New additions

We’ve had some new additions on our homestead.

Two of our hens have been broody for several weeks. Here is Maggie holding the first chick to hatch:

And if chickens on the trampoline aren’t entertaining enough, we now have a goat on the trampoline, too. Meet  our new lawnmower, Clover:

20160704 175410 resized 1

 

Advertisements

The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

We’ve all had those days where nothing seems to go right and everything seems to go wrong. Last Thursday was one of those days for me.

After nearly two weeks with us, the puppy, Thorin, was very much a member of the  family. Thursday morning a neighbor showed up and wanted him back. Just like that–after two weeks of apparently not being concerned about him. His house is about an eighth of a mile away from ours, but his backyard and ours share about 200 feet of fence; yet he never checked to see if the puppy was here.

He didn’t ask how the puppy was doing–or any questions, really. I didn’t have much choice but to give him back. I would have felt better if I though he was going back to people who cared as much about him as we did.

This was an awful start to the day. And, although it was the worst thing that happened, the day didn’t improve much from that point forward.

Mark had an afternoon appointment for vision therapy, so we pulled ourselves together and got ready. Matthew and Maggie stayed home, as they often do. Micah came with us.

It is about a thirty-mile drive to the clinic where Mark has his vision therapy, most of which I spent thinking about how much I already missed Thorin. The therapy appointment went well and afterwards we spent about ten minutes waiting for them to finish making Mark’s glasses (which had been about two weeks in the making due an error with one of the lenses). Mark looked adorable with his new glasses, and we headed out to the van for the drive home.

About ten minutes down the road, Micah said, “Mark broke his glasses!” My first thought was that he had popped a lens out. Surely he hadn’t broken them before he’d had them on for fifteen minutes! I told Micah to put the glasses on the seat in front of him (they were in the back row); and since I had nothing else to do while driving, I stewed over whether he had actually broken the glasses and if so, how badly.

After about ten minutes of stewing, I decided to pull over on a side road to find out how bad it was. He had snapped the entire earpiece off, just above the hinge. There would be no way for me to fix them and still have the hinge usable–glue or tape would both be in the way.

I couldn’t do anything about the glasses until we got home. As I turned around to go back to the highway, I slid off the road onto the shoulder. This would not have been a problem if we had not gotten about ten straight days of rain. The van was stuck! I tried reverse, no luck. I tried first gear, again no luck. I turned the engine off and burst into tears. I should mention at this point that Mark and Micah were both already crying because of the broken glasses.

I called Todd. His phone went straight to voicemail. I called and texted a few more times with no response. So I called his office. Sure enough, he was right there in the cellular-service dead zone that is his office. He came and picked us up and took us home.

After Todd got off work one of our neighbors was kind enough to help him pull the van out so that we didn’t need to call a tow truck.

I’m thankful that days like these are usually rare. And that when I do have them, God’s grace is sufficient to get me through them.

An unexpected puppy

My last post was all about our new porch. The porch wasn’t the only new thing we got last Saturday.

Todd and I were up well before the kids last Saturday, talking and having coffee. All of a sudden we heard a loud thump on the front porch followed by quiet whimpering.

We looked outside and found this little guy:

20160527_165128_resized

We have no idea where he came from. He was so excited to see us that if he’d had a tail, he would have wagged it off.  It had been a chilly night and he was shivering. We gave him some water and food, and I rubbed him down to help him warm up.

The kids were really excited to see him when they got up. Amy, our German shepherd, was not as thrilled. She barked and growled at him for a while, but he didn’t seem to care. He came right on into the house and made himself at home. He found a pile of laundry in the boys’ room (shocking!), curled up, and went to sleep. He spent most of the weekend sleeping.

The kids, together with their friends who were visiting, named the puppy Thorin after the king of the dwarves from The Hobbit. We are definitely Tolkien fans!

We checked multiple places to see if anyone was missing a puppy, but no one seemed to be looking for him. By this time, we were already planning to keep him unless someone claimed him. He was getting along well with Amy (and she was mostly getting along with him).

20160528_174931_resized

We tried to figure out what breed of dog Thorin was by looking online at various breeds; realizing, of course, that he was likely to be more than one. We thought he was probably a Catahoula because of his color or possibly a pit bull mix because of his broad face and stub/docked tail. On Thursday, Todd had a chance to take him to the veterinarian to see if he had a microchip. He didn’t. The vet said that it’s highly unlikely that Thorin’s a pit bull. Catahoula is a possibility, but his first thought was Great Dane.

Time will probably tell what breed he is, but for now we are enjoying him. And laughing about the fact that we may have named a Great Dane after a dwarf!

A new front porch

First, I want to say that we have amazing friends.

Some friends of ours (two families) asked if there were any big projects we still needed help with and the most of obvious project was the front porch. It was one of the last really big projects other than the irreparable shed.

Parts of the porch were  not very safe to walk on–two to three feet back from the front edge for almost the entire length of the porch. And some of the support underneath had rotted out. I had mostly put off working on the porch for the simple reason that I really didn’t know how I was going to fix it.

This was actually a good section of the porch.

This was actually a good section of the porch.

It was a little like an old-fashioned barn-raising. People started showing up and getting to work. We tore out the old bad boards and replaced them with new; braced support beams that needed it; rebuilt railings; and built new steps on one side, and added supports to the other set of steps. Most of the kids even helped–at one point I think there were thirteen of them there.

20160527_162425_resized

The difference between old and new

We finished all the work by dinnertime. Then we all had a bonfire at our friends’ house and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows.

It is very humbling to have friends who are willing to drop everything for a weekend to help you work on a project. When it is their idea, it is even more so.

The internet problem

As I mentioned in my last post, our new house is in an internet dead zone of sorts. We are outside the coverage areas for all of the non-satellite internet providers. We weren’t really surprised by that, but we didn’t realize how difficult it would be to get satellite internet.

There are really only three choices for satellite internet in our area. We decided on one based on the plans and pricing and they came out to install it, but they couldn’t get a signal because the trees were blocking the tower. After a lot of waiting and investigating, we found out that one of the other internet providers didn’t use towers, but instead links directly to the satellite and eliminates the tree problem. Of course, they are the most expensive, too.

Tuesdays are busy days anyway (Todd’s weekly deadline is Wednesday morning; Mark has therapy), so we probably should have waited until the scheduled installation appointment on Wednesday, but they had a cancellation and we decided to take them up on it. The installer got there while we were all home for lunch, just before I left to take Mark to therapy.

About two hours later, I’m driving back from therapy, thinking how nice it will be to have internet when I get home. Then Todd calls to tell me that when the installer drilled a hole in the wall, he hit an electrical wire and knocked out power to half of the house. Yes, half of the house.

By the time I get home, the internet installer is almost finished and just checking to make sure everything is working. A few minutes later the electricians arrive and get to work. They start checking out the problem and decide that they can’t fix it from outside the house. They have to cut a hole in the wall in the living room (a wall I spent over an hour patching) to reach the cut wire and repair it. They cut the hole and discovered that the drill had mangled the wire into the stud and they would have to further cut the wire to get it out, leaving them with with less wire to work with. They decided the easiest way to patch the shortened wire (without further cutting into the wall) was to add an outlet to tie the two lines back together.

So, after all of that, we have an internet connection, a new outlet, and a nice new hole to patch.

20160520_171031_resized_1

I’m still here

I’m still here! I haven’t abandoned the blog; I’ve just been offline.

For most of February and March, I was working about 30 hours a week at the new house, which of course, did not leave a lot of spare time for blogging. Then, the first week of April we moved into the new house, which we discovered is in an internet dead zone. We finally got connected yesterday–which is a story in and of itself.

But first, a little catching up:

We still have a lot to do on the house, but I finished my great big “Must Be Done Before We Can Move In” list. The painting is finished, the floors are finished, and the sink and counters are installed.

I have moved on to my big “Needs to Be Done Soon After We Move In” list. Most of these are smaller jobs or ones that can be done a little at a time. But, I have to admit that the list isn’t shrinking as quickly as I’d like. It’ll get done sometime!

An interesting Christmas

This Christmas was quite a bit different from last year. After spending last Christmas in Florida with both sets of grandparents, I expected it would be.

We have been sick since Thanksgiving, so I really didn’t want to plan too much for Christmas anyway. The kids have been passing around a virus for about a month, I was sick for three weeks straight, and even Todd was sick for about a week.

We typically do not have a “big” Christmas celebration. After many years of Todd working on Christmas Day, we have sort of settled into our own quiet traditions. We usually put up a Christmas tree with a variety of decorations that we have accrued over the years. I don’t do much else in terms of decorating. We make sugar cookies and decorate them, and make other treats–some to eat, some to give away. We usually have our main Christmas meal on Christmas Eve and just have snacks and leftovers on Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve, we read the Christmas story from Luke chapter 2 and then open our stockings. Yes, the kids often eat all of their candy before going to bed. Then on Christmas Day we open our presents.

Two years ago our Christmas tree had declined to the point that I decided we needed a new one. Last year we had no need of a tree, and I just didn’t feel like going out and getting one this year with everyone not feeling well. Since we had no tree, we strung lights across the piano. It was actually quite pretty! We did make and decorate some cookies. I mixed up the cookie dough and left the kids in charge of the decorating and baking, because I just felt awful.

We had our Christmas Eve dinner and read the Christmas story. Then the kids opened their stockings, ate their candy, and went to bed. (Surprisingly, we’ve never had trouble getting our kids to bed on Christmas Eve or with making them wait until after breakfast to open their presents.)  Then we went to bed looking forward to a quiet Christmas morning at home before we went to our friends’ house in the evening.

Christmas morning we had breakfast around seven (our normal time). Of course, Micah was too excited to eat much. Before we had finished eating there was a knock on the door. Our next-door neighbor was there. Normally I would not mind neighbors stopping by, even on Christmas morning. But this particular neighbor is crazy. After rambling on to Todd (who had gone outside when he answered the door) for a few minutes, he left. About ten or fifteen minutes later he came back and knocked on the door again. (I suppose I should mention that our dog starts barking like crazy every time she sees or hears him.) Todd went outside again and listened to him again and he left again. (This time he was talking about what the people who live in his attic were telling him to do–no, I’m not kidding.) The kids started opening their presents. And then there was another knock on the door. It was him again. At this point, although I’m annoyed with the interruptions, I’m starting to feel more and more apprehensive. (He has never come over repeatedly before this. He mostly yells things that don’t make sense. But he seemed to be getting more aggressive over the last few weeks.)

The kids finished opening their presents and were playing with their toys. Then he came back a fourth time and a fifth. After the sixth time, we called the police, just to let them know what was going on. (I’m not saying that he is dangerous, but I’m not convinced that he isn’t.)  They came and talked to him (and some of the other neighbors who have had problems with him) and he hasn’t been back over here since.

We had a wonderful evening with our dear friends, laughed a lot, and ate too much. It was an interesting, but a merry Christmas!