Thursday, December 4, 2014

Activity at the Farm

It's been four months since I've posted!

Have you wondered where we've been?

With slow progress, I thought it would be a little boring to keep posting pictures of cookouts and lawn mowing. Things just weren't happening that fast for a while.

Now, however, they are in high gear.

I'll give many updates down the road. I've taken so many pictures to share.

Until then, two quick notes.

Last week, while there was some demolition going on, three boxes were found inside a hidden/false wall. One box was filled with rolls of nickels, the other two, filled with rolls of pennies! How awesome is that! My penny kitchen floor is destiny!

Ghon and brought the boxes home to check them out. A few days later, a friend of ours had been at the house and told us we had to bring the money back. A 'non-believer' had the hair on the back of his neck stand up, and then, felt his jacket moving. No wind, no muscle spasm, just looked back at his shoulder and saw movement. Needless to say, he was a little freaked out and left.

Yesterday, during more demo in the kitchen, an old 35mm film canister was found.

And inside was a note....

....and a penny.

Now, if you have a sharp eye, the penny didn't match the year on the note, but close enough.

This reinforces two things for me.

 1 - yep, that floor needs to be tiled in pennies.
 2 - I must add our own little time capsule/note somewhere.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Progress Update

Where to begin... It's been a few busy weeks. Ghon's schedule has been super crazy, with Ghon working many "clopen" shifts, where he closes one night, gets home at 11 or later, and has to leave in the morning by 7 to open the store. No weekend days off, just clopen after clopen.

A few weeks ago, on one of Ghon's days off, he headed to the farm to work and took Jonathan with him. Together, they framed a wall for the living room. Jonathan was so excited to tell me how he used Dad's "real" hammer to drive in several nails. I'd asked Ghon to be a guest author again and write a post about their day, but he's been too busy to stop and write. Thankfully, he took some pictures!

On the next few days off, Ghon spent quite a bit of time building chicken pens to help further secure the young chicks from the raccoons.

We'd lost a few of our meat birds, so we had great hopes for the new pen Ghon built. Unfortunately, those raccoons are ruthless. The pen proved impenetrable from the top and sides. However, the pen sat in the garden in a spot where it was slightly uneven. The raccoon found this spot, and dug under the pen. Every single one of our birds were gone the next morning. It is devastating. We've still been putting the chickens to bed each night, and they are holding there own, although late in laying.

We have one brown hen that loves to roost for the night in a tree outside the run. Everyone else goes to the coop, she flies out and into the tree. Every night, Jonathan and I, or Ghon, has to catch her and put her back in the coop. With Ghon's clopen schedule lately, it's usually me and the kids. I knock her out of the tree, and Jonathan chases and catches her.

Catching chickens in their pajamas!
Genevieve has wanted to get become a chicken catcher to. She finally caught her own chicken one night when we had two out. She was so excited to be able to call herself a chicken catcher. Only problem is, now, if Jonathan gets it first, she is so sad and angry and yells "I'm not a chicken catcher anymore!" 

Our newest chicken catcher flying solo!

This last week, our regular daycare was closed for summer vacation. Jonathan went to day camp each day at his TaeKwonDo studio. With his Master and a few other kids, he took trips to Chuck E Cheese to play, went to the movies, and took a trip to the Natural History and Air and Space Smithsonians in Washington D.C. Genevieve had lots of girl time. I worked PT during the week. Genevieve had her first dentist appointment and did so much better than I thought she would. She sat well for the exam and had no cavities. Then we headed off to my work for a quick visit and lunch. On our way home, we took White's Ferry, her first ferry ride.

She asked when would see the fairy - with the wand. Sorry to disappoint Punkie!

The next two days, I had a few meetings to attend for work, so Genevieve headed to our friend BJ's house to play and take a trip to the playground. Genevieve got her ears pierced on Tuesday. She did good for the piercing, but has been rough with the daily cleanings.

On the way out of the mall, after playing at center court, Genevieve asked if we could go to the photo booth - so we did! Selfie time!

Photo booth - the original selfie!

We of course visited the farm and checked out our orchard and watched Daddy split wood. Thankfully, there are no photos of me attempting to split a piece. I am horribly challenged with hand-eye coordination!

and split!

Genevieve and I checked out the orchard, and headed back with Daddy.


Counting the Asian pears

Thursday took Genevieve and I to a local animal wildlife park. She was able to  feed goats, deer, donkey and llamas. We both loved watching the lemurs at the park.

Before picking up Jonathan at camp, we stopped at Rita's for a cool treat.

Friday, we did all of our running and shopping around town, just the two of us. With that done, we headed home for some baking with all of our zucchini. We made a lemon bread and chocolate zucchini cupcakes!

Look at that mixing speed!

Lemon zucchini bread!

On Saturday, Ghon had a much needed day off with the family, which we of course spent at the farm. All day. Well, almost.

We started with a trip to the Apple Tree Market, a local fruit, vegetable, plant and bakery stand. The kids even look forward to trips here. Between the opportunity to sit and play a round of checkers, to the free apple slices during apple season, and now, the big barrel of roasted peanuts they like to buy, there is always something for them. I love the cranberry orange scones. Yummy.
Anyhow, today, we were there for another purpose, despite still coming home with a bag of peanuts. The market sells a variety of wooden decorations – birdhouses, feeders, large wishing wells, well pumps, and wall decorations all handmade by an Amish teen in PA. I fell in love with the wishing well and wanted it for the farmhouse. My plan was to use it to cover the well head in the front yard and build a small plant or flower garden around it. A couple weeks ago, I finally asked how much it sold for. To my pleasant surprise, it was included in the ½ off plant sale – everything outside was on sale! Woo-hoo! I put a hold on it that minute! I needed Ghon’s truck to pick it up, and we’d been waiting for the market to fix their forklift to help us load it into the truck. When I found out several other people were inquiring about my well, I ran in to pay for it and waited for this weekend to pick it up!

The well was way too heavy, loaded with dirt and plants, to lift into the truck bed. We tried a makeshift ramp, but in the end, built a set of stairs out of pallets to lift, step by step, the well into the truck. We were thanked, and the kids got a few free cookies for being so good waiting.

Next stop was Southern States to put yet another chicken order in. We are getting 10 more hens in late September to add to our laying flock. We wanted a closer ratio for white and brown eggs, and these will help even us out. Ghon and I have finally agreed, for now at least, that it does not pay to raise the layers from chicks.
Mission complete, it was back to the farm. Unfortunately, Genevieve and I had to run back into town for a few things for lunch. We didn’t have enough charcoal, so we picked up a few other items and headed back. While we were out, Ghon and Jonathan started work at the farm.

First item on their list, they unloaded and installed the well for me! Ghon tried to start a rock ring around it, but after the first few rocks, decided it would be a job better left to me. But that would come after lunch.

My grilling has improved and our meals increased in variety from last summer. Saturday, I made fajitas for lunch. I grilled a few thin cut shoulder steaks dusted with fajita seasoning and used the grill pan to cook down some onion, pepper, and tomato. The top shelf warmed the shells. I assembled them with a little Colby-jack cheese and voila, lunch! Well, for Ghon and me at least. The kids didn’t care for the meat and picked at the cheese and shell.  About an hour later, the kids and I split an orange for a snack.

Lunch in the making!

I had a little visitor while I was grilling. Poor thing with it's broken wing!

For the living room mantle, we've changed ideas a few times. Ghon had a new idea, and after running a quick proposal by me, set off to make a few cuts to bring it to life.

Tools to build a mantle!

Go lumberjack, go!

As we were finishing up lunch, Tim came to the farm to help us out for the day. While I built the rock wall around the well, Ghon and Tim set off for a variety of odd yard jobs.

Ta-da! Well head hidden, rock wall built! Gorgeous! Now I need to add some more dirt and hosta!

First, Ghon and Tim moved some lumber around and mowed a section of the yard that hadn’t been mowed all season. Each of them were on a tractor, one mowing, the other mowing and using the yard sweeper, then dumping the clippings at our compost pile. Next, they worked to reclaim some of the  back yard along the creek had been overgrown with a good bit of briars and blackberry bushes. They hauled all the brush over to the fire ring, where Ghon had already started a fire. We were also working to finishing burning out the rotting wood that Cindy and I stacked over a year ago. 

Fueling the fire - makes me laugh every time I hear Jonathan yell in the background.

The front yard still had some cinder blocks and lumber from the yard sale LAST YEAR, and some stones not used during the fireplace build. I used these stones to build the wall around the well, then started to load up the cart on the tractor with the cinder blocks to get them out of the way. Tim hauled them up to the woods near the wood pile where another set of blocks were stacked.

What were the kids doing? The kids, well, they found a way to amuse themselves. Ghon left a set of wooden ramps on the tailgate of his truck. The kids used them as a slide, and kept running up them and sliding down. Before long, the hose was out, and they spent a good 20-30 minutes soaking each other – then back to the truck slide/castle/planet – whatever game they were playing at the time. They kept themselves pretty amused all day.

Wet and absolutely filthy.

After playing with some fallen walnuts, the kids took a few tries at breaking their outer shells.

Smash with the big hammer
Smash with the little hammer

After Ghon and Tim took a tractor ride up the hill to pull down the log splitter, the big power tools came out. Ghon grabbed the chainsaw and went to work. Tim went home and grabbed his weed eater and put on the circular saw blade. It was time to cut down more junk.

Boys and their toys!

Firing it up!

Ghon trimmed a couple branches off one of the walnut trees in the front yard. The branches were making it hard to cut the grass in the front yard. I would have to tell the kids to duck when they were in the trailer, and try to hold as much back as possible. Down they came!

Hiding in the jungle

Suckers growing off an old stump by the mailbox – gone. Tim knocked down a bush near our lounge pad, where we cook, eat, and burn.

Ghon took to clearing out some of the ‘trash’ bushes that grew along the rock wall at the street in the front of the house.  While he went to work with the chainsaw there, Tim stayed out of his way and worked on some mowing between the tree and fence line. I took to the street, mowing one side of the road with the tractor, and the other with the push mower.

Checking out the task at hand.
I caught Jonathan imitating Ghon starting and using the chainsaw.

Love that face!
Quick dinner break, and back to work. Tonight, ribs and chicken! Yum!

Chicken raised at the farm last summer!

All of the branches and shrubs were laying in the front yard. Two handfuls at a time, the three of us drug the branches over to the fire ring. I was even able to get the kids to help by making it a race! Although I had high hopes of getting it all burned, we ran out of steam by 9pm.

The before shot from across the road.
There is certainly some more work to go to clear out more along the road. Ghon wants to clear out some more along the wall itself.  But it’s pretty amazing that you can actually see the house from the road now.  

And the after shot, taken the next morning.

Sunday, the kids and I were back to work in the afternoon, but just to mow grass. I started to make a fire and burn some more, but we decided to head home instead.

Finally, finally…Monday I took care of the chickens in the morning and found an egg! The hens are finally laying! I threatened them Sunday, that they’d be dinner food soon if they didn’t start laying! Guess it worked. After three days, we have 6 eggs. Fingers crossed they start laying faster soon!

A day later, another egg!  Even Genevieve was excited!

Happy girl! Just don't squish the egg!

Ghon had off Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Tuesday he did some more outside work. He burned more brush and rotting wood and also cut more wood for the winter. When cleaning out the wood pile, he also got bit by a small black snake. Later, he burned some fingers moving wood in the fire. Not a good day injjury wise, but he got a lot done.  Our neighbor is selling her house and no longer needs the firewood she purchased last year. We bought the remaining wood from her, and Ghon stated moving it over to our yard the last two days.

On Wednesday, he did more wood work and finished the mantle build!

We originally had much different plans for the mantle. First, we were going to rehang the original, but decided it would hide too much of the stone work. Then, we were going take one of the original floor joist logs removed during the floor and support repair to a sawmill and have them cut a mantle. Finally, Ghon asked me to trust him, and showed me his idea for the log brackets and the simple shelf. It was going to have a small rounded drop front, but after sanding the shelf and seeing hand cut marks to shape the board, he left that off.

Nice job babe!

It's sort of narrow, but simple and doesn't detract from the stone work. The shelf part is also repurposed from inside the house, the ceiling I believe, so we are still reusing old parts!

That's what's been going on here at the farm! It's finally Friday, which means the kids and I start all over again. Tonight, we are planning family dinner at the farm and another burn. I have a busy day for the kids and I tomorrow, and some point, we'll do some yard work.

Ready, set, go!