Tandem Bicycle

Awhile ago, Mr. Inventor saw a tandem bicycle when we were fueling up the van in Kaikoura. He decided then and there that he wanted one of his own, and studied it to see how it was built. He went home and cut apart a couple of bicycles, planning to weld them together to make his own. Well, that didn’t happen, and in the course of moving twice in a year the pieces ended up being thrown away. Last week, however, the boys were listening to stories their Grandma recorded and sent us. Remember the Henry Huggins books? Well, in one of those, Scooter apparently suggested to Henry that he make a tandem bike by taking the front wheel off a bike and fastening it to the rear axle of another bike. I didn’t listen to the story myself, but from what I’ve been able to gather, Henry didn’t try it. Mr. Inventor, however, was inspired. He and Mr. Handyman spent half an hour the other day working on bikes and created a tandem bike! They are having great fun driving it around! They even rode it through town the other day when they went to fetch our cow home from the bull they had taken her to visit. The Cheviot policeman, off-duty at the time, was out riding his own bike and smiled and waved at them—I was glad to know he wasn’t unhappy about what he saw!

Today, Mr. Inventor and Mr. Intellectual were giving the three littlest ones rides with one of the bike trailers, with a little help pushing off from Mr. Diligence. The video isn’t very good, but it will give you an idea of what I was seeing. The sun is so low in the sky right now that good outdoor pictures are hard to get.IMG_1194IMG_1195IMG_1197IMG_1201


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Evening Prayers

I enjoy watching Gayle pray with the children at bedtime. First, they all pray, and then he goes around and blesses each of them.IMG_1114IMG_1115

Esther took care of the baby this particular evening, and ended up with a rather red thumb where it was chewed on!IMG_1116

The next act was for baby to go after her own toes!


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Early June Pictures

One morning, a day that Gayle was home, one of the boys brought wood in for the fire. The wheelbarrow tire was flat, so they started taking it apart—in the living room—to figure out what the problem was! Clockwise from left, Mr. Handyman, Mr. Intellectual, Mr. Inventor, and Mr. Diligence.IMG_0796

Mr. Inventor’s turkeys are gorgeous! I do love turkeys, so maybe I’m prejudiced, but I love watching them strut around and show off. Of the four young ones who have been living in the paddock with their parents (only three now, as we roasted one last week), three were toms. So funny to see them slowly turning around, with all feathers fluffed up and tails fanned out, and wings brushing the ground. Then, you touch them and they instantly deflate.IMG_0810IMG_1103

Gayle and the boys built me a laundry-dryer that hangs up by the ceiling. The ceilings in this 100-year-old house are very high, so of course there is a lot of heat lost up there. They took the side of an old baby crib and tied ropes to it, then ran the ropes through some eye-bolts they screwed securely into the ceiling joists. When there is laundry to dry, let the dryer down, load it, then pull it up, above eye-level, and forget about it till the laundry is dry!IMG_1100IMG_1129

A few more pictures of our littlest cutie.IMG_1124IMG_1125IMG_1126

And a Katydid that Mr. Intellectual found in the house!IMG_1131

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Mr. Sweetie’s Pictures, Part 3

This is the last set of his pictures for now. This is Esther at her desk in her new bedroom, which was our schoolroom.IMG_0891

I’m not sure why he took this picture! It is one of my favorite history resources.


The bike trailer Mr. Inventor built for Mr. Diligence. They painted it with paint they got free from the dump. The dump, actually a transfer station, is at the end of our road, and the two boys go there at least once a week to see what treasures they can find.


The trailer Mr. Inventor built for himself.


A conference between Mr. Inventor and Mr. Diligence.


Mr. Handyman.


Mr. Imagination.


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Mr. Sweetie’s Pictures, Part 2

More pictures that 5-year-old Mr. Sweetie took on my camera. All these were taken across the driveway north of the house. One of many old vehicles that litter this place, this is a tow truck. If I remember the story correctly, the owner of the place sold this truck to someone a long time ago, and it hasn’t been picked up.IMG_0830IMG_0831IMG_0832

Our house and container from the tow truck.


The younger boys collected acorns awhile ago, and Mr. Diligence put his in this hole.


I guess they weren’t all taken from across the driveway. The picture above is back on this side. The creek hasn’t had any water in it since October. The picture below is taken in the yard between the middle and south driveways. (Yes, this five-acre parcel has three driveways! We have two blocked off with fences to keep wandering sheep out.)


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Mr. Sweetie’s Pictures, Part 1

Mr. Sweetie loves to take pictures. A few weeks ago he took my camera one Saturday afternoon, and took somewhere around a couple hundred pictures! I didn’t save all of them, but here is a nice selection. Gayle and Mr. Handyman were fixing a set of shelves given to us by the local farm store. That’s Mr. Inventor holding his baby sister.IMG_0811

The workshop part of the garage.


Mr. Imagination.


Mr. Diligence’s garden.


The house, from the other side of the garden.


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The Way Boys Like to Cook….

Over the past year, I’ve gradually turned more and more of breakfast duty over to the children. A year ago I was still cooking something for breakfast every day of the week. Now, on weekdays, I make sure there is something ready for Gayle to heat up before he leaves for work at 5:10 (no, I don’t get up to fix it for him or even to see him off), and fix my own breakfast and make sure Mr. Imagination gets fed. Otherwise, the children are pretty much on their own. Some of them have gotten pretty creative! Mr. Intellectual has become an expert at pancakes. He mixes them up without following a recipe. I’ve given him tips here and there at making better ones. He usually makes enough for himself and one or two of the other boys, which makes him popular! Mr. Inventor and Mr. Handyman usually fry a couple of eggs. When eggs are plentiful, I let them have as many as they want, and Mr. Handyman will eat five at a meal. Right now, I have to restrict them all to two eggs each, and even at that we have to buy some to supplement what our hens produce. Mr. Diligence can’t handle the thought of spending more than a minute making his breakfast, and he hates all the casseroles I make for his daddy, so he lives on leftover toast in the morning. He will make a lot of toast one afternoon, to tide himself over for the next few days! He eats it with peanut butter and sugar-free jam. Esther often makes herself a pudding with 2 eggs, 1/4 cup milk and some vanilla stevia. Just whisk it together and keep whisking until it just starts to thicken, then take off the heat and whisk another half minute or so till it’s just right.

On Saturdays and Sundays I make breakfast for everyone. I often make a fried oatmeal with apples in it on Saturday, or pancakes. I get the pancakes mixed before I head out to milk, and assign some boys to fry pancakes and make waffles (with the same batter) while I’m out. The morning these pictures were taken, a few weeks ago, the coal range was going hot enough to cook the pancakes. Wood heat makes the best pancakes! It is a very even heat, and usually not as intense as electric. We don’t scorch things when cooking with wood like we do with electric. That’s Mr. Intellectual frying pancakes; Mr. Diligence was operating the waffle iron. It looks like Mr. Inventor, in the background, was making tea.IMG_0797IMG_0800

The boys have also been baking potatoes lately, for snacks. We were given a bagful of washed potatoes, so I told the boys they can have them. They wrap them it tinfoil, and stick them in the stove in the living room. It’s fun to see the boys having fun cooking!IMG_1098

Mr. Imagination is playing with Legos while I write. He came over a few minutes ago and very seriously told me that his plane crashed and people were hurt. He showed me the “crashed plane”. A minute later he brought it back over and asked if I wanted some juice. I asked, “I thought that was a plane that crashed?” “It turned into juice,” was his reply. And now, it’s a cup of water!

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May Pictures

First, a couple of pictures of Mr. Imagination:SANY3029


We have some enormous carrots in the garden.


This stove is wonderful—we are warm this winter. I found this picture on Mr. Diligence’s memory card. That’s Mr. Sweetie on the right.SANY3055

Our mobile flycatcher kept visiting until the weather got cold enough we no longer left the door open.IMG_0730IMG_0731IMG_0733

Mr. Inventor and Mr. Diligence built this shed a few months ago. They recently put a door on it and built shelves inside to keep their tools organized.IMG_0762

Baby got her first “horsey rides” a few weeks ago, with help from Big Sis. The first picture shows her on Mr. Diligence, with Mr. Sweetie in the background, and she’s riding on Mr. Imagination in the second.IMG_0765IMG_0767

Mr. Diligence doesn’t always like to have his picture taken!IMG_0770

We recently bought The Timechart History of the World. It is a huge timeline in a book, which unfolds to 6 meters. I highly recommend this to any family! The amount of information in it is staggering. We’re using small post-it notes to add the books we’re reading so we can see where they fit into history.IMG_0785

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Apple Cider

One of Gayle’s dreams for the past five years, ever since the first year we were here, when he saw how many apples go to waste along the roadsides, has been to make apple cider. This year, his dream was finally realized. We bought an insinkerator (garbage disposal) unit on Trade Me and cleaned it thoroughly, and then he ground apples through it into a pillow case. Then, he put that between boards, and pressed it with a car jack. Yum! Baby thoroughly approved, too—but cider stains clothes very badly, for your information.SANY3038


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We’ve had a very warm autumn, but one week was pretty chilly. One morning, especially, got very cold. I don’t know what the outside temperature was, but inside the boys’ sleepout it was 3.3°C. We kept the cold water running most of the night, so it didn’t freeze up until I turned it off at the kitchen tap at 7:00 (by 7:30 it was frozen), but the hot water line froze and we didn’t have hot water anywhere till 11:00.  The boys found impressively thick ice on water troughs and the back creek, and had fun shattering it on the concrete outside the kitchen door. This was the view out my kitchen window that morning:IMG_0783

Mr. Intellectual, Mr. Inventor, and Mr. Sweetie


Mr. Diligence, Mr. Inventor, Mr. Intellectual, and Mr. Sweetie


That was the morning Esther decided to move into the house for the winter!

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