Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Strangest Thing!

This morning I discovered something that I have never seen before.  It truly was the strangest thing.  The kids and I decided that we were hungry for some fresh pumpkin muffins, so we chose our "bumpy" pumpkin (it is a Super Freak) that we got from my sister, seeing as all our pumpkins didn't do much this year.   I went to cut it open to bake it and.... saw the strangest thing. 

The silly thing started to germinate inside itself.  I have never seen or even heard of that happening.  As I cleaned it out the sprouts were amazingly long.

Being the "let's try an experiment" type of person, I selected 4 of the shortest sprouts.
Found a nice pot, and planted them.  I know it is a small pot, but all my big ones are currently put away in the barn for the winter.  If any of these silly things survive, I'll go dig up a bigger home for them.

 God's creation sure has a way of surprising us when we least expect it.  That is what I love so much about this time of year.  Seeing God in the smallest things, life in the strangest places and love everywhere. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bee in the Freezer

No, I did not put a real bee in the freezer.  Our roo, Bumblebee, met the butcher block today.  He had taken on a bit of an attitude and seemed to enjoy attacking all members of our family.  Time to do with him what was intended from the start.  I have to admitt that I had never butchered a chicken before.  Scott has done a lot of ducks and turkeys over the years, but he was heading out for the late doe only season with his brother, so I tackeled this one alone.  What a process!  I do hope that it will get easier with practice and with a future chicken plucker (to be built next summer).  I started hand plucking (we have been saving feathers for my mom and her craftiness), then just decided to skin him.  Personally I don't like to eat chicken skin, but Scott does.  I guess I win this time, I just went for quick.  Now he is resting comfortably in the freezer until we decide to have him for supper.  I didn't weigh him, but he was good sized.  Next spring we are thinking about getting a bunch of meat chicks.  We shall see how things goes, but I really like the idea of raising and hunting our own meat. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Lazy Lucy No More!

Adin with Lucy's first egg.  So excited!
On November 9 my lovely Lucy started laying and has been so faithful ever since.  One of her sisters started laying a week and a half later and since then the rest of the girls have followed Lucy's lead.  We have been averaging 4-6 eggs daily, which has been pretty cool.  A good share of those eggs have been double yolkers.  Not sure if that is just a product of the girls being new layers or not, but the kids sure have fun checking all the "huge" eggs to see if they are double yolkers.  I guess "twins" run in our family even more.  :)  Adin keeps asking if we will get triple yolkers, I don't really think it would happen, but it would be pretty cool. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Autumn Aroma

Since September 1, I have been teaching preschool at the sister Day Care/Preschool to the one that I used to work at and that my kids go to.  I love it!  Anyway, this week we are talking about our senses and yesterday we went on a "smelling walk."  While we were on the walk (through town) it brought me back to why I truly love Autumn, the smells. 

Growing up on a decent sized farm (in those days) in west central Wisconsin, there were so many wonderful and not so wonderful smells come autumn.  Most of what I remember are wonderful.  The most distinct is the smell of silage.  For those who aren't familiar with it, it is chopped up corn (stalks and all) and deposited into a pit silo (at least on our farm) and then covered with black plastic and old tires to hold the plastic down.  To me, that is a wonderful and inviting smell that says "home!"  My second favorite smell of autumn is of the drying and falling leaves and fortunately I can still smell that here on our little corner of the world.  There is also the smell of apples, pumpkins baking and other canning/baking that happens in the autumn.  This time of year is just so aromatically pleasing.  What are some of your favorite autumn aromas?

This fall has been busy for all of us here on our corner of the world.  Trying to get the garden put to bed, things canned and preserved, project to-do lists done, duck boat up and running, getting hunting licenses and bow target practises, getting kids to school and preschool, teaching preschool and just spending time together that I have not been on the computer.  Yikes.  I can't say that the next few months will be much different, as we are in the "hunting season" time of year that runs from Sept 1-mid December, and as our meat freezer is getting empty we have to organize our priorities.  Wish us luck in filling it.  :)

Oh - update on our lazy chickens.  Well they are still lazy as there hasn't been an egg found.  At what age do chickens usually start laying?  I thought it would be by now, but then I heard somewhere that Buffs don't lay until they are 5 months old (that isn't until November - yikes).  Anyone know about Leghorns, Dominics and Redstars?  I do know that Bumblebee won't be laying, but if he doesn't be nice, he will become dinner.  He has gotten such an attitude lately.  Boys!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Feathered Friends with Attitudes

Today our feathered friends discovered my garden! You may be wondering how said chickens would get into the Fort Knox that is my garden?  Well, let me tell you!  You see, when dh was building the fence for the garden (which he did a marvelous job on) one thing got off kilter and that the was the measurement for the door and gate.  The hole is a bit bigger than needed for our recycled gate, big enough for furry beagles and said chickens to get through.  We have talked about putting a 4x4 in there to block the gap, but we just have too many projects going and no 4x4 and no extra money so that is on the back burner.  Ugh. 

I don't mind if they are in there eating mosquitoes, as there are an abundance that call my garden home.  I was reminded of that as I was picking beans this evening to can, but I don't like the trails that they are making through my bean bed and other beds.  The pooh is great for the soil also, I just wish they would stay between the rows.  Is that too much to ask?  As long as they leave what is left of my wimpy tomatoes alone, I won't put them on the supper menu yet. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Carrot Manicure

Today has been a day of canning.  I received a good chunk of HUGE carrots from a friend and I decided to try canning them.  My vintage pressure canner only does 4 pints at a time so this took awhile.  After a morning of cleaning, cutting and canning 11 pints of carrots my nails and hands have this strange new orange glow to them.  I must say it is different and not something I plan on sporting come Monday at the new job.

Yes, I said new job.  After a year of being an assistant teacher at the day care that my kids go to, I am moving on to the new center that my boss bought this last spring as the lead preschool teacher.  I am looking forward to this new challenge of new kids and parents, new setting and planning curriculum.  My kids are not sure they like the idea, but this means I get 40 hrs. a week and more income which helps during this very lean time.  The extra income also is a + now that our wonderful (not) Governor's budget crap has taken effect. Wonderful.  What is a family to do in their little corner of the world?  I guess I'll make some spaghetti sauce to store up and save.

Seeing as how my tomatoes that I had such high hopes for this summer have been plagued by to much rain at times, to much heat and cold at different points in there lives, blight and little chipmunks who like to each almost ripe fruit have petered out on me I am not sure how much sauce I am going to be able to put away this year.  Holy run on sentence.  My sister would be appalled.  Sorry but I don't care, I just tend to type how my brain thinks sometimes.  Anyway, I have finally been able to start my first batch of spaghetti sauce this afternoon and I am excited.  Right now it is simmering away and the house smells wonderful.  If I had access to about 16 gallons of tomatoes I would be set for spaghetti sauce for the year.  Yeah, that would be about 40 quarts of sauce when all said and done.  You would think we were Italian the way we eat spaghetti, nope, Norwegian, Danish and Chinese. 

With the last 30 minutes of simmering I am going to start warming up my BWB canner.  Happy farming, gardening, canning or what ever you do to pass the time. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lone Eggplant

So I tried growing Eggplants for the first year this year and I have had many beautiful blooms, but only one became an Eggplant.  It is quite nice, but now I need to know how to fix it?  Anyone out there in blogger land have any ideas?  I am not even sure if I like eggplant, but here goes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Something in the Air?

I don't know what is going on, but all my kids are misbehaving today, feather ones and all.  The three were just pills today all day from the moment they got up until they fell asleep.  The chickens were crazy also.  Normally they all head for bed and supper around 7 pm if not earlier, but not tonight.  I topped off their feeder and water, and they did not listen so I gave them another 30 minutes.  Then I headed back out and they just scattered into all corners of our little corner.  Uff Da!  After another 30 minutes or more, Scott had to come out to help me round up the troops, we were both exhausted from the day and wanted to head to bed.  Finally they listened.  I felt like I was putting 2 year olds to bed again.  Thank goodness I only had 2 of those at one time and not 7.  Now to head to bed after our chicken chasing.  Night all.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Stump Moving

Today after work, Scott and I put the 4-Wheeler to work moving stumps.  As Scott has been clearing out the east end of the barn, he has had to dig up a ton of stumps and not all of them are little.  Some of them have had to be winched out and some rolled one flop at a time with the wheeler.  Tonight we put the wheeler to the test and drug them all out into the woods and out of site.  I was impressed that the wheeler was finally able to pull them all.  The big ones have dried out a bit so I think that helped.  I have also discovered a new way to plow up the soil - just hook up a root ball of a big oak and drag.  It turns up the soil nicely.  I really don't think that I'll be using that method though.  At least we have have them out of site.  :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011


So far this month I have been pretty absent from my blog.  This absence has not been by choice, but controlled by time, sickness, Internet/computer problems and life in general.  I hope that I am able to be back at it now that school will be starting 2 weeks from today and the weather/heat is beginning to be manageable.  Lots of things have been happening here on our little corner of the world.  The most recent is that Adin has now lost his first tooth.  Pretty exciting.  I have found him in the bathroom looking into the mirror smiling and sticking his tongue through the hole where his tooth once was.  He is such a goof. 

I have been trying to do a lot of canning (beans, strawberry and blackberry jams, pickles and chicken broth) but more needs to be happening in the next few days.  I was hoping by now that I would have a batch or two of spaghetti sauce done, but the heat has done a number on my tomato plants.  We have some, but the plants look awful and the tomatoes are just now starting to blush.  I have a long way to go. 

Scott has been doing a lot of wood cutting on public land with his dead and down permit.  With what he harvested on our land this spring and the down wood elsewhere we have enough for this year.  Now he just wants to get ahead.  From the storms on July 1, we have enough trees down on our 20 for a full year also, but that is still green and we won't harvest that until next spring.  I do have to say that I miss the "hot" water from the boiler.  Having the hot water heater plugged in again is just not efficient and it takes forever to get hot water to the tap.  When the boiler is running, it is HOT right away, no waiting or wasting water.  I like that.  All in good time. 

Some sad news to report, our Lionhead bunny Amy passed away a couple of weeks ago.  Not sure what happened, but Adin took it pretty hard. 

On a fun note, our feathered friends are getting pretty big and much more curious when they are out free ranging (which is everyday while we are home).  Their new favorite place to hang out is the kid's playset/sandbox/swings/climber.  They are always over there climbing around on stuff and scratching in the sandbox.  Bumblebee (our Red Star Rooster) has taken a liking to Adin's tonka dump truck.  He likes to sit in the back.  I am still trying to get pictures, but I don't have a zoom on my phone and I don't have a good camera other than that.  Maybe one of these days I'll be able to sneak up on them.  :)  It really is funny and the kids love it when they come to play with them in the sandbox. 

Well the day is getting late and work is early tomorrow so I bid you all a happy night.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lil' Britches

Adin all dressed in his whites.
 Sunday Morning was an exciting day for all of us.  The show wasn't until 1 pm that afternoon, but the kids were stoked and so were the adults.  Adin thought that he should dress in his show whites right away.  NOT!  As any mom of 5 year old boys know, white doesn't last long. 

We spent the first part of the day looking at exhibits and usual fair stuff.  We ran into old friends who we haven't seen in 15+ years for some of them.  Way to long.  When the time came I let Adin get ready and boy was he excited.  From that moment he was Mr. Professional and took the showing very seriously.

Watering Lally.

Lil' Britches started long ago, I can't even remember when, but Nessa was it when she was little.  It was created to promote the Dairy industry and help get youth who were too young for the Jr. Show interested in dairy and showing.  I remember the first few years it only having a handful of kids.  Boy do thing change.  There were so many kids who took part this year.  It was fabulous.  One of the cool things was to see the kids of many of people we used to show with participating.  Oh the memories!

Adin talking to the "judge", MC Dennis Frame
who is also a dear friend and mentor from the past
when I was showing.

As Dennis, "The Judge" talked to each child asking them different questions about the animal, or their parents, ect. he had a chance to walk us all down memory lane and pick on us, his old 4-H dairy and Jr. Holstein kids. 

Adin and Rachel waiting to see the "judge."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Show Day at the Fair

Oh the memories. They all came flooding back as the alarm went off at 4:00 AM today. Today it was only to watch my youngest cousin show cattle for the last time as part of the Jr. show at the Trempealeau Co. Fair, but back in the day.... I was the one showing. 

This morning as I packed up the kids, still sleeping, and started my 4.5 -5 hour drive I thought of what all was part of the Friday morning show day prep.  My sis and I were always up early with feeding and washing our animals, cleaning of the barn and lots of primping (the animals - not us).  The primping included lots of time on top lines, blendings, tails and what not.  My sister really became master of the top line, I was good, but not as good as her.  Time was spent milking wifferent quarters on the cows to balance the udder just right, fortunately our cows were pretty balanced to start with.  Then it was a waiting game, keep the cattle clean and wait.  When the time came we dressed in our whites and away we went.  Oh the memories!

Nessa did fabulous with her two heffers.  On her fall yearling she got a 1st blue and on her fall calf she got a 1st blue, Junior Champion Holstein, Supreme Junior Champion and 1st place Sr. Showmanship.  We were all so excited for her.  Adin was beside himself knowing that on Sunday, he would be showing Nessa's winning calf for Lil' Britches Showmanship.  Sunday can't come fast enough for Adin.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bean Race Begins

Last year when my green beans started, they didn't stop.  They just kept right on producing and it was a race to keep up with them.  The race is on once again.  This year I have both Green and Wax beans planted together so it is fun seeing the beautiful yellow mixed in with the green. 

This morning I picked what was ready and left tons of little beans to continue to grow for later harvests and these work-horse plants are still flowering also.  I love it.  I had just over 2 pints of beans to can this morning so I let the girls eat the extras that just wouldn't fit in the jars.  They were happy with that outcome and were asking for more.  I am guessing I'll be doing small batches of bean canning every couple of days to keep up, which is just fine with me.  I love canning and can't wait for the tomatoes to ripen so I can start making spaghetti sauce.

Ever since the storm and after living through the "aftermath" I have been pretty particular about wasting water.  I had left over water from boiling the beans and filling the jars this morning, so I decided to cool it off and use it to water some of my container veggies.  I figure it can't hurt them and any nutrients lost in the water during the brief boiling process can go back into the soil for the other plants to use - instant compost.  Best of both worlds. 

I am still blogging at the Library, so sorry no pictures yet. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Library Blogging

Well, here I sit at our local library, blogging.  Our internet is still not working and now I am beginning to wonder if the storm didn't fry my modem or something.  I didn't have the phone line hooked up for some strange reason that night, but who knows. Ah the world of technology. 

A few Tuesday tid bits that I have missed over the last few days.
* The chickies got to come out and do some free ranging - although they didn't venture more than a foot from the coop.  They did partake in a very exciting dust bath.  Oh how cute were they.  I have pictures, but can't upload them from here.  Sorry.

*My beans are close to being ready, I should be able to pick and can a bunch in the next couple of days.

*I have tons of baby tomatoes all throughout the garden, as well as baby cucumbers and more baby zucchini.

*I discovered some more "volunteers" in the garden.  Lots of tomatoes and one lone watermelon from last year.  We'll see if it amounts to anything. 

*And last but not least, my 2nd year carrot is looking nice and the flower heads are beautiful.  It is huge and needs to be staked.

Well, my time here is almost up so I best be getting home.  Until next time - happy gardening, preserving or what ever makes you happy.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Missed the Strawberries

I have been calling the "Berry Line" for a  local "U-pick" to get in on the prime picking for many weeks now (things were running late), and now I have missed it.  The picking season was very short this year.  The prime picking was right after the storm and I could have picked, but would not have been able to process them.  So fortunately they was a special at our local grocery so we picked up a bunch and I got to making jam.

I have never made strawberry jam by my self, but helped my mom and Grandmother's a lot in the past.  I always remember squashing berries in a bowl with the bottom of a glass.  Not this year... I used my food processor.  I loved it, it went so quickly.  I have now canned 2 batches and still have 2 lbs of berries in the fridge.  I think I'll freeze 1 lb as is and eat the other fresh.  The kids love berries, along with veggies and all that.

I also picked what was ready of my sugar snap peas and froze them as well. 

Today I have been thinking a lot about my Bumpa (my Dad's Dad).  It was 10 years ago today that he passed away.  He was a good old Norwegian farmer, who loved family, reading, brownshwager (if that is how you spell it), playing cards and striped overhauls.  I had the blessing of being there when he passed with my Grandmother and my eldest Aunt.  It was very difficult, but I got to say good-bye and that it was time for him to shave (that was always a long standing joke between us.)  I am glad I was there.  I love you Bumpa.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

When it is Hot, Head Below Ground

Today is nasty, and that is an understatement.  It is so ishy outside that I do not even want to step foot out side, so I decided to head underground.  Too hot to be in the garden, let's finish painting the root cellar.  After a few coats and a few breaks (to get out of the smell) and lots of help from Adin it is a beautiful bright white.  Now we just have to put in the flooring and some shelves and we are set for storage. 

Yesterday (when it was nice and cool and a beautiful day) the kids and I did a ton of weeding and pea picking.  My shelling peas were just about past their prime (do to the fact that the storm set me back) so we picked them all and pulled the plants and Adin and I commenced the shelling process.  He is a good little sheller, granted a few of them got away and were rescued by Maya.  She loves fresh veggies.  I came up with 24 oz. and after canning them I had 2.5 pints.  Very fun.  Now to head to bed, it was a long hot day.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Aftermath - Day 8

Even though we have power, there are still a ton of people here in our area that do not have power.  Some are saying that it may still be 2-4 more weeks.  I am very thankful for us, but very sad for those who are still without power.

Things around here are starting to get back to normal.  My garden is beginning to recover, which is good.  I will be doing a lot of work in it this weekend.  Not much more to post now as I am still blogging on my phone.  UGH!  

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I got home from work today to hear a strange sound... I asked myself what it was and low and behold... it was the AC.  That meant we had power!!!!  I didn't know what to do first; take a shower, do laundry, flush the toilet or water the garden.  It was the most wonderful thing ever.  I had a very busy night re-scrubbing out the fridge/freezer and cleaning up.  The most wonderful thing was to take a shower.

I am still remote blogging because our internet is still not working.  No fun.  More later..

The Aftermath-Day 6

Not much new to report. It is still hot, dry and still no power. The kids are getting crabby a bit and bathing in lake water is getting a bit, well let's just say I am ready for a modern shower.

It is nice to not be using electricity but we have to use gas for the generator. Rain in the forcast for tomorrow. I am praying it actually shows up because the garden needs it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Aftermath-Day 5

The news on the street is that maybe Friday we might have power, we'll see. Not sure of what is happening out there in the rest of the world, but maybe that is ok. Life on our courner is simpler.

It was supposed to rain today, but it all went south. Dang. My garden needs water! My compost barrel got lots of great things this week that were cleaned out of the fridge and small freezer. At least we'll benefit from it down the road.

On a happy note: I have baby zucchini. I'll post pics when we get power. They are so cute and I am looking forward to eating them. Happy gardening all, enjoy your water. I miss ours a bit. :)

Mobil Blogging

As we approach hour 84 without power things start to get old. For one, blogging on my iPhone is interesting. I have never been a texter so typing on this little thing leads to lots of spelling errors, sorry, and just takes time.

We have gone from the buzz of chain saws (some still going) to the hum of generators. Today will be an old fashioned laundry day. They are now saying that maybe by the end of the week for power but they don't know. They aren't even to the point of working on residential power yet. One area they are saying 4 weeks til power. Yikes. Glad we don't live there.

We are surviving and with rain in the forcast for today my garden will be happy too.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Force of Nature and Powerless Feeling it Can Leave

On Friday evening around 6 pmish the sky turned green, a gailforce wind blew and torrents of rain fell. We were visiting my parents at their camper on Lake 26 as we picked up the kids and ran for the bath house. There were my parents, my sister and brother-in-law, 2 nephews, my 3 kids and I waiting out the storm in the concrete building.

At first I was flooded with memories of day gone by when I used to work at camp and would be huddled in that very same building with fellow staff and camper waiting out a storm. Then I began to think about home, what was happening there, only 7 miles or so to the southwest. I tried calling Scott, who was working dispatch and could not get through. Little did I know that the damage and distruction was county wide and cell towers along with most power lines went down.

After the first wave of storms we decided to head for home but could not even get half way due to powerlines and trees down. You can only drive in so many ditches. So we headed back to camp and took refuge in the Lodge with the summer staff that had hung around for the weekend. The kids thought it was great, they got to "camp out" and stay up late.

I didn't hear from Scott intill about 2:30 or so on Sunday morning. He was supposed to work until 8 on Friday night, but didn't leave intil midnight. He managed to get home quick, check on the animals and the place and headed back to work then and got a couple of hours of sleep before he had to work again at 6. I have one tired Hubby! I am so thankful that we cut down all the big old oaks that were so close to the house last spring or we would have been in a world of hurt.

When the sun came up on Saturday we could really see the damage. Some place they are saying 7-10 days before we get our power back. I began to worry about our freezers full of venison and Scott's taxidermy projects. "How can we make it a week without loosing everything?". I didn't know. I sent out a facebook plea for anyone with a generator that they were not using and within 5 minutes a friend of mine from the Cities had one for me, I just had to meet her halfway on Sunday. So after 44 hours with no power, I got that beautiful gennie up and running by my self, transfered the contents of 2 freezers into the third chest freezer and away we went. God bless good friends, social media and a 3 hours trip to get the generator. We did loose most of the contents of the fridge/freezer, but what can you do?

It feels like we are camping in our own house or really getting "Back to our Roots." We are cooking over a fire or grilling, getting water from a hand pump 7 miles away at camp. I am so glad that I still had all my milk jugs from sugaring. I just wish we had an outhouse here. I know - funny wish - but it would be easier than haulling water to flush the potty. We have swimming to keep clean. Now I just have to figure out how to get my pressure canner going, my peas are ready to be canned.

On a side note: my garden took it pretty hard but I think most of it can recover.

Well as the sun goes down and we reach 51 hours of no power, I have to sign off as my light and phone batteries fade. Not sure when I will be posting again. Please keep us and others in our county in your prayers. Thanks.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Just Plain Hot!

Today is HOT! 103 with nasty humidity. Fortunately Adin and I got to spend the day at a waterpark for his end of summer school field trip. It was even hot in the water, but we had a blast. Came home to find the house nice and cool, thanks to the AC, which we only have on during the extremes. Storms are a coming late tonight.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Blueberry Breezes

It is that time of year again when the wild blueberries on our little corner of the world begin to ripen.  Things are just getting started.  Maya and I went for a walk with a bucket today to see how things were doing.  Right behind the barn they were beautiful, bushes were loaded and there was a good start of blue and lots of green.  Up the hill and along the ridge, where it was so good last year, I am very disappointed in this year.  There were lots of flowers this spring, but very few berries.  I did find one good patch up there after 45 minutes of looking and Maya discovered it at the same time.  Boy did she sit right down and start picking too.  It is to bad that her berries never make it to my bucket and I only find dog slobber on bushes when I finally make it to her spot.  Yuck.  At least she likes them too.  I have one more spot to check on.  I am worried that we won't get the couple of gallons that we got last year.  I am praying I find some more good patches.

One thing about blueberry picking is that it is a HOT job.  Blueberries like that sun!  Fortunately we had a nice breeze this morning so it wasn't too bad.  I did come away with 2.25 oz of berries.  It is a start.  Happy picking for others elsewhere.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Moving Day

Big day for the chickies... it was moving day!  What a circus that was. 

Now if you know my hubby, you will know that when he builds or makes anything, he does a great job and it is built to last (Forever!), but it usually gets pretty big.  The Chicken Tractors are no exception.  We knew moving them was going to be hard, especially when we knew we wanted to move them to the top of the hill from in front of the barn.  

Anyway,  Scott braced them up and built a wheel carriage, that we hoisted and pushed to get it under the tractor, then we used the winch connected to a chain to lift the other end.  The original plan was to pull the tractor with the 4-wheeler, this would require driving backwards.  That worked to a small degree, but the 4-wheeler just didn't have enough oomph to pull it up the hill, so I said we should try and push it up the hill.  YIKES! This was a bit scary.  I do have to say that I became a pretty good "Tractor" driver if I do say so myself.  Scott directed and watched so it didn't tip and up the hill we went, twice, one with each tractor.  The second was much lighter because it didn't have the siding on it yet. 
All braced up and ready to go.
Uphill progress.  We did have to stop once to re-position the wheels.
Set in it's spot before bracing was removed.

They are now parked next to each other on the other side of the playground.  Let me tell you, I do not know who was more excited about the move, Adin or the chicks.  I just couldn't get them in there fast enough.
Adin giving them the tour.  He even pointed out the nest boxes and told them that was were they were to lay their eggs.
Babies checking things out.
Dora stopping to say Hola!
On one of the many walking trips up and down the hill this evening, I did discover a small blueberry plant that actually had 2 ripe berries, one for Adin and one for me.  I guess I know what I'll be doing tomorrow morning, hiking in the woods to check out the wild blueberry plants.  :)  They are about 2 weeks later this year than last year.  We'll see what tomorrow brings.  Now to go and put the babies to bed in there new home and then to hit the pillow myself. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Girls Day Out & Coop Updates

This weekend the girls (and a boy) enjoyed their first time exploring the yard. They are all growing so fast and changing everyday.  Their fluff feathers are disappearing and their big girl feathers are coming in beautifully.  We are going to have some pretty girls (and one boy).

L to R: Honey, Cricket and Lucy enjoying their first adventure outside.

Cricket and her favorite Adin.
 Cricket and Adin are buddies. She loves being held and is always looking for her Adin.  Most days when he is holding her, she snuggles up in his hands and falls asleep.

Coop update: We are hoping to finish them today.  Cross our fingers.
Adin and Daddy working on the nest boxes.
The Tractor:  we are going to finish putting the cedar siding on it. 
Roost poles and a poo shoot for easy cleaning
Flap lifts open to clean under the roosts
Adin helping me put down the flooring for more easy cleaning.  More recycling.
Nice new floor.
I am so looking forward to getting this done so we can get the kids outside and out of my sun room.  They need more space to play and be able to get in the grass without me sitting there with them.  They are still to small in my eyes to be running free without adult supervision.  Call me a protective mommy. 

Off to finish some baking then outside to work on coops and garden projects.  Enjoy your day, I hope it is as beautiful where ever you are as it is here.  :)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Creative "Free" Tomato Supports

My tomatoes are coming along really well and are now starting to need some support. I have the 8 tomato cages that I bought last year and they really didn't work well and with money being tight, I needed to get creative for the rest of my 50 some tomato plants.

Before:  The "small" tomato bed, better known as Adin's.

The supplies: large and small trimmers, hunting knife, twine, and maple poles cut from the woods.

After:  The first round of support put in.  More will be added as the plants grow. 
 I think that it looks kind of pretty and I'll use this method for all of my tomatoes.  It allows me to put up a support branch where ever I may need one, the materials were all on hand and it is all bio-degradable.  It does take a little time to do the tying of all the branches together, but that is ok.

Here are some updated pics from other parts of the garden:

Sugar Snap Peas on the left just starting to bloom and Shelling peas on the right with tons of nice pods.

Bush Beans: Green & Wax

Cucumbers with a second season Carrot and some volunteer Sunflowers.

Potatoes:  Blues and Reds (I have mounded twice now.)  I also have 2 garbage cans with blues.

Asparagus forest and a couple of tomatoes.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Rain, Rain Go Away

This is the popular song of choice for the kids this week around our 20 ac.  We have had many days of rain, and not just sprinkles, but RAIN and we have more to come this week.  We have been in a flash flood watch or warning more than I can remember for this time of year.  Fortunately we don't really have to worry about that around these 20 ac, but other places in our county do.  We don't, because we are on a hill and every which direction from the house goes down hill.  (Another reason finding a place last year to put the garden was tricky.)  The garden has enjoyed all the great rain water and as of yet has not gotten too waterlogged.  It always amazes me how much better things grow with rain water vs. well water and toss in some lightning and life is grand.

The kids however get a bit stir crazy when we have so many days of storms.  If it were just a nice rain, they could go out and play, but not with that lightning and thunder.  Oh well, this too shall pass.  Now I just wish I had a rain barrel, soon hopefully, gotta save up some money.  It really is too bad that the old cistern wasn't in such a bad place and in disrepair, we could be using that.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Babies Are Here!

Here is Chicky!  Wrong Chicky, this one is Adin's.

 The baby chicks are here.  They arrived yesterday morning right before I left for work.  All seven of them arrived safely and very noisily.  We have one Dominique who we already named Cricket, one White Leghorn, two Buff Orpingtons, and three Red Stars.  The other 6 don't have names yet, we need to find distinguishing markings and when they are this little it is kind of hard.  Once we put them in their new little box, they found the water, the food and then snuggled up under the lamp for a nap. 
All 7 of the new babies, 3 days old.

The kids love to sit and watch them and so do I.  They are so small and cute, but I do know that someday, some of them will become dinner.  All part of life on a farm.  Until then, we will enjoy their cuteness.  They will live in our sun room for the next few weeks then we will move them out to the chicken tractor along with their lamp.  It is amazing what the sun room has been used for in the last few months; a green house and now a brooder.

Maya our elderly Chessie has taken a couple peeks at them but doesn't seem to be too interested.  Fortunately Freya has not seen them and will be kept out of the sun room until the babies are in their tractor, she will not be so kind. 

Well seeing as today is a grand day off and my "To Do" list is huge, I must bid a happy gardening to you all.  More updates and chicky pics to follow.  Name suggestions would be fun too. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Root Cellar Procrastination

I have needed to get our root cellar painted for a long time.  Something in me says that it needs to have a nice white fresh coat of paint before I store food down there.  I just want it to look clean.  We want to paint it before we put the wood floor in it and Scott want to get the decking out of the barn so he has more room.  I have been procrastinating this painting project because when I have the time it has been so nice out that I didn't want to spend that time down in the root cellar below our basement, I wanted to be outside in the garden.  Can you blame me?  Well, today is a wet, rainy and dreary day, perfect to head down to the root cellar and paint.  Now I just have to get my kids moving so we can head to town and pick up some groceries first then down to the cellar I go.  Before we know it, we'll be needing it.  Here are some before pictures.
This is looking into the root cellar from the laundry room.

Inside looking out.

The shotty origional paint job, sand floor,  etc.

The escape tunnel.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

4-Wheeler Confessions

When we bought the 4-wheeler a few years ago, Scott picked one out that had a small dump box on the back.  I remember saying "who needs a dump box on a 4-wheeler?"  It was a silly thing in my mind.  Well, today I used it for the first time and I used it a lot.  I am here to confess that I was wrong and I actually used the dump box.  Funny how things work out. 

Today I finally made part of my new hosta bed along to front sidewalk.  It has always looked awful and was hard to mow along the steps that are throughout the length of the sidewalk.  So yesterday I dug it up (putting the patchy sod in the dump box) and hauled the sod to the back side of the garden and dumped it.  We are using the extra sod and such to help support the raised garden edge.  Then I hauled in the black dirt, again using the dump box.  Now both sides of the sidewalk have nice hostas.

I also worked on my corner bed by the deck and hauled some more black dirt in there.  I am now a big fan of the dump box on our 4-wheeler.  :)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Garden Update

Just thought I would do a quick update on the state of the garden.

The shelling and sugar snap peas are growing great guns and have been training themselves to grow on the fence already.  (Don't know if anyone remembers the sun room plants - well Thursday we harvested 1/2 oz of peas from that plant.  Lizzy was excited and boy did they taste good.)

The asparagus is growing great guns (all 10 plants survived the winter - very exciting) and are almost as tall as I am.

The green beans are doing well and had a fairly good germination rate, but the wax beans did not.  Not sure what happened there.  I planted them every other row - I think I'll have to go back and fill in or just wait until early fall to so a second sowing.

My spinach is looking great as well as the volunteer cilantro.  The cilantro that I sowed this year is slow to come up, but it is there.  I also have a few volunteer leaf lettuce plants also.  That was a fun surprise.

The cucumbers are looking great, as are the zucchini and gourds.  The pumpkins and the squash have not had a happy ending.  All of them have died.  They started to well in the sun room this spring.  Hardened them off and planted them in nice mounds, etc.  Dead! Every last one of them.  Frustrating!  Now I'll have to go and get a few more seeds, because I was dumb and started all of them and didn't save any.  Nice going Anna.

The strawberries that I planted are looking great (only 4 plants) but I will get a couple berries this year.  This year is the getting established year. 

The onions and garlic in all different stages are looking good also.  The strong wind and rain we had this week was a little hard on them, but they are perking up.

And then there are the tomatoes!  I have tomatoes everywhere.  Most of them are doing really well.  I had some severe predation going on in one of my beds, but that seems to be over.  I have 3 out of 11 plants that made it through there.  Fortunately I still have a tomato forest in the sun room waiting to be planted - so glad I have extras.

The potatoes are starting to peek out of the soil and are looking wonderful and strong.  I am hoping for a good harvest this year.  I have some planted in garbage cans and some in one of my raised beds.  I just didn't want to spend money on more garbage cans this year.

I'll try and post pictures soon.

Little Bear

My kids like watching the show "Little Bear".  It is a cute cartoon about a little black bear named Little Bear, his family and friends.  My parent's even have a puppet that is a little black bear named... you guessed it...Little Bear.  Well on Thursday we had our own live version of "Little Bear" in our yard and Little Bear brought along Mother Bear.

Maya, our elderly Chesie made fast work of putting both of them up a tree, right between the house and the barn.  We were all pretty impressed that she treed them seeing as she is not a bear dog, but I guess her protective side came out.  

Adin was at school, but the girls and I watched them from the deck for a while.  I was protecting the bird feeders.  It was pretty comical watching Little Bear goofing around and playing in the tree.  It is hard to see him in the pictures as he is way up at the top, but he was sitting on a branch dangling both legs over the side of the branch.  He would also chew on small sticks and leaves and then toss them on the ground.  After a while they finally felt comfortable enough to come down and head off into the woods again. 

I just hope that after being treed, they think twice about venturing into our yard again.  I was a good learning opportunity for the kids, to see Mother and Little Bear and talk about bear safety (seeing as we live in bear country) and also the reason we hunt in the fall and not spring (except for Turkeys and we only hunt the Tom's in the spring).  It is important to Scott and I to teach the kids good ecology, environmental and animal respect and the ethics of hunting and managing wildlife. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Chicken Coop ~ A Reality

This weekend my dream of having a chicken coop and chickens started to become a reality.  Once again plans changed and instead of building the coop in conjunction with the green house and dog kennels we decided to make chicken tractors.  This way we can move them around and help out our lawn and other areas with good fertilization.

Scott has been looking online for ideas and found a fun looking one on craig's list I believe, so that is what we are building.  We are trying to recycle materials we have and that some friends have also.  We are getting some old ceder siding from one of Scott's co-workers and we have a ton of fencing that was around the back yard when we moved in, to make the run.  We also have some shingles that we found in the old "out building" that we got rid of last year. 

Yesterday I ordered my first batch of 7 babies from My Pet Chicken which is where my sister orders her chicks from.  I wanted chickens that were winter hardy and good layers so I chose Red Stars, Buff Orpingtons, Leghorns, and Dominiques.  They should be here the week of June 13.  There are a few other breeds that I want but they were not available until later in the summer.  Those are Australorp, Wyandotte, Easter Eggers and Salmon Faverolles.  I'll get those later on.   

We are building 2 tractors and each will hold 8 chickens.  We plan on having layers and fryers so I also tried to choose breeds that are dual purpose.  The Red Stars are great layers and the roosters make good fryers so I ordered more of them and also did a straight run (which is cheaper) that way if we get some boys we can use them for meat.  I know for some people that is a hard concept, eating your pets, but I'm not getting chickens for just pets.  We are getting chickens to be more self sustaining and also we know how and where the chickens were raised.  Being a hunting/fishing family our kids are used to that process and can see animals for their beauty and for their food possibilities. 

So far in the building process we have the bottom run areas framed in and stained.  Next we are going to put the fencing on them and work up.  We have spent a lot of time on the layout of the tractors, trying to make them efficient and easy to maintain.  Seeing as how we did not have any green treated wood on hand, we used the 2x4's that we had and stained them the same dark brown as our garden fence frame.  That way the wood that will be exposed to the elements and the ground for the run will be protected.  I'll try and get some "Progress" pics posted soon.  Now I need to start looking for chicken feeding/watering supplies and a heat lamp to keep the babies warm.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fishy Fishy

This weekend my parents were up at their camper and my sister and the boys came down, so we all hung out on beautiful Lake 26.  (Yes, I know it is a silly name for a lake, but it is different and I believe that everyone on the lake likes it.  Besides, there are so many Long lake, Bass lake, Clam lakes and I bet you probably won't find another Lake 26 out there.)

Most of the weekend, the weather was great, so we did a lot of fishing.  Well if you can call it fishing.  The five kids had their poles (1 Iron Man, 2 Cars and 2 Princess) and us adults were the worm attachers, the fish removers, the caster (except Adin - he did well casting) and the pole holders when the kids got tired.  Everyone caught a bunch of sunnies, a couple bass and a small perch.  Adin caught a nice bass that we saved and froze until we get more "keepers" for a meal.  He was pretty excited and even kind of put his thumb in it's mouth to hold it - for just a split second.  He also had to measure it with his little tape that he got from Grandma and Buppa.  It was a good 10 inches.

I even got to do some fishing and caught the biggest fish of all.  This fish wasn't paying attention and got a wee bit too close to the edge of the dock and got wet up to his arm pits.  I was pretty impressed as he did not get scared, kept his balance and didn't go under the water and didn't even drop his fishing pole.  Buppa (Grandpa) had to measure him to see if he was a "keeper".  Adin didn't seem to think that was very funny, but the rest of us did.  We had to pick on him a bit as he wanted to measure everything that was caught.  All in all it was a great weekend of fishing and we look forward to a lot more fishing this summer.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Trial Run

Today I actually made and canned my baked beans.  I cut down the recipe to make only 4 pints (because that is what fits in my vintage canner) and began canning.  It took a while, and Adin almost missed the bus because I wasn't watching the clock the way I should have, but now we have 4 nice looking pints cooling on the counter.  After this batch I am not near as scared of a pressure canner as I was in the past.  It was actually very simple, now just to try them and see how they taste.  If they are good, I'll make some more, if not....back to the drawing board.

Update:  Beans were pretty good, not as sweet as I would have liked and the sauce was pretty runny.  But.. all in all for a trial run they were good.  I have found a few more recipes that I will be trying.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hummingbird Happiness

Every spring I look forward to the return of our hummingbirds.  Here on the "farm" so to speak, we have some very chatty, terriorial, and curious hummingbirds.  They are always entertaining.  This year is no different.  I always put up 2 feeders for them to cut down on the violent fighting.  Who would have thought that little tiny hummingbirds can be so agressive.  "Holy cows" as Adin would say.  It is fun to be out in the yard or the garden and hear their little chirping throughout the yard, to see them flitting around the feeders and zooming through the air. 

Yesterday I had a pleasant surprise.  I was watering one corner of the garden with the hose on a soft cone spray and all of a sudden one cheery little male humming bird flew right into the fine mist in the middle and chirpped happily in the water.  I wish I had a good camera to be able to get a picture of him, it was the coolest thing to watch.  He sure seemed truly happy playing in the water, just like my kids on a hot summers day giggling away.  I had to chuckle at his anticts and can most definately say that you don't see that every day, but I hope I will get to see him playing in the water again.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Busy Weekend

Adin snuggled up to Elle

This weekend, the kids and I were in Ashland at my sister's house for our annual yard sale.  My goal this year, other than getting rid of baby and little kid clothes, was to make enough money to cover my spring gardening expenses for seeds, starting pellets, etc.  It was a successful weekend and I even came home with some extra money and a trunk of plants.  We brought home our tomato & pepper seedlings along with some daffodils that were growing in Greta's woods, some lily of the valley and a rather large rhubarb plant.  We had some rain on Saturday, but thanks to my Dad's HUGE tarp we made a make-shift tent over the slab for Nico's new garage where he will be opening a care repair and detailing shop.  We all had a ton of fun, but the busy weekend really pooped us all out. 

When we got home, after driving through some nasty storms, I found a wonderful surprise in the garden.  Lots of green and some very sweet smelling Lilacs!   I love the smell of spring. Things really took off over the 4 days I was gone and the rain really gave things a boost. 

Here is a tour of our garden.

Sugar Snap peas on the left.
Shelling peas on the right.
I have to get the fence in for the shelling peas.

Green Beans and Wax Beans
Every other row - Wax beans are slower coming
up than the Green Beans.

Adin and the HUGE asparagus

I can't wait until next year to harvest. 
Soon tomatoes will join the asparagus.

Lizzy weeding

Elle weeding
Hopefully Tuesday and Wednesday are nice so I can get some more things planted and the yard mowed again.  Holy jungle.  Happy gardening to all.