Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Horrible No Good Very Bad Day

We started school a couple of weeks ago. We started slow. I knew that I just had not had time to plan, organize or prepare, but I felt some urgency in what I am hoping to accomplish this year. 

We have enjoyed some beautiful beach days, hikes with friends, and trips to the park. It was even warm enough for an excursion to the dairy for ice cream.
Olive Toddy
 Literally, as I was speaking the words, "Sometimes it is just so hard, but you can't give up. You just have to keep going..." Erik came running in the house telling me that water was pouring out of the light fixture in the garage ceiling.
I knew that our bathroom was above the garage so I darted upstairs to see if I could determine the problem.
Rogue Dryer
 The problem was that our toilet became a geyser! It was spraying toilet water onto the ceiling, walls, and counter, plus it was overflowing at the same time and running in the utility closet behind the water heater.
Thankfully, Erik knew where the water shutoff was and how to turn it off. That ebbed the flow of water while I began by cleaning up the deluge upstairs. I called the landlord to see if he could determine the cause. Then we moved to the basement and cleaned up the boxes and other items that were covered in nasty water that traveled from the upstairs to the garage and down in the basement!
Do Not Use
Meanwhile, my dryer, which previously worked perfectly decided it didn't want to turn on anymore. Remember that I just had a flood and used every.single.towel in my house to clean it up.  AND Sean decided to clean the sink trap and as he was screwing the pipe back on it snapped! Mind you it couldn't just snap, OH NO, it snapped between the sub floor and the basement ~ In between the floors of the house!
I was in the process of cleaning out the garage when I decided to treat myself to a Toddy. I poured the last of my half and half, added the coconut syrup then grabbed my 'Toddy" out of the fridge and dumped it in, only to discover that I grabbed the olives instead! Tragically I had to dump the whole thing out, Olive Toddy just doesn't appeal to my taste buds.
I ended up cleaning up my entire garage and even moved one of our freezers. I am quite pleased with the new organization. All the bikes orderly, helmets, scooters, and beach stuff all have their own storage container and place!
Not quite how I had anticipated my day, but extremely happy with the results! It was even nice enough to hang my laundry on the line. It really wasn't a horrible no good very bad day although it would have been easy to get caught up in all the mishaps and think that way. I chose to focus on how clean everything was and be thankful that I already had dinner in my working Crockpot. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Puff-Puff The (not so) Proud Rooster

Warning: This post might seem graphic to some. I think it is too, but I really did leave out the super gross and bloody photos.
Clayton had a few helpers catching Puff-Puff. The sounds from the coop were hilarious! 
 Sean and our landlord, Mr. L, have both had several encounters with Puff-Puff our Proud Rooster. I guess we know now where the term Cocky comes from, He was a proud Cock.
The important term there being: was.
This photo cracks me up, not so much for me beheading my first rooster,
but for Ruby's hand over her heart, and Erik's mouth wide open. 
 I sold our hens a few weeks ago. I was tired of feeding them for not enough eggs (which I later discovered a cache of eggs in the bushes) I digress, since the hens have been gone Puff-Puff has been alone, except when he tries to bother our pullets. He was rather outspoken and frankly, with then hens gone he had no job.
 I often tell the children you don't work, you don't eat. Puff-Puff wasn't working so he got what was coming to him! (Please read the tongue in cheek, and know that is not what would happen to my children).
Just for the experience we let him run around with his head cut off and watched his last few attempts at crowing. There was some morbid laughing. It was kinda gross, kinda educational.
I did not have control of the camera so there were some rather disgusting photos,
especially of the rooster's feet in various 'situations'
 I was surprised at how heavy he was. I was also surprised how difficult it was to chop his head completely off. I did 3/4 of the decapitation, and Aaron finished the job for me.
I canned applesauce last night, blackberry jam this morning, then kept the pot hot
and butchered a rooster this afternoon, not bad.
After putting him in hot water and removing the feathers, we took him outside and gutted him. I cut him  from sternum to stem. I did gag a bit when we cleaned the neck and removed the bowels. Seriously, felt like the smell was still on my hands long after I was done. Erik commented that our anatomy this afternoon was much more fun and interesting than our anatomy this morning. Real life.
The children saved as many neck feathers as possible.
 Ian decided to dress up his Dollar Tree cowboy hat. 
We, I mean I, had to finish plucking the rooster with tweezers, then put him in a pot to simmer for a few hours. I got 3 quarts of broth, and some pretty good looking meat for dinner! The skin was tough, leathery and looked like a teenage boy with bad acne.
Erik was disappointed that we had already done science, because this,"Totally, could have counted!"
Ian claimed the rooster feet. He wilted when I told him they were not coming in the house.
I said, "You know those aren't coming in the house, Right!?"
He replied, "I do now."
 He had hoped to put them in his treasure chest. I don't know, maybe they would smell good?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Feeling The Love

We have always had the desire to move to the country, have a farm with animals and productive work for the children. It is a wonderful experience. In my dreams we all worked side by side, laughed, cried, got dirty,  toiled and played together.
I wonder if picking beans is dangerous? They are all wearing helmets. 
Dreams are often not reality. However when they are there is great satisfaction. We pulled the children off their bikes and into the garden to harvest the beans. I love bush beans however, we could get more bounty from the pole beans. We should have harvested sooner and more often. I am giving myself some grace in that we ate from the garden most of the summer (ignore all the lettuce to the right that has gone to seed), and although some of the food wasn't used we definitely got our $1.99 worth from the packet of seeds. I can't wait till all those tomatoes turn red! Salsa and Red Sauce are among the top to process.
In between picking, they found corn to eat fresh from the stalk. 
We picked the bushes clean then Sean ripped them out to feed to the cows, and chickens.
I tend to get into things over my head but I am willing to try. I admit I was nervous about pressure canning the beans by myself. Sean and the boys were going to a Scout camp overnight. I could think of a lot of things that could go wrong. I knew that it need to be done.
Me, Ruby, Granddad, Taylor (taken by Ian(8))
Thankfully, Sean didn't entirely trust me either. So he called his dad and asked him to come help me. My father in law drove 3 hours and was here by the time the girls, Ian and I were done eating breakfast.
Mama's helper Miss Ruby
He brought his pressure canner and set up a second station in the garage. The girls, Ian and I snapped beans and filled jars. Ivan ran the pressure canners. It was super efficient and wonderful to have my Father In Law all to myself (well I had to share with Taylor, Ian, Ruby and Liberty).
I talked his ear off and cherished the time we had together.
Taylor worked on making 4 Manicotti dinners, 1 for Saturday night, and 3 for the freezer. She also made us an apple crisp for dessert.
32 Quarts of Green Beans! Aren't they beautiful? 
Over the last couple of years, Taylor has matured so much and become both capable and competent. I was able to get so much done because she was there to help with the littles both joyfully and willingly.

Ruby, Granddad, and Liberty (in her 27th complete outfit change of the day)
Ivan finally sat down for dinner. As soon has he was no longer vertical the girls moved in for a spot on his lap. They begged him to spend the night. I thanked him profusely and he said he kinda liked it! He also brought us several pints of tuna that he canned. Seriously the best tuna I have ever tasted.
There is some amazing satisfaction going to bed completely exhausted from a long day of productive work. I felt quite content in my farm kitchen, skirt, denim apron, cows mooing in the background, kids riding on the tractor, eating apples straight from the tree, chickens clucking, the gift of time and service from my father in law. Sometimes dreams do come true.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Table Top Mountain

Beautiful picturesque port a potties in the background~
We spent the weekend with some wonderful friends, ate way too much, slept too little, and exercised not enough.
Sean and I wanted to hike, so despite the child that didn't feel good and another with a poor attitude we decided to head up to Table Top Mountain at Mt. Baker.
Erik and Mama
The very first part of the hike we had to cross some snow. Which, necessitated Liberty removing her Keens to get the snow out of the sandal. Pretty quickly I put her in the Ergo and carried her up the quite steep climb with loose rocks. Sean and I switched about 1/2 way up, I was happy to share the load!
Erik and Aaron
Ever since Liberty was born, I have had an irrational fear of heights. I know it is irrational and I know that fear is not from God. I especially have a problem with cliffs and falling. What I failed to remember was that we had to first drive up steep mountain roads, with no shoulder or railing. Then hike to a beautiful vista with a sheer drop off.
Aaron and Erik on the ascent to Table Top in the background
I actually did great until we go to the top and ALL the rest of my family wanted to stand on the very edge. What doesn't make sense to me is why someone would purposefully do something that causes someone else so much stress.
They all know how much I am afraid,  yet they all wanted to do it anyway.
We got some amazing pictures, and enjoyed a great picnic lunch. We felt the chill in the air that fall is quickly approaching. That is, until I had a breakdown. I started crying and we had to leave. The hike down was not fun. Ian had to stay behind Sean and in front of me. He has no discernment about what is safe and what is foolish.
Typically, I avoid airing my dirty laundry here. However, the difference between childish and foolish behavior can be a difficult problem to discern. The Bible is pretty clear when it says in Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 10:17 Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray.

I try to give my children reasons behind my instruction. Not random, arbitrary rules, rather rules that have meaning and consequences. On this particular hike Ian ran with heedless abandon down the trail. Both Sean and I warned him to slow down and pay attention. This was a circumstance where his life was in danger.
Rare photo with Sean and I 
It was a very good reminder that our children are under our protection and although I have expectations of my children I still need to anticipate that they will need corrected and trained in the way they should go. My attitude toward correcting them makes all the difference.
View looking down into the valley from Tabletop.
When I expect to get out of bed at 6:14 A.M. and someone wakes up sick at 5:30 I can be extremely irritated on missing out of those precious 44 minutes of sleep. However, if I know someone is sick and expect to get up several times at night it is a completely different response from me. Instead of frustration or irritation they get compassion and gentleness.
Back: Taylor, Sean, Carolynn, Aaron
Front: Ruby, Liberty, Ian, Erik
Mostly this is a reminder to me to remember that my job is to lead my children and train them in the way they should go. I need to expect them to need correction, expect them to fall short and extend to them the grace and mercy that my Lord and Savior gives me.