Friday, August 4, 2017

Transplanting Trees

The following post has sat, uncompleted, in my draft box for about eight years. It is about transplanting trees. I had initially written out detailed instructions for proper transplantation. I had spent several hours over a span of days writing instructions, drawing diagrams that I then scanned and pasted into the post. It was going to be great. I only had a few paragraphs to finish when my computer had a hiccup and the post was gone! I was able to recover a partially completed draft, but that was it. Everything else was lost. And I was too disheartened to redo the work. I put it in my draft folder. And there it say until tonight. I hope you enjoy. Changes and additions that I am making today will be in italics.


I love fruit trees. Planting and maintaining them is one of the joys in my life. When we moved into our Yuma house, I planted several fruit trees. However, after living there a while, Jeremy began talking about adding on a family room...right were I had planted my apple trees! He told me not to worry about it, that we wouldn't be adding on for a few years, if ever.

The problem is, transplanting trees can be a tricky operation. Younger trees are easier to move and more likely to recover from the transplant. Older trees have more expansive root balls. They've also become accustomed to the ground in which they are planted. I have seen older trees that were thriving in their original location shrivel up when moved to a new location. In order to ensure their survival, we had to move the apple trees while they were still young. 

We waited until the trees had gone dormant for the winter. A tricky thing in Arizona! Often, apple trees never fully go dormant in our warm weather. 

Picture of the smaller apple tree. I mistakenly watered this tree a day or two before we moved it. I thought it would make the ground easier to maneuver. I was correct. BUT it also made the rootball heavier! All that water added a lot of weight to the rootball.

Benjamin (age 5/6?) and Grant (age 2?). They are now 13 yr & 10 yr respectively.

Picture of the larger apple tree. To safely transplant the rootball, first you dig a donut our around the rootball. Then you can get your shovel under it while keeping the rootball intact.

Keeping the rootball intact. This thing weighed several hundred pounds.

To give perspective, when we removed the tree with its rootball Benjamin and some of our neighbors got in the hole. It is a big hole!

The rootball was so heavy and awkward to manuever. We called a bunch of our neighbors to come and help us. In order to keep the rootball intact, I wrapped a blanked around and under it. Professional people use canvas to do this part. 

It took five grown men to lift the tree from the handtruck to place it in its new home in the front yard.

At this point, the neighbor in the red shirt said something along the lines of: "I can't believe it took five of us to lift that tiny tree. I feel like such a wimp." Hahaha! He's not a wimp. And neither were any of the other guys that helped us. They were all great workers. Dirt just weighs a lot!

The large apple tree in its new home, waiting to be backfilled.

Baby Grant watching Jeremy backfill around the rootball. 

There were other pictures of the trees, along with diagrams. Sadly, those were lost all those years ago. We have since sold that house. The large apple tree still stands in the yard. Its trunk is quite thick now and it produces the most lovely little yellow apples. I hope the new owners will cherish the tree as much as I did. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


My two oldest daughters are signed up for their high school's travel-abroad trip planned for Spring 2017. They are primarily responsible for paying for this trip. The trip, plus passports, will cost about $3,500.00 each! I had several boxes of chocolate leftover from a PTO fundraiser. We decided to make chocolate part of our fundraising plan. Jim, Monroe, and Beth wanted to help too. I was grateful because, in my experience, people are more likely to buy chocolate bars from cute little elementary students than from adult-sized high school students.

We've gone out a few times for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours each time. I am amazed at the generosity of my neighbors. Sure, we got several straight "No, thank you" responses. We got a few "I don't have any cash" responses. But for the most part the response was, "Of course! Wait a minute while I find some cash/change". These dear neighbors reached into their wallets. A few neighbors bought five or ten bars, depending on the bill denomination they'd found. More often they would buy only one or two bars. These neighbors were digging through their drawers and coin purses to find enough change to buy a bar. As I watched one neighbor present my child with a handful of change in exchange for one chocolate bar, I was overwhelmed by the generosity of my neighbors! 

I know that in our present culture, cash is typically not kept on hand. We rely heavily on debit and credit cards. People don't have cash or coins. And yet, these dear neighbors dug deep in their pockets and drawers to find a stray dollar bill or a few coins--Just to help a fundraising kid succeed. I probably haven't adequately explained, but I am unsure what more I could write. I am simply and deeply grateful for the gracious generosity of my neighbors.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Good-Bye to the Piano Man

We said good-bye to our Piano-Man Teacher tonight. He is a lovely man. He has worked with four of my kids for over a year. He had a talent for teaching chords, improvisations, and embellishments, in addition to the basics of piano theory and technique. He came to our house each week with such a cheerful and can-do attitude. It really was wonderful to watch the kids grow, under his tutelage, in their piano-playing skills.

But, the kids are done. While they enjoyed learning with the Piano-Man Teacher, over the last few months their hearts have not been in it. I know that I could have buttoned down and forced them to practice more. I know that I could have provided incentives for their continued participation. I am consciously choosing not to. 

Rose is in the high school choir this year. She has spent hours each day in vocal practice. She sits at the piano, not to practice the Piano Teacher's assignments, but rather to pick out the Alto part of the new choir piece she is learning. Her interests have turned from piano to voice. And I'm going to let her run with it.

Nonny is still a percussionist in the middle school band. Between that and the rigor of her school courses, she is feeling a bit strained. She still loves piano and wants to continue to progress and learn. But she's at a point where she wants to concentrate on learning individual piano pieces rote. And I can help with that! So she has also opted to forgo piano lessons.

Monroe and Joe still love piano, but after a long day of sitting at school all they want to do when they get home is run and play. Sitting for another half hour or so to practice piano has become awful for them.

The truth is, I felt kind of bad about signing them up for piano lessons in the first place. The reason...  I play piano and I have taught piano. But when I tried to teach them some basics, they would get frustrated with me and with themselves. I talked to my Mom about it years ago. My Mom is a talented pianist, but she didn't teach her own kids to play the piano. She had other people do it. Her reason...her kids (ie. me and my siblings) would get frustrated with her and with ourselves. When she first realized that, she and another piano teacher decided to swap kids. My Mom taught that gal's kids piano and that gal taught us piano. And surprise, surprise: the kids started learning the piano instead of getting into fights with their Moms.

Although I will miss the Piano-Man and the beautiful music he brought into our home, I think we'll be alright. He gave my kids the fundamentals. He encouraged them to find joy and fun in the piano, to not be afraid to make things up, and to not fall apart if you made mistakes. My kids may be done with the Piano-Man, but they are definitely not done with the piano. We are going to restart piano lessons with Mom.

Wish us luck!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

At Home Day

Nonny's surgery went well. Her septum is now straight; Her enlarged adenoids are removed; and her nasal turbinates are reduced. She was amazed when the doctor removed the packing and she could actually breathe through her nose! That only lasted for a little while. The reason: due to the surgery, she can't blow her nose and she is having some drainage & bleeding. SO...she has gauze under her nose to catch the mess.

The surgery was Tuesday. I took the day off from work to stay with her and care for her. (Except for an excursion to the School Board Meeting in the evening.) Wednesday was Veteran's Day, so everyone was off from work and school. Today, Thursday, school and work resumed, so Dad, Rose, Joe, Monroe, and Jim are gone. I was supposed to go into work today. Baby comes with me and Beth attends preschool. But...I didn't think Nonny was ready to be left alone yet. So Beth, Baby, and I stayed home with her. 

She slept until about 9:00 a.m. When she woke up and saw us still here, she was happy and relieved. She did not want to be left alone, but also didn't want me to feel like I had to stay. Goofy kid! Some of her friends' parents work. She knows that it is a big deal for parents to stay home with sick kids and that jobs can sometimes be at stake. Lucky for us, my boss's main priorities are the same as mine...Our Kids! :)  

Hubby forwarded the work phone to my cell phone. My work tasks for today are to monitor e-mails and update the business finances. Easy-peasy! I figured I'd work on those once the baby fell asleep. But while he was still awake, I thought: Since I'm home, I might as well start a load of laundry. Which took all of one minute. Then I looked at the dishwasher. It hadn't been unloaded this morning (a certain kid's chore). Usually I'd leave it for the kid to do when they got home, but our dishes are already backed up because our sink wasn't working for a few days. So I went ahead and unloaded the dishwasher, reloaded and started it, then hand-washed a load of dishes, and cleaned the sink. That took about ten minutes with Melanie's help. I also took a few minutes to pick up the kitchen and dining room floors. house is still a big mess. It is far from complete. But I can feel the difference. AND it is kind of irritating because it took hardly anytime at all AND every job I did was supposed to have been done by a kid. EXCEPT, my kids didn't do those chores because the chores were too hard or too long or I always make them do the work. The funny thing is, while I was pregnant, I was too sick and tired to follow through on the kids getting their chores done. So my house slowly got grungier. And after I had the baby I was too sleep-deprived to even notice if the house was clean. And since going to work, by the time I return home in the evenings I am so focused on getting dinner made, kids' homework complete, scriptures read, fights resolved, etc., that I haven't stood my ground and made the kids actually get their chores done. And I've been too tired to get them done myself. 

Today, staying home to care for Nonny and having my two youngest children with me, I was able to catch up on some housework while spending quality time with the kiddos. Now, my house has a long ways to go before it can be officially deemed "clean", but I can see that it's possible and I am recommitted to the priority of teaching my kids the value of Hard Work and Cleanliness!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Jumping Back In

Well, the best way for me to re-start blogging is probably to just Jump right back in and start writing!

Beth turned 3 in September. About three weeks later, she had surgery. It was a planned surgery. She had her tonsils and adenoids removed. Her tonsils were quite enlarged! She also had tubes put in her ears. The ENT told us that her one of her ears was so full of fluid that he had to get a second something-or-other to suck out the gunk that the first sucker-thingy couldn't remove. That news made me feel great. I had really been debating whether or not to go through with the surgery for a couple of months. I knew that she needed it, but at the same time...She is Just a BABY! Every time I looked at her and thought about her having general anesthesia so the ENT could do his work, I would feel awful. And it didn't help that the hospital has to go over all the bad things that could happen. At the end, I just had to grit my teeth and keep saying: This is what her body needs to function properly!

I am glad to report that she had a quick and full recovery.

Tomorrow, Nonny is having her turn with the ENT. She will have her adenoids removed, a deviated septum straightened out, and something done with the turbinates(?) in her nose. I am not a medical person, so I am not getting terms correct. Sorry about any confusion that creates.

To prepare for tomorrow's surgery, we have smoothie ingredients and popsicles in the freezer. I have ingredients for chicken veggie soup. We have lots of kleenex ready for her drippy nose. AND she has movies picked out for watching tomorrow afternoon. I don't think she'll feel good enough to actually watch the movies tomorrow, but she feels good that they are prepped and ready. :)

In other news, Joe turned twelve in October. He graduated from Primary and received the Aaronic Priesthood. It is a bit weird to think of him as a Priesthood holder, since he's still my squishy little baby boy. Whenever I tell him that he is still my little boy, he is quick to point out that he is almost as tall as me. I'm 5' 8". He is about 5' 5". I told him even if he does manage to outgrow me, I'm also going to call him my short, little boy.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Bucks Beware!

I was born and raised in a city. Not a metropolitan city like New York. My city wasn't sprawling or congested. It was just a bunch of housing developments carved out of farmland. And the city slowly grew until it reached the borders of other cities. My city grew out, not up. 

In each of my family's houses, my parents made sure we had a garden and fruit trees growing. I enjoyed working in the garden, for the most part. My problem with gardening as a child was my health. I had severe asthma and allergies. Being outside digging around with dirt and blossoms and grass could easily trigger an attack that would put me in bed for weeks. So I was typically relegated to inside tasks while the rest of my family was pulling weeds.

As an adult, with my asthma and allergies under much better control, Hubby and I have had a garden at each house we've lived in and as many fruit trees as we could fit in the yard. But we've always lived in the city. Our biggest property was a fifth of an acre, with our house sitting on a 1/3 to 1/2 of that land. And we managed the yard nicely and dreamed of living on a bigger parcel.

And now we are living the dream.

We started two years ago with three acres. Now we own FIVE! We purchased the two acre parcel that butts up next to ours. 

We are doing lots of things with the land. We are growing in our skills as homesteaders, trying to live off the land and be self-sufficient.

This post is to document one of the Skills that I have recently acquired.

Through a mutual friend, we have met an expert on the care, keeping, and judging of goats. She and our mutual friend, who we discovered is also quite proficient in the care and keeping of goats, graciously came to my house to help me improve the care of our five goats. Those two sweet gals were not thrilled with what she found when they came to visit...

Most of the advice I've been getting from other people regarding the care of goats is WRONG! The good thing, they told me, is that I have Nubian goats and Nubians are hardy creatures. The gist of the conversation basically down to: "Sarah, if you had any other breed you would have killed them off months ago. Fortunately, you have Nubians."

I felt really bad about that, but they were kind and reassuring with me. I've since put a lot of what they told me into practice and am working on incorporating the rest of it over the next couple of months. 

Then we talked about the quality of my goats. I know that two of my does are absolute mutts (I don't know the correct goat term for this, so am using the dog term) so I wasn't concerned about them. And I knew that our milking doe had some problems, after all--she came to us with mastitis and we'd battled that for months. So I knew she wasn't the best quality.

What surprised me was her assessment of my bucks. Fred, the bigger buck, has more meat goat traits than dairy. His bone structure is also off. But the big surprise was that they said Fred is super aggressive! 

All of the behaviors that I had translated as Fred being a shy goat are actually signs of aggression. Yowsers!! We watched Fred and George, the younger and smaller goat, for about half an hour, with the expert gal pointing out all of the aggressive behaviors and the bad body structure. Choosing a buck to breed with your does is a HUGE decision. You need to be sure that the buck has good diary characteristics or you can end up with a doe who is not a good milker. Of course, the gals said this in Goat Terminology. They also pointed out the wonderful qualities in George. That goat truly is a sweet goat. He likes people, he likes my children. And his body structure is dairy and healthier long term.

And so we had a decision to make: Sale Fred to someone else for either meat or the breeding of meat. OR Weather Fred.

After talking to Hubby, we decided to Weather Fred.

And that, dear friends, is the new skill that I have acquired: I know how to Weather a buck/buckling. 

The gal did the actual banding while I held Fred still. That goat has GROWN since we got him in March. I straddled Fred at the shoulders and held on to his collar. He is a tall buck! Luckily, I have long legs. The gal was behind him with a banding tool. I have to tell you, although Fred is not yet full grown...his testicles are the size of a full grown buck. They were huge. It took some effort and finagling for the gal to get the band around his testicles. Fred was not happy with her messing with his boy bits. He tried jump and "buck" about, but I held that big goat firmly in place. I am super impressed with myself and my buff thigh muscles. Haha! 

Anyways, that was a few weeks ago. Fred's testicles have shrunk and now look like a hairy pancake. Seriously. That is what they look like.

We're going to add a second band this week to finish the weathering process. They'll continue to wither and eventually fall off.

And so...

Bucks Beware! 

I know how to Weather!  ;)

Saturday, June 21, 2014


Hubby has wanted chickens ever since we moved to our country home. For Father's Day we surprised him with six chickens and a rooster. They're already a family, so we don't have to worry about too much infighting...the pecking order is already decided.
Jim, our four-year old son, has been waiting for the chickens to lay some eggs. Chickens tend not to lay for a while when they're moved to a new home. They have to get used to the new environment. After a week of waiting, today the chickens laid some eggs. This morning Jim collected two eggs. He was so excited! He showed them to every member of the family twice then went out to show the goats that the chickens had laid some eggs. After that he carefully placed them in the fridge, where he faithfully checked on them about every ten minutes.
This evening when I went out to milk our goat, Jim checked the hen house. There were four more eggs! He could hardly believe his luck. He ran inside, grabbed a basket, and carefully placed each egg in the basket. Then he went to the fridge, took the two eggs from this morning out and placed them into the basket. He sat down on our front stoop and gently placed the basket beside himself. I was sitting on the stoop too, cleaning mud off shoes.
After a few minutes sitting there with Jim and the eggs, Jim lets out a big sigh and says: "I just waiting and being patient, but these eggs not hatch yet."
I tried to explain to him that the chickens need to keep the eggs if he wants them to hatch into chicks in a month or so. He told me no, he would be patient and they would hatch today.
I love that he thinks if he is patient enough those eggs will hatch. I love the faith and logic of my sweet four-year boy! And I love that he is already developing patience at this age. Hopefully, he won't be too put off when those little eggs don't hatch. :)