If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Saturday, June 30, 2012


The temperatures here are beyond sweltering - I'd say closer to southern Hades!  We have had record breaking temperatures this week and I've grown spoiled and out of shape for the heat.  Yesterday and the day before the thermometer on the back porch looked like this at 4:30ish:

I know that part of this is radiating off the wall and the porch floor and that the sun is hitting the thermometer directly, but when I was standing right there, it certainly felt every bit of 138 degrees!

The official temperature was 108 yesterday, I think.  Today we got a break and the official temperature was only a mere 106, I think. 

We were invited to a potluck dinner tonight and I took baked beans and pasta salad.  If you want the pasta salad recipe you can find it HERE

Friday, June 29, 2012

Reading and Searching for Inspiration

Since before I moved into this house to make my life with Mike we have been making changes to it.  Do other people do that to their homes?  I know I did to my first home.  Almost immediately after we moved in we started making changes - painted a little to have some variation from the beige that the former owner had painted everything - I mean EVERYTHING - walls, woodwork, ceilings... 

Then, several years ago I sold that house and bought a brand new house.  It was so new that everything had not even been finished.  For example, there was no handrail going up the steps to the bonus room.  The cabinets were still dusty from where the floors were sanded.  The paint was barely dry!  Yet, I began changing things.  This time there weren't big changes - just subtle things like hanging artwork and photographs and plates on the wall.  Adding blinds and curtains and rugs on the floor stamped the house and made it mine.

I remember Mike telling me about his first visit to that house.  He said that he was so nevous, anxious, and tied up in knots.  Yet, the minute he stepped in the front door, the house seemed to put him at ease and he could relax.  Truly, that has always been my goal when creating a home - making anyone who comes in the door feel at ease and relaxed.  I'd love for folks to feel like they can simply plop down and put their feet up and set a drink beside them and enjoy the place as well as the company. 

So, when Mike and I decided to join together, we immediately decided to make some changes to this house as well.  This time I wasn't working with a completely blank slate.  This time there were memories, origins, and tastes that were lurking in the corners and shadows.  So, I had to tread lightly, gingerly, carefully as I began to put my stamp on this dwelling to make it my own. 

There were many pros and cons to moving into this house - his house - instead of the two of us adapting my house or selling both our houses and finding a new one that is all our own.  I won't go into all the pros and cons here but one of the pros is that the house was originally built for my in-laws.  (Of course, that could also be considered a con if I really think about it - maybe their ghosts and tastes and memories are some that are lurking!)  They selected some fine attributes to include into the house - like the white oak flooring in all of the rooms
You may remember this photo from another post.

and the big farmhouse kitchen
Here is the working side and...
Here is the dining side.  You may remember this look from another post.

and the double fireplace
The kitchen side and...
and the den side.  (Yes, these pictures are from this Christmas post.)

and the nice crown molding
Seen here in the Den Before and After

and the French doors and large windows... 
Seen here in Fall on the Back Porch.

Plus, I'm lucky enough to have a husband with wonderful taste (so much so that at times I have teased him and called him Martha).  You see, my in-laws lived in the house for fifteen years or so before they sold the farm where it was built.  Then, it was moved to its current location here.  So, when it was set here, Mike had the good taste to add some other wonderful features.  Features like the beadboard in the guest bathroom...
Seen here in Before and After.

and the window seat in the bay window...
also known as a favorite hiding spot.

and the brick on the front porch...  well, I think you get the idea!  This house has really wonderful bones.  Mainly, what we have been doing to it during the past three years is to simply update it, adapt it to our current stage of life, and put a stamp on it that is uniquely our own together. 

Every time I have a break from work - spring, fall, holidays, summer - I try to take on an updating project.  With a tight budget, sometimes the updates have to be cheap small inexpensive and that has certainly been the case from the beginning!  So, from the beginning I have been consulting the experts.  I have kept an idea book for years.  It is simply pictures from magazines that I have clipped and added to a binder.  I keep scraps of fabric from projects there and paint chips and such.  That way I can simply grab this binder when I go on a shopping trip in search of an accessory update and I will know if the color will match or blend or coordinate.  I've also begun keeping idea boards on Pinterest and can pull those up on my iPad or phone - or plan ahead and make a printout if I need a hard copy. 

This summer break hasn't lent itself well to taking on a big set of projects just yet because I have had obligations with work.  Each week has found me planning or facillitating a professional development session for the teachers in our district to help them plan for integrating technology into the curriculum more seamlessly.  So, I have found my down time to be when I am looking for inspiration and dreaming.  I referred to a post by Susan at Between Naps on the Porch where she shared a list of her favorite decorating and design books.  I saw an advertisement for a sale on one of the books and decided to check it out of the local library to see if I wanted to snatch up the half-priced copy for my own library.  That just seemed to start the ball rolling for me to check out more books and do more dreaming! 

This morning as I was finishing my coffee, I was perusing one of the books I've checked out of the library, Creating a New Old House by Russell Versaci, I read a passage that struck a nerve with me and helped me to see what Mike and I really are doing here with this house.  Versaci says,

"Our childhood memories are colored with picture-postcard images of old houses.  Most of us can remember dreamlike visions of the house we grew up in or wish we had.  We recall the pleasures of sultry days at a summerhouse spent idling on the front porch or swinging from the big tree in the backyard...These scenes from the past, which are half-remembered and half-imagined, come to the surface...Creating a new house ought to be like walking down memory lane, gathering these treasured recollections for one of life's most creative endeavors."

What a revelation that was for me.  Not only are we trying to create something that is uniquely our own and fits our lives - updating and revising as we grow and change, but we are also trying to add in our childhood memories and dreamlike visions of the pleasures we recall - scenes from the past that are a walk down memory lane.  Bunny Williams wrote a book called An Affair With a House and that is where I started my search for inspiration.  I guess that was a great place to start since, basically, that is sort of what I am doing as we live and grow here - I'm simply building an affair with this house as I update it and try to put my stamp on it in making it uniquely our own.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Is it hot enough for you?

I remember as a kid that lots of the grown-ups would ask that question all during the summer.  I always got a little peeved about it because what could they do about it?  If it was hot enough they had nothing to do with the temperature and if it wasn't hot enough they couldn't turn up the thermostat either.  So, I'm not really asking that frustrating question but what I am saying is...

Do you have any idea just how hot it is out there?  To me it is just unbearable.  I know that I have become spoiled having a cushy job sitting in a cushy chair in a cushy air-conditioned school building.  But, today was a day when I was out and about running errands and getting in and out of the vehicle and going from place to place.  So, even today I wasn't really suffering so much out in the sweltering heat.  But let me tell you - it was HOT out there today!

When we got home, this is what I noticed on my back deck:

I know, I know that this was a bit of an exageration.  This was at about three o'clock and the sun was beating down and bouncing off the deck and the side of the house but it really felt that hot to us!  In the three summers I have lived here, I have never witnessed that thermometer showing such temperatures.  So, if you asked me that frustrating question, my answer would be ...

Mainly because it is W-A-Y TOO HOT for me!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Things We Do For Love (Part II)...

Isn't it amazing how we will do things for those we love that we never, ever, never thought we would be doing?  Well, this afternoon found me doing just that.  Of course, this is a big step past what I've done for love in the past.  You may remember me talking about it HERE.  I also posted the recipe HERE.  Today, though, I took a big ole step toward the dark side even further than I ever have before...

Remember yesterday that I told you Mike and I went to Mennonite country and got some vegetables - including five heads of cabbage.  Well, you have probably already figured it out - I began the process of making Kraut.

Now, realize that I feel the same way Bridgette did in kindergarten about Kraut.  I think it smells bad and cannot even eat the weenies.  However, it is one of those dishes that Mike just loves.  He has mentioned several times how he could eat it pretty often.  So, I bit the bullet and asked my nieces for their recipe and dove into Kraut making this afternoon. 

I may have more than one college degree and have been told I am rather smart at times.  However, when it comes to making Kraut, I felt like the greenhorn I really am.  So, I needed more than just the recipe Becca sent me.  Here it is:


1 gallon cabbage (VERY FINELY CHOPPED)
8 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons sugar
3 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Mix together.  Work it.  (Press down with palms of hands.)  It will make a liquid when you press down.  Then, pack Kraut in sterilized jars and put lids on them very loosely.  Store in a cool dark place for 21 days.  Check on it every 7 days.  If it appears dry, mix 1 teaspoon salt in a quart of water and pour over Kraut.  At the end of 21 days tighten the lids down and keep in a cool dry place. 

There were more instructions like "after you cut the cabbage, don't let it touch metal again," and "store it in a cool, dark place," and "you might want to set it on a towel or piece of cardboard in case it spews out," and "it is going to stink!"  However, undaunted, I plunged in.

The problem is, I had no idea what is "very finely chopped."  Does that mean minced or does it mean slivered or just what?  So, I put in a call to the experts.  No answer.  I discussed it with Mike and he said he had no idea.  So, I just began to chop, chop, chop.  I mixed up one batch and Mike helped me to put it into the jars.  What a messy job that was!  We had Kraut all over the place!  Plus, it didn't seem to have enough liquid to me. 

Finally, one of the nieces called and I confessed that I had sent them photos and pleaded with them to please check out my work and give feedback.  After a bit, I could hear mutterings and both nieces said it looked fine but maybe I needed to "work it" a bit more.  They suggested that I mash it around in the jar with a wooden or plastic spoon.  So, I did.

That seemed to make it more slushy and I decided that must have been the ticket.  So, I plunged in a little deeper.  I wound up making three batches - nine quart jars of Kraut. 

Chunking the cabbage to get ready to chop it.

Chopped cabbage pieces for Kraut
Looking down into one of the jars before I mashed it around with the spoon.
First batch of Kraut
After smushing with a spoon

I have set all nine jars on an old towel that is set on the top of a plastic storage tub.  They are stored in the dark basement storage room.  I've marked the calendar so that I will be reminded to check the Kraut in seven days.  (Do you think I will wait that long?  I don't!)

We shall see what this adventure brings.  The things we do for love...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Green Bean Scene

We have been the Green Bean Scene for the past couple or three days.  Mike and I trekked to Mennonite country on Saturday morning and bought a few vegetables.  He really enjoyed the hunting, bargaining, and dickering and I enjoyed the scenery and time spent with him.  Plus, it has been so hot here that we didn't really want to do anything productive around here and we are the outdoorsy type.

We came home with some blueberries, cabbage, corn, bell peppers, and green beans.  Did we ever come home with some green beans!  We brought home thirty-nine pounds of green beans!  So, late Saturday afternoon, Mike began to break all those beans.  He had brought in some squash from our poor little cooked plot just above the barn and I cut it up, added some onions from our table tubs, and started it to boil for a suppertime squash casserole.  As soon as he had a mess broken, I snatched them up and put them on to cook for supper as well.  Knowing that Bryan and Jessica were coming by for a visit, I laid out some pork chops to thaw and stirred up a peach cobbler.  Then, I began gathering supplies for canning the green beans. 

When Jessica and Bryan arrived, Jess quickly shucked some of the corn and Bryan went to work seasoning and wrapping it to cook on the grill.  Then, Jessica joined Mike in the bean breaking.  I was in the throes of blanching my first pot of beans for canning.  I had never done this step before because I usually just raw pack them into the jars.  I'll be interested to see if we notice a difference. 

I trooped downstairs to get the canner started and while Mike and Jessica continued to break the beans, Bryan and I prepped the supper.  Bryan served as master griller.  He just kept muttering, "pressure, pressure, pressure," and I didn't understand why until much later when they presented Mike with his Father's Day gift and the card indicated that Mike is the griller around here.  Just before supper was ready, I turned off the heat to the canner and let it begin to cool. 

We feasted on a delicious summertime, southern meal of grilled pork chops and corn on the cob, fresh green beans, squash casserole, cucumber/onion salad, home-made pickles, and had peach cobbler for dessert.  It was a wonderful evening of fellowship, food, and fun.  Well, I guess they had fun breaking the beans because Jessica and Mike wound up breaking the entire bag!  I only completed one canner-full that night.  We put the rest of the beans into the fridge downstairs.  Then, I did another canner-full yesterday afternoon.  Today has been serious canning time and I have finished them off.  Here is how I did that:

First, wash the broken beans thoroughly.  I soak them in a sink of cool water and rinse them under cool running water before placing them in a colander to drain.  Next, I begin to fill the jars, shaking them to pack the jars as full as possible without mashing the beans.
Then, sprinkle a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar over the top.  I remember helping Mama when she canned beans and after breaking the beans, sprinkling the salt is about the only job I was qualified to do!

Next, pour boiling water over this to fill the jar.  Run a wooden or plastic spoon handle down the side of the jar in a couple or three places to encourage the air bubbles to float to the top.  Attach the two-piece jar lids.  Then, troop downstairs to the canner.

I have to use the downstairs stove for the canner because the flat-topped-glass stove I have upstairs doesn't work to heat the canner quite as well for some reason.  The older model with the coils seems to work well for this task, though.

Place the jars into the canner and add three to four inches of water to the canner.  (I usually do this when I begin to fill my jars and turn the stove eye on to begin heating that water to save some processing time.)  Attach the canner lid and turn the eye on high heat to bring the water to a boil and build up steam pressure in the canner. 

If you look closely you can see the steam rising out of the top-most point of the canner in the photo above.  When there is a good steady rise of steam with a strong ssshhh-ing sound, the canner is near readiness for processing. 

This is when the "jiggler" should be added which regulates the amount of pressure that is maintained.  For green beans, it is recommended to maintain ten pounds of pressure for twenty-five minutes.  After a minute or two, the jiggler will start to rock back and forth and the sound of the steam escaping will become a steady ssshhh, ssshhh, ssshhh.  I set the timer for twenty-five minutes and find a task to do - washing dishes, folding clothes, ironing, reading a good book, etc. 

In the photo above, the jiggler is rocking and the steam is ssshhh-ing at a steady rhythm.  At the end of twenty-five minutes, I turn off the heat and remove the jiggler to allow the canner to cool and release the built-up pressure.  After fifteen to twenty minutes, the top can be removed and the jars can be set on a towel on the counter.
The beans will have changed from a brilliant emerald green to a softer, more olive tint and the liquid in the jars will probably still be boiling.  I let the jars and the canner cool completely.  Then, I wipe off the outside of the jars and place them in the pantry to await a nice southern, country meal.  Yum!

So far we have about thirty-five quarts of green beans processed and there is still enough for another meal to cook fresh.  I guess we will share a few jars with Bryan and Jessica since she helped to break them all up.  Of course, quality control might mean I need to limit what she and Mike have earned through their efforts.  Notice what I found when I was washing the beans:
Quality Control

Do you think I should dock their pay?  I found all these ends mixed with the good beans. 
(Actually, that isn't bad considering how many they touched that afternoon/evening!)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Summer Time Canning and Freezing

The produce from the garden is beginning to make its way to the house now.  Is there really anything much better than eating the foods one has grown?  We have been pampering some plants since way back earlier this year.  You may have read about our trying to get a jump on things when we were Pushing Spring.  Or you might have seen the update when I posted Vegetable Garden.  The time of rewards has begun and we are eating fresh food almost every day.

The added benefit of having these fresh vegetables, is that, generally, we also get enough to can or freeze and eat long after the sweltering days of summer have passed.  To make things even sweeter, Mike's brother, Jim, went to a vegetable auction last week where some Mennonites had boxed and sold their vegetables.  Jim came back home with a truck-load of veggies with the intentions of starting a little produce stand for him and his grandsons to operate.  Let's just say that idea is a work in progress and not mention how Jim persuaded my favorite sister-in-law, JoAnn, to sit at the stand.  Then, he deserted her to go do some sort of tractor work - disking, or cutting hay or something.  I also won't mention that the weather was near-ninety-degrees last Saturday.  Nor will I mention that the vegetable stand wasn't really all that busy and JoAnn was just sitting there sweating for quite a while.  And of course I won't mention what she said just before or maybe during or maybe right after they packed up the veggies and hauled them to the house.  What I will elaborate on is how generous JoAnn and Jim were with the left-over veggies after they called the produce stand closed for the day. 

Jim came over with a box of squash, a box of cucumbers, and a box of green beans.  The vegetables were all picture-perfect and uniform in their natural beauty.  They were just the right stage of ripeness.  They were clean.  It was a wonderful gift!  So, Mike and I set to work prepping the veggies for canning and freezing.  While Mike broke the green beans, I began washing and slicing the squash.  We put the beans in jars and put them into the pressure canner.  One peck of raw green beans produced five quarts of processed beans.  A half-bushel of squash produced eight quart bags of frozen squash.  So, we will have squash for casseroles or simply cooked with some onion and butter even after the weather is cold. 

I called JoAnn to ask her what to do with a whole big box of cucumbers and she giggled a bit and suggested we make some pickles.  Mike thought that was a great idea and said he liked his mother's sweet pickles.  I also thought making some sweet pickle relish was a good idea because we eat quite a bit of that.  Thus began the adventure into making pickles! 

I found what looked like a simple recipe for sweet pickle relish and I had all the ingredients.  So that is where I started. 
You can find the sweet pickle relish recipe HERE.

You can read about my sweet pickle adventure and get my adapted recipe HERE.  Add to that post that I had to mop the kitchen floor not just once, but twice to get it where my feet weren't sticking!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

I am fortunate to be married to a guy who is a wonderful father and I hope he has a happy and special Father's Day. 

You know, without a doubt I'm sure I have got the very best Daddy in all the world.  The amazing thing about it is, I didn't even have to do anything for him and just got lucky!  Happy Father's Day, Daddy!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Movin' On Up!

Or maybe I should title this post Moving South...

Our children have taken up residence in their new store!  Yippee!!!

You may remember me sharing their progress a couple of months ago in Following Their Dreams.  Well, it is official.  Their store has a new address.

Now found in College Grove (a little blink-in-the-road town)
(really in a little community called Kirkland
but that place is even too small for a post office!)

All the stars aligned and last minute details and paperwork finally came together right before the Memorial Day Weekend.  (The most important part was the paperwork, of course.  Is your county so persnickety that there is code after code and regulation after regulation and hoop after hoop to jump through to get something established?  Well it is here!)

A perfect example of the persnickety details which have to be met is the landscaping.  Before the occupation of the store building could take place, all of the landscaping had to be in place.  And that was a tall order.  Here is a shot of just part of over 250 plants which were required:
some of the trees and shrubs planted on the back side of the store building

Yes, the caption above is correct.  This is out behind the store building.  Way back there where no customer will see it.  Most of the perimeter plantings are to serve as buffers between Stephen and Bonnie's store and the neighbors.  So, I'm sure that not only was that a hugantic expense in purchasing such plants and so many plants, it was quite an undertaking to get them all planted.  Mike's nephew, Jackson, was employed to use a gigantor auger thingy on the front of a Bobcat to drill a hole.  Then, the trees and shrubs were hoisted up on the front of the lift of the Bobcat and set down into the hole.  Finally, the root ball was opened and covered with dirt using shovels and a strong back.  Whew!  Mike took me over one afternoon and let me sit and watch the entire process.  It was quite impressive.  I also just sat on the seat of the truck and didn't offer to do any of the back-breaking labor!  Now, the challenge is to keep all of this horticultural material alive during the hot, dry summer weather.  Since we began having 90+ degree days early in May, I fear it is going to be quite the challenge.  (The installation of a drip system to water will, hopefully, make that task a bit more manageable.)

Well, at about one o'clock on the Saturday before Memorial Day, moving time arrived.  (Some steps had begun even a few hours earlier than that - like preparing the hay storage trailers to be pulled and relocated at the new site.  Stephen had arranged for a family friend to hook to the trailers and move them.  It was Stephen's grandfather, Pop's, duty to follow the trailers for safety's sake.  Below shows one of the trailers being hooked up for transport.)
Mr. Lamb hooked to the trailer and Pop ready to follow

In the photo above you can also see my Daddy's truck in the background pulling in to be loaded with the first load of pallets to go out.All of a sudden this little joint became a beehive of activity!  Mr. Lamb pulled the trailers down to the new store site and Mike was waiting there for him in order to help direct and align where these storage utilities would sit.  Here is a shot of them situated in their new spot:
The trailers are lined up just below the loading/unloading dock
at the back of the warehouse.

All of the pallets and shelves inside the warehouse had to be shrink wrapped and loaded onto flat-bed trailers for transport.  Loose items were thrown tossed carefully placed into boxes that were set atop wooden pallets.  Then, when the box and pallet was full, it was shrink-wrapped and lifted by Stephen using a lift-truck and forks onto a flat-bed trailer and most were tied down onto the trailer before it was rolled down the highway about three miles and unloaded at the new store by Mike. 

The warehouse with boxes being assembled for the move.

Here is a shot of our nephew, Jackson, taping a box together in preparation for a fill-up and load.

Bonnie and Stephen had lots of wonderful help!  Of course, family chipped in and helped with the packing, loading, hauling, unloading, and unpacking tasks.  (They had me so busy that I didn't even get a photo of everybody - there were cousins, Bonnie's sister, Becca and brother-in-law, Matt and nephew, Eli, and several others who aren't pictured!)  Even some customers showed up and helped out.  Here is a shot of customer, Diane, assembling one of the many boxes:
Customer, Diane, cheerfully lending a packing hand

Diane's son also helped to fill a few boxes inside the tiny showroom, too.

Packing really became a blur of activity with so many hands quickly grabbing products and filling boxes.  Here is a blurry shot of that:
This shot also shows just how small the old showroom was.  It was packed to the gills with most anything you can think of as a livestock or pet need.  As soon as a pallet was filled, part of the crew would wrap it to get it ready to load on a trailer.

One of the first full pallets

One-by-one the shelves were emptied, the boxes were filled, items added to the edges of the pallets, and they were wrapped and loaded. 

Bonnie and her dad, Terry, loading a box to the brim!

One pallet ready to load and another ready to wrap.

One of the haulers being loaded

Stephen and crew balancing a load

Even vendors sent help to haul feed and supplies from one location to the other.
This crew came from Tucker Milling.

After a bit, the tiny showroom at the old location got a bit congested.  So, Bonnie's mother, Ginger, and her sister, Beth, took a load of loose items down to the new store and began the unloading and unpacking.  Here is Ginger gathering loose items:
Ginger with stools and a diagram showing where products should be placed.

I wasn't far behind Ginger and hauled a truck-load of buckets and feed pans.  So, we quickly unloaded them and Beth and Ginger went to work on the bucket wall display.  There is quite a variety of buckets to choose from and surely there is one to fit most any need!  Most had been stored atop a cart that was pulled out in front of the store onto the gravel parking lot each day.  So, before placing them on the shelves, Beth and Ginger took a cleaning solution and wiped out each one.
Bucket Crew

Ginger's white shirt

I hate I didn't get a closer shot of Ginger near the end of the day.  Notice that she is wearing a white T-shirt?  Well, at one point the entire front of that shirt was wet from wiping and washing buckets.  Then, it dried a dingy grey.  (I can't imagine that she ever got it clean!).  I was wearing a sweat-shirt grey shirt and the front of her shirt was the same color mottled-grey as mine.  Whew! 

Colorful Bucket and Tub Display

Doesn't their bucket display look cheerful and bright, though?  You might remember that this was the first set of shelving to go up as shown in this post and it was the first wall of shelving filled with products. 

As soon as the first trailer was loaded, it was pulled onto the road headed south, moving on up to the new site.  At the new site, Mike was riding Trigger, his lift truck, and unloading pallets of feed, setting them into the warehouse.
Mike and Trigger

Load after load rolled in and was unloaded just below the dock with pallets transported around the back and into the warehouse. 
The pro at work steadily unloading and placing load-after-load!

One of the first stacks enters the new storage warehouse.

While the industrial loading and unloading was taking place, another customer, Mr. Geller, and Bonnie's sister, Betsy, were moving and setting up the live plant displays. 
Plant Transport

This was a job which required hands-on work and careful placement to keep the tender plants from getting broken and damaged. 

Most of the moving process took place Saturday afternoon.  The workers were treated to a delicious Bar-B-Q meal provided by a local caterer.  (I'm sorry that I have forgotten their name and will try to add it with a later update.)  Sunday found family and employees unpacking and stocking shelves and hauling a few more loads.  On Monday most of the day was spent unpacking and stocking shelves in the show room and organizing stacks in the warehouse. 

I think Bonnie has continually shifted a few things here and there to have it organized better to her liking there inside the showroom.  Plus, as new shipments of products are ordered and delivered, she and her crew have done a bit more shifting and moving.  Stephen and the crew got most of the feeds and big items stored in the warehouse organized right away.  He added some racks to allow for better stacking and storage as well.

I visited this week to see how things are running and took a few pictures of the new facility with business in action.

Remember these rows of shelving that Bonnie thought she wouldn't have enough product to fill?

Well, here is what they looked like earlier this week:
Store view as one enters the door

View from the back corner

The shelves are full from front to back, too! 

It is hard to believe that all of this stuff was crammed into that tiny little show room at the former location.  Plus, who knew there were so many kinds of horse shampoo, for example? 

There is plenty of space for an island display near the check-out counter.

Bonnie's mom made some cute little red gingham curtain valences to perk up the windows and create a homey atmosphere.  The counter is paneled with rough, weathered, barn lumber and the top is crafted from wide boards that have been smoothed and finished by a local cabinet-maker.  Even if the store wasn't large and spacious and clean and bright and cheerful, the counter, itself is a work of art!
Stephen and a customer

Even though he professes that working behind the counter and greeting customers isn't his favorite part of day-to-day business, Stephen does seem quite at home there.  More often, though, one is going to find him out in the warehouse taking care of pulling merchandise and loading customer's vehicles like the photo below shows.
Stephen pulling an order

He is pleased with the spaciousness of the warehouse and says that the set-up has made things far easier and more efficient.  Unloading the shipments goes much faster since the trucks can back up to the dock and he can drive right onto the truck with his tow-motor, lift a pallet, and place it where it should be stored in the warehouse.  There is no more stacking one product on top of another and stacking one pallet in front of another to conserve space. 
This part of the store looks pretty full to me, too!

Everything has a place and there is easy access.  So, providing quick customer service is a breeze.

Brad filling a customer's request

He and the guys can quickly circle around and pick up different bags and items, load them onto the two-wheel cart, and place them into the customer's vehicle.  New customers who didn't even know they existed a few short miles down the road have stopped in for a quick look and a purchase!

Even though things are new and gleaming, there is still that ambiance
of an old-time farm store.

Bonnie at the check-out counter

Of course, some things worked well at the former location, and those weren't changed at all.  There are still bulletin boards for folks to post livestock or equipment for sale or services available.  There are a few stools for customers to perch upon while double-checking their lists or signing a check. 

Bonnie at work

Bonnie's hard at work checking inventory and preparing to order more merchandise and is always at the ready to answer questions or help meet the customer's needs. 
Bonnie sharing a sassy smile!

We are still giddy with excitement even if our old joints and muscles are still recuperating from the hard work of helping them move.  (I'd be willing to bet their young muscles were a bit fatigued after the long weekend, too!)  I know that they have continually put in long hours beyond their regular open-and-close times to get things sorted and geared up for business.  I'm glad they are busy and have a steady stream of folks stopping in for their pet and livestock needs and I know they are thrilled as well.
Don't the smiles on their faces say it all?

If you have pet and livestock needs, don't hesitate to call and if you are in the neighborhood, stop in and browse a bit.  They will share those sunny smiles with you as well.
Bonnie's Barnyard