Monday, June 6, 2016

The Beginning of The Coop

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've spent a lot of years dreaming about my hobby farm. It's been an idea in my head, without coming to fruition for a long time. But at some point in life, if you want to achieve your goals and dreams, you have to stop thinking about them and start acting on them. My hobby farm will forever be a dream in my head if I don't act on it, so I decided to change that this weekend.

The goats will indeed have to wait until 2017 to come to the farm, as their space is still an overgrown pasture behind the garden, and I don't have the cash saved up for the investment required to build a sturdy fence and shelter yet! I'm saving as much as I can though, and that project is slated for October once the weather cools down.

However, the chickens are looking like another story! Saturday morning, after Hendrix's soccer game, we headed to Lowe's and came home with lumber!

I dug hole posts (by hand, thankyouverymuch), sunk my corner posts, then attached the cross boards to finish with the (quite) rudimentary frame for the coop! That took all afternoon on Saturday.

Sunday, after thinking and thinking of how I could keep predators out without having to sink hardware cloth two feet into a trench in the ground, I came up with a plan that I'm hoping is effective in it's duty. We dug the whole 90 square feet of the coop/run space down about 6 inches, laid down a double layer of chicken wire, then buried it again with the dirt. We made sure the chicken wire came all the way up the sides of the dug out space to completely seal off the ground under the chickens. This way, if a fox decides to dig under the pen, they'll come up on chicken wire, which will stop them from having a chicken dinner.

It was a weekend of a lot of physical labor, but also a lot of pride! I'm happy with what we have so far. Matt and I both get paid bi-weekly now, so once I can evaluate where we stand this coming weekend, I'd like to go back to Lowe's and put the floor on the coop, as well as frame out the rest of the run.

(Side Note: Matt and I recently paid off all of our credit card debt, and my one big, no-exception rule to all of this is that we finance nothing and pay cash for everything. We worked hard for three years to pay off this debt, and I'm NOT going back to that place EVER AGAIN! That being said, this whole thing is going to come together slowly, but that's why we're starting now for the farm to be in full swing in 2017!)

Fun Side Story: We had a no-electronics or TV rule yesterday. (Actually, in the last 7 days, the kids have had 2 hours of electronics time. Love it.) As a result, they helped us dig and replace dirt. I told Hendrix that he could use his money and purchase a chicken when it came time, and that it could be his responsibility. He got so excited, it made my heart super happy. Then, Jameson wanted his own chicken as well, of course. I agreed.

Hendrix was helping like a little champ, so I decided he'd earned his chicken. He - of course - went to gloat about that in his brother's presence, so I told Jameson he had to work and earn his chicken. So the rest of the day, no matter what he did, he'd end with "Did I earn my chicken, mommy?" Haha! It was quite entertaining.

Second entertaining side story. The dog took off running to the south side of the garden and came walking back with a dead possum in his mouth - or so we thought. The darn thing was playing dead! It got up and tried to escape, and the dog ran after it, so it started playing dead again. We all went inside, and Hendrix stayed outside to watch it finally get up and run off. Bleck.

What did you get up to this weekend?

Do you have a busy week planned?
(This is Hendrix last week of school - finally!)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Our Next Adventure

If you're reading this, it means you follow my blog - THANK YOU! I have decided to go on a bit of a social media fast (other than this blog), so this link hasn't been shared anywhere.

Facebook posts have been making me legitimately angry (as in heart rate increases and I find myself gritting my teeth or clenching my fists) for a while, and I've become deeply disappointed in several people that I know and I respected (note past tense), so I've decided to just avoid social media all together for a time. It'll do me much good.

Now, down to business.
Guess what? We're NOT moving!

Hahaha! The last few "next adventures" have included a move - 1/2 way across the country on more than one occasion, and I'm ecstatic to report that our next adventure will not include packing boxes, driving a moving truck, or house hunting. Yay!

A bit of history - For several years now, the prospect of going off grid has looked great to me. Each passing year, watching the deterioration of humanity, makes it look a little more awesome.

We are not going off the grid at this point in our lives, though I refuse to say that will never happen. But we are going to start a small hobby farm/homestead, and I couldn't be more excited! I've never been one to be scared of hard work. With hard work comes a big sense of pride. I like feeling proud. 

We are an outdoory family. Our television doesn't come on M-F, and time spent staring at screens is limited on the weekends. We're outdoors 7 days a week during warmer times of the year, and still try to be out when it's cold. We appreciate and respect animals, though I don't (and won't for a second) put the worth of an animal's life over that of a human. I feel that God put animals on the earth for us, as humans, to enjoy and benefit from, and it's a healthy and sustainable relationship.

I've spent the last few months doing a LOT of research, deciding how much money we need to save to get this dream of mine off the ground, and planning, planning, planning!

This isn't a dream that's going to happen tomorrow. I'm not a patient person, and when I want something, I generally want it now. But I'm also a planner and I hate being un-prepared, so we're hoping to get everything off the ground in mid- 2017. Here's the framework of the next 12 months:

Summer 2016:
Lots of it.
I'm currently in my second book on raising dairy goats. I started reading the books after I exhausted my online resources.
Next, I'll start researching chickens.
We finally paid off our credit card debt last month, and are building our emergency fund. All other spare pennies are going into the fund to get the farm off the ground.
I've reached out to several dairy goat breeders in the area, and I'm currently on two waiting lists.
The kids (of the human variety- lol) and I are going to visit a local dairy operation next weekend to experience it and ask questions.
I'm in contact with a backyard goat farmer in my hometown, and we will go visit that farm as well, next time we are in central Indiana.

Fall 2016:
I've got plans drawn out, and costs calculated. We'll drive the posts after the garden has been harvested this year.
I'm not going into this farm with the intention of making a living (right away, at least), but I still want to know how much it costs me, what repairs were done and when, and how much I will maybe eventually need to sell products for to break even or make a profit.

Winter 2016/2017:
I've researched and have plans worked out.
Goat shelter is 1st priority, chicken coop is 2nd. If chickens don't happen in 2017, that's ok. We can add them in 2018, or later in 2017 even.
I'll probably start building in the fall, but building a shelter will give me something to work on during the long, dull winter months.

Spring 2017:
As long as we have shelter and are ready for them.

Beyond 2017:
Those dreams are a-cookin' I assure you! :)

I invite you to follow along on this awesome adventure! I may or may not create a new website or blog dedicated solely to the farm, but that remains to be seen at this point. If that happens, I'll surely share that information!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Diabetes Family Camp 2016

Still unable to find anything similar here in Michigan, we packed up and headed to the Indianapolis area this past weekend for the Diabetes Youth Foundation of Indiana's overnight family camp.

We arrived and checked in around 1 pm on Saturday. We made our beds in our cabin, then headed to the campfire for an icebreaker! There were about 8 families in attendance with T1 kids of varying ages. As usual, Jameson was the youngest, and no one else his age was there. The next youngest T1 camper was a 7 year old girl. Still a good time though!

Saturday afternoon, after the icebreaker, we made stamped leather bracelets. The arts and crafts director purchased a bunch of belts from goodwill, cut them to the desired lengths, put snaps on the ends, and then we used stamping kits and hammers to imprint them as we wished. It was such a cool craft!

For Saturday night dinner, we had chicken parmesan, along with salad, broccoli, and angelfood cake and strawberries for dessert. They provided gluten free pasta and chicken for Jameson, with GF oreo cookies for his dessert.

After dinner, we played "Minute to Win It" games in the dining hall. It was several small challenges, done in Parents Vs. Kids style. The adults won!

Saturday night, we made S'mores at the campfire, complete with gluten free graham crackers for Jameson. We all crashed before 10 pm!

Sunday morning, we had sausage, eggs, and French toast bake with grapes. (GF French toast for Jamers). Then, we headed out to the open field for field games. Parents vs. Kids again. The kids were given a ton of advantages over the parents, and they annihilated us, but it's ok. We all had a ton of fun!

We had a picnic/cookout for lunch at the campfire - burgers, dogs, watermelon, pasta salad, GF mac n cheese, and cookies. It was very tasty! As soon as we had eaten our fill, we headed out, as we had the longest drive home out of all the campers.

We got home around 4, gathered the dirty laundry, started a load of laundry, then relaxed. We were (are) pretty pooped. 

We did find this turtle nesting in the yard Sunday evening. Super cool!

This week, we are going to get the pool up, get my plants in the garden (my zucchini plants started to BLOOM this week - in their starter cups - oops), get started extending the garden fence height, and cleaning the house - a little bit each night.

Our May has been quite busy. Matt travelled the first weekend, we had company the second weekend, we all travelled this past weekend. Our plans this coming long Memorial Day weekend are to do as little "going" as possible! Matt and his brother increased the size of our fire pit last weekend, so we need to break that in. It should be a busy week, but lead up to a very relaxing weekend.

Hope you all have a great week!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Workin' It Out: 5/8 - 5/14

I want to document my fitness again, as I'm in battle with my ridiculously slow metabolism to drop 10-15 pounds. I consider myself a very average person who adores delicious food and red wine, but who also understands that a balance exists between enjoying those things and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. 

So with that said, here's this past week's fitness accomplishments!

Sunday: Rest Day
Monday: 3.13 Mile Run
(10:45 average pace - an improvement, again!)
Tuesday: Gym - lifted Back and Biceps
30 minutes HIIT on the elliptical
Wednesday: Rest!
Thursday: Lifted shoulders and triceps
30 mins treadmill - 26 straight running minutes! 
Friday: Rest!
Saturday: lifted chest and back + 
30 mins HIIT on the treadmill

The breakfast I was loving this past week was a homemade concoction: Strawberry Banana Baked Oatmeal!

The baked oatmeal recipe is pretty basic, you just flavor it however you want.

For my basic recipe, I use 2 cups of oats, 1 large egg + 1 large egg white, and 1.5 cups of milk.
For this particular recipe, I added 1 chopped banana and about 5 large frozen strawberries, cut into small pieces. I sweetened the oatmeal with 1/2 scoop of vanilla protein powder and 2 Tbsp light brown sugar. It turned out pretty good!
(Although the picture was pretty worthless.)

I cut the 8x8 square pan of oatmeal into 9 servings, and each one works out to be
141 calories
2 grams fat
25 grams carbs
8.5 grams protein

Monday, May 9, 2016

Workin' It Out - 5/1 - 5/7

Sunday: 2.4 mile run
(2 minutes running, 1 minute walking, x10)

Monday: Lifted Legs + 30 minutes HIIT on the elliptical

Tuesday: Lifted back and biceps
20 minutes HIIT treadmill
(2 mins running, 1 minute walking)

Lifted Shoulders and Triceps
30 minutes elliptical

Thursday: 2.75 mile run

Friday: REST

(Matt was out of town, so I didn't have anyone to watch the kids so I could work out. Boo.)

I set a goal of 2 runs for the week, and I accomplished that goal!

The breakfast I was loving this week was a Brownberry Sandwich Thin with 1 large egg white, 1 slice of Kirkland (Costco) Low Sodium Bacon, and 1/2 a slice of American cheese. It works out to
175 calories
7 grams of fat
22 grams of carbs
5.5 grams of protein.


Monday, May 2, 2016

What's New with the Metz Family

I haven't posted in a while, and I feel like it's time for an update post!

In a nutshell, life just isn't too bad, my friends. :)

Last December, when it was time to look ahead to the upcoming year, I made the decision that I didn't want to continue being an angry, bitter person. The years 2012-2015 weren't exactly easy for us, and some bitterness and resentment had been slowly building up inside of me. 2015 was the hardest of those years, and I became someone that I wouldn't ever want to be around, honestly. Sarcastic, rarely smiling, always mad about something. I knew that's the person I had become, but I felt like I had every right to be that way.

But at the end of 2015, we had been in Michigan for nine months, we were settled, and I decided I didn't want to be bitter and hateful any longer. I wanted to genuinely enjoy life again.

I've spent the last four months working on myself. I've done a whole heck of a lot of personal growth, learned a lot about myself, and accepted some hard life truths. I'm not perfect (because, do we ever really stop growing or improving?), but I'm in a whole lot of a better place than I was six months ago. And it feels great!

Hendrix is almost a first grader now. He's in soccer (through AYSO), and has two really good friends from school. He often comes up to me out of nowhere and just wraps his arms around my waist and it's one of the best little parts of my life!

Jameson is still Mr. Popular in pre-school. He's a complete goofball, so I'm pretty sure everyone just loves him. I'm telling you, God gave him his quirky personality for a reason! He'll start kindergarten in the fall, and he's definitely ready.

We've been attending a church right down the road from our house for about six months now and we just love it. It's a perfect mix of traditional and contemporary. The pastor delivers some awesome sermons, and he's hilarious, so he definitely keeps you engaged.

We've got 4 camping trips on the books for this summer, and I'm so excited! (I just wish the weather would warm up and stay that way!) I'm working on wrapping all the cushions in the camper to update the 90's look a bit, and also sewing some new bunk end curtains, so I'll make sure to share that project when it's complete.

We are headed to Diabetes Camp this month. I haven't found a family camp near us so far, so we'll be heading down to the Indianapolis area. It's ok though. It was a lot of fun last year when Jameson and I went. Hendrix and Matt are joining us this year. I'm really looking forward to it!

I'm working on getting my physical health back in check, now that my emotions are in a good place again. I've gone on a couple jogs, and it's my goal in May to run at least 2x per week, and keep up with lifting weights as well. I would like to lose 15 pounds, so we'll see how that goes!

Other than that, we've just been doing our thing in our little corner of West Michigan. This summer is going to be awesome, and life is good.

I hope you're all doing well!

We finally made it to the beach for the first time on Easter Sunday, and once again after that. It's breathtaking.

Hendrix had his piece of art submitted in a Caledonia Art Day show at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. He was so proud.

Mohawks are cool these days.

Our pooch has a favorite stuffed animal (in the background). Also, we re-mulched the front beds and they look great! More work to come on the next dry weekend.

Make this week a fantastic one!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter Weekend 2016

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus. I know I sure don't deserve for Him to have given his life for me so that I can spend eternity in heaven, but that's a sacred gift that I receive, whether I deserve it or not. How's that for true love?

We were blessed with a very beautiful weather weekend!

We took our camper to the RV dealership Saturday morning to get it looked at and "tuned-up" for spring. I'm telling you, we're packing up and hauling out at the very first sign of a warm-ish and dry weekend!

Saturday afternoon, we took the boys to the easter egg hunt put on by our church. They had the kids split up into age groups. Hendrix's group was by far the largest, and those kids were fierce. He only came away with four eggs, but he wasn't too dejected. Jameson got about 14, I think.

We went back home after the hunt and played and relaxed.

Sunday morning, Matt had to fly out to Minneapolis for the week for work. He is helping bring on a small set of stores our company has acquired. So he didn't get to go to Easter service with us. So the kids and I went. It was so packed, in true Easter fashion, but that's ok.

The Easter Bunny brought kites for the kids, so after church, we had a quick lunch, then hopped in the car and drove about 45 minutes west to a secluded beach on Lake Michigan. It took us 51 weeks of living in Michigan, but we finally got to the beach!

 My co-worker had told me about this beach that's really un-crowded. It became very obvious as to why it's not crowded after about 1 flight of stairs up the dune. Ha.

At *almost* the top of the dune, there seemed to be a section of the stairs missing. Hendrix thought they might be buried, but I'm pretty sure they just weren't there. It was probably a 40-45 degree incline. We dug our feet and hands in that dune and scaled it. I expected Jameson to whine or struggle, I'll be darned if that sweet boy didn't just jump right in and climb. He was a rockstar.

We made it to the top of the dune, then descended down the 6+ flights of stairs to the actual beach. Then we laid and gasped for breath for 10 minutes. Ha! I'm kidding, but it was quite the workout!

 Hendrix's octopus kite was really easy to get going, but Jameson's rainbow delta was a bit trickier. We flew the kites for only 20 minutes or so, then Hendrix wanted to get close to the water. Then Jameson joined. Long story short, they ended up pretty wet. Ha! They had so much fun though, and it did my heart so much good to watch them play tag with the little Lake Michigan waves.

We hung out for about an hour and a half, then started the journey back up and over the dune to the car. Going back down the wall-o-sand that we scaled up on our way there was SO much easier! You basically slid down it, and it was awesome. Hendrix was actually doing somersaults down it.
(You can imagine the amount of sand we brought into our house when we got home.)

After the kids changed clothes and we cleaned up a bit, we decorated cookies, then I made pancakes and breakfast ham steaks for dinner. After dinner, we played a card game, and we were all in bed by 8:30!

I wish Matt could have joined us at the beach, but it was such a cool experience, and I know we will be going back, as soon as we can!

I'm now in survival mode for the next four days (Matt gets back Thursday evening). Here's a little look at my week:

* Today, leaving work early for the dentist, so I have to make up that hour of time.
* I only have tomorrow, basically, to make up that hour. But I can't stay at work too late, because I have to pick up the kids when Hendrix gets off the bus so I don't have to pay for after-school care.
* Wednesday, I've got offsite training for work from 8-5. I'm normally off work at 4, so I don't have a choice but to pay for after-school care on Wednesday.
* Each night when we get home (no gym for me this week), I need to take care of all the laundry so that we have clean clothes to pack for our mini road trip this weekend. As well as the dishes and general picking up so my house doesn't look like a tornado ran through it.
* I have to get myself a shirt made for Marvel Universe, Live that I'm surprising the kids with on Thursday night. I cut the heat transfer vinyl this morning, and I can hopefully iron it on tonight.
* I have to call and follow up on our tenants' rent payment. (Yes, it's the 28th and they haven't paid rent yet. I'll just leave that right there.)
* I need to call and order Jameson a new Dexcom transmitter, because we got the "Low Battery" message on his receiver yesterday. Hopefully that doesn't cost a black market kidney.
* I also need to call and make 4th of July camping reservations. (Not an emergency, but I don't want to wait until the last minute and have everything be full!)
* Wednesday evening I need to pack the car as much as possible, since Thursday evening will be spent with Captain America, Thor, Hulk, and IronMan. (Ohmygoodness I'm excited.)

Sigh. I'm exhausted already.

BUT! It'll be worth it. We are heading to western Illinois this weekend to spend time with my mom and my grandma. It should be very enjoyable, and hopefully somewhat relaxing!

I hope you all have a great week!