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Hi! My name is Bethany...I am a born again Christian, and a homeschooling mom who is somehow fortunate enough to be married to the sweetest man in the world... I have five kids that some days drive
me crazy and other days are sweet little angels. I'm sure you other moms out there can relate! My husband's name is James and my kids are Caleb (10), Bonnie(9), and Noah(5), Ian (1), and Annah (born
August 4, 2011). I also have 2 precious blessings who are now in Heaven. You can see a little bit about who I am at my about the artist
page on my drawing site. I've been married since 1998. I love every moment of being a mom, and as you can probably tell from my blog, I just love arts and crafts of any kind! Please feel free to
post a comment to let me know you were here! It always makes my day to hear from someone! Thank you so much for visiting my blog!
^^ Noah, holding one of our ducklings. ^^
For the longest time, I have wanted milk goats. I think I even blogged about this years ago. I want to be able to have fresh milk to give all of the kids, especially the babies who drink so much milk all of the time. I just hate the thought that I do not know what is in our milk from the store. Plus, I think raw milk is just better for you.
We don't have enough room for any cows, but definitely can afford to take care of goats.
I kept searching Craigslist, but couldn't find any goats in milk. And any of the ones I did find were really, really expensive.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine from my local MOPS group (Mothers of preschoolers), told me she had a friend who was selling two goats- one who was currently pregnant, and the other was in milk....for only $150.00 each. One was a Toggenburg, and the other was a Saanen. I was ecstatic and picked them up that very day!
^^ In milk^^
I was able to get three to four quarts a day from the Toggenburg. This is perfect for us! And the milk is delicious- and in my opinion, tastes better than store bought milk. There have been about two times that the milk has had a slight "goaty" aftertaste- but REALLY mild. The rest of the time, it just tastes like milk, and you can't taste a difference. It's SO good. The kids love it. I love being able to give it to them. And I love saving the money! We were buying a gallon of milk every 1-2 days, and that adds up!!
Our Saanen goat had her baby about 5 days ago. The baby is beautiful....so sweet. Took to nursing right away and is very healthy. This was the goat's "first freshening", and she did wonderfully. The birth was very quick and easy. No problems at all.
Here is a video of right after she had the baby- Annah was very impressed!
Two days later, I noticed our Nubian goat that we have had for a few years....she looked like she was about to have a baby.
Honestly, we had thought for the longest time that she was infertile- because it had been so long and she never had had a baby. And since we never had a calculated breeding, but she lived with our billy goat, we had no way to know she was pregnant before that- because you really can't tell on a goat until they're about to have their baby. Most of the time, anyway. But I was leaving our driveway, looking out, and I noticed that our nubian had AWFULLY huge udders and was sort of hunching over. I thought, "She's going to have a baby!"....so we went and got her a collar so we could transfer her to the fence with the other moms. By the time we got back home, she had HAD her surprise baby! WOW. Now, I had three nanny goats, instead of just one- and two bucklings!! And the nannies will all be able to produce milk for us.
The Saanen goat, (I should mention, her name is "Valentine"), had uneven udders because the kid was only eating from one side every day- so we were able to get about a quart or two per day from her, just from the one side. That was awesome. But eventually, the kid started eating from both sides, and I stopped milking her for now. I only had wanted to relieve her engorgement.
The nubian (her name is "Skittles" or "Sparkles", depending on which person you ask), was not nursing her baby at all for a while. The first morning when I came to check on the poor buckling, he was skin and bones, and laying down as if he were dead. The mother seemed as if she wanted to do something with him, but when he would go up to her udder, she would kick him. So I decided to bottle feed him. I started milking her to give the milk to him. I got about 2 quarts a day from her in this time.
Bottle feeding him was NOT easy. He did not know how to suck. He would lay there, as if he were lifeless, and I would hold the bottle up to the side of his mouth and basically pour the warm milk into his mouth. About a cup per feeding- four times a day. For three days this continued.
I thought i was going to have to do this every day for the next two months.
You can see a video of one of my attempts to feed him here:
But on the fourth day, (by the time I was considering using a feeding tube/syringe) I walked up to the shed to see a wonderful sight- there was Skittles the Nubian, feeding her baby boy herself. And he was really eating away too, very enthusiastically! Now, instead of laying under the heat lamp all day and appearing limp and lifeless, he is a very healthy, energetic little buckling. I am very thankful.
So we had gotten up to 6 quarts a day at one point, but now are back to about 3-4 per day, until the baby goats are weaned, which should be in a couple of months. I really look forward to that time, because we could end up getting up to 3 gallons per day, if the other two will one day milk as good as our Toggenburg (Elizabeth). Then we can venture into cheese and soap making.
We just bought two more baby doelings and they are just precious! We bought them for our billy goat, so he wont be lonely and can breed them once they are old enough. Our Billy goat (Houdini):
These goats are weaned, but one of them (the littler one) likes to use a bottle as a treat. Check out this video of her absolutely loving the bottle:
Just some pictures of some of our animals this year!
We will also be getting honeybees in a couple of weeks- James is ready for them.
We have two boxes set up, and are doing our research! And I am so glad that one of my blog readers is a beekeeper- Warren, who runs "My Home among the Hills" blog, has a lot of great info on raising bees for honey. I am sure we will have our share of stings and trial and error experiences, but I hope we will be successful!
Have you ever just felt so happy because you accomplished something new and now feel like you can do almost anything? That's sort of how I felt after James and I grew our own pigs, then processed them ourselves.
We bought the pigs in Early April of last year. (They were about 20 pounds when we first purchased them.) We let them graze on our acre of fenced in land, so they were almost completely grass fed (with the exceptions of the scraps we fed them). We would have had all of this meat in the freezer by December, but we ended up getting sick for a while and we just couldn't get around to it.
So a week ago, we finally decided to just go for it. We bought all the supplies and got started. We had a scale- each pig was about 140 pounds after they had been cleaned. So before, they were probably 160-180 pounds each!
Once we got started, I was a little intimidated. After all, that is a LOT of work. But you know what? We figured it out and got it done! I had watched about 20-30 different youtube videos, and read articles for several months before we finally got started- so I had an idea of what had to be done.
James took care of killing the pigs (very humanely)- thank goodness. I think that would have been hard for me, but you never know. Maybe I could do it one day.
The worst part (and most smelly) was getting the fur off the pig. I admit, it's kind of yucky and I honestly thought, "There's edible meat in this?"...the smell was just gross. lol You have to boil water and pour it on the body- this opens the pores, I guess, and releases the hair, which you can then scrape off with the edge of a blunt knife. Since I was new to this, that part took me about 3 hours to finish with the first hog. With the second, it only took about an hour to an hour and a half. Once it was done, it made the rest of the process much easier.
The videos make cutting the sections of the ham look super easy....like cutting through butter, but it's not quite that easy. Especially cutting through certain bones with the meat saw manually. But it happened! I butchered most of the meat, but had to get James to help me saw through many of the harder sections.
Look at what we got done.
I had about 12 pounds of meat with which to make sausage. Someone was kind enough to let me use her manual meat grinder, and when Noah saw it, he begged me to let him grind the sausage. I chopped it into 1 inch bits, and he ground it. Five pounds all by himself! The next day, Bonnie ground seven pounds, just to beat his record. We made all sorts of delicious sausage from it.
See how he made a face in it? lol. He's a goof.
In this batch, we put maple syrup, cayenne, crushed red pepper, thyme, sage, nutmeg, and ginger into the sausage and mixed it up.
Then we tried it, and were AMAZED. It is the best sausage we have ever had. Seriously. I never want store bought again. The flavors were rich and the meat was very tender.
I cut these pork chops while James was at work, and I thought my shoulder was going to give out on me after it was over. It was so much work! (The meat saw I had was too big for me to use correctly). But let me tell you, after tasting the results, it was DEFINITELY worth it.
I soaked some of them in italian dressing and let them soak for a while, and when James came home, we grilled many of them.
I literally could not believe pork could taste like this. It was spectacular. The kids loved it too. If only more pork chops could come out of a pig, because that was the best part, without a doubt.
Here are two hams salted and ready to be shelved. The hams have to be cured for 6 weeks or so.
This is me salting the bacon, with salt, cayenne, and brown sugar.
After a week or so, this is what it looked like:
And this is what it looked like fried up.
I love being able to provide nutritious, home grown food for the family. We are just new to this and learning but it feels wonderful knowing exactly what foods the pig ate, what kind of life it lived, what kind of things it was injected with, etc. I can be sure that what they are eating is good for them. This week we will be getting five new piglets.
For the first time today, my children actually got to witness an ultrasound of the new baby!! They have never gotten to experience that before, as in doctor's offices, children are not usually welcomed (at least, in my experience). I was offered an ultrasound by some very kind ladies at a local pregnancy center! The children got to see the baby jumping inside my tummy, punching and kicking, and even rolling his or her little toes against the womb. They talked about it the whole way home, especially Caleb.
Oh this last month and the last have been crazy...not just with sickness, but also with just having so much to do, so many places to go!
All of the month of December, our family went through some sort of awful sick bug. I don't know what it was, but we had tests done and it wasn't the flu. It caused everyone to go through a lot of lung congestion, sinus pain and pressure, ear infections, fevers and chills, and Ian even came down with a little bit of pneumonia (which didn't last long, due to the antibiotics he got before it got too bad). And of course, as I posted in my previous blog post, Annah ended up with a seizure, which scared us pretty badly! We weren't really sick all year (save for some minor one or two day colds) until December came around.
Fortunately, everyone is feeling 100 percent better now....and I'm just so thankful to be over that mess. Whatever it is, it seems like it was EVERYWHERE. My facebook page was continually flooded with different people from around America talking about their different experiences with the flu, strep throat, pneumonia, you name it. 2012 was a really bad year for sickness!
Anyway, after that was all over, I was able to begin some projects - I have had so many orders coming in , I wasn't sure if I would have time to finish them all...and I had to postpone some of them till later.
Here are just a few of the things I did in December- January (there is one big one I want to post about, but can't until after Feb 6!):
These I got done just in the nick of time before Christmas- it was a gift for a friend...all of her grandsons. : )
I will be doing four portraits of this man.
This one was a commission I succeeded in getting done in time for Christmas!
Commissioned portrait of a cute little boy:
Below are three pictures of a mural I am currently working on. It's in a pool hall...Minnesota fats vs dogs playing pool.
When I walked away from this painting for a moment, Annah picked up the paintbrush and helped me. lol My little budding artist!
Here is another angle of this one, when it was getting closer to being finished. I still have work to do!
This is an ornament I painted in December:
A commissioned painting of a man with ducks.
A commissioned baby portrait:
In the pool hall, where I am painting the mural mentioned above, I was also commissioned to paint the words "6 Pockets" on 22 different lights, in calligraphic font -back and front- along with numbering them 1-22. It was time consuming but it was a great job to get.
I drew this for a friend of mine who unfortunately lost her husband to cancer a couple of weeks ago:
There are more, but hopefully this will explain why I barely ever post on my blog anymore! It's just so hard to find the time, with homeschooling and doing all of these projects too.
I hope that everyone has had a great January so far! I can't believe it's almost February- the time just flies too fast! I am already in my second trimester of pregnancy. The next baby will be walking around with the other kids before I know it!
This morning, at about 8:00, I was in my bedroom, and Bonnie was holding Annah. She said, mom! Come quick,..Annah is doing something strange...she keeps jumping and won't stop!
I ran into the room and picked her up immediately....she was convulsing in a consistent and rhythymic fashion, and her eyes were rolled back in her head, and she was gasping every time she convulsed.
I yelled, she's having a seizure! And then I panicked, because I have never experienced this before....her seizure lasted about 2-3 minutes from the time I saw her doing it...I don't know how long it lasted total.
Later, I found out that Bonnie had seen her have a seizure two other times before that time- but she thought she was just shivering. Then, she finally realized it was something different!
I couldn't find my phone, and all of the kids were crying and too emotional to be able to help me find it (they were very worried about Annah) so I ran, crying, next door to my parents in law and got them to help me watch the kids while James and I took Annah to the ER.
Annah was unresponsive the whole time we were driving there. I would talk to her, and her eyes would stare right through me, and she would look back and forth as though she was not aware of what was going on around her. It scare me to death.
When we got to the ER, she had to have an IV, so they could test her for different things like RSV and the flu. I was so unhappy about her having to go through this, but then it was even worse because they tried five different places and were unsuccessful at getting to her vein except to collect just enough blood for the tests. She cried so pitifully every time they did this. I could hardly bear it.
They were wanting to also try again so that she could be rehydrated but thank goodness they figured out she had enough hydration so we didnt have to go through that again. She had a breathing treatment, x-ray, antibiotic, steroid, and Motrin. They said her lungs are fine, she doesn't have the flu or RSV and they figure what caused the seizure was that she got a lot of congestion in her head and was not able to get enough oxygen and that is what caused the seizure. I think they are right, because mucus was coming out of her mouth when she was having the seizure. I have never been so scared as I was this morning. I am thankful that she seems to be doing well right now, and I have the prescription antibiotics and steroids to help keep her on the mend. Please pray that she does not have another seizure like that...if you have a moment!
Here is a picture of her in the hospital bed, asleep from exhaustion, after all of the IV attempts.
James and I had planned a few months ago that we would go out of the country for a vacation of our own on our anniversary this year...but as we got closer to that date, we realized we didn't have anyone we could really ask to watch all five children...so we decided instead to take the kids with us to Gatlinburg. We just didn't tell them! We let them believe we were still on our way to our own separate vacation.... in fact, on the way there, we let them in on the fact that there would be someone watching them while we were gone- someone they knew, and who we could trust. Little did they know, we were referring to ourselves.
When we got to our cabin, we knocked on the door to keep up the surprise. Watch the video to see the kids reaction when we let them know that we were actually going to be staying in the cabin for the week- it was fun!
We had a blast in Gatlinburg! We went to Cades Cove, spent a day in Ober Gatlinburg and rode on the skylifts quite a few times, and walked through the streets of Gatlinburg. The boys and I went to the 4D theater together and "rode" the roller coaster...they were shrieking with laughter and surprise the whole time (Bonnie was too scared to get on it, so she stayed with Daddy and the babies while we had fun).
Noah and Bonnie were both scared the first time we went on the sky lift, but the second time around they were so comfortable with it...we ended up going 6 times...4 of those times riding down the Alpine slides, and then all the way to the top of the mountain twice. The mountaintop view was INCREDIBLE.
Our cabin was amazing! We have never stayed anywhere so nice. The upstairs had an arcade, a pool table, and a foosball table....all of the kiddos had so much fun there! Downstairs there was a hotub, whirlpool, two fireplaces, a nice kitchen, laundry room, and the house was even decorated for Christmas with wreaths and a Christmas tree. It was beautiful. Worth every penny!!
By the way, I wanted to mention that for some reason, I am not receiving email notifications of comments anymore...so if you have responded to any of my posts with a question and I did not respond, it is because I never saw the comment! Sorry about that...I will try to figure out what the problem is so it can be resolved! In the meantime, please feel free to email me anytime at mail(at)sketchesbybethany.net
The morning sickness has hit, and hit hard! I have been continually nauseated every day for the past four days.. I know it's all worth it in the end, because babies are worth every bit of the sickness, it's not easy to deal with when there is so much to be done and I just feel too sick to do it! Hopefully the four months will pass quickly and then I'll be feeling normal again.
This is actually the seventh time I've gone through morning sickness! (I also had morning sickness with the first baby I had a miscarriage with). So it seems like I should know everything about it, but there is not really any fool proof way for me to avoid the nausea. I've been using ginger and trying to eat crackers before I get up in the morning. Those help temporarily but not for long.
I also want to try the Karen Hurd morning sickness diet again...but really feel grossed out at the thought of eating the beans right now. Unless maybe someone else cooks them. I don't know. lol
I am seriously considering getting some OTC nausea medicine and seeing how it works. I've never tried it before, because I didn't want to harm the baby...but I know so many women who have tried it and their babies turned out fine. I might just try some and see if it helps, after researching the side effects, etc... because it would be so nice to get through the day without throwing up.
I'm still so excited though, to be having another baby. No amount of sickness can take that away. Children are always a miracle!
The last week, I noticed I was pretty tired, but I mostly chalked that up to my sleep schedule which was different since James had been here for a week. But then, as a very big lover of coffee, I started noticing that coffee was starting to taste not so good. I wondered what was going on, because it's very odd for me to not enjoy a cup of coffee. This has only happened when I am pregnant....so ....I thought it was a long shot, but I took a pregnancy test.
When I got home, I took the test ,and lo and behold, two bold lines!!!! **Squealing**
I was so excited I was trembling. I called James immediately and told him.... then, I told the kids, and video taped their reaction. Check it out (and please ignore our mess! I didn't feel like cleaning before telling them...I was too excited!!):
I've been getting more into photography lately, and just LOVE it. I absolutely love taking pictures!!
The fact that people even have the capability of capturing wonderful memories with just a click of a button and a little know how, is pretty awesome in itself. I love getting to see a glimpse into another person's life and being able to make tangible memories for them that they will cherish for a long time.
Here are some photo sessions I've done recently, and would like to share with you all. (I can't post every single one here, but my facebook account has most of the pictures in albums, which I will link to.)
Keitha and Tanner engagement pictures (this is the most ADORABLE couple...They didn't really "kiss" until their wedding day! How special and unique is that?)
And here are pictures from Keitha and Tanner's wedding. Theirs is the third wedding I have shot so far. It was blissfully sweet to watch them say their vows and start their life together. I felt so honored to be a part of that!