Monthly Archives: August 2012

Some days suck, some days are great

You know sometimes the hardest thing about writing this each week if figuring out a title. How do I sum up the past week in a title? Really, it so depends on when I start writing this. Sometimes Wednesday mornings are sweet and calm. Sometimes I am introspective. Sometimes I am freaking up to here done and want to start drinking before it even hits nine am. Seriously, that was this morning. Megan(the goat who was known as Houdina, we stopped calling her that in hopes that she would stop escaping) was out as I woke up this morning and rubbed the sleep out of my eyes. She is a jumper. She can jump the fence quite well. So Natalie woke up and she went about to getting her back in. I got Layla up. Usually getting Megan back in is not hard. She goes right to Natalie, not to us which is why Natalie went to go get her, and Natalie just puts her back in. It takes a few minutes, is annoying, but oh well such is life. Well, about twenty minutes later I go out with my milk pail to milk Astrid and not only is Megan out, Dancer and Phedre are out too. Okay, deep breath. I see that Natalie and Layla need a little bit of help. So I set down the pail and start to the helping. My part is mostly staying in the fence shaking food while the girls get the wanderers back in. It would seem that my part is the easiest, but being in the middle of a goat/sheep/pig mosh pit is really not much fun and has probably the most risk of getting injured. At the worst we had five animals out. It was not a fun morning. The girls also got a ride out of Joscelin, our ram. They had put a collar on him when he decided that he DID want to go back into the pen. They were both holding on when he ran full speed down the hill. Layla let go and tumbled down. She got up brushed herself off and smiled HUGE and said “THAT WAS FUN!!!!” In all it took us fifty minutes to get things straightened out. Though I say that and we still have a goat out. Dancer was getting on my nerves, she is staked out to the tree that she kept going to. I figure she can eat all she wants for a little bit if she is that insistent on going to that tree. So that gives you an idea on how exciting some of our mornings can be. That was all before eight.

A lot has happened again this past week. Probably the most satisfying, for me at least, was doing some clean up. Sunday morning when we went about moving animals around we also cleaned up. We have had some windy weather which has blown things about, not to mention three kids who just leave things all over the place. We have so many feed scoops and finding one is difficult, really. Not any longer though. We moved chickens so they are all closer together, makes it easier for us all. In general things can run smoother. I say can, not that it always does. We are in a kind of hard place. We have been moving our babies around close by. This coming week we will have to move them farther away. Since Connor has been barking at odd things in the middle of the night it makes me uneasy. There is something out there. I have to hope that Connor barking and electric fences keeps it away from my babies.

Luna has yet to give birth. Astrid has gone up in milk production by a cup a day. I will probably start milking her at night too soon. I made mozzarella yesterday. I was using not the ingredients I would have liked to. There is no rennet up here but junkit, which is junk. I also had no citric acid and used apple cider vinegar. I still ended up with a decently tasty product. I really do miss making cheese. It is really exciting for me to have goats again and the ability to make cheese with fresh milk. Really exciting. On food notes, those roosters we butchered. Oh my goodness. I am not sure what was different, but they were so tender. I didn’t have any issues with toughness. They tasted good too, not gamey and kind of icky. I am really picky about my chicken, in fact it is probably my least favorite meat. So it means a lot that they were good.

The end walls are up on the cabin. The sheathing is up also. Jack also got up the last bit of sheathing on the roof. So the cabin is totally encased. He had to order more roofing, but is hoping to have the roof done by the end of this weekend. Really, that will make me happy. I am frazzled to the end of my nerves with seeing him on the roof. Having all ladder work done will be good for me. We might have some leads on getting some wool. It has been hard to find around here. So yeah, if you read this and know of someone who is hoarding wool in their barn let me know. I am getting just slightly worried about insulating our cabin. It kind of needs to be done.

Jack also got some planting done, part of the reason not much was done on the cabin this past week. Between cleaning up around here and planting, it took some time out. Anyway, he tilled up some areas in our flat spots and planted turnips, beets, buckwheat, cowpeas and bush beans. We aren’t expecting crops out of all these things, more like hoping for some hay and just to start getting that area planted. So hopefully we start getting some rain. It has cooled down a lot still. Though we have some 90s coming our way, it is still chilly at nights. It is really weird. Oddly, this is closer to average for us. I just haven’t really seen this weather since we got here. Just weird. Oh well though.

I have actually been writing this as the girls make breakfast. It is kind of nice that they do this. They pretend that they are a restaurant. Tent Cafe. Natalie went and picked some kale, they fried up some sausage and eggs. So they are serving up nice platters of food, with kale as decoration. They also each got a small round of fresh goat mozzarella. Natalie is upset because she forgot she was going to fry up some okra. Even if our garden is small we are producing some of our food. We haven’t irrigated at all this year, with the hot and the dry it has been rough but some things are still kicking. They have such pretty plates. I am wondering what the name of their restaurant will be once they aren’t in the tent. I do so love it when Natalie announces “Eat at the Tent Cafe, in small town Rutledge Missoura!!! Kale from our farm, eggs from our farm, cheese from our farm!! Only the sausage not.” Though they say that soon too the sausage will be from our farm. It is nice, this is what we are shooting for. Oh and yes, by the way, Natalie calls if Missoura, like she is an old timer here 🙂 So, signing off for a week. Thank you to all who did comment last week. It is nice to see why people are reading.

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slowing down

Or so I think. Every year around this time I start thinking to myself, “Oh, it is almost fall, then life will start to slow down.” Really, I think this. I don’t know why. I can’t really remember life being slow since having kids. I think to a point that reading Little House books doesn’t help with these thoughts. Laura always talks about how not much happens in the winter. We just read Farmer Boy though. No longer do I want people to equate us with the Ingalls. While I think they are cool and all, that isn’t quite what we are striving for. There are quite a few things that bother me about the Ingalls. We aren’t striving for a homestead, we are striving for a farm. A working farm at that. Not a hobby farm. A farm. Life on a farm doesn’t really slow down. While our farm isn’t quite all there yet, life still doesn’t really slow down. There is rarely nothing to do. I keep having these daydreams however of sitting by the fire spinning all day long. I imagine getting all these amazing things done through the winter. It never happens though. Somehow I still have yet to even make us all slippers. That will need to happen this winter. Though of course I say that every end of summer. One day…

It is very oddly cooling down though, which is probably the cause of these day dreams. As much as I LOVE warm weather and summer, there is something about the start of fall. Daydreams. As much as I know I am going to hate winter when it comes, I still disillusion myself into thinking it will all be okay. Maybe it is because I have to romanticize the cold to not make myself depressed 🙂 I am wearing a sweater now though and have worn it a few times this past week. A few days ago I pulled out my thigh high socks. I had to double them. It was cold. We have more cold weather coming our way. The girls are seeing a difference in their chores. The animals don’t quite need as much water anymore. They are eating more though. I find myself wanting to bake and start getting everyone fat for winter. Maybe it is going to be an insane cold winter. I hope not. As much as everyone said that we would see insane amounts of bugs this year because of last years warm winter, we haven’t. In fact, I think we have seen less bugs than we saw last year. So I am alright with another warm winter. Even a late winter. An early spring would be welcome also. Can we just have 80 degrees year round?

As for things that have been happening, we have gotten rain!! Twice this past week. Amazing. It is all these cold fronts coming though. We are supposed to get rain again tomorrow. We got the rest of the rafters up. Shagbark and crew has come over a few times this past week and helped. The osb on the roof is almost up. There are two half sheets that need to go up. We had to wait until we could get a huge ladder. Jack has most of an end wall up on loft. I have to say that while they were putting up the osb I felt like vomiting. I wish I had gotten pictures. The things Jack does amazes me and frightens me and makes me want to vomit. Really seeing your husband dangle head down while holding a nail gun over the side of a roof is enough to make anyone want to vomit, isn’t it? Isn’t it? It can’t just be me. My nerves are completely frazzled and really I should just start drinking now and not stop until the rest of the roof is done. I will feel so much better once that is done.

The animals are doing alright. I really have come to the conclusion that Astrid is not pregnant. I milked her yesterday and this morning. I am going to get her back into a milking schedule. It is going slow. She gave about a quart and a half yesterday but just two cups today. She has the ability to be an amazing milker though, especially if she is still trying to go after not being milked much. So we will see. Luna has still not given birth, but I think she is getting closer. Of course she is getting closer, it isn’t like she is becoming less pregnant. Exciting news yesterday was all the girls coming back from the pigs saying that maybe maybe they had sex. They didn’t see it happen but there was definitely something going on between them. I think it is because they heard we were going to butcher them. by that I mean the pigs. The girls are all ready to butcher them. Our chickens have started to produce more eggs. Again probably because of the cooler weather. We also butchered six roosters yesterday. What a wonderful way to spend an evening. So far we are impressed as the ease of butchering the La Fleche. He was much easier than the other breeds. He also had amazing fat, it was more orange than yellow. We didn’t get to butcher two of our breeds, no extra roosters, so we didn’t get to compare all of them. I really need to get some pictures going up here. It is interesting to see what gets pictures though. When Jack is doing something there are pictures. When I am doing something, not so much. When we both are doing something, not so much. So when you look through the pictures of the cabin being built and things just show up, that is when I was helping.

And I have a question for those of you. I really have no idea who reads this. Part of me doing this is so I have something to go back to and remember what was happening. Part of it is for the readers though. I have no idea why you are reading this though. Is it because you want to know how building is going on? Gardening? Animals? What life is like in rural Missouri? Community? Seeing how crazy we are and when we finally go completely crazy? 🙂 I am just curious if there is anything I am missing that people want to hear about. So leave a comment if you have a second.

In closing, I leave you with one of those moments. You know, those moments of parenthood when you say something that you never ever thought you would say. Never. This happens to me often. My kids are growing up a lot different from how I did. Last night while butchering the chickens, of course all the girls were helping I am not sure if it would have went as smoothly without them, anyway they turned it into a anatomy lesson. They were looking at body parts, observing that the testicles of an older rooster are much much bigger than the younger ones. In fact, they are bigger than the rooster’s heart. Considering that he had two testicles and only one heart, well, I think most of his innards were testicles. Anyway, they were playing with innards. That turned to fighting about who got which innards. Which led me to say, “Girls if don’t stop fighting over chicken hearts I am going to have to take them away.” I did have to take them away in case you are wondering. Our farm was six crows short this morning. I think we actually got the rooster who started crowing at four am.

Wasps and being pushed

And really many other things

Sorry I didn’t write yesterday, things kind of got away from me. While today is also busy I am going to try and sit down and talk about what has happened this past week. As I look out the back door of the tent I can see 12, yes 12 rafters up. This is possible because we live with wonderful, helpful people. So wonderful. Also though, it is because of Jack. I have talked about this before, at least I think I have. Jack pushes me. A lot. Damn, when I think about it I am such a wuss. Really I am. I have been slowly overcoming my wussdom, mostly because I want my daughters to not be wusses. Going up on the second floor of the cabin makes my knees weak and my stomach fall to the floor. The first few times I went up there I could only crawl. Then I could stand up there if I was in the exact middle, really far away from edges. Even still it felt like the cabin was shaking under me. I kept trying though. Going up there for a little bit. Slowly, slowly overcoming myself. Over the weekend we had people come over and put up six rafters. I did not go up there. I will make fun of myself often, but I try not to show how messed up I truly am. I save that for the special people in my life. After they left Jack got ready three more trusses. Then he told me to come up and help him get them up. Now, to tell you, he had three people helping him before, for a total of four people lifting trusses. Now, he wanted just us two to put them up. I did it though. Oh I was totally freaked out. I did it though. I did draw the line when he wanted to put up the end truss. I couldn’t do it. Though fast forward to yesterday. Again, we had people come over to help put up more trusses. They got them up but then two of them left. It was time to put up the last end wall truss. Jack told me to get up there with them. Oh, I was not happy. Jack got very impatient with me saying I was pulling the truss inwards, I swear I wasn’t, but alright. However, while I was totally freaking out and wanting to vomit I look up and saw that something was not right. Looking up is much better than looking down by the way. The truss wasn’t cut correctly and stood about 2 feet too high. It sucked. Jack had to knock it down. So close. But oh well. In other slightly depressing cabin news we had a guy come out to give us an estimate on insulating the cabin. It is about four times the amount we could pay. We are looking at other options right now. It sucks though, a lot. In happy cabin news though maybe we will have a roof in the near future. Jack tells me that we should be able to start to move in by the beginning of September. That makes me 🙂

Animal news. Well, they are animals. We are starting to wonder if Astrid is just spontaneously lactating. She just does not look pregnant. I am not sure though. We are keeping an eye on her. Luna should really give birth one day. I would think. There are days where I obsess way too much about when my goats will give birth. Everyone else is doing pretty much the same. Our two pigs that were supposed to make bacon, have not made bacon yet. They will themselves become bacon in about a month. Well, bacon and many other tasty products. Oh, slightly exciting news, when we moved stock(that would be the goats, sheep and pigs) last Sunday it went very smooth. I am not sure if it was partly because it was much cooler or what. It took us half the time though. It was nice.

In other news… Well, you know sometimes you get an idea of just how far removed from normal daily life you are. We got a little of that this past week. I, of course, wouldn’t change it for the world. I really don’t think people will ever understand though unless they chose to. In many ways I am alright with this. In some ways I feel like telling everyone that they have no idea what they are missing. Then I remember that not everyone is me and they have the right to live their life without me telling them they could be living better. I have been trying to let a lot of things go lately. Some things are going alright, others not so much.

And Wasps. That is another thing. I have been trying to step outside myself a lot lately. Which kind of goes with the above paragraph. A few days ago I was spinning on the couch. It was nice but every so often this wasp would fly by, almost land on me and then crawl in between the cushions. It was really freaking me out that there was a wasp, maybe more building a next in my couch. What the hell. I didn’t want to deal with this. Of course though, I was really caught up in spinning and just didn’t do anything about it. The wasp kept coming. Sometimes it almost landed on me. I was saying in my mind that Jack will take care of the wasps when he got home. It kept happening though and I was really freaking out. Then I stopped. I looked around and was like, what right do I have to be mad about this? How about I try to figure out what kind of wasp this is, it obviously could have stung me 50 times over by now, but it hasn’t. I am sitting pretty much right above where it is most likely building a nest, yet it, nor any others are attacking me. We live in a wonderful world of internets. After a little researching it confirmed what I thought, it was a mud wasp. They are solitary wasps. What I was seeing was a mated female building a nest. She would carefully build each little hole, then she would collect spiders to put in the holes where she would then lay an egg. What I found maybe most interesting was the places where I read this kept saying that mud wasps are beneficials. They eat spiders that most humans consider a nuisance. You know, the spiders that eat the bugs that we consider a nuisance. Really people? Uggg. Anyway, while I like my spiders where they are thank you, I also see the need for balance. Instead of being freaked out, I found myself fascinated and touched in some way seeing this wasp working so hard. Of course if I could have stopped and talked to her I imagine she would have said, “Working hard? No, I am living. This is life and this is what I do.” Sometimes having outside perspective on what you do is not helpful at all.

In closing and in other interesting spider news. By the way, we like spiders. We have way too many flies, mosquitoes and moths to not like spiders. We have had a really cool spider right above our headboard. It has the most cool web and it insanely fast. Really neat to watch it. Well, as we always do eventually, we tried to identify it. It is nice to know what is above you when you are sleeping. Ready for the name of this spider? Rabid Wolf Spider. Seriously. It is not as bad as it sounds though. A great spider to have around in my opinion. You know, I have always liked spiders. I did use to have a rule that there were to be no spiders in my kitchen or my bedroom. That rule has so gone away. Rules change and have changed a whole lot lately.

One last closing thought that Natalie just reminded me of. This is our third summer not living in a house. I just did a little math(and because it is much more interesting) I choose Gwendy. She has lived “outside” for about a quarter of her life. Interesting, no?

feels like spring

Except for some days that are still hitting 90.

Really though, we have had a few days now where it has been cloudy most of the day. There has been a light, very light, wind and it has been cool. What the hell? Are we finally getting a spring? Or is fall coming early? I don’t want to think about that. I don’t want fall yet. I still need to store up more warmth and sun to last me through winter. Not ready for fall or winter, ya hear that? Not ready. Not to mention we would need our cabin done and ain’t ready for that also. I am actually quite astounded that my spell check allowed that ain’t. Ain’t ain’t a word!

Anyway, I am writing this early since there has been things going on. Wow. We had a work party on Saturday. The community came to our leasehold and we put everyone to work for two hours. This is amazing. Every other week we go to someone’s leasehold and do work. This week Jack had help putting up the house wrap while the rest of us banged nails out of pine boards. The pine boards will eventually be our siding. We actually got them all done. When I think about how long it would take us to have done it by ourselves, well my gratitude is overwhelming. Later that day, an unannounced fellow community member came by and helped Jack build rafters. We had met him while we were in town and he asked Jack how it was going. He asked if Jack wanted help and Jack told him he would give him a call. Well two hours later he comes biking by. He said he knew Jack would probably never call him (he was probably right). So they got a lot done, 3 rafters!! The next day Jacob came by and helped Jack build four more!!! It was really amazing, we have three left to build and then the fun part of getting them ready to stand up.

Our goats have yet to birth. I think they are waiting for the full moon. At least, I am hoping that they are. I am a nervous goat mommy and would like this part over with. I swear there is not much worse torture than waiting for someone to give birth. We did have our first egg from our Iowa Blues on Monday. That was an amazing thing. I wasn’t expecting that for at least two more weeks. It was a scary moment though. I was in the tent getting ready for school when I look out and see Natalie running, very fast by the way, up to the tent. Of course I always assume the worse. So I run outside and start asking her what was wrong, what happened???? She stops and opens her hand, talking is not something Natalie is good at when she is excited, and there is a little egg. She finally got the words out that it was an Iowa Blue egg. We got another that day. Excited that our baby chickens have started laying.

Last night Jack and I put up the bottom siding around the cabin. He had done the north side a few night ago. Last night I cut wood while he nailed it up. It was interesting, our saw blade is quite dull, but we got it done. We are hoping to get most of the top done soon. We will have to get more boards though. We think at least. We are also hoping to have some people come by on Sunday to finish up the rafters. It is supposed to be cooler. I hope so. I hope it gets done too! It is nice looking out and seeing progress. In fact, I have been dreaming about living in the cabin. Oh, having shelves! The girls are planned to have a closet. Rooms!!! I was daydreaming out loud with the girls a few days ago. It is amazing how wonderful life is going to be with solid walls. I say that sightly sarcastically. I mean, our life will change, but life is still life. There are things that will be better, the big one would be that we no longer have to build a place to live. Imagine all the time that will free up. Next big project will be figuring out winter animal housing. YEA!!!

Gwendy has convinced me and we did start school this week. She is doing really well. A lot better than I had thought she would to tell the truth. Our biggest problem right now is that she had been doing some school stuff with the girls before and now she still wants to do that school work. She is writing sentences, but doesn’t know the words or even some of the letters. Her handwriting is pretty good though. She can recognize some words, but again, letters? Not so much. We are working on it though and she is pretty happy to sit down and to be doing work. I can’t believe that she is this old already. She does have to grow up though. It is hard for me. Part of me still wants her to be a little baby. A bigger part of me is glad to not have babies anymore. It is a confusing time for my heart.

Oh and talking about tomatoes. Yes, I know I wasn’t actually talking about tomatoes, but I don’t know how I missed talking about tomatoes since it seems tomatoes have become my life. You know, on top of animals, home schooling and helping with the cabin. On Saturday a guy Jack works with gave him about 75 pounds of tomatoes. Yep. So I started on those. Then on Monday, no the 75 pounds were not all processed yet, another guy he works with gave him about 30 pounds. Then yesterday we received about 20 pounds? Somewhere around there. I am not sick of tomatoes. I could stand to see more. We go through a lot of tomatoes and having our own canned is good. Our tomatoes in the garden are starting to ripen also. So while this have been not overwhelming but definitely a lot, I won’t say things like, I would like to never a tomato again! I know that we need these. I figure that we need about a hundred quarts of tomatoes. Whether we get there or not, well I am not sure. I will take every tomato I can get.

So that is life on the farm here lately. Oh, I have also been spinning, washing, carding and picking well every free moment I have. You know, farm wenches and managers of minions have lots of free time. You can only eat so many bonbons in a day.