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Pests

My parents came to visit a couple of weeks ago, and my dad pointed out a big hornets’ nest on the northeast corner of our house.  He said he’d leave it alone until the weather got colder and the hornets were not as active.

Earlier this week, when my father-in-law saw it, he had different advice.  “That’s a job for the professionals,” he said.

We remembered that a guy had come by the house several weeks back, saying he was in pest control, and offering his services three times a year in return for the hay on our front two acres.  I didn’t think much of it, because I’ve never used pest control services before and didn’t intend to.  But after pondering that big hornets’ nest, we reconsidered.

SONY DSCOkay, make that a huge hornets’ nest.  (You know it’s huge when the pest control expert sees it and says, “Holy cow!”)

This was not the only reason we thought maybe we’d call him, though.  Monday night, we got a big downpour of rain, and that rain flushed out a ground nest of yellow jackets right by our back door (the door we use for entering and exiting).  We thought maybe we’d just take care of that ourselves, and then Stephan had an interesting experience, and I wish I could show you the video he put on Facebook.  Basically, some underground animal (a mole, perhaps) dug around near the yellow jackets’ nest.  This, of course agitated the little stingers.  About ten minutes later, the mole must have really gotten close and the yellow jackets were swarming and buzzing like crazy.  Stephan could see the ground moving and mounding up, and the yellow jackets were exceedingly angry.  Later, the ground had stopped moving and Stephan speculated that the bees stung the mole to death. 

Yikes.

Life in the country!

Anyway, the pest control guy is here now, and I saw him spraying the hornets’ nest with something.  I suspect he has taken care of the yellow jackets, too.  And my hope is that all we have to give him is our next cutting of hay.  (I love the barter system.)

Life on the Farm

July sunriseI guess technically, it’s not a farm yet.  We have no garden, and our only livestock is our rabbits.  (We may have chickens by spring.  We are at odds concerning goats.  One of us wants them.  One of us decidedly does not.  The one who does not is planning to keep it a secret from the other that there is a raffle for a goat at Rural King right now.  Who ever heard of a raffle for a goat, anyway?  That is totally something that would happen only at Rural King.)  Still, there’s a lot of work to do, and we’ve been pretty darn busy.  And now that school is back in session, it’s hard for me to get much done.  Even so, there is much happening, so I’ll tell you about it.

SONY DSCThe first thing you should know is that this little kitty thinks she needs a huge dog bed to nap in.  The dogs sniff her, give her a puzzled look, and then go lie on the bare floor somewhere.

Gryffon, Gracie, and Nova get along famously, by the way.  They play together all the time.  The dogs lick her until she is almost dripping; she meows at them, but doesn’t seem to mind it.  Other times, she jumps at them, attacking their legs, and then she runs away.  Sometimes this results in a cat and dog chase all through the house.  Once in a while, Gracie and Nova actually share the dog bed and almost cuddle together… except that Nova has most of the bed and Gracie is half on, half off the comfy spot. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, the rabbits now live in a colony instead of in separate cages.

SONY DSCHere’s one angle.  You can see three of the four does.  There is a nest box because we’re hoping one of them is pregnant, but she doesn’t seem to be pulling fur or anything, so I’m doubtful.  There is also a five-gallon bucket just in case one rabbit wants a cozy space.  (I’ve never seen any rabbit use it.)

SONY DSCIn this photo, you can see the poultry feeder that we use to feed the does.  You can see the fourth doe, as well as the cage we keep the buck in.  I wish the buck didn’t have to be in a cage, but if we left him with the does, they might fight with him.  And if they didn’t, we’d probably end up with a lot more baby bunnies than we wanted.  So far, this new method seems to be going okay.  The rabbits are inside our small barn.  The colony’s boundaries are made up of hardware cloth and scrap lumber on two sides, and the walls of the barn on the other two sides.  There is a concrete floor covered in long grass clippings from our yard.  (My amazing husband made the enclosure entirely with supplies we already had.  We spent no money on it at all!)  We keep the rabbits watered with water bottles attached to the hardware cloth, but also a one-gallon poultry waterer.

In July, Stephan and a friend put a new roof on the pole barn, in preparation for it becoming the new place of business.  Here you can see the old and new roof, plus a pretty sweet view of the front two acres of our place.

barn roof

Weekdays are now filled with school for me, but Saturdays are becoming busy with work on the property.  Today I did two loads of laundry (and hung them on the clothesline), cleaned the bathroom (I cleaned the rest of the house last night — in one easy evening after school!  That’s one great thing about a small house!), did some shopping (trips to Rural King are becoming a part of life), mowed the grass, worked on some Christmas gifts (made with things found right here on our property, but about which I cannot tell you because it is only August and the presents are still a secret), and made a very farm-like dinner of smoked pork chops, German potato salad, sauteed squash & onions, and bruschetta.  It was a feast, and we needed it because we worked hard today and we were hungry!

The Husband spent today at the old house removing peeling paint and touching up.  He came home and rescued me after I got the mower stuck in a ditch.  Later in the evening, he got the mower stuck in a different ditch.

This is a huge mower, by the way.  It doesn’t get stuck easily, but when it does, it’s very difficult to get out.

Here’s a photo of me in July, with The Beast.

mowingStill, despite our misadventures of getting it stuck, I’m thankful for it.  It was out of commission for about a week (it was leaking hydraulic fluid and would run but would not move forward) so our grass was getting really long.  At least it’s working again.  I mean, working except for being stuck in a ditch.

Country life.  I’m enjoying it.

Letting Go

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SONY DSCThis is a bag full of baby stuff. Crib sheets and blankets, a crib mattress pad, a changing pad.

In our old house, in the basement that I am cleaning out little by little, there is a crib frame.

Today, it is all going away. I’m letting go of it. Saying goodbye.

We had use for these things once, back when we had foster children. I had hopes of using it again someday, back when we were looking into various types of adoption. But now I realize that none of this stuff is doing anyone any good sitting in storage. Least of all me.

My niece is due to have her first child in about a month. She has a crib, but my sister-in-law will be taking care of the baby while the little one’s parents are at work or school, so she’ll need a place for baby to nap.

Why should I keep things Just In Case, when I know that I have little chance of using them? Especially when someone I love would benefit from having them?

I thought I would feel more when I made this decision. A clean break, a sense of closure, or a sadness. I don’t, though. It is instead a vaguely empty feeling. Not empty as in lacking something I want, but empty as in devoid of emotion. I feel next to nothing.

Today, I will load up my car with the crib frame, the sheets and blankets, two toy boxes, and a baby gate. I will drop it off at my relatives’ homes and I will wave goodbye as I drive away from the last of the physical evidence of our attempted journey to parenthood.

I will return to my home, my husband and my animals.

And when baby arrives, we will love her and rock her and put her down to sleep in bedding meant for someone else.

But she will smile sweetly, and the origin of her crib will be irrelevant.

We’re not dead yet.

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We are surviving country life.

The dogs get to run around, the cat is enjoying her new home, and the rabbits, who now live in a colony instead of separate cages (more on that in a later post, I hope), seem more active.  The washer and dryer, moved into the house last Monday by the hubs and a young friend of ours, finally got hooked up yesterday (leaky connections followed by husband’s trip out of town for work delayed the process) and I’ve spend the last two days doing loads and loads of laundry.  The plumbing, which now works, provides us with water for washing, but not for drinking.  My father-in-law wisely recommended we have it tested prior to drinking it. 

The result was everyone’s favorite vomit-inducing bacteria: e coli. 

So now we need to treat the well… only first we have to find the well.  There was a diagram in the bathroom, but there is nothing that sticks up out of the ground or anything so it’s not obvious.

There is still much to do at the other house — moving some items out, doing minor repairs, and cleaning.  My mother-in-law came Saturday and helped me clean the upstairs.  We have a date for next Saturday to work on the basement.  (Bleh.  I have always hated that basement.  I am hopeful that with her company and thoroughness will make it a less painful task.)

We spoke to a Realtor at our church this morning.  We hope to have him over to look at the place in the next week or so.  Once we have the stuff moved out and the house cleaned, we will put it on the market.

Meanwhile, school begins in two weeks so my mind is thinking less of the moving process and more about teaching and planning and organizing my classroom.  I was stressing out last week about everything that needs to be done, and I felt like God was telling me, “You don’t have to do it all yourself.”  And I don’t really know what that means, but I’m trying to trust that it is true and that I need not worry.

Update on Craziness

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SONY DSCI get to see these horses each day.  Lucky Ivan, Mr. Ed, and always a third one (sometimes it’s Always Wearable, and sometimes it’s G.D. Whattaguy.)  Sometimes they run through their pasture.  Sometimes, when I walk out to get the mail, they follow me, hoping for nose rubs and carrots.  (I give them the nose rubs.)

SONY DSCThis little thing is a new addition to our family.  Her name is Nova.  Our niece had found the kitten and wanted to find it a good home instead of taking it to the pound.  I figured, what’s a farm without a cat?  So I picked her up.  She and the dogs are a little uncertain of each other, but they are learning to get along.

Life in general feels insane.  We’ve been living at Dove’s Crossing for almost a week now, but one or both of us has been back at our other house every day.  There is still a little furniture to move, and a lot of cleaning to do.  We also need to paint inside in order to get it ready for sale.  And clean out the basement, which I am really not looking forward to.

Stuff at the new house is everywhere.  I made a supreme effort to clean up the kitchen the other day so that there is one room that isn’t chaotic.  That made me feel better.  I’m hoping to get art on the walls this weekend.  And I’m trying to plug away on the rest of the house a little at a time.

Last night I dreamed that I was out somewhere and had to kayak to get back home.  The river rose really quickly, and the kayak became hard to control.  Then I hit some rapids, and feared I would capsize.  I began to yell, “Help!  Help!”  Thankfully, someone rescued me.  I woke up and immediately knew that this is how I feel right now.  I am out of control and fear I may drown.  There is too much.  Organizing the new house, cleaning and painting the old house, and preparing for school which starts again in less than a month.  Deep breaths are needed.

Right now, it is all too much.

It Has a Name

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Ever since I read Anne of Green Gables, I’ve wanted to name my home. Nothing ever really stuck for the place where we live now. But now that we own two properties (hopefully for a limited time only), it has become awkward to say “the other house” or “the old house” and “the new place.” Our new property has been named:

Doves’ Crossing

I got the idea from a book I was reading, and I thought it fit.  The dove signifies peace, and we want our home to be a place of peace.  We also want to continue our tradition of hospitality, and this place is a great piece of property on which to do that.  So the word “crossing” represents the intersection of many people.

I look forward to having lots of people over and watching them swim, shoot hoops, play volleyball or horseshoes, hike in the woods, and play soccer and Frisbee in all the open areas.  We had family and close friends over last night, and I enjoyed seeing just a small portion of that (there was basketball and Frisbee and some hiking… and Stephan slid into the pool as he was adjusting the pump he was using to get out all the brackish rainwater — praise God he was not electrocuted by the plug that slid in with him!  I’m also thankful I didn’t know about the danger of that plug until after it was already disconnected).  It was so much fun seeing people enjoy our property, even though we can’t live in the house and we had to shoo the little ones away from the pool (we should have that fence finished this week, though!)  I hope our property will be a place where our friends can interact with others and experience peace as well.

Fruit of the Land

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Today I went out to the new place. I moved a few things over (a small desk, a plant, and some bird feeders and bird food), plus I started removing the decking around the pool. Besides being completely overgrown with six-foot-tall thistles, the decking itself is in poor shape. While pool decking isn’t really high on the priority list, we need to work on things right now that don’t require much money. I don’t get paid in the summer, and we used a good deal of our savings on the down payment — not what Dave Ramsey would have us do, but it seemed to be what God would have us do, and God trumps Dave Ramsey. Anyway, I found myself in need of a bathroom, but since we haven’t figured out the water situation there yet, there is no working plumbing. So, off to the woods I went.

As I returned, I noticed some nice ripe black raspberries on some of the bushes my father-in-law had pointed out to me when he mowed for us the other day. I thought I’d pick a few. Soon, my hands were full, so I went to the house to get a plastic bag to put them in, and returned to picking. While I worked, I noticed some huge wild strawberries. Wild strawberries have almost no flavor, but they were so pretty I couldn’t resist picking a few.

I’m excited that I can already get my very own berries from our land. It isn’t a lot, but I hope the bushes will produce more and more as the years pass. And within a year or two, I hope to plant some strawberries that actually taste good. I foresee pies! And jam! And tarts! Yum!

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