Saturday, March 31, 2007

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Part VII: Inspection Time

Grandma and Grandpa Wagman drove all the way from northern Minnesota for a visit in October 2004. This was their first visit, so they were given the grand tour. They probably saw more than they wanted to see! Jim always loved to show people around our homestead. The basement was finally enclosed, and the door was set in place.

Notice our front stoop! It's amazing what one can do with wooden pallets. Notice also the mud ... It clung to everything, and the inside concrete floor was a mess. Grandma and Grandpa just happened to visit after a period of rain, and the mud was very slippery. The driveway (which was just a cattle path) was so slick that only a 4 wheel drive vehicle could make it in.

All it took was a walk to cause a person to grow about 3 inches from the mud clinging to their shoes. It was terrible! Of course, it was just one more fun thing for the boys.

This photo is the back of Metigoshe Ministries, where we were living at the time. While my parents were visiting, Jim headed to Minot (about 1-1/2 hours from here) to buy supplies and parts at Menard's. He also came back with my new kitchen stove firmly attached to the roof of the car. It's amazing what you can do without a truck or trailer!

Grandpa helped with the electrical work needed to install our water heater. We were preparing for an electrician to finish with the hook up of various things so the state building inspector could make his inspection. Grandpa had some very special apprentices.

The electrician had quite an audience!

Jim would set up his laptop and work in the corner of the basement. As you can see, things were moved into the basement, but nothing was set up. I would stay at the retreat center and make meals, then bring them over to feed the family. Our days were full.

Jim felt we couldn't afford to install a septic system, so our bucket with the toilet seat came out of the woods and into the basement -- behind the refrigerator.

We did not have a very good experience with the state building inspector. He wasn't happy that we were going to spend the winter in our basement, and seemed to get upset at any little thing that wasn't what the code required: No outside light, not enough outlets, etc. He was also not happy that Jim and the boys did most of the wiring themselves. Finally after being overly critical, he calmed down and sat at the table and discussed various items with Jim. By the time he left we discovered that he could actually be quite decent. I guess it was a lesson to the boys that "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Proverbs 15:1)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Doing Chores

Jim and the boys left this morning to head to some friends' farm about 3-1/2 hours from here. They will be back tomorrow, and their main reason for going was to pick up more goats. I guess they will bring back 2 pregnant does and a buck. We lost our buck in January, and also lost a doe. I sure hope our remaining adult doe and 2 kids will remain healthy and not pass anything to the new goats.

Since I am the only one home, I am holding down the fort with taking care of the puppies (actually I am keeping Selah the mom from getting into trouble while in the house) and doing the chores. This has been good for me, since I am usually doing something else while the boys are out taking care of the animals. It felt great to get out early this morning to receive directions from our very capable sons, and then in the afternoon to check on the egg laying business.

I found 6 eggs in and under the nesting boxes. However, our rooster has decided to become ornery and seems bent on attacking me! The other day I collected eggs and was surprised when he jumped on my leg. This time it was out and out warfare on both of our parts. I don't know what one is supposed to do with an attacking rooster, but I hit him with a branch until he quit. I guess this means we've become enemies, since he did it again tonight when I was checking everything in the shed and putting the turkeys away for the night. He leaves the cats and goats alone, but apparently I am a threat to him. Our poor hens are also taking a beating, since at least 3 of them have feathers on their backs pulled out. I would gladly push for butchering him, but he is the only rooster we have and are hoping they will produce chicks later in the spring. I guess doing chores tomorrow will be another "wonderful" experience.

Even though it was rather cool and windy today, it was nice to be outside instead of working on things in the house. Our German Shepherd named Samson walked me down the 1/4 mile of very muddy driveway and begged me to throw rocks so he could go retrieve them. Whenever our son Peter is gone he becomes my buddy and does everything he can to get me to play with him. I love dogs, so it doesn't take much!We saw lots and lots of geese heading back into Canada, and noted that it won't be long before the ice is off the lake.

Our dog Selah is the one that just had 5 puppies. She reminds me so much of what I was like as a first time mom: very uptight and nervous. I never knew puppies this young could make so much noise ... All she has to do is step out of her whelping box and they immediately start whining and yelping for her. She then is so torn about going outside or even to get a drink of water. I hope she learns to relax soon, or she will wear herself out. That crazy dog still has her intense desire to go for our chickens and turkeys, so I have to stand outside any time she goes out and make sure she leaves them alone. Maybe she could take that rooster and knock him down a few pegs! Just kidding, I think we still need him.

I am looking forward to sunny, warm days, and planting in the garden. I was offered a parttime job recently, and it was very tempting to take it. However, it is my desire to work with our family here on our homestead instead of spending hours away from everyone. There are a lot of things afoot on our farm, and I want to be a part of it. Our older boys are talking about using a garden plot to grow vegetables for sale. That will take up quite a bit of their time, so I will be needed to work in our areas of the garden. I can't imagine what it will be like to be picking raspberries from 600 plants! At the rate the boys eat homemade raspberry jam, we'll need every berry we produce! I have a feeling, though, there will be plenty left over for others.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Movie by Andrew

We are trying to figure out why Andrew's movie isn't working .. Stay tuned, and we'll have it fixed!

Exciting News!

Our dog Selah delivered 5 healthy, chubby black puppies. They are so cute! Selah is such a good mother. We knew last night she was beginning the early stages of labor, as she couldn't settle down and was doing a lot of panting.

Our son Jonathan built Selah a whelping box; we had trouble getting her to stay in there, but when the time came she headed straight for the box to deliver her puppies. It didn't take very long before all 5 were delivered.

I wish I could show you some photos, but Selah is mostly black and so are the puppies so it doesn't make for clear, sharp pictures. It's been a bit tough to get anything done around here, since I love puppies almost as much as I love babies!

If anyone is looking for an interesting breed of dog -- look no farther. These puppies are 1/2 German Shepherd, 1/4 Border Collie, 1/8 Blue Heeler, and 1/8 American Eskimo.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

First Day of Spring!

The boys reminded me that today was the first day of spring, but around here it's mud season. I am planning to continue writing about our adventures with moving up here and starting our homestead, and the next installment is partially about the mud. More about that later.

I think the last time I wrote I mentioned that one of our goats was very sick. Well, she died the next day. That was over 2 weeks ago, and we have tried our best to do what we could with natural remedies to keep our remaining adult doe and 2 kids healthy. This morning the doe was experiencing diarrhea, and I sure hope the family we bought the goats from is correct in saying it could be a result of detoxifying. We'll just have to wait and see.

Our dog Selah is due to give birth soon. This is a new thing to our family, and I hope everyone is around to watch the birth. Selah is kind of a high strung dog, and I hope she does okay with everything. I have been worrying about her, as I see how tough it is for her to get around these days. Guess I remember all too well how it felt the last week of my pregnancies!

We spent an afternoon last week planting seeds at friend's house. She has a wonderful low cement wall solar collector which is perfect for the seed trays. The house faces south, and plants grow like crazy over there. I look forward to the day we can start seeds in our own home. Jim was checking various catalogs for the plastic we need to cover our hoop house; we didn't completely take off the plastic last year since we wanted some protection from the elements for our garden tools and made a small shed with it where the plants weren't growing, and the sun weakened the plastic. I think we are looking for a higher grade of plastic that won't be bothered as much by the sun.

Hopefully the next time I post it will be back to the book!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Home from Convention

Life has been a whirlwind lately. We left a week ago Tuesday to prepare to testify at a House legislative committee regarding allowing grandparents to homeschool their grandchildren. What a fiasco! I don't understand all of what happened, but apparently the legislative council goofed somehow and the state's homeschool bill went from about 6 pages to 7 lines! In order to work on the bill for grandparents they first had to reintroduce the whole homeschooling bill. Even the legislative branch seems to not know what they are doing! One particular legislator was very hostile to homeschooling in general, and we left knowing some bad things could happen to our bill.

Our drive to Fargo was anything but peaceful, since a big winter storm was brewing. I was glad I wasn't driving, but it was also tough to just sit there and pray for safety. We were also pulling a trailer, and I wondered at times if we could make it up some of the hills on the interstate. Needless to say, we were very thankful to finally hit town and get unpacked.

Thursday was crazy. We were supposed to get set up for the convention, but instead a lot of the day was trying to figure out how to deal with weather related items. Thankfully, Skeet Savage, her daughter Mercy and son Israel Wayne had flown in on Wed., so they were ready to roll. Unfortunately, Steve Demme of Math-U-See had gotten as far as Chicago, and made the decision to fly back home. Even the recording company from Kentucky got as far as Iowa City and had to turn back. That meant no taping for the convention! John Mesko (Good Farmer John) had also gotten snowed in back in Minnesota, and may even still be snowed in.

As if one storm wasn't enough, there was a temporary lull and then another blast of blizzard conditions hit the area. We ended up with about 1/3 of the people that normally attend the homeschool convention when it is held in Fargo. We still felt people were ministered to, and that made all the hassles worthwhile. The Lord's will for the convention was accomplished.

This week we are working on getting back to normal -- whatever normal is! The first order of business was to shovel out from the storms. Thankfully the snowplow had come in and cleared our driveway, and friends shovelled a path from the top of our hill to the door of the basement so we didn't have to wade through 3 feet deep snow while unloading our car. The weather is supposed to make a drastic change by the weekend, and we'll be into the 40's. This time it is above zero!

We are still having goat problems, though. One of our does was down again when the boys went to do chores this morning, so we spent a good part of the day working on her. By tonight she was up and eating well, and we hope to keep her that way. I'm so thankful it didn't happen while we had friends watching our animals. We should have kittens and puppies by the end of the month, and this will be very interesting!

The Hills (as locals refer to our area) aren't quite as hillbillyish as they used to be ... Two nights ago we received a call from a neighbor to let us know that someone had stolen a truck with a trailer, and when they drove on our gravel road had gotten them stuck. Instead of just leaving them, they burned the truck and trailer, and left nails and other construction materials strewn across the gravel road. After a call to another of our neighbors who didn't know anything about this event, I received a call back with further information. Apparently the truck and trailer had been stolen in Fargo and driven all the way up here. So far the culprits have not been apprehended. We have to get back to the scene of the crime and get the nails, etc. off the road so we don't end up with flat tires when we head out that way.

Back to our homeschool bill. Today the committee took up the bill once again -- and didn't tell us they were going to do it. All we asked for was to allow grandparents to homeschool their grandchildren, and this is what the attached amendment would do (and they took out the provision for grandparents to be able to homeschool their grandchildren!):

1. A mom without a college degree could avoid being monitored by the local school district if she took the national teacher's exam; the amendment would change that to "the pre-professional skills test".
2. Required testing was originally set for children in grades 4,6,8, and 10; the amendment would change that to grades 3, 4, 6, 8 and 11.
3. Testing can be either the state assessment test or a nationally normed state achievement test.
4. This amendment would require parents to pay all testing costs.
5. It will be the "grade level proficiency score of the state assessment test" that will be used to determine extension of monitoring or evaluation for learning difficulties -- just as the 30th% and the 50th% of the nationally normed tests are used.
6. Instead of "basic composite score" it now reads "composite score" or "score", depending on which line of the bill you read. In reference to remedial plan, it also reads, "every subject tested..."
7. A new section reads, in part: "Violation of chapter - Penalty . If the superintendent of public instruction determines, after a hearing ... that the child's parent has violated a provision of this chapter ... the ... school district ... monitor the parent for a period of one year. If the parent is already being monitored ... extend the monitoring ... for a period of one additional year. The child's parent is responsible for the cost of any monitoring required by this section".

I say all this to say -- North Dakota has the reputation at Home School Legal Defense as being the most restrictive state in the country for homeschooling laws. This takes the cake.