Monday, April 30, 2007

Enjoying Spring

I've been waiting for a rainy day to get some things done around here, and unfortunately we haven't had any wet weather since the snow melted. We awoke this morning to a light drizzle, and it was such a blessing. We sure could use more, since an hour after the rain stopped this morning it was dry once again.

A couple of weeks ago we had a few marathon canning days. Our friend Steve picked up 200 former laying hens from a Hutterite community a few hours from here. At first we were going to butcher them ourselves (or should I say the boys were going to butcher!), but for 50 cents per chicken we had them do the butchering before Steve picked them up. What a job! I don't remember how many quarts and pints we canned, but 2 pressure canners were going constantly for 3 days. We still have 50 chickens left, and I can't say that I'm excited to finish the job. I am thankful for all that ready to eat chicken meat, though.

The boys and I spent 3 days last week in our former city, visiting friends and family. Our reason to go was to help our former neighbor celebrate her 100th birthday. This lady is absolutely amazing. She has the best attitude about life, stating that she has had plenty of reasons to worry, but chose to give that up years ago. Mrs. Nelson has a wonderful sense of humor, and her memory is probably better than mine. It was so much fun to spend the afternoon with her, and I hope some day we can do it again. My parents drove 5 hours to spend time with us as well, and it was so special to have them with us for a day and a half. We also had time to do a bit of shopping and visit with other friends.

As I write this, I am listening to the chirping of a chick. One of our Buff Orpingtons decided to be a broody hen, but after a while thought another spot in the shed looked like a better place to sit on eggs. So, the boys grabbed the vacated eggs and placed them in the incubator in the house. So far 3 chicks have hatched. Jim and the boys marked the eggs and have been turning them, but so far that is all that has hatched. We also have 4 kittens in the house. They will be 5 weeks on Friday, so it won't be long before they will be gone.

The puppies are getting very cute and are full of personality. We have had 2 spoken for, and now need to find homes for the last 3. I am getting a bit anxious about finding them homes, since I don't want to end up with 5 dogs running around our farmstead! We have kept them in our hoop house at night, sleeping in a big metal watering trough, but it's just a matter of time now before they figure out how to jump out. It's so much fun to walk outside and have them notice me, and then they come running with their tails wiggling.

The goat kids are doing well, too. We have another doe that should be kidding soon, and I hope she does all right. Then I need to learn how to milk goats! My sons are experts, and they can teach me.

We have another bumper crop -- and that is wood ticks. They are everywhere! I don't go into the woods, but I still end up with them on me. I suppose the boys bring them in and the dogs do, too, but I also get them just from walking over to the clotheslines to hang clothes. I suppose it will be this way until the weather becomes hot and they disappear for another year. Any odd feeling sends me to check to see if I have another one on me.

Jim and the boys have started to raise supports in the main floor of our house. Maybe by fall we can be up there, but we may not have windows installed for the winter. I can't wait to spread out a bit! Currently we have way too much stuff in this basement, and it's frustrating to try to keep it clean. Jim elected to shell in the structure last fall and then build the floor between the 1st and 2nd floors; the boys have already decided that as soon as the floor is built they will sleep up there. I hope they wait until the soffits are enclosed, as mosquitoes would be a problem.

So far the boys have planted potatoes -- more than last year (and we harvested about 1200 pounds of potatoes)! They have also planted some peas and carrots, and cucumbers were planted in our hoop house. We don't have a way to keep heat in the hoop house at night, so we have chosen not to plant anything else in there yet. Most people don't even think of planting in this area until Memorial Day weekend, and tonight the temperature could go into the lower 30's. Last year we planted tomato plants in there, and that same night they froze. I don't want to do that again. Jim has been working on setting up a pump system to bring water up from the lake. Our raspberry plants -- all 600 of them -- look like they are in great shape, and maybe we'll have enough to sell to others later in the season.

That's about it for now.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Review: A Journey Home

Our family borrowed a DVD from fellow blogger Herrick Kimball entitled, "A Journey Home," produced by Franklin Springs Media. This DVD tells the story of the Tommy and Sherri Waller family. Tommy felt prompted by the Lord to give up his corporate job and move to rural Tennessee with his wife and 11 children, choosing instead to live a more simple life. This DVD is a documentary chronicling 18 months of their lives, showing how they began organic gardening and then selling the produce at a local farmer's market. This was how they made their living. Their oldest child was 18; their youngest looked like a newborn. If you are interested in what Herrick had to say about the story, please go to his blog and check out his entry from Thursday, April 5, 2007.

There was a lot going on in my mind as I watched the movie ... For one thing, I wondered if the family ever had a down day, where things just didn't go right. All that was shown were positive things, and I guess I wondered if they, like us, had at times made bad choices, had crops fail, sickness in the family, etc. Did they ever run out of money? I am a practical person, wanting to know the nuts and bolts of things, and I wish they could have shown a bit of how they worked things out so they could do all the things they did. How did they manage to buy what they needed to set up their farming activities?

Jim left his teaching position in Dec. 2003, and has been home with us ever since. We too felt the Lord calling us to a move from city living to country living, and for a simpler way of life. Even though we knew the Lord was in it -- it was hard! Many times our way of making money was by saving money here and there, and have done without many things. How did they do that with 11 children? It is an amazing story.

I must admit I was a bit concerned that some families watching this movie would decide to jump in without really counting the cost. The Waller family seemed so perfect -- and maybe they are. However, the Wallers had laid a foundation in the Lord to get them to where they were, and because of that were able to do what they were doing. Their house was in order, the children well trained, and Tommy Waller had a clear vision for what he was going to do. All of this caused them to be ready when they felt led by God to minister in Israel.

If you are interested in checking out the Waller family, you can go to their website called Ha Yovel .

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Part VIII : Getting Ready to Move In

Our cement contractor thought the boys needed a dog, so he offered us one of his puppies. At the time we were still living at the the retreat center and told him if he could hang onto the dog for a while we would take one as soon as we moved into our basement. The puppy was 1/2 Border Collie, 1/4 Blue Heeler, and 1/4 American Eskimo. Jonathan and Peter went to work on building a dog house. Their doghouse was big enough to fit all 4 boys, not to mention a puppy! Orange clothing was worn since it was in the middle of hunting season. Our land had been open for hunting up until we purchased it, so we didn't know if people would still try to hunt here.

Time to bring in the firewood for the woodstove! Andrew was a very diligent worker.

The walls were yet to be insulated, so we needed a good fire to keep us warm while working.

One day the boys and I stopped at our neighbor's for a visit. Mr. Roland happened to notice a bit later there were 3 deer in his yard down by the barn. To our amazement, he took out his gun, and shot. The deer took off running, so Mr. Roland and the boys hopped into his pickup truck to pursue. A few minutes later one of the boys came back for a chain, and soon the deer was hooked up to the tractor and hoisted into the air.

Mr. Roland then taught Jonathan how to gut and skin a deer. I was shown how to find the various cuts of meat, and was given half the deer to take home.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Puppy Sitting

Our dog's puppies were born three weeks ago today. We thought she was going to be a very good mom, as she seemed even a bit overly anxious for her 5 babies. Well, that anxiousness turned into disinterest, and she started refusing to feed them. We have resorted to forcing the issue.

We started tying Selah outside near the doghouse so she doesn't have to listen to the puppies' antics all day long. (She is our chicken killer, and cannot be loose unless the chickens and turkeys are safely in for the night. Now that we have domestic ducks and geese that come up from the lake and sleep by our chicken tractors, she will never be free to roam unless someone is with her.) I wait until the puppies wake up and yelp for food (usually every 4 to 4-1/2 hours) and then bring her in and make her to go into the box and lay down. By then the puppies are frantic and probably latch on a bit too zealously. We have to stay right by the box to make Selah stay in there and nurse. As soon as they are done we let her out and she stays outside by her doghouse.

This is not the way I imagined having puppies would be. I feel like I'm back to having babies of my own, since I have resorted to staying up until the puppies' last feeding, bring Selah in to nurse, and then take her back outside. That has been the only way we have gotten a decent night's sleep! They are usually ready to eat again by 6:00 the next morning.

I hope we will find good homes for the puppies. We don't plan on keeping any of them (no matter how cute they are), since we have discovered having 2 dogs is one too many. The boys and I feel we need to do something with Selah, because she has been a problem dog from the time we brought her home. I appreciated John Mesko's blog entry about treating animals as animals and not like humans. John was referring to animals raised for butchering, but there comes a time when pets also need to be placed into perspective. I hope we can find a good home for her.

Friday, April 06, 2007

More New Additions

Just to let you cat lovers and non-cat lovers know, we expanded our cat population by 4. Our cat named Funny Face gave birth to 4 little black and white kittens. Funny Face and I were both surprised when her water broke and left puddles all over. The boys were outside, so I elected not to tell them until she started delivering her babies. We had a box set up in the bathroom area, but she just didn't want to stay in there. Thankfully, when the actual delivery time came she crawled in there by herself and took care of everything. This is her 2nd litter of kittens, so this time around she isn't quite as protective of them.

Our basement population currently consists of 6 humans, a dog and her 5 puppies, and now a cat and her 4 kittens! Good thing we have a concrete floor!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Movie part 2

This is part 2. The first part is below.