One Man’s Junk…..

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The day we came to look at our property one of the things that caught my eye was a huge metal heap partially hidden by some trees. As we got closer my eyes grew to the size of saucers. Right in front of me sat a huge piece of old farm equipment and a 1930′s logging truck. First thing I asked was if it all came with the property. I figured it did since trees are growing right up through it.

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The W’s is what I’ll call the previous owners. Mr. W grew up in our house. He told us back in the 60′s his Uncle parked the old logging truck and what I learned was a combine in that very spot. Supposedly the combine is one of the first self-propelled PTO combines. Over time it was used as target practice and a garbage dumpster for cans, glass, and old tools.

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Since I first laid eyes on what others might call junk my mind has been racing with all the different things we can use that heap of metal for. Before I got ahead of myself I checked with an agriculture museum to see if the combine had any historical significance. It has been a couple of weeks since I talked to them, and after two phone calls and an email of pictures and a full description. I think it’s safe to say they think it’s a pile of junk too. Now I can set my imagination free!

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Before I get out my tools and start dismantling things there is one thing that is holding us back. The heat. I grew up in Texas, but like everywhere else the weather just isn’t what I grew up with. Don’t get me wrong this summer has been much less brutal than the past two. Two summers ago we had over ninety days straight of triple digit temperatures starting in May! This year it has been fairly good the triple digit temperatures started at the end of July. Most of all, we need the rain.  Even our native plants aren’t doing well. Critters are out in full force looking for water. We have set out a couple of troughs to help them out. The one critter I don’t want to mess with is the Copperhead snake, and that truck and combine is a snake condominium at the moment. With Lil’ Buddy always wanting to help, that is one risk I don’t want to make. When fall arrives the snakes usually mellow out and prepare for hibernation.

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Hurry up and get here Fall! We have a roof to replace, a metal heap to dismantle, a garden to plan, dead trees to cut down, our list goes on and on. Until then we have many indoor projects to do, but that pile o’ junk is calling my name.

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Waiting For Our First Harvest

We are waiting till next spring before we plant our garden. We have a lot to do to prepare, and I can hardly wait!

In the meantime I have been waiting patiently for our prickly pear cactus fruit, known as tunas, to ripen. I have been gathering recipes to experiment with these spiny fuchsia fruit. I found recipes for prickly pear margaritas, pie, lemonade, jam, and cupcakes. There is a danger of getting stabbed by their little spines, gloves must be worn when gathering them and removing their skins. I am hoping it is worth the risk! I have eaten the cactus pads, called Nopales, before. In Mexico the cactus is known as Nopalitos. One way of preparing the cactus pads is making them into a salsa. I have had it prepared this way and served over eggs. It was pretty tasty!

I hope to make a weekend out of experimenting in my kitchen, cooking, and taste testing. I will definitely be sharing the results! Have you ever tasted prickly pear fruit or used it in a recipe?

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Today I was in our mud room and noticed a visitor in our backyard. A road runner, they are also known as Chaparral. He just jumped up on one of our metal chairs and hung out for a bit. I think he was trying to get a better view of his breakfast, lizards! He soon left and set out into the woods. He was beautiful. Little by little we are getting glimpses of the animals that live around here. They are always a sweet surprise.

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Downsizing

Downsizing 1000 square feet is easier said than done.  So far it has had its ups.  Less to clean is always awesome.  Our kitchen is the same size, we didn’t lose cabinet space.  The closets and storage are actually better than we had before.  So what is the problem you ask?

Well, the problem is my love of collecting.  I am not a hoarder.  Whew!  I just have many small collections and less room to display them.  I don’t believe collections should be tucked away in a box somewhere or crammed into a dark closet.  They should be on display for others to see.  In our new place that’s exactly what I am missing.  Room to display my collections.

Right before I had Lil’ Buddy I traveled the states picking for treasures.  I had a space in a vintage shop and sold the treasures I scored.  I would hop in my suburban and set out on the open road.  Most of the time I planned every stop on my trip, shopping flea markets, garage sales, and antique malls.  Sometimes I would just play it by ear and just head out without any plans at all.  It was amazing!  I met people from all walks of life and saw things I didn’t think I would ever see.  I usually packed food and snacks, but sometimes I craved a hot meal after a day of loading up treasures, so my rule was to stop at a local Mom and Pop diner.  It was never a mistake!  The food was always delicious and my belly always left happy.  Soul food.

I always had an attraction to things of yesteryear.  I was always curious about where they came from, who had them, their story.  My first collection, outside of my childhood collection of cats, unicorns, and coca cola, was vintage lamps.  Especially lamps from the 1950′s.  I still have my first pair.

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My other love is vintage western.  Wagon wheel furniture, western suits, chalk ware horses, paint by numbers.  Kitsch galore!  They tackier the better in my eyes, studs, fringe, and cowhide! I have made a home for all of that in our guest room/ craft space.  It’s a little tight, but I like to think it’s cozy.  ah hem.  I have given this room a name, but I will save that and the room for another post.  Here is a peak!

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Since having Lil’ Buddy a lot of my collections have lost their meaning and importance.  It’s just stuff.  It might take a while, but it’s all replaceable.  Nothing can replace Lil’ Buddy.  Having him has made it so much easier to give them up, find them new homes.  Plus, as a family in a new home we have things we want to collect together.  Treasure hunting is fun, but even better when you do it with others.  At this moment Lil’ Buddy likes to collect sticks, rocks, moss, Cicada shells, lizards, frogs, flowers, and toads.  My Hubby likes to collect cactus and succulents.  We haven’t started a family collection yet.  I have a feeling it will be animals.  We all love them and we can’t wait to have a place for them.  There are fences to be built, coops, and a barn or two.  I can’t wait!

DIY Compost Bed

ImageBy next spring we plan on having a vegetable garden.  I am preparing for it now by starting two compost.  One of them is a store-bought enclosed barrel.  I use it mainly for our kitchen scraps.  It’s perfect because it keeps the furry critters out.  The other one I use for leaves and yard scraps.  When the food breaks down I transfer it to the leaf compost.  So far we have built up a nice supply, but we have a long way to go before we have enough for our garden.

I used what we had lying around the house to build the yard scrap compost since we didn’t have the budget for two store-bought ones.  The former owners left behind an old wrought iron bed frame.  We didn’t have a place for it inside, so I thought it would be a perfect candidate for a compost “bed”  I had seen the idea a million times.  My Mom was over one weekend and she helped me wrestle it out and assemble it.  We made a temporary wood frame for it until something more permanent can be made. My Mom is such a trooper and has always been a hard worker.  I’d like to think I took after her.   I think the bed  turned out great and works just as well!  What do you think?  Do you have any do it yourself compost bin ideas?

DIY Framed Chicken Wire Bulletin Board

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I love do it yourself projects, especially when they are simple, and there is instant gratification of accomplishment.  This project is just that.

The former owners left a lot of stuff behind, so I happened to have all the materials.  Thank You!  Everything in this project is easy to come by.

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You will need:

Hammer

Wire Cutters

Frame (Thrift store, garage sale)

Chicken Wire (Farm Supply Store, or Big Box Home Improvement Store)

Galvanized Poultry Staples (Farm Supply or Big Box Home Improvement Store)

Safety Goggles

You can also use a staple gun in place of the hammer and poultry staples.  I didn’t have access to one.  It is still packed up in a box.

First, remove the back of the frame.  You won’t need it.

Second, cut a piece of chicken wire to fit the inside of the frame.  I had a giant roll of chicken wire that was hard to handle, so I cut an oversized square.  Then cut it down to the right size.

Third, hammer the staples into place.  I hammered one side first then pulled it tight as I hammered the rest.
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Fourth, attach some kind of bracket to hang the frame.  I just used what was already on the frame.  Two eye  and a rope.  Eventually I think I will replace it with a bracket that won’t be visible.

The best part, hang it up!  You can use clothes pins to attach pictures or objects to the wire.  I didn’t have any on hand, so I just stuck the corners into the wire.  Enjoy!

Book Suggestions Please!

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When it comes to books I am a complete sucker.  Especially reference books and cookbooks.  I have been on the look out for some good books to help us plan out our homestead.  I have quite a nice little collection, I should say, and I have been fortunate to find a lot of them used.

What books do you recommend for organic gardening, raising animals, sustainable living, or yummy recipes from the garden?

Lil’ Buddy Is Moving In

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There is cause for celebration over here!  We have finished our first major project!  The floors are installed and Lil’ Buddy finally has a room.  Now the fun part begins, decorating!  I have a few small projects to make his room unique and I will share them in future post.

We are in love with the way the floors turned out.  My hubby is a perfectionist and every little flaw sticks out to him.  I have to remind him the floors are over 80 years old and character is ok.  With a toddler around , even more character will be added over time.  Character tells a story.

Lil’ Buddy loves his room, he was a big help moving his belongings in.  He played in it all day yesterday.  He loves the outdoors and with two walls of windows it is perfect for him.  He can see so much of our backyard.

We have been here for 3 months and it’s finally feeling like home.  There is so much to do still, but there is nothing better than the feeling of home.

What projects have you finished lately?  Even the smallest project feels like a huge accomplishment don’t you think?