Saturday, April 24, 2010

Welcome Rain at the Farm

We drove up yesterday afternoon after having lunch with Steve's dad. Rain was in the forecast but we just got sprinkled on. We brought a van full of stuff from the attic at home. It is exciting to be moving stuff from the town home to here. Next week we will begin packing up garage stuff and the rest of the boxes in the attic and bring up another load. The buyer's bank called to let us know that the appraiser will be calling us next week to set up a time to come over. The sooner the better :-). When the appraisal is done, we can start moving some of the furniture to the farm. The closing is set for June 10th. Next weekend is the last weekend we will be up here for a while. Since it rained so much today, I didn't get the chance to mow and it is long after a 2 week absence. Tomorrows forecast is rain, too. My gooseberry & jostaberry trees were delivered on Thursday but they will have to wait until next weekend to be planted, I'm afraid.
So today we built a shelf in the basement out of lumber we had here to hold some of the boxes we are bringing up. Next week we will probably build another one for the garage items.

We are starting to try to keep things organized. I am going up in the attic tomorrow to categorize the piles of boxes so I can find things more easily. We will be moving almost everything from the town home here, so it needs to be in some order.

Tonight we walked over to Eli & Lizzie's to get some eggs. The boys were shoeing a horse, the baby sheep were running around in the pasture and the new calf was peaking out of the barn. Everyone seemed to be healthy. We stayed & talked until a visitor (Lizzie's brother) arrived from Ohio.

Last Sunday, I headed down to visit Kristin, Tim & Jaelyn and stayed until Tuesday afternoon. I just love being there! I got to watch Jaelyn all day Monday while Kristin & Tim went to work. Kristin's day off is Tuesday, so we got a chance to hang out too. Jaelyn is so sweet. She loves seeing herself in the mirror now. She smiles & makes noises like she is talking.

I had to get back home by Wednesday morning for the home inspection. Everything went pretty well. We did find out that the central air unit wasn't grounded. Wish our inspector had found that when we bought. We had it fixed by Thursday morning at a cost of $80. The only other thing (that I heard about so far) is having CO2 detectors installed. It is a new law as of 2008. Not sure if we will have to do that or if the buyer will do it. Haven't got the final report back yet.

So things are moving along. June will be here before we know it. With a baptism and two weddings before we move, seems like every moment has to be productive. We have three weekends free to finish moving. What a rush!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Farm Weekend

Thought I would finally get around to writing about the weekend. We have been so busy this week with the contract for our house sale. It is finally all set. Everything is signed & initialed, earnest money is in our lawyer's hands. We have been going back & forth all week. Yesterday, their realtor came over and said that they were worried about the appraisal. What if it didn't appraise for what they were buying it for. So I got out our appraisal from the re-finance in March and showed her. She said it probably wouldn't be a problem (condsidering they are getting it for well below appraised value) but she wanted to know if we would go down lower in price if there was a problem. I told her we had it for sale by owner so we wouldn't have to pay a realtor fee & it was her fee that was making it impossible for us to go any lower. Just a note here...if you see a "For Sale By Owner" sign and you are in the market for a house, don't use a realtor to look at it. It will give you a chance to get a much better price. Anyway, she left with the contract, said she would talk to them, came back a little later & said it was fine the way it was. The guy really really likes our townhome. So if for some reason it doesn't appraise for what they are buying it for, the deal is off and it just wasn't meant to be. Next Friday is the home inspection & hopefully soon after that is the appraisal. Really don't want to think about it any more :-)
So Saturday at the farm...I was up at sunrise. Would have rather slept in a little, but tell my mind that. LOL. Went out & took a couple pictures of the sun coming up behind Eli's property.
After breakfast, we started drywalling. I wanted to mud in the bathroom and Steve hung some smaller pieces in the foyer. Did you know that mudding drywall is not like cake decorating? I used to decorate cakes when the kids were little to make money while staying home. Drywall mud is kind of like frosting consistancy. The first seam started out kind of easy but it went downhill from there. The screw hole mudding looks great. The seams, well we might be covering the ceiling with texture paint. It was just the first coat but I am not looking forward to doing any more. Our plans are to have wainscotting on the walls so only half the wall will show and that's a good thing :-). Yes,  we have the whole rest of the house to do, but the walls will be all pine. I see no reason to do any mudding on the walls if they will be covered up anyway. Steve was talking about mudding them. He might be doing that alone then :-).
Mark Shepard called in the early afternoon to let us know we could pick up our apple tree scions. We made the trip out to the New Forest Farm and had a good time catching up. We also got to see his wind turbine that is just awesome. He gave us a taste of an apple beer he's been brewing. It was better than my favorite beer, Woodchuck.
                    On the way to Mark's we saw this male pheasant trying to chase down a female.
Neighbor Jim tilling the garden.

After dinner, we went to a concert at Green Man Music Hall in town. A lone guitarist named Josh. He was really good and drew a fair crowd. Usually when we go to a concert there, there are only a few people in the audience. It is a shame, cause we've seen a lot of good performers. Make you feel sorry for them, playing to only a few people. When we got home, we toasted the sale of the townhome and went to bed.
Sunday, I was awake again at dawn. We were out grafting the apple trees by 10. We did nineteen trees. I put up fencing around the three I didn't have time to finish in the fall. Now they are all protected from birds landing on the new grafts and breaking them off. That's what we think happened last year.
After we were done, I started to mow. Can't believe we are already starting that. It is early in the season for us. It was a beautiful, warm day. Steve finished up more drywall and we packed up and got on the road.
This weekend is my niece's bridal shower on Sunday and then I drive down to see Kristin, Tim & Jaelyn. I am staying until Tuesday night and get to watch Jaelyn all day Monday and Krisitn is off on Tuesday. Very excited about that. Then home Wednesday for some intensive packing. The closing is now set for June 10th.Time is flying...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Guess What?

We have a contract! Nine days after putting up the "For Sale By Owner" sign, we have a buyer. The buyer and his mom, JR & Mary, made an offer on Wednesday. Then we went back & forth with counter offers and made the deal today at noon. What a relief this is. One property down, one to go. Someday we will move to the farm :-). The closing can be as far out as June 30th, but he is anxious, so we will see what we can do. I am very excited! A little closer to the dream...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

New Tree Order Today

Woke up to a dark sky this morning. Grabbed the laptop after I heard thunder & checked out the radar. It looked like it could be a bad storm, lots of orange on the screen but it ended up being mostly rain. We do need the rain. It has been dryer than normal here. Last night in Illinois, a few places got baseball size hail. Wow! Can't imagine how that sounded! Hope everyone recovers quickly from the damage that caused.
Hoping to hear back from the realtor one way or another this week about the showing yesterday. Steve & I have been talking about what to do if it sells. Of course "move" :-), but where until the shop building sells. The most logical thing to do would be find a one bedroom close to the shop. There is also a chance we could live at the shop. There is an extra room that we use for storage & a kitchen area. Would need to put in a shower though. The money we would save by doing that would be a great help toward working on the barn. No, it wouldn't be the most fun thing to do & I would have to keep Steve from working 24 hours a day, but it is a possibility.

Here is the order I am putting in today...
Aronia 10
Siberian Pea Shrub 4
Russian Olive 4
Paw Paw 4
Kiwi 3
Gooseberry 4
Jostaberry 2

The more fruit the better as it is a huge part of our diet. Most people think the kiwi is only grown in the tropics. Ahhh, not so. It grows in zones 4-9, so a good fit for our farm. Kiwi have 20 times more Vitamin C than most citris fruits and almost as much potassium as a banana.
Paw paws are zone 4-8 and are said to taste like banana custard. I've never ate one, so I'll take their word for it. They can weigh up to a half a pound per fruit. It has very high protein, Vitamin A & C.
Gooseberries are zones 3-8 and make delicious pies & preserves and should bear after the first year.
Jostaberries are a combination of currant & gooseberry, grown in zones 3-8. They are loaded with Vitamin C & are resistant to most major pests.
Aronia (Nero) has up to 10 times the antioxidants as other berries and is rich in Vitamin C. Can be planted in zones 3-8. It is also called the chokeberry.
That's it for ordering plants this year. I will still be buying seedlings like tomatoes, peppers, etc. since I can't start my own this year due to the house being on the market.

I bought a new book that came yesterday. It is "From Asparagus to Zucchini" by the Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition. (MACSAC). It has some great recipes that I can't wait to try when the garden starts producing.
That's all for today. I need to get to work...
Last year the plants I started in the south facing dining room.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Showing Went Well & Farm Stuff

I cleaned most of the morning for a half-hour showing, but it went well. The realtor lives in my neighborhood & so does the mom of the prospective buyer. The son likes our model the best out of about four different ones. We are very competitive and the $8,000 incentive ends this month, so we are hoping for a sale. If not, we'll keep plugging away.

This weekend we had all kinds of weather packed in three days. Rain, wind, sun, clouds, more rain on the drive home. I did get some outside time in on Saturday & Sunday. Took a long walk & checked out the apple trees, hazelnuts, blueberries, etc. Found out we lost four hazelnuts. They were bent over & out of the ground. We still have 96 left though :-). Our neighbor Jim came over & let us know he will till the garden asap. It is early yet, but he is going to till at least twice, the second time to kill any weeds that pop up. I still would like to go no-till, but that's not in the plans now until we get up there full time. So if he gets it tilled, I might be planting hull-less oats next weekend. We also hope to get our apple scions picked up to graft too. The following weekend, we will be busy with a bridal show & the kitchen & bath show in Chicago.

I went through more gardening catalogs and have decided on my order this year for bushes. I'll post that after I finalize tomorrow. I bought some onion sets (red & yellow) at the co-op in town yesterday. This nice weather is getting to me. Need to be planting soon :-)

The green home show in town Saturday was nice. We reconnected with a couple people & met a few new people from the area. Everyone it seems had looked at our propety before we bought it. We knew it had a lot of showings. Everyone is excited about it & wants to see what we did with it.

I think I will go back home now & enjoy the clean house while it lasts.
Steve, finishing the bedroom drywall.
The sky was beautiful on Saturday
Garlic is growing tall with all the warm weather

                                            Shep (border collie) & Brutus (rottweiler mix) visiting.

A House Showing Today

We finally have one! Someone coming to look at our townhome at noon today. We put it up for sale by owner last week. That way we have more "wiggle room" with the price. A realtor saw the sign, called and asked if she could show it. We worked out the commision thing, and it was doable. So I am staying home this morning cleaning.
The looker is a first-time home buyer who is bringing his mom with on the showing. I assume they will also be looking at the many other properties for sale in our subdivision too. But, we liked this one the best after looking at about five other units, so maybe he will too. It backs up to a wooded area with a walking/biking path, ponds and a creek.
Have to get busy now...I'll write about the weekend at the farm later...

Friday, April 2, 2010

Beautiful Weather and Then....

We got to the farm. Right before the storm hit. Really, it wasn't much of a storm. A little lightening, some thunder and a lot of rain. It is now 57 degrees and still raining. I had plans of a leisurely walk around the property, examining all the plantings. Oh well, there is always tomorrow :-). Supposed to be sunny & sixty. I'll take that. Steve plans to install an exterior door & then we will be going to a "green building fair" in town for a while. Somewhere in there, we will be drywalling, too. Right now, we are going to our favorite place "The Driftless Cafe" in Viroqua.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

It's April & Getting Closer to Gardening Time!

I'm getting excited about starting in the garden soon. The weather here in Illinois has been beautiful the last few days and it really brings on thoughts of the warm earth sifting through my fingers, the smells of dirt and permanently dirty finger nails. We will be heading to the farm tomorrow morning for a three day weekend. I will get outside and check the orchard, the hazelnut seedlings and the blueberry bushes for any deer or rodent damage. Next weekend, I'm hoping to graft scions to about 20 apple trees if the weather cooperates.
I also need to get planning the garden. I am thinking of planting organic hull-less oats this spring on my existing football-field size garden and starting a new garden behind it. After the oats are done, I want to plant a cover crop like winter rye. The Amish used the same garden spot for four years before we bought the farm and we have used it for three so I think it needs a rest and rejuvenaton :-). A smaller garden would fit in better this year. We have so much to do on the inside of the barn, and weekends we won't be there for showers, weddings, christenings and vacation in Minnesota so I don't think I can handle that big of a garden this year. I am going to try to get there during the week on the weekends we have something else going on but it won't be that easy to do. I would like to get to the point of feeding ourselves mostly from the garden (easier for us being vegetarians), but I know that would be difficult since we don't live there full-time. So many ideas for up there, but so little time.

I was looking at pictures from last year this time at the farm and found that it was around that time that we found out about the possible factory farm locating around us. I remember it so clearly. The horror of the situation. The fight is far from over, but organizations in the area are trying to stop the government from making it easier to site the CAFOs, Seems like a no-brainer right? Water, ground and air pollution caused by CAFOs, bad. Actually enforcing our right to clean air, water & land, good. Oh well. As you know, I could go on & on about it.

Steve was looking at the Madison area paper, Isthmus the other night & saw an ad for Gulland Forge. He makes a garden tool called the broadfork. What a great tool for loosening up the soil. His shop is on the way up to the farm (in Black Earth) and we are thinking of purchasing one.  I have read about them in Elliot Coleman's books and have wanted one ever since. He has video links on his website on how to use one. When we live at the farm full time, I plan to do a no-till garden and this will help immensely. What a great thing, to find someone who makes and sells them locally. Here is the website...
And here is his blog...

If you get the chance, check out the links on Angie's blog 3 Flat Acres. The University of Illinois has free webinars on their site covering topics for organic growing.

Well, I need to get outside. I'm at work but I have a cordless phone and a comfy chair to sit it. The benefits of having your own business :-). Last night I started reading "Dreaming the Biosphere. The Theater of All Possibilities" by Rebecca Reider, so I will be relaxing out in the sun and reading a good book.
Enjoy the day!