Welcome to Home Shalom!

Welcome to Home Shalom and Shalom Farm. We pray your visit here be blessed. We are learning to walk in the Ways (Torah) of our Father YHWH and follow Y'shua, His Messiah until He returns to "set things straight". We call it a "Messi-Life". Our walk is neither tidy nor perfect, but it is filled with passion, devotion and desire to serve our King. We are learning to be humble servants, and to be good stewards of the things that He has entrusted to us: His Word, our marriage, our children, our family, our community, our health, and our farm. Hitch your horse and stay a while--our door is always open!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Our Family Jots and Tittles

If you would like to see the picture collage upclose, just click on it.

Sunday - Today Ben went to help out a friend who moved into the area from out of state the same month we did. They (family of 6) have been staying in a one bedroom apartment over a garage on their new homestead property. The wife is expecting #5 in February and they are rushing to get the garage below remodeled before the baby comes. This is so reminiscent of what we were doing just before our baby came last year! :-) It is coming together quickly and even though Ben is back to work now, he is offering help where he can. They will be adding a living room, kitchen, bedroom, bath/laundry downstairs in the 2 car garage space, and converting the upstairs to be two bedrooms and a bath. These are exciting times!

While Ben was away all day, the kids and I started moving some tin roofing to create rows in the yard for our future garden. Garden planning is the main topic in our house right now as we try to prepare for the season. There will be lots more about that being posted in the coming months.

The kids are very excited about the prediction of snow for tomorrow. Clear the schedule...its time for snow play!! (We take it when we can get it down here!)

Monday - We all got to outside and play today. We went out right after breakfast. Everyone was so excited, everyone except for Eliana in the beginning. We thought she was going to be the first one to come in...but as it turned out...she found out she really really liked it and was the LAST one to go in! We have a nice hill in out backyard to sled on. It was a good time. Chazaq was actually the first one to go in. He hadn't had his morning nap, and his rubber boots and mittens kept coming off. He did have the little snow suit Milly sent us, which was wonderful...he lasted longer than I expected. Naomi surprised me too...because when it comes to physical activity she is usually "all about it" she is naturally athletic and loves the excitement of physical play...but she kind of "phoned it in" for the sledding this time. All of the kids did good with waiting for their turns...we only had 2 sleds that worked well. We were able to double up ...but it still meant a good deal of waiting... Our plastic sled wasn't sliding right and we had two swim kickboards we would try...but they didn't work either. :-)

Tuesday - As warm days and spring birds are to public school kids, snow is to my homeschool kids in TN! :-) They are all preoccupied with being able to go outside and play in the snow and it takes such doing! We gave all our snow gear to GoodWill when we moved (Oops - we sure could use that now!!!). So we do it old school style, lots of layers and enduring the cold feet for the fun. We layer 2-3 socks inside our muck (rain) boots. A couple of us have insulated boots, but most don't. I have piles of wet layers hanging all over our living room trying to get warm and dry from the cook stove. (Multiple clothes for 8 people makes quite the pile!!!) Then of course they want to go back out before they are dry! :-) I am keeping my eyes open for snow pants of all sizes at GoodWill again. But unlike PA...they don't seem to be a popular local item. :-( I might have to coordinate with some of my yankee friends to hook us up! :-) They really could use them for chores (and play) in the cold, even when there is no snow. They are easy to get in and out of and so very practical! Even for the girls. I like to get them outside every day...if they have the gear to dress for it will be no big deal. I really goofed by getting rid of all of our good warm gloves, snow pants, and winter boots! I did keep the scarves and hats though...its something... so we live and learn right??? If any of you yanks have hand-me downs your kids have outgrown, I can send you money for shipping if you can tell me how much it would be! :-)

Wednesday - We got our produce order in today. Along with 55# of butter! What does 55 pounds of butter look like? Like this:

"What are you going to do with it?" You might ask! Well...it was a good price for organic grass fed butter, so I thought we would experiment with it. We sold 5# to a friend who gets produce with us. We cut the rest up into large chunks. At first I thought I would weigh it out into quarter pound sticks like you get at the store, than wrap them in wax paper...that thought lasted about 45 seconds! Then I thought...OK maybe 1# chunks (like a box)...but then that became too cumbersome to get exact. So we just guessed and figured we would just measure what we needed, when we needed it. So I have 2- 5 gallon buckets sitting in the shed and on the cold back porch. A couple of pyrex containers in the fridge, and 9 pint jars of crumbs that were melted and poured off. We will probably put that on the shelf on the porch. If it warms up before we finish our butter, we will rush to put our blocks in the fridge or freezer where ever they fit best at the time. I researched canning butter, and still may play with it, for a small portion, but it not advised. So I am not sure about that. The one place where I found someone who does do it..says that she clarifies it (removes the butter fat - which creates Ghee) to can it. So we'll see.... these are all good things to know...for when we have our milk cow one day. :-)

The perfect end to the day: As I was reading a long awaited email from my friend Heather, in PA since she got back from Israel...I was so excited to reconnect her after so long.... than we got a surprise visit from our friends that just had a baby girl last Sunday!!!! We have not been able to visit with them for months (for a whole host of reasons)...so it was SO GOOOOOOD to see them. Ahhh we are blessed with good friends...i am so thankful! And if that wasn't enough....we just opened a big ol' box they had wrapped up and given us... it was stuffed full of vacuum packed organic grass fed beef from their farm! YES! Here is a photo of Bric (the papa) letting Eliana hold their 10 day old baby (yet to be officially named).

Thursday - Today will be a hard one to ever forget. Accidentally, the "booster" to the woodstove was left open and unattended...leaving a neverending supply of oxygen to feed the freshly loaded firebox. In no time, the temperature went from the comfy average of 200 degrees up PAST THE MAX temp of 500, into the 600 degree range. The thermometer cycled back around for a second spin and read 100 for we think it was at 600 degrees, and the glass temperature gauge cover popped off and flew across the living room. That was the first sign that something was wrong. The stove pipe changed all kinds of funky colors, and the cast iron chimney base glowed a dark orange and close to red with heat. Quickly, the chimney began to fill with the scary tinkling sounds of creosote falling from the top and filling up the base. By the time we shut down all fuel, it still took 6 hours for the temperature to drop to cool off enough for us clean out chimney from all the creosote that piled up. (This could cause a dangerous chimney fire if it is let alone.) Other than the permanent rainbow colors on our formally shiny stainless stovepipe, the stove itself passed its first overheating test(and hopefully last!). Many lessons were also learned by the human fire-tenders that day. I am very happy we spend the time really fireproofing the walls and floor around the stove, just for such an occasion.

Friday - Our Amish neighbor's wife fell on the ice yesterday and really injured her lower back badly. Her husband came over today and asked for a ride to the chiropractor as she thought (correctly) that the buggy ride into town would be too bouncy. It's a 20 mile drive, and I can't imagine taking a buggy with a back injury. Ben told him it would take her, but he wouldn't drive faster than 1 mile an hour so the Amishman wouldn't feel like they were cheating. (ha-ha) Thankfully they thought that was funny. Ben learned a lot from his talk with the wife on the way there, including the fact that we had been pronouncing her husband's name wrong for the past year, and he was too embarrassed to correct us. (oops!) Never pass up an opportunity to drive the Amish somewhere!

Shabbat - Our good friends, came up from Alabama today and spent most of the day with us. You have to love it when the sleeves get rolled up, and you bust out the original Hebrew texts looking for pearls (and find several). It's such a great feeling to really KNOW your Scriptures; when you are able to call to memory not just the chapter and verse, but several deeper meanings behind the verse itself as well. It was a beautiful time of challenging one another, questioning things and trying to dig up answers to deepening our understanding, and laughing our way through the entire process in true joy. Its a beautiful thing!

As I uploaded pictures, I realized there were a couple things I forgot to mention.

Candle making: As I was digging through the freezer I cam across, a couple quarts of Tallow that we have been storing for a long time from a few cows ago. We are not at ease using it to cook with anymore because of what Scripture says about eating the fat...but I didn't want it to go to waste. So I I wanted to see how we could put it to use. I had some candle ends and some that had melted into funky shapes, since they were stored in the hot barn in a tote this summer, so I decided to melt them and stretch them with the tallow and make MORE candles. Instead of dipping them on strings to make tall candles (the short ones are more practical for us), so we decided to use our many votive candle holders to mold them. We made some wicks (pictured), but realized that we could reuse the wicks from the warped candles too! So melted the candles down on the stove and and picked out the wicks. Than we added the tallow, about equal parts to the melted wax. (One batch we added some scent with a few drops of essential oil.) We put a few drops of water in the bottom of each votive holder (a trick I learned in catering), to keep the wax from sticking. Then we filled them with the hot wax. We cut the wicks to size and then used a toothpick (Daddy's wonderful idea!) to hold the wick in place as it cooled. We put them in the fridge to cool faster, so we could to a few batches. It doubled our candle stash (which we will store in a more cool place this time). And we still have tallow to "play with" so I might make some suet for the birds or soap or something, I haven't decided yet. :-) The candles are a little "greasy" to touch...so my tallow to wax ratio might have been a little high (in case you try it), but they are great for a first experiment! I would make them the same way again. Elijah and I did most of it together, so it was some nice momma / son time. :-)

Our Mini Root Cellar Experiment: Another project Elijah and I did over these past two weeks was to put in a mini root cellar. We have BIG plans for the future, but we read about how to do a mini one and thought we would experiment with since it was something we could do really fast and fairly inexpensively. He was very eager to dig me a hole...so how could I pass that up? :-) Elijah dug me the prettiest hole I ever saw! We measured and called the local Tractor Supply to see what size metal cans they had in stock and measured it to those specifications. With room to put a few inches of rocks in the bottom of the hole for drainage to set the can on top of, and while letting the can peep out of the ground about 2 inches to take the lid on and off. We put it on the east side of the house to avoid the hot summer sun. Elijah drilled a few holes in the bottom of the can for further drainage, in case water passes through. Then we put 50# of organic (of course) potatoes we just got from our produce order in it. There needs to be some sort of insulation on the top of the can, to help regulate the heat and cold that can come through the lid that sits above ground. There are many things you can use to insulate the top, like a pile of straw or bag of leaves, things like that. However, this is something we have right against the house and would be sending the kids out to get frequently and I always like to consider aesthetics when possible. :-) So....Papa said, "I have just the thing" and disappeared into the barn. He came back with some 1/4 inch thin plastic insulation (it looks like a thick plastic blanket). He folded that into a square about 3 layers thick. Then I fetched a paper pack pad that comes in some of our produce cases from the wholesaler, to help absorb moisture to be the layer that touches the taters. Now...we watch...and see how it does. :-) We will watch it go through, winter, spring and summer. And try a variety of items in there that are typically stored in a root cellar. If they do well, we will probably line that side of the house with a few more, as a handy "go to place" for cold storage and a way to rotate things out of the root cellar. We seem to be calling it "the potato bucket". :-)

Until Next Week.....
May your week be filled with love, laughter and lots of new adventures!

In Him,
The Tribe of Ben

1 comment:

Michelle, a heart at home said...

I don't often have time to read your jots and tittles, but found that I did today and just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading about your week.
I personally can't imagine getting 55 pounds of butter at one time---but in FL, we wouldn't be able to store it anywhere except the fridge and I don't imagine there'd be any space for anything else! ;-)
My girls and I also enjoyed the snow pictures---another thing we don't have in FL---much to my girls' dismay. They feel that it's quite unfair that FL is the only state that had no snow. :-)
Using the tallow for candles was brilliant.
Anyway, I just wanted to let you know we enjoyed reading about all that your family is doing and learning.
Have a blessed week!