Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Country Fair Blog Party New Host & October Favorites

I don't know about your neck of the woods, but around here it has really started to feel like fall lately. The trees are just starting to change color, and the colors get a little deeper each day. The air is crisper, the nights are cooler. I think the older I'm getting the more I appreciate fall. We were married in the fall. My birthday, and my farmer's birthday, are in the fall. Fall means deer season, which is a HUGE deal in my family. Fall is our calving season (although we've had so much rain and mud you might think it's spring instead). It's like a big sigh of relief after all the hustle and bustle of summer, all the busy schedules and stifling humidity, but at the same time it's like nature's grand finale, her final show, before the dreary winter barges in and takes the last bit of warmth from the air.


I'm super excited to announce that I've been asked (well, I asked and they said yes!) to join up as a co-host on the Country Fair Blog Party! You may have seen this linkup from Laurie, Danielle, Tasha, and Nicole in the past. They have changed it up a bit where it is now a monthly linkup with a theme and added a few new co-hosts, myself included! (Shout out to Kelly at Old Blue Silo for the party link up button/graphic!)

While I didn't get my act together soon enough to post the linkup for the October party, they've told me I can still participate in picking out a few favorites, so those are listed below. The theme for October was Fall, and also Pork because October is national pork month! You can check out all of the posts from the October party here (you can still link up your Fall/Pork posts through the end of the month too!). I'm going to follow in the footsteps of a few of my other co-hosts and list a few favorites, and then ask YOU to leave me a comment voting for your favorite! Just shout out which one you like the best, and next month at the linkup I'll announce your winner!

Lara over at My Other More Exciting Self talks about her first pheasant hunting experience. While I've never been pheasant hunting, you know I hands down appreciate a girl who's willing to get up before dawn, throw on some blaze orange, and isn't afraid to load and shoot a gun to bring home some dinner. And of course fall = hunting :)

Lindsay over at Agri-Cultural with Dr. Lindsay shares a bit on how to save some money with meat prices by buying in bulk and repackaging into smaller portions. Of course she used pork since it's national pork month! Her tips on using the food saver are really great as well and I'll be remembering them when I start packaging up deer meat later this fall! 

Erin from Diaries from the Dirt Road posted this pumpkin roll and shares the recipe. I realize most people get overwhelmed with the pumpkin-flavored-everything in the fall time but I love it and this pumpkin roll is no exception, and looks like something I could maybe attempt to make! 

Linda at Apron Strings and Other Things shares some fun fall ideas to keep the kiddos occupied and entertained through the fall, but her ideas can work for us older kids as well and I think is a good reminder to slow down and soak up these fall blessings.

Tammy from Taylor-Made Ranch Homestead Blog shared her recipe for homemade pumpkin granola. I've tried some store bought granolas in the past to use with yogurt but they all seem to be really high in sugar, so a homemade recipe seems to be the way to go! 

So tell me, which is your favorite?! Please be sure to leave a comment and let me know, so I can award a grand champion next month! And speaking of next month, be sure to check back and link up with November's theme, which will be A Time of Giving

Check out the other October favorites from the co-hosts:

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

An Addition - Update and Floorplan

So last time I left you all with the house looking like this...

And now, it looks like this!

A lot has happened in the past couple of weeks! The new updated list looks like this...

16. Framing completed
17. New windows and door installed/moved, plywood walls up
18. Roof framed, plywood-ed
19. Shingles and siding picked out
20. Inside wall dividing old house and new house removed
21. Shingles and siding installed
22. Inside electrical work started
23. Electrical line over house REMOVED!
24. New septic tank installed/lagoon dug

I've already fallen off the wagon a bit in documenting every. little. thing. but we're still progressing and starting to move onto the inside finishing stuff now.

Completed framing.

Inside wall removed! (and messy house, additions are hard)

Closed in walls and roof, ready for shingles and siding

New siding and roofing colors - and a new hall door.

So now the general contractor we have been using is done with his part. We hired out for the septic and lagoon work (happening today) and we'll be having someone come in soon hopefully to put in a new heating and cooling system. We have a crazy old furnace and never have had more than a window AC unit in this place, so it will be nice to have real AC next summer!

We are planning to do most of the electrical and plumbing work ourselves, and hubs and his dad already started in on the electrical, which included installing a new breaker box and running it to the old box. To be honest, I know next to nothing about it and didn't help at all, but I do know it took longer than expected, and we spent one night with no electricity in the entire house except for two extension cords hooked up to the main power line outside. It was... interesting... kinda like inside camping? But it was up and running the next day, so all is good now.

I've also been meaning to share our floor plans to show what we started out with and where we are hoping to end up...

This is our old floor plan. It was about 800 square feet, give or take. We never used the "front door" in the living room, and always came in through the kitchen on the south side of the house. It was just one bedroom, with a really large closet, but that closet gets really small when it's your only storage space. This house was the perfect starter size and has served us well for many years. But as we don't have the option of moving more than a couple miles from our current location (due to the hog barns - have to be close at all times in case of an emergency), adding on just made more sense.

This is close to what the new plan will look like. The addition went on the north side of the house, on the side closest to the road. Our driveway (where that first picture was taken) runs along the west (bottom of the floor plan) side of the house.

We are keeping the original kitchen and bedroom/closet. We are moving the living room out to make space for a dining area. (Off topic - we have never had a kitchen table in the current house. There was literally no where to put it, so we ate at the coffee table on the couch for five years). We're also adding on two bedrooms, a second bath, a linen closet between the bedrooms (not pictured) and a full basement under the addition part which will have storage, living area, and a laundry room.

In the current house the eventual plan will be to change the old bathroom into our master bath, and move the door so you access it through our closet. We're also moving our bedroom door to the hall, instead of in the living space. There may also be some pantry redos in the kitchen area but we don't have those plans quite figured out yet.

While this is by no means my dream house layout, we tried to do the best with what we had. We didn't want to have to move or change much in the current house to save money, as we have a very small budget and a lot to cover. We basically needed extra bedrooms and living space. Having a basement was a non-negotiable for us, both for the space and for the storm safety aspect, since we get our fair share of tornado-like weather around here.

There's lots of little things I would have liked to do a little different, and I'll probably find more as we go along as well. But for now it's double the space we had before (triple if you include the basement), and that's enough for us!

Anyone else ever put an addition on your current house while still living there? Built a house and done the finishing work yourself? The dust doesn't bother me too bad but it's starting to get a little cold at night so we're gonna have to do insulation soon so we can start heating it!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - 9/24/14

Because sometimes the universe knows that when things are five kinds of crazy... when my house is a huge beautiful freezing cold disaster... when I kept back some heifers to breed and now they won't be big enough and I feel like we did all that work for nothing... when life is moving so fast I feel like I might just fly off this crazy ride...

... I need a reminder that this life is GOOD. Really good.

Monday, September 8, 2014

An Addition...

So, I've had another bout of blog silence, but we've been really busy around here this summer with a little expansion. No, I'm not pregnant. Our family isn't going to be growing, but our house is!

Pre-addition after a few trees were removed

At the end of June, we bought the house we've been living in for the past five years, and three acres around it. We bought it from the hubs parents, and it's just a very small section of a larger piece of land that they own. The current house was built somewhere around the 60's, and was a total of about 800 square feet. While I have a fairly large walk in closet, it's only a one bedroom so we decided to go ahead and expand it so that it will fit our future needs.

When we first got engaged and moved in five years ago, we did a complete gut and renovation on the house with all new bath and kitchen appliances/cabinets and all new drywall. The old house didn't even have insulation in the walls under the old drywall! This was the main deciding factor when it came to deciding to do an addition rather than a new build. As much as it would almost be easier to just "start from scratch", we couldn't justify tearing down something we had just worked on five years ago, although I'll be the first to say if I could make those choices over again I'd do things very differently!

House before we moved in and during the first renovation

So in June we actually bought the house, and a few weeks ago work has really started. The addition is going to consist of two extra bedrooms, another bathroom, additional living space (we have no place for a kitchen table right now), and a basement with living space, laundry and storage/utility. As of right now the chimney has been torn out (it was non-functional), ground broke, and concrete poured. And they just started the framing! We have contracted out the excavation, sewage work, concrete, heating and ac work and exterior/rough framing along with the new siding and roofing.

Fireplace before, during and after first reno, and after removal

However everything else we will be planning to do ourselves (mostly the interior finishing/pluming/electrical) to help save money. Maybe with the exception of drywall finishing. We've been there done that before and if we can afford it at all we'd rather not go down that road again, partly in an attempt to still be married when this is over!

Breaking ground/hole for the basement

Work on the house seems to be moving along fairly fast but also very slow at the same time. It took a long time to figure out "simple" things like the new sewage/lagoon system and how it will all be set up and get our required soil samples and permits. I naively had no idea how all of that worked and I'd be happy to never have to try to figure it all out again! Once that was figured out we had some glitches and unexpected expenses with basement drainage and plumbing and waterproofing - lots of things I had never thought of or expected!

Concrete work started

When we first started planning on and working on making the addition a reality my brain went to things like floor plans and paint colors and flooring materials - like most people would I expect. In reality I've learned that those things (with the exception of the floor plans - which have changed almost ten times now I think!) are a long ways in the future, and will hopefully be a little more fun to plan and execute than lagoons and sewage pumps!

Concrete work finished/some plumbing, drainage, waterproofing done

I'm excited for each phase but also not rushing the process along. If I've learned anything from the first round of renovations that we did, it was to really think out my decisions and do research before committing to anything. I have more ideas and options now because of Pinterest, but I also have a few years of life experience under my belt that'll influence the new decisions we make (i.e. white grout is the bane of my existence and I also hate carpet in living areas.).

Here's what we've completed so far...

  1. Got construction loan financing/bought house
  2. Tree removal
  3. Utility pole moved
  4. Telephone line moved 
  5. Fireplace removed
  6. Pits dug and soil sampling for lagoon
  7. Permit paperwork turned in for septic system
  8. Basement hole dug/gravel foundation put down
  9. Concrete walls poured
  10. Septic tub, pump and basement drainage and plumbing installed
  11. Concrete floor poured
  12. Tar waterproofing rolled on concrete walls
  13. Drainage tile installed around basement and out to the road
  14. Backfilled with dirt and rock around exterior basement walls
  15. Framing started! 
I hope to share our old and new floor plans soon, and everything else that happens along the way! We also have a LOW budget, so DIY-ing what we can will help to save. But don't expect anything fancy or awe-inspiring to come from this project, but I'll do my best! I also post house updates often over on my Instagram under #rhoadesbuild

Any must have advice on putting an addition on a house? Things that you wish you had or wish you didn't do? Best flooring options, wall finishes, inspiration? I need all the help I can get! :)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Missouri Right to Farm Information

On August 5th, Missouri residences will be voting on a variety of constitutional amendments, like Amendment 1 - Missouri Right to Farm. Have you heard of it?

If you're anything like me, government laws and regulations and changes aren't the easiest thing to understand. Amendments don't always seem to be written in everyday English, and if they are they tend to be short and sweet and leave lots to the imagination. Sure, everyone should do their own research before voting, but let's be honest, if the issue doesn't matter to you too much you probably won't do that research. Most of the time decisions on voting are made based on tv commercial ads seen between episodes of your favorite nighttime shows or opinions shared around the office water cooler. Am I right?

The other morning when a coworker asked me what I knew about Amendment 1, I had to (embarrassingly enough) say that while I felt confident that I would vote yes, I couldn't really explain it to him or give him the exact reasons why. Missouri Right to Farm is an amendment to protect Missouri farmers and their right to farm, exactly as it sounds. Protection from what? Protection from unneeded and unnecessary regulations and guidelines against current and future farming practices.

Let me tell you, not being able to properly defend my industry bothered me, and I spent hours yesterday researching this amendment and it's versions.

The wording on the final ballot reads as following:
Section 35. That agriculture which provides food, energy, health benefits, and security is the foundation and stabilizing force of Missouri's economy. To protect this vital sector of Missouri's economy, the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state, subject to duly authorized powers, if any, conferred by article VI of the Constitution of Missouri.
I think it's true that this amendment is going to be fairly open interpretation, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Farming practices are constantly changing. Farming technology is constantly changing. The anti-agriculture organizations that this amendment offers protection from will also constantly be changing their strategies, so agriculture will have to open to changing as well.

Gone are the days of the picture perfect family farm that consists of a milk cow, a fat hog, five chickens, and a rouge goat. This exact scenario exists somewhere I'm sure, but I can guarantee you it's not making enough of a profit to support a family. Family farms have to grow, work with a bigger corporation, or find a niche market with products that are in high demand to continue to exist in today's world. Technology on the farm is not a bad thing. It is a good thing. If people still had to cut hay by hand, I would most definitely not be a farmers wife, because I would be long dead from allergies... If you have a smartphone, a tablet, the internet, enjoy fruit out of season, sometimes like the convenience of pre-packaged meals or eating out at restaurants  - please do not try to use the argument that technology is bad and that we should all go back to farming like they did 100 years ago, unless you would prefer to eat only what can be grown on the land you own and nothing else...

The opposition would like people to believe that this vague wording opens up the door to large "anti-American" agriculture corporations to come in and push out the family farmer. Not so. This amendment doesn't negate any current laws or regulations. Local ordinances regulating placement of large confinement buildings, outside interests, corporation ownership, and other similar concerns will not be overruled. The amendment will not protect "bad farmers" who break laws. It will not remove authority of the local government or give a "free pass" to anyone.

For more Missouri Right to Farm info, check out these sources:
The full ballot being voted on as found on the Missouri Secretary of State website.,_Amendment_1_(August_2014)
This is a good site that gives facts to both side of the amendment, along with the actual amendment wording and lists of supporters and opposition.
Missouri Farmers Care is the lead organization supporting Amendment 1, and has led many other pro-agricutlture movements in the past
Brownfield Ag News is a very long standing reputable agriculture news source and this author makes good points about common myths of the amendment.
Jo, a fellow Missouri ag blogger has a couple of posts about the Right to Farm amendment as well, including some videos from the guys who helped draft the amendment.
This is a great article by a fellow Mizzou alum that shares why this amendment is a good thing for all farmers.

(I'll be the first to admit this is heavy on the vote yes side, with no real sites promoting the vote no side, but I wouldn't be supporting my industry if I encouraged you to read those misconceptions. If you would like those options just google it yourself...)

Also, if you happen to be interested in my opinion as a pig farmer's wife, a cattle farmer's daughter-in-law, a small diversified family farmer of the past's granddaughter... it is this:
Farmers need protection. Our lifestyle and way of living is in jeopardy from organizations like HSUS and PETA. These organizations lead their followers to believe that they are helping animals and promoting "good" agriculture, but their real priority is to demolish progressive and animal agriculture - and make a profit for themselves. Less than 1% of their profits go to actually help animals. Large agricultural corporations offer some protection to people like my husband and I who have contracts with them, but even those corporations aren't immune to the laws. Small independent farmers have almost no protection from ridiculous regulations and laws.
Big does not equal bad. Uncaring and bad people equal bad. Farmers who abuse and neglect their animals do not last long. Abused, neglected animals don't gain well, don't grow well, and don't become good products. If these animals even make it market, they are discounted for their poor condition. It is in the farmers best interest to keep their animals healthy and well cared for. On that same note, farmers deserve to make a profit. Farming is expensive. Science and technology has come a long way in helping farms be more efficient and productive with less input costs, but it is still expensive, niche farming even more so. However if farmers are not allowed to use these modern and technological advanced methods to reduce costs so that they can take home a profit, they can not support their families. 
Doctors are not regulated in the amount of patients they are able to treat in a year, as long as all are treated well. Lawyers aren't regulated in the amount of cases they can win, as long as all clients are happy. Manufactures aren't regulated in the amount of product they can produce, as long as the product is of quality. Why then should farmers be told they are not allowed to make a reasonable profit, not allowed to own more than a certain number of animals, as long as the land and the animals are managed responsibly? Farming is a business, whether a small family run business or a large cooperation with many branches. However it is also a family affair, and always will be, as love of the land and your livelihood runs deep. Farmers are capable of caring deeper and working harder than any other breed, and they deserve the respect that comes with it. 
Most of all, anyone who has questions or concerns about their food, it's sources, or any farming practices should talk with an actual farmer before making assumptions and believing extremist views. There are plenty of choices for all - organic, conventional, GMO-free, food only raised by purple aliens who listen to classical music (wait.....). However, farmers who bash other farmers because of their choices are not good sources of information. Of course no one should be allowed to beat their animals or pour chemicals into a river, however using technological advances or modern practices is not "bad" or "inhumane". If you have any questions about a particular farming practice or industry I would more than happy to connect you with a farmer in that field - just ask! 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Inspiration for the Week #18

I haven't been around much lately, but thought June might be a good time to give it another try. Happy Monday everyone!!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

10 life lessons I learned from my Mom

In twenty five years, I'm sure my mom has spent thousands of hours trying to teach me and my siblings important life lessons and whatnot. Probably less than half stuck, but the older I get the more what she said tends to make sense. (Gasp, I know. Cliche, but true.) 

1. Be the bigger person. It's hard and it sucks, but it's the right thing to do. 

2. When you are in your twenties, you have to get over your aversion to strangers. Be nice and smile, it won't kill you. (But not to the creepy guy in the van - he very well may kill you)

3. You'll never learn to cook or bake if you don't try. If you married a good man he'll attempt to eat it the first few times it's bad anyways. 

4. Make your husband happy to come home. Be glad to see him. Of course he should be your sounding board for the problems in your life, but you can at least let him take his shoes off first. 

5. Family is precious. You never know if this will be the last Christmas or birthday. Make the memories while you can. 

6. If you are scared, they will sense it and take advantage of you. This was first taught in regards to a show steer - but honestly can be applied across the board and to humans as well. Act like you have the control and you will. 

7. Babies are expensive and tiring. They will turn into toddlers who will ask five million questions a day and then will turn into moody angry teenagers. But they will be worth it, a million times over. 

8. You can do anything a boy can do - and while it's always good to be self-sufiiciant it doesn't hurt to ask him to help you sometimes. Yes, you could probably do it but sometimes men are sensitive too and it's good for their pride to feel needed now and again. 

9. Being frugal is an art. You can buy the offbrand product, it usually tastes the same anyways (but always buy name brand q-tips and klennex). 

10. Eat the cookies, especially if they are being sold by a cute little kid at a garage sale. Drink the wine, you probably deserve it. But don't ruin your dinner.  

And because of the past few years, she has become such a huge part of my life, here's just a few things I've learned from my mother-in-law over the years...

1. Have a signature dish to take to family functions. Your in-laws will always ask for it and make you feel great. Mine is broccoli-cheese casserole. I will forever be proud of the fact that it was the cause of a nine-year-old willingly eating broccoli. 

2. Have one or two hobbies that are just for you. If it benefits your family with fresh produce and yearly scrapbooks, that's great, but it's ok (and good) to have something that makes you happy that you do alone. 

3. When he asks for help working cows, always go. He will most likely yell and cuss and get angry when things don't go as planned. He will say things that hurt your feelings. It's best to learn to tune it out, help when you can, and step back when you can't. He appreciates his help even if he doesn't say it every time. He didn't mean the things he said, and he may not apologize, but the temper runs in his blood and if you love him you'll learn to love (or at least live with) the flaws as well.