Monday, February 28, 2011

Underground Living?

In contemplating the solar storms and political unrest that could easily lead to nuclear war, it has occurred to me that it might be a good idea to check out your local caverns.
My understanding is that we need to be 3 miles underground for the worst of the predicted solar flares. I am unsure how far down we would need to go to avoid radiation sickness from a bomb.
My only working knowledge of caves/ caverns are the 2 small caverns in Put-in-Bay, OH. That simply wasn't enough knowledge, so I was really excited to do an overnight trip with Cub Scouts in Blue Springs Caverns in Indiana!
Now Blue Springs is not 3 miles underground, but it gave Matt and I the chance to experience sleeping in a cavern. It was so cool and absolutely terrifying at the same time. Just the knowledge that huge chunks of rock had broken off and fallen to create the flat ceilings gave me cause to stop and think about when the next would fall.
If you have not visited your local caverns, do try to soon. It's a great family adventure and a way to measure how prepared you really are.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wind Farm

This is a wind farm in Indiana.
It was really cool to see it up close, although the turbines looked a bit like rows of aliens!
I wish Joliet had a wind farm.
Regardless of what the studies say, there is enough wind to power our city.
I wonder what it would take to get at least one turbine put up in each neighborhood/ subdivision?
Put multiple turbines in windier locations.
Provide free electric to each home owner hosting a turbine on their lot.
Anyone want to help with this?!?!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Refocusing

Well, Good Morning to all! Glad to see you! Grab an iced tea, pull up a chair and let's chat a spell.
I've overextended myself again! Not sure why I keep doing this other than to keep from noticing the overwhelming loneliness that comes from being 47-years-old and single. And, to be honest, with no one I can say is such a close friend that I could call them at 4:00am. But, enough of the pity-party! I am trying to refocus.
Last night was a typical evening for me. Changed into farm clothes and gave the chickens a huge platter of leftovers. They had half a Reuben sandwich, fries, pretzels, mashed potatoes, spaghetti, mastaccioli.. 
Then I was on to my normal 3-5 loads of laundry, wash some dishes, keep the fire going in the wood stove (furnace does not kick on and suck my money up!), get Matt to thoroughly bathe (boys!) and sweep my floors (mess caused by the firewood).
Seriously, this is enough on my plate right now! 



From Where I Sit...

From where I sit I wonder if you realize I am here?
From where I sit I am not fat, just overly fluffy.
From where I sit I can hear you chatting happily and wonder if you know I realize you don't include me~ ever?
From where I sit my son is awesome despite all his flaws.
From where I sit coffee tastes better with a friend.
From where I sit happiness is hanging out at home with my son.
From where I sit I wonder why you think your college degree makes you better than me?
From where I sit my child has to come before my job and I wonder why yours doesn't?
From where I sit what's inside you is all that matters.
From where I sit I can see you are really scared and wish I knew what to say.
From where I sit... ... ...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Coffee= life

I have a trick I use, but it is for old fashioned coffee makers. I have a large cannister that stores my coffees once opened. In it I mix one container of my current flavor of choice with whatever was on sale and whatever was given to me by those who've temporarily given up coffee due to a lapse of sanity. :)
I shake the container every time I add another pack of fresh coffee. 
It is so good~ like the expensive coffees at the coffee shops.
Total Coffee Yum!!! 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Feast fit for my Children!

Look at my girls munching!
Some friends gave me their old produce to supplement the cracked corn and layer crumbles.
The girls went nuts!
I can say that they were much more polite with the produce than they were with the ham.
At least they willingly shared this snack with Farmer Fred.
AND, he didn't look scared to get between them and the food!!!
Matt and I set up this salad bar Friday night.
Saturday morning we drove to Blue Springs Caverns for a Cub Scout overnight adventure.
When we came home Sunday afternoon, there were 10 fresh eggs waiting!
I think the salad bar was appreciated.
What do you think?!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Doing for Others

Sometimes life is just about helping others.
It's about remembering another's needs before our own.
About feeding your friend first even though there may not be enough for you to eat also.
Or...
Making a hiking stick for your den mate even though you may not have as much time to spend on yours.
If we take care of others...
If we do for them as though we were doing for Jesus...
The world will become a much better place.

Peacefully Hanging Laundry in the Dark

As I stood out back peacefully hanging sheets on the clothesline and listening to the washing machine discharge water into my grey garden pond, I realized how truly lucky and blessed I am. 
My house is a small fixer-upper and I barely make bills, but I have an incredible peace of mind when I'm on my homestead. 
Just to know the chickens are all comfy in their coop, Matt is cozy in his bed, the fire is roaring and that the laundry water is watering our fruit trees is awesome. 
We are by no means self-sustaining at this point, but we are well on our way and, as long as we keep up the momentum and positive attitude, we will accomplish everything we need to!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Yogurt to Dehydrate

Hello!
Recently I was blessed with an abundance of yogurt so I decided to make yummy yogurt chips in my Excalibur dehydrator.
Yogurt chips are a delicious addition to our snack box in the Jeep.

'Polite Society' and Shunning

I never thought I would be sharing something like this in 2011. I am very saddened to say that adults today are very cliquish. I really thought this would end with high school, after all we're grown-ups now. Right? 
Well, maybe some of us are. 
Many still exclude others from activities. Exclude members of their club/ group. 
I do wonder if, in some instances, it is because times are changing so drastically and you just don't know who you can trust. I can see how a person might not want to let others into their personal world until their character and intentions are known. 
But, within group activities I am stymied at this sort of behavior. 
Welcome to 2011?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Foraging

Good morning! Here I sit looking at an old list of things to get done... ever notice how those lists, once lost, are so quickly forgotten? 
Well, this list included the task to continue learning the art of foraging. 
You may ask, "Why would you want to forage?"
Let me tell you... 
We, as a family, love to go hiking. 
We have our own unique hiking style. We look at maps and compare that with what we've seen when driving. When an area just doesn't seem to make sense, we hike it! 
Hence, our family hikes are off-trail explorations of any and everything. 
While hiking a few years ago I noticed there are a lot of berries out there. Then the Pilcher Park Nature Center put out its annual recipes for garlic mustard as well as a complete pictorial to help identify and pull this edible invasive 'weed'. 
I bought a wild edible book at Barnes and Noble to keep in the Jeep. Now when we are out hiking we can learn to identify edible plants. 
There is nothing to compare to the look on your child's face the first time they eat cattail seed pods cooked like corn on the cob! 
And gathering acorns to shell, dry and grind for fresh organic flour has its own reward that you can not understand until you begin to forage. 
There is also the knowledge that your family has an even more well-rounded education because you hike and learn together. 
To me foraging is great exercise that extends your education leading to a super healthy diet. 
What more could you ask for from a hike?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

My New Feed Scoop

Good evening all! Isn't the weather beautiful?
What do you think of my new feed scoop? It was on sale at Farm and Fleet in Aurora and I couldn't resist! At $2.50, it was a small price to pay for happiness. It sure makes me smile every time I refill feed!!!
What small measures have you taken to make your daily chores more enjoyable?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Where was I Going Again?

Isn't it truly amazing how off track a person can get in the course of just living their life? 
I recently noticed how far from my goal I was. What the heck happened? How could I have allowed myself to let this happen? 
My original intent for my homestead was to be self-sufficient~ as in not require my paycheck to live. I wanted my homestead to pay it's own bills. I wanted it to cover all basic necessities based on my personal criteria. 
Although I've gotten a lot done in improvements toward my goal, I can safely say that I am still way off the mark. The chickens are in and a huge blessing every day. Yes, even during the Snowpocalypse! They are not, however, making me any profit. 
Last year I allowed personal circumstances to prevent me from fully planting and harvesting my garden. What little planting did get done was soon overtaken by weeds and weeding just didn't get done often enough. With the weeds overtaking the garden, harvest time was a disaster. I had very little to dehydrate.
This year I did no canning from my garden for the 3rd year in a row. I did make a few jars of jam from our own fruit. The last one is open in the fridge. 
This was not my plan. Not my plan to look into the pantry and contemplate eating beans every day WTSHTF. Not my plan to not be self-sufficient by now. 
I am re-assessing my game plan and mode of operation. I am formulating a plan to get my humble little homestead back on track. By December I intend to be at the point where my job is not a necessity. Not that I intend to quit! On the contrary~ I just want showing up to work to be because I enjoy being here. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Special Project

Hey! Nice of you to stop by. Come on in and sit down. Take your boots off and put your feet by the fire! I'll pour us some coffee while you warm your toes a bit.
I know the weather doesn't seem conducive to it, but I am planning to put a garden in at MorningStar Mission in the spring. 
Yes, this is a tall order. It is what God is requiring of me at this point in my walk. I went in and got permission last year, then felt overwhelmed and backed out. I am embarrassed to say it, but I wimped out! In order to do this, I must be willing to teach an hour long class on gardening, composting, rearing chickens, etc each week. I was at a loss. 
This year I am following God's will for my life more closely. More obedience and less rebellion. His way is always the best. 
Think of the possibilities! Teaching those who have less than I how to put in a garden and raise their own food. Giving them that sense of independence. But, more importantly, sharing food, Christian music, fun, fellowship and learning! Isn't this the basis of what we are supposed to be doing every day? 
I have mentioned the project to a friend at church and she loved the idea. She heads the outreach and wants to talk more about it. She even knows others who may want to help! 
Maybe we could get some local Boy Scouts to come help too? And don't forget Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts!
We are going to have so much fun! 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Preparedness vs Snowpocalypse 2011

Well, Dear Friends, Snowpocalypse 2011 seems to be over...
or is it? 
The weather will tell us over time!
How did your family fare during the storm? 
Did you have enough firewood and groceries stocked up? 
What did you learn from the experience?
As for my household? 
Well, we were okay.
That is definitely Not a reassuring statement! 
Here we sat with no firewood on hand. 
Well, there is wood out back, but I can't find the little chisel I used to split wood last winter.
Huge logs and no splitter is the same as no firewood on hand! 
Just plain dumb and unprepared.
Plain and simple.
Yes, the furnace still works. 
It rumbles incessantly putting out some heat. 
But...
I was not prepared.
No excuse in the world will keep us warm.
What would we have done if the gas or electric had gone out?!
We would have been beyond cold. 
And so, come summer Matt and I will be stocking up on firewood.
This will be a major priority. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Scout Sunday?

Good afternoon all! 
I'm glad to see you today. 
Happy Scout Sunday to you!!!
How was your church service this morning? 
Yes, I'm sincerely hoping you attended your worship service this morning. 
Matt and I attended service at a local Baptist church. 
I was amazed the Matt was the only boy there in full class A uniform.
He was the only boy I saw in uniform at all. 
How sad that was.
How sad that there was no mention of scouting during service.
I would not want scouting to be more important than worshiping our Lord, but I would like to see scouting encouraged more in churches. 
So, as we drove home, Matt and I chatted about the similarities between the contents of his Bible, his Sunday school Bible study book and his Webelos scout book. 
The 12 points of the Boy Scout Law are:
Trustworthy
Loyal
Helpful
Friendly
Courteous
Kind
Obedient
Cheerful
Thrifty
Brave
Clean
Reverent
Maybe I'm a bit confused, but aren't these things we are teaching and encouraging in church?
How wonderful it would be if all the boys could have the scouting opportunity! 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Death by Snow? 2.2.11

Hi!
Glad to see you!
You just missed all the shoveling fun.
Matt and I finished for today (hopefully).
Now, take a look down this hill...
Would you believe people are voluntarily driving down it?!?!
And honking at people who are in the road at the bottom of the hill!
How would you explain that accident to your insurance provider?

Shovel Out? 2.2.11

Well, the drive is done, but the streets are not plowed!
No sign of the plow yet!
Does Will County still plow side streets?
Matt and I are digging out the street at the end of our drive while Mr McDoodle romps in the snow.

Driveway, 2.2.11

Well, I found the drive.
Or, part of it!
It really wasn't much of a snowfall.
But, where is the street?
Haven't seen a snow plow yet.

Inside the Chicken Run, 2.2.11

I am so very glad I took the time to stand out in the cold last month and finally tarp the run!
And think, it was so cold and my fingers were so numb that I almost quit half way through.
This is so much less snow than on the rest of the lot, but I don't think my feathered children will be venturing out as they are not fond of snow on their toes.

Shoveled Out Back Patio, 2.2.11

Well, I shoveled enough to feed Farmer Fred and his harem!
Obviously it's a little deep.
Nothing to cry about, though!
The chickens appreciated the visit as they turned their water over again.
Mr McDoodle tried the bunny hop through the drifts, but only hopped 5 feet before he hopped on back!!!
How is your puppy enjoying the snow?

Snow Apocalypse, 2.2.11

Back door!!!

Snow Apocalypse, 2.2.11

Remember when I said to use the front door?
Well, this is a view of the front yard,
and,
after a second Long look,
I noticed the street appears to be
3-4 feet deep!

Snow Apocalypse, 2.2.11

Snow Apocalypse!

Okay, this is the view this morning! Note the drifts around and beyond the neighbor's garbage tote.

2.1.11 A Little Drifting

It's a good thing the feathered children have plenty of food, munchies and a lamp on a timer for heat!
The snow has drifted over the bottom edge of the door. It will still be easy to open it, though. That's good as we have a platter of oranges and onion and potato peals for their breakfast tomorrow!
Thinking I may have to go out the front door on my house and wade around back to the coop.
Sure glad I thought ahead to drape the run with tarps on two sides. They should have a fairly clear run to play in despite the storm. And sun beaming in on the south side of the run.
But... I am rambling a bit... I'll try to post more pics as things develop.

2.1.11 'Blizzard'

Well, friends, it is best you not come to the back door! This is all the further it would open! LOL
It is the west side of the house... not so deep out front! The fire is roaring so you can come in and warm up.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snow Apocalypse?

Well, dear friends, I am still waiting for the blizzard to hit... Maybe my perspective is due to the years I lived in Bradford, PA...? I'm thinking that is probably the case... I look out the door and think, "Finally, a decent amount of snow!" well, I have been saying, "We either need three feet at once or none at all!" This messing around with an inch here and there just doesn't seem right~ or logical...
Yes, there is the remnant of a large TV in my driveway... it belongs to Matt who brought it home to strip it of copper for his recycling business... he started to take it apart when cute little Destiny wandered over and he lost interest in the copper and spent the last day warm enough to do anything worthwhile outside trying to impress a girl with his abilities to pummel a TV with brute strength! As it is frozen to the drove, I have decided to ignore it until the spring thaw!
Are you getting any decent amounts of fluffy white stuff?
'Snow Day' tomorrow?
Any special plans?

2.1.11 @ 8pm

So, this may be a better photo of how far my storm door was opening..?

Snow Apocalypse 2.1.11

Happy Blizzard!
This is the amount of snow blown up against my back door.
This is all the further it will open!

Sometimes it Really is All About Attitude!

Well, Hello! Happy Blizzard to you!! 
As you look at the impending storm, or the storm hitting you as we speak, are you focusing on how beautiful God makes the snow and ice? 
Have you noticed the reflection of the sun on the snow and ice is almost enough to light up the inside of your house? 
Are you prayerfully grateful for the snow as your town is running out of water? 
Maybe you are planning a Blizzard Party?!
Here, at work, I have set our 
1st Annual Blizzard Party
in motion. 
At 3:00pm there will be a potluck in our tenant library. 
Between now and the party our tenants should be cooking up a storm to show off their culinary skills to all their neighbors! They'll be way too busy to fret over the pending blizzard.
From 3:00pm till 10:00pm they will be so busy munching and chatting happily with their neighbors they won't have time to worry. 
Take a blizzard and make it a party!!! 
Maybe the snow is God's way of saying "Slow down, enjoy and take care of each other!"
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