficult time reproducing at home is lotion.  Every recipe I have tried has been bland, not really resembling the creamy lotion that one can buy at the drug store.  Although I hate using things with a list of ingredients I can't pronounce, much less have any idea what they are, I have slogged along with store-bought lotion - until now.

After searching high and low, I finally came across a lotion recipe that piqued my interested - Peppermint Body Butter.  Although not technically location (it is too thick and rich and creamy to suffer such a poor moniker as "lotion") it glides on and softens and rejuvenates skin as well or better than any over-the-counter lotion I have used.  Oh, and did I mention that it smells wonderful?  I made mine with peppermint essential oil, though you could use any essential oil that tickles your fancy.

Gathering everything together

The body butter is so simple to make, requiring no special appliances or tools and whips up stunningly beautifully.  Because it is made with nothing but oils (some in solid form), it is very oily when applied, however, my skin drinks in the oils very quickly and is left just soft and smooth.  This body butter is meant to be used all over and we have found that we even like to spread some on our lips from time to time.  It heals dry lips almost instantly and the peppermint is so tingly and refreshing.

Ready to melt
The ingredient list is simple and I have all of the necessary butters and oils in my cupboard on a regular basis.  Most of my supplies I have purchased from Brushy Mountain Bee or our local soap supply shop.  You can substitute one oil for another if you don't have them all but make sure that the hard oil and liquid oils are substituted in equal amounts.

Whipped and ready to put into jars

If you are trying to get away from store-bought toiletries, this is just the ticket.  It is so nice that you might be tempted to make a gift of it to a special friend - go ahead - they will thank you for it!

Homemade Peppermint Body Butter
1/2 C Coconut Oil
1/2 C Cocoa Butter
1/2 C Shea Butter
1/2 C Sweet Almond Oil
1 tsp. Vitamin E Oil (Optional)
5 - 10 drops Peppermint Essential Oil (Optional)

Place coconut oil, cocoa butter and shea butter in a medium pot over low heat.  Stir until all of the oils melt completely and combine.  Remove from heat.

Thoroughly mix sweet almond oil, vitamin E oil and essential oil into the melted oil mixture.

Chill in the refrigerator for about an oil, just until thickened, not hard.

Use a stand mixer or hand mixer (I used my Kitchen Aid with whip attachment) to whip to an impossibly decadent whipped consistency.

Scoop into jars with lids and enjoy.  This will last 6 months to a year.  If your home is very warm, the oils may separate.  If they do, just whip again to the correct consistency.

A beautiful vanity jar filled with this body butter would be an incredible birthday, anniversary or even baby shower gift (for the mom, of course).  Have fun!

Posted: March 3, 2014, 10:48 pm

The big brown truck drove up our driveway this afternoon delivering a much anticipated package - two packages actually.

We have had bees for years, off and on, however, all of our equipment was scavenged from here and there.  None of our hives fit together very well, being made by different people at different times.  All of our bottom boards were rotting and our hive bodies beginning to fall apart.  This year, we decided to make an investment in our honey bees.  We ordered beautiful new English Garden Hives from Brushy Mountain Bees.  Sir Knight and I have started off with two new hives, although Maid Elizabeth has plans to order two more.

Unwrapping the frames

The bottom board
Our new hives are untreated wood, so they will need to be either painted or verathaned.  I plan to just verathane them and enjoy the natural beauty of the wood.  Until then I will be putting them on a table at the foot of the stairs and enjoy seeing them in all their glory.  The  copper tops can be polished or allowed to acquire a lovely weathered-green patina (my choice, I think).

Maid Elizabeth and I will be busy getting the hives ready for their new inhabitants, which will be delivered in April (I'm pretty sure the post-mistress will love me!).  Until then, I will just bask in the beauty of my lovely new English Garden Hives!

(As much fun as we had opening the boxes, Master Calvin in his best friend Hobbes had more fun playing in the empty boxes and packaging.  It was a big day!)

Master Calvin

Calvin & Hobbes
Posted: February 13, 2014, 3:12 am

Yesterday was a perfect winter day.  The snow fell gently, dressing the trees in spotless garments of white and covering the prairie with a thick winter blanket.

After the children had finished their school they bundled up in their woolens and boots and spent hours catching snowflakes on their tongues and creating a well-dressed snowfolk family.  As they played, I trekked through the snow, marveling at the inspiring beauty that met my eye at every turn.  Oh, the glorious, awesome world that was created for our perfect enjoyment!

Shaking the snow from my boots, I stepped into Little Shouse and began the business of preparing for afternoon tea.  As the cookstove boiled merrily along, I mixed and kneaded and reveled in the simple routine of homemaking.

As Sir Knight drove up the drive, the children hustled in from the cold, laying their snow things aside.  While Sir Knight, Master Hand Grenade, Miss Serenity and I enjoyed tea and cinnamon rolls in the kitchen, Princess Dragon Snack and Master Calvin sipped cocoa near-by.  It was a perfect moment in time - a sweet time of fellowship on a cold winters day.

I hope all of you have an opportunity to experience at least one perfect moment in time.  My best wishes for a beautiful winter.

Posted: February 12, 2014, 4:14 am

I am an optimist by nature.  I always have been.  I have been of the belief that anything that can be done can be undone.  In my heart of hearts I would still like to believe that, however, I have recently come to the sorrowful conclusion that the United States of American has quietly, blindly slid past the point of no return.

When our country came into being it was populated by rugged, double-tough individuals seeking a home - a place to live or die in freedom.  Their backgrounds were as varied as the countries from which they hailed, but they all came to these shores with a common dream - freedom.  These people were willing to endure every hardship known to mankind, every deprivation, every tribulation and sorrow, all for the promise of one simple ideal - Freedom.

Our fore-bearers starved to death, succumbed to rampant disease and were laid waste by the harsh elements of what would become our newly born country.  They buried their wives, their children and their kindred, but through all of their afflictions, the one thing they never buried was that one glimmering hope - the hope of establishing a country of free men for themselves and their posterity.  These men and women chose to give up the comfort of the known - of their friends and family, of their homes and their countries, and exchange it for almost certain death in a remarkably brave attempt to secure the one thing for their families that was impossible in their countries of origin - Freedom.  It was these people that bore our country, that travailed and labored to bring forth that legacy most rare - the legacy of freedom.  They paid the price for us to be free from the tyranny of our fellow man.  They paid for our freedom to succeed - or fail, without interference.  They paid for us to be free men, not citizens or subjects -but free men directing our own destinies.  They paid for our freedom with their very blood but it is we, their legacy, who have buried them.  We have laid to rest what they so valiantly bled and died for - our freedom.

So, why do I believe we have sailed past the point of no return?  Simply because we are no longer what we once were.  We are soft as butter, with no stomach for the harsh realities of real life.  We are weak willed and weak minded, perfectly comfortable being provided for by our kindly benefactors that want what is best for collective at the expense of the individual.  We live our lives in fear - fear of being responsible for our own selves. Can you imagine being willing to sacrifice yourself or your family for the betterment of your fellow man?  Can you imagine denying your children their next meal because you didn't have the money to pay for it?  Can you imagine providing for yourself without the help of food stamps, Obamacare or unemployment?  Can you imagine telling your government "this far and no farther"?!  Can you imagine having to work in order to eat?  Or not being able to go to the emergency room?  Or *gasp* not being able access the internet?  What about not being able to use your GPS to navigate your neighborhood?  Can you, for even a moment, imagine what life would be like without a supermarket, electricity or telephones?  How would your children survive without hall monitors and teachers solving their interpersonal problems?  What if you couldn't call the police?  How would you survive with no restaurants, butchers or dairies?  How would you manage to feed your family without prepackaged food and thermostatically controlled ovens?  What would you do without flushing toilets, hot water or washing machines?  How would you manage without your anti-depressants and pain killers?

Our ancestors built a free country with nothing more than their faith in God, their disciplined minds and their own two hands.  They bled and struggled and died for a mere idea - we won't tolerate a hang nail. They built a country while providing EVERYTHING for their own survival - food, clothing, shelter - we can barely bake bread, much less grow the grain needed to grind.  They raised sheep, spun their wool, wove the threads into cloth and dyed and sewed that cloth into clothing.  We can hardly thread a needle.  And while they provided for their every need, they built towns and churches, stores and roads.  They were disciplined and resolute and they built a nation of unparalleled renown.

What have we done with our inherited wealth?  One in seven Americans are on food stamps.  One in five American adults (not including children) are on psychiatric drugs.  49.2% of Americans are dependent on government assistance.  We have done what is always done with inherited wealth - we have squandered our legacy.  Our ancestors fought and died for our freedom and we have exchanged our freedom for dependency - for subservient serfdom.

This country, this melting pot of cultures, has risen from the humblest of beginnings to the heights of human achievement.  And in that heady pride of achievement, we have lost the very character that allowed our culture to soar with the eagles - our integrity, our vision, our will and sheer determination.  Most importantly, we have lost our faith and our faith has been replaced with fear.  With fear has come dependency and with dependency, tyranny.  And now we are too weak to think, to persevere, to fight.  The ease and comfort that was our pride has become the very disease that has brought rottenness to our inmost parts.  We are terminal.  Nothing short of a miracle will right this United States of America.

As a nation, we have passed the point of no return.  The nation that we love is no longer.  There is hope however.  Although our inheritance may be depleted, our future is our own.  The future is what we choose to make of it.  After the inevitable "crash", when the smoke has settled, we and our children will choose a new future for ourselves.  We will choose to live our lives as free men or we will choose to settle for "safety and security".  We will choose to live for an idea or we will die in slavery and subjection.  What our future looks like will depend upon me and my children, upon you and your children.  Will you raise the bar and teach your children to govern themselves and provide for their families?  Will you live your life in faith rather than fear?  Are you willing to suffer for what you believe to be good and true?

Our country is past the point of no return, but our people are not.  Choose you this day a future to own.
Posted: February 11, 2014, 2:32 am

I have made a startling discovery.  I can only bake effectively in a wood cookstove.  I don't know when it happened - it just crept up on me.  One day I was turning out lovely loaves from my propane cooker and the next, I couldn't bake a perfect loaf of bread for the life of me.  In desperation, I slid a loaf of Irish Soda Bread into the wood cookstove, gave it a turn every once in a while, shuffled it from shelf to shelf and finally pulled it from the oven looking darkly golden and producing the most satisfyingly hollow thump when lightly tapped on the bottom.  Perfection!  A few days later I made French bread and pulled pasty looking loaves from the propane stove (that were very dark on the bottom) and proceeded to continue baking them in my beloved wood cookstove, where they turned a golden brown and developed the most flavorful, chewy crust imaginable.

Irish Soda Bread
In my defense, my propane stove is more than a little dodgy.  It doesn't have a working temperature gauge, so I have to turn the oven off and on, off and on, in order to attempt to regulate the oven temperature manually.  My propane frustration has yielded a blessing however - I have turned to my wood cookstove almost exclusively for baking and cooking, making me ever more proficient.  Now that is something to celebrate!  And food really does taste better when baked in a wood cookstove - go figure!

Bread isn't the only thing my wood cookstove has been producing in abundance.  Last week my older children got a party together to go skating at the "local" skating rink (about 45 minutes away).  Maid Elizabeth and Miss Serenity both had to work, getting off at 5 p.m., so they met their friends here (at Little Shouse on the Prairie) to carpool together to the skating rink.  Knowing that they would be missing dinner and wouldn't want to infringe on their skate time by grabbing a bite to eat in town, I made a big batch of Pizza Pockets that they could eat on the road.  I made my regular pizza crust recipe, rolled out the dough and cut small (3"x3" more or less) squares to use as the pizza pockets.  I spread a bit of olive oil on each square, followed by a bit of pizza sauce, sprinkled them with mozzarella cheese and bacon bits and layered a few pieces of pepperoni followed by just a little bit more cheese.  Then I pulled corners together and pinched them close, sprinkling a little of mozzarella on top of each pocket.  I baked them on pizza stones until they were golden and bubbly.

Beginning Pizza Pockets

Pinching the corners

Ready for the oven

Fresh from the wood cookstove
I sent a laughing, giggling truck-full of kids to a skating party with a basket filled to the brim with pizza pockets, German Chocolate cookies and bottles full of water - a veritable rolling dinner party.  The children came home late, sporting head-to-toe bruises and regaled us with exuberantly delivered stories of their skating adventures.  Their dinner on-the-go had been a huge success and they appreciated not having to spend their hard-earned money on not-so-great fast food.

As winter continues to grip us in its cold embrace, Sir Knight and I have begun to look forward to the warming ritual of afternoon tea with even more anticipation than usual.  Yesterday, in celebration of Monday Tea (I just made that up!) I made a little something to accompany our tea and was rewarded with a heavenly aroma wafting from the wood cookstove, filling our Shouse with sweet, spicy goodness.  Pumpkin Maple muffins are the perfect combination of winter flavors and only enhanced when accompanied by a good, stout cup of English Breakfast tea (yes, even in the afternoon!).  Generally, I would bake these in a standard muffin tin, however, Maid Elizabeth brought home a commercial "muffin top" pan for me years ago and I thought it would work perfectly for these soft, flavorful, sweet breads.  The muffins are made with mostly whole wheat flour but still rise high and soft, with no graininess of texture.  You can make them with or without the glaze, whatever your preference.  I think they would last for days and remain moist (the pumpkin), however, they never last past tea here!

Pumpkin Maple Muffins
2 C whole wheat flour
1 1/2 C all purpose flour (can use all whole wheat)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 C sugar
2 C pumpkin puree (or any other squash)
1/2 C olive oil (or any other oil)
1/4 C maple syrup (real or corn syrup based)
3 T milk
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350°

Combine the sugar, pumpkin, olive oil, maple syrup, milk and egg.  Beat to combine.  Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Stir just to combine.

Fill greased muffin tins almost to the top and bake for 20 minutes or until tops are puffy and spring back when you touch them.  Turn out of pan and cool before glazing.

Maple Glaze
2 T butter
1 1/4 C powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 T maple syrup (real or corn syrup based)
1 - 2 T hot water

Melt the butter in saucepan.   Add the powdered sugar and vanilla.  Stir in the maple syrup.  Mixture will be thick and sticky.  Add water and beat until spreading/pouring consistency.  Spread/pour over muffin tops.

Pumpkin Maple Muffins in Muffin Top pan

Light and Fluffy (and whole wheat!)

Cooling with Maple Glaze

If you haven't had the pleasure of baking with wood - it's never too late!  It is simple and complicated all at once and entirely satisfying.  It truly is an experience not to miss.
Posted: January 29, 2014, 3:08 am

Just a bit of life around the farm....

Most of our time has been spent in school - or playing.  Could life be more wonderful?

Pile o'books

Master Calvin - hard at work

Miss Serenity, Master Calvin and a passel of dominoes

Kids at Work
Recently, Sir Knight paid me one of the greatest compliments ever - he said that his favorite place in the world is home.  He would rather be here than anywhere!  A mini tour of Little Shouse on the Prairie....

An Aladdin shade turned into a romantic lighted bed canopy

Branch holding a few hats

From the living room looking toward the kitchen

The "library" corner of the living room

Posted: January 22, 2014, 2:46 am
We have raised honey bees for a number of years, keeping them specifically for pollination and their wonderful honey crop.  They are incredible creatures, industrious and gentle - perfect homestead companions.  They are so docile that one summer when Master Calvin was just a little lad we found him flat out on his tummy intently looking into a mud puddle in front of our shouse.  Upon further inspection we realized that it wasn't the puddle that held his interest rapt, rather it was the honey bee that he was gently stroking with one tiny finger as it sipped a bit of water.  The bee didn't sting him, she just flew away when she was properly hydrated (and he had finished petting her).

For years I have had intermittent sciatic nerve problems.  Generally it is not bad, just a bit achy from time to time, but one spring, while playing on the teeter-walker with the children, I injured my sciatic nerve to the point that I was immobile.  I had never been in so much pain in my life!  After numerous trips to the emergency room and various doctor visits, I was scheduled for surgery.

Although the surgery was very successful, I was more than a little hesitant to begin the prescribed pain pill regime.  I have read account after account of people suffering from intense pain only to have a successful surgery and then become addicted to the pain killers.  I didn't want to become such a statistic.  And so, we went in search of another answer.

Smoking the bees
One evening, as we were discussing various methods of pain relief, Sir Knight recalled a television show he had seen while visiting my parents.  He remembered very little about the show, other than the elderly woman they were interviewing had survived hundreds of bee stings after knocking down her back-yard bee hives while mowing her lawn.  Almost as an aside at the very end of the show, she mentioned that the hundreds of stings had been terrible, but, on the positive side, she hadn't suffered from arthritis since.

Hearing this, Maid Elizabeth went to work.  She began to research bee stings and their effects on arthritis.  Suddenly, she stumbled upon a whole new (to us) method of pain management - Bee Venom Therapy.  It turns out that BVT is practiced frequently in Europe and many practitioners carry portable bee hives from appointment to appointment, stinging patients for any number of ailments.

After doing a bit of research, we decided to give it a try.  What sold me?  Actually it was a combination of anecdotal evidence and scientific research.  Most of the people I read about had proclaimed BVT to be nothing but helpful, in some cases curing them, and the science involved seemed to support their conclusions.  Bee venom contains Mellitin, and anti-inflammatory that is 100 times stronger than Cortisone!  It also contains Adolapin, which is also an anti-inflammatory and pain blocker.  Bee venom is also said to increase blood circulation and reduce swelling.

Very lethargic girls
Our research indicated that the most effective place for stings coincided with acupuncture points.  Because I had already had surgery, we decided to sting on my lower back, on either side of my surgical scar.  I have to admit - we had no idea what we were doing.  We certainly had no one to ask!  What follows is our basic method of administering BVT.  REMEMBER:  We are not medical experts.  We have no scientific data backing up our findings.  We are nothing more than simple country homesteaders who would like to take care of ourselves and our family members.  Here goes....

  • About 1/2 an hour before being stung, I took 2 ibuprofen (just to dull the sting a bit - not necessary). 
  • I then iced my lower back (over my scar) for about 20 minutes.  
  • While I was icing, Maid Elizabeth scooped up a few bees (about 4) from our hive, put them in a jar (with air holes poked in the lid) and put the jar in the freezer.  The bees become lethargic when they are cold and it is easier to capture one to use - they don't try to fly away when you take the lid off the jar.  
  • When the bees were ready and my back had been properly iced, I laid on my stomach while Maid Elizabeth capture a bee with a pair of tweezers.  Holding the bee (stinger side down) next to the scar on my back, Maid Elizabeth gently squeezed the bee.  In the process, the bee responded by stinging me.  Leaving the stinger in, Maid Elizabeth stung me again on the other side of my scar.  If you look at a honey bee stinger closely, you will notice a little venom sack on the top of their stinger.  The venom sacks pulse, delivering their venom, for about 10 to 15 minutes.  
  • I lay still until both venom sacks quit pulsing, after which Maid Elizabeth removed them with her tweezers.

That's it!  The area around the sting burned slightly and raised a small welt that got rather itchy.  I noticed a lack of pain almost immediately.  I DIDN'T TAKE ONE PAIN PILL!  I had no pain.  None at all.

My surgery was over 5 years ago.  I have had twinges of pain (and I mean twinges) about 3 times since then.  Each time, I've asked Maid Elizabeth to fetch a couple of "the girls" and sting me.  Each time, I have gotten up with NO pain.  None!  I, my friends, am a true believer.

Pulling a frame
Do I think BVT will work for everything?  Of course not.  Do I think it will work on everyone?  Nope.  Do I think it worked for me?  Without question.  I do know that a woman in our church was hunched over with chronic sciatic nerve pain.  She had had at least 3 surgeries and finally decided she would just live with the pain.  Watching her in agony every Sunday was terrible, so finally I mentioned BVT and what it had done for me.  Within the week she way laying on my couch with two bee venom sacks pulsing into her sciatic nerve.  Within the hour she was standing upright (which she hadn't done since we'd know her - over a year) and within a week she was asking how to keep bees of her own.

My understanding is that BVT is just beginning to emerge in the United States as a viable medical procedure.  Apparently there have been tremendous results for MS patients using BVT.  It has become more common to use BVT for the treatment of arthritis.  And, it is indicated for patients suffering from sciatica (go figure!).

If you are interested in homesteading, preparedness, survival or simple homemade medicine then you shouldn't be without your own hive of bees.  I know that having "the girls" in my backyard means so much more to me than simple pollination or sweet honey - it means living without pain.

NOTE:  If you decide to try BVT, make sure you have a sting kit on hand and  or an Epi-pen.  1 to 5 percent of the population is allergic to honey bee venom.

Posted: January 16, 2014, 10:55 pm

Years ago we had a neighbor (he was rather old and crotchety) who was a master farrier.  He took a shine to Maid Elizabeth and offered to trim and shoe her horse's hooves in exchange for her doing odd jobs around his homestead.

One day, as Elizabeth was filling feed bunks with hay I watched as the farrier filled buckets with grain. Into the feeder he dumped a scoop of steamed oats, followed by a half a scoop sweet feed.  On top of that he poured a ladle full of amber colored liquid.  Never having seen anyone feed their horses quite like that before, I asked what he had poured over the feed.  He looked up at me, one eyebrow raised and said "its apple cider vinegar".  He might as well have added "you dummy", but he just shook his head instead.

I didn't want to seem foolish, but I just couldn't let it go.  I had to know why he fed his horses vinegar.  And I was REALLY interested to see if they ate it!  Well, I didn't have to wait long to find out if vinegar was offensive to the horse palate - they ate it right up, just like it was a bucket full of molasses grain.  I hesitated a moment and then blurted "why did you feed them vinegar?"  Master Farrier rolled his eyes, sighed and said "it's a dewormer, of course".

I wasn't about to ask him any more questions, but I did tuck that nugget of information away for further research.  Although I have never come across any "scientific" evidence that ACV (apple cider vinegar) works for deworming, the web is full of anecdotal evidence which goes far beyond treating animals for worms and includes fly control, skin/coat problems and anti-bacterial solutions.

I became even more intrigued with the amazing properties of ACV when I read about spraying it on weeds to eradicate them.  We have a problem with thistles and hawk weed and although commercial weed killer will kill them, the hawk weed especially, always seems to come back the next year.  Eager to put the vinegar to the test, I poured some (full strength) into a spray bottle and sprayed both hawk weed and thistle plants and waited to see what would happen.  It took about 4 hours to notice any difference.  At first, the plants just looked a little poorly.  After 4 hours they looked positively droopy.  The next day....both the thistle and the hawk weed were shriveled up masses.  Some of the larger plants required another spraying the next day before they succumbed to the ACV, however, everything I sprayed the vinegar on gave up the ghost - eventually.  I didn't do a mass spraying of all of the invasive plants in my 30 acre yard simply because I didn't have enough vinegar, however, it really does keep the weeds down in my little garden areas.  And I would prefer to use ACV over commercially produced weed killer any day.

Ready to strain and rebottle
As if I wasn't sold on ACV already, I came across a little book called "Folk Medicine".  It was written by an old country Doc in Vermont back in the '50's by the name of D.C. Jarvis, M.D.  Dr. Jarvis spent a lifetime treating rural Vermonters and, being equipped with an inquisitive mind, began to notice a connection between the use of ACV in his patients and their overall health.  His book is chock full of both anecdotal and scientific evidence as to the efficacy of ACV in not only promoting good health but also treating sickness and disease.

Just for the record, I do not believe that Apple Cider Vinegar (or anything else, for that matter) is a cure-all or a miracle drug.  I think it works great for some things and not for others.  I think it works differently with different physiological make-ups.  That being said, I think ACV is an absolute requirement for any homesteader/prepper/survivalist.  I think the list of its benefits it too long for one small blog post and its potential uses are beyond measure.  The fact that you can make it in your kitchen, in sufficient quantities to keep your animals healthy, your family healthy and your weeds unhealthy is merit enough to make it worth your while.

Here is the best part of all.  Apple Cider Vinegar is a snap to make.  There are numerous methods of making vinegar - simply Google it and find the method that is most convenient for you.  I made ACV last fall, after partaking in a friends apple cider pressing.  My method of ACV is possibly the most simple and the most effective.  I started with 6 gallons of fresh apple cider.  Although we originally put all of the cider into a 6 gallon carboy, to make ACV we poured it into 7 (1) gallon jars (leaving room to stir).  We did strain the cider as we poured it into the gallon jars to get most of the big apple chunks out, so that the ACV would be a little clearer.  After putting the cider in the jars, we put a bit of "mother" into each jar of cider.  The "mother" is the icky looking stuff that floats at the bottom of the apple cider vinegar that you buy at the health food store (Bragg's).  It almost looks like a human organ, a big flat matt of a thing - but, this is the good stuff!  My "mother" came from a friend who had made her own vinegar the year before.  She just separated a big clump from her "mother", put it into a pint jar and sent it home to become my "mother".  There is no measurement required for your "mother".  I just divided the "mother" that I had (it turned out to be about 2 T per jar) between the 7 jars of cider and called it good.

Gallons of ACV at the ready
Apple cider vinegar needs all of the good stuff floating around in the air (yeast) to get good and frothy and strong.  Rather than putting lids on my cider I cut pieces of cheesecloth, placed them on the jars and secured them with big rubber bands.  I set the jars on the shelf in my kitchen and let the "mother" and the yeast do their thing.  Every so often, I would take the cloth off the tops of my jars and give them a stir.  I should have done this every week, however, I got to it about every three weeks.  It didn't really seem to effect the vinegar.  The jars sat on my shelf for about 3 months when I noticed that the liquid was starting to evaporate.  At this point I taste tested it (wow! - it was super strong vinegar).  I strained the vinegar out of the 1 gallon jars (making sure to save the "mother) and bottled it in more manageable bottles.  The "mother" I put in a liter jar and covered with apple cider vinegar and put in a cool place.  It will wait there until next fall when I make another batch or until someone needs a bit of "mother" for themselves.

At this point we have no large animals to feed ACV to, however, we do have children.  Every morning, the kids and I line up for our glass of apple cider vinegar (just a bit of vinegar in the bottom of a glass filled with water).  It is an invigorating way to start the day!  Although not a miracle cure, ACV comes pretty close!

Posted: January 15, 2014, 11:44 pm

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