Sunday, July 26, 2015

Working Hard on the Homestead

In March of this year, I took on the roll of Clarke County Farmers Market President, just in case I thought I might have some spare time on my hands.  Our local farmers market is fairly small, averaging about ten vendors per market, but they are all enthusiastic about their products and love to talk to our customers about how they are produced.  And more than that, they are a community of friendly neighbors who work together, help each other and want to make the market an awesome place to be.  I have so enjoyed getting to know these people better, introducing some new things this summer, such as partnering with local fitness groups and dietitians and being a part of a statewide scavenger hunt for school aged children through Iowa Farm to School. 

11 puppies

At about this same time, hubby managed to cut his hand so badly at work that they sent him to the hospital for stitches, we were trying to look for homes for 11 puppies and we were finishing re-siding the house and two other buildings.  Needless to say, between hubby's already busy work schedule and injury, I did a lot more work myself on the siding than I expected. 

wild violets

In April and May the farm was starting to look more like spring.  Flowers started blooming, we received all our new chicks and ducklings and our new trees began to arrive.  The kids were great helpers getting the boxes ready for the new little birds.  Unfortunately, due to several different circumstances, we lost most of the babies early on.  We still have a few new chicks and one new duck though.  The kids were pretty upset, but it was a learning experience for all of us.  Luckily the older chickens are still happy, healthy and producing more eggs than we can eat.  (They have been big sellers at the farmers market!)

Towards the end of May we discovered our first ripe strawberries in the garden!  The strawberries were followed by wild black raspberries, mulberries, red raspberries and black currants.  All the rain and sunshine helping the fruit to ripen was also helping the weeds grow like crazy.  It didn't take long for the kiddos to be tired of helping mom pull weeds in the garden.  And I have to admit, I wasn't so keen on pulling any more weeds either!
 It seemed like, no sooner had we gotten our new cherry and peach trees into the ground that we were hit with a pretty big storm.  On June 24th there were sever thunderstorms, large hail, strong winds and funnel clouds.  Many throughout central and southern Iowa experienced damage to their property.  We lost a large apple tree (the kids favorite one, of course!) and several limbs fell off others.  Our small trees were untouched though, thank goodness!!

fallen apple tree

This is where the summer gets really fun!  For nearly three weeks, my mom, stepdad, their two kids and my niece were here to replace the roof on the house.  Hubby and I helped as we were able, but the work was nearly all done by my parents and kids ages 7 and up (the 3 and 4 year old would have loved to be up on the roof too...)  No one can quite tell a story like my stepdad, so here is an excerpt from an email he wrote about the experience:

"MAN, was that ever a project.  Got'r done in two weeks flat though... Had to use a lot of child labor to get it done.  Debra ran the "all child roofing demo and shingling crew" pretty much non-stop from 8 am till 9 pm, with short breaks in between.  That's the problem with kids . . . you have to stop to feed them.  Ages 7 (Addy), 9 (Lily), 12 (Natalie), 13 (Nicolas), and 16 (Kaci).  Good thing the child labor laws are fairly lax in Iowa.  (They all did wonderful, with a little complaining from time to time.)  I was in charge of initial damage assessment, equipment and material procurement, general project oversight, deck rehabilitation and rafter tail repair.  The work project (after planning and material procurement) took 13 full days, hard labor with one day off in between.  I personally packed 122 shingle bundles (60# a whack), up a ladder to the top of the roof on my shoulder (thats 7,320# total).  Nicolas and I unload (by hand) the first half of the removed shingles from a flat bed trailer in over 100 degree temps.  I estimated it would take "an hour or two", but it took over five hours and we must have drank over 5 gallons of water.  Total tonnage off loaded:  4.8 tons.  Debra worked with the other kids on top of the roof in the 100 degree heat and high humidity to proceed with demo of the remaining shingles (two layers deep).  It was a great weight loss program.  I lost 8 pounds in two weeks!  Back down to my high school wresting weight.  Now that's what I call a vacation baby."

It now feels like we have a few major projects to cross off the list... But they are quickly replaced by new projects.  

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