Adding to Our Farm

Even though it is such an odd time in the world right now it’s spring and that means new critters! We have had it in the works to add to our menagerie for quite some time and it just so happens that COVID-19 happened at the same time making it all the more interesting!

A New Critter Every Day

We were video chatting with my Dad and his girlfriend the other day and I was telling them our schedule this week and for three days in a row my sentence started, “This critter is coming on…” His girlfriend laughed and commented that Scarlett is going to think she gets a new critter every day!

Saturday

We started our additions Saturday when our new (fairly large) calf arrived, the farmer was gracious enough to trailer him to the house for us. We like to get them shortly after they are weaned from their mother but due to the odd circumstances this year he was about 750 pounds, I’d call him about “teenage” size! From finalizing the date and him arriving to our pasture was about 24 hours! It wasn’t a big deal to accommodate him except, I didn’t have any moo cow feed! We luckily have a Co-op about half an hour away that mixes feed and I was able to order feed from them and get it with minimal human contact for safety purposes due to COVID-19.

Sunday

Coby and I had this wonderful, perfect childhood vision of gifting Scarlett a puppy for Easter. Our daycare provider’s dog had puppies and we knew we wanted to get one and we thought the Easter bunny bringing the puppy would be perfect. Well… COVID-19 put a ca-bosh to that! Coby drives a semi and was on the East Coast when the virus first started running rampant so we decided that he would stay on the road until things calmed down so he wouldn’t potentially bring something home to Scarlett. Because of his absence on Easter I didn’t want to bring the puppy home and him miss it so we held off until our daycare provider mentioned she was worried the puppy was getting too attached to her so, we got a puppy on Sunday. Everyone, meet Max!

Tuesday

Due to a minor miscommunication my Dad thought our “Baby Buck Bucks” aka chicks were coming on Monday but they actually arrived on Tuesday via mail! My Dad places a large order of chicks every year so I just add a few to his order. He and my niece brought them by Tuesday morning. They ship in a sturdy cardboard container with plenty of air holes. It’s quite the site, and the noisy chirps, to witness! Scarlett thought it was great fun when I opened the box and showed her what was inside. She had to love on them right away!

The hardest part for me is adapting to a puppy. I have never had a puppy, only older dogs and am trying to learn quickly how to best work with him and teach him. Luckily he seems to be very well behaved but we have to work on the potty training and learning that chickens are not for his personal entertainment! The second biggest conundrum of getting critters at this time is not being able to go to the store to get supplies. We are choosing to have very little contact with people for Scarlett’s safety so I have to find things that will ship here via online ordering. Thank goodness for Chewy.com and Amazon. All employees involved in shipping goods at this time deserve a standing ovation and my sincerest gratitude, Thank You!

I will certainly keep you up to date on how our new animal additions are going, so far, so good!

Top 15 Side Effects of COVID-19

Tomorrow the Supervisors for my my full time job meet to decide whether we will go back to the office next week or continue to work from home and I have a feeling we’re going to be heading back to the office. I am having some extreme emotions and am deeply saddened by this. I have enjoyed being home with Scarlett more then I ever imagined I would. I won’t lie saying that it has not been trying for both of us to be around each other constantly but it was a blessing I was given to be with her everyday during a time she grew so much. As our time working from home draws to a close I wanted to recap some of the unexpected side effects we as a family experienced due to COVID-19:

15. The Lack of Me Time- When I’m at the office I usually have some time throughout the day that it’s just me and I’m not surrounded by a cute little person ALL DAY LONG!

14. Barrage of Home Improvements- I want to knock down every wall and add a conservatory and add flower beds everywhere outside!

13. Appreciate the Small Things- Like going to the convenience store for some munchies you are craving.

12. I literally thought my car was broke- I hadn’t driven it in so long I thought it sounded funny!

11. I need more lotion- My hands are so dry from washing them constantly.

10. Potty Training- Scarlett decided quarantine was the time to potty train which is a great idea but be warned, potty training is the devil.

9. Creative Cooking- I now can whip up a random meal fast in-between phone calls for work.

8. My love for living in the country multiplied- I feel for people who live in cities and can’t get their children outside to play.

Thank goodness for living in the Country and being able to let Scarlett get out and explore.

7. I cried when I heard a semi down the road- My husband is an over the road truck driver and when everything went crazy we decided to have him stay out so he didn’t bring anything home to Scarlett. He ended up being gone for two months before we saw him again. To say we missed him is an understatement.

Scarlett and I bedazzled the window when Coby finally got to come home. Please pay no attention to my dirty window!!

6. I actually missed people- People can drive me nuts but when I saw my neighbors out for a walk I hoped they would turn down our road and we could chat but they sadly went the other direction.

5. I got tech savvy- I learned how to do online grocery order and pick up, this is sadly huge for me!

4. Developed Horrible Habits- Scarlett now thinks we need to watch a movie every day during lunch, oops.

3. Extreme Paranoia- I was terrified to have my parents drop off Scarlett’s Easter goodies because I was afraid they might have goobers on them or the electrical lineman that was constantly petting our dog and then have Scarlett pet him for fear of transferring something to her.

2. This one sums up Quarantine- Scarlett cried when we (briefly) ran out of chocolate! Apparently my family deals with quarantine by bringing us a LOT of chocolate!

I swear, we never have this much junk food in the house, it’s a quarantine thing!
  1. Not to be cliche but- How truly blessed I am. We live in an amazing Country, we have plenty of food and clean water. I have a family who is loving and supportive through it all and that is everything.

We are living a definitive moment in history and I hope this list helps you reflect on your time in quarantine, both the good and the bad. May we learn from it and cherish the good times that it brought.

Pouring a Sidewalk Patch

Shortly before we bought the house the previous owners had to do some unexpected septic repair which entailed removing an eight foot section of the sidewalk. The buying and purchasing of this property was in the fall/winter months so replacing the sidewalk was not a top priority on anyone’s list at the time. The previous owners had built a sturdy walkway out of wood to make due for the time being. While this worked temporarily I did not want to have a slippery wooden walkway with a toddler for this upcoming winter, so I enlisted my Dad’s help to ensure that it would be fixed and safe for this upcoming winter!

What we Started With.

Getting Started

I had a basic idea of how to pour concrete but was pretty sure there had to be some background info that I did not know. My Dad has done construction since before I was alive and now works as the maintenance director for a local school so he has a great background with things of this nature, very handy!

Gather all of your tools:

shovel, wooden 2 x 4’s cut to the length you need- my local hardware store cut it to length for me, wooden ground stakes, small nails, hammer, garden hoe, wheelbarrow, hose and water source, trowel, edger, a cement broom and an extra 2 x 4 to skim the top, cement-calculate correctly to ensure you have enough, I used the website: https://www.concretenetwork.com/concrete/howmuch/calculator.htm to determine how much cement to get. I’m sure your hardware store will be happy to help as long as you have the measurements of the area you are going to be cementing.

Here’s the Steps:

  • Dig the ground to create a good base for concrete, 4″ in the center and 5″ around the edge.
  • Figure out the “mold” using 2 x 4’s remembering that the cement is going to fill those entire forms which will result in the final shape
  • Stake the 2 x 4’s into place and nail the 2 x 4 to the stake ensuring stability when you pour in the cement
  • Mix the cement. I assumed there was a certain ratio of cement to water but we literally just dumped the concrete bag into the wheelbarrow, made a hole in the center using the hoe, similar to adding liquid to cake batter and added a fair amount of water and mixed. The dry cement mixture needed more water then I would have guessed initially and quickly soaked it up.
  • Mix well ensuring there are no dry spots in the mixture
  • dump cement inside your 2 x 4 form
  • Once you fill in the form use the extra 2 x 4 to level off the cement inside the form using a seesaw back and forth motion. There may be sections that are too low, just shovel in extra cement and re-do that section with the 2 x 4. I did notice that tapping this extra cement down in these areas with the shovel helped to settle the cement to ensure every crack and crevice was filled. Before doing this step the cement was really rocky on top and uneven which made me nervous. This step helped “push” those rocks down and made the surface smooth.
  • After everything was smoothed my Dad took the magnesium trowel and started to fine tune the surface of the cement. He said you can use a metal trowel as well but he personally prefers a magnesium trowel as he feels it gets the moisture in the cement to rise better and drive the rocks down.
  • He then handed it off to me and it was surprisingly easy. Use the very edge of the trowel held at a 30-45 degree angle and smooth the surface. This will bring the “butter” to the top. The butter is the liquid, it was surprising to me how much moisture came to the surface.
  • He kept telling me to take my time and I was, but apparently started to take too much time. He pointed out that once the shine on the surface dulls and you can start to see the texture of the cement it’s starting to dry.
  • He then used the edger to run it along the side of the cement to give it a nice rounded edge.
  • The last step in pouring the cement was to take the cement broom and add a little more texture. My Dad wanted to add swirly designs in it with the broom but the rest of our sidewalk is pretty basic so he literally just swept it forward in a straight line.
  • Ok, so maybe one more step, we had to add Scarlett’s handprint into the cement! Since I was rather slow at the troweling step it was a little more difficult to do this step due to the cement hardening.

Final Touches

My Dad said I could do this last bit of the process after 24 hours but we honestly didn’t have time until two weeks after pouring the cement. I took a claw hammer and busted the cement that had overflowed the edges of the 2 x 4’s. I picked these up and disposed of them. I then used the hammer to easily pull up the 2 x 4’s and stakes from the ground. I thought this was going to be difficult and that the cement would adhere to the wood but it didn’t at all. I grabbed a shovel and leveled the dirt that we had dug out for the base to the new sidewalk. After that Scarlett and I spread grass seed around the area by hand.

I am so pleased with the sidewalk and am almost excited for winter to get here to test it out! I hope this makes the task of pouring a sidewalk a little less daunting. I was certainly surprised by how much I learned and how comfortable I became with the process, besides taking too much time perfecting the surface, cement was pretty forgiving to work with if you plan everything out well! It isn’t perfect by any means, blending it to the existing sidewalk works well but you can definitely see it but I am still so happy with myself for taking on this surprisingly easy DIY project! Good luck and I hope you are just as pleased with your project, I am sure it will be amazing!

Moving An Acreage and Not Losing Your Mind

I was petrified of moving, I had never moved an entire house before and just the thought of it stirred up an irrational fear in me. When Coby and I moved in together all I had to move was my bedroom in my parents house, not too crazy. Now, ten years later we were moving an entire house, horses, chickens, equipment to sustain an acreage and an adorable 11 month old baby and all of her paraphernalia as well. I was panicked!

Packing Like a Pro

I like to fancy myself somewhat of a minimalist, I had always told Coby that every five years we should pretend we’re moving and get rid of junk. Well, pretending to move and actually moving I found out are two very different things. It really made me examine why I was keeping stuff and do some intense Marie Kondo’ing and get rid of items I was holding onto for illegitimate reasons.

We started packing early and in each room we had everything completely boxed, labeled and put in a pile so once we had family and friends show up we made a human chain and started passing the boxes! I know we have all been in the situation where we have showed up to help someone move and all of their stuff is arranged like it’s any other day, NOO! This makes it miserable for everyone not to mention unorganized for the mover because people just start throwing things in boxes, there’s no rhyme or reason as to where it goes. We were adamant that we would be prepared for our helpers.

Enjoying our last breakfast in the house in what was left of the living room.

Luckily, my work office had just moved buildings about six months prior. Our county had bought a different building in town and our small building consisting of four offices and the food pantry were switching locations. One of the ladies has moved numerous times and had the genius idea of color coding everything. Each office had it’s own dedicated color of duct tape that they sealed their boxes with. It worked like a charm! Every piece of equipment in my office was bedazzled with a piece of red duct tape. At our new building we labeled each door in the corresponding color. The movers were great and hopefully appreciated our resourcefulness.

I decided to try this approach in our move as well, I color coded and labeled everything to a ridiculous degree and hung a coordinating sign in each room as well. I may have gotten a little ribbing from our help about not knowing which room was the living room BUT I was only asked where something went maybe five times the whole day!

Moving Day for the House

We do have a pick up and many of our friends and family do as well but that still equals a lot of trips. While there can be some draw backs to having an over the road truck driver for a husband there are some pretty good points to it as well. Coby borrowed a dry van trailer (the most common enclosed trailer you see driving down the highway) from the company he hauls for and we were able to get the entire house packed in the trailer in 2.5 hours!

Our own “Moving” truck!

Moving Everything Else

I have to admit that Coby did a lot of the outside stuff on his own as time permitted. The manager of the acreage we had rented from told us to take as much time as we needed to get stuff out, we moved the 1st of December and our contract technically ended on the 18th so we were focused to have everything done by then. Coby borrowed my Dad’s dump trailer and moved the entire shed in one trip, including the chickens in their little chicken house! We borrowed a livestock trailer from our good family friends to move the boys, our horses. This was sadly my greatest source of stress. I bought my horse Chocolate when I was in the fifth grade, he was my baby before I had a baby. He doesn’t like the trailer, not sure why but he can be an idiot when it comes to trailering. A few days after we had moved the house and built a makeshift holding pen we picked up the trailer and went to the local pub and grub for lunch before getting the boys and Coby bought me a beer so I would calm down! It must have worked because Chocolate loaded like a dream! We put hay in the trailer so my mom’s horse practically ran in there. Chocolate took a few steps in and slowly backed out but was still calm. Within ten minutes he was loaded and we took off. I was so worried he would be thrashing around in there but when we got to the new house he almost looked bummed that he had to get out. I wanted to make it a very positive experience and let him leisurely walk out and start munching on the little slivers of grass. We say that this place must be meant to be due to him traveling so well!

Great Move = Great Beginnings

Keep moving fun, it’s the start of a great adventure!

Our moving day was actually great, it was fun with our family and close friends helping us start our life in our forever home. We would take turns watching Scarlett as we needed a break and tried to make it fun for her so she wasn’t upset with the change, she didn’t seem to care at all. The only problems we had is that we are missing a weight for the weight machine, not sure how that happened. Also, my Grandma had made large, framed family trees for her and my Grandpa and the glass on my Grandpa’s broke. This was actually a blessing because it made me realize how faded the names were as grandma had wrote them in pencil so I am going to trace over her handwriting with an archival quality pen. All together, including lunch that my mom supplied in crock pots our move took 9 hours tops, it was fantastic, I hope yours goes just as smooth!

Come On In!

Welcome to Pearls, Ponies and Pacifiers!

An Uplifting Place for like-minded people to gather and share thoughts.

We just purchased an acreage in Iowa and are working on making it into our dream homestead. I work full time as a County Veterans Service Officer in rural Iowa. My husband is an over the road truck driver and is mainly home on the weekends. This makes our acreage a “weekend” project when both my husband and I are home. This blog will be a ‘diary’ of our adventures and a great time line to look back on how far the acreage has come.

I grew up on a small acreage that was pretty self sufficient, my parents did and still do things pretty “old school.” It is amazing what you pick up as a child and I amaze myself with how many things I can do on the homestead just because I watched my parents. On the other hand, I am no expert and want to use this media as a means to learn and share with others what I find works or in some cases, doesn’t work. I resolve to always be honest with you, even when the results may not be so pretty because that is how we learn!

I love a good DIY project and love to craft, especially scrapbooking. I love the nostalgia it brings plus it’s a great creative outlet. My degree is in Interior Design, completely unrelated to what I do now but I do love a good floor plan and a home that reflects it’s owner. I want my home to be inviting and comfortable. I hope people walk into our home (once we remodel it) and think, “Yep, this is totally Coby and Toni’s house!”

I have a passion to become self-sufficient, just like our Grandma’s were and their Grandma’s before them. I want to grow a big garden and learn how to can and freeze food. I love the idea of “grocery shopping” in my own pantry with food that I grew, eggs that I gathered and meat that I raised.

I want my daughter to grow up with fond memories of the “farm” life just like I did.

If this sounds like the perfect, simple life to you then you are in the right place! Kick off your shoes, come on in and join in the adventure!