Saturday, August 28, 2010

Looking for New Property

Be forewarned: I got carried away with details-it's LONG!

We've been looking at property and coming up with ideas since before we were married. We've had some grand ideas that we could never afford, but the process can be fun. We had a strategy for paying for the more realistic ideas, but Plan A got kiboshed before we could ever put it into play. Plan B was a bit more of a challenge and would take time, but we could build in phases with that plan. Well, the economy nose dived and the source of those funds dried up too. In between those phases, we bought what we thought was the perfect parcel. Two acres of irrigated land for the price that many people were asking for one. The bonus was the other 3 couples making up this investment group were all part of the church we go to, and people we'd actually want to be neighbors with. We managed to get the cash for the buy in and then we really started dreaming/planning! We'd been renting since getting married and were eager to set down roots.

(Would it help to know that we got married in 2006?)

Thru an odd exchange, we ended up with a home to live in while building that had no mortgage. It was supposed to be temporary-like 6 to 8 months. It's now been two and a half years and we aren't any closer to building than when we moved in! There are several reasons why, but I won't go into all of that in this post. Suffice to say that had I known we'd even be here a year I never would have agreed to the set up. It's just not adequate to call a home. I've tried not to complain too much, as it is paid for but I feel like I'm holding back on things until we have a "real" house. Every few months we look at what's available in our area and quickly realize there's nothing wonderful enough about any of the places to make us want to go into debt. However, I'm getting weary of tripping over every day items because there's nowhere to put them. Oh, and the balloon payment on that marvelous piece of property is due November 1st. Nothing like a large sum of money coming due to change one's perspective.

I think I mentioned last week that we even drove to TN last December to see if we'd want to live there, because it seemed like an ideal place for us and prices are like a 10th of what they are here. We've looked at other parts of AZ, but where we are has water. Water means plants and trees. Plants and trees mean food and shade. Food and shade mean happier family. Need I say more? So I tell you all of this because we found a place that is almost perfect, but the parts that aren't are enough to make us really examine our motives and desires and continue to seek God's guidance. That's where you come in. We've made a list of the pros and cons of each place and I'd like to present it for examination. Maybe you will see something we haven't thought of or have some wisdom and insight we don't.

For the record, we make quarterly payments on that piece of land we bought a few years ago. The cost of this place we're looking at would give us a mortgage of roughly $200/month less than what that quarterly payment works out to be-if they accepted our low ball offer. We're also aware that the mortgage would now be on our primary residence rather than a bare piece of land that we could let go of, if needed. So here's the list:

Current Residence Pros:
  1. no mortgage
  2. irrigation
  3. creek
  4. easy drive to town
  5. 1 acre
  6. central heat & AC
  7. wood stove
  8. hen house
  9. fenced garden
 Current Residence Cons:

  1. tight floor plan
  2. no storage
  3. old bath fixtures
  4. highway noise
  5. drafty construction
  6. cracked window seals
  7. can't remodel
  8. can't take more foster kids/no siblings for TJ
  9. can't have guests
  10. no room for crafts
  11. bad flooring
  12. one bathroom
  13. no linen closet
  14. funky thermostat
  15. I could go on, but I don't want to be reminded!

Proposed Residence Pros:

  1. hen house
  2. barn with stalls
  3. hay loft
  4. mechanical room (could be used as milking area)
  5. pond
  6. pasture
  7. fenced
  8. cross fenced
  9. fenced garden
  10. music work shop
  11. root cellar
  12. cheese aging room
  13. evaporative cooling
  14. storage
  15. workshop
  16. wood stove (s)
  17. trampoline enclosure
  18. swing set up
  19. irrigation
  20. 2 acres

Proposed Residence Cons:

  1. mortgage
  2. no AC
  3. small master bedroom-not so bad except it's 1 of only 2 bedrooms-foster care makes this a challenge
  4. tight floor plan-would be a challenge to remodel to our liking
  5. old bath fixtures

 If we simply look at the numbers of pros and cons on each, the decision seems easy, but some of the cons are big at the proposed place. This post is already long, but I'll take a bit more time to say that once TJ's adoption is final, he can't share a room with foster children unless they are the same age group and gender. I think the dividing line for age is 6, so that gives us a year to find a way to have another bedroom for more kids. Once a child is adopted, the rules no longer apply. TJ really wants a brother, and we think it'd be good for him to have one, so that's a big consideration too. Children two and under can share our room, but we're not sure we want any that young. There's a bedroom in the basement, but it can't be used for foster children because there have to be two exits to the outside from any room they sleep in for fire safety. This room has no exits to the outside. The master bedroom being small isn't so much the issue as sharing the upstairs bathroom is. Our thought was to build a master suite on the main level so that both upstairs rooms would be kids rooms. Oh yeah, and when my parents come to visit, they can't go up and down the stairs, so there isn't anywhere for them to stay. Here I go talking myself out of a place that I really want! Well, I really want all the outside amenities and the basement. And the huge workshop for Tony's instrument building-along with another workshop for everything else. Did I mention storage? We'd be able to buy in bulk and save money. And with two acres we'd have enough grazing area for all the animals we have. And that pond-not having to fill buckets for the goats several times a day-how much power does that feature get?? I didn't tell you the barn stalls are configurable-the gates swing either way to make various size stalls. If we had to buy hay-we could buy in bulk and save again!

Now do you see why this is such a hard decision?  Maybe floor plans will help:

If you've read this far, you're a real trooper and I thank you!


Friday, August 27, 2010

Midnight Surprise!

We stayed up a little later last night than we have been, and by the time we went to bed, we were both worn out.  Still, I couldn't fall asleep and stay that way.  After a couple of bouts of waking up, I distinctly heard scratching at the door that leads outside from our room.  The cats (and rabbit) have a pet door to the backyard in the back door, so I couldn't figure out what was making the scratching noise.  Sometimes one of the cats will try to get us to open the bedroom door, but it's accompanied by loud meowing.  This was just scratching.  I finally got up to look (there's a window in the upper half of the door) and couldn't see anything.  Once I turned the light on the scratching wasn't as persistent, but I could still hear it.  I wasn't keen on opening the door without being able to see anything, but I wouldn't be able to sleep not knowing and getting rid of it.

Well-after about 10 seconds of looking around I finally saw it-a SKUNK!  Just to the left of the door hinge eating pecans that are stored there.  All I could see was the white stripe down its back-good thing too!  Had it seen me, I'm certain it would have been startled and done the deed.  I quickly closed the door and decided to turn the fan on to overcome the scratching sounds.  Whew-there's a blessing to be grateful for!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Marriage Project

This book by Kathy Lipp is a great resource for helping any marriage to be a happier one.  Ours has been ruled by chaos lately, so it was quite helpful-and we haven't even done the projects yet!  I requested a copy back in January to review, but never heard anything.  Then a few weeks ago Kathy emailed me to see if I had done a review yet.  Once we got the confusion cleared up she put a copy in the mail.

The premise is like The Husband Project.  There are 21 days of projects to do with your spouse.  The day I read the book I wasn't a very happy wife, and the thought of putting out effort to improve my marriage wasn't very appealing.  But something happened as I read the introductory chapters.  My attitude started changing.  I’m happy to report that with some prayer and the first few chapters of the book my attitude improved. Nothing else was different, just my attitude, and that made plenty of difference in our interaction and improved things without even having read what the projects are, let alone actually do them. Now I’m looking forward to DOING the activities!

I've now read the first weeks' worth of projects and am ready to engage in the full 3 weeks with Tony.  He doesn't know that yet, but the projects are fun and he'll want to do them.  I think we'll go on a date Friday night and talk about it!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Farm Blessings

I didn't take a picture of what we bought at the local farmer's market on Saturday, but since then we've acquired this nice array of homegrown wonders!  We spent more time today looking at property and on the way home passed thru a neighboring small town and remembered their farmer's market is Mondays 3-7.  We almost didn't stop, but I'm glad we did.  We got the 4 varieties of cucumbers, nectarines, grapes, apples (just a couple, we still have gobs from friends) pears and plums on the vine-aren't they pretty?  The tomatoes and onions in the box came from another friend at church, and the eggs are ours-just thought they added to the photo.

I'm trying to remember something I read recently about not refrigerating certain types of produce because it dulls the flavor.  Citrus was on the list and it seems like tomatoes were too, but I can't recall.  Anyone else ever hear that?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Weekly Farm Report

Let's see if I can remember major events for the week as they pertain to the farm...

It might be easiest if I start with today and work back.  We made it to the farmer's market for the first time since July 24th.  I didn't do any bartering, but bought grass fed bratwurst (they are SO good), salad tomatoes, a giant sunflower head for the chickens, some purple beans and carrots and sourdough bread.  I put it all away before I took pictures, so sorry. 

After the market we went to check the critters at the pasture and noticed a yard sale sign.  We followed that and ended up at a friends house!  They want OUR house.  I can't believe anyone would want our house.  The property yes-the house no.  Anyway, they want to downsize so they seriously are interested.  We'll be having dinner next week to talk about possibilities. 

From there we went to look at some property that Tony found while TJ and I were on vacation.  It's for sale by owner, and the owners moved to 57 acres in Arkansas.  The husband comes back once a month to maintain the place-seems like a LOT of driving.  Anyway, we started with the outside and I was getting excited!  There's a pond (used to have bull frogs and turtles in it); a hen house and run; a stable and tack room; lots of mature trees and grass; and a fenced garden area.  It's fenced enough to keep animals on one side and people on the other.  There's a large garage/workshop that would be good for Tony's work, a drive over oil change pit, and a separate workshop from the big one.  Then we went inside.  The outside looked cute-has a nice covered patio and is two stories (TJ wants stairs).  I have to keep in mind that they haven't lived there for a while, but I was disappointed with the house.  The main level has a bathroom, kitchen, living room and office.  None of it very big.  The living room is two stories.  Upstairs is the master bedroom and a kids room, with just one bathroom.  I think there was a linen closet too.  It also has a basement.  I almost got excited again!  Half of the basement would be perfect for aging cheese.  Then the owner pointed out a leak.  Not so good for a basement.  It was more like seepage, but won't seepage become a leak?  There's also a pantry and another bedroom.  No windows in the bedroom though.  Wouldn't work for foster care.  All rooms for kids MUST have two exits to the outside.  They're asking price is a bit high for the area, but it is two acres of irrigated land, away from town and traffic noise, with nearly perfect out buildings and set up for animals and gardening.  Too bad the house falls short.

Wednesday we took Annie and Cream over to the pasture to meet Boots the buck.  Boots got quite excited-hopefully the girls will come into heat and let him have his way with them.  If I haven't posted pictures of him before, here he is.

Having Annie at the pasture means gathering up all the milking supplies and going over there to milk.  Tony built a new stand so that there's one at each place.  By taking Cream away from Peaches, I'm getting more from her.  Not a lot, but more.  I got 11 ounces one day.  She stands still for me though, so that's good!

Tuesday we drove to Payson to meet my parents and celebrate my dad's birthday.  We drove thru a big rainstorm that followed us into town.  We sat on the patio at the restaurant and watched it blow in, then had to go inside just before the meal came because the wind was blowing so hard.  We drove around looking at property there too.  We found a 3.75 acre parcel in a little spot filled with people that garden and/or have critters.  There are some out buildings and incomplete house on the property, but the house has a cracked foundation, so that would just come down or be turned into another out building.  We talked to the neighbors and it sounds like a great place!  Too bad that owner wants too much money too.  It's in a cooler climate, but not so cold that winters would be rough.  I think we're going to take another trip that direction and look at some properties further up on the Mogollon Rim.  I told Tony it would be colder there, but he's OK with that.  Might find a place on one of the creeks there.

We got a good portion of the garden weeded and have some mystery squash plants growing.  We don't remember planting anything there, and there's nothing on my map in that area.  We never watered there, but when we had a few weeks of rain, they popped up!  Tony planted some potatoes from a friend while I was gone.  We pulled a beet, and I made a juice drink with that and 4 carrots and 2 apples.  Not bad!

Oh yeah-Mr Redford got out of the yard.  Tony was putting one of the younger hens in the hen house and couldn't close the gate.  I got there while he was still near the gate but he hopped away.  We were sad, but hopeful that he'd come back on his own.  I'm happy to report that's just what he did.  Now he's learned to hop onto a chair and then over the fence.  I was milking this morning when he came hopping up from who knows where.  At least he knows how to get back-we just worry that a predator would take him.  We moved the chair.  :-)

So I guess our farm report is more of a moving report.  Or would that be property search report?

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Little Things

I doubt anyone reading this can say they enjoy cleaning out the fridge, myself included.  However, since acquiring chickens, it's not a totally dreaded task any more.  They eat just about anything I throw out there, and they come running with such eager anticipation that it's one of those small joys to see.  They run headlong from all across the yard to see what kind of treat I've just tossed.  It's also not so bad to see that something has been in there too long, knowing that the chickens are going to enjoy it so much!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Geranium Essential Oil

Wow-I know we learn something new every day, but this one is big for me!  This is taken from a post at Keeper of the Home:

Last but not least, Geranium is all about balance. Made from the leaves of the plant, the South African native works by stimulating the adrenal cortex which is the hormonal center. Thus, it is widely used in the treatment of both anxious tension and depression as it has the unusual quality of being both a sedative when you need to relax (as in tension) and a stimulant when you need a lift (as in depression). And, what it does for the psychology, it also does for the skin as well – tempering both the oily and dry.
Do you have breast tenderness? Try a compress with geranium essential oil: add a drop or two to some hot water, submerge a hand towel. Wring it out and lay the warm towel over your chest for 10 minutes.
Last but not least, Geranium is all about balance. Made from the leaves of the plant, the South African native works by stimulating the adrenal cortex which is the hormonal center. Thus, it is widely used in the treatment of both anxious tension and depression as it has the unusual quality of being both a sedative when you need to relax (as in tension) and a stimulant when you need a lift (as in depression). And, what it does for the psychology, it also does for the skin as well – tempering both the oily and dry.

Do you have breast tenderness? Try a compress with geranium essential oil: add a drop or two to some hot water, submerge a hand towel. Wring it out and lay the warm towel over your chest for 10 minutes.

I'm tempted to run out and buy some right now!  I need stress relief and balance!  I think I'll take a nap first though...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I'm Back!

Maybe.  Well, OK, I am back from vacation, but I don't feel like I'm back in the groove.  Did I ever have a groove?  My goal while gone was to create one, but that didn't happen.  We plan to start our homeschool year on September 7th and I want to have some good routines in place and have an obtainable rhythm figured out by then.  I see so many things I want to do. 

A member at GNOWFGLINS posted a question about making sourdough english muffins and her pictures were enough to make me want to do that tomorrow morning!  I'm reading Health Bread in Five Minutes a Day right now and like the theory.  I barely started reading it though, so not ready to try it out.

We want to get a second round of seeds into the ground this week too, and take two of the goats to the pasture where our buck is so they can be bred.

There are some "back to school" sales and events coming up too.  I'm really looking forward to this Scholastic Book Fair Warehouse SaleBarnes and Noble also have some educator activities and kid stuff.

Now that I'm back, I can't wait to catch up on all the blogs I missed!  I glanced thru the list once when I managed to get online and I've been missing some fabulous posts.  Blogland, here I come!

Sunday, August 8, 2010


I know I rely heavily on my computer and access to the internet for many things, but it's really highlighted when that access is cut off.  I've been away from home since evening time on July 30th.  We left our home to go spend the night at my parents house so we'd be closer to the airport for our Saturday morning departure, plus mom was going with TJ and I.  We got to Idaho mid day and left Sunday for a 4 night camping trip up in the mountains.  Didn't even have cell phone service there!  I thought once we got back to the Boise area I'd be able to spend some time at the local library or McDonald's to use their wi-fi while TJ played.  Friday morning we headed out, ordered food that I didn't really want, TJ started playing, just to find out that their wi fi had issues.  I could connect to any of the 3 networks available, but none of them allowed me to actually use the internet.  Big let down!  So I found a coffee shop and sat in the car (to me, coffee smells like skunk spray, so I wasn't about to sit inside) to upload 2 posts I had written the night before.

My aunt has internet access for her computer, I just can't connect it to mine, and there are things I can't do w/o my laptop, or just simply prefer to do with my own computer, so I've been able to check email, but not really read all the newsletters I get, or connect to my dashboard here, or other forums, because I don't want to take up that much time when we should be visiting.  This morning my mom and I decided to go looking for a place where I could do some of the things I was hoping to do while gone-namely planning.  So I've been sitting on the patio of a coffee house for over an hour and the only real planning I've done is to decide which children's books are going to be the weekly focus for the first 4 weeks of homeschool.  I logged in to my library's web site (something I couldn't do easily on someone else's computer) and placed holds on the books we don't already own, and on accompanying items like books on tape and video.  Since my mom is with me, and she's already drank a cup of espresso and had biscotti and read the local paper, I guess it's time to go.  She's getting bored.  My aunt kept TJ with her, so at least he's not here slowing down progress.

A good portion of the planning I want to do can be done without internet access, but it's so nice to have it just in case!  I could sit here all day (well, not really cuz there's not an outlet and the battery won't last that long) and plan, read blogs, reply to email, watch video's from online classes, and call it a great day!  Maybe when I get home Tony will give me that gift before we get back into the rhythm of life at home.  My goal while gone was to have assessed what's working and what isn't in order to create better harmony at home for all 3 of us.  Maybe I can still do it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Down Time

I hope to spend some time over the next few days praying and coming up with a schedule that allows for housework, exercise, animal care, home schooling and fun time. This might help me have relaxing time on a daily basis and get closer to good health. I’d like to be able to implement it shortly after returning home, with schooling starting the day after Labor Day.

While out camping, my aunt brought paints and wood crafts for all of the little kids to paint. TJ hasn’t been interested in that kind of thing in the past so I was curious to see his response. He chose to paint a door hanger in the shape of an elephant and actually did a pretty good job. Then he wanted to paint a bird house and covered it quite well too. Then some of the older kids started looking for rocks to paint and he found one that looked like an alligator and painted it green, and gramma put wiggly eyes on it. On the last day he found a stick that he called a “soldier gun” so that got painted brown and green in an attempt at camo design. Now I’m glad that we bought him a couple of simple wood models to paint and a set of paints at the back to school sales. Hopefully I can continue his interest in crafts after we get home.

My down time will hopefully consist of some blocks of internet time (if you’re reading this, I at least got a few minutes of internet time-I’m writing at another aunt’s house, but she only has dial up and I don’t think my laptop even has a dial up modem); some time wandering at the farmers market Saturday; and some planning time. I think I operate better when I can take periodic breaks to assess the current system and make necessary changes. Right now I think a lot of changes need to be made, and being away from the normal daily routine should help highlight those things.

I miss my CafĂ©Mom friends and blog land. If I get at least one block of internet time I’ll be able to do a little catching up. I’m thinking I can take TJ to a McDonald’s that has a play place and internet access and both of us will get to do one of our favorite things!

Real Food vs Vacation With Extended Family

Our real food journey began over a year ago as I investigated the cause of my adrenal fatigue. We started with chickens for fresh eggs, added goats for raw milk and started eliminating processed foods. I can’t say that we’ve “arrived” but after a few days of camping with extended family I can say that we’ve ventured far off the beaten path of convenience and food-like stuff. Actually, it was noticeable as soon as we boarded the airplane to fly to Boise. I’d already decided that since we’d be on vacation and I was basically just along for the ride (not involved in the planning and not wanting to be difficult) I’d graciously eat whatever was offered and lovingly prepared.

Less than 24 hours after leaving home we’d broken just about every food rule we’d been following. Including:

High fructose corn syrup*hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils*cottonseed oil*pasteurized milk*artificial colors*processed eggs*white bread*extruded grains*microwave*chemical laden produce

I’ve consumed popular sodas, spreadable margarine, white bread, miracle whip, potato chips, red vines, white bread, fruity flake cereal, Crisco, way too much candy, and probably things I’ve already forgotten! We used paper plates, paper napkins, paper towels, plastic cups, plastic utensils, individual plastic water bottles, and soda cans. I haven’t had any probiotic foods or drinks, coconut oil, fish oil, whole wheat bread, fresh eggs or raw dairy. We won’t be home until the 11th, so it’ll be a few more days before I get any of that at home. I might be able to get some of those things before then, but what I’ve realized is that my journey hasn’t reached the point of being able to travel and keep eating real food. My tinnitus seems a little worse and therefore the accompanying headache is too. I feel fat, out of shape and fatigued. We were camping and I couldn’t really relax. Not sure why-just sitting around not doing anything, so I should have been relaxed.

This blog is part of Fight Back Fridays at The Food Renegade.