maple syrup. homework. dust mites. seminar. wildfires. ducks. rain!

a recap of september…

beginning of the month we took a road rip to rowlett, tx see visit our friends who just moved to the dallas area. they took a road trip to vermont over the summer and brought us back pure VT maple syrup! we have missed the real stuff and i’ve been sick of buying the “close” to real stuff that’s expensive. we have been enjoying it so much! i remember sugaring time and collecting sap. i remember being in the sugar house while the sap was boiling and becoming maple syrup. such a heavenly smell. geoffrey and i discovered that a tablespoon of maple syrup in our iced lattes is the bomb! not overly sweet. provides that maple flavor…just delicious!

sometime during the month geoffrey switched to working 4 ten hour days which means he doesn’t get home until about 6:30 pm. so, any help i got with homework went away. we have settled into a better routine for which i am thankful. its still a rushed a evening but i do my best. seamus is catching on and learning and its fun too see! he asked me recently (i’m paraphrasing) “if 3 and 2 more equaled 5?” i love him!! they expect a lot of the kindergarteners and i think he is on track. reports come out this week! we struggled a bit with a reader one last week. he wasn’t really focusing and i knew if he did he could read the whole book on his own. (about 6 pages, each page had 3-6 sentences) i pushed him through the whining and in the end he read it and was so proud. he just wants to read!

we discovered this month that our layla has a pretty bad allergy to dust and dust mites. ugh… surprisingly, it was the ONLY thing she was allergic to out of maybe the 30ish things they tested her for. its uncommon that someone is allergic to only one thing. i’ve been doing what i can here as far as cleaning and we’ve covered her mattress, box spring and pillow. hoping we can keep on top of it. she wasn’t happy about taking most of the stuffed animals off her bed 😦

i took a day trip to bastrop, TX for an “empowering texas women in agriculture” seminar. it was put on by HMI which is an organization geoffrey and i found out about while at the “texas organic farmers workshop” in austin a while back. HMI’s mission is “to educate people to manage land for sustainable future”.  one of the programs they are going to rolling out in early 2012, i think, is a “beginning farmers nd ranchers program”. the seminar i went to was an introduction to that program that they hope to offer for free! they are a great resource. i came home with a bunch of resources and felt like we’ve been doing pretty good at this farming in texas so far!

it was sad driving through bastrop as they had a massive deadly wildfire rage through the area maybe 1-2 weeks before i went. we have been to bastrop a few times and LOVE the state park there…it was burned. while driving the divided highway you could see where the fire dumped the divided highway that leads through bastrop. i have heard of others driving through residential neighborhoods were the devastation is just so much worse. in some places in the area they were literally restoring power home by home… we had wildfire spark up just a mile or two away this month. my stomach sank as i looked outside over our house when a friend called me to go look. this is what i saw!

the fire was contained overnight and last i heard they were investigating arson. (sigh)

here are a few pictures i snapped on my iphone while driving through bastrop.

here you can see the divided highway and the scored earth on both sides.

there were sections where the earth was covered in ash…ugh…heartbreaking!

during some wildfires that were closer to us than bastrop we were following blue heron farm, who we knew about. their opened up their goat farm to a couple other goat farms near them that had to evacuate. blue heron farms about 30ish goats (if i remember right) and they look in maybe 100 other. they were close to evacuating a few times but thankfully that never happened. we saw that they were wanting to sell some baby ducks. after they began getting things back in order once the wildfire were contained and goats returned to their own farms they discovered another duck had a pile of eggs she was sitting on and they already had 5 babies. so, we told them we would take them! we had been telling the kids we would get ducks soon. here was our chance. so, on a sunday afternoon after egg delivery and farm chores at the barry farm we headed to fieldstore, texas to pick up ducks. we all had to help catch them, which the kids loved 🙂  they also enjoyed meeting the goats as lisa walked us out to the pasture where they were, exploring the farm and seeing where they make their cheese. layla and seamus LOVE goat cheese and will eat it plain! i luv them! of course seamus kept asking if we could have get some goat cheese. they had just been to market and sold out. but, lisa looked a little further and she found a sample of their “fieldstore fire chevre”. it was like gold and we were so appreciate that they let us have it! you see during the wildfires all those goats they housed needed to be milked. they didn’t have enough refrigeration to handle all the milk so, they decided to combine it and make a special chevre. the three farms spilt the money. ingenious! we had a great visit with lisa and christian and love what they do. they are great people and we hope to see them again soon. thanks blue heron farm!

we got some rain the end of the month too! a couple good down pours. doesn’t put a dent in the drought but it sure did help the barry farm! one huge benefit of us moving those chickens (& pigs) around the land on a regular basis is the glorious natural fertilizer their poop/manure/dung makes! if we get just a bit of rain at the land….followed by a nice warm/hot sun green stuff emerges!! we moved the chickens yesterday to some tall green grass stuff and they were in heaven! the turkeys also have been loving the new green grass. we keep praying for more rain!

life is busy, busy around here as usual and october is shaping up to be crazy i think! the pigs will be going to slaughter and that couldn’t make me happier! our truck as nice new shiny hitch and once we get out hands on a trailer we’ll be even happier! i took it upon myself to search craigslist AND go pick up a used freezer…while geoffrey was AWAY last week! (oh yeah, geoffrey attended a “vegetable specialist training” through master gardener last week!) so, i found a freezer we agreed, via email, we should get. so, off i went with our dolly moving blanket and ratchet straps. i told them i would either need help loading or asked if they would mind waiting until i could bring help. they said they would help. thankfully the husband and the son did most of the work, although i certainly could have! the freezer was much bigger in person and i found myself thinking that i was “nuts”! i had to drive major freeways and go through ez-passes with the monster in the bed of my truck! it was a bit nerve racking but i just kept looking the rear view mirror to be sure the ratchet straps were tight! oh, and there was the over pass at I10 and the beltway…geez… here she is…safe and sound at home! a neighbor gathered that i might need help…i think he saw me standing outside looking at the freezer still in the truck and the impending storm clouds i was looking at! thanks blane and CD!

this weekend geoffrey rearranged the garage to make room for the freezer. he did an excellent job because we have even more room now! we’ve made this promise to one another that we will ALWAYS park the truck in the garage. its common here in TX that people just fill their garage with stuff. not us!

its feeling like fall has arrived here and we are loving it! 55 this morning at 7am…glorious! no more days of high 90’s-100 temps in the near future and that makes us happy. i made an apple pie on friday with macintosh apples from NY. it was amazing! i also made baked beans with that maple syrup and they were delicious! our trees are even turning different colors but unfortunately, its not a good thing. its a thing of nature but its the cause of the record breaking drought that making trees die.

looking forward to october and praying we can keep up with all it will be throwing at us! its a busy, exciting, nerve-racking time for us and we’ll be sharing more as it all unfolds.

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