Two steps forward, one step back

We are slowly making progress on the house. We have water and electricity hooked up. The painting and patching continue.

I had some big holes to patch, but I had a good helper for part of the job. Micah really enjoyed helping and did a very good job with the joint compound.

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And it only took two coats of primer to cover the red paint. Let me just say that I was not an OU fan before I started on this project, and I am definitely not one after painting over all of that red. The boys’ room is now a very light shade of blue.

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The white wall next to the desk is a whiteboard that they can draw on. It was a very narrow wall with a very large hole and we had some leftover whiteboard paneling, so it made for an easy fix.

Todd, Matthew, and I spent a very rainy afternoon working on the house. They planned to move the working toilet from the master bathroom (where the floor needs to be repaired to the other bathroom where the toilet flushed more water onto the floor than into the tank. I planned to touch up the paint in the boys’ room, because I always seem to leave a few thin spots.

I had already started painting when they realized that the cutoff valve for the toilet would not turn the water all the way off. Their solution was to turn off the power and therefore the pump. Did I mention that this was a very rainy day? I found myself with the lights off and very little light making its way through the gloomy clouds trying to find the spots that I had missed. These were places I had missed while painting on a sunny day with the lights on, so I decided to find something else to work on that would not strain my eyesight.

Of course, I needed to clean my paintbrush before the paint dried on it, but no water to the toilet meant no water to the sink. Then it hit me–there’s plenty of running water outside, falling from the sky. I found a good spot where the water was running off the edge of the roof and cleaned out the paintbrush.

 

 

 

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Invisible work

Maggie and I spent  over two hours one day last month working at the new house, but I doubt that you would notice what we accomplished in that time.

Maggie put a fresh coat of paint on the ceiling in her brothers’ room. I pulled all of the weeds growing on one side of the carport (I had parked the van on the other) and cut down several small saplings that had grown up next to the house and other structures. Even if you had seen the place before Maggie painted and I cleared out that small portion of brush, you probably would only see what still needs to be done: the holes in the walls, the knee-high grass in the backyard, the broken windows, and all the other things we haven’t gotten to. The ceiling in the boys’ room is still white, just a little bit brighter. The weeds will grow back, probably before I even get to the ones on the other side of the carport.

It hit me (again) that much of life is spent doing the invisible work. We wash the laundry, clean up messes, wash dishes, wipe noses (and other places), and kiss boo-boos–only to do it all again tomorrow. But this invisible work is the important work. It is in the daily monotony of caring for our families that we are living out God’s grace and truth.

What’s new on our homestead

It’s been a while since my last post, so I thought I’d get caught up on all the things that have been happening around here lately. It’s been a busy summer!

We are slowly making some progress on the new house. Mostly we are finding more and more things that will need to be done, but that is progress in itself. The front porch is going to need more work than we thought as one of the support joists is rotting. The lower portion of the living room walls was covered very badly with an extra layer of drywall. I took that off and was pleasantly surprised to find that the walls were in very good shape with nearly all of the damage coming from the extra layer of drywall. I’m using the drywall I removed to patch some of the larger holes in the boys’ room.

Matthew has his learner’s permit. He was able to take driver’s ed through our local high school even though he is homeschooled. He enjoyed the class and Todd and I enjoyed not teaching him to drive. (He’s still learning, but mostly just needs practice.)

We got a dog. We were planning to wait until we moved out to the new house before we did this, but a friend of ours was looking for a home for her German shepherd puppy. Amy is almost a year old now and mostly well-behaved. We are still trying to teach her not to chase the chickens. She is under the mistaken impression that they need rounding up.

Amy

I finished the henhouse. Well, most of it. I built most of it about three months ago and the chickens were able to start using it–and more importantly stop sleeping in the bathroom. Matthew and I finished putting the shingles on the roof about a month later and it still needs a coat of paint, but the chickens don’t care.

We lost another chicken. Snuggles was our broody hen. She sat on her nest from dawn ’til dusk every day, rain or shine, with eggs or not. Her broodiness was in all probability the direct cause of her demise. We think that a Cooper’s hawk swooped down and tried to carry her off. I say “tried to” because we found her hanging in the fence. Any other daytime predator would have raised an alarm with the other chickens. I doubt that the hawk realized how big and heavy she was, just that she was an easy target–a sitting duck, if you will.

We have come to the realization that three of the six chicks we got were not pullets, they are cockerels. I don’t mind having a rooster, but three is too many for our small flock. I’m not sure what we will do with the extras. In the meantime, we are enjoying laughing at their attempts at crowing.

Yellow

We are trying to settle into a new routine with church, school, therapy, and work while still finding time to work on the house. I’m thankful that we don’t have a deadline to have everything finished and moved in.

Breaking out

Yesterday afternoon I went over to the new house to work on some more painting.  I had to take Matthew somewhere at 5:00, so I planned to paint a second coat on the ceiling in Maggie’s room and head home to shower before I needed to go. I got the paint all mixed up and poured in the tray. I took off my boots and set them in the hallway to keep from spilling paint on them. (I prefer to paint barefoot–it’s the best way to know if you have stepped in wet paint.) Then I turned on some music on my phone and set it in the hallway, too.

I started painting on the side of the room opposite the door and by the time I was about a quarter of the way finished, Todd stopped by on his way home from work. I told him I wasn’t planning to stay long, so he said he would run some errands and head home. I continued painting the ceiling and when I was about three-quarters of the way done, I decided to go ahead and paint the are behind the door.

Apparently when I painted the first coat on the ceiling I had only pushed the door out of the way and had not actually closed it, because when I tried to open the door after I had finished that corner, the knob just turned and turned without opening the door. I tried turning the knob some more and then tried to force the door open. It was at this point that I realized my phone was on the other side of the door. I thought of taking the knob off, but there were no screws on this side.

So I got back up on the stool and figured I might as well finish painting the ceiling. After the painting was done and I’d sealed up the paint can–yes, I had a mallet to put the lid on, and yes, it crossed my mind to use it on the door–I tried again to force the door open and turned the knob some more (it would almost catch when I turned it, but not quite). I realized that unless I wanted to wait for my handsome prince to realize I was missing and come rescue me, the window was my only option. This particular window is situated about six feet off the ground. It was at about this point that I realized my shoes were also on the other side of the door.

I opened the window as wide as possible and pried out the screen. I knelt down in front of the window and leaned out and down as far as I could and dropped the stool, praying it wouldn’t fall over. It didn’t. Then I swung one leg through and dangled it down in hopes that it would touch the stool. It didn’t. It was about two feet short. As I was debating about chickening out when I noticed there was a post (one of the roof supports) right next to the window. I grabbed onto it for balance, swung the other leg out, and jumped.

I landed safely on the stool and after walking barefoot around to the front of the house, and went inside to get my phone and shoes. I discovered that there were screws on the outside of the doorknob and there was a screwdriver right there in a bucket of tools. Needless to say the door no longer has a knob on it!

Our new homestead

Last month after a lot of looking at real estate online, trying to get our house ready to sell, and just not being sure what we could afford to do, we decided that we should probably just talk to the bank to determine what our options were in terms of selling the house and getting a loan, buying land and getting a loan to build a house without selling the current one, or anything else that was available. Todd is friends with the president of the local bank, so he went in to talk to him about our options. Todd explained that the main thing we were looking for was a few acres out in the country whether we found vacant land or a house. His friend mentioned that the bank had two foreclosures for sale.

We went to look at them and were not overly impressed with the first one. Then we went to see the second one. It felt like home.

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It is an older mobile home on about three acres. It has a metal roof added on which covers the mobile home and the porch which runs the entire length of the house. It has a nice barn and a dilapidated shed. It has lots of trees (which is worth mentioning in this part of Oklahoma), but also has a large cleared area at the back. And the neighbors to the rear have llamas.

It’s going to need a lot of work, but we’re excited to make it our own.

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Never a dull moment

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but this one just begs for an explanation. Yes, those are our chickens. And yes, they are perched on the bathtub.

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Last fall we lost several of our chickens to an overnight skunk attack. (I didn’t post anything about it because it seemed unimportant in the of other events at the time.) Matthew and I spent the next day skunk-proofing the hen-house to ward off any future attacks. While the hen-house is now skunk-proof, we have discovered that it is not raccoon-proof.

Thursday night we lost one hen and one chick. We initially thought that this was the work of the skunk, too, since we found a place where the wire had come loose. Saturday morning we discovered the door to the hen-house wide open with all five remaining chicks nowhere to be found. After fixing the broken door (more on that in another post) and thoroughly checking the hen-house for any other holes, we decided it was safe.

Oh, did I mention that we had severe thunderstorms (no local tornadoes) and torrential rains with flash flooding Wednesday through Saturday? Saturday night around 10:00 pm I heard squawking from the hen-house so I ran outside in the pitch dark in my sock-feet yelling for Todd to come out there as I ran. When I got out to the chicken pen it was too dark to see anything. (It’s around the side of the shed from the house, so the porch light did no good.) I was yelling and the chickens were squawking, when all of a sudden I see something streak past me toward the house and I realize that it is one of the chickens. By this time Todd has gotten out there, but we still don’t have any light.

I went back inside to get a flashlight and discovered the chicken that streaked by me (Pecker) was in the dining room–smart chicken, she knew where she would be safe. I yelled for Maggie to get up and go help and ran outside with a light. We determined that all of the hens were safe and whatever had attacked was gone. We found a place where the raccoon (which was kind enough to leave a telltale pawprint) had ripped several boards off the side of the hen-house. There was also a place where Pecker had ripped off the screen in her determination to get away from certain death.

Around this time the adrenaline starts to wear off and I realize that I am soaked almost to the knees (and still in my socks) from running back and forth through the ankle-deep puddles in the backyard. Todd and Matthew were outside trying to patch the hen-house in the dark. Maggie was inside trying to find Pecker (who had decided the dining room was still a bit to exposed for her taste and had hidden behind the piano). I realized that I would never get to sleep wondering if chickens were safe out there, so I decided that they could sleep in the bathroom for the night. Surprisingly, they settled right down and we didn’t hear a peep out of them all night.