Tuesday, August 28, 2012

So now what?

The roof project has been hanging over our heads for so long...it's been the topic of many conversations, a handful of fights, a ton of blog and facebook posts ...so now what? Right now, we are a little strapped for cash. Between the rough, hot summer (meaning higher utility bills) and being too tired to whip up an amazing dinner (meaning that the ONE place that delivers to us is practically our best friend) - so bigger projects are on hold. As I mentioned before, we still have siding and doors ($$) to put on along with painting to get done before the winter gets here. We have the paint, just need to pull together the $350 (approx) for the siding. We also need to talk to our hay provider to get a few more loads of hay into our loft ($$), before the weather gets rough. We also want to stock up on both animal and human food...just in case. Last winter was so mild, I'm afraid we are due for "the big one" around here. I'm worried about lots of snow and ice - I worry that we'll lose power. I want to be prepared for all of that. I want to make sure that we have a full oil delivery ($$), a pantry filled with canned goods ($$), and a full propane tank (to cook food outside on the grill and the two-burner stove I got for my birthday, just in case $$). We just need to budget and make a plan of when we are going to get everything we need. We'll be fine...we just need to figure out plan A and plan B. Oh! AND we are planning on converting our other shed (10 ft. x 12 ft.) - the one the alpacas were in originally, into our chicken coop. I'm not sure if I want to paint it red to match the barn, or keep it blue to match the house?? Hmmmm.....
The soon-to-be chicken coop is on the right in this picture. The fencing has been taken down (this was Blossom and Josie's original home, when they first got here) - we'll be adding a cute little picket fence, just high enough to deter the chickens from breaking out. On the longer side, we'll be cutting in a door/window long enough for us to reach in and grab fresh eggs from the breeder boxes that we'll be building - we'll make sure that we can lock it all up and keep the ladies nice, safe and warm.
It will be amazing if Mark gets a job soon (BTW - he's got an interview Friday - so fingers crossed, lots of prayers and happy thoughts would be appreciated) - if he gets hired and starts to get a few paychecks under his belt, then doing all these $$ projects will just fall into place.
In the meantime, while Mark is still here during the day, we can focus on things like cleaning out the gutters, weed whacking some of the gardens that are more weeds than anything else, we need a "chain saw" day to cut down/back/apart some of the wood that we have on the property. We've definitely started a list of things that need to happen around here. So just when you think we'll get a nice...long....break - BAM! Dust off your shoulders, give your sleeves another roll, slap each other on the ass and get back to it LOL!
Hey, if you give me a little bit to create the post, we are going to update the Mabel the Milking Goat blog - we'll have pictures and videos and all kinds of info about how and why we get our milk from our back yard. Check it out!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Just a quick note to say...


Friday, August 24, 2012

Side by Side

So much change in just two years!

Back to School

Good morning,
Gage, Drake and Cora - first day of school!
Cora and Daddy, killing some time before her school starts.

I cannot believe that summer is officially over and that school has begun. All three kids are starting new schools and we were a bundle of nerves on the first day. This is the first year that everyone got off, without a single tear. Ahh...they are getting so big. 
That first picture, above, is the three of them together - every year, we take that first morning picture and it's always the same...we are in the rush of getting out the door, and I stop and say, alright, time for a picture - they stop, turn around and line up - all sleepy eyed. I say "act like you like each other" and this is what I get. A great picture of my sweet babies. We drop each of them of at their schools - typically in a flurry of "you have your lunch? you have your backpack? you have everything you need?" Hugs, kisses, I love yous and off they go. My kids are pretty awesome. They are similar enough to get along, but different enough that they can learn from each other. They all have their father's sense of humor...meaning that they are hilarious. They are all so intelligent and fascinating and gorgeous! We are very lucky parents. I'm hoping for a great year for each of them. It's already starting pretty good - they each hopped off their busses in the afternoon and told us about their days and how they aren't too bad....

Same kiddos...same time...last year :-)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It's late...I'm tired

It was a long day at work for me. It's 11:30 PM and I just got home. It was nice to meet up with a bunch of my co-workers from a different team. I work for a great company and I'm blessed with an awesome job.
AND while I was gone, Mark kicked butt on the barn roof. There are technically 4 tiers to our barn roof, two larger areas on the sides and two smaller areas near the peak. Well, he has put the shingles up entirely on the two larger areas!!!! He.is.awesome.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday, Monday...start at the bottom :-)

Mark has been doing an amazing job with the roof. He's all the way to top of the first layer, on the right side and working his way across. By the looks of it, he might be done by this Friday! Which would be AMAZING!

Same side of the roof - slightly different angle.

Mark - on the roof!

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE the shingles?

Seriously, aren't the shingles awesome!

...and because I thought you could use some farm cuteness...There is Ollie and Jester in the barn hallway, snuggling.

My first attempt at canning grape jelly...which ended up more like grape sauce.

Putting the grapes through the food mill. Kinda not so attractive.

Grape skins and canning jars.

Grape skins.


How the grapes started.

Starting to de-skin.

Grape skins.

Um...this is going to take longer than I thought!

Frankie has the most beautiful eyes.

Itty, Frankie and Steve snuggling under their favorite bush.
This weekend started pretty rough. I got a phone call on Friday morning. It was my mother calling to say that her best friend, since 3rd grade, passed away unexpectedly. She was heartbroken. I grabbed a shower and took a PTO day and went to be with my parents. It was tough to see how hurt my parents are, but I'm so glad I had the opportunity to be there to support them.
The next two days, we spent working on the barn - we NEED to get the shingles up. With the cooler weather, it's been a constant reminder of winter and thus the need to give our animals a comfortable home. The open shelter of a barn has been great during the hot summer we've had - but now we need to finish the siding and the roof...hence the rush of activity you are seeing here.
Sunday - well, that was the official, back to school shopping day. The kids had some extra money burning holes in their pockets, so we took them to a few places of their choice to look at video games and clothes. We grabbed school supplies and a ton of groceries.
I also tried to make grape jelly..and well...not so much. Meh! Next time :-)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

More to follow...

We've been working on the barn a lot lately. We have all the remaining siding (that we had) put up. We've been working on the shingles and making good progress.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Tonight we had not one, but two, orientations. Each of our three youngest are transitioning to new schools this year. Gage is a Freshman, Drake is in 6th and his first year in the middle school, and Cora is going into a secondary elementary school. Sometimes it's hard to believe that those tiny little babies that I gave birth to 14, nearly 11 and nearly 9 years ago are already turning into these amazing, young people. They aren't babies anymore (although they will always be my babies)...they aren't toddlers (although there are days I miss this pacifier sucking, fuzzy blanket snuggling little ones)...they are intelligent, handsome/beautiful, interesting, hilarious, talented creatures and I absolutely adore each of them.
Tonight was Drake and Gage's orientations I'm so excited for them. Each starting this scary new chapter in their lives. They'll be successful...I know they will.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

More Progress!

Another day...more progress!

Monday, August 13, 2012

What a difference a day makes :-)

Starting this morning...

First upper level piece of siding going up!

A beautiful Passion Flower, these just randomly grow on the property, thanks to the previous owners!

Mark, obviously focusing on safety LOL.

That's better!

Mark stole the camera and forced a picture of me!
...and here's where we ended for the day. Not too shabby - considering that Mark and I were on our own today.
And with that - I'm so tired. Time for "quiet time" with Mark and off to bed. Back to work tomorrow!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Today at the Homestead

As promised, we went back to work on the barn today. We are worried that with this sudden transition to cooler weather, that fall...then winter will be heading our way and we won't have our animals prepared. Today, Mark's brother, Jon, came and spent the entire day helping us working on getting the 2x4s that the siding will attach to. We also framed out the upper level doors and put rails on either side.
Tomorrow - we'll be back at it. I feel accomplished.
Me and Mark's brother, Jon, working on the barn.
Itty, Frankie, Ollie, and Jester playing "King of the Hill" with our bench.
Steve and Jester - hanging out in the pasture.

Mark and Jon - giving me a heart attack! Be careful Mark!

Safety first Mark!

Mark and Jon.
Steve's so dreamy LOL
Drake and his Uncle Jon - close up!
Drake and his Uncle Jon on the upper level of the barn.
Mark and Jon, working on the barn

Bringing sexy back!

It was brought to my attention that, when I work on the farm, I don't always bring the sexy back ;-) It's true...many times I'm out there in the night prior's PJs and wait for it...my super awesome rubber boots that are pink/purple with GOLD roosters (Thanks TSC!). I find that there is no reason to "dress for success" when I'm out there raking up poo! However, I will now present you with a handful of photos where I'm looking all cleaned up and purty ...Enjoy!
Picking out a treat from Hershey's Chocolate World, Hershey, PA.
Milking Mabel, out in the driveway...before we had the stand in the barn :-)
Me with Cora and Drake
Good morning time!
In January, before I chopped my hair :-)
About a month ago, after I chopped about 10 inches off my hair.
So see...I'm not always all dolled up, but when I do, I clean up pretty good :-)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Hay Delivery and Farm Tour

Hey - who is that handsome man? That's my Mark!
Our makeshift hay bale ramp
Same tool - from a different angle
Drake, his friend Eion, Cora and me - waiting to help pull the hay up.
I have to admit - Mark is pretty freaking smart. This process makes lifting bales of hay to the second level SO MUCH EASIER
Five bales up - four to go! One more will go on the main level to feed the animals from.
Push Mark, PUSH!
Pull kids! PULL!!!
The young men, after some muscle building exercises!
Me and kids, minus Gage...hey! Where IS Gage?? Probably playing video games.
Ollie! I see you!
Cora and Eion...Love Cora's outfit LOL
Eion helping the animals reach the yummy pine.
You can reach it Mabel!
Blossom and Josie wondering why I'm out there with the camera.
Drake and Eion - playing with the animals.
Stretch Flora! You can reach!
Eion and Drake - hanging with the animals.
Jeremiah -the bullfrog that apparently lives in our barn!
Hi Frankie!
Is it wrong that when I look at Frankie, all I can think about it what a beautiful sweater she is going to make??
Josie and Blossom in the pen.
Steve and Jester in the pen.
Itty and Frankie in the pen.

Mabel and Flora in the pen.
Whew - what a busy morning. I took a MUCH needed PTO day today and Monday. Today was to help Mark with morning chores - we had a lot of rain last night and the pens were a MESS. We needed to get the animals out to pasture and rake the pens, add hay and minerals for everyone and then cover the floors in pine shavings. We let Steve and Itty out to pasture and it seems that everyone was playing nicely together (with the exception of Mabel - who was as bossy and pushy as ever - it really bothers me when she just butts into the side of Itty...I'm worried that she is going to reinjure her). After this post, I'm going to grab a quick shower and then we are taking the kids to Jungle Jims International Market. Gage wants his party tomorrow to have an international theme - so I'm hoping that Jungle Jims will have a different snacks for everyone to try out. I took Monday off, since we are hoping to get back to working on siding and roof shingles on the barn and get that finished before the cooler fall (and eventually winter) weather comes in. It works just fine, now that the weather is still warm. But soon, school will be starting and we'll be busy with all that comes with that. Plus we need to have the final inspections on the barn and make sure that we are all set with the county.
I will end this post with a video of the barn/pasture area....Enjoy!