Do it Yourself

After eight (8) glorious and very busy years we are cleaning out the farm and renting it out.   It will go into very good hands as we turn it over to a young couple who we trust will care for it as their very own.   We have known her parents for years and love them like family.   This young couple already has chickens so at least the chickens will be comfy!   We hope everyone will be at home here as we have been.

The young lady, Lisa, would love nothing more than to learn veterinary skills and take classes in Veterinary Technology.    Her husband, Jimmy, has trained dogs for the State Troopers and with a State Prison system.   He is in business for himself now training dogs for various purposes.   They will have lots of room to do that here.

We have agreed that the cattle will stay at the farm, so we will continue to have contact with it as we need to.   Any time we return we will live in the RV behind the house.   It’s fully furnished and comfortable.

Moving oneself is always a chore.   We have been emptying the house for a week.  Plenty of items have been donated or tossed.   We have gone through our clothes and will have to do another purge before we are completely settled, I’m sure.    We have more things in the barn than I’d like to admit to.   That will mean more than one weekend here to purge those items.    I think it is a very good thing to rid oneself of extra things one is not using.   One gets a cleansing feeling after freeing oneself of ‘junk’.   Of course it isn’t junk to everyone. . .. it is their ‘treasure’!

So is this my last blog here?   Perhaps.   but I would love to post a page to the new blog Lisa intends to start.    So I may be back one more time. . ..

Don’t forget friends.    I have another blog too.    You can follow our next “life” at Gilraker’s Adventures.    We hope you will enjoy is as much as we do.


This time of year we usually spend getting the farm books together for the dreaded tax payment and buying seeds and other things for the garden. We are doing a few things differently. My sweetie Troy has had a knee replaced and we are pretty much concentrating on his recovery. Perhaps after tomorrow morning I’ll be able to get the farm books together. And maybe I’ll even be able to plant a few seed transplants.   Keeping the house in order and making sure he’s comfortable and things are clean is a full-time job!
I have come to appreciate several things. 1) Full use of my arms and legs. Seeing people in the hospital with new knees and hips pained me, although medical technology can do amazing things! 2) The tools which can make life with challenges a bit easier.  As I get older I realize that there may be a time when I will need some “help” to reach things and move around better.  There are all kinds of cool things to help with that.  3)  Fulltime caretakers and stay-at-home mothers have a full-time job!  It just amazes me how much one has to do to keep up with the needs of others.  When do these folks have time to use the bathroom or have lunch themselves?  After Troy and I got home from his first Physical Therapy appointment, I ran out with a list of about 8 things to do.  Between getting paperwork from the doctor for insurance, medicine, and other needs I realized when I got home I had not eaten lunch!  I was plumb worn out!

This has also been a practice run at retirement.  Here is my take on that:  I have to make sure my husband is healthy!  If he’s underfoot the entire time he will drive me crazy!  I need to be able to use that new sewing room and I haven’t seen the inside of it once the entire week.  I’ve got to get out there. .. .

I will have plenty of things to do between going through the house and de-cluttering it, cooking more often and sewing I will have plenty to do.  There is also the barn and storage area I need to clean out.   That will take some time.  Once all those things are done I can begin volunteer work at a nursing facility or maybe the local library.  There is plenty to do and I look so forward to it!

One of the gifts my husband bestowed on me this Christmas was his office. It was going to be his “man-cave”, a place he could go to and watch television or work on a project if he wanted to. But  on Christmas Eve, he woke up and told me it was mine as a sewing room.  Can you believe that he gave it to me as his gift? Isn’t he just the best husband?

Anyway It needed to be finished inside.  So after he put the walls up I painted them.  He also wanted to put up trim around the windows and put up crown molding.  He wanted this room to looked welcoming and finished.  I couldn’t feel more special!   Anyway, I painted molding and he cut and installed it. It’s his first time at tackling this kind of room and I think he’s done a great job!

Actually I painted the whole room twice since I hated the first color.  The “pretty” blue/gray color ended up looking baby blue on the wall. . . It made the small room look smaller and dark.  But look at it now!   Isn’t this daisy yellow cheery?

Once the walls were done, we had to tackle the sewing table and the Quilt frame. .. “Santa” was too good to me this year!    We took our time and neither of us used a bad word during the entire process.  I am proud of that fact…. Funny   how reading the directions (even as poorly as they are usually written) will help when one is engaged in “some assembly required”!

Why is it that the manufacturers assume you understand what they mean when they say left and right. . . Is that when you are looking at or behind the item?  Is that when it’s still upside down?  Anyway, we only had to take the sewing table apart twice to get all the parts in the right place!

The quilt frame was not as difficult to put together.  The instructions were easy to read. . . . I’m hoping that putting the fabric on and actually quilting will be easy too!

Thomas even got involved in our project!  I’ll have to make a soft spot for him and a place for a water bowl. .. . just in case he’d like to spend time with his Mommy in her new “woman-cave”! ! ! ! 

It will be a great place to do some quilting.  I can’t wait to use it.  Stop by some time and let me show you around the farm.    We can give the cows the “cookies” they like and say hello to the horses next door.  We can take our time and finally wander into the cabin.  And you can sit in the cozy chair and listen to the radio with me and chat while I sew. .. you might even be able to show me a few quilting secrets of yours!

I love Craigslist. I think DH does tooo.  We both check it regularly to see what interesting things people have for sale.  It’s like going to a yard sale from the comfort of my den!  It’s amazing what you can find.  I do believe that you have to be careful in dealing with people you don’t know, but in general most of them are honest folks looking to get rid of something that could be your treasure one day!  We’ve gotten a number of things from people who have advertised there. We haven’t sold anything there though. Generally I prefer to donate used appliances or other large items to a worthy cause like the Habitat Store or the church around the corner.
But I digress. . . .We’ve purchase a number of good items found while perusing Craigslist. First there was a 16 foot flatbed trailer. It helped when we moved out of the old house and when we bought the first tractor. We’ve hauled manure and trash to the dump more than once. It has really paid for itself more than once since we bought it. 

    Here it is loaded with hay along with the black pickup truck.  They work just as hard as DH! 
The other thing we have gotten is a manure spreader.  My dearest husband (DH)   (shaking my head); to me this is more of a toy than a tool, but what do I know.  As far as I’m concerned just shovel the stuff into the flatbed trailer and move it to another section of the farm.  There it will “compost” and we’ll have great stuff for the vegetable garden the next time.  But hey, what fun would that be?  Oh well, since he is still working full-time, I can’t fault him for wanting to enjoy his time on the farm.  Let him make work as enjoyable as he can while we can afford it. . .  I believe that I posted about it last year when he bought it.  There are pictures there too. 

Anyway, we have also gotten a “greenhouse”.  It is really more of a hothouse since it doesn’t have its own heater.  But it has a vent fan which will drawn heat out when the temperature gets too high.  And we’ve placed it in a nice spot where several trees provide a small amount of shade.  I will begin using it in the late summer when temperatures aren’t in the 90s as they already are! 



The couple we bought it from was very nice.  They were moving to a gated community with restrictions which prevented their having a hothouse.  We’re very happy to take care of it for them!   

The latest adventure in Craigslist finds is a golf cart.  Now I realize that 10 acres is a large place for some.  But it’s not that big that one cannot walk in and around unless one is injured or otherwise incapable of walking for health reasons.  Anyway I consider it another toy although we have recently learned that DH will have to have knee replacement sometime soon.  It will come in handy to allow him to get around.  It will be mush easier to drive than the Gator.  It’s also quieter than the gas driven Gator since it’s electric.  I’ll have to get pictures of it to post. 

We have also purchased other farm tools and services for renovating a cattle trailer from this online list.  The bottom line is that we are glad to have a resource such as Craigslist for good used items that are helpful on the farm.  Don’t be afraid to use it.  We’ve been lucky, but caution you to be conscious of doing business with those who are just out for a buck.

So spring has brought with the  pine pollen which we living in the South dread. It makes everything from cars, to sidewalks to outdoor furniture yellow. The occasional rain relieves us of the blight for only a brief time. When the rain stops the yellow is back. . . If you wonder where the yellow went, it’s here in the Carolinas!

Anyway, as the weather has become tolerable, we have prepared a much larger garden bed than last year.  We have put in a small irrigation system which uses both a drip tape and sprinklers to provide water to the seeds and plants.  I bought it two years ago and was sort of intimidated about using it.  But I thought this time what the heck?  It will probably be more consistently watered.  And if we get rain I can always turn it off.  

This took lots of tilling!    Here is our new garden plot with compost added. 

Last years garden was mainly lettuce carrots and tomatoes.   The tomatoes grew best providing lots of great tasting cooking tomatoes.  They made a super sauce.  I’ve kept seeds and have some growing already in pots and in the ground. 

This year we have two zucchini, three yellow squash, three cucumbers, two watermelons, two cantaloupes.    These are somewhat experimental since I’ve never grown those before.  That is why I’ve selected only a few of each.  There are also a bunch of lettuce: red leaf and radicchio .  I’m also going to plant some seeds so we have more available as this stuff matures.   I’ve also planted onions, carrots and radishes.  Today we built a large trellis for pole beans.  I haven’t  planted them yet, but will later this week. 

 Oh yes I have discovered that luffa are a type of gourd that grows like any other squash.   I understand that they are edible, but I’d like to let them dry and used the insides for bath scrubbers.  I’ve also been told that one can cut them down the middle nad make dish cloths out of them.  It will be very interesting to see!

I hope to have more photos of the planted garden and the trellis next time.  Thanks for reading!

When first we practice to deceive.” .  . . .

   Oh but it is far from that which we do!   We are merely adding to the tangle of the Web that is.  Okay, you might say that adding is weaving. . . but let’s not get technical. 


   Allow me to direct you to the left side of our blog’. . .  where it says “Web sites We Like”.  Hey look!  Smiling J Farm has a Web Site now!  OR better yet. . . It’s at:   Kewl!  

Now you can see more of what we are all about and maybe if you like, you can order some humanely raised grass-fed beef from us.   This is our first web page, so feel free to make any suggestions which will make it easier for you to view of use it.  Soon, we will have an order form added to make it easier for us to kep track of orders.  

   There is also another e-mail address connected with the farm.  but those of you who have our home e-mail can still use that.   Well right now you can go and read all about Irish Dexters and Australian Lowlines at our web site.  But don’t forget to come back and see us here.  Thanks!

 Please forgive me for changing the appearance of the site so frequently this week.   You know we women.  We enjoy changing the furniture around occassionally just for a different look.

  I have been looking for something which will complement natural colors which are often in my photos.  I also like to be able to set up the header photo.  The templates available with a custom header are limited. 

    But thank you for hanging in there and sharing this journey with me as I putter online!  I’ll get it straight soon, hopefully.


UPDATED:   I think I’ve found a look we both like.  The top picture is of DH taking the ladies into the front pasture.  It’s how we roll . . . . on the farm.

Next Page »