Weekly Update: 5.20.23

We are slowly getting back to normal life after our loss. This week started with what felt like days of storms. We tried to pack our project time into segments of dry weather, often finishing with mad-dashes to put things away before storms hit. None of the storms were severe per se, but the wind in the tent is quite — disquieting. Thank goodness for a storm shelter to hide away in. Even on Mother’s Day, the festivities were punctuated by thunder claps. We still enjoyed spending time with our mother, and we all showered her with plants.

Of course, our thoughts were much on my Memaw. We remembered her especially when we served up one of her favorite ice cream treats — orange sherbet with vanilla ice cream. It’s like a Creamsicle in a cup, and there are few dishes as refreshing on a hot day.

We also thought of our grandma when our new summer bedding arrived last week. She always loved to decorate, and dark blue was one of her favorite colors. In her house, she often paired dark blue with warm tones like brown and orange. We love how bright and cheery the tent is with all the new coverlets. We especially appreciate how quickly they dry on the line when washed.

All the storms made fixing up our storm shelter a priority this week. On Saturday, my dad and I made a Menards run to pick up wood for some built-in benches. The lawn chairs we had down there were not working. I looked over some of Anna White’s outdoor furniture plans, and I combined those with aspects of the bunk beds to design two long benches and a little bunk loft for the kids to lay down in. My dad and I worked on the project as soon as we got home. It was scorching-hot outside and sticky-hot in the shelter, but we kept at it. We finished as a storm rolled in at sunset.

We built the benches with 12 inches of space beneath to accommodate storage. We ordered some totes that we hoped would work, and they fit perfectly! The end result feels very spacious. We ended up putting an extra bench from our dining table in the shelter as well, since it was in our way in the tent. We ordered cushions for the benches, but those have not arrived yet. We have plans to hang some battery powered lights as well.

Along with completing our storm shelter benches, we completed our shipping bin. Being in a rural area, we depend a lot on mail-order supplies. With all the rain we get, we decided to make a shipping bin a priority. My brother Levi and I built most of the body. Dad and Jeremiah helped with the lid and hardware. Grace and Erin completed the painting. It really was a family project! We moved it out to the driveway last night. We got our first package in it this afternoon.

Along with construction projects, we are still plugging away on the garden. Bonnie-Jean has been working on digging post-holes for the fence, which has proved to be a monumental task thanks to all the rocks. Erin, Grace, and Levi have all taken turns on the project as well.

We have also kept up on our maintenance tasks. Levi has used up several spools of weed trimmer line. This week he spent some time at our old camp site and around the spring. The result is downright park-like.

It’s much cooler in the shade of the forest than up here on the hill. We are considering setting up some tents down there for sleeping later in the summer.

With all his weed trimming, Levi has been careful to leave berry bushes whenever he can. We are looking forward to enjoying all of our wild fruit this summer.

Along with blossoms, wildlife have been turning up all over the place. We keep our Audubon Field Guides on a shelf beside our tent door, and we find ourselves consulting them frequently.

Our butterfly population continues to grow. We saw our first Red-spotted Purple this week. We saw these everywhere last year.

The creepy-crawlies have also been out. We spotted what we think was a rather large wolf spider in a flower pot. We also ran into a black snake several times. First, our brother Jeremiah found it across a path in the woods. It was shaking its tail at him, which they apparently do when they feel threatened. Later in the week, Dolly and Rascal cornered the snake in some bushes. The poor snake looked ready to strike. We moved the dogs, as we would like the snake to stay around and reduce the population of less benign reptiles and arachnids.

We have several projects we hope to make progress on this week. We have an electrician scheduled to bring power to our portable office and the bunkhouse site at some point. We hope to make some real progress on the garden. We want to get started on our foundation.

Along with more major projects, I worked on plans this week for stacking dog-crate frames. Our family will be growing over the next couple months, as Bonnie-Jean and Jeremiah both have reserved German Shepherd puppies to join the homestead. It feels crazy having two more dogs in the tent, but it will be the fun kind of crazy. Plus, it’s never too early to have big guard dogs in the country. We plan to get the crate frames built in the next couple weeks, so we are ready for the new pups.

All the flora and fauna add wonder to even mundane and routine tasks around here. Tonight as I stood on the porch cooking some hot dogs on an electric griddle (it was raining), a humming bird came to rest on our string lights just a couple feet from me. He looked right at me. And suddenly a boring, routine activity felt — almost magical. Beauty here is always within reach, just waiting to be seen and celebrated. It’s something to thank God for, over and over, as we carry on with our new-normal life.

2 thoughts on “Weekly Update: 5.20.23

  1. I read both the 5/20 & 5/27 Weekly Updates back to back.

    I love and am amazed at what you’re doing.

    What a gift for you to work and grow and learn, and most importantly receive God’s bounteous daily blessings.

    Everything looks wonderful. Hugs and kisses to each of you, as you bring tears of immense joy to my heart and soul when I read your updates.

    Cannot wait for your next update.

    Cheers to each if you‼️

    Liked by 1 person

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