Christmas 2015

Another post to save . . .

Sunshine on the Bridge

As I mentioned in the last post, we changed a lot of things this year. It was wonderful. We had a wonderful Advent season filled with quiet. Quiet in the midst of the world’s chaos.

Christmas Eve: We all got up when we were ready (or the puppy was ready) and had a fairly leisurely breakfast and a few quiet minutes. Chili was mixed up and in the crockpot by 8:30. Cupcakes quickly followed by 9:30. At 10:00 we started the decorating. First the tree, then the lights, and then the stockings.

One of our new traditions is adding an ornament that symbolizes one of the 12 Days of Christmas.  This year we added the Partridge.  You can see it hanging on the bottom center in the picture of our tree.

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30 years ago, Kelly’s Grandma made us a beautiful Navity set. It has been treasured. Over the years, many…

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Rain

Moving so I don’t lose the pictures! July 16, 2015

Sunshine on the Bridge

And the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down, and the flood rose up, up, upper . . .
—Winnie the Pooh

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July 21, 2016

There is going to be a lot of activity happening on the blog for a few days.   I’m moving some posts over from my other blog.  There are book lists that I don’t want to lose and some posts that I want to keep.  I’m hoping the posts will sort of just appear in their correct chronological timeframe, but since I’m not super great about web “stuff”  . . .

The little garden that could just keeps giving and giving.  We’re still getting strawberries, blackberries are so thick we get about a half gallon a day.  We are freezing some, but first we eat all we can hold.  There is nothing better than a fresh blackberry still warm from the sun,  Oh my!!  The lettuce, kale, and spinach are all done.  We hit some really hot days and everything bolted (meaning got bitter because it put all its energy into a seed stalk).  This reminds me that I want to have built in screen frames for the new garden beds.  Cucumbers, sweet peppers and tomatoes are all starting to do their thing.  So delicious.

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This year we are buying potatoes, yellow squash, and zucchini from a local farmer.  It’s easier and while we make this transition I’m glad to have that resource near by.

Now that we are chicken free, we have to be more careful about what we put in the compost bucket.  Often our chicken scrap bucket and compost bucket were the same.  Now I have a list on the kitchen chalkboard to help us remember to be careful.image

 

Berries

It looks like an awesome year for berries.  The old established bushes are tall, filled with berries, and more blooms popping up daily.  The newly transplanted bushes are growing like crazy.

We put in three blueberry bushes.  These are planted in mounds of prepared soil.  This should provide the acidity and drainage they need.  We also put in three hardy kiwi vines.  I’ve never tried them before and was really curious about the possibility.  Hopefully all these plants will grow happily and be providing food in a couple of years.

I included a picture of the rabbit in her new space.  She loves it!  I’m happy because she stays cooler and dry.  Nobody has to take her ice bottles when it is hot or cover her when it rains.  Awesome progress!  I’m very excited because next week Michael will start building my 2nd bunny house.  I hope to bring home a new little one in just a few weeks.  My girl is getting older and I can’t go without that magical manure that rabbits provide.  They are truly my favorite farm critter.

The rabbits may be our only farm critter next year.  We’re seriously discussing not keeping chickens anymore.  It has a lot to do with day-to-day care and the monumental task of end of season clean up.   The egg to feed cost benefit has been decreasing and I am increasingly unhappy with the feeds available.    We aren’t eating nearly as many eggs as we have in the past.  And if there is one thing about farm life I detest, besides the bugs, it is raising baby chicks.  Just no, not again.

The family is doing very well.  We have adjusted to Michael being home.  He’s been doing a lot of projects and day-to-day care of the place.  The yard looks amazing as he has time to keep up with it.  We’re still only using and cutting a little more than an acre of our land.  The remaining is growing wilder and wilder.  And I love that.  The tree line is slowly marching from the back boundary line to the house.

In my head, I imagine this place with a secret garden feel in the front yard, a small retirement house built where our current house sits, a workshop for wood and bikes, tiny house for Michael, and maybe a tiny house for Hannah (if she chooses to build here).  I imagine a small vegetable garden, row upon row of fruit, trees shading and sheltering us all, and Jasper running through it all in his happy goofy business-like manner.

Kelly continues to commute by sharing a ride with Hannah, the bus, and his bike.  He’s busy with summer work projects, learning computer stuff, and has been learning to maintain the bikes.  He loves his bike; althoug that may be an understatement!  It’s a feeling I understand.  I find myself gazing at my bike quite fondly these days too.   I’m riding daily, continuing my home yoga practice, and spending my days quietly productive.   Hannah continues to do amazing work with her hands and her words.  She amazes me with the way she puts words together to make a point.  It’s a gift.  Michael has been busy with the yard, categorizing the world of D&D/Pathfinder, and helping with the Saturday Farmers’ Market.

Transitions

 

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Times they are a changin’  — constantly is seems.  Just as I adjust to a new normal something happens, and I’m right back in figuring it all out all over again.

The weather has been wet.  Beautiful, but wet.

The garden is sort of stasis.  Things aren’t dying, but they aren’t quite thriving either.  They are sort of stalled at almost but not quite ready to pick.  My tomato seedlings rotted and the peppers never even sprouted.  The transplanted blackberries and grapes look amazing.  The new kiwi vines look really good too, still small, but looking quite nice.  The pruned blackberries look posed to take over the world with a tremendous amount of fruit.  The new strawberries are getting quite bushy. And even though it breaks my heart just a little, I have been diligent about removing the flowers and the daughters.

I’ve been working on a 100 square foot flower bed.  I always buy cut flowers with my grocery money.  It led me to wonder if I couldn’t just make a bed full of flowers to cut.  I’m hoping to add another 100 square foot bed to the flowers.  I’m planting a mix of things:  peony, hollyhocks, wild flowers, and a mix of different flower seed packets.  I just pick them up without giving it too much thought.  I am trying to keep the colors in the same general scheme.  So far it’s too soon to know how that bed is doing.  It looks like a tangle of weeds, but I’m pretty sure it’s not.  I just don’t know which plant is which flower yet.   I kind of took a meadow approach — you know, stand in one place and scatter the mixed seeds, hoping it will look fairly natural.

Michael got me a beautiful oak tree for Mother’s Day this year.  It is planted smack in the middle of the old dog yard.  We also planted a peach and cherry tree.  Both of those are dwarf varieties and were planted near the sidewalk.   I am hoping they’ll shade the windows in a few years.

Another big change is the fence.  We changed it from just a dog yard to around the entire front yard.  That makes mowing easier, makes planning garden beds, perennial plantings, and my dream of a labyrinth easier too.  I’m shifting my focus from what worked when we were younger to what will work when we are “retired.”   Everything we learned in the past 19 years at our little place will now be refined over the next 15 years.

The chickens are still laying at peak production levels.   Our lone remaining Silver-Gray Dorking has gone broody.  Hopefully she’ll raise a nice clutch of young ones.  We need to expand the current chicken yard sometime soon.  And we will probably need to build a new chicken coop with yards.

We still have one lone rabbit.  She lives in a double cage and seems quite happy.  She provides enough manure for the compost heap.  I think I’d like another one.  She’s getting a bit on the old side, and I cannot imagine this little place without rabbit manure.  It is almost magic stuff!

That is about all the farm-stead news.  Family update later on . . .

 

Earth Day

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“Lose the earthquakes–Keep the faults, fill the oceans without the salt. Let every man own his own hand.” World by Five for Fighting

“Can you dig it, baby?” Oh yes, yes indeed, I can. Creation care is a very important aspect of my faith and life. I strive to be a good steward of this beautiful home we all live upon. I’m not perfect, there is certainly much room for improvement, but I can honestly say I am aware, careful, and deliberate.

Here are some of my easy-peasy habits:

reusable water bottle
cloth napkins
reusable grocery bags
turn off the faucet
turn off the light
walk (or bike) more, drive less
shop thrift stores
grow some food
famers’ markets
hang your clothes and lose the dryer
Tomorrow’s calling . . .

The garden in March

The garden in March is very wet, very messy place to be.  The air is cold, the soil is cold, and it is wet.  Very wet.  That makes March the best time, I’ve found, for pulling up the weeds.  You can really get at those roots–they practically slide out of the ground.  But because it is so wet, you really need to use your hands.  The hoe will just make a ball of muck out of your lovely garden soil.

We never, well almost never, walk in our garden beds.  This keeps the soil light, airy, and springy.  So it is a bit hard to get the ones in the very middle.  But we try.

Here’s a bit from my March garden journal:

March
March 11– Bed 1/Perennial Bed:  weeded the area around the Lavender.  Planted 18 strawberry plants.
March 15– Bed 1:  weeded next section.  Did not plant.  Still a few big tufts for Kelly to remove first.
March 19– bought wood for rabbit hutch frame and seed starter pots
March 21 — Seed flat 1:  basil, parsley, oregano, arugula, kale, spinach, lettuce.  Seed flat 2:  zucchini, yellow squash, buttercup squash, watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber, marigold, tomato,  bell pepper, cilantro, arugula.  Purchased flower seeds.
March 24 — first sprouts are up in the seed flats
March 25 — moved sprouts to new seed flat.  Watered all.  Strawberries don’t appear to be living — check in 2 weeks and rebuy.

 

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