I miss sleep…and other updates from around the farm.

Ever have so much on your plate that even sleep seems to get bumped out of the way?  Not on purpose, mind you, just as an effect of your brain’s constant motion.  For me, sleep has been tenuous for about 2 weeks,.

Maybe it’s the stress of everything–the move, living away from the ranch, buying Jeremiah’s new shoeing trailer (hopefully next week), renovations, caring for all the animals, work…believe it or not the list continues–but sleep has not been my friend of late.

Yesterday, I came home from morning chores and crashed for nearly two hours.  Naps are one of those things that seem like they should help…but then actual sleep time comes around and you’re like, “Eh, I’m good.  I took a nap.”  Then you’re tired the next day, and come midafternoon you probably really feel like taking a nap again.  (Don’t do it.  It’s a trap.)

Usually my solution to temperamental sleep is to make myself busier, but I’m not sure that’s possible at the moment.

For those of you interested in updates, the new floor was put into the master bedroom about a week and a half ago.  That is a huge sigh of relief for me, as it indicates that one room is basically done.  (Hint: If you’re renovating the entire house, like we are, you need at least one room that doesn’t remind you of all the work yet to be done.)

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The old, leaking window in the living room was removed and replaced.  It was super weird to see the giant hole in the house while the contractors worked.  The good news?  Turns out, while the leaking did rot out the floor, and some of the sub-floor, the studs were in perfect shape.  (Meaning we did not have to cut a giant hole in the living room down to the basement.)  The bad news?  According to the contractor, we definitely need to replace the roof ASAP.  That is now on the top of the list of Spring projects.  Luckily, our contractor is awesome and the price is pretty reasonable.

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No window!
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New Window!

We’re also hoping to wrap up the dining room soon.  Two days ago, I worked on pulling up the floor with a claw hammer.  The floor that’s currently installed was popping up in a lot of places, some tiles were water damaged, and there wasn’t any flooring in the center of the room (where an area rug used to go).  We will be putting in bamboo, the same floor we put in the bedroom.  I got about halfway through before I had an ADD moment and started another project.  Jeremiah finished before I came back to it.

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And, on the ranch:

Remember how I wasn’t going to have any roosters but then ended up with one?  Make that two.

Once "Henny Penny," now "Frack."
Once “Henny Penny,” now “Frack.”

Turns out my pullet, “Henny Penny,” wasn’t so Henny.  His name is now “Frack” to match the other rooster “Frick.”  Frick is pretty cool; Frack is kind of a jerk.  All I’m saying is he better shape up; Jeremiah has nearly ended him at least once…

Also, awesome news, I’m riding Cinco!  I’ve been having a trainer come and work with us once a week for a about a month now, and I’m fairly thrilled.  (Of course, yesterday he was pretty much a turd, but we won’t talk about yesterday.)  Now, after all these years of wishing I could keep my horse at home, I’m considering boarding him over the winter at the trainer’s.  Somewhat ironic, I know, but I really would like to be able to keep working with him over the winter, and without an improved riding area at my place, it won’t happen unless I move him.


We’ve done a lot of work together this summer; I would hate to have to start over in the Spring…

Finally, just because it’s cool…

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Albino Clover!  Isn’t it pretty?  I saw it on the way to the horse barn yesterday and had to take a photo…
By the way, my next post will be by a guest blogger.  I will be taking over her blog for a day as well.  Stay tuned.


Slow progress…and my messy life.

When I was a toddler, I was notorious for making messes.  I was the baby whose highchair sat on a plastic drop cloth.  On spaghetti night (my favorite!) I ate dinner in little more than a diaper, and I was taken straight from the highchair to the tub.  I would have spaghetti in places my parents wouldn’t have thought possible, including in my hair.

Since then, things have gotten better, but, if I’m being completely honest, I never grew out of the mess making.  I rarely eat without dropping food on myself.  I can’t cook without creating chaos in the kitchen.  I am positively incapable of doing barn chores without turning myself into an absolute hot mess (and “hot” is probably wildly inaccurate).

So you guys can maybe imagine how painting turns out for me.

Two days ago at a restaurant:
“You have a mark on your face…?”
“Oh…I know.”

Yesterday at work:
“So what color are you painting your cabinets?”
*I search over my arms for a second, find a relatively large swath of paint, and point.*
“That color.”

So far, I have sacrificed two shirts, a pair of shorts, and a pair of jeans to the painting gods.  I have found paint in my hair, but only once so far.  I have also gotten paint on the floor, the countertops, a mirror, and the walls.  (As well as on various limbs I  can’t seem to scrub hard enough.)

But…so far…I am digging the new cabinet color.  When I finish, which is a while off with my schedule, I will show all of you, but in the meantime, if I happen to cross your mind and you wonder what I’m up to, there’s a really good chance it’s painting…

A week at the ranch.

It’s been an eventful week at the ranch. Despite not living there, we’ve been busy!

For example, I pulled in yesterday morning and found this.  He started with power washing and proceeded to paint by the end of the day.

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Not sure if you can really tell, but by evening most of the front of the house was done.

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Fall has officially made it’s way to Central Illinois.  The weather yesterday was perfect: sunny, no hotter than 70 with a beautiful breeze.  We’re doubling down on outdoor efforts.  Lady Fall is enticing and beautiful, but she’s followed quickly by Old Man Winter, and, according to the Farmer’s Almanac, he’s going to be a doozy.  It won’t be terribly long before we get weathered out of the outdoor work, and neither of us want a half painted house all winter.

We also bought the most perfect dining room table last week.  Jeremiah and I found it in an antique store a few towns away. (In addition to all of his other wonderful qualities, Jeremiah actually enjoys going to antique stores on occasion.  I’m a very lucky girl…)  It’s a farmhouse table, new construction, but made out of 100+ year old barn wood.  I’m a little bit smitten with it.

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Jeremiah and his little brother bringing it in. Apparently it’s absurdly heavy.
The table, moved into our dining room.
The table, moved into our dining room. (The middle piece of wood you see is actually a table runner made of a 200+ year old barnwood beam.)

One of our friendly neighborhood hummers got caught in our mudroom while it was opened up to dry.  Jeremiah eventually got it to go outside.  The little bird was not overly grateful.  (If you’re not familiar with hummers, they are very cheeky little things.  We love them anyway.)

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This one may gross some of you out, but I think it’s funny.

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The chickens have been thoroughly enjoying their free range time, and a few of them discovered the manure pit.  I know the phrase is usually “happier than a pig in poop,” but as I understand it, pigs actually prefer to be clean.  The chickens, however?  They think it’s pretty great.

Also, see below for the inherent hazard of letting your chickens free range:

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They are pretty darn thrilled with their discovery of the hay stall.  It has excellent dust for dust baths, AND there’s a nifty, secluded corner to build a nest.  Now I have to check for eggs there every time I let them out.  But c’mon, how cute is the little nest with the colored eggs?

And finally, we took out Vinny’s stiches yesterday.  I expected a total freak out, as Jeremiah wanted to try it without sedation first, but we were pleasantly surprised when Vin stood like a champ.  He’s come so far since he came home with us!  This horse used to run away like a maniac anytime we came in the pasture, and now, this.

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He stood and chomped down grain the whole time.  God love him.

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All done!  He’ll probably always have a scar, but this one ended up way better than it might have.  It healed up very well.  Thank God for great vets and good horses.

Over the next few days, we’re hoping to move back in.  (We’re both losing patience with the constant driving back and forth.)  The house is vented with airmovers exchanging air in the basement 10 times per house.  The vents were cleaned earlier this week…  Hopefully, that will be enough to make the place livable again.  Fingers crossed.  If not, the movers are hopefully coming at the end of the month to clear out the basement, and then we will be free and clear to get the mothballs and the mold professionally mitigated.

The one where we moved in and then moved back out again…in less than a week.

I spent the morning riding a 17.3hh Friesian Sport horse.  It was a nice change of pace to do something purely for the enjoyment of it, not because it had to be done.  My lesson went exceedingly well, and I left feeling positively gleeful.  That was also a nice change.

The past few days have involved a lot of…erm…poo…hitting a really big fan…metaphorically speaking.  (Probably literally as well, but that’s just life in a barn that runs fans.  We don’t like to think about it too much.)

August 22nd marked the first night actually sleeping at the ranch.  (If you’ve been wondering why I haven’t been posting so much, that’s why.)  Over the past week, we have been nearly frantic with packing, then unpacking, painting and cleaning, and, of course, all of the things that we have to do every day to keep the animals happy and the farm running.  Our moving day began with a massive thunderstorm, then progressed into one of the hottest, most humid days of the summer.

And that was the good part.

After moving to the ranch, Jeremiah and I started to get ill.  First, I blamed my allergies.   My eyes were itchy.  I was sneezy.  (Incidentally, “Sneezy” is one of Jeremiah’s nicknames for me; I call him Grumpy in return.)  I had a vaguely sore throat.  Jeremiah had a headache.

Allergies, right?

But then it got worse.  I was fatigued.  I had stabbing pains in my abdomen.  My eyes went from itchy to burning (as in, I couldn’t even wear my contacts).  My sore throat became almost unbearable.  Jeremiah’s headache progressed from mild to near-migraine.  We both started having respiratory problems.

Turns out, the house has some issues.  We discovered the first issue when Jeremiah went downstairs to light a pilot light in the water heater.  To get to it, he had to make his way through one of the rooms with the previous owners’ belongings.  When he did, he discovered that the downstairs bedrooms have some serious mold going on.  That would explain my increased allergies.

The next day, when his mother came over and commented on the moth ball smell in the house, Jeremiah explained that moth balls are all over the place in the house, and that we had been removing them as we cleaned upstairs.  However, there are tons of them in the basement as well; we can’t remove them until the previous owners’ belongings move out.

She started thinking.

About an hour later she sent the two of us a text explaining the effects of moth ball poisoning.  Actually, it’s naphthalene poisoning, but you get naphthalene poisoning from moth balls, so moth ball poisoning.  Turns out, our symptoms read like a checklist of the early effects of exposure to naphthalene.

Did you know that moth balls are incredibly toxic?  Yeah…me either.

They can make you very sick if you breathe the vapor they produce as they break down.  They are also highly carcinogenic.  They can burn your retinas.  They can cause cataracts.  Turns out, they can even put you in a coma (but I’m pretty sure you would have to stir them up in your tea for that to happen).  Either way, nasty stuff.  If you have kids or pets, you probably shouldn’t have moth balls, and if you choose to use them, make sure that they are in a sealed container, like a garment or blanket bag.

But I digress…

Once my mama-in-law sent over that information, we started packing up (again).  Let me tell you, repacking household items only days after you had unpacked them is depressing.  I have no words really.  The first thing we did was load our pups into the car and take them to my mom’s place.  Tomorrow, I will bring them back to the Heights house, as we are temporarily set up again over there, but for the last day and a half they have been having a sleep over.  After that, we packed up the necessities and high tailed it back to the other house.

There is a plan in action to clean up the mold and the moth balls, so this is far from permanent, but for the time being, we’re back to managing the ranch from across the river.

This sort of thing is often referred to as a bump in the road.  Over the past few days, our road has gotten pretty darn bumpy.

The good news?  (And there is A LOT of good here.)

First, we figured this out RIGHT AWAY.  Long term exposure to either the mold or the moth balls can cause pretty nasty damage, so it is a huge blessing that we figured those things out when we did.  Props to Jeremiah’s mama for putting two and two together.  (Also, in case you were wondering, we’re both way better now; it took about 12 hours of being moved out of the house for pretty much all of our symptoms to go away.)

Second, we weren’t fully packed up, and a lot of what we unpacked can stay until this is remedied.

Third, we hadn’t moved any of the small critters.  The cats and hedgehogs were still in the Heights.  The moth balls could have caused serious problems for our hedgies delicate respiratory systems, so it’s fantastic that they won’t move in until this is cleared up.

The cats last night.  I think they were pretty happy to have us home.
The cats last night. I think they were pretty happy to have us home.

Fourth, even though it made us sick, living at the ranch gave us a bunch of time to get stuff done.  Half of the upstairs is newly painted.  The exterior of the house is about a quarter painted.  We got a bunch of cleaning done.

The house before Jeremiah started his work on it.
The house before Jeremiah started his work on it.
Slightly different angle on the same part of the house yesterday.
Slightly different angle on the same part of the house yesterday.

Finally, we both got a good taste of what it is like to wake up and be able to meander up to the barn to take care of the animals.  No drive.   No rush.  Bliss.  Even with all that has happened, I cannot wait for the day we can do that every morning.  I just have to get past a few bumps in the road first.

(SNEAK PEAK: Our fourth wedding anniversary is coming up in a few days.  I cannot wait to introduce you to…ummm…I mean show you…my present.  Stay tuned.)


The Seven Emotional Stages of Painting

The end is drawing nigh.  And by the end I think I mean the beginning, or possibly the middle.

(Is it apparent yet that I almost never have any real idea what I’m talking about?)

For the past week or so, we’ve been cleaning and painting in preparation for actually moving into the farm.  Now, we don’t have the whole house yet, as the previous occupants are storing some of their belongings at the ranch until they can have them moved (their new home is still under construction), but we do have most of the upstairs at our disposal, and, given that just the upstairs of the new house is more than twice the size of my present home, I think we can manage.

My goals before moving are as follows:
1. Finished Bedroom.
2. Clean and Functional Kitchen.
3. Clean and Functional Bathroom.
4. Clean Sunroom.

I have attempted a cursory cleaning of the whole upstairs, but the living room, for example, won’t really be cleanable until the window is replaced.  (We’re thinking the contractor will be getting back with us today on that…)  Plus, at the moment, it’s where we’re putting all of the other furniture as we clean other rooms.

Anyway, about a week or so ago, I undertook the project of painting our new master bedroom.  It’s 300+ square feet all on its own, so it was no small task.  If I’m being honest, I’ve had the primary paint color for over a month.  It’s just one of those projects that I really didn’t even want to start.

The master bedroom before.
The master bedroom before.
Lots of natural light
Lots of natural light
Down the hall out of the bedroom.
Down the hall out of the bedroom.

The above pictures were taken several months ago.  I think it goes without saying that there is a ton of potential in the room.  For one, it’s huge!  There is a ton of natural light.  It takes up the entire end of the house.  It also needed a lot of updating.  The carpet, original to the house I think, had to go.  The previous occupants left the furniture you see in the photo for us to keep if we wished.  The walls, white throughout the house except where there is wallpaper, needed an update.

So, last week, I started updating it.

I should tell you, once upon a time, I enjoyed painting.  My experience thereof was mostly a room here and there in my parents’ house or a room or two helping out a friend.  Then, Jeremiah and I bought our first home.  It’s only 800 or so square feet, but we basically painted every single room.  That was only three and a half years ago.

I don’t like painting so much anymore…  But over the last few weeks, I’ve realized that painting is an emotional process, as well as a physical one.  It’s almost cyclical, really.  Somewhere between the first coat of “Beach” on that first wall and the last coat of high gloss white on the crown molding, I’ve come to realize that there are definite stages of painting.

The Stages of Painting

Stage One: Optimism (AKA – Wall Number One)

I started on this wall...
I started on this wall…

During Stage One of painting, everything is coming up sunshine and roses.  It is during that stage that you congratulate yourself.  Paint that had been in a pail is going on the wall.  It’s a step in the right direction.  You are doing it!  You’re awesome.  Go you!  Not only are you being productive, but you have excellent taste.  Not just anyone can pick a good paint color.  (We’ve all been to those houses where someone else’s “sunny yellow” looks more like “dehydrated urine”…you know what I’m talking about.)  But you?  You picked “Beach” grey from a myriad of other greys.  And “Beach” grey, it appears, is probably the best grey in the history of ever.

Stage Two: Boredom

Stage Two moves past the initial self-congratulatory stage and into tedium.  You’re bored.  Also, you’re pretty sure gnomes have come in the night and have slapped white paint up where you had painted grey.  Beach grey, to be exact.  Though, now that you’re looking at it, you’re not sure it’s quite so “beachy.”  How do they come up with those names, anyway?  And seriously with the gnomes…you are sure you had more done.  And what was wrong with white, anyway?  Other than the vaguely clinical feel it had…you can totally deal with institutional white for the rest of your life, right?  Right?

Stage Three: Reinforcements

This is the one where every girl on the planet (or maybe just me) starts to consider calling in the cavalry…


And he comes over, and he slaps a second coat of paint up way faster than should have been humanly possible.  As you look around, you briefly revert to Stage One.  Wow – look at that; two whole coats!  Looks pretty good if you do say so yourself.  Totally Beachy!  You are a master of paint choosing!  And it wasn’t THAT bad.

You are practically done.  Except for that bump out wall, and all the trim, and the baseboards, and the crown molding.

You start to look around at all the detail work, and the optimism vanishes again.

Stage Four: Doubt

You may never finish this.  Between the detail work and the gnomes, this will probably never get done.  It is with a sigh that you choose your second color.  Your “accent” color.  You pick something with a coffee name.  MMMMM…coffee.  You totally need coffee. Coffee would probably make everything better.

You briefly wonder if you picked the color solely because you’re tired and need coffee.  It doesn’t really matter though, because you will NEVER, EVER finish.

For some reason, I decided this needed to be a different color.
For some reason, I decided this needed to be a different color.
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The ceiling fan changed. That is one of the things the boy was working on while I painted.

Stage Five: Insanity

The coffee color looks pretty darn great.  You realize that it would look fantastic on the baseboards!  And the trim!  And who cares if it’s a super dark color with no room for error?  You’ve totally got this!

Stage five doesn’t last very long.  You move almost immediately into stage six.  Regret.

Stage Six: Regret (AKA Trimming and Weeping)

During this stage, you get to be exceedingly good with tape, but not quite good enough.  You paint the baseboards and trim with two coats of an absurdly dark color (what were you thinking?) and then manically correct tiny imperfections with a craft brush roughly the size of your pinkie nail.  Why?  Well, because the crappy paint lines in your current bedroom have been bugging you for almost three years.  And you won’t have it again!  (This stage mimics insanity quite nicely…)

Stage Six: Rage!

Note the newly painted baseboards.
Note the newly painted baseboards.

The trim is nearly finished.  Then the unthinkable happens.  All is takes is one poorly applied piece of tape above the window frame.  That line is crap, and you flip your lid over a paint line that follows a poorly applied piece of tape (the one and only piece of tape stuck down by your poor, unfortunate husband).  It’s on the last freaking piece of trim before the crown molding!  You are very lucky that no one else is there because at this point you would probably be institutionalized.  You are especially lucky that your husband is no where to be found, because the rage that is burning within your soul is completely unreasonable.  You need a moment to quell it…and to fix that freaking paint line.

You call it a day because painting is no reason to turn into the Hulk.

Stage Seven: Acceptance and Relief

You are now a pro.  The tape below the crown molding is almost perfect, and it has been applied as one consecutive piece.  You slap it up in minutes.  And even your husband, who you are no longer unreasonably furious with (luckily that passed quickly and internally) is impressed.  Two coats of high gloss white go up without much issue.  And, amazingly, you are done.

Seriously.  You are done.  It is finished.  You thought this moment would never come, especially with the gnomes.  But it’s here.

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And it is magnificent.

But, if you’re honest, you feel very little satisfaction.  Just relief.  You are so relieved that you don’t even mind that you got white paint on your favorite Doctor Who t-shirt.

One room down, all of the rest to go…


It’s official (almost…)

These days, whenever anyone asks me how I’m doing, my answer is “exhausted.”  It’s a good exhausted, the kind that comes with long days, late dinners, and working on something from roughly the time you get up until the time you finally sit down on the couch with a DVR’d sitcom for thirty minutes before you go to bed.  The owners of the farm took off on Wednesday night, leaving us with the animals, the farm, and (most of) the house (they will be moving their remaining belongings out over the course of the summer).  We will be renting the place over the summer and buying it as soon as our current place sells.

I officially walked through the house with Jeremiah on Thursday.  There is plenty of work to be done; a new window in the living room tops the list.

The window in the living room that needs to be replaced.  It's been leaking and there's water damage to the wall below it.
The window in the living room that needs to be replaced. It’s been leaking and there’s water damage to the wall below it.

There are also several rooms that need new flooring, a bathroom slated for a remodel, and a kitchen that could use updates.  Most of that, however, will have to wait until we sell our current house.  Equity should pay for some of the items on the list.

Until then, we’re working through a list of items that mostly require “sweat equity,” as well as all of those things that need to get done regularly on a ranch.  Yesterday was a 12 hour day on the ranch that started with shearing and continued without many stops until we left for the evening. My pet projects are the two rooms inside the barn (tack room and feed room).    I have been working on cleaning out the tack room (formerly office/classroom) for three days now, and I’m excited to say that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Of course, that light is to be followed immediately by painting …which is about as much fun as cleaning.  But, with this project, I can see the end result of a highly functional tack room with a cozy little corner for the barn kitties in my mind already.  That makes it easier.

And today?  Today my guy took off early this morning to take care of the critters so that I could finally take some time to update this thing.  He’s probably well into some of his projects already, and I’m still sitting in pajamas.  (God Bless that Man.)  I will head out there in a bit and get back to it, taking some time first to swing by my parents house and drop off my dogs.  (They have been spending a lot of time there lately.  I don’t have a fence for them at the new place yet, and I hate to leave them for long stretches in their kennels, so they go to the “grandparents’ house” where they are spoiled rotten.)  Then, I’ll be back at it.

For now, check out the friend I made yesterday!

Lunar Moth.  He's my friend.  I decided.
Lunar Moth. He’s my friend. I decided.

I love that ranch.






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!




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 mypetchicken.com 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!



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.