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Sunday, February 24, 2019

"Adventures, Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!"

 Times, they are a changing...At least here on the farm, they are! Last time I wrote was 6 months ago and I said we were getting the farm ready to sell.  Well, we are STILL getting the farm ready, but we've made a lot of progress and are almost done.

Way back at the first of November, we made an offer on a piece of land just a few miles from family but a long ways from home.  It is a complicated 'short sale' and we are still waiting!  It seems as though it might finally be resolved one way or another this next week, but time will tell.

We sit in the mornings with our coffee in hand and chat about the business of the day.  "Are we up for this adventure?"  "Can we build another house?"  "Are we too OLD for all this???"  and other mornings, we ARE those long ago 20-year-olds, newly married and ready for whatever life and the Good Lord put in our path!

If all goes accordingly, at the new 18 acre farm, we will 'gut' a little cabin (picture above) & re-model the inside; build a garage and put our home up for sale in preparation to move.  Once the house is sold, we will simultaneously move our 39+ year accumulation of STUFF to the 'new' place, live in a cabin and build a new house!  Whew!

Sigh.  I have a history of panic attacks/anxiety disorder and this long wait & thoughts of moving are keeping me right on the edge, for sure.  You can bet that prayers for peace & health are right there on the top of my list every day!  God is faithful and I'm holding together...mostly.  I recently read a line from one of Elisabeth Elliott's books that really struck me and I'm trying to remind myself of it when I start to get overwhelmed:  "Just do the next thing."  Biblical, for sure, as He tells us not to be anxious about tomorrow.  It's always tempting to imagine all the things ahead (both good and bad!) but really, we just need to get through today.

We won't plant a garden this year - that right there will be really strange.  We've always had a a matter of fact, I can't remember a year we did't have at least a small one.  I'm planning to stop my Ebay & Etsy stores if our purchase goes through and we've whittled our farm animal population way down.  I've still got 8 keeper rabbits, 8 members of the goat herd and a handful of hens.
 The best part about moving is that we'll be closer to our grandbaby & more family.  He is, of course, the cutest child ever to exist - even cuter than my own children were!  And, to make the future even brighter, he is going to be a big brother in August!  Blessing upon blessing!

So, simpler, more down to earth farm life for today:  I sewed up a bunch of primitive pigs this morning, made a backing for a quilt that I'm going to put on my quilting frame, made Veggie Beef Soup & Focaccia bread for dinner and chased a baby goat all over the bottom of the field (outside the fence!) until we finally caught her and deposited her back in the field with her mama!  The sad bleating was what alerted us to her plight, but she did NOT appreciate us trying to rescue her, nonetheless!  The others were VERY helpful - gathering round and dancing about in goat-ful glee that we had come out to play!

 We are enjoying homemade cocoa almost every evening now that the goats are milking again - unsweetened cocoa powder, honey, our own vanilla and goat milk!  What could be better?  (Maybe toast and jam to go with?)

We've been (shhh, don't tell anyone!) buying cheap Vodka at our Costco store....and making extracts!!!   We've got bottles of vanilla and now some AMAZING bottles of orange extract as well!  Such fun!  You'd have laughed to see us trying to find Vodka the first time - I've never bought alcohol in my life and we had to look at a lot of bottles before we found it.  Who knew there were so many varieties, lol??

Well, that's the update from the Hilltop.  All is well and we're learning patience (are we?).  Well, we're trying!  Until next time....

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy path."   Proverbs 3:5-6 
P.S.  I ask you, is he not the most precious and adorable, sweet & lovable, cute, smart and smilingest (is that a word??) boy you've ever SEEN????  This Grammy is smitten (could you tell?).

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Smitten & Besotted

 When I was a little girl, I remember the day before Christmas as one of the longest days in my life.  We celebrated Christmas at my beloved maternal grandparents house every year on Christmas Eve and that day took FOREVER to finally be evening and for all the rest of the family to arrive for food & presents! 

Well, life has sped up considerably and the last 5 months have zipped by like an express train!

 April 8th found us driving about 2  hours to the hospital to wait for our very first grandbaby to be born!  We loved him on sight and have only become more besotted & smitten as the days have gone by!  I gained my grandma name (GrammyPammy) and gave a huge part of my heart away! 

In between visits with that special little guy, life on the farm does go on, lol!  I found an elk antler in our field on a walk in April....We picked gobs of cherries from our Montmorency Pie Cherry tree this year.
Between our patch and my sweet neighbor Jean's patch, we got a bazillion delicious strawberries for fresh eating & winter jams & jellies!

Our daughter and her little family are about a 2 1/2 hour drive away and we have kept the roads well traveled both ways as we get to know our sweet baby boy!

We haven't neglected our favorite Spring & Summer activities, however, and have been to the beach several times.  Washaway Beach in Grayland Washington is still our favorite, and we always stop there to see how much more land the winter storms took away....and we recently bought our almost 30 pounds of fresh albacore tuna and canned it for our shelves.  We've been doing that for quite a few years - one of the big benefits of living so close to the edge of the continent is enjoying the fresh seafood & beautiful ocean beaches.  When I was a baby, my mom & her family used to camp on the beach that no longer exists where the ocean has taken over,
We've made several day trips already this year and it only takes us about an hour & a half to get to Grayland Beach State Park where we like to camp in our trailer, too.

As I write this, we are just back from a day trip once again, this time to enjoy the Westport Washington Art Festival.  Quite a few vendors of art & foods along the main street.  We had fun wandering & visiting, ate lunch at our favorite Bennett's Fish Shack, of course and then stopped for a 'sissy' coffee (as my hubby calls it) on the way home.
 This diftwood art lion and longhorn cow below were on display at the Tokeland Hotel festival a couple weeks ago - also at the beach.  (I told you we go there a lot!)

There were also chain saw artists & local musicians and a pottery vendor.  We each came home with a new handmade coffee mug!
 We've lived on our farm for over 20 years.  Starting from scratch, we built our shop and then lived in it while we built our house.  We moved in on an exciting April Fool's Day and have been through many days, months & years of life here.  We started here with my hubby & I, my mom and our three kids, ages 8, 12 & 15.  That was a lot of life ago.
 When this sweet little guy arrived, it just cemented the idea that, for our family at least, we should live close enough to go through the rest of this life together!  Our plan is to sell the farm and move near the kids and be a blessing & help to them (and them to us!) in the years ahead!

It's a hard thing to think about, for sure.  We love this farm and living so far from the world...but not living so far from the rest of the family!  So, in the months ahead we will be sorting, cleaning, & repairing a bazillion things around here in preparation for a new adventure!
Lord willing, we will still live on a few acres as we're planning to keep up the gardening & animals and Grampa Dave has to have his bees & tractor! 

In the meantime, we're still doing all the harvest stuff, too!  We just made some really yummy jelly from our Hollywood plums and canned that.  The tuna and chicken broth we canned last week just went down to the cellar and on Monday we're canning the pie cherries that we picked and stored in the freezer.  We just put our wildcrafted mint away for our Winter tea and also braided all our garlic and put our onions in their baskets. 
Life is full and happy, the Lord has blessed us greatly and we fully believe that every good and perfect gift comes from Him!  Until next time (and hopefully not such a LONG time!)  Serve the Lord with gladness!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Spring ahead....It's March already!

January and February flew past and life went along like a derailed train!
It started off fine & slow.  I even had time to arrange a wall of my sewing machine museum to my liking.  This is the 'German' wall.  I think the German-made machines are my favorite - with their well-made mechanisms and lovely inlaid wood.
 Then, we had about 4 or 5 acres near the house logged.  It opened up the view and helped us pay off a few bills.
It made the view from the house a lot like it was 20 years ago when we first built the house and the trees were just babies.  Fir trees are an amazing crop - those trees were less than 4 ft tall when we moved here and now they've been harvested!  Next year we'll replant and it'll start all over!
 The goats have kidded and we've got just 4 youngsters to raise this year.  I held back last years' kids and will breed them next Fall.
Our three girls kidded without any trouble at all this year!  That's Maryanne with Mordecai and Magda just moments after being born.  Shiloh had a doe we named Shinar and Ekaterina, not to be outdone, had a doe we named Egglantine!
These two coffee mugs sat on my grandparents' wood stove each morning to warm up while Grampa made coffee for Grama and himself.  I smile when I look at them, now on the mantel above my cookstove.  Sometimes it doesn't seem quite right that 'things' remain when our beloved people have been gone for so long.

The fixer-upper house deal that my daughter and her husband were waiting on finally went through and the pace of life picked up!  My husband is a builder and his skills are needed!

 Francis and I (Francis is my travelling bear buddy) packed up the camper van and headed North!  We cleaned & hauled and worked on the house.  We drove home again!  We gathered up our suitcases again...and boxed up their little apartment, did more cleaning & repairing and moved them in!  For awhile, when I woke up in the morning I wasn't sure where I was!  And this country girl enjoyed some new city experiences...Did you know that you can actually phone in a PIZZA order and they will bring it HOT to your very DOOR?  Amazing!  considering that we live about 35 or more miles to the nearest pizza place, no one delivers pizza to this farm!
 Thirty five years ago my husband and I had our first daughter...and we looked so very young.  Now, that sweet daughter is 33 weeks along, carrying our precious grandson!  Where did the years go? (I haven't changed a bit, by the way.)

Now I'm home (temporarily) again but fighting the flu bug.  As soon as I get over it, I'll be packing up Francis again and heading for the little house once again, this time to put the kitchen and nursery together!

In the meantime, daily farm life goes on day after day, week after week, much the same...
 Eggs to gather and wash.  Goats to milk and kids to feed.  And always primitives to make for my Ebay and Etsy stores.
 I made myself a happy green slug out of playdough one day.  I don't even like slugs, but this one was kind of cute, don't you think?

Today I've done very little.  Made myself the Potato Soup my sweet mama always made when I was sick.  Mostly sitting in my recliner and impatiently waiting to feel better, lol.
I'm not very good at being sick!  I'd rather be working and the sun was shining today and making me feel like a kid stuck in school on a sunny day!

I started the day with a wicked headache and nasty cough, so my daughter actually did the goat milking chores for me.  She just went out again this evening to feed the goat kids their milk - they get milk twice a day until they're about 8-10 weeks old.  We bottle or bucket feed them so there's milk for the house, too.
 Arthritis in my hands (and me so young, lol) keeps me from milking three goats, so milking machine it is!  The disadvantage is that there's a lot more to clean up when milking by machine and we've been plagued with water problems this year.  First, one of our two low flow wells quit and it's not accessible in the winter.  Then we broke a water line in the freezing weather!
 Besides the fact that he's been working on the kids' house more often than he's been at home, my dear husband also sprained his knee and has been on crutches for the last couple of weeks!  And no, it didn't slow him down much.  Trying to get him to rest is nigh unto impossible!

One day I got hungry and rustled up scalloped potatoes in my crockpot.  Of course I put ham in the other crockpot and dinner just wasn't complete until I made a pecan pie and banana bread!  Wish I had it today, though I can't taste much of anything so I guess it won't make much difference what I eat until this bug is gone!
 Ripley the cat is my faithful sidekick.  He's a funny little guy.  He doesn't like my daughter (who raised him from a kitten!) but loves me!  When he needs to go outside, he walks over and 'tells' her by mewing until she gets up and lets him out the door.  He likes to give her ankle a good swat as he walks by!

This is Rip and I in our favorite recliner chair.  (Oh, and by the way, I lied earlier.  I have definitely changed from 35 years ago, lol.)
We had a few days of ice and snow - while we were travelling back & forth, of course!  It's so pretty, but this year I'm glad it's gone so we can get back to easy driving. 
 The primitives selling business has been ridiculously busy!  I've been coming home from the kids' place to sew/craft/paint like a mad woman!

People have been buying not just seasonal items either, but out of season things like pumpkins, squirrels and bats, oh my!
 This was a couple of weeks ago and now I've got just about as many orders again!  Takes me longer when I'm ill, but I'm still working at it a bit each day anyhow. Now my younger daughter is my partner in crafting, which makes us a lot more productive, working as a team!
Well, that's what's happening here on the hilltop at the moment.  Hubby left this morning to help the kids pick out kitchen cabinets and set them.  He'll be gone for a couple of days working on that.  Then he'll drive back (about 2 3/4 hours) and get caught up at home again!

We're starting to think about the garden - just got a roll of landscape fabric & barnyard bark to work up some raised beds for the strawberries.  I ordered vegetable seeds and will start them as soon as they arrive in the mail...and as soon as I get over the flu!  Stay well and I'll sign in again when I have a chance!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Long Winter's Nap....NOT! Crockpot Marmalade all Made!

The year is nearly over and Christmas is approaching quickly, so I've been trying to get my list of 'must get done' things accomplished.  A Christmas stocking for my new son-in-law was a priority and I did it!

I've still got a quilt in progress and an afghan almost finished, a new, big order of primitives to work on and, of course, the usual everyday stuff so I'm kept hopping!
A little over a year ago I bought Christmas cactus starts on Ebay and they're coming along nicely and blooming so prettily now!  They're upstairs in my sewing/craft room so I'm pretty much the only one who sees them - until now and you can see this one at least!  I've got about 6 or 7 of them.

I asked my hubby for a box of oranges and a bag of lemons and he brought them home the other day.  I've got an amazingly simple method of making Orange Marmalade.  You just put 6 oranges, 4 lemons, and 2 cans of pineapple in your food processor and grind.
Then you add 12 cups of sugar and mix.  Divide between two good-sized crockpots, turn the dial to High & set your timer for 4 1/2 hours.  Slap it in jars, add lids and water-bath can them for 15 minutes.  TA DA!!!  A winter's supply of delicious marmalade!  Well done!

 Ok, so he also brought two 10# bags of organic carrots home and I already had about 10# that our good neighbor shared from her garden, so I canned the extras!  Carrots are easy - scrape, chop and throw in jars.  Add salt & hot water, pressure can for 30 minutes and you've got carrots for your cellar shelves!  I've got a fabulous recipe for Carrot Buns that takes a quart of carrots, so be sure to put some in quart jars!
Remember last time I mentioned that the chickens are laying well and I had 6 or 7 dozen eggs in the fridge?  Well, they're still laying well and today I've got about 10 dozen!  My daughter is coming this weekend and will take them all home for the extended family to enjoy!
These three guys (hard bald eggs, of course) are in my fridge....
 I realized this morning, as hubby and I went about our usual morning routines, that I've been packing him a lunch for over 38 years!  I try to make them tasty and interesting...usually.  Today's menu:  leftover chicken pot pie, tortilla chips, orange slices and 4 homemade chocolate chip cookies....and of course, a love note (very important!).  I have, over the years, sometimes forgotten to put a
fork or spoon in....and (construction work) he has been forced to drink his applesauce or eat his lunch with a carpenter's pencil, lol!  Today I generously included a fork.
 Neighbor Jean and I decided that the two turkeys were both pink ones, so she generously donated the left bird - our new tom!  Hopefully this Spring the girls will start laying and we can hatch turkey chicks!

Zephyr and Zelda are standing in the pile of carrot scrapings they disdained when I generously offered them.  No accounting for taste.  None of the animals wanted them!
 Yes, MaryAnne's eyes are closed in total enjoyment of a rare sunny day here in Western Washington!  I cleaned and filled their water bucket this morning and they gathered around to visit with me.  If you look at the littlest goat in the picture below, you will see that she is smiling happily.
 My older daughter is now 21 weeks along with my new baby GRANDSON!!!!  She had an ultrasound this week and sent me Joshua Lee's first baby picture!

Imagine what our forebears would think if we tried to convince them that we could 'see' the baby and know if it's a boy or girl when the mother was only half-way along!
The sun is streaming into my house today - a rare stretch of cold sunny weather again for us. Our Christmas tree is decorated and at-home daughter is candying orange and lemon peel in preparation for making our annual holiday fruitcake.  The house smells fabulous.  Daughter and Son-in-Law are coming for the weekend and we are truly enjoying God's blessings each day!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Applesauce is in the Cellar and we might have Kids by Christmas!

The weather is finally changing from Indian Summer to Fall here on the hilltop.  We had a long, lovely hot Summer...a big rain storm and major weather change...and then a week of warm, sunny days and chilly nights.  Now, the rains have returned, temperatures have dropped,  and the outside chores are dwindling as we've mostly tucked everything away until Spring.

Tiptoe down to the red cellar door and see how much we've accomplished this canning season!
 Neighbor Jean and I traded veggies, milk....and turkeys!  This is a pair of Midget Whites.  First we thought it was a pink one and a blue one.  Now we're not so sure WHAT they are, lol.
Any guesses?
 The Speckled Sussex hens started laying and they have taken off like rockets!  Well, except for that one teensy weensy egg there....somebody was slacking!

Our birds free range through our orchard, but one of them is a LONE FREE RANGER, lol, as I often see her strolling through the yard or chasing grasshoppers out in the pasture.  It is a time of plenty and I have at least 6 or 8 dozen eggs in my fridge.  I send them home with anyone who stops by, so if you need eggs, you know where to come, lol!
 This is my good and diligent husband of nearly 38 years (yes, we got married at birth...) cleaning our cookstove chimney.  We have a two story house with a very steep roof, but he gets right up there and cleans it out every Fall.  We work together on the inside chimney and inner stove parts and now it's good to go for all those cozy Winter fires.  Everything tastes better cooked on a wood cook stove, by the way.  Just ask your Grandma!
Sometimes Fall here in Western Washington is boring.  It rains, leaves turn brown and fall off.  This year, the colors have been stunning and I have exclaimed many times over all the colorful gifts to view....on trees, in mud puddles, stuck to my shoes....

Seems like there have been a million things to do.  We had a cider-pressing party and after everyone took cider home, we still had 14 gallons to can.  We've been canning apple butter & apple sauce, harvested onions, garlic, squash, tomatoes, raspberries, blackberries....and I'm sure more stuff I've already forgotten!
 This ole King apple is aptly named as it came in at over a pound!  We planted our semi-dwarf trees twenty years ago when we bought this land and are reaping a bounty! 

Today I canned applesauce for my married daughter and her hubby as she is expecting my first grandbaby and lives in a house too tiny to think about canning at the moment.  Did you hear that???  My FIRST GRANDBABY!  Can you say...GrammyPammy?  I'm already starting a collection of toys.  Of course, I've always loved toys and still have quite a few from my own childhood!
Mr. Ripley likes to stare at me while I sit in my chair with my laptop.  After this picture, he proceeded to walk calmly across my keyboard and my screen turned sideways!  I didn't even know it could do that, so of course had to enlist help in getting it back to normal!  No, no...BAD CAT!
 My husband calls my activities at this time of the year "Squirrel Sickness" as I madly harvest, store, dry, can and freeze EVERYTHING in sight so that our nest will be well stocked until the growing season comes 'round again.

In between all the canning, I'm working on a quilt, an afghan and primitives as someone purchases some.
 This is all the apple butter....about 60 pints.  Pancakes are yummy with apple butter!

People usually comment on how busy I am.  It's true, I do a lot of things, but I don't work outside of home, so I have more time to do it all than some.  I'm also a type A, like my mother before me, so I hit the ground running around 5:30 or 6 each morning and don't usually slow down until after dinner.  I LIKE to work.  I LOVE my farm and all the chores.  Sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed and wish I had a few extra hands to help with it all, but still, I'm never bored!

 These are the apples that we turned in the 60 pints of apple butter - three boxes of Liberty apples and two boxes of mixed Kings and Jonagolds.

The gourds and Jack-be-Littles were a gift from my neighbor!

This bread is about 2/3 whole wheat
and 1/3 unbleached flour.  I usually make 5 loaves at a time, but this time I made 3 loaves and 8 big sandwich or hamburger buns.

We joke that even after a trip to the grocery store or Costco, there's nothing to eat around here except ingredients.   That's the only disadvantage to cooking everything from scratch....if you don't cook, you don't eat!

 Life on this farm repeats itself season after season and year after year.  Not everything stays the same, but a lot of it does, and that's a comfort.  Daughter married & moved, but my son & younger daughter pick up where she left off, helping with everyday life and increasing our joy.
My son is a wonderful, Godly young man and he and I enjoy working on a lot of the outdoor projects together.  Yesterday we repaired this fence and moved animals around to their winter pens.  His sheep are now in their winter pen and all the goats are in theirs and waiting for the kidding season....hopefully by Christmas we'll be milking again!  I cleaned the milk room down at the barn and all the milking equipment - probably the first time ever that I'm ready in advance! 

Well, 'nuf of this sitting around with a computer on my lap.  Those ingredients will not be supper-time's meal if I don't get a move on!  I'll leave you with a song that's been blessing me all week...