Tuesday, November 17, 2015

November - Another Busy Month, and We Still Have Almost Two Weeks!

I knew November was going to be a busy one this year.  Lots of travel on the work front and lots  of projects on the farm front.  Throw in a couple of plays and a visit with my granddaughter, and, well, November is flying by!

We decided we needed MORE storage for the farm equipment, shelters for hay and straw and piles of mulch etc.  We had some space that had challenged us at every turn as we tried to grow something, anything.... corn, sunflowers, apple trees, apricot trees, raspberries, blackberries... you name it, it grew at a snail's pace and produced poorly.  Joe always contended that this area of the property had once been a road, and I think he might be right.  At any rate, it provided the perfect location for our new structure.... 18' X 73' long... with roads up to it and along side it between it and the woods.  However, before installation could occur, some "minor" work had to be done to create the pads and the roads.  120 tons of road dirt later, Joe is ready to start spreading gravel and crush-n-run.  Weather permitting, the buildings will be erected on Friday (EEK).

Meanwhile, with winter fast approaching, wood had to be reclaimed from fallen and felled trees.  And Joe built a new wood shed near the front of the house so he won't have to track through the cold and mush to get wood every day, once we put the wood stoves into action this season.

And I have been traveling to northern VA, to Salt Lake City Utah, and am now working in Fairfax, VA, getting ready to head to Huntsville, AL tomorrow night.

Still, despite the work schedule, I was able to make the drive to Smithfield, VA to see my son perform the role of Sir Galahad, in Spamalot. It was a little different seeing Steve with long curly hair, but "anything for the show!" Steve is the one with the red cross on the front of his tunic. Lots of fun.


I was also able to spend some time in Rochelle, VA visiting my favorite daughter Jenn, her family and my nephew, Andrew, who lives and works there now. Luca, who will turn a year old next week,  is walking now, and basically loves anything he can put in his mouth.  He also is very fond of climbing up and down stairs.... He adores his sister, who can make a game out of anything.  She was modeling packing materials while I was there.  Luca will stop everything to enjoy playing guitar with Mama!

I spent the night in Rochelle, VA and then brought the lovely Miss Eloise back to the farm for a four day visit, which included taking her to see the local community theatre's production of, "Mary Poppins."  The Court House Players, gave a wonderful performance, and Eloise thoroughly enjoyed the play, even though she fell asleep about halfway through Act 1 and slept right through the intermission.  She awakened when the orchestra started up the music for Act 2.  She has no idea she even fell asleep. :)

Naturally, she had a blast at the farm, as she always does.  That child simply loves the animals, and loves feeding them.  If she were here every day, I do believe we'd have some rather robust critters!

We've had a couple of cold snaps, but they have not been enough to spark up the wood stoves yet.  Still the gardens are essentially done for the season. I did pick the last of the bell peppers on Saturday, and the figs, late to produce, will not mature all of their fruit, but the wild flowers are still blooming as if they believe they can bloom right through to next Spring!

All in all, I have to say, November, if we survive it, will have been a fun, busy month.  We plan to don our kerchief and cap and head into our LONG WINTER NAP, come December.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Good-bye 2014

2014 seems to have flown by.  We've had our shares of sad farewells, and wonderful new beginnings.  When I look at the calendar, I am amazed we are already heading into the new year and I wonder where the time has gone.

We lost Joe's mom in May. It was sad news, though we were thankful she was able to live on her own terms, for more than eight and a half decades. We were happy that she and Joe's sister were able to make the trip from CA to VA to visit us in 2012.  She will be missed.  I don't think I will ever again sing Danny Boy without thinking of her.  She loved to sing with us when we played and sang, and Danny Boy was one of her regular requests.

The happy, exciting news this year included two weddings and the births of two new babies into our family.  July brought the family together to celebrate the wedding of my youngest brother, Mike to Ilka.  It was a simple, sweet, backyard affair.  Ilka's daughter performed the ceremony, which was especially touching.

In August we celebrated Dad's 80th birthday, disguising it as a baby shower for the two expectant mothers.  Dad and the two mothers-to-be were good sports for the surprise shindig and everyone had a good time.

My niece and her husband brought the delightfully sweet Miss Anita Jo into the world just in time to pose with with pumpkins.  Anita seems to have a very easy-going nature, and I have yet to hear her cry! 

Seven weeks later, my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter welcomed the second child and first son Luca Jean into their family.  He is a sturdy little guy and is the apple of big sister Eloise's eye.  My daughter, Jenn, gave birth to Luca at home, with the capable assistance of her midwife and doula.  I was present and got to meet Luca within 30 seconds of his birth.  It was quite awesome.  Within an hour of his birth, Eloise was up in the bed with Mama and Luca, and was singing to her little brother... her first songs were Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and Rain, Rain, Go Away.  And then she snuggled with Luca.... I loved the photo where Luca appears to literally be objecting to having his face squished!

I spent the next week with the family, helping Jenn, Eloise and Luca, while Ben worked on completing the building of Jenn's new studio on their property, and completing the massive job of moving everything from the rented studio to the new studio.  We all celebrated Thanksgiving, four days after Luca's birth.  It was a very good week!

As three ring circuses generally have more than just two shows going on, so did our final quarter of 2014.  My niece Jillian married the love of her life in December and most of the family was able to make the journey to New Jersey to celebrate this new beginning with them.  As always, it was fabulous seeing relatives we don't get to see very often.  A great time was had by all.

With all of this excitement happening, it's sometimes amazing that we managed to work full-time and continue to grow the farm.  We continued the rehab of the old farmhouse, remodeling the screened front porch turning it into more of a sunroom which doubles as a greenhouse in the winter.

Our summer projects included building new front decks onto the house and onto my eBay trailer.... yes, I still manage to continue my 12 year eBay selling venture.

We built more chicken yards, trying to keep up with our ever growing chicken population.  Our hens successfully hatched 12 new chicks this summer, and the first of the those chicks has just started laying eggs.

This fall, just ahead of the major leaf fall, Joe managed to finally complete (most of) the trenches, closing them in and completing the gravel roadways around the property.  It seems odd, somehow, to no longer have to jump over trenches when walking out to feed the animals! 

And, as we close on the last hours of 2014, Joe is wrapping up the pantry shelving.... yep, a full year  living in the house and we will finally have our pantry!

Did we complete everything we had planned for 2014?  Well, no, but .... there's always 2015! We always have plenty on the to-do list, that's for sure!

And now, just some cute shots of the lovely Miss Eloise ... hard to believe she just turned 3 years old!

Happy New Year!!!