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Busy Season

Well, I dropped off the face of the earth again, so that must mean it’s our busy season! Starting a new school year, harvesting from the garden, preserving the bounty, and doing my best to maintain a clean house… it all adds up, and it’s quite a challenge!

The month of July was spent preparing for parties, or so it seemed. Independence Day, Rocket Club, Christmas in July (not at our house), and Miss Lady’s Tea Party all happened that month, and in between those events, there was lots of yardwork and party prep! But everything went off without a hitch, and we had perfect weather for it all.

Some care-free, happy young ladies at a tea party. Best part? They got a tractor ride!

August felt like a strange month to me. I’ve probably said it on here before, but I feel like we’ve been living in some kind of time warp. How does time simultaneously go so fast and so slow? We started to harvest a few things in July, but it began to pick up in August. Mostly with the harvest of some peas, then beans, onions, and some carrots. By the end of the month, we were pulling in quite a few tomatoes. However, most of August was spent trying to get our house back in order after having spent the better part of the spring and summer outdoors, and then there were the preparations for another year of homeschooling.

On top of all of that, everyone has had to adapt to the mask mandate situation and what that requires of us, we had Miss Lady’s First Communion, we found out that our priest is moving on to a new location (our temporary priest arrives this week), Peanut turned 10, and we had two other First Communions to attend between July and August.

Miss Lady receives the Holy Eucharist at her First Communion, officiated by Father Tony.

And September! September has been quite busy. Lots of harvesting and canning has happened. I’ve been doing my best to process everything immediately, and I actually managed to keep up with everything. We started school stuff at the end of August, and I’m doing my best to balance that with the things that need to happen right now.

The house situation is the same old, same old. Every time I get caught up in one room, I fall behind in another. I’m outnumbered 6 to 1 most days, and it shows! Lately Cheeks has been giving me a run for my money. He’s very active these days. He’s taken to sitting at the dining room table to eat off his siblings plates as often as possible, and throwing things is apparently a lot of fun. Plus, he’s teething, so there has been a lot of extra time required for consoling him when he can’t express what’s wrong. None of it is bad, but it’s hard to keep up with.

I HAD my sewing room clean, but the kids got in there again and now you wouldn’t know it. The basement is starting to improve, but it’s a painfully slow process. The lab will start to get cleaned up, but then somebody uses it and doesn’t clean up, and it doesn’t get used that often, so… And our bedroom! Just when I start getting caught up on laundry, suddenly I have to focus on something else, and before I know it, there are more laundry baskets in my bedroom again. I’m constantly trying to pare down on stuff, but it’s a challenge because we have a large family, and we do so many different things!

Believe it or not, this picture isn’t staged. I came home from my morning walk to this greeting! 4 kids, sitting on the driveway, watching and waiting for me!

Our oven went out a few weeks ago. We knew something was wrong, but I was hoping it would hold out until canning season is over. The stove was still working, but the oven died. We probably COULD have had it repaired, but it’s one of those things where the better option was to buy a new one. We had been talking about replacing the old range since we moved here, but it was never the right time. Now we have 5 burners, one meant to heat a griddle, all of the ignitors work, and we have flame control on the burners. The oven temperature is more accurate, too.

I haven’t done much fresh cooking from the garden this year… it’s just been too overwhelming to think about. We have been able to put up a good amount of food so far. I think we’ve smashed our previous canning records! I have to have come close to at least tripling the amount of canned food, maybe more. We have tomatoes in the freezer that will get turned into more sauce, and tomatoes on top of the freezer that are still ripening, but our plants died a couple of weeks ago. We have more beans canned than ever before, and the plants are still producing! I had every intention to sell produce this year, but we decided to just focus on putting up as much food as possible.

The peaches have all been picked and canned, save 4 or 5 that the kids want me to turn into fruit leather. I canned some beets and corn, peas, lots of beans, tomato sauce, soups, pears…. We had a sad corn harvest again this year. I never got around to thinning out the corn stalks, and it greatly impacted the results. Lessons learned, right? And I had a pretty pitiful potato harvest, considering how many we planted! I struggled to maintain the potatoes, but again, there were some really good lessons learned there this year.

The pumpkins did really poorly. After starting off great, the flowers just didn’t get pollinated like they should have, so we don’t have enough to have the nieces and nephews over to pick. Only the snowball pumpkins did well, and those still didn’t produce like they ought to have. But we have enough for our needs and then some. We’ll be able to do enough with what we’ve got, and I’m thankful for that.

We might not have gotten many pumpkins, but there is an abundance of beautiful wildflowers this year! We collected every shade imaginable of field asters, and a few other flowers to add in the mix.

Like I said earlier, our school year is started, but it’s a slow start. I’m still planning, but I have been so busy that I didn’t get as far as I had hoped. I’m not used to doing so much harvesting quite so early in the season. (That makes me feel like it’s going to be an early winter for us, but it probably has more to do with the fact that I planted earlier than normal.) I’ve got an outline of things we want to do each month, and even broke it down by weeks through the end of this calendar year. We ordered most of the books we need, and we’ll order a few more at the end of the year. A lot of things I planned to get were out of stock because of the drastic increase in homeschooling this year, but we have enough to tide us over until December or January, so it’s not a huge deal. We came up with a list of goals for each of the kids, so now I just need to work out how we combine the goals with our weekly lists. There is a lot to try an accomplish, and I need to figure out how to balance it all.

Yet, we’re off to a good start. We picked up our normal morning routine again in August. We finished one book on our reading list for the school year, read an unplanned book, and started to read The Hobbit. The plan is to finish that one in the next week or two, and then watch the movies. We also did a unit study on cooking. Part of our study was an edible book contest amongst the kids. We took pictures of all entries, and in the end, Pumpkin won with his WWII tank from a book about D-Day.

A friend of ours is living with us temporarily while he wraps up a project before heading back to his new home out of state. Scott has been lending him a hand on his big project as much as possible, but our friend has returned the favor as well. The guys were able to get the breaks changed on Scott’s car, they’ve been cleaning up and organizing the garage and granary, they installed our new stove, and they took care of a few other random projects as well. He spent the weekend and the first part of this week working on getting our coop fire mess all cleaned up. That was a complete Godsend. I am so grateful that job is almost finished! It looks so different out there!

If you don’t see our yard often, it’s really hard to tell what has all changed here, but at some point in time, I’ll dig up all of the pictures for a good before and after. I just make no promises of when.

The plans we had for the remainder of that building had to change this year, and we ended up pulling the rest of it down. We’re hoping to start from scratch in the springtime. The granary still needs another coat of paint on parts of the building, but I had to wait for harvest season to end, and now I need the weather to be right. And after 3 years of waiting, we finally got insurance figured out from hail damage we had, and the house is *hopefully* getting painted this fall. The house has been pressure-washed, but painting can’t begin until the weather is right, and if it rains too much or gets too cold, it won’t be able to happen until spring. So please, pray for good weather!

The house AFTER pressure washing. Not so pretty, but it’ll be worth it in the end! I’ll share more pictures of the process when it’s all done.

All in all, we’re making steady progress on our goals for the year. Some things weren’t as successful as we were hoping they would be, others were more successful, but we are hoping that by the end of the year, we’ll have checked off most things on our to-do list. There are still some projects we’d like to wrap up outside, but we’re getting there, and honestly, if it has to wait until next spring, it’s not that big of a deal. We’re at least heading in the right direction. There will be more changes coming next year, but not quite in the ways we originally anticipated, so it’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out!

The last five years have been crazy, but we’ve accomplished some pretty amazing things in that time. I’m so glad to be here with my best friend!

How is your year coming along? Have you hit any major goals this year? Leave your comments below!

Love and Blessings~ Danielle

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