Spring on the Farm


As things begin to really warm up here at Ervin Highland Farms,  on this Sunny afternoon I have found a window while Iona is asleep to catch you up on what we have been up to since Iona has joined our crew.  I thought I would have more time to write after the baby was born and it turns out that wasn’t true.  There is so much to share from our location here on Mystery  Cave Road with new animals, fences, water features and even some new things happening with our homeschool routine, I can’t wait to share.

On April Fool’s Day I was packing every last item that belonged  to my family from the Silver Run Cabins and moving it to the new Yome.   The doors and floors still need  to be completed but we have been staying here for well over 6 weeks and have completed alot of other tasks.  We finshed  our outhouse, cleaned all of our stored items from the winter out of the chicken coop, purchased a shipping container, which allowed us to clean up alot of miscellaneous corners of wire and collections of things.  I was finally able to start my chicken coop.  Luckily, my neighbor Sonia was looking for someone to give 3 DOZEN eggs to and ran into me on our dirt road and a friendship began! Well it turns out she was preparing to leave her little farm down the road for the summer and needed someone to watch her 4 favorite banty chickens for a few months in exchange for all 10 of the larger chickens.  And so began my chicken herd.  The next week my friend Britni sold me 8 teenager chicks and I am proud to say they are all alive and well. Almost…all of them, actually the first day, as I was putting them into the coop one got away and she was eaten by a predator one night about a week later.  

We have one of the four special banty chickesn sitting on a nest full of both banty and brown large eggs, so keep your fingers crossed I may have my own Banty bunch when these four go back to Sonia in August.  

Also very exciting news is the baby bunnies are here! We have 5 gray bunnies available June 17th, they are crossbred New Zealand / Flemish Giants.  There were 6, but one didn’t make it.  I also bought 6 guinea chicks but we are  at 50% survival as of right now.  Guineas are hard to raise from chicks but I am going to order a solar powered heat lamp for a brooder box or chicken coop that they sell at the local farms store so hopefully I can find some more chicks and have them eat all the ticks around our yard near the Yome.  The other option is tick granuals which sound really nice as long as they don’t poison any of my animals. 

I also have two female Nigerian Dwarf goats at my friend Britni’s farm, and a male at our friend Byron’s cabin just waiting for their awesome goat pent to be ready.  I had mentioned two other female goats on our website, “Gypsy and Joane” however their owner was able to arrange her schedule to be able to keep her goats instead of selling them to me. My friend Britni has been patiently waiting since January for my fence to be built so I was excited when we found more goats for sell and took a ride one night to her friend Amanda’s farm in Harrison.  It was like girls night out, only we had our youngest two children Iona and Brenna and we just got to stop at the Taco Bell on the way to buy the goats.  Ladies’ nights have really changed as I move further away from my wild twenties.

This week Billy is building the goat fence and he is more excited that part of the fence he is building will be for his long awaited highland cattle.   We also have a roll of fence our friend Brandon gave us so we can put a pen up arund our pond and  buy pigs to mate and fix our pond.  We will put them in to eat up all the vegetation growing in the pond first. Once they have eaten all the cat tails and other plants from the bed of the pond we can put clay down and they will run around and stomp the clay into the base of the pond which as legend has it, should “fix” our pond so it will hold water.  It was beautiful when it was full this spring after a real “gully washer!”

The plan is to put the goats next to the yard where the chickens are free ranging around the coop.  This fence is the 4 inch square mesh wire with cedar corner posts and metal T-posts every 8-10 feet.  There will be nice metal gates to separate the different spaces into goat pens.  I plan to milk the goats to make soap, lotion, milk to drink, butter, and cheese. In order to have milk the female goats will have to have kids. He is building a goat house out of cedar posts we harvested from our property and we will be getting some rough wood from the lumber yard to build the walls. The male goat will have time in a separate pen when the females are close  to giving birth.  As  you move closer to the entrance of our farm near the driveway, we will have 6 inch square mesh fencing to keep the highland cattle.  This will begin our rotational process  and  give us safe spaces to keep the animals as we experiment with electric fencing on other pastures.  If we have baby pigs Bill plans to keep them in the back pasture with solar powered electric wire fencing.


She was serious when she said, “let’s just go camping….forever.”

Laundry Day

Old Fashioned ways

We have been so blessed to be able to wash our clothes at our friends house. I found a laundry mat close by, in Timbo, rather than driving to Harrison. Now with my new “WONDER wash” I can wash smaller items down at our spring and hang them out to dry.  The kids were interested in helping because this was the first time I used it, however, as I am editing the original post, I can tell you, we are going to need to use some fabric softener on the socks because, stiff, laundry line socks seem a little… unpleasant. It’s like, ” I wonder if these have been washed.”

All jokes aside,  I do wonder if my children will be treated differently due to our choice to revert back to the old fashioned ways of living.  It is hard for a child to understand why we would want to live in a smaller home with less amenities. My children understand the basic idea but it isn’t something they can explain to their peers.


 When we lived in our old house  and had beautiful appliances, the people who were our friends did not visit. Here, our neighbors visit, and do not seem to judge us for lifestyle.  I found myself showing people pictures of my old house to prove we are worthy of their friendship, but people are different here. Everyone understands why, without explanation. They are more interested in how they can help us, rather than judge us.  Children though, they say what they think, like, “you guys need a bigger house.” Or the look two kids gave each other when Bruce said, “I helped my mom by putting my bed away,” in class.

I have been trying to keep up with the Jones’ for too long,  the race is over, they won. I want to teach my kids that their value is not based on what people in the world think, but how they treat people, how they act, who they are will be what draws their friends to them, not what they have.




“Yoga helps me build strength, balance, and focus.”

-Donna Ervin, certified yoga instructor


Outdoor Yoga schedule

  • Tuesday 9:00 am – stretch and strength
  • Thursday 8:00 pm- relax and recover
  • Saturday 9:00 am – hike and balance
This is the link to the first yoga practice,
June 1st,

Outdoor Yoga for Strength 

Yoga practice

This summer I plan to start teaching yoga classes outside at our property. Starting Tuesday morning, June 1st, join me for yoga at 9 a.m. rain will always postpone our practice until the following day. The yoga I practice is focused on breathing, building strength, flexibility, and focus. I am a faithful Christian mother and believe in a God who is strong enough to show me ideas from other cultures and allow me to practice exercises and techniques that will strengthen this vessel he wove together and I can use my body in this life to glorify His name and share his peace with my brothers and sisters here on earth.



We are back!

As you can imagine things have been moving quickly here now that Iona has joined us. We have been very fortunate to have such a calm, easy to please baby girl.   I have been nursing constantly and as I write this post I feel like I am in a hostage situation hoping the baby will  continue to sleep so I can type.  As we are currently on maternity leave from life I have a very relaxed schedule, however, I am struggling to get into a rhythm with my routine. How about you, have you changed your routine at all this year? How’s your temporary, possibly permanent schedule working out? What are you looking forward to this spring?

Does your Schedule seem off?

As I look at my routine, I like to use bullet journaling to keep track of to-do lists and routines, I have been asking which is the most productive method. The night before the baby was born I  was drawing this page which had a routine for the future, after the baby is born, after we build our yome, after we move out of the cabin….sort of a hypothetical perfect world daily routine. Hygiene, breakfast, home school, animals, dinner.  That seems a little unrealistic since  we are not there yet.  We collecting tools and materials to build a deck for our yome,  but we have been harvesting our own cedar timber due to lumber costs, with the current market maintaining unprecedented high prices, our trees were  growing in our ponds, so they had to go.

The second example is an 8 day spread that easily fits on paper, which is not as pretty but should help me focus on the now rather than the hypothetical. However, this post isn’t a tutorial on bullet journaling;  it is more of a confession of years and years of making these schedules, not keeping track of them, trying again, and  not keeping up with writing in  the schedule. Another strange thing about this post is that it offers no solution, it isn’t a “how to be more effective with your planner” post. I am simply looking at this planner behavioral pattern and asking…why? I guess the only problem I see with this cycle is the guilt I impose on myself when I don’t write in or fill out the schedule.  Why does this have to be so difficult? Leave it to the new mom to write a blog about giving ourselves grace when we look at our accomplishments vs schedules. Why do we feel the need to do the same thing every day, check the boxes and multitask perfectly according to our scheduled itinerary. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you live by the seat of your pants and love it. Let me know in the comments what do you do to schedule or unschedule your routine? How has your routine changed this year?


So, what’s the plan?

We have made some decisions about where to put our Yome, how we plan to live, and our next steps this February.  Now that He has given us Iona, we can really focus on what we need to do together to make our homestead a reality.  With the final frost coming soon we are ready to purchase supplies to build the deck our yome will sit on, nestled next to a row of cedar trees down in  the center 1/3 of our hillside, as you approach the spring.  This space will be less windy and offer a more stable temperature as weather falls on our farm. We have decided to take advantage of the space and privacy we have available on this property, there will be a price, it is further down the hill.  

Future Blog Promises…

Now that Iona is 3 weeks old I am going to commit to creating  2 new posts  each  week, and continuing to improve our website, and update you on our homestead progress. I will also post information about the animals we are raising, random opinions about life as a  mom, recipes, and continue to journal our family’s experience  here in ARKANSAS!


Separate Places for Separate Purposes

During our time rebuilding the spring and setting up our base camp we have been able to study the grade of the land and have a better idea of what we plan  to do with our Yome. The Yome will be a tiny home(19 feet actoss) with a stove and living space for us near the woods, close to the natural water source.  We have a “dig site” which is the same size as the yome dug into the side of the hill higher elevation closer to the road. Our root cellar and kitchen may be an open concept kitchen, with a walk out covered awning to serve dinner at a picnic area with natural stone tile.  We have to build a deck for the Yome first, and raise the Yome this month.  Our new home is currently in boxes in our green house.   I love the cabins we have been staying in at Silver Run Cabin’s in Yellville, AR. We have been collecting all the inspirational details we love from Silver Run, Tyler’s Bend and everywhere along the way in Arkansas to piece together our decisions on moving closer to the woods, using natural stone features, harvesting our cedar from our “holler” and using our spring the most effective  way by locating our shower house close to our natural water source. At this point we are still on target to maintain our home with solar power and natural spring water, we may be able to combine solar and wind  to harvest energy to run the pumps that will move water from our spring to 3 tanks we will place on each of the 3 separate pastures for livestock.  We will test the water for purity before we feed it to our family or animals. With our deck standing around five feet off the ground on one side of the hill we will have space under the deck to build 5 foot tall a crawl space for our composting toilet. By building farther into the property we will really be in the hills but also very secluded from the road.


Josie and Bruce

These two are clearly entering the strange stage that is “being 7,  I recognized it as a grade-schooler, there is an awkward phase 7 year old;s face that includes feeling insecure and awkward which makes me sad for my sweet babies but I have no choice but to watch them grow and continue to face this world we live in together.  With all the changes  we have faced as americans, humans, as a family moving to our new habitat, we have been surprised at how positive, upbeat, and truly motivational these two have been. 

     When we are feeling defeated and doubting ourselves they will loudly proclaim their love for our new life here in Arkansas and remind us of why we came here, and the future we are creating for our family. Who would have thought our 5 and 7 year old’s would be our walking examples of bravery, selflessness, and open-minded easy going little adventurers. They are constantly reminding us of how blessed we are.




Meanwhile, Iona has plans to be a dairy expert when she grows  up, she believes dairy should be everyone’s priority, all the time.


As a teacher, I am excited to learn new material and to share this experience with my family. This farm gives us plenty of new material to learn about animal husbandry, nutrition, behavior. Arkansas also gives us a new set of information to learn about the environment with different plants, soil, weather and culture. I look forward to sharing our story with you and reading your feedback, remember, your feedback is very informative, helping me to understand other peoples perspectives, so don’t hold back!

Donna Ervin, Ervin highland farms

Iona Elizabeth

   Sunday we went to the farm to feed the animals, and I wanted to walk to get excercise, because I wanted to have the baby. As  we walked down to our new fully operational spring box snapped a few PHOTOS, and walked back up,   Bruce guided me up out of the spring,  the very vertical choice of paths, not the path I had specifically requested,”the yome way” as we left the spring. Halfway up the pasture I saw the dig site through  the woods behind  Bruce, I was like this isn’t the way!” It is like climbing stairs straight up into heaven.  I went on  and on making the poor child feel guilty, he just kept trying to sell the way we were taking as the best, fastest, shortest way.  We made it, no problems.

  Monday morning I was scheduled to substitute for a first grade teacher at our local elementary.  I had stayed up late Sunday drawing in my sketching journal and I woke up at 1:45, about 2 hours after I laid down. 

Wait, Sunday the tenth, Bruce had mentioned that it was only 2 DAYS until the baby was due, repeatedly all day. I spent a considerable amount of time and energy trying to explain that it was actually 3 days until  the thirteenth, but this little blonde boy with his sparkling smile and hip circling dance in the kitchen….there was something startling about his words of impending baby. I prayed “Dear God, please let me do this for this sweet boy and girl,” as they high-five each-other and competed in an exaggerated 5-7 year old dance off. 

I am glad something led me to choose not to eat anything Sunday night, I had eaten a bowl of cereal before I made dinner and have been trying to eat based on how I feel rather than just eat whatever I feel like eating. After the kids went to sleep and Billy was snoozing away, I wrote in my journal and decided to order a “Moses Basket” for the new baby. I went to bed around 11:30 and woke to use the restroom at 1:30.  I noticed immediately my lower abdomen was aching and things were moving into the space below my navel between my hips. A lot was happening there, I knew I would not be able to substitute and work with 6 and 7 year old children in this condition, so I cancelled my teaching position on my phone.  After I “got off the fence” and called in basically, my body seemed to take that as permission to go ahead and start to make it clear “these are contractions that are happening.” So I set a timer on  my phone to see how long the contractions were and how far apart. Well, because I hadn’t practiced this, I just set the 5 minute timer and watched as the contraction came to and end, another started and came to it’s completion before the 5 minutes had passed.  So my husband notices all the commotion, leans up on his elbow and asks, “ARE you OK? Is something happening??” “yes…. something is definitely happening, the baby is coming, today or tomorrow, for sure.” 

   The next most important task, in my mind only,  at that time was to have my older two children  run down to our friend’s house to be away from the cabin when the baby arrived. Josie seemed ready, she was like ” I’ll just take this flashlight and go.” Bruce was messing around looking for his hat or other miscellaneous thing, so using my most dragon/batman-like voice I convinced my husband to have him go.

As soon as the kids left, we began to turn on each other. Here is a  glimpse of that dialogue…

“Where are the bags? aren’t there supposed to be bags in here?’

“I do not know, you will have to look in the bag yourself.”

“These gloves don’t even fit on my hands!”

“OH GOSH! OH me OH my.”

Well…this is  gonna be….dupd dldklsk slhed,”


” I say things, I get to talk to myself if I want to,  during this…”

Well how far apart are the contractions supposed to be? 

I was just getting to that part when this contraction started! It’s in  the book, probably in one of the sections labeled….”To the coach…”

We hugged, got back on team Ervin, and as  soon as he said “Ok, I think now if you push, it will happen, it’s right there.” 

I smiled at him and said, ” Good! this is the fast part for us!” 

I pushed, twice and the baby was crying, I nursed and then looked to see it was a girl! Iona Elizabeth came in to our world on “one” while we were planning to count to “three.”



Brothers & Sisters | Illustrated manuscript, Quotes and notes, Irish quotes


   With all of the new baby and new constant nursing routine, it was very exciting to learn today that our Yome is going to ship out next Monday and should be here by the end of the week.  We can begin to build our platform and put our Yome up!  I look forward to living in the Yome as we build our sites on the property.  Our original kitchen and root cellar will be the basement of our own little home which we plan to build with our own materials we will harvest from our land and local  sources.  We found a nice smaller wood stove that will fit perfectly into our Yome, plus it has 5 triangular windows and two doors. We just need to start on the decking and set it up, it is finally ready!  I will be sharing step by step as we transition from our large pasture and forest, to a home.  We have been here for a little over 3 months, sometimes it is easy to forget, we are making progress!


Spring Box Rebuild

 By William Thomas Ervin

Natural Spring

Water from the earth.


little by little



What’s been happening on the farm?

“The journey of 10,000 miles starts with the first step, even if it’s in the wrong direction!”



   Quite a lot actually, we are finding that starting a farm, basically from scratch, is a real challenge. The ability to multi-task, problem-solve, and simply use what the land and day give you, are the keys to slow and steady progress towards our goals. I find this to be the most basic formula for any goal one might have in life.

   Sometimes, we over complicate things to make them seem unachievable and give ourselves a perfectly reasonable excuse not to try.  Although I am a big fan of reasonable and practical thinking, this type of reasoning will not take you from ordinary to the extraordinary places in your life.  The journey of 10,000 miles starts with the first step,  even if it’s in the wrong direction!

   But hey, what has been happening on the farm?

   December has been a great month to finally get started on some projects that are vitally important to the life of a farm, water sources, and fencing.  Let me tell you, this has been a reinvigorating month for me, after spending the last couple months decompressing from the move, establishing a base camp for our family, and adjusting to our new environment with it’s daily living conditions, I was ready to see some real progress.

   After spending a few days cutting trees and brush to access the spring somewhat comfortably, and cleaning up the rats nest of downed barbed wire fence mixed with trash from previous unsuccessful attempts to harvest water from the area, with out digging out the old box; it was finally time to get to work on the spring box, which had completely silted in.  Upon further investigation of the remnants of broken pipe and trash, as well as a conversation with the elderly gentleman who built the spring box in 1977 and did a very good job I might add,  I discovered that the main reason the spring box was silting in, was that a couple of bored country kids had taken the concrete cap off and busted it up, 

   Despite the wreckage,  I was excited to start digging out the old spring box and start  really working on it because it will be the life blood of our reemerging farm.  The days that followed were filled with observation, discovery, problem solving, and hard work!  Oh yeah, and numerous trips down and up the nearly 45 degree angle hill, because contrary to the laws of gravity, here….what goes down must come up. 

   When you are working down in a holler (or valley) at the end of the day you have to muster up enough strength and energy to get back to the top!  What a great metaphor for life.   I have to admit that each trip up was exhausting, but with every trip, it became a little easier to pull my tired body back up.  I know the peace that I find down there working on the spring and hanging out with our kids is worth every step!

    So, you may be asking yourself, ‘what is a spring box?’ 

   A spring box is simply a dam built at the head of a spring to collect water and get it into a pipe which feeds into a  larger tank, to be re-distributed where the water is needed.  As far as rebuilding the damaged box, my first task was unearthing  the box inside  and out.  This was the most tedious part of the process, digging through clay packed rocks with a Maddox, shovel, and eventually my bare hands. 

   Once the water started collecting inside the box, the excitement started to build.  A friend compared the feeling of working on a live spring to having “gold fever,” and let me tell you, that is  100% accurate.  Even with freezing cold fingertips, rubbed raw from clearing the sediment and sand, you just want to keep digging!  Once the box was cleaned up, it was time to start to assess the damage and observe where it was leaking.  One of the main problems, besides it being silted in,  was that the old galvanized pipe was plugged.  Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I would need  to cut the pipe, drive it out, and replace it with a new PVC pipe.  After several more cleanings, it was  time to build some forms and pour concrete in them to replace the broken and missing pieces of block.  At that time, I took the opportunity to add an overflow pipe, which is recommended,  in case rain increases the flow of incoming water, to reduce water pressure on the box.  

   With the structure of the box restored, after I removed the concrete forms, I was able to apply hydraulic cement to the inside corners to create a rounded cove.  I also applied the hydraulic cement to the vertical surface, which helps create a waterproof seal inside the box.  With the weather changing, I decided to let the cement cure for a  couple days before I finished  the PVC intake pipe and added washed gravel to collect any sediment that might collect inside.  This step may be unnecessary on this particular spring, because it comes straight out of a fold of solid rock, but the gravel will also support the new concrete cap. 

   Even though this project is not quite finished yet, I am feeling much more confident about the spring production, (about 30 gallons of water per hour) and it’s ability to meet our needs on the farm.  I know 30 gallons per hour may not sound like much, but hey, we have at least two more springs to develop and a couple of ponds that need reworked!  That being said, I need to set this new found writing career on the back burner and get back to work.



“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1    

There you are!

   We moved here to be free. We sold our home, our security, our socially acceptable three bedrooms and corner lot because we felt led by God to MOVE.  They say if everything is going well and you don’t have any problems in life, then you are not a threat to the devil. You aren’t on his  radar,  he has no concern with you.  In Luke 9:1-9 When King Herod heard what the disciples were doing, he desired to see Him.  Jesus had told  the disciples, “take nothing for your journey,” no food, supplies, extra clothes, nothing, he goes on to say if they don’t accept you, “shake the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.”

   The slavery I believe we had faced was social in nature, trying to be accepted by other’s in the world.  We created a beautiful home, perfect for dinner  parties, barbecues, family and friends. No one came.  I taught Sunday school, graduated from a nice university, taught fitness classes, and we lived an upright life, without the guilt of drunkenness.  We were still not enough in the world’s eyes. 

    In a recent film, two parents advise their daughter,  ” It’s O.K. to have dreams, as long as you don’t believe in them too much.”  Our families allow us to jump up and reach for our dreams, as long as we come back down.  If you succeed too much, then  they look bad to the world.  What if they had encouraged us from the beginning? Rather than come to the graduation party, they would rather cause us pain. Why be proud of your child if they figure out something you cannot understand?  

   When  you attempt to break free from the social structures that people are comfortable knowing and understanding, where you are and how you got there, they want you back.  “Why did they do this? Who do they think they are?”  Rather than support and encourage you, they remind you of your past mistakes and inherent inadequacies. 

   God did not bring me this far to abandon me in the wilderness.  Although the devil is aware of my progress,  and desires to see me, my God is stronger.  So GO AHEAD! Shoot my dog, throw your judgement and  guilt,  replay the highlight reel of all my mistakes over and over, to build yourself up somehow.  I plan to keep running up this hill, with my babies on my back!  He has given me a lot of practice on these hills, this is what the training has been for.  Now I am ready to kick it in, pick up my knees, and pass you on THIS hill. Let’s go.


Donna Ervin

26 Don’t be afraid of anyone! Everything that is hidden will be found out, and every secret will be known. 27 Whatever I say to you in the dark, you must tell in the light. And you must announce from the housetops whatever I have whispered to you.” Matthew 10:26-27


  • First and foremost, the meat is good.
  • Secondly, rabbit has an inexpensive initial investment.
  • Thirdly, they are clean, hearty animals, who can thrive almost anywhere while making awesome compost for our garden.
  • Fourth, my children can learn about the miracle of living things, the reward and responsibility of meeting an animals needs, plus animal science (we are homeschoolers.)

What the rabbit?

Many of you are probably wondering why would they choose the cutest animal known to the holiday schedule, and consider it for food.  We don’t see rabbit at the market in the U.S. very often, unless you shop at a nice local butcher shop that sells unusual meats, like Magro’s in Springfield.  The other way to taste rabbit is if you are friendly with a hunter who is willing to share his hard earned delicacy with you. I recommend the market method, hunter’s are people and people have expectations, plus the meat may be tougher and have a stronger flavor often described as “gamey.” I love all wild game and have not known a “gamey” flavor.


  1. Let’s get to the meat and potatoes of the why…..mostly the meat.  Did you know that rabbit is usually all white meat? It is leaner, higher in protein, and lower in calories than chicken. Yes, before you ask, you guessed it, it does taste very similar to chicken.  Also, any chicken recipe, can basically be converted into a delicious rabbit dish.  I found a recipe for sweet and sour rabbit that has pineapple chunks, mandarin oranges and is served over rice, rabbit and dumplings, fried rabbit with gravy, of course you can continue listing rabbit dishes like bubba gump, we can make rabbit chili, rabbit cacciatore, rabbit stew, rabbit tacos, rabbit kabobs…. ok I’ll stop.  Another advantage to raising our own meat, is that with the supply problems the grocery stores experienced this year in particular, it is nice to have a legendarily prolific creature happily replenishing itself in our back yard.  Eating a diet high in proteins can help you maintain a steady blood sugar level, which makes you feel better, physically and emotionally.
  2. Compared to other livestock options rabbits are very affordable. Clearly, the idea that they multiply rapidly, with mother ready to start another litter when her kits are 4 weeks old.  This allows for her to easily have 5 to 8 pregnancies each year. Here comes the multiplication, with each litter producing an average of  7 additional rabbits, 1 mama can produce around 200 pounds of meat each year. 
  3.  We are making our own dirt to grow our garden.  Although Northern Arkansas is very lush and green with plants and forests thriving for miles between every destination, the actual ground is pretty rocky.  How do these forests thrive with such dry soil? Mother nature takes care of that by turning all of those leaves into a rich mulch that holds moisture and makes a rich compost on the forest floors. Fresh dew covers our land every morning, which makes the mornings feel freshly cleaned, and new, yesterday a distant memory, but makes your feet feel wet, bring your rubber boots.  The nitrogen and phosphorus in the rabbit manure are higher than any other livestock manure.  It can be used directly from the rabbit to the garden without composting. Plus this organic matter actually improves soil structure, moisture retention, and drainage, all very beneficial to the soil on our farm.
  4. Finally, it’s for the kids! Actually this whole experience is for the kids, however, the rabbits are soft and cute and all kids love them.  We were able to purchase Peter and Mrs. Cottontail for a low, no haggle price of only $20 each, with nice cages included from a local farmer as well as feeding trays.  All while getting the credit for Christmas and establishing an awesome daily reward for finishing their school work- 30 minutes of rabbit time for Bruce, Josie, Peter and Mrs. Cottontail, petting, snuggling and feeding veggies. This is also good for keeping the rabbits friendly.

Peter Rabbit

Bruce’s Rabbit is Peter, a friendly father, ready to spring into action when nature needs him.  Yes, my 5 and 6 year old are learning a lot about reproduction.

Here is a link to a website source for some of our rabbit facts plus ideas for raising rabbits in a colony.

SELFIE With Mrs. Cottontail

A big thank you to the people at Troll Mountain Farms who sold us this amazing pair of Giant Flemmish/New Zealand Cross bred parents.  Mrs. Cottontail is expecting 1 week before me, challenge accepted.  Josie and Bruce had a blast at the rabbit farm to pick these bunnies up with me, in Witt Springs, Arkansas, fairly close to home.

Link to Troll Mountain Farms

We already have a chicken coop/ office/ Tool Shed!

This was the first time we walked the property before we decided to jump in and swim into this adventure. I was excited to see there was a chicken coop, it is actually really well built so it has been very useful. It will be Ervin Highland Farms HQ.  We plan to add the rabbits to the outside of this opening, so that we can bring the rabbits inside to snuggle and play with the kids and I, in an enclosed space.


Peter at the rabbit Farm

We are so blessed with this opportunity to raise our own food, teach our children, and live in the beautiful country of the Ozark Mountains.   Let me be clear that we are not driving this crazy train. We have decided to follow where He leads and are constantly praying and listening to his voice inside.  There are parts of our journey that I will share that have been a lot less glamorous than bringing home fuzzy bunnies.

Donna Ervin

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3


@ Silver Run Cabins

Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.


Donna Ervin

Christian, Wife, Mother, Teacher, Homeschooler, Homesteader, Blogger


Josie and Bruce

My blondes


William Thomas Ervin

Christian, Father, Husband, Craftsmen, Arkansas Farmer

He is with us


   This week my family has been blessed by being welcomed to stay in a cabin for the next few months.  Since September 25th my husband and I have been camping with our 5 year old Bruce, and our 6 year old Josie.  We sold our home in Illinois and have been establishing a base camp since we closed on our property October 9th. We camped at Tyler’s Bend Campground for about two weeks between selling and owning 38 acres of a “holler,” or two steep hills meeting in a forest valley with a year round spring.

    We started with an outdoor kitchen and bathroom, two tents, and two huskies. Recently, we added a greenhouse, put our camping tent inside, and had been heating our space with a small “Mr. Buddy” heater.  Before we moved to Arkansas, I had looked into homeschooling Co-ops near Marshall, and found “Legacy Christian Home school Co-op” out of Yellville, which is about 30-40 minutes from our new farm property.  We started meeting our new Co-op the first week while we were still camping at Tyler’s Bend in October.  

   Due to our governments response to the flu this year, the campgrounds have removed the nozzles off the shower heads to eliminate the possibility for campers to shower or share germs, except toilets were operating and there was an outdoor sink  I could wash dishes in.  We now have plenty of fresh spring water near our property, however, it has been difficult to find shower options.  I found a laundry mat in Harrison AR, 1 hour north of Marshall which offers $5.00, 5 minute showers;  and a campground which sells showers.  The Harrison campground was our better option because they would charge me 12.00 and I could shower myself and the children for as long as we liked, with nice hot water, plus there was plenty of space to comb our hair, dry off, and get dressed.  Unfortunately, the last time we visited the campground, the woman told me her son was planning to shut down the showers from December thru February because the winter campers have their own showers in their RV’s.   

    As last weekend approached, we were ready for showers and my friend from Co- op had offered for us to use her shower once in the past, she lives at the back of a cabin campground in a beautiful log cabin home with her husband and family.  Not wanting to interrupt her homeschooling routine this week, I asked if we might be able to use a shower in one of the cabins her parents rent out.  She messaged me back that we could definitely use a cabin that day to clean up and I was excited to bring my husband to meet her father and see the cabins and spring swimming hole he built with his own creative hands.

When we first met, my friend Kara had mentioned that she couldn’t wait for my husband to meet her dad because they both have very similar traits.  They both like to build and create with their hands and she thought they would be kindred spirits.  She was right.

After we had showered we went down to see her kids and family and my husband was finally able to meet her dad and see his incredible spring/ cabin craftsmanship.  He had mentioned to me when I was at Kara’s a month before that we should consider staying in a cabin, and although it sounded wonderful, it seemed unlikely, or too good to be true.  I dismissed the thought because we were living in a greenhouse tent on the side of a mountain/ hill in Arkansas, and I was trying to persevere.  We were reinforcing our base camp with tarps, creating a comfortable bathroom space and preparing for the cold weather that has now come.  I didn’t want to allow myself to believe we could ‘switch horses mid-stream.’

   However, after my husband met her father, checked out this mans amazing life’s work of building these amazing, unique, original cabin and spring creations, he was inspired.  He said to me that night, “the man said to me not once but twice that we should stay in one of those cabins.”

He was acting as though he were talking me into this plan! So I was able to respond with a strange false hesitation like, “Well if YOU think it’s a good idea, I suppose we could…”

So we have been at the cabin for over a week and it has been wonderful. Bedtime stories, warm delicious dinners, served hot on glass plates, cold drinks, hot coffee, a wood burning stove, all of the cozy luxuries we are so grateful to have.

   I am 36 weeks pregnant as I am writing this and very grateful God has his hand on my life. I have found a local church and neighbors and hope to become a part of the community. The library is awesome in Searcy County and I am thrilled to be substitute teaching at the local elementary and intermediate schools. 



I have had fun teaching art K-6, kindergarten, 3rd,5th, & 6th grades this first year as a new teacher and appreciate that it will give me great experience with the local community while I am able to home school Josie and Bruce with a more custom curriculum in my fathers world and free play chasing salamanders while dad works on the spring and builds our Yome basement. I will be sharing more about our yome while living in this gorgeous cabin the kids have named “our home before the yome.”IMG_2297 (1)

If you ever need to rent a cabin…

Recipe for this 1 pound cubed beef steaks, flour, bread crumbs, crushed crackers, seasoning salt, eggs, milk, pepper, vegetable oil, fry in cast iron skillet after double dipping from egg to flour mixture not once but twice, no milk in egg wash. press flour into cube steaks cook in cast iron skillet for 7-10 minutes flipping once. serve with mashed potatoes and gravy aka country fried steak

Our new home school co-op