What have we been up to in the absentee days? Pretty much life as usual. Nothing really changes around here. We are creatures of habit and routine. Boring. Repetitive. I have been active on my Facebook page, but that doesn't allow for computer time very easily. I don't keep a computer set up here, and it's been too easy to grab the cellphone for quick Facebook check ins vs writing on the blog. The iPad is great, and we use it alot, but lately it's been far more in use with schooling than my own personal use, so no blog updates pass that way either. So, for at least the month of February, I will be cleaning away the cobwebs here on the blog (as well as the too-long-neglected Kitchen Blog, and the Schoolhouse Blog which I left hanging in the middle of our Little House on the Prairie read-along).
And of course the drama that occurs on Facebook adds to the reasons for taking a vacation to get back to the old school blogging I came from before 'social media' sucked me in, LOL!
So...let the nut-shell update begin:
- eldest son and his girlfriend and children came to visit over Thanksgiving. He and Dewey finished the remodel on the girls' room, installing the new window and rocking the walls. The children and I
fought overplayed with Ethan (3yo) and Jadyn (2mo). And I was called Grandma. At my age. Can you believe that? hush.
- eldest daughter moved up with Grandma and Great Great to help with household things. Not being 'spring chickens' anymore, they need some muscle for the heavy stuff...like winter snow shoveling.
- Dewey finished up the Indianapolis job and was able to spend a week home. A WEEK. That was huge for us here. We don't get "weeks" home around here, we get a day here, a couple days there.
- His next job was/has been down in Mobile, AL. We each took a few days and visited with him. Johanna went first, then Matthew and Abbey next. I took a mini vacation myself and headed down with the littles for 5 days. While there we drove all over (something the olders didn't do...neener neener neener...LOL). We went to Bass Pro and ate some Gator, KatieAnne did their gallery shoot and got a far better score than the 2 young men (18-20yo) decked out from head to toe in camo. Don't mess with a country girl, even if she is dressed in a long skirt and headcovering, LOL. We also toured the USS Alabama battleship. They had a blast there! Then we spent a day playing in the Bay, strolling the beach on the other side of the Bay, playing with sea gulls, walking the long pier, and collecting lots of shells. They absolutely loved the Mobile Bay area. It was quite the treat for them.
- We had a chimney fire one night. Thankfully before anyone headed off for bed, but still. Our wood purchase this year was a poor one. Dealing with the son vs the father apparently makes a difference. The wood is fine, but could certainly stand a bit more seasoning. The children did great though...Matthew immediately headed out and started spraying the roof area near the stovepipe, and we got the dampers shut down and fan unplugged so we could get the fire closed out. The stove pipe was cherry red and looked like a roman candle out there for a bit. An important part of any homestead relying on wood for heating and cooking is to be prepared and always alert in case of fire. Fire, even in a contained stove, can be a problem if you aren't diligent with your wood usage, the depth of your fire, and the cleaning and maintenance of your equipment and stove pipes. Cresote can build up with just a few burns of poorly seasoned wood. It is a serious problem if allowed to continue building up without proper cleaning. It doesn't take a long time to clean your own chinmey pipes. If you are going to burn with wood, you need to know what you're doing. We are in a mobile home here. That chimney fire could have been a much larger issue. We were defiinitely blessed!
- We are back to discussing wood cookstoves again this year, and while we love the Margin Flame View, we have decided the better expense is the Kitchen Queen. The Flame View is a pretty stove...but it's a bolt-together (KQ is fully welded) and that is a big deal with a stove you are planning to use for cooking as well as heating and hot water needs. The bigger bang for our buck is the Kitchen Queen (and it's about $1700 less than the Flame View as well!!). So, more prayer coming, but this may well be the year the new cookstove comes to the homestead!
- I've been working on various projects around here, from barn work to sewing and yarn work. I spent most of August sewing the needed winter items for everyone to have to take their 2 week turn visiting Grandma back north thru September and October. Now it's February and it's time for the spring and summer clothing to start the assembly line here. Sewing the bulk of our clothing needs in a family this size requires quite a bit of attention. The list this year looks like this: 6 pairs of pants, at least 6 shirts, 9 dresses, 4 aprons, 4 summer nightgowns and 2 summer pajamas, 8 kapps and headcoverings.
- I've also been playing with yarn, making baby snuggli wraps, mittens and hats for a winter that hasn't warranted their use as of yet here, and I've started another Bavarian Stitch (aka Catherine's Wheel Stitch) afghan (click the link there, it's a great youtube tutorial on the stitch). My current one is a baby afghan, whatever size it ends up using Lion Brand Pound of Love in pink, lavender and white. I'm loving it so far.
- Here is the one from August I did for my mom's birthday. It ended up the perfect size for her double/queen sized bed! I selected 3 shades of each coloring (pinks, yellow/orange, tan/brown, blue and then green) and used black as the binding color throughout. Just one skein of each color, 2 of the last dark green used, and 2 of the black. Not much yarn for a nice-sized afghan.
- The mittens are made using Bev's Marvelous Mittens pattern, but I added length to the cuff area so they were longer and went into a sleeve (original pattern looks great, but the mitten ends barely below the palm/wrist area). I picked up some great wool at JoAnn's to use and made a couple pair for my mom as well. At least given her recent wintry blast of weather, she's getting some use out of them :-)
- And I've been working over the scrap bags here as well, and enlisted some Facebook friends to share in a Block Swap with me. Nothing fancy, no sewing, we are simply swapping a small bundle of scraps cut into 4 1/2" blocks. I've prepped my bundles to get mailed out soon, and started putting together some of the other squares we already had cut. With all of our sewing, scraps are readily available. We try to keep ahead of the chaos by periodically going though and cutting up the scraps into squares anywhere from 2" up to 8" blocks ready for use in other projects. Any scraps larger than 8" can be used in the doll and infant sun bonnets we make, but anything smaller is destined for the block bags here. There isn't a special plan for the swapped blocks really other than putting together a scrap block quilt for a bed. I have 3 already waiting for backing and quilting.
- With the less-than-wintry weather typical down here, we've had some walks in the woods. Yesterday we took some sandwiches and trekked off for a picnic, taking our spelling and reading work along. We headed toward the creek side of the property and perched ourselves on the cliff top above our creek. Of course, the couple days without rain didn't last, and we are back to being knee-deep in a mud slurry here and the animals are back to their mud slides. We did manage to give the goats a good hoof cleaning and trim yesterday in the dry(er) weather though, so it's all good.
So, as February begins and we get caught up around here, it's time to start planning ahead...spring and summer clothing needs, the garden list and planting, the fencing tasks, the wood gathering and splitting for next year (Dewey bought me a great new Stihl saw so I'm good to go on the wood cutting front now!), and some remodeling work inside the home as well as around the homestead. I have plans to tear out 2 interior walls and open up the kitchen and dining area more fully, which will be perfect if the new cookstove plans happen. We need a new chicken coop for the chicks coming in March as well as some serious re-work on the barn. I can't lose the barn to rot and wind-fall without getting something else in the works here to house the cow and the goats.
Speaking of cow, we are still milking Miss Judy and will do so this year, and aim for breeding her again later. I'm not sure it 'took' this time as she has come back into standing heat a couple of times since we did the AI. Not being all that cow saavy, I'm guessing that means we are without a calf this year.Ahhh, goats are easier to manage. I mean, cows are great, I love Miss Judy here (and hope to love ol' Woody there in stews and casseroles soon as well...) but they are a bit more high maintenance than a simple goat. Goats are basic, rustic even. They just want hay and grain now and then. No fancy date nights needed...it's obvious when a heat cycle is ready to go, thanks to Malachi and Jermiah being here. LOL, sure can't mistake the curly lip and scent of bucky cologne! Miss Judy is great, comes to her name, escapes the fence once in a while, but she tends to travel only to the pond where there are bits and branches of green goodies. Woody, on the other hand, is a master of escape. For him it's easy as pie...he literally JUMPS the 4 ft field fence. Clears it with barely a belly hair brushing the top. Goats are more discreet about escape. They don't 'jump' a fence...they climb it. They aren't showy about it. Woody is all about the show. He's as big as his momma already at 10mo old, and thinks he's a puppy or something. He wants to play. All the time. He rolls his feed buckets around the pasture. He rolls their large rubber water trough. He rolled my wheelbarrow. Put a stick on his head and he is occupied for a long time. He runs, jumps, hops even! And that's fine...unless he wants you to play as well. Big ol' strapping bulls don't know their own strength. He can knock you down without even thinking about it. Goats can hurt you, don't get me wrong, but a 250# buck knocking you over because he loves you and thinks you have an alfalfa cube in your pocket is way more gentle on the body than a 1000# or so bull doing it. Maybe we shouldn't have been so friendly with Woody. He thinks he's people and unfortunately I am not 1000# of his equal.
Well, ramble over. Told you life here was just mundane, regular Jane kind of stuff. I will visit again later if something really cool happens around here. We have floors to scrub and laundry to work through. I hope to get the schoolhouse blog and kitchen blog back on track as well. We have Little House on the Prairie read-along, but the last update to the blog was before Christmas with our reading of The Long Winter. I need to throw up the other updates there. We have since moved onward (backward maybe?) to Knights and the Arthurian legends. The interest level seems to be stuck in Medieval times. Yeah, we aren't exactly tied to chronological history walks here.
Visit again...I promise I will be back soon!