Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Signs of Spring

The sun has moved and at the moment is rising through this particular group of trees.

Calliope has shed most of her winter hair -- with the exception of her legs. The goat kids love playing with her tail.

Jonathan transplanted quite a few tomatoes into cell packs. My petunias are even starting to show up.

We had a massive amount of geese flying overhead today. I was so glad David called to have me come out to take a look. We must be in a flyway.

The geese just kept coming and coming.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Sunrise over the Interstate. I took this photo from our hotel room in Fargo during the North Dakota Home School Convention a little over a week ago.

Sunrise over the hoop house ... Taken just a few days ago by Andrew.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Our Trip to Fargo

It's hard to believe it's been a little over a week since part of our family headed to Fargo to attend the North Dakota Home School convention.

We had a very busy time of preparation, and then the day we were to leave the Bartlett Family had to play for Bottineau's Marketplace for Kids at the local college. I recorded some of it, but the children talked through most of their playing so it didn't turn out very well.

The guys played for approximately 20 minutes, and then played the Star Spangled Banner. I thought they did a great job.

This was the scene that greeted us in Fargo ... Lots and lots of water. We drove around our old neighborhood and then checked out the Red River. I'm sad to say our old house has not been taken care of; someone must have driven into the garage door, and they cut down my beautiful rose bush!

The National Guard was very busy with traffic control and helping with the building of dikes.

The Salvation Army was doing a wonderful job of providing meals for people who were sandbagging.
We stayed with a very close friend of mine, and the next morning Jim and I had to be up at 4:00 a.m. in order to get Jim to the airport in time to check in and then fly to Washington, D.C. for a Home School Legal Defense legislative forum. I felt a bit glassy eyed as I drove back to our friend's house and my sleeping boys. David and Andrew made the trip to Fargo, but Jonathan and Peter stayed behind to care for the animals.

I was very thankful to have the opportunity to visit our old neighbor, Mrs. Nelson. She will turn 103 in April! She is an amazing woman. In spite of not seeing Andrew and David for 3 years, she called both of them by name and gave us all big hugs. What a special lady. Not quite 2 years ago she moved to assisted living.

Mrs. Nelson took us on a grand tour of the facility, and then treated us at the coffee shop. We had a great time visiting!

Mrs. Nelson has a computer in the lounge area on her floor, and the boys showed her our family's farm web site. She was very interested in learning how to use the computer to check us out. I wish we would have had more time to give her a better lesson. Hopefully someone else will show her how to find our website again.

Thanks, Mrs. Nelson, for such a special visit! It was the highlight of our trip to Fargo!

That evening our friend Bonnie and her faithful friend Dora took us to the Pizza Ranch for supper with Bonnie's parents. It was a lot of fun, and the pizza was great! After supper we went over to Bonnie's parent's apartment and learned to play Zion Check. We all enjoyed the evening.

Thursday night the opening event of the home school convention was the used book sale/small business sale. Andrew spent much of the fall and winter crafting various guns out of wood, and had neat display holders for them. He even created individual carrying boxes for each gun. He didn't sell as many as he would have liked, but was satisfied with his profits.
I neglected to get a photo of David's trucks and a ship he had made and was selling and had made out of wood.

Some of the larger items Andrew had made, and the boxes of handguns he created.

Thursday afternoon during setup I met with my friend Marie, and we talked farming, healthy eating and cheese making. She took me out to their van, where she gave me a dry run of how to make farmhouse cheddar cheese. She is a great teacher, and I hope to have an opportunity soon to try her recipe.

Marie is very ingenious, and created this cheese press.

Kevin Swanson was the keynote speaker for the convention. I was impressed with his topics, and was encouraged as well as challenged.
Buddy Davis from Answers in Genesis was also a speaker at the convention, and did workshops for the children and also had a concert for us on Friday evening. North Dakota encourages families to bring their children to convention.
We were anxious to get back home to relieve Peter and Jonathan from some of their duties. They did great, and Peter spent lots of time with many gallons of milk -- making Mozzarella cheese. He offers his recipe on his blog .

Friday, March 26, 2010

Happy 19th, Jonathan!

There is a lot to write about, but first of all I wanted to tell my #1 son Jonathan -- Happy Birthday!
Birthday brownies for supper! The candles were arranged by David.
All of my earlier photos are still in a friend's closet in Fargo, so photos from our earliest times here in the Turtle Mountains will have to suffice.
In the above photo the boys are showing me how tall they grew just from walking through the mud! David (5), Jonathan (13) and Peter (10).
Jonathan became quite the carpenter, using our house as his first experience with building.

Yum! Grilled raccoon! We all took one bite, agreed it "tasted like chicken," and gave the rest to the dog.

Jonathan and Jim working on the skinning of a raccoon, back in the "good old days."

Jonathan advertising his new blog, "The Poultry Journal." By the way, we are now getting approximately 20 eggs per day!

Jonathan is from a Hebrew word meaning “God gave.” And God gave us a blessing. We love you lots!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sun-Shiny Day!

We finally had a sunny day today, with temperatures in the low 40's. Beautiful! At this rate, we won't have snow for much longer. Andrew took a stroll around the farmstead and took the photos below.

Our view from the basement door toward the barns -- and my clotheslines!

The path down to the barns is now a mini river. Hopefully it will dry up before we have another freeze or it will be a bit tricky to get to the animals.

Over the weekend we had 7 goat kids born to 4 mothers. One didn't make it, but the rest are doing very well. The weak one spent overnight last night in the house. It was amazing to me how her voice sounded just like a small child's voice.

It's a good thing it has been above freezing at night, since the mamas and their kids have taken over Sandy the cow's area in the barn.

I thought this one was especially cute! One of the mamas parked her kids right in front of the hay feeder, and fought off anyone else attempting to eat. So, the boys had to move things around a bit, and then things were fine.

Jonathan's laying hens enjoying some of the sun's rays.
All has not been rosy, however. This warm weather has greatly sped up the melting process down in the Fargo, ND area, and flooding is beginning to happen. I know of one family that already has a moat of water surrounding their house.
This is an article from today's Fargo newspaper, the Fargo Forum:
FARGO/CASS: Walaker: Tough week lies ahead
Fargo and Cass County officials rallied Sunday to speed up flood protection plans in light of a new forecasted Red River level of 38 feet by next weekend.

By: Mila Koumpilova, INFORUM

Fargo and Cass County officials rallied Sunday to speed up flood protection plans in light of a new forecasted Red River level of 38 feet by next weekend.
Some county residents south of Fargo spent the day immersed in flood preparations, to which the most recent forecast lent renewed momentum.

“We’re going to have a tough week,” Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker said Sunday. “We’ll be going 24 hours a day for the next seven to 10 days.”

Officials worked Sunday on plans to start delivering sandbags to Fargo’s most vulnerable neighborhoods, deploy alternative flood protection equipment and ratchet up sandbag-making operations today.

Fargo, Cass and state officials will resume hosting daily 8 a.m. televised flood meetings today at Fargo City Hall. The meetings also can be heard on WDAY AM 970 and by clicking on the station’s radio stream on

“In some ways, our attitude is similar to what happened last year,” Fargo City Administrator Pat Zavoral said Sunday. “We don’t have a really long time.”
The city will start delivering the roughly 750,000 sandbags already available to neighborhoods today, beginning with Harwood, Hackberry Drive South and River Vili. The city will need volunteers to construct sandbag dikes and continue filling sandbags at “Sandbag Central,” where hours will be extended from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. starting today. Volunteers should call (701) 476-4000 for directions.

The city will also ask the National Guard, area colleges and high schools for people to help build dikes.
“It’s going to be a scramble, no question about it,” Walaker said. “Trying to get ready for 38 feet is doable, but we were hoping to have a little more time.”

Cass County jumped into high gear Sunday as well.
“We have a lot to get done between now and the weekend,” said Sheriff Paul Laney. “It’s like last year all over again. But this time, we’re much better prepared.”

The county will work on erecting sandbag and clay levees this week. The Cass County Emergency Operation Center will start taking calls at 7 a.m. today at (701) 297-6000.
The county will also activate its emergency response teams starting Tuesday, including its boat response and rescue team on Wednesday.

“People need to realize it’s here,” Laney said. “It’s here. It’s here today. If you need to protect your home, the time is now.”

County inmates have filled 20,000 sandbags. The county has worked out an agreement with the city to use one of its sandbag-making machines today.

“It will be 24/7 until we’re done,” Laney said.

Halder Thompson was raring to get a head-start on this year’s flood fight long before Sunday.
A resident of Forest River Road south of Fargo, he checked with the county about lining up sandbag supplies three weeks ago. He moved most furniture to a rented storage unit. On Friday, he checked with the county again: Sandbags would be available today.
The new forecast made it especially hard to stay idle Sunday. Working on a dike would have kept anxious memories at bay: the three sleepless days at the height of last year’s flood fight, and the three weeks he missed from work.

“It’s building up, the tension,” he said. “You don’t sleep at night.”
South on Cossette Drive along a swollen Wild Rice River, Joe and Wanda Omodt decided against waiting for county-issued bags and sand. They bought their own and hosted a dozen friends and family over the weekend to build a 3,000-bag dike.

“You kind of have to work when you have help available,” Wanda said. “We feel like we’ve got a good start.”

“We hope our time has been wasted,” Joe added.
Please pray for the area, and especially for all the people affected by the flooding.
This weekend is also North Dakota's annual home school convention -- held in Fargo.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Foggy Days

I've lost track of how many dreary, foggy days we've had lately.

Here's an article from today's Fargo, ND Forum newspaper:

BISMARCK (AP) — Fog is becoming commonplace in parts of North Dakota, and even meteorologists think it's strange.
Fog was reported in Bismarck on 54 of the first 68 days of the year. On 17 days the fog was considered "dense."
The National Weather Service doesn't keep records on fog, but meteorologist Nathan Heinert says officials think this year's fog is unusual.
Heinert says the constant gray curtain hanging over the area is the result of a stagnant air mass and constant melting, which puts moisture in low levels of the atmosphere.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

We are all looking forward to a nice sunny day!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mud Season

MUD. We are already having mud season. I suppose things will cool down again, but that means a second mud season when it actually warms up for good this time. What a mess!

The boys have said the car may make it out of the driveway, but not back up. So, the truck will be our mode of transportation until things freeze again.
We have plans to change our driveway a bit, so the entrance begins at a higher spot of ground. Today the man who agreed to do the work stopped by (we were surprised at a knock on the door this afternoon, since we didn't think anyone would chance trying to get up the hill), and said it was too foggy to take measurements. He will come back another day.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

What's Been Happening

Jim has been busy installing a couple of windows in what will be our main floor kitchen. Makes the area so much brighter!

It will be so great to see above ground, rather than at ground level. The stove will be under the left window, the sink under the right window.

Jonathan has been working with the brooder he will use this year for his chicks. Looks like some electrical work is being done.

Leah is very pregnant, and due in April.

Jonathan named this little kid Lady Jane. She is the one we had in the house overnight when she was first born. Her mama doesn't care to stand still for her to nurse, but she seems to be doing okay with snatching milk when she can get it. She must be getting enough, though, because David was offering her goat milk we had frozen from last fall to supplement but she is no longer interested in it.

Jonathan's laying hens look pretty healthy, and are doing a better job of producing eggs. The red ones are what Jonathan had as chicks last fall.

Samson was enjoying yesterday's sunny day.

He is pretty tired at night, and will tolerate Henry sleeping with him for a tiny bit, then gets up and moves to a new location to escape him.

This is David and Calliope, our Pony Express. David had just gone down to get the mail.

We still have a lot of snow.

Peter snapped this photo, because they looked like twins! Amazing how Andrew is now almost as tall as Jonathan.

The best part is they are also good friends and work very well together.
Peter has gotten milking down to a science, and we are still enjoying Sandy's wonderful milk and milk products.
I finally figured out what I was doing wrong when I made 30 Minute Mozzarella: My thermometer wasn't correct! The cheese is turning out much better after I switched to a thermometer that was accurate!

This is Jim's baking ... He is sterilizing dirt to mix for potting soil. We've had a real mess in here lately.

The temperature was rather moderate today, and Andrew sat outside mixing the actual potting soil. A dirty job, but someone had to do it! He was a blessing, and went about the work cheerfully.

Finally, this is what Jim posted on the back of our toilet. The thing malfunctioned again yesterday, and refused to flush. They checked out the tank, and it was full once again -- only two weeks ago they pumped out the liquid. Looks like we have a problem on our hands.