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Getting the barn ready to move…

My husband and I moved an old barn to our homestead and restored it in 2009. Here are a bunch of pictures of getting the barn ready to move and a description of how it was moved. Last week I started telling the story of the barn we are in the process of restoring (rebuilding?). You can read how we came to be the proud owners of a “free” barn here, if you missed it. Today I’m showing how we got the barn ready to move from its old location to its new home a quarter mile away.

Getting the barn ready to move

Getting the barn ready to move.

Take a look at the first set of pictures here to refresh your memory of how the barn originally looked. Because we didn’t want “our” barn on someone else’s property (and because the original owners said they’d burn it if we didn’t move it by August 1, 2009), we had to get it to our property. It actually sounds a lot more complicated than it was. My husband is pretty resourceful. Whereas I had no idea how to proceed, he found a company that moves homes, and other enormous structures! Who knew people actually make a living doing that – and that the premier home moving company in the United States happens to be located only about an hour from us? Fate?! When they said moving the barn would be a piece of cake, and the quoted price was marginally affordable, we were really excited!

So, we hired the moving company, Jeremy Patterson House Moving, Inc, and then we had to prepare the barn and its new home. The old owner, Art, tore off the wing, or second barn, that wasn’t salvageable. He also tore down the little office that was located on the front  of the barn, as well as a concrete ramp that allowed vehicles to drive to the mow. My husband and our construction company employees (one of whom happened to be the great-grandson of the man who built the barn), cleaned out years worth of stuff, mostly old grain and animal droppings – a delightful job, I was told!!Getting the barn ready to move

While Art was prepping the actual barn, my hubs also had to prepare the new home. That included digging a new foundation, pouring new footers, and back-filling.Getting the barn ready to move

Once the barn and the new location were prepped, Jeremy Patterson’s crew showed up to do their part. They brought enormous steel beams, lots of tires, and a huge hydraulic lift.

First, they built jacks out of 6x6s throughout the bottom of the barn, and then they put steel beams on top of the jacks to support the barn.
Getting the barn ready to move

Getting the barn ready to move

They also had to support the beams in the huge mow so they added a lot of cross braces to keep everything steady.
Getting the barn ready to move

Getting the barn ready to move

Getting the barn ready to move

This is a picture of the hydraulic jack they hooked up to the barn. I’m not very mechanically inclined, but I thought it was pretty cool.
Getting the barn ready to move

Once they were finished, the beams stuck out of the barn.
Getting the barn ready to move

Of course, it was pretty late in the day when they got to this point so they wouldn’t move it the same day they prepped it.
Getting the barn ready to move

And then, Jeremy Patterson experienced serious health issues which landed him in the hospital. After he got out of the hospital, equipment broke down. Then it rained and the fields were too muddy. We thought we would never get the barn moved. The days ticked away. The August 1st deadline for getting the barn onto our property approached. And everyone was wondering if the barn would be moved after all.

Of course, you know that it eventually moved or there wouldn’t be much a story. But you’ll have to wait until next week to see the awesome pictures I took that day!


Zucchini Chocolate Cake

I promised more zucchini recipes if my garden started producing, and what do you know? It has! So here’s a recipe for the enormous zucchini that gets away from you and is only good for bread! The same woman who traded corn for bread also gave me this recipe. It’s de-lish!

Zucchini Chocolate Cake

  • 1/2 c. margarine – (I used butter since I don’t use margarine)
  • 1/2 c. oil
  • 1 3/4 c. sugar – (I used a mix of refined and raw sugar – but now that I am out of refined sugar I will only use raw)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c. sour milk – (I added 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice to a 1/2 c milk)
  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. cocoa
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 c. finely shredded zucchini

1. Preheat oven to 325 and grease a 9×13 pan.

2. Cream margarine (butter), oil, and sugar. Add in and beat well, eggs, vanilla,  and milk.

3. Mix all the dry ingredients and add to the wet ingredients.

4. Stir in finely shredded zucchini – make sure you press all the water out of your zucchini before you add it.

5. Put the cake batter in the prepared 9×13 pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top.

6. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Enjoy! It’s absolutely delicious topped with strawberries. The strawberries in the picture are thawed berries from my parents’ garden. Not much beats them – except when they are fresh, of course!

Do you like zucchini? What’s your favorite way to eat it?



If someone offers you a free barn…

Is there such a thing as a free barn? Here’s the story of our “free” barn – how we moved it, restored it, and lived in it for over two years. Now it’s the home to our construction company Oak Tree Homes.

free iowa barn

If someone offers you a free barn…

Run! Run far! Run fast! As we’ve learned over the last two years, there is no such thing as a free barn. Unless you have deep pockets and/or a strong desire to preserve American heritage, be very skeptical of free barns.

Several years ago my husband and I bought the perfect 5 acre lot of land to build our forever home on. After following the military around for ten years and moving every year and half on average, we were so excited by the prospect to have a “forever” home.

The land is gorgeous. It has trees. It’s up on a little hill. It has pasture. It’s removed from almost everyone else. We love it except for one thing. It was missing a barn – and any tie to American farm heritage. There were no out buildings on it. And that was a big deal to us.

As fate would have it, our closest neighbors (a quarter mile away) had a round topped barn in bad shape that they were weeks from burning to the ground.

free barn

It was an old dairy barn, built in two stages. The main part was built in 1940s from a kit purchased in Wisconsin. It was built around an older barn dating from the late 1800s. You can see that there were two portions of the barn and that one, the side wing, had collapsed. While the front potion of the barn was still standing, it was in extremely rough condition. The roof was missing a lot of shingles and some siding. There were holes in the floor. Wild animals had taken up residence there.

Still, we fell in love with this barn.

free iowa barn

Where else do you see workmanship and rafters like that? To build a new barn to look old would be outrageously, and prohibitively, expensive.

So when the barn owners said we could have it, at no cost, we were thrilled!! Little did we realized what exactly we were getting ourselves in to.

Next week, I’ll share the story of moving the barn from its old home, to its new home. It was so amazing to watch this huge old barn drive off into the Iowa sunset!

If you’d like to see how the barn looks today, click over to my Facebook page for the most current picture. While you’re there, go ahead and “like” it so you don’t miss any of the story! You’ll find the rest of the story here.

Read the rest of the story here.

Getting the barn ready to move

Moving the barn

Pulling the barn to the new foundation

Fire! and haunted barns

I hope you enjoy this story! We love our free barn. <3

Weekly Goals 8/1

Last week’s post with my weekly goals actually helped keep me on track! So I’m doing it again.

Here were my goals last week:

  1. Grade my online class
  2. Marinate and freeze chicken
  3. Bake 10 loaves of bread
  4. Blog about moving our barn
  5. Clean and purge one kid bedroom
  6. Work on our business books
  7. Celebrate 14 years of marriage with my hubby
  8. Purge plastic kitchen containers
  9. Clean 2 drawers in my kitchen
  10. Weed & plant new seeds in my garden. I have officially LOST the war with the cucumber beetles. I

Quick & Easy Way to Freeze Corn

Keep the mess and heat out of your kitchen with this quick and easy way to freeze corn!

Keep the mess outside with this quick and easy way to freeze fresh corn

I love freshly frozen corn for use in taco soup, vegetable soups, and other recipes as well. We (me, hubby, father-in-law, kiddos) froze 50 quarts of corn a while back in fewer than 3 1/2 hours! Total cost – $1.25 and time! Three and a half hours of time was the biggest cost, but that’s all the time it took to shuck it, clean it, boil it, cut it off the cobs, bag it, and store it! I was shocked we got it done so quickly, especially since it’s usually all day affair featuring me and other female relatives. Turns out men are very hard workers and pretty industrious! Here’s how we did it!

How to Freeze Corn

shuck and clean corn

We’ve been pretty lucky the last couple of years to have awesome neighbors who grow the corn for us. We just have to show up and pick it out of the field near our little homestead. We brought the corn home in our tractor and then involved the whole family in shucking and cleaning in the shade of the garage. While the water came to a boil in the outdoor cooker, everyone was busy in the garage.

boiling the corn in a turkey burner outside is an easy way to freeze corn

The real secret to keeping the mess out of your kitchen is to clean and cook the corn outdoors in an outdoor cooker. Seriously, if you freeze a lot of corn, invest in an outdoor cooker! For real! Boiling the corn outdoors keeps my kitchen so much cooler and cleaner, plus the pot is so big I can cook so much more corn at once. I love using the outdoor cooker for freezing corn. Boil for 4-5 minutes (after you’ve shucked and cleaned it).

cool the corn in an ice water bath

Cool in a big, clean tub until you can handle it. It’s helpful to use ice to cool the corn more quickly.

take the corn indoors to cut it off the cob

Take it inside to cut off the cobs. I’ve used a Pampered Chef Corn Slicer in the past and also a knife to cut the corn off the cobs. Cutting the corn off the cobs is the worst part I’m excited to try out the Kuhn Rikon Corn Zipper next time I freeze corn. Have you tried any special corn cutters?

bag cut corn, clean, label, and put in freezer

Bag it up, clean off the bags, label them and freeze! I use quart bags because I have a large family. But you can use whatever size baggies you’d like.

Quick & Easy Way to Freeze Corn

Quick & Easy Way to Freeze Corn

Keep the mess outside with this quick and easy way to freeze corn

Cook Time 4 minutes
Total Time 4 minutes


  • Tons of fresh corn


  1. Bring water to boil in the largest pot you have.
  2. Shuck, clean, and cut off any bad spots.
  3. Once the water is boiling hard, add corn and let the water return to a boil. Once the water is boiling again, boil the corn for 4-5 minutes.
  4. Cool the corn in a large pot using cold water and ice until the corn is cool enough to handle.
  5. Cut the corn off the cobs and bag the corn. Flatten the bags, clean, and label then.
  6. Freeze!

Total cost for 50 quarts of corn: $1.25 for the freezer bags because I scored a super sweet deal. 30 minutes to pick. 3 1/2 hours to process. 15 minutes to tidy my kitchen. Those numbers make me happy. And my father-in-law’s sweet corn isn’t even ready yet. If we can keep the raccoons out, we may have more. 🙂

Do you freeze corn? Have you ever used an outdoor cooker? This is our go-to method for freezing corn.


Eat Mor Chikin! Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-Fil-A

It’s Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-Fil-A! Here’s why we went and how we dressed up. Have you been to this silly day?Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-Fil-AOnce a year it’s Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-Fil-A –

dress like a cow and get a free meal! I’ve known about it for the last couple of years but for one reason or another, it just hasn’t worked for us to get there. This year we made it!

My kids spent hours yesterday making their cow costumes. It was super easy since Chick-Fil-A’s own website has a print and use cow costume! We all got in on it, even my husband! In all, 7 of us (we took along a neighbor girl) got completely free meals this afternoon. The kids even got to spin a wheel and they won coupons for 4 free 8-piece chicken nuggets! If you read my blog, you know how much I LOVE coupons… :-)And, the staff thought we were so cute, they took our picture and gave the kids all a little stuffed cow. It was a lot of fun, even though it was initially a little embarrassing to walk in the restaurant dressed like a cow. We were by far the biggest herd there. At one point my husband remarked, “Where we the only people to get the memo?” He was such a good sport, though! It was fun being a YES Mom instead of a NO Mom.

Here are some pictures from our day:

cow appreciation day

cow appreciation daycow appreciation day

cow appreciation day

cow appreciation daycow appreciation day

Did you get your chicken today? If not, maybe you’ll do it next year! I’m pretty sure we’ll do it again, if it works out for us! Really, it was a lot of fun… 🙂

Money Saving Homemade Laundry Soap that Actually Works!

Here’s a recipe for homemade laundry soap that actually works. If you’ve wondered how to easily make laundry soap to save money, this post is for you!
homemade laundry soap

This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a commission from your purchase.

One of the ways I have saved money in the past was to use Charlie’s Laundry Soap instead of buying more expensive laundry detergent. I used Charlie’s Laundry Soap for 3 years until the end of May, 2011. When I ran out of Charlie’s Soap in May, I decided to try to make my own. I have read lots of blog posts about making your own soap, but this one encouraged me to try. Visit Hayley’s blog for the recipe.

Money Saving Homemade Laundry Soap that Actually Works!

It was super easy to make using child labor! 🙂

homemade laundry soap

Seriously easy. It took all of 10 minutes, and half of that was finding the ingredients! It smells nice and is so soft. We had a fun homeschooling lesson on making our own soap!

Here’s the dollars and cents:

  • Baking Soda – 2.16 (Should be Washing Soda, but that’s not what I found…)
  • Borax – 3.36
  • Ivory – free after coupon
  • Total : $5.90 after 7% tax

homemade laundry soap

My take:

I’ve been using it now since the end of May. That’s long enough to know it’s not much different from the Charlie’s Soap I was using before. It’s odor-free and tough enough to clean the dirty cloth diapers I use. I’m sold! For my $6 investment, I’ve got enough soap to last me a good 4 more months (and I do A TON OF LAUNDRY!) I’m convinced it’s cheaper than the Charlie’s Soap. And I like that! 🙂

Have you made your own homemade laundry soap? What did you like most about it?

Money Saving Homemade Laundry Soap that Actually Works!

Well or Good? ~5 Minute Grammar Lesson

It’s time for a 5 Minute Grammar Lesson! Today’s topic is WELL and GOOD. Do you know when to use them correctly? 🙂

Here’s a standard question:

How are you?

And here are two answers:
A. I am well.
B. I am good.

Which one do you think is correct?

Well or Good? ~5 Minute Grammar Lesson

A sounds more formal, doesn’t it? And some people insist that it is the proper answer, but they are generally WRONG. Usually the correct response to the question How are you, is B: I am good. (The exception is if you ask the question to someone who has recovered from an illness. In that case, A is correct.)

Why? You may ask.

WELL is an adverb (a word that describes a verb). GOOD is an adjective (a word that describes a noun). So, what noun is GOOD describing in the sentence I am good? Well, technically it’s not describing a noun and that’s what confuses people.

The exception to the adjective/adverb rule is that GOOD should be used to modify LINKING verbs. Examples of linking verbs are TO BE (am & is), seem, appear, feel (verbs that describe feelings).

WELL is used to describe ACTION verbs: run, jump, play. If you want to describe how your kids run, jump, or play, you should say: My kids run, jump and play WELL.  AND NOT: My kids run, jump, and play GOOD…

Since the question How are you? uses a linking verb, the correct answer to the question is:


Make sense?

Happy Sunday! Have a great day!


My mother gave my son this butterfly pavilion for his 5th birthday last November. He was super excited! We called him the butterfly stalker last year because he could literally sneak up on butterflies and catch them with his bare hands (very gently)! We he got this in November, he wanted to get the caterpillars right away. But, we waited to get them because we wanted to be able to release them into the wild and they can’t be released until the outside temperature is over 55 degrees. Winters in Iowa aren’t butterfly friendly.

The kit from Insect Lore came with a huge butterfly “cage” and a coupon for butterfly caterpillars. We did have to pay a $5 shipping fee, but it was worth every penny!

On May 3, our caterpillars arrived! They came in two cups with a special “nutrient” at the bottom so we didn’t have to feed them anything. Phew!

Here’s how small they were when they first arrived. There were 10 caterpillars total.

It was so hard to get a decent picture of the caterpillars because my camera wouldn’t focus. I couldn’t even manually focus it. In retrospect, maybe one of the kids should have held it like they did for the picture above.  Anyhow, after looking at these pictures again, I am AMAZED at how much those little caterpillars grew in a week! Can you tell the difference between this terrible picture and the one above?

After a week, they formed their cocoons.

This is what was over – nutrients and poop – in their original homes.

After they had all formed cocoons and we thought they were hanging quite solidly, we moved them into the butterfly pavilion so they could emerge. One cocoon had actually fallen from the lid of the jar. So, per the instructions, we placed it on a tissue on the bottom of the cage. When we did this, it started to shake violently and roll around! We thought it was about to emerge as a butterfly, but it didn’t. And we learned several days later that that behavior is normal behavior to deter predators… (oh well…)

On Sunday, May 22, they started emerging and by May 23 they were all out! Here is the last one literally crawling out of the cocoon! We were lucky enough to see two come out. They others were very sneaky and emerged undetected.

We fed them sugar water on flowers until their wings were dry and they were flying well.

And here is one of our 10 beautiful Painted Lady butterflies ready to fly away! They are gorgeous.

Interesting facts we learned during this process:

  • Painted Lady butterflies have over 10,000 eyes!
  • Painted Lady butterflies travel over 1,000 miles during their one year life.
  • The cocoons do not shake, rattle, and roll before the butterflies emerge… 🙂

Yesterday, we let all 10 butterflies fly away. And this morning, one was back! But she has since flown away again. I doubt she’ll be here tomorrow. The kids named a few of them: Rocky and Sandy are two names I can remember.

It was truly a fun experience. We’re trying to figure out what to do next. I’m thinking maybe a praying mantis pagoda. A friend did this with her kids and said it was fantastic. What do you think? Have you ever done something like this? I highly recommend it, whether you homeschool or not!

Advice or Advise? ~5 Minute Grammar Lesson

Happy Sunday! It’s time for another 5 Minute Grammar Lesson.

Advice or Advise? ~5 minute grammar lesson

Here’s are two commonly mistaken words that I have to think about to get the correct one:


AdviCe is a noun. It means opinion or suggestion: My friend gave me really good advice.

AdviSe is a verb. It means to offer advice: She advised me to trust my “mom sense.”

The way I distinguish between the two is to simply pronounce the word. AdviSe sounds like it has a “z” in it. I always pronounce the two correctly, so if I simply remember that AdviSe is a hard S (z sound) and AdviCe has a soft C (sounds like s), then I can get the two words right. (An S can sound like a Z, but a C cannot.)

That may be overly complicated; alternatively, you could just memorize the rule! There are many rules in English that must simply be memorized, unfortunately.

Do you ever confuse these two words? Might this advice be helpful? Or should I find another way to advise you? 😉

And that’s your 5 Minute Grammar Lesson! Have a great day.