Tag Archives: fun

Dish Flowers

Winter time can get very dreary when looking out the windows.  No beautiful color from the flowers anywhere to be seen.  I’ll admit the snow is beautiful before the animals track through it or the vehicles drive through it but it’s not like looking at beautiful blooms in our yard.

I FOUND A REMEDY!!

Take a look at these beautiful glass flowers I created from old dishes!

Three bowls glued together with E6000 and allowed to dry. On the back of the set I glued an old medicine bottle and the opening of the bottle sits on a 3-4 foot piece of rebar in my flower gardens.

I took four different sizes of clear dishes and glued them together. It’s a beautiful flower that sparkles all kinds of colors when the sun hits it.

E6000 is the glue I used but there are other options to try when you check out my Pinterest site (https://www.pinterest.com/NanaCountryFarm/glass-flowers/).

Some will be heavier than others but the rebar placed well in the soil will make it stand up and shine!

Check out my Pinterest site https://www.pinterest.com/NanaCountryFarm/glass-flowers/ for more ideas and more links with detailed instructions.

This gives you an idea of how the glass flower will look on the rebar standing in your flower garden.

Imagine the sun hitting the pinks and reds on this glass flower.

Now get busy putting those old dishes to good use and think SPRING!!!

Did I Say Canning Season Was Over. . . NOT!

Nope, canning season is not over and believe it or not I’m glad. I’ve been canning half-gallons of apple juice all morning!

Twenty half-gallons of fresh apple juice canned and sealed.

Twenty half-gallons of fresh apple juice canned and sealed.  There’s only 15 jars showing here because the last batch is just about ready to come off the stove.

Our orchards did not bare much for us this year due to the frigid spring and heavy frost when the trees were budding and flowering. I love a glass of juice when I first get up in the mornings and apple juice is one of my favorites right up there with grape juice.  We decided we would have to purchase some apples to make me some juice.

Eddie and I ventured over to Botetourt County last week and picked up six 70-lb. sacks of their cider apples.  The day we arrived to pick them up they were sorting Red Delicious and they were beautiful  Out of 420 pounds of apples we may have found a dozen with rotten spots.

Six bags of red delicious apples

Six bags of red delicious apples

Beautiful Red Delicous apples for eating, juicing, cooking and baking.

Beautiful Red Delicious apples for eating, juicing, cooking and baking.

On Tuesday, our daughter was off from work and came up to press apples with us.  We cleaned up the cider press, washed the apples, and started pressing all of the wonderful juice out of the apples.

Cider press is cleaned and ready to make some juice.

Cider press is cleaned and ready to make some juice.

Pouring in the first bucket full

Pouring in the first bucket full

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Cider Mill

American Cider Mill

Sassy watches close by and freezing since she got a haircut and cold air gets in her old bones pretty quick but she won't miss a family outing.

Sassy watches close by and freezing since she got a haircut and cold air gets in her old bones pretty quick but she won’t miss a family outing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We finished the seventy pounds with two 12 gallon milk cans full of juice and a bowl full of apples left over to eat and make some apple bars.

We use all of our milkcans here on the farm for cider in the fall, watering our plants as we put them in the garden and for maple syrup in the spring

We use all of our milkcans here on the farm for cider in the fall, watering our plants as we put them in the garden and for maple syrup in the spring.

Heather presses.

Heather presses.

Mom presses.

Mom presses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family fun

Family fun

We stored the cans in our garage until this morning so it would stay ice-cold and so the settlements squished into the juice would settle to the bottom of the can.

I washed up all of the half gallons jars and sterilized them for the juice.  Eddie went to the garage and  poured the juice gently into large stainless steel pots and brought them to the kitchen.  I heated the juice just to boiling and poured it into the hot jars. placed the lids on and tighten them for canning.  The jars were too tall to fit any of my canners so we used our turkey cooker for the job and it held five half-gallon jars.

Turkey deep fryer hasn't been used a lot but it sure came in handy for this job. I rarely use half-gallon jars for any canning.

Turkey deep fryer hasn’t been used a lot but it sure came in handy for this job. I rarely use half-gallon jars for any canning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After placing the filled jars in the “canner”, I filled it with hot water almost covering the jars, turned the heat up to high and waited for it to start boiling.  Once the boiling started, I timed the process for 25 minutes and when completed I turned off the stove and let the boiling stop.  I then picked up the jars and placed them on a heavy towel on my kitchen table (away from drafts) so they could seal. We have twenty half-gallons which should last through most of the winter.

The difference in the quart and half-gallon jar is shown here.

Half-gallon jar compared to a quart jar.

Half-gallon jar compared to a quart jar.

 

I love these tongs because they're so strong and easy to handle when removing full, hot jars.

I love these tongs because they’re so strong and easy to handle when removing full, hot jars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We saved the sacks the apples were in to use next year when picking our own apples if Mother Nature cooperates, bagging onions, drying walnuts or anything else we may need them for.

These green mesh sacks held 65 - 70 pounds of apples and we save them for other uses. Recycle is a big word at our place!

These green mesh sacks held 65 – 70 pounds of apples and we save them for other uses. Recycle is a big word at our place!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The apple peelings filled up one big galvanized bath tub and four five gallon buckets.  We feed them to each of the three herds of cattle and our bulls.  The extra milkcan of juice will harden to cider which we also love.  If there’s any that gets too hard, I’ll let it turn to vinegar and store it in jugs in the cellar.

Leftovers after the juice is pressed out. They're unbelievably dry at this point. I'm sure the squirrels will be raiding the barn until it's all gone. I'll also put some out for the wild rabbits that hang around the house.

Leftovers after the juice is pressed out. They’re unbelievably dry at this point. I’m sure the squirrels will be raiding the barn until it’s all gone. I’ll also put some out for the wild rabbits that hang around the house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just put some apple bars in the oven and I’ll share the recipe if it turns out well since it’s a new one for me!

There’s rarely anything that goes to waste on our farm.  This does NOT end the canning season either!!!!  I killed a really nice 7-point buck yesterday and the hams will be cubed and canned early in the next week.

Our chestnut season is over though and we sold 35+ pounds of those this week and saved about 10 pounds for ourselves to snack on.

The chestnuts were few this year but the ones we picked up were huge and so sweet.

The chestnuts were few this year but the ones we picked up were huge and so sweet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until next time. . . .

A View of the Barn

Big House Barn (18)This is one of the bigger barns on the farm and I love walking through old barns and listening to the history by just looking at the interior. Here’s a view for you to see and listen for the history of all the work and animals that used it. We know sheep, beef cattle and dairy cattle used this barn.

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This is a cider press that has been converted to electric power and we use it every year if we have a good supply of apples to make apple cider.

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There’s been lots of our friends and neighbors pouring apples in the top and amazed at the juice that came out the bottom.  This is usually an all day event and so much fun!

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It’s a huge barn and we store equipment in it, store square bales of hay in it and use it for cows having trouble and we can use one of any number of stalls in it for allowing a vet to access the cow quickly and safely.  We also use it for the orphans born on the farm.

Sugar Time at Caldwell Farms

You know spring is really on it’s way when the Caldwell family fires up the sugar house and loads the maple trees with sap buckets.  Eddie and I tapped our maple trees last week with the awesome help of our son, Shawn.  It was a spur of a moment decision because of the unpredictable weather situation.  We tapped fourteen trees with 1-5 buckets depending on the size and condition of the tree.

Sugar maple tree with tap

Sugar maple tree with tap

This is one of the sugar maples in our front yard that provides us with plenty of maple sap in the spring and glorious shade in the hot summers.

This is one of the sugar maples in our front yard that provides us with plenty of maple sap in the spring and glorious shade in the hot summers.  This tree held five buckets this spring.

We gather the sap every two hours so by the time we had all of the taps drilled, plugged and a bucket hung on them it was time for Shawn to start making the rounds to each of the trees.  The sap was running like a heavily dripping faucet and soon the buckets were running over.  We had a total of 52 buckets hung and we hauled it in milk cans from the trees back to the 210 gallon storage tank.  The tank was filled well past the holding mark giving us about 225 total gallons of sap in 2 1/2 days.  On Tuesday afternoon we pulled the taps and buckets, cleaned them and put them away for another year.

These are some of the tools we use to start the process of making maple syrup.

These are some of the tools we use to start the process of making maple syrup.

Stock water tank holds 210 gallon at the top ridge of the tank.

Stock water tank holds 210 gallon at the top ridge of the tank.

At this point we stored the tank full of sap in our garage where it would stay below 40* until we were ready to make the syrup and would be okay for 10-12 days as long as it stayed cold.  We now waited for weather that was cool, dry and not too windy to fire up the sugar house.

On Friday, Eddie hauled in the firewood to use for the fire.  It had to be dry and a sturdy wood that would stay really hot.  We had a stockpile of old locust post that came from replaced fencing on the farm so he brought in two loads and placed them on top of three other posts laid out on the ground to keep the wood dry in the event it rained again before we started the fire.

Friday night we made the decision to make the syrup while we had at least one good day.  I emailed the kids and we set the syrup vat on the fire pit. The syrup vat is a stainless steel vat with four sections.

Cooking tank has four sections. The first two on the right have a opening so that the sap runs from one side to the other. The next section is the first thickening section and the narrow section on the far left is the last section before straining off. The pain has grown dark over the last few years and each year our syrup gets a little darker and sweeter.

Cooking tank has four sections. The first two on the right have a opening so that the sap runs from one side to the other. The next section is the first thickening section and the narrow section on the far left is the last section before straining off. The pain has grown dark over the last few years and each year our syrup gets a little darker and sweeter.

We put the vat on the firepit around 9:00 p.m. Friday night and we thought we had everything ready. The sawed up fence posts were in the pit along with kindling and we don’t put the sap in until right before lighting the fire.  (Don’t want no varmints sucking up the water or worse walking through it.  The lights for working in the dark first thing in the morning were set up and ready.  The hose was hooked up to the tank, buckets in place, and all we had to do was try to get a good nights sleep because it was going to be a long day.

The next morning Eddie got up at 5:00 a.m. and got the vat filled with sap, started the fire and when I got out of bed at 6:00 I could see the steam coming out from under the sugarhouse roof.  It had been cooking good for about half an hour and Eddie was going to add more sap and the waterhose from the storage tank to the vat was froze.  We were really doing some hustling trying to unthaw it.  First he tried a small propane torch but that didn’t work and would have melted the hose.  Then we tried running hot water from the house to the hose and that didn’t work.  Finally we ran straight hot water into the hose, whipped it against the ground to beat up the slush and ice in the hose and finally after thirty minutes and almost scorching the syrup in the pans it broke free.  At this point we filled the vat sections quickly again but this time we kept the hose off the ground by placing it on several milkcans from the garage to the sugar house.

The sugar house sits down over the hill from the garage about 50 feet and it was warmer down there than it was up the hill at the garage.

The sugar house sits down over the hill from the garage about 50 feet and it was warmer down there than it was up the hill at the garage.

After this things went pretty quickly and I left him to go to Covington at 9:00 to visit my younger brother.  This was a short trip because he wouldn’t get out of bed and didn’t want to talk.  I got back home a lot sooner than I expected and our daughter, Heather, had joined her Dad around 10:30 and things were going pretty good.  Only about 75 gallons of sap had gone through the vats during my absense but I had about two gallons of syrup to strain and process.  It was beautiful and so sweet.  You have to remember though that when we collect that sap from the trees it looks and tastes like clear water.

First pot off the firepit and it's ready to strain once more, heat to boiling and put in the sterilized jars to seal.

First pot off the firepit and it’s ready to strain once more, heat to boiling and put in the sterilized jars to seal.

Cheesecloth for straining the syrup. I use about four layers of cloth when I strain the syrup and it's strained twice once it's cooked. We also use a bucket with a straining net to pour it in the storage tank.

Cheesecloth for straining the syrup. I use about four layers of cloth when I strain the syrup and it’s strained twice once it’s cooked. We also use a bucket with a straining net to strain from the tapping buckets and pour it in the storage tank.

Regular and wide mouth jar lids

Regular and wide mouth jar lids

Sterlized pint jars

Sterlized pint jars

We had a very successful day ending up with 53 pint jars and 6 quarts.  We’ll sell the pints for $8 and the quarts for $12.

Pints and quarts of heavenly fresh maple syrup.

Pints and quarts of heavenly fresh maple syrup.

Caldwell Farm labels include the date made and the ingredients.  We do not add any preservatives or other sugars.

Caldwell Farm labels include the date made and the ingredients. We do not add any preservatives or other sugars.

Here’s some of the pictures shared throughout the day.

Frosty morning started at 29* at 6:00 a.m.

Frosty morning started at 29* at 6:00 a.m.

At times the steam in the cool air made it impossible to see what was going on in the vat.

At times the steam in the cool air made it impossible to see what was going on in the vat.

Boiling maple sap to scrumptious maple syrup.

Boiling maple sap to scrumptious maple syrup.

Our daughter Heather after a steamy day of fun!

Our daughter Heather after a steamy day of fun!

Mr. Caldwell considers himself the "sugar monster" at the end of the day.

Mr. Caldwell considers himself the “sugar monster” at the end of the day.

Jared and Crystal joined in the afternoon. This was Crystals first trip to the farm and she also got to feed the baby calf, Miracle.

Jared and Crystal joined in the afternoon. This was Crystals first trip to the farm and she also got to feed the baby calf, Miracle.

Jared hanging out in the sugar house.

Jared hanging out in the sugar house.

End result!

End result!

Sassy guarding the woodpile from mice and voles.

Sassy guarding the woodpile from mice and voles.

Undescribable smell in the air!

Undescribable smell in the air!

Vats are full and boiling.

Vats are full and boiling.

Boiling sap almost maple syrup.

Boiling sap almost maple syrup.

He's stays busy during the entire process.

He’s stays busy during the entire process.

Sugar Monster fueling the fire.

Sugar Monster fueling the fire.

Crystal and Jared enjoying the day.

Crystal and Jared enjoying the day.

Jared and Eddie catching up on everything and planning their spring gobbler season.

Jared and Eddie catching up on everything and planning their spring gobbler season.

Red hot coals from old locust posts keep things hot and sap boiling from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm.

Red hot coals from old locust posts keep things hot and sap boiling from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm.

The steam makes the whole area smell like maple syrup.

The steam makes the whole area smell like maple syrup.

Firepit in sugar house

Firepit in sugar house

Our granddaughter, Victoria, and her new beau joined at the end of the evening just in time for french toast and sausages.  Fun and hard work was had by all!

 

1st Annual Girl Trip

This post is a little late but so worth writing!!  My daughter and I took our first annual girls trip this year and  I so hope we continue to do from now on.  We met up with our best friends forever in Norfolk, Virginia, where our Ashley lives and my best friend forever, Margaret met us at Ashley’s home for a long weekend in October.  We had a blast!!

 The Girls (top left to bottom) Me, Margaret, Ashley and Heather.  Ashley is holding Molly!

The Girls (top  to bottom)

Me, Margaret, Ashley and Heather. Ashley is holding Molly!

We lazed around in Ashley’s beautiful home in a historic district, we shopped, we toured some historic areas of Norfolk, we ate (no gorged) on wonderful food and laughed until we cried!

Ashley is a childhood friend of my daughter’s that just re-connected this summer and Margaret is my best friend in the whole wide world.  We’ve been through a lot together and she’s always there for me.

Here are a few of the pictures we took while on our 1st Annual Girls Trip.

I think this is the USS Wisconsin docked in Norfolk for repairs.

I think this is the USS Wisconsin docked in Norfolk for repairs.

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Downtown Norfolk somewhere!!  :)

Downtown Norfolk somewhere!! 🙂

Ashley's living room where we gathered in the mornings and crashed in the evenings!

Ashley’s living room where we gathered in the mornings and crashed in the evenings!

Her kitchen where we spent more time eating and laughing!  It's beautiful!

Her kitchen where we spent more time eating and laughing! It’s beautiful!

It's the perfect space for her two dogs Molly and Evan, precious Corgi's.

It’s the perfect space for her two dogs Molly and Evan, precious Corgi’s.

Ashley's backyard where we spent our evenings.  Surprised the neighbors didn't have us locked up for laughing so much!

Ashley’s backyard where we spent our evenings. Surprised the neighbors didn’t have us locked up for laughing so much!

We visited the Virginia Living Museum while there and it’s home to more than 250 species of animals found in Virginia including reptiles, mammals, birds and fish. They provide a sanctuary for orphaned, non-releasable or injured animals.

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Heather enjoying the sights at the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News.

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Ashley checking out another exhibit.  It’s a wonderful excursion and we saw so many animals and their habitats.

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I can’t remember exactly what this part was but it was gorgeous stone work.

We talked and laughed so much that I forgot to take a lot of pictures but believe me it was a wonderful trip!

We all cried when we parted but promised to make it a regular visit and our hostess was the “mostess”!!  She introduced us to a lovely new friend Sally Haynes who joined us along with Ashley at the farm for Thanksgiving.

It was such a wonderful trip for me and my daughter to spend special time together and to be with such special friends.  I’m really looking forward to next years 2nd Annual Girl Trip!!!

Visitors from across the world

In the spring I met a very precious new friend that works down the hall from my office and she’s from China and working on her PhD at Virginia Tech.  She misses her family in China (husband, father and mother) very much and has her daughter with her.  I love learning about her country and lifestyle and she mine.  I recently invited Janet, her daughter and some of her close friends over to the farm.  It was such a treat to share our life with them and be able to actually show her things we do on the farm.  The following is a picture album of our day.

We showed them how we  bring in and process our own firewood.

We showed them how we bring in and process our own firewood.

The little girls got to sit in a big tractor.

The little girls got to sit in a big tractor.

They met all the animals on the farm including the coon dogs and found out why we have them as working dogs.

They met all the animals on the farm including the coon dogs and found out why we have them as working dogs.

Gathering eggs was such a treat and something we take for granted.

Gathering eggs was such a treat and something we take for granted.

The young ones got to feed Prissy & George.

The young ones got to feed Prissy & George.

We took them for a pickup truck ride on different parts of the farm.

We took them for a pickup truck ride on different parts of the farm.

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They took pictures of themselves to commemorate the day while I gave the little girls cooking lessons in an American farm kitchen.

They took pictures of themselves to commemorate the day while I gave the little girls cooking lessons in an American farm kitchen.

They took numerous rides in the paddle boat.

They took numerous rides in the paddle boat.

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Janet and her daughter plan to come back with their friends to a weekend campout at the pond one more time before they all return to China in late July and August.

I am so blessed to have friends all over the world.  I’m hoping they enjoyed the trip as much as we did.

They also brought us a charm of peace which I will keep at my home’s entrance as long as it lasts.  Peace charm

Thank you all so much for your charm, lessons of life and friendship!!  I’ll never forget you!

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Rita and Janet, forever friends

Rita and Janet, forever friends

Teaching the girls how to make a daisy  chain for their hair.  Janet's daughter, Michelle and her friend, Boffy, they're such wonderful kids and very adventurous!!

Teaching the girls how to make a daisy chain for their hair. Janet’s daughter, Michelle and her friend, Boffy, they’re such wonderful kids and very adventurous!!

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Janet

Janet

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Sassy enjoyed our new friends too and the little girls couldn’t get enough of her.

The Pedalboat

We have a beautiful pond in front of the yard and it’s full of fish.  It’s deepest part is about eight feet, I think.  On good days when there’s not pollen and it not cloudy you can see the fish swimming around.  We have perch, bass and blue gill in the pond.  We also have some massive carp to keep the pond clean.

Picnic table and boat house full of fishing gear.

Picnic table and boat house full of fishing gear.

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I love the gazebo but my favorite part of the pond is riding around in our pedalboat.  Hubby bought it for me for Mother’s Day a few years ago.  Last year we didn’t bring it out of storage but this year we did and I had high hopes of spending a good deal of time in it reading and relaxing.

All cleaned up and ready to float.

All cleaned up and ready to float.

It seats four comfortably and can seat three up front and two in the back.  There's cup holders built in and a cubby hole in the back for books, towels, food, drinks.

It seats four comfortably and can seat three up front and two in the back. There’s cup holders built in and a cubby hole in the back for books, towels, food, drinks.

Well, I haven’t been it but once since we brought it out of storage and that was to empty the rain water out of it so it wouldn’t sink.  It’s been horrible boating weather even on a small pond.  It has a lovely canopy that goes over the top to shade you from the rays of the sun.

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With tomorrow being the first day of August I’m hopeful that the sun will be seen more and we can play on the pond as we have in the past.

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Quiet weekend

This time last Saturday we were all preparing for a 40th birthday for my baby boy!    First there was the outside preparation of mowing, setting up games, cleaning up the paddle boat, most of which my hubby and my daughter did while I was at work.

Balloons in place

Balloons in place

Seating for everyone.

Seating for everyone.

Yard is mowed and gazebo ready for party.

Yard is mowed and gazebo ready for party.

BIG 4 0!!!

BIG 4 0!!!

 

Saturday arrives and we’re doing last minute things at the farm.  Heather goes to Roanoke to pick up the birthday cake and pick up the hotdog and hamburger buns I forgot the day before.  The cake is designed to show the past and the present.  Shawn had so many superheroes when he was growing up and it was appropriate that the new Superman movie opened this year the week of his birthday.  He just graduated with a Masters in Civil Engineering from Old Dominion University in Norfolk Virginia.  He’s had his associate’s degree for quite some time and finally decided it was time to work on the other.  We are all so very proud of him!!

Spiderman throwing his web over Old Dominion University.  Spidey was Shawn superhero when growing up and he just graduated from ODU with a Masters in Civil Engineering.

Spiderman throwing his web over Old Dominion University. Spidey was Shawn superhero when growing up and he just graduated from ODU with a Masters in Civil Engineering.

 

The CAKE!

The CAKE!

 

Birthday banner.

Birthday banner.

 

Plenty of cold drinks on hand.

Plenty of cold drinks on hand.

Now, all of the guests have arrived and here’s some pictures of the birthday party, guests, games and more!

Plenty of cold drinks on hand.

Plenty of cold drinks on hand.

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Shawns 40th blowout

Volley ball was a big hit as was badminton.

Volley ball was a big hit as was badminton.

Victoiria and Jason enjoyed themselves.

Victoiria and Jason enjoyed themselves.

Keith & KIm, Matt, Tim and Jason, all friends of Shawns and work mates.

Keith & KIm, Matt, Tim and Jason, all friends of Shawns and work mates.

Shawn and Christine join Shannon and Lisa for the meal.

Shawn and Christine join Shannon and Lisa for the meal.

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Shannon and Lisa meet Christine for the first time, I think!

Shannon and Lisa meet Christine for the first time, I think!

Shawn & Christine wait for the guests and point to the parking.

Shawn & Christine wait for the guests and point to the parking.

Dad and Mom enjoy the festivities too!  Our little boy is all grown up!

Dad and Mom enjoy the festivities too! Our little boy is all grown up!

Dean, my baby brother that lives with us, even joined the festivities.  He doesn't like crowds.

Dean, my baby brother that lives with us, even joined the festivities. He doesn’t like crowds.

Vicotoria was my photographer.

Vicotoria was my photographer.

Hubby was the chef!!

Hubby was the chef!!

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And a few more pictures of the evening.

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This is a family friend that joined us.  Jimmy watched Shawn grow up right along with us!DSCN3893

 

Waiting for his guests to arrive!!

Kevin & Tim

Keith, Christine, Kevin & Tim

Off to see Annabelle

Off to see Annabelle

Kevin Shannon and Shawn

Jason, Shannon and Shawn

Now it’s time for the wonderful slide show that Christine prepared.  She used 155 photos I sent her along with some of her own and made a history of Shawn’s life from birth to the present.  I got so emotional watching him grow up all over again.  Shawn and I both cried at the end and ended up in hugging each other so tight and crying like babies.  Christine did a wonderful job and Tim set up the movie screen for us.  I’ll never forget the show for the rest of my life and am tearing up now just talking about it.  It’s just so hard to believe he’s 40 years old.   On with the cake!!

The CAKE!

The CAKE!

Waiting for the cake

Waiting for the cake

The cake is lit!

The cake is lit!

 

Does he have enough to blow out 40 candles???

Does he have enough to blow out 40 candles???

Keith, Kim, Matt, Tim & Ellen eating birthday cake!

Keith, Kim, Matt, Tim & Ellen eating birthday cake!

And now the end of the party grows near and Shawn HAS TO HAVE fireworks!!

 

 

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Fireworks last about 30 minutes.

Fireworks last about 30 minutes.

The sky was lit up!!

The sky was lit up!!

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The fireworks at the end of the night were awesome!!

The fireworks at the end of the night were awesome!!

 

And we couldn’t possibly end the evening without Victoria lighting up the group with sparklers!!

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Victoria with some heavy duty sparklers.

Victoria with some heavy duty sparklers.

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At 10:30 everyone started helping clean up the aftermath, hugging and promising to come back to the farm real soon and going home!!  I think it’s a party/birthday that Shawn will never forget!!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY BABY BOY!!!  Mama loves you!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Front porch fun

In the heat of the summer day, we spend time on the front porch.  We welcome neighbors and friends and sit around and talk.  I’ve tried to make the porch an enjoyable place to visit with young and old alike.  This year I added a antiques bench on one end of the porch and a game board on the other end with plenty of seating in between.

First I want to show one of my new chairs that I added to the decor and fun!

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                       An old blue stool and a tractor seat =  this:

IMG_0007  IMG_0006  IMG_0005 Believe it or not this is a very comfortable seat.  It’s sturdy, country looking, and fits all sizes!!!

Then I added a game corner for the porch.  I took a vinegar barrel and added a checker board for all too enjoy!  A couple of tall stools on both sides makes for some friendly competition for old and young alike.  Right now the checkboard clother is draped over the barrel but hubby is making me a flat service to fit the checkerboard and the fun begins.

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I can’t wait to challenge my granddaughter to game of checkers or Life on the Farm game!

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Life on the Farm is much like Monopoly but based to farm life instead of city life!

And the last of the porch makeover is this assortment of antique tools we’ve found on the farm which we’ll add to as time goes on!

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Wouldn’t you love to come visit on the porch for awhile?!?!?!

 

Sprucing up the gazebo and summer fun at the pond

I’ve worked around the gazebo a few days in the last two weeks and it’s so peaceful sitting in there.  My beautiful daughter bought me two Boston ferns for Mother’s day and they are gracing each side.  I planted a orange and a yellow trumpet vine on the back side in hopes of providing a little shade in the August afternoons.  It may be a couple of August’s before they get big enough to do that but I’m also thinking about making a Roman shade to go on the west side for the evening relaxation.  The paddle boat has been cleaned up and ready to launch.  The picnic table needed some repair work which hubby took care of.  Don’t you think this is a wonderful spot to relax and just a few steps from my front door.

Ready for Summer 2013

Ready for Summer 2013

 

Place to sit, boat to pedal, picnic table to eat at, who could ask for anything more??

Place to sit, boat to pedal, picnic table to eat at, who could ask for anything more??

 

Picnic table and boat house full of fishing gear.

Picnic table and boat house full of fishing gear.

 

100 yards from the house!

100 yards from the house!

 

SUMMER IS GOING TO BE FUN & RELAXING!! 😉

 

 

 

Sugar house repairs

When we moved to the farm almost 12 years ago we  were way too busy taking care of  my husbands uncle who had Alzheimer.  What a horrible disease but that’s another post!!  My husband inherited our farm from his uncle which has been in the family 200+ years.  It once was the farm of at least five different links of the Caldwell family.  Some parcels were sold off and some of what we know was in a journal of one of my husbands great uncle, OFWC.  There are at this time two apple houses, two cellars, two smoke houses, numerous  grain bins, storage building, barns, barns and more barns and currently four houses.  We live in one, our daughter is building another, the other two are family homes or build somewhere in between.  We have bull barns, cattle barns, hay barns, equipment barns, bee house, and did I mention a “sugar house”??

A sugar house was built for just making wonderful maple syrup.  Our farm is loaded with all sorts of fruit and nut trees, pines, and more than anything else, sugar maple trees.  One on the property we are sure was about thirty years old when a family picture was made on the farm and that was in the mid 1800’s.  It’s starting to look pretty bad and in need of pruning or taking down but it sure pours the maple sap in the spring.  I digress again and on with the story of the sugar house.  This is what it looked like when we moved here 12 years ago and hadn’t been used since our kids were small and they’re 36 and 39 years old at the moment.

2004  and the sugar house fire pit is full of trash.

2001 and the sugar house fire pit is full of trash.

The brick and mortar are falling out.

The brick and mortar are falling out.

Some bricks have fallen out of the chimney.

Some bricks have fallen out of the chimney.

Brick and mortar around the pan spout hole are completely gone.

Brick and mortar around the pan spout hole are completely gone.

 

Time to take some measurements and start over.

Time to take some measurements and start over.

My son-in-law is a brick mason and loves restoring old building and the fixtures within.  Even though he’s my kin, I have to say he used to do awesome work.  Economy and no work has changed that way of life in our neck of the woods.

Anyway, hubby, Joel and my brother broke it down, cleaned it out and started over as you will see from the following photos.

Brother, Junior , helps with recontruction.

Brother, Junior , helps with recontruction.

 

Backhoe is perfect tool for hauling off old brick to fill up ruts or wash outs.

Backhoe is perfect tool for hauling off old brick to fill up ruts or wash outs.

Syrup pan in good working order, just needs a good cleaning.

Syrup pan in good working order, just needs a good cleaning.

 

Now, I wasn’t around to take pictures when Joel was rebuilding but I think these beauties will show you what a beautiful job he did and I’m so proud of the beautiful “sugar house”!!

Bandit Ann checks for varmints Now to clean out around the pit and put down small gravel Nice pit, clean pan and tools time to make syrup Need to fix the chimney flashing Side view Sugar House Tools ready_pan full_fire heating upWe’ve used it several times since the renovations and everyone enjoys the time together!  We usually have friends and neighbors into for the day or two that it takes to cook the sap off and everyone enjoys the french toast and waffles when the first batch comes out of the pans.

The main reason I did this post is the time is upon us to tap the trees again if Mother Nature will cooperate and everyone is well.  I’ve posted in the past on the process but plan to do that again sometime next week with some new photos of last years event.  Until then, THINK SWEET THOUGHTS!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The year is almost three quarters gone and what did I do?

                                                                                                                                                                    January -Ice and snow

February-Making maple syrup

January-February – grafting fruit trees

February – March – Seedlings started

March – Baby calves arrive

March-April – Spring turkey hunting for two of my favorite people.

April – fire wood for winter 2012

April – New equipment for working the cattle

April – More new fencing

May – Gardening begins

May – Honeybees cleaning house and we prepare for fresh honey

May – Bee swarming begins

May – Fruit trees bloom and we worry about late frosts.

June 2012 – 1st ever “duratio” in our neck of the woods. Lots of cleanup and keeping hubby busy!

June – Duratio takes down lots of our fruit and nut crop and wreaks havoc on our fencing.

June – Hay time

June – Hay lot is full!

July – Spring cleaning almost done!

July – Harvesting & canning for winter in full swing!

July – A little crafting along the way makes life fun!

July – First barn quilt in Craig County on the barn!! More fun!

August-September – Mammoth pumpkin from the garden. He almost didn’t fit the wheel barrow!

July – August – Fresh vegies from the garden.

September – Potatoes harvested and in the cellar.

September – Plowing to sow the winter crops (turnips & parsnips).

September – Spaghetti sauce and barbecue sauce from the last of the tomatoes.

And, here it is the end of September.  Deer season and turkey season is soon to be here.  Baby calves are coming and yearlings are headed to the market.  Two nights of cold temps and frost in the mornings means firing up the wood stoves.  The cycle starts again.

Vacation is over and what a week I had!!

My family and some friends think I’m crazy for housecleaning during my vacation! I’m not, I promise! I just love my home and like for it to be clean or at least look that way! Two weeks before my vacation I made a spring cleaning chore list for each room in the house and included the porches and the yard. The week before my vacation I made a shopping list of everything I would need to complete these chore lists. Yes, I’m a little organized when it comes to most things. I called my brother to see if he could help my quest by keeping my younger brother for the duration of my vacation and he and his beautiful wife agreed. Then the work began!
On Friday evening (beginning of vacation) I left work and picked up the groceries needed for the upcoming week and the week following because I didn’t want to spend any of my vacation buying groceries. I went home and did my normal chores and then packed little brother’s suitcase. He was anxiously waiting for “his vacation” from me to start!! I delivered him and hurried back home and spent a quiet evening with hubby on the front porch talking and planning our week ahead. He had made arrangements to be around to help with anything I needed and planned to do some more clean up of the sheds on the farm while I did my clean up in the house.
On Saturday I spent the day cleaning the pantry and finishing the cleaning job on the side porch which I started the weekend before. I worked my way from the ceiling to the floors in both rooms and they looked wonderful and I was very pleased with my accomplishment.
That evening we went out to dinner with my daughter and her family to Liberty Station in Bedford for a belated Mother’s Day dinner. We all had a good time and the food was wonderful.
Sunday found me working in the bathroom painting the shower and doing some sewing for little brother’s bedroom. Our bathroom is dated early 60’s with a metal shower, camode, sink, and water heater in a 5×7 space. Thank goodness there’s a window!! I made new curtains for the windows but mainly just a ceiling to floor cleaning and the paint job on the shower was the icing on the cake. We had to let the paint job seal for 24 hours which meant we took a ride to hubby’s hunting camp about fifteen miles away to use their shower. That was another story all in itself but we struggled through it grinning the whole time. While I worked on the bathroom, hubby made an amazing clean-out of two buildings and loaded up a truck load of scrap for the scrapyard. I’ve included a picture of the empty truck and one of us on our way. We were both on a roll!!
We hauled over 5200 pounds to the scrap yard and left the scrapyard with over $500. We were happy campers because we killed two birds with one stone by cleaning up the junk on the farm and making enough money to play with during vacation. We left the scrapyard for Lowe’s and Tractor Supply for dogfood and miscellaneous items and headed home.
On the return home I started back on the bathroom and finished it that afternoon. It’s so nice and clean I didn’t want anyone to use it but since it’s the only bathroom in the house I had to give in. The new curtains look pretty good. The cabinets have been cleaned out of all out of date meds, the clutter is gone and I can definitely live with it.
Tuesday found us riding through Giles County with Sassy heading for a fishing hole. We went through Peterstown and Lindside and found a private trout fishing business where we caught 8 1/2 pounds of nice trout. We then went back to Stoney Creek to visit a friend of Eddie’s that fileted them for us and had a short visit with him and his son until a storm started brewing. Now, I’m not a fisherman! Hubby did all the “work” and I enjoy the nice quiet day watching and entertaining Sassy. She and I don’t take well to the sunrays or the heat so we had our own adventure checking out the trout farm. Hubby enjoyed the day as much as we did and we put eight packs of filet trout in the freezer on our return home. The rain lasted a short while then we did the outside chores, fixed supper and spent the evening on the front porch again enjoying the peace and quiet.
Wednesday we had planned to visit one of Eddie’s aunts in Richmond but decided the rainy day was not indicative of a safe trip to Richmond on an interstate. So I went back to my spring cleaning and stayed at it all day. Little brothers room was the next chore on the list. I gave his closets a cleanout and hubby made him a new shelving unit for all of his DVD’s and cleared out some space in the room making it look bigger and easier for me to do the weekly cleaning. I cleaned again from ceiling to floor and it looked awesome as you can tell from the photo. When he came home on Saturday he told me he thought he had a new apartment. He’s so funny!! (Little brother was born with PKU and lived with our Mom until she passed away five years ago. He came to live with us at that point but that a whole new post for a later date!!)

Thursday found me going to back to the enclosed side porch to do some repairs. The new metal roof has found a place to let water through and we had a few leaks and stains from the leaks to fix. Hubby was furious because the old roof never leaked and was probably 30+ years old. We worked in the yard and gardens and I started a barn quilt which will be placed on the front of the big red barn as you enter our driveway (yet again another post). Did I say that I never turned on the computer the entire time I was on vacation??!!??
Friday I’m fretting because I only have three days left before I go back to work and there’s still so much to do. The wreck I’ve made of the house cleaning four small rooms will be taken care of on Saturday so this day was spent working on our bedroom. Since it’s my last day at home Eddie and I decide to take a road trip and go through the mountains. We went up Rt 42. Stopped at Hilltop Grocery and got hotdogs. Went through Mountain Lake, up Stoney Creek, through Waiteville, across Crowder Road into Zenith and Gap Mills, across Potts Mountain and back home. We didn’t take Sassy because of the heat called for that day and we saw so much wildlife. We packed a bag of snacks for the day and it was wonderful. I’m stopping here because it didn’t get finished and the front porch and yard were calling my name. I’ve accomplished a lot and enjoyed being at home with my hubby and Sassy and it made me realize also how out of shape I was. I actually lost four pounds during that week off. It’s not a “dream” vacation but it was mine and I loved it!!!