Archive for the ‘Farm life’ Category

This weekend was the weekend of the big project.  The kids and I left right after work/daycare on Friday afternoon to travel 3 hours to my parents’ house.  The kids behaved much better than I expected and we made good time.  I had 2 very tired kids when we arrived, but Anna did her best to stay up as late as I would possibly let her.

I slept pretty poorly Friday night and William was up at the crack of dawn.  I was so tired, but I had so much that I wanted to do while I was there…not that I accomplished 1/2 of it.  I put the kids down for naps Saturday afternoon & left them with my parents while I went to run a few errands.  In the course of my errands, I did a lot of thinking…this happens when I’m in the car alone!  🙂  All I could think is the place where I grew up is no longer the place where I grew up.  The change is astonishing when I think about it.  The “progress” had started before I left almost 10 years ago, but it has since gone into overdrive.  Every time I go visit there is something new or different.  I miss the fields that used to line the roads between Hendersonville and Gallatin.  I miss the long stretch of road that didn’t have any traffic lights.  It’s long gone.  Everywhere you look now there is stuff.  It’s not that it’s bad stuff…just stores, restaurants, office buildings, etc…there’s just so much of it.

I suppose if I still lived there, maybe the change wouldn’t seem so drastic.  The contrast between the small town where I live now and the much bigger town where I was raised makes all the changes…all the stuff seem especially crazy.  It just feels so alien to me now.  I know the small town atmosphere I am so immersed in now makes this seem so much worse, but I just don’t like all the stuff, all the traffic, all the people.  It’s just so more, more, MORE!

Still, as much as I don’t like it, I’m drawn to it.  I miss the town where I grew up…I miss the city in general.  It’s still so much a part of me.  I guess I do know that, deep down, if I were to ever go back there on a permanent basis (not that I see that happening!), I would fall right back into the pace of city life.  I would even like it.  I would be fine.  Of course, then I would just miss the farm & the peacefulness of a more rural life.  The grass is always greener, isn’t it?


In “big project” news…I now have a room with 4 new windows and a new, relocated door…I also have a sub-floor on the inside, but that’s about as far as it’s gotten.  The magnitude of this project is starting to freak me out, but if/when Mark gets his momentum back with this project, it’ll come together fairly quickly…or at least it will get to a point where I feel like I can help (aka- to a point where I can do work on the room while the kids are sleeping).  We still need to finish putting siding on the outside walls and drywall on the inside walls…the floor still needs to be installed.  Then we get to the fun part of finishing drywall (ick).  Soon enough we’ll be on to painting & that’s where I’ll be most comfortable helping.  Right now it just feels like it will never be done and the list of home improvement projects that needs done next is ever-growing.  Gotta love an old house!

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After 6 years, I feel like I my official indoctrination into rural life is complete. 

Today…I shucked corn.  Quite a bit of it!  And it was grown in our very own garden.

We froze enough for 25 meals…we also had some for dinner tonight.  It was tasty.  I figured the cost of the seed (and fertilizer, etc) vs. the cost of 25 cans (or the equivalent frozen) & I think we came out pretty far ahead with the corn!

I also picked, snapped and froze a few meals worth of green beans all by myself…also from our garden.

So, I have officially accomplished my goal this year of actually preserving (by canning or freezing) some of our harvest.  I’m just a little bit proud!  🙂

The garden isn’t done, of course, we’re still picking zucchini and cucumbers on a regular basis.  The cucumbers we eat fresh or pickle…the zucchini we grill or saute.  We had grilled zucchini with onions tonight…along with the aforementioned corn (also grilled) and steak.  Mmmmm…

The tomatoes…why do I never have good luck with tomatoes?  Ahhhh…I’m doing my best to baby the 4 plants we have.  I weeded the heck out of them this weekend and just finished spraying them with organic plant food.  We’ve had a very wet summer and the weeds have been taking over quicker than I can get rid of them.  After I weeded the tomato section yesterday I discovered that we just might have some tomatoes this year after all…if I can coax these into turning red before too long:

When I looked at this particular plant again this morning I counted 12 tomatoes…on just this one.  Maybe there is hope for my tomato-growing aspirations after all.  I guess we’ll see!  I have no pictures of these, but the next tomato plant down from this one is a Cherokee Purple…an heirloom variety I’ve always wanted to grow.  It’s got at least 3 green tomatoes on it too!  Fingers crossed they keep growing!

We’re still waiting for our melons too…but they’re coming along very nicely.  So far I’ve counted 7 cantaloupes:

And at least 5 watermelon, here’s the biggest:

I got plenty more accomplished this weekend that didn’t involve the garden, but I’ll save that for another post.  I just had to share my excitement about my gardening success!

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It’s been a busy long weekend here.  The kids have been alternating between very well behaved and complete heathens.  Not always at the same time.  That’s been fun.  William has enjoyed (or not) many time-outs and Anna has been threatened with time-out several times.  Thankfully, threatening is all I usually have to do with her…it works, at least temporarily.  The other thing that’s suddenly working for her is counting.  I have officially turned into my mother with this one.  “Anna!  ONE…” (She gives me a mischievous look), “TWO…” (She usually starts doing whatever she’s been asked to do).  If I actually get to three and take a step toward her she scrambles to do whatever she’s supposed to be doing.  Why does this work?  I don’t actually threaten her with any sort of punishment.  I don’t say, “if I get to three you’re going to time out” or anything…she just somehow instinctively knows that if I’m counting I must mean business.  What the heck?!  Kids are weird.

William couldn’t care less whether I’m counting or not…maybe he’ll catch on to that eventually.  I hope so because it’s almost kind of magic.  Much easier than listening to him scream through a timeout…he hasn’t caught on to that totally yet either.  There has been A LOT of, “William don’t throw that.  William!  DO. NOT. THROW. THAT!  William!  If you throw that you’re going to time out.”  He throws whatever it is about 75% of the time.  I guess 75% is progress from 100%, right?  Yesterday he pulled a whole handful of Anna’s hair out of her head.  I left the room, Anna started screaming, I run back in and her ponytail was all skewed on her head.  William had a big handful of hair and Anna was (rightfully) upset.  He went to timeout.  She got her ponytail re-done and after a little soothing from me she was ok.  Argh!  William is a terror lately.


A quick recap of our weekend…Friday Anna had her last swimming lesson.  She loved getting a little pool time 4 afternoons as week.  She was already really comfortable with the water, so she didn’t need much (any) help with that.  She learned to paddle around using either a pool noodle type thing or a floaty ring.  By the last few days of lessons she was paddling around the pool (with one of the above floatation devices) without the instructor holding on to her at all.  She seemed a little resistant to the instructor letting go of her at first, but by the end she seemed to like it.

Saturday was a day of cleaning, grocery shopping and yard work.  Saturday night Mark and I had a date night.  We had a really good dinner at The Opera House and then a few drinks at The American Legion (OMG we miss The Pub!).  We were home by 10:30 and in bed not much later.  Man, we’re getting old!

Sunday we did more yard work and more housework.  We had some friends over for a little cookout.  The kids stayed up a little later than usual because our friends brought their daughter who is just a few weeks older than William.  They played in the sprinkler and had a good time.  We put William to bed an hour or so later than usual, but kept Anna up to watch some fireworks.  She was NOT a fan of the noise.  We were pretty surprised how freaked out she was by it…usually she’s so fearless.  Mark shot off a couple of things, but it was clear that Anna was just not having it, so we went ahead and put her to bed as well…about 2 hours later than usual.  She was ready to go.  We stayed up and sat around on the porch talking until 11ish before calling it a night ourselves.  We did a few more fireworks, but nothing spectacular.

Today Mark got up with the kids & I got to sleep in a little.  We did a little sidewalk chalk, we played briefly in the backyard, then the kids had snacks and went down for their naps.  Anna gave me a pretty hard time about naptime, but she went down eventually.  Mark and I rushed to the garden to do a little weeding & tie up the tomato plants that had started to sprawl everywhere.  We got most of it done…still some weeding left to do, but it was about to rain & we were hearing lots of thunder in the distance.  Mark managed to squeeze in a little more mowing & threw some fertilizer on the garden just before it started to rain.  The garden looks as good as it has ever looked.  Our corn probably get the award for most improved…we’ve never had much luck with it before, but it’s looking really nice this year.  We have 4 cantaloupes about  the size of softballs, so maybe they’ll be ready in a couple weeks.  We (finally) have tomatoes on our tomato plants, but they are still small and green.  I’m hoping we have better luck with those this year too…We never have much luck with our tomato plants for some reason.  We’ve gotten a few zucchini, one squash (just yesterday), a few jalapenos, maybe 1 poblano pepper and a TON of cucumbers.  Mark has made at least one batch of pickles.  We’re still waiting for the green beans and the watermelons.


We’re in the process of preparing for a rather large renovation project.  It has needed done for a  very long time, but it’s kind of involved and I think Mark just wasn’t ready to tackle it until now.  I’ll post some after pictures once it’s complete, here are the before pics (excuse the mess on the indoor ones…this room has become kind of a catchall):

This is the back (or really the side) of our house.  That’s the main door that we use to come and go…

Facing the dining room…the interior window (why is that necessary?) to the right goes into Anna’s room:

The crappy door and windows (note the plastic sheeting over the windows and the exposed insulation that’s been stuffed next to the door – stylish, yes?):

The closed door here is William’s room.  See the square of wood screwed to the floor?  It’s covering a hole.

There are 5 doors off this room…the one to the left goes into a small hallway off of which leads to Anna’s room, our room and the bathroom.  You can just barely see the edge of the doorframe on the right…that one goes into our front foyer from which our bedroom is on the left, the living room is on the right and our front door is straight ahead.  Also…the blue ceiling?  That’s gotta go!

It has looked like crap for a long time.  The wood siding has gotten so old that it no longer holds paint and it’s starting to rot in places.  The wood all around the eaves needs replaced.  The door was not installed properly and we have trouble with it constantly.  We either have a hard time opening it (it sticks) or we have a hard time getting it to close all the way.  It’s a completely energy waster in the winter especially…cold air just pours in around the door.  There is very little insulation in the walls and NONE over the ceiling.  The wood floor on the inside is old and soft…so soft that when I walked across it one day (carrying William no less) it cracked below my feet and I looked back to see a nice hole.  The windows are about as energy efficient as the door.  Oh, and where the door is positioned is awful when it rains.  All the water from that side of the house (a rather large area) runs into that valley of the roof and comes down in the corner right by the door.  We can’t get gutters big enough to hold all that water…so it all just pours off the roof…right on to the steps in front of the door.  It’s awesome!  So…here’s the plan:

I’m leaving town for the weekend on the 22nd, with both kids.  I’m really heartbroken that I’m going to miss all this fun, but someone has to take care of the children, right?  😉  My brother-in-law has so kindly offered to help Mark with this rather large project…we have an electrician friend helping with the wiring and a couple of other friends that will help other random manual labor tasks.  Thank goodness for friends and for a really nice brother-in-law!  I promise to make a grocery run before I leave town so they will all be well fed and there will be plenty of beer for AFTER each work day is done.  🙂  Anyway, Mark and I will prep the room the week before.  I’ll take down anything hanging on the walls.  We’ll move the computer desk into the living room (which we’ve been planning to do anyway), we’ll take down our dining room table and move it to the shop (it needs some work anyway) and move the big rolltop desk that is the bane of my existence into the dining room.  The bookshelf may go in there too and then a piece or 2 will temporarily reside in our bedroom.  Mark will take all the door & window trim down along with all the (crappy…there’s that word again!) molding.  We’ll also get all the new wood siding painted and ready to go.  After the kids and I leave the house Friday morning, Mark will start tearing out the floor and walls.  Hopefully (ha!) they won’t run into any snags, but with an old house you just never know what you’re going to find when you start a project like this.  It’s going to take weeks to finish.  The plan of the one weekend (when my brother-in-law comes over) is to get one wall reframed (we’re moving the door to the middle of that wall…it’ll have a window on either side), the siding up and the subfloor and wood floor in place.  If they work really hard, they can hopefully get the drywall hung inside too.  Mark and I will have to work on finishing the drywall (and floor) later.  I don’t even want to think about how long it will be before we’re able to actually get it all painted and get the trim and moldings back in place and painted.   Oh, and there will be a small deck to build too…at least eventually…it will be just sort of a long landing to provide a little space between the steps and the door…Can you tell I’m excited?  And a bit terrified too?  I’m looking forward to documenting it all here…Anyone have suggestions for wall color?  I’m still on the fence.  I do want a color more so than a neutral…but I want to keep it light because our house is so dark overall.  At the moment the front-runner is a very pale icy blue aqua color.  Is that weird?  It just screams old house to me.  🙂

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It was another warm, sunny, busy weekend. Busier for Mark than for me.   He barely sat still!  Here’s a quick recap of our weekend:

Anna woke up Saturday around 7:15. I was really hoping Mark would go in there to get her, but I waited for quite a while and it didn’t happen. Turns out he wasn’t even in the house…he was waaaaaay across the farm getting a spot ready for planting gourds & pumpkins. So I got both kids up and got breakfast ready. After breakfast I got the kids dressed and took them out to play in the backyard. Mark built the kids a new sandbox Friday evening and got the old one out of the way. This one looks WAY less redneck than the tractor tire sandbox and the kids love it!  It’s got twice the space!

new sandbox

While the kids played, Mark and I took turns watching the kids so we could both get showered & dressed. We took a trip to a local nursery to buy flowers for the flower beds. By the time we got ready & out of the house we were cutting it REALLY close to naptime. It turned out fine, even though I had to work at keeping William awake in the car. I didn’t want him ruining his real nap! The kids were well-behaved and liked looking at all the flowers. We made it a quick trip and got the kids back home in time for lunch and naps. While they napped we planted flowers. We also did loads & loads of laundry. I filled the water table up for the kids & when they woke from their naps, outside we went!

The kids played together (nicely even!) for a little while:
Playing together

Then Anna decided her fishies need to swim in water:
Fishies swim in water

There were some sibling spats after that.  Anna doesn’t want William to have even ONE of her fish!  She didn’t want him to have either of the boats either:

Anna with boats

Don’t worry, though…I intervened enough to allow William to have lots of fun!  He loves putting his face in the water…
William close up copy

Once William does it, Anna has to do it too:
Anna close up copy

I tried so, so hard to get a good picture of Anna, but she wanted nothing to do with looking at the camera.  The picture above was a fluke…because I had just taken one of William.  Ugh!  William on the other hand, I can get a picture of…look at my handsome boy!
Handsome boy copy

Sunday we were up & out of the house by 9:30…went to Lowe’s for more plants.  Played a little outside before naps, and did more planting while the kids slept.  I took pictures too!

Our iris have taken off…at least the purple ones.  These are old-fashioned purple Tennessee iris, and when I say old-fashioned I mean old.  These have been around the farm a long time, I just moved them.  They like their new home a lot.  There are probably 20 stalks with 3 buds each in this one place and the bed is maybe 18 inches square.
Here’s one: 🙂

One corner of one of the small beds at the front of the pergola…I sure hope all this fills out:
Flowerbed 1

The shade garden gets the award for most improved! It’s filled almost completely with perennials, so aside from weeding, it’s pretty low maintenance. We have added new things this year to go with all the hostas!
Here is the shade garden on February 20th:
shade garden

And here it is on April 10th:
shade garden

Big difference! Here’s the sun garden on February 20th:
sun garden

And on April 10th:
sun garden

That’s a pretty big difference too!

Mark and I were absolutely beat by 5pm yesterday. The kids played in the wading pool AND the sprinkler yesterday afternoon, so they were pretty worn out too. They went to bed early and I think were in bed around 9pm. It was a big weekend for us all!

Oh, and I forgot these pictures…The kids had picture day at daycare last week. Strangely, Anna did really well & William didn’t…which is the exact opposite of how they do with pictures at home! I had Anna try on her dress the night before just to make sure it still fit. She loved that dress & the poor girls at daycare had a hard time getting her out of it and into play clothes after her pictures were done! “Red dress! Red dreeeessss! Red dreeesssss!” Imagine that in a really sad, whiny voice. Argh! It did look cute on her though.

Here she is waving to her loyal subjects
Anna's red dress

And then taking a bow…look at that grin! I love this girl!
Smiley red dress

I’ve been composing blog posts in my head for that last 2 weeks, but nothing much seems to come to me when I sit down to write. 😦 Hopefully I’ll have something more than my a-day-in-the-life posts really soon. Thanks for reading!

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Spring Fever

As George Harrison said, “it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter”.  Today was sunny and warm.  And while it may have been really windy, it was still gorgeous.  I got outside for a bit yesterday and it was pretty chilly still…kind of cloudy and gloomy, but I saw this:

Can you see it?  That little speck of yellow?  It’s the first crocus of the year…still half-buried in dead leaves.  I was so excited to see that little bud!  I walked around looking for more signs that winter is over.

I found this:

Daffodils sprouting

Forsythia buds


Still, with all those little signs of spring, it still looks like winter.  The flowerbeds are brown and dead.  I decided to do some before & after shots.  Obviously, we’ll be waiting awhile to see the “afters”.

The "sun" garden - looking less than sunny yesterday.

The goldfish pond...in desperate need of cleaning.

The "shade" garden

Oh, and I caught a picture of this guy as he was taking off from one of the top branches of the crabapple tree:

I did all my walking around while the kids napped, after my requisite trip to Wal-Mart for groceries.  William woke up before Anna yesterday so he got a little alone time with me.  I took pictures, of course…I already had the camera out after all.

Oh my gosh he’s cute!

When Anna got up they both got a snack.  I had heard about these fruit pouches from some of my online mommy friends.  Of course, I believe theirs are organic and are from Whole Foods…What I wouldn’t give to have a Whole Foods here!  Anyway, I found something similar at Wal-Mart…not organic, but still just apples and cinnamon…nothing else added.  So I thought we’d try them.  They’re just applesauce in a pouch.  They went over well as you can see:

And my personal favorite…



Today was busy in a good way.  We made a family trip to the farm supply store.  We bought peas, broccoli, onions, leeks (Mark’s idea, naturally) and sunflowers (for Anna) to plant in our garden.  By the time we finished that trip, it was naptime.  The kids both slept for 3 hours!  Mark and I got a ton done outside.  Mark tilled the garden, cut back the wisteria, raked & mowed the leaves in the backyard and who knows what else.  I cleaned out the flower beds.  So, I do have some “after” pictures…the beds look better, but really bare!

The "shade" garden

The "sun" garden

The pond. Wait...it actually looks worse! We won't clean it out for another few weeks.

My lone crocus...minus the dead leaves.

My hands and back are killing me, but I was so pleased that I got it all done during naptime!

After naps I put shoes on the kids & back outside we went!  They had a really good time…I really think they’re going to love it out there this summer.

A rare picture of them both together!

My handsome boy.

My pretty girl.

And this one just because it somehow reminds me of my dad. Not sure why.

It felt good to be so productive…even if it means I’m going to be sore for a few days.  It felt good to get out in the yard and play with the kids.  It was nice to sit in the grass with Mark, drink a beer and watch the kids play.  They wore themselves out too.  Hopefully we’ll all sleep well tonight.






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Snow Day

There was snow in the forecast for today, but I don’t think what we ended up getting was exactly expected!  It was drizzling with a little snow mixed in this morning when we left the house.  By 8:00 it was all snow and it kept snowing harder & harder!  When I went to lunch at 11:30 I had to clear about 4 inches of snow off my car.  The daycare called and said they were closing at 3:00 and a little later the Mayor decided to close City Hall at 2:00.  Apparently that’s only happened twice in the last 20 years!

It was nice to get out a little early, Mark took off early too, so we had the chance to play in the snow with the kids.  This was William’s very first time playing in the snow.  He wasn’t so sure at first, then he got into it for a while, then he got kind of cold & wet and was just over it!  Anna, however wouldn’t stayed out there all day if we had let her!  She threw a major fit when Mark finally brought her inside.

Since the snow was so wet, it made great snowballs…Those were the kids’ favorite things.  William threw them and dropped them and tried to eat them.  Anna ate A LOT of snow (from her stack of snowballs) all the time saying, “mmmmm…snowball”.  🙂  She also made a snow angel.  It was one of the first things she did.  She just plopped right down & knew just what to do!  Where did she learn this?  Nick Jr maybe?

I took lots of pictures…Enjoy!

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