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Preservation

Farmer Gavin

This gallery contains 12 photos.

It’s that time of year . . . to head on over to Apple Annies. Apple Annie’s is a pick-your-own farm. They have an orchard and a separate site for vegetables. We went last year, for the first time, with Nana & Papa. Most memorable moment: Mud-caked shoes. We had a great time and were busy canning in the following weeks. Apple Annie’s has a cornered market. They make you pick your food. And then they make you pay for it. And a hefty payment it is, by the way. […]


The Talk

The Beginning of the End

I just had “The Talk” with the boys. Gavin didn’t take it well.

Are you picky when it comes to milk? In my house we smell it, examine it, taste it and are still often leary about it. This week I’m forcing the kids use Almond Milk for their cereal. I have it on hand and I’m trying to save the rest of the Whole Milk for cooking. That didn’t go over well. It almost came down to tears. “Noooo, I hate that stuff,” whined Gavin this morning. Then, I explained that in two weeks, I am never going to buy cow’s milk again. Well, I’m not going to say “never”, but I don’t intend to.

Why?

Well, milk is so stink in’ expensive now. Have you noticed? And I buy the GMO-free milk which makes it so much more expensive than the big plastic gallon jug. I’ve had to limit the milk drinking by the boys to help it last longer. Boys can really drink a lot of milk!

But . . . the real reason, the reason that matters right this second, is that we are finally going to have goats! We have decided on two dairy goats. One is currently in milk, while the other is just living, breathing lawn mower. They are relatively young Alpines and they are sisters. Since goats are social creatures, we opted on getting two. Happy goats, more milk.

Not Just Milk

I’m excited to have the goat milk. Honestly, I’ve never even tried it. Duh, I know! But, we’re going to make it work and we are going to like it! Although having our own milk factory is totally cool, I’m most excited about what you can do with all that milk. Cheese!

I love goat cheese! Love it. Love, love, love.

The Ladies

Of course, my biggest problem right now is their names. Don’t worry. I’m a skilled problem solver.

There have been other considerations, but I think they are in the bag, baby.

The ladies are two years old and they have some interesting names. I’d prefer to rename them, mostly because they’ll be mine and there is something special about a name. At least for me. I don’t think Mateo really cares. Problem is . . . are the goats going to have a problem if I start calling them something different.

The names Cappuccino and Kit Kat just don’t fit for the Barker’s Faux Farm. Maybe Basil and Sage? Or Annabell and Bonnie? Agnes and Edith? The name Kit Kat is definitely going to have to change. Gavin suggested we name her Frappe  (Frapp or Frapper for all those that cannot pronounce it correctly).

I’m so excited! He he he.

Goat Mama,

Ginger

 

 


The Year of My Discontent

I’m no John Steinbeck.

Our family has in the States for a year now. Sometimes that year feels immeasurably long, while other times I cannot comprehend how this length of time averted me.

This has been a difficult year. We reintegrated and have been in a constant reverse-culture shock ever since. Honestly, it is so hard to live in America after living somewhere else for so long. You may think me crazy or snobbish, but things that Americans do without a second thought make me sick-hearted. The amount of waste, the amount of money being thrown around to impress people that you don’t know or like, the quest for bigger, better, and beyond, and finally the apparent absence of morality among this country’s citizens has me reeling. For the most part, I cannot relate to the people around me.

Thankfully, I spend my days with my kids. That at least brings me some measure of comfort. Homeschooling them turned out to be the right thing to do. Also the fact that we can drive to see our family. That, too, is a positive. But I thought things would “feel” different. In reality, some of things are not different at all. We literally could be living on the other side of the world.Excitement. Interesting. Adventure. Those are what I crave. Not the mundane and mediocrity. I can do that anywhere.

But what about day-to-day, moment-to-moment living? Sometimes I feel that I’m being suffocated by the garbage around me. Or maybe I just have too much room to breathe. Can that be?

I miss Crete. I miss my friends. I miss having friends. I miss the water and beach bum living. I miss the sand between my toes and wearing a bikini. I miss being able to wear flip flops, a tank top, and shorts without feeling like I’m insulting everyone around me.

I also miss not being weighed down by all the animals we currently have. Hey let’s go to the Grand Canyon. Oh wait, we can’t. Hey, how about a couple of days  . . . nope. Any more than a few hours and it isn’t going to happen. Good grief. Not a surprise – just a reality. I just can’t do anything that I want to do, because I have so many stink in’ animals. Sure, I wanted chickens. But not a rabbit, hamster, and puppy. Less is more in my book.

Very, very stressful.

I am “home,” yet this place feels like a temporary stopping point. Oh, I know where the problem lies. It lies within my own mind. That is my real prison. Why can I not change my attitude? Or better yet, why do I not want to?God what do you want me to do? Am I not doing it?

The pieces are all right, just not in the correct order.

I have been changed by our time oversees. Now, I’m just trying to find out where I belong.

GBark


Break Time

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This gallery contains 7 photos.

The boys and I have been feeling it. We’ve been ready for some time-off of school. I know I am ready for a b-r-e-a-k. Gavin already shared some dreaded news. He said that he was “bored” and claimed that he had nothing to do. Our break officially began today. So, he was on break for approximately 2 hours before his breaking news of boredom hit the newsstands. Seriously? Seriously. Ahem . . . I did catch Gavin practicing his guitar today, without any prompting from the Mean Ol’ School Marm. Wacky, […]


Devastation in the Desert

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This gallery contains 7 photos.

We sure do love rain around here. Rain. Glorious rain. Not hail! I woke up to a devastated garden. It literally looks like someone took a baseball bat to the garden. Zucchini leaves were just decimated. My sweet cucumber plants were annihilated. The melon plants were smashed. Tomatoes were a close call. There were countless broken stems and little maters scattered about the ground. I’ve been waiting patiently waiting for a tomato. It looks like I’ll be waiting a little longer. Pepper plants . . . well some will recover and […]


Middle School Years

The scene: An eight grade boy sitting beside a fifth grade boy at the kitchen table.

Tension? Oh yes, there is some tension.

Giggles? Yep.

Uncontrollable chit-chat? How’d you guess?

It’s hard to believe that we have finished two years of homeschooling at the Barker Academy of Higher Learning. After last year’s start, stop, and restart execution of home education, I thought I’d keel over from emotional turmoil. Turns out . . . our decision to keep the boys home was a good move.

We are now preparing for our third year. This year the boys will be studying Rome to the Reformation from My Father’s World. The boys are diligently working through the summer with a few breaks here and there. Tristan is finishing up his Pre-Algebra and we are quickly drawing closer to the final week of Creation to the Greeks.

Although I am the Mean ol’ School Marm, I have decided that we all need a break before diving into our study of Rome.

Now, quit the chit-chat and get back to work!

Your favorite teacher,

Mrs. Barker

 


Where’d the Baby Go?

As we were driving to my parent’s house over the weekend, I looked back and saw my baby and Hank, the head of ranch security. Here is a then and now photo of these two guys. Hank was 5 weeks old then and now he is almost 7 months old.


Pork: The Other White Meat

What do you call a whole pig that has taken a trip to see the butcher? A pork.

Matt got the call that there was one pork ready for pick up. Not a pork chop, mind you. A pork. I’ve never had to pick up a pork before. Yet, the boys and I are taking a trip with our lovely neighbor Tammy to do just that. We’re taking either Nancy P. or Hillary C. and putting her into our nearly empty freezer.

I am so excited! Wait . . .  that seems weird. But, alas, I am excited to have a freezer full of food. A freezer full of pork.

Our neighbors raised these two pigs. I remember when the girls came home. They were so cute. But how they did grow! And how they could eat! They ate like . . . pigs? Yes, like pigs. There is something very special about knowing where your food comes from. Usually, I focus on the fruits and vegetables, but meat is no less important. A lot of care, time, and compassion went into raising the pigs. We are grateful to be able to partake in this pork endeavor.

On arrival . . .

We paid for our pork and many boxes were loaded up into the vehicle. Many boxes of goodness.

Thankfully, our freezer had room to spare. We had a few things that needed to be consolidated or relegated to another shelf (a.k.a. smashed together to make room for the good stuff).

Sausage – Bacon – Ham Steaks – Ham Hocks – Pork Chops – Ham – And other delicious cuts of Porky Pig

I will say, that we have had some bacon, sausage, and pork chops. Those were the best pork chops I’ve ever eaten. Scrumptious.

*Please note that the packages say “Not For Sale.” I’m pretty sure that means “Don’t share.” I wouldn’t want to break the rules.

GBark

 

 



Tailoring the Flock

Last weekend Matt, with some cursory help from the boys, processed several of our roosters. Sadly, it had to be done. Tristan and I thought we would be prepared to let them go, but we had NAMED them and you never name the ones that are going to get the ax. It really does help if you don’t think about them personally.

Tristan seemed all geared up to do some farm work: The processing of chickens. It didn’t work out quite as he had expected. I think he stayed for one and then decided he needed to do something in the house. Gavin, on the other hand, stayed for a little longer. He was assessing the situation and watching the sequence of events.

Thanks to our neighbor John, Matt was able to process the “roos” very efficiently. You see, our neighbor had demonstrated his technique to Matt and also the age old method of plucking out the feathers. Wow! Big difference. But, I will stop right there.

The Flock Today

Almost immediately, our flock took on a different feel. Pebbles, the remaining rooster, took charge of his ladies. Let me say this . . . he has a big responsibility and knows it. He used to be a pretty relaxed guy who liked to show off his new found crow. Cock-a-doodle-do! Now he is very concerned about the well-being of the hens. Personally, I think he likes to just boss them around because he can. There’s no one around that can stop him now.

Now that is absolute power.

However, he is still a cool guy. He is still a tyrant, but not a mean one.

The hens obviously have to ask him for permission to do anything. Before the flock size decreased, they were all coming and going as they pleased. Now, he tells them where they can go and when.

But, you know what? I have also seen that the hens get along with each other much better. Actually, they all seem to be a closer family. I’m guess that they all sit around complaining about that bossy rooster. And we all know that common ground is unifying.

For now, we are patiently awaiting the arrival of our first egg. I’m hoping that Silver (Silver Leghorn) shows us what she can do pretty soon. Besides, she’s the type to run around telling everyone what she made. It will make her day.

Since we are left with one rooster, to protect and serve, we decided that the rest of our hens needed names. It seems that the ones that had names already earned them while they were still under the heat lamps. Here are the names of our ladies:

Buff-Buff or Buttercup (Buff Orpington)

Silver  (Silver Leghorn)

Sally (Salmon Favorelle)

Elvis or Elvira once we determined he was a she (Cream Brabanter)

Olga & Svetlana (Russian Orloffs)

Henny Penny & Frenchie (Copper Marans)

Dirty & Esmerelda (Rode Island Reds)

Duchess & Lady or affectionately called the “Brahma Mamas” (Light Brahmas)

Pebbles (Light Brahma)