Monday, August 8, 2016

Start where you are.......

Often in blogs and other journals, the task of getting the writing done is just too daunting to know where to begin. And that day is today, for me. I started this blog in 2010. And as our family has grown and changed so has this blog. I started out as a knitter...a city girl plopped down on a farm in Iowa, just wanting to share great patterns and find other folks of like mind. That morphed into a wonderful journey of opening a knitting shop. Then it became a knit/spin/teach and a wonderful gathering spot. Then a few years later, we took the knitting on the road. But the farm kept calling us.....we started a farm in the Muscatine area. A big beautiful farm full of people and love and vegetables and knitting, of course. There must always be knitting...and spinning. My husbands contract at work ended and we had to make a move for work. So instead of letting the new employment dictate where we were going to live, we decided to pick the place to live and make it work. So that is exactly what we did.
homer spit 4786 homer spit rd

Yes, we were questioned over and over why? Why Alaska. And our response was always the same. Why not Alaska! When I asked Scott, where would you live if money was no obstacle. His response was Alaska. My response was Hell No! After the cold winters in Iowa. I wasn't about to become one with the glaciers. So true to my nature, I did some research and this is what I found!!   Beaches.......whales....Salt water fishing.....Nirvana!

Homer, Alaska the Halibut fishing Capital of the world! After a lot of videos and online reading and speaking with the Chamber of Commerce and Real Estate agents. I was sold. A plan of action was put into place. A very detailed, well thought out plan. And it all occurred within 8 weeks. We took Lizzy with us....stopped in Arizona to get Jesse...dodged a tornado in Texas...threw a few tires around across the United States. Started a fire in Canada........You know...just another day....

And here we are....well almost..still many stories to fill in.. year ago.....and yet so much has happened in between and currently..
....I will tell you this much...Our adventures have become crazier wilder and more fun than I ever imagined our life would be! My devotion to this blog will be an ongoing journal of all that is, was and will become our next adventure. And I would love to take you with me......join us for a lifetime of zany crazy, homesteading life in Alaska.

Here's a few photos of what we have been up to.....
Our son Jesse working in Seward Alaska

Every sunset is different
Lizzy's First Salmon......but not her last.....She loves to fish!
Puma has turned into a traveling cat...he loves to go for a ride....he has gone across the Untited States twice now. Alaska and Canada too.
Sheldon just begs to be dressed up....okay maybe not..but he loves attention..He has a fan club in Alaska.
Some of my Apothecary items I sold at the Farmers market.

Jesse returned to Homer after wintering in Dutch Harbor
Decent amount of snow ...finally...Winter of 2015
A day excursion at the Head of the Bay...Kachemak Bay by 4 wheeler
Good Friends....good times..
Winter 2015 - Skyline Drive

Bishops Beach Homer, Alaska
Low Tide Homer Spit, Alaska (our dog print was a surprise)
Sunset Bishops Beach

Monday, May 11, 2015

Day 12

We spent the night at a gas station in Meadow, Utah. Up at 4 a.m. No bathrooms open. Let the dogs out to go potty. Then drove to the next truck stop. Not only were they open, but they had a great breakfast to go. A MOAB. Mother of all burritos. Yummy. With wam food in our belly, some coffee and a cappuccino we started our day. Heading to Salt Lake City. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Goodbye Iowa

Day One

Here we are, off on another adventure. We packed up all of our wordly possessions and we are heading out of the state of Iowa. 

The last few weeks have been busy preparing to leave, getting passports and Veterinarian appointments; shots for dogs and cats and health certificates. Contacting the Canadian Border Police for travel restrictions. Traveling through Canada with the remaining household in a 6 X 12 trailer, everything must be inventoried. And we added AAA membership for United States and Canada. Another requirement is a "Canadian Insurance Identification card."

Packing, sorting and selling items on Facebook and Craigslist was also a very stressful ordeal. Facebook is an amazing tool, and became my 14 hour a day task, and Scott and Lizzy doing the shipping and packaging. But we were able to rehome our sheep, sell the chickens, except for the three remaining roosters; two were butchered, and one escapee got a reprieve at a sweet chicken ladies farm. It's rather ironic that the rooster that was the low man on the roost is now the king of his castle with 30 hens. Rather fitting in my opinion. 

We also sold all our farm supplies and chicken coop and purchased a conversion van for our travels. And we sold our truck and jeep, along with most household items. Two garage sales later, a Salvation army pick up, and a few trips to the dump, we were free of all the leftovers.

There is something to be said about the whole downsizing experience. "It is freeing, but incredibly difficult",  deciding what is important, and functional vs. necessities. 

It took us nearly two days to clean the house and finish up all the details. With a trailer stuffed to the gills, and a van busting out the seams......that brings us to this point.

Moving to Alaska!

We had to say goodbye to some dear friends we have made in our 4.5 year stay in Iowa. Some we weren't able to say goodbye to. And for that we apologize. Trying to get everything accomplished in 30 days was a monumental, if not crazy goal. But we did it. With the help of our son Jon, our friends and our traveling caravan: My husband Scott, daughter Lizzy and myself. As we leave Iowa, we can't help reflecting on all the friendships, love and fond moments we have shared. We will miss you all and hold you dear in our hearts. We love you all!

We have few stops to make along the way, and before it's all over, we will be on the road for over two weeks. We will blog daily and post pictures. Join us on this Epic journey. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Holiday Hoopla - Spin In December 2014

365 Days On A Farm  Spin In Holiday Hoopla
December 6th Noon - 4pm
Old Fashioned Cookie Exchange - Bring 2 Dozen Cookies (and a few to share if you like)
I will provide Hearth Chili and Homemade Bread.
Please RSVP with me at to be sure to get a bowl of chili.
Or call me at 563-275-9899
Bring your spinning wheel and or WIP . Spinners and Knittiners/Crocheters join us for some Winter time fun. 
Taker a few moments from the Holiday Stress and Breathe......then spin, spin, spin. You know you wanna....!
3155 150th Street
Wilton, Iowa 52778

Friday, August 29, 2014

Fiber Fun at 365 Days On A Farm Wilton, Iowa

Spin In and Fiber Gathering 

Sept. 13th 2014 Saturday

10 am - 4 pm

R.S.V.P. is a must

Pot Luck

Knitters/Crocheters Welcome

365 Days On a Farm 

3155 150th Street 

Wilton, Iowa

Come Meet our new sheep: Sunshine, Romeo and Elsa.

There will be a door prize, drawing and lunch at noon.

Our drum carder will be available for use. Bring some fiber to share in our pot luck soup. Have a drum carder? Bring it along. Let's have some fun! It's time to start working on those projects!

Or just bring your project/wheel and enjoy good food and wonderful company!! 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

February 2014 - February Tales

                              Photo by Susan Krupke

February Tales

As usual, life has been busy. Throwing it's winter weather curve balls at us..or is that snowballs? Either way, like most of the country, we have been cold. We did get a reprieve and had a few days where the temps briefly touch 40's, and what a glorious time. Winter does make you appreciate your OTHER seasons. Especially when it's 30 degrees below and it's time to plan a garden. Ordering seeds, taking measurements of the garden in frigid temps. {I have a new appreciation for Photographers that brave the elements for that perfect shot.} I should knit a pair of photographers gloves....with the tip of one finger (trigger finger) that can be removed, so the whole hand doesn't get frostbite.  
But its all good, there's so much to be thankful for that gratitude is the general sentiment, nor resentment or struggles. 
Our daughter Lizzy was here for a visit. She is full of love and has so much positive energy and is a joy to be around.  We are thankful that we had a few days with her, here in Iowa. 

She was determined to spin up some fiber that she bought last summer at Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival. She spun all 8 oz. of it beautifully, even though she hasn't touched a spinning wheel in nearly two years. She made this 'spinning mama' proud!
And then she knitted herself a headband. Crafty young lady!

We received word that our son Scott Jr. (that is deployed in Afghanistan) will be returning to the United States in a few short weeks. A big sigh of relief for the whole family. We look forward to his return, but not more than his Newlywed Bride Stephanie. They can now begin their lives together.

Ashley Allene Rider's photo.

Just last week we had a visit from KWQC's News Station here in Quad Cities Area. Fran Riley did an interview on our family. It was a lot of fun. Fran is very personable and friendly. I didn't feel like we were interviewed, it felt more like chatting with a friend. Fran and his Cameraman Greg are always welcome here and we hope they will return this summer.

Fran Riley had a go at the wheel.

Our chicken count is down to around 24 now, we lost of few this winter and are currently making plans for a larger and more functional coop. Most of our weather problems have been solved and we will be better prepared for next year.
I believe our water issues have been solved, inside the house (water softener installed, cleared the water lines, new washing machine ) . 
The pond is leaking at the dam, and a new septic has to be put in in the spring. But that's another tale for another day.
I have been spinning Angora fiber from Pebbles for a friend in Alaska, we are doing a trade and I can't wait to show the results....that's another tale as well!

Scott and I had our first wedding Anniversary, same day at the reporter did the interview. It wasn't planned that way, in fact the initial interview was suppose to be in December, but was rescheduled by Fran on the same day as our Anniversary. It was perfectly fine, what a great way to celebrate....we are an odd couple anyway!!! Happy Anniversary Scott ! It has been another wonderful year with you!

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   (sending those positive thoughts out to Mother Nature)
Our new (as in, new to IOWA)  family members are due to arrive in a few weeks....I will announce their arrival....when they get's an exciting time for all of us...and a wonderful journey is about to begin. Good Wonderful things are about to happen and for all of this, and so much more, I am thankful!
We are blessed. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Winter Blues - January & February 2014

There comes a point when I feel enough is enough. Trudging through the snow, slipping on ice (numerous times) [Bringing a new concept to real "Planking"]. Overall, missing the sunshine on my exposed shoulders (without fear of frostbite). 
Yes, wintertime is beautiful and picturesque. I have taken my share of photos and shared them on facebook, taken some for my own collection. But I am done! D O N E . The Chickens have also voted on this agenda and they agreed. Yes, Mr. Winter it is time for you to leave, so that we can get on with our plans for a Herb Garden, Flower Garden and Vegetable Garden. 

Our chickens have done well, considering the occasional - 50 Windchill and brutal nightime temps. We have treated them for minor frostbite, with Vetericyn and using vaseline for a preventative. Also removing the water at 8pm each night to keep the moisture down to a minimum. We had to add 2 Heat Lamps for the Negative temps after several roosters and a few hens got frostbite. Changing the water a few times a day, because the water freezes in the coop, even with the heat lamps. And cleaning the coop during a fairly mild -20 day with winds around 10-15 mph. Its only one chicken coop but there have been several days that it has consumed all our energy and attention.

One particularily bad afternoon with winds howling over 25 mph.  One of our roosters had to be removed and brought into the house.  He was in terrible condition, incredibly weak and could not stand. Chanteclair (as Scott named him, was a bloody mess). He had one eye swollen shut and his whole left face was bloody. We put him in a small cat carrier with heat lamps, hand fed him water, cleaned him with Disinfectant and kept him in the bathroom upstairs. One hour later after a second chicken coop check, Mr. Bill had to join him. Mr Bill was weak from frostbite and bloody, just not as much as Chanteclair. Our belief is that Mr. Bill attacked Chanteclair and once we removed Chanteclair, Mr. Bill got attacked by the others. We had too many roosters in the coop, but they had all grown up together and never challenged ranks. Until now. In the middle of a snow storm. Of Course. 

So once they made it through the night, they received more tending to in the morning and an apartment of their own in a dog crate, divided and visually not able to see each other. And there they lived for four long weeks in our bathroom, next to the bedroom.

 Now, before everyone goes , "AWWWW"....the story just gets more difficult. The beautiful thing was, they recovered, received lots of attention and a clean cage. Jon, our son, built mini roosts for them to be up off the cage floor. They had individual little feeding dishes and water dishes. They got used to our coming and going out of that room, which the laundry room is attached to. We used our other bathrooms for our personal bathroom activities. Except on a few occasions of emergency use. Like, when all the bathrooms are being used....sigh...yes we had to use the 'privy' with them watching. Very Weird. But not as weird as, when I did my great planking event on 2 inches of ice, and had to soak my bruised body, in the only tub in this house, (you guessed right) in the "Chicken Bathroom". 

Now, my idea of a bubble bath, Epsom Salt Soak with Lavendar Essential Oils DOES NOT include ROOSTERS Nearby ....and it took this City Girl all day to Muster Up the "I CAN DO THIS" attitude. That and lots of cleaning the room top to bottom beforehand. And surprisingly enough once I got in the tub, looking over at Chanteclair (in his cage) I thought, I think he is more perplexed than I am. I got over it, and soaked away. Thinking quietly to myself..." Can I call myself a homesteader now?"  

'Cock A Doodle Doo' crowing occurs at all hours of the day, and night, for two inside roosters with heatlamps. Once the heat lamps were removed and they were well on their way to recovery the crowing continued. This made for some interesting background noise on the phone, but we took it in stride.

When we agreed to have chickens, we knew the purpose of the chickens was to provide our family with safe to eat meat and eggs. Also to provide all of our animals with lots of sunshine and a quality of life. But at the same time, I was gearing myself up to mentally prepare for the butchering in the spring. And this is where it gets difficult. 

We tried to reintroduce Mr. Bill to the flock, letting him stay in the coop within the safe confines of a cage so that the others can adjust. It didn't work. Now, to our credit, we have read up on ways to do this, and scoured our favorite chicken sites for tips and tricks. And yet, he was attacked by the NOW Head Rooster in the coop. We promptly removed him and returned completely defeated with Mr. Bill in tow, back to the house. We knew that we would have to butcher both of our roosters. With a heavy heart over the following weekend. We did just that. 

Scott has butchered chickens in the past and we were able to get them processed in a short amount of time. Scott, Jon and I did the plucking. And we soaked the chicken in salt water overnight and made chicken soup in the morning. Now remember, I WAS a city girl and this was way out of my comfort zone. We non-vegetarians will go to the grocery store and pick up a cellophane covered package of chicken breast to bring home and make dinner for our families without guilt, hate mail or nasty comments sent to us. And our families will give us Kudos for a meal well prepared. And this is how I have to look at this, it is part of providing for our family. A natural more humane way to eat meat. I just have to swallow my emotional side. And I did. And so did Jon. And Scott. 

I made the most amazing Chicken Soup I have ever made. And we ate it. For three nights in a row. The first night, I won't kid you, was difficult and I had to put my mind in a better place in order to eat. But the second night, I fully enjoyed the meal. 

I have learned a few lessons. 1.) Do not NAME your food.
2.) Remember the purpose of the animals. 

And with this in mind...we will always remember to give 100% in their care, even if they are part of our food chain. 

This is the real reason we decided to homestead.

                            I believe we have now earned the title "Homesteaders".


Monday, January 20, 2014

365 Days On A Farm - December 2013

      Scott and Jon have been chopping more wood for our wood furnace.  (It's a hungry beast)  Scott fills it in the morning and evening and it provides radiant heat to half of the home. The furnace guy will be out again tomorrow to try and resolve the remaining issue with the furnace.

       The two bedrooms upstairs are almost finished. The drywall is done and painted. Now trim and carpet is next.

      Sheldon our Great Pyreness went to the vet for a check up and shots and then on his birthday, Dec. 20th was neutered. (That was a coincidence) The temperatures have been quite a challenge, tonight it will be -10 and with the windchill -25. Sheldon has been indoors at night since his surgery and will continue inside untill the weather lets up. It has been a challenge training him to be inside a home. He thinks all things are free game. But he is a quick learner and does not like the disapproval that comes with the word "NO!". He tried to eat the house, but we have met each challenge and he has stopped howling at night. He is very intelligent. And we love him so much, he is a Hull now. 

      Amy, Scott's sister and her boyfriend Adam will be coming the day after Christmas for a short visit. They are traveling to Texas and will stop by for some family time. We look forward to meeting Adam.

      We lost our first rooster (besides that one that was eaten). The temps have been frigid, and we will be watching carefully to make sure no other ones are sick. The chicken coop is well insulated and we have put straw and wood shavings in the coop for extra warmth. We have closed up any possible drafts. Time will tell. The chickens get extra food and treats during these freezing temps. This morning they received two hot plates of oatmeal/grits with a dribble of maple syrup. We do worry.

    We had a wonderful evening with friends over the weekend. Such a lovely family. We served Buffalo Brisket and vegies, with homemade peanut butter fudge for dessert. (the regular fudge was a flop) 

    I have been baking, trying to keep the guys from eating it all before Christmas. (not kidding here, they eat cookies like potato chips) LOL

   I FINALLY ran out of laundry detergent, and had to make some more. I purchased Laundry soap from Bicycle Botanicals over the summer, and when my Tide ran out, I began using it. That was about three months ago.
    I will do a tutorial in the next post. This detergent cleans extremely well, has a wonderful scent, helps with the hard water. Is safe for HE Washer. AND ITS MORE NATURAL and Cheap!!! I am all about saving a few dollars, however, If it doesnt work well, I wont use it. Like the toothpaste recipe, I made it, gave a it a good week trial and Blech! Threw it out! I will try another recipe in the near future. For now I will use TOM's toothpaste. You see, my goal is to make ALL our products from natural ingredients. WHY?
For two reasons, it's healthier to have less chemicals and irritants to impact your health negatively and the other reason is to be self sufficent. No, You can't do it all overnight, but you can do it step by step and trial and error. You don't have to live on a farm to make these changes, you just have to be adventurous. 

     I also made Lip Balm, I LOVE THAT. I am forever searching for a lip balm that protects and heals my lips. I no longer have an issue with chapped lips. Made with natural ingredients, and Essential Oils. There are so many resources available to learn about Homemade Beauty Products. I have my own Bath Salts and Scrubs. Its very satisfying to make something that is functional, practical and efficient. Over the summer I made bug spray for our roses, and ant deterrent. It's a fun journey. I love getting out all my essential oils and equipment to create!  Makes me feel like a chemist, or a mad scientist on other days. 
    We received about 5 inches of snow last Sunday. A lot less than they forecasted. But we were prepared! We have been stocking up on provisions in case of being snowed in and power outages.
Being prepared is much better than being blind-sided.
    So here's to another wonderful month here at 365. We are about to celebrate our First Christmas here on the farm. And we are so thankful to be here and to have each other and our family. Happiness is in everyday life for us. Merry Christmas Everyone and Happy Holidays. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

365 Days On A Farm - November 2013

So much has happened since moving into our farmhouse. It took us four days to move. Our first night here, we only had heat in half the house. The fridge didn't arrive until 10 pm. Our Stove was here, but not operational until two days later. Several rooms were unfinished (and still are). Leaky pipes. Then frozen pipes. And the list goes on. There are definite challenges.
But determination and a lot of hard work, makes it all work out. Our wood furnace is finally working well. Thank goodness, because it has been downright frigid.

              While Scott and Jon were building the coop, the wind was 20-30 mph. 

But it was completed over a period of a week after Scott's workday, and our first batch of chickens were soon picked up.

Our Daughter in Law Stephanie Hull arrived for an extended stay. She jumped right in and help with the completion of the chicken run.

Our son Scott Jr. is in Afghanistan, and we thought it would be great to spend Thanksgiving with his wife Stepanie at our new home. We have enjoyed her company. Stephanie is such a devoted lady. Her strength is admirable.

                       We celebrated Jon's 17th Birthday when Stephanie arrived. 

         Thank you Schallert Family for our housewarming (chicken coop warming) gift of chickens.

The following week, Sheldon our Great Pyrenees, was picked up from a friend of a friend. He is now a vital part of our farm family. We also picked up more hens. It was an entertaining ride home, with a 100 pound new dog trying to get in the front seat, and chicken feathers flying everywhere. His head is bigger than mine, and we hadn't established a trust yet. Sheldon let me push his face back and out of the way, right then and there, I knew he was a gentle soul. 

 We received a gift from our hens, just a few days into having them in their new coop. I never thoguht I would be so excited to get our first eggs, but then again it has been a month of firsts. Every moment is memorable.

'Challenges, difficulties and thrilling moments' that seems to sum up the month....we have so many reasons to be grateful. And on Thanksgiving we celebrated and expressed our gratitude. We wished that all of our children could be with us. And maybe next year that will be possible. 

So to all our children and their spouses; We love you and miss you! And we hope to share the holidays with you next year!!!