Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It's Buried In The Yard...

Or... the conversations I get to have because we live here.

Yesterday afternoon was one of those super sunny, non-artic type days that fool you into thinking spring is just around the corner.  Today, on the other hand is one of those days where it is snowing, the wind sounds like we've relocated the house directly under Niagara Falls, and it's cold enough in my house to not want to know what temperature it is outside.  However, back to yesterday! So the littles wanted to go out and play, and the littlest little needs my aid in this department. So out we went.  When Mr. Pretties got home from work we did a walk around outside, in the bush, the barn, the corn field adjacent.... you know, the usual.  So as we were doing our own thing (Mr. Pretties trying to organize the random piles of wood around the property and me complaining because I'm too fat and ackward to be milling about in the brambles) Mr. Pretties and I had the following exchange:

Me: Hey Dave, remember when I said I wanted to replace the kitchen sink with an antique cast iron one?
Mr. Pretties: Uh huh...
Me: Great! Grab a shovel, I just found one buried in the yard!
Mr. Pretties: ......................

Love it.  I think Mr. Pretties thought this was another example of my extreme sarcasm, or off the wall humour.  He did not however, think that we had an old cast iron sink stinking partially out of a bunch of tree remains at the end of our property.  I love that about having sprawling property, you just never know what you're going to find!  So far (you know, in the last month) I've come across an old wagon part, a rusted through trough, numerous rusty oil cans, an enamel pot with a hole in it, an antique javex bottle, and a stack of windows from the original barn.  And we don't spend that much time outside right now, as I said: Artic. Weather. Have I mentioned we still have not received our oil delivery?  And that we're heating this old house with only wood (okay, and two electric oil heaters, I know, bad homesteaders, bad!) which is costing us a small fortune.  Because we're dumb and keeping picking it up at the grocery store until we can find someone willing to deliver the wood here - and that appears to be no small feat around here!  We've been doing a lot of character building around here with these new situations.  So far my character is huddled in a corner beside the woodstove with three pairs of socks, two pairs of pants and four sweaters.  While debating the feasiblilty of puchasing a king sized electric blanket, making a tent out of it, and proceeding to live inside it until we find a more efficient way to heat the house.  Mr. Pretties however, has brought it to my attention that we frequently lose power in the evenings due to the wind and that in the case the heated tent would no long be a heated tent.  On to plan B!  It involves having a woodstove installed in the livingroom so that our one small stove isn't busting it's rear trying to heat the entire house, which is impossible.  It also involves and EcoFan if I can ever locate one.  I got laughed out of two TSCs last week when I went looking for one because I was in the wrong season.  Apparently I thought I was in winter, but I was mistaken because as we all know winter is over and it's time to start buying lawn seed and patio furniture. Duh!

In other news, one of our white silkies is broody again!! Hoohoo!!!

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Joys of Power...

... Or the even bigger joy of not having it!

After my last post it got so windy outside it blew our power right out.  Fortunately, I knew where I put the candles and the matched.  It was great.  We sat infront of the woodstove with a couple candles and watched Green Acres reruns on the laptop (why to rough it, right?) and ate pitas.  The littles were so disappointed when the hydro blinked back to life, I have to admit I was disappointed too.  Partially because we were having such a lovely cozy time sans lights, and partially because you can't clean when you can't see the mess ;)  I might change my mind in the future, but I hope we lose power more often, I think it's healthy.


Or, oil experiment gone wrong...

Before we moved into this house a new furnace was installed, as was a new woodstove and the entire house was reinsulated.  Good stuff!!  Our oil was quite low when we moved in and the conservation area we rent the property from suggested we let it run right out so that we could get an idea of how much oil is left after it hits E on the oil gauge (Exactly three weeks with very conservative use), and that because the oil company services the entire conservation area and it's properties we would have no problems getting them out to fill us up immediately upon running out.  Plus, we haven't really been having a lot of winter lately.  Lots of sunshine, days above 5 and mushy lanes. Also good stuff! So no big deal!

Yesterday we arrived home after running some errands before Mr. Pretties needed to leave for work.  When I got home the house felt a little cool.  This house is on either side of 120 years old, it's always cool.  So I went into the livingroom and turned up the heat, cozy heat immediately blasted from the grated orfices in our floors!  Oh wait, that didn't happen.  Nothing happened.  No hum. No rumble. Nothing that sounds like a locomotive is driving through our dirt and stone basement.  Crap. No oil. But! That's not a problem for those of us in the know, who can have the oil company pop over on an oil guzzling whim! Oh wait, that wasn't the case either.  There was a misunderstanding and Mr. Oil cannot possibly bring us anymore until Monday.  But the beauty part of this house is that if our gas furnace died we would have slowly froze to death between now and Monday (Trust me.  Our gas furnace did die in our non-insulated 1910 victorian last winter - it was unpleasant to say the least) but instead we just popped some wood in the stove, put on a sweater and carried on with our day!  Very few things can beat the option of secondary heat. Love. It.

So we're hanging around the house this weekend babysitting the woodstove and doing cozy things.  We really need to be doing buying baby things, type of things, but we'll work that out.  In the mean time we'll listen to the howling wind outside and the freezing rain hurling itself at the windows and be thankful that we have the shelter of this mighty yellow brick farmhouse, piles of down blankets and a woodstove that's crackling awayin the kitchen and pumping our house full of heat.  It's a good time.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What a Novel Idea!

Or, aren't midwife home visits supposed to be less stressful than going all the way into the office?

I'm going to have to go with no.  This isn't going to be a long post, or a great post (okay, or even a mediocre post) but it'll be a post.  This morning was our scheduled midwife home visit where they come and tell us that our house is too cold (I'm sorry, doesn't everyone have their thermostat set at a balmy 66 degrees?) which made me sad, I had even made the effort to turn UP the heat so that others would think we live in a civilized environment...  and point out that if you move your bedroom upstairs (where it SHOULD be, don't ask) to the room that's designated for you, that it doesn't have a heating duct... (Got to love that conversation 'Where's the heating vent in this room'  Me: 'Psh... why it's right over... over... over... what the hell?  This room HAS no heating vent?!') and follow it up with 'And where is the closest bathroom? There's one up here right?' Uhh... No.  Sorry.  Our one and only bathroom is downstairs, on the opposite end of the house down the narrow steep stairs.  For some reason keeping our bedroom on the main floor until baby gets here seems to be the most feasible plan at this point.  See? This is why they do home visits, so they can think of all the stuff that I hadn't!  So that's settled!

Then all the kids were home today, conveniently, for my visit.  You know how you watch A Baby Story and people either take their children to the Obs office, or the midwife comes over and they sit their angelically listening to the babies' heartbeat, asking sweet questions, and talk about how excited they are for their new sibling?  In real life, that doesn't happen.  Lamps get knocked over, chickens wind up in the house, and the dog and the rabbit get into a giant raucus, all while asking the probability of bleeding to death in the near future.  It really wasn't what I had pictured for this appointment... Which has brought me to the decision that if something some how derails in our plan to have the children out of the house for the birth, we will infact relocate to the hospital immediately because a peaceful, relaxing birth will not be a possibility under those conditions.  Maybe I'll also rethink my distaste for long hospital stays and make it into a vacation, maybe a week, a month?  The first six months of baby's life?  We'll play it be ear ;)

Things are simply not always as you expect them.  It's kind of our life theme song (you know, if quotes could be theme songs...).  I also didn't expect a barn full of dead raccoons, Hotdog to turn into demon spawn, or that having a much larger house would do nothing to decrease noise and insanity inside of it.  You could have a McMansion and the littles would still insist on congregating in one area while fighting and being as loud as humanly possible.  I don't understand it myself, but such it is.

Now I need to go locate the bowl with the remaining pink fluffy icing from lastnight's Valentine's cake and have it for lunch.  And pick up the bowl of fruit the littlest little just tossed all over my floor.  Cleaning up canned fruit is actually a difficult, if not ackward, task that I'm not looking forward to.  Too bad Hotdog has no desire to eat fruit... 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Getting There

Or, why are we the Ingles?

   I so badly want to write all these wonderful things about 'farm life' and because I can't (you know, because we're currently buried under a wasteland of snow and COLD again) I feel like I have nothing to write or contribute to anyone (ha!) reading right now.  Which is not right.  I also feel like I can only share all the wonderful Little House on The Prairie thoughts I have about it.  Also, not right.  This is my blog and I don't want anyone reading to think that everything is cozy fires and homemade cookies all the time.  And trust me, with fours kids (And another on the way), 13 chickens, three cats, a dog (and another on the way), it isn't. It so isn't.

   We're going through a the motions right now of deciding what we want to get from this experience.  I am very good at deciding what want from things, and Mr. Pretties is very good at agreeing and going along with those plans, but I would like very much for everyone in this family to take something away from this experience by achieving something that's important to them.  Let's just get this out there, Mr. Pretties is not the farmer in this family.  This was probably not something he ever thought he would be doing at any point in this life (come to think of it, that probably applies to a lot of things he's agreed to do with me, starting with having a brood of five kids LoL).  His grandparents farmed, but his family is mostly removed from such things.  This does not, however, mean that he is not open to the experience.  He's just not sure what exactly he wants from it, whether it be dairy cattle, a beehive, a wood working shop, who knows! But I don't want him to be so tied up in doing things for my interests that he doesn't have anything for himself.  It's something we're working on.  I would also like the kids to feel like they're achieving something and have something to call their own and be proud of.  It's something we're starting to discuss, I don't know if perhaps having their own gardens is what they would like, or to have a certain breed of chickens that are their own to show, our oldest is going Wednesday night to meet up with a riding coach to see about riding lessons for her, and then she wants a pony.  I do not want a pony, at this point, as I would like to see us with animals that are contributing to the farm (unless she wants a draught pony... of a fell pony...) but it's something we can plan for in the future. 

   So we're at the stage where we need to decide who wants to do what, what is in the budget to do this year, and what needs to be tabled for next year and start doing it.  I still have to order my vegetable seeds!!  We're also in a position this year where we're in a house that while it has had quite a lot of work done on it recently, there is still a lot that can (and should, and will) be done to it to meet it's full potential.  So far we've been white washing the floors upstairs (trust me, they were awful, and I take reassurance that when we have the time and money we will rip up the tile up there and sand down all the floors and have them restained), ripping out garbage laminate flooring that the previous owners used as puppy pads apparently, repairing doors, and getting ready to repaint pretty well everything in this house.  If we can get all this done we'll can concentrate 100% on outside this year and get all the annual gardens cleaned up, the barn cleaned out, the 'secret garden' cleared out (pigs anyone?), the veggies in (and preferably growing...) and the coop up and running.  We're just having trouble taking it a one piece at a time, making a plan, getting it done, and moving on to the next.  We're too busy seeing the whole picture and freaking out because 'nothing is getting done!!'.  But we'll get there, and we'll get done what we can.  Ideally, I want everything done, and done yesterday.  Realistically, I'll be happy if we get the coop built nicely, the veggies in, and the house interior  repainted.  That would work for me for this first year.

   Also, it's funny how you try to conserve on heat when you're trying to keep the oil man away.  We use our woodstove regularly, but we're also finding it spendy (to the tune of $300+ a month in addition to oil) because we've been buying it in dribs and drabs because we haven't found anyone who wants to deliver it yet.  I woke up this morning and the thermostat happily let me know that it was 56 degrees.  Yikes.  It's also funny how balmy 66 degrees feels after waking up to a 56 degree house.  Or how down right hot, let's open the windows, 70 degrees can feel with the woodstove fully cranked.  When I used to read on Cold Antler Farms about waking up to temperatures like that, wearing sweaters to bed, and being thrilled by a 65 degree house, I couldn't believe it.  I'm happiest when our house is 72 and I'm wearing a sweater.  But realistically, I don't find these new norms unpleasant! We just throw extra quilts on the beds at night and I wear a sweater to bed anyway.  Not to mention the three cats and a dog that sleep on the end of it ;) And the woodstove does a nice job of sending the heat right up the stairs off the kitchen keeping the littles bedrooms nice and toasty.  This all seems a little rustic to us right now, but I love this new norm and I can't wait to see what other things we'll be adjusting to and how much we enjoy them! 

   We're also looking into a livestock guardian dog for the chickens, kids and whatever else we end up with, does anyone have any suggestions? Has anyone ever used a St Bernard as a LGD?  Please share!!!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

We're Here!

Or…  More or less…

We officially arrived with our gear at ‘the farm’ Friday the 27th.  It is lovely. Words simply cannot describe what it’s like to have a dream, spend hours discussing it (to death), acquiring skills that will allows you to be more efficient when you achieve it, and then to actually be living it.  It’s still in the surreal stages I think, but it’s starting to feel more ‘normal’ everyday.  Or, as normal as can be when you still have a flock of chickens residing in your garage because your barn is currently too over run with dead raccoons…  not that I would know anything about that…
The time we spend here seems to be of such higher quality than when we’re anywhere else.  Everything smells better, tastes better, the water is softer, the scenery is fabulous, and you truly cannot beat having a woodstove.  Our enjoyment has become such that no one (with the exception of Mr. Pretties, because he’s a freak) wants to leave the house to go out.  This says a lot as we were very much an on the go family, spending a vast majority of our free time in the car.  Now I can’t see the point in leaving.  Why would we want to go spend time in civilization, noise, pollution, aggravation?  When I could be home watching a YouTube video on knitting (which, btw, is not going to help me, I’m beyond help), baking bread, snuggled up infront of the woodstove with my new copy of Joel Salatin’s ‘Folks, This Ain’t Normal’ (and I am SO enjoying this book, I’ve already ordered a few more of his books which I plan to devour as soon as they get here), or making Valentine’s with the littles.  We had to go into town to buy groceries Friday night, and that was only after we promised the littles that if we got all our shopping and errands done Friday night (they wanted to go home) that we could stay home for the rest of the weekend.  I never though we’d be having that discussion!  And stay home we did.  That was something that we were physically (mentally? Emotionally? Ridiculously?) incapable of accomplishing before.  A weekend at home only took place if the car was in being taken care of or we all simultaneously were suffering from food poisoning.  Not. That. Often. I love it! If I never had to leave the house again I would be a happy girl.  Funny, no one mentioned that moving into a rural area can quickly unleash your hermit instincts.  Or that it becomes almost impossible to stay awake past 10pm because the air is so fresh, and the atmosphere is so relaxing.  I used to have to play an hour of crappy iPod games just to be able to fall asleep at night, usually ending my day at 1 or 2am.  I longer have this dilemma.

So to say the least, we are so stoked to be here.  The girls are loving school, I think they fit in a lot better with their current school mates, as they have more in common and are more instep with our lifestyle.  Everyone who comes over doesn’t want to leave (and because I’m becoming a hermit, I want them to leave more) because it’s just so quiet and relaxing to be here.  Well, except when I’m cutting fishing wire off the rooster’s feet.  For the fourth time.  Because they keep finding a ball of it somewhere that I can’t locate.  That’s not relaxing or quiet…  Or when I spent two hours trying to start a fire in the stove because Mr. Pretties bought damp firewood by mistake.  That’s not relaxing or quiet either.  Quite the opposite, usually involving a lot of four letter words from my mouth.  But I think we have that sorted out ;)

So yay us, we’re here!!!  And we have wild turkeys!!!