From Bad to Worse: The Mucked Up Trench

Like all good horrors, the story must go from bad to worse.

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I believe I lost half of my body mass index just from sweating during this project.

We were tickled with delight to discover, as we dug with a shovel beside our house, that the perforated drain tile was collapsed (hence the reason our yard stays marshy around the deck. It’s simply stunning that our basement hasn’t flooded). Our excitement grew as our natural spring continued to pour out of the ground dousing the clay soil. A splendid gray paste formed that stuck to our boots and shovels like wet cement. Since the lower walls of our trench decided to crumble inward, we had to take the trencher through it again. However the wet clay in the bottom of the trench spewed upward and formed a mound. Staring at the mucked up mess, we knew there was only one solution. We cut a new big butt trench into our lawn.

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My husband’s father, overlooking the trenches, probably wishing we hadn’t called him.

Once the second trench was done, we leveled it and went to work on digging further around the collapsed portion of drain tile. We found a bit of tile at the base of the house that was still round enough, so we patched in a connector, and threaded the new tile through the trench.

Thanks to our reinforcements (my parents and my husbands’ parents), we were able to complete this project in 22 hours of backing breaking labor. If not for the help…goodness…I shudder to imagine.

 

 

In the Trenches: Another Day on the Farm

Today we tackled the big project of replacing the perforated drain tiles. Finding the old tiles and digging the trenches is no little feat, let me tell you. It’s takes a strong man, (a.k.a my husband), and a tough assistant, (a.k.a me). It also takes a big butt trencher that we rented. And with all these factors added together for success…eight hours later, the project still isn’t done.

Our land has a natural spring that runs under our house, so when we built two years ago, the builders directed the water toward the back of our property. We then dug a small pond for the water to flow into for our flock of chickens. However, the pond would be fuller if the builders hadn’t used perforated tiles. Hence, today’s project.

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We have blisters. We have sore backs. And our feet ache. But what can I say, it’s just another day on Cordero Family Farm. And it will continue again tomorrow.

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Haircuts for Hens

Much to my surprise, Helga didn’t peck my finger off as I gave her a spring “haircut.” And by haircut, I mean that her flight feathers needed to be clipped.

Every spring, the girls all need their feathers clipped because they’ll start flying over the pasture’s fence. And when my crazy chicken named LaFonda Flash gets over the fence, its nearly impossible to catch her.

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Meet Helga, my feisty hen, who today was actually in a lovely mood. Must be the sunshine. You will notice several feathers lying on the grass. Evidence of the “haircuts.”

Waiting in Line

The truth is that no one likes waiting in line. Even chickens.

This morning, I heard loud squawking coming from the henhouse and decided to investigate.  Inside, I found the dilemma. There were six hens needing to lay eggs and only three nest boxes. Poor girls. Waiting and labor combined, not  a good combination.

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Tap the Sap: Making Maple Syrup

When February comes to a close, we get ready to tap our trees. For us, it’s a fun experience that our whole family can be a part of, and trust me, not many things are as sweetly delicious as freshly boiled syrup. We finished our last batch as few days ago.  If ever you wondered how syrup is made, I’m about to tell you.

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#1 Drill the tree and put in the spiles attached to buckets or milk gallons. Collect the sap each night and refrigerate if the night doesn’t get below 38 degrees. Sap will sour just like milk.

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#2 Once sap is collected, it can be boiled down. We’ve created an outdoor evaporator. It’s very efficient, however, it still takes awhile to evaporate the water from the sap in order to only leave the syrup. It’s a tedious process and requires constant supervision and skimming off the foam.

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My son, eager to help in the process.
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Skimming off foam residue

IMG_2432#3 When the sap begins to darken and thicken, bring it inside to finish in order to control the boil on a stove top. It is ready when the syrup is 7 degrees above boiling.

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#4 Pour syrup into jars and seal. Maple syrup is great as a breakfast topping, ice cream topping, in coffee, and to replace sugar in baking.

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A Picture of our Syrup Jars and My Homemade Maple Peanut Butter Cookies

 

 

 

Spoiled Rotten Hens

My chickens are not just hens…they are my girls. Each have a name and each are spoiled rotten.  Believe it or not, my hens like being held and petted. My children adore catching them, though I’m not sure the girls like being chased. At least, its good exercise for all of them.

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When I saw the little ladies shivering this winter, I went to work to make better accommodations. Heat lamp, electric waterer and extra grains.

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I snapped these photos at night while they were roosting. They looked at me like, “Excuse me, we’re trying to sleep.”

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The only thing I didn’t do was sew sweaters. But boy, it would have been cute. I like the patterns below.

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Sweater References: reginadrangel.blogspot.com, hencam.co.uk

 

 

 

Starting from Scratch

It’s easy to take things we buy or use for granted when they come already packaged and produced. That’s why I like trying to make things from scratch. It makes me appreciate the end result much more. My husband and I continue to grow on our hobby farm (Cordero Family Farm) in order to become more self-reliant. Here’s a picture tour of my continued learning in canning, cooking, and baking from scratch.

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I learned how to bake my own bread with all scratch ingredients. It takes time and lots of kneading, but it is gooood!
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My collection of canned apple sauce and tomato sauce is slowly growing!
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Processing tomatoes from our garden in order to make sauce.
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Italian Tomato Sauce
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Dicing ingredients for salsa

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Salsa with veggies from our garden!
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First time making an apple pie from scratch.
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It tasted heavenly.
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Restocked the freezer with the meat chickens we raised and butchered ourselves.
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A meal all from our own sources. Corn and potatoes from the garden and a chicken that we raised.

Replenish Your Mind

-It's important to haveotherI love my chickens. I never tire of watching them scratch for bugs or wander the pasture. They greet me when I open the gate to check their food and water. My hens each have a name and a special personality. They are my girls. My egg-laying hens are a big part of my hobby farm. My small farm isn’t only a hobby, its one of my creative outlets. It’s important to have other interests as writers that will unblock a bogged mind and bring peace to a busy heart.

My husband and I chose to sell our home in the city to buy land in the country. Country life suits me well. I tend to be wired, and my brain struggles to turn off. But when I work in my garden, take walks down the dirt road or through our woods, or sit in the pasture and hold my chickens, my heart calms and my mind settles.

In spring, we buy new egg-laying hens as baby chicks. My kids love this! I enjoy hearing the little chicksReplenish chirp. We also raise our own meat chickens twice a year and do the processing ourselves. It’s not for those with a weak stomach, but its great to know exactly what my children are eating. If our barn were built, I’d have goats, sheep, maybe a dairy cow, definitely some bunnies and basically anything my husband would let me have. I’m a sucker for animals. And it’s good because in nature I find inspiration and renewed creativity.

Writers need outlets to replenish their minds. We should have more than just our writing. Perhaps try painting, reading, sewing, community outreach, biking, running, whatever will energize you.

Sometimes, its helpful to simply change up the routine and write something different. I like to dabble in songwriting with my husband and script writing for my church. Recently, I wrote a script featuring Lucy and Ricky Ricardo for our church Christmas production called “Celebrate Christmas.” Not only did I write the I Love Lucy scenes, I also performed the role of Lucy and my husband played the role of Ricky. We had a blast doing it together.

These are some examples of my personal activities that keep me fresh and inspire my flow of creativity. If you don’t have any outlets, I encourage you to incorporate some new hobbies in your life. What sounds fun to you? Do that! It doesn’t have to be anything huge. My kids and I have dance parties in our living room almost every day. It’s a riot and makes me laugh! Enrique Iglesias’s song “Bailando” never gets old, and neither does my need to refuel.

So what about you? What’s replenishing your mind?

****Today, this article was also featured on the Breathe Writer’s Conference site: http://breatheconference.com/home/category/featured-articles