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Friday, October 29, 2010

October updates

I think we finally have things under control and fall is here to stay. The temperature was at 24 degrees when I left the house at 5 this morning. BURRRR, I think everything is frozen now. I haven’t dug the carrots yet but I think I need to get that done before the ground freezes. I have been working at getting the mulch layer down, but by the time I get home, change my clothes and talk to Phil for a few minutes it is almost dark. We have one more week before daylight savings time changes, so I will have NO daylight after that. The weather is supposed to be nice this weekend so I plan to get the mower out and start chopping the leaves and hay. It will be ready to rock in the spring.

I started planting garlic last weekend. Hummm, I don’t think I realized how much I was purchasing. I have about ½ of it planted ….. We are going to have a ton of garlic next year. If it produces well, I will have another product we can grown and sell locally. My plans to make Pooh acres self-sufficient are far from realized but I can see how it can be done with a lot of hard work.

We are refinancing to get the interest rate down well below 4%. I would never have imagined it would get that low. We are also refinancing to a 10-year mortgage. We started out with a 30-year mortgage 3.5 years ago. I think we are doing pretty well on that. I hate being in debt. It totally stresses me out. It is good to see that I will be able to pay this place off before I retire. I seriously thought I would have to work until I was 80 to make the payments. If we sell either one of the rental houses the proceeds will go directly toward the principal of this house.

Our chickens are self-sufficient already. They are laying about a dozen eggs a day. I have a customer who buys every egg I can bring her. We have set that money aside and opened a “chicken account”. Everything we buy for them will come from that account and all the egg money will go in. My egg lady is also interested in buying butchered chickens next summer. I have another one or two people who also want to buy meat chickens. I think if we can figure out how to house and raise 100 babies next spring we can start making a profit! We will need a bigger coop for them…. The work never stops. We can even do two batches of meat chickens if we start early enough in the spring.

We had some scary visitors last night. Caelum, Ruby and Olivia came out to trick or treat us. They were all dressed up in very frightening costumes. It was so nice to see them all. I think they get bigger every time I see them. Caelum is so excited to be as tall as I am, and I believe he is going to achieve that pretty soon. We took them to the garage to see the baby chicks. They were so excited that the chicks would eat out of their hands. They are all a little frightened when the chicks flap their wings and make loud noises!!! We are going to have them next Friday night. I am so excited. Olivias birthday is the following week so we will likely celebrate her birthday at the same time.

This is week 3 of going to the gym in the morning before work.  The trainer we are working with has worked us hard.  I thought I was doing a good job of working out on my own .... but I am doing much better with her.  Today my arms and shoulders hurt a lot!  I am seeing some results that you can only see with my clothing off ... that is a very good feeling.  I wish I could afford to continue working with the trainer .... but I afraid after my 6 week commitment that will be the end, unless I can make a HUGE sale and justify the expense. 

Phil came into the garden with me tonight and used the riding mower to chop straw and leaves for me.  It is amazing how quickly he can do it compared to when I chop it with the push mower. It is going to be great tomorrow to spread out the chopped mulch .... and spread more hay for the winter.   We need to haul in some manure to feed the soil too!  Ugh, we have way to many things to get done in 2 days!!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010


One of the things I take pride in, is the way I choose to gather/forage/glean and save finances as well as the earth. I need tons of mulch/compost for the garden. Last fall I discovered drive by leaf stealing. It is not actually stealing, because it has been put out for the trash. Over my lunch break I drive around the neighborhoods close to work and put the huge recycle bags in my SUV. I haven’t had a problem with them falling over, so I don’t really have a problem with putting these dry bags in my car. Last year I made a game of trying to fit in “just one more”. I believe the most I was able to fit in were 16. Yesterday I saw my first bags and gathered 12 of them. Today I filled up the car again. Hopefully tomorrow I can start chopping them and start the fall mulching process.
 I had planned to spend tomorrow working like a crazy person and getting some things done. Phil had planned on going to go to an auction with Rudy and I had the day to myself. I planned to paint the deck, replace the rotten board on the deck, get the gardens stripped and ready for winter (I still have potatoes to get out of the ground!!!!), and maybe have time to start getting the berry bushes transplanted. I love Phil, but I get so much more done when he is not at home.  

I am happy to report that the final tally on honey is 51 pounds. I am hoping these hives make it through the winter. I feel I am doing better with my management of the hives, but I am still not a pro.

This will be our first winter with the chickens. I am sure they will be OK. Chickens have been farm animals for 100’s of years. We have a nice tight little coop. They will be able to get out and play in the snow. I don’t remember much about the chickens when I was little, but I am told they love to play in the snow. We lost a chicken last weekend. I have no idea what happened to her. She was running around the day before and didn’t seem to be having any problems. That night (Saturday?) Phil was shining his flashlight as he went out for a smoke and said he thought there was a dead chicken. Sunday morning he found her laying in the chicken run. I was sad to see her dead. I had planned to butcher her pretty soon, but it was a waste to just have her die.
(This is from the next morning since I didn't post last night)  I slept in so late today.  4 hours past my normal wake time of 4 AM.  It felt wonderful.  I must admit my everything hurts like crazy today.  I started some new exercises yesterday and my arms (shoulders) feel like they are going to fall off.  Today I am going to work in the garden and throw a lot of straw and leaves.  I will most likely hurt even worse tomorrow!!  The pains of getting old. 

Monday, October 11, 2010


Yesterday we needed to drop the truck off at the mechanics plus get gas in my car.  I told Mable and Molly they could ride with us.  I put them in the back of the SUV and got in.  The stench in the car was horrible.  I thought it must be the garbage I was planning to drop off today so I took it out of the car.  On the way to town the odor didn’t get any better, in fact seemed worse.  We stopped at the gas station first and Phil got out to pump my gas (he is very sweet to do that) and stuck his head in the window and almost threw up.  He said Maggie has a big spot on her back and she must be the source of the smell!  I believe she must have been rolling in chicken manure ... but the chickens don't smell THAT bad!   He got some soap and water and tried to clean her up a bit.  It really didn’t help at all.  She spent the night outside because it was to late for her to have a bath and not be cold all night.  I hope that by the time I get home from work today Phil will have given her a bath. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Another post I forgot to "publish"

Chickens running around …. Compost “brewing” ………… fresh vegetables and fruits maturing. These are the things I have become accustomed to. Autumn is in the air, the nights are much cooler. The garden is dying back, and I can feel winter creeping ever closer day by day. As always I am not ready to loose my hold on the summer, and growing lots of wonderful foods.

I wrote that a few days ago before our first frost. Saturday evening the temperature got down below freezing and killed off most of the garden. This morning when I left for work the windows of my car were covered in frost. Yes, fall is in the air. I hope winter is not totally unkind again this winter.

Yesterday was somewhat of a day of passage for me, I butchered our first chicken. I talked to our neighbor about coming over to help me. I just needed a little confidence to do it. We made an appointment for Sunday afternoon. I came in and got everything ready for Ralph. The water was boiled. I had sharp knives, cutting board, a bucket for the innards, and a machetti. Ralph didn’t show up. I was determined to do it anyway. I was nervous but I did it. I got it finished pretty quickly (I think) and put that rooster in the freezer. I know now that I can do it again.

Today I brought home 3 little chicks that I found on Craigs list. Some kids got them at the fair a few weeks ago thinking they would be fun, not realizing how much work they are. I didn’t realize how little they were when I said I would take them. Phil said he wanted to let them stay in the house where it is warmer. They are very loud … and cute. I am not sure what Molly and Mable think of them … they just sit and watch them. Hopefully they are big enough to go in with the other chickens soon.

I am feeling the panic of not getting things done in a timely manner. I needed to transplant berry bushes this fall and get the fence up for them to climb on. I haven’t gotten even one of them moved. The honey should have been harvested several weeks ago but it is still out there. I am afraid it is going to get to cold, plus I still need to treat the bees for parasites (again before it is to cold) and feed them to bring them back to strength. I have been picking up the potatoes as the chickens uncover them but they still need to be dug. The sweet potatoes also need to be dug. I don’t have any manure to feed the soil and we didn’t even shop for a tiller so I will again be doing it all by hand. (Our neighbor offered to do it, but I can’t let him). Phil tells me I am slowing down, and I guess I am but not that much!
(On to the present time the following weekend)  With that being said .......... and my neglecting to post this, I must be slowing down!
Tomorrow morning I start a new adventure.  I have been going to the gym faithfully for several months now.  I have also been following the weight watchers plan and have dropped about 30 pounds.  For the last month nothing has changed .... and I know it is all me, I am falling back into bad eating habits, and skip days going to the gym.  I can't blame anyone but me.  Tomorrow morning at 5:30 am I am going to be in Omaha at the gym with 3 other women and a personal trainer.  We are going to meet twice a week for 6 weeks.  I have never done anything like this before, I am nervous.  I am friends with one of the women but don't know the other 2.  I am at another leg of my journey to become healthier and smaller.  I truly don't want to die from something I could have prevented like high blood pressure or a heart attack.  I truly want to live a long healthy life and enjoy everything I have worked so hard for.  I am looking forward to retirement.  I wish I had been able to save more when I was younger, but there was nothing extra to save.  I want to be able to live out my retirement years without wondering if I will be able to pay my bills.  OK, enough of this.  I need to go finish digging potatoes! 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Honey harvest

I have put off harvesting honey long enough!  I knew that I had to get it taken care of this weekend, so when I came home from work yesterday I dressed in my stylish bee clothing complete with hat and veil as well as my elbow length gloves.  The bees really don't like it much when I take their honey away from them. In fact they were pretty darn upset with me.  I am thankful I have protective equipment, if I didn't I would probably be in a lot of trouble. 
We left all the frames outside until dark .... letting the bees go back to their home.  Thankfully we had to deal with very few bees.  We shooed some of them home a few we caught in a jar until morning then sent them home. 
We actually harvested this afternoon.  I was excited to use the new electric extractor.  I thought it would make the harvest a lot faster ..... I am not convinced that it did.  I think that Phil was  able to harvest about as fast (with the hand crank) as we were with the electric.
We were sticky but happy to have the honey in a bucket. 
I don't know how much honey we have yet ..... but it is wonderful

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Flea Markets

I can’t remember my first trip to Brownville for their flea market, most likely 15 years or more ago. I took Mom; she loved to go to garage sales and flea markets. Even if she didn’t buy a thing she loved to look and talk to people. Phil and I have made it an annual outing for us and our friends Marsha and Randy. We caravan down, eat breakfast then go to the flea market.

Today we met up in Rockport MO for breakfast. I got a table and Phil waited excitedly for them. Marsha and he used to work together and he loves her like a big sister. We waited and talked drinking our coffee. It seemed like the food was taking a very long time. We asked for more coffee and talked more. After another 15 minutes I again asked the waitress for more coffee, and waited for another 15 minutes or so. People were stacking up; waiting to be seated and another person came in to seat them. We heard the two of them talking, our waitress told the second person she had no idea when any food would be ready to be served so we decided we would go across the street to McDonalds. It wasn’t the nice breakfast we had envisioned, but it was just fine.

The forecast for today said we would have spotty showers. It started raining around 6 AM, and didn’t stop during the entire drive down to Brownville. We talked to some people at the restaurant who said they had just come from Brownville and all the vendors were shut down, and the streets were vacant. Great, we drove 60 miles to have breakfast at McDonald’s? The rain was stopping by the time we finished breakfast and potty breaks so we drove into Brownville. The town was hopping already. We saw familiar faces, did some people watching. Phil met another woman named Joann … he was calling out to me and she answered. We saw her later in the day and as she was walking by she said “Oh there are Phil and Joann”. We had to stop and chat for a bit again and she had to show us what she bought for her son. We ran into an old friend of mine from Weeping Water. He had his own booth there this year. There was a man there that looked so much like Phil it was amazing. He was older, so I got a glimpse of what he will look like in 10 or 15 years. Every time I glanced over and saw him, for a millisecond I would think it was Phil. (We lost each other for a really long time this morning).

We had made it to almost every area when the wind kicked up and started to look like another downpour and Phils legs were giving omoney, or come home with many treasures. Spending time with people you care for is worth so much more than anything tangible you bring home to dust off! I offered to go get the car and had a wonderful fast walk up hill …. Since I skipped the gym it was good for me. We said our good byes to Marsha and Randy and started on our journey home. Phil does not like to drive on the interstate. He likes to drive country roads and see things he has not experienced. Today we drove back into Missouri and over to Tarkio then north. We drove for miles without seeing another person. It was a scenic drive home. I think if we did that same drive in about 4 weeks it would be much more colorful with the autumn leaves.

It was a nice day. We didn’t spend much money but came home with great memories.

NOTE*** This was written last weekend after our trip to Brownville.  Apparently I forgot to his the Publish button.

Homecoming 2001 Glenwood, IA

I took off work yesterday to take part in the homecoming activities in Glenwood. We had read in the paper over the last few years what a big deal it is in this area, and wanted to experience it for ourselves.

The morning started by sleeping in until 7 AM (I LOVE IT). Then we were off to the Firehouse for a pancake breakfast. Phil carefully looked around to see where he wanted to sit. He looks for someone who may have good stories to tell, maybe someone one a little older that may need to talk. We sat next to Debbie. She told us she was 60 (something, I can’t remember) and has lived in Glenwood all of her life. She has one child and one grandchild. She didn’t say, but I think she was a widow. We learned so much local history from her. The courthouse we think is so beautiful is considered the “new” courthouse build in the 1950’s. They tore down the old courthouse which according to her was much better than this new one. The new one got termites in it and had to have them eradicated which left the floors leaning. I enjoyed our breakfast, but must admit my ears were kind on tired.

The parade was at 1:30. We got there around noon to scope out a good place to sit and found a lovely corner under the shade and sat next to a couple about our age both in motor chairs. They both had MS. I didn’t talk to them much because we were all in a line and it is difficult to hear from that distance. Phil and Mike chatted for quite a while. A few minutes before the parade was scheduled to start I saw the street filled with big boys all in black football shirts walking up the middle of the street. They stopped in front of us and set up their chairs right in the middle of the street. DRATS, they are all so big I could not see a thing. We finally pulled our chairs up next to them, and Phil told the guys standing to move over because we can’t see through them. The parade was fun. All the lower classes (starting with kindergarten) made floats and competed for the best float. The kids were all so excited!

In the evening we went to the Methodist church for a soup supper. Phil had chili and I had white chili (Yummm, it was fantastic). We sat next to two ladies in their 80’s. The woman next to me told me she has been living on her farm for 50 years. He husband passed away 20 years ago but she loves her home and wants to stay there. The only problem is she started getting dizzy spells three years ago and they took her drivers license away. She has two children who help her out a lot. Her daughter just retired this year. The other woman was much quieter (or perhaps could not hear the conversation well enough to say much) but she has been living in her house 55 years. She still drives but neither of them was getting around to well. I was mesmerized with both of them. I loved hearing their stories, and once I put my hand over the precious woman next to me, and I was taken back to the summer Mom died. This woman’s hand felt like Mom’s. It looked like Mom’s. I wanted to touch her again, but didn’t want to appear weird! We had a very nice hour with two lovely ladies that blessed my life just meeting them.

On to the football game. Glenwood has a much larger population than Weeping Water and Louisville. The athletic field is huge and much nicer than I am used to. The bleachers are huge and set very high. We chose to sit on the front row so it would be easier for Phil to get out if he needed to. MISTAKE. For the first ½ of the game I could not see one play because people would stand in front of us, or stop to talk and block the view. During the ½ time performance we decided to see if we could find someplace better to sit. We found on each side of the bleachers were more bleachers about the size of the ones in WW and Louisville. Those were packed too! We found a place to stand in front of the bleachers (they are about 4 ½ feet high on the first round so we were not blocking anyone’s view) and behind the fence. This was a much better place to see. The score at ½ time 31 – 6 Glenwood. I was amazed because I had heard they were not a good team this year. The second half of the game went downhill and then score was 31 -22 but they still won. The memorable moment of the game was when two people painted black streaked across the field. I could not honestly tell you if they were guys or girls, you could not see anything except black. They ran across the visitors’ side of the field. I haven’t heard of streakers in years! One other thing I noticed was the size of the team and the cheerleaders. I think there were more football players then we had in my entire graduating class. There were not only about 20 cheerleaders, but a dance team. The marching band had three students on ladders conducting the band. They were all dressed in beautiful uniforms and looked fantastic.

We left a few minutes before the game was over and drove across the road to the city park to watch the fireworks. I was amazed to see what a wonderful fireworks performance they had. This was a good as any display at the Rosenblatt! One thing I did note was the air quality. In July the air is light and the smoke dissipates quickly. In October the air is heavy and full of moisture. The smoke really hung in the air for a very long time.

It was a very fun day. I feel blessed to live in such a beautiful mid American place.