Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Autumn at Make-It-Do Farm

You thought you could escape without hearing me blather on about autumn, didn’t you? Ha! 
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Our place beginning to be covered in leaves.
We hosted our first annual Fall Festival. I suspect this will replace the former annual Box Turtle Race I used to host in the spring. It was always difficult to pull off a big gathering when there was so much garden work to be done, but it was worth it. Now, however, we just don’t have as many other children in our lives to make such a shindig worthwhile. And we’re totally into the autumn scene, with the cool weather, campfires, cozy sweaters, hot drinks, steaming bowls of chili and plates piled high with carbs…   Anyway, we kicked it off this year and I think we’re off to a good start.
Justin helping BeBop check out the fireplace.
We bought a couple cord of decent firewood and had it stacked right quick with everyone pitching in. Our friend Russ was good enough to stop by and sweep our chimney, and my dad came over to help us refigure our stove, which we had piped out through the old fireplace. 
Dad cut out the old damper, we cleaned the heck out of everything (at least 30 lbs. of creosote and ash) with Dad's shop vac, thanked the Flying Spaghetti Monster that we’d never had a chimney fire, and Dad worked some magic on the opening, covering it with cement board and rigging up some new stovepipe. The draw on that baby is remarkably improved. I tell you what, if there’s a zombie apocalypse, I want my dad by my side. The man has more practical knowledge and skill in his little pinky than I’ll ever have (though I like to think it rubbed off on me just a wee bit), more than anyone I know. (My brother is a close second.) He usually has the right tool for the job and nearly every other time we work together I’m introduced to a tool I didn’t know existed. Anyway, he’s our go-to guy, and we definitely needed help with this project.
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Kids enjoying the fire on the first frosty morning.
Den and I bought new replacement parts as necessary for the stove. I sanded it, washed it, and gave it a new coat of paint (high heat Rustoleum, from the automotive dept—worked great). We enjoyed our first fire a few nights ago. The new catalytic combustor allowed for a clean burn. I couldn’t even see a wisp of smoke coming out of the chimney once it activated and it kept all the heat in the house where it belongs. Most excellent. I’m so tickled Denny is willing to do what it takes to do things the right way. 
Blue & Justin scouting fish
We rearranged our 55 gal fish tank (in above photo) and some of the kids volunteered to spend a couple sunny afternoons wading in the creek, catching some more fish to populate it. 
 Several red bellied daces, spotted topminnows, stone rollers, orange throat darters, a tiny long-ear sunfish, and one banded sculpin. We looked them all up in the Missouri fish book and called it school.
I also did this:

It’s my first rock balancing, but I plan to make it a habit. Our friend Russ turned us on to it. Surprisingly enjoyable, especially while at the creek.

Loving some rainy fall days...
Nice weather for kids

…and bright sunny fall days. 

Photo 10 22 2014 16 53 34The above was taken during one of my and Denny’s daily, 2-mile walks. Well, almost daily. Pretty, eh? We pretty much live in paradise. To the right is another photo from the same walk. Denny is rockin' his solar-viewing glasses, checking out the huge spot on the sun. I had mine on for a bit, too. Wonder what drivers-by thought when they saw us in our geeky glasses, walking and staring at the sun? Hehe.

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We celebrated our second-ever Halloween by donning costumes and attending our small town’s gathering Halloween shindig. Local business owners and other groups line the courthouse square and hand out candy. Farra dressed everyone (except me & Den. We went naked).
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Blue & Little raking leaves
Yesterday the weather warmed a bit, up in the mid 60’s. The sun was shining and the yard was covered in crispy leaves, mostly oak. After errands in the morning and a lunch of popcorn, Den, myself, and some of the kids headed out to do yard work. We raked, mowed, and mulched some new garden beds. We buried the less hardy herbs under mountains of mulched leaves, raked pine needles up around the acid-loving blueberry bushes, planted a couple rows of garlic with a hearty helping of composted goat manure, herded the chickens and ducks out of the garden and shut the gates—sorry guys, garden party is over. Can’t have them scratching up the garlic.
Photo 11 03 2014 15 37 16Denny headed to the barn to put the gas can away. Mower battery went dead, so we will have to finish on the next nice day. But it’s sure lookin’ pretty out there.

The afternoon passed so sweetly, if a bit dustily. Working the land with your loved ones in the warm sunshine… is there anything so soul-nourishing? Maybe preparing dinner. Peeling and cutting potatoes and leeks in the kitchen with your family, dancing to Santana’s Oye Como Va, making a delicious soup while the sky darkens outside the windows.
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I could fill pages with descriptions of our days. The joys, the challenges, the sweet moments, the laughter. Life is good.

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