Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Christening the Farmhouse

Well, we formally broke in the farmhouse last weekend with a little family action: Jay's folks Tom and Lynda, along with his brother Greg, sister-in-law Emily and their two girls, Hope and Ellie, came for the Memorial Day weekend and a good time was had by all (despite an insane tick infestation that eventually put Emily in the emergency room on Monday night!).

Along with some great meals - barbeque, sandwiches and cookies galore - we got to bask in the warm, summery sun like lizards on rocks and with the help of our very buff farmer neighbors got Tom and Lynda's piano into the house! Upon trying to determine the best way to haul the thing in, Brian (who lives at the corner of S and 810th) said "Let's just pick it up and get it in there, I've got cows to milk." This was a favorite and oft-repeated line over the course of the weekend and ended up being exactly what they did! We were then treated to some wonderful playing by Lynda and felt for the first time the beautiful energy that music brings to a home.

The place is really starting to feel like a dwelling, with only a few last things to do to finish up in there (molding being the biggest). Some other beautiful antique furniture the Collins' brought really adds to the place as well. We're very lucky in that both of our families are moving and downsizing, which means we get to outfit the farm in legitimate furniture! We're quite the grown-ups now!

Other activities included LOTS of horseback riding by Hope and Ellie, who ended up being very brave equestrians indeed. By the last day, Hope was trotting and cantering on good old Mistie, following behind Colby with Ellie and me aboard. It was delightful to see my dear ancient mare connecting with the next generation horse-crazy girl. We also planted sunflowers and, indulging the anal-retentive Swede in me, I'm embarrassed to report I scrubbed the propane tank. Meanwhile, the boys got in lots of fun on the riding mower (with little Ellie taking a nap in her dad's lap as he mowed) and Greg and Emily's dog Kota ran herself silly and enjoyed a little horse manure snack from time to time. It was such fun to see other people enjoying themselves at the farm! What a treat.

Encouraging news on the job front: Becca will most likely be able to work it out that she goes back to her job part time after her maternity leave, and Chris's work is willing to be flexible as well. So we're in good shape in that department. Jay has a job interview for a writing job at Chippewa Falls High School tomorrow, so cross your fingers! I have a training horse arriving on June 12 - one week after my new adoptee is supposed to come this Friday! Jay and I move permanently to the farm June 11 - never a dull moment around here! I'll probably be checking my email only weekly at most, so if you urgently need to reach me, you should call the farm after June 10: (715) 658 1581. I think my cell phone will be de-activated at that time as well.

There are millions of trillium opening their faces to the sun in our woods - it makes me think of Portland and Tryon Creek State Park. I miss my fellow Portlanders! Can't wait for Julianne, Corrie, Steph and Christa's arrival! We anticipate their arrival with great joy. Not sure if the hot tub will be in by then, but we're working on it!

It's been a long time since I posted - I'll try to do better. Meanwhile, we send you all kinds of furry farm love.

Fragrant honeysuckle blooms to all,


Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Originally uploaded by chrisnewhouse.
Hard workin' weekend at the farm. Jay is putting the finishing touches on our herb spiral, and you can see the new sheet-mulched garden in the background. More photos on the photo site.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Quirks on Quirks

Well, besides the cold winter, Charis and Jay may have succeeded in pulling Portland weather with them to the midwest. First, a beautiful mild summer, now a rainy, gray, green spring! We're going on week two of rain and I think it's beginning to get to people around here...you know how much we all love to talk about the weather. "Yes, yes! Let's talk about the weather!" At least I'm not "Raining on the Inside," a la Amy Grant, circa 1980. Do you think I could write this whole blog entry in song speak? I'll spare you that.

Today, Charis is out at the farm, probably getting soaked as she waits for another coat of polyurethane to dry on the wood floors before applying the final layer. She's my hero - Jay and Chris too - for sparing me and Arthur from the fumes and labor. This weekend will be spent experimenting with solutions for the upstairs - now that we know it's unsandable and some of the floor up there is now striped where we tried sanding it and hit only every other floorboard...we're facing some creative solutions! Thank god the rest of the house has so much "character" (aka imperfections), that we can get creative and it will hopefully just blend in with the rest of the quirks. We love the quirks, don't get me wrong. Quirks who love quirks.

Jay wants Charis to paint an Italian countryside mural on our kitchen wall (inspired by the one in the new Riverview Wine Bar down the street from us in Minneapolis). I say mural in the kitchen only if she'll agree to also do a re-make of her Winterhawks hockey caricatures on the wall in the guest bedroom. Are we going to need a public vote on this one?

And Charis wants Jay and Chris to whittle the stump at the top of the driveway into her favorite Precious Moments figurine. Just kidding, she's actually lobbying for an eagle swathed in an American flag. In all seriousness, there's talk of making the stump into a bench...not a bad idea...what do you think?

The property is getting outfitted with more and more trees, including a beautiful willow in front of the barn (my personal favorite) and a couple of cherry trees are on the way. Tomatoes, basil, and more veggies will go into the ground this weekend both at farm and house. Jay wants 48 tomato plants. Last year we reaped about 300 tomatoes from 4 plants. So, bring your baskets when you come for a visit. Apparently Arthur can't have tomatoes until after age 1. or honey. or peanut butter. I learned this in the lunchroom at work today. Is this for real?

Mom and Dad have officially begun their trek around China with Barb and Dennis. After a ridiculously long Saturday of moving 3500 square feet of belongings into their darling 1500 sq. foot bungalow, I dropped them off at the airport Sunday afternoon - they were exhausted but beaming. We are amazingly thrilled for them to have this experience. They've been waiting for this for years.

The next few weeks will really pick up speed - including preparing for C&J to move to the farm full time in early June. It's bittersweet for me - the house in Minneapolis will be so quiet--too quiet. And Chris and I will anxiously await our reunion in early fall with baby in tow. Arthur will certainly miss Charis and Jay's kitchen creations over the summer. We'll just have to savor them (C&J and their meals) during the weekends we're together. But we're also excited to welcome the new horse into the fold in three weeks, then even a dog (?) and baby to quickly follow. We're doing our darndest to fill those 36 acres, people! Help us out, and put Colfax on your travel calendar soon! Corrie, Christa, Julianne, Steph - we can't WAIT to see you in June...and promptly fill you with food and drink and merriment.

That's all for now - just some midday, midweek, rainy afternoon thoughts from me, B.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Timpano Movie

Originally uploaded by chrisnewhouse.
Here is a movie showing how the timpano was made. Its really small, but loads of fun to watch. Click on the player to bring up the movie.

Running Behind

Originally uploaded by chrisnewhouse.
A little clip of some pre-party action. Click the screen and have a chuckle.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

New Horse

Originally uploaded by chrisnewhouse.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Ticked off

What a weekend! Oy.

Jay had to re-awaken me three times this morning as I was plastered to my bed. Besides sanding and re-finishing the floors (the boys and WONDERFUL COUSIN BEN) and planting zillions of plants/vines and making trellises (B and me) Colby was diagnosed with Lyme's Disease over the weekend. Apparently the ticks are rampant right now. When we got to the farm on Saturday his legs were swollen like footballs and he was not a happy camper. The grizzled, hardened old country vet - the only one I could get after a couple hours of trying - came out and pumped him full of antibiotics, was out again yesterday (Sunday) and will be back again today. When I asked him whether Colby would be okay, he looked me straight in the eye and said "He'll either live or he'll die. We'll know in a couple of days." Poor horse has been through the wringer with the Midwest bugs. The good news is that once they've been exposed and recovered, they're immune to another bout.

On the upside, I'm selling my beautiful trailer in order to adopt this boy:


Isn't he awesome? He comes from a PMU farm (Pregnant Mare Urine - used to make the drug Premarin). Apparently Canada has shut down all of their PMU farms as of late April because they've been able to make a synthetic version of Premarin, which is a very good thing as the PMU farms are cruel to the horses (mares are impregnated and made to stand in stanchion stalls 24/7 so that their urine can be collected). The downside to this is that there are now thousands of horses flooding the market, and most will be sent to slaughter because of they way humans have senselessly and shamefully exploited them. I've wanted to adopt one of these guys ever since I heard about the farms.

That's it for now- back to work!

Love and glorious flaxen manes and tails to all,


Friday, May 06, 2005


Originally uploaded by chrisnewhouse.
Timpano night pictures..
more here

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Nature Thrillers

I keep on forgetting to record the name Tryston Beyrer has for us: "Nature Thrillers." Isn't that awesome? It's got a lot of thrust, doesn't it? It's so much more active sounding and far less passive than some of the other names I'm sure people have for us. I'm going to use it from now on.

Sorry it's been so long since I last posted. I've sort of been in subconscious mode - unable to journal about my activities because I'm so immersed in them. There hasn't been a whole lot of activity lately either, as many final details will have to be taken care of after the massive floor-refinishing project happening THIS WEEKEND. That should be interesting, as we may have to sleep outside on Saturday night and thunderstorms are predicted all weekend. Then we'll be Nature Thrillers FOR SURE.

Jay took the day off and we went out to the farm yesterday - it was gloriously sunny and warm, and I did some weed whacking and flower planting and then we took a long walk up on the high ridge. It was amazing. There was some clearcutting on the other side of the ridge, which was deeply disturbing to see. Like dead bodies lying there, all draped over each other. On a happier note, new life poked through the forest floor everywhere we looked, which was so encouraging. Things are greening up and the maple trees are brilliant red with baby leaves. I'm going to make the ridge trail a horse trail if it's the last thing I do. There are only a few spots that need to have trees cleared from the trail.

I think we're all a little worn down with the remodeling blues. Once the floors are done, things will get a bit better. It's our last big project in there, really. Jay has been working determinedly on getting all the plumbing done in the bathroom. This always takes longer than one might think, and we're having to get adjusted to these kinds of setbacks.

The big Italian birthday bash was a total success, complete with a GIANT timpano (it weighed about 20 lbs!), lots of vino, 25 people at the table, amazing salads, risotto, appetizers, desserts and even a little bit of drunken ping pong (my dad kicked everyone's butts, which made him very proud indeed). The only thing missing was our Portland contingent... so sad!

Jay continues to search for a job near the farm - keep him in your thoughts as we try to tackle this thing called health insurance!

Love and budding trees to all,