Tuesday, August 8, 2006


I had been so excited about the return of my husband, son and daughter. What was I thinking? That I'd suddenly become this woman of leisure? The work load has not returned to pre-trip levels. Part of it is because those who were gone have not gotten back into the swing of chores, and part of it is because I have gained a new perspective of how things should be done. We've also changed a few things around, so that requires new routines.

To add to the confusion, I am starting grad school tomorrow. Sounds crazy, I know, but I am going to work towards a masters degree in communications. Margaret is taking over as farm manager, but of course, I'll still live here, even though my day-to-day involvement will be lessened. I've started a new blog, Mom On Campus, to talk about the challenges of returning to the classroom after a 21-year hiatus -- not to mention the added challenges of having three teenagers and living on a homestead.

Of course, Margaret and I are thrilled to have everyone home. We missed them, and the vacation seems to have done them some good. They seem more energetic and happier. They have even been following Margaret's new schedule without complaining. This morning we worked on cleaning the barn. Does it sound like we spend a lot of time cleaning the barn? It seems like we do! Well, if you think a house gets dirty fast, just imagine having chickens and goats running through your house. It seems nearly impossible to keep the barn clean. Forget clean -- that makes me sound like I have some sort of mental disorder. Our goal is just to be able to find things fairly quickly without stepping on rotten eggs or tripping over used baling twine. Last night, when I was looking for something, I stepped on yet another rotten egg that had been hidden (by a hen, of course) in the straw on the floor. That was the second one this week, and there really is nothing that stinks as much as a rotten egg. Where do those eggs come from? They come from hens who refuse to believe that the chicken house is their home, even though that's where the chicken feed has been for the past year since we built the new chicken house. They insist on hanging out in the barn and continuing to lay eggs here, although since there are no longer any nest boxes, they just lay them in some out-of-the-way place where no one will find them until they rot, and then one day ...

Anyway, they'll be cleaning the barn again tomorrow and the next day. The goal for this week is to get the barn completely cleaned out ... get out all the old straw and hay, all the old eggs, all the used baling twine, all the scraps of lumber, etc. I'll be settling into my new life as a graduate student and teaching assistant. Of course, I'll keep blogging on here, because life goes on whether I'm here all day or not.

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Two long weeks!

Sorry I haven't posted much in the past two weeks. It has been only Margaret and me taking care of the farm. Katherine went away to Spanish camp, and Mike and Jonathan decided to spend two weeks driving around the American West. They went all the way out to California! It didn't sound like such a bad idea in the beginning. It made sense. They would drop her off at camp, then drive around for two weeks and pick her up on their way home.

When they first left, we were pretty excited. We spent the first couple days working around the house like crazy. We cleaned the first floor, and it looked lovely. We began eating on china at every meal and using the crystal glasses. With only two to wash, it didn't seem like such a big deal. We did all the chores outside, and we started working on projects inside. In between battling the Japanese beetles, we picked peaches, made peach preserves and peach butter. Two days ago, I created a dessert that is "to die for!" It has a graham cracker crust, cheesecake lower layer, and peach pie filling upper layer with graham crackers crumbled on top! Of course, it is made with our very own goat cheese and fresh peaches. It is delicious!

The heat wave created the biggest challenge for us. To deal with the nearly 100 degree days, we started getting up at 5 a.m., so we could have all the chores done and be inside by 8, before the heat got too unbearable. Tuesday, we wound up outside until 9:25. We had some problems with chores, and then at 9 a.m., I noticed that a duck had hatched two ducklings and was headed to the pond with them. We had to stop her! There are snapping turtles in the pond, and the ducklings wouldn't have a chance. We ran around in the heat for 20 minutes trying to catch her, but we finally admitted defeat.

I had felt a headache coming on for about an hour, but I kept ignoring it. We went inside, and the headache intensified, and I got really sleepy. Then I started to feel nauseous. I decided to lay down, and that is where I stayed for two days! I must have been suffering from heat stroke. I felt quite hot, and by afternoon, when I was still in bed, Margaret started researching heat stroke on the Web. She put ice packs under my armpits and got me drinking more. Sometimes my head hurt so badly, tears were running down my cheeks. I was so dizzy, I could barely walk to the bathroom and back to bed.

Our two weeks of girl time will end tonight. We loved working together, and there were times, we agreed it was easier with just the two of us. We are definitely the two most organized members of the family! But we also agreed that we should never again leave two people here to do all the work in the summer. It's not much when it's split between five people, but when it's split between two people, the work load gets pretty heavy. And for two days, Margaret was doing everything by herself, which was really challenging. I can already see the face of Antiquity Oaks changing a lot when all the kids are grown and go away! I can see why farm families have traditionally been so large. There is just no way Mike and I could continue raising all these animals by ourselves! In another five or six years, I think we'll be downsizing to a few laying hens and four or five goats for milk.


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