Saturday, December 08, 2007

Recapping the Week

This time of year is busier than I want it to be; I'd much rather be snowed in and working on all the projects that have accumulated during the spring/summer/fall. We've been busy doing good things, but it sure makes me tired! We have enough snow to be snowed in, but the township plow has been in here and are able get in and out once again.

Last Sat. we traveled to a city a little over an hour from here at a pastor friend's invitation so the boys could play at their church's special services. It was a very small church, but we certainly enjoyed all the fellowship with fellow homeschooling families. The visiting pastor is traveling around the country with a home base in Indiana, and it turns out he pastored a bit in the small town there where I had lived back in the 70's. I reminisced with him about what the town used to be like, as back then it was a hotbed for Klu Klux Klan activity. We finally stumbled into our house about 1 the next morning, but the fellowship had been worth the lack of sleep. Jim drove home in the middle of a snowstorm.

This past week was very busy for me, as we are trying to process the homeschool association's convention booklet. My unofficial title is "Office Support," so I am doing all the production, with a little help from the boys. Our goal is to get them to the post office by Monday, so everything else has been placed on the shelf until I am done. I am hoping no one shows up and sees the condition of the house!

Thursday night Jim and the boys played for the county employees Christmas party at a very nice restaurant on Lake Metigoshe. It was a very cold night, and the car almost didn't make it up there for setting up the equipment. The car has been acting up since we traveled through Minnesota in October for my niece's wedding, but Jim couldn't pinpoint the problem. Well, we now think we know what it is, so hopefully the car will be repaired on Wed. That's a relief for me, as without a cell phone (there's poor reception up here, anyway) and sparse population I was more than a bit hesitant to drive.

This particular invitation to play was a very interesting one for us, since the man doing the asking was the County Superintendent of Schools -- and we homeschool! Jim has had dealings with him off and on since moving up here, as he also has his fingers in other things around here: he is the local auctioneer and also owns and operates the drive in restaurant at Lake Metigoshe. He also sells fireworks around Independence Day. This was my first time meeting him, and I found it interesting that he was walking around the night of the party with a can of Skoal in his back pocket. Wonder if he chews on the job!

The boys did very well in their playing. I am thankful that up this way they are still allowed to play what they want to, and most of what they did was gospel bluegrass. We had to wait until the party was over to tear down the equipment, and they were called back to play one more song at the end. Jim chose "House of Gold," which is evangelistic in nature. No one complained.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Back to Butchering

I am going to be a bit sad when our pigs Ham and Bacon are butchered, because they seem more like pets. I forgot to mention in my last blog entry about our friend Lori Kenney's encounter with our pigs.
Jim took Lori and I back from where the Kenneys were staying so we could make supper. Jim parked the station wagon right by the door to the basement, and as we got out, we were greeted by our pigs, Ham and Bacon! They were so happy to see us, and one of them promptly ran up to Lori and planted her very muddy snout on the front of Lori's denim skirt. Lori didn't even flinch, but starting patting the pig on the head! The pigs love our dog, and it looked so funny to see the three of them running to greet us. Jim used a bucket of food to entice them back to their pen, and they happily followed him down the hill.I thought we would have a nice quiet afternoon, but Jonathan decided it would be a good day to butcher our 4 remaining Bourbon Red turkeys. They were a year old last May, and we didn't think we could keep them over another winter since they didn't have the greatest pen for our cold conditions. The first fall they were around I thought they were pretty neat, since they would come up to me while I was hanging clothes outside and watched everything I did. Well, last winter they were a lot of trouble, since the males liked to show me who was boss and bullied me every time I wore my purple winter jacket. I guess they must not be color blind, but hated the color purple! They even followed me down the quarter mile to the mailbox, trying to dominate me. I finally had enough and chased them away. This spring one of the females had 17 babies (as you can tell, I can't remember the proper names for the turkeys), and it was fun to watch them follow their mama. Unfortunately, the next day they had all disappeared. So much for trying to raise more turkeys!
The guys set up shop between the house and the hoop house, and got to work.
Peter did a good job of gutting the turkeys! I was amazed at how much bigger the 2 males were compared to the 2 females.
Jim did a good job of keeping the fire burning under the garbage can that was used to scald the turkeys.
And here is the finished product! I have one turkey roasting in my big roaster, and another cooking on the stove. We are running short of freezer space, so the less bones to store the better.

We used the workbenches that Jim built for the basement and garage of our house in the city to create counter tops in our temporary living quarters in our basement. I used sticky Contact Paper to cover the chipboard surfaces. We have had to change it once so far in the 3 years we have lived this way. The shelf below the counter contains Rubbermaid containers to store my kitchen equipment.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Check Out Peter's Blog

Thought you might be interested in seeing/hearing Peter's new way of making music! Check out his video.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

More of the Week's Activities

Last Sunday the former Turtle Mountain Boys (we have to change the name since we discovered there is another group by that name in the area) played at Bottineau's nursing home. They did a very good job of mingling with the crowd, and enjoyed talking with a lady that spoke Norwegian, a man from whom we purchased canning jars, and others.
David (8) was our resident photographer and sat on the nursing home's piano bench, so we had kind of a side view of the concert. We are still trying to convince David to join the band, but he would rather be a groupie with me. Our time of doing nothing during concerts will soon come to an end, as our small sound system should arrive in time for the revival meeting they were asked to play for next weekend.
The Kenneys arrived the next day, and the fun began! The garden tractor and trailer was given to Andrew, and he has been able to fix it up enough to use it. However, at this point the thing died and had to be towed back to the yard.
Grandpa Bartlett's potato cannon was a big hit with the Kenney kids, and it was now time to show the dads how well it worked. Those potatoes sure could fly!No matter what was going on, Samson (our dog) was never far behind.
Lori Kenney and I had time to sample some great coffee at Metigoshe Ministries. This is where their family stayed while visiting, and where we stayed for a couple of months when we were working on our basement.
We miss you, Kenneys! Thanks for blessing us with your presence! We had wonderful fellowship in the Lord. Hopefully the next time you come our way we'll have room for you to stay with us!

Activities of the Past Week

It's been another busy week, full of lots of interesting things. Deer hunting season was upon us, and Jonathan managed to shoot a good sized doe as well as a four by four buck within two days of each other! We were all so proud of him, and very thankful for all the meat we were about to process. I don't think my brothers ever went deer hunting, so this was all new to me when we moved up to the north country.

Jonathan made sure the buck was hoisted a bit higher than the doe was. We tied our German Shepherd at night to make sure he left the deer alone, but in the morning in between going to the barn to "help" Peter with milking and the rest of the chores he managed to chew the nose off from the doe!
There certainly was a lot of venison to process. A couple of years ago my parents gave us an electric meat grinder as a Christmas present, and it sure came in handy! If we hadn't had it we'd still be grinding by hand. (Yes, we are still in the basement, and this is our temporary kitchen.)
Our family was preparing for the arrival of our friends the Kenneys, and I was a bit frustrated at trying to organize things in the bedroom area. I mentioned to Andrew (11) that he should make a bunk for his brother David, since we were using a trundle bed for him to sleep on. We no longer could store the trundle under Andrew's daybed since it was now full of my 2007 canned produce, and it was in the middle of the walking area. Andrew went right to work, and created this wonderful bed for his brother. He also framed in his daybed, and it looks great!
Now we have 2 sets of bunkbeds! We are using the mattress from the trundle bed for David, and stored the actual trundle frame upstairs in our yet to be finished main floor.
Here is our house last Sunday, on a very snowy day. The flakes actually looked like snowballs! The main and 2nd floors are unfinished and eaves still open to the elements, but Jim is working diligently to install the electrical wiring. After it's inspected we will do some insulation and block the eaves. We moved quite a bit of our belongings into the 2nd floor from the semi trailer we were using. Jim hopes to turn the semi trailer into a wood shop when the main floor is ready for occupancy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Winter Has Arrived

Wind Advisory in effect until 6 PM CST this afternoon...
Rest of Today
Cloudy with isolated snow showers. Windy... colder. Highs in the lower 30s. Near steady temperature in the lower 30s. Northwest winds 25 to 40 mph. Chance of snow 20 percent.
Mostly cloudy. Lows in the lower 20s. Northwest winds 10 to 20 mph.

We have blizzard like conditions today, and the boys sure are happy about it! Jonathan got his deer the day before yesterday, and we will spend the day processing the meat.

Photos will follow after the troops are done with chores.

Friday, November 09, 2007

It's Cooling Down

Andrew took some photos for me to share with you. Last spring we were given some ducks and geese when we bought goats, and they have been roaming freely all summer. In this photo, they are walking on the ice that formed on the lake in the past couple of days. They did manage to make a hole in the ice, and still have their own place to get wet.
We had a dilemma when the chicken coop area in half the goat barn was too small for all of our chickens. All of the chickens the boys purchased this spring are capable of laying eggs for us, so we hated to butcher the extras that were still living in a portable chicken pen. The boys decided to utilize our hoop house for a temporary shelter for them for the winter. We purchased a very durable tarp, and Jonathan and Peter devised a chicken coop with one half of the hoop house.
The area is lined with straw bales, and the ground is also covered with straw.
The chickens seem nice and toasty warm in there.
The little building to the right has become our garden shed; it was originally the outhouse that Grandpa Bartlett built for me when they were visiting the first fall we lived up here. In the next photo in the background you will see what our house looks like for the winter. Hopefully next year we will be able to get some siding on that house wrap. The windows are temporary ones that were given to us, and provide us with light so we can see what we are doing in there! Jim is working on the wiring, but the only electricity we have up there is through the use of extension cords.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

A Day to Catch Up (Or At Least Try)

Today was a good day to catch up on a few things, such as baking bread. With 4 boys, there's always a need to fill in at meal times, so we go through a lot of bread. I managed to make 8 loaves and 2 large batches of whole wheat buns. That should help get us through to later in the week. Jim went upstairs to check on the state of our potatoes and carrots, and discovered they were rotting.

Early in the growing season we were talking about constructing a root cellar of one sort or another, but never got it going. The boys had all they could do to hand dig out our goat shed, which is located on the side of the hill, and we just didn't have time to dig out a cellar for storing our produce. Jim thought he would try building an insulated box above the wood stove, and cut a hole through the floor to allow a bit of heat to keep the box from freezing. It seemed to be working. However, last night they discovered the box was hovering at close to 60 degrees, which meant there was too much heat for the vegetables. Unfortunately, we lost all of the carrots stored up there, and some of the potatoes. Jim had the boys peel potatoes that still had good parts to them, and we made a big pot of mashed potatoes. Guess I better find a lot of recipes that call for potatoes! We want to use them up before anything else happens. All the remaining potatoes are now in the basement with us instead of up where they were.

Yesterday our neighbors stopped by to see if we would be interested in trading hay for beef. You bet! This neighbor was the one who initially did all the haying, and we still had extra bales after we were given our share. They raised this steer over at their farm, so we know how it was taken care of. What a blessing to have beef in our freezer! And to think deer season is just around the corner as well!

Jonathan has been getting ready for trapping, and this morning came home with his first raccoon. I was proud of how well he did on the skinning. Hopefully he will make money this year from the sale of his pelts.

Later in the day, Jim and the boys headed over to help some friends with their TV antenna. Apparently there was a channel that would not come in, so they needed someone to change the direction of the antenna. I was glad I wasn't over there watching, since the antenna is located at the top of what used to be a windmill -- and a very large one. I can't remember how tall the boys said it was, but I saw the photos they took and Jim and Jonathan were quite a ways up in the air. You can see a couple of photos at Peter's blog. We are supposed to be hit tomorrow with a blast of arctic air, and with winds going over 45 mph, I'm sure glad the deed was done today. While over there the boys were thrilled to see a bald eagle and 2 moose.

I just finished with getting our honey squared away. While the boys and I were on our trip to Minnesota, Jim used his homemade extractor to take the honey from our hives. He placed the honey in large containers, so today I softened it and separated it into smaller jars. We probably got about 3 gallons from 2 hives. I don't know if that is very good or not, but since it was our first year of working with the bees, we count any amount a real blessing. The bread items I baked today were made with our goat milk and honey, and that is quite an accomplishment, considering just a little over 3 years ago we moved up to this land that had nothing on it but a lake, trees, fields, and hills, and little knowledge (but a lot of enthusiasm!) in how to get started.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I Think Winter is Coming

Sunday Night
Mostly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of snow showers. Breezy. Lows in the lower 30s.

Partly sunny with a 20 percent chance of snow. Breezy. Highs in the lower 30s.
Monday Night
Mostly clear. Lows 15 to 20.

Tuesday and Tuesday Night
Partly cloudy. Highs in the lower 30s. Lows 15 to 20.

Partly sunny. Highs in the upper 30s.
Wednesday Night
Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 20s.

Just in time for deer hunting season!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Around the Farm

The boys showed me how easy it is to upload photos from our digital camera; now I need to try it out for myself!
David decided it would be fun to get Samson to sleep with him in Peter's bottom bunk.
I took this photo through the bedroom window, so the boys didn't know it was taken. Friends gave Andrew the three wheeler, and he was busy trying to change one of its tires. He has quite a mind for vehicle repairs. I guess we can truly consider ourselves homesteaders, since Sunday another family brought us our first tractor! Too bad it doesn't work. The guys were out today, trying to get it to start.

The goats were all brought into our barn area for the fall/winter. It took a while for them to decide who was head honcho; finally things have settled down and they all tolerate each other.

Back to Business

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.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Indian Summer

We had a beautiful day today, definitely our Indian Summer. Good thing, because we have a lot to do before winter hits.

A lot has transpired since my last post almost a month ago. Jim made his trip to Albuquerque, NM for a HSLDA leadership conference, and two days later his folks arrived for a visit from New Hampshire. It was a later in the year visit than normal, and the temps were a lot cooler than they were used to. We hadn't had any rain to speak of since July -- and then it rained the last 3 days they were visiting. We all enjoyed having Grammy and Grandpa here, and the time went much too quickly. I'm sure we'll be posting some photos in the future. I think the highlight for the boys was making a potato cannon with Grandpa. That thing could really shoot! Amazing what you can do with hairspray.

We have also been working feverishly on our "to do" lists. The boys cleaned out the garden areas, insulated the goat barn, installed protection for our fruit trees (in broad daylight a few days ago Jim spotted a deer in the garden, calmly eating raspberry leaves), hauled haybales closer to the barn, constructed a shelter for the pigs, and I forget what else. Jim has completed the floor that will separate the 2 floors of our house. He also built a box for the potatoes that were dug yesterday. They will be kept from freezing by heat from the woodstove which will come through a hole in the floor to the basement just above the woodstove. Hopefully it will work.

I still have tomatoes and apples to process, but that will have to be placed on the shelf until later. Tomorrow we will butcher 25-30 chickens. Not my favorite job, but a necessary one. Instead of just taking off the chickens' skin with the feathers they opted to try to scald the carcasses and then pluck the feathers ... Guess we need a Whizbang Chicken Plucker , but that will have to wait for another year.

Later this week the boys and I will travel 900 miles to help celebrate my niece's wedding and visit my family. What a blessing that by the end of the month the boys will have spent special time with both sets of grandparents. The visits are too few and far in between, and hopefully some day we can make more trips to visit both families. Jim will stay behind with all the animals. I have a very large "to do" list for him, and we'll see how much he can get done! Our dog may have her puppies while we are gone, and we'll see what kind of a midwife Jim turns out to be.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lots to Do

It's one of those days when I'm trying to decide what to do first: Tomatoes to be canned, already canned ones to box up and find somewhere to put them, herbs on the table ready to be dried, bread to bake ... The weather is windy, cloudy and a bit rainy, and not at all enticing me to go outside. The boys are out doing their chores before breakfast. So much to do before winter sets in. Jim and the boys will help out some friends later today with taking down a shed, so I better get organized and get busy.

Thankfully yesterday was one of those Indian summer days, and I was able to get clothes dried on the clotheslines. However, when I walked over there with a load of towels I couldn't figure out why I was hearing a lot of buzzing going on. I soon discovered that Jim had hung his bee suit on the lines -- and the bees found it. Guess he must have spilled some honey on the suit. I didn't dare get too close, as they looked pretty crabby. We have 2 hives and it's time to extract. Out of necessity Jim created a honey extractor out of a large plastic barrel, but the day wasn't warm enough to keep the honey running and so they will wait. I'm beginning to wonder if we will actually have a warm enough day yet to get the honey to the point where he can extract it. I'm hoping he doesn't decide to bring the frames into the house!

I am very thankful to be done for the time being at the retreat center where I filled in for a week. I think I had a touch of the emotions a mom would have that works out of the home; come to think of it, I probably felt what a dad would also feel when there is the yearning just to be home with his family. It was hard when Jim would stop by with the boys to say hi on their way somewhere -- I just wanted to go with them. I guess I didn't realize how good I had it until I didn't. The extra income will be helpful, but I wondered sometimes if it was worth it. I would come home at night totally exhausted, and had nothing to give the boys either emotionally or physically.

Time to get busy. This Saturday will be our last farmer's market of the season, and the town is having something called Oktoberfest (in Sept. yet!). Jim and the boys were also asked to play their bluegrass for an hour somewhere in the festivities. Jim's folks will be heading our way for a week in early October, and then shortly after that we will head to the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" to visit my folks and attend my niece's wedding. Sure is a lot going on.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Lots of Preparations to Do

This is why (we had a very heavy frost last Sunday night, and most of our tomato and pepper plants died):

Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 40s. Southeast winds 10 to 15 mph.

Partly sunny. Slight chance of showers and isolated thunderstorms in the afternoon. Highs in the upper 60s. South winds 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 20 percent.

Wednesday Night
Mostly cloudy. Chance of rain showers in the evening...then chance of rain showers and snow showers after midnight. Windy. Lows around 40. Northwest winds 5 to 10 mph increasing to 20 to 30 mph. Chance of precipitation 30 percent.

Mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of rain showers. Highs in the upper 40s. Northwest winds 15 to 25 mph increasing to 25 to 35 mph in the afternoon.

Thursday Night
Mostly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of rain showers and snow showers in the evening...then partly cloudy after midnight. Widespread frost after midnight. Lows around 30. Northwest winds 15 to 25 mph decreasing to 5 to 10 mph after midnight.

Mostly sunny. Highs in the upper 50s.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A Note to Check In

Tonight I heard something that we've all been waiting for ... David came running in and informed me, "Mom, the corn's ready!" Whew, we were afraid it would not be ripe before we had a heavy frost. We've already had a few light frosts, but more in the valley and not up where the gardens are situated. We have so much left to do before winter, and I hope we can get it all done.

Tomorrow is my big day for baking bread, buns, muffins, etc. for the Saturday farmer's market in town. The boys sell garden produce, and I have gotten into the act by selling baked goods. I still can hardly believe that people no longer do their own baking, but are willing to buy it from me. Homemade bread is old hat to our family, but apparently it's quite a novelty for others. I've also been selling strawberry and raspberry jam, wild plum and chokecherry syrup, and may try selling hawthorne jelly. I didn't realize how much pectin is found naturally in hawthorne berries, so it may be a bit thick. We'll have to try out a jar of it in the morning and decide if I should sell it or not.

I also agreed to help out the local retreat center by filling in as cook until they hire a new one. I will start on Sunday, and hope all goes well. Hopefully they will hire someone soon, because I have lots of canning left to do. Our tomatoes are close to being ripe, and I have only canned 7 quarts of them so far.

Jim and the boys have been working on the main floor of our house. They may have the floor between the main and 2nd floor done soon, and we'll see how far we can get before it's too cold to work in there. It sure is nice to at least have storage up there.

I guess David (8) had a little bit of excitement today. When David is around, there's always excitement! Part of his chores is to feed our two pigs. The older boys put together a new pen for them with newly purchased hog panels, and David was trying to get the feed over to the pig's feeding bucket and promptly fell in head first! I am very leery of pigs, since I've heard how mean they can be. The boys quickly informed me that these two pigs love being scratched and are very friendly. Guess I haven't been down there to check them out for a while. All I know is every time I walk to the clotheslines to hang up wet clothes they think my laundry basket is their slop bucket and start squealing!

I would love to show you some photos of all the activity around here, but our digital camera is currently not working.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Tell Mom Happy Anniversary!

It's Mom and Dad's anniversary tomorrow--if you'd like, leave a comment of congratulations.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

It Did

We awoke this morning to frost in the valley. Time to get into gear for fall.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Busy Weeks

Harvest season has finally arrived. We've been swamped with green beans for quite a while now, and I'm just not sure what to do with all of them. I think I've canned about 200 quarts of the things! Some of them will go to a friend whose baby is due any day now.

Last Sat. Jim and the boys headed down to town for the farmer's market. The local farmers decided they didn't want to organize, so people just show up whenever and sell whatever they want. I guess some started selling at 7 a.m., but our family didn't set up until 8:30 or so. I am recounting this from what the guys have told me, since I was filling in for someone at the retreat center and worked there instead of going to the market. My contribution to the market was homemade raspberry jam. This was our very first farmer's market, and we were all anxious to see how it would go.

The boys brought their instruments along and played a bit of bluegrass. Our produce consisted of green beans, onions, celery, rhubarb, green peppers, carrots and a small amount of potatoes. I think everyone was pleased with what sold. I even made some money from the raspberry jam. We'll be doing it again this Sat. morning, and I just finished cleaning up the kitchen after cooking up a couple of batches of strawberry jam for the next farmer's market. Hopefully there will also be time to bake some yeast breads and also quick breads to see if they will sell. Maybe we should bring our not so little kittens back to try to give them away again this week. These 4 kittens were born in March, and so far no one has been interested in taking them. Now their mama is due again any day, and we will be taken over by cats! Unfortunately all 4 kittens are females, and with our one male cat we will be overloaded. I guess we need to work harder to find homes for them.

A week ago last Tues. the Turtle Mountain Boys played for a group of bicycle riders that settled into the local state park for the night. Every summer over 400 riders bike various parts of North Dakota, and this year they came through our scenic area. The boys were asked to perform their bluegrass music for an hour as after dinner entertainment. It was great they had the freedom to play both secular as well as gospel music. About a half hour into the concert the sound system died -- there was smoke coming out of the controls! The system belonged to a friend of ours and thankfully he was the one working the controls. I know he felt badly, but there was nothing that could be done. The boys just had to play a bit softer and try to sing a lot louder! This group of people were very attentive, and it was good exposure for the Turtle Mountain Boys. Afterward someone told us there is another group from the area that call themselves the same name, so I guess we'll have to figure out something else for the name of our group.

There's been quite a few people asking if we have chickens to sell. That has gotten Jonathan interested in working with broilers once again, so in the spring we will make another attempt to raise them for selling to area customers. Hopefully our raspberry bushes will do better next year as well.

A Scary Thought

I had to put on a sweater tonight, since it was becoming a bit chilly in here. I checked the local forecast, and this is what I discovered:

Mostly clear. Lows in the mid 40s. North winds 5 to 10 mph.
Mostly sunny. Highs in the upper 60s. Northwest winds 10 to 15 mph.

I do believe there's a touch of fall in the air.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Canning Season Has Begun!

It may be a late night tonight. This afternoon we discovered our bean patch had really popped with the hot, muggy weather, so we picked a ton of green beans and got started with the processing. By the time I go to bed tonight, we will have processed 42 quarts of beans! We still have canned beans from last year, but if our corn doesn't mature before our first frost we will be eating more beans, and I want to make sure we have enough for ourselves and company before we attempt to sell the rest.

I had my first jar casualty in the last batch ... Most of my jars have been purchased from local elderly ladies, and I must have used a jar that was past its prime. At least the bottom broke cleanly away from the rest of the jar and I didn't have shards of glass floating inside the canner along with beans. It has been so much fun to talk canning with the elderly ladies that answered my ad for jars; they are actually excited that someone would take up doing something like that. Most of them have asked me how large our garden is and what I plan to can. I also advertised for another gauge style pressure canner, and a lady that used to live up here in the hills called to say I could have hers for free. She said it probably needed a new seal and for the gauge to be recalibrated, since she hadn't used it since they moved to town about 10 years ago. This lady is 86 and her husband 92. I'm hoping to go visit her some day, but it may be after I find some breathing room in between canning sessions.

It's hard to believe that before moving to the country I hadn't canned anything but raspberry jam. The Lord has been so gracious in providing wonderful mentors from which to learn the various processes. Last year I asked Jim to help me through my first experience in pressure canning. He was very gracious and read the directions and walked me through the process. We learned together!
How wonderful it has been to just walk into the garden and pick out enough items to have a salad: Lettuce, cucumbers, a few tomatoes (if I get them before the chickens do!), green pepper, broccoli and zucchini. I must admit that during the Y2k time I attempted to grow a few items in the city, and one of those things was strawberries. I planted them in my front flower garden. The strange thing was once they started producing a few berries I decided I didn't want to eat them because they hadn't come from the store! In my mind, store bought items were superior to what I could grow. I think I figured my home grown produce might have bugs in them or something. What a change it has been for me! I am constantly amazed at how a small seed can produce so much. I was thinking about that this afternoon when picking green beans, because I noted how one seed produces a stalk that grows into a bush and ultimately produces a lot more seeds inside the bean pods.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Garden Flowers

Last spring Andrew and Peter went to work and created a picket fence for a backdrop for my rock garden, and it sure is a wonderful addition. All the flowers were grown from seed, which was done at our friend Paulette's place. She has southern facing windows, and plants thrive over there. I didn't grown many petunias this year, but it's probably just as well since it's been so hot and dry. The marigolds are doing just great.

This view shows how the garden is situated in relation to the house. Just around the corner is the door to our walk-in basement. We are still living down there. I am so thankful for the main part of the house that is shelled in but not insulated yet, because last year there was nothing up there and we almost cooked in the basement. All we had between us and the hot sun was plywood and rolled roofing. At least this year the structure above gives us great insulation.

Our Weather for Today

We aren't used to typical southern weather, but I guess we'll experience it whether we want to or not. Yesterday we closed up the house and lived like cave dwellers, and looks like today we'll do more of the same.

From the weather service:


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Taking a Break

I'm taking a break while waiting for some buns to raise. Won't take long, since it's very hot and humid today. No air conditioning for us, but just whatever breeze happens in through the window.

Jonathan, Peter and Andrew are over at our friend Paulette's, helping Steve with landscaping projects. This has been a tough day for David, since his best buddies aren't here for him to hang around with. Needless to say, Jim and I have been his source of excitement. I can hardly remember when we only had one son, and it must have been a different set of circumstances since David has had companionship his entire life, vs. what Jonathan knew as an only child. I kept David busy with picking raspberries, which is not his favorite job.

We may not be able to sell our raspberries after all, as we discovered they have what we think is gray mold. I checked the internet yesterday and that is what it looks like to me. The information stated the condition is a result of cool, wet conditions as the berries were forming. Well, we've had plenty of cool, cloudy, wet weather lately, so it doesn't surprise me. Our raspberries still taste great to me, and even if we don't sell them, we'll certainly enjoy plenty of homemade raspberry jam.

About a week ago the boys discovered our potato plants were infested with potato bugs! Yuck! Since then we've been trying different natural remedies, in the hopes we'll have a great potato crop in the fall. We've already dug up some very tasty new potatoes, and I have the boys hooked on their wonderful flavor. Last year almost all of our 1200 lbs. of potatoes were afflicted with scab, so this is a new twist. Hopefully the plants are far enough along that they will still produce for us.

We have been harvesting broccoli; I wasn't in favor of planting them since 2 years ago they ended up with lots of worms, but this year was a great year for the plant and we have really (at least I have!) enjoyed fresh broccoli. So far we've picked 4 ripe tomatoes, lots of peas, and the green beans are producing as well. Carrots are getting close to needing some thinning out. I didn't get much lettuce this year; it just didn't want to grow very well. I'm going to try planting a bit more before too long. I did pick 2 small zucchini this morning, and the boys thinned out our crop of mangle beets. The animals sure liked feasting on those things!

It looks like Jim did a good job with his air layering in some of the trees, as the branches turned into saplings are taking root. There are also branches that have been grafted onto crab apple root stock which will become apricot and other types of trees. These are also doing well. We discovered the deer (in spite of having 2 dogs) are eating what they can of our new cherry trees. Jonathan has been tenting near them, in the hopes the deer will stay away. Wish I could show you some photos, but we need to purchase a cleaner for the camera before we can do too much with it. My rose bushes are flowering, and they are beautiful! Maybe some day they can be transplanted to an area closer to the house. I didn't want anything in near proximity until construction is over.

Looks like I better get back to my dough. We have had company the past 2 weekends, and this weekend will make it 3 in a row. Sunday is the Bottineau Gospel Music Festival, and plenty of our friends will be attending. Hopefully our camera will be whipped into shape and I can include photos of the Turtle Mountain Boys and others who will be playing and singing.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Wonderful Story of God's Faithfulness

I just received an email from friends that I knew in my single days, when I was a part of a Christian ministry back in the 70's. It is so special that I thought I would share it with you.

Dear friends,

I am pleased to pass on a very special announcement to all of you.

Helen Arnseth, missionary to Madagascar and long-time staff member of Daystar is engaged to be married on September 8, 2007 to Olav Torvik in San Antonio, Texas!

She was engaged on June 28, 2007 to Olav, whom she has known since September 13, 1948. Olav and his wife Eunice served in Madagascar as missionaries along with Helen and Eunice was Helen's best friend during their years of ministry there.

Eunice passed away earlier this year after a 10 years struggle with several health issues. Olav voiced his loneliness to one of his daughters after Eunice passed away and she suggested that he consider getting married again. His daughter asked him who he would consider if he was to remarry and he said he would consider Helen first of all. So the rest is, as they say, history. Olav called Helen shortly after this conversation with his daughter and they have developed their relationship over the phone. It culminated when Helen went to San Antonio on June 20th to visit him and his children for 10 days.

Helen and Olav both speak Norwegian, French, English and Malagasy and Helen knows all five of his children well because of their time together in Madagascar.

As most of you may know, marriage has been a dream for Helen all her life so she is more than overjoyed at this unexpected turn of events. Olav is 88 years old and Helen is 85.

There will be a reception in the Minneapolis area for the newly weds in October for those who wish to rejoice with them ...

What an amazing and exciting story this has been. Rejoice with us and with Helen as she enters into the fulfillment of a life-long dream.

Blessings to you all

Larry Ballard

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Picture Post III

Dad and a kitty...
The barn, which is half painted as you see...
Andrew and David...
Peter with his homemade belt buckle
One of the moveable chicken coops...
the buckwheat
Tobacco, to be made into an herbal pesticide...
Our tallest corn...
Whooops, another Andrew and David picture. I know from experience that if I delete it, blogger will delete the rest of this post's pictures and I'll have to redo so I will leave it up.
Jonathan, for Lynn, until she posts :-)

Picture Post II

Hoop house...
Strawberries, and the asparagus to the left
Some of the raspberries

Picture Post

Herb/flower garden
carrots, peas, tomatoes, peppers, celery, beans in the background...
Another angle.
the corn and potatoes.