A Season of Change

We’re in a season of change here on the farm….so many things are happening it’s hard to keep up!

Our addition to the farmhouse is almost done…just a few little things left to do here and there…it’s been a long road.IMG_20160522_173853214_HDR

We started this last October and hope to be completely finished before the end of this month.  The weather certainly worked against us…rain, rain and more rain.  The wettest winter in the last 17 years! I felt so sorry for our builder as he tried to keep moving in such awful weather.

My mama has moved in with us and is trying to get settled into her space.  Just last week, we began moving up from the basement (where we have lived for 17 years!) into the new addition.

Space! Space! Oh! The glorious space! To go from a living space of 15 x 14 (that included living room, dining room and kitchen!) to a large great room and spacious kitchen is amazing. On Memorial Day, my whole family gathered, along with friends, and sat comfortably at the same table! We had to mix and match chairs but it was wonderful. There was room for all the adults to relax, room for grandbabies to run around and the kitchen…glorious!

IMG_20160530_162832164My “baby” turned 18 this spring…and stands over 6 feet tall! He is an amazing young man, kind, compassionate, tender-hearted, fiercely loyal, hard working with a great sense of humor – he’s just fun to be around and I really enjoy my time with him!

And because of the above, my homeschooling career of 28 years has now officially ended!  My youngest has graduated from home school high school!  He graduated with a 4.0 average and completed many dual enrollment classes – he now has quite a bit of college credit under his belt!

I collected books and curriculum for  28 years and if I had the room I would have kept a good bit of it. However, I decided to offer it to our local home school community for free. We filled 7 book shelves floor to ceiling, several tables and had quite a few other shelving units and boxes filled with books, educational toys, games, manipulatives and more.  We advertised, opened our doors and I am thrilled to say when it was all over not one single thing was left…not.a.single.thing! I was so happy that they did not end up in a thrift store or garbage bag…it brings me joy to know that those things will be used to teach another generation!

It’s been a bittersweet spring…although I will miss teaching my kids, I am enjoying teaching others how to live simple healthy lives using herbs and essential oils! I love teaching and am so thankful that I have the ability to share what I’ve learned over the last 35 years with people who desire to live a healthier life with “Simple Solutions”!

While change has been happening in our personal lives, we’ve had change happening in other areas too! Our essential oil business is growing so rapidly I can hardly keep up! We are converting the walk out basement (our previous living space) into a classroom for teaching about essential oils,  herbal medicine, soap making, canning, gardening and more! It’s going to be wonderful when we finish getting it ready! I will be able to be at “work” yet just be a few steps away if my mama needs me.

We were also hoping, by this time, to have some changes done to our store front on line and this blog. We ran into a few bumps along the way and had to take a detour but I think we are back on track now and hopefully before long, you’ll be seeing a “whole new me”! We’ll open with fanfare, contests and give aways!

I have one more bit of very exciting news! We will be adding a new member to our family!

Meet Mira….she’ll be joining us the last day of June….don’t those eyes just melt your heart? She’s four weeks old and I’m trying to prepare myself for puppy potty training once more 😉

13339642_1018794974822417_7603442179475392055_nBlessings!

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Snow!!

So…we were supposed to get a couple of inches of snow.  However, the storm forgot to quit when it was supposed to and we got almost a foot of snow. This is not supposed to happen here in beautiful Tennessee.  We live in the south for goodness sakes!

It is beautiful coming down but it certainly messes with a construction site.

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And the animals!

The cows and goats kept to the barn – they don’t like rain and certainly didn’t like the snow.  It is probably the first time the goats had ever seen it and I would have to say they were terrified not impressed.

The chickens wanted to head south.  In fact, we caught Mr. Roo trying to steal the Farmer’s gator the next morning. We believe he was planning to take his favorite ladies and head for the beach!  Good thing the Farmer doesn’t leave the keys in the ignition!

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The Farmer kept us warm with this wonderful invention – our home has never been this toasty! I’m so glad he brought it with him from his little mountain cabin!

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Me? I kept the bar-b-q going! Rain? Storm? Blizzard? When it comes to bar-b-q nothing stops us down here in the south…it’s just how we roll here in Tennessee. Those organic, grass-fed burgers from our homestead tasted great!

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And the morning after the storm?  Breathtaking!

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That morning the farmer and I cautiously headed for the mountains to celebrate our anniversary!  On the way out, I saw the icicles hanging off of Miss Blue…they sparkled like diamonds!

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How did y’all survive the “blizzard of 16”? Our prayer is that everyone came through safe and sound!

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I’ve lived in a basement for 17 years!

Surprised?  It’s true…for the last 17 years our living room, dining room and kitchen have been in a basement.  A basement with just one small window…can we say depressing? When we purchased the farm, I found a set of plans rolled up on the kitchen counter.  It was a lovely plan.  IMG_20160106_102155405There’s just one problem….they built the 2 story portion but never built the ranch portion.  I’ve heard “tales” about why…job change, military transfer, property was foreclosed on…I don’t know if we will ever know the truth.

The two story section contains the bedrooms upstairs and downstairs is a large room, a very small room, a utility closet, a small bathroom and small laundry room. The plans show the large room as a game room with a wet bar.

The small room has served many purposes over the last 17 years.  When I was homeschooling three boys at the same time, it was our homeschooling room, it has also been a study and an office.

The large room, with one tiny window, has always been the living room, dining room and kitchen. Seriously.  Can some of you relate? (Hi Lynn in ND!)

The entire space is 20 feet by 19 feet.  This is where I raised 4 boys, cooked, entertained company, and held classes for soap making and herbal medicine.

Essentially, I have my dining room table, that seats 12, in the middle of my kitchen floor. There is a 2 foot path around it when no one is sitting at the table.  Our living room floor space consists of about 7 x 9 feet.  When our entire family is here for dinner, which is fairly often,  there are 14 people needing a place to sit.  Now there are grandchildren needing floor space! Crowded doesn’t even begin to describe it.

However, we’ve never let it stop us from getting together  or having friends over!  We shove furniture this way and that, set up folding chairs, add a table into the living room so we can all sit together…whatever it takes. We have had huge gatherings here – 42 people one time…people sat on laps, sat on the stairs going up and stood against the wall – and we had a lot of fun despite the size!IMG_20141220_175558462Here we are at Hanukkah last year, I am leaning against the kitchen counter shooting across all three “rooms”…just a wee bit crowded for 14 people don’t you think? There isn’t a coat closet so anything people bring over goes on the floor behind the green chair on the right.  That’s where the door leading out of the basement is so it’s easy to drop your stuff and come in.

I’ve been grateful for this space and we’ve made it work for all these years…but…things are about to change!

Last summer my mama had a bad fall…there have been many falls leading up to this one but this time she fell backwards down some stairs and landed on cement.  Thankfully, she didn’t break anything but we both realized that she needed a little more help than I could give her living across the road from each other.

So, the Farmer and I began planning on how to move my mama into our home.  Mama can’t do steps anymore and our home is on three levels. The middle level is where the ranch should have been started but it is just a 7 foot wide hallway.

The Farmer began drawing up some plans. He has some experience with this.  Me?  Not so much. We were planning on adding a bedroom and bath for my mama. Then the Farmer pointed out that she would still be excluded from the living area in the basement because she couldn’t get down the stairs. He didn’t find that acceptable so he began re-figuring the plans.

By the time he was done, we had a nice family room, a dream kitchen and a master suite for my mama which includes a sitting room! Be still my heart!  Did you notice that part about a dream kitchen? He has spent over a year watching me work around that giant table in the middle of my kitchen, he noticed how hard it was to have more than one person in the kitchen, he noticed the lack of cabinets and drawers and he even noticed that it was a galley style kitchen but with only one side – this requires lots of walking back and forth.  What man gets that?

Mine does 🙂

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He drew out the most beautiful kitchen with wide walk ways and a huge island in the middle. A huge window over the sink that looks out on our mountain, windows on the side walls, storage galore and a divine layout that will make moving around the kitchen a pleasure.

Then he added a surprise…something I’ve dreamed of for 25 years!  I’ll share more about her when I can put her picture up!

Blessings!

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2016 The Year of Adventure!

2016 looks to be packed with adventure! There is so much happening on our farm and in our lives, I don’t know where to begin! Here are some of the adventures that are on our horizon…

In just a few weeks, we celebrate our first wedding anniversary! We are making some plans for that special day and we are so very grateful to our Father for bringing us together!

I’m looking forward to making my end goal with my weight loss program.  When I am done this year, I will have lost half of me 🙂  I’m close to my goal and hope to be there sometime this summer! For those of you who have asked, I’ve been using the Trim Healthy Mama plan along with a blend of essential oils that curbs my appetite and supports my health!

The hole in the ground is beginning to look like this…

IMG_20151211_172036290_HDR With all of the rain we’ve had here the last few weeks, I expect to look out and see a moat around the addition! This week, we expect a roof to go on…pictures coming soon!

The Southern Gentleman and I have been given the opportunity to take a trip to Israel this spring during Sukkot! We are hoping it works out but just the possibility of it makes it hard to sleep some nights! Neither of us have ever been, but the thought of going during one of the Appointed Feasts is exciting!

The garden is expanding! I am very excited about this! The seed catalogs are arriving and already I am itching to get started.  Hard to believe I will be in the greenhouse in just a few months! The Southern Gentleman is keeping it in good order for me! He and Jeremy are busy adding amendments to the new section and mulching with well rotted leaves and straw in anticipation of spring!

IMG_20160103_120742661Notice the evidence of some demolition here on the farm – that seems to be the favorite part for the guys! More on that later…with amazing pics and video!

The Southern Gentleman is working on fence lines with the help of the boys this winter…we are trying to get ready for cows this spring! And, no one enjoys chasing cows who’ve gotten out!

We have goats again!  This spring we will have babies bouncing around the barnyard again! Just think…. goat’s milk…and cheese…and soaps…oh the possibilities!

IMG_20150530_112732301 (1)This was their first day on the farm!  If you could hear them, they would be saying “Who are you? I want to go home and see my mommy!”

They might have come to us just a wee bit barn spoiled!  They seemed to expect to lay around in the barn all day eating grain and hay provided by the servants…hhmmmm…that would be us! We had to lock them out of the barn so they could enjoy sunshine and green grass. We are also working on manners….and are making progress slooowwwly! We are making some changes in the milking parlor so the Southern Gentleman and I aren’t trampled when we feed them!

RFD-TV paid me a visit!  I haven’t watched network TV in almost 4 decades…so I didn’t recognize the name when they called and I thought it was a hoax.  It’s all very exciting and still a bit “hush-hush” but I’ll share as soon as I’m allowed!IMG_20151203_193129461I’ll be speaking at a large health symposium here locally next month!  I’ll be teaching a class on using essential oils to support your health, another on converting your typical medicine cabinet to one with more healthy, natural choices and another on improving your health by making nutrition and lifestyle changes using the plants and herbs our Father gave us!

We’ve had the privilege of sharing with many people how essential oils can help them improve their own health and strengthen how their body functions.  I’ve been teaching for years on herbal remedies… everything from teas to tinctures and now we are finally able to add essential oils to that list!  It is so exciting to watch someone try something new and then find that it really works for them! If you are interested in working to improve your health or your family’s health, please email me and we’ll be happy to help you get started living life more naturally!

My career of homeschooling is coming to an end.  I’ve been homeschooling now for 28 years and I’ve loved it all…wwweeeellll…almost all!  Elijah will graduate from high school on May 14th!  I can’t imagine life without homeschooling…I think I’m an educator by heart! It didn’t matter if I was  homeschooling the kids, teaching others how to make soap or teaching them how to create their own herbal remedies. I just love sharing and teaching! Now I plan to fill  some of that time helping others who want to learn how to take control of their health and live more naturally!

My heart is full of gratitude to my Father….the Giver of all good things!

What’s on your plate for 2016?

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2015 – The Year of Change!

It’s hard to believe that we are at the beginning of another new year!  If I had to give a theme to the year 2015 it would have to be the “year of change”.

So many things changed for me personally in 2015.  I went from a size 18/20 to a size 14! I can’t tell you how thrilling it still is to pass “that” department in a store!

I got married right at the beginning of the year…and it has been a wonderful year!

The Farmer and The Herbalist!

The Farmer and The Herbalist!

We share the same dreams, have the same goals and are passionate about the same things!  We truly have enjoyed this last year and are eagerly looking forward to what this new year will bring!

This happened in the summer of 2015…

I don’t know which is more full, my arms or my heart!  After 35 years of shopping for blue, trucks and “i ji joes”, I finally get to shop in the pink department and I’m reveling in the sweetness of ribbons, bows, and lace and I’m looking forward to baby dolls and tea parties!

My “baby” began his last year of homeschooling the fall of 2015 – and happened to grow a foot along the way.  Now standing at 6 feet tall, his heart belongs to these mountains and woodlands and he spends a great deal of time there.

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And towards the end of 2015, we dug a giant hole in the ground…

IMG_20151022_154331477That hole is slowly being filled up by a space for my mama, who needs a little more care than I can give her living across the road.  We are looking forward to having her under our roof very soon.

Next post?  Let’s talk about some of the adventures we are expecting in 2016…buckle your seatbelts boys and girls…it’s going to be an exciting year!

Blessings,

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He’s Dragging Me Kicking and Screaming….

I’m talking about my social media guru (aka my son Jeremy).  He’s been working here at the farm lately and talking to me about the fact that I’m a social media dinosaur.  I told him I was on Facebook…is there more?

Evidently quite a bit more!  So as he drags me kicking and screaming into this century, you’ll be able to follow me on Twitter here “@thetnfarmgirl” and on Instagram at “thetnfarmgirl”. You can also just click on the buttons at the top of the sidebar…easy peasy!

I hope you’ll join, or follow, or subscribe or whatever the correct term is (bear with me friends….it’s all new to me!). And I’ll try to be diligent to keep you up with pictures and tweets – there is an amazing amount of stuff going on around the farm because the Farmer is busy from sun up to sun down!

If you can’t find me there, let me know and I’ll be glad to let the guru know!

PS:  Thanks Jeremy!

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The Greenhouse Project

The first project The Farmer chose to work on was my greenhouse.

For several years before I met The Farmer, I took care of special needs foster children. The gardens and my greenhouse were sorely neglected.  I’m talking really neglected….like there was a tree growing up in the middle of the greenhouse! Seriously.

IMG_20150322_143736349IMG_20150322_114137695IMG_20150322_151127856The Farmer spent days down there pulling weeds, digging out weeds with a shovel, and hauling them to a burn pile. IMG_20150322_163911253IMG_20150322_160605189You can see one of many pick-up loads of weeds being hauled off to burn!IMG_20150322_143746136

It was back breaking work!  The Farmer didn’t stop till he had it down to a dirt floor – no weeds!  It was a beautiful sight!!IMG_20150325_082229170Then he and Elijah emptied all of the “tables” so we could lay down real greenhouse flooring called “greenhouse ground cover”.

IMG_20150325_105259130I had used landscape cloth from a big box store for years but it didn’t do much to stop the weeds.  Instead, we laid a double layer of greenhouse ground cover. We brought the tables back in as we progressed to hold the ground cover down.  It wasn’t a very breezy day but every little whiff of wind lifted that cloth…it was making us crazy!

We then brought the rest of the tables back in and arranged them so that the work space was more efficient.IMG_20150325_121530448 (1)Then he, Elijah and I worked together replacing the greenhouse plastic on one of the end walls. We made several trips to the store trying to find a staple gun that would work!  We ended up with this one – oh boy did that speed up the process.  Much faster when you don’t have to hammer in each staple after you attempt to use the staple gun.  Pneumatic was the way to go!

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IMG_20150401_161712279 We patched a few holes we found here and there. They removed the old fans that didn’t work anymore and mounted some greenhouse fans to keep the air moving.

Then The Farmer began hauling in wood chips to cover the floor.  This helps to keep weeds from coming up through the floor. He also created a border around the greenhouse filled with wood chips so that I could “pretty” up the area with pots of herbs and flowers.  It will also be a wonderful place to harden off plants before putting them in the garden!IMG_20150412_121444039The Farmer is the hardest working man I’ve ever met.  He had barely finished this project when he planned the next one….

Blessings,

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In with the new (to us)!

The Farmer found this beauty with low hours and a bucket on the front! Tractors aren’t rated by the miles…but by the hours they have been used. This is considered a mid-sized tractor but she is huge to us. This pretty thing was a steal!

But what took my breath away was the cab!

IMG_20150423_135237716_HDRAnd once I stepped inside I got absolutely giddy – look what I found!

IMG_20150423_141643955Know what went through this farmgirl’s mind?  After more than a dozen years on our old Ford, I realized that there would be no more hot sweaty afternoons bush hogging, no more bugs in my mouth, no more freezing afternoons plowing, no more bugs in my hair, no more sunburned skin, no more wind burned lips and so on….and joy filled my heart!

Seriously!  Heat and AIR CONDITIONING!  I remember one summer the boys and I were haying.  I was in my Suburban with the windows down pulling the hay wagon and the boys were tossing 80 lb. bales up on the hay wagon. The temp outside was 102!  Those days are over!

I’m not even going to brag about the cd player ( I. am. not. kidding!)

And to prevent any *ahem* mishaps – this lady is kept under lock and key…and a wee bit of surveillance just to be safe!

And who do you think got to have the first ride in Grandpa’s tractor?

IMG_20150424_110224074Yes… that little grandson who might have stolen The Farmer’s heart!  This little one watched Grandpa work hard to take a huge tree limb down today and when it hit the ground his eyes got huge, he turned to me and whispered “Grandpa can do ANYTHING!”. And I would have to agree with him!

I envision The Farmer getting a whole lot of farm projects done around here with this lovely blue lady!

And speaking of projects…The Farmer tackled a big one – near and dear to my heart!  Stay tuned to find out what The Farmer tackled first around our farm!

Blessings!

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Out with the old…..

When the Farmer married me, this was my farm tractor…

IMG_20150902_001204This old Ford had been a faithful servant for many years…but it met with a very sad ending. Grab some tea and pull up a chair and I’ll share how our faithful friend met her end.

Many years ago, early one morning…really early, my room just lit up. Since I knew the roosters were not equipped with lanterns, I jumped up and looked out the window. A vehicle was parked by the mailboxes, just out of our view, with the headlights shining on the carport. I saw a person walking from our mailboxes to the carport where my tractor was parked.

I called my son and went for the “varmit” rifle. My son and I were pretty sure we recognized this person. If it hadn’t been 4 in the morning, I think I would have had the presence of mind to throw open the window and threaten to shoot them politely ask them to lay down on the ground and enjoy a rest till the sheriff could join us.

Hindsight….sigh…

This person walked around the tractor – stood close to it for a moment or two and then left before my son got downstairs and outside. We checked the tractor and carport once the sun came up but didn’t notice anything obvious. However, a few days later one of my sons was breaking ground to plant a new field when the tractor made a horrible sound, shuddered and stopped.

We called a faithful friend who came to take a look. It didn’t take him long to find out what had happened! The news that made me sad was that our tractor had “thrown a rod”. The news that made me mad was that someone had put sand or dirt into the innards of my tractor and that is what caused it to throw a rod. It made me mad because it could have severely hurt the person who was driving it when it threw the rod.

I remembered that person we saw walking around my tractor in the wee hours and I wondered….We actually had a phone call a week or so later that convinced us that our suspicions were right.

Since I have little to no (emphasis on the NO!) mechanical understanding, “throwing a rod” didn’t sound too bad to me. Oh, what a silly woman I am! I was shocked to find out how much damage had been done to the engine and how much it would cost to fix it.  It wasn’t do-able in my budget and not practical for the age of this old tractor.

So, we towed her to a resting place until we were able to sell her to a salvage yard.

But then the Farmer arrived!  The Farmer has a wee bit of a reputation….he occasionally gets out his white stallion and rides it around the farm… rescuing me!

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The Farmer and The Herbalist – look what we’ve started!

I’ve been using herbal solutions for my family’s needs for over 30 years. (I think I just dated my self!) For the last 16 or 17 years, I’ve been using it on all of our farm critters from the chickens and guineas to the cows and horses and everything in between.  I even use herbal remedies on our bees!

I’ve been making most of it myself for almost 2 decades and I’ve been offering it to you for well over 10 years.  But you were never satisfied! There was one item that I have had requests for on a monthly basis for years and I just didn’t know what to do…where to point you….what I felt was best….

Then I married The Farmer! Not only is he The Farmer, but he also happens to hold several degrees (like a whole wall full!). One of those is as a Naturopathic Doctor, another is as a Master Herbalist and another (definitely one of my favorites!) is as a Licensed Massage Therapist!

He had all the knowledge that I was lacking in this area. He has 35 years of experience in this area…has tried many brands and knew exactly how to point me in the right direction.

I’m not talking about teas, tinctures, or salves . I’m talking about pure therapeutic grade essential oils. I’ve shared for years how we have used specific oils for our needs and those of the animals we steward.  I’ve used essential oils in my homemade cleaning products, for aromatherapy, and more. I’ve used many different brands – some with great effect and some with little to no effect. I found great inconsistencies with different oils even within the same company. This left me reluctant to recommend any particular company because I didn’t have confidence in the quality of the brands I’d tired. The Farmer introduced me to the brand he considered the best. It was one I had never tried. I compared it with essential oils I had on my shelf .  Oh.My.Goodness!  What a difference!

I’ve been using this brand for many months now and am amazed at the results. I’ve tried a majority of the oils they offer and have been very pleased with each and every one and the consistent quality offered by this company! I’m also pleased with how the oils are sourced and grown. And so, after much discussion, and prayerful consideration, we began our first joint project together! We will be offering what we feel are the very best essential oils available on the market today! If you are interested in purchasing essential oils, want to learn how to get them at wholesale prices or even want to work with us….just drop us a line at tnfarmgirl@comcast.net and we’ll respond as quickly as we can!

I’m very excited to finally be able to share with confidence what works for us and our farm critters and hopefully be able to meet the needs of those who have asked me for my recommendations for so very long.

We will continue to share with you how we use essential oils in our home and around the farm and hope you will share your favorites and their uses with us!

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