Wednesday, July 31, 2013

just a farmer . . .

So today I am taking in some of the scrap metal that we have in our woods.  It has been three years that I have wanted to get it out, and this summer is the time.

As I am on the way to the metal recycle plant, the phone company men that are working on the new poles slow me down and have me drive on the side of the road so as not to get hit by a loose pole, or their truck.  I recognized the guy who was waving me to the side because he had been to the farm to buy eggs a few weeks earlier.  He lives in Toledo, Ohio, a large city on the north part of the state.  To him, I am just a guy that sold him eggs from my farm.  He has no idea that I spent most of my life in a large city.  In fact, several times larger than the one he now lives in.

So as I pass slowly by, I lean a little out of the window and say "hey boss" and wave a little.  He responds with a nod and a "hey" back.  And after passing, I look in the rear view mirror and hear him say "hey, you are that farmer guy . . ." as he remembered that he had bought eggs at my farm.  To him, I am a farmer.  I am not a teacher.  Not a professional in any way.  To him, just a plain farmer.

And I drove on down the road a little honored.  :)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

hot days . . .

Since it has been really hot the past several days, I moved the cooking to the basement kitchen.  A few nights ago we had deep fried zucchini, onion rings, and bass fish.  It was great to be in a somewhat cool room while the deep fryer was on.
And deep fried zucchini is one of my ALL TIME favorite fried foods.  I sliced them in a french fry cutter and used a light batter of flour, milk, garlic, salt and pepper.  I fried them crispy (because we all like them that way) in a deep fryer full of peanut oil.  Dipped in a little ranch style dressing . . . OOH they are good!
And to break the evening heat, a couple of days ago I sat out front with some great neighbors/friends enjoying some Redd's Apple Ale.  Dar and Darlene live a few miles down the road and have been a wonderful couple that have made all of us feel welcome in our home in NW Ohio.  They are not only kind/welcoming people, but they are also very giving people.  That evening they brought over some extra zucchini and cucumbers from their garden to share with us.

Friday, July 12, 2013

in the wind . . .

 Call me crazy, but I love doing laundry.  Especially the line drying part.  There is something wonderful about air-fresh smelling sheets, towels, and clothes.  And I enjoy the stiffness that comes with it as well.
 Last year in July,  I taught Maine and Asher how to sort clothes, and how to use the washer.  The older three had already learned how to wash their own clothes.  The next step on the country venture was to make use of the natural dryer.

We had two makeshift clothes lines and I required all of the children (except Gresham) to line dry their clothes.  I was hoping to transfer my laundry passion and they too would be hooked on clothes that smelled and felt FRESH.  We were using natural Charlie's Soap for all the washing and trying to use as many natural products in the house as possible.  And as of two days ago, it has been a year since we have used the basement dryer (minus a couple of emergency situations).

I had the poles made three years ago our first summer here.  They just sat in the machine barn until a month ago.  Each of the children spent a little time digging holes for me and Asher and I set the poles in concrete.  It took me so long to get them in the ground because I wanted to make sure the line was put in an efficient, assessable place.  It had to be running north and south, and somewhat close to the basement door.  And it looks like I found a great spot for it!  The clothes WHIP in the wind, and when it is warm out, they dry in minutes.
In addition, Macy and I started on the second pergola last weekend.  I had her help me erect the uprights and attach one of the cross beams.  I had the wood purchased from the first one I built and so it was a matter of just putting it together.  Once I am finished I will be able to plant some trumpet vines along the bottom of it like I did the other.  My goal is to have the vines take over the structure so it creates a shady spot to rest in while working in the garden areas.

Friday, July 5, 2013

only on a farm . . .

Butterscotch has a new little baby to tend to now.  One that does not look like the rest!  But certainly has joined the rest in getting some of mother's milk.

Our retriever is an avid hunter.  She captures and brings back all sorts of animals for us to see.  Most of the time she just plays with them.  If she is hungry, she eats them.  The other day she brought up a little baby bunny for us to check out.  Gresham noticed that she had brought her up to the house, and brought the little animal in the house to show me.  WHILE I WAS STILL IN BED.  :)

The children decided to let the cat mother her since she was so small.  So far so good.  She licks her, nurses her, and carries her around like she does all the other kittens.  Fascinating how all that works.

So now all we are waiting on here on the farm is our milk cow Janey to calve.  She is due any time now.  And it will be nice to be back in milk at the house.

This spring we have had:  10 puppies, 5 kittens, 2 sheep, 1 foal, and our soon-to-be calf.  Yeah for farm life.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

future talks . . .

I am more and more fascinated with living on a farm. There is SO much work to do.  And it never ends.  I knew a few years ago that it was going to take tons of work to run a place like this.  I don't think I knew how constant the work was going to be.  Just the daily upkeep can be daunting!  And I wondered why, as I am getting older, that I would want to add more work to my life.
Most men who arrive at my age have settled into their favorite chair, ritually, and developed a long term relationship with a professional sports team.  Others bury themselves in work and only have relationship with family members at dinner time.  And some are just plain absent.
I bought into the idea of this farm thing because my children wanted to move from the city to a farm.  They wanted animals, woods, pastures, open spaces to play, enjoy, and learn from.  They wanted to be INVOLVED with nature.  Not just watch it on television.  And now it is great to see them involved.  Interacting with the world God has created.  Finding joy in just BEING outside, soaking up the beauty in the simplest things;  Like the moonlight on a summer night.

 Yesterday we went to pick up a new/used canoe.  I sold this one on craigslist and got a sturdier one for the children since they are all getting bigger now.  I was afraid that they were going to put their foot through the thin layer of fiberglass on this one.

During our trip to pick up the canoe, Macy and I were having one of our "future" talks again.  The kind of talk that speculates what the future may look like for our family.  It is great to hear young teenagers talk about growing up, getting married, staying close to home, and wanting their children to be friends with their sibling's children.  Her vision consisted of her and her siblings owning a few of the home that are close here to the farm.  Them and their children keeping animals here, and always being part of "grandpa's" farm.  The children floating from aunt/uncle/cousin houses staying with each other, coming down to the farm to help grandpa out with chores, and spending our lives working together to create a wonderful place for all of them to enjoy, learn from, and be connected to.
 I LOVE hearing vision like that.  Especially from my own children!  Vision like that is full of care.  Full of what God intended for families to think and believe.
What are the chances that will happen?  Probably slim to none.  I'm not a doomsday believer, but chances are they will all get on with their lives, scatter themselves across the country, and come to visit me once in awhile here at the farm.  That's OK.  That's part of life.  Part of becoming independent.  And my grandpa days are not here for a little while longer.  We still have some time to mill things over.  :)
So, all that to say that I am doing it for them.  I am creating more work now for myself so that potentially they will have a place for their children to be part of.  And along the way, I REALLY ENJOY living here and doing the work.  It beats watching TV in my book.
And on a side note, we now have 12 gallons of cherries in the freezer for this winter when fruit runs scarce.  I just washed and froze them pits and all!

Monday, June 3, 2013

sun setting . . .

Yesterday late morning, as I stared out of the kitchen window, I noticed a new foal had joined our farm.  At first I was not thinking that Lady had her foal.  But a second later, I yelled for the others to come and see the new addition to our farm!
 She is a Full Quarter Horse and has a lovely white marking on her head.  We are all hoping that she "grays out" as she gets older since the Sire is a full gray stallion.
 And it is hard to pass up taking great shots of Gresham with such a BEAUTIFUL sunset happening.  The other night it seemed almost magical outside the way the sun was setting in the sky.  God has a great sense of "live" painting here on the farm.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

love spring . . .

Love Spring here on the farm!  The leaves have come, flowers are blooming, and the grass is OUT OF CONTROL.

 The younger three have already started fishing and swimming.
And my green house is finished.  Kind of.  I decided to save a little time and be able to get the plants started earlier by putting plastic along the bottom and on the door frame.  Later this summer, when I am finished with school, I'll cut the glass and screen to fit in the bottom portion of the house.
The other day it was 115 degrees in there when I got home from school.  I have since taken off some of the plastic and keep the door propped open to allow some air flow while my plants are starting.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

more spring rectial work . . .

The children all have musical spring recitals.  I have spring building recitals!  And I think that I am addicted to building things.  The last few weeks I have been designing the greenhouse that I have wanted to build for three years now.  And this spring was the time for the production.  I had gotten some glass patio doors from a friend of mine and planned the structure around the shape of the doors.  Free glass is a hard thing to pass up.
I decided to build support walls on the bottom because each glass door weighs around 150 pounds.  The back, sides, and top all get the big patio doors.  They all measure 80" x 50" and I am using them horizontally.  I used some new construction wood to build the frame and painted it with an aluminum reflective paint.  Since I am in a rush to get it up and use it, I painted it and assembled it at the same time.  And I learned my lesson about building things "on site" with the bridge I built in the woods.  I constructed the wall in the wood shop, then brought it out where it will stay and put it together. 
 It's a nice little building that will accommodate all of our seed starting.
And this is Maine's spring recital piano piece.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

spring recital . . .

Spring brings . . . and in this case . . . skills.  All the children had their annual Spring Recital last weekend, and here are some of the highlights of the program.  This video of Gresham is after six or so months of piano lessons.  Notice that he has memorized the music.  As a six year old (now seven) he is doing quite well memorizing his pieces.  Although, he does READ his music first.
This video was several months ago.  On the old piano.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

snow storm . . .

kitchen window view
We had a sudden snow storm last night, and school was cancelled today.  LOVE these kinds of days.  Since I have the day off, I am making breakfast for the children.  Usually I am gone by 6:45, and the children wake up (a lot later) and make their own breakfast before starting on their studies.  I try to have them get their studies done before I get home so we can spend time together eating, playing, or watching movies in the evening.  Since August, we have been keeping more of a night life; not getting to bed each night before 10pm.  Last night, knowing that I was probably not going to have school today, we all stayed up even later.
The animals have been foraging around, and it is nice to stand at the sink (while doing dishes) and watch them.  I love living here on the farm, and enjoy the work with all the animals as well.  What's great about our approach is that we do not let the farm run our lives.  We don't let the work of the farm make us feel bound to chores.  Sure, chores must be done, but we don't let the chores dictate our schedules.  We work around the thing we need to do, making sure they get done, without having the feeling of being labored to death by living here.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

finished the upstairs bathroom . . .

When we first moved in, we peeled paper off the walls, and I painted this bathroom.  I did a rush job on it knowing that I needed to get the rest of the house done before we moved in.  Just these past few weeks, I have repainted, and finally finished the bathoom now.  I was only planning on cleaning it a bit, but Macy encouraged me to fill some cracks, and repaint it to make it "fresh."  She was right.  I am happier now that I took the time to do all the details of it.

Since the room did not have an exhaust fan, I used an old ceiling fan that I removed from one of the bedrooms, painted it, and installed it.  A couple of miscellaneous finds from the Goodwill, repainted, and now our upstairs bath has a "fresh" start. I have a couple more accessories to go, like a bath caddy, some towels, and a new rug, and it will be done.  I love the clean feeling of a newly painted room!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Goodbye and Hello...

The newest goodbye was just this afternoon. Our white van, that has been ours for as long as I can remember, was sold today. I took pictures of it just last night, then by around 9:00, Dad had already got 5 calls asking about it. One of the men that called for it stopped by this afternoon and bought it, just like that :)

Goodbye... We are NOT sad to see you go! :)
Newest hello is to this lovely piece of plastic!

Yes, I got my permit! I was 15 and a half on Valentines Day, and I wanted to get my permit as soon as I could. So I did a couple practice tests last night and this morning, then Dad drove me up to the BMV to get it. I was SO excited :) I passed the test then we waited FOREVER until their computer worked, then Dad had me drive home.... I was shaking like a leaf. Dad was yelling at me the whole time, saying things like "The speeed limit is 55 NOT 30, push the gas pedel!" All in all an eventfull day :)
Post be MacyAnne

Saturday, February 9, 2013

boys room . . .

The boys room, on the other hand, had paper.  And lots of it!  Some of it was peeling off already, so it made it a little easier to peel the rest of the paper off.
 And one of the seven radiators that were bad needed to be dismantled and removed as well.
The room now definitely has a young man feel to it!  Guns on the wall, bones and animal parts, and live rats.  Yes.  Live rats!  Both Asher and Maine raise RATS!

Asher purchased a couple of box traps last year, so he used the black and white picture from the package to make some wood picture boards from them.  After he glued the image to the board, he scroll cut them out.  Currently he has a racoon, squirrel, and a pheasant one.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

from the top . . .

The girl's room did not have wallpaper so it made it easier for me to finish.  There was a band of cork around the room, which made a nice separation from the top of the wall to the bottom.
 The walls were white and were a blank canvas for me to work with.
 I painted the bottom portion a buckwheat color (Khaki) and wrote the first chapter of James around the top of the cork.  The girl's added the pinned details like leaves, seeds, weeds, and bugs.  There are also a couple of real nests in the corners.
 I ordered the curtains from IKEA and had them shipped here.  Couldn't imagine driving three hours to go to the closest IKEA!
 When it is cleaned up, it makes for a large, pretty room.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

finished rooms . . .

After we moved in, and I painted almost all the rooms, I updated some pictures of the rooms that I had finished.  Since that post, the rooms I did not get to now have the final touches to make them "finished."  This is the before/after of the upstairs hallways that leads to 3 bedrooms, a sewing room, and the upstairs bath.  (which I am currently repainting)
Not much difference except some paint, a couple of old world maps, and a mirror at the end of the hall to make it seem larger.
And on the way down the stairs I have a quilt displayed that has all the reminant fabrics that my mother kept from her childhood.  There are old pieces of my aunts dresses, my mom' clothes, and some of the fabric my mom used to make us clothes when I was young.  The blue and red patch used to be one of the shirts I used to wear!  My mom made the design years ago, and had some of my Amish friends quilt it for her last year.  She asked me if I wanted it now knowing that I had the intention of haning a quilt in the hallway one day.  How nice that it has my OWN history involved in it.  I found the hanging quilt/plate rack at a Goodwill for only $4.00 and it was a excellent fit for the space.
This is the Foyer, also functioning as a dining room.  On the listing of the home, it is considered the dining room.  But since we have a addition kitchen and family room, it is too far from the kitchen for us to use as a dining room.  We just use it as a pass through to get upstairs and a place to do studies or projects.  I kept the embossed wallpaper on the bottom and just painted over the color.  The top was stripped and painted, and a new ceiling fan installed.  One that matched the BEAUTIFUL/original woodwork.
I removed the broken radiators, added the furniture, and just awhile ago, added the wooden curtain rods and curtains.  I bought discount curtain rods and finials from the ReStore for an outrageously low price.  In fact, I only spent only $100.00 for rods/brackets/finials for the WHOLE house! And I got brown curtains from IKEA.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

cleaning the stove grates . . .

Last weekend we had some friends over for a mid day meal.  Sort of like a lunch, dinner, and supper all in one.  He and his wife brought some salad, a vegetable tray, and some cupcakes for dessert.  I grilled some of the steaks we had just butchered and also roasted a whole chicken from the freezer. 
While we were waiting on the chicken to finish cooking, he and I did a little OCD cleaning.  We are both like that.  We are very similar in that both of us LIKE to clean, and also get out tools to do the job.
 It's funny how satisfying it is to clean something so thouroughly.  My stove top had not been COMPLETLEY cleaned since we bought the home.  The surface had been wiped down many times, but the caked/burnt grime still remained.  Now, it does not exist! 
 And now I am in the process of cleaning the grates from all of their residue as well. They are enamel painted metal, so I first boiled them to loosen the grime, and now am scrubbing them with a cleaner and a scratch pad.

And this late morning, I am sitting here on the sofa in my family room, looking out the back of the house to our new, beautiful blanket of snow we got yesterday.  Wood burning in the stove, relaxing on the sofa, drinking some coffee, and planning what I am going to do today.  I think I am going to finish painting the upstairs bathroom and put it back together.