Archive for the ‘Country Living’ Category

To Outsmart a Guinea

November 15, 2009

This morning I got up at 6, poured a cup of coffee, lit a fire in the fireplace (the heat isn’t working right now and it was a bit chill in the house this morning- the first fire of the season is always so lovely.) So i enjoyed my coffee, got on-line for a bit, and then made breakfast for myself and Uncle Tim, keeping my eye on the clock, knowing that I had to milk around 7:30. TOTALLY FORGETTING that today I was on my own with no one else to help feed and water and tend to all the animals! Needless to say I was a little late getting started. I found that you have to have a system to feeding, especially when grain or cat food is involved. You see, we have 40+ guineas that roam the farm like a school of fish, and they have decided that they LOVE grain! So much so that they will swarm the feed bowls prohibiting any other animal to eat. And they know the feeding schedule! So, this morning I began to out-fox them. I scattered scratch (chopped corn bits) on the driveway and raced to the barn to feed the cats. Then over to the milking pen where I fed the kids their grain and milked Fawn. This was a new routine for the guineas so they stayed busy on the road. After taking care of the milk – she gives a quart of milk twice a day, I brought hay to the three goat pens, fed the chickens, and grained the other goats. I think the trick is to vary the schedule so the guineas don’t catch on.


These are guineas. Quite ugly, don’t you think? Their claim to fame is that they will rid your yard of bugs – especially ticks, so I’ve heard, so they are a popular farm bird. I think they’re cool – so unusual looking – almost prehistoric. And I love the noise they make – Very loud and obnoxious. They call to each other and wander the property in a flock.

After feeding and watering all the animals, I weeded another garden box to plant tomorrow and watered the garden and greenhouse. Oh, and I finally finished turning the compost pile today! (five more to go!)

This afternoon while I was out watering the blueberry bushes, I was watching a small goat that has had me concerned. I wormed her yesterday because she was thin and just didn’t seem right. Well, while I watched – down she went! So I carried her to an enclosed area and gave her her own hay, grain and water and I’ll be keeping a close eye on her. She seemed better this evening. I think perhaps, because she’s one of the smallest goats, that she hasn’t been getting her fair share of the food. I’ll keep her isolated for awhile and see if I can nurse her back to health.

I love being here at the farm. I love the full days of good hard work! The only drawback is that I’m too tired to scrap when the day is done.

No mouse yet – Master bath is clear.


A Mouse in the House!

November 14, 2009

There’s a mouse in the house! As if I didn’t have enough to do! Bob is trying to convince me that it’s probably just a “field mouse.” I’d like to believe him – the “R” word gives me the heebie jeebies. So now, on top of everything else I am on a Mouse Hunt. That means… every drawer, every cabinet, every hiding spot (and believe me, there are PLENTY!) has to be gone through until I find this critter! The big question though, is… What do I do when I find it?! Obviously I want it OUT! But I can’t use poison – too many other animals that could happen across it, and I don’t think I could deal with a trap. The end result of a trap is either a dead rodent, or one still squirming. EEEWWW. Oh!     Did I mention that my husband and boys have left for the weekend on a camping trip??!! What about the RA… mouse?! All I can say is – it had better leave on its own, stay hidden or the dogs/cats better get it!

Please Lord, give me patience.. And give it to me NOW! That’s me. There is so much to do around here – and I want it all done TODAY!! But I’m just going to have to take things “one bite at a time.”

Today I:

  • cleared out a 4X4 square foot garden box
  • planted carrots
  • brought in a wheelbarrow load of firewood from the pasture after Bob cut down several trees
  • worked on a compost pile
  • and all the other various tasks that go along with being a mom: cooking, cleaning, laundry, more cleaning…

And I LOVE it!

PS – My daughter in moving to France for 3 months – how cool is that?!

OH! And low and behold, I finished a layout that I found buried under 3 inches of dust on my scrapbook table that I started.. years? ago. If you know me, you know i take a terribly long time to make even the simplest of layouts. But here it is. (Dial-up don’t fail me now!)

Letter from Pres Reagan

Reagan too

The letter from the White House reads:
Dear Mr. Riehl:
I was delighted to learn about your “Woolies” and the good they are doing for the youth of your community.  This great country of ours was built through the dedication, faith, and hard work of individuals, and it continues to flourish today because those same qualities are alive and well in people like you.  I applaud your achievements and wish you many more years of happiness and fulfillment.
Knowing that you are ill, Nancy and I will keep you in our thoughts and prayers.  God bless you.

Ronald  Reagan


My journaling reads:

We had a beautiful memorial service for my dad in our backyard in upstate N.Y.  Just as we finished, the mailman delivered this letter, addressed to my dad, from the then, President of the United States of America, Ronald Reagan. What an honor!
Years later I decided to finally scrap the letter, and went to my local scrapbook store to find suitable papers. While there, I shared the story with Jennifer, the owner of Scrapbook Studio.
“Would you like photographs of President Reagan’s funeral?” another customer asked me.  She was visiting from Virginia, had attended the former President’s funeral processional and had overheard my conversation. This wonderful stranger took my information, and to my absolute surprise, months later I received, not only Great pictures, but the announcement as well.  And now, here I am again, more years later, finally getting it down on paper.     Nov 2009

How Do You Eat An Elephant?

November 13, 2009

OMG. (OH MY GOSH!)  We made it and just look at the mess! So, how do you eat an elephant?  …One bite at a time. I sure am missing my daughter right now.   She’s amazing.  She has this supernatural gift for cleaning and organization.  Me?  NO WAY! I take one look at a room that’s in desperate need of cleaning and de-cluttering and I’m exhausted just looking at it.
It takes me forever just to figure out where to begin. In the time it takes me to begin, my daughter is almost finished. She has this knack of jumping in and getting it done in no time! Not only has she cleared every clutter pile, but she’s put everything in it’s place, the whole room sparkles and between disinfectant and candles she makes it all smell delicious too!  I don’t know how she does it or where she gets her gift from, but it’s nothing short of miraculous!

Here’s what I’m dealing with now:

Picture 011

And that’s just my bedroom!

So we made it to the farm. And three hours later I’ve managed to pull up my Blog 😉 Yes, this will be quite the challenge!  So today, my goals are:


  • to unload and unpack
  • to begin digging out my scrapbook table (Yes, the table here is as buried as the one in town!)
  • I’ve already done the morning milking
  • to begin a compost pile

Well, not exactly a pile – a “kitchen compost”, which I’ll take outdoors as the container fills and add to my outdoor compost pile.  If you don’t already do this, it’s a great way to build up your soil – even if you don’t garden.  Do you have houseplants?  Let me tell you, houseplants LOVE a boost of coffee grounds and eggshells and I’ve been told that it does wonders for roses too!  Another benefit is the savings – with your own compost you’ll no longer have to buy “Miracle Grow” for a mid-season pick-me-up.

So here’s what to do: find a suitable container. I’m using a plastic container with a lid. Anything works well – a bowl, large coffee can, a pot.. I prefer something with a lid so as not to attract flying critters (esp fruit flies)  Then fill it with all your organic kitchen material:

  • coffee grinds
  • eggshells
  • potato, carrot and other veggie peelings
  • hair
  • banana, orange and apple peels
  • nut shells
  • corn cobs and husks
  • stale bread
  • even non-meat products that have been in the fridge too long

Really, you’re only limited by your imagination! The only things that you should NOT compost are:

  • fats and oils
  • meat products
  • feces


Add to your container/pile little by little each day and soon you’ll have wonderful, rich compost! Now excuse me while i go outside to turn the pile I have working.



A New Journey Begins

November 12, 2009

Well, I’m off to the farm – off to dial-up internet. It’ll be interesting to see how that goes – I have enough trouble getting my blog right with high-speed connections!

Here’s a page I did for a circle journal months ago…


The picture flips up to reveal this journaling…



I’m ready to move to the farm.  As much as I love my house in town, it’s just too much work keeping 2 houses going – not to mention the expense! It took quite awhile to make this decision but when we are able to spend a few days at the farm it’s so encouraging to see how much Bob and I get done in a short time – it makes me believe that we could really make the farm beautiful if our time wasn’t so divided.  I love being there in the early mornings when it’s cool and foggy.  I love being there to milk the goats twice a day, and brush them and play with the kids.  I love working in the garden and watering the blueberry bushes.  I love building compost piles and burning brush and sitting by the fire at night.  I love gathering eggs and incubating guineas.  I love beekeeping and hearing the sound of the roosters crowing. I love the quiet, and I love our new cow, Lilly.  Having said all this, and having reached my decision, I know that right now I can’t move to the farm…   Because My Children Are Townies!  They don’t like the farm. They have jobs in town. They go to school in town and their friends are in town.  They love subdivisions & movie theaters, high-speed internet, WiFi, and the Mall.   Sigh… One day I’ll be a farmer.  But for now…  I’m a townie too.

Log Splitter, Fencing Domino and Fall Sq. Ft. Gardening

November 2, 2009

This morning my husband asked my opinion about whether we should one day purchase a gas or an electric log splitter. Given our present financial situation I told him that it wasn’t anything that we could even begin to consider, and of course, he knew that – but was contemplating it for one day when things were looking up – perhaps after he’d been at the new job for awhile. I suggested that maybe in a few years we could think about it. 

We made a run to the farm today. It was a planned trip – the chickens needed layer pellets and I had a crockpot stew made for Tim, along with some other things. Just before we left Timmy called us to tell us that Domino, our  2 year old, 160 lb billy goat, was jumping the fence.  Well, not actually jumping, rather, climbing over the 4 foot field fence, and visiting all our other goats. There’s really no reason for him to do this; he lives in a nice pen with one or two of his wives who change periodically depending on breeding times.  But off we went to remedy the situation.

 On the way to the farm we happened to stop at a garage sale. Don’t you just love them! We don’t go very often, but I’m always on the lookout for scrapbooking items: ribbon, buttons, stamps… anything to use on my pages. I looked at Mason jars (which were overpriced), and bought a crock pot for $5.00, while Bob tested out, believe it or not,  an electric log splitter! Yup, that’s my God! Needless to say we now own an excellent machine which will save us all alot of work!  And after considering it more carefully (I really hadn’t given the situation any thought before) I realized that neither my son nor Uncle Tim would be able to chop wood this winter, both recovering from surgeries, and even if it were possible, there’s always the consideration of the dangers involved: flying axes, chipped wedges.. This log splitter was absolutely a blessing from God!

Once at the farm the first order of business was to hot wire the fence, which Bob did very quickly, much to Domino’s Wiring the fence

 I cleared out two square foot garden boxes that had become quite overgrown, but that’s the beauty of square foot gardening – it’s very easy to weed and clear.  Generally I grow my own transplants from seed, but because of the decision to live temporarily at the farm I was unprepared to garden there, (all my transplants went into my gardens here in town), so we traded newly incubated guinea fowl for vegetable transplants at our local feed store. Today I planted: cabbage, broccoli, and several types of lettuces.


Here are some pics of my spring gardens in town:

SQ Ft Garden Spring 2009







While I was planting, Bob fixed the tractor and loaded it onto the trailer to bring into town to move around the excess dirt in the backyard from the digging of the swimming pool. Then he cut down a couple trees for the goats to eat and fixed fences. Phew! Another fast and furious day at the farm!


Grinding wheat and baking bread

October 31, 2009

I’m feeling a little guilty because I’m bailing on my husband tonight to drive 2 hours to see MercyMe in concert! He’s outside right now finishing the concrete around the pool and it wouldn’t be so bad, but it’s really HOT out – and humid! 85 and 65% humidity – which doesn’t sound too bad, but I’m hot and miserable here in the AC, so he must be too! 🙂  Browsing blogs today I see lots of snow out west and it makes me think of soups, stews, cozy fireplaces, and fresh bread baking.  Which made me blow the dust off my bread maker,

 open up a new bucket of wheat,







 break out my grinder, IMG_0764






IMG_0768find my favorite recipe and if worse comes to worse, my husband can enjoy a “Heidi” dinner: fresh bread, butter and delicious goat’s milk.

Here’s my favorite breadmaker recipe, taken from “The Breadman’s Healthy Bread Book” by George Burnett:




makes one  1 1/2 pound load

1 cup plus 2 TBSP water

1 1/2 TBSP flaxseed or canola oil

1/2 tsp liquid lecithin   (what’s that?)

3 cups whole wheat flour – (I use 2 cups ww and 1 cup white flour so it’s a little lighter)

1/2 cup whole flaxseed  (I use a little less to make it go further)

2 TBSP gluten flour

3 TBSP powdered whey  (I substitute milk powder)

1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt

2 tsp active dry yeast

Put all the ingredients in the inner pan in the order listed, or in the reverse order if the manual for your machine specifies dry ingredients first and liquids last.  Select Basic Wheat Cycle, Light setting. Push start.