Things will be good, but they won’t be easy…a brief update.

Things are a little dead out here at the airport.  Today would feel warm if not for the wind; it’s been pretty fierce out here today.  It’s the sort of day when recreational pilots don’t go up in the air; only my dad, who has almost 10,000 hours of flight time behind him, seemed to have bothered to go anywhere today.

Jeremiah and I spent the morning at the ranch, helping L and her husband move some bigger furniture then trimming toenails on one of the especially difficult llamas.  The present owners/caretakers are leaving on the 12th of this month.  We will be in charge of the animals after that, but, looking at the sheer number of their belongings still in the house, I have a feeling that we wont actually be able to move in until June or July.  They will be back in town on and off throughout the summer, to see family and pack more.  They plan to have everything completely moved out in August.

You might say things are complicated.  Until we can move into a full room or two, and have unhindered access to key areas (like the kitchen, bathroom, etc), we won’t really be able to stay there.  That means we’ll be caring for all the animals from offsite.  While I will have more time for ranch work, as I will be done teaching at the end of the week, it still indicates nearly two hours everyday just in commuting.  With so much going on, it’s getting difficult to prioritize everything that needs to be done.  If I’m being honest, I’m getting pretty overwhelmed, and I don’t see it getting much better anytime soon.

It looks so peaceful, doesn't it?
It looks so peaceful, doesn’t it?

*OH! But I did find out that I have a trip to Florida in my future!  Jeremiah finally has a farrier clinic in a fun location, so I’m going with him.  The 2nd week of June can’t come quickly enough. I cannot wait!




Keep the glass. Hand me the bottle.

The last few days have been insane.  And I don’t mean like, “Oh look how fun!  That’s insane.”  I mean more like, “We the people find the defendant to be innocent by virtue of mental illness” insane.

Don’t read into that too much.  I haven’t committed any crimes.  (And if I had, I almost certainly wouldn’t be confessing to them on the internet.)  But the last few days have been  awake early, in bed late, non-stop, constant motion.

From class to work to ranch to shoeing stops…I haven’t really had a moment to pause in about three days.  Except for just right now, and I’m using it to update all of you.  Don’t you feel special?

On top of just being busy, things have been a little stupid.  On Wednesday, I had three aircraft deals put together, and three aircraft deals start to unravel, within about three hours.  Go figure.  Looks like two of them could be saved, while the other is DRT (Dead Right There).

In fact, as I type, Jeremiah is heading up to Northern Illinois to deal with yet another deal that seems to be spinning out of control.  (Next time you think about envying the self employed because of their freedom, think of this, and don’t…)

It’s days, and weeks, like this one that force me to pause and count my blessings.

Hey look.  Blessings!
Hey look. Blessings!

I’ll start with these three, and try to have a better day.

Before and in-progress photos.

Remember when I wrote about the guest house and how it needed dramatic updates before it was remotely move-in ready?  Well, I thought I should share some before and durings (we’re not quite at after yet).


Jeremiah walking into the little house.
Jeremiah walking into the little house.  The mudroom still needs to be cleaned and possibly repainted.  One door needs replaced, and tile is in its future.

After walking into the little house via the mudroom, we were greeted by a very small, very blue kitchen.  The cupboards are 1950s retro like I’ve never seen.  The stove had been disconnected for a long, long time.  I love to cook, and so does the future occupant, so we knew the limited space would be an issue.


The kitchen
The kitchen

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The whole thing had to go.  There was no place to cook, and, frankly, I’m not sure the inside of those cabinets could ever be completely clean again.  It was one of the first things we gutted.

Now the living room.


The living room actually has pretty nice floors and a beautiful view.  It needed a fresh coat of paint.
The living room actually has pretty nice floors and a beautiful view. It needed a fresh coat of paint.

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Jeremiah took out the half wall…

The bathroom.  Yes, that is a wooden cover on the back of the toilet.  Also, tile was coming off the walls.  There was a hole in the bottom of the shower that had been roughly caulked and was leaking into the frame of the house.  The previous tenant had painted over wallpaper (peeling) and the adhesive floor was coming up.  We had to gut the room down to the studs.

2014-02-07 18.08.04

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The bathroom.

I affectionately deemed the small bedroom “the pink nightmare” or “Barbie vomit.

Small bedroom
Small bedroom

The big bedroom – Not a good picture.

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Now for the in-progress photos:

The kitchen

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2014-03-21 12.12.19

2014-03-21 12.12.09

We put in new cabinets, opened up the wall, and took over some of the living room space to expand the kitchen.

The bathroom

2014-04-26 17.43.09

New tub, tile, and backsplash so far.  I LOVE the wood tile backsplash.  It’s going to look like an old barn!

Small bedroom:

2014-04-26 17.43.23

Repainted in a shade that doesn’t give me a migraine.  The floor need to be resealed, but that’s the last thing that needs to be done before move-in.

The big bedroom:

2014-04-26 17.43.15

So, that’s my in-progress photos for the little house.  Give me enough time, and nearly everything on the property will have some form of make-over.  Also, my husband has done ALL of this work himself, including new plumbing and electrical, which you don’t see in the pictures but took many hours.  How awesome is he?

The tale of the reappearing squirrel

It’s been one of those days…

Wait…I take that back.  It’s been two of those days…and nights.

A few days ago, our dogs regaled us with the tale (or perhaps tail) of the reappearing squirrel.  The story went something like this: Dogs catch squirrel.  Dogs kill squirrel.  Dogs start to eat squirrel before squirrel is unfairly taken away from dogs by humans.  Squirrel rots outside the fence for a day or so until dog tunnels under fence and fetches said squirrel.  Squirrel is now somewhat rancid.  Dogs think this is fantastic.  Humans take squirrel again, but not before one of the dogs gets a chance to eat the head.

And…dog has diarrhea.

I’m not going to go into details here, but let me just tell you that two day old squirrel does not do anything good for a puppy’s digestive track.  Not one single thing.  Oh, and puppy with diarrhea has given me a idea of what it must be like to have a newborn.  (The other night, she woke me up every 45 minutes to go outside.)  I’m not sure I could survive motherhood…


Miss Amelia
Miss Amelia – Who, by the way was chasing squirrels again this morning.  She has apparently learned nothing.

Wait…What? An award…? I would like to thank the Academy…


Thank you motherhendiaries for nominating me for a Liebster Award for new bloggers!  I knew the Master’s degree in English would pay off someday!  Wait until I tell my dad!   Actually, kidding aside, it is a really nice gesture that I truly appreciate.  It’s nice to have readers, even if it is only a few of you.

This award is a bit like a chain letter.  Best part is that I get to pass it on and nominate others.  With that in mind, here are a few blogs I read that all of you should check out.

1. Bethany Suckrow – this girl is one of my favorite bloggers to read.  Writing about life and spirituality, Bethany touches upon some very serious issues in a very accessible way.  She and I went to college together and were casually acquainted.  I wish we had known each other better back then.

2. Agirlandherchickens – Ok – Motherhendiaries nominated her too, but that doesn’t mean I can’t also, does it?  Either way, this blog about farm life and chickens is a fun, often informative read.  I really enjoy it.

3. Fullcirclefarm – Writing about and photographing farm life, Full Circle Farm is a lot of fun to follow, especially if you like beautiful photos of cows and chickens and produce.  (I really do…)

4. BeeHavenAcres – The Bee Maven has a lot of followers, but it doesn’t look like she’s broken 1000, so this still counts.  Farm life blog with lovely photos and adventures in turkeys and chickens and everything!

Technically, this is supposed to be an award for blogs with under 1000 followers, but while I’m linking to wonderful blogs, consider checking out this one as well.

 DIYDiva -I LOVE this blog.  It has a strong female, powertools, a place in the country, and farm animals.  And, unlike many of us “farmbloggers” this girl isn’t originally from the country.  It’s fantastic.

So there’s my list.   And below are the questions Motherhen sent me, along with my answers.  Enjoy!

1. Why did you start your blog, and why did you choose this name?

I started my blog for several reasons.  One, having decided that I won’t be teaching after the completion of this semester, I knew that I would soon be missing my creative outlet.  (And when I don’t have one, I get cranky.) Two, I have people ask me all the time “are you writing this down?” when my husband or I tell stories about our lives.  That led me to believe that at least a few people might be interested in our little corner of creation.  Three, so much is going on in my life right now.  It’s insane, but it’s also wonderful.  I’m a little afraid that I will forget some of the special parts.  Now I have a record.

As for the name “almostfarmgirl,” it’s actually the remnant of an argument that my husband and I had maybe a year or two ago.  We were on the way home from a particularly rough day of shoeing.  I had tagged along to help him, but we had encountered horses crazy enough to make me uncomfortable.  The thing is, most of his past relationships involved other equine professionals, and when I couldn’t handle the especially naughty horses (rearing, charging, attempting to run us over, etc), he was frustrated.  As we drove home, he informed me that he considered me an “almost farm girl”; a real farm girl would have had a better handle on the insane horses.

I was livid with him at the time.  The expectations seemed pretty unfair, and I also felt as though the name completely dismissed my 15+ years (now more like 20) with livestock.  (I have spent way too much time getting up early to clean stalls to be an almost anything!) However, after a while, I guess embraced the name (even though he never called me that again and now claims to have no memory of the whole incident).  Honestly, with a background in llamas, I’m used to people thinking I deal with “pretend livestock.”  In a way, I’ve been an almost farm girl most of my life.

(Side note: I almost named this blog “Confessions of an Almost Farm Girl.”  I always figured that if I ever wrote a book about this crazy life of llamas and horses and…insanity, that’s what I would name the book. (Kind of catchy, right?)  I still might write that book one day I guess, but I more and more feel like this insanity is better suited for the anecdotal nature of a blog. Also, “confessions” seems a little dramatic…my biggest confession right now is that I sometimes teach class at one of the top rated universities in the Midwest wearing barn shoes…and sometimes I track llama poop into the classroom.   Also, I realized that Confessions of an Almost Farm Girl loses something in translation when it becomes because the words can also be split up as confessions of anal most farmgirl…which I’m thinking is a different subject matter entirely.  Though, come to think of it, I would probably get more search hits…)

2. What is your idea of the perfect night out?

Wine.  Stars.  Good company.  No mosquitos (or, alternately, enough wine that I don’t care about them).

That covers the basics, but, if you’re asking…and you’re not…my favorite date night event is our annual (or biannual) moonlight cruise on the huge, authentic paddlewheel ship that is docked nearby.

3. What is your favorite article of clothing and why?

So, I have this black tank top from Wal-Mart, and it’s pretty much the best piece of clothing I own.  It looks good from all angles; it fits perfectly, and it doesn’t change size in the wash.  I think it cost $5…

4. If you were a pizza, which one would you be?

Is there one that doesn’t go straight to the hips?  I want to be that one.

5. Name your top 5 all time favorite guilty-pleasure songs.

Can I be honest and admit that I really like the song “Bad Touch” by the Bloodhound Gang?  It’s kind of hilarious.  After that “guilty pleasure” song, trust me when I tell you I don’t need more…

*COUGH* 2. Backstreet’s Back (Backstreet Boys) 3. Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy (Big and Rich). 4. Mama’s Broken Heart (Miranda Lambert…also almost anything by her or the Pistol Annies)  5. Before He Cheats (Carrie Underwood).

6. If you could choose to live on any island, which would it be and why?

I haven’t been to many islands.  I’d name some random tropical one, but hurricane’s freak me out.  Prince Edward Island is too cold…  Can I go with England?  Or is it weird to call that an island?  I was a fan of several of the Greek islands I visited…

This question has generated far more questions than answers…

7. What is the farthest you have travelled? What brought you there?

I’d have to look at a map, but I’m pretty sure the farthest was Athens.  I studied abroad in Europe during my junior year of college.  I made it as far as Greece during a break from classes.

8. Beatles or Stones?

Beatles.  No question.

9. If you could be any breed of chicken, which one would it be? Why?

Gold Laced Cochin – Because if you’re not going to be smart, you had best be pretty.

10. Who do you want to be when you grow up?

Trick question.  I don’t want to grow up.

11. How much wood does a woodchuck actually chuck? (It’s one of the burning issues of our time…I can’t believe no one has ever properly answered it, but go on… have at it!)

Sadly, the woodchuck no longer chucks wood.  We had to shoot him last fall…

(Little bastard wouldn’t stop digging “leg breaking” holes in the horse pasture.)

Ranch life…and chickens in my future!

I’m a little afraid to say it aloud, but I think, maybe, Spring is actually here to stay this time.

Not two days after my “Spring!” post, Central Illinois fell back into another round of winter with temps in the 20s and near an inch of snow.  I got cranky.  While I’m not usually a winter hater, I am fully sick of the cold this year.  When the snow came back–I’m fairly convinced in was actually the same snow as before that just refused to die–I wanted to crawl under my heated blanket and wait there for summer.

But the sun triumphed!  It’s sunny and beautiful today.  Temps should reach mid-sixties.  The ten day forecast is showing 60s and 70s for the foreseeable future.  *Giant sigh of relief*

Things have been progressing, albeit slowly, at the farm.  After my riding drama last week  ( with Cinco ) we decided that we would have to put in an outdoor arena.  L picked a spot for us, and Jeremiah has been busy clearing trees and brush from the area since.  I stopped in and checked on him earlier, and I found him covered in brush and sweat, with a four foot pile of woodchips and a plethora of firewood to show for his effort.  Full construction on the arena will have to wait until we complete financing for the rest of the property, but we do plan to have it in this summer.

With three weeks left in the semester, I’m feeling increasingly anxious to finish grading and teaching and move into ranch life.  Jeremiah has promised to till up my garden patch and spread compost this week.  I probably won’t start really planting until after finals, but it will be good to let it sit a bit.

Looks like we will order our chicks in about two weeks.  I’ve researched chicken breeds for the last few months, and, just when I thought I’d settled on something, I found out that offers sexed rare breed assortments.  Sold.  Since we don’t have to have everyday layers, and we don’t intend to show chickens ever (llama shows…horse shows, maybe…), I think the surprise mix could be a lot of fun.  I can’t wait for my little chickens.  And it will be so exciting to get a mix.  I think Katie–my cousin who will be moving into the guest house (if you don’t regularly follow this blog)–and I will order a dozen rare breed assortment chicks.

To my readers who have chickens, what is your best advice for starting chicks?  What do you wish you had known?

On my last semester of teaching and beginning to pack.

Looks like I will proctor my last final exam three weeks from today. At this point, that day cannot come soon enough.

For the last two years, I’ve taught English 101 at a four year University. For the first year and a half, I really enjoyed it. Last semester, I decided that I couldn’t continue beyond this Spring. Once we move to the ranch, my commute time will nearly triple. Given what adjunct professors are paid (FYI – once we divide our stipend by our hours, it usually ends up just under minimum wage), I really can’t afford to continue to teach. If you factor in time lost from other work (i.e. my real job), I actually lose about three or four times as much as I’m paid.

My decision made me a little sad at first. There is nothing quite like helping someone understand a difficult or unfamiliar concept, especially in that moment that you see the “light bulb” go off. But now? After a semester with some of the worst students I have ever had in class, I can’t wait for all of it to draw to a close. I have had some great moments as a teacher, and I will treasure them, but I think it’s time to open up a new chapter.

And on that note, I started packing this week.

I know, right?

Bedding packed up.  Labeled and everything!
Bedding packed up. Labeled and everything!

I bought this comforter set for our bedroom last winter.  Jeremiah doesn’t like it…so it’s been living in the basement since.  In the new place, I will use it for a spare bed (since we’ll have spare bedrooms!)

Also, I packed up some books and all of my stinky stuff.  (Most of the box below is scented candles.)

Candles and scentsy and all sorts of stinky stuff.
Candles and scentsy and all sorts of stinky stuff.

This time, I hope to pack everything nice and neat.  And by room…

And I definitely want to move my own clothes.  I will never forget last time we moved.  Jeremiah brought his family in to help us.  I was occupied elsewhere for part of the afternoon, and they got to my dresser before I did.  The moment that my husband’s mother carted in my lingerie drawer and handed it to me….

Anyway…one last thought….

Turns out cats are remarkably easy to pack…

This box should be labeled books and Sontar
This box should be labeled books and Sontar

They do it for you!


Why you should always wear a helmet when riding horses…

Cinco.  My super dependable, one time lesson horse, who lost his mind just a little.
Cinco. My super dependable, one time lesson horse, who lost his mind just a little.

You remember when I posted about wanting to go for a trail ride on my super dependable gelding but then deciding not to because I couldn’t find a helmet?

Just so you all know, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made all year.

On Saturday I decided to saddle up and go. I had my helmet. I had my super dependable, well-trained horse…

I mean, I had my helmet.

I really just wanted a simple stroll down the lane. All of my horses have had time off this winter. (Without an improved riding area, like an arena, we really can’t make use of them during the “icy” season…) I didn’t have huge expectations. I had no intention of asking for much.

But Bloody Hell…

Just about from the second I settled into the saddle, Cinco was a different horse. No longer my sweet tempered gelding with training out of his ears, Cinco transformed into a hell beast, destined to be ridden by one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

Bucking, crow hopping, pining his ears, charging down the lane, and generally doing everything in his power to throw me off, Cinco was basically a different animal. A crazily herd bound animal.

He cried for Morana. She cried for him. He tried to charge back to their pasture, fighting me every step of the way. (Two thoughts here: It occurs to me that in horse world, that was probably the equivalent of a very romantic gesture. Also, my 6 year old Warmblood is in love with a 16 year old Arabian cross…If she were a person, I’d say she has major daddy issues.)

I’m not a horse trainer by any means, but I’m a decent rider, and this wasn’t my first rodeo.  (Side note, just realized I’ve been at this horse nonsense for almost twenty years.  Yikes.)  If I have any one particularly strong point, I have a very good natural seat. Cinco was frustrated to realize that he couldn’t throw me. He tried his damnedest. For forty minutes or so, I fought almost every step he tried to make. He couldn’t get his way. (I wasn’t coming off.) I couldn’t get my way. (He wasn’t going to do anything I asked without a fight.) We had reached an impasse.

In the back of my mind, I knew that if I could keep the fight up for another hour or so, he would eventually give in, but I was alone on the ranch, and it was getting dark.  Sometimes, you have to weigh cost against benefits.  I could win…but I could also stand to hurt myself.  I kept going until we reached a begrudged point of agreement…and I dismounted.

Here’s what Cinco doesn’t know yet:  One, I’m going to call in one of our trainer friends.  (Trainers are like owners but with Mafia connections.  Ask any horse.)  Two: He’s going to be moving away from Morana as soon as we have a few stalls set up.  From here on, my horse herds are going to rotate.  He and Morana are about to have a long distance relationship….

Things really would have been much easier for him if he had walked down the freaking lane…


Oh – Moral of the story: Always wear a helmet.

Side note:  Soon as we got back in the pasture, he wanted loving and attention…and maybe apples.  I love him dearly, but just then?  No way Jose…


Friday started with Jeremiah and I filing our taxes, then going to get ice cream (you know, to drown our sorrows…)

We made it out to the ranch later, after I took a nap (because sometimes you just need to hit reset on the day).

Days like Friday make every miserable, sub-zero winter day hauling water and hay in carharts totally worth it.  I mean, not to go all country western song on ya’ll, but we’re talking sunny and seventy-five.

Jeremiah decided that he wanted to build our new property sign.  With wood that had been discarded in the hay barn (long before it became our horse barn) and a post hole digger that he bought off of craigslist several years ago (from someone who bought it to prospect for gold in his backyard in central Illinois…not even kidding), he and I drove to the property’s front entrance.

Post hole digger...
Post hole digger…

I helped with the post holes, all the while thinking of advice my grandmother had given me when she realized I was marrying a farm boy: “Don’t do anything on the farm once that you don’t want to do for the rest of your life.”  (She had married a farmer herself; that gem of advice had come from my grandfather’s aunt.)  When I mentioned the advice to Jeremiah, he agreed that she was probably right, and then he reminded me that we would need to dig hundreds of post holes across the property over the next few years.  I’m sunk.

Anyway, after that I wandered off and let him get to building his sign.  I had a wild hare to pull one of the horses out of the pasture and go for a trail ride.

Meet Cinco.


Cinco is a 15…maybe 16… year old Missouri Foxtrotter, Arabian Cross.  He spent years as a lesson horse, is trained to do about anything I could ever think to ask of him, and is my go-to when I have an idea to do something like, I don’t know, ride one of my horses on a trail after they’ve had months off.  He came to us last October from a friend of my husband’s.  I honestly could not ask for a sweeter, better horse than Cinco.  I would have a pasture full of him if I could.

However, even with a horse as wonderful as Cinco, I will not ride any of my horses out of the pasture without a helmet.  And yesterday, I couldn’t find one.  (Brief PSA: Riding without a helmet is a stupid way to get dead.  Horses are sentient creatures with a mind of their own, even on the most dependable horse, unexpected things happen.  End PSA.)

I looked in the horse barn.  I looked in the tack room three times.  I looked in my husband’s truck while he was building his sign.  I even walked down to the guest house and looked in there…

Turns out, it was at my house across the river in the living room…where it’s useful.

Anyway, no ride on Friday.  Instead I settled on grabbing a halter and taking him for a walk.  We went up the lane, back down the lane, and then up the lane and back again and again until he decided to stop yelling at his girlfriend.  (My mare, Morana.  The two are ridiculously herd bound at this point.  More on that later.)

We checked on the status of the sign a few times (it was coming along nicely).  Then, he was good and calm, I let him stand by the fence and graze a bit.

Being away from Morana isn't as bad when there is grass involved...
Being away from Morana isn’t as bad when there is grass involved…

When I put Cinco back, Morana looked like she had just been through an endurance ride.  She had apparently been running the fence line the entire time he had been gone.

Also, Jeremiah had finished building his sign.

A little like Washington Crossing the Delaware, except with a sign.
A little like Washington Crossing the Delaware, except with a sign.

Someone will eventually paint the words “Eagle Ridge” across this.  I also want to add a few grazing horses and llamas (or maybe alpacas) to the bottom.  Of course, since my primary skill with paint involves a solid color and baseboards…maybe we will have to call someone else out.






What a difference 6 weeks can make…

If I’m being completely honest, I have no idea when we will actually manage to move out to the farm 100%.  I do know that Jeremiah said “two weeks” about a week ago, but then he spent nearly a week at his conference, and four days out of the next seven are chock full of shoeing.  I also know that there is still no water to the guest house, and the bathroom isn’t finished even if there were.  I’m beginning to have suspicions that we will finish things up just in time for Katie to move in and for us to start this all over again with the big house.  But who knows for sure.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the four years that Jeremiah and I have been together?  Don’t bet against him.  Not ever.  Somehow he almost always manages to accomplish more in a day than most can do in seven.  He may surprise me yet.

Jeremiah and Minnett.  Jeremiah and I had only just started dating; this is just after I explained that if he wanted me to pick between him and the llama, I was going to choose the llama.
Jeremiah and Minnett at the Ranch. Jeremiah and I had only just started dating; this is just after I explained that if he wanted me to pick between him and the llama, I was going to choose the llama.

In the meantime, I’ve been alternately stressed about moving and excited about this new chapter for us.  (By the way, I packed one box while my guy was gone.  One.  Box.)  I specifically remember a day when I was younger (probably 15), wandering up the drive to the llama barn and thinking that I would really like to own a place just like that one day.  Of course, I mostly dismissed the idea, unable to come up with a future where I’d be able to afford such an amazing place anytime before my retirement.  Now that’s it’s happening, I keep waiting for someone to pinch me awake.

Even so, if you’re no familiar with running a ranch or renovating a house (in our case two), you should know this: the work is infinite.  You can always find something that needs to be done or purchased, and the size of the “To-Do” list is longer than the “Done” list, no matter how many things you check off.  And, of course, this is on top of everything that needs to be done everyday.  (Clean water buckets, feed animals, clean stalls, sweep barn…sleep, eat, work, etc)

And, on top of both of these lists, you can add mine.  I have plans to add chickens to the menagerie (laying hens…in my world, broilers would invariably become useless pets…at least the laying variety will be useful pets).  I plan to have a big, giant vegetable garden.  I plan to add a strawberry patch.  (Side Note: There is LITERALLY nothing on the planet that tastes as good as a homegrown strawberry.  If you don’t have the privilege of growing some yourself, do yourself a favor and buy some from a local farmers’ market.  Trust me. Your taste buds will thank you.)  I have been getting super excited about composting.  I have no idea why.

I keep wondering what it would look like to flash forward about 6 weeks into the future.  By then, we should be living on the ranch.  I will be done teaching. (Huzzah!)  The chicks I plan to order at the end of this month should be in, still little fluffs living in the garage.  The garden will be tilled, possibly sown.  And my sweet, dear husband should be losing his mind over a whole new house full of renovations to start.

What a difference six weeks can make…