Monday, April 29, 2013

Thank you Mrs. Shields!

I made a little trip to the Baltimore suburb of Glen Burnie this morning. On my way out to work in Rockville, I made a detour to Pasadena and my friend Becky's house. Becky and her husband David, friends of mine from high school, were awesome enough to secure a free recycle can for us to use at the farm. This big sucker will come in so handy while cleaning out the buildings, demo work in the house, and for yard waste collecting for the compost pile. We have two in use, and they work out well.

While I was there, I was able to briefly meet 2 out of 4 of their adorable kids. So cool to see them in person after seeing them on Facebook since they were little bits on a sonogram! Becky shared part of her own remodel project, and I had head out to work. Much too short of a visit. I'd love to have the whole family to the farm to visit - consider that your open invite!!

Thanks, Becky! We'll put that bright yellow can to great use!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Maybe Santa can help.

While you get two blog post for the weekend, neither really has much to do with renovating a farmhouse.

This one, is about a conversation with my favorite 4-year old on the topic of death and heaven. I won't be offended if you aren't into reading any further. Come on back when I'm back on my regularly scheduled program.

About 18 months ago, our dog, Marco died. He was a big lunkhead, got into the weirdest stuff (he ate soy sauce - from a jar, and a can of beef broth), but was very protective of his family. He was also very sick when we rescued him. He was nearly blind and thousands of dollars of medication we were able to bring his sight back. A big ol' boy, at 145 pounds, was on predisone for his entire life with us. Just as we were trying to make the tough decision about his quality of life, Marco died at our front door. Marco was the most gentle with the kids, and Jonathan loved him to pieces. He still talks about Marco, how much he misses him, and how he wants him to come back.

Perhaps it's the age, or something he's heard or learned at Sunday school, but Jonathan has talked quite a bit about dying lately. A couple months ago, Genevieve lost a balloon, and Jonathan told her it was OK, that it went to heaven and Jesus had it. And she was cool with that. He's been asking about my mom and Ghon's mom and dad - all who have died.

Today and again tonight before bed, the questions were all about when was he going to die, when was I going to die. How old did you have to be? That he was scared; would I be there with him. Which one of us would die first? I assured him that God and Jesus would take care of him when the time came. And that the time was probably very far away for both of us. It doesn't help that we have a very elderly dog, that probably won't be with us much longer - and he knows that.

The rest of the conversation went kinda like this:

Jonathan: Does heaven have tree houses?
Me: I don't know, but I bet they do.

J: I don't know what Jesus and God look like.
M: No one knows what God looks like.

J: Will God let me bring Spot (stuffed dog)?
M: Maybe. You will have to ask him.

J: How do I talk to God?
M: You say a prayer. Just talk to him, he will hear you.

J: He can hear me?
M: Yep, when you talk to him, he can.

So we pray.

J: My animals will miss me. (his stuffed animals) I hope they do have a tree house.
M: Yep, they might.

J: I'm scared though. What if I start to fall from heaven and come back down?
M: Jesus and God will hold you and not let you fall.

J: Will I see Marco there? Can I send Genevieve her balloon back?
M: You will see Marco. Jesus might want to keep the balloon.

J: Will I die soon?
M: I hope not. You have to get older and find a girl you love and get married and make me and daddy grandparents. We need to be grandma and pop first. (he laughs)

J: But where will you live?
M: Probably at the farm.

J: Where will we live?
M: I don't know. Maybe you live at the farm too, by all of your trees.

J: But there's no house. There's just an old table up there.
M: Maybe you can build a house.

J: But I don't have any materials.
M: You can buy them.

J: I don't know how to build a house. Will you help me?
M: Absolutely.

J: But you don't know how to drive the gator up there to take the materials up.
M: I'll drive a truck.

J: Trucks can get stuck in the mud.
M: I'll learn how to drive the gator before then, OK?
J: OK.

J: Do you ever come back to earth?
M: Well, some people come back as angels. And they watch over you and protect you - but you can't always see them or know they are angels.

Q: But how do I get there? How do God and Jesus get me to heaven when I die if there is a roof in the way?
A: Well, honey, it's sort of magic how it happens.
J: Maybe Santa can help them! Or the Toothfairy!
M: Maybe, Bud. Maybe.

I just love this kid. Even talking to him about death, which I know too much about, or Jesus, God and heaven, which I don't know enough about, he amazes me with things he says. From what sounds like such a serious conversation from a squirming little boy in bed, to God getting a little help from Santa.

So I bring you public service announcement #4: Trust in your faith. Believe in God and He won't let you fall. Even if you both need a little help from Santa on the way.

Public Service Announcement #3 - Wear your sunscreen

This weekend is a little more relaxed on the farm. Busy weekend with work and other activities.

That could also read: Ghon had a photo shoot Saturday afternoon and works Sunday. Kim has tball, grocery shopping, a different house to clean, a road trip, and pulling out kid's summer clothes to do. Sometimes, there is a life outside working at the farm.

While I spent the day working from home on Friday, Ghon had the day off and spent the entire day in the garden. He planted a ton of squash, zucchini, potatoes, string beans, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and melons. There is still a little more to plant and we should be done. Saturday, we did pick up some tomato and sweet potato plants to add in.

Friday was a nice day, a little on the cool side, but sunny. A sunny day that you forget is sunny because it's not blistering hot. The kind of day that you forget to wear sunscreen.

For father's day last year, I bought Ghon a hat for when he was working in the garden. It's light colored, breathable and has a removable tail, to protect the neck from the sun. He's finally started to take advantage of wearing the hat since he spends so much time outside at the farm and is tired of my redneck jokes.

On this fine Friday, Ghon wore his hat. He had on lightweight layers, long sleeves, to protect his arms (namely the tattoos), work pants, and boots. But he didn't wear sunscreen. And he forgot to tuck his shirt in.

Image planting rows and rows of vegetables, on your hands and knees. You might be a little hunched over, working tirelessly. The sun, warming your back. Music pumping through your veins thanks to your iPod and fancy schmancy camo headphones. (yes, he has camo headphones.)

Wait, back up a second. The sun, warming your back?

This is NOT Ghon. I repeat, not Ghon. As much as I wanted to take a picture, he wouldn't let me.

This is what Ghon came home with from the farm Friday night. I'm used to having to do tick checks on his back after working in the yard. But the way he asked me to look at his back, I knew something different was going on. Plumber's crack sunburn. I couldn't believe it.

So let this be a reminder. When you are outside, wear your hat and wear your sunscreen. And please, tuck your shirt in.

If you missed public service announcements 1 & 2, they can be found here.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Workshop Weekend

I must shout out from the mountain top (and how cool that I have my own mountain that I can do it from) that my sister-in-law Cindy is amazing. This was the fourth weekend she has given up doing her own thing to WORK at the farm. Helping to make it a cleaner and safer place for my kids to live and play. First it was the attic. Then the field and demolition. Another weekend of the field. And this weekend, the workshop. My father-in-law had built a huge out building and divided it into three sections, one being his woodworking shop. After a bad car accident, he was for the most part home bound. He still did projects outside, but no more shop. So the workshop sat unused for about 13 years. Over time, more 'stuff' was likley thrown in there, however, not a drop of work was done in the workshop.

The roof started to leak.

The walls are rotting and falling in.

The dirt floor, covered in vinyl flooring with supports in a few spots, is caving in.

The mice, snakes, and family of flying squirrels have made themselves at home.


Ghon would like to see the place cleaned up and use it. He's talked about saving framework of the structure, but residing and roofing it. But cleaning it out? Yeah, there's grass to cut or a seed to plant, or a chili cookoff to be at. I haven't seen Ghon do any of those tasks. Hmmm. For as scared as I am of the creatures that lurk about, I wonder why I keep geeting stuck doing them while he is off somewhere else. Love ya babe, but really, where ya at?

As I've mentioned before, Cindy is perfect for this job. She is focused and organized, goes in with a game plan and I follow her lead. She protects me from the creepy crawlies and slithers. Except well, for one part of this weekend that deserved it's own special post. If you missed the special Friday edition, you can read all about it here.

I don't think I can blog about that or post pictures of that again.

Regardless, Cindy and I dove into the workshop midday Friday. We worked for a couple hours, then stopped for lunch. Then back to the farm and kept at it. We were calling for a big storm on Friday afternoon, and sure enough, after the snakisode, I opted to help Ghon with the chicken relocation as it started pouring. I don't think I have ever been so wet while fully clothed. EVERYTHING was soaked. It took my hat a full 24 hours to dry. My sneakers even more. I was drenched, my shirt sripping and sticking to me. But hey, the chickens had a new place to hangout.

Chicken relocation - picture obviously taken the next morning.

There are no pictures of soaked adults. I kind of did want to take a picture, but I feared completely ruining the camera from the monsoon. I'm already having lens issues from all the dust and dirt!

Saturday Ghon left for a chili cookoff, and after breakfast, Cindy, the kids and I headed to the farm. I really didn't want to go back into the workshop. I did it, but admit, I was very cautious after. It's hard to say why, since the snake was outside, but regardless, I'm convinced we woke it up and made it angry and it was going to come back.

I was only able to work for a half hour or so before I loaded the truck up with trash (load #2 for the weekend) and took Jonathan to t-ball. Cindy worked away, so the kids and I brought her back some lunch, and got back to work in the early afternoon.

The kids are doing better finding things to amuse themselves with. One of the sections of the builing had some tumbling mats that we have renamed "jumping mats", we've found some random balls, and then there is always the back of my truck.

Sleeping Bugs

Or nature.

Jonathan's personal climbing tree.

On Sunday, Ghon and Cindy got an early start. Ghon had to work that afternoon and into the night, and Cindy was scheduled for her normal noon departure. The kids and I had breakfast, then I made the two of them sandwiches and headed out.

Ghon had already been using the tractor for tilling, but it made it's mowing debut this weekend.

Ghon mowing the front yard for the first time.

View from the corner of the street and driveway.

Typical Ghon face.

In an attempt to keep the kids busy for a bit, Ghon decided to take them for a ride while he mowed. I really should have taken video of him singing Old MacDonald.

Ghon hooked up the wagon and took the kids off through the field to mow the grass.

Off to the orchard!

Can't say we've found too much exciting in the building. Bonsues have been sentimental things like Ghon's father's buck knife. However, if you enjoy screws and nails, please, come see my workshop. I have enough to last, well, forever. And a day. Or two.

At this point, you are just dying to know what the workshop looked like, aren't you? Here they are, the before and after photos.

Workshop - Friday morning. Before #1

Workshop - Sunday afternoon. After #1

Workshop - Friday morning. Before #2

Workshop - Sunday afternoon. After #2
The counter was cleaned off. I threw the containers away, but Cindy wants to save them, so they came back in.

Genevieve came in to help, found a broom and got to work.
Jonathan was in charge of moving wood from a pile to a box so it could be carried out.
There is still some work to do in there. The good news is that most of the stuff stacked on the right has been sorted and organized. The right wall doesn't seem to leak as bad as the left, so it was a good place to keep things. You can see the holes in the floor down the center, and the table top Cindy laid down to cover several holes to give us a place to walk.

In the end, I took four loads of trash to our transfer station. All metal stays onsite for the scrapyard and all wood stays for burning. Cindy took a load of old paints and odd sized items that can't go to our transfer station with her to dispose of at her landfill. I have a load today in my truck to do the same. That's six loads and more to go in the workshop. We will have one more large area to clean out after the workshop, but that might have to wait until we get a dumpster and/or fall, when the creepies go away.


Workshop - Friday morning. Before #3
Workshop - Sunday afternoon. After #3
I love the look of a freshly cut lawn. After loading up my last load of trash, I stopped to take a picture of the house. So far to go, but so much potential!

Friday, April 19, 2013

The scream heard across the farm

In addition to being meticulous, organized, and focused, the other reason I have my sister in law Cindy with me when cleaning the out buildings is the same reason I had her with me in the attic. Cindy protects me.

I don't like mice and snakes. 

Even more than I don't like spiders and stinkbugs.

I told Cindy today, that the workshop freaked me out more than the attic. It was the place I first heard about Slick.

When I first met Ghon's father, he was working in the workshop, and told me all about his friend Slick, a black snake that listened to him.  I promptly went inside and met Ghon's stepmom.

We've been going to the farm for years, especially in the past 3 years. We would spend all day there, and fortunately, I never met Slick. 'Cause apparently, he's still around. My inlaws have seen him, and they would say weird things when I'd get there like "oh, you're a few minutes late, Slick was just here."  No, I am absolutely on time and not sorry I missed him.

Confession: I heard that Slick was spotted multiple times near the front porch and on the side of the house by the hose. I look for that stupid snake EVERY time I walk up those steps and turn that hose on. I don't care if there is a foot of snow on the ground. I look for that snake.

I don't like snakes.

You know where this is going don't you?

I saw a freaking snake.

I saw a freaking snake, and I screamed.

I saw a freaking snake, and I screamed. And I screamed some more.

And yeah, I might have screamed some more. And shook. And did a jig. And cried.

Because I saw a snake.

Yeah, it was raining, and I know it's blurry. I'd already run from it and the crazies are all like "get a picture." Hard to stand still when you are scared out of your mind and a monsoon is blowing in.

Cindy had to leave to use the bathroom. (Note to self, buy her some Depends so she never leaves again.) I kept working, using a stick to pull trash out of a desk, cause you know I'm not sticking my hand in there. She comes back and says "whoah" which of course makes me look out the door and there it is. Big ol' snake. Outside, but right at the door. First was an OMG, then a small scream, then a series of screams and "GHON!!!! GET IT!!!!"  I think I heard Cindy yell for Ghon because I was freaking out. In addition to the screaming, I was doing a little dance. I think I heard something about it being a harmless black snake, and oh, he eats mice. 

After an eternity, it finally moved (OK, a minute or so). I ran out of the building and down the hill. The rain was pouring and I didn't care. I ran. I heard laughter behind me. Then Ghon decides to try to pick it up. OMG, WHAT THE HELL???? It struck out at him, and Ghon says, "Oh, he's angry." 

What was that about black snakes being harmless? Black snakes aren't supposed to strike at you. I thought black snakes are oh so nice. Bull. I don't believe it. I remind them that the devil first appeared in the form of a snake. Snakes are evil.

So if you remember my song about spiders being "creepy and crawly and they have too many legs"? I told Ghon that I don't like snakes because they are creepy and crawly and they DON'T have legs. How is that possible? How is that right?

I hate snakes.

It's coming to get me. And no, I didn't take that picture. It was on zoom and the camera in Cindy's hands.

Ghon wanted to stretch it out. He said it was 5ft long. Cindy thinks it was closer to 6ft.
I was about 15 feet away and not counting.
I married an idiot. It's a snake. You already said it's angry! Why are you bothering it???
I needed consoliation or a machete, and no, he plays with it with a cane.
Ok, he did give me a hug, but laughed the entire time.

I still shudder when I think about it. And now, I'm reliving it and looking at these pictures. bwuggaa. Ghon had the nerve to say that this snake was not Slick. And that Slick is bigger. Slick needs to find a new home. This guy needs a new home.

Needless to say, I was done in the workshop. Cindy thinks maybe we disturbed him working in the shop. She's going to expect me to go back in there tomorrow.

I just might die.

I am going to be worried about that snake coming back out. Coming near me. Going near my kids. I told them about it today when I picked them up. Told them that when I saw it, I was a good girl and screamed for Daddy, didn't touch it and ran to an adult, just like we've told them to do. Scream, don't touch it, run.

Repeat after me. Scream, don't touch it, run.

I hate snakes.

Tonight, I mentioned that I was going to end up dreaming about it. Cindy laughed and said, I wouldn't. Ghon said, no, she will. Ghon said as soon as he heard my scream, he knew there was a snake. They reminded me that snakes are good. They eat mice. I reminded them that the house still has mice and that meant the snake was not doing his job and needed to go.

They keep laughing at me.

That's OK. I'll keep screaming at them. I mean at the snake. Or, just scream. 'Cause no matter where on the farm you are, you are going to hear it.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

T-Weekend: travel, toys, trash, tiller

It's never a weekend without work in these parts.

It was another major trash removal last weekend. Ghon took Friday and Saturday off to cook chili in South Carolina and ran off with my Trailblazer. Since I had his pickup truck, I made great use of it for trash removal. Saturday morning, Dad and I loaded up the truck full of trash, the last load from the big clean out the weekend before. After a stop at the transfer station, we were off to Jonathan's first t-ball game, haircuts for both kids, lunch, and grocery shopping. Wow. After unloading the groceries and resting a few minutes at the house, we were back off and headed to the farm.

While the kids ran around like crazies, Dad and I started cleaning out a section of the large out building to store some new equipment. Or should I say, a new toy. Yep, after one drive on the 4-wheeler a few weeks ago, Dad had to have a toy at the farm, and went and got himself a Ranger. The challenge now was to clear a place to store it. The kids love riding on it with Pop.

Pop takes Jonathan and Genevieve for a ride. Thank goodness it has two passenger seatbelts.

Bag after bag of trash came flying out the building and the kids got plenty of rides with Pop. We worked for about two hours before heading home for dinner and baths for the kids. Before we left, we loaded the truck with round 2 of trash for the Sunday morning drop off.

Ghon got home late Saturday night after a pretty successful trip to SC. I ran to the transfer station to dump the last load then back to the farm to get Ghon and the kids. We went into town and bought seeds for the garden, fertilizer and ran automatic seed planter. Dad headed back to the farm to clear another trash pile and ride the Ranger/Gator. Haha, boys and their toys.

Back at it the next day.

Anyway, at the top of the hill there was a clearing that was used as a campsite. It hasn't been used for over three years and had been visited by bear in the past. Tents, storage cabinets, grills, a swing, hammock, chairs, canopy - you name it, it was there and pretty banged up. After several trips back and forth up the hill with the ranger, the site is nearly cleared - thanks, Dad! We will need to take the truck up to bring down the last few pieces.

The kids helped Ghon spread fertilizer in the garden while I worked in the out building and sorted the trash coming from the hill. After a bit, our neighbor and friend Daniel stopped by with his tractor and tiller. Daniel whipped through the garden and even extended a section for us in no time! Thanks for plowing for us Daniel, and thanks for making Ghon want a tractor even more.

Daniel tilling in a small stripe. This is where the garden was last year.

Talking about how easy that was.

Beginning to till the main garden. This is the area Ghon tilled with his new tractor the week before.

Let's make it bigger!

Before putting the ranger away for the night, the kids wanted one more ride, this time with Dad.

We had another visitor on Sunday, Ghon's daughter Linda came to visit. We had a little BBQ lunch then Ghon and Linda spent time checking out the house and the property. Of course, Jonathan took Linda on his own special tour of the house first.

Before we left, Ghon and the kids planted our first vegetable crop - corn! Jonathan and Genevieve were each able to take a turn running the automatic seed planter. In all, Ghon planted 30 rows of silver queen and peaches and cream corn. Fingers crossed it germinates and grows - and the deer don't eat it. While Ghon finished planting, I finally let Jonathan ride the tire swing - which was really hung has a horse toy.

Filling the seeder with corn.

Ghon making a test run.

The garden this year is going to be huge!

Jonathan's turn to help plant the corn.

And then Genevieve's turn.

So happy to finally ride the 'tire swing'.

This coming weekend, Cindy is headed our way again for another big purge. This time, we tackle the workshop. I forgot to snap "before" pics of the section I worked on, but I won't forget going into the workshop. I think I might be a little more freaked out about it then I was the attic. Ghon has another cookoff and I will be taking Jonathan to another t-ball game, but otherwise, it's work, work, work!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Flashback photo

I took this picture of a picture from one of Cindy's albums. I see all the work my father in law had done and think of how far we have to go with repairs to get it back to what it was and what he wanted it to be.

So this is the house; white like we want, with level & open porches, clean & green lawn, no extra porch, exposed rock foundation, and happy people going for a ride on a tractor. Amazing.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Not in three lifetimes...

An amazing weekend in so many ways. Ghon and I both had off on Friday, and Cindy drove down to the house for the weekend. The weather started off in Friday in the mid 60's and by Sunday temps were in the low 70s! Perfect for outdoor work and allowing the kids to play outside. Friday, we took the kids to daycare and Ghon ran off to a cardiologist appointment. I met Cindy at the house, and loaded my car UP with a load of trash (and Dad's too!) for the transfer station then ran a quick errand and got to work. The mission? Clean the back trash pile. And clean that trash pile we (Cindy and I did)! I made a few trash runs to our local transfer station and Cindy took a load with her on her way back as well. Should be one more load and all the official trash will be gone! We still have an enormous wood pile and metal pile for the scrap yard, but the trash is gone. Since a picture speaks a thousand words, a few pictures for you.

Before #1

After #1 - the red pick-up bed/trailer is just in the upper left corner of the photo above.

Before #2 - behind the outhouse.

After #2 - Behind the outhouse

Before #3 - Behind the outhouse 2.0 - the other side

Before #4 - back of the workshop.

After #4 - Behind the workshop.

Looking up the road - wood pile dug out of the woods/trash pile.

Much better looking!

All that is left are tractor tools - most semi buried.

The organized trash pile. Plenty of wood and piles of plastic, metal and misc. furnishings.

Boat up, middle cap pulled from the pile/woods.

Trash haul - from the end of the first day.

While Cindy and I worked the trash pile Friday and Saturday (minus my step out for tball practice!), Ghon plowed the garden with his new/used lawn tractor and tiller.
Trying out the new tractor.

It works! Tilling the garden to be.

Drinking and driving.

Saturday evening, our friend Tim stopped by. Cindy couldn't wait to hear his opinion on the field. I missed the initial reaction, but have been told it went a little like this: "Not in three lifetimes would I have thought that would be cleaned up." Yep, three lifetimes condensed into two weekends. Of course after taking in the new scenery, Ghon and Tim have a bright idea and start chipping some of the wood pile down. While drinking. I was waiting for a Fargo moment...
The decision to chip/shred the wood was a good one, although I'm not sure how I felt aobut 2 rednecks doing it with beer in hand.

A few fun pics from the weekend.
Sassy hot mess.

Jonathan wanted to take a picture of me.

Aunt Cindy taking a rare break with Genevieve.

In addition to the garden plowing Ghon and the kids started planting our orchard. Three apples, 2 peaches, 2, pears, and two cherry trees.
Jonathan and Ghon planting our orchard.

He couldn't wait to use the watering can.

If trees were not enough, I planted 8 blueberry bushes on Sunday. Actually, make that 7 blueberries and one pink lemonade blueberry bush. Aunt Cindy bought Jonathan his very own bush and bought a pink blueberry (pink lemonade) for Genevieve. We also planted 5 grape vines, but no pics of those.

6 of 8 blueberry bushes.

Sunday afternoon we had a little help, our friend Aly playing with the kids, and Travis helping Ghon with the chicken runs.
Begining the new coop and run aread.

We also had a visit from our friends Mike & Faith Williams. A wonderful way to round out the weekend.