So recently we decided we weren't going to be able to make much progress on the driveway at the pace we were going. Here are some pictures Ryan took in early November after he did some more dirt moving.
He was making some progress, but the little tractor's backhoe was badly underpowered for the amount of dirt that needed to be moved.
A lot of the work was in taking down the trees, which Ryan did do. So we hired a local guy to dig the driveway. One Monday Ryan went out to the site to do more tree clearing and found this waiting for him:
So with the right tools, the guy did it in about a day. I feel fully vindicated by the whole process because everyone kept telling me how crazy this driveway was going to be, and it was going to be steep, and yadda yadda yadda. But I did the math (those of you who know me are not surprised by this) and suspected it would actually work quite well. You can see the road off to the left in the picture above, so you can also see that the driveway isn't parallel to it. Yet I think it's perfect and it avoids the dreaded waterline the county decided they didn't want in the ditch.
Here is the equipment the guy used to dig the driveway; he's not messing around:
I was mad at Ryan for not taking a picture of his little tractor next to this monstrosity of a backhoe just to show how big it is.
We also now have gravel on this driveway, but we haven't been back out to look at it. I'll post pictures next time. Everyone seems to keep asking me whether we will pave it, and the answer is definitely no. This is one of those country/city things, I think. Not only would it be expensive (the driveway is something like 200 feet long), but you actually don't want a paved driveway if you are going to drive a tractor or other equipment on it. It's hard on both the driveway and the equipment tires (and those suckers are PRICEY!).
Now back to the old place, we discovered that cattle will eat fallen leaves if they are raked into a bit of a pile. That and loaf in it. Here a mama and relatively new calf had a very autumn moment together. We don't manage our herd access to bulls very closely, so we basically have calves at any given time. We had one born just a couple of weeks ago. So far our cows have done very well with this, which is nice. Cattle have a long lead time to beef, but they are some of the easiest animals we deal with.
Sheep also spent some time in the front yard right before moving to their winter pasture. I love that sheep mean you really don't have to mow the yard. It's extremely easy to see where the manicured yard idea came from, because after the sheep our front yard really does look like someone mowed it. I think we had the mower out about 3 times all summer. The yard is a little brown in this picture just because the sheep had been there too long. You can also see cattle in the background on their winter pasture; we have quite a herd going.
Another thing that happened this month was that I turned 30. Not much of a milestone, but a little one just the same. A lovely friend of ours hosted a joint costume birthday party for me and her husband (who turned 30 about a week before) and we decided to go steampunk. (Don, before you ask me what steampunk is, click the link and Wikipedia will tell you....) We were more "steam" than "punk" generally.
I had great fun making a costume. Ryan found this duster on Craig's List and made his fake gun out of a variety of parts. I made him a vest and kerchief. Z we just put in a vest we happen to own, he wasn't very steampunk. But at the age of one, he wouldn't keep any of that stuff on anyway. I'm wearing a corset I got years ago from Forever 21 and has been hanging in my closet, along with a basic button up shirt. Then I made a hat and used some safety pins to pin up the skirt I wear with my renaissance garb over a petticoat I'll be wearing under a bridesmaid dress for my brother's wedding next month.
I also made a necklace out of odds and ends from Michael's craft store, among other places.
Here is the skirt pinned up. This worked pretty well, but the petticoat was definitely needed as well (and is under the skirt in this picture).
And here's a closer view of the hat.
Here's H, who is actually wearing an Alice in Wonderland dress my parents had custom made for me at about her age. It's a little big for her, but it was OK and I steampunked it up a little bit. The hat had some cards (a queen of hearts, a 10 and a 6 in nod to the mad hatter) and feathers on it, along with a white rabbit. She's playing with a key and glass vial I had at her waistline, and there were a few gears scattered throughout. She LOVED wearing her hat and would not take it off.
In other crafting, I tried my hand at ombré dyeing. I have a quilt idea in mind, but couldn't find an ombré long enough, so I decided to make my own. I rigged up what can only be termed a "contraption" in our kitchen sink to do this, while Ryan looked askance at me and tried very hard not to ask. I used supplies from Dharma Trading Company, and I have to say I highly recommend them. Good prices, fast delivery, good tutorials. I actually decided to mix up super concentrated dye, then lower the fabric a little at a time while also adding water. I think it worked better than trying to mix in dye and raising the fabric up out of the water if that makes any sense. I took enough pictures for a tutorial if anyone wants one (leave a comment and I'll post one).
And here is the result! I'm very happy with it, it will suit my needs perfectly. I didn't need perfectly straight lines because I'll be cutting it up for a quilt. I just needed a smooth progression. Hopefully you'll see the quilt someday too!
Ryan also insists I post a picture of my Thanksgiving schedule.
Is this unusual? Don't other people do this? I save it every year, and then pull it out the next year and rewrite it. I still inevitably forget to put something on the schedule anyway, this year it was the stuffing. It doesn't take long, though, and I so far have always managed to remember it. We had a small Thanksgiving this year, with only seven adults and only my two kids. It was kind of nice to not have 16-20 people in my house, though.
As usual, the kids are growing well. Here H is showing me a "friend bug" she caught. She has named box elder bugs friend bugs because they are slow moving (translation: easy to catch), do not bite, are common, and are surprisingly long lived in captivity. She doesn't much like spiders, but she could catch friend bugs all day.
Z celebrated his one year birthday, and Ryan's parents brought us a cupcake for the occasion. He basically posed for this picture.
It's like these two pictures of the kids are the same pose! They are each a variation of "Look what I have, Mommy!!"