Friday, August 04, 2023

At the Cottage ~ August 4, 2023

    This post might end up to be somewhat lengthy, as it was a very full week here at the cottage!  Overall it was a good one, except for one trial, which I am happy to report is finally over. 

    A couple weeks ago, John came to me in tears.  "Heidi pulled up all my flowers out of the pot!" he cried.  I looked out the window and, sure enough, one of our dogs had pulled up the flowers that he bought and planted as his own little project using some of the money he had saved.  I quickly went to try and salvage them, seeing that two still had roots.  When I got outside, I saw all the bushes I had just planted strewn all over the yard in bits.

    Truthfully, Heidi had been getting into trouble almost since she got here.  She chased our chickens (even killed a couple) and barked and ran at the livestock when they came near our fence, which is an obvious problem on a ranch.  I hate to confess, as I know this won't sit well with many, but I had been considering rehoming her for some time.  Her friendliness was a redeeming quality, but she was so overwhelmingly full of energy that the boys didn't even want to play in the yard because she would be all over them.  This really didn't seem fair to the boys or to Heidi, both of whom just wanted to play!  When the boys played outside of the yard, riding their bikes and scooters, she barked at them the whole time.  We got her to be a good family guard dog, but she loved strangers and hid from snakes- the complete opposite of what we wanted.  

    I never liked the idea of rehoming a pet, and I kept thinking she'd eventually outgrow some of her habits, as she was still very young.  Throwing in the towel just didn't seem fair to her, even though it increasingly felt like she wasn't a good fit for our family.  "I'll just give her another chance," I kept saying.  I felt as though it was more my fault than hers for not knowing how to train her or funnel her energy, and I really felt sorry for her for that.

    Then this week, "Mom, Heidi pulled up my flowers again!  And Daddy's fern!"  Then a few mornings later, "Mom, Heidi pulled up your lantanas and another pot of flowers!"  By this point I had really had enough.  I decided that for all our sakes, including Heidi's, she needed to go to a home where she would be loved and appreciated, not just tolerated and put up with.  I advertised her, and within about three hours, someone wanted her and arranged to pick her up the next day.  Immediately, I felt a weight lifted, but I still wondered if it was the right thing to do.  I prayed that the deal would fall through if it was God's will for us to keep her.  

    The next morning, Heidi's new owner messaged me to say that he was so excited to get her and that his little boy was going to love her!  He asked if she liked canned food because that's what his older dog likes.  She never got anything like that at our house!  So really I'm just overjoyed that she is with someone who is going to give her the love and attention she needs, and she will have a better, happier life with them than she would have with us.  It was a bittersweet ending to a stressful situation.

    Besides all of that, our week was full of good things.  One day, we took a trip to the next town over to do some shopping and run some errands.  I packed drinks and snacks for the children, as I knew we were going to make a day of it.  Buying those types of foods when you are out and about is getting too expensive!  

    First we went to the grocery store, as all of their school and office supplies were on sale, plus I had a coupon for $5 off of $25 for items in those categories.  I got lots of things we needed for the year and beyond, with a total savings of $8.  I still lack a few things (I was trying to get my total as close to $25 as I could), but those things are on sale at Walmart too, so I will wait until Tax Free Weekend to pick those up.  Of course we bought groceries there, as well.  I saved $11.47 on food by shopping the sales and using coupons.

    Out in the parking lot, there was a pallet of clearance plants.  A closer look revealed that some of them were Texas everbearing fig trees!  I bought two of them.  They looked a little poorly from being in the parking lot in 100+°F, but with a little TLC they perked back up.  See the fresh growth?

    The real excitement came at our next stop.  We needed to go to Tractor Supply to pick up some dog food, and when we got inside, we heard chicks!  The Tractor Supply in our town only gets chicks in the spring and fall, so this was a surprise.  Colton and I had just discussed getting more, as many of ours are getting older and none of our hens went broody this year (which was odd).

    "Can we please get some chicks?" John pleaded.  The answer was an easy "yes".  We decided on six Salmon Faverolle pullets (females).  I had never heard of them before, but when I Googled them and saw that they were a specialty French breed on the "watch" list, I knew I wanted them.  They grow to look so fluffy and beautiful and are supposedly one of the most docile breeds.  Here they are on their way to their new home:

    This particular Tractor Supply also has a garden center, and all of their plants were 50% off!  I felt like a kid in a candy store.  I got another rosemary plant, several bushes, and three peach trees.  We are well on our way to getting a little orchard set up.  All of these plants had been struggling too, but I've nursed them back to health.  Some of the bushes now have blooms.

    Once we got back home and unloaded everything, Colton and I decided to see if our local Tractor Supply was running any sales.  There were no plants, but we found gopher traps and bait in the clearance section (we are still fighting that war), as well as a shirt in Colton's new size and a hummingbird feeder that I will save for next year.  We even found some stain blocking primer in the brand we need for the inside of our garden shed, which is something else we had just talked about.  It was half price.

    Up in the loft, I got some crafting done.  The boys have been wanting some handkerchiefs like Colton's, so I made them some out of James's old crib sheets.   John used these sheets too, so by now they are nice and soft, gentle enough for little noses.  Cut into twelve inch squares, I ended up with eleven of them.  I serged the edges to keep it simple.

    I made some "un-paper" towels in the same way using some flannel I had.  The sticker shock the last time I purchased paper towels was motivation enough for me to make my own.  So far I only have fourteen, but I plan to make more.  I keep them in a basket on the kitchen counter.  

    John watched me as I sewed and got the giggles.  I asked him what was so funny, and he said it looked like the needle on the machine was dancing!  Wouldn't it do us a heap of good if we looked at the world through children's eyes sometimes?

    The new construction sheets I had bought for the boys' beds came in cloth bags made out of the same fabric.  They were awkwardly shaped with huge tags sewn onto the fronts and backs, so I couldn't use them as is, but because we use every part of the buffalo in this household, I took them apart and salvaged what I could.  I got two sets of velcro strips and several construction vehicles cut out.  I can use the construction vehicles as appliques, patches, or in paper crafting.  I played around with some ideas: 

    A plain gift bag embellished with a dump truck and tied with a strip of thrifted curtain "ribbon"...

    ...or a brown Kraft package tied up with twine and a dump truck gift tag for a little boy gift.

    Which is your favorite?  I think I like the tag the best.

    With all of the stress surrounding the Heidi situation this week, I got some deep cleaning done in the bedroom.  Setting things in order and taming the chaos in the form of cleaning is what I tend to do when "I am quite put out", as Lady Catherine would say.  I feel much more calm in tidy spaces and it gives me a productive way to use my energy.  I made up some dusting spray, which is similar to the wood polish I make, but diluted with water.  Most of the recipes for this online were about the same, so I just combined what I had to make my own version.

DIY Dusting Spray

1 cup distilled water
1/4 cup vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
*10 - 15 drops essential oil of choice (orange, lemon, lavender, tea tree, and lemongrass are good choices for scent and cleaning ability)

Combine all the ingredients into a spray bottle and give it a good shake before spraying onto wood surfaces.  Wipe clean with a soft cloth.

*If you don't have essential oils, you can submerge orange or lemon peels in white vinegar and store in a dark place for a couple weeks to make infused, scented vinegar with extra cleaning properties.  Just give the jar a good shake every few days.

    I used 15 drops of orange and 5 drops of cinnamon (yes, I used some extra drops) for a fall-scented spray.  I don't usually jump ahead to seasons before they get here, but this summer's heat and humidity have been so brutal, I needed just a taste of my favorite season!  I used a label from JES at Mistress of the House on Etsy.  My dusting cloth was one of James's old, plain white crib sheets cut into large squares.

    I put on Homemaker's Radio and tackled my nightstand first, which is really a little bookshelf that holds all of my "girly books"- the ones on homemaking, decorating, motherhood, biblical womanhood, and marriage.  My ever-growing collection had gotten out of hand, with books piled on top and stacked sideways in the gaps.  I took everything off the shelves, dusted, and put back my favorites.  The rest will be moved to other bookshelves in the home. 

    Some of my favorites:

    The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace

    The Lifegiving Home by Sally and Sarah Clarkson

    The Nesting Place by Myquillin Smith (I have her set of three and like them all!)

    My collection of Emilie Barnes books

    Cottage style decorating books, mostly vintage, but including my new Hill House Vintage by Paula Sutton.  I used to follow her when I was active on Instagram and it fed my inner cottage-loving, Anglophile heart.

    There are others that I still haven't read, but I am working on that!  I recently enjoyed both of Dana K. White's books: Decluttering at the Speed of Life and How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind.  Her advice was practical and she wrote with such humor (if you can't tell by her titles) that I laughed out loud several times.

    I limited the top of my nightstand to my one current read so I wouldn't feel overwhelmed by that "silent to-do list", as the Minimal Mom calls it.  I've chosen Mother Culture for a Happy Homeschool by Karen Andreola. 

    Have you read any of these books?  What are your recommendations in the homemaking/biblical womanhood genre?

    By the end of my cleaning spree, I had cleaned my books and nightstand, swept underneath it and behind, laundered the curtains, cleaned the inside of the windows, and wiped down the walls and baseboards on either side of the bed.  It smelled wonderful and fresh.  I didn't finish the entire room, but there is always next week.

    How was your week?  As always, I hope you enjoy a lovely weekend.


  1. Many years ago (1998, to be exact), we re-homed our puppy. That new home lasted all of 6 hours---we called and wanted her back! I'm glad to know your sweet girl is in a home where she will fit and be so loved.
    I use un-paper towels too. I have ordered mine from an Etsy shop (as I don't sew). They are a lovely cotton flannel. I love them.
    Any book by Sally Clarkson I highly recommend. Besides The Lifegiving Home, I've loved The Ministry of Motherhood and The Mission of Motherhood and The Lifegiving Table. I never read the Mother Culture book by Karen Andreola, but her Charlotte Mason Companion was a lifeline for me during my homeschooling years. Another Biblical womanhood book I would recommend is Eve in Exile by Rebekah Merkle. It's a newer book---I just read it last year and gave it 5 stars. Definitely worth reading!

    1. It sounds like your little puppy was just meant to be with you, Patti!
      Thank you for the book recommendations. I have Ministry of Motherhood, but I haven't read it yet. Anything by Sally Clarkson is on my wish list- I love her!

  2. Our Tractor supply has some chicks also. We always fed our dogs dry food. Much easier, so much easier!! They get used to it and crunch it down. I think you made the right decision giving away the dog. We've done that many times. The kids want a puppy....we get a puppy....not good with little kids nor with me trying to handle little kids and a dog. I always felt that a dog (especially a puppy) took as much time as a kid (sometimes) and minus the love, as a love for your children cannot be compared! andrea

    1. Puppies do take a lot of time and work! I think if we get another one, it will be when my boys are older and able to take on that responsibility themselves.

  3. My copy of 'The Excellent Wife' just fell apart from so much handling about twenty years ago. I like Emilie Barnes books, too. They are so practical.

    I think you did the right thing for y'all and Heidi. Great deal on the plants!

    1. Thank you, Lana! I think The Excellent Wife is the best book on marriage and a woman's role in it that I have ever read.

  4. No stones cast by me on rehoming Heidi. I had a dog for over five years and we just never were a good fit. When I found her eating kittens I was done. There was no excuse for a dog with easy access to food and game to be eating kittens! I rehomed her and we've been very blessed with dogs that were a good match for us since then and kept them for years and years with long healthy lives for all.

    1. Oh, Terri! Eating kittens would've been it for me too- how terrible! I'm glad you've had other dogs work out for you and your family. We still have our Sadie. She is a great dog and an asset to our homestead- she won't be going anywhere!

  5. I just love it when all my areas are cleaned and neat and tidy. It just makes everything better. I will have to give your dusting spray a try as I am out of furniture polish. What a great week you had, finding the new baby chicks at Tractor Supply was so neat. We love it when we have chickens here. Sounds like Heidi 's new owner is very excited to have her, that is so terrific and must have really put your mind at ease. Those types of decisions can be heart wrenching. I'm glad you still have Sadie and I hope you have a lovely weekend.

    1. Thank you Belinda! I was very pleased with the dusting spray. I agree- tidy spaces make everything better!
      Yes, my mind was put at ease meeting Heidi's new owner. I think she has gone to a very good home where she will be loved.

  6. The dusting spray recipe is perfect because I recently ran out of my purchased dusting spray. I just made spray using your recipe and it smells amazing (I used tea tree oil) and works well. My daughter who's heading off to college and I are going to make some for her to take to college with her for her apartment there. Thanks for the recipe! And great job on finding discount plants at Tractor Supply. How exciting to get to save money and get new plants. Good luck with them.

    1. I'm so glad you like the dusting spray, Maria! Thank you for letting me know! Your daughter's apartment will smell so nice and fresh. I love that y'all are making some together.
      Yes, I was very excited to find the plants half off! So far they are all doing very well.
      Thank you for sharing here today!

  7. Disposing of a dog or cat that is an inconvenience
    is morally wrong. Taking the time to train the animal
    is necessary. Thank you for not dumping Heidi on
    the side of the road.

    1. "Disposing" of an animal who kills livestock is typically what happens on a working ranch, and I can assure you that it usually looks very different than what we did for Heidi. It was in her best interest to go to an owner who could give her the attention and training that she needs. It was also in the best interest of our livestock, whose safety and lives we also have to consider. Heidi is in a good place and I have zero regrets.


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