Thursday, November 10, 2011

From St. Louis, MO

I'm sitting here in my hotel room in St. Louis, MO and realizing that it is already November.  Well, of course, I realized it was November when the month began, but it is finally sinking in on me that we are just about to face winter again (UGH).  Ours has been a busy Fall just as was our Summer and Spring.  It does NOT look as if we will be in the renovated farm house before the end of the year, but I'm not terribly surprised by that.
Judy Baking Cake for Joe
to eat while I'm in St. Louis
And so we face another winter (our second) in the garage apartment.  I'm good with that.  To be honest, while Joe was originally certain we'd be in the old farmhouse by the end of the summer, I always figured we'd be three years getting the place renovated before being able to move in.  February 2, 2012 we will have owned the property for two years, so we shall see who was closest in original predictions.

Meanwhile, the three ring circus continues to deliver excitement and amazement.

I was required to take a class this summer.... two nighst a week for eight weeks... missing the very best time of the summer evenings, stuck inside, participating in a class that would, hopefully, help me pass the certification exam I was required to take.  I had quite an attitude about even taking the exam, much less the class.  I figured I'd already paid that price when I was "encouraged" to earn my Master's degree more than ten years ago.  Even though I was, at the time, working full time and raising teenaged kids, I complied and earned my degree.  Now I was being told the degree wasn't enough...I had to become "certified"....  So, grudgingly, I attended the classes; grudgingly, I studied, and grudgingly, I accepted the fact that an overwhelming percentage of those who sit for this exam do not pass it the first time.  I resigned myself to the fact that I would be plunking down ANOTHER $600 to take the exam a second time, even before I  sat for it the first time.

September 24, 2011, a perfectly good Saturday, was wasted with a very early morning drive 60 miles to Richmond, VA to sit for the 6 hour exam.  I chatted with some of the others also sitting for the exam and they'd all been there before... the woman sitting next to me told me the best advice she could give me was to start studying again when I got home from taking the every day, because I'd be that much farther ahead when I got the results telling me that I had NOT passed... Great, I thought, more studying, YAY (NOT).  I took almost three hours to take the exam.  I did not stress over it.  I knew I would not pass it, but wanted to shake that test anxiety...the second time would be the charm, I figured.

When I arrived back at the farm, Joe asked how I thought I'd done.  "I failed, I'm sure, but that's OK. I'm glad I took it."  He was the first in a long line of folks to tell me they were SURE I'd passed.  How, I wondered, could they possibly be so certain about such a thing?  They'd never sat for that exam...they had no idea of the level of difficulty and they certainly are not familiar with my aging brain that seems less and less capable of retaining new and "interesting" facts.  But they assured me I would pass.  Never mind, the results would be in within 6 weeks and they'd all see I had NOT been being modest.

About four weeks later, on a Friday afternoon, I got the email.  UGH, I thought as I clicked to read the bad news.  I could not have been more surprised when I read the words, "...are pleased to inform you you successfully PASSED the CISSP exam."  I am NOT kidding when I say that I was SO excited.... like a kid.... I ran down the stairs as fast as I could, out to the side yard of the farm house where Joe and the carpenter were installing gutter guards... "I PASSED!!!" To which Joe replied, "I knew you would..."  LOL
Joe installing gutter guards

Of course, the really big news is about to happen, and for that I can hardly wait.  I had lunch with my daughter about a month ago, in Richmond, after which we spent the afternoon "thriftshopping."  She was looking very pregnant, but carrying the baby well.  She was just starting into that, "I'm ready to have my body back" stage.  Her busy season for her floral design business is just about wrapped up, and hopefully, she will be able to rest a little before the little one arrives.  December 22 is the ETA for the new arrival.
Jenn... Not showing her Belly....
you'd never know she's just at 8 months pregnant..
On the farm front, amazingly, I am STILL picking bell peppers from the garden...we are still getting Roma tomatoes and cherry tomatoes and golden berries.  I even harvested a couple of late carrots and an eggplant.  Some of the plants are still flowering, though I don't think the bees are around to pollinate.  We even got a few late figs from one of the fig trees.  Joe's tobacco is flowering and he hopes to get some seeds that will be hardier for next year's crop.  Most of the flowers have died back, but the marigolds and impatiens are still going strong.  I'm a bit surprised by that, since we have had two frosts already.

Our construction projects continue... I'm not sure how many tons of compaction soil, clay, crush and run, and gravel we will eventually spread to get this place the way we want it, but I can certainly attest to the fact that we need to order ANOTHER 20 tons each of compaction soil and crush and run.  We are very thankful we happened on the Kubota tractor through Craigslist last August!  That little powerhouse has really paid for itself in a very short time.
Tractor after a full year of hard labor!
Our most recent focus has been preparing the winter quarters for the animals.  This will be our first year wintering over chickens and goats.  We have taken the 125 year old lumber that we cut out of the old farmhouse and have recycled it to create the winter quarters.  Joe designed the facility and did the hard work, while I did the easy stuff.  It is almost completed, and true to form, when the REAL work had to be down, I left town on business... funny how that "works." (While Joe works on moving the farm reformation forward, I have been jetting around the country for work. In the past month or so I've been to Chicago, Boston, the western part of VA, California, and now St. Louis.)  I'm excited to get the new quarters completed and the additional fencing erected, as I have a feeling these moderate temperatures will not last much longer.
125 Year Old Lumber from the old Farm House
And some new OSB

And some Metal over the insulated Roof

And the big news in the old farm house is that we have FINALLY gotten the narrow, twisting stairs out, and replaced with nice, wide, straight run stairs.  Naturally, when the carpenter removed those old stairs, exposing the ONLY wall that had not yet been exposed, we found more rotten lumber that had to be replaced. It is truly incredible this place was still standing.  When we are done with it, she should make another 100 years easy!
New Stairs Going In
New Stairs with Temporary Treads
Joe Stapling up Netting to Hold Insulation Under Floor in Old Farm House
Joe Installing Insulation in Floor
So, the farm is coming along, little by little, step by step.... one day... one day....

Chickens... Doing their thing

Goats, doing their thing

Praying Mantis, looking at his shadow

Judy Giving Killian a MUCH needed grooming

Benson, getting up close and personal with a MOLE

A little visiting snake...

And a spider
As Night Falls on the old Farm House