Sunday, May 17, 2015

Thistle Hill Ranch or Swamp?

We have been inundated with rain! Texas has been in a horrible drought for years. Our part of the state is finally relieved of drought conditions! But, unfortunately now it feels as if we should build an ark.

I thought it was April showers brings May flowers?

This is a dry creek bed, for overflow, funneling into the Spring fed creek. Both are running like crazy!

I know the rain is always welcome here, but I have been desperately missing my walks around the ranch. If I want to take a walk, it now requires gallons of Deep Woods Off and rubber boots.

A little less than pleasant!

I did however, manage to snap some pictures of our busy couple of weeks. So I apologize for the delay in posts.

I guess when life happens, sometimes you have no choice but to just keep going!

Today I finally have time to share the last couple weeks in pictures!

First, our poor little duck with a bum leg, needed to be looked at. Our poor "Limpy"! Luckily, the vet said he has already learned to live without. So he's back with his friends and happy!

We call our place "Thistle Hill Ranch", & this is why. Beautiful purple thistles on the hillside. The rain knocked them over, but they sure do brighten a rainy day.

Our girls grazing after a big Texas storm!

Daisy looks so small in the waves of rye grass. The rains have the grass growing by leaps and bounds. I feel like I live in the English countryside, with everything so lush and green.

This was the last "boyfriend in a box" for our mares, that I had to pick up. Now we cross our fingers and toes, say a prayer, and hope the last two mares are finally pregnant. I will let you know the good news as I get it!
Did you see how I did that? Think Happy Thoughts!

My Mother's Day gift from my boys! I have always wanted an antique scale. This one is actually from an old grocery store in our town. It makes it even more special!

This is from today..darling new baby birds in another one of our bird houses. I just love opening them to peek inside...it's like a present!


When you live on a ranch, there are beautiful things to look at, fun things to do, and a lot of HARD work!

One of the reasons I wanted to move to the country, was to show the boys what hard work really is. Funny thing about hard work...it grows on you!

They never complain, they just DO!

They know they have to finish school work and chores before they can "play". I've noticed they seem to understand now, how hard work goes hand and hand with good character and success. Now they ask me what more they can help with!

I KNOW!... WHO KNEW?

This is Preston vacuuming the house. This is one of his everyday chores...did I mention that living on a ranch is messy?
This is last Wednesday...Stripping stalls is really hard work, and kinda yucky..let's be honest..it's GROSS! But, it has to be done!

And...creatures large and small appreciate your hard work, even if they don't say it. The key is to not look for approval from others, but to be satisfied in your work.

 

Our Baby Koa is growing like a weed! He is always curious and always wants to know what I'm up to. I could just eat him up he's so darn cute...although, I know I'm slightly prejudice.

And we have an announcement! Drum Roll Please!......................

The Boys Are in 4H!

I told you, we've been busy!

We are so excited! They went to their 1st meeting a month ago and the connection with the other kids was amazing! They were immediately welcomed into the greatest group of kids. This is what every parent hopes for. The parents of this group of kids are just as amazing. God has a way of leading you in directions and putting you exactly where you were meant to be. This wonderful Cooke County 4H group was such a gift. Wonderful parents, wonderful kids, and the opportunities for the boys are limitless. We can't wait!

Here are the boys, on the far left, with some of the kids, working the Bake Sale! We had a blast!

Hopefully next week I will have more fun pictures to share! Still working on getting Duck Ma Hal the way I want it...farm animals not helping the cause...ugh! Wish me luck!

More rain is expected, but luckily we are on a slight hill. Hopefully I will have more pictures to share sooner than later.

Have a great week!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Thistle Hill Ranch Happenings!

May is here and we have had beautiful Spring weather!

I get excited every Spring for the warm weather with cool nights. They are short lived, with Summer close behind.

But in the mean time, I will just ENJOY!

Over the last week, I soaked up a little sun, got a few chapters read, (in between Daisy visits/ scratching on my chair), and got quite a bit accomplished.


I mowed with a push mower around the pond, coop, swing and beyond... I almost killed myself...but it's SO nice. However, I think it's time for a ride on lawn mower! Unfortunately, the tractor doesn't get it short enough to walk through with snakes around.

So much accomplished in 2 days! It was very rewarding. A good thing since the next few days will bring more rain. I now have an even deeper appreciation for water! I think we are finally out of the drought in our area.

Here are some pictures from our week at Thistle Hill Ranch!

Glen mowing down some of the surrounding pastures.
Glen took Landen on a trail ride in our back pasture on Wednesday...a between the ears shot from Glen on Bailey.
Pedicures for all the mares last Wednesday...including Miss Daisy, who wasn't a lady!
Darby REALLY wanting to check on the new baby birds!
This is Buster or as I call him, Buster Bear! He's my sisters dog. He either had his head in my lap, or snuggled ON me. This time I convinced him to sit next to me, heehee! I got to hang out with Buster and my beautiful niece and darling nephew on Friday. Always nice to get time with family!
The boys worked their mares and still managed to get all their chores done and school work!
These are our darling animals, enjoying the beautiful weather today before the storms come in.

Our weekend is almost here, today is our Thursday...

So here, between the trees, is where we did some of our school work today; and this is where you will find me until the rain comes in.

Have a Great Week, and Happy May!

 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Homeschooling at Thistle Hill Ranch

I often get asked, " How do you do it all?"

The quick answer is, I don't!

This view in our back pasture, makes all the hardwork worth it! This will be our view in the next year or so, out our new house windows. Hard to be patient, but fun to look forward to!

If there is anything I've learned from my crazy upbringing, it was to just keep going, never give up, and you'll never know the answer to life's questions, unless you TRY!

So, the first all important rule I set for our family, is ORGANIZATION!

Organization is a MUST, with our home, ranch, and homeschooling. If you aren't organized, life that becomes, or already is chaotic, gets more chaotic and stressful!

When I talk about organization, I mean EVERYTHING!

So how do I stay organized? It takes work, but less work in the long run, than if I wasn't.

Here are a Few Examples:

1. When I get up in the morning, after getting dressed, I make a run through the house gathering laundry, & hand towels (every 2 days; because, let's face it, they get gross!), and start a load in the washer. The boys are getting up by this point, making their beds, getting dressed, and doing their morning chores.

~ The boys have individual, and together chores. These include: vacuuming (the entryway, back door area, which includes kitchen dining room, and laundry room...it's very dusty/dirty on a farm), doing dishes, (unload and load morning dishes), feeding dogs and letting them out, feeding the cat, and changing all animals waters. Then, they move on to the ducks and geese coop, and then the barn for the horses. This is watering, feeding, & cleaning their stalls.

2. While the boys are completing their morning chores, I am doing various housework, (dusting, making my bed, folding laundry, and prepping any school lessons.

3. While the boys are doing their first 3 lessons on their own, I blog, mop, return emails, go through my calendar for upcoming Dr. visits, Veterinarian visits, grocery shopping, going through mail and filing receipts and other documents.

Early Morning Vet Visit for Artificial Insemination Round 2!

{I know that seems like a lot, and it is, but some of these things are daily, others not. So it stays fairly even keel...not too overwhelming.}

4. I plan their curriculum, pretty much to the letter, over the summer. Therefore, over the school year, I only have to adjust the curriculum on an "as needed" basis. This is part of the "being organized". This life we lead now is crazy busy, ( isn't everybody's?), and the way to stay sane is stay organized.

5. Day before yesterday, after homeschooling, I cleaned my bathroom from top to bottom, all drawers, baskets, (dumped old medications, lotions, etc.), wiped down all the drawers.

Then, I moved on to my dresser drawers and closet. I do this twice a year. I move out the seasonal clothes and get rid of anything that is worn out or needs to be donated. This helps me keep my closet and drawers organized and current.

6. I clean out my fridge about every other week, to get rid of any forgotten leftovers, or expired foods. This helps me keep on top of grocery shopping too. Everything shopping need, is an event in the country. My favorite grocery store 25 minutes away. The boys haircuts, Target, Best Buy, ie. major shopping, is 30 minutes away. To maximize my trips, I plan haircuts, gift shopping, etc. and hit those places first and then grocery shop on the way home. This helps my weeks go by more smoothly. We have a great meat market and small grocer in town for emergencies or just quick meal needs too.

So what does ALL of this have to do with homeschooling on the ranch?

If I didn't have the rest of our daily lives organized, homeschooling would be a joke! I have my oldest getting closer and closer to being college bound. Planning a students credits for college, takes dedication and LOTS of careful planning. The extra curricular activities carrying into school credits, (labs, leadership in the community, community service, etc., etc., etc.), can be quite overwhelming.

This planning scares me to death! I won't lie...

But, if you stay focused, keep up on your daily life needs and chores, then everything else falls into place. Keep yourself surrounded with supportive, like minded people, and keep on keeping on!

One of the girls supporting the other during Artificial Insemination. So sweet!

Some people say I'm "overly organized", even OCD; but, I look at it as my safety net. I thrive in a clean, tidy, organized environment. Right down to fresh cut flowers in almost every room. {I pick wildflowers, cut trimmings from bushes, anything to bring the outside in and freshen/brighten my home.} It makes me happy, it makes me take a deep relaxing breath, and my family loves it too.

These are roses from my rose bush in the backyard!
I bought this 2 months ago, and it's doing well, the trick is 2 ice cubes every other week!
Fresh picked pansies. They actually produce more blooms, the more you pick. And an aloe plant has always been a must! They heal cuts and scrapes FAST!

When people tell me they don't care if their home is untidy, I sometimes wonder if that's really true, or if it is really because they don't know where to start?

Hopefully if you're that person, that doesn't know where to start, I have helped in some way show, it IS possible to do it all. My boys are older and they help tremendously. But, when they were little, I did their "now" chores. I just got up earlier or stayed up later. But, either way, it got done.

Homeschooling is easy when you PLAN!

Plan your curriculum around your life's time. Everyone has a different life, therefore, different life's time.

Our math and science is taught by online and CD tutors. Geography is something I started with them, and then, they continued on their own. I made out flash cards for every country, with their capital on the back, and organized them by continent. They have to copy them into a notebook, by continent and include their government, and top resources. Amazing what they are learning and researching on their own with this project. It is fun to here them mention the countries outside of school time.

This allows me "free time" to get all my stuff done. I'm here, so if there are any questions, I'm here to help. And as I mentioned before, we have a math tutor that comes once a week to help with any gaps.

Then, we have time after lunch, for the rest of school. Literature, is my favorite subject! I love all the literature we are finishing together. Papers they are writing, and exposure to history through literature too. I add in poetry, reading from an American Anthology book, and even Emily Post's Etiquette. They hate etiquette, but funny how several things from our lessons they have already needed! Not so dumb now!

This is our living room ottoman, where I'm usually parked, writing, planning, reading, and occasionally folding laundry here, instead of on the dining room table. Always with a coffee, or 2 tea bags and a dash of cream, or the occassional evening wine glass.
Our girls relaxing in the shade after the rain...more rain coming today!
Glen and the boys, checking out all the creek beds surrounding the property.

I hope I have helped give a glimpse of what our real life is like. It's definitely not for everyone, but it is something we love. We love the time as a family that is definitely fleeting. We also appreciate every moment we have on the ranch. We know they are growing fast, and homeschooling is just one more way to help them grow into strong, respectful, well educated young men, through hard work and lots of love.

This is Landen riding Bailey with Joe, who trains them in horseback riding.
This is Bailey's baby!
This is Preston getting Classy ready for Artificial Insemination.

So here's to all you hard working moms that do it all! It can be done...just keep doing! Have a great week...

Happy Homeschooling & Organizing!



 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Thistle Hill Ranch in April

Spring is a beautiful time of year here at Thistle Hill Ranch!

A year has almost come and gone for us at Thistle Hill Ranch, and I am struggling to find a favorite time of year.

There are times I feel overwhelmed with ALL the ranch chores, but then one of our darling animals reminds me life is too short to sweat the small stuff?
Thank you Daisy, (the donkey), for keeping me laughing!

Ranch Happenings
A lot of exciting things are happening here. We just joined 4H in our area and can't wait to jump in with both feet. Everyone was so nice and so welcoming. Thanks to our leader Katy Smith, we are ready for all the fun 4H has to offer. We can't wait to see where it takes us in our studies and socially. It's about time the boys get out with more kids. It has taken some time, but we finally feel settled. We love our community and all the wonderful people who have helped us call Texoma home.
We took our Spring Break and Easter Break back to back, so we didn't miss any school.Our homeschool week consists of Friday-Tuesday & Wednesday/Thursday is our weekend. We have been getting up earlier to get school done early in the day, to not overwhelm ourselves with the rest of the ranch duties. It doesn't always go as planned...and for a Type-A personality like me, sometimes it drives me nuts!
The last two weeks, has consisted of preparing our heifers for rebreeding, breeding & checking our mares for pregnancy, and rebreeding, one of them again.
This last week and this week, has consisted of all of the above, and all the regular chores. Keeping up has been difficult at times.

We had the boys friends up this last week too, and they had a blast! Always nice to have friends that are willing to travel the hour+ drive, to hang out for the day. And the Biggs girls, that now live in beautiful Tennessee, stopped in too. What a treat that day was. It was good for me to take a break, & hang out with my friends too :-)

The ducks and the geese finally moved into the "Duck Mahal" 3 nights ago.

{I guess instead of "Duck Mahal", I should name it "Fowl Mahal", we do have geese in there too after all.}

We still have a few things to finish up, so pictures will come soon. But, here's a sneak peek!

Yesterday, I met with our vet in the morning to check Classy for rebreeding, went to Home Depot to score the $3 Knock Out Rose bushes, and splurged a bit on the yellow rose topiaries for the front of "Fowl Mahal", then on the way home picked up groceries for dinner. I managed to plant the rose bushes around the "Fowl Mahal", with the boys before the torrential downpour. Then, a quick shower, and finished 9 loads of laundry. It was sheets day, and add that it's been raining and it's muddy...this equals more laundry. We finished our lessons right before 6pm ,and I managed to still put dinner in the oven.
Then, I poured myself some wine!
 
Back to the Fun Stuff!
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE our new daybed swing! Thanks to my awesome husband Glen, for helping me in all my "What if we did..." list!
I can't wait to have more time to read and rest on it!

 

 

Hopefully the weather cooperates, and we will get "Fowl Mahal" completely finished and get pictures up of the whole pond area. It really is looking neat.

Summer here we come!

Always a lot happening here. Thanks for stopping by Thistle Hill Ranch...

Have A Great Weekend!