Ruby Spider Daylily

I love these big, beautiful “Ruby Spider” daylilies. They’re huge! About 7″ in diameter.  Their colors are vibrant, and the red looks like velvet.  Do you have a favorite daylily?  I’d love to see a picture!

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Comfort Zones

I could have named my blog something about leaving my comfort zone. In The Birth of Curren Christian Academy, I shared how we began homeschooling. That was a big leap out of my comfort zone. My biggest fear in homeschooling was that I wouldn’t do a good enough job and that my kids’ futures would be compromised as a result. But I kept my eyes on God and prayed without ceasing for His guidance every step of the way. In fact, our school motto was Phillipians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Now with our homeschooling completed, I can look back and see His hand in our lives and that He was faithful to work through me.

What Does the Future Hold?

Recently, I asked God what was next. While homeschooling my kids, my entire world seemingly revolved around them. If I wasn’t teaching them, I was reading about homeschooling, comparing curriculum, planning field trips, or running my taxi service. But now my future looked like a blank canvas. In some ways it was exciting as I thought about spending more time with my husband and pursuing my own interests, but in other ways I worried about feeling empty. It didn’t take long for God to point me in a new direction which, again, is taking me out of my comfort zone. I’m meeting people that are at rock bottom and have problems I haven’t had any prior experience with. God was faithful in homeschooling, so this time it’s a little easier to step out in faith and find out what He thinks I have to offer.

Titus 2

In my younger years, when anticipating this time of life, I hoped that I might follow the teaching in Titus 2:3-5:

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.  Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”

Last year my church started a new women’s ministry based on that passage with just the right timing for me to start transitioning into that role, and it, too, takes me out of my comfort zone because as an introvert I’m pushing myself to do things I’m not comfortable with, such as meet new people, teach, and lead others in prayer.

Blogging

And yet another leap was my decision to start blogging, to put myself “out there” and share some of my experiences. I’m hoping that there might be some who would enjoy reading about them, and maybe to encourage homeschooling mothers just beginning their journey. For me, forcing myself out of my comfort zone means learning new things and trusting God.

If God is calling you out of your comfort zone, whether to homeschool your children, or some other ministry, then step out in faith. It won’t be easy, but it doesn’t all rest on you. Just allow Him to work through you. Matthew 11:29-30 “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  God is faithful, and you will reap blessings beyond measure.

Has God asked you to do something out of your comfort zone? Tell me about it in the comments.

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Libby, our Livestock Guard Dog

I wasn’t familiar with the term “Livestock Guard Dog,” (LGD for short) before moving to the farm. I had heard of the Great Pyrenees breed, but not “Akbash,” a breed which originated in Turkey and means “white head.” A few years into my country life, a neighbor’s dog had a litter of puppies. Through her I had learned a little bit about her dogs, Pyrenees/Akbash mixes, whichguarded her herd of goats, and occasionally the neighbor’s cows.

Chosen

I went over to her house to see the puppies and consider if one might be a good addition to our family. They had corralled all nine puppies in the bed of their pickup for me to see, and when I approached they all scampered to the opposite end of the bed. Except for one. She came to me and picked me out as her new family.

Livestock guard dog puppy, LGD
Libby as a puppy

That day happened to be 9/11, so being in a patriotic mood I named her Liberty Belle, “Libby” for short. She’s the only dog I’ve ever picked out and she has turned out to be darn near perfect. I don’t know how one could live in the country without an LGD.

LGD Traits

LGDs have amazing instincts and are used to protect a variety of livestock including poultry, goats, sheep, horses, and more. I researched their traits before choosing to get one. One thing that I read which is both a pro and a con is that they don’t respond to commands very well. They are independent-minded and respond quickly to anything they deem as a threat. The worst thing that Libby does is chase cars. I’ve tried just about everything to break that habit to no avail, but there are quite a few other Pyrenees in the area and they all chase cars, too. The way that it’s a good thing, though, is that if a predator is threatening they don’t have to be told to act. While their owners are soundly asleep, they’re on duty. It’s pretty often that we find dead raccoons, opossums, or armadillos in the yard. LGDs bark a lot, but that is how they do their job and another characteristic to be aware of before purchasing one.

Dispatched Raccoon
Dispatched Raccoon
First Save

When Libby was about six month old she had her first “save.” We were watching tv one evening when she started barking. It seemed a little more insistent or something, so my husband took a flashlight to investigate. He has a trailer with a large smoker on it. It also has a roof held up by a metal frame. We had a solid black cat at the time and I guess she was climbing on the trailer, lost her footing and slid down between the smoker and the frame. It being all metal, there was nothing she could sink her claws into to climb back up, so there she hung by her head on a cold winter night. My husband found her and freed her, but if it hadn’t been for Libby, I feel sure the cat would have died before morning.

Libby Shredding the Remains of a Coyote
A Coyote?
A Job to Do

Livestock Guard Dogs aren’t for everyone. If you are considering getting one, then I highly recommend researching them and learning more about the various breeds and their traits. For one thing, they need a large territory, and a job to do. I was at an animal shelter once and they had a Great Pyrenees that had been returned by a family who had adopted it but lived in a neighborhood. Unfortunately, it killed one of their neighbor’s dogs, so they took it back to the shelter. I can speak for mine, and she does not tolerate visiting dogs well. As she’s gotten older I’m sometimes able to convey to her that a visiting dog is okay, but otherwise she will bark and jump at the car they’re in until they leave.

LGD Guarding Horses
Libby Guarding Horses

Dogs are often dumped out in the country, and loose dogs are a danger to farm animals. They can kill chickens and other small livestock.  They can even chase horses literally to death, or cause them to injure theirselves. That’s why Libby’s instinct is to keep them away, especially the coyote. At night we can hear the eerie coyote howls all around us. If it weren’t for Libby, our poultry wouldn’t last very long.

In addition to protecting other animals, Libby also guards our garden and orchard. By keeping various critters out of the area, she prevents raccoons from raiding our fruit trees, or deer from ravishing our garden.

Gentle Giants

As imposing as LGDs are, they are also amazingly gentle and nurturing. We just about always have cats (they have a job to do, too) and Libby is tolerant of kittens jumping on her, playing with her tail, and swatting her nose. A few years ago when we had turkeys, they would come up to the porch and share her dinner. She never snapped at one. I saw her gently drive them away a few times, but she often let them eat. LGDs are usually good with children, too. Could a Livestock Guard Dog be in your future? Please make sure you research and consider carefully. They are wonderful dogs in the right situation. If you already own one, or more, tell me about them in the comments.

Livestock Guard Dog and Turkeys
Libby and Turkeys
For More Information

Livestock Guard Dogs: Selection, Care, and Training is a comprehensive book.

Livestock Guardian Dogs on Facebook

Life with Livestock Guardian Dogs ebook

Related Reading

Why Geraldine?! The Judge and Jury

This post has been shared on The Homesteader Hop.

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Stitch Fix

In my very first Blog post I mentioned Stitch Fix.  Today I happened to be wearing one of the tops I bought in one of my first “Fixes,” before I decided to blog, so I asked my daughter to take some pictures for me.  I’m camera shy and I never like how I look in pictures, so her laughing really didn’t help!

This post contains affiliate links. If you use my link to open a new Stitch Fix account then I receive a referral credit.

Dall Crochet Detail Top
Dall Crochet Detail Top

This is a dusty pink Dall Crochet Detail Knit Top from Crescent.  I kept it because it fit my criteria:  comfortable, easy care, no ironing needed (because of its crinkly fabric) and one of my limited wardrobe colors.  I also didn’t already have this color hanging in my closet.  For the most part I’m pretty casual.  I wear blue jeans 95.5% of the time, and this top goes well with denim.  I like the hem-line because it hides my problem areas, and I also really don’t like tucking in shirts.  It has just enough detail to make it interesting with the opalescent buttons and floral-patterned inset at the neck.  In my profile I told my stylist that I’m pretty modest, so I appreciate the neckline not being too low. The fabric is light and airy, but also not sheer, which is important to me at my age. I also liked the sleeve length. I’ve really enjoyed it and have gotten a lot of wear out of it.

Stitch Fix Personal Styling Service

Stitch Fix is like having my own personal stylist.  It’s fun to see what someone else would choose for me, especially when they’re a fashion expert.  It exposes me to new brands, and encourages me to try styles that I might not otherwise.  I like to shop in stores, but I’m easily overwhelmed, and it seems like when I’m looking for something in particular I can’t ever find it.  I prefer to try things on at home anyway.  Even before the recent hubbub about fitting rooms, I preferred to be in the comfort and privacy of my own home.  Some fitting rooms have such horrible lighting that I hate the way I look so I leave in disgust without buying anything.  And I always feel like I’m being watched by “security personel” whether I am or not.

Ready to Try Stitch Fix?

If you would like to try Stitch Fix for yourself, there’s no charge to learn more about it and fill out your profile.  When you schedule a Fix, the $20 styling fee is charged to your credit card.  Your stylist will send five items that they hand-pick for you based on the information you give them.  Upon receipt, you have three days to decide what you want to keep.  The $20 styling fee is applied towards anything you buy, and if you keep all five pieces then you get a 25% discount.  On top of all of that, they include a postage-paid envelope so that all you have to do is slide the unwanted items into it and drop it in the mail! If you’re ready to try it, please click on one of the Stitch Fix banners or links in this post. By doing so you’ll be using my affiliate link and I will earn a credit for referring you and I would really appreciate it! Once you become a Stitch Fix customer you can also earn credits by referring your friends.

Customer Service

I recently had my first experience with Stitch Fix’s customer service department and I was especially happy with how quick they were to resolve my problem.  I had purchased a navy rayon dress with a paisley design that I really liked.  After wearing it the first time, I washed it on the hand wash cycle in cold water and hung it up to dry.  I put it on to wear it a second time and found that it had shrunk and was too tight around my mid-section.  I was really disappointed and contacted Stitch Fix about their policy.  The representative cheerfully refunded my money by crediting my credit card, without making me feel like she doubted my story or suspected that I had mis-handled it.  I really appreciated that!  I’m expecting a new Fix soon and I’ll be sharing it.  You can subscribe to my blog to make sure you don’t miss it.

Gift Certificates

I first started using Stitch Fix after my sister told me about it. When I placed my first order using her referral link she received a $25 credit for referring me.  We’ve since exchanged gift certificates for our birthdays.  Talk about easy! These days with shipping expenses, I’ve gotten to where I don’t want to ship a gift because then I spend a significant portion of my budget to mail it.  I’d rather put the extra money into a gift certificate and then know she’ll be able to get something she likes, and have fun in the process.

Pinterest Board

When you set up your profile, you can link a Pinterest board to it so that your stylist can see what types of things you like.  For the best Fix possible, it’s worthwhile to spend some time setting up your board, pinning to it, and making sure it represents your style.

I like to peek at my sister’s board and see what types of things she’s pinning.  Sometimes I like it, too, but others not so much. You need to do more pinning, Sis!


Not Too Far From Here ~ An Answered Prayer

Many years ago I had a favorite song called “Not Too Far From Here,” sung by Kim Boyce. I had her cassette tape and listened to it over and over, singing along, of course.  With permission from its writer, Steve Siler, I want to share the lyrics with you before continuing my story:

Not Too Far From Here

Somebody’s down to their last dime,
Somebody’s running out of time,
Not too far from here
Somebody’s got nowhere else to go
Somebody needs a little hope
Not too far from here
And I may not know their name
But I’m praying just the same
That You’ll use me Lord to wipe away a tear
‘Cause somebody’s crying
Not too far from here
Somebody’s troubled and confused
Somebody’s got nothing left to lose
Not too far from here
Somebody’s forgotten how to trust
Somebody’s dying for love
Not too far from here
It may be a stranger’s face
But I’m praying for Your grace
To move in me and take away the fear
‘Cause somebody’s hurting
Not too far from here
Help me, Lord, not to turn away from pain
Help me not to rest while those around me weep
Give me Your strength and compassion
When somebody finds the road of life too steep
Now, I’m letting down my guard and I’m opening my heart
Help me speak your love to every needful ear
Jesus is waiting
Not too far from here
Oh, Jesus is waiting
Not too far from here

Tragedy

Almost exactly 12 years ago, while I was living in Rockport, Texas, there was a tragic accident. I vividly remember reading the article below the large photo on the front of our small town’s newspaper. It was Memorial weekend and a family was coming to Rockport on vacation. Just as they were about to cross the bridge into town, they were hit by a drunk driver. The article gave so much detail. It was a family of four, just like mine. They were driving a Ford Expedition just like mine. Their daughter was a year younger than mine (almost exactly) and was seated behind the driver’s seat where mine normally sat. Their son was the same age as mine and sat in the center of the third row where mine normally sat. These similarities made it easy for me to put myself into this mother’s shoes and imagine myself in her place. The article went on to say that the father and daughter were taken to a hospital in Aransas Pass where the daughter later died, and that the mother and son were taken to a hospital in Corpus Christi where their son was in ICU with internal injuries. This all happened not too far from our home.

God-incidence?

It just so happened that my son was scheduled to take a standardized test the next morning at a church not too far from the hospital in Corpus Christi. I couldn’t help but imagine what the mother must have been going through, being separated from her husband and daughter at the moment that they lost her, and I didn’t think that she would have family or friends with her since they didn’t live in the area. I felt like God was nudging me to go see her. Even though it was way out of my comfort zone, I made some brownies and gathered a few magazines to take to her the next morning, while five-year-old Margaret drew a picture to give her.

Acting in Faith

After dropping my son off at the testing site, I took my daughter and went to the hospital. I remember sitting in my car in the parking lot imagining a variety of scenarios and summoning my courage. How would she respond to a perfect stranger bothering her at a time like this? Would the hospital even let me try? What would I say? I went up to ICU and when a nurse asked if she could help me, I did my best to explain why I was there. The nurse went to tell the mother while Margaret and I went to sit and wait.

“You Must Be a Christian”

When she, the mother, came through the doors and approached me I felt so awkward. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but something to the effect that I was from Rockport and that I had read about her family’s accident in the newspaper and that I just wanted her to know that I cared. I do, however, remember exactly what she said to me. She said, “you must be a Christian.” I don’t think there is a more wonderful thing that could have been said to me. We embraced and cried together. We sat down and I gave her the things we had brought, and after talking a little while longer, Margaret and I excused ourselves and left. The mother and I kept in touch for quite awhile after that. About a year later when she became pregnant, she shared the happy news with me and even sent me an ultrasound picture.

Answered Prayer

Some time later I was reminiscing about that encounter. I had acted in faith to try to comfort someone else, but it also blessed me. It was then that I remembered the lyrics to that song I had loved so much. While singing it I had prayed that God might use me, and that I wouldn’t shy away from such an opportunity. I realized that He had answered my prayer, and that it had all happened not too far from here.

You can read more about this beautiful and moving song in Music For The Soul, Healing For The Heart, written by Steve Siler.  I gratefully thank Mr. Siler for giving me permission to include his lyrics in my story.  It wouldn’t be the same without them!

Listen to Kim Boyce’s beautiful presentation of Not Too Far From Here.

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This post was shared on the Simple Homestead Blog Hop.

Not Too Far From Here

The Birth of Curren Christian Academy ~ How Our Family Began Homeschooling

The term “homeschooling” first entered my mind when our son was about three years old. Almost robotically I found myself seeking out information about it. I didn’t know anyone that homeschooled. I had never heard of it. I didn’t know if it was legal.

The first time I uttered the words to my husband, he responded, “No way are we homeschooling.” At the time we lived in the greater Houston metropolitan area and with a plethora of private school options he saw no reason to entertain that thought. With that, I put it out of my mind. Or tried to, anyway. But at some point I found myself being drawn to it again. As I found interesting tidbits I shared them with my husband. He listened politely, but that was about it.

Asking For a Sign

One day it occurred to me that maybe God had planted this seed in my mind, or heart, or wherever. So I prayed about it and told Him that if He was leading me to homeschooling that I was willing but that my husband was not convinced. I then asked Him to give me a sign and that it was to be my husband telling me to homeschool.

Changes

A few years passed and during that time my husband decided that he wanted to make a change. He had been the branch manager for a major investment firm for about twenty years in one of its largest markets, and he wanted to slow down a little by taking a smaller office. As a result, we moved to a small town in the Texas hill country.

By this time, our son was six, and we had a daughter who was two. Our son had been in a private church school but in the new town our only choices were public school, or a private school that didn’t meet our criteria. Being March, we decided to put Hayden in the public school for the remainder of the school year. That short amount of time was enough to convince us that that was not what we wanted for our children, and soon after that my husband turned to me and said, “I’m ready to homeschool.” That was the sign that I had asked for several years earlier and I kept my word. I immediately started getting ready for the next school year. That was the summer of 2001.

9/11

We started homeschooling at the beginning of September, 2001, just before the infamous 9/11. So now I have to tell you that my husband worked for Morgan Stanley, and that their company headquarters were in the World Trade Center. My husband was almost there that day. He had been asked to attend a meeting, but he sent someone else in his place. He was on his way to work that morning and heard about the plane hitting the first tower. He called and told me about it so I turned on the television and started watching the coverage in time to witness the second plane and everything else that transpired.

So many people were affected that day, and I don’t mean to take anything away from anyone else, but it was a scary time for our family, too, as my husband worried about friends, co-workers, and employees who were in the towers, and worried about whether he still had a job and income.

I have to say that I was so glad to have both of my children at home with me during that time. It really had an affect on us as a family, and on our new commitment to homeschooling.

Related Reading

Boredom: Gateway to Creativity

The Profit of Park Days for Homeschool Moms

The Big Day ~ The Chickens and Their Peeps Move Out

Several years ago we had a large assortment of poultry, but over the years the flock had dwindled until we were down to a rooster and four hens that were all about seven years old, and a lone drake.

Carried Away

We decided we were ready to get some new birds, so we went to the feed store with a mental shopping list.  There’s just something about the peeping of baby birds and, well, we got a little carried away. After we had picked out all that we wanted, the breeder gave us a few large handfuls of baby bantams as freebies. (Bantams are small chickens). We returned home with four geese, three ducks, seven guineas, four turkeys, and at least forty chickens of various breeds and sizes!

Make-Shift Brooder

We had a giant round livestock tank that, being blue and 8′ in diameter, strongly resembled a child’s wading pool. My husband used his tractor to put it in our garage where we used it as a temporary brooder for all of those birds. We lost one chick that first night but the rest thrived. We had forgotten how quickly they start to smell. Over the course of two weeks the odor grew stronger until it started to pervade our home. It became unbearable!

Emergency Preparations

We had a “shack” in the chicken yard that we prepared as best we could to house the chickens and their peeps because we had to get them out of our garage. My husband reinforced it to protect them from snakes and drafts, added fresh shavings and a heat lamp. Our daughter was nice enough to help me catch birds and we put them in boxes and made several trips back and forth between the garage and shack. It was so wonderful to have them relocated and be able to clean out our garage!

Rough Start

That night it stormed and, unfortunately, some rain dripped through the tin roof, shattering the heat lamp. As a result, three of the chicks got wet and cold, and died. My husband made more repairs, put a tarp over the roof, replaced the heat lamp bulb and added a second heat lamp, and everything went well after that.

Free at Last

The geese grew like dinosaurs in comparison to the bantam chicks which didn’t seem to grow at all. We decided it was time to open the door of their shack and let them come and go freely in the fenced chicken yard.

I stayed out there with them for awhile. It didn’t take long for the goslings and ducklings to come bouncing out into the greenery. They soon found a patch of clover and settled into it. It took quite awhile for some of the others to venture out, but finally half the turkeys, all the guineas, and a few chicks found their way over the threshold and started exploring. I had worried that our geriatric chickens might bully the newcomers, but they didn’t.

Older Chickens Checking Out the New Brood
Older Chickens Checking Out the New Brood
The Big Day - Young Birds Enjoying Their New Home
The Young Birds a Few Weeks Later
Libby, the dog, Watching Over the Young Birds
Libby Watching Over the Birds
Country Girl Initiation

The new flock reminded me of the first chickens that we got about ten years earlier. Our kids were young, and we handled the chicks a lot, so several of them were pretty tame. There was one in particular, named Esmerelda, that was a gold Sebright banty hen. When I went out to tend the flock, Esmerelda often flew up to perch on my shoulder, or when I squatted down she’d hop up on the back of my waistband. One day the kids brought her into the house because she was acting funny – she wouldn’t stand up. I held her in my lap to look her over and see if I could figure out what was wrong. I didn’t have any idea, but she laid there quietly so I stroked her and talked to her. All of a sudden she stood up and laid an egg in my lap! That was a turning point in my life. I had started my transformation into a country girl.

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