Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Funnies

Can you even imagine being so obsessed that you would put this on the back of your pickup?
We were driving behind this vehicle on Thanksgiving night and I couldn't help but take a picture.

On Thanksgiving morning this is what I found in the cracked corn.
The kids decided to capture him and place them in there catch and release tank.
As we were preparing the tank Leah was "suppose" to be standing guard.

Suddenly we heard a loud screech come from the barn so Luke and I went running expecting to find that the mouse had bitten her. She hysterically described how it climbed up her arm into her pj's went across her back and then back down her other sleeve. We laughed so hard we had tears running down.

That night the kids went to check on "cheese" and said he was sleeping. A little while later I went out with flashlight and discovered cheese was not sleeping but dead. I'd stay the stress of it all?? It was either that or the cat would have taken him out.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

No Sew Blankets

Isn't she sweet? My niece turned 1 last week and Luke and I made her a "no sew" blanket.
Good thing it did not require sewing because my friend Mary has had my sewing machine for the last 8 years or so because of my lack of patience to operate the darn thing. I know where it is if I ever develop any patience (highly unlikely). I made the kids a bigger version of these blankets 2 years ago and they may be getting a couple new ones shortly but we will keep that hush, hush for now. I learned how to do this from my c0-worker Pam and to refresh my memory this time around I did a Google search and there are a couple good sites with pictures.

Supplies needed:

~2 pieces of fleece, one plain colored and the other with a pattern
(2 yards of each)

~ good pair of scissors - I bought some new ones and they are now in hiding from the kids

~ 4" square cut out of cardboard

You will need a big area to work. The above blanket is only made out of 1 yard because she is just a little tike so I was able to make it on the table but the 2 yard blankets I make on the floor.

Step 1 : Lay fabric out wrong sides facing together.

Step 2 : Using the cardboard as a measuring tool cut a 4" square out of all 4 corners.

Step 3: Pick a side to start with. Fold back material to that 4 " depth and go down sides cutting 1" strips (I just eyeball it, this blanket is very forgiving). I cut all 4 sides before knotting.

Even the kitties love these blankets!

Get the idea?

WARNING: Injuries may occur in the making of this blanket!
See those band aids on my boys thumb? Fleece burn from knotting.

Step 4: Start knotting the 1" strips.

There you have it!
1 no-sew blanket. Total cost $9.50
Everyone loves them, GREAT GIFT for ALL AGES!!

P.S. I am way behind on comments I will catch up shortly I promise!
Upcoming post on wreath making.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I am Thankful For...

I am thankful for... Angie at Children in the Corn and Linda at A Truckers Wife.

They both presented me with the butterfly award. I am also thankful for the Hot Blog award handed over from my other blogging friend, Grey Wolf at Two Old Cripples.


If I wasn't so stinking pooped and stuffed from today's events I'd pass these along BUT since I like to break rules I will just end it in saying YOU ALL have wonderful blogs!

There are many blogs I read although I do not have time to visit them daily. I do catch up and read back whenever I get a chance. I read an array of blogs from homesteading, hunting, self-sufficiency, animal loving, parenting, and even some that are somewhat religious (although I am not the least bit religious per se. I do believe in prayer and God) I just don't get into following what one group feels is the "right way". I have my own beliefs and my own way of doing things. I do not need to go to church and kneel on the benches when I can go in my back garden and kneel on soft dirt while reflecting on my life. To me the outdoors is my chapel. Don't mean to rant, just my opinion! (Too many years in catholic school) What I am getting at is that we all are so different but we all bring something to the table and there is so much to learn from one another. That is what I love most about blogging!

Since I started blogging in March I have done and tried so many new things. I contribute it to the new path I've taken in my my life along with all the new things I've learned from my blogging friends . I just want to say... Thanks for being REAL. Thanks for the SUPPORT you all offer in hardships. Thanks for the ADVICE you give and Thanks for sharing all of your great IDEAS.

There are many more things I am thankfull for, my family, my friends, this farm, my health, but I share that with you throughout the year and today I thought would be a good time to show my gratitute to my fellow bloggers.

On a final note, THE WINNERS of my giveaway are.......SARAH so girl you best be going to get your ears re-pierced because those fish earrings will be headed your way via snail mail and MANDIE those colorful earring are all yours but there will be a slight delay as I am waiting for my headpins to arrive. If you both leave me a comment with your e-mail addresses I will contact you asap.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Are You My Momma?

As Leah layed on the couch Cookie latched on to her toe and suckled for quite some time.
What can I say? We are easily entertained!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Making Earrings 101 & GIVEAWAY

Supplies needed: sterling silver hooks, sterling head pins, sterling silver balls, needle nose pliers,
small wire cutters, glass beads.

I order all my silver products from Fire Mountain
Sometimes I get beads from there but I get most of them through local craft stores.

1st step : gather your supplies

2nd step: Assemble to your liking. I often use this pattern but there are tons of variations. I sometimes photocopy peoples earring, cut pictures out of magazines, or just peak around the www for ideas.

3rd step: Cut your head pin. Length is crucial and curl the wire. (I suggest practice with cheap stainless head pins) See the video of Maine Man doing this below. He helps me with this too, aren't I spoiled to have such an all around man? He does everything from slaughtering the chickens, laundry, and yes helping me make earrings.
That always drives my buddy Mary crazy because she does her own cutting and curling. She's just jealous! ;)

While I am talking about Mary she is the one who deserves ALL credit for this post as she was the one who introduced me to this. She is the "Martha" of earring making. She has 2 kilns and does all kinds of fancy stuff with fused and dichroic glass. Here's a picture of us a couple years ago when she got married. We go WAY BACK, we've been best friends for 20 years. I was the rebel kid that moved next door. She is more like a sister and let me tell you I had some dirt of her in that diary that went up in flames.
Ain't she cute? The bitch, I mean my buddy still gets carded. That ceased years ago for me.

When I am making earrings I often use an egg carton to put them into after they are assembled just to keep parts together and earring pairs matched up.

This is an earring I have from years ago that I saved. I want to make a pair using silver. I just bought some beads similar to. I just need some wire to wrap with.

These are a real easy pair to make, just add a hook. I bought the pewter fish pieces through fire mountain. They could be yours just leave a comment and let me know which one is your first choice and I'll mail them to you if you get picked.

These are already spoken for but I am going to the craft store this morning to get some more and as soon as my Fire Mountain order arrives with my headpins I'll mail you out a pair if you prefer these. I made these for a friend at work and she wore them ALL the time and says she got tons of compliments until she lost one. She begged me to make her another one "All I want for Christmas is..." is really how she put it and of course Santa came through. If these are the earrings you choose you will get them but there will be a delay. I am a woman of my word!

Choose from the 2 pair of earring just above, leave a comment with your e-mail or check back in to see if your the lucky one.
Giveaway deadline.....THANKSGIVING EVE at Midnight! Off to my nieces 1st birthday party!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Great White Hunters

Good news, I have My Maine Man back!

Now it is my turn take a few strolls out in to the wood searching for the infamous "White Tail". I am not much of a hunter but I usually go out a few times a year because I know it makes John happy. Back in my 20's I took a hunter's safety course and John took it right along with me although he did not need it. I vividly remember how much the instructors razed me because I was of the opposite sex. Before buying this place John always purchased my annual hunting license. Now I get to hunt with a land owners permit and the sweetest part about that is, there are No costs involved and I can shoot buck or doe if I ever get the opportunity.

In years to come both of our kids will be able to take advantage of their lifetime hunting, fishing, and archery licenses.

Anyway, this is probably the 8 or 9th season I have went out but I've yet to see a deer while I am hunting until TODAY! I must say I was a LITTLE EXCITED! We were both off and I had plans: cleaning house, heading the gym, and picking up a few groceries until John started hinting around that he wanted to take me out hunting. I must admit, I really had NO interest in going out back and freezing my toots off to come back empty handed as ALWAYS! (That is nobodies fault but my own because I do not put my time in.) So I bundled myself up and went towards the back forty. Just a few minutes after I got to my designated area I heard something. A deer ran just in front of me through the brush. I stood up, took my gun off safety (heart beating about 200 beats per minute) and then I did not know what to do. My gut instinct was to run after the deer as it looked like it might be heading for the field but I froze for fear that the right thing was to stay still which I had already screwed up on. Regardless it was exciting and I feel now that I do have hope and with a bit more effort I may shoot one some day.

I am glad that I blew off my initial plans and instead went out hunting with John. It was refreshing to feel the cool fall air against my cheeks, take notice of the different scents in the air, and admire the change in scenery since the last time I was in the woods . As I sat quietly I noticed so much more than I do when I am out for a walk. I was aware of every breath I took, the nest in the tree, the sound of the wind, the trees rubbing against one another, some birds chattering from a distance. SO SERENE!

We also had a good laugh. Before we headed out I pumped myself with some diet pepsi. ( I know I said in a previous post I quit but...I fell off the wagon) Caffeine goes right through me so we had to make a few pit stops. I successfully made it through the first but the second stop did not go so smooth. I am cold-blooded so I wear LOTS of layers. I took off my orange vest, camo jacket, wool sweater, hooded sweatshirt all to undo my overalls (which are the ONLY pair of pants that I can fit long john's under), to pull down my camo pants, overalls, and long john's all to just briefly relieve myself (if I was only a guy). A second later John says "your gonna pee on your straps" followed by the snap of the branch that I was holding onto and I fell backwards somehow catching myself but in a very awkward position. We both bellowed out in laughter and my Maine Man held out his hand and assisted me back to my feet.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Change of Season

Winter is sneaking upon us and this darn time change is a drag! I find by 4pm I am racing around to get my night time chores done so I do not have to do them via flashlight. John is in the process of wiring the shed and the barn, there is hope. We have been here for 2 years come January but we still have SO much to do! When we bought the farm it was literally most peoples worst nightmare. For us it was our ONLY chance of getting some of the things we wanted: lots of land, a farm house, barn, and couple farm ponds. The bathroom was 4 walls, 2 windows, and a tub, and that IS IT! No sink, no toilet. John, my brother Steve, and a hired friend had to sheetrock the ENTIRE house: 3 bedrooms, 2 living rooms, halls, kitchen, and 2 bathrooms. Followed by LOTS of mudding, sanding, and painting. They laid birch flooring through most of the downstairs and did lots of plumbing and electrical work. Most of that was done in one month prior to us moving in when John was on school break. We could have never accomplished such an INSANE goal if it hadn't been for all the HARD work and LONG hours STEVE and JOHN put in and from the help of our friends. THANK YOU again Steve...I know you are one of my faithful SILENT (only on-line) readers.
Although we are always puting around on a recent task I must complete is painting the wood room's floor, I painted the walls barn yard red and I LOVE it!
Next is TRIM and half walls for my kitchen. John swears to me it will be done by the holidays and I am assuming Christmas because Thanksgiving is just around the corner and there is NO site of pine boards and polyurethane. I figure if I get this in writing he may accomplish this....I swear it is ALL I want for Christmas!!!!
I am afraid until John gets a deer My Maine Man WILL NOT put on his carpenter belt. So PLEASE send out some good vibes, cyber prayers, ANYTHING so this Great White Hunter can Get er' done because I WANT my HUSBAND BACK and of course a little finish work. :)

Boy, I really got side tracked, that's the ADD kickin' in. Back to this darn time change.... After chores, dinner, helping the kids with their homework I am just about done for the night. Ready to cuddle up in bed with a book, my lap top, and well of course, My Maine Man. I must stop the madness because I have lots of projects, gifts to make, etc. and there are not many more days left.

Real soon I will have a post on making earrings , constructing a wreath, and making a no-sew blanket. I will also have my 1st GIVEAWAY so stay tuned. I promise you all the projects are REAL easy, there is no Martha living here on the farm!

Rock painting anyone? This kept the kids entertained for hours while I made my first time ever pumpkin puree that my blogging friend Angie posted about here. Silly me never knew that you could cook any pumpkin. I always thought they had to be special baking pumpkins.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Incriminating Evidence

Yesterday while cleaning house I found my diaries from junior high and high school. Tucked inside I found letters from friends and this horrendous phone bill. I had a boyfriend that was out of town. (in Juvie joke, proud moment!) This was back in 89. I remember my mother wanted to kill me but, that was a reoccurring theme in high school. I am almost positive I paid the debt. My mom will let me know next time she visits and catches up on my blog.

I have read through these in past years and chuckled but the older I get I have lost my sense of humor about some of the s@#! I've done. There was only one option...............

Goodbye to the old times. The kids do not need to know more then what I choose to tell them.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ugggg, more goat problems! Smores has stones! I'm think it is from his feed although we cut back after the last bad experience. Whethers (fixed males) are also more likely to get them. I have changed his grain to meat goat grain as recommended by the Vet and he is to get 1/4 cup a day total along with unlimited hay.
John told me so, "don't get another whether" and I didn't listen. I always learn the hard way. I was impulsive and wanted to mend my boys heart asap buying a replacement for Oreo. Thankfully after our previous goat experience I recognized the problem and he was treated immediately.

Bob and his girls are now keeping house in the barn. Their sweet little Momma opens the barn door at noon every day and sets them free for an afternoon of free ranging.
They do not always return to their laying boxes when their free ranging, so there is no getting out of jail until they pay their dues.


Barn Animals: (We have downsized for the winter) We are down to 2 goats, 4 pigs (ones the neighboors), 32 layers, 1 duck

Garden: I have 4 turnips left to pull and John planted 3 types of garlic.

Kitchen: I have been doing lots of cooking with some of my favorites being : blueberry zest, turkey stew, and blueberry pound cake. John is really loving my cooking too. How does that old saying go? "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach." Right, well I can think of another body part but we'll save that for another time!

I am in love with my stocked freezers, our root vegetables, and my canned goodies. I hope to get a pressure canner by next summer and plan to put up even more food next season. I learned lots this year by trial and error and from my fellow bloggers.

Weather: We have had lots of rain here in Maine over the last couple weeks. Today we had SNOW flurries intermittently! The wood stove had some rest for a couple days only:(
We MUST clean the chimney this week!

Gas prices: We are at $2.20 in our small town. I am sure we will be back up near $5.00 again by next summer, they are just playing us.

Pajama Tale - I have never believed much in Pj's although they are my FAVORITE attire! (Ok, except for baby PJ's, I couldn't resist those!) To me it is not necessary to go out and spend a fortune on "LL Bean" PJ's for the entire family.
Yoga pants, sweats, t-shirts/sweatshirts, WHATEVER's comfy! I usually buy the kids some Pj's for their b-day and Christmas but that's about it. Luke says to me tonight "You know, the kids at school do not do what we do for pj's. " I say "what do they do, wear only bought pajamas? He says, "yes". I asked him if that made him feel bad that we were different and he said "no". Then I proceed to say "We are not like other people, and that is ok, we lead our own path."
Then I asked him if he were to have to choose to have more pajamas, more toys/games with a Mom & Dad that worked more or would he rather have less and make due with a Mom and Dad that was home lots and he choose the life we live. He's my boy!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

What is a buying club?

What is a buying club?
A food buying club is a group of people who pool their food orders so that they may purchase food and products from the warehouse at wholesale prices or discounted rates. Members of a buying club share the work and expenses involved in acquiring and distributing the food to their group. Each member contributes to the buying club by doing at least one job, and the buying club in turn benefits from the talents and skills of many.

Why join one?
In addition to being able to access and purchase high quality natural and organic foods and products and the cost savings available from buying directly from the farms/local businesses, there are many other reasons to start or join a buying club:
*to get to know other people with similar interests from your community
*to support your local farmers
*to be a part of a cooperative food system that is owned and controlled by *people who use the products, and to work together to serve your needs
*to revitalize your neighborhood, small town or rural area by gaining access to high quality natural foods and products which might not otherwise be available
*to learn more about food, nutrition and cooking

I borrowed the above info with some modifications from the California Organic Growers.

Below is an article about buying clubs that was published in a Maine newspaper recently.

Buying clubs ‘win-win’for farmers, consumers
Sarah Gabrielson of Machias, holding her infant Ezra, unpacks her order from Tide Mill Farms of Edmunds. Gabrielson is the coordinator of one of three buying clubs in Machias, a system that provides fresh from the farm produce, dairy and meat products. Buying clubs are particularly popular in rural areas where there are great distances between farms or a farmers' market is lacking. They are providing consistent income for farmers and consumers are setting them up from Portland to Machias.
By Sharon Kiley Mack
BDN Staff

MACHIAS, Maine — Sarah Gabrielson unpacks the brown paper bag and the “oohs” and “aahs” begin.

“Look at the color on those eggplants,” she says, grabbing for a fresh bean and eating it raw. The bag is full: yellow beans, tomatoes, Swiss chard, kale, potatoes, blueberries, yellow and green squash. She already has put the gallons of fresh milk and some artisan goat cheese in her refrigerator.

Every Thursday bags full of fresh food are delivered right to her kitchen door by the farmer who grows it because she belongs to one of several area buying clubs.

Similar clubs of people banding together and purchasing from local farmers are springing up all over the state, from Portland to island communities off Mount Desert Island to Calais on the Canadian border. They are thriving in Bath, Augusta, Auburn and Brooksville. Machias alone has three vital, growing buying clubs — two that buy directly from Maine farmers.

“This is down-to-earth marketing, directly between farmers and new consumers,” John Harker of the Maine Department of Agriculture said Monday. Harker recently obtained a $55,000 federal grant to support developing buying clubs in Maine. “Buying clubs are a great way to get quality food at a reasonable price, usually less than the grocery store or farmers market, and in a convenient fashion.”

Rather than sit back and wait for the farmers — who are so busy growing and producing they often don’t have the time for marketing — to come to them, club members bring their orders directly to the farms. The idea is similar to the cooperatives that sprang up in the 1970s, but technology has made it even easier.

Gabrielson runs one club with 40 people on its e-mail list. “Each week about 15 people participate,” she said. “We began this last summer when several of us discovered we were driving out, separately, to Tide Mill Farm in Edmunds. ‘Why are we all doing this?’ we thought.”

Gabrielson volunteered to be the coordinator and each week she e-mails a list of available items — fresh organic produce, milk, cheese, meat and herbs — to each member. But because this is rural Washington County, some members don’t have a telephone — much less Internet service. Those members come to Gabrielson’s home and place their orders.

Gabrielson passes the orders on to Carly del Signore at Tide Mill Farm, whose farm holds a farmers market, sells to co-ops and natural food stores, and supplies four Down East buying clubs.

Kim Roos and her husband, Don, recently began supplying one of the Machias clubs with goat cheese and soap from their 16-goat dairy in Jonesboro.

“I think the clubs are a very good marketing tool,” Roos said. “The farmers markets all end in October and basically dry up when the tourists leave. We are hoping the club members will help carry us through the winter.”

Gabrielson said the prices are not wholesale. “There is not enough volume for the farmers,” she said. But the gas and time savings of not having to travel are significant. Each Thursday de Signore delivers the fresh goods to Gabrielson’s home for members to pick up, each paying a $1 drop-off fee. In exchange for coordinating the club, Gabrielson is paid in fresh food.

“I love supporting Carly and her farm. The food is wonderful,” Gabrielson said. “I also get food credit and am able to provide my family with good, local food.” An at-home mom of two young children, Gabrielson treasures the relationships that have grown from the club. “One woman lives in the senior citizen living complex and walks here every Thursday,” she said. “These kind[s] of connections are invaluable.”

Inez Lombardo lives a short walk from Gabrielson. “I love getting my veggies from Tide Mill. Since I don’t have a car, I really appreciate that Carly brings freshly picked produce or meats and milk into town. Buying clubs are a more efficient way to distribute what is grown or produced locally. Buying locally strengthens our local economy and I like that my dollars are supporting local farmers.”

A buying club can be as simple or as comprehensive as the members want to make it, Jim Cook of Crown O’Maine Organic Cooperative said. Cook serves a number of clubs from Aroostook County to Portland.

Usually a few friends, neighbors, co-workers or school-mates get together to buy and split up a few cases of food in a member’s kitchen or garage, he said.

Harker said the cooperatives of the 1970s disappeared because everyone shared in the administration, and when the co-ops grew quickly and expanded into cooperative stores, people often balked at the extra work. Buying clubs cut down on administrative duties and usually have just one or two organizers, making them much more manageable, he said.

“With the grant we just received, we have three goals,” Harker said, “to build farmer awareness, start new clubs through education, and increase online ordering systems.”

Elizabeth Sprague, small-business coordinator for Washington County’s Down East Business Alliance, said that from an economic point of view “buying clubs work really well for producers, stabilizing their markets somewhat. Clubs are a win-win for both consumers and farmers.”

John Harker will hold a workshop on buying clubs at the January 2009 Maine Agricultural Trades Show, and there will be a regional meeting in November in Fairfield, with the Western Mountains Alliance as host. For more information contact Tanya Swain at 778-3885.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Biting off more than I can Chew?

Is anyone part of a buying club? I have been doing a bit of research on local buying clubs
and if I do not find one to join I was contemplating starting one? Any thoughts/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Why I Love My Munchkins!

Cat and Fencer

We went into I-party, they had a $20 limit for each of them. I told them to think outside the box. Don't buy a kit. Be original or unique and we left spending $10 total, I was pleased!
Leah is original being a kitty, excuse the paint job I messed with it several times before leaving the house because somebody couldn't keep her paws off. Luke, I'd say unique! He received many compliments for his costume.

I love that our children... are genuinely happy individuals

I love that our children...are conscious of others when they make decisions.

I love that our children...are content to just be together as a family.

I love that our children...are imaginative, self entertaining, resourceful, appreciative, and independent.
(Most days)

Recent Conversations/Situations

~Me: "Look around at the coats, if you do not see something you like we can go to other stores."
~Luke: "I like this one! How much is it? (Looks at tag) It is $25, if it is too much I don't have to get it."

~Luke: "The only thing I want for Christmas is a guitar, you don't have to buy me anything else."

~Luke and Leah over the weekend set up a "candy store" for John and I to purchase our fixes. Nicely laid out on their desk. Today I walk over to the temptations and I see the closed sign is up.

~Over the weekend we had lobster for dinner ($3.99/lb) the kids were so delighted you would have thought they just got an X-box or something.

Sorry for the brag is not always peaches and cream!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Local Resources

Since starting our adventure here and progressively growing and raising more of our own food I am amazed at the interest people have in this lifestyle. Many of my co-workers have expressed that they would prefer to buy from a farm rather than the supermarket. So the first site is for the locals and the other two are for all to peek at.

Here are a few great sites I have come across:

Maine State Conservation Center
This site links farmer's markets in your area and CSA farms.
It also has a section on alternative energy sources.

Eat Wild
Has a directory of pasture based farms in addition it
highlights the nutritional benefits
of eating grass fed products.
Great site I look forward to doing a bit more exploring here!
I believe this site is one of the ways
Nita at Trappers Creek markets her meat.

Here is a
recipe site I came on some of the links, you will be impressed! I plan to make the Strawberry White Chocolate Muffins tomorrow.

I have fallen behind on reading blogs, promise to catch up this week. Goodnight! :)