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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I hope that everyone had a good Christmas. We have one more party to go on Thursday, and then we have made our rounds. We have enjoyed seeing family and friends as we have had opportunities to get away for a bit.

As you can see underneath our tree, we were able to do a little more shopping. Ethan's mom was going to be around to watch the kids on Monday, but since the weather was bad we took them with us and were sneaky with picking up the gifts. We can still do that with them being younger. So Monday night, after driving home in a snow storm, we finished our Christmas shopping.

There were two things that I just didn't get done this Christmas that I was hoping to. (There was a lot I didn't do that doesn't bother me - all the decorations up and stuff like that.) One was to take a cookie plate to our neighbors. It would have been a good way to get to meet them, but a fresh loaf of homemade bread will probably do just as well. (I'm going to wait until I get real bread pans though - coming soon. Meat loaf pans just don't bake pretty loaves.)

The other was finishing Isaac's stocking. I know he will never care, but I had really wanted to finish it by Christmas. I at least got his name on though, and I will finish it up soon. (If you click on the picture you can see a close up of our stockings. I made Ethan and mine when we first were married and have been adding the shepherd stockings as needed.)

So now Christmas is over. It has been quite a different Christmas for our family (and even more so for our pastor), but it has been a good Christmas. I have had the opportunity to reflect even more on why we celebrate since the "how" we celebrate was changed a bit this year. It was a good change too - less focus on stuff and more on others. It is my prayer that the "how" of this Christmas will continue for us throughout the year.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Under Our Tree

As I watch the kids' paper chain count down, now to 3 days until Christmas, I keep glancing under our tree.

It is pretty bare. Usually by this time it is overflowing with presents. Not this year. There are 2 presents the kids made for us at their activity day, 1 board game for the family, and 2 stocking stuffers for each of them - both totaling less than 5 dollars.

It's not that we aren't going to get gifts this year. We just haven't gotten gifts this year. (Ethan and I are actually not doing more than a few stocking stuffers for the two of us. We were going to get a chain saw for us, but someone from church just lent us his for the winter while he recovers from a surgery.)

In the fall, we weren't really thinking of Christmas gifts. Plus we were building and moving. In early November we were waiting for Isaac to come. The end of November held Thanksgiving and Hannah's birthday, along with our cows arriving.

Then December hit, along with our Pastor's strokes.

Ethan has spent much of the last two weeks at the hospital. When he isn't there, he is at the office preparing church services or holding youth group. When he is home, it is just long enough to do the chores and catch some sleep.

I mention all of this, that we don't have presents bought and Ethan hasn't been around this Christmas season, to say that this has actually been the most meaningful Christmas for me in a long time, maybe ever.

I obviously haven't gotten caught up in the materialism of the season, but more importantly, I have had a lot of time to reflect on the season.

Jesus came as a baby to our Earth to live, love, and eventually die on a cross to take the punishment for our sins - rising to new life to offer new life to us. What he gave wasn't wrapped up in pretty paper with a shiny bow. He gave of his time, his love, and himself to those with the greatest need ever.

I feel like this Christmas we have had an opportunity, although one we would never ask for, to give of ourselves to a family in need.

So although this year might not look like a traditional Christmas - shopping, presents piled under the tree, sitting as a family doing "Christmas" things - I believe it has looked a bit more like the reason we, as Christians, celebrate Christmas.

Although it has been hard and tiring at times, especially for Ethan, I feel I have celebrated the season as much - if not more - this year as any other year.

p.s. We still are planning on going shopping, weather permitted. Also, if you can't tell by the picture, we still have a bit more settling in to do. January will be unpacking/organize the house month for me.

p.p.s Our pastor (who's just 38 by the way) is doing well. His grim chance for surviving and at least a year of rehabilitation if he pulled through - according to the doctors - has turned into him talking, walking, making jokes, and possibly just 3 weeks of inpatient rehabilitation that will hopefully start soon. Everyone who looks at his charts says it's a miracle he's even alive.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Update on our Farm Hands

Today Isaac is 1 month old. How time flies! He is growing well and doing great. He is pretty low maintenance as far as newborn babies go. He is sleeping well and has only been getting me up once a night the last two weeks.

Caleb and Hannah are continuing to love their new little brother, as well as loving life on our farm. They both enjoy helping out outside, especially Caleb. He loves to follow Ethan around during chore time and help as he can.

And of course, they both love playing outside. I didn't let them go outside by themselves in the neighborhood we were in while living in town. Here, however, they can go out and play, and I can even keep a close eye on them with our big picture windows.

Thank you for the thoughts and prayers for our pastor. He is encouraging everyone with how he is recovering and was just taken out of critical care and put into a regular room yesterday.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Prayers for our Pastor

If we happen to pop into your mind for any reason today, we would appreciate prayers for our pastor. (Just in case you don't know, my husband is the associate/youth pastor.) He went into the emergency room on Tuesday morning with meningitis like symptoms after a 2 week long cold. They ruled out meningitis, but weren't sure what was going on. Yesterday, after seeing a neurologist, it was determined that his brain was swelling and that he needed immediate surgery due to multiple strokes that were affecting both sides of his brain. Yesterday evening they removed a portion of his skull and put a drain in to relieve pressure. They also removed the stroke affected part of his brain. Today he is still in critical condition, but we are encouraged that he is responsive. He has squeezed his wife's hand to answer some questions and has opened his eyes once.

So, if we happen to pop into your mind, please pray for our pastor and his family. (They have 3 children from 2nd grade to a junior in high school.) Thank you!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Searching for the Perfect Tree (Farm)

Ethan and I have talked about different ways we can diversify our farm. One of the things that popped up in our brainstorming was Christmas trees. We don't have enough land to have a full blown tree farm, but we thought that maybe we could plant some to make available to our more loyal customers. It would also be a great way to show them appreciation - we talked about how we could just have them available one day but have winter activities and treats on that day.

I don't know if we will ever go that route with our farm, but I think we will at least plant some for us to cut in the future.

The first year we moved to this area Ethan and I went to a Ma and Pa tree farm to cut our Christmas tree. I don't know if there is a tree farm that could beat this one. Not only were the trees beautifully trimmed - it seemed like almost every tree was a perfect triangle, but the couple who owned the tree farm genuinely cared about their customers. Waiting in the store were hot drinks, treats, and "Ma" and "Pa" who were eager to visit with you while their train circled the track around the ceiling. It seemed as if you were a new neighbor that they were meeting, and they made sure that you signed and dated their guest book when you bought your tree since they had gifts that they handed out to customers who returned so many years in a row.

Unfortunately Ma and Pa decided to retire and must have not had anyone to take over the tree farm. They told us to come on back out the following year anyway, although they wouldn't be advertising. Of course we went back, but we could tell that pickings would be slim after that year.

The following Christmas we began the search for a new tree farm, and we have yet to find one we will return to. One of the farms we went to had squarish trees, but the deal breaker for Ethan was that you weren't allowed to saw them down yourself. This year we found the most expensive farm of them yet. We walked around for an hour and a half and didn't see one tree that was not overly lopsided or bare on one side.

We almost drove away without a tree. The Ma and Pa store had told me earlier in the day (I called with hopes that they reopened) that if we brought our own saw we could just go cut one for free, although the trees hadn't been trimmed for quite awhile. We decided, however, with an approaching storm that we should just get one at the farm we were at if we wanted one this week. We settled on one we had came across earlier in the evening - I figured that with some string I could cinch up some branches to close a large hole, which I did end up doing.

So our search for a tree farm will continue a bit longer, until we can hopefully grow our own. Even so, I was reminded that even if we don't ever find those Christmas card triangle trees again, that is okay. Tonight my four year old son pulled up a chair in front of our lopsided, branches tied up to the trunk, undecorated tree. As he sat there he was grinning and talking out loud to himself saying, "This is the best Christmas tree that I ever had." (And thankfully lights and ornaments can do wonders!)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Do You See Them?

Do you see them?

How about now?


This mower has been the chickens' house ever since their coop blew away. It has kept them out of the elements, but we couldn't let them stay there permanently. What if it drifted over? (By the way, Ethan has peeked under for eggs but never found any.)

So last week Ethan salvaged the materials out of the ditch from the old coop, and he is working on piecing together a new coop. Although we might want something different in the spring that will house more hens, this coop will be a bit more suitable for winter than the mower would be. Just a few more finishing touches (and a trip to Walmart to get some staples), and their new home should be done.

Maybe they will thank us with some eggs . . .

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Moo is the new sound on our farm. Although we have had our little red heifer here for a bit now, she has been pretty quiet. This week though, the rest of the herd started to show up, and they aren't quite as quiet.

Out of our herd of 2o something, 7 cows and our bull have made the trip up from Ethan's dad's. So I'm sure there is a lot more mooing to come. I don't mind a bit. It is nice to hear our farm come to life.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Elusive Egg

Ethan and I continue to be in search of our elusive chicken eggs. They show up just long enough to get us excited, and then they vanish again as suddenly as they showed up. It's almost like a game.

Saturday morning Ethan found the stolen nest, and we thought we would be getting some eggs again.

But then IT happened. We weren't counting on IT to happen for a while yet. I guess that's one thing that happens when you don't have a TV set up due to no reception and when you don't check the news on the computer because of slow internet. IT will take you by surprise, and IT did. IT has thrown a loop in a few things around our farm actually.

So Saturday morning Ethan located the nested out grass where the eggs were being laid, but Saturday afternoon that spot began ro slowly disappear. By Sunday morning it was covered with around 5 inches of snow.

We weren't the only ones surprised by this white blanket though. Here is our little red hen, named Henny Penny by Caleb - just like the other red hens are named, looking for that spot of grass as well. Obviously she didn't find it, and our search continues for the elusive eggs.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Chicken Woes - But There is Hope!

I took this picture a few weeks ago for a blog post. (I have had troubles getting motivated enough to do posts because of our slow internet.) This bowl holds 4 "real" eggs (farm fresh), and 4 "pretend" eggs (from the store). The contrast between them is preety clear, and the nutritional differences between them contrast just as clearly.

So why did I even bother with the store eggs? Well, do you remember the day our chicken coop blew away? Since then we are no longer getting eggs, and the day I took that picture was the day I used our last real egg.

I tried to encourage the ladies to return to laying in their nest boxes after their coop blew away. I set them up in a protected area beside their food and waterer. They looked at them a bit but that is it. They are adamant that we should not be eating their eggs. (You can read about our other difficulties with them here.)

But there is hope now. After weeks of not getting any eggs, Ethan came to the door today grinning. He was carrying a chicken egg. He had found it in a little nested out portion of grass beside the pig pen, which is where the chickens spend most of their days now. There was also another egg in that spot, but it was broken. We will take that as evidence, however, that they are still laying . . . and that they are still eating their eggs too.

So now we are going to be keeping an eye on this spot to see if we can snatch any more eggs. Shhhhh . . . don't tell the chickens!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Harvest Time

Yesterday Ethan spent the afternoon and evening at a church member's farm helping him with his harvest. Our friend has 20 acres of corn that he planted and harvests with equipment that some might consider antique. By helping pull and unload wagons, Ethan was able to cut the work time in half. And he was able to play with our tractor a bit!

After the kids were up from there naps, I decided to take them over to watch. As you can see, it was getting a bit dark when we arrived. (I should have known better than to trust YahooMaps to guide me through the sticks - it led me to a road that has been closed for quite some time adding an extra 30 minutes of driving.) Even so, the kids were able to watch the last wagon load be put into the corn crib.

It is nights like this that I am so thankful to be in the country. If we were still in town we probably would have been sitting inside, most likely with the TV on in the background. Instead, Ethan was able to help out a friend, the kids got to experience the harvest, and we were surrounded with the peacefulness of a quite counry evening.

Friday, November 21, 2008

It's a Boy!

He's here! Isaac Daniel was born Tuesday night. He weighed in at 6 lbs 15.6 oz and measured 20 inches long. We are all doing great and are enjoying getting to know our little guy.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Chopping Wood

Our wood supply is pretty small since getting a wood pile built up was low on our list this fall. (We knew we could buy some if needed this year.)

Today, however, Ethan had some time to chop wood. As I watched, I realized that watching Ethan chop wood is something I really like to do.

Not because I'm not the one chopping it though. In all honesty, I was itching to go start stacking it as he was chopping. Until our baby is born and I've had some time to recover, however, I'm on orders to take it easy.

So the reason I enjoy watching Ethan chop wood . . . It's manly. Not only does it show off strength, but it also is a picture of how he provides for our family.

Right now I am pretty helpless as far as work goes. I stay at home with the kids, which I feel is a very important job, but it doesn't provide much income for us. Also, right now I shouldn't even carry a load of wet laundry out by myself to hang up to dry. Ethan has been putting in a lot of extras to help keep things running around here during a very full time in our lives as it is.

So thank you, Ethan, for chopping our wood. :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

All Toasty Inside

Over the weekend my parents came down for a couple of days to help us get the final winterizing done on our house. Ethan and my dad put in quite a bit of work and got the mudroom insulated, the stove and stove pipe hooked up, and the storm door on. I was hoping to have these things done before the baby arrived, and I was relieved to make it through the weekend so that Ethan could help out.

Yesterday Ethan went down to the woods and brought back a wagon full of wood so we were able to fire up the stove. I had planned on doing some organizing in the house, but I couldn't help myself and laid in front of the stove for well over an hour enjoying the heat. Even though we had our electric heat going, which kept the temperature at a comfortable level, it is a different type of heat. Wood heat just seems to sink in straight to your bones.

As far as when the baby is coming, I am a bit overdue now compared to when Caleb and Hannah came. Compared to my due date though, I am fine. So now I am just relaxing and enjoying our warm house.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Settling In

Right now our house is functional, although there are still quite a few boxes laying around in piles. Part of the reason is that I am more concerned about obeying my lifting restriction through the last part of the pregnancy than I am the piles of boxes. Also, in order to put more boxes away, we need to do more construction (shelves and storage areas). And in order to do more construction, we have to put boxes away. What will probably end up happening is that we will just shuffle piles of boxes for awhile while we work.

Yesterday, however, we were able to permanently unpack one mountain of boxes in the bathroom. We were needing a cabinet for our bathroom to hold closet things, and we found one on Craig's list. It is exactly what I had wanted, and the family was kind enough to hold it for us for a couple of weeks until we could fit it in our schedule to pick it up. Even though we still have a little work to do in the bathroom, it is nice to walk in and see it without stacks of boxes.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I Am Not a Cow

Wow, I guess it's been awhile since my last post. I've been busy getting final things ready for the hospital, things ready for the sitter for the kids, and also busy just kicking my feet up a bit. Anyway, back to my post.

Since this February we have had 7 calves, and we have watched most of them come right before a storm hit - ice storms, snows storms, rain storms, etc. Yesterday we had our 7th calf come, and last night it rained all night long.

Right now I am at the exact spot in my pregnancy when Caleb and Hannah were born. So before I went to bed I asked Ethan if he thought I might follow the path of our cows and go into labor during the night with the storm. The verdict. I am not a cow.

That's okay though. I don't really mind going a little longer with this baby. Friday and Saturday my dad is going to help Ethan hook up the pipe and the wood burning stove for our house. They are also going to insulate the mudroom - a lot of cool air sneaks in to our house through that room!

So my hopes are to actually hold off through the weekend, although I did give Ethan permission to come out and work on the house if I am in the hospital, after the baby would be born of course!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Enjoying the Farm

Tonight was really our first chance to enjoy the farm as a family since we have moved here. We have had lots of rain, mud, and cold weather, along with some colds, that have kept us inside. But tonight the weather was great, the kids are feeling better, and everyone was finally home at the same time too.

Ethan took the kids out to help with chores while our supper of mashed potatoes, veggies, and ham was cooking. I snuck out as soon as I could to follow along and take some pictures.

After the animals were fed, we had a little extra time before supper yet so Ethan hooked up the hay rack and took the kids and myself for a hayride.

It was nice to be able to see the property for the first time with large portions of the prairie grass down. (I haven't had the chance or felt like walking around since the hay was cut.) The kids also had a lot of fun riding behind the tractor and going down to the woods.

Although we still have lots of work to do in the house and around the yard, I'm glad we are able to take little breaks to just enjoy being here.

(Even though this last picture is blurry I still like it with our house ahead, the bale of hay, and the transition between the cut and uncut grasses.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Stormed By the Combine

Right across the road from us is a field of soybeans. I’ve been waiting for the combine to show up since beans started coming out here probably two weeks ago. We really enjoy watching the combines, especially Caleb.

Today, however, I could have done without the combine. You see, today the conditions were just right for the perfect storm.

We just got done with some pretty cold weather that left water outside frozen in the morning, but today is a beautiful fall day. It has warmed up considerably and the sun is shining bright. Which leads me to the storm.

You see, this morning the bugs decided that after hiding from the cold for about a week, they better come get some sun. First we saw the flies. Then a few Asian beetles started showing up. And then the combine showed up.

If you haven’t lived by bean fields before, you may not know that they are home to Asian beetles here in Iowa. These are the little bugs that look like lady bugs, but they aren’t. These guys are not red but orange, a bit bigger, and a WHOLE lot smellier! In fact, they just plain stink.

So when the combine started across the road, the beetles got stirred up from their home. Then they realized that it was a great day to fly around and catch some sun. If it was colder, they might have hunkered down a bit, but not today. Today is a great day to be a bug and fly.

Now there’s one more thing about these beetles. They originally weren’t from our area, but from an area where they enjoy hanging out on the sides of rocky cliffs. We don’t have sides of cliffs here. But we do have sides of houses. So after they fly around a bit, where do they go? To the sides of houses. Or barns. Or barn houses.

Our whole house is now covered with these little guys. Here are some pictures I took.

I should have known that they would be all over the side of the building like they were the windows. But curiousity got the best of me, and I went outside anyway. (Don't be fooled by the red siding, they are all over that too. You can click on the picture to enlarge it if you want proof.) My mistake. I flicked quite a few off before I attempted to go inside again.

That’s alright though. We don’t have our screen/storm doors on yet, the ones with the tight seal, so they are finding their way in without my help.

Fortunately, we have some Ortho Home Defense spray my mother-in-law had left before we moved in. Unfortunately I haven’t sprayed any of it since I am at the very end of my pregnancy and am being overly cautious (and Ethan has been super busy so I haven’t bugged him about it - no pun intended.) Since they like to hang out high on the walls though, we’ll just vacuum them up at night. (By the way, use an old vacuum for this or at least be prepared to throw away your vacuum bag when you are done. Remember - they stink!)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hold On to Your Hat - And Your Chickens

Last night, or early morning (whatever you want to say), Ethan and I were woken up to our NOAA weather radio's alert alarm. The warning - high winds for the upcoming day. Okay. We went back to bed.

In the morning, all was still calm. Off to church we went. By the time church had gotten out though, we understood what the alert was all about.

We were in sustained 30 mile an hour winds with gusts up to 60 miles an hour. On the way home from church a dumpster blew across the road right in front of us. And that was in town.

Now, about our property. Our farm is on a hill. And we built our house on top of that hill. And there are no trees on top of that hill. Just our barn/house.

We are experiencing every bit of those 60 mile an hour gusts. I was relieved to pull up to our drive and see the house still intact. :)

Although, not everything up here has faired as well as our house.

Do you remember our chicken coop?

We thought we over built it. It is a movable coop, however I could barely manage to scoot it to its next spot on my own. Ethan could a bit better, but when it came time to move it any large distance, he would get my help.
So here are the nest boxes, the feeder, and the waterer. But where's the coop?
Oh . . . Here it is. A good 50 feet from where it should be. Lucky for the chickens, they weren't inside. Lucky for us, it decided to obey the road sign.
The same gust that blew away the coop also blew open our sliding door on the end of our building. Thankfully it didn't rip it off. Ethan is working right now to secure it a bit more.

The chickens, however, are going to have to fend for themselves for awhile. With winter coming, and a baby in a couple of weeks, they are pretty low on the priority list. Among other things we still have to install our wood burning stove, insulate our mudroom, take our pigs to market, and prepare the property for the cows to arrive.

So hopefully all of those coyotes that howl at night don't notice the flattened chicken coop that is in the ditch.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ethan Hits the Air

Last week someone came out to do some recording for Weekend America, a radio program on National Public Radio, for their Conversations With America series. They interviewed Ethan about what we are up to.

Although we don't get the program in Iowa, we were able to check it out here where you can read it or download the audio - which includes some extra sound bytes. The link to download the audio is above the picture.

Also, there is a little slide show under Ethan's picture. When I say little, I mean little! It has two pictures, but one of them is of our bull who is a little too much like a teddy bear and will back you into a corner to get a good scratch.

Hope you enjoy. :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Joys of 10 Foot Ceilings

We decided to make our house with 10 foot ceilings to give us more options with the building down the road. It is a bit more to heat, but with ceiling fans in all of the rooms and a wood burning stove, we weren't too concerned.

Even tough I'm not quite sure of the the decorating rules for high ceilings (to tell you the truth, I'm not sure of them for regular ceilings either.), I do have to say that I really like having 10 foot ceilings. It really helps with making the rooms feel bigger. I was also excited about the size of Christmas tree we could have.

There was one thing that I didn't think about though until I started lunch today . . . boy is it fun to toss pizza dough!

Pizza Crust* 1 c hot water
* 2 1/4 tsp yeast
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 tsp sugar
* 2 T oil
* 3 cups flour

Stir in 1/2 of the flour with the other ingredients, and then knead in the last half. Fold into a mound shape until the dough is smooth. Set aside 20-30 minutes, allowing dough to rise.

Preheat oven to 400

Gently push the air out of the mound of dough after rising is completed. Flatten the outer 2 inches of the mound, forming a flat ring around the mound.

Carefully pick up the dough and use fists to toss the dough out. Gently finish shaping on the pan.

Puncture the dough with a fork to prevent bubbling while baking. Prebake the crust 7-10 minutes. Top and finish baking pizza.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Happy Hens

Now that we are living at the farm, our hens get to roam free. We had them in a movable pen, which got moved daily (when we weren't wrapped up with construction). They still use that pen, but now we just open the door and let them hop out in the morning and lock them back up in the evening.

It is amazing how tame these ladies became while they were in that pen though. Our hens originally came from Ethan's uncle and were not too fond of people.

Now, however, as they enjoy wandering around the farm, they can often be found just outside of our door. (Maybe this is due to me considering a chicken part of the farm garbage disposal, as long as the scraps aren't poultry products of course - to prevent disease not cannibalism.) They have also came right up to my 2 yr old daughter a few times, probably looking for handouts. (For those of you who know how cautious Hannah is, she did look a bit concerned but managed to go about with what she was doing.)

We are really enjoying having our chickens where we live again. It is nice being able to rescue their eggs and fun to look out the window and see what they are up to. It is also nice to see the hens are content and happy. I'm not a big PETA fan or environmentalist, but I do appreciate seeing creation in its more natural state. To me, there is just something peaceful about it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Attack of the Centipedes

We have now been officially staying in our house for over a week. Although we haven't had much time to settle in (we have been slowly emptying out the "town house" over the last week), I do have the kitchen all put together. The cabinets are filled, the appliances are up and running, and it is the one room that is void of mountains of boxes - a few hills of them, but no mountains.

Now that the majority of the in and out of construction and moving is done with, we can start keeping the doors shut. Because of this, our house is slowly emptying of the little critters that have come in - thankfully none with less than 6 legs! At night Ethan becomes the great fly hunter and vacuums up all of the flies he can find that have gone to sleep on the ceiling. During the day, I keep my eye open for things I can sweep up as well. We had quite a few large, ugly wolf spiders move in before all of the walls were up, and I think I have gotten the majority of those.

The one pest that we just haven't won the battle with yet is the centipede. These little annoyances continue to surface throughout the house. Some days I wouldn't be surprised if we swept up over 50 of them. At first I thought that they were just coming out of construction hiding like the wolf spiders, but upon further investigation it was determined that they are actually coming into the house.

I'm not that worried though. I have seen where they are coming in at, and it is where construction hasn't been completed. We still have some foaming and caulking to do around the doors - you can actually see outside through where the door jams meet the walls in the mud room. There are also a few other spots that will get foam and caulk too to help seal things up. (We did caulk around the entire floor before walls went up, so I know that is sealed well.)

Thankfully, these are the one pest that I can put up with for awhile since foaming and caulking the tiny cracks are low on the priority list right now. (It will probably get done in the next week or two.) These little guys are slow, they stay on the floor, and the kids love to hunt for them and sweep them up. The only thing I could do without, besides them of course, is the crunch they make when they are accidentally stepped on.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tonight I Sat in My Head

Tonight, while Ethan was at meetings, I unpacked a bit and then just sat. As I was staring into the kitchen, the weirdest feeling came. It was like I was sitting in my head . . . and in my computer . . . and in my file box.

Since February this whole project has not only consumed my mind, but is has been continuously passing through my thoughts, being drawn up on the computer, and shuffled through the file box. And tonight I was sitting right in the middle of it all, seeing it with my eyes. Very strange.

I do have to say, even with the flooring not completed, trim needing to go on, and boxes all over the place - it is exactly what I had envisioned. It is actually even better. When I look around, not only do I see what was in my head, but I also see the generosity and love of so many people who have helped out.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sweet Potatoes and Another New Closing Date

If you are trying to figure out what sweet potatoes and new closing dates have in common, you might be thinking awhile because there isn't much besides the fact that they are sharing this post.

First off, we just found out today that our new closing date, which was supposed to be tomorrow, is not going to happen. Closing will now be at the end of the week at the earliest . . . maybe . . . Even so, we are still moving out completely. My due date is getting close, and we don't want to be in limbo anymore. Hopefully things will get finalized soon.

Next up, sweet potatoes. I was reminded by Lindsie's post at This Abode that I should probably give another update. Yesterday I took a look at my plants but didn't get around to digging them. If you are wondering when you should dig yours, 100-140 days after planting them is recommended. Although, you will want to get them out before the first hard frost since it could damage the roots (which are the sweet potatoes). If you would like more information about how to harvest them and prep them for storage, you can check out this site.

Oh, and just in case you want to do some experimenting, I am going to try and root a cutting off of my plant and bring it in the house. I heard they make neat house plants. But the reason I'm doing this is to try and skip the rooting process by using cuts off of a house plant instead. (I'll still root some next year just in case!)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Moving Day . . . Again

Today is our new moving day, and it looks like this one is holding. We are going to be moving furniture and then boxes today. We have until Tuesday to be all moved out, so what doesn't get done today, we will pick up the next few days.

With that said, I might be a stranger for the next few weeks. I hope to keep posting, but with the baby coming soon (my due date is mid November, but both Caleb and Hannah were early), I might just take a bit to rest up and recover after the move. Although, sitting and typing has been one of my most restful activities the last few months. So maybe there will be lots of posts before the baby comes! If not, picture me sitting outside under our porch watching Caleb and Hannah play on the farm. :)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Progress and Pictures

We are continuing to make progress at our house, and we are knocking off projects that will be good to have done before we move all the boxes and furniture in. We were actually going to start staying out there last night, but the rain from Monday night made the roads (and trailer) a little too wet and messy to want to move our mattresses.

We do hope to start slowly moving things over now. We have planned on Saturday being the big moving day, where we will take the majority of our things over that are still here in town. We have until Tuesday to move out though, so we will use the last couple of days to grab anything that we didn't get Saturday.

Here are some pictures:Our bedroom floor is completely laid.
The kitchen counter tops are in.
Outlets and fixtures are being put together.

After Ethan gets done at work today, we plan on starting to lay the floor in the kids' bedroom. We are also going to hook up some more outlets and fixtures, and maybe scoot the kitchen appliances in place. (If someone else comes out - I can't be of much help with that right now.)

Some of the other things left to do (but things that we will probably work on after we move) are laying the floor in the baby's room, finishing up the floor in the main living area (we are very close to being done with that), base and window trim, doors and trim on the upper closet storage, tiling for the shower walls, and finishing the mudroom and storage area. It sounds like a lot, but it will be much easier to work over there when we are living there - especially in the evenings after the kids's bedtime.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Our Missing Link

If you have kept up with our livestock, you might know that we have Dexter cattle. These are a smaller breed of cattle that come with a number of reasons people would want them. They can be used as oxen, milk cows, for beef, or some people just have one or two for the family's pet cow. As of now, there is a market for them also as seed stock, or breeding stock.

The reason that we decided to get this breed though, is because they are great foragers (they do a great job converting grass into weight gain), and because they are the perfect size for a family freezer.

Even though we don't plan on breeding them for seed stock, Ethan and I have still kept a careful eye on the genetics that we are bringing into our herd. If we are buying them, we might as well get ones that can be sold for different purposes if need be.

Over the last year, we have picked up almost all of the genetic variations that are available in this breed: with and without horns, long and short legs, and black and dun. The only thing we were really missing was a red heifer/cow - the most uncommon color. Our bull is a carrier of red (although he is dun in color), but without a red heifer/cow, we wouldn't be getting any red calves.

Ethan has been telling me all summer about the red calves that come up for sale. I have always been a bit hesitant about them, and Ethan has just moved on. Well, a couple of weeks ago, the price got dropped considerably on one of these little red heifers since the owner really didn't want to winter it over. So Ethan asked again, and I found myself saying to go ahead.

So on Saturday we went to pick her up, and she is a cutie! It worked out quite well since I was needing to go see my new nephew before my due date gets any closer. Ethan also helped my brother do some reshingling while we were in the area, and we introduced my aunt to our Dexter too. They have been tossing around getting some for their farm, and they now plan on having some by winter.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Good Food, Good Friends

When we first got the news that our closing date had changed, and then we decided that we wouldn't move but use the extra time to finish up some projects at the new house, I was a bit overwhelmed.

If that news had come a week or two earlier, I would have been pretty excited about it. But it came less than 36 hours before we had planned on moving - and I had the house packed and ready to go.

So the first thought that came to me was that if we weren't moving, I was going to have to unpack to live in town longer and then repack things up again. And I was exhausted. And I had JUST been put on a 20 lb lifting limit with my pregnancy since I had been overdoing it a bit and was pulling muscles. (I was trying to get the house packed in time by myself since our closing date was soon approaching. Grrr . . . )

On Friday, which was supposed to be our moving day, I took the kids to the activity day group that we attend. We just started going last year, and I have been enjoying getting to know everyone. So on Friday, I was still pretty frazzled about the whole thought of not moving yet. (At that point we didn't know when the new closing date would be so we didn't really have any plans made as for when we might now move. We have since found out it is the 14th of October - we are going to move trip by trip starting Monday I think.) I mentioned to some of my friends our situation since they had heard that particular day was supposed to be our moving day.

Once I mentioned that I just planned on eating a lot of fast food for the next few weeks to keep from unpacking the majority of the kitchen, one of them came up with a different plan. She sent out an e-mail requesting meals for us. And this whole week we have been blessed with just that - casseroles, calzones, homemade breads, homemade jam, fruit, vegetables, desserts . . .

With all of the yummy meals we have received, it looks like I won't have to unpack our kitchen until we unpack it for good in the new house. What a blessing!

(By the way, this is the youth center fridge next door in case you were wondering.)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

More Floor

The last couple days we have been laying floor as we get the chance. It is coming along well. Slow, but well.

Last night we also had our first camp out at the farm! It was nice to put the kids to bed while we worked past bedtime, and it was nice to wake up in our new house. :)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bowling Alley in the Living Room

We just worked until noon today, but we got the bowling alley laid out in the living room. At least, that's what Ethan said it looked like.

As you can see, we started laying our floor. We are using stick down planks from Menards. We had originally planned on using a glueless vinyl that resembled hardwood floor until we found these. They are quite a bit heavier and won't indent with heavy furniture like the vinyl would. Also, if you get a tear in your vinyl (which has actually happened a few places in the parsonage we are in now with the same brand of floor and it only being 4 years old), you pretty much have to live with it or replace your whole floor. With these, you can pop out the damaged one and replace it with a new one, although they come with a lifetime guarantee for residential use.

From what we have laid down so far, we are very happy with it. It looks really nice and seems like it will hold up quite well. It will be nice with the wood burning stove and with living on the farm to not have carpet. (We will have some area rugs.) They were also a great price when I bought them in February, although they now cost over 1/3 more than I paid for them with the rise in material costs.

This week we plan on continuing to lay the floor. Once it is down in the bedrooms, we will probably start moving stuff over. I'm trying to convince Ethan to just take the pack and play for Hannah, a cushion and sleeping bag for Caleb, and air mattress for us out on Monday and we can just start camping there. We'd come back in the mornings to clean up and go back out after Ethan is done with work. We can then put the kids down for bed and continue to work - and be able to sleep in our new home. After all, we do have a bathroom now! We'll see though . . .

Thursday, September 25, 2008

All I Wanted Was a Bathroom

From the start of this whole building project, I told Ethan that all I wanted before moving in was a bathroom. I didn't mind living in construction as long as there was a bathroom. I think that if I wasn't expecting and didn't have a 2 and 4 year old, the bathroom might not have been that big of a deal, but right now it is.

Although I wouldn't want to live IN the bathroom, the bathroom has all I really need to live comfortably : A place to get cleaned up, a place to "go" besides the tall grass, and I could even do dishes in there if need be. As for cooking, the kitchen didn't matter that much to me. You can do a lot with a crock pot and a grill. But the bathroom - to me, that was a must.

If you read the post from yesterday, you have seen that it looks like we might have a bit more time before we move out to the farm. Until yesterday, however, we were planning on spending our first night out there tomorrow. So . . . I present to you our bathroom.

Although the bathroom isn't 100% completed, we now have a functioning sink, tub, and toilet (along with hot water) - this farmer's wife's dream! It isn't big by any means, but it will do its job.

Hannah and Caleb were also quite excited to see things hooked up. They wanted to try out the new toilet as soon as they saw that it flushed, and they wanted to continue to try it out all day long - even when they just "didn't have any".

So now I am ready to move! When they got the final plumbing done in the bathroom today, I was ready to start moving boxes over myself. As much as I want to move right now, I do see the wisdom behind staying put a little longer until the rest of the floors are completed. It will make life a lot easier for everyone not having to shuffle furniture and boxes around, especially for Ethan who is the only one in our family who is strong enough or allowed to move things over 20 lbs.

Today all of the cracks (from the cement saw) got filled in the other rooms. Tomorrow it sounds like we will try to get the stick down tile primer on the cement. After that cures for a day we can start laying the floor. I'm hoping it won't take long!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

You've Got to Be Kidding

This week has not gone well in many, many aspects. I will spare you all of the details, but for the week before needing to move in, it has not gone well.

If you have been keeping track, our closing date was set for Friday with Saturday being an extra moving day. For the last 3 weeks especially, many people have been working extremely hard to help us get ready, and Ethan and I continued to work late into the night after everyone went home, and even to bed.

We are exhausted, the kids are stretched to the limit, but we are ready to move on Friday. The house is livable, utility and post office arrangements are made, and the whole house is in towers of boxes with just the necessities out for the next few days. Many people have worked hard to get us to this point, and family members have signed up for vacation time to help us move.

And then it happened. Shortly before we had to leave the house for youth activities, the phone rang. The closing date had just been changed. Not a day. Not two days. But two weeks from now - at best. It could be longer.

So we are presented with two choices. Choice number 1: Wait to move. Choice number 2: Move anyway.

Right now, I'm not happy with either of the choices.

If we stayed here, we would be able to work on the house a bit more and get some more things polished up, the biggest one being getting the flooring laid. We had planned on just going room by room, but this way we wouldn't have to move any furniture. (Although, since we are doing stick down planks, it isn't like what you would have to do to put carpet in.) But, our whole house is packed up. My whole kitchen, all of the kids' toys, towels . . . You name it. So I would need to unpack quite a few boxes in order to stay here and then have to repack them again. Plus, there are towers of other boxes all around the house that we would have to weave through until we moved.

The last 3 weeks though, we have busted our hind ends (along with others) to get to this point where we could move. Caleb has been so sad lately with all of the chaos and not seeing Ethan much or having much quality time with me. I have been telling him the last few weeks when we are going to move, and he has been watching it on his calendar. He knew that date was when we would have more family time again, not being at different locations, and that all of his things I had packed away would be coming back out. I was also looking forward to being able to just put the kids to bed and down for naps in their own room - all set up and cozy, but then I would still be able to work on little projects on the house. It would seem kind of silly, however, to move when we could stay here and work on some of these projects without having to move furniture and unpacked boxes around. Plus, we will have another month's worth of housing allowance going to this place whether we move now or not.

So without much time to process this, here is our game plan. We aren't going to move until we have the floor laid. When the floor is down, we will reassess our situation. Hopefully we will soon learn when the new closing date is so we can pace ourselves.

I feel like we have been giving our all and running a marathon (or a 100 mile race if you are our crazy ultra running friend who blogs about it!) trying to set a personal best, practically passing out many times in the process only to get to where we think the end is and hear, "I don't know where the finish line is. In fact, I don't think this race has one marked. Also, no one was really timing you anyway. Nice run though. You want a cookie? (By the way, you also owe us another payment for the entry fee.)"

So, I apologize for my rant. In order to offset it, I'll close with some positives. We have truly been blessed with all of the hard work that has been done by MANY people to help us get to our Friday deadline. The house is looking great, and it will be closer to being completed than we would have gotten to when we do move in. I'll leave you with a picture of our cabinets going up from earlier this week. (I haven't had a chance to take one with them completely up, but they look great!)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Happy Blog'iversary Ethan!

Today my husband is celebrating his 2nd Blog'iversary! If you get a chance, drop by his site and send him a congrats. Also, feel free to leave him any comments that you want that pop into your head about this GREAT GQ chicken farmer picture! (Make sure you click and enlarge it to get the full effect!)

Kids These Days . . .

Yesterday our cabinets got hung in our house. They look great! (I'll take a picture when doors get put back on them.) With the cabinets up, and the week coming to an end quickly - when we will move in - Ethan and I decided that it was time to make a Menards run to pick up some things for the bathroom and kitchen.

We headed out just shortly before supper. This time my mom was able to watch the kids, so it was just the two of us. We went to the farm, picked up the stock trailer, and headed down the gravel road again on our way.

It wasn't even a mile later when Ethan decided that something was wrong with the trailer. When we pulled over, he soon discovered that it wasn't the trailer, but the truck. We had blown a tire. (Funny thing . . . we had the truck at the shop last week to get our two new tires on. There was a "building emergency" that popped up, so I had to pick it up before it was done to run an errand. We haven't had time to get it back, and the tire that would have been replaced is the one that blew.)

So, Ethan got the tire off and we got on the phone. After calling every tire store in the area (closed) and all of our friends and church members programed into our cell phone, we were left with two options. 1- have my mom try to dig out buried car seats, figure out how to hook them up in her van, get the kids loaded, and find us on a back country road 20 minutes away that she wasn't familiar with or 2 - wait 45 minutes for a friend from church to come and get us.

We decided option 2 would be quicker.

Since we didn't have much to do, we made the best of our time. There was a farmer baling hay down the gravel road with a baler that would shoot the square bales into the rack. So we walked down and watched him. It was actually kind of nice, minus the lost time and blown tire.

The whole time we were standing on that gravel road though, with a broken down truck not far away (and me being 8 months pregnant), we only had 1 of the many vehicles that passed by stop to ask us if we needed help.

And when the truck stopped, out jumped a young high school student with his wide smile showing off his braces. We told him that we had a ride coming, but thanked him for stopping. He smiled wider, nodded, and hopped back in his truck. Kids these days . . . there is hope!

By the way, after we got back to our house we used my mom's van to go to Des Moines. We weren't able to get everything since we didn't have the trailer, but we knocked off a good hour and a half of shopping and decision making and had a great 10:00 supper at ihop. We'll go back for the rest today when the tire is fixed.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ahead of Schedule!

The last two days have been filled with progress. The plan at the beginning of the week was to texture the house today. If you noticed, however, we got to that point a couple days ago. So yesterday the house was primed. And today we just kept going!

Ethan got up first thing in the morning and went out to spray the ceiling paint on with the gentleman from our church who got the crew of workers together. I spent the morning trying to get our paint tinted.

(To make a long story "somewhat" short, we were up until 11:00 pm last night trying to get it. No luck. I went to a True Value's paint shop this morning. Their color matching machine was out. No problem. They could call the main company office with the paint names and get the formula. Great! I left my paint samples with them. Problem - less than 2 hours before we needed the paint I get a call that says they can't get the formula for 4 of our 6 colors. So I go get my color chips back and head to Wal-Mart, who has been low on paint this past week but does have a color matching machine. I buy all they have available and get it tinted just shortly before noon, when we need the paint. If it wasn't enough, I would run to the next town in the afternoon. Okay . . . so it wasn't that short of a story.)

Before I get to the painting though, I can't forget to mention the crew that worked on finishing our doors and molding the last two days. My dad headed up the operation, and 5 others worked with him. After they finished up at noon, they came out to help paint too.

Okay, so after lunch the painting crew started. I even remembered my camera this time Tim was out and got proof he really comes out! (Trust me, it's him even though you can only see his back.)

So . . . here are the colors. I debated posting them since the camera didn't capture the true color well and I'm awful at naming colors, but oh well. You'll get the idea.

Here is the bathroom/laundry room- light tannish
Here is the kitchen/dining room (left) and living room (right) - cream and dark tan
There will be a length of wide decorative molding that will run up the line with a crown molding cap a the ceiling - kind of like a pillar.
Here is Caleb and Hannah's room. Caleb wanted the house green so badly through this whole process so I told him he could have a green bedroom. It will be a farm room to make it gender neutral. I drove their toy John Deere tractors over the paint chips to find one that would go well with the John Deere Tractors. If you are on Ethan's side of the family (my dad works for John Deere), don't worry. Minneapolis Moline will be represented too, along with Farmalls (What we have). I just couldn't have greens clashing!
Here is the baby's room. (One day we will have a girls room and boys room)
And here is our room. It goes with our quilt I am almost finished making.So there you go. Those are kind of our colors. And the great thing is, the paint that I scrounged up at Wal-Mart was JUST enough! On my way over there I was praying that they would have just what we needed. If True Value wouldn't have been able to pick up those two colors though, we would have been short.

Alright, so now that I've spent WAY too much time on the computer, I'm going to bed!
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