Friday, September 9, 2016

Dream a Dream

September 10th. That's our day. That's the day we signed the papers and made it official. That's the day we sold the house and bought the farm.

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Last year, our kids woke up to their new school year in a kitchen filled with boxes ready to be moved and were driven across town to attend a new elementary school and to meet new friends. This year, they woke to the sound of a crowing rooster-our rooster-and a meowing kitten on the porch, waiting for her morning meal. And then they all headed off to school to catch up with their friends and meet their new teachers.

This has been a year of transformations, for both our house and our family.  We spent the first few months here making our house livable.  We ripped out carpet and refinished floors, everything got a new coat of paint and we added square footage to give us all just a little more space.  In the spring, we took down our beloved barn and made plans for a new one to be built.  It seemed to take forever for the chill of winter to leave us, but when it did, we hit the ground running.  This summer has been one of constant change.

The house was stripped, nearly to its bones, and received new insulation in the roof and on the walls, and then a new roof was added, along with new siding, windows, and weatherproofing to ensure that this winter we don't have a constant breeze blowing through our house.  These projects were very time-consuming and labor-intensive and we are so thankful to all of our family and friends who offered their time and skills to get the jobs done.

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We converted our smallest shed into a chicken coop, complete with a secure chicken run, to protect our birds from the many predators we have around here.  We have seen raccoons, coyotes, opossum, hawks, and foxes, who would all enjoy a delicious chicken snack if given the opportunity.

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And although they are locked up tightly at night, during the day they roam the yard and all definitely make their presence known.  From clucks and squawks from the hens to quacks and honks from the ducks to the crowing from Rosie the rooster whenever he feels the need, there is rarely a quiet moment around here!

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Two of our hens have started laying eggs and there is daily excitement in checking their favorite laying spots for a little white or brown egg.

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At the end of May, we started our garden.

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 We've never had a garden before, but it was something we were all looking forward to.  We planted three kinds of tomatoes, three kinds of peppers, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, pickles, onions, and carrots.  In another area, we threw two kinds of pumpkin seeds in the ground and a few watermelon seeds, too.  The garden has definitely been a learning experience. There were a few failures: the carrots, watermelon and onions didn't really do much and the peppers only produced minimally, but there were some great triumphs, too.  The tomatoes are amazing, the sugar snap peas were abundant, and the pickles gave us enough to can a huge batch and we had a great time assembling the jars as a family.

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 Our biggest surprise is the pumpkins.  At first I was hoping to just get anything from what we planted.  Then, as they started to grow, I was confident we'd have enough for each of our kids to have their own pumpkin for Halloween.  And now?  Now I think we are going to have 15-20 good-sized pumpkins!  We love going out to check on everything that's growing and are already making plans for a bigger and better garden and pumpkin patch for next year.

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In June, we added our puppy, Winston, into the mix.  He is loving this farm life and I think I have finally convinced him that trying to eat the family chickens is not in his best interest.  Now he's content to mostly ignore them, unless they try to eat his food which will guarantee a fun game of chicken-dog tag with the dog ultimately winning.

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In July, while running with Owen and Emerson, we stumbled upon a kitten meowing loudly from the ditch.  She ran with us all the way home and now Miss Gypsy is a part of our family, too.  She is often found on the porch, asleep among the shoes, but can also be seen sticking her paw through the cage to pet Smokey the bunny, or scaling a tree to watching us all from above.

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You'd think with five kids, ten chickens, three ducks, a bunny, a kitten, a puppy and a home full of projects waiting to be tackled that I'd barely have time to blink, right?  Well, somehow since moving here I've also managed to train for and run two marathons and two ultramarathons.  I know the ins and outs of every road in this town now.  I squeeze in runs early in the morning or just before dark or during kids' sports practices or at the gym.  I know that it's twelve miles around the local lake and that if I get caught up in my audiobook and miss my turn, that loop turns into fifteen miles.  I make time for my runs because they are important to me.  But I've found something else that's important, too.  I've found that sitting still and just being can teach you so much.

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 There is a chair under the apple tree where I sit.  If I'm home and you can't find me, that's where I am.  That chair is the center of a universe.

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There are often chickens at my feet or on my shoulders and a kitten in my lap.

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There is the sound of the occasional apple falling from the tree and thumping to the ground, and a boy who collects them in his trailer.

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There is the sound of dirt bikes out in the field, racing their way around the track that has been made by many, many laps.

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I can hear children whispering as they play with their friends and peek out of the beans that are now quite tall.

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The kids run over to show me the frog they caught at the pond,

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or the snake they found hiding in the wood pile,

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or the big turkey who kindly allowed himself to be carried around,

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or the chicken poop they accidentally stepped in and need help removing.

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I often sit in that chair until the chickens have made their way into the coop and the sun has sunk out of sight.  It never gets boring-it is my peace.

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Everyone has their favorite part about living here.  It really is a great place.  Where else can you jump into hay from the second story of a barn,

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and drive an old tractor carrying heavy turn-of-the-century beams,

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and pet furry chicken feet,

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and visit a mouse in a mailbox,

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and rub a puppy belly,

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and snuggle baby chicks to sleep,

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and watch tree frogs on your bedroom window,

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and hunt for eggs from chickens you raised from their very first day of life,

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and throw on a pair of boots and get muddy, 

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and grow sunflowers taller than you can reach,

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and learn what baby box elder bugs look like,

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and skip home from church,

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and get piggy back rides from dad on hot, sunny days?

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We could never have imagined a year ago that this would be our life now.  We dreamed a dream, though, and little by little, we're turning that dream into reality.

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