Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Is that Sun I See?

Today was the first "real" day of spring - with warm temperatures and sun! When I looked at my To Do list for today, it was filled with indoor chores - mostly clean up the Easter debris. Once I stepped outside and realized I didn't shiver those plans went right by the wayside. Today was definitely an outdoor, get dirty in the backyard kind of day. My youngest son helped to clean up all the fallen limbs in the orchard. The dead stuff that natures fury shakes loose each year. I am looking forward to putting to use my father's chipper. It's a blessing to have freinds and neighbors who are able and willing to help keep all the equipment in running order. I often joke about taking a small engine repair class - but you know, it's probably not a bad idea! With the increased cost of living I find I am much more motivated to "fix" and "make do" than I used to be. What a throw away society we have become! Little by little I am learning how to use, reuse, fix and repair and yes, go without. Funny, I don't feel deprived at all . . .

Monday, April 18, 2011

Conspiracy Theory - you betcha!

Is it possible that the oil spill in the gulf is responsible for the tornados in North Carolina? According to the weather channel, rising temperatures in the Gulf contributed to conditions necessary to create the storm front that hit the south this weekend. So how likely is it that the excess petroleum in the water had any affect on water temperature? The conspiracy theorist in me says, there's got to be a connection. Or maybe I'm just suspicious by nature.

Not to mention . . . our return trip from NC on Saturday was most unpleasant. Torrential rain from Virginia to our driveway. Not fun.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

This little piggie cried wee wee wee . . .

The pigs have arrived! Little by little my dream of creating a backyard farmyard is becoming a reality. It started with the chickens, then ducks, now PIGS! Thanks especially to our friends and neighbors who put in the fence and built a fabulous condo for the new residents. Couldn't have done it without all their help and advice. The plan is to raise the buggers using mostly scraps from The Family Foundation School kitchen, supplement with feed and ship them off the butcher in the fall. My long-range goal is to fence in the back meadow - creating four sections - and rotate the area with pigs, grass, and goats. I was absolutely amazed at how efficient the pigs are at turning the soil. I had read that pigs make great rotatillers, but until I saw them in action I had no idea how incredibly FAST they are at turning grubby grass into usable dirt.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Green Grows the Garden

Spring seems to be off to a slow start this year - the cold and snow just don't want to give up and go home. Nevertheless, I remain optimistic. I've started some seeds indoors - head lettuce (new to me this year), sweet bell peppers, bush beans and marigolds. The first tiny green sprouts are always such a delightful surprise to me.

This year I opted not to start tomato plants indoors. I really don't need that many and truth be told - I haven't had much luck with tomatoes. But I will keep trying!

Each year I add a little more to the garden. This year I added a pole bean tower which I hope will make harvesting the beans a little easier. I also am reusing an old trailer box as a raised bed. My intention is to plant potatoes in it. A friend gave me this advice - plant bush beans in with the potato plants and you'll get healthier potato plants. I'll give it a try.

I am using lots of shredded paper which I get in abundance from the office. I add it to my compost pile and use it as a mulch around the edges of the garden to keep the weeds out. I hope it will deter the wild mint that creeps under the fence and sprouts up everywhere.

I think what I like the most about this time of year is what I call the planning/dreaming/fantasizing phase of gardening. I walk around our property and although I see the brown tufts of grass, the furrows made throughout the winter by moles, windtossed branches and, of course, the mud - I am also seeing a verdant, green wonderland filled with wildflowers, apple blossoms, sunflowers and a vegetable garden overflowing with plenty.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Jumping Back In

I can tell that Spring is about to be sprung . . . I've got that urge to GET THINGS DONE. You know, that feeling that says it's time to get out from under the afghan I've been hibernating under all winter and PLANT THINGS. I ordered seeds today because I am nothing if not optimistic. It doesn't matter that I woke up this morning to another inch of snow. This time, I know it will melt. I can smell it in the air.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Morning in the Backyard

This morning I followed my usual routine:

  • let the dogs out 
  • let the dogs in 
  • feed the dogs 
  • pour coffee (Thank God for the blessing of a husband who makes it in the morning)
  • take said cup of coffee to the backyard and let the chickens out
  • feed the chickens be fascinated and stand there watching the chickens 

Walking back to the house I was struck by the light reflecting off the pond. My brain registered, albeit groggily (still hadn’t finished that cup of coffee), that there was a picture there of God’s awesome majesty. We didn’t make it to church this morning – but I was surely present in God’s Church this morning.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Enter Summer

As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer I find I am spending most of my time in my backyard - which really leaves little time for writing (blogging) about the backyard. The chicks arrived and spent the first two weeks in a brooder indoors. Although they were in the downstairs mudroom, I really couldn't tolerate the mess and moved them into their coop. Since it's still quite cool at night I wasn't sure if they would survive so I decided to run a power cord to the coop and use a heat lamp at night. They are definitely thriving. I plan to use a solar panel to run a light bulb and the electric netting, but haven't gotten the materials to do that yet.

The garden is in - such as it is. I started very small this year because I didn't want a huge project that would overwhem me my first time out there. So, I've got peas, peppers, squash, cucumber, tomato, beans, spinach, lettuce and radishes. I also put in some herbs - parsley, basil, chamomile, mint, chives, thyme and lemon balm. I am trying to create a space that will produce enough produce to supliment our diet and also provide an outdoor "room" that is pleasing to spend time in. In other words, it isn't just rows of planted vegetables. There's a touch of whimsy too. For instance, the birdhouses that my children made and painted. I didn't get them put where I wanted them - they're just sitting on the wall of the compost bin, but the blue birds don't care - they moved in anyway! I love watching them. I didn't know that they were an irridescent blue. Right now there are five newly hatched chicks in the house. I hope other birds don't kick them out - I've heard that can happen to blue birds sometimes.

I spend lots of time mowing grass -- can't wait to get goats! The apple trees are doing well. I keep a close eye on the new ones I planted and the grafts on the old trees that my dad put there. I will have to do some serious pruning this winter.

All in all, life in the backyard is good - the pool is open, we hosted our first "big" party of the season (graduation party for Family School Students), and there's plenty of flora and fauna to remind me who's really running things!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Spring is quickly turning into summer - only 5 more weeks of school left for John, Rachael & Michael. Remember anticipating summer vacation? And how long the summer was when all you had to do was play on the swings, swim in the creek and ride your bike? I remember eagerly we anticipated the fire works on July 4th. Now, the 4th of July falls on the first weekend of summer. So maybe it isn't my imagination - summer really IS shorter than it used to be!

The chicks have arrived! I ordered 25 mixed breeds (Rainbow layers) from McMurray http://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/index.html. So far, we lost one to natural causes and two to an accident wtih a sword (don't ask!). I find myself mesmerized by their movements and sounds and can sit and watch them for long periods of time. The dogs reactions have been interesting too - Copper tries to move them from one side of the brooder to the other, and Pippin whines and tries to get my attention - he doesn't like it when I look at them.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Spring Rain

The weather forecast calls for rain the rest of the week. This gives me time to recount what's been happening in my backyard this Spring.

Ducks: Our pond was visited by three couples early this spring. Not sure what breed, but the males were a brilliant white.

Apple blossoms: The trees didn't burst into bloom all at the same time like they do some years. But the hard frost we got in early May came after the blossoms were almost gone. Hopefully this means there will be plenty of apples for cider this fall.

Grass: Mowing season has begun. Several years ago I did a search on itunes for John Deere tractor songs. You'd be amazed just how many of them there are! One of the artists I discovered is a folk singer Chris Williamson and she sings a song about a woman riding on her John Deere.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Poems and Purple flip flops

Spring has come to upstate NY - glorious in it's rain showers, emerging buds, green just bursting from everything and all the delicate spring flowers everywhere. Some day I will learn what they each are.

I saw a poem yesterday -- well, not exactly a poem as it wasn't written. It was a picture that should be a poem. Purple flip flops in the grass -- kicked off by the exuberant feet of my daughter as she soared into the blue May sky on a swing. She's almost 11 and the sight was so precious it hurt to watch. I was so aware of the dwindling time she will spend on that swing set. The one where we've spent so many hours - singing and swinging. I could almost hear the cadence of the poem that would go with that sight - can't you?

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