Farm Life

Farm Life

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Stop to smell the roses....and the zinnias.

(My niece, Addaline smelling the Zinnias.)

       My husband and I are very different. When we venture out for a walk, he has a goal. A finish line. A place he needs to get quickly as possible! He doesn't let the grass grow under his feet and he has a purpose. We balance each other out and make a great team. He's responsible, dependable, and loving. However, our personalities could not be more different.
I dilly dally. I stop and check out the new kind of bug that meanders across my path. I notice my surroundings in detail. I take it all in and let it surround all my senses. It's therapeutic for me and it's not a race.
(Trillium bud aka stinkin' Benjamin)
I notice the little buds on the trees and bunny tracks on the edge of the road. I see the little orange newt that he almost stepped on and pick him up for a minute to admire him and smile as he tickles my palm with his little feet. I let him go safely in the ditch, so that racing feet do not put an abrupt end to his existence. I gaze upon the pastures and notice the birds flitting about and butterflies kissing flowers. I hear the bees as they hurry by with pollen dusted legs.

(Apple blossoms.)
I search deep into the woods with my eyes, hoping for a glimpse of undisturbed life. The brook sings a peaceful lullaby as I reluctantly pass her by. Moss grows in bright beautiful hues and captures rocks and fallen trees that lay in it's path. I hear a wood pecker enjoying a meal deep in the forest hidden by the greenery. A squirrel scolds me as he runs for higher ground. A crow calls out a warning and flies out of sight.
The wild flowers are beautiful and free for the taking, so I stop to pick a fresh bouquet for my farmhouse table.
I stick my nose into the center of these beauties and take in the sweet aroma. "Aren't these beautiful?" I ask.....myself. My husband is no where to be seen. Apparently he has reached his destination without taking in a thing except for the fresh air.
    Too many times we find ourselves too busy to enjoy what surrounds us. It may be nature, animals, or even people. How many times have we told our children, "I don't have time". When really, all they want is to show you their new super hero move or how tall they have gotten. How about that pretty little dandelion that a chubby little hand thrusts towards you?
(Picking dandelions for mommy.)
Did you see that grin? Have you taken a step back and watched your child as they have played and really savored the moment? The moment that will NEVER come again. It's gone. It's fleeting. They are growing and moving on through life.
       I have noticed that my dad, although very busy, always stops and literally smells my antique roses every time he passes them. Every time!
Why don't we do that more often? For just a moment? A mere moment in the years that make up your life. Have you played with your dog or meandered through your pasture to pat the soft nose of your horse? Have you climbed up into an old apple tree to pluck fresh fruit for your enjoyment? How about rolling up your pant legs to dangle your bare feet in the rushing stream, or lying in the cool grass staring into a deep blue sky while white puffy clouds take shape? What about a simple path through the deepness of the forest? Have you walked it? Do you ever sit still by the lake and watch the dragonflies flit about, while fish jump for supper? Have you sat on the porch in the evening to enjoy the fireflies as they light the night with whimsical flickering? Just for fun? Just to take it all in? For no reason whatsoever? We are blessed. Just look around you. No. I mean, really look around you. Take it all in. Take the time to smell the roses................

...and the zinnias.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

For Father's Day

     Not everyone has a dad, and many do not have a good dad. One of the greatest blessings in my life is to have the best dad that a girl could ever be gifted. God gave me an exceptional dad!

    God also made me just like my dad. We share many interests. We both love white water canoeing and adventures in the woods. We both love to create. Our collaboration on my cabin will be interesting and my home will be like no other. We are in love with farming and it consumes us. We both enjoy being alone in the woods. We seek solace there. We both have inherited the stubborn gene from my great-grandmother and our determination propels us. My dad is the hardest working person I know besides my grandfather. My work ethic was instilled in me early in life, and I am happiest at work with my dad.
     Many strangers, at first meeting are a little scared of my dad. They are met with a stern look and a big grizzly beard, but my dad is one of the most kind hearted men you will ever meet. Don't get me wrong. In such an event that he has to, he becomes a warrior for his family. Believe me! I have seen it! He is not someone that you want to battle against!! At the same time, he has a giving heart. The man would give the food off his plate or the hole ridden boots off his feet. He has very little monetary wealth, but he counts his blessings in grandchildren. He always says, "the most important crop that we grow is children."

Each one is in love with this Grampa and each longs to follow him day and night. From the toddling babies to the growing teenagers, they all march after Grampa like he's the Pied Piper. The tune he plays for them is of kindness, but is firm. Lovable and playful. He's a listener and a corrector. An example. My dad is the best example any child could ever have. He doesn't compromise his beliefs for anything. He is as firm as an old oak tree. He believes his Christian values are worth fighting for and he is steadfast. He is fair and just.
     His sense of humor has been passed along to us girls. He loves to sit in the dark and scare any passerby to the point of tears. This past time is enjoyed by us all. My sister and I have inherited this strange sense of humor. You know, the Mr. Bean type of humor? The British comedy loving sense of humor? Some people just don't get us, but oh the fun and laughter that ensues when we start joking around! I love many of the attributes that I have gained from my dad, but his bad luck is one that I wished I had dodged. Our luck is so bad that people joke about it! Many times it is just laughable. The things that go wrong are unbelievable! Some events have been so funny that they have inspired a book that I am currently writing at the expense of my dear dad! So, with this in mind, one of our desires for adventure is quite upsetting to my mom. Our dream to build our own ultralight and soar above the tree tops is always cut short by an angry mother who insists that we are going to die! The fear is that we will get high above the farm, and as we take in the grandeur of what God has created, we will hear a sputter. "Did you fill the fuel tank?" one of us will ask the other. "No. I thought you filled the tank!" will be the reply. I think you know the rest of the story......

Friday, June 13, 2014

Cabin In The Woods PART I : Log Cabin Dreams

 For as long as I can remember, I have had log cabin dreams. I grew up in a log cabin on a farm, and I love the woods. I've ran wild through the woods as a child and have had favorite camp sites deep within her safe confines. A love for the woods is what has fueled this passion I have for living in it's midst, in a dwelling that blends seamlessly into the forest landscape.
I love the sounds of the woodland creatures when I am still. I listen quietly and hear the birds in a flutter. The squirrels scold me as I stroll through their homeland. At night, the peepers sing me to sleep. I love to take in the chorus of the crickets, and the shrill answer from one owl to another. I love the moss captured rocks and  the pine needle carpets. I appreciate how the sun filters through any unguarded sky and casts it's beams upon tender vegetation.
I could sit by a babbling brook and lose track of time and reality, only to be lulled into a dreamy state.

Autumn brings a beauty and a feeling that warms my soul while it cools my surroundings. A crispness fills the air and a vivid display follows. The forest floor hides beneath a scattering of color.
Snow brings peaceful protection to my oasis. Heavily laden branches hang low bearing beauty. But, most of all, I love the protection I feel amongst my sky high green guardians. Their arms reach out and envelope my surroundings in a lush beauty, hiding me from existence.
If I didn't have my beautiful family (I'm SO very glad that I do), I could easily become a hermit. I would be happy that way. Alone. Quiet. Free. I know, I am not the norm, but I like it that way. I'm different, and I like that about me. I enjoy that about the forest. No people. Don't get me wrong. I love people and certain people I could not live without, but I love time with no people. It re-energizes me. It clears my mind and affords me the patience to enter the civilized world again. I need to live here among nature and it's occupants. Animals are my neighbors and how peaceful that notion is to me. So, I will live within my passion.
    I started with a dream, and then picked out the piece of forest that would lend it's arms to my log habitat. On 175 acres, I searched for the perfect spot. I found a little opening at the edge of a field. A place my dad had cut and yarded logs with our Belgian work horse team. An opening big enough for a cabin to hide itself from the world. Perfect. My goal was to build a small log cabin for myself and my two boys mortgage free. This was when I was a single mom with two young boys. As the dream has progressed through the years it has now become the future home for myself, my husband, and my four boys. We had to plan for a few extra bedrooms, but the plan is still on a very small scale. The home is only 20'x24', but in the future we hope for an addition. The porch will add a lot of much needed living space too.
    My next course of action was to start collecting salvaged building supplies, and anything free that I could find. I came upon a chimney being torn down in town and stopped by to see if the bricks could be purchased. I bought the entire chimney for $40. I had to load them, but with good deals usually comes labor. Just recently, I added to our brick supply with bricks that I purchased for ten cents a piece! I have hauled many a window with the help of my dad, from the land fill pile. I combed the many "free for the taking" ads and came home with a truck load of old farmhouse doors! My big doors that will find their new home on the south end of my home, used to be sliding glass doors. They were on the trash pile at the dump. I will paint the wood, add unique wrought iron hinges, and door knobs. My old claw foot tub was a great find at $40. I found a $3 buffet at a yard sale and with some elbow grease turned it into a beautiful bar for my kitchen. My cabinets are all thrifty purchases and some were made by my great-grandfather. A friend sold me some beautiful interior doors and all my light fixtures are handmade by me. I am still on the search for more supplies, but this has kept my cost down considerably!
($3 buffet before...)
(...after. Kitchen bar.)

(Hutch. Free beside the road. Before...)

   Next, I rented an excavator to do my land work. I dug my well all by myself! I must say, I am proud of that accomplishment. This is one of the perks of being brought up on a farm. You are taught at an early age to run a myriad of equipment. My dad dug the footing for the cabin as I am not quite that good. My dad is an expert after a lifetime of farming. I then rented a stump grinder and got quite a harsh workout. That was a long day! Then came big brush piles and many nights of burning. I am all about saving every penny on this project so, bringing in rock to fill the footings and cover the inside of the cabin floor only made sense to save on cement costs. For two whole summers I used the skid steer to load rock from old rock walls and then emptied the contents for the base of my cabin. This was back breaking work, but I kept reminding myself  how much money I was saving. I didn't have the money to spend and I had to do what I had to do! After this was completed, it was time for the cement work. My dad and I worked up the cement with our old green cement mixer. We then stuck rebar into the footings to attach our first layer of logs to. I was so proud of our job as we left that evening. My dream was in the works and I could see progress......but, when you live on a farm things do not always go as planned. We have cows.
If you have ever had cows then you know how cows can be. Nosey. Very nosey. They cannot mind their own business and so neither could they in this case. When I entered my work area to inspect our work from the previous evening, I was horrified! My rebar was all cockeyed and sideways. The cement had set and so had the rebar. Cow patties in my work place were the only sign as to who the destruction belonged. It was then that I declared that the cows were heading for the freezer, and I was going to be a flower farmer! We still have the cows.
    Now my dream was beginning to take shape and I could see the outline of what would be my cabin. Now it was time for the logs. This next step was so exciting to me and I began to plan out every aspect over the long winter months. I decided to purchase a load of logs rather than cut them ourselves to save time and save the trouble for my dad. When warmer weather arrived we would begin on the walls! I could not wait for that spring to arrive......