Saturday, May 12, 2018

Spend the Day with Me + Reflections on the May 5th Fire

For the "Spend the Day with Me" swap on Swap-Bot, the challenge was to share my day with three partners by taking photos of where I went and what I did.

Pictures are shown in chronological order and a description of what is being shown. An approximate time of day each picture was taken is noted. In other words, this is a photo journal of "a day in the life of me."

5:00 a.m.

Woke up around 5:00 a.m. thinking about last Saturday (May 5th) and the fire that we had here. I thought about all the things in the hobby shed that were books that I used to read to the girls when they were little.

As I went through the rubble on Sunday, May 6th, I came across a lot of art projects that the girls did, journals I had written from high school to the early-2000s, and a lot of things that are irreplaceable.

I reflected on how truly fortunate we were that the fire wasn't worse than it was. We still have a home (even though the siding on the south side is warped from the heat) and the horse barn is standing (though in need of major repair). The animals and all of us are safe and not injured.

What we lost were the two-story hobby shed, playhouse, many trees, and lots of other items (outdoor furniture, garden supplies, power tools, art supplies, etc.). The farm field across the street also had 14.1 acres of it burned because of flying embers in the wind that day

5:10 a.m.

I went downstairs and let the dogs out to go to the bathroom. Put Danny in a coat because it was a bit chilly this morning. Walked him to the mailbox/paperbox and got the Saturday paper; and then walked back inside to have a cup of hot chocolate.

Read the paper in bed and worked more on the content loss list for the insurance company.

7:30 a.m.

Went downstairs about 7:30 a.m. to feed the dogs. Danny and Scooby eat in the kitchen; and Aspen and Cooper eat in the living room. Danny and Scooby have a maze feeder and tray since they eat their food too quickly.

7:40 a.m.

I let the dogs back outside. This was the view looking at the barn - kind of a view to the southeast.

This is a closer look at the horse barn.

This is the view looking west. Sophia and I put up the temporary fence with the woven wire and t-posts. We got some compliments on it from people who were here with various companies doing repair work and from the insurance adjusters. 

I plugged the air cleaners back in since I turned them off while I ate breakfast and fed the dogs.

They are very loud, yet they are cleaning the air since we have light smoke damage throughout the first level of the home because of the fire. 

8:00 a.m.

Sophia, Olivia, and I left to go the Shepherds Harvest Festival in Lake Elmo. We go there every Mother's Day weekend. We saw an eagle and egrets on the way there. 

8:45 a.m.

This year, Olivia and I took a Saori weaving class. We picked out which loom we wanted to work on.

Each one had different colors of yarn.

We did the weaving class last year and enjoyed it, and wanted to take it again. While we were doing that, Sophia walked around and looked at what the vendors were selling in three of the buildings and ended up reading for an hour.

9:00 a.m.

After a refresher about how to use the loom, we began weaving.

10:00 a.m.

I chose to use a combination of purple, green yellow, and orange yarn with my weaving. There was a variety of colors of sheep wool that I added in different spots.

11:00 a.m.

Olivia's style of weaving is much different than mine. She stuck with the same color (black) for her weaving. It highlighted the variety of the yarn that was used in the other direction.

12:00 noon

The Saori weaving class ended at noon. Olivia tied the end of her weaving at the class and finished her scarf. 

I tied one of the sides of my weaving and left the other to finish at home.

12:15 p.m.

We all had lunch together in the 4-H building. One of the clubs was making and serving food. From the look of the number of people eating there, they probably did very well with raising money for their club.

After lunch, we explored the festival together. 

There were brightly-colored skeins of yarn.

Other vendors sold colorful shades of roving.

We saw angora rabbits, and we pet them. They were very soft.

Sophia found some unusual products at the Festival. Since she had a lot of time on her hands while we were taking the class, she clearly looked closely at each booth to find these products.

The girls enjoyed looking at jewelry.

As a mother, what I liked seeing was the girls walking arm-in-arm with one another as they explored the Festival. They have a great relationship which I am thankful for.

We went to visit the young yaks.

We saw a llama who was very friendly.

There were lots of sheep. I especially enjoyed seeing the lambs.

We found a vendor who had a display about flax. I've never seen flax and what it looks like when it is spun and used for weaving into fabric.

Nearby, there was another vendor who had beautiful sheep wool that had been dyed in bright colors.

You could pick and choose what colors you wanted.

We watched someone demonstrate how to take different colors of wool and card them together to create roving/little batting of  a new blend of shades of wool.

2:15 p.m.

We came home after the Festival and everyone (except me) left to see a movie. I had some time to relax.

I put outside the two bins holding some charred papers that I was able to save from the fire last week, keeping the lids over them, but ajar. They are still damp from the water from the firemen's hoses, so I am keeping the lid open on the bin and the other one so the papers don't get moldy. I need to either photograph or type what I wrote soon...and then let go of these bins of paper.

My throat is still bothering me from the smoke from last Saturday. The doctor who I saw on Wednesday suggested doing an albuterol treatment on my nebulizer if I was still having trouble. (I have asthma.) Today, no matter how much water I was drinking and cough drops I took, my throat still hurt.

Of course, with my luck, the nebulizer didn't work. 

3:00 p.m.

To take my mind off my throat, I finished tying the ends of the weaving I made earlier today.

I continued to work on the contents loss list.

4:00 p.m.

The service man for the riding lawn mower came by to see if he was able to fix the mower. This was a new company and I was hoping it was an easy fix. Ended up, he was not able to work on this particular make and model of riding lawn mower. 

So, now I have to figure out what to do since there are no mower service people around our area...or at least anyone who works on the type of mower we have. It may be time to invest in another one that is serviced locally.

5:15 p.m.

I fed the dogs dinner and heated up some leftovers for my dinner.

I let them out again, keeping Cooper on a leash since Bailey and Hoss hadn't been fed yet. Bailey, the horse, would tap on the metal gate with her hoof which would get Cooper barking. It was easier to keep him on a leash.

So, we walked around the backyard. The tulips are starting to emerge.

The apple trees have blossoms that are starting to open.

The plum tree has bright, white flowers.

Some of the pine trees have tiny pinecones.

After our walk, we were back by the back door. The girls made stepping stones when they were young, and we have them where we can see them each time we go in and out of the backyard to the driveway and car.

6:00 p.m. 

I continued working on the content loss list. This is one of the most time-consuming projects I've had to do. This is just itemizing items lost in the shed, playhouse, barn, yard, and pastures. I can't imagine having to do a content loss list for a home.

8:30 p.m.

Still working on the content loss list. There's not much to look at, so I'll just put a photo here of the hobby shed smoldering last week. Sophia and I were gone at a class about 35 minutes from here. By the time we got back home, this is the view that we saw.

This is a slightly different angle taken during the winter, but the two-story shed and playhouse are to the right in the picture below. They are the buildings that burned in the photo above.

Within 15 minutes of coming home, an ember (or embers), set one of the trees on fire in the pasture.

It ended up re-igniting later in the evening on the 5th along with another fire. Had to call the fire department back to put out those fires.

8:45 p.m.

One of our neighbors called. He was one of our next door neighbors who called in the fire. He also used to be a firefighter and he came here to turn off the propane tank (about ten feet from the shed), get the horses secured in a pasture away from the fire, and moved the car (which was melting). He put out several smaller fires that threatened the house.

We talked tonight about the car. He said that car fires burn a lot hotter, and had the car not been moved, we most likely would have lost our house.

We talked about the weather - how it was nice and warm last Saturday and so much cooler today. Most likely, our neighbors would not have been outside like they were last week when they saw the hobby shed on fire. In fact, he said, they were in Madison yesterday and today. They just got back home.

So, had the fire happened this weekend...a week later...we could have lost the house, barn, and all of our animals.

Needless to say, we have much to be grateful for tonight.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Turkeys - Nature Journal Entry

For one of my February nature journal entries, I did a two-page spread about turkeys. I was seeing a lot of flocks of turkeys along the county highway which has been fun. The farmers were spreading manure and seed for them to eat.

About a week ago, I heard turkeys calling in the wooded area at the farm next door. They are getting closer to our farm! 

When I've taken the dogs for walks during the past month, I see turkey foot prints in the hardened mud - so I know they are all around this area.

They don't fan themselves out like this when they are eating. Their feathers are tight against their bodies. They look all brown from a distance.

Turkeys have between 5,000-6,000 feathers.

The "beard" is a tuft of coarse hair that is about nine inches long.

Male turkeys weigh between 11-24 pounds; and females are 5-12 pounds.

They prefer to live in hardwood and mixed conifer-hardwood forests. They like scattered openings - such as pastures, fields, orchards, and seasonal marshes.

They are agile flyers; and can find perches in trees. They fly close to the ground for up to a quarter mile.

Turkeys are omnivores. They eat acorns, nuts, hard mast of various trees, seeds, berries, roots, and insects. Sometimes they will eat amphibians, small reptiles (snakes and lizards). They look for seeds on farmland.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Book Review - Almost Amish

One of the books that was on my "Books I Want to Read" list was Almost Amish by Nancy Sleeth. The book had many principles and ideas that are already a part of my life thanks to my parents. On my dad's side of the family, there are both Amish and Mennonite ancestors.

That being said, there are some things I want to remember since they reflect what I either learned and/or wished I were a greater emphasis in our family (especially as they relate to the way the Amish manage their money):

Principles that guide Amish finances:
- Work hard. (Proverbs 13:4)
- Spend wisely. (Proverbs 21:20)
- Be honest in all dealings. (Proverbs 11:1.)
- Be prudent. (Luke 14:28)
- Don't become a slave to debt. (Proverbs 22:7)
- Save for lean times. (Genesis 41:35-36)
- Provide for your family, young and old. (1 Timothy 5:8)
- Give generously. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Amish proverbs:
- We live simply so others may simply live.
- Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without.
- Take all you want, eat all you take.

Appreciation of nature is a core Christian value, and central to the Amish way of life.

One of the first instructions in the Bible is for man to tend and protect the garden.

There's an emphasis on stewardship of the land.

Our tendency to focus on sedentary activities involving electronic media is separating us from nature. We are spending less time in parks, less time camping and hiking, and less time in unstructured outdoor play because videophilia is replacing biophilia.

Simplicity involves cutting back on two major kinds of stuff - the kind that fills our houses and the kind that fills our calendars....The Amish avoid both kinds of clutter. They don't fill their houses with lots of unnecessary things, and they don't fill their calendars running around from activity to activity.

Supporting small farms, patronizing small businesses, volunteering in local schools, getting to know our neighbors, and building a small faith community make our lives more simple and sane.

The Amish emphasize other kinds of education as well, including learning that goes on outside the classroom.

If you know your neighbors, you know their needs. And they know yours. You can help one another out. You have a support system. You don't have to go it alone.

Both the giver and the receiver get something back from the act of service. The more they give, the more they gain.

Daily interaction within the Amish community makes...isolation nearly impossible. When something goes wrong, the community is there to fill the gaps.

Service takes two forms: service to people we know and service to those we don't. The Amish engage in both.

It's no wonder that the Amish are so service oriented: they try to model their lives after the pattern set by Christ. It is he who is our highest example of service.

The Amish serve their children by doing the hard work of parenting, teaching them the skills and habits that will make them healthy spouses, colleagues, and neighbors. Instead of short-term distraction or coddling, they aim for long-term character and strength.

Through example, they show how caring for grandparents is a joy, not a burden. Likewise, service to neighbors and coworkers is treated more as an opportunity than an obligation. In acting kind, we become kind. In serving others, we are served.

Security comes from self-sufficiency, hard work, and careful stewardship of God's gifts.

Make ice cream "Sundays." Have pizza and movie night.

Having a regular time to wake up, do chores, pray, work, and go to bed also builds in security.

Build stability, routine, and tradition into [your] life:
- Encourage routine.
- Stay put. If you have a choice, don't move.
- Take responsibility.
- Set boundaries.
- Model stability in marriage, parenting, and friendship.

Intentionally seek out businesses located within a couple miles of your home that are not part of a chain and stop in at least once each week to learn about what they of.

Community is like an old coat - you aren't aware of it until it is taken away.

If you are not already a member of a church, visit those that are closest to your home. Once you commit to a church, see if they have a small group you can join.

Amish leisure....connects people to one another around the outdoors. It is almost always community oriented, revolving around family and friends.

Make an effort to attend local festivals, picnicking in the parks, and engaging in informal socializing are simple ways we can build community while having a good time.

Many of us can make choices to bring family together rather than allow jobs, schooling, and chance to separate us indefinitely.

Sharing meals is an act of intimacy. It creates bonds that are essential to preserving a healthy marriage and family life.

What makes Amish families different? They:
- live near each others.
- share meals.
- respect gender roles.
- expect children to be citizens of the family.
- honor the fourth commandment.

Amish saying: "A happy marriage is a long conversation that always seems too short."

JOY means Jesus first, Yourself last, and Others in between..

Take small steps toward an Amish-inspired life:
- homes are simple, uncluttered, and clean; the outside reflects the inside.
- technology serves as a tool and does not rule as a master.
- saving more and spending less brings financial peace.
- spending time in God's creation reveals the face of God.
- small and local leads to saner lives.
- service to others reduces loneliness and isolation.
- the only true security comes from God.
- knowing neighbors and supporting local businesses build community.
- family ties are lifelong; they change, but never cease.
- faith life and way of life are inseparable.

Jeremiah 6:16: "This is what the Lord says: 'Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.'"