Building a Wall

We all are surrounded by walls.
There are walls that we put up in our minds to keep the things out that we do not want to deal with.  Some of those walls are there to protect us against emotional pain or even at times to protect us from becoming too joyful  Now that sounds silly, we all need to express joy in our lives.  Some walls are real, made of different materials like wood, paper, cloth, stone and what most of us here in the US use drywall.  Good old drywall, clean and white ready to paint, or cover it up even more.  I had to make a wall that was non-combustable to satisfy the insurance company and probably some fire code for the house.  Yes we need to be safe from a fire started by a wood stove which is my case.  I heat mostly with wood and the back wall needed to be fire coded safe.  I decided I wanted a rock wall because they are beautiful and not only hold heat for warmth they just appear to have a warm feeling about them.  I think even as a kid I have been facinated with rocks and have chipped a few to try and get them to break in half.  I was given three boxes of the fake stones and I layed them out last summer to air out and see how they fit together.  To tell the truth they layed there until the end of fall just before the snow or lack of came.  I knew there was not enough and I could not afford to purchase more so before winter really took hold I was out looking for rocks that would fit with what I had.  So the porch was the holding place for all the rocks.  Most were layed out

roughly the size of the wall I was to build.  I also gathered many little rocks that I thought I would need for filler.  Then once the rocks were gathered I ventured down to the local building supply with measurements and asked for help.  I gave them the measurements and home came the fireboard, screen, drywall screws and mortor.  I had the plywood they said I needed so I was ready.  My cousin Billy had given me plenty of suggestions and advice on how to do the wall.  So after pondering long enough and endless phone calls to Billy I plunged into the project.  I had to build a wall behind the wood stove area strong enough to hold the stones.   So 2×4’s were used and the wall was made to support the rock wall. On the framed in wall I had to cover it with plywood and then firecoded drywall.  Now to hold the stone in place I used a wire mesh that had to be screwed down every 4 to 5 inches.  The wall  looked like a bad case of measles.  Once that was done I began the slow task of adding the rocks.  I worked from the bottom up and it seemed to grow right before my eyes.  The fake stones and the real rocks/stones fit together wonderfully and in the end they all looked real.  Now I am gradually adding the mortor for the grout to finish the wall.  Once that is done the wall will be framed in cherry.  Can’t affor that just yet so that will have to wait.  There is a large cherry tree at the edge of the property that is starting to dye at the top and I have plans to have it cut and made into boards for the future cherry trim.  I am in no hurry.  It would be nice to see my Amish house trimmed with the wood from the property.  A little at a time is fine with me.  It sure is nice sitting there with a warm fire and looking at the wall.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               


No Laundry Day Today

    They warned us that today was not going to be like the last week or month.  No sun, warmth, green leaves, spring flowers and peepers.  No today is lots and lots of cold snow and wind.  The forecast for my hill is up to a foot or more of the white stuff.  Heavy wet snow that can really wreck a good spring day.  I guess there is at least 6 inches so far and it appears to keep falling out of the sky.  No laundry today and I am not going for a ride to see if the Amish hung out their clothes.  Some do even in the rain.  But my guess is that they are tucked away in their blue trimmed houses making bread, soap or cookies.

Today I decided to make my soap boxes.  Not a soap box to stand on to air my  laundry and sound off again.  No I really am going to make soap.  My friend Chimene gave me a lesson a couple of months ago and the soap is wonderful.  I look some of the blue trim that I removed from the house and look it down to the basement and cut and trimmed to make myself 5 boxes to pour the soap into before it is cut into bars.  I have plans for more Chautauqua Honey Olive Oil soap, seems some friends of mine claim that their skin problems have healed up.  So I have orders.  My friend Suzie and I are trying to think of a great name for our new product line that we keep talking about.  Hair rinse, soaps, and vinegar made from our harvest of herbs and berries.  I know soap and vinegar does not go together but what the heck.  Did you know that soap making has been going on for as long as man/women have been around.  Soap making was developed through trial and error until a bar of soap was perfected.  The early hard-working colonists used wood ashes and waste fats.  This gives testimony to the early American self-sufficiency and resourcefulness.  The Babylonians made soap in 2800 BC and the Phoenicians around 600 BC.  Soap through the ages was made using a form of sodium alkali.  The Egyptians are thought to have used local soda deposits for their source of alkali as the Spaniards did.  Other people un various regions burned seaweed producing sodium based barilla for their alkali.  Most people today go to the store and buy something filled with antibacterial ingredients with a lot of added unnecessary ingredients and develop all sorts of skin problems.  I have been using gentle soap for a long time and prefer hand-made soap.  Now I use my own.  Let me know if you are interested in putting in an order.


Here it is again another Monday in Chautauqua County New York.  Home of The Chautauqua Institution, Lilly Dale, Chautauqua Lake, The Home of Welsh’s Grapes, Lucile Ball to name just a few things.  And here I am sitting at my computer trying to make another interesting post.  The truth is I feel like doing some laundry about some things.  But first a bit if history concerning laundry day.  The clean wet clothes get hung out to dry and boy what a day for that today.  A very nice breeze and lots of warm sun.  So the clothes were hung to dry.  So what about the clothes pin or peg.  Where did that come from and why.  Well I guess if it was breezy out you needed something to hold the clothes down so they would not blow away.

I did a little research and the clothes pin was invented by the Shakers in Albany New York as well as the washing machine.  They were carved out of a piece of wood and the wet clothes gave enough moisture to keep the pin from splitting.  In the UK the pin or peg was made of willow because that wood held a lot of moisture.  Some designers would wrap a piece of wire around the peg to keep the wood from splitting as well.  Lot of changes and developments through the years but basically it is still a simple gadget to keep the clothes from blowing away.              Children would also use the clothes pins as dolls.  What imaginations, way before Barbie Dolls.

So for laundry day and doing some dirty laundry.  Today I lost the sale of a small group of female alpacas that I really needed to make.  Selling breeding stock has been my major form of income for the last 12 years and the economy has really hit me.  It takes all I have to feed my herd and care for them.  All other activities including fixing up my Amish house have been put on hold.  I had a nice women who wanted to purchase three girls so she could have a small farm and enjoy them and the tax advantages.  Little did I know that the real reason was strictly for taxes and lowering her property tax bill.  Well I got a call and was told that another farmer was going to give her his tax exemption if she would store his hay in her empty barn.  Just to store hay in 1/2 of a persons pole barn is enough to warrant having their  property tax bill lowered and that they are now agricultural exempt?  Why am I a farmer/rancher making my living raising livestock working hard to sell what I produce on my land doing the right thing filling out the paperwork sweating a bad economy just to watch someone who has a bunch of land works in town and just gets some hay in the barn get the agricultural tax exemption.  I guess I have said enough for the evening.  Anyone interested in purchasing some fine alpacas for a change in lifestyle, to lower your blood pressure, harvest some wonderful renewable resource, get great manure for your garden and for a tax break let me know.  I have lots of great animals for sale.

Addition to Taxing the Worry Dolls

WOW I DID IT!!!!!!!!!f  Taxes are done and ready for me to sign  at the accountants office.  Can’t believe it after all the worry and worrying with the worry dolls.  I guess they helped me get through this venture.  My sister Terry gave me the dolls years ago I think it was when my partner Peter passed away nearly 3 1/2 years ago.  Maybe this is a sign of a new beginning?  The good thing is that I owe no taxes for the past 3 years and so I can thank the alpacas and the farm for allowing me write a lot of things off.  I truly am a farm.  For anyone thinking of owning alpacas you might consider the tax advantages.  A capital investment for breeding stock that you can depreciate for up to 5 years.  Not only that but you can get this beautiful fiber from these beautiful animals that keeps us warm and soft and even cool in the summer.  Try a pair of alpaca socks and see for yourself.

By the way I am back at the blog and hope to keep you posted on all the new adventures here at the farm.  Also I will continue to venture back into the past 2 years at the Amish house and farm to share how it has taken shape and changed.  Like building the stone wall, soap, perogies,bathroom, my art which I am getting back into and the garden to name a few… and of course all the Monday laundry days to come.  Keep an eye out for more.  Thank you for coming back to the blog!!!

Monday “Laundry Blues”

It’s Laundry Day again, today it’s blue Monday or laundry blues day.  Feeling a little blue today.  Why?  Well it’s cold outside, windy and off and on snow showers.  Not a good day to hang the laundry.  Ice cold fingers and stiff jeans and towels are not fun to fold.  I took a drive and not much laundry out today in the Amish Community.  A bit here and there but not like last week.  So we are on the same track I guess with the cold fingers.  So how about some blue doors?

When I moved into my house everything was blue, the doors the walls and even the cupboards.

I inquired from several people why the blue doors.  Lots of people who I asked who were not Amish said it was a notice that there was a girl living there of marrying age.  So I took that as why but then I heard from someone else that the blue door was letting people know that there was a family living there.  So why the blue doors, they are on every Amish house out there in this part of the Chautauqua County.  My friend Suzie looked on-line one day and basically they said it could be the same thing I was told but still no real answer.  The only added thought that it is just tradition and that maybe the Bishop of the community painted his door blue one day so the rest of the Amish community followed by painting their doors blue.  Any thought of this feel free to comment and maybe someone out there really knows the answer.