Friday, April 30, 2010

The power of the GROUND CHERRY

FINALLY, we have GROUND CHERRY GERMINATION!!! Yes, and I love that the newspaper behind this one seedling reads as it does.
Yes, it's one, and it's barely there. But, I'm hoping one showing means in the next two days, more will show too. I need to start another flat of ground cherries tonight too.

There is also basil germination in my 3'x6' outdoor basil bed. This makes me pretty darn happy, since I wasn't expecting much out of this bed until I covered it. Woo!

Next up, we have.... GYPSY PEPPER GERMINATION! Again, totally excited. I have another packet of gypsy peppers coming (I only had 15 seeds for this round), so I want to get those started asap. There are at least 6 plants here.

I had some leftover tomato seeds, so I thought "eeh, might as well start those too." Of course they germinated.

Yesterday, I also discovered new heads of potato sprouts popping up! SO far, only my yukon gold potatoes have shown themselves. I'm still waiting on the fingerlings.

Indoors, my purple tomatillos have sprouted too!

The 3'x6' spinach bed has lots of small seedlings now.

Meanwhile, my older tomatoes are going strong. I need to move them outside pretty soon to harden. I think building my cold frames may be on the to-do list this weekend....

On the to-do list this weekend:
  • Build cold frames
  • Plant sweet potatoes (Georgia Jets)
  • Build netting covers for sweet potatoes, broccoli, and onions
  • Build clear plastic covers for sweet potatoes and basil (may have to do spinach too because that bed is attached to the basil bed).
  • Build shade cover to keep onions from getting too much sun (too much sun= start to bulb!)
  • Side-treat garlic and onions with blood meal (I did this in Feb/March, and my garlic have really thick stems. Here's hoping for HUGE bulbs).
  • Return camillas (poor things)
  • Return pink lemonade blueberries (fail.) and figure out what to buy with store credit from Blueberries. :)
  • Build mobile coop(s?) for a few of the chickens to eat grass in the backyard-- especially for the salmon faverolles that I suspect will always be picked on by the older birds.
  • Finish staining/building pergola if weather permits.
  • Plant (indoor plant) ground cherries and other peppers (if seeds arrive)
  • Paint plastic buckets-- yellow for buckets that will have lavender in them. Red for buckets that will have love lies bleeding in them.
  • Find a few big buckets-- for flower beds. I want something big, for flowers but also to paint as an accent in the one area. Big buckets will add a bit of dimension to the yard.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thoughts for Thursday.

Today I feel like my mind is on hyper-drive, so today, I'm just going to write.

Yesterday, I found out I have two sick friends. One has health insurance, the other doesn't. We're talking surgical-measures-must-be-taken-and-many-many-tests-and-follow-ups sick. It makes me worried and thankful at the same time. B and I haven't had any bouts with sickness (knock on wood), but that's something we take for granted at our age. Still, it emphasizes the need to be well, eat well, and (above all) have health insurance. We do.

On the health front, I've been pretty much the same weight-wise. I suppose this is a good thing; no increase is a good thing. Still, I know I could be much more fit, having BEEN much more fit 2 years ago and again last summer for our wedding. Two weeks ago, I began trying to do most of our meals again. I mean, I had been making most our meals, but I was doing a lot of unhealthy shortcuts-- cheeses, the lazy night when we'd order pizza, etc.

But this week in particular, I made a meal plan and I stuck to it. I made it before my shopping trip, so I'd know exactly what to buy. Not only did our food bill go down, but the food was prepared the way I want to eat: Healthily and from scratch. No, I'm not obese. My BMI ranges on the upper end of the healthy range, though, occasionally, it dips one point above. My point is, I am at a point where I can lose healthily and happily and not need/want to crash diet.

And really, eventually I want to have kids... but I want to be healthy and fit beforehand. I know I'll gain weight in a pregnancy, but I don't want to be trying to be a new mom and then also be trying to lose pregnancy weight plus another 20lbs. I hope that having a healthy and active lifestyle before will make it easier to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle after. Yes, I know kidlets tend to wreck havoc on the best laid intentions with the veracity of a tornado, but one can lay hopeful plans, right?

On the job front, right now, we're having to pay my taxes quarterly (since I'm an independent contractor), and that, let me tell you, BLOWS. There's a job I really want in town, but I'm worried I may be looked at as too young for the position. I'm giving it my best shot though. More and more I realize that I need to get a better job. I like the job I have now, but I consistently feel it is just a holding place for something better... I suppose I should feel that way because it IS! I don't see the firm hiring me on as permanent. They need to hire on new blood, but, well, they're dragging their feet on doing so. That's understandable, since it's been the same group of guys for a long while. So, they fill a niche for me, I fill a niche for them. But I want a career, not a niche. Still, this niche will serve me well while I look.

On the animal front, Paddington isn't well. He has sore gums. I thought they were merely inflamed but not bugging him, but then last night he was meowing/screaching/coughing and batting his mouth. I basically sat on him and pried his mouth open, and there was blood. My poor boy. Luckily, I convinced the vet last time I was there (with Rumpole) to give me some more medicine for Paddington in case he needed it. So begins the doses for Pads. He will hate me. But perhaps he will love me again when he is presented with wet food for a week. You can win that cat over through his tummy, I swear.

Last night I found myself thinking about kids. Yes, I would like one, but I also know that we need to wait. But I got depressed thinking about my parents and calculating out how old they will be when a kid is x age. I loved my grandparents (and love my grandmother), and I want my kids to have so much time with them. But then there's the Jess and B need to wait thing. It tugs at my heartstrings. B's parents are older than mine, so there's pain there too. No, they're not sick or going away anytime soon (knock on wood), but of course they will age. I dunno. It's ridiculous to think about because it is really just self-torture.

And then there's B, whom I love so much. As "fit hitting the shan" goes, we've had a lot happen in year 1 of marriage. We're fine-- no worries, but I wish things had been easier so that we could have appreciated each other more. So often, I feel like chaotic situations forced me into a commander position, where I had to be bossy, make decisions, and change things around. Now that we are more settled, I find it hard to relinquish that position, but I'm trying really hard. I wish B knew how hard I was trying. I'm so mad at the various things that have happened to us this past year. I wish I could go back in time and make those not happen so that we could just enjoy being newlyweds without having to deal with so much crud. Yes, it's made us stronger, but it's also made us pretty exhausted. Always having to climb a hill is pretty tiresome stuff.

But I love my life now. Yes, there's the job stuff, above, but we're in a good place, with good people, and a good life. There is baggage from having to sort through all the stuff that happened this year, but it's happening. Strange thing is, I now feel like a newlywed. I guess that's what chaos does.

So that's where I stand. Emotionally spent, tired, frustrated, happy, and worried, searching after the elusive "satisfied." Once in a while, I get overcome with this feeling of "all is right with and in the world." That's been coming more and more often, so hopefully, I'm on the right track.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Holy moly, Salmon Faverolles!

Hi! Good Morning!
Is she adorable or what?!

Introducing: Two salmon favorelles hens and one dark brahma hen. They are my replacement birds, and, quite frankly, I probably would have gotten them anyway. I have been WANTING salmon faverolles ever since I read up on them. They are very docile, polite birds that lay cream-colored eggs. But look at that headgear! And they have feathered feet. Adorable.

So here are the three newbies. Two salmon faverolles (the cream-colored ones) and one dark brahma (the one in the box). The dark brama's lacing was so incredible that I could not say no.
Close-up shot of the cowl/muff/beard on one of the salmon faverolles.

Such sweet, polite little birds. They will get to be pretty big-- 6-7.5 lbs!

The problem though, is that BECAUSE they are so polite, they may not ever be able to be with my other birds. This became evident yesterday, when I tried to introduce. My red birds were SO mean. SO MEAN. We're talking pin the faverolles down in the corner and peck. Gave me nightmares. So, the three newbies are currently in the baby pen, and the babies have been fine with the newcomers.

Still though, I notice things, such as: the faverolles let the other birds all eat first. They're very docile-- "oh, you go ahead. We'll come back later for food." Problem is, there is not always food left!

Apparently, this is pretty typical of faverolles-- they're polite to a fault. And, they are almost always at the bottom of a pecking order because of their sweetness.

So, I may have to do something I've been toying with: extend the one side of the pen. I'd build a small little coop. For 2-6 birds, it would not need to be very big. I fully expect that my buff babies and the wyandotte babies will be able to be accepted into the big flock. The newbie dark brahma will also probably be assertive enough to be eventually accepted too. But the faverolles may never be assertive enough to do this. By making the extension big enough, I could have the faverolles there.

Alternatively, I could easily build a portable coop. See photo here. I'm leaning more toward this idea, because that way, I could have the birds nibble lots of fun stuff in the back section. And with only two birds, this is a totally reasonable idea.

Here's a close-up shot of the dark brahma's coloring.

Another awkward "what is going on?!!" photo.

Another interesting kick with the salmon faverolles is that they have feathered feet. AND, the feet have FIVE toes, not four (typical chickens have three toes in the front and one in the back). FUNKY cool birds.
So that's the scoop. The more I think about it, the more I'm leaning toward a portable pen for these faverolles girls. They are quite sweet and really something.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Odd duck out and about.

Waiting to turn out from my work's parking lot, I look across the street and I see him.

Do you see him? That spot in the hotel across the street's driveway?

If not, here's a closer shot.

Yup. Just sitting there. Concierge duck.

Garden pictures

Things are happening in the yard! I'll do a complete inventory update at the bottom of this post.

My first spinach sprouts are coming up!

The broccoli seedlings have been planted. There are about 50 of them, so when they get bigger and more hardy, I may have to move a few to another spot!

Here's a closeup of a few broccoli starts.

My peas are doing well. These are the sugar snaps. They are, by far, the most robust when it comes to growth. I am FINE with that, because I LOVE sugar snap peas. They were also the pea type I planted the most of!

Then we have the snow peas. They are doing pretty well. Not as vigorous growers as the sugars, but pretty close.

Last but not least, we have the green arrow peas. They are doing ok, but they have issues. They can't seem to figure out how to grow. They will grab onto the trellis, but then give up and flop back down. SO frustrating.

In the orchard, I made a few happy discoveries. I wasn't expecting much fruit to show on the trees this year, since a) they are young, and b) they were transplanted this year.

But, on the apricot tree, we have at least one apricot:

The cornelian cherries are showing little green cherries.
And the peach tree is covered with 20+ little fuzzy baby peaches!

The flower bed by the chicken is looking pretty nice. The garlic (in the background by the chicken pen) are also getting really thick stalks, making me think that hopefully, there are large bulbs of garlic underneath.

In the flower bed, the gladiolas are beginning to come up.

Another section of the bed showing more gladiolas. I think B planted around 100.

The volunteer comfrey (we have it all over our yard; I moved this one to this bed) is doing well too. Comfrey is supposedly great as a topical salve and scar-reducer. It's not recommended to eat the plant, but the flowers do have a sweet-tasting nectar that you can put on your tongue.
The strawberries are also coming into season in full force. We have about 15 of these buckets, as well as a 6'x3' bed of strawberries.
Close up of a little, forming strawberry.

So here's the plant update:

  • Cherries: bloomed, but no sign of cherries yet.
  • Shiro plum: bloomed, but no sign of plums yet.
  • Peach: Bloomed, 20+ baby peaches.
  • Asian pear: needs to be planted and babied, as it's looking shabby.Apricot: Bloomed, at least 1 apricot.
  • Cornelian Cherries: Bloomed, and many baby cherries.
  • Dwarf apricots: Bloomed, but need to investigate further to see if apricots are forming.
  • Dwarf peach: Needs treatment; has curly leaf. Bloomed, but need to see if there are babies.
  • Fig: Not mine, but shared with another tenant: many figs forming.

  • Raspberries: About to bloom. Good growth. Need to do some wiring on the trellis for additional support.
  • Blueberries: blooms galore. Some blooms are beginning to fall off, showing baby blueberries beginning to form. The two pink lemonade blueberries are not doing well, and I may call the nursery to complain.
  • Black currants: Doing very well. Much greenery, and that sort of hides a lot of their blooms. It will be interesting to see how many of them form currants. Very leafy and bright green. Love it.
  • Red currant: Ha, still hasn't been planted! It has been in a bucket with dirt. It's doing really well! I will eventually build a planter for it and plant it properly.
  • Gogi berries: Eeh. Very small and spindly. I may complain about the quality of plant I received.
  • Blackberries: These are wild in our yard, though my neighbor and I are trying to trellis them in one spot. Of COURSE they came in with a vengeance. So, we'll have blackberries come July.
  • Gooseberry: Not really doing much. Has green leaves, but that's about it. I need to review any special nutrients they like.
  • Strawberries: Doing really well. Lots of blooms and small strawberries forming.

Root & Bulb Plants:
  • Garlic: Doing very well. About 45 plants, and the stalks are getting thick. Harvest will probably be in June or early July.
  • Potatoes: Planted 1.5 weeks ago. No signs of sprouting yet. I may cover them up once this rain passes; I need to read up on what soil temperature potatoes like,what sort of nutrients, and how long until the sprouts are supposed to show.
  • Sweet potatoes: Arrived yesterday in the mail. I suspect their desired soil temp is about 10 degrees warmer than what we have right now. So, I'm going to plant them once this rain passes, and I'll likely cover them with white plastic for insulation. Right now, their root tips are in water at home. They will be trellised to help control the vines.
  • Parsnip: To be planted late May.
  • Carrots: To be planted asap!!!
  • Parsley root: To be planted asap.
  • Onion: I need to start limiting their sunlight once this rain ends. I don't want bulb growth to start now.
  • Leek: I need to figure out where to put the winter leeks, as they need to be started soon.
  • Horseradish: I have three roots that need to be planted asap. They need a controlled box, otherwise they'll supposedly spread like crazy!

Trellised Plants:
  • Peas: all three varieties doing well, though the green arrow can't seem to stay upright.
  • Beans: to be planted mid-May. Pole variety only, I think.
  • Sweet potatoes: see above.
  • Cucumbers: To be planted mid-May. I think only yellow cucumbers, but we'll see.

Melons and Squash:

  • Patty pan yellow squash: To be planted mid-May
  • Patty pan yellow & green squash: To be planted mid-May
  • Zucchini: to be planted mid-May.
  • Magda squash: to be planted mid-May.
  • Crooked neck yellow squash: To be planted mid-May
  • Butternut: Need to review when to plant.
  • Pumpkin: Need to review when to plant.
  • Turbin: need to review when to plant.
  • Melons: need to determine what varieties and plant early June (I think-- I need to confirm)

Leafy vegetables:

  • Spinach: Beginning to sprout!
  • Basil: Nothing yet. I will begin to cover the bed once this rain lets up.
  • Arugula and other leafy vegetables: I need to determine what else (and where at) I want to plant, includes Kale.

Tomatoes, Tomatillos and Ground Cherries:

  • Tomatoes: about 80% are planted. I want to do another flat of plain-type tomatoes for sauces.
  • Tomatillos: Planted, but no sign of life yet. I last checked yesterday morning.
  • Ground cherries: Planted, but no sign of life yet. I have another 2 packets to plant. I really want these to come up!

Other Vegetables:

  • Broccoli: Seedlings planted and in the ground. May need to think and transplant if they do well and begin to crowd.
  • Cauliflower: Seedings ready to be planted in the ground. Will need to start a few more too (only have about 10 seedlings). May do more in pots-- need to research if they do well in pot habitat.
  • Eggplant: Need to start seedlings asap in the laundry room.
  • Okra: Need to start seedlings asap in the laundry room.
  • Gypsy peppers: Seeds planted in the laundry room, no sign of life yet; planted 1.5 weeks ago.
  • Other peppers: waiting for seeds to arrive.
  • Edamame: I may need to start over. I had to move them outside, and they are NOT liking it. But, they grow fast, so perhaps I will have plants grow this summer. This is why these were my "experimental" crop!!

I think that's it! Well, no mention of flowers... that's a whole other subject.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A new project.

Here I was, minding my own business, sitting on the couch this evening.

And then it struck. Idea lightning.

I LOVE the way canned food looks. Or even just food in mason jars. There's something so earthy and delicious and natural about it. But, my canned good storage is currently the unusable back section of the countertop. You know, where the countertop is in an L shape and the back corner is unusable, dark and creepy. Yes, that's where my canned foods go, banished to a life not full of appreciative eyes.

It's very hard to keep an inventory down there too.
So tonight I thought... why can't I replace that expedit bookshelf in the kitchen with a wall of shelving for our food?

(if you just heard a loud scream, that was my husband, realizing his wife may have just come up with another project).

Really though, it would be lovely to have more room in the kitchen. While it's a fairly large kitchen (given the size of the overall cottage), the cabinets are SO deep that they're cavernous. You lose things in there. This would give us more space. More space= less crowding in the ginormous cabinets.

And oh the bliss. Can you imagine? Beautiful colors. All labeled. All accessible. All homemade.

I may have just cried a little.

Unfortunately, moving the expedit (and it's contents) out means figuring out where to put the stuff it currently contains. Hm. I say "SHED!", but the problem is, shed doesn't exist yet. And, we have to figure out where to put our old record player (complete with old horn). Hm.

So really, the evening boils down to this:
Idea of canned wall...
Then realize shed must occur first...
Then realize new shelf in living room much occur for record player...
Then realize another 40 details...

Heck, with it, I still think it's a good idea and would look fabulous!

I think, perhaps, it's awaiting my attention this summer. Doors and windows open, I renovate in the summer sun.

Pergola Perchin'

There was a corner of our yard I have been displeased with. I could but don't have to put beds there, and it gets afternoon shade (2pm onwards), so it'd great for flowers but not vegetables. I could do veggies there, but I have 40+ other boxes. I'm ok.

In the photo below, I actually moved the boxes on the right back a bit, making the space seem even larger. So now, what to do with that space?

Solution: Pergola.

It's not quite done. And, it's not made out of the most glamorous of woods. I could have built a gorgeous cedar beast with carved top posts.... but I decided to make a nice-but-functional-and-affordable pergola instead.

Cost of the project:
I used doug fir. I realize that might limit the life of this critter, but that's ok. I (as is shown partially finished photo below) stained the fir a deep mahogany color, to make it look a bit more ... pergola-y. I don't know why, but it worked. I already had the 2x3s cut from leftovers from my bed frame project, and I got the rest of the 2x4s for $20. We had the stain. I also have six boards for slats to go across the top, but those aren't up or stained yet. Those cost $18. Some mulch for under it (photos below): $10. Roses: $10. So, total cost for the pergola area: $58. Add $2 for bolts. $60.

That is not shabby.

So here is the first photo... I buried the legs about 1' each. The cross beams provide good extra support. The bolts I bought weren't hacking it to my liking, to I also used 2.5" screws to help secure. The horizontal beams are 10', and the vertical beams are 8'. So, with overlapping accounted for, we have about a 9'x9' pergola that is about 6.5' tall.
Another view... of my mess. I borrowed my neighbor's ladder. And, I almost killed my other neighbor when I tried to put this structure up too fast without double checking the solidness of the bolts. The whole thing came crashing down. One hour later, I put it up myself, thanks to the help of support boards and clamps.
Thought it may not look it, the area this sits on was actually slightly tilted. Grrr. So I filled in the one end with dirt and rocks, Then did load after load of dirt to raise up the interior a bit. I built a rock wall (about 4"-6" high) around the sides of the raised area, and then dumped mulch on the inside. I need to go back for the final two bins. The mulch will eventually look really nice because the dirt area outside the pergola will be wood chips (lighter in color). Right now, the color kind of pops oddly. The four cement bricks are there for the fire pit.

And then, there are the roses. I was at Walmart (uck, yes, but I needed something I couldn't find elsewhere) this weekend, and they had $2 roses. NO JOKE. $2. So, I bought five climbing roses: one whitish, one yellow, one red, one pink, and one yellowish red. They all looked pretty healthy, so here's hoping. I side treated them yesterday with blood meal and watered them well, so I think they've been given the best shot possible. I have this vision of chairs underneath, a fire pit going, and roses climbing around. Bliss.
Ok, it totally looks crooked in this photo, but I swear, it's not! This photo takes a lot of envisioning, but imagine more flowers in rock beds around the pergola. And imagine light-colored mulch on the dirt. I may also pot up some love lies bleeding and hang the pots from the pergola. I think that'd be gorgeous.

Yes, our own little private biergarden. But I love it... it really adds some character to that end of the yard, and it adds structure for the rest of our plans around there. Here's hoping those roses GROW!!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Update (no gory details, no photos)

Yesterday, I mentioned the chicken. She was still suffering by the afternoon. We (my neighbor and I) got wonderful help through HipChickDigs who came by to give us a tutorial and a hand. I felt a big relief in having it done with, as I knew the hen was hurting.

All in all, it was...unnerving, odd, fast, and circle-of-lifeish.

Unnerving because I saw an animal get killed. On purpose. But yet I should be ok with this, as an omnivore who eats chicken. To see it happen though is unnerving.

Odd. I was both relieved and sad to see the hen go. She was suffering, so yes, it was a good thing, but then again, she was supposed to live so much longer.

Fast... it was very strange to see how FAST a feathered hen can go from that to being something you'd recognize in a grocery store. In fact, when you're doing the gutting/cleaning, it's not MUCH different than reaching into a turkey cavity and pulling out the bits in there for you. I thought that'd be the worse part, but by the time we reached that part (rather fast), we were all hunched over the bird, learning.

Circle of lifeish: forgive the hippiness in that statement, but that's as best as I have. I eat meat. A hen is meat. Rather than have it brought to me, I saw what it was and what it became. It was oddly personal; this was not an animal I shot from afar.

All in all, I think I could do this later when the time comes. It's not something I'd like to do every day; I like having the sensitivity to life, and I worry that any sort of frequency might dull that.

I don't know yet if I will eat the bird. She's awfully small (maybe 1lb?), and, more importantly, she was not healthy before she died. While the meat should be fine... I have my hesitancies, and so she'll probably end up buried in a quiet spot in the backyard. But she gave us a lesson nonetheless. If she had been healthier, then yes. Or if I had seen her fall. But since I hadn't, I don't want to take any chances, however minute.

But the whole event made me appreciate my food more. Generally, when I eat chicken, it's consumed, not really appreciated. If I was to eat her, I'd be appreciative of her and what she gave. The best analogy (however different) I can draw is eating storebought cookies mindlessly and then savoring homemade ones. It's a much more powerful feeling than that, but that's the best I have right now. Thankfulness.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Grow room and unfortunate news.

Don't worry-- legal growing.

I finally rigged up my grow room in the laundry room. I took my bins off some of the shelves, rigged up the light, hung it, and plugged it in. I also put a board across the two slats so that I wouldn't worry about accidentally having a flat of starts fall through the cracks.

So far, I have two flats of tomatoes (so something like 70 tomato plants. oh oh....)-- there are 7 types of tomatoes. I also have one flat of ground cherries, gypsy peppers, and purple tomatillos. No germination yet from the ground cherry/gypsy peppers/purple tomatillo flat, but that's ok. I didn't have them in a sunny spot, and they could take up to two weeks to germinate (they were only planted earlier this week). Here's hoping. I have another seed packet of ground cherries to plant (yes, they're THAT GOOD), and I'm hoping to get my hands on some more gypsy pepper seeds. After they were features in the New York Times, there appears to have been a run on the seeds. Drat. Those peppers will supposedly grow well in our climate, whereas some of the others (more intense sun/heat lovin') won't. Grumble. Hm.

Anyway, here are a few more of my tomatoes. Excited. I planted 2 seeds per pot, and many pots had both come up. I decided to go for it and try to save the second seedling. I used tweezers and transplanted. As of today, it looks like there is success so far. Here's hoping.

So, on to the unfortunate news. No, I won't be posting process photos on the blog, but today, I get to learn how to butcher a chicken. (insert gasps).

I have a chicken who decided it would be a "good idea" to fly up in the coop and come crashing back down. I found her on the bottom of the coop, leg badly broken and head badly bonked. I put her in a basket in the coop. She could see out through little holes, and no other chickens could pester her (I put a lid on the basket). I reexamined the leg yesterday, and she can't even bend it at the knee. It's swollen and something's definitely wrong. The poor girl has been laying on her side. She will eat, but it's at great effort.

Yesterday, I googled "how to butcher a chicken." Yes, I really did that. I had called my poultry butcher in town, but their next process is on Wednesday. Too long for that girl to suffer. The google turned up a blog post from a gal who recently did a bunch of chickens (graphic post), and randomness of randomness, she was in my town. Craziness. I emailed her, and she offered to come over, give a hand, and show me how it's done.

I am unnerved about this. Which, when you think about it, that's kind of selfish. I eat meat. I should not be divorced from the process whence meat comes from. Every time I eat a bit of chicken, this process occurred, and, often, to chickens that never saw the light of day or could run around. This chicken, though her life was shorter than I wanted, led a happy chicken life. Sigh. It's a bullet I need to bite. These are not pets, they're farm animals. Comical, hilarious, goofy farm animals. And she does look up at me with such sad eyes. SIGH.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ousting the Edamame

The edamame were going crazy in the laundry room. Plus, with no overhead lighting on them (sun substitute), they were growing stalky, trying to reach for the sun coming through the window.

So, I painstakingly untangled them (losing a few in the process... but what else could be done??) and planted them in pots. Right now they are hardening out in the sun. My hope is to cover them tonight and then place them tomorrow afternoon in a makeshift plastic hot house (leftover from a previous tenant).

I realize I'm risking a bit by putting them outside. The high today will be 63, but it's currently 45 outside. Erg. I hope they're ok, as the sun is directly shining on them. Now I know for next year: Edamame CAN grow here, and they grow fast. Wait till May/early June, and plant them outside. This was one of my experiment crops this year, so -- something learned, right?

In other news, I finished buying my carrots and parsnips yesterday. They, and my parsley root, need to go in asap. Now that the rain has stopped (for now), I can put plastic over my basil and spinach too, which will hopefully warm them up and promote sprouting.

I will tackle the laundry room tonight-- I need to rework some thing so that I have lamps on my tomatoes and peppers. Two flats of tomatoes did very well in germination. I have a third flat that was planted 3 days ago. It has peppers, ground cherries and tomatillos in there, but no germination yet. The ground cherries could take as long as 2 weeks to germinate. GEEZ. Stuck under a bin on top the washer... I doubt I'm highly promoting germination. So, I'll have to rework some things and get some light on everyone. I also want to fill my tomatoes with some more soil so that their long little stems are more covered, and hopefully, they'll form roots where they're covered, making the entire seedling stronger. I hope, at least.

I've also figured out how I'm going to manage my beans and my sweet potatoes. Did you know sweet potatoes can grow vines of up to 20'!? AND, you shouldn't really let them touch the ground because they could root where they touch. Geez. I'll work on that project this weekend and will let you know how that goes.

In other projects:
Uck, that's where the fireplace area is going to go. I wanted to take a photo so there's at least documentation of a "before." My thoughts on the "after" is a large, flat (it's pretty sloped right now) area with a barrier to the path on the right, flowers (love lies bleeding-- so cool) by the rose against the house, and terrace that rose over the area. We'll see.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ocean dog!

Last weekend, we went to the coast one morning. It was a gorgeous day, so we decided to risk it and trot over to Florence. I say "risk" because it can be gorgeous inland and nasty at the coast.

AND, it was Maddie's first time out there, so we were excited.

She was excited too. First, the air conditioning vent was exciting in the car...
Then, the sunbeams on her when she was in the back seat were lovely.
Gratuitous butt shot. It's just so fluffy!!!

Sitting in the surf. We went to a beach where the waves don't crash right on shore, that way she could go off-leash and we wouldn't have to worried about our doggie girl getting sucked by waves.
She was pretty amazed with the whole bit.
She was very good about staying near us off-leash. But SO much to explore!
30 minutes in, she was still going strong.
Water! Jump!
Afterwards, we wanted to go to Moes for lunch, but since it was a bit warm, we didn't want to leave Maddie in the car. So, we went to A&W... the old kind with the drive up, clip-the-tray-on-your-windshield type. I always cringe when they clip that on my windshield.

We didn't want Mads to eat too much, since the drive back was a bit windy. But, she was perfectly content to lick our empty boxes. Oh gosh, was she thrilled. She even got a slight chili stain on her nose.
Obviously, the treat was enjoyed by her.
Oh, but the post-A&W stomach. Happy and full, but almost too much.
Oh, so happy, so full, too much.
Nah, she's fine. It was the humans who were particularly regretting it.

So that was our morning. We had a great time. She did not try to drink the saltwater or eat every bit of gunk she could find, which makes us pretty excited to take her out there again. She liked the water too, but not too much, so I suspect we'll probably let her off-leash in calm areas, but stay on-leash in areas that have too much wild surf.

She slept most of the way home.