Sunday, November 7, 2021

Food Preservation 2021

 Another interesting few canning lids available anywhere, prices going up so quickly (canned coconut milk went from $1.50/can to $2.39/can in one jump), continued challenges due to COVID (couldn't get a pig from Ibelings because Sorgs wouldn't butcher the fair pigs), and kids eating more and more, along with continued diet changes, mean we are working hard to grow food and put it up, but we are also spending much more than we ever have before.


Here is what we put up for 2021:


Maple Syrup 6q, 1p of watery, 3q, 5 pints of normal 

Peaches: 7 quarts, 10 pints 

Blueberries:4 pints 

Bing Cherries: 9 pints

Applesauce: 41 quarts

Rhubarb Sauce: 9 pints

Pear Topping: 22 pints

Crabapple Syrup: 1 quart

Peach Almond Syrup: 5 pints

Black Cap Sauce: 6 1/2 pints 

Strawberry Sauce: 6 pints

Grape Juice: 2 quarts

Green/Yellow Beans: 26 quarts,  4 pints

Corn: 85 quarts, 5 pints

Tomato Soup: 11 quarts, 1 pint

Pickled Jalapenos: 1pint

Zucchini Relish:  25 pints, 3 1/2 pints

Garlic Dill Pickles: 26 quarts, 5 pints 

Garlic Scapes: 6 pints

Roasted Corn Salsa:15 pints for us

Roasted Corn Salsa: 10 pints for gifts

Brown Sugar Peach Jam: 3 1/2 pints

AIP Salted Caramel Peach Jam: 6 1/2 pints

AIP Pear Chocolate jam: 9 1/2 pints

Mulberry Jam: 1 pint, 16 1/2 pints

Dried beans: Navy, Pinto, Black, Garbanzo

Baked Beans (from Navy beans)


Pesto: 5 cups

Goosefoot: 2 bags

Swiss Chard: 3 bags 

Kale: 3 bags

Turnips: 2 bags (lots in the fridge)

Turnip Greens: 5 bags

Beets: 12 bags

Shredded Zucchini: 9 bags 

Yellow Squash: 3 bags

Kohlarbi Stems:1 bag

Kohlarbi Leaves: 2 bags

Zucchini Butter: 3 containers

Puffball Mushrooms: 2 big containers, 1 bag of pieces

Oyster Mushrooms:21 bags

Mulberries:5 gallons, 3 quarts

Strawberries, whole: 1 gallon, 6 quarts

Black Caps:1 gallon

Rainer Cherries: 1 gallon

Bing Cherries: 2 gallons 

Our Cherries: 3/4 gallon

Planted about 240 cloves of garlic after harvesting about 231 bulbs.  Bought a beef from Wundrows, bought tons of squash (butternut, acorn and such) from stand by Whitewater Lake beach, got a TON of red peppers from Amanda (CM mom), as well as some long neck zucchini and pie pumpkins.  Raised a TON of chickens all at once and didn't get a pig yet, as freezers are full.  We are set for winter :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

2021 Beef Purchase

 It was time to stock up on beef, so we placed our order for a 1/2 with Wundrows!   I am pretty sure we got a steer, it was mostly grass fed (went in late September,) and it was processed at Lake Geneva meats.

Total Meat:

Ground: 74 pounds

Porterhouse steaks: 2 packs, 4 pounds

T-bone steaks: 10 packs, 13 pounds

Rib Steaks: 9 packs, 14 pounds

Sirloin Steaks: 10 packs, 16.5 pounds

Skirt Steak: 2 packs, 1.5 pounds

Flank Steak: 1 pack, 1 pound

Round Steak: 8 packs, 12 pounds

Arm Chuck roast: 3 packs, 12 pounds

Chuck Roast: 7 packs, 23 pounds

Rump roast: 2 packs, 6 pounds

Sirloin Tip Roast: 2 packs, 6.5 pounds

Round roast: 2 packs, 7 pounds

Short ribs: 5 packs,  15 pounds

Stew Meat: 6 packs, 6 pounds

Soup Bones: 7 packs, 21 pounds

Brisket: 2 packs, 6 pounds


Knuckle Bones: 5 pounds

Suet: 6 pounds

Heart: 3 pounds

Liver: 6 packs, 6 pounds

Oxtail: 1 pack, 2 pounds

Tongue: 1 packs, 3 pounds

Total weight brought home: 257.5 according to my scale

Paid Wundrows: $796.50 based on $1.35/pound 1180 live weight

Paid Lake Geneva Country Meats: $299.20 based on $.88/lb processing on 340 pounds (hanging weight?)   


Total paid: $1095. 70

Total brought home: 257.5 pounds

$4.26/pound for everything, if we take out the suet, knuckle bones, liver, heart, tongue and oxtail then it is $4.65/pound.  Still a great price for beef, especially when you consider all the steaks and roasts we got, that it supports a small farm and I prefer how it was raised to a feed lot.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Meat Chickens 2021

 Butchering is slated for 9 weeks of age, two have been taken early at 3 lb, 3 oz and 4 lb, 12 oz.

Feed---20 fifty pound bags of Organic Start and Grow @32.65 each for the last 8, the first 12 were slightly cheaper.  I believe the total was $620.03 for food.   I also bought a propane burner ($30.00 + tax), two more waterers ($11ish),  fed them 2 huge beef livers, and a part of left over meat bird bag from last year.

Birds were butchered over 2 days at exactly 9 weeks old, first morning we started about 6:30-6:45 and by  9:30 or so the butchering of 37 birds was done.  It took 3+ hours to do the final picking (crop pulling mostly) and to bag and weigh them.  This year we used poultry bags from and they worked great once we did a couple.  The biggest birds just fit, but with our somewhat smaller overall size they were fine.  I'm hopeful it will give us less freezer burn overall than the big storage bags or butcher paper.  Second morning we started about the same time, but moved along very quickly.  We did 23 birds in less than 2 hours total with the final cleaning, bagging, weighing and organ clean up/freezing being done well before lunch time.  Aiming for 20-30 birds a morning is very doable, 37 exhausted me a lot more.  We had our youngest (age 9) doing the butchering, our 13 year old as our chicken chaser/runner, my dad on the plucker and for gutting we had one adult just doing legs and oil glands, 1 adult gutting, and our 11 year old with me gutting when I could and holding for the butchering.  A small crew, but one that worked really efficiently.

First time ever, the night before butchering I had 4 birds with wings break through.  Not sure what happened, but they weren't bothered and the other chickens didn't even act like they cared about the blood.  They were from the small tractor.  Also had a few in that tractor that wing contusions that were green and gross looking.  Not sure why, most likely injury, but we didn't see excessive fighting.  Did they grow to fast at the end?  Injury from moving the tractor?  Hope it doesn't happen again!

Total cost for birds: $114 for 60 cockerels (definitely had some girls in the mix though and they stayed smaller, probably due to getting less food.)

Total for food: $620.03

Total number of birds butchered: 62 total, 2 taken early and 60 done over two mornings.

Total of 62 birds: 349 lbs   (Average weight 5.6 lbs, or 5 lbs, 10 oz)

Hearts: 2 lb, 12 oz

Liver:6 lb, 5 oz

Gizzard:6 lb, 5 oz

Cost/lb of chickens only: $1.77/lb

Cost/lb if including the organs: $1.70/lb

Definitely increased in price, but these are 100% organic for about $.30/lb more.  And the other feeds have increased this year as well, so the price cost might not have been as much as we think.  These were about the size of the 8 weekers from last year, smaller than the 10 weekers.  But, these were more work with the soaking and the pushing the last two weeks might have caused the wing issues.  Lots of variables, but overall just glad to have the meat in my freezer!

15 birds went with Mom and Dad, a total of 79 pounds/15 birds.  We have 47 birds total.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Food Preservation 2020

 I just realized I never posted what we preserved in 2020.  Time to fix that, since we are currently boiling sap for 2021 :)  

This was the year of COVID, a year of food limits, missing items and limited shopping in stores.  Prices were going up, canning lids were no where to be found, it was definitely a different year than I've ever experienced before.  We made some adjustments (raised a lot more chickens) and I was just so grateful that I felt good enough to do a lot of gardening and canning, as it felt very important.

Maple Syrup: 4 quarts, 6 pints

Grape Juice: 4 quarts

Cherries: 4 quarts, 11 pints

Blueberries:11 pints

Apricots:2 quarts

Peaches: 6 quarts, 1 pint 

Mandarin Oranges: 4 pints, 1 half pint 

Pears: 32 quarts, 9 pints

Pear Topping: 10 pints

Pear Nectar: 2 pints

Pear Juice: 8 quarts, 1 pint

Apple Butter: 2 pints, 6 3/4 pints 

Spiced Apples: 3 quarts, 14 pints 

Applesauce: 117 quarts

Rhubarb Sauce: 4 pints

Cranberry Pear Jam (kids): 5 half pints

Cranberry Pear (AIP): 6 half pinnts

Chocolate Pear Jam (AIP): 10 half pints, 1 3/4 pint

Chocolate Pear Jam (kids): 9 half pints, 2 1/4 pints

Pineapple/Pear Jam: 4 1.5 pints, 1 1/2 pint

Garlic Dill pickles: 14 quarts, 1 pint

Zucchini Relish: 11 pints

Dilly Beans: 4 pints

Green Beans: 6 quarts

Corn: 24 quarts, 20 pints

Roasted Corn Salsa: 3 quarts, 13 pints

Tomatoes: 5 quarts

Pasta Sauce: 14 quarts, 1 pint

Sweet & Sour Sauce: 11 pints

Chicken & Beef Stock

Baked Beans

Dried Beans (Navy, Pinto, Black, Garbanzo)


Strawberries: 4 gallons, 11 jars of sliced

Peaches: 1 gallon

Cherries: 1 gallon

Kale: 10 bags

Chard: 4 bags

Oyster Mushrooms: 34 bags!

Garlic Scapes; 6 bags

Green Beans:5 bags

Roasted Green Beans: 2 bags

Beets: 13 containers

Yellow Squash/Zucchini (shredded): 12 bags

Broccoli: 10 bags

Broccoli leaves: 2 bags

Turnips: 3 bags

Fennel Pesto: 6 containers 

Basil Pesto: 32 pints

Zucchini Butter: 3 containers

Vinegars: Apricot, Chive, Cherry

Lard:8 containers

We raised a lot of meat chickens (one batch of 25, one of 50), tapped trees, bought a ton of squash from the stand near Whitewater Lake Beach, bought 40 pounds of ground beef from 5 Arches farm (to supplement the beef from Wundrows last year), bought some lamb from Michelle when she was cleaning out the freezer, and just did our best to put up what we could.  The mushrooms that we found here and at Turners were many of them all over their wood pile!  We never were without and had a fairly high grocery bill this year, but it should help contain 2021s costs, especially as we'll need to purchase a bunch of beef again.

Friday, January 1, 2021

What I Read 2021

 A new year, hopefully a more normal one than COVID focused 2020!

**1. Home for Christmas stories for Young and Old Compiled by Miriam LeBlanc  This is a great collection of Christmas short stories.  It contains famous ones like The Fourth Wiseman, but also many I had never read.   Lots of authors I love (Ruth Sawyer, Pearl Buck, Elizabeth Goudge, Rebecca Caudill, etc) and definitely worth getting if I find it for a good price.

*2. The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs  I heard him on the RAR podcast and enjoyed a lot of his discussion on reading for whim vs. reading because it is assigned or you think you should.  This is a book that covers a lot of ground on benefits of reading, how we rate what we read, reading being solitary vs. social, assigned reading, history of reading, etc.   Ironically, I started it, but then got distracted by a ton of other books, but I'm glad that I finally finished it!

**3. The Spirit of Christmas by Henry van Dyke   This is a sweet little book with a couple of prayers, a sermon, and other writings about Christmas.  I loved the little essay on Christmas Giving and Christmas Living---lots of wisdom about what we should wish for those we are gifting things to and what makes a great Christmas gift.

4. Happy Homemade Home by Elise Larson and Emma Chapman   A home decorating book by a quirky set of sisters who run a mega blog called A Beautiful Mess.  I've never read it and their style is definitely hipster, but I do like that they are about DIY and making things work for you and your family, not being a cookie cutter.

5. Weekday Weekend by Elise Larson and Emma Chapman  Same sisters, this is a cookbook of sorts.  They eat vegetarian and during the week don't do dairy or alcohol, sugar or white flour either.  Then weekends are wide open for those things.  Some interesting recipes, but don't work for me.  Their smoky coconut flakes are interesting and could maybe work with tweaks.

**6. The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge  A great book of hers for the younger crowd (or that can be read in less than a month!)  A girl and her governess move when her parents die.  She finds she is the Moon Princess of her generation and possibly the one that can change the curses over the manor.  A white unicorn, a dog (lion) that reappears with each princess, a dwarf that cooks, and so many interesting characters are in this book.  Her bravery, the bit of magic throughout, the enchanting story all make this a great book for the younger crowd, but it is in no way juvenile.  

*7. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab   Such an interesting concept for a book, and this is a long one!   Addie (Adeline) is born in the 1600s in a small village in France.  She wants more in life, but is about to married off to a widower.  Instead she makes a deal with the devil--he gets her soul when she is done with it and she gets freedom, as no one will ever remember her.  She figures out ways to make her mark through artists, how to steal enough to live, and how to survive over 300 years.  Eventually she meets Henry, a boy who has also made a deal, but only for a year in exchange for being wanted/happiness.  He remembers her, she sees him for who he is, not who she wants him to be.  In the end, as his year winds down, she figures out a way to get him more life--it involves her giving herself over to Luc (the darkness,) as he has always considered her his.   Lots of things to think about with this one, an interesting premise.  Too much focus on repetitiveness and bed hopping in my opinion, but a good read overall.

*8. News of the World by Paulette Jiles  A Western book, which is outside my norm, but I like this one.  We'll be watching the movie soon, which features Tom Hanks.   Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd is a widow who travels Texas doing readings of news for a dime admission.  He is asked to return Johanna to her aunt and uncle.  She was taken at age 6 by the Kiowa tribe, after they killed her parents and baby sister.  Four years later she is fully a part of their culture, remembers no German or English and is mourning the loss of her native mother.  The two of them develop a strong relationship as he protects her from those who want to buy her and gets her back to her family.  However, after seeing how they are treating her, the two of them disappear together and live with his grown daughter and her family.  Johanna never fully rejoins their culture, but their life is good, with her eventually marrying and raising children.

9. A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman  The bloggers again, some neat ideas for photography-not only how to take better pictures, but also ways to use your photos.  I agree with their premise that we need to document the everyday, not just the formal.  

*10. Standing Strong by Alli Worthington  A Christian writer who shares her story of obeying God in times that don't seem to make sense and lots of encouragement to live big in partnership with God.  Some things were really impactful for me, lots didn't ring at this point, as I feel like I am where I should be.  She definitely writes to those who have stirrings they are afraid to go after right now.  Super evangelical in her 'brand' of Christianity with lots of friends who have direct messages from God for her at points.  

* 11. Sea Legs: Tales of a Woman Oceanographer by Kathleen Crane  I read this to go along with our science rotation this trimester.  Kathleen Crane has had quite a career studying oceans. She was the first to start proving that there are heat vents in the floor of the ocean, finding proof near Galapagos.  Her other big focus in her career has been the arctic, doing more than one atlas of the ocean floor there.  I am definitely blown away by how little was known about the ocean just 30 years ago.  We have come a very long way, which makes me realize why Rachel Carson, Jacques Cousteau and others that are not that far back had such a big impact, along with other scientists like Kathleen.  Her work with Russia and experiences with breaking through Cold War issues, working with so many other countries and overcoming the challenges that being a woman in this field brought were all interesting. A lot of her stories do focus on the limits and challenges of being a woman caused.  It was good to learn about that history and thankfully, it wasn't too over bearing, but it came close, as I was in it for the science side.

*12. Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri   Such an interesting perspective in this book.  It is a memoir of sorts, the story of Daniel and his mother and sister as they fled from Persia/Iran and eventually settled in Oklahoma.  It is told through him sharing stories with his class and we see all the challenges of trying to fit in and make sense of his refugee patchwork story.  We hear about his memories of his grandparents, mythology of Persia, his feelings of loss with his father not coming with them.  So much more than I can put into words easily, but a really good, if different book.

*13. Conjure Women by Afia Atakora  Really good book that unfolds as it goes, jumping back and forth in time and filling in the story as it goes.  Rue and her mother Miss May Bell are both conjure women on a plantation, first as slaves, and then Miss Rue as a free woman, protecting their community of former slaves, but keeping the world out and their former mistress, Varina hidden and from knowing the war has ended.  The little boy Black Eyed Bean is central to the story, as is his father, Jonah (although we don't know the full impact of Jonah until the end), Bruh Abel, who not only gets Rue pregnant, but is the father of all of Sarah's (Jonah's wife) children, including Bean.  We eventually learn Sarah and Varina are half siblings and Varina's illegitimate child is the cause of the very wrongful death of Rue's daddy.  It is all so interwoven and healing, magic, faith, slavery, the Civil War and more intertwine throughout this book.  Almost a two star book for sure.

*14. Get your Life Back by John Eldredge  A Christian writer focusing on the ways our society, technology, and life steal our soul every day.  He talks a lot about social media and technology and gives practical ways we can reconnect to our soul and build our relationship with God.  The one second pause is something we should be doing throughout the day: giving everything and everyone over to God as we pause.He also really encourages getting out into nature and enjoying beauty and creation daily.  So much of what he writes is what we know, it is just a matter of really taking the time to unplug, focus on our relationship with our Heavenly Father and do more Soul Care rather than SELF care...self will always try to take over, but it is our soul we need to nurture.  Good book!

**15. Saints Everywhere by Mary Lea Carroll   This book was a quick read, but way more impactful than I would have thought.  Mary Lea has made it her hobby to travel to the shrines of female Saints when she is traveling.  She recounts visits to Medjugorje, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in NYC, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, Infant Jesus of Prague, and St. Teresa of Avila.  Her visit to Our Lady of Guadalupe, which seemed too overwhelming and too much at first left in me choked up.   Mary Lea obviously lives a very, very comfortable life, but her willingness to dig into her prayer life and her connection to these lady saints was very inspiring.

*16. The Conquest of the North and South Poles by Russell Owen (Landmark series)   Another good Landmark!   Russell Owen was on the expedition to Antarctica when Byrd first flew over the South Pole.  He was reporting back for the New York Times!   A really good account of the exploration, especially helpful as we studied Antarctica, as he has good descriptions of the different regions and the extreme measures the cold made them have to think through and survive. 

** 17. Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan   This books is well researched and, while considered a novel, it is definitely strong based in the true story of Pino Lella and of Italy, specifically Milan, during the end of WWII.   Pino is sent at 17 to Fr. Re, to be kept safe, but he ends up leading many expeditions of Jews over the mountains into Switzerland.  So many close encounters, avalanches, and local bullies...and that is just the start.  Pino eventually is forced to join the military and ends up being the driver to General Leyers, Hitler's top man in Italy.  Pino sees horrible atrocities and uses his information to report to the resistance, working as a spy, while his friends and brother think he is a Nazi.  There is so much heartache, as he watches his love, Anna, and his cousin, Mario both die on the same day, as the war is ending.  Too much to really summarize, but a very well done, gripping book, about an unsung hero in the 'forgotten front' of Italy.

*18. Frontier Follies by Ree Drummond   A light read that caught me up on things that have been going on with PW for the last decade or so, but also fills in more stories from her early married life, years of babies and her in-laws.  Her kids are all HS/college/beyond now, so it is wild to hear about things, especially since they were pretty little when I first started reading her blog.   I read this in about 24 hours and it was fun and frothy, with some sweetness thrown in!

*19. I Met a Traveller in an Antique Land by Connie Willis   Such an interesting little novella!   Jim is the writer of Gone for Good, a blog that suggests that things that are done away with by society do not need to be  mourned, as they are gone because they are no longer needed or useful.  He is going to be meeting with publishers to write a book, but ends up in Ozymandias Books, which seems to be a rare book store, but turns out to be a morgue for books that are no longer available...not in e-book, not in print.   They've been lost for many different reasons, over many centuries and it isn't until he can't find the 'store' again that Jim realizes what he witnessed.   Rows and rows and rows, stories and stories below street level in NYC and all of those hundreds, thousands, millions?  of books are no longer available to readers.  The novella is a huge slap to those librarians who toss books willy nilly, but will any of them realize it?

**20. Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell   This book is incredible.  I never knew Shakespeare had a son named Hamnet who died.  He wrote the play 4 years after the boy's death and this novel imagines the events that may have led to it.  It is especially fitting to read now, in that Hamnet dies due to the plague.  I'm not sure how to best describe the book, other than to say I learned more about Shakespeare's wife Anne (or Agnes), his children Susanna, Judith and Hament, his family, his in-laws, the life they all lived and his marriage than I have in all the plays I've read.  It was beautifully written, heartbreaking, and captivating!  So good.

*21. Reading Behind Bars by Jill Grunenwald   Overall a good read about a woman who graduates with her degree in library sciences, but can't find a job.  Finally gets one and it is in a prison.  Minimum security, all male in Ohio.  She shares stories of specific inmates and of her life during the 20 months she worked there.  Interesting, but some of her book and crazy cat lady references got a little old after a while.  It does make me think we should be donating soft cover books to libraries in prisons, when public libraries are done with them. No budgets and a population looking to read, they could use the books!

*22. Simon the Fiddler by Paulette Jiles   Simon is, in fact, a fiddler and we meet up with him at the end of the Civil War.  He gathers a few musicians and at a party sees a girl and falls in love.  The books is basically about him surviving and earning money to get on his feet, purchase land, make his way to Doris and convince her to marry him.  Along the way we see the devastation the war left in Texas, the challenges its many 'ownership' changes has left, yellow fever, rough, lawless towns and cities and more.  She is a writer that takes time to get into the story, but I've enjoyed both her books I've read.   And Captain Kidd's name shows up here too.

*23. The Sleeping Witness by Fiorella De Maria Father Gabriel lives in a monastery in England and we meet him shortly before two people are found attacked in a cottage near the abbey.  There is a dead body and an almost dead wife of the town doctor.  Lots of suspicion--is the doctor abusing his wife?  was she in the concentration camps?  was she in the resistance?  who is this artist?  why was he talking to her at the abbey's summer gathering?   In the end Fr. Gabriel solves it all, of course.  It wasn't as good as some mysteries I read, but it wasn't a bad read for a grey Sunday in Feb.

*24. Yardsticks by Chip Wood  A quick read about education in America.  The best part is when it is broken down by age (from 4-14) with a summary of development, curriculum, and skill sets for each age.  Good to revisit as each child enters/exits each year, as there are good ideas on what to focus on and what to let go of, as well as how to help them excel based on where they are developmentally.

*25. God King by Joanne Williamson  This is a Bethlehem Books living history book and it is a good read for anyone who likes ancient history, action, Egypt, and the Holy Land.  Set around 700 BC, we see how the newest Pharaoh is selected during the Kushite dynasty. He wears the double crown (Egypt and Kush) and is scheduled to be married to the high Priestess of Thebes.  The prince is then overthrown by his own half brother and while figuring out how to take back his kingdom he meets Sennacherib, the Assyrian king and Hezekiah, the Jewish one.  Solid historical fiction on a little known time period.

**26. Last Days of Night by Graham Moore   SUCH a fascinating novel.  Historical fiction used in the very best ways!   The story is told from the point of view of Paul Cravath, a new law school graduate who is hired by George Westinghouse to defend him from over 300 lawsuits that Thomas Edison has filed.  Tesla is also involved, first working for Edison, then for Westinghouse, then lost in his own mind and eventually installed back in his own lab.  So any interesting twists and turns, patent issues, major personality conflicts, JP Morgan and his money and how it influenced everything.  And this is all before Anne, a singer who is beloved in high society gets involved (to the point of eventually marrying Paul.)  Lots of the timeline is compressed, but the overall strength of the men: Tesla, the imaginative envisioner of things no one else can conceive of, Westinghouse, the practical lab man who can take ideas and bring them to market, improved and consistent and Edison, the grind it out, methodical inventor who obsesses about everything that doesn't work to the point that eventually he finds the one that does.   We also see their weaknesses, Tesla--lost in his mind, Westinghouse--not smart about patents and business and Edison--obsessive and ruthless.  A really great read on these men who changed the world and were lucky to not completely destroy each other and their companies in the process.

*27. Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn   This was the epistolary novel that was recommended by Eli on RA.  The background is that an island has a statue of the man who wrote "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog." and the tiles are falling off.  As they do the council is taking it as a sign that those letters shouldn't be used any longer. Anyone who does use them is beaten, banished or killed!   As you can imagine the letters being written get virtually impossible to read and the only way to save the few people left on the island is to develop a sentence with only 32 letters, but all 26 involved.  With three hours to spare, it is done!  Watching the overreach of the council, the worship of the sentence developer, and the way the society reacts is especially interesting in these times.

**28. The Gift of an Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison   This is a mother's memoir, written by the author of Mitten Strings for God.  It is a great book about walking through the time when children are getting close to launching.  Not being there yet, it was a great reminder that the time comes way quicker than you think.  And reading this during robotics really drove home that I need to stop pushing at least somewhat and let the kids lead.   They need to develop the skills and not just be dominated by a mother or coach that pushes too much.

*29.  Little Heathens by Mildred Armstrong Kalish   A memoir of growing up on a farm in Iowa during the Great Depression.  Lots of great stories of the Little Kids and Big Kids, their interactions with nature, with adults, with each other.  Recipes, good farm food and memories.  It was very enjoyable and while, her life was different than ours, it is edifying to see how much I know and my kids are learning that were a part of her lifestyle.

*30. The Mouse that Roared by Leonard Wibberley   What an interesting read, not like a typical one for me at all.  The tiniest country in the world (2 miles x 5 mile) has lost a lot of income to the US because a winery is ripping off their wine branding.  The don't know how to make more money so they decide to go to war with the US and then the US will give them money after they lose.   They don't know that the US has just built a crazy powerful bomb and has declared that everyone must go into hiding during drills. So, in 14th century war gear 20 guys show up, walk into an abandoned NYC and end up capturing the scientist and the bomb and going home. They won a war that it took the US a few weeks to know they were in.  The Tiny 20 (smallest 20 countries) make the big ones sign disarmaments, the Princess marries the leader of the troops, things get back to normal for this little country.

**31. Hard Times in Paradise by David and Micki Colfax   They became known for sending 3 of their 4 kid to Harvard after homeschooling them.  This is the story of them getting pushed out of academia, moving to a mountain in CA, living a crazy hardscrabble, primitive life on the edge and how they slowly built up their farm, how their boys moved forward and all about their lives, including how they were discovered by those who admired what their boys accomplished and wanted that for their kids.  Totally opposite politics, I believe, but a good homeschoolers story!

*32. Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster  Written 100 years ago, but still a sweet story!   Letters from a girl who is pulled from her orphanage and given the rare chance to go to college by an anonymous benefactor.  She is to write monthly, but never to expect a reply.  She meets a few gentleman while doing amazing at college, and falls for one of them, but eventually comes to find out that the man she loves is the benefactor, and after almost losing him to pneumonia they decide to spend their lives together!  

*33. Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk  This book made Ambre cry as she did a video about it, so I figured I had to read it!  Very lyrical writing that drew me in and definitely kept me reading.  Set in the depression, Ellie's family has fled to the mountain, where now her father lies in a coma after saving her as she saved her brother from a falling tree.  A hag, who turns out to be the nurse that used to treat her sister, a mandolin her mother never plays, that was made by the hag's son, the grandson who has left carved gifts for Ellie, the sister who is out of place and wishes to be back in town, the struggling mother, the little brother, the puppy she saved and will have to give up, the natural healing methods, the finding your path in is so good to see a well written, modern YA book!

*34. The Mouse on the Moon by Leonard Wibberley  The second in the series.  Now this tiny country has to figure out a way to get the princess a sable fur coat, so the prime minister decides to ask the US for a loan, but also to ask for money to use to get to the moon, although he plans to use the money to put in bathrooms instead.  The US needs to prove they want international cooperation in space (although they don't really) so they decide to give them $50 million, instead of 5M.  Turns out that is all they needed to beat Russia and USA to space, using nuclear power from some iron filings and a chemical from their wine.  Such a farce, but so much political history in these books too.  Entertaining reads that feel deeper than their almost nonsensical story line could ever appear.

**35. Rome Sweet Home by Scott & Kimberly Hahn   A great, easy read about the journey the Hahns went through as they went from being strong Protestants to strong Catholics.  I loved hear their family stories, and walking through their college years, early married years, Scott's deep dive that kept bringing him closer to becoming Catholic, even as he had spent years trying to keep people from going to Hell because they were Catholic.  The divide that their marriage had to endure as Kimberly didn't feel that she wanted to be Catholic, their time in Milwaukee, the advice to those of us who are cradle Catholics, and their down to earth, but world shaking strength of faith and the people they ended up bringing with them into the church.  It definitely gave me significant insight into what Catholics need to do better to be able to discourse with Protestants, and made me want to read more of their writings or listen to their talks.

**36.  The Testament of Theophilus by Leonard Wibberley.  This is a book I want to own.  Theophilus is who the Acts of the Apostles is written to, there is debate if he was a person or the name used because it means "lover of God."  In this historical fiction, Theophilus is a real person. He's a former slave who has become a business man. He pays off everyone and because of his position of buying all the grain from Egypt for Rome.  He sees the crucifixion, he sees the risen Jesus, and the story follows so much interesting history, as well as faith.   So interesting!

*37. When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed  A graphic novel about a Somalian boy and his brother in a refugee camp in Kenya.  Such a heartbreaking story of their many years in the camp, as they are watched over by their foster mother.  They know their dad died, but do not know what happened to their mother.  They wait and wait, hoping to go home.  They eventually realize that isn't an option and then hope for relocation to the US or Canada.  It takes years and years for anything to happen and holding on to hope through that is almost impossible, but somehow they do.  Eventually they come to the US, Omar graduates from Arizona, marries and now does work to help refugees.  They did eventually find their mother, who is still in the camp as of the writing of this book.

38. At Her Majesty's Request An African Princess in Victorian England by Walter Dean Myers   I thought this sounded fascinating and couldn't wait to read a biography on someone I'd never heard of.  However, this is a book that proves why living books are crucial.  Her story is wild, but the repetitive and bland writing didn't really make her story sing.   A princess is captured by King Gezo, a horrific tribe leader, as he destroys her village and kills her family.  At a ceremony that would involve sacrificing people to use their blood to wash his relatives graves, she is saved by a visiting British Commodore who is trying to get the king out of the slave trade.  He gives this princess to Queen Victoria.  When they return to England she is named Sarah (or Sally) and is raised by friends of the queen, while being watched over and tended to by the Queen.  She is educated in Africa for part of her life, returns to England, eventually marries (although she didn't want to) and dies at 38, leaving 3 children.  Her oldest daughter is named Victoria and the queen is her godmother, staying involved with the children through their lives too.

*39. Gift From the Mikado by Elizabeth P. Fleming  Such a neat book!   Elizabeth is the baby born to a missionary family in Japan.  This book talks about the adventures of her family before her birth and then for the time of her baby/toddlerhood before they came back to the US.   Such care between their servants and the family, such interesting connections they made with local people, including introducing the bicycle to that are of Japan.  Her father translated the Gospel into Japanese and taught English at the university, her parents throw a wedding for two of their servants, reunite one with her son, the kids have all kinds of adventures, including some very close calls while mountaineering.  Really enjoyed this one!

*40. The Spy Who Never Was Caught by Ronald Seth  I didn't find myself fully engaged with this book, but the story is pretty amazing.  Julius Silber was a German who, due to all the countries he'd lived in, was able to pass himself off as a French-Canadian and got a job in the Censorship office in London.  He spent his days reading letters and finding intelligence that he was able to smuggle to Germany (via New  York, usually.) His biggest challenge was avoiding getting sent into the service and he had to give himself meds to make it seem like he had a heart condition. He went back and forth and it was literally the day he was to report when the war ended. His spy activity was never caught!   His story is only known because he wrote a book about it, years later, but before he died.  He did eventually get back to Germany after the war, and died before Hitler came to power.  

*41. John Treegate's Musket by Leonard Wibberley    LOVED this historical fiction book!  This is a series (I've heard there are 7 total) that I definitely want to add to our library.   Peter is the son of John Treegate, a man who is loyal to the King, during the time leading up to the Revolutionary War in Boston.   Peter is apprenticed to a barrel stave maker, ends up seeing a murder, almost dying at sea, being adopted by a Scotsman, and after years is reunited with his father, who comes to see the King is no longer serving the people.   Well written, engaging, and historically fascinating!

**42.  Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie   Time for the yearly reading...odd, in that the school year is wrapping up, but still very much needed.   It isn't about checking boxes, it is about diligently working at the task before us.  It is about people before us, the task before us, and resting in our worth to God, as we pursue the good, beautiful and true with our family.

*43. Shadow of a Bull by Maia Wojciechowska   This was a Newberry winner in 1964, and I was lucky enough to read a hardback, signed, first edition copy.  Such a strong, sad, ultimately wonderful book about Manolo.  He is the son of the greatest bull fighter in Spain, from a little town, where now the whole town is waiting for this boy to take his father's place.   We see how the town has embraced him, but really only as the legacy his father left behind.   It is so rewarding to watch him becoming a man at the tender age of 11!

*44. The Geometry of Holding Hands by Alexander McCall Smith   This is the same author as #1 Ladies Detective Agency, but I didn't enjoy this as much.  It features a couple in Scotland, with two children, a nanny, a niece who wants the money from the trust, a deli and a fiance who is pretty sketchy,  The main character edits a philosophy magazine and often 'wanders' in her thinking, asking all kinds of moral and philosophical questions.  It just seemed a bit too forced at times or something, but there were also moments that were very good.

*45. Daughter of the Mountains by Louise Rankin  This was a Newbery Honor winner and I'm so glad we have it.  Momo is a girl who really knows how to pray for something and then completely trust it will work out.  She gets a dog from the finest pedigree that way, she also reclaims him after he is stolen by a caravan and taken to Calcutta to be sold.  She trusts that she will get him back, even if she has to cross mountain ranges all by herself (as a young girl) to do so.  And God watches over her, putting wonderful people in her midst!   Great story of Tibet, India, the culture and this amazing girl!

*46. The Tan-faced Children by Frank Calkins  This was a fun Western to read right before our trip, as it was based in Jackson's Hole! Clay Baker is a man who is looking to be wealthy and wants to work in a bank.  He gets that job, but after some things go wrong he ends up heading to Jackson's Hole. Clay hooks up with a mountain man and his Native wife and spends the winter there, where the man dies.  Lots of adventure, lots of hardship, but a good read in a genre I don't normally read.

*47. The Mouse on Wall Street by Leonard Wibberley Another book about the Grand Duchy of Fenwick.  This time they are trying to lose the $1M that they earned through the gum plant in the US.   They don't want it to change their way of life, but distributing it does.  The next payment is even bigger and they decide they need to have it disappear without hurting anyone, so the Princess tries to lose it in the stock market.  Things go horribly wrong and they end up $400M instead!  Love how these are such societal commentary, but wrapped in a fun story line.

*48.Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge  This was a blog rec and I thought I'd enjoy it, but it wasn't as great as I'd hoped. Libertie's mother is a physician and she expects that her daughter will follow in her footsteps.  Instead Libertie returns from college and marries the Haitian student that is working with her mother.  They immediately head to Haiti,but life isn't what Libertie expected at all.  The family is angry about him marrying her and life is complicated.  This is historical fiction, and it was good, but I didn't love it like I expected.

*49. Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and Scenic Driving Yellowstone and Grand Teton  I'm counting these as 1 book,  as I didn't fully read either of them, but most of both.  Such an amazing trip!

**50. God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew A really good read about the life of Brother Andrew and his work spreading the Gospel behind the Iron Curtain.  Lots of adventure, lots of close calls, but the heart of a missionary and God's hand is shown in it all.

*51. Helena by Evelyn Waugh  The story of St. Helen in a historical fiction novel that attempts to take all the legends and wave them into a story.  Her life, mother of Constantine, taken as a young bride from Britain, eventually becoming Christian and spending her older years trying to find the one true cross and building churches, is one crazy, amazing, remarkable story.  I'm not a huge fan of Waugh's writing style, but think if I read ore of his, I'd get into them more.

**52. Mustang Wild Spirit of the West by Marguerite Henry  I'd  never read this book by her, but just loved it.  It is much heavier than some of her others, but is a true story like so many others.  Wild Mustang Annie grew up loving the west, her Pa, and her husband, but most of all, loving the mustangs.  When she finds out they are being rounded up by plane and hurt terribly as they are sent to be ground up into dog food, she works hard to get laws passed in Nevada and eventually in Washington, D.C. that makes plane round ups illegal and protects the few mustangs that were still alive.  Graphic at times, but a great female heroine!

*53. The Latehomecomer A Hmong Family Memoir  by Koa Kalia Yang   REALLY good book.  I was curious to read this story of  Hmong family because of growing up in an area where so many were settled as they came to the US.  This book told the story of a people without a country.  They were first in China and pushed to Laos.  The US then used them during the Vietnam War, but when we left, they were people left without protection as the Vietnamese came in to massacre them.  They hid in the mountains for years, which is when Kalia's parents met.  They weren't really people who were well matched and if it wasn't for the war they most likely wouldn't have clung to each other.  They fled to Thailand with all his brother's and his mother and all made it across.  They spent years in the refugee camps there before they were brought to the US.  (Not long after the camps were closed and then the Hmong there were being killed by both Thailand and Laos.   The effort to make a way here in the US, the 300 grandchildren that her Grandmother descendants numbered, the devastation at the loss of her grandmother and the intense ceremony that is a Hmong funeral, it all read as a love letter to her grandmother, her culture and an introduction to a people who are trying to keep their culture strong, even as they continue to make a home for their people.

 **54. Midnight and Jeremiah by Sterling North  The sweetest story about a boy, his Grandmother and a little black lamb.   Grandma is a weaver of coverlets and quilts from the wool of their sheep, and the two of them take the quilts and lamb to the fair where they both win.   Little Midnight runs away when they get home and Jeremiah is wasting away, until a special Christmas surprise reunites them.  Very easy to read, great illustrations in the one from Edgerton and an all around great little book.

 *55. The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis   This was a great read that I've been meaning to read for a few years, but hadn't.  For RA I needed to read a book by an Inkling, so this was perfect timing.   It took a while to get into the idea that the Enemy was God, but once I got into that it was such a good read.  Screwtape is writing to Wormwood (he does sign the letters Uncle Screwtape) and it is basically coaching on how to deal with the man Wormwood is trying to get for the Devil.   The war is talked about, a woman he is falling in love with is discussed.  By using this device a ton of the pitfalls of faith are able to be discussed, you just have to keep flipping the good and evil.  Wormwood is destined for being eaten, since his guy died in faith and if your person doesn't get brought over to be eaten then you are.  

*56. Birdseye by Mark Kurlansky   A really good biography on the man who completely changed frozen food.  Clarence or Bob Birdseye was an amazing inventor, with patents on things ranging from light bulbs, to paper making processes to many things involved with flash freezing foods.  His life was full of adventure, living in Labrador, Gloucester, Puerto Rico, and many places in between.  His most 'calm' years were while raising his 4 children with his wife, but most of his life involved ideas, invention, hunting and eating anything and constant movement from idea to invention to business to sale.  He sold Birdseye and the frozen food patents for over $25 million in 1929, right before the market crashed.  The $1M that he took home definitely gave him comfort during the Depression when most were in really bad shape.  I really enjoyed this book, like so many other Kurlansky titles.

*57. The Artisan Kitchen (James) and Self-Sufficiency for the 21st Century by Dick and James Strawbridge  Since we love Escape to the Chateau, we looked for books by them.  These were both really well written, but I didn't fully read them so am counting them together.   

*58. Eggs & Poultry, Curing & Smoking, and Preserving by Dick & James Strawbridge Really good little books,  done before the other two.   Would be good for basic reference on lots of skills.

*59. My Years with Corrie by Ellen Stamps   I still haven't read The Hiding Place, but this books was a great little read,regardless.   Ellen spent 9 years with Corrie ten Boom, as her personal assistant, traveling companion and very much like a daughter.  The book was a lot about Ellen's journey, about Corrie herself and about faith first and foremost.  

*60. Two Old Women by Velma Wallis   I read this to see if I wanted to keep it and I do!   An Alaska Legend that reads like a real life story.  Two women are left by their starving tribe during the harsh winter, expected to die quickly, they decide to try to live.  They get to a place they remember from years  ago and survive the winter by trapping and working together.  Then they spend the summer stocking up like crazy on dried fish and other meat.   The tribe come and when they find them alive and well, while the tribe is again starving the tables have turned.  The women help the tribe survive, there is eventual reconciliation, and it is a well written story.

*61. The Book of Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin, Jr.   This may be one of the more bizarre books I've ever read.  Three different sections, two roosters (Chauntecleer and Cockatrice), Wyrm, love and hate, good and evil.   Total fantasy, which isn't my jam, but somehow I had to finish it.  The epic battle at the end was obviously coming throughout the whole book, although the story line wasn't always easy to follow as the author wove so many different epic writers, metaphors and characters throughout.  No doubt I missed the great majority of them!  Recommended by The Rabbit Room, read for the challenge.

*62. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley   What a delightful romp!  And who would say that about a murder mystery (actually 2 murders and 2 thefts) that involves a 12 year old detective who is put in very grave danger herself?  But really Flavia is so smart, so clever, and so brave---I think I'd like to be her when I grow up.  Her family is obviously still reeling from the death of her mother when she was a baby, Father is reclusive, three daughters are living in their own worlds (Flavia's world is her great uncles chemistry lab,  which she has put to amazing good use) and the war buddy living with them has obvious PTSD.   The man who died in their garden is just the start of seeing how resourceful Flavia is and I have a feeling there are more books that feature her that I should read!

*63. Hakon of Rogen's Saga by Erik Christian Haugaard   Loved this Viking tale!   A fairly quick read, but full of family, adventure, deceit, bravery, honor and more.  Hakon reclaims his birthright and avenges his father's death after his uncle and his stepmother's father ravage their land.   Great read for that time period or for anyone who loves adventure.

*64. The Curious Lobster by Richard W. Hatch  A bit of Wind in the Willows, a bit of Thorton Burgess...Lobster is 68 years old and meets Badger and Bear.  This story follows their adventures as they do all kinds of curious things.  Light reading, a bit funny, a lot of goofiness and a good bit of nature study thrown in too.

*65. The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee   Such a good book!  Historical fiction about a Chinese girl, living in the south, who makes hats. She is fired and ends up working back at the family's house that she used to be a stable girl.  She is now hired to be a ladies made to their spoiled daughter.   She's been raised by Old Gin (who she later finds out is her grandfather) who works as a groom.   The book involves votes for women, a horse race, finding out who her parents are, having their home underneath a local print shop discovered, a low life who causes all kinds of issues and more.  Lots about the racism of the post reconstructionist era and what it was like for Chinese, who were neither black, nor white and found themselves lost in the middle of the race issues.  In the end there is a lot to celebrate (her and Sweet Potato winning the big race, finding love, a peace about her family, and more) and all in all in just a good read.

*66.  Grizzlies in their Back Yard  by Beth Day   A very interesting story of Laurette and Jim Stanton, two people who moved to the wilds of Canada and spent their life among the wild animals and Native peoples.  They trapped, logged and did whatever they could to make enough money to buy their winter supplies, but they also lived on what they could fish, hunt or gather.   Jim did a lot of guiding, helping many people bag trophy grizzlies.  He selected the old boars and, as many areas were getting rid of bears during this time period (book was written in the 60s) he really was living among some of the few remaining grizzlies at that time. Entertaining overall.

*67. Live Not by Lies by Rod Dreher  A very interesting book!   He interviews people who survived communism and totalitarianism to learn how it started, how they survived and how it relates to today.  The book came about because a 90 year old woman said she saw all the signs here in America of what happened to her in Europe.  This is a soft version though, with the culture not only moving that way, but many people embracing it without realizing that they are trading their freedom for comfort.  He focuses on what Christians need to do (small groups, focus on the family, be willing to die for their faith and truth) and what it will take to live in truth during these times and those to come.

*68. Stars over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner   A sweet historical fiction about two women who become best friends while working in Hollywood on the set of Gone With the Wind.  Their male friend, Bert, who is in love with Audrey eventually falls in love with Violet and marries her.  There are lots of secrets, including a stolen hat from the set, a baby who Audrey births, but is raised by Violet and Bert, the inability to have children that Violet never shares with Bert until well after they are married, and so much more.  A good, fast read.

*69.The Lost Queen of Egypt by Lucile Morrison   This was a reprint that PHP did.  The book is big, beautiful and heavy for its size.   The story is equal to the quality of craftsmanship.   I learned so much about ancient Egypt, the family dynasty that eventually led to the king we know as King Tut, and his wife. (really the story is about her, her childhood, her family and after his death, her future...)  Highly recommend for ancient Egypt studies.

*70.  Home Fires by Julie Summers (Originally published as Jambusters)   This is the non fiction book about the Women's Institute in England and all their work during WWII.  The book eventually led to the BBC series Home Fires which was cancelled after 2 seasons, after leaving us 12 wonderful episodes and the biggest cliffhanger!   The work that the ladies of the WI did is just jaw dropping and the fact that they came before and are still in existence is just amazing.   They collected all the things, knitted all the things, housed the displaced children, made jam fro the gleaned fruit, grew and preserved food, and also educated themselves on all manner of topics.   Truly an awesome organization  that cut across society levels and gives women a place to learn and grow together, as well as support each other as friends.

*71. The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma   The story of a girl and her father who keep a reading streak going for YEARS.  It is also a memoir of her being raised by a single father, her love of books, his career as a librarian and the downfall of reading in his library as computers come in and the school makes him stop reading aloud to the kids.  I really enjoyed this and feel like she and her father are RA members in disguise :)

*72. So Brave, Young and Handsome by Leif Enger   I really enjoyed this book, although it was very different than most I read.  The main voice is a postman, turned author who had a huge hit with his first book. He's been trying and failing to write a second when a stranger, Glendon, appears.  Monte goes off with Glendon to find Blue, the woman he deserted as he ran from the law.   Siringo is the man chasing him and the way the three of them, along with Hood Roberts all journey together and separate, the killing of Hood, the sheer tenacity of Siringo, the finding of Blue and her new husband, and the reuniting of Monte with his family when he sends for them to come west to just all works.  Lots of heartbreak, lots of honor, lots of deep friendships in the most unlikely places.

*73. One Year After by William R. Forstchen  This is the follow up to One Second After, the book that I still think about so many years later.  It picks up a year after the other one ends, which is 2 years after the EMP.  Our hero, John is still basically leading his community and they are working hard to continue a path back to life, almost ready to have limited electricity, having established a bit of a phone system and no longer starving.  The US government is trying to regroup, or so they are saying. A new force of barely trained people is being used to bring everyone under their control or be killed.  There is a ton of action again, they discover some of the people they had cut themselves off from are actually allies in this new fight and the book ends with a heavy foreshadowing of another book that will involved John needing to lead a rebel force to take back the country.   Good, but not nearly the impact that the first one had because it breached such new ground and hit so close to home.

*74. The Saucepan Journey by Edith Unnerstad   A sweet story of a big family that has no room where they live.  Dad is an inventor of many things, but the Peep is his biggest success.  It is a pan that can cook 3 things at once, won't burn anything and lets out a very loud peep when things are cooked.  They inherit a pair of draft horses and wagons, make them into a sleeping car and a travel car and head out to the country and back to the mom's hometown.  There is fun adventure, description of Sweden and even a mystery that gets solved by the fun loving children.  Great little book!

*75.The Final Day by William R. Forstche  The conclusion of the series.John's good friend and college, Bob Scales is sent by the 'government' to bring him into line and/or kill him.  Their friendship is tested, John and his pregnant wife are burned out of their home in an attempt to kill them, and things get pretty crazy overall.  As you'd hope, the end allows for a beginning to a way back to a real United States, but before you get there it is discovered that a couple of thousand people are being well fed and cared for in a massive underground bunker from Cold War days.  The strongest book is definitely the first one, but the series is good---stressful, heartbreaking, intense, but a worthy read.

**76. The Power of Moments by Chip Heath and Dan Heath   SUCH a good book!   Lots of examples and discussion about why certain moments have such huge impact in our lives along with ways to use those principles to make impact when we need to.  Ideas like breaking the script, building peaks, tripping over the truth, stretching for insight, recognizing people, leveling up (to have more milestones to  reach and celebrate), practicing courage,creating shared meaning, deepening ties and making moments matter are the heart of the way to do so.  Moments can be about elevation, insight, pride or connection and the more we feel those moments, the more we can make changes in our lives.   The moments happen to everyone, whether by random circumstance or more manufactured, but it is the action that comes because of those moments that helps us change our lives and the world around us.  Definitely has impact when it comes to parenting, coaching, and leading people and is worth a reread!

*77. Love Centered Parenting by Crystal Paine   Money Saving Mom wrote yet another book :)   I do think this one is good for me to read, as I struggle with the rule following/obedient type of parenting and this is her discussion of going from that to one that is more focused on relationships and walking with a child vs. constantly correcting them.   I do think it is worth reading again at some point and I do want to work on being a safe place for my kids instead of always feeling like I am pushing and disciplining.  

*78.  Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmull  A really good leadership book by the man who helped develop and form Pixar.  So many great things to think  about including protecting the new, encouraging candor, empowering creative people, how ideas are the lifeblood, but they come from people---great people will have great ideas.  

**79. As Nature Made Him by John Colapinto This book made me so angry and heartbroken!   The story of identical twin boys, who at 8 months went to be circumcised.  The doctor ended up burning the penis of Bruce so badly that it fell off.  His very young parents eventually found Dr. Money at Johns Hopkins and he suggested that they turn him into a girl--Brenda.   Dr. Money is the man who literally named gender identity and is still considered the 'father' of gender studies.  His methods were and are shocking and the torture so many kids have been put through in the name of following him is disgusting.  He lied in all the publishing he did when it came to Brenda. Eventually this child refused to visit him again and transitioned to David, the boy he always knew he was, even as he had no idea of what had happened to him as an infant.  He is married, but the scars of what Dr. Money did to him, his family, and so many others are a huge part of the issues we have today when it comes to what people accept when it comes to gender.

*80. The FIVE dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni   A really quick read that was really well done.  It was written as a story/parable and talked about what it takes to get a team to work well together.  Absence of Trust, Fear of Conflict, Lack of Commitment, Avoidance of Accountability and Inattention to Results are the 5 things, arranged in a pyramid.  

*81. What?   by Mark Kurlansky   An ENTIRE book that is written only in interesting. I was impressed with how many of the literary discussion I could follow and understand.  There was one, one word declarative sentence in the book.   Was it worth it?  Would you agree if I said yes? 

*82. The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni  Another one by him, parable style, but about the specifics of individuals who make good team players.  They boil it down to being hungry <--taking on extra, pushing things forward, motivated, humble <--not afraid to share credit, aware of shortcomings, not overly self depreciating, knows what they bring and what they need to improve on, and smart <---not about intellectual smarts, but closer to emotional intelligence, aware of how to work with people and how they are perceived, good people skills, etc.   Another good read!

*83 & 84. Miss Buncle and Miss Buncle Get Married by D.E. Stevenson A wonderful old fashioned set of books, that have stood the test of time.  Miss Buncle needs money so writes a book about the people of her town, they discover it is them and get very upset, but no one suspects she is John Smith!   In the end she falls in love with her editor and marries him, needing to move and start over as the second book comes out because it will out her as the writer.  Gets Married is a wonderful continuation of her story, with her new home, new friends and a new outlook on life as a wife.  Charming, funny, and very fun if you are into the interactions between people.

**84. Dark Pilgrim by Feenie Ziner  This was such a great book to read!   I got it through ILL and actually called to see if we could buy it :)   It was a so much more than the typical book about the pilgrims and Squanto.  I had no idea how much he'd been back and forth between Europe and how many times he was enslaved or in service.  It was heart wrenching, but also good to read a more thorough history of someone who had such a strong impact as European settlement came to our country.

*85.Nature's Second Chance by Steven I. Apfelbaum  Such a neat find from the Little Free Library at NATC.   Stone Prairie Farm is near Juda and this is the story of how Steven bought it and restored it to real prairie.  He discusses so much about land use, watersheds, how the land can recover from monocropping, and more.  I'd love to go visit the prairie sometime, and it is is just cool to have it be so local to us.

**86. The Giver of Stars  I really loved this book!  It is historical fiction about the horseback librarians in rural Kentucky.  This mixes in a girl from England who married the local mine owner's son, but doesn't fit in and hasn't consummated their marriage, get beat up by the father and eventually finds the love of her life, the local 'shiner's daughter who has grown up to do her own thing and won't participate in the blood feud her family has been in forever, and more.  Mines, education, independent women, librarians, and more.  Well done, even as it glorifies some things I'm totally not in favor of.  Overall a really good read!

*87. The Outermost House by Henry Benston   This is a reprint of a book first published in 1928!   He went to the beach for the summer and stayed for an entire year.  His cottage is on the far bank of Cape Cod and this is basically his nature journal of the season, the tides, the ship wrecks, the birds, and all his musings about a year in nature with somewhat limited contact with people, other than the shore patrol.  I was somewhat distracted while reading it, so I'd like to read it again at some point.  

*88. When the Dikes Broke by Alta Halverson Seymour   A quick read, but such a good story!  This book was written in the 50s, just 5 years after the event really happened.  It follows a family on the night the Dikes broke, we see them trying to hang on to their roof, some of them taking a boat out, how some are rescued, some seem lost, them watching neighbors be swept away and more.  There is daring helicopter rescues, resiliency of facing the daunting tasks of rebuilding the dikes immediately and the longer task of cleaning up, fixing the soil from all the silt and salt, tensions between a son's dream and a father's expectation, a family working together, and more.  Definitely a good books for the late elem-MS crowd.

*89. Six Seasons A New Way with Vegetables by Joshua McFadden   A beautiful book that focuses on eating seasonally.  He breaks it into 6 seasons because he wants people to focus on eating the most 'in season' vegetables the right way, so we can really appreciate how delicious they are.  Perfectly in season you don't even need to cook them, including winter squash!  Almost none are AIP, but they are sure pretty!

*90. The Indigo Girl by Natasha Boyd  An interesting historical fiction about the real life "Indigo Girl," Eliza Lucas, who in 1739 was left in charge of three plantations while her father pursued his military career in Antigua.  She is sixteen, her mother wants to go back to England, her brothers are at boarding school in England and her little sister is her responsibility to teach as well.  She dives into Indigo as a possible way to get their properties free of the mortgages that her father has put on them.  There is slavery, a childhood friend from Antigua who has knowledge of Indigo making, jealousies, meeting her future husband, who is about twice her age, years of failed crops, persistence, and more.  She does eventually succeed and South Carolina's flag is blue because of how big their indigo crop got, all thanks to her early efforts.  The book was a bit too much about the possible romance between her and her childhood friend, who was a slave and her interest in her future husband.  Her story is good enough without all the extras, and I wish the author had toned that down, but overall it was interesting to learn about this amazing young woman!

*91. The Tangled Skein by Alva Halversn Seymour   I was not as into this book, it felt a little too overly emotional or something.  It focuses on a Norwegian family that was scattered throughout WWII.  They are all making their way back to their village, but there is a lot of drama over who were loyal to Norway and who were actually working with the Nazis.  Herr Larson is the town's lawyer and has spent years convincing everyone that the Strand family are all disloyal,  in order to cover his own nefarious deeds.  Eventually everything gets worked out, but it feels like each family member has to go through distrust of not only the town, but the family and there is constant drama over how to prove their loyalty.

*92. The Vanderbeekers Make a Wish by Karina Yan Glaser  The 4th Vanderbeeker book, this one about planning Papa's birthday.  We listened to all of them, but this one we all had to read because there was no audio book in the system.  Grandma and Grandpa (mom's side) show up, which isn't fun for the family--at the same time the kids start learning about Pop-Pop (dad's side) who died before they were born.  Papa is in Indiana with his friends, as his mother just died, but then a tornado hits  and he isn't going to make it home for his birthday, but everything comes together for them to start out on a road trip, picking him up on the way.  The road trip (including the van) was originally planned by Pop-Pop to celebrate Papa's college graduation, but then he died the night before, so this is going to be a way to celebrate Papa's birthday and get to know Pop-Pop better too.

*93. Blaze of Light by Marcus Brotherton  This is the true story of Gary Beikirch.  He is a Green Beret Medic who was in Vietnam.  While there he worked with a few other special forces to train and protect a village of about 2300 women and children.  They were attacked in a huge, on going battle where he saw many of those villagers he cared for blown up.  Even though he was shot multiple times he was able to continue working to save others.  His reentry into society was really rough, lots of searching, lots of drugs, lots of trying this or that and nothing working.  He did eventually find the peace he was looking for through his relationship with God, his wife and family and more.

*94. Mental Lithium, Love and Losing My Mind by Jaime Lowe  Such an interesting book that really sucked me in.   Jaime was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after a manic episode in high school.  She's been on lithium since, other than one attempt to come off which resulted in another manic episode and her coming off it due to health reasons 24 years later. The book is her story from high school until present complete with all the wild stories of her manic episodes.  It is also a history of mental health treatment and an investigation of lithium--where it comes from, how it was discovered to be useful for mental health and the damage it can also cause.  

*95. The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch   Such a good little book.   He is real about where his family has done well and where they fall short of his suggestions, but overall each chapter is very readable, very doable and obviously connects to the bigger goals he and his wife set for their family.  He covers everything to why families should sing together (and why worship by watching isn't enough), how to build your living space into one that encourages creativity and connection vs. technology, the idea of 'easy everywhere' that technology give us and how that takes away the struggle that makes us fully human.   Lots of good research in the book, and overall such an empowering little volume.  

*96. Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin  I watched a zoom call with Smitten Kitchen and others talking about Laurie so wanted to read some of her writings.  She was a food writer in Gournet, but she wrote about low brow, home cooking in a tiny apartment in NYC.  Doing dishes in the bathtub,  having only a hot plate and no oven and other challenges didn't stop her from having dinner parties!   The essays were good, interesting, but not something life changing for me.   Could it be that the plethora of food blogs and food writing makes it less easy to see the magic of the time she represents?

*97. The Dolphin Crossing by Jill Paton Walsh   A great little elem/MS story about two boys during WWII in England.  They meet because one is being teased, as he is a refugee from London in a sea side town.  They work hard to fix up a stable for him and his step mother to live in, getting it finished and moved in the day before the baby is born. While the birth is happening the boys sneak off with the boat and become a part of the Little Ships evacuation of Dunkirk.  Some of it is a bit disjointed, the ending is hard to accept, but it definitely gives a taste of the adventure and horror of the days of Dunkirk.

*98. Alvin's Secret Code by Clifford B. Hicks   Such a delightful little adventure book for elementary aged kids.   Alvin is trying to be a secret agent and is lucky enough to be taught about codes and ciphers by a neighbor who was a spy.  As he learns codes and saves his dad money by figuring out a store's code, he also comes upon a big mystery that needs solving.   His ability to solve codes find the treasure that saves the orphanage, and the cipher that they developed with their neighbor saves them from being held hostage too.   So much great info and a fun adventure too!

*99. A Big Storm Knocked It Over by Laurie Colwin   Read this as it was one of only two books by this woman who wrote for Gourmet.  This is a fictional book that was written right before she died.  Jane Louise Parker is a book design her who has recently gotten married.  The book focuses on her and her husband, as well as her best friend and her soon to be husband, their pregnancies, their careers and has an obsession with dysfunctional family dynamics, broken families, being settled versus never fitting in, lots about food, and a constant refrain of marriage,  sex, what I would consider inappropriate interactions with her boss, general dysfunction in careers and more.  While this sounds harsh, it was a good read, but definitely a few themes that felt beat to death.


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Pork Purchase 2020

 Here's the update for this year's pig!

Pork Shoulder Picnic Roast 4, 15 pound

Pork Steak 2, 8 pounds

Pork Chops 12, 27 pounds

Hock 4, 10 pounds

Jowl 2, 4 pounds

Ham 4, 31 pounds

Ham Slices 6, 12.5 pounds

Neck bones 4, 4 pounds

Loin Roast 2, 8 pounds

 Butt Roast 5, 15 pounds

Country Ribs 2, 4 pounds

Side Pork 2, 21 pounds

Ground Pork 14 pounds

Liver 3, 4 pounds

Fat 16 pounds

I came up with 193 pounds, but the sheet says we had 199 pounds dressed.  Sorgs included the bladder for the kids again too.  Not sure why we didn't get spare ribs...most weights very similar to last year.

Costs to Sorgs: $75 butcher, $.65/lb cut, wrap and freeze, $10 hide disposal (new), $20 trucking for a total of $234.35.  Butcher was $55 last year and no hide fee, trucking went $5 too.  Two years ago butcher fee was $40, so major change in 2 years in  labor costs, the cut, wrap, freeze charge was the same last year, but that year was a big increase from 2018.

Costs to Ibelings: $150 

Total spent: $384.35

Total weight: 199 pounds        

So $1.93/pound for everything.

Removing fat and liver:  $2.14/pound


Sunday, June 21, 2020

Meat Chickens 2020

Well, it is an odd year, but what isn't odd is that we need some meat in our freezer.  Our meat chickens from the fall are just about gone and there are meat disruptions in the world, so we decided to do a spring batch and a fall batch this year.

The spring batch breaks down as follows:

30 birds ordered, 31 delivered, 29 made it to butcher day.  The other two died at about 3 weeks when there was a cold snap and they were smothered.

We started just before 7 and were done by 9.  I got it all fussed over, cleaned up and done-done well before noon.  It was so smooth and FAST this year.  Levi, Garrett and Evan did the hatcheting, Dad did the plucking, Marcee, me, Anna, and Kelby did the eviscerating.  Augie Walsh came and learned and did a little gutting too.

Roasting birds: 161 pounds
Offal: 3 lbs, 4 oz gizzards, 3 lbs, 9 oz livers, 1 lb, 4 oz hearts
Total weight: 169 pounds

Breakdown:  $1.45/pound (meat only), $1.38/pound (includes offal)

Next up:  50 birds coming at the end of July!

Second Batch:    This was one really odd group.  We ordered 50, counted multiple times, but only had 45 in the box.  Then FIVE DIED...3 in one day!   And somehow we ended up with 45 birds at the end.  Obviously, we miscounted, but after counting like 5 times I don't see how that is possible.  This batch also had a runt that stayed tiny FOREVER.  It did finally grow, but it was so weird.  Costs break down as follows:

Butchered 20 birds at 8 weeks exactly.  They gave us a total of 114 pounds  on the carcass, 2 lb, 6 oz of liver, 1 lb hearts, 1 lb, 13 oz gizzards.

Butchered 25 birds at 10 weeks.  They gave us a total of 168 lbs with 2 lb, 12 oz of liver, 1 lb hearts, and 3 lb gizzards.  

Total 45 birds with 282 lbs, 5 lb, 2 oz liver, 2 lb hearts, and almost 5 lb gizzards.

Expenses totaled $470 for all of them.  I fed these just regular food from Farm & Fleet and with the costs involved, it turns out that soaking organic food isn't any more expensive.   It was amazing how fast they ate through their food and it didn't increase their size.  We ended up with the largest right over 8 pounds, the smallest was less than 5 lbs in the 8 week bunch.

I also got 2 birds from Wundrows, through someone they knew in Chicago.  Those two just lived with the others and then hung out in the tractor growing until it was getting too cold.  I have no idea how old they were, but they were huge.  Both were over 8 lbs and that was with skinning them, cutting off wings and tails.  Basically, they were the size of turkeys!