Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The end of March already?!

 I can't believe this month is gone already! Spring is here! Everything is lush, green, beautiful! Piggy says hello. They were wormed almost 2 weeks ago and should be ready to go in the freezer in 4 more weeks. I will miss them. They are such sweet fellas. It is hard to believe that their little snouts barely came up to the waterer when we got them. Not they are almost as tall as the hog panel.
 The ducks and laying chicks have been in the hoop tractor for over a week. They have been without the brooder light in there for a couple of nights and are doing great and growing like weeds. Especially the ducks! I think we may have 2 females? I don't know much about ducks. We may end up with 3 more that a friend of a friend "rescued" and have living in their bath tub. Apparently I am the go-to "farm" person. Eh... They can join the rest our our heathens.
 The blueberry bushes positively exploded with blooms! This was about a week ago. The bees have been working hard to pollinate all the little blooms so we can have tons of berries this year.
This was yesterday. Most of the blooms have fallen and left the little berry stubs. Grow little berries grow!
 The meat birds have been in the hoop tractor for a couple days. They are 3 weeks old today. I was worried because they hadn't feathered out completely but I read that they need to be on grass by 3 weeks or they will be lazy and not graze. Yeah, they are too lazy to graze anyway. They did make it through a 49 degree night with no brooder light. It wasn't supposed to get that cold! I lost 4 when they were about a week old for no apparent reason. They flipped on their back and died. I haven't lost any since though, so maybe the worst is over. These guys do nothing but eat and poop. It is amazing the amount of food they can pack away!
The tomatoes were repotted and put in the greenhouse a couple weeks ago. They are growing well! Already bigger than this and I just took this yesterday. Courtesy of our extra special "fish water". Liam got goldfish for his birthday last August. Because goldfish produce such massive amounts of ammonia the water has to be cleaned very often. I replace half of the water in the tank every week. Which is perfect! All of that liquid gold is used to water my plants. That is all they got until they were transplanted and now they get the fishy treatment once a week. It is noticeable when I use it because by the next day the plants are much bigger and healthier looking. Also started in the greenhouse are all types of squash (minus pumpkins which I still need to start), 2 types of cucumbers, gourds, peppers, watermelon, and cantaloupe. Typically I just plant them all in the ground, but the chickens are a pain in the butt and I'd rather get a head start.

Speaking of the chickens, I noticed when I cleaned the deep mulch out of the coop a few weeks ago that the floor of the small (oldest) part of the coop had started to rot through. "No problem" I thought. I can just take that off and build nesting boxes right on to the side of the big coop. Yesterday Keegan and I pulled the coops apart and started to work. Only to realize that the big section was starting to rot in places too. That's what happens when you build with untreated wood. I pushed them back together for the time being but a whole new coop needs to be built, and soon. I admit. I had a bit of a cry over it. That is a lot of work! Probably partially pregnancy hormones. Partially because I feel terrible and know I will feel worse soon and already had my plate full of stuff that needed to be done very soon. I am only 5 weeks along and am hoping for a healthy pregnancy. We lost a baby at 10 weeks back in November so I am still hesitant to get too excited. But I always. ALWAYS. Get very sick. And it has begun already. Que Serra Serra. The world will keep spinning no matter what. Happy Spring!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Newest Additions

Keegan, Liam, and I went and picked out some new babies this afternoon. We didn't add any new hens to the flock last year because I had my hands full already. I waited too long to order any and have them come before summer so I got some straight run babies at the feed store. They are a mixture of breeds but at least some are Welsummers, Easter Eggers, Cherry Eggers, and at least 1 silky judging from its feet. The ducks were just so darn cute I couldn't resist bringing a couple of those home too. I also placed an order for 25 cornish broilers to be delivered in a couple weeks. I've never raised them before. We'll see how that goes.

 Liam loves them so much!


He also loves flowers.

And pigs! These fellas are getting HUGE!

Liam loves the chickens too, and he wants to love the turkeys but mommy won't let him get close enough.

The blueberry plants are getting buds all over and will soon be covered in bell shaped blooms and filled with buzzing bees.

And hopefully our strawberry patch will also be filled with blooms. At least it isn't still filled with weeds. Thankful for the little things.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Felt Fun

During the winter, being cooped up with none of the usual outdoor projects to do, I start to go a little stir crazy if I don't find ways to let my creative energy out. Last year I took up painting gourds, which I did a bit more of this year. The main projects I have been working on, however, has been sewing with felt.

I love working with felt! It is so forgiving. It started with a Bucilla stocking I made for Liam. I had made Keegan one when he was little so when Liam was born I started on one. Of course, getting much done when he was tiny proved impossible. I finished it this year, around midnight on Christmas Eve. Talk about cutting it close... For the record, I LOVE these stocking kits! Anyone can do them. The step by step instructions and marked patterns make it possible for a child to follow but are fun for anyone and vary in amount of detail depending on how challenging you want it to be. Keegan's has much less detail but was one of the first sewing projects I ever undertook.

With that project out of the way I scanned the internet for more felt things to create. Quiet books caught my eye. What a neat idea! I found an amazing blog called Imagine Our Life written by an incredibly creative woman who shares her patterns for free! My first quiet book page was a tooth brushing bathroom scene. It turned out fairly well. Again, with detailed instructions and a pattern how can you do too badly? Then I had to apply the family motto. Well, one of them. The main one is "If you're going to be dumb, you better be tough". This one is "If you're going to do it, you may as well do it BIG!". They are actually my husband's family mottoes, but it is fairly often that Brad and his father ask me if I am sure we aren't actually related because I fit in so well.

Anyway, I decided to make some quite book pages for my two nieces and my nephew along with Liam. These were "Let's Cook Breakfast" kitchen scenes complete with little felt food. The pattern is from the same blog. Since I wasn't sure I would make them more quiet book pages to finish the book out I decided to make them like little tote bags that open out. My favorite thing about sewing these little felt things is that it seems like one little project at a time. Not like a giant sewing project. Each little piece of food is its own project. Not too daunting and a quick gratification of a finished project. I need that. I have ADHD and it is difficult for me to stay on a project for a long time with no end result in sight.

This one is Liam's. I finished them in a couple of weeks. I added some strawberries and a tea bag complete with cover it can be wrapped in and filled with real mint tea which smells great. I left the top of the cup open so it can slip inside. Liam's favorite is the banana that really comes out of the skin.

I loved making the little food so much that now I am working on felt sandwich kits (from same blog). So far I have the spinach, avocado, eggs, swiss cheese, white bread, most of the bacon, and am partially through with the tomatoes. In true Roger's fashion I am doing it bigger. Making 7 sets. Hopefully I don't burn out before they are done and can finish by Easter when I plan to give them out along with the breakfast sets. Now that I can do more stuff outside sewing is being done less and less frequently.  The race is on.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Did we have winter this year?

Other than a few cold days and a few nights that it dipped below freezing, we seemed to have skipped winter this year. I feel like I am already ahead on a lot of things around the homestead. Behind, as usual, on others.

Despite not blogging about it, things have gone on as usual around here.

The chickens are doing well and started laying again about 2 weeks ago. We already have more eggs than I know what to do with. After not having any all winter, I'm definitely not complaining! I'd like to get a few baby chicks this spring to add some hens to the flock since we didn't last year, but we will see how this spring goes. The small (original) coop didn't fare as well as they did. I used untreated wood to build it so it lasted far longer than I thought it would. That building project needs to happen soon.

The pigs we got at the end of last summer are HUGE and very healthy. I never named them because we didn't have great luck the the pigs we got the previous year and I didn't want to get my hopes up. They are by far the sweetest pigs I have ever had. Both "uncut" boys but they are far sweeter to each other and to everyone else than any of the "cut" boys we have had. Cruel practice anyway so I wouldn't mind being rid of it as long as the meat doesn't have a bad taste to it like I have been warned about. They like their ears scratched and always come when called. The boys have been naughty and gotten loose a couple of times but always came home. Once just about a month ago. They ended up about a quarter of a mile away on the other side of the huge field beside our property. I found them as I was on my way to pick Keegan up from school so I pulled that car over to call them to me as a police car slows down to see what was happening. They decided to help. Imagine me in my car(baby was in there so I couldn't go far), windows down, yelling for the pigs as they trot beside the car, followed by police directing traffic around me, all the way home. And just as we get back to the property and the police leave, the pigs take off again. Brad is in the woods trying to find them somewhere else this whole time and I can't get ahold of him. It was a mess. I wasn't a huge fan of them that day.

The two turkeys I have left are still here, but they are trying our patience. Both of them have been very aggressive for the last few months. Tabby has always been hateful, but Yellow (male) has always been sweet until lately. He actually flogged me a couple months ago. I'm hoping it was the season and soon when Tabby starts laying again they will calm down. We had taken to carrying sticks (not to hit them with but just because they are wary of them) or the hose when ever we are outside but they are chilling out a bit now.  Except for with the poor dog, which they chase and antagonize constantly.

Guineas may also be on my list of spring babies. I am down to 5. One poor soul was lost to the electric fence when he somehow got his wing wrapped around it. That continuous charge fence is no joke, but nothing else was keeping the pigs in.

Many spring chores have been happening lately and I may be ahead of my usual game. Over the last couple of weeks I have already
- Pruned the fruit trees and did a little bit of blueberry pruning since none was done in the fall like usual.
- Weeded the strawberry patch (which was a terrible mess!)
- Cleaned the deep bedding out of the chicken coop and used it to fertilize the fruit trees, strawberry patch, small garden beds, herb garden, and all of the flower beds.
- Separated overpopulated plants in the flower gardens, moved them around, and planted more bulbs.
- Raked a TON of leaves and mulched all of the places I fertilized. Chickens are trying their best to undo that.
- Planted cool weather veggies in the greenhouse (about a month ago)

- Planted sugar snap peas for the boys in the garden... which the chickens enjoyed. Need to plant more.
- Started indoor seeds (peppers, tomatoes, etc) 2/22/16. Late again...

Still lots to do but Liam keeps me company most days and I love it.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Been a while...

Blogging has fallen by the wayside, yet again. It always seems to by the end of summer. After spending the summer being so busy with the garden and animals and putting up so much food I am usually just done. I don't want to think about anything farm related. That includes writing about it. That usually lasts until around January when the seed catalogs start coming in and that familiar flutter of hope and inspiration starts to ebb away at the previous year's exhaustion and failures. More and more as I have been getting back into the groove of things I have been feeling the need to document it and to look back at past years to see how this year is getting on compared to others.

Having a little one around also makes it difficult to do anything that includes typing. I can sometimes manage to click around on the mouse and sit back and read but nothing that looks like it takes too much of my attention. For example, as I type right now I have a toddler on my lap and am having to lean around him to get close enough to reach the keyboard while he pushes me away because he wants to sit on me (rather than beside me on the huge couch) while he watches his movie but he doesn't want me "that" close to him. I'm not complaining for a second. My sweet baby is only going to be this size once and I will take all of the snuggles I can get before he doesn't want to give them to me anymore. But in the meantime, things like typing aren't as possible as they once were.

I have also been torn for another reason. I have gone back and forth so many times about posting anything concerning our children. I would love to use this as a journal of sorts and just put anything that I am feeling or thinking down, but here in internet world, that isn't always safe. I am worried about the creepy creeps, that make so many beautiful things ugly and twisted, becoming engrossed with my boys. May sound silly, but it is always in the back of my mind when ever I write here. Since my children are so much a part of every aspect of my life it is nearly impossible to post without including them. Besides, that is one of the most wonderful parts of the blog community. My very favorite blogs are written about families and the best posts are usually about how amazing their children are and what kind of activities they are up to. I have been toying with the idea of just making it all private or writing my own personal journal for my eyes only, but there is just something unappealing about that. I like having a sounding board, and it is nice to have input on some ideas sometimes. So for the time being I am back, but we will see where it goes. How does everyone else feel about that subject? I would love feedback!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Surface of the Sun

That is where I live. Seriously. The heat here is intense. Paired with the humidity, work during the hottest part of the day is impossible. The garden dislikes it as much as I do. Or perhaps it is my inattention that is killing it? It depends on when you ask me as to which answer I might give you. I have started and stopped a post over the last month multiple times, and each time it stressed me out so much that I just deleted it and moved on. On the plus side, the shop has had progress made on it. It has a full roof and one wall. I, of course, could get nothing accomplished outside while Brad was working on the shop because I had Liam to attend to and by the time Brad was done working he was too tired to tend to him. It is stressing me out and making me angry just talking about it so I am leaving it at that. Lets just say that my tomatoes are hanging in there, the peppers barely, and nothing else has survived. The shop was worked on though... that is something.

The last 2 weeks have been a complete wash. Not even the shop got worked on. The factors have been:

1- we are running the homestead with no truck. That means we have to borrow one every time we need lumber or anything too big to fit in my little car.

2- Brad's brother is no longer able to help with the shop.

3- Keegan has had Band camp which means 4 trips to and from school every day. He goes in the morning, pick him up for lunch, drop him back off 1.5 hours later, and then pick him up that evening. It makes it difficult to get started on much.

4- Liam has had a double ear infection topped off with some kind of nasty virus. He has had a scary high fever, has been so congested that he can barely breath, and has been dehydrated but refusing liquids or food other than nursing, which thankfully he has still been doing. The poor guy has been miserable, and none of us has had much sleep for over a week. Thankfully yesterday evening his fever broke and started drinking and ate a little bit. I don't think I have ever been so thankful to see a wet diaper. I had almost forgotten how scary having a sick little one was. I didn't miss that part. I'm so glad he is finally on the mend. Now maybe once he can start breathing properly again we will get a good nights sleep. In the grand scheme of things, him being healthy is all that matters.

Anyway... my having a type A personality... Well. I haven't dealt well with seeing everything around here go to pot for simple lack of time to deal with it or ability to walk outside and get it done. Just thinking about it makes my brain tingle, eyes twitch, and chest tighten. Que Serra Serra. I'm letting it go and not stressing about it anymore. I have claimed the next few days as mine to get as much work done as possible. The grass desperately needs to be mowed, the garden rows weed-eated, and the peppers staked and tied.

 The tomatoes have gotten so tall that they are bending over the top of the trellis and growing halfway down the other side. I need to get another picture of Keegan standing in the row to show scale. But, to give you an idea; I am 5'10" and when I stand and reach my hand as high as possible the tallest vines still standing up are at least a foot higher than my fingertips. Who knew that 8ft t-posts would be this inadequate?
 These plants were volunteers in one of my store bought lavender plants. I don't know what they are but they sure are prolific! Liam much prefers the egg yolk tomatoes though. These seem more like store quality grape tomatoes. They keep forever but are tough and don't have much taste.
 My favorite tomatoes! Cherokee purple. They are finally getting ripe. Sadly, they seem to be more at risk of being damaged and half of the ones I have picked have been half rotten already for one reason or another.
 The guineas like to help in the garden. They are the only poultry really allowed in there because they don't damage anything by scratching around or eating any low growing fruit. The chickens have managed to sneak past the fence lately and scratch all of the hay out of the rows though. After I took this I had to pick it up by hand and put it back... again. Someone-who-shall-not-be-named-for-their-own-protection borrowed my rake and used it a bit too vigorously. The handle broke in half. Coincidentally, the same someone also broke my broom handle in half that very same week. Grr....
 Here is a better picture of the tomatoes bending over the trellis. Early blight has started at the bottoms of all of the plants already. Some of the sickly ones and the few determinate tomatoes that I planted are faring much worse than these amish paste. They are troupers for sure!
It is bowing the top of the fencing over. Perhaps another t-post would be good next year, although it seems to be holding up pretty well.
 Here is the shop. It looks small in this picture but it is pretty good sized. 12ft wide by 16 feet long. The windows need to go in next and then the walls can be completed.
Pretty much everything else is dead or dying and the grass is growing out of control. The upside of this is that it is almost time to replant anyway (there is no upside to the grass growing, except of course, that I need the exercise and honestly enjoy mowing). I can still get in another crop of beans, cucumbers, and squash. I also have fall crops to put in.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Boring post and shop progress

Not much has been happening around here. Brad and his brother, Christopher, have been making progress on the shop. As of this afternoon, half of the roof is on. It is looking great! We are excited! It will be nice to have so much more storage space. Progress has been steady, but slow. With temperatures in the high 90's everyday and high humidity it easily feels like it is over 100 every day. It makes doing anything quickly or for long periods impossible. Maybe I will get photos soon.

While the guys have been outside working I have been on "baby duty". Liam is more mobile every day. He has been crawling for a couple of months and is getting better at climbing. He is in to EVERYTHING! I love this age. He is so much fun! He is a handful though. And he doesn't like to be more than a foot from me; preferring me to be holding him and occupying him. So much different than his brother. Keegan was into everything as well, but he didn't want to be held. He wanted to go, go, go. He got mad when I tried to hold him too much because he couldn't explore properly. He was so independent. Liam is far from being independent. He prefers to explore from my arms or within arms reach of me. He is so very affectionate though! He loves to give hugs and kisses. If you ask him where someone is "Where's Daddy?" he stops immediately and looks until he finds them and then gets so excited. He says "dada", "momma", "bubba" (brother), "tantu" (thank you) after he kisses me because I always tell him thank you, and says "awww" when he is being sweet to someone. He loves looking at pictures of babies, including of himself, and at himself in the mirror. Liam has to kiss the baby in the mirror every time he sees him.

Not having free hands (or lap) anytime lately, since Brad has been either outside working or exhausted from being outside working, not much has been getting done around here lately. The house has been cleaned, meals prepared, and every once in a while I will get outside for a short period to do something small. I check the tomatoes and peppers every couple days, but the rest of the veggies have basically gone to seed because or lack of care and attention. Keegan and I have been trying to pick green beans, though it has just been enough to keep them producing and none picked have been usable since they were so big. We have also been taking turns doing some mowing to keep the grass under control. Keegan found another copperhead the other day (2nd this year) so it is a priority. It is frustrating to have everything put on hold and everything planned on the whim of a 10 month old. This is the first chance I have had to write a blog post (he is napping with daddy) because Liam wants to type too every time I touch the computer. And typically when I do get the chance to do something it is housework. Like now... I need to start dinner.

Keegan is starting band camp soon. He is glad to be done picking blueberries. The bushes stopped producing about a week ago. It was his chore to do every other day. I can't believe that school is starting in less than a month.

I love my boys. I love my life. I am so blessed. I need to stop getting frustrated over things that aren't that big of a deal. We can live without pickles and canned green beans (although it would make life much better this winter if we had them put up) but I will never get these moments with my boys back. I need to enjoy them. Anyway, off to start dinner.