Memories Made with the Old Order Mennonites

Recently, I stumbled across some written memories I recorded after visiting our Old Order Mennonite friends. My mother had come along for this visit. During the time of our visit, our Old Order Mennonite friends were in the midst of cleaning, in preparation for the wedding of their daughter. This wedding was to take place in the buggy shed connected to the barn. Here’s a little bit of my journal entry, which provides a small idea of what it’s like to visit an Old Order Mennonite farm.

“Mom was worried about the fact that they were in the middle of a working bee for the wedding with the rest of the ladies. But, our Mennonite friends seemed to have no qualms about laying down their mops to spend an hour of leisure with us. It seems as if nobody keeps track of the time in their world; maybe because nobody has cell phones or watches. Continue reading “Memories Made with the Old Order Mennonites”

Williamsburg Wreaths

Every year, we travel to Williamsburg to enjoy the colonial winter sounds and sights. We also take time to admire the ways that Williamsburg artists use nature to adorn wreaths. Following are some of amazing project ideas of how to make wreaths from the natural products that you can easily find in your backyard or in a grocery store!

1). This wreath is made of dehydrated sliced oranges, pomegranates, dried yarrow, lavender, wheat husks, and lotus pods.


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Four Easy DIY Natural Holiday Decoration Ideas

During the holiday season one of my most favorite things to do is to go outside and gather natural decorations such as pine boughs, pinecones, magnolia leaves, and different types of berries. I love the smells of these decorations. To me, these smells are synonymous with the holiday season. Even if one doesn’t live in the country, it’s easy to gather natural decorations for the home. As a child, I grew up in the suburbs and I remember my mother stopping on the side of the road to gather pinecones or boughs. Magnolia leaves can retrieved on any type of university or park grounds. Berries are often found along country roads and ditches.

Following are four natural and sustainable ideas I have learned from my mother during our suburban galavants that helped to make our home festive without a trip to the supermarket.
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A Recipe for Aluminum-Free Deodorant

Natural deodorants are becoming more popular as people have become increasingly concerned about aluminum-compound ingredients in antiperspirant deodorants. There is a lot of debate about the effects of antiperspirant deodorants. Supposedly the aluminum-based compounds plug the sweat ducts and inhibit the ability for the armpits to sweat up to twenty-percent. This unnatural phenomena has been said to link this to breast cancer and to Alzheimers. The National Cancer Institute discredits this research stating that this information is a common myth and misconception.  However, those who believe in all-natural, holistic remedies can beg to differ. Continue reading “A Recipe for Aluminum-Free Deodorant”

Moving Goats

Have you ever attempted moving ten goats in a two-stall horse trailer? Following is a small video of the Ranchette’s experience of moving ten goats in a horse trailer from one location to another. Just before this video was taken, we were required to pull Janie off of a fellow Ranchette, as she attempted to plow her over. It took all our strength to keep these goats in the trailer as they were loaded, one-by-one. There’s never a dull moment in a goat’s life!!!

Check out Michelle Lynn Decor at and Michelle Lynn Decor on Facebook to learn more about the Ranchette’s farm and to peruse the hand crafted, eco-friendly products made on location.

How to Make Wild Grape Jelly

On a crisp cool day in autumn, one of our favorite things to do is to collect the wild grapes that grow alongside our road.  These grapes are difficult to pick-as they are found high up in branches of trees. With lots of climbing and pulling, we are able to gather a bushel of this fruit from their vines each year.

We use these grapes to make wild grape jelly! There is nothing like the taste of wild grape jelly. It’s flavor is twice as robust as regular grape jelly; leaving a lingering taste of flavor in the mouth long after it’s consumed. It is one of the Ranchette’s favorite breakfast spreads. Wild grapes also provide great health benefits. Research shows that grapes contain powerful antioxidants known aspolyphenols, which may slow or prevent many types of cancer, including esophageal, lung, mouth, pharynx, endometrial, pancreatic, prostate and colon. The seeds from these wild grapes also have great health benefits. Supposedly, the seeds from grapes are rich in antioxidents andoligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (OPCs). OPCs help to destroy free radicals in the body, which in turn may help you avoid premature aging and certain chronic diseases. We usually bake the grape seeds and use them as supplemental ingredients for granola or for bread.

Following is the process of making wild grape jelly. We have used a variety of recipes but this year we adapted the recipe from Genius Kitchen.  Continue reading “How to Make Wild Grape Jelly”

The Unique Personality of Yoohoo, Our Australian Shepherd Dog

Following is a post written by the Ranchette’s niece, Annie, on the family blog Freedom Farm. Annie wrote a wonderful article describing the unique personality of their family Australian Shepherd dog, Yoohoo. Our entire family is very fond of Australian Shepherd dogs and we have many funny stories to tell. Following is a humorous description of Yoohoo.

Yoohoo, our six year old comical pooch, was born on November 6, 2011.  She is considered a blue merle Australian Shepherd dog because of her mottled patchwork of fur. We traveled to the breeder a few days before Christmas with the goal of getting a puppy for our five aunts.  As you can guess, we not only got our aunts’ dog, Bronte; but we also got her bouncy, laughable sister, Yoohoo.
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Five Interesting Things You May Not Know About the John Adams Family

On a summer trip to Boston, I was able to visit the John and Abigail Adams homestead and second home, known as the old house, Peacefield. I was struck with the simplicity and smallness of their homes and the practicality of the Adams upbringing. The Adams lifestyle was one of self-sufficiency, hard work, and melioration. I left with five main impressions.

1). The Adams never had slaves, but employed servants who worked alongside the Adams. During a time when slavery was common-place in early colonial America, the Adams never had slaves. They had paid servants; local white people who they employed and provided fair wages. Of all the presidents, the Adams actually lived what they preached when it came to the issue of freedom and equality. The Adams were hard working people and worked alongside their servants. Abigal Adams was known to keep a very clean house and participated in daily tasks of cooking, sewing, knitting alongside her servants.

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Gluten Free Eggplant Lasagna

This year, our garden has supplied us with basil, tomatoes, and eggplant. With these three items, we were inspired to be creative with our culinary skills, making our own gluten free lasagna. Instead of adding noodles, we used eggplant to substitute. The eggplant and sun dried tomatoes add a meaty texture to the lasagna. The fresh basil makes the lasagna spicy. There’s nothing better than gluten-free lasagna made from fresh herbs and vegetables gathered from summer’s garden. In the picture above, we feature the items that we used to make this delicious lasagna. Below is the recipe that your whole family will enjoy, regardless of their dietary restrictions!
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