I have seedlings!

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The first of the peppers are up! Appropriately, it’s the Ozark Giant bell pepper.

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Several other peppers are up, but they’re too small to photograph.  Next up, Tomatoes! I got 8 varieties of peppers, and 7 of tomatoes. In fact, I ordered over $100 of seeds from Baker Creek Seed Company, and I am so excited to grow delicious veggies! Now all I need is a garden to put them in. If only it would stop raining for a minute!

Come on over

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This is what the driveway looked like when we first saw our property: DSCN4140

This is the view from the road. Now, this next one is facing the opposite way, but look how much more homey the driveway is now! Once the mud wore off, we discovered it actually has a layer of gravel, which is quite the bonus.

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Buster sure is enjoying it! He’s waiting in the driveway for Adam to come home, and then he wanted to know what I was up to. I’ll Update when there are leaves on the trees. (Hopefully that will be soon!)

Spring has Sprung

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With deepest apologies to my many Kansas friends, Spring is here! It’s raining buckets today, and it’s supposed to freeze again for a couple nights, but spring is definitely here.

Witness, Daffodils in the field:

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I have oodles of them, which is a happy surprise in the grass for a change.

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I brought a bunch in, and another bunch to Debbi’s house, and they smell divine. So, wherever you are, and whatever the weather, enjoy this:

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And also this:

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(With a hot drink if you have to!)

Adam digs a hole

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Initially, we had determined to rent a backhoe to dig the hole where our future house will go. But then Adam said he’d just dig it with a shovel, since he didn’t have much else to do. Although he does have a lot to do, like rip up old fencing, fence the new garden, tear down the old lean-to, chop trees for the house, chop cedar trees just cause they’re there, muck out the pond, clear the rubble from the old foundation, and so on. But it’s nice out, so he started digging. Also I fed him steak and eggs for breakfast, so he had lots of energy.

 

 

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Buster looked on as Adam dug the very first hole for our new house! He is at the far south-west side of the future house.

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It’s so nice how his pants and shoes are still clean in this one. But then he got down to business. And changed his shoes. And decided he needs some work boots sooner rather than later.

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He was using the spade to loosen up the soil, and the shovel to chuck it out of the hole.

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They did a lot of chasing each other and barking, so now they’re worn out. And they can’t figure out why Adam is digging a hole in the middle of the field.

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What we have here is very heavy, wet, red clay. It alternates across the hill with rocks. Lots of rocks.

After about 2 hours of digging, there’s a 4×6 3 foot deep hole. We are planning a partially earth-sheltered house. Which means that Adam will have to go down about 8 feet in this location, then go 48 feet east, where the depth will only need to be 2-4 feet. He has reconsidered renting a backhoe.

 

Pop Quiz

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Name this item we discovered in the grass this week:

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Adam thought maybe it was some kind of alien/cylon milker. But it’s not. Can you guess it?

 

ETA:

Right on, Girls! It’s hot rollers! Or, at least, it used to be hot rollers before someone set it on fire.

Poky Things

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I have spent much of the winter keeping a mental record of things that are poky here. There’s a lot of ’em. First are the natural offenders. Blackberry brambles are quite poky, but they’re enormous and visible from a distance, so I can avoid them.
We also have “witaba trees” (name that movie!). We call them that for two reasons: First because it is winter, so we have no idea what kind of tree they are. Second, because they have a shocking amount of thorns, which increase in size according to the size of branch they are on. The big branches have 3 inch thorns, but it’s the little ones that reach out to trap you. They cling to clothes, hair and skin in a remarkably poky way that has me yelling for Adam to untangle me. You’d think I could avoid a tree, but there is a lot of brush here, and some of them are very small trees.
Perhaps it’s my own carelessness that gets me trapped by thorn trees, but the rosbushes are conciously trying to get me. I’m sure in June I’m going to be all “there are roses everywhere! How lovely!” But right now there are leafless wild rose stems everywhere, and I can’t walk thru the grass without them grabbing my jeans and shoes and sleve cuffs. I’m getting poked and tripped.  They don’t grow as bushes until they’re really quite large, but are just single strands of viny rose mixed in with all the other knee-deep vegetation. I’ve gotten so unless I’m bleeding, I just rip myself free and move on.
The other thing that lies hidden in the deep grass is barbed wire. This place has clearly been occupied for a long time, but no one has ever removed old fencing, they’ve just put up more fencing in new places. Back at our “dump” there are rolls of the stuff, but it is also strewn all over the property and grown over. If we live here for 30 years, which I hope to at the least, we will still be finding it by tripping over it.
Last, but certainly not least is the glass. It’s everywhere. A house burned down, and all its windows are now curly, blackened, wickedly sharp shards that lie mostly in heaps. This kind of makes sense, but it seems that daily I find broken glass while rambling through the woods. I planted out garlic, using some topsoil to fill the pot,and had to pause to pick bits of glass out of it. Then a bit got stuck down in the finger of my glove. Later I discovered daffodills around the old house and was clearing the grass away when I felt a sudden pain in my knee and saw that i was bleeding through my jeans. The old front window was in a blackened heap- once again hidden by the grass. But that’s not the worst of it. Adam accidentally broke the little window in our door, slicing his hand badly and requiring 24 stitches! It was Quite Horrid.  Shards were everywhere. The next day I carried a bucket around and picked up more than 5 gallons of broken glass. And that’s just around the old house. Image

Now that it’s warming up, I’m so tempted to go around barefoot, But I’m pretty sure it’s not safe yet. Or at least that my feet aren’t toughened up enough yet.

Kansas vs. Missouri

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There are a lot of differences between KS and MO that have come to my attention in the last few months.
Let me say that, as a young person raised in Colorado, I was always pretty hard on KS. But after more than 10 years there, it grew on me. I learned to appreciate the simple beauties and the wonderful people. We honestly felt we would never leave.

Yet, when we felt God urging us to make a change, there wasn’t too much sadness about leaving KS. For one thing, it’s flat. Real flat. One time in college I was lamenting the lack of hills and a friend said, “There’s a hill on the way to Hutch.”  One hill in 30 miles. If you can call it a hill, which I don’t unless you can see it from a distance. Kansas has rises and occasional gullies, but in general it does not have hills. (OK, the Eastern part does, but we didn’t live within 2 hours of hills.)

In contrast, MO seems to be almost all hills. I find this quite nice, even though our driveway is at the bottom of a really big one. Our Home Site is against a south- facing hill, always protected from the North and West winds. Next year we’ll probably clear part of the pasture for sledding (Sledding!). And I love the local Highway driving. It’s all hills and curves. It’s like driving thru the Rockies, but without the 500 foot drops and the crumbling cliffs.

And this brings us to another point, which is that roads here have curves. In KS, country roads are straight, and usually either numbered or alphabetical. You can’t get lost, because everything is an ordered grid. This is quite helpful. The roads here in MO are numbered, too, but every time they come to one of the aforementioned curves, the number changes. You can become hopelessly lost in moments. And don’t even bother with Google Maps, because it can’t keep the numbers straight anyway.

But,if you get lost on country roads in MO, at least you’ll enjoy the scenery. There are Trees! KS can be quite lovely with its rolling fields of wheat, corn or sunflowers. But trees are few and far between. Here, there are so many trees they’re probably a nuisance to people, I predict a minimum of ten years before I get irritated by them.

Most wonderfully, probably because of all the trees and hills here, it’s not windy. In KS we used to chuckle when we would hear about poor Floridians suffering “Tropical Storms”. 50mph winds are nothing, honey. Try 70mph straight line, with a thunderstorm behind it. My roommate once got blown off the sidewalk.

But this week, sitting by the fire in our cozy trailer, we found out for sure that where we build our house the wind won’t blow. We watched 7 inches come swirling down (nothing to what they got in KS!) and the little hollow by the Oak of Righteousness was calm. DSCN4535

Protected by hills one 3 sides, and trees on 2 sides, it quietly, calmly accumulated snow.
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Today, the only thing I miss about KS is the people I love.

Beauty for Ashes

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It’s been a long winter. I’ve wanted to blog a lot, but between the spotty internet service and the bummerific circumstances… I haven’t. We’ve had our share of illness, sadness, frustration, and delays. So far, our land and house plans are completely on hold as we wait for Spring, or a new chainsaw, or just the energy to persevere. Not much has gone our way in the last few months. Downton Abbey didn’t even end on a happy note.

A bright spot of the winter has been our church. We’ve been refreshed and strengthened every time we go thru the doors. I went this weekend to Pure Joy, a ladies’ outing (which was incidentally held in the Sight and Sound Theatre in Branson, which gave me not so much Theatre Envy as Theatre Ohmygoodness!). It was a lovely, refreshing evening out where I got to know some ladies from church, join in great praise, and have a good laugh. The theme verse was Isaiah 61:3- specifically “a crown of beauty instead of ashes.”

I found this particularly encouraging. The entire chapter is an uplifting promise of restoration and redemption. But Beauty for Ashes is special to me right now because all I have out on my land is a pile of ashes. There was once a house there, but now there is just a garage and a big, ash-filled hole in the ground. There’s also a lot of broken glass and rusted metal and blackened bricks.

(And at some point before the house burned down, someone took the entire contents of the house, dragged it to the back of the acreage and dumped it. There’s a huge trash heap there, which is partly cool, because we are finding “treasures” in it and recycling scrap metal for cash, but it’s also partly a pain in the butt because, eventually, we will want it all to be cleaned up, and we have no idea how they got it all the way back there, up the hill and thru the woods, or how to get it out again.)

In November I cleaned up some of the ash pile. And the promise was there, even as I sorted glass and nails into piles. DSCN4367

I am reminded that God has a good plan for us. I am sure and certain that we are where He wants us to be. That means that he is going to turn the ashes of this disappointing Winter into a beautiful Spring. He will help us to turn this neglected acreage into a beautiful home where we can share hospitality and rest from our labors. He is going to enable my plans for raised beds and a chicken coop. He wants to change my ashes for beauty.

Today I have the oil of gladness instead of mourning. Today I claim my garment of praise, instead of despair. And I think I’m going to name my beautiful big tree that will someday shade the house the “Oak of Righteousness.”

The dogs like it here

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The dogs really like it here. We’re getting settled on our land in our camper. 14 acres is a lot of land for two people and two dogs to explore. And we’re exploring! It’s about half pasture and half woods, and every day we’re making new discoveries. You can walk for hours up hills, through grass, under trees, and across stream beds and still be on our land. It’s quite exhilarating.

But, I don’t think anyone could be happier than these two dogs. After more than 18 months of riding in cars (which they do very well) and being staked out on tie-downs (which they do very grudgingly), they can run and sniff to their hearts’ content. Two hour-long walks per day is nothing to Buster. (Although it seems to be Jack’s limit. He turns 11 this month.) They can roll exuberantly in the deep grass. Then there’s the bones to consider.  Not only are there tons of tasty deer bones to discover in the tall grass, at some point a cow died out here. (Or possibly a bison. These bones are huge!) There are aproximately 10, 000 trees to pee on and for once, Buster is pacing himself.

But I think what is making them the most happy is that they can tell WE are happy. They’re very intuitive puppies, and they really do care how we feel. One of my life’s dreams has been to sit outside each morning with my coffee and pet Jack. I think that’s been one of Jack’s dreams, too, because he happily complies.

 

P.S. Living this rurally has its limitations. While we sort of get internet during the middle of the day, we’re on the lookout for a good rural phone and internet provider so I can post more frequently!

Loss

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This was supposed to be the day where I announced, with a flourish, that we had finally become land owners.Yes,our dreams have all come true! Yesterday we finalized the purchase of our dream homestead. But I can’t muster a lot of hoopla, because this has been an absolutely horrible week so far.

Travis, whom you will remember from the beginnings of this blog, took his own life this week.We’re crushed. Stunned. Heartbroken.

He was a thoughtful and caring friend. He was riotously funny, a master of the unexpected (unusual) punchline.He was a deep thinker, an asker of the hard (profound) questions.He was a servant, always looking for a way to be helpful. He was so very kind.

He was my husband’s best friend through many years, serving as groomsman in our wedding.He and Adam spent hours messaging each other when they were distant, and sitting up talking time travel and philosophy when they were near. And I couldn’t even count the hours of Skyrim. Or the constant jokes of “who would win between…”

This summer we became even closer friends. The Ren Fest will do that to you. We spent weeks camping in close proximity, eating around a propane stove, going to the store for sweet tea, narrowly evading the Colorado wildfires. He fed our dogs and taught my niece to shoot a bow and arrow.

Travis was with us when we looked at properties to buy this fall. He was a huge help, reminding us to ask the pertinent questions and giving his opinion without reservation. He was nearly as excited as we were, and had planned with Adam the work they would do this winter to start preparing the land to build.

Travis struggled for years with depression. We knew this. We counseled and prayed with him many times. Yet this loss is so unexpected, so sharp.

We went out to the land today. Our land. And it was hard because we’d not been there without him.