Wednesday, July 22, 2015

First Eggs & Some Quilt Blocks

It was exciting day here at the farm!

The past few days we've heard one of the chickens, aka 'the girls', make the egg laying squawk (which is quite different than their normal squawking and 'talking'.  It's more like an announcement that she's getting ready to lay an egg).  I would check the nest boxes but never found any eggs.  I also thought they were still a bit too young to start laying so I didn't think much about it.

This morning one of the girls was making the egg laying squawk again.  Again, I thought they were too young and just practicing.

Meanwhile, I was getting ready to hang the laundry on the line and walked over to where we keep the firewood and the riding mower to get my clothespins off the drying rack that was leaning against the shed and, lo and behold, there were two eggs laying on the ground in a makeshift nest.  Wait, what?  I couldn't believe it!

So, when she started squawking again I decided to put her in the nest box in hopes that she would relate the feeling of needing to lay an egg with getting in the nest box rather than laying them outside.

She wanted no part of it.  Although, she did check it out and hunker down for a bit but then she wanted out.  I let her go but then she started the egg laying squawk again and was meandering around the yard.

So, I put her in the nest box again and closed the coop door.  She jumped down and wanted out of the coop.  I left her in there for a few minutes but let her back out when she did not get back in the nest box.  I didn't want her feeling imprisoned just because she needed to lay an egg.

She immediately went over to the makeshift nest and hunkered down.

A few minutes later she left her nest leaving me a delicious egg!

How exciting!

And I just bought eggs while we were in town yesterday, haha!  Oh well, I will boil those up and save these for breakfast.

We are going to try and leave them in the chicken run for a few days in hopes that they will get the gist of laying their eggs in the nest boxes.  Then we will let them back out to free range again.

This is our first experience with being able to let the chickens free range and we were wondering where they would end up laying their eggs.  Now we know (wink!). 

As many of you on Facebook know, I've been working on my sewing room.  It's a work in progress but, at least I'm able to sew in there in the meantime.

Here's what I've been working on...

This is one block for the guest room quilt.

Here are a few more blocks laid out on our bed in no particular order.  I did alternate the light and dark blocks in all rows except the top row so you can get an idea of how it will look in the end. 

I have four more dark blocks to make then it will be time to decide what to do with the border.  I'm not sure I want to do the border in the pattern.  I think it might be too busy and am leaning towards a simpler, more neutral border so as not to compete with the blocks.  I'll lay out some test strips then decide.

It's been fun being able to sew again after five months of working hard on the house and farm and having a cute room to do it in (wink!).


Monday, July 20, 2015

Garden Update and Driveway Washout

We have had quite a bit of rain these last months which has been awesome for the gardens. In fact, they are flourishing!

The cowpeas are turning dark...

The corn cobs are growing...

We've got squash coming out the wazoo (wink)...

The cantaloupes are getting bigger...

The watermelons are starting to peek through all the vines...

And the tomatoes are getting bigger and bigger...

Not shown are tiny cucumbers about an inch long, tiny lima beans forming in their pods, and green beans and okra ready for the picking. 

We've canned squash; readied and frozen squash slices for frying; and will be making squash relish as soon as I get a couple of ingredients for it.

We've also harvested potatoes, green beans, some onions and garlic, and okra.

Tonight we will go out to the garden, harvest what is ready and make dinner with whatever we find.  Should be fun!  And, yummy!

We've also made jelly.  The last batch was a Sour Cherry Wildflower Jelly made with leftover sour cherry juice from our cherries and fresh-picked wildflowers from the field.

We had some for breakfast this morning on homemade biscuits.  Mmmmm!

While the rains have nourished the gardens a terrible storm the other night destroyed our driveway from the bridge up to the house.

We need to have a drain pipe put in that goes in front of the barn and runs from one ditch to another to deter water from running down the driveway...

Debris washed up and over the bridge...

The runoff washed all the rocks from the drive around the barn down to here and off into the grass...

All the brush in the peninsula is laying flat including our black raspberry bushes.  There was also a pile of wood from the old bridge that is completely gone now...

What a mess...

A fellow came by this morning to help us come up with a solution for the drainage problem.  We decided a pond at the foot of the hill by the barn with a drain pipe running from the pond (for overflow during a storm) under the drive and into a ditch that goes to the creek would probably solve the problem.  And, he would build up our driveway with a crown in the center so any excess water could run off the sides of the road rather than straight down it washing away the rocks and gravel.  The problem with the solution is the cost of having all that done.  I guess that will be on the back burner for now.

It's always something here on the farm (wink!).

So, enough about our drainage issues and the ugly side of the farm.  ugh.

Here is this mornings' view of the barn and mountains...

Early morning on the farm - so pretty!


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

All In A Summers Day

This Summer has found us doing a little bit of everything.  From tending the garden to harvesting to flowers to readying the guest room to preparing for winter to relaxing.

The garden is doing unbelievably well.  We've been blessed with nourishing rains to water and feed the gardens.

We've been readying the guest room for visitors.  The ceiling and walls are painted and the bed is set up and made.  Now it's the fun time of finding things to decorate and furnish it.  

I've also started a quilt for this room in those few hours when I get to relax!

Summer brings flowers.  I found these begonias on clearance at our favorite home improvement store for  $1 each.

They are twice this size now and are helping pretty up the front porch.  (As long as we can keep the chickens (who are coming in to eat the cat food, sigh) away from them!)

The summer flowers attracts beautiful butterflies.

The front pasture is loaded with clover and is buzzing with bees and butterflies.

The rainy summer brought about a huge growth of weeds and brush in the paddock.

You can see in the photo above that the brush is taller than CountryBoy on the tractor.  Nothing like just plowing through and hoping you don't come across a ditch!

Much better!

We had a terrible thunder and lightening storm the other night which made me think of the old lightening rods on the barn.

There's three of them spanned across the top of the barn roof.  Aren't they cool?!

In planning for winter heat sources we decided to purchase a propane tank and have it relocated for easier access to be filled.  The rental tank was located beside the house and had become penned in with trees and shrubs.  CountryBoy used the tractor, some skids and a choker to move it out of there so the propane company can pick it up without having to cut the trees and shrubs back (since it's not the time of year to be doing that).

We've had the utilities marked for when they come to dig the trench to run the gas lines from the new tank to the house.

(The chickens are always ready to help in any project, wink!)

The plentiful rain has filled the creek a bit more.  This section of the creek is one of my favorite spots.  It's a little peninsula by the bridge where the black raspberry patch is.  One day, I hope we can tackle this area.

Summer also calls for homemade ice cream.

We made our first batch of homemade Butter Pecan ice cream using the old hand-crank ice cream maker we found at an antique store.

The ice cream was yummy!

And, while we eat our homemade ice cream we are planning and prepping for winter heat sources.

Fireplace A, we'll call it, is getting a wood-burning insert with triple-walled pipe that will replace the current gas pipe.  (It's a shame we can't use the same pipe.)

CountryBoy removed the gas stove and the mantel.  The installers will remove the existing gas pipe when they do the installation which will, hopefully, be around the end of this week or next.

Fireplace B is on the backside of A and faces the living room.  We will install a vent-less gas heater and rework the mantel for a better fit (and figure out a better solution for the wires).

Now to find some fire wood.  But, first, let me finish my ice cream!

Summers.  A busy time with everything from A to Z.

Love it!


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Sewing In A Disaster

A disaster area that is.  sigh.

Those of you that know me know that I like to be somewhat organized.  I say somewhat because, it seems that just when I get things put in an orderly fashion I turn around and everything is in disarray again.  Those sneaky little unorganizer gnomes (wink).

Anyway, CountryBoy and I recently finished the guest room but a lot of the stuff we used during the construction and painting was still upstairs in the landing which I am going to be using as my sewing room.

Here's the sewing room during the guest room project...

With my sewing machines buried behind the mattress there was no sewing happening there!

So, I started crocheting chair socks for the dining room chairs.  I finally finished all 24 of them and was ready to start a new project.

Now that the mattress is in the guest room where it belongs and I had access to my sewing machines I wanted to get started on the quilt for the guest room.

Starting a new sewing project always intimidates me for some reason.  But, once I psyche myself up to start I always enjoy it.

I also like to have a nice, organized and visually pleasing creative space and right now my space is far from any of those things.

My yarn and fabric stashes are stored in plastic totes and shoved in the corner.  They will remain in the totes until we can seriously tackle this room and come up with pretty and functional storage solutions.

This morning I took the leftover construction stuff downstairs and CountryBoy stored it away.

He is working on a solution for the new track light we installed.  Previously, there was a fan there but with the low ceilings and the need for a light source in the landing we chose to put the fan in the guest room and add the track lighting.  Problem is, there is a continual electrical current there with no switches connected to it.  So, for now, we have a bench at the top of the stairs with a lamp on it to illuminate the stairs at night and I will use a lamp on my sewing table.

I have chosen (or at least try to) ignore the mess and just get started sewing up there.

I got my trusty little Singer Featherweight out and here you can see I'm ready to start sewing strips together.

Last night I finished sewing twenty strips of three together and you can see them draped on the stuff on top of the luggage rack waiting to be pressed.

I am spending today working in the landing/sewing room.  I have already removed the construction stuff, next up is working on the walls and prepping them for paint.  They are in rough shape.  Lots of nails, holes, shelves that need to be taken down and some pretty bad drywall patch jobs.  It's going to take me a while but I will continue to sew in the evenings as I work on the room during the day.  I mean, it can't get any worse, can it?!  I know, famous last words, ha!

Now where's my hammer and spackling (wink)!


Friday, July 10, 2015

Crochet Chair Socks

The wood floors in the farmhouse are made of pine therefore they tend to scratch and scar up easily.  Several well used areas in the house need to be sanded down and re-done.  But, there are so many other things needing our attention that we have decided to leave them be for now and maybe try doing some touch-up in the worst areas.

The room we are using as our dining room was formerly used as a living/family room.  It used to have carpet in there so the floors were in decent shape when we removed the carpet.
After a couple of months of sliding the dining room chairs in and out from the table I noticed scratch marks on the floors even though we had the felt pads on the bottom of the chairs.

One day, while browsing online, I came across this pattern for chair socks.  Click HERE for pattern.

I thought it was a great idea!

So I proceeded to dig through my yarn stash and found some yarn that matched the chairs fairly well.

My yarn was different than what was recommended but it's what I had so I went for it and it worked out.

After reading the pattern I decided to switch it up a bit.  I followed the pattern, for the most part, except that I joined the rounds rather than work in  continuous rounds.  The main reason for this was because when I work in continuous rounds my project always seems to turn out a little wonky. or askewed. or cockeyed.  whichever term make sense to you, ha!

So, here is the way I did it and the yarn that I used...

Chair Socks

Yarn:  Bernat Softee Baby, Light 3
Hook:  F/5-3.75MM

Ch 4, sl st into 1st chain to form a ring
Rnd 1:  ch 1, sc 6 times in center of ring, join with sl st
Rnd 2:  ch1, 2 sc in each sc (12 sc), join with sl st
Rnd 3:  ch 1, 2 sc in next sc, 1 sc in next (repeat 5 times) (18 sc), join with sl st
Rnd 4-7:  ch 1, sc in each sc (18 sc), join with sl st
Rnd 8:  ch 1, sc in next, decrease sc in next two sc (repeat 5 times) (12 sc), join with sl st
Rnd 9:  ch 1,  sc in next 12 sc, join with sl st
Finish off

I'm not a pattern writer so hopefully this will make sense if you're wanting to try making these cute little chair socks.

There ya have it.

I left the felt pads on the bottom of the chair legs and slid the sock over the end.  Between the two I think it is helping eliminate some scratching.

If you try making these with my pattern and have any problems please let me know.  And, good luck!


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Long-Awaited Kitchen Reveal!

It's been almost four months since we gutted our kitchen.  And I mean G-U-T-T-E-D!  Right down to the outer walls of the ol' farmhouse.

We had lots of little problems to solve along the way but bit by bit we tackled each one until we finally have a rustic little functioning farmhouse kitchen.  YAY!

But first, let me remind y'all what it looked like when we moved in...

In this photo I am getting ready to thoroughly clean it thus all the cleaning stuff all over the counters.

This photo was taken from the mudroom (note the wall and doorway).

And this photo was taken when CountryBoy was in the process of fixing the leaky sink.

Unfortunately, I don't have very many before shots because once we discovered the oven didn't work we decided to gut the whole thing making that our first major project.

Here it is completely gutted and the walls dividing the kitchen and mudroom are gone which gained us a little extra square footage since we were extending the kitchen to the outside door on the left.

Now that you're all caught up, without further ado, I give you our rustic little farmhouse kitchen...

We took the cast iron range (and yes, it is ridiculously heavy!) completely apart and gave it a good scrubbing.  Then we lightly sanded any rust off and spray painted the cast iron with a high-heat spray paint.

Unfortunately, we have not fixed the non-working oven yet.  But, we haven't given up on it (we just haven't made it a priority) and the stove top works great so for now, we'll keep using the toaster oven to warm and heat things up.

Speaking of warming and heating things up did you notice that there is no microwave in there?  When we were designing the new kitchen CountryBoy asked where the microwave was going and I told him there wasn't going to be one in there.  He was a little taken aback but quickly recovered and neither of us has missed not having one.

The range is a very low/short range so we built a platform for it to sit on.  Kind of like the star of the kitchen!

We reused the original cabinet doors (just gave them a good sanding and a new coat of paint) and the shelves were from the original kitchen walls.  We made the countertops from 2x6's and my rustic cabinet is made from barnwood from the old chicken coop.

CountryBoy came up with this awesome scrap bowl drawer!  It works great and is tucked away and out of sight until we take the contents to the compost bin or chickens (depending on what's in there.). 

We added a few conveniences, like this pullout trash and recyclable drawer.

And, this pullout drawer under the sink so we can get to the cleaning stuff.

The floors are made out of high-grade plywood that we had cut into 8 inch strips then we stained and sealed them.

We hung the cast iron pots from a piece of black iron pipe mounted on the wall and some of my utensils are hanging from an old metal rake we brought here from Florida.

To make the kitchen feel bigger we cut a window out above the coffee and tea bar.

Coffee or tea anyone?  Or maybe a piece of fruit?  How 'bout a pickle, ha?!

Then there's my farm sink.  I love my sink!  It has been SO nice being able to wash big pots and poke salad and berries in it.  Plus, it just looks awesome!

CountryBoy made these glass holders for me and attached them to the underside of the reclaimed shelf.  They are a great space saver and makes it so convenient to grab some water out of my adorable drink dispenser!

We also widened the doorway into the kitchen.  It helps bring more light into the dark hallway and gives the kitchen a larger, more open feel.

I still need to paint the trim but I haven't decided yet what I want to do with them so, they will stay this way for the time being.

The shelf to the right of the sink is for my taters and onions.  I am still looking for the perfect baskets but, for now, the plastic bins I already had are doing the job until the right ones come along.

There ya have it...  Our rustic little farmhouse kitchen!

I hope you enjoyed the tour as much as we're enjoying our rustic little farmhouse kitchen.