Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Long update: Stuck, little sewing projects, winter goings-on

Fair warning: this is going to be a long catch-up post, and is likely to be scattered. I'm on a business trip and have access to internet, which is a rarity. My workplace blocks this blog site (for good reason), so I just have to have extended access to unbridled internet to update it.

First, farm news. In early November Ryan was working on our drainage behind the house and into a kind of a creek we have there, and got stuck. And by stuck, I mean really stuck:

We ended up calling a neighbor to pull him out of all of the muck, the truck just wasn't even beginning to cut it.
He had a little helper working back there too (on a different day, a little farther up the slope):

Speaking of little helpers, I had one come with me on turkey deliveries too.

We ended up doing Ames turkey deliveries amidst fresh snow, and at that point in the season snow was still a fun novelty!
Last Saturday we did our business taxes, and only filed for a $200 loss for the business this year! That is awesome and means we're getting much closer to profitability. Without writing off our mileage and our depreciation, we did make about $6000 last year. Total sales are around $18,000 and were about 40% beef, 35% chicken, and 25% turkey. I usually like to tell you all how we are doing as a business, partially because I think it's easy to lose sight of the fact that we are a business. I feel like the business had a good year overall, and I'm optimistic as we settle into our new location.

For my sewing, I mostly worked on a bunch of little projects. First up, Ryan needed a new Dopp kit. He threw out his old one when he opened it up to pack it for a trip and found it covered in mold inside and out. I did some googling to find a tutorial, and sewed something up:

The purple bag on the left is my Dopp kit (purchased from Target). That sad, mopey creation on the right was my first attempt. Not so much a win. So I thought about it, changed some dimensions, and tried again:

Much improved. This one actually looks like something and functions (and doesn't make Ryan cringe when he looks at it).

I also made some table runners, here is one example:

The pattern is "Triangle Frenzy" if you're curious; it's easy and fun and involves cutting striped fabric into 60 degree triangles.

For whatever reason, I also seem to know a lot of people having babies right now, so I made another small baby quilt, this one is about 3 ft square.

It was inspired by a pattern called Hugs and Kisses by Tamarack Shack, but I didn't quite get it right. Ah well, it's done and when it comes to baby quilts, done is definitely better than perfect.

On the house front, we've continued to work on all of the finishing projects. We almost got the outside painted before it got too cold to work outside, so this picture doesn't have all of the trim done and I do know it. Sigh. I blame Iowa winters.

I do like the color a lot, and I will get the rest of the exterior done when it warms up again!

Recently I've been consumed with tiling our master bathroom surround. This was an all-consuming project and I am SO glad to have it done. We actually took our first shower in it this morning, so that made today a good day for me.

Most of the tile is just basic 6" off-white tile, but my one luxury here was these beautiful heron tiles from a company called Earthsong Tiles in Canada. It's a couple that does them by hand out of their home, and I just love them. Here's a closer look:

I also had a little helper working on cleaning grout with me a few days ago, she did a nice job helping!

My last house/crafting item doesn't classify well so it's going to go here. When my grandmother died a couple of years ago, I inherited a piece of needlepoint from my great grandmother. It's floated around my house in a horrendously ugly frame since then:

My apologies if this frame is your style, but it's certainly not mine. So I had it reframed and it's found a place in our bedroom.

I also had them frame it a little tighter to get rid of some of the awkward space around the embroidery, and I'm very happy with how it turned out.

The kids are doing very well, and are happy and healthy. When fall color first started, we made some window decorations using clear contact paper.



The kids were much more into this than I expected, with H making houses and flowers and Z making storms and monsters (can you find them below? Some imagination required).


Then in October we took a family trip to Disneyland with my dad, stepmom, brother, and sister-in-law. It was a great trip and it was nice to all go somewhere together.


For Halloween we had a cowboy and a princess. Not a lot of creativity here, I'm hoping they forgive me when they're older. There was a lot going on in October.


For Christmas, we did our traditional tree hunt, which meant trekking into the pasture and chopping one down. It definitely had a very seedy look to it, but it worked! (and there's my ham of a daughter being a camera hog.)


H and I also took a ski trip in December where she had her first skiing experience. Here we are all ready to go:


And here she is at the end of her first day, tired but you can see the satisfaction and accomplishment in her face. She enjoyed it and did well.


And since this blog has been a little heavy on my daughter, we'll finish up with some pics of my son.
Z sandwich - Daddy, Z, Nermal!


And Daddy indulged him with a motorized toy train engine for his train track. It's like heaven for him. Those of you who know us well know that I have a general "no batteries" rule in my house for toys because all of their noises and lights drive me up the wall. I hereby pin this one on my husband and maintain that I'm still trying to hold the rule...

And finally, the last few days he's been sick and on Saturday morning we persuaded him to take a morning nap in our bed. We lured him in with cuddles and let him fall asleep, where I couldn't resist taking a pic.

Sleep well, little one!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Kindergartener, Trim staining, and Disappearing 4 patch

Since my last post, I put a kindergartener on the school bus. I'm really not broken up about it; she is ready and likes school. I never rode the bus (I lived too close to school), so it's very nice to just put her on the bus in the morning (at 7 AM!!) and know that she'll get there. 

We had an old post on the farm that had rotted off and was holding a gate, so Ryan pulled it. After doing so, we determined it was almost entirely hollow; I know this is insect damage, but I'm not sure what kind. I think it's kind of pretty, in an I'm-glad-it's-in-my-pasture-and-not-my-house kind of way.

And here Ryan and our friend Jared are rehanging the gate on the other post on the other side. 

In the house, I've been doing a lot of sanding and staining. We're using light stain, so there isn't usually a big contrast between our before and after. Stairs before:
Stairs after:
I've also been finishing and setting up more closets, here is my closet. It's the largest closet I have ever had, and it's just the right size without being overlarge. Of course, because it's bigger than anything I've had, it's not very full and in the bottom right if you think you see quilting materials, you're totally right.

In other farm news, we had a day where the turkeys managed to break out. They've been growing pretty well this year, which is a blessing. Here Ryan works on putting them back in their paddock. 

We also attended Penoach Winery's Apple Festival a couple of weekends ago to sell some meat and H enjoyed the wagon rides they were having. She spent hours all morning riding the wagon and chatting up the drivers. 

We tried to take some cows to the sale barn but after chasing them for over 2 hours, we failed. There is one cow in particular (she's old and wily) that we want to sell, but we were unable to catch her. I think we need some cowboys and lassos. In the meantime, Z and I hung out and took selfies. 

This is after Ryan lifted him over the gate:

I did finish a quilt for a friend of mine who is having a baby in March, the pattern is just a simple disappearing four patch made with all of my novelty animal prints (I apparently have way too many of those).

At a school rally, H picked up some truly ridiculous glasses. She's judging you right now:

And I will leave you with this beautiful sunrise from a few days ago. The weather is currently at the perfect time of the year that early fall brings us in Iowa.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Closet, Green Boy Quilt, and Jenga

As is typical every few months, the tractor died. This time it died down the road from our place about a half a mile while moving hay. It appears to have been due to junk in the fuel line, but I did remember to take a picture this time. It's a measure of how far we've come since moving to the country that I just brought Ryan the truck, he chained up the tractor, and I drove the truck while he steered the tractor back to the house with a minimum of fuss. Then he was able to clear the fuel lines without a lot of trouble and get her running again. All of that seems small, but there was a time when it would have been a big deal!

Adjusting to the new house is going well, it's kind of nice we are close to the cattle when they are in some pastures. One morning I woke up to this outside our window; all of the calves were just hanging out in the sunrise.
Obviously I took that picture through the screen on the window, sorry about that.

As for the house itself, we've continued to work on small tasks. Here is H's closet with some shelves hung on the wall. I still have one more bar to hang to the right of the shelves, but I think it will serve her well. 

We also got the last retaining wall done, next will be the deck. We have that scheduled for early-mid August, so we will see how that goes!

Ryan also had an interesting adventure one day last week. So marijuana is a weed in Iowa. Not the kind you can smoke or make hemp out of, but its more boring cousin. It grows 7 feet tall all across our property where the soil was disturbed (which is most of the property) and we didn't get it mowed while it was still 1-2 feet tall. It's relatively resistant to any kind of herbicide (and if we spray it, other things around it tend to also die), and the stalks are also fairly thick and hard to cut. So Ryan was contemplating buying a machete. Then he thought about the sword his mother gave him for an 18th birthday present. While I thought this sounded fairly crazy, he sent me evidence that the crazy idea of cutting down the weed with a sword actually worked:

On the quilting front, I finished the quilt for my new nephew (Ryan's sister's son) who was born in March. It was inspired by "Snowflake Baby Girl Quilt" by MelissaHevey on Etsy

Here's the back, pieced with scraps:

And a detail with the tag. 

The kids are doing well, here they are playing in the sandbox:

Ryan's dad reads to Z (Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg - that book is so fun. We love it and read it a lot).

Z plays (as always) with things with wheels. That is a car on top of a tractor that is pulling a manure spreader (he calls it a trailer) that is carrying another two or three trucks.

And last night we went to Sunset in the Vineyard at Penoach Winery. It was a beautiful night with great music, and we enjoyed playing Giant Jenga that they had set up. The band is behind me while I take this picture. 

And then, of course, the inevitable always happens at the end of Jenga....


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Concrete, Grading, and Field Day

House changes are definitely more subtle now, the latest is getting the grading done around the house and putting in our concrete. It's very nice to have the use of our front door now and it's also helping a lot with the mud.

Here H is modeling one of our retaining walls, which was part of the grading work.

Here Z enjoys the freshly poured concrete ramp out front.

We've also been working on the trim in our house, here is trim with the quarter round we installed on it. 

We also are at the beginning of our production season, so here Ryan is rolling up some polyline in front of our chicken tractors. 

I was helping gather posts for him.

Z and H were out there "helping" too.

The other major event around here is that yesterday we hosted a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day on high tensile fence building. We had a little over twenty attendees come to learn about building fence and eat lunch at our new farm!

As you would expect, it was exciting and stressful and fun, and Ryan did a great job of teaching and facilitating discussion.

Ryan even managed to shock himself on a line during the workshop that shouldn't have been live. We met some people nearby, even a couple miles away, which was a great way to make connections in a new place.

The kids are doing well, here Z works with play-doh at the daycare he attends about one day every couple of weeks.

Here H found a farm kitty at the farm where we buy our feed, which was a highlight of her day. 

Lastly, we have found some pictures of Ryan from when he was just slightly younger than Z. See the resemblance?