Archive for May, 2012

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<

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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:

May 3, 2012

we like peas

due to our being “in transition mode” i only planted one 4′ row of bush peas this year.  i thought we’d at least get enough for one or two meals.  i still have some yet to harvest, but yesterday this was all we got:

just enough to garnish some penne pasta with shallots, pancetta, and alfredo sauce.

after i picked them, i set the bucket down on the porch to tend to something else in the garden.

i guess we aren’t the only ones who love fresh peas.

May 1, 2012

happy may day!