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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Across the Fence

Okay, so we took the fence down last spring, but here is our closest neighbor who is a family just about the same age as us. They moved into their place not too long after we bought ours so we are both newbies out here.

They seem like they will be great neighbors. The husband stops frequently to talk to Ethan if he is driving by and sees Ethan outside. They have around 7-9 acres, I believe, and are going to have some livestock as well.

When Ethan and I found out that they had just bought the property, however, we became a little jealous. If only we had know that it was for sale at the same time, we could have boughten it along with ours and would have had a house already built. But more importantly, we would have had the barn! (The truth is that we could never have afforded both properties.)

From talking to the husband though, Ethan feels our neighbor wishes he had more land. So here we are eying their barn and they are checking out our land. :) Funny how we work, huh? Oh well. At least we can both have what the realtors call borrowed views. It IS a pretty barn to look at that we didn't have to pay for.

Everything else aside, we are excited to get to know our new neighbors and excited about who will be across from us when we put up the new fence.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Our Wood Pile

Things have been crazy around here lately. Actually, for a long time. We have had a hard start of the year farm wise, around Christmas Ethan was supporting the pastor and his family during his massive stroke, in November Isaac was born and we celebrated Hannah's birthday and Thanksgiving, in October we moved in and got busy unpacking, before we moved in we were in the craziness of construction and packing, before construction we were removing the old fence line, which brings me to spring when we bought the place.

All of that is to say that Ethan hasn't had much time to cut wood for our wood stove, which is our only source of heat. We have been extremely blessed, however, and have been able to keep warm. It seems like just when we are about to run out of wood Ethan has a half day that lines up just right to cut some more. We have also had people bring us out wood out of the blue just as we are about to run out.

Here is a picture of our wood pile now. At the beginning of the month we received over 5 truck loads of wood that 3 different people brought out for us. We have had some pretty cold days where I have been chucking wood into the stove as fast as I can, and yet we still have quite a pile.

When I look out the window and see the wood pile I am so thankful for community and hope that we can bless people like we have been blessed out here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

This Little Piggie . . .

These little piggies went to market . . .

These little piggies stayed home . . .

Today we took our first batch of livestock to the butcher. What a big step for me! All of my animals were pets to me growing up, and I never thought I would be able to eat anything that I "knew". I agreed to give this a try though since it is supposed to help Ethan's cholesterol. (If the difference in meat doesn't make a difference then the work will!) We agreed not to name what we would eat, and off to the butcher our pigs went today. If any of you knew me before I met Ethan, that should tell you just how much I love him!

Anyway, we had 9 pigs. Until last week we only had 2 sold so we just reserved 5 for today's trip. Word has been getting around though, and we will be needing to take some more a different day. It looks as if we might just have 2 left now. We were planning on keeping 3 for breeding, but we would rather sell an extra and buy in feeders if we have to right now.

So away the 5 little (actually big) piggies went today. When Ethan dropped them off he was excited to see the locker we took them to won the 2008 best cottage bacon of the year award. I'm glad we ordered some!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


What do you do when things have been tough around the farm? You take the first break you get and find something enjoyable about it.

Ethan has a been gone a lot lately with work, and when he is home it seems like there is usually something that pops up on the farm that needs immediate attention. Last night, however, was a pretty calm night around our place so we went sledding.

We have a great hill just outside our house, which is actually where two hills meet up forming a run down to the woods. The bottom 2/3 of it still have pretty high grasses, but the top had been mowed down so we were able to send the kids down the top 1/3. Next year, after the grasses have been grazed, we will have quite the run!

The kids had a blast and it was a reminder of one of the big reasons why we are even doing this - for the lifestyle we want for our family and the lessons our kids will learn through it.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Construction News

I think it's about time for a house update, so here it is. :)

We haven't been able to work on the house as much as we had planned this winter due to a number of things, but we are still making progress. Right after Thanksgiving we finished laying the last 7ish feet of flooring in the kitchen and living room. It was nice to not have our Christmas tree on cement. We also finished laying the hallway, except for the edge by the wall. As you can see, the hallway makes a great bowling alley!

After the New Year, I was able to work on a bit more.
- I cleared the laundry room of construction stuff and it now has bars to hang clothes. I was getting tired of drying racks strewn all over the house and couldn't dry clothes fast enough to keep up with the laundry. (I don't use the dryer for clothes if I can help it.) Now I can keep the hampers under control and dry all of our clothes in the laundry room.

-Ethan finished wiring the laundry and bath outlets. No more extension cords running through the hall to the washing machine!

-I cleaned out and organized our mudroom so we can walk to the back. We now have a place for our indoor wood pile against a wall. It was just being dropped inside the door since the walls were all taken. I also insulated a section of the wall between the mudroom and the bathroom to keep pipes from freezing and so cold air couldn't come in under the tub, which made for a VERY cold bathroom. (The mudroom is insulated, but it is shut off from the house so it gets quite cold.)

-Ethan and I cleaned up and cleared up the shed attached to the house so two calves could stay in there this past week. (Yes, we now have cattle on the other side of our living room wall and behind a bedroom closet. It keeps things interesting.) To do this, we carried over a deep freeze and set it up in the mudroom which just happened to have been organized a few days before. (We needed to get the deep freeze over anyway since we will soon be filling it with pork.)

-I moved the mountain of boxes that were on the side wall of Isaac's room to the back wall of his room. We can now lay flooring 3/4 of the way into his room.

- Pictures and shelves have been hung up in the living room and kitchen.

And this weekend while Ethan was away again I put the globes on our light fixtures, rearranged boxes in the hall pantry and hung the last 3 closet doors for the pantry, and I hung curtains (just temporary until trim goes up).

We do still have a bit to do, but it's coming step by step.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Snowed Home Alone

Yesterday Ethan was at the Practical Farmers of Iowa conference. He is speaking a bit there today but was planning on driving the hour back last night to do chores in the morning and then head back to the conference.

Last night, however, we got a bit of winter weather. He was on his way home, but I encouraged him to stay in a hotel rather than risk the snowy, one lane 30 mile an hour drive home.

So today I got to wear my Farmer's Wife hat . . . or should I say boots. Here's what my day held:

- Checking on the livestock first thing in the morning to see how they made it through the wintery weather. (They looked just fine.)
- Bringing in wood for our wood stove since our indoor pile got used up yesterday.
- Watering the cows by bucket
- Watering the pigs by bucket
- Throwing corn to the pigs
- Feeding the calves
- Feeding the cows by fetching and pushing a load of hay in our lawn cart through the snow
- Moving the wind break for the cows to the North side
- Taking care of the dog.
- Carrying out the black trash bags to the road since today is garbage day.
- While I was at it I also spent about 30 minutes cleaning up the yard and taking things to the shed that really needed to be inside

Inside there was still plenty to do:
- Taking care of our 4 year old son, 3 year old daughter, and 7 week old baby (I did the outdoor things with the older two and continuously checked on our napping baby.)
- Prepared meals
- Cleaned up after meals
- Put away laundry
- Caught up on laundry that needed to be washed
- Put away more Christmas decorations

My plans for this evening are:
- Cleaning the house since my parents are coming tomorrow to celebrate my birthday. (I know they wouldn't mind a messy house, but a little mess is a big mess in a small house.)
- Giving my husband a haircut. (He is WAY overdue and can't put a hat on while he gives the messages at church on Sunday.)
- Giving our son a haircut (He is getting some major bed head/hat hair!)

I really don't mind taking on extra responsibility, and I love being able to be outside a bit doing chores. The one thing I don't like is staying home alone at night. I'm a big weenie when it comes to that. My sweet husband, who has never wanted a big dog, has actually been looking at big dogs for our farm just for that reason. (You can head on over to his blog post about big dogs if you have any suggestions to drop.) We do have great neighbors around us who keep an eye on our place too.

Anyway, I hope I did a good job today keeping the fire burning. I will be glad when Ethan gets home though, and so will the cows. I don't think I can push the lawn cart through the snow and weeds to get to where the next closest hay is, and I haven't learned how to use the tractor yet . . .

Monday, January 5, 2009

Pork for Sale!

Our little piggies aren't so little anymore. We now have pork available by the whole or half and are taking orders this week. We have been happy with how these hogs have handled living outdoors in Iowa so we aren't going to have as many for sale as we had planned - some are staying here on the farm to hopefully give us more little piggies for this coming year. :)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Hard Day on the Farm

Yesterday was a very hard day at our farm. We lost our herd bull.

New Year's Eve we called the vet since he was acting a bit weak. The vet didn't seem too concerned and thought it was foot problems. New Year's Day Hershey was looking worse so we had the vet come out. He gave him a couple of shots but wasn't that concerned still. Yesterday, however, Hershey couldn't even lift his head off of the ground.

Ethan and I went out and covered him with blankets, gave him a good rub down to try and get his circulation going, and then made a tarp tent over him with a heater inside. We kept watch over him all day long. I would often go out and pet him over his "sweet spots". I felt so bad for the big guy. He was a great bull.

Losing him is a big loss to our farm. We looked quite a while for the right bull since the bull will end up representing 50% of your herd's genetics. Not only that but he had a great disposition. He loved to be rubbed and would follow you around for treats and scratches. He was just like a big puppy. I felt about as safe around him as you can feel with a bull.

But such is life on the farm. I guess now we will start searching and saving for a new bull. You can go without one less cow, but you can't have a herd without a bull.
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