Sunday, September 27, 2009

as a family . . .

Another weekend to rest around the farm. :)

Yesterday my mother came out to visit AGAIN! I am pretty excited that she takes the time to come and visit. When we lived in Los Angeles, she came to visit a total of 8 times during the 21 years I lived there. Seems like such a small time to spend. And it was. However, since we are now local, she has made it a point to come and visit several times so far. I like it for many reasons. The children have never really spent any time with relatives at ALL. Ildi's brother and sister don't have children and never visit so that means no cousins or aunts and uncles to rub elbows with. And since my family lived so far away, we rarely made it across the nation as a family. The last few years Ildi's mom visited us more often, and we have all not met her dad due to an early car accident death. So, having grandma here is really a treat for them. It is good for them to hear the stories of my youth. My mother tells them of when I was young and the types of things I did. For good and bad. It is great for them to hear about me being just like them! I also like that they get to learn new things from grandma. As well as learn how to treat elderly people. There is such a benefit to having older people in and around your life.

As well, yesterday we went to pick up around 300 pounds of feed for the chickens. We had been getting the feed from our neighbor, but I decided that I would save him from picking it up for me and go to the source myself. We are getting feed from a local "natural" farmer who is growing and grinding his own feed. It is extremely interested to get involved with the processes involved and learn as much as possible about this whole thing called HOMESTEADING.

Today I am going to be doing a little plumbing work in this old house, and then we will probably spend a relaxing day outside by the fire. Hope your Lord's Day is restful, contemplative, and honoring.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

over the barns . . .

A few more fun things to do to before the cold winter comes! All the children have been on a bow and arrow kick for the last few days. They are finding sticks in the woods and making all the parts of their Bows and Arrows set themselves. I guess the big fascination is to see who makes the arrows that fly the furthest. They are using their knives we bought them for Christmas last year to whittle the wood down, and the pencil sharpener to sharpen the arrows that they have adorned with electrical tape and feathers from the chickens. They have been shooting them at targets, over the barns and house, and as far into the sky as they can. Kids gone shooting crazy.

In addition to the shooting that is happening, this summer my sister let us use her go-cart that she had for her son. Since he is college now, and they live in the city, she decided to "store" it out here on the farm. This whole summer the children have been riding it around the property, and enjoying learning how to drive it. Nolan has actually been learning a little auto mechanics on the side as a benefit of having it. He has also mowed a path through the tall weeds as a track for the transporters to follow. Macy and Asher are now driving it by themselves, and just today I solicited a ride from one of the new drivers.

Friday, September 18, 2009

playing with fire . . .

Since the weather has been getting a little cooler, I have been spending time on the weekends building fires in the pit out on the side of the house. I LOVE building fires, and living out here where no one is around, reminds me of our camping times in the Sierra Nevada Mountain in California.

In addition to me loving fires, it seems EVERY single child of mine loves building them too. What does a parent do when children love to play with fire? Well, I let them play with fire! (I do watch them in case you are worried) On occasions in the mornings, I let them take kindling and start the fire again from the hot embers from the night before. As well, they also play with "fire sticks." Fire sticks are sticks of their choice that they poke in the fire until the end starts to burn. After it catches on fire, they "write" in the air with the smoke, they start other parts of the wood on fire, and all other kinds of cool things. Gresham is allowed to pick up any bark or wood he finds and throw it in. What a joy it is to watch children "play" with something so potentially dangerous and have a respect for it at the same time. My attitude and thinking is that they will learn the respect needed for fire by getting experience working with it. And the benefit is that each one of them can build a really mean fire!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

the "horse" bug . . .

Part of the joy of living in the country is doing things that we have not done before. Like riding horses. Last weekend, and some today, the family got the chance to ride some of the neighbor's horses. Just recently they purchased two new ones and have been letting the children ride them when we visit. I have to admit, it has sparked the "horse" bug in me and I am REALLY open to buying a horse for the children, Ildi, and ME to ride and enjoy.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

at their stations . . .

Yesterday was another processing day for us out here. Since last weekend was our VERY first time and we only got to 6 chickens to put in the freezer, this week we needed to finish the rest of the batch. Altogether, we purchased 25 birds, one died, so that left us with 17 to process. The day was great for the job. A little breeze, cool, and the sun was out all day. This time the children and I decided to work at stations to make the job a little easier, quicker, and do the jobs that we all find the easiest. Below the children are at each of their stations, along with help from grandma, and we went through the whole process in three hours. Start to finish. That means bleeding, scalding, hand-plucking, dressing, and ready for the freezer in 3 hours. For those that have processed chickens before, this might not seem quick at all. But, for us city-turned-country folk . . . I thought it was a great time! Here are some stats to get you motivated to raise your own meat.

Average pounds: 6
Cost per pound: $1.05
Time investment: 8 weeks

Asher: Scalding, removing feet and head, loosening craws, removing oil glands.


Macy: Evisceration. removing and saving gizzards, hearts, necks, and liver. removing all other parts and cleaning inside out.


Amory (and Grandma): Removing feathers and layer of oily skin.


Nolan: Bleeding out chickens.

From our last experience, we learned a few things that were necessary while we all worked. Maine took on the job of watching and keeping Gresham busy, and helped to keep the cats maintained. This time we put the cats into an outdoor cage to keep them off the chicken things!

Since the last post, we received another 25 birds and are starting the process all over again. Along with our just-now processed meat, the half batch of other birds we have, and this new bunch of 25, we will have total of 60 to 75 birds in the freezer for the following year as well as our 15 or so layers to keep us in eggs. Seems like tons of meat, but for a family of eight, that really is only 1 to 2 chicken dinners per week. Nolan did that math cost analysis for the whole process and decided that if he did this whole process himself, he would make $510.00 every eight weeks. Not bad for 1/2 hours worth of work each day, and a few hours work on butchering day.

Friday, September 4, 2009

capturing video . . .

This is were technology meets the country! Tonight, I watched part of the Star Wars Episode III out by the fire. Using a LCD projector, my laptop, and some speakers, I captured the screen on the side of the big barn out back. It was sort of the test run before I let my family watch a movie at the FOUTFOLK CAMPFIRE THEATER. I walked down the lane out to the road to see how the image looked on the side of the barn. The image projected to a 40 x 60 foot size. It was like I was at the Drive-in-Movies! I think we will have one movie night outside to rap up the summer season, and then get prepared for the upcoming COLD.