Monday, August 31, 2009

Reminiscing -- It's Been Five Years

It was 5 years ago today that the Bartletts pulled up their roots in Fargo, ND and headed for the wilds of North Dakota's Turtle Mountains. We had no prior experience in living in a rural area, no house building experience, no outhouse experience, no experience with animals -- just a desire to get our family out of the city and into the country, where our boys could grow and learn many new things. This was the classified ad that Jim submitted to the Bottineau weekly newspaper, called the Courant.

We received two phone calls, and one turned out to be the owner of the land that we soon called our own.

We packed all of our earthly possessions into an old semi trailer that we purchased, borrowed our friends the Kenney's trailer, and got ready to move.

Our poor car was so packed that it barely made it out of the driveway ...

... And moved into a 1970's vintage pop-up camper, complete with bright orange sink and avocado and orange flowered upholstery. No electricity, water or sewer. We made good use of our state park permit, traveling to the state park every 3 to 4 days to replenish our jugs of water and take showers.

All we had was a thatched roof hut in the woods, with a wall on one side for protection, and a bucket enclosed by a box and toilet cover.

Our friends the Kenneys managed to come up for visits that fall, and helped to keep us encouraged in the Lord. My brother Mark also arrived, helping to enclose the basement walls and roof.

The concrete work was done by some time in October, and the rest was up to us. Talk about a crash course in housing construction! I think Jim worked with a manual in one hand and a hammer in the other.

David (5), Andrew (8), Peter (10) and Jonathan (12).

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Scents of Summer

Earlier today I walked over to the clothes lines to hang up some laundry, and caught the scent of our billy goat, John. The name he was given before we purchased him was Big Bad John, but he is more along the lines of a rather timid goat. He can appear rather crabby because of the size of his horns, but is rather mild mannered.

One of our does must be in heat because I caught the smell of John way up by the clothes lines. I sure hope our clothes don't absorb the smell! Bucks certainly have a strange way of attempting to attract the ladies.

Last week Peter was working on painting the barn and came in smelling just like John. We made him take a shower! I sure hope John cleans himself up soon. We keep him staked out down by the lake, but even our strong winds haven't helped deodorize him.

Peter does the milking, and here he is milking my favorite goat, Leah. Not all of the goats are as easy to milk as she is.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Canning Days

Today is my first attempt of the season at canning tomatoes. The only ones that are ready are the ones we grew in our hoop house, since they had an early start as compared to the other plants in the field. I think in total the boys planted 300 plants!

David helped me by using the blender to juice the tomatoes. The guys in the house (which means all of them) don't care for chunks of tomato in their food, so I just can juice. I got everything ready and started heating the canner, when all of a sudden there was a flood on top of the stove. Oh no! My canner had sprung a leak, and there was water everywhere. Apparently the canner finally rusted through.

I was glad that during the process of purchasing canning jars from area ladies some of them would throw in the rest of their canning paraphernalia -- such as water bath canners. I have three more in storage, so I pulled one out and am starting the process once again.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Our Appleseed Project Weekend

Our Appleseed Project weekend went very well. Most people arrived Friday night, since registration started at 8:30 Saturday morning.

Saturday morning was quite chilly, so Jim started a small fire to warm people up. We had families from Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota.
Jonathan and Peter qualified as Rifleman while attending an Appleseed weekend last May, so this time they were Instructors in Training. Both wore the orange caps.

Alex drove 12 hours to be the shoot boss; he came from Iowa.

Jacob, Caleb, Andrew and David were waiting for Appleseed to begin.

Everyone participating the two days of the shoot were given Appleseed t-shirts.

Chris demonstrated the use of a sling.

Getting ready to shoot.

David and Andrew on the line.

Back at the ranch there were non-shooters raiding the raspberry bushes!

Peter, in his Instructor in Training cap.

A family rooting for Mom to do well in the shoot.

David and Andrew shooting.

Sunday was much warmer than Saturday, and it felt great to seek a shady spot to listen to Alex's history of April 19, 1775 at Lexington and Concord.

Andrew used our lawnmower to cut the word, "APPLESEED" into the hillside.

A photo of the site, which took place in our big field. Good thing our neighbor was finished with haying!
Checking to see how well the round went.

This is a photo of what the targets looked like.

Even ladies were involved in the weekend!

Our barefoot Instructor in Training.

Instructors in Training Chris, Peter and Jonathan.

This weekend was a good one for learning history, renewing friendships and meeting new friends. I would recommend the Appleseed Project to any and every family.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Short Post

In less than a week we went from picking and selling raspberries, to ...

Butchering chickens in cold weather (all 170 of them!), to ...

Harvesting and canning green beans (70 quarts yesterday!), to ...

Getting ready for our Appleseed Project weekend.

As you can see, life is busy around here.
I'll try to post after our big weekend.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Second Swarm

I started working on this post the day after the last one, and just couldn't get it finished.

Below are some photos of the second swarm of bees that Jim captured on the same day as the other one! The two new hives are still doing well, and we are thankful for the tripling of our bee population.

The tree was located in the same vicinity as our original hives.

The boys stayed a respectful distance away -- no sense getting stung.

Peter took this photo of the swarming bees.

Jim cut off the branch and brushed the bees into another bee box.
We are so busy with raspberries that it's difficult to find time to work on another blog entry, but I will try to do it soon.