Monday, February 29, 2016

Who Needs CDs?

My parents always send the boys $5 each for Valentines.  Last year they used the money to go out to eat for lunch one day.  This year, Pierce dragged our old record player up from the basement, and announced that he wanted to buy some records.  He was particularly interested in classical music.
We went to a couple of thrift stores.  You can get a lot of records for $5.  They run about 50 cents each, and the 45s are 35 cents.  We've enjoyed listening to them.

Readers, did you listen to records as a kid?  Did you have a favorite?

Friday, February 26, 2016

Ice and Snow

A couple of weeks ago we got a day of snow - maybe six inches.  This was topped by a lot of ice.  And of course, we lost power. 
We stayed plenty warm with the wood stove, which also allowed us to cook soup and make tea.  We have plenty of oil lamps and candles, and we got to try out our new solar cell phone charger (which worked really well). 

The biggest inconvenience is our well not running.  We had plenty of bottled water and some buckets of water for toilets.  However, I am hoping that within the next year we can reestablish the gravity fed underground mountain stream.  If we can get that hooked up in the house (the line is already run almost to the house), we can have water even when the power is out (at least on the downstairs level - there may not be enough pressure to carry it upstairs without a pump).  This is a huge priority project for me, as we seem to lose power in big chunks of time off and on, and water is a necessity!

Readers, have you had much bad weather this winter? 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


When we first moved to our place there were a lot of old and decrepit sheds.  I wish they had all been salvageable.  Unfortunately, wood boring bees and the elements had done a number on them, and over the years we tore down one single shed, a triple shed, and an open barn type shed (which we tried to repair and maintain for a number of years before finally giving up).  I was sad to see them all go.  Now, we have the little partition shed which used to be off the barn shed that is next to my garden (and is also in dire shape) plus a breezy shed by the house.  I took a picture from the inside of this shed the other day.
I love the old rustic Appalachian sheds, despite their age and despondency.  Paul wants to tear this one down and build my root cellar on the spot.  I really want a root cellar, but I would miss the old shed if we tore it down.  The floor is completely rotted and half the roof has blown off, so it isn't exactly salvageable.  I don't even know what it was used for (Paul thinks it was a smoke shed; I don't see any signs of that myself) but someone many years ago spent time and sweat putting it together, and it seems sad to lose that history. 

One of these days I'll have to scan in pictures of the old sheds and the old homestead to share.  Though they no longer are standing, they are still burned in my memory.

Any other sentimental fools out there today? 

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Redeeming Qualities of Basketball

It's no secret that I'm not big into sports (to the great and everlasting disappointment of my parents).  But I do try to support my boys when they play.  Paul and I don't exactly have super athletic genes to pass on, but we like for our kids to pursue their individual interests.  This year, Cort decided to play basketball. 

Basketball is definitely not one of my interests.  But I supported Cort and got him signed up.  His team is not very good, and if they were keeping score (which they don't for 5 and 6 year olds), his team would have lost every game so far.  The good part about not really liking a sport is that you don't care one way or another if your kid's team wins - you just want him to have fun playing. 

Even though I don't care for basketball, and Cort has never made a single game shot, I've found that I enjoy the games.  This was surprising to me.  But the games are kind of funny.  The kids are all so tiny, and sometimes have no idea what to do.  Other times, the boys and girls (it's a coed team) are hilarious in their blocking of the other team - it's like some crazy chicken dance that they do around one another. 

By far the best part of the game is the community.  The games take place in an older school in the county seat.  You know the type - cracked, worn floors and tarnished, dark halls.  We live in such a rural county that often grandparents and neighbors and friends show up to cheer for these kindergartners and first graders for the full forty-five minutes of a game.  Paul and I often cross paths with someone we know from the other team, and enjoy catching up with them briefly.  If any single kid gets a goal, it's often the parents/grandparents/friends/neighbors from both teams who let up a huge cheer, and it makes me smile every time. 

Without a doubt, I love these mountains and I love the sense of community at these tiny basketball games, stuffed with full bleachers.  Basketball?  Maybe it's not so terrible after all. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

February Garden Prep

The garden is really muddy right now from all the snow and ice melting that happened over the past few weeks.  But I got out anyhow, with mud boots.  Because I'm really excited about Spring next month.

I did a layer of ashes from our woodstove.  I read an article a few months ago in a Hobby Farms magazine about the benefits of ashes in the garden.

After the ashes (which went over a layer of compost added in January), Paul brought in a second layer of rabbit poop.  I had done a first layer in December.  Then I spread some mulch hay and some horse manure.  And Paul and I worked together to dump a bit of topsoil. 

I want to build up a couple of new garden spots this year.  I always get so garden-bitious this time of year.  I can barely stand it.  So much potential, so few weeds!  I love the fresh start that Spring brings. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Abandoned Bus

I've posted about the abandoned bus on our road before, but it's been a while.  And when I was out running in the snow last month I snapped a fun picture of it.  You can see the old chimney.  No one has lived in it in the sixteen years we've been here.  It's fairly decrepit at this point.
Still, I enjoy seeing it when I pass by, and there is some part of me that hopes no one ever comes along and hauls off the bus.  Even ancient as it is, it does have some mysterious charm.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Winter Squash Storage Update

When I posted last fall about storing winter squash in our basement on Paul's wine racks, some of you requested I follow up to let you know how it went.

I'm happy to report that now, in February, we are still enjoying the squash I grew last summer.  Butternut and blue hubbard squash at least.  The cushaw squash went bad more quickly, so I had to use that all up in October I believe. 

The whole family adores these winter squashes, and hopefully if I can avoid the future swarms of squash bugs, it will be a winter staple for us in the future.  I'm still holding out for that root cellar one day, though! 

Readers, any of you still munching on things from the 2015 garden? 

Friday, February 12, 2016

We Have Eggs Again

Last July we ordered chicks, and we have waited a long time for fresh eggs.  All it took was a big blizzard to get our hens to start laying. 
I can definitely taste the difference.  Pierce isn't as thrilled as the rest of us - he is the one person in the family that isn't an egg fan (which is weird, as he used to eat them).  Hopefully his tastes will change, because we're going to be eating a lot more eggs in the future!

Readers, how do you like your eggs?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sugar on Snow

One afternoon after the big snowstorm, my mom posted instructions on Facebook for making sugar on snow.  You may recall when Laura and Mary made this in Little House in the Big Woods.

It couldn't be any easier.  You pour pure maple syrup in a pan and heat it to 234*. 

Then you take the syrup and pour bits of it onto fresh snow.  Eat right away and it has a taffy consistency to it.
The boys loved it so much, and immediately begged to make more.  With the cost of maple syrup lately, we won't be making too much of this, but it is a nice special treat in a snow storm!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Twisted Compositions

After the days out of school due to the snow storm started to run together, I decided the boys needed some structure before their brain cells all dissolved and slipped away into oblivion.  They began doing worksheets in math and reading, and I came up with a few special projects. 

One day, I told them they all had to write compositions.  But these weren't just any compositions.  They had to write an original scary story.  With pictures!  And that evening, the grand finale would be getting to read them to their dad and I with the lights out, by camping lantern.  You wouldn't believe how excited three little boys were about this special treat.

They worked very diligently on their scary stories.  Cort wrote about a zombie goldfish.  Reid wrote about a werewolf called Reid.  And Pierce wrote about an evil chatbot.

True to form, they read their stories to us that evening, by camping lantern.  We all shivered with delight and applauded.  See, busywork really can be fun!

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Abominable Snow Cat

Turns out Bobby likes snow.  Well, mostly he likes being around the boys I think, so when they go out to play in the snow he goes along.  Francie thought it weird that Bobby came out in the snow.  Bobby thought it weird that Francie didn't stay in the shelter with her hay.

Bobby thought snow was fun!  He leaped and jumped and ate bits of snow.  He chased his own shadow.

But then?  Then Bobby got alarmed.  Bobby arched his back and puffed his fur like the abominable snow cat. 

The source of so much drama?  Yeah, this guy.  Naughty bird dog! 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Snowed In

We got snowed in and didn't go anywhere for five days.  It was a nice, relaxed five days.  I fixed something in the crockpot each morning and made homemade bread each afternoon.  Pizza soup, country lima bean and cabbage soup, creamy chicken noodle soup, white chicken chili, and Mexican meatball rice soup.  By the end the boys (who truly do love soup) were like, "Why do we eat soup every single day?".  I think they were getting ready for a revolt.  Luckily, we also had homemade pound cake and brownies and marzipan cake, and one day I made grilled cheeses and fried eggs in a cast iron skillet on the wood stove, even though our power never went out.  Always good to practice the homesteading skills.

The bob sled run made a return this year, much to the boys' (and the dog's) delight.  We read through all our library books, and the boys did individual research reports on T-Rexes, spies, and computer coding.  We kept the wood stove going and the kettle on for tea and hot cocoa.

I don't like winter and cold and I don't like snow, but in the end it isn't so bad being snowed in for a few days. 

Readers, how do you feel about winter?

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Asteroid in the Yard

The other day the twins came running in the house, breathless.

"MOM!  MOM!  Come see the asteroid in the yard!"

Once we started up the hill I had a feeling I knew exactly what the asteroid would be.

I was right.

I had to use the megazoom on my camera to reach it.  And then I had to edit the image and zoom in even more so you could see it. 

It was stuck, way high up in a tree.

Lucky, that tree seems to have stopped it in it's tracks.

A good thing too.  I have a feeling an asteroid like this would really contain some stinging power!

Readers, have you seen any asteroids in your yard lately?