Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Christmas with Family

The month of December was a busy one!  The Children’s Ministry at church participated in the Hot Springs Christmas Parade.  It was a Charlie Brown theme.  Joy was Lucy, Paige was Patty (Not peppermint) and Jack was one of many Woodstocks.  


The parade was really fun to watch, I was impressed.

We finally cut down our Christmas tree!

  Since we moved in we have been saying, “This will be our Christmas tree.”  (It was right on the site of my parent’s future home so it had go eventually anyway.)  

I have been looking forward to it for a long time.  

  I love the way it looks and I loved not spending $100 on one from Lowes. 

Let it be documented that Claire put the star on top this year, and next year it will be Joy’s turn.

Usually, we would have thrown our tree out by now, but it is still up and I am reluctant to take it down.

We enjoyed some local theatre in our living room this month.

And also kept up our peanut butter ball making tradition.

For Christmas, Josh’s parent drove all the way out from Phoenix to spend it with us!   We were so excited to see Grandma and Grandpa after 9 months! 

They rented an AirBnb on Lake Hamilton so they would have space and be able to let their dogs roam. 

We, of course, had to take them to the usual Hot Springs tourist sites and enjoyed some unseasonably warm weather for the first part of their visit.

We walked/shopped downtown, 

visited the look out,

 stuck our hands in the Hot Springs, 

and ate at Grateful Head.  The weather was so nice we were able to sit outside and I was not cold!

For Christmas Eve they joined us for our church's Christmas Eve service and our tamale feast tradition afterward.

On Christmas, we of course opened presents, ate, and hung out.

They decorated Grandma's famous Christmas cookies.

Made stepping stones,

Played games in the yard. (It was 76 degrees!)

Played with the little dog babies.

They got to hear Josh preach the Sunday after Christmas and then the regular pastor the following Sunday.

The kids took turns having their special sleepovers at the AirBnb and shopping and eating out with Grandma and Grandpa (which is a huge treat) and then on New Year’s Eve, they all four spent the night.  

We went to Morrison's Homemade Fried Pies (my first time) and they were SO good!  I cannot wait to go back and get another!

The last few days of the visit we were blasted with arctic cold and a chance of snow.  We just had fog, and rain though for a few of days which hindered some of our plans. 

  But our creek is flowing again and the pond is quite full.

Let it be remembered that on New Year's Day 2022, it was warm enough to play in the creek.... well, by some people's standards.

It was a tearful goodbye as Grandma and Grandpa left,  they are still making their way home.  This next year, for either Thanksgiving or around Christmas, we will make the trek.  

As we get back into the swing of things and our normal routines, I can't help but think of what we were doing at the last new year.  How much can change in a year! 

For 2022 I have big plans, plans for sheep and goats, bunnies and farmer's markets, canning and trying new things in the garden.  I can't wait until spring!


Monday, December 20, 2021

A Homestead Update

 Here is a “catching up” on the day-to-day happenings here in the last few months.

The garden:

The summer garden continued to thrive well into October but the tomatoes finally met their end at the frost which hit during the first week of November.

Jack’s pumpkins failed miserably due to squash bugs and vine borers so I replanted them in a different location in August.  

They did much better and we enjoyed a small pumpkin harvest in November.

We got a fun little crop of sweet potatoes which was surprising because I planted them very very late.

In September, we planted the fall garden.  I have mentioned how we were solarizing a large space within the fenced garden area to plant a no-till garden. 

I felt pressure to get the plants in the ground asap because I had started the seeds indoors in the only place available – our master bathroom over the useless tub - and they were outgrowing their seed starting trays. Plus, we just wanted them out of the bathroom. 

We worked extremely hard and got it in at what I thought was “Late” but then we continued to have temperatures in the high 80’s for another 6 weeks so all of the lettuce bolted and the other brassicas were not happy.   

My dad set up a drip tape irrigation system for it so we don’t have to hand water the garden if there is a dry spell. 

In the rows we planted Row 1: Green Cabbage,  2:  Brussels Sprouts 3: Red cabbage, 4: Brussels sprouts, 5: Green cabbage, 6: a mixture of all leftover plants including some broccoli.  

I also had this bed of broccoli.

We painstakingly found and carried each and every one of those stones up from the creek.   The creek dried up completely this summer so it was easy to get to the rocks. However, there were a few times when I flipped one over there was a cottonmouth or copperhead underneath.  It made rock hunting more exciting.

The cats LOVE the garden and are so funny the way they politely stay on the walkways.

 (at least while we are watching) 

They have caught several mice and moles in the garden.

Once the weather finally cooled down,  the plants started to do well and the cabbages are actually heading!  

The broccoli did not produce much even though the plants were huge. 

and the Brussels sprouts – well, we are still waiting on them. 

There are wild, green onions growing randomly within the garden – at first that bothered me but I just let them be and they have contributed to dinners a few times now.


My dad found that bees had made a hive in our barn.  I was so excited because we want to get bees in the spring so how lucky that they already made a hive!  Wrong!  We borrowed some bee keeping supplies from my friend from church and my dad and I braved the barn.  

Unfortunately, the bees turned out to be yellow jackets – aggressive ones at that, so we got rid of their nest. 

I did not get stung but it was weird watching the bees deliberately attack us but their stingers couldn’t get through the gloves.

My dad did get stung because he did the exterminating.

We also discovered bats living in the barn.  They were pretty cool.  They have moved on now but I am sure they’ll be back.


The pond:

The pond dried up quite a bit this summer.   So much so that it is more of a large puddle.  My dad is working to clear the edges of all the brush and debris before it fills up again in the spring.  

There are small fish in there and frogs, and turtles.  Amazingly no snakes have been spotted. My parents are going to clean it out and aerate it with a solar pump.   Someday, in the not too distant future, it will be a nice pond.



Our chickens finally started laying in late October. (Literally the day after we butchered the meat chickens – coincidence?)  They lay a beautiful array of colorful eggs. 

We get about 20 a day so as you can imagine, we have a ton of eggs.   We keep the clean, bigger, prettier ones to sell, and the rest we keep on the counter to eat.   Unwashed eggs don’t have to be refrigerated.  I will start water glassing them soon but for now we have been able to sell any excess.  We have had two farm stand sales down at the road and sell them there but we leave this egg sign up whenever we are home. 

Just this morning our regular egg customer drove up and bought 11 dozen! 

We are very fond of our girls and the two roosters, Kyle 

and Jacque Pierre. 

  Jacque needs to find a new home.  He is rooster number 2 and Kyle doesn’t like him. 

Some of the chickens look different and we can tell them apart so they have names.

Becky – she  has the bad hair


The Hawk



The 4 fluffy cochins are named Plumette, Odette, Annette, and Lizette but no one knows who is who.

The rest we call “One of the red ones" or "small grey ones"


We did a lot of fence repair and removal in the late summer.  

The weird, wedding arbor thing out front with the lattice backdrop in the woods was taken down (shown in this picture) 

and we fixed/repainted the fence white. 

Then we replaced a falling apart wire fence with the same wood style as the font and painted it to match the deck.

We also sanded and painted the propane tank.

The kids' play area had fencing cutting it off from the rest of the yard.

 It was very awkward so my dad ripped it out and took out a tree so that we can cut through the yard that way.  

We also had to fix the planter that was there so it looks a lot better too.

We moved, remodeled, improved and painted the kids play structure. My parents remade it for them so they bought new equipment for a more ninja type course and two play tents,  one for the top and one for the bottom so the kids can sleep out there.






The sink drains in the bathroom started making bubbling sounds when someone was in the shower and the toilets were slow to flush so we got really scared and called a septic co. to come and pump it out.  We have never had one before so it has worried us – especially since we don’t know for sure when it was pumped last.  We had a general idea of where it was but I had to dig quite a bit to find and uncover the lid.

  It was pumped and is good to go for another 4ish years.

The kitchen is 99.99% complete and we are currently finishing up the kids bedroom renovation of changing 2 rooms into 3.   It will be done before the new year!



My friend Jenni from AZ and her family came out and stayed with of in early November.  It was SO fun to have them here.

Everyone had their respective friend and we had a great time – despite a cold front that made for some frigid days.

We went to Diamond Crater and looked for diamonds. 

It was a strange experience.


Mostly boring and we did not find anything even close to a diamond.

We took them to stick their hands in the hot springs which is a must for all visitors 

and walked the promenade behind bath house row which I had never done before.

Jenni helped me rip out all of the summer garden that had frozen and we planted 90 cloves of garlic.

We made some sauerkraut that did not work out and in general just had a lovely time.


Random things



Super fat caterpillars that fall from the tree and sometimes land on you:

A poor watermelon caught in the trellis:

Fall was beautiful:


The doggos are a joy, we love them so much:

We are enjoying the changing of the seasons for the first time in our lives.  I never realized how diverse they could be but each one has it's own beauty.