Welcome to our farmhouse…life is good!


Sunday, November 17

prepping the coop for winter along with a little revamp!


Yesterday, as we worked hard to cross off some things on the never-ending To-Do List, I said to my hubby, "I really need to remember to have outdoor things wrapped up by the end of October!"  Even though the sun was shining, the wind was brisk and it was chilly. Sporting winter garb...coats, gloves, and with hoods up and earmuffs on, Hubby was cutting boards for the goat fencing, I was painting them, and together with our son we moved limbs to a woodpile that will surely be a spectacular bonfire when the time is right. 

Each fall I add a heavy tarp to the smaller section of the chicken coop run...it helps keep out wind and drifting snow, and gives the girls a place to stretch their legs during the winter storms. I add a heated waterer to the coop, and I have to tell you, this year I found a brand that I think is terrific!  Each year I use the traditional waterer and have always said there must be a better design.  The hole to refill it was so small water was always splashing as it was begin refilled. Then there's the agility test to flip it over as quickly as possible without spilling the water again...each year it's incredibly frustrating.

However; this year, I found a new design in our local feed store and I love it!  It has a large opening on the bottom for easy filling, a screw lid and handle, so I can actually fill it and carry it easily. No more spills!  It has an egg-shaped top to keep perching at bay, and a filter that's easy to remove and clean out all the pine shavings that my girls insist on kicking into the water.  Click here: to take a look...I can't recommend it enough, and no, I am not being paid to endorse it. It's simply a great reinvention of an old design!

I went down the winter check-list for the coop...

secure tarps around the smaller run

check doors/windows to make sure they close tightly
check the roof for leaks

check for cracks or holes in the coop that would let in cold air
add fresh pine shavings

secure heat lamp/test bulb*
feed tin full
extra forage cakes/scratch

heated waterer


*I know many people don't add heat to their coops, but I've found that in our area, where nighttime winter temperatures can drop into the single digits, I want to keep the girls warm. Even with our insulated coop, the open fields around it mean the wind chill can be incredibly cold. Before clamping the lamp to a ceiling beam, I make sure the wiring is in good shape and the bulb is new. I also make sure the lamp is tucked into a corner so the girls can get out from under the heat if they want to.

Now the girls (and one bachelor) will be warm & cozy when the snow flies!

Earlier this spring I did a little revamp on the coop...some paint, vintage-style signs from the feed store, a solar lantern for a little indoor light, and colorful tea towels stitched into curtains made all the difference. Here's a quick peek:


 






I found this old screen door in the back of the barn...it is so heavy (which means the girls will be safe) and was a perfect fit for the coop door. It was so nice to have the girls enjoy a little breeze on the hot summer days.


And so that was our week on the farm...next week I'm preparing for our daughter to come home from college for Thanksgiving break, our son's 16th (gulp) birthday, and a friend will be bringing me a prim cupboard soon that will be perfect for the "shop" I'm planning for our milk house.  Will show you that when it's here!  So excited to make plans this winter for it...remember: never stop making wishes!





 

Monday, November 11

cat tales...




Look at that face.
Look at those eyes.
LOVE
THIS
CAT!

It's way past time you met Azreal, or Azzie as he's sometimes called. Several years ago he simply showed up here on the farm, like so many other cats and dogs have over the years. I have no idea how he found us, but I am so glad he did.

He arrived not long after our family had seen The Smurfs movie in 2011, and the kids immediately named him after the funny cat from the movie.

We have decided that Azzie is a Dog-Cat.

What is a Dog-Cat?  Well, it's a name we've made up for a cat that's definitely more dog-like than cat-like.

First of all, and don't ask me how this came to be, he is housebroken. No litter box. Ever. I didn't try to housebreak him,  he's simply wired that way. When he needs to go out, he'll stand at the door just like a dog would, patiently waiting to be let out.

Secondly, he never scratches furniture...I don't know how this came to be either because it goes against every fiber of a cat's being.

When he's outside, he's doing the usual cat things...climbing trees, pouncing on leaves blowing in the wind, or simply finding a warm spot in the sunshine to nap.

But once he's inside, he's all dog...he'll find the softest blanket and knead it until he's made a perfect nest to settle into. It might be an afternoon nap or maybe he's curling up at the end of the day, but whenever he is, Azzie is very particular about his blanket...only a Vera Bradley will do. And I can't argue...they are wonderful! 

Then, when it's time to call it a night, he can be found curled up at the foot of the bed...very dog-like. Each morning, he hops off the bed, heads to the door, and it starts all over again.

While I'll never know how he came to make this his home, as I reflect on all the things I am grateful for, I would be remiss if I didn't add Azzie's name to the list...our family thinks he's absolutely wonderful!




Thursday, October 31

the end of October...





Glowing pumpkins, a cracking fire, autumn squash soup simmering on the stove, and the aroma of spicy pumpkin bread...somehow, these comforts of home help to take the chill out a fiercely blowing wind that's rattling the farmhouse windows. This would be the same wind that my son and I lost a tug-of-war battle with as we tried to keep a tarp on our our camper. After several tries, it was clear we were on the losing side. Oh well...it's time for Maizy to have a long winter's nap in the barn anyway.

Where did the time go? 

From planting...





to harvest...




to fall barn sales...



  



and pumpkin picking.




The days are dark by about 6:30 now, and our goats and chickens are ready to be tucked in early...it's almost as if they can tell the hard work of both summer and harvest is over, and now is a time for slowing down. With Mother Nature letting us know that winter will soon be here, it's a good feeling to have over 100 bales of hay stacked in the barn and another cord of firewood delivered this week.

And now, in a flurry of what I can only call November-itis, I'm making plans for the seasons. I'm a born list-maker, and so lists are being made, revised, scratched out, rewritten, and then posted on the fridge. I have a few more outdoor to-do's before the snow flies, and oodles of indoor to-do's...does it ever really end?!


Before it's time to call it a day, I decide to toss another log on the sputtering fire to keep it going just a little longer. I love a fire...not only does it keep my toes toasty, but it gives this old farmhouse a warm & cozy feeling.

Sure, we all have things on our wish-lists  (anyone else dreaming of a '63 Chevy Impala?) but autumn seems to bring with it a peaceful feeling of home & family. And as Linus would say, "That's what it's all about..."




Sunday, October 6

a change in the weather!





A quick farm update...

The weather Friday was perfect...it was one of those days I love! The temperature was 48 degrees on the drive to school and only 52 while I was doing outside chores. The sky was a pretty robin's egg blue dotted with clouds, and there was a cool breeze from the north. I spent the afternoon with Henry James playing in the background (take a listen here  - I liked it long before the movie!)  and now that it's not too hot to heat up the kitchen, I decided it was a good day to try a new bread recipe.





In the evening I went to the best farm show with dear friends, The Domestic Goddess Society as we call ourselves. We love all things old, vintage, primitive, retro & antique. It's great to find such kindred spirits! 





The last of the corn and soybeans have been taken from the fields and we're settling in here for the season...132 bales of hay were delivered yesterday (perfect weather...how lucky!), we've stacked a cord of firewood, with more to come, Concord grapes just arrived for making jam, and there's a few odds & ends on my honey-do list to wrap up over the next weeks. Finally...it feels like fall, and who would believe it was 93 degrees earlier in the week?





October...time to fetch a plump pumpkin, take a hayride, enjoy cider, apples, doughnuts, bonfires, Friday high school football games, tailgates with the band, the last county fair, and the harvest moon. 

What a beautiful time of year...yes, the seasons of life are fine indeed.






Wednesday, September 11

from this to that...


How did we get from this...


first visit to the beach...



first Christmas as a big sister...



always best buddies,

always laughing! 




to this...



Sweet 16 trip to see the musical, Wicked




our ballerina



Senior pictures... 

and finally that?






Those of you who have been through it, know it's an emotional, exciting, bittersweet time.  For years I've had a count-down...how many Christmases left? How many summers? And before we knew it, senior year was over. Having family & dear friends around made graduation easier, and keeping busy on the days leading up to the drive to college made the time fly. 

There were the usual must-do's...choosing dorm decorations, new bedding, ordering textbooks, and getting the class schedule finalized. We also squeezed in as much family fun as we could...visiting favorite places, staying up late, and I think we slept in our camper, Maizy, about 5 days in a row (terrific mother-daughter time!)

On move-in day we left before dawn...the university had lots of family activities to keep us busy until evening, then after dinner it was time to go.  We dropped our sweet girl off at a get-together for the new freshmen, and after lots of hugs and tears, we drove home.

It was a quiet 3 hours on the road...all I remember is staring out the window.  As a good friend told me, "It's such a hard thing to let those babies fly." Yes, yes it is. But everyone needs to chase their dreams, do what they love, and see what the future holds.

Things are little different here at home...it's more quiet. I love that our kids get along so well, and there is always laughter and non-stop chatter when they're together. What a blessing technology is that lets our family see each other to catch up and text to chat whenever we want to.

I'm keeping as busy as I can...our younger son is in the high school marching band so football games are great fun, soon he'll be driving, and he's wrapping up his Eagle Scout project! I'm working on our house...sprucing up and cleaning out - 155-year old houses always need a little extra love.

Our daughter is settling in...psychology classes during the day and dancing with a ballet company in the evening. We visit on Face-time each week and text every day. Again, I'm so grateful that such technology exists. 

And so it goes...as I've said before, enjoy every minute with those you love, time flies. 

Enjoy the season you are in!






Monday, August 19

more prim...


I made another visit to one of my favorite shops, (the one with all the great prim/high country furnishings) so I thought I'd share a few more photos for inspiration!

It's called The Seraph and you can find their website here...










Did I come home with anything, yep...I'm swapping out the brass ceiling lights in a couple of rooms for something more old-fashioned; like the one in this last photo.

Now of course, I love my modern conveniences, after all, the internet is allowing me to visit with you now. But at the same time, I love the feel of this decorating style...it reminds me of the past when simple pleasures seemed to mean a little more. A time of unplugged play, home-cooked meals, and laundry snapping on the clothesline. Yes, of course a time of hard work, but also a feeling of satisfaction looking back on the accomplishments of the day.  A handmade life. 

I'm ready to start making some changes in each room...something that will keep me busy when our daughter leaves for college this weekend.

Someone told me it was a "good heartache."

Ridiculous.

That will be another (teary) post.

Thursday, August 1

love those prim colors...


What are some of my favorite colors?  old forge mustard, navy, barn red, buttermilk, soldier blue, pumpkin, cranberry, black, and hunter green. Recently I read a post questioning why anyone ever liked that "ugly" green color..it made me giggle!

Here's some snapshots of one of my favorite places to shop...filled to the brim with prim
(or high country as they call it).






I love warm, rich colors, like the barn red dry sink I found for next to nothing, the navy blue pie safe that holds flour & sugar, the little chippy red milk stool, and yes, even the hunter green stand that holds my tabletop loom...old items I've been lucky enough to find, some in their original paint colors, reminding me of times past. And living in a farmhouse built 155 years ago makes items like these all the more meaningful to me.





Am I behind the times or not keeping up with the latest trends? Perhaps. But for me, the monochromatic colors I see in so many magazines and homes just feel cold. When I come through the door, I want everything to feel warm, welcoming, and comfortable. 




Color trends come and go...our little 1963 camper is filled with cherry red and turquoise which is just right for a vintage camper, 




and I just spied this pink 1962 kitchen! In the right space, this is a time capsule I can absolutely appreciate. 


Source here:


Look at this stove!





Regardless of what colors we like or don't like; here's the thing - don't fall for the picture-perfect homes in magazines or blogs that are staged for beauty; not filled with things that are truly valuable...

family photos, crayon drawings, well-loved books, and items handmade and handed down.

A design degree taught me all about French, modern, English, high country, Scandinavian, and  minimalist designs, but what matters in the end? 

Fill your home with what you love best! 

What makes you smile? 
What makes you happy? 
What brings back memories?

Those are the homes we want to live in and where sweet new memories are made.



Tuesday, July 23

heatwave over for now...


This past weekend, like in so many places, the red-hot heat of summer descended on the Midwest. With temperatures in the upper 90's, the cool refreshment of ice cream was a daily treat. We laughed as we enjoyed favorites from childhood...orange push-ups, drumsticks, and ice cream sandwiches. 

These sun-soaked and humid days meant chores were done early and then again late in the day. Quick trips were made several times to refresh water buckets, check on animals, and share watermelon slices with the hens. 

But today brought a blissful change...temperatures began in the 60's along with a cool breeze from the north. It was nice to putter outside and check on the garden.


As you can see, zucchini and melons are doing quite well...
I'll be making my chocolate zucchini cake this weekend - yum!




peppers are ready for canning (next time I'll share my grandmother's recipe)



I'm not quite sure what this flower is, it's a welcome volunteer that pops up each year and is nearly 6 feet tall! (any ideas??)





On our way to ballet classes last week, my daughter and I spied an old wooden cart outside one of the best shops in a nearby town, The Farmer's Daughters on Main

They have a great collection of retro, vintage, antique, and farm items, and it's run by the two friendliest sisters imaginable...you'll feel like you've known them for years.

Anyway, the cart was still there Saturday, so I had to stop and check it out. Found in an old farm, it was in terrific shape and just waiting for a new home...what else could I do?  

Coated with water seal and filled with flowers, it's sitting by our post lantern at the entrance to our driveway. It'll be fun to fill with pumpkins in the fall and greenery for Christmas, then I'll tuck it away for the rest of winter to keep it protected from the heavy snows.

For me it's always great to find something I feel "needs a home" - like this old cart, galvanized pails, or the barn vent I put on top of the chicken run. Anything rusty or chippy that has a sense of history to it...the old sink that's out by the garden for washing off veggies, the vintage metal chairs in the shade that are just right for resting in, or the enamelware cowboy coffee pot that's filled with homemade laundry soap. 

Love it all...and I'm so glad there are those who rescue it for us to find!




  

Wednesday, July 17

knee deep in summer...



These July days are hot & humid...I'm up early, then out again as the evening cools off a bit. Tomatoes are just beginning to turn red, while peppers and zucchini plants are bursting at the seams. It's time for some zucchini chocolate cake...oh my, soooo delicious! Truly, try my recipe here...I think you'll love it!

In our part of the Midwest, the forecast for the weekend is 95 degrees all three days. Yikes...I'll be keeping an eye on water buckets making sure they're filled with cool water and tossing some chilled watermelon out for the hens to enjoy. And other than a quick trip to the county fair to drop off pies for judging, I think we'll all plan on staying indoors.

Here's a look at what's happening around the farm today...


~Flowers have kept blooming, even in all the heat...




~Maizy has a new bunting, all the way from England!



~false sunflowers are one of my favorites...



~the first tomato!



~a little patriotic flower display...




and in case you're still doubting that zucchini chocolate cake, just take a look at this!



 
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