Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Happy One Year Anniversary- Alpaca

Editor's Note: This post was scheduled to be posted on 7/12, however, someone hacked my blog and stopped it.  So far, I cannot find anything else wrong with it.  Isn't that weird?  There is a weird conspiracy against our Alpaca's first anniversary???

July 12, 2012: Today marks the official one year anniversary of owning livestock and specifically our alpaca, Buzz and Phantom.  I will never forget a year ago when Amy flipped out after finding Phantom for sale on Craigslist last June.  She brought the idea up that we should get him and I went along with it (unusual if you know me).

The man we bought them from refused to just sell us one because these are herd animals and require companionship.  Excited for another year and hopefully we can add some females soon so these bachelors get a little culture in their lives!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Where to put the Chickens?

As the summer dwindles and I gear back up for another school year, we can't help but look at our beginning of summer goal sheet and see how we did.  Goats, check.  New car, check.  Roof the garage, happening on Thursday.  Build a coop for the chickens...ugh.  Looks like we have some work to do these last couple of weeks.    
When we bought the property, we knew we had four buildings.  The barn, house and garage speak for themselves but the little cob house which sits behind the house was never put to use.  It has no electricity, no shelves, only one window and two doors.  What better way to utilize this building than use it as a chicken coop?  

So, when Amy and I work up the courage and energy we are going to attach to this building some fencing that will allow our 27 chickens outside space as well as a comfortable roost and nests on the inside.  I will call it Camp Kluck-Kluck.  I am willing to listen to some suggestions on the name. :) 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Goats and the Jeep

June 7, 2012: We picked up our two new Nubian goats: Peppermint Twist and Gypsy Rose.  These two goats are each one year old, and have each had twins.  We purchased them from a very wonderful breeder in Hickman, NE.  If you look on the map at Lancaster County, you will quickly realize it is a huge county.  Although Hickman is in the same county, it took 45 minutes to get there!

They are both still full of milk and must be milked twice a day.  We have not actually consumed cow's milk since our last gallon ran out shortly after bringing them home.  It has been a wild transition, but goat milk tastes just like cow's milk.  We also have made butter, cheese, and ice cream with the milk.  It is pretty wild to think about how much you use those everyday things and we are creating it right here.  When I am not a summer bum I would frequently have to stop on the way to get either 1% milk for Amy and I or 2% for Ayla.  Now that inconvenience was eliminated.

But how in the heck does this relate to the Jeep?

June 7, 2005: As a graduation from college present my Dad aided me in the purchase of a car.  In 2005 gas was not nearly as expensive as it is now, and I was enamored with owning a Jeep Liberty after having driven in one that year.  So, we purchased a used 2002 Jeep Liberty with 32,000 miles on it.  I owned it, loved it, hated it when gas got out of hand (see: 2008-present).

So, seven years later, the goats got a ride home in the Jeep.  Go back in time and tell that 21 year old fool he would own land, alpacas, donkeys, chickens, have two kids and so on, he would laugh...or cry.  And then, tell him that seven years after getting that shiny "new" car there would be goats in it, he wouldn't have known what to say!

Thus, all that is left to do is share the love affair between the goats and the Jeep.  As a postlude to the story, the Jeep was traded in on June 26, 2012 for a 2009 Ford Expedition (which is pretty HUGE).  I will now drive my wife's 2008 Ford Escape.  We are pretty happy, but it was pretty bittersweet to see her go.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Year 2: "The Garden"

In a post on June 17, 2011 I wrote the following:

"Of course, one of the main reasons we purchased this land was not to garden on a small scale, but was to eventually grow lots of organic produce. Our future plans include at least an acre of the good, organic produce, but this being Year One we are being responsible and staying small. Here are some pictures of our current endeavors."

Last year we built a silly little green fence over a really small area and pretended we were happy with the small gardening space.  One of the more difficult things about moving out here in May was that the reality of developing a garden was super unlikely.  Also, we had 2.9 acres of corn in our backyard--there wasn't any garden area, which is why the small polygon of garden was all we could manage.  As you read above, our goal was to have a large, one acre garden by now.  Well, I suppose we are close:

This isn't even the whole garden, but I'll explain...
 We have converted around .75 to "garden", but considering all the time we spend tending it, we should really call it a field :).  Here is what is going on:
Corn Field, we planted over 1000 seeds of white sweet corn.  So far, we are having a decent amount of seedlings emerge.
Rows and rows of green beans!

4 of the 6 raised beds filled with carrots, beets, potatoes, lettuce, kale, swiss chard, and spinach!
The Pumpkin Patch.  There are 61 mounds of pumpkins.  It took a long time.  And we don't really need that many pumpkins.
Pumpkin seedling!
 The garden is growing, I didn't even get to show you the 20 mounds of cantaloupe, 30+ mounds of squash (we call it the baby food garden for Bram), the raspberries or the second corn plot.  If all goes according to plan, we could be pretty happy in September!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Year One in Review: May 2011

On April 29, 2011 we moved into our new adventure.  Each day we will post a month-by-month breakdown of the last 12 months.  Some months were exciting, and others were not. 

APRIL 2011
APRIL 29: The 29th was also Ayla's birthday.  We moved in with two trucks and lots of help and love.  APRIL 30: We slept a lot and ate pizza.  Brand new appliances were delivered.

MAY 2011
MAY 1: Celebrated Ayla's birthday, she is two!
MAY 2: I returned to work.  Amy continued to unpack mountains of boxes and start our life out here.  I hid in my work and tried not to get overly involved or eager.  I was distant at best.
MAY 8: Purchased a riding mower.  This was awesome.
MAY 9-26: Blur.  School year was ending and my energy was focused there.  I am sure we unpacked a lot of boxes.  We also tilled land for an herb garden. 
MAY 27: School ended.  Time to get involved with the acreage.

See, not all months are glamorous.

Celebrating Year ONE in the Edge!

On April 29, 2011 we moved into our new adventure.  We left the comforts of city life with our 2 year old daughter and decided to make a new life on the county line.  In my very first post, it was easy to sense my dismay and caution towards living here.

This blog became my therapy during the summer months of 2011.  I needed this.  I needed to share with others our story in hopes that there were others out there.  I hoped a community would form from this, but unfortunately I have yet to find the same kind of people as us, but I will continue to search.  When I had to return to school in August the blog became spotty and days, weeks or months would go by without posts.  As summer of 2012 nears I can see this will change again.

So what was year one like?  Here is a month-by-month breakdown, (again, a continuation of my therapy) of 2011.  We have done so much to this house and land it is exciting to document the changes.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

We are the 27%!

According to the 2010 census, 73% of Nebraska residents now live in urbanized areas.  These 73% live in about 1% of land in the state. 

We are the 27%. Although, it should be noted that at the time of 2010 census, we were part of the 73%, but that not relevant. 

Here is the link to the Lincoln Journal Star article.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The grass is growing!

On Sunday, March 18, the team went out and threw (literally) 75 pounds of grass seed on 1 acre of our land.  Everyday, yes, even the day after, we have been frantically checking to see if our baby grass was growing.  Today, we are happy to report, we've got oodles of grass popping up.  Better yet, tomorrow is supposed to rain after four days of warm sun.  This grass should go bananas after tomorrow!

Thanks Aunt Jaime and Uncle DooDoo for your help!  The Alpacas and Donkeys will be thrilled.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cool Pic

This picture was taken by Amy on Friday morning.  It is a beautiful foggy start to the day and we wanted to share it with you.  Enjoy.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

You can only laugh... :)

The team from a far  :)
You are given the task of seeding 2.9 acres.  Your three bags of 25lb pasture seed (not enough), a team of four, and no discernable way to actually spread the seed other than a small hand crank from when you lived in Lincoln on a measly .17 acre lot.  On top of that it is windy, you have a three year old who is defiantly "nooping" in the lawn and a one month old who is mostly asleep.

Sounds like today's hilarious misadventure.  Although I have some pictures of the hilarity, it will not paint the full picture.  If you had driven by and seen Amy driving a tractor with both kids in her lap while me, my brother-in-law and his fiance launched seed--by hand--for 2 acres you would have been saying mean things about us on facebook.  It was truly a sight.

We were urgently trying to complete this project because it is going to rain tomorrow and likely Tuesday.  Laying new seed and having the rain plant it is a win-win, so we were up to the task.  Unfortunately I did not buy enough seed and we didn't complete at least .5 acre, but we can get that in the future.  We'll see what fruit this shall bare in the coming weeks, I hope it was worth it. 
Materials in the cart
Amy and Ayla...a clear demonstration of the wind!

Aunt Jaime is helping-seed in hand!

Here I am holding a lot of seed, letting the wind do the work.

Uncle Andrew, aka 'DooDoo' helping with the fun

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Painting our Raised Beds

Amy is painting our raised beds with a stain that is tinted green.

She doesn't know I am taking the pictures, boy will she be mad!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Hey, we built that!

We have been busy this week.  Not as busy as we would like to be, sometimes two little ones distracted us, but we have been busy nonetheless.  Spring break coupled with warm weather has been a very good thing for us this week.  We took on a multitude of projects including some minor building!

The Compost Pile was finally completed.  Amy has been wanting one since we moved in, it was simply a matter of finding the right design.  We used fence posts and wooden snow fencing to create our design.  We created two different piles so we can have two separate stages of compost.  The project took around 90 minutes to complete!

Also, the compost pile is the first thing to go into the 2.99 acres of space that we must fill.  It is at the edge of the produce section and will soon be joined by...

The raised beds.  We built six in all using 2 x 10s and 3.5 inch long exterior wood screws.  These took only a couple of hours and Amy is now in the process of painting them green.  They will be the first fixtures of the produce section and will contain a variety of garden goodies.  The best part is that our compost pile will supply much of the foundation for the dirt.  Fun fact, one of the beds is going to be a baby food garden bed.  Our goal is not have to buy any baby food for Bram.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Chickens are ordered

Before we moved out here I would never have been able to tell you that people ordered chicks through catalogs.  They do.  I guess it makes a little sense, how are you supposed to start a flock (is flock the right word?) without a little help to get started.  We used Murray McMurray Hatchery, a catalog which Amy has been turning the pages of for over two years.  Today was a big day for her.

On Monday May 14 we will get a call from the post office that our 25 chicks (+1 mystery chick, more on that later) will be ready for pick up.  Amy and Bram will get in the car and pick them up.  They come in a box and are no older than 72 hours.  They have yet to eat or drink anything.  The first nutrition they receive is when they are finally in their new home.  I think it is an exercise in team building, but I am not overly sure.

So what did we order?  Great question, I'll include pictures also!

Barred Rocks  (4 ordered)
 The Barred Rock is one of the all time popular favorites in this country.  They are steady layers and lay brown eggs. 

Buff Rocks (3)
When you think of the "stereo-typical" chick: yellow, small, are thinking of the Buff Rock at birth.  They lay brown eggs.

Rhode Island Reds (5)
I say, I say, I say, you ordered RI Reds?  Could you be more generic in your chickens so far?  No.  That is the way we like, well...most of us.  You will soon see that Amy does not like to play it safe the whole time.
Silver Laced Wyandotte 5
These beautiful birds lay a fine egg, but what attracted us to them is their capability to lay in the winter.  The typical hen does not lay in the cold months, however the Silvers do.  We decided they definitely belonged in the flock.

Araucana 6
No picture of an actual bird.  This breed has been so over-bred they lack a uniform look.  I have instead posted a picture of the egg color they commonly lay.  These birds are known for laying an array of "easter egg" colored eggs.  We ordered six simply because that fascinated us.

Golden Polish 2
These are Amy's walk on the wild side.  I for one was unaware that chickens came in so many varieties, colors, choices.  Amy, as usual, embraced this and found what I think is one of strangest looking birds: the Golden Polish.  They lay eggs but if you ask me, they look like the kind of bird that the rest of the gang is going to pick on, perhaps literally.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Security Blanket GONE

A view of the PANIC.
We own 5.61 acres, which is a small kingdom.  According to the gov't, 2.99 of those acres are "agriculture" and in 2011 they were corn grown by a real farmer.  That farmer man will not be operating our land this year, we are.  As I stare out into the 2.99 acres that once were corn, one feeling pops into my mind:


What in the world are we going to do with 2.99 acres?  We don't have the money, and with two small children we definitely lack the time to do with it what we want.  You throw in the fact that we lack anything larger than a riding lawn mower in terms of equipment and we have ourselves a real conundrum.  My biggest concern is the outbreak of weeds that is going to occur without constant tending.  Enter the plan.

It's (mostly) Amy's plan and is right now just a beautiful aerial drawing of our land.  The plan won't come into full form this summer, but you can see where her mind is going.  About 3/4 of the land will eventually be fenced in and used for our alpacas.  The other quarter will be the organic vegetable gardens.  Part one of the plan is to build 4-6 raised beds that will become a baby food garden for Bram.  Since it is spring break I am looking to build those by the end of the week. 

Your positive thoughts are welcome!  :)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Baby Boy is here!

I am proud to announce the arrival of our son: John Bram.  John is the family name and he will be the fifth in a row, however, we will deviate a little and call him by his middle name Bram.  Bram was born on 2/16/12 at 9:42am.  He weighed in at a very healthy 9lb 2oz (don't worry, scheduled c-section) and was a hearty baritone as he entered the world.

His big sister Ayla loves him and is always wanting to hold him.  And...she also is a humongous pill right now: sharing is hard and she doesn't get it.  We'll get there, but there is definitely new parenting strategies having to be put into place here.

UPDATE: Bram is now three and a half weeks old and weighs 11+ pounds.  He is in the 98% of almost every category and is fun to have around. 

Oh, a little about the name Bram: it is technically a nickname of Abraham and currently ranks as the number 12 boy name in the Netherlands.  It is made famous by the author Bram Stoker (Dracula), Bram Weinstein (SportCenter anchor) and Bram (from ABC's 'LOST' season 5-6).  We love the name and have found there are more Bram's out there than one would think yet it is still incredibly unique.  It pronounced like Brad with an 'm'.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Top 5 Tuesday #5

Every Tuesday we will post a Top 5 list.  The content of these lists may or may not relate to the typical blog content.  The list won't necessarily adhere to the Top 5 in order of "best to worst".  We hope this will become a mainstay here on the blog and that people enjoy it!

I finally have gotten the chance to read some books, mostly on my new simple touch nook that I received for my birthday in August (since I had gone on blogatus, you didn't know).  Now I am both happy to get into my latest Top 5 Tuesday as well as share with you my reading list from the past month.  I know that I have found I tend to read in gulps, so although I have read 5 books in a short period of time, I don't know if I can count on this to continue...without further ado:

#5 Mockingjay (Hunger Games Trilogy #3)  by Suzanne Collins
The third and final installment was so much of a distant cousin to the first two it was hard to enjoy.  As I read the book I found myself getting upset with the main character, Katniss, who was constantly at war with things she couldn't change or couldn't understand or wasn't willing to cope with.  A part of me wanted to yell at her to grow up.  This is what I get for reading a book about a 17 year old girl.  A disappointing way to end this great trilogy.

#4 Supervolcano: Eruption by Harry Turtledove
The concept is really great, in this alternate future book, Turtledove tackles the question "what would happen in Yellowstone erupted.....tomorrow".  Great concept, but not executed to the full detailed extent I have come to expect from Turtledove.  Through the Ferguson family's eyes we see how this tragedy affects the United States and world, but it seems that the family is so involved with themselves that this great tragedy is overlooked and underplayed.  Although, one character makes a brief visit to Lincoln, NE!  Also, Turtledove will release sequels in the next two years so perhaps this story will pick up in those contributions.  Good read, not thought all the way through.

#3 The Hunger Games (Hunger Games Trilogy #1)  by Suzanne Collins
This book was a page turner.  Yes, I know it was written for young adults, so sue me.  How many of you have read Twilight and Harry Potter?  Let's continue, then.  Great story, pretty original.  Children in the nation of Panem must fight to the death in this post-apoc United States.  Yes, Panem is Latin for bread (see the irony....Hunger Games...)  Seriously, read this book!

#2 Catching Fire (Hunger Games Trilogy #2)  by Suzanne Collins
Yea, right, Rocky II is better than the original (is it?  I've never seen it...)  The sequel completely slapped me across the face with the huge surprise it rendered in the middle of the book, I didn't see it coming at all.  I would share a more accurate description but I don't want to give anything away.  Read this trilogy, have I said this yet?

#1 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (GwDT #1)  by Steig Larsson
Confession: I am only on page 123 of this 400+ page book (reading it on my Nook so I don't know how many pages the print copy has).  Yet, I know that in 123 pages that this will be one of the best books I will read this month, year, decade.  Heck, they don't make a book in a major motion picture because it stinks, right?  I am excited to read more and get through the whole trilogy.  Fun fact?  The Swedish version of this book (the author is-was-Swedish) is titled Men who Hate Women.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Things to do in 2012

Many people like to make new years resolutions when the calendar turns.  I don't.  In the years that I did, I usually would forget the resolution in the course of the first week, thus making it pretty useless, laughable.  So, instead of making personal resolutions, Amy and I decided to do a month by month of what we want to accomplish this year.

It is a bit more broad, but it gives the opportunity to get things done at our own pace while still achieving a bigger goal.  Here is our month by month breakdown for the first 5 months of 2012:

January could also be known as updating the house month.  The house is old, some parts are from the 1890s.  Thus, it is not in perfect 2012 shape.  For instance, the upstairs has no duct work that leads up to it, thus it is always a direct reflection of the temperature outside (right now it is around 40 degrees upstairs).  This essentially renders 3 of our 5 bedrooms useless, but we need to start thinking about kids rooms up there in the next year.  Thus, the heater guys are coming this week to update our whole house and make it heater/cooler friendly!!  We will also get both kids rooms (1st floor) ready for business this month with new coats of paint.  Custom shades are being installed in late January.  This is a busy month for the inside of the our house

In February we will welcome our first son to our home and our lives will be consumed by trying to figure out how to balance a 3 year old and an infant.  Wish us luck.  The home/land will have to wait, although we will seed our 2.9 acres that was corn field last year and start it's conversion to pasture.

By May it will have been almost nine months since we added an animal to or lives.  This will not sit well with Amy (who is our residence animal enthusiast!) We will order our first crop (batch?) of chicks.  Amy has had the catalog literally since the day we moved in last April and is super excited to get going.  All that has to be done for this to become a reality is really simple a coop, fence in their area, ready the barn, all stuff that should be simple.
  Gardens, raised beds and produce will also dominate the late part of the month.  We will have a sweet set up for veges this year darn it!  

These first five months look like a combination of fun and craziness, luckily we have figured out how to mix both of these concepts well and are excited for the challenges ahead.

Friday, January 6, 2012

3000 hits! (belated)

June 26, 2011: 1000 hits to the Edge.
Early July: 2000 hits to the Edge
~Brief hiatus that is unfortunate~
January 1, 2012: 3000 hits to the Edge
  Thanks for visiting, 4000 is just around the corner!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What a Difference a month can make!

Dec 4, 2011: Snow everywhere!
It's really January 5?  Typically on January 5 in Lincoln, NE one can count on the weather to be cold, snowy, dreary and not at all sunshiny.  So, imagine everyone's surprise when today's high reached a record of 68 degrees here in the capital city. 

Out here on the Edge we spent the day more outside than in.  Coats were not needed, and sunglasses most definitely were.  To cap off a fun day Ayla and I went to PDP (Pleasant Dale Park) with the neighbors, it was a lot of fun.  I was surprised to learn that our neighbors, who have lived here longer than we have, had never been to the park let alone Pleasant Dale.

68 degree Jan. 5...odd!
If we time travel back to last month a nice snow storm hit this area on December 2-3.  I have included pictures of both today and the morning of December 4 when the sun reemerged (and really hasn't gone away since!)

Oh yea, since this is my first post of 2012-Happy New Year!