Sunday, June 28, 2009

using the same design . . .

Nolan and I are on the build again. This time we are building two things. We are building a "run" for the front of the Eggmobile. A run is a place for our girls (which is what I have been calling the pullets) to be outside, but contained. At night we put them in the Eggmobile so they can be safe, and they can nest and roost. Currently we are just using wire circling it around the front door to keep the chicken contained to one area. As they have gotten older though, they are starting to fly out and now we are having to chase them around to keep them out of the garden, and keep the cats from eating them.

The second build is a structure that will be the same design and same shape but we will be using it to house the 25 meat birds I just ordered the other day. These birds will arrive on the 8th of July and will be ready for butchering in 7 weeks when they reach maturity. We will use this structure to house the chickens that are going to become our dinner guests. I am actually looking forward to butchering our own chickens!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

eating others . . .

In addition to the 44 chickens we have left (three died the first few days, and some varmint has been eating some others the last few nights) we have some newer kittens around our home. Seven to be exact. Cookie had two and Blacky had five. It is cute to see them follow their mothers around on the front step. They don't venture far from the porch door, and sometimes are under foot when we come out, but it is nice having them around to watch grow.

Since our chickens have been experiencing some trouble with the locals, I told Ildi it would be a great time to get a dog. We are looking into getting a pedigree. We need something to scare off the riffraff. One of the chickens, the children lovingly refer to as "Stumpy," got his/her little leg chewed off by the nasty varmints. Both Amory and Macy have been nursing it back to health by bandaging it, putting salve on it, and mothering it. It has a great life. Sherri Thompson would be PROUD!

Monday, June 22, 2009

touching the chickens . . .

Today I did not spend any time in that hammock pictured below. Although I should have!

Ildi has been talking about getting some more chickens. She wants to fill the freezer up for the year with meat birds. Nolan says no. He's the one that does most of the chores. I say YES, get more birds . . . we can handle it. Actually, now that we have a few, 47 now, it seems like they are no work at all.

I told Ildi that I would be willing to buy her as many as she wanted and also help Nolan out with the chores of raising them. In reality, I'll have Nolan groom Asher into doing the work. I think one of Nolan's biggest hesitations about getting more birds is that he is not looking forward to butchering them. He's a little squeamish about actually TOUCHING the chickens. The texture of the legs, and the possibility of getting pecked still freaks him out a bit.

Gresham on the other hand has no problem touching the chicks. The other day I let him take one out of the pen and "play" with it. You know, like a toy. Only a live toy. He is so funny, and quite happy to pick them up at any time. He is actually a little rough with them. He still does not understand though that they could actually die. Like the other day when he tried to stick a chick's neck into the cinder block hole. And then there was yesterday when he put one of the 4 week old kittens into the kiddie pool to swim. He is such a hoot! I don't think he will ever remember what it was like to live without having animals around. What a great life for him! And us.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

not a sound . . .

Here's how I spent my late morning.

For those who live in California, think . . . at the beach, warm and very windy, blue sky and a hint of moisture in the air. In addition, pretend that no one went the beach except for you, and that there was not even a noise from another living soul. (I did have an one ATV and one car drive down our rode during the hours I spent there)

For those that think I am lazy . . . go ahead. And I am a huge fat sinner as well . . . comfortable in my Brazilian hammock. :)

Friday, June 19, 2009

meandering . . .

The chickens . . . and the garden are now growing! It is fun to watch them, and the vegetables get bigger and bigger by the week.

My newest venture with farm finds . . . an up-cycled bird bath made from: a metal pole with bed spring wire wrapped around it, an old disc from the neighbors junk pile, a rusted tuna can in the middle, and a sofa spring arched to create some interesting design. All together it stands 4 foot tall and sinks into the ground around 10 inches. This kind of stuff excites me!

A walk through the grass path . . . we have an area that I am letting grow and have mowed a path for the children to walk through it. It meanders through the grass around and back out in two spots. To give you some scale . . . Amory is 5'8" tall.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

having guests . . .

We've started harvesting from our garden already. Small pieces so far, but still harvesting!

My lunch sandwich yesterday consisted of a couple of radishes that were ripe for picking. Macy plucked them from the dirt, and I had a great time washing, cutting, and gingerly placing them on by butter smattered, homemade (and ground) whole wheat bread. As I was eating it I thought this small sandwich, cut a little more decoratively, might make a great finger food at a wedding reception before the main meal. I can see it now, maybe a farm wedding in Ohio . . . including the picturesque farm scenery, the wholesome good food, the quietness of the expanse . . .

Lately, like the last three years, I have had vision for turning our homestead into a visitors center of sorts. A place where people come to retreat, enjoy, and get refreshed to go back to their world. The bug in me started a few years ago when I was introduced to what Mary Jane Butters does on her farm out in Idaho. Since I read about her and visited her site I can't help but think about the many times we have have visitors in our home over the years, and how enjoyable it is to host people. In recollection, we have had people from all over the world stay with us. Che and Justin, two single men from Australia, stayed for a week while attending a conference in Los Angeles. Also from Australia, we had Lisa who stayed for a month while studying American culture. The nice thing about her stay was that we have stayed in touch and 10 years after her first visit, she came and stayed again. Our dear friends the Unfreids, came to live with us for 6 months while they looked for a home to purchase. And then there was Fiona, and later two men from South Africa who stayed as well. In addition, we have had Grandma Fout every other summer come to stay for a week, my sister, and Deb Allen came and stayed for a visit as well.

It seems that in hindsight we have always had people come and stay with us. I think I want to continue the pattern. For those that follow us here on FOUTFOLK . . . call to set up a reservation. :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

following our journey . . .

Did I mention that it is EXTREMELY nice to wake early, sit here on the sofa half awake/half asleep, and leisurely check emails and post the daily lives of our FOUTFOLK adventures. :)

A few days ago, a former student left a message on my Facebook wall that he was reading my "farm blog." "My farm blog" I thought? I never thought of this blog as a farm blog, but I guess I do live on a farm, and I do farm kinds of things. Like yesterday, Nolan and I spend the last half of the day helping the neighbor bail hay and put it up in the barn. Baling hay is a GOOD honest, days work. It requires a LOT of muscle, and a little finesse as well, using your body weight to throw a 50 lb bale around, stacking them on the wagon. As I was pulling the bails off the binder, dragging it to the back of the wagon, tossing it up to criss cross stack it, I had lots of time to think about my life and the direction it is going. (maybe a little too much time :)

It has been a long time coming for us as a family to live this more agrarian lifestyle, this farm life. A few years ago in Los Angeles, when we told friends we were moving to make a change in our lives toward a more sustainable life, this was what we were talking about. In my mind it certainly didn't look anything like this, but now that we are here, doing what we are doing, it is exactly this that I was thinking about. Time spend together, working on things together, making most of the things we use, developing friendships with like-minded people, and slowing the pace of life that helps us to stop and enjoy the process as well as the product.

In addition, I am appreciative to those that have followed our journey these past two years through reading this farm blog. It has been fun for me to write and post pictures of our journey and to keep distant friends "still close." Thanks for the comments, encouragement, and friendships. (now is the time I say that I will no longer be blogging . . . :) Just kidding, I am not thinking about stopping this blog.

Monday, June 15, 2009

using upcycled materials . . .

We are nearly done with the eggmobile now. We used old paneling for the sides; primed and painted it green. It still needs a roof (we have a makeshift one now) and we are on the hunt for some used materials for it. So far the total cost, besides the time, is around $43.00. (I bought some hardware, screws, chicken wire, and some paint) Everything else we used for this project was upcycled materials. It is fun to use old junk and turn it into the things you need (and have it look great too). Today the children brought the chickens out to try their new home. They LOVE it! We now have to figure out how to make it more mobile. :() It has gotten pretty heavy for us to move by lifting it up! We put some long thin branches in it that still have the bark on them for the chickens to roost on. I love the natural look. And Nolan and I are brainstorming about how we can use the old barn poles as wheels for it. If you have an idea for us, let us know . . . we need the help.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

composting table scraps . . .

This is our year's worth of table scraps. Tons and tons of egg shells got piled into the garden as compost. Since it was cold here, only 25% of it was composted . . . but we decided to put it in the garden anyway! Now that it is warm, our compost bin should be warm enough to break down the food. As well, I think we might feed some of the scraps to the chickens.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

planting potatoes . . .

Today the WHOLE family got involved with the gardening project. We double dug two rows of the garden and put our year's worth of food scraps in to compost. As Asher and I dug, the girls planted the potato seeds. (potato seeds consist of cut up potatoes that have sprouted. Notice the eggmobile in the background? Now all Nolan needs to do is put some clothes on it!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

learning by doing . . .

I think I could REALLY enjoy this schedule for awhile . . . wake, drink some coffee while I post events of our lives, work around the homestead for the day . . . maybe this is a precursor to the days ahead! The update on the Eggmobile . . . with help from Asher and me, Nolan was able to build the nesting boxes out of some old barn wood as well. This project has been a good learning experience in framing and working out construction questions. It's amazing how much you learn by DOING. (even if you have to do it over)

Monday, June 8, 2009

making clothes . . .

Recently Ildi has been teaching the girls how to sew their own dresses. Amory and Macy are almost at the point where they are able to do the whole process themselves.

In addition to the dresses, Macy has been working on doll quilts. She is using the scraps from dresses they make to create these miniature quilts.

working on the eggmobile . . .

Here's a job for a 15year old that will keep him busy thinking and working. Now that the brooder is up and running with the chicks, Nolan started working on the Eggmobile. He first started with ripping some barn wood to upcycle it. Next, he built the walls on the long sides then attached them with the short sides. Tonight he finished building the nesting boxes that will go inside. We stayed out late, working under lights in order to get them done. Tomorrow the roof and siding goes on.

This is the dresser I was working on a couple of posts earlier. It is now finished. I think I'll be using it in our large, luxurious bathroom to store towels. (a big joke . . . you can't even turn around in a circle in our bathroom now. Imagine 8 people using one bathroom that has an area of 20 square feet. That's 5' x 4' standing room)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

process of building . . .

Now that summer break is in session . . . let the projects BEGIN!

The last days of school I drummed up some business making art. I got a commission to do one of my portrait scribble drawings for an upcoming wedding, and then ending up taking the drawing the whole process of framing it as well. What a great time spending the day with Maine teaching her how to use some tools, and the process of building a hand-made frame. When I finished routing out one side, she used the air compressor to blow of the wood chips and dust. She also helped by cutting with the miter saw, gluing and clamping the frames, and placing the V nails for me to nail in. When we sanded the frame she got to feel the "fuzz" run through her hand and arms! She also helped cutting the glass by breaking it after I scored it.