June 11, 2012

we’re moving…

…and in more ways than one.  i’ve moved my blog to a new site!

we’re still working through some technical issues.  if the link doesn’t take you to the site please let me know.  facebook and i are not communicating very well at the moment, my first attempt at posting the link was removed (it’s offensive and abusive?? really???  ollie wanted to sit on the chair and wear that hat) , and i can’t get the blog and facebook to communicate without some fancy app, the installation of which is way over my head.

anyhoo all that being said.  i hope you enjoy it, and will continue to follow along. :)

June 5, 2012

we’re progressing

last week the garage barn shell was completed.  we have yet to pour the cement floor, install electricity and the overhead doors.  we added two doors so that one can drive straight through and access the back of the property without  having to drive around the garage.

here’s a picture of the back:

i’m showing you  the back because it is prettier.  the building debris in front had not been cleaned up yet.  i love how the red and green color scheme turned out.

this morning i got up at (what is for me) the crack of dawn and headed out first thing to tuesday morning’s luxury linen sale.  i was there and back within an hour.  on the way there it dawned on me that this is probably the last of “last minute” trips that i will be able to make.   when a trip to town takes 40 min. shopping will have to be planned a little more carefully.  i know, 40 min. isn’t that monumental of a trip but when you are used to dashing out to a place just down the street, it will be an adjustment.

one of several i am sure.

like the cow that held up “traffic” (all of three cars) down the street from our new place.  we encountered him, and the poor owner? rancher? farmer? (what does one call a man with cows?) on horseback trying to wrangle him back into the pen.   all three cars stopped and all drivers and passengers (except for us, we don’t know what to do with cows) got out to help the owner? rancher? farmer? a  most interesting experience.

today, we’ve been informed by the builder that we should be officially breaking ground on the house and from here on out things should go pretty quickly.  one thing that has had me stressed out and concerned is the electricity.  we will be serviced by a co-op that services all the other rural towns in our area.  i don’t know if it is because we are so far off the beaten path,  if it is because it is a co-op,  if this is how things are done in the country, or if this is just how things go when one builds and i don’t know that because i’ve never built before ~ but this has been a pain in the neck.

*the builder wants electricity from the get-go

*the company won’t set poles, even temporary ones until they are sure we’re building a house.  proof of our intent to build needs to be the footing poured and the plumbing stubbed out.  the fact that i told them we’re building and have a contract to prove it doesn’t work.  i tried.  many times.

*builder isn’t too happy about this arrangement

*this might not be too much of a problem except that we are building a pole barn and it will be framed out before the foundation is laid.  the builder wants electricity for this step and doesn’t have a generator.

*i am “caught” between the builder and the electrical engineer sending messages “he says he wants….” containing terminology i know nothing about.

*i feel stressed.  it didn’t occur to me until my husband suggested it, that i google some of this stuff so i could better understand and communicate.

and then, i’m laying awake at night reviewing the floor plan that i designed and just hoping that all will go well.  is my idea for the kitchen going to work?  did i account for enough closet space?  will our dresser fit between the french door and the window?  did i remember to tell the builder that i wanted a french door?  is he going to get annoyed if i call and tell him i want a french door and room for my dresser?  what if the dresser still doesn’t fit?  how bad does it look to have a corner of the dresser in the window?  how much would a new dresser cost?

more on the house plans later…

in addition to building the home, we’ve also been building a website that will be all about our new place and all we want to do with it.  when we initially thought about moving we were thinking no more than three acres with a simple temporary home.  our plans have sort of morphed into something huge and taken on a life of their own.  we’ve ended up with ten acres (which is still very small according to some), and a home that could serve as a permanent dwelling (read: “fancy” by homesteading standards).  as we’ve talked we’ve seen how this could present the opportunity for some small business ideas which is something i’ve wanted for a while and now have the time to develop.  among other things i’d like to enter the farmer’s market arena and sometime soon get back into designing, creating, and selling soft housewares online (curtains and stuff with a certain flair ~ did ya’ll know i used to do that?).  in order to look spiffy, we need a website.

more on the website later.  well pretty soon actually…. i’m almost done tweaking.

 

June 1, 2012

our “plan b” farmette part 2

before we start building?!  BEFORE WE START BUILDING!?

hello?

we’ve started!!!!

what am i supposed to do?  call off the workmen so i can think about it for a week?  simply ask them to remove the poles they just dug and take it to the other side?  away from the  water tap, and extending the drive by several hundred feet? (ca-ching).  we’ve thought this all through from every angle for months.  while it was nice of him to come over and tell me, i really couldn’t make a split second decision just like that.

i did what any woman in distress would do.

i called my husband and got him out of a meeting.

we talked it through:

it was our barn we were putting up next to the fence, not the house.  the barn would serve as a buffer.

from what we understood the new warehouses would be towards the back of their property, while we planned to build towards the front.

we could plan to put in a few more trees as well as the planned evergreen hedge that would eventually block the view of the warehouse(s).

we’d been informed that the shifts only ran until 2:30 pm and no one worked evenings or weekends.

we hadn’t started building the house yet so we could still reposition it if need be.

we decided to keep going, but we both felt completely deflated.  the picturesque vision we’d had in mind was somewhat marred.  in all the homework and research we did in preparing to move next door to a warehouse we’d asked all the questions but the right one: “do you ever plan to expand?”.  for a few hours we even considered calling the whole thing off, cutting our losses and starting all over.

then i had an epiphany.

the farmette is our plan b life.  this isn’t what my husband and i saw ourselves doing at this stage.  when we married nearly eight years ago, we had a vision, a dream, and a goal.  we saw a beautiful norman rockwell home, crazy busy with a tumbling lot of children, dogs running through the kitchen, and giggles at bedtime.  we talked about our vision. we planned for it. we even named the children.  however as time went on, we learned our vision was not to be.  it was instead interrupted by a loss we never anticipated.  we look out over the horizon of our lives, but the view we had hoped to see is marred by the scar of that loss.  as we both worked through our grief,  the “plan b farmette” became my lifeline out of that devastation.  alright, i’m still working my way out of it.  but  plan b has given me something to hold on to as we move forward in a different direction.  i believe that someday, we’ll be able to look back and see that  plan b was the best solution after all and the one that, had we known all the facts, we would have chosen from the very beginning.

is it not fitting then, that this plan b has a scar of its own? we had a vision, a picture in mind of what our farmette was supposed to be.  we worked towards it, and planned for it, only to have our vision interrupted by something we never anticipated.  the view we had hoped to see of a beautiful rolling field is now marred by a warehouse.  but, as we adjust, turning things this way and that, adding trees here and there, i think we’ll end up with something beautiful.  something, that, had we known all the facts, we’d have planned from the very beginning.  in the end plan b will be perfect, scars and all.

so after that bit of a hiccup last week, we’ve decided that we will keep going.  i do plan to try to contact someone at the business and chat with them, just to verify their plans so we can further adjust ours if need be.  and also let them know that *ahem* we are here, and maybe be nice? please?  i had also been very leery of getting a rooster and ducks simply out of consideration for our neighbors.  somehow i no longer think that will be a problem.

eta: i did manage to get in contact with the business owner (the man i met initially was a supervisor).  i dropped him an email,  not really expecting to hear anything back.  after all, it really isn’t his problem.  he did however give me a call, was very friendly, and acknowledged that we’d be neighbors and needed to work things out.  he agreed to meet with us on the property to show us exactly what he has in mind.  the addition he has planned will be towards the back, and we plan to build towards the front.  with the way we have our home situated, chances are we won’t even see it; especially once we get the trees and hedge planted.  while i wouldn’t exactly say we’ve averted the crisis, i’d say we’re managing it and both feeling much better about the situation as a whole.

May 31, 2012

our “plan b” farmette part 1

when we first began visualizing our farm, we saw a place with green rolling hills, a duck pond, a red gambrel roof barn, and no neighbors to be seen for miles.  we saw a place that was quiet, remote, and pretty far off the beaten path.  when we began land shopping in order to make that dream a reality,  we had a bit of a reality check.  what we wanted required hundreds of acres.  what we could afford was much, much less and while neighbors might not be as close in proximity, we’d still have them.

our little farmette consists of what was once part of a large estate that was divided into ten acre plots and sold off.  the plot to the south of us was purchased by a couple who built a home and who raise goats and horses.  the plot to the north of us was purchased by a business in town.  they purchased several plots in fact and built a warehouse on the one closest to us.  this warehouse was the one thing, the only thing about our land that we didn’t like.

it was a warehouse.

it housed machinery.

machinery that was sometimes used during the day.

machinery that makes noise.

the men who operate the machinery drive cars.

the cars are parked in front of the warehouse.

it isn’t picturesque.

before we sealed the deal we did our homework (or so we thought), visited with our realtor about our concerns, investigated the company to see what exactly they did, and visited the property during business hours to see just how great the noise level was (it was very low).

it was all still doable.  you really could only hear any noise in the rare cases  when the wind died down and quite honestly, the warehouse was very well kept and beautifully landscaped even more so than some of the houses on my street. a privacy hedge could easily be planted along the fence line to block any unpleasant view.   it was locally owned and operated, and while not ideal we still got a good vibe.  the warehouse was the only “con” opposite a huge list of “pros” in favor of buying the land.  one always has to compromise somewhere.  right?   we went ahead with the deal.

so fast forward then through many weeks of plotting and planning and measuring to figure out just where everything should go: the water tap, the electric poles, the garage (now being called a barn) , and the house itself.  fast forward through all the phone calls and paperwork to get said things in place, and through many weeks of waiting on the builder for the weather to clear; fast forward up to thursday of last week.

it is a momentous day, we’re finally breaking ground on the farmette.   i’ve met the workmen in town, escorted them out to the spot (it *is* a bit off the beaten path), paid the deposit, and showed him where to start.  they dug in and i began snapping away with my camera.

i was so busy i didn’t see the man from the warehouse crossing the field.  i didn’t notice him until he was shaking hands with the foreman.  i panicked.  were we in trouble?  was there some sort of easement we didn’t know about?

i put down my camera and trotted over to the barbed wire fence.  we shook hands and exchanged all the initial niceties of meeting someone for the first time.  then he delivers his bombshell:  “just wanted to let ya’ll know we’re planning on expanding.  we’ll be building another warehouse or two close to the fence.   we are a machine shop and i thought you’d want to know that before you start building right here by the fence.”

>insert record scratch sound effect here<

May 29, 2012

transitions

we’re moving from the cooler spring weather into the heat of summer.  i just harvested the last of our kale, chard, and beets and i’m still trying to coax along some lettuce seedlings under the shade of our back porch.  normally at this time, the beets from this bed would be replaced with the warmer weather crops like tomatoes or zucchini.  instead we’ve yanked out the chicken wire (serving as a barrier for curious doggies) and put in bedding plants (which i don’t much care for) in order to  make the yard pretty for a prospective buyer.

it’s the end of an era.

and while we’re on to bigger and better things, it still makes me feel a little sad.

May 24, 2012

and so it begins…

we’re starting a bit later than we expected.

this week was not without its challenges.

today was not without a few surprises.

but, we have begun.

May 22, 2012

just in case you were wondering….

this is what happens when the bees cross pollinate a wedding white zinnia with a red one:

isn’t it pretty?

May 16, 2012

meet emily

…a gift from my husband for my birthday last month.

    

if you happened to read my post last year about my smart phone then you know husbie and i are not techies.  this is hard for most people to believe especially since my husband works with computers for a living.

the truth of the matter is though that we are very old fashioned and for a long time i didn’t think i wanted anything to do with a kindle.  i like books.  there is something to be said about the ink, the paper, and the cover art.  i love used books, especially if they have been written in or have a date and a name on the inside cover.  they are just special. and in holding the book and turning the pages you form a relationship with it.   i’ve also been proud to display our books on the shelf in the living room.  the titles have a lot to say about who we are.  i have all my favorites by du maurier, and jane austen.  my husband has his poetry and theology.

then we decided to move.

and one of the first things i began to pack up were our bookshelves.

and i began to think.

how convenient to have all of these items loaded onto a single device that could fit in my purse.

hmmmmm…..

HMMMmmm….

then i realized that once we accomplish this move, i will be about 3o miles away from my favorite library.

hmmmmm…..

HMMMmmm….

i began to sneak a look at kindles.  i looked some more, and announced to my husband that i was looking at kindles.

then i did some comparison shopping, settled on a model, and announced to my husband that i *wanted* a kindle.

don’t get me wrong.  i still love books, and after a general sort through i plan to keep those most special to us, and will still proudly display them on our shelves in our new office.  but i am very happy with the convenience of this little gadget named for, (in case you were wondering) emily dickenson.

~as i said before, it fits nicely in my purse so i can read wherever i go without lugging a book (or books) around.

~when reading in bed, it is much easier to hold on to than a large volume.

~i can stand it up on the coffee table and read while folding the laundry.

~i love being able to hi-light without actually marking up a page.

~i love that i will be able to share those hi-lighted passages with  my husband when he gets his kindle too (he’s sold on them now and wants one himself)

~i love that at the touch of a button, i can own a new book almost instantaneously and begin reading within minutes – not to mention some of the other features i have yet to access such as downloading audio books and music to listen to in the background. (how lovely to read austen while listening to rachel portman)

~i also love the public domain freebees, and the sites like pixel of ink that deliver free titles to my inbox each day.  i’ve gone a little crazy with those as mentioned previously.

some favorites (free and otherwise) that i’ve picked up so far:

*the distant hours by kate morton.  ok. this… really wasn’t free. at all.  but i had started it and wanted to finish it. on my kindle.  what can i say.  i had a new toy and really wanted to play with it.

*because of winn-dixie.  yes. this is a children’s book, but i love dogs and this was a very sweet story.  not free but “used book store price” from kindle’s daily deal.

*weekend homesteader.  this is a monthly series and once a week or so they are offered for free.  each issue contains approximately 4-5 “homestead” projects.  the idea is to choose one and choose a weekend to complete it, hence avoiding burnout.  pretty cool little concept and just glancing through it seems that most projects would work for urban homesteading as well as rural.

*a single thread. a contemporary fiction story about a quilting circle.  i’m currently reading this one.  if it wasn’t free it was pretty close to it.  very light, easy, and enjoyable.

some other freebees i’ve downloaded and am looking forward to: willa cather’s o pioneers! jane’s fame: how jane austen conquered the world, and raising chickens in your backyard a no fluff guide to chicken breeds, coops, runs, tractors, and more. 

do you have a kindle or other similar device/app?  what are you currently reading?

May 14, 2012

the soft soap recipe

my husband and i have a fondness for mrs. meyer’s soft soap.  we used to purchase it just when we needed a pick-me-up but then we became so attached we began adding it to the grocery list on a regular basis.  if anyone has used any of the mrs. meyer’s products i don’t need to tell you that they aren’t cheap, so when i saw the recipe for soft soap using a bar of mrs. meyer’s as a base floating around on pinterest, i repinned immediately and decided to give it a try.

when i had assembled my ingredients, i discovered that pinterest had eaten my pin so a quick google search soon revealed that there are many recipes out there.  the one that i chose used a bar of mrs. meyer’s soap, one gallon of water, and 2T of glycerin.

since the recipes are so easy to come by i won’t repost here.  suffice it to say the soap is grated, heated in a large stock pot with the water and the glycerin and allowed to cool.  the prep was super easy and came together very quickly ~ well within an hour.

i noticed on some posted recipes, there were comments that the soap was very thin when completed.  i found this to be true.  it did resemble skim milk both in consistency and appearance.  the key here is to allow it to cool for a significant length of time.  after it has cooled, it does have somewhat of a lumpy appearance and i did need to whisk it before pouring it into the dispenser.

my thoughts on the finished product:

~this is a $ saver and one i will definitely be using on a regular basis however:

~the scent is not as strong, and i have to say that is one of the reasons i loved mrs. meyer’s soap.  the scents are so clean and unique.  i can still smell lemon verbena though, and considering the savings i’m willing to overlook this tiny flaw.

~the consistency is still not the same as the original.  perhaps it was the amount of glycerin used (i saw other recipes calling for just 1T) but it seems a bit slimey and often times a drop is left on the pump after use which can make a mess on the countertop.

~after whisking the soap to pour it into the dispenser, i poured the rest into a gallon milk jug for later use.  it promptly solidified.  not rock solid.  more like cream of wheat.  how i will get it out when we need it next remains to be seen. :/

~one blog recommended giving the final product as inexpensive gifts. um. no. don’t do that.  this isn’t *that* great.  if you want to give soap as a gift my suggestion is to make it from scratch.  sorry.

bottom line: if you have a free hour one afternoon and want to save some $ give it a try; it works.

 

May 8, 2012

a series of truly random thoughts and confessions

1. in the past ten days i have learned all i ever wanted to know about trailer hitches, trailers, and the like.  we now own one, purchased for the purpose of hauling a lawn tractor back and forth to our farmette-to-be that now has grass growing knee-high.  post about said lawn tractor complete with a photo forthcoming.

2. if the weather holds, we should break ground on our farmette by the end of this month.  for this reason i have started packing up the scary upstairs: the place that started out as a cool sitting room we never used so it now houses anything we don’t know what to do with but do not want to pitch.  anything from mason jars to a tapestry wall hanging.  in order not to overwhelm myself, i pack two boxes a day.  well, i am supposed to.  i started this project a month ago and i have a total of…..thrrreee…boxes packed.  post about said boxes complete with a photo forthcoming.

3. i am now the proud owner of a kindle named emily.  i have gone from watching drivel on netflix to reading, a much more wholesome past time.  i even gave christian amish romance fiction a try…..and promptly gave it up.  it reads about as well as it sounds.   i have discovered the blogs/websites/fb pages that offer free kindle books by the virtual boatload.  i anxiously await their posts on a daily basis and have been known to download something stupid, something i know i will never read, simply for the thrill of getting something for free and watching its title magically appear on emily’s home page.   post about said kindle named emily complete with a photo forthcoming.

4. last weekend my husband and i taught ourselves to play canasta.  i won every hand.  i won playing with my deck of pink playing cards.  it was a blast.  i…don’t really plan to publish a post about canasta with photos.  sorry.

5. yesterday i went shopping for a spare tire for our new trailer.  i ended up at a ranch supply store and discovered a series of 3′ high metal troughs containing…………baby chicks!!! and baby turkeys, and baby geese, and baby ducks, and baby something elses i don’t at the moment recall.  i guess i should flaunt my limited knowledge of poultry and say that these were pullets being offered for sale (did i get that right?) but i’m still confused as to what it means when the sign says that they are “sexed”.  still need to read the how-to book but we need to read it pretty durn quick because i want me some chickens.  post about said chickens complete with numerous photos when we get them.

6. speaking of living things: our pond has turtles.  i discovered one in the grass last week when i was mowing, and in order to avoid a terrible accident, i picked him up and moved him to the edge of the pond to see what he would do.  he happily dove right on in.  we need a log, or a rock of some sort so the turtles can sun themselves and all be named appropriately.  would publish a post about said turtle complete with photo if only i could find him again…

random illustration for random post:

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