farming, marriage

My New Coop


I’ve wanted a homestead farm for years now. I’ve wanted to milk goats, raise chickens, ride my horse, and grow a garden. I wanted to watch out my kitchen window as my kids learned to tumble and fall and get back up. I wanted to raise them with dirt and sunshine and fresh air. I wanted to be able to yell, “Were you born in a barn?” and chuckle, every time they left the door open as they ran back out to the sunshine.

The city was never my home, it’s not where I belong. It cramped me and the noise got in my head. I could never think over the noise. It was overwhelming.

chicksI knew my dear husband was willing to be witness to my dreams come true, and I knew he would work hard to afford the starting of a farm (which is a bit pricey, from our experience). But, I’ll be honest, I assumed I’d do a lot of the heavy lifting on the farm. And that was a price I was willing to pay to have my farm life.

But he has blown me away day in and day out. He’s made friends with the goats, and he built them all sheds. He is the one that said it was the right day to get chicks, and he helped feed and water them. (He’s even mentioned that he misses having them in the dining room.) He’s always loved dogs, so it is no surprise when he stops to tell them each hello.

Not only did he build goat sheds (which will get a post of their own), but he built me the best chicken coop. We looked at ideas online for a week straight. I called him a million times at work…what if we…what if we…what if we…coop2

And he built me a chicken a coop that’s just the best. My chickens love it and it let’s me keep them put up while they are small and will be where they spend their nights when they are big.

But not only did he bring me home a wood and wire structure, he went out of his way to paint it John Deere Green. Some said he should have used red, but it sure looks good to me. And he painted the name I picked for our farm on it. I cried when I saw it, and I’ve cried a few times since, because my husband knows how to love me well, and I am thankful.


farming, marriage, writing

The Budget and The Schedule

If you were to take a wild guess, what do you think the budget & the schedule have in common?

Stress? Maybe…not the answer I was looking for though.

I think the budget & the schedule, if considered together, will clearly reveal our priorities. Where we spend our time and our money shows who or what we value. I’ve been considering this in my own life as I talk about wanting to be a writer, wanting success in business, being a wife, a mother, a friend, a follower of Christ, a horse lover, running a little farm, being a homeschooler, and more.

I looked at my last two weeks of spending – when I had extra cash, when I had extra on the debit card, where was I spending my money? My last two weeks of spending look like farm goodies, farm goodies, farm goodies, and bowling. And a few more farm goodies. Animal feed (so much animal feed). I don’t buy the kids a lot of stuff/toys, and since we’ve moved to the new house, we aren’t eating out very often. School is on the spending list, and I have to watch it, I love books/curriculum and will buy stuff that we will barely (read: never) use.

I looked at my schedule during the same two weeks – what was I filling up the majority of my time with, and what was I using the small chunks of time for? Well, the majority of my time was split between work, farm projects and schooling the two littles. I spend time doing chores and milking Shimmy twice a day. I have been working hard to make sure I am cooking dinners these days instead of grabbing take out all of the time. (Easier to do when take out is so many miles away.) What really got my attention was my small chunks of time – 5 or 10 minutes, here or there. Those windows of time were wasted, gone forever, sucked away by social media – and the worst part is, I’d get my 5 or 10 minute fix, and often find the wind knocked out of my sails. Sometimes, it was because people can be offensive and blasting offense on FB is the norm. Sometimes, it was the ugly voice of comparison that would say “look at what that mom is doing with/for her kids” “look at what that family did together” “look at what that wife and husband did together/for each other” “look at” “look at” “look at” – and my head would spin, and I could go from best day ever status, and crash into “nothing is quite good enough” misery. Often, my 5-10 minute break would turn into 45 minutes – seriously altering how much I could accomplish in a given day.

With the budget, the glaring thing that I realized I was missing was anything that said, “First, I serve God,” in fact, there was no trace of serving God in how my money was spent. None. I about choked on that reality, because it hasn’t always been the case. And I prayed, and I prayed. And I came to the realization, I’d rather die penniless & serve God with everything I have – money, time, talent – and not just lip service, than to live in filthy riches, ignoring Him or His commands for my life. (Not that we live in filthy riches, by the way.)

Together, the budget and the schedule pointed out a few things I can do better for the kids – but I am honestly okay not giving them everything in the world. I want them to work for things, too. I want them to feel accomplished when they’ve worked hard and earned something, and I don’t believe spoiling them does that. I did notice that while my husband and I are together many hours of every day, we don’t do anything intentional for us or our relationship. No date night. No put the kids to bed early and talk night. No devotional together. Things are easy between us right now, but they haven’t always been. I know spending intentional time together helps us stay on the same page. I’d like to see us weather the good, the bad, and the ugly together, with God. My time does reveal at least some service to God – I believe He calls us to home school, and that He called us into the business we are in, to be a light in our community and serve others.

I can’t say my priorities are one thing, and then spend my time and money somewhere else. Or say something is important, only to brush is off to catch the next episode of:______________. I don’t want to offer lip service to my God, who has carried me through more than I can put to words.

I’m going to make small shifts, and I’m going to put my money where my mouth is (well, not literally), and spend my time on what matters. I know it will take focus, and changing small bad habits into good ones. I started with removing social media from my phone to break that time-waster. I’m getting up early to write. I made a shift in the budget. I’m going to talk to Mr. Wonderful about a devotional or bible reading plan on YouVersion. But it’s going to be the long haul that shows the fruit of these changes – not just the first few hours/days.


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Hitting the Nail on the Head

My day started off pleasantly enough – although I was sleepy. I stayed up late Saturday night doing work for the business my husband and I own together. Sleepily, I asked Pa W what time it was, and quickly realized we missed the early church service. Ah, well, we have chores and the next service will do fine.

I was formulating the plans, getting kids wrangled, working through how the morning would progress, when someone mentioned the bowling tournament he wanted to participate in, again. I just nodded and went about preparing for us to all go to church. When it came up again, I laughed and said something about it having already started though, right?

“Not yet…”

Oh well, too bad. See, we are over-budget on the bowling line of the budget, and I am desperately trying to rain in our spending problems. We are like two, immature, selfish kids when it comes to spending money. All the wanting, buying, spending, having to have, STUFFITIS. (Pa W will even point out how I’m doing it with BandB. Psshhh. No, I’m going to feed us with all these animals and their by-products. But he is right, it’s too much, too fast.)

But telling him no is my weakness – I’m supposed to be the CFO of the family, and yet, when he wants to blur the budget lines, I cave. Every. Single. Time.

So he pointed to it on Facebook – the tournament start time, with that smile that makes my heart flip, and I said, “Go. Just go. Take your stuff, go.”

I probably could have stopped at the first “go” as he needed no convincing. He was up and around and disconnecting the trailer and changing clothes in a blur. And my feelings were hurt.

Hurt because he ignored the budget, hurt because he left me to get the kids ready alone, hurt because bowling is more important to him than church, hurt because he didn’t unload the shed for my goats first, hurt because he was gone all day yesterday bowling and believe it or not, I like spending at least a little down time with him.

So, I suck it up, put on my big girl pants, and get the kids gathered and out the door – and they were all mostly presentable, too! (Which is a win, since they all played in the dirt early in the morning.) I’m halfway to church and Pa W calls and tells me that he had the phones switched to me – so now I have 6 kids to get into their correct classes, and church that is important to me, and I have to juggle dispatching too. My mood got worse.

And my thinking spiraled. It’s amazing how critical I can get when things are not going my way. It’s ridiculous the number of status updates I can come up with to get a little dig in – even something simple like a few hashtags (anyone get it? #priorities #singleparentontheweekend #helikeshisbowlingballsmorethanus). That’s not even the worst of it.

Mile by mile for the last few to church, downward spiral of negative thinking. Once we arrive, there is the incredibly long journey from the car to the door, with 6 kids, and my thinking wasn’t going to get better in that mess. I’m a couple of minutes late, worship has started, and I’m almost in tears. Kids make it to their classrooms, and y’all, I seriously thought about heading out the front door to sit in my truck with the phone THAT MIGHT RING ANY STINKIN’ MINUTE.

But I bolstered the last umph I had, and entered the auditorium, phone on silent, seat by the door so I can run out if it buzzes, and I listened to the remaining song. Half-heartedly because I was focused on me and not my Savior. Then, just as the pastor comes up on the screen, the phone buzzes. I make my hasty exit out the back, deal with the call, and get it sent to the appropriate driver.

Go back in, my seat is taken, and that was the last straw. The tears were hot as they spilled down my cheeks, and I took myself out to the lobby area, to a quiet table by myself, with my work phone. But I could hear the message there, and I said a feeble prayer, “Let me hear the word today. Speak to me.”

God is faithful in those moments. I did have to get out-of-the-way mentally, because at first, I thought of a million things about this particular message that Pa W needed to hear. But I kept listening, and Pastor Craig asked us if we were going to live our lives being fault finders or hope dealers. And all those lessons I teach my kids, you know the ones, right?

“Your power lies in the choices you make.”

My power was in choosing to show up when it was hard, choosing to listen when I didn’t want to, and choosing to not be a nagging wife that is hard to live with. We may not share the same weekend priorities, but that doesn’t give me the right to be critical and hard to live with.

If you, like me, struggle with a critical mindset, a critical spirit, I highly recommend you listen to Pastor Craig’s message today, My Big Fat Mouth part 2.

Tell me about a time you were critical and what happened in your situation?