Friday, December 30, 2011

Leaving a Legacy a Century Later

My husband, Byron, is the guest author for today's blog post.  He's been looking forward to writing this one for awhile.

Recently I came across a marriage license from 1878 that I had made a copy of at the courthouse.  The groom was 27, his bride just 18.  On December 30, 1911, the man, a farmer, bought a 54-acre piece of land a couple of miles from his farm for $250.  Less than two years later, the man sold the land to one of his sons – his sixth of nine children – for the same price.  The son was married the following year and the young couple cleared the land without the benefit of a tractor, establishing a farm on which they raised a diverse variety of crops and animals.  They reared two daughters and a foster son on the farm and would see three grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren born in their 70 years of marriage.  They loved their family and their farm; their family very much adored the hard-working couple and the home and land that epitomized the idyllic American homestead.

I’m proud to be the tenth of Grandma and Granddaddy Green’s great-grandchildren and equally honored to have had the opportunity to buy back a piece of my family’s heritage.  In the 20 months since Laura, Akea, Charlie, and I were fortunate enough to buy back into the family the heart of Grandma and Granddaddy Green’s farm, I have fallen more in love with this wonderful place every day.  It’s an incredible feeling to have the opportunity to live here and farm on land that was so special to Grandma and Granddaddy Green.  When you add our acreage to what my Dad and Aunt Dottie have kept in the family all of these years and are kind enough to allow us to use, nearly 32 acres of the original farm are presently family-owned.  While the house and acreage we purchased spent over 18 years out of the family, 26 acres of the original 54 have been in our family for exactly 100 years today!  To me, this is incredible!  I wonder how many families nowadays have had land in their family for a century?  We are so blessed to live here and to have the chance to be stewards of this wonderful place we call Green Legacy Farm.*

Byron with Grandma and Granddaddy Green during his very first visit to the farm. Could Grandma and Granddaddy Green have thought at the time that their great-grandson would one day live at the farm? This very special photo has a place of honor on our mantle.

*A while ago, we decided that Green Legacy Farm would be a more apropos name than Green Acres, though for the interim, Green Acres will remain the name of the blog.  We like the dual meaning in the new name, in that Byron's great-grandparents were the Greens, and that we are making every attempt to live as "green" as possible in our endeavors here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hoop House III and Merry Christmas

At long last, my final update on our hoop house!  We've actually had it done for a couple weeks, but have been tweaking things as we put the Rhode Island Reds, and now the cows, in for the winter.  If you haven't checked out the earlier posts, click here for Hoop House I and click here for Hoop House II.

We used translucent plastic panels for the front.  The door opens into the garden, so on nice days, we let the chickens out.  Inside, we add carbon (shredded leaves, wood chips) to the bedding and expect we'll have some nice compost by spring.  The interior temperature has reached up to 70 degrees some days!  Warmth + sunlight = lots of eggs.

Here is the cows' side, nearly done.  Excuse the netting; it was a temporary safety before we got the fencing up.

Chickens' side, interior.  We removed the roost bars from one side of their portable house and installed them here.

Settling in nicely!

Rhode Island Red rooster.  Did I mention he attacked me a couple times???  Fortunately, he's settled down a bit and we have a mutual agreement to leave each other alone.  As long as he doesn't breech his end of the deal, all will be well (for him).

We moved the steers to their side of the hoop house a couple days ago.  Byron created a little run for them from the field.

Cows' side, interior.  You can see how the hoop house is divided by fencing, and the chickens checking out their new neighbors.  They seem happy, but the cattle were lowing quite a bit yesterday.  They like change about as much as I do.

Hard to resist patting their woolly winter coats!

Finally, my attempt to winterize the garden.  I've so far managed to get compost on one row of six.

I then covered the row with leaves and paper from feed bags.  This is kind of our own invention, and it needs to be tweaked since bags + wind = lots of running around.
That should just about update you on what we've been doing!  Byron has been working like mad on the fence, and I'm gearing up to start on those upholstery projects.  I will be back sometime after Christmas to update you on our progress!

Thank you so much for sticking with me this year.  Looking back, we've experienced several trials, such as continuing to await the sale of our other home and discovering additional problems with this home.  But these were accompanied by several triumphs.  We finally sold our other home in April, and were successful in raising fifty meat birds and twenty laying hens, with minimal losses.  We also have two very healthy steers that we daily moved to fresh pasture during the warmer months, and have beautiful floors in two rooms and the front hallway of our home.  We have much to be thankful for.

God bless you all.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Deck the Halls

I got a little carried away this morning as I was collecting cedar, holly, and pine to use at our homeschool group's Colonial Christmas party tomorrow (somehow I got volunteered to decorate).  Having just visited an historical Colonial home with my family this weekend, I was feeling inspired to try out some of the ridiculously simple and beautiful ideas in my home.  Here are the main players, all found on our property:
Holly.  Isn't it gorgeous?


I'm no Martha Stewart, but for better or for worse, here's what I came up with:

Holly and cedar, tied together with ribbon from my neighbor (thanks, Julie!).  I made two, for either side of the fence as you enter the driveway.

Ribbon with cedar on either side of the door.

Bits of holly here and there.

A mason jar with holly and cedar, and a glass bowl with pine and pine cones.  I think mason jars make the coolest vases!

A bit of cedar and boxwood on the mantle.  I kept this low profile since we have a woodstove.  I'm also not sold on the vase, and am waiting for Byron to come home and offer his opinion (unlike many guys, he likes to have input in this department).
And here's another version.  Opinions, anyone?
Saturday update: added some ribbon.

Another update: decking out the wonderful milk can Aunt Dottie and Uncle Hank gave us.  This was actually used by Byron's great-grandfather. (Please excuse the painter's tape!  Renovations are still underway.)

This was my absolute favorite until I decked out the milk can: holly, boxwood, and ribbon.  I want to make 50 of them today so I can give one to everyone I know, but I have some other things I need to do.   
I will warn you that holly berries are toxic.  So if you have young kids, either put the fear of God in them regarding poisonous plants, have the number to Poison Control written on your palm at all times, or skip decking the halls with boughs of holly.  Personally, I prefer option one.

Do you have access to holly, cedar, and pine?  If not, find a friend who does!  It's free, sustainable, and makes storing at least some of your holiday decor a non-issue!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Winter Projects

Ah, winter.  A time to sit in front of the woodstove with a cup of cocoa and a good book.  Or if you're me, you should probably leave the cocoa in the kitchen because you might spill it all over the furniture you're re-upholstering.  And the book?  You haven't finished it yet, though you've renewed it from the library twenty times. 

Welcome to my winter project.

I will be attempting to re-upholster three pieces of furniture, starting the moment I coax my seam ripper out of hiding.  First up: Two wing-back chairs that were time-machined from 1965 straight to our parlor.  No.  Really, Byron made a low offer on them at an antique store, and after the clerk complained in her cigarette-stained voice, she finally called the owner.  And the owner accepted his offer. 

Lots of potential, right?

And they have cool legs!
I will attempt the chairs first since I don't think they bite and they're less intimidating than this:

I know - it looks and smells like something from Grandma's house.  But keep reading!
I picked up this bad boy at a consignment furniture store. I also made a low offer, and the clerk was very quick to accept it. He probably figured it might be a good idea to get my kids out of the store before they broke something. On very rare occasions, shopping with children can work to one's advantage.

Let me state for the record that I am a poser seamstress. I have the ability to visualize in three dimensions, which comes in handy when you find that termites have chowed down on your home, or when you find yourself appalled at the trampwear for young girls and start planning to sew long skirts for your daughter until she is twenty-five. But for the duration of this project, the Singer upholstery book my friend, Maria, (who is a real seamstress, not a poser seamstress) let me borrow will be my security blanket.

Another reason I'm taking this on is because it's recycling, in a sense.  These pieces may have ended up in a landfill.  Okay, they still might when I'm gone and my kids decide Mom was nuts for choosing this fabric.  But let's hope nostalgia takes over and they get passed on to an unfortunate great-grandchild who needs to fill that college apartment with something

Secondly, I had a hard time finding exactly what I want, and anything remotely appealing cost way too much.

Fabric for the sofa.
Fabric for the chairs.  Check out how I was inspired for these color choices here.
And for better or for worse, I will post photos when I'm done.  Do you have any winter projects planned?

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Motley Crew

About a year ago, we "rescued" five Barred Rock chickens from becoming stewing hens at our friend Jeff's farm.  Since then, they've survived several mishaps and have generously given us eggs.  Though they've slowed down recently in egg production, we've decided to keep them around and have also added to their flock a Partridge Rock rooster.

The quintessential barnyard rooster...

...who poses for the camera by fluffing his feathers...

...and crowing.  Repeatedly.
Then we got three guinea fowl a couple months ago.  At first, we kept them separate from the rest of the chickens, but they refused to "stay put" and ended up mingling with the Barred Rocks and their man.  You can read about their antics here.

It was almost impossible to get a photo of the whole flock because every time I squatted down to take a picture, they came dashing toward me, hoping for goodies!  Anyway, the three guineas are right behind the Barred Rock in the front.
I mentioned in an earlier post that the guineas had taken to roosting on the chimney.  They actually moved to a nearby tree shortly after I wrote that, until one night a couple weeks ago.  I was awakened in the wee morning hours by some seriously loud guinea squawking, and thought I detected some whimpering.  Dashing out of bed (okay, I didn't dash, but it sounds more heroic), I went outside and found two of them under a bush.  The third, I was convinced, had become an owl's midnight snack.

We were saddened at the fate of the guinea, but then lo and behold - all three were waiting for us when we woke up later in the morning!  And you know what?  They have ditched the tree and have been safely roosting with the Barred Rocks ever since!

So there you have it - our motley crew of poultry.  We may soon be mixing them again with the 20 Rhode Island Reds so they can all spend the winter in the hoop house (updates coming soon - we're almost done).  Any fiascoes that will ensue remain to be seen.

Click the icon to check out Homestead Revival's Barn Hop!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Feed Your Kids Plymouth Rocks

Last week Byron asked Akea if she would like to go on a Civil War battlefield tour with him.  She responded with a sigh and said, "You know, Daddy, I'm really into Colonial history, not Civil War history, right now."  I know, I know.  Nerds 'r' us.

Apparently, he ended up telling one of his high school history classes about this incident, because one of his students, Marie, found a recipe for Plymouth Rock cookies in a magazine, cut out the page, and brought it in for him to give to Akea.  She'd remembered that Akea likes Colonial history, and wrote a note that she just had to get the recipe for Akea.  So I purposed to make this today with the kids...

Akea is mixing.  I have no idea what Charlie is doing.

It's always a sacrifice to let the kids lick the beaters.

I had some help making these rocks "Plymouth."

Pre-oven Plymouth Rocks.

Plymouth Rocks, baked and glazed.
Plymouth Rock Cookies
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract*
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbsp milk
black and green food coloring**

1.Heat oven to 375.  With a mixer, blend butter, sugar, and extracts for about a minute.  Add the flour, salt, and milk and mix together with a wooden spoon until dough forms.
2. Form dough into 8-10 Plymouth Rock shapes, about 1/2" thick.  Press a small rectangular lid (such as from a spice container) into the dough to create a frame, and with a toothpick to carve the date 1620.
3. Bake on a greased cookie sheet for 15-20 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through until the cookies begin to brown.  Remove them and let them cool completely.
4. For a gray glaze, combine the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 tbsp milk, a drop of green food coloring, and a drop of black food coloring.  Adjust color and add milk if necessary to make the milk brushable.   Apply with a pastry brush and allow to harden for about an hour.

*I didn't have any almond extract, so I just doubled the vanilla.
**I didn't have black food coloring, so I used a drop of red with the green to make gray.

And that's not all!  We also made:

Brine for the turkey, a la Pioneer Woman.  Click here for the recipe.

Apple pie.  I know, I know.  I claim to be artsy, but there are two (okay, maybe more) things I can't do well: draw symmetrical stars and make fancy, fluted pie crusts.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hoop House II!

About a week or so ago, I wrote about the multi-purpose hoop house we're building to house our animals this winter and serve as a greenhouse/brooder in the spring.  Click here for Part I, and click here for the design we're following (remember, there is a link to an improved design at the bottom of that post).  Byron made progress this week, and this weekend I left the house to clean itself and went out to help him.  Here's how it looks so far:

We placed a beam the entire length of the greenhouse for added support, and because you never know when the southern skies will dump 24" of snow on you again.

Byron zip-tied fencing to the PVC on the cows' side in case they decide to get destructive.

Hopefully it will work!

This weekend we put up the structure for the front wall on the chickens' side.  The cows' side will remain open for access to a yard.

We grommetted (is that a word??) one end of the poly.

The super-strong 11 mil poly, which we ordered from here, is draped over the PVC.

We secured it with wooden lathe, screws, and muscle.  The instructions warn to pull this stuff tight and to install it on a warmer day since it will sag a bit in the cold.  Screws are nice because you can adjust wrinkles easily.  What isn't nice is a totally numb thumb after half an hour of pulling.

Cows' side.

Here's what the grommets were all about.  We zip-tied the poly a few inches back in hopes that the little varmints won't chew on it.

Chickens' side, facing the garden.  We are going to add a door and clear roofing panels to this wall to maximize sunlight.  Because more sunlight = more eggs.  At least in theory.
We hope to finish this by next week, or at least before the next cold front hits.  And if you don't hear back from me until then, Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm linking up with a couple blog hops.  Click below to visit: