Arrow Hill Homestead


Our dream to live on a small farm or homestead goes back to the very beginning of our marriage. We met through the FFA right after high school, married soon after and studied agriculture in college. We both grew up on family farms and had a desire to raise our children on a farm.

While preparing for graduation and entering the workforce, we still had that desire to have a little piece of land that was our own. Our first house was on an acre and we were able to garden there. After moving to Georgia, the second home we purchased was also on an acre. We had plans to garden and have chickens.

We soon learned that it was illegal to have any livestock in our county if you lived on less than 2 acres. After learning this in mid-2013, we were so ready to move. It was frustrating that you could live on an acre and not have a few hens in your backyard!

In 2014, we found a home on 7 acres that we really liked and even put our home on the market. We prayed and prayed and prayed some more but realized it was not the right time. That was hard. Then in early 2015, we found another home on several acres that we really liked and we submitted an offer after much prayer that was promptly refused. We stopped looking and in 2015 and 2016, we focused on making the most of what we had where we were – we gardened, planted fruit trees and did what we could. We still were dreaming of our own little piece of land but we were content where we were.

In early 2017, we felt a restlessness again and started browsing the real estate listings frequently. We looked at a couple houses that fit into what we were looking for but they weren’t right.

Then in late March, we found a newly listed home and property.  It wasn’t perfect, the house was a little weird to me and there was not even a complete driveway but it was in area we wanted to be in, less than 20 minutes from my husband’s office, was in our price range and at 1,800 square feet it gave our family room to grow but wasn’t too big. (We didn’t want a home over 2,000 square feet.)

We made an offer which was accepted and then worked hard to get our house ready to go on the market. We listed it and accepted an offer within 5 days! Everything just seemed to fall into place and we were confident that little piece of land was the place we had been waiting for all of these years.

We closed on May 2nd ( when I was 37 weeks and 2 days pregnant) and started working on making this house and land into our little homestead. Our baby girl was born in our home just 10 days later.

In the 10 months we’ve lived here, we’ve added chickens, pigs and sheep. We raised a batch of broilers (meat chickens) and have processed them. John David has an older tractor for pasture management, we’ve planted a small orchard and have two garden plots. And, we’re having a blast!

We decided to name our place Arrow Hill Homestead inspired by Psalms 127:3-4 “Sons are indeed a heritage from the LORD, children, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons born in one’s youth.”

I am so thankful everyday when I am able to feed animals and gather eggs – I can’t believe this is our reality, we are living our dream!

If you’re interested in following along our homesteading journey, we’ve started a family blog that will be covering everything from daily chores and baby chicks to butchering pigs and gardening.

Arrow Hill Homestead Website

Arrow Hill Homestead Facebook Page

Arrow HiIl Homestead Instagram

 

 

Upcycling Cloth Diapers

 

We’ve been using cloth diapers for nearly 7 years. All of our kids are out of diapers now (our daughter has been out of day time diapers for almost a year) but we’re still using one cloth diaper each night for our daughter.

After being used continuously for 6 years, most of our diapers were in pretty rough condition. Once our youngest potty trained, I went through our stash and pared down to the diapers that were in the best condition to be used as her nighttime diapers and to save for a possible future baby.

What happened to the rest of the diapers?

Swim Diapers

Diaper shells that were leaking due to damaged PUL became swim diapers. I kept two for Cecilia and the rest were passed on to friends.

The bumGenius shells make excellent swim diapers. In my experience, they do a great job keeping in solids (we had a pool for 3 years when our boys were small so I have firsthand experience!)

Cleaning Rags

Cotton prefolds make wonderful cleaning rags. We had several Gerber prefolds that are now my favorite cleaning rag they are great at absorbing spills. They also absorb water really easy which makes them great as a damp cloth for cleaning.

I don’t have any of the thicker prefolds as cleaning rags at this point because I passed on some of these when Cecilia potty trained because they still had quite a bit of life left in them for diapering.

Absorbing and Cleaning Cloths

After being used for nearly 5 years straight, our microfiber inserts still absorbed but smelled horrible after a few wears. It got to where I was stripping nearly every 2 weeks because of microfiber smells. At that point, I replaced all of my microfiber inserts with infant prefolds which took care of the smell issue.

What should you do with all of your microfiber inserts?

They make wonderful cleaning cloths!

My favorite cleaning cloth is the bumGenius newborn insert. When we have a spill, we just place one of these inserts over the spill and it absorbs the liquids up so fast. And, since they’re not being used for diapering, there is no microfiber stink to deal with.

Find a New Home for Useful Diapers

I only suggest upcycling diapers that are no longer useful for diapering babies. If the PUL is still in good condition, the prefolds are not in tatters and your microfiber still has life in it, find a new home for those diapers! Either try to sell them and make back a bit of your investment or just pass them on to another parent who can continue using them.

 

If you cloth diapered, what did you do with your stash once you were finished diapering your babies? 

Our Summer Garden

2016 Garden

Our garden is doing pretty good this summer and we’ve been enjoying tomatoes for several weeks now. Tomatoes are my favorite vegetable to grow!

I’m always amazed at the growth this time of year. Our cantaloupe, watermelon and sweet potatoes have all grown out of their beds and appear to be taking over the garden. It definitely is no longer neat and tidy but it is productive!

Garden

This is what our garden looked like on July 8, right before I harvested the corn.

Garden in April

Here’s the same view from April 24. It’s amazing how things grow so fast!

Squash and Cucumbers

I purposely planted fewer cucumbers this year but they are very prolific and we’ve been picking cucumbers for weeks. I’ve made several batches of refrigerator pickles as well as canned Bread and Butter Pickles and Dill Chips.

Our squash and zucchini have done very well this year too. We’ve eaten quite a bit and have blanched and frozen some to add to stir fry this winter.

Corn and Vegetables

We had a decent sweet corn harvest. This was our second year to grow corn but the first year in a raised bed. We only had 12 corn stalks but they produced  pretty well.

Garden Harvest

I have several Marigolds planted throughout the garden and I think they’re just lovely. I’ve enjoyed picking small bouquets of marigolds and whatever other flowers are blooming.

We’re also still getting CSA boxes each week (the bottom right picture is one of our CSA boxes).

Canned Tomatoes and Pickles

This past week, I canned Dill Chips and Tomatoes. I ended up with 7 quarts of tomatoes which will be used as the base for chili and vegetable soup this fall and winter. I’m hoping to can quite a few more quarts of tomatoes and hopefully salsa in the coming weeks.

Harvest

Now that our tomatoes are in, our garden pictures are much more colorful! I’m enjoying our Cherokee Purples the most – they are an amazing tomato! I eat them plain or with bread and mayo for a simple but delicious tomato sandwich. Our yellow pear and cherry tomatoes are doing quite well, I’ve been adding them into my scrambled eggs each morning and that is so yummy. We’ve also picked two of our sugar baby watermelon (top left picture). They’re tiny but taste pretty good!

I’m starting to plan our fall garden and am looking forward to many, many more weeks of gardening and backyard produce!

PeapodMats Review

PeapodMats Review

All of our children have potty trained right around the age of 2. It’s wonderful having them out of diapers, especially since we cloth diaper and wash diapers every other day. However, we’re still dealing with night time wetting with all three kids (currently ages 6, 4 and 2).

We used cloth diapers at night for awhile with our oldest child but soon they started irritating his bottom. We tried night time potty training for awhile, creating a chart to reward dry nights, hoping it would work. It didn’t, his little body just wasn’t ready and we didn’t push the issue.

So, we switched to disposable diapers at night. And, I hated it. I didn’t like spending money on the diapers, couldn’t stand that they sometimes leaked (then I still had to wash all of the bedding) and hated that the diapers were going to the landfill.

Occasionally, I’d try putting both boys back in cloth diapers at night in hopes they would work. Unfortunately, they continued to irritate their bottoms and sore bottoms just isn’t worth it even though the cloth diapers were more environmentally friendly. (Thankfully, our 2 year old daughter is still able to wear her cloth diapers at night without any irritation!)

Finally, after nearly 4 years of purchasing night time disposable diapers, I was absolutely sick of all the waste we were generating. Two kids just wearing 1 diaper a night adds up to a lot of waste each week.

I started researching for a night time solution. I knew cloth diapers were out of the question. I didn’t just want to let them sleep without anything and wet the bed each night because washing all of the bedding and a mattress protector times two is a lot of hassle, especially since they’re in bunkbeds.

PeapodMat

In my search, I came across PeapodMats and was immediately intrigued by their product. It seemed like it was the exact product we needed. If it worked like they claimed it did, it would be the answer to our night time wetting dilemma.

After reading a few reviews, watching a video demonstration of the product and talking it over with my husband, I purchased one of the 3×3 PeapodMats for $39.99 from Amazon to try out.

Yes, $39.99 is a lot to spend on a simple mat but I was spending around $40 for 6 weeks worth of diapers for my boys. If this one time purchase of the mat really worked, I would not only be saving about $40 every 6 weeks but we’d also stop creating diaper waste.

The boys and I eagerly anticipated the arrival of the Peapod. The day it arrived, we were excited to get it washed and get it on the bed. Since both boys wanted to try it out, they slept together in Paxton’s bunk.

It worked well, they both wet that night and the Peapod absorbed all of the liquid and didn’t leak through to the sheets. The next night, one was dry and the other boy was wet and it worked again!

And, our great surprise was that our 6-year-old started waking up dry some mornings. He’s now dry about 50% of the time. Before we purchased the Peapod, he was wet every single night. He has told us that he sometimes would pee in his nighttime diaper before he fell asleep because he didn’t want to get out of bed. Now that he’s not wearing a diaper, he is more careful to pee right before bed, get up to go if he has the urge before he falls asleep and he’ll get up earlier in the morning to pee. I’m convinced that using the PeapodMat  is going to result in him being fully night trained before nighttime diapers would. (He’s actually been dry 7 days in a row now…I’m hoping this continues!!)

5x5 PeapodMat

Since things were going so well with the Peapod mat we ordered, we had the opportunity to work with PeapodMats and review another mat. We ordered a 3×5 mat to try out this time. The 3×5 mat fully covers the entire width of a twin size bed so the extra width provides more protection which is nice if your kiddos move around a lot!

We found that the 3×3 works best with both boys sleeping together since they can’t move that much. When Weston is sleeping on his 3×3 mat alone, he tends to move off of it some nights. We’ve had a few leaks from him rolling off of the mat and onto the bed. If I had to do it over again, I’d spend the extra money and purchase the 3×5 mat for the extra width making it less likely for the child to roll off the mat.

PeapodMat on Bed

We’ve been using our mats for 7 weeks now, I haven’t had to purchase a single diaper so we’ve already saved $40 and will be saving money well into the future because these mats will last for a long time.

We’ll probably be purchasing another mat in the near future to begin using with our daughter (unless Paxton continues to stay dry at night and then we’ll give Weston the 3×5 and Cecilia will get the 3×3 mat!) She’s currently wearing cloth diapers at night but wakes up dry nearly 50% of the time too. We think if she’s not sleeping in a diaper, something may click and she may begin waking up dry even more.

And, the use of these mats is not limited just to night time wetting, I could see them being useful with infants (spit up, blow outs, cosleeping), they make great nap mats and I think they would be quite handy when a stomach virus is making its way through the family.

If you’re tired of the expense and waste of night time diapers with your kids, I highly recommend purchasing a PeapodMat. After the one time expense of the mat, you’ll start saving money by not having to purchase diapers that you just throw away. And, maybe the mat will help your kiddos have some dry mornings too!

PeapodMats is a a small, mom owned business. I love that purchasing these mats supports small business owners and not a large corporation.

You can purchase PeapodMats directly from their website (they are a Canadian company so shipping to the US is a little pricey), from their retailers or via Amazon.

Disclosure – I purchased my first PeapodMat at full price and received the second for the cost of shipping. I was not provided any other compensation for this review, I just want to share a fabulous product with my readers. This post does contain Amazon affiliate links.