Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Havin’ a Hay Day!

Remember the hay Papa the Farmer brought home yesterday?  Well, so did the Little Farmhands!  I went outside this morning to find this:


Children love hay!  I am convinced it’s in their DNA.

Actually, for a long time, Papa the Farmer has been interested in building a straw bale house.  This isn't exactly what he has in mind, but today, we built him one.


Would you like a tour?  Just walk crawl in through the old cabinet front front door:


Below is the bedroom.  I was informed that it is where Jesus was born.  (Please don’t rush to make our hay house a historic site quite yet.  Let me check their facts first.  I’m pretty sure Bethlehem was not in Texas!)


We even have a garage!  (Boys love their cars!)


The Little Farmgirl wanted it to be a kitchen, but I guess her brother won when he drove in and parked his car where she was going to put the table.

There’s a back window (with a built in window seat!) …


…that doubles as a fire escape:


It’s hard to tell, but he’s jumping out the window shouting, “Fire!  Fire!”  (I imagine that a fire in house like this would really be a problem.)

Y’all come back now, ya hear?   =)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hay, That’s a Very Good Question!

Did you ever wonder what happens to those elaborate fall displays that you see in stories during October?  You know the ones I’m talking about…  The displays you see in the middle of the city with big bales of hay and scarecrows and pumpkins everywhere.  I always laugh to myself when I see hay in the middle of the city!  Not exactly it’s natural environment!

Well, look what Papa the Farmer came home with today:


17 bales of hay FREE from an upscale health food store in Dallas!  We have a friend who works there and when the manager mentioned that he wasn’t quite sure exactly how to dispose of the autumn display, well, that friend thought of us! 

You may be asking yourself what we are going to do with 17 bales of hay.  That’s a very good question.  I’ll let you know when I figure that part out!  I’m pretty sure Papa the Farmer has plans for it… Mulching figs trees is my guess! 

I think we should make scarecrows.  We could make a whole family of scarecrows with that much hay.
Do you care to guess what he might do with it?  If you have a suggestion, leave it in the comments below!  If we use your idea, you will be forever immortalized on our blog… whatever that’s worth to you!

Curly Hair Girl

Have you seen a close up photo of our little farm girl?

curly hair girl

When people see her for the first time, they gasp and say, “Where did she get those curls?”  It’s a good question because nobody else in the family has curls like this! In fact, when she was born, it was the first thing we noticed about her:  little curls plastered to the side of her little wet head.  (I'll spare you that photo!)

Here’s a picture of her when she was only 18 months old:


And just for the sake of  comparison, here are two pictures of the other of the little farmhands at the same age:

ponytail 1little guy cropped

No comparison!  So where DID she get that hair?  Papa the farmer has straight hair and my waves could be called “weak” at best…

I love her hair!  It is so easy to make her look pretty, because she is already so pretty!  Look at these intricate up-dos (above and below):

ponytail 2

Those are just ordinary ponytails!  But they don’t look ordinary on her, because of those pretty spiral curls!

But alas, it takes pains to be beautiful (I’ve heard).  And that is certainly the case with Miss-Curly-Top.  She spends so much time playing outside and once in a while she’ll come in with big nasty knots in her hair that can only be described as “rats nests.”  This is what she looked like last night:


I can remember getting knots like this in my hair as a little girl.  I can remember getting some so bad that my mother finally had to just cut them out.  So I imagine many mothers must be faced with this difficulty!

Here’s the system I use to get those nasty knots out:  First we buy shampoo and conditioner that is specially formulated for curly hair.  I’d like to start  making my own shampoo and conditioner, but I’m just not there yet.  So, we wash her hair, then put conditioner in it.  I put a lot of conditioner on the knot and let it sit while she plays in the bathtub for a while.

Then I come back and I comb the rest of her hair.  The rest of her hair might have knots in it too, but I leave the worst knots for last.  Somehow we are both more encouraged if we know we’re on the very last knot!  I’ll take a small piece of hair in my hand.  I start about an inch away from the bottom and I comb the hair downwards.  Then I start a little higher on the same section of hair and comb downwards.  I keep repeating this until I’m all the way at the top and there are no knots left.  She puts her hand up close to her skull and holds the hair, too.  That way it doesn’t hurt as much when the comb is tugging on it. 
As hard as I try to make it not hurt, all that combing does hurt.  When she was really little we had a little poem we would repeat to help her not cry:
Knots, Knots, Go Away!
Don’t come back another day!”

And after about a half hour of combing the various sections of her hair, she looks like this:
Much better!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Blessed to be a Blessing

Well, I must admit, when Thanksgiving rolled around this year, I was feeling a bit “bleah” about the whole holiday season.  Our family lives far away and for various reasons we didn’t really have anyone else to invite over for Thanksgiving.  So we did something very strange, very untraditional, and it turned out to be our best Thanksgiving ever!

The first thing I did was decorate the house a bit.  I went easy on myself.  I pulled a picture off the wall and hung this one in its place:


This is a picture that a friend of mine salvaged from the leftovers of an estate sale.  I really like it!

Then, I pulled out an old wicker garden basket.  (You can tell that it’s a garden basket… it still has dirt on it!)  I put a fleece blanket in the basket and stocked it full of Thanksgiving books for children:


I set the basket on our coffee table.  We have one of those glass top display coffee tables that we use to display all our nature study (found it on Craigslist for $20!  Yay!).  I haven’t changed the display in a while, so it’s still displaying seashells from our trip to Florida last winter… Oh well… The pilgrims probably saw lots of seashells when they landed on Plymouth rock, right?

Next I got busy turning my little farmhands into pilgrims!  I happened to have some white fabric on hand, so turning a farm girl into a pilgrim girl was easy!  I just sewed up a quick pilgrim hat and apron.  But a pilgrim boy was harder…  How does one make a pilgrim hat with just supplies on hand?

This beach bucket seemed to have potential…


I got busy with some newspaper (for a pattern) and felt.  Here are some pictures of the pilgrim hat in progress:

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When I got finished sewing the hat, the little farmhand-turned-pilgrim decided he didn’t want to be just a pilgrim boy.  He wanted to be a pilgrim MAN…. with a MOUSTACHE!  And so I did one of the craziest things I’ve done as a parent.  I stayed up really, really late one night crocheting a beard for my preschooler.  I think the final product was really adorable though!


We had already decided to surprise some local people with a visit from pilgrims!   We compiled a list of some friends, some neighbors and even some strangers to go visit for just a few minutes.  So the night before Thanksgiving we prepared a little gift to give each person we visited.  First, the little farmhands colored pictures:

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Next, we cut the pictures apart and glued them onto brown paper bags which we then filled with popcorn.  Popcorn is great “pilgrim food!”:

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By the end of the evening we had several bags of popcorn prepared:


Four of the families we visited have several children.  So they got something special! 
I found a tutorial with instructions to make this great paper bag turkey (stuffed with popcorn) here.  What can I say?  Google is my friend!

Then, we became pilgrims!  We read some of the Thanksgiving books in our baskets and we even slept in front of the fireplace, just like the pilgrims!  (Ok, not exactly like the pilgrims… We dragged mattresses into the living room so that we would actually get some sleep!)


And so on Thanksgiving day, several people in and around our little town (many who we had never met before!) were very surprised to have real live pilgrims visit!

Wouldn’t YOU be surprised to see these two walking up your driveway, come into your house and sing this little song:

Be thankful unto Him, and bless His name,
Bless His name, bless His name 
Be thankful unto Him and bless His name,
For the Lord is good!
Psalm 100:4

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sweet Little Pumpkins made by my sweet little pumpkins!

Isn’t this the cutest little fall pumpkin decoration you ever saw? 
My little farmhands made it!  And it’s so easy that your sweet little pumpkin can make one too… as long as you have extra toilet paper around that is…
That’s right!  I belong to a really great group of mommy friends and one of the ladies showed us how to make this pumpkin out of toilet paper!  (Thanks, Candice!)  Here’s how you do it:
104-0494_IMG First, lay a large orange square of fabric out and place the roll of toilet paper in the middle.  (Note:  if the fabric is about 18” you can make 4 squares with 1 yard.  Also, the double rolls of toilet paper make a cuter, fuller pumpkin than regular rolls, but regular rolls will work fine if that’s what you have.)
104-0495_IMGNext, tuck the fabric into the hole in the toilet paper roll.  Tuck it far down so you can get all the fabric in there.
104-0498_IMGNext, lay a scrap of brown or green fabric across the top.  This will be a “leaf”.
104-0499_IMGNow you’re ready to make the stem!  Take a brown paper  lunch bag and cut it in half lengthwise like this:
104-0493_IMGNow take one half and just sort of crumple and twist so it looks like this.  Then fold it in half:
104-0500_IMG Then put the “stem” into the hole!
105-0501_IMG And now you have a great fall addition for either your kitchen or your bathroom!

(It just occurred to me that this craft might not have been my friend’s original idea.  If not and you know the original source, please leave a comment so I can give credit where credit is due!)

Pears, Pears, Pears!

Well, I think I’ve come to the last of the canning for this year.  My friend Carol (from the farm "Moss Gathers" in Celina, Texas) and I struck a deal.  She has a couple of big pear trees.  She picked the pears, gave them to me and I canned them and then give her half the pears back.  We did this a couple of times throughout the summer.  Last week I think I canned the last for this year.  I just peeled them, diced them and then put them in jars with white grape juice.  Mmmm, yummy!
It was a lot of work (and there’s a possibility that she got the better end of this deal!) but I am so looking forward to trying these this winter!104-0490_IMG
Oh, and then, because I am cheap and I don’t like anything to go to waste, I did one last jar of blended pear peels.  Honestly, they don’t taste that great, but maybe I can use them in a recipe instead of apple sauce.
During our garage sale last week we met one of our neighbors who we had never met before.  (That’s because for most of the time we have lived here I have been home alone, pregnant or with a newborn plus other young children and no car.  So I haven’t gone out much and I haven’t met many people!)  Anyway, this neighbor saw that we had children and asked if we would like some pears from their pear tree.  They have so many pears they don’t know what to do with them all! 
104-0473_IMGTalk about melting in your mouth!  I don’t know what’s so special about these pears, but they are delicious!  I’m allergic to apples and so over the years I’ve eaten a lot of pears… These are hands-down the tastiest pears I’ve ever tried!  We really enjoyed them!  Thank you, neighbor!  We plan to invite him to participate in our fruit  CSA next spring!
(CSA is short for Community Supported Agriculture.  Members of The Good Old Days Farm will receive a weekly box of home grown fruit or vegetables throughout the season)

Garage Sale!

You may have noticed that my blogging has been… well… sporadic lately.  That’s because for the past few weeks I’ve been gearing up for and then having a garage sale!  The night before the garage sale I told Papa the Farmer “NEVER AGAIN!” It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been fun.  So now I think I probably will do it again. 

Getting ready was a whole-family affair.  Buying pre-made Garage Sale signs would have been expensive (we needed several) so the little farmhands made our signs all by themselves!  Well, ok.  Not ALL by themselves.  Papa the farmer drew the letters and they colored the letters in with marker.  Bad idea!  The little farmhands are only allowed to use washable markers, so after it rained in the middle of our sale (Murphy’s Law!) we decided to paint the letters on.  Still, I think the signs turned out pretty good:


(Sorry that the sign is crumpled.  I had to pull this one out of the trash after the sale in order to take a picture!)
Anyway, after all the work was done, the garage sale turned out to be lots of fun!  For 3 out of the 4 years we’ve lived here I’ve been a stay at home mom with no car, so I haven’t really met anybody.  I got to meet so many fun country people!  A lot of the “old timers” from town came and left and came back and left and generally spent a lot of time heckling each other!  Hanging out at our garage sale was a little bit like hanging out at an old-time barber shop!  I was surprised, some of our “customers” came three times in the same day, others stayed for up to 2 hours!  I enjoyed that part of it the most!

The previous owners of this house left a lot of unidentifiable things in the workshops and so we sold some of that in addition to usual garage sale stuff.  Papa the Farmer put all that “man cave” stuff out on a table and I put other items up on the porch.  (I was so thankful for our big porch!  When it rained for 2 days in the middle of sale, all the stuff stayed dry!)

There were two things about having a country garage sale that really surprised me. 

#1 – I had a whole bookshelf full of books for sale.  A lot of people took one look and said, “I never read.”  IS THAT POSSIBLE?  Obviously it is, or they wouldn’t have said it, but as a homeschooling  mom I can’t get my head around that.  I could understand if someone said, “I don’t want to read those particular books” but “I never read”???  Come on!  As my neighbor put it:  isn’t there anything in the world you are curious about?

#2 – One man who stopped by our sale a couple of times was a Black man who lives nearby.  Now, I had heard a rumor that a long time ago, our little town used to be the local headquarters for the Ku Klux Klan.  But he told me that THEY STILL MEET!  That shocked me.  I have no idea if it’s true.  I’m just telling you what he said.

Anyway, it was a good, interesting, fun and profitable experience.  If you’re thinking about hosting your own garage sale, I say “Go for it!”  I’m already looking forward to doing it again next year!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Let the Voting Begin!

Wow!  We are so excited!!!
(2 of the little farmhands doing their best to “look excited!”)  =)

Each year "The Homeschool Post" holds Homeschool blog awards.  Blogs are nominated to win in various categories.  This year, WE have been nominated in the category of “Best New Homeschool Blog.”  We aren’t strictly a homeschool blog, but we do a lot of homeschooling here, so we qualify for the nomination!

I was a bit preoccupied with everything going on here and only just realized we have been nominated.  If you like what you see, please head over here and vote for us!  Just scroll down the page and you will see “Good Old Days Family Farm” in the list.  What a great way to get the word out that our little farm is here!  Voting closes tomorrow (Thursday) at midnight! 

If you enjoy this blog, we’d appreciate your vote.  Each person in your home can vote once.  And while you’re on the Homeschool Post site, take a look at some of the other sites that have been nominated for the various categories.  There are some super-talented bloggers out there!


Recently one of the little farmhands had a birthday.  As part of the festivities, we watched a National Geographic video about volcanoes.  (Ok, you might think that is strange, but when you have a lot of testosterone flowing through a very tiny body… well, volcano videos are a big deal!)

Well, the volcano bug has bitten!  We love volcanoes!  I mean, is there anything better than an exploding mountain the birthday boy has decided that life will not be complete unless he can grow up to fly a helicopter so that he can look down into volcanoes, and maybe climb down a few, too.  (Mama is not exactly happy about this ambition!)

Now in case you’ve never seen a volcano close up, the little farmhands have painted one for you:


Then a week or so after the birthday Papa the Farmer scored this at the thrift store:

$5 for a reusable volcano lab.  We prefer to call it “Mount Saint Helens.” 

It comes with a plastic cone and some plaster to make the volcano:

Here you can see we are painting it green for trees and that bit of blue on the far left is “Spirit Lake.”    We added white paint at the top to represent snow. (Yes, some volcanoes have snow at the top – how strange is that?!)  We put baking soda in that space at the top and hooked up a little tube to start pumping in the vinegar…

It started to bubble…

And bubble!

Here are some pictures of our little students seriously studying the eruption:
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Wow!  Did you see that?