Thursday, December 27, 2012

Of all the Things

We aren't big TV watchers, but in these winter months when it is dark by six, the screen does come on quite frequently. We aren't big fans of most network shows. We don't have cable or satellite, but we do have Netflix. I love being able to pick our shows and movies, and to watch without commercials.

Tim and I love that some of the shows we loved growing up can be watched again. The kids however, are not thrilled with most of our nostalgic picks. They thought MacGyver was the cheesiest thing they ever saw. Lydia was angry that the Little House series did not follow the books. Wonder Years they just didn't get. They showed a brief interest in the Cosby Show, but that was fleeting. What they do like is unbelievable to me.

A few months back Kellen came across this video somewhere on the internet:

Do you recognize that super hero in spandex and pink? Yes, He Man. The kids did not know, but Tim had to show them. And guess what He Man is on Netflix. Personally, I did not watch this as a kid, but Tim did. He told the kids all about how he used to watch as he waited for the bus. He was always frustrated because the bus came before the show ended. He never got to see how the story was resolved. He wasn't missing much.

Our kids think this is a great show, and they have even found He Man's sister, She Ra. Really? Really?! We are watching He Man and She Ra instead of Laura Ingalls? Of all the things.....

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas 2012

This weekend we celebrated Christmas with my brother Jake and his family. We had a great time playing games, opening gifts, and eating (my favorite part of the holidays!)

We  started with candy making. We made turtles and chocolate covered pretzels Saturday afternoon, and the kids spent a lot of time playing the Wii U, and running outside.

Lydia and Vivian. Viv was covered in chocolate by the end. 
Elise cheesin' it up. 

Dylan enjoying the end product.

Sunday morning the first item on the agenda was opening gifts.

Jude and his candy mustache. 

Kellen is a little possessive of his new edition of "Lord of the Rings."  

My mom had an extra special gift for Jake and I. She took quilt blocks that my grandmother had pieced, and appliqued and framed them. The pieces of the design were made from clothing my mom and her siblings wore as children. My frame had one of these flower designs with another Sunbonnet Sue square. My grandmother made me a quilt of that pattern when I was a little girl. This square was an extra that she made. Sadly, my childhood quilt has been lost, but I love that mom captured a bit of it for me in this framed piece! 

Jake's quilt frame. 
 Our Christmas food traditions are a little unusual, but we certainly enjoy them. We had seafood stew, cheesecake, and homemade bread. Oh my, how I love Christmas dinner. After lunch, there was more Wii U, more playing in the woods, and we decorated salt dough ornaments.

It really was a great weekend, and a great way to kick off our Christmas celebrations.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Then and Now

Going through some old pictures, I came across these. Less than four years ago, the kids pooled their money together to purchase the Wii. Then they created a chart to track their savings. They were so proud and excited to be able to meet their goal!

April, 2009

And this year. No chart, but look at those proud (and grown up) faces. 

Dec 2012

Life in the Fast Lane

We live in the woods. We tend to animals, homeschool, cook from scratch, and do a lot of things many would consider old fashioned. This is the quiet simple life. Or is it?

I began this blog after we moved here, almost seven years ago. For me blogging was a way to keep in touch with far away family and friends. It was also my version of scrap booking and photo albums. It was a way for me to preserve the memories. I remember the early days when the kids would say something cute or something interesting would happen on the farm, I'd be running to the computer to tell the story.

A lot has changed since then. We have more farm responsibilities, and more off farm activities. We are doers. It doesn't matter if we live in the city or the country we tend to say, "yes" to things. After seven years of living here, we have said "yes" to a lot of things, and now find ourselves just as, and likely more, busy than we've ever been.

Now, the kids' funny little stories are more likely to end up on Facebook because it is quick and easy. Larger stories get piled up in my head waiting their turn to be shared on the blog. And when I finally get around to putting those stories down it comes out as a synopsis of many stories instead of individual memories and stories. Kind of like today's post.

So, about a month ago, Nolan and Kellen were playing on the roof of our storage shed. Nolan decided he wanted to jump off of it onto a pile of 2x4's about 15 feet down. Kellen tells Nolan, "Sure you can make it. Go for it." Did I mention he was wearing Crocs? Worn out Crocs.  This was the result of that little story:

He broke his heal. And just when I thought he was past the stage of yearly ER visits.

Our next adventure following the broken heal was a field trip to see replicas of the Nina and Pinta. This is when Nolan found out how difficult it really is to get around on crutches.

Then there is this complete randomness I found on my camera. Kellen sweeping the floor in a bow tie. I have no explanation.

We've butchered chickens a few times in the past few weeks, and the boar was a regular visit to our front yard for several days until we found the problem in the electric fence. The problem has been fixed. He has once again learned earned to respect the fence.

Tim's Grandma Apple passed away, and we traveled to Mt. Vernon, Ohio last weekend to say goodbye and spend time with the Appleton family.

We spent the remainder of the weekend in Central Ohio. We stayed with my brother Jake. We went to Christmas lights at the zoo. Do you like Nolan's ride? They were out of wheelchairs. I don't think he was overly thrilled with it either.

It was the first Saturday of December. The weather was gorgeous, and I think all of Central Ohio came to the zoo with us. Despite the crowd, we enjoyed the zoo, the lights, and the exhibits that were open. The aquarium was fantastic, and we saw the manatees, the reptiles, and penguins.

The next day we went to COSI. The kids had so much fun here!

The kids have been pooling their money together for months in the Wii U fund. Last week, they finally had enough saved, and over the weekend they were able to purchase it. I'd say Kellen is pretty happy about that! 

Then yesterday, on the way home from getting feed, Tim took the truck and the feed trailer over the hill.

from the road

from below
He walked away with barely a scratch, and thankfully none of the kids went with him.. Thank God! He reports this morning feeling beat up. The trailer was in shreds by the time the pulled it up the hill. The front of the truck is smashed. The roll bar on the bed kept Tim from being smashed in the cab. Believe it or not, almost all of the feed bags in the trailer survived the journey, and none of the straw bales in the truck bed broke open. Some very nice guys who lived near by brought 4-wheelers and a truck and helped Tim load the feed and straw out via the hollow. They even drove it home for us. The truck and trailer took the tow company the entire afternoon to hoist up the hill. It could have been worse, much, much worse.

So today I sit here and am so very grateful for my family and for their health. I am thankful for the good times we have together, and for the experiences we've faced in this adventure of life. Life is busy, too busy. Events like yesterday's make me stop, take a deep breath, and remember the what is really important.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


To give allowance or not to, that is a question that seems to plaque every parent at some point in time. It is one that we have gone either way on over the years, but have mostly landed on the not side. The bottom line for us is money doesn't come because you exist, it comes because you work, and daily chores around the house are part of being in a family.

And even though I strongly feel that way, we've started giving the kids $2 per week. Doesn't make sense does it? Let me explain.

I found myself at a place of frustration with the kids. Frustration at whining, feet dragging, and complaining over school work and chores. I found myself nagging, and getting angry for needing to repeat myself 20 times before anything got done. No one thing was really enough for a consequence, but added up, times four kids was very frustrating.

A friend had told me about how she uses quarters to address this kind of issue. I started with her idea, adjusted it a little, and put it in place. This is how it works.

Each child has a container. Every week I put two dollars in quarters in the containers. When someone whines about their school work, or has to be asked repeatedly to complete a task, I take a quarter out of their container. If they run out of quarters, (which no one has yet) there are more serious consequences. At the end of the week they get the money that is left.

Admittedly, this plan was put in place mostly for the youngest two. I really didn't expect a quarter to mean much to the older children, but I have been surprised how well it really does work.

We've been using this system for a couple months now. On the one hand, I realize I am paying my children to do what they should do anyway. On the other had, I've found that my children are very motivated by money, and the peace this has brought to this household is well worth the potential loss of $8, and the slight change in our stance on allowances.

An added bonus is that the two younger children now have a way to earn a little money. The older two have the opportunity to earn quite a bit of money from farm activities. Before the quarters, the younger ones really only had their own money from birthdays or holidays. It has been good for them.

I'm still not a huge fan of allowances, but I am a huge fan of figuring out what works to keep my children motivated and on task. Who knew that all it took were a few quarters?

Tuesday, November 06, 2012


It is no secret, I am not a good house keeper. I really do appreciate a nice clean house, but somehow lack the discipline and motivation to keep mine that way. I am easily distracted by other tasks when there is cleaning that needs done. (As in always.) In the summer, the great outdoors calls. I'd much rather be digging around in the garden than accomplishing any cleaning task. Winter isn't much better. The kitchen is my distraction then. Below are today's distractions.

We just keep our heads above water (clutter.) Though the laundry pile never seems to end, laundry is done on an almost daily basis. The kitchen has to be kept decent. I can over look a lot of things, but waking up to a kitchen of dirty dishes makes me a little crazy. The kids help with picking up, sweeping, and the bathrooms. Though sometimes it is questionable whether their help is actually helpful.

Below you can see Kellen's idea of helping me in the kitchen, licking the cinnamon and sugar off the table. Seriously, I don't make this stuff up.

I'd like to think when the kids are gone, I'll have a clean house. But let's be real. Before kids our house was cleaner, but cleaning still wasn't my top priority. I don't see that changing anytime. Maybe, when the kids are gone, I can afford a housekeeper to keep up with the tasks that I let slide. A girl can dream can't she?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hello Sandy!

What a difference a couple days, a Hurricane, and a cold front make!

The end of last week was beautiful! So, beautiful in fact, that Tim took a couple vacation days to catch up on a couple projects around the farm. One was oiling down the manure spreader. These picture were taken Friday.

Saturday the temperatures dropped, and  it started raining. It kept raining until Monday night when sometime while we slept, that rain turned to snow. These pictures were taken today.

It was eerie being out this morning. You could hear the trees cracking, and the giant crack and tumble of large branches or thud of trees coming down. Luckily none damaged anything. We scrambled this morning to get chickens situated. We weren't expecting this much, and we still have chickens and pullets in tractors. We lost a few, and I am kicking myself for not having them better prepared.

The power went out around 9:30. The snow continued until just awhile ago, around 4:00. The forecast is calling for more snow and then rain through Friday.

We have generators going. We have cooking set up. We are only inconvenienced. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who took the brunt of Hurricane Sandy.

But I will say after the Derecho this summer, and the aftermath of a hurricane this fall, I've had my fill of severe weather and power outages.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Fall Doings

The last week, I've been thoroughly enjoying the beauty of fall. I love fall. I love the colors, the warm days and crisp mornings. I love the food of fall. There isn't much I don't like about fall except that winter follows it.

Yesterday was very windy, and the leaves were blowing everywhere, and I realized fall wouldn't be with us much longer. We've been busy this fall.

There was our annual trip to the Pumpkin Festival. The kids, along with hundreds of others decorate their pumpkins. Then there are historical demonstrations to see, booths to shop, and places to play. Nolan and Vivian wanted to play in the hay (which was actually straw) maze. You know, because we don't have any hay to play in here on the farm.

We also attended a local farm day at a friends' farm. We got a tour of her high tunnel, met with others interested in local food, and enjoyed a meal prepared with local ingredients. It was a fun afternoon. Oh, what did my kids want to do while we were there? Play in the straw pit. You know, because we don't have any straw here on the farm. Well, except for Kellen, who took his normal position away from everyone with a book.

Vivian cleaning up the salad from lunch.
We've been clearing out gardens and putting some to rest for the season. We have a little help from the pigs this year. They do an excellent job of clean up for us! They even fertilize as they go!

Not all the gardens are getting a rest though. Tim and Kellen set up some low tunnels using almost all materials we had on hand. We have lettuces, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, onions, and radishes going under them now. When it gets a little colder, I will add a layer of plastic for extra protection.

We planted a different variety of pie pumpkins this year. They are called Winter Luxury. They are so delicious. I've been baking and cooking a lot with pumpkin. Apparently, the chickens think they are as delicious as we do. Good thing I have a ample supply put aside for me!

And Kellen has been working on firewood. He has been splitting it and putting it in bundles to sell at The Wild Ramp. He has an ample supply waiting to be split. Hopefully, we will get our wood burner in soon, and put a good dent in that pile and our electric bill.

I used to think that summer was the busy season, and that things would slow down in the fall and the winter. After seven years here, I realize that there really is no slow season. Every season has its own busy about it. The tasks may change but the to do list always remains. We enjoy each season and its accompanying beauty and tasks as it comes. I just wish fall would last a little longer.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Why is Local Important to You?

This summer we've been involved with a new local food market in Huntington WV. Perhaps, involved, is not a strong enough word. We've been neck deep in the planning and building of this idea into a reality. In with us has been a talented and committed group of consumers and producers, a slew of volunteers, donors, and supporters. Talk started in March.  Less than three months ago, a miracle happened and The Wild Ramp opened for business.

The community support has been incredible. Farmers in the area have been excited to be involved. We hear farmers talk of increasing production to meet the demand. Consumers keep us ever on our toes with local products they would like to purchase. And The Wild Ramp is in the middle of  a Kickstarter to improve the store. It has been exciting, and we've been with it from the very beginning.

So, today, when Kellen asked me, "Why do people make such a big deal out of local food?" I was kind of taken a back. How had he failed to catch this when he has watched this entire process unfold?

He does understand how The Wild Ramp helps our farm. Since The Wild Ramp has opened our sales have taken a huge jump. Even Kellen and Lydia have taken products there and made a little money. He understands how The Wild Ramp is more convenient for our customers and more convenient for us. Making  money, Kellen understands.

His question was more aimed at understanding why other people should care about local food. I really didn't have a clear concise answer for him. I think there are so many different reasons people do (and should) care about local food it was hard to give a simple answer.

I talked to him about quality. That he also understands. My family has become food snobs. We didn't intend to make them that way, but it just happened after years of eating the fresh food that we grow. The kids can taste the difference.

He tried to get me by saying he could have the same quality shipped from somewhere else. Maybe, but you lose quality in the shipping time, and you add cost. (Score one for mom.)

I explained that some people who can't raise their own food just want to know where their food is coming from. Sometimes there are health concerns. Other times people care about animal welfare. There are a 100 different reasons why people want to know their farmer.

Some people support local farms (and other local businesses) because it is good for the local economy. Supporting local food keeps money in the local economy. It creates jobs. It creates new businesses. It boosts the community. Not so sure I had Kellen convinced on that.

I know, to many of you, local food is very important. Why is it important to you?  I would love to read your reasons and share them with Kellen.

And it if it is important to you, would you take a moment and check out Ramp Up! The Wild Ramp Kickstarter? Your support by backing or by spreading the news is greatly appreciated! 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

My Morning Entertainment

I love mornings. I love waking up before the rest of the family to enjoy a cup of coffee and some quiet time. I love the morning chores. It is a simple, peaceful routine. A time to watch and chat with the animals. They don't talk back, and they think I'm wonderful, as long as I am carrying a bucket of feed.

Many mornings I have to remind myself to quit watching the animals and move a long. They are so entertaining. One particular group has me enthralled currently. They are a group of 4 week old light Brahma pullets. They aren't exactly cute and fuzzy chicks any more. They are at the teen awkward pullet stage. There is still some fuzz mixed in with those new feathers. They don't cluck. They still peep, and if you've been around a group of peeping chicks, you know how incessant and demanding those little peeps can be.

Their pen is near our side door. Every morning when I step out that door I hear them peeping. "Are you coming yet?"  "We are waiting." It isn't that they are hungry. They aren't thirsty. They aren't even cold. What these little girls want is to get out of their pen. They want to run, and try their wings. They want to scratch, eat bugs, and taste the grasses they find. They want me to come open the dang door.

I grab my bucket of feed. They don't really care much about that. Their feeder isn't empty. As I approach their door and fill the feeder, they all huddle in the back of the pen. I grab their waterer, and start to walk away. They are waiting. Waiting for me to get far enough away that it is safe. If I hadn't turned around, I would have missed the show.

Yes, this is my daily entertainment. Every morning, I step back, and I wait for the Brahma show. Every morning, it brings a smile to my face.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

From the mouths of babes.

Earlier this week I strained my back. It was stiff and painful for the majority of the week. Tasks that required bending over were particularly painful. So, the other day when my jeans were rolled up funny at the bottom and needed adjusted, I asked Vivian to come and help me.

As she was helping me, I asked her if she was going to take care of me like this when I was old. I told her when I was old like Aunt Hazel (my great aunt who is 95) she would have to tie my shoes and help me with all kinds of things. Vivian, my baby, who cherishes being helpful and being with her mommy still, was completely agreeable to my teasing suggestions.

Nolan, who had been standing off to the side watching and listening, had this to say, "But Mom you are already...." and he caught himself as he realized what kind of trouble he was about to step into.

Nolan, it is always Nolan. What a stinker!

Monday, August 13, 2012

WV State Fair

This past weekend we had our first trip to the WV State Fair. We spent the majority of our time in the llama barn, but we had a lot of fun with the llama show and the rest of the fair!

We started off bright and early Friday morning with the performance classes. Showmanship was first. Vivian showed in the sub junior class. Lydia and Nolan in the juniors, and Kellen in the intermediate.

Next were the fun classes. This really was a fun show. The pack, PR, and obstacle classes were all movie themed. The theme for the pack classes was "Robin Hood." Part of the course was "stealing" juice boxes and putting them in your pack. Lydia asked the all important question, "Do we get to keep them?" They did. Here Nolan is running out of the forest to hide in the cave from the Sheriff.

The Public Relations course was "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" themed. Here Kellen is taking some "Turkish delight" at the end of the course.

The theme for the Obstacle Course was "Pirates of the Caribbean." I wish I would have gotten better pictures of this. There was a mist hose they had to walk through and after their sword fight and walking the plank they had to walk through water. Many of the llamas wanted nothing to do with that, including Lydia's Bella and Nolan's S8ter. They got wet feet for nothing. Kellen had no problem with L'Oreal and the water though.

The highlight of fun at the llama show was the costume contest! Crazy funny llamas and handlers!

Friday was a very long but fun day. Saturday was a shorter day with fewer and quicker moving classes. After we finished, the kids rode rides for a few hours. We went back to the hotel for dinner and swimming with the intentions of going back to the fair for fireworks. We were all sound asleep by 9:30. Sunday we walked around the fair for a few hours in the morning before gathering our things and heading home.