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1267 East 1200N Road
Melvin, IL, 60952
United States


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Grab a beverage, find a comfy chair, and catch up with what we have been doing. You can read it all here on our blog page

Life Balance - For Real?

Ann Stoll

Probably the thing I hear many people, women in particular complain about is trying to balance life and work. I'm going to cut through the chase right now and tell you, it's a myth. A big fat lie that glossy photos and Cosmopolitan magazine-type articles tell you. That you CAN have it all and do it all. Ok, I guess you can. But can you do it well? Are you satisfied with mediocrity?

Being an older woman (here we go again), I can safely say, that I've tried it all. I've lived it all. And I failed much. Actually, I probably fail every day. But there is a difference now. I've learned something along the way. It's okay to fail. It's okay to be happy being a stay at home mom, one of the highest and most important jobs on this planet. But it is also okay to be a working mom, too. I've already alluded to what I believe to be the best of it all, but I'm not talking about this in my blog post. Every woman needs to do what she is called to do. But does that mean she needs to do everything all at once or at the moment? No, I don't think so.

There is a time for everything. A time to bear and raise children. A time to learn and grow and be creative. A time to climb the ladder. A time to be a wife. Actually, this last one is very important. If you are a married woman, your husband needs to be your first priority. One of the goals of raising kids and if you did it well, they should at some point move out and be self-sufficient. You are then left with the husband of your youth. If this relationship is not nurtured and put first in your life from the get go all the way until the empty nest, how can you expect to pick up those pieces? Marriage is hard enough without having to rebuild the relationship from scratch and find that spark again. Fan the flames NOW!

Thinking you can balance all the things of life and be great at all of it will just wear you down and cause you think less of yourself. Instead, try prioritizing what you need to do right now. If you are married and have kids. Start there. Do this well, first. Then add in other things slowly. I know it's hard sometimes to do this, but I did it several years ago.

When my boys were in 2nd and 3rd grade, we pulled them out of school to homeschool. Best thing we ever did. No joke. At the time, I also had a successful landscape/design business that I worked by myself and I liked it that way. I learned very quickly that I couldn't do both well. So what was important? My kids of course. Having a business is not that important to me. While I love doing my own thing and being creative, I found other ways to satisfy these urges while schooling my kids. As the years moved along, Blossom's Barn became alive. For the first four years, it sort of stayed more of a hobby that made a few bucks to pay for supplies. But I was still schooling my kids, so I didn't have the time to pour into this business. Now that they are graduated and moving along with life, this past year has afford me the time to knuckle down and start to make things happen for this business. Now was the time for that, not when I didn't have the time and tried to squish too much into my life. I've been there, done that. 

There is a season in life for the things we want to do. We must learn to be patient in those things. We are better off learning this lesson.

Meet the Girls

Ann Stoll

 My puppy love, Cassidy

My puppy love, Cassidy

It seems our homestead is overrun with girls. Girls of all sorts, coming in all forms. I never purposely intended for that to happen, but if you are raising your own food and animals, you need the girls. 

First up is my favorite girl, Cassidy. She's our Great Pyrenees and keeps our farm safe from all critters that don't belong here all the way down to not approving of worm farts. She lets us know about all of it.

 Hens out for a walk with their rooster

Hens out for a walk with their rooster

We are full of hens, but there is one rooster. These girls and guy, do a great job cleaning up insects and grubs. I really think we have a lower insect population because of their foraging in our yard. They also are terrific and tearing up, er, turning over our flower gardens. They also provide us with the yummies deep orange eggs. Mmmmmm

 Summer in the front, Blondie to the left, and Suzy in the back. We also have Peaches. Summer is at a new home now and Peaches is retired.

Summer in the front, Blondie to the left, and Suzy in the back. We also have Peaches. Summer is at a new home now and Peaches is retired.

Then of course, we have our does. I have two right now in milk production. That milk is what you will find in our soaps. Goats are fun and fairly easy to maintain. Plus they don't eat too much and require little land, although brushy land is preferred.

 Find the queen, if you can!

Find the queen, if you can!

Then there are these girls. They out number us, but I love them. For the most part, they are gentle and pay you no mind. They are too busy to bother with you. Hoping for a honey harvest this year!

 This is Misty. She's our spoiled rotten barn cat.

This is Misty. She's our spoiled rotten barn cat.

And finally, there is Misty. She is a high needs cat. Every day she waits for her special food that the other cats don't get. Why? Because she's Misty and demands special attention. She has her own special cushion and food dishes. Yep. Spoiled. But she is so precious!

We use to also have brood cows, a dairy cow, last year we had three female hogs. But not at the moment. So yes, we tend to be overrun with girls and I'm okay with that. But let me introduce you to one special, smelly guy.

 Meet Bucky

Meet Bucky

Right now, this dude is running with the cattle and he's okay with that. But in another month, you'll know by the twitching of your nose, that he's anxious to get with his girls. Starting about September, rutting season begins. He becomes cranky, smelly and well not very pleasant to be around. You definitely don't want to be out in the pasture when he's like this. He sees you as a target of some sorts and you don't want to be there. But come late November, he is allowed to be put with his girls and he becomes his old happy self again. Maybe another reason why we have girls, boys are grumpy and not safe to be around all the time. 

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed meeting most of our critters.

The Therapy of Bees

Ann Stoll

I got stung today. That hurts.

For years I had wanted a few bee hives. My hubby, even though he has a fear of bees (actually wasps, but that's another story), surprised me one Valentine's Day about six years ago with a double date to a bee keeping class and my first hive. It was probably one of the best things he has ever given me. A hive against his own fears. It is probably my favorite thing that I work with on our homestead. Yes, I love my goats, garden and all that, but there is something special about honey bees. 

Cracking into a hive and looking into their world, because that is exactly what it is, is amazing. They all have a job and do it dutifully or there are consequences. The inter-workings of a hive can leave you with no doubt there is a Creator for there is no way evolution in all its millions of years, could pull this off. Anyway, talking about my hives is not what I'm writing about today.

People seek out the honey bee for various reasons. The obvious is their honey, which if sourced very local to you and is raw (not pasteurized) is known to help with certain allergies. It's better than an allergy shot since it contains all the local pollen that one my be allergic to. Plus it tastes amazing.

But there is one practice I will never understand. Well, I understand it, but I sure can't seem to wrap my head around it and that is bee venom therapy.

Bee venom therapy uses live local bees to inject the beneficial compounds directly into the skin. The stinger is just the right length to penetrate many layers of skin without going too deeply. The bees stings are applied to acupuncture points and areas of chronic pain. It is not known exactly why this therapy has success for many people, but the venom seems to reduce inflammation. Patients with auto immune issues such as gout, MS, and rheumatoid arthritis have experience relief from their symptoms that prescription medicine has not been able to achieve. Keep in mind, bee venom therapy is not a cure. It only may help with chronic pain symptoms.

So when I got stung today, I thought about the people that intentionally have this done to them. It makes me wonder the level of pain they must be in to subject themselves to such a treatment. Bee stings hurt. They hurt for a time and may leave a large swollen, painful area. The person's pain is so great, that the pain of a bee sting is a good alternative to their current condition. 

I do hope it provides real relief because every time a bee stings, it dies. It has a tiny barb on the end of its stinger that will attach itself to the stingee and it will literally rip out of the bee and kill it. I'm very sensitive to the health of bees and try to do my part to raise healthy hives. But, if someone needs bees for relief from a debilitating disease, then so be it.

Of course, if you are allergic to bee stings, then bee venom therapy is not for you. More info on apitherapy can be found at