Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I may or may not plug things here, but this book I just have to. Jenna is amazing and I have been reading her blog daily since I found it a couple years ago. She is definitely part of the fire that moved me toward a farm. Her first book Made from Scratch was great too. When that came out is about the time I started reading her blog Cold Antler Farm. If anyone is interested signed copies (signed by her and her dog Gibson) are available at Battenkill Books, a local bookstore in her part of New England.

She mentioned in her blog today that she was writing an article of how farming changed her in ways she didn't anticipate, like what she wore to work. I keep thinking of the saying don't dress for the job you have (I'm an executive) dress for the job you want (farmer). Somehow, when I enter my office in my carhart vest and cowboy boots, something feels amiss, but then that is kinda normal for the Rocky Mountains. But, I can't wait to take off my suit (or what I have recently got to telling myself passes as a suit) and put on jeans, work boots and go out and check on the chickens while drooling over tree catalogs from the division of forestry and mapping out how to set up rotational grazing pens on the property for the goats. I have a feeling if someone checked my Internet cruising at work it would surprise them. Do you think reading about goat breeding counts as porn?? Let's hope not.

Things continue to move along. The roof was completed last week. Right after I blogged about how long it was taking. Do you think they read the blog? Tomorrow the electric company comes to move the meter off the house so we can finish the siding. Tomorrow night also calls for 20 degrees and snow.

Saturday was pretty windy and we were pretty much done with what we could accomplish outside, so we moved inside. Mudding new drywall and prepping the living room. I was not in my best form on Saturday, once again scrapping at little hard circles of paneling glue off the old drywall thinking to myself do I really want to spend all this time preserving this disgusting, cat stained drywall. That would be a resounding "NO". Luckily before I voiced my opinion, not to sound cranky and all, J came in and said this is gross. Let's replace it. (Hurray!)

Well, as you may or may not know, decisions like these can open a whole can of worms. So as we were discussing it I asked, can we replace the drywall and not get sucked into any additional projects replacing everything. It is an old house. Not everything is all shiny and new. The temptation to make it that way can be strong. We both firmly agreed that we could. So, as we would be making a mess, we decided to roll up the new carpet the previous owner had put in so as not to ruin it. And then, we saw the disintegrating particle board, cat stained and soiled, under the carpet pad. So....new carpet pad gets tossed, new carpet goes into the grain silo for storage and we commence to spend the next two hours ripping out the most appalling sub-floor ever. Note to readers, never use particle board as a sub-floor. It absorbs everything, gets musty and smelly and then turns to gross dust. The bright side to this, there was not so gross plywood sub-floor under a layer of tar paper. As a result, we did not tear down to the frame, and I spent Sunday putting Kilz on the plywood to protect it from any moisture coming from underneath. We will add another layer of tar paper and plywood and then lay hardwood. No side projects, I swear, pinky promise and everything.

Sunday I spent the day at the farm by myself. It was lovely, warm and I spent most of it outside and in the barn. I scraped the barn doors and framing and put on a coat of primer. We will be replacing them, but I wanted to give it a protective coat until the spring. I painted the feet of the claw foot and the outside of the tub. The tub is now a nice misty/smoky blue to match the tile accents and the feet are oil rubbed bronze to match the fixtures. Once we finish the bathroom and can put in the tub/sink/toilet, we will probably move the spare bed up there and stay all weekend. We have owned the house for two months today and have yet to spend the night. Seems strange.

I also met with John from prairie range land services. Awesome guy. Would love his job. We basically spent an hour walking the property and talking about what I need to do to grow grazing grass, prep the fields, plant the trees, how and where to plant the orchard, a new product called bio char that rocks in the growth department, and healing some of the field that was a parking lot for tractors. He went back to his office and sent me that same day a huge packet of articles, catalogs and how to's for the grass farmer. I don't mind so much paying taxes when I get a host of "free" farm consultants. So, I am almost ready to place my tree order for the windbreaks, and also ask his colleague Mike for a quote on them doing the planting. The tree order will likely be 200+ baby trees and shrubs for approx. $250.00. Gotta love the tree people.

Well, off to wind down. Dream of berries and pies (of which the Thanksgiving pie was not so great, as J enjoyed, repeatedly, pointing out. Totally humbled.) and grazing goats.

new roof and siding (to be painted)

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Today there is a lot to be thankful for. Family, friends, folks who show up in whipping wind to help you "raise a barn", loving pups, fresh eggs, sunshine in November, and the list goes on.

J is up at the farm. It is amazingly in the 60's today and he wanted to get some work done. I will bring him lunch later. I am at home making a Thanksgiving dinner. I bought a big enough turkey to make potpies after. Totally in the list of favorite foods. Next year we will be preparing a turkey we raised alongside vegetables we grew. This year was Whole Foods mayhem the day before and wonderful pie making at Dana's house. Hopefully her pies came out, as I realized I screwed up the crust ingredients on the first two (one mine, one hers).

Lately I have been obsessed with winter squash. The seed catalogs should be arriving any time now for January ordering. We are trying to decide what kind of heirloom squash to grow, so I have been trying every variety I can find. Cooking them in the best way, stuffed with apples, dried cherries or cranberries, walnuts or pecans and honey or maple syrup and a little butter. MMMMMM. It's like dessert only good for you. At least that is what I tell myself. Guess that depends on the butter and sweet added.

Today the menu is, smashed baby red potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts, sauteed spinach and mushrooms, orange cranberry chutney, apple pie and of course, turkey. All that for two people, unless we find some folks along the way today.

I was recently astounded that for all my years as a vegetarian I never ate a tofurkey. I think I might be glad about that.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cookin' with gas...

I can't believe it is Sunday evening and I am almost ready for bed, to begin another week. Albeit a short week.

Yesterday morning J woke up before the alarm and found that it snowed. Not much. A dusting really, but we were worried what that meant just north of us at the farm where the weather is always a bit more extreme. We were very lucky to have not had enough to delay starting work on the siding.
Any weather typically means one thing on the farm. You guessed it...wind. It was so gusty that the roofers tarp blew off the south side and was blowing over the top of the roof. We finally got hold of them in the late morning so they could come fix it and not leave the roof totally exposed. I think it is taking them so long because of the wind. I anticipated the job to be completed by now. That is me giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Due to the wind, it has been an ongoing project picking up old shingles, tar paper and nails that have blown all over the yard. Hoping we don't get a roofing nail in a tire. Not fun.

Even though it was windy, Dave and J's friend from work Mike arrived to help start the siding.

The nice thing is the sun actually did come out and the snow was gone rather quickly. We were able to finish siding almost the whole south side.

The down side is when we arrived this morning we had no heat. The thermostat read a chilly 46 degrees. Not so good when you come into the house to warm up and it feels colder inside. When we were finally able to get hold of someone from the heating company they told us it was probably related to the roofers. J went on the roof (no wind today...hear that..angels singing hallelujah). The roofers had covered the vent when they came to fix the tarps. As a result, the heat kicked off, otherwise carbon monoxide city, or something like that. Luckily by lunchtime, totally toasty.

Today we had additional help. While we didn't have Mike again, our friends Josh and Lisa came to help. It was awesome having a couple extra hands today. Unfortunately they came later in the morning. Which meant I had to climb three stories of scaffolding to help J finish the peak on the south side. Does anyone out there know how afraid of heights I am. Think complete white terror. I actually burst into tears for a moment trying to make it to the third level. Then I told myself a lovely little saying a dear friend used to say, "Buck up and be a woman". Apparently it worked and I was able to assist finishing the peak. Now for the north side, I am hoping to time it in line with our helpers. One magnificent moment of overcoming absolute terror at a time please.

So as a result of all this assistance (thank you thank you thank you) we finished two sides this weekend. The downside is that we ordered primed siding and didn't get it. Too much hassle to fix the error. However, that doesn't leave us a very big window to paint and painting when it is cold is not exactly ideal. We may just prime and wait it out until warmer weather. In Colorado that could be next week. Maybe.

At the end of the day, after all the tools are put away and we played a game of nail sweep in the driveway, it was very satisfying. J and I took the dogs for a walk along the cornfield and talked about windbreaks. We picked dried corn cobs left over from the harvest on the edge of the fields behind the house. These will go to the chickens. The rest of the field is headed to Connecticut to be made into organic livestock feed (probably the one I buy!).

I spent most of this past week studying trees for windbreaks and coming up with an order for CSU's nursery. They provide modestly priced trees in bulk for windbreaks and creating forested areas. Most of our choices will not only provide the break, but also fruit for preserving and food to attract wildlike and birds, acorns for the pigs (future plans) and cover for the animals. They will come to us very small, but it always seems like you plant your own roots and plans for the future when you plant trees. No instant gratification with trees. But now, it is time to plant my weary butt in bed. It's almost 7:30 for crying out loud.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


The roofing has begun.

Siding delivered.

This weekend is gonna be big.

Anyone feeling the urge to do some labor for adoration and a home cooked lunch is welcome.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What a difference a day makes...or two

Wow. I can't believe what J and I accomplished yesterday and half of today with our friends Dave and Bryan. And get this, during wind advisory and winter warnings. It has been beyond blustery.

The majority of the house is sheathed as of noon today. Yesterday morning it was covered in the foam and 2x4's. It made you think, what the heck are they doing??

Let me just say, it is so much quieter than the house in town. Last night the wind was rattling the house and windows. When we were at the farm, shut the door and...silence.

So, Dave was the cutter, and I was the runner and numbers gal. For the most part we set up shop in the barn, which was nice since the door faces east. No wind. Today we moved out to the yard east of the house. Again, the house was a nice wind break for cutting. We borrowed some steel scaffolding and it made all the difference in the world. Once we got to the high spots it went smooth, since the scaffold went across almost the length of the house. We skipped some areas, as we are cutting out for larger windows in the bedroom, but want to wait until they are in, and we are waiting for the electric company to relocate the meter off the face of the house.

Even with the wind, I loved working outside. No matter what the elements (I think) it sure beats an office. And the dogs were well behaved. We just had a small injury yesterday. Ananda, the smallest pup, got a little hung up running through some line fencing. He scraped the inside of his back leg. Like a trooper, he didn't miss a beat and played all day. We didn't notice the injury until we all settled down for dinner. Right now the dogs are passed out on the bed. They played real hard these past couple days. Life is rough.

One of the best parts about the work we are doing has been feeding the crew. It's like family meal at a restaurant. Homemade breakfast burritos in the morning is a nice way to start the day. Yesterday I made chicken fajitas for lunch and had pulled pork going all day in the slow cooker. When we all cleaned up the site yesterday, we sat down for a dinner of pulled pork sandwiches. Yum.

I love the new peak now that we took off the extra roof coming down from the original peak. I can almost see what it is going to look like finished. We will start siding next weekend, weather permitting. So, if anyone is up for providing a little neighborly help, we could use it!!

J tells me I haven't quite told the whole story. Everything sounds so wonderful. We work hard, the house is coming along, building a dream together. Sweet right? It is true. I did edit a little, as I am not one to focus on the negative. We did want to kick each other to the curb for a bit this weekend. It passed around 10ish yesterday morning. You see, fear settles in, usually around the money stuff, like oh my god we just wrote a check for how much and we have how many more to go. And, winter is on it's way and we have how many things to accomplish that we will never get to in time. And, where the heck is my x and the y and did you bring the dog food and enough to eat for six meals... Yah, so, like I said the fear settles in and so does the testiness. Lucky for J, I can't hold a grudge and stuff usually rolls off, after a good cuss or two. Lucky for me, once J gets fed and I tell him it's going to be great after the fiftieth time he asks why did I sign up for this, he is usually quite happy with where we are headed.

The work we are doing now does make for some long weeks, and regular work has been stressful for us both. This physical work actually feels like a nice break. For me anyway. But the weekends come and it is another 10-20 hours of labor only to be Monday again.

When we started I told J we had to make time for the recharge stuff too. Which is why when we finished the sheathing around noon we were done for the day. J made it back to the house in time to change and head to sweat lodge with his crew. Every other Sunday he goes to sweat lodge. Most often he is the fire starter, getting the Grandfathers (the heated stones) ready for lodge. It lasts about two to three hours total, consisting of four rounds of praying, drumming and sweating. He'll be exhausted in a good way when he is done.

My friend Mo and her husband Will are coming up to see the farm with their little one Ronan. I can't wait. Mo was my roommate when I moved to Colorado. When I moved in with J, she moved onto her own farm. They now raise sheep, ducks, turkeys, chickens and have several horses, dogs, cats, etc. Great spread. I'm ciked to show Mo the new place.

And then, relax. It does happen. Sometimes.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

And so the story goes...

This weekend was a flurry of activity.

With help, we drywalled the bathroom walls and ceiling, prepped the floor and laid down new subfloor for the tile. We also drywalled the exposed living room wall. I am going to miss the wood wall, but it is a total superhighway for mice, so it had to be done.

Sunday was gorgeous. We had a slow morning and went to my favorite farm and ranch store. I had to swap my new carhart overalls for a different size. (My legs are just a tad longer than J thought). While we were there we decided to start fencing. Our inaugural pen is for the dogs, off the west side of the barn. So we got t-posts, fencing, a post setter and a jack to lift posts out. T-posts don't look like much, but they are pricey. We have a ton of them bordering the property. The fences could sure use a facelift. We will use the remover to pull them out as we replace the fencing and re-use them when we divide up the pastures for rotational grazing or new babies (animals, not small children).

Yesterday we received a call that the insulation was finished. We now have what looks like a smurf house, all covered in blue. This means this weekend we can start the sheathing and prepare the house for the new siding. I can't wait to be there full-time. The whole patience thing is a bit of a struggle. This week I have Friday off. (Thank you Veterans). I hope to paint the outside of the bathtub and take care of some of the smaller things that need to wrap up, because Saturday morning it is game on if the weather permits.

I also bought a new book this week that is really bringing on the green thumb jones. The Heirloom Life Gardener by Jere and Emilee Gettle. They are a bit on the eccentric side, which I love about them, and have done an amazing job preserving and re-discovering heirloom seed varieties. They own the Baker Creek Seed Company. Other than the fact that their seed catalogs are an ag geeks winter porn, this new book discusses a lot about the care and growing of the various varieties, especially if you want to save your own seeds. J is getting excited about growing veggies he actually likes. He is not the same fan of zucchini that I am.

He just finished The Dirty Life. I think it has really inspired him, however, I don't think he will sign up to farm 500 acres anytime soon. (Working on him though). I also ordered the documentary Small Farm Rising. One of the farms showcased is Essex Farm, which is the farm of the author of The Dirty Life. As a former New York upper-state short-timer, I am curious to see what's happening in the Adirondack farm world. New York state is one of my favorite places, along with the majority of rural New England. I long for windy back roads and hot apple cider. Mmmm.

Well, off to dream again of orange eggplants and baby goats.

Friday, November 4, 2011

New weekend

I'm not much of a girlie girl. Not a big shopper or anything like that. But man, give me an allowance for building supplies and it is sheer heaven. Last week we bought lighting for the house. I am totally in love with the lights for the kitchen. Vintage bronze finish with old school glass with the warps and bubbles.

Tonight was tile night. White subway tiles, black and white mosaic tile for the floor. It will be totally vintage. I cannot wait to soak in the tub in that bathroom. It's the simple pleasures right?

J continued the birthday gifts last night, and the farm theme, with a shopping trip to our local Jax Outdoor store. Jax is the bomb-diggety. Their ranch store is even better, for me anyway. I am now the surreal owner of a firearm. For those of you who know me, total twilight zone right? I am not a gun girl in the least. But, and this is an important but, if you plan to raise livestock, and live in an area with predators who have a hankering for small livestock, it becomes a necessity. Putting down a sick, injured, dying animal or your dinner comes with the territory. So, safety course here I come. I must admit, they all were pretty bland and my attitude was whatever, not really interested but I will entertain your desire to arm this pacifist. Until I picked up the Henry Repeating rifle (which is now mine). I think I may need an intervention shortly.

As a result, J and I had a conversation about how we have absorbed things from each other. He never in a million thought he would be buying a farm. I, little miss handgun control, well, never thought I would touch let alone own a rifle. At the same time, it seems to be the natural evolution in this agrarian life.

That said, still very surreal. If I start quoting Sarah Palin, someone send in the troops quick!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Birthday blessings

Today is my birthday. It has been a hectic day at work. I have a little john deere tractor on my shelf near my desk to remind me daily why I put up with some things. Mostly, I love what I do. It's other things that take a lot of patience. The best part of the day was that I had Colorado Legal Services Migrant Farm Workers Division come speak to my staff. They are wonderful and do an amazing service to those invisible folks who bring us our food in not so amazing conditions. They are hands down my favorite group to collaborate with.

As for my day of wonderful celebration, my gifts have thus far been farm themed. J was great and nailed it. The best part, channelock fence pliers (bring on the baby goats!). These came with bog mud boots, of a purple paisley/flowery persuasion (still a hippie), carhart overalls, another little john deere tractor for the nightstand, and a book on raising small livestock. I am geared and ready to go. Making plans for the land has been fun. I can't wait until January, sitting inside on a cold day with a pile of seed catalogs and a huge dose of hope for the spring.

But for the rest of tonight. Dinner and a movie. Life is good.