Saturday, December 7, 2013

It's -9 degrees out there, with a high of 2 predicted. I am living my nightmare. If I wanted to look on the bright side, I could be happy that my heating issues out here on the farm have been solved or at least are being managed. It took some time but I was able to get my landlord to understand that the farmhouse was not a comfortable place to live for the first couple of weeks. He's a nice old guy and I believe him when he said he wasn't aware of all the issues, and he and the handyman are getting each problem fixed. It took writing a letter then an angry phone call one cold Saturday morning when I couldn't stand it any longer.
The corn-burning stove works great but effectively heats only the living room. The wood stove is also great but messy and labor-intensive. Maybe I'm soft but when I get home from work, I generally don't feel like immediately dealing with ashes and making a fire. My main issue was that the home's heating system wasn't working properly. No heat was coming out of the vents. Handyman Lyle worked on it and even called in a heating guy. Between dealing with the two of them scheduling time together out here, getting parts and Lyle having other jobs, 2-3 weeks had passed and temps were dropping. After hearing Lyle say again that the heat was working fine down in the basement and they couldn't figure out why I wasn't getting heat upstairs, I was ready to kill somebody. Luckily, instead, I called a few heating companies and found out how much it would cost to have them diagnose the problem on that cold Saturday. Armed with these numbers, I called the landlord and proposed getting the problem fixed that day and the cost would be subtracted from next month's rent. I was expecting an argument from him but he said fine and the heating company had someone out a couple hours later. It took the man a little while to understand the tangled mess of pipes and valves that had evolved over the years (house is about 100 years old) but he explained it to Lyle for potential future problems and I had warmth in the house! It's not perfect by any means but I could relax for the first time. It was an incredibly stressful time for me and I'm glad it's over.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Today was a really good day at the farm.
I enjoyed some nice, warm domestic-y feelings as I made Alexander and his friend Derek their breakfast and looked out the huge window of what I'm calling the great room. It's not a great room yet; it's still cluttered with boxes and bins needing to be emptied, but it has great potential. Then I got the idea that I'll set up a guest book of sorts for Xander and his friends to jot down a few words about the sleepovers, like some people have for their guests at the cabin up north, say. Maybe I'll print out some photos and it'll eventually become more of a scrapbook. 
As the coffee brewed, I made a fire to warm up the house a little more. After the guys had a chance to play outside for a little while, I told them we heading to the nearby town of Isanti to do some shopping. Of course they were less than thrilled to hear that, but the second night of the sleepover was hanging on whether Xander's attitude remained acceptable. He's just getting to that age where it's not cool to be decent to your parents, plus he's sleep deprived because getting a good night's sleep isn't cool either. I don't remember being at this silly was much too long ago. Regardless, he's been cranky on and off all day but I didn't let him kill my buzz. And guess what I bought?! A tractor! It's not a huge one but I can't even explain how excited I am about it. It's a John Deere and has a snow blower attachment and cab for the upcoming winter and a mower for next year when the grass is growing. It'll be delivered next Friday, and I'll get the "Tractors for Dummies" short course then. I can't wait!
Later in the afternoon, I decided to play around with the internet cords and connections and finally got it working! I'd spent way too much time on the phone with CenturyLink and just wasn't sure if I was willing to spend $100+ for internet installation, but I didn't have to! Two awesome things in one day...I can't stand it!

the farm, a few weeks ago


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Front of the farmhouse (matching birdfeeder!)
I can't believe it, but I'm finally getting my small farm. Just as I was giving up the search, I found this place on 20 acres in Harris, MN--north of the Twin Cities. It's an older place (probably haunted) but there's a barn... I've always wanted a barn! There's a wood stove and a corn burner to help with traditional heating methods for the upcoming cold weather.

Back of farmhouse
I am thrilled and scared, at the same time. Can I handle this move to the country? I lived out in the desert before, all by myself, but that was a long time ago.

Xander by the barn and silo (he's holding his head because he had a bad headache)

I'll take the winter to plan for the sheep and a few crops for farmers markets and maybe a CSA. Although I've devoted many hours this year learning as much as I can about farming in the upper midwest of the US, I still need to do more.

Our backyard!

What a tremendous opportunity I've been given, as well as the chance for a fresh start.