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We have just a few more pictures to share in this series of posts.  If you missed the first three posts, you can find them here:

One Year In and We Won’t Give Up!

A Year In Pictures . . . part 2

A Year In Pictures . . . part 3

We’ve been sharing some “glory moments“, challenges, and lessons learned over the past year (or so).  Our family has been on a journey toward the “old paths” and it hasn’t been easy.  We are, by God’s grace, attempting to build an agrarian homestead community in rural Missouri.  We had planned to share our journey in more detail and with videos, but we have just been in survival mode over the past year, so the pictures in this series of posts are to catch up to where we are now as quickly as possible.  If people are interested in our story, we would love to share more as the Lord leads, but while we are still in survival mode, our computer time is very limited.  Our hope and prayer is to be “surthriving” (joyfully producing most of our needs alongside others for His glory) by a year from now.  With God, all things are possible!

Glory Moment:  How can such massive plants come from seeds put in a little Huglekultur bed?  If we were to chop up all that mass and put it back in the bed, there would be an enormous mound that wasn't there before.  Truly a miracle!

Glory Moment: How can such massive plants come from seeds put in a little Huglekultur bed? If we were to chop up all that mass and put it back into the bed, there would be an enormous mound that wasn’t there before. Truly a miracle!

Glory Moment: Being able to drink from our own spring was such a blessing.  We so look forward to the day this drought ends and our spring begins to flow again.

Glory Moment: Being able to drink from our own spring was such a blessing. We so look forward to the day this drought ends and our spring begins to flow again.

Lesson Learned:  When we first introduced our Ancona duck to our creek, they didn't know how to be duck.  It was pure joy to see them learn how to swim, dive, and be ducks for the first time.  Sometimes it doesn't matter how many books you read or videos you watch, you just have to learn through experience.  We are loving the ducks!

Lesson Learned: When we first introduced our Ancona ducks to our creek, they didn’t know how to be ducks. It was pure joy to see them learn how to swim, dive, and be ducks for the first time. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how many books you read or videos you watch, you just have to learn through experience. We are loving the ducks!

Glory Moment:  I love, love, love seeing our Creator at work in the garden!  This was an afternoon snack fresh from the garden one hot summer afternoon.  Delicious!

Glory Moment: I love, love, love seeing our Creator at work in the garden! This was an afternoon snack fresh from the garden one hot summer afternoon. Delicious!

Lesson Leaned:  Anything worth doing is worth "failing" at.  We knew this when we started out on this journey, but we didn't know how hard it would be.  Sometimes you have to fall, fall, and fall again before you finally get it.

Lesson Leaned: Anything worth doing is worth “failing” at. We knew this when we started out on this journey, but we didn’t know how hard it would be. Sometimes you have to fall, fall, and fall again before you finally get it.

The first of many . . . pure joy.

The first of many . . . pure joy.

Though we are heated in the fire and hard pressed on all sides, He is at work.  Be of good courage and never give up!

Though we are heated in the fire and hard pressed on all sides, He is at work. Be of good courage and never give up!  Simply believe and trust HIM.

When the baby is screaming, the 3 year old needs wiped, everyone is hungry, the sink is full of dirty dishes, and there is no water, again . . . HIM.  When the goats escape to the neighbor’s for the 100th time, the drakes are fighting, the hens are laying eggs in the pile of insulation, the pasture never gets hayed, the blister beetles are taking over the garden, and the van tire is popped for the 3rd time this month . . . HIM.  On the one side, the “glory moments” keep us believing  . . . and on the flip side, the challenges keep us trusting because we know we live in a fallen world that only HE can redeem and restore.  And yet, most of our time is spent somewhere in-between . . . what then?  HIM.  It’s all about knowing HIM.  That’s one of the biggest reasons we have chosen this way of life.

As I lug buckets of water up the hill from the creek, do I know His strength?  As I walk in the garden, do I know that He has answers to the bug problems and ask of Him?  Only He knows just what experiences we all need to draw us to or keep us in HIM. And somehow His sovereignty and our free will meet in a mystical dance and I just can’t get enough . . . I want to know Him more and make Him known.

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In the past year, our family has experienced more loses, troubles, challenges, and “failures” than I care to recount.  But we have also experienced incredible “glory moments” that have kept us believing in His promises.  And we are learning to look to Him in all that we do . . . because HE is everything to us.  Thanks for joining us on this journey so far . . . we still have a long way to go.

Blessings,

Carrie   ><>

 

 

We’re getting closer to being all caught up to the present with these pictures.  If you didn’t see part 1 and part 2, you might want to take a look at those before you read on.  We’ve been sharing our journey over the past year (or so) through pictures, recounting some of the glory moments, challenges, and lessons learned along the way.  We still have a long way to go . . . even if we’re just stepping stones for our children it has all been worth it, hard, incredibly hard, but worth it.  We’re going back to the old paths, were the good way is.

Challenge: Trying to combine conventional building with healthy, off-grid living, with no experience has been next to impossible.  The possibilities when you design your own home are endless even if you spend years dreaming and planning.  It will be a glory moment no doubt when we finally get to move in.

Challenge: Trying to combine conventional building methods with healthy, off-grid living priorities, has been next to impossible. The possibilities have been endless even after years of learning, planning, and dreaming. It will truly be a glory moment when we finally get to move into our “cabin”.

Challenge, Lesson Learned, and Glory Moment:  This is Buster, our Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dog.  When we first got him, we thought he was "broken" because he wouldn't guard our goats, he just wanted to guard our children.  In time we realized that having him guard our children was better than anything we could have hoped for in a dog.

Challenge, Lesson Learned, and Glory Moment: This is Buster, our Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dog. When we first got him, we thought he was “broken” because he wouldn’t guard our goats, he just wanted to guard our children. In time we realized that having him guard our children was the best thing we could have hoped for in a dog.

Lesson Learned:  Goats just aren't our thing!  The solar electric fence kept them where we wanted them, but took hours to set up in the areas we wanted them . . . the kids were fun to watch and I learned to milk, but we no longer have the goats.  We wait for a cow.

Lesson Learned: Goats just aren’t our thing! The solar electric fence kept them where we wanted them, but took hours to set up in the areas where we wanted them . . . the kids were fun to watch and I learned the all important skill of milking, but we no longer have the goats. We wait for a cow.

Now Buster can just relax and do what he loves.

Now Buster can just relax and do what he loves.

Glory Moments:  The eggs are coming in and they never get old . . . everyone loves to gather the eggs . . . and eat them!

Glory Moments: The movable coop is working great. The eggs are coming in and they never get old . . . everyone loves to gather the eggs . . . and eat them!

Lesson Learned:  Geese destroy young orchards!  They should only be allowed in mature orchards . . . and never around your house.  But they sure are beautiful.

Lesson Learned: Geese destroy young orchards! They should only be allowed in mature orchards . . . and never around your house. But they sure are beautiful.

Glory Moment:  We are loving the Autumn Olives and they are all over our property . . . a delicious wild edible.

Glory Moment: We are loving the Autumn Olives and they are all over our property . . . a delicious wild edible.

Challenge:  Getting this 700 lb. cook stove in place took quite an effort.  The cultured stove work around it is quite tedious.  I just hope I can learn to cook on it without too many burned meals.

Challenge: Getting this 700 lb. cook stove in place took quite an effort. The cultured stove work around it is quite tedious to say the least.  I just hope I can learn to cook on it without too many burned meals.

Glory Moment:  Getting a smile from Joseph is always pure joy . . . happy first birthday to our little "buddy" this week!

Glory Moment: Getting a smile from Joseph is always pure joy (now he has cute little teeth to add to the joy) . . . happy first birthday to our little “buddy” this week!

We have just a few more pictures left to share . . . and we still won’t give up.  No matter how hard it may seem to transition from a modern way of life into the old paths of agrarian living, we know without a doubt that it is what we are suppose to be doing and for our children’s sake, it will be worth it.

Blessings,

Carrie

A Year In Pictures . . . part 4

Glory Moments: Our five blessings have been amazing on the crazy journey we've been on . . . they have been the reason for most of our glory moments.

Glory Moments: Our five blessings have been amazing on the crazy journey we’ve been on . . . they have been the reason for most of our glory moments.

If you missed the first part of our past year in pictures, you might want to skim it right quick before you read on.  We are hoping to catch up with friends and family through a series of posts with mostly pictures, recounting some of the “glory moments“, challenges, and lessons learned so far on our journey into a whole new way of life . . . agrarian community living.  As you can see from the photo above, our youngest has had the toughest time on this journey, but he is walking now and discovering that life isn’t so bad when you can get out of the travel trailer and explore.

Lesson Learned:  It really hasn't been that bad living in a trailer considering that we have all learned to love even when times are really, really tough.

Lesson Learned: It really hasn’t been that bad living in a trailer considering that we have all learned to love even when times are really, really tough.

Lesson Learned:  Don't try to muster up fake joy, turn your eyes on The Joy Giver and He will give you the real deal . . . don't miss the moments.

Lesson Learned: Don’t try to muster up fake joy, turn your eyes on The Joy Giver and He will give you the real deal . . . don’t miss the moments.

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One of the first little wild treasures to pop up on our land, truly a glory moment. Many were “stolen” to transplant around our new fruit trees.

We prayed for years for land and God blessed us with 20 acres in the rural Missouri Ozarks, just outside of Goodhope. Little did we know at the time that we were just a little over a mile away from a family endeavoring to live like us.  It took a mutual friend and a Baker Creek festival for us to finally meet them, months after purchasing our land.  We still deeply long to have our best friends from California with us here on our land (in His time), but so praise God for the blessing of the family down the road.  Lesson Learned:  Perhaps one of the biggest lessons we have learned so far is that the agrarian way of life cannot be lived without true community, at least that’s how we feel about it.

Yes, community is essential . . . our old barn was the only structure we had to work with from the start and we couldn't even use it to protect our building materials due to how dirty it was.  Having a close community would have made our beginnings so much lighter.

Yes, community is essential . . . our old barn was the only structure we had to work with from the start and we couldn’t even use it to protect our building materials due to how dirty it was. Having a close community would have made our beginnings so much lighter.

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Glory moment: This sawdust “house” may not look like much, but if you use a composting toilet, you know how excited I was about this handy little shelter that fits nicely as part of our garden fence line. The other side of it has a small opening along the bottom to get sawdust from inside the home garden area. My husband can back his truck up and dump right in . . . love his handiwork!

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Challenge: How do you grow food on hard old rocky pasture land? Huglekultur Back to Eden . . . until the bugs come . . . and the drought . . .

. . . and we still  had more tomatoes than we could find the time to put up!  We are definitely going to have to build a solar dehydrator!!  Lesson Learned:  Less is more in so many areas of life.

. . . and we still had more tomatoes than we could find the time to put up! We are definitely going to have to build a solar dehydrator!! Lesson Learned: Less is more in so many areas of life.

Enjoying our spring fed creek before it dried up for the first time in years.  Lesson Learned:  We should have set up our water catchment as soon as the roof was done instead of depending on our spring.  Water must always be a priority!

Enjoying our spring fed creek before it dried up for the first time in years. Lesson Learned: We should have set up our water catchment as soon as the roof was done instead of depending on our spring. Water must always be a priority!

Glory Moment:  We just recently extracted almost two gallons of honey!  Getting to experience some (sweet) fruit for all of our labors has been so joyful.

Glory Moment: Kip set up two bee hives this past May. We just recently extracted almost two gallons of honey! Getting to experience some (sweet) fruit from all of his labors has been so joyful.

Glory to God for all the glory moments, challenges, and lessons learned . . . they have all deepened our love for Him and each other.  More moments in pictures to come, God willing . . . Blessings, Carrie    ><>

A Year In Pictures . . . part 3

“Glory moments” are what I most often read about when it comes to the agrarian way of life . . . the perfect chicken coop, the amazing garden harvest, the healthy baby calf, the children all working peacefully as a team, the community sharing their bounty with each other.  It’s encouraging to read about all those wonderful moments in time that people share about, but the truth is that “glory moments” come and go . . . all too quickly sometimes.  Over the past year, the scale, for us, seemed to be most often unfairly tipped toward the go . . . and so we learned during the most crazy times, to fix our minds and hearts on the One Who will never go.  We found that His peace and joy were abounding if we would simply embrace HIM.  Though we are weary and tired, because of Jesus, we won’t give up.

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There couldn’t have been a much more beautiful place to have had daily truck and/or trailer break downs . . . Canada.

We could easily fill a 1000 page book to recount the main events of the past year of our lives, but time is too precious for so many written words, not to mention the time it would take you to read them.  So instead, how about some pictures that captured some “glory moments” (yes, we did have many), some challenges, and some of our biggest lessons learned through the day to day real life experience of moving from Alaska to Missouri to build a homestead, from scratch, with very little money, no income, no experience, no close community, and a family of 7 all living in a 27 foot travel trailer . . . which we still live in.

Home sweet dirty, smelly,  crowded, everything in the same place, enter at your own risk . . . home!?

Challenge: Home, sweet, dirty, crowded, everything in the same place, enter at your own risk . . . home!?! . . . an experience we cannot recommend for a large family for more than a month or two at most.

Being that is takes quite a while just to upload one picture (that’s rural Missouri internet for you), we’ll have to divide this year in pictures into a few different posts over the next few weeks.  We are still undecided about when, how, or even if we should share anything beyond the past year in pictures.  We had hoped to have the Journey to Surthrival project up and running by now to document the agrarian journey of multiple different families, but it just didn’t make the priority list and some of the other families were lead in different directions.  There are so many people out there sharing their story . . . do we really need to share ours?  Should we say good-bye to internet all together to keep our time invested in our children and this land God has given us?  Or, would a little time at this keyboard make a worthwhile difference in some life out there?  We would love your thoughts . . .

We left Alaska early July 2013 . . . little did we know we would be stuck in Canada for two weeks, spend our nights in auto repair parking lots, get towed twice, and miss out on our family vacation to the Oregon coast.  Lesson learned: We are entitled to nothing, but in every trial, we can fully trust Him to give us all that we need.

We left Alaska early July 2013 . . . little did we know we would be stuck in Canada for two weeks, spend our nights in auto repair parking lots, get towed twice, and miss out on our family vacation to the Oregon coast. Lesson learned: We are entitled to nothing, but in every trial, we can fully trust Him to give us all that we need.

When the trailer is 100 degrees, it's a good time to find some cold water somewhere!  British Columbia, Canada

Glory Moment: When the trailer is 100 degrees, it’s a good time to find some cold water somewhere! British Columbia, Canada

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Glory Moment: She absolutely loves water!

From Alaska to Missouri, 8 months pregnant!  His grace is sufficient . . .

Challenge: From Alaska to Missouri, 8 months pregnant! His grace is sufficient . . .

Our first home birth . . . in our travel trailer . . . the best!  Joseph Luke, born September 24, 2013.

Glory Moment: Our first home birth . . . in our travel trailer . . . the best! Joseph Luke, born September 24, 2013.

Cherish the moments . . . love is everything when everything else is a mess.

Lesson Learned:  Cherish the moments . . . love is everything when everything else is a mess.

All tucked in for the harshest Missouri winter in years . . . waiting for our home in Alaska to sell, waiting to find land, waiting to have running water again, waiting, waiting, waiting . . .

Challenge:  All tucked in for the harshest Missouri winter in years . . . waiting for our home in Alaska to sell, waiting to find land, waiting to have running water again, waiting . . .

I guess we brought a little bit of Alaska with us!

Glory Moment:  I guess we brought a little bit of Alaska with us!

This is the reason we were often waiting for running water . . . when the hose from the friends water catchment freezes, the neighbors well freezes, and the only other option is to drive empty jugs one at a time into the tank, you really learn to appreciate water.  Did I mention it was a record cold winter . . . he's such a good man!

Challenge:  This is the reason we were often waiting for running water . . . when the hose from the friends water catchment froze, the neighbors well froze, and the only other option was to drive into town for water and then empty jugs one at a time into the tank, we really learned to appreciate water. Did I mention it was a record cold winter . . . he’s such a good man!

Our home finally sold in November, 2013 . . . we are debt free!  Land at last . . .

Glory Moment:   Our home finally sold in November, 2013 . . . we are debt free! Land at last . . .

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!  To Him be the glory . . . in every moment.  More moments in pictures to come . . .

Blessings,

Carrie     ><>

A Year In Pictures . . . Part 2

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The past two years here at Heavenly Homesteading have been quiet, at least the blog has been quiet.  The family behind this blog has been working away to fix up an old run down house, an investment, an opportunity to let go of this modern way of life and fly free.  I am excited beyond words to share with my readers that the old run down house is now clean and new in almost every way possible.  It is up for sale and we are getting ready to go . . . where?  If you would like to find out, you can follow our journey and continue to follow Heavenly Homesteading at Journey To Surthrival, our new website that we hope to launch in the next couple of months.

Please forgive the mess as we transition to the new website.  As posts disappear from Heavenly Homesteading, rest assured that many will reappear over at Journey to Surthrival.  I hope you will join us as we step out in faith and begin to live out our dream of being part of an agrarian community, where we don’t just survive, but thrive!

Blessings,

Carrie

Update:  After over a year into our journey, we are finally at a place where we can begin to share some of the “glory moments”, the challenges, and the day to day work of building our homestead.  The Journey to Surthrival website is currently not live.  Much has changed over the past year, so we are now at a place of prayerfully deciding what we should share and how.  For now, Heavenly Homesteading will be our outlet, but we hope to merge this blog with the Journey to Surthrival project.  For those who didn’t get a chance to check out Journey to Surthrival before it “disappeared”, it is a multi-family project intended to give real life perspective and encouragement to those who are endeavoring to walk in the old paths, otherwise commonly referred to as an agrarian way of life.

For those of you who remember that I said I would try to post some before and after pictures of our home that we have been fixing up over the past two and a half years, here they are.  Our home is up for sale now and we are getting ready for a new adventure that I can’t wait to share with you . . . soon!

Front entry before . . .

Front entry after.

Front entry after.

Living room before . . .

Living room before . . .

Living room after.

Living room after.

Formal dining before . . .

Formal dining before . . .

Formal dining after.

Formal dining after.

Main bath before . . .

Main bath before . . .

Main bath after.

Main bath after.

Knocked out wall between bedrooms before . . .

Knocked out wall between bedrooms before . . .

One of the now two separate bedrooms with new paint, closets, and carpet.

One of the now two separate bedrooms with new paint, closets, and carpet.

It has been a very busy past couple of years, but the end of this project is in sight.  We feel so blessed to have been given this opportunity to make something old into something new.  We wait now for a buyer and for the return on this investment that will launch us into our dream of living the agrarian way of life.  All glory to God for where He has brought us and where He is leading us next!

Water kefir soda has become a favorite drink in our home, but it took a while to learn how to make it how we all like it.  I almost gave up on it for a time until I discovered that water kefir could be used to boost sourdough starters.  My first wild sourdough starter took almost a month before it was active enough to use, so I was thrilled to see how quickly water kefir boosted sourdough starters became active (2-3 days!).  I love working with sourdough and am so excited to be able to make this healthy, probiotic rich, fruity, fizzy drink out of my new sourdough booster.  So, here is how I now satisfiy my cravings for fruity carbonation:

Raspberry Soda“:

Ingredients: (for making 1/2 gallon)

- about 2 T. water kefir grains (hydrated, not dry)

- 1/2 gallon room temperature water (filtered if needed to get rid of chlorine, etc.)

- 1/2 cup organic sugar*

- 1 slice fresh organic lemon or 1 t. organic lemon juice (optional)

- about 1/4 cup organic raisins (optional, but very helpful)

- about 2 dozen fresh or frozen raspberries

- some form of mineral supplement (ie. an egg shell, mineral drops, or molasses)

* You can also use rapadura or sucanat, which adds more minerals to the water, but our family didn’t care for the taste when I used sucanat.  Note that you can decrease the mineral drop amount to 1/16 t. or 6 drops if using a mineral rich sweetener.

Simple Process:

First Fermentation

- Fill a half gallon jar about two inches full with hot water and add sugar.  Swirl or stir to disolve sugar.

- Add enough cold water to take water level to about 2 inches from the top of the jar.

- Add water kefir grains, lemon slice (or juice), raisins, and mineral supplement choice. I’ve never tried using molasses, so I’m not sure how much to use. If using an egg shell, make sure to rinse it well first.  If using mineral drops, which I definately recommend, use about 1/8 t. or 12 drops.  My grains are actually growing like they are supposed to since I started using the mineral drops.  Water kefir grains love minerals!

- Cover jar with a cloth or napkin and a rubberband and let sit on counter for 24-48 hours, until the raisins all rise to the top (this is the first fermentation).  The raisins are a huge help to me, because I always seem to forget how long my jar has been sitting.  I love having the visual to tell me when it’s time to move on to the second fermentation and our boys love to see the raisins floating around in the jar.

Second Fermentation

- When raisins have risen to the top of the jar, carefully scoop the lemon slice and raisins out with a slotted spoon.  I put them in a bowl and then dump them into our compost bin.  If some of the raisins dart to the bottom of the jar when you go to scoop them out, be sure to taste the water kefir to make sure it has at least a hint of carbonation at this point.  If it is still quite sweet without any carbonation, I would leave it to sit a few hours more.

- Once you have a little fizz going on and you have removed the lemon slice and raisins, carefully pour the water kefir into a clean half gallon jar or two quart jars (or whatever other jar combination you have) without letting any grains out of first fermentation jar.  I like to pour it through a fine tea filter to catch any “sludge” that likes to float around with water kefir and to make sure no grains get into the new jar(s).  I also like to leave about an inch of water kefir with the grains so that I can easily store them in the fridge until I’m ready to start a new batch (they store this way for about a week). 

- Or, you can start a new batch right away, in which case I would carefully get as much water kefir out as possible, being careful not the let the grains fall out (they usually stay to the side of the jar in a group when pouring very slowly).  Then, I like to gently rinse them a couple of times with cold water while still in the jar, slowly pouring out the rinse water each time, being careful that no grains fall out.  Prepare a fresh jar of sugar water, lemon, raisins, and mineral supplement as before and simply dump the rinsed water kefir grains (with a little water to help push them out) into your fresh jar.

- Now for the fun part!  Add to your water kefir about 12 fresh or frozen raspberries per quart.  This doesn’t have to be exact, just try to get a good layer of raspberries on the top of the jar(s).  Seal the jars with airtight lids and leave to sit on the counter for up to 24 hours.

- After your water kefir has been infused with the raspberry juices, scoop the raspberries out with a slotted spoon, just as you did with the lemon and raisins.  You can now drink it right away or keep it sealed tight on the counter and drink it as you want it.  We prefer to drink it within a day or two because it is sweeter and has no alcohol taste.  If it sits out of cold storage for more than a couple of days it may get a hint of an alcohol taste, but I am very sensitive to that taste (quite dislike it), so many may not even notice it.  You can also store your raspberry soda in the fridge to make it last longer, but it will lose some of it’s carbonation.

If you make this fun drink we call raspberry soda, I hope you enjoy it as well as we do!

Some Of My Favorite Water Kefir Resources:

- This is a very helpful video: Sophisticated Peasant Video Tutorial

- Wardeh @ GNOWFGLINS instructions: How to Make Water Kefir

- Kelly @ Kelly The Kitchen Cop: Is Kefir Soda An Alcoholic Berverage?

- Cultures For Health: This is where you can buy water kefir grains (you might also find these at Amazon) and watch many helpful videos about water kefir.

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