Tuesday, May 28, 2013


I like poultry.

Whaaaaaat?  I said it. 

18 years old Brooke would have a different tune to sing, "I hate chickens so much I could kill one with my bare hands and eat it."  

I really said that.  And I didn't just hate chickens.  I hated birds too.   

Emma had a pet bird for three days before it bit me and wouldn't let go. I called the pet shop and told them it was going back to them or going to my dog.  They took it back.  Brown Dog was sad.  

Then we got a few random chicks on a spontaneous Tractor Supply run.  I liked their eggs, but I had no emotional attachment to them. 

  But them a big red chicken won my heart.  

  And now I am one of those weirdos that says stuff like, "My chicken has the best personality."  All those original chickens are fox food now days, except for Big Mama.  This year I had big poultry plans, lots of different breeds and variety.  But I found out that with my work schedule I can not get mail order chicks.  You don't now exactly what day they are coming.  Tractor Supply provided our new chickens.  Four reds and two bantams - I suspect one of the bantams of being a rooster.  I don't expect to fall in love with our new chickens.  They are just supposed to be working for a living - laying eggs and free ranging when the garden is out.  But this spring I was so scared of Big Mama getting eaten by a fox that she is locked up with the baby chicks.  She hates it.  She attempts to escape often.  I try to let her out for awhile every day so she can explore and snuggle the Brown Dog.  Yet she is SUPER mad about living with the babies.  Sorry Mama, I'll make you a run soon.  

Meanwhile I have another problem - the Cayuga Ducks.  They are lovely.  I said it.  It really is true.  They are lovely.  They hardly make any noise, they can't fly, and they waddle around like pretty little jewels.  I have always liked ducks - even when I hated other birds and chickens.  They are just so cute, and that green color makes them look noble.  They are still getting rid of their juvenile fuzz, almost gone, and all that luscious green is glowing.  The problem - they are really good parents and I want some more.   Like a flock.  I want babies and adults waddling around and quacking away at the world.  I have a pond that needs some ducks.   Now I need a long term duck pond plan.  Pintrest time!  See the Mallard Duck?  She hasn't figured out yet that she can fly away.  

Us chicken people get to talking to each other, and I have made nice friends with a lady at work that is ordering some more chicks.  She invited me to join her order, and she would pick them up at the post office.  Then I can just go pick them up from her on my first day off.  I was tempted to get about 30.  But I held myself together.  I got two blue silkies (FLUFFY) and two Marans (chocolate egg color).  They arrive in August.  Next year I might still add a few more to try and get some blue egg layers.  I hope to make a chicken tractor (a coop and run that you move around to let the chicken graze fresh ground) next year, but for now the girls are good in their converted horse stall.  

Saturday, May 25, 2013

::orchard garden 2013 - for real::

Original plan
Actual Plan
I had originally planned to put a hoop house in the OG this year.  It's still a good plan, but its not in the budget this year.  Some day.  You have to have something to dream about right?  I decided that the OG needed a "make do" kind of year.  Not a total remodel.  Josh added over 10 scoops of compost to the soil and tilled it all in early this spring.  Then the farm flooded and the OG got ignored.  But that turned out great.  

The grass near it grew to be about 9 inches tall while the flooded mower was getting fixed.  Once it finally got mowed three times in three days, and all the grass got scooped up by the leaf vacuum - I had a dream pile of grass clipping to garden with.  Laugh all you want but I have thought before about calling a landscape company and asking if they would like to dump their grass clippings out here.  It is free and works as a perfect garden mulch.

By this point, a month post first tilling, the OG was turning into a weed filled mess.  My Lily helped me get weed mat down on the front section of the garden.  We did a row of weed matted and grass mulched broccoli, which liked it so much that is growing so fast you can almost see it happening.  

 Then an aisle of weed mat followed by a row of tomatoes.  I have my favorite tomatoes up in my Cottage Garden but the work horses get put in the OG.  They got weed mat as well with a little grass mulch.  I want the black weed mat to help heat the soil up while it is still cool out.  Once the heat of summer is raging I will mulch the entire area to keep moisture in the soil.  Josh taught me how to put in T posts and I have them all ready to try staking them with the Florida Weave technique.  This will be my second try with this and I have some new ideas about how to improve it.  More to come on that as it happens.  

We put in another weed mat aisle and then a row of green beans.  Josh found an old piece of scrap fence and he tied it to T posts to make a green bean trellis.  Max made me a sign and we planted those beans together.  They are coming up like crazy.  Almost out to the frame already.  Tough little buggers.  

Baby melon

I put down about a two foot run of grass mulch and then took into account the rest of this massive garden.  I talked Josh into retilling the rest of it for me.  What a good sport.  Then I planted like a crazy woman.  I did several row of cantaloupes.  I decided not to do hills this year.  It has never worked that great for me and it takes too much work.  I went with the lazy mans rows and I hope I end up with too much.  I hope we are lousy with cantaloupe.  I hope I am giving it away because we can't eat nay more.   That would be ideal.  Then some large watermelons.  I find the large ones are hard to deal with.  They are too big to eat at one meal and they go bad fast, but they are fun to watch grow.  Then another couple rows of cantaloupes.  
Done and done

 I thought I had way too many melon seeds to use but I still had a great chunk of garden looking all blank at me.  I dug through my garden tote to see what seeds were left.  I ended up doing a row of peas and spinach.  Then a row of pickle cucumbers. Still lots of garden begging to be planted.  I had originally bought seeds to do a pumpkin patch but cut it from the list.  I put a few seeds from each gourd or pumpkin in one empty envelope, shook them up, and threw them in a few rows to finish the space off.  We will see how that all turn out.  I have heard you don't want other vines near your melons because they can cross pollinate.  I hope we gave them enough space apart. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

::goals are fluid::

Every year around January I make a grand list.  An insane list.  Even I know its not possible.  But I get super overly optimistic and I decide that we are going to get 4 million things done around here.  Link here to see this years LAUGHABLE list.  Then spring actually comes around and reality hits.  We have to prioritize.  Money is always a big factor.  We are on a strict budget.  STRICT.  We are on a debt payment play that in less than two years will have us unsecured debt free.  Which is our first goal.  From there we will have so much more freedom financially.  Freedom to do stuff like update our from my college house furniture, and actually buy a set of plates instead of eating off picnic ware.  Till then - we have be very careful with what projects we take on.  We made the mistake once of gutting one of our bathrooms thinking we would slowly put it back together.  It still sits about 25% done three years latter because we have such limited money for remodeling.  But enough about boring old money.

We have squeaked out some more projects around here recently.  For Mothers Day Josh built me a grape arbor.  It is so pretty.  I just love it.  Plus - if you can manage to get anything of substance done while you are home with all four kids than you deserve an award.  The highest strand on this arbor is about six feet tall.  Plenty on up space for the little grapies (made up word for short grapes) to grow into.  We have four grapes in right now and we will just keep adding.  I think we will have around 12 total when it is all planted and done.  The spaces on the ends leave me room to plant interesting gourds for the fall.  I think this arbor is going to bring me lots of joy.  

 The Orchard Garden is done.  Planted.  The end.  I will post an updated plan on it soon.  The Cottage Garden is also completely planted too.  Again - I used their plans as a guide and then got out there and did what ever the krunk I wanted.  I love how they are turning out.  Don't tell anyone, but once we got past the flood we have had perfect weather for my garden.  If it can just keep up a little longer then everything will be ready for the crazy late summer heat.  

The play ground is done.  DONE!  It looks so good.  I didn't even realize how bad it looked till it was finished.  This one was all Josh's call and he was right.  You heard it here - he was right.  Plus, the kids LOVED the dump truck that brought in the mulch.  Josh did not.  He looked at it as a big pile of being over worked.  I hired a few of the neighbor boys to come help him since many hands make light work - and this Mama had to go save some babies.  (Really I was just snuggling a few almost ready to go home babies.) 

His team picture - they told him to make a tough face
Max is still playing with rocks while fielding in baseball.  He has zero interest in anything that is actually related to baseball.  This has led me to and new parenting rule - if I think the kids are on the line between being ready for something or not I will go with not ready and try again when I am SURE they are ready.  Cause Curly is not ready.  For sure.  

Now back to my original goals for this year.  Some of them were good.  Some of them were crazy.  
Still possible for this year:
Two new apple trees
Fix up the outhouse

For the future:
New pasture
Potato box
Front of house, bedroom side garden beds placed
Fix up dog houses
Tons of strawberry's
Still needs done this year:
Trim all trees
Brace peach trees
Weed kill fence lines
Get horses to Dad's to rest my pasture
Clean the gutters and patch the roof

::cottage garden 2013 - for real::

first plan
actual plan

 The Cottage Garden is in the ground.  Going crazy.  And it makes my heart sing.  It is just so stinking pretty.  Once I was actually standing in the garden I new my original plan was not exactly right.  

Since the broccoli got planted out back I threw onions in the front.  They came up so pretty that I thought I would try planting spinach between the onions.  That way when the onions are getting big the spinach will act as an edible mulch for them.  They will block weeds from forming between the rows.  Let's see how they work.  

 The tomatoes are planted with black weed mat over them to help the soil get hotter faster - in theory leading to quicker growth. 

 It's not going to be a big year for strawberry's for us.  Last year I ripped the center out of my current strawberry bed, filled it with soil, and will let the old plants runners take it over.  Next year it will be perfect.  The other strawberry bed got 8 new plants put it in this year and will also be perfect next year.  

I split my cilantro beds into triangles and have staggered my plantings so I will always have fresh cilantro all year.  I broke down and bought some plants to fill one part of it because I wanted cilantro right now.  I already have too much.  Perfect.  
The rest of this pretty thing is coming up nice.  The flower pots add wonderful color and the zinnias will be in upfront soon.  The sunflowers in the back are showing up and they are always so pretty.  
Asian eggplant - a new one for me



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