December 11, 2015 : an evening with my dad.

My dad was cremated.

He made sure that his body was donated for research first, to try to find more information about some joint issues and a nerve disorder that showed up for him in his last years. We thought that they would spend about a year researching before his cremation, but it took a mere month. I’m not sure what that means – maybe there was too much damage to research longer? Maybe his tissue or organs were too old? It’s not for me to know.

So, he showed up in the mail.
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November 25, 2015 : dawn breaks.

Sometimes it feels like we’re faking it. We’re still very new at this “hobby farm” or homesteading thing, yet at the same time, it feels as comfortable as a favorite pair of jeans. Just the other day, I told a friend that every day feels like we’re on vacation, and he gave me the most confused look. I get it. It doesn’t make sense. There’s more work to be done here than we can get to in an entire season and everywhere you look there are visible disasters (the shooting fence, for one). Even so, we have an envelope of calm and peacefulness covering us. I guess that I keep waiting for it to feel difficult, but it just doesn’t. It’s good; good work, good family time, good friend time, good food, good rest…just good.

It makes life feel earned, and there is grace in that.

This weekend, we woke up to snow. It’s still early enough in the season that we know it won’t last for a more than a couple of days at most, but we didn’t miss out on the magic. As the sun started to peek up over the horizon, there was the familiar contrast of warm and cold showing through our bay window.

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November 24, 2015 : gratitude.

Every year, the second-grade class at our son’s school does a Day of Gratitude in November. They ask for donations of hygiene items, small food items, warmth items, and large Ziploc-style bags. When the donations are in, PTO invites all of the second-grade families to school for an evening to assemble everything.

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November 23, 2015 : a new bathroom. {after}

There’s no good way to show you the before of this room. It was simply a bedroom. It was square. It had pale, pink walls. Smelly, yucky carpet. A door. But the after? Now that’s something I can and will show you.

Hank and I each had a couple of things on our wish list when we purchased our new-old house that we considered the “I’d-die-on-this-hill” wishes. His, a farm sink. Mine, a master bathroom worthy of the renovation. (For the record, I also really wanted a farm sink, but since he had it on his must-have list, I didn’t have to worry about that one. It’s all about picking your battles and dividing and conquering.)

Originally, the master bathroom was in a different spot in the house because the master bedroom was in a different spot in the house. We didn’t want the master bedroom in that original spot since it was at the front of the house. We moved the master bedroom to the middle bedroom, took out a hallway and a door, added a door in a different spot along with a couple of closets, and consequently turned the third bedroom into the new master bathroom.

There. That’s probably about as clear as mud. Basically, we turned a three-bedroom house into a two-bedroom house, and in March, we’ll finish out the basement, which will then turn a two-bedroom house into a four-bedroom house.

I’m probably explaining this worse, so let’s move on.

First, my dream tub. This one was a toughie. It could have been a budget-buster, but somehow, by some universal intervention, I found one that required some maneuvering of budget dollars but fit, both in price and size.

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November 2, 2015 : the new kitchen {before & after}

We have officially moved into our home. That’s not to say we’re officially finished unpacking, though. That project is being carefully done, with every, single item getting a label of “keep and find its home now,” “throw it away,” or “give it away.” This part may take a while. Most importantly, we have emerged from the basement, victorious.

A few years ago, I received the best advice about moving: Unpack and load your kitchen first. It makes you feel much more organized, much more quickly. DONE.

A side note: We’re still finishing up a few projects, like touch-up paint, board and batten painting, small drywall patches, etc. You’ll see some of that in these photos. We also haven’t fully decorated everything yet, but that will morph over time. We’re learning how we use our new spaces still.

Are you ready?

First, as a refresher, this was our kitchen before:

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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…