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Lettuce Turnip the Beet

I just wanted to share something with you.

I like fresh fruits and veggies. I do. Matt does. And so do our little tough guys. We have been receiving a Farm Box weekly from Sunizona Farms.

What is a Farm Box?

A Farm Box is also called a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Basically, the wonderful farmers put together a mix of seasonally available foods and drop them off somewhere for you. Sometimes you can pick and choose from foods that are available, but we are wild and crazy kids and we like them to pick for us. I know . . . WILD and CRAZY.

So far we’ve had:

  • kohlrabi
  • micro greens
  • baby lettuce
  • tomatoes
  • cherry tomatoes
  • apples
  • oranges
  • grapefruit
  • bok choy
  • turnips
  • beets
  • radishes
  • pizza crusts
  • eggplant

And that’s just for winter. I can’t wait until spring and summer.



Chicky Mommas


You have chickens.

You are crazy (either just plain crazy or crazy because you like chickens. It doesn’t matter which).

You live in Cochise County.

And you are a lady (no boys allowed).

Those are the requirements for The Crazy Chicken Ladies of Cochise County. This is where a bunch of women get together to talk about all things related to fowl, family, and farm.

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Our Feathered Friends

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It’s been a while since we’ve posted on our new feathered family members, so I figured I’d give an update. They’re all about 8 weeks old now and getting bigger every day. A few weeks ago, they made the move to the big outdoors, otherwise known as “The Big House”, thanks to Tristan. Fortunately for our birds, they live in beautiful Arizona, so even though it is winter, they get plenty of outdoor time. 60+ degree days help them out there, though I’m not so sure how happy they’re gonna […]


I have made this recipe several times. They are so delicious and super easy.

I usually half this recipe and have found that it turns out great, too. They have become part of the Barker’s Baking Repertoire for Christmas. Enjoy!




  1. 2 cups olive oil
  2. 1 cup sugar
  3. 2 tsp. baking powder
  4. 1 tsp. baking soda
  5. 8 T. orange juice
  6. 1/2 T. ground cloves
  7. 1/2 T. ground cinnamon
  8. 7-8 cups flour
  9. Syrup:
  10. 2 cups honey
  11. 2 cups sugar
  12. 2 cups water
  13. 1 cup walnuts (finely chopped) I substitute with pecans


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk sugar and olive oil to form a thin paste. Add the baking soda (dissolved in the orange juice) and remaining ingredients. Dough should be pliable enough to form a ball.
  2. Shape into oblongs. They will resemble footballs.
  3. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile make syrup. Combine honey, sugar, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Turn off heat and skim the foam off. Drink it with a straw. Just kidding. Let cool.
  5. You may want to set up a cooling rack that is placed within a roasting pan or another cookie sheet to catch the drippings.
  6. Take a few cookies and soak them in the syrup (each side for 2 minutes or so). Place the dripping cookies on that rack and sprinkle them with those walnuts (pecans). Repeat for maximum deliciousness! Pour any left over syrup over the finished cookies (or pour it in your coffee).

Bird Brained Theology

Have you ever witnessed something so small and innocent struggling? How about someone not so small and not so innocent?

It’s not for the faint of heart. We immediately want to intervene. We want to stop the pain, stop the suffering, and offer up solutions.

I can imagine an exhaustive list of struggles that we encounter. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some struggle with patience or self control (no more Christmas cookies for me). Still, others struggle to believe that they are loved and forgiven.

I’ve heard it said that “Whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” I think that this sentiment can be true. I don’t think it is always true. If it were, we would all be walking around like superheroes. In contrast, let us consider “Whatever doesn’t kill you, can make you stronger.” The word “can” changes this entire saying doesn’t it? It’s a slight change, but significant, nonetheless.

Flashback: Chicks Hatching

Imagine this: The chicks are just beginning to hatch in the incubator. The conditions are set (humidity & temperature) and now we just watch and wait. Some chicks just seemed to have materialized all on their own. One moment their eggs were intact and then *boom* there was another chick flopping around. And let me tell you . . . I was checking them all of the time.

But then, I witnessed one, two, three chicks struggling. Honestly, I didn’t keep count. There was just too much excitement and anticipation in the air. Their struggles to break out of the eggs, were all different. Some took hours, while others took less than an hour. One even hatched fairly quickly and then died afterward. I asked myself, “How could he have died after all that work to break free?” There were a few other eggs that just weren’t cracking all the way open. I just wanted to open the incubator and help them! I will save you!

One egg I was sure was going to hatch. We could see him in there for two days, trying to bust out. I mean, I could see him, his beak, and half his body. The egg was flexing and contorting. That chick never did hatch.

The struggle to break out of the egg actually strengthens them. It prepares them. When you remove the egg for them, you set them up for failure. I know what you were thinking . . . that I am mean and wouldn’t save the chick.


God sees us struggling. He’s watching us trying to break free. If He intervenes and removes our burden, our struggle, we may not be made stronger. We just might be made weaker and perish. He gives us what we need and that is sufficient. It is important to know, that although we are struggling, we are not alone. Not ever.

Picture me standing over all these eggs. I was saying “Come on little guys. You can do it.” I can just imagine God doing something similar. He’s rooting for us. He wants us to give Him our burdens because His strength is what keeps us moving forward. I can do all things, in Christ, who strengthens me. He is standing on the sidelines, cheering me on. He’s cheering you on. He is your biggest fan! He is the proudest parent!

I guarantee that all of your problems are not going to ever go away. Nope. Sometimes we have to endure the pain. If I have to struggle, I would at least like to know that I have a cheering section.

If you are struggling, please know this. There is no one more familiar with your hardship than the LORD.

The question is, are you going to let your burden wear you down? Because it will if you let it. It can also make you resentful, bitter, and hard-hearted. No warm, fuzzies in that package.

Anyway, this is what was on my heart the other day as I was reading through Mark chapters 6:45-52. Jesus watched the disciples struggling with the boat and waves. He let them struggle for quite a while until He thought they were ready to see Him walking on the water. The Bible says that Jesus was going to walk right past them. But when He saw the terror on their faces, he had compassion on them and calmed the sea.



Yes or No, Stop or Go?

Disjointed. Scattered. Those words sort of describe how Matt and I feel. Well, at least how I feel. However, I’m pretty sure we are in agreement on this.

We feel pushed and pulled in all sorts of directions, while trying to make the best decisions for our family. It hasn’t been easy. I don’t think big decisions are ever easy. For me, it usually comes down to a Cost/Benefit Analysis.

When we moved into our house we felt overwhelmed. Not only were we moving and unpacking, but we had to deal with all of the things associated with buying a house. For a homeschooling family, this can be a tough time. At least for me. Piles of books, music equipment, and miscellaneous boxes all over the floor in every room stresses me out. All I can think about is putting things away so that I can finally breathe.

I think the feeling of being overwhelmed is what pushed and pulled us into the direction of sending the boys to school. We had planned on homeschooling them again this year. In fact, we were 5 weeks into the current school year. I think Gavin was having a hard time adjusting to being so close to family and moving to America that he started acting out more during his studies. And we were hoping that the kids would make some local friends. Oh, and I should add that I tried the “official” homeschool group for the area and it turned out to be rather ridiculous.

The solution seemed simple. The day the movers came to dump our household goods into our garage, the kids went to school.

I’ve had some restless nights about this. I’ve cried during commercial breaks, where families are doing something together. And I’m pretty sure Matt is starting to go deaf in his left ear from hearing me whine about it.

When it comes down to it, I miss my kids. I see them for an hour before school and then again after 4:30. Gavin always has an hour of homework and Tristan wants his computer time. I miss my kids. Academically? The school is okay. I don’t have a problem with the school. Socially? Well, I was hoping for a little more.

I used to spend all day with them. And that is something that is truly special about homeschooling. You get to spend time with your kids and you get to be the one they pick up bad habits from.

Yes, my kids fight. They whine. They complain. But they are fun! They love to learn, as much as I do. They appreciate trips to the museum, science experiments, and being together. As it stands, we hardly get to see each other. It’s sad.

The flexibility that we once had has completely gone out the window. We are locked into a routine. And you know me . . . I don’t like being told what to do.

Now, that we are settled, I told the kids that during Christmas Break I intended to “rethink” this whole school thing. I never said another word. Earlier this week, Tristan asked if I was still going to “rethink” the school situation. He is lobbying for homeschool. He says that he’s not impressed with public school. Gavin, on the other hand, doesn’t care either way. He likes recess. However, he added that he would prefer to be at home again. But, kids don’t make these types of decisions on our house. Their opinions do matter, though.

So, now what?

Now, I’m praying. Praying and crying. Crying and praying.

These are my kids and I don’t want to make a mistake. They are their own little beings, not an extension of myself.

I think about all of the reasons why we started homeschooling. Have any of those changed?

In the end, it probably doesn’t matter where they get their education. I just don’t want the decision to be a selfish one on my part.


A Mini Rant

Hereford, Arizona has a lot in common with Crete, Greece.

1) The dry climate

2) Distance from the equator (related to #1)

3) Scorpions and other creepy things that want to kill you

4) All plants have thorns and want to kill you

5) Lots of wind

AND . . .

6) The water is turned off at random times throughout the week. We’re going on 3 hours without water people. What the heck!

I have a sink full of dishes that need to be washed. I’d like to water my “garden”. And . . . I just went running and would like to use the water that I pay for. Go figure.

Merry Christmas,

Scrooge McDuck

Chicken Coop Finale

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I dropped the ball on this whole Chicken Coop Update. The good news is that you already know what the coop looks like. But . . . you haven’t seen the completed coop. It looks fantastic. Great job Matt! And the boys did an egg-cellent job painting. Let me reiterate that there was a lot of painting. Did I mention all the painting we did? Now, we have a nice home for our chickens. I’m a little jealous, but I couldn’t live with a bunch of cackling hens. So, I’m […]

What’s in a Name?

I’ve often heard that “A name says it all.” Is that true? I once watched a documentary about peoples’ names and came away with the understanding that our names actually affect the behavior of others. Don’t get hung up on the fact that I watched a show about this. The point is, names matter. They sway our judgement. In fact, in some cases we make judgements solely based on a name.

Why, oh why, am I dedicating an entire post on this issue? Well, it all comes down to this . . . what are the Barkers going to call their chicken coop? I know. I know. It’s not a life altering decision, but it is one that may (or may not) stick. Now that the Coop du Jour is finished, we would like to paint a name just above the door. The kids want to personalize it. Plus, I think it would be a nice touch.

Back to naming this beautiful building . . .

Do we wait and see how the chickens manage their coop? The Tidy Tudor. Or name it based on chicken personalities? Loco Pollos.

Or do we just go ahead and give it a name? And what kind of name do we give it? Serious, utilitarian, funny, satirical?

We spent some time talking about this the other night. The kiddos took over and decided to draw names out of a hat. They got Matt and I to do the same (sigh). We each put in two pieces of paper with our name choices written down. The lucky winner was Tristan. Yay! He chose one of his names”The Big House”. He said the coops sort of looks like a little prison. Matt wasn’t too keen on that name. I think it’s funny, but Matt is adamant that he did not build a prison. He built a home. End of discussion. Amen.

So, we all decided to do another drawing. But Tristan just couldn’t pick a name to write down. Well, that’s not completely true. He just didn’t have our stamp of approval on any of the names he chose. For instance, “The Big Red Microwave”, “Annie’s Diner”, and “The Big Square Building with Chickens in it.” Yeah, so those didn’t make it into the hat. Can you see why?

On the other hand, Gavin wanted “The Happy Rooster.” Sounds good to me. I think that may be a very fitting name in the future. He also chose “Cute & Cuddly.” Okay, see this is where we have problems. We have two extremes here: Cute, fuzzy peeps versus chicken torturing area 51. We also had to put the kibosh on “The Chicken Ranch,” because this isn’t Las Vegas after all. “Why not mom?” Try explaining that one to your little sweeties.

Matt’s choices were all in Spanish. Some of them didn’t even make it to the brainstorming paper. The boys vetoed those at once. Nothing in Spanish. Nothing in German. Nothing in Greek. English only. Sheesh! What bossy kids! I’m not sure I actually had any of my choices written down. I just kept yelling them out, like I was going to overwhelm the crowd with my wittiness. Not in my house.

In case you are curious, here are some of the names that didn’t win anyone over:

Poultry Palace

The Big House (as described above)

The Looney Bin (great name for a duck house)

Chick Magnet

Casa Roja

Casa de los Huevos

Chicken Shack

The B & B

The Breakfast Club

Hen Hotel

The Happy Rooster

The Happy Roost

Cute & Cuddly

The Big House

The Big Red Microwave

Chick, Chick, Chick

See what I mean? 

Ciao –

Chicky Momma