Saturday, December 3, 2011

I hate Google

I don't really, but they have been messing with my accounts so that every time I wish to come on and post a quick blog note it says all of this confusing mumbo jumbo that I don't understand about updating my account and changing to a new email and combining accounts, etc. So I stare blankly at the screen and then click the X button because I'm too brain dead to try to figure it out.

SO! 4 months later it's an actual lazy Saturday and I have BRAIN POWER and a hot cup of coffee, go me! I got my accounts fixed and it didn't take that long!

One of the things I wanted to talk about this summer was the loss of blogger Granny Miller. She's not dead. But after about 3 days of her site being down I emailed her (I'm such a fan I have emailed her in the past so I had her email contact info). She said that something had happened to the stored information for her blog and it would have taken a computer specialist and money to retrieve it all. She already had a clock count down for the end of this year being her last year blogging, so she decided to call it quits early.

It was pretty heart breaking for me personally, I felt like I had lost a friend. I checked Granny's blog as much as I did my facebook page. I learned so much from her in that year that I had started reading her blog, researched many of her previous posts, printed recipes and been inspired.

I have "moved on" so-to-speak realizing that I am a highly capable person and can do so much and have done so much on my own and know how to search subjects online and read books to figure things out. I basically met a real-life Granny who lives over the river and through the woods from me who has become a friend; and as a bonus she knows how to garden and farm in my state too. My husband is so much more supportive in our lifestyle choices than he had been last year. In reality our ideas on preparedness, survival, and farming are simply melding into one cohesive mutual effort and it's provided us a common interest and goal with in our marriage and family to work towards. This is only straightening our marriage. With this year's tax return we're going to be buying a Bison hand water pump for our very deep well. It will be a fun gadget to have, like our Esse cook stove is that we bought last year, and if we ever need it when the electricity goes out we'll have it ready and willing to serve us.

Country Jane, sitting pretty by the wood stove while the snow comes down!

The Esse Ironheart

Sunday, August 21, 2011

It's been a while...well all summer!

This summer has been a whirl wind of things and stuff and other things and stuff.

So I'll talk about today, which was a good day.

Hubby left this am with the older 3 kids to pick up a lamb from a local farm going out of business...yes $100 dollar pedigree lamb 2 years old. Not kidding. He went with two of my friends was the best sheep wrangler ever, helped them kill and gut and chunk then brought those home. He finished getting all the cuts packaged and into the fridge at 1am. Hooray!

He said this means he won't go hunting this year which I'm bummed about. I love caribou and moose and I love having a ton of it. But we still have a little meat goat to butcher in a few more weeks, so we'll be fine.

I made my biggest stock pot yesterday full of my "yummy lentil soup" as we call it. Full of fresh veggies and lentils. After organizing my freezer last night and finding WAY more salmon than I realized we had I thought, wow, we just don't have enough room for a lamb and 3 gallons of soup. So I started canning it today. It changes the flavor a bit and steals good nutrients out of it too, but we just don't have the room and how nice to open a jar of soup. I did two batches mostly those 3cup jars that spaghetti sauce comes in full. Then I just stuck the rest into 6 more quart size yogurt containers and made a tall stack in the chest freezer, those fit ok.

I got out all of last years salmon and put a bunch into jars and processed some of that and 7 pints of my husbands salmon that he just smoked. I'm using my new Tattler lids and so far they're doing ok. At least one out of every batch fails, sometimes 2 or 3. I know I just need to figure out the trick (or quit using oil in all my canning which you're not supposed to do, so can't blame the lids).

My sister and I picked blueberries on Thursday and I decided not to take the time to pull the stems off of each and every one, so I threw 4 cups of those into the freezer (to sweeten them up) and then into the pot to boil and mashed them up well. Strained the juice. Then took my 2008 blueberries which were still fairly pretty out of the freezer and 11 cups of rhubarb and threw those into the pot for a big batch of bluebarb jam. I'm using my new Pamona's Pectin which so far I ADORE! Works like a charm and you don't have to sell your child to afford the sugar you need for the jam.

Made some brine for the rest of the salmon and put about 8 fillets into the brine and I'll smoke that tomorrow then can about 1/2 of it. We like the top part canned 'cause it softens the bones then we freeze the tails which are boneless and pull them out for snacks. Salmon and farmers goat cheese on a cracker are my all time favorite midnight snacks now. Mostly because we made most of it and it tastes good too.

I have 7 more 1/2 pints of plain salmon in the fridge to process for tomorrow.

I was tickled at one point a local "goat lady" I know makes really great soaps and was asking around for fresh produce. So I made out like a bandit getting 6 bars of soap for emptying out my fridge of my produce and a box full of turnips out of the garden. Less work for me tomorrow, woo hoo! I was going to have to make zucchini bread and blanch the veggies that were already picked AND make more sauerkraut. And turnips are not my favorite veggie I'm finding...so it worked out great for me.

Well it's 1:30am and I'm hallucinating and probably slurring my speech...so I'm going to bed.

Country Jane, Glad to be back

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sold!

Last week my neighbor expressed interest in buying one of our boy goats. She came over with her children and they played with him. He's very sweet, he's been our bottle baby and cuddly.

My husband and I had made the decision that we would sell the boys as bucks but if they didn't sell we'd butcher them once winter hit and try goat meat. The thing was, was that I just couldn't bear letting this little guy get butchered, so I was willing to sell him as a wether (castrated) and ask much less for him because he wouldn't procreate.

Neighbor liked the goat, but they didn't want goats for dairy, just for fun, he husband didn't like goat's milk and her aunt breeds mini cows in another state, so they'd probably end up with a cow. I brought her in the house to have a glass of milk. I had just had some cereal that morning and this jar was especially un-goaty. She was impressed. I took her into the milking shed and brought in a doe, she milked her a little into a jar. We filtered the milk and she took it home, chilled it and gave it to her husband. He liked it!

So they decided to buy my cutie boy and a doeling from the breeder I got my does from. Happy day!

Yesterday someone called on the bucks I had for sale on Craigslist and wanted to come right over and see them. He really wanted two pets and to have them eat all the weeds on his 2.5 acers on the mountain in Farm Town. So I told him that I would wether them for him and he could have them for less than my asking price. He liked that better and wanted the 2 brothers that were left. Gave me the cash and left me to do the deed on the boys and he'd get them later in the week.

Today we took our new doeling and the two boys for their "procedures" to a neighbor farm where she and my breeder did the deeds. New doeling got her tattoo for tomorrows goat show she'll be in (and win). And the boys were elastrated. That's pretty rotten. Our cutie boy was cut last week and we prefer that method, but beggars can't be choosers, and that's the breeder's preferred method.

I know it's really not that exciting to sell a goat. But this is our first time around and it's nice to know they're all going to good families.

Country Jane, goat breeder

Have a freedom? Use it or loose it!

Lately I have realized how important this is even for little old me. Even stay-at-home moms can help.

Can you own a gun? Buy one.

Can you (still) grow your own food? Try to.

Can you homeschool your kids? Do it.

Can you (still) speak out against this tyranny of a government? Then speak.

Can you think for yourself? Think.

Our freedoms are being taken from us at an alarming rate.

Some states still have the freedom to own guns, some to carry concealed, some to carry open. If you have that freedom but don't exercises it, why? Why should you? I have learned that when I practice a freedom many of my friends tend to follow suit. Not because of me, but because they see..."hey, if she can do it, I can too!" I never cared about guns in particular, but when my girlfriend got a cute little pistol and carried it her purse I thought, "hey, I want one too". Now that I own my own cute little pistol I want to carry it concealed...because I can. My husband has wanted a machine gun for a while. Guess what? They are LEGAL, just very expensive because kind President Reagan decided they needed to stop making them. Well? I think I'd like one...maybe I'll start saving my pennies.

Some states, like ours, have the freedom to FREELY homeschool. But look at what happens when that carrot is whipped out by those peskey school districts who get government funding for every extra kid they have in their district. They offer the free computer and the free money to sign up those "homeschooled" kids so those parents don't have such a burden. But it's our FREEDOM to homeschool with no strings attached. So we choose to practice that freedom. The unfortunate thing is that it will be short lived. Those other "homeschooling" families aren't really homeschooling. They are taking that carrot and getting the lessons and books paid for. Their restrictions are getting stricter each year and again they will try to pass legislation against free homeschooling. They won't care, it's no skin off their back.

Can you grow your own food? That will be short lived as well. There's a brand new council that President Obama created including top men from all the departments including Homeland security, etc that will oversee the farms of the "heartland". The implications of the government oversight on all farmers is insanely scary. They want to be able to take over farms if you aren't doing something right. But they want your food. They want control. They are in bed with the big boys.

Think. This requires no TV and you have to choose where you get your information. Then you have to form your own conclusions. You have to educate yourself. You have to look at the facts. This hurts your brain, I'm warning you. But it's still legal, so do it.

Can you speak out? Granny Miller is shutting down her blog and I'm so bummed. If you can speak out and help others do it. I respect Granny on many many levels and she has the freedom to shut hers down, but I'm not sure I agree with her choice. Having a blog is still legal, have one.

Be proactive. Be free. Practice freedom. Look for new freedoms you don't currently use but might like to have one day and practice it NOW, or it will be gone tomorrow.

Country Jane, Happy 4th of July

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Busy bees

Stream of thought tonight after a long productive week... starting Saturday night...

Saturday: Friends came out for a nice long visit. I made them stay longer by making eggs and smoked salmon for lunch and then some salmon and my sister's roasted potatoes for dinner. Made a new hay feeder for our goat kids, neighbor stopped by to talk and I asked him if he had time to plow some field for some potatoes, he came by 5 min later and plowed a nice spot. Sunday: Planted a bunch of potatoes. Also planted a dozen new strawberry plants in a new spot. Took kids to the lake, then hubby took us all to the movies.

Monday: chores and work then headed to Little City. Hit feed store, Alfalfa lady for 3 bales, horse shop for DD's new riding boots and helmet, Costco, and my mom's to say happy birthday.

Tuesday: chores and work then built the Walls for the bike shed I'm making for the kids.

Wednesday: chores and work. Took DD to riding lesson and ran errands. Sister's house for dinner. Cleaned out hay shed, fixed broken hay feeder and added more flooring (pallets) to keep the hay and straw from molding on the bare ground.

Thursday: some chores and work. Took DD to her first Orthodontist visit, ran errands including going to the apple tree lady's house and bought 6 Alaskan hardy one to two year old trees. Planted them in a rush and took son to soccer game. Went on a date with hubby. Had fun.

Friday: chores and work. Went to Farm Town with my friend and found the barley man's house. Bought 600lbs of barley. Ran errands. Dropped other daughter with other Grandma for the night and met up with a farmer who was hoping to bale his hay. It was too wet to do the whole field but he let me buy 3 damp bales so we split them open when I got home. Sis dropped of her boys for my son to babysit for their date. Finished the apple trees, put hardware "cloth" around the base of them all for vole protection. Weeded 2 LARGE strollers full of weeds from the front flower bed...it's not finished. Watered the rhubarb and strawberries. Came in when it was 11pm, still light but youngest daughter was fussy. Just ate a cheese curd my husband made. He's been making cheese for the last 4 hours...

It's midnight thirty...I'd better get the rest of these kids in bed and go get in my own.

Country Jane, tuckered out

apple trees, mouse protected

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Our favorite soup


I had borscht growing up, but never cared for it. It was red with lots of veggies and no meat and I just didn't like it.

So when my next-door-neighbor (the super duper awesome Alaskan one) said she was making borscht I was surprised. She told me she found a great recipe and told me all that was in it. Ham hocks, bacon and meat, meat and more meat...oh and a few beets and some cabbage.

Ok, fine, I had to try it. She gave me the "recipe" if you can call it that. It's just like any soup, use what you have don't use what you don't have. Add the spices and you have a killer stew.

I made it for us and my sis and her hubby. And now I have strict instructions to call them over for supper if I make it, guess who's coming over for dinner tonight?

I'll give you the general recipe but adapt it as you need to. I'll put my notes at the bottom about what I did today.

Borscht
~3-4 qt water
2lbs beef shanks or chunk beef or hamburger or leftover meat (this is what I save my leftovers for) browned (tonight it's ground venison, left over moose roast and left over moose steaks)
1 c ham or pork shoulder or bacon or sausage or ham hock or ham bone (tonight it's ham bone and ham)

2 bay leaves
8 pepper corn
4 sprigs parsley or a few TBS dried parsley
1 T salt
1/4 t pepper
1/4 c vinegar
6 oz can tomato paste
1/4 c fresh dill or some dry
1 c sour cream plus extra

carrots, I don't have any today so it'll do with out
onions or leeks, I never have leeks I'm using 3 onions tonight
beets ~2 lbs. I use fresh, frozen, canned or pickled beets, all of them work
cabbage, I usually put in a lot like a small head, it really shrinks down
new potatoes if you have them

I make this different most every time. My recipe is not clear. If I'm using bacon for flavor I cook that in the pan first, then remove to add last. If I'm using a ham hock or bone like today, I cooked up the hamburger and onions, added the bone, added extra water than normal (to cover the bone) and all the spices plus more I might save off some broth for the next batch. I have even made it pork free for our friends who don't eat pork. Still very good.

Simmer bone in the broth for a while if you have a bone, or just throw in your carrots, onions, meat, spices water, simmer for a while. When harder veggies are cooked add cabbage, beets, tomato paste, vinegar, dill and your cup of sour cream last.

Serve with extra sour cream and dill.

Your family will love you, extra and then beg you to make it time and time again. This is my favorite "harvest" food because it sucks up so much of the extra garden produce in the fall, I always want leftovers to freeze, but there has never been.

Country Jane, enjoying the kitchen on this rainy day

gather ingredients, make sure you have extra coffee, don't mind the coffee mate it's your imagination, I would never drink that crap

sink full of venison, cabbage, ham, leftovers and more leftovers thawing out


when this lard is gone I'd like to render my own, my friend is a huge lard fan and I really like it

venison burger from a friend and onions in the lard


ham bone with more water than the recipe calls for...going to have to triple the broth on this one
  -that's all the pics I have for now, bone is still simmering-

New addition to the family

My daughter turned 13 this year and she has been begging for years to get a puppy.

So I decided to get her a goat.

This spring has been rough with having two does in milk but not enough milk. When I bought them last June they were giving 2 gallons a day, but that's because I didn't bring any kids home to feed the milk to. We got all of it, and it was a lot to handle. But I miss the plethora. I want to make cheese again and even just yogurt.

I had originally chosen LaMancha for the breed of choice, but she didn't have any in milk and I didn't want to start with kids. I wanted to be forced into the hardest part of owning goats...to milk 2x per day.

We bought the Nubians because they were good quality pure breeds and I didn't want to start with mixed...and, well, that's what she had. I paid more than I'd expected to pay, but this breeder was highly recommended. She tested her herd clean every year, did all the shows, and knew a lot and she brings up quality goats from out of state.

Back to my story.

Daughter wants to breed dogs, so I figured we'd get a high quality LaMancha and she can breed that. I'm set up for goats and would like more milk next summer. LaManchas produce quantity for a long time. I'm so not up for puppies and more dogs. Not a dog fan...

daughter with her holy shirt

LaMancha's just aren't as cute as Nubians

But I'm sure she'll grow on me.
Country Jane, fan of goats

Monday, June 6, 2011

New name?

When buying goats I realized that we needed a "herd" name. Therefore our little "homestead" needed a name. I thought of one, but am still not used to it.

Today I finished the front part of the fence along the road on the first acre (we have a whopping two acres). This fence is going to get the better of me, and in some ways has already. I started with grandiose plans, but three years later I find myself stuck in the middle of an un-ending chore.

It's a long story and I don't think I'm up for telling it tonight, but if I call my farm "Crooked Fence Ranch" then it would look like my fence was supposed to be crooked.......right?

Country Jane, twisted er crooked

the next part to be re-done...they have been pulled and holes re-dug, now to get them in line and set...BLEK!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The dirt jar

A few years ago my husband was in WA helping a friend in his garden. He found a little brown jar. He brought it home to me because he knows I'm crazy about old things especially jars and things that hold other things.

So I put it in my bathroom still dirty but "rustic" with it's rusted lid and cute little self. I've let my bathroom be my "country" room as my dear husband can't handle the whole house being "country". He's a computer geek and would prefer that we have a Star Trek themed house...so we have to find a compromise.
 
Tonight I bought more country storage containers to put stuff in (see my weakness?) for my bathroom and I took the jar off the shelf to dust it off and I took the jar of M&Ms off so I could clean the shelf. And I thought "Duh, the cute jar can hold M&Ms!" So I tried for the first time taking the lid off and lots of dirt came out. I went to clean the jar but it had ewey gooey stuff inside, gross what was in here? While the jar was soaking I started scrubbing the rusted lid and some color and words appeared. Vaseline! What do you know. The jar belongs in the bathroom.
Newly cleaned jar.

New home of the potty reward M & Ms.
 
Country Jane, container collector

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It's a hard knock life

Life changes so quickly from great to hard in such a short time, it amazes me every time. It's only when it's hard again that you kick yourself for not being thankful for the good.

Last Tuesday I was enjoying the sun, working hard outside getting things ready, fixing my fence, dinner in the oven. Life was good.

My life is good. Even after this weekend and all that's happened I know God loves me.

Friday my oldest was turning 13. My mother had taken her the day before so she could overnight, they baked her cake, decorated it and would bring it home. When I was talking to my mom at around 2pm about the days plans I began to bleed. This was not good, I'm pregnant. Very newly, but I have never bled during a pregnancy until now. My husband was home so he called the midwife and she said we don't know what's actually happening so to lay low. He "ordered" me to bed where I proceeded to cry mainly because I had too much to do to have this happen. I also cried because we have already told many people and I couldn't bear the thought to un-tell them. NOW I get why everyone who has miscarried waits to announce it. I cried and slept while the hubbub of the house went on outside my bedroom door. My sis and her family still came over for the bbqed shrimp dinner my husband was now hosting alone. He told my mom but nobody else, and she peeked in on me and gave me a hug.

After the company left we had the kids come to our room to open presents on my bed. We told our oldest that she'd be getting a new baby Lamancha kid (goat) since she has done so well milking this year. I've wanted a Lamancha anyway, they are great milkers and there are some available at my preferred breeders. The plan is to take her out and pick out the one she likes.

My mom called and said they would be coming out to the lake very close and staying at my uncle's vacation cabin and that they could take the kids. Wow. Awesome. My mom is pretty amazing sometimes. The got the 5 younger ones, the oldest wanted to stay home and play with her new Lego set (she asked for it, really). Also she likes alone time when she can get it...who doesn't?

When the kids left, it was hubby's turn to crumble. He very kindly asked me what I would like and I requested my favorite pizza, so he took oldest to town, they went on a little date and picked up the pizza. Thank God for good pizza in times of need.

Next day was decent. Gorgeous out. My dad brought out the new glass patio door that we had ordered and installed it that day since they were nearby. It is very nice. I told my sister what was going on and she came over and planted my garden in about 2 hours. It would have taken me much longer any day of the week. That girl is fast.

My mom said she'd keep the kids another night so we decided to head to the ER that evening to get an ultrasound and see what was going on.

On the way to the ER the van broke down. We thought it was the water pump, but found out yesterday it's the head gasket.

Our neighbor came out and picked us up and a tow truck brought the van back to our new mechanic's shop who just happens to live across the street. We went to the ER, the doctor said that because the bleeding is not heavy, there's no cramping and I'm not in pain he wasn't willing to call in the Ultrasound tech. He did his own checks and concluded that I was probably still pregnant, just bleeding.

We were chipper after the visit, nice people in good moods that night. We went to an old favorite restaurant in the neighboring town and ate breakfast at 2am. It was good.

At 8:30am my parents called. Our 5-yr-old had puked all night, 20 times to be exact. Can they bring her home? Yes please. Hubby went to church and I stayed home with puker. She puked about 10 more times during that day and was finally done. That was rough. She got a fever that night and was delirious on Monday but is much better today.

Monday was another beautiful day where I wasn't allowed to do much work. Brother-in-law came over to help with the fence, and hubby stepped up big time and did a few things that I'd been wanting him to do. He even planted my new raspberry plants. I had to tell him what to do. It was fun.

Tuesday we were more than ready to go in for the ultrasound at our normal tech's office. She couldn't tell. She didn't give us much hope, but she couldn't say for sure. Off to the midwife for the 2nd round of blood testing. The ER took the first test and the second test should show if my hormone levels are going up or down.

Wednesday. Midwife was at a birth all night on Tuesday and didn't have the proper paperwork to compare blood tests. But it appears my hormones are dropping.

The priest and his family that I talked about before is moving to Alaska. Alaska, I tell you, here to us. To take care of us. I'm glad, 'cause we need it.

Country Jane, loved

Eugène Carrière’s “The Sick Child” 1885

Monday, May 23, 2011

Country Festival

Over the weekend our small parish put on a country style spring festival. It was a blast.

We had a rat race, pie eating contest, balloon dart game, bean bag toss, fish pond, country store, barbecue, old fashioned sodas, potato sack race, cupcake bake off and more. In a parish with only about 15 families we have about 50 children, this was for them and to help pay down our parish hall we have been building. The kids had a blast and it brought back great memories of when I was a kid and we'd have a harvest festival every year at my church where I grew up. We raised a bunch of money and best of all us adults had a ton of fun.


It amazes me that in such a small community like ours how much talent you have packed into such a small space. I don't know if it's because of where we live or what, but it's there. Almost everyone is self employed, me included. My husband works for a larger company to pay our bills, but here is the talent in our parish. We have 3 contractors who have or have had their own business. A cleaning business. A bakery. An auto body shop. A new mechanic shop (across the street from me, how awesome is that?!). A candle making business. An artist who teaches (and did face painting). A pilot/airplane mechanic. A music teacher (many instruments). An electrician. A plumber. A science and English teacher couple. A mailbox business. An upcoming assisted living home mainly to house a fellow in our parish. Some very creative minds who organized our event. Two nurses. Computer programmer/repairman. Multiple hunters. Multiple talented homeschool/regular moms who sew/knit and or also have small homesteads, garden, animals, etc. Many of the men have regular 9-5 jobs to support their family, but share their talent where and when it's needed. This does not even include the various friends that live around me who have talents of their own but don't attend our parish, but still share their talents when needed. This place attracts a certain type and I have yet to figure it out or put my finger on it. We love Alaska and we love our church and we love each other. We have made a strong bond and have had many trials to test that bond. Because of that it's made us stronger.



Country Jane, enjoying country life

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

See ya, it's spring

Alaskans envy those warm climates during our cold winters, but in reality, I think we enjoy the long break... But let me tell you, once summer hits, we're going 24x7 and don't know how to rest 'till the snow flies.

I've been with a sick family, then outside working on the fencing and garden for a week or so. Someone I know took the time to write (what I think) is a great post on his blog and I thought I'd share.

Curmudgeon With a Gun

Enjoy.

Country Jane, busy as a bee

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Picking up where I left off

Today my "friend" reminded me how much I adore quilting. I used to be an avid quilter and would make many small or a couple large during the winters. The last few, however, are full of schooling children, blogging and keeping up with my business.

The rain was currently falling and what a better project to work on than an unfinished quilt? I long to go out and work on the fence this time of year but the kids are still finishing up school, getting chores done, and dinner has to be made. My free afternoons, however, have been getting rained out!


my new passion with quilting is to try to put a dent into my huge fabric collection and to not buy new fabric, blue won with the most inventory so it was next on the list


put the pieces together to see what I got

decided to make it bigger so I spread out

photo of our neighbors and our mountains courtesy of my daughter
 By the time I sorted through my other things and decided what to work on the sun had re-appeared and was perfect for fence building...but too late. Sewing is spread out, son is still working on school and so I'm hooked for the evening.

Country Jane, content

On organizing sewing projects

Someone inspired me today to pull out an old project, but in looking I found the others that are waiting for the day that they are more important or more fun. It's probably a no-brainer to everyone out there but I hate to stop working on a sewing project and then toss it to the wolves (aka a bin full of other junk). It makes it so un-appealing to get something back out again to work on it. You forget what you were doing, what measurements you needed, where are those instructions? Why is it so dusty? Where's the rest of the fabric?

top left: fabric that I like I've already made a purse from, top middle: a quilt started by my great great grandmother I need some embroidery work done before I can finish, right: a denim circle quilt with the coffee can lid template and instructions for when I get more jeans to cut up

a picnic basket that I use to hold fabric my mother gave me and has been an ongoing hand quilting project for the kids to have something to do when I'm sewing...should be a nice lap quilt some day
My favorite sewing storage bags are the ones you get sheets and curtains in at the store. They sometimes have a label holder even. To me the better looking it is in that package the more likely I'll get it out later to work on it. I keep them (the ones that didn't escape to "that safe place" land) inside a nice large box/basket that sits patiently in my living room.

Country Jane, sewing

Thursday, May 5, 2011

True Dat

This is my new motto. Thanks to Curmudgeon and Arctic Patriot for loaning it to me for a while.

Country Jane, choleric

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Rural Revolution

Just a quick thanks to Rural Revolution for posting the entry I submited for the Safecastle Freedom Award. I submited an esay titled Baby Steps. I'll post it here if you want to read it.

Rural Revolution has been a great blog to read this last year since I started my quest for the perfect blog. She is a good writer and has much good information and I happen to agree with her most of the time.

Jane

Baby Steps

I wrote about my baby steps on my blog last year and got a “silly face” from my girl friend who I grew up with but now lives in Chicago. She teased me that my baby steps were pretty gigantic, but now in retrospect, I realize that we have different goals so mine seem gigantic to someone not aiming for the life that I am.

When I married my husband I was totally un-educated. What I mean by that is I didn’t know a thing about critical thinking or a world beyond the TV and public schools. In order to marry him he asked me to agree to 3 things. Number one, to be willing to be a pastors wife…eeek really? Um ok.(disclaimer, he’s not a pastor but has always had the desire to be one) Number two, to NOT have a career and stay home with any children that we had …eeek, am I dreaming?! yes please! Number three, to Homeschool our children…what the what?? I had NEVER considered this before. I KNEW I had hated public school. I KNEW I did not learn much at all and it sucked the life out of me. “Ok.” I said.

After a few years of marriage I learned some other things. We don’t take public assistance, no matter what. I had a hard time with this, but my husband held fast even through very trying and poor times. It was his job to provide for his family and that he did. We didn’t (and still don’t) take the many programs that are practically pushed down your throat. Public health care for pregnant women and children. Public food assistance for them as well. Public funding for homeschool with just a few (a lot) of strings attached. And those are just the ones that I personally was very tempted with. I won’t go into all the reasons why he said no, most who read this will understand already and those that don’t might never.

We will own guns. I had a hard time with this too. I didn’t understand the need. My father never seemed to care if he had one or not (he did) and never taught us kids to use it. The statement “Slaves don’t own guns, Free people do.” rings so clear to me today. Though I loved my childhood and the innocence that my parents let me have, we were slaves. We have that freedom and we NEED to exercise it for many different reasons. I am now, finally, at the place where I feel comfortable, not weird and now almost naked with out my side arm.

We will let God decide how many children we have. This was always something I desired too. I could not imagine what number would be perfect. So far at 6, it’s great, but the kids really want a baby for Christmas, hehe.

I never really liked gardening. In fact I was actually mad when 2 people got us plants for our wedding gifts. My mother never had a garden and the thought never crossed my mind…that’s what the produce section is for, right? My husband and I lived above a garage in a cute little apartment for four years. My mentor (the woman of the house) gave me a garden spot to grow my produce and flowers. Her husband would fertilize it for me even, with their rabbit manure (how gross I thought). She wouldn’t really take no for an answer and gave me all my starts and I enjoyed my teensy garden and keeping her company that first summer. I was hooked.

More children leads to more things needed for them all to do occupy themselves with. I knew I didn’t want my children playing lots of video games. I was blessed with a space-cadet animal lover for a first daughter. She still asks us for new animals every week. In reality it was Martha Stewart’s beautiful eggs her hens produced. The green eggs stuck me and I had to have them. So I needed a coop and some chickens because you just can’t buy green eggs at the store, so we got them. (we don’t even watch TV anymore, but thanks Martha)

Now my chicken coop is in between two fenced in runs, the chickens get one side one year and the garden the other, and then they trade. This way I don’t have to collect and then spread the rich manure, they do it for me.

My daughter has wanted a horse since she could talk, been obsessed. I, of course, wanted to fulfill her dream because it’s the one animal I had also always wanted. Well, my mom promising that when I grew up I could get my own horse wasn’t such a great idea because she forgot to ask my husband. We have the space, but who has the money to buy all that hay? (Especially in Alaska, ouch!) My daughter also discovered she liked goats and has been nagging about horses and goats for quite a while, so I’d started collecting 6’ high dog run fence panels off Craigslist because I’d heard they make good goat fencing. Last year I was picking up my third load of free goat manure and I finally asked the lady how it was to keep goats. She told me how simple their housing was even in the cold and what they ate and gave me a phone number of a local reputable breeder. 2 months later we had 2 newly freshened Nubian does giving us 2 gallons of milk a day being milked by my animal crazed daughter who loves (almost) every minute.

Now that goats were off my mind, my mind wandered to food storage. I realized that I would love to have a “mini store” in my garage so that I didn’t have to run to the grocery store if I ran out of spaghetti sauce…so I bought 3 cases and thus began my food storing. In about 8 months I have a years worth of many of the dry goods. I’m not finished but happy with the start.

All of these baby steps might be huge for someone with 1.2 children living in the city. But for me it’s just the beginning to the life that I want us and my children to lead. I know that I’m naturally lazy (day to day sort) and all of these things from homeschooling to goats to fence building gets me off my butt. I love the feeling of accomplishment after a long day. I also never realized how much my kids, er children, would actually enjoy their hard work until one night we were having a little feast in the kitchen. My son pointed out, “look, all of the food we’re eating we made ourselves.” He was right. It was smoked salmon, goat cheese, hard boiled eggs, caribou jerky, goat milk and ptarmigan nuggets. The best feeling came over me when my husband beamed at his family.

Whether or not my children decide to live this way, we know we have done right by them to teach them these basic things that nobody knows how to do any longer. We are always learning and taking new steps. At this moment we have eggs chirping ready to hatch, a goat ready to kid and bees in their way to us. What more excitement could you ask for?

Our baby steps have led us not to an easy life, but a very rewarding and happy one.

Country Jane, learning to walk

Goat business

I am slowly learning about the goat business around here.

We had 3 bucklings about two weeks ago and last Friday I took them out the the farm where I purchased my two does last year.

While we were chatting she said, "oh, not now!" and ran to her doe's fencing and jumped right over, I couldn't see that behind the straw pile was a LaMancha doe laying down pushing out a kid. She delivered 2 healthy kids (boy and girl) and took them into her barn to get dried off.

Down to business, we collected my bucklings, she looked at their legs, how they stood apart, what one might be best for breeding, etc, but over all she liked all three. She took them into the barn where she had the dis-budding iron on and proceeded to curl them up under her hold their head and burn around their little horns. Let me just say, "OH MY GOSH!!!" My daughter (12) sat right behind her while I freakishly peered over the stall door in anguish. The smell, wow, burnt fur and flesh. They scream. It's pretty hard. But after the 3rd one was done, I realized I would have to and probably could do this. My daughter helped her after that with 2 or 3 more while I pretended to be doing something important with my children at the car.

Disbudding sounds horrible, and is, but from what I have read it saves much heartache from goats getting heads stuck and dying, mamas killing babies, and owners getting nailed. Most breeders up here disbud and won't buy horned goats, so that's what I will do too.

Onto tattoos. Ugh. Messy and again, PAINFUL. She's such a pro. She gave them each a tetanus shot then we pasted their long ears with green ink and POP went the tattoo puncher. She got the 3 letters into each of their ears when my daughter casually said, "Mrs. B your daughter just delivered a kid." She looked up and looked at what we were doing. I said, "go, we can finish later!" and I put the sad boys back into the kennel and went to check out the action.

She had the doe on her back with both hands inside. It took some non spermicidal jelly and a cigarette, but she and her children put the doe up onto the cable spool "table" and she proceeded to push the second kid back inside because it was all discombobulated and finally pulled it out holding it's head straight with her hand. Poor thing. It wasn't dead even though the sack had been broken for a while at that point. She put mom and 2 babies in their own private stall so she could rest and lick her kids.

We finished the tattoos, discussed what buck I might want to purchase for myself, dicussed what I should sell my bucks for and finally headed home.

I have chosen the route of purchasing good pedigree goats, ie more expensive. I only do this because it makes sense to my pocket book. First of all the place I have gotten them herd tests for disease every year, she has about 100 goats...that's a lot of blood draws. With a clean herd you have to expect to pay more, herd testing is time and money but the knowledge for you and your customers that you have a clean product. I know that "cheap" goats can produce fine milk but I also know that if I pay one or two hundred dollars more up front I can charge more for my kids AND I'm breeding for good milk production. (Some breed for color, some for size, etc.) If I spend $1500 on hay and grain for two full sized does, I would prefer to give that food to goats that give me the maximum amount for my dollars. I will spend far more on feed than I will on purchasing goats, so I'd better make it count.

At this time my bucks are up for sale and my asking price for just one of them is the same as what I paid for my doe. I may not sell even one, so they may be Easter roasting goats next year. It would be a pity, but such is the way things go.

Country Jane, headed to get more hay

Thursday, April 28, 2011

No apology

I realize that many or most of you don't follow my blog because I'm an Orthodox Christian but because of my goals in the world of "urban homesteading" or such things.

A huge part of who I am, however, is being an Orthodox Christian. I thought, just now, that I'd come on here and "apologize" for the last post that you all probably haven't a clue what I'm talking about, but I can't do that. It's a big part of me and our family. It does not mean that I'm all holy by any means. But, I am still learning to stand up for what I believe in but trying not to piss people off at the same time. I have also learned that pissing people off isn't always bad.

Our family is at a crossroads, spiritually, and this blog was created for the sole purpose of venting and writing about what is very important to me or simply what's pissing me off today. Only one person that I know knows about it and I'd like to keep it that way. I love the anonymity of this blog, it makes me feel free. I love being honest but I'm not always good at that, and this has proven to be good practice.

If you don't know what the hell I'm talking about when I discuss my religion and you want to know. Google it, I'm not a teacher.

Country Jane, kinda pissy (you got a problem with that??)

Bittersweet

Tonight was the end.

We were given a gift by our bishop for Holy Week and Pascha. It was a young priest and his wife and daughter. He was to serve the Holy Week services and also Pascha for our parish this year. We looked forward to it as we have not had very many Lenten services with a priest this Lent.

I think our parish grew more spiritually in that one week than we have in the last year. I have never seen more crying than I did tonight at our last vespers that was served by him tonight. I have never had so many of my opinionated friends fall in love with the same priest and his wife so quickly and insist they stay. We have not had a priest that liked us so much and showed us love in a long time. As we speak they are in a car on the way to the airport. All but one of my kids cried when they left our house tonight, and she was sleeping. They are headed back to sunny California and parents and grandparents.

How can us backwoods Alaskans compete with that?

It's in God's hands now. I feel so sad that they are gone. I will be so happy if they return. I don't like feeling such extreme of emotions. I have been crying on and off the last few days (I don't cry) and the kids keep asking me why. I tell them it's a happy cry, but it's not. It's a happy and sad cry at the same time. I will be so sad if they don't come back and I'll be so relieved and happy if they do come back.

Our parish has been on a roller coaster ride for the last 10 years. We have had temporary and "permanent" priests, loving and grumpy priests, but never a priest who said, "If I move here I will die here and I want your sons to bury me here." THAT is what I want, THAT is what I need, THAT is what we all, after all of these years, need. We had our healing priest, we had our priest that bonded us together as an actual church family, we had a priest that gave our parish a shot of adrenaline, and another that, well, tested us. We have also had many bouts of no priest and "I don't know if we'll ever get a priest" and finally, "maybe we don't deserve a priest." We are ready for a spiritual leader. I hope that if he leaves his home and his family behind that we will treat him well and appreciate him, and even if that means it's not him in particular but someone else.

I know God loves us and I know we have had to go through much. I think that's to appreciate much. The Priesthood is much. We took it for granted, I hope we never do that again.

Country Jane, Kleenex in hand

Epitaphios and gospel from Holy Friday

Friday, April 22, 2011

Busy

I can't even begin to tell you how busy we've been these last two weeks.

Last Thursday I started helping to lay down hard wood floor in our parish hall. We finished that on Tuesday and my cousin finished it this Wednesday.  It's been a lot of fun and hubby took this week off so he's been a big help with the kids, but not much school has gotten done.

Chicks started hatching last Thursday thru Sunday. Hubby's project with the kids, they hatched around 160 and sold most of the "extras". We're keeping about 35. The roosters will be our meat chickens this year and the hens we'll keep to lay.

Last Thursday my husband and friend headed to Anchorage to pick up our temporary priest who's from California. Married with a 1-yr-old girl. We were so happy to have a priest for all of the services that are called for during Holy Week and Pascha. Little did we realize that this priest was my husband's long lost (Arab) twin. Last Friday began our 2 church services per day ('till Pascha) schedule, so that's in addition to everything else.

My husband picked up his bee hive on Saturday and will get bees in it this coming Saturday.

Sunday was Palm Sunday one of my favorite feasts of the year. Church was full, Hubby helped baptize another Godson, salmon was awesome and the company was amazing! I even got to wear my new "June Cleaver" dress. When I ran over to my sisters real quick that afternoon I got the van stuck in the mud, argh! So I got out in my nice dress and put on my work gloves and proceeded to gather boards to put under the tires. My brother-in-law finally had to push me out with his 4wheeler. The sun was still shining so it was ok.

Our brown Nubian, finally had her babies (three!) last night during cowboy night. I'd started writing a blog post when he said, "Jane! Now!" and ran out to the garage. I followed and heard her scream. When I got there he was holding a long gooey goat kid by the back legs and there was another on the ground. We called our goat "midwife" and she told me to have him pull up on her belly in case there were any more and there was. It came out backwards and my daughter tickled it's nose with some straw to make it sneeze. They are all beautiful Nubian boys (bummer no girls) but cute none-the-less. They have great lineage so they maybe good heard sires, or, someones dinner (I don't think ours).

Thursday our Bishop came to our parish for our morning and evening service. He met with the parish council while I took my 5-yr-old to town and we got hair cuts and delivered some chicks to a customer.
Today (Holy Friday) I should be making some rolls for tomorrow's fruit and bread feast after liturgy, but I decided to fill you all in on this crazy time.
Tomorrow Hubby is going to pick up his bees and hopefully more eggs to hatch out...the last batch flew out of here since our local hatchery just closed their doors.
Looking forward to tomorrow as Holy Friday is just always a hard day. Much emotion and frustration with friends this year. Each year there is a new test and that's our struggle at this moment. I know that by tomorrow and Sunday that will be gone and we will be enjoying each other's company once again.
Country Jane, anticipating Christ's Resurrection

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

TSA still groping kids...and drug testing them?


This subject is not something I have talked about on here yet, but something that has bothered me quite a bit since October when they started this. TSA, the already ridiculous money sucking time wasting joke of a security agency has the balls to go and start taking naked photos of us with an un-tested x-ray machine. Then if you don't want to go through their machine you can chose to get felt up! I don't like even watching videos of these people getting groped. Men having their sack's felt up and women's boobs being felt all around. No way!

The thing that gets my goat worst of all is the fact that we live in Alaska. I have heard people saying, "well just drive then and stop whining." Really?? Drive through Canada with 6 children, oh, but before we do that we have to get our passports! And Hawaii next year? Nope, can't really drive to HAWAII! The fact is that our beloved government (homeland security, thanks Bush) is giving our freedom the middle finger. I wonder if they started doing cavity searches people would be just fine with that too? Oh, that's ok? What about on your kids?

Country Jane, ranting

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Goals

I always have a million goals on the horizon. Saturday got my summer juices flowing. Mucking out the goat yard, raking the what will be lawn, seeing the first green iris leaves. Now I can't wait for the kids to get their school done for the year so we can spend our days outside working on projects.

chickens working next year's garden
Previous goals (It's nice to see these written down so I don't get discouraged with ALL the things I still want to do, these were my goals not that long ago and now they are achieved):
Build a house on a little land (2 acres with no trees). Have a nice place for the kids to play in the back yard. Have a nice lawn. Start seeds and a small garden. Learn to pressure can. Raise chickens for layers and meat. Get a riding lawn mower so I can mow my little fields. Get my husband or myself to learn to butcher them (husband). Install a wood stove. Finish the downstairs of our 2 story house (now a 5 bedroom). Build a bigger garden, put the chicken coop in the middle and have a run/garden on either side the chickens take turns trading for garden space. Get a grain mill and grind grain for bread. Have a nice compost pile. Have a pretty flower bed. Build a pretty fence (partly done). Plant a tree line for wind protection. Buy a large chest freezer for our harvest, salmon and the caribou my husband hunted. Collect chain link panels for holding goats. Get goats, milk them, make cheese and yogurt, etc. Breed them (and sell the babies, almost there.) Get a 2nd garage fridge for all the milk. Get the credit card paid off.

Current goals:
one of our first milkings of 2 does
Build a root cellar. Learn to dehydrate. Plant another row of trees because the first row is too far to protect from wind. Learn to butcher goats and cook/eat them for a staple. I'd like to do the same with rabbits and I'd love to learn how to do stuff with rabbit fur. I'd like to keep sheep and make things from their wool. Learn to crochet (sister helping me there), learn to spin wool. Build a seed collecting garden, put some asparagus plants in there too, will have to mulch all very well over the winter. Start an apple orchard, build 8-10 foot high fencing for that to keep the tree eating moose out. Build a new bigger deck and put a greenhouse on one end against the house. Learn how to actually build things and not be afraid of it. Stock up on a years worth of food (working on that currently). Grow more root veggies that will last all winter. Grow and can my own tomatoes in a greenhouse. Grow and save more spices. Learn to grow hay and barley. Pay off the house so we won't be actual slaves any longer. Teach my kids to love farming and to love learning and to teach their own kids how important it is.

Husband’s goals, achieved:
making her papa proud
Learn to fish. Get a 4wheeler. Learn to hunt birds (ptarmigan, spruce hen, ducks). Teach kids to shoot. Teach older kids to hunt birds. Learn to hunt larger game so he can teach the kids (ongoing process but much achieved). I think he's leaning to appreciate the farming side of meat collection, he likes knowing he can put this particular animal into the freezer in 3 months. Incubate and hatch out eggs.

This summer's goals, he really mostly thinks a year out at a time at the most, he thinks I’m silly to have grandiose plans:
Learn to tend bees, bees ordered. Build a woodshed, fill it with wood. Go hunting and fishing.

We are both in agreement that we can never prepare for TEOTWASKI if we never learn these skills we were not raised with. Little did we realize how rewarding this life could be.

Country Jane, chomping at the bit

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Liar in Chief

Today Ben Garrison produced another great cartoon that I had to share. His cartoons are too realistic for common papers and my husband turned me onto him.

When my 10-yr-old son saw this he about busted a gut. He also loves to draw cartoons so is always interested in new cartoons. He quickly became serious and said, "But mama, what if Obama sees these things people say about him?" I asked, "What does the first amendment say?" He didn't know, so I had him read it to me.

"Freedom of Speech, Press, Religion and Petition: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise therof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

"What does that mean?" He answers, "It means you can say what you want and not get in trouble."

Good homeschool lesson for today, thank you, Ben.

Country Jane, exercising freedom

Wine

Yes, I love and am currently drinking wine. My husband likes to make it too.

I'm also listening to my Nubian goat humming on the baby monitor. She's at day 145 ready to kid anytime in our garage.

Today we had a blizzard, that sucked but the coffee tasted good and the fire was great...what a treat after not having one for a month because we're almost out of wood.

My girlfriend is having such a hard time in her life and it kills me. I can't rescue her...she has to do that herself. It makes me appreciate my husband and how supportive he is in what we/I do. I would not have such a grand life if not for him and our life we made.

Country Jane, wine anyone?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wacky Wednesday

2-yr-old with a cold, driving me up a wall, time for a movie for mama's reprieve.

Kids turn eggs in the incubator and feed and water the garage-goat. Yes, there's a goat in the garage ready to kid.

Everyone takes their antibiotics since in a family of this size when 3 people get strep, the doctors just give it to everyone.

Get a phone call from a friend for business and personal advice. Miss that girl.

Make oriental salad with the Napa cabbage I bought yesterday...while helping son with math...make the decision not to make dinner tonight, we'll have ramen or leftovers.

Do some work, take a couple of customer's calls, mostly facebook and reading blogs. :p

Bro-in-law comes to do a lock change for me, then takes home my 7-yr-old to help with their kids. I'm relieved as I have girl overload (crying, whining, fighting, screaming, etc) by this point and she's a good baby holder for my sister, I hope she helped.

At 5pm I motivate the kids to do math, I have not been on the ball so can't expect them to be esp when the sun is shining. They can have a gigantic marshmallow if they finish their math by 6pm...they do.

2-yr-old informs me that her poop in the potty is very black, "I promise, I'm serious." she says. Ok, then.

Big kids play rough, I send them outside, the neighbor boy comes over with his dog and 2 of my kids yell at him for it, they get into a fight (verbal) and neighbor boy goes home with dog. Then calls and invites over the child who was not yelling at him. He told me what happened on the phone and I sent 2 kids over to apologize and then straight home. They get to muck out the goat yard.

2-yr-old falls in mud, gets a bath, then goes back outside...naked.

I attempt to bribe the 5-yr-old to do a reading lesson with the gigantic marshmallow trick, we got through one.


I pull out the quilt top I'm ALMOST done with for my mother-in-law to work on, so close!


Get the second to last kid to finish his English. Today's assignment is copying and memorizing a Psalm or two amendments in the Bill of Rights. He has chosen Psalm 8, very short.

Visit the goat. My daughter discovered how to make her stand super still, by scratching her with a stubby stick...good for photos.

I'm impressed by some of the messes in my house and at my ability to cope with them just fine if my head is in the right place. I'm much nicer when I can tolerate the messes.



Son uses choke chain to take his two little sisters as slaves...puts it on their wrists and puts them in the goat pen. Give a lesson that that's not appropriate play.

The time is now 8:05pm, it's still very light, son just got home from friends house and it's time for bed soon but we're finally getting to dinner lots of leftovers...sorry folks, mama's just not on that ball today. At least the 2 oldest kids like that salad I made earlier, and thank God for ramen.

Country Jane, feelin groovy






Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday sewing a spring skirt

Today the sun was shining, and it was a whopping 40 degrees outside! I have hardly done any sewing this winter and the bug bit all of a sudden. I put on my flip flops and grabbed some purple linnin-ish fabric off of the shelf and searched online for "sewing a skirt on the bias". I found this website and found it very cool with helpful instructions.

I'm not much of a "follow the instructions" kind of girl and even with the coolness factor on this one I had a hard time and messed mine up.

I knew I wanted a skirt on the bias, I have two others that I bought and I realized the reason I like them so much is because they hang wonderfully because of the bias.



I started by using some cord and marking it with my waist (widest) and length. The only problem is I just didn't have enough fabric, so I had to cut it shorter. Then it was too short so I used the extra pieces to form a 4 inch ruffle for the bottom. I assembled the bottom with my 5 panels I had and the ruffle piece. Then the waist band was next. This method I found cuts a fitted t-shirt in half and you sew that on for the waist. Easy concept.


 It just didn't fit right. The color from the purple to the yellow was off and it made my belly pooch stick out (yes 6 kids do that, heck one does that). I like more fitted skirts so I decided to do the top over. Then I realized I just had too many panels to make it fitted, so I had to take that out. First I seam ripped off the bottom.

 Then I cut out the little panel 'cause it was faster.
I sewed the sides back up and decided to do the top before I put back on the bottom ruffle. I ended up leaving 2 inches open at the top and sewing on a little hidden snap closure. But as I'm wearing it now I know I'll have to re-visit this as it's still just too big on me. Perhaps I'll take in a seam or two... Finally the ruffle went back on and at around 9pm I had a skirt. Took FOREVER, but I'm still pleased as I like this style, it's flattering and I'll probably wear it for Pascha. My girls and husband also approve. :)


Country Jane, swishing

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sick and Kitchen

If you dont' give a hoot about kitchens you can read the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs and end there, you won't miss much. I hate long blog posts unless I'm really interested in what I'm reading about.

Leigh at 5 Acres And A Dream wrote today asking questions about her new kitchen design and for advice. By the time I got to to the bottom to leave a comment there were 27 already. Well, humph, she doesn't really need my advice anyway. After all she's probably older than me and everyone already gave their wonderful input. But it's funny because she's asking the same questions I was asking myself and friends 12 years ago when we were building our house. She asked GREAT questions in fact. So I decided to just write a blog post on that since it sounded fun, and a kitchen is a very important part of a country girl's life.

Oh, and the sick thing...I've been sick for FOUR DAYS! as in "in bed" kinda sick. Really nasty crud, fever, headache, and I could go on. My husband has been amazing and at the moment he's in town after cooking dinner the last 3 nights letting the kids each pick out something in the frozen section to bring home...how fun for them! 6 little kids at the store? Not sure as much fun for him. But there he is. He's also getting a baby monitor because apparently I have either locked ours up in a cute little suitcase I got at the thrift store and we can't figure out the combo now to get it open, or they are just plain lost. We need one NOW because our goat is getting ready to kid and we need to be able to hear her. Today he built a huge dog kennel in our garage for her to kid in. Oh and he also put 150 eggs into the incubator (next to the kidding pen) so we'll have a ton of chicks come Palm Sunday, and maybe some baby goats too!

While he was at church tonight I made the kids do their best work possible on the kitchen that has been neglected by "mama" for the last 4 days. Kitchens get very sad when used but abused that long. I do love my kitchen. In fact I quickly came to realize that when ever my kitchen was bugging me or I would lust after other nice kitchens in magazines that I should do one thing, DECLUTTER MINE! Guess what, it always works. Back to the kids. I gave my daughter the phone and told her to take a picture so I could "inspect" from my bed. Not too shabby. The clutter is there, but that's my fault, it's been a while since I DECLUTTERED!

kind of a lame picture and I have no idea what that is on the floor

I think instead of answering Leigh's questions I'll just go on explaining what I did where and why. I put a ton of thought into the kitchen, the most out of any other room when designing the house.

Most obvious, cabinets. This was not planned but I'm very grateful for. Our friend who built custom cabinets wanted to give us a bid and I laughed. He said, "No really, can I?" I said, "OK, but you're wasting your time because we can't afford you." Turns out he wanted a website and he and my husband swapped $1000 right there. Then he was able to not make them all wood. I don't think I would repeat this, though, at least not on drawers that are used 20x per day...the junk drawer, the silverware drawer, the kids plate bowl and cup drawer, and the utensil drawer have all either broken or are breaking and they are very hard to repair the melamine/particle board. But I imagine this is what would happen on most ordered cabinets also. Other than that I love them, he made them custom to what I wanted, I knew what I wanted where for the most part and that helped me figure it all. Much was based on my mother's custom cabinets she saved and saved for and that helped me too.

I don't have an appliance garage. I don't like them generally, they are impractical. You can't move them and what if you get new or not fitting appliances? You have more than one anyway so why bother. My mom has one and the only kind I would get...Her pantry is at the very end of her counter across from the oven the garage is actually in the side of her pantry. The garage opens like a > shape and pushes out of the way to the back of the counter. In there are her Kitchen Aid and her electric can opener (which I refuse to buy). I opted for a hall way closet pantry, MUCH CHEAPER!!!

At the time of building we only had 2 kids, but knew we were far from done. We're now up to 6 and still probably not done. I wanted to plan for a big enough kitchen with out having to remodel after 10 years. So far, so good.

Triangle? Yes, I have to admit, I fell for the triangle. But I think it's important. I have a feeling that people with out one are the ones who are complaining about their kitchen more and the people with one just take it for granted or don' notice. You don't ever realize what you take for granted in your home or apartment until you move into one with out one, that can mean anything including a triangle, so I didn't dare waiver from that. I ended up with a square if you count in my "baking counter" where my Kitchen Aid sits and under that I have my 3 baking drawers. Top being some spices and measuring spoons, baking cups, mortar/pestle, whisks, electric mixer beaters, toothpicks, etc. Second down being the "flour" drawer, 2 tubs of different flours, sifters, kitchen towels, aprons, various grains, any dried fruits happen to go there as well as nuts. Third down is all the baking goods: baking powder, Crisco, brown sugar, powdered sugar, pectin, Jello, cocoa powder, electric mixer, turkey baster, etc, etc. Above this counter I have the spice cupboard full of spices, salt, pepper, baking soda, spice seeds, Pyrex glass measuring set, and on top some cook books and recipe box. The spices are used so much in cooking that I really like having them right there so I can grab, turn around, dump into pot. Much of my food now needs to be fetched from the garage but that's what kids are for, or you just go gather your things before you cook.

Blue counter top? Well, no. I would not do this over. That's a good place to stay neutral, you can change anything else pretty easily but not that.

Butcher block? YES! It's not a traditional butcher block, but it is a whole island covered with wood. My builder wanted to know if I actually planned to cut on it? YES, of course! A kitchen should be used and abused. He said that my favorite place to cut would eventually wear a small divot into it (kind of as a warning) I don't think he was used to building for people who actually wanted to cut on their butcher block. All the better! I said, I loved that idea of the wood being worn down over time. When we had people over the first time our friend said, "Wow! You could butcher a whole moose up here!" and he was right, we could, but have not. We have done plenty of salmon, caribou and chickens! The mainly used area by me is that small part right next to the stove in the island. The kids can get on their stool and watch or help while I stand next to the stove. If we're doing a large project like working on salmon, my husband will clear the whole 5 feet of that side and cut there (I get to clean up). The wood needs more TLC than our Formica, meaning some oil every now and then, but doing that makes it look just beautiful!

Bar stools? YES! I waited a while to get the perfect bar stools, had 3 matching ones (where they swivel but the bars come around the child so they don't fall out) but eventually 2 broke and my mom gave us her 2 good ones, so we're at hodge-podge mode on them. Oh well. I have been surprised at how much MEN LOVE BAR STOOLS!!! All of our man friends head straight for them. They can see people in the kitchen, in the dining room, and in the living room. They are great. They are great over-flow for when we have company and the kids are put there.

Sink: I went with a white cast iron different size on either side. I still like it. The left side is extra big and deep and I still love that. I grew up with a garbage disposal so felt that it was needed, but after having chickens and a dog and see what they do to sewers I have changed my tune, we never got one. The Delta faucet was snapped off by a child last year. I really liked that it pulled out and I could easily grab and spray, etc. I left for Lowe's that night and called my hubby with the question, "should I get the one to replace ours that's only $100 or should I spend double and get the really pretty one that I really love?" As usual his answer, "get what you want!" He pretty much hates me to complain and I hate me complaining. **Tangent: Something we discovered again when building was a compromise. We had an opportunity to get CHEAP windows 'cause they ordered ours wrong. And I'm normally a penny pincher so I was having a very hard time with this. Get the plain windows or go back to the company and say, "we want what we ordered and are willing to pay full price". So he surely didn't care and he knows he has to live with me for a long time...he says, "hon, you have to choose, but what ever it is that you choose, you can't ever complain about it, ok?" I had to agree and decide. I opted to spend the money and get what I wanted and I have never regretted it. Tangent Over** Same goes for the faucet, even thought it cost double (or more, shh) It makes my kitchen sparkle and gives of that "new" feel and that "hey look at how beautiful I am" feel which is fun to have in a 12-yr-old kitchen.

Window? Yes, nice big south facing one that frames in one of our beautiful mountains perfectly! I only have a valance on the top and have often wished for a curtain for really bright sunny days or when I don't want the neighbors peering in at night, but we're far-ish away from them so it's fine.

Well, Leigh, I believe I gave my opinion on many of your questions and had fun boasting about my kitchen in the meantime. I certianlly love that room and still get complimented on it (as long as the island is not covered in papers, or moose.)

Country Jane, still sick in bed