Mid-Life Blogger’s Peach Cobbler

I managed to salvage some peaches in my battle with Brown Rot and I wanted to make a cobbler. There are lots of recipes for peach cobbler, but I was looking for one with more of a crunchy topping, versus a “cakey” one. I ended up combining two different recipes. I was really happy with how it came out and wanted to write out the recipe for future use, so I thought I might as well share it with you. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Mid-Life Blogger’s Peach Cobbler

Ingredients

  • 4 cups fresh or frozen sliced peaches
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 c brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Batter topping:
  • 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp soft butter
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 Tbsp sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a saucepan, combine cornstarch, brown sugar, water, and peaches. Cook over medium until mixture is thickened, about 15 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp butter, lemon juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour into an 8" round baking dish.
  • Batter Topping: Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, 2 Tbsp soft butter, and egg. Beat with a spoon until batter is smooth. Drop by spoonfuls over hot peach mixture. Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp of sugar. Bake 40-50 minutes.
  • Serves 4 alone, or 6 with ice cream.
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Peach Cobbler was good.
It was good!

 

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Mid-Life Blogger's Peach Cobbler

 

 

 

Brown Rot is the Pits

I wasn’t sure if we’d get peaches this year because we had a late freeze right in the middle of blooming. A lot of peaches formed, but most of them fell from the tree. The tree has grown by leaps and bounds this season and has a lot of foliage. A few chickens have taken to roosting in it and my husband joked that it was because of their droppings. It seemed as if all of the peaches had dropped, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that there will still some hidden among all of the leaves. The remaining peaches are a nice hefty size and are starting to ripen.  A few days ago I was alarmed to find that some had a mold growing on them, so I researched what it was and what to do about it.

Before pruning: our peach tree had put on a lot of growth this spring.

Looking at that picture above, would you believe that I drastically pruned that tree earlier this spring? I did, and I have a blog post to prove it! Below is the “after” picture from that pruning.

Patiently Pruning Peaches and Pears
“After” photo of early spring pruning.

 

This post contains affiliate links which means that I earn a small commission if you use them to make a purchase. It doesn’t affect the price you pay, but helps to support my blog. 

Monilinia Fruiticola

Monilinia Fruiticola, aka “Brown Rot,” seems to be the culprit. Evidently, it affects all stone fruits (with pits, get my title? LOL), so I’ll need to watch my cherry trees for it as well. They’re planted on the opposite side of the yard from the peach trees, so hopefully that will help prevent it from spreading to them. From what I’ve read, wet and humid weather contributes to the problem and we’ve had a very wet spring and early summer.

Signs of Brown Rot

The ugly signs of Brown Rot are:

  • Brown, wilted blossoms.
  • Dark, sunken spots on new shoots, and brown, hanging leaves on infected limbs.
  • Affected fruit develops small spots of rot that enlarge quickly.
  • Rotting fruit develops fuzzy tan or gray spores that cover the fruit’s surface.
  • If left on the tree, the fruit shrivels and hardens up into “mummies.”
A “mummy”

I’m glad that I gave the peach tree such a thorough pruning in the spring, otherwise my problem might be worse. In the future I’ll keep an eye out for the signs of infected limbs and remove them asap.

An infected limb.
What to Do About It?

Here are the recommendations I’ve found:

  • Remove all infected fruit immediately and dispose of it.
  • Trim out any infected branches, cleaning the pruners between cuts.
  • Dispose of infected material. Do not compost.
  • In the winter remove infected twigs. Identify by looking for cankers.
  • Practice good sanitation habits by cleaning up fallen fruit under the tree.
  • Also spray for the Plum curculio, the insect responsible for the worms found around stone fruit. Their damage is what allows the mold spores to enter the fruit.
  • Plant resistant varieties.

 

Insect damage which offered entry point to fungus.
Another damaged limb.
Yuck!
Ready for Battle

Armed with this information, the following morning I headed outside with my pruners and loppers. I cut out any obviously diseased branches, plus more that didn’t have fruit on them to open up the canopy to more sunlight and airflow. I removed the diseased peaches and put them into a plastic bag to contain the fungal spores. Also, I took out a spray bottle with diluted bleach and sprayed my tools often. I’m not sure if that’s the best thing to use, but I wanted to try to prevent spreading the fungus. When the Mule was loaded up, my sweet husband drove it all away to another part of the farm for disposal.

A Mule load of peach branches.

The end result was a tree that was much more open. I ran out of time that morning, but the next step is to spray it with some copper fungicide. I also got some spray for the insects that damage the fruit, which then enables the fungus to enter.

The peach tree after my pruning job. Huge difference!

I’ll put up the best fight I can to save the remaining peaches. It sure would be nice to make a peach cobbler as my reward. Wish me luck!

Update

Mid-Life Blogger's Peach CobblerI was able to save some peaches and rewarded my efforts with this yummy peach cobbler.

Mid-Life Blogger's Peach Cobbler
Mid-Life Blogger’s Peach Cobbler

 

Related Reading

Patiently Pruning Peaches and Pears

A Passion for Seeds ~ Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company

I’ve wanted to visit Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company for a long time. For at least ten years I’ve received their catalogs and watched Jere Gettle’s business and family grow. Their festivals have always looked like so much fun, yet I never found the time to make the 2 1/2 hour trip.

My contact there, Kathy McFarland, has been supportive of my blog. When I approached her for a donation for my recent anniversary celebration, I offered to visit and write about them in return, purposely making that commitment so I would finally get to go.

My visit just happened to be on June 21st, the first day of summer. Somehow that seemed appropriate, although I didn’t plan it that way. I would love to visit again during one of their special events, but for this visit I was happy to go when I would get to meet some of the people who would otherwise be too busy. It was a beautiful day and an easy drive. Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company is located in Mansfield, Missouri, about an hour east of Springfield, on the historic Rippee land grant homestead near the Gasconade River.

The Gettle family lives in this beautiful 1906 farmhouse on the company premises.
Warm Welcome

When I arrived I wasn’t sure where to go, so I went into the General Store. The employee there seemed to be expecting me and asked if I was there to see Kathy. That was nice because immediately I felt welcomed and not so lost. While I waited for Kathy, I looked around the charming store. There were racks and racks of seeds, which I had expected to see, but also other products for sale such as gardening books, cooking supplies, decorative items, and even fabrics and sewing patterns. It had the authentic feel of a general store.

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Debbie Gettle’s Paintings

I immediately recognized Debbie Gettle’s paintings. Jere’s mother is a talented artist, and many of them had served as beautiful catalog covers in years past. Baker Creek’s catalogs really stand apart from most because of their personality – the artwork, the quotes and trivia, and the photos of the Gettles (especially of their darling daughters, Sasha and Malia) and the people that actually work there and are part of the Baker Creek family, all make them a joy to read, especially during the bleak winter months.

Kathy arrived and it was so nice to meet her in person as she was very warm and friendly. She took me to her office where she told me about the history of the company.

Passion Takes Root

Jere Gettle started his first garden when he was three years old, and learned to read by reading seed packets. As a young child he realized that some varieties of seeds were disappearing from the catalogs and that sprouted his interest in saving seeds. At that time, Jere’s family lived in the northwest, but when Jere was about twelve, his family purchased the land grant homestead in Mansfield, Missouri, where his company is now located. (Emilee later told me that the Gettles moved to Missouri for the climate and the less-constrictive homeschool laws.) His seed collection gradually grew, and soon after moving to Missouri, in his early teens, Jere started selling his seeds at swap meets.

When he was seventeen, Jere made his first seed list, naming it after nearby Baker Creek. That first year he made 250 copies of his catalog, and nearly twenty years later in 2017 they made 750,000! Kathy said that the local banker still tells the story of how Jere walked into the bank carrying a metal bucket full of money to open his first account.

Very first Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog, 1998.
1998 Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog. Photo courtesy of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds/rareseeds.com
Pioneer Village

“Bakersville,” the pioneer village, was started in the year 2000 because Jere wanted to host a gathering to talk about seeds. That was the beginning of their festivals which are now held on the first Sunday of the month, March through October, and the village grew up around them. The annual May “Planting Festival,” is the biggest event and attracts 10,000 visitors.

The village consists of many differently-themed buildings and looks like Little House on the Prairie could have been filmed there. During my visit the village was quiet, but during festivals it comes to life with live demonstrations and authentic costumes.

About four years ago, on a trip to Italy, Jere fell in love with their courtyards. When he returned home he designed a similar garden. The fountain was designed by a local potter and then was built by an Amish crew.

Courtyard Garden
The fountain in the courtyard garden was designed by a local potter

Jere also has an interest in heritage breeds of poultry, so there are cages with all sorts of birds throughout the grounds.

As if all of the events at their home office in Mansfield, Missouri, weren’t enough, Baker Creek has branched out and also has events in California. The Seed Bank is housed in an old bank building in Petaluma, an old-gold mining town. At this location they offer special events such as lectures, workshops, and a book club – all gardening related, of course. The 7th annual National Heirloom Exposition will take place in Santa Rosa, California, September 5-7, 2017. The Exposition brings together people who are passionate about pure food and heirloom seeds from all over the world. They have hundreds of speakers and vendors, plus demonstrations. There are even special activities for children. You can learn more about these events by following their links.

Baker Creek Restaurant
Dave Kaiser

I had read about the Baker Creek Restaurant and was excited to experience it. As we walked in, I met Dave Kaiser, whom I immediately recognized from their catalogs. I got to spend quite a bit of time with him, so more about him shortly. The restaurant carried out the pioneer feel with rustic furniture, wooden floors and walls. Each table was adorned with fresh cut flowers.

Their chef, Loghan Call, prepares vegan meals using the bounty of the garden, plus locally-grown produce, as much as possible. Their menu is “ever-changing,” reflecting what’s in season. It’s a donation-based restaurant. They have a suggested donation of $5-10 per person, but you pay what you’re able when you leave the restaurant by leaving it in a donation box.

When you walk in, you have a choice of two beverages which also vary. On my visit I had a choice between homemade lemonade, and lemongrass-blueberry infused water. I chose the pretty pink lemonade.

For lunch, I tried the “Baker Creek Garden Salad with Blueberry, Thyme Dressing,” and “Roasted Tomato and Black Lentil Polenta with Cauliflower Rice and Marinated Zucchini.” I loved the uniqueness and creativity of the menu items, and I felt like I had really eaten a healthy meal. It sure can’t get any fresher! It even included a small scoop of ice cream. That day’s choices were “Thyme,” or “Chocolate Marble.” I chose the Chocolate Marble, but Kathy offered me a sample of her Thyme and both were very good. Their ice creams are also vegan, made with coconut milk.

Dave Kaiser and Kathy McFarland

When Kathy and I finished eating, Dave came and sat with us to visit. Dave has known Jere pretty much since his family moved to the area when he was about 12. Dave’s son, Andrew, was a close friend of Jere’s and helped him in the early days of his budding business. Dave was able to tell me all sorts of stories and he gave me a tour of his own later in the afternoon. But at this point, Emilee came to visit with me so both Kathy and Dave excused themselves.

The First Lady of Bakersville

Both Jere and Emilee are very busy, so I was appreciative of Emilee taking time to sit down with me. She’s such a pretty and charming young lady, and very easy to talk to. Another reason I’ve been a loyal customer of Baker Creek was the homeschooling connection. Both Jere and Emilee were homeschooled, and they are now homeschooling their own children. Since I like writing about both gardening and homeschooling, their family fits both of those interests.

The Gettle family: Jere, Emilee, Sasha, and Malia. Photo courtesy of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds/rareseeds.com

I don’t remember exactly when I started getting their catalogs, but I feel like it was a year or two before Jere and Emilee married because I remember her suddenly appearing in the catalog. Emilee told me the story of how they met: She lived in central Missouri and was an only child. She loved writing and had posted in a magazine, seeking a penpal. She said she had over ninety responses, so she started an online magazine for homeschooled girls. After awhile she decided to also write for boys. She had become good friends with a penpal from Tennessee whose mother had recommended the Baker Creek catalog to her. Emilee thought it would be interesting to interview Jere for her magazine, that his story might be of interest to young men. She started communicating with Jere in January, they met in March for the interview, and they were married in August. Emilee commented that she felt like she saw God’s hand in the events that led to them meeting.

I asked Emilee if she gardened before she met Jere. She said that while growing up, her family had gardened and that she also had a garden of her own. Because of it she also learned to love canning. Where Jere enjoys the seed and sowing part, she really prefers the harvesting and preserving part.

Emilee is very creative and is a good compliment to Jere. She has used her writing talent to co-author books, and she served as the Editor-in-Chief of “Heirloom Garden Magazine” which was recently sold.

Homeschooling

I was curious about how homeschooling affected Jere, Emilee, their family and their business. Emilee said that she felt like homeschooling helps kids find their voice. When she was young she went to public school and was shy, but when her parents started homeschooling her, she became more confident.

Emilee characterized Jere’s education as “unschooling” because he was allowed to focus on his interests. Without that, she said that the business would not have happened, noting that even at a very young age, Jere was a member of Seed Savers.

Homeschooled children can learn so much within entrepreneurial families, so I asked Emilee if their daughters would be involved in the business as they grew up. She replied that they already were, that even at 3 years of age, Malia was helping to fill orders by putting the seed packets and receipts in the envelope. Sasha, who is 9, runs her own lemonade stand during special events. The Gettles are teaching their daughters to give back by allowing them to choose an organization to donate up to half of their earnings to. Sasha recently donated about $1000 to earthquake victims in Nepal. Sasha also enjoys cooking and helps her mother prepare their evening meals in the restaurant’s commercial kitchen. “Both are excellent managers…they both tell us what to do,” she laughed. Emilee added that through the family business, both girls are learning people skills, how to treat people. “Lots of kids are so plugged in that they don’t know how to interact,” she said.

Emilee said that she tells her daughters, “You can start really small, like a seed, and grow as big as you want…with a little fertilizer.” Then laughing, she added, “Organic, of course!” She explained what she meant by “fertilizer” by saying that they have made connections with their competitors – that they didn’t grow by stepping on people, but by working with them. “We don’t really gain anything by being islands. Organic growers accomplish more by joining forces.”

The Gettles’ business requires extensive traveling. They’ve been to many different countries and usually stay for a month at a time. Jere always takes his family with him, so their daughters are growing up being exposed to a range of different cultures and languages. Some of the countries Emilee named that they had recently visited were Mexico, Thailand, and Abu Dhabi. Their next trip will be this fall to China where they plan to adopt two children.

When I was eating lunch in the restaurant, I noticed the Gettles eating lunch together as a family on the other side. Most families in our culture today are dispersed by their different job and school schedules. One of the biggest blessings of homeschooling is the ability of the family unit to spend so much more time together, resulting in stronger bonds, and the Gettle family is definitely taking advantage of that.

Emilee’s Endeavors

Besides contributing to Baker Creek Seed Company and homeschooling their daughters, Emilee has other pursuits. She is starting a new business in which she’ll sell children’s clothing and toys made with natural materials. Her goal is to be fair trade and organic. She still has not settled on the name, but hopes to launch her new business soon. You can follow her on Facebook under “Heirloom Girl.” She also recently completed her second Bachelor’s degree, so now she has two: one in Christian Education, and one in Maternal Health. She’s also a Certified Lactation Consultant. She’s a very busy lady!

Behind the Scenes Tour

When I finished visiting with Emilee I went outside to look around more and take pictures. I soon bumped into Dave Kaiser and he offered to show me around the facilities. As we walked to the warehouse, he pointed out the little cabin where he lived. Although it looks old and rickety, it’s just designed to look that way. It’s actually fairly new.

The cabin where Dave lives

As you might guess, there are many different gardens on the premises. There is one large garden that is solely for the restaurant. The others are “trial” gardens and have three purposes: 1) to test new seeds, 2) to grow seeds to give to contractors, and 3) for photographs.

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Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company contracts with over 200 small farmers all over the world to produce most of their seeds. The remaining seeds are purchased from seed houses, but the Gettles are picky, buying only non-GMO stock.

Growing Like a Weed

January through March is Baker Creek’s busy season. At one time they hand-typed the forms, picked and packed the seeds by hand, and could fill about 1000 orders a day. Currently, they have an automated system that allows them to fill 3000 orders per day.

Inside the current warehouse, Dave introduced me to some of the employees and described the machinery and how it works. I was surprised at how high-tech it was. I got to see one of the machines in action that automatically fills seed packets and seals them.

Dave showing me the current packaging system.
This machine automatically measures out seeds, fills and seals seed packets.

Then he showed me the new warehouse and the new system which will triple the daily number of orders they’re able to fill. When it’s completed they’ll be able to handle about 9000 orders a day. Don’t let Bakersville’s pioneer village fool you. Behind that facade, the company is actually high-tech.

The new warehouse automated system being designed and built.
Greenhouses
Tamarillo

Jere has a private greenhouse where he grows tropical plants. Dave let me sample a Tamarillo, a fruit that he says people either love or hate. I thought it had a unique flavor that would take some getting used to.

In a second, larger greenhouse there were huge banana trees, citrus trees, and plants that were being tested. While passing through I happened to see Malia and took this cute picture of her.

Malia and a caretaker among the banana trees.
Plants being tested

This greenhouse wasn’t big enough for the tall banana trees that were scraping the ceiling. Dave showed me the beginning of a huge new geodesic greenhouse that was being built where that wouldn’t be a problem anymore.

Fresh from Peru

During the tour, we entered an office where Dave showed me a basket of corn and beans that were recently procured from Peru. It was really interesting to see the different sizes and colors of corn and beans. They were bagged and waiting to go through the process of cataloging and testing.

A unique specimen of corn from Peru.
Dave thought these beans from Peru looked like they had fingerprints on them.

From there, Dave showed me the “seed bank” where they store small quantities of seeds for safekeeping. The dark and chilly, concrete-encased room also serves as the company’s storm shelter.

Seeds stored for safekeeping in the Seed Bank
Tour’s End

We ended up back at the General Store where Dave pointed out the very first Baker Creek Seed Company display that Jere built. It was very nice for Dave to spend that time with me, giving me his personal tour.

The first Baker Creek Seed Company display

I had a wonderful visit to Bakersville and I hope you enjoyed reading about it. I’ve included links to make it easy to visit their website to request a catalog or order some seeds. I can definitely recommend a visit to Mansfield. Not only can you visit Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company, but the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder is also located there. Not too far away is Branson, Missouri, another nice place for family vacations.

Helpful Links

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company

Heirloom Girl on Facebook

Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum

A Passion for Seeds ~ The Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company-2

 

 

 

Let Homeschool Freedom Ring!

When we first started homeschooling, I was full of anxiety and self-doubt. As time passed, however, I relaxed and started to enjoy the freedoms it had to offer. I truly treasured them and am thankful that we were able to spend more time with our kids during their fleeting childhood years. At a time when we celebrate the freedoms that we enjoy as Americans, I also celebrate the freedoms that we as homeschoolers enjoy and need to protect.

Schedule

Homeschooling allows the freedom of scheduling. Do you want to homeschool four or five days per week? How many hours a day? Morning or afternoon? Should you homeschool year ’round, or take a summer break?

Some of these questions may be answered according to the ages and needs of your children, but the schedule can also be tailored to maximize time together as a family. If dad travels a lot, schoolwork can be done while he’s away, and then time taken off while he’s at home to spend with him. If mom and dad both work, parents can take turns teaching. Vacations can be taken when public schools are in session and special attractions are less busy.

Approach

Homeschoolers aren’t tied to a particular approach. Parents are free to research the options and make the choice that best fits their family’s current needs, and make changes as those needs change.

Children have different learning styles. Even within one family, one child might learn best through listening (auditory), while another learns best through moving (kinesthetic). Some students have challenges that need to be accommodated such as dyslexia. Homeschooling can address all of these needs, and more.

Adaptability

Even after you find a schedule that works for you, life can have unexpected seasons such as an adoption, illness, disability, or many other reasons. No matter what it is, homeschooling can adapt.

Curriculum

Where public schools all use the same textbooks purchased by the state, homeschool parents can choose from hundreds of sources, write their own, or use none at all.

They can choose a curriculum with a particular worldview. They can teach their children from a structured curriculum, or allow them to pursue their own passions. They can use the same course with all students, or a different one for each.

Curriculum can further be tailored to each student by either slowing down to master a concept, or adding additional work to challenge a precocious learner.

Location

You can homeschool near, you can homeschool far.
You can homeschool in a boat, you can homeschool in a car.
You can homeschool in, you can homeschool out
Homeschooling’s the best, without a doubt!

In the den or the dining room? Inside or out? At home or away? With homeschooling, you are no longer confined to a desk. The world is your classroom.

On a beautiful day, you can take your studies outside to enjoy the weather. You could even take them to a park or beach. Even as you do schoolwork inside, it doesn’t have to be confined to a particular place. You can read while cuddled up on the couch, or let the kids move around while you read aloud.

For a family that relocates often, homeschooling offers continuity of teacher and learning environment. Instead of continually adjusting to a different school and expectations, homeschooling can provide some consistency that children need.

Whether parents are called to be missionaries in a foreign land, or just love traveling to experience different cultures, they can homeschool on the go. The travel accentuates schoolwork by providing immersion into history, geography, cultures and languages.

Protecting

Our homeschool freedoms haven’t come easily. The homeschool community is blessed to have an organization that protects and defends us, and that is Home School Legal Defense Association. I encourage homeschool families to be members of HSLDA. They monitor proposed legislation for anything that might constrain homeschooling, or even allow a foot in the door for restrictions in the future. If a member family has problems with the school district or child protection services, they can call HSLDA for advice or legal services. HSLDA also provides a lot of information on their website.

We should all do our part to protect homeschooling, not only for our own family, but for our nation as a whole.

Let Freedom Ring

Puerto Rico recently gave homeschooling the highest protection possible by designating it a fundamental right. It now has the same constitutional protection as the freedom of speech. I would love to see the United States follow suit and ensure that parents always have the right to educate their children.

As you celebrate the freedoms you enjoy as an American, don’t forget to give thanks for the ones we enjoy as homeschoolers. I hope that they will be protected, if not expanded, so that our children have the freedom to choose for their children, too. Let homeschool freedom ring!

Related Reading

Homeschool Heroes ~ An Interview with J. Michael Smith of HSLDA

Thinking Outside the Desk While Homeschooling

Helpful Links

9 Easy Steps to Homeschooling

Nomadic Homeschoolers

Traveling Homeschoolers

 

 

A Tribute to Homeschool Fathers

Father’s Day is a special occasion for honoring fathers. All fathers are worthy of respect and appreciation for the things they do for their family, but I wanted to narrow my focus to the homeschool father. Homeschooling isn’t a popular choice to make or an easy road to navigate, and although it’s a blessing, it can put additional strain on a marriage. The role of homeschool father presents some unique challenges and responsibilities. I’d like to list some of them, as well as pass on a little advice from veteran homeschool fathers to those who are just beginning the journey. It takes a special man to be a homeschool father.

With permission, I’ve quoted some men who were influential in our household.  Also, I asked some veteran fathers for their input and it’s given anonymously.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may earn a small commission if you use one to make a purchase. It doesn’t affect the price you pay. 

Spiritual Head

The most important role within a Christian family is that of the spiritual head of the household. In this capacity, the father concerns himself with his family members’ relationship with God, and models in human form the Heavenly Father who can’t be seen. In order to do this he must have a good connection with God and an unwavering commitment to his wife and children.

About this responsibility, Christopher Klicka wrote,

“I could simply delegate all the tasks of training my children to my wife. Some homeschool fathers do. But such an arrangement is a recipe for failure. We fathers need to be seriously committed and involved in our homeschooling to truly fulfill our responsibility before God, adequately demonstrate love to our children, and unconditionally love our wife.

In Ephesians 6:4, God makes it clear. “Fathers provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” The command is to us fathers – not to mothers. The responsibility is on us “to bring them up.” This requires action on our part. We can delegate the authority to train and bring up our children to someone else but never the responsibility.

One day when we stand before God, we fathers will have to answer for how our children were trained. Homeschooling happens to be the best way to fulfill this responsibility and the commands that God has given us. But we must realize that homeschooling is not the end in itself – it is a means to the end. The end we are aiming for is that our children will be “arrows” carrying God’s truth to this world and one day living with us in heaven.” (“Top Ten Tips for Homeschool Dads,” Christopher Klicka, originally published in Practical Homeschooling #48, July/Aug 2002, ©Home Life Inc., all rights reserved by Home Life Inc., used by permission)

Dr. James Dobson wrote this hard-hitting fact:

“A Child identifies his parents with God in the early days, whether the adults want the role or not. Specifically, most children see God the way they perceive their earthly fathers.” (Dr. James Dobson, The New Strong-Willed Child, p. 66, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1978, used by permission)

Devoted Husband

The foundation of the family (and homeschool) is the marriage, so nurturing that relationship is very important. The way the father treats his wife affects the way the children see their mother, which in turn, affects the success of the homeschool. About this role, J. Michael Smith of HSLDA said,

“The role of a homeschool dad should be the best husband to his wife, and father to his children as he can be. That will go farther than anything he can do to help his wife in homeschooling. Make the marriage a priority and love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. That’s the goal. Part of loving a homeschool wife is helping and homeschooling by at least being the Principal of the whole school.”

Dr. James Dobson emphasized the importance of how Dad treats Mom, and how it influences the way the children see her:

“The best public-relations agent for Mom—is Dad. Fathers can wield tremendous influence over what children think of their mothers, or of women in general…

In a world that often discounts the contribution of women, especially homemakers, it’s up to us as husbands to say in a dozen ways, ‘Your mother is a wonderful woman! She works hard and she deserves tremendous credit for what she gives to us all. As far as I’m concerned, she’s number one!’

Kids will quickly recognize the respect shown by a father and reflect it in their attitudes and behavior. It is a public-relations assignment that only they can perform.”  (“Dads–Kids Will Treat Mom Based On Your Actions,” Dr. James Dobson, originally published in The Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide, used by permission.)

Protector

In my post, “Homeschooling as a Ministry,” I wrote about the need for a homeschool mom to protect her time and energy. When it’s known that she’s a stay-at-home mother, she may be asked to help with other projects and ministries. It can be really hard to say “no,” especially for people-pleasers. The homeschool father can help his wife determine which, if any, of them she should commit to, and be willing to be the bad guy when she must refrain. One father said, “My wife has permission to blame me when needing to decline uncomfortable requests and invitations. ‘My husband won’t allow that.’ This answer removes the need to justify, explain, or give reasons for the decision. Further discussion can simply be referred to me. Even most persistent folks who will badger my wife won’t usually badger me, and I don’t often give more than a ‘because I said so’ to pushy people.”

At times, it may be necessary to protect your family from well-meaning family, friends and neighbors. They may ask questions about the homeschool, they may make a report to the authorities, they may even threaten to fight for custody of the children. As the head of the family, the homeschool father needs to set firm boundaries for the protection of his family. He should be the one to determine what information he wants to give to those parties.

I regret to say it, but time and time again, in Facebook groups, I read posts about in-laws making inquiries and negative comments to the homeschool mother. Especially in these cases, the homeschool father should tell his parents to direct their concerns to him. When the children’s mother is left to handle it, it puts her in the awkward position of potentially offending her in-laws and causing problems in her marriage. If the husband sets that boundary then he will protect the relationship with his wife. It can be hard to set boundaries for one’s parents, but Ephesians 5:31 says, ““For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” For the protection of the marriage, a boundary should be set.

Supporter

Unfortunately, not all homeschooling parents have good support systems. When there are naysayers it can add yet more stress. Even if you’re part of homeschool support groups, there can still be times of feeling alone. It’s hard to be counter-culture and it can really be draining. The homeschooling father can be strong when mom can’t. Lending a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on will go a long way in helping to recharge her batteries.

In addition to emotional support, Dad provides shelter, transportation, and resources for the homeschool. It would be hard to do without those things.

Principal

The role of Principal may include working with mom to set goals and choose curriculum. He may also help with the teaching. But discipline is the biggest responsibility because if mom doesn’t have respect and obedience from her students, she is not going to be able to teach. She’ll get burned out and want to quit.

In my early homeschooling years I read something that stuck with me. I don’t remember where I read it, or I would give them credit, but in talking about the father, he said that the father should support the mother (in disciplining) in such a way, that when the kids look at their mother, they see the shadow of their father behind her. I loved that illustration, and have never forgotten it.

When our son entered the teens, I started to have a hard time teaching him. We spent a lot of time arguing, and now I couldn’t even tell you what about. My husband was self-employed so he was home a lot, but his office was in our storm shelter/basement. One day my son and I started arguing and my husband could hear us down in the basement. All of a sudden, my husband appeared and took over handling the problem. I was always so grateful to know that I had his support and that if I had problems with the kids that he would step in and take over. Without that help, I wouldn’t have been able to finish homeschooling.

I realize that not all families have that luxury. Some fathers work or travel a lot, and can’t always be there. In those situations, he’ll need to come up with a plan for when he is home. It’s up to each couple to determine how they will discipline their children, but the buck needs to stop with Dad. Whatever consequences are set out, the children need to know without a doubt, that they will be followed through on. For Christian parenting advice, my favorite source is Dr. James Dobson.

Our Homeschool

We homeschooled for fourteen years, so I asked my husband, Scott, for his perspective. He said, “I saw my role mainly as support and encouragement, and occasionally as the Principal. I facilitated homeschooling by providing the home and resources. I didn’t feel like I needed to be involved in planning because I felt that you were doing a good job, that the kids were ahead of the curve. I acted as an encourager by helping you to look at the big picture when you got discouraged. The verse, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” kept coming to my mind as the core reason of why we homeschooled. I wasn’t worried about whether they went to college – I felt that if they were grounded spiritually that it would all be okay. Conversely, if they had a stellar secular education but were ungrounded spiritually, what value would that be?

Scott and I did a lot of talking and praying together over the years to chart the course for our homeschool. Keeping our focus on God provided the direction. Knowing how Scott felt about things helped me to make the day-to-day decisions.  God, through Scott, provided everything I needed to educate our kids. Both of them graduated from our homeschool, and now, together, we watch our kids enter adulthood and thank God for giving them to us, and for the blessing of homeschooling.

Advice From Veteran Homeschool Fathers

I asked a few veteran homeschool fathers, including my husband, what advice they would give to men who are new in that role.

One father who responded had the roles reversed in his family in that both he and his wife worked outside the home, but since his job offered more flexibility, he took on the responsibility of homeschooling their daughter. He said, “BE INVOLVED. I can’t stress this enough. My wife regrets not being more involved, because she sees how much homeschooling affected my daughter’s relationship with me. She sees that we have a deeper relationship because I spent most of the time homeschooling her. My wife says that if she could go back and do it over again, she would find ways to be a part of the day-to-day homeschooling.”

A Homeschool Principal of 25 years advises, “Pray, take an active interest in your children’s education, join a home school support group, respect your wife and her efforts, and make sure the children do, too.”

My husband, Scott, says, “Be a strong encourager. Don’t let all the weight be on your wife’s shoulders. Cherish the freedom and embrace it, rather than the workload. People don’t understand the freedom of homeschooling. There is work, but also great freedom. God gave your children to you, not to the city, state, or federal government.”

Thank You!

As you can see, a lot of responsibility has been put on the shoulders of homeschool fathers, and they are so important! To homeschool fathers everywhere, happy Father’s Day and thank you for everything you do!

Helpful Links

Homeschooling as a Ministry

Homeschool Heroes ~ An Interview with J. Michael Smith of HSLDA

Top Ten Tips for Homeschool Dads by Christopher Klicka

Spiritual Leadership in the Home by Dr. James Dobson

“9 Easy Steps to Homeschooling” – My ebook that helps you get started homeschooling without the stress. See link in sidebar.

A Tribute to Homeschool Fathers

The Rabbit Mystery

My daughter came in the front door, calling, “Mom! Come here! Hurry!” I might’ve panicked, but the tone of her voice hinted at something pleasant. Again, she urged, “hurry!” As I came downstairs, “I said, ‘It’s not something that’s going to get loose in the house, is it?” She and her cousin giggled.

What greeted me were the big eyes and long ears of a huge brown rabbit! She and her cousin, Sydney, had just returned from going to a movie, and as they neared home they saw a rabbit in our country road. They stopped the car and got out and together were easily able to catch the huge rabbit.

Margaret and Sydney with the rabbit they’d just caught.
Wild or Pet?

They immediately started debating whether it was wild, or a dumped pet. It looked just like a wild cottontail. In fact, it looked very much like the stock photo I used on my Favorite Blog Hops page. But it was easy to catch and very plump, making them wonder if it could have been a dumped pet.

Divine Providence?

The funny thing was the timing. Just the night before, Margaret and I had been sitting on our front porch enjoying the sunset, and were reminiscing. About ten years earlier when we first moved to our homestead we had brought two large New Zealand rabbits. During that first year or so, she raised several litters of baby rabbits. One of my favorite memories was when we brought them into the house to doctor their eyes and we had little rabbits jumping all over us. Margaret said she’d like to have a pet rabbit again. I admitted that even I had thought about having a pet rabbit. So now as she said she wanted to keep this one, it was hard to look at those big brown eyes and say no. It seemed possible that God agreed that she needed a rabbit.

Settling In

It was about 10 o’clock at night and I didn’t mind her keeping it, but we had to find some basic supplies. We found a large plastic tub to contain him for the night, and some stainless steel pet bowls to put some food and water in.

When I awoke the next morning, Margaret was already up with the rabbit that she had named “Wiggles.” She was feeding Wiggles some cantaloupe in the den, and apologized if she had woken me up. She said Wiggles had woken her up early by thumping on the tub with his back feet.

Wiggles

Together we looked in our garage for supplies for a temporary litter box. I think most homesteads are like ours in that we accumulate a lot of stuff, stuff that comes in handy at times like these. We found a shallow cardboard box and some cat litter. We even still had the halter that she used with Lucy and Peter, her rabbits ten years ago.

Wiggles seems to be relaxing and making himself at home. He’s hopping around and enjoying the breakfast salad that Margaret made of clover, weeds, and cantaloupe.

Wiggles Eating Breakfast

Margaret looked up domestic rabbit breeds and found one called “San Juan” that looked exactly like this one. It said they were docile and made good pets, and also that they were bred to look like cottontails. She grimaced as she read that they were a popular choice for training hunting dogs, but then laughed at the thought that someone might have been using it for that purpose and she had rescued it.

Wiggles in Margaret’s Lap

We still haven’t solved the mystery, and haven’t tried to determine its gender yet, so for now it’s a “he.” There may possibly be a follow up post later on. As Margaret said, “Of all the things we’ve found in the road, this one is the most mysterious.”

The Rabbit Mystery

 

Garden Tour ~ My Mother’s Garden

I inherited my love of gardening (and porches) from my mother. I recently visited my parents at their home near Livingston, Texas, and my mother’s garden was in full-bloom. I thought you might enjoy a tour, seeing some new plants, and learning a few stories behind her decorations.

This bed at the entrance to their home contains Four O’ Clocks, Salvia, and Spider Wort.
Mama’s Style

My mother describes her garden style as “Southern Victorian Cottage.” She likes cottage gardening because she can buy anything she wants that fits into her garden’s zone 8b climate. Also, any gift or donation fits in, regardless of color or size.

My parents’ home is yellow and white, so my mom repeated those colors in her garden, especially with Shasta Daisies that appear throughout their large yard. Mature trees provide a lot of dappled shade throughout the day.

Shasta Daisies with a large yellow daylily.

When people comment, “It looks like a lot of work,” Mom replies, “not if you love gardening. It’s a challenge, and you share yourself and meet people through it.” She never thought she’d have such an extensive garden, but the space allowed for it, and living in the same place for a longer length of time helped, too.

Vibrant Four O’ Clocks
The Porch

My parents’ home has a wrap-around porch which was a key selling point. They enjoy starting their days with coffee on it. During my visit, I was happy to join them in that ritual. As soon as my eyes opened in the morning, my first thought was, “Coffee on the porch!” We also played a game of Scrabble and got caught up on all of our news while sitting out there. I often caught the peachy scent of Mimosa trees which were flowering nearby. Porch-sitting runs in my family. (Oh, and I also wrote this blog post while sitting there at the table.)

My mother loves ferns and has them hanging all around her porches. She moves them into her garage during the winter months and carefully tends them until she can return them to their home on the porch in spring.

Our favorite corner of the porch.
Garden Tour ~ My Mother's Garden
View of a small pond from the other corner of the porch.

As if the wrap-around porch wasn’t enough, my mother had another little porch added to the back of the garage near her gardening area where she could sit and enjoy the view of the back yard.

Mom on her little porch behind the garage.
Drive-Thru Garden

Mom had a unique idea. She studied their large back yard for over a year and finally had the idea of designing a drive-thru garden. They live in a small neighborhood where many of the neighbors zip around in golf carts and she wanted them to be able to take a drive-thru tour of her garden.

Looking through part of the “Drive-Thru” garden at a sitting area.

She made five flower beds in a circle and then used their golf cart to drive around and around among them to create the paths.

She then started looking for ceramic animals to add, which she tucked in among the plants. She wanted her grandchildren to have fun finding them. As they got older they rearranged them to play hide and seek.

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Mom told me a funny story: Years ago she had left some of the nursery tags on her plants so that she could remember what they were. During one of their visits, the granddaughters collected all of those tags for her. Mom graciously thanked them for their labor of love, and the tags never made it back out to the plants.

Once, after establishing the drive-thru garden, my parents hired a man to mow the yard for them. Afterwards, he said that he didn’t want to come back because she had too many flowers. We laughingly agreed that we didn’t want someone like that in our yards anyway!

Pass-along Plants

Once, many years ago, mom admired a neighbor’s flowers. The neighbor offered to give her some, but mom said she didn’t want to take her plants. The neighbor insisted, saying that her plants did better when she shared them. Mom said that she’s always remembered that and tried to share hers as well.

Mom has received several plants from neighbors. She used to work at a church where they had a tradition of “flowering the cross” where they removed the blossoms of Easter Lilies and attached them to a cross, but then planned to discard the plants. She asked if she might have them and they were given to her so she added them to her garden.

She has some rose bushes that began as a cutting from another gardener. Mom admired her rose bushes so she stopped one day to ask about them. The woman gave her some cuttings and Mom was able to start some plants for her own garden. She said the woman called them “Seven Sisters.”

“Seven Sisters” Rose
Saving Money

In addition to acquiring plants from friends and neighbors, Mom tries to save money by regularly scouring the clearance racks at garden centers for bargains. She’s not afraid to nurse leggy and droopy plants back to health.

The Shasta Daisies multiplied quickly, so she has been able to spread them around her yard by dividing them. Not only did they help to fill her beds, but they gave her garden some continuity. I envied how healthy and beautiful her daisies were. They don’t grow that well for me.

Mom focuses on buying perennials for the long-term so that she doesn’t have to keep rebuying plants, and fills in with bedding plants (annuals) to add some immediate color while the perennials mature.

Like me, Mom likes to repurpose. She found these discarded bi-fold doors and asked my dad to hang them at one end of her porch. She has all sorts of found treasures that she has used to decorate her gardens and porches.

New Discoveries

Mom has a plant addiction. She visits garden centers and nurseries often and just can’t help herself if she finds something new. This yellow Spray of Gold (Galphimia Gracillis) is one example. She came across it one day while shopping and had to add it to her collection. It looks lovely among the daisies, doesn’t it?!

“Spray of Gold” among Shasta Daisies

For years Mom had been pulling up a “weed.” This year she finally decided she liked it and let it stay. After an unusual two-night freeze, it became a filler, filling in while her other plants revived. Dad did some research and found out that it’s called “Jewels of Opar,” is a member of the Purslane family, and that it’s edible. Most of the day it’s closed, but late in the afternoon the flowers open, similar to Four O’Clocks. Here are two photos, showing them closed, and then open. The buds and flowers are so small and dainty that it was challenging to get a good picture of them.

Jewels of Opar, closed
Jewels of Opar, open

She didn’t know what a pretty blue wildflower in her yard was so she took a picture of it and used a garden app to identify it as Spider Wort. She decided she liked it, so she started digging it up and adding it to her flower beds, where it has multiplied.

Roses

Caterpillars decimated Mom’s Knock-out roses earlier this spring. A certified Rosarian from her garden club advised not to cut roses back like a hedge, that it was preferable to remove individual stalks to thin out, and not to cut out more than a third. Mom noted that it took them about six weeks to come back out. They were blooming beautifully when I was there.

A Crepe Myrtle surrounded by Knock Out Roses.

 

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Tips

My mother’s favorite gardening tool, the one that she uses most often, is a weeder hoe. She says that it goes under the weed and cuts it off, and is easy to use.

Mom with her favorite tool, a weeder hoe.

 

Her other favorite tools are Black & Decker power tools – the battery-powered leaf blower and battery-powered trimmer because they’re light-weight.

Mom’s favorite gardening book is Trowel and Error.

Other tips that she shares are:

  • Do a little bit of maintenance every day. Then it’s not so overwhelming.
  • Walk the garden every day and talk to your plants. You’ll see if a squirrel has dug up your newly planted plant. You’ll see something new and different. Carry a pair of scissors or pruners with you to do a little deadheading as you go.
  • Learn when to transplant and share, don’t move plants at the wrong time. For example, if you try to transplant a blooming Shasta Daisy, it’ll be gone from your garden and might not survive the move to the new garden. Wait until it’s done blooming, and transplant young (small) specimens.
  • Know how much water plants need. Soaker and irrigation systems don’t account for different needs. Hand watering allows a closer look at plants.
  • Use “anchor plants” – have shrubs or trees in each bed so that when annuals die or perennials go dormant, you still have something in the bed.
  • Take pictures of your plants so that later on you can remember where they are.
Thank You for Coming!

I hope you enjoyed touring my parents’ yard as much as they enjoyed sharing it. I think it’s fun to talk with other gardeners and learn about their style. Somewhere, I saw gardening referred to as the slowest of the performing arts, and it truly is an art form and a labor of love.

Garden Tour ~ My Mother's Garden
My Mother and I in front of their home.

 

Garden Tour ~ My Mother's Garden