Toile Background

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Week of Firsts: Baby Chicks, Treehouse Building, & GRASS FIRE!

This is a picture of our family, all who live at Heritage Farm. LEFT TO RIGHT: Me, Joshua-9, James (my husband), Hannah-12, Karen (my mother-in-law), Howard (my father-in-law), Holly (my sister-in-law, who will be leaving us soon for her two-year mission to the East Africa), FRONT ROW: Noah-5, Luke-7, Nemo (our oldest beagle), and Nate-4

Last Saturday, my mother-in-law and I surprised the family by bringing home 12 baby chicks, just three days old! 

We got three each of Rhode Island Reds, White Leghorns, Black Astralorp, and Ameraucanas. They're all hens and going to be great egg layers!

This is our first time ever raising chickens. So far, so good. Oh, they are so fun!

My husband has been leading a treehouse building project in some small trees close to our house. The kids are SOOOOO excited! Even Papa joined in the fun!
Hannah's cutting branches off the tree

Dad is teaching Josh how to cut the wood

Nate didn't help much, but he was having fun!

Luke's always in the middle of the action!

Coco (3 months) wasn't sure they knew what they were doing.

When we bought our property, there was a extra-large chain-link pen towards the very back that appeared to have housed a horse. A farmer-friend told us it would make a perfect goat pen. All we would have to do is remove some wood that was thrown in there, mow down all the dry, overgrown grass, and begin to water it to green it up.

Two days ago, the kids and I began to tackle this project. We removed all the wood pieces (very carefully, in case any snakes lived underneath). Then my oldest son drove our riding lawnmower out to the pen to mow it.

There were three large holes in the center of the pen. They were hard to see, as the dried grass had grown up in them and around them. Josh mowed everything else, saving the area with the holes for last.

When he was finished mowing the majority of the pen, we carefully planned out how to straddle the holes with the tractor to mow around them. We successfully mowed over the first two holes. The last hole was the largest. Josh got off the tractor, examined the hole and the best tactic for tackling it, and we went forward with a plan.

Unfortunately, our plan didn't work. The nose of the tractor went down into the hole. I motioned to Josh to turn the tractor off, which he did almost immediately. But as soon as he did, flames ignited from underneath the nose of the tractor. I screamed at Josh to jump off, and he didn't hesitate!

Those flames began to spread fast. I remembered I had just hooked up a brand new hose that morning at the water spout outside the pen, and Josh and I ran to the hose. We got it turned on and I began squirting with all my might! I sent Josh to run to the house to get Nana. He later told me he ran with so much adrenalin, he didn't get tired at all.

The hose kept kinking, which was frustrating. I only had my thumb to make a spray. The flames were going the opposite direction from me, and were getting out of reach. There are eucalyptus trees on the other side of the chain-link fence. I was pulling the hose to get closer so I could keep the flames from getting to the trees.

Nana (my mother-in-law) grabbed a hose from near the house and came out to hook it up to the second spout. She began spraying the other side of the pen. Meanwhile, my sister-in-law, Holly, called 911.

Between hanging up with 911 and the firetrucks actually arriving, we had put out the whole fire, which had burned probably 60% of the goat pen. The firemen said we didn't do too bad...

The firemen said they see six to eight of these kinds of fires each summer, from riding lawnmowers. What often happens is that dry grass gets built up in the belt underneath the tractor, and as that belt continues to spin, the friction causes the grass to ignite.

The firemen said our motor was fine, but we'd need to get it tuned up. The heat did pop a tire, though.

My two little guys LOVE firetrucks, and the firemen were kind enough to let them sit inside.

God's hand was in so many aspects of this event.
1. Joshua wasn't hurt at all. I was so proud of him and how he kept such a level head, immediately jumping into action. No panicking at all! Without him, things could have been very different.
2. What a blessing that I had just hooked up that new hose by the goat pen that morning. If I would have had to run back to the house to get a hose, that fire would have really gotten out of control.
3. The fire didn't start until the pen was 99% mowed, meaning everything was short. If it would have ignited any sooner, the flames would have been much higher, and would have ignited the tree branches hanging over inside the pen. As it was, our flames were very short.
4. Thank God the nearby eucalyptus trees didn't ignite. Our farmer-friend had just told us, earlier in the week, to get those trees off our property. They have many negative qualities, one of which is that they burn VERY hot.

The firemen told us, in the future, to mow early in the morning, and, while you're mowing, to check the belts periodically for grass build-up.

Tomorrow morning, my oldest two children (Hannah - 12, Joshua - 9) and I will depart for a week-long missions trip to Baja, Mexico. We will build a small 400 sq ft house for a single mother and her three children. This is the first time my children have ever been on a missions trip, so I cannot wait to expose them to it. We'll let you know how it goes!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Third Week on Heritage Farm

In many ways, life in the country is similar to life in the city. But in more ways, it's very different. It may be because we're still settling and getting things in order, but there's a lot more things that interrupt your routine. I have a plan for each and every day, but that plan doesn't always happen. Hired help shows up to work on something, a dog has a tick that needs to be removed, we find a dead animal that needs to be buried (I'll tell you about that in a minute), the mower/tractor won't start...always something. But it's always exciting and fun! We are having a blast! I think the best part is watching the creativity in my children - they are always coming up with some new adventure or activity to engage in outdoors. They don't get bored. I love that!

Last week, while my two oldest were gone to Kids' Camp, I was on my morning walk with my four dogs around the property's perimeter when I came upon a dead headless duck. Our rear neighbors have a very large duck pond on their property, and I'm sure this duck was one of theirs. I'm not sure how it got on our side of the fence, and what took it's head but left it's body. A farmer-friend suspects a raccoon. But to detract other wild animals from coming, the little guys and I buried it. The boys really thought they were true farmers with that job!

The same rear neighbors have a tree that has fallen down and is leaning across our fence and onto our property. My daughter decided to make it her place to pray and read her Bible each morning.

Once all the boys discovered the tree, they made it their "tree house hide-out." They've been nailing random boards to it and painting it, all kinds of things.

One morning, my missionary sister-in-law, Holly, and my oldest boy, Josh, went on a jog and discovered a dirt path leading to railroad tracks. Along those tracks, they found blackberry bushes. They came back to get the rest of us, and we all went berry picking. That was the highlight of my week!

One guy couldn't wait until we got home to eat the berries

I've also been preparing for the new school year this week. All curriculum is ordered. We actually already have our subscription to Time 4 Learning, so I have two of my boys doing 30 minutes a day of that now. We've been talking about what activities each child wants to sign up for - some want gymnastics, some want to play sports, all will be doing music lessons. I'm trying to get everything in order before the two oldest children and I got on a week-long missions trip to Baja, Mexico at the end of this month. I'd like to start school shortly after we return.

And that's what's been happening at Heritage Farm this week!

Friday, July 13, 2012

My Farmer Boy

We've been in our new country home for two weeks now. Time has flown! There's always something to do here. The kids find plenty of activities. They love it here, and I have heard them a couple times talking to each other and saying, "I like this house!" "Me, too!" When I call them in for lunch, they will say, "It's lunchtime already?" In our city home, it was always, "When's lunchtime?" I get so busy with projects, I look at the clock, and can't believe it's time to start cooking dinner. I'm sure time will slow a bit in the winter, but with sunny days, we're getting quite a bit done.

I have one son, in particular, who's really taken to the farm life! Perhaps it's because we read Tim Tebow's book, and Tim talks about becoming "farmer strong" as a young boy living on a farm. Or maybe it's just because he's begged to move to the country for so long. My oldest boy, Joshua, is nine years old, and very responsible. He loves to work. The first day we were here, he was helping fill some ankle-breaking holes on the land.
Everyone in our family has rubber boots. Josh loves his cowboy hat, too!
Before we moved, I was shopping for a riding lawnmower on Craigslist, and found one for sale in Wilton, where our new country home is. Turned out the guy who had the tractor lived walking distance from our new place. We bought the tractor, and the guy was nice enough to hold on to it for us until we moved. So the day finally came to go pick up our new-to-us tractor. Guess who got to drive it home?

Isn't he adorable?
And Josh wasted no time. He immediately mowed the front and back lawns, and did a fabulous job! He loved every minute of it!

The younger boys looked on with hopes that, someday, they, too, will be capable of doing big-boy jobs like their big brother!
Nathan, 4 years old, with his boots and kiddie shovel

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Tour Our New Country Home (Pt. 2) & Our First Country Scare

We're all moved in, and slowly getting settled. Yesterday, I gave you a tour of the outside spaces of our new country home, Heritage Farm. Today, I'd like to show you the inside of our beautiful home. Then, I'll share with you a little scare we had over the weekend.

Come on inside...
This is our entrance - the front door
This is the view when you walk in the front door - you are in the living room/dining room
This is our (messy) living room
Standing at the dining room table, this is the view of our kitchen. The kitchen is quite small, so I added these bakers' racks to help store larger items. I LOVE them!

View from the kitchen out to the back porch

Standing in the hallway, this is the view of the kitchen and out to the back porch.

Headed down the hallway to the back of the house, the first door on the right is the kids' black and white bathroom.
A little further and to the left is Noah & Nathan's Playhouse Disney bedroom. It was already painted this way, and they liked it so much, they wanted to keep it. (Again, still unpacking.)

The next door, on the right, across the hallway from Nathan & Noah's room, is our master bedroom and bathroom. We have a beautiful view of the backyard. We also have the desk in our room.
The next door you come to as you walk down our hallway is the original door to the garage, which was converted to living space. Currently, my husband's parents are using it as living space (until we build our own house).

These built-ins were already here, along with the wall art. My husband's parents use this area as a kitchen. They were even able to fit their pub table (in the left of the picture).
These built-ins were also in my in-laws converted living room space. So nice!

If you keep walking through my in-laws living room, there's another separate small room. Currently, my sister-in-law, who is a missionary, is staying in this room. She will be leaving at the end of the month for a two-year term in the Comoros Islands. At that time, my in-laws will take over this space to use for their office and other storage.

Back to the hallway, the next thing you see, past the converted garage, is this lovely view! These built-ins were also included already, and they store SOOOOO much stuff! I'm in love!

I even found this space across from the built-in bookshelves to hang my homeschool posters.

The next door on the left is Joshua & Luke's bedroom. Their window looks out at the front porch.
Josh & Luke have these wonderful built-in desk & shelves in their bedroom.
And at the very end of the hallway (which is L-shaped), is Hannah's teeny-bopper heaven. Her windows look out to the front yard. The house is so well insulated that we hardly hear her singing at the top of her lungs to her music. Unfortunately, she hardly hears us when we call for her, as well.

I didn't show you our laundry room, our hallway pantry shelves, or the master bedroom, but hopefully, you get a feel for how our home is laid out. I was fearful that going from 2600 sq ft to 1800 sq ft would be too difficult, but I absolutely LOVE the size. Having so much outdoor space makes everything feel roomier! I'm very comfortable!

Our weekend scare...
Several months ago, a gentleman in our church gave us an adult-sized go-cart, as his children were grown, and they no longer wanted it. It sat in our city-home garage all this time, wondering if we'd ever have a place to drive it.

Then this property came along, and all of a sudden, we had five acres to play on with the go-cart. Dad and the kids fired it up and took it for a spin, and everyone had a blast. On the 4th of July, the go-cart was the highlight of the party. Everyone had fun driving it around!

Hannah taking Dad for a spin.
Josh loved to drive 5 year-old brother Noah around. Joshua can't reach the pedal to make it go very fast, so they put around.

Well, on Friday, we had a little accident. Joshua turned a little too sharp left, and Noah, who WAS wearing the seat belt, fell out on the other side somehow. The back tire ran over his arm, giving him a really bad road rash. He also scraped the other forearm and elbow pretty bad, as well as his forehead and the tip of his nose. I was concerned about the large road rash, and decided to take him to the ER.

When we got there, they decided to treat him in the trauma unit, just because he was ran over by a go-cart. I really didn't sense he had any broken bones or any head injuries, but they wanted to be safe rather than sorry. They put him on a gurney and wheeled him off to a trauma room which had 12 doctors and nurses waiting for his arrival. It was straight out of a scene from "Trauma: Life in the ER." They cut his shirt off, put a neck brace on him, and started examining him from head to toe, documenting every scrape on his body. It was crazy!

He was amazing! He didn't cry at all (except for right after the accident while at home), he answered all their questions, and did everything they asked him to do. They put in an IV, took x-rays of his chest, back, and both arms, as well as a CT scan of his head. He endured it all. They said, "We've had patients far older than you that do not behave this good."

Thank our precious God, all those x-rays and scans and blood tests came back perfectly normal. It was just a soft tissue injury. After about three hours, they finally began to wash his wounds and bandage him up, and that's when the crying began. They did give him morphine, but it didn't seem to help. He hated the cleaning of those wounds!

Nana tried to make Noah happy with this teddy bear. Joshua felt so responsible and was really sad.
Little brother Nate was very worried about brother, and asked Papa to bring him up to the hospital towards the end.
That morphine is nasty stuff! Not only did it make him itch everywhere, but it knocked him out for the ride home. Later that evening, he threw up.

We are all so grateful to God that Noah didn't have any more injuries! He's not happy to change the bandages each evening, but his arm is already beginning to heal. He's getting LOTS of pampering. He's very loved by his whole family! Today, he played just like he always does, jumping on the trampoline, running around, and acting goofy. Kids are so resilient!