welcome to our farmhouse…life is good

Tuesday, July 31

there's nothing like a day at the fair!

Sun-drenched, but with welcome relief from the heat & haze of recent days, Saturday morning had finally arrived. What made this day special? Well, Sweet Girl and her llama spent the day at the county fair! (And when I say day, I do mean day!)

An early arrival to set-up the arena and unload llamas began at 8:30 a.m. Pens were in place, and soon each was filled with straw, topped with mats, and water buckets filled. There was excitement as 4-H kids were busily taking time to look over their llamas and giving each a quick last-minute grooming. Soon it was time to change into the expected black & white dress for showmanship, halter, pack, and obstacle course testing.

Before we knew it, 7 hours had passed until the judging was complete! And while it was certainly a long day (rest assured we enjoyed lots of the best fair food in-between events!)
our family had a really good time.

Way to go Sweet Girl...definitely a picture for the scrapbook!








Tuesday, July 24

the dog days of summer...

The recent weeks here in the Midwest have been hot & hazy, with only an occasional breeze that teases us into thinking it might stay, or better yet, bring with it much-needed rain. However; all too soon the breeze is gone, and the stretch of rainless days continues.

Many mornings have been overcast, which is a blessing as chores have been done early to beat as much heat as possible. Summertime has certainly settled in, and trying to keep cool has become a daily adventure.

Today; however, we were surprised with welcome breezes from the north. And while they teased us as they came and went throughout the day, they settled in and stayed for the evening.

So, as I found myself relaxing in one of those springy, vintage-y chairs (to me there's nothing better!) I decided I'd take a few snapshots to share. 

Here's a little walk around the farm in late July...


 
The honey bees & birds often visit the fountain I was gifted with for Mothers' Day.
I love it too...it's so nice to relax to the sound of water.
 
A gift from my mom, this wind chime makes me giggle!
A close-up peek...I think she's just too cute!
This spring we moved the cold frames from beside the garden to  behind the chicken coop...
the girls love getting fresh lettuce each morning!
It seems the herbs are about the only ones flourishing in this summer heat. Soon it'll be time to make herb vinegars.
This funnel-topped birdhouse always reminds me of the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz!
  
And so it's true...while we may be found complaining about the summer heat, there are certainly summertime joys to be found...

the taste of a just-picked tomato
fragrant herbs for homemade vinegars
slices of juicy watermelon
frosty glasses of lemonade
fresh corn-on-the-cob topped with real butter
and the best-ever homemade ice cream

Yes...there are many summertime delights.

Saturday, July 21

llama-mama...

Travelers, there is no path.
Paths are made by walking.
-Antonio Machado

Here's the path we're walking lately...learning about llamas!



Who knew you could "lease a llama" for 4-H?!

The kids have been crazy about llamas for quite some time, so we joined a 4-H club that's also a llama farm. The farm allows 4-H kids to take care of a llama, learn about him/her, and train together for the fair.

While Little Man is too young to "officially" be a part of 4-H, he's tagging along as Sweet Girl has been hard at work learning to sheer and groom her llama, practicing on obstacle courses, and prepping for showmanship.

The fun of fair week begins next Saturday!



Wednesday, July 18

vacation & preparedness...

Our family recently came home from a much-anticipated vacation to Washington D.C.!
Little Man's teacher spent a lot of time with her class studying our nation's monuments and memorials. Those lessons really fueled his desire to see them...we agreed it was a terrific idea!

As we prepared to leave, we knew storms were coming, but that's nothing new this time of year...the heat and humidity here often bring strong thunderstorms. Packed and ready to go we headed out, knowing neighbors & friends were keeping an eye on our home and animals.
As we drove, we found ourselves traveling under or just barely ahead of the storms. 

Photo taken as we were driving.

After a few hours on the road, we began receiving text messages about the damage in our hometown. Many homes had trees down and power outages were widespread. With heat at or above 100 degrees, it was a difficult time for many families.

Although a tarp is covering the front of the home on the left,
a day earlier, it appeared as a dollhouse...a tree had taken off the
front and we could see inside the rooms.

Neighbors checked on our home, and we had only two large limbs down. One had fallen beside our home, the second one was at the edge of our backyard...we were fortunate, no damage was done. We were keeping in touch with friends, and while we considered returning home, we were almost to D.C., and so decided to continue traveling. 

Once there, we found our nation's capital had an estimated 3 million people without power. Within a few days, gas stations were out of gas, stores were without ice and running low on food. We were fortunate...our hotel was one of the the few with power, and so we were comfortable and able to enjoy our time there.

And while we had a terrific vacation, visiting sites that made us pause and think...


pondering the beauty of the earth...




and discovering sites that made us smile,


traveling home, I began to think about our family's preparedness...food & water storage,
light sources, our generator & chainsaw, etc. Once home, it would be wise to inventory our supplies again and make sure our equipment was in working order. We were fortunate, our power was back on in 3 days, and we came home needing only to clean out the fridge, cut and move tree limbs...that's not so bad.

Yesterday is was 80 degrees at 7 a.m. and 96 degrees at 8 p.m. as Sweet Girl and I left our local feed store. It's not even August yet...typically our hottest time of year.

And so, what's the point in this long post? Well, I'm going to pull my information together and have a weekly preparedness post...I'll share with you what I have learned over the years,
what works for us, and ask you to share your ideas as well.



These words seem truer than ever...

“The little gardens and a few trees are very valuable.
I remember when the sisters used to say,
`well, but we could buy it at the store a lot cheaper than we could put it up.’
But that isn’t quite the answer, is it?
Because there will become a time when there isn’t a store.”

- Spencer W. Kimball



Monday, July 16

bee update...

Our adventures in bee-keeping continue!


I've (kinda/sort-of) mastered the smoker, so I suited up and have taken a peek inside our hive twice since it arrived. Because ours began as a small nuc (only 5 frames of a queen, brood & worker bees), the bees are working hard to fill out the frames in the larger hive. So far these girls are doing a terrific job...they've filled out 16 frames, and I needed to add a third box last week.

While we'll really enjoy our own honey, because our hive was set up in summer instead of spring, our goal isn't to harvest honey, but to make sure the bees have plenty to survive the winter.

We've also needed to provide them with a water source. Our neighbor uses a shallow pan to provide water for her bees, but I've noticed it evaporates very quickly. A little more reading and I found that a chicken waterer is a great way to provide water for bees, so we set one up.




Filling the tray with small rocks gives the bees a spot to land while they drink, and the waterer stays filled for several days.



And so the learning continues...
Happy Monday!

Tuesday, July 10

a bee-utiful day!


(Okay, it's a corny title...work with me!)


Sunday evening, under the cover of darkness, this was delivered...





Yay, the bees are here! 


And yesterday, with our beekeeping mentor unavailable and beekeeping neighbors on vacation (drat!), I donned my beekeepers suit and dared to step outside alone (resembling the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, too, I might add) because sugar-water was needed in the hive-top feeder.


There was a lot of activity outside the hive, and the smoker wouldn't smoke well (tips on that problem most welcome) but I did it! The feeder is in and I'll check on their progress tomorrow.


Here's a little peek at what we're enjoying today...







 And so the newest adventure on the farm begins!

 
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