Wednesday, June 24, 2015

::new farm babies::

    What a great year on the farm!  I have had no pregnant animals keeping me up all night with worry, but we bought two Nubian Goat does and one Southdown Babydoll lamb.  They are some of the highest quality stock to ever be on my farm.  All three are for my girls to show in 4H this year, and they are going to have some fancy show babies. 

    The two nubians come from a very high quality breeder in Il with many grand champions in her line up.  The day before I was supposed to pick the up, the one I was really in love with broke her front leg.  The breeder cut me a deal and asked in I wanted her any way.  The prognossis was really good, so we went ahead and brought her home.  The black one is named Margaret - AKA Peggy - AKA Peg Leg.  She is so spoiled and Quinn seems to just adore her.  He sits and hugs her at least a few times a day.  The brown one in Winifred.  She is also a sweet heart and spoiled.  They both are bottle fed and they adore getting fed.  I don't know how we are going to every teach them to stand up to be shown because they want to climb all over you.  Peg caught her cast off and is recovering quickly from the whole thing.  Young animals (and humans) are so resilient. 


Then the lamb!  Oh my heart aches I am so over the moon for this baby.  We named her Bernadette.  The little thing is so sweet.  She loves the goat babies and we let them play together on occasion.  This little princess of a girl makes me so excited to start buying more and more lambs to grow a little flock.  Hopefully next year I will pick up a ram and a few more ewes.  I want these little lawn mowers to cover my side yards.  Poor Josh - he is going to get talked in to lots of fencing.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Guest Post - Suburban Gardening

I have a dear and talent friend that I work with in the ER, Laura H.  She is a woman of many talents - including a professional photographer and owner of Shady Tree Photography, a nurse, a mama, and a suburban gardener.  I love the spirit of a gardener and adventurer/explorer that she carries with her through life.  I wanted to do a few guest posts on how people can garden in suburban settings, and she was the first person I thought of.  Here is what she wrote about her lovely garden -

Spring time came this year and Brooke asked me to write a story for her blog about my garden.  I thought, “oh my goodness who wants to read what I have to say, this is only my 2nd year of gardening.”  I have the heart of a homesteader but no land or experience.  Over the last few months I have been thinking, Brooke probably thought I forgot about her request, but really I just didn’t know what gardening knowledge I would have to pass on to you.  

First, let me just tell you about my garden.  I live in a neighborhood on the North side of Indy, we have neighborhood rules and a small back yard that is fenced in with a pond behind us.  At first I didn’t think I would ever have room for a garden. We had a space just off our patio that I couldn’t even get grass to grow. Why on Earth did I pick that spot to grow a garden???? Well, it was the only spot that did not have a tree, a kids playhouse, sandbox, or place the kids play.  So I thought “how can I make this spot work?”  

The solution was a raised garden bed. We had lumber delivered from Lowes and my dad and husband spent the weekend putting together my 12x12 raised garden bed.  I had “garden mix soil” delivered from a local garden center and went off to Lowes to get seeds.  Our first year garden was amazing. Everything grew so well and we had a wonderful variety of plants.  I might add that I have never been the person anyone would describe as having a green thumb.  All the decorative plants around my house were picked solely based on them being no maintenance or low maintenance. We had potatoes, lettuce, spinach, carrots, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, and snow peas. I was so proud that we grew this beautiful garden and my kids learned lessons about growing our own food. 

looking for a puma
This second year we added different varieties of lettuce and squash. Carrots were our least productive last year so I did not grow them again this year. We also added okra this year just for fun.  Unfortunately, last year we lost 2 decorative plants on the side of our house so this year I took advantage of the open spots to put in raspberry and blueberry bushes. 
Lady bugs ordered online to aphid control
 Our only trouble this year was bugs.  I am researching ideas for next year about spraying essential oil mixtures and other safe ideas for keeping bugs from eating the lettuce plants or swarming my snow peas.  My goal for next year is to add another 4x4 raised bed in a space we had to remove a tree and make it a strawberry garden.  

So although we don’t have a huge yard I am learning how to make use of our space and intermix gardening and providing homegrown foods for my family within the guidelines our neighborhood permits.  That being said, I will never stop dreaming of a day I have acres of land to have a huge vegetable garden, a fruit tree orchard  and all the other ideas I can dream up.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

::grad school - year one done::

   Wow!  I can honestly say that this last year has been a blur.  School has proven to be the final straw that pushed me over the brink of that I can manage to get done.  I have always had a lot of ego about what I can get done - marriage, kids, garden, animals, work full time.  Why not just throw school in there too?  Right?  Yikes, that was a stretch.  But with one year under my belt I think I am starting to get the hang of it.
    First of all - I got all A's.  One whole year of all A's.  I didn't even get that in nursing school when I was busting my ass trying to show off how smart I was.  I'd love to tell you it's because I have been killing myself studying, but it's really just been mostly good luck.  I happened to have pretty easy professors and great groups to work with.  

    What has really given me the most anxiety about school is having a list of things that is not done.  I get the schedule and I want the entire year done in the first two weeks.  I can't think of anything else till its all at least written.  I've lowered my personal anxiety some but pretty much forcing myself to chill out about not having assignments done four months in advance.  Still, it has been weighing on my mind.
    The program is three years long and the last 1.5 years is really the meat of the deal.  I am excited to dive into clinicals head first.  This summer semester I am tacking Pharm and expect to get mentally beat up pretty good.  

Sunday, May 3, 2015

::adult disney 2015::

Adult Disney Trip 2105 was AMAZING!  It really was the best trip of my life.  I needed to sneak away for a little bit and it was so wonderful to be alone with Josh. 

Becoming annual pass holders
We are going again with the kids latter in the year, so it ended up making financial sense to get annual passes for Josh and I.  (We get a discount because of being Disney vacation club members.)  This was such a thrill to me!  Annual passholders to the most magical place on earth?  YES PLEASE!


We have a tradition when we fly together with no kids of renting a ridiculous adult comedy and listening to it with head phone splitters on the plane.  When we left on Wednesday April 22 we got on the plane and watched - 21 Jump Street.  It was hilarious and totally not kid appropriate :)

We got to Orlando and used the Magic Express to get right to our hotel.  This year the Polynesian just finished adding a few studio villas for vacation club.  We were luck to get a villa with a perfect view of the water and the castle.  We ate dinner at Captain Cooks, which is a counter service place at the Poly.  We took the monorail straight over to Magic Kingdom and took advantage of a few premade fastpasses to ride a handful of rides.  After that we came back to the hotel to relax.

 The next morning we went to the pool for a few hours where I took my research final.  (B+ = just fine since I was just trying to hurry and get it done.)  Then off to Hollywood Studios to ride a few rides.  We ate lunch at the Brown Derby Lounge.  The food was amazing and we had no wait!  The people watching was perfect.  It's a new - adult - favorite place.  Josh beat me on Toy Story, but I would like a rematch.  We didn't stay very long at HWS then headed back to our hotel to get the great chance to go to Trader Sams. 
Toy Story Mania
Magic Bands and Trader Sams stamps
Trader Sams is a famous interactive bar that has just opened at the Poly.  the original is at Disneyland.  They have collectable tiki cups that the drinks come in and this place just makes every one play together.  

 The entire bar is like an adult Disney playground.  We we waiting in line at opening to get a table.  We had a blast talking to all the people around us and trying all the crazy drinks.  It is VERY crowded and usually has about a two hour wait ever night.

They were out of one of the mugs we wanted so we got on Ebay and bought it from there.  We decided that was ok because we did order the drink in the bar, so it wasn't really cheating.  
Then it was off to Downtown Disney.  There has been some major expansion of DTD and we were happy to see it all.  We ate dinner at the bar of a place called The Boathouse.  We had the best Bang Bang Shrimp and crab cake I have ever tasted.  We walked around and listened to all the live music.  The whole place has such a festive vibe, we loved it.

Monorail to epcot
On Friday we got up in the morning and went to Animal Kingdom.  We rode Everest and looked around at the new expansions.  They are doing a ton a building there.  We ate lunch at Yak and Yeti counter service.  We went back to our room for a little while then we headed over to Epcot.  Since our room was so near the Transportation Center we just got right on the monorail to Epcot - the ride through the park on the incoming monorail is such a great view.  
We had evening fastpasses for Soarin' and then walked around to see the outdoor kitchens.  We got treats in France (as always).  I finally got my first wine slushy in France.


Saturday it was back to Magic Kingdom.  We had lunch at Be Our Guest for the first time.  The food and service was amazing, I can't wait to show the kids.  We rode rides and looked around then went back to the Poly to have sushi at the Kona Island.  We ended up back at Magic Kingdom that night to ride a few last things and see the lights.  That park is so pretty at night. 
Our magic rose to get us in to Be Our Guest
 This trip has me so excited to take the kids back in Sept. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

::chicken tractor big time::

  Max and I are amazed at the chicken tractor Josh built!
A chicken tractor is a moveable coop and run that allows you to move chickens around to fresh grazing areas while keeping them safe and out of trouble.  An added bonus in that they fertilize the land they are grazing.  

Josh knows a great deal about welding.
Even Q knows to not look at the light.

I originally wanted a coop built out of PVC.
But - I have been married to Josh long enough to know that my Pintrest finds are never as awesome as what he can actually come up with.  
The base frame is 10ft/10ft.

Poor Josh - always getting talked in to projects. 

Which generally include him having to build something for the farm. 

 He was smart enough to weld on a pivot point that allows the tractor to lift and move the coop when it needs to go further than just getting pulled to a new near by spot. 

I seriously don't know how he thinks of these things.  

 It took us over a hour to catch these bad babies.  
They knew something was up and where not having it.
Finally, we had to get a fishing net to get them. 
 But, now they are all moved in to their three seasons room. 
The plan is to have them in here from late spring till fall.  
Then they can free range away for the rest of the time. 
Let's take a tractor tour...

There is a small door to get in that allows us to get out eggs and add water/feed. 

Josh built the latch out of some door frame he had laying around.  
The door has a spring on it so it closes by itself, in case some kiddos forget to shut it.

Wash basins from Lowes are set in a frame for nest boxes.  
I will add some straw soon, but Max already drew on them to make them comfy for the ladies.  

 I did invest in a larger waterer so I could be sure the chicken didn't run out.

The metal siding is left over from when Josh's barn was built.  

Josh added a perch down the middle so they would have a place to roost.  

Pipes 23 X $6.50 = $150
Nest boxes = $7.50
Waterer = $35
Total cost was < $200
And the ladies are happy, happy, happy.  

Saturday, April 11, 2015

::growing broccoli::

IT IS TIME!!  I scream from the top of the mountain.  It is TIME to plant BROCCOLI and some other stuff too. 

I live in zone five (if you don't know about garden zones, google it.  It tells you what time of year to plant what plants.  It also lets you know what plants will survive where you live.  Like I can't grow pomegranates here :( = sad.)  For me this means that my time to plant really sensitive plants, like tomatoes, is around mid May.  Many plants are more hardy than tomatoes.  Some plants can take a great deal of cold.  I have spinach that is still growing in my garden that I planted last year.  Broccoli is one of those plants that likes a little cold.  

Today I planted 12 broccoli plants and it is April 6th.  We had a high of 61 degrees today - and broccoli don't care. (Like honey badger.)  Broccoli actually likes a little cold. 

One year I used cardboard as weed mat
Broccoli needs to be planted about 1.5 to 2 feet apart.  That mean from the base of one plant to the base of the next needs to be about 1.5-2ft apart.  I plant them exactly 1.5 feet apart.  I have raised beds and very good soil, I know that my garden can support close spacing.  Plus - the closer you plant things the more they crowd out the weeds!  

This year I am dealing with a new problem.  I am waiting for Josh to have enough time off to build me a chicken tractor (a post for another day).  This means that my chickens are free ranging right now.  Which also means that they can put a pretty good hurting on plants if they decide they want too.  I usually lock them up by now, but they are just so happy free ranging that I don't have the heart to lock them up.  My other problem is called - Augustus Walter Schaefer.  A seven month old Great Pyrenees is a peaceful natured teenager, but he is still a teenager, and his pure mass can put an XL hurting on things.  I am also dealing with an old problem, that I have dealt with before - the dreaded super crazy toddler.  No fungus, disease, dog, goat, or chicken can destroy a garden like a toddler boy. 

My little broccoli babies looked very fragile when I planted them with all the risk factors around them.  Since nothing else is planted right now I took all my old tomato cages and wrapped them in chicken wire scraps I had laying around.  I also placed sticks around them.  This makes it too much hassle to bother with for the chickens.  It makes them uncomfortable  to lay on or dig in for the dogs.  The toddler issue needs razor wire and electricity, but I am not willing to go that far.  Broccoli grows pretty fast and one it gets about two feet tall it is practically infallible.  I had to have Josh rip them out at the end of last year, because I couldn't even up-root them, they where so well anchored by a great root system.  

Center stock coming up

 Here is where people get the most confused by broccoli - you get a TON of broccoli off each plant if you give them a few minutes of your time ever 5 days or so.  The first floret that broccoli sends up is right in the center and is usually very large.  You know when to cut it off when it looks like the stuff you get in the grocery store.  If you start to see any hint of yellow color, CUT it right away.  Yellow = getting ready to send up flowers = tastes bitter.

Once you have cut off that first central big floret, the fun is just starting.  Depending on the amount of water and sun, you will need to spend about two minutes every 4-6 days trimming your new smaller florets.  They will pop up from side sprouts of the central stalk and will not be as impressive or large as that central floret.  BUT - they are still just as tasty and full of goodness.  If you keep trimming these side shoots before they turn yellow you can harvest from the same plant for months.  If you go away from two weeks, you may come back to some tall pretty yellow flowers growing out of your broccoli plant.  At that point you can enjoy the yellow flowers (which really are pretty) or rip the plant out - but you really will not like how bitter the broccoli tastes after that.  If you have just a few tiny yellow flowers thinking about being seen, just keep cutting and eating.  At some point the summer gets so hot that your broccoli starts sending up yellow flowers very fast.  Don't feel like you failed!  Enjoy what you got from that plant and move on.  

I planted 18 plants last year and still have broccoli in my freezer left over.  This year I planted 12 plants, which I think should be just about right for my family of 6.  I taught my kids how to harvest the broccoli last year and they pretty much did it all them selves.  

Since broccoli has such a strong central stalk going into the ground I like to put weed mat or cardboard down and plant the broccoli directly into that.  Then I put grass clippings over that weed mat to hold in moisture.  I have often thought about planting spinach below the broccoli to let the broccoli shade the spinach.  I may try that this year, but you couldn't do this with weed mat down.  

Thursday, March 19, 2015

::march so far::

I am so glad to see the cold start to fade away.  I love snow and I love living in an area of the country that has four true seasons, but I am still so happy to see spring come rolling in.  This family is rocking and rolling like crazy.  The blog is on neglect mode - but that is just the best it's going to be right now.   

I keep saying over and over that I am not going to do a huge garden this year.  But spring smells so good and I am dreaming of garden rows.  I have a modified plan, but those smaller plans seem to always expand.  I am currently trying to talk Josh into building me a chicken tractor to keep the ladies out of my gardens.  School is trucking along.  One day at a time.  So far I am just getting the beginning classes out of the way so that I can get to meat of what I really want to learn.  Work is fine, just fine.  I figured out the other day that I go to 11 different units.  I love the floating and I adore the nut jars I work with, but the people who manage my schedule make me nuts.  In all fairness, I don't think anyone could manage my schedule to my standards of crazy.  

Working too much!  His job is over working him right now.  He has been doing a great job working out for the past few months.  I am so impressed with his work ethic in all the things he does.  We are going to Disney for an adult sneak out in late April and we are both so excited for our sneak out.  Poor Joshy is getting a long honey-do this with spring here.  Thank God he is such a good sport.  

This lovely girl is getting ready to be in her high school musical - Pajama Games.  I am so glad she has fallen in love with theater.  What a great hobby to have.  She always impresses me with her cool hair styles and makeup.  This kid is amazing with fashion.  Her 17th birthday is a few weeks away.  Some vintage and artist original items are in her future.  Two of her favorite things.  

Our Lily is over the moon.  She got the lead in her elementary school musical!  She worked so hard - and put her whole little soul into trying out.  I was ready to reassure her if it didn't happen, but I was so glad to celebrate with her.  This kid needed the boost.  This kid lives and breathes drama and musicals all day long.  She is doing very well in school right now.  

My Max has been struggling along at school.   Lucky for him, he doesn't really seem to care all that much.  I get very discouraged with the not love notes home from his teacher, but I have come to realize we have to just finish out this year and be ready for the next.  Max is just happy in his own head, as always.  He has the most amazing personality.  I adore him.

This man is HUGE!  Seriously.  He eats constantly and he is a giant.  He struggles with the typical three year old stuff.  He goes from happy to throwing himself on the ground in 2.8 seconds.  He is still the best little snuggle guy in this house.  He worships Josh, which makes me happy for Josh but also jealous.  

Things that are working great in life:
Sunday funday - we have kept this up and it makes the kids and I really look forward to Sundays.  I can't wait for the weather to warm up so we can have outdoor adventures.
Kitchen remodel - my dad made us our cabinet doors.  They are amazing.  We sand and paint them and this kitchen is done and nicely updated.  I love the way it is turning out.  So bright and fun. 
SPRING - love it

Things to work on:
School - I am not being very proactive with school right now.  I am letting due dates get too close.  I'm just bored with this semesters classes.  But I will buckle down for the rest of the semester.  
Diet and working out - I start.  I do great.  I fade out.  I restart.  But I am not far off the wagon right now.  Plenty of time to get back on!    
The rest of the house - the kitchen is going along great.  But I need to paint just about every surface in the rest of the house.  Time and money always slow me down.  I am only able to do so much, so I will just keep chipping away at it.  Garden season never makes me want to work inside :)


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