Thursday, December 30, 2010

December Rain

Usually in our neck of the woods December brings snow, not rain. Well we are in the middle of a good down-pour. Our snow is rapidly disappearing, which is good for the wildlife. I just don't want to know what the roads will be like come tomorrow morning when I am trying to get to work. The temp today has lingered around 34-37F but is predicted to dip to 27 tonight and rapidly decrease from there. Today, as I listen to the rain on the roof, I long for spring and digging in my garden, feeling warmth in the sun again. This too will happen in many months.

Today I helped Scott clean a bunch of the snow off of our roof before it got too water laden. He went on the roof (it is a little too hard for me to get up on the roof as I am still in my walking boot for my tendinitis for one more week) and I was snow blowing the snow that he shoveled down to the decks. It was hard work on our little snow blower as the very heavy snow would pack pretty well as it hit the deck, but I got a lot of it off until I got dowsed with a shovel full of snow from above. :) In all fairness Scott was not aiming.

We were hoping to get some more wood cut also, but Scott didn't get much cut before the rain came down hard and it got to dangerous to cut wood.

Charlie Brown Tree

Upon request, I am posting a picture of our Charlie Brown Christmas tree that my son Adin picked out and that my girls helped decorate. It turned out pretty nice. White pines seem to hold their needles a lot longer than fir trees do. Gotta love the lack of mess to clean up. Hope you enjoy the picture Katie.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Tree Traditions

Growing up we always had a real Fir tree for our Christmas trees. Our dairy farm was just down the road from a tree farm and the trucks hauling trees would always get stuck and my dad would pull them out. So as a thanks, the owners of the tree farm said that we could pick and cut our own trees for free. It was way cool and I remember running around the massive tree farm with my family trying to find just the right tree. My sister and I would bring extra hats, mittens and scarves to mark trees that we thought were good. I even think that we lost a mitten or two over the years. When the tree farm was sold we weren't able to do that anymore, but we still had great real trees. There is something about that smell that is so special to me.

Over the years I will admit that I have become a Christmas tree snob. I am very picky about what my tree looks like and it has to be pretty much perfect. Once I was out on my own, my decorations became very "natural". No tinsel or colored lights for me. Just white lights, strung popcorn and cranberries. The ornaments were made out of pine cones, sea shells and fabric things. My star is also a really large starfish. Very cool. Once Scott and I got married I got all of my old ornaments from my Mom so things started to morph a bit, but that was fine as it brought back memories of days of old. Now that we have kids they have their special ornaments also and our tree is looking very different, but wonderful.

This year the checkbook is a bit empty so we knew we would not be able to buy a tree like we normally do, so we thought of getting a permit to cut one on county land, but the permit costs money also, so... I decided that this year we will have a "Charlie Brown" Christmas tree and just cut it on our own 20 acres. We have a lot of nice little white pines growing all over, so yesterday Adin and I went in search for our tree. We looked at a few, but it didn't take Adin long to find the one we wanted. It is a beautiful Charlie Brown tree (a bit bigger than Charlie's tree). It was a trick to get the lights on, but the rest looks great. We were selective of the ornaments we put up as there are a lot less branches than a nice fir tree, but as Adin said last night, "It is beautiful Mommy!" and he is right.

If anyone has Christmas tree traditions, please share.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pumpkin Muffins - All the Craze

I am so glad that my friend Rebekah and I started talking about baking pumpkins and figuring out how to use them, because this pumpkin muffin recipe that I found in our old church cookbook that I got from my Grandmother as a wedding shower gift. My family makes them disappear as fast as I can bake them. They are so yummy. I keep trying to get some extra made and freeze them for quick breakfasts and such, but no such luck. This morning I made a double batch and already they are vanishing. I am glad that everyone likes them. I have also discovered a pumpkin waffle recipe that I want to try soon.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Early Mornings and Apple Sauce

Good Morning to the blogging world. I sit here this morning, a couple hours after my precious little alarm clocks with no snooze buttons woke me, pondering what the winter will bring. My alarm clocks are sitting next to me eating apple sauce and making silly faces. I am hoping that this morning's sun rise is as beautiful as yesterday's.

For anyone who is interested, the acorn bread that I made the other day turned out fabulous. It is a very dark bread, not as dark as Rye, but the girls absolutely love it. Lizzy even calls it Pine Cone bread from time to time. It is pretty funny. I wonder what bread would be like with flower from pine nuts. Hmmm.

Outside it is a balmy -8 and that makes me very thankful for our wonderful outdoor wood stove. Thursday morning we are going out to the back woods and start cutting up more downed wood that we will be able to use for our stove. Thursday I'm going to also head out to the garden that is so nicely tucked in and see if I can wake up a row or two of carrots. Our supply in the house is shrinking and needs replenishing. It may also be a good day for cooking up our last big pumpkin for freezing also. We shall see.

As we get closer to the end of the venison butchering, we are going to try and do some canning of some venison also. Not sure how that is going to turn out, but we sure are going to try. I'm going to barrow my sister-in-law's pressure caner for this project as we can not use my hot water bath caner.

Well work calls for the day, so I best get ready to head out with the kids and go take care of a ton of cute babies. I really do love my job and the best part is the my kids are there and just in the other room.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Winter Wonderland

There is something so beautiful in the snow laden branches of winter. The delicateness that each snowflake has been placed atop of the previous one. At a distance it looks like just a pile, but up close there is intricacy. In either perspective it is beauty. This is the world that my family is living in. In the opens I would say we have a good 12 inches of snow with some areas of less and some of more depending on how the wind has blown the snow. At night the temp has dropped to -17 degrees F at the coldest so far. I know this is nothing in comparison to my friends living in Alaska and to what the weather will get to as we get into January and February.

Our wood stove has been working hard and what we thought was a lot of wood, really isn't, so back to cutting wood we will be going. Our wood demand will slow down a bit now that we have all 9 of our deer skinned and quartered and are not heating our barn. We have a lot of butchering and grinding ahead of us, but at least we are able to do that in our kitchen. I forget every year how sore my left shoulder gets after all of the grinding to make burger. Yesterday alone I made 31 packages of burger, with each package being a bit more than a pound. My hope is that we will have enough venison to last us until next deer season so we will not have to buy any beef. (big money savings) We also have a couple of geese, a few grouse and a hand full of ducks in the freezer, along with a couple of wild turkey legs left over from Scott's turkey season this past spring.
Now that winter has tucked my garden in with a nice thick quilt of snow until spring's warming sun returns, I am going to try some new adventures. I have this wonderful book "The Encyclopedia of Country Living" by Carla Emery that has inspired me, intrigued me to get crafty and creative and be more daring. This is a fabulous book that can teach you things from gardening to canning, to milking a cow (this I already know) to making candles and everything in between. I am going to try and make my own pasta. Although I do not have a nice little pasta machine, so no macaroni or fun shapes, but I should be able to make good old fashioned noodles if I can get the dough rolled out thin enough. I am 100% Norwegian with Lefsa making in my blood, so I should be able to handle that. There is nothing better than a nice thin piece of Lefsa, my Great Grandpa Odin was the best. But back to pasta (Lefsa can be another day's post)! All you need are a couple of eggs, a pinch of salt and lots of flour. Simple! I may even try some fun colorful noodles such as green (from spinach) and red (from beets) and I wonder if I can even turn some orange from carrots. We shall see. What a great way to get my kids to eat even more veggies, not that they don't already, but veggies are good so what can it hurt.

As technological as this world is getting these days (i.e. all of these blogs and fb and tiny smart phones) there is something comforting in the smell of fresh baked homemade bread. Today I have acorn bread baking. "Acorn?" you may say. Yes, acorn! I received a small vac bag of acorn flour and wild rice flour from a dear friend a couple of years ago and I have substituted acorn flour for wheat flour in one of my bread recipes. In 2 1/2 hours we'll be able to find out how it tastes. I can't even imagine how much work it was to roast and grind enough acorns to hand make this flour. Crazy, and after a year like this of hardly no acorns, the deer and other critters may just be knocking on my door to get a taste of this bread. Hopefully it won't be too hard of a winter on our woodland friends this year. I do kind of cheat when it comes to making bread. When I first started, I did it all by hand, the kneading and mixing and rising. It was great therapy for my hands, but now with 3 kids I have resorted to the bread machine that we received as a wedding present. Much easier and Scott even makes bread from time to time also. Just put in all the ingredients in order, push start and in 3-4 hours you have bread. With all this "getting back to our roots" I know that using a bread machine is "technology" but this way it just leaves me more time to try making pasta and such. At least it is still homemade.

I'll leave today with posting a picture of the beautiful winter sky the other afternoon as I was waiting for Adin to get off the bus from school.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

There is so much to be thankful for this year. We have been in our house for just over a year, our family is healthy, we have jobs and food on the table, just to name a few. I could go on and on. Every November a few of us in our area who are on facebook post one thing each day that we are thankful for up through Thanksgiving. It is great to actually sit down and think of the things small and large that we are thankful for each day. I am seriously thinking about continuing this throughout the year and see if I can do it.

On the venison updates... we are doing well. Scott got a small buck (fork wanna be) during bow season, then over the course of the first 5 days of gun season we have either shot or were given 7 other deer. This includes a nice 10 point buck that Scott got yesterday that broke him out of his gun season slump. So yes, that is a grand total of 8 deer hanging in our barn. We are going to be doing a ton of butchering over the winter. There are still 4 days of the season and Scott has 4 doe tags left, so we'll see what he comes home with. This year is different from the others where our crew is almost filled up with tags. Think that there is only one, maybe 2 buck tags left. Good season. I'm am thankful for the many deer hanging in our barn as that means we will have enough meat to make it through the year and we hopefully won't have to by any beef at all. I like venison over beef anyway as it is so lean and much more healthy. We'll still by chicken and some pork, but venison will give us burger, steaks, roasts and much more. Scott does all the butchering and I make all the burger. So thankful that Billy and Marc gave us an electric grinder for our wedding. It has already been used so much.

Well, I best get going and finish getting packed up so the kids and I can make the 2+ hour drive to my parent's place than off to my Grandma's for Thanksgiving Dinner. I love being able to spend time with family this time of year. Scott won't be joining us as he is out hiking the woods and swamps as usual. Happy Thanksgiving to all and take time to think of the things you are thankful for.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Winter Is Here!

This has been a very busy & exciting weekend for me. I spent the weekend (Thursday-Sunday) at the camp I used to work at running a Scrapbooking retreat. This was my 3rd official retreat like this that I have run and it was for the most part a success. The only things that didn't work out like planned was 2 power outages due to the 8+ inches of snow that fell on Saturday and Sunday, taking down trees and power lines. It is a bit difficult to scrapbook in the dark. We did have a fun evening anyway sitting around the fireplaces at camp with candles and good friends both new and old. Our second adventure was a rescue trip to help Holly(an old friend and scrapbooker from the weekend) out with her flat tire on the way home. I'm glad that I had lots of practise this summer changing tires on our truck. It took us (4 ladies) under an hour from the time I got Holly's text, got Pricsilla's car cleared off of 8 inches of snow, grabbed a shovel and blankets, drove to find Holly, laugh at the cop who sat in his car until we were almost done, dug out the tire from the snow in the ditch, change the tire, take a bunch of pictures (we all are scrapbookers) and get back home. Crazy fun memories.

We also now have some venison! Yeah! Scott was successful this weekend. It wasn't the "Big" one he was after, but it is a fork with a good sized body. We now have meat and are having tender loins for supper tonight. I am excited. I am also hoping to add to that tonight as I am going back out to sit in my tree. No success last time, but maybe this time.

Everything around here is beautiful with all of this snow. The garden is definitely tucked in with a nice white blanket for the winter. The only thing I'll be digging as I go are my carrots and some may stay til spring. It won't hurt them any.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

No Venison Yet

OK, so hunting wasn't successful the other night in the fact that I did not come home with a deer, but I did enjoy my evening in the tree and did get an actual shot off at a nice buck, but was a bit high. I was surprised I even got my bow drawn. I have never done that in a tree before, much less with a nice buck in front of me. I didn't spook him, so the lives to let me get another poke at him next week maybe even Sunday night.

On Thursday I am leading a scrapbooking retreat at the camp I used to run. I am so excited for 4 days of scrapping. Maybe I'll get my book from my college trip to Europe re-done. Than I can move from 1998 to the present. It has been fun reliving the memories though.

You know... I used to like when the clocks got moved back in the fall, not so much now when I have 3 small kids who's bodies don't reset their clocks real easy. For the last 3 days my kids have been up before 5 am. Yikes. I'm praying that tomorrow I'll get to sleep past 5 bells.

On Sunday the kids and I baked a pumpkin! I had never done it and wanted to see how it would turn out. I picked one of our smaller ones, the kids cleaned it out and I put each half in a baking dish and in the oven on 400 degrees for and hour. When it was done I took them out, scraped out the "meat" and sent it through the blender. Some we ate for supper; Scott and I liked it, but the kids didn't and the rest I froze in 2 pint jars for later use in a pie, bars, muffins or whatever. My friend Rebekah and I are going to get together soon and experiment to see how it will turn out.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Silence of the Woods

In a mere short couple of hours I will be peacefully sitting in a tree, bow in hand, enjoying the silence that surrounds me. I can not wait! At lunch today (made by Adin - is first mac and cheese almost completely by himself), Scott commented on how it wasn't quiet out today which is good for bow hunting. I reminded him that I wasn't talking about natures noise, I was talking about one 4 year old and two 2 year old's noise. This time of year has always been a favorite of mine, whether it is bear hunting or deer hunting, I love the time that I get to just sit in the tree and wait. It is during those times that I am able to recenter, collect my thoughts and chat with God uninterrupted. It is lovely - the wind in the trees, the birds that haven't flown south, the red and gray squirrels. This year there are no acorns and the bugs are done for the year which is good. I don't even mind the tree swaying a bit anymore. When I first started sitting in a tree, I was way nervous and a bit un-trusting of the tree and the stand. I have now found new trust in the stands that we are using, my ability to use tree steps or the climber (I like my climber best) and a new love and appreciation for the trees.

There is also the plus side of potentially getting a shot off on a deer (no bear hunting this year). Around my stand there has been a nice 6 pointer and a couple groups of doe. One is a group of two and they are pretty calm tempered along with the single doe hanging around. The group of three are much more jumpy and skittish, so we'll see who shows up near the stand tonight. This is my first night out in the tree in two years for bow season so it will be great no matter what happens. We are in desperate need of some venison soon, I think we are down to our last pound of burger in the freezer and we have no steaks or roasts left. This is perfect curing weather also, upper 30's to low 40's during the day and below freezing at night. Last year was the first year we cured our venison longer this way and even my old buck was nice and tender. Way good.

Scott has been out most mornings and nights so far in November. He started out not being picky (just needing meat), but that changed last night when a really nice buck crossed his path and brush got in the way. Scott was not a happy camper when he got home last night. Now he has buck fever for this one particular buck. Hopefully he'll be able to narrow him down.

Other than the wonderful evening ahead, today has been a pretty productive day for me. Pantry is cleaned and organized (lots more room in there than I thought before I cleaned it - I guess another shopping trip is in order for the basics) Fridge is cleaned out and spotless, laundry is in progress and a couple load of dishes have been done. Now to tackle my tupper ware drawer! That is a scary drawer. So I best be off. I'll be sure to update on my hunting outcomes as I go. I hope others are able to get out and enjoy nature in what ever way they see fit.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween Splendor - By "Me" Lizzy

Mom let me blog again today about our exciting Halloween Weekend and preparations.

It all started with mom letting us carve our pumpkins that we grew in the garden this summer. They were so cool and so "big" (at least to us). This pumpkin was special because it was the first pumpkin to grow in our garden and it turned orange even before summer was over. We were worried that it wouldn't last until Halloween, but it did just fine. Guess you can tell how new we are at this gardening thing.
We all got to sit on the table to carve the pumpkin and we weren't real sure about "digging in" at first, but then it got kind of fun. Mom also said that she would roast some of the seeds and then we could eat them. Adin got to decide how mom carved the face. I think it turned out pretty well for a boy!
We roasted the seeds with garlic and salt. They turned out so yummy. I think that Adin, Elle and I ate almost all of them for a snack one day. Good thing that we have 2 more big pumpkins to harvest seeds from. Hope you like the pictures.

We also went along with the garden theme for our costumes this year. I was a broccoli, Elle was a carrot and Adin was a "mato" (Tomato in Adin speak). Because it is always so cold up here for Halloween, Mom made our costumes out of fleece so we were nice and warm. Mom says she even remembers having a blizzard one Halloween too. Can you imagine! Wow.
We joined up with our twin cousins who were each a half of watermelon, Grandma was a scarecrow and Buppa was the sun. Mom and Auntie Greta were the farmers and Uncle Nico was the "rain" and Daddy had to work, not fun.

We went to Greta and Nico's for their Halloween party, parade and trick or treating. We got lots of stuff. It was a great weekend. I love all of the candy we got, but I still think I like carrots fresh out of the garden better.

It was such a busy weekend, that it didn't take me long to fall asleep after it all. Silly mom for sneaking in and taking pictures. Well, it is lunch time and we are having fresh carrots that we just picked this morning from Adin's own garden, so I have to go. Maybe Mom will let me blog again soon and I hope that you all have fresh carrots you can have for lunch also. Bye!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Back On-line

Technology is great when it works. I am finally back on-line with our very slow dial-up now that our phone jack by the computer is fixed. To frustrating to even explain! In the mean time we have been busy visiting apple orchards, pumpkin patches, making apple sauce and starting up our wood stove for the first time and putting our garden to bed for the winter.

I don't have much time to write more now as I need to get some ducks stuffed with apples and in the oven to roast slowly for supper tonight. I do have some pictures that you might enjoy. Here goes....

Sunday, September 26, 2010

First Frost

I am amazed at how I view fall and the first frost now that I am the proud owner of a garden. Fall is still my favorite time of year, but I have found that since I have this great garden and lots of tomatoes that I have been waiting for them to ripen, I have been hoping that the first frost not come until October. Well, I'm not so lucky. While I was away in Ashland this weekend with my kids on our grape picking adventure, things froze down here. Fortunately I have a wonderful husband (I already knew this) who pulled all the tomatoes that I had sitting on the railing of our deck into the kitchen before he went to bed last night. Yeah Scott. When I got home to check out the garden this afternoon, it looked pretty sad. I was hoping to prolong my growing season, but no. Clean up will start tomorrow - Yeah for 4 day weekends.

Now on to happier things. Grapes, Juice, Jelly and Apple Sauce!
Friday night when the kids and I got to Greta and Nico's we jumped in and picked all of the grapes that my sister had that the boys hadn't snacked on. We picked a full average size diaper box. With 5 kids between our two families 4 and under, we have a lot of empty diaper boxes. We also picked a bunch of the remaining few apples that we could reach in hopes of adding a little apple juice to our grape juice in the morning. The kids had a blast picking grapes and eating them. I have to admit, I enjoyed eating them also.

On Saturday morning we cleaned, squashed, boiled and squeezed all of the grapes. We started with using cheese cloth but the flesh of the grapes kept squishing out so we used an old white cotton towel that Greta had. It worked much better and is now lovely shades of purple. Unfortunately our hands were also the same lovely shades of purple. In the end we had almost 2 gallons of juice once it had been diluted.

After we all had some fresh juice as a snack and the kids were off to a nap, Greta and I started in with the jelly. Neither of us had ever made jelly (helping Grandmas and Mom doesn't count at this point) before and we had intended to make just freezer jelly, but discovered that the canned version had a lot less sugar in it. We opted for that version to start. After 2 batches of jelly and trying to keep track of 5 children all day, we were pooped. Oh, I didn't forget about the apples we picked... after trying to extract the juice from the apple pieces in many different ways and not having an apple press, we opted for apple sauce. We made 2 pints of plain sauce for the kids and then we make 2 pints of jazzed up sauce for Greta and I. We didn't really go by any recipe, we just added our favorite spiced cider ingredients and away we went. After the Cinnamon sticks, all spice and clove pouch had simmered in the sauce for a bit we blended the sauce in the blender until smooth. It was a smooth, warm divine treat. I now love warm apple sauce. Yum! This morning we did make one batch of grape freezer jelly just to see how that turns out.

This coming weekend we are planning on heading back to Ashland for the Bayfield Apple fest and we're going to make and can some more of our divine apple sauce.

When we got home Lizzy, Elle and I harvested 2 of our 4 foot rows of carrots and got tons. Two full ice cream buckets, I think I have 5 or 6 rows left. It is a nice carrot crop. I blanched and froze this batch and will probably do the same to more of them, but I do want to try and store some in my root cellar over winter. I just need to make a nice wood box and find some nice saw dust. The only problem with having the girls help me with the carrot harvest is that they turn into little bunnies. At least they like eating fresh raw veggies.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Life and Times of Craziness

So, the new job is going great and I absolutely love it. I was half expecting to be completely exhausted everyday when I came home. Some days I am, but most days I don't. It has been so wonderful to see the kids though out the day even though I'm not working in their classroom/area (I'm in the baby room - lots of diapers - something we don't have around our house anymore). I have loved even more coming home and spending more time with them doing projects and having them help me out around the house and garden.

So far the kids have helped me make 9 + quarts of spaghetti sauce (one of which we had tonight for supper and the kids said it was the best ever), 4 + quarts of salsa and picking and freezing even more green beans. Soon we are going to pick and freeze some carrots.

We have also been working on putting down some concrete under our lean to where we are going to store wood for the wood stove for winter. Adin has spent a lot of time with Dad as this process has been going on. I even got to help finish a small piece up by the (under Adin's watchful eye) deck where we are going to install a ramp so Scott's Mom can get into our house. Adin said that I did a good job, so we'll see what Scott says when he gets home from work.

Along with this cold weather slowing down my tomatoes and everything else in the garden, it has also slowed down the concrete drying process also. Yikes. I absolutely love the canning process. I wish I had a pressure cooker also so I would be able to can more veggies. I have learned so many things can't be canned with a Boiling Water Bath (BWB).

This coming weekend, the kids and I are heading north (to Ashland) to help Greta with her grapes. I have Friday off so we are going to see how many grapes we can get picked before Greta gets home from work. Than the plan is to make juice and jelly. Hope that it will all turn out. I'll try and get some pictures to post from the weekend, I'm sure there will be some good picture opportunities with one 4 year old and four 2 year olds. Crazy times.

August and September have both been whorl winds and I have no idea where they have gone. I look to next spring and the new plantings that will happen in the garden and it makes me both happy and sad. Happy for the new growth and the new trials in the garden, but also sad at the fact that we will be unable to have growth here over the winter. Old timers in the area are saying we are in for a long cold winter with lots of snow. The lots of snow I can handle, but the long and cold I could do without. I guess time will tell. Life is never boring or dull in the Northwoods, I say this as my 3 kids run off their spaghetti supper doing laps from our kitchen, dining room & living room. Craziness surrounds us, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Laps are getting slower so maybe that is a sign of quieter times ahead, or maybe not.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Paper Bag Tomatoes

Now that things are starting to get cool around here and we haven't seen much of the sun in the last week, I have decided to help along some of my huge tomatoes from the asparagus bed that seem to take forever to ripen. Adin and I picked a bunch of them and put them in a paper bag and they are now sitting on our kitchen table with another paper bag filled with Roma tomatoes from a co-worker. Her husband has a nice garden and they had an over abundance so fortunately I was able to benefit from that. Those will make a nice addition to my tomatoes in my next batch of Spaghetti Sauce. I am very much looking forward to another go around, I had a ton of fun the first time.

Today my mom, the kids and I picked another gallon or so of green beans. I'm guessing that I'll probably get one more picking out of them. Those plants sure have been productive for me. I am very pleased.

Well, work will be approaching very early in the morning so bed is calling.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tomatoes and Missing Adin Brother

This morning was mass chaos. At 10:55 my only son Adin was going to be getting on the bus for his first day of 4-K and he was excited. I don't think that there was a wall or chair or table or fixture in our house that he didn't bounce off of. The kid was crazy excited, think he was wanting to get ready to go at 5:30 this morning. I still wanted to sleep. That didn't happen (did I mention beds in the list of things the kids was bouncing off of? If not we must add that one along with family members.)

While we waited we started working on spaghetti sauce, 2 ice cream buckets full of chopped up tomatoes. From now on, I will slightly if not completely freeze all of my tomatoes before canning, as the peels come off much easier.

Once bus time came around, the whole family including Maya the dog walked down the driveway to watch Adin get on the bus for the first time. When that bus came he did great. Mr. Wayne, the bus driver had to tell Adin to actually stop and wave so I could take a picture. As the bus drove off with a smiling Adin, I realized that I had a very sad little Lizzy. Elle was fine and walked back up the driveway with Daddy. I had to carry Lizzy up the driveway, because she didn't want to leave. All she said up the driveway was "I miss my Adin Brother!" When we got to the house Lizzy sat on the bottom steps heading up to the deck, and there she sat. We couldn't get her to come in, she just kept saying he missed her Adin Brother. Scott went out, sat down next to her on the step and still couldn't get her to come in. He asked her if she was going to sit there all day and she said yes, until her Adin Brother comes home. That is when my heart broke. Seeing how sad she was without her Adin was a big surprise. I truly hadn't expected her to be affected like this. She sat there for almost an hour.

I finally talked her into going to town with me to get basil for the spaghetti sauce and there we also bought some Popsicles. I think the Popsicles helped, because she is now running around being silly with Elle, but it took a while. In the mean time, I got all those tomatoes stewing away trying to get them cooked down so I can continue this project. This will be awhile, I may have to finish it after my training tonight for Early Childhood stuff for work. I should be home around 9 pm. We'll see home much it cooks down by 4:30. So until the Spaghetti sauce is done and canned, be blessed and I'll see ya later.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Pumpkin Hammocks and Beautiful Jars

I know that I have mentioned many times how our pumpkins
have gotten wild and crazy. Well I have a few vines that are growing up the fence around the garden. Now one of them has produced a nice little pumpkin. The way those little tendrils are already stretched and tight I know that they most likely would not be able to last until this falls pumpkin harvest. I happened to be reading a few days ago about a certain cantaloupe named "Lupe" who is sporting a rather nice pink bandanna for some support in Thyme to Garden Now. I loved the idea and thought that it would work perfect in this situation. Now our high climbing pumpkin has a pretty blue "hat" as Lizzy says, I like to call it a nice little pumpkin hammock. Thanks for the great idea Minji.

I was also asked for some pictures of the blue green jars that were my Great Grandma's that I used in my dill pickle adventures. Here are some of them. In this light they look mostly blue, but up close they are just dazzling. You are able to see all of the fabulous little air bubbles in each of the jars. The pickles that have been canned in these jars really are a nice bright green color. It is pretty cool.

Words from Me - Lizzy

I have been trying to figure out what Mommy has been doing typing on the computer every so often and she told me it was blogging about our garden. Seeing as how I have become Mommy's little gardener (that's what she calls me) I asked if I could give it a try and she said here goes.

I should probably introduce myself a little better. My name is Elizabeth or Lizzy for short, although my Great Grandma calls me "Beth" sometimes. I'm 2 1/2 and I'm the oldest of twins (only by a minute but I'm STILL the big sister.) I have really started to like this gardening thing and want to help Mommy out a lot. It all started when she was planting all the seeds into these puffy little dirt pocket things that grew when you put water on them. How cool is that. My cousin Tristan helped me and Mom. We were good at pushing the seeds down in the dirt.

Once we actually got to plant them in the really cool garden that Daddy built for Mommy I gave everything lots of love. I kissed all the garlic and onions before we put them in the dirt (oh "soil" Mommy says it is only dirt once it is all over us, it is soil when it is in the garden. - that is some old time joke between Mommy, Auntie Greta and Grandma Sandy, not really sure what that is about. Maybe when I'm older they will explain it.) I was pretty bummed when Mommy pulled all of the garlic out of the garden and most of them were the same size as when I kissed them and put them in the soil. I was not happy and neither was Mommy. Mommy said that the onions didn't size up either, I'm guessing that means they are small.

I love to go to the garden everyday with Mommy, I know where everything is and check on all of the pumpkins and watermelons and tomatoes. I love to see everything growing. Right now my favorite things in the garden are the green beans. I always have to eat some every time I go down there. Yum! Adin and Elle like them too and Mommy calls us her 3 little bunnies, I guess we sound like bunnies while we are munching on the beans.

Well, I have to get going... Mommy wants me to take a nap. Ha, like that is going to work. Hope you enjoyed my words and maybe Mommy will let me blog again.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Productive Pickle Day

Today was a productive day I believe. My 17 lbs of cucumbers are now 12 quarts and 11 pints of dill pickles. All jars successfully sealed also. Today I felt a bit of connection with my history as I canned with my Grandmother's Boiling-Water Canner and my Great Grandma's green jars. They are the coolest things and I'm sure that they aren't made anymore. Scott asked why I was using them if they were antiques and I told him that Great Grandma Anna probably would be a bit sad if we didn't use them. She was a very no nonsense practical person. She even cut a chunk of netting out of her wedding veil because she needed some netting for something. I think that she would be happy that I'm using this old stuff for everyday uses. I am going to be darn careful with those jars though.

Peanuts Violated

So last night I went out to start digging into the reclaiming of the garden after the weekend and I discovered that my peanuts (who I had been babying and praying would produce) had been violated. Over the weekend something small got into the garden and ate all of my peanuts. Not the plants, those are still nicely planted, but there is a small trench all the way around every plant and beautiful peanut shells all over the garden. I am very sad. We so hoped to be able to make peanut butter this fall if we got any and here they actually grew peanuts and now they are gone. Dang Nabbit!

Today the girls and I are going to dive into another round of making pickles. Hopefully this batch turns out better then the first. We have 17 lbs. of cucumbers to pickle.

I have been searching for a good spaghetti sauce recipe so I am able to can up my tomatoes in it. Our family loves spaghetti so that is my plan for the tomatoes. If anyone has any suggestions, that would be great.

Here is the pics I promised of my start of the tomato harvest and my very sad little Adin after he kissed the tree. He is doing much better today.

Monday, August 23, 2010


I now have the beautiful color of red in our garden. The tomatoes have started to ripen, even the huge tomatoes on our Tomato Tragedy plants from earlier this spring. It is truly amazing how tough these plants can be. I thought that after those storms earlier this summer pretty much took out the two tomato plants that I have in my asparagus bed that they were toast. I was wrong! I'm very glad. Those 2 plants have some of the biggest fruits on it that I have ever seen. And the mega blossom tomatoes, crazy. (sorry, no pictures. I left my camera charger in Ashland at my sister's after this weekend. No good.)

This is my week of reclaiming my garden. Now that I am finally done working at camp and have this week off before I start my new job at the day care, the kids and I are going to hit it hard (maybe not as hard as my son hit a tree yesterday while swinging on the tire swing at my sister's. I'll post more about that tomorrow with pics hopefully. He has a pretty sad little look now with a major fat lip and puffy nose.) The peas are coming out and maybe the beans, we'll have to see about that. I'm still hoping that the yellow bell pepper plants do something - as of now...not so much. The pumpkins have taken over, next year they will have a new home on the south side of the garden outside of the fence (seeing as how most of them have made their way that direction anyway) so I have more room for other things that don't become out of con troll as much as these have. I have a pumpkin forest.

Well, they guys are here to install our outdoor wood boiler, so I best get outside. One last note... if anyone has any good recipes or trick to canning pumpkin for later use (aka - pies) let me know. I think I'm going to have a bumper crop of pumpkins this year - more than what we'll need at Halloween.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sunflowers and garden tours by Lizzy

So my Lizzy has become very interested in the goings on of the garden. She knows where
everything is right down to the smallest watermelon. and she loves giving tours of the garden. She also loves harvesting things and more so eating them.

Most of my raised beds are still going great guns although the heat has taken it's toll on a lot of things. Next year I'm going to make a move able shade for the tomatoes and the cucumbers (both of which got pretty sun burnt this year.) I'm also going to increase the size of the pea trellis and the amount of peas I plant to make a pea tunnel. My nephews are fond of those and I'm sure my kids would get a kick of of it also.

Just yesterday I realized that I never put in a picture of my composting barrel now that it is mostly done. Here it is.... We took an old bear bait barrel (yes, i said bear bait - Scott and I are both bear hunters.) drilled air and drainage hole in it and holes for the pipe and mounted it into the 4x4's. I am still going to be painting the 4x4's as well as the barrel to match the garden posts and I'm hoping to add a second barrel (maybe after this bear season - not sure) so I can have compost in 2 different stages. It works really well to flip it end over end (it can be a bit heavy when it is full, but that is ok - it's a good work out.) But it gets and stays nice and hot and I have already gotten some good compost out of there.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A New Chapter

In two weeks life will change and I'll be starting a new adventure. For the past 15 so years I have been working at a Bible Camp (10 of which have been full time). As of Aug 19th I will be done. This was my last full day of residential camp today (and a crazy day it was).

You may ask, after 15+ years of Youth Ministry (1.5 yrs in there as a youth director also) what I might be doing..... well, I want to spend more time with my 3 kids. I have missed so much of them being little already in the last 4 years and I don't want to miss any more. I also miss my hubby. We both work tons and it is usually opposite each other so we see each other coming and going. NOT fun. My new job will be as a Day Care Teacher (I still get to work with kids), and not just any day care, but the day care that my kids go to. I am so excited. This is the absolutely coolest place ever! The staff are wonderful and my kids love it. I get the best of both worlds - I still get to work full time, but I also get to be with my kids.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Humid Bean Surprises

So over the last few days I have not spent much time outside in the garden as I had been, the humidity has been horrific. I knew that I had bush beans, sugar snap peas and shelling peas that needed to be picked along with bunches of cucumbers. But when at 5:30 am you step outside to almost 80 degrees and 98% humidity you know it is going to be a rough day. That is how it has been for the last few days. MAJOR YUCK! Well yesterday was no different (actually it was the worst day yet) until about 3:30 or so when a 10 minute storm rolled through, dumped a ton of rain and broke some of the humidity.

I took advantage....I got about a half gallon of sugar snap peas or more, a number of cucumbers, about another cup and a half of shelled peas and some HUGE green beans. I had been afraid that that was going to happen. Here is where my surprise comes in. I thought that at that size they would be getting kind of tough, nope they were wonderful. I also discovered that my bean plants, which I thought were winding down for the year are getting their 2nd wind - I have an entirely new batch of flowers on them. Way fun. My kids love the fresh beans and as I was picking some baby carrots for supper the kids kept raiding my basket of beans. These raids continued right up until I put the beans in the steamer to cook them for supper. At least they had a great healthy snack and they still ate supper. I was a pretty happy mom.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pickle, Pickle, Who's Got the Pickle?

Today I enter into the world of canning. As I type this I have my first batch of dill pickles boiling away on the stove. This is all new to me and I decided to make pickle wedges as my cucumbers were a bit big. I should have a nice bunch of smaller cucumbers to pick tomorrow or Monday that I can pickle also. The house is smelling so good, I look forward to seeing how they turned out after their week of "sitting." My kids are all ready to eat pickles, I don't think they understand how long the process really is. Good thing we still have some store bought pickles left in the fridge.

I have to add dill to my garden plan for next year. It smells so good and looks pretty cool also. I remember when I was growing up, my Grandma always had a huge dill plant behind her house. It was just the coolest thing.

I'm using a pretty standard recipe for dill pickles, right out of the BHG red and white cookbook. Does anyone have a great pickle recipe that they wouldn't mind sharing with a beginner?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Things of Green

Last night was a harvest of lots of things green. I was able to have my first picking of shelling peas. Boy are those a lot of work for a cup and a half of peas, they do taste great so that is redeeming. It was my 3rd pick of sugar snap peas and 2nd for green beans and 2nd for the cucumbers also. The lettuce has been picked here and there for a few weeks now when ever we want/need some and of course Amy the bunny loves it, so we pick her some also. I am hoping to add some red to this picture in the next week or so, there are a couple of my tomatoes that look like they just might be starting to enter into that ripening process.

I am still in love with my garden, but not the mosquitoes that seem to like it too. Normally mosquitoes have never bothered me. I have spent summers on the Namekagon and St. Croix rivers up here as a river guide and never used bug spray once and they left me alone, but now.... 30 seconds in the garden and they almost carry a person away. I think that next year I am going to strategically plant some citronella plants throughout the garden, maybe that will help keep those pesky things at bay.

A couple of weeks ago I discovered my first watermelon which was at that point the size of a very small marble, last night I found tons of watermelons. I was so excited! My biggest one is about the size of a tennis ball. I'll be sure to take some more pics this weekend and get them posted. I just get so excited each time I find a new baby something down there in the garden.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


This morning I had the chance to enjoy my first cucumber from our garden. There is definitely a difference between fresh just picked, home grown cucumbers and those things you get in the store that have that slimy wax on them. Yuck! My cucumber open faced sandwich (a favorite that I pick up on in Norway many years back visiting family and friends) was wonderful. My Cucumbers aren't big as they are a pickling variety, but are very tasty. I hope to try canning a few jars of pickles this weekend if I have enough pickle sized cucumbers. Gotta try Grandma's Mustard Pickle recipe. I also blanched and froze about a gallon of green beans and a quart of sugar snap peas. We had fresh ones in turkey stir fry the other night and they were fabulous, the kids kept picking them out and eating just them. I was surprised when Scott said that the meat was part of his turkey from this spring, it was tender and not gamy tasting.

I was thinning out some of the carrots as they got planted too close together in some spots and they are actually looking like carrots. Way fun. Instead of composting these tiny little things I'm feeding them to Amy the Lionhead bunny. Boy does she like those, they are gone in an instant. We are all excitedly waiting to be able to harvest big carrots.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A New Addition

We had a family reunion on my Aunt's farm this weekend. On our way down on Friday the car was filled with a wonderful aroma that sent me reeling into memories of the past (both good and bad.) It was the smell of fresh cut hay and I thing that is one of my favorite smells. It both invokes beautiful memories of growing up on the farm and also instant tiredness and sore muscles from hours and hours of tossing hay bales around during haying season. As much as I miss the farm, I don't miss haying.

The family reunion was great and we got to see our cousin Luke from AZ. who we didn't think was going to be there. Great surprise! My kids love going to the farm and are always singing "Old MacDonald" except we change it to "Auntie Lori Had a Farm!"

On Sunday the kids and I, Grandma and Buppa, Greta, Nico and the boys went to Irvine Park. Great place, it has playgrounds a small zoo like area and a petting zoo. The kids had a blast. Funny thing is that we came home with a furry little bunny. The kids didn't know that I was going to get her, but they were very excited. She is a gray with tan/brown dusty looking Lionhead and adorable. (pictures to come later.) All the way home the kids were trying to think of a name for her and we settled on "Amy." The name Amy came from Adin, after a camper we had last week at camp and whom Adin fell in love with. So we now have Amy who is living in Adin's room and is really enjoying the spoils of our garden which the kids are having a ball picking and feeding her.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Garbage Can Potatoes: Part 2

Just wanted to update on the potato in the garbage can process... they are doing great! I have three 55 gal. cans (one for each of my kids) that the potatoes are growing like weeds. Elle's can (pictured) is doing the best, the plants are very tall and the flowers a beautiful. I never knew that the flowers were so pretty. Adin's can is next, with plants just peeking over the rim and Lizzy's can is getting close to the top. For some reason hers were a little slower to start in the growing, but they'll get there.

Now I just hope that there are potatoes growing under the soil that we have been so carefully tending too, watering, adding compost and more soil. Everything this year is an experiment for me as this is my first official vegetable garden, so we'll see how things go and we'll tweak things for the future. In the mean time, I'm going to enjoy these beautiful potato flowers.

Update on other aspects of life around our 20 ac. It is official... we are going to be putting in an outdoor wood furnace in the next month and a half. We are just waiting for the estimate from the company and digging up 2 double stumps next to out shed. I know that when we started this project we were going to build a new structure behind our house, change of plans. We now know that the shed is not to far away from the house, so we are going to put the stove next to the shed, utilize the lean to off of the shed for wood storage and build the chicken coop and green house off of the back of the shed. That way, less structure to build and we can heat the shed also. Love this idea. Right now we probably have almost 2 years of wood ready to be split. In the end this is going to be such a more cost effective way of heating our home and everything else. I am looking forward to finishing my flower garden next to the deck also once these water and heating lines go in. Right now it looks a bit funny with 4 feet of nothing in the middle of the flower bed. Soon oh very soon! Scott finished freezing the last 3 cases of corn the other night before I got home from work, so that was wonderful. Thanks hun! :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tomato Tragedy

Last night we had a pretty severe wind/rain storm at our house. It didn't last long, but it did a number on our garden. the two biggest tomato plants that are living with my asparagus were completely blown over and partially up-rooted. One we were able to right and replant pretty easily, but the other was in tough shape. One of it's major "branches" was bent and cracked so we had to remove it and than a lot of staking and tying needed to be done. I have tomato cages around all of my 9 plants, but they have gotten really big and that wind was pretty nasty. I just hope that it will survive for it is loaded with small tomatoes and buds.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Picking, cutting and freezing

This spring we discovered a hidden blessing on our 20 ac., wild blueberries, and lots of them. We have a large oak ridge that runs the length of our property and it is loaded with blueberry plants. All spring we were out there checking on the flower progress and praying that they wouldn't freeze during our weird May snow storms and low and behold they didn't. We have been picking and picking blueberries. I think between Scott and I we have picked almost 2 gallons. It would have been more but we had a bit of "help" from the kids and Maya the dog. Would you believe that Maya only picked the ripe ones. Crazy, I have never seen anything like that before in my life, and she would beat us to the good bushes also. Adin deemed himself the "Blueberry Monster" and Lizzy just layed right down on the forest floor next to a bush and would eat away (I called her my little bear cub). The berries are mostly done for the year, but we had fun and now will be able to enjoy blueberry pancakes all winter.

This weekend I was able to get 6 cases of sweetcorn (for free - even better) so we have been cutting the corn off the cob, blanching and then freezing them. It felt like I was back on the farm as a kid doing this, the only thing missing was the cows to feed the husks too. No we are NOT getting a cow. Way more work than I want. The recipe is the best - it is what we always used growing up on the farm.

Home on the Farm Sweet Corn
8-10 cup cut corn
1 t. sugar
1 t. salt
1 stick butter (I use less)
1 c water
boil for 3 min., cool then package and freeze

So great! I have 3 cases done and 3 more to go. Guess what I'll be doing tonight!

My next project is going and doing some raspberry and strawberry picking and making some of my Grandma's jam. Yum!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Photos Galore

Gotta love the May snow storm. The big flakes were really cool,
but it delayed out progress a bit.

Finally getting the fence and the raised beds done. Looking pretty good. Elle and Lizzy "helping out" or just playing in the sand between the raised beds.

I have a resident garden fairy living in my garden.
Isn't she the cutest.

I'm so proud of this garden. Scott did so much work on getting the beds made and the fence up. I have had a ton of fun getting things planted and watching them grow. This is my relaxation to be able to come and walk through the garden and spend time with my family in here. Love this place.

Our first radish! Pumpkins going wild!

2 Months (Opps!)

Ok, so I know that I have been terrible with posting on here as of late (2 months late), but in Camping Ministry summers are a bit crazy. At least this is my last summer here, which I am very sad about but also happy for a new adventure.

So my garden is "gwowing" like crazy, to quote my 2 year old Elle. The radishes have come and gone and were wonderful according to my dad who loves them. The sugar snap peas are just getting ready for a first picking, and I have lots of "babies." Baby cucumbers, beans, tomatoes and more. Oh how I love going into the garden every morning at 5:30 to check on them, pull a few weeds and give drinks when needed. There are even new asparagus shoots coming up again. Way cool. I have lots of new pictures, and will update them when I find my cord for my phone (I think it got borrowed by some of my staff.)

Well, back to work, I just wanted to do a quick update with lots more to follow.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Garden - one step closer

Last night Scott went and got all the posts and other lumber we will be needing to fence in and build the raised beds in our garden. The space has been leveled (losts of digging by Scott as I messed up my back) and is now ready to have the fence put up and now we wait.... It is raining! Don't get me wrong, we need the rain so it is good, but it is not only raining, there are snowflakes in the air and we are supposed to get 2-4 inches tonight. It is May for goodness sake. Ish! I guess planting potatoes in my garbage cans is going to have to wait until tomorrow.

On a positive note, the rain is going to be really good for the sod that we dug up and moved from the garden spot to the sand pit around the back door and deck. It is a complete transformation of the back yard already and we just started. Amazing what a little green grass will do!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Garbage Can Potatoes

Garbage can potatoes sounds like a strange combination of words to me, but after doing some online research into it, I am a big fan. All you have to do is take a 30 gal. garbage can (it can be and old one that has holes in the bottom or a brand new one, makes no difference) and drill 1/2 inch holes in the bottom and up the sides 3-6 inches for drainage. Fill the the can with about 10 inches of soil and plant your starters. As the plants grow keep adding compost/soil/etc. to cover the stem (the leaves need to keep showing) - this takes the place of mounding the potatoes. Once they are ready to harvest, just dump the can out on a tarp and pick out the potatoes. No digging needed! I've read that this works well seeing as how potatoes like loose rich soil, they can't be planted in the same soil year after year because of decease that may occur and it saves space in the garden from these "space hogs." I am very excited to try this for my potatoes and sweet potatoes.

Monday, April 26, 2010


What an evening. I got home from work and went right out to the "garden" or future site of, and started cutting sod. This would be easy with one of those nice little sod cutters, but no - I'm doing it with a flat shovel. After I cut the outer line on 3 sides I started pealing the sod back. I actually got some pretty nice sod rolls. They were cool.

When Scott and the kids got home, the kids joined me in the sod cutting department and Scott started sodding the spots where we had stumps taken out. We were glad that we could reuse the sod instead of just composting it. Now I just hope that it will take and thrive and not just die on us.

While pealing sod, I discovered an oddity in our yard/future garden site. In one area I was hitting hard spots that just wouldn't peal with the shovel. Come to find out.... that area is riddled with garden stakes. Who puts garden stakes in the middle of the yard that are about 1 inch under the sod. Very strange and frustrating. I think I pulled up about 6-8 of them in 15 minutes. At least I'll get to reuse those also. :) We got a lot done tonight, but we have a really long way to go. Hopefully tomorrow when I get home from work I'll be able to get some more sod cut and rolled.

Once all the sod is removed Scott is going to try and use our 4Wheeler and the plow attachment to slowly level the area an move the top soil around so we won't have to do as much shoveling. I hope and pray that this works.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Garden Posts

So tonight we decided that were are going to dig up and level the garden area by hand and not rent a bobcat to do it. Saving money is the key! So we marked the corners and started a couple of test holes to see how much good soil we had. To our surprise we have about 6-8 inches depending on the spot. NICE! Tomorrow when I'm done with work I'm going to start the sod removal process and see how long that will take in a 30' x 30' area. I'm excited that we are actually breaking ground on this part of the project.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Gophers and Lilies

We started this morning cleaning up the "Gopher" mess in the yard. I didn't get all the grinder holes filled in, but I got a good chunk of them done. Adin insisted on filling holes the way dogs create them. The dirt was a flying, I wish I would have gotten a picture.

After I had enough of the shoveling and raking we moved on to finishing the lily and day lily beds. Needless to say it was an all day project, I got lots of sun, I'm a bit sore, but they are all in their new homes and it is really starting to look nice. I am bummed that I had to leave a 4 foot section in the middle of the day lily bed so Scott can dig a trench to lay the piping and such for the outdoor wood furnace. Once that is done than I'll fill in that area so it won't look so strange.

Once Scott got home from work this afternoon, we started to map out where the wood stove shed/green house/wood storage/chicken coop is going to be. I'm not really sold on the the layout that he has in mind yet, only because it is going to be a long building and I really like the view into the valley. But - with the topography of our backyard we are going to have to dig into the hill and the building will be set about 3-4 feet into the hill to make it lower, so the obstruction won't be as bad. I'm going to sleep on it, but really that is how it will have to work I think.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Stumps Gone! Lilies Here We Come!

Today the guys with the stump grinder finally were able to come and get rid of all the stumps. It was a pretty cool contraption and Adin was in heaven. BIG MACHINES! The grinder was attached to the front end of a small dozer. Little boy's dream! Adin kept saying that "This is the best day ever!" After they were done grinding, our yard looked like we had a major gopher problem.

Now on to my Lilies! As soon as I got home from work, I started in on amending the soil in the lily bed and then started transplanting. All 3 kids were pretty excited to help also and were so cute at how they handled the bulbs, especially the "baby" ones. Lizzy is now my expert lily girl. I worked as long as I could and got 80% of them moved (not counting the ones at the old house) and I had to give it up and come in. I'm glad that I have tomorrow off and can finish this up.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dusty Weekend

This was a very fun but dusty weekend. We went to Ashland on Saturday morning (after seeing Scott's turkey) to help Greta and Nico with some sanding of their old wood floors that they discovered under the carpet they took out and to start all the seeds for our gardens that need that indoor start. (seeds finally made it) Needless to say there was a lot of dust and sawdust flying around the living room, dining room and kitchen from the sanding and a lot of dirt flying around outside because of the wind. Yikes. But we had fun. I had lots of little helpers (5 of them) when it came time to plant the seeds. Adin, Lizzy and Tristan were the ones who helped the most. It was pretty fun. Now the seed trays are all snuggled in Greta's green house germinating away.

Lizzy and I did a lot of Egg picking in the chicken coop on Sunday. She was a little tentative, but did get brave enough to pick a couple up on her own. Hopefully she'll keep up that interest when we get our own chickens in the future.

While we were gone, Scott when and picked up our new (new to us) mower from our friend Marc who no longer needs a rider with a bagging system. So when we got home on Sunday, the kids helped Daddy put the bagger on the mower and I started mowing, which was also very dusty. We are in desperate need of rain and chopping up all those dried up oak leaves was a bit dusty also. My eyes still felt like sandpaper when I woke up this morning. But I got a good start on the bagging of the leave. There is still a lot of racking that need to be done where trees came down (I'm not going to mow over all those sticks).

Rumor has it that the tree service with the stump grinder will be coming Tuesday or Wednesday. Very exciting! Then I'll be able to get those flowers moved and start the layout of the garden and fencing. I'm so excited! This could be a busy week around our house.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Turkey, A Turkey, Daddy Got A Turkey!

Very excited squeals this morning when we got the call from Daddy saying that he got his turkey. The kids couldn't get dressed fast enough to go and see Daddy's turkey. Then we waited, and waited, and waited for Daddy to come home. The kids were so excited to see it and to feel the soft feathers. Elle is ready to go turkey hunting with Daddy some day. Being only 2, she has a few years to wait. Now Daddy is going to be helping Uncle Steve this next week to find and call in a bird for him, like Uncle Steve did for Daddy.

Monday, April 12, 2010

"Heart" Rot

While inspecting stumps of the trees that we have cut down during this project, the kids and I have discovered that almost all of the trees have had some degree of heart rot. There was one stump in particular that I found to have very interesting heart rot. I couldn't believe that it was actually in the shape of a heart. The kids thought that it was the coolest and I was just amazed. This actually was a pretty big tree and I was surprised that there wasn't a ton of good wood left to support that large of a tree, but I enjoy this stump and smile every time I walk by it and am happy that I am able to get a glimpse into some of God's more interesting and different handy work.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Burning Hotdogs and Marshmallows

To night we had our first campfire here at the new house. I had originally thought that I would put the fir pit on the edge of the yard and do some fun landscaping around it, but I finally decided that having it closer to the house (about 30 feet away or so) would be more practical for campfire meals. So I put it in the same spot the previous owner had it.

I asked Adin what he wanted for supper and he said that we should burn hot dogs and marshmallows, so that is what we had, minus the burning part. That is just what he calls roasting. We have a small over the fire hand grill, so we used that for the hot dogs, which is much quicker than making the hot dogs on sticks.

I was impressed with Maya. I thought that she would be trying to eat off of every one's plates seeing as how we were sitting on stumps or the ground, but she just sat there waiting like such a good girl. All in all it was a fun and sticky night with the 5 of us and I hope that we will have many more of them.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Cistern

After lots and lots of digging and about 20 really stinky 5 gallon bucket loads of gross muddy water, the cistern was ready to get yanked out of the ground. However, Adin and my attempt to pull it out with the 4wheeler didn't work. We just could not get a grip on it at the right angle with the cable. Adin did get really good at controlling the buttons for the winch. When Scott got home he got out his drill and drilled a large hole in the side and hooked the cable to it and it popped right out of the ground.
This is the cistern upside down in the yard.

Now all I have to do is finish filling up the holes and we'll be good to go. I think that we are just going to leave the plastic pipe in the ground and not dig it up as it goes under the deck and all the way to the house. Digging under the deck doesn't sound to fun to me.
It was pretty cool once we got the barrel out Adin said, "look mom, there is a worm." Well his worm wasn't really a worm after all. It was a skink that was about 3 inches long at most. Scott jumped in the hole and grabbed it so the kids could get a better look. The skink's tail was the coolest color purple, which Adin loved as purple is one of his favorite colors. We let the skink go in some bushes on the edge of the yard. The kids loved seeing it and kept going over to where we let it go looking for it.
Tonight I also tried my hand and splitting wood by hand with my friend "the Maul." I knew it was going to be hard and the wood was green which make it even harder, but after many attempts I did get one chunk split. I need a lot better aim (I think - no - I know I made Scott nervous.) I figure that if I keep working on splitting by hand (as we do not have a hydraulic splitter yet) I'll be in pretty good shape by the end of the summer with all the wood we have that needs to be split. Or - I could have a really messed up back and shoulder (old injuries!) I guess we will see. It was fun though.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Waiting on Seeds

The seeds for the garden have been ordered for over 3 weeks now (almost 4) and they still aren't here. My sister and I were hoping to be able to start some of them this weekend. Guess not. Maybe next weekend.

The work in our yard continues with more trees being cut up and hauled away to open up the space to let the sun into the yard where the garden will grow. I won't be doing much of the lifting and digging for a couple of days, seeing as how I somehow messed up my back on Tuesday. This is a major pain in the butt (and back) and a not so fun set back. At least I'll still be able to put out my bird feeders tonight - provided that the bears stay out of our yard!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

First Day of No Socks & Turkey Reports

Today I broke out my flip flops to wear to work. (I'm surprised that it has taken me this long to break them out this year.) I must be whimping out as I get older. Who knows?

Spring is definitely here as our household enters the tradition of the "Turkey Report." This goes on between Scott and I and our friend Steve as the guys start preparing for their upcoming Spring Turkey seasons. I usually hunt also, but this year I have way to much stuff at work to worry about to be able take time off for Turkey hunting. I'm a bit bummed. Oh well, I can still get up just before light and sit out on our deck to see if there is anyone out there "Talking." Can't wait to hear that gobble in the morning again. I had my first report to Scott this morning as I came across 2 jakes and 2 hens on my way to work. Pretty cool. Scott's season is in 2 weeks so we'll hit it hard core next week listening in the morning and at night to see if we can put any birds to bed.

Yesterday I was off from work and the kids and I spent most of the day outside. We did some more hauling of wood and raked up leaves. We uncovered my Hosta beds which are in the terraced garden along our driveway leading up to the house. We got most of the backyard raked up from the leaves and sticks that came down when we took that back tree down. The kids took turns raking with the little rake; Adin and Elle have the concept of raking into the pile, but Lizzy had her own ideas yesterday. :)

I also started on the process to empty and dig up the buried cistern that we found in the back yard that used to collect rain water. Great idea, but not a great spot when you have 3 small children. We don't need anyone falling in. This system has not been in use for about a year at least (or when ever the previous owner put in the new gutters on the house) seeing as the piping isn't connected to any downspout anymore. So... when I opened it yesterday to see if it was still frozen or not I found a handful of dead, gross mice in various stages of thawing. Most of the water was good to go, I was able to haul out 18 - 5 gallon buckets out of there until the ice chunk was too big to go any further down in the barrel which is cone shaped. So then I just started digging around the outside in preparation for hauling the slimy thing out. I'm all for collecting rain water for watering gardens and plants, but when it has been sitting so long and has become a mass grave site for rodents, that is when I say OK time to get ride of the thing. I am however going to try and do a regular rain barrel for watering in the future, just not a buried one that my kids could fall into.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Same old, same old

Not much new and exciting has happened in the last week with our yard projects. We keep plugging along with the wood and brush clean up. Scott is going to take down the old dog house today if the kids cooperate. We are hoping to get the rest of the little trees cut down soon so we can have the guys come back with the stump grinder so I can get the lilies and day lilies moved that I uncovered from leaves and sticks yesterday. Than after that is done we can start working up the area for the veggie garden and get the soil tested and all that good stuff. Working today is going to be hard, because I know I'll just want to get home and get outside.

The composting is going ok. Adin still loves doing it, but it just really seems to be a slower process than I thought. Not much has changed in the things that I have put in there. Maybe by fall it will be ready. I hope! Well... off to work I go.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Composting Starter

I have now come up with a plan to make a turning compost barrel out of an old bear bait barrel. I just have to wait until the garden is laid out so I will know where to put the posts in the ground; until then I have made a mini one to keep outside the back door by the kitchen.

I took a 5 gallon bucket with lid and drilled a few small holes in the bottom for drainage and about 15 vertical lines of 3-4 holes each going all the way around the sides of the bucket. I then started collecting items to put into it. We have tons of dried leaves (which is great) and I put up a list in the kitchen of compostable items (coffee grounds, veggie and fruit remnants, juices from canned fruits and veggies, Kleenex, stuff like that) and an ice cream bucket in the sink to collect through out the day. Than at the end of each day I'll take it out to the big bucket and add it too it, put the cover on it and give it a few good shakes. So far Adin has been my composting buddy ever since we had to add his little pumpkin that he got from Grandma and Grandpa for Halloween. Yep that is right - it is March and he got it in October and it lasted this long. Elle and Lizzy's are still looking great. Crazy stuff. Adin is excited that his old pumpkin will turn into good stuff (as he puts it) to grow new pumpkins. Pretty cute. The bucket I used is black to help absorb heat and speed up the process. I look forward to seeing how long it will take for this stuff to fully compost. Such a fun new adventure.

Scott and I also spent the evening last night loading up and hauling away some of the brush from the trees out into the woods to make more habitat for animals. Hopefully something will enjoy the brush piles as a new home.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Clean-up Begins

This morning the kids and I headed outside bright and early. We filled in one of the holes that was left from the posts that Scott and I pulled out last night. Than I started loading up up the siding that I pulled off the shed into the 4-Wheeler trailer. After an hour the kids got hungry again, so here we are inside at 9:15 for them to eat their 2nd breakfast (they didn't really eat much the first time.) Hopefully later today I'll get a lot more done. I'm almost ready to empty the trailer and start on load #2.

Later.... Today has had a lot of progress. The entire out building/shed has been dismantled, 2 loads of ick wood have been taken to the burn pile and Scott got 3 of the big oaks that we had taken down around the house cut up. Now we just have to do a lot of brush and log hauling to get the back yard cleaned up. One step closer to the garden. Yeah! Adin keeps asking when we get to plant things. :)

Oh and the kids and I also got in a few good rounds of Red Light/Green Light in this afternoon along with some rolling down the hill in the front yard, a nice long walk through the woods collecting pine cones. Great afternoon.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My Demo

So Scott started the hard demo on this gross little building, and I got to finish it. :) After I dug some more holes around the gate poles yesterday afternoon (Scott has to help me pull them out - it is a 2 person job), I tackled the walls of the out building.

First I started using the crowbar to take off the half log siding on one side, but then I decided that using the maul would be much less time consuming and a ton more fun. So after a lot of pounding and swinging of that maul way above my head in some spots and a pretty bruised up finger, all the siding was off.

We want to save the 2x4's so I couldn't just pound away on those, so back to the crowbar. Most of them were pretty easy to just pull down once I got the top support boards off. Now we just have to clean up the mess and bust apart the flooring. There must have been carpenter ants or something that likes to eat woods in the walls, because there are a couple of cool looking 2x4's from one of the front corners. I don't think that we'll be using either of those spongy boards again. Poor Maya (our Chessy) has been fervently trying to get the red squirrels and chipmunks that have been running between the old out building and the now piles of lumber and junk to the old dog house about 8 feet away. She is bound and determined to get them, maybe in her younger years, but not now.

It is nice to be able to see the valley from the kitchen window. I know that it won't always be unobstructed like that, but when we put the new shed in next year it will be down about 2-3 feet after we cut into and level that part of the hill, so we should still be able to see a good part of the valley.

It was different to come home today and see the trees down. It really opens up our back yard, even though it looks strange. We now have a ton of work cutting up those big trees (which all had heart rot is some stage). We should have a good amount of firewood for a couple of years. Now just to get the outdoor wood stove next year.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Out Building

I came home from work yesterday to find that Scott had started taking down the out building. This has been a dirty and gross project. We did find some fun things behind the old dog house that had been build in the building. On the shelves there was a box of white tiles which are still in good shape and some left over plaster casts of stone that we think were from behind our gas wood stove in our living room. The rest of the things we found were mice and the remnants of their homes. YUCK! So far Scott has the front wall and the roof off and the interior stuff torn out. We are going to try and save some of the 2x4's for other projects.

We used the winch on the 4wheeler to pull out some of the small trees and brush around the building for better access. Worked pretty well. Adin was my helper for the winch controls. The back yard is looking so much better already.

Tomorrow we are going to have a tree service come in and take down a few trees that are close to the house and garage so we don't have to worry about them falling on the buildings. Then Scott and I will cut up the trees and move the wood. Once that is all done we are going to grind up the stumps and keep working on the landscaping and my prep of my Lily bed. I'm so excited to get that Lily bed worked up and moved when it gets a bit warmer so they are out of the way for the Vegetable Garden installation.

After lunch I'm going to head out and try and get a couple more gate posts that are cemented in the ground dug up. That is if the weather stays dry.