These past four days have been a whirlwind. Gabe and I have decided to renovate the farmhouse and live in it for the next three years while saving up for our Forever Home. Our current residence is just over 2000 square feet and the farmhouse is just shy of 1000, so it will be an adjustment but one we are willing to accept if it means we can live on the farm that much sooner. We spent our evenings scouring builder’s websites and our days meeting with said builders. We finally chose one this morning and we’re excited to get the ball rolling so to speak. I wanted to make sure we have plenty of before and after photos so I spent my mornings photographing various structures that will either be renovated or torn down.
The back of the farmhouse (I don’t know why I didn’t take a photo of the front, I’ll have to include that next time) needs a lot of work. We plan on refinishing and adding to the deck, as well as enclosing the covered area over the backdoor and creating a mudroom. A mudroom is a necessity in the Pacific Northwest, especially on farms. Otherwise, you end up spreading grass, dirts, and Lord knows what else all over your house on a daily basis. And who has the time to clean that up?
The garage is a total loss (except for the doors, we plan on salvaging those) and will be knocked down. A new garage will be built in its place. We decided to keep the little garden shed as is for now. The structure that you can see just beyond the shed and the orchard fence will also be torn down. It looks like it was once a wood shed/slaughter house, but now it’s just a death trap waiting to happen. Oh, and it houses killer wasps. True story (at least, this is what I told Gabe after I entered the building and saw what appeared to be an ancient, abandoned wasp nest).
The tiny little house with the lattice siding is actually housing an old well. It’s charming but needs to be replaced. I love how it looks like something out of a fairy tale. I want to keep it, provided it doesn’t prove to be just another death trap (please refer to wood shed housing killer wasps).
In other news, my dad was picking up hay at the local farm store and they offered him two chicks for free. They were leftover from a previous order and they didn’t want to keep them. They are Naked Neck chickens and they lay brown eggs. The name is quite literal as you can see; they grow feathers everywhere except their necks. It makes them look like baby vultures.
I sort of love them.
This weekend was lazy. It was rainy, dark and cloudy, which gave us the perfect excuse to stay in and lounge around in sweats all day. Sam was the lucky recipient of a brand new set of foam letters and numbers. They are meant for the tub; sticking to flat surfaces when wet, but Sam seemed to enjoy them just as much out of the water as he does in the water. They are now covered in tiny little bite marks. Babies are similar to puppies in that way. It’s so cute.
We also decided to try out our new dehydrator. After slicing, peeling and coring the apples, we stuck them on the trays and then turned they dehydrator on. Easy peasy. Very little work involved. Gabe likes to eat them like chips; popping one in his mouth every time he walks through the kitchen. I don’t really care for them myself, but as long as I don’t have to can them, then I’m all for dehydrating.
We are going to be spending the next few days at the farm, hopefully meeting with builders to discuss the renovations to the farmhouse. I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures now that Fall is in full swing and the leaves are changing. I can hardly wait till the farmhouse is done and we can finally call the farmhouse home. Here’s hoping we find a builder this week ready to make it happen!
I have learned something very important during out first apple harvest. Collecting apples from the trees is only the first step. You have to actually do something with the apples after you pick them or they end up sitting on your front porch in red laundry baskets attracting fruit flies, deer and every neighborhood kid within a 5 mile radius…for example. I don’t mind the kids sitting on my porch eating apples. I think it’s cute. However the fruit flies have infiltrated my home and the deer decided to eat my tomato plant for dessert.
So, long story short, I decided to can apples. I did some research online, and purchased a basic canning set along with Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry by Liana Krissof. Everyone recommended the Blue Ball canning book, which has been in existence for a million years but it just seemed so…old. I wanted to learn the basics of canning but I wanted some modern recipes and flavors. This book has everything: step-by-step details along with some gorgeous photos. I wish I could photograph like that.
For the past two weeks after the baby has gone to bed, I have spent hours, and hours…AND HOURS canning apples. I did the basic applesauce and apple butter, along with a plum pie filling. Did I mention we have plum trees? Just two, but we hardly collected anything off the trees because a hornet’s next was hanging from one of the trees and the hornets were very territorial to say the least. I usually fight for what’s mine, but in a battle between me and a hornet’s nest, I’ll wave the white flag, no questions asked. We had some leftover plum syrup, which was a gorgeous salmon pink color and will probably taste amazing on waffles.
After I grasped the basics, I started branching out and searching Pinterest for more recipes. My favorites came from the blog Our Simple Happy Life. Her Spiced Applesauce, Vanilla Rum Apple Butter, and Honey Apple Jam with Lemon Zest (OMG, was that good), were really fun to make and were a big hit with my professional taste-tester (Read: my younger sister).
Gabe ordered a massive dehydrator from Cabella’s last week and once it arrives we will start dehydrating apples. They taste good in tea and Gabe likes to snack on them. I don’t really care for dehydrated apples, but I could use a break from canning. I can’t can no more.
Oh, I included a photo of my new apple peeler that peels, cores and slices apples into this accordion thingy. I get a kick out of it every time. It reminds me of the slinky commercials where the slinky falls down the stairs.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to clear a space in my garage for approximately 531 jars of canned apples.