Welcoming in the new year at our homestead is a fun event. We are not really “party animals” and do normally spend New Year’s Eve with our kids at home. We play games the entire day and eat homemade finger foods (like homemade egg rolls, meatballs, chips and dips, etc).
This year, we had new games added to our collection including Steampunk Munchkins, Timeline – American History, The Ticket to Ride expansion for 1910 and Oregon Trail. (Yes, I know! Not the standard games that everyone else had in their collections – But we are a gaming kind of family and have all of those standard Sorry and Monopolies too!)
So for hours and hours, we spend time as a family…. What have I learned while playing games with my kids? I have learned that I don’t like playing against Griffen in Munchkin… He is RUTHLESS! Trystan still does not play well with others and cheats his way through every game that he plays. Larry remembers all of the rules to all of the games that we play…. He is filled with folders of useless knowledge too. I know that Rowan and Elwyn are very competitive, but will help you out on teaming up on games. I know that Shelby LOVES to just sit and play any game, anytime with anyone. Berlyn does not always play well with others. Breckin is a good sport and will not only play games with his sisters, but will dress up for one of the princess games with them.
Upon the ringing in of the New Year, we make it outside to bang pots and pans and yell Happy New Year…. then come in and drink “kid champagne” AKA Sparkling Apple Cider.
This morning, we woke up to 2 new baby goats on our homestead! Declan (one of our registered Purebred Nubians) and Ava (a Registered American Nubian) had 2 baby girls…. We are thrilled to have already added to our homestead this early in the season….
“Mothers and their children are in a category all their own. There’s no bond so strong in the entire world. No love so instantaneous and forgiving”
— Gail Tsukiyama
Kris Mazy-Fullmer and her husband Larry were married 18 years ago.
“It was not in our plans to have children, but it was it God’s plan,” Mazy-Fullmer said. “I was on birth control, but our first child (Shelby) was born just before our first anniversary. After Shelby came, she was so amazing, she changed our minds instantly.”
The Chino Valley couple now have five biological children, two adopted sons, and are occasionally foster parents too.
“After all our kids were born we adopted our two sons, Breckin and Trystan,” Mazy-Fullmer said. “Both brothers were severely abused both physically and mentally. I know God gave me these boys so we could be loving parents to kids in need. I didn’t realize how much love that we have to share.”
She has homeschooled most of her children, they are also in 4-H and they keep busy with the 400 animals they have on their acreage.
“The kids each have their own animals to take care of,” Mazy-Fulllmer said. “My daughter Elwyn is our ‘goat whisperer,’ she milks the goats every morning and night. Our son Griffin is my engineer, he builds and repairs all of our barns, etc.; Rowan is in charge of all the baby chicks, she feeds, waters and collects eggs; Berlyn (who is autistic) just has a way with horses and he trains with Horses with H.E.A.R.T. for the Special Olympics. Breckin is our 4-H Bunny Boy and takes care of all the rabbits. Trystan is so very intelligent and he is my snuggle monster, and Shelby is now in college and also works full time.
“We live in such an entitlement society these days, and we are teaching our children that it takes a lot of work to live. They all know how to cook, bake bread and raise animals,” she said.
Besides taking care of all her children, through the years Kris still took the time to get a college degree. The family grows all their own food, which she cans and dehydrates. All meals are made from scratch.
“I do all this because of all the allergies, and food intolerance with some of the kids. Elwyn is allergic to red dye; Trystan is gluten, sugar and lactose intolerant; Berlyn and Breckin both have to have sugar and dye free food too. Everything I do, from my photography (to give them memories), my cookbooks (she has written three) is to better their lives, and getting my degree is to help my special needs kids. Your life is what you make it. But my husband is my rock, I couldn’t do what I do without him. He is an amazing husband and dad.”
Mazy-Fullmer shared that she came from a small family so she thinks her large family is phenomenal.
“They say it takes a village to raise a child and it is true, my parents, and my sister and her husband live next door and are very active in our kids’ lives,” she said.
“I think I was put here to be a mom. I love each of my kids differently, they are each individuals, with their own special talents, and personalities, and they are all gifts.”
Welcome to 2016! And Happy 12th day of Christmas!!
This year on our homestead, we are working really hard to get self sustaining and be able to offer more animals, produce and eggs to our friends. It has been a great year! We have pressed the “easy” button and made life simpler which is this busy mama’s long term hope for the family. (And by simpler, I do not mean easier, but rather slowing down the CRAZY and drinking iced tea on my porch, watching chickens peck the ground and kids playing outside.)
What are our goals for our homestead this year? We know that most of these won’t happen this year… but we are all hopeful.
add tilapia to our aquaponics system (right now, we have just goldfish in there.)
add an additional aquaponics system
Add a solar system to the aquaponics system(s)
build another greenhouse
build a smoke house
add 5 more raised garden beds to our garden
build additional quail house to house at least 150 more quail
purchase a second cabinet incubator for all of the eggs that we have been hatching
publish 2 more books
plant and tend our garden
not go to the grocery store from May until October (and we are well on out way! I just got a call that our 1/2 steer will be ready to pick up in mid February from the butcher. Our pigs will be going to butcher in March too. My freezers will be FULL!)
learn to make sour cream and purchase a cheese press to make cheddar
raise turkeys to sell (we have 80 eggs in the incubator right now.)
raise coturnix quail to eat weekly for our family
Continue to homeschool our amazing kids (minus Shelby who is in college and is being joined by Larry in college this spring to get an additional degree)
continue to offer our home as a foster family for kids who need us
It is a beautiful October day up here in northern Arizona. A lot has happened in the last month. We have (as a whole family, including my parents and sister and her family) picked up a steer. TBone will fill up our freezer in about 8 months or so. He is a bit thin, so we are “fattening” him up.
Berlyn is continuing to be homeschooled with the other kids. Autism will not stop this handsome guy! Meet Fern! She is a KuneKune sow to breed with our Wilbur. 3 of the kids joined 4H this season for swine market, swine breeding, rabbits, goats and poultry.
We officially got back the first of the goat’s registrations back from ADGA (American Dairy Goat Assoc.) 4 more to go this season!
I have the most AMAZING kids… Yep, I can say that because I am their mom… But #farmkidsrock is a hashtag that I use often on Instagram.
For years in our house, we make so many of our own products including lip balm, laundry soap, sugar scrubs.
Elwyn has always wanted me to teach her to make goat milk soap… Heck, we have the milk coming right off of our homestead.
Goat Milk Soap BASE Recipe
12 ounces milk (We freeze into ice cubes)
4.3 ounces lye (sodium hydroxide)
22 ounces olive oil
8 ounces coconut oil
1 ounce castor oil
Measure out all of your ingredients before you get started into separate measuring cups .
Wearing gloves and goggles, stir together lye and milk. SLOWLY!!! (Lye can BURN YOUR SKIN!) We put the bowl that we stir together the lye and milk into another bowl filled with ice to keep the temperature down. We also add just a little bit of lye at a time. The sugars in the milk will scorch if it gets too warm.
As the lye is melting down, pour all of the oils in a large bowl. Stir until blended.
Once the lye mixture is melted down and all of the lye is incorporated with no granules left, slowly pour the lye mixture into the oils.
Stir until the mixture begins to “Trace”. “Trace” means that soap batter is thick enough to hold an outline, or “tracing” when drizzled across the surface of itself.
Once the mixture is beginning to trace, you can now add in essential oils, fragrance oils, colors, etc. (We don’t use fragrance or colors in our soap, keeping them as natural as possible.)
Pour the mixture into your soap molds. This recipe fits in our silicone soap block perfectly.
For 24-48 hours, we drop our filled mold into the freezer. It keeps the color as cream as possible.
After 24-48 hours in the freezer, remove soap from mold and cut into 1 inch bars. Yes, these bars will be VERY soft at first!!! It’s OK!
Allow the bars to cure in the open air, on a sheet of wax or parchment paper, for at least four weeks, rotating occasionally. Because of the higher amount of olive oil in this soap recipe, the longer you let it cure, the harder the final bar will be.
I am so very proud of my SHELBY! Shelby, you have accomplished so much! You are an an amazing woman, growing daily into the person that I knew that you would become. You are a hard worker and that shows by working full-time and college full-time. All of the kids in the house look up to you. I honestly can not believe how fast time flies.
I am asked all of the time… “How much do you spend on groceries a month?”
$600 (ok, pick your jaw up off of the ground) Yes, for our family of 10, I only spend $600 a month. Do you know why? Because that is all that is in the budget anyhow! So I make do!!!
My kids do not go without EVER! They just don’t get filled up with processed foods.
Every month, I take $600 cash out of my account. I DO NOT use my debit card for groceries EVER! I would tend to spend as much as I want if I do not budget out cash. I always take a calculator with me to the store or use my cell phone in order to budget better. And I know exactly what I am buying before I walk in the door. A list truly helps. In this budget, we do buy gluten free bread and occasionally GF pasta. Although, Zucchini makes REALLY YUMMY pasta noodles.
Let’s do a breakdown.
For starters, I don’t buy eggs, I have chickens, ducks, geese and quail. They give me sufficient eggs and then I sell what I have left for money to go to chicken and quail food. We eat eggs about 4 times a week. And I sell enough eggs to cover their feed.
In the summer, I grow my own veggies, including lettuce that I eat at every meal. We have a 1/4 acre garden and an aquaponics system. We plant lettuce, spinach, kale and Swiss chard for salad greens as well as tomatoes, egg plant, peppers, tomatillos, zucchini, onions, etc. If you don’t have a lot of time, you can plant spinach and lettuce in big pots on your back porch and grow the base of your salad.
I buy in bulk every chance that I get. I buy bulk meat. I buy bulk fruit. Heck, I buy bulk rice too!
We do not buy hamburger helper or rice-a-roni. I used to, but then I realized how bad those foods are for me. So, we make our own. It may be cheap… but… Try mixing cheese in with hot quinoa. Or some ranch dip mix(we make our own dip mix too) in with pasta and a little milk.
I don’t clip coupons anymore because the foods on the coupons tend to be the processed foods that are full of artificial EVERYTHING that I don’t want my kids eating anyway. I do however watch the sale flyers for my local Sprouts and Safeway stores for meat and veggie deals.
I make a menu for the week. I do not always stick to it, but I do make it so I know what we “plan” on eating and what we have in our cabinets.
Figure out your staples in your household. We eat refried beans and ranch beans several times a week for a side. I make my own by buying dried beans in BULK!!! We cook in a pressure cooker to get the beans going. We also cook chickpeas in the pressure cooker (that I also buy in bulk) to make hummus as a snack. We buy rice in 50 pound bags, and beans in 20 pound bags. I buy several pounds of quinoa when it is on sale and I fill up 1/2 gallon jars for storage.
If I am buying chicken, I only buy boneless chicken breasts on sale ($1.77/pound or cheaper) and I buy a lot of them and fill up my freezer. I do NOT buy ground chicken even though we use that often for tacos and burritos. Ground chicken costs $3.99/pound so instead I invested in a meat grinder to attach to my kitchen aid and grind my own.
My kids LOVE dehydrated fruit! I have 2 of the big Excalibur dehydrators, that I have running all of the time. If I find a great sale on strawberries, then I buy a lot of strawberries. They go great in homemade instant oatmeal, granola snacks and even fresh yogurt. We get our fair share of strange looks from people when I purchase 25 watermelons – you should try dehydrating watermelons… they are SO YUMMY!
Costco and Sam’s Clubs are great… But know that your will not get out of there without spending several hundred dollars or more. Every month, I stock up on certain items that I know that I will use like canned goods as a go-to meal add in like corn or green beans or even green chilies. Again make a list.
If you are worried about budgeting, try pre-making freezer meals for later use. 10 meals can be put together in a single afternoon with no problem. Meat and veggies go a long way in a stew. Honey mustard chicken and pineapple chicken can be prepared ahead of time and then put in a crockpot in the morning to cook all day. If you premake the meals, it is as simple as defrosting and pouring in. (All of the veggies are already cut for you.) My secret is to put on a movie and work while that movie is on. It keeps my mind going and then I have set my limit, so I need to work.
Use what you have in your pantry. You bought it at one time for something! Rotate!
Making bread from scratch only takes a few minutes of prep time. We make dough just once a week and I put that in the oven after dinner or when I am getting kids up and going in the morning. We even buy bulk wheat seeds and grind my own wheat for the kids who can eat gluten. Pitas and tortillas are simple to make too.
Water can and should replace kids drinks like koolaid. We drink water and iced tea rather than Koolaid and soda in our house. Tea bags are inexpensive. Juice is a rare thing here, because of juice rotting teeth and we do not buy soda. For tea sweetener, try liquid stevia. A jar lasts forever. Or slice up fruit and add to pitchers of water.
Try buying a pig from a local farm to send to the butcher. Better meat! Try you local 4H or FFA groups, they will often have animals ready to go. This actually helps local and allows you to use all different cuts of meat. Or, you can raise your own. (Not for everyone!)
Find a fruit and veggie co-op. Bountiful baskets offers awesome produce weekly.
I do not buy laundry detergent… I make my own. Fabric softener… Yep, make that too… When my kids were little, heck, we even used cloth diapers. I buy theives cleaner in concentrate and mix my own.
Here is an average day of meals for us. (Remember too that we homeschool so kids are not getting a school lunches either) The kids ages are 3, 7, 7, 9, 9, 11, 13, and 17.
Breakfast: Eggs and sausage with a slice of fruit or a stir-fry of veggies. Or an egg bake of eggs, spinach and feta cheese. Homemade oatmeal and dried fruit and milk. Or Rice with butter and brown sugar.
Lunch: PB and honey sandwich with yogurt and carrot sticks. Chicken salad lettuce wrap with coleslaw, or quesadillas with sour cream and salsa with apples and peanut butter.
Dinner: BBQ-ed chicken with BBQed Zucchini, enchiladas and rice, tacos and beans, or spaghetti and french bread. We offer salads at every meal for the kids. Another favorite in our house is shepherd’s pie. Every meal is cooked from scratch because I want to know what my kids are eating.
Snack: Carrots or Hummus and pita chips, or homemade granola bars, apple or pears, or string cheese (the only thing that I buy that is individually wrapped.) I always have carrots available for snacks as well as apples, bananas or oranges. I buy all of those in bulk too. Carrots come in 25 pound bags from my local grocery store for only $7. It lasts us about 2 weeks unless the bunnies or goats get it first.(and by that I mean that the kiddoes are feeding them!)
This season, we began raising our own meat in rabbits (we have our first litters to butcher in about a month) and chickens (we have 23 meat birds that will bulk up in about 6 weeks for my freezer). We also have 4 goats that next season will start giving us goats’ milk for drinking and making cheese. Our budget will go down even more next season with meat and milk. Yea! We have a neighbor that gives us 2 gallons of goats milk a week from her goats and we exchange some veggies and yard work for her. Look into purchasing bulk meat from Zaycon or even from Sam’s Club. Here is my Zaycon link for bulk meats: http://www.zayconfresh.com/refer/zf52795
Know that you too can budget down you grocery bill if you just follow those simple
It is often hard to decide what to share on my blog. We try to keep it upbeat and with things that we are working on here. This is one of those times where I am not certain how to put in words what I need to say.
Monday, my husband received two back to back calls from his dad and brother, Steven. Larry had taken a day off to just “be” family. Little did we know that he was going to need this day off anyhow. Larry came out of the bedroom after listening to the messages and told me that we needed to talk. OH MY! I knew that something was up. That is never a good sign.
Earl, the oldest of the 3 brothers had passed away… Officials had just notified my father-in-law. It took them a week to find next of kin. WHAT?!? How can I respond? Larry and I sat for several hours trying to figure out what to say to our children. We sat holding hands, crying and praying. We are in disbelief. HOW could this happen?
Berlyn especially has such a strong bond with Earl. This has hit him really hard. Many times on Tuesday, he would just sit and wail, uncontrollable sobbing.
Earl’s passing comes with a bit of surprise, although Larry and I had talked about it before, years ago. Earl had struggled in the past. He had gotten help. He was on an up and up or so we thought. He unfortunately hid a lot from us and the rest of the family. Addictions can come in all different forms, whether legal drugs, alcohol, illegal drugs, etc. For our Beloved Uncle Earl, it was legal ones. Ones that were prescribed to him for a back injury that he received many years ago while in the army. He had done everything that he could to tame the pain, to live a normal life. This was the only thing that he had control of… and he knew that. We would like to think that his passing was peaceful, it was in a place that he love with a view of a lake out in the wilderness. All day yesterday and today, I have asked the “why” and I know that that answer left with him. The tears have not stopped and that is OK. This is not anyone’s fault and I hope that no one in the family blame themselves for this. This is just something that happened. And nothing could have changed it.
What have I learned from this? I have learned that we never know the demons that our loved ones suffer. I have learned that our veteran’s need more… more attention… more love and more medical / psych.
Hug your loved ones. Check regularly on them. Make sure that you get them help if you notice anything. Tell them that you love them and that you will always be there for them. Be honest!
I will always remember him taking me to a movie on an evening that Larry had to work while were all living in Ely, NV. I will remember his goofy “voices” that he would make at the kids, how he would torment my cats, how he and Larry would have 2+ hour phone conversations about NOTHING! I remember him holding and loving each of my children for the very first time. I remember how much he teased Larry about dating a “younger girl” in high school when he was home on leave and the incredible hug that he gave me on my wedding day to his brother telling me how much he loved Larry and I. I will always remember the phone call that we got from him to tell us that he was going to be a dad. And all of that Mountain Dew he used to drink.
I can’t get over how he will never see his grandchildren or mine, how we all won’t grow old together and how he will never again log into the online game that he and Larry would play for hours because even living far away, they could still have brother time. I will never hear that voice again.
I have stories, Oh, do I have stories and I will pass them onto my children and to his daughter. I will make sure that his grandchildren know who he is!
Today is the last day that my baby is a baby. Shelby is graduating high school. 9 years of homeschooling and 2 at Chino Valley High School. She is graduating 2 years early at only 16 years old. Thursday, she has a job training at a local fast food restaurant. My baby has grown up and it seems like it has been overnight. Off to Yavapai College in the fall! Her goal is to become a music teacher and I am 100% behind her decision.
After 16 amazing months the little girl that had been living with us went home to be with her parents. We miss her so very much but hope that she continues to grow into the amazing little lady who we know she will become.
This last month we were lucky enough to find a new little purebred Nubian goat that was born at a fellow homeschooler and friend’s home. We had made so many inquiries and received another call in May to get a second baby doe Nubian from a different local family. So welcome Baby Sage and Baby Clover to our homestead. They have joined our current herd of Pepper, our adult doe, Mor Dubh our breeding buck and Frankie, our wether St Croix hair sheep.
We also have bred our rabbits in the last month… And have babies born in the last week. So exciting for the kids to learn about farm life. We have 5 breeding does and 2 bucks. It looks like we had 4 and 11 babies born. And we have another litter that is being born today.
We have baby poultry everywhere! Baby turkeys, baby quail, baby duck, baby chicks and even baby goslings that our older geese hatched on their own. I looked out in the goat barn and 2 of our broody hens hatched baby chicks. I am not sure how many as of yet because when I went to look, the mama pecked at me. We also have 40 adults hens and 4 roos.
Another several additions added to our homestead are new piggies. We have a new KuneKune hair pig and a meat pig. We will be picking up a female KuneKune in the future so that we can breed them.
Griffen has also worked really hard on his aquaponics system. It is up and running and going through it’s first cycling to add all of the good bacteria into the system. I can’t wait to show you more info on that system as our plants get bigger and we begin to harvest from the system.