An attempt to declare the Glory of God for what He has chosen to do with our lives. A legacy to leave to my children in the telling of it.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A New Dog in My Life

Who would have ever thought that I would be kissin' and lovin' on a Red Bone? After perusing the Yellow Paper Rob and Trent got the itch for coon hunting again and called on a little Red Bone pup. Next thing you know we were taking an hour drive to look at this sweet little fellow. He has claimed his spot on the couch and in our hearts already. His name?? What else~ Dan! And now that I've seen those cute long ears and heard what Red Bone's go for I just may be looking for a Little Anne for myself. Christmas is coming ya know!

How Many Projects??

How many projects can one farm start?? Well, the question actually isn't how many can one start, but how many can one finish?? We are racing against the calendar as we still have so many critters that need shelter this winter and so many buildings that are not done. The master plan of tearing down the old buildings to build new ones sounded great in June, but now we are pushing to finish the new ones and thanking God for the nice weather to work on them. I am trying to keep it all in perspective (while working at mock 10 speed and enlisting every young able body in the meantime) and remember that at this time last year we were putting plastic up on the old buildings to keep some of the wind out for the winter. If I can keep reminding myself that it really will be worth it in the end, and that next Fall we won't have to work so hard to get ready for Winter, and the end result will be a beautiful functioning farm that might make some money one day, and that we are living the dream (was this really the dream? I sort of forgot) I can keep plugging along. So a little "now and then" is just what I need to remind myself of how far we have come.

The Granary was one of the first major remodeling projects we started due to the fact that it was the closest building to falling down. Even tho the barn was not much behind it the Granary either had to be restored or tore down for safety reasons. This simple project of just residing it turned into weeks and months of tearing off 2 layers of old siding only to reveal that things were much worse than expected and that most of the supporting wall beams were rotted at the bottom. Besides that there was the lean to on the side that was nearly completely caved in and had to be jacked up and a new roof and wall built. A couple of new windows and three times the amount of primer and paint that we expected, only to get a heavy rainstorm that same night which washed a good amount of it off. Sort of gives it an old farm look. Next year when the 2-for-1 paint sale is on we'll be the first in line.

The old Log Barn. Now I am one for keeping things original for nostalgic sake, and given the old log barn was guessed to be one of the original buildings on the homestead and probably going on one hundred years old, I still could not have been happier the day we tore it down. For nearly 4 years we kept critters in here, and for nearly 4 years my mother waited anxiously anticipating the call that the old barn had finally collapsed.
The old doorway sank a bit more every year, and the gaps got a bit bigger every year, but until this past summer we couldn't justify the time or money to invest in starting this major project. It actually took us only 2 days (plus a few kids and a skid steer) to tear it all down, but the clean up and rebuilding has been a bit slower. We kept the main header beams in the hopes of one day using them in a log cabin for out back and the rest of the old logs were sold to a company that restores old barn logs and rebuilds new homes and cabins with them. The old steel milking barn behind the log barn has great potential to one day be every goat milker's dream but first it has entailed totally gutting it of it's old stanchions and cement bunk feeders. Then it was discovered that the posts were all rotted at ground level and had to be cemented and built back up before we could start on the stalls, interior work, rewiring, etc., etc., etc., so we can finally finish up the walls and put in some windows and doors.

It's not glamorous yet, and my yard is still showing the signs of the project, but we did get a new, cute chicken coop out of all the salvaged lumber and there is still money in the farm account. Poor Rob has worked so hard (as well as the rest of us) to try to stay ahead of it all.

And then there's the old calf shed. Being that strong wind never did come along and give it the final push, the kids and I tore it down this spring. We hauled the front piece of it out back for a slingshot range (oh yes, I had better get back to that project some day).

Before the ground freezes, and now that the roof design is finally agreed upon, we are racing to get the new calf shed up before the snow flies. There is still some plywood and salvaged lumber and roofing left around here to hope to only have to invest in steel siding.

As if that wasn't enough to keep us busy, and the projects that I can do are nearly done, I am going to invest some of my Fair checks into fence posts and start the wooden fences. The kids helped tear down the hog panels yesterday and we are going to have a hole digging party this week before the ground freezes if anybody wants to come help.

So...... what's left on your Fall schedule????

It's Fall

October was such a treat as far as weather goes this year with several days in the 70's (80's??) and lot's of sunshine. The last few mornings have reminded us, tho, that it is indeed Fall. We have woke up to frost on the windshields and a chill in the air. Time to keep the woodstove going and hurry up and finish these projects for all the critters. Most of the hay is bought and ready to sustain the animals over another winter. The horses are getting their fuzzy winter coats and hanging around the open pastures to soak up the sunshine. And even I am feeling the starts of a hibernation mode as my mind shifts to cozy inside things like books and quilts and algebraic equations and hot chocolate. Fall, glorious Fall.

Smoothies~ Who Ever Knew??

The new kick around our house has been Smoothies. What a simple, delicious, nutritious way to make breakfast or a snack! The boys have been having fun coming up with different concoctions for everybody. Just throw into a blender whatever you like~ yogurt, bananas, orange juice, a handful of frozen berries, a dash of vanilla, a little bit of ice~ and mix it all up. We even top it with a bit of cool whip to make it look pretty. Yum~Yum!


There are certain things that make my little heart skip a beat~ one of them being antiques and another being thrift stores. When the two are combined I am grinning from ear to ear. One of my little indulgences to myself is to stop at the thrift stores when we head up to the big city to do our major grocery shopping Aldis/Walmart/Farm and Fleet/Menards/Pappa Murphy run. It's a reward to myself for surviving parting with that much money all in one day plus taking 5 kids to umpteen stores and spending hours smooshed into a little van with all of our loot. I was absolutely giddy when I saw this cute little hot plate, and for just under $7.00! I already have the perfect pantry planned all around this cute little treasure. It just needs to be built, and then I can find the perfect old cabinet to set it on, next to the antique sink, and the old cook stove that's in the garage, and those open faced cupboards with all the antique dishware that will look oh-so-cute sitting in them. Of course we'll probably never be able to use the hot plate~ with that old cord I'd probably burn the whole house down and then we'd have to start all over again. But it sure is cute!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Soaps

I have come to realize that making soap is something that I really enjoy, but at the same time I need to find a way to fund this new found hobby of mine. We already have enough bars of soap to last our family of 7 for several months if not for the next year. But then again, who's complaining about having too many bars of homemade goats milk soap?

The world of soap making is nearly limitless in it's choice of scents, designs, colors and options. The latest and greatest have some new techniques involved. To start with I made a batch of plain white unscented soap and used a cookie cutter to cut out little gingerbread men. Then the next day I made a batch of Pumpkin scented soap and inserted the little cutouts into the middle of my mold. Cute! Anything is possible with cookie cutters now! As I had lots of the white batch left over I cut up some chunks and added them to a batch with blueberry scents and added a little cinnamon for a Blueberry Cobbler bar. Yummy! Since we were experimenting we also made up a batch of Almond Joy soap using cocoa powder in half of the recipe, almond~honey and coconut scents, and even added a little coconut to the top and bottom of the bar. Mmmmm~mmmmm! I also had a little bit of left over kelp powder (doesn't everybody have a little left over kelp powder sitting around??:) so decided to make a pretty Green Apple Slice bar. Now these bars are all sitting waiting to cure and I am impatiently waiting to see the outcome of our new creations.

The motive for all these new creations? Way back in the summer I got the wild idea to chat with the folks at our local Community Ed program (after some encouragement and affirmation from friends) and decided to offer to host a class on soap making at the local high school to see if there was any interest. It turns out that there was quite a bit of interest and we have 9 people signed up to take the class originally intended for 4-6 people as well as leads from others to take private classes at our farm. Yay! I like it when my ideas actually work out!

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Man and His Mission and His Wife

The Man. The Mission: To build the calf shed before the snow comes, or at least get the posts in before the ground freezes so we can finish the walls and the roof and the fence when the snow is flying.
The Calves (or technically The Calf).
The Chainsaw.
The Post Hole Digger (that would be me on the other end of those handles).

The Helper.
The Level.
The Wife: Ummm, honey (you see I can give him this advice now because I have become a master carpenter myself) I think it's a little too high. Okay, okay, I'll go back to working on my chicken coop.

Yes, The Coop Again

Aaahhh yes! The never ending chicken coop. I think we really are going to finish it today, tho, for real this time. Every waking moment around here (besides the time spent doing laundry, cooking and school work) has been spent working on that chicken coop. We are not taking for granted the beautiful fall weather that God has granted us and have used up every moment of sunlight that we can (besides all the running to football practices and games in between)~ hence the reason for blogging at 5:30 A.M. Good Morning Sunshine! Hello Coffee! ~ I've seen way too many sunrises the past couple of weeks. I have been having blogging/writing withdrawals but my little hens need some shelter for the winter and I need some eggs. So where were we last in the updates?? ~ Oh, yes, working on the covered porch.
I found a couple of willing young men to climb up and help me with the rafters, along with a couple of young ladies to help stain the beadboard. After cutting off a couple of inches from my posts I was able to get a good enough slope on the porch roof. It isn't as charming as the picture that I had in my head, but it sheds water already, so it will be allright. I've had serious thoughts about just tearing the whole porch roof off, but I really don't want to start it again...... winter's coming you know.
In between working on the porch roof the boys helped me construct a door out of some scrap plywood, left over beadboard and 2" ripped boards (that I learned how to cut on the table saw all by myself:)). It turned out to be rather heavy, and we ran out of white paint so we had to paint it tan until next spring when we will be able to give everything another couple of coats of white paint.
Rob insisted that we put plywood on to reinforce the porch roof so we spent the good part of another day figuring out the not-so-square measurements to piece and cut and install the plywood, then it was up on the roof to screw on the tin. I was hoping that I could sweet talk Rob into doing that for me but he was pretty busy working on his own projects so I had to go up there myself. It wasn't very long before somebody came and stole my ladder. Something about a quarrelsome wife and a corner of a roof came to mind...... they did bring it back when supper time got closer.
There was also the cement pile that was still in the way so that Rob could move the whole chicken coop over about 10 feet. A couple of days of skid-steer work quickly solved that problem. To my great relief Rob was actually able to move this beast of a creation and was even able to make it sit level.
Then there was the last section of the old chicken fence to take down, as well as move all the miscellaneous farm/project junk that gets strewn around while you're working on so many things at one time so that we could start the new chicken fence.
We figured out how to install the doors~ the nice heavy inside door and the cute {free!!} screen door from an Uncle Jim job. I had to break down and spend some money on hinges and hardware (ouch ~ those are expensive!) Russell saw us out there working so he came over and lent us his muscles, carpentry know~how and some big screws.
Being he was here, and we were also in the process of planning where to build the fence, he stayed for lunch and to help for the afternoon. By the time we were done we had all of the posts in and were ready to put the wire up. All the while praying that the storm would stay on Russell's side of the road~ which it did, other than a few minutes of rain when we took cover under the new porch roof.

The Tour: A deluxe chicken chalet complete with cathedral ceilings, insulated walls, a double floor for added protection to keep those little chicken toes warm, two windows, plenty of room to roost.....
and plenty of nesting boxes to lay all of those eggs in......
It holds the kids and the dog and the cats so it should hold the chickens.
A stained and poly-laminated floor, a little chicken door with a ramp......
that even opens and closes properly.
Outside we have a covered porch with a sealed bead board ceiling, a stained and poly-laminated floor, white wooden railing and a window box. And of course it has to have a few little things to make it cute. For starters Micah and I built a little wooden bench and then Grace and Micah painted it with some left over maroon paint.
I found some cute little baskets at the thrift store (with the theory being that when we do actually start getting some eggs there will be plenty of baskets to carry them in).
For now we filled them with the cute little pumpkins that grew on the old chicken fence all summer.
And a little wash tub to be filled with something spectacular when the idea comes to mind.I am almost looking forward to winter and snow (did I really just say that??) so I will have a good excuse to just be done with all these farm projects for a while and not feel guilty about snuggling on the couch with the kiddos and reading some good books while sipping hot chocoalte and eating donuts, working on quilting projects, and visiting with friends and family, and returning all those calls and e-mails, and becoming a regular blogger again. But there's still the calf shed to build, and the fence posts to get in before the ground freezes, and a horse barn to start, and a goat barn to finish ....... Time's a wasting~ better finish my coffee and get out there.

Boys, Boys, Boys

The boys have been busy again working on their log cabin (there's nothing like a log cabin to make a young boy hurry up and finish his spelling). Last fall they started cutting down pine trees from out back, delimbed them and hauled them up to the pasture to start a log cabin. The cooler weather has made it prime time to get back to work. They now have 4 walls nearly completed and are contemplating how to put in a sky light, a roof and a loft, and some beds. I've had to fight them off for the salvaged lumber and supplies lately. We have forts and cabins and building projects galore around here, which, in my opinion, is the greatest thing that boys can spend their time doing. And the best part about it is that when they work together they actually forget about fighting with each other.