In earlier American rural life, communities raised barns because many hands were required. These events occured in a social framework with a good deal of interdependence. Members of rural communities often shared family bonds going back generations. They traded with each other, worshipped with each other and celebrated with each other. Barn raisings were an integral part of life and socializing.

In our modern American life, communities don't mean nearly as much as they did back then. It is our family's goal to bring a sense of community back to our lives and those lives that touch ours.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bleach and Doilies

        The project I am posting about tonight is an old project. I believe it was completed last August. I just never wrote about. Tonight is as a good a time as any.
         It's a very simple project that anyone can do. Really. Anyone. All you need is a solid colored t-shirt, a doily, a spray bottle and bleach. I first tried it out on an old blue work t-shirt. After I saw how great it looked, I tried it on a green tank top that already had a bleach spot on it. That didn't work as well since the double dose of bleach ate a hole through the tank top. I figure it wasn't much of a loss since the tank top was used for house cleaning anyway. Third time was a charm though as I tried it on a black, long-sleeved t-shirt for Iris. Totally cute.
       Okay, here's how you do it.
      1. Pick your shirt.
      2. Pick your doily. Any shape or size will do. I recommend finding one at a thrift shop, garage sale or hobby store. This will get bleached so don't use an heirloom passed down from your great grandma.
      3. Spray bottle. Designate one just for bleach. The ratio is 2/3 water to 1/3 bleach. *Tip: Don't store your bleach in the spray bottle. Only fill it about halfway. I stored mine and the bleach ate away the squirty mechanism thingy.
      4. Put a piece of cardboard inside your shirt. Make sure it fits so that the bleach doesn't go through to the other side of the shirt.
      5. Lay out your doily on your shirt. Play with the design until it pleases your eye. The sleeve is a cute place to put it. Or wrapping it around a shoulder or around the back looks cute.
      6. Once everything is layed out, start squirting the doily. Hold the bottle about eight inches away from your shirt. You want it to mist out around the doily, as well as going through the holes of the doily. Squirt a few times and wait. It will take a moment for the color to change . You don't want to over do it. Do not move the doily until you are completely done. It's hard to line back up again. When you have reached the level of color removal that you desire, remove doily. Now you can either place it somewhere else on the shirt or you can stop.
     7. When you are done, place the shirt in the wash and wash and dry as normal.
     8. Voila! A new shirt!
    Different color shirts have different base colors. Blue and black bleach out to a pinky color. Green turned white. Keep this in mind when choosing your shirt. If you don't want to use a doily, you can use any stencil or anything with holes.
      I originally got this idea from Lil Blue Boo. She has amazing ideas. And she seems pretty cool to boot.


Iris's shirt before. Covered in lint and cat hair. Awesome.

Back of her shirt during the process.

Front of her shirt during the process.

End result.

Tank top with bleach spot.

Doily on back during the process.

End result of back.

End result, front of shirt

The shirt that started it all. I forgot to take before pics of this one.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Stars Align...

...or they don't. Either way, life is life and things move along with or without your consent.
       I know it's been a long time since my last posting. Three months and two days to be exact. A lot has happened in that time. The kids got bigger. My parents came for a visit. We've explored and seen new places (our favorites being Garden of the Gods and Bristol Brewing Co.). I got the first job that I have had in six years. Which I then quit less than three weeks later. I learned I have a very low tolerance for jerkholes. Actually, I relearned this, because really, I have always had a low tolerance. It's just been a while since I've had to deal with one of this magnitude.
      We are trying our best to settle into this new place that we have found ourselves in. Our home is absolutely lovely. Having one of my nearest and dearest friends and her family nearby has been a huge help. Having my cousin and her family nearby has helped. Having one of the longest and most annoying winters I have ever experienced has not helped. Seriously, it's seventeen degrees, blowing and blustering, with very little snow falling as I type this. Seventeen! Cripes. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad except for one small fact. On the Western Slope of Colorado where we lived before, winter comes early. On the Front Range of Colorado it comes late. My family has been experiencing winter since November. Five months, people. Five months of cold. Five months of Colorado being moody. Five months of sixty degrees one day and seventeen the next. Yesterday we were enjoying the zoo. Which, I might add, is also a huge help. We love the zoo!
       At any rate, life is being weird. Things are not really falling into place for us the way they normally do. I am trying to take this as a challenge, but I am beginning to believe that it is because we are not where we are supposed to be. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, we are locked into our lease until the end of next January. Nine and a half months to get our heads and hearts straightened out. Maybe then the stars will align and we can follow our true path.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Dreams Change

      There is so much that I haven't blogged about. Life is ever changing and it moves so fast that I find myself scrambling to keep up. Add to that the slowest internet connection since the internet was invented and you have a match made in...well the opposite of heaven.
       I know the last time I wrote, I specifically said I wasn't writing about animals, but so much has changed that I feel that I should at least give a brief update.
       Cats: Nothing has changed here. We still have our three wonderful, annoying cats, Hazel, Autumn and Crookshanks.
       Rabbits: In September our three meat rabbits were rehomed to be breeders for a woman that I have become friendly with because she works at the local fabric store. We still have Flower and Dobby, our "fluffy bunnies" as I like to call them.
       Turkeys: They are all gone now. We processed the last four this past Saturday. We processed the first one for Thanksgiving, and another two the beginning of December. It was a very interesting experience for the whole family to go through. I believe that we all learned a lot about ourselves and each other. In addition we now have a freezer full of good, clean, safe meat. `
       Chickens:  An owl killed four of our young hens before we even realized what was happening. Wildlife sucks sometimes, and I say that even about owls, who I have an especially strong affinity for. My folks have taken six of our birds, adding to their flock of six for a total of twelve chickens. We are rehoming four chickens and a rooster on Wednesday. We were going to butcher our rooster, but when it came down to it, I just couldn't do it. People have horror stories about roosters, but I have to say that just hasn't been our experience. The kids have dubbed him Mike, after this unfortunate fella, Mike the Headless Chicken  has taken a special place in our hearts and I just don't want to see him on the dinner table.   
       Guineas: Ah, here's some of the painful part that I didn't want to talk about. We rehomed our guineas in November to a wonderful couple who are starting on their own path to self-sustainability and homesteading. This was after the extremely unfortunate incident of our dog, Abraham, killing our Momma Guinea, Pepper, and attacking the guinea rooster. The baby guinea was also lost in the hullabaloo. Which brings me to my most heart wrenching animal update:
        Dogs: I don't even know where to start. Mollie, our fat little beagle pooch, who we have had since she was eight weeks old and is now twelve and a half, is still, thankfully with us. Ranger had his foot run over this fall, and after a scary night when we thought he might lose his back leg, we learned that he only had to lose a toe. He had a long recuperation that involved many tricks to keep him from chewing his bandage, for example, at the end he was wearing three e-collars, a neck brace and an inflatable donut around his neck. This was at times frustrating (think, eighty pound dog with that much crap around his head. He was a train wreck.) and at times quite humorous (like when the ladies at the vet renamed him Danger). He is mostly recovered from this incident, although he still favors that leg. If there is a bright side to this misfortune, it is that he has stopped running off and the only car he chases now is ours, which generally gets him a ride in the back. Abraham. Oh, Abraham. My heart still aches as I write this. Ranger and Abraham were never kindred spirits. Try as I might, Ranger was just too jealous of Abe. Abraham is a wonderful dog. But Ranger didn't see this and would continuously bite his nose to the point of bleeding and swelling. After many tearful (on my part) discussions, Matt and I decided to return Abraham to Black Canyon Animal Sanctuary. Thankfully Debbie (who owns the sanctuary and is an angel on earth) was completely understanding and within two days the sweet boy was adopted. I understand that he now lives in the Vail area with a wonderful family consisting of two young girls and has been renamed Atlas. Ranger has never shown aggression to anyone or anything before or since. Now for the part I wish I didn't have to write. In fact, if I could just go to bed now, I would. Unfortunately that wouldn't erase what is the truth. Just over two weeks ago, Jessie slowed down. Fiercely. We took her to our vet. He gave us some advice and sent us home to think about it. We wanted to extend her life. We wanted to have her with us forever. We thought maybe she would come out of her slump. It was Christmas and New Years. Dogs shouldn't be allowed to be sick on the holidays. She didn't come out of her slump. In fact, she slumped even harder. We knew the end was near. We didn't want her to suffer any more. So on Thursday, January 3rd, we tearfully bid farewell to our dearest Jessie. I still can't even type this without crying. What do you do when your furry friend is gone? She was our family. We had her from the beginning of our married life. There isn't a memory without her somewhere in the background. She has been through every move, every pregnancy, every everything. Jessie, we love you and you will always be in our hearts.
     Now you might be wondering why we have rehomed so many of our animals. This brings me to changing dreams. At the core our dreams are still the same. We still crave community. We still want to raise our children to be responsible citizens of the world, who make a difference, no matter what it is. We want them to be truly happy. We still want to be as self-sustaining as possible. However, Matt needs a career change. Our family needs him to have a career change. After ten years of working for Dish Network, it is time. He has been volunteering with our local fire department this past year. It has intrigued him and ignited in him a passion I have not seen in a long time. So he is applying for a position with the Colorado Springs Fire Department. He is halfway through the application process and so far so good. We have decided to embrace life and take a wild leap of faith and move to Colorado Springs. I am excited and woeful all at once. I yearn for museums and culture and proximity to our Fort Collins friends while simultaneously aching for country living and fearful of living in such a large city. As I write this the coyotes are howling and just last night, the kids and I were treated to two owls calling back and forth to each other. The stars out here are stupendous. The quiet, the dark, the in-your-face seasons. I will miss these things. I will not miss driving for hours for groceries and entertainment. I will not miss the constant mud. I will not miss the desolation but will somehow still miss the solitude. Most of all, I will miss my parents and my in-laws. But what is life, if not one big adventure. And so, in less than two weeks, we will have a new place to rest our heads. The only thing this means for you, dear reader, is a faster internet connection which equals more blogging. It also means new adventures, new topics to discuss. No more chickens or livestock to tend to. No more deer in our yard. But friends, museums and a whole new city to explore are waiting just ahead.  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

No More

    For the foreseeable future I will not be writing any more about our animals. So many heart wrenching things have happened since the last time I wrote about them. It seems that every time I write about our animals tragedy strikes. So to protect our animals, you will no longer be hearing about them. Instead, here is a picture of butter. Butter that I had sitting out to soften to make honey butter with. Butter that was instead nibbled on by a certain three year old. Mmm-mmm good.


And yes, I did still make honey butter out of it.

Visitors or Dinner?

      Today we had three free ranging cows roaming the property. The kids seem to think that means that they are ours. Matt seems to think so as well. They all see ground beef and roasts. I see years in prison for cattle rustling. Or at least some pretty heavy fines. The cows are, for now, safe. At least from us.
       Oh. And we got our first snowfall. Brrrr. 
 
They were drinking out of the dogs water trough aka Jessie's swimming pool

Moo
I kinda like this one. Possession is 9/10 of the law, right?
       

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pepper and Salt

Maycee decided that Mama Guinea needed a name and so she named her Pepper. Pepper continued to sit her nest and we continued to check on her progress. This involved a peek under her wings to check the eggs. She never enjoyed the peek, but she tolerated it. Until Sunday. On Sunday I went to check on her as usual. This time, however, she was ticked. She was hissing, yes hissing, at me and squawking and trying to peck at me. I quickly determined that the babies were going to be hatching that day. And I was right! Well, kind of. One out of the eighteen eggs that she was setting hatched. Just one. I have delayed writing about it because I wanted to make sure the baby survived. As of today, baby is doing great. We even had a massive rain storm last night that dropped our temps and made the gullies run. I worried all night about the baby, since they are still free ranging. Pepper does not seem to want to be in the coop at all. We have named the baby Salt. I'm sure you can guess why. Pepper is an amazing Mama and surprisingly enough, the other guineas have really taken to the baby. They have formed a protective circle around Pepper and Salt and we are lucky to get a glimpse of Salt. The pictures I am sharing were taken Sunday and Monday.

Can you see Salt?

Salt and Pepper

Monday, September 3, 2012

Infinity Bricks

Spencer has started his own blog chronicling his Lego creations. Check him out here and become a follower. He makes some very inventive and fun things.

Animals for Food

        A little word on meat consumption. We are meat eaters. Organic meat eaters. And we have four children, in case you haven't noticed. Organic meat can be pricey and somewhat hard to come by in our neck of the woods. Which is interesting considering that we are smack dab in the middle of ranch and farm country. Unfortunately, the ranchers and farmers seem to cater to the higher end farmers markets in places such as Aspen and Telluride. I might go more into that in another post. For now, we will go back to our original post. I am growing more and more suspicious of our nation's food sources. It seems that all I hear about in the news are recalls on one food item or another. Outbreaks of  e.coli or salmonella happen with growing frequency. And don't even get me started on the way our food animals are treated. I have tried being vegetarian on and off for the last decade, but the truth is, I do occasionally like to have meat. I am just picky about where that meat comes from. I don't like that our food animals are treated worse than most peoples' house plants. They need to be given the respect and care that they deserve as something alive and something we will be consuming to fuel our bodies. We literally are what we eat. If you really think about it, I promise you will be grossed out by their treatment as well. With this in mind, our family has made a few tough choices. For the past six years we have raised chickens for eggs. This year is our first year to get some chicks to raise for meat. And not those nasty ones that grow to maturation in three months and are so heavy they end up breaking their own legs. These are true heritage breed chickens and turkeys. I spent a lot of time doing research into which breeds are cold tolerant, broody (meaning that they will set their own nests) and dual purpose (meaning they are good layers and good for meat). We also wanted turkeys that could breed on their own. Commercially raised turkeys have such large breasts that the hens have to be artificially inseminated since the toms can't mount them.
          A quick word about egg laying chickens. There is one thing that really riles me up, okay not just one thing, there are actually quite a few things, but this one thing in particular really gets me. People who believe that collecting eggs from chickens is cruelty to animals. Now, if they are referring to factory farmed chickens, I completely understand. But have these people ever been around chickens? Chickens lay eggs. That's what they do. They don't need to be bred to lay eggs. It is not harmful to a chicken to lay their eggs. They just just do it everyday, without fail. In fact, I believe they are proud of their accomplishment, so much so that they sing about it. We have put words to their song. Come visit and we'll sing it for you. Okay, end of rant.
         I'm not sure that it is any less expensive for us to raise our own, but it is infinitely more rewarding. It is hard, both in the work it creates and the emotions that it brings to the surface. But I would rather it be hard and be in my face, than to shut my emotions down and close my eyes to the atrocities that are in our food world.

 
         

Momma Guinea

I didn't have any pictures of our setting guinea to go along with my post last night, so here are a few.
Can you see her?



Cockle-Doodle-Do

      I realized as I wrote the title of this post that I am not sure if it is cockle-doodle-do or cock-a-doodle-do. I am not sure it really matters. At any rate, it is a sound that our handsome rooster is starting to make. I do believe that he is quite proud of himself and he seems to enjoy the sound of his own crow. Meaning, he crows more than he should. Thankfully, we have no neighbors nearby and so far we are entertained by him more than we are annoyed by him. I can't say the same for the turkeys who seem to think he is challenging them. They are all the same age, but the turkeys are about three times larger. They don't notice, though, and let the older chickens and guineas really push them around. Which is funny to watch. I have resisted naming any of the turkeys and try to only think of them as future sausage, however, I will miss them when their eventual demise comes. They follow us around like puppies. They like to look in the windows at us. They perch on the railings of the porch and look like mean gargoyles. They gobble and prance around and amuse us to no end. The poop that they leave behind EVERYWHERE, I will not miss. The tons of feed that they consume and the price that goes with the feed, I will not miss. Them roosting on the top of my truck, I will not miss. In the mean time, I will enjoy them, and love them, and give them a great free-ranging life. Speaking of free-ranging, one of our female guineas has decided to set a nest. She is a bit of an outcast and one day when she went missing I feared the worst. She surprised us all by reappearing a couple of days later only to disappear again. The next time she showed up, I sent Spencer after her and sure enough, there was a nest. She is about two hundred yards from the house, under a cluster of sage with about fourteen eggs. She is rapidly approaching twenty-one days, so hopefully the eggs are fertile and will hatch out soon. That's the news on the poultry front.

Handsome man with a couple of his ladies.

In the middle of a crow.

Tom turkey being agitated by crowing rooster and trying to show that he he is the bigger man.

Pretty little hen turkey trying to figure out what the guys are fussing about.

Really?! The trees aren't good enough?


See here for post about chicks:
http://barnraisin.blogspot.com/2012/05/chicks-and-turks.html#links