Thursday, December 22, 2011


Steven has spent considerable effort this year trying to get all our outbuildings restored and into shape to last another 50 or more years. He did a great job on the garage earlier, and all this fall, he concentrated on the Washhouse.

Of course, we no longer use the wash-house for washing (as it was originally designed back before the farm had indoor plumbing -- people did their bathing and clothes washing in the washhouse. It had a hand pump inside, and a wood stove for heating water, etc.) Now these days we use it as a tool shed, and we have an overflowing amount of tools in it. However, some wood lapboards around the base needed replaced, some structural work done, and then a good tightening up of the whole thing. We had the roof replaced a year or so ago.

Steven took one side at a time. Scraped, repair, foamed cracks, caulked. On each old window, he carefully removed the glass from the window panes so it could be cleaned, then he cleaned and sanded the window frames and primed them while the glass was out.

cleaning the window frame to prepare to put the glass panes back in

laying down the bead of glazing for the pane.

my job was to place the glass and put in the points to hold it before he put the top layer of glazing over the points.

West side is done, starting on south side, and the process begins again...

brother David came out to lend a hand with the primer coat (each areas took two coats of paint)

KIDS - don't try this at home! Steven has excellent balance, but it still made me nervous that he was standing on top of the ladder painting around live power lines...

almost done at this point. It was totally finished shortly thereafter. Steven even painted the hardware on the door (black). I guess I didn't get a photo after it was all complete.

[EDIT - I decided to take and post a better photo of the finished shed]

This was all back in November. We also attempted to do some tilling of the garden to ready it for the winter-over. However, it was so terribly dry at this point:

Only got a little of it done before the tiller had a tire problem.

December has been better -- finally some moisture in the way of rain. We could still use more, but feel blessed for what we have received. Some neighbors helped us out on getting enough hay for the goats to make it through the winter. Now it is just "sit tight and wait until spring" mode on the farm.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Three months later....

Okay, so it has been nearly three months since I blogged. I guess I'm not a very avid blogger. Plus, it has been a hard summer, and there isn't much "good news" to blog about when everything is drying up and withering away. We are hoping for a better 'next year'. I only like to share good news, when I can.

So now we are into autumn and getting ready for oncoming winter.

Last week, there were a couple of nights that were in the 'frost' and 'freeze' categories of nighttime temperatures. We still have tomatoes and peppers in the garden, and they were just beginning to start to produce (after the dry hot weather that kept the blossoms from being fertile most of the growing season). So we want to leave them out in the garden as long as possible, just in hopes to get the fruit to ripen enough for the seeds to be viable for seed-saving to plant next year.

So on the cold nights, we wrap the tomatoes up tight in blankets. (My son said my wrapping job makes them all look like "Bubushkas").

For the peppers, we got creative and put together a tarp that is made entirely of old feed sacks stapled together :) We put this over the green pepper bed, and set a drop light down inside to create enough warmth to get them through.

Now, these green pepper plants will be dug up and put into pots and brought inside, just as he did last year. We got some great large pots off Craig's List, and we will put them in the bay window of the dining room for the winter. They will continue as a perennials if you don't allow them to freeze.

One thing that did well in Steven's garden this year (with lots of added water) and that hasn't yet been affected by the freeze is his peanut crop. It really flourished. Should be quite a crop.

As for the tomatoes -- the variety "OSU Blue" is turning out quite interesting. It is a very dark color (these are small since they didn't get much time to grow and develop)

And here are just some other photos from around the place:

Ummm. yummy tomatoes - just didn't get very many this year.

Fine looking cattle -- that the McCurry Brothers keep in our pasture. 

Our fishing ponds have lost a lot of water. I think the herons are having a feast on fish in the shallow waters.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Silver Lining

A silver lining in not having homeowners insurance (due to the age/condition, etc. of our house) - is that after a major event like that June hailstorm, we have the 'luxury' of getting our damage fixed quickly and efficiently -- unlike our neighbors who still have plywood on their windows, waiting for insurance adjusters or waiting for the back-logged contractors to get around to getting their insurance-paid repairs done.

Sure it was a setback some financially, but at least we could handle it on our own quickly (with the help of good friends too). Got the windows taken into a repair shop immediately. Then Steven and our family friend Mickey (who is an expert carpenter) began needed repairs on the window frames (some of which has been needed for years) so that when the new glass was ready, everything would be ship-shape.

I was very pleased with Steven's work on this. He didn't want to do half-measures, but totally got rid of any dry-rotted wood or problem areas and got it replaced right, then primed and painted so these particular areas hopefully won't have to be addressed again for a long time.

For the bathroom window (above), that included complete rebuilding the lower sill, and also having to take off some wood siding under the window and do repairs under the sill area, before the whole thing could be rebuilt. The header at the top also needed new wood; and then he primed and painted all of the windows frame and pieces, so they are sealed tight.

On my bedroom window (below), Mickey helped show Steven how to make a completely new "header" at the top -- matching the old decorative header that was there (which is common on this age of house). The old one was in pretty bad shape, so they got trim molding and used the mitre saw to cut everything at just the proper angles to replicate the antique style it has always had. It looks extremely good.

The windows were then ready for the repaired storm windows that went over them externally. We were back in business and good to go by the end of June, while our neighbors still deal with insurance. But then again, we have a higher need for working windows, since they are our primary means of cooling and ventilation during these summer months.

Now, we just need to get around to painting the rest of the house. But this is a good example of why that project is taking so long -- we don't just need to paint; but we need to also repair, refurbish, restore before we ever get the paintbrush in hand. It takes time and patience.

We have been thankful for this week's break from the unseasonably hot weather, and for the small amounts of rain we have received. Over 30 days of over 100 degrees was beginning to weaken our pioneer spirit a bit. :) Nice to be back to normal.

* * *
(oh! and I just got a brand new front screen door too - finally! The dogs tore up the old one a couple years ago - we've needed a new one since, that could handle the dogs, but have enough screen area to allow good air flow. Finally found what we needed, and brought it home, sanded it, primed, painted and hung. That east breeze is heavenly!)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


And that's about all I have to say about that.

Unbearable heat that has no end in sight (forecast out 10 days future still shows all over-100 days). No rain (at the farm, we didn't even get that '.33' inch they list there above). All we are doing is watering, watering, watering to keep things alive as best we can. Have lost two chickens to the heat. Garden is burning up.

It does remind me of 1980. However, that year, I had spoiled myself by having moved away from the farm, and happened to be living and working where there was air conditioning. As most of you know, we have no type of air conditioning at home (and don't want it, most of the time). We have box fans in the windows; we depend on shade and a breeze, which we don't always get. We are used to toughing out a few extreme heat days each summer, but this year has been unbelievable just in the number of days with no break in the heat. Truly living like the pioneers now -- except we are very grateful for running water.

Friday, June 17, 2011

June 9th Hail Storm at the Farm

Well, the photos kind of tell the whole story. These hail stones were collected by Steven awhile after they had started melting. He said some were easily as big as baseballs when they came down. Hail & high wind.

This was actually a plexiglass sheet on our back North porch door

My bedroom window, inside and out. Destroyed all layers of glass - 2 levels of storm window and casement window. Glass all over my room and bed. Embedded hail and glass in opposite wall, in both my room and the bathroom. Pretty much the entire north side of our house was hit very hard. The hail came from the north and east.

Steven's greenhouse was not spared. I don't think there is a single panel without some damage. Some of the hail stones went through the roof with such velocity that they smashed stuff down inside the greenhouse.

And then, there's the garden:


Holes everywhere in the soft dirt from where the hail stones hit

Tomato plants (surprisingly, many of these have recovered)

We had lots of tree limbs down - this was in the driveway

And across the front lawn
It was probably almost an hour after the storm that Steven and I went out to check the rain gauge, to find it broken on the ground. And the offending hail stone still next to it.

One of many, many places hit on our roof.

This is not our corn. This is my neighbor's field (one of the benefits to us only owning pasture ground). All the corn fields in the area were not a pretty site. The fields where wheat wasn't yet cut looked not too happy either.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


We are in the bulls eye tonight for severe storms forecasted (like high probability of tornadoes and damaging hail!) So bad is the forecast, that even the two local colleges cancelled all night classes as we eye the radar of massive storms coming up from northern Oklahoma. Keep us in your prayers. It would be painful to have years of work wiped away in a storm; as so many others have already experienced this year.

But we also need rain so badly. We got 1/4 inch one day last week, 1/4 inch another day, and about 6/10ths the third day. Not enough to help our parched ground after months of drought.

Thought I would throw a few recent photos up here real fast, to share, and for posterity in case we're blown away... (HA)

We still have quite a few "babies" around the farm.

Most recently, our new friend Donna Inkelaar hatched for us (with her incubators) these fine young chicks for Steven's breeding project.

(this was taken about a day after we brought them home. They are larger now, and spending most of their time in the outside enclosed pen)

Also, teacher-mom-lady Marie hatched out several duck eggs for us, but also using them as a teaching tool for her own young children and the kids she cares for. I think this was an awesome idea. They are growing fast:

Not long ago, one of our hen ducks hatched out an entire nest of eggs she had been broody over. We have no idea how many eggs were under her, because some of the other ducks kept laying in that nest for several days before she started brooding. So we were amazed when she hatched out 22 ducklings! That is a lot for any momma duck!

Our goslings are getter bigger each day. Almost as tall as their parents, but not yet feathering in...

and the chicks we got from our neighbors, the McCurrys, have turned out to be an interesting assortment. These pullets have feathered in nicely and are quite pretty:

Last but not least, a lot of our time is spent in the garden. Steven has really worked hard on it this year, and has a lot to show for his time. But it needs rain. Very badly. Praying for rain tonight, but without the hail and damaging wind.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Spring Story with Photos!

What a busy spring this has been!

Like many fellow bloggers and homesteaders, our place is overflowing with babies this time of year. Baby geese, baby chicks, baby ducks, baby pigeons, baby goats... and now even a puppy!

Puppy and Lilly

We picked up our new puppy last weekend from a local family. He is half Great Pyrenees and half Akbash. We are hoping he and our current Anatolian Shepherd/Pyr mix, Lilly, will make a fine pair. We haven't firmly decided on a name for him, but are leaning toward Titus or Titan. As you know, we previously have had a hard time getting Lilly to accept another dog on the place -- she is ferciously protective! But by introducing a puppy, she seems to not see it as a threat, and it is great companionship for her, too!

baby goslings with their parents

It is still so very very dry. *sadness* That has not change in the month since I last posted. We have not had an measurable precipitation since the snows in February. Steven is having to water the garden every day. He has everything planted, including yesterday setting out about 40 tomato plants!

Because of the lack of rain, we are taking the goats out to graze each evening for an hour or two -- just shepherding them and allowing them to roam to where they can find what they want, but keeping them off the road and away from harm.

The adult goats prefer the tree leaves anyway, so as we take them to the big pasture, they go for the new leaves on the mulberry and hedge trees.

While the young'uns prefer to just play 'climb the mountain' on all massive the old tree stumps. They are sure fun to watch. The kids are getting old enough to do quite a bit of browsing, too; yet go back for momma's milk now and then.

I love standing out with the goats in the evening light this time of year - it is so peaceful and nice. Looking at the huge old hedge trees that have been here a century....

The goats know the routine so well now, that as the sunset drops to the horizon, they mosey back toward the gate and are no trouble to put away for the night.

And I will leave you with one more pic. Our iris garden is in full bloom -- lots of different colors and styles and sizes. But this one has always been my favorite. It is called Dotted Swiss.

(as always, you can click on any of these photos in order to see a larger version)