Thursday, March 26, 2015

Morning Focus

The morning bed covers reached around me and were the perfect kind of warm this morning.
I hear kids rustling, making tea, the sun peeks into my window, and fresh air blows in calling me out of my little nest.

I have the chance to settle in and read the Word with a cup of tea, and golden pops of spring in a lime jar looking at me.
 Sending a sweet smell my way.

Mindful... for a few seconds before my day's focus changes.
It's my way of charging up for the day.
My first fuel.

Live life then with a due sense of responsibility, not as women who do not know the meaning and purpose of life, but as those who do. Make the best use of your time, despite all of the evils of these days. Don't be vague, but grasp firmly what you know to be the will of the Lord.
Ephesians 5:15-17

We're supposed to live purposely and timely, with a focus in life.
And for me that never comes without praying about nearly everything. 
If we haven't chosen what we are living for, we are living in default.
Running here and there, space taken up by the many duties and activities, bending to other people's agendas, and the pressures of life.
It's a faulty focus that I am so guilty of chastising.
But never is it too late to change focus.

So this morning, I sit in the quiet,
I search.
And take time to pen down my focus.
What do I want my life to feel like, look like?
How do my actions speak to others? 
What do I want my life to look like at 50....at 80?
How can I pattern my life after women that I admire?

These words came to mind as to how I want to live: 
content, clearly, patiently, kind, purposefully, creatively, and faithfully.

It's a start and a place to grow from.
Always the growing and learning who I am supposed to be a midst all of my failures.
It's good to know we are fresh and forgiven every new morning.
Brand spanking new.
Ready to be shaped into the person God has in mind.

Wishing you all a lovely Spring day friends!

~Julia



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Working Cows with Grandma



Spring is here and with it all of the outside meanderings that must get done.
We work the cows each Spring and this year had a little extra help....from Grandma!

Darren's Mom came over for a couple of lovely days and it was such a treat!
She lives in Alaska and we are always happy to have a visit.
 We inoculate the cows against certain strains of bacteria that can make them sick and then de-worm them.
It keeps them super healthy and happy.
Soon, they will be AI'd {artificially inseminated} and they need to be in great shape.
We had to work cows yesterday and Grandma was game to join in!





Grandma ran the shoot.
She was a natural :)

 The day was beautiful and windy, crisp with a warm sun on your back.
But my nose and ears were cold.
The little red calves waited patiently for their turn to get shots.




And now we wait.
In a few weeks those Mama's will be pregnant and a new crop of babies will come in the new year.
Our son is a researcher when it comes to genetics and it is always fun to see his calves grow.






 Wishing you a lovely Spring day!
What kind of Spring things are happening at your place?

~Julia


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Outside

Outside.
Much has happened as of late.
Spring came tumbling in and the small green spears of daffodils broke into a yellow pop of glory.


I dig and edge and plant more here and there.
The tidy and well kept plants are growing well.
Roses are sprouting mint green leaves and I am pouring over information on how to care for 6 new varieties.


The rich garden soil has been tilled again...for the third time.
Onions, peas, and spinach are in the ground.
We wait for a bit and then the other crops will be joining them in neat rows.


We see potential and then progress!
Always I am changing things up a bit.
But just being outside, breathing in an almost sweet aroma on the air, the rosy, ruddy cheeks that the kids wear....it's good.

My Dutch Grandma always said rosy cheeks were a sign of health!



The steers have been clipped and are ready for their first show.
They are so gentled and love to be worked with, I think Tim will have an easy go of it.

The Mama's and babies are doing well.


I think the calves feel Spring in their bones and jump about all day long.


And this face....
It has me in stitches.
This is how Bessie greets you in the pasture...almost like she is talking.









To be in the warm sun, listening to the cows bawl, the birds twittering and flitting, the sound of tractors harrowing....could it get any better?



Wishing you a lovely weekend!
Are you doing anything outside, too?

~Julia

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Best Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies {Gluten Free}

My troop is growing and are ever famished.
These were slated to come out of the oven the other day, and I think half of the gooey goodness disappeared before they made their way to the domed cake platter on the counter.

I thought I should share this lovely recipe with you.
Healthy and filling, they make a great afternoon treat.


I can't take the cake for these.
My good friend, Anne Marie of Nada Farm, came up with the recipe.
She has since quit blogging {I miss her} so I can't link to the original recipe.
The cookies are a real treat and are gluten free and an optional sugar free!


The Best Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 cups peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar or 1 cup Truvia
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips {you can use a stevia sweetened brand called Lily's}
1/2 cup chopped pecans {optional}

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat together sugar, peanut butter, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.

In a small bowl mix together the oats and baking soda. Add to the sugar mixture and incorporate.

Fold in chocolate chips and optional pecans.

This dough is sticky! To place on baking sheets, use a spoon to scoop batter and push off with your finger about 2 inches apart on the sheet.

Bake until edges are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Take out of oven and let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Then cool completely on a cookie rack.

These keep well for a week in an air tight container...if they last that long!

I freeze mine, too....for up to 4 months.





Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Passing Moments




This life.
Sometimes I feel like I am pressed for time no matter what I do. 
I scramble here and there, trying to get it all done.
This morning we were late to school.
{We have a couple in school this year.}
Their dear, dear teacher was commenting that she was running behind because she had to wait for a train...and a looong red light.




Instead of getting uptight she just cranked up the music and relaxed.
Nothing could be done about the situation, so why not enjoy the time?
I love her thoughts.

I had to reply that we were late because there were 4 elk in with the cows and calves this morning.
When I came out to the car, all my children were in the back pasture taking pictures!

 But instead of seeing it as a hindrance, it was such a blessing to behold a glorious sight.
How often to you see huge animals meandering along with your cattle....who seem to not even notice they have ginormous visitors?


This life right here, right now....it's where the good stuff happens.

I have to remind myself to slow down and look for those moments that are gems in the day.
Life is always busy.
But there really is time to enjoy the little things.
The big things and the little things.
To focus and be present, not lost in the next thing on the agenda.
Carving out and clearing a spot to relax and savor the time.
I find that most memorable moments, you know, the ones you talk about for years and years...
they took seconds to happen, maybe minutes.

So why not stop and completely enjoy the moments in the day that might seem like a hindrance....but unfold as a blessing.

They are there if you look :)

Wishing you a bright day with moments filled with joy.

~Julia

Monday, March 9, 2015

Planting Peas

Peas are one of the easiest things to grow.
They sprout and grow fast.
Before you know it you are crunching on crisp pods right off the vine.

This year I am trying a new method of planting.
Something to help with the weed control.
The last few years, I feel like I am spending too much time on those weeds and not enough on the harvesting.
So much went to waste last year because I just plain ran out of time.

So, here is my trial run with weed fabric.
I  hope to share it all with you in an effort to see where I succeed and where I fail!

I decided peas were one crop that I really struggle keeping weed free. 
They seem to get out of control just as the peas start to pop up with their button round leaves.

Until the plants are large, floppy, and bearing flowers, I feel like it is a feat to keep them fairly free of weeds.

So, here are the particulars on my attempt ...

I cut a four foot section of weed fabric.

Mine is a felt- like fabric that I was able to glean from sister and brother in law....who is in construction, 

{Similar HERE}

I laid out enough to cover a 48 ft. row in soil I had tilled and prepared.
I know that is huge and some of you may not have a garden that big!

Using small wire stakes, I overlapped the fabric and hammered the stakes in.
My plan is to treat the four foot section like a square foot garden.
{Similar stakes HERE}

Three rows about a foot apart, planted three weeks apart.

I just used scissors {because I couldn't find my Exacto knife} to cut a slit all the way down one side, with about 6 inches to spare on the outside.

In three weeks, I will cut another slit to plant in about a foot from the first, and then a third planting row in 6 weeks.

Then, using more of the wire stakes, I made sure the fabric was secure on both sides of the opening.


I left about a 2 inch wide gap to plant in.

The seeds were spaced about 2 inches apart, and I gave them a good amount of water.

Now I wait.
Wait for the first signs of lime green budding out of the earth.

And here is to hoping weed control will be a wee bit easier!

Wishing you a lovely start to the week!

~Julia


Friday, March 6, 2015

On the Farm This Week...

It has been a warm, sunny week with cool nights.
The mornings feel like almost-frost and the days bring on short sleeved shirts.




The first signs of yellow are popping through, their faces barely open to the warm.

Little calves romp and play along the fence as I walk the field each evening. 
Their curious brown eyes wide with wonder. 
As soon as I get close they all leap, tails straight in the air.




There are softball tryouts and lots of practicing, and kite flying in the warm breeze.



Peas are almost planted and onions are next to go into the ground.


My Floret sweet pea seeds came. Sooo excited about those new varieties!
Just being outside in the dirt is plain lovely.


Life.
It's busy as Spring comes.

Sometimes my head is reeling with all that the day holds.
As the kids get older, I find we are busier and busier.
Going outside, though, just relieves that anxiety.
There is something about fresh Spring air that does wonders for the brain.
I think it is a necessity for our well-being.

Clears the cobwebs and refreshes your mind!

Here is to a lovely day friends!

~Julia

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Garden Plans...My Detailed Plans and Planting Schedule

This time of the year, you might find me at my desk or kitchen table at breakfast pouring over the latest seed catalog to arrive.
With names like "Flashy Trout's Back" lettuce, and "Pineapple" tomatoes, I can just imagine all of the goodness to come.
I can just taste that warm tomato straight from the vine with a little salt, just like my Dad used to eat them.
Or what about the view from my kitchen window of billowing flowers?
Don't those Vanilla Marigolds look sweet?
{All seeds mentioned from Territorial Seed Company.}

Before I order anything, I like to have a map of what I will be planting, names, and dates of succession.
It helps me to stay on track.
I actually list the planting dates on the calendar, so I don't forget.
Which I am very good at, thank you ;).
The only seeds I start indoors are tomatoes right now.

Everything else goes right into prepared soil when the time is right.
We live in central Washington which has a late frost date of about June 10th.
I usually plant most of the garden by Mother's Day, though, and really that has worked well. 
The pumpkins and squash go in May 1st with black weed screen covering everything.
The fabric heats the soil and I am able to get away with planting some of the 100 day varieties.


My row garden is quite massive at 40' or so by 100' long. 
Graph paper helps me to visualize what I am planting.
I space most everything about 2 - 2 1/2' apart so that my rototiller can get through easily.
This year I will be using as much weed screen as possible and hope to show you soon how I am making holes for the seeds.

{The girls watching me in the garden.}

My plan is rather detailed, and LARGE, so don't be overwhelmed.
I have been a gardener for a while now, although I still have much to learn!
Our garden has grown over the years. I still love my fenced area with four raised beds.
 That is where it all started. The first few years I was pregnant or had babies and those boxes were perfect enough to harvest fresh veggies for our meals.


Here are the paper plans....

In case you are looking for seeds, I like to use our local stores first, and then order from a catalog or online if I can't find something.
Two of my favorite sources are:






The numbers in parenthesis are the number of times I should be able to plant. 
I love my plan...it helps organize my thoughts...but the funny thing is that I know I will change it up!
At least I have a guide to go by :)

Happy planting friends!

~Julia
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