Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Garden is sleeping

Well, let's see if I can remember everything I wanted to write about in this post. I am a true gardener - I remember reading somewhere something about a true gardener is always looking at the next years plans, dreams of the garden, no matter how well or poor this year's garden has done. This is so true!

We were not even going to have an annual garden this year as we wanted to concentrate on planting perennials and fruit and nut trees. Well, I went and got ahead of myself....surprise, surprise! Despite our neglect, it did alright. Once I saw that plants were actually growing underneath all the weeds that had grown up, I started pulling weeds and tried to save the veggies.

Our best crop we had was cucumbers! We had a shitload!!! I never had luck with them before, always got downy mildew and then they would just peter out and never set fruit, but this year, they did wonderful. I say it was from the dehydrated cow manure from the cattle shed we added to the soil.

This pumpkin was the last bounty I pulled from the garden.

If I remember correctly, we got a few pieces of corn, a handful of sugar snap peas, a few zucchini, a couple of yellow summer squash, some mesclun lettuce, some beets, a little broccoli, tons of cucumbers, several tomatoes, a few bell peppers, several hot chili peppers, a few acorn squash, a couple of butternut squash, and a few pumpkins. I can only imagine if the garden is tended to like it should how productive it can be. I am already thinking about next year's garden and what seeds I want to plant. It does not help that we already have received a couple seed/plant catalogs on the mail! ALL THOSE PRETTY PICTURES!!!!! ARGH!

Next year, we plan to preserve and store more food. I expect next year to be the year of canning/freezing and crafting!

The chickens scratching in the garden, helping out.
Well, the garden is pretty sleepy right now. We have added straw/mulch to the annual garden area and had one of the meat chicken tractors in the annual garden area that we moved around when the broiler chickens were in it. The chickens did a nice job scratching around and left lots of fertilizer behind. The meat birds are now gone so it is pretty quiet out there. The hens like to go out there and scratch around though.

We plan on expanding the garden outside of the backyard. The 2 remaining broiler chicken tractors were in this area preparing it for gardening. We are going to put raised beds out there with garlic and asparagus. Around the raised beds, we plan on putting several blueberry bushes.

We have also been discussing new animals for next year. We are interested in adding sheep, but will probably hold off another year for this. We do want to add a few more hens, some guinea fowl, and some indian runner ducks for the pond.

We still have lots of cleaning up the property, pruning trees, cutting down old, rotten trees, getting rid of junk in the outbuildings, organizing the outbuildings, tearing down the dilapidated turkey shed where our new home site will be, among the everyday stuff!

We have plenty to keep us busy! :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Weekend update

We had a lovely weekend. We had Thanksgiving day, then slaughtered our remaining 47 chickens on Saturday, then had a lovely second Thanksgiving dinner at a friend's home on Sunday.

Saturday, my mom was here to watch the kids and we loaded our 47 chickens into bins and transported them to a farm about 40 minutes from here so we could use their plucker drum and have extra help with processing the chickens. It was our 47 chickens, Sam's 17 chickens, and Nicole's 8 chickens. There was the killing station, scalding station, removing the head and feet station, the plucking station, the eviscerating station, and the bagging station. We got into a groove with a person working at each station. I worked at the killing station all day. After processing the chickens and cleaning up, the lady who owns the farm, Cathe, fed the work crew a wonderful meal.

This is awesome - these are uncompleted eggs found during evisceration of Nicole's hens that were slaughtered. Even the biggest egg does not have the hard shell yet - it is just the membrane. I brought these home to show the kids.

Sunday, I took the boys to a friend's house for a second Thanksgiving. Brian stayed home to work on a work project that is due mid week. Iris stayed back so she could nap. The boys had a great time playing with other kids. The food was yummy and company/conversation was great.

I was able to make it to Joann Fabric store before they closed on Sunday. I purchased a pattern and fabric to make a project for my kids and Aunt Bob's girls that I will need to get done before X-mas.

I have several projects to complete for X-mas. I have been working on a little dress up wardrobe for Iris. I had to cut some scrap wood to add to the cabinet I already had. Brian showed me how to use the circular saw and table saw. I was reluctant to use them and just wanted him to complete it for me. He gave me shit, saying something like, "you talk all about feminism and how woman need to be treated equally, blah, blah, blah, but when it comes to a task that is "traditionally" a man's job, you want a man to do it, blah, blah, blah".......well, I grumbled a bit and in the end was proud for doing it myself and glad he showed me. Damn Man! :)

I felt very blessed this weekend as I worked along hard working people, shared good food and conversation with friends, worked on crafty projects, filled our chest freezer with yummy homegrown chicken, making stock from the chicken feet today, and eating one of our home grown chickens this evening. Even with the cold, windy rain outside, life is feeling pretty warm these days. Thank you to all who make our days better and brighter.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Quick note to say Happy Thanksgiving! I cooked today, it turned out well, my dad and his wife and their friend from Bogata, Columbia came for dinner. We watched Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph this evening- CLASSICS! The males in Rudolph are male chauvinist dicks! Watch it again- you will see what I mean! My mom was at my older sister's house, so we missed having her with us. I also missed having my sister and nephew to celebrate. I talked with my sister, who reports is going to try to get pregnant. She is very excited about it. Going to try to get things done tomorrow around the house. Have to get everything prepared to slaughter close to 50 chickens on Saturday. Hope everyone had a wonderful day!

Living with Less - Week 47

Objective: rid this house of 10 items each week for the year. Limit what goes in the landfill.
Money earned through this project: $1136.00.

4 picture frames, 5 books, a Halloween pot holder, a cassette tape, and a flower/birdhouse thingy - all went to The Spare Room - an exchange shop in the town I live near that is open until mid Dec.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lil' sweetheart

don't let that sweet, pretty smile fool ya - she is a fiery one!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Some projects I am workin on

Want to get the chainsaw out and slice some rings off to make a birthday ring for the kids

found this old TV/radio? cabinet in the garage left by the prior owners -it actually has some cool woodwork on the other side that I did not discover until I brought it inside- gonna see if I can save it and turn it in to a child's dress up wardrobe closet for Iris' room. wish me luck!

my first quilt I am working on. It will be for Zane. The strips are not sewn together yet- it just appears that way since I laid them so close together. Not sure how the final placement of the strips will be, but I am happy with the colors. Hope to have this done before X-mas.

Lala and Amy's wedding

Last Saturday, we celebrated Lala (Laura) and Amy's love by attending their wedding. Lala was beautiful and Amy looked very sharp in her suit. It was nice to get dressed in something other than lounge pants and a comfy shirt. I also got to swing dance with my husband at the reception which was VERY nice. We all had a great time!

me and my momma

Iris all dressed up

Zane -the armless boy

Handsome Gareth-O

Ziza and Iris

Pretty Lala talking with a friend

Lala and Amy at the beginning of the ceremony with their 3 kids

in love.......

so pretty......

greeting guests

at the reception listening to a toast

the video is about 12 minutes - crazy long, I know. It shows parts of the ceremony, songs played and sung, words spoken, vows modeled after Kwanzaan principles, their family dance at the reception, their first dance as wife/wife, and part of Lala's thank you speech.

Congratulations Lala and Amy - may you have many wonderful years together! :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Living with Less - Week 45 and 46

Objective: rid this house of 10 items each week for the year. Limit what goes in the landfill.
Money earned through this project: $1136.00.

2 weeks = at least 20 items

1. coat Iris has outgrown. went to playgroup momma for her new lil' one.

2. booster seat with tray - went to neighbor who does home day care

3- 10: infant toys -went to neighbor's home day care

11-30! cleaned out storage bins of toys - lots of little junk. some items recylcled, some thrown out

Exciting news: the lil' town near we live has opened up The Spare Room until Dec. 18. The hours are Thursday from 5-7 and Saturday from 9-11. People can donate gently used items. People are free to take items. There are no price tags on the items. You can take the items by donating items, volunteering time to sort and organize items/tables, or leaving a monetary donation. Very cool that they are doing this! It is the perfect thing to help me end this project with a renewed energy! I have already started to gather things together!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Not enough time in this life!

There is not enough time in this life to do and learn all the things I want! I think this is the ONLY life we have, so one needs to live fully and well to get the most out of it! I don't think there is an afterlife, a heaven....When I die, my body will become worm food and my mind will cease to exist. I will live on through the memories of my children and hopefully grandchildren and the genetic material I have passed on. The material elements that makes up my body/mind will return to the earth and always exist. "I" WILL live forever....as star dust. How cool as that?!

Ok, Ok......I went off on a tangent even before I really started my post. The MAIN thing I want to get across is that life can be tough at times, life can become monotonous sometimes, it can be stressful, sad, anxious, etc.......BUT - life is worth living! Even when I am depressive and/or have negative feelings, I always feel life is worth living. The ability to just feel emotion is amazing enough for me. I would rather feel "negative" feelings than none at all.

All that being said, I want to learn and do as much as possible in the things I am interested. I don't understand people who are bored with life. There is an almost infinite possibility of things to do and learn. I don't get people who simply go to work, come home, watch TV, sleep, and get up to the same old shit. People with no hobbies beyond sitting on their ass watching TV...I don't get it. To me.......that is not life......that is waiting to die.

I want to do and learn so much that I don't think I will have a chance to do it all. I am not constantly working at those interests.....sometimes I want to sit on my ass, relax, and vegetate in front of a movie. However, much of my time is spent working towards goals, whether it be actually doing something or thinking about it. Brian often gives me a hard time about adding new things to my to do list. I often move my new ideas to higher priority than the 1000 other projects that need completed and that have been on the to do list for longer. I admit to doing this....I fully admit that I have a problem. I swear I am borderline ADD! I get distracted SO easily. Good thing he loves me and accepts me for my crazy ways. :)

I have had so much going through my head recently with things I want to get done. I started making lists of these things. Some of these things I want to get done before X-mas, some work on next year, some beyond that....

Here are my ideas of things I want to do:

During each month, I want to have a craft and/or activity prepared for the kids to do.
Jan: New Years Day, Iris' birthday
Feb: Valentine's Day
March: St. Patrick's Day, 1st day of spring (vernal equinox)
April: Easter, Earth Day, Arbor Day
May: May Day, Mother's Day, Memorial Day
June: Carla's b-day, Gareth's b-day, Father's Day, Summer Solstice
July: Independence Day, Brian's b-day
August: Back to school
Sept: Zane's b-day, Fall equinox
Oct: Halloween
Nov: Thanksgiving
Dec: Winter Solstice, X-mas

I want to recognize the solstices and equinoxes and take a family night walk each month when there is a full moon. Gareth is showing interest in the solar system and these things are part of understanding how our world works.

I want to do a letter of the week with the kids and have crafts/activities planned to go with each letter. I have a few websites bookmarked that give great ideas to start with.

I want to make a birthday ring out of some of the limbs/logs from our hollow tree. I want to have 12 holes in it. It can represent the kid's birthdays until they become a teenager where we can have a "special" recognition when they turn 13. If I want to use it year round, I can also use it to represent months of the year.

Other crafts I want to work on are:
finishing Zane's quilt
working on a quilt for Iris, Gareth, our room and maybe for other people.
making several pieces of clothing with freezer paper stencils
painting Iris' dollhouse
make several tablecloths for holidays, seasons, everyday use
make own soap - we have lots of the materials already, just need to do it!
sew Iris some cute clothes - my friend, Bridget, e-mailed me several super cute pdf files of patterns. I also want to make the boys some pants.
have a tie dye party - wanted to do this this year - didn't have enough $$$$
build some bird houses/bat houses
separate the old wood shingles that were taken off our roof and use them for something rustic looking, maybe paint on them, make welcome signs or something....they are too cool not to do something with them.
I want to start knitting and/or crocheting again someday. I have started this in the past and lost interest quickly, never really got past the beginning stitches. The foreign language of the patters always overwhelmed me! I have made some rough looking scarves and wash clothes, but that is it.
make some marionettes
make some bucket/rope stilts for the kids
make a dress up wardrobe for Iris' room

I have been working on the Living with Less project this year. We have gotten rid of so much stuff and have seen a difference. I want to continue to live simply.

I want to talk about ethics/morals/principles/values with the children more as they get older. There are some good websites I have bookmarked. Some even have lesson plans with book recommendations. They don't get those lil' doses of "morality" that is taught in church, since we don't attend church. I want to make a conscientious effort to "formally" teach them some of these things.

I want to do another project for 2011, just for myself. Things I am considering doing are:
a self portrait every day of the year
read the bible from beginning to end and write my thoughts in the blog. I want resources from a skeptic's perspective, a Christian" perspective, and a historical perspective . The problem with a skeptic's and a Christian perspective is that people take what they like and ignore the rest, or apply only the passages they want to their lives, or interpret the passages the way they want that suits their thought, beliefs about things........that is the problem with formal religion, in my opinion.

So.......that is it for now......I'm sure I can add some more to this list in the couple of days. ;)
This is in addition to the multitude of things that need done around here on the farm. Weeding, planting, gardening, mowing, cutting down and pruning trees, taking care of animals, fixing shit up, cleaning and organizing, possibly adding new animals.

Life should NEVER be boring!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fox Ridge State Park

I love autumn time. The cool air....soaking up the any sunshine one can get before the long, cold winter settles in......the crunchy leaves.....harvest time....warm tea.....hot chocolate with lots of little marshmallows......yummy treats baking in the oven.....holiday meals with friends and family....smell of drying/dying leaves.......cozy sweaters/sweatshirts......cuddling with hubby and kids under blankets on a cold morning......watching more movies with the family as we spend less time outside......

Here we are at Fox Ridge State Park south of Charleston, IL. It has some deep ravines and a lake we have yet to explore the edges of.

These are some of my favorite images from the outing. We took the fitness trail, so there were many interesting things to climb on for the kids.

Good lookin Zaners - Nana says he looks a lot like his great grandfather.

Handsome, goofy Gareth-O

The next 2 images are what makes life/memories so great. I think the things I will remember most fondly as I age are not fabulous, extravagant vacations, but these little glimpses of love in what seems like an ordinary day......these are the images that stick most in my mind.....

brothers having a blast in the leaves

A thoughtful beauty

we are getting to be ol' folks! I love this lil' man of mine. Isn't he adorable?!

I am letting my hair grow out....it is thick as a rug! The in between stage is going to be a bitch!

all 3 kiddos walked this entire balance thing all around 3 sides.

Video has 2 segments
1. Daddy is strong and sexy. :)
2. FAmily walk/talk

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Kuntry Kidz

I love raising the kids in fresh, country air! I love that many of their "toys" and adventures are found in the great outdoors. I love that their pets include chickens, and one day, sheep and goats.....I love that one day I will be able to kick them out of the house for the day and send them off for fun...tell them to go play in the creek - and mean it!

Zane and Iris hanging out while Gareth is in school

pretty sweet pea

savage pirate on his ship

Gareth and Zane hiding out in the wheel barrow with a corn stalk

one of their favorite things to do lately is walk out in the harvested tilled under corn field next to our house. I think they like maneuvering in the mounds/clods of dirt. ahh, to be a kid growing up in the country.....it is the best life.

Iris at Negangard's Pumpkin Patch

The first time we went to Negangard's Pumpkin Patch this year, lil' Iris was napping in the car, so we did not get any pics of her. We went back late in the season to get more edible squash to store over the winter and to get little pumpkins for Gareth's pre-school class, so was able to get a few pics of the baby girl! My- has she grown!!! I put a couple of last year's pics to compare size!

2010 compared to 2009- what a sweetie!

Iris and Ziza - best friends

trying really hard to move the pumpkin

get that damn camera away mom! do you have to take a picture of EVERYTHING?!

here she is last year 2009 - what a lil' bit