Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Amish House-Sitting Diaries

First, an order of business: I didn't realize that I had yet to set up the "follow by email" button until someone asked me about it.  I have added one now. 

Some people have wondered if I ever put any sort of diaries up about our Amish farm-sitting trip.  I thought that every once in awhile I will copy part of my journal here.  I wasn't planning on doing this, so I'm not sure how interesting it will be, and obviously I will leave out anything both incredibly boring or incredibly personal, but here you go....  :)  I think I will add any additional commentary in italics. 

Thursday, 5/24/12
12:15 p.m.
We are on our way to the F____'s!  Can't believe this day is finally here!  I hope this ends up being a wonderful experience. 
We have so much stuff packed.  I know I overpacked, probably compensating for my insecurity about what we are going to have to do without.
We just ate at Freddy's.  I had a bacon blue cheese burger and fries.  It was way, way, way too much food, but it was super yummy.  I felt like I had to load up on food because who knows what we will be eating!  (i.e., I may very well end up starving myself and my family for the next five days!!!)

Friday, 5/25/12
11:45 a.m., porch swing
We made it!  And we are surviving.  Maybe not quite thriving...but definitely surviving.

I felt so weird when we got here yesterday.  It was like the ghosts of the F____'s were still here, and I felt a little unsetttled.  The kids immediately started playing with the one kitten we found in the barn (we didn't find the others until today--by the woodshed.  I was so afraid that the other had died and that we were responsible for this life of this one little white kitten!!  Then last night she disappeared!  And we had a storm!  And I knew she was dead.  Thankfully we now have 4 kittens accounted for).

Matt and I wandered around a bit.  I snooped around a bit (nothing very exciting!).  Then I persued cookbooks.  That was overwhelming.  I checked out the canning cellar in the basement and scouted out my options.  There is a  lot down there--just I'm not sure what to do with what I have!  Let's see what I remember: beets, green beans, applesauce, pickled peppers, chicken broth, chicken, pork chunks, ground venison, venison chunks sausage, pureed winter squash, tomato squash, tomato juice, ketchup, meatballs in tomato sauce, broccoli, apples, peaches, milk.
So--today I finally came up with my meal plan:
  • chicken stir-fry over rice (with broccoli, sugar snap peas, and broccoli from the garden)
  • meatballs in tomato sauce (we are going to Hy-Vee later--hoping they have gluten-free noodles) We went to the grocery store once on this trip, because it is amazing the things that I consider "staples" that they do not--like peanut butter and brown sugar and soy sauce, for example. 
  • sweet and sour pork over rice (with broccoli, sugar snap peas, and asparagus from the garden)
  • egg, cheese, and sausage casserole (I never actually ended up making this--I am trying to remember what I made instead)
  • Breakfast: oatmeal and eggs
  • Lunch: egg salad, I brought some deli meat and cheese and crackers
(I should mention here that we drank A LOT of milkWe got 4 gallons of milk a day from Juniper the cow, so whenever the kids would tell me they were hungry I would try just handing them a glass of milk.)

We sat by the pond for awhile, and then we started the chores!

We started with the cow.  Matt and I stared at the empty field.  He called--HI-YUP!  HI YUP! and she came!  Miracle!  We got her in her spot and then started to milk.  (Last night I made sure we had clean hands and that we washed off her udders.  This morning I didn't care so much.)  We got 2 gallons of milk!  Hooray!  Before that I guess we took care of the horses--just had to feed them and set them out to fresh pasture.  We gathered the eggs before we did the other chores (obviously I am not remembering things in order).  Amélie gathered the eggs, except one hen was still sitting on her egg.  Matt and Amélie were a little afraid to stick their hands under her--she did have piercing, disapproving orange eyes--but finally I did it and she didn't peck at me.
When we were doing the chores in the barn it started to rain.  We had a nice thunderstorm.  Then, we looked outside the barn door and there was a full rainbow!! It was amazing!  It gave us hope!

Finally, at around 8:00, we started on dinner.  We had had a big lunch, so I decided to make egg salad.  We had egg salad, lettuce, sugar snap peas, cottage cheese, milk, and bread that they had made for us.  We left the mess (We were SO TIRED).  We cleaned it up a bit, but it's an ordeal to heat the water, and they had left their breakfast dishes, so we decided to clean up in the morning.  We were tired.  We put the kids to bed in the basement.  Then Matt and I sat out on the porch and talked a bit.  It was so nice.  Would have been nicer if we weren't so tired. 

We found out in a note they left that another couple is going to ask us over on Sunday.  Ugh.  I don't want to do that!!  I just want to be here and not get stressed about talking to people or helping fix and clean up a meal (this especially makes me nervous because I feel so inept).  I should mention here that it is not that I am a wretched guest who doesn't like to help when I am at someone's house.  It is just incredibly stressful for me to help out in their kitchens.  They are so incredibly deft and efficient at everything they do, and I feel clumsy and insecure.  They are always very gracious--it's me, not them.  Not sure what to do.  I fear we would be rude not to go.  Ack!  Not sure how to handle the situation.  Am living in fear a bit about when they come calling.

Last night we slept in M_______ and J_______'s bed.  Now that felt a little weird.  We fell asleep to the sound of bull frogs (and coyotes).  I woke up several times but really slept quite well. 

It was nice to do things by kerosene lamplight last night.

Jack is having the hardest time adjusting.  He misses orange juice.  And games. 

Chores were trickier this a.m., because the cow came in the barn and then trotted (do cows trot?) right back out!  I could see milk squirting out of her udders.  Poor Matt had to go way down by the field to get her back in!  I was worried that we wouldn't get enough milk, but we got another 2 gallons.

After chores I fixed breakfast.  We have the propane tank hooked up to the stove for now so I had to do 3 separate cookings--oatmeal for Matt, Jack, and me; then oatmeal for Amélie (gluten-free), then eggs.

The kitchen kind of always smells like milk.

We all helped clean up.  It took at least an hour to wash all the dishes and get the floors swept and put everything away.  We sang songs, though.  That was nice. 

Then I got ready.  Not sure when we are going to brave the bath.  I cleaned up.  Poured water over my head.  Got ready. 

To be continued another day! :)

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