Sunday, December 24, 2017

Off Grid Water….Abbynormals Life without a water heater for 6 years.

Shock and disgust…the look on the realtors face when we told her that we have not had a water heater for 6 years! I guess if you don’t have a hot running shower you are dirty or uncivilized…well at least that was what the look on her face said.

I believe the water heater was invented around the mid 1800’s…..So what did people do before that? I suppose they were just dirty. Or, they heated their water on their wood stoves and took baths like us.

Well, for the last 6 years that is what we have been doing. We call them bucket baths. It wasn’t our original plan.

When we bought our farm in the woods all the water lines had been disconnected. There was no well on the property and we were 35+ minutes to the nearest “city” for city water. We had just moved in and it was winter and we had no water to the house.

The first 6 weeks we carried buckets of rainwater into the house for bathing, washing dishes and flushing toilets.
During this time we hunted for clues on what the past owner did for running water. There were two large water tanks up the hill behind the house, but no water lines going into them. Did they use the spring, the creek or both?? In the end we ran lines from the spring into the two large water holding tanks that thankfully were already plumbed to the house.

We now had gravity fed cold water in the house! We heated water on the kitchen stove and used this to wash dishes and to take bucket baths. In the winter time there was always a large pot or two on the wood stove ready for use.

That first summer we replaced our roof with a metal one and added rainwater collection to our water storage. This time we plumbed an old fashioned style hand pump into the kitchen to bring the rain water inside.

The grandkids loved taking turns pumping the water! And…my hair loved being washed with rainwater, it grew fast like wild weeds!

We talked occasionally of putting in a water heater, but we had grown use to this lifestyle. It wasn’t that hard. We kept a 5 gallon bucket in the bathroom to fill with warm water from the stove at bath time. Then you just took a large cup and doused yourself with warm water, soaped up, then rinsed off. That easy. Kind of like 1800’s or before.

One other reason we decided against the “water heater” was missions. We knew someday we were going to go into some type of fulltime ministry, somewhere, and we wanted to be ready for any environment.

During these 6 years we have learned not take things for granted. Don’t waste water, wood, food, and time.

The farm is on the market now, and to make it more sellable we added a propane water heater. Has it been nice having hot showers? or instant hot water for dishes? It has been a treat. But, I know that I will truly miss the old ways that I have grown to love.

Friday, September 8, 2017

 ~~Abbynormal Turns the Page~~

As far back as I can remember when thinking about my future… always had something to do with living in the country or woods. It was my life dream. (See my first blog “Abbynormal Peace”) It was a big part of what Linda, my best friend in junior high and I talked about. We were going to be roommates and live on the little farm I was raised on in Oregon. We were going to have horses and goats and chickens, and, and, and….
Tick Tock....

Then later on in high school I thought more about becoming a hermit, living in the woods alone and studying wildlife.

Tick Tock....

This desire to live in the country showed up in how I raised my children, how we bought a little house on a small piece of land surrounded by the city, and we had a couple of horses and raised farm animals. (See my blog “Abbynormal Family Farm”)

Tick Tock, Tick Tock...

Yet, there is something that never stops moving forward, tick is called TIME, my children grew up, one moved to Hawaii another to Alaska, and some to the other side of town. I was alone in my house in the city and I really wanted to be back in the country. My kids encouraged me to JUST GO..... part of me thought that they would follow, but they had their own lives and most had put down roots.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the desert, I miss the desert, I just don’t like the city part of Las Vegas. I was ready to move. I put my house on the market to sell, and I was going to go visit and stay with family until I found a new home.  Then my sister told me about a Christian online dating site, I decided that I would give it a try for two weeks. Just two weeks!
Tick Tock...

My profile write up was harsh and to the point of who I was and what I was looking for and not looking for!

A man from Oregon found me, he seemed to have the same life dream that I had. We talked, and then he flew to Las Vegas to meet me, then 5 months later we got married at my moms place in AZ.
Tick Tock...

I told my friends at “Dancing with the Seniors” good-bye and that I was a mail-order bride,  hahahahaha they were old, they understood.  Then when the whirlwind settled I was in NW Oregon married and living in an apartment.
Tick Tock, Tick Tock...

We spent his days off from the job hiking along the ocean trails and gathering driftwood and rocks.
In the evenings we read the Bible, other Christian books and we rented video biographies of the lives of many Christians from the past. After a few months of this routine and with our apt garage getting pretty full of driftwood and rocks we felt it was time to start house hunting. With both of us having the same life dream we looked for a home in the country.
Tick Tock...

After much hunting we found a very-in-need-of-work-house on 24 acres with a year round creek. The price was right. We were bored and jumped right into all the cleanup and repairs. UG. The past owner must had been a hoarder...there was so much junk to take to the dump! What were we thinking!!!
Tick Tock...

During that time we also came across a Christian video series called “Gods Generals” . We would rent one at a time to watch, then look up more information about each person covered in the series. If you are a Christian you will understand what I am about to share. Sometimes something happens and you feel a burning desire within your Spirit and you just know, feel, that something is the truth. We were watching another “Gods Generals” when this happened. This one was about John G. Lake.

He had been in the Portland area about 100 years ago. Unlike many of the “Generals” that when they died, so did their ministries, yet, John G. Lake actually trained people and his ministry is still going on today in Texas. We watched, we read, we prayed, we found truths that we had never heard before! Our eyes were opened and everything that seemed so important before, land, solitude, farming… became second. I felt like I was born-again, again. I also felt like I had wasted so many years hunting for paradise on earth.  What an elusion that had been! We connected with the John G. Lake Ministries in TX, we ordered books and CD’s, we studied, we had found truth!  
T   I   C   K      T   O  C   K . . .

But, we also had a broken down farm that still needed a lot of work. So we worked hard, replaced two roofs (rooves), built animal barns, fences, remodeled the kitchen and bathrooms... we were tired but we had a new focus, a new timeline, a new life dream.
Tick Tock...
Daniel was close to early retirement, so this became our deadline. We wanted to go, just as Jesus said “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”  God has put a love for people into my heart that had never been there before and I wonder how I could have ever thought to be a hermit. God had never told us to try and find paradise on earth or gather up treasures while here. Jesus said, if you have two tunics, give to one in need, not have a closet full of tunics.... not that we can't have homes, He also said as you go, which could also mean while at work or in the store if you see a need take care of it. Think about it.....

Tick Tock...

So, here we are at our deadline…almost 6 years working on the farm, it has at times been joyful and other times very hard. I have struggled with loosing my focus, and at times thinking my new life dream was never going to happen even though we were right on schedule…But, patience’s is one of God’s virtues. As a newly married couple the extra time has been good, allowing us to build more of a foundation and work through our differences. It was also fun having the kids and grandkids visit the farm and help with the animals or just hold a soft bunny. The hardest part of my move was not seeing the kids as much.....they were my biggest encourager's with moving, yet none of us thought through the missing of family times. I have lost many tears and hours of sleep over that one.  Tick Tock....

I have learned a lot on our farm, like gathering wild plants for food, raising goats, pigs, chickens and rabbits for meat and tanning hides.
Life skills that I can teach to others if needed. One night I was laying in bed, not able to sleep, so I started counting rabbits not sheep, 56...63.…72.…84.….92.…92! I had 92 rabbits in my Rabbitry…Hahahahaha I knew I had a few but not 92.
One will never be low on meat if they raise rabbits! And YES, they do taste just like chicken!

So all the work on the farm is done, and it is on the market!    

 Our new little “home” on wheels is ready to go.
We have been selling stuff, then more stuff. Packing and giving things away. We will travel around first and spend time with family before heading off to Texas.

We may not be the most qualified people,
but we are available and we are ready to go! Here am I...send me Lord.

Lets turn this page and start a new chapter!

Tick Tock Tick Tock....

Friday, December 16, 2016

An Abbynormal Goodbye

Goodbyes are hard to say. Not getting to say goodbye is even harder...
Werner's 75th Birthday Hike

For the last month or two I have felt the need to write to an old friend of mine to thank him for being so kind to me and my kids and he needed to know about the love of Jesus. He needed to know! I had felt it in my knower, you know what I mean. I had put it off, I knew he had vision issues and I had been concerned that he would not be able to read my email or letter. But, I just found that I had his number and I didn’t remember that I had his number until it was to late. I laid in bed last night and cried because I missed an opportunity to tell him how much I appreciated all he had done for us. I know so little about him and his life because I was so busy with my own…

A gift from Werner
I first noticed him back when I was a junior in high school. It was the first big race of the season, the UNLV Cross Country Invitational. He was standing by the entrance to the track near where the race ended. I remember him standing there as I ran past, he wore a funny little hat like the one Gilligan wore on Gilligan’s Island. He spoke encouragement to me with his strange accent. (later I found out that he was Werner Hellmuth from Germany) He said with his fist tight…you can do it…you can do it…and I did, I won by 3-4 seconds. I went on to be undefeated that season and set 11 course records and I remember Werner being at a most of my races. Cheering for me! I saw him at the track club races on Saturdays also. He was always there…in his hat… cheering for me with that German accent.

Then life happened. I grew up, married and had kids, lots of kids, five. I trained off and on between kids but nothing serious. Then in my late 30’s I started training hard again. I sign up for a Mountain trail race and when I climbed inside the shuttle bus I saw an old man in a Gilligan hat sitting there. It was Werner, still running, looking the same as I had remembered him 20 years ago! We talked and I told him that one of my daughters was in high school cross country. He started coming to her races and cheering her on…

Taking photos of flowers.
On Aug. 17, 2001 I got the privilege to join Werner, along with two other ladies, Ernie and Liz on a 20 mile round trip hike to the top of Mount Charleston Peak, 11,916 feet, the highest mountain in the Spring Mountains in NV, to celebrate his 70th birthday! At the top we surprised him with a cupcake that we lit up with a candle. I remember we all signed the Peak journal with regards to Werner’s 70th birthday.

 For his 75th birthday we hike up the Bristlecone trail. He was getting slower, older…

I never learned much about Werner, he was from Germany and went back to visit friends and family often and would send me a postcard. He was never married, he said no woman ever wanted him. That seemed sad to me. Yet he was such a blessing to me and my family.
A Birthday Gift for Natasha from Werner.

 Later as a single mom he took my daughter to the Doctor when I didn’t have insurance and he even gave her his car when she was in college when her old one died. He became like a grandpa and we had him over for dinner and some holidays. When my son started running he even went to a couple of his races.
But, I was busy, too busy with life, work, and survival. Chronic running injuries forced my retirement from running and track club events, kids moved out or left for college. Then I moved out of state.

Postcards from Germany
We stayed in touch through emails and snail mail, mostly just stuff about how the kids are doing. Although as his eyes got bad even those got far between. I have had this urge to write him for a while. I put if off, it was on my check list, then moved to the next check list, then moved again. The Holy Spirit had laid it on my heart to let Werner know about how much Jesus loved him….and how thankful I was for all he did for me and my family….I knew in my knower that I needed to tell him….God knew what Werner was going through and the Holy Spirit was trying to get my attention. Werner knew I was a Christian. But, I had been to busy to ask him what he believed. Always afraid of offending… I understand different now. I know I may be the only believer that some may meet, I have to tell them of God’s love, forgiveness and of Jesus. I have to… even if they reject me!
This hurts, really bad!  Crying…I am sorry, Werner, for that last letter or call from me that you didn’t get. Maybe you would still be here... I am sorry God, that I didn’t recognize your promptings to write and tell him sooner…I was suppose to be there for him.
We have to slow down and remember that people are what really matters, not our stuff or our busy schedule. This life here is short, make that call, write that letter, tell that person how much they have blessed you before it is to late. Eternity is along time to be separated from the ones you love and care about.
RIP...Werner Hellmuth Aug. 17, 1931- Dec. 14, 2016.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Deer and Coyote print next to each other.

An Abbynormal love for... Prints in Sand and Snow

I have this "thing" for finding prints. Maybe it's the Native American in me that is found in both sides of my family. Santee Sioux on my fathers side and Cherokee on my mothers. It could just be that I like knowing what's out "there" at night while I sleep.  Finding prints is like finding cool rocks, but you can't put them in your pocket and take them home with you. But, you can take photos.

When I lived in the desert I loved to go out the morning after a wind storm to see all the fresh critter prints from the night before. I am always amazed at what find! 
Javelina pig tracks in sand. AZ.
AZ Desert Millipede "enlarged"
Many times there would be an area where many different types of tracks would crisscross like a super highway.

A Super Highway of rodent and snake prints!
Once I even found what looked like a battlefield between a rodent and a snake! Who won I will never know...

Then I moved to the Pacific Northwest....

Nice size coyote.
 I now no longer have sand everywhere at my feet. But when we get snow, even a light amount I can go out and get my print fix.

Raccoon prints.
This morning I found many, many prints of raccoons all around our house.

Makes me very glad that our chicken coop is secure and that the large fir tree the peacocks sleep in at night is raccoon proof! Although I know that coons can be a bother I sure love their little hand prints in the snow. 
Deer and Coyote prints. Deer hoof drag on left.
I also found many coyote prints, most of these seemed to follow the same trails as the deer. 

One thing that I noticed about the coyote prints was that they must step within their own prints with their alternating paws, for their trail looks like they only have two legs, unlike deer that leave a trail two prints wide. hmmmm This is very interesting to me. 
Blood on the trail.
More blood on the trail! Coyote against rodent, coyote won.

Raccoon visitor to our back door.

I found a few "other" types of prints while I was out-and-about this AM.

A size 7 bare Shefoot track.

An antler track. hahaha

  Honda CRX HF tracks.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Abbynormals Family Farm...
Kelly with one of our pet mini goats.

When my kids were younger we lived on a little pocket of "country" in the middle of the city. An oasis in the desert! Along with our home schooling I wanted to give my kids the farm life experience. It ended up more like a petting zoo that benefited a few church plays and harvest festivals. Only a small amount of our “farming” made it to the table. Once it was on the table it was even harder to get it off the plate and into their mouths.
Tamara with one of our hens

Chicken eggs were easy. Duck eggs, no way.  Later somehow, we found a sheep ranch in Utah that gave away newborn lambs for free! This old farmer who was near 90 years old had taken over running the ranch as a young man after his father died. His daughter told us that he had never taken a vacation from the ranch! Every year at lambing time, some of the ewes would have triplets. This old farmer had a soft heart and desired that none should perish. He made sure all the newborn lambs had received some colostrum milk from their mothers for their immunities before he gave any away, usually the smallest of the trio. But, they were free. One trip we came back with 16 baby lambs! We had a lot of bottle feeding to do. We picked out the ones we wanted to keep, A couple didn’t make it, and we sold the rest. Selling some helped pay for the powered lambs milk. The bottle feeding was fun and the kids really liked this part. We didn't crop their tails and when you bottle fed them they would wag their tails the whole time. It was so cute!
Daniel and Tamara

Those little lambs would run and leap and follow my kids around. When they became sheep they became an even bigger part of the kids play time. Years later they confessed to giving their youngest sister, Kelly, rides on the back of the sheep.
Christa and Tamara
Those sheep were a lot of fun….until they got bigger and kept getting out of their pen in the middle of a downpour! I didn’t like that part. When the end was near we hauled them to a small town butcher shop about an hours drive away and then picked them up about 2 weeks later frozen and wrapped in white butcher paper. That first meal was slow at first, but when the kids tasted how good those lamb chops were  their plates were emptied and refilled! There was throughout the course of dinner several baa’s and naa sounds made. But, that didn’t stop the chewing. Hahaha

Later on we tried raising rabbits for meat. The raising part the kids enjoyed. Butchering, well, I could clean, but I could not kill anything. My best friend, Kate and her husband came over to help with the butchering process. Having the three of us there made the work fast. They went home with their payment share of rabbit meat and mine went into the frig or freezer. I will say this, that after a rabbit is skinned it looked just like the cat we had dissected in high school. Hmm…The eating part…..well? I used the meat just like I would use chicken, but the kids just couldn’t eat it. I think in the end I gave most of it away.

Natasha, Porkchop, and me
We raised potbellied pigs also. For pets, not food. Our favorite pig was named "Porkchop", she was such a fun piggy! If you scratched her side she would lay down so you would scratch her belly. She got along pretty good with our dogs, except at feeding time, then she made a pig of herself!

PorkChop and Tamara

She got BIG!

I raised Basset Hounds for awhile. They were like living cartoons, such silly looking and sounding dogs. I first fell in love with the Basset Hound, Lafayette, from the cartoon "The Aristocats".

Peppermint Patty, she loved carrots.
Some of Peppermint Patty's Puppies


No "farm" would be complete if it didn't have a horse on it. We bought Sassy, a 3/4 Registered Arabian mare. She was 24 when we got here. Later we found out that she had been owned by a lady from our church back when Sassy was 3 years old. She competed in Jr. jumping with her for several years. They won many awards. She was a lot of fun for us even in her senior years. She never stood still, one always felt like you were in a parade, she would pace in place whenever anyone was on her back. Once I even got to ride her in one of our church plays. She did great! Later she developed arthritis in her front fetlock's, most likely from years of jumping. When she was no longer safe to ride we gave her to a farm for retirement.   

Curly Sioux and Patches
Later on we tried our hand at raising some young fillies. We chose the breed Bashkir Curlies, because they were known to have a hypoallergenic coat. In the winter their coat looked like lambs wool. You could save it and knit with it. Christa saved all her own money to buy her own. She owned the Black and White colt. She named him Curly Sioux, mine was named Patches.

Patches with her curls.

It was a lot of fun, our little piece of country in the middle of a city. Some of my best memories are from this stage of my life raising kids and animals together!  The story about the turkeys will have to come later...
Farm Boy Daniel-Son