Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Tues. night:

Something very creepy just happened. I got home at 7. It was dark. The dogs both came out to greet me and I went inside. Two hours later. Went outside to put up the horses and my great pyr was whining down the gully and wouldn't come. So i thought he was hurt and got a flashlight, woke Zack up to come help me get him. It's very steep and rocky there. Found him tied to a sapling with a haystring, a slip knot on his neck and hard knot on the tree. It did not look like an accidental tangle. So it looks like someone came here within the past 2 hours, took the most difficult route possible to get away, and tied my dog up on their way out. it's very dark outside, no moonlight.

For the first time since I've lived here i am scared.


Zack thought of what it was. Garrison had set a snare with haystrings, trying to catch a rabbit. OMG. it was one of his walk-through snares. I was getting really freaked out and had put the dog in the house in the hopes that he would do better at alerting me from in here than he did out there.

Good thing we didn't have to wait this long to catch something to eat, though! how funny now, but i was truly sweating for a little while there. Our imaginations were running wild. Even bigfoot and ghosts were getting into the mix, haha.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


It was 11*F when I checked the temp at 6 a.m. Feels pretty darn cold. Poor duckie can't swim in his pond, but it was funny watching him walk all over it quacking his discontent.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Did it Again

I'm getting better at this, so practice must help. Another deer down - a doe and on Hwy. 74, again. This time, though, I managed to slow down enough so that it hit on the corner of the front bumper and only busted one fog light and cracked the headlight. I rarely get over 50 on that stretch of highway, anyway, but I was going slower than that this time because I'd already slowed for a few deer before this one a mile or so before. It helped that I was driving the full size truck and not a small car or the jeep full of plastic grill. The deer flew over a steep embankment and I couldn't retrieve it. So, there's a new set of burnt rubber on the pavement.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Gab's deer

It's a little lopsided in the antlers, and had a gimpy leg - a good one to cull. She did good!

Gab's Hunt

Ha! This morning Gab bagged an 8- point. You'd have to know the history of the conflict between my daughter and my sons to understand just how incredibly strange this is. When she was little, she hated the idea of hunting and would always chase whatever my son was stalking away, starting with blackbirds and his bb gun. So this season she decides she wants to kill a deer and none of us seriously believed she would follow through. Guess she proved us wrong. I'm waiting on pictures and then I'll upload.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Opening Day

Modern gun season opened today and my boys were ready. Even my daughter went hunting for the first time. Apparently, she'd gone through their closets last night pilfering camo. When they got up this morning to get dressed, they were hopping mad because they were missing some of the things they planned to wear.
Zack (human), Chester (dog), and Rachel (cat)


Badger and Garrison. Badger wants to go hunting, too. They never let him go.

Zack successfully procured some dinner.

Saturday, November 07, 2009


We didn't see any deer this morning. It was so windy that they probably just stayed bedded down. When I got back to the house, I decided to ride Snippy. He's been recovering from a severe white line, or separation, in all but one hoof. This was a result of his visit to a corn feeder over the mountain in late spring. His hooves are looking much better now, but we haven't been riding him. His trimmer, Dell Watkins (who, by the way is an excellent barefoot trimmer), loaned me some Boa Boots to use on him. You can see them in the picture; they're on his back feet. We rode around a little bit, and then I came back to the house and swapped the saddle and bridle over to Comanche. He's a lot taller than Snippy, but skinnier. Snippy is a quarter horse, Comanche is half Missouri Fox Trotter/half Spotted Saddle Horse. Comanche will never be as chunky as Snippy, just because of the difference in breed traits. He's not trained yet, but he saddles, cinches and takes the bit just fine. Except that he chews on the bit because he's not accustomed to how it feels. I climbed on and off a few times to give him some experience with me mounting and dismounting. He was unfazed. I turned him around in a circle, but could not get him to go forward. After that, I just let them stand tied to the hitching post while I would be around for the next few hours, working around the yard.

Garrison helped me hang the gate properly on the stall. That took a little while. We had to drill holes in the post and screw in the gate hangers. Then we worked on the fence a little.

You can see that Comanche has a bunch of cockleburs in his forelock again. I couldn't get them out.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Youth Hunt

Tomorrow is youth day for deer hunting with guns. Zack (Garrison's older brother) was planning to bring him out to the stand to sit with him, but now Zack has to work. Guess who gets to go deer hunting tomorrow with Garrison?? Yes, that would be me. I'll worry about what to do with it if we get one, if we get hurdle at a time. Getting out of bed and to the stand before daylight will be the first hurdle, and sitting there quietly for however long it takes is the second hurdle. The odds of making it to the third hurdle is not so great with me as a hunting partner, lol.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Waylaid Again

Best laid plans just don't seem to work out lately. Today I intended to change out the top element of my hot water heater because it keeps tripping the breaker. I changed the bottom one recently, so my dad figured the top one would be the problem. A couple people said that since I was only changing the top one, I wouldn't have to wait for the whole hot water tank to drain; just drain it past the top one. So I said, okay, that will save some time...although I really didn't know how one would tell WHEN the water level is past the top element. So I started draining the water a while ago. I watched the hose and water was coming out. Let it go for a while, figured it was probably good, but for good measure I'd let it drain a bit longer. Okay, NOW it must be at least past the top element, right?

Wrong. I struggled a bit to get the old element loose, using a special tool and a screwdriver. I should have taken the hint then to wait a little longer. But no, I push forward, finally got it loose and a rush of water comes pouring out all over the floor and just keeps on coming.

I'm hollering for Garrison to bring me some towels and he just dumps a few dirty clothes down there for me. No, I want ALL the towels, clean ones dirty ones, it doesn't matter, just bring me some towels. But mom, we just got these folded and put away....Just bring them!

Finally I have enough towels to mop up all the water, that now has quit gushing out the hole where the top element should have stayed for at least 10 more minutes. All the insulation is wet, plus the insulation for the bottom element. So now I will have to get a blowdryer and dry all the contacts in there, and wait for the insulation to dry before I can get it all put back together and turned on. Hot water will be a good bit farther down the road today.

There are a couple lessons here for us homesteading gals on our own. First, this element can be reused. See the picture up there? Daddy said its the rust that is causing it to short out right there at the base. If I clean the rust off, I can use it again. So I'm putting that element away to use later in a pinch. The other lesson is just drain the whole darn tank. It's more time consuming to clean the mess and wait for insulation to dry than it is to wait for the water to finish draining all the way down.


This morning I got up before the sun crept over the mountaintop. I fed the horses and sat down for a spell to enjoy the sunrise. The first finger reached way over the tops of the ridge to the south and west. For a long time the only thing with bright illumination was that mountaintop. Then the next finger crept over the top of the mountain east, brightening the southeast corner of that ridge. In short order the sun's orb showed itself in a blinding splash of light. At that point, I picked out Snippy's hooves and turned them loose. No particular reason for waiting; I just wanted to watch the sunrise. It's always late here because of the close proximity of the mountains. The final show arrived at about 7:40. That's about one hour later than the flat-landers.

With last night's time change, I was able to get up before the sun and feel like an early riser. Tonight, though, I'll take back all the nice things I felt because it will get dark an hour earlier than the night before, and I don't particularly like that. It means that Friday was the last day until March 25 that I'll get home from work before the sun is completely down. So, I'll leave when it's dark and get home when it's dark. I don't like that at all.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Horses and the Best Laid Plans

Comanche: Snippy, with Gab riding, and Comanche coming around the corner with attitude:
These are pictures from summer, not this morning, LOL. It was too chilly this morning for shorts and short sleeves!

But it is a gloriously sunny day today. This morning when I went outside to look for the horses, it was chilly, around 40*F, but not uncomfortable with a jacket. Snippy foundered recently because he gorged himself in early spring on corn in a deer feeder over the mountain next to ours. It was luck that he didn't die right then from colic, but he seemed to be fine.

I waited, knowing how long it takes for incidents like that to show up in their hooves. Right on schedule, about six months later, he foundered. Bad separation in one hoof, and two more started not far behind. Only one hoof was spared. Three out of four were in bad shape; at least he had one good leg to stand on. It was beginning to look like he'd need surgical work from a vet, so I got busy digging herbs.

Between hoof soaks with my herbal germ-killing and cell proliferating formula, taking him off grass and rocky ground, and a good high copper hoof vitamin, he is now almost completely mended. It is almost a miracle that he went from so lame to running over rocks in a little more than one month.

Yesterday, he figured he was good to go and busted out of his stall, taking off for the field on the other side of the creek with his cohort, Comanche. The boys and I think he and Comanche had been planning this bust for a little while. By the light of the moon it was easy to find them, but Snippy had no intention of returning so soon to his confinement. He ran like there was no tomorrow, skimming over rocks and uneven ground as if he were born to the terrain (in actuality, he was born in S. Louisiana where a person has to BUY rocks if they want them, imported from places like here). So I left them out last night.

This morning, they both came running to a bucket shaken with a little feed and again, he acted like there were no rocks in his path. I think he is mended. Called Gab, who stayed the night with a friend and told her that the horse is ready to ride.

Today is a day for re-organizing, cleaning, and getting my plans together for the next phase of cabinets and painting. My bedroom needs to be painted still, and I need to pack up the rest of my things from the old house so we can finish the demolition. There's a lot to do, but I can't get anything accomplished without a plan, so that's the order of the day. Tomorrow I want to work on expanding the winter pen for Snippy. I'll keep him penned during the winter so they won't run away over to the hunting clubs again, looking for deer feeders.

Friday, October 30, 2009

More Rain!

It rained a lot yesterday, apparently. It didn't look like all that much to me, but the ditches and runoff waterfalls on the mountains disagreed. I had planned to go to a writer's meeting in Fayetteville after work, but Zack called to say that the bridges were already flooded down the road and that meant a long trip in the back way. So, I decided to not attend the meeting and just go home instead.

Lucky thing, too. By the time I'd picked Gabrielle up from her friend's house and started toward home, a lot more rain had fallen. We decided to try the first alternate route, where there is only one bridge to cross. That wouldn't work because that creek was swollen and the bridge was already flooded. The only other route is almost an hour of dirt road, but other than opting to stay in town, it was the only choice. So we went that way.

To say there is no bridge is a little deceiving. The reason there is no bridge is because the road just goes through the creek down near the end of our driveway. The water was pretty high in that spot, and I stopped the truck and backed up to the last neighbor's house instead. Made a call to Zack to let him know where we were and decided we'd better walk it first to see just how deep it was.

Gab and I, with flashlights and supervision from our neighbor Don, rolled up our pants and waded in. The water was freezing! I see why people get hypothermia after getting caught in flash floods. We stopped when the water reached our knees and we hadn't made it to the swift part yet. Just a little too scary for me. So Don cranked up the school bus and we drove across it in the bus to get an idea of how deep it would be. The water only came up to the second step for a little while (that's the determining factor). We thought the truck would make it.

And it did. But the water reached the bottom of the headlight at the lowest point, and that's a little out of my comfort zone for crossing creeks and I won't do it again. This morning it was a lot lower and we left after daybreak so we could see. But the kids got to school late and I was really late getting into work.

Hope we get our sunny weather forecasted for the weekend. We need to dry out a bit.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Now it is finished, except for the grabber clip I'll put in the top corner to keep the corner tightly closed. Knobs are on, trim on, all that's left is paint.


Almost finished. Ignore the mess around the pantry - when I'm working on a project, all other work seems to get put on hold... so clutter remains, dishes stay dirty, pretty much nothing else but the project gets done. So, you can see that it still needs a handle on the bottom door, and a gripper thingie on the top of the top door, either a magnet or one of those clips that hold a door tight...don't know what they're called. But my drill bit broke while putting the handle on the other door, so I'll have to wait until I can get back to Lowe's for a bit. Also still needs top molding and on both sides at the bottom molding. But the last piece of molding is in the back of the truck - and Gab has the truck. Otherwise, it's done. Well, it needs to be painted, too. But that's a different project.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Probably close to the end

This is the west side of our mountain. The property line is right about halfway and goes over the top. This is the view out the driver side of the vehicle as you travel down the county road.

Just more pretty color. This is down a logging road at the house on Bradshaw mountain where my parents house-sit for a lady who travels to California during winter.

If the wind blows too hard, the rest of the color will blow away. The leaves are falling and it won't be long before the limbs are bare. The title pic is a dogwood with next spring's bloom lying in wait.

Monday, October 19, 2009

More color

Garrison called me to come take a picture of the oak this morning. He was right, the oak was shining in Fall Splendor once the sun made it over the mountain. The title picture is the view to the east from the porch or the balcony. The tree must be over 200 years. It has a partner, a red oak, about 50-100 feet west, but it is struggling to survive an oak borer infection and the carpenter ants have moved in. It is about the same age but not nearly as robust.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pantry Progress

Okay, I'm feeling pretty good about the pantry now. So far it's coming along better than I expected. The door, though, presents a real challenge. I have no idea how to do it! I'll post the finished pantry hopefully tomorrow. Maybe tonight if I get real lucky.

First Frost

This picture did not capture the color or the image I wanted to share. It is the view from my bedroom balcony and the sun was just popping over the mountain to the east at 8:20 a.m. And then my camera battery went dead again. Something must be wrong with my battery, because I'd just charged it the other day when this happened, so I probably will need to buy a new one soon. Anyway, this morning it was just below freezing and a layer of frost coated all the windshields. It was our first frost. The sun has been up a couple hours, but situated as we are in a valley with mountains close beside, it takes a while for it to get high enough to shine into my window. When it shines on the opposing mountains and valley, it lights up the colors of the western side. The battery is back on the charger again, but the lighting won't be the same by the time it's ready to reload, unfortunately. Maybe tomorrow will give another opportunity. It's been raining and overcast so much lately, that this is the first time I've seen the sun so bright in the morning in a long time. It was a welcome sight!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blazing Leaves

The maples are almost glowing, a luminous yellow-orange, and my camera battery was dead today. Not to worry, it is on the charger tonight and tomorrow I should be able to get some pretty pictures to post of the fall colors 2009. I'll take the scenic route to work (lol, they're all scenic, but I do have a favorite route during fall).

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fall Colors

This is on the driveway, going toward the house, where the creek comes in on it. This is going toward the house, on the path coming from the garden/deer food plot, looking east.

Some reds are showing on the sourwood. This is facing south, from the garden.

Doesn't seem like much done for the amount of time and effort spent, but here's the roughed in cabinet I've been working on all weekend:

The tall one is the pantry, which will have 2 doors, one 6' long and one above it about 1.5' long. To the right is just a continuation of the sink counter and that's where the coffeepot and can opener will live, with other undecided stuff underneath. Over the short shelf will be a small upper cabinet to hold the microwave on the lowest shelf and an undecided other stuff on a shelf above that to make the top level with the pantry. To the left of the pantry is where the refrigerator normally lives (I have it pulled out to work on the cabinets). I'll try to make another small cabinet to over the fridge to put things I rarely use.
Maybe I didn't get a whole lot done, but I have a much much better idea of what I'm TRYING to do, at least. Since I've not done this sort of thing before, I don't know what sort of materials I'll need until I get doing it. Now I see I'm in need of some 1x3x8 boards to finish the front before putting on a door, and I need some 2x2 for making shelf rails inside. So I won't get it completely done until next weekend. That is irritating! I like to start and finish a project, I hate putting off finishing for a whole week.


Here's Garrison's deer blind that Zack started, and my dad and Garrison built. Zack planted rye grass on the field. In spring, they'll till it in and plant corn and squash and some other garden plants.

This bear enjoys the corn feeder meant for the deer. He is the rotundest, healthiest bear I've seen (only on the game camera, haven't run across him in the woods yet). The pipe (corn feeder) is 6' tall, to give you some perspective on the size of the bear.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Weather and cabinets

The new title picture is the view from the front porch of the old house. Later, when the old house is torn down, it will be the view from the front porch of the new house.

We got a lot of rain overnight Thursday, but not as much as the weather channel predicted. It probably amounted to around 3", but they were calling for a possible 6 to 9 inches, so we lucked out. I was afraid the rain would wash out our driveway, after my dad had put so much work into it, but we got lucky there too and it hardly suffered any erosion at all. Today when I woke up it was 43*, not as chilly as predicted, either. And that was good, too. This is our first winter in the new house. I was worried about how easy it would be to heat, since we don't have central air/heat. I hung thermal curtains in the doorway leading from the living room to the kitchen, and now the kitchen is easy to get warm and it keeps the warmth from spilling over to the living room, which is still under construction. We don't use the living room except as passage to the boy's room and outside, so there's no need to warm it yet.

Plans for today include building another cabinet in the kitchen and finishing the one I started in the utility room. I have one of the old glass windows from the old house that I am planning to use in one of the smaller upper cabinets for the door. Maybe I'll have time to build that one, too. If it works well, and I do a decent job of it, I may use the other windows as doors on the rest of the upper cabinets, too. Since these were once windows, they don't come with knobs, but I'd like to get some of the old multi-facet glass knobs for them. I think that would be pretty and would go nicely with the 'country' theme of the lower cabinets. Wish me luck!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Fall is a good time to reflect and plan. Today I’ve been thinking about my vision of the future and our homestead.

My yard is junky. I am sure I will always have junk; I'm very much a packrat by nature. It’s just that I'd like to get the junk organized. Very little of our homestead is organized yet, but this is how I’d like it to eventually look.

Starting from the gate, there would be a nice welcoming flower/herb garden that I can decorate for the various seasons and holidays (my favorite being fall and Halloween). I'd also like to have a big rock engraved with our farm name, whenever we decide what that will be. There is no shortage of big flat rocks I can use, and I would like to do the engraving myself. With power tools, not by hand. Or maybe with hand tools if it’s not too hard. I’m just not sure what tools that would be. I’ve used dremel on small rocks, so something along those lines, just bigger, I guess.

Second, I’d like the driveway to be a little more tame - not too much, but enough for cars to come through without having to dodge the rose brambles that are reaching out to grab them. A split rail fence would be really nice, but its way down on the list of priorities. Before that would be planting plants and trees that I like to see at the various times of year. A few Echinacea’s that I’d planted a couple years ago actually bloomed this summer and it was a real treat. I want more of that. Redbuds, dogwoods and forsythias are high on the list.

At momma and daddy’s camper, I’d like to put a picket fence around their little yard so the dogs and horses won't harass them while they're trying to sit outside. My horse is almost as bad as a dog for wanting to sit in your lap.

Going on down the driveway some more toward the house (the driveway is almost ½ mile long), I’d like the first thing you notice to be the giant old oak trees in the front. And my quaint little rocked up henhouse. Right now it's not rocked and it’s not quaint, but it will be once I pull the plastic down and put up the rocks, and take down the ragged little fence that I don't use anyway. There will also be the paddock for the horse during winter, and the goats and chickens the rest of the year.

Then I’d like visitors to drive up to the house and notice the beautiful rock steps and landscaping out front. The old house will be gone by then, and when folks come to visit, we'll sit on the front porch and soak in the view. Right now the view only includes the trees, since they're leafed out and blocking the view. But in winter, you can see over to the valley on the other side of the creek. And from the balcony on the loft bedroom, you can see out to a beautiful sunset in the west.
Oh, and I’d like for folks to be able to come visit without needing 4-wheel drive to get to the house. My dad’s been working hard on that one and has it almost taken care of. But I need a sabbatical to take care of the rest the vision, I think. It’s going to come along, but my vision is way ahead of reality ;)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


It's been fantastic all week so far. Mild daytime temps in lower 70's, cool nights around 55 or so. Just cool enough to be chilly in the mornings. The dogs are all frisky in this weather, jumping around excited when someone pets them. Soon we should start seeing color changes in the leaves.

With the heavy rains from last week, the beavers' dams are broken. They haven't started rebuilding them yet. I guess they feel like there's enough water to not need to worry over saving any right now.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Useful tick?

What an oxymoron. But apparently it is true, ticks have been found to be useful for something fairly important. The saliva of the Brazilian tick holds promise to scientists researching cancer. Read more about the discovery here. But don't expect to come away with a newfound love for ticks. What I did come away with, however, is a greater respect for all things large and small, seen and unseen, that exist on this planet. There is surely something that can be exploited for human advancement in every thing. At least that's the impression I was left with after reading another spin on the discovery of this tick spit. The writer was emphasizing how we should work harder to conserve the animals and plants that are going extinct because we never know which ones will be useful. To us. And it seems that is the slant for many conservation efforts. I'm human, and of course I benefit from discoveries just like everyone else. But it's an awful anthropocentric viewpoint. Can't we just save a species because it's the honorable thing to do, when its within our realm of influence to do so?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cabinet is done.

Well, I can't get the picture to move to the bottom. But here's the cabinets as finished as they will get for now. I still need to cut a piece of tile to fit the corner by the stove.
Before: After:

Now I just need to hang the curtains (on the windows and lower half of the cabinets). And I need to figure out how to put a countertop right up to the stove with it in the corner like that. My attempt didn't work too well. But it will suffice for now. In the meantime, I need to cut a tile to fit that corner by the stove on the counter that is there. None of the tiles are cemented down, I just put them up there to see how they'll look and to make a temporary workspace until I can get it done more permanently. Now to see how many pots/pans and canned goods can fit. Onions and potatoes will go in one of the baskets, forks/knives in another, and whatever other things will fit go in the last two. Maybe spice jars, seasonings and such.


Today I am working on a cabinet for the kitchen. I started out real optimistic - bought all the materials, including paint and baskets (in place of drawers) and thought I'd have it all done and polished by last night. Boy, was I overly sure of myself! So it's the second day and I've readjusted my expectations. I figure I can get it finished today, but doubtful that I'll get it painted before the end of the weekend.

I'll post before and after pictures when I'm done. They won't be pretty, but maybe they won't be too awful ugly, either.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Help our school get a makeover!

ABC's Extreme Makeover show is cruising Arkansas to find facilities that could use a makeover. Our school is in real need of some work, and we're hoping to attract their attention to Kingston. You can help - just send an email to and tell them that our school needs a makeover. Be sure to include our zip code (72742), if you send a letter, because there is another 'Kingston' in Arkansas. I've posted the letter I sent below and you can use it for ideas if you want ;)


Dear Morgan Fahey, Casting Supervisor, ABC'S Extreme Makeover:

Please come to Kingston (zip 72742) to see our school and meet our people! Our community fought hard to keep our tiny school (enrollment this year K-12, 253 students) open several years ago when the state wanted to shut it down and force our students to attend a school so far away that bus rides would have been even longer than they are now (some routes are close to 2 hours). We love our school, but it could really really use a facelift and major improvements. Our students outperform many in the nation - we ranked 3rd in the nation for high test scores in our socioeconomic classification. Our girls and boys have been basketball champs at the district, region and state levels. Many of our students go to college for teaching and return to our community to teach at the school where they grew up.

Sometimes, attending school here is not so easy, though. We are very rural so we don't have a large tax base to make needed improvements. We need new wiring throughout. Winters can be quite cold and uncomfortable, and the elementary bathrooms are not heated (or cooled, although its not hot as long during the school year as it is cold) and they have no hot water. The roof leaks in several spots. The cafeteria was designed for an even smaller student population, and the equipment is outdated.

I would love to see the above needs addressed, plus I would really like to see some edible landscaping to go with it, adding shining innovation (not to mention it would be a very 'green' thing to do) to our new curb appeal!!!


Roxann Phillips

contact info for the school: Marsha Shaver, Principal (479)665-2835

Monday, September 07, 2009

Labor Day

We (Mom, Dad, Garrison, and me) labored on Labor Day weekend. Here's pictures of our progress on the porch railings:

The top rails are on the center pieces, but haven't been added to the others yet:

I'll have to put rails on the upper porch, too. We'll assemble those on the porch below and then pull them up to the top with a rope. We still need the siding on the upper levels in front, and some of the east side, too, but we're almost done with everything now.

Chi-chi and Snippy. Both have cockleburs matted into their forelocks, but Snippy's is worst! His is just one big knot. It's almost impossible to get that out of there. When I comb out Chi-chi's he looks like he is sporting an afro, haha.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Rainy Days

It's a rainy morning this morning. We're getting some much needed rain over the last few days. My turnips are happy for it. The ducks are loving it.

Today's project was to hang my curtains in the bathroom, since last night I finished painting it. But this morning I see that the shade of paint from last night is slightly different from the previous paint and now I'll have to either paint the whole thing in this new shade, or buy another can to see if the color matches either of the two shades. Very frustrating! It was a different can that I opened to paint with last night, than the others I bought when I first started painting. I was one can shy of being able to finish the job and had gotten another can of it last week. They're supposed to be able to mix it exactly the same every time with that computer, but apparently it's not perfect.

I don't really feel like going out today, though, so I might move on to a different project instead. Maybe I'll work on my kitchen lower cabinets and see how far I can get with that.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Sick Day

Today all three kids are home with fever and various symptoms. Hope it's not the flu and they just have a bad cold... The tincture I made over summer has elderberries, lemon balm, anise hyssop, prunella, rose hips, and spicebush in it. It is particularly bad-tasting because I used more elderberry than I usually do. So, most of the moaning and groaning that's been going on around here this morning has had more to do with being forced to take nasty medicine than from feeling poor. I suppose I should go take some of my own nasty medicine to hopefully stave off my own episode of this sickness.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Making Progress

This has been a productive weekend. First, Saturday morning I had a well-driller come out and give me an estimate for what it would cost to get some water here. Turns out that he's very confident in a good well at 200' down by the camper. A good pump can get it all the way to the house without going to a holding tank halfway, so that was great news. Also good news is that it will cost around $3000 to do, much less than I was expecting. After Christmas I should be able to do that. With the well, I can get a traditional mortgage, rather than an ARM in-house at the bank in town. That would mean considerably better interest rates. Before I can get that, though, I need homeowner's insurance, and before I can get the insurance, I need the railings on my front porch, some smoke alarms and the back steps with a railing. All within my own capabilities, so those things are now top of the 'to-do list'.

My dad and mom were here today and we got some things packed out of the old house. Dad and Garrison began the work of taking the old house down, plus they broke ground and cut a few trees to get the shed addition started. Right now I'm cooking beef stew, with carrots, potatoes, and squash. Getting ready to finish painting the bathroom. All in all, it has been a great weekend.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Good Quote

Fairytales are not written to tell children that dragons exist. Children
know full well that dragons exist.
Fairytales are written to show children that sometimes dragons can be
defeated. -G. K. Chesterton


I love that quote. Just thought I'd share it with ya'll. Sometimes I feel like I'm fighting a dragon, and its good to know there is hope. I found a lot of cool pictures on the web, but they were all copyright protected, so I didn't grab one to put here on my blog. I'm partial to dragons; in my fairytale, once defeated, a dragon is servant to the conqueror.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Gone Baby, Gone

Earlier this year we had a hen or two setting eggs and they hatched out about a dozen chicks. I left three with the hen and put the rest in a brooder, thinking they'd have a better chance for survival. What a failed experiment! This morning I noticed, all of the ones raised in the brooder are gone, taken by predators, and only one of the three that were with the hen are gone. Her success rate was many times better than my method. The reason the ones I raised are gone is because they had no mentor, no mother to show them the way or politic for them. All chicks come out of the egg already knowing how to scratch and find food, so that's not the issue. But when the flock wouldn't accept them, they to ventured farther away to scratch and peck the ground. Badger guards the chickens of the flock and they seem to understand that they must stay within his range to stay safe. I don't lose chickens to predators when the chickens stay within his range, which is right around the house, but once they venture down the driveway or into the ravine, usually they don't last long. The conclusion to my experiment? Of course, Mother Nature knows best. In my own defense, another reason I only left her three was because she kept jumping back up to the nest to roost at night and the little ones couldn't follow. The two somehow survived being left on the ground alone at night, though, so I'm sure the rest would have been okay with it, too.

A flock of chickens is not chaotic and random, as you might think. There is a certain hierarchy and each chicken knows its ranking in the flock. This is true for all animals which live in flocks or herds.

Friday, August 21, 2009


The weather was exceptional today. I love fall and today we were getting a taste to whet the palette. Garrison had to get his pre-sports physical in Harrison, so I left work at 1 pm, hoping we'd get all the errand-running done and get home before dark. On the way through Alpena, I saw this bench. The man makes these with a chainsaw, if you can believe it. This one is huge and maybe gaudy to some, but I love it. It wouldn't look good on my porch, but it might be nice in a barn or a more rustic log-cabin style house.

We did get in before dark and even had time to get our little garden bed fenced in. It's driving me crazy to not have some sort of garden, so Garrison and I built a rock bed, a small one, but large enough to at least grow some lettuce and green onions. It already feels good and I haven't planted a thing yet.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Vehicle Woes

We seem to be working our way backwards up the alphabet. That's the wrong direction; it's a lot shorter to just aim for 'z'. Last was water woes, now it's vehicle woes. Let's not even ponder what could go wrong next that starts with the letter 'u'.

Anyway, the mechanic just called with an estimate for how much it's going to cost to get my jeep repaired from the deer damage. $2200. What??? That's more than the thing is worth! This really frustrates me because I just sunk a good bit into it just prior to hitting the deer to get it running again after being out of order for more than a year. So I asked Jerry if he'd make up a list for me, of all the parts it needs and put a star by the ones it absolutely has to have to get it running again. I'll see what I can find on freecycle, craigslist, and ebay. He said he wouldn't mind installing whatever parts I can scrounge up this way, and it might bring the cost down to a more affordable number. Otherwise, my old jeep is going to be calling the scrap-yard home.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Flying time

Yesterday I hooked up the trailer to the truck and went to get Gabrielle's bed and mattress. But after getting the mattresses loaded, it was obvious that the bed wouldn't fit. I had also wanted to go to Lowe's to get some lattice and other supplies, but that was out of the question, too. Pretty much spent the whole day going to town and back for the mattress. And I went in to work for a little while, even though I'm scheduled off yesterday and today. Then today I went out again with the truck and trailer to get the bed. Again, it took up too much space for me to get the lattice and boards I wanted to get from Lowe's. But it is the most comfortable and pretty bed I think I've ever slept on. Haha, she has the best bed in the house, so she gets to share it from time to time with mom. This afternoon, Garrison and I built a small garden bed. Tomorrow we'll plant some lettuce, green onions, and turnips.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Nothing much

Just thought I'd post an update on the water. This morning I hiked up the mountain to find the tank is about 5" from overflowing. That's good! Plus, the water is clear, no algae or sludge, or any other floaties that commonly find their way into water tanks. No leaks anywhere. Whew! One huge hurdle overcome in the quest to be self-sufficient out here.

I'm not doing too much today, just piddling around the house. I started working on staining the baseboards for Gabrielle's room. Now that I know we have plenty water, I will wash all of the clothes and mop the floors.

Walking up the mountain to get to the tank is hard. For a long time I couldn't make the whole hike without stopping to breathe and let my thighs quit burning. But since I've been using a ladder to get to my room (versus the stairs that normal people have, lol), I think it's helped me with the hiking stamina, too. I can walk all the way to the tank now without stopping. That's a lot of heart and lung activity and it's surely good for me to continue doing that at least every Saturday. If I could force myself to do it more often, that would be better, but I'm not that much into workouts.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Another one down

Well, I did it again. Monday morning, on my way to work, trying to get there early for a head-start because I had a meeting at 9, I hit a deer. Busted the radiator and one headlight, and killed the deer. A whole herd was passing, and I was stopped. I waited after they passed because I know there's always a straggler. When no stragglers appeared I put on the gas and started heading back down the road. Of course she waited to jump when I'd picked up enough speed to cause too much damage to keep going. Of course, this all took place in an area with no cell phone reception or houses nearby. So off I went, hiking down the road in my meeting clothes that I'd just made all the effort to get out of the house in without the dogs jumping on me to get me dirty. The first house I stopped at had no one awake to answer the door and no dogs to wake them up. On to the next house where some very nice folks getting dressed for work let me use the phone to call momma, who was staying at Anna's house in Kingston. Then the man dropped me back off at my jeep on his way out to work. By this time, my pants legs are grass stained and full of dew and my shirt is sweaty because it was a humid and warm morning, even at 7 a.m. By 10:00, I managed to get to work and had to walk into the meeting underway now for an hour.

That makes three deer and one cow now. I should have met my quota for a lifetime.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Today's picture is compliments of Gab. This one was under the tractor she was standing next to, and kept rattling, but she couldn't figure out what the noise was until it dawned on her that it was a snake - good thing it had its mouth full or by the time she got it figured out, it would have bitten her! She was at her boyfriend's house. When I came home today, I made (well, I didn't tie him up and force him or anything; I just asked in a manner that implied there was no option, lol) Zack bring me down on the 4-wheeler to go get the horses because someone (not me) left the gate open and they went hiking. When we came back in, there was a rattlesnake stretched across the driveway. We killed it in fine Ozark fashion... by stoning it. I don't kill them if they're up on the mountain, but in the field and around the house they get killed. The dogs almost stepped on it and the horses were coming up the driveway behind us. Too risky to leave it alone.

Monday, August 03, 2009

We have Doors!

Whooo-hooo! Tried them all out, too :) It's so nice to take the curtains down from the doorways and have actual doorknobs and actual doors - especially for the bathroom.

Also, I changed the picture on the title of this blog. That's an elderberry in bloom up there now. The lighting was very nice when I took it, and I was so dismayed when I downloaded it and realized the camera was set on a low resolution at the time. So unfortunately, it's only good for a web pic, won't make a magazine or print quality picture.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

I think it's Good Now.

For real. This morning there was around 300 gallons in the tank, with no signs of leaks anywhere. So I am breathing easier, finally, and feel pretty sure this is the end of water woes for at least a little while. We've been able to take showers and wash a couple load of clothes today and not sweat over it too much. Now I'm already thinking of winter preparations. I found the heating cables so I plan to wrap the exposed lines at the house with them soon. The line is exposed all the way down the logging road, though, where the floods earlier and last year washed them out. So they'll freeze anyway if I don't keep a good hard drip going during the cold spells.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Coon in the Henhouse

Badger and Bobbie Sue must have had some excitement last night. While gathering eggs just now, I found a dead coon in the chicken's yard. No sign of chicken struggle, so the dogs must have gotten to him before he tried to get one. We have some awesome guardian dogs, otherwise we would have no chickens because of the coons and predators that love chicken. I'm surprised the critter got so close to begin with, though, because the dogs usually keep the whole area around the house clear of everything but rabbits, which they seem to tolerate until they feel up to a chase.

Learning continues...

Not that I have an aversion to learning things, but learning from my mistakes is getting old. We haven't managed to accumulate any water in the tank, so I knew something was wrong somewhere, but we just couldn't find the 'where'. This morning, I went up to the tank to look around again, and this time, I found it. Water is spilling on the ground as it leaves the tank, just as fast as it goes into the tank. Another spot where I cut it with the blade. I must have been swinging that blade some crazy to have cut it twice without noticing, haha. Take that as a warning - I'm dangerous with the swing blades!

This is the cut, under the blackberry stems.

This is the partial repair. I need another pipe clamp because one of those are broken, and a pair of gloves so I can hold the pipe without it slipping when I try to push it onto the connector.

So, after I've rested, back up the mountain I go. The tank is shut off so at least it can gain some volume in the meantime. I measured the flow. We're getting a little more than one liter per minute, which calculates out to about 12 gallons per hour. Not very much, but it's usually plenty enough when you allow the tank to fill halfway before starting to use it heavily. Halfway is 750 gallons, so we have to use sparingly while it fills.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Spoke too soon.

Well, the tank wasn't full when we got home from work today, it was empty again. But I found what is likely the reason: I had left a faucet running, more than a drip, but not wide open, in the old house. What little had managed to accumulate in the tank was used by Gab when she took a shower when she got in from work today. Arrrrrggggghhhhhh! Bad enough that it is STILL not good, but worse that it was because of my own mistake. I am so tired of learning from my mistakes. Hopefully it will be better in the morning.

All is Good

The water is now back to normal here at the house, even upstairs in the bathroom. Last night we still didn't have enough pressure, but this morning there must finally be enough water in the tank to give us normal pressure at the house.

I'm getting ready to head out to work. The floors are now done in the kitchen, bathroom downstairs and the utility room. The interior doors will be delivered on Friday, and the next thing on the schedule are the doors and walls in the living room. I also still have to paint the bathroom and upstairs. The next item after that is baseboards, and last will be the cabinets. Hard to imagine, but it almost feels like I'm almost finished.

Forgot about the stairs - still need a more efficient way of reaching the upstairs than the ladder I'm currently using!

Monday, July 27, 2009

The problem

Okay, found the source of the problem. The blackberry bushes by the tank and over the line from the spring got so heavy that they snapped it off at the tank. So now I have to go buy the connector that broke, and go back up the mountain with a ditch blade to take care of the bushes. And there's such a layer of silt and algae that I might as well flush the tank while I'm at it too. At least the problem is something I can repair on my own. I was worried it might be more than I could handle. Garrison has been my helper this morning, too.


It's 1:30pm now, and I hopefully have the tank repaired. While cutting the briars away from the line, I inadvertently also cut the line. But I had extra connectors with me, and extra pipe clamps, and soon had that blunder repaired, too. Water was going in when I left, but it's not coming out at the other end yet. The other end is about 200' down the hill at the faucet behind the house. I hope that once enough head pressure builds up, if there's a slug of algae or sediment in the lines, it will blow that out. Not sure I can make another hike up there - that's a hard climb! Water is such a precious resource and living out here where my entire water storage depends on our own ability to conserve, repair, and harvest the water is a good lesson in preparedness. When I bought new fittings for the part that broke, I bought extra connectors, too. If not for that, I would have been in a real bind when I accidentally cut the line I was trying to repair.

It's 2:40pm now and we have water! it's nasty dirty water full of bleach, but at least there is flow. We'll continue to flush this out and soon we'll be back online. I had shut off the valve to the house so that none of this nasty water makes it into those lines. But we had drained the tank last night with showers and washing clothes, so I probably need a new filter inside.

This morning I woke up and turned on the faucet to wash my face. The moment I heard the hiss, I knew there was trouble. No water. It's a long hike up the mountain to the tank, but hopefully, the tank is just empty. And if it's empty, then I have to know whether it all leaked out, or someone left a line open, or if we just used it all. If we used it all, that's easy enough to remedy; we will just begin our later summer water rationing. It takes about 24 hours to fill the tank and from there we will will know to only use what we really need, wash only one or two loads a day, and no tub filling for hot soaks. If it's broken somewhere, well, this will be my first time figuring out how to fix it on my own. I'll let you know how it goes, and I sure wish my horse was ready for riding. If it wouldn't be more trouble to lead him up there than it's worth, I'd tie things onto his saddle, but I'm worried it will be more tiresome to coax him up there than to just hoof it on my own two feet. First I have to figure out what kind of repair items to bring with me.

At least I had a gallon of water so I could make some coffee this morning while thinking about my game plan to fix this issue.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lowe's delivered the stove and refrigerator on Wed. last week. They brought it in a huge delivery truck and I was worried they wouldn't be able to get up to the house in it, but somehow they managed to get in AND out. Getting back out was harder than getting in. It feels so good to have a gas stove again. It was hard to find the one I wanted that fit my budget, though. I wanted gas, because I love cooking on gas ranges - it's easier to adjust the temp to simmer when you want to simmer or sautee without burning your dish. Also, I like to use a lot of cast iron and most of the ranges had small burner grating. But I finally found one that had heavy cast iron grates and the burner in the middle that I wanted for the griddle or oval dutch oven that I have.
The fridge is just a basic white freezer-on-top refrigerator. The 21cf one cost a bit more than the 18cf, but the operating cost per year was significantly less for the larger one, so I went with the larger one. In a few years, the energy savings should pay the difference for the upgrade.
Today's plans include moving Sallie's old glass door cabinet to the porch so I can refinish it. We are also laying the first course of rocks for a retaining wall in front of the house to help with erosion around the porch piers. We also need to move all the stuff from the living room into the kitchen so Eric (our contractor and neighbor) can begin working on the paint in there.
On thing is sure. I will never run out of things to keep me busy, and I should never get bored with life. This place is a lifetime project, and it's a good thing the work is something that makes me feel a sense of accomplisment and satisfaction. Without that, it is punishing to live out here. I guess that is how my husband looked at it and one of the reasons he left; punishing and enslaving. The experience here is quite the opposite for me; rewarding and liberating. Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Okay, I didn't get the pictures taken or posted last night. When I got home from work, the kids informed me that the computer was crashed - again - so I scratched the whole thing. This morning, though, I got a couple pics, and even though the quality is bad (not enough light) you can see the colors on the wall and the floors. The tiles are rough on the edges, so it's not clean lines, but that is the way I wanted them to look. I'm still mopping grout haze from them; hopefully I'll be able to finish that up and get them sealed this weekend. You can also see my messy kitchen workstations, lol. I'm taking the old cabinets from the old house and refinishing them. They're good quality cabinets, just been painted over one too many times, and the hardware is outdated on them... in other words, I think they're ugly. But a little time and attention will fix that. To buy new ones is just too expensive to justify right now. Today, I'll look at some curtains during lunch.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Just updating...

Tonight I will try to get some pictures posted. So, the kitchen floors are finished and they look great. Wednesday my stove and refrigerator should be delivered. I hope the truck can make it all the way up to the house with them - the driveway is in pretty bad shape. The bathroom floors are underway, and the utility room will be next. Then onward to the living room...and it's a big job with lots to be done. After that, I'll be focused on getting the old house torn down.

Last week I had to make a run to West Virginia for work, so I was afraid I wouldn't get home in time this weekend to get much done with the house. But I did get the kitchen moved back into the kitchen. Everything has been in the living room while the floors in the kitchen were getting done, but the refrigerator would not have been able to make it through the maze with it like it was, so my priority was clearing the path.

On my way down the county road as I headed out to W.Va, I spied a Joe-pye weed growing. It's the first one I've seen out here, so that was interesting to see. The entire WV trip was so fast, I didn't get any scenic pictures.

Tonight I'll post a pic of the kitchen.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Riding Comanche

I didn't take pictures again, but this weekend was an exceptionally good one for me. First, I finished painting the kitchen (with some help from a friend). Then I finally found a stove I liked and bought the refrigerator and the stove yesterday; they're scheduled to be delivered next week. To cap off all the good progress of the weekend, I finally 'officially' rode my horse Comanche for the first time. We've sat on him a good bit, and he has taken voluntary steps around with someone on him, but this is the first actual ride and I'm so thrilled to be the one to actually have gotten to do it. Gab rode Snippy and I rode Comanche, with his new bit and bridle. Rode bareback because I don't have a saddle for him, yet, for one, but also because the ride was spontaneous. We were worming, cleaning hooves, and brushing them and then decided to just go for it. We did great, considering that I have never really ridden bareback and considering that he has never really ridden anyone with a goal in mind. I didn't hit the ground, at least - and that's saying a lot! We went past the burn pit, down through the creek, up to the field on the other side. Rode around on that side for a little while and then headed back to the house, me begging the whole time for Gab not to break into a run with Snip because I knew there was no way I could handle anything more than a fast walk with Comanche yet. He goes downhill really really fast, so it was scary, but he stayed upright and I stayed on. He just turned three in May and I was waiting until he plateaued a little on his growth before beginning his (and my) training. It was exhilarating.

Thursday, July 09, 2009


I didn't get around to taking a picture, but for the last few nights the moon has been shining so bright that it was making good moonshadows everywhere. I have a hard time sleeping during full moon to begin with, but with it so bright that it lights up my room it's even harder. But it was beautiful and I got to enjoy sitting on the balcony in the chilly moonlight, listening to whippoorwills and frogs.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Kitchen Floors

Thought I'd post a pic of the new floors going down in the kitchen. I've always wanted terra cotta tiles and can't wait to see how this all turns out. So far it looks really nice. The walls have the first coat of paint but they'll need a second. This weekend it looks like I'll be painting, again. Next week I should be able to get some appliances, so I can cook some real food for a change - can't wait.

Monday, June 29, 2009

I thought you might like to see how Comanche has grown - and Gab and Snip, lol. When Garrison gets back from visiting his dad in Louisiana, I'll post a new one of him, too. The next time Zack fires up the barbeque, I'll get a pic of him. He's a great grill cook; coincidence that his last name is Cook?
The white duck is 'Duckie' and he was very lonely when he was a hatchling. So I went to the feed store to get him a friend, but they would only sell me at least 6 birds. The ducks were expensive, so I only bought a couple of those and a few chicks. He adopted the chick babies like they were his very own kin, even encouraging them to go swimming. Unfortunately, one drowned, but he still has 2 chick babies and 2 duck babies. They all sleep and forage together. The chicks don't know they're chickens, but one of them is beginning to get the inkling that he may belong over in the other crowd. He's started to hang out with them more than his duck family lately. The other one still has no clue.
The black cat is Lynx. He's a very lazy tom cat who never needs to defend himself from other toms because the dogs protect him, too. He's fooled Badger, the great pyr into thinking he's one of his wards. Sometimes he sleeps on top of Badger and massages his head. I guess the old adage 'You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours' holds true even between cats and dogs.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Calling and Random Thoughts

I've been having a lot of random thoughts lately.

Today I've been thinking a lot about our calling. Each of us has a purpose in life, but most people have no clue what theirs might be. It's not something you can learn from a book, and it's not something someone can point out and say 'here, this is your purpose'. No, it's an elusive thing that each individual must learn for themselves. And then there's the tricky thing; no one can tell you if you're right or not when you think you've got it all figured out. God does seem to give us signs, but then those same signs can be interpreted differently by different people, so unless you trust your instinct, it's hard to know if you're right in the interpretation of your sign. If you trusted your instinct to begin with, you wouldn't be asking for signs, though, right?

Some people never hear the calling. They go right through life and never agonize over these issues. Those people probably think the other people, the people dedicated to finding or following their calling are nuts. Or selfish. Or weird. Or a mix of all three.

Some people hear the calling and ignore it, or don't recognize it for what it is. They think somehow they'll find the cure for their nagging unhappiness and dissatisfaction in life. Some people smother the calling with alcohol or drugs, or other forms of addiction.

Some people hear the calling clearly and know that if they do not respond, they will go insane or die.

And now for the really random and cryptic thought I came up with. Anyone who's ever raised a wild animal and then released it will understand. A wildling can never return to captivity once freedom has been tasted.

Which leads to the last thought for the this blog entry, which is derived from the above random thought and combined with the previous thoughts. The calling, once heard, and acknowledged, cannot be denied. I think someone said that before, but I can't find a source for the quote. If you know it, please let me know so I can properly credit the author.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Rain, rain, go away...

It's been raining pretty much since yesterday. Our rain gauge is broken, so I'm not sure how many inches exactly, but it was enough to send the water over the bridge by a foot or more, and enough to move a small boulder into the branch where the county road crosses the creek so that we can't get past, and enough to position a sand bar in the middle of where the branch crosses our driveway so that the car can't get past. Now, if the rain would just stop, Zack could get out there with the tractor and see about moving some of those obstacles, but the water over the bridge is going to be a problem for a couple more days from the look of the forecast. They are predicting still yet a couple more inches through tomorrow.

Yesterday before the rain got good and started, my new neighbor, Carla, came to help me with a little rock project. We stacked rocks in front of the pier on my porch that is washing out. Hopefully, this will catch any silt and small rocks passing it as it washes down toward the creek and build up underneath the pier again. Garrison made some really nice rock steps going up the hill on the other side of the house, but it hasn't stopped raining long enough for me to get out there and take a picture yet since he finished.

The new picture on my title of this blog is a pawpaw flower, with a baby pawpaw in tow. Every year lately, there haven't been much fruit. But this year looks promising, so maybe I can get a few before the coons and possums do.

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