Family

Year One

May 11, 2018

We are coming up on our first anniversary at the end of this month. Here’s a little love letter for you, hubby.

I picked right.

The best things about you aren’t the things I used to care about. It doesn’t matter that you leave your little mustache trimmings in the sink without rinsing them down, or that you wear your shoes in the apartment sometimes. All the little things that I used to think mattered in relationships are just that – little, irrelevant things. The big things are the stuff I always needed but never knew I’d have. You’re so steady and kind. You’re such a good conflict resolver. You’re tuned in to my heart – saying things like “What do you need to feel more loved today?” You put me first. You love my family. You work hard at things without giving up. You’re hopeful. You respect my opinion and ask what I think about things. You give me a backrub each night before we go to sleep. You consistently work to make my days better. Three years after our first date, and I love you even more now than when we got married.

I picked right, and I’m so lucky to be with you.

Happy Year One, my love.

 

Farm

Junk Car

May 11, 2018

We were finally able to get the old car off of the farm. After many, many attempts at getting the junk slip we needed notarized, the person we called in Bonney Lake was actually in Buckley at the time and said he could stop by and get it in 20 minutes. It was good to see that drive away! Aaron and I were talking on the way home about how crazy it is that the process for having this junk car removed was more difficult (by a long shot) than purchasing a gun. We’ve talked about having a hunting rifle or pistol at the farm as we’ve had several bear break-ins, etc. and it would be easy for us to get one – just walk into a store and pay (there are no restrictions in WA for gun purchase, with a few exceptions for handguns and concealed weapons) Pretty different than the process we’ve gone through with the car – having the police come out to the property to do an assessment, getting a junk slip notarized, having a two-week wait period, and then having someone come haul it away.

I’m attaching a few pictures of the rest of the farm. I should’ve taken some better “before’s,” but so much of the farm was absolutely covered in a decade worth of blackberry bushes, weeds, trash, etc. Aaron’s been mowing and trimming several times a week, and it’s really making a difference.

I am so glad it’s Friday. This week has felt really draining. Work has been more stressful than usual, and I just feel like curling up on the couch and Netflixing a whole season of something. There’s an antique fair in nearby Enumclaw this weekend, and Aaron said he’d go with me so I’m looking forward to that.

Farm

May Flowers

May 4, 2018

The weather is starting to turn here, and it’s feeling like spring. We’ve had several days of 75+ weather, followed by rainy days, which is making everything grow like crazy. I especially love the periwinkle bluebells that’ve been sprouting up around the big trees. Aaron’s been working hard at the farm, putting in a couple hours each day before or after work. It’s amazing how much better things look around the yard with the grass mowed and trees getting trimmed. The farm had been vacant for 10 years before we bought it, so everything was in pretty run down condition. We’ve been able to chip away at it, bit by bit, and have probably taken 50+ tractor loads to the dump. One of the most frustrating things has been an old car that was abandoned and left on the property. It has all the windows punched out, mold inside, etc., and is worthless. We saw a number posted that said they take junk cars, so we called the number. They said we had to have a police person come out and sign a junk slip and then they would come remove it. So we called the non-emergency police line, and they said they’d have someone come out. That never happened, so we called again and finally were able to schedule someone to visit. They signed the slip, and we found out it had to be notarized. So we went to a UPS store that was listed online as having a notary; they said they didn’t have one but to go to any bank and they would do it for us. We went to a bank in Bonney Lake, but they said they only do that for their customers. They referred us to a nearby auto center. The auto center said they had a notary, but that because this was related to a vehicle, it was a conflict of interest (what?). So finally we had to drive all the way up to Auburn, where our nearest bank is, and then they said we had to bring an original copy of our marriage license – the photocopied one we had wasn’t enough. This is the kind of runaround that’s driving us nuts! It seems like nothing is simple in this process.

In other news, we had a fun recent trip to Washington DC for a work event. I volunteer with the Washington Association of Marriage & Family Therapy, and they asked me to go DC to help lobby for inclusion of MFTs on several bills expanding Medicare providers. They had a lobbyist that accompanied me to visit Patty Murray and Dave Reichert’s offices. It wasn’t as stressful as I thought it might be – the lobbyist helped with the details, and I shared more of the “on the ground” knowledge of how not being covered by Medicare impacts our community here. We spent several days after the lobbying touring DC. My favorite museums were the Museum of American History and the Museum of African-American History.

Museum of American History Favorites:

  • A centuries-old house that they transplanted into the museum and told detailed stories of the families who lived there.
  • The women’s rights movement memerobilia
  • Julia Child’s cooking school certificate
  • Mr. Roger’s sweater
  • Mary Todd Lincoln’s dress
  • Michelle Obama’s inauguration gown
  • Abraham Lincoln’s hat

Museum of African American History Favorites:

  • Harriet Tubman’s shawl
  • Emmett Till memorial
  • Rosa Park’s dress
  • Rucksack poem
  • Nat Turner’s Bible
  • Point of Pines cabin

I’m so glad it’s the weekend, and am looking forward to relaxing some with Aaron. We made a rhubarb-strawberry crisp yesterday with some fresh rhubarb we bought at a new farmer’s market near the farm. Can’t wait until we get our own produce up and going! Also, I had to include a picture of the most amazing omelette Aaron made – he makes these regularly from our chickens’ eggs and includes fresh spinach, tomatoes, quinoa, and a bunch of other good stuff!

We are coming up on our one-year wedding anniversary later this month, and I have a list going of some of the fun things I’d like to do together in the area:

  • Visit my favorite brunch restaurant, Portage Bay Cafe in Seattle for their migas and French toast.
  • Visit the new Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle.
  • Drive up to see the flowers at Floret, a family farm specializing in unique and heirloom flowers.

Happy May to you all!

Farm

April Homestead Update

April 21, 2018

Spring is finally here and we are moving full steam ahead on several homestead projects. We also had the opportunity to spend time with my nephew during spring break. He spent a week with us during the first part of the month and he loved spending time with his favorite feathered friends and exploring the farm. We also spent a nice afternoon at a great park in Auburn and spent the evening watching ‘A Wrinkle in Time’. One of the highlights of spring break was visiting the Northwest Trek Wildlife Safari. We saw all sorts of amazing animals including lynx, beaver, otter, moose, big horn sheep, deer, elk, mountain goats, caribou, and the highlight of the trip, bison!

Our big homestead project this month was having the field cleared of all the blackberries and brush by a local company. They also cleared some of the dead and fallen trees and dug up some more tires and trash from the field. Although wet and muddy at the moment it feels great to have the field cleared. We can finally start to explore our whole property and start turning the field into a beautiful pasture. We seeded the field with a mix of Triticale, Ryegrass, and a mix of Clovers and Wildflowers for our bees this year.

Speaking of bees, on April 21st we picked up a package of bees for the hive my dad built for Christmas. With the new bee suit given by Lindsey’s parents for Christmas, we loaded the bees into the new hive, checked on the queen, added some sugar water, and buttoned up the hive to let the busy bees start building comb and gathering honey. More details on the hive setup in an upcoming blog. The next step is to add an electric fence around the existing fence into the apiary. We had another break-in with the black bear and we don’t want it getting a taste for honey!

After a busy day with the bees and at the farm, Lindsey has been relaxing doing some quilting and sewing. I can’t wait to see the end result when she is done with the project. It is so fun to have time to work on some old homestead crafts.

Family, Farm

Modern Farmhouse

March 29, 2018

It’s been a much-needed catch-up week on my release from jury duty! Aaron and I have spent a bunch of time out at the farm doing miscellaneous projects. It’s so cute to see the three chickens scratching and pecking around the farm. I’ve been telling Aaron I want some chickens that lay different colored eggs – blue, green, speckled, brown, etc. Today he ordered some baby chicks to arrive in July – 15 of them! They are mostly Ameraucanas, which lay the blue and green eggs. There are also some Welsummer, who will lay dark brown speckled eggs. He’s still looking to find us some Olive Eggers, which lay beautiful olive-colored eggs, and some Marans, which lay dark chocolate colored eggs. Because we ordered so many, we get a free “mystery” chicken with them! Ha!

Today we drove out to Auburn, which is only 15 minutes or so away now that we are in Bonney Lake. We needed to run to the bank and do some other errands, and I convinced Aaron to swing by Nordstrom Rack for a quick stop. 🙂 I found a beautiful periwinkle colored Eileen Fisher sweater that used to be $249 (gasp!) and was marked down to $30. Fun! Aaron waited patient for me to try things on, and when I came out, he greeted me with a happy “hi sweetie!” A few minutes later as we were getting ready to check out, a lady walked up to us and said “I just had to tell you – the way he greeted you coming out of the dressing room was so sweet. He’s a keeper.” 🙂 I thought, yep. He is!

On the way back home, we passed by a house that I hadn’t noticed before, but was done in a beautiful modern farmhouse style. I loved it so much I asked Aaron to pull over and I went up to knock on the door to see if anyone was home – I wanted to ask them who their builder was, as we are still trying to get that nailed down for the farm. No one was home, so I left a note telling them who we were and that we loved the style of their home and wondered if they would share the name of their contractor with us. We’ll see if they get back to us! Here’s a photo of the house. I love the white, vertical siding, the black gooseneck lamp above the garage door, and the black framed windows.

Family, Farm

Burn Piles

March 26, 2018

There was a small window of sunshine yesterday in the last week of rain, and Aaron and I put it to good use! We spent all day burning four huge piles of brush/brambles/wood from the trees we had to trim to get temporary construction power out to the farm. It felt really good to get rid of all that, and the drive in to the house now looks so much better. I tried to find a photo of the piles from before, but wasn’t able to – so just imagine four piles of yard waste at about six feet tall each! All of the brown, patchy areas in the picture are where the piles were – all the way up to the branches of the trees! The chickens loved scratching around in the newly-unearthed dirt and found lots of grubs and things to eat. There’s also a picture of us at the end of the day – unshowered and haggard! But happy. As you can see, Aaron’s mission to grow his hair out into a man-bun is coming along nicely. 🙂

Other recent happenings:

  • Rachel, Gavin, and kiddos surprised us a few weekends ago with a visit! They hadn’t seen our farm yet, so it was fun to show them around. We have little Aaron coming up to stay with us for a week during his spring break, and are looking forward to going to NW Trek, visiting the Tacoma vintage car museum, and taking a trip to Seattle if we have time.
  • This week is my spring break. Several months ago, I was summoned to federal jury duty and tried to get out of it – no one else is available to teach my classes in our program. They said that wasn’t sufficient, and all they could do was postpone it. So I scheduled it for the week of this break, BUT got the best surprise when I was dismissed before even having to show up. So I am using this unexpected week off to get a lot of other things done!
  • I’m teaching a new class this summer for the DNP – doctorate in nursing practice – program at PLU. It’s been so fun to collaborate with the nursing department on this. Students in the program have to take one class on family therapy for the psychiatric component of their degree, and that’s the one I’ll be teaching! I just finished up the syllabus for it, and am excited to see how it goes. It will only be four students this first round, so I’ll get plenty of time with each of them.
  • Aaron and I are going to Washington DC in a few weeks for a work event – I am going for the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapist’s to lobby for MFTs to be included under Medicare coverage. MFTs are one of five federally recognized mental health disciplines, and the other four are already included – so we hope to be on it soon too. After the event on Friday, we are taking the weekend to explore. High on our list is the new Museum of African-American History. Happy to hear other recommendations too!

 

Farm

March Homestead Update

March 18, 2018

Now that we are moved into our new apartment (see February Freeze post), we have had a little bit more time to devote to working on the farm. We received a wonderful boost when Lindsey’s parents came up for a few days and we hauled another 5,000 lbs of trash and recycling to the local dump. The mountains of trash and debris seem to be never ending by it feels like we are finally making headway. We also burned several piles of old wood and downed limbs and we are finally starting to see patches of earth that have been covered for the past several years.

Despite all the progress, homesteading is often taking two steps forward and one step back. Our RV (which served as a nice retreat for the in-laws and dogs) wouldn’t start when we needed to move it, and after jumping it a few times, I decided to just replace the battery completely. A couple hours and a $100+ later, we have a nice new working battery for an RV we now very seldom use. The next obstacle was the bus, our original project that got pushed to the back burner due to time and budget. Even gutted, the bus weighs over 18,000 lbs and after a couple of days of heavy rain we discovered that it sunk into the soft mud when we tried to move it. We tried to free it for a couple hours while Lindsey’s parents were here but it only seemed to slide further down the hill and put a couple of our outbuildings (and the bus) at risk. Luckily it dried out a bit this week and after another couple of hours digging out around all the tires and putting some gravel down, I managed to free the beast from its muddy tomb. We are hoping to clean the bus up a bit in the coming weeks and then try to sell it. While it would make an amazing mobile off-grid home, we have too many vehicles and too many projects at the moment.

In all of the trash and debris, occasionally you find a gem. We found an rusty old flatbed trailer buried in the blackberry bushes, but upon closer inspection it seems to be in decent condition. It needs a new deck and maybe some new tires at some point, but I was able to yank it out of the weeds with my truck and it seems to work fine. Can’t wait to see what else we find as we continue to clean and dig through the weeds and brambles on the farm. The chickens are loving all the cleaning as well as there is lots of fresh loose dirt, yummy bugs, and young green shoots to nibble. We are already talking about more chickens and Lindsey wants to get some Ameraucanas or Easter Egger mixes. While the chickens are mostly free range, we are setting up a large enclosed outdoor area for them to roam in safety that will also double as the apiary when we get bees in May. With bears, raccoons, feral cats, opossums, and who knows what else, we want to make sure our animals are safe. We also hope to get some goats as soon as we can get some temporary boundary fencing in place.

The house project continues to move forward (see Creating a Solid Foundation post) and we are hopeful to be able to start on major construction/remodeling this summer. Until then we will have plenty of work to do clearing blackberries, cutting down old damaged trees, continuing to clean and repair outbuildings, and prepping for new additions to the farm. Our goal this year is to finish the house and set the foundation for a self sustaining homestead. We will have well water (plus spring water backup or for irrigation) and septic on site and may look at solar in the future but for now we are lucky that there is grid power. And we would like to produce most of our food from our chickens, garden, and bees. Lindsey has been vegetarian her entire life and I have tried to embrace this as much as possible during the past year. Because of this, we will probably never have animals for meat and instead might utilize the pastures for rescue animals and/or field crops. I want to develop a large garden and greenhouse and we want to get into canning to keep us fed throughout the year. Eventually we hope to make a small supplemental income with the homestead through specialty crops such as garlic or herbs, or through crafts, woodworking, etc. A lot of ideas and possibilities!

Farm

Creating a Solid Foundation

March 11, 2018

One of the challenges in our remodel project has been what to do with the existing foundation. The house has a post and pier foundation with some massive beams but the house isn’t completely level and some of the posts are sitting on bare dirt. Several of the contractors we have talked to and our engineer have expressed concerns about the long term viability of the foundation. This week we talked with a company in Seattle that can add additional galvanized posts to support the beams and level the house. This could be a huge step forward in the project and we finally have a good path forward to keep the existing house vs tearing it down or building elsewhere on the property.

We have also been looking at ways to remodel the carport and incorporate it into the house redesign. One of the steps in doing this is decommissioning the underground oil tank and adding a new poured foundation, but this would give us an additional 480 square foot to work with. Currently we are thinking about moving the kitchen and mudroom/utility room to this spot. We are hopeful to have the foundation work finished and the framing and roof started by early summer. It has been an incredibly long process but we are still very excited about making this our forever home!

 

Family

Sunday Funday

March 5, 2018

Aaron is truly the guy I’ve dreamed of – he is just the best partner and friend. He regularly does things for me that totally make my day. We were really tired this last weekend from a stressful week, and Aaron told me he had something fun planned for Sunday. He surprised me by taking me to an early morning trip to a new Home Goods store in University Place – he knew I’d been trolling it for weeks waiting to see when it would open! To put this into context – Aaron’s likes shopping about as much as my dad does, i.e. he’d rather wait in a car than go in and look around (I introduced him to recreational browsing! Ha.). He patiently wandered the isles with me and carted around a huge Mason Cash forest mixing bowl I found for $11. It was so fun. As if that wasn’t enough, he took me to the Sew Expo at the Puyallup fairgrounds – I’ve been wanting to do that for several years and just haven’t had time before. Some of my favorite things from the Expo were the modern quilt designs, apparel fabrics from my favorite Seattle fabric store: Drygoods Design, and a WA-famous Fisher raspberry scone. I can’t wait to get into quilting and sewing more when we get settled.

Farm

Lady’s Eggs

March 5, 2018

We have three chickens now at the farm: Lady, Tweet Tweet, and Gardener. They’ve settled in to their new home and Lady is laying the BIGGEST eggs for us – they’re huge! Here’s one and a regular sized one for comparison. This one was a double-yolk too!