Saturday, August 29, 2015

August Monthly Moos {Landscaping - And It's Not Pretty Yet}

Can you believe that we completed our house and moved in two years ago this month?

And even crazier than that, can you believe that we are just now doing our landscaping?  Of course in the mean time we did build a garage/work shop for Eldon.  And finish a number of odds and ends in the house like the upstairs built ins, the downstairs closets, the bathtub tile surround in the master bathroom.  And on and on.

So, here is a little update on what is going on outside the house!  

After a lot of thought and consideration we agreed that on the back porch we wanted railing.  The back of the house just needed something to dress it up a bit and we decided that railing would do it.  I had in my mind that we would just purchase some vinyl railing from Home Depot and pop it up in a day!  But, nope.  

Eldon built gorgeous railing out of treated wood that will (hopefully) stand the test of time.  Of course the real reason I wanted vinyl was so that I wouldn't have to paint!  I'm kind of tired of painting.

My personality is such that if I have something dreaded to do I want to just do it and get it over with.  I can't stand thinking about it.  But Eldon made me wait to start painting as the treated wood needed to cure for a couple months.  So I'm actually kind of excited to finally be painting.  But it's going slow as I'm using an oil base primer and paint so there is a lot of time spent waiting for it to dry.  

And of course as I'm painting I'm thinking things like this, "Wow.  Those pillars are already looking kind of bad. I probably should paint them again.  And the blue porch ceiling that didn't turn out to be as blue as I wanted?  I really should re-do that in a darker shade."  Goodness.    So far I have resisted!  

Anyway, the painting is slowly coming along and I'm loving it.  I think the railing on the porch added just the perfect touch.  

In the mean time, Eldon began bringing in loads and loads of back fill.  Because of our house being on the hill, we have a lot of slopes that had to be built up and leveled.  We sill have a slope down to the garage, which is what we wanted but making it more of a gradual slope instead of an incline required A LOT of dirt.  Luckily we had an area on our farm that has good dirt that actually needed to be moved.  And we have tractors and a dump truck!  Somehow I missed a picture of Eldon bringing dirt and working it.  Could be that it was because it was in early August which is our dry season and all I saw for days and days was a cloud of dust.  

Once we were happy with the slope, then the leveling began.  And the raking and fine tuning of dirt moving.  

Then the talk of the flower beds.  Keep in mind there is still a fairly good slope, which will always be there and we don't want our flower beds on a slope.  So then the talk of retaining walls started.  It's just too much for me to understand!  My only input was that I wanted flowers beds, not grass, right up to the house as mowing and string trimming really make the white house dirty (and I'm already thinking I need to paint again)!  So.... flower beds in the places next to the house and grass next to the porches and the retaining walls.   We laid out the line of the retaining wall with string and did a lot of level testing to get it just right.  

And before Eldon started digging for the footers for the wall, we laid it on the ground to get a look and make sure we liked it.  

Then Eldon got started.  

He's meticulous about things being straight, square and level.  So a lot of calculating and adjusting going on.  

Drain pipe and fabric barrier has been going in as he works his way down.  (The fabric barrier lays up again the block to keep dirt from washing through.)

This is the lowest part of the flower bed so therefore the highest part of the wall.

I'm starting to love it.  It doesn't have to be painted!  

I took this picture at a low point so it is hard to get the real picture, but the top of the wall is actually just a couple inches below the bottom of the house and the top of the porch concrete.  It doesn't look it here, but promise me it is!   There is a "cap" that goes on the wall when Eldon is finished and then it will be level with the bottom of the house and the top of the porch concrete.  

And then it will be topped off with top soil so I can spend all winter designing my beds!

Eldon will duplicate the wall on the other side of the back porch so that it matches.  Although that side doesn't have near the slope so it will be a much easier job.  At least it seems that way to me!  

In other farm news, we are weaning all of our darling spring calves.   I'm happy to say that they are doing great and our first year Heifer Momma's did a good job of letting their babies go.  The bawling only went on for two days this time.  (If you've never experienced the crying calf and the bawling Momma at weaning time... consider yourself lucky.  It's sort of pitiful.)  

The flower garden is still blooming.  My daughter and I are still swamped keeping the flower stand stocked and orders filled.  It's been a spectacular and fun-filled summer.   (If you missed my post on our Flower Farm you can read it here.)

Thank you again to all my faithful readers that never give up on my writing... even when I feel I have nothing to share and I let weeks go by without sharing.  I do write a lot of posts in my head!  

 I plan to be back next week with a fun give-away so don't miss it!

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Farmhouse Tablecloth

I've been on the look for quite awhile for a simple, everyday tablecloth for my round dining room table.   I have several tablecloths that I use for company when I have the table pulled open to its full length.  And I even have some very favorite vintage tablecloths that fit it when it is closed to the round size, but they are vintage and special and I don't really like using them for everyday. 

I was totally fine sewing it myself, but the problem is that I didn't really find the fabric that was what I had in mind.  And I was set on something Farmhouse!

About a month ago, a blogging friend wrote a post entitled, "Five Favorite Farmhouse Fabrics".  My daughter read it first and called me to tell me to look at it.  One of the fabrics she talked about was grain sack, which was exactly what I was wanting.  But have you ever priced the real grain sack fabric on ebay?  Pretty much way over my budget for a "use everyday" tablecloth!

But this fabric, offered through Decor Steals (here), is a reproduction.  And it is totally perfect!

It comes in blue, red, or tan stripes.  I chose tan because I wanted it to blend with the colors in my dining room curtains.  

It also goes very well with the shades on the light above the table.

The fabric is a nice weight and the texture is very much grain sack!  It's actually kind of hard to believe it is a reproduction.  

The fabric comes in 3 yard lengths, which is the perfect length for an eight foot table.   The  long edges are finished, so all you need to do is hem the ends.  Since I wanted mine for the small round table, I only used 2 yards of the fabric, so I'm excited to have a yard left for another project.  

The very best thing of all?  Stains come out so easily and it doesn't need ironing!  Straight from the dryer to the table, wrinkle free!  My favorite kind of tablecloth.

It fits just fine with my modern, bright colored Fiesta Ware dishes.

And with my vintage 80's Fiesta Ware.

It's totally perfect and I love it.  

(Flowers courtesy of our flower garden - the happiest place on the farm these days!)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

July Monthly Moos {Flower Farming}

Wow!  How did I miss a Monthly Moos post in June?  Could it be because of this... our flower garden?  Keeping us very happily occupied?

I shared with you last year in July about our little honor system farm stand (here) and the idea that my daughter and I were pursuing of growing cut flowers and selling on the farm stand.

I don't think I ever let you know here on my blog how it actually went!   Our little cart got all kinds of attention, the word spread, and before we knew it we were selling every bouquet we could make from our tiny little flower garden.

We learned a lot about marketing our product.

We came up with a great system for getting our bouquets from the garden to the flower cart without spilling even a drop of water!

We rented our flower cart out to a wedding... full of beautiful flowers!  (In the pouring rain, no less.)

We got very good at whipping out 15 to 20 bouquets at a time.  On a folding table in the middle of the garden!

Summer passed and we decked our cart out for Fall and continued to sell flowers until the first freeze came the end of October.

This winter my daughter and I had a long discussion about the next flower season.  We had a big planning session where we decided to expand the size of our garden.  We ordered our seeds, made a huge master plan of  succession planting and what and when we would plant.

Spring came and Eldon did the tilling and hilling.  Justus helped with the layout.  Andrea and I and the little girls did the planting.

And the plants grew.  And we weathered disappointments of no rain, infestation of Aphids, deformed Zinnias, weeds that grew right before our very eyes, and seeds that didn't come up.

But the plants kept growing and beautiful blooms began forming.

Eldon and Justus built us an awesome open air work shed so we can work on our bouquets out of the sun.  And the little girls have a place to hang out and play while we are working in the garden.

The boys help us by keeping the walk ways mowed and string trimmed.  Andrea and I do the hand weeding in the rows themselves.

We've learned the personalities of the many varieties of sunflowers and which ones work for bouquets and which ones don't.

Our second succession of planting is up and doing well.

The little girls play with bugs, butterflies and their dolls!  And Belle, our farm dog,  keeps all of us company.

And every morning, when the dew is on the ground and the morning mist is still in the air, we meet at the flower garden to make the bouquets that fill our cart for the  customers that keep coming to buy our beautiful flowers!

We provide flowers for different events in the area and we even have a reserved box on the back of our stand for those that call ahead and place an order for the day.  And all of this is operated on the honor system.

I think it is safe to say that we really and truly are Flower Farmers.  It is a joy to provide beautiful farm fresh flowers straight from our garden to the homes of people that love them.

Someone recently asked us how we ever leave the garden.  She said, "It would be my happy place and I would just live there".  And we just about do!