City Girl, Country Woman ~ Living the Homesteading Dream

I grew up as a city girl, but I always longed for the country. My mother was a city girl who married my father, a country boy, and I’m an equal mix of them both.

Childhood Memories
Aerial View of My Grandparents’ Farm

My Dad grew up on a farm in northeast Kansas and I was always fascinated when we visited his parents at his boyhood home. They had a beautiful farmhouse, which seemed enormous to me as a child. It was surrounded by cornfields, and there were usually some animals, although they varied over the years. At times they had chickens, pigs, or cows, and there was usually at least one dog and some skittish cats. Trying to lure and catch them would keep my sister and I entertained for the better part of our visit.

I was always enthralled by the animals. I remember once when I was very young, for some reason I ventured into the muddy pig lot. I guess I wanted to pet them, but the mud was so deep that I sunk up to my thighs and I couldn’t get out. As the pigs ran frenzied circles around me, my Grandpa ran to my rescue. My mother was hysterical, fearing for my safety. I didn’t understand what the fuss was about, or why the pigs didn’t want to be petted.

My Grandma had a vegetable garden beside her house, and if we were visiting at the right time I got to tag along as she did some harvesting. It seemed like such a treat to eat foods raised right there on their farm. They really did seem to taste better.

Homesteading Dream

Those are some of the childhood memories I had of country life, and I wanted to experience more of it. My husband is kind of a mix, too. He grew up on his parents’ farm where they raised cows. Shortly after he graduated college he left for Houston and that’s where we met. He couldn’t wait to leave the farm and go to a big city, but after we married and started our family, we started to dream together about living in the country and being more self-sufficient.

My Green Thumb Sprouts
Homegrown Lettuces

My family moved around a lot while I was growing up. Scott and I have also moved quite a bit during our marriage, but it seemed each time it was to a house with a little more land, and a little further out of town. When our kids were young I kept busy with them, but I started dabbling with gardening in containers. I don’t remember being all that successful, but, hey, even a little bit of lettuce can be pretty exciting!

A Garden of My Own
Basket of Goodies from the Garden

When we made our big move to “the middle of nowhere” in southwest Missouri, that’s when my green thumb really grew. Scott helped me make some raised beds because we live on a hilltop with rocky soil. He even built a fence to protect it from marauding critters. I love spending time in there. It’s so peaceful. I have a bluebird house that my dad made mounted on one of the fence posts, and bluebirds flit in and out while I’m working. What could be better than keeping company with the Bluebirds of Happiness?! I like the smell of the dirt. I love seeing my seeds sprout and grow into (hopefully) fruitful plants.

A Melon Growing in the Garden

Harvesting the produce makes me feel thankful for God’s provision, and I marvel at His creativity. I think of it as my own little church because I do a lot of praying and singing out there.

The Orchard
Apples!

Over the years we’ve gradually planted our orchard. At the moment we have two peach trees, four apple trees, two pear trees, four cherry trees, and three blueberry bushes. It’s so exciting when they start blossoming and bearing fruit.

It’s challenging to protect them from insects and diseases organically, but I keep trying and learning. For nine years now I’ve grown more and more plants, and increased my experience with organic gardening.

God Provides
A Basket of Foraged Gooseberries

In addition to the plants I cultivate and nurture, I enjoy foraging on our 200+ acre farm. I collect raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, huckleberries, and mushrooms. Occasionally, we’ll get something like persimmons, pawpaws, or possum grapes. I feel gleeful like a kid when I’m able to prepare a meal with foods that we’ve raised and foraged ourselves. It’s a great feeling to be self-sufficient in that way. I’m overwhelmed at how much God provides for us.

Morel Mushrooms
Animal Tales

One of my ideas about country life is that you can have as many animals as you want, so we’ve also had fun raising an assortment of animals. We used to have a dog named Hattie, and she once had a litter of thirteen puppies. It seems like we also had a litter of kittens around the same time.

I’ve loved seeing my kids with all the kittens and puppies, chicks and rabbits. What child doesn’t like animals?!

When we first moved up here our daughter, Margaret, had a couple of rabbits. They actually rode in the back of the suburban with a cat (separate carriers) on the trip from Texas to Missouri. She raised several litters of baby rabbits before tiring of it.

Scott and his father built a nice chicken house soon after we moved here. I was so anxious to have our own fresh eggs. We enjoyed the chickens, and it wasn’t long before we added turkeys, ducks, geese and guineas.

Scott and Piglet

My husband and a neighbor worked together to raise some pigs for a few years. I wasn’t very involved in the caregiving, but I appreciated the pork in the freezer.

Mammoth Donkeys

For awhile we had horses, mules, and mammoth donkeys. I made the hard decision last year to give them up. Our daughter was leaving home, and my husband didn’t really share that interest with me. As much as I enjoyed them, it was time to go a different direction. Those are cherished memories, though, and I’m so grateful that I got to experience them. I’ve never taken more selfies than I did with those donkeys. They made me laugh.

Gypsy

Of course, I loved my horse, Gypsy, too. She was sweet and beautiful, and I learned a lot from her. In giving them up, I needed to feel like I had done everything possible to find them good homes. I prayed about it, and it took awhile, but God provided.

Many years ago we visited some friends in Seattle. While shopping there I bought this beautiful painting by artist Sarah Clementson Yeager. I had it framed and it has always hung where I could see it in the dining room – every dining room we’ve had since then. Although I didn’t think of it as a goal, I think it was kind of my dream in art form. I wanted the elements in that picture – the apple tree, the beautiful country setting, the cats and chickens peacefully co-habitating, even the table and chairs in the shade of a tree. I realized that I’ve attained that dream. There’s nothing I like more than looking over my shoulder out the patio door to see a mix of dogs, cats, and poultry, as well as our young cherry trees. Or some goofy guineas peeking in the window.

Goofy Guineas Peeking in the Back Door

I’m so grateful to God and my husband for this beautiful country life!

This post has been shared on some of my favorite blog hops.

 

City Girl, Country Woman

Solitude ~ A Simple Pleasure

We all need some solitude. Time to think our own thoughts and dream our own dreams. Sometimes it can be hard to get away, especially if you live in the city. I love being able to take a walk on our farm to enjoy nature and get some exercise. Our dogs usually keep me company and run here and there following scent trails or something they saw or heard. I can take a long walk on our country road and usually not see another person or car. That means I can sing out loud and look my absolute worst. LOL! Inspired by the natural beauty, I usually sing hymns and spend time in prayer. It’s a good time to think of loved ones who need lifting up, as well as unloading my own worries to the only One who can do anything about them.

A Fork In The Road
Solitude: A fork in the road - which way should I go?
Which way should I go?

Sometimes we have big decisions to ponder and pray about. Sometimes, there’s just literally a fork in the road. This is on our private driveway down to the farm. I love walking through this natural tunnel. There’s a small creek running along side it, and sometimes I can enjoy the sound of water trickling down it.

I never know what I’ll discover on my walks and every day is different. Sometimes there are wildflowers or berries. Sometimes mushrooms. There are always rocks and lots of tall trees.

Solitude ~ Rocky Bluffs
Rocky Bluff and Creek Bed

Have I told you that green is my favorite color? I love all of this greenery. I even love moss.

Solitude ~ Mike's Creek
Mike’s Creek

Since our house is on a hill it’s not beside the creek, but it’s a short walk down to it and a delightful destination. The water is crystal clear and always really chilly so it’s pretty exhilarating even just to stick my toes in. (You could stick your toes in some ice water to feel like you’re here with me.) It’s fun to look for arrowheads or interesting rocks. Occasionally, we’ll have an impromptu cook-out and build a small fire on the gravel and cook some hotdogs or bratwurst. I’m so happy to have access to all of this natural beauty.

Solitude ~ Dogs Enjoying the Creek
Libby and Daisy cooling off in the chilly water of Mike’s Creek

Now for the bad news. Are you ready? The walk back home is all uphill!

I hope you enjoyed our walk on the farm! Where do you like to go for a little solitude?

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Oak Hill Homestead
More Simple Pleasures

Open Windows
The Clothesline

Little Birds Told Me – How God Gave Me a Sign

My husband is from northwest Arkansas and from the beginning I’ve loved the natural beauty of the Ozarks with its rolling hills, clear streams, rocky bluffs, and hardwood forests. Every time we visited I asked my him if we could move there, but I guess the time just wasn’t right.

Soon after our son was born, Scott’s parents bought a farm in southwest Missouri, and on our ensuing visit they took us to see it.

Hayden in Mike's Creek by Mid-Life Blogger
Hayden in Mike’s Creek

One of my favorite photos is from that visit and is of our then nine-month-old son, Hayden, in the chilly spring water of Mike’s Creek during a family cookout. As part of our introduction to the area, Scott’s parents gave us a tour. I remember driving past a house that set out on a knoll at the end of a long, mysterious driveway. Partially obscured by humongous oak and walnut trees, it looked like something from a fairy tale, and I thought it looked like a nice place to live.

My Request

Fast forward about twelve years. Our circumstances had changed and we were considering moving to the “middle of nowhere” in southwest Missouri, onto that farm Scott’s parents had purchased years earlier. I was excited about the idea, but it would also be a big change so I wanted God’s blessing. I prayed and asked Him to give me a sign. In debating what that sign should be, I settled on asking for a blue bird of any kind. At the time we lived on the Texas coast, and we really didn’t have many blue birds, at least not like up in the Ozarks. I was trying to think of something that would stand out to me as something special.

His Answer

Around that time Scott’s parents bought another farm in the same area as the first and Scott was anxious to see it so we made a spontaneous trip up north. The whole family was walking around, checking everything out on the new property. There was a huge horse barn and the doors at both ends were open, so alone I walked all the way through to the other end and stood in the doorway looking at the edge of the woods. There was a bunch of chattering in the trees, and all of a sudden I realized that they were filled with blue jays. I didn’t remember ever seeing that many blue jays together before. I really felt like it was God answering my request for the sign of a blue bird, and with an exclamation point! It made me happy to feel like God had given us His blessing. Not only that, but through a turn of events, the house that I had admired on our first visit became our new home. I had not asked for it, it was like a surprise gift.

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!  -Matthew 7:11 

Have you ever asked for a sign? What good gifts are you thankful for today? If there’s something you’d like to share, I’d love to read about it!

 

Let’s Go Flea Marketing!

Who wants to go with me? Flea marketing knows no bounds when it comes to age or gender. Since they are typically made up of many vendors with different niches, everyone can find something to suit their interests. Just the other day I saw a young man of about ten shopping with his grandpa, oohing and aahing over vintage toys. I’ve also seen three generations of family members strolling the walkways and sharing memories that were recalled by things they encountered.

Timeless Treasures

Filled to their brims with timeless treasures just waiting to be discovered, flea markets are never boring. It’s like walking back through time and revisiting grandma’s house, or other comforting memories.

Save Money
Let's Go Flea Marketing! Depression Glass at a Flea Market
Depression-era Fire King dishes

You can save money by shopping flea markets to furnish your home. If you need furniture, dishes, pictures, or textiles, they can all be found there. I find it fun to hunt for things I need. If you buy something new, it typically loses value, but with vintage items it’s possible for them to increase in value over time. Some older things were made better to begin with.

Save money by buying books at a flea market
Save Money on Books at a Flea Market
Collecting

Whether salt and pepper shakers, antique fishing lures, or depression glass, lots of people enjoy collecting something that “speaks” to them. Some things I’m drawn to are pitchers, vases, depression glass (clear or green), lamps, and kitchenware. I prefer things that are actually useable.

McCoy Pottery - Let's Go Flea Marketing!
McCoy Pottery
Antique Fishing Lures
Antique Fishing Lures
Vignettes

I have a little booth myself, but I’m fairly new at it and still learning. I study other booths that appeal to me, trying to analyze why so I can improve on my own. I have a Pinterest board called “Vignettes” where I save pictures of attractive groupings that I can refer to for ideas. It’s just another little hobby that I have.

A Fun and Unique Idea for Christmas

One year my family decided to do something different for Christmas and shop for each other at flea markets and garage sales. It was a real hoot! As we opened our gifts we’d brag about how little we paid for them. We definitely spent less that year and had a lot of laughs.

All of these pictures were taken at Bella Vista Flea Market in Bella Vista, Arkansas.

Do you enjoy flea marketing, too? What are your favorite things to hunt for?

Helpful Links:

Bella Vista Flea Market Facebook Page

My “Vignettes” Pinterest Board

Let's Go Flea Marketing! By Mid-Life Blogger
Let’s Go Flea Marketing!

Be Still ~ God Provides Spiritual Rest

Occasionally we lose electricity for no apparent reason. I’m sure there is one, we just never find out what it is. That happened one day this past May.

Power Outage

It was a beautiful Spring afternoon and the electricity suddenly went out. These occasions are a stark reminder of how dependent I’ve become on electricity. The only thing I could think of to do housework-wise was sweep, so I did that, but just about everything else was dependent on electricity. We have a well, so without electricity we have no water, either. So no laundry, no vacuuming, no cleaning. Okay, well now I’m thinking I could have dusted, but that day I decided not to overheat my brain trying to think of housework I could do and to instead take the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful afternoon. I made a cold drink, grabbed some gardening magazines, and went to sit at a table in my front yard in the shade of a huge oak tree.

Be Still Garden Seat
Invitation to Just Be Still
A Taste of Heaven

The soft breeze made the flowers nod and surround me with their sweet scents. Sitting beside the hummingbird feeder, I got to enjoy the whirring of hummingbird wings as they flitted around, visiting the feeder, nearby flowers, and defended their territory. Other birds sang from surrounding trees. To say it was delightful would be an understatement.

Be Still by Mid-Life Blogger
Queen Anne’s Lace

I spend as much time as I can in my front yard garden, planting and tending flowering plants, but I hardly let myself enjoy it. Oh, I try. I sit on my front porch fully intending to relax and take it all in, but it doesn’t take long before my eyes see faded flowers that need to be deadheaded or weeds that need to be pulled, so I either have to get to work or go back in the house. This particular afternoon was like a gift, like God was telling me to just “be still” and know that He is God.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”  Psalm 46:10 NIV

God Provides

I can’t be outside in this beautiful country and not be aware of how God provides for me, both for practical needs such as food and shelter, but also spiritual needs such as peace and relaxation. Sometimes I wonder what heaven is like. Scripture speaks of pearly gates and golden streets, but I hope He also has beautiful trees, gardens, and birds. Gardens were His idea, afterall.

Country life is simpler, and being further from city services we sometimes go without power, water, or travel for longer periods than city folk. It can be an inconvenience, but it can also be an opportunity to just Be Still.

Related Reading

A Gentle Breeze

Seek and Ye Shall Find

Open Windows ~ A Simple Pleasure

Open windows are another simple pleasure. Normally, I only get to enjoy them in Spring and Fall when the weather is pleasant, but right now our air conditioning is out and it looks like it may be awhile until we can get a new system installed, so even though it’s mid-July and steamy, we have our windows (and doors) open, trying to keep our home as comfy as possible. (I’m also making use of another simple pleasure, the clothesline to keep my dryer from heating up the house further.)

Night Air

I especially like sleeping with fresh night air. It seems more oxygen-rich, and the mixed symphony of locusts, tree frogs, whippoorwills, and who-knows-what-else, lulls me to sleep. I don’t usually get to sleep with the windows open because my husband is more sensitive to sounds and light than I am, so I’m trying to enjoy this rare treat. Focusing on this glass-half-full part helps me deal with the I’m-hot-and-sweaty part. In doing a quick search, I found the following research that supports my own feelings: The Effects of Bedroom Air Quality on Sleep and Next-Day Performance. It’s conclusion states that the lower carbon dioxide levels of fresh air are more conducive to a good night’s sleep, and that next-day performance is better. It seems to me that if the carbon dioxide was lower that the oxygen would be higher, but I’m not a scientist. I just know I sleep better.

Home Freshening

Have you ever been gone from home a little while and when you return and walk in the door you become acutely aware that your home has a stale, musty odor? (I know you have, LOL) Out with the old and in with the new. Open the windows and invite in the fresh air!

Special Circumstances

There are times, such as mine now, that it’s nice to be able to open the windows. In past times homes were designed to take advantage of cross-breezes for cooling but with air conditioning becoming so widespread we’ve become dependent on it. Our home really wasn’t designed with cross-breezes in mind. We have plans to do some remodeling, and at least my plans, include some new doors and windows. We need some that are easier to open for when we lose our air conditioning for one reason or another and need fall back on the old ways.

Memories

I remember being about five and waking up to the sound and smell of my dad mowing the lawn first thing on a summer morning. Another fond memory I have is of spending the night at my grandparents’ farm during the summer and sleeping in one of the upstairs bedrooms with the window open for the cool air. Both of those experiences are anchored in my memory because of an open window.

Plan Ahead

If you’re thinking of building a new home or remodeling you might want to think about natural circulation and plan types and placement of windows accordingly. Whether you just want to enjoy this simple pleasure, or have the occasion to actually need it, you’ll be glad you did.

Do you have any memories involving open windows?

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The Clothesline ~ A Simple Pleasure

Country life is full of simple pleasures. Things that often go unnoticed, or seem mundane to some. Hanging laundry on the clothesline is one of my simple pleasures.

Valentine’s Day Gift

The first Valentine’s Day after we moved to our farm, I asked my husband for a clothesline. Checking Craig’s List, he found someone a few hours away that made and sold them, so one afternoon we made the drive down back roads that wound through small towns and hamlets (which is another simple pleasure). They were very sturdy and well-made, just what I wanted. Back at home, my husband set them in concrete and stretched the lines between them. I took on the task of painting them and I chose a shade of green (my favorite color) so that they would blend with the grass and trees. My mother-in-law made me a clothes pin bag, reusing a frame and fabric remnant that she had on hand.

Kitchen Towels
Kitchen Towels Fluttering in the Breeze
What I Love About It

I love seeing the laundry gently swaying in the breeze, and knowing that the sunlight naturally kills bacteria while imparting a wonderful fragrance that you can only get outdoors. While reaching to pin or unpin I’m getting a dose of fresh air and sunshine, as well as some good stretching. I’m often serenaded by birds in the nearby trees, and I enjoy the cacophony of our geese, ducks, guineas, chickens, and turkeys. Occasionally one of our dogs or cats appears to keep me company. My favorite thing to line-dry is bedding. I’ve been hanging out every layer from the mattress pad to the bedspread, so I’m already looking forward to climbing into bed tonight. Sometimes while driving I’ll see a clothesline full of fluttering textiles and have a sudden urge to go home and do laundry.

A Funny Comment

Once we had a few men doing masonry work near the clothesline and I was doing laundry that day. When I went out to retrieve it one of the men said, “We sure are enjoying the smell of your laundry drying.” Wow! Would you ever think you’d hear a man say something like that?! He went on to say that he sure wished his wife would hang their laundry on a clothesline. His comments were so unexpected that I still chuckle when I remember them. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one that appreciates this simple pleasure.

Note: Regarding sunlight killing bacteria, I found an article by a scientist/mother done on this exact subject here.

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