Two Walls Get a Face Lift

I’m sitting on the front porch this evening after a long, productive day.

Last night I had made up my mind to finally tackle the only two drywall walls downstairs today.  I have procrastinated long enough.  After all, three years is long enough, right?!

I dreaded getting started on them because I knew it would be a lot of work.  Lots of prep work and then several coats of paint to get good coverage.

Here’s one of the walls before I painted…

This wall is in our dining room and took most of the morning to prep.  It’s hard to tell in the photos but this wall was not appealing especially in a dining room.

There was a wallpaper border at the top of the wall that I had removed some time ago but did not take the time, then, to remove the remaining paste.  I spent a good amount of time this morning scrubbing and removing the paste and then giving the wall a thorough washing.

There were holes in the wall below the electrical box when we moved in that we repaired with new drywall.  The repair was done three years ago and the drywall was still bare!

Last, but not least, was scrubbing the baseboards and putting down some painters tape.

Here are the after photos…

It looks much the same except the hunter green baseboards are now a crisp white, the drywall patches are concealed and it just looks fresh and clean. The electrical box needs  to dry completely then I’ll paint another coat (or two) to help hide it and I am still deciding what to hang on the wall.

The other drywall wall that needed some TLC was the stair wall which is across from the fireplace.

Here’s a before photo…

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This is our winter setup.  We basically live in this spot directly in front of the fireplace during the winter months so I move our chairs here.

There is very little natural light in this area so I wanted everything to be white to help brighten the space.

I scrubbed the wall, the hunter green baseboards and the hunter green side of the stairs then painted it all.

Here is an after photo with our custom table CountryBoy purchased in Arkansas a long time ago now in front of the fireplace…

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It’s amazing what a fresh coat of white paint will do!

LizzieBelle is, apparently, not impressed and heading up the stairs to her other bed!

There are still tons of hunter green baseboard to tackle but that’s another day. or days.

After cleaning up the paint mess I walked around the farm and took a few more flower photos…

The yellow irises are beginning to open up and I just had to get another shot of the purple iris.  I have no idea what the white powder puff flowers are but they’re pretty cool.

While I was meandering, CountryBoy was raking up some fresh cut grass for the chicken coop…

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He stayed busy today working on the mower, mowing the paddock, bush hogging and tons of other stuff.  You’da thought I had the vacuum cleaner going all day.  He disappears quick when I pull that thing out of the closet, ha!  But, it was a gorgeous and perfect day to be working outside and that’s what he did.

Another few items that got a face lift today were some Ball jars that we were given some time ago.  Last summer I pulled out the fairly clean ones to sterilize and use immediately and I left the others in the box because they were really dirty and I wasn’t sure it was worth my time to clean them up…

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The other day I happened to pick a few of them up and noticed the Ball logo was that of the years 1923-1933 and from 1933-1962.  I have a good collection of blue Ball jars from those eras but was thrilled to find some clear Ball jars from those same eras.

They are currently on our bathroom counter soaking in some vinegar water with baking soda…

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Can you see the two different logos?  The middle jar does not have a line under the Ball name and is the jar from 1923-1933.  The others are from 1933-1962.  I plan on using these for cut flowers or storage.  Now to dig through the other jars and see what’s there!

 

 

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A Much Anticipated Time of Year

After a long, cold, wet winter we are finally enjoying some beautiful warm Spring weather during the days and cool, crisp nights here in Kentucky.  Nights without frost so you know what that means?  It’s time to get the garden tilled and planted!

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CountryBoy borrowed a friends tractor and tiller which made short work of getting the ground ready.  (He also fixed our washed-out road while he had the tractor making good use of the bucket on the front.)

Once that was done he staked out the rows…

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and we spent a couple of days planting seeds and several of the plants we started in the greenhouse.

Planted so far are corn, potatoes, okra, cucumbers, several types of tomatoes, lima beans, pinto beans, green beans, brussels sprouts, squash, onions, and sunflowers.

Still to plant are green peppers, cayenne peppers, sweet banana peppers, beets, more squash and brussels sprouts, and more tomatoes once they are big enough to transplant. We will direct sow watermelon in the next couple of days.

I am thankful for my greenhouse that we recently added on the side porch.  It is accessible from the mudroom and does a great job of creating a hothouse effect.  A few more small projects and it will be completely finished.

A few days after we finished planting we had a nourishing rain that gave the seeds and plants a good start.  When the rain quit I meandered around the farm with my camera looking for spring flowers.  Here’s what I found…

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The passionflower vines are coming back and are climbing their way up the arbor leading onto our front porch.

The purple irises are beginning to open up…

such beauty…

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After reveling in their beauty I meandered over to the sour cherry trees…

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We may just get some sour cherries this year which we’ll make into jam (or maybe I’ll crush up a few and put into some Kombucha!).

From there I wandered over to the asparagus bed…

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YIKES!  Here is where I had a squirrel moment… I thought after the good rain we had that the weeds would pull up rather easy so I set my camera down and started pulling.  These weeds were not going anywhere without a fight.  Well no weed is going to get the better of me so I trotted off to the greenhouse to get some backup.  My hand shovel could barely break through the thick weeds but I did find some asparagus…

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YUM!  This is our third year since it has been planted so we are free to harvest it this year.  CountryBoy has picked several already and, boy, are they yummy sautéed in some butter, balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with some salt and pepper.  Good stuff!

As I was pulling the weeds I came across some poison ivy.  Oi!  Since CountryBoy can almost just look at it and break out in a rash I started yanking and pulling on it trying to remove it from the root so that it wouldn’t come back.  I got all of it except for a thick root which we’ll pour either some white vinegar or the salt water from homemade ice cream on it or both.  (Good excuse to churn some ice cream!)

When I came in I scrubbed and showered and thought I was good-to-go but the following day I woke up in the middle of the night with a burning, itchy arm.  I now have a rash on my face, both arms, chest and stomach.  sigh.  Apparently, I too, am now allergic to poison ivy.  This too, shall pass.  I’m just thankful for warm weather and for being able to help get the garden planted.

Have you got anything planted in a garden or containers?

The Warmth of Plants

I don’t think Spring has looked at the calendar nor did it get the memo that it is supposed to be here!

Yesterday it was snowing.

This morning there was frost on the ground.

Each week it seems we may have one or two warmish days and then, BAM, it’s cold again!

We’re trying to figure out when to start sowing some seeds in the garden but no sooner do we get a couple nice days in a row then the forecast is calling for either more rain (it’s been a very wet and cold winter) or frosty temps.

Meanwhile, as we wait for the frosty nights to come to an end CountryBoy has several starts growing in the greenhouse such as tomatoes, brussel sprouts, green peppers and squash in hopes that we won’t be too far behind in the growing season.

Speaking of greenhouse, we recently had to repair a rather large section of the roof in between all the rain…

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For once, duct tape did not fix the problem.  What was the problem you ask?  Multiple cracks in the panels due to being walked on.  CountryBoy was removing a storm gutter and the easiest point of access was in front of the greenhouse.  These panels have been through the summer’s sun and were on the brittle side so when he stepped on them they cracked and the greenhouse has leaked ever since.  We ordered enough panels to replace them and on a rare warm day after I got home from work we jumped up there and replaced them before the rains came that evening…

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It’s so nice not to have a leaky greenhouse now!

Our local farmer’s market is starting earlier this year and I’m afraid all we’ll have to offer for the first few weeks will be our country eggs.  Lots and lots of country eggs!  In fact, we have SO many eggs right now that we sent 9 dozen to New York with my brother and sister-in-law who stopped by for a visit on their way up from Florida and yet we STILL have oodles of eggs!

Speaking of the market, we are more involved this year and it’s been a lot of fun being a part of the planning for this years market and getting to know the other vendors a little better.  Since the beginning of the year we’ve had a meeting each month to discuss and make plans for the market.  During several of the meetings we have been trained on how to create an enticing display at our booth as well as training on accepting senior vouchers (offered to local senior citizens) and WIC.  I spent some time creating several drafts of possible logos for our market and, as a group, we made suggestions and tweaked them until we came up with one that we’re all happy with.  That was a fun process and threw me back to my days as a Graphic Designer.  CountryBoy and I have also applied to be ‘Kentucky Proud’ vendors and are waiting to hear if we’ve been accepted.  What is ‘Kentucky Proud’?  It’s the official state marketing program for agricultural products.  I am especially excited about this certification!  I may have only lived in Kentucky for three years but I am happy to be here and proud to be a part of the agricultural community.  My hope in the years ahead is to be able to offer more Kentucky Proud products grown and/or made right here on the farm.  That’s what it’s all about!

Now that I’ve been getting a handle on where to place our furniture (it’s a trial-and-error process!) and finding creative ways to decorate with dual-purpose or well-loved items I have slowly been adding some greenery indoors.  I think indoor plants help warm and soften the space and can help ease the long winter months.

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My favorite plants?  Free ones!  I’ve been splitting and repotting plants that have outgrown their container such as the one above and have propagated several others such as the one below…

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that came from this one…

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If you follow our Dream Valley Farmstead Facebook page then you’ve already seen the previous photo with the jute plant hanger.  But for those that aren’t on Facebook that was a fun, easy DIY project using stuff I already had on hand.  I really like the way it turned out and I’ll definitely be making a few more using some of the glass bottles I’ve saved.  If there’s one thing I have a weakness for hoarding it’s glass bottles and containers.  Colored ones, old ones, unique ones, big or small ones, etc.  This bottle was a soap dispenser we had while traveling and the metal dispenser broke and quit working.  I saved the bottle because I liked the color and the shape (and because I have a thing for bottles as you now know, ha!)

Spring is trying its hardest to push Winter out of the way as is evident by the new growth that is bursting out of the ground…

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Peonies (and who knows what else) given to me from a friend.  More free plants, yay!  I can’t wait for these to be chock full of beautiful Peonies!

Seeing the trees begin to produce tiny leaves or buds and plants emerging from a long winters rest brings warmth to my soul and puts a smile on my face!

Till next time my friends!

 

It’s Been Quite the Year

Oh, two thousand eighteen, what a year you have been already.

You have not been very kind to me.

In January, I was diagnosed with Bronchitis.  It lingered and seemed to dive deeper into my chest.  I continued to go to work but did very little when I got home.

In February, I was still coughing uncontrollably and had such terrible pain in my right rib cage.  It was so unbearable at times that I couldn’t breath.   I  went back to the doctor and was diagnosed with Pneumonia.  When I agree to go to the doctor CountryBoy knows I am not doing well.

I had zero energy.  I would cough so hard it made me gag and whatever I had recently eaten came right back up.  (Sorry, but it’s true.)  I did not go to work for two weeks.  (Thankfully, I have a very understanding boss who truly cares about the people that work for her and all she wanted was for me to get well.  Gotta love a boss like that!)

I lost weight.  That part was good!  It’s not the weight loss plan I would recommend to anyone but I’m not going to complain and am grateful to be twelve pounds lighter.

By the end of February I decided enough was enough so I stepped up my natural remedies since the conventional western medicines were not working for me.

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Lots of hot tea.  Sometimes with dried herbs, other times with essential oils (don’t worry, they were food grade essential oils!) and always with raw honey.  And water.  I could not drink enough plain ‘ol water to satisfy my thirst.

Also, on my list of natural remedies were essential oils known for respiratory and immune support.  I diffused them constantly and applied them topically throughout the day and before bed time.  I also took immune boosting natural supplements infused with essential oils.  And, after researching colloidal silver, I added that to my daily regimen as well.

By now, I was no longer on any prescription medication but I started feeling better and began seeing signs that my symptoms were easing up and disappearing altogether.  I’m continuing my daily ‘natural’ regimen and I’m doing well.  Whew!

You may be shaking your head at my non-traditional/natural ways and that’s OK.  I’ve bucked mainstream ideals for many years so I’m used to the head-shakes, ha!

So here we are… the first day of Spring!  We’ve had some other minor issues with our 100+ year old farmhouse this year but I am hoping that we can now get on with our regularly scheduled plans for 2018!

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We had some unusually warm days earlier in the month and the daffodils began to show their lovely faces a little before the official Spring date.  Thankfully, they have survived some frosty nights and even a terrible snow storm that knocked the power and phone lines out in our area for several days.

My newly planted tulips I bought last year on clearance have started peeking through the mulch…

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I love tulips and can’t wait to see my very own open up.  I have no idea what colors they are so I am not-so-anxiously awaiting their blooms!

While I was under the weather this beautiful amaryllis (given to me by my boss several months ago) opened up…

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It is still in the original pot so when the night time temps plummeted below freezing even in the greenhouse I put it in our bedroom.  It started to grow and eventually four beautiful flowers emerged.  It was a lovely reminder that ‘this too shall pass’.  I will be planting it in a new garden spot once Spring is officially here – the warm weather days of Spring, not the calendar days of Spring!

With Spring comes garden planting.  CountryBoy has started several seeds… tomatoes, green peppers, sweet banana peppers, cayenne peppers, jalapeños, okra, nasturtiums, marigolds, and who knows what else!  He is anxiously anticipating getting the garden going.

Shortly after the gardens get going it will be market time.  I have been working on an up-cycled project using the chickens’ feed bags and turning them into market tote bags…

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I found the tutorial on the Fresh Eggs Daily blog and will be cranking these out as the feed bags are emptied and will have them for sale at our local farmers market for dirt cheap.  I think they turned out great and are super cute!

Speaking of cute and chicken feed, here are a few of our newest girls hanging out in the mud…

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The lighter color girls (Ameracaunas) lay pretty green eggs and Cotton Top, our little Polish Crested bantam, lays small white eggs.  (My brother will be happy about the white eggs!)  It will be fun to offer green eggs at the market!

While waiting for the warmer months, I decided to tackle a bucket list item… to officially learn how to knit.  I’ve tried it here and there but it never really clicked.  I asked my niece to show me how with this simple little dishcloth…

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It’s called Grandmother’s Favorite Dishcloth and the pattern can be found online.  I was given several dishcloths of this pattern a long time ago and I’ve used them quite a bit.  To the point of no return really so it was definitely time to replace them.  It really helped having someone show me what to do and especially how to fix a mistake.  I enjoyed making this dishcloth and have whipped up several more since then.  Maybe some day I’ll tackle a larger knitting project!

We’ve had quite a bit of rain this winter.  In fact, it’s raining as I type this.    The Farmers Almanac predicted we would have a cold and wet winter and they were right.  Thankfully, we occasionally receive reminders that there will never be as much rain as in Noah’s day…

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Here’s hoping for a good, healthy rest of the year.  How is your year going?

Till next time…

 

 

 

 

Signs of Spring

I wandered around the farm the other day with my camera in hand.

I saw a few signs that Spring is on its way.  Yay!

The daylilies are beginning to peak through the dirt…

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The chickens have done a great job of clearing away all the weeds which saved me a LOT work!  Thank you girls :).

I don’t remember what these are but they are shooting up quickly…

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It amazes me that these plants are so hardy even under feet of snow.  While I was  walking around that day there was still a bit of snow in front of barn…

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It is all gone now but the forecast, as of today, is calling for snow showers on Thursday.  oh boy!  Thankfully, the snow won’t bother what’s already coming up.  whew!

Another sign of Spring is our driveway; or lack thereof …

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The deterioration started last Spring when we received copious amounts of rain and the force of the water coming down off the mountains started washing out the rocks.  Then with each rain then the melting of all the snow it has just continued to deteriorate and here we are almost into Spring again.  It’s hard to tell from the photo but there are some spots where it has eroded a foot or more.

Before spending any money  to fix the driveway we need to address the runoff of the mountain issue otherwise any monies spent would be washed away into the creek.  We got an estimate to have a pond dug at the base of the hill beside the barn, culverts placed where necessary and the driveway fixed but, truth be told, it was way more than we can afford.

I have entered the farm into a contest with Hobby Farm magazine and BobCat where the winner will receive a week’s worth of whatever needs done using BobCat equipment and a crew.  I focused on our need to solve the runoff issue for not only the driveway but also the barn where water goes as well making four of the stalls unusable in rainy season.  Needless to say, I am praying hard that we win!  I’d love it if you’d send up a prayer or two also :).  I think the winner will be chosen sometime in April or May.

If we don’t win, well… I don’t know; we’ll figure something out.

Last Friday and Saturday were beautiful so we took advantage of it and headed outdoors.  More progress was made in and around the chicken coop.

We straightened up a little more and salvaged what wood we could by cutting off rotten ends.

Since our budget is slim to none on the coop redo we are using what’s already in and around the farm.  One such item we were reusing were the roosts for inside the coop.  I liked the poles of the pole shed and wanted to use them for the roosts.  They were well-worn tree limbs or small trees and I thought they would be perfect!  The thickness of them were good where the girls could still wrap their feet around it yet big enough so that their feet would be mostly, if not completely, covered when they hunker down therefore helping to keep their feet warm during the cold, winter months.  I also really like the look of them :).

But, in order to use them we had to get rid of the pole shed.

After we relocated everything from underneath and around the pole shed CountryBoy made quick work of it by simply removing the side braces then pushing it over.  That’s how rotten most of the poles were.

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It looks so different now!

We still have to remove the shingles and salvage what wood we can but that thin white line on the ground is the roof.

Now we had some wood to make new roosts for the girls.

In our efforts to create an efficient coop CountryBoy wanted to relocate the roosts.  Here’s where we originally put them…

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and now they’re over here…

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This arrangement works much better making the coop roomier and giving the girls more room to jump/fly down from the roosts.

We also made it wider to accommodate the chicks we are getting in April.

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This should be sufficient to accommodate our future flock of 26 comfortably.

Here are the girls the first night after the roost relocation…

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I think they like them!  Oh, and aren’t the pole shed poles perfect for roosts?!

Still to do in the coop are adding more nest boxes and building the grow-out coop.  Bit by bit.

The days the weather has not been conducive to working outdoors I have spent some of my time making these cute little card wallets…

I have enjoyed spending time in my sewing room this winter because before long I won’t have the time or the energy to do much sewing once the ground warms up and it’s time to get the gardens going.  Then my days will be filled with mowing, weeding, harvesting and preserving.  To everything there is a season so I am making the most of winter :).

I’m also hoping to be able to open up my Etsy shop again or maybe create my own site therefore cutting out the middle man.  We’ll see.  All in time.  Bit by bit!