Sunday, January 30, 2011

Amy & Steve cross country skiing
Me wearing the new snowshoes
We are driving home from the farm after having a great weekend with daughter Amy. She took off from work on Friday so we could drive up together. We spent Friday night relaxing in front of the fire after a meal of ravioli, garlic sourdough bread & corn. It really hits the spot to have a warm meal while waiting for the barn to warm up from 40 degrees. We keep the radiant floor heat at the lowest setting the thermostat will go  while we're not there, which is 40. Takes a few hours to bring the temp up to a comfortable level.

Saturday morning after breakfast, we got on our skis (Steve & Amy) and snowshoes (me) and headed outdoors. The sky was a dull gray and it looked like it could snow, but it didn’t. Both Brutus (Jim & Nancy’s dog) and Shep (soon to be our dog), ran along with us. Both the dogs & we were worn out by the time we quit for lunch. After lunch & some relaxing reading time, Steve & Amy went back out to ski & I went up to visit Lizzie. We had a good talk. The oldest girls showed me the quilts they are working on which are beautiful. When I got ready to leave, Lizzie followed me onto the porch to talk. She doesn’t want to talk about the pregnancy in front of the kids. I gave her some dietary advice for gestational diabetes. She only tests sometimes and with the urine strips. She said she only had three left, so we bought her more in town when we went to eat dinner. I left them on the porch today while we were outside & they were at church. I know that she would try to pay me and I didn’t want her too.

Shep playing in the snow  
After dinner at The Driftless Café, we walked over to Parrish Music store for a concert by fingerstyle guitarist Eric Lugosch. It was great music and I talked to Catherine, one of the owners. They also came to Viroqua from Illinois about five years ago. Steve is interested in taking guitar lessons there when he is up here full time. I am still thinking about fiddle lessons, too.
This morning Shep was waiting outside on the steps for us. He followed us around the whole time and hung out until the neighbors got home from church about 2:30. He is such a good dog. I can’t wait until he is ours. I know how hard it will be to train him, but I know it can be done. He is used to running around outside all day & night. I’m sure he’s not housebroken and know it will be a while until I can get him comfortable coming in the house. I also know that he will “disappear” when they get another dog if we don’t take him & they are ready for a “seeing” dog.
First thing this morning, Kristin texted me & let me know a snow storm was predicted for Tuesday. Fifteen to eighteen inches of blowing snow. I am supposed to drive down that day to see them & stay for the week while Steve is on a Utah ski trip. My drive has now been moved to Monday. Things will be hectic tomorrow morning to get things done at work (like payroll & bill paying) before I go. Steve will have to take Mia to my sister’s house Tuesday morning before he goes to the airport. I hope his flight isn't delayed. I am looking forward to spending time with everyone for the whole week. They are keeping Jaelyn home from daycare for me. I may be shoveling during her naps :-).

I ordered most of my seeds last week. Most of them from Seed Savers Exchange and some from Peaceful Valley and  Territorial Seed Company. I hope starting them the first part of April will be early enough. I look forward to doing that for the first time at the farm. There will be many “firsts” this year.  To be able to be in the garden every day is already a comfort just thinking about it. A garden of neglect is what we’ve had for three years. I also feel like I will have to limit my internet time when I am up there all the time. It is too easy to be connected and lose track of time. I have so many hobbies & things I want to get done, that I can’t let myself be sucked in by the great world wide web. Of course there will always be time to "Skype” with the family and write the blog posts. One of the things that I believe that I will benefit from is eliminating the driving stress every weekend.  It takes a long time for me to wind down on Sundays after our drive home. I am hoping that my system will appreciate the much needed reprieve from eight and a half hours of driving each weekend. Just wish that Steve didn't have to.
To everyone in the path of the snowstorm, be safe. Stay warm. And go play in the snow!

Amy playing with Shep
Eric playing some great guitar.
A monotone day

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday at the Farm

The sun is setting here at the farm as Steve is cross county skiing around the property. It is COLD outside! I am sitting here in front of the fire all toasty with Mia. Eli just left. He brought over some butter for us and we caught up with our lives since the last time we talked. Lizzie is doing fine & just recently had a check up from the mid-wife. She is due mid-April. Number twelve. We are all hopeful that there is no repeat of the last pregnancy problems.
Earlier today, we had someone come over to do bodywork on  me. I don't know the name of what he does, but it is magic. He describes it as working on the nervous system. It is a very light touch (not a massage) and the muscles relax. I have always had terrible posture. I mean since I was at least three and in one session, I am standing up as straight as I ever have. Since the accident, the stress has hidden in my muscles (hip neck, back, etc). What he did, freed that tension. Steve was amazed. He said he's never seen me with good posture before & honestly, neither have I! We talked about how the body holds on to what it has known and adapted to so there might be times when I regress back, but it is a process that eventually my body will be comfortable not holding in all that stress. Steve was ready to hop on the massage table too :-). If Harry would have had the time today, Steve would have had him work on him, too. So in a couple weeks, he is coming back for both of us.

We went to town for lunch after that and ate at The Driftless Cafe. We actually tried something besides pizza this time. Steve had a veggie quiche and I had a veggie panini. Both were excellent. While we were eating, I mentioned the animal shelter in town & how I would like to volunteer there when we move here. I have also been looking on lately at the cats & dogs :-). So we went to check it out. I really like two of the cats we saw. One is a gray tabby & the other is black & white.

Wonder how long they will be at the shelter......

Eli mentioned that they are thinking of getting another dog & since we said we would like their dog Shep if they ever wanted to get rid of him...well, we'll see if that works out. :-). Shep is a great dog. He is almost blind though, which is fine with us (our dog Ginger was blind & deaf) and he is so friendly. He is not an inside dog, but maybe we could teach him to be. (Mia says that's okay. Leave him outside.") Does anyone have experience with bringing an outside dog inside?

So there is a plan in the works for me to move up to the farm soon. As much as I want to, I still have mixed feelings about it. Steve & I are together 24-7 now. It would be different.  We both love it up here so much...maybe the shop will sell quickly and it won't be for very long.
Mia in her usual position.
Well, Steve's back in & it's time for dinner...have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Getting an Order Ready

Today, I sat down & worked on an order for the farm. While doing that, I decided to make a master list of all the trees, bushes and perennials we've planted since we bought the farm. I feel like I am a little more organized now :-).  So before I tell you what I am ordering, I'll share the list of things already planted.

The first year was 2007. It was a planning year, walking around, deciding what to do and working on the major challenges we faced (landscaping, well, septic, electric & plumbing) as well as deciding what the layout of the house would be. In the spring of 2008, we planted the garden (almost the size of a football field) and started planting our edibles. Edibles? Yes, almost everything we plant is or will be edible. This is a permaculture principle. Here is the list...

Antanovka Apple root stock 25
Montmorency Cherry trees 5
Luscious Pear trees 5
Korean Pine Nut trees 25
Common Purple Lilac 10
American Cranberry Bush 10
Nanking Cherry 10
Rugosa Roses bushes 10 (rose hips)
   Chippewa 8
   North Country 8
   Polaris 8
Jerusalem Artichokes
Rhubarb (didn't live)
Many herbs

Hazelnuts 100
Chestnuts 10
Black Alder 2 (non-edible but great for coppicing)
Sugar Maples 10 (someday, probably not in our lifetime, maple syrup)
Staghorn Sumac 3 -lemonade-type drink from the crushed fruit
Red Osier Dogwood 10 (decorative)
Northern Gold Forsythia 2 (decorative)
    Northeaster 25
    Jewel 25
    Annapolis 25
    Ozark 25 (everbearing)
   Boyne 6
   Autumn Bliss 6
Illini Blackberries 6
Jostaberry 2
Pixwell Gooseberry 4
Paw Paw 3
Russian Olive 4
Siberian Pea Shrub 4
Aronia 10

That brings me to this year's order (so far)
Polaris Blueberry 12 (the best producer in comparison to the others I planted)
Rhubarb-Canada Red & Victoria. 1 each
Sea Buckthorn-Leikora  1
Sea Buckthorn-Male 1
Aromatnaya Quince 1
Ligonberry 3
Current-Red Lake Red Current 1 & Ben Sarek Black Current 1
Kiwi (the ones I ordered last year didn't make it into the ground)

There are other plants & trees I will be ordering or propagating too. I would love some willow trees and poplar for coppicing, osage orange for fence lines, ground covers for areas we do not want to mow anymore and hostas for our very shady north side of the barn. If I could figure out an edible for the north side, that would be great. Any ideas?
We are also thinking about ordering more hazelnut bushes. We would consider that one of our cash crops in a few years along with the garlic. Oh, and more apple scions to graft this spring.

Enough about I need to figure out the seed order :-)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Happy Birthday Jaelyn!

Today Jaelyn is one! Time has flown by. Last year at this time, we were in the waiting room at the hospital and at 10pm, Jaelyn was born. Yesterday, we drove down to their house for the birthday party with daughter Amy & son-in-law Rob. Before we left, Kristin called to say Jaelyn had a fever &  they decided to take her to the doctor. The doctor said it was a virus. They called everyone with kids & told them but everyone ended up bring their kids anyway. She took a long nap & was much better and ended up having a great time at her party. She is cutting teeth and had a high fever the last time one popped through. Sure enough, tooth number six came through today. Here are some pics from the party....

We are so blessed to have such a sweet granddaughter and a wonderful family. It's hard to describe the joy we feel. Thank you Kristin & Tim for bringing us such happiness.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Jaelyn's Longies

This is the jacket (sleeves are cut off) I used to make the longies.

The finished pants. (Sorry, I can't get the picture turned the right way.)
They are really easy to make. I have been saving some felted wool sweaters to make more. We'll try them on Jaelyn Saturday when we are at their house for the birthday party to make sure they fit. Then I can make her a few more pair & maybe put some cute appliques on them.
It's snowing here now. Doesn't look like it will amount to much though. I was planning on taking the Mini Cooper to CarMax today for an appraisal & see what they will offer us, but we'll see how the roads are later. No, we haven't sold it yet. We put it on Auto Trader and Craigslist, but only one person has looked at it. Not a good time of year to be selling a car, I guess. Luckily, we don't have to be in a hurry.

I read this article yesterday that interviews the writer of a book I just bought called Sloviva (also the name of her farm). I haven't had a chance to read the book yet, but I did read the article. It is fantastic what she is doing with passive solar and chicken heat, Yes, I said chicken heat :-). I'll leave you with that thought...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Today I ordered a couple of things. These two things will help us on our ever-evolving path to sustainability. The first is this...

It is a automatic opener for the cold frame we'll be building this winter for our early spring lettuces & new seedlings. It is temperature sensitive and can be set to open when the temps inside the box get to anywhere from 60-70 degrees. I bought it from Johnny's Selected Seeds. I have been looking at these for a long, long time. We've had a cold frame before, but they do get very hot inside without ventalation. I get more joy out of buying this than I ever get from buying clothes :-). It will be used all next winter too if everything goes as planned. (That is, if we are living at the farm)

The second thing I ordered is this...
These are Tattler canning lids. Reuseable lids that are BPA-free! They should last a lifetime & if they don't, replacement is FREE! One more good thing about them is that they are made in the USA. Here is a link to their website. Of course I have many other wants & needs on my list that always seems to be growing. I would like to make a hoop house this year and would love to have a "Quick Hoops" bender also available at Johnny's. It is fun to dream a little :-).

Work-wise today...I still haven't figured out the payroll setup in Quickbooks. My ability to follow instructions is limited (since the accident) so I get frustrated VERY easily. Looks like Steve will be taking a look at it  tomorrow.

Tonight I decided I will work on a pair of "longies" for Jaelyn. Longies are warm little pants for sweet babies. :-) Here is the tutorial I am using to figure it out. I am using a velour-type material  (sleeves cut from a re-purposed jogging suit top) to make them. My first time for this project, but it doesn't seem too hard.  Sewing is something I "never" ask Steve to help with :-).
Hope you all have a great night!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Am I Naive? have you  "Googled" yourself lately all my fellow bloggers? I did the other day & was surprised that my blog came up as the first hit. Why was I surprised? I guess I thought that since I don't reveal my identity in the blog posts or profile, that it was private information. Not that I have anything to hide....but I have always thought that your name was more concealed than that. Hmmm. Try it & let me know if you find the same thing. I post on blogger. I wonder if this is an issue on other blog host sites like Word Press, etc.?

In other is a picture of the medicine cabinet & mirror that we installed this weekend. Also the new color & light fixture in the bathroom.

Still need to buy a matching knob for the medicine cabinet & another LED bulb for the light fixture.

Steve has now caught my cold & is feeling pretty miserable. He was in the city most of the day measuring a job. We just got through watching an episode of "Northern Exposure" and now he is in bed. Sleep will help (and dreaming of running away to Alaska :-),  I'm sure.

I spend the day setting up payroll in Quickbooks. Still not done. We have always had the accountant do payroll, but are trying to save $$ by doing it ourselves now. Tomorrow I will call Quickbooks to get answers to a few question & then it should be all set.

Tonight before we watched Northern Exposure, I exercised a bit. Now that I can breathe again, I have some energy :-). Steve started working out last week (to get ready for ski season) and I am working out for gardening season :-). (well, biking season, too).

Well, I have to get some sleep if I am to be on the phone to India tomorrow. Yes...that's where the calls end up for customer service. Hope you all have a good night!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Amish Church This Morning

Last night about eight, Eli came over & asked if we could call the township supervisor. You see, the driveway is icy on the hill going up to their house & they are having church today. Steve & I both told him being a holiday and all and a Sunday the next day, chances were slim that they would come out and put sand down. (plus we really didn't want to interrupt the man's evening, especially on a holiday.) But he was pretty insistent, so we called. Well, the supervisor was a little miffed at first, but he was understanding by the end of the call. He said no one would be able to come out, but there were piles of sand and salt at the township office that Eli was welcome to use. The township will plow the driveway if there is a lot of snow, but sanding & salting might be a bit over the top to ask for on a private driveway :-)
Eli decided that he would use a pick early the next morning (today) and see if he could at least make it easier for the horses to get up the drive. Steve offered to help him, so that's what they were doing at 8am this morning with a temperature of 2 degrees and  -11 windchill.
Steve & Eli chopping up ice.

 All the buggies made it up the driveway this morning with only one stumbling. Whew! I hate to see the horses or the people get hurt.
We lost count at thirteen buggies this morning.
Eli & Lizzie's.
One of the things we wanted to get done, but ran out of time this fall was to install a new door to the outside workshop entrance. This is why...
Frost on the inside of the workshop door.
The workshop area is the only area that doesn't have heat on the main floor. Our new area has radiant floor heat & the wood stove. The "cabin" room has a wood stove. We walk through the unheated part in the middle to get back & forth. Brrrr. When Steve gets the workshop set up, we will be insulating the floor. We will also eventually opening up the wall more between the "cabin" room & the work shop to let in the heat.

We have been working on the bathroom this weekend. The new medicine cabinet & mirror are in and Steve is working on the lights right now. The walls are painted a pretty, minty green. We are going to leave the floor "rustic" for now. I painted it some time ago as a temporary thing, but we kinda like it that way. It is a tan milk paint and I am thinking about adding a border around it and some decorative touches. At home, I'll be making some curtain rod holders on the band saw and I will probably make a rod from a stick from one of our trees. We brought some white trim for around the ceiling that was left over from a job Steve did and we'll put that up this weekend too. We won't be going back until Monday afternoon. We will order some beadboard that we'll put on the bottom part of the walls, make some trim for the door, window & base, paint the inside of the door white to match the trim and I think we'll be done. :-).

Last night we video chatted with Kristin & Jaelyn. It was so fun to see them while talking. We ended up downloading Skype & it worked much better than Windows Live Messenger. We look forward to doing more of that.

I started reading "The Resilient Gardener. Food Production & Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times" by Carol Deppe this weekend. I recommend it. If everyone with a yard would take the steps in this book, it would increase their security in hard times. The way things are going in the world now days, I think everyone should do something to become self-reliant, especially where food is concerned.