Friday, May 25, 2007

Rain and Cold

We are so thankful for the rain that came this week ... Many of the storm clouds passed us by, but we did manage to squeak out a good start for precipitation. I didn't even complain (much) when the mud started to find its way into the house.

Today there was a break in the weather, and we all trooped out to the raspberry field to start weeding. The farthest end of the field seems to be the toughest to get to when it comes to weeding, so we started over there. I think it took me 2-1/2 hours just to weed and clean out one row of raspberry bushes! The boys assured me all of the rows aren't that bad. We uprooted quite a bit of stinging nettle, and didn't even think about saving it to eat. I guess I'm not yet a die hard homesteader.

It was great for all of us to be out there in the garden. All 4 of the boys have been sick this week with varying degrees of flu/cold symptoms. Thankfully, Jim and I have been spared. The longer we worked out there the colder it became, and soon it felt more like fall than spring. Now I find out the weather forecasters are predicting snow flurries for after midnight! I am very thankful we were too busy to plant all of our vegetables when the weather was balmy, or we would really be in trouble now.

Jim purchased another queen bee and workers, and they arrived yesterday. Unfortunately, the cold weather last night did them in. I just shake my head sometimes at how much we have to learn about farming, gardening, bees, animals, building, canning, etc., etc. I keep reminding myself how each incident is a learning experience, and some day we will look back and marvel at how much we have gained in knowledge.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Another Catching Up Post

I know I'm supposed to be writing about our first experiences with homesteading, but so much is going on in the present that I need to write those things down as well. I must admit to incorrectly thinking before we moved that country life was going to be a slower pace of living, but I was very wrong. I feel like sometimes I can hardly catch my breath!

Our friend Steve had organized a Country Living Skills Workshop for Sunday, May 13. This time the topic was planting, pruning, and general care of trees and bushes. The whole event was taped, so if you are interested, I'm sure Steve could eventually get you a copy. Our family has obtained a state nursery license, and Steve traveled to Minneapolis to pick up this year's trees, bushes and flowers that had been ordered. Friends had purchased some of the trees and planned to come up to attend the workshop, and decided to come a day early so we could have some great fellowship. Seven families and some singles got together for a shared meal and Bible study.

On Sunday our friends the Dagleys came over before lunch to help transplant some strawberry and raspberry plants. Many hands definitely make the work load lighter! The guys also worked on planting trees and bushes that hadn't sold, but would be used later on to create more trees and bushes. I don't remember all the things that are now in a part of our gardens, but they include roses, lilacs, hazelnut bushes, juneberry bushes, and different varieties of apple trees. Steve did a good job of showing us the proper way of planting trees, and Jim did a section on air layering. This part of the workshop was done down by our old Norwegian cabin; there is a crab apple tree over there that was planted by the people who once lived in the cabin. The trouble was the tree was surrounded by overgrown caragana bushes, so we had to climb through them in order to see what Jim was going to do with air layering. Needless to say, I lost count at how many wood ticks I removed from my clothes and skin! They seem to be the worst they have been since moving up here. (For some reason, even after removing the tick our family has been experiencing the bite area swelling and becoming very itchy, and it takes a few days for it to go back to normal. Our youngest looks like his legs are covered with mosquito bites, when in reality it is from the ticks.)

We had one more incident that day which made it very memorable. Our boys thought it would be a good time to play something called "Prison Ball," so one of our boys decided the hose that was wrapped around the pump's tank in the bathroom area would make a good boundary line. The hose was a bit tangled and he was in a hurry, so he gave the hose a jerk. Unfortunately, the hose was attached to a fitting and when it was pulled it snapped off the pump's pressure switch! I was in the house at the time in the kitchen area, and heard a very large WHOOSH! sound, so I ran back and found my son trying to hold back a geyser of water! The water was shooting upward, soaking everything in the bathroom area. If it weren't for the quilts that make up the walls, the entire basement and its contents would have been soaked as well. I didn't know how to shut the thing off, so I ran out to get Jim, and he managed to pull the breaker switch. What a mess! Since it was a Sunday afternoon we couldn't get a new pressure switch, so we were without water until later Monday morning. I certainly had a mound of dishes to do after the water came back on!

I spent last Tuesday and Wednesday helping to open up Metigoshe Ministries' summer camp. Another lady and I spent our time cleaning up the kitchen and walk-in cooler areas. Their dishwasher was having problems, so after a morning of "wash, rinse, sanitize," we hauled the remaining dishes to their ministry center and finished the job in the big dishwasher. Hopefully by now they have the problem solved.

On Thursday morning we had an early call from the post office, asking us to come down and pick up our chicks. Along with the 20 or so hatched from our own eggs, we added another 65 to the bunch. No Cornish Cross this year, but the boys chose more of the traditional varieties of chicken to raise. So far so good, with only 2 deaths.

I had an enjoyable time on Friday, taking Andrew downtown with me to pick up groceries and other necessities. I hadn't been to town for ages, and it felt good to get away for a couple of hours. One of our stops was the local hardware store to buy a 3/4 inch dowel. Well, we found everything but 3/4 inch dowels! The store is located in a very old building, and the basement is full of lots of interesting things for a young boy to check out. We must have been down there for 45 minutes, and not once did a clerk come down to see what we were doing. Didn't buy anything, but had fun looking.

We had more company on Saturday, when the Hendersons brought back our trailer after using it to haul their new apple trees home. We had a very cold weekend with not much rain (not complaining, though we really need rain). There sure was a lot of thunder, but not much rain. Someone told us it is good to have thunder and lightning in the spring since it promotes growth, and I hope that makes up for the small amount of rain we received. The men and boys still managed to get in some interesting target practice -- dangling eggs by a string and attempting to shoot them. What a way to check for rotten eggs! Hendersons have 5 boys with a baby on the way, and we have 4 boys, so there was a lot of camouflage running around the farmstead.

Today was a quiet day, so there was time to finally get a post done.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Read This Before Deciding to Homestead

We had one of those interesting days today ... I am pulling wood ticks from my clothes as I write, so you know it's been "one of those days."

The day started out fairly normal for everyone. We had a call from town to let us know the trees we ordered were in, so Jim and Peter headed to town to pick up our trees and bushes that we purchased for a dollar each. Jonathan planted onions, garlic and carrots and vacuumed at the ministry center. I spent my time doing washing clothes, hanging them on the clotheslines and making meals. The interesting part of the day began close to suppertime.

A family stopped by to pick up our only male puppy (still looking for homes for 3 more), and I had just gotten back into the house when we heard a big POP! I thought I smelled something weird, so immediately thought about a problem with electricity and the incubator. Sure enough it was the incubator -- but AN EGG HAD EXPLODED!! I haven't smelled that since chemistry class in high school! We got that thing cleaned out, aired out the house, and proceeded with supper.

All of a sudden our chicken killing dog named Selah started barking like crazy, so we knew something was afoot. Sure enough, one of the piglets Jim and the boys brought home last night had gotten out. I didn't think that was worthy of going down to chase, so I went out to get my towels off the line. Our oldest cat ambled over, rubbed on my laundry basket full of clean linens -- and sprayed it! Now that made me mad, and he knew it! He may not be around much longer.

It was quite interesting to watch the pig chase. After a couple of misses, Jim was able to dive for her and grabbed her before she got away again. Then we realized the other piglet had disappeared while we were concentrating on the other one! Since no one had watched her escape, we didn't know where to look. Jim unleashed our dog Selah, and she went to work. Turns out the 2nd piglet hadn't gone too far, and the boys were able to grab that one as well. They sure can squeal! Instead of helping to catch the 2nd piglet, I grabbed the chicken killer dog and had her collar in one hand while holding 2 fresh chicken eggs in the other and headed for the house. Needless to say, by the time we got everyone settled down we were all covered in wood ticks. Thankfully the mosquitoes haven't been out in full force as of yet.

Life can get rather exciting on the farm.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

New Blogger

Our son Andrew has just begun a new blog. You can find it here.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Our Newest Addition

Please check out our son Peter's blog to see photos of some of our animals.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Our newest goat kid died about midnight last night. We tried feeding her colostrum with an eyedropper and she was swallowing it, but I think there must have been something wrong with her at birth. She was much smaller than the other kid. Now we have to figure out what to do with our newest kids, since 2 of the 3 born to 2 does were bucks.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Must Be Farm Life

We did something tonight that I didn't think I would ever do: Brought a newborn goat kid into the house. She was born earlier this evening, and was so weak that the mom just left it and concentrated on the healthy one. We waited a bit to see if she would go back and clean up the weak one, but finally we brought the kid into the house to dry it off and see what we could do. The boys have attempted to milk the mom for colostrum and then are feeding it to the kid with an eyedropper. So far she is still alive, but I wonder what will happen during the night. The plan is to take turns so that every hour someone will milk the mom for some colostrum and feed it to the kid.

We also have a bird hatchery in here ... Every time the boys found an egg they would bring it into the house and place it in the incubator, so these eggs are all hatching at different times. So far we have 3 fully fluffed out chicks, and another one is soon to emerge from another egg. There are quite a few left in there, and the incubator is starting to emit a nasty odor. I am wondering if there is a rotten one, but the boys tried candling a couple of nights ago and thought they had removed all the bad ones.

The puppies will be 6 weeks old on Friday, and today Peter went to town with Jim with updated posters for town. The kittens will be 5 weeks on Friday as well, and we may have one spoken for already.

Somehow we lost a female turkey today. The boys were going to figure out a pen for the 2 males and 3 females, but couldn't find one female. We are hoping she is nesting somewhere and did not meet the same fate as one other one we had. This spring we found a pile of feathers in the woods, so something must have gotten her.

I guess this is what you call farm life!