It’s a Boy… One big boy!

I remember when I was first expecting my first baby and the expectations I had for myself and what my baby and I would do. The expectations often don’t meet reality. And this new arrival was no different! As soon as he arrived, life got crazy!

Meet Baldwin!

Baldwin is our first Bernese Mountain Dog. He came home in early November and he’s kept us running since then.

He is just about 6 months old now and is growing like a weed!

He’s the ideal addition to our farm!


We’re expecting…

We have been nesting around here.  There has been a lot of thought to go into this new family addition.  I would say the notion has been brewing by a few of us for at least 2-3 years.  For me (mom) personally, I was the last to get on board with this idea.  I have been through all of this before and I know how much work is involved.  In the past, most of the work has been all on me.  But my girls are older now and feel ready to take on the bulk of the responsibility.

The possibility of this new addition came up after David had left for his work assignment. So, it was up to me to get ready.  With the huge help of our son, we got the yard ready.  We put up some fence so that our new addition could be outside safely.

My son Matt helped me get the fence started.

But during the day, I worked on the fence alone and used our UTV to stretch the fence on my own.

I got the rest of the first 100′ roll of fence finished on my own. And then Matt came over and finished pounding the posts in. That was a huge help.

On the second day of fence building, I finished putting up the 2nd 100′. Just as I was finishing that roll, Matt came over and offered to finish the rest of the fence with a buddy for the price of a case of beer! I didn’t hesitate! Best money I could have spent!

The fence is done and is now awaiting its occupant!

Leaf Lessons Over!

The sun came out today and I got after the leaves. It was a muddy, soggy, wet mess. I had to bring out the big guns.

I used the UTV to shovel the wettest leaves. I made 3 trips to the compost pile. Once I got to the point where the other leaves were relatively dry, I was able to use the mower and leave take to finish the yard.

I declare the leaves done for the year! 

Lessons in Futility

This day started out reasonably well. I went to my Physical Therapy and then out to lunch with my mom. I came home from lunch and a quick stop at Walmart and had an hour before the school bus brought the girls home from school. I thought how I could best use that hour. It had not rained and so I thought it would be a good time to clean up some leaves. And things quickly went downhill…

The big beautiful trees in our front yard have carpeted our front yard. The hard freeze we had last night just brought a cascade throughout the day. It had been raining so much that I thought that taking advantage of the relatively dry day was a good time to use the lawnmower and the pull behind leaf rake.


I went to start the lawnmower and it just did not want to start. It was very cold for the old lawnmower and I just didn’t have any clue what I might easily do to get it started.  David is out of town and not available to ask for advice. So, I thought that perhaps I could use the Pioneer UTV to pull the leaf rake. It was tricky because the leaf rake was parked behind the dead lawnmower in my little garden shed. I carefully pushed and pulled the lawnmower to the other side of the shed and drug the leaf rake out the door miraculously without breaking it.

I brought the leaf rake out to the open yard and brought the UTV out to hitch it up and then I noticed that I would need to take the ball hitch off of the UTV to hook the pin hitch to the UTV. I found a wrench to try to take the ball hitch off and it just didn’t budge. I was so frustrated!! My free hour of yard work was quickly turning into an entirely wasted effort.

I looked over at the garden shed and thought that maybe if I had flooded it out, it might be working by now. I walked over and sat down and VROOM! It started right up!! I drove it over, hitched it up the leaf rake and away I went!

The leaves were so deep that I only took one pass around to fill the rake basket. I went to drive the leaves up to our compost piles and quickly saw a problem… it was a mud hole. I dumped the leaves just ahead of the compost pile and tried to drive forward as I could not turn around. I got about 15 more feet before the lawnmower sunk in the mud.

My hour was up and I knew my daughter had needed me to take her into town to an arboretum and identify leaves for her Outdoor Adventures Class. I decided I need to clean up and get ready to go into town and hope that my daughter would help me use the UTV to pull the mower out.

The girls and I had a nice outing. We went to the arboretum to collect leaves. And then we went to the best Mexican restaurant in our little town and got back to the house just in time for the last 30 minutes of daylight.

By the time I got the UTV out of the garage, the girls had the lawnmower completely unstuck. The problem was that they had arrived in a high spot surrounded by more mud! I had no choice but to pull the mower to the garage with the UTV to wait for the next dry day to rake leaves or put it away properly. We got the mower out of mud and we were able to drive it into the garage and everything tucked away. A whole afternoon of effort wasted and a yard still covered with leaves.

Random Chickens and Party Conversations

My neighbor threw a retirement party and we went and there were quite a few old friends and acquaintances there. We learned a lot about the neighborhood dynamics.  A major topic of conversation was the random chickens that were dropped along our road.  Apparently someone had some chickens that had stopped laying and rather than butchering them, this person had just set them free along our road.

We left the party just chuckling about the differences of the parties we went to in Abu Dhabi and the parties here.  We had a vibrant community of friends in Abu Dhabi and attended and hosted quite a few parties for holidays and departures. We often gathered at our friend’s apartment overlooking the Arabian/Persian Gulf.

One might think that random chickens weren’t a point of conversation at those parties, but we did lament over the inner city chickens wandering the street. Roosters crowing with the morning call to prayer.

Tonight was fun and a positive indication that we will find our niche in our community.  If I find one of the random chickens, I’ll let you know.

The Tale of Two Chainsaws

Back in August, David asked me to buy $20 worth of raffle tickets for our local fire department’s fair raffle.  The grand prize was a generator we really could have used up on the farm.  To our surprise, David won the 2nd prize which was $200. Fast forward to mid-September…

David contacted the fire department about his winnings and asked that his $200 be converted into 10 tickets for a local Sportman’s event at the fire hall. He went to the event with our son and they had a good time with unlimited beer and pulled-pork sandwiches. David perused the table of sporting equipment (rifles, kayaks, knives, bows, etc) and his eyes caught the chainsaw and he chuckled to himself.

So when David’s name was drawn and he was called up to be told he won the chainsaw he could only laugh!

He knew that of all the things he would win on that table was the chainsaw because he just bought one from the same Stihl Dealer that presented the chainsaw!!!

So we now have “His and Hers” chainsaws and I had my first lesson on operating “mine” today. David bought a chainsaw that can handle the largest tree we may have on our property. The chainsaw we won is a smaller size but no less powerful in relation to its size.

David took down some trees last week with his new saw and made light work of some standing dead/diseased pines in our yard.

Those pines had been there a long time. My aunt just sent me pictures from when they were newly planted.

But they hadn’t looked good in a long time. I remember them big and full as you can see with the old horses. But in the last several years they had gotten sickly.

The trees are gone now.


The work we have done with our new “His and Hers” Chainsaws have really felt like the first *real* work we have done to the property this summer.  David took down the trees and then we used our 4-wheeler to haul them out behind the barn where we plan on burning them this winter.

Off track…

I had an serious health crisis two weeks ago.  I found myself in surgery just as David was finalizing everything in Abu Dhabi.  I came home from the hospital the same day he came home from Abu Dhabi.  My recovery has knocked me back on my heels.  But I am in Physical Therapy and when I am finally on the other side of this, I think I will be in the best shape I have been in for years.

David is feeling the weight of a lot of stress coming off of him.  After 2 weeks of being home, today feels like one of the first days of being back in the swing of things.  He bought a very serious chainsaw today and expect he will be doing some clearing of our woodland trails in the next week or two.

Today was a day of medical appointments for my other daughter while David was out buying tools and a supplies for building a swingset for our grandson.  As busy as we were, it seemed to be a hint of our new normal.  It feels really good to be home.

Starting from scratch

Where to begin?
We arrived yesterday and I found myself desperately craving quiet.  As soon as I could, I took my grandson out to the field and just sat down in the grass with him and enjoyed the peace and quiet I so desperately craved.  It was wonderful.

Today, we actually started making some changes!  My son cut the grass and my daughter collected the clippings.  We dumped the clippings in the future garden spot for compost and to help kill the overgrowth of grass there.

Bob's shed

Bob’s shed as the future coop

I opened the door of the shed to see what needs done.  It was really not as bad as it could have been.  Heaps of old books and papers.  The best sign is that all of the papers were dry.  I took out a load of books for my son to burn.  And I took the newspapers to the compost.  It was a start!


One week to go… and a bit distracted

We are in Italy!

This was a trip we had planned before we knew were repatriating.  I brought my niece over and we all came to Rome for a week together.  We’ve seen incredible things!!

It’s Friday.  We fly back to Abu Dhabi on Sunday and have our repatriation flight on the following Friday!!  WOW!  What a week!!


Piazza Navona – 2016