Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Latest Happenings Here on Our Farm

Wow, I can't believe it has been 11 days since my last post! I give tons of props to all the mom's who blog on a daily basis. I have great intentions to do so, but my gosh it is so hard. I just can't find the time.

Anyways, in those 11 days, a ton has been going on around here. A quick recap (at least as much as comes to my head. I'm sure there is somethings being left out but that's how it goes): a zoo trip, a birthday party, a chili cookoff, a trip to Youngstown to visit my grandmother, Lillian's well check, hen drama-the broody hen's eggs never hatched =( , library story time started, building a hotbox, applebutter festival, organized kids clothes for the upcoming season, being nominated as the artist of the month for my county (woo woo!!), finishing my scarf, not to mention all of the regular everyday chores and dramas =)  Life has been busy!!

Today I blog hoping to inspire someone out there to make a hotbox (cold frame) or at least think about it. Creating one and be a little more self sufficient and less reliant on the grocery store through the winter months is super easy and important for our health, wallets and the environment. Self sufficiency rocks!

I was planning to type out step by step what one is and how to make one but I think it would be more beneficial to you and me if I just add some links.   =)

if you want more info just google cold frames or hot beds OR message me! =)

I want to let you know that I am by no means a carpenter as my pictures show! But this project is so simple and doesn't have to be absolutely perfect. The plants are not going to care, they will just be grateful for the loving environment.

the window sashes I saved from when I got new windows 2 years ago

cutting the wood with my helper <3
built, now needs paint to weatherproof

loves that he helped build it! And not only learned about building but also about how decomposition works, about growing seasons and where food comes from when we don't grow it ourselves

digging our 2 foot hole to add the chicken poop to create heat

hole dug

chicken poop and straw mix

finished filling with soil, pounded down and put box on top

thought I was done

Then super nice people donated 125 year old bricks to put the box on so it doesn't rot from sitting on the dirt. Thanks Dan and Rita!!

planted onions and carrots, soon to plant lettuce and hopefully spinach.

I will not say that it is super easy work. The construction is a simple box, but it does take time and muscle power to dig out the hole. That was the hardest part. If you built a cold frame no digging required =)   Oh, and the box is red because it was the only outdoor paint I had =) I did not want to buy anything for this project. I used scrap wood, old hinges, old paint and our old windows. nothing was spent! =)

Have fun exploring new ideas with the hotbox/cold frame in mind! I hope you have fun and become a little more self sufficient in some way in your life.

Thanks for coming and visiting me here on the farm <3

Saturday, October 2, 2010

You Too Can Clean Your Chimney!

Today sure was a trying day here on the farm. There was much work to be done, lousy weather to do it in and differing opinions of what tasks take priority. And the timing; when these tasks should be accomplished had to be an issue too. To say the least, it was a tiring and taxing day for all, but most of the work got done and there is always tomorrow for the rest. I find peace in that. I am grateful to even have this land to raise my children on, so there is no use in quarreling over the small stuff. I wish I could remember that when we are in the midst of it though.

Oh, and did I mention that BOTH kids skipped their naps! 

Anyways, we decided that today was the day to get serious about cleaning the chimney. For those of you who don't know yet, we use a wood burner as our source of heat. This will be our second full winter using it and we agreed early on in the year, that this past summer we had to clean the chimney for the first time....Well, here we are, October 2nd and still have a dirty chimney. These cool autumn nights have me yearning for the warm glow of a fire (not to mention the heat!) but this job must be done first; weather we do it ourselves or pay someone to do it. And the later in the year it gets the better it sounds to just pay someone to get the job done.

.....James decided today that he was going to do it.

Now, I don't imagine that cleaning a chimney is that hard of a job, it's just running a bush down a chimney, how hard is that. So, it must be super, extra dirty and dingy and yucky. Otherwise, why would so many people pay someone to do it. When I think of sweeping chimneys, I think of the sweepers in Mary Poppins. Dirty and sooty and I definitely did not want my house like that. I imagine a plume of black soot billowing out of my firebox into my home, filling it with a thick black film. Ok, or if not that, at least plumes out the top of the chimney, right? I wanted to pay someone to do this job, at least the first time. Watch and learn. But no, James was going to do it.....

To my surprise, there was no soot in the house at all, nor on the roof! James did get a little dirty and I did see the soot fall down into the firebox, but it doesn't plume all over the room like I envisioned. It didn't even escape the firebox. What did I learn today? That cleaning your own chimney is easy and economical! You, yes even you, can do it! =) 

But, if you don't want to do it yourself, and you do use your fireplace or burner, get it cleaned for sure! A chimney fire is a very real and dangerous threat to your home. I have been telling James that we would have a very chilly winter, meaning no fires at all, until ours was cleaned period. That is one issue I would not budge on!

Ok, so the ins and outs of cleaning your own chimney....=)
1) find out the diameter of your chimney and if it is square or round...Then the approximate length of the chimney from the fire box to the top of it.
2) Buy a brush and rods that fit your chimney diameter and length. I called all of the local fireplace stores to purchase from a local business (we feel very strongly about supporting our local businesses), and the local stores wanted more then double for the exact same item that was being sold at the nearest big box chain store..sadly, we ended up at the box store.
3) clean your chimney! I know i am making this sound to simple but really it is. Just attach the rods to your brush (the rods come in 4 ft sections, so they need to be connected together first obviously), and get on your roof, take the cap off and go to town.  Oh yes, open the damper so the soot can fall into the box.
ready to keep us warm this winter =)

This is one job that must be done and I am proud to say that it is one that we can do for ourselves; one that my mother remembers my grandfather doing for himself. We are a little more self sufficient here on the farm and it feels so good. I am glad to rely on one less company or person to do a task that is simple to do ourselves, if we just take the time to do it.  I love it here on Dew Thyme Farm, everyday is a new learning and growing experience...

Thanks for coming to visit! Oh yes...and the bread I served you today with the pear butter.....that was made fresh today too. Thanks for having a slice ;)

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Busy, Busy Time

Hey bloggies....I am sooooo neglecting this blog stuff. I was going strong, getting all excited about it, doing good, then wham---nothin. We have done lots of fun stuff, and in my mind had great blogs planned out, but then the night went by, then the next day, then two days, then it was just too late to blog about it...old news, on to more things I haven't found time to blog about...So, this blog is going to be a quick catch up. Then, hopefully I will be better about keeping up.....
 Art Show

Fun With Family
Great lessons learned on giving!
We give back....Apple picking for the local food bank

root veggi harvesting
want me?!?!?! I'm for sale ;)

started selling on e-bay

The kitty saga continues
bread making and selling

giving baskets of our goods as gifts

fruit leathers

harvesting, hulling and eating walnuts =) YUM!!

dye making
Homemade walnut hull dye

All of these things, plus more, were suppose to be separate blogs! I guess, there you go....If you want to know more about any of them just ask...otherwise, I will *try* to keep up...

Thanks for taking the time to visit me here on Dew Thyme Farm =)  Come back and visit again real soon, the kettle is on!