Saturday, August 24, 2019

Bringing Dad Home

We are off!

Heading on an Alaskan adventure to move Dad home. I didn't get the trailer decorated but will before we come back.

Ah, the memories of moving up here a bit over 2 years ago.

Benny wanted to come with us, but not without Mommy.

This is my first post from the app. I will have to load photos later, they keep crashing.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Chickens, Kale, Watermelon....Gardens

This is it.

The day before some of us leave for two weeks.  This day was all about chickens and gardens....and a bit of packing.

Our wind had blown up a lot of plastic we put down in the garden earlier in the season. We replaced it. We put another layer of peat moss in the lasagna bed. We harvested kale....

This is the pile of stems/leaves. 

FINALLY - I realized I COULD move a table and use it and the hose as an outside garden produce cleaning area. So NICE not to have all the dirt and bugs in my sink at the end of this project. We ended up with a pile of stems and some yellowing leaves for the chickens. They DO love kale.

We had a big tub of kale leaves for US.....

We took them inside and began filling bags and vacuum sealing them...Krista showed up just in time to join us.....30 more quarts of kale for the winter. I left the main stalks in the garden so we may have some baby kale when we return. If it hasn't frosted.

Did I say chickens? She came to take a dust bath - and left behind our first egg from this year group. 

A tiny start....

A couple of mornings ago one of our hens was dead in the coop.

We have been waiting for Phoenix to start dominating the hens....and then we were going to introduce him to the mean girls. Well - they've actually been sharing a chicken yard for about 6 weeks.  He is finally showing interest in ruling the roost....

AND the bare bums haven't grown back on last year's chickens. We'd been warned they wouldn't survive the winter and their habits had become ingrained.....but we thought about it....and today, we took down the fence and let the two groups mingle.
The big fluffy ones are the "chicks" and the ones with missing feathers
are last year's group. 
 We sat in the middle of the chicken yard  and watched as it became apparent which hens were the mean ones. We did NOT want to cull any chickens - that means butcher in everyday speak.  😞 Our hope is that if we remove the aggressors, the others will regrow feathers before the winter is very cold....and the two flocks will integrate. Lucille snuck in and she seems to be doing well.  She spent most her time in between the two flocks.

Dove is our bravest in this year group. She eyes the inside....

She was the first of the younger ones to try out the nesting boxes.  Two of the mean girls climbed in and began mercilessly pecking her. I was mad enough I forgot to be scared and pulled them out. 

As we watched, we marked the hens which were more aggressive than simple pecking. We were surprised it was NOT , as we had suspected, the ones with feathers growing back that were the aggressors. It was the really bald ones. We think they've been fighting with each other when we weren't watching....anyway, we marked five that were being horrible to their year group and to the younger ones. We now have 5 hens in the freezer. I cried. It was hard and sad and yet....that means we now have 12 new chickens and 6 which went crazy last winter. I hope the dynamic changes out there. It already has in that we feel comfortable letting Lucille try the coop again. She misses the other girls. 

You may thank me for NOT taking a single picture of the sad proceedings. 

We planted squash in 4 different areas of the garden to see where it would grow best. This is the worst area....

With the lettuce, cabbage and kale gone...these beds now have beets and carrots. They should be just fine for a couple of weeks. 

You can see I didn't have enough starts to even fill half the garden spot....

Last week I cut out the center heads of broccoli. Sure enough - baby ones are starting all over...these should be a good size in a couple of weeks. 

Potatoes....I'm assuming they'll be fine too. 

This seems to be the best spot for squash. 

My lasagna bed. I hope to find time when we get back to start some more spots....we should have more brown layers then (fall leaves). 
The 3rd squash site....and our corn patch. I have EARS of corn forming....I didn't rip it all out even though the wind made a mess of it....we'll water and see what happens. LOL  It's all been one big experiment...

Stacia cut back tomato foliage....hoping that will help the sets to ripen. 

Michael fixes dad up with some suspenders....smh. 

I may never live THIS down....all the hard the watermelon 1/2 the greenhouse and THIS is my watermelon crop.  The vines were everywhere...climbing the walls, creeping out the door, blossoms were plentiful. 

I am finally calling it quits for this year. They have done this all season. TONS of vines, lots of blossom and sets...but when they get this size they simply fall off the vine. I have no idea WHY. I'm going to have to do some research about this over the winter. 

Dad hasn't stopped teasing me about my "watermelon crop." ::snort:: It doesn't seem quite fair because the garden is really producing more than any other garden we've ever had....just not melons. LOL

It's 10 p.m. and it's dark. I've been reminded when school and high school football begins - IT'S FALL!  There you have feels like fall, it looks like fall - it's fall. LOL  Maybe it will still be summer in Oregon. 

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Noses to the Grindstone

Shew! It's a lot of work to leave town. πŸ˜…

Dad's first paper was delivered - right to the top of our driveway.  It was a luxury not to have to drive to town for a paper.  I had thought about doing this when we returned from Oregon...but Dad signed up a couple of days ago.  I'm learning to make a mean cup of Folgers so I guess he's content to get the paper here now. Some days I even skip putting the dried chaga mushrooms in his coffee. LOL

Michael and Dad took all the garbage and recycling to their appropriate centers.

I wrestled with paperwork and curriculum orders...and had an honest to goodness conversation where I insisted AK is ALASKA and NOT Arkansas.

"Are you sure? It seems Arkansas would have picked AK."

"Arkansas was a state way before Alaska, maam. I'm sure if they wanted to be AK they would be.  AK is Alaska. Please ship my things to Alaska."

Honest to God! I'm not sure she EVER totally believed me. ::snort::

Alex and Stacia had Japanese lessons.

Michael and Alex then took the shelves out of our utility trailer and are working to clean it up for our upcoming trip.

Stacia and I made a trip to the garden for a few veggies for lunch and dinner. This photo doesn't show how large the broccoli is. Stacia is in heaven....Cauliflower and Broccoli are her favorites.  I picked our first yellow squash and a zucchini for lunch - the "right" size. LOL  I was checking to see how the carrots are doing - yep - they'll be fine to stay in the ground until we return....but they are respectable this year. There are new tiny broccoli shoots starting so we should have more when we return....

Look! Our first VINE RIPENED tomato...there are many of them. I may see if I have enough to try some salsa tomorrow. We leave Saturday a.m. 

We cut the cabbage patch WAY back. I'm not sure if any more will grow...but I know last year it regrew several times when the moose repeatedly ate the center.....I gave the chickens 3 small, sluggy heads....once we got all the leaves trimmed, and any buggy leaves removed...this is what we had. 

Which I turned into this - yes, canned coleslaw. I read all the reviews for this recipe from TWO DIFFERENT PEOPLE...same recipe...and decided to try it. 
I haven't sampled any yet - but it was great before it was canned. I have hope. Everyone SAID it was crispy when they opened their can eat it as is, drain and add mayo/sugar....or use it in egg rolls...I got 18 pints from 5 heads of cabbage. Not bad.

I noted my green cabbage had slugs and my red did not. Is that normal?????

Krista came home in the midst of the  canning craze. She and Nolan cleared her things out of the RV so we can pack it tomorrow.

She made Carne Asada for dinner. What a treat. We paired it with rice, tortillas, lettuce/kale, cucumbers, tomatoes from the garden, canned chili beans I'd made, a bit of the pre-canned coleslaw, and  steamed cauliflower and broccoli.

Krista and Stacia left to drive to Anchorage. They are taking a family friend who has been visiting BreZaak back to the airport.

Nolan and Alex left to buy "soap."

Michael, Dad and I played two rounds of Farkle (AKA "the game").

Nolan and Alex called from Dairy Queen to say Nolan's car wouldn't start. πŸ˜…πŸ˜‚πŸ˜ I guess they sell soap at DQ these days.

Michael went to help get the car started.

Dad went to bed.

The guys just got home. I'm about to go take care of the evening animal chores... I'm hoping the girls are home shortly. Krista works tomorrow.

The mornings are chilly. The evenings are brisk. Leaves are turning colors and falling.  Would it be "wrong" to say it's fall - even though it's only August?

And...will I be able to find pumpkin spice English Muffins outside? As in outside of Alaska? I could bring them back and make a mint. LOL

9:08 p.m. and the girls are home. They made good time.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Working Hard - Really; We Are.

We have had several VERY windy days around here.....So windy we didn't get outside to work in the garden.  We spent time on Monday weeding and harvesting. Goodness - things went CRAZY with a bit of rain and no one tending to the growth. I aim for small ones (front center) but these WERE a bit smaller than that small, front and center one,  a few days ago. WhUT?

Stacia and I  turned the above zucchinis into 22 quarts of shredded and 8 quarts of chunked pieces in the freezer. I may have to plug in the other small freezer. Moose or no moose. ::snort::

I want to be sure to get all the produce that will go bad the 2 weeks we are traveling out of the garden.  Here are the cucumbers I picked.

Stacia and I worked to fill both canners...and made 14 more quarts of kosher dill pickles. 
I bought pickle crisp for this batch - hope it works
The house smelled so strongly of pickles that I could feel it in my chest. LOL 
Such a pretty sight
It took quite a bit of hunting but I eventually found the window which had blown out of the left side of the greenhouse..... We're going to have to figure out how to get it back in. The mornings and evenings are getting colder....

Alex spent much of the day helping Michael. They have a long list of RV things they need to get done before our trip. Benny and Dad helped me weed and pick things....and then I looked up to find all three of them like this....Those characters! Planking at it's best.
My dad, my son and my grandson - Blessed
 I have worked HARD to grow corn. It is expensive up here. Last year the corn began to tassel and then we got frost. This year we planted earlier with black plastic - only 11 came up. I started 150 plants inside and transplanted them...still well within the 60 days needed for maturity. The corn actually looked better than any others I've seen around far as height....and lots of tassels, and cobs forming....and then the wind! I have no idea what to do about it now. I probably should pull it all - but it won't hurt to let it stay until we return. Maybe we'll get an ear or two. It makes me sad.

Most of it was quite a bit taller than me....and now it's all flat. 

In cheerier news we had a productive planning meeting last night with our women's ministry team. I'm excited to see where God takes us this year.

Dinner tonight was salmon we caught, a salad with lettuce, kale, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower from the garden, pasta, and a cucumber/tomato salad picked 10 minutes before dinner....we aren't sustainable, but we're certainly eating more variety of organic veggies than we have for years. I think we can be legit baby homesteaders after this year. LOL

It's about to kill me to leave again at this time of year. This is CRUNCH time for projects before the winter sets in for the long haul.  We are going to miss the state fair again too.....ugh. BUT we need to make the trip...and it is best to make it before we are into the fall swing of school and church community. On the other hand, it will be nice to get away from the smoke!

Look at this face....but GRANDMA - WHY do I have to pick up? 

Yeah - Papa is WAY more fun! 
Photo via Krista 
We'll end this quick catch up on that happy note. 

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sunday Fun

Church this morning.

Lunch with BreZaak, Donna, Krista and us. Unfortunately, I never remember to take photos.

We came home and Stacia made a couple of pot pies while Krista and I made cookies. No, we weren't peckish. Alex and Michael (more driving practice) drove to the next town to deliver a meal to a sweet friend's family who had surgery on Friday.

I set out munchies and we played "the game" - Farkle.  THIS is one of many reasons I'm excited about our multi-generational nest! I never had the opportunity to know any of my great-grandparents.  It's been a rich season having our kids, our grandkids, and dad living under our roof.  We had heard of such families - dear friends have multi-generational homes, Michael was raised in one, as was Cory - but we didn't see it with the military lifestyle.

 Dad invited Benny to roll for him.

Benny has a unique roll  - his whole body gets into the action. 

Earlier in the day I happened on GG reading his paper - check out all the dinosaurs with him....on the arms of the chair, his knee, his shoe....::snort:: 

CoRielle will be moving to their new home within a month or two....but the chance for Benny, Bella, Gideon, and Annnie to get to know their GG is priceless! What a blessing. I know without a doubt, he is blessed by their presence as well.

We consider ourselves lucky to have Dad moving into our home. We are thrilled we are "retired" and have the ability to stay in one place and have Dad join us. It's such a great time for our kids to deepen a relationship with dad as well.

Through the past few challenging years - when deeply desired dreams were denied - we continued to believe there was a reason. We would eventually see why we weren't allowed to be missionaries in Japan.  I am not sure this is "all," but this is one very special reason we can find joy in being denied our dream - we've been given another we'd not even considered wishing for.  God is always good. 

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Alaska Zoo Trip

Our church planned a trip to the zoo today....then there was talk of un-planning it as everyone was busy. Stacia and I talked with Arielle and decided to go early in the morning anyway. This would work better with Benny's nap and my driving time. I tend to get tired in the afternoon and want to nap. ::snort::  It was 50% off day at the zoo - a deal too good to pass by.

In the end BreZaak and Donna met up with Pastor and family at the zoo at the planned time. We crossed paths and got to share hugs on the run.
Harper, Sydney and Bella - photo via Lindsey 
The GPS took us to the BACK of the zoo - but after we figured that out - we were fine. It turns out zoo memberships were also 50% off. If we go one time we will have paid our price for the membership - so yes, we are now members of the Alaska Zoo.

Benny had no clue what he was about to see. Here he is at the first exhibit - the Polar Bear.
Fun Times
 Another Girls Day plus 1. 
Arielle, Stacia, Benny and Me
 So much to see...

Benny got real excited about the antlers! "Cor, My daddy," he squealed. 

We haven't been to this zoo in 15 years and they have gotten many new animals. While we still had quite a few animals we could see in our yard (Moose, lynx, owl, porcupine) there were many we do NOT see in our yard...polar bears, brown bears, camels and tigers come to mind. LOL 
Beautiful tigers
Seeing how big the claws on the brown bear are gave us a bit of a start. 

Napping happened on the way home. 

You can't make a person nap...but I'm firm believer of putting one's feet up, grabbing a book, and resting mid-afternoon, for children and adults. I did just that when we got home.

I heard squealing and Krista told me Benny was under the deck spraying up and people who came outside. I got wet to grab this photo. πŸ˜€

Michael and Alex did some driving instruction....and cut down another spruce tree.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Stacia has a Birthday

It is nearly impossible to believe our baby - OUR BABY - is FOURTEEN and entering HIGH SCHOOL. 😏 We have four short years of homeschooling left. We have NEVER started school before her birthday - it just seems it should be a holiday. 

Stacia asked for Yakisoba for dinner. This is a favorite of hers - not so much with the men-folk.  I stopped at the commissary and picked up ingredients we can't find locally. We were able to use carrots, cauliflower and broccoli from the garden.  It looked yummy.....but um...when Krista doesn't add Sriracha sauce one KNOWS it's spicy! 

We gave it a valiant effort. We tried all the "cut the heat" tricks any of us had heard...we drank milk, plugged our noses and at pickles with it. I finally mixed mine with mashed potatoes and that tamed the heat a bit. Our lips burned. Krista said it was just a step below ghost peppers.  I served it on paper plates. I am NOT making this up. When we moved the plates it had taken the varnish off the table.

I have promised to make it again - and to be SURE to cut the heat! LOL

Josiah and Jamin came over after dinner. Bre, Donna and the kids came over. The S's came upstairs for dessert and cards.
Auntie and Sweet Bella
Cory has two short weeks left until he is FINISHED with his college degree! We're proud of all the hard work he's put in to make this happen. It would have been easy to  be derailed with the move, Benny joining their family,  and his full-time job. He often has to stay downstairs and "focus" - but he joined us for Stacia's birthday and it made just that much more special of an event. Benny was impressed Daddy can make noise with his noise maker. Benny can't. 

Unfortunately, the cake photos were blurry. Michael made a yummy Mint Moose Track ice cream cake....and then we moved the fun outside. Adults played disc golf  or visited, while the kids enjoyed the play structure.
Oops - Gideon is tough

Note I have added a bit of a padding at the bottom of the kami-kazi slide. 

It remains a blast to give Stacia gifts.  Alex got her more pieces for looms. 

 CoRielle and Nolan get her a DVD which should be here soon....and we've been warned we'll have to expect a Descendants marathon.

Krista gave her a DQ card and Gpa gave her a bit of spending money.

She had requested an adult Bible. Specifically, she asked for one with adult language rather than a 3rd grade reading ability. (Did I mention we are shocked she's going into HIGH SCHOOL? She's our baby.) Um - that would be New American (high school level). She was happy with her engraved name on the front. 

It was a fun day of reflection and celebration for the blessing Stacia is to our family.