Saturday, January 31, 2015

Poem: A Farmer's Dream

This morning a poem came to me while I was doing dishes, and I thought I would share it with you. Don't judge my poetry too harshly!

A Farmer's Dream

I dream of a tractor that works,
of snow that falls gently.
Of bright sunny days so grass can grow.

I dream of dirt that is soft
with life that teems through it,
and yields to the scoop of my hand.

I dream of breeze-filled Summers
and crisp Winter days,
with long Springs and Falls in-between.

But mostly, I dream,
Of a tractor that works.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Framing and Holidays

We finally have framing! Since it's winter here in Iowa (a fact lost on none of us here), things like home construction have a tendency to... stop. Because tools and people don't work well when the temperature is in the single digits. But it warmed back up and now we have progress again! In these pictures, the basement is up but I'm told we have more than that now. I just haven't been out to get more pictures. These were taken Friday.
And here we're looking at H's room,
and here's a pic taken from a spot where I'm trying to take pictures from somewhat consistently.
Before this, we had plumbing rough-in and concrete floor poured, as well as some fairly deluxe waterproofing. I don't know if we need waterproofing this deluxe, but I do know that I'd rather do it now than later!!
We also went out and put in some water lines one day, here is a pic taken from my "consistent spot" while Ryan helps hook the water line to the one in the basement before the concrete was poured.
And here are some pics of he and I digging trenches.
I spent lots of time working the mini excavator we rented.
 This is actually before we rented the mini ex when Ryan was putting some water lines in the FIRST time. Yes, I say that because we used plastic fittings the first time. Word to the wise: brass is worth the money. 
 Here's what my view looked like most of the day we put in water lines.
 Nice, straight, smooth trench. We had a funny moment when Ryan was trying to get the pipe to make the turn he's standing in below and couldn't seem to move enough dirt to get a good radius. So he looks at me and says, "I wish there was a lot less dirt right HERE" and I swear not 10 seconds later the trench collapsed in that exact spot. He didn't hit it or anything, it just decided to cut us a break. It was awesome.
 Yes, I realize it looks like I laid down in the dirt and took a picture. I'm standing on the bottom of the trench, you can see root sticking out of the trench walls beside me. So the trench was taller than I am.

I'm excited progress is being made on our house, framing is fun because it looks like so much progress so fast. 

On the crafting front, I haven't gotten much fully "done" recently. I did finish the quilt top I've been working on and reporting on, I'm just trying to figure out how I'm going to quilt it.
I didn't make much for Christmas presents this year, but I did make my brother and sister-in-law some super-awesome hipster Hama (Perler) bead cassette tape coasters.
I love how they turned out, I just went off a picture I found on Pinterest and made them slightly larger so they have a chance of fitting a glass. I backed them in felt. My brother isn't really a hipster, but he lives in northern California and is just enough of a hipster that I like to tease him about it. :-)

In family life, since my last blog post we finished moving. Man, that was a huge stress on all of us. We moved not just a house with two young children, but also a farm. And Ryan wanted to save EVERYTHING. I swear, if it was "possibly useful someday", he had to save it. At least the farm stuff is at the new farm and I don't have to move it again. Hopefully not ever. All we have at the house we're living in is a bunch of freezers. 

Here some very wonderful people helped us move the chicken pens. 
And this was the picture I took to say "goodbye" to the old house. The new owner did decide to tear it down, he found the main support beam was cracked. I have mixed feelings about that. I am glad to have it sold and be moving forward, but it was our home for almost 7 years and I did have two babies in it. I'm sure it's a better house in my memory than in reality....

Speaking of my two babies, they continue to grow (as kids do). Here Z passed out, utterly exhausted on our Picket Fence Creamery turkey delivery day. It's actually quite rare that he sleeps in our arms; on plane flights to and from California after Christmas, he never once fell asleep in our arms despite a total lack of a nap. 
He also turned 2 shortly after my last post, I found this idea for a cake on Pinterest (of course) and it was perfect. Chocolate malt balls and chocolate frosting, and I didn't need any cake decorating skills at all. Although cake decorating classes are on my bucket list.
Since we also got some snow, I took the somewhat obligatory "younger child watches older child play in the snow" picture.
Since we are in Ames over the winter, we decided to get a membership to the Reiman Gardens, which has an indoor butterfly garden along with a conservatory. Z is so far delighted by the butterflies.

H is also doing well, she is getting closer and closer to really reading. She builds words at school, and recently at home with zero supervision made this picture of a prince from a kit from her uncle from Christmas. My favorite part of this, other than the awesome word building skills, is that I think it looks like Weird Al Yankovic.
H also got to take over her Daddy's haircut time (he decided he didn't need one, so she asked for one) and completely loved salon time. The stylist even put glitter in her hair, and I think she had as much fun getting her hair done as she did opening Christmas presents.
I also attempted to foster more of a spirit of giving rather than just receiving with her over Christmas this year, so we went to a building workshop at Lowe's where H built Z a train. He adores it, and she enjoyed making it. She's not quite strong or coordinated enough yet to really do a lot of it, but she and I worked together and I think it was helpful that she made him a Christmas present. I know it's no soup kitchen volunteering, but it's a step in the right direction, I hope.
With that, I'll leave you today with a (rare) full family picture. I hope you all have a great 2015!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Basement Walls and Gingerbread

We have basement walls! They got poured on Monday, right before this massive cold snap we're going through. 
The black coating is the waterproofing on the outside of the walls, in this picture the front door will be about in the middle of the picture, in the part that is coming toward the viewer. 
And the second picture is looking at the garage on the left. I'm facing east in taking these pictures. 

Ryan has also been working on putting in water lines, here he's standing in a water line trench, putting in a hydrant.

This last weekend we also had a very wintery activity and we made gingerbread houses with Grandma and Grandpa.
Z happily played with toy cars while we did.
And then we decorated them, of course.

Little Z turns 2 tomorrow, so since he is otherwise underrepresented in this post, here he is outside Target, very disappointed that the big red ball doesn't move:
Happy Birthday little man!

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Sometimes being a farm wife is about poop. I spent about 4 hours today helping Ryan chase cows onto our trailer, and he took two loads out to the new farm. The third load is on the trailer now to be taken out tomorrow, and we have one more load to go after that. Today I learned that cow poop is a very slippery substance, but I managed to not plant myself in any of it. Ryan did manage to get too close to a cow in the close confines of the trailer and was less lucky. I also came in from one of these herding sessions to a very dirty diaper on my son, hence my revelation. At least the majority of the cattle are moved, but that last load could be a real bear.
The other poop-related thing that happened is that we got our septic on-grade lines installed. These are like laterals, but not buried because the new farm's soil is heavy clay without much drainage. We were supposed to have a basement dug on Friday or Saturday, but that didn't actually happen. So here's the picture of the on-grade lines before they get covered with dirt:
In other farm news, on one of the trips today the cows did this to the trailer lighting wires:
If you remember, our trailer lighting was already pretty jury-rigged. So Ryan brought home a new connector and we now have a more sophisticated jury-rigged trailer light set! This time around we had enough slack to run the wires along the top of the trailer, with ny-ties holding it in place and the extra slack wrapped around. It's classy looking.
My caution toward doing my own work on my car is fading a little, at least with some tasks. I know, I know, I'm a mechanical engineer. But still, I don't touch my own car. But when a headlight burned out and was already cracked and yellowed, I decided I was going to replace it myself. It was going to cost me $180 in labor only to have a shop do it, so I turned to YouTube. Love YouTube, so very helpful in telling me where all the fiddly little clips and screws were. 
The result is a headlight that now matches the other one (it was always much clearer because Ryan hit a deer and it had been replaced last year) and works! Ha!
No sewing news this time because my machine is in the shop for 3 weeks. :-(

Halloween was this week, and I apologize for the terrible pictures of my kids. H was Belle, and Z was a cowboy. 
H did fine with the whole trick-or-treat thing, and Ryan even made up a joke for her:
Knock Knock
Who's there?
A Kid.
A Kid who?
A kid who wants candy!
It went over pretty well and we did have about a half dozen people ask for it. 
With Z we mostly focused on "Thank you" and "Bye", he doesn't have the Trick-or-treat down at all. He also pronounces "Bye" with a "D", so was waving and cheerfully yelling "Die!!" at people all night. 
All in all, a pretty good time was had by all, but Z wanted to ride in another kid's red wagon so badly that it was apparently tantrum-worthy.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


The long-awaited post has arrived; we sold our farm. I waited until it actually closed to post this so I wouldn't curse it somehow, but I deposited the check of funds leftover from the sale today and all the paperwork is signed. The new owner is actually letting us rent our place back from him until December 1st, so we get some time to move slowly. We'll live in my parent's house in Ames while we build our new home.
I'll start posting views of the new place as we build, so here is our "blank slate" as it stands right now. We're basically looking where the front door will be, and we are facing East. Some more pictures taken from the same spot, from north to south:

I know it doesn't look like much right now, but starting next Friday I think we'll have a hole! Then we'll fill the hole with a house. Yes, we are building a house over the winter in Iowa. It's crazy, but I think we've already proved there is a lot of crazy going on here. I think we can get the shell of the house in place before winter really sets in, which means we can make progress over the winter. 
We also have a ton of work to do on fencing, wiring, water, etc. so we had a work day two weeks ago. Wonderful friends helped build fence:
And wire the building:
There is still a long way to go, but it felt good to get so much done. 

We're reaching the point in our farming season where we are taking birds to the locker, getting ready for winter, etc. This is a picture from (chicken) locker day, showing our turkeys and cows hanging out. I actually took it because Ryan is always asking me if I've seen cows, so I was sending him a picture that I had eyes on some cows. Recently they've been challenging fences like crazy, and one bull in particular seems to have lost all respect for electric fence. 

On the quilting front, I did a couple of mug rugs for a United Way fundraiser at work, which turned out well. Mug rugs are kind of fun because they're not very big (these are about 7 inches by 12 inches or so) and they sew up quickly. 
I also finished the quilt top for the one I've been working on, that in my last post I flipped the "sea" on. I got the borders on it during my quilt retreat last weekend.
It's 84 inches by 108 inches, and the border is intended to be the night version of the inside. This picture shows the colors closer than the last one I posted. 

The kids continue to do well, H still likes school and is a hair's breadth from being able to read. Here she is working on a puzzle.

And Z is definitely a toddler, with all the world-exploration tendencies that come with it. Here he checks out the chickens while they were still in the brooder a couple of weeks ago. 
 With that, I'm excited and relieved to finally be moving Forward.