Friday, June 29, 2012

Farm update

My parents' farm is only four miles away so they're dealing with the same hot, dry weather pattern. You can see the grass looks very dry and the lettuce is bolting. The peas are far ahead of mine with pods already developed.

Apple trees are holding a good crop so far.
 Flowers still add that incredible pop of color. I couldn't resist taking these pictures.

And I can't pass up the chicks!

The unflappable Zen Chicky.

All black chickens are called Ninja here...crossing my fingers it's a hen.

I love the coloring of this young roo. Check out the tail feathers.
At 4:00 a.m. my mother got up to check on things and spotted a raccoon inside the chicken pen. My dad shot it and the chicks are saved!

Book review

I recently got the first three books from Rebecca Shaw's Turnham Malpas series. I was hoping for another good escape when reality became too stressful, unfortunately these aren't delivering. The first book was quite good over all and I expected each to get better as she developed her writing skills...hmm.

The second book was basically obnoxious when the author took a strong, female character and put her into hysterics over eating a rabbit caught in a snare. Then there was traumatic chest-beating and pulling of hair over her almost feeding rabbit gravy to her babies (who on earth would be feeding infants gravy in the first place??). And why such a furor over the wild animals but not one word about verifying that all the domestic meat they ate was treated humanely? In case you haven't figured it out - I hate when authors use their books to attempt to force-feed their opinions to readers. If the author is against traps and snares, fine; don't buy or eat those animals. But to force others to live by your life choices is absolutely wrong (this is what the character was pushing for and achieved by a contrived plot line).

I'm currently about two-thirds of the way through the third book and I find myself becoming more critical as I go. The line that made me put the book down and write this review was the four-month-old baby's "apologetic wail percolated into the kitchen". Seriously? An infant crying apologetically? And when was the last time a baby's cry percolated (seeped, oozed) into a room?

So, not impressed and I won't be buying any more of her books. In fact, I'm glad these were second hand.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ah, heck

I've been ill today, but ignoring the garden isn't an option in this heat. I feel like I cheated though, because I couldn't carry the water from the rain barrels to the big garden and used the mains hose tonight.  I just hope I feel better tomorrow.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Warm and dry is back

It looks like I'll be putting the rain barrels to work again keeping the garden watered...

It's going to be another year of weather extremes with some places drenched and others parched.

Friday, June 22, 2012

This, that and the other

Checking out my visitor stats I discovered the blog gets more visits from Russia then from the UK! And never once a comment from there.

The electric bill came today and we've hit a record low in usage!!!! 465 KWHs used of which 400 comes from (as in I pay extra for) wind turbines. I just wish I knew what I did to get it down that low because I can't think of any obvious lifestyle changes.

Tomorrow is the National Kidney Foundation walk. Work sponsors us to attend and I have a couple reasons why I like this one. First: it isn't crowded; kidneys don't get the fancy hype that breasts do so there aren't many participating. Second: my dad died from a rejected kidney transplant so this charity hits close to home.

A raccoon tried to break into the chick's shed at the farm last night. The metal siding was pulled away from the side and if there hadn't been a wood board inside it would have got through. Tonight my son is planning on staking it out with the shotgun. Forget the disney movies - raccoons are cunning and brutal.

While we were over at the farm tonight we spent some time trying to guess which of the chicks might be hens. Always fun. :)

Big garden update

A little work with the hoe needed.

The first pea blossom!

Even the potatoes have begun to flower.

Spinach, kale, and onions, oh my!

I've got some more work to do out here, but it hasn't run away from me yet. I say 'yet' because it's impossible to tell what will happen and I have been overwhelmed with weeds before.

Small garden update

The onions are rioting.
Carrots and beets slowly joining the party.
Volunteer squash...always an adventure.
I finally got the onions weeded today. I've always enjoyed this job since it was the first I had as a small child in the family garden; presumably because it was easy to tell which were the weeds! Carrots are off to a slow start as usual, but what surprises me is how patchy the beet rows are.

There is still some open area to fill where I will put the extra broccoli plants.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Really rain!

Of course, it's all a matter of perspective. We were longing for rain after a dry, windy heat wave that left the ground parched until last night when we got a half inch and a very welcome cool front moved in. Less fortunate was Duluth, MN that received 6 inches from the same system and is dealing with dangerous flash flooding today.

I could almost see the garden growing this morning; it's difficult to thrive when the wind wicks all the moisture away and the sun is pounding down. Now all I need to do is stay one step ahead of the weeds.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Today was crazy hot and windy so it was nice that my brother and his partner stayed over and we spent the day together. Such a wide range of conversation subjects to cover!

After they headed home again and it began to cool off I did some desperately needed watering and got half the row of spinach weeded before the biting flies and setting sun drove me back inside. Not a great weekend for getting projects done...but very good for living.

Party day

It's been a busy weekend with a graduation party in the family. It also became an opportunity for the newest member of the family to meet some of his other relatives.

Here is the graduation girl:

Loads of delicious foods and desserts:

Great-grandpa keeping little Ethan comfortable:

I always have to spend some quality time chatting with the chicks. How they've grown! In the center is the original Zen Chicky:

They were all too busy with their own concerns to worry about the camera or photo ops.

What could have all the guys so fascinated?

Ah, of course, the opportunity to shoot guns, grunt, and have fun.

Yep, that's my family. :)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Shifting the woodpile

As I had to move the wood to make room for the chicken pen expansion, I decided to relocate it closer to the house. First I put down a layer of repurposed guinea pig bedding to discourage weeds, then the pallets for a base. Moving the rest will be a spare time job as the garden must take first priority.

Garden update

I've got the rough hoeing done in the big garden, but not the in-close finger weeding yet. Our weather continues very hot and dry so I feel like I'm fighting just to keep things watered.

The year of the Onion~ last year's left behinds and some new plantings plus a row in the small garden. To the right are kale and spinach with cucumbers in the background.

Peas are struggling with the heat. Notice the high-tech gadget to discourage birds!

Even the beans are looking a bit crisped around the edges.

The potatoes are loving it and flourishing. Hooray!

I've got space yet for brassicas and a few squashes which I picked up on clearance. If I time the planting right it will be right before the rains return.

The expanded chicken pen

Today was a the day for a massive accomplishment: we finally expanded the chicken pen. It's more than doubled their space (and is that much less for me to mow).

Here is the border of the old pen. It's well fertilized, but picked clean.
Room to roam. I'd love to have free range chickens, but living in town with so many dogs it just wouldn't be possible. The fence is composed of cattle panels to keep the dogs out and chicken wire to keep the hens in.
Frodo approves; although I did have to bribe them to explore the new space with grapes.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Hard labor to hot showers

I've been working on my dual projects of splitting the walnut trees I had cut down last year and expanding the chicken run. That meant that today I used the grass trimmer to make room for another pallet in the area where I'm stacking the split wood to dry, used the wood splitter to work my way through all the pieces stacked up where the chickens will be, and used the garden cart to shift the finished product from one place to the other.

I'm not used to so much physical labor and, while I got a lot done, it was a dirty, sweaty job which brings me to the other point of today's post. After a day like this, there is nothing that feels so good as getting thoroughly clean. Hot showers may be the pinnacle of civilization for me. :)