Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas reflections . . .

For the past several Christmas times, we have been slowly decreasing the gifts that we give to each other.  In fact, last year we sort-of skipped Christmas altogether!  It could have something to do with moving during Christmas break time, but it also had to do with not making Christmas a time where we get all kinds of stuff.  We aren't opposed to Christmas or celebrating with gift giving, but we have just moved to a more relaxed kind of Christmas season, not full of shopping and fighting with the crowds of Holiday shoppers.

In contrast, as well as getting a Christmas Tree, this year we decided to give gifts to each other.  Mostly hand-made items.  The children all made things for each other and for Ildi and I, and it was great to see the types of things they come up with.

Shawn and Sherri, friends of ours forever it seems, gave us an ornament each year with our names on it.  We had collected 6 from them over the years and the last two children didn't have one.  This year, Asher decided that he wanted to make one for Maine and Gresham.  Thoughtful young man.  He chose a snowman and a candy cane as the design and I helped him with the drawing and the painting.  He cut them out using the scroll saw and sanded them.  We used the previous ones to model after so they looked like they all form a set.  It was a great gift item for the both of them.  He made a business card holder for me, a wooden pencil holder for Nolan.
Macy developed several items for the family.  For me she sewed a small, satin bag filled with herbs to put in my dresser drawers, and some homemade salve. She made Ildi a knitted, coffee cup warmer, and other items for their brothers and sisters.

Maine crafted small, sewn bookmarks for everyone.  I added a lapel pin to mine and have been wearing it as an art tapestry on my shirt for the day.

Amory up cycled wool sweaters and socks to create some fabulous  useful, costume items.  For Asher she made "armor" from an old, gray, wool sweater I had given her.  For Nolan and I she used wool socks to make wrist warmers.  And she made wool hoods for the girls and Gresham.

Since Nolan has a job and has been making money this past year, he decided to buy some useful gifts for the family.  It hard to see him grow up so much.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

new heating plan . . .

Since the chalkboard work is still continuing, I had to come up with a heating plan for the wood shop.  For weeks now it has been really cold.  Like 7 in the mornings and in the 20's during the day.  I was having to go out in the shop at night after supper for a couple of hours, and spend a little time as well on the weekends out there.  When I had orders for chalkboards, I found myself out in the wood shop completely bundled up and working on them dreading the chill.  (I have been using a hair dryer to heat the paint cans up so they will spray nicely, and every now and again using a propane burner to take the edge off the cold) It has not been great to use the cold, steel table saw, or to wear gloves while I am trying to sand small edges on the boards.

So I decided to come up with a heating plan!  A plan that would utilize some of the things I had here at home, and if I needed to purchase anything, it would be minimal.  First was the stove.  I had a wood burning stove that I bought last year and used in the house until the wood cook stove came in.  I was storing it in the foyer planning on building a fireplace sometime.  Since it wasn't being used yet, I decided to use it out in the shop to keep the place a little warmer, and to help the paint dry on the chalkboards. I picked up some stainless steel stovepipe from an Amish friend of mine, and then had another metalworker make some mounting brackets for me.  I spent just under $60.00 for all the stuff.  I had some older stovepipe that I was going to be using on the inside, and also needed to purchase a couple of more things at the home improvement store in town.  I ripped some of the insulation off the ceiling in the garage and tore off the flammable paper backing for some insulation around the thimble that passes through the wood wall.  And out in the horse barn I found some sheet galvanized steel that I cut, painted, and applied to the wall as a "flashing" of sorts.  

This is what I came up with.  A pipe that runs up the side of the wood shop about 12 inches away from the wall.  I have been monitoring how hot it gets and even when the fire is RAGING in the stove, the brackets and the wall are still as cold as it is outside.  The pipe gets hot right as it comes out of the wall, but the further up it goes, the cooler it is.  And this is my new wood work shop area with a fire in it.  I start the fire around 9:00 am and by 10:00 the wood shop is a comfortable 60 degrees!  GREAT working temperature.

I told the children that I probably should have done this during the summer.  It would have been a little easier to work with the tools outside!  Hey . . . I am still on the learning curve.  :)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

adding some new decorations . . .

Last year we didn't have a tree during the Christmas season.  We were right in the midst of moving, and decorating for the holidays was not a priority.  In fact, we skipped the traditional Christmas we usually have.  

This year, since we are now settled, I asked the children if they wanted to decorate for Christmas time by getting a tree.  They all decided that we should, and they wanted to go to a live Christmas tree farm.  So, last week on a snowy Sunday, we went and picked out this tree.  I brought my chainsaw along just in case we had to cut it ourselves.  As a side note, it is so much nicer using a chainsaw than a hand saw to cut on the truck of a tree.  While in Los Angeles, there was no need for me to have a chainsaw so each Christmas that we got a live tree, I had to spend a whole lot of energy cutting a tree trunk with a handsaw.  :)

Once we got it home, the children decorated it.  Each year we use the handmade paper items we have made over the years, and some of the ones we purchased.  This year I decided to add some other ornaments to the mix as well.  Mini chalkboards that Macy wrote words on.
Paper garland with Rejoice printed on it.
And some partially budded branches.
I do enjoy having a tree inside for Christmas time.  Not sure why, maybe out of habit, but I like it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

wrecking Christmas . . .

I would have never thought that Nolan would have wrecked one of the vehicles so soon after getting his license.  Yet, that is exactly what happened.  Thank God he and Amory weren't hurt at all, and it could have been much worse than what it was.

He was traveling down a country road on his way to the barn where he and Amory train horses.  After coming out of the woods section he ran into some REALLY slippery ice and lost control of the van.  A few seconds later, they were in a field, after having hit a ditch, and the van was on it's SIDE!  They probably slid ten to fifteen feet before they came to a stop.

We got a call from him saying he wrecked the van, and they were on their way home.  Since both if them were not hurt at all, and not even really shaken up, I told them to have the lady they work with to just take them to the barn to do their work and I would come to pick them up.  On my way there, I was greeted by the sheriff and was instructed to bring them back to the site of the accident.  A couple of hours later we left, cold, and a little bewildered what we were going to do with our inoperable vehicle.

The tow company took the van, reset the wheels that were popped, and checked all the fluids.  We got away with some minor cosmetic damages, missing a mirror, and the door and window will need a little work.  Thank God again for His grace for our lives!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

first through sixth . . .

We lived in a small two bedroom home on the edge of our little town.  In fact, half of the road was considered city, and the other half of it was country.  I was fortunate to see both worlds of country and city.  On one hand, I was part of a neighborhood, and then on the other hand, I was able to watch farmers plow beans, wheat, and corn annually.  And I was able to track back into the woods and pick berries during the fall.  I also enjoyed running through the corn fields!

It wasn't until I was a little older, probably by the time I was eight or so, that my dad built a new room onto the house where my brothers and I moved.  Prior to that, my sister shared a room with her two younger brothers.  That was probably a drag for her.  I was elated to move to our HUGE bedroom and it was great to finally have space to fit our beds and our toys.

First grade to the sixth grade was a normal school experience filled with Christmas programs, eating in the cafeteria, and recess filled with fun.  I remember so many activities that happened during the years at Oaklief Elementary.  I distinctly remember sliding down the HUGE metal slide in the winter and sliding on the blacktop after the ride.  Once our class walked to the junior high to watch the high school play that was being performed that year.  They always did a dressed rehearsal performance for the elementary to work out all the bugs before opening night.  Since our school was so small, like our town, I spent my entire school years having a locker next to the same two people.  All the way through high school!

It was in elementary that I began to realize my art talent.  It seemed that my work, art work that is, was slightly better than the rest of the students.  They started recognizing me as the one that could "draw real well."  I am sure that set me up for the rest of my life as an artist.

Friday, November 19, 2010

metal/concrete graveyard find . . .

Here's another UP-CYCLED farm project that is now being used in the house.  Nolan and I came up with this idea after seeing an example of it in our copy of Back to Basics homestead book.

It started with some metal rings that we found out in the metal/concrete graveyard.  The metal/concrete graveyard is a place on our farm where the people before us (like ALL of the people before us) threw all the extra stuff that they did not want to deal with.  Currently we are digging through it to find treasure items like this to turn into functional tools for the home.

I cut a piece of wood for the bottom, screwed the rings in at a log's length, then attached the top together with some wire.  It works great to store wood in the house.  It is upright keeping all the wood off the surface area of the floor.  It also gives air the opportunity to flow through and dry the wood if need be.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

small . . . real small

This is me . . . when I was REALLY young. My mom had pictures of all of her children taken at three months old.  So this is what I looked like at three months.  That was forty-five years and some months ago. :)

I was born in 1964, in a small rural town in Ohio.  It was the kind of town where high school football was BIGGER than life, young people hung around the Dairy Queen parking lot to talk, and EVERYONE knew everyone's business.  It was small, real small.

I don't have any memories prior to kindergarten, but what I have been told is that I only weighed 5 pounds and 4 ounces.  Even though I was little, the doctors let me go home under the condition that I did not lose any of my ounces.  My mom said I kept my weight and was able to stay home.  :)  I was the second son, the third child, of John and Pat Fout.  Both my parents grew up in even smaller towns and moved to Kenton, Ohio where they spent most of the rest of their lives.  Six years after my arrival my parents had another son.  So the final count was three boys and one girl.

This is my very first school picture.  Kindergarten.  Oh the memories of Kindergarten.  :)  I attended a school quite far from my house so my mom drove me to school each day.  Like my brother and sister did before me, I went to Espy Elementary.  AM class for me for the year.  My mom said that we went to that school because no other elementary had kindergarten!

I remember sleeping on my rug during nap time, sliding down the metal slide at recess, and attending a birthday party once where I brought the little girl the exact same purse that four other boys brought her!  Those are just a few of the several memories I have of the first year of school.  All of which were good.  Thank God.

Friday, November 12, 2010

family scrapbook . . .

My last post got me thinking about something I wanted to do a few years ago, but never started it.  It was a fleeting thought, in the car as I was driving to school on day, that turned into a desire that just never developed.  Until now.

Along with that, a couple of years ago, I thought about my children getting older, marrying, and leaving my home.  (which makes me sad by the way)  I thought that this blog would become a "family" affair where all of us, no matter where we were, could contribute and tell our stories, to one another and others who wanted to read, and it be a family scrapbook of sorts.  It would also be a place where the children and grandchildren could "get to know" extended family members who did not live close enough to have frequent times to spend with each other.  It would be a place, a "story", that could be read to find out about one another.

With that in mind, over the next several weeks, I am going to add some personal posts that tell my story for my grandchildren's children to read.  Posts that tell about my life up to this point.  Snippets of who I am and how I got where I am today.  I want them (my great grandchildren) to be able to hear about where and how I grew up, the types of things I liked and hated, and to have a glimpse of who I was.  I want them to have a story to read that gives them a sense of who I was.  These posts being that story.

For those that are interested, follow along to get a peek into my world for a season.  For those that are not, I am still going to post updates on family life here on the farm, and include pictures of course.  You can just skip the personal posts!  :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

us now . . .

It has been a VERY long time since we have taken a family picture.  For some reason, we just can't seem to get everyone on board with getting a picture with all of us in it.  It seems to never work.

However, today, we finally got a picture.  I look at pictures like this and think "is this all?"  wondering where everyone else is . . . as if there are others.

The Opel's visit was fantastic.  They shot arrows, rode on the Gator, rode Lady, cut some wood, and did a whole bunch of visiting.  It is refreshing to spend time with friends sharing ideas . . . experiences . . . our lives.  This weekend we heard the whole story of how Kurt and Anna met and the time leading up to their marriage.  We had fun laughing and sharing.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

This past summer the Opel family came to the farm to visit.  They live in Michigan now, but years ago their family and my family all attended the same church.  In CALIFORNIA!


Through a series of moves around the country (and in their case out of the country) our families have ended up only a couple of hours away from each other.  GREAT for us!  So last summer, when work brought them down to Ohio, they stopped in for an evening meal, a tour of the farm, and a nice time of good old fashion visiting.  It was great to see them again, and reconnect in a completely different context.

That evening they came was a time where we got to know each other a little better and discovered that our family vision and direction was following a similar path.  It was quite natural to ask them to come back down and spend some more time getting reacquainted and finding out more about how God has been changing our lives in a more agrarian sort of way.  As a result, this weekend they are coming to stay with us for a night!

I am thinking that it would be nice to have them put some farm clothes on and help us out with the many things that have to be done before the winter sets in.  We have walnuts to harvest, wood to cut, barn windows to replace, and barn doors to repair.  I am hoping they want to come a get their hands dirty with some real farm work!

If not, I am sure I'll be OK with being talked into sitting around in the warm house (it is 42 degrees out right now as I write) drinking some coffee and laughing a lot.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

more before and after . . .

This is the bridge in the woods that I now have completed.  It was a bear to get there and I ended up having to take it mostly apart after building it.  I built it close to electricity, and then when Nolan and I started on our journey out to where we where going to install it, we ended up popping two of the tires on the Gator!  It was REALLY heavy.  We left it in route to the creek for a couple of weeks until we had more materials to work with, and decided how we could get it there with LESS work.

The pasture behind our woods is a 17 acre field used for crops
And this woods view is back up to our Big Barn.  Right above where the new bridge sits.
And now for some more before/after pictures of the house . . . down the stairs to the basement is our Downstairs Kitchen.  I don't have the electric stove hooked up yet, but that is the next electrical piece I do down there.  I painted the walls white and the floor a favorite coffee color.  We have harvested the pear tree and are using the floor space there to allow the pears to ripen.
 The second room we are calling the Garden room.  It beats calling it the second room huh? It is the area where we store come winter items when not in use, and some canning materials.
And our laundry room also got updated as well.  Sure makes doing laundry a little nicer.
And now the laundry area is equipped with a small dress-up area for the children to change after swimming, or being outside in the snow.  And the clothes stay RIGHT THERE in the laundry room!
And here is the final change in my bedroom.  It went from BRIGHT, flowery, and cold to DARK, plain, and warm.  Just the way I like it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

FREE mini chalkboards . . .

Etsy sellers and bloggers . . .

Here's the post for the FREE mini chalkboard set.
All you need to do is leave a comment on this posting and you will be entered to win a FREE set of eight mini chalkboard signs, or a set of eight mini chalkboard place settings.  At the end of this week, (Saturday at midnight) I will have one of my children choose the lucky winner.

I will contact the winner for their shipping address and the package will be sent out in the mail on Monday Priority Mail!

Happy posting . . . 

garth (gfout.etsy.com)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

oh, the ideas . . .

Here's the finished outhouse where it's going to stay.  It's up close to the rode so that in case a passerby needs to use the restroom, they have a place to stop!  It also serves the people that come to buy eggs from us.  The Star (men) and the Moon (women) are the symbols used that denotes that it is a unisex bathroom.  

I propped the door open to take this picture of the inside.  A natural toilet paper roll holder made from a small log, a small table to hold some wipes and sanitizer, and a painting made by Macy adorns the inside.  There is also a solar light (with remote) located on the ceiling.

And this is my proposed site for my Wall Tent Bed and Breakfast spot.  I am hoping to build a deck, and have a 12 x 14 wall tent on top of it.  I also want to include a bathroom (outhouse of course) equipped with a outdoor tub.  The site would also have a fire ring for night fires and a hammock for daytime relaxing.  An outdoor library, an old propane stove, ohhhh the ideas!

Friday, October 22, 2010

a visit to the farm . . .

WOW!  What a fun time at the farm!

Yesterday, the after school program from one of my schools came out to the farm as a field trip.  It was a blast for everyone involved.  65 students arrived to be greeted with a slew of hot dogs and cookies.  And after they ate, it was a free for all with several activities for them to experience.

Nolan took students on the Gator for a ride through the woods.  This was the big hit of the trip for them.

Amory was stationed at the horse riding area.  Horse riding came in second as the favored activity.


Macy worked with the students, and the teachers, on how to milk a cow.  She also supplied fresh cold milk for them to try.  And some of them loved it.

Asher helped the children in and out of the makeshift pig pen so they could pet and feed our little porker.  It was fun to watch the pig, and the children, squeal.

And Maine worked with the children on catching, handling, and feeding chickens.  It was fascinating to see which animals the students gravitated toward.


It was a great time for the students, and for my children as well.  An all around A+ field trip to the farm!

In addition to field trips to the farm, lately I have been thinking about some Bed and Breakfast accommodation ideas as well.  :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

seeing the sides at night . . .

yearbookyourself.com is a funny little site that Jostens Yearbook Publishing company has come up with to play around with vintage images. Here I am, back in 1968 playing basketball with a school mate friend. I am number 32 . . . and that was back before my beard.

Even from a half mile away you can see the barn illuminated as you drive down the route toward our farm. Two weeks ago, I dug out some of my spotlight yard lights and hooked them up to the barn to highlight the Ohio Bicentennial logo. Currently I just have them in with extension cords so drivers could see the sides of the barn as they traveled down the route at night. I am planning to make them a permanent part of the exterior decor. I have had several comments from local farm neighbors saying that they "LOVE" the lights and are happy that we are taking such care of a once neglected farm. In fact, this farm, back in the day (1907-1930) was the most recognized farm in the county. And everyone that I talk to around here has some historical connection to this place. For example, their aunt married one of the brothers, their grandparents bought meat from the family, or their dad mowed the fields for the family. It seems that our Big Barn is the center of this farm community and that there is a buzz about what we are doing here on our place with it.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

crossing the creek . . .

Another successful butchering day. And a BEAUTIFUL day at that! The chicken plucker has revolutionized our chicken butchering times. It is a pleasure to process 30 to 40 birds now. This morning, I leisurely got around to setting up our stations knowing it was only going to take a few hours of work to process our birds. I don't even think we got started until 10:30 or so with the first of the bunch. An hour and a half later . . . and we were DONE! Done, like I did not have any more to do than to bag them and put them in the freezer. (of course I had a few minutes of cleaning up to do though) What a world of difference a simple little machine makes.

Today was the first day I sold chicken to a customer as well. A family that has been buying eggs regularly from us decided that they wanted fresh chicken as well. So, later in the afternoon, Keith came over and picked up some chicken along with his egg order. It's fun providing food for others and I am excited to see where this venture of providing meat for others lead us.

Another project I have in the makes is a bridge that crosses our creek in the woods. The bridge serves two purposes. One, it helps us crossing the creek whether on foot or in the Gator. Second, it is a practice for the horses as they have to cross over wood (like a bridge) on the Trail event in horse riding. As part of the Tinora High School Equestrian Team, Amory competed in the equestrian event called Trail where the horse is required to do all sorts of things while the rider only uses one hand on the reins, and leads the horse around by touching the neck of the horse. (it's called reining when you tell a horse what to do only using the reins) Two weeks ago she placed SECOND (2nd) in STATE in the Trail event. That was 2nd place out of 9 teams of horse riders with about 2 to 5 riders from each team competing in that event. Way to go Amory!