Saturday, November 12, 2011

for the winter . . .

Since it was REALLY warm today, I took advantage of the great weather and did some detail work that I have been wanting to do in the barn for a long time.  I am now at the point on the farm that most of the major work is done, and I get to spend time doing some small jobs that are relatively easy.  For example, today I painted another one of the gates in the big barn.  (as well as fixing a few doors)  The gates are fine the gray color they are, but I like to have them painted.  All the outside gates were painted different neutral colors last summer, and now I am working my way through the barn painting the inside ones white.  Years ago I would have spent hours cleaning and prepping them to be painted perfectly.  Now that I am older, less stressed about things being perfect, I just wipe them down a bit with a towel and start spraying away!  Even OVER some of the manure.  :)   
 We have also gotten a lttle head start on mucking out the barn by pulling it off to one side.  (actually, shoveling manure is a form of work that the children do when they get a little naughty with me or each other)  Instead of taking it out in the summer when it is hot, we opted to leave it in the barn until cooler weather to work in.  In addition, it is nice to only move it once.  Now we are going to haul it out the garden and dump it on the garden rows for next planting season.
 And the chicken house was brought into the barn for the winter.  Usually it sits out on the big pasture and gets moved daily so the birds can eat fresh grass and bugs each day.  However, during the winter time, they spend most of the time inside the house huddling to stay warm.  As well, it is a bear to walk half a mile to gets eggs!  This year we put it in the south east side of the barn to see if is easier to deal with than where we put it last year.
The rest of the day was spent getting ready for the winter season this year.  Plastic up on the patio, chicken pens away, last mowing around the pond . . .

Thursday, November 10, 2011

local pheasant hunt . . .

Along with deer hunting, the older boys have added pheasant into their hunting repertoire. 

Gary, the guy I have working on all my vehicles, called a couple of weeks ago and asked if the boys wanted to go with him on a local pheasant hunt.  (It is great to have other people involved and teaching the children new skills)  Since they DID want to go, I thought it would be a great experience for them, and a way to meet and to work with new people.  While I stayed home to work on making chalkboards, they went out to get some meat for the family.  And Nolan came back with a BEAUTIFUL bird.

Using a cast iron pan, Macy put all of her herbs on it, and roasted it in the oven for us to eat. And to my surprise, it was DELICIOUS!  In fact, it had a better taste than the free-range chicken we eat regularly.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

saddle seat, english, and western . . .

The past two weekends Macy and Nolan have spent almost the entire weekend at the fair grounds competing in this year's OHIO horse competition.  Both are riding English and Western, and in different events.  I love going and watching them compete with other students to display their "horsing" skills.

Macy placed well in English Bareback, mostly because she spends lots of time here on the farm riding Lady bareback.  This was here first time competing.  Since this was Nolan's second year, he had a good sense of what he was doing and added Saddle Seat to his events.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

lots of improvising . . .

The knotting of the string on the gourd is fun to do.  I decided to use this type of attachment to hold the gourd up on the wire.  The only other alternative was to drill holes in the top and run a string through it.  I like this look more than a string ran through it.

 This one was EXTREMELY fun to create today.  It all started with our dog Saxon tearing off the top of the gourd.  Instead of blaming him (since it was me that left it on the concrete to dry) I just used it to make a different style of birdhouse.  A more decorative one.  After I sanded it, I drilled holes around the torn top part and the hole for the bird.  I painted it a medium green with spray paint then applied a dark walnut stain on top of that.  Once it was dry I added some semi-dry cat tail reeds by "sewing" them on with black string.  I also used a blanket stitch around the hole with the same string.
 And this is where I put the bird houses.  (or this is where I had Nolan put them!) The electricity wire that stretches from the garage to the horse barn.  Notice the improvisation on lift equipment.  Relatively safe, as long as the van is not moving!  :)  (out here on the farm we have to do lots of improvising.)

hanging them on the wire . . .

I finished the balcony off the game room/loft a couple of weeks ago.  And I am quite happy that I figured out how to match the railing of the porch!

I had purchased a screen door to put on to allow a nice air flow in the room and when I took it up to the loft, there was no way it was going to fit.  Even if I cut a lot from it.  So, I keeped the door for a week or so and modeled the one built from it.  It was fairly easy to build, and I think I probably had $3 - $7 in the total screen project.

 Today was a creative day.  For the past several weeks I have been busy with school starting and with chalkboards on my Etsy business.  It had been awhile that I spent some time making things I want to make.  So today I spent some time building a shelf that I wanted in the bathroom, re-arranging towels racks, adding shelves to the boy's room, adding some art in the girl's room, and making some gourd bird houses.  A while back, a friend gave me four uniquely shaped gourds from his garden.  I have been excited to get to making these for some time, so I spent the time today.  And it was great!  I washed, sanded, and spray painted them blossom white.  The holes had already been cut for me.  After the paint dried, I used my gourd craft book I had gotten many years ago to get inspired to add some knotted string.  It's a sort of macrame. I will be wrapping the string around the top of the gourd so I can hang them on the wire between the garage and the horse barn.  It is a favorite place for birds and I hope a few of them start using the gourds as their home.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

in the fair . . .

There is nothing like a small town fair.  The Midway full of vending foods.
Glitsy-lit rides that make your stomach flop.
And MONSTER trucks the size of a home!
And this year, Nolan was a 4-H participant in the fair along with all the other students in the Saddle Slingers 4-H club.  Since the lady that he has been working with training horses is the advisor for the group, he decided to join the club and get some more experience in showing horses.  This year at the Defiance County Fair, the club decorated the horse stalls in a Country theme.  Not country like living IN the country, but country like a country from around the world.  Nolan chose France and decorated his stall with a French theme including the French flag and vocbulary words in French.
 Along with western barrels, pole, and a miriad of other events, he also participated in the English riding classes as well.  Instead of spending a fortune for English riding clothes, I had an Amish friend sew him a riding shirt and jacket.  It is a beautiful looking outfit and was MORE than reasonably priced.
 He is getting quite good at riding horses and and doing "tricks" with them.  Here he has our thoroughbred Arlian cantering.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

sheep hauling 101 . . .

The drive up to Michigan to get the sheep was an interesting experience. The girls, Asher and I went and were not really sure what to expect.  All we knew was that our sheep were weaned, and we were going to pick them up and bring them home.  We have never had any experience with transporting, raising, or doing anything with sheep except looking at and petting them.  This was going to be our first experience with having sheep.  And with this trip, I can officially declare that I am a REDNECK after transporting the four sheep I bought in our 15 passenger van!

Last Friday morning, after I removed one of the back benches, I cut a washer box in half and put the two pieces in the back of the van.  I was thinking that I could put the two ewes in one, and the rams in the other for the journey home.  When we got there, and I saw how BIG the sheep were, I realized that the plan needed changing.

The White Barn Farm owners, Irv and Kim Preston, were really instrumentall in helping us convert our human passenger van into a sheep hauling mobile!  Irv cut some fencing to attach to the back of the bench and we put some plastic, cardboard, and some old hay down as bedding for them.  It only took us a few minutes to load them and be off on our trip home.  With sheep!  Before we left, both Irv and Kim gave us oodles of information about raising sheep including worming them, picking them up and calming them, and websites where we could buy blankets to keep their wool clean.  And the trip home . . . it was a little noisy.  :)  They spent the entire time bleeting and staring out the window.  And of course, making a mess in the back of the van.  I ended up having to air out the van for four days to get the smell out!

Here are some pictures of the girls and boys now that they are home at FOUTFOLK FARM.

 Praline (ewe)
Clover (ewe) 
Rye (ram) 
Pecan (ram)

I had the children name them a few days after they were born so we could have them registered with their permanent name.  We are now proud sheepherders of the Romeldale/CVM breed of sheep that it still on the critical list of rare breeds.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

farm style . . .

Messy shirt, no shoes, and some food stains on his face . . . but awefully cute for a farm boy!  I have been playing around some more with my camera and trying to catch some images of the children that are interesting.  Here's one of the bohemian/hippie child in a farm style mess.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

fourteen on fourteen . . .

Today is one of those special number times for Macy.  14 on August 14.  It come once in a lifetime.  And today is the day.  Happy Birthday Macy!  May God bless you with His presence, His grace, and His love for others.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

out by my compost bin . . .

Nelson's Tree Service was contrated to cut the trees on our road that interfere with the electricity lines.  A few days ago they came out to cut a little in the patch of trees that are in our front yard.  I decided to talk to them about possibly getting some of the mulched branches in hopes of amending my garden beds and using it around the trees that I planted this year.

Not only did they agree to give me some of the mulch, they have been coming every other day or so and dumping the ENTIRE back of the truck into a HEAP out by my compost bin.  YEAH!

So, this week we have been filling the garden spots with mulch.  Tree bark, wood chips, leaves, and even the small branches . . . for several reasons.

1.  It covers the weeds and stunts their growth.
2.  It amends the soil by adding organic matter.
3.  It helps to retain water in the soil.
4.  It cools the soil and helps the micro-organism to thrive.

This is the heap that they have been adding to.  It is quite a LARGE heap of mulch.  (side note . . . I have been playing around with angles when I take photos . . . be careful when viewing!)

 The watermelon leaves are starting to trickle down the mound and are crawling across the mulch.
 And on our traditional rows garden, the mulch acts as a soft bed to walk on while meandering through the garden.  Every now and again a weed needs to be pulled or tucked under the mulch the stop from getting out of control.
This whole top down method of gardening is new to me.  And new to the practice of our gardening.  Mimicking the forest floor is easy to do and I am hoping that it all turn out.  :)

farm and barn art . . .

Being an artist, it is difficult for me to not want to make environments (spaces) like galleries, full of interesting things to look at. In fact, Dard Hunter said it best when back in the turn of the century was quoted saying "Life without industry is sloth, industry without art is brutality.” I tend to believe the same way.

I love making homes, classrooms, and even barns on a farm a place where art is displayed for all to enjoy. Mostly, I like adding interesting pieces of art that evokes questions, or completes an area making it feel more like a home, not just a house.

This is our finished FOUTFOLK FARM sign that is on the horse barn as you drive into the farm.

A few weeks ago, I put some signs out to stir up thought while travelers drive along the rode.  The idea came from the Burma Shave advertising sign program from the 30's and 40's where signs advertising the shaving creme products were placed along highways where people could read them as they drove along.  They were catchy/gimmicky poems that promoted the goods.  My signs (even though they are not a rhyming poem) are ones of evoking rather than amusing.

I wanted the passer by to read it as they were driving.  The message consists of five signs that read both ways.

 I placed them about the distance of every other telephone pole.
 This painting is hung near the milking stanchions.  A good message for me to be reading at 6:00am EVERY morning.
 And the horse barn also has a family tree painting inside.
 And I finally finished and hung the barn quilt sign.  I am hoping to get some barn quilt paiting business from this one!

Monday, August 8, 2011

bees, chickens, and maple syrup . . .

Mr. Wilson is just plain  . . . a nice man!

Not only has he let me use his tractor to mow this HUGE front yard of a farm, he has taken Asher under his wing and is teaching him how to be a "Bee" man.  A little over a week ago we went over to extract the honey out of the hives that he gave to Ash.  They first smoked the supers (the boxes that are stacked up) and then took them down to see if the frames (the part where the bees build the honeycomb and then store it with honey) were capped off.  Meaning that the bees are done with the work of filling the honeycombs and fanning it so that it only has 17% water in it.  (It is quite the science)
Once they took the supers down they had to inspect them and kill the little african hive beetles that try to make a home in the hives eating the drone pupa to live.

Gresham came along to watch and help as well.

Each of the supers weighed about forty pounds.  As a side note, 10 pounds of honey makes one gallon.

 Once they were finished in the yard it was time to extract the honey from the combs.  Mr.Wilson demonstrated to Asher how to comb the caps off to release the honey and also how to use a hot knife to scrape the caps off.

For a total of three hours worth of work, Asher was able to bring home seven gallons of Local, Raw Honey that is usually sold for $12.00 a quart in the health food store.  Since last week he has given some honey away to friends and family members, bought canning lids and jarred up about 10 quarts, and has sold four quarts already.  And the season is not over yet!  He'll probably make it down to Mr. Wilson's one more time to do another extracting on his hives.

What is great about this whole farm life is the amount of sharing and caring that is happening with some of my local neighbors like Mr. Wilson.  he gave Asher some hives and is teaching him how to keep bees. And the other day we butchered chickens, and I was able to give Mr. Wilson and his wife a couple of chickens and a jar of maple syrup.  It reminds me of the stories I heard of the older days.  And it also makes me glad that we are good relationships with people that help us, and that we can help.