Nine Months on Our Farm

This season is what I’ve dreamed of since we started building our house. I love fall. I couldn’t wait for crisp fall evenings, for sitting on the patio with a blanket and a hot tea and watching the sunset. My favorite season is finally here and I’m loving every minute of it.

This month also marks nine months since we moved into our house and started working on our little farm. Here’s what’s going on now…


A few months ago, a friend made us this gorgeous custom farmhouse table. I finally found the chairs I wanted to go with it and got a few final details added. My dining room is done!

I’ve been adding curtains to the house room by room. I finally found some that my husband and I both loved for the master bedroom. I also picked up some new pillows to bring a little more color into the room.

We started our landscaping just a couple of weeks ago. We decided to with Indian Hawthorn bushes in the back (a favorite of ours that we’re familiar with from our last home) and smaller bushes in the in the front. We still need to add more but we’re going to let these grow a bit before we do.


In September, our girls’ combs and wattles started really growing in. We were hoping for eggs as soon as mid-October, so in late September we opened their nesting boxes to give them time to get used to them. As of this post, they still aren’t laying, but Bielefelders do tend to be late layers – I’ve been told six to seven months, sometimes even later.

The chicken run got an upgrade when my husband and youngest added roosts on the east side of the run. The chickens love to hang out on that side in the evening! They also love to come “visit” with us when we’re outside the run.

We also did our first big coop clean out in early October. We use the deep fill method in our coop, so we only have to do a big clean out a couple of times a year. All I can say is thank goodness, because it was a long, hard, miserable day. At least we have several months before the next one!

A fish stocking company comes to our local famer’s co-op store periodically. We used them to stock our band with crappie, catfish, and blue gill. We’ll also add some bass in the near future. My boys both love to fish, so they’re looking forward to next year, when our fish are big enough to catch and eat.

While this isn’t technically “on the farm,” it’s deer hunting season in Oklahoma, and it’s a big deal in our family. My husband and my youngest are both avid hunters. Bow season started October 1st, and so far my youngest has gotten one.

Planning ahead:

(1) Pigs: We want to be ready for pigs in the spring, so once we find what we’re looking for, we can pick them up immediately. My husband and boys are planning to build a shelter and pen close to our chicken coop.

(2) Quail: We’re going to use a portion of the shed that houses chicken coop for our quail. My husband builds most of what we need, but I think we’re going to buy our quail cages. We want to get our pigs first, so I’m not sure if we’ll get our quail this summer or maybe even later.

(3) Fencing: This is going to be a huge project but we hope to get to it soon. Our design plan included white fencing down our driveway, and we want to finish that out for aesthetics. But we also need good fencing before we move ahead with getting sheep. There are a lot of coyotes around here, so we need really strong fencing and a good livestock guardian dog. We’re also planning to give our existing fence a fresh coat of paint.

(4) Small garden: I’m thinking really seriously about planting a small garden come spring. It will probably need to be a raised bed garden because our soil has a lot of clay in it. I’m thinking of planting a few easy, basic things like tomatoes, zucchini, squash, and peppers. I may start a small container herb garden as well.

What fall projects are you working on?

Book Flight: Suspense With Unique Detectives

Some of the earliest books I fell in love with were mystery and suspense. I read every Trixie Beldon, Three Investigators, and Nancy Drew book my little hometown library had to offer when I was in elementary school. Suspense is still my favorite genre.

While I absolutely love a good, traditional suspense, some stand out for their unique perspective. Here are four great series that feature unique detectives as the main character.

Steven James: Patrick Bowers series

Patrick Bowers has to be one of my all time favorite fictional characters. Patrick is an FBI agent and environmental criminologist – he studies crime as it relates to place. In other words, they try to figure out why a killer chooses a certain place to kill or to hide the victims, which can help lead to finding suspects. There’s also an ongoing storyline throughout the series related to one of Patrick’s earlier cases. Start with The Pawn and read these in order. While James has written several prequels, I think it adds to the story to figure things out along the way, so read Opening Moves and his other prequel books after you finish Checkmate.

This multi-award-winning series is not for the faint of heart – while this series is Christian fiction, James doesn’t shy away from realistic and sometimes gruesome details. I personally love this series, but if you like slightly less intense books, skip this one and check the Gwen Marcy series.

Carrie Stuart Parks: Gwen Marcy series

Carrie Stuart Parks balances the perfect amount of humor with suspense in her Gwen Marcy series. Gwen is a single mom, divorcée, cancer survivor, and forensic artist. Parks herself is a forensic artist, so she draws on her experience (no pun intended) to make these books realistic. Be sure to start with A Cry from the Dust and read these in order. While intense at times, I don’t think any of the details in these these would bother the average reader.

Sibella Giorello: Raleigh Harmon series

FBI agent Raleigh Harmon is a forensic geologist whose life was shattered when her dad was murdered. Now she’s juggling her career with helping her mentally ill mother. Raleigh draws on her geology expertise to find details others might overlook as she solves crimes.

Another unique thing I love about this series is the Southernness. I was born and raised in south Arkansas, so Southern culture (like our manners and our food) are deeply ingrained in me. Giorello perfectly describes the one-of-a-kind culture of the South. The characters are so real you almost feel like you know them personally.

There are technically three parts to this series: the original five book series, the newer series (which picks up after Raleigh makes some major life changes), and the YA series that covers some of Raleigh’s teen years. My recommendation: start with the original series (The Stones Cry Out is book one), then read either the new books or the YA series.

Tim Downs: Bugman series

This really unique Christian fiction series is another series that is not for the faint of heart. Dr. Nick Polchak – the Bugman – is a forensic entomologist. He studies bugs at crime scenes, so as you can imagine, this series can get a little gross. However, it is Christian fiction and very clean reading, if you can handle the subject matter.

What books have you read with a unique detective? Feel free to share your favorites in the comments. I’m always ready to try a new-to-me author!

How I Plan With My Passion Planner

My husband jokes that my planner has become a hobby unto itself. He’s not wrong. I’ll admit, I’m totally dependent on my planner. On paper, at least, I’m very organized.

After several years of using a bullet journal, I switched to Passion Planner last year. I still use what I refer to as a modified bullet journal method. In fact, one of the things that initially drew me to the brand was the many blog posts and articles I saw about people bullet journaling in their Passion Planner. It offers structured monthly and weekly pages with lots of blank pages and free space for plenty of flexibility. You can read more about why I love this planner so much here.

My 2021 planner was delivered a few weeks ago, and I love it! I can’t wait to start using it. I’ll show my setup for that closer to the start of the new year, but in the meantime, I wanted to share how I currently plan with my Passion Planner.

1. Monthly planning

I keep big events on my monthly planner pages – holidays, birthdays, meetings, deadlines, special events, etc. I also track things here that I need to see quickly, without digging through weekly pages – when did I last change out my contacts lenses, when did we change the air filters at home, etc.

2. Weekly planning

My weekly pages are for my detailed weekly planning – daily schedules, to-do lists, meal plans, habit trackers, etc. Everything here is color coded: my work is purple, personal (appointments, events, etc.) is pink, my husband is brown, my boys are green and blue, church is orange, family is yellow. I started doing that when I went back to college to finish my degree in 2010. I had to be able to tell what was going on each day with a glance. It worked so well I’ve continued it all these years.

3. Blogging and writing

I use a great free printable chart for tracking my blog and social media stats each month. It gives me an idea on strengths and weakness as far as social media sites are concerned and shows me if I’m headed in the right direction. You can download it here.

4. Crafting

This is the first year I kept a craft log and it’s been fun! I keep a record of each crochet project, when I started, when I finished, and details about the pattern, hook size, and yarn used.

5. Reading

For the past several years, I’ve done Modern Mrs. Darcy’s reading challenge. I love it because it’s very flexible but also pushes me to read a little bit outside my comfort zone for some books. I also track what I’ve read with a little review on each book.

6. Christmas

I keep a list of Christmas gifts I’ve bought and how much I’ve spent on each person in the back of my planner. Closer to Christmas, I also highlight each gift as I wrap it. That helps me make sure I don’t forget any gifts. Not that I’ve learned that from experience or anything…

7. Important Details

I use the last page in my planner for important details I might need in a hurry – our dog’s microchip number, my professional license numbers, and other odds and ends. It’s nice to have it all one place so I don’t have to dig when I need it.

What type of planner do you use? Are you sticking to your current setup for 2021 or are you changing things up?

5 Ways to Save on Books

Avid readers can never get enough books, but most of us have to work within a budget. Buying every new book by every favorite author can get expensive. Here are five easy ways I’ve found to get books without breaking the bank.

1. Use your library

While using the local library is a given for most readers, you may be missing out on everything your library offers. There is so much more than just the books at your local branch.

In addition to physical books, most libraries use apps such as Hoopla, Overdrive, and Libby. Find out which ones your local library uses and download them all. I’ve found that different books are available on different apps in our local library system. If I can’t find it on Hoopla, I may find it on Libby, or vice versa.

Ask about library sales. While this is on hold in most places due to COVID, library sales are a great way to pick up good deals while helping your local library raise money. We often stock up for our own personal collections and for our church library at these sales.

Ask about getting books from other libraries. While we live in a small town, our local library is great. Not only do they have a great selection here, but they’re part of a larger system of libraries. If they don’t have it at our branch, there’s a good chance they have at another one. It usually only take a few days to get it here.

Find out what larger libraries in your area offer. We live about thirty minutes from a larger town, just across the border in another state. They have a huge library that offers a card for $35 a year to non-residents. It’s well worth it for our family of readers to pay that and have full access to that library.

2. Tyndale Reader Rewards

Tyndale Reader Rewards is a great program that lets you earn points by taking surveys and doing other simple tasks. You can cash in those points for free physical books. It’s easy to use – my oldest son and I have both redeemed points and gotten some great books from this program.

3. Become a NetGalley reviewer

NetGalley offers advance ebook copies of soon to be released books in exchange for an honest review. Their app makes it easy to download and read books on your iPad or other device. I’ve discovered some amazing authors through reviewing books!

4. Follow book bargain sites

BookBub is my new favorite book deal website. I signed up for alerts on Christian fiction and have found books by favorite authors at great prices.

Modern Mrs. Darcy’s daily deals is another great one. While her list is more nonfiction and general market fiction, I do occasionally pick up one or two from her list.

5. Preorder from your favorite authors

I love preordering books. Publishers frequently offer an incentive for preordering. Recently one favorite author’s newest book was offered with bonuses, free shipping, and a discount for preordering. Ebooks are often offered for preorder at a much lower price than they will be at release. Plus, preorders help authors. They show the publisher that there is a demand for an author’s books.

What are your favorite ways to save on books?

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