Moonlight in our Big Sky

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Teaching Children to be Thankful

We live in a thankless society.  We are blessed beyond all measure yet all we do is complain and want more.  If you have food, clothes and shelter you are already wealthier than a huge portion of the world.  We live in such affluence that we think of ourselves as "poor" if we can't have designer clothes or a $50,000 wedding or 2 brand new cars.  It's ridiculous.  Our media, our homes, our schools, our stores, our entire lives revolve around how much do you have?  How much do you make?  Mine is better than yours.  It makes me sick.  Does this mean I don't also want nice stuff, hardly!  I love nice stuff.  Right now I want a camper for the back of my one ton so bad I can taste it!!!  I've been on the prowl looking for one.  And what I've discovered is that I can't afford one right now, so I need to save some more money to get one.  Guess I'll appreciate it even more when I do get it, huh?

So am I preaching against having things.  Nope.  Just saying that we need to be thankful for what we have.  The other thing I'd like to mention is that those who are blessed abundantly are also more responsible.  Meaning, if you've got plenty, you need to be giving.  I think this also gives us thankful hearts.  

So how do we teach this to our children.  Well the obvious answer would be to live it!!!  But seeing as how I'm the furthest thing from perfect you are ever going to meet, I need to work on myself as I teach my children.  I've come up with a few "tools" to help me in my endeavor.

First, we have Compassion children.  Never heard of it?  Look it up on the internet.  It's under Compassion International.  It's an organization in which you choose a child of sex, age and country of your choice and then you help support them.  You can write letters and you receive letters and you give Birthday and Christmas gifts.  I have found this helpful for teaching my children how blessed they truly are.  Compassion also has other things you can do if you don't want to commit to a long time support.  Right now my children are riding my tail feathers because I told them how there are children living in poverty who are being bitten by mosquitoes and getting malaria and either getting really sick or dying.  We can help them by buying mosquito nets for their beds so that they can sleep and not be bitten and there by reduce the risk of infection.  Well they want to buy mosquito nets now and Momma isn't coming up with a plan fast enough on how to raise money for that.  I want them to do it so that they can connect the work with the money and then the giving.

Also I invested in this nifty little thing called a Moolah bank.  It's like a piggy bank with some brains behind it.

There are four compartments.  SAVE, SPEND, DONATE, INVEST.  So here's how we're using it.  My children get paid $1 a day if they do their chores and are helpful without whinning, complaining or otherwise being disrespectful.  For example my children every morning have to get dressed, make their beds and brush their teeth.  Then I expect help setting the table and making meals (age appropriate obviously).  They are responsible for putting their own laundry away if I have done laundry that day and they are responsible for their own bedrooms.  Whatever housework I am doing that day they help at whatever level they are capable of.  At the end of the day they have to put their dirty clothes in the hamper, have a bath and brush their teeth.  At bedtime they receive their $1 in quarters.  One quarter goes into each compartment.  We do this five days a week.  The other two days they do it because they are part of the family and families work together for the good of the family.  I have found this to be very effective in several areas.  They are learning the value of a work ethic.  They are learning that work leads to money and money leads to purchasing power.  They are learning to give.  And they are learning to save for the future.  The SAVE and SPEND compartments are for their discretion.  If there is an item they want they know how much they need to save and then they have to put it away until they've made enough and can make their purchase.  Such proud faces when they take their money and pay for their toy all on their own.  And I've noticed they appreciate those toys and take care of them a little better than the others.  The DONATE compartment is their choice as well.  They choose how and where to give.  The INVEST compartment Momma has a lot of control over.  They will NOT touch it.  It is for their future.  When the Compartment gets full we will put it in a savings account of some sort.  This is for their futures.  Higher education, starting a business, retirement, investment properties, etc.  Obviously, I'm thinking looooong term at twenty-five cents a day.

Another thing we're doing right now is Samaritans Purse.  Our 4H group is doing it.  You fill up a "Shoebox" with things for a child who wouldn't receive a Christmas gift.  Children not receiving Christmas gifts is something that really hits the mark with my children.  As soon as they hear that there are children that won't be getting Christmas gifts because their parents are trying hard just to feed them and can't afford gifts, they inform me rather vehemently, "Momma, we need to help them!"  They start offering to go through their toy boxes and give away some of their toys because in their words, "We have to much."  It always brings tears to my eyes because I think they're getting it.  They have much to be thankful for and because they are so blessed they need to share.

Here are our "Shoeboxes".  I purchased plastic tubs and lids because I figured the family could use them later to keep things water and bug free.  Then we filled them with toys, pencils, notebooks, chapstick, etc.  I don't know for sure what a complete list of good things to send would be but I figured most any child would enjoy a jump rope, a snuggly teddy bear or some crayons.  I also tried to choose bright colorful things.  Maybe in hopes to bring some color and cheer to them.  You can choose the sex and age of the child your box goes to.  So my children are sending theirs to children their age and sex.  

There are so many different things we could do to teach our children to be thankful and to give.  These are just a few that I'm trying.  I'm sure some of you have much better ideas, I'd love to use them if you're willing to share.  Perhaps we can raise the next generation up in such a manner to turn our nation around and instead of being a ME society we might once again be what the founders of the country originally started.

One last story that always brings tears to my eyes.  Quite some time back I was reading about how children in Haiti were so hungry that they had resorted to making cookies out of dirt and eating them. My heart just sunk.  As  mother I do my utmost to feed my children healthy food and I put myself in the place of that mother who couldn't even get enough food for her children to eat.  The very idea of my children being hungry and me not being able to give them food made me feel ill.  My heart ached for those mothers.  It must kill them to see their children suffer.  I knew I had to do something.  So I started seeking answers.  First I wanted to make sure it was true and not some propaganda.  Unfortunately, it was true.  Then I had to find a reliable way to get the money into the right hands that would actually put food in the children's mouths.  So many places are to busy paying CEOs that the children you think you are helping aren't getting anything.  I found a reliable place.  As I was doing all this my son asked me about what I was reading.  I explained to him about how some children were so hungry that they were making dirt cookies and eating them.  He was aghast.  "Momma, we need to feed them!"  I agreed but how, they were so far away.  "So we'll get in the truck and we'll take food to them."  Good thinking but it's to far to drive and there is ocean in the way.  He thought for a while and then he hit on it!  "Momma, we'll go to the airport and we'll get in an airplane and we'll take them food."  Well my heart just swelled to the point that tears flooded my eyes.  HE CARES and he won't be stopped, he was going to help those children and hang the road blocks.  I let him know that I had found a way to send money and that someone would buy the food there for the children.  This would do but I was to be quick about it!!!

Just struggling to raise the next generation In The Middle Of NoWhere 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Baking with Sprouted Grain

I've been grinding my own flour for over a decade now and have always enjoyed the flavor it gave to my baking.  Then I started learning about the nutritional value of sprouting the grain first.  I'm not a nutritionist and I'm not a doctor so I don't know all the ins and outs of it but after speaking with an ND I came to the conclusion it was well worth the effort to do it.

It seems that the action of the grain sprouting makes it easier for our bodies to digest to the degree that even those with sensitivities to specific grains can often eat them if they were sprouted first!  It also makes it possible for your body to get twice the nutrition from the grain.  TWICE the nutrition.  I'm going to say that's worth the little bit of extra effort.  Correct me if I'm wrong but the entire reason we eat is to give the needed nutrition to our bodies so that we can be healthy and live productive lives.  So if I find a method that gives my children twice the nutrition and makes it easier to digest so that they might not develop sensitivities to specific foods, I'm going to do it.

So here's the way I do it:  First I take a 1/2 gallon jar.  Mine are Ball Wide Mouths.  Usually I put four cups of grain into each jar and then fill it with water and soak over night (this time I only used three cups of grain as I didn't want as much flour as normal).  One jar is Kamut and the other is Spelt. I also use Wheat, mix and match so that we're not always having the same thing.

I use reverse osmosis water, you'll use whatever purest water you have available to you.  I leave it just like that on the counter over night.  The caps you see on the jars have holes in the tops which comes in handy in the morning when I drain the water out.  In the morning you'll find your grain all soaked and ready for it's first rinse.  I rinse my grain morning and night until they sprout.  My grain has always sprouted very quickly.

The water is drained out, the grain has been rinsed and now I have it set on the sink so any water in there can get out.  I also turn the jars over and slap them to make sure nothing is sticking.  My grain sprouted the first day after soaking for the night.  You don't need real long sprouts all that needs to happen is a little white sprout on the end.

Can you see the little white sprouts on the end of each grain?  If you wait until it starts to look like a tail, it just makes grinding it harder.  The first time I sprouted my grain I wanted to make sure it was sprouted Dog Gone It and I had long tails.  Lets just say my grinder didn't appreciate it.

So now the grain is put on the trays of the dehydrator.  If you don't have a dehydrator you could use your oven.  I set my dial to 105 F (41 C).  Once the grain is dry it's ready to grind.

I use a Whisper Mill which is supposedly quiet.  Wow, if that is quiet I don't want to hear a loud one.  If you don't have a mill you can use a coffee grinder, you don't have to spend hundreds of dollars to do it.  My mill was a gift or else I probably wouldn't have been able to afford it.

Now that you have flour it's time to bake.  You'll find the flavor fuller, nutty almost.  It's really good.

So here's what I made this morning:

As my daughter was recently diagnosed as having a yeast infection in her small intestine I made breads without yeast (she's on a restricted diet until the infection is fixed).  We have bread sticks, bread and flatbread.  As is rather painfully obvious I cook for taste and nutrition not for presentation.  I've never been good at making my food pretty.

Mmmmm looking forward to trying it.  Hope you have success with your sprouting, grinding and baking too!

Learning to Homestead out here In The Middle of NoWhere!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Clean without Poison?

I've always been interested in cleaning my home without all the harsh chemicals.  I even have books with recipes!!  But it wasn't until just recently when my children, now old enough, started helping with cleaning the bathrooms that it really hit home for me.  I don't want them touching those chemicals.  I don't want it anywhere near them.

I made a purchase recently that I think was a good one.  It's called HomePro  Clean Smart Quickie.  They are Microfiber cloths.  There is one for kitchen and bathroom, one for stainless steel, another for glass and windows and still another for dusting and polishing.  I've now tried all of them.  First I cleaned my bathroom mirrors by spraying some water on them and rubbing them with the glass/window cloth.  Unbelievable.  So nice.  Shiny, clean and no streaks with no ammonia!!!  Happy Girl.

Yesterday I tried the stainless steel one on my fridge and dishwasher and it really did clean off the fingerprints and smudges and leave it looking nice.  I had to wet the cloth for some of the stubborn stickies but it did a good job.

Today I cleaned my bathrooms using the appropriate cloth.  WOW!  Now that one impressed me.  I didn't use anything to help it and it left my sink sparkly.  It also took the soapy scum off the shower and tub.  I tried using the window/mirror one on the shower door and it didn't do as good a job with the soap scum.  I'll have to use the bathroom one next time.

I had a similar version of the dusting one before and this one worked the same.  It seems like it just sucks up the dust and then velcros itself to it.  So there's no dust making you sneeze or causing irritation.  Just  a clean surface.

One nice feature is that they are color coded.  The glass/window cloth is blue, the stainless steel cloth is silver, the dust/polish cloth is brown/tan and the kitchen/bath cloth is green.

All in all I'm pretty pleased.  My home is clean and there's no chemical smell in my house.  Maybe I should use one for washing my floors........

Planning on washing my windows next.... let you know how that turns out.

I'm going to look in my books and maybe try some different recipes to help in the harder areas but so far I'm pretty pleased with the results without anything but the cloths.  These cloths could end up saving a lot of money too.  If I don't need to buy all the cleaning agents this could free up some of my monthly budget for other things!

Just trying to keep it clean, healthy, and cheap out here In The Middle Of NoWhere!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mystery Bunny

I have Satin rabbits.  One of my does had some babies, some of which I am very interested in keeping.  One day I went out to do chores and one of her babies was missing!!  Not in the nest box (and I ripped it apart looking for it).  There's no way it could get out, none; but somehow it did.  I searched in vain.

When the little one disapeared it was the biggest of the babies and one I had chosen to keep.  I knew the little bunny didn't stand a chance out of the rabbit enclosure.  No where near being weaned it needed Momma for her rich milk and the nesting box for it's cozy straw and the soft hair Momma had plucked for it.  Besides all that I have barn cats and they'd see a little bunny like that as a tasty treat.

I was distraught.  I get attached to my animals and I have a very protective streak.  If it's my animal it is under my protection and woe to all that would cause them harm.  Even if an animal is being raised for the purpose of meat it should still have a life of safety and be well cared for every minute of it's life.  I was positive there was no hope for the little one but I so wanted to keep that bunny; so I prayed for a miracle.  Scripture says that the Lord cares about us and all we care about.  It also says that He cares about His creation to the degree that a sparrow can't fall out of the sky without His knowing and caring.  So........ I KNOW He cares about my lost little bunny.

The other day I was out doing my chores and was taking the time to pet some babies.  My doe Snow White (named by my four year old Princess crazy daughter) has some beautiful babies that are getting close to weaning age and some of them are showing a friendly nature.  I'm considering keeping a few for my children for their 4H or at least practice for their 4H and I want to encourage their gentleness.  Besides that who wouldn't want to stroke and snuggle up to that luxurious, soft fur and just feel the gentleness of a sweet rabbit???  I was just closing the door and glanced down.  I saw something tiny moving and I caught sight of my barn cat watching it.  I hunkered down..........It was my Mystery Bunny!!!!  I kid you not!  There was the little sweetheart hop/walking along unwittingly heading towards a cat who was awaiting its approach with great interest.  I scooped it up and checked it out.  I couldn't find a single injury on it so I put it back in it's nest hoping against hope that Schokolade (it's dam) would accept it and nurse it again.

I went out later that day to check again and found it out of the cage AGAIN!  I have no idea how it's possible.  This time I found it huddled up in a corner and quickly put it back in the nest box again before the cats became aware of it's presence.  I've been checking every day, usually multiple times a day and so far all seems well.  Little tyke seems to be well so I only hope that it's getting enough milk and doing good.  As proof of how rich a rabbit dam's milk really is and how quickly kits grow on it I will remind you that this little one was the biggest of the babies when it vanished and now.........

it looks miniture when beside it's siblings.  I'm hoping it will catch up.  I may have to leave it in longer when I wean it's siblings, give it a little helping hand.

So that's the story of my Mystery Bunny.  I'll keep you updated on it's progress out here In The Middle Of No Where.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Worm Composting

Do you ever feel guilty because your peelings end up in the garbage?  How about when some grapes get a little past prime in your fridge?  I know, I know, you're supposed to have a compost outside doing it's job.  I must admit, I'm lazy by nature, I just hate laziness so I force myself to be productive.  Walking out to the compost pile is just such a bother!  I'm in the kitchen, I've got all this stuff that needs to be turned into something useful and I don't want to walk outside in the snow and dump it in a pile.  I've read about compost heaps, I've had compost heaps, and I think they are an awesome idea and I will probably have one again; however, they are a lot of back breaking work and I like things done the easiest method available to me.  At first I gave the vegetable scraps to my chickens, problem fixed.  But then I had to sell my chickens.  Now what??  I found my answer in worms.  Yes, squiggly, wiggly, delightful worms.  Now this is my idea of composting.  You put all your veggie and fruit scraps into a container, you close the lid and you ignore it while the worms do all the work!!  GENIUS!

So I started my research and found the perfect worm composting system.  Until I saw the price tag!  Oh my gosh, I'm housing worms here not a registered, show worthy hog.  Back to the drawing board. I surfed the internet (my favorite version of surfing as it requires no ocean) and got some good ideas.  Then it all came together.  A good friend of mine has a worm farm and she decided to help me out.  All it took was a tupperware type container and lid (think walmart).  We drilled holes in the lid and the bottom and the top of the sides for air.  Worms, obviously need oxygen but they like dark moist areas so the lid keeps out the light.  We added some gone by the board grapes and some other veggie matter and some damp strips of paper.  Poured in the worms and presto I'm a worm farmer.

There's no smell that comes from it but I must admit there is a fruit fly problem.  If the lid is closed no issue but when you open the lid to add stuff they swarm you.  Nasty little critters.  Maybe some of you have some suggestions on how to eliminate these little pests? 

Harvesting the castings is messy and time consuming.  It's not really gross though.  It doesn't stink and all you are doing is separating the worms out of the castings.  I just grab some and pick out the worms.  Then the castings are ready for use.  It is messy though and some folks might get grossed out by the whole dark gooeyness and worms concept but I just figure it washes off so it's no biggy. 

And the those castings!  I tell you what they are worth the gooey factor.  WOW!  I added this to my houseplants and they sprung out of the ground.  I swear they doubled in size from the castings.  Happy plants.  I only have the one container so I'm not worm farming on a large scale but my houseplants are happy plants and I don't have to slug outside in the heat or snow to get rid of my scraps.  The worms do all the work and multiply so they can do the work faster.  Win, win.  

You can add a second container to it by just setting it inside the first and putting the lid on it and then the worms in theory crawl up through the holes you drilled to get to the new scraps and leave the castings in the bottom one all worm free and easy to harvest.  I've never had enough scraps and castings to really do this but it's a good idea and takes away the ew factor of separating the worms from the castings.

Worm farming makes me feel better about not wasting and it's a great thing for the kids.  My children are proud worm farmers out here In The Middle Of NoWhere!

Monday, September 17, 2012


Howdy to anyone reading.  This is my first ever blog entry and I thought I'd introduce myself:

I'm a stay at home, homeschooling, Christian Momma.  A transplanted Canadian; no I don't say 'eh, I've never even seen an igloo never mind lived in one, I don't drink beer and I HATE hockey!!  I am a cowgirl/farmgirl who loves the heirloom arts and desires to live as self sufficient a life style as possible.  I grow a garden and then preserve it.  I like to raise my own meat because then I know what it was fed and how it was treated.  I'm also a fan of natural medicine.  Herbs, homeopathic, essential oils, etc.  Haven't got it all figured out but I'm learning as I go and thought I might share my journey with others who want to learn the same things.

I live in The Middle Of NoWhere, literally.  I am 45 minutes to an hour from any semblance of  civilization.  Lately, I've felt that I live in The Middle Of NoWhere emotionally and spiritually.  Life is a tough ride, isn't it?  I'm a Christian which doesn't mean I've got it all figured out it just means I'm forgiven.  Sanctification is a rocky road of repentance and I personally get frustrated with my idiocy.  Why do I always need a sledge hammer to the head before I figure stuff out???

Marriage!  There's a minefield.  If I had known it would be this tough I'm not so sure I would have put on that pretty white dress.  I've been delving into this subject of late trying to figure it out.  This spring nearly ended my marriage.  With the stuff that happened I was advised to divorce and I'm thinking most women would have.  And to be perfectly honest, I wanted to.  But after a lot of time on my face in prayer.... well I just don't feel released.  I'm where God wants me and I want to be obedient to Him so here I stay.  Lord willing my marriage will become what it is meant to be.  But if not, than Lord willing I will still become who the Lord has destined for me to be.

Parenting.  Toughest job I've ever done but also the best.  Unless you are a mother yourself you can not comprehend the love I have for those children.  I joke that I'm a Grizzly sow with cubs but really it's not a joke.  Mess with my kids and you'll know what I'm talking about.  I LOVE being a mother and I ADORE my children.  My moments of greatest pride involve my children.  I recognize how human they are, and yes they can annoy me, but raising them is the best and most important thing I've ever done or ever will do.  Doesn't it feel awesome when someone tells you how good your kids are, or how smart they are, or even goes so far as to tell you that you are a good parent?!?!  I'm going to remember this and then when I'm an old woman and I see an exhausted mother doing her utmost to raise her children I'm going to encourage her as I've been encouraged!

Well that's a taste of who I am and what's to come.  I look forward to meeting you and sharing this journey,  In The Middle Of NoWhere.