Oct 23
2017

Hungry on the Homestead

Nom nom nom.  Oh!  Excuse me.  That was me eating anything in my path.  Ya see, I’m hungry.  As in, if I don’t eat something I am going to get sick, queasy, and/or nauseated.  I need food people!  Yes, you probably guessed it……this lady is pregnant again, and that means all I can think about is food…Food…FOOD!  So grab your apron ’cause we are headed to the kitchen to share some tried and true recipes.  We’re hungry on the homestead!

What are your favorite recipes that you turn to again and again?  I know mine are those passed down and around from family members.  Ya know…..grandma’s perfect cake, your auntie Em’s famous snack crackers she brought to every family gathering, or your dad’s secret marinade sauce.  As y’all may know, my dad knew what he was doing in the kitchen, and I have definitely stolen a few of his recipes over the years.

My sister and I would have cooking contests with my dad whenever possible as we got older because he started bragging just a wee little bit too much.  My mother had to hear him boast about his cooking skills everyday.  Poor thing.  The pay off, she got to eat it all, and that’s worth it in my book!!  It was all in fun, and he loved to tease us that his food always tasted better than ours.  To tell the truth, it really did!  Since my dad passed, having his recipes around has been a true treasure, and luckily some of them are hand written with a spot or two of Worcestershire on the page.  Ya know its good if there is Worcestershire sauce being splashed around!

Famous Cajun Chef, Justin Wilson. One of my dad’s all time favorite chefs, and how I learned to measure my ingredients.  Aiiii Yeee!

 

So this being my fourth pregnancy, I know a thing or two about food, recipes, and cravings.  Mainly, ya need salt, shortly after you will need sweet, and follow it up with a dash of citrus anything.  Then you promptly start the cycle back over again.  So we will be covering all ends of the spectrum today with some tried and true family recipes.  Also, don’t worry….You don’t have to be a pregnant crazy person to enjoy these recipes.  With the holidays around the corner, these have been thoroughly tested many many times, and are sure to get the thumbs up of approval at any gathering.  If not, bring it to me.  I will eat it.  No questions asked.

 

 

This first recipe, is famous in our clan.  It has caused some very disciplined individuals to crumble in its wake.  No one can resist its smell……much less its taste.  So when you make this, just know…..you have been warned…it is super addictive!

Poppie’s Snack Mix

4 cups of Corn *Chex cereal (* whatever brand will suffice)

4 cups of Rice *Chex cereal

2 cups of Wheat *Chex cereal

2 Cups of Pretzel sticks

2 Cups of mixed nuts

1 cup of cheese crackers

1 cup of rye chips (like Gardetto’s roasted garlic)

1 stick of “the real deal” salted butter

1/2 cup of olive oil

1 & 1/2 teaspoon of Tabasco sauce (I use 2 Tbsp of Louisiana sauce b/c the Wizard is picky about his hot sauce)

1 & 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder

1 teaspoon of seasoning salt (Lawry’s or Tony Chachere’s)

3 teaspoons of soy sauce

3 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce

 

  1. Mix all dry ingredients except spices in a monster size bowl and set aside.
  2. Melt your butter and add in the olive oil
  3. Once (2) is melted, mix in your spices and seasonings
  4. Pour your butter seasoning mixture over your dry ingredients and mix until well covered
  5. Pour into large pan (you might have several batches)
  6. Bake for one hour at 200 degrees Fahrenheit, mixing and stirring every 15 minutes

Please label your container

WARNING:    ADDICTIVE!

 

 

The citrus.

I can eat this entire bowl of mango salsa by myself…..no joke…no lie.  It is amazing, and you will be a hero……maybe just my hero, but that still counts.   Try it!  Don’t forget your tortilla chips!

 

Mango Salsa

2-3 Mangos diced

1/4 cup diced red bell pepper

1/4 cup diced green onion

1 seeded and diced jalepno

2 Tbsp of chopped cilantro

2 Tbsp of fresh lime juice

1 Tbsp honey

1/4 Tsp salt and fresh pepper

Juice of one lemon

  1.  Mix it ALL together!
  2. Eat it up!

 

 

Now on to sweets!

There is one cake that has been religiously made on my side of the family year after year of my entire life.  Chocolate sheet cake.  Have you ever tried it?  If not, the time has come.  You must.  It is sinful yet heavenly at the same time.  Crowd approved, and a guaranteed clean dish for you to bring home after a pot luck.  It isn’t fancy, but close your eyes and imagine it is.  I am NOT a milk drinker, but this calls for a glass. ‘Clink.  I’ll cheers to that.

Chocolate Sheet Cake

by Reba Gray ( my Nan)

2 Cups of flour

2 Cups of sugar

Mix these two together in a bowl right away

Next, place the following in a sauce pan to boil:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil (or coconut oil)
  • 1 Cup of water
  • 5 Tbsp of cocoa powder

After this starts to boil, remove from heat, and combine with the flour/sugar mixture.

Next, add the following ingredients to your bowl:

  • 1 Cup of buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tsp of baking soda
  • 1 Tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 Tsp salt

After all these ingredients are combined and mixed throughouly.  Grease a fairly large shallow cookie sheet.  My standard baking sheet is four inches deep and works great.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 mins.

FROSTING!!!

  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 4 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 6 Tbsp buttermilk
  • 1/2 Tsp vanilla
  • 1 box powdered sugar
  • 1/2 – 1 Cup of chopped pecans

Mix ingredients and immediately pour over cake once it has finished baking.

We always joke how this comes out more like fudge than cake, but whatever you call it just classify it under the word “miracle”.    Some things aren’t worth the calories in life, but this my friend…..IS.  Cross my heart.

I hope you guys can try at least one, if not all of these favorite recipes of mine.  I’m sure you will love them as much as we do.  In the meantime, pray for this mama.  Pregnancy number four means c-section number four.  I refuse to think about it until I have to, but just know this lady needs some prayers.  We might have a Lollipop Guild and a Lullaby League around here.  Who knows!!  I will keep ya posted.  Gotta go….I’m hungry!

 

“For He satisfies the thirsty, and fills the hungry with good things.”  Psalm 107:9

 

 

 

 

 

Sep 28
2017

Memories

Memories

Once upon a time, their was a little girl with golden curls wild on her head and jelly shoes on her feet (let’s say they were red).  She spent her childhood in the rural countryside of East Texas, down a red dirt road, with the sounds of a saw mill buzzing away through the country skies.

Her days were filled with fresh air, mud pies, and whatever games she could coerce her older sister into playing.  Typically, the day ended up with the sisters finding their way to the blackberry bush.  It stretched the span of the front yard, and felt enormous, as did the berries that dangled from every which angle through the tenacious thorns.  All her summer clothes were stained with purple, and her arms were covered in scratches.  But she didn’t care…..she had her jellies.

Behind the blackberry bush laid a modest garden full of veggies and fruit.  The smell of tomato leaves, blackberries, freshly snapped green beans, and honeysuckle will forever and ever bring her home.

That’s me! Age 5. I practically ooze the word BRAT

Surprise…..surprise!  That wild child was me.  My mother would kick my sister and I out of the house a lot throughout the summer back then.   We lived in a very small two bedroom home, and my mom always had a sewing project she was working on.  I gather we must have been annoying/distracting in those close quarters.  Whatever the reasons may be, we found ourselves outdoors, Kool-Aid in hand, finding something to do.  My memories are so sweetly filled with my mom and dad’s garden.  While modest in size, it provided food on our table, and memories for a life time.

 

My sister and I obviously being chic. The red shoes go way back y’all.

 

The Wizard has similar memories, but on a much larger scale.  Growing up on a farm there was always something being planted, harvested, or worked on.  His father was the farmer, and an inventor in his own right.  He always had a project, was growing something, and could fix anything.  (Hmmm…….sounds familiar.  I guess there IS a wizard gene!!)

Just proof that the Wizard was a brat too! We are a match made in Heaven!

 

LOSS

The common thread of having fond memories of the garden and growing things in the earth has been an important part of our lives lately here at the homestead.  Both the Wizard and I lost our fathers this past year.  Although the grief runs deep, we have found such peace and comfort by returning to our roots out in the dirt.

As anyone who has ever lost a loved one knows, the grief can sometimes be so overwhelming.  Manifesting itself as anger that our loved ones are gone, and in the next minute it leaves us weeping uncontrollably.  I can attest that getting out in the dirt has been vital to me accepting my new circumstances of life without my dad.  I was able to grab my hoe and kill as many weeds as I wanted.  Viciously may I add.  However, in the next minute I could hit the ground and cry it out, without anyone seeing me other than the Lollipop Guild.  I blamed a lot of tears and a few choice words from my grief on the sand burs out here.  Sorry Lollipop Guild, this mommy isn’t perfect.  Oh….the memories they will have.

HEALING

The talks I have had with God while in the garden have been good too.  He constantly reminds me to lean into Him.  That He can take all my anger, pain, and grief.  To hand it over to Him because He knows.  I am a selfish toad at heart, and have a hard time when God’s plan and mine don’t align.  Despite that, God has allowed the death of my dad to really deepen my faith.

God has shown Himself to me in so many ways, and usually when I’m outdoors.  Watching the life cycle of all those plants, and how disease can ravage a crop in no time.  How the pests sometimes come in and totally kill your lovely pumpkin plants…..(but who’s bitter?).  However, knowing new seeds can be planted, and that the sun will rise tomorrow gives me hope.  God’s hand can be seen everywhere.  From the amazing miracle we call “watermelon” to the sweet song of a cardinal.  Being in the garden can help bring life back into perspective.  Nature is all a lovely miracle to soak in, and to be thankful for.  My dad taught me that one!

Just after this picture my dad handed me over to the Wizard. It was one of two times in my life I saw my dad have tears.  Although,  it might have been tears of joy to get rid of me.

The memories I have of my dad constantly fill my head and heart.  To sum him up in a few words would be the following:  Try your best and never give up, always thank the good Lord for everything you have, and family matters.

These values have been driven into me my entire life through words and actions.  The Wizard, coming from a similar background, knows all too well the meaning of hard work.  The man has held jobs since he could drive a tractor at age 7!!!  Don’t get me started on that one.  I pray we can install the same work ethic into our children, minus the prepubescent tractor driving.  Initially, that is in fact, the entire reason we wanted to start a Christmas tree farm.  To give the kids a job, let them see what it is to earn what you want in life, and all the while learning what you need.

 

THANKFULNESS

I am thankful for our fathers, and the time we had on this earth with them.  Two men who pushed for the best, and knew where to send their thanks.  They have given us memories to last a life time.  Hopefully heaven has tomatoes, honeysuckle, and even some work to do.  I firmly believe God will give me janitorial duties one day, but I’m cool with that.  You can find me sweeping that yellow brick road for eternity, and maybe my old man will even help me out.

 

In memory

 

Paul D. Gray, Jr. (my dad)

 

Jerry Garland Evatt (Pa Wizard)

 

 

 

” I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  2 Timothy 4:7

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sep 8
2017

Resourceful Friends

 

 

Do you ever feel lost?  Not knowing where to turn when you need some answers?

Yes, Jesus would be a correct answer.  However, I’m talking about in the garden, out in the field, your flower bed, or even the chicken coop.  Having resourceful friends to help you along the way will make life so much easier for the homesteader.  In fact, it has been so helpful to us, that it has inspired a song.

Get ready.

My version of Mr. Garth’s greatest hit.

 

 

 

 

 

ahemmm……..

I blame it all on dry roots.  I showed up in red boots.  And ruined my perfectly quaffed hair.

The last one to know, to turn or where to go.  I was the most unlikely homesteader to share.

And I saw the surprise.  The fear in my own eyes. When I lost my first garden to lack of rain.

I roasted a few.  Said I might be through.  But that’s the last I’ve complained (lie).

‘Cause I’ve got friends that help grow my places.

Where the information drowns, and the cheers chase my blues away.

And I think, I’ll be okay.

I’m not big on social places.  Think I’ll slip on down to my garden oasis.

Oh, I’ve got friends that help grow my spaces!!!

 

OK.  I got that out of my system.  I hope that got any questions out of your system as well.

  1. Yes, I am a dork
  2. I have some amazing friends I would like to introduce to you!!

They are my Resourceful Friends!!

 

Resourceful Friends: You know, the kind that may not even be aware they ARE your friend.  However, you think they were sent from Heaven.  You hang on their every word.  They ooze information with grace and dignity.

You know the type!

 

 

Here are a few of my Resourceful Friends.  They hold a special place in my tin heart.  I don’t mind sharing my friends, so please friend away!!

 

 

Oklahoma Department of Agriculture   http://www.oda.state.ok.us/

That’s right.  The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture (ODA) is an awesome resourceful friend, just ready to give-give-give all you’re willing to take.  I am fairly certain all fifty states have a similar program as well.  ODA has links to agritourism information, which we definitely appreciate since we grow Christmas trees.  http://oklahomaagritourism.com

They clearly display agricultural laws.  Examples: Can I sell my chicken eggs?  Restrictions on having a bee hive in your backyard, chickens in city limits, etc..

ODA gives you information on grants = free money!!  They have an awesome grant called the Agricultural Enhancement and Diversification Program, that is just waiting for anyone in this dusty place to call their own!! We are currently working on that diversification aspect.  Long term goals.  As in, ODA and I will be together for the long haul.

This resourceful friend even has the link to the forestry department which is where you can purchase tree seedlings for VERY cheap that are native to your area.  We order from them on a yearly basis, and the quality and services are excellent.  http://www.forestry.ok.gov/

ODA…….I love you.  Yea, they didn’t hear me. Moving on.

 

Autry Technology Center…..also known as, the VO-TECH.  https://autrytech.edu/small-business-entrepreneurship/

Coolest resourceful friends ever!  Our local vocational school/vo-tech, Autry Tech, has some amazing information my friends!  (Didn’t you know that you’re my friend too??  lol) For starters, we are starting a Christmas tree farm.  Which means we will be dealing with customers, money, and taxes.  Insert longest SIGH imaginable……for the taxes of course!!!  Well, my friends down at Autry Tech offer regular free tax workshops for small businesses!  It might scare the flying monkeys out of you, but I would personally rather be aware of what I’m jumping into.

Autry Tech also has a small business and entrepreneurship division, which has some amazing people that you can meet with for FREE.  They are so helpful in helping navigate the murky waters of owning a business.

“Should you be an LLC?”  “How do I write a business plan?”  “Any grants available?”

 They even have a contest they hold every year where you can enter your small start up business for a $10,000 grand prize, AND access to their amazing business facilities.  Tis true!

They are some great resourceful friends and cheerleaders to help you along the way.

Autry small business and entrepreneurship division…..I love you.

 

Business Boutique book by Christy Wright.  https://www.businessboutique.com

This GEM is my resourceful friend that comes with me everywhere.  Transferred from the diaper bag, to the purse, and to the couch on a daily basis.  I have read it once, and have started over again.  I loved it that much.  The first time was just to absorb content.  Round two is to put methods into action.

Christy Wright has been able to pull off writing a book that truly helps you put your dreams of owning a business into a believable and attainable reality.  Laying out a tiered method that once implemented should get you on your way.  It answers questions, has some awesome advice, and did I mention it’s funny?  It is an easy read that I personally did not want to put down.  If you have ever thought about opening a business, in whatever aspect imaginable, please get this book.  (I am not paid to say that either.)

The Wizard actually bought me this book since it is geared towards woman owned businesses, and I couldn’t be more thankful for it.

I love you Wizard, and I love the Business Boutique!

 

Garfield County Cooperative Extension Office.  http://oces.okstate.edu/garfield

Upon first meeting, you might hear the lights in their office buzzing louder than your screaming child.  However, once you get past first impressions, you will find this place to be a treasure trove.  It is the Wizard’s favorite resourceful friend by far.  Information just doesn’t stop coming from these people.  Our local cooperative extension office is affiliated with Oklahoma State, which is a mecca for all things ag.  So of course, their access to ag related information is almost unheard of.  Oklahoma State is where the Wizard went to college after all, so maybe that explains how we got to be so wizardy.  hmmmm…….deep thoughts.

How can they help you?

Have questions on your garden?  The master gardeners are just a phone call away.

Need a soil and/or water test before you plant your garden?  They will walk you through it, and provide the results.

Diseased trees?  What the heck is that bug?  How do I compost?

It is through this, that the Wizard and I found a lot of resources and information about the Christmas tree industry before we jumped in.  I appreciate this group a lot.  I am certain there are other branches of extension offices throughout our fair land.  So be sure to look up your nearest one!  Super helpful.

OSU Extension office…….the Wizard loves you!

 

And last on my list for today ( I could go on and on and on ……inherited that gene from my mother….love you mom)

Craigslist.  http://www.searchcraigslist.org/

The type of resourceful friend that has connections.  As you may know, it was through the above link that I found half of the items for the construction of our “new” old farmhouse.  It is through Craigslist that I have found chickens, cats, my dog (German Shepherd= smarter than me), and other various homestead needs…..wants….whatever.

Craigslist……I like you a lot.  You can be sleezy.  You’ve burned me a few times, but you’re alright…. I guess.

 

I hope you find some of the above links helpful, and hopefully they will at least steer you in the right direction.  Resourceful friends when starting a homestead are almost as important as a sense of humor.  Inevitably you will mess up, just as we have, and will need someone to drag you through the trenches.  These are your people.  And don’t forget, we’re friends too ya know.

 

 

 

Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.  Proverbs 13:20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aug 24
2017

A Lasagna Garden

The summer is coming to an end, and I’m exhausted….in a good way.  We planted a fairly large garden, and spent a lot of time fighting the weeds.  Despite the set backs, we were still able to reap the rewards of harvesting our own fruits and veggies throughout the summer.  I also got a lot of experience/wisdom, peace, work ethic, and most importantly….toned arms. Ha! However, I honestly don’t have the time to devote hours on end to keeping my garden free of weeds.  Something has got to change.

It’s time for a LASAGNA GARDEN.

My personal favorite harvest item.

The garden we planted this year might have been a bit too large.  We tend to bite off more than we can chew at times, but I don’t mind a challenge. Knowing the hard work would definitely pay off when it came time to feed my family.  I loved getting outside, and didn’t even mind the sweat!  However, the weeds brought me to a state of despair.

“Is this how I’m going to spend my time every summer?  Flipping weeding?!”

 “How am I going to do this when I’m older?”

 “ugh….my aching back…..(wide eyeballs…OMG I am turning into my mother!)”

MEH!

The Wizard and I did some research into alternative gardening methods.  He found some great stuff and so did I.  Conceptually coming to the same conclusions in each method.  More produce, better soil, and less weeds.

The new method we are going to use is called lasagna gardening.  Ever heard of it?  Its genius.  Just like most things in life, it brings simplicity back around to thump you on the side of the head.

“Hey dummy, why don’t you quit making things harder on yourself and just do it the way God designed it to be done?”  (That’s what it said to me anyway…….)

Derrrrr (just awful)

A lasagna garden is a system that makes perfect sense in organic natural environments.  Read the testimonies of the thousands around the world who have been doing it for a while, and you will see some converted believers!  The system includes recreating the organic strata of materials that are found in undisturbed soils and ecosystems.  For a visual example, just go for a walk in the woods.  Debris drops to the forest floor and without any help from man kind, creates a dark rich humus where the seeds of flowers and trees grow!! Simple and amazing.

Basically, you’re layering organic materials to grow your garden.   No tilling, or digging required!

Here’s a play by play for a lasagna garden:

  1. Pick a flat area with adequate sunshine throughout the day.
  2. Start with a few layers of newspaper or cardboard spaced out on your garden area.  (Do not use glossy paper….it will not decompose) Place this stratum of materials directly onto the grass or in our case, weed infested garden.  Yep, right over those rotten pumpkins (squash bugs…grrrr).  This will smother the grass/weeds and allow everyone’s bff, the earthworm, to do it’s thang.
  3. Next, add 1-2″ of peat moss or compost
  4. Add any of the following, but make sure you alternate carbons and nitrogens.  You can add peat moss between each layer.  Hence, the whole lasagna theme.
    • CARBONS (A.K.A. “da Browns”):  Peat moss, straw, fallen leaves (not oak), newspapers, cardboard, pine needles used sparingly, and wood chips.
    • NITROGENS (the greens): Manure, grass clippings, and kitchen waste/compost (see composting rules)
  5. Let this cook or decompose for a few seasons, watering regularly (late summer or fall would be the optimum time to start process)
  6. When the time comes around to plant seeds, don’t till or dig giant holes.  Simply drop seeds in your rich and fertile soil.
  7. Mulch with small wood shavings or chips to further hinder weeds
  8. Watch it grow!

Now doesn’t that sound nice?  No more tilling the ground, or weeding!  Aching backs be gone! Put in this extra hard work upfront to create the right environment, and hopefully we will all reap bountiful rewards.

Lasagna gardening!  Bada bing!

Side notes:

The Wizard and I were thrifty about collecting our materials…..surprise, surprise!

The lollipop guild helping.  Notice we are saving the okra, which is the Wizard’s favorite item.

We got newspapers end rolls from the local newspaper office.  They were nice to have, and made the job go much faster!

The Wizard

We also called a local sale barn where we knew there would be lots of cow manure.  Best part, it was free!! We had to load it up in our truck, but other than that it was pretty painless…… for manure!!

 

I also pulled a crazy, and pulled over anytime I saw some tree trimmers working.  I would ask if I could have their wood chips, and they said yes!  Just call and ask, or if you want to join club crazy…. just stalk them like me.

(****Make sure you ask tree trimmers if wood chips came from any diseased trees!  If so, you do NOT want!!)

 

Here is the method the Wizard found.  I absolutely love it.  This guy is great and so inspiring.  I definitely encourage you to make and take some time to watch this video.  It won’t disappoint.

http://www.backtoedenfilm.com/

 

Here is the method I found.  Same concept, but different method of achieving results.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/lasagna-gardening-zmaz99amztak

I hope you find this helpful.  Like usual, do your research, and see what you think.  I hope we can share success stories soon!!  Good luck!

 

For the Lord gives wisdom, from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:6

 

Aug 8
2017

You CAN do it

DISCLAIMER:  I do not know everything about building houses!  This is our opinions and experiences.

 

If you want something done right, ya gotta do it yourself.

  This statement didn’t really ring so true until we decided we wanted to build a house.  Like I have mentioned, the quotes we got from builders were just absurd.  You would have thought we were asking them to build a rocket ship to take us to the moon!  It was a rude awakening that we couldn’t afford what we really wanted in a house.  Boo Hoo right?  Well, we got to thinking, what about the home makes it so expensive?

  • Unfinished attic space  that can be USED (shocking thought concept)
  • Custom kitchen cabinets (not just for royalty)
  • Porches (draining the builders bottom line)
  • REAL anything (wood doors, etc.)
  • Anything involving craftsmanship  (Cinderella wishes)

 

WHY?!?

 

It shouldn’t be this way.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  The answer?

Do it yourself.  Skip the builder.  You become the contractor.  You actually get to make decisions and control how the money is spent on your project.  A builder might say they will build your house for cost plus 10%, but in reality let’s just say you could be getting A LOT more for your money if you did it yourself.  You will be paying for the builders convenience, and what will make their job easier.  Do you really think a builder is going to search the U.S. for the best price on the flooring you picked? Very very doubtful, but I did and saved thousands.  You can too!

From what we got quoted by multiple builders, to what we ended up paying by doing it ourselves on the exact same project, using the exact same blueprints, with OUT taking away from our wants list???  We saved $200,000!!  YES.  It is true.  It happened.  This is why I’m passionate about getting what you want with your money that you have worked so hard for.  If I can do it you can too!!!  I have a biology degree with zero experience in the construction business.  Don’t get me wrong.  It was very very beneficial to have someone like my husband, the Wizard, on board.  He’s an engineer by day, and a semi-genius when it comes to building things.  However, like I said he has a day job.  He wasn’t here nailing all the pieces of our house together.  We contracted this thing out.  We did do some minor things in the building of the house, but it was usually me and the Lollipop Guild here during the day making sure contractors were coming as promised, and that things were coming together as planned for the day.  We also called and got quotes for the different stages of our project, and collected materials……wanted and needed.  (Craigslist and  Ebay will be your best friend.)

The Lollipop Guild doing a daily check!

 

So what is it you need to get your project going?   No, not tequila shots………

A recipe book on how to be your own contractor!

There are a lot to choose from out there.  I recommend reading reviews on all of them.  See what people have had the most success with.  We made a mistake and went with an outfit that gave us the recipe book along with some “promised” help in the inspection and budgeting department.  Long story short, we got a recipe book.  Also I can’t mention their name because we fired them…..get used to that too.  I am not good with telling people I don’t think they are preforming up to snuff.  Makes me feel awkward, and I haaate hurting people’s feelings.  As Dave Ramsey says, buckle up buttercup.  It has to happen when building a house.  Sometimes ya gotta give people the boot.  It will help save you money in the end.

A firm foundation. One of life’s best lessons in theory and reality.

Just a side story ………An example of builder logic:

We personally didn’t want a garage on our home for multiple reasons….mainly because I am a werido about aesthetics and authenticity, and we were shooting for a Victorian farmhouse.  So, we told the builder this and he said they would deduct $1,000 from the overall quote.  Logical conclusion, a garage cost more than $1,000 to build.  So shouldn’t the price come down more?  Nope.  Not in builder world.  They will corner you into building the house that they want to build.  What materials they already have, and what building systems they already have in existence (ex: “standard three car garage”, arched doors, ten foot ceilings, tile here, wood there….blah).   Waiver from their pattern and ya better have a fat wallet.  It will cost you for custom.

 

Good news for you.  Now you know it doesn’t have to.  Pray about it.  Think about it.  Do your homework, and ask yourself where you want to spend your money when building a house.  Maybe its not worth the hassle to save a few thousand or hundred thousand.  For us there wasn’t an option.

Yea……I’m a geek. This was my face throughout the project. Lord help us.

 

Just another lovely side note.  We ended up having the most fun as a family going on trips to get items for the house.  We would map out our path and take off on a Saturday to hit our different Craigslist pick ups in the most efficient way possible.  We found a set of five old doors from a Victorian farmhouse with hardware attached for $150!  A brand new stainless steel farmhouse style sink that had a tiny scratch for $20…..still in original packaging!  Almost every light fixture in my home came from a lady redecorating her almost new house.  A Pottery Barn double vanity with marble top and matching mirrors for $300!  And my favorite…..a shoe box full of “old” door knobs that contained 12 perfect glass knobs for $20!  It IS out there folks.  I live in the middle of no where USA and found it.  Just imagine what could be found in more densely populated areas!  I get all giddy thinking about it.  Can I do this for a living?

One of our Craigslist finds for the house. Side note: Gather items BEFORE building begins!

I hope you find the courage to at least explore the options.  Like I mentioned, pray about it and do your research.  Tequila optional.

Good luck!!

 

For God has not given us a spirit of fear & timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

2 Timothy 1:7

Jul 26
2017

My Emerald City

  My Emerald City.

  The beginnings of our Christmas tree farm!  Started almost three years ago with a planting of a meager 35 trees, the tree farm took shape after dreaming of how we could share our faith, use our land, and teach the guild what the word “work” really means.

 I grew up in North East Texas where there might be as many pine trees as there are people.  So smelling the scent of pine definitely makes me feel at home wherever I might be.  In this case, North West Oklahoma.  Population pine trees: 4??  (Let’s just say not very many.)  Definitely needing to increase the scent-o-pine.  So we amped up our plantings to about 600 in year 2, and we planted 700 this last March (year 3).  Whew!

That’s me!  Tree hugger/planter/wa-wa-water girl

 

Insert three munchkins and a husband with a full time job, and you’ve got yourself a busy schedule.  Especially when you don’t have your irrigation set up yet.  Yep!  Remember yonder windmill?  It wasn’t around yet, much less pumping water to my little city of trees!  So, guess what we have had the pleasure of doing the last three years?  WATERING BY HAND!!!  (I say that in a slightly haggared and bitter tone with a dash of wisdom.)

Word to all who would like to start an tree farm…..make sure you have irrigation plans complete or very close to finished.  Yes, we were naive on our estimate of time needed to set up irrigation.  Yes, I would not recommend owning four different head lamps so you can go water the trees at night after the Guild has gone to bed.  Yes, we are crazy.

“Me and buckets have a love hate relationship.”

 

Not all who want to start a Christmas tree farm need irrigation though.  Maybe you are blessed with a climate that does not reach 105 degrees throughout the months of July and August, and receives more than 30 inches of rain per year.  If so, I am fairly confident you would be fine with out it.  Here, its a necessity!

 

  The Emerald City is looking better and better with time.  Christmas trees are usually not ready to be cut down until at least year 5, and sometimes year 6 for the average 6 foot tree.  So patience is the key, along with water, fertilization, moth control, weeding, pruning, optimum spacing, and commitment.  All of which I will completely elaborate on in coming posts.  So much to talk about y’all!!!!

All in all, Christmas tree farms are a great way to bring beauty to the land, share your faith, start traditions, and get the entire family involved.  It’s hard work, but so awesome and rewarding!  I highly recommend it, even if buckets are involved!!

 

……..ugh….buckets…..

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if working for the Lord.  Colossians 3:23

 

Jul 19
2017

The Why…….oh why

 

 

To have thought I would ever be in the middle of North West Oklahoma starting a Christmas tree farm and building my own house, all with my three kids, toto, and a personal wizard, would have been a dream beyond measure ten years ago.  I was a prosthetic practitioner in an earlier life, known as my twenties.  Young, ambitious, and single I spent my days working at my job and hanging out with friends.   How quickly life can change.  Although I do miss helping patients learn to walk again and seeing their lives change, I know the Lord has led me down this road, and I’m holding on.

My husband was raised on a large farm and learned from an early age about work ethic, and the ability to fix things.  I mean ANYTHING!  This was mind blowing to me, and I quickly realized how lacking my skill set is in the “fix it” department.  The more I thought about it, I realized how vastly different not only my life was, but most everyone’s is from 50 years ago.  (Unless you were raised on a farm apparently.)

Gone are the days of most any of us knowing how to fix anything.  How about knowing how to feed our own faces?  Sewing anyone?  Providing shelter if needed?  Not me!  The basic human skill sets that have been around since ol’ Adam and Eve, are  becoming extinct at an increasing rate in OUR generation.

I chewed on all this for a long time and upon sharing the growing uneasiness of my revelations to my husband, I quickly learned he was of the same mind set.  Whew!  I’m not a total weirdo…….besides the red shoes, but whatevs.  Not only are we quickly losing our basic human skill sets, but there is alarming news to think about!  FACT:  the world population is growing.  The space on the surface of the world is not.  Wowzers!  I know!

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, the world food production will need to increase by a staggering 70% to keep up with the human population projected by the year 2050.  WHAT?!  Just being logical here, but think about the rising energy prices to get this food distributed.  The government regulations of green house emissions (apparently the production and distribution of food is a major contributor), AND the increasing losses of farmland to urbanization!  Sorry, I’m shouting aren’t I?  Its pretty easy to see that in the near future there might be some kinks in the road, and coincidentally at the same time that we will have almost assuredly lost our skill sets to know how to ever do anything on our own.  I don’t know about you guys, but suddenly watching TV didn’t hold such a strong appeal.  I gotz work to do y’all!

 

  1. Learn how to grow our own food
  2. Learn how to be more resourceful with what we already have (land, money, TIME)
  3. Know what it takes to get our own water.
  4. Get the kids working (muey importante!)

 

If you need anymore convincing this is headed our way, just look no further than your favorite billionaire, Bill Gates.  He has invested in Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, both plant based meat replacement companies founded on the fact that demand for meat is through the roof and it is one that can not be satisfied using animals.  No, we are not all becoming Vegans.  The reason: there is simply not enough water or land to satisfy the need.  Yikes.  Even Google has invested in the future of food production!  PEOPLE!  We all have work to do unless we want to be at the mercy of astronomical prices for feeding our families.  God has given us seeds.  God has given us dirt.  God has given us the sun and water.  All the ingredients needed to grow our own.  Along with that comes the need to be able to fix things, and a hefty dose of work ethic.

So, we have said our prayers and jumped in……..er….over the rainbow.   I hope you will see the importance of why you need too as well.  We can do it.  We were born to.  Let’s get to work!

 

Read more on Google and Mr. Gates’ investments into the food world here:

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/06/21/482322571/silicon-valley-s-bloody-plant-burger-smells-tastes-and-sizzles-like-meat

 

May God give you of heaven’s dew and of earth’s richness- An abundance of grain and new wine.  Genesis 27:28

Jul 6
2017

Water

Water.

It gets hot and dry out here in Oklahoma, and as you all know……nothing grows without water.  So here on our homestead we had to come up with a solution for our needs.  When building our home we had a well put in for the house.  HOWEVER, little did we know it would not pull a sufficient enough amount of water to supply our household needs.  Lovely.   Luckily, the Wizard did some magic and was able to trench and lay a water line for the house, which I will post more on later.  (Who is this guy?……A WIZARD!)  We still needed to use the well and not just let it sit there.  I mean we have a Christmas tree farm, a large fruit and veggie garden, and hopes of a cut flower operation.  The only logical thing to do was to get a windmill.  We quickly turned to Craigslist to find one.  (By the way, Nebraska and Iowa are flipping gold mines for farm needs and antiques. )  We found a 50 footer up in Nebraska and loaded up a truck and trailer to go get her.  I say we, but lets get real.  I have three small children (the guild) and that does not mix well with disassembling a 5o foot windmill.  So the Wizard and his brother headed out to get this thing down from its home of over 60 years!

 

Thar she blows!

The guys also had to hire a crane and operator to come help disassemble the windmill.  Just so happened to be that he lived down the road from the windmill, and was around to help with the job.  Who doesn’t believe in God?  I’m telling ya, the stars were aligned.  So on the windiest day in December the Wizard climbed up and started to take this thing apart.  Thankfully he survived and got her home safely.

Why would any sane person do this?  First of all, we are not totally sane.  Second of all, to save thousands and thousands of dollars.  Which we did!  Our next obstacle after getting her home was finding out how to get her back up.  Hmmmm…….crickets.  Thankfully after calling a windmill repair guy who knew of someone that knew someone, and then tracking that someone down through a neighboring town hall, we found a someone!!  After a series of events, the windmill was resurrected, and is now blowing freely in the Oklahoma wind.  Next up?  Getting a well house built, and irrigation set up to water those Christmas trees!  Never a dull moment.

 

 

WATER.

Can I get an amen?

 

 

But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.  John 4:14

Jun 26
2017

There’s No Place Like Home (Part 1)

Let me introduce you.

This is Dorothy, an old soul with a new heart (maybe we should have named her Tin Man……)

A brainchild (not a member of the lollipop guild) of the Wizard and myself.   She was dreamed up after realizing we wanted to build, but loved the soul of an older home.  Also after coming to the conclusion that its slim pickins’ out there in the world of house plans if you want the look of something old with an open floor plan.

We decided if we are going to spend money on a new home, whether building one or just purchasing, why not make it what we wanted.  It was such a great experience to have together.  We studied tons of books on older architecture, ratios and proportions, and the history of homes.  We had loads of fun looking at historic homes for inspiration and coming up with something that was reminiscent of yesteryear while accommodating our needs of a semi-modern family.  My list of necessities for this house was the following:

-needed to look old

-Have presence and not be swallowed up by our land  (since its in the middle of a 14 acre field/beginnings of a Christmas tree farm)

-PORCHES (such a shame that this is not included in newer homes since it doesn’t count towards sq footage.  Most builders see it as a drain on their bottom line…..pfffft!!)

-I needed to be able to see my kids while I am in the kitchen

-Mudroom a.k.a the dumping grounds

 

See I’m really not that high maintenance!  I swear.  This was my list.

Our next step, was to get some plans made.  So we found a graphic and building designer, or draftsmen,  that could draw up some plans for us based on our sketches and pictures.

HOLY MOLY!

It did NOT…..I repeat….did NOT go well at first.  Maybe it was because I was pregnant with the third member of the lollipop guild and had no patience left, or maybe (fact) because it was so terribly off from what I had imagined it would be, but it was like pulling teeth to get what we wanted.

“Are you sure you want the pitch of the roof that high?”

Me: “YES”

“Those windows are very tall.”

Me: “YES I am aware”

“ugh….that’s a lot of porch”

Me: “YES it sure is!”

See the first renderings?  YOWCH!

Not what we had in mind.  Thankfully the Wizard has a lot more patience than this gal, and was able to spend a lot of back and forth time with our designer getting what we wanted.  After months, and I mean months, of going over every detail it came out just as we had imagined.  I definitely encourage anyone wanting something totally custom to go this route, but don’t forget to have patience.  We got a 3D rendering and the ability to walk through and around the house before finalizing our plans.  It did cost a bit, but worth every dime.

The AFTER:

I will come back soon and talk all about the beauty of working with builders (hmmm….yes I am fake smiling), and getting our project off the ground.

Do you have any house dreams that seem a bit over the rainbow?  Tell me about them.

 

 

For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.  Hebrews 3:4