Follow The Beginning Farmer's Wife on Facebook for additional personal peeks at building a family farm.

(Be sure to click both the Facebook "like" and "follow" buttons to not miss any posts.)

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Garden Lesson

Today is a beautiful, sunny, great drying day. And we need it! As of Sunday night we have officially broken all known records for rain this month in Marion County. Even though we don't have a rain gauge out yet, I'm sure it was well beyond broken on our farm too since Ethan noticed that somehow the heaviest part of the cells were usually right over our house.

So with the drying day today, I decided to go take a peek at my garden. If you remember from a post a few days back, there wasn't much left surviving. Basically potatoes and onions were all that looked promising. Today, all but one section of my onions were gone. The leaves were not only brown, but many of them rotted to the ground. So I dug onions. I ended up with about a gallon of small onions good for roasts. There was one area yet where the leaves are yellow/green. I left those and will watch them closely.

Next I peeked at my potatoes. About half were still nice and green, the other half were browning quickly. I dug up a couple of the browning plants to find that the potatoes had turned to liquid. I then decided to dig up a couple of the green plants. Although those potatoes weren't liquid, they were mush. I dug up every single plant in hopes of finding SOME potatoes. Every once in awhile I would find one, and I ended up with about 1/2 gallon.

Last week I was threatening to mow my garden. Now I'm going to. And then hopefully till it again to do a fall planting. There's really not much left. I have a few tomatoes and pepper plants that are hanging on for dear life. They are small, however, so I will be surprised if they produce anything. I also have about 10 yam plants. Also small and just hanging on, but I will leave them for now. Other than that . . . well, that's it.

It is pretty disappointing. Not only the cost of seed, but the time that I've spent out there. It was a reminder though of life in general. Really, my responsibility in life is to be faithful and put forth my best. I can do everything possible in my control, but the fact remains that life is out of my control. This would be a pretty depressing fact, except for my trust in the Lord. He is the one in control, and He is faithful and good.

Things still fall apart in life, but the Lord provides for our needs. I have seen it time and time again - especially on the farm here. From a rather low demanding/high paying job that covered almost exactly one of our house payments while we were paying two - for almost the exact time we were paying two, to friends helping to finish our house when our house suddenly sold and the buyers wanted in NOW, to a truck load of firewood showing up unannounced every time we would be burning our last supply of wood.

My garden this year has been quite disappointing, but it is just a "hobby" family garden. It has reminded me of a good lesson though for the more significant things in life. Be faithful in what you do, realize that not all failures (and even successes for that matter) are dependent on us, look for lessons that can be learned, and trust in the Lord even when things just don't seem to be working out. He knows our needs and is faithful and good to supply our needs (many times in Himself alone).

Thursday, June 24, 2010

My Outside To Do/Wish List

This has been a full week of sport evenings for Ethan since Monday - 3 nights of softball games, a soccer game, and umping tonight before his game. Next week slows down a bit and then softball is done - which will most likely be the end of my blogging spurt, if not before.

The ground is also starting to dry up a bit outside, and I was able to do some mowing during nap this afternoon. It's still wet enough that I sink down in the garden, and I couldn't really think of much else to do outside this evening that wouldn't create a mess.

While I was mowing, however, I thought that maybe I should make a list of non-farm related projects that I would like to get done outside - both things that should be done and things that would be fun to have done. I will probably keep adding to the lists as things pop into mind (I already added to my house list in my last post) and then try to highlight things off as I get them done. Sometimes it seems there is so much to do that I just think about what needs to be done yet and forget about what has been accomplished. So although looking at the lists can seem a bit daunting, I think it will end up being encouraging as I see things highlighted off.

So here's my list of outside projects (some of them will double from the list before) and a picture of what I have somewhat envisioned the property looking like some day:Things that really should get done:
* Get the kids' play tower and swings set back up.
* Get a clothes line up. ( fall 2012 - put a cheap round one up.) Put a long clothes line up.
* Bring in field rocks from one of our farmer friend's rock piles to line the walk to the porch from the drive and the walk from the mudroom door to the porch.
* Bring in a load of river rock for the walkways.
* Have Ethan use the loader to move some more dirt on top of the storm shelter. (I mentioned earlier that I spent about 5 hours balancing the dirt out on both sides by using a shovel, but we need to add more dirt since the layer is so thin in places the cement shows.)
* Plant some viney/ivy plants on the storm shelter that will develop a good root system to hold the dirt in place. (My mom has more than what she wants in a flower bed at her house that I'm going to bring. Don't know what they are called yet.) (Decided to use marigolds 2012)
* Seed muddy areas of the lawn where the ground got torn this spring or we just missed with seeding last year. (spring 2013)
* Put up bluebird houses. (My mom made me a bunch of homemade bluebird houses for my birthday when we first moved here to put on our property since we have bluebirds around.) (Fall 2011)

Things that I really hope to get done:
* I have a friend about 7 minutes away with 200 or so railroad ties in a pile. I would like to bring over a load or two to put a border around the garden, around the wood pile, and a few other places. :: Scratch that one - hadn't thought about them being treated with creosote.
* Decide if I want to put border around the garden, what I will use, and then put the border of whatever around. (Spring 2013 Tilled up a boarder around the garden fence to plant annual flowers each year. The yearly retilling of this area will keep weeds away from the garden.)
* I would like to put a walkway (gravel or grass) through the middle of the garden from the hydrant to the orchard. (Decided against this one.  I am now mulching the garden well and create a walkway with mulch.)
* Set up the picnic/fire pit area. (Spring 2012)

* Plant a few larger fruit trees in the orchard. (We were blessed by some friends with an orchard of seedlings. They are doing well, but I left a few places to plant some maturer trees that will fruit within 5 years or less.) ** Hy-Vee had trees 75 % off so I bought and planted 2 apple trees for $15 each.
* Make a designated strawberry bed behind the house. (Placed it in the garden in an area that is rotated every 3 years to keep nematodes at bay.)
* Bring up some more blackberry and raspberry plants to have berries by the house. (Fall 2013)
* Finish conditioning the garden so that it can get going in full swing. (Right now we have pigs on half of it for fertilization purposes. The quarter that had hogs on it already does inconceivably better than the quarter in use that didn't) (Spring 2012 - The full garden is finally ready!)
* Get perennial flowers and asparagus/rhubarb/etc. planted in the front of the garden. (Spring 2012 - planted asparagus from my brother's yard.  Changed perennial area to a rotation with strawberries and melons.)

* Figure out what I want to plant in the triangle of the walkways to the house and plant it. (Fall 2010 - small ever greeny shrubs. I forgot the name. Have to check the tag!)
* Replant some trees that didn't make it from the ones that I planted this spring. (The nursery said it ended up being a bad spring for planting trees.)
* Decide if we want a walkway to the storm shelter and make it if we do. (Spring 2012 - Decided against)

Things that would just be nice to do:
* I would like to build a raised fire pit. When Hannah was 2 she tripped by a campfire and fell straight over it. I was even being the on the edge of the seat "stay away from the fire, sit down, walk BEHIND the chairs" parent that night. She just got off her chair to walk behind and mis-stepped. By God's grace
her hands landed on a rock at the edge of the fire and instead of her hands or face going in the fire she was able to hold her head up just long enough for me to pull her away without any burns. With having little ones here and friends and family with little ones, I would feel much safer having campfires if they weren't at ground level.
* I would like an arbor built over the hydrant area that I could plant a flowering vine on.
* Seed/plant some pampas grass and ditchy type flowers in our ditch - starts all from my parents' place. (Spring 2012)

So there you go. There are my lists for now. I'm sure I will add some things as I think of them, but for now I am going to go hand trim some grass around the beehive that didn't get mowed (didn't want to mow too close with a busy hive) since the bees are probably most all going to bed now.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

House Construction Update

*Pictures eventually. They have to be loaded and sent from another computer. Can't wait to have a camera again!)

We have been living in our house about 20 months now. It's pretty easy to remember since Isaac was born a month after we moved in. (It's also easy to remember how long we have lived in Knoxville, since Caleb was 6 weeks old when we moved.)

Since I'm doing a blogging spurt and don't know how long until I will do another one, I thought I would give a quick update as to where we are at with the house construction.

We have gotten a few things done since the new year, mostly in the last couple weeks.
* At the beginning of the year I hung the shelving units in our laundry room to help put away tubs and find room Christmas presents. (Only a small pile left in our room of things that don't have a spot yet - can't wait until it's gone!)
* I got tired of tripping over a transition strip that was never really fastened between the bathroom and hallway. I ripped it off and glued it down with liquid nails about 2-3 weeks ago. It took a good week to dry, with weights on to hold it down, because of the high humidity in the house.
* We still hadn't gotten the air conditioner in, and due to the high humidity and heat this spring, it was becoming quite musty smelling in our house - clothes and all. My dad came down last week and he and Ethan spent a day installing the air conditioner. Just in time for more heat and humidity with all of our storms!
* Ethan wired the electric for the air conditioner so we could turn it on. Very important!
* While my dad was here he rehung a kitchen cabinet that had detached from the wall a few weeks prior. He is a woodwork and even made his own cabinets for his house. He had a lot to say about how even "good quality" purchased cabinets are made. :) By the way - you can check out some of his work and items for sale on his Tom Kies Woodworks site.
* While the guys were working on the air conditioner, I finished up the edging on the deck while my dad cut the boards to size.
* I hung guest towel hangers in the bathroom and rehung with bigger wall anchors the hand towel hanger that had been pulled out of the wall by the kids. (I also moved it so it was easier to reach!)

Those were all projects that I am so thankful to have done. They were all either big annoyances or bigger discomforts.

We still have quite a bit to do yet, although some of them are not really that big of an annoyance, they will be nice to just have done.

Inside the house construction:
* We need to put trim around the air conditioner and custom make an outlet cover.
* Our dryer needs to be vented outside. It is nice to have the extra heat and humidity in the winter, but not in the summer.
* The fire alarms need to be wired in and wired together. We have an alarm in the attic by the stove pipe that will sound an alarm in the house. We do have battery alarms right now though.
* The mud room sink needs to be hooked up to plumbing. This will be nice to keep dirt out of the bathroom and off the bathroom towels. It will also be a lot easier to wash eggs - I won't have to use the kitchen sink. (Fall 2010)
* The mud room ceiling light fixture needs to be hung.
* There is a mud room outlet that needs to be installed and hooked up to the breaker box.
* The mud room window trim needs to be painted.
* The telephone jacks need to be wired in and hooked up. (Since we don't have a land line, this is one of those things that gets overlooked easily!)
* Touch up painting needs to be done. We had great help on painting day before we moved in, but it went later into the evening when light was scare so there are quite a few missed spots.
* There are some switches that were switched when wired that need to be switched back to reduce walks across the room.
* I need to redo a few tiles on the wall around the base of the tub. ** Actually, now I found out I need to redo the flooring, trim around the tub area, some plumbing, and even more tiles. A piece was left off or out of the package that prevents water from getting behind the tile and we now have a mess!
* We need to construct a movable heat barrier to put between the desk and the wood stove for the winter. (We have a make shift one now that balances on a wire basket and tips frequently when bumped.)
* Blinds need to be hung and/or curtains need to be made or bought. (I will admit that we have some bath towels and blankets that serve as curtains.)
* Springing doorstops need to be attached to walls.
* Door handles need to be put on closet doors.
* The nail holes in the trim need to be filled.
* The rust on our wood stove needs to be sanded off and it needs to be repainted. (Too much humidity.)
* And not really construction, but I would like to do a bit more decorating and hanging up of family photos.

Outside the house construction:
* To go along with the dryer vent, I need a clothesline outside. I don't dry much in the dryer, but hang drying it inside still adds the humidity even if you don't get the heat. I've tried drying on racks outside, but they either get blown over or the clothes get filled with bugs that will then be brought in the house.
* The pallet in front of our mud room door needs to be removed and replaces with a real step or entrance.
* The outdoor house lights work but the fixtures need some bolt cutter action to make them hang right.
* The outdoor house outlets need to be wired in.
* The door bells need to be installed and hooked up both inside and out.
* River rock needs to be brought in to make the walkway from our drive to our house - now we just have mud and feed sacks if you don't walk on the lawn. (PLEASE feel free to walk on our lawn if you visit!!!)
* The porch overhang needs to have a roof underneath to finish it off and keep birds from nesting under it.
* We need to trench around 2/3 of the house yet to install the foam frost barrier.
* We need to spray foam under the house between the cement and 2x6 boards, as well as spray foam around the air conditioner we just installed.
* We need to put a rock border around the house to keep the chickens from scratching to and eating the frost barrier foam.
* Gutters need to be installed.

House shed construction:
* It needs to be cleaned out of construction materials and reorganized so it is more functional than storage.
* Lots and lots of shelves and hooks need to be put up once cleaned out. :)
* It needs to be wired
* We want to make a freezer room on the far end of it since we will have a hard time moving forward in sales with our current freezer. (It only holds 2 hogs or 1 beef. I am having to turn over my home freezer - it had been inspected too - to hold more, and we still have serious space issues!)

I'm sure I forgot some things, but that is what comes to mind right now. Don't even get me started on the list of things to do outside/farm wise yet - it is much, much longer and more time consuming! I so want to be set up and settled in all around, but you can only chip away at things so fast. As overwhelming as all of the work seems yet, I do have to remember that this property was just sod and prairie grass with some old overgrown fence line to rip out when we bought it in 2008. Also, I'm sure you all have fix it and to do lists just as long. :)

Follow The Beginning Farmer's Wife on Facebook for additional personal peeks at building a family farm.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Garden Woes

*Okay, so I've been blogging a bit recently. The reason: It is too wet outside to do much, Ethan has had a lot of evening activities lately, and by the time the kids are to bed I am tired of indoor housework. It's still there. I'm just being lazy. So I am taking a blogging unvacation (or a break from housework. Whichever way you put it.) I'm thinking that my blogging unvacation will last until things slow down for Ethan or until I can get outside again and get my much needed change of scenery for the day. :)

Back to my post. (Picture to come soon)

I have had high hopes for our garden the past 3 years. Now my hopes are for next year.

The first year we had our property we didn't have much of a garden. Since we weren't living here, it was nearly impossible to take care of.

Last year we were quite late getting the garden tilled. I also planted the majority of our garden in newly broke land. There was one section where we planted the sweet corn and gourds where the hogs had been the previous summer, and the corn and gourds did amazing! But that was about all. The rest of the garden left much to be desired - you might have experienced the same with a first year garden.

This year was going to be the year I got my garden going full swing. Unfortunately, this is not the year yet. Due to late plowing this spring (still trying to condition this 14+ years untouched prairie sod), countless projects this spring delaying planting, an extremely cold and wet week after planting that led to seeds rotting in the ground, more projects, transplanting raspberry and strawberry plants (a step ahead but not much fruit this year), finally replanting, and now the garden turning into a lake from all of our rain . . . the garden is leaving much to be desired again.

I did manage to get potatoes and onions going early, and they are doing great - especially with being in the old hog lot section. The wind storm last week did tear apart a lot of my onions, but hopefully they will pull through. So while the first year was the year of not much, last year was the year of corn and gourds - and a small batch of beans and tomatoes to can, this year will probably be the year of potatoes and onions.

I am a bit disappointed with not having a good variety of vegetables. Especially after we were able to put away so much corn last year and some beans and tomatoes. I was really hoping to can a lot of tomatoes and beans this year, freeze more corn, and try to make pickles and salsa for the first time. I also wanted to have some pie pumpkins for pumpkin pie, and all the great tasting veggies to just eat fresh.

Right now I am making plans on next year's garden: condition the soil this fall (that was a plan last year too, but surprising *said sarcastically* we had a lot of other things going on), set up panels for plants that vine before the frost, level out the soil so there aren't water holes for heavy rains to drown plants (my poor tomatoes this year!), and have my layout figured out before February.

Like I said, I am hoping this year to at least get a good harvest of potatoes and onions. Not my first pick of a crop, but it will do. I might even try to get some fall crops to replace some of the spring ones I'm missing out on - peas, lettuce, beans (to hopefully can). Any other suggestions on how to try to redeem this season a bit?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Blown Away . . . Nearly

Things always go crazy here on the farm when Ethan is in town. After I finished my lawn mower post, I looked outside to see the boar and feeder pigs had broken out of their pen. Our land is completely saturated with all of the rain we have had, and they are just popping posts out of the ground. Ethan was playing softball and didn't have his phone on so I started rounding up the the feeders. By the time his game was over, I had most of them in. We got the rest of them and the boar in around 10:15 - after they had had some fun in the shed with the feed bags.

Last night was an even crazier night. There were more storms, and this time they were bringing tornadoes. One particular cell, that had a tornado on the ground about 35 - 40 minutes from our house, was slowly making its way east - right on track to where we live. Ethan was on his way home from Des Moines, and actually took a different route to avoid the tornado area while the tornado was on the ground. I was here at home with the kids: Caleb now 6, Hannah -4, and Isaac 19 mo.

We don't have a TV due to reception issues in our house, but we have a NOAA weather radio, and I get NOAA updates on my e-mail. They usually give a good amount of warning time so I was watching them really closely. And I was watching the sky looked uglier and uglier. It soon got quite dark and started raining. I rechecked my e-mail and didn't see any "take shelter" updates and there hadn't been anything come across the radio so I thought I would wait a bit longer before going to the storm shelter. We haven't cozied it up yet with benches and things, and since I didn't know how fast the storm was coming I didn't want to spend an unnecessary 30 minutes or more down there.

I should have listened to my instincts, however, about the sky rather than waiting for the weather radio. Almost simultaneously, the wind got crazy, I saw the hog feeder blowing across the yard as the kids' wooden playset was blown into the hog fence, and the weather radio started going off. I didn't take time to listen to it. (It turned out that from my NOAA e-mail that I read later it was the tornado warning), I grabbed my kids, who were in hysterics about the playset, and headed out to the storm shelter.

When I got to the end of the porch, which is protected from the wind, I wondered how I was going to get all 3 kids 15 feet to the shelter by myself at once. I didn't want to take them in shifts because I didn't really know what was going on out there. So I held tight to Isaac and told Caleb and Hannah to run.

I will admit that is when I got a bit freaked out. We managed to get to the storm shelter, but I could hardly get the door open due to the wind. I had to hold Isaac with one arm while pulling on the door with the other. I vividly remember seeing Isaac leaning away from me and feeling as if he was being pulled out of my arm. At the same time, Caleb and Hannah were being blown to the ground, away from the storm shelter. Every time they would stand up, they would get blown down away from the door again. After I managed to get the door open and got myself wedged in front of it, I was able to use my free hand to pull them back over to the door.

Once we were all down, I called Ethan to tell him to just stay where he was at. And I as I was sitting in our "glorified septic tank turned on side" - without benches, I had never felt safer and cozier!

30 minutes later, I half expected to come out and see something completely blown apart or away, but the only thing missing was the cows. Their water wagon had gone on a ride through their temporary fencing, thanks to the wind, and they had gotten out. I noticed that the pigs were also starting to get out where the playset had hit the fence. I got them in before they went too far, fixed the fence (quick fix), and then went inside and waited to round up cows (they turned out to not be too far) until Ethan got home (who had to turn around and take another route because of a tree across the road).

I am curious to just how strong the winds were and am thankful they were just strong winds. It looks like most things can be put back together just fine, including the playset. Although we would have been fine staying in the house, and although I miss having a basement, I'm glad we have our shelter - and next time I might just head there a bit earlier!

Follow The Beginning Farmer's Wife on Facebook for additional personal peeks at building a family farm.  (Be sure to click both the "like" and "follow" buttons.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Feeling Manly

Our camera is broken so I don't have any pictures again, but I just had to post about my accomplishment today. I have been trying to mow the lawn the last couple of days (the second mowing of the season - lots of other things to do but it needs to be mowed when I feel like I will lose the kids in the front yard). So the lawn mower would work fine until I started the mower up. Then it started popping, slowed down, and died. I was lucky if I got 2o feet.

Today I pulled out the manual and went to trouble shooting . . . hmmm . . . engine runs erratic . . . maybe I'll try that. So here were my options and thoughts:
* Unit running with choke activated - nope
* Spark plug wires loose - umm, might try that later
* Vent in gas cap plugged - hope that's it! . . . It wasn't
* Dirty air cleaner - hasn't been changed/checked since we got it and is overdue
* Water or dirt in fuel system - yikes, lots of bug parts in the gas tank
* Blocked fuel line or stale fuel - good chance with all of the bug parts

So here was my attack. I started with cleaning the air filter since the steps to clean it didn't look that bad. Unfortunately, they didn't write the manual for a woman though because they didn't have anything in there telling WHERE the air filter was! After a five minutes of flipping through the manual and a few minutes of staring and looking around, I found some yellow wingy nuts holding on a cap and looked under there. There were some things that looked filterish (they didn't have a picture of the filters either), so I decided to just clean those assuming they were the right ones. :) After washing the foam filter with detergent, letting it air dry, and then re-oiling it with engine oil, I put it all back together with the little yellow wingy nut things. Next step - the gas line.

Thank you manual writers for again writing the manual for people who probably don't need it. This time there was not only no pictures of what to do, but also no description of how to do it. But since the trouble shooting guide told me to, I was going to figure it out by following their "corrective actions" with or without their pictures or descriptions (okay, I guess just without).

So after spending another 5 minutes looking through the manual and more time staring at the engine, I found what I thought might have been the fuel filter that I was supposed to "replace if so equipped". It looked pretty secure on there so I got on the internet just to make sure that was what it was. It was. So I proceeded to take it off of the fuel line and eventually got it off. It was no surprise that there were bugs stuck in it. Well, I was not "so equipped" to replace it, so I shook it and tapped it around until it seemed I got all of the bugs out.

Next, the buggy gas tank. (Don't ask me how they all got in there.) After staring yet again for some time, I decided that I was not going to be able to get the bugs out with the gas in the tank. I went inside and got an empty milk jug and lowered the fuel line into the jug to drain the gas. After draining the gas (and momentarily trying to picture what would happen if I capped the jug and threw it into a fire), I checked inside the tank. Gas out. Bugs in. Shoot.

So then I got the idea to just take the gas tank out of the lawn mower. It wasn't too hard since I had already unattached the gas line, but I felt cool when I got it out. I took it over to the hose and washed the bugs out.

After I got the tank put back in and gave it sufficient drying time, I reattached the lines, fuel filter, and poured in some gas. One problem. The gas was blue.

I called Ethan and found out that I had chosen the gas can for the chainsaws that had oil mixed in it. Thankfully I hadn't poured that much in, but I did have to take the hose back apart and redrain the tank.

Thankfully we did have a small bit of mower gas around so I could see if my time spent was worth it.

I am pleased to say that I ended up mowing the front lawn without any mower problems! And that is why I feel manly.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

What's She Up To?

Now that schools are getting out, I think I can call it summer. So I thought I would would give a quick spring update. Although I feel there is still a lot to be done, I feel a lot has been done too.

Among other things, I have spent a lot of time this spring planting the garden, transplanting berry plants from the woods, moving dirt to level anthills and to balance out the storm shelter, planting trees (about 30), cleaning up the yard of winter "debris", cleaning out the hay shed and storage shed, and getting our new farm name set up. (Which we are still in the process of, but it's coming!) I have also been busy inside with the kids, their schooling, continuing to get the house settled in, and just your usual housework.

I usually whip out out my list of projects at nap time and on the evenings when Ethan is in town. Because of this, I was starting to find myself saying to my sweet kiddos, "Just a minute. Mommy is almost done with her post." Since I never want to make keeping a journal or the computer more important than my kids, (and want to visit with or help Ethan on the evenings when he is home and the kids are in bed) I decided my blog has to wait until I can write my posts again when the kids are sleeping and the rest of the house is empty.

So where am I now . . . well, I still have a nice to-do list for outside and just as nice of one inside for rainy days. I also have, it seems, just as long of a list in my head of things I'd love to blog about! The last list will have to wait, however, until the previous two are done and I 'm looking for something do during nap time again. Unfortunately, I don't think that will ever happen on the farm as much as it did in town - but I'm not throwing my list of things to blog about away yet!

Thanks to all who keep checking back! Feel free to sign up on the right to get new posts by e-mail to save some internet bouncing time. :)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...