Friday, December 23, 2011

I will be taking a holiday break for at least the next week so I would like to wish all my readers & friends a happy & safe holiday!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Time to Finish the Drywall

We have been debating how much pine to put on the walls. We finally made a decision & then called a drywall er to finish the walls that will be painted.  What would takes us a couple weeks to do (on weekends), he will get done in a day & a half. So tomorrow morning he'll start. We moved all the furniture to the center of the room & covered it with plastic. We are now hanging out in the "cabin room" (the guest area) for a couple days. There isn't radiant floor heat under this floor, so the wood stove is the only heat source. It is keeping us toasty right now, but we will probably have to stoke it in the middle of the night. We will start to prime the walls in a week or so then paint. I'll share the colors we picked out when we get closer to painting.
Tonight I wrapped all the presents that are either purchased or made so far. This coming weekend is our Christmas celebration with family in Illinois. I still have a couple things to make. That's what I'll be doing when the drywall is being done.
Steve & I decorated the sugar cookies Saturday night after going out to The Driftless Cafe for our anniversary. Number nine!  Doesn't seem possible it has been that long. Seems like yesterday that we where in Maui, standing on the beach at sunset getting married.
It's getting late, I'm off to bed. Have a great week!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Winterizing the Chickens

This weekend we made the coop cozy warm for the chickens. Not over-the-top warm. Just warm enough not to freeze their combs off. This is what we did...

The easy part was placing a water heater under their metal water fount. It is automatically set to go on when the temperature drops below 35 degrees & will keep the water from freezing in temps as low as 10 degrees. So far, the water has only froze once and that was just a layer on top. Of course when there is a  stretch of days below 10 degrees (ugh, hate to think of that), we will have to check the water for icing.
Next, after much research, we bought a thermostatically-controlled outlet (comes on at 35 degrees & goes off at 45 degrees) to which we plugged in a ceramic infrared heat emitter placed in a metal lamp with the protective shield around it & hung it from the coop ceiling. This set-up will keep the chickens from freezing, but will not allow it to get too warm in the coop. We will have to see if the heat lamp will keep the water from freezing.
The coop is so well insulated, that we may have just needed the water fount heater. The chickens give off quite a bit of body heat too. But, since this is our first year of raising chickens, we want to be sure they are all right. I once read a blog that talked about letting her chickens combs freeze like it was no big deal to have to trim off the dead black tips of the comb. I'm sorry, but I won't purposely let an animal suffer if I can help it.
Vinnie supervising Steve with Bubbles looking on.

The rest of the weekend was spent cooking (me) and mudding & sanding the foyer drywall (Steve). We had our Thanksgiving dinner at the farm on Saturday in the midst of the drywall dust floating around. :-) . A decision was made on someone else to finish the small amount of drywall mudding & sanding we have left. It's not that much, but it will get rid of a whole lot of frustration for one fantastic custom woodworker who shouldn't have to do drywall too.

This week, I am visiting family. Love seeing the two granddaughters! I was supposed to leave tomorrow, but couldn't wait any longer, so I hopped in the car this afternoon.
Should post some new pics here this week...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Sun is Peeking Out

Time to bring in the hose. We will be building a roof over the door next spring.

It was snowing again when I got up this morning. This time is was light & fluffy, not the wet, heavy stuff like yesterday. Our area got anywhere from three to five inches yesterday. All the fields are covered except for where the farmers haven't harvested the corn yet. Now the sun is trying to break through and we are having mini avalanches off the roof. We will be working on a entry way roof next spring to protect us from getting buried. :-) The high today is supposed to reach 39.
I waited until about 3pm to let the chickens out yesterday. It is the first time they have been hesitant to come out. I don't blame them. The snow was done but the wind was blowing hard out of the north. Today they came out right away thanks to lots of oatmeal I put on the ground for them. We are down to one egg a day now. I have read that it is the lack of daylight. We have thought about supplemental light, but I'm not sure about that yet. It is time to put out the water heater though & maybe a heat lamp on a timer. Don't want them to freeze or run out of water. Steve insulated the coop well, but since this is the first year we've had chickens, we're not sure how warm it will stay inside the coop.
Huddled under the coop for a little protection from the wind.

I got some sewing done yesterday. Been working on felt food for Jaelyn. I have so many projects to complete before Christmas. How about you?
Little Hayley :-)

Jaelyn, proud of her pumpkin she carved with Daddy.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Waking Up to Snow

Well, we knew it was coming sometime...this was at 6:30am. Supposed to get up to 5" of snow today. It is really blowing out there. Could hardly push the door open on the north side to let Vinnie out. No worries though. No errands to run. I have a day of sewing planned. And Vinnie & Tigger...this is what they will be doing, I imagine.
As for the chickens...I think I'll leave them in the coop until it stops blowing so hard.
The fire is roaring in the wood stove. The tea is brewing in the pot. And the ideas for Christmas presents are forming in my head :-). It is time to get busy. The way the time flies, it'll be Christmas before we know it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A New Look for an Old Clothes Pin Bag

 This is my mom's old clothes pin bag which was in pretty bad shape (besides being an ugly 60's or 70's fabric).
Here is the frame. That is Tigger's paws in the foreground. It took a few minutes of playing with the frame before I could have it back :-).

Here is the finished bag. Now sporting a 1950's print from an old tablecloth. Total time for this project...10 minutes. I've wanted to do this for a couple years. Every time I hung clothes to dry, I thought about it.
Tonight I started working on a pad for Vinnie to lay on by the couch made out of the other half of the down bed topper. While scrounging around in the attic today, I found two slipcovers from chairs that we no longer have. They are tan colored cotton, canvas-like material. Perfect size for the pad, plus a lot of leftover material for other projects. I threw the fabric in the wash & will start sewing tomorrow. You must think I never throw anything out :-). Well, I do throw SOME things out, but usually not fabric. I knew someday I would find a project that needed those chair slipcovers. I'll have to go up in the attic again tomorrow & see what else I can find....

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Snow Flakes...November is Here

Today it was windy, rainy with some big snowflakes mixed in. There is still a little more on it's way but tomorrow should be sunny and in the 50's. I have been going to town & taking walks on nice days. It is helping me get to know the lay of the land. Not that a town of 4000 is that big or confusing. I was taking walks on the county road we live on, but I'm not comfortable with cars flying by at 60 mph.
Here are a few pics from town a couple weeks ago...

There is still food to put by that I haven't got to yet. Tomato juice & paste in the freezer & pantry waiting to be made into pizza & spaghetti sauce. Beans drying on a screen in the attic along with sunflower seeds. A whole huge basket of garlic cloves that were left over from separating them at planting time waits for me to dehydrate them. I did make a garlic concoction last weekend for coughs that used up about a pound of the cloves. You can find the recipe on the blog Clean. It is the one called "Garlic Syrup". It is really tasty. We eat whole cloves daily anyway, but an infusion with apple cider vinegar & honey is a good way to "mix it up" a bit.
There are a lot of sewing projects that need to be started too. Today I finished a bed for Vinnie using what we had available here at the farm.
It is made from an old cloth shower curtain and stuffed with four large couch pillows topped with half a twin size down mattress topper. I did make a huge mess (along with Tigger) when I cut the topper in half. There were feathers flying everywhere. He was chasing them all over the place. I should have stopped to take a picture but instead I grabbed the vacuum before the whole floor was covered. Even Vinnie had feathers on his back. What a mess :-). I pinned the edge together & sewed it right away. Now I have to find something to cover the leftover topper with & Vinnie and Tigger will have another soft spot to lay.
We had more electric work done today. More outside lights & outlets along with more basement outlets. Not too much more to do. Next will be 220 service to the workshop for Steve's tools.
No luck with selling the shop building yet. We are keeping a positive attitude though. It just takes the right person to come along.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Vinnie hurt his back leg again yesterday. Poor old guy. He has a hard time getting up. Hope he heals quickly.

Tigger is growing up so fast. He really likes to go outside & play...

Wood is stacked & ready for winter.

High winds ripped the storm door from it's hinges a couple weeks ago.

This is what happens to foil insulation for the radiant floor heat when Tigger decides he wants to crawl in the basement ceiling.

Milk weed pod at sunset.

Sunset on a day that it hailed twice.

Finished trimming around the garage doors.

Best buddies (most of the time)

Tigger helping Steve fix a light fixture :-)
We have been busy with lots of projects in the last couple weeks. The fall weather has been fantastic but we all know that winter will be here soon. Even though I love being outside as much as possible, I am still looking forward to indoor time. I have a huge list of things I want to get done inside...sewing, preserving, knitting, painting, etc., etc., etc....
Hope you have a great week!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Busy Week of Planting

Yes, it's garlic planting time again. What beautiful weather for it! Every day this week has been sunny & in the high 70's or low 80's. The trees are all changing & maybe when I get done planting, I'll go take some pictures :-). I have added two more varieties this year, so I now have 32. The garlic bed size has increased to accommodate all the cloves I've been popping (separating). The final count should be around 4000 when I am finished. Then I will cover them with straw & hope for the best. There have been a few interruptions to the planting, all animal related. First, yesterday morning, Tigger decided to climb a tree (again) but he couldn't get down. He meowed & cried so I got the ladder & rescued him. Then the chickens decided to free range in the garden & were picking up the garlic cloves and putting them back down. I decided after that to cover them up as I planted, not waiting until the end of the row. And last, I went in the house to take a break, looked out the window & there were 20 cows in our hayfield headed for the garlic bed! The cows escaped from the Amish's pasture down the road (not Eli's this time). Luckily, one of the Amish neighbor boys was outside within ear shot & he along with his older sister, helped me get the cows moving & back into their pasture. If they would have walked into the garlic bed...well, I would have been crying, that's for sure.
Steve & I finished washing all the wood this weekend that we bought from an old barn for our flooring. That is a huge relief. The wood is beautiful, stains & all. We have a list of things to do outside before the weather turns. The garlic was a big one along with the wood and next is re-stacking firewood & getting more. Luckily, our neighbor Jim has plenty to share with us. Steve will work with him, splitting & stacking in exchange for it. There are a few miscellaneous garden chores left to do, like weeding around the blueberries & in the strawberry bed & pulling up wood plant markers.

In chicken news, we have three layers now. The one black hen has been laying for over a month & now the two white hens have started. Three miniature eggs a day! They are earning their keep!
Bubbles (the rooster) has left me alone since the incident in September, but he went after Steve this weekend. It is totally unprovoked. Can't figure it out. I have been letting him see me with food when I let them out in the morning, hoping that he will realize I am not a rooster & attack me. I never turn my back on him, though. Funny how something that size can make you so afraid. :-)
Kristin & Hayley
Last week I had a great time at Kristin & Tim's. Hayley is so sweet. Those cute little cooing noises & sighs. So happy to be able to spend time with her. Jaelyn is doing really well adjusting to her new baby sister. She loves giving her kisses & telling us that baby burped. 

That's all for now. I hope to start blogging more now that it is getting dark earlier & the gardening is winding down. Have a great weekend!
Jaelyn with her present from Hayley. A diaper bag so she can change Abby Caddaby's diaper when
 Mommy is busy. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Welcome Hayley Renae!

She arrived Saturday at 7:35pm. Such a beautiful girl! She looks so much like Jaelyn did at birth. We were so lucky to be able to watch Jaelyn Sunday & Monday until they got home from the hospital. She seems to be adjusting well to her new baby sister.
That's all for now...busy week ahead before I go back to visit them for some more Grandma time!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

And We Have....Two Eggs!

So excited! I went out to the coop tonight and put some scraps from the kitchen in the run & found our first egg! So I opened up the lid to the nesting boxes in back and there was another one!  I know they must have layed them sometime after noon today. Our old neighbors, Bob & Pam stopped by on their way back from MN to visit, and Bob & Steve checked out the nesting boxes & no eggs then.
The middle one is a extra large egg from the store.
So, like Steve says...they are finally earning their keep. Good thing too after Bubbles (the rooster) nailed Steve on the arm when he opened up the coop door this morning.  He seems to be getting more  aggressive lately. Mostly when he is inside the run. The other evening, Tigger (the kitten), wandered into the run while some of the hens were in there. Bubbles cornered him & started pecking him! I rescued him & he is okay, but will keep an eye on Tigger around Bubbles now.  A couple days before that, we had another incident with the chickens. Steve & I were both busy in the yard. We had let Vinnie (the dog) out earlier & while we weren't paying attention, he decided he wanted a chicken dinner. I saw him chasing the hens & Steve & I both went running. Luckily, the one he made contact with got away with only a mouth full of feathers gone. He hid in the woods for a while & then came back out. So we now have animal rules here at the farm. Vinnie is on a leash when the chickens are free-ranging & Tigger isn't allowed near the coop.
Tigger discovered trees yesterday. Steve only has to rescue him once with the ladder. :-)
We have been busy for the last couple weeks here at the farm now that the coop is finished. Two new outside doors installed along with three storm doors. One storm door to go along with some misc. trim work on the outside doors & garage doors. Then it's time to get our woodpile in order. I hate to say it, but they are predicting a frost the middle of the week here.  Hope they are wrong. Lots of tomatoes still on the vine, the beans aren't dry yet, the few pumpkins we have aren't ripe & almost all the cabbage is still in the garden...I'm not ready! We picked apples off one of the trees yesterday & got four five gallon buckets full. I sorted them tonight & two buckets will be for sauce & two for eating. I have already picked quite a few apples and made sauce (canned & frozen) and finally, after wanting to do this for a few years, canned pie filling. My canning shelf is filling up so Steve will be making me some more shelves soon.

We are still on baby watch. Kristin is due on the 14th but we are hoping the full moon (and her many walks) will bring it on. :-) Can't wait to meet our new granddaughter. I had a great visit the last weekend in August. Tim's mom had a luncheon for Kristin that Saturday. It was at a really cute restaurant and the food was great. While I was visiting, I got to see two of her friend's & their little girls. It was fun seeing Jaelyn with the other kids. I think she will be fine with  a new sibling.
Having fun withe the monkey puppet
Kristin's friend Jen, Evie & Jaelyn

Jaelyn playing with her new kitchen from Grandma Lori.

Son Shane is now on his trip out West. He has wanted to do this for years & finally made it happen. The farm was the first stop. It was nice to spend a couple days with him. Next stop was his friend in Minneapolis & they went to the lake that we always go to every summer to fish for a couple days. I talked to him last night & he was an hour from Montana near Theodore Roosevelt State Park. He will be gone for about a month.
Shane & me in front of his Scamp trailer
He has many friends that he is meeting along the way & I'm sure will make many new friends, too. It is a dream fulfilled & I am so happy for him.
Well, that's all for now. I'm still not done crocheting a blanket for the baby and need to get busy. It's hard having a kitten & crocheting at the same time :-)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The New Website is Up

I finally put up a website for garlic sales. I tried doing a blog, but decided after Amy told me about a free website service, to go for it. This is a link to it here. It called Big Red Barn Gourmet Garlic. Like before, I don't have the shipping worked out, but there is a contact page and we can add shipping after you place your order. It is a big relief to have the site up because the time for planting garlic is closing in fast. Check it out. Maybe you would like to try a different kind or two.

On the home front...I have been picking & steam juicing more elderberries. I also have lots of tomatoes coming in so another batch will be juiced tomorrow. Blackberries are coming in very slowly. A few every day. They are huge though.

As most of you know, I rarely relax, but I decided that has to change. Now, the last couple of nights, about an hour before sunset, I have been bringing all the animals outside to play. Mia isn't much for playing, so she sits on the retaining wall & looks around. Tigger is stalking everything in site :-) & Vinnie just likes being outside even though he isn't allowed to walk around too much yet. Tonight, I let the chickens out of the run (Vinnie was on a leash) & let them forage where ever they wanted. The still stayed close to the coop, but I'm sure they will get braver the more they are out there. I can find things to do around here 24 hours a day. I just have to choose not to.

So it is 11pm & I need to relax & go to bed. Another busy day tomorrow.

Monday, August 22, 2011

We had a fun & relaxing (me anyway) weekend. Amy & Rob came up to visit. They always volunteer to help us with projects and we let them. :-). Rob helped Steve build a door for the chicken run and did some landscaping which required moving the dirt pile I hadn't gotten to yet. Thanks Rob! We put up the predator lights on Sunday along with window latches. Still a couple things to do, but isn't there always "one more thing" to do?
Rob & Steve working on the door.
The small black boxes are predator lights.
Amy & I harvested bunches of elderberries which we steam juiced afterward. I didn't get a pic of the elderberries in the steamer, but here are the apples & tomatoes I did earlier. FYI: I was stung by a wasp while we were harvesting, squeezed an elderberry on it, and the sting went away. Never knew it would do that.

We went out to eat at the Driftless Cafe for pizza later & then started a campfire. A few beers, a little wine, good conversation & a zillion stars watched later, it was time for bed.  Sunday morning after breakfast, Steve & I packed up some garlic orders for them to take back.
First canteloupe I've ever grown.

Too soon, it was time for them to head back home. We had a great time & Vinnie & Tigger miss a you guys :-).
I have to say that I am in love with the steamer/juicer I bought. It  is a Mehu-Liisa 10 Liter Stainless Steel Steam Juicer made in Finland. I keep thinking of new things to make in it. So far I've done tomato juice, spiced apple juice and elderberry juice. After juicing the tomatoes & apples, I used the food strainer & made a tomato puree which I added back into the juice for a thicker drink (along with peppers, celery, onion, garlic, etc.) and apple sauce, which I froze. Today, I made another batch of apples & tomorrow I hope to can the applesauce, I will run out of room in the small freezer we have if I don't start canning more. I also picked beets & turnips tonight. The turnips I peeled & sliced to dehydrate and the beets I will can in the morning along with the applesauce.
In between all that, I am still working on the website for garlic sales and trying to finish a baby afghan while a energetic kitten is playing with the yarn :-). Vinnie is still limping. He is a little better, but not much. He hop/walks now. We are keeping him inside as much as possible to rest.
Handsome boy Vinnie.
The chickens have adjusted well to the coop & run. They put themselves to bed after sunset. We haven't let them roam outside the run much yet. Vinnie is too interested in them & we don't want to risk a confrontation. Tigger has run inside the run, but they ignore him for the most part. They are used to seeing both Vinnie & Tigger and aren't scared. Can't wait to see the first egg which should be around September or October.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chicken Update

The coop is almost done
A few more finishing touches and it's complete. We put up the outdoor run on Sunday with the help of our neighbor Jim. We still need to make a door and put up the solar predator lights & solar motion detector spotlight and I think that's it. Tonight the chickens moved to their new home...
Settling in. This is as clean as it will ever look :-)
Looking through the other door with the hanging waterer & feeder.
Bubbles (the rooster) was the first one in tonight. We had a trial run on Sunday night to see if he could figure out the ramp which was pretty funny. Not how he reacted to the ramp. It was how he followed me back into the barn. He is just like a dog :-) He follows me everywhere. So tonight, I just put him down in the grass & he walked behind me to the coop. I locked him in & got the girls. I carried them. Wasn't sure if they would follow me & I needed to get other things done before sunset. They all settled in quickly. Tomorrow I'll let them out & see how they handle the great outdoors. I will leave Vinnie & Tigger in the house. Not sure what their reaction would be to the chickens walking around the yard. Tigger is so playful I'm afraid he'd get pecked at by Bubbles. Vinnie went & sat down by the coop as soon as I let him out so I think he will protect them.
Speaking of Vinnie...he hurt himself on Friday afternoon. The vet said his knee is injured. He started to run & must have twisted it. Poor guy. He already has a bum leg so now he is kind of hopping. He is on pain meds & arnica & is supposed to be resting. Hope he gets better soon. He is my shadow most of the time & I hate to leave him inside.
Big barn...little coop

Going down our driveway with the thrasher
The Amish have been thrashing the oats for the last couple weeks. They brought this McCormick-Deering thrasher up to Eli & Lizzie's last week to do theirs. The horses in the back were used to "brake" the machine as it went down the hill. It's like living in the 30's or 40's around here sometimes :-).
Beautiful pine after the grime is removed.

Last week I started to work on the pine boards for the floor. The wood looks great under all that dirt. It does take time to do each board, but it will be worth it in the end. I have about half done now. I need to work on them when there is no chance of rain. Tomorrow I'll have to find another project to work on, which I have many. Taking the indoor chicken cage down is one of them along with playing with my new "toy", a steam juicer. It is almost time for the elderberry harvest. The steamer should make it so much easier.
Another thing I did last week was buy six dozen ears of corn from the Amish down the road.
Part of the corn I preserved.
That was a lot of work! I will not be doing any more this year. I tried both ways. First, I blanched the whole ear & cut it off. Then I tried cutting it off first, before blanching. Both ways have their drawbacks. I chose to freeze not can the corn. Mainly because I have yet to use the pressure canner I got a couple years ago. I will be trying it this year though. I promise (to quit being a chicken about using it).
Some of you might have noticed that I started a new blog about the garlic we grow. I have set up a way to order the garlic, but haven't figured out the shipping yet. It is after 11pm so I gave up researching PayPal for the night. Hopefully, I can figure it out soon. I'll let you know :-)
Have a great week!