Farm Life

Farm Frog

“Frog” that’s what I’m calling this Freezing Fog Phenomenon. It’s so beautiful, I just had to share some photos. I’m also including a little montage of the current animals we have (excuse the poopy chicken coop. bleh).

And! Congrats Lindsay! You are the winner (also, only entrant) of the Let Us Keep The Feast book giveaway.

Part 3 of my “Speed of Life” series coming soon!

Out the dining room window. It's like Christmas came was froze in place here!

Out the dining room window. It’s like Christmas came and froze in place here!

My favorite tree.

My favorite tree.

Blue (the horse) enjoying some grain. I am the official horse blanketer. Alli is the current horse feeder (twice a-day).

Blue (the horse) enjoying some grain. I am the official horse blanket-er. Alli is the current horse feeder (twice a-day).

Here is the other French hen-she's grabbing some grub while the others stay warm inside the coop.

This French hen is grabbing some kitchen scraps while the others stay warm inside the coop. Also-isn’t that cool how the ice formed on the fence? (No pun intended ; )

An unflattering yet real photo of the inside of the chicken coop. The Rooster and one of the French hens are on the roost. There are also two ducks (maybe you can see the third one, too?)

An unflattering yet real photo of the inside of the chicken coop. The Rooster and one of the French hens are on the roost. There are also two ducks (maybe you can see the third one, too?)

This is the buck New Zealand. We hope these guys reproduce like, well, rabbits! (Couldn't resist : )

This is the buck New Zealand. We hope these guys reproduce like, well, rabbits! (Couldn’t resist : )

The newest addition to the farm-New Zealand rabbits! They are big. They aren't pets. The plan is to breed and sell their litters-for meat or pets. They are really beautiful rabbits! These are the two girls.

The newest addition to the farm-New Zealand rabbits! They are big. They aren’t pets. The plan is to breed and sell their litters-for meat or pets. They are really beautiful rabbits! These are the two girls.

Our pet Dutch bunny. We thought his name was Duke, until our friend came over and told us he is a she. Now her name is Dukita.

Our pet Dutch bunny. We thought his name was Duke, until our friend came over and told us he is a she. Now her name is Dukita.

Looking down the driveway.

Looking down the driveway.

Introducing gato numero cuatro! (that's cat number four). Sox. He likes the hay in the barn.

Introducing gato numero cuatro! (that’s cat number four). Sox. He likes the hay in the barn.

Do you see the ice on my hair?! I'm cold.

Do you see the ice on my hair?! I’m cold. Also, this is one of my first selfies since ditching my iphone. I don’t miss it, or them, at all.

Christmas is almost here!

La Gringa

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Farm Life

Farming 101

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A list of things I’ve learned so far, in regards to farm life:

1. A shop vac is equipped to handle the mud room much better than my Dyson.

2. My shop-vac wasn’t made for vacuuming rugs from a standing position.

3. Horses are really big and scary.

4. The more you get to know a horse, the less scary they are, but they are still really big.

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5. Chickens don’t like to lay eggs when it’s cold and the daylight is shorter.

6. When chickens that you are feeding aren’t laying eggs they look more like a delicious piece of fried chicken on your kitchen table than a cute trend that “everyone is doing”.

7. Stink beetles, although having died two weeks prior to sucking them up through your vacuum, (see #1 for what I should have used) still stink horribly as does your vacuum. bleh.

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8. If you don’t dig the burial pit deep enough for your bunny during the funeral services another animal will come and dig up the bunny and leave no trace of anything but tufts of fur. And it disturbs the children (albeit mildly. I was surprised!) I’d also like to add that it was very cold and lots of children were crying while I tried to dig this hole. so there.

9. Attempting to do anything halfway will ultimately end in failure (see # 8-and all the other points)

10. Forgetting to fully close the outside door during the day allows the really strong winds to blow it open and then a mouse gets caught in the trap the next day.

The little duckling is getting so big!

11. Farm houses are smaller because you don’t have time to clean a huge 3000 sq. ft. house when you have animals to feed, coops to re-bed, animal water-ers to defrost every morning and broken things to fix.

12. The circle of life happens more often here.

13. (see # 12) We’re missing a cat. I’m sorry cat-loving friends. I feel really bad. Not the kitten but the other one, Chloe. The girls cried. M wrote her a note and left it for her in the barn loft. She hasn’t been back to see it. It’s been a week. : (

14. Having friends over is just as fun as it used to be-only the view behind the parade is better here. Jazz hands!

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15. Chickens, ducks and roosters poop. A LOT. This one also triggers the Fried Chicken vs. Trendy issue mentioned in # 6.

16. A husband with a really big workshop fixes everything really quickly and he’s really happy about it all the time.

All to say-this is a really fun adventure!!

La Gringa

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Farm Life, Welcome Letter

Welcome to True Mountain Farm!

 

 

Side note (or in this case, top note : )-if you subscribe to this blog (look over there in the right-hand side bar) you will automatically get new posts-without having to check back in on your own. The posts will be delivered right to  your inbox. That’s pretty handy, isn’t it?!

Okay. Now on to what I was really going to say…
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Every farm has to have a name, right? We were thinking and searching out a good name for our new place and discovered that the mountain you see there on the left (the smaller one) is named True Mountain. What a perfect name for our little farm! The one to the right is called Bald Mountain…we’ll stick with True Mountain : )

We stand on The Truth of the Bible here at True Mountain Farm!

Some fun photos I grabbed the other day (there are more in older posts-check them out if you haven’t already)!

Chickens!

Chickens!

The little duckling is getting so big!

The little duckling is getting so big!

I love seeing the girls swinging in the trees!

I love seeing the girls swinging in the trees!

Getting ready for winter...how much wood will we need to keep us warm?!

Getting ready for winter…how much wood will we need to keep us warm?!

Have a great day today!

Love,

La Gringa for the rest of us True Mountain Farm-ers

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Activity-kids, Farm Life, Motherhood, Uncategorized

The Cat Food Mystery-Solved!

So the two cats we have live in the barn. By “live” I mean we give them their food and water there and a cozy spot to sleep-although we have no idea if they actually spend the night inside. The first three weeks we had Chloe (the one year old black cat) she meow-ed outside of our window from dusk to dawn. Now she goes somewhere else.

The Barn is what I would call almost predator proof. Okay, it’s not at all, but I feel like a bad cat owner if I think I’m luring them to their death-by-coyote so I like to think of it as almost predator proof.

T minus 1 week (today is T, in case you didn’t get that): Upon entering the barn we find the cat food tub has been knocked over…contents spilled out-very little food left. Darn cats. We let the cats know this is not acceptable. We buy more cat food.

T minus 3 days: Cat food knocked over AGAIN. Seriously, what in the world? Scold cats. Place brick on top of newly purchased cat food.

T minus 2 days: Brick found 3 feet from food tub. food tub knocked over and is upside down (however contents remain intact). No need to get more food-every need to figure out what in the world is big enough to knock the brick off and move the tubs around. This calls for…an investigation!

The girls and I strap on our muck boots (‘cuz there is lots of muck around here!) and go searching for signs of the intruder. That’s when we find fresh poop  (as in there is very old and lots of poop already) in the barn loft. Oh great. Something is coming back now that it’s getting colder. It likes cat food, can climb the barn ladder to get to the loft and hasn’t eaten any chickens or cats. And poops like a dog-shape/size speaking.

T minus 12 hours: El Guapo and I do a Google image search for “raccoon poop”. (funny, never done that before). Definitely raccoon.

Thankfully back in the Operation De-Mouse days of the farm El Guapo bought for $10 a “have a heart” animal trap because I had realized there was something living in the barn. We set it up for a week or so with no success. We decided whatever it was didn’t like us living here and so it was gone…or maybe (now that we are farm experts ; ) I think the animal had no need to come back-too warm. It’s started getting cooler at night the last week or so and this animal has now made his appearance again.

T minus nothing-as in-currently happening right now: S comes running from the barn this morning, “Mom! Mom!! There is a raccoon in the trap!” Yes! Success! Please don’t ask me what we are going to do with him. I can’t tell you. And by “we” I mean El Guapo. The girls and I are leaving for the night and it is perfect timing for us, if you know what I mean. El Guapo will be all alone on the farm. Well, along with the ducks, chickens, horse, bunny, cat and…the raccoon.

Thankfully he (the raccoon, not El Guapo) didn’t get to the chickens, or the cats. Could there be more??

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Just another day on the farm!

La Gringa

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Farm Life

(not so) Old McDonald has a Farm…

We moved here so we could have space. Room. To. Roam. A place for El Guapo to put his woodworking tools, pinball machines, stuff. A call to simplify our lives. One bathroom for all five of us. Small bedrooms. Yell at my children (and ask for forgiveness) without my neighbors hearing everything (being real here). To have animals-like chickens. And I’m proud to announce that after two and a half months-we have success! 

We are having loads of fun together-although it’s A LOT of work. Fixer upper house (painting, planing the doors so they close properly, fixing the kitchen sink drain so the water goes down the drain to the septic tank and not all over my garbage bags and soap that live under the sink. Leaky roofs, chicken coops that haven’t seen a chicken for a long time. We’ve said to ourselves A LOT “What were they thinking”. “They” being the previous three owners. We blame much of it on 1960s thinking. So grateful that El Guapo’s handyman skills are so fantastic. This would not be possible without them. So-in an effort to give you a short blog post (hooray!) I will now insert pictures with short-ish captions so you can SEE for yourself what is going on around here : ) Thanks for joining me on this adventure-it’s fun knowing you are coming along with us! 

Frost on the windshields this morning! It’s coming (insert looming voice)…

Horse! We are boarding a horse. The owners come and take care of him-and teach the girls how to work with him. It is really great! His name is Blue. He’s white, with lots of freckles. Like me (except I’m a girl). He’s fun. It’s really fun to have a horse in the pasture!

 

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El Guapo turned the big 4-0 a couple of weeks ago. We only had a 50 candle and a 4 candle so we improvised : )

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A friend sold us two of her Rhode Island Reds and gifted us with three ducks. I named the ducks Lucy and Ethel. They have a duckling-not sure if it’s a boy or a girl so we’re waiting to name him/her. The chickens have names but I can’t remember them right now. They came with a rooster. Did you know you don’t have to have a rooster to have eggs? Just if you want fertilized eggs-to hatch someday. He’s fun. He crows-not so early-plus, we can’t hear him in the house so it’s cool. What is NOT cool-no eggs. Two weeks with two laying hens and two laying ducks and no eggs. Sigh.

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Cat Sucess! Actually-this is our second cat. His name is Billy. He’s a kitten. Chloe is the other one-she’s about a year old. She kills voles. Not mice, though. Still working on that. And, I’m happy to say, they seem to be starting to like each other! Hooray!

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My parents are so great. They move all the way out here to be closer to us (like 2 min. away) and then we move an hour away and they still come help us! Lots of painting ’round here!

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And School! Saving projects for evenings and weekends is helping us make school a priority. The fancy chandelier helps make things, well, fancy. And besides-how can you have a math tantrum when sitting under such fanciness? 

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Have a great day!

La Gringa

 

 

 

 

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Farm Life

CATastrophe, part 2

If you’re wondering what happened to Part 1 of this story you can find it here.

This is a long post. So please don’t ignore your children or husband to read this…wait until they are all distracted, grab a cup of lukewarm coffee (because by the time the kids are distracted isn’t it always lukewarm?!) and enjoy the most recent sordid tale of our new farm life…

By this time we still didn’t have a cat. Scratches of attempted barn cat retrieval, but no actual cat to eat the mice that keep finding their way into my laundry room. Then, a call (several actually) between El Guapo and the local pound. Turns out they have a Barn Cat Division (ominous voice is preferred here, works well). Also turns out they will spay or neuter your cat for you and give you this darling cat free of charge. You have to pay if you want a nice cat that will snuggle you inside your house. Apparently, barn cats aren’t so popular so when they find someone willing to take a, ugh, not-so-well-mannered feline they’ll allow you to take it off their hands-after they make sure no more of these cats can be recreated.

The Plan: Be home for at least 7 days in a row to remind cat it should stay. Here. With us. The people who love cats. (*spoiler warning-I don’t think we convinced it).

Anyways, El Guapo and this nice lady at the pound go back and forth with dates on when to pick up said cat (we were trying to work it so we would be home for a full week before leaving-so the cat would know this was it’s home…that’s what they told us to do…I do not know this stuff. As was aforementioned I have NO idea about cats. none). 

Homecoming…

…El Guapo brings home the cat. By this time-the cat people in our lives (mostly women, just sayin’) had heard of our previous CATastrophe story and gave us a cat carrier. And a feeder bowl thingy.  So this trip “home” was much more calm and only required six words to communicate what happened and not an entire blog post like the last time. sheesh.

The Reaction…

…Much excitement is had by all of the girls-lots of “oh, let me see the little kitty” and “oh she’s so cute”. I think this cat’s name was (*that’s foreshadowing again) Squeak. Squeak was a shy, (apparently they all are the first few days/weeks you bring them to a new place) mousy ; ) little cat. She lived in this room we have in the barn that has doors and no way to get out. She liked to hide behind the bikes. 

We were told that she needed a few days to warm up to us; to convince her that this is a great home, er, barn-farm for her. (See above mentioned “The Plan” section). So we did that. The girls would go out and see her, play with her and even adorn her with a very cute little collar a friend of ours gave us. 

Plan C, or D or G or something…not A, though, that’s for sure…

…Then, it happened. We let her out. For the first few hours she hung around the barn. We’d catch her playing in the catnip that naturally grows near the Quonset Hut. And then that’s it. We haven’t seen her since. that was like, a month ago I think? Oh geez. Seriously-where did we go wrong? Some cat friends have said we didn’t leave her in the barn room long enough. Others hoped she made her way “home”. In this scenario I insert a picture of the “Incredible Journey” movie. Where the cat and two dogs make their way home from somewhere like Alaska all the way to Florida or something…I think that’s what cat people would say happened. All I’m sayin’ is there are some very aggressive hawks and coyotes ’round these parts. Needless to say-we talked about the possibility of seeing Squeaks in heaven someday…minor tears were shed-by children. El Guapo and i just looked at each other and decided to check craigslist again for free cats. 

The Guilt…

…Also, the pound keeps calling to check in on how things are going with Squeaks. We haven’t called them back. Isn’t that horrible? The advocate in me says I need to let them know that it didn’t work out so they can tell other future Barn Cat owners how better to keep their cat around…but then I feel really bad that they did all of this work to help us and now the cat has disappeared. Awkward.

And since I didn’t grab a photo of Squeaks before she, er, moved on, here’s a couple others, just for fun…but first…

The Barn Cat Search of 2013 continues (there are now parts 3 and 4! With much better endings. I’ll need to change the title of the post from CATastrophe to something more like so now we have two cats and I’m still not in control of the situation.) I think that’s why I don’t care for cats. They are in control. I however provide water, food and warm places to sleep, and hope they stick around.

: /

I have so much more to tell you! And so little time to write it out! Hopefully this week will afford a couple of thirty-minute writing sessions and I can update you more on things around The Farm. Until then-here’s those pictures I mentioned 500 characters ago:

Explanations will come in future posts : )

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One of my favorites:

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Affectionately,

La Gringa

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Farm Life

CATastrophe, part 1

First let me start by saying how thankful I am to the Lord for creating this world we live in; the birds, the mountains, the ocean, the animals, the flowers-everything. I stand in awe of all He has created and worship Him every time I have the opportunity to appreciate all He has made. Also, I don’t like cats. I mean, I really, really, really, really don’t like cats. And I really, really, really, really don’t like them when i’m sick and about get my period. Okay-truth be told-there’s not a lot of things I like around the time Aunt Flo comes to visit-but still, for the purpose of this story we’re going to focus on my grumpiness around cats and that time of the month (which, by the way, seems to be taking over more of the month than it used to. Good grief).  But about cats.

The back-story:

You’ll remember that we have (had??) mice living in the garage and consequently the laundry room and other areas of the house. It became clear that we would be needing a barn cat (or two) to help us control the rodent population around here. You’ll also remember that I am a city girl trying to figure out country life. Which means I am discovering I dislike hantavirus more than cats. Which means we need a barn cat.

One Sunday morning…

…when I was sick. and anticipating the arrival of my monthly friend  El Guapo announced he’d found a free cat on craigslist that we could pick up on our way home from church. “Hooray!” exclaimed my children. “As long as it doesn’t eat my birds” was my response. So, we meet free cat giver-away-er lady (FCGAL). The cat seems pretty upset that its being held (by her, it’s owner). RED FLAG # 1. FCGAL explains how great of a huntress her cat is. How she is always bringing mice, even prairie dogs to her. This cancels out RED FLAG #1. I ask-innocently enough-trying not to show my true feelings, “How does she do with birds?” FCGAL responds, “Oh! She is great! She can break it’s wing in no time and have it caught before you know it.” RED FLAG #s  1, 2 3 & 4. I look in panic to El Guapo and say, “I don’t think this is going to work out. (and to the FCGAL) I like birds. A  lot.” But reason was kind of getting through to me (and the strong desire to get out of this place) and reason with myself, well, if the cat is going to be good at getting mice-it’s probably going to be good at getting birds. I will just have to adjust my expectations. So, we end up taking the cat. in the car. without a carrier. In A’s lap. As the FCGAL hands A the cat she says- in a sudden moment of good conscience, “Oh, I think she’s pregnant.” And then, “She has worms. You’ll need to do something about that”. Riiiight.

Let’s review: I hate cats. I’m grumpy. I’m sick. I’m trying REALLY hard to make this work. I hate hantavirus. And crunching on little mouse poops.

We all get in the car, close the doors and the cat immediately escapes A’s loving grip and runs circles around the back and front seats-clawing all of us. Here’s what you would have heard if you were there:

“AH! The cat made a hole in my skirt!”

“Mom, she is freaking me out!!”

“Get me out of here!”

“”This is horrible. Mom, help!”

“Open the door-let her out!!”

Then, lastly, in a moment of defeat, while opening the door and driving away at the same time came the words of El Guapo to the FCGAL, “Sorry. It’s not going to work.”

We drive away. With no cat. With new holes in our pants. Blood, running down my exposed leg.

So, the birds continue to roam freely (and the mice seem to be at bay, for the time being), even though we have no cat. There’s actually a CATtastrophe story part 2. I’ll share that one next. Just after I check all of the mouse traps and make sure they are still empty.

: )

La Gringa

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Farm Life

A few reasons why we moved

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Upside down swinging-the best kind!

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Running to see Dad when he gets home from work.

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When we get overwhelmed with all of the work we have to do-we step outside and b r e a t h e.

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The barn. Those antlers were there. They’ll be coming down. Just as soon as I find the math books. Priorities!

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There’s a child in this photo-can you see her? That’s their tree fort.

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This is where my bluebirds live. I can’t seem to get them to slow down enough to take a picture. And if this new barn cat we have (see upcoming post) tries to kill them I will be one very un-happy city turned country girl.

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Farm Life, Motherhood

The Princess Bride

Disclaimer: mom and dad-if you are reading this please note that I would have had no other way of being raised-ever! You are truly the best parents I could ever have asked for!!

That being said, I kinda had it easy when it came to house chores. We had a pool guy, a gardener (remember this part-it comes up later in this post) and a housekeeper. My mom and dad were full-time educators and after a long day of teaching other people’s unruly children having these things taken care of was a huge blessing. 

Fast forward, oh, 36 years, and here I am. Lest you get the wrong impression of me, I am a very hard working young (ish) woman. No epidurals, climb 14ers, clean up body fluids without batting an eye-you get the idea. HOWEVER I haven’t really ever done really hard work on my own house. Okay, well, we did remodel our first home. We did work hard-but this whole six acres business-with a barn, mice and lots and lots of thistles is a whole ‘nother story!

Last week I spent three hours whacking at acres (I can actually say that and not exaggerate) of thistles with this thingy:

 

 

Holy cow! It was really hard (and I mean hard as in who the heck needs P90X when you whack at thistles for 3 hours straight?!). It was also really, really, really rewarding (and I mean rewarding as in I just accomplished that and still can’t feel the outside portion of my pointer finger, but there are no more thistles-until the next good rain-but still, no more thistles!)

This story of Princess turns, er, country girl would also encompass the entire day of cleaning out mouse-poop (and other things I won’t tell you about) with El Guapo and Papi (see post below this) and shop-vac-ing a storage room in the barn on my hands and knees (including the petrified mouse carcass). 

The next post will be really fun pictures of the girls here. I promise. We are having so much fun!

Also-this weed whacker thingy is a great tool for getting out some aggression (if you might have any) : ) Or praying for people. Or both.

’til next time,

La Gringa

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Mousing Around

This “back to the land” shenanigans we’ve been up to just got real. Very real.
(a HUGE shout out to the third person in the hazmat suit-Papi-El Guapo’s dad). If it wasn’t for Papi we would be well covered in hantavirus.

Farm Life

Mousing Around-in the Garage

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