Monday, October 28, 2013

Pardon the interruption

October 5, 2013 - January 4, 2014

If you have a hunter in your life, you know what I'm talking about. Life as you know it ends as life for the hunter begins.

Here in the territory known as "West of the Blue Ridge", Ghon's hunting season lasts three whole months. Three months of camouflage, doe in heat, guns and ammo, bows and arrows, tree stands, target practice, early mornings and outdoor TV shows.

Welcome to my Hell.

For the next three months, almost everything becomes second to chasing tail. Whitetail that is. Does and bucks. 

Of course, I knew this 18 years ago when we started dating. Ghon would disappear for a week in November to hunt with friends. Maybe a day here and there.

A few years ago, Ghon starting hunting on the farm property again, just as he did many years ago as a kid. The pain was getting up early enough to drive 90 minutes down from our house in Frederick to get in the woods before sunrise.

But now, we live 6 minutes from the farm. Ghon can wake up, get dressed, grab a coffee, and be at the farm in less than 20 minutes. He has five tree stands hung across the top of the hill. It's much easier to hunt these days.

Like today, when Ghon was going to fix the broken sign, feed the chickens, move the old refrigerator out of the trash pile to attempt a repurposing project, and plant our fruit trees. I bought 18 bags of mulch and 10 bags of compost and dirt for them yesterday.  Take a guess what he accomplished.

He hunted, bought some hunting supplies and chicken food, then hunted some more.

Oh, he also made this video of a deer he shockingly, did not shoot.

From my perspective, there are many more negatives than positives to deer season.

  • Positives
    • Hunting relaxes Ghon.
    • Dead deer in the fall are unable to eat my vegetables in spring and summer.
Yeah, that's all I got.
  •  Negatives
    • Hunting frustrates Ghon if he doesn't get a shot at a deer.
    • I don't like deer meat.
    • Hunting season distracts Ghon from other home/farm projects.
    • Too much hunting TV.
    • Somehow I end up helping Ghon hang the deer so he can skin it.
    • That same dead deer hangs outside my bedroom window.
    •  Yet another load of laundry - camo makes it's own load.
See, many more negatives than positives.  But I suppose a happy Ghon is better than a sad Ghon.

Perhaps I should start doing some more rain dances. Ghon doesn't hunt much in the rain, and the stone mason does work at our house!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Friday, October 25, 2013


First there was Telzon. Now, there's Cowgirl.

Don't get me wrong, I like Telzon, but I think Cowgirl is pretty cool. She's feisty. She growls at the other cats when we feed them. As soon as the food hits the bowl, she's throwing her paw in the bowl to keep the other cats away - and well, growls at them.

It cracks me up.

Of course, not knowing cats very well, this could be an awful trait to have. But I think it's awesome. I see a mouse killer. A no nonsense attitude.

Please tell me if I am wrong and shouldn't love on this cat. Because she does let me pick her up and hold her and scratch her.

The kids and I did find some collars last week, so I tagged her and Telzon the next day. She didn't have a name until yesterday, when Genevieve tried to declare her as "her kitty." I asked her what she wanted to call her, and rather than coming up with a name like "Doody" or "Cat" or even "Kitty", she declared Cowboy.

Yes, Cowboy.

We think the cat is a girl cat, so I suggested we call her Cowgirl. Fortunately, she agreed.

The name really struck home with me. About two weeks ago, we lost a friend of ours, Jackie Koltz. It was very sudden and unexpected. I've known Jackie for about 23 years. She's celebrated high school and college graduations with me and came to our wedding. She was a chili cook, and cooked under the name Cowgirl Chili. She was full of personality. She was caring and very loving. She was feisty. She was just a great person to know. I will always remember learning how to do the "Achy Breaky Heart" dance with Jackie when I was a kid, and for her teaching me other line dances. I admired her for tackling an addiction and overcoming it. I loved her for accepting me into her extended family. She was part of my village as a kid. Her husband, Roger, an awesome man in his own right, was one of the people I was hoping to see last weekend when the migraine knocked me out.

While I was heartbroken when I found out Jackie died, last night, in my dreams, it really hit me. I suppose it's my own mental preparation for tomorrow, when we will be at a chili cook-off that she had been registered to compete in with Roger. In my dream, I got to the event, saw the Cowboy and Cowgirl chili set up and broke down crying with another set of our friends, the Bauers. I woke up with tears in my eyes, that's how real it was. Tomorrow morning will be intense for sure when I see Roger. It will no longer be Roger and Jackie, and that takes some real getting used to.

Our favorite Cowgirl - Jackie Koltz

When Genevieve suggested Cowboy out of nowhere, and I countered with Cowgirl, Jackie had immediately entered my mind. It may seem odd to name a cat in honor of a friend, but I know Jackie enjoyed her pets, and again, they are both feisty.

I'll miss you Jackie. You were one of a kind and taken too soon.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Welcoming Fall - with a little help from our village

It really does take a village to raise children. From the smallest encounters to use as teaching moments, to the people that they interact with on a regular basis, I believe that my kids are the people they are as a result of their environment just as much or more than their genetics. Last weekend, the kids and I officially started fall and Halloween activities, and our village was with us every step of the way.

Saturday morning, after Tae Kwon Do and a haircut for Jonathan, we headed over to Marker Miller Orchard for some apple picking. We love going to Marker Miller. They have a great play area, a free (music to mom's ears...) cow train ride, great pick your own fruit, a hayride, and a wonderful store and bakery. I found out that the kid's friend Peyton was there with her mom, and family. Peyton's sister and brother are Aly and Travis, who have helped us out at the farm or watched the kids for us. Their grandma, Donna, is their regular daycare/school teacher. Along with the kids Mom Karen, and Pawpaw Rick, they are a big part of the kids' village. I knew Jonathan and Genevieve would be excited to see them all, but kept it a secret just in case they were not there once we arrived.

Fortunately - they were. The kids had a ton of fun playing at the playground with each other, and riding the cow train. My two will ride the train endlessly if I allow them.

After the cow train ride, our friends headed out and we went off to pick our apples. With two eager apple pickers, it didn't take us long to fill our 1/2 bushel bag.

After expending all our energy playing and picking apples, we re-energized with apple cider donuts and finished our running with the dreaded grocery shopping.

The neighborhood we live in is wooded, no street lights, and does not really lend itself to trick or treating. Each year, they host "trunk or treat" at the entrance of the neighborhood by our mailboxes. Cars park in the office parking lot and hand out candy out of the back of their cars. Last year they added a few activities to the event. The kids were super excited about the new/used costumes I snagged for them that morning.

My own Incredible kids!

We arrived a little early and completed the games, trick or treated at all the cars there, then I settled the kids into our truck to hand out candy to the other kids. We grabbed a hot dog and headed home!

Sunday we had another big day planned. Thank you Groupon for a great deal at a pumpkin farm in Middletown MD. Plans included meeting my best friend and her family at the farm for a corn maze, pumpkin picking and lunch, then heading to Culpepper VA to visit some friends at a chili cookoff. Unfortunately, halfway through the corn maze, I got a headache. Side effect of my new glasses? The weather? Who knows. But by the time we were done picking pumpkins, I had a full blown migraine.

Migraines and I don't mix well. When I get a migraine, I often enter vomitville and get sick for hours. I took some medicine with no relief. I ended up cutting the petting zoo area short with the kids and started home.  My 90 minute drive home took 2.5 hours. I still called my Dad and had him come get the kids from me so I could try to relax in the car before driving the last half hour. I begged Ghon to come home on time from work to take care of the kids. I was toast. I took more medicine. I sat in the dark in my room with a cold washcloth for two hours before I was able to come sit with the kids and Ghon at dinner.

For those of you that ask how I do it, and how do I have the time to do everything we do - it's because I have a good village to support me. Between friends and spare eyes watching the kids at our local orchard or friends and family helping with the kiddos when I'm down and recovering, it takes more than just me to raise these two awesome kids. Thank you to my village - I'm glad to have all of you in my life! And the migraine is proof, that once in a while, even Mom needs to slow down and take a break.

By the way, have you clicked on the Top Mommy Blog badge lately? It's over there on the right - and you can click it every day if you'd like. :) Thanks!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Becoming Telzon

Never would have thought it would be this easy to like a cat.

I mentioned that Telzon has a look-a-like sibling. Well, seems there are actually three that look the same. When Eric came over last Monday, Ghon beckoned the cats over by shaking their bag of treats. Six of them showed up. There is a noisy black one, two black with white paws, Telzon, and two that look like Telzon. Seriously, it was a little hard to tell them apart. We have to try to scoop them up and look for the black arm band or the one with more white on it's leg. I'm pretty sure Telzon is the smallest, but then again, who knows. The shy cat is warming up to us, so before where it was easy to scoop Telzon up, and know it was her, it's not so easy anymore.

With all the cats swarming, we gave them a few treats. They ran up and down the porch steps and attacked each other, vying for treats.

Ghon laughed at them. He thought cats playing were cute. Gasp!

Eric and I grabbed a few cats trying to find Telzon, and then I snapped this picture. I find it quite priceless.

Yes, that is Eric and Ghon looking like they are about to perform a satanic ritual rather than loving up on the cats.

We've thought about buying a collar for Telzon so we will always know which one she is. Silly, isn't it? I guess that's just how we roll!

Last night the kids and I stopped to pick up a collar for the cat. Wal-Mart had one. One cat collar and it was too big. Rather than by a collar then, we picked up a cat toy.

You read that right, I bought the cat a toy. It is a little mouse on a string attached to a wand. The mouse makes "realistic" mouse sounds and also lights up for nighttime outdoor play. I wanted something that looked a mouse to keep those mousing skills sharp. The light up feature was a bonus. Telzon does come to visit us during the day, but many of her visits are at night.

Could this cat be turning us into cat people??

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Rain & Stone

Rain is liquid water in the form of droplets that have condensed from atmospheric water vapor and then precipitated—that is, become heavy enough to fall under gravity.

Guess when I told the kids rain was water falling from the sky, I gave a highly scientific answer.

According to Jim's Weather Station, (seriously, I just Googled rain and found this) Winchester VA has already received 6.41 inches of rain this month. That, in my opinion, sounds like a lot of rain. It's raining now. It rained all last weekend. It better not rain on Sunday, the kids and I have outdoor plans with my BFF and her family. I am so done with rain. It rained four days straight last week.

The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Sure, Henry, unless I have plans.

Like milk does a body good, rain does a farm good. It nourishes the garden. Rain gives the trees a much needed drink. Rain keeps the grass green. It drowns snakes. (A girl can dream...)

Like milk cripples a lactose intolerant person, rain cripples progress at the farm. Can't mow or rake the leaves. Sucks trying to dig holes and plant new trees in the orchard in a monsoon. More leaves and sticks fall off the old walnut tree and clog the gutters. The gutters leak all over the place, regardless.

Seriously, ever been to the zoo or an amusement park with the mist tent or archway? Imagine that turned up to full blast and that's what it's like walking in the front door of the farm house right now.

The silver lining on the big ol' raincloud over Winchester? It's our stone mason. He has a ton of outside work. As he put it, lots of folks are suddenly deciding to seal up their chimneys or repair porches as they get ready for the colder months. That kind of work requires no droplets precipitating from the sky. Work at the farmhouse is perfect for days water meets gravity. It's inside work. Sure, he might have to dodge the doorway mister, but the rest of his time, it's spent dry inside. He's been able to get two full days in at the house so far, working repointing and repairing the chimney. All of the stone for the fireplace is coming from the property, and since the selection of stone was dwindling, Ghon got more, in the rain, last Sunday. Eric came down on Monday, and they both did more stone hunting.

(Excuse the picture quality. Ghon knows he needs to take pictures of everything - he was a good boy, but the cell phone quality was lacking in these pictures.)

Stone quarry identified.

Stone uncovered.

The crater left behind.

Eric and the loaded truck.

Stone anyone?

Myron should have plenty of stone to choose from.

It's been super exciting seeing the fireplace progress. We needed the concrete poured to get to this step. Once the fireplace is done, we can work on reinstalling the wood floor. After the floor is in, well, then we get to start framing in the room. I. Can't. Wait.

Perhaps it can rain a little more tonight. But not this weekend. The rain dance stops at noon tomorrow.

Tragedy strikes

The farmhouse is only six minutes from our house. Ghon doesn't pass it anymore on his way to work, but I drive by on my way to work or into town.

Two days ago, I noticed that our sign was leaning. I thought perhaps all the rain we had shifted the post. Unfortunately, when I drove home tonight, I found it completely down.

It shouldn't be a hard repair, and Ghon has off work tomorrow so we should get it fixed. Still, it's sad. We received so many compliments on the sign. I know it will go right back up, and it doesn't look like the sign is damaged, but still!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Golden Eggs

We currently have nine hens. They are a mix of hens we bought in May and July.

All summer our coop has been void of eggs.

They should have started laying back in June and August. For the last few months, I have been buying eggs at the store for the family.

Say what? I have "laying" hens and I am buying eggs? Yep, you read that right. What is the point of having a farm with chickens if you can't feed your family, let alone sell them?

These little cluckers have not been earning their keep. I've contemplated making them Sunday dinner. At least then they would do something to benefit the family. Chickens can be amusing and fun to watch, but since I do not have abundant chicken gazing time in my schedule, it isn't happening.

Today was a rare day as Ghon came with the kids and I as we did some of our weekend running. On our way home, we stopped by the farm so Ghon could see the progress made by our stone mason on the fireplace. He checked the coop and found three eggs! Finally! One was still warm. :)

Looks like two, maybe three hens have entered the safe zone.

The pressure is on.

Lay young hens, lay.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

One year anniversary

One year ago, we sat in a lawyer's office, signing over our free time and extra money to build our future home. One year ago, it was just "the farm" or "Dad's house." It's become Hummingbird Farm. It's become the place our kids love to go to visit chickens, to run freely, to ride battery or gas powered four wheelers, and make s'mores.

It's becoming a home.

The main goal of this blog was to document our progress so we would not forget just how far we've come. When projects stall due to a unforeseen circumstances, like a rotten support beam, when the money runs thin, when the free time doesn't exist, or there is grass to mow, it's hard to think about how far we have come and not focus on how much more there is to do. On the one-year anniversary of home ownership, I thought it would be fitting to revisit just how much we have accomplished.

We demolished the living room. Drywall off the walls. Layers of plywood off the floor. Logs exposed. Floors leveled and removed. The base for our new wood stove poured.

Starting living room demolition

The layers of plywood to remove

Mid-destruction and creating ceiling support.
Floor removed.
Mortar removed and cleaning in progress.

The current living room floor and beginnings of the fireplace.

The attic was cleaned out.

A bathroom, removed.


The kitchen, well, the kitchen is in progress.



and current.

We've cleaned out a lot of stuff. A lot of trash.

And we've had a ton of fun.

One year has flown by. A year ago we thought we would be living in the house by now. Realistically, we are looking at something closer to the year two mark. We are taking it one step at a time. One room at a time.

We are making memories every single moment.

I want to thank all of our friends and family that have helped us at the farm: Cindy, Pop, Tim, Kevin S, Steve, Clint, Charlie, Dave, Jen, Charlotte, Larry, Kathryn, Cecil, Kevin D,  Missy, Travis, Aly, Cassy, Rod, BJ, Eric, Ryan, Karen & John. Your support means more than you will ever know.