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?