Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Mango Happenings

I was recently informed that I had once again slipped in my blogging habits.  I really am without excuse, just busy as usual.  Here are some of the things that have happened in the last month.

There have been some silly moments.  A red mask bought at Salvation Army has brought a lot of surprise and laughter.  Car likes to play with Elizabeth!

All the critters, including the barn cats, which now number seven, have survived the cold without any issues.  A couple of the roosters may have had a bit of frostbite on their combs, but no other problems.  It was bitter cold this February which is very unusual for Ohio.  We had days when it barely got to zero.  Anytime it warmed up close to thirty, the snow fell and then the temperature dropped back down to zero.  I think Minnesota may have sent their January weather to Ohio.  They are welcome to take it back!  This week the temperatures have finally warmed up into the forties and fifties.  Yeah for spring!!!  The colder and harder the winter, the more spring is appreciated.  Southern folk just don't have that same hard earned appreciation for spring as those of us in the north!

The boys enjoy wrestling and doing boy stuff.  Not always sure what that is, but they seem to like it.

The children saw some really cool pictures of snow sculptures with glow sticks lighting them up.  They decided to try it, only to discover that glow sticks don't work in sub zero temps.  They came in and decided to attach them to the ceiling fan blades.  They found that that was totally neat and definitely better than looking at them in the freezing cold!

One project that had been on our list since we bought the property, was to take this tree down.  It had some limbs that were over the house.  It was a silver maple.  A branch had fallen off once before we bought the house and knocked over the chimney and damaged the roof.  We decided that we didn't need a repeat performance.

A tree company that had brought us logs for years when we heated with wood at the old house, was looking for work and we had them take the tree down.  They had all the fancy equipment.  The snow pack on the yard made it so that the big equipment didn't tear up the yard.

They finished up by grinding out the stump.  Having this tree down really opened up the view to the back of the property.  So much nicer than looking at a tree trunk out the family room window.  Also, now I have wood to try and grow mushrooms on.  One of my projects for the spring and summer.

Elizabeth did a couple junior speech events.

Last week we spent three days at an NCFCA speech and debate tournament.  This is a different league than the children usually compete is ( usually we do CCA).  Thomas was really wanting this experience, as he wanted to try Lincoln Douglas debate.  In the past he only had competed in Team Policy Debate.  In Lincoln Douglas it is two people debating a values resolution.  This year the resolution is whether freedom or equality should be more highly valued in economics.

Thomas had never tried Lincoln Douglas at all.  He had never even done a practice round.  He had read a book and watched three rounds on you tube.  He lost his first round due to inexperience.  He is a fast learner though.  He ended up breaking into the semifinals!  That means he qualified for regionals.  We will try to get there.  It will involve a trip to Oshkosh, WI.

Elizabeth and Bethany.

This past weekend was the AWANA Grand Prix car race.  It was well attended by many parents of the clubbers, and the gospel was preached clearly!  The kids seemed to have a great time.

The children design and race their little cars.  They send them down a track and everything is timed by a computer.  Excellent sportsmanship was demonstrated by all the kids!

Not sure what was up with certain 'adults'!  My camera seems to bring the best out of Tammy!  

The snow is about 2-5" deep, despite the rain and warm weather.  The warm (45 degree) super moist air creates fog.  Elizabeth was wanting to explore and take pictures.  She thought it looked like 'fresh made lard with trees growing out of it'.  Yes, she was barefoot in order to climb the tree and no, she doesn't have a coat on.

Can you see the child wandering in the fog covered fields?  She loves being outdoors!

T-Bob was also fascinated by the fog.  He had to stop and take some pictures that he could share with his cousin in the Philippines. We were heading out to his basketball awards ceremony.  It was very amazing to look at the fog, but not so pleasant to drive in.  It was a real 'pea soup' fog.

T-Bob was recognized for his hard work on and off the court.  He was a co-captain on the junior high team.  He also shared what he had learned through the team devotions.  Thomas decided to go to debate practice instead of the basketball awards. He was also commended for being a hard worker.

This pretty much summarizes the last month.  There has been the normal life events and lots of planning for the spring, summer, and fall.  We have to figure out what we are going to raise in both the livestock and plants departments.  The busy season will soon be upon us.  We are enjoying the last bit of winter quiet.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

These Little Piggies Went to Market

Pigs have been a big part of our farming experience this fall.  We got our pigs on July 31st.  We started off with 5 pigs.  They were so tiny and cute. The five of them fit in a dog carrier.  They were 5 weeks old when they arrived.

We let them come out of the carrier and into the pen on their own.  They came out and immediately eating all the lush greenery in the field.

It was a cool summer and the nights were down in the fifties.  I was a little worried about them handling the cold, but they were fine.

We put a garbage can with hay in it so they had a place to cuddle and stay warm.  All of our pigs liked to sleep together and share their heat at night, even when they were big hogs.

The pigs grew and grew.  We had a medical issue and ended up losing two of our piggies.  We made some changes in their feed and water procedures.  We gave them some herbs and they all recovered and started to really grow!  They were very friendly and would come to the fence to be petted and scratched.  

The hogs' names were Brazil, Panama and Trail Mix.  How did we come up with those names?  T-Bob assessed the spots on their skin and determined that their spots resembled maps of the two countries, and the other looked like trail mix.  The largest pig is a barrow and was named Brazil.  He had a back injury and required spinal adjustments several times.  It made a huge difference and he was once more able to get up and walk easily.

We moved our pig's pen every day to keep them on fresh pasture.  This worked very well and made it so that we had no issues with smell.  The chickens would come behind and clean up the spilled feed so that we didn't have rodent issues.  It was a system that worked well for us.  It also meant that we never had to shovel their manure and they put it on the field for us.  It was a win-win.

 The pigs were to be at the butcher  on February 2nd by 8 AM.  The excitement came when we realized that there would be a storm coming in on the day before.  We had to be able to get a trailer into the field to get them loaded, and then back out.  This would be very challenging to do in a foot of new fallen snow.  We borrowed a friend's trailer and loaded them on Saturday before the snow started.  It went pretty easily compared to many of the horror stories our friends told us of escaping pigs and hours of muddy labor to get them in the trailer.  It was about a 45 minute project.  We put hay in the bottom and food and water in the trailer and the pigs seemed very happy in there.  It was probably a lot warmer than their open sty out in the field.

We had to take them to the butcher in the middle of the snow.  It took us twice as long as it should have and was very exciting.  The roads were totally snow covered and slippery.

We got the trailer covered and ready to go.

The hogs seemed content in the trailer, and were quiet travelers.

We arrived at the butcher at dusk.  It was a little freaky looking there.  It was an old brick building painted white.  There was a definite sour smell and the animals inside were restless.

The boys unloaded the handy dandy ramp that came with the trailer.  It worked magnificently.  We had also been told stories about pigs refusing to unload as well, but ours were very well behaved.  They were installed in their new facility in less than ten minutes.

It was a very dreary facility! It almost seemed like a dungeon.

It was a little sad to see our pigs in their little enclosures.  They had been such cheerful creatures and never gave us a lick of trouble.   They had been on the farm almost exactly 6 months.  We did our best to give them a pleasant existence and to treat them humanely.  They got to live outside in the great outdoors and to enjoy a pasture as well as all non-gmo feed.  The butcher commended us, when I went to pick up the meat, for raising such healthy, nice-looking animals.

This was last night's dinner.  The best pork chops we ever had.  They came from Brazil or maybe it was Panama.  No, we didn't import the meat, those were just the pigs; names.  I didn't think that it would be a problem, but nobody seemed to have any issues eating our former residents, although it was a little strange to think about.  My DH says, "Farming is great!  You get to enjoy all the cute little animals, and when they grow up and no longer are cute, you get to eat them!!!  I can't wait until we get the bacon cured!

For those who are interested, the pigs dressed out at 191,199, and 252#.  I am interested in running our final cost assessment numbers.

I love homesteading! It is delicious!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Basketball Times

This year is the first year that both boys have competed in basketball. Thomas played on the Junior varsity and T-Bob played on the Junior High Team at CCS.

Yesterday they took the team pictures for the Varsity and JV teams.  Thomas is number 11.

There were LOTS of pictures.  I think Thomas is the tallest guy on the JV team.  He has had a good season and has learned so much about playing basketball.  This was his first time playing and he ended up starting most of his games.  You can't teach height!

Incidentally,  This post is dedicated to my nephew in the Philippines who started his basketball career playing with many of these guys.  Micah (#24) has really grown in the last year.

One thing I appreciate about the CCS team is that a number of the players on the team go to our church.  It really is a good way to build relationships!  Zach (#44) is a bulldog.  He plays varsity and has improved so much this season.  He has even gotten to start a few games.  He plays a tough low post and knows how to muscle it back up.  He does an 'Infinity' workout before his games.  Trevor (#3) "has hops" as the kids say.  He is really quick and can block shots with the height he gets on his jumps even if he is not especially tall.  He is a really good player, especially for being a freshman this year.  He started most of the varsity games.

Thomas started at center for the JV's.  He is tall and he has really long arms for his height.  That really helps on the tip off...

... and playing defense in the middle.

Thomas has come to really enjoy basketball!

This has been a good learning experience for the guys.  They have not had a good win - loss record, but they have really improved through the season.  They have a couple more games left and then the season is done.

T-Bob has come so far from last season!  He has practiced hard to develop a jump shot and is much more consistent on his foul shots.  He shot over 50% so far on the season.

T-Bob has grown a lot this season also.  He has almost caught up to me in height (that would make him almost 5' 9").  He has worked very hard, and has become a leader on his team.

Our junior high team is not very good.  Most of the teams we play against, have mostly 8th graders on their team playing.  We have two eighth graders total and even some of our fifth graders see significant playing time.

Logan is an excellent free throw shooter.  Especially if you promise him candy if he makes the shot.  It seems to focus his attention for some reason.

T-Bob has been a bit frustrated with the play of the team, but they have had much to overcome.  They have had almost no practices.  This was mostly due to scheduling conflicts at the school.  The fall play and other things came up.  But they are learning through playing in games.  They just lack the conditioning that regular practices gives you.  They really get tired in the second half.  

Next year T-Bob moves up to the JV team.  He is looking forward to that.  He has enjoyed going to their practices quite a bit of the time with Joel. He is learning a lot.

You may wonder, who practices the most in our family?  I would have to say that the most faithful player in our family is Elizabeth. She is outside almost everyday with the kitchen timer in her pocket set for 30 or 45 minutes.  She works on her shooting outside.  She works on her dribbling in the house in the basement.

She is her mother's child.  She never gets cold.  She has her sleeves rolled up and her shorts on when she is out there.  Some days the temperature is in the teens, but that doesn't phase her.

She insists on having good shot form and works on keeping that elbow in.  Her goal is to be a 6' 2" shooting guard on a girl's team.  She will get the height without a doubt, now she just has to work on her ball skills.  She enjoys playing basketball with her brothers.  Next year maybe we will let her play on the junior high team.  They asked her this year, but we decided that she was too young as a 9 year old.  We will miss basketball when the season finishes up this month, but now we are in the midst of debate season, so we won't be bored!  LOL

Stay warm and dry!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Things that have made me Smile and be Happy Lately....

Salvation Army  

Has made me smile... 

I took T-Bob to the local Salvation Army on a Wednesday ( half price day) to look for a suit, dress shoes, and a dress shirt to be ready for his debate tournament.  This is what we came home with... A Very nice suit that fit without being altered ( and there is extra material in the sleeves and pant hems to allow for lengthening), comfortable dress shoes that look sharp, a dress shirt that fits perfect and several ties so that he could coordinate with his partners outfit.  All for $17!!!  I also found a beautiful dress for Elizabeth for when she has to give her speeches.  It was $3.50.  Such wonderful deals.  I was thinking that I would have to go to Burlington Coat Factory and maybe another store to find everything.  We got all our shopping done in a little over an hour.  A word of advice... When thrift shopping, go to well to do neighborhoods, they have better quality clothes for the same prices as the poorer quality clothes in less affluent areas.  It is such a blessing and sure helps one to be a good steward of your finances.

Proud mom comment... T-Bob and his partner won first place in the Club Round Robin Tournament in the novice track.  Thomas won 6th place Debate speaker.

A beautiful snowy day when I don't have to go anywhere makes me happy.  The snow started today about the time we got home from church.  It has been so pretty to watch it gently fall.

This little door on the chicken tractor makes me happy.  It means that I can gather the eggs from the outside and don't have to climb up into the coop where there are lots of chickens roosting at head level or a little above.  Anyone who has worked with chickens would know why this is a good thing.  

Opening the little door and seeing all the eggs lying there also makes me smile.  A lot of times, Marbles the cat comes with me and insists on climbing up on the ledge to help look for eggs.  This is more of an irritation than a help though.  I really appreciate Paul putting this door on the tractor.

I do like going into the Run-in coop and seeing and hearing the chickens. ( yes, we keep two separate flocks of laying hens.  There are about 30 hens in each group and 2 roosters. This seems to work well.)  I love hearing the clucking and  chatting between the birds.  Can anyone tell me what type of chickens these are?  There are two types in this photo.You know you are raising homestead kids when they look at a picture of a chicken and identify the type and the gender rather than just say that it is a chicken.  

One of my daily chores is to gather the eggs.  You might have guessed that.  Marbles the cat comes along and makes sure all the nest boxes are empty and then counts the eggs (or maybe not).  I do though.  They get recorded on our farm sheets, so that we can make sure that we are breaking even or getting a little ahead on the egg sales. 

I really love the beauty of a basket of our eggs.  They are so yummy and good!

This orchid is a testament to my son Paul's faithfulness.  Two years ago, a friend gifted us this orchid as a hospitality gift.  It was blooming in a tiny container, and only required one ice cube once a week to water it. Paul has faithfully tended it and watered it over the last 2 years. He even transplanted it when it outgrew it's small home.  It is currently in a quart container and is blooming again.  You can tell a young man is tending it by the shell casings on top of the soil.  Isn't it a beautiful flower?  It makes me happy to see this result of faithfulness.

Here is the Old White Farmhouse as it looks in the snow.  It is indeed a gift from God and living here makes me very happy! I know this world is not my home, but I am enjoying passing through.