It has been a very beautiful day today. Can't believe it's in the 60's and sunny -- and almost the end of October! The younger boys are upstairs doing what our friend Steve calls the "bean dance," which is jumping on the dried bean pods to harvest our navy, kidney and great northern beans. Peter went to town with Jim to mail the homeschool association newsletters I processed this morning, and I just came back from a trip to the mailbox to check for mail. I was kind of forced outside, since our wood stove decided to back up again for the nth time. I have a feeling we should give up on using it until Jim decides what he is going to do with it. The pipe outside is not reaching above the roof line, so we've had a lot of backdrafting. At least we have floor heat to fall back on until we make some decisions and do what we have to do to use wood heat again.
About 2 weeks ago we managed to butcher close to a third of our chickens. Jonathan was determined this time to keep the skin on them, so they devised a cauldron type thing to scald the chickens. They used an old pressure canner and suspended it with chain over a fire, utilizing a thermocouple to check the temperature of the water. It worked slick, and I had no complaints when the plucked and gutted (or should I say "eviscerated") chickens made their way into the house. I need to review the Mesko family's DVD on chicken butchering and Herrick Kimball's tutorial on chicken butchering because I did a terrible job of cutting up the chickens to place in the freezer. I finally got so tired of trying to find joints to separate the parts that I made quite a few knives dull by just cutting through the bone!
The boys and I returned last Thurs. from our big trip to my folks' place near Duluth, MN, and attended my niece's wedding. We had lots of car trouble, but thankfully limped successfully to Mom and Dad's house. I parked the car, and scheduled it to go into the shop the following Monday morning. Unfortunately, by that time the car quit acting up! We had a very special time with family. Uncle Mike and Uncle Mark made sure the boys has a great time, and Grandpa W. taught them how to make box joints. They even came back with a jig for making them. I'm looking forward to lots of boxes for storage. Uncle Mike sent back a trailer full of different types of wood for them to build their creations.
I'm not mentioning any names (!!), but when visiting I stepped down on carpeting and thought I had landed on a needle. Trying to be nonchalant, I took a peek, and it wasn't a needle -- it was a porcupine quill! One of them was doing quill work, and accidentally dropped a quill. Needless to say, I found it for her. I had stepped fairly hard on the quill, so it required pliers to pull it out. Ouch! Now I can empathize with our dog when he had to have quills pulled from his nose and mouth area. I did benefit, though, as for my birthday I received a beautiful pair of quill earrings.
We were gone a total of 8 days, and it was very hard for me to leave my folks. Hopefully the Lord will make a way for us to visit everyone at least a couple of times every year. I am very thankful for emails and the ability to make long distance phone calls.
Jim was busy when we were gone as well. Since I took the family car he was pretty much stuck here, but had plenty to keep him busy. We have 2 bee hives, and he managed to extract a couple of gallons of honey. I am glad I wasn't here when he did it! He also had to deal with one of our tomcats that decided to kill 2 of our laying hens (caught him red handed in the chicken coop with a newly killed chicken), and a dog that had 6 puppies. Jim was our official goat milker and goat chaser when they decided to get out of the fence, and very capably took care of all the daily chores. He also teaches 2 live online Algebra courses on Mondays and Thursdays, so he was unable to go on the road with us. We were very thankful that he was a good sport and took care of everything for us.
I celebrated my birthday while we were gone, and Jim and the boys bought "me" a digital camera. I must say I need to learn how to use it, but the boys have already mastered all the bells and whistles. Hopefully we will now be able to post more photos on our blogs.