Wal-Mart… closed?!

Today the kids and I went to town to accomplish 3 things.  1) deposit check at the bank.  2) get building supplies at lowes to complete new chicken tractors.  3) get needed home supplies at Wal-Mart.  #1, check.  #2, check.  #3… no can do.

There was no storm anywhere in the tri-state area, the temperature was a beautiful 75 F (no heat/overuse grid problem), but for some reason Wal-Mart had NO ELECTRICITY today where I live.  It was out for quite a while.  There was no shopping to be done.  In fact, to make sure everything ran smoothly during the outage, police were on sight.

It was very strange.  People were coming out of the store empty handed saying, “no power”, or talking animatedly with each other.  A few cars kept trickling into the parking lot (power worked in the surrounding businesses), but there was a long line to get out of the parking lot.  We had all come to get what our families needed, but we had returned home empty-handed.  This does not happen very often, and I contemplated such an experience throughout the rest of my day.

What would happen if I went to buy what my family needed, and it just plain wasn’t available?  There was simply no way to buy it right now.  It could happen.  Power outages, grid overloads and blackouts, natural disasters, world events, and other occurrences are not some unheard of fairytale that only happens to other people.  It happens, here in America, and it could happen in my home town.  Now I don’t want to live in a state of fear or panic – the Lord will provide and take care of us.  But if you consider how people have lived for all of civilization (up until the last 60-80 years), preparing for unexpected times was historically normal living.  Only the last few generations have relied completely upon 24/7 availability at a retail store.  And realistically, there are times and will continue to be times when that is not possible.

What would my family need should Wal-Mart and the other stores power not resume to normal after a few hours?  Or a few days or weeks?  Would we have the food and medicine and water that we need?  Would we have the household supplies to take care of ourselves should our power go out?  There have been times when an ice storm has kept the power off for more than a week even here in the southern state of Oklahoma.  Would I have what we need to take care of our family for a while without power, without Wal-Mart?

It’s worth considering.



My Homeschool Day: Success or Failure?

As homeschool moms we are tempted to compare our daily lives and, our children’s lives, with others, and may be naggingly tugged to feel guilty about it, or even a twinge of failure every now and then.

Take today for example.  Or, this week even.  We are winding down after a long 9-10 months in school, and trying to finish up the last things.  The last math unit, the last spelling units, the last grammar concepts… and it’s like pulling teeth!  Has anyone else noticed that it is beautiful outside?!!   Does anyone else remember that soon after these beautiful days called spring, that we will be brave to step outside for more than 5 minutes any time after 10 am because of the stifling heat?  I remember.  And when I look out my backdoor and see my children playing to their heart’s content, lapping up God’s creation, joining with Him in creative play… I can’t bring myself to strap them to the chair and pin their nose to a workbook.  Call me crazy, I just can’t do it.

Today my children helped with family chores – feeding and watering chickens and rabbits.  They rode their bikes and showed me how fast they could go.  They accompanied me on a farm supply trip and my son proved his manhood by loading heavy bags of wood-chips into the car.  My daughter beat all the odds and strengthened her emotional stability in the stores, holding it together when she wanted to fall apart.  They sat down together with both mother and father for a wholesome lunch of beans and cornbread.  After lunch, they descended upon the sandbox, where they played in harmony and lost track of time.  When it came time for Judah’s nap, Jeremiah finished up a while in the sandbox, then took a break to make some homemade fresh squeezed lemonade.  He brought me out a sample twice while I watered the garden.  He then put 3 cookies into a baggie and rode his bike across the field, along the “secret pathway“, to Nini’s house.  They shared the cookies (1 for papa, too), and hashed over the day’s events.  Then she invited him to ride over to my sister’s garden to fix a piece of tubing for their irrigation.  They hopped in the car, and in a while he’ll be back here, content and full from his day of unhurried, uncontrolled, non-structured learning.

So was today a homeschool success of failure? 

If you’re looking from a purely academic stand point, there may be room for growth; however when the entire year of academic and developmental learning is considered, I am certain that even with days like today, they have learned and grown an entire year’s worth of growth.  And there will be other days for spelling words and math problems – probably when the oppressive heat locks us in our home.  That’s what we did last summer.

I think that this homeschool day – popcorn at the farm store, lemonade in the garden, cookies with Nini, and unhurried creative play… can’t be beat.  I’d be willing to wager that they grew and learned more from today than they would have if I had cracked open the books.    And for that reason, I love homeschool.   


An Ugly Day in the Garden

Tomorrow is 9 weeks that we have lived in our new home here at the Haugan rancho.  And today I have reached my limit on clutter.  CLUTTER!!!  Piles here, piles there, piles everywhere.  Okay, not everywhere – but I am really ready for some order around here.  So, I wrote out a list, room by room, of the things I’d like to finish or reorganize.  There are about 30 things to do on the list, some of them small and some of them large.  I bet most of the small ones get done first.  But even if they do, if I do just one thing per day I will be much more settled in here just a month from now.  Knowing myself better than that, I bet it won’t take quite that long.  But seeing it on the page makes it feel much more doable if I just pace myself, one thing at a time.  Tonight I unpacked the children’s medicine into a bin and organized it, and gave it a new home in a cabinet.  I also threw out a few unneeded or old items.  That’s the beauty of organizing – in the process you also simplify.  Less is more.

In other news, the wheat crop in the field around us is gorgeous this year.  It is tall and strong and waves like the ocean when the wind blows.  We are just weeks away from harvesting it and I think I will miss the pretty green wheat.  For a while it will be yellow stubble, and then the 20 acres around us will be put into grass for pasture, and the rest of the field will be sesame!  A brand new crop for us this year, we’re trying a few fields of sesame.  I’ve never seen a sesame, so I am looking forward to watching it grow.

It was bound to happen – I do live in a field.  You guessed it, I found a snake.  Not the farmer, but I found it.  I was happily shoveling away in my wood chips pile, mulching my newly planted strawberries.  And without warning, there the ugly black thing was in the pile.  Of course, I ran and screamed for the farmer.  Luckily, he was home.  He came out and dug through the pile until he found it and did what had to be done with any such enemy.  Luckily I was out of town for a few days after that.  It sort of gave me time to air out after such an incident in my garden.  With that ugly incident, bug trouble in the garden, and the new elephant mosquitoes that are attacking me in the cool of the evening, I am about to lose my desire to be in the garden.  A sad sad thing.  So tonight I got back on the proverbial horse and dug my shovel into the wood chips again, hoed some weeds from the raspberry plants, and mulched away.  No ugly sightings this time, though I did finally go inside after the mosquitoes got larger than quarters.  Not sure I will have the brevity to mulch when the farmer isn’t home anytime soon.  I used up my small pile tonight and will have to have a new pile dumped over by my garden.  It will be a few feet deep at least.  Eeeekkkk…..  The farmer really loves mulching, I’m just sure he’s been wishing I’d let him help me with that. 

I haven’t posted many pictures of my garden, and the truth is that I am such a novice at this that I probably won’t unless I have some great successes.  In early spring the seedlings sprouting and growing are always exciting and such a miracle to enjoy.  But then the hard work of fighting off a sky full of hungry bugs begins, and I, unwilling to use chemicals, feel so helpless.  I’m going to try Neem, maybe order some lacewings or ladybugs – but I don’t feel to hopeful.  It seems no matter how exciting reading gardening books is in March, horticulture is a science that will take much perseverance to learn.

Here’s to the death of every offending bug and snake in the surrounding 20 mile area. 


A Laundry Room Life Makeover

This week marks two months since we moved to our new house.  Our old house had gas appliances and our new one is all electric.  The house came with an electric stove, but it did not have a washer or dryer.  We brought our washing machine with us.  I had been using an indoor drying rack on and off for 6 months (to help keep the house cool in summer, etc), so I decided to delay buying a dryer.  It’s been two months now that I haven’t had a dryer and I am doing just fine with the dryer rack.

I use one like this that I found in the laundry aisle for $15 or so.  I hot glued some clothes pins to some paint stir sticks, connected them to a pants hanger and use two of those for extra socks, rags, etc.  If I have extra towels that don’t fit on the rack I throw them over the kid’s shower rod for a few hours.  I dry Keith’s work clothes outside on the porch, and often hang up shirts to dry inside.  There is no laundry hanging in my living room or kitchen, nor is it all over our bedrooms.  It seems to fit nicely in the laundry room and on the shower rod.  I can do a load of clothes, a load of towels, and Keith’s work clothes on one day, then finish up the next day with a second load of clothes.  If we have another load I will usually do it a day or two later to make sure it’s a full load.

So we are using no electricity to dry our clothes and that’s a good savings and it’s also self-sufficient living approved. 🙂  I have always hatedfolding and putting away laundry.  Not sure why, but it is one of my procrastinated chores.  But using a drying rack, when I remove the item from the rack, I simply fold it and stack it and since the kids’ rooms are right there I go put it away.  I am sure it is mental, but somewhere between no big stack of baskets of clean clothes and it’s just a few things on a rack, the chore seems to have gone away.  Same amount of clothes, but in its new form the dread has gone.  🙂  Yay.

So when you pair up making my own laundry soap this winter (still using and liking it) and changing from a dryer to a clothes drying rack, it seems my laundry room life has undergone a complete makeover!  For now, perhaps for always, I will keep my washing machine.  I like it.  ♥  Happy laundry day!


Raising Chickens

I desire to raise more of my family’s food.  Much more of it.  In fact, I would like to raise almost all of it if ever I could.  I would LOVE to have a larder packed full of row after row of home-grown, home-preserved, organic and super-healthy sustenance.  We have expanded our garden quite a bit this year, though it is still a far cry from producing a year’s worth of vegetables and fruit for a family.  We’ll get there, step by step.

Day Old Chicks in the Brooder.  We keep the tops of the feeders open the first day or two because amazingly they are small enough to get stuck in there.  ;)

Day Old Chicks in the Brooder. We keep the tops of the feeders open the first day or two because amazingly they are small enough to get stuck in there. 😉

One of the main ways we are growing our own food right now is by raising chickens.  Every day the little ones go out to gather the eggs… like fresh manna every morning at our house.  I don’t think the wonder of those eggs appearing out there every morning will ever wear off.  We love our laying hens, and we love their eggs.  We also raised our first batch of meat chickens last fall.  It went fairly well for a first run and has been good eats for us all through the winter and spring.  We are expanding our chicken farm this year to provide free-range chicken and eggs not only for our family but for many families.  We will be selling both chicken and eggs in a few months, and right now we are in the thick of chick season.

The farmer has spent the last month rebuilding a planter and a disk, as planting season will be upon us in a matter of days now.  He drug that disk through the fields yesterday evening and all day today, and crashed into bed this evening – 14 hours bumping through the field can really take its toll.  He has worked very hard this month, and I am really proud of him.  I’m not sure how he knows how to rebuild a planter or a disk, or set up the guidance system and 2 other computers that go in the tractor, but I am really thankful that he does.  But back to my original thought path – we are up to our necks in chickens around here!

Right now we have 160 almost 2 month old pullets out there, who will begin laying 50-60 dozen eggs a week in a few months.  We have 250 broilers (meat birds) who just got moved out of the brooder, about 2 1/2 weeks old.  We have another 225 3-day-old chicks in the brooder, cute as can be.  We have 3 more batches just like that coming in the next 3 weeks.  At the height of chick season in about 3 weeks we will have 1150 broilers and 160 pullets, as well as the miscellaneous rabbits, roosters, turkeys, and our own family laying flock.  By that time, I am hoping that the farmer will have his crops planted…or at least be getting close.

My Feed Run Today

Simultaneously starting two businesses at once is a big job for any couple.  There is much to be done.  I am so glad that my body has held up physically, as I am not the strongest of stock.  I have picked up chickens from the post office, gotten them settled into their brooder, restocked the brooder with wood chips, restocked food and water daily, washed out waterers, and yesterday moved 250 broilers out to a chicken tractor in a scorching spring heat wave (with the help of my son).  Today I got to pick up 2 tons of chicken feed at the coop, cruise through KFC on my way back with some lunch, and catch escaped chickens from their pen.  I have worked the ground by hand and planted my garden almost entirely myself.  And I say this because I am so thankful for the strength and stamina to work, with my body and my hands, with God’s creation outside my doorstep each day.  What a privilege, what a joy.

And tomorrow I get to wake up and do it all over again… 🙂  Wohoo!




Confessions of an Introvert Homeschool Mom

I had an hour alone in the garden today, and other than the fact that I was huffing and puffing and hurrying to get my project done before my time was up, I was enjoying being alone.  I had time to think, which seems rare these days.

With longer daylight hours upon us, the kids’ bedtime has been pushed back usually nearing 9 pm.  Spring is heavy upon us at the farm, with the constant push to get more done than humanly possible before the next rain, which is every few days.  The farmer feels the burden of a first year farm’s worth of work to do, Mt. Everest before him.  He has little time to give the introvert homeschool mom her usual breaks.  Things I usually do alone I have done together lately – grocery shopping, sometimes meal preparation, or a night out with a friend.  To put it concisely, I have less time to myself these days.  Certainly there will be chatter in the room before I finish this blog.

Self-awareness is a good thing.  Not self-centeredness or self-absorbtion, but self-awareness.  What is my nature, what makes me tick, when do I thrive, how to I relate, where are my strengths, where are my weaknesses? One thing I have more completely understood about myself the last few years is how much of an introvert I am than I previously thought.  I have also gained a clearer understanding about what an introvert is.  Being introverted is not the same as being shy.  Introverts do not necessarily have any fear of social judgement that would cause shyness.  Rather, introverts find too much socializing (or interaction) exhausting and would rather in be alone or in the company of a select few people.  Introverts have a great ability to focus for long periods of time, giving them the ability to learn skills well, listen thoroughly, consider and weigh the risks and benefits of a given situation, as well as other strengths.  Also introverts prefer to avoid excessive amounts of stimulation.  A peaceful evening reading a great book may be preferred over a social gathering, and the “M” on the mute button is usually worn off on an introvert’s remote control, or perhaps the remote may even be lost (or hidden).

So with my new understanding of what being an introvert is, I find that it describes me almost completely.  I prefer quiet and dim places.  I will often move to a different table if one is too loud or too bright.  I have also been known to unscrew the light bulb from a light fixture that hangs just above the table.  For each house I have lived in, the thing I disliked the most about each one of them was the noises in or outside of the house.  Those who had the quietest nature brought me the most comfort.  I am easily overstimulated, and will usually find a quiet place to escape during gatherings for a bit of decompression before reentering the social setting.  I have even been known to chunk perfectly good noisy toys in the trash.  I have always preferred to have only a few close friends, and rarely enjoy being with acquaintances.  I have always (since early childhood) enjoyed spending time alone doing quiet activities such as reading, writing, scrapbooking, sewing, gardening, even baking and cooking.  3-4 hours can fly by when I am alone after everyone else has gone to bed, as my focus is allowed to run its course until sleep takes over.  I have a few extroverted tendencies – I willingly participate in class discussions, I will express my thoughts and ideas confidently, and I am willing to take charge if I must.  Nonetheless, all of this to say – I am an introvert, and proud of it.  

So embracing my introvert self, I realize that it is okay to enjoy time alone.  I have at times felt guilty for wanting to be alone (translated “without my kids”).  There have actually been seasons when I truly did savor our long days together, enjoying being with my beloved children, and smiling on them as we shared hour after hour and day after day together.  I do love them immensely.  But as an introvert, I do not express my love to anyone by wanting to be with them 24/7 without any breaks.  Yes, I want to be with my children.  It is my choice to be a stay-at-home mom and to homeschool, it is not forced upon me.  But that does not mean that I do not also want to be alone.  I want to be alone.  Lately, with the great demands of building a new farm from scratch, the long process of moving and finishing house projects, all the extra that must be done these days has left me tired, in need of alone time as much as ever, and yet I have had less time alone than usual.  I have found that a struggle, and I am doing what I can to enjoy those moments that I do have alone.

This is a mild discomfort compared to great and strenuous trials, but I want to trust the Lord to sustain me through this time, to provide what I need personally and emotionally, and to conform me to the image of His Son.  Most surely He has created me and knows me and will walk with Me hand in hand, through all seasons of life be they short or long.  I am thankful I know where my Help comes from, and to Him I look.  And, I also look forward to 9pm.  🙂

Can any of you introvert homeschool moms relate?  Have you felt guilty for wishing for time alone, feeling inadequate that you don’t have what your children need every minute of every day?

Yep… one of them is showing me how long her arm is right now and chattering away as I finish this sentence.  *sigh*

Oklahoma Food Coop – A Great Place To Get Natural and Organic Food

As I mentioned in a previous post, it can be hard to get natural and organic foods in a rural area. I did discover that a local grocery store carries a pretty decent organic selection I had not yet discovered. I was pleased to discover that at Food Pyramid in Ponca City! I have been buying some organic produce and frozen goods there (frozen hamburger buns, corn, and mixed veggies mostly). But let me point you to the best source of locally raised organic and all natural food in Oklahoma – the Oklahoma Food Coop!

Here’s how it works. First check out their website. You can see the various products available, all Oklahoma grown. Keep in mind that the products available vary each month as the growing seasons change. Next, sign up to become a coop member. There is a small one time membership fee of $50. When your membership has been processed you can then shop online and fill up your cart with healthy locally grown food.  You pay when you pick up the food on delivery day.

Once a month farmers from all over the state deliver their food to the Coop. Then volunteers distribute the food to the correct drop off vehicle in coolers. The food is then delivered to your city where you meet the delivery truck to pick it up. It works beautifully!

I have gotten amazing grass-fed beef from the coop (the only beef we eat now). Cheese, butter, yogurt, and cream from grass-fed cows, organic wheat flour or grains, organic veggies (last month amazing lettuces, celery, and sweet potatoes), farm fresh eggs, and of course pastured poultry (grass-fed, hormone-free and antibiotic-free chicken)! There is really a huge variety of food raised right here in Oklahoma, and Oklahoma Food Coop makes it convenient to buy.

Keith and I here at Fifth Generation Farms will be the newest producers at the Oklahoma Food Coop this spring, soon to be selling our pastured chicken and free-range eggs.  We hope you’ll get signed up as a Coop member and support Oklahoma grown food!