Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Summer Passes By

     My sincere apologies for being so neglectful of this blog. Our overzealousness with photography has caused our 5 year old laptop to call "uncle" and we are unable to upload any more photos. Steve being the techie-er one in the family is trying to figure out what to do. We were gone for almost 3 weeks from the end of June into July so our garden got overgrown and house projects got behind. We're slowly catching up, Steve has started the difficult project of organizing the basement. Plans for a chicken coop are being sketched and scratched out and redone but hopefully we'll have something together for the four chicks before winter. The chicks, I may have forgotten to mention, are the product of Braveheart and his second hen Matilda. Matilda befell an unfortunate end at the paws of some wild animal in early June but not before the Leaches and Rachel stored away four eggs in our incubator. They all hatched successfully although one seems a bit weaker than the rest but is doing well.
    We also got two baby nigerian dwarf goats to help clear the brush, and because they are just so darn cute!  Our initial plan of having the goats roam the backyard was thwarted after the pair escaped not once but twice! They're now now on a line, getting moved around the yard and staying in the tiger cage dog house doing their best at clearing brush. Braveheart has taken to the pair wholeheartedly, you can usually find him hanging around them or sitting in their house pecking at their food. The only one not happy about the goats being tied up is Bella because, well goats just aren't any fun if they don't run around and bleat.
The four chicks, wondering if they are going to be as big as their daddy.

Betty and Wilma, they are around 10-15 weeks old and will get about as big as Bella, which will be interesting to see. Photos thanks to Patty (and facebook)

Tomatoes have been prolific, so have the spaghetti squash and butternut squash. My zinnias are doing well but overall I would give my gardening a C grade for the year thus far. Oh well, only place to go is up.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Upon Returning Home

We left for Haiti at 4:30 am last Saturday morning. No wait, let me rephrase that...We tried to leave for Haiti last Saturday morning. When we arrived at BWI, our spirits high, giddy with anticipation, we walked smack into a wall of setbacks that seemed a mile high. The evening before our flight, Continental (our airline) merged with United causing computer glitches and flight cancelations. Our connecting flight to Newark was canceled, compromising our chances to catch the only flight to Haiti. Rescheduling 13 people was not an option. We turned on high gear, gathering our 13 boxes, 13 suitcases and all our personal luggage. We sprinted to the shuttle bus, hopped an Amtrak train to Newark (with a "Good Lord!" from the conductor upon seeing all our baggage), took two different monorails to make it to the Continental ticket counter with no time to spare. We then spent what felt like an eternity holding our collective breaths and sending up prayers to heaven waiting to see if they would hold the plane a little longer for us to all make it on. Thankfully we were rushed through security and sprinted to the gates to our plane bound for Haiti. There are so many more stories about Haiti that I could tell, so much I learned there. There was a lot of sweating, and waiting around (Haitian time), and general chaos that is Haiti. We were given a glimpse of the amazing faith that the children at the Maison De Lumiere had for God. We helped organize, brought needed supplies and played lots of soccer and cards. My eyes were opened to another world and though Haiti is very, very broken, Christ is working there in very real ways. I spent time working the neighborhood clinic that is run out of the orphanage's school and witnessed some odd and challenging aspects of Haiti life. I held small children, I laughed with goofy little boys and realized that teenagers are the same all over the world. I am so thankful to have been able to do this with Steve, I loved seeing him in his element, full of grace. If I have the ability I will hope to go again, especially knowing what to expect and how to work in Haiti, with all its complications.

Upon returning I found a few things in my garden, my neighbors and friends have been enjoying its bounty thankfully.
A black russian tomato, a zhuccini and a massive amount of fresh raspberries from around my property.

Also this precious boy whom I missed very much. And a report of good health and a haircut from my Dad about Bella.

Now off on the next adventure, to New England!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Coop For the Couple

Prompted by Matilda's second escape I took immediate bird action. I decided to make her a proper home where she would feel safe enough to stay put. I have plans to build a large hen house for prospective tenants next summer but for now a home for two is all that is needed.
A simple A-frame created from one large piece of privacy fence. 

Anxiously awaiting their abode. This doesn't really showcase how much bigger Braveheart is, Matilda is about half his size.

A laying box. Interestingly enough I usually see Braveheart jammed in here and poor Matilda on the roost.

The roost and a little added attachment of a food dish. This was mainly because when I would spread their food out on the ground, Bella would come and munch on it herself.

A hinged door so I can access the hen box for prospective eggs.

The finished project. It took a few days for them to warm up to it but now they hang out in it regularly.

A little family time.

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Happier Ending Than Before

Sorry about the lack of photos, I'm sharing this from another computer and don't have any pictures. Braveheart was so bummed about the disappearance of his girlfriend that I took the lady who gave me the original hen up on her offer of a second, slightly larger, hen. She also offered to help de-spur him in hopes of deterring any further injuries from possible aggressive mating. This hen is a bit larger but Braveheart is still a huge dude, the chicken lady even exclaimed at his size and was unable to tell me what he was. They do a lot of walking around the yard pecking and scratching for bugs. Yesterday evening though, the chicken flew the coop (so to speak) and the rooster followed shortly thereafter. We're not entirely sure if they actually went over the fence or if they snuck under it but at dusk we went to check on them and could not find them. We searched high and low and then expanded our search outside of the gated area. This did turn up a clue to their escape, an egg, laid just on the other side of the fence. Dusk turned to night and we searched for awhile with flashlights, even releasing Bella into the woods with the hopes of stirring them up. This was to no avail. Fortunately I was due to go into work this morning and would be rising around 5 am and as Braveheart tends to wake and start crowing around 5:30 I figured I just might be able to get him. Just as I stepped into the backyard I heard him crow. I dashed to towards it, moved as quickly and quietly through the woods as I could and ended up sneaking up behind him. It was a bit of a stroke of luck, catching him still groggy from sleep, perched on top of a log. I tossed him back over the fence then went in search of Matilda (the hen) and found her under the log near where Braveheart sat. She got penned in the dog crate that was Braveheart's original home, given some food and water and put in the shade. Hopefully this will keep the rooster nearby until we can figure out a more secure situation. I do believe the building of a small hen house for her may keep her closer at hand. On the upside I enjoyed a delicious egg and cheese sandwich this morning.

Monday, May 30, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow

Slowly but surely. Yes I know thats not the rhyme but it seems to fit nicely for my vegetable garden. For the first time in years I actually have a tan in May and that is mostly due to all the gardening and outdoor work I am doing. Its a nice little added bonus.
Here is the finished product of my herb garden. I planted some basil, rosemary and chives along with some flower seedlings I had been growing. Hopefully, one day, this thing will be overflowing with herb-y goodness.

My mini orchard, two peach trees and two apple trees.

In the garden, mesclan salad mix for a very productive "cut and come".

Sugar snap peas being trained onto a trellis made from scavenged branches jammed into the ground at angles.

Pepper plants, the big one we bought at the farmer's market, the other I grew form seed.

Tomato plants are already starting to produce.

Huge squash plants, some of which popped up out of the compost that I mixed in when first tilling up the garden.

Potato plants!

This sad little garden was the strawberry patch that was almost a complete fail (one plant survived) so it became home to sunflowers and more potatoes. 

An unfortunate causality of the lawnmower, I found this guy last week with the insides still...well inside. This week it has been picked clean by some helpful little bugs, even leaving behind some interesting bone parts.
Speaking of dead things. We found a lady selling hens on craigslist, and thinking that Braveheart would like some female company we brought one home. Somehow, either from Braveheart's overzealous mating or some other injury, we found her very lethargic this afternoon. After washing off a LOT of maggots we found a small wound under her wing that was fat with even more maggots. She could barely keep her head up so we humanely slit her throat and buried her in the woods. It was very sad but preferable to her slowly during from the infestation. I suppose this was an introduction to "farm life" for us. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

In Creating a Farm

Sometime I get quite inpatient with the progress I make. Not that I'm out there breaking a sweat every day but that, despite the work that has been done, there is still so much to do. I know that sounds a bit whiney, but I feel a bit whiney. I suppose if I woke up early everyday and devoted a lot more energy into the yard work I would have tons accomplished already, but, let's be real, thats not fun. I find that when I am by myself during the day I get so very little accomplished whereas it only takes one other person being around for me to turn into the energizer bunny. I wonder what a psychologist would call that? Barring all that nonsense I do get things done, I'll just never be one to wake up early and get things done efficiently enough. Right now we are:
-creating 2 rainbarrels
-building a compost tumbler
-trying to keep up on weeding in my garden
-trying to keep up with mowing the grass
-clearing the brush from the fenced in wooded area
-building our rubbermaid shed
-finishing the fence
-finishing the raised herb bed

I love that Steve has photo sessions with the local wildlife.

These are some older photos I found but they give some nice insight into the building of the fence. After digging all the holes for the posts (some by hand) we added dirt and cement mix and used a handy attachable post leveler.

The destruction of the old dog run.

Cutting up some downed trees that were in our way.

This is Braveheart. This is his roost. He thinks he owns this corner of the yard.

It was pretty hilarious watching the dogs and Braveheart get used to each other, mostly because watching a chicken run is always funny. Now Bella just follows Braveheart around the yard trying to get a good sniff in.

My handsome husband, always in long sleeves and boots for yardwork so as to stave off the nasty poison ivy.

Sometimes I find that work doesn't get done because in the midst of what I am doing I like to sit and look at my surroundings and feel thankful to be here.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Homeownership And The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Just kidding, it doesn't exist. I don't mean that in a terribly depressing, "homeownership is an endless pit" sort of way. I mean it in a "the adventure never ends" sort of way. There is always some new project to tackle, figure out, watch youtube videos and stand back and admire your work. Sometimes it works out just as you imagine in your head, with all the sparkles and twinkles surrounding your project. Other times...well you're just happy to be done.
This is a piece of the privacy fence that was attached to the old dog run. We saved the sections and here I cut them into two piece sections.

This is the plan my wonderful husband drew up for the raised herb garden.

I attached lengthwise parts with scrap wood.

For the corners I used a 2x4 cut up.

Here is the all the wood put together and placed in the front yard. I hammered stakes into the ground and screwed them into the frame for stability. I put a weed barrier down and am slowly (hence no next picture) adding dirt. Then I have a few herbs all ready to be planted.

I like introducing you to the animals on our farm. This here is an enormous salamander (his head is as big as my thumb) and I have named him Ro Bear. I found him while digging some dirt. 

Next up is Braveheart, the Plymouth Rock Bantam rooster that was given to us by Samaratin Womens Home.