Saturday, September 26, 2015

Kindergartener, Trim staining, and Disappearing 4 patch

Since my last post, I put a kindergartener on the school bus. I'm really not broken up about it; she is ready and likes school. I never rode the bus (I lived too close to school), so it's very nice to just put her on the bus in the morning (at 7 AM!!) and know that she'll get there. 

We had an old post on the farm that had rotted off and was holding a gate, so Ryan pulled it. After doing so, we determined it was almost entirely hollow; I know this is insect damage, but I'm not sure what kind. I think it's kind of pretty, in an I'm-glad-it's-in-my-pasture-and-not-my-house kind of way.

And here Ryan and our friend Jared are rehanging the gate on the other post on the other side. 

In the house, I've been doing a lot of sanding and staining. We're using light stain, so there isn't usually a big contrast between our before and after. Stairs before:
Stairs after:
I've also been finishing and setting up more closets, here is my closet. It's the largest closet I have ever had, and it's just the right size without being overlarge. Of course, because it's bigger than anything I've had, it's not very full and in the bottom right if you think you see quilting materials, you're totally right.

In other farm news, we had a day where the turkeys managed to break out. They've been growing pretty well this year, which is a blessing. Here Ryan works on putting them back in their paddock. 

We also attended Penoach Winery's Apple Festival a couple of weekends ago to sell some meat and H enjoyed the wagon rides they were having. She spent hours all morning riding the wagon and chatting up the drivers. 

We tried to take some cows to the sale barn but after chasing them for over 2 hours, we failed. There is one cow in particular (she's old and wily) that we want to sell, but we were unable to catch her. I think we need some cowboys and lassos. In the meantime, Z and I hung out and took selfies. 

This is after Ryan lifted him over the gate:

I did finish a quilt for a friend of mine who is having a baby in March, the pattern is just a simple disappearing four patch made with all of my novelty animal prints (I apparently have way too many of those).

At a school rally, H picked up some truly ridiculous glasses. She's judging you right now:

And I will leave you with this beautiful sunrise from a few days ago. The weather is currently at the perfect time of the year that early fall brings us in Iowa.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Closet, Green Boy Quilt, and Jenga

As is typical every few months, the tractor died. This time it died down the road from our place about a half a mile while moving hay. It appears to have been due to junk in the fuel line, but I did remember to take a picture this time. It's a measure of how far we've come since moving to the country that I just brought Ryan the truck, he chained up the tractor, and I drove the truck while he steered the tractor back to the house with a minimum of fuss. Then he was able to clear the fuel lines without a lot of trouble and get her running again. All of that seems small, but there was a time when it would have been a big deal!

Adjusting to the new house is going well, it's kind of nice we are close to the cattle when they are in some pastures. One morning I woke up to this outside our window; all of the calves were just hanging out in the sunrise.
Obviously I took that picture through the screen on the window, sorry about that.

As for the house itself, we've continued to work on small tasks. Here is H's closet with some shelves hung on the wall. I still have one more bar to hang to the right of the shelves, but I think it will serve her well. 

We also got the last retaining wall done, next will be the deck. We have that scheduled for early-mid August, so we will see how that goes!

Ryan also had an interesting adventure one day last week. So marijuana is a weed in Iowa. Not the kind you can smoke or make hemp out of, but its more boring cousin. It grows 7 feet tall all across our property where the soil was disturbed (which is most of the property) and we didn't get it mowed while it was still 1-2 feet tall. It's relatively resistant to any kind of herbicide (and if we spray it, other things around it tend to also die), and the stalks are also fairly thick and hard to cut. So Ryan was contemplating buying a machete. Then he thought about the sword his mother gave him for an 18th birthday present. While I thought this sounded fairly crazy, he sent me evidence that the crazy idea of cutting down the weed with a sword actually worked:

On the quilting front, I finished the quilt for my new nephew (Ryan's sister's son) who was born in March. It was inspired by "Snowflake Baby Girl Quilt" by MelissaHevey on Etsy

Here's the back, pieced with scraps:

And a detail with the tag. 

The kids are doing well, here they are playing in the sandbox:

Ryan's dad reads to Z (Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg - that book is so fun. We love it and read it a lot).

Z plays (as always) with things with wheels. That is a car on top of a tractor that is pulling a manure spreader (he calls it a trailer) that is carrying another two or three trucks.

And last night we went to Sunset in the Vineyard at Penoach Winery. It was a beautiful night with great music, and we enjoyed playing Giant Jenga that they had set up. The band is behind me while I take this picture. 

And then, of course, the inevitable always happens at the end of Jenga....

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Concrete, Grading, and Field Day

House changes are definitely more subtle now, the latest is getting the grading done around the house and putting in our concrete. It's very nice to have the use of our front door now and it's also helping a lot with the mud.

Here H is modeling one of our retaining walls, which was part of the grading work.

Here Z enjoys the freshly poured concrete ramp out front.

We've also been working on the trim in our house, here is trim with the quarter round we installed on it. 

We also are at the beginning of our production season, so here Ryan is rolling up some polyline in front of our chicken tractors. 

I was helping gather posts for him.

Z and H were out there "helping" too.

The other major event around here is that yesterday we hosted a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day on high tensile fence building. We had a little over twenty attendees come to learn about building fence and eat lunch at our new farm!

As you would expect, it was exciting and stressful and fun, and Ryan did a great job of teaching and facilitating discussion.

Ryan even managed to shock himself on a line during the workshop that shouldn't have been live. We met some people nearby, even a couple miles away, which was a great way to make connections in a new place.

The kids are doing well, here Z works with play-doh at the daycare he attends about one day every couple of weeks.

Here H found a farm kitty at the farm where we buy our feed, which was a highlight of her day. 

Lastly, we have found some pictures of Ryan from when he was just slightly younger than Z. See the resemblance?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


So in the month or so since I blogged last, what I've done most is tile. There was a stretch in there that I tiled or installed cementboard for every day for 9 days in a row. As a friend told me, tiling is the quintessential project that you think will take a short time, and instead takes forever. 

This is the lovely floor tile that is in our mudroom, upstairs bathrooms, and entryway. It's actually the tile they use at Casey's General Store, so I felt like I got a good deal on it, and it's beautiful and durable. 

That picture is the only area of my house where the tile is DONE because I had to put a washer and dryer on top of it. But it is pretty!

My stepdad and I also put up 1/2" cementboard in the shower/bath surrounds (that stuff is the DEVIL. Worst substance to work with EVER. Dusty, hard to cut, fiddly, pain in the butt).

We also built in some wall niches to hold shampoo and whatnot. 

Then in the kids' bath I covered the seams with fibertape
And then painted over the whole shower with RedGuard to waterproof it before tiling. When they say RedGuard is Pepto Bismol pink, they mean it. And it does dry to fire engine red.

I have more tile than this on now, but this is what the kids' bath surround looks like. It's mostly off-white with a stripe of blue. I'm just going for simple and classic as much as I can.

We also got our cabinets installed, and really everything else. It's now a functional house and we've been living in it for about two weeks.

Here it is after countertops

Then we got carpet in the bedrooms

Even when I wasn't tiling, we were still laying drainage tile for our gutter runoff.

We've had several mishaps in this process, as you might expect.

Last night the septic alarm went off on our septic system, so we ended up reburying the electrical line. Having a backhoe on the tractor has been the BEST THING EVER while building the house. 

We also had issues with the bathroom vanities. We have three bathrooms, and we ended up with three failures on the vanities. The first had a drawer in the wrong place (our pipes come through the floor, the drawer needed the pipes to come through the wall); the second the countertop was too shallow for the cabinet; and the third the countertop was too narrow for the cabinet. Sigh. So after some rearranging, returning, and repurchasing, we finally had three workable bathroom vanities. That was a frustrating day.

Then we've had garage door issues. This is one of those things where if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself. The garage doors were built too large (how hard is it, really, to build it the right size?) and I didn't catch it. So we had to add 2x6s to the edges until the garage doors won't gap.

Last, but definitely not least, we have the internet. We specifically sited our house because it was a location where there was DSL internet. We called the phone company, checked maps, and were told it was available. Turns out, that's a lie. The nearest internet lines are 2 miles away, and we are told it would be $6500-$10,000 to hook it up. I'm not giving up yet, though, because in my book internet is a utility like power and water. So we're pursuing options, especially since that hookup would put seven households online. Either way, that's one reason for more intermittent blogging (not that it's an excuse). 

In the sewing world, I actually did sew something this month. My niece had a birthday, so I made my kids and my nieces superhero capes. They were pretty easy and were a decent toy for the four of them.
I just used a knit fabric so I wouldn't have to hem (although I did zigzag the edges). 

Also on the kid front, H had a birthday earlier in the month.
She's doing fairly well with the move and everything, it's been harder that she's out of school now. She does better with the structure of a school day, of course.

I love this picture of her dancing in our new house just after the trim and cabinets were put in. It captures her attitude about everything so well.

I've also been trying to do more fun things with her, both because she's old enough and because I don't want to just be all work and discipline to her. So we went for a mommy-daughter pedicure date on the last day of school. She chose bright blue glitter polish and loved it.

We also went for sorbet on a separate occasion. 

Z is also growing up, we're working on his transition to a big boy bed. We'll also be doing potty training here soon, I think.

He really is such a curious and contemplative child, it amazes me. He found our box of magnetic toys and excitedly rushed to put them on the fridge.
But that wasn't the amazing part. The amazing part was that I told him we were going to go and get in the car. Thirty seconds later he hadn't come out to the car so I went back to check on him. He was hurriedly but carefully taking each magnet back off the fridge and putting it back in the box. He didn't want to leave until it was all "pick up put away".
He's not like that with everything (I definitely find toy cars EVERYWHERE), but I couldn't exactly tell him to stop putting things away and come out to the car, now could I? 

I'm still excited about the new house, and as I told Ryan, I'm excited about what we're building on the family farm.