Welcome to our farmhouse…life is good!


Wednesday, February 5

winter weather and farm stand colors...



Can we just talk about the weather? 

Monday it was 62 degrees and I couldn't resist...it was the perfect day for hanging laundry on the clothesline...blue skies, brilliant sunshine, and a warm breeze from the south. Now don't get me wrong, there's nothing like the sweet scent of freshly-laundered sheets and towels that have been dried outside...but in February?

Right now we have freezing rain and all fingers are crossed for a day off from school...or at least a delay. Tomorrow's forecast is for snow, sleet, and ice...as we like to say, it is a higgledy-piggledy winter.

And so, in the middle of all this up & down weather, I'm spring cleaning (that definitely needs another name) Really, who can wait until spring? Am I the only one who dives into deep cleaning mode right after the Christmas decorations are tucked away?

I'm also plotting & planning...if you go back a couple of posts, you'll find one about pies, and how I'm hoping to turn the milkhouse into a Saturday farmstand. Our local year 'round farmer's market closed for renovation over a year ago and has yet to open, so I started thinking why not offer the same cottage foods from our farm?  

I'm thinking in-season fruit pies along with family favorites such as Miss Lisa's chocolate chip pie, and blue-ribbon winning Texas Trash and Junkberry pies.  I've been brainstorming and making lists of all our favorites...goodies like Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies, gingersnaps, and chocolate mint cookies, then I added checkerboard cake and homebaked Dakota and English Toasting breads to the list, along with jars of honey. When summer is in full swing, I can offer fresh veggies, herbs, and Mason jars of blooming flowers.


 “I always say it's never too late to begin a long-held dream,
or take a risk on a new one you didn't see coming!"


—Deb Bosworth,
Beach Farmgirl, MaryJanes Farm


Saturday I spied a table that was on sale for song...here's a close up of the drawer and knob:



Why yes...it did come home with me!



And that color instantly inspired me on the colors I want to use inside the milkhouse. While I love warm, cozy, prim colors for our farmhouse, they just didn't seem quite right for a farmstand. 

But these did!

How could I not love colors with names like Aggie's Shawl, Dancing Slippers, Ruby Earbobs, and Clara's Cape?  




And they are perfect pairing with the colors I used for the roadside stand last summer...





Now I'm off to think of a clever, eye-catching farmstand name...any suggestions?


 “The most difficult thing is the decision to act,
the rest is merely tenacity.” 

—Amelia Earhart








Monday, January 20

settling into the new year...


I'm finally ready to settle back into posting, after promising myself that I'd not let one, single thing interrupt the first Christmas now that our daughter has started college.

I found myself trying to make everything just right for all of us...baking cookies, making favorite meals, cozy flannel sheets and blankets to curl up in, non-stop holiday music, and wrapping secret surprises. 

We went to get our Christmas tree on December 21st...which is about 3 weeks later than usual, but we wanted all of us to be together to make the trek to our favorite tree farm, and while I was worried about the crowds, there was no need...we were the only ones roaming the hills looking for the  "perfect" tree.  The weather couldn't have been better...beautiful blue skies, with temperatures brisk enough to feel the spirit of the season, but not too cold or muddy (which has definitely happened in the past.)

We hopped on the cheery red bus...




and made our way over the hills where our son found ice that resembled a reindeer...




and then a squirrel!




the perfect tree was found, loaded on a sled, and pulled down the hill.




Inside we enjoyed lunch by a crackling fire then headed home with our treasure. 

During December we had our usual "must-do's" with a visit to the wildlights at the zoo...




and what we call our annual downtown tour of lights, time spent looking in decorated shop windows and walking the town square...





For New Year's Eve my son whipped up his spicy gumbo and my daughter made tortellini alfredo...it was fun to cook with them in the kitchen. Together we made sweet treats like Buckeyes, Charlie Brownies, oodles of cookies, and pies. We watched movies, stayed up late, slept in, and tried to hold onto every minute.

The month flew by as I tried to squeeze every possible thing into every single day, and before I knew it, it was time for school to start and for college classes to begin. It was a long and somewhat quiet 3-hour drive back to, and home from, college.

I once heard someone say that after high school graduation, "Things will never be the same."

I guess that's true...don't get me thinking about it too much, I'll just get weepy. 

What I want is for this old farm to be a place where they always feel comfortable...staying as often as they can, and for as long as they'd like. A quiet spot away from the rigors of college and the stresses of life.  

Oh yes, there's much on my to-do list, but I feel determined...here's to 2020!











Wednesday, December 4

pies...


Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!  We had what we like to call, 


"The Feeding Frenzy for Four" 

which is all the usual Thanksgiving goodies, plus extras for leftovers the rest of the week. Don't you just love leftovers?!  Not only a quick reheat for a terrific dinner, but also sandwiches galore.  And the pies...this year the kids wanted the chocolaty goodness of Toll House Pie and hubby wanted his grandmother's Transparent Pie (think of it as pecan pie without the pecans.)

And speaking of pies, I've been plotting & planning, dreaming & scheming. Since our local year 'round farmers' market has closed for remodeling, I've been thinking about how else to sell my allowable cottage foods...breads, cookies, pies, honey, etc. So I made a few calls and I've found that I can sell goodies from the farm...or more specifically right from our milk house. (do you see the wheels turning?)

And after watching a PBS story about Poorhouse Pies, I became inspired - read their story here...





Then, in the middle of all this plotting & planning, I was gifted with a corner cupboard...perfect for holding baked goods. A few days later I uncovered a tabletop pie safe in a local shop. Do you see where this is going?

With Royer's Pie Haven providing more inspiration! (take a peek here)




After Christmas I'll be spending my snowy winter days making plans to spruce up the milk house...I'll take before & after photos to share.  But this is what I'm aiming for...

a retro vibe...

Pie Makes It All Better Wood Sign by ZietlowsCustomSigns on Etsy, $23.00   




with lots of color

(more from Royer's...
aren't they adorable?!)




















Oh, I have oodles of work to do, but as I've said before...Never Stop Dreaming!

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!






 
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