Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Update and Holiday Greetings

As always, lots of changes here. I started a new (full-time) job at the Iowa Veterans Home as their PR/Marketing Director and Legislative Liaison two weeks ago. It is a wonderful opportunity to be an integral part of the third largest veterans home in the country. I absolutely love it and look forward to all the exciting challenges this position will provide.

DD has succeeded in achieving "toothless" status. Here she is in her "jack-o-lantern" phase:She lost three teeth within one week. The poor tooth fairy is going to have to get in hock soon if this keeps up. The toothless wonder still eats almost anything and thinks that "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth" was written especially for her. Her elementary music concert was Monday night and OH WHAT A RIOT! The high school gymnasium was PACKED!

DH is supposed to be on winter break, but the college still has him working . . . on a roof . . . chipping ice . . . the less I know, the better off I am.

The chicks are officially part of the flock. They are now integrated into the rest of the chickens. They can't quite figure out the whole "roosting thing." They were still huddled up in a corner when I last checked on them. I'm pretty sure they're not all Rhode Island Reds as I had been told (some pretty cool looking ones, though). I got 18 eggs today. I keep a big cooler full of egg cartons (filled, of course) in the back of my car . . . they've become like "zuchini" around here - - I can't even GIVE them away!
DH is putting me to shame around here with all the wonderful things he bakes up. Last weekend he made a wonderful crumb-top apple pie (perfection) and this weekend he made a bunch of small banana bread loaves. We've had the bread with dinner every night this week. My cooking creativity has gone south lately. Maybe I'll get motivated after the holidays...then again...

I wish you a very merry Christmas and a blessed new year.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Holiday Spirit

Sending some happy holiday spirit your way. Yesterday, I worked at the church in the morning and DD and DH got the Christmas decorations down from the attic and set up the big tree. When I got home, we decorated the house and the tree. In the middle of everything DD decides to go pull her own tooth (with a wash cloth)! What a brave kid! Her two top front teeth are very loose and I'm sure we'll soon be hearing "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth!" Now I need to try to find that song to put on the blog...
DH put some pizza dough in the bread maker and we had homemade pizza for supper. My neighbor friend came over and we all watched "A Christmas Story" and "Holiday Inn". What a great way to start the holiday season! DD even made her own pizza (she doesn't look too happy about it, but she was thrilled).
Well, the chickens are laying 7-10 eggs a day now. Way more than I know what to do with, so I guess I'm back in the egg business. We've had a raccoon that has been sneaking into the chicken house if I forget to close the little door at night. The other night when I went to tuck Gary into bed, the 'coon had tipped over the cat food and all I could see was his tail sticking out of the bin. I ran back to the house (with Gary still in my arms, of course) to get the .22. By the time I got it loaded and back out there, the 'coon was gone. Then last night about 1:30, Gary was crowing; then the other rooster was crowing. I totally blew it off thinking I was either dreaming or the chickens had gone crazy. But this morning, the cat food bin was tipped over again. The chickens were probably scared and crowing in distress... (duh farmgirl). So, I guess a trap is in order. He doesn't bother the chickens, but I really don't want a 'coon roaming around.

DH is in town today as part of an ARK Crew we have at church. Have you seen "Evan Almighty"? In that movie, ARK stands for "Acts of Random Kindness". We sent away for a kit that helps get you started identifying needs in y0ur church and community and acting on those needs. Today, our church's ARK Crew is at the home of a congregation member who recently moved back into the community. They've moved to a different home and then her husband got shipped off to Iraq and she took a new job. With a couple teenagers and all the changes, they haven't even had time to unpack. So the crew is there helping her get organized and decorated for the holidays. What a blessing to be able to do this for the family.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Sure glad this is a chicken farm...

These guys are especially happy that today, most Americans are eating turkey.

You can probably see that we got a little snow yesterday. It was a little white knuckle driving around noon yesterday, but by late afternoon, most of the local roads had cleared off. Today, we received some big beautiful white flakes (you'd have thought it was Christmas).

As usual, we had a bountiful dinner at MIL K's with 26 of our nearest & dearest. Lots of fun to watch the cousins play...
DD dressed as a "Pioneer Pilgrim" (same as her Halloween costume) and read a Thanksgiving poem...

and DH cut the bird...
and then we all sat around and gabbed.
Does anyone have any experience with a "house trap" in their septic system? We just discovered that we have one and it is causing a few issues now that we've installed a water-saving toilet in the upstairs bathroom. Ideas?

Also, for the record, the kitten that I mentioned in the last post is doing just fine. It wasn't even our kitten to begin with, but I shared all your wonderful and thoughtful advice with the kitten's caretakers and they're happy to report that "Patches" is doing great.
Now that DD is in first grade, she brings home assignments every night. She loves to read and enjoys math, so getting her to do this is not as challenging as I expected.

I'm also trying to involve her in the kitchen more. DH lets her cut things with a knife (under close supervision, of course), but I'm not that brave. On this particular evening, we made meatloaf and had extra hamburger, so she helped make hamburger patties for the next night. She's growing up way too fast!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


The new chickens are finally laying eggs! I was getting one a day for a few days and then yesterday and today...three! Hallelujah!

It's much colder here today (in the 30's), so everyone's bundled up. The scarecrow's lap seems to be the preferred spot. I wouldn't be surprised to see "Gary" curled up there later with the cats. C'est la vie!
I got this picture of a cat the other day when I was on a photo shoot...couldn't resist! The picture I didn't take, however, is the one of DD crying inconsolably over a tiny kitten whose eyes are all "gooped up" and probably won't make it through the winter. Life and death lived out daily around the farm; tough, but important, lessons.
I was reading Reluctant Entertainer's blog this morning and it felt so timely and God-inspired. Just last night, I read Romans 12 and this idea has been on my heart lately. Especially as we enter the holiday season and a time for thanksgiving, this chapter helps to put me into the right frame of mind. I hope you will take joy in this, also.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Happy Fall, Y'all

Ok, so it's been a while. DH received a voicemail from his friend down south and prompted me to get back to bloggin'. Just haven't been up to sharing a lot that's going on here. Starting to come out of this mental fog that I've been in, thanks to the help of my DH, DD, some very good friends...and lots of prayer.

So glad that the garden is done for this year. The peppers were outrageously hot, the tomatoes outrageously unproductive, the corn was layed flat by the high winds. It was pretty much a crop failure all the way around except for the green beans - - I finally just let them go (after I put 20 1-gallon bags of them in the freezer). Then, last week I noticed that they had re-seeded themselves and a new crop was growing (until the frost killed them off Tuesday night).

The port on my camera went bad a few months ago, and I just figured out how to go "around" that issue, so I can finally bring you some photos. I don't have a lot of photos of the family to share, but I can show you the girls (and a couple roosters):

I have no idea what breed most of these chickens are (they're just "perty"), but I believe this one is called a turken (or "Larry" as we like to call it):

This speckled one is the friendliest:

At dusk, they all head to the coop, except for a brave few who still roost in the pine trees behind the coop.And this is poor "Gary" - - I think he's a mix-up with that extra batch of broiler chicks we got. I don't have the heart to cook him for dinner, but he sure is a pain. He's just learning how to crow in this muffled, heart-sick way. He likes to sleep in this rocker at night and I have to carry him into the chicken house to train him where to go, but he always sneaks back to this spot. So, I put the scare-"chicken" in the rocker to deter this bad habit...he crowed at it for half an hour, but the silly thing wasn't scared....

If you can't beat 'em . . . join 'em:

And these little guys are new - - yes, more chickens. Some people inherit jewelry or money; I inherit chickens. My uncle Wade passed away a few weeks ago shortly after he hatched these RIR's and his sister asked me if I would take them, so here they are:

I'm still taking some family photos - - this one is my good friend and neighbor:

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Still here

Sorry for the long lapse in blog posts. Still coping and trying to see through this fog we're in. Had no idea we would be affected this deeply and profoundly by this sudden chain of events. I have felt the power of your prayers many times and am truly grateful.

Just to catch up a bit, we took a few days and went to Dubuque, Galena, and Decorah with my sweet MIL, K. We loved the Dubuque Arboretum:Galena exceeded my wildest expectations - - like a town trapped in a time warp. Absolutely gorgeous turn-of-the-century building immaculately preserved with charming shops, restaurants and B&B's. In Decorah, we visited Seed Savers Exchange and the Dairy Institute, where DD fell in love with a Jersey heifer calf she called "Butterscotch." I tried to convince DH that we could fit "Butterscotch" in the back of my MIL's mini-van, but he just didn't buy it.
Then, my Aunt S was up from Alabama to visit for a week, and we brought lots of local food to the table to tempt her southern-fried taste buds. Ribs and brats from neighbor D and ribs from Kelli at Sugar Creek, sweet corn, and salsa. Had a nice time visiting with her and her son, Alex (such a nice person for a 14 year old kid!).
Aunt S, G'ma G, Aunt L, & my mom:
Mom & me
DD has had to hang out with me at church as I put in extra hours in the absence of a pastor. We are still in the middle of the big remodel - - hopefully, the last of the flooring will be put down in the next week or two. A little tidying up, hanging curtains and pictures, and we'll be ready for Sunday School to start on September 9th.

DD and I did our annual trip to the Iowa State Fair on Thursday (the fair just isn't DH's "thing"). It rained in the morning, so we tried to make it a dual purpose trip by sneaking in some school shopping. By 11:30, the rain subsided and we headed to the fair grounds for a day of non-stop walking, eating, gawking, laughing, and ooh-ing & aah-ing.

DD starts school this coming Wednesday, and I'm wondering (as many other parents surely are) "where did the summer go?" I'm not ready for her to be in first grade and ride the bus and have homework.

Reading a very charming and humorous book titled "The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio - - How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less." It's a true story of a woman who "contested" her way through the 1950's and 60's, written by the woman's daughter. What a lovely reminiscence. I laughed out loud for the first time in a very long time.

Speaking of domestic duties, I have absolutely no interest in canning this year. I've put up nearly 20 one-gallon bags of beans, peas & corn and I think I'm about done. The tomatoes have just begun to turn red and I'm already sick of them. Anyone else get that way? Hopefully, it's just a passing snit, but for now "thou dost protest!"

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Moments of Grace

My DD sits on my lap, curled up early in the morning. Her head nestles perfectly into the crook of my neck, warm and soft. She talks about her stuffed animal friends and riding her bike and everything good. These small moments have helped me cope, day by day. Little blessings, benevolent friends, praying on the promises of God, and good music (thanks to the O'Melays site, I found the tool at the bottom of this blog).

Monday, July 23, 2007


I've been holding off on writing about this for a few days, but I need to get it out to my friends in the blog-o-sphere. My new boss/pastor died very unexpectedly last Thursday. Our congregation is shocked, wracked with questions, and uncertain of the future. Throughout this tragedy, however, we have been blessed with prayers, concerns, offers of help from local pastors & congregations, and the steadfast comfort of the Holy Spirit. Please pray for us as we grieve and please pray for our pastor's family (wife Grace and children Joy and Joseph). Thank you.

Another blessing in all of this is hospitality. Pastor's wife, children, and family all live out of state and do not speak fluent English. Our church's leadership and congregation has worked very hard to accommodate and comfort them in every possible way. In addition, our church is in the middle of an extensive rehab project with rooms half-painted, no furniture, old carpet, etc. Knowing that we couldn't pull these rooms together in time for the visitation and funeral, we have had to be "creative" in seeking ways to make these rooms as hospitable as possible. Fortunately, many in the congregation have brought in many flowers from their gardens, we prepared the tables to serve the family dinners with fine linens and REAL place settings (not paper plates). I know this seems a trifle amidst all the other things, but I hope that the family feels our love for them through these small touches.

"It is only when I share life’s experiences with others that I can enjoy them or endure them to the greatest advantage. You see, having a relationship calls for being in fellowship with others, and that cannot be done very easily at arm’s length. It implies getting in touch, feeling the hurts, being an instrument of encouragement and healing. Fences must come down. Masks need to come off. Welcome signs need to be hung outside the door. Keys to the locks in our lives must be duplicated and distributed. Bridges need to be lowered that allow others to cross the moat and then share our joys and our sorrows." ~ Dropping Your Guard by Chuck Swindoll

Reach out to someone today.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

She rides, she rides

In the spirit of Ricky Martin, this is what we were singing last night when DD succeeded at riding on TWO WHEELS. Yes, the training wheels are still attached, but you can see how "useful" they are. Me thinks they'll be coming off tonight.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

It's another hot one

It's so hot & dry here. The last rain we had was June 22nd. Needless to say, we're doing everything we can to stay cool. DH and DD help me water the flowers and veggies, but the grass is nearly burned out. We keep the chicks in a "tractor" beneath a big tree and just keep moving it around every other day. That way, their "poo" doesn't burn out the grass and they have fresh ground to find bugs and other tasty morsels.
On to the garden report: We're getting lots of beans, peas, and broccoli. I was able to harvest a few decent carrots, but they were mostly woody and bitter. The turnips have been good, but I'm the only one who likes them. We have lots of potatoes and onions still in the ground. The black seeded simpson lettuce is done/bolted, but I have one Sierra lettuce plant that is wonderful. One row of sweet corn is nearly ready and five more rows are nearly as tall. The rhubarb I transplanted is coming up great, but the new strawberries have stalled.
DD mustered up the courage to sleep out on the front porch (all by herself!) for a couple nights. I slept on the sofa right inside the door just to make sure she was okay; she slept until about 3 am each night and woke up disoriented, so I'd carry her up to bed. So cool. Yes, she's reading Charlotte's Web and loving it - - just about done. She saw the cartoon version a couple times, but hasn't seen the new live action movie yet. Next, she wants to start on Laura Ingalls Wilder and maybe the Kirsten series of American Girl. She's just a reading fool!

Saturday, July 14, 2007


We went to see Alison Krauss tonight in Cedar Rapids. Amazing...this was their closing song. Enjoy.

Having some technical difficulties with the cord that connects my camera to the computer. Now having to go the "long way around" to get photos. Here's a couple just for fun.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Barn Quilts of Grundy County

A story that will appear on Farmers Almanac TV this Friday at 6:30 pm on Iowa Public TV. The barn quilt tour route passes right by our farm. Maybe we should put a quilt block on our new woodshop... "DH, I have another project for youuuuuuu...."

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Happy Sunday

Saturday morning, DH & DD and I helped at the Annual Dash & Splash 5k Run (organized by Nile & Glo). DH & DD drove the golf cart and I took photos. The winning time (and new course record) was 17:17! My goodness!
Took photos at a wedding reception last night (a paying gig!). Here's the happy couple and their beautiful niece:
Fellowship at church this morning, followed by a "youth only" service that DH helped organize (10 kids attended!). Nile & Glo and their kids & grandson (Adrian, 1.5 year old) came out to see the chicks, kittens, etc. Adrian was so cute to watch -- everything was a "duck".
We finally took the 26.8 pound turkey out of the freezer that we got from the neighbor. We had to hack off the wings in order to fit it into the biggest roasting pan we have. We cracked open a can of beer and stood it upright inside the turkey and put the lid on. So far, so good.
Dining al fresco this evening on the turkey wings (in a flavorful mesquite marinade), fresh new potatoes from the garden, radishes from the garden, and apple slices.
Despite sharing some of the turkey with all the cats, Leah was such a good kitty and got herself a little dessert:

Friday, June 08, 2007

Come sit a spell

This little spot on the front porch is my favorite place to relax, read, and watch the world go by. Vintage Chica might recognize the blue & green print fabric. I've had the red ship fabric for several years, but didn't want to cut into it. Finally decided to pull it out of the storage container and use it and enjoy it! The little side table was a freebie from the Goodwill truck (I painted it red). And the crochet blanket was a freebie that DH had and used as padding for moving furniture! Crazy patterns to mix together, but it sure brightens up the front porch.

Picture Post

Texture and blue
Leah is bored
Tucker and his new summer cut
Lacy and Goldie dine al fresco
Chicks in the brooderThe oddest chick of all (well make that second oddest to me). Any clue as to what kind of chicken this will be?