Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fall has Arrived

This past summer seemed to fly by, and seemingly unawares, fall has now crept in. The nights are chillier (it was 44 degrees when I went outside to do chores this morning!), leaves are falling in rapid succession to the ground, the air has a crisp, 'fallish' feel to it, the pumpkins are ready to harvest, farmers are beginning to harvest the corn, and it will not be long before the soybeans will be harvested, too. What a delightful season this is! It is one of my favorite times of year, and I have been enjoying it greatly thus far. Especially these past few days!

As the last post indicated, we have been very busy lately, and many days were spent out at Ryan's place or we were away from home elsewhere. So it has been especially nice this week to be able to stay at home . . . to settle back into routine a bit . . . bake bread, sew, make cards, clean the house, catch up on laundry, practice music . . . need I say that it has been very pleasant?!

Looking across the yard towards the chicken coop . . . note the bare trees in the front right. These trees, along with the walnuts, always lose their leaves before the other ones!

Leah and Mandy
Leah was out playing with her this afternoon, and it was so fun watching them. Mandy is very entertaining!

The changing colors of the Burning Bush

Me harvesting the pie pumpkins

Despite the fact that tomorrow marks the first day of October, certain plants in the garden continue to produce!

The pepper plants have done very well this year! And are still producing prolifically

The one, lone, worn-out looking zucchini plant has a zucchini growing on it!

This was the surprise in the garden, though . . . part of the watermelon plants had started to regrow and there are melons growing on them! Out of curiosity, I'm going to leave them there and see how far along they get before the first frost. :)

And for a little new news that occurred today . . . we got our first egg from our pullets! It is always exciting when the first egg is laid. :)

The first eggs are always small and this one is definitely that! It is probably 1/3 to 1/2 the size of a 'regular' egg.

So that is a little glimpse of some of the changes and happenings occurring here on our little place in Missouri!

Monday, September 28, 2009

House Update #2

So much was able to be done on the house this past week! Many hours were filled with carrying boards, nailing, measuring, squaring, thinking, and then with a pleasant mixture of laughter and fun included. The first thing we worked on was the walls, and it was so exciting to see them going up and being nailed in place! I think that has been my favorite part so far, though putting on the sheets of OSB (which is kind of like plywood) was pretty exciting, too, as it felt like a lot of progress was made in a short amount of time. And as usual, a lot of photos were taken over the course of this past week, and here are some of them which should give you all a pretty good idea of what has been going on out at Ryan's place :) (oh, and just a note, we're wearing the sunglasses while we work as it gets so bright out there on sunny afternoons with the sun reflecting off of all the boards that without them, it doesn't take long for eyes to start hurting and headaches to begin! We have said on more than one occasion how thankful we are for such a little thing as sunglasses!) . . .

Ryan measuring and marking one of the bottom plates

Dad showing Mom how to tell if a board is straight

I sure have been learning a lot more about construction through this process! Never before had I heard of boards called "cripples", "kings", or any of the other descriptive terms given to the various 'pieces' of the wall . . . but now they've become quite familiar! And little by little, we ladies are learning how to tell if a board is warped and/or bowed and if it is slight enough to get by or if it is a 'discard' board. :)

Dad sawing a board for one of the walls

One of Ryan's friends loaned him a nail gun which makes the construction go a great deal faster. We are so thankful for his generosity in letting us use it!

Ryan and Mom putting together one of the walls

Two of the walls are up! Two more to go . . .

While Ryan and Dad have done the bulk of the actual construction, we ladies have stayed busy carrying 2 x 6's and sheets of OSB, measuring, marking, cleaning up, holding boards, and the like. I also had the opportunity to use the nail gun some and helped nail together part of a wall (Leah did, too :), finished nailing the walls to the floor, and then Dad let me nail part of a piece of OSB on as well. It was fun to do, though, I cannot imagine using the nailer for a long period of time as it is heavy!

Leah drilling some holes in a board that was going to be used for something that I am not sure what it is called. :)

Sometimes construction uses rather unconventional methods . . . at least for us! Such as standing on the warped boards to hold them in place. :)

Mom and Leah during one of their breaks

As we worked on the house, we were noticing a lot of cattle trailers pulling onto the highway off of a gravel road opposite Ryan's (it seems to be the season for selling and hauling cattle right now!) Well, during one of our breaks, we realized where all of those cattle were coming from . . . from the pasture opposite of Ryan's place! We were all sitting there, when we noticed a couple of riders crest the hill and start moving the cattle. I managed to snap the below photo before they disappeared over the ridge . . .

Once our break was finished, it was back to work . . .

Ryan showing Leah how to reload the nail gun which is something she did on more than one occasion after this!
Me using the nail gun for the first time . . . Ryan offered to let Leah and I try to use it and then showed us how.

Dad and Ryan after putting up part of the third wall - it was so large that we saved the very end of it to do separately as we were not sure if we could lift the whole thing at once!

One of the very helpful diagrams that Ryan and Mom made together

Dad and Ryan nailing together the last wall

It was quite exciting when it came time to hoist up the last wall!

It's going up! (The self-timer on my camera came in handy for this photo. :)

The walls are all up now!

So that was Friday (and part of the previous Wednesday, too. :) Saturday we had planned to spend the day out there again, but the morning dawned with rainy weather. Thankfully it cleared up by afternoon, and we were able to head out to Ryan's place. We were joined there by a friend of ours who was a huge help! Much of Saturday the progress wasn't very noticeable as most of the time was spent squaring the walls, and that took quite awhile. But when the sheets of OSB started to go on, things really seemed to be going fast!

Ryan working on squaring up the walls

Mom and I figuring out where to mark a line to show where the OSB needed to be nailed at (we did not have to do this very often as the lines on the sheets of OSB usually lined up pretty well with the studs.)

Putting on another piece of OSB

Dad nailing
At the end of the day . . . and ready to finish up for the evening

We went out for a few hours yesterday afternoon as well, and were able to get up some more OSB as well as finish up the headers above the windows and the door . . .

We're on the second layer now!

Mom and I getting the next sheet of OSB - we carried a lot these together this day!

Leah helping to hold up a sheet of OSB while Ryan nailed it on

And this is as far as the house is now!

While there have been some long and tiring days so far, we are all so enjoying this time together and to be working towards a common goal of helping Ryan to build his first house on his own land. It has been a very exciting time for all of us to see his dream coming to fruition!

The next big step on the house is the trusses . . . they're being delivered today, and we hope to get started on putting those up this week/weekend. We might have to try to recruit more help for this step, though, as it is going to be quite the job getting the cumbersome and heavy trusses up on top of the house and fastened in place! We have another very busy week ahead of us, and I am sure that there will be much more to share before long! :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

At the Reunion

After the visit out to the homestead, we gathered back at the reunion site for visiting, reminiscing, and the big evening meal. The time spent visiting was so enjoyable to me, and I was able to have wonderful conversations with some older relatives. I always love talking with them! I also had the pleasure of playing 'ball' with a little three year old boy for awhile . . . he was such a sweetie, and Leah and I both enjoyed spending time with him!

Dad and Aunt Frances

Mom getting things ready on the dessert table

Dishes time!

Great-Aunt Frances, Leah, me, and Great-Uncle Otto

The gentleman in the above photo is my great-uncle (my grandpa's, sister's husband), and he is 93 years old. I visited with him for quite some time, and he was sharing with me much enjoyed stories of his growing up years. One of those stories was about his Dad helping to catch some cattle rustlers, and as Uncle Otto is such a good story teller, this tale was especially intriguing to hear! I was so thankful for the time that I was able to spend talking with him, and only wish that it could have lasted longer!

The hours seemed to pass by so quickly on Saturday, and before long, it was time to head back to our motel for the night. After a fairly good night's rest, we were all up the next morning and loading the truck up as after the morning brunch, we were going to head back to Missouri. When Leah and I brought the keys to our room back, the lady who runs the motel was there in the office. After giving her the keys, I thanked her for their bold witness for Christ with the Bibles and tracts in the rooms. Her face lit up after I said this, and then commenced a wonderful little visit with her which was a blessing to both Leah and I. It is always an encouragement to meet those who have a mutual love for the Lord and the desire to live for Him! And it was especially an encouragement as we were not expecting it! As we'll be staying at the same motel in the coming years when we go up to the reunion, I am looking forward to possibly visiting with her more.

The last few hours spent at the reunion were quite enjoyable, and we made the most of that time! From talking, laughing, planning the next years' reunion, cleaning-up, and more, it was a wonderful time. Then came the goodbyes . . . and then we were on the road again. The drive home always seems longer than the drive up, and it was definitely the case this time! Mom, Leah and I were all so tired we could hardly keep our eyes open. Whenever we travel, we always like to have at least one person besides the driver (Dad) awake to keep him company, so we ladies took turns resting. :) The hours on the road slowly passed, and at last we turned onto our familiar country road and then pulled into our driveway. We were home! And thus was the end of our wonderful weekend. Many enjoyable times were had over those days, and there were many special memories made as well . . . and now we can all look forward to next year!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Visit to the Homestead

This past Saturday morning dawned early, and we were all up and ready to head down to the reunion site before long. As we pulled into the park drive, we began to see familiar faces. There were not many people there at first, but the ones who were there, we had such a wonderful time visiting with! Many we had not seen since the year before and some, we had not met before and it was also their first time to come to the reunion. We spent much of the morning visiting, catching up on the past year, and looking at some of the historical family photos that others had brought to share (which were really neat to see!) Then we began planning a little 'field trip' . . .

It has become an annual reunion tradition for at least some of us to visit the homestead of my great-great grandfather, Joseph Pelc, who homesteaded in Spencer, Nebraska. The farm is not owned by anyone in our family now, but the farmer who does own it is kind enough to let us go out there. This year, we, along with quite a few others, headed out to the farm Saturday morning. The buildings have deteriorated significantly more since last year which was sad to see. The barn looks like it is about ready to come down, and I would be surprised if it remains standing for very many more years. The house has holes in the roof now which will make the house deterioration progress even more rapidly than it already has been. But even with all of this, it was still wonderful to be able to see the old buildings and to go inside of them (though, I only ventured a little ways into the barn this time!) When looking at these impressive buildings, it is hard to believe that my great-great grandfather built them!

The house is one of my favorite styles of houses (I love old farmhouses!), and knowing that it is a part of my family heritage makes it even more special (the house was lived in by not only my great-great-grandparents, but my great-grandfather, great-grandmother and grandpa as well. My Dad also remembers visiting his grandparents at the house, too.)

It is difficult to see the house in this photo as the trees have grown up around it, but here is what it looked like (from a different angle) many, many years ago . . .

The house in the early 1900's with my great-great grandfather and other unidentified family members in front of it (the little building to the right of the house is where they lived prior to them building the big house. And before that, they lived in a sod-house.)

Photographing, visiting and exploring . . . just some of the things taking place while out at the homestead

Inside the house . . . reminiscing about old times

A taste of the beautiful woodwork in the house . . . from the bannister to the doors, to the trim, to the hardwood floors, to the wainscoating down in the dining room, the woodwork is amazing!

Some of the family visiting

The sadly neglected, once beautiful screen door

The barn

Leah opening the half-door to look inside the barn

Me walking around the barn which led to some photos such as this one . . .

The walls of the barn are beginning to not only lean, but to buckle and break as well.

The corn crib with an adjoining chicken house (the little holes at the top are for pigeons to go into)

The door into the chicken house

Me photographing . . . I think at this point I was taking photos of some of the family talking in front of the barn.

The fallen down hog barn


The view

After thoroughly exploring and enjoying the homestead, we drove a short distance over to the schoolhouse which my great-great grandfather also built, and which many of my great aunts and uncles as well as my grandpa went to school at . . .

And that sums up part of our Saturday! This was one of my favorite parts about the reunion as I love going out to the homestead and not only seeing and enjoying the buildings, but also hearing the stories and memories that others have to share about living out there. It was definitely a special time!

To be continued . . .