We have this roller skating rink in town that we all think looks a little scary. I mean, it has a giant clown on the outside. Freaky, right? But you all know how we can’t say no to something that is a great deal, so when friends invited us to a “free skate” at this place we couldn’t say no. And, you know what? It’s not so weird inside. If you ignore the giant sized stuffed Raggedy Ann on the giant sized couch. It’s a lot brighter than many rinks I’ve been in. And Jeremie and I and the kids love roller skating. Even Roo does, apparently. What makes this place so fun is that there is an area with scooters, ramps and bikes, if you don’t want to skate. And there is a time when they let you take the bikes onto the rink for a few songs. Here’s Jack, just hanging out, watching the skaters. Sadly, Jeremie and I didn’t get to do a “couples skate” this time.;) But we all had fun nonetheless!
Before we moved to Tennessee we had never participated in 4H. What a resource it has turned out to be in our lives. Our extension agent is beyond busy, but she has exposed us to so much and taught us so much. Stuff we didn’t even know we didn’t know. Twice a month the girls take the horses to an indoor arena for horsemanship. They have improved their riding skills such that they get compliments from other “horse” people. And what a fabulous place to ride. Let me tell you a story about the man who owns this arena. He built it for his daughter, who is a barrel horse racer. Ever since she was younger and in 4H, he has welcomed the current 4Hers to use it whenever. He keeps a stocked fridge and has snacks every time. Once, years ago, all the parents were visiting and watching the kids ride. Mr. M, who owns the arena, noticed that a man was sitting in his car, watching the lessons. Mr. M walks over to find out why this man was being “snobby”, not visiting with the rest of the folks. Well, it turns out that this man was in a wheelchair and couldn’t navigate the rough terrain around the riding area. Mr. M tells him, “come back next time and we’ll have a place where you can come visit with the rest of us.” So he built a covered, enclosed kitchen/room with a smooth concrete floor, so the man could wheel himself inside and watch his child ride. This is the heart of the man that lets us use his arena. And we are so thankful. Mia serves as vice president of this 4H group. Each meeting she shares a Proverb and is responsible for leading the Pledge of Allegiance and the 4H pledge. And Susie is the bulletin board chair. So each month she decorates a bulletin board and displays it at the meetings. She has won a “champion” purple ribbon each month. Katie is the President of the other 4H group that we participate in. She runs the show with an iron fist. Keeping order. Teaching leadership. She’s wonderful for the job. In one 4H group we learn more about animals and agriculture. With the other group we are learning about space, comets, and astronauts. At the end of the year the kids will visit the Challenger Learning Center and perform activites simulating a real NASA mission. We are so thankful to have these 4H leaders in our lives willing to teach us new things. With all the things we are learning with 4H, I feel comfortable counting it as “school credit”!
Every year I have been planting my garlic on October 31. But this year I decided to check the farmer’s almanac to see what it had to say. November 22 was the recommended date for planting garlic. Hmmm…. Dare I wait that long? I think the waning moon, or is it the waxing moon? has something to do with growing larger and healthier root crops. So, chomping at the bit, I waited til the 22nd to plant. I put in 12 rows of 32 cloves. Hoping for a bumper crop. I planted a few different varieties. A strand native to Tennessee that was found growing wild but then cultivated for a few years. Music, always a favorite. Turkish Red. It was a beautiful day. I was actually outside in a tank top planting. There was a gentle rain the next afternoon. I think it was the perfect time for planting.
But then the funniest thing happened. As I was walking out of the garden, my hoe jumped up and attacked me. It cracked me on the head and made me see stars. Fiendish hoe.
We are entering into the 2014 Deer Hunting Season. It started out with mild weather, soon to turn chilly. Tommy has been going out morning and evening. Jeremie, as his schedule allows. Jack, whenever he is allowed. Charlotte went this afternoon. Katie, as well. After sitting out for an hour, Jeremie spotted a buck. The buck soon passed to Katie’s side of the blind. Jeremie heard a “click” of Katie’s safety being released, signaling him that she had, indeed, also spotted the buck. One shot to the flank. As the deer falls, Tommy is heard cheering for his sister’s shot. The wound was so small, Katie thinks perhaps the deer died from a heart attack. But, no. There is a small hole in the flank. Dad guts it. Mom processes it. What a team. We are having guests to dinner tonight. Wonder how they feel about fresh venison?
He came to teach us about his trade, Taxidermy. It was fascinating. I never knew a mounted specimen wasn’t the whole animal. It’s just the skin, wrapped around a form. The kids got to see a wolverine pelt, a skunk pelt, a weasel form, a fish form and so much more. We got to see the glass eyes he glues on his mounts. And the fake blood vessels he puts in the nostrils of his mounts.This is a busy time of year for a taxidermist, with people bringing in big game from all over the nation, but most specifically from out west. So Mr. W really extended himself to give us his time. And I think the kids thought it was pretty neat.
Winter weather welcomes it’s own worries. Frozen water. No grass. Frozen water. Less daylight hours. Frozen water. Snow. Frozen water. Animal shelters. Frozen water. Did I mention it’s a real pain when the hoses freeze and the animal waterers freeze? We welcomed our first Arctic blast this last week, with weather down into the teens. Now this coming week we are enjoying a balmy 60 or so degrees. Only once did my hairdryer get taken outside to defrost the water. These pigs are enjoying the leftovers from our fall decorations. We’ve got some heritage breed Berkshire hogs in with our Guinea Hog boar hoping for a tasty cross-breed. We purchased a Berkshire girl from some friends and we have another Berkshire girl left over from the fair crop. They are the pigs with the pink markings. Berkshires are a much sought after breed because their meet is so tasty and lean. We may call the next generation of crosses Guineashire. What do you think? Clover is looking pregnant and content. She should deliver her first calf in early spring. I couldn’t be more excited. Chickens have still been earning their keep. Not as many eggs as usual, but decent. Jeremie hopes to install a light in their coop to encourage more laying. With the shorter daylight hours and colder weather, the number of eggs we gather diminishes dramatically. Or maybe it’s just that we can’t find them. They like to hide them in the hay that is stacked in the barn. Not much is growing in the garden these days. Some kale that I grow for green smoothies, the chickens and cows. Some cabbage for raw sauerkraut. I have many rows of carrots and beets that just get sweeter with the colder temps. We will be roasting a lot of them for our Thanksgiving feast. And lookie here!!! More wood chips!!! I about died of happiness when the wood chip guy drove into our driveway.I will spread these at my leisure whenever some space opens up in the garden. If they don’t get stolen and spread in the orchard in the meantime! This is the last batch of bunnies we will harvest this winter. We are running them in a tractor through the front pasture. We have about a dozen in there. They are due to expire in the coming week. Their pelts should be beautifully thick for Charlotte and Tommy to tan. While the frozen water is always a chore, it’s nice to be enjoying a slower pace during the winter on the farm. Nothing too pressing needing to be done, except the greenhouse.
Woods. Soldiers. Weapons. The warriors in our family enjoyed having some friends over and engaging in battle throughout the woody glens on our property. We have an arsenal of paintball guns, masks, and co2 tanks. It was a bitterly cold day. They fought a few skirmishes, declared a truce, came in for some hot chicken soup and hot chocolate, and went back out for a few more battles before calling it a day. Engaging the enemy in warfare during daylight hours is only one of the perks of being self-employed. The two families went head-to-head for the last battle. I won’t say who won, but their name starts with an “S”.
We could have literally danced all night! We recently hosted an English Country Dance and what a fun time we had! We went a little more formal than last time and rented a hall and decorated it. Twinkle lights, candles, bunting, burlap, wreaths…it was a rustic elegant affair. It may not have rivaled the dance scenes of Pride and Prejudice but it was special to us, nonetheless. And how much fun to see people come all dressed up in hoops, period costumes, fun dresses and more. We had over 100 attendees and we all had a fantastic time learning new dances and doing old favorites, like the Carolina Promenade, in such a large group. Ruthie especially had a great time dancing all night on her mama’s back! It was so much fun, dancing with all the kids. A welcome alternative to a “teenage dance”. It may be a little more crazy, partying with entire families. A little more chaotic, a little louder. But people have said to me, “Thanks for having this for the whole family. It’s great to all fellowship together.” I couldn’t agree more. The kids have talked of nothing else for the past month and our lives may seem just a bit boring after such an evening of high living and finery!
Yes, again, here we are at the barn in Parsons, Tn, judging livestock. This year the competition was fierce, with over 300 children participating. Katie came in 11th in the individual competition and her team of 4 won 5th place out of over 30 teams. Mia’s team won 4th place and they are going on to compete at the state level in a couple months. The knowledge that these kids have gained participating in this event is priceless. Being able to judge an animal in terms of breeding or marketing/meat will help them to make wise choices when they are building their own homestead, which they all hope to do someday. This world of homesteading, raising animals, farming, growing things was so new and foreign to us a few years ago, and I am so glad that the kids are excited about learning all that they can from the people God has placed in our life that can teach us all manner of things about “country life”.
We all want what we don’t have, am I right? Naturally, since Katie has stick straight hair, she wants curly hair. And how fun is it to sit in a salon all morning smelling those delicious smells??!! So all of us girls tagged along, to watch, to support, to encourage, to sniff while she got a permanent wave. When Katie’s stylist asked if I missed working in a salon, it occurred to me that, yes, I do. I love being in the salon. I love talking to the people. I love doing hair. I love the cash falling out of my back pocket. I love the smell of everything in a salon. But, back to Katie. This is her hair before. And this is her hair during. And this is her hair after. She had hoped it would be a bit more bouncy. And seeing as how she spent a small fortune, I would like her to be 100% happy. So we will talk to the stylist and see what can be done. I think it’s so fun to share girl time with my girls!