Farm Life

Farm Life

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Don't have the money? Improvise!

    I love pretty things. I can muck around in cow manure all day, but I love to come home to appealing, and comfortable surroundings. I try not to decorate my home with too much feminine flair as I really am not the type, and I have four boys, and a husband that share my dwelling. We are building a log cabin, and I have had my eye on wrought iron chandeliers for lighting. I love the heavy duty look and the craftsmanship that goes into these pieces. I really appreciate the hard labor and the skills used to create such fine art work! Some day I would love to compensate a blacksmith for time spent handcrafting me the chandelier of my dreams, but while raising four boys and building a house, sadly it is not in my budget. They range in price from hundreds of dollars to thousands! My dad has a small forge, and it is fun to help him create needful things for the farm, but chandeliers are a little beyond our expertise! So what is a farm girl to do? Well, improvise, of course! I hit the junk shops and yard sales until I found just what I was looking for. The tag said $22, but that was more than I wanted to part with. I walked away with this exciting new project for $15! Oh, I knew this was going to be fun.......
My yard sale purchase before......

    To achieve the wrought iron look, I purchased two cans of flat black spray paint. Then, I got to work. The results were just what I was looking for. This will hang in the living room of my new log home. I think this chandelier will do until I can someday purchase an authentic work of art. 

After a can and a half of flat black spray paint.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Boy And His Frog And A Monkey In A Tree

    I love raising four boys. It's fun and adventurous. It's rough and tumble, and we can do wild and crazy things! Boy stuff. I love that! God has blessed me greatly! But, I am the only female influence in my home, and I am in charge of the emotional kind of thing. I hug and hold when I know it hurts inside. When a knee is scraped or an elbow is bleeding, it always helps to run to mama for a kiss, and a hug, and then some patching up. I believe that the hug and kiss help to heal better than the bandaide does. It's the hug that stops the crying, not the bandage. You distract with chatter while you clean and cover the wound, and before they know it, all is better. They turn and run back to doing whatever it was that got them into the hurt in the first place. It's a boy's logic after all. This thing that hurt them needs to be conquered, so let's try it again! But, what about their little hearts? Little boy heart's hurt sometimes too, and this is much harder to patch up. So, what is a mama to do? First, I try to avoid heart break if I can. Who wants to go through that? If that fails, then there is hugs, kisses, and mending up. Then? Distraction. The same method I use for physical ailments. A good example of this very heart break happened just days ago for my five year old son. While I relaxed on the lawn on Sunday afternoon, he was doing little boy things, which never involves sitting still. Amidst running his fastest, and riding his bike through the giant mud puddle, he happened upon a little toad. He ran to me wearing an excited grin, and asked, "can I keep him?!?!" Why is this always the question? With four boys, I have heard this asked often. My answer is always the same. "No. They need to go back to their family." Frequently, I have been begged to keep mice, frogs, salamanders, snails, moles, snakes, fish, baby rabbits, baby birds.....and the list of wild creatures stretches to no end! The reason I refuse to hold a wild creature captive is because no wild thing does well in captivity. If we set up a home, and work hard to create a wild like environment, study what they want for supper, and diligently tend them, inevitably they will die. Sooner, rather than later. I know this little friend will not last, and heart break will be just around the corner. As a mom, my instinct is to protect these little boy hearts from sadness. So, I prevent. My son used his afternoon to play with his "best friend". He named him "Peaches" and raced him across the lawn. He introduced him to our dog, Maggie. He patted his rough back, and inspected his little toad feet. All the while I warned that he would be letting him "go home" soon. When the afternoon grew late it was time to say goodbye, and as he let his friend go, he cried. Mama hugged.

The next day Peaches came back! I have no idea why this toad would subject himself to another day of "playing" with a five year old, but it looked like the same toad to me! A few hours of play ensued, and then another "goodbye". But this time, my son wasn't sad. This frog was going to come visit him every day! How excited he was! Mama was surprised. The next morning my son scrambled outside to find Peaches and embark upon a new day of adventures. He quickly returned, stomping through the house until he reached daddy. With a trembling lip and a mad frown, he managed to say, "daddy, you ran over Peaches!" A burst of tears and a loud cry followed as he buried his saddened face into my chest while clutching the remains of his "best friend". My husband stood in the kitchen with a bewildered look on his face. He mouthed the words, "who is Peaches?!?!" above the head of our grieving son. He was horrified when a tear slid down my cheek. What had he run over? Who's world had ended? What was going on? Were just a few of the questions running through my poor husband's head! Our son turned and ran outside. I quickly caught my husband up on the details and he immediately felt bad. He didn't know there was a frog named Peaches lurking in the driveway, waiting for a little boy to come play! My tears were for the hurting boy that struggled to deal with the loss of his friend. The frog was laid out on our steps, and then checked on throughout the day by my little boy to see if he was indeed still dead. Heart wrenching to watch. But then, there is still distraction........
       Later that night, my husband and I heard a loud crashing noise outside. It was obvious that a tree had fallen. Apparently, a rare tornado went through, and sent a large tree toppling towards our home! The morning light revealed a huge poplar tree lying across our front lawn. My husband didn't even notice our new lawn accessory as he hurried off to work. (Talk about slowing down to smell the roses! How about slowing down to see the jungle upon your lawn!?!?)

Soon, a five year old nose was squished against the glass and a surprised and excited expression followed. "Wow! I'm going to go play in the tree!" he squealed as he pulled on his shoes as quickly as he could. Meanwhile, I made plans to get out the chainsaw, and remove "the mess" from our lawn. As I ventured outside with the task on my mind, I stopped and inspected the beauty that engulfed my yard. My son excitedly played amongst the tree tops and called to me through the canopy of leaves. I returned for my camera.

       He climbed high and peaked through the green. The leaves hung down and around constructing a jungle like atmosphere. It mimicked a cave, and created a natural jungle gym. This was the distraction! I decided that today is not the day to disassemble this fun and dreamy playland. I plan to sit inside it's lush confines and have a mini escape from the day. When else can you linger in the tree tops? Touch where the birds sit, and walk where the squirrels chatter? Today, the thoughts of a dear departed friend are not the topic. Tree tops and flittering leaves encompass our minds, and it's happiness once again. Arms laden with greenery wrap around us and secure our play place. So, we'll lay "Peaches" quietly to rest, and today we'll squeal like monkeys as we leap from limb to limb.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Cabin In The Woods Part II: Wrestling Logs

    When the long winter slowly started to bloom into spring, I longingly looked out the window with only one thing on my mind.... Pine logs. I know, this is not a normal thing for a woman to dream about, and I was hoping for blooming gardens, and green grass too, but pine logs had ruled my dreams, and plans all winter. I knew what I had to do to prepare them, how many we would likely need, and as soon as things were thawed out, I took to stripping the bark off the large mountain of logs. This was tedious work, although the longer the logs sat, the easier it became. As soon as I had a few logs ahead, we would set them onto the footing we had poured the previous autumn. Each log was hand selected by my dad for straightness, and compatibility with the lower log. We would set the log, level it, and finally pin it into place. Slowly, the logs began to resemble the makings of a house! I could see results! However, with only my dad, myself, and two boys, as the height of the walls grew, so did our plans to set them up there. We used my dad's truck to drag the logs into position.

Dragging logs to the building site.
     Getting the logs higher and higher proved quite difficult, but anything you put your mind to....
My dad, working with the pulleys.
Pulling a log into place with our pulley system.
 We set up a pulley system and then used the truck to pull one end up and sometimes the other, although many times we got on the end of the rope and heaved the logs up into position manually. The boys and I would pull on the rope, sending it up to my dad, who would then secure it to the top of the wall. We could only use the truck where we had access, and this left us pulling by hand on the backside of the cabin, and for the top layers of logs.
Myself, drilling holes for re-bar.
     The logs were secured together by drilling holes and hammering in re-bar through the top log into the lower log.
Getting ready to drive re-bar.

    Driving re-bar with a sledge hammer, over your head, this high up, is not for those that fear heights! I am not terrified of heights, but on the last layer, at over twelve feet high, my dad had to take over for me. He has nerves of steel, I think. Safety harnesses would have been a great idea, but we were up and down the walls too often to bother.
    My boys pitched in and helped pin logs, and provided the farm boy power we needed to help heft the heavy pine logs into place. Eben worked in high places, while Ethan preferred jobs that allowed his feet to firmly touch the ground.
Eben, helping to secure a log.

Ethan, clearing some trees, and brush.

 Log by log, and layer by layer the log walls have grown. I kept insisting after each layer that we needed another, until now I have a three story house! Originally, I planned for a cathedral ceiling, but life has changed since then, and we have added three more people to our little family of three. The third story will make a great place for the two oldest boys, and they are quite excited about it. 
    After getting all of the logs into place, and secured, we needed to turn our attention to the ridge pole that would be placed high at the peak of the roof, atop two, twenty-four foot beams. How would we manage to hoist it up there? More planning needed to be done to figure this one out before we attempted to put this into action......