The “Duckdate” or “Duck Update”

As you would know if you followed us on Instagram, we’ve had the mama ducks with their babies in the garden for about 8 weeks now.

for the most part, it’s been really great. However, there has been a catch that we now have to deal with.

You can watch the full Duckdate here:

Overall, I’d say this has been a great experience. Learned a lot. Still love the idea of ducks in the garden.

But, until we can heighten the current beds, they really should only be in the main garden with supervision.

You’ll want your garden beds atleast 3 feet deep if you want to reap the full benefits of ducks in the garden space. They DO keep slugs and bad bugs down. They DO eat weeds. But, they WILL eat your lettuce, beet greens, beans, broccoli, basil, and more given a chance.

We will be setting up the 2nd duck house behind the garden as planned. And we will be finishing the greenhouse/hoop house. My hubby will then be making a series of portable garden beds that are extra tall for inside the greenhouse so the ducks can still mingle in and out of the greenhouse at will without being “tempted beyond what they can bear” with having too easy of access to things.

We’re also working on rehoming the extra drakes we have so we can start moving our baby drakes to the barn. We have several little boys that are fully feathered and need moved out to reduce crowding and allow them to form a Batchelor flock to grow out on pasture until they’re ready for slaughter.

This is part of being a farmer, we try new things, learn from them, and adapt. If we really want something to work, we’ll find a way. Or, if it’s just not working, we reevaluate our plans and adapt to what would work WITH the nature of the animals involved in mind. Don’t try to force nature to conform to your standards. We find much more peace when we work with nature and use the experience to learn more of the balance God has placed in nature.

It’s a Gift

Sometimes, friends go through really hard times. Sometimes, those hard times seem to last a VERY long time. And sometimes, those hard times seem to just be one on top of another for a while.

But, God promises to be with us, and NEVER forsake us, during the hard times. Especially if we are obeying him and holding firmly to him and his covenant.

I did these photos as a gift for our friends that just couldn’t seem to get a break for a while. But now things seem to be calming down for them, allowing them to catch their breath, and find their rest again.

Blessings my friends! Your babies are SO beautiful!

Making Art a Service

I ran my own photography business before I got married. I continued to do photography the first couple years of marriage. But after baby #2 was born I felt like it was just too much when I needed to focus on my babies.

Well, fast forward 8 years… and it would seem that YAH (God) has chosen to reopen my old photography business. No, for real, it’s been all him.

I got a new camera this year purely intending it for my own enjoyment.

I shared a few photos of plants and my kids and a few friends on Facebook just to share a little of the fun I was having with my new toy.

I quit selling jewelry online over a year ago, so I haven’t had much for “extra spending money,” and hubbies work has been slow again this year. So I was starting to think if maybe there was something I could do to add to our finances from home. But didn’t think too much about it as we’ve been very busy on the farm, and I’ve had the Lord telling me to “Bloom where planted” in this season of life. So just been focusing on being content with where we’re at and building our farm dream as we can where we are, because this is where we’ve been planted, so this is where we’re gonna bloom at this time.

Well, a bit later I was asked for a price quote to photograph a friend’s wedding. And I was contacted by a distant cousin about having some couples photos done for an anniversary.

Now, I’ve got 1 photo session done, 2 more getting on the schedule, 1 wedding for sure this year, and may have another wedding for next year! I still haven’t actually done any advertising and am just now publicly sharing some photos from my first paying gig!

I always considered my old photography biz to be part business and part ministry. And this new biz is looking to be exactly that way already. I can minister to people, encourage people, and give them an art to bless them and their home.

And without further ado…

Heres some photos for this beautiful couple celebrating 3 years together!

Getting Into Nature

We just love being submerged in nature. We don’t care much for the cities, too crowded, too much traffic and crazy drivers, too much noise… doesn’t typically smell very good either.

We love that we live close enough to the cities that we can do our shopping and get things we really need as needed, but far enough out we have some privacy and enough space to create a sanctuary for ourselves.

Our girls catch butterflies and moths. We can visit the local wildlife refuge any time. Recently we’ve been watching the barn swallows at the refuge, and have gotten to see their babies peeking out of the nests.

Our most recent trip we got to watch some frogs avoid capture by the swallows. We saw a teeny-tiny frog not much bigger than the eraser on a pencil peeking out from behind a blade of grass. Then all of a sudden that itty-bitty frog gets knocked off his perch by a swallow, and he dangle for a moment by 1 leg, and he stays perfectly still in this position until he’s certain it’s safe to move to a new spot.

We get to watch the mama ducks raise their young, and same with the goats.

It’s fun to watch these animals go about their day. They don’t know what the future holds, can’t say that they really think about it too much. They just live for that moment. Sometimes it’s a fleeting moment, a close call, they could lose their in that moment. But once the moments passed, the adrenal has settled, they move on. They could literally lose their life at any given moment, but instead of hiding, they still go out to find food, find a mate, raise babies, clean themselves, do a little sunbathing… they take pleasure in simple things, they don’t let the scary stuff hold them back from living and thriving where they are.

I feel like YAH (the LORD) has been telling me more to observe these small animals and how they live. They don’t fret and worry from day to day, they just go about their life and live it.

HE knows we need food and clothes, He knows what the future holds (good and evil), we know nothing really. So we put our trust in him, every day, we live for this moment, and enjoy wherever we are at today.

it’s so easy to get caught up in everything that goes wrong during a day. But if that’s ALL we focus on, how will that grant us peace and help us do better? Absolutely learn from what went wrong, but don’t keep living in that one bad moment. The moment is past, move on. We shod be dwelling on the good that happens each day, focusing on the progress we’ve made or special moments we had.

observe the animals, their life may have flashed before their eyes in a close encounter that could’ve ended their life, but then… they move on, almost as if it never happened. Something happens, be alert, deal with the situation, then drop it and move on. There’s no need to keep revisiting a moment that only causes stress and trauma.

Making Chevre

We have goats, and currently have milk pouring out our ears with milking 5 mama goats! Our mini nubians give a quart to 1/2 gallon on 12 hr separation from their kids, so we get almost 2 full gallons each morning. And now 1 mama’s kids have left the farm, so we’re getting another 1/2 gallon at night too!

Soap only uses a small amount of milk, so while I will be freezing some milk for soap making, I am going to be making chevre cheese for fresh use and for freezing to use during the winter.

I started by filling our kitchen sink with hot tap water. I then took my 6 quart insta pot bowl and filled that with 1 gallon of chilled raw goats milk. Then placed the bowl of milk in the sink full of hot tap water. It only took a couple minutes for it to get to 80 degrees. I let it to get just below 85 degrees Fahrenheit, then pulled the bowl out of the hot water.

I sat it on the counter and added 1/4 tsp mesophilic culture front standing stone farms and used a wooden spoon to mix in a up/down motion. Then I took a measuring cup, added 1/3 cup cool water, and dripped 2 drops of rennet into that. Then I poured the water/rennet mix into the bowl of warm milk, and mixed that gently in an up/down motion.

I placed a towel over the bowl and left it over night.

This morning it was quite thick, like a very solid yogurt (cheese curd!). I got my cheese cloth out and spread it over a strainer in the sink, and gently poured the cheese curds from the bowl into the cheese cloth/strainer. Then wrapped up the cheese cloth and knotted it at the top to form a bag for the cheese curds, and used a shower curtain hook to hang it on a cupboard know above the kitchen sink.

Next step is to let it drip for 4 to 6 hrs, until it stops dripping. Then we can add salt and seasonings if we want to use it right away, or we can package it up and stick in the freezer (do NOT add seasonings if putting it in the freezer, I added the salt before freezing last year and it was gross!).

I wrap in parchment paper, then label with a marker that it is Chevre and the date it was made, then wrap in plastic wrap and stick in the freezer. Or, I’ll season to taste with pink Himalayan sea salt and serve with salted almond crackers. Mmm, SO good!

Garden Projects and Progress

We first set up our garden with 8 beds about 6ft by 3ft and 14 inches tall. We used lumber my father-in-law had cut for the beds, and added a couple tomato trellises using leftover 4×4 fencing and scrap wood and secured those to the ends of two of the beds.

We do a combination of methods for our garden, mainly lasagna gardening and back to eden gardening styles are used.

Lasagna gardening is using multiple layers of multiple things that gradually breakdown to make your soil. For example, layering cardboard at the bottom of your garden bed, add some manure, newspaper, compost, woodchips, and do in layers.

Back to Eden gardening involves covering the ground in woodchips to create a protective layer for the earth, which gradually breaks down and brings nutrients back to the soil.

We have hard clay soil in the garden. Nothing grows but weeds in the hard ground.

We have goats, so we get fresh manure from our goats every time we clean out the barn. LOTS of manure. We use sawdust or wood shavings from a local carpenter for bedding in the barn for the animals, cleans up great, and breaks down with the manure and urine to make a lovely soil/fertilizer!

So, what we do is work in layers. For some areas or boxes we lay down cardboard, for other areas we don’t. Next we do a layer of woodchips or shavings or sawdust (whatever is locally available for cheap or free) about 4 to 6 inches thick. On top of that a good thick layer of our goat manure compost. Then more woodchips, maybe 2-3 inches, and a layer of goat manure compost, and then a thin layer of woodchips or sawdust as the last layer.

When we go to plant, we pull the sawdust or woodchips to the side and plant in the manure, then bring just a small bit of the chips or sawdust back to the base of the plant osr sprinkle lightly over where we plant the seeds.

Then we water, generously at first. If we did seeds we may water 1x daily for a few days. But, because the woodchips help to regulate and lock in moisture, we really don’t need to water everyday.

I’ll water every 2 to 3 days of we’re having consistent high Temps. Less if it’s cooler, and if it’s rains, we’ll, I just don’t bother watering.

the woodchips and sawdust DO break down over time. But, layering with help prevent nitrogen being evaporated into the air from our manure/compost, and it locks in moisture (as mentioned earlier) and slowly releases that moisture over time. Ultimately this method allows us to use less water and still grow big, beautiful plants!

This year we are working on adding a hoop-house green house (which I’m SUPER excited about), and we’re moving our muscovy ducks to the garden.

My hubby built 1 of 2 duck houses he designed already, and we got a temporary chicken coop set up around it with extra garden netting along the bottom of it. Why? Ducklings! We’ve currently got 3 mama ducks and 28 ducklings into his enclosure. Newly hatched ducklings are so tiny and so determined they will squeeze out of the tiny holes in the door of a dog crate to find freedom. So they need a secure enclosure. We let the ducks out of their coop to browse and forage the back garden while we do work out there.

We’re also setting up a good sized pool we got at True Value and will have it recessed in the ground. That’s still a work in progress though.

this is our 3rd year gardening, and even though we had a late start due to having a new baby added to our lives, the garden is thriving and growing and doing so good!

We’ve got beets, onions, rhubarb, horseradish, carrots, Roma Tom’s, beef steak Tom’s, lettuces, broccoli, potatoes, strawberries, pole beans, pumpkin, acorn squash, eggplant, rosemary, watermelon and cantaloupe all growing! And of course we got a couple zucchini plants from my moms place and transplanted those in our garden, in the pix you can see the old leaves have died down, but now there’s a bunch of new leaves and flowers coming up! While weeding we even found some volunteer parsley, Tom’s, and a strong of beans! Oh, and in our “will be food forest” in ground section, we have thyme, chives, and chamomile growing right now.

We also recently added honeybees to the back garden area!

OK, now I’m gonna dump some photos I got of the garden lastnight after watering. Enjoy, and comment below if you have any questions for us about our set up, or your own experiences with gardening!

From Our Family To Yours! Happy Independence Day!

Wishing you all a day of celebration and quality memories in the making!

Independence day is a day to celebrate resolve, victory over evil, deliverance from oppression. Like celebrating Passover is remembering becoming free from physical and spiritual bondage, Independence day for Americans is celebrating freedom from tyranny.

From our home, to yours,

“Happy Day of Independence!”

Hello World!

I’m had to shut down my photography biz back in 2016 after it became apparent I couldn’t keep up while caring for my babies. In recent years I’ve had several people recommend I start blogging again. So we’re gonna give that a try at this time.

I recently upgraded my camera to a Canon 5d Mark iii, now have 4 daughters and 1 son, we still raise goats and have added ducks to the farm, and we’re growing our garden. We homestead, homebirth, live free, and try to keep things as down to the basics as possible.

Hope you enjoy following along with our journey!

Do I still Do Photography?

Why, yes! yes I do! But, I do it for me!

I kinda got burned out doing it as a business. All the advertising, photographing, post processing, editing, burning, deadlines… and then my babies being sick or teething,or growth spurt and just needing mom…

It just all got to be WAY more than I could handle. I was stressed out, my customers were unhappy cause of missed deadlines… it wasn’t fair to anybody.

So now, I mainly do photography on my own time, for me. Without deadlines, and without clients most the time.

I still accept clients, but I mostly wait for them to come to me, rather than me actively advertising and searching out clients.

Now, I’m back! I’m back to enjoying photography as my art form again! And it’s SO good!

I’ve done a couple weddings, some family photos, but majority of whats on my computer are just pix of my little girls growing up and having adventures. And those are what I love to see the most!

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I took this photo this afternoon. with no hurry, no pressure. just me and my girls enjoying an enchanted evening!

New Zealand Trip Day 9

Day #9: NZ Date: 25th of February, Thursday; US Date: February 24th, Wednesday.

I hadn’t had a day out with just my lady-in-laws yet, and Johnny hadn’t really had any time out with just his brothers. So, we decided to let Johnny go out hunting with the guys, and us girls would go to Taihape (Tie-Happy).

Let me say now, New Zealand really doesn’t have any BIG cities. Even there bigger towns (they’d call cities) are more rural and usually have 1 main street and a cross street or two, and then mostly consist of houses or older buildings that aren’t in a lot of use at present.

But, the small towns are charming. They usually have a small grocer, a gas station, a church/chapel, and most seem to have at least 1 old theater (though both the ones I’ve seen have been closed down, so sad).

We arrived in Taihape, and Katy & Jenny went over to McDonalds while Nana Deb and I went across the street to the subway (had roast beef this time, yum!). We girls met up with our food in front of the old library (which is lovely and in full operation) to eat our food.

After eating, we went to the bank, then off to a few shops. The shops we browsed were very cute and homey. The first was a quilting/sewing shop, I purchased a couple really pretty pieces of fabric (vintagey with pink roses on it) and some pink wool yarn (NZ made!).


We then went to the local thrift store, called “Caught Short.” I found a little pink sweater and a pink plaid summer dress for baby Vicky, a gift for my sister Naomi, and some more wool yarn I can use.

Then we browsed a cute baby shop, can’t recall the exact name, but it was super cute! So many adorable baby outfits. The lady there had a small basket out with baby headbands, and said she didn’t like any of them, so I could take 1 if I wanted, so nice! I got a cute little red headband with fabric flowers and a sparkly button in the middle.


Last place we visited was called “Wild Roses,” and it was just exactly the kind of shop my Mom and I could spend hours in! Lots of shabby chic items, little birdies, tea sets, vintage toys and candies… I did get my Mom a little something while there.


We then headed towards home, but HAD to stop at the towns icon, the “Gumboot” for a few photos:

Back at home, I helped Nana Deb peel and cut potatoes to go with dinner, then everybody split up to their own places to relax till the guys got back from their thing. I worked more on photos, of course.

The boys got back safely, didn’t shoot anything on there hunt, but they did see a couple deer, and a faun. And on their way back, Johnny spotted a young hedgehog along the road, so they turned back and grabbed him up to prevent him getting smushed by another vehicle. They brought him back to the house, we got to take turns holding him and we tried feeding him, but he was too scared to eat.

Brother Thomas came by and mentioned a lady near where he works that raises hedgehogs. Like, she take sin small ones, fattens them up and raises them, then lets them go when they’re of better size to survive on their own. So we sent this little cutey to this nice lady to brighten her day (as she didn’t have any hedgehogs to spoil just then) and to give this little fella a good start.

Brother Daniel and his wife and family came over, apparently on most Thursday evenings they all get together and have a “Sing-Song.” They use a couple of teh hymnals from their church and just have a night of singing and praising the Lord. It was really nice, got to hear some good oldies that I had grown up with, as well as some oldies that I had never heard before. And Papa Keith made up a few songs for the little kids who kept requesting songs, which was real fun.

I think Baby Vicky really likes the old hymns, felt like she was dancing inside me while we sang, and boy was she kicking hard! Haha!

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