What a blind kid can do

In the process of adopting blind kids, we learned that only 2% of "blind" people are 100% blind; meaning they see absolutely nothing.  Most blind people can distinguish between light and dark.  Depending on each persons diagnosis, they may see everything blurred, kaleidoscope type things, their field may be only a tiny window as compared to what we see, etc.  Jenna is totally blind in one eye.  WIth the other eye, she has a very limited "window", and has to hold her head in just the right position, and be VERY close to see.  SO close, that when doing schoolwork, she ends up with pencil lead marks on her nose=).
Jenna is amazingly brave.  She rides a bike (no training wheels) FULL SPEED on the driveway.  She has learned the sound of the gravel, and mapped it in her mind.  But if you happen to be the oncoming traffic--watch out--you better get out of the way.  In one part of the yard there is a small hill that goes down to the driveway, with a row of crepe myrtles next to it.  Jenna thought it would be full to ride down the little hill.....and hit a crepe myrtle.  She then figured out that she could put the bike at the top of the little hill, walk it down, to make sure she was at a spot where there was no crepe myrtle, then go back up the hill and ride!  SHe's very good at figuring out how to make things work for her.
Jenna made this paper envelope for Waid's birthday.
It was filled with a card game she made, for Waid  to match the pairs of cars.  She thought it up all by herself, and made Waid a game that he is capable of playing...so very thoughtful.
Jenna drew this princess for Kristen's birthday.  Look at the detail of the pearls on the dress!  It took Jenna several hours to finish, but she stuck with it.  She uses her CCTV for things like this.
All the kids have recently been taught how to change the sheets on their beds.  Jenna does the neatest job of them all!!

Crazy horse and birthdays

The other day, Delilah would not move away from the gate for DH to get the tractor into the pasture.  So DH thought it he moved the bucket around, that Delilah would move.  Nope, she just licked the bucket.  We may have to get rid of Delilah.  At the age of 2.5, she needs lots of exercise, we just don't have the time to do that.  We need an old lazy horse=).
Waid recently turned 9.  He is very sweet and considerate.  On our last couple of errand days, he has told everyone we encounter, that they are beautiful!
Waid is mentally challenged and legally blind.  His vision is more functional than Jenna's, but he still needs to use a cane when we are out, and a CCTV for school work.  School progress is slow for Waid, but he knows all letters and sounds, and is reading simple words.  He is beginning to add single digits, and can match number pictures to their numbers.  He can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about excavators.
Kristen turned 23.  (Sorry for the bad picture).  She works at a mortgage company in Birmingham, and rents-to-own a house that we bought 1.5 years ago.

Thankful Thursday

On Thursday, it went down to to 22 degrees; everyone was in shock.  Thursday is our normal errand day.  While we were out, we heard that all the stores were out of heaters, and the propane gas companies had  waiting lists.
I am thankful that God knew the things we needed on this farm; even though we didn't realize it initially.  Among those things, are freeze proof water spickets.   All 5 of out outdoor spickets are freeze proof.  I didn't even know there was such a thing until we moved here.  When we were feeding animals in record low temps, I'm very thankful that we did not have to worry about frozen pipes too!
I am also thankful for the progress DH made in the den yesterday.  Spurred on by the freezing temps, he got the ceiling wired, wires dropped down for wall plugs, wall insulation up, and insulation blown in the attic!

Small boys come in handy getting tools in and out of the attic!  Thanks Wes.

Many hands make light work

There was an area over 40' long, by the milk barn, that had been washing away for years.  All the rain coming off the roof had made a substantial ditch.
Tuesday morning, we gathered and carted rocks from 2 other locations, and filled the ditch!  Everyone was happy and had fun, and we got it all done in a few hours.
OK, so not everyone worked.....Ben and Happy lounged around.







I'm thankful we got the job done just before a huge cold front rolled in.  Temps were in the 40's today, with a "feels like" temp of 34.  According to DH's car thermometer, it is 10 degrees colder here that it was in Birmingham at 2 and 3 o'clock.  We've never lived this far north before--I hope we can handle it.  I know some of you are laughing, but I don't even own a coat!  I have jackets, but not a coat.
After farm chores this evening, DH found a stowaway in his jacket.

Another new addition

Meet Happy!!!  Our new 6yo Great Pyrenees.
When me and the kids went to Tennessee to get him on Friday, he was NOT happy.  The previous owner said he had not been in a car in years.  He had to ride home tied in the back of the van, for over 2 hours.
On Saturday, he got to meet the other animals, and explore the farm on leash.
After 3 sad days on leash, we finally let him off.  We have one pasture that is fenced completely with cattle guard (meaning he could not escape).  We blocked the gates, and let him run.  Since he did not try to "escape", we decided to let him roam free today.
He ran around the largest pasture (inside the fence) first thing, and did not try to leave.  He then checked out all the other pastures, and laid down where we were working.  
I hope Happy is happy after all=)

More chicken talk

Fodder:  food, especially dried hay or feed, for cattle and other livestock. 

 Hmmm, these days it does not meet the definition of "dried", but more like "sprouted", I'd say.  
Fodder can be wheat, barley, oats, or rye, and I'm sure there are other grains that could be used.  The big thing is that the grain cannot be heat treated, making it a bit difficult to find in some areas.
Every day we soak about 6 cups of grain for 24 hours.  So each morning there is a new "batch" to pour into 2 of the pans shown above.  If done everyday, we have fodder to feed chickens everyday after the initial 6-8 day original sprouting time.
Holes have been punched in the pans, so water poured in the top pan drains down through the others. (Shelving has to be wire rack or plastic with holes). Watering is done twice a day.  We are blessed to have a room with a drain in the floor in the dairy barn, but we also have a pan under the shelf to catch most of the mess.

Our fodder trays sit in front of a sliding glass door, but most of the videos we watched on u-tube had success with just a regular window.  The chickens love this! and the cows are eating some too.  Each pan is broken into chunks, and it really goes a long way.  Several sources shared that they saved up to 75% on feed cost by growing fodder.  Since we are using only non-GMO feeds, we will welcome any savings.  I imagine the chickens will be especially thrilled to get their daily fodder as the weather gets colder, and free-range food is harder to come by.

Thanks Trina for pointing out (last post) that chickens need to scratch.  Our chickens are only on the concrete floored pens overnight. Also there is a 15x25 outdoor chicken run attached to their pen.
Has anyone else tried fodder?  Please share!!

Another dirty job

This is the milking pit in the old barn (not the one we will be using to milk).  There is a drain in there, but obviously it was stopped up.  There was at least 6" of debris in there.  While DH had the joy of shoveling out the pit, I shoveled out the sides, a storage room, 3 chicken coups, and another large covered area where the chickens hang out.  DH also was running the tractor back and forth to the burn pile with various debris.
Lucky you, I don't have a picture of the "before".  Seems the previous owner was a hardy believer in the deep litter method; for the past 20 years.  Although I understand that in cold climates, one must resort to the deep litter method, here in the south, I think it translates to "I'm not interested in keeping things clean, and I'm so glad someone coined a phrase to help me justify my lack of effort".
We started at 8am, and finished about 4.  Emmi fixed lunch and brought it to me, it was non-stop work.
I pressure washed for over 4 hours straight.  DH said it is about 1600 square feet.  We are so very thankful to have all of this on concrete!!  We can now easily maintain cleanliness with regular hosing out.

Happy chickens=more eggs, we hope!

Our newest additions

Boys room ( mostly) finished

The closet doors were taken down to remove the carpet.  I still have to paint them and re-hang them.
Going to Michael's later this week.  I have to get a frame for artwork to go over Waid's bed.  It's artwork from "A Gift from China" in Guangzhou.

I also MUST get a different lampshade, or a new lamp to go where the hot pink one is =).
More to come!

Dirty jobs

The previous owner had to be out of all barns, sheds, etc., a few days ago.  So when we had total possession, we got busy!  Our farm was originally a dairy farm; isn't God funny that way, our whole journey to the farm started with our switching to raw milk.=).  So the newer milking parlor was built in 1970.  Not sure when the dairy closed, but the last owner purchased it in 1994,  
The last of the milking days for the dairy, was probably the last time this place was cleaned.  Look at the difference in the above pictures of the 1/2 cleaned wall and ceiling.
We hope to paint the ceiling and lime wash the walls next week.  We keep discovering little blessings, we were not even aware that we were getting...an entire post for another day.
We discovered there are trenches in the concrete floor, that were covered with grating.  That is where the cows stood during milking, and any spills or waste could be hosed off, running through a drain to the septic tank for the building.  The previous owner had filled the trenches in with wood framing, and covered  them with plywood to make a level floor for himself.  
There were rails between the trench and the big "pit" in the middle.  The milker would be in the pit, to either hand milk or hook up electric milkers to the cows.  This cut out all the bending and stooping to get under the cows.  
Ultimately, I would love to have the trenches covered with grating again, and everything working as it was intended.  But, we will try to  be patient and work on various projects as money allows.  Right now I'm just thrilled to have a milking parlor that is indoors, and has a concrete floor, instead of milking in mud!  We may partially fill the trenches with concrete, to reduce the cost of grating.  Or we may build a stanchion strattling the trench for now; the plywood and framing is still intact over the "pit".  Any ideas for us????

Last weekend...

Everyone and everything loves to roam free on the farm.  Jake was home and we actually drove his car through the pasture to a spot for target practice.
The kids learned to play checkers (I know, they've been so deprived).

Jake bet that his bicep was bigger than Avery's waist. It is.  He proudly informed me that at his last workout, he bench pressed 315lbs eleven times, then 365lbs six times.  WHY does anyone need to lift that much weight???
My big boys on the tractor.

Emmi hand feeding a duck.
I have two more rooms completed (for the most part), I hope to show you later this week!