Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Moving here was a huge change in our life. It was a change in location, and in lifestyle. It was hardly the end of the changes. There have been many big changes since, and I've come to realize that change really is a constant in this life. When we moved here I was pregnant with Vivian. Our second winter here Kellen looked like this:

Kellen Feb. 2007

Today I took this picture of Vivian:

Vivian Jan. 2014
Notice anything? Vivian is now almost the age Kellen was when we moved here. Vivian is wearing the overalls we bought for Kellen that first winter. Two thoughts enter my head: 1) How can the child that I was pregnant with be as big as my big kid? 2) Those overalls were an incredibly good investment!

Changes, they just keep coming. It seems like yesterday Kellen was that little big kid. He is now getting letters from colleges. He is discussing college, career, and life choices. He preparing to enter the adult world. It is just around the corner. 

He'll be shortly followed by Lydia, then Nolan, and then that little baby I was pregnant with will be on her way to adulthood too. The changes keep coming. There is no sense in fighting it.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

This is a Winter

Winter is showing its power this year. It has been cold. There has been snow. It feels like I'm living in Northeast Ohio again. It is downright pretty though, even if it causes a lot more work on the farm.

I have to admit I am pretty spoiled. With both of us teaching now, Tim has taken over the animal chores that I used to do while he was at work. He and the kids take care of the animals, while I take care of the kitchen. That lack of outside work and increased kitchen time is starting to show up on my thighs.

This is how Tim bundles up to go out to feed and thaw water twice a day. Maybe I should buy him a ski mask.....

Yesterday we got another 3" or so to add to what was already on the ground. In the morning there was just your typical pretty snowfall. The afternoon brought a thundersnow shower with pink lightning, a white out, and thunder. It was very cool to watch while cuddled up on the couch. Those who were out and about in it though, were not so impressed.

Most of the animals don't seem to mind the cold all that much. The dogs, in fact, seem to be thrilled with the cooler temperatures and all the white fluffy stuff. They go romping and wrestling back and forth all day long.

The pigs are happy to root around in the snow and to head back to their warm building when they are done. They are happy to see Tim coming too because they know that means feed and water. They line up patiently while he thaws the outside nipples.

We had been leaving the poultry penned up in an effort to keep them in constant water. We decided to buy a heated water base so that we could open their door and let them go out. The turkeys were the only ones brave enough to venture into the white stuff. 

The chickens went to the door, poked at the snow a bit at the top of the ladder, and turned right around and went back in. It was if they were saying, "That is interesting, but no thanks."

We stayed home this morning because the back roads are a mess. Today it is supposed to get in the 40s. We will get a little melt. Then it is supposed to rain and snow, and next week be back to below freezing temperatures. It is sure to be an icy mess. Winter may be pretty, but driving in it is not. Come on spring!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What is two more?

We started back to school Monday. It was a makeup day, but no one seemed to mind after all the days off. We were out of schedule. Students were a bit lethargic, but everyone was ready to get back to a more normal routine.

Then it snowed.

Then the temperatures dropped to the single digits again.

Another two days off of school. The main roads aren't too bad, but the back roads are still a mess. What is the temperature when salt on roads loses it's effectiveness? The forecast looks frigid until Friday.

I'm really not complaining about having the days off. The roads were a mess. I love that with our new schedule, we are all home when there is bad weather. It is just a bit challenging to never quite know what we'll be doing the next day, and daily making the plan up as we go. I like a plan. I can be flexible, but I like a plan.

We have gotten a lot of projects done. We've been a little lazy too. There some other projects, like starting my seeds, and canning the remaining tomatoes in my freezer that I would have gotten done if I'd known we'd be off for six days for a water issue, and now two more days for weather. There are projects I should have done like de-clutter and clean the house that I just couldn't find the motivation for.

Today we had frozen pipes for the first time in years. The temperature was really much colder than a few weeks ago, but we are guessing the wind had something to do with it. That and the fact that last week Tim fixed some loose duct work under the house. The fix kept heat going into the house instead of under it. Tim got to go under the house again today for the pipes.

I am thankful that we are home these days when the temperatures do not even approach the freezing mark. It is a challenge to keep fresh water for the animals on these days. It would be even harder if we were leaving early in the morning and not getting home until late afternoon.

We left the poultry inside today. They would be ok outside, but it is almost impossible to keep their water thawed with their door open. We really should get a water heater for them.

The hog house is set up with pig doors that have heavy flaps on them. We also heat the hog house because it is plumbed. The pigs are able to come and go as they please between the house and pasture. About the only time we will confine them inside is for weaning or when there are new piglets and cold temperatures.

Today's high in the low 20s did not deter them from coming out. This pasture was just recently opened up. There are still lots of nuts under those leaves, and it is partially a garden spot that is full of potatoes we chose not to harvest for ourselves.

The feeders are a little shy. They took off running from the fence when I walked up to them. They stopped at the trees. As I talked to them, they looked and started to come back. They know Tim's voice better than mine. I didn't wait for them. They might not mind the cold, but I do.

The two sows in that pasture, on the other hand, know my voice. They were in the opposite corner when I approached the fence. They came running toward me as soon as I started talking. I felt a little guilty I hadn't brought them a treat. Very pregnant, but young, LuLu was the first to arrive. Steady old Charcoal was right behind her. 

Our new schedules have meant Tim tends the animals more, doing the jobs that I used to do when I was home and he was working 50+ hours a week. After school he tends animals, and I tend house chores. I kind of miss going out and talking to the animals and watching them. I'm glad to have him do though when the temperatures are below freezing!

Here we are about 3:00 in the afternoon. Tim ran into town for some feed. He said the back roads are still completely covered, sheets of ice in places. There are now WV school closings, yet, but neighboring counties in KY are closing, one even closing for Friday already. Guess I need to make two plans for tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Extra Farm Time

So cold that they didn't want to go out. 
Slowly, but surely, water is being restored to the areas affected by the chemical spill last week. It looks like we may actually go back to school this week. Starting on our normal routine again is going to be challenging. Our last day of school, before Christmas, was December 20th. Since that day we've had a nice long Christmas break. We didn't go back the first two scheduled days because of the Polar Vortex. The next day we went back with a two hour delay. Then we had one full day. That was the day of the chemical leak into the Elk River. We haven't been back since.

I hate that we are not in school because of the chemical spill. I really hate that our friends in that area have gone without water for almost 5 days now. Don't throw things at me, but I am really enjoying our time at home. Between the cold and the rain, the weather hasn't been super co-operative for getting things done outside, but we have managed a few projects.

This winter we tried something new for our bunnies. We moved them into what was originally intended to be a goat house, but was converted last summer for broilers. We don't raise broilers during the winter. The shed was empty at the end of the summer. Caring for rabbits in the winter, is not that challenging except for water. Keeping them in water was always difficult, and one of the reasons we stopped raising rabbits for a few years.

This year we decided to put the rabbits inside for the winter. We didn't move the hutches inside. We put the does and weaned young ones loose in the pen. We did move one pen inside for the buck. You know what can happen if the buck has free access to girls. Well, we wanted a little control on that. We had to make a couple of adjustments early on because we had a couple of escape artists, but after that the whole system worked well. Instead of the normal rabbit water bottles and hanging feeders, we moved a chicken feeder and waterer in. The only time the water has frozen was during the Polar Vortex when temperature lows were around zero and highs in the teens.

We bred two of the does. They did fine with the kindling. The kits did well until about a week and a half. We lost a few then. I think it was because they were able to get out of the nest and too far away too early. We are going to work on a better set up for that.

They now are about three weeks old. I love the babies at this age. So darn cute!

This one wanted to hide in Kellen's sleeve and pocket.
Nolan is taking rabbits to the fair this year. We used some of our extra time this week to have him work with and sex the rabbits. We definitely have unique rabbit personalities in that barn right now. This doe was a screamer. Rabbits rarely make much noise, but when in pain or scared,  they have a horrible high pitched scream that makes your hair stand on end. I have never heard a rabbit scream like this one. Catching them and holding them is not normally cause for screaming. She screamed from the moment I put my hand on her. I was trying to hold her and calm her, and she just kept screaming. It was torture for us all.

Then she did another crazy thing. Once Tim got her situated and calmed, she played dead. She just laid there on her back perfectly still for the longest time. I've never seen anything like it. She doesn't have a name yet, but Drama Queen may be fitting don't you think?

We culled the extra bucks. We culled some old hens. We've moved hogs, loaded hogs, and switched their pasture. We've did a little organizing, a little canning, and a little cleaning. We've watched a lot of movies, played games, and spent a lot of time together. It really has been super enjoyable, but I am glad people are getting water back. Glad that we may get back into the normal routine soon! Of course, there is snow in the forecast for the next few days. ;)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A little water. A little food.

A year and a half ago there was the Derecho that left some without power for two weeks.

A few months later, Hurricane Sandy, surprised West Virginia with an October snow storm that left us without power again.

Just a week ago, a polar vortex froze the nation.

Strange weather happens. Power goes out. Road and weather conditions sometimes make it unwise to venture out.

Now, the nation is talking about an  industrial accident here in West Virginia. A state of emergency has been
declared, and thousands have been told not to use their water for any purpose except toilet flushing. Thankfully, we are not affected by this ban, but not by much. The red circle is the edge of the affected water systems. We are just on the other side of that line in Cabell County.

Reading people's reaction on websites and social media makes me angry. Yes, I get that water is necessary. Yes, I understand frustration and anger at the situation. What angers me is the finger pointing, the blaming, the demanding, and mostly the expectation that someone (the government) needs to step in and save those affected RIGHT NOW. While there may be fingers to point and blame to place, that needs to happen later. None of this groaning and moaning helps the immediate problem at hand.

Help yourself. Help each other. If you are depending on the government's help in a crisis, you will be waiting. We as individuals can react more quickly, and efficiently.

Derecho, Sandy, Polar Vortex, and Industrial Accidents; They happen. How many times do these things have to happen before we all learn to prepare a little. This isn't doomsday prepping. This isn't apocalyptic thinking. This is reality. Put a little food aside. Put a little water aside. Be prepared for freak weather or industrial accidents. Take care of yourself. Put a little more food and water aside, and help take care of your neighbors.

Don't be among the masses running to the store at every prediction of bad weather. Don't be among those throwing a tantrum like a toddler because they are inconvenienced and can't have what they want now. Be proactive. Be independent. Be prepared.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

That must be it.

This kid.

This one.

Look at that face. Can you see it?

He is so cute, adorable even at times, to the point that you just want to cuddle him and kiss his cute little cheeks. He can be charming, sweet, and has a very tender heart.

Behind that lovable facade lives the heart of one ornery little boy. A little boy who knows everyone's buttons, and just how to push them. A little boy who sometimes does not know when he has crossed the line which can result in frustrated and angry family members.

This child was a pleasure to have home over Christmas break. We had a restful and enjoyable break. On the whole, the family got along well, and we saw the lovable side of Nolan. The bickering among all the kids was minimal, even during the four hour stretches of travel time when we were visiting family.

Today was our first day back after our Christmas break which was extended two days because of the bitter winter weather that swept the nation. We started back to school with a two hour delay. We ended the day with our normal car ride home plus a stop for feed. It was no fun.

Nolan was loud. He was talking in obnoxious voices. He couldn't keep his mouth closed to save his life, often talking about nothing to no one, after everyone had asked him to be quiet. By the time we got home, Kellen was on the verge of strangling Nolan. Tim had a headache, and I wanted to ground Nolan for the rest of his life.

Admittedly, there is a certain toll the school day takes on us all. We are all a little tired, and a little less tolerant by the end of the day. Well, all of us except Nolan. He seems to be bursting at the seams, physically and verbally. This isn't just today, but most days on the way home from school.

Then it occurred to me why he is like that at the end of the day. He has had to sit still, raise his hand, not talk when he really wants to, and generally behave the entire day. He does it well. Did I mention he received an obedience award at school? After 8 hours of quiet, still, good behavior, he is truly about to burst with words and movement.

So, this kid, that cute one up there in the picture, needs to burst at school before all the family has to ride home with him in a small space. This kid needs to do jumping jacks, run around the gym, and be silly before we leave school. This kid needs to vent somehow before he makes his family crazy.

Let the ornery out!

Bring back the adorable!