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Our Transition:City to the Country

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May 2008- We're still here!!! May. 20th, 2008 @ 01:38 am
Yes, it’s been a very long time since I have posted the progress of Vine Hill Farm! I did say “progress” didn’t I?! Even though there have been MANY times when Matt and I felt like we are getting nowhere and the ‘rough necking it’ took its toll, looking back over the last 13 months of living off grid on this farm, I believe we have made a little headway :^) 

The summer of ‘07: We moved into our unfinished cabin in April '07.

Have a look at our one room cabin's "Good Housekeeping" lol kitchen! 
 http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-013F-17.jpg

The purpose behind this was to eliminate packing tools, food, etc. and driving out here to work on the cabin and land. We also started buying our stock and the chickens we had in town, needed to be free range. 

We each bought our own Amish constructed 10x12 shed. The ultimate purpose for Matt’s will be for storage of all tools. Mine is for some storage of Christmas items as well as to serve as my potting shed. Here I can dry seeds, etc. But, for now both sheds are packed full with furniture from the house in town. We managed to sell a lot of furniture and items we did not need, however, the sheds are still so full that you can hardly get in.
Here are a couple photos of our sheds and the delivery guy! 

http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-005S-3.jpg

http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-008S-4.jpg

http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-010S-2.jpg

My cousin and his wife decided that they no longer wanted their deck. They wanted it torn out so they could have a sunroom built. We ripped it all out and carried 5 truckloads of the lumber to the farm. Matt built a nice 12x24 deck on the front of the house. Here are some pics- 
My cousin and Matt remove my cousin's deck-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-001S.jpg
My cousin's 'back yard' poolhouse-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-003S-2.jpg
His 'yard' :^)
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-002S-2.jpg
They have such a beautiful home!

The old deck lumber at our place-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-008S-5.jpg

http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-003S-3.jpg

http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-007S-5.jpg
Adding the side of the cabin deck. This leads out of our 'mudroom'-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-004S-5.jpg
The side deck finished-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-006S-5.jpg

I cant find a pic of the finished product!!!! Guess I'll have to take another and post later...grrrrrr!

We allowed Clemie and Skip to breed and on the day after Thanksgiving we were blessed with 10 healthy puppies! It was the birth of the pups that saved our sanity for the next 8 weeks until they were all sold. We kept one beautiful female pup. She is a clear sable and her name is Nicki. I have a new website now that features the creatures here on the farm! LOL There are many photos of the animals as well as photos of my ‘boys’. The link is: 

http://www.freewebs.com/vinehillfarm/
 
You will need to copy and paste that link. I cant get the darn thing to work right now to make it clikable <sigh> 
Go to the website! There are many more photos of our farm and my 'boys' !!!
If you visit, PLEASE! Sign my guestbook there!!

Fall brought new ducklings that hatched by mamas but we learned that mama Magpies are not too responsible when it comes for caring for their young after hatching so we lost the ducklings for various reasons. We promised next time we would snatch the little ones up and care for them ourselves. The problem is, we also somehow lost our Magpie drake. So, we no longer have fertilized eggs and Magpies are rare. I continue to search for a drake. 
Mama and her ducklings on our tiny pond-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-016S.jpg

Matt finally finished putting our septic system in right at Christmas. The health dept. kindly granted us an extension until then. It was then inspected and approved. Our side ‘yard’ now looked like the moon with huge craters of dirt and holes, rocks and roots and mud. Then came the snow.
 
Because winter set in and of course the ground froze, no more progress was made as far as hooking the cabin up to the system nor having running water to the cabin. Without electricity, we started to truly experience a more primitive life...and, it was very cold! Matt is much tougher than I. I ended up with pneumonia that dragged on through two rounds of antibiotics for 2 months.

Since our drive is a quarter of a mile long and dirt with a bit of gravel, we could no longer get up to the cabin with the car or the truck. If we had 4 wheel drive we would have been able to. But, we did not. So, we parked at the beginning of our drive and hiked through cold, snow and ice the winter. It was not pleasant esp. when you add carrying groceries, laundry in and out and toting water. Since we could not get up the drive with the truck, we could not bring water to fill our hillside water storage tank. An old plastic sled helped a little esp. going downhill out. But coming back UP the hill to the cabin was not easy! 

And, since we had no way to get building supplies to the cabin, all construction came to a full stop. We mainly focused on staying warm as the 16X24 cabin was not completely insulated yet. Even though we tried to have wood cut and ready for the fireplace which replaced the wood burner, it was not nearly enough. 

Kerosene heaters came in handy but kerosene is not cheap nor is it that easy to tote in the cans. We also used propane heaters. Still, there were a couple occasions when I ran out of fuel. I have never lived anywhere where it was 35 degrees inside and I could see my breath as I laid in bed under the numerous blankets to try to sleep. Again, not fun! The purchases of propane, kerosene and gas to run the generator may have superceded what the cost of our utilities (natural gas and electricity) when we lived in town.

But, the snow here on the hills and covering the trees was pristine. Wildlife became scarce. There were no birds anymore. The snow was so bright that at times we did not even need a flashlight to see outdoors! 

Our generator also helped tremendously. We were able to have good lighting and watch TV. Also, my oldest son Jacob gave me a Dell laptop for Christmas!! This was a definite lifesaver for me. Without the laptop I would not have been able to sell all the pups!
At Christmastime Jake and his friend Terry as well as my youngest son Tyler came to Ohio and stayed at my parent’s house. It was so great to see them for the holidays. In addition to their visit, Terry graciously provided all the holiday dinner groceries, cooked the entire Christmas dinner all by himself and cleaned up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Terry is an excellent cook!!!

April ’08 marked one year living at Vine Hill. During the winter we lost a few chickens, 4 rabbits and my American Sable buck, Brodie. It has not been easy for sure but, we are still here! It is now May. The snow has long melted. Now we are dealing with torrential rains..lol. We had 30 tons of gravel brought in and dumped on the driveway. Thanks to dad we were able to get extra.
 
My brother Mark supplied us with used sheets of corrugated metal roofing that was on his farm in storage and not being used. We used these for roofing on the buck stable and chicken coop. He also donated a several treated posts, a picnic table and a new kitty! She is a cute little calico and her name is Butterscotch. She was named by my nephew, Ben. 

The spring also brought two new Nubian does here. Their pics are on the Vine Hill website as well. We are expecting two more beautiful does the first weekend in June. Those two are currently being milked so we will have our own supply of milk soon! Our flock of chickens, two roosters, and the hens, give us about 18 eggs a day now. We also get 3 duck eggs a day. Duck eggs are great for making omelets and baking!

I've come to a brick wall with how to add new chicks to our flock. If I purchase them as day olds, or even feathered out but still smaller, they will not survive the adult community. One hen managed to hatch out 5 little chicks. Out of the 5, only 2 survived. I placed those two chicks with their Mama in a corner of the coop closed in with chicken wire. They lived in there for two months at which time I thought they were ready to go into the community. They did not even make it two weeks before each was suffocated on separate nights from the mature chickens crowding themselves into the nesting boxes inside the coop to stay warm.
 I don't have a way to power a continuous lamp for heat for chicks. I'm trying to find plans for building an incubator and heating with either propane or a kerosene lamp. There are old (antique) incubators such as the "Buckeye incubator" that were used this way in the 'old days'. 
I do not have a broody hen right now either. I am thinking of building a small addition to the coop and putting a couple hens in there with some of their eggs as some are bound to be fertile. Maybe this will 'force' the hens into brooding? This is on my ‘to do’ list….lol.
 
We have not planted a garden this year. Matt had a very large garden last year but unless he toted gallon after gallon of water from the spring and pond there was no other way to water it. The chickens also got in there and made a nice notch out of the veggies. It was basically a flop. Our next garden will be enclosed with chicken wire and be irrigated.

My herb garden did well. Most of the herbs I planted are perennial and have returned this year. I have Garlic Chives, Chives, Lycopene, Coriander, Coreopsis, Lemon Balm, Yarrow, Basil, and Chamomile doing well. There are several others growing in there and since I lost my tags I don’t know what they are! Darn! I also have Hyssop and a Gingko Biloba growing. I have not made it up on the hill yet to see how the Ginseng is coming along. My Lavender and Rosemary did not make it where I planted it by the house so I bought some new and added those to the herb garden as well. I still have garlic and Egyptian onions to plant. 

I’m very pleased that all the Flags I planted along the creek have come up threefold. Also the Iris’ I transplanted from Moms is up as well as the Lamb’s Ear I transplanted from the Herb garden to a flower bed. Likewise the Red Bud trees, Snow Ball bush, Peonies, and Yucca. And the Hostas, which are many, have exploded!
The orchard is creeping along. There are Yellow Delicious, Red Delicious, two Peach trees, 3 Persimmon, a Pear that flowered already, and 10 Bradford Pear trees line the drive. The Grape Arbor held up well through 60mph winds! And the grape vines have taken off. I had to put tomato cages with chicken wire around them to keep the chickens from eating the leaves again. 

The front yard grass seed brought lots of grass! There are some landscaped areas there too with many variety of Daylilies.
There is enough work around here for me that sometimes my head spins when I lay down at night! LOL Because Matt still works full time in town, and is building here whenever he can, the majority of farm work falls on my shoulders. 

I try to do as best I can but sometimes I absolutely need Matt. Like this morning, I was trying to trim four goats hooves. That's 16 hooves extended from 130 lb. bucking, pulling, kicking, nipping goats! lol  I had to practically stand on my head to do this all the while wrestling with each one as they pulled me along.  Not fun, especially after stabbing my own fingers on more than one occasion with razor sharp hoof snips. 

All the animals have to have fresh water toted by buckets to them daily from the spring…..uphill. At age 51 with osteoarthritis, one knee replaced already and degenerative spine disease, I am having a hard time. By the time I have finished stock chores, and I need water to wash dishes or cook, I can’t handle the load, so I have to wait for Matt to come home to help me. 

I will say this now: I could not do this without him. I KNOW there are some women who do and I have an enormous amount of respect for these women. 

Matt has put the 2x4 framed walls up (without drywall) in the addition. He has also plumbed the full bath, ½ bath and kitchen. Soon the inspectors will be here. Once they approve the plumbing, the drywall and floors can be finished and the kitchen cabinets installed. I was able to by several used cabinets in Columbus. Dad took me there and I bought them all for 75.00. They are dark wood and I don’t like that so I am going to sand them and paint them white to keep the kitchen bright. 

Matt’s brother, Jason and Jason’s wife, Diane, as well as Diane’s father, Floyd donated truckloads of lumber, nice brand new windows and storm doors! Matt switched out some of the older wood windows for the vinyl ones with installed screens. 

I lost my cat Cleo the other night. I do not know what happened to her but Matt found her laying by the door crying. She could not walk as her back was broken. It was very sad. She was pitiful. I gave her a shot of Banamine for pain and sat next to her petting her and trying to comfort her. She passed at 3 am. She was 3 yrs. old. We still have Bo, he is one year old and Butterscotch. She is about a year old also. I wish I knew how she broke her back but we cannot figure it out. 

The coyote try to come in closer now, but Skipper, Clemie and Dunkie mutt do an excellent job at keeping them at bay. They have also caught a few more coons. Skip trees them and holds them there until we get the gun. A few nights ago, Skip and Duncan must have got tired of waiting for the gun as they just went ahead and killed it their selves..lol. 

Because the chickens are giving plenty eggs now, and we have lots of people that love to eat them, we are able to pay for their feed as well as all the other farm animal's feed from the egg proceeds! My Aunt Ruth and Uncle Dick are two loyal customers that not only save all the scraps they have for our dog and the chickens, but also barter angus beef for the eggs!!!

I will be very happy when the addition with the kitchen, baths and bedroom is done! That means that the front room we have been living in for over a year now can also be finished out and truly be a living room! We can put the drywall up and the flooring down, paint and fill the room with the intended sofa, etc.  Tim and Marie, Mat's brother and sister in law brought out some really nice carpet and padding tonight! It is charcoal grey and black shaded and will look great in the living room! 
Thanks to all our family and friends for lending your support and donated items!! Thanks also to all the great finds from people on Freecycle. We could not have done this without all the 'free' stuff from everyone! And...we LOVE to barter eggs!!!
Stay tuned! New entry next month!!!
 
Current Mood: optimisticoptimistic

New Entry Below-Scroll Way Down!! Here are more pics! Jan. 2nd, 2007 @ 02:42 pm
The last couple weeks-

http://tinyurl.com/yd5w6r

And more!

http://tinyurl.com/tesnm

And Merry Christmas!

http://tinyurl.com/y7vhee
Current Mood: thankfulthankful

Vine Hill Progress Jan. 2nd, 2007 @ 01:37 pm
Seven days at Vine Hill....not too bad. We were warm with the new woodstove. Two of our days were constant rain so we dealt with tons of mud-not fun! We are having a hard time getting up or 750 ft. driveway with all the mud and unable to get up the new drive to the house. No delivery truck can get up our road-they tried-can't make it. So we have to haul our gravel with our pick up truck which can carry about 2 tons of gravel and fix our road-soon as it dries out some. It was a little cramped in the cabin with two little kids, two dogs and Matt and I...we survived.
I am adding a couple links-one is a comparison of what we have accomplished in seven months. I can be proud that our four hands have done all this together and alone. It has not been easy. Jaco helped once carrying the patio doors and dad has helped carry plywood. Some of this stuff is just too heavy for me to handle.
The days are long and unrelenting for each way we turn there is work to be done and both of us are just as guilty as the other at trying to get it ALL done in a day. This leads to extreme exhaustion, hunger, and pain. Not to mention irritiation and arguments! LOL Rome wasn't built in a day. But...we want out of the house in town-away from the idiots living across from us and the idiots with sonic boom mufflers, music and drunkin hollering at all hours. Not to mentions sirens, barking dogs, squealing tires and irritating people.
The solice of our endeavor is the land itself. The peace it offers, the breeze, the wild call of coyote at sundown. Watching my dogs run,I mean REALLY run the pasture and field and then race one another the whole drive is gratifying. Seeing new buds on my trees-satisfying-even though it is now January, my plants and trees are growing!
We've gone thru the red tape paperwork and paid about 700.00 in permit fees. We have met with authorites, gotten approvals and await their inspections.
We have the 'REAL' bed set up in the cabin, even though our walls all remain 'fluffy' with insulation divided by 2 X 4's, it has become 'home'. Matt did the wall surrounding the woodstove with sheetrock, that's it. The rest is saved for snow days yet to come.
We have managed to watch a couple movies with our 12 volt battery and inverter and also have inside lighting. We need about 10 more 12 volt batteries and larger inverters for when we have more rooms to light and appliances to run.
Outdoor lighting is solar. We have solar lighting on the front and back as well as solar landscape lights running the length of the driveway and at the pond. We will be getting more.
We have finally agreed upon what type of gun for the farm and put it on layaway, due out in 30 days. It is a 22. Ruger semi-auto rifle. Things have not gotten too bad with the coyote-YET. They mainly stay on the cliff above us, but do move around. We expect trouble when we bring the chickens out, get more cats, have turkeys....they will start moving in and even though Clemie will try to ward them off, we know she cannot handle a pack of coyote. The gun is to ward them off in an effort to prevent her or Dunkan or our stock from being killed and eaten. So far Clem has managed to keep the deer away. They come down the back cliff/hill. Their trail runs through the woods and then down through the middle of our property where the creek is. She won't let them on our land and they do not challenge her either. They simply go around..lol.
This is a 'good' thing for my anticipated garden this spring.
The first section of the cabin is complete, except for the inside, the siding and of course the wiring. We won't apply the country red metal roof until all sections are completed because each roof of each section will run together with the tin. For now there is tar paper on the roof and this has been sufficient-we have no leaks from the roof. The first section is our living area, and dining area. Right now it is the 'everythig' area...lol. Eat, sleep, etc.
Matt has framed up the second section. He has most of the walls up too. This section will be the kitchen, spare bedroom with a private bathroom, hallway and another full bathroom. The last section, not started yet, will be our master bedroom and my office for writing. The hall way in the second section will lead to this bedroom and there will be a door from this room to the full bath. The master bedroom or 3rd section, will be 12 X 20 and have either sliding glass doors or french doors for the view as well as lots of windows.
There is much to do and the weather decides on how far we progress. The house still needs plumbed and the water storage tank situated on the hill above and connected in to the plumbing. It all needs wired too. Part of the kitchen has one whole wall just for the washer/dryer/hot water heater hidden behind louvered doors.
Matt is doing ALL this work by himself. I occasionally 'hold a board' now and then.
My job will start with the inside-mudding, sanding and painting.
I keep busy with continued clearing of trees that are in the way, and burning piles. TONS of burning piles of tree debris. The 'good' pieces are stacked for firewood.
I have a 4 X 10 raised bed with just some gingko biloba seedlings in it for now. I also managed to get 10 new pallets for free and dad helped by loading, hauling and unloading them for me. They are set up and being filled weekly with our chicken manure, rabbit manure, old straw and egg shells, coffee grounds, etc. It will make great fertilizer.
There is still much to be cleared. Many briars, etc. I am only clearing the area directly surroundly the house and pond. There are tons more to be cleared but our goats should handle that! But....we ALSO need to finish our fencing before we bring the chickens out or get our goats!
All plants and trees seem to be growing fine. The grape vine seedlings literally 'took off' and now I am desparatly seeking a good arbor spot. I had no idea they would grow so fast!
The pines are also growing, as well as the redbuds, and fruit trees. I have started working on the front yard. It slopes down to our little creek and I have been using the rototiller to level it out-very tedious work causing me to lose a whole day spent in bed with my left knee elevated and on ice. The soil is full of rocks! However, black and rich, and then some areas clay.
We are going to build a footbridge across the little creek and I have placed some huge flat rocks as stepping stones. I want to partially bury them and then put concrete around them to make a little sidewalk.This leads around the left side of the house and up the creek which continues on up to the ginseng garden and rest of the cliff-the spring and then the top of the hill.
We still have plenty of Tarzan Swings and the kids enjoyed swinging last weekend and riding their new Big Wheels, even tho it was a 'bit' muddy...lol.
Here are some pics of the last few weeks-
http://tinyurl.com/y6klbp
Current Mood: busy

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY MOM! Jan. 2nd, 2007 @ 01:22 pm
This entry is dedicated to my mom and a thank you for all she has done for me in my almost 50 years on this earth. She gave birth to me and raised me and has been by my side through thick and thin. She has been there to hold each of her grandchildren. She has cooked fabulous meals, baked delicious goodies, washed dishes, changed diapers, rocked crying babies, shopped for hours on end to find that perfect gift.
She has loaned me money without so much of a blink of an eye. She has been there for me all my life and I treasure the wonderful trips we have taken...the best vacations and her kind understanding through bad times. Thank you Mom and Happy 75th!

http://tinyurl.com/v5u7b
Current Mood: thankfulthankful
Current Music: Happy Birthday To You

Thanksgiving Weekend Nov. 27th, 2006 @ 07:55 pm
I have made the entry about the past four days work at Vine Hill, as well as new pics at http://www.myspace.com/citysplitter
Please view the web site, clik on my 'blog' to read about the excavating. You will have to 'sign up' to go to the web page, but it's free and only takes a minute!
Other entries
» Phase 1 Cabin dried in! Our first night sleeping there-
Matt has finished the roof and put the tar paper on! The metal roof will not be applied until the second half of the cabin is added. We have decided on a country red metal. He will be starting on the 2nd half-Phase 2, in a week or two.
All the windows are in too! We have the slider in front which will be where we put the deck, and a window on each end. There is a back door for now, which will become the entrance into the kitchen, once Phase 2 is built.
Matt put insulation in all the truss pockets. We have a propane heater. We took our king sized air mattress and spent the night in our new home, using lamps with lamp oil for light. Dunk and Clemie were in heaven too! We all four cuddled in bed all night...lol. How no one fell out is beyond me.
We are able to get alot accomplished by waking up and being right there to start working. Matt made us some soup on the propane stove. He set up our table and chairs for a beautiful veiw out our front windows. Quite the romantic in the right environment, he is...lol...despite the desperate need of a bath and shave (me too! lol)
Next step is the stone fireplace hearth and I will also stone the entire wall behind the woodstove, up to the top of the ceiling, which is 12 feet. The cast iron woodstove will be cornered and be our supply of heat for this room.
We were able to purchase a 1000 gallon water storage tank very reasonably so we will need to pick that up, situate it inside a shed above the cabin on the hill and plateau. We are getting from Lowes and we'll soon have water plumbed in to the cabin! The metal shed is 10x10 and leaves enough room inside for many bales of straw to insulate. Hopefully, our water won't freeze. The waterpipe will be buried below frost level, 3 feet I believe, going to the cabin, then inside to a water heater. How do we heat without electric? Well, the gas water heater can be converted to propane, so that is how we will heat the water. one day, we WILL get electric. But Guernsey-Musking Electric Co-Op is our supplier and they have been out to our place. Even after numerous phone discussions, they will not come down on their price to give us electricity. The price- $5,000.00.
Matt bought three solar security lights which help a great deal outside. I spend much time continuing to clear away tree and shrub debri and maintaining the burning piles.
What did I plant yesterday!? Ok, 11 Bradford Pear trees along the drive, 2 Red Delicious, 2 Golden Delicious, 2 Alberta Peach, 3 Grape Vines, 2 Sassafras trees, 4 bittersweet vines, one Pussywillow shrub. I ran out of energy and could not finish the rest. Too cold, plus misting and I have a chest cold. Also in alot of pain in my knees. I still have a couple Redbuds, some Wisteria vines, and ten Gingko Biloba tree seedlings to plant, as well as a bunch more white pine trees.
Matt is renting a 'mini-excavator" next weekend. As you can see, we have a slope in front of the cabin that is all different levels...lol.
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-005F-12.jpg He is going to level it all out and divert the creek away from the front yard and develop it deeper and better as part of it has decided to run across and puddle on our road. Much work to do!
Here are some photos of the cabin being built-ALOT of the work has been done at night. Matt has really been 'pushing it' working two jobs-really tired.
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-009F-10.jpg
This Phase, is off the ground. We are using the huge old, original stone foundation blocks we found buried there, for our foundation. So all the 'gaps' from ground to floor perimeter will be filled in with rock and insulated. The deck will come out from the sliding door 12 feet, and will be the length of the cabin-24 feet.
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-002F-9.jpg
Another view-Looks tiny, huh? LOL. It is equal to about two rooms of our house in town. No worry, more will be added!-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-001F-12.jpg
Matt made the trusses and here he is 'trying' to put them up by himself; not an easy feat. I have helped 'some' when I have been there, by holding a long board to hold the truss in place so he can nail it before it falls. -
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-008F-9.jpg
I am standing in the cabin and taking a pic of the view. You can see the edge of the white sliding door and screen in the picture-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-007F-8.jpg
Ok, so here is a pic of the same view, zoomed up a little, minus the door frame-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-006F-10.jpg
Clementine and Dunk sure do enjoy that fresh clean spring water in the pond!-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-020F-4.jpg
I am standing beside the pond, taking a pic of the house-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-019F-4.jpg
Here I am standing behind the cabin, taking a pic of the back. The entire 'open ground' area you see, plus some you can not see, will be filled in with the rest of the house yet to be built.
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-003F-9.jpg
And this is a pic of the left side of the cabin-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-004F-9.jpg
A lady I met that lives in Zanesville is donating a couple rolls of insulation, and some bags of cellulose insulation too. She already gave us 20 free chickens, half of which I shared with a friend that lives in Junction City that is helping me train Clemie with herding. She has a farm with cattle, sheep, goats, ducks, geese and chickens. She is living in a huge beautiful RV for now, as they renovate their farmhouse.
I want to say thanks to Tim and Marie, Matt's brother and sister in law for the practically brand new furnace and water heater they donated to us, as well as use of the tiller and donations of lumber and beams too.
Thank you to my brother Mark for letting us use his huge generator in order to work at night and run the tools. Also thank you Mark for the donation of about 75 white pine trees! I hope I can get them all planted!
Thank you to our friend Phyllis for donating 12 red pine trees and various herbs. I have a really nice herb garden tilled and some plants already growing!
In order to be 'legal' we must pay for a plumbing permit, water permit and sewage permit, totaling 500.00 that must be paid before the end of this year. Thank you Mom and Dad for our early Christmas present that pays half of our permit fees! A very big help! My parents have also been kind enough all along, helping anyway they can, from providing supper to weary workers (us...lol) to a new shovel. Dad has helped plant a couple herbs and even 'manned the fires' at times. Many thanks for loans of items too=tractor cart to haul, extension ladder, etc, etc, etc, !! And lots of bananas too from Dad to help prevent those horrid leg cramp charlie horses from sweating so much our potassioum drops! And I am NOT forgetting Dad's expertise removal of all my tons of briar bush splinters! Mom's fresh baked cookies for energy too!
Thanks to an aquaintance 'Rick' in Frazeysburg for donating two very nice 12 foot aluminum livestock gates. We use one at our entrance. The other will be for the horse I'll probably never be able to get...lol. Well, actually, we can never have too many gates! We need a gate for the goats too!
Thanks to an elderly Ohio State Buckeye fan couple, that live in Columbus, that donated 20 windows, a metal door, a storm/screen door, and an interior door as well as some lumber. Those windows may not ALL be used in the cabin, but we have not forgotten the need of windows and doors for our garage, chicken coop, and stables, let alone Matt's workshop and storage shed!
Thanks to the nice couple in Columbus that gave us a good deal on a brand new tub/shower combo too! And thank you to 'Gary' in Gaysport for the water storage tank at a significantly low price!
Thank you Don and Nancy for the 100's of patio bricks! I'm sure we can put them to good use making good sidewalks verses mud walks...lol! And also thank you for all the Hosta bulbs and waterline too. I am sure I am forgetting other things-sorry.
We are thankful for all the people we know and those that we barely know, showing kindness to help us meet our goal. Without their help, we would certainly be struggling much more and over a longer period of time.
Hopefully, we will be moved into our cabin by spring! We have decided to rent our huge in-town home out, once we move. We won't have any trouble I'm sure, as every home on our block, as well as across the street, except for one, are all rentals.
Next we purchase our sheetrock, tape and mud. Matt will do this, while I do the stonework for the woodburner. Matt has already purchased 10 bags of concrete mix and mortar mix so I can do the masonry. This, of course, is after the excavating next week end. I do not know how far we can get before the snow hits and the ground freezes!
We have tons of downed trees that still need cut up, so plenty of work to do! LOL This spring I will finish planting my herb garden with many medicinal, as well as culinary herbs. We will also put in a vegetable garden. Maybe one day, when it is all established and I have dried herbs, we can take some stuff to the Farmer's Market, or even sell herbs online!
Once all this building and getting situated with planting and animals happens, I would like to start writing again in hopes that I can be published. Selling articles will help with income!
We are 'on the waiting list' for a male English Shepherd puppy from the a farm in NC-puppies this spring and a there is litter expected in the summer too. He will be Clem's mate and she will be bred after she turns two, providing she passes her xrays-hips. These are our 'working dogs' and they help protect our farm and animals. They are loving family dogs and invaluable to the farmer. The pups sell for anywhere from 250.00 to 550.00 each, and litters range from 9-12 pups. For more information about the 'original farm dog' and our Clementine visit my other web site. there you will find not only information about Clementine, but links to English Shepherd sites.
http://360.yahoo.com/citysplitter
Oh, and thank you 'Jane' in Hopewell, for the donation of the really nice rabbit cage with the ability to separate rooms! I DO believe however, that we have two females, and we'll need to get a male later, if we're going to have that rabbit meat!LOL
And...I have to add another thanks. This thanks goes out to my 'friends' on the forums I belong to-Homestead Work, English Shepherd Club, All Herding Breed club, ESworking dog club, Rural Heritage Turkey club and some others for their support and advice for the past 7 months. I know it is on-going too.. :) Moving away from the 'city', out to the middle of nowhere in the boonies, all the trial and tribualtions, the dog training, the bumps, bruises, scratches, bug bites, cold, rain, heat, falls...it is ALL on going. But God has guided us and has offerred the serenity of his healing land, guiding us each step of the way.
My only regrets, is that of my children and family members that are not a part of this...not a part of our lives. There is not a day that goes by, that I do not think of you. As I am manning my fires, planting each tree, I shed a drop of tear into each hole I dig. It is for the remembrance of my little children; their births; growing up riding their bikes and swimming. It is for knowing that they are all grown now, and I wish I could know them.
This is our dream-Matt and my escape-from all the failed marriages, all the dysfunction of society, and I'm sure he weeps when I don't see-for missing what we had when we were both children-our aunts, our uncles, our brothers and sisters.
We share the pain, and we share the joy. And we both hope for a future-at least one that gives us the health we need to survive. We can't fill our home with babies-it's not that way anymore. We are both adults, mid life, and trying to survive. We don't ask for BMW's or desire a Hummer. We don't want things we don't need.
Whenever I get tired, and in so much pain I don't know if I can take one more step without my fake knee shooting pain, or my osteoarthritis hips throbbing, or my back aching and I am thirsty and dizzy, my hands bleeding...tears well...and I think of my 22 year old son in Iraq-fighting for everyones freedom. Tolerating who knows what. It is his braveness, his loyalty and gumption that he got from me-'my blood', and I tell myself-"It is still there, girl. Reach deep inside, you KNOW you CAN do this. Be brave like Ash."
So, we go on.
I have turned my 'update' into what you may think is a melancholy story-but, none of it is made up. It is life-our life-that I share with anyone trying to live a country life. Because it is not all about nails and lumber. No, it is much more than that. And for those of you that are lucky enough to begin your walk with toddlers in hand, you have made the right choice IF you have love, patience and tenacity. For those that have family, children, parents and extended-cherish that.
Lastly, there are those that have inspired us throughout our lives. Someone inspired me when I was just a little girl. She has been deceased now for almost thirty-five years. But, when I was little, she taught me how to love. (She is not the ONLY person in my life that taught me love. But, she taught me the little things...the things that take time. Like how to make Barbie clothes from scratch; she saved foil pans for my mud pie making; she spent hours teaching me how to roll her hair and how to enjoy a long, hot soak in the tub with Ivory soap floating around. LOL Here is my grandmother, born in 1901, holding her English Shepherd and sitting on the steps of her home-Vine Hill Farm that was located in Tiffin, Ohio-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/GrandmaandES1915.jpg
Remember, YOU make a difference in someone's life. Our home, Vine Hll Farm, is named after my grandmother's birthplace, my ancestors at Vine Hill Farm in Tiffin, Oh. (not to mention our farm is covered with vines! lol)
» What's goin' on at Vine Hill?
Long time since last post-been super busy! Here's what's new-
We have two new rabbits. They are New Zealands and also part Californian and Dwarf. Their names are Sugar 'N Spice and the people I got them from say they 'think' they are both females. However, I think we may have a male and female. They are about 14 weeks old now, so we shall soon see! The reason for the bunnies? We want to breed and raise them for meat and compost. But, they sure are cute! -
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-010F-6.jpg

We also have a new male canary, already named "Tweety' and he is 6 yrs. old and LOVES to sing. I have him by my desk and he helps cheer me through our dismal and dark, gloomy winter days. He's a cutie!-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-009F-7.jpg

Clementine has had her vet visits-shots and microchipped. She's a joy to have and getting bigger by the day! Last weight was 2 weeks ago and she was 25 pounds! She still helps with the chickens and also herds everyone and everything that will let her around here-Cleo, Dunkie and us!! LOL- Here's a photo of her at 3 months-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-006F-7-1.jpg

And here's one of now-Check out the deep, soulful all-knowing English shepherd eyes!!-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-012F-5.jpg
And here she is keeping a watchful eye on her chickens!-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-007F-5.jpg

Cleo the cat developed a skin allergy that the doc says is due to a flea bite. She had a steroid shot and antibiotics and is much better now. But, because she is prone to allergies, I will not breed her as planned for our 'farmcats' and she will be spayed next week.

The chickens have a new indoor pen and give us an average of 4 eggs a day!

Ok....Vine Hill-
Met with a guy from Ohio State university and he examined our spring, located 250 feet up on the hill above our cabin site. He recommends a 'spring box' at the site where the water is coming out, and then pipe the water down the hill to a water holding tank, located about 30 feet above the cabin site, THEN run the water (all by gravity) into a smaller tank, INDOORS, that is disinfected. Soooo...lots of work requiring a trench, etc. We have decided to buy a large, 500-1500 gal. water storage tank instead for now, and put it 30 feet up on the plateau, and gravity feed to the cabin.
Muskingum County Health Dept. came out and approved our cabin site, drew the septic location plans as well as the leach beds. We'll do this next summer, but must purchase our permit beofre Dec. 31st of this year. Otherwise, prices are doubling. We also need to purchase our plumbing permit. Our permits are good for one year.
The cabin...ok..we have decided to build in three phases. Phase 1 is 12x24; not large, but Phase 2 is 22x24 and Phase 3 is about 12x12, for a total of about 950 sq. ft. Much smaller than the over 3000 sq. ft. home we live in now, but all we need. We have WAY too much wasted space here!
Each section will be built separately , but tied in together. Phase 1, the front, overlooks the pond, field and pasture. There will also be a 12x24 deck off the front.
Matt has Phase 1 started and most walls up. I only have pics of Phase 1, without the walls up yet as the photos I took yesterday won't pull up...something is wrong with my floppy drive. So here are some pics-some are taken at night. We have borrowed my brothers big generator and use big construction lights to work at night, sometimes til midnight-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-001F-8.jpg
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-003F-4.jpg
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-005F-8.jpg
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-004F-6.jpg

Here is one in the daytime-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-004F-7.jpg
And here is looking up at the cabin from the driveway-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-002F-7.jpg
Here I have my chair in the 'living room' looking out at the view!
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-006F-8.jpg
Another looking out the front, but we cut down the dark trees in the picture yesterday-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-003F-7.jpg
This picture is taken standing in the front, looking at the back, but there will be another section added on to this in the back-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-005F-9.jpg
This is the field next to us and I thought I would grab a shot of the deer trail coming through-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-009F-8.jpg
And, a picture of our little pond-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-001F-10.jpg
That's it for now! I'll add more later!
» CLearing on Sunday
Didn't spend the weekend, but, on sunday we spent the entire day cutting down the rest of scraggly trees and briars that blocked our view from the cabin to be.We had huge fires going and still have more left to burn.
I mowed as usual, this time taking more than 3 hours, as the grass was pretty high.Clemie and dunk had a blast running and Clem did excellent staying nearby within sight.
some new things discovered- We have a Persimmon tree in our field-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-009F-6.jpg
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-013F-5.jpg
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-008F-6.jpg
Can't wait to try the fruit! Although many sites offer good descriptions of what a persimmon is, I found this to be one of the most informative-
http://www.hiltonpond.org/ThisWeek010915rsimmon Trees
We also discovered the tree in question with green berries is a Hawthorne tree. Here is a good bit of info. about the tree and of particular interest, scroll to the bottom to read medicinal uses-
http://www.gardenguides.com/herbs/hawthorne.htm
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-010F-5.jpg
And, noting little white berries on another tree led to the discovery that it is a Rough Leaf Dogwood-http://www.sbs.utexas.edu/bio406d/images/pics/crn/cornus_drummondii.htm
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-006F-4.jpg
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-005F-5.jpg

Last week I found some huge 8 inch white mushrooms. After much research, they are determined to be Giant Puffballs and edible. Here is a photo of one of them, and the next photo is what it looked like a week later. Inside are trillions of spores. The third photo is of 14 new ones coming up.
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-017F-4.jpg
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-012F-4.jpg
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-007F-4.jpg
And here is a link for more info.-http://www.mykoweb.com/cookbook/puffballs.html
Our land is like a whole new world! Here is a "Tussock" caterpillar
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-011F-2.jpg
And this little guy is a Wooly Bear. Superstition is that he can predict the weather with his stripe colors-http://members.cox.net/tunias_travels/Wooly.htm
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-004F-3.jpg
This is growing everywhere and it is called Jewelweed and used as an astringent for itching and bites and it really works!
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-020F-3.jpg
This fine laced little fern growing all over is Yarrow and has medicinal values too.
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/Yarrow.jpg
Here is a link about Yarrow-http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/y/yarrow02.html
So Matt has marked off the perimeters of the cabin and gathered some much needed lumber from his brother. Construction to start soon! I have found two free livestock gates near Dresdan and will be picking them up on Wed. One we'll use at our driveway entrance for security.
The chickens, all 6 of them, are doing just great! They layed 8 eggs today-go figure...LOL.
I have sought out people who breed Nubian goats and have made several contacts for acquiring a pair this spring. We also want a pair of Boer goats too for meat.
» We have Water!! and More Gravel-Matt's Family-New Route to Vine Hill-Weird Catepillar-Names of Flowe
The drive is now completely graveled. YEAH! Also, some mushrooms seemingly appeared overnight in and along the drive. I have NEVER seen such HUGE mushrooms and was wondering if anyone knows the name? They are 8 inches in diameter! And smell like dog pee...LOL (maybe Dunk peed on them) -Here's photos of the drive-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-019F-3.jpg
A close up of one of the mushrooms-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-017F-4.jpg
The 'white spots' in the driveway are mushrooms-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-018F-3.jpg
When getting the gravel at a place in Cumberland, Matt found a new way to go to Vine Hill. It cuts the drive down from 45 minutes to 25 minutes and is a beautiful scenic drive. Part of the 'Wilds' can be seen. The Wilds is one of only a few places designated to care for the endagered species of swans. Here are two pics of the beautiful swans that can be seen in the lake along the way-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-008F-5.jpg
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-009F-5.jpg
Here's a photo of the beautiful rolling hills and just a few of the hundreds of bales of hay-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-010F-3.jpg
This little guy was a joy to watch and mess with. Everytime I poked near his head with a stick, he drew it in like a turtle! Don't worry, I didn't hurt him! What kind of catapillar is this?
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-011F-2.jpg
WATER! So, we 'knew' we had water, and Matt located the area on top of our cliff that the water is coming from a couple months ago. Sunday he went to the top of the cliff with a waterpipe and dug around, then stuck the pipe in and the water flows!! He measured the amount to be appx. 30 gallons an hour. It is ice cold and coming through the sandstone. Now I'll get the water test kit from the health dept. and send it off to be analized. Hopefully it is pure artisian! Then all we have to do is pipe it downhill to our cabin. I have one photo, and it is not too clear, but if you look hard you can see the water pouring out on the left from the pipe
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-014F-5.jpg
We are 99% sure this water is pure and safe because the property above it and beyond is used to grow and bale hay only. No farm animals.
These are some photos I took yesterday of some of the flowers growing on our land that I am not familiar with and I hope someone can put a name to them for me-
These are small orange flowers growing prolificly on bushes-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-020F-3.jpg
Here are two different kinds growing next to each other-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-021F-1.jpg
And this is another prolific grower-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-023F-2.jpg
I think I know what this is-Thistle flowers? They are so beautiful-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-022F-1.jpg
Some of Matt's family came out for a short visit to see Vine Hill for the first time. Here is photo of Matt in the swing with his mother, his sister Ellen beside him and her husband Tony in the background-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-015F-6.jpg
And here is a photo of Matt and Ellen-
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-016F-3.jpg
It was a nice visit. They got to see all of our progress. We only wish they had stayed longer to enjoy the rest of the day and the evening campfire!
» Labor Day Weekend
We picked up Payje and Braden Friday and they spent the night at the house in town for a change. They got to meet Clementine too! They loved her and she loved the attention. Saturday we went to Vine Hill. We did some clearing and created stacks of wood for the upcoming cold weather.
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-006F-6.jpg
The pic below is of the cabin back yard. It is uphill and has a plateau at about 20 feet. I am going to make the hillside a rock garden with shade loving plants and the plateau...Hmmm..maybe a couple hammocks!? A hot tub would be fabulous up there but have no idea how to get it there..LOL
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-007F-7.jpg
Here's a photo of matt with the kids
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-019F-2.jpg
Payje and Braden just LOVE Vine Hill and they LOVE camping! here they have finally discovered the Tarzan swings-Vines-This is Payje
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-023F-1.jpg
Braden takes a turn and Clemie watches them
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-020F-2.jpg
I love this pic of Payje free flying..and Clem wants her feet...lol
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-029F-1.jpg
Early September crisp morning, Braden in his jammies and a nice warm fire
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-026F-2.jpg
Everyone tries to help out with the digging!
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-003F-6.jpg
Two tired, but still observant onlookers rest together
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-005F-8.jpg
And since this is all about VINE HILL, a photo of my Grandmother at Vine Hill Estate in Tiffin Ohio in appx. 1915 holding HER English Shepherd!
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-009F-8.jpg
And a photo of her beautiful ES
http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h123/citysplitter/MVC-010F-5.jpg
The weekend was a challenge with two little kids AND a little pup, Dunk, the cold nights-50 degrees and rain. The truck got stuck and my brakes went out. WE did not do as much as usual. I got all the mowing done-that alone takes 3 hours with the riding mower! But, I guess what is important is that the kids had a great time, and Clemie is getting acclamated and Dunk had a blast getting muddy in the pond again!
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