Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dashing through the "Ice" ?

As I write this, it is raining & sleeting. I just got home from work & last minute shopping & the roads are getting slippery. We are anxiously awaiting the forecast for tomorrow. It seems to change hourly when the temps are around 32 degrees. Right now there is a weather advisory for our area due to icy conditions & a flood advisory. By Christmas day we could have over an inch of rain (which is better, driving -wise than snow). The tricky part is when & if the sleet turns to rain & will it stay rain. Kristin & Tim are set to travel the 2 1/2 hours here tomorrow early evening unless the conditions stay icy. The last thing I want is for them to be on the road in bad conditions. So we wait & see. My brother is hosting Christmas Eve again with lots of good snacks & cookies. Shane lives close to him & will then travel back to our house to spent the night (along with Kristin & Tim, I hope). Amy & Rob will come over in the morning. We cook a big breakfast of veggie omelets, fresh fruit & hash browns. Then we exchange gifts. Steve is busy at work right now finishing up some of the handmade gifts he is making. Mine are finished & under the tree already.
Can't believe how fast the year went. Lots of changes at the farm, new friends made, baby on the way, an engagement, and putting the house on the market, etc, etc...
I hope all of you & your families have a safe & merry Christmas and peace in the new year.

Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Moving Right Along

Where does the time go? It seems to fly by way too fast. We have been busy getting the house ready to sell & work & Christmas and on & on & on. Getting a little stressful. Still need to send out Christmas cards at work & home, finish a few presents that we are making, clean the garage & attic...
Not that I'm not having some fun in all this chaos. I've been Freecycling excess stuff that we have accumulated and it really feels good when the people that receive the items are excited to get them. I have met many nice people by Freecycling. I had lunch with one of them today. A couple years ago I asked on Freecycle for some perennials. Karen was the only response I received. We hit it off right away. A lot of the same interests. And I got some beautiful plants! We have gone out to lunch ever since. Yesterday I met a nice couple, Kristi & Pete. I gave them a desk and then I found the seat that went with it & Kristi came back today after lunch to get it. We talked for about an hour. She brought me some soap that she sells which was so nice. We made plans to meet for coffee or tea soon. I am a true believer in karma. The feeling alone from giving is so great and I feel I am getting a bonus by making new acquaintances.
Sunday, we spent the afternoon with Steve's dad visiting his mom in the nursing home. She has been in there for about 3 years now. She has vascular dementia. The home had a Christmas party which was really nice for the patients & visitors. They had an small orchestra & madrigal singers. His mom perked right up when the singers started. She was clapping after the songs & said how good they were. So glad we went.
I have been talking with our realtor and we will be putting the house on the market on January 4th. I have quite a few things to do before it is ready besides having Christmas breakfast for all the kids on Christmas morning, which I love to do. Tonight I am taping off the master bath to start painting tomorrow. I 'm taking the day off to do that & bake Christmas cookies and maybe start on the garage sorting. The carpet cleaning appointment is on the 29th (Steve's birthday) and all the decorations & tree will have to be put away by then. :-(  The realtor is coming on the 30th to take pictures & go over paperwork. I just have to keep thinking about how it is all worth it. When the townhome is on the market, we start with the shop. Lots of clutter there.
I am baking a casserole of sweet potatoes, onions & apples as I write. I picked up some artesian garlic bread at the grocery store to complete the meal. It smells really good in here now :-)
I think I will go & sit on the couch & take my "20 minutes to myself" time for the day. It helps me to de-stress. Hope everyone has a great night.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

This Is How It Began

A rerun of my first post...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Beginning

Where do I start? We are not what you might call "spring chickens". Mid-life is what I hope we are, being that we are in our 50's. What started our search for a different kind of life?

Steve lived in Colorado right out of college and led a ski bum/hippie kind of lifestyle for a short time. He read Mother Earth News, was interested in alternative building, etc. I was a hippe "wanna be" in junior high but that phase passed as I went to high school. A few years back, in search of a healthier lifestyle, I attended a talk on raw foods at the local health food store. That talk was all I needed. We started to eat raw, organic fruits & veggies right away. The asthma I had lived with since I was seventeen was under control within a month. No more meds. Not for asthma or allergies. Steve could stop taking his cholesterol meds too. Amazing. One thing led to another. Reading about gardening, the environment, starting to study natural medicine is what led us on the path to a better life. We tried to find a farm in our area in Illinois, but prices were too steep. We set a limit of 2 to 4 hours away from our home to find the place we dreamed of. Southwestern Wisconsin fell into that category. We started to look online at farm property. An Amish owned farm kept coming up as a favorite. But no electricity or water was a huge drawback. Steve kept saying that it would be too much work. I kept showing him the listing. While we were looking at other properties, the realtor said she could show us the farm. It was her listing previously so we could just stop by.

I didn't get my hopes too high, but after we saw the property in person, Steve was excited. This was it. We put in our offer.
That was the fall of 2006. We closed in March of 2007. Since then we have been going up to the farm on every available weekend to work on it. Yes, it's been a sacrifice in some ways, but a dream is a dream. We know some day it will be worth the countless hours we and other family members have put into it. We look forward to the day we move in for good. Sitting in front of the woodstove, enjoying the falling snow out the picture window while we read a book. That is what I see in the future. Home sweet home...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I just finished baking two loaves of zucchini bread. The house smells so good right now. I shredded a lot of zucchini when it was in season & froze it in two cup measurements so it would be easy to make this bread.

Doing Some Blog editing. Sorry!

Sorry if you have received a lot of older posts. I was doing some editing for a blog book & needed to re-publish all of the posts that weren't included in the book.
Just delete away :-)

Weather Related Day Off, Progress at the Farm & Baby News

Very fine flakes of snow are falling to the earth this morning. So peaceful looking (if you are sitting at home enjoying it). It is predicted that we will get 4-8 inches in our area of Illinois. Up to twelve inches at the farm. Steve left for work around 6:30 & told me to call him before I drove in to work so he could let me know how the roads are. I called him a few minutes ago & he said it's kind of slick & since it is just starting, I should stay home if I want. I will never say no to that :-). He knows I am freaked out about driving when it is slick out. I just don't like it when other drivers tailgate me if they think I am going too slow. It is our anniversary today, so it is a nice present from him to stay home. Tomorrow is supposed to be worse so I might be home then, too. Not like I don't have anything to do at home. We are getting the townhome ready to put on the market. Last week we painted the master bedroom & I will start on the kitchen this week.  I still have holiday baking to do so I want to get the painting done before that. Then there is the cleaning of closets, general cleaning & sorting & cleaning the garage. I remember when we bought our first house. No one expected a house to look like a model. Now they do. Oh well. I just hope it sells.
Our son Shane came up to the farm this weekend & helped us out so much. Usually it is just Steve & I struggling to lift heavy stuff (actually, I struggle while he doesn't :-). Anyway...the foil backed insulation is up on the basement ceiling to hold in the heat from the radiant floor pex tubing, John from Green Home Solar came over & made the finishing adjustment to the boiler system, the drywall is up that closes off our new living area from the workshop area & cotton blue jean insulation is up on the drywalled wall. We are all set for winter now. Won't have to worry about frozen pipes this winter. Just in time too. The temps are supposed to be near zero at night this week. We will be able to sleep better knowing the barn is all cozy for winter.

Shane & Steve working on the basement insulation

The finished ceiling

Steve & Shane working on the drywall

The new living area is officially walled off

 Blue jean insulation on the workshop side of the wall

                                                Shane trying out the warm floor. It is great!

In other news...I am going to have to start lifting weights! Kristin's latest ultrasound shows the baby is around 5 pounds 10 ounces and she has 6 weeks to go. She was only 6 lbs. 2 oz. when she was born. Her husband Tim is a tall guy & most of his family is too. She has shared with us the 3-D ultrasound pictures and it is so amazing! Pictures of the baby sucking her thumb. Considering I didn't even know what sex the kids were going to be, it is really something. Hoping the weather will cooperate at Christimas time so they can make the trip to our house. If not, we will head down to the Peoria area to see them. Steve & I are making a cradle for our new granddaughter & better get busy. Time is flying by. She will be here in no time.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Factory Farms & the Plan to Make It Easier

Signs from the demonstration in Madison on December 1st.
Photo by Sara Martinez
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection & the Dairy Business Association (a lobbying group) sign memorandum of understanding.
(Means that there will be a 'cozy' relationship with a lobbying group for factory farms)

I think by now you all know my position on factory farming. There is no benefit from it (except of course it makes "Big Ag" richer).What we need in Wisconsin & all over the country is more controls on the siting process & much more regulation to prevent the polluting that these farms cause. Right now, the Dairy Business Association (DBA), a private organization that represents factory farming in it's lobbying efforts, is trying to push through legislation that rushes the process of permits for CAFO's. This takes away what little local control citizens have left to protect family farms and the air & water quality of the their area. Seems that the DBA has undue access to the Wisconsin government. They were responsible for steering the unfair Livestock Siting Law throught the legislature & also lobbied sucessfully to extend the deadline for CAFO's national air emmisions standards. They are obviously NOT on the side of the citizens of Wisconsin who feel it is their right as living being on this earth to have fresh air to breathe and uncontaminated water to drink. Besides that, do you really think that the products that come from those farms are healthy for you to eat? I read a report that said that 98% of the meat, milk & eggs you buy at a conventional grocery store and that you consume while eating out are from factory farms. It's not that family farms can't produce enough to feed the population, it's that legislation is written to benefit the huge CAFO's. How can smaller farms compete with the unfair advantages that factory farms have? Do your part & eat from local food providers. Know where your food comes from. You will not only be helping the farmer, you will benefit health-wise.

So, there was a Dairy Business Association meeting in Madison on December 1st at the Concourse Hotel. One of the speakers at this meeting was the DNR secretary Matt Frank. A group of concerned citizens demonstrated by picketing outside the hotel. Now you know that the DNR & the DATCP are supposed to be representing the citizens of the state, not big business interests. The DBA insists that it's lobbying efforts help all the state's dairy farmers but in reality it helps fewer than 2%. They seem to be more interested in aggresively helping the huge factory farms which have outside investors who want to place even more CAFO's in Wisconsin. You see, other states have places tougher restrictions on CAFO's due to the environmental disaster they cause. Of course they want to come to Wisconsin. The legislators (along with the DBA) are trying to make it easier. Do the citizens of Wisconsin deserve to be the ones that get the prize of more factory farms with less legislation?
Here is a quote from Matt Urch, a local family farmer, who was demonstrating outside the hotel:
"The DBA is working to make sure that Wisconsin opens its doors to California-style megadairies, even those proposed by absentee investors. If factory farms were the boon to rural communities like the DBA says they are, people would be fighting to bring them in, instead of struggling to keep them out. Our elected officials and the appointed heads of DNR & DATCP need to do what is best for the majority of family farmers and rural nrighbors & stop catereing to a few factory farm operators." Well said Matt.

Here is another quote from Susan Erlandson of Vernon County:
 “Iʼm here today because families and consumers have a right to know that the DBA is encouraging large factory farms in Wisconsin. There is a lot at stake in terms of the environment and the publicʼs health and safety. Itʼs been proven that CAFOs are a threat to water quality with their large manure lagoons and systematic use of sub-therapeutic antibiotics. The DBA promotes questionable practices in agriculture.”  Thanks Susan.

And from Dan Peper:
“I think there are positives that are going on in agriculture, like grass-based farming, and we see examples all over the state. The real issues are not all about size. However, a CAFO that needs a massive manure lagoon just canʼt be a good example of whatʼs new and right in farming.”

So what can you do to stop this from happening where you live? Keep informed & active. Write to your legislators, attend meetings, protest. Believe me, this is not something you want in your back yard.