Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Kitchen Layers

Zachary and I have re-committed ourselves to the kitchen remodel again the past couple days. Unfortunately we had slacked off the last few weeks and not much progress was being made. A couple minutes swinging the hammer revealed some layers that haven't seen daylight in decades. Maggie is unfazed by the destruction.
We removed the plaster and lathe from the east wall. Cute wallpaper, huh?
We pulled up the old vinyl and plywood and found red vinyl tile covered with small staples. Goody. We have all the staples out now and most of the red tile has been pulled up. Under the tile is tar paper that is also sometimes stubborn to peel up. Under that is hardwood. That is staying put. Whatever we decide for the new floor will go over the top. The old hardwood is too damaged and patched to be refinished.

Oh Winter

December is drawing to a close on the farm. Weather has been interesting, with record snowfall for the month in our area of the state with the total at 44.3 inches. With some rain and a couple melting days in between, the snow depth is not as high. The temperatures has been milder the past week, which is nice around the farm. That means less stress worrying over frozen water pipes and fountains for the animals. I have been off from work since Christmas and I don't have to go back to the office until after the New Year. I have been enjoying the time off. I get to be a full-time farmer with Z. Hopefully he is not sick of me yet. :-)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Queequeg is hunting Christmas dinner through the window.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Food Network Lunch

As you may know or not know, Zachary and I like to cook. You will often find us watching Food Network, getting all sorts of crazy ideas for food. We like to experiment in the kitchen, but today we followed our chef heroes.

So for lunch today we had:
Pan Seared Steak
Baked Mashed Potatoes
Chocolate Chip Cookies

This was much more of "fancy" lunch than we usually have, but it's nice to treat ourselves once and a while. Best cooking show to watch: Good Eats with Alton Brown. The man is a cooking genius.

Pine Scented

Today we brought a tree home. This year it is a Balsam. I'll post another picture of the tree once it is decorated.
I have always felt a little guilty about using a real tree at Christmas time. Cutting down a tree just for a couple weeks decoration... but the smell and tradition always convinces me otherwise. A few months ago, I found on article in This Old House that reaches out the guilty "treehugger" in me. It describes how you can buy a live tree in the fall and prepare it for it's X-mas debut, and then preserve it until it can be planted. The article can be found here. Living in Wisconsin, it would require more planning/preparation on our part, but I would think it would be a neat tradition to start. Maybe next year... remind me about October to start thinking about it. :-)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Snow-Capped

Taken after about 9 inches of new snow fell on Tuesday.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Still Kicking

Yes, we are alive. I am slightly embarrassed that I have not posted since Thanksgiving. :-) Oh well...

Anyway, things are going well around the farm. Winter has truly arrived. We've been getting a inch or two of snow every few days and it is starting to build up a bit. The temperature has also dropped. Last night the low was -1F. Brrr. With the below freezing temps at night, we keep our milking herd in the barn at night. We put bedding in their stalls for comfort and feed them indoors at night in exchange for using their body heat to keep the barn warm enough to prevent the water pipes from freezing. They still go outside during the day for exercise and for more food.

The past week I have been trying to prevent a massive file loss on my iPod. I have been using my 80GB iPod as a portable hard drive for a while now, to free up some space on our computer and to easy access to my freelance graphics files. Long story short, the iPod went corrupt from being disconnected improperly from the computer and it held about 17GB of my files hostage. To fix my iPod, I needed to reformat and restore through iTunes. But before I do that, I had to get my graphics files from it. I tried several extraction softwares, but I wasn't getting anywhere. Somehow on Friday night, my iPod allowed me to access the my files and I could start copying the files to my computer hard drive. I soon realized it would not be that easy. I had corrupt files scattered within my good ones and it would not allow me to copy all of them. So I had to make some hard decisions, saving ones I could and abandoning others. I ended up with about 2.5GB recovered and the rest either I could not recover or decided I could live without. Last night I pressed the reformat button and nuked my iPod... :-(

Moral of the story: Have a Backup operational for your computer files!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Finished

Today Zachary finished the photo album project. He used a oil finish to bring out the natural colors in the maple and cherry.
This is the finished product. The picture in the front is just a placeholder.
The book has twenty inserts with room to expand. We bought some baby themed starter pages for fun.
A final vanity shot, just to show the beautiful variations found in the wood.

Before the Snow Flies

More of the same around the farm lately. My Dad has been busy with making bales for beading from dry corn stalks. Zachary is still working on winterizing the farm. We had a low of 9F the other night.
While walking around today, I had a large flock of pigeons swirling overhead.

Crafts and Hints

From some odds and ends of floral decorative stuff my Mom and I had, I made a fall floral arrangement for a gift. We put in two small ceramic turkeys in the basket for a Thanksgiving touch. I enjoy being crafty, I wish I had more time for it.
My parents also found a cat bed for our cat Queequeg. It is her Christmas present. They still need to find a gift for our dog, Maggie. It is a bit strange that they buy our pets Christmas presents. I guess it is a subtle hint to get going on those grandchildren... :-)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cat Plant

Just add daily head scratches and your Cat Plant will provide years of shedding and early morning whisker tickles for your enjoyment.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Photo Album

Here is Zachary cutting up some Maple and Cherry for a special project.
All there is left to do is stain and assemble the binding for the photo album. When it is finished, it will be a gift for Zachary's sister, as she recently gave birth to a son. We'll post a final photo when it is complete.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Rough" Kitchen Layout

This is a rough concept of our new kitchen will look like. We made this model in SketchUp, a free downloadable software from Google. The cabinet details need to be decided still, but the placement is about right.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Once On This Island

I recently went to a musical called, Once On This Island. Zachary was planning on going too, but he caught a stomach bug right before the show and could not make it. My cousin Kelsey had a large role, she played Mama Euralie, an elderly foster mother of the main character. She and the rest of the cast did a wonderful job. The singing and costumes were beautiful. Kelsey (in costume at left) is pictured with her older sister Brooke and her parents, Bob and Becky (my uncle and aunt), after the show.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Weekend Carpentry

This weekend we started to build the first part of the cabinetry for our kitchen remodel. We decided to go with birch for our woodwork. This is a bench that will have under seat storage for shoes. Above the bench we'll have a coat rack and shelf.
Despite a messy shop work continues.
A successful test fit means finish sanding can begin while the three boards that make up the lid are edge joined together.

Farm Update

On Friday we had the last of our corn harvested. It was about 80 acres worth, with about 170 bushels per acre.
We also got our official first snow this past week. I think it hung around for a hour or so before it melted. On the farm lately, the priorities have been getting the farm ready for winter, like servicing equipment and maintaining buildings. The cows are getting shaggy with the change in weather. We've had a few calves born in past two weeks and it is funny it seems like they are born with thicker coats and are "born ready" for the cold weather.

And it was Zachary's Birthday on the 5th. Happy Birthday Z!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Last of the Garden Bounty

This weekend we dug up the carrots, taking advantage of the last warm days before winter comes. I froze a few bags of chopped carrots and the rest we will put in underground storage for the winter. The 2008 garden cycle is now complete, and we can start scheming for 2009.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Some Kitchen Progress

We finished insulating just in time for the first snowflakes of the winter. With our wood furnace running and the house truly insulated for the first time in it's hundred year history, it gets quite toasty without much effort.
Zachary installed a new side door off the kitchen Tuesday. The old door was drafty and broken, after an unfortunate incident of locking ourselves out of the house.

New Cat on the Block

This Siamese cat wandered onto our farm about a month ago and she seems to like it here, although she does not like us. We can get about 5 feet from her before she bolts. It is very unusual to see purebreds around here as a stray. Maybe one day we can be friends...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pumpkins: Part Two

Wednesday night we were at it again carving pumpkins. Zachary did the Nintendo themed carvings of Mario and Yoshi and Link from Zelda: Windwaker. Yes, Zachary fully admits to being a nerd, and I love him for it. We made our own templates for those. Kate made the Barack Obama and she designed the Airplane, it is one of her favorite planes, the Ercoupe. I did the Lab and the Knight.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A few crops in

Over the weekend we finished harvesting our fourth cutting of hay. This time we made haylege from the crop. 4th crop is typically the last cutting of the season for us.

We also had our soybeans harvested. We don't have are own combine, so we had a local do it for us. The same guy will also combine our remaining corn in a few weeks, when the corn is dry enough.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pumpkin Carving

Wednesday night we had a pumpkin carving party with Kate. The three of us each carved two pumpkins. We had so much fun that we are planning another carving event soon. We may try our hand at creating our own patterns next time. The night ended with six good looking jack-o-lanterns, a heap of seeds, and all fingers intact.
This one was rated four out of four pumpkins in difficulty in the carving pattern book. Zachary loves punishing himself, so he volunteered for this one.
Our collection: lights out.
Our collection: lights on.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sunday Paddle

With the corn silage finished on Saturday, Sunday was free to take the day off and get one more river trip in before the snow flies. Our friend Kate joined us. We got on the water early so we could have a leisurely float, fishing along the way. The fishing was slow, but the weather and colors were beautiful. Above is a juvenile bald eagle. We tailed the youth and a parent most of the trip.


Forgetting to leave a means of transport at the end of the trip, we took a walk back to the house through the woods.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Do cats know what guilt is?

Queequeg does not appreciate it when Zachary plays video games because it leaves no hands free for head scratches. She attempts to guilt him into stopping by looking cute as possible, or biting his hands.

Free Range Goat

Meet Goat. She hasn't been in a pen for over three years. She can wander where ever she pleases, but she claims the heifer shed as her home. At night she jumps in the pens with the cows and during the day she fills her face. She is as wide as she is long. Some people say that having a goat around your cattle prevents ringworm (a skin condition, no worms involved). We aren't sure about that, but we keep her around for the variety.

Friday, October 10, 2008

It's a Boy

He was born on Wednesday to Arial. Arial is named after the font, not the Mermaid. He is marked almost like his mother, mostly black with white feet.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

She Can

Can you touch your nose with your tongue?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Pumpkins and Leaves

Here is our pumpkin crop for the season. Not bad for a pumpkin patch that was basically ignored all summer. The gourds we planted never came up. My mom took half of them for decoration around their house and I scattered the rest around our yard.
Feeling a little creative, I "enhanced" this photo I took over the weekend in Photoshop. I work in Photoshop and other graphics programs all day for my day job, but it is nice to use them for fun once in a while. I need to play more.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Three More

When we got home from our day trip to the World Dairy Expo Friday afternoon, we had three new mothers with calves waiting for us. This is a bull from our top cow Winfred.
This is another bull calf, from Roberts. Roberts is from a group of nine cows we named after the US Supreme Court justices.
A heifer calf from Betty. If she is anything like her mother, she will be a very sassy bovine.
Saturday it was back to work on our corn silage. We finished the last silage bag today, and Monday we plan on filling the silo.