Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hawk, Quiet Book, Grow Chart, etc

A couple of weeks ago, Ryan came in from chores with a "You'll never guess what I caught in the raccoon trap." After many guesses, I was unable to come up with this guy:
Yes, that is an angry hawk. We were using a dead chicken as bait, and apparently this guy walked right in. It is illegal to shoot these in Iowa (possibly in the U.S.?), so we took him up to Ames with us and let him go. Hopefully 50 miles away is far enough that he won't find his way back! 

I've also been getting back to crafting and quilting some, so for a recent trip to California to visit my dad I made Hazel a Quiet Book. Some of these pages are more applicable when she's older, but I thought I'd take a shot at it nonetheless.
This page is for weaving
This one is for tying shoes and fastening overalls
This one is for counting beads (her current favorite page) and lacing
The back of the lacing page and braiding
Shape matching (her second favorite page) and a maze. The small pocket on the jeans holds the shapes when they aren't matched up. It's hard to see the maze, but there is path stitched in two pieces of fabric that a glass bead can travel through.
Close up of the maze so you can see the path.

I used almost all materials that I had on hand (I bought a lace for the lacing page, that's it), and the cover is from a leg of Ryan's jeans. The tan pages are also old jeans of his, actually. When I buy that man jeans, I'm really just choosing fabric for future projects. I've also made a slip cover from them and a couple of quilts. 

But back to recent quilt completion. I bought a Goodnight Moon panel online a few months ago because I couldn't resist it. I love that book! All I did with it was quilt it, no piecing or applique or anything. 
Yes, that is a green paint stain on my carpet that I forgot to photograph around. Toddler.
Close up of quilting.

I also finished Hazel's grow chart. This is custom fabric I designed on Spoonflower, and I really feel the quilting added something to it (but that's hard to see from this pic). 

Lastly, I made some tutus for my nieces for Christmas, so of course Hazel needed one. Here Nermal has found the tutu and is happily nested in it.

Lastly, some kidlet pictures. Here Hazel is decorating our Christmas tree with Daddy. Again, Ryan pulled a seedy looking cedar tree out of the pasture. When he first pulled it in, it was 12 feet tall and we decided it was a little big for us. So we hacked the bottom off it until we had something more like 7 or 8 feet tall. 

And Zane before we gave him a haircut. Yes, we cut off his hair at about 4.5 weeks because it was already threatening to become a mullet!

Since we had our first snow of the season today, Hazel had to try on Mommy's boots. Is it just me, or does this really make her look like a manga or anime character?
I think it makes her look like the main character from Final Fantasy 9. She even currently has the right hair!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Death Star & Baby Boy

I'm going to go out of chronological order here, because my suspicion is that my latest news is the most interesting to people. My baby boy, Zane, was born on Wednesday at 2:49 in the afternoon. Considering I left work at 11 to go to the hospital, that's pretty darn good!
So far we're still adjusting, and he is not the sleeper Hazel was. This one is more of an... eater. Big time. He was 8 lbs and 10 oz, so he was a pretty big boy and is so far showing himself to be a true Marquardt. He actually looks a lot like his namesake (middle name), Ryan's grandpa Harlan. I'm not sure how much of that is that in my opinion baby boys look like old men. There is a picture of Harlan on Ryan's blog here.
Hazel is fairly well infatuated with Baby Zane and wants to hold him all the time. She is so far adjusting well, but we're really only on day one of him being home!

On to other topics, while I still had a massive belly we had Halloween. My workplace really doesn't do Halloween at all (I'm the only person I saw with even a nod to a costume), but it's my favorite holiday and how often am I going to be wickedly pregnant on Halloween?
A $7 shirt from Wal-Mart and some silver puff paint later, I had a death star. For a more subtle costume that was comfortable and wearable, I was very happy with it. Ryan did think I should have put a price tag on it that said "SOLD: $4 Billion" since that happened the day before. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

36 week belly & Fall goings on

I'm not really one for belly pictures. But we went to a wedding last weekend so I had Ryan take one since I was moderately dolled up. 
I'm definitely getting to the point where I would be perfectly happy to be done. I have about 3 weeks to go, we will see if he waits that long to come out or not.

In so many ways, this is my favorite time of year. The chickens and turkeys have all been processed, and Ryan's not feeding hay yet. So I actually see a little more of him than normal. We only had 25 turkeys manage to finish out the season from the original 160 (sigh), but they did come in a nice range of sizes from 8 to 21 lbs. The other turkey producers we know had trouble too, we think it was because all the eggs were laid in very warm weather and all of us had developmental problems in the turkeys. I keep telling people it's just like the reason that pregnant women aren't supposed to get into a hot tub! I would prefer this scenario, however, because most of them died early so we didn't pay to feed them and then we didn't pay to process them either. It's preferable to last year when they were so small because we fed and paid to process those right up until the end but then they were all only 8 lbs.

The cows are calving, so we have two new calves on the farm. We have a very hands-off approach to calving, so Ryan just makes sure to check them a little more frequently than usual. It's colder out, but generally we have good mothers and so far so good. 
The little girl in this picture has one white hoof, which is pretty cute. We also have a black-brown bull calf without a belt (the white stripe that is a mark of a belted galloway). We were told the belt breeds true, but we now have two instances where it hasn't. 

Being fall, I brought home a pumpkin for the munchkin and Ryan to carve, which she found to be great fun.
He came up with a good solution to the whole toddler-and-knives-for-pumpkin-carving issue by drawing her three different faces on paper and letting her pick what she wanted the pumpkin to look like. 

I have some maternity sweaters with big cowl necks that I wear a lot (I have three and they are long enough to cover the bump). Our little one has discovered that she can play peek-a-boo with me with these sweaters, no other equipment required. So if I pick her up with one of these sweaters on, she immediately follows a predictable sequence of events. 
Peek a boo!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Dusty, State Fair, & Other Goings-on

It appears it has been over a month since my last blog post, for that I apologize. I think I'll still blame pregnancy. It makes a good scapegoat. 

It is State Fair season, so we went and the biggest purchase we made was a cowboy hat for the munchkin. We've been wanting to get her one (like Daddy's!) for some time, but the state fair is really the place to get it. She didn't want a purple one, or a pink one, or a white one. She liked the black one!

After I took this picture I realized that I've taken this picture every year of the fair. This is on the sales grounds near the Varied Industries building, and Ryan is always carrying Hazel. Here she is at her first state fair, 3 months old:
And here she is at her second, 1 year and 3 months old:
Different carry methods, same general idea. Here she is again this year, 2 years and 3 months old:
I think when she's too big to be carried, these pictures will be replaced with her showing animals at the fair. Ryan is also not actually wearing the same shirt in all of these, but it does kind of look like he is. Apparently gray is a common color in his wardrobe. 

Our daughter is starting to figure out how farm chores work a little bit, which is still more adorable and annoying than helpful. She wanted to water the cows, so here she is tending the hose on the cattle water tank.
It actually makes a pretty good task for her, and she didn't get all wet or anything. 

Also about a week ago, we adopted another dog. Someone came too fast on the gravel road and Solo got hit. This was really disappointing because Solo was just starting to figure out life on the farm! We had only had him for a few months.
So this is Dusty, he is a 6 year old beagle. His given name was Destin, which was weird. He doesn't respond to it anyway, so we're still working on that. So far he's doing OK, he's adjusting to farm life. He also does well with a toddler, he comes from a household with other young children. 

In miscellaneous news, our plants are somewhat confused by the weather. We have been receiving steadier rain, so our french lilac and crabapple decided to bloom. Not like spring blooms, but definite blooms.
I took this picture on August 27th. Not this spring, just now. Crazy.

Yesterday we did our first foray into making cookies. This is using a Betty Crocker mix, but I did make the frosting from scratch. The little one thoroughly enjoyed it. 
We just used a heart shaped cookie cutter, and we ended up with some very misshapen hearts. They tasted great!!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Turkeys, Training pants, Another Skirt, and Bed changes

It rained today! This is an event in itself. It has been a dry, dry year here, as you probably already know. I think previously it hadn't rained here for the last month, and we haven't seen real rain in at least two. 

Nice as that is, the turkeys have really suffered in this hot weather. We aren't even sure if it is the weather or some other factor (hatchery, feed ration, etc), but we've lost a lot of turkeys. We are down to less than 40 of our original 150. We're trying to figure out what we're going to do next year, since this is the second bad year of turkeys in a row. Do we raise 40 broad-breasted bronze and 40 giant white turkeys? Currently we have raised just the whites, but sometimes the bronzes are a little more tolerant of less than perfect conditions. Do we just not raise turkeys at all? We have some very loyal customers who really depend on us for turkeys that we don't want to disappoint. Last year I said if we had another year like last year that we might be done with turkeys. I'm not really sure what we will do. The picture above is from 2008; our grass is not this green and our turkeys are not this big yet. 

Our toddler went to Hotel Grandma this week, which means I actually got out my sewing machine!! I did a couple of non-quilting projects that I've been meaning to do for some time. 
First, I added to some training pants for the little one in preparation for starting potty training soon. 
I followed a tutorial from the blog "It's Our Long Story" I saw online, probably spotted on Pinterest. I changed it a little in that I didn't put the flannel on the inside of the training pants, I put it between the laminate fabric and the outside of the training pants. As Ryan mentioned, this made the training pants I purchased more attractive in addition to making them water resistant. We will have to see if they help in the whole process - I think they will. 

Then I pulled out some fabric I bought on sale from my favorite quilt shop, The Quilting Connection in Ames. I had about 2 yards, and I wanted to make a similar skirt to the maternity border print skirt I made a couple months ago. I learned a few things from that one, a major issue being that it didn't have pockets! Pockets are a necessity, I have realized. I have to have somewhere to carry my cell phone since I don't always have a purse on me and I don't like leaving my cell at my desk at work. So I roughly followed a tutorial from Boulevard Designs for the skirt, but with a knit waistband for the maternity aspect. Then I used the pocket template and tutorial I found on Punkin Patterns for the pockets. In the end, I probably have my own pattern out of all of this, but I didn't take enough pictures of the process to make a tutorial. If there was demand for it, I would make another one and do so. 
I wore it tonight since Ryan and I went to dinner as a date night. You have a good shot of my growing baby bump here (I'm at week 24 out of 40), and my hand looks funny because it's in my pocket. I'm starting to get to the point in pregnancy where people are more sure when they look at me that I didn't just gain a bunch of weight recently. I'm also feeling better (it took until week 20) and pregnancy is fairly tolerable right now. I posted on facebook about it but I don't think I mentioned it here: we've found out it is a boy! I'm very thrilled by this, it means it will probably be my last pregnancy if everything goes well. We can't predict the future, though...

It has been a big week for our daughter. She seems to be having anxiety that manifests itself in her pulling her hair out on one side. She tends to do it while in bed, and we think she's having anxiety about her big girl bed. So on Tuesday this week, I took her to get a haircut to even out her hair.
She did very well, she's apprehensive in this photo but actually was quite calm during the process. 

During the day on Tuesday, Ryan got her a new twin mattress and brought it home. So after our haircut we went to The Evil Empire's Pella Outpost and picked out some sheets. She, of course, picked the princess sheets but I found them fairly tolerable once we got them home. They are not horribly covered in princesses, they are mostly pink and have some flowers and swirls on them. 
We put it on the floor because part of her fear seemed to be in falling out of bed after we switched from the full crib to the toddler rail. 
She was fairly enthusiastic about her new bed, yet has continued to mostly sleep on the floor. Sigh. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Farmer's Tan

Just a quick update with something that struck me as particularly amusing. My toddler (who DOES wear sunscreen and a hat when going outside) has the beginnings of a farmer's tan. She must truly be a farmer's daughter. I tried to capture this phenomenon on my aging camera, but I admit I'm not thrilled by the results. Hopefully you can see what I'm talking about!
 We put Daddy's arm in there just for a sense of perspective. Both for size and for what a REAL farmer's tan looks like. If someone doesn't think you're wearing a shirt when they're standing 200 feet away, it's not a real farmer's tan. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Garage and the Bees

Today Ryan gave me a lovely gift: My garage back! Huzzah!! Do you remember our power outage? Holy cow, I just went to look for that post and learned that outage was on February 13th! That was over 21 weeks ago! Anyway, that outage fried our garage door opener. So we had several weeks where the garage door didn't open, and for some odd reason it because the repository for every form of random junk on the farm. It wasn't clean to start with, and being filled with more junk did not help. So then we had several more weeks where it was unusable as a garage because a car would not fit into it. But finally today, Ryan got it all cleaned out. I'd like to say I helped, but at 22 weeks pregnant I'm largely useless.
And then here it is with a car in it:
And here's the pile of junk we're hoping to get rid of. Anyone want a push lawnmower that needs a tuneup?

On a totally separate note, we have a nest of wild honeybees that has moved into one of our soft maples. I don't think I already blogged about them (sorry if I did) because I didn't think they'd stay. But they've made a home in the maple tree limb and they all come out when it's warm. 
I really have to get a better camera to get a picture of these guys. It just looks like a dark spot in the middle of this picture. I'm having deja vu, so perhaps I did blog about these before...

So now a picture of the cows grazing peacefully. The extreme heat of this summer has been very hard on the turkeys, and we've been losing quite a few. Luckily we haven't lost as many as some farmer friends of ours, but we've certainly been losing them at a steady rate. Turkeys like heat, but shouldn't be born TOO warm. 

And a few pictures of my toddler, who's grasp of language gets better every day. 
Drawing with sidewalk chalk:

Pretending to be Mommy:
Cuddling on the couch:

Monday, May 28, 2012

Tiling & Pulling the Well Head

We bought our farm in December 2007. About two months later in February, the well pit collapsed and we lost water to the house in the middle of winter. We were still living in Ames, so we decided to sort of let the plumber cobble something together until April, when we hooked up the rural water lines. 
But, you see, we never did anything about that collapsed well pit. We pulled the tank and sump pump out, but there's about 12 inches of sand in the bottom of the thing and really the world had other concerns. Fast forward to today, and we had two VERY wet years in 2008 and 2009 (remember massive flooding in Iowa?) which resulted in water problems in our yard starting in 2010 (see this post). We had the county engineering office out at the end of last year to figure out how to fill our well so we could get the water table to behave itself again, and they told us we needed to tile all over the yard because without a sump pump working in that pit full time, our water table was always going to be high and would interfere with the septic system. So this weekend, we borrowed a mini excavator from Vermeer (still my favorite job perk!!) and put in over 300 feet of tiling.
Ryan spent the most time in the cab of the machine. You can't see Ryan's co-worker Doug, but he came out too and he plans tiling projects as part of his job. He spent his time in the pit mostly, got filthy, and was worth his weight in gold. Thanks Doug!
My stepdad also came down, here he is finding our power lines from the pole to the house (no, Iowa One Call won't find those for you because they're private after the pole) with a spade. Michael, how did you get the cruddy job???
Of course, the chickens were convinced all this dirt work was so they could find more bugs. They were pretty thrilled by the prospect.
Here is our "yard" after excavation. If you can see the little red flags behind the well pit, they are the power lines.
Here's most of the dig. 
Hazel loved watching Daddy and her "Bapa" all day from our porch balcony. She had a perfect view and was totally safe, so it worked great. Yes, I know she has something on her lip in this picture and no, I have no idea what it is. Food of some sort, perhaps?
My job while the men were doing this was mostly to cook. I turned a flank steak into fajitas and stuffed flank steak for lunch and dinner on Saturday, and we had skirt steak as kebabs for dinner on Sunday. I made waffles Sunday and Monday, and a pasta salad for a Sunday lunch cookout. Michael was a huge help with dishes!
So after Michael filled in most of the trenches with the Mini Ex while Ryan chored, today we had to pull the well head out. When the county told us to "pull out the well head," somehow I pictured something different than what happened. 
But first things first, we had to relocate the bull frog who had made his home for the past 3 years in our well pit. We know it was 3 years, because that's when we first saw him in there. He started out as a little frogling about 4 inches long.
Can you find him in this picture?
Ryan took him down to our mini-pond at the bottom of the draw in our property.
Then we had to pull the cap off the well. That was not easy at all. Ryan had to grind the heads of the bolts off, and even then it was some crowbar and hammer work. I will add here that a Google search of "how to remove a well head" was super unhelpful. No pictures, no nothing. Silly internet.
Ryan also collapsed the pit some, without obstructing the well itself that is in the bottom right of this picture.
So then we wrapped the power cord that descended into the dark oblivion around the backhoe bucket, and pulled up. I'm afraid I have no pictures of this, because I was too busy trying to tie knots in electrical wire to make sure it stayed attached to the backhoe.
The part that surprised me was that I thought "remove the well head" meant we would have to pull something out about 10 feet long and we would leave lots of stuff in the ground that the county would fill. No. Remove the well head means you pull and pull and pull and however deep your well is you end up with that much PVC pipe. Slimy PVC pipe.
Those of you who have been to our farm realize how far from the pit this is, and we had the line doubled up about a third of the way down. 
So finally, you get a thing at the end of the pipe. I assume this is the pump, but I somehow didn't think it was at the bottom of the well. Stupid me, I really should have! The number one rule of all pumps of any kind: Pumps Don't Suck. They push.
So apparently this is what a well pump looks like. Ryan was able to pull it out the last bit of the way, but he said it was very heavy. 
And voila! An empty well casing. Ready for the county engineer's approval. Hopefully he says, "Yep, looks good!" and fills it up with drilling mud and all the water issues in our yard go away.

I can dream.