Monday, November 29, 2010

Everyone, meet Pilgrim!!!

We've finally named the puppy. Pilgrim, or "Grim" or "Grimmie" or whatever fits his mood for the day.

T had a bright idea to poll it on the blog, but just today, and I wanted to start calling him something! So Pilgrim it is. He's a cute little bugger, no matter what.

So far he's been blanketed, haltered, and has decided he really would rather have none of it. But we persist, and today he came up to me, sniffed the halter, and then proceeded to give my jeans (both legs) a lick-down. I'm just happy he came up to me on his own!
He's had his share of visitors, and he's been quite shy for them all. Hopefully soon he'll start sharing the love, just gotta get used to us all! Everyday I see him coming out of his shell more. It's been fun getting to know him! He's awful cute running and bucking around his pen. I'll have to take video soon - the girls think it's hilarious.
PS. Thanks, so much Laura, for taking K home with you today and watching her! It was so nice to have that time with A, I know she loved it! Thanks bunches!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

FarMin a Baby: Day 2

Here are some more pictures of our 'lil man.

Peeps is their new stall friend.

After Thanksgiving Dinner Snooze....

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

We have a BABY!!!!!!!!

Can you see him?

He is SOOOOO cute!

See no evil...

Oh my goodness. I just can't get enough of him. I want to eat him up.

Due to the darkness of the night, the pictures are NOT great. More fabulous pictures to come. Guess where I'll be spending my Thanksgiving?!
Thank God for healthy BaBiEs!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

FarM Update...I think we're ready for WinteR!

We've been working hard at winterizing the barn, at least as much as we can. I think we've finally made it. For now. this point the electric and water out there is quite self-sustainable. Let me explain.

These puppies, at this point in time, supply all of our electrical power. They convert crazy amounts of sunlight into ... something ... that charges a deep cell battery from which we run our lights (2) and water pump. And other miscellaneous items such as phone chargers when it runs low from playing Pandora all day.
It doesn't like T's 24-volt battery charger for his tools. I wish I knew why (but if you do, you might save your time explaining it to me. there's a good chance i wouldn't understand)

We also have solar motion-powered lighting available. There is a mini-panel by the large solar panels that charge this light. It keeps me from freaking out when I run over to feed at night. Or in the morning. It's all the same here right now.
And the wata....

A couple weeks ago T and I took a few minutes (or hours, depends on if you like the glass half full or half empty) and dug this huchunko hole. We have gutters on the barn that have, up until this point, filled 55-gal drums with rainwater which we pumped out (see solar panels) to the desired destination. But 55-gal drums isn't a whole lot and we found ourselves running through 110-gals of water in a week with 2 horses. So when we saw these 275-gal beauties on Craigslist we picked a few up. Well, 2, because we only have 2 sides of the barn we can glean water from.
We underestimated their size. They are large. So, as of now, we have 1 large water tank and 1 55-gal drum. It will stay this way until next spring. Cause I say so. And we have noticed a huge difference. Water isn't overflowing after each rain. This setup is working well. (until it freezes).
But, you ask, how do we keep our water trough from freezing?
I'm a nerd. I would rather try alternative methods prior to jumping on the electrical-life-sucking-water-tank-heaters that are available at hardware stores Everywhere, U.S.A. Honestly, they use a LOT of energy and we simply don't have those resources. So I googled "Solar Water Tank" and ran into this wonderful little link. Our plans came from this site, with some modifications.

God bless Menards. On the website they mentioned using a double layer of polycarb panels on one side for solar energy to heat the water tank. They then painted the stock tank black on that side ?to attract? the sunlight (sorry guys, i'm obviously not very scientific. i'm doing my best). Well, we took this idea one step better. Menards just received in-stock some double-layer polycarb something that was $$$$ but proclaimed to allow something like 90%ish light through and keep 82%ish thermal energy contained. So we jumped and bought a panel, using only a single layer due to the high rating of this product. Then, we thought that rather than painting our stock tank black to attract more light, we'd use the high R rated (like 13?) foil that is used in houses to surround the tank. (in addition to the 1-2" of pink foamboard insulation that lines the rest of the tank). We haven't put the foil on yet, the tank hasn't needed it.

The top is an old countertop, with 2-12" holes to allow horses on each side of the fence to drink. In conclusion, we may have spent more on this water tank then what we would an electrical bill this winter. (maybe. we had the wood for the frame, plywood, and countertop.) But, it's cool and we will reuse this next year. And the next. And the next.

Oh, and 1 more note about the tank. We drilled down approximately 3-3.5' (as far as the land would allow us to dig) and placed 4" diameter PVC pipes. And filled them with stones. The hypothesis being that the warmth from the earth may insulate the water tank.
However, I think that our water tank is in such a position as it is hit by a lot of wind. And the poor earth didn't stand a chance. Maybe it'll help though, can't hurt.
How are the animals gearing up for winter?
The chickens have an inside pen. Taking one of my stalls. They'd better lay good all winter.

Cindy is entering a Chewbacca-look-alike contest.

Peach is expecting her first. Any. Day. Now.

I mean, that's the first think I think of when I think winter, right? And live outside? Great Idea.
Honestly though, she's looking good. Even got out for a walk today and seemed to enjoy it. I think. As much as you can with a lively babe knocking around in your belly.
'Da Kitties are hunkering down in any warmth they can find.

They really are good kitties. Man, that boy, he's just like a dog. Follows us on trail rides and everything. I'm so glad they found us.

Happy Winter!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Happy Birthday, Adalynn!!!

So, My Baby Girl. Today, you are 3. This morning you fought it, but whipping out the video camera to get your fight on camera sure convinced you quick that being 3 isn't all bad.
You are growing up so...quick. I know every parent says that, but really, you are. Your 5T clothes and amazing mastery of the english language leads most everyone to believe you are older than you really are. 97% percentile for height? Yikes!
But, my point is, TOO BAD. Big girl or not, you will always be my baby. And I love you very much....And...HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Harvest Fest 2010

We have some projects we've been working on out at the barn, but they aren't quite done. (many, many thanks to my Dad, Linda, and brother for helping this last weekend!) So I'll show some very late Halloween pictures instead.
In the middle of October each year (for the last 2 years) we (meaning my Dad, Linda, and us children and families) drive up to Traverse City to participate in the State Park's Harvest Festival. Last year we camped out of the back of our freezing cold weather...when Keely was a mere 3 months old. This year Dad and Linda bought a camper. So the kids slept their sweet selves in that while T and I hunkered down in a 24' trailer. Not meant for camping. And no, I'm not kidding.
Saturday we carved pumpkins.

And decorated our campsite. (i give all credit for the decorations to my sister and her ingenuity. i hardly completed my kids costumes in time). The cardboard box out front of the decorations declared our fondness for reusing items. My sister and her kiddos crafted bats out of used toilet paper rolls and newspaper, ghosts out of used paper and plastic bags. Cute!

We chilled by the campfire and the boys tossed the pigskin around...

Our theme was "Sesame Street", and we all dressed up as characters. My niece and nephew: Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.

A: Abby Cadaby. And watch out if you call her a princess - she is not a princess. She is Abby Cadaby! And will correct you quite emphatically.

K: Elmo, my bro: the Cookie Monster.
My brother-in-law: the annoying sponsorship telephone guy, and my sister and I were Yip-yips.

After costume judging, in which A won a $5 gift cert to Burger King, my nephew won something, and my brother-in-law, we trekked over to "the bridge" to take pictures as a whole, large group.

And then trick-or-treated to our hearts content.
Another funny story: We were hanging out at the campsite on Saturday, my niece had crawled into the back of our truck to get something for me when T's siren started howling and lights flashed. Out from behind the truck walks Jack and his daughter, T's co-firefighter back here at home. It's a small world!

Laura: The horse is Jacks...he is here temporarily-ish for some groceries and rehab. The vet thinks he has an old injury, and most likely he does, but he wasn't looking to good after the summer. Jack has sold his other horses, so we have Bucky here so he isn't alone...most likely being alone was not helping him gain weight and heal. Since he's been here he has gained probably about 50lbs so far and I think looks much more relaxed as he's settling into a routine. Hopefully the good results keep coming!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Time Change, whaaat?

There ain't no time change when you can't read the clocks.
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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Happy Weekend!

We have new things happening around the FarM, as always! Right now we have a temporary resident hanging out in Cindy's pasture, gaining weight and enjoying life. We drove to Hudsonville this morning to pick up two round bales for the horses to munch on.
And the new light of Travis' life are the 6 new chickens we picked up this morning. All are young laying hens, so I'm geeked too. Sure beats the rash of roosters we've had coming our way.
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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

In this season of Thankfulness...

I am thankful for my daughters.

For the care they show towards nature.

For their ability to run, jump, skip, and hop.

For their precious smiles.

For their fondness for rocks.

And seeing new things.

And showing me new things...

...and old things, with new eyes.

I'm thankful for their ability to make a fall into something good.

For their independence.


And their love of animals.
Lord, thank you for the gift of raising these girls. Amen.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cleaning up my Flash Card, and came across these:

While in Ludington, do as the Ludingtonites do...
Go hiking:

Walk...after getting the bus stuck...

Pose for pictures by the lighthouse...
(k, maybe that's more of a touristy thing...oh well)

Teach kiddos about lighthouses...

Pose for more pictures in the fabulous, gritty, sandy dunes...

Climb stairs...

And pose for more pictures, this time with your entire load of cousins...