We had a super productive week and it feels SO great!
Having most of the livestock gone, and thus a huge change in our daily responsibilities, has freed me up to work on a bunch of miscellaneous projects that kept being pushed to the back burner because of imminent other farm needs. I no longer have the cleaning, feeding, watering, milk processing, and dairy product making chores to do, which took up a lot of time each day. I barely have any gardening left. So all of a sudden I have extra time in my day.
In addition, it seemed that before, at least 4-5 days a week, we had someone coming by for something – to buy eggs, to borrow a tool, to drop off a kid to play, just to drop in for tea and to chat, etc. Well now no one can get here. While I enjoy our active social life, I must admit that it has been kind of cool to have a time in our lives where we are isolated and it is just us. Not that we aren’t going out at all, we are, just not as much, and no one is coming here. I look forward to having normal visitors again, but I am enjoying the peace and quiet for now, and using the time to get things done that have been put off too long.
Sewing and Knitting
I finished my son’s quilt! I have been working to make these 4 quilts for almost 4 years I think. The first 2 were done in the first 18 months. The third was completed about a year ago. And this last one has been hanging on for a while. My son has been so patient (for a 5-year-old), but mentions it at least once a week. So I finally finished it on Wednesday evening after the kids were in bed. I snuck in while he was sleeping and put it over him. In the middle of the night he woke up to use the bathroom and called to us “I need to go potty! And why is this quilt on my bed!?” (he thought it was his brother’s, because they look similar). When we told him it was his quilt and it was done he was so giddy. It was cute. Then first thing in the morning he came running into our bedroom, “THANK YOU MOMMY!” he yelled, throwing himself onto the sleeping lump in the bed that was me. “Thank you for finishing my quilt! I love it!” It was so cute, and made every stitch worth it. 🙂
I tackled the mending pile. It was kind of funny because my oldest daughter said, “Oh wow, you decided to start mending again, I thought you had just decided if anything got torn it could just go in the chore clothes from now on.” Ummmm, no my dear, I just haven’t had time. So I got the whole pile done. It included 3 patchings of holes in jeans, 4 letting-out of things to make them bigger, and 1 taking-in of big brother’s flannel pants to fit little brother. It felt so good to get that pile out of my life.
I finished the last of the cute fruit/veggie baby hats I was making for all the babies due this fall.
I finished harvesting all the herbs and have them all drying. I also finished harvesting the garden (a hard frost came this week along with some snow, so we needed to do it before that). We got 3 cabbages, Brussels’ sprouts, some lettuce, and the last of the pumpkins and squash. I looked it up and apparently if a squash or pumpkin is fully grown but not ripe and the frost comes or the plant dies you can put it in the sun in a warm location and leave it and it should ripen over time. If it isn’t fully grown it won’t work. So I picked 2 pumpkins (both I think are fully grown and just not ripe, even though they are small), 2 butternut squash (1 fully grown, 1 questionable), and 6 acorn squash (3 fully grown, 3 questionable) and put them all in the best sun in the house. We will see what happens. If the questionable ones start rotting I will just remove them, but it’s worth a try. But I think I should at least get a few that will ripen.
I am waiting for the strawberry leaves to start turning brown so I can mulch them and put them to bed for the winter. Interestingly, we will be trying pine needle mulch this year, simply because we can’t get straw because of the disaster. Our property is covered with pine needles. So we will use what we have and see how it goes. We have never tried pine needles before. Then the garden work will be completed for this year. So far, the strawberry plants are still green.
I also got the soap trimmed and wrapped. Back in August, my husband made a nice batch of soap (yes, he is the soap-maker in the family). They have been curing. Being the type-A personality that I am, I like to smooth and trim the edges before we wrap them in brown paper (which I cut to size from brown paper bags this year because that is what I had handy). So I did that. Then I use all the shavings from shaping them nicely and pressed them into a soap ball. Some of these will go into the homestead Christmas baskets, but most are for our own personal use. I think he is planning to make another batch here soon, too. I will try to blog the process.
Speaking of Christmas, my family has put in their requests for Christmas presents this year, and all of them are knit. I guess I will be knitting for the next 3 months. At least knitting is portable! So I got the supplies for the projects and have started in on that. I will be making a poncho, a sweater-vest, and 2 pairs of socks for the kids, and I can’t say what my husband is getting because he reads the blog. Don’t worry honey, it’s not a sweater ;-).I think it is fun that my kids still request things like hand-knit socks for Christmas.
My husband accomplished the enormous job of getting the rabbits home this week. I can’t even describe how big of a job this was, but he did it, and we are all so very thankful to him.
While they were gone, Arania had a litter of 7, Maple and Ebony were both bred again (third time’s the charm, right?), and Fuzz’s kits have reached weaning age.
So this weekend husband and son prepped the smaller growing out pen for the rabbits to start being weaned into it. We have always used rabbit cages for growing out, but now that we have 6 adults all our rabbit cages are full. If you remember, my husband built a multi-purpose/growing-out pen last winter that we first used to house the rooster because he was damaging one hen’s back, then we used it for chicks. Then, before the flood, he built our second multi-purpose/growing-out pen, and put the current chicks in it. So the rabbits will be going in the smaller pen and the chicks are still in the bigger one for this round.
It has been 3 weeks now since the flood and evacuation.
As far as our own personal recovery, we have the water system up and running. It involves a 175 gal tank (husband switched out the 150 to put on his truck and the 175 in what we are now referring to as the water room), and a pressure pump and hooks into our normal water lines for the house. So we have (limited) running hot or cold water at all our faucets. He put the 150 gal tank on his truck and is driving it in and out along the edge of a pretty scary (to me) section of road that is out so that we don’t have to haul it in with jugs.
Speaking of roads, no, there still isn’t road access (besides where people are driving through the woods and along the sides of roads that are gone and just making their own roads – like my husband). We still haven’t even seen any machines working on building the road access yet. From what we hear it is an issue of being able to get the culverts and supplies needed to fix the road. But our area and our road access is supposedly next on the list to be done, so we are hopeful it will be soon.
Heat is our current big stumbling block. Our house is mainly heated with propane. We do have two wood stoves, but there are quite a lot of water pipes that cannot be kept from freezing by the two stoves due to their location. So we need to get the heaters up and running before we get any major freezes or we have to drain the whole system and winterize it. We do have some propane in our tank, but not much. We usually get it filled at the beginning of October, so it was close to empty when the flood hit. And now, with no road access, we can’t get a propane truck in here to fill it. And my husband has contemplated, but says he can’t think of a way to bring any in with his truck (in small tanks or anything) and have it work for our system. We are so hopeful that they will get the road fixed in time so we don’t have to drain the system. It’s been cold in the sections of the house that are isolated from the stoves this week – even getting down to about 45 in some of them. But so far, not cold enough for freezing, thank goodness.
Now, on to the recovery happening as far as getting our utilities back on the grid. It is not looking promising for the winter. From what we have heard, they are going to try to run a temp water line and sewer line above ground and try to protect/insulate them for the winter and then do the real fixes in the spring. This is understandable, but quite risky because, with them above ground, they are very susceptible to freezing and line breaks. We have also heard that the water will have to be super-chlorinated at first because of the main break and bacteria potentially backing up into the pipes during the disaster and such. We are going to wait until that is all out of the system before we hook back up to it. And, as far as time-frame on these utilities, it is still unknown. They are saying possibly sewer will be done in two weeks.
We are glad that we are setting up to live totally off-grid, and we will leave it set-up even after we go back on-grid, so that if there are line breaks or problems this winter we can easily switch back to off-grid living, and not be severely effected by it. I have a feeling it is going to be a bumpy ride for our area this winter as far as the grid utilities go, and it will be such a blessing that we are set-up to go without it. We are also feeling like we need to get a generator because even though we currently have electric, a big snow could knock that out (as it has many times in the past) and with the infrastructure damage and so many areas inaccessible, who knows how long it could take them to get it back up (normally it is back up within a day). So that is our next goal – to get a generator.
New normal is starting to really settle in, and we continue to press on here at the little homestead in the Rockies.