Sunday, December 04, 2016

Sunday Sermon

We Bought a Farm: Bauernhof Kitsteiner daily videos (VLOG) UPDATED!!!

JB has started a daily video of life on the farm. I've been told this is called a VLOG. We will be doing one of these almost everyday so stay tuned!

May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
August 2015
  • Episode 36 (An animal update: sheep, pigs, ducks, and geese)
  • Episode 37 (New mobile shelter for sheep and pigs)
  • Episode 38 (Feeding fermented grains to the pigs and sheep)
  • Episode 39 (Abigail feeding ducks)
  • Episode 40 (Laying chicks arrive!)
  • Episode 41 (166 new chicken sin our brooder: 101 broiler and 65 egg layers)
September 2015
October 2015
  • Episode 44 (Repairing degraded land using sheep, pigs, and chicken)
  • Episode 45 (Repairing Arrowhead Pond)
November 2015
  • Episode 46 (Making chicken stock)
  • Episode 47 (Our 9 week old Cornish Rock Cross chickens are ready for processing!)
  • Episode 48 (Processing day for the broiler chickens)
  • Episode 49 (The scalder and plucker in action)
  • Episode 50 (Finishing a long day of processing chickens)
  • Episode 51 (An update on, and closer look at, our layer chickens.)
  • Episode 52 (Introducing a ram to our ewes)
  • Episode 53 (Pig update)
  • Episode 54 (Using sheep against brambles)
  • Episode 55 (Our portable pig/sheep shelter)
  • Episode 56 (Pasture improvement with sheep, pigs, and chickens)
December 2015
  • Episode 57 (Introducing 3 new pigs to the farm!)
  • Episode 58 (Combining the geese and ducks into one family)
  • Episode 59 (A video Grampa shot showing the overflow from our pond after a long, hard rain. If we had not fixed the damn wall, we may have lost the pond. The repair was just in time.)
  • Episode 60 (Another video shot by Grampa after a long, hard rain. This video shows our sill working as designed when the volume exceeded the capacity of our main drain.)
  • Episode 61 (Sheep playing follow the leader!)
  • Episode 62 (Flooding of the duck and goose paddock.)
  • Episode 63 (The geese and ducks enjoying the flooded paddock.)
  • Episode 64 (A pond in need of repair. Getting dangerously close to some big problems.)
  • Episode 65 (Quick fix of our pond in danger.)
  • Episode 66 (More water management issues -- A cut back erosion channel in a valley.)
  • Episode 67 (Feeding fermented grains to our sheep and pigs.)
  • Episode 68 (Our birds sleeping after having their wings clipped.)
  • Episode 69 (Dead ducks! Ugh!)
January 2016
February 2016
  • Episode 72 (Checking for eggs at our new EggMobile) 
March 2016
April 2016
  • Episode 77 (Twins! The first lambs born on the farm!)
  • Episode 78 (The first lambs on the farm, enjoying Spring on the first day of life!)
  • Episode 79 (Four geese lost in one night. One goose sitting on a nest.)
  • Episode 80 (Spring lamb update.)
  • Episode 81 (Tree planting preparation.)
  • Episode 82 (Tree planting preparation, Part 2.)
  • Episode 83 (Getting our first tress in the ground!)
  • Episode 84 (Heeling in some of our bare-root trees that we couldn't plan right away.)
May 2016
June 2016
July 2016
August 2016
  • Episode 107 (Moving the Egg Mobile means we need to retrain the flock)
  • Episode 108 (Maximilian Sunflowers popping up all over the farm)
  • Episode 109 (Getting started on our garden ... finally!)
  • Episode 110 (Our mobile livestock shade shelters)
  • Episode 111 (Spiderwebs as a marker of pasture biodiversity and regeneration)
  • Episode 112 (Red-Winged Blackbird chasing a Red-Tailed Hawk)
  • Episode 113 (Our current livestock watering system using 275-gallon IBC totes)
John's Farm/Permaculture Blog Posts
To read all of my past posts about our farm, click here. 

Sunday Sermon

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Saturday Smiles: "Auntie" Bri babysits

My cousin Briana (She is actually my cousin Ryan's wife!) came into town to visit us for the week. Lucky here, the first morning she was here, I had to take Abigail to ballet and she was left in charge -- fresh off the boat! She took a few pictures of Hannah in all her glory!

Here's Hannah hiding in "Hide-n-Seek"

And here she is hiding until she realized that she could see the movie the boys were watching downstairs through the mirror on the wall. So she's hiding but watching a movie at the same time.

And here she is when Auntie Bri told her that she had to sit in the kitchen while she ate. Little Miss Hannah decided she would sit "technically" in the kitchen while "technically" doing it her way at the same time!

And here's a quick pick of Abigail before we left for ballet that morning. She is looking so old and is starting to put together some "stylish" outfits. 

Friday, December 02, 2016

Friday Funnies

When Hannah heard that Sidge got ice cream because he got two teeth taken out, she wanted to get her teeth out too!

I was actually very proud of Hannah for attempting to clean up her room. But where did she put all her stuff? :)


Sidge: "Mom what is a typewriter?" (I am old!)


Hannah: "Daddy, do you remember when you used to have hair?" (Not sure where this came from as she never knew him when he had hair!)

BOI Update

I wanted to let all of my Blog readers know of some developments with Because of Isaac. One of our couples: Chris & Renae had to withdraw form their adoption. Due to a job emergency they were forced to changes states which is a huge issue in adoptions. They have decided to just stop the process for now. We are very sorry to see them have to withdraw, but they have one adopted daughter already and we are blessed that they are finding peace with their little girl.

In addition, Ryan and Briana Huisman, who had raised all their required money for their adoptino through Bethany Christian Services, have decided to change to another agency which costs more. Their agency in Colorado has had very little movement, and after waiting three years, they really can't see that their adoption story is anywhere close to coming to a close. They have thus decided to take their application to another agency that is moving much faster (but is quite a bit more expensive.)

We at BOI have decided to help this amazing couple continue to fundraise. The amount they need seems daunting -- $17,000 -- but we know that God is quite possible.

I ask that you consider a first or additional donation for this amazing couple. They have gone through so much heartache (including finishing "2nd place" in two adoptions that they thought might close this chapter on their story.) They truly just want to be parents, and we truly just want to help make this happen for them. 

We have not updated the BOI page yet, but you can view their profile here.  Please send any donation to: 

Because of Isaac
875 Pilot Mountain Road
Bulls Gap, TN 37711

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Pimp my Christmas card

Christmas cards are a great way to stay in touch with family and friends. They send a personal touch of love in the form of a letter and help you feel close to your loved ones even when they are miles away. I love to receive mine every Christmas and showcase them in my home. It makes it feel like a full house!!

Christmas cards have become very elaborate and expensive over the years. It is certainly not necessary to go over the top when making your Christmas cards. Just a sincere, simple letter or a family photo would do the trick. However, if you'd like to step your card up a notch, this is your blog post!

I'd like to introduce you to my friend Tanya. Tanya is a fellow military wife, an awesome mom of 4 and a gifted photographer. I hope you enjoy her interview and can benefit from her creative wisdom!

1. What makes a good Christmas card? I think a good Christmas card is one that really encompasses who your family is. Now that the trend is to send family photos, I don't think it's as important to get the "perfect" shot as it is to showcase how everyone has changed over the years and how their personalities come through. I admit that I prefer the image that makes us all look our best, but the reality is that's not really us. So embrace the picture where no one is looking at the camera, sitting still, or even crying. Everyone still loves, appreciates (and understands) this phase and those are truly what our memories are made of.

Photo credit: Mandy Davis Photography, Oklahoma City, OK

2. What basic photography tips common people with not much photography knowledge should one have in mind when taking their Christmas picture? Manual mode is really your friend! It gives you complete control over your image instead of trusting the camera to do it all for you. The exposure triangle is a good tool to keep in mind when using this mode. Aperture, shutter speed and ISO work together to give you those amazing shots. I think it is important to get it right in the camera because you waste your time fixing things in post production (editing) that you wouldn't have to do if your shot is the way you wanted to start with.

To get that blurry background that enables us to pinpoint our focus on the subject, you need to either lower your aperture (1.2-4.0/f), or stand back far enough to zoom into your subject. The aperture is like the pupil of your eye. The more you open it up, the more light it lets in, which bring us to shutter speed. If your environment is dark, you've got to get as much light as possible to the camera sensor. Shooting below 1/60 of a second isn't advised because your manual breathing and body movement can make the image blurry. If your camera tells you something less than 1/60 then adjust your ISO! Back in the days of film, 400 speed was the everything film. 800 for action, 1600 for dark. Now digital cameras can go extremely high. (I looked up one that goes 4,000,000!). Mine goes to 25,600 which means it can capture light that my eye can not even see. That also means it's going to be a "grainy" image because the camera fills in for what it can't see.

That's the quick down and dirty for the 3 but experiment with different settings in your camera. If it is too dark or too light keep adjusting to see how the images change. Your light meter is inside your viewfinder and it tells you when you are over or under exposing an image. It's a good place to start when experimenting.

Side note: I like my images a little lighter, so I have my light meter pre-programmed to shoot 2 stops above the center.

3. Are coordinated outfits important? Coordinated outfits are definitely important! You want your friends and family to notice you and your family, not your distracting outfits. You don't have to go out and buy new clothes for pictures either. Just utilize a color wheel. This website is for decorating, but it breaks down why our eyes are drawn to certain colors and depending on the look you want, can help you decide if you want colors that sit next to each other for a harmonious look, or colors opposite for a bolder look.


Overall, you just don't want to wear anything such as loud patterns that's fighting with something like stripes. I prefer the KISS principle when picking something out. Keep it simple. That doesn't mean everyone wears the same color ( as I'm sure you've seen pictures with everyone in white shirts and Khaki pants), but it does mean lay out what to wear with everyone else's clothes to make sure they are cohesive.

Photo credit:  Lisa J. Holloway, Las Vegas, NV

4. What are some posing ideas you recommend trying for a stunning picture? Posing is a loaded question that doesn't have a simple answer. It really depends on how many people are going to be in the photo, what the ages are, if you are in a studio or outside, etc. There are a few important points that will help guide you in the right direction though.

  • Spacing: get everyone in the party to squeeze together. Empty spaces make them look distant and not part of the group.
  • Alignment: all faces shouldn't be at the same level (boring) but if you've got some who are very tall, or very short, try to find a way to balance that out.
  • Mix it up: if two people are the same height, wearing the same color, etc, move them around in the group to make it more visually appealing. Also look at the patterns and utilize them as they can add interest to your imagine.

5. What are some ways in which I can create my own Christmas cards and make them look good without breaking the bank? These days, several websites give you the ability to create your own Christmas cards by picking a design you like and uploading your image. I just saw Snapfish offering 70% off of cards over Thanksgiving weekend (so some designs were as low as .30 a card). There are also several online sites, such as ($5 a month with a coupon and unlimited downloads of their stuff) or (which offered 60% off their stuff over the weekend), that have already created templates for you to download.

6. Where would you recommend ordering "premium"(nicer) Christmas cards from? If you are in the market to splurge a little and go for high end, one place that offers top notch quality work is They offer beautiful designs that are also fully customizable.

Thank you so much, Tanya, for sharing all these wonderful tips with us!

Friends, have fun making your Christmas cards and displaying the ones you receive from family and friends!

Here are some ideas:


                      Until next Thursday...  Stay warm!


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Homeschooling with Hannah

Homeschooling with Hannah.

Big sigh.

Not actually homeschooling Hannah.

But homeschooling the other four children with three-year-old Hannah here.

That is what this post is about. 

I'd spoken previously on the Blog about how to homeschool BIGS with LITTLES.  But with Abigail it was pretty easy. And when Hannah was a baby, it was not so hard. But then Hannah turned two, and it just kept getting harder.

The reasons are numerous, but I'll list a few:
  1. Hannah doesn't nap. All my other kiddos napped until at least 4. She has stopped napping before 3. IF she naps, she is usually in her bed tossing and turning until at least 10pm. No nap has eliminated any afternoon break I had with time to focus on homeschooling or time to just focus on me.
  2. Hannah doesn't have many things she likes to do for more than about 3 minutes. Any activity is very short and not always very sweet. (Our house is not large. Activities must be cleaned up right away to make room for new activities.) The only thing she will do for more than 3 minutes is watch a show. Ipad apps don't impress her. Recently she has started doing puzzles, and a bit of play dough but mostly
  3. Hannah is mischievous. When not watched she can actually get into big trouble by eating things she shouldn't, sticking things up her nose, wandering away to do something dangerous. (My other three kids never did this type of thing.)
So a few weeks I reached out to my Facebook homeschool group. (We are called Homeschool Hugs if you are interested in joining.) I posed my dilemma. And I was presented with some great ideas. I have recently begun implementing them and wanted to share how they are working for me:
  1. Let her watch more than 2 shows a day. I was surprised at how many veteran moms let me off the hook on this one! (Two 30-min shows a day is our house rule.) It isn't ideal, but it is the fact. I need the shows. I need help sometimes if I am going to work with the BIGS on school work. I have realized that years from now I won't regret extra show, but I will regret losing my mind. So I am trying to use more educational shows like:
    • LeapFrog
    • SuperWhy
    • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
    • Bible videos
    • Magic School Bus
    • Odd Squad
  2. Find things she can do to earn her shows. She has gotten on board with this and is doing puzzles to earn another show!
  3. Know that this is a phase. It will pass (way too fast in all actuality.) But for now, do my best.
  4. Continue (and do more) independent work with other three. I am totally doing this. Nearly 90% of the schooling my kids do is stuff they can do without my interference. This is especially true with the boys (2nd grade). Abigail (pre-K) isn't quite there yet.
  5. Many people also suggested day-care and/or preschool. We decided this was not a good fit for us primarily due to our distance from town. (It would take me two hours a day driving to take her to something.)
  6. Ask in-laws and JB to focus on spending time with just Hannah. Try to find time myself to spend just with her as well. She needs more of me, but me is schooling three other kiddos.
  7. Assign the older kids "time with Hannah" as part of their daily school assignments. In our house, we use a daily checklist like the one pictured below. Check it out. I now have Hannah time scheduled in for the other kids to do during their day. (They also have 15 minutes of playing with dog time too.)

What about you? How do you homeschool your bigs with a little in tow?