Friday, April 29, 2011

Ready and Waiting . . .


Yesterday, I leveled out a spot for the beehive and set it up! Just seeing it sitting there makes me all the more eager and excited for tomorrow when the bees arrive . . . though I am getting a bit nervous, too! This past week I read just about all the way through a beekeeping book to refresh my mind, read online once again about how to install bees and about the first several hive inspections, and tomorrow I'll likely watch a video or two online as well about installation. It's going to be interesting to see how it all goes!

In addition to setting up the hive, there was a great deal more done yesterday . . . and my body is reminding me of it today - as in, I am sore! Though, that's not due just to yesterday's work as the days previous were rather full of outdoor work as well. :) Here's a little glimpse into some of that work from yesterday and also a few other photos that were taken recently . . .

~One of the compost bins has filled up quickly already as yesterday I moved the two compost piles that we already had into the bins. One was a large pile of what Leah had hauled out of the chicken coop this past fall, and it took a long time to move all of that. It is decomposing well and will be ready to go on the garden this fall . . . little by little the garden soil is improving!

~All of the logs that Daddy had sawn up are now stacked! (Right behind this stack is another one as well.) Most of the logs I hauled with the wheelbarrow, but the really big ones that were too heavy for me to lift into the wheelbarrow, I used our dolly for. That worked really well! The only disadvantage, though, is that only one log could be moved at a time. :) Now all that is left on the ground to chain saw up are just the trunks of several trees. We're almost finished!

~One of our varieties of strawberries that we had planted last year never grew (the roots were moldy when we received them in the mail), so the nursery sent twenty-five free replacement plants for us this spring. They arrived on Wednesday so yesterday after doing all of the above projects, I tilled up a spot for them by the other strawberries and got them all planted and then mulched with straw.

One of the things that Leah was working on this past week was setting up the outdoor enclosed pen for the chicks to move into once they were big enough. And yesterday was moving day for them! Once they 'settled in', they really started enjoying all of the extra space . . .

Some of the chicks . . . they're still a little nervous here after their move. (And the red in the photo is from the red light . . . not only does it provide the necessary heat, but it also helps to minimize any pecking.)

This little chick made me laugh! I guess standing on the ground to eat must not be original enough. :)

One of the Barred Rock chicks

In addition to all of the outdoor work, our home has been abuzz with activity too . . . no matter how much work there is to be done outdoors, there is still the house cleaning to do, bread to be baked, meals to be prepared and cooked, laundry to be washed, sewing to be done . . . and then of course, things like playing music always fits in there as well. :) Needless to say, our spring days have been pleasantly and satisfyingly full and overflowing!

And to bring this post to a close, here are a few photos that were taken on a couple of different evening walks that I enjoyed this week . . .


The Irises have begun blooming! This particular variety always blooms first, and I love the rich color that they have.

I'm not sure if these are mushrooms or what, but they are growing on an old stump down in the woods, and they are each about a foot across! I've never seen anything quite like them before.

Another view of them

A yellow Iris that will be blooming soon

The June-bearing strawberry bed is all in bloom . . . I am so looking forward to harvesting our first strawberries!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pallet Compost Bins

When 'blog-hopping' awhile back, I came across a post on a blog that immediately struck my interest . . . in fact, so much so that I bookmarked the post so that I could be sure to find it later. The post was called "Composting with Wooden Pallets", and it was found on one of my now favorite blogs to visit. After seeing this post, I began thinking of how I could acquire the necessary seven pallets to build a compost bin. The result of that was calling numerous businesses around town to see what they did with their pallets once they were finished with them . . . and to see if I might be able to get some from them.

The first several places I called either didn't answer the phone or shared with me that they sell back all of their pallets to their distributors. So . . . I was starting to run out of ideas of places to call when Leah suggested a local hardware business. I called them, and while they don't normally give away but a few pallets to a person (they, too, sell their pallets back to their distributors), they said they would give me the seven I needed! What a blessing!

The next morning then, Daddy and I headed out in our truck together and picked up the pallets. I was looking forward to working on this project, but rainy days prevented me from doing so until yesterday. Even though it was overcast and windy, the rain had come to an end (at least for the time being) so I headed outdoors to work on building the compost bin. First, all of the necessary "equipment" needed to be gathered . . . four t-posts, t-post driver, wire, wire cutters, square, level, tape measure, and lastly . . . the pallets. It took a couple of hours for me to get it all put together and level, and I was excited when it came time to attach the last pallet and see what the finished result looked like . . .



I love how it turned out, and am excited to have three large bins for composting! (And you can see in the photo that the sun finally peeked out in the evening!) One bin will be for the 'stuff' hauled out of the chicken coop as it needs to sit and compost for a year before going in the garden . . . in fact, two bins might be used for that (plus we'll add in some other things as well.) Then the third bin will be for all of our vegetable scraps, garden plants, leaves, lawn clippings, and whatever else can go in there.

Assembling the compost bin was a fun experience, though it was tiring . . . especially driving in the t-posts as far as they needed to go. I think I hit roots a couple of times! To put it together and to make it solid, each front end of the pallets that form the dividers have a t-post driven into the ground that the pallet is then wired to (which can be seen in the below photo.) Then at the back, all of the divider pallets and the back pallets are wired together as well to hold them in place.


And now with it all assembled, I need to move our two existing compost piles into the new compost bins and start using them! :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

An Escapee

Last evening when heading upstairs, I happened to look out the window and saw the cows out grazing in the pasture . . . but I had to do a double-take as it looked like there was one on our side of the fence. After stopping for a closer look, sure enough, there was a calf happily grazing in our to-be goat pen area. Before long, though, the calf started to wander out in our yard so Leah and I went to move it back towards the fence a bit . . . meanwhile, Daddy was attempting to get a hold of our neighbor to let him know.


So Leah and I are out there keeping the calf near the fence, and the calf seemed nice and calm and was enjoying grazing from time to time. But then when the cows started to move further down in the pasture leaving the calf behind, the calf wanted to follow them . . . only our chicken fence (where we let the chickens out on grass) was in the way. Somehow, we're not quite sure how, the calf went right through/over the chicken fence! Then we were really in a conundrum as she started to panic with the cows leaving her behind an
d her stuck inside the chicken pen.

Here she's inside the chicken pen with the chicken fence in front of her and the barbed wire fence behind her

I was just going in to try to herd her back up towards where she had originally gotten out of the pasture, and thus, getting her out of the chicken pen as well, when the calf spied a somewhat larger opening in the pasture fence and jumped right through breaking old barbed wire strands in the process.

Shortly after this, we finally got a hold of our neighbors and could tell them that one of their calves had gotten out, but was back in again . . . and that not only was there the hole where the calf had originally gotten out, but now there was a new hole that the calf broke through when going back in. Me thinks there are going to be some fence repairs going on soon!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Children's Book Sale

Twice a year often finds us sitting in the library parking lot about ten minutes before it opens . . . the reason? The biannual children's book sale! (And you have to get there early in order to get a parking spot!) We love this sale as it has books for ages ranging from baby to just about adult . . . children's fiction, golden books, young adult fiction, books on history, science, math, crafts, etc. (in all age ranges), old books, new books . . . the sale has just about everything! And you can't beat the prices at 25 cents for paperbacks and 50 cents for hardbacks.

This past Saturday was the library's spring sale, and armed with bags to put the books in, Mama, Leah and I spent about two hours at the sale. The result was not only a fun and enjoyable time, but we also found a wealth of wonderful books! Not quite as many as this past fall's sale, but we were still pretty pleased. (Mama already has her books put away so I didn't get any photos of hers to share here.)

Leah's stack of books . . . she was pretty excited to find two antique children's readers!

One of the pages inside of the Dick and Jane reader that Leah found

In my (and Leah's) season of life right now, it is a perfect time to be gradually building up a collection of books for children. One reason for this is that we don't need the books right now so we can be quite selective and also very economical in acquiring them . . . and the book sales are wonderful for this! And by slowly collecting books at sales such as these (and garage sales and thrift stores), my children's book collection has been growing, and I am looking forward to adding more as the years go on. The children who come over to visit are also glad for the book sales as that means that there are more books for them to look at when they come!

Some of the little children's books that found their way into my bag . . . an alphabet book, number book, and more

And here are two of my favorites of the books that were found . . .


Inside "Kirsten's World"

And another page from it . . . I have already read it now and found it to be very interesting!
(we try to read every children's book that we get in order to 'edit' it . . . that way we can see if it is a book worth keeping; or if there are a few questionable things in it, we can simply white them out. [The white-out idea was shared with me by Joy, and it has been such a help. Thank you, Joy! :)]

This book is full of such wonderful information, projects, crafts and more. I have loved paging through it, and am very much looking forward to using different ideas from it with some of the children that we know.



There are usually more things than just books at the book sale, and last year, I got a set of addition and subtraction flash cards. This time I found these . . .


So now I have a complete 'set'! I remember when I was in school how very helpful flash cards were to me, and they were primarily how I learned to add and subtract. Plus, they are fun to use, too. :)

Now with this book sale over, we're already looking forward to the fall one!

Friday, April 22, 2011

New Arrivals

As of yesterday afternoon, we now have forty-two adorable little balls of cheeping fluff nestled comfortably in a rubbermaid tub sitting in the corner of our dining room . . .


Yesterday, Dad, Mom, Leah, Ashley and I drove down to a hatchery and picked up chicks! (Ryan had to work so he wasn't able to come.) We got the aforementioned forty-two for our family, and then Ryan and Ashley got ten. It was such a fun trip, and it was exciting to get chicks again!

A Partridge Rock and a Buff Orpington

They are so adorable, and I love holding them in my hand as they drift off to sleep. It is also rather entertaining to watch their little antics . . . they can go from running around cheeping to falling asleep on their feet in just moments! Such is the life of a little chick. :) At least for the time being . . . it's a bit hard to believe that in not so many months they will be our new batch of layers (and crowers :) - we got two cockerels in addition to the pullets.)


Ryan and Ashley's little chicks

So now we have a new dimension to our home life right now . . . lots of little cheeps filling the air and more 'critters' to be taking care of!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Preparations

The honeybee delivery date is getting closer! Only a week and a half now as they are due to arrive on April 30th . . . so exciting! I still had some work to do in preparation so one recent morning, Leah helped me put together the hive stand and then I painted the hive pieces that needed to be painted (and put on the second coat today) . . .

The hive stand in progress . . . Leah pre-drilled the holes, I put wood glue in the joints, and then she screwed them together while I held the pieces in place.

Leah pre-drilling the last corner

Once the hive stand was finished, I brought all of the pieces that needed to be painted outdoors and painted them there which was fun to do . . . and exciting as well as it is just one step closer to getting the bees!


Certain critters were a little curious as to what I was doing so I had an audience while I worked . . .


I was glad to see that our neighbors had moved their cattle from the upper pasture to the one right next to us! Cattle are my favorite animals, and I love having them right 'next door'. It is so peaceful watching them graze in the pasture, lie in the shade to chew their cud, seeing the little calves scamper around, and then of course, seeing their curious faces as they watch whatever I am doing.

One of the adorable calves

Whenever the cattle are moved next to us, I try to tame them down a bit, but these ones are pretty skittish so I can't get very close to them (yet. :) I remember awhile back, I got them so tame that some of them would eat corn out of my hand!

A cow and her calf

The days here have been rather rainy lately so planting more in the garden has been put on hold until it can dry out a bit . . . and it doesn't look like that will be happening anytime soon! In the meantime, I am hardening off the peppers and tomatoes, and hope to plant those next week . . .

Peppers

Tomatoes

Now today we had another adventure . . . picking up some free pallets! And there will be more about that and the reason for it in an upcoming post . . . . :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Daddy's Birthday

Yesterday was my Dad's birthday, and what a fun and special day it was! Ryan and Ashley came over in the evening which made it even more so. :) And in the early afternoon, Dad, Mom, Leah and I went for a drive down to the Missouri River which was an adventure! The gravel road that goes down to the river (and is very long) was quite sloppy due to all of the rain that we had had, and there were four or five spots where water covered the road so we got to drive through that . . . .



This was one of the narrower places of water over the road, but it was a deeper one . . . and fun to drive through! :)
It's getting muddier . . . . :)

We were glad that we had decided to drive the truck there instead of bringing the car as there is no way that the car would have made it through!


Dad and Mom down at the river looking at . . . something :) I am not sure what!

Leah on the quest for birds . . . only she didn't see any. There was an elusive Northern Parula (a beautiful, small warbler) calling high up in the trees, but none of us could find him

The river is so beautiful . . . I love watching and listening to the water flowing

Dad and Mom enjoy watching and listening to it to . . . it is so peaceful

The river is really high right now so the boat ramp was almost completely covered . . . and with the ramp underneath, it made interesting waves/ripples in the water

The train tracks that we cross to get down to the river

Crossing the river on the highway . . . in the distance is the old railroad bridge. It could raise and lower in the center to allow the ships and barges through.

There are two places where we can go down to the river at, so we stopped by the second one as well . . .

There was a lot of debris, logs, etc. floating downstream including this huge tree

Looking downstream

Daddy on the banks of the river

The river is so high right now that the spot where we took our family photo several years ago is completely covered in water. It is amazing how different it looks now!

So there is glimpse into the wonderful day that we had together celebrating Daddy's birthday! How very thankful I am for the Dad that the Lord has blessed me with. There are so many things that I appreciate about him including . . .

~his love for the Lord and His Word

~his love for his family

~his desire to lead and guide our family where the Lord leads

~his desire to serve the Lord and be obedient to Him in all things

~his sense of humor :)

~how he likes to spend time with us and help us on projects

~his unconditional love

~his support and encouragement

~how he can always make me laugh

~late night conversations about anything and everything . . . from scriptural topics, to things I am struggling with, to whatever is on my heart, to everyday life and much more

I could go on and on as there are so many things that I appreciate about my Dad. How very thankful I am for him! I love you so much, Daddy!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Changing Seasons and a Tea Party

Winter to Spring hasn't been the only change occurring around here lately, but we have had another change taking place in Leah's and my lives which is a sad one . . . after 4 1/2 years of doing our girls group, it is going to be coming to a close as most of the families who had been participating are not going to be able to any longer. We understand their reasons and needs, but it was still so sad! And it was really hard to see something that has been such a big part of our lives for so many years coming to an end. We are going to miss doing it so very much!! But as we keep reminding ourselves, this is in the Lord's hands, and we'll just have to wait and see what other ministry opportunities He may open up for us to be doing. His plans are so much better than ours, and He knows what path is best for us to be walking. And we know that "all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28.)

So we are waiting and praying and seeking, and are also going to be pursuing ways to get the word out about our girls group to the local homeschooling community so that we might be able to start our girls group up again in the future. We are really hoping that will all come together!

And we are also already planning to be spending more time with and doing more projects and things with two of the girls who had been coming (and their two siblings) so that will be very nice. And then one of the girls who had been coming to our group I will be giving sewing lessons to so I'll still be able to have that interaction with her which will be a blessing!

So that is a change that has happened in our lives lately, and as our last week together approached, Leah and I planned a special time for that last afternoon . . . a tea party! We had the tea party last week and how very wonderful it was! So many special memories . . . such fun times . . . most of the photos are over on the "Girls Group Journal" blog, but here are a few that give a glimpse into our wonderful, fun-packed, enjoyable, memorable, and special afternoon at our 'tea' . . .

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The morning of the tea found Leah and I up early and working quickly to try to get everything finished before the tea (which was right around lunchtime.) We had baked a few things the evening before which was good as we had barely enough time to get everything finished before the girls arrived! And I took hardly any photos during the preparations as there wasn't much time for it . . .


Hat cookies in progress (these are little 'favors' that sat by each of the girl's plates with their name card)

Pouring on the sugar frosting coating

And putting on the ribbon and flower decorations

Mom was a huge help to us in washing all of the china for us, cutting up strawberries and peeling clementines. Thank you, Mom!

Leah putting cheese on the crackers

Finally everything was finished and the table was ready and waiting . . .








And then the girls arrived! I loved seeing their faces as they came in, saw the table, and found their places to sit! Oh, the smiles and excitement!




After our tea and a pleasant time of visiting, we played a game together in which about twenty-five items that have been used in our girls group (crochet hook, thread, teaspoon, etc.) were placed in a box together and then covered before the girls had arrived. For the game, we removed the cover and the girls had about twenty seconds to look at the contents before it was covered again. Then they got to see how good their memories were!

They did really well with this and we gave them two more brief 'looks' to finish out their list. Once they had them all, we went around in a circle each girl taking turns choosing an item from the box and sharing what it was and how we used it. They really enjoyed this game!


Then we moved on to our lesson for the day, and as it was our last girls group afternoon together, our lesson (which was more like an exhortation than an actual teaching lesson) was upon Mark 12:29-31 . . . the two greatest commandments given in Scripture . . .

"Jesus answered, 'The foremost is, "Hear, O Israel! The LORD our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength" The second is this, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." There is no other commandment greater than these'"

These verses pretty much sum up what our purpose with girls group has been . . . to believe in the Lord and love Him with all that we are, and to then love others . . . to be obedient to God and His Word.

We encouraged the girls to seek with all of their hearts to follow these two commandments, to seek to not forget all that they have learned in girls group, but to continue to learn and grow and seek to practice what they have learned.
As I type these words down, tears fill my eyes and my heart is so full . . . what a joy it has been to teach these girls over these past years, and now may the Lord continue to guide and direct each one of their hearts!

After we had finished with this, we headed outdoors for a group photo together, and then the girls asked if they could see Leah's cat so we walked over there and the girls had so much fun petting her and feeding her little pieces of grass (did you all know that cats like grass? I hadn't until Leah got hers!) . . .



And then we played one more game which was a review game about some of the things that we had learned and done over the years. For this, the girls each drew a slip of paper from a basket, and then either acted it out, drew it on the board, or had the other girls ask 'yes or no' questions until they guessed what was written on the slip of paper. They loved doing this, and we had such fun together!


Drawing 'frosting cookies' on the board

Our pleasant hours together went by so quickly, and before long, it was time to say our goodbyes. It was a bittersweet time . . . the girls gathered up their craft bags, journals, and treats from the tea party and then amidst many hugs we said our goodbyes. Thankfully, though, each one of these girls who came this day we'll still be able to be seeing regularly!

And thus a chapter of our lives comes to a close . . . with the hope and the prayer that we will be able to reopen it again sometime in the future!