Homestead Update


Just as we have the changing of seasons to signal new weather patterns, we also have seasons in our life’s journey. Snow has fallen in our neck of the woods, but currently we’ve made a return to autumn and the snow has all melted. The outside work is coming to an end and we’ll have more time to rest and relax by the fire. Despite all the hard work we did to make this new house our home, it was a blessed year of rest for me and Craig.


Our son has been living in a group home for about a year and a half. He has continued to have up’s and down’s while he’s been there, but we have seen progress, at times, in his ability to regulate his emotions, and in his maturity. And because we haven’t had to handle the day to day issues of school, chores, and other stressors that arise, we’ve made it our goal to focus on having a relationship with him. He comes home frequently and we try to do fun things together as a family and, for the most part, we do enjoy our time together. It hasn’t been easy to watch him go through hard things at such a distance, but it’s allowed Craig and I time to rest, recover, and heal so we can focus on letting our son know he is loved.


We’ve been in our new home, JulBud Ranch, for almost a year now. We’ve just about come full circle with the seasons as it started snowing right after we moved in last November. We didn’t have a chance to do much outside and we both got restless because we were so looking forward to getting to know every inch of our land. So we busied ourselves indoors. We deep cleaned everything we could, and painted our bedroom and bathroom. I planned and re-planned our garden, and Craig worked on organizing the garage and making minor repairs to the house. We got new carpet installed, rearranged our furniture, had a happy Christmas with family, and in February celebrated our sons sweet 16 and we got a new puppy. I also finished writing The Fire Within The Cult and started growing plants for our garden indoors

Finally spring arrived, but it was very wet which delayed some of our outdoor plans, but not all of them. Craig started working on our Chicken coop. We decided where our garden was going to go and Craig used the tractor to dig up all the grass before we installed the fencing. When it was warm enough, we started to figure out the complex sprinkler system. Craig ended up with Pneumonia and had to take it easy for a few weeks, which was not easy for him to do with the nice weather.


Pepper Potts went to puppy school and graduated with flying colors. We trimmed trees, raked leaves, cleaned the irrigation ditch that runs along two sides of our property, and because we live in unincorporated Huntsville, we have one month in the spring and one in the fall where we are allowed to burn our yard waste. I spent a lot of time enjoying that chore. It was actually my main motivation to keep trimming trees!


I attempted to grow peas, lettuce, spinach, beets and carrots but it was such a soggy spring, half the plants didn’t grow at all, and the other half didn’t start growing until the end of June. I also decided to start making our bread from scratch instead of buying it from the store. This led me to also start making English Muffins from scratch and attempting crackers as well at Craig’s request. The crackers still aren’t turning out very good, but he eats them anyway.


In the summer we took the dogs to the lakes near us, neither of them like swimming, so the trips were pretty short. Craig continued working on the chicken coop, and I tried to keep the plants in the garden growing. It was a new experience having our last frost date be in June!

Craig dug up a small area in the field and planted corn and pumpkins, partly as an experiment, and party to distract the deer away from our garden. It worked!



I discovered three of the trees on our property were growing cherry plums, but made this discovery after realizing yellow jackets were feasting on them as well. I harvested what I could and made several jars of tart, cherry plum jam and then decided I wanted to start canning a lot of things and invested in a pressure canner. Soon after the canner arrived I made my first batch of beef broth, and then chicken broth, with which I made and canned a very spicy chicken noodle soup, which wasn’t intentional.


Craig laid out the irrigation pipe we bought from the previous owner and spent a lot of time fixing sprinkler heads, and unclogging the lines, and figuring out how to make the process better and smoother. We also found out our roof needed to be replaced, which was an unexpected expense for us this year, but we’re glad it’s over and done with now.

Courtnie and I also finished the final edits for our book and started preparations for its release to the world. In August, Craig finished the chicken coop, and right before my birthday we brought four baby chickens home. They stayed in a brooder in the house for several weeks, and in that time, the chicken coop had an accident while being moved and had to be repaired.

In September, Craig and I made a list of all the things that needed to get done before the snow started to fall. There were only 36 items on the list, with the addition of four or five more as we started in on it. We got most of them done before the first snow fall.


And now, as the days get shorter and nights colder, I’m attempting to grow a few vegetable plants indoors to help keep the winter blues away and to help me learn a couple things. One, how to hand pollinate. Two, how to save seeds.


As we close the year, we are facing some unknowns about what next year will bring for our family, but we are confident that no matter what we face, God is always with us and will equip us with whatever season we’ll face next in our journey.



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