Monday, November 3, 2014

Project Assistants

...Or rather not.
For my class, I needed to assemble a collection of weed samples and correctly identify them. In order to get good pictures, I headed outside since my camera likes light. The only problem with working outside is that you are suddenly in cat territory - especially if you work on the porch. They seem to gravitate there. 
The fat cat thought that it would behoove her to roll around in my samples. 

The half-blind one was content enough to just watch me work. Rather... sleep while I work. This cat has the right idea about life. :P 

But at least they stayed out of my 'working zone.'

The huntress couldn't stay away from my cheap studio set-up. She even had the nerve to get comfortable right smack-dab on top of my samples.
'Dis plant - I like it.'   
Strangely enough, there weren't any samples of cat mint. 

Until next time!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Blustery Day

I haven't been able to do much work in the garden between work, sewing commissions, and homework. But we had a pretty decent wind storm on Saturday afternoon, so I thought that I should make sure that none of my potted plants hadn't tipped over. I go to check on plants, and I end up finding a broken tabletop and a fallen chandelier. Phooey. How am I supposed to clean that up?
Honestly though, I'm surprised that there wasn't more damage to my garden. 

Unless gravity reversed itself, I don't think that the chandelier is supposed to be on the floor. :Le' sigh:
And the glass was pretty darn thick. Not tempered though. Now there's glass shards everywhere. No more barefoot gardening (I guess I could, but that's one trip to the doctor's office that I don't want). 

So I took advantage of the lovely weather that we had today (and it just so happened to be my day off! Love how that all lined up), and I cleaned the pergola. All that's left for glass clean-up is taking a shop vac to the area to get the super teeny tiny pieces that I couldn't pick up by hand. 

Also while I was busy working and homeworking (yes, that's a word now), the weeds decided that it was the prime opportunity to take over. Apparently it's therapy time. Here's how things looked before I got my hands dirty.  

And after: 
The soil is wonderfully moist and soft now, so weed pulling is a breeze! And I used my favorite tool: the hula-hoe. Now my plants don't have to compete with the invaders and can focus on growing. 

Until next time!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Finding My Place

I'm finally doing it - going to college! I've had to put this off for too many years, and now that I'm finally feeling good and up to doing things, I can actually consider driving to and taking classes.

Throughout the years, I've been playing with wanting to do various programs and different colleges, but I've never felt good enough to do much of anything or that they weren't for me. Maybe this time was for really pinpointing what I'm supposed to do and where God wants me to be, where I'm going to attend school, what I want to study, etc. 

This past summer has really shown me where I can thrive - in the dirt. :P I was looking at the Urban Agriculture program at a local community college for a little while, but I just tucked it into the back of my mind for another day. Then I got the job at the farm store down the road from my house. My favorite part of the job is all the work I get to do in the greenhouse(s). Yes, it's stuffy and humid and hot, but I get to work with plants and get my hands dirty. I've unknowingly become the 'plant girl' since day one, and if neither of my bosses are around to answer questions, customers are directed to me. Now, I am FAR from being the all-knowing horticulturalist, but if you have questions, I just might be able to answer them (or look them up on the internet). Where I'm supposed to do has become more and more clear to me throughout the summer -  it's time to start the farming program. 

So I applied to the college, took the placement test (which landed me exactly where I needed to be for the program), and registered for classes. The best part so far in all of this was ordering books, rather, getting all the books. For six credits this feels like a lot of books.  
But they look amazing! (Yes, I've quickly read through all of them already). 
Needless to say, I'm really excited about all of this. :) 

This has all has felt rather like Rapunzel getting out of her tower for the first time, but instead of a super-imposing 'parent' keeping me back, it's been my health. If I start singing 'That's When My Life Begins,' you now know why. :P 

Until next time!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Frenchman's Pancakes

 At work, I've been meeting people from all over the world. I've met folks from Tasmania, Australia, England, Scotland, India, Pakistan, China, South Korea, France, Germany, etc, etc, etc... You get the point. ;) If they're visiting the states, you introduce them to the wonderful local specialties (aka - berries) If they're immigrants, it's always fun to hear what they do with the fresh produce to recreate the cuisine from their country. 
One Frenchman picked a bucketful of berries to make special pancakes. As he described them, I began to feel hungry even though I had just eaten lunch. Lemon peel, blueberries, and lavender honey. Apparently we don't have real lavender honey in the states though. In France, there are hills upon hills of lavender with bee hives in the fields. Over here, the closest thing we have it lavender infused honey. Oh well. After practically drooling over the thought of these pancakes, I knew that I had to try to make my own. Thankfully it was lavender season still, so I was able to get some of our lavender infused honey from the lavender farm down the road before they closed for the season. But life happened and I wasn't able to get around to making these special pancakes until today. 
All you have to do is make a basic pancake recipe (I used Elana Amderstam's with minor alterations), add the zest of one lemon, some lemon extract to taste, and voila! You have lemon pancakes. When you start cooking them up, you toss on a few blueberries before flipping them over. It's not my sort of cooking until the smoke detector goes off in the laundry room. Guess what started blaring in the middle of my cooking session. 

Top it all off with a pat of butter and a drizzle of lavender honey. At least, the American equivalent of it. ;) 
One thing I learned in all of this... I'm not a very good food photographer. :P 

But it tasted :really: good, and that is all that matters. 

Until next time!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Herb Garden: Furnishing

No, that did not read 'finishing.' I'm still a LONG way from that. Then again, is a garden ever 'finished?' 

A long while ago, we were out antiquing (yes, we like to do that), and we spotted this table set that had a lot of potential. Granted, the paint had all been chipped off, the seats didn't have any sort of covering, and the glass table top was rather... opaque. It was a diamond in the rough. Some spray paint later, it was stored in the basement until we actually got the herb garden in, and there it sat for many years. 
Now that we have the pergola up, I thought, 'Hey, we could bring that out of its dark cavern and actually use it while we're out in the garden!' I just needed to cover the seats. Oddly enough, Joann's was having a sale on outdoor fabric. BOOM! Some left over batting, gorgeous teal striped fabric, and a staple gun later, I had a completed table set. The table top just needed a rag and some rinsing. 
And now we have somewhere to sit in the shade while...hardly working. :P

Until next time!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Herb Garden: Let There be Light!

No outdoor setting would be complete without some fun lights! :) 

I found these awesome solar/LED/battery operated/light sensing hanging jars at the store. And they were on sale. SCORE! The solar panels on the lid collect the sun's energy and store it in a rechargeable battery that then powers the LED light once the sun goes down. Pretty cool, huh?
BUT... I still wanted a chandelier. :P
I scouted craigslist to no avail. I knew what sort of light I wanted, but I couldn't find anything that fit the bill. If I were to buy one new, it would be much more than I intended. Then, I stopped by the repurposing place in town. There it sat, rather, hung. I will confess that I wanted to jump up and down very excitedly. My sister kept me in check. :P 

But the idea of running electricity through an indoor chandelier in an outdoor setting wasn't settling well. Even though it became a family event that turned into a comedy show, we finally figured out how to crack open a chandelier and pull out the wires. Once you take the electricity out, how will it light? Again solar technology. And an idea that I found on Pinterest. :P Solar path lights to the rescue! At $3 a pop, the price was right.  
No, that annoying stake isn't permanently attached.  

Stick the lights onto the chandelier, and... 

I'm actually rather surprised that it all worked out and looks like it's supposed to go together. ;) 

Until next time!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Herb Garden: Retaining Wall

Because of the slope on the property, the west side of the pergola was rather steep. To remedy this problem, Dad suggested that we put in a retaining wall to prevent a land slide. 
I was surprised at how quickly my brother put it in. I think he has a future in masonry. :P 

Until next time!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sweet Susie

The summer days go on, and our little Susie is getting bigger every day. 

Little trouble-maker knows where the good stuff is.

My little garden buddy. Just need to make sure that she doesn't eat the marionberry and wisteria. ;) 

Herb Garden: Building the Pergola

Funny how a kink in your back will stop you in your tracks. With all the gardening that I've been doing - rather... dirt moving, rock hauling, sand shuffling, more dirt moving, compost mixing, etc... my back has decided that it's time to see the chiropractor. ;) So, while I'm giving my back a break, I'll catch you up, step by step, of all that we've been doing to the latest addition to the property - the herb garden! 

I've been scheming and planning for years, and all those thoughts and ideas have jumped from paper into the real realm. The herb garden is actually going in! 

But first things first. Gotta get that hardscaping in. Don't want to run over your plants with a tractor. ;) 
So Dad graded the plot with the tractor, then he and Jake built a pergola. And quite the lovely pergola at that. 
Some friends of ours wanted to come out and help on the farm, so we put them to work with the floor. They leveled everything out, put sand down, leveled that out, figured out the brick pattern, and went to town with it all. Honestly though, the most tedious part of paver laying is the prep work. Once you get going though, the pace picks up. Until you run out of bricks. Which happened just a few rows shy of the entire floor. Back to the home improvement store we went!
Where was I in all of this? 
At my job. 
Otherwise I would have been working in the garden. That's where you'll find me these days. ^_^ 
They did a mighty fine job, if I do say so myself. :) 

Next up - Retaining wall!

Until next time!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Garden Harvest: Peas

Even though I got the seeds in the ground very late, I still got enough to have a mini feast.  
Don't worry. I shared. :P  
How does your garden grow?

Until next time!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Blueberry Picking

Our blueberry patch is finally producing enough for us to put away berries from our own yard! For years and years we've waited for our hundred or so bushes to actually yield a crop. That time has finally come. 
This last spring we really tried to get on the band wagon when it came to weeding and mulching the bushes so that they wouldn't compete with weeds throughout the summer. We're now enjoying the fruits of our labor. Literally. ;)  

Until next time!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Strawberries, Veggies, and Spaghetti Squash, Oh My!

The strawberries that we 'planted' are in full swing now! 
I use the word 'planted' in a weird sense... Because of everything else going on at the time that the berries arrived via mail, we weren't able to put them where they're supposed to go. Instead, they landed in the compost pile. They're certainly not complaining about their temporary home though!

Aren't they gorgeous berries! I ate them right after they posed for their picture. 

And our blackberries survived frostbite! They also landed in the compost pile, but then we had some freezing nights. We thought that we had lost them, but they've made quite the comeback! 

We've also gotten the beginnings of a garden started. The peas sprouted beautifully, but the beans... not so much. Granted, we used old seeds. 

And now for something that I'm super stoked about - spaghetti squash! But not just any spaghetti squash, spaghetti squash that some friends of mine had traded with us for chickens. Since the squash was amazing, I saved the seeds and got them in the ground when things were finally warm enough. I can't wait to enjoy these later this year! And yes, I planted mound after mound of these guys. Spaghetti squash is my favorite gourd.  

And of course, Dad needs to have his row of corn. ;) 

Until next time!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A June Morning

And a way to update you as to what we've been up to. :) Be prepared for a wordy and picture-heavy post.

Remember Suzie 'Snicklefritz' Derkins, our house goat? 

Well, these are her brothers 

And we thought that we had our hands full with three new babies. 

As Suzie became stronger and more sure of herself, she became too much for the house. She was practically jumping off the walls and onto the furniture. And she needed to either be potty trained or wear a diaper. We decided that it was time for the goober to join the herd. Once she adjusted to life out in the barn, she found that she wouldn't get into trouble for doing goat things. ;)  

Then, to finish off our horrid kidding season, Jill had quadruplets. o.O 
We were keeping an eye on her all day Thursday since she had been baa-ing incessantly (one of the labor signs to watch for). We figured that since she was acting just fine that she was a ways off from actually kidding. Lo-and-behold, we went out to do chores and there was a baby. From that point on, it happened fast. Emi ran into the house to grab more towels. There were only two kids then. By the time she got back with the rags, there were two more. :P When all was said and done, there were two boys and two girls. All were healthy and ready to greet the world. 

I love this girl's floppy ears! I have no idea where that came from. 

Another one of the quads

And then the other two. 

Like I said, we thought our hands were full with three kids. Now we have seven. :P 

In other non-goat related news, the swallows have built their nest in the barn, lined it with all sorts of soft down feathers and warm undercoats, and have successfully hatched their brood as of :counts fingers: yesterday. 
They're rather sassy little birds

Sleepy Calvin and Hobbes. It's the only time I can get a picture of those two; they're in constant motion!

We're not going to have baby geese this year... Taffy started laying her clutch in January, right in the middle of a really deep freeze. As time wore on, she laid her eggs, but never showed any interest in them. Now we need to find a good place to get rid of the rotten eggs. 

Suzy truly believes that she is a human. She'll follow us, hang out with us, garden with us, cling to us... You get the picture. ;) She's quite the sweetheart though. 

Now, these three boys...  
Loki, Thor, and Samwise. They could be renamed to Casanova, Romeo, and Fabio. :P Since they're still intact bucks, they have reached the age where they can no longer be with the girls, if you catch my drift. So they've been relocated to a different pasture. As we were pulling in from a concert last night, we saw that two of them were standing on a chicken tractor. But where was Loki? Maybe he just couldn't jump up onto the mobile poultry house? Nope. He had figured out how to escape and get back to the barn. Of course it would be Loki that figured that out. :P 

Anyways... That's it for now!
Until next time!