Here we are, the last of the last! It just doesn't seem possible.
A year ago tonight we were covered in deep snow here at Calamity Acres, and Keith and I were wearing ourselves out carrying warm water to the henhouses, and to the llamas. Thank heavens we now have the pump at the henhouse, and so far this winter, it has worked like a charm.
(This obviously isn't the deep snow... but an example of the hordes of starlings)
Then, in February, we got it.
But February snow led to March and April garden planning.
And Abby was glad to help!
I got a bunch of new chicks from Heartland Hatchery at our feed store... Welsummers, Wyandottes, Old English Gamebirds, Mille Fleur d'Uccles, and a lone Seabright.
And this guy got about half of them:
Until Rocky the Rooster fought him to a standstill and we took the hawk to Operation Wildlife.
We had some unfinished projects that we need to get back to next year:
The west side deck.
This summer was particularly hard, as it got terribly hot for weeks, after flooding in Missouri and Kansas that changed the lives of thousands of people. Keith spent a good part of the summer going back and forth to Northern Kansas to the small towns of Elwood and Atchison because of their flooding concerns.
At home, the llamas learned how to cool themselves off:
And so did Ranger
Eventually, the heat began to dissipate. With the vegetables we grew in our garden, we made this
Jars and jars, in fact.
I made my first chevre, and have made several batches since. I am not making it this dry, it "scoops" on the crackers better, and is sooooo good!
In May, we lost Jenny, the apple of Keith's eye, to feline parvo after literally months and months of vet visits. Two days later, we lost Josie out the front door, never to be found. I am catless for the first time in thirty years, as we cannot bring a cat into the infected-with-parvo house for many months to come.
But in August, Keith's daughter Andrea and her beau Nick were married in Mexico, and Keith was able to attend:
and in September came Baby Jace, to Amber, Keith's younger daughter, and her husband Jesse
And Keith turned into "Papaw" right before our very eyes!
As the heat dissipated, we had lots of visits from children, grandchildren, and their friends.
And then summer turned into fall
The last of the tomatos were canned into preserves.
And leaves fell as the farm prepared for winter.
The holidays came
(A quiet Thanksgiving with just the two of us and the thrift store curtains)
Our party on the 17th, notice what
Keith PAPAW is doing.
And here it is the end of the year already.
We have had several long talks about next year this week while I have been on vacation.
In 32 weeks, I will be retired, God willing, to stay home and take care of our place here and the animals and gardens. Keith will continue working a few more years.
In the coming months, we are going to finish the side deck and the big new henhouse. After those are finished, some very needed repairs will be made to the big henhouse. We will build a small 4 sided barn - a simple pole barn, so that we can have two ponies again after I retire. Likewise, we are going to get two wethered goats for brush control in the pasture, as I discovered last week that there is a large patch becoming overgrown with weeds and blackberry canes down there.
Another thing we did this year was run water to the new henhouse /garden area, and activated the pump at the door of the big henhouse. These two things saved us hours of heavy hose-dragging in the heat of the summer, and ARE saving hours of bucket carrying from the house to the outer waterers right now.
The year after next, we are going to build an "outdoor kitchen" near the deck, which will actually be an enclosed, stand alone building. It will hold an extra refrigerator and stove, and we will move the big freezer from the workshop to this building. It will have a portable sink, and hold the barbecue supplies and those things that we have no storage for in the house... things that we use only once or twice a year. This is something Keith has wanted for a while, so he is keeping busy planning it.
We WON'T be planting pickling cukes this year, as I am going to have to give away half of what we canned this year! We ARE going to learn to dehydrate, and make better use of our garden produce.
Chris and I will finish the garden bed we started in the heat of last summer. I won't be planting cypress vine next year, as it ate up a butterfly bush. Likewise the hyacinth beans that have done so well... I'll find a different place to put them than the arbor.
Keith will be planting lots of red potatos, they performed so very well.
Spinach, too, which I have learned to love.
Tomorrow begins a new year, and my third full year of blogging. I have made so many wonderful new blog friends, I have bought your products and listened to your advice. I enjoy reading all of your blogs, and have learned so very much from doing so. I hope we can all do this again in the years to come, and pray that everyone has a safe New Year, and a good start to 2012! God has been very good to us this year, and though we have a humble home, He has blessed us over and over. We hope He does the same to you in the coming year, and that we see you here often!