Sunday, February 28, 2010

until another day . . .

The kitchen was a blur the other day when the children made our noodles for the spaghetti dinner that night. We spared the wasteful expense of the Playdoh extruder and instead collected a couple of noodle makers these past few years. We have two pasta makers now, and have recently gotten them out to make homemade noodles with. As if TWO were not enough, last week Ildi's mom sent us yet another one to add to our pasta making ability. That gives three children the pleasure of making pasta at the same time. Who needs Playdoh when you have REAL DOUGH!

Composting Lesson Number One: Never pile a whole bunch of manure in the barn thinking that you will "get to it later."

Tonight, as I was mucking the area where our cow sleeps, I noticed the manure pile I was creating was slightly smoking. Just a hint of wispy smoke rising from it. I didn't think too much about it and went on with my business of throwing new bedding down for Janey to have a dry spot to sleep on. Since I have composted for years, I was aware of the breakdown of material and the heat that happens during composting. I knew that piles of green matter could sometimes reach REALLY high temperatures causing combustion, but I did not think that my 'little pile' of manure, in my barn, would be one of them.

After finishing the cleanup of milking, I waved Nolan over to come and look at my smoldering pile and said "Now this is composting at its finest" and then was planning to just let it set until another day's work. And I am SOOOOO glad I didn't. Both he and I decided right then to take the time to spread it out on pasture. (spreading it now also gives it a chance to soak into the ground before spring sets in) Thermophiles, microorganisms that live and grow in extremely hot environments that would kill most other microorganisms, were busy at work heating up the pile to the point of burning some of it. (Shawn would be happy that I have studied that a bit) As we forked it onto the Gator to move it out, we uncovered some ashy sections that had actually BURNT! That's science for you!

All in all, we got it all moved out to the field with a little more respect for decomposing matter.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

a big deal . . .

Another beautiful Sunday morning in the great state of Ohio. Great state of Ohio? I'm not sure of that, but it is a beautiful morning anyway.

Yesterday I spent the day "hauling" people again. Since I had most of the last two weeks off school, I decided to drive some of my Amish friends to a sale in the largest settlement of the Amish in America. Holmes County Ohio. We were there most of the day walking around looking at all the machinery, animal tack, and farm equipment. The Amish men are REALLY into auctions and getting a "bargain."

Yesterday we got another load of hay from a local man here in Defiance county. It was the first time I bought hay from him. Second cutting alfalfa. (sounds like I know what I am talking about with grass now huh?) Since I was gone, Nolan had to be in charge of unloading hay and "settling up" with him. Since he is so close to his sixteenth birthday, now starts the two year apprenticeship program with dad to handle the finances and learn how to financially run a home. He got his first experience of dealing with another man, by himself, and writing out a check. Not to be a big deal to us who have written out checks and dealt with business transactions alone for years, but to a sixteen year old . . . it's a BIG DEAL.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

view from the south . . .

Looking out the back/side door to some of our property this morning we were greeted with a winter frost/freeze over all the trees. It was ABSOLUTELY beautiful. This is the south view from the house looking over the woods and creek. Our 4 acres of woods is connected to a greater 100 acre or more patch of woods that follows the Auglaize River up to Maumee which eventually flows into Lake Erie.

This area is filled with history and I am starting to find out more about the area we are now calling home.
The city is on the site of Fort Defiance, built by General "Mad" Anthony Wayne in August 1794 at the confluence of the Auglaize and Maumee rivers. Today a lone pair of cannons outside the city library overlook the confluence and mark the location of Fort Defiance, which faced the Maumee River.

We've been here over a month now, and I am finding that I am enjoying it more and more each day.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

out on the end . . .

Who needs the circus when you have all the thrill a person could want in a barn!

Nolan climbed to the top of our hip roof barn to change one of the light bulbs today. It was quite scary for him, and me, watching him scale up the beams to the light socket that was 30 feet in the air. In the first photo he is climbing up the support beams. In the second photo he's twenty feet high and is still quite a distance from the socket. If you look closely you can see that he still needs to shimmy across the top beam and then walk out 5 feet or so on a plank to reach it. The socket is located on the left side slightly to the left of the top of the "U" shape. With two bulbs in his pockets, he got out the end of the plank and realized the existing bulb just needed to be screwed in more to work.

Tomorrow we are, or really he is, going to change out the bulb that is on the other roof line. Maybe he'll get into tight rope walking next!

Some of our barn tidbits . . .

Built in 1927
8125 square feet on each level (over 16,000 total sq. ft.)
Defiance County Bi-Centennial barn
One of two barn in Ohio with two pictures of the state on it
A historical landmark in Defiance County

dropping the tradition? . . .

Happy Valentines Day.

Over the years I have had the children make Valentines packages of "treats" and "things" for each other. For example, one year they made paper flowers and placed them in clay pots. Where the dirt is supposed to be, I had them place small, not-so-sugary sweets and then cover it with shredded paper to look like a potted plant. On another occasion, they filled a small bag with a couple of healthy snacks and a combination of useful items like hammers, duck tape, scotch tape, pencils, and things that they didn't need, but always wanted. Each year was a different theme with different items they would receive. Mostly useful stuff . . . the things children like to have to play/work with.

The tradition started out with only the boys making a Valentine gift for the girls. We would work in the garage and I would help them make their creations, teaching them how to make things and presenting it nicely. I figure they would get a good idea of how to give gifts to their wives one day. As a treat to them, I would buy candy and let them eat as much of it as they wanted while they made the gifts for their sisters. They loved it. And I loved it too. It was a wonderful time to work together, make things, honor their siblings, and eat junk food. Soon it became me working with the girls as well to make gifts for the boys.

This year, and last year for that that matter, I have dropped the ritual for no real reason. Maybe I just didn't get into it this year. Maybe I am no longer wanting to do it. Or maybe, I have too much OTHER work to do! :) Whatever the reason, this year Valentines Day is just coming and going with no special recognition in our home. Instead of making Valentines bags/gifts for each other today, the boys and I will be in the woods cutting more firewood to keep the house warm. The girls will more than likely spend a greater part of the day doing "The Great Book Sort" as Ildi calls it; an organization of the great many books we have in the home. Probably close to 1000 books. We need to get rid of at least half of them!

However you spend your Valentines Day, we wish you well and that your day is filled with love and affection for not only your immediate family members, but also the greater family of God.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

school is canceled . . .

What do you do with a WHOLE BUNCH of old broken radiators in your house? How do you remove cast iron pieces that weigh over 500 lbs?

Today, since we had school canceled, I decided to start the grueling work of disassembling the radiators that are not in use in the house. Actually, it is not grueling at all, it was quite easy to take the largest one apart in the living room today. Since our house is staying warm with the amount of radiators we have with the addition of the wood cook stove, I plan to try and salvage the broken radiators and part them together to get a couple working. I need to install at least three in the bedrooms we are all using, so if I can mix-match them to get those working, I'll be satisfied. After talking with the plumber and him telling me it would take $20,000 to replace them all, I thought I might try a more economical approach.

Today the birds are out in full force again. It seems that we have quite a variety of wildlife here at the house. There is a bird feeder just outside the window of the family room. Since we've lived here, and given them some seeds to eat, there have been tons of different species of birds that frequent the free buffet. Macy took these photos of the male and female cardinals that have been visiting.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

on the side . . .

One of the benefits of living on a farm and having animals is that the children get opportunities to learn how food is made. Before Janey, they knew that milk came from a cow. They knew butter came from cream as well. But there is always that disconnect that happens when the food you eat is made and packaged elsewhere. Now even the boys are getting first hand experiences at "producing" their own food. Here Asher and Gresham are spending some comfortable time in the family room making butter for all of us. Cream is skimmed off the top of the milk and they take time to shake it (more like bounce it off the sofa cushions) until it separates the butter and butter milk. Most of the time the butter milk is given to the cats or the chickens, while we use the rich, yellow, creamy butter as our food.

Last night we had a late evening winter storm full of wind and cold weather. It was a blustery wind that left the roads full of slippery wet snow and our farm full of drifts. The children built tunnels and forts to play in for the day.

We are starting to figure out how to use the wood cook stove now. Ildi has played with it enough to know how to keep the temperature up and bake something, and cooks quite a few things on it. You can toast bread just by throwing it on the top of it!

Some of the delicious home-made bread Ildi has been making lately. I love home-made bread.

Another before/after of the entry way/mud room. The main entrance to the home is on the side. The formal front door has no side walk to it so we use this as our entrance. It makes it nice to have a place for coveralls, boots, and winter wear. During the summer we can store the coats and our mud/hallway won't be so cluttered. Right now, function trumps form. :)

Today it is 9 degrees and it doesn't seemed to be that cold out. What has happened to me!