Common Ground

Realizing that we are more alike than different does not come easy, especially when everything around you is telling you the opposite – news, financial status, social media, protests, our own views of the same … Sometimes, one thing, one incident, something you heard or saw, reminds you that in the end we all want the same things. We want to be loved and love, we want to be safe, we want to prosper, we want joy and happiness, we want a happy home, we want to be fed properly, we want to have fun, we want to help others and be givers, we want to care … Sometimes, in the pursuit of those same things we become boulders in the path of others, and in the one to our own journey. Sometimes, it is so hard to understand one another, but what makes it a bit easier is realizing that we all want the same things. In illuminating our own road, we can also be a light for others.

Photo by M.A.D.

Farmhouse Project – The Pumpkin Area

We had plenty of rain over the past two days, so in the interim, we were able to tackle one of the projects from the immediate list – opening up an area in the back part of the property for pumpkins or other veggies . Last year, we tested a small patch of grass where we were able to grow a few pumpkins and cantaloupe, not many. We realized we had to move the planting a bit to the front, where there is a bit more sun, so we finally settled on the area. We took advantage of the very wet and soft ground after the rain, and we finished the job quickly. The seeds are planted. Only a few rows, just for a second test to see how it goes. This year we planted a few seeds – pumpkins, cantaloupe, sunflowers, and a bit of corn. Not too much because we are still testing. Here are a few pictures of the project.

Clearing up this section was easier than we thought because of all the previous rain.
While digging out grass, we found all of these interesting objects. Mostly, old electrical parts and tools, bolts … I wish I could have a window to the past and see the story attached to each one.
Of course, these will end up in my collection. Why? Just because.
And here they are; in their rightful place. It has become an obsession that doesn’t require an explanation.

After testing this area, if it works out it will be expanded a bit to be able to plant more, and added to over time. I am sure that we will find more interesting things buried in the soil. I hope you enjoyed this project; I surely did.

Less Will Have to Be More

Glancing back this month and reviewing our budget, I realized that expenses are on the up and up. Not that we are spending more, but that things are costing more. If you have been paying attention, not to the news but to the world around you, you might have noticed inflation creeping in. If you pay attention at grocery prices from month to month, you already know it. When people refer to “less is more,” they usually do so in the context of aesthetics, décor, clutter… I think that with our current “real” state of the economy, not what the news are reporting daily, but what you see people live day by day, less will have to be more. If you have no clue of what I am talking about, on your next shopping trip to the grocery store (a definite need) be a bit more observant and glance at people’s grocery carts on line ready for checkout. It is an eye opener. When people are downsizing basic needs, it is a sign of how real things are becoming. It is true that the pandemic caused much damage in many households, and for many people income dropped, while for others, unemployment assistance became a blessing, increasing their income compared to the job they had before being unemployed, hence why many people are not interested in returning to work right away, but that is another subject. So for many others, less will have to become more. Less groceries will have to be stretched out for more people/servings for a longer time. If you think that the pandemic already did this in 2020, wrecking people’s lives, incomes … you are right. Post pandemic it will be inflation.

For us who have been around in the 1980’s, we remember inflation. Interest rates to buy a home were at 14% or more, and the cost of living was high. In my opinion, and I am not a financial expert, only someone who observes life, the difference this time around will be that the salaries have remained pretty much the same since that time while everything else has gone up in price, and possibly much more if inflation hits us hard. For the younger generation, it will be an eye opener, as their purchase power will be challenged much more than it already is. Old timers will not be as shocked but will see the difference, especially, if they are on a fixed income. What a recipe for scrambled eggs, hopefully not kept in one basket. Maybe it will be a lesson in grateful living and appreciation of what one already has, and going back to basics.

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” Matthew 6:26 NIV

Farmhouse Garden Project

I know that there are things on our To Do List that should have priority, but sometimes, we cannot help it and an idea just hits one of us and we both run with it. This little garden project was born in my head while sitting on the porch as my husband was talking about things he would like to do around the future rain garden. He liked the proposed change and we went with it. One of the front bushes was looking sad despite many attempts to make it become more full. It wasn’t working. It was one of the original bushes we uncovered and tried to make healthier. Here is a picture of it.

It is the bush on the far left.

After trimming it very low to the ground to force it to fill up a bit, it did not do that, so we decided this year to remove it and move one of the stone benches on the porch to that area. Here is the result. We like it better that way. We thought it would be a difficult task to remove it, but to our surprise, it was very loose and came out easily. Maybe this was the reason for it to look a bit unhealthy.

The small boxwood by the bird fountain is still recovering from the large branch that fell on top of it during the ice storm.

Once you start you just keep moving, so my husband decided that he wanted to try something – moving the porch hanging solar light to one of the entrances that he is cleaning up to continue a few short trails. I thought about moving the solar light somewhere else but was not sure where, so that worked out.

Here is my other half working on his idea.
The solar lights are hanging from the branch he attached between two young trees.
We had to wait until twilight to see the result. The mason jar lights twinkle so it was hard to take a picture. I can see them through the kitchen window as I do dishes. Eventually all three entrances will have solar lights.

From there it was natural to move to something else, so I decided to make a little habitat for garden critters at the Faerie garden. I repurposed an old table stand and used it as a small trellis for an ivy, and under it I placed one of the chimney halves I had found before. As the ivy grows and becomes fuller it will turn into a cozy retreat for critters.

The idea is for the ivy to cover the entire structure and for garden critters to use it as a home.

As the garden wakes up, we keep helping it look better every year. This section is looking better after tending it with hope, working with the existing area, and adding a few things.

More irises have grown. Once the irises die, pink flowers come up, and after those, white ones, followed by tiny yellow ones. There is something blooming always. Originally, this area was an old trunk under grass and overgrown bushes. It has come a long way.

All seeds have been planted on the veggie garden area, and they are coming up. The seeds for the flower circle are planted as well, and hopefully, we will be able to clear an area in the back for planting cantaloupe, corn, pumpkin, and sunflowers. That part requires a bit more work. As the garden grows and changes we also grow and change with it.

Impromptu Farmhouse Project

This project was not in our radar, but we spotted a lovely tree with gorgeous white flowers, which seemed to be thriving in the back area of the house. My husband decided to try and free it from the bushes, grass, and other small trees that were suffocating it. That was all it took for us to continue the effort along a small area, working on freeing other evergreens, mostly cedar that are growing close together. So we did. Some smaller trees that were growing next to one another had to be eliminated, but this freed up growing space for the ones we kept. It was a joint effort; while my husband cut the trees, I removed the debris and piled it up with the rest of the dead branches that need removing, and I cleared the area with a rake. The area looks much better now. We are planning on hanging solar lights on the two entrances. We also think that it would be nice to add a bench and some flower pots in the future. For now, we will continue to work on the remainder part of the area. Here are some pictures of this unscheduled project.

One of the little cedars we decided to save. The back area is full of overgrown vegetation.
Most of it looks like this, one tree on top of another.
The white-flower tree has been freed, and a few cedars as well.
Other cedars and another white-flower tree are asking for help, and we’ll freed them too.

After that, we have been preparing the garden for planting, and cleaning up winter’s vestige. As soon as the weather permits and the temperature remains a bit warmer, work on the veggie garden will begin. We are still having some nights in the low 30F.

The veggie garden got a refresh, and the pots/boxes were filled with extra soil. It is ready for planting.
I worked on setting up this area last year, and I am seeing the results now; unfortunately, this is one of the giant cedars that will have to be cut down, after the ice storm damage.
Spring Moth Worms are starting to show up.
The shed got a light layer of mulch as well. Because we use pine needles from the property in the winter, it cuts down on how much mulch we need to use when it needs it. The plants in the pots keep coming back every year, so this area is almost effortless now. Eventually, much of the area will become almost effortless.
While cleaning up the back area we found part of a chimney top that was split in two parts. I decided to place these in the faerie garden as shelter for critters, whether frogs or whatever decides to visit.

Despite our ongoing project list, we never know what new project will show up on the side. It is always fun and never boring. Our goal is to get to a point were most areas are set up and become almost effortless to maintain, that is, considering the mess we started with when we bought the place (see Restoring an Old Farmhouse series of posts). I hope that you enjoyed reading about this project.

This Old Farmhouse – My Take on the Journey So Far

About ten years ago, my husband and I bought an abandoned old farmhouse that was dilapidated and almost buried under a morass of overgrown bushes, grass, and trees. It wasn’t until five years ago that we moved into it. It took some money, time, and a lot of work to make it livable, and there are many areas that still need to be addressed, mainly exterior work. It has been hard work, and I mean, real hard work. Because we did not count with a large budget, we had to do most of the work ourselves (about 95%), just the two of us. We continue to work together in some outdoor projects, slowly, as the budget allows.

Will we do it again? Although a simple question that requires a yes or no answer, I find myself unable to answer it in such way simply because it has been quite a journey. A journey full of bittersweet moments – great moments, exhausting moments, unnerving moments, proud moments, and moments of faith as well. We both have learned so much – about ourselves, about working together and our working styles, about new skills, about the house, about appreciation and gratefulness, about our limits and disposition, and much more; but mostly, about trusting the Lord in our everyday lives. This is why a simple yes or no answer does not suffice.

In the practical sense, a bigger budget would have made things easier and faster – hiring people, easier/better materials and tools, and overall contracting out the hard work areas, and only dealing with the fun tasks. Ideally. However, we would have not experienced and learned as much, grown with the project, and appreciate it as much. It was hard work, but also fun. We would have done some things in a different way, but other things in the same way we did. Overall, I think the experience built up character, but also faith. In that sense, it is a step up from where we started. The long and hard working hours improved our physical stamina but also our mind; the overall experience, our souls. We will continue to work together on this old farmhouse and will share some projects here.

So going back to the yes or no question – will we do it again? I will answer the question for myself, but I think my husband feels the same way about it. The hard work was physically taxing but the overall experience was worth it. If you would like to take a look at the progress so far, please check out the “Fixing an Old Farmhouse” series of posts on this blog.

Yes.

Photo by M.A.D.
Photo by M.A.D.

Heck of a Mess!

Taking advantage of a few good “warm” days, my husband and I have been slowly working on the mess that the last ice storm made around the property. We have been cutting trees and piling up broken branches and debris in the back so we can dispose of it later on. Once piled up, we realized that it is too big of a job and it will take a long time for us to manage all of it, so we have decided to either rent a brush/garden dumpster or hire someone who does this type of work. An estimation of the cost will be our next step. In the meantime, we were able to clear out most of it, that is, into a huge pile.

Most debris has been cleared out. The old cedar looks thinned out.
Large mounds of debris are spread all over the backyard.
And the side of the property as well.

Some of the down trees were large enough that we were able to use the main trunk for delineating some areas in the garden, and slowly continuing with my husband’s pet project – the enchanting trails. So far, it looks like this.

Part of the garden. The logs also prevent a large amount of leaves to roll over. We like a more natural garden look; rigid manicured gardens are not our style.
Part of the slow-developing trails.
We stopped around here. Ran out of logs, and we have to find a pathway as well.

As I mentioned before, my husband wants the trail to end where the lighted tree is located, and to have four entrances that will connect to one another along the way. I mentioned the possibility to spray paint the logs with fluorescent paint so it would look magical at night. I am not sure if he will go for it.

There has been plenty of chores around here, such as a broken well pipe and pump, which we fixed last weekend. Took an entire day, and several trips to three different stores in order to find the only pipe available in the area – we were blessed and lucky. Found it out of town at the Home Depot, but it was the only one left.

We worked together and fixed the issue. Setting up the 40/60 psi took a while, but we got it. You learn something everyday around here.

There have been beautiful sights as well. New birds that I have not seen before arrived the other day. At first glance, I thought they were woodpeckers but they only stayed around the ground and pecked the ground constantly. These had a long beak and gorgeous colors and feather patterns – yellow, pink, aqua blue, a darker blue, gray, black, red, beige, and a rosy beige gray in some areas. One of them had yellow bordering the wings, the others did not.

Gorgeous bird.
These birds moved constantly and pecked the ground, so they were very difficult to photograph.
Here you can see a bit of the blue on the sides, near the neck area. Was unable to take a picture of the one with the yellow bordering the wings.
There have been sublime red skies in the mornings.
Lazy morning moon as well.
Unexpected doorways to heaven.

I have been craving for Spring, and just about had enough of winter, so I decided to welcome it myself and decorate the porch for it.

Welcome Spring!
The first signs of Spring.

There are tons of farmhouse chores awaiting, and hopefully, I will be able to share a few here. I hope you enjoyed this post.

Just Around the Corner

Yes! Spring is just around the corner. I have observed more and more birds arriving. The other day, a large flock of starlings arrived. I called them crazy birds because they don’t stop moving, and sometimes they look like they are having a bad hair day. They are a bit hard to photograph, but they are as adorable as any. The flock was large and it covered the front and back lawns. If they heard any noise or a car went by, they all took flight and descended a few seconds later, all at once, lovely to watch. One of the cats enjoyed the show.

Starlings – Photo by M.A.D.
Busy, busy, busy. (Photo by M.A.D.)
Here you can see their gorgeous iridescence. (Photo by M.A.D.)
Taking flight. Can you find the squirrel on the tree? (Photo by M.A.D.)

Hope you enjoyed seeing the pictures of these amazingly synchronized birds.

Fixing an Old Farmhouse – Future Projects

We had a pretty heavy three-day ice storm, and I am so grateful that we did not lose power, and also grateful that we did not have any trees damaging our home. I also feel for the people that are without heat in this type of cold weather. We are expecting another storm by tomorrow, and that will add to the damage we had, which was nothing compared to other people. The amount of ice was so heavy on the trees that I could hear the tump tump tump every time one fell. Many of our trees lost a considerable amount of heavy branches, including the one near the house, my beloved old cedar tree, which is as old as the farmhouse is, or older. This storm put into perspective the need to remove two more trees that are too close for comfort, although I truly hate to see them go. This of course will be expensive because they are old giants. One of them lost most of its branches, a few of them hitting the porch at the corner but thankfully, only leaving a slight dent on the old roof, which is over 100 years.

With most of its branches gone, at least the weight of this old cedar has shifted away from the farmhouse. (Photo by M.A.D.)
Many of its branches are still hanging ready to fall. For now, we will avoid walking underneath. Another reason why we have decided to add it to the list of trees that unfortunately will have to go. (Photo by M.A.D.)
Another old giant that have been added to the list is this tree, about the same height.
(Photo by M.A.D.)
This smaller branches missed the tin can. Although smaller compared to the other branches, these are still heavy. I saw pieces of broken branches that fell with force buried into the ground about three inches or so. Imagine if that hits one’s head. One of nature’s teachings. (Photo by M.A.D.)
This is one of my favorite trees. Not sure if eventually, it will have to go; I hope not. Time will tell. For now, it is healthy, and it is a very young tree. It was half its size when we bought the farmhouse. (Photo by M.A.D.)
Our friend came around when the ice started to melt on Sunday. (Photo by M.A.D.)
Other little ones came out as well. (Photo by M.A.D.)
It amazes me how these little ones can handle the ice. (Photo by M.A.D.)
It was a beautiful sight. (Photo by M.A.D.)
When the ice started melting, it sounded like waterfalls, like heavy rain, and every time a chunk of ice slid and hit the metal roof, it was like thunder and lightning. (Photo by M.A.D.)
Sometimes, beauty is found in the least expected places. (Photo by M.A.D.)
Even on a frozen flag (Photo by M.A.D.)
Colors become more vibrant. (Photo by M.A.D.)
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap, or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Mathew 6:26 (Photo by M.A.D.)

The list of chores keeps growing around here. For now, the way to tackle these coming up projects will be one at a time, little by little, and all in due time. I will share some of them here. Hope you enjoyed this post.