Friday, April 30

Confessions

Yesterday Roy got home a little early from work so we decided to head up to Tractor Supply to get the rest of the supplies to complete the chicken coop this weekend.

You don't have to twist my arm to get me to go to Tractor Supply since I absolutely love that store. I don't even need to be in the market for anything in particular - I just like to look and smell the pine shavings.

And apparently, so does my husband.

We were getting out of the car and wrestling with the baby seat buckle when I remarked "I just love this store! I just love to browse!" He said, "Yeah, so do I."

I said "When do you have time to browse in Tractor Supply?" Since the only time he goes there is with me and the baby. I know this because his schedule is set in stone, pretty much and I like to pride myself on knowing where he is at all times. Now I was curious. When DID he have time to browse at Tractor Supply? Or anywhere else for that matter? And what was he browsing for?

"Sometimes I go to Tractor Supply on my lunch break" he says to me. I said, "Oh, well, I guess if we really needed something you could go to the store near your office."

Then he says "Sometimes I just go there to look around. I like to walk up and down the aisles and look at stuff. I don't have the baby with me and I can just look."

I was actually shocked by this. I didn't know what to say for a minute. I felt like he just told me he had ventured to an X-rated movie after his afternoon conference call. And that he had met a hot blonde there. I felt a little upset for some strange reason.

How DARE you go to Tractor Supply - my favorite store - without me!!!! How DARE you ENJOY it!! SHAME!!!! How DARE you actually do something that is not on my mental schedule of your day.

All that said, I have no idea what is wrong with me. Different things mean, well, different things to me now.

Wednesday, April 28

Operation Chicken Pen is a Go




Last Saturday we had a chicken pen raising party. Roy and I had purchased the materials the previous week and we were anxious to get the outside section of the new pen up. We needed a nice day for this since it was all outside work and we could do the inside work any time, in any weather.

Last Saturday was perfect - sunny, warm and rain free.

Mom and dad arrived after lunch - Dad to help dig the holes for the posts and stretch and attach the fencing and Mom to watch the baby while Roy and I worked with Dad.

We got the post holes dug - 7 in total - and the posts buried in 3 feet. We had 5 feet left to work with which was plenty. We used 4 x 4 posts because we wanted something sturdy and durable. The fencing we chose was sturdier than chicken wire fencing and we stretched it using the truck and tools that we saved from when we installed a chain link fence at our old house. It took shape quickly and we are happy with the way it turned out.

We had to install 2 x 4's at angles on each corner for 'bracers'. Since we did not cement the posts, we were a little worried about the stretching for the fence. The bracers seemed to work and they look like we planned to have them the whole time.

My Grandmother supplied us with a readymade door, complete with hinges and a latch from a pen she had at her farm that has since been dismantled. It worked perfectly for the outside pen door.

The shed we are using was a chicken coop a long time ago so we were able to find and uncover the entrance/exit doors for the girls and get them in working order again. They should be able to go from inside and outside and back again easily.

The inside is in the works and it should be finished this coming Saturday with our second chicken pen party. Same guests and assignments as last week since it worked out so well.

We are also getting 6 additional chickens now. A friend of my Dad's from work raised free range chickens and he picked up six extra for us on a recent buying trip. They are about 6 months old and ready to provide some eggs. They are a cross between Rhode Island Red and Leghorns and are supposed to be good producers. We will get them here and 'free-ranging' as soon as the inside pen area is finished.

The girls are still happy in their basement home - their nice metal tub with a heat lamp. They are growing at a supernatural rate and their feathers are emerging - so pretty with the different colors and textures. I am worried that they will outgrow their accommodations before it is time for them to go to their permanent home.

Any advice on that topic would be helpful. I have heard Memorial Day is when they can safely go outside (?).

With any luck, we will have a complete chicken palace by the end of this coming weekend and chickens in it by the end of next week.

We are officially a farm/ lite homestead, almost.

Monday, April 26

Here a Chick, There a Chick....




Everywhere a little chick.

Only they are not so little anymore.

I simply cannot believe how big they have gotten in such a short time. Their feathers are coming in all shades of brown and yellow and white and their little baby fluff is fading away. Their beaks are much larger and more defined and their feet seem to be too large for their bodies (that’s pretty big). They are getting more aggressive and spend a great deal of time flinging pine shavings all over their metal tub. Mostly they end up in the water dispenser which i have to clean out and refill at least twice a day.

That is the first chicken question - what is up with the freakin' water dispenser? They fill it with shavings and poop in it. They also seem to think it is fun to perch on top of the long, low chick food trough and just let it all come out, so to speak.

I love sneaking in and watching them. They just go about their business of sitting, laying, eating and exploring. then they see me and they all get tense and scurry to the far end of the tub. I count them every time i check on them. 1,2,3,4....all the way to 12. Just to make sure.

Not that I think they will make a break for it or anything. I don’t even think they could get out of the tub yet. But I am still a little stressed about being responsible for 12 little lives and I want to do things right. Counting them just seems like the responsible thing to do.

They only thing I am worried about would be Cheese. She is determined to get into that room. I have to make double sure that she is not lurking around by the door, hiding behind the recycle bin, ready to make a dash when i crack the door to come out with hands full with the dirty shavings bucket.

"Come on Mom, I KNOW there is something in there! I can hear it! I can smell it! Why can't i go investigate? Don’t you love me?"


I have been told that they can go outside into their pen after Memorial Day.

That will be a whole new adventure.

I might have to set up a tent in the yard.

Friday, April 23

One must have sunshine



“Just living is not enough... One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” Hans Christian Andersen

I have to admit that I do not read much Hans Christian Anderson. In fact, I really cannot tell you off the top of my head the name of anything he has written. Please don't judge me, even though I was an English major. I was just surfing around the net today and I happened across this site with all sorts of neat quotes.

it is kind of appropriate since today is a wonderfully sunny day. A little chilly with the wind but the sun is shining brightly and our solar panels are producing. So far today we have made 12.8 kilowatt hours of our own electricity. OUR OWN ELECTRICITY!

Well Hans, it that not just the definition of freedom?

And anyone who reads this knows that the yard is already full of flowers so it seems that I have the market cornered on living.

I cannot put into words how wonderful it feels to know that we are producing electricity. It is a tangible, visible, real thing that we are doing to advance our goal of self sufficiency.

Thursday, April 22

Growing

The garden is going crazy now with new things arriving every day. Unfortunately, this also means that weeds are going crazy too. Every year i tell myself that i am going to keep up with the weeding and every year I procrastinate and the lilies get overgrown with some sort of creeping mint thing that I didn't even plant. I enjoy looking out the windows and seeing color instead of snow and dead grass. The magnolia tree is my current obsession but it is already fading fast. Petals on the ground under the tree.... as sad sight.





I have moved most of the seedlings out to the cold frames to harden them off but I have kept the tomatoes and the peppers inside just in case. I am almost afraid to move them outside since I have had such a hard time getting any good plants from seed in the past. I have a whole bunch of milk jugs that i have been saving to make some primitive cloches to protect them once they go into the ground.



The girls are also growing - fast! I cannot believe how big they are getting. They are double the size they were when we got them and they are getting their brown feathers. They are making a great deal more noise now and they are jumping around (flying?). It is hard to keep up with them on the water dispenser - they manage to heap tons of pine shavings into it and make a really big deal when I clean it out. It is like they are yelling at me for wrecking their hard work. They also seem to have a fascination with climbing on and pooping in their food dispenser, which leads to a lot of wasted food since I am constantly cleaning it out.



With any luck, we will have the holes dug for the fence posts this weekend and we will be able to get the exterior chicken fencing up Saturday.

Tuesday, April 20

Cold Frames



We built three cold frames to harden off plants and use as little greenhouses and it was actually fun and they turned out nice. That is rare here. Usually our projects are rushed and we use the materials we have on hand or that we can afford.

We lucked out here since we found the three windows, in great shape, hidden away in a dark, very dusty corner of the barn. Al little cleaning and they were ready to go. We built the frames to fit the windows (about 5 feet long by 2 feet wide) and attached hinges. I painted the frames before we attached anything with a nice outdoor paint to preserve the frames as long as possible. We had to go out and buy "new" boards for these so I know how much wood costs now and it stinks. So, I am trying to make these frames last.

I still have to put a coat of paint on the windows but we assembled the frames so we could get them out in the yard and I could get plants into them. The furnace room in the basement was getting kind of full, and the grow lights cost money to run all day.

The weather should cooperate, there was a hard frost last night but the rest of the week looks good. I had a private satisfaction moment when I ventured out to them as dusk was setting in and closed the lids and put the plants to bed. Kind of like tucking them in. Good night squash, goodnight pumpkins seedlings, sweet dreams little peas and corn. Yes, corn. I actually started corn inside. Chalk it up to a moment of spring fever and mass hysteria in the basement with the seed trays. It looks like of wilty and I will not do that again next year.

So, I am very happy with my new cold frames.

Score 1 win for the homesteaders.

The Yard



Me vs. Snake

It was huge.

Seriously.

All slimy looking and different colors and all 'sneaking around the steps.'

I HATE snakes. They freak me out - they are just so sneaky and dangerous.

And I have the mother of all snakes apparently living under my front porch.

I saw him while I was sweeping the porch steps. He was hiding in the crack between the bottom cement step and the cement slab. He was huge. As big around as a coke bottle and 6 feet long. He was black and white and yellow-ish and he had big, red beady eyes that stared at me as his long white fangs blazed in the afternoon sunlight. He hissed at me and showed his forked tongue and his fangs were dripping with the poison that would kill me where I stood, broom in hand. He was evil, this monster, and I was a goner.

Yeah, my neighbor laughed too.

Home alone, frantically completing house chores during Connor's afternoon naptime, I flagged down my neighbor who was working in his shop. "I need some help! Bring and shovel! Make sure it is a pointy one!"

It was gone by the time we got back to the porch and he thought the whole thing was amusing even though I was sure I would be attacked the next time I went near the step. By this time, Roy had come home and both he and my neighbor had a laugh at my expense, and exaggerations.

And I know he is still there. We have an old root cellar under that porch. There is this old wooden door in the basement that leads into it and I have only been in there once. And it was plenty enough for me. It is all dirt and it smells and it is full of spiders. And, apparently, snakes.

Roy fished out a huge old pickle crock from that cellar, which I love, but the door has been sealed and we just pretend it is not there. Because it is creepy. And that is where he lives, according to our neighbor who grew up in this house. And, all the little snake brothers and sisters live in the old well house in the front yard, on top of which sits my heavy stone birdbath. I don’t like to go near that either.

I am very particular about certain things. Spiders and snakes are two of them. They are right up there on the list of things that I could really do without ever seeing again for the rest of my natural born days. Add having ants in the house, un-scooped cat litter and scraping ice off my windshield in winter and you have my top five annoyances that will drive me to fits.

Spiders and snakes, and ants for that matter, are all creepy, sneaky gross things that I am sure serve some purpose but that I cannot stand. But for some reason we seem to have an abundance of snakes and spiders of all sizes, shapes and colors around this house. I am sure some are poisonous and I know that one of them, or a combination of them ganging up on me will be the end of me some day.

But as long as I have my shop vac, broom, and my neighbor with a pointy shovel, I may be around awhile longer.

Friday, April 16

When It Rains.....



Apparently, when it rains it pours. Isn't that how the saying goes? Ironically enough it was raining here today and the weekend forecast says we in for more. Good for the flowers and the yard which is why I said "when it rains...". The gardens are literally pouring forth a river of blooms right now.

It seems like everything woke up all at once and it is a race. Tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, magnolia, forsythia, even dandelions - all flowering. And the other guys are not far behind - everything is showing signs of growth and new sprouts. I have a feeling it is going to be a very good year for the roses.

The magnolia tree has exploded into bloom almost overnight, as it does every year. But every year I am amazed by it none the less. It is absolutely beautiful (more pictures to come) and I cannot help but stare at it. People slow down when they pass our house to look at it. OK, can I be proud of a very old magnolia tree? Yes I can!

Today before the rain I managed to get the second coat of outdoor paint on the cold frames so they should be ready to go out into the yard tomorrow evening. I have some great old porch windows that we found in the barn for the tops and I cannot wait to get my seeding out and breathing fresh spring air. I also spent the better part of the morning nap cutting wood. The "morning nap time" is my golden hour, or two. It i when Connor is sleeping soundly and I can do something. I love this time. i managed, with my hand saw, to get a large portion of the fallen trees cut up and out of the yard. It would have been easier if I had used the chainsaw, but besides the noise putting a quick end to my golden hour, I refuse to use the thing. I know I will cut off an arm at the very least.

This weekend I am hoping for good enough weather to Roy out with the above mentioned chainsaw so take care of what I couldn't and to finally get the yard cleaned up.

The girls are happy in their basement home for now, lounging the days away under the heat lamp and snacking on whatever that grain stuff is that they eat. They make a total mess of the water feeder so i have to constantly scoop out the pine shavings so I am sure they have access to plenty of clean water. I cannot tell them apart yet, save one who has some brown on her wings. She seems to be the dominant one. I have not named them yet because I do not know their personalities. Regardless, they will all be womanly names of respect and dignity - Matilda, Evelyn and Althea.

The only cat who has shown an interest in even seeing what is behind door #1 is Cheese. She is very curious about what the peeping is about but we have managed to keep her at bay and we will do so indefinitely. There will be no chicken diners here. She has such an innocent little cry (she never really learned how to meow like other cats) and it is very deceiving. Innocent? Yeah, right. I have seen that cat take on the dog who is about 80lbs and crabby on a good day. And she usually wins.

Tuesday, April 13

Peep, peep, peep.....



I have this nice inner glow about me today. It started yesterday when I was driving home in my little gray toyota with my husband riding shotgun, the baby in the back drinking from his sippy cup. Normally, this would not make me glow. Normally this would also include Connor having some sort of "let me out of this car seat" fit and Roy insisting that we stop somewhere for dunkin doughnuts coffee. But not this day....

Yesterday we also had 12 additional passengers.

All peeping.

We have chickens.

Our FIRST EVER chickens.

And I am glowing inside because I can honestly say that I am a true "lite" homesteader.

My definition of homesteading, or at least the type that we can do at this time, included three things: knitting, quiet and chickens.

Knitting = check! With the help of my Grandma and YouTube, I have taught myself how to knit. Nothing too fancy but I can do it. In every movie, every book, every episode of Little House, there was knitting. (OK not everyone, but you get where I am going). To me, it is the essential crafty homesteading skill.

Quiet = kind-of check! I am still working on this one to an extent but it is more of a state of mind. I want to be able to sit in my jammies at the kitchen table and browse through Urban Farm or a new book with the windows open and listen to the frogs and crickets singing. Add possible oil lamp light, a cat on my lap, and above all, QUIET. No one needing anything, no one crying, nothing urgent that needs to be done. Clean counters ready and set up for the coming morning rush. Laundry line dried and folded. Quiet and peace.

Chickens = Check!!!! 12 Golden Comet pullets, about 1 week old, from Tractor Supply in Ontario. The picture above is not mine, just an example. I have a red heat lamp on them instead of white because the lady at the store told me it would help them not peck at each other. So, the pictures I take look bad. And I do not want to freak them out by using the flash. This summer I will have a flock of chickens pecking around the yard, providing eggs and joy.

What a big responsibility. I am taking this very seriously. I made a point of transfering each one from the carry boxes to their new home, one at a time, picking them up and being concious of each one. each new life. I am constantly checking on them and keeping them safe from the cats and the dog and the baby. They have their own room, with a locked door and no disruptions except for me checking on them. I just trucked them in for the night with fresh water, food and a heartfelt "goodnight girls!"

Monday, April 12

Meet the Girls.....

Helpin'



It is hard to get things done when you have a baby.

There. I said it.

And I don't think it makes me horrible.

Because it is true.

I love him dearly, but I must say that the yard projects are piling up, literally, and my housekeeping standards have gone down a few notches. I no longer clean under anything. I can picture what is lurking under my couch and I do not want to venture there.

We did some yard work last week when the weather was really great and he did ok. He is learning how to walk so as I pulled the beginnings of weeds and repairs rock walls, he staggered around the area I was in like teh town drunk and tried to eat dead leaves. He got fairly dirty and had dirt under his fingernails and i will not lie and say that this bothered me. In fact, I was quite a bit proud. Thats my boy! Dirt under his nails from the garden!

But it is not all fun. There is a ton of cleanup to be done with will involve the chainsaw and chipper, neither of which are baby-proof. Their is fence reapir to be done, tilling, and fixing all the holes Snowy has managed to dig under the front porch. i think she is trying to tunnel under the foundation and don;t ask me why becaue i gave up trying to understand that dog a long time ago. In the words of Louise Rich, "all I can do is love her."

and then their are the cold frames, which Roy is trying to make in the picture above. I need these to harden off all the lovely things I have taking over the basement and my patience has been getting thin. So, this past weekend, we went out armed with saws and boards and a tape measure and tried to get things done.

Connor loved the tape measure and claimed it as his and it was not long before I was in the house entertaining the baby while Roy got to do the work.

I say "got" to do the work because I feel like I was missing out. i am so used to doing things, taking care of projects especially in the yard, or at least helping when it involves something I would probably kill myself with like the chainsaw. But I couldn't. I was stuck in the house playing with a ball and a stuffed duck. I felt useless and lazy and horrible.

I felt like Roy would thing it was "getting out of" doing work and that I was making him do everything while I lounged in the house.

And then the Gods shined their grace upon us, Connor got tired and took his nap and I could not get my much boots and gloves on fast enough. I made it out to the shed to help complete the frames and with all luck, I will get them painted tonight. I am using some old windows that I found in the barn for tops and I am very happy with how things are turning out.

It's a give and take here - trying to balance my old life with the new. Baby, homesteading projects, unemployment for me and a stressful job for Roy. However, I have the roof over my head that is finished and not leaking (which makes me even more glad we did not take the leap and buy the fixer-upper farm last week). And I have just about everything I could want so I think I can make it all work.

And, we won't starve. Connor can always eat leaves if I don't get the garden planted.

Saturday, April 10

It Wasn't Meant To Be

We went to look at the fixer-upper house today with the realtor and even though I had made up my mind that I did not want to move previously, I was still kind of interested to see the inside.

We met the realtor there with my parents and the baby in tow and toured the property. The outbuildings and barns were in pretty good shape and there was lots of room for just about anything you would want to do - tractor storage, goats, chickens, cows, workshops. And we liked the pond - behind the house and hidden behind a hedgerow - a nice, totally quiet spot and I could picture myself sitting there on the little wooden bench (that I hoped was included in the purchase price).

I was getting excited about this opportunity again. The house didn't look too bad from the outside today in the nice bright sunshine. I had tried to downplay it in my mind on the ride home from our first drive-by but I could see the possibilities and potential that was there. I was ready to see the inside.



First, let me say, that if we did not have a 14 month old and responsibilities and if we didn’t mind living in a pop-up camper or tent for about 6 months, then I would have made an offer today.

This is the kind of challenge I love. It looks horrible but I can see what it could look like and I am not afraid of doing the work. The current owners had decided to remodel the old house but after doing most of the tare-out, they changed their minds and went for using their money to build a new house. I wise choice, according to my Dad. About 90% of the plaster had been ripped out. The electric was there but old - it would need new electric, new plumbing, insulation, drywall, new windows, probably a new roof within two years, and the foundation needed to be "jacked up" in at least two places.



We walked around and I noticed how much I liked the layout of the rooms and that I would have an entranceway and a front staircase. The beams were all hand cut and old - pre 1890. All the features I wanted - a mudroom, first floor laundry hookup, a formal dining area. I could picture it all - finished and painted and decorated with antiques and pieces salvaged and repurposed from the barns.

But that was as far as it got. Reality sunk in. It was expensive. The basement was dirt and had water in it. The floors were not level, it did not have a heating system, and there was no way we could afford the purchase price and all the repairs. Even if we did most of them ourselves, it would still be out of our range. And, how could I hang drywall with Connor toddling around? He finds ways to get into things he is not supposed to even when I am standing right next to him!



As you can see from the pictures, it is pretty much a blank slate. And, like I mentioned before, if it were a different time and we had the cash, we would be sleeping in a tent tonight planning our electrical installation strategies.

But it was not meant to be.

And that is ok.

I am very happy where we are. I love it here and I really did not want to move. I like having an almost finished house with lights and walls and a toilet. We have a wonderful home here and I am sure that I can find plenty of challenges.

Thursday, April 8

Book Report




The Daily Coyote
By: Shreve Stockton


This book made me "Happier than a coyote in a corn pile". Entertaining, funny, insightful, thought provoking, and inspiring. It was a fast read, which is good for me but it was not one of those 'fast reads' that you get through, like, but donate to the book sale. This one is a keeper and a great re-read.

Shreve (what a cool name) is everything I am not. She is adventurous, and a risk taker. She drives across the county on a vespa on her way back to her life in NYC, but while passing through Wyoming, she kind of likes it. After being back in NY, she decides that Wyoming is where she would like to call home (at least for a little while). She moves there to a rental house, sight unseen and things just start happening for her.

She doesn't know anybody and she does not have a job. These two things would send me running for the nearest train station to get a ticket home. But she handles it.

I don’t want to give away the book but she gets the chance to raise a baby coyote. That’s when it gets really interesting.

I love reading about the daily activities and how she handled Charlie as well as living in a very rustic cabin for a time.

She not only lets us in on her daily life with Charlie, the coyote, but she digs a little deeper. She does not get too liberal for me in her observations about life which was nice but it did give me things to think about in some places. She has a recurring situation throughout the book in dealing with Charlie’s pack mentality and she goes into detail on how she set about developing and maintaining a schedule for his care and well-being. He was never her "pet", which she makes clear. And she places great emphasis on her relationship with his and the responsibilities placed on her to provide and care for him.

She says "In a dogs mind, someone must be the boss or chaos is imminent." I think that it's the same way with people. That’s why I insist on being the boss around here! This entire homestead would be a big, smoldering pit if I wasn't at the helm. :)

Great book, great read!!!!

She has The Daily Coyote blog where you can see pictures of Charlie as well as Vespa Vagabond and Honey Rock Dawn, a blog about her life in general.

Wednesday, April 7

Yard Report - buds, buds and more buds!



The yard seems to be exploding into spring this past week. The snowdrops have faded away already along with the crocus, but now we have a variety of others popping up. Daffodils are in full bloom with tulips not far behind. The bulbs that survived the winters nibbling by chipmunks and squirrels should show their colors next week.

All sorts of others are appearing - hyacinth, violets, little blue flowers that I don't know the name of.... The yard has color again. Even the grass is greening up and it finally feels like spring. It is windy with a warning of rain today but it is still 72 degrees so I will take it and say it is spring.




The big players are in the game too - the forsythia bush is brilliant yellow in the side yard and the lilac bush is getting its light green leaves. My personal favorite, the magnolia tree, is going to burst open in a few days. This was one of the reasons we bought this house. There is an ancient magnolia tree in the front yard - huge in its wide spreading branches, so heavy when it blooms that the branches dust the ground. It does not last long but while it is blooming, I am out enjoying it as much as possible. Standing near the while birch clump provides such a nice color contrast and when that tree blooms, I get the full onset of spring fever.

My trumpet vine is still clinging to the barn for all it is worth - digging its way under the wood. I love the way it looks when it is green and full of long orange humming bird-attracting flowers, but I do have to admit that it is doing a number on my barn. And as much as I really do not want to admit it, I think it is going to have to go through a drastic thinning this year. I can leave one nice section, reaching up to the barn roof, but I think the rest must go. It is damaging the barn and it will make Roy very happy to be able to rip part of it down. He absolutely hates that vine. He has since we moved it and i wouldn't let him take it down. Every time he goes into the barn and has to fight with the huge sliding door that is very near the vine, he vows to get out the hedge trimmers. But I always talk him out of it because it is so pretty. This year however, I think he will get his wish. Maybe I will call it an early birthday present.

I have drastically reduced the size of my shade garden in that the small fence that came with the house that i built it around has all but disintegrated into the ground and was beyond repair. In taking it out I decided to reduce the shade garden to 1/3 its size. I have n ever had much luck with that one. The chipmunks eat roots of certain plants, I have "snow on the mountain" taking over everything else, and I really wanted to open up the yard. That garden/fence kind of divided the side yard from the main yard and I want things to flow more evenly. It already looks and feels better and the transplants that lived through chipmunk winter feeding are sending shoots through the dirt, proving that I did not kill them from early transplanting.




Rounding off garden and yard updates, we are adding a 20 x 18 foot vegetable garden in addition to our 38x28 foot one. I want more space for tomatoes and we are trying corn again this year.

This time of year is both wonderful and horrible for me. I love it because winter is finally over (I hate winter) and it is nice out and I can open the windows and air out all of winters stale air. Things are green and growing and everything smells wonderful. However, it can be, according to Jenna Woginrich of Cold Antler Farm, "A fickle bitch." A few nice days to get your hopes up and then the cold snaps back in to wreck everything. So unfair and maddening.

Tuesday, April 6

Happy Today




My Grandpa is the best. He makes all sorts of things from wood - everything from kid’s toys to kitchen cabinets to decorative boxes to just about every little thing you could use around the house.

For Easter this year he surprised my Mom and I with some handmade boxes that he had been working on. He used wood from their property and each piece is made from one solid piece of wood, hand carved.

They are beautiful and I totally love them. I am so lucky.

Easter was good this year. We visited with both sets of parents and Connor got a lot of egg hunting time in. he kind of understood what was expected of him and tried his best to accommodate us and the cameras. He even tolerated the fuzzy white bunny ear thing i made him wear and the sweater vest I made him sit through church in. And I say "sit through church" very loosely. He was happy to run up and down the aisle and a few times and play with the handouts.

Grandpa also presented him with a kid-sized wooden wheelbarrow and a wooden toy airplane.

Nice weekend weather, good holiday stuff and the flowers are blooming and the trees are budding. I am happy today.




Easter was good this year. We visited with both sets of parents and Connor got alot of egg hunting time in. he kind of understood what was expected of him and tried his best to accomidate us and the cameras. He even tolerated the fuzzy white bunny ear thing i made him wear and the sweater vest I made him sit through church in. And i say "sit through church" very loosley. He was happy to run up and down the aisle and a few times and play with the handouts.

Grandpa also presented him with a kid-sized wooden wheelbarrow and a wooden toy airplane.

Nice weekend weather, good holiday stuff and the flowers are blooming and the trees are budding. I am happy today.

Sunday, April 4

Choices = Stress



Today we drove down to take a look at the farm that is up for sale that we are considering. And I do have to say that it is wonderful. 18 acres of fields, a small pond, plenty of out buildings, barns and the old house is amazing.

The old girl definitely needs some TLC however. She has asbestos shingle siding, lead paint flaking off of the window frames, trim and the porches, and all the windows will have to be replaced. The foundation is in ok-shape. We will not know more until we get to see the inside. We just did a drive-by and peak in the windows thing today.

The good part is that i can totally see myself living there. It is quiet, which I LOVE. The layout of the yard is nice with plenty of room for gardens and solar panels. I can just see it now - settling down for the night at the kitchen table with a cup of cocoa, looking through garden catalogs with a nice breeze coming in and the sounds of the "peepers". However, did I mention that there is no kitchen?

Or living room, bedrooms or, most importantly a bathroom.

I cannot get ahead of myself with day dreams. This will be a huge undertaking. Lots of work, our savings will be gone and we will most likely be in more debt. And what if this job that is closer to this new place doesn't last forever? The shorter commute will mean nothing if a new job is closer to the city, closer to where we already are right now.

And where we are now is wonderful too. I love my house - we have been here 5 years. We have gotten new pets since we have been here. We have lost pets since we have been here. We had a baby here. The acres are much smaller and the road is a little busier, but it is still a wonderful homestead. We have plenty of room, and those rooms, I might add, are finished and functional.

This is why I am stressed. I am craving that adventure and challenge. I want to be able to look back in 10 years and be living in a beautiful home that we almost built from the ground up with hard work, and be able to say "We did this." But it is a hard choice. We have so much here that we love and the trade-off would mean construction, debt and annoyance to no end. It would mean balancing working on the house with taking care of the baby and trying to maintain a sense of normalcy for all of us while we are living in one section of the house while working on another.

If I was just out of college, this would be my dream. I graduated, got married and we lived in a starter house of about 8 years. This house that we are in now is definitely not a starter house. And I do love it here.

We discussed this all the way home today from Easter celebrations and relative’s homes. We were conflicted all the way home, going over pro's and con's, back and forth. I was getting stressed and aggravated and I did not want to discuss it anymore. We came down our road and saw our house and I realized how much I loved it. I told Roy that I did not want to move. He said "OK."

It actually felt good to be relieved of the stress.

But I noticed he was on the laptop tonight looking up home renovation loans.....

Saturday, April 3

Decisions, decisions.....

I hate change. Absolutely hate it. It scares me and I feel like I am giving up control over something. Change is horrible for me.

This one has to do with moving.

We have found an 1800's farmhouse, completely gutted and ready for rebuild. It is closer to Roy's work and we can afford it. 18 acres, barns, outbuildings and a beautiful view. Low taxes. Far from shopping.

Problem is, we already live in a beautiful 1916 farmhouse with a barn and an outbuilding and we totally love it here. 2 acres with the possibility of a small expansion, maybe. High taxes. Close to shopping.

Decisions, decisions......

It would be the perfect homestead. We could make it however we wanted - the house is literally gutted down to the studs. Just add plumbing, electric, insulation, drywall, and appliances. OK, that sounds like a lot right now as I type it even though it did not sound so bad when i was thinking about it earlier today.

The problem is, even though I hate change, I like a challenge. And this would be the mother of all challenges. Move into a house that is a complete shell with a dog, three cats, a 13 month old and a husband who works 10 hour days. I would literally be stuck in the sticks with nowhere to go and no electric, running water or possible not even windows.

If this were the little blurb on the back of a book in Barnes and Noble I would be buying it in a heartbeat. I love stories like this. About how people do crazy things like live in the Alaskan wilderness with nothing but a knife and a lean-to, or someone who leaves some great job somewhere to raise goats in Montana, or even just about someone who buys an old house and lives there and writes about how it sucks to have to pee outside. (that could be me, by the way). And I have read enough of these stories to know better.

This is a totally crazy idea. My grandparents did it. they moved in the early 80's, from the small town where they raised my mother in a nice modern house, to a farm house that was falling apart in Stuben County, on a dirt road without a Wegmans for about 40 miles. When my mother and friends were helping them move their things in, a friend looked around and then looked to my mother with wide eyes and said "are you OK with THIS!!??!!!). I guess she was, and my grandparents now live in that house, completely restored and beautiful.

They did it, why can't I do it? Well, Grandpa is a carpenter for one thing and he can make anything and literally did while they slowly remodeled the house. It took a long time.

Oh boy, what am I going to do.......
Such a temptation. So many things to consider.
And we have not even done a drive-by yet.