Tag Archives: Homesteading

Hairpin Lace and Bonus Photos

It seems so long ago that I wrote about buying a loom to make hairpin lace. It was certainly before all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and it wasn’t until after Christmas that I figured out how to use the loom.

For my first project I chose this infinity scarf. The link to the pattern has a detailed video which includes both making the hairpin lace and constructing the scarf. I used a different type of yarn so my results are different from the one created in the video.  I took a few photos during the process to give you an idea of how this works.

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To create hairpin lace the yarn is looped around the pegs of the loom and each loop is secured in place by a crochet stitch. On this loom both the top and bottom cross bars are removable and there are holes at various distances so the hairpin lace can be made different widths.

At first I found it quite awkward using both the loom and the crochet hook but after a while I was able to get into a rhythm and it went quite quickly from there.

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To remove the lace from the loom I only had to remove the bottom cross bar then slide the lace off of the pegs. While this piece has about 30 loops on each side, the scarf I made had four strips like this each with 240 loops on each side.

After I had all four strips made, I joined them together by slipping five loops of one strip though five loops of a second strip then slipping the next five loops of the first strip though those five loops. This process was repeated though the entire length of the strips and created the braided or rope-like appearance. I didn’t get any photos of that process but it can be viewed in the above video. The edges were finished by slipping five loops of the strip over the next five loops of the same strip and repeating the process along the entire edge.

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This is the finished scarf. I like the braided effect and can see this process being used to make an afghan, poncho or ear warmer. In fact I have decided to make an ear warmer using this design.

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This design is one of many ways that hairpin lace can be used, and from the beautiful, intricate items I am seeing made with it, I would guess this is probably one the easier method of using it.

Now for a couple of bonus photos.

My sister KC, the one that has been teaching me how to sew, made me this really cute hat for my birthday.

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She also made matching bandanas for the dogs. LOL. Her fabric choices were perfect.

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If you look closely you can see the white fabric has red barns, windmills, chickens and  sunflowers – it’s like this fabric was made for me. The yellow print is filled with honey bees. She knows me well!

What do you think of pets dressed to match their people?

Our Prayer Garden

I have to admit that writing this post has been very challenging for me. As I thought about what our prayer garden is and what it represents my thoughts ran deep, and at times it seems like the answers to what it is, why it exists and how it came to be have turned into questions that that I can not definitively answer. As I struggle to convey the information about our prayer garden I can only pray that God will give me the words I need and that they will perhaps be a blessing to someone who reads them.

Flowers offer more praise to God than man ever shall. ~ Ninian Riley

What Is A Prayer Garden?

When I typed that question into my internet browser this  was but one of the definitions that showed up. I selected it because it does seem fitting.

It said: “Used as a quiet place to relax and recharge, a meditation or prayer garden is a place of peace and tranquility. It’s personal space with no right or wrong design elements. A prayer garden can be a small, private corner of a larger garden, or an entire section of your landscaping may be designed around a theme of thoughtful serenity. Planting perennials helps to avoid stress from constant garden maintenance chores, and including beautiful accents — natural or manmade – helps you focus on positivity.”

What Is Our Prayer Garden? 

It could be called a flower garden or and herb garden because of the vast array of both flowers and herbs that we grow there. It could be called a rock garden because many rocks were used in it’s construction. It could be called a pollinator garden because bees, butterflies and many other pollinating insects are attracted to the various flowers when in bloom. It could be called a memorial garden since we have planted flowers in memory of my mother, my husband’s mother and my Aunt Shirley. It could also be called a friendship garden since many of the plants have been given to me, some by my children, others by my sisters and some that were added this year were sent by a lady who my husband met this year while working at his landscaping job, and when the plants in the garden need to be thinned I often dig the roots and pass them on the family, friends or neighbors who will give them a new home. Our prayer garden is all of these things combined.

 

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Walking up the driveway

It is the center piece of our farm from which everything else seems to radiate. It is bordered to the west by the pond and the east by the driveway with the barn standing on the other side of the drive. The windmill stands directly to the north of the prayer garden, only a few feet outside the garden edge, and the apiary is just a short distance from there. It is not visible from the road so when in bloom it can be a glorious view as you round the bend in the driveway and are greeted buy the colorful display.

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A View of Our Farm From the Road

Honestly while it is this “center piece” that we refer to as the prayer garden, it is the entire farm that evokes feelings of peace and serenity and elicits the desire to pray – to commune with God. While it may seem contradictory, we find that even while working on the farm we are often able to recharge.

In Our Beginning

When we first bought our farm, the property had been unused (by humans) for many years. The previous owner had planned to build a house there so he had done some excavating, put in somewhat of a driveway and the well, but it seemed that it had been at least few years since those things had been done. What I’m trying to say is that things were growing wild. We spent a lot of time exploring, discovering and deciding.

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We wanted to be good stewards of the piece of earth that God had given to us, so there were many decisions to be made. We wanted to make the land useful, that we may grow our food and raise livestock, while utilizing all of what the land could offer and preserving much of it’s natural beauty. Through exploring the land we discovered that God had given us much more than we had prayed for.

One of our early priorities was having access to water.  There was a well on the property but at that time there was no pump to retrieve the water – it was simply a capped well. Since there was no electricity on the property, and that was not a priority, we purchased a hand pump suitable for deep wells and then had the company that drilled the well come out to install the pipes that were needed to hook up the hand pump.

Another thing we needed to do was to protect the well head. It was in an open area and we feared it was at risk of being hit and damaged by some type of vehicle. We purchased a galvanized metal ring and placed it around the outside of the well head then filled the rest of the ring with white stone. It then seemed to be a good area for a flower garden so in the fall we planted tulip bulbs.

The pictures below are what it looked like one spring day in 2012.

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The following day when I arrived at the farm the deer had eaten all of the blossoms off of the tulips and all that remained were stems and leaves. I wanted to cry.

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In the fall of 2012 we decided to have a pond dug. My husband and I have done the majority of the landscaping and building on the farm. Only twice have we called in professionals to do work which was beyond our abilities. The first was digging the pond. The second was building the barn last June.

102_0680While it was necessary to have excavators do the digging, the design of the pond was ours. We spent hours talking about the layout, measuring, staking, then cording off the area that was to be dug out. They needed to stay a certain distance from the tree line on the west side of the property and a certain distance from the well. They were given explicit instructions and my husband was on-site most of the time the work was being done to assure that our expectations were met.

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The above photo was taken in the spring of 2013.

After the pond was dug my husband and I worked together to landscape the area. He brought in top soil with the tractor bucket and we raked it out. We used rocks that we found on the farm to build a retaining wall to prevent soil erosion. I can’t remember exactly what plants we put in at that time but I know they included lavender, salvia and thyme (all deer resistant plants by the way). We then purchased mulch and spread it.

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The large rock was one that was unearthed when the pond was being dug. My husband and I found it appealing so we decided to display it in the garden.

We ordered the windmill that spring. It was a bit pricey but would serve dual purposes. The first would be to pump life sustaining oxygen into the pond. The second was for watering plants during dry spells; so along with the windmill we purchased a pump that would pump water out of the pond. You can read about our off grid irrigation process here. After the windmill arrived my husband and I worked together to assemble it. We then invited family over for a windmill raising party.

Over the past few years the garden has continued to evolve. Many new plants have been added and most of what we have planted there has flourished.  I sometimes find it necessary to remove plants as well.

The photos below were taken over the past two years.

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Why A Prayer Garden?

Now that I have covered the “what is our prayer garden” and told you how it came to be I will address the Why. This is where I was most challenged when putting together this post.

I am not sure when the idea of a prayer garden first came to me or where I even first heard the term. It was likely something that I read about online because that is how we get a lot of information nowadays. I do remember that it was around the time when we were working on landscaping the garden area that I decided that making garden stepping stones was a craft I might enjoy. I experimented with making a couple that I gave away and one that I made that I wanted to place in our garden. 102_0942

On the stone I made for our garden I imprinted one of my favorite Bible verses. For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Cor 5:7. I have found this verse meaningful for many years but even more so after our experience with buying our farm and the blessings we received by waiting on God’s timing. I place the stone in the garden as a continual reminder of how God is always working behind the scenes and if we follow His lead we will be blessed. I think it was around this time that I decided to call this our prayer garden.

I have grown to see the prayer garden as an offering to God – a way to honor and glorify Him, so I was struck when I read the quote at the beginning of this post. These words – Flowers offer more praise to God than man ever shall, were spoken by my Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather, Ninian Riley, who lived from 1725 – 1814. It was while contemplating this post that I received an email from lady named Kathy Strawn, a third cousin that I have never met, and the family historian. She sent some documents that she had created regarding family history and one of the documents contained the above quote.

Upon reading those words I felt an immediate, yet somewhat eerie, connection to this ancestor who lived so long ago. I wondered where did they come from? Where were they documented? Kathy had referenced the Diary of Nancy (Riley) Clarke Salt as the source and an internet search led me to this site where I was able to read Nancy’s diary. Indeed within the pages Nancy explained that as a hobby her grandfather, Ninian, enjoyed tending to flowers a she attributed that quote to him.

This information led me to some questions: is this just coincidence, finding that my distant ancestor had a love of flowers like I do and that his words that were documented more than 1 1/2  centuries ago would so accurately define my feelings? or is there something more – some type of divine inspiration perhaps? These are questions that will certainly not be answered in this lifetime.

While writing this post it also occurred to me that God would likely be pleased with a garden that was built and maintained in His honor. I draw this assumption from the realization that in Genesis 2:8 “The Lord had planted a garden in the East, in Eden; and it was there that he put the man.” God Himself was a gardener and thought the garden to be a fitting place for His greatest creation – man.

I think I will conclude this post by answering a question that may have been on your mind throughout your time reading this – “Do you pray in the garden?” you ask.

Yes, I do pray in the garden, but not as you might imagine. It is when I am on my hands and knees in the dirt, working the soil or pulling weeds, that I feel God’s presence and  am moved to converse with him. I offer prayers of thanksgiving and pray for those in need. I pray for friends and family and if you come to mind I will likely say a prayer for you as well.

I know this post was longer than most of my posts and if you have read to the end I am grateful.

Thank you and God Bless.

 

 

 

 

Buying Our Farm (Prelude to Our Prayer Garden)

I know at least a couple of my readers are waiting for my post dedicated to our prayer garden, but I wanted to give a little background, kind of an introductory post.

When my husband and I got married in 2007 we were living in a manufactured home community (where we still live today). We knew we wanted more, a place of our own where we could grow our own food, raise chickens and bees (and maybe goats) and let our dog(s) run; things we just couldn’t do on our little leased lot. If you live in the US you may remember that in 2007 the economy was on the verge of collapsing – the 2008 “subprime” mortgage crises was just around the corner. This was no time to make our move.

We continued to bide our time in the manufactured home park as the country went into crises. We were blessed that my husband had continuous work during those years so we were able pay down our debt and put some money away. We were also able to do some gardening in raised beds in our small courtyard, and as we outgrew that space my sister and brother-in-law offered up garden space at their place so we were able to grow a lot of our own produce. I also preserved a lot of it.

It was probably sometime in 2009 after housing/property prices had dropped and the market was being flooded with foreclosures that we started talking about what we wanted to buy. We decided that our minimum requirements were between 5 and 10 acres, half wooded, half open field, with a source of water. We wanted it to be in a rural area and we set a price per acre that we were willing to pay. We also began praying about it.

I’m not sure when we really began looking for property, but I’m sure it was well over a year that we searched realtor.com, talked to realtors (who really weren’t much help) and drove around three counties looking at pieces of land (some with houses) for sale. None being exactly what we wanted.

While we continued to pray and search we were becoming antsy. We were also becoming frustrated with not having our own place to let the dogs run. When we first got Scout in 2007 we would take him in the woods behind our house and let him off the leash where he could run around and sniff and chase a squirrel up a tree or go for a swim – all the things that dogs like to do. Then one day my husband and Scout came across a neighbor who was walking his dog in the woods. Although there was no incident this neighbor complained to the park management that Scout was not on a leash, so we received a citation and were told that he must be kept on a leash.

Over the next few years we found some opportunities to allow the dogs to run off-leash. First a friend who had a sawmill on eighty acres nearby allowed us to bring the boys to walk in the woods and swim in his pond. This became a daily routine and went on for well over a year until one day when his neighbors complained that the dogs were scaring the deer away.

It was around this time that we discovered the newly open Columbus Park. I wrote about the park last year in this post. The old homestead turned park offered over 400 hundred acres of fields and woods, a valley with a river running through and wonderful walking paths. In the early days of visiting the park it was a perfect place to take the boys and let them off leash as we were often the only visitors. Over time that began to change. A sign with park rules was posted which stated that dogs were required to be kept on leashes and more often than not there were other visitors at the park.  While we continued to visit the park the boys were often restricted to being on leashes.

It was a day in early April 2011, after finishing a walk at Columbus Park, that my husband decided to take a different route home. As he pulled out of the parking lot he made a left hand turn pointing the vehicle in the opposite direction from our house. He then made a righthand turn on the next road we came to. Crawford Road, a gravel  backroad that neither of us knew where it would lead. It had been years, perhaps even decades, since I had traveled this road and my husband said he had never been down that road before. We had driven a few miles and as we approached a stop sign and an intersection where Crawford Road ended my husband suddenly said “What was that?” as he stopped the vehicle then backed up. I didn’t know what he spotted until he pointed to a “for sale” sign that was sticking out of the snow bank that despite the warmer spring temperatures was taking it’s time to melt.

My husband pulled into the driveway and hopped out to read the sign. It Said: For Sale By Owner, 7.6 acres, $39,500 and a phone number to call. There was no house on the property so I got out of the vehicle and we decided to have a look around. There were many mature trees on the property but as we walked to the end of the driveway, which extended maybe a couple hundred feet in, we realized that the rest of the property was overgrown with unidentified bushes and shrubs. Though our path had ended we continued to make our way though the thicket, thankfully there was no foliage on the bushes so we could at least see the ground and where we were walking. We continued to walk perhaps a few hundred more feet where the property adjoined to an open field. We assumed this was the property line. As we made our way back to our vehicle my husband called the phone number on the sign. He left a message inquiring about the property and we went home anxiously awaiting a return call.

The call came and we set up a time to meet the owner at the property the following day. At the meeting we learned that we were wrong in our assumption of where the property ended. Instead it included that open field which nearly doubled the size of what we thought was the parcel. It also had a well. The well had been dug within the last few years, it was eighty feet deep and I think it was rated at something like 25 gallons per minute. (WOW!)

This property was everything that we had prayed for. We left that meeting certain that it would be ours. We were so certain in fact that my husband removed the “for sale” sign before we pulled out of the driveway. Within a few days we had negotiated a price and the property owner was arranging to have the paperwork drawn up and scheduling a closing date.

While we waited for that we went shopping for fruit trees. I think we bought nine trees and my husband asked the property owner if he could plant the trees one the property. The owner agreed and my husband drug a small rototiller through the thickets and back to the ridge that divided the front of the property from the back field. It was there he planted our first fruit trees.

Less than four weeks after we first spotted the property, that has since become known as our farm, we signed the paperwork and exchanged a cashiers check for the deed to the property. To this day we are still in awe of how God answered our prayers.

Below are the few photos I have of the farm when we first bought it.

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Thanks for visiting. 🙂

My Do-Over

Earlier this week I finished my “do-over” project that I told you about in my “Sisters Day” Post and thought it only fair that I show you the results.

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                                                               TA DA!

No, it wasn’t really magic. In fact it took me at least eight hours over the course of two days to complete, but I am so pleased with the way this shirt turned out. It is the same pattern as the ones from my previous post, but since the pattern has three different options for lengths of the shirt I opted to make the longer “shirt length” version rather than the “crop length” that I had made before.

This time around I also went with a different type of fabric. This fabric is a performance knit, a type of fabric commonly used for making sportswear. I was a little nervous about using it but found it to be very easy to work with. It is also comfortable to wear.

My next sewing project will be a fleece bath robe, and if life goes as planned (does it ever?)  I will get it started sometime next week.

Thank for stopping by and until next time – be well. 🙂

 

Our Sweet Potato Harvest

The Harvest

Growing sweet potatoes this year was really just an experiment and unfortunately one that I did not document. While I regret that I don’t have exact dates, time frames and pictures, I was so impressed with the results that I wanted to share the process.

Below is a photo of our sweet potato harvest.

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It might not look very impressive until I tell you that all of those sweet potatoes grew in that pot (approximately 3 gallon).

The Process

I think it was late February or early March when I noticed a sweet potato that I had bought at the grocery store was beginning to grow roots. Rather than send it to the compost heap I decided to let it live.

I poked a toothpick into each side of the sweet potato at about the halfway point then put one end of it into a large mouth jar filled with water where it continued to grow more roots. The toothpicks held the top end above the lip of the jar. It was important to keep the jar filled with water and in a couple of weeks it began to sprout leaves.

I kept adding water and the leaves grew into vines. Once the vines were over 12 inches long I cut six to eight inches off and put them in a jar of water to root. I think it was early April when I planted 4 of them in the pot filled with potting soil. I also gave some to my cousin so she could grow her own.

I kept the pot near a sunny window and kept them well watered and they continued to grow. I think it was mid to late May, when the weather warmed enough and the threat of frost had passed, that I moved the pot to our deck.

From there it was just a matter of keeping them watered. If we did not have rain the soil dried up quickly and the leaves would begin to droop.

It was the first week in October, when we were having cooler overnight temperatures, when I noticed that even though the soil was moist the leaves were drooping. I decided it was time to harvest them. Harvest was as simple as dumping the whole pot out then breaking up the soil and picking the sweet potatoes out.

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Doing It Again

Since this variety grew so well I decided to try to keep it growing. The vine was not dead so I cut some slips from it and have them rooting in a jar right now. Soon I will need to plant them in a pot of soil.

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Eating Them

Sweet potatoes are a great source of many of the nutrients that our bodies need to stay healthy. You can learn more about that here. While searching for a link to provide you with those benefits I discovered something I did not know. Sweet potato leaves are edible. They can be prepared and eaten like other leafy greens (think spinach) and are very high in nutrients. This article explains more.

We usually eat sweet potato baked but sometimes cut it up and add it to soups or stews. I am now planning on adding sweet potato leaves to our diet as well.

Do you have a favorite sweet potato recipe you would like to share? How you ever eaten sweet potato leaves?