Thursday, August 28, 2008

A little of this and a little of that

Having not posted for a week, you might think that we've been terribly busy around here. Tim has been busy with work, working late every night this week except Friday, and he will be working Saturday too. For the rest of us though, it has been comparatively quiet here at home.

Last Saturday mom and I canned apples all day. Something like 30 quarts of sauce and 20 quarts of sliced apples. I am ready to do some more, but don't have any picked. It has been raining the last two days, and I can't see dragging the kids out in the mud to pick apples in the rain. Maybe tomorrow.

The rain was much needed. The rest of the month was very dry. My fall garden, peas, beets, and beans need the water. The tank we use to catch rain water and water the animals was almost empty after staying full almost all the rest of the summer. Yes, the rain is good.

As for the animals nothing too exciting. Two hens are sitting on nests. The baby pigs are doing well. You can see charcoal and her piglets were making good use of the mud hole made in the pasture. Flame's piglets are doing well too. The little red one in the photo is the one we stitched up.

For the most part school is doing well too. The biggest problem I have is I can't get library books. It is a long story that is going to end in us paying for a book I'm pretty sure we returned. Frustrating? Yes, but I need books!

Lydia is having a bit of a mental block with math. She just shuts down. There were tears this morning. The frustrating thing to me is that she knows how to do it! When I sit by her she whips right through. When I am not there she whines and cries that she can't do it. I guess I'm going to have to hand hold her until she gains the confidence to do it alone. She is reading like a pro though. I can't believe how she has just taken off with reading.

Kellen is flying through his materials, like always. He really is into his trombone right now. He is learning to play the Mario theme by ear. He posted a video of it.

Nolan also wanted to do school this year. We are reading books, and playing games mostly. I printed out a freebie workbook for him, but I need some library books to supplement. Well you know why that isn't happening.

So, that is what we've been up to.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Navigating in West Virginia

I once considered myself to have good navigation skills. I liked to try new ways to get from point A to point B. I was confident that I could figure out how to get somewhere even if I'd never been that way before. And if I had a map in my hand, well, I could get anywhere.

I did not realize that I was simply spoiled. Spoiled by navigating roads that generally went the direction they started. Spoiled by roads that were labeled and maps that matched.

When I moved to the land of ridges and hollows, I quickly learned that my Northern navigation skills meant diddly squat here. Roads that appear to go west will actually end up taking you east. Not that I can ever tell which direction I'm heading in anyway here. The curves and hills mess with your sense of direction. I learned that trying an unknown way only leads to burning a lot of gas, seeing a lot of country side, and feeling like you'll never find your way out of all the twists and curves. Driving here is like navigating a huge labyrinth. I learned to only go ways I'd gone before, or to get very specific directions from those who knew the way.

Today there was a swim party for our homeschool co-op at a family's home I'd not been to before. They gave very specific directions from a variety of nearby places. The trouble with all these directions though is that from my house they made a big U, traveling south, going east, and then north again. Shouldn't I be able to just go straight east and get there faster?

So, I got out the county map. The swim party was just into the next county (of which I don't have a map,) but I could see one of the roads listed on the directions. Lo and behold it was directly east of me. And the "big" road I live near turns into another "big" road. (This is something I just don't get here. Roads are essentially the same road, but at some point get a new name. It is all so confusing!) This second big road goes directly to the road on the directions to the party. I felt like I'd just found the Northwest Passage. (Except I was going northeast, but you get the point.)

We set out this morning and headed to the "big" road. I am familiar with this road, but have not traveled it beyond where it turns into the second "big" road. We were traveling along observing the scenery. We saw the electric company trimming trees with a helicopter in a hollow. (Oh why didn't I get out the camera?) We saw a wide variety of beautiful homes, and some that were not so beautiful. We saw three housing developments on this winding curving in the middle of nowhere road. We were enjoying the country drive.

From the map the road we were traveling appeared to be the only sizable road. The road did twist and curve and at times would branch off. Of course there were no road signs to show which road was which, but this didn't phase me much. I just stuck to the bigger road.

At one point I did begin to wonder if I were still on the right road. I tried to draw on a northern navigation skill, looking at the address on the mailboxes, only to remember that mailboxes here are marked not with road names, but with some strange RR code that only makes sense to postal workers.

Suddenly the road had not more lines painted on it. Then it began to narrow. Soon I was on a one lane road in the bottom of a hollow. Could this still be the road I thought it was?

I really began to wonder when I came to a T in the road. I saw no T on the map I was looking at. Where was I? There also were no road signs. Having the map was no help, even if I were still in the right county. Left or right?

Luckily for me there happened to be some state road maintenance workers there. I asked if I should turn right or left to get to the road on my directions.

They looked at me funny.

And said that left would take me to some place I'd never heard of. Right would take me to a road I do know, but not the road I named, if I turned left after this bridge and right at this fork and right again at the old barn, or something like that. (I later realized that the road they mentioned was actually just another name for the road on the directions. I did know that the road changed names, but it didn't register in my confused state.)

I looked at them funny.

And asked if I was still on the second "big" road.

They looked at me funny again.

And said no you are on some road I've never heard of. Then they asked me where I was actually trying to go. I told them. they consulted each other on the best way to get there, and offered to take me to the road where the pool party was.

I looked at them funny again.

And they explained that they were waiting for asphalt. The truck had just left and had to go to a "nearby" town for the refill. It would be at least an hour, and they didn't have anything better to do. Well I think helping a lost mom with four kids is a better use of our tax dollars than just sitting there waiting don't you? The whole crew loaded up in the truck for the ride.

They must of driven me at least five miles to get to the road I needed to be on. Then they pulled off to the side and waved me on. We waved our thanks and followed the directions that led us straight to the house.

I'm forced to admit I can't navigate the back roads of West Virginia, even with a map. In case you are wondering, we followed the directions home, making a huge U and enjoying every minute of it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The kids are ready

Seeing that it is now the end of August, I thought that it might be a good idea to order our school books this morning. LOL! We still have a few things to finish up from last year, but I wanted to be sure that Kellen and Lydia had math books ready to go. They use the Key To and Miquon workbook series.

I asked them to pull out their workbooks to see where they were at in the current one and if we had the next one in the series. They did and I went about ordering the things we need for the school year. I glanced over to them, and they were both sitting at the table doing math! Then they pulled out their reading! Lydia even cleaned and organized her shelf of school supplies. (Now if I could just get her to do the same in her bedroom!)

I guess we have officially started back to book school routine!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

On the way home from church

Nolan: Mommy when can I get my ears peered?

Because his sister used the same word up until a few weeks ago, I knew he meant pierced.

Me: Oh I don't know. Maybe when you are thirty.

Scattered conversation about why at the age thirty he could get his ears pierced.

Me: Daddy doesn't have his ears pierced.

Nolan: When will he be old enough?

Me: Oh I don't know maybe when he is fifty. You'll be old enough too when you are fifty.

Nolan: Fifty?! I'd be dead then!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Piglet Hospital and Nursery

Early this morning Ashley's pig, Flame, had piglets. Ashley and Miles went back to their mom's Wednesday, so Ashley missed it, but here is the story for her and you.

Yesterday afternoon Flame started building a nest. Yes, pigs build nests. It is an interesting thing to watch. She pulled up roots, moved sticks and branches, and leveled off a bit of ground. She even tried to pull the wire off the fence. The result was a lot of pulled of chicken fence, but I don't think she ruined it. Papaw put some hay in the building, and that enticed her to move inside with her sticks.

At 5 AM Papaw went to check her, no babies. About 7 he went back out and there were already half a dozen or so. Tim and I woke up to, "We've got babies." Papaw gets a little excited about his animals. He thinks that 14 were born, but only 12 are living.

One piglet got stepped on and had a big open wound on it's hip. Time for stitches. My kitchen was soon turned into a piglet hospital. Tim stitched the pig on my table. Thanks so much for putting some rags down honey! Ya know we eat off that table!

One runt was pretty weak. He is currently in a box in my kitchen. Kellen and Lydia have said they will bottle feed it. My plan is that they will feed it until it is strong enough to go back with Flame. Kellen's plan is to raise it as a pet. Despite our warnings that the pig may not make it, and if it does, we will not be keeping it, he has named it Arnold. He isn't taking very well to our feeding him, so I guess we will just see what happens. Any suggestions?

NEVER a dull moment in the 100 Acre Wood!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My Little Teacher

Lydia has been teaching the younger kids sign language. It is so cute. I had to catch it on video, and of course, share it on the blog!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Oil Painting with Tim

Tim has taken up a new hobby, oil painting.

He isn't painting on canvas. He prefers to paint on wood or metal. He isn't using a wide variety of colors. In fact, his painting is rather monochrome and dark.

He is painting with used motor oil.

This is a little trick we learned from the neighbor. Used motor oil can be used to paint untreated wood and metal. Here you can see the manure spreader and a gate that have been painted. The oil soaks into the wood to preserve it. On metal, it helps prevent rust.

Our neighbor uses this method on several of his outbuilding as did his father before him. It stains the wood a deep gray color as you can see in this photo, except of course for the red doors. Apologies for the shadows in this shot.

The oil we used was saved from servicing the vehicles around here. It is a cheap and easy way to make our wood and metal last. The largest drawback I see from it is that it is a little messy. Not so much more than paint, but it did seem to take a little longer to dry.

I hope Tim enjoys his new hobby, there are a lot of gates and other wood to paint around here!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Finally, A Break in the Schedule

The kids returned from a long weekend and a trip to Cedar Point with Grandma and Grandpa on Tuesday. I'm done canning beans. I'm done freezing corn. Little Lambs is this weekend, but I've dropped off my clothes. We are done picking blackberries for those who ordered them. The tomatoes that are ripe are processed. The apples aren't ripe yet. I just want to pick some more blackberries for myself before they are all gone. Other than that, all the pressing work is complete.

And. . .

A friend emailed me the other day about an awesome field trip she is arranging for homeschoolers next week at the Huntington Art Museum. The topic is the Civil War and the kids are going to make pinhole cameras. I thought it would really be something the kids would go for, but was afraid that we wouldn't be able to make it. I turned to my planner for the week, and IT WAS BLANK! A whole week with no appointments or scheduled activities?! Well, it was until I wrote in the field trip to the art museum.

A lull in the schedule is just what I needed. I spent today piddling at various projects. Don't worry it isn't like I don't have anything to do. No chance of being bored around here, but it is nice to not have schedules, commitments, and over ripening vegetables breathing down my neck.

Ahhh......I will enjoy it while it lasts.

Monday, August 04, 2008

New Pigs

Miles' pig, Charcoal, had piglets Saturday evening, eight of them to be exact. Tim and I were there when the last two came. Charcoal is a good mom, and fairly tolerant of us being around. Sows can be pretty mean when they have piglets. Charcoal has a gentle nature. I doubt it will be the same story when Flame, Ashley's sow, has her piglets. She is mean now. I bet she'll be a beast when her piglets come in about a week! Now the question is what are Miles and Ashely going to do with all these pigs?!