Monday, October 4, 2021

Double Baptism

We enjoyed a special Sunday this weekend!  Josh baptized both Joy and Paige at our church's big, outdoor service.

Claire read their testimonies, while Jack was more interested in the drone capturing overhead video.   

3 John 1:4
 I have no greater joy then to hear that my
    children are walking in the truth.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Project: Deck Restore

 We have knocked out some serious projects around here in the past month.  I feel like our house is nice enough to have people over at this point!

 Since the day we bought this house I have dreaded refinishing the deck.  It was in terrible shape, it wraps around the house with different levels, the sides of the deck are just wood literally going down to the ground and touching the always moist dirt and bottoms of those boards were green and rotting and looked awful.

Josh was in Arizona for the week to visit his family and to go to our friend's wedding so my parents and I went ahead and tried our best to get the deck done before he got home. 

Prepping the deck.

 I used a saws-all to cut along the bottom of the sides to cut off the rotting wood that was touching the ground.  

Then we cut 8in by 12ft hardy board (cement boards that look like wood) in half so they were 4in by 12 ft.   We hung the hardy boards all along the bottom of the sides making a clean edge that will not rot. 


Next, we replaced several of the rail uprights.  

Then my mom used wood filler on most of the boards that were in really bad shape to fill in holes, or cracks. There were a few oily spots also that she painted over with a special primer.  

The previous owners had replaced a section of the deck boards really, really poorly, so my dad had to undo what they had done and redid it correctly.   He also replaced a few deck boards that were rotting.  The previous owners also used 4 different kinds of screws on this deck so we never knew if we needed a Philips, star, small star, or a square bit. You can imagine our frustration having to switch drill bits so often throughout this project.  I could go on a rant about how absolutely ludicrous it is that different kinds of screw heads even exist, seriously, why couldn’t they just all by Philips? Or squares?  Pick one and let it be universal! But I will suppress my rage and not go off on that tangent.

While doing all of this, we noticed that the front deck had a big hump in it and that one corner of it was way lower than the rest.   My dad was able to jack it up at the corner and somehow leveled out the hump.  It is impressively level now! I am mad that I don't have a picture of this in progress. 

We spent a long time sanding every inch of the deck to dull the top layer of paint and smooth out our wood filler patches.

Then we had to clean the deck really well and that meant running a tool down the length of every.single.crack to clear out any rocks, acorns, tree debris, etc that was stuck.  We finished this job just in the nick of time.  The fall leaves were just beginning to drop on the deck.  If we had waited another week, it would have never been leaf free.

My dad reconstructed these back steps.  Previously, they were, well, loose and crooked for one thing, but also open so the dogs would lie under the stairs and get dirty and gross. The cats used it as a litter box so flies congregated around the door there.  

It looks a million times nicer.

Painting the deck – Finally it was time to paint!  We chose to go with Cabot Deck Correct on the top surface of the deck and Cabot Solid Stain on the railings and sides of the deck.  It comes as a tint-able base.  We chose the color "New Redwood".   I was pleased that both products were EXACTLY the same color after being mixed.  This project took 10 gallons of Deck Correct and 6 gallons of the solid stain.

 The deck correct has a sandy texture so the deck will not be so slick when it rains. It was also supposed to cover any flaws and imperfections but it definitely did not.  I'm glad we were so thorough in our prepping.

  The solid stain was basically paint.  You cannot see any wood grain through it.  (which is what we were going for)

I used a paint sprayer for the rails.  It was a life saver but it also was a pain in the neck! 

Every time I had to refill the tank, (which was several times) it would not work correctly and paint would spit out of the nozzle in big drops.  I figured out a cleaning ritual that seemed to make it happy so it wasn’t so bad once I figured it out. Thankfully, this was a one coat deal.

The deck paint was supposed to fill in cracks and flaws up to ¼ in wide.  It did not.   We had to take a paint brush and jam the paint into any cracks and then roll over it. Because of this, the painting took longer than anticipated.  

We had to do two coats and then go back and brush between each of the boards. 

What a huge relief to have to project done!  It is such a major improvement to the overall look of the house!





And here are some random after pictures:

What a HUGE relief to have this done!  I am really happy with the way it turned out!  I think all future projects will be easy from here on out.  I can't imagine one being more labor intense as this was.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Two New Additions!

We have two new additions to the homestead!

Years ago, when my desire for a homestead was just beginning, I knew that I wanted a Great Pyrenees dog.   They are livestock guardian dogs and they want nothing more than to be with the animals they are protecting.  Often times, you CAN’T bring them in the house as all they would do it worry and stress about their “herd” outside.  .  

They are big, beautiful, outdoor, working dogs – that’s my kind of dog.

I almost bought a Great Pyrenees puppy a few months ago but Lance was still a puppy himself and we were so busy getting settled and working on projects that HAD to get done that I decided to wait.  I saw how hard and time consuming it was to train Lance and I knew that Great Pyrenees are even harder to train so I put that desire on hold.   I knew we needed to get something to guard our goats when we get them in the spring.   I have been told that donkeys are great for protecting goats from predators and then I heard that llamas are even better.  I thought, “Cool, we’ll just get a llama.”  Do you know how much llamas cost!?  Thousands of dollars!   Who knew?


Well, last month our friends who own the off-road park asked me if we would consider taking their two GPs.   Because the park has guest and events it just wasn’t ideal for the dogs to be able to roam.  GPs are known for wondering far from home and not staying on the property so we took them for a trial period to make sure they would not just leave or wander into the street.  We are pretty remote but cars fly down the main road and the last thing I wanted was for the dogs to wander down to the road get hit by a car.

 They are also known to not listen and be very hard to train.   They have a job to do that is more important than your requests for them to "come" or "stay".   Humans' silly requests are secondary to their job.

Just a few days into their trial period we fell in love with them.  They are gentle giants.   The best word to describe them is solemn.

They lie around most of the day, (trying to keep cool or waiting for belly rubs) but right around dinner time, as the sun is setting, they come alive and take their patrol posts.   One sits in the front yard and the other one sits at the crossroads of the house/trailer/hog barn area.  When they hear a suspicious sound, they go together to check it out and bark at it for the next 20 minutes.

They bark a lot at night but it is a low bark that is pleasant. (as dogs barking goes)   We don’t notice it much,  we have always slept with sound machines so we don’t hear them in middle of the night.

Having these two have enabled us to get our meat chickens much more easily.  

I feel pretty safe putting the chicks out in the chicken tractor since they will be guarded at night.  Already, one of the dogs killed this opossum who was probably thinking he would have a chicken snack.

We now have 5 cats, 3 dogs, and 45 chickens!  That makes me wonder what we’ll have a year from now....

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Our Covid Time Out

Welp, Covid found us.  Even all the way out here in Arkansas.

Right before VBS (which was cancelled) several of our church members and leaders got sick with covid.  Josh was tested because he had been around so many people that were positive.  We were a little suprised when the test came back positive because he had zero symptoms at the time but a day later he started to feel poorly for about 3 days – nausea, congestion.   I got it in the form of losing ALL sense of taste and smell but felt 100% normal in all other ways.   I would have preferred to feel bad for a few days over not being able to taste my morning coffee!  (It came back after just 1 week - I was expecting two)  It is the strangest and most annoying sensation.  I am grateful though that we had mild cases of it, which I believe has a lot to do with our overall healthy lifestyles and vitamin regimen we started right away.  (large amounts of C, D Zinc, and Quercetin,) and also the use of a nebulizer with a hydrogen peroxide solution in it.  (It’s highly recommended among the science that has been censored regarding covid.)  

Anyway, we are stuck at home for a few more days, My parents don’t come in our house and we keep a distance outside.   The timing was particularly bad (for me) because my dad had just finished taking out all of the cement counter tops but had not had a chance to install the new counter tops so we are using the kitchen with plastic tablecloths covering the naked cabinets. (at least there was a board under the cement)

The kids have been swimming a lot. 

We started school as planned since there is nothing better to do.

Jack is starting Kindergarten (slowly – he is just not very ready; as in literally 0 desire to learn. We are still working on his ABC song)

Paige started 3rd

Joy started 5th

Claire started 8th.

I am so loving not having to worry about work while we try to do school.  I actually know what they are doing now.  After covid my mom will be able to help too!

My garden continues to produce and it seems like every other day I get another 5 lbs of tomatoes and cucumber and beans.   I had a huge 20 lb watermelon that was about a week away from being ripe but we had some heavy rain and it exploded with a  huge crack right down the middle.

BUT…. We got our first cantaloupe!  I couldn't taste it but every else said it was really good. We've picked 2 more since.

I canned some jalapeƱos for the first time!

Jack’s pumpkins are really struggling.  Every time there is a female flower it turns yellow and dies before it is even big enough to bloom and get pollinated.   I did discover that there is an evil, evil bug here called the vine borer and it flies in, lays its eggs on the plant, the eggs hatch and the little grubs burrow into the stem of the vine. 

Then they eat their way down the center of it and destroy it from the inside out.   I have surgically removed several of these guys out of the stems.   Super maddening.

I keep track of all of the produce we bring in from the garden.   Here are the stats for just the month of July.

Tomatoes 44.25 lbs
Cucumbers (119) 87.5lbs
Beans 15.62 lbs
Cantaloupe (2) 10.5lbs
Zucchini 5.43 lbs

That’s 163.3lbs of food!  We brought in 37.37 lb in June is that's 200lbs!

I started the fall garden in our bathroom by building make shift shelves over that ridiculous bath tub alcove.   There are a few different varieties of brussels sprouts, cabbage, lettuce, broccoli and spinach.


Random pictures of strange things in Arkansas:

Luna Moth


Dragonflies:  Oh my goodness,  we have not had any mosquitoes!  We credit the thousands of dragonflies that continually patrol the yard.  It’s so neat to look out and see armies of dragonflies gobbling up those mosquitoes.

Extremely friendly butterflies.

Horsehair Worms.

Oh, and tent worms!


We found some tent worm webs in one of our trees so my mom and I cut them down,


Burned the web, collected the caterpillars,

and fed them to the chickens. 


Speaking of chicken food, my dad and I have been working outside on a strange/gross project.  (Okay, well, I came up with the idea and my dad built all.) If it works,  I will be proudly sharing that on here.  

Friday, July 16, 2021

1 Project Complete! Family Visit


The kids' bathroom is complete!

This was by far the most frustrating project we have done to date.   Everything that could go wrong did.  The closest Lowes or Home Depot is 20 minutes away and in those final days before my brother and his family came,  I found myself driving to one of them at least once a day.

My dad installed the tub, added all of the wonderboard for us to tile on, fixed the electrical that was definitely not to code,

installed a vent fan because there wasn’t even a hole for one! (How can you have a bathroom without a vent fan?!  Our master bath doesn’t have one either!)  Hooked up the sink, etc.

My mom and I tiled the tub, repaired and painted the walls, installed the flooring, 

painted the existing vanity, installed the wainscoting, etc.   

It was a pain,  but we got it done!   I am so happy with how it turned out.  It is the one and only room in this house that feels clean and done.

Before: This picture makes it look pretty good - it is from the house listing. Watch my house tour to see how gross it was. 


My parents wanted to put up a pool before Steve and Michelle came.  Poppy spent many hours making sure it was level.


  The kids love it and they spend a lot of time in it on the 90 degree days.

 They also love jumping on the trampoline with the sprinkler on to keep cool.


Steve and Michelle and the boys arrived after a loooong drive.  Jack was especially happy to see his guy cousins.   They slept in my parents trailer and my parents stayed in Paige and Jack's room.

The kids played, 


 we played chicken foot,

and took them to see the Hot Springs and feel the water (thrills galore).  

We got season passes to Magic Springs and with our tickets also got enough free passes to take S&M’s family and also enough to go with Bryan and Rachel next time they come.  What a fun place!  It’s a water park and amusement park in one.  The kids love it,  I love it.  We have gone 3 times in the last 2 weeks.  (There are some big rollercoasters - it is very similar to Knotts Berry Farm and Sunsplash)

Paige and Joy had been at church camp the week before they got here so we also celebrated Paigey’s 8th birthday while they were here.


On the 4th of July we went to a church member’s property and had an excellent view of fireworks.  Probably the best I’ve seen in many many years.   It was 75 degrees out as we waited for them to start.  I got chilly!  On the fourth of July!  I love it here.

Blackberry season is in full swing.

I have always had an overly romanticized idea of what picking blackberries would be like.  Don’t get me wrong,  I like to do it, not because it is enjoyable, (because it is not) but because I am in awe of how blessed we are that we have unlimited blackberries on our property and that all we have to do it go out and pick them. 


The kids do not like to pick blackberries so I give them each a measuring cup and tell them they have to fill it up twice before we can go back to the house.   

It’s an ordeal to get ready to go picking.  Long pants, snake boots, arm guard for the picking arm, gloves for the holding back branch hand, bug spray, tick repellent and duct tape around your waist to keep the bugs from getting in.  (I did not do this the first time and I kid you not, I had 32 bites below the waist. – yeah, still feeling the effects from that one)

I have canned 16, ½ pints of jam and it is delicious.  Especially in place of syrup on pancakes and French toast.

The garden continues to produce copious amounts of cucumbers.  

We have harvested 84 lbs of cucumbers and I have become somewhat comfortable with canning pickles and relish.   We did taste them now and they are SO good!  

I make sweet and spicy pickles – not dill.   My dad seems to especially like them. 

Beans are now maturing and need to be picked again and canned. 

I have not yet broken out the pressure canner.  That will be happening next week I imagine.  Nothing makes me feel as homesteady as canning.  I love it and am terrified of it at the same time.   I need more jars.

 This is a potato flower.  I had never seen one before.

The tomatoes are turning red and the zucchini, seems to be picking up speed now that I tied them up vertically.

The first cantaloupes are just about ready.

Watermelons are getting big.

Hornworms have been present but manageable.  I get a thrill from finding those jerks and feeding them to the chickens.

The garden is officially secure. 

 It is surrounded by 8ft deer fencing.

We have a friendly snake that we have spotted several times.  He likes to sun himself on a roll of wire fence.  He is frequently found there although the other day the kids and I came across him right in front of us in the pathway.

The projects continue to keep everyone busy.  The kitchen is currently under construction as my dad is painstakingly taking off the cement  counters and getting it ready to put on the new ones.  I can't wait!

This next week we have VBS!  I am planning the snacks as usual and the registration numbers keep climbing! It will be hectic but I am looking forward to it.