Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Smith-sonian

We have a shelf at our home that houses small treasures from hikes, adventures, and explorations. Over the years the few trinkets have become an abundance. We affectionately refer to it as the Smith-sonian... Smith being our last name. It is presently housed in a barrister bookcase shelf.

It appeals to both the kid in us and the inquisitive natural science side of us.

Groovy things about...  shells of every kind, seaweed, coral, driftwood

Bones, cactus, moths, butterflies, a rattlesnake tail

Eggs, skulls, cicada casings, pinecones, petrified redwood, and rocks of every sort.

I was asked recently if I collect anything. At the time all I could think of was that I enjoy chicken- and bird-related items. I never really thought about the Smith-sonian as something I "collect", I dont go out and buy items for a collection but we do pick up treasures on a regular basis. So, yes, I do collect more than chickens. Do you have a collection? Do you still enjoy

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Underneath the Paw-Paw Tree

One of our Amish friends was working construction in the Erie area. A paw paw tree was on the property and he brought us some of the fruit. A little reading revealed that the paw paw is native to America.

Clearly we inexpertly cut it up. Fortunately, that didn't affect the fabulous flavor of it. Light yet full-bodied flavor reminiscent of strawberries and cantaloupe with a hint of banana.

The paw paw never has been sold commercially because it doesn't hold or travel well. We're thinking it might be nice to plant a paw paw tree or two.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fall - Part II - Country Roads

Fall - Part I - Close to Home

OK, I'm including this one because it is soooo very creepy and strange. About the size of my finger. Any idea what it might be? It came up in a patch of multi-flora rose and blackberry brambles as the big plants died back.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What Two Determined People (and One Lazy Dog) Can Accomplish

Here I am, the Queen of Stretch-Wrap, wrapping a pallet of boxes for shipment. Kent and I were very blessed and happy to get an order for parts from Westile. 

However, we don't yet have an actual shop in which to make these parts. Additionally, the weather became cold, windy and rainy. But Kent set us up with a makeshift work area. He put the punchpress in the metal building on some OSB, made a table with sawhorses, stacked pallets along a wall for boxes and set to work cutting parts. He also made me a workstation in the carport with a radiant propane heater, my bending table, and I set up my audiobooks. I spent the Saturday before we dug in cooking all the meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and putting them in the freezer. Then we spent long days for two weeks making the 70,000 parts.

We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog post to bring you a message from our dog, Bear:

To say we felt a sense of accomplishment when the 140 boxes of parts were all secured on the pallets for shipment is a major understatement.

Thank you, Lord,
for providing us with work and
the strength to stick with the task.

Our New, Super Powerful, Earth Friendly, Self-steering Rototiller

A hybrid, it can run on grain or vegetables. Pleasant lines make it easy on the eyes and it grunts along without hanging up on tough sod.  A compact model, it also has room for expansion and it's power will only increase with age and use.

We hope to have all our new garden plots and expansions tilled up before winter set in in earnest. And yes, they will join the chickens in the freezer come March. Until then, they are a great addition to the farm yard. In just three days these little pigs have tilled up a fourth of their current "yard".

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

So Falls the Mighty Oak

I went for a walk in the woods today to see the artist.

I followed the sound of the chainsaw, because today the artist is a woodsman.

And the mighty oak fell. What a shower of golden leaves, like a confetti celebration.

There were two mice who were much alarmed at the toppling of their townhouse. We aren't sure where their house was, but they lingered on the tree very confused. I felt bad for their shock but there are many more places for little mice to winter over in these woods.

And the woodsman is making sure we are warm as we winter over in our home, warmed by the fire of a wood-burning furnace. It's a cozy feeling.

I hope he knows how much I appreciate his hard work to take good care of us.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Wherin We Enjoy an Opportunity to Share a Kindness

Two weekends ago we had the opportunity to lend a hand to a project some friends were working on. I say we, but it was Kent who lent a hand and his expertise. But I was so proud of him and pleased he would do it. Sharon and Richard and their children, John, Lisa and Danielle, have been a huge part of my life for about 15 years. And at a very difficult time in my life they were the hands and feet of Jesus to me and helped keep me strong and growing spiritually and brought joy, comfort and fun to my life. Truly, they can never know the depth of what that meant and they mean to me even now. So for Kent to do for them what I myself could not, was a great gift.

Danielle and her husband needed to replace an enclosed back porch before the weather turned and before Danielle delivered their second child. The help they thought they had lined up was a no show and Kent loaded tools and hurried down. I got to tag along and spend time with Sharon, Danielle, her little one, Sophie, and Lisa and her little one, Joshua. Steph even came down to join us.

So while Kent

and Pastor Gene helped Dominic

fram in the porch...

I spent time with Sharon and we checked out a great old sewing machine she'd picked up at a thrift shop, caught up on news and happenings, visited with the girls,

and loved on her adorable grandchildren, Joshua,

and Sophie.

By the end of the day, the framing was done and Danielle and Sharon put on a great little picnic while John built us a campfire

complete with pleasant guitar music by Dominic

and conversation and marshmallow roasting. It was a delightful time with dear, dear friends.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Where the Ducks Walk on the Fish

We've been having a great visit with my brother, Ken, and sister (in law and heart), Perla. Mostly we've enjoyed visiting and catching up. I've been enjoying my dose of girly-ness which Perla always imparts to me - especially in light of our five months of hard work and grubbing in the garden since our arrival. They even brought me a pretty necklace and earrings and a fabulous purse. Sigh. I finally unpacked my curling iron and put a little curl in my hair.

Anyway, we thought it would be nice to get out for a drive yesterday and opted to take in a tourist stop at Pymatuning Resevoir - known as the place where the "Ducks Walk on the Fish." The upstream side of the spillway is protected from fishing and the carp in there are HUGE. I mean BIG. We're talking ENORMOUS. And with nothing preying on them, they are NUMEROUS.

 Ken and Perla

You can't see the fish here but this is a stretch where people come to feed the fish. And birds gotta eat, too, so they congregate above the water. It makes for a real frenzy.

We only took one loaf of bread - such a tiny drop in such a big "bucket".
Me and big brother, Ken

Look closely and what do you notice about these ducks and assorted water birds? They are all swimming towards me. You see, we fed most of the bread to the fish at the parking lot overlook before deciding to take the walk to the end where the actual spillway is. And this floating armada of ducks followed us all the way there. It was almost creepy.

Me and Perla. I love her smile! 

At the spillway itself, the competition becomes fierce. Some ducks and gulls loiter here but mostly it's the fish. I was amazed at how the gulls could walk around right at the edge without being swept over it. Surely it's slippery and mossy and that's a lot of water volume spilling non-stop. They were as sure-footed as mountain goats on a ledge.

Perla tried to get Ken going  by heading over the railing above the spillway... somehow I was pretty sure she wouldn't do it.

Look at that roiling mass of carp! Incredible... but then throw some bread in and see them really get going...

Fish on fish. A floating island of squirming carp that actually leaves some floundering on top.

It may not be culture or fine art but it is quite a sight. I only wished we'd brought more bread.