Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How We Got Here

That is, How We Got Here - to the place that was pretty near the bottom of the list of places we thought we might want to be.

When we finally got to the place in our lives where buying an acreage in the country was a real option for us, we were really excited about it. I grew up on a little farm and was soooo ready to get back to that lifestyle. My husband grew up in the city but he's a country boy at heart and was more than ready to start the homesteading adventure. So, we started talking about what we wanted. We had already gone from city to small town and really liked our town, so we knew if we were going to leave it, it had to be for the place that really felt just exactly right for our family. Once we had the (long) list of all the things we wanted in the house, land, outbuildings, and surrounding towns we started searching real estate. One thing that was NOT on our list of specifications was the area of the country we wanted to live in. We were open to anything in that regard. So, we found properties we liked online and started traveling.

We saw some truly amazing places and made some wonderful memories for our family.

But each time we thought "maybe this is it", there always ended up being something that just wasn't quite right for us. Finally, after about a year and a half of searching in multiple states we thought we had figured out where we wanted to be. In fact, we felt pretty sure. We had already been there a few times, spent a good amount of time there on those visits, and done lots of research. We found a couple houses that looked pretty good in the area, had our realtor check them out for us, and hit the road again to meet with our realtor and see them in person. We went on this trip full of confidence and ready to put in an offer.

These were great houses in a really nice place. They had a bit of land and were in our price range.  Brand new houses and wide open spaces.
It was lovely.

I really love old houses. I find something warm and comforting in a house many generations have lived in. And I really like trees. Big, deciduous, ones that have been living with all those generations of people for all those years. There was nothing wrong with these properties we were looking at, but my heart just wasn't in it. I didn't want to say anything to my husband because I still thought it was his dream place and I wasn't going to ruin that for him. If it was what he wanted then I wanted it for him. Little did I know he was thinking the same thing. Then one evening in our hotel room he very hesitantly said " you want to go home...maybe?" I did. I really did. We threw our stuff in the car and left the next morning.

When we got back we were feeling kind of low. We had felt so sure that this was going to be it and it felt like a dream was ending. We talked about it a lot and decided that we would keep our options open, but kind of put the search on the back burner. So, life went on. 

Then my husband was looking at random places online one evening (because even though we had mostly given up...well...dreams die hard) and found an acreage for sale. An hour and a half from where we lived. Seven miles from where my Dad grew up and where some of the family still live. The house was an old 1890 farmhouse. With lots of big trees. And more land than anything else we had looked at.

I didn't get excited this time but agreed to go up and at least drive by the place. Then we drove to the house and I realized it was in a location I loved. Far enough "out", but close enough to a small town and a few neighbors to not be totally isolated. We called our  realtor and took a closer look. And immediately fell in love. Hubby and I were walking through one of the barns and we looked at each other and said "This is it". My Dad was with us (my folk's acreage was getting to be too much for them to take care of and they were wanting to move with us)  and when he walked in the door of the house he said "This feels like home". Yep, it was home. An hour and a half away after we had traveled halfway across the country looking for it.

And that is How We Got Here.

God's plans are so much better than our own!

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Easiest Lasagna Ever

Last night was one of those times when dinner plans didn't cross my mind before 4 PM and then I was still in the middle of about five other things and trying to figure out what i was going to feed everyone. So, I turned to the Easiest Lasagna Ever. It's quick to put together and delicious, so it fit the bill. Give it a try on one of these busy evenings!

I'm cooking for 6, so you may need to adjust amounts if your family is smaller (or bigger!)

2 lbs ground beef
1 carton cottage cheese
4 cups shredded mozzarella
oven ready lasagna noodles
2 jars pasta sauce 

Cook beef and mix with 1 jar of pasta sauce and add in any spices you like, we like garlic powder and an Italian spice blend. In a bowl mix cottage cheese and mozzarella. Spread some of the meat sauce over the bottom of a large casserole dish. Layer noodles, about half of the cheese, and then some of the meat sauce. Repeat layers. When you've used up all of the cheese and meat sauce, pour the 2nd jar of pasta sauce over the top and especially around the edges. Cover and bake at 350 for 45 minutes then uncover and bake another 30 minutes. And dinner is done. Easy.
And then maybe go for a nice long walk...I'm pretty sure there were a LOT of calories in that  meal! Someday I plan to be one of those people people with great meal plans every week. I'm working on it! ;)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Weekend In Pictures

Once again, a busy weekend that went way too fast! It was really nice outside for almost November. 
We got our generators running good and then moved a concrete slab to where our main electrical box is and moved one of the generators to it's permanent place (for the winter anyway) there. The other generator we are getting all ready to run too, but it will just be a backup that we probably won't need to hook up unless something happens to this one.
We also had to go get some more stuff from the garage at our other house, including my old saddle. Now all we need is the horse! The list of animals we'd like to have is long and I'm not sure how high the priority is on a horse but maybe in the next year or two.
We've been using these old dog houses that were here when we moved in but we're thinking we want to build something better for our pup so we hunted down some good wood we had leftover from another project and added Build Dog House to the things-to-do list.
I wondered over and looked sadly at the asparagus patch that we moved in too late in the year to take advantage of this year. I LOVE fresh asparagus. Oh well, next year...sigh.
We were ready for a short break by this afternoon.
So we watched the chickens running around (this is the one we kept in our backyard at our old house-really not sure we were supposed to have chickens in town, but anyway...)
And enjoyed this beautiful Fall afternoon.
 Only four more days til Halloween, so this week we'll be carving pumpkins, saving the seeds for next year (well, except for the ones we roast...maybe we better get more pumpkins...), joining in a few Halloween festivities around town, and of course trick-or-treating. 
Have a beautiful week!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Lessons from the OLD homestead

This little farm isn't the first one I've lived on. I grew up on little homestead with my parents, a bunch of foster kids, and an array of animals.
It was the best childhood I could've ever imagined. Not that I always loved every aspect. For awhile I wished we lived on a concrete street like my friends at school did, so that my shoes weren't always muddy, and I had a few years of hating chickens because I hated the smell and sliminess of butchering them. I can't remember ever complaining about having something to eat for dinner though. But in spite of those things, it was an amazing way to grow up and definitely played a big part in wanting to get my own kids out where they can have some of the same experiences. This weekend we went back to the old farm to spend a little time because it may be selling soon and we wanted to revisit one more time. Here are a few warnings about this post: it's going to be very picture-heavy, it may get a little long, and it's not always pretty. The farm has been in my (often poor) family for three generations, it's definitely got that "lived-in look" to say the least!).

10 lessons from the Old Homestead

1. There's something about coming in the road to home that can take the weight of the world off your shoulders. The knowledge that there are people at end of that road that will always be happy to see you and ready to make you a cup of tea is a very comforting thing.

2. That a swing outside is a perfect place for a baby to nap, 

and a perfect place for child to spend countless hours, 

and when you get a little older and need a place just to sit and think and try to figure out life... just need a bigger swing.

3. That a marriage that started with a 2 month honeymoon spent in the freezing cold mountains, in the snow, in this truck topper can last 50 years.

4. That sneaking in at 3 AM doesn't work well when your parents have hung a multitude of bells on the door.

5. That the saying that "firewood warms you twice" is not true. It warms you at least four times. When you cut it, split it, haul it, and burn it. 

6. That bats will take care of a mosquito problem, chemical free!

7. That good, cold well water tastes amazing. And it won't kill you to drink out of the same old Enamel Ware cup as all your other family members. The one that hangs out by the hydrant on a fence post all year round. That has probably never been washed.

8. That a barn is a multipurpose building. It's where you learn to milk a cow, saddle a horse, catch a chicken and raise some more, build pretty much anything, and sometimes just hide from the world.

9. That time goes by faster than you think, and you are always changing and growing in one way or another.

10. And someday, muddy shoes might just make you happy.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Getting ready for Winter

We got our first frost of the season this past weekend!

I don't usually look forward to Winter too much, but this year is different. No 40 mile commute on ice (with kids in the car!) gives me a whole different outlook! I am definitely looking forward to seeing our new place with snow for the first time! But, we also have a lot to do to get ready for the cold and snow, and to be prepared for the blizzards that we know we can expect to start in the next couple of months. After the 35 inches of snow those folks in Western South Dakota got a couple of weeks ago we know it's time to start getting ready! 

Here are a few of the things we are working on to hopefully be prepared, some of them are specific to where we live and being on a farm or in a rural area, some are a good idea for anyone, and things we did years ago, even when we lived in the city:

-Making sure our generators are in good working order and that we have plenty of gas to keep them running for awhile. One thing we liked about this place was that it is already set up so that we can plug our generator into a central location and run anything we need on the whole farm.

-One thing we don't like: our house doesn't have a wood-burning heat source yet. Unfortunately, since we got moved in kind of late in the year we didn't get one put in yet so this year we will have to use the oil-burning furnace. The oil is very expensive, so we are planning to keep the thermostat set  low and are using Edenpure electric heaters to  keep it warmer. These are nice heaters because there are no hot places on them to worry about with the kids, and they heat a large area really well. By next Winter we hope to have our wood heat in, but this year we need to do some weatherstripping of doors and windows to try to save on the heating  bills.

-Stocking up our pantry. Since once bad weather hits I won't be making too many trips to the store, we are getting the pantry filled up and making sure we have the stuff we may need/want between shopping trips. We do have a really small grocery store in our little town, which is not too far away, but prices are very high, so we'll only go there when we really have to. In addition to food that keeps for a long time and water, we also are making sure to have batteries, candles, matches, paper products, and any medications anyone in the house needs.

-Making sure the animal's heated water bowls are working so that we don't have to go break up ice out in the cold. 

-.Getting heat lamps ready for the chickens.

-Making sure we have plenty of gas and oil for the chainsaws. We've had to cut up branches and trees in order to get out of our road quite a few times before, and with where we are now, we could easily have to do that on our own road as well as the County Road we have to take to get into town.

There are so many more things to get done, but it's a start! 

It's a beautiful, sunny, 56 degrees out today, but i know when we wake up to snow I'll be glad I got us ready early!

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Doll bed "after"

With these chilly and rainy days we've had lately I finished up the doll bed we are giving Farm Girl for Christmas. I had found a not-in-great-shape doll bed in my parents old barn.

                                           Remember this from a couple posts back?

After a few small repairs and some paint, I got to work on the bedding. My super-quilter Aunt had sent me a bag of scrap fabric she had a while back and between that and a couple remnants I had picked up I had enough fabric to make a "mattress",

quilt (there are so many gorgeous quilt patterns but I always love a nine-patch), 
                                                    blanket, and three pillows.
                           It all came together pretty well, and I think she will really like it.

Please just ignore my ugly green carpet in these photos. In hindsight, I should've taken them in any other room where we have really nice oak floors instead of the one room with carpet!

There's that old adage about gift-giving "something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read" . I can't say we'll stick to that 100%, but I would like to come close. I always really liked that idea, it's so simple and would free up more time and money for the important stuff at Christmas. 

Well, now that I've spent all this time on Christmas talk, I think I'll go outside and enjoy this 70 degree October day!

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

A walk around the farm

Farm Girl and I took a walk today through the back part of our property.We actually bought this place without even seeing that part of the property, so until a couple weeks ago we had never seen quite a few acres of our own property! We knew that our creek comes from back there and we could see some cattails from one of the pastures so we thought that it was probably a small swampy area. But then the person we bought it from told us that they used to keep some of their horses back there, so we realized we must have more and better land back there than we realized. So, we mowed a path and went to check it out.

It's really overgrown, but it's a great area! It would be perfect for either horses or cows with lots of space, the creek running through, and a shelter for the animals. 

Here's a run down of the rest of our walk today:

                  This is part of that area I was talking about...LOTS of mowing to be done!

                                                    Our guineas following us around.

                                             The most tame geese I've ever had.

                                                         One of the shelters.

The creek, looking from the North pasture to the back part of the property.

Storm clouds coming in over one of the barns.

The kid's rabbits. I though our Golden Retriever shed a lot until we got these guys!

A little Fall foliage.

These days my "commute" is out to this balcony with my tea. 

Stable and corral

The front yard, can you see our peacocks?

I really love the geese.

One of the roosts in the chicken house.

Hopefully next year the area inside this fence will be our garden spot.

I'll have my work cut out for me to get it ready, look at those HUGE weeds!

And to finish up, a little Halloween decorating with a plastic pumpkin until we get our real ones!

It was a perfect day for a walk, and now a nice rainy night for sleeping!

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