September 29, 2015 : progress.

We are SO IN THE HOME STRETCH! Yeehaw. I wish I had one of those fancy DONE stickers that I could go around and slap on stuff. Feels so good to say it when projects are done. Woot!

Hank and I each (the boys have them, too) have certain and particular things we’d like to see changed around the property, or things that we’d like to make sure are incorporated in the renovation. For instance, he was insistent on a big farm sink (which I LOVE, but didn’t have to be insistent about because he would have died on that hill to get one), and I am pretty proud of my new stand-alone tub (wasn’t sure that one would make budget, but after a good, long search, I found one that fit both the space and our budget).

One of my particulars was widening the pathway between our back deck and our little barn. It wasn’t balanced. And it was too narrow. I also have an aside. :) One of my all-time favorite coming-of-age movies is Stealing Beauty. It’s set in Italy, and all of the villas have crushed fine pathways. So there you have it. I wanted a wide, crushed fine pathway to have a little bit of Italy on our small farm. Weird, I know, but there you go.

So I widened it. I pulled out one side of landscaping ties and widened the walkway by about a foot, then dug out the ground to make it even. After we (mostly Hank) dug out and moved the existing red rocks and flagstone to our raised bed garden and fire pit areas, we added weed barrier to the new exposed area and had 10 tons of crushed fine delivered. We spent that day hauling and moving baby rock, and voila, hello Italy.

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September 26, 2015 : we are officially a farm.

Yesterday was my birthday.

I don’t know anyone else who has ever received a longboard, an Avett Bros t-shirt, and and two goats on their birthday. :) Oh, and banana pudding.

We picked our new additions last night: a 2yo doe who kidded triplets earlier this year and a 3mo old wether. They. Are. Awesome. We’ve named them Minnie and Roscoe, after my Dad’s parents. (Minnie’s registered name is Diamond, btw, but that sounds like a stripper.) We chose the doe for milking (we’ll breed her soon to have kids in the spring) and the wether as her companion. A wether is a castrated male who can be used as a utility goat – but we won’t use him as a pack animal – and the boys can show him in 4-H after they leash-train him. (One important note about wethers is that since they’re castrated, they don’t produce the pheromone that bucks do, and that pheromone is what changes the taste of goats’ milk to the musty, yucky taste. Even if a buck is near your doe but not in the same pen, that hormone is PUNGENT and can make their milk taste funky. No funky milk here. Blech.) They’re both Dwarf Nigerians and won’t grow much more, possibly to around 60-65lbs (right now Roscoe weighs about 25lbs and we can carry him like a lamb – it’s super cute). After putting pen to paper, we decided on a doe and a wether based on how much milk we would be able to use, and two does would have produced too much milk for us to consume at this point. Dwarf Nigerians can be bred at any time of the year and have easy births, so should we decide that we’d like their milk year-round, we can raise another doe to work in and stagger their breeding to produce year-round. We’ll be able to have milk to drink and make soap, ice cream, cheese, and yogurt, but we do want to be careful and not wasteful. Our doe should give us about a pound of milk daily with each freshening, which is when she has kids (goats don’t keep producing milk like cows; they must have kids each year to produce again). We’ll bottle feed her babies with her milk so that they’ll be friendly and we can share her milk.

Hank and I (mostly Hank, because I “just held this board here” while he nailed things together) built this yesterday.

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September 22, 2015 : he’s free.

I woke up around 3:30 in the morning yesterday feeling nauseous. I laid still, breathing deeply; the kind of breathing that I learned in yoga that calms my nerves and tummy. Finally, the feeling subsided and I went to the bathroom to splash some water on my face and went back to bed.

At 4:30, my phone rang. I hate it when my phone rings during the Do Not Disturb time, because it has to be a not-good thing. I knew it was my sister before I picked up. “His condition has gone downhill fast and they said we needed to call family.” Continue reading…

September 17, 2015 : the in-between moments.

We have new hardwood floors installed throughout the house, except for the bedrooms (we’ll paint those floors for now and install hardwood there next year some time). We have new kitchen and master bathroom cabinets installed (aside from one damaged cabinet). We have all end-of-life windows replaced. The exterior of the house is painted and is just being touched up. The interior is almost completely painted, aside from some drywall repair. Tile is laid in the guest bathroom and ready for grout, and cement board is down in the master bathroom. A new exterior door leading out from the master en suite is in. Interior doors are almost all hung. Trim is going in and window sills are being fitted. The countertop slabs are being fabricated and will be installed next week and the floors will be final sanded, stained, and sealed.

And yet, I’m stuck in the in-between moments.

We are in flux between extreme giddiness from knowing that we get to really, truly move in soon, but are still wandering around wondering where to put ourselves. It’s a little surreal.

Here are some of our favorite spots, we’re discovering.

The back deck, under the cottonwood tree.

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September 16, 2015 : poultry disasters and how i saved a chicken.

We prepared ourselves for mistakes. Two years ago, when we began giving some foundation to our dreams, we knew that we would succeed and we would fail and we would learn the hard way sometimes. But we didn’t get stuck in the “what if’s” and instead did a little Internet research, book research, and took the approach that Hank likes to call, “Ready, Fire, Aim!” That’s pretty much how we decided to become Chicken Farmers.

The latest long story short is this: There is a process of introducing young chickens into a flock of larger, older birds, and we got it almost right. We separated them with a temporary fence so they could see each other and get accustomed to each other for about a week, allowing the babies (seven weeks old now and fully feathered) to have the large coop and the big girls (a flock of five) the small, temporary coop. We removed the temporary fence two days ago in the evening and they did fine, with the older girls bullying the babies a little, but no real scuffles happened. Continue reading…

September 15, 2015 : some things i’ve learned about living through a renovation.

Even though we’re still about two-ish weeks out from being 98% completely renovated, I thought I’d share a few things that we’ve learned so far. By “we,” I probably just mean “me,” as these are most likely just my own issues and learnings, but I like to take the whole family down with me.

1. Living in your basement like a refugee is not for everybody. On Renovation Days #17, 32, 43, and 44, it was not for me either. Those, I hope, were my biggest freak out days. I think that Hank has had more freak out days than me, for the record. I like to reserve mine mostly for weekends. Holden, our 10yo, perhaps ties with Hank on the freak out days. Ewan, our 6yo, is the most stable of all us. That’s a scary thing to say, since he’s also the wild card ginger boy. Continue reading…

September 9, 2015 : this week is gonna be good.

Last week STUNK. God bless drywallers, and I say that whole-heartedly since one of my favorite people in the whole world is the man who finished our basement in our previous home and came back to finish out our new office, because that has to be the worst job ever. Although, if I added that to my repertoire, my arms would be RIPPED. All of that taping and mudding and sanding…and the sheetrock boogers would just be a big bonus.

So glad that week is behind us.

It seemed slow going. Our contractor, who I am now used to having as a regular part of my day, was out of state at a conference. She was learning about a new computer program to help with schematics and blueprints, elevation design, interior and exterior design, landscaping, etc.; it’s a program similar to what the HGTV people use (think Property Brothers or Fixer Upper) to help clients see before and after transformations on their projects, and so much more. It was just me and the drywallers for the week until the whole crew came back on Friday to install new siding in our gables. More on that project later; now for walls and stuff!

Remember this view of our kitchen? It’s looking from the dining room and into the west end of the house.

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September 2, 2015 : yard food.

Our house was gutted 32 days ago. It look a little while to find a rhythm that didn’t include eating out too much, and I think we’ve finally settled into a nice one. We’re lucky to have access to some pretty great cooking gear for camping and we’ve challenged ourselves to 30 days of yard cooking in either a dutch oven or pressure cooker this month.

For our portable kitchen, we have a griddle, two crockpots, a camping stove, Big Green Egg, propane grill, and a fire pit (we also have a full-size fridge operating in the garage). The griddle and crockpots require electricity, which we have in the basement and have set up a table there; everything else is outside cooking stuff. Since Hank broke out the camping stove and showed me how simple it is to use, my world has opened up! We use the pressure cooker on the stove and the dutch oven on the fire pit with coals.

Here are some of the things we’ve been cooking and how we’ve done it.

Pearl Quinoa with Salad (camping stove).

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