I'm Tonia and this is my family. There's Hubs, my wonderful partner; Bug, my darling daughter; and Boo, my charming son. We are the Collins clan. We are a homeschooling family who try our best to live out God's will for our lives every day. There are lots of stumbles along the way, but we love each other and this little life we're carving out for ourselves. Recently we found ourselves called to make some big changes in our lives so we're packing up the McMansion and moving out to a little farm in need of a lot of TLC. We have tons to learn and tons to do and we invite you to share the journey as we turn our not-so-new heap into a home.

Monday, October 27, 2014

House of Horrors

I think I mostly do a decent job of keeping it positive around here. I really do love our life and the Heapstead and really, who wants to hear me complain about a life I've chosen? But, if we're being completely honest, there are some things about the Heap that seriously give me the heebie jeebies. So, today, I get a little more real with you and share the top horrors I deal with every day.

The saggy ceiling:

There is a section of the ceiling- right over MY seat at the table- that sags dangerously. It totally creeps me out. I'm just sure that any day now it's going to collapse and that collapse will most certainly happen while I'm sitting at the table. When I let my imagination go, I'm also pretty sure that when it does cave it's going to spill goo and slime all over me, sort of like those Nickelodeon dare shows I used to watch as a kid...only this goo will have dead mice and other disgusting things in it. I will never recover from the trauma and need to be institutionalized.

The laughter of beasts:

photo from wdfw.wa.gov

As the sun goes down they start. Seriously, they sound like they are just beyond where the light from the porch light reaches and they are having a convention about how they will tear me to bits if I'm ever stupid enough to walk out of the light. And then I look over and realize that, shoot, I forgot to close the door to the nursery coop....which, of course, is out of the light. There's nothing quite so fun as trying to act cool,  kids watching, while your heart is pounding and you just know tonight is the night the coyotes are going to get you. Creepy, I tell you.

Ugly couch:

Ugly couch is a relatively new addition to the Heap and truthfully, I'm thrilled to have a full size couch again. We've only had a love seat since we moved out here and it was uncomfortable and way too small. But, the fact that I am so happy to have Ugly couch sort of freaks me out a bit. Once upon a time, I was known as a stylish gal, one who kept a lovely home. I think my evolution is a good thing and I know learning contentment and  to live simply are serious improvements to my character, but every now and then, I do look around and think, "What in the world has happened to me?!" And, sometimes, in my weakest moments, I mourn the loss of who I was- not the selfish, self-absorbed part, but the rest.

The grossest floor:

All the floors in the Heap are gross, but the bathroom takes the cake. I have to seriously go to my happy place when I look at this floor because if I let myself think about what's been on it, well, I'll never go in there again. We do keep rugs in there and I can sort of leap from rug to rug, but every now and then I accidentally miss the rug and then I entertain the idea of soaking my feet in bleach. I've read before that kids who grow up on farms are often healthier because they are exposed to so many things and it really strengthens their immune system. If this is true, my kids must have some rockin immune systems because who knows what they're exposed to when they walk on this floor....Eww.

Thankfully it's a good life with a few horrors sprinkled in instead of the other way around. It's amazing what sort of things we can learn to live with when we are surrounded by love and joy. Gross floors and laughing beasts aside, that's what the Heap is for us...our family. And it's good, really good.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Storing Up

This is where I should have photo after photo of a thriving garden....amazing harvests....canning equipment....

I don't.

Since being woefully unprepared has sort of been my theme when it comes to life at the Heap, I'm going to guess you aren't really surprised.

We came to the Heap in late summer/fall. We were so busy cleaning up and working on the many, many projects we had available .I was physically exhausted and mentally challenged in ways I've never been challenged before. I thought maybe this was the most challenging season.

Then came winter and my core body temperature dropped to about 40 degrees. I was freezing, unmotivated, isolated, and miserable. I was wrong about fall- winter is surely the most challenging season.

Along came spring and the pace of life picked up so suddenly and so frantically I was completely thrown off. In the midst of trying to finish up a school year and an AHG year, I also had to get a garden in, take care of new chicks, and try to help with all of the projects that had waited through the winter, but could wait no longer. Surely spring was the most challenging season.

But none of that prepared me for what was just around the corner. I'm a little embarrassed by how blissfully ignorant I was as I tended my "little" garden and watched over those baby chicks, thinking myself so very busy.


Oh. My. Holy. Homesteading. Ignorance.


In the blink of an eye stuff started coming in from the garden and the apple trees and the produce auction and friends' generosity....and every speck of it needed put up. Right now.

And so I found myself standing over a hot stove day after day canning. I chopped and bagged and froze. I dehydrated. I pickled. I stayed up unthinkable hours and I put it all away.

What I didn't do was take pictures.

So, all I have is some pictures of the resulting bounty, which I will admit, I'm mighty proud of.

I managed to put up way more this year than I would've expected. Not all of it came from my garden. Some came from friends sharing their harvests, some came from a visit to a produce auction where I picked up huge quantities for cheap. I managed to can:

Assorted jams and jellies
Assorted Pickles
Green Beans
Apples and Applesauce

In addition to the canned goods I also put a lot in my freezers. I originally had a plan for being somewhat organized, but at some point I just started tossing it where it would fit.

In the freezers I have:

Green peppers
and about 40 chickens along with the giblets.

I also have bags and bags and bags of tomatoes that I will eventually process into sauce and can. This will free up desperately needed freezer space. For the moment, though, I'm just catching my breath.

It was a good season. I learned how to butcher a chicken. I learned how to use a pressure canner. I spent hours in fellowship with a homesteading friend as we canned more food than we thought possible.

It was exhausting, but it was good.

I am no longer delusional though....on a homestead every season brings a new set of challenges. They also bring some pretty amazing moments and I'm grateful to be here.

Now to figure out how to get pictures as I'm working my tushy off.....