The Most Powerful Woman In America

time coverAs I was standing in line at the grocery store the other day, Time magazine caught my eye.  An attractive woman was on the cover with the line “Don’t hate her because she is successful” and under it was her name and claim that she had “a mission to reboot Feminism”  I guess being the top dog at Facebook gives her that authority.

I am struggling to order my thoughts as I am writing even though I have written this blog in my head a hundred times.  The problem I am having is that this cover stirs up so much in me I can’t decide which dog to turn lose first.  So I think I will just start with the first thought that popped into my head.  Those of you who know me might have just cringed.

Thought # 1– Why does feminism need a reboot?  It seems to being going strong, every day I see angry women raging on the news with their tight lips, unhappy eyes, and scowling faces telling me that I would be happier if I put myself first and through off the out of date ideas that children need a mother and that I need a husband.  (Which I do need him, he is my rock and I am not ashamed to admit that I am happily dependent on him).  I really can’t understand why they think that smart, intelligent women who are happy with their lives of raising their babies, have happy marriages, and are content to be busy making a home would want to trade that kind of contentment for raging, angry tirades.  This particular woman was thought to be a shinning example because she is running facebook, really- what eternal value does facebook have?  I’ll take Mother Teresa any day.

Maybe it is not a reboot that feminism needs it is a revamp- to embrace those traits that are truly feminine.

Thought #2– Where do they get the term “feminism” anyway?  I mean really- to be considered feminine is have certain traits about you.  To be soft ( not weak, picture a fist of steel wrapped in velvet and satin) and kind, to be smart, and attractive (not just in looks, but in your demeanor, people want to be around you), to be dignified and refined, to be fierce- like a mamma bear when her cubs are threatened.  All of these traits I see in Godly women I would like to emulate, not in the forerunners of this movement who demand this and that, who are angry and fierce- the scary kind of fierce that won’t tolerate anyone who thinks differently than they do.  These women who demand the right to kill their unborn children because they have a “Choice”- yes, you do have a choice to wait until you are married to have sex, simple as that- are not examples of what I want to be as a woman.

These women are not feminine- they are the very opposite of what we females were designed to be.

Thought #3– What exactly is their problem and why do they think feminism needs a reboot?  I think many of their issues rest in the fact that women still make up a small percentage of the “high up” positions in the work force.  Have they ever stopped to consider that maybe the numbers are what they are not because women “can’t get the jobs because they are female” but because women as a whole will not sacrifice their families for their career.  This thought will greatly chap the hides of a lot of  the “feminist” movers and shakers but it seems to me that there are too many women who have achieved their goals of getting to the top for it to be an impossibility.

“”Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13

Matthew 16:25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

Mark 8:35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.

The Bible is full of references to sacrifice, dying to your own desires and then finding fulfillment on the other side.


Thought #4– Who is the most powerful woman in America? or the World?  It is that woman who lays down her life to nurture, raise, and guide the next generation.

Society is a fabric- each thread woven together is a human life, each human thread is spun at home.  When society has the awful problems with school shootings, teen pregnancy,  greed, abuse and violence the problem is not with society in itself, but a breakdown in the home.  So the women that are choosing to put the next generation first whether that be by staying at home full time to be a wife and a mother or being that teacher that gives of herself above and beyond against the odds, or the working mother who turns down a promotion so that she won’t have to sacrifice her time with her children, or in any other facet where she finds the ability to make a difference- these are the most powerful women in America and the World.

I do not reject the idea that women are capable of great things outside the home, that they have the abilities to work at the highest levels or even that some women are called to do so.  I reject the idea that if I choose to lay down my own pursuits to put my husband and children first in my priority list that I have some how fallen short of what I was designed to be as a woman.  It takes a very strong woman to be secure in herself, to take on the challenges of building a healthy marriage and raising the next generation and to stand against the current that is telling her to abandon her post, and to trust her God to take care of all the things that she cannot control- that is femininity at it’s highest.

I know I sound a bit angry in this post, but that would be because this issue does make me angry. The home has been in large part abandoned and children are left to parent themselves with the help of “Jersey Shore” and “16 and Pregnant” while both parents pursue their own lives and we then wonder why there is a breakdown in society.  The home is worth fighting for and I am tired of listening to those that are wrong say they are right.  Instead of looking at it as an unfair yoke, being the gender that was trusted with bringing forth the next generation and having the fate of society & the world rest in your hands should be revered as the highest honor on the planet.



Garlic & Texas

As we get out and about now selling our herbs a Farmer’s Markets and Garden Festivals, I am frequently asked if I have any garlic.  When I ask questions to clarify just what the customer is looking for, I am surprised that they are looking for seedlings so that they can grow their own Garlic.  How marvelous!  Just one problem…

If you want to grow garlic in Texas you need to plant is in September, the same with strawberries- but that is a whole other blog and soapbox.  Once planted in September, the bulbs will sprout and grow all winter long then in June or so, the tops will start to turn brown and it is time to harvest.  Yes, no matter where you live garlic takes that long to grow.  But, it is so worth it and it really is easy.

To get started, you will need something to plant- right?  Garlic can be purchased in the store as a bulb.  In that bulb are many cloves.  Each clove when planted will produce another bulb and the cycle just keeps going.  So, once you purchase your garlic you will not ever need to purchase more, just save some cloves from your harvest and you will be good to go.  You can plant the garlic from the grocer or you can order from a seed company.  If you order from a seed company you will know exactly what variety you are getting and in the supermarket you will have no idea.  I have planted plenty from the grocer and did just fine.

The looser the ground, the better for growing garlic.  However, I have grown in clay and done fine.  Just dig a little whole twice as deep as the clove is long and plant the clove pointy end up.  Then wait.  You can inter plant with something like lettuce that has a shallow root system to make use of the open soil and double your harvest from the same square footage.  For the best harvest, you will need to water- but no more than you would for any other crop.

You will know when to harvest by the fact that the stalks have bloomed and now are beginning to turn brown.  Use a pitch fork or something similar to loosen the soil.  Gently pull the garlic up.  Spread the stalks on a dry and flat surface and let the cure (dry out a bit and the outer “paper” will dry).  Garlic can by stored for the better part of the year easily meaning that if you plant enough you will never need to buy garlic again.

Happy Planting!

garlic bulbgarlic plantinggarlic young plantgarlic bloom

Potatoes In A Tower

If you are trying to remove GMO products from your diet, one of the must go items is potatoes.  These have been GMO for years.  So, as we are working daily to eat better, eat real food and eat local- it was time to grow potatoes.  Now, according to my  great-grandfather Valentine’s Day is not only a day for love but for planting potatoes.  Well, I am a bit late this year, but it just was not possible to get it done in February.

So, week before last the day came.  Jonathan and I got busy and planted potatoes.  This year I am trying potato towers.  Potatoes are one of those plants that will produce roots along every bit of stem that is covered in soil or compost and then grow taller.  So, the idea behind the tower is to get soil and plant going just as high as possible giving you the most produce in the smallest amount of square footage.  Growing vertical is a great way to maximize a small growing area.

To make a potato tower, you will need seed potatoes, wire, straw, and compost.  Dig out a circle about 18-24 inches in diameter & 2 inches deep.  Place the seed potatoes in the hole and cover with soil.  Wrap enough wire in a circle the size of the hole and fold the ends over each other to fasten it together.  We used stakes that keep our weed barrier in place to hold the towers down.

So, here goes nothin’.  We shall see how this goes.  I am really looking forward to good tasting, home grown potatoes!

Digging out the grass and soil to plant potatoes

Digging out the grass and soil to plant potatoes

putting the seed potatoes in the soil

putting the seed potatoes in the soil

Staking down the towers

Staking down the towers

close up of stake

close up of stake

All finished, now we just have to wait!

All finished, now we just have to wait!

Working, Working- Thanks, Mom!

What a great mom!

What a great mom!

I wish every person could have a mom like mine.  She is always willing to help and even when we disagree, it is usually because we both want what is best for me but just have different ideas as to what that is.  Today mom came by with pizza and then began to clean.  If you have ever moved, you know just how good pizza is and much help is appreciated.

My mom has always put her children first, not just with words but with actions.  She stayed at home with all three of us putting off her plans to be a teacher.  She always said that she wanted to be the one who was with us when we were sick and available for us if we needed her.  We were first and we knew it.  I followed her excellent example and I don’t regret a moment.  Once my youngest sister got into high school mom went back to college.  She is now a teacher and is still putting children first.  I am very grateful.

So, while mom was at the house we cleaned.  She cleaned the wood burning stove and the carpets were cleaned.  The carpets will eventually be replaced with wood, carpet has no place on a farm with what gets tracked in to the house.  The kids unpacked boxes and cleaned their rooms.

Wednesday will be a work day, but it will be focused on the outdoors.  We may be moving, but planting season waits for no one!  So, I will till the beds that are left and finish the herb beds.  If all goes according to plans (which is very rare)  I will plant on Friday.  Seedlings are outside now getting hardened off and will be in the ground on Friday.

Spring is here and I am so excited!!

Biggest One Acre Farm In Texas

You might have noticed that my blogging has been a bit irregular lately- there is a good reason for this.  We are moving!  I love my hill, it is so picturesque- but…  Farming is hard enough when you are not battling gravity and facing the North.  This land has been maximized as best we can, but we now need something more.  We have been looking for awhile and nothing ever worked out, so we took a look at what was right in front of our face- a property that we have owned for about 6 years.

I must say that I was resistant in the beginning because I wanted more land.  But, this place is level (hallelujah!) and gets wonderful sunshine all day with a few shade trees sprinkled about.  Now, we are all excited.  We have leased land around the corner, and just a short walk away, for our goats and things are shaping up.

So, please bare with me as I move five species of animals, 3 kids, an herb farm and a business all the while our busy season is picking us steam with farmer’s markets every weekend and not to mention all of the building, tilling, and planting that is going on- whew!  But, God is good all the time and we are sailing smoothly along- but not without a lot of hard work.

Join us now as we make Hollyberry Herb Farm the biggest one acre farm in Texas!

New Farm

The view from the front porch, this entire area will be the permanent herb gardens.  Tony is preparing to cut down the cedar tree- which is now gone and the branches will be the supports for the tomato plants.  That huge pile of rocks is in the process of being moved to line the beds in the herb garden.

new greenhouse

Tony and Jonathan are putting together the new greenhouse.  As of next week, all of our seedlings will be moved into the new and much larger greenhouse.  Of course, once Easter passes, the seedlings will all be moved outside.

Jonthathan tilling

Jonathan couldn’t wait to get to run the tiller.  Of course, we have tilled so much that he is quite done with it now.  All the kids have helped, but Jonathan has really stepped up.  He is right there with me everyday moving rocks, digging holes for the new plants, just about everything.  He is very strong for an eleven year old boy and this work will surely make him stronger.

the land

new farm

These are pictures of the back of the property.  As you can see, it is a blank slate.  It is almost as though we are starting from scratch and needing to build chicken houses, fences, gardens, and animal housing, but we are not really.  We now have all the knowledge and experience that 7 years of homesteading has given us.  And that my friend, is more valuable than any barn.  So, here we go- let’s see just how much one acre can produce.  I believe we will all be surprised.



Garden Boxes Rock- Again

For everyone who has thought of growing their own vegetables, flower gardening, or raising herbs, the garden box is a great way to go. With the garden box the soil is easy to amend, the plants are easy to care for and the beds are defined clearly.

There are several ways to build a garden box. My favorite way is to use 2X12 untreated lumber. Many publications say that if you use lumber it must be cedar or cypress. Although these two materials are extremely long-lived they are also very expensive. I simply used pine available at our local lumber yard. My first boxes were build 4 years ago and are still in great shape. I live in a very humid area with lots of insects including termites and those first boxes are showing very little decay.

Sizes of garden boxes depend much in part to the size of the area you have available. I did find that my five foot wide beds are just a little too wide to reach the middle without stepping in the beds. I really like my beds that are 2′ X 10′. These are a really great size and hold plenty of veggies. The width of the beds is the major consideration, the length is totally at your discretion simply based on your space available. The depth of 12 inches is a great depth. I grow carrots every spring and fall and those orange roots come out beautiful.

Now comes the filling. There are so many great options that your choice really depends on what is readily available in your area. I filled mine with aged horse manure that came from a friend’s stable. To this, I apply compost to the boxes every fall and spring. The results I am getting from this recipe are really great. By replenishing with compost twice a year keeps the boxes really fertile.

The ease of weeding, planting, and rotating crops have made me a total fan of the garden box. I will be using this boxes for the rest of my gardening days.

"Orange" You Glad You Read This!

What I am about to share with you is the simplest of all homesteading, self-sufficient things.

Making your own orange oil cleaner.

It is this simple:

Peel oranges- eat the oranges

Place the peelings in a large jar and cover the peelings with vinegar.

Let set in a sunny window for about 3 weeks- longer is OK, less time will make it weaker.

You can collect the peelings over several days to a week.

Strain vinegar into a clean jar.

That is it!  I dilute it by half into a spray bottle.

Now you can have high quality orange cleaner for just pennies and you know exactly what is in it.

Orange oil

Straining the oil

Straining the oil