Good bye city life! Our family designed and built an industrial but old fashioned farmhouse on nine acres. Now we are building our homestead ~ or is it building us? Grab your boots and join us on our journey to country living.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Wa-hoo a Cock-a-doodle-do

Our three resident roosters are crowing.  They are croaky crows but too cute.  I know I will probably tire of it especially since I'm not a morning person but for the moment it is exciting for them to enter a new chick stage.  Soon we will decide which  rooster will rule the roost and become Mr. Darcy of Pemberley.  I have a weakness for Jane Austen movies and the chickens have names to prove it.  The two losing roosters will go to a new home or to the cooking pot if I think I can wring their cute little necks.  We will wait and see who has the best cock-a-doodle-doo!

Sloggers for a Garden Girl

Last year, my sweet husband treated me to some true gardening gear.  A big floppy but sturdy sun hat and a pair of Slogger shoes.  They are floral rubber and wash off with the hose.  The insoles slide out for quick drying.  And they are pink so they go with everything I own!  I keep them outside on the breezeway and wear them everyday to the chicken coop or the vegetable and flower gardens. The only other thing I need is a hand shovel.  My matching pink gloves are rarely worn because I like to feel the dirt between my fingers.  My nails are the worse for it though.  So... garden girls everywhere, go to

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Red Rooster & Bucket of Silverware

While my kitchen sink is empty and clean, I thought I would snap a pic and show you.  The stainless steel farmhouse sink from Kohler was one of the splurges in our house.  It has one huge basin.  And really, does anyone use both sides of the sink?  Most people function out of the little one that has the disposer. Anyway,  I love it.  We purchased the maple butcher block countertops from Lumber Liquidators (super cheap!) and I finished them myself with Behlen Salad Bowl Finish.  It has a slight shine and is food safe.  Having the ability to roll out pizza dough or pie crust on the counter was an important feature for me.  The light fixture is from Pottery Barn and goes well with Edison's Octopus nearby.  The one thing I like the least is the Delta faucet. It looks really cool but honestly I hate it.  I'm always accidentally pushing the buttons on the front and drenching myself with the sprayer! I'll get used to it.

Ruling over the sink is a metal rooster.  He looks like he belongs on top of an old barn. Rustic and red, he swivels around on his perch. He is absolutely at home here! He actually belongs to my mom but is being held ransom.  The price? His twin.  Besides, he told me he likes it better in my window.  She agreed to an extended stay. Thanks, Mom! 
I also keep a bucket of silverware next to the sink.  I didn't intend on keeping it there, it just happened. We had to move into the house 6 weeks before it was ready.  (old house sold + new house not done = unforgetable experience of camping out in garage) There were no cabinets & appliances.  Consequently, fast food was our friend!  The flatware found its place in the bucket to use with paper plates and it just stayed there.  Truly, it is very handy and if silverware should be anything, shouldn't it be handy?  No sorting, just throw it in the bucket.  This farmhouse is casual, people, just grab what you need and let's eat.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sunflowers in a Trough

Yes, that is an old feed trough.  Some friends loaned it to us to use as a brooder for our baby chicks.  It doesn't hold water anymore and they didn't want it back so I had to find a use for it.  I saw a picture of a round trough used as a fish pond in a farmhouse garden.  But again, mine didn't hold water.  What to do?  I decided it could make a good planter in the center of my flower garden.  It's big - 5 ft long.  And it needed to be partially buried in the ground so it wouldn't be so tall.  So here we go boys, start digging!  They looked at me as if I was crazy and shoveled away.  It's handy to have 3 boys around.  Two bags of potting soil and a packet of 18-20 inch sunflowers and there you go.  It could turn out to be super cute and it could be disasterous.  We will have to wait and see.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Shoveling Poo

Yesterday afternoon I cleaned out the chicken coop for the first time.  Wow, what a mess!  I donned a dust mask and gloves and shoveled away.  It was a nasty job that I suppose I will become accustom to. But being the first time, I thought Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs should have been helping me.  While filling 3 large trash bags of poopie pine shavings, I wondered, "Why in the world don't we have a compost bin?"  I also wondered, "Do I really love these chicken?"  The answer came last night when I went to lock them up.  My favorite pullet, Elizabeth, heard my voice and came out to see me.  She's a pretty Americana with blue legs promising to lay blue eggs someday.  I picked her up and went over to sit in an adirondack chair and look at the fading sun.  She sat in my lap and then followed me back to the hen house a while later.  As she hopped up on the ramp and went in, I knew that shoveling poo was worth it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ikea Kitchen Storage

I love Ikea kitchen storage!  We have a very traditional farmhouse kitchen with white shaker cabinets and butcher block countertops (from Lumber Liquidators, by the way) but to add a bit of contemporary to the room, Ikea did the trick.  All of my common utensils are hanging at arms length.  The magnetic knife bar is great!  I have cake decorating tips and mini cookie cutters in the round compartments.  They are magnetic too.  On one wall we have a pine cabinet with a painted black top.  We wanted it too look like a piece of furniture.  It kind of does.  But what I really like is the Ikea metal shelving above it.  It is really handy to have bowls and platters right there to grab when it's time to serve.  I bought all of these on Ebay from a lady that will go to the store and send you whatever you want.  Love her for that!  Love Ikea kitchen storage too!  Don't you?

Gaggle of Goslings

Even though we technically live in the city and houses are all around us, the view in the backyard makes us feel like we are truly in the country.  We don't own the pond and we aren't allowed to fish it, but we are blessed with a beautiful view.  This spring it has been so nice to watch our Canadian Goose couple raise their precious gaggle of geese. We don't see them for days and then they are back again showing us something new they have learned.  Recently, they were having a lesson in skimming across the top of the water.  So cute and clumbsy!  Our golden retrievers, Scout & Sadie, would never let them onto our property and I'm sure Mom & Dad Goose would never try it with their sweet cargo in tow.  Never the less, a gaggle of geese is a joy to watch even from the other side of the fence.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Bowlful of Berries

Don't you just love fresh picked strawberries?  It is still early but the strawberries I planted last year are paying off.  Today I picked a bowlful.  Ok, it's a small bowl but still it's rewarding.  They are growing so fast now that I think I will have to move some to another bed.  More strawberries, that would be terrible!  Maybe the sad blueberries (in the background) will perk up if their territory is taken over. 
The clematis in the center is finally peaking it's head up in the center of the patch. I do hope it doesn't get choked out.  I think the purple flowers will look pretty there.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

6 Lessons of Painting a Blackberry Fence

One thing I have learned is that there is a never ending list of "to dos" on a farm.  Painting the blackberry fence has been at the top of my list for about a month.  I have been putting it off but I decided today was the day to get it done.  It's not big but after painting the entire house, I haven't been looking forward to picking up a brush to paint anything.  

Here are 6 lessons I learned about painting a blackberry fence:
1.  Paint the fence before the blackberries grow up on it.
2.  Don't let your husband weed eat around the fence until it is dry.
     Grass and wet paint don't mix!
3.  Don't shower first.  Do that after.
4.  Pick a day when the wind is not blowing 30 mph.
     (If you must paint in the wind, paint with your back to the wind)
5.  Don't paint the fence at all.
6.  Forget the fence!  Plant the blackberries where they have room
     to run like God intended.

Disclaimer: Not all white blooms are what they appear to be.  Some are painted on.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Interior Barn Doors

All of the interior doors in our farmhouse (except for the pantry) are barn doors.  Really they are 7 foot solid core door panels without holes.  We choose 5 panel because they looked old fashioned.  We purchased galvanized barn door railing at Tractor Supply and the hardware off of Ebay.  They attach on a trim board mounted over the door opening and slide freely back and forth.  There are stops at the bottom so they don't open too far and rollers keep them from swinging back and forth away from the opening. 

Then came the fun part, choosing hardware.  Knobs were out of the question. So what do you put on them?  We saw a picture in the book, The Farmhouse by Jean Larson that had exactly what we wanted but what was it?  Finally, after days of searching the internet, we found them.  Replacement leather handles for antique trunks.  They were handmade and only $12/set!  The man thought I was a total hick for putting barn doors in the house!  Maybe I am, but we love them.  The inside was even more challenging.  You want the door close to the wall when it closes and still you need a way to open it from the inside.  The leather handles wouldn't work on both sides.  Then we found these ... door knob plates from Rejuvenation.  The holes are just big enough to put your finger in to slide the door open and they were only 1/2" thick.  Perfect!
This is what the doors look from the inside.  We chose not to frame out the openings, rather we had them sheetrocked and textured.  The trim wraps around so it is continuous through the house.
We do have to keep the track oiled so it doesn't make noise and we left the locks off, but the interior barn doors were a perfect fit for our contemporary farmhouse.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pemberley Chicken Coop

Welcome to Pemberley! 

11 weeks ago our chicks arrived by mail.  They were so cute and warm and fuzzy.  And boy, have they grown fast.  We finished their new home a few weeks ago and now have the fence around it installed and painted.  My husband designed it and we built it together. It was a lot of work building it at his shop and we had to rent a crane to move it.  It will probably be here 100 years from now.  The style goes with the house so I love that!  The chickens seem to be happy with it.  That is the true testament to our success.  The plans and other pictures are on if you want to see how we put it together.  I'm glad we are finished with it. Now we are sitting back and letting them be our evening entertainment.

One feature that was not a success was the dust bath.  Chickens like to roll around in the dirt to clean their feathers and I heard (on Backyard Chickens) that they like sand.  So, I bought a pan at Tractor Supply and some sand at Home Depot and dug a hole in their yard.  They watched curiously the whole time. Then, I stood back, proud of my work, and they began dust bathing in the fresh dirt that I had scattered around it.  I haven't seen one chicken in the pan except to use it as a litter box!  Oh well, that is farming for you.  Some things work, others don't.

                    Silly chickens, get in the pan!

Two of my buff rocks when they were a few weeks old.
The blue house in the background is my in-laws. They live with us at Rockin' S-Squared Farm. They love having grandkids right next door.

Kitchen Cuts

School is out and the days are getting warmer and with that comes shorter hair.  The boys pester me to cut their hair when it gets hot and I often put it off.  But the truth is... I enjoy it.  It is one of the only times now that they will sit still and let me touch them. I have always given them haircuts, outside sometimes but mostly in the kitchen.  They sit on a stool and I get to play beauty shop.  Without girls in the house, that is a special treat.  Mostly, I enjoy it because it reminds me of when they were little and would get a sucker or a piece of gum to sit still and end up with hair covered candy.  Not that they cared!  They are boys, they will put anything in their mouths!  I do hope that when they are grown they will come home and ask for a kitchen cut.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Edison's Octopus

Our dining room light is, well, something else.  People come in and they either love it or hate it.  We think it has an old fashioned look but looks contemporary too.  That makes it a perfect fit.  When my husband first showed it to me in the Pottery Barn catalog, I wasn't sure.  I wasn't even sure when I opened the box.  But he was positive about it and he has great taste, so I went with it.  Then we hung it up and turned on all the lights and it was amazing!  It is alot of wattage (sorry, no fluoresent here) but those bare bulbs are just brilliant.  Our kids call it Edison's Octopus.  I call it "good call, Honey."

FYI: Our 13 yr. old son, Jonah, took the diagonal pic.  He has quite an artful eye.

Crazy Cardinal

For three days now, we have had a crazy male cardinal trying to fly into our doors and windows.  I don't know what he is doing!  Morning noon and night he is out there beating his beak against the glass.  I guess he is fighting off his own reflection but his lady sitting at home on the nest, no doubt, is probably wondering where he is!  He is pretty but enough is enough!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Growing garden

Our Oklahoma storm season is here and with it comes lots of rain usually in an all out down pour with high winds and occasional tornados.
This week the storms have been frequent and more are expected this afternoon.  However, the rain is good for a growing garden so I am thankful for it despite the fact that we have run to the storm shelter twice this week.  I just took a stroll through the newly built flower garden that we built next to the garage.  There is baby lettuce sprouting up which promises to be tasty.  And the Gaillardia, that I thought was going to die, has never looked better.  The seven Knockout Roses are in full bloom too.  I do love springtime because it makes my garden grow!

My favorite - a clawfoot tub


Our house isn't grand but if there is one place that we spent extra money, it was in our master bath. After 19 years of having a bathroom about the size of a hall closet, both my hubby and I had a long wish list for this room.  Mine was, of course, a clawfoot tub fit for a queen!  We considered refinished ones and new ones. Finding that they were very expensive, we almost gave up the idea because of the budget.  And then we found  This new cast iron clawfoot tub was delivered motor frieght.  I was so nervous that is wouldn't be what I wanted.  I mean, what do you do with a 1,000 lb., $1,000 tub that you don't like!  It turned out to be beautiful and I absolutely love it!  It was pre-drilled for the faucet and drain and finished out with black paint and chrome ball & claw feet.  It is an absolute dream of a tub!

And then there is my husband's favorite - a huge shower with five (yes, five) showerheads. We still wanted that old farmhouse tile look and thought the black & white was classic, so we went with ceramic subway tile with black grout.  White octogon is on the floor and we mixed in some black squares to give it some pattern.  Black granite is on the bench.  After all that we decided we didn't want to put glass doors on the front, so we went with some simple black curtains.  It is a good thing that we have a tankless hot water heater to deliver and endless supply!  The funny thing about a shower like this is that you don't have to turn around but you find yourself doing it anyway out of habit.

And for the vanity area we decided on an open concept.  We actually don't have any built-ins in our bathrooms at all.  The old bathrooms didn't, so why not?  Our trim guy made the vanity and I finished it with multiple coats of polyurethane. We added Kohler sinks and Brizo Trevi Cross wall mount faucets. Banana leaf baskets from Target hold all our stuff with more storage around the corner in an antique armoire.  All the fixtures are Pottery Barn.  Sometimes you just have to get it at PB to get the look.  Anyway, it turned out to be the bathroom of our dreams, but my favorite feature is still the clawfoot tub!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Our journey began

Last year at this very time, we decided to build a farmhouse on land that we owned. It was a long road to get to that point. We had been working with an architect designing a typical house and talking with builders, when we decided we were not building what we really wanted. We dreamed of lots of character, small & simple living, old fashioned charm. What we wanted was a farmhouse! You know, the kind of place that has a wide front porch with rocking chairs that just invite you up to sit a while. So... we pitched the plans, gave the builders the boot, and started it ourselves. What came next was a 6 month whirlwind! Never did we imagine it would be so difficult and never did we imagine that it would be so worth it! People have been amazed that it took 5 1/2 months and that we contracted it ourselves. It also cost around $90/sq. ft. without the land. The builders and banks said it wasn't possible to do either. But anything is possible if you are building dreams and your not afraid to jump in there and do it yourself if you have to. What we ended up with is a quaint 2,014 sq. ft., old fashioned farmhouse with contemporary flairs. The Daily Oklahoman, our local newspaper, called it "a not-so-big masterpiece". I don't know that it is a masterpiece - we just call it home.
So, throughout my postings you will find features of our house, some classic and some very different. And along with that, I will share how life in a little red farmhouse is transforming our lives.


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