Monday, September 1, 2014

Alpaca rugs

Our new alpaca rugs have arrived.  We have always used Ingrid's Handwoven Rugs in Paint Rock, Texas to process a portion of our alpaca fiber into rugs.

Most of the rugs are 2' x 3', though we have ordered a custom rug that was much larger for a friend.  We think that there is nothing better than these rugs for softness and durability.

You can read more about harvesting the alpaca fiber from previous posts.

Canning marathon

One of my major jobs this Labor Day weekend is to work up three boxes of peaches.  My dad picked several bushels from the trees on his farm and he offered to share with me.

We picked them up last weekend when we were back from the church service in our new church.  I spent the week hoping that they would ripen in time for the weekend.  If the peaches held over into the following work week, I knew we would be sunk, but our chickens would be thrilled.  As we got to Friday night, I knew that we would have much of the batch ready to can.

Thankfully, my mom offered to pitch in and help.  She encouraged me to start researching recipes and we found some winners.

Despite the monster task, I am really enjoying every second.  The peaches aren't perfect, but they have a great flavor and are the base for several recipes, including a peach salsa that is really beautiful.  This recipe also calls for peaches that are slightly green and that is perfect for the peaches we have on hand.
When we got the first batch into the pot, I told my mom that it was so pretty!
And, it looked pretty in the jars...
And, it was pretty when it came out of the canner...
See, pretty, right?! After taste testing it tonight, I think that we needed to make it a little spicier.  We will have more opportunity to try again.
In addition to the Fiery Peach Salsa from Little Jars, Big Flavors, we also made Maple Bourbon Peach Butter, Vanilla Honey Peach Butter, and Peach Sriracha Butter.

We still have a box of peaches left and tonight's task is to find a few more recipes - the canning marathon continues.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

We bought a church

 We bought a church.

Yes, it does seem ridiculous even to us.  We bought a church.

This adventure began around the Christmas holidays this year.  My family mentioned that my childhood church may be sold or torn down.  On a whim, I said that we might want to buy it.  My family was supportive, but they also asked the question that everyone seems to want to know, "What are you going to do with it?".

We moved on after the holidays with a very busy spring and didn't really think much of it again, except occasionally asking if anyone in the family had heard anything more.  We got serious about asking around May and my brother encouraged me to call the pastor of the church.

By chance, there was a meeting scheduled the following Monday to discuss the future of the church.  I made our interest in purchasing and restoring the building known and was promised a return call after the meeting.

We were asked to submit our proposal in writing and to state our interest a intentions.  We also had the chance to travel down and do a walk through.
 It is really hard to explain the beauty of this place.  Dedicated on June 4, 1911, the church has stood witness to baptisms, wedding, funerals and Sunday services until last year when the congregation moved to the community building.  The move was for good reasons - the church has no running water and the restrooms are a two-seater outhouse, the entry is not handicapped accessible, and the building needs some repairs.
 We entered into the purchase with eyes wide open.  It needs work.  But, we thought it would be a wonderful challenge and we feel this tremendous need to preserve this building as a place of community.

We have never seen a church with the seats as individual chairs, not pews or benches.  There is also a beautiful arch to the seats and in the overflow area at the back, the seats are elevated from front to back to give the people in the back the best view.  Brilliant!
We have a lot more to share about the historical research we have gathered, the last service under the Lebo/Olivet United Methodist leadership, and our plans.

Please stay tuned.  Send us prayers and ideas.  We are so excited to begin the real part of the adventure, the hardest part, making good on our promise to restore this beautiful place.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Vintage finds: treasure hunting

One of the best things about having booth space in a consignment store is that on an almost weekly basis, you have an excuse to shop for great vintage items.

This week we reset and expanded our space in Eclectic Charm in Manhattan.  After we had been drenched in a surprise (and much needed) rain shower and loaded and unpacked and set items and moved them and moved them again, we finally felt happy with the arrangement.

Then, it was time to browse!  We found some great item - my favorite might be the giant cloth American flag.  It is a little bigger than what we needed for a project for my brother and sister-in-law, but we might have another idea.  Our other finds were two small industrial tool caddies, a pressed tin box, cast iron fence finials, two costume jewelry pins, a wooden slat piece that is screaming to be a jewelry organizer and the really neat wooden etched Indian profile.

This week was hectic and stressful and I was short on sleep.  But, our time together on Wednesday night - setting up and shopping - was a definite high point.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A new addition to Prairie School Farms

 Welcome our newest alpaca, Javier!

A few days ago we heard from a student who lives a few miles away from us.  He had a baby alpaca that was an "add on" to his purchase of some guard llamas for his goat herd.  He wanted to know if we wanted to buy the alpaca.

We thought about it and decided he would be a good addition to our little farm.  We were leaving for vacation and asked if they would hold him for us.

Our vacation was in Canada which meant we had a long drive there and back.  We drove the last five hours of the trip this morning and then found out that we needed to pick up the alpaca today - change of plans!  Our original plan was to catch up around the house.

Because of the change of plans, we decided to cut some corners.  Instead of going to borrow the trailer, we planned to transport him home in the extended cab of our pick up.  Armed with a layer of old towels and a blanket, we thought we could make it work.  Some of our alpaca friends have told us they have used their minivan to transport alpacas, so we could make it work, right?

When we arrived at the farm, we found out that he was a little bigger than we thought and not halter broke.  In fact, we found out that the last time they caught him, they had to rope him.  Let the rodeo begin!

After a little bit of running around, we were able to catch him and fit him with a halter.  We made a halting, running and jumping walk to the truck and then loaded up.  We said a few prayers that he would cush into a sitting position as we had been told alpacas typically do in moving vehicles.  Thankfully, after the first half mile, he found a comfortable sitting position and we made it safely home.
Once we got unloaded, we made another running, jumping and halting trip to the pen.  All of the other alpacas were very curious about the new guy.
 We got Javier settled in with some water,  hay and food.  His companion in the small pen is Blue - our ambassador animal.  They were getting along great after a few minutes of getting used to each other.
We think he is going to fit in very well here.  Our goal is to have him halter broke within the week.  Can we do it?
All the other boys are still really curious. We will introduce him to the bigger pen after a little more time in the small pen.  I am also thinking it will be easier to catch him in the small pen for halter training. Or, we can put him in the big pen and just chalk the catching time up to our cardio workout for the night.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Checking things off of lists

There is nothing better than checking something off of a list.

We stumbled onto a cowboy oil painting at Rerun Consignment in our favorite vendor's booth.  The painting was perfect for the kitchen and I loved the colors.  It was a beautifully painted canvas wrapped around cardboard!

Even though life was busy, it seemed like framing the painting before it was damaged was a good idea.

I took it to our new favorite frame shop, Candlewood Frame Shop. Once again, the experience was really wonderful.  First, they had a sale on their frames which allowed me to bring in a few extra items to take advantage of the discount.  Second, it was a delightful experience in picking out the frames and mats.  It can be really stressful to think about picking the "right" combination - perfectionist on overload.  However, I have only had good experiences and love the suggestions, often combinations or finishes that I would never consider.

So, in the end, I was able to frame the oil painting and that inspired me to frame the two western themed fruit labels we picked up in Oregon this spring.  I also had an Andrew Wyeth print that we framed.  The Wyeth print was part of a collection we picked up at a vintage store this winter.

Actually framing our purchases - check
Getting (most of) the framed art on the wall - check

The Wyeth print is still propped against a chair and I have a prairie photo we purchased in April that is also propped against a chair, so the list continues.