New Year Re-Start Part 1: Never Stop Learning

If I look up from my laptop, here’s what I see:


It’s often like that.  Much of my house is like that.  You see, I have yet learned to keep things neat and tidy.  Does the clutter itself truly bother me? No.  It’s the fact that clutter often renders items useless that bothers me. Can I open the middle doors on this cupboard in its current state? No.  Can I find much in that pile? No.

Here’s what it looks like when it’s uncluttered and useful:


People are kind of the same way when we get cluttered:  useless.   When we’re covered with stresses and messes.  When we’re piled up with too much to do and most of it isn’t even necessity.  Or, perhaps, when we’re in a rut — cluttered with the mundane of the day in and day out of life.  Considering there’s not a whole lot on my agenda these days, I’d say I’m feeling the latter.

I have always loved school.  I used to cry on snow days….even in high school!!! I was awarded money from the PTA for never missing a day of school 9-12 grade.  Did I always apply myself? No. But that’s another topic all together.  I enjoyed college and I still enjoy the chance to go to a workshop or class even now in my thirties.   I think I feel better when I’m learning, doing, really being useful with my mind and hands.

So my point here folks is not that I’m going to become a good housekeeper overnight (although I will be try to be more conscious of clutter on all those flat surfaces), but rather that I want 2016 to hold lots of learning for this mama.  This mama who often is a bit uncertain of what the Good Lord even plopped her in this spot for.  I will overcome the clutter of the cobwebs in my mind and put that mind to good use. Today is the last day of January and tomorrow I will re-start my New Year (I can do this because I said so and you can too).  I will commit to not being so sedentary in the mundane.  I have made a list of a some things I would like to try – new skills I would like to learn.  Most are beneficial to our life here on the farm and are steps towards being more self-sufficient.

  • Learn how to render lard (we had the butcher save the fat from our pig we recently had processed. It has many uses from a healthier alternative to Crisco in pie crusts to seasoning cast iron to making soap, etc.).


  • Learn to break down a chicken (We raise our own meat chickens but always have them left whole.  The cost is higher to have them broken down further, so I would like to try to do it myself with a few of them so that we can still have chicken breasts, thighs, drumsticks, etc).
The trunk of my husband’s car as it returned from the local poultry processor – full of whole chickens we raised here on our farm.
  • Black Walnuts – harvest, hull, cure, store, crack & use! (We have an abundance of Black Walnut trees here on the farm.  Up until a few years ago there were still buckets of decades old Black Walnuts in our attic – put there most likely by my father, his parents and siblings. I would like to revive this age old practice).


  •  Try making pickles in a crock as my grandparents did.  We still have the crocks in the cellar and we grow pickling cukes and dill in the garden.  Most of my canned variations have turned out mushy, so perhaps this would work better?
Pickling Cucumbers


  • Make Homemade Condensed Soups: Cream of Chicken & Cream of Mushroom (We enjoy the casseroles and dishes that these soups help to create, but I really do not like the needlessly long list of unnatural ingredients that are on the canned store bought versions).


  • Continue to perfect my Aunt Jane’s bread recipe and attempt her cinnamon rolls as well.
My Aunt Jane’s bread recipes seen here as she scrawled them out on paper. They are all incomplete in some form so I have been looking at a bread making book to help fill in the holes. I am told this is the same bread that my grandmother made and quite possibly, her mother before her.
IMG_20150121_113121 (1)
It’s a great feeling to work at this task on the same bread board that my grandmother used in this same farmhouse from 1911-1973.
  • Make my own Sourdough Starter and bake Sourdough Bread (actually, I would really like to stop buying bread from the store entirely).


  • Freeze Broccoli & Cauliflower for use throughout the year (Broccoli & cauliflower are two of our favorite vegetables and we eat a lot of them.  I would like to increase the amount we grow and successfully store some away for use once summer is over).



  • Grow and store carrots (With 2 rabbits and a guinea pig eating them besides ourselves, we go through a lot of carrots but have not actually grown them here before.  I would like to give it a shot and also see if we cannot come up with adequate storage to keep them at least through Christmas.)


  • Learn to make a Pumpkin Pie from scratch.  I realize the canned pumpkin puree really isn’t bad, but we always have extra pumpkins and I have always thought about trying this and never have.
Extra pumpkins in the garden this past year. They ended up being fed to the piggies. :)


There it is.  New things I would like to learn this year.  It’s a pretty hefty list, I realize, but they all fall at different parts of the year and some can be done anytime of year, so I plan to balance it out.  Perhaps one a month!

What do you want to learn as you press re-start on 2016?

What clutter do you want to clear to make yourself more useful?



About the author


I am a child of God -- seeking daily to walk in the Way. I am the daughter of a farmer. I am married to an awesome man who makes it possible for me to live out my dream of keeping the farm that has been in my family for 110 years. I am the mother of two. We have laying hens for eggs, raise our own chicken, pork and beef as well as have a large garden. We sell the excess produce at our roadside stand along with my crafts and photography. Thanks for reading about our adventures. God bless!

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