It's been busy times. We closed on the farm last Friday. The store has been very busy, which makes for great highs for Alexe when Dixie is running the kitchen and Alexe is running the front and they can deal with any rush, just the two of them. It has also meant deep lows when the weekend rolls around, and the staffing issues that have resulted in a new weekend cook mean that half of the BTC isn't running as it should, and Alexe takes the lack of a perfect BTC experience for every customer as a personal failure. Hopefully with training the weekend kitchen staff will come up to speed quickly, because business is not going to slow, (knock on wood,) and there continues to be great press. The WSJ was the latest.
We're selling the blue house, and the other project house in town, because owning 4 properties in this town is silly, and we need the capital to pour into our farm. This means the house needs to be show ready, and with these two kids in their punchy 3s and 4s, it's a challenge.
And there's so much to do at the farm. So many fun projects.
I'm enrolling Caspian in a morning program to match Annaliese's schedule. Something's got to free up some time to do projects that are not children friendly, and Alexe's schedule is not lightening up, so I will have the mornings to do everything I can before the kids come home. That gives me another two hours during nap to do computer-related work while they sleep, and then around 2:30 it'll be family time. I think that's a schedule that I can feel good about.
One of the families that came to view the blue house had four children. I knew they were too big a group for the house when they arrived, but the kids had a blast tearing around the place for a good hour.
This was a quiet moment while they ate frozen juice boxes.
On Saturday night, Dixie threw Alexe (and me) a belated birthday dinner at her house. It was amazing. Secret fried chicken, shredded brussel sprouts with nuts and berries, black eyed peas that melted in the mouth, marinated cucumber salad, rolls, and cold hard cider. Made with love.
We took Dixie up to see the farm after dinner, and she brought cupcakes. This is the birthday girl, blowing out her candles.
These two are adorable together. Friends, business partners, co-authors, and they even coordinate their clothing.
The back pasture, before I hooked up the bush hog and started learning the lay of the land. Much of the land on the farm is very rolling, which hasn't been a problem with the feisty 4 wheel drive tractor, but parts of these pastures are slightly terraced, and that's begging for a roll over in an unfamiliar field. The first go around was nice and slow. Which I didn't mind at all. If you haven't ridden a tractor around on a glorious blue-sky day, I highly recommend it.
This little guy followed his mother across the field. Last night as I was closing up the shop there were at least 4 deer at the tree line 100 feet away. Seems to be a healthy population in our back woods.
There may be an abundance of tractor pictures.
This is a view of the house. It is an original, solidly built bungalow from the 50s, with a two story box-addition that is less well built from the early 80s. We haven't decided what our long term plans are yet, a major renovation, or a rebuild. Either way, we want to move up there now, just to be there. Tonight may be the last night we spend in the blue house.
We took all the curtains down to let the light come in, and have had all three doors open all day for the past week to air the place out. I tinkered with the whole-house fan and got it running again, which is a fun thing to flip on and feel the fresh air come rushing in to replace the stale air that is being sucked into the attic.
The thing I don't think I'll be able to renovate around are the low ceilings.
One of my favorite views, out the sliding door of the workshop towards the barn and that back pasture.
The kids are juggling a few reactions to the farm. Missing of the blue house, excitement over having their own rooms, (that's more Annaliese,) freedom of exploring and playing new outdoor games, and the too frequent bickering that they take everywhere they go.
This was a happy collective game of making a pathway of leaves down the shop ramp.
Speaking of the shop, I took a few hours to put in three sky lights. ($50 each on craigslist.) They make it a much lighter place to be. There was a heavy storm the night after I put them in, and I need to get up there and re-seal the leaks the storm kindly pointed out to me.
The previous owners left an old cabinet radio that needs to warm up before it will receive a few very nearby radio stations. The kids had a dance party; Annaliese practicing being a cheerleader with leafy branches for pompoms, and Caspian wielding a stick-sword and trying to swat a hanging extension cord.
Alexe's mother, Sharon, aka Nonni, came for a visit this past week.
Annaliese still has an afternoon or two a week at the BTC with Alexe. She's very focused right now on doing homework for school. The homework is on a volunteer basis, with the teacher offering a toy from the treat basket for anyone who does any. Annaliese obsessively fills pages with words and numbers and brings them to school. According to her teacher, Annaliese and one other girl do this, and all the others, who woud benefit more from this kind of practice, don't care.
I went to the season opener at the Fiddler's Loft outside of town, solo, with Alexe being poooped after a very long Friday at the BTC.
Kevin sitting on the right, along with his wife, put these shows together, and they're awesome. These guys are warming up the crowd with a fun set of songs, one sung mostly in chicken-bok-boks.
This duo is a long time Oxford staple. I had never heard of, or heard, them before. They were amazing. Both skilled instrumentalists, the man on the right has a relaxed, effortless voice, and between the two of them they write some excellent songs.
The bassist told a pretty funny chicken joke.
I'm missing a picture of the second act, a solo young lady who could really play her guitar.
The last act, an old blues man from Arkansas in the middle, Jared Spears a local talent on the right, and someone who was sitting in the audience until they insisted he come up and join them on the left. Energetic blues/rock mix to close out the night.
The old oak barn at the farm. As you can see it has been neglected, with sections of the roof being allowed to fail, and a nasty lean starting, and progressing, over the years unchecked.
It was the first thing I did after we closed, firmly tie the long diagonal of the parallelogram together, and slowly, at an inch a day to give it time to rest, start cranking it back together.
It was slow going.
But it started to stand up straight again after a few days.
After a certain point the right hand corner started picking up off the foundation, so I lifted the left corner up with hydraulic jack to level out the bottom. Rather than push the right corner down, the whole front section of the barn swung left a foot to straighten up, leaving the right corner over thin air.
After a week of slow progress, this was annoying. While the structure was straight I went inside and bolted in a few diagonals to hold it roughly square, the I pulled the tractor around and pushed it back over the foundation pillars, and released the tension on the diagonal to let it sit back down.
There's plenty more to do on this beauty to make her safe, but she's standing up straight-ish now, and I'm not worried about her falling over anymore.