Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Surprise Visit From the UK

Daniel's family recently had a family reunion that we were not able to make.  Because of our first high school graduation, buying a house, and time off... we just couldn't pull it off.  It was sad for us to miss it, but it just couldn't be accommodated.  However..... we received a surprised phone call from his aunt and uncle that live in England late on Sunday night.  They were on their way back to the UK and had an extended layover in Washington DC.  Since DC is only about two hours from us we made some arrangements... Ali had the afternoon off and Daniel took a half day from work.  We made it to DC around 3:30pm and hopped the Metro (the subway) for a half hour ride into the heart of town.  Girls thought this was a grand experience.  Nothing like the movies make of it!

The Metro dropped us off about a block from the Smithsonian.  Once we located the family - we headed to the museum of natural history.  We shot a picture of all SIX cousins here (the sixth is the bony one in the right background).

This was a pretty neat feature.  You were able to "interact" with the dinos.  We're, unfortunately, behind T-Rex in this particular photo :o(

Then it was on to the "white house".  That was a slip from Daniel when he saw it and the family never let him live it down.  He did know it was really the capital building, but he was referring to it being the white building - saying the "white house".  That one will stick with him for years to come.

One of the two photographers next to us offered to take a picture for us.  One of just our family and the whole bunch of us.  He also cleaned the fingerprints off Carole's lens (LOL!)

bottom row (l-r): Sydney and Alisha.  middle row (l-r): Lori, Liz, Larry, and Carole.  third/top row (l-r):  Daniel, Stephen, and Ben.

Then it was on to tour more of those hallowed streets.  The photo below is the original Smithsonian building.  They use to graze buffalo in the back yard as an exhibit (ha ha ha).

We went to dinner at Chipotle and headed toward the Lincoln monument, but along the way visited the Washington Monument.  You don't realize how big it really is until you're standing right next to it.

OR laying at the base of it...

...taking pictures straight up.

It was too late to get pictures of the reflection pool, but Daniel did his best.  It was incredible.  

On to the Lincoln Monument.  Pseudo Greek architecture and the mass of marble and other natural materials that it took to build this was astonishing.  But up close...


Then we headed back to catch the Metro.  It was already past 10pm and we were all worn out from our walk, which resulted in 5.7 miles (yep. still feeling it today).  It was such a GREAT time!  We all only wish we had more time to share together.  We've been encouraged; it's our turn to visit them and their museums (and castles, and monuments, and PARIS (they only live two hours from many other countries...).  Time to start saving!!!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sweet Corn

I've never had the opportunity to process lots of corn from the garden until yesterday.  I was too sticky and full of corn to take pictures, so all I got were these pictures of us enjoying the corn AFTER it was finished.

Sydney and I loaded into the car with our favorite knives - not knowing what was in store for us.  Eight and a half hours later 105 quarts of corn had been put away.  We have gotten acquainted with a very sweet Mennonite family that showed us how it was done.  Mennonite corn (the way they process it) is completely different from anything I've ever tasted and so wonderful.  I'll never do it any other way again.  I'll share in future posts....

As I looked back to the kids - every one of them had their lips wrapped around a sweet juicy cob enjoying the bounty.  It was a moment I wanted to capture.  We brought home 30 quarts to freeze for our own family.  I almost can't wait until winter now :o)  ALMOST!

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Soon-To-Be Garden

Well, the garden is well under way.  I posted a picture similar to this recently showing you where the garden was going to be.  A pretty vague picture as there are about three acres that you can see.  In this picture Daniel is beginning to scalp mow the area that we're killing off.  We've made the mistake in a previous garden of simply tilling the turf in the garden - which short term was great, but long term was a nightmare due to grass and weeds sprouting endlessly.  We're going a different direction this time.

Once the area was mowed as short as we could get it we spread out two transparent  (4ml) pieces of plastic that will compost all the grass, weeds, seeds, and other things that are unwanted in a typical veggie garden.  Our plan was to originally rent a turf cutter and turn everything over, but after some research we decided to go a different route.  More of a self-hybridized lasagna garden method.  The garden spot measures 40ft x 50ft.  I think I can get some good, organic produce out of that amount of space - don't you?  Speaking of good organic produce.  I was at Lowe's the other day and happened by their clearance racks in the garden center and found five blueberry bushes for $5 each.  Score!!!  You can see them over to the right of the garden...

There was only one variety available on sale and we'll need two different varieties for the kind of pollination that will yield good quality fruit.  We're planning to get four bare root bushes of another variety in the very early portion of next spring to accommodate this requirement.

I am beyond excited about everything we've done this year so far.  Everything is pointing toward our own little farmette; a dream come true.  We're done outside for right now.  At least until late October when we will uncover the garden spot and till in the dead roots and grass, a truckload of sand, our compost, leaves, horse manure, and whatever else we can find to throw in there :o)  A friend from church is planning to deliver a few bales of spoiled hay for next year that we plan to use for our mulch cover in the garden.  Just think - next year, this time, I'll be busy harvesting all sorts of yummy summer treasures.  That makes me smile.

Being done outside for now puts us working back INSIDE.  Just the thought of that makes me smile too!  Wasting no time - the bathrooms are being finished first, rounding the corner to build the new clothes closet in the master bedroom, then heading back toward the kitchen; picking up whatever stray things to be done along the way.  Hope you're still following along - things on here are about to start picking up again.  Until next time....

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Day Stargazer Found "HER" Cock-A-Doodle-Do

Depending on who you talk with - you'll hear that you should one have rooster per dozen or so hens.  We've thought, from our first four chickens, we were lucky to have gotten three hens and one rooster.  But it just so happens that Stargazer found "her" cock-a-doodle-do, today; which takes our count up to two roosters and twenty hens (and that's not accounting for there being a rooster in the mix of our new batch of Ameraucanas).  We're keeping our fingers crossed that our numbers will remain ok - otherwise a rooster - or two - have to go - and that would make for a very sad day!

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Little More Working Outside

So I've been telling you that we're working outside whilst we have the opportunity.  I've been planting and planting and planting and planting.  We've bought diggings from people who were thinning their gardens, scavenge the clearance rack at Lowe's, and pick up vans full of a different variety from other friends that are willing to simply share.  It's a baby garden this year, but the next couple of years will prove size and color for the perennials that are part of the earth in front of our home now.

The rest of the property can be farm; animals and food and such, but I wanted around the house to be "pretty".  I've left the portion in front of the stairs as turf for right now, but I'm planning to put bricks there when I can find some for my favorite price - FREE :o)  Most likely a mini project next summer.

I've gone around a good majority of the house at this point.  All perennials :o)  Perennials = low maintenance.  I like the sound of that!!!

Probably my most favorite in the garden is the white Shasta Daisy.  I was SO excited to find this little gal on the clearance rack at Lowe's - $3!!!!  I love the contrast between the bright white, yellow, and green - she looks so happy to me.

The original side I started on... the tank is being moved to the other side of the house before winter. That makes me happy!

Tomatoes are doing well.  Well, as well as can be expected.  I didn't get a chance to vine, stake, or cage them - but they don't seem to mind.  There won't be enough to can, but we will have a few to have on the farmhouse table some evening :o)

Continuing on the far side of the house is the area with the heat pump.  The gas tank will be sitting right to the left of it when it's moved.

And I still have more plants waiting to go into that fore lorn portion of the landscaping around the house.

Sydney had her own thoughts about landscaping today... out beyond the tall grass she decided she needed to create an oasis for herself.  She's pushing the mower to make just the right spot.

Maybe something like this... painted in durable porch paint might be good for her down there.  A future project for someone.  It was my favorite price; FREE!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Blackberries Are In Full Bloom

We are enjoying them just as much as the chickens, the puppies, and the deer!  It's amazing how the animals have the discernment on which of them are ripe; they never go for the red berries, only the biggest, darkest ones.  The first of many started to be picked on the fourth of July - appropriate splendor!

Friday, July 11, 2014

News Around Here

It seems like I haven't had the chance to sit down and take the time to post as of lately for one reason or the other.  Life IN the farmhouse hasn't changed much as we've been taking advantage of the wonderful summer weather outside.  I bought a new edging shovel and went after the front garden.  I've planted a myriad of perennials; echinecea, black-eyed susan, butterfly bush, lilies, chives, spiderwort, zinnas, daisies, etc.  I bought black mulch for the side garden early in the spring, but I didn't like how it looked when it weathered so I spead that mulch in a very thin layer over all of it and tomorrow we go pick up a trailer load of mulch to finish the project.  I'm very excited to see everything bloom and fill in years to come.

We made an impromptu stop at the SPCA (no-kill animal shelter) last weekend and ended up coming home with these two; brother and sister.  Blonde guy is Nickerson and his black counterpart is his sister Naylee.  Our retriever, Annabelle, had to find another place to live as she was terrified here.  We're not sure if she has something legitimately wrong with her, but she was a mess here.  The local retriever rescue is getting her psychiatric help and a new (very quiet) home.  But Nickerson and Naylee seem to be normal, run-of-the-mill pups that can be trained to be real family dogs.  They are shaking our world!

We now have a total of 20 chickens.  The original four we were given as a "farm warming gift": we're still not sure if Star-Gazer (the black and white one) is a hen or rooster - we're waiting for verification.  Unless chickens are sexed within the first few days of life - you don't know until the rooster crows.  May(verick) is definitely exhibiting signs of being a rooster, but he hasn't officially crowed yet.

About two weeks ago we found ten Buff Orpington chicks (the same age as our originals) for an incredible price, so that increased our flock to 14.

Then... I was browsing Craigslist about four days after that and came across a straight-run of eight Ameraucana chicks that were only three weeks old.  These are the chickens that lay the beautiful green/blue eggs.  So - I went and picked them up.

However, with 20 chickens - we needed a chicken coop.  So... this is the little white coop and just like our house - not white yet.  However, I think that might be changing this weekend :o)

This is the chicken quadrant of our farmstead right now.  The coop was the secret project I hinted about a few posts ago.  We didn't have a plan to go by - just an inspiration picture that I found online.  I think Daniel did a fabulous job... don't you?!?!?

I'm currently working on the kitchen inside.  Still fussing with those countertops, while Daniel is beginning our closet.  We aren't at it full time because we'll have all winter to work inside.  The next big project outside is preparing the gardent spot for next year....

Our garden will be in the above space.  This Summer's plan?  A sod cutter, water hose, black plastic, and concrete blocks.  And then Fall will bring a tiller, sand, mulch, and horse maneuer.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Lamentations 3:23

It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Jersey Blueberries

40 pounds (minus a few handfuls here and there) - sitting out for 24 hours to sweeten then off to the freezer and jars of jam. They are quite a treat!

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