Saturday, May 31, 2014

{Garden Update}

Things are coming up green! Granted, it's still early, and the usual amount of bugs haven't shown up yet, but the plants are loving life, and shaping up quite nicely! I certainly underestimated the pumpkins, which are taking over at alarming rates, and the leaves are bigger than my hands! The cucumbers are starting to grow,too, and are going to need a trellis soon. The peppers are starting to blossom, and the tomatoes are going crazy! I was looking up the varieties I had to get some information on them, and to research some kind of fungus or rot that set in on a few branches, and apparently they are supposed to get 6-10 feet tall depending on which one we're talking about, which makes me wonder how I'm going to reach something that high! We've already got 16-20 fruit set on the plants, and the smell of the tomato plants is overwhelmingly nostalgic. As if all these weren't enough, the sunflowers Jeff got me are flowering beautifully, and really are the happiest flowers in the world! I've been really enjoying the time outside this spring that I certainly did not spend last year, and am anxiously waiting for that first ripe tomato!
Garden today...
Garden 1 week ago
Where you goin', pumpkin?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

{Mother's Day}

Every year gets a little more nostalgic for the women I would have celebrated today. Mountains among women, talented, strong, opinionated, passionate, endearing, and memorable.  I continue to find moments that radiate the impact they have had on my life in small and profound ways. As we have been working to establish the garden this summer, it has been astounding how much was absorbed in my childhood in the summers spent outside with her in the hearty vegetable gardens watching her, and carrying out tasks that at the time I resented her for. I remember her making me spend hours weeding or picking off caterpillars from the tomatoes. I remember learning about the impressive varieties of things she grew, which without a doubt lead to my easy love of fresh vegetables. I remember when we would tell her we were hungry, we were redirected to the garden, where we could pick a tomato, cucumber, green bean, or any number of other options, rinse them off, and eat them while swinging on the swing set. I remember the years of canning by my mother and my grandmothers side, learning the process and recipes for each thing we preserved. I remember being terrified of getting burned, and watching in amazement as they unflinchingly handled the hot jars and scalding water. 

And although they are no longer here to ask for help and suggestions, their lessons have been deeply imbedded, slipping out when I need them most, and in those moments I am deeply grateful to have had such tremendous women to remember on Mother's Day.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

{Fresh Eggs}

So, perhaps this is a little bit of the cart before the horse, but I've been thinking about this since we started this thing. We're going to have a lot of eggs for two people. A LOT of eggs. like two dozen more than we need a week... at least. So, I thought I'd feel out if anyone would have any interest in getting TRUE cage free, free-range, grass fed, not just hormone free ( because, FDA wouldn't allow any poultry producer to sell something given "hormones", btw) but also anti-biotic ( which is what the industry is actually using to act like hormones)  free eggs, from happy, spoiled-rotten ( the chickens, not the eggs), very funny, and animated chickens.

I'm anticipating things to get cooking around mid to end of June, so I wanted to know of at least a few people who might be interested when the eggs start rolling in. We're looking forward to a colorful assortment of brown and blue-green eggs, that are going to taste better than anything you've bought in a store.

I'm even willing to DELIVER eggs to your door. That's right, full on customer service with smile, by yours truly.

So take a look on the newly minted Facebook Page, see if you're interested, & let me know! In return, I'll keep you in the loop as things start to get real interesting in the next month or so!


Friday, May 2, 2014

{ The Final 8 }

Well, the amount of poultry wondering around our house has fluctuated from 6, to 32, to 12, and finally down to 8, where I think we'll keep it a while. This week we dropped off the last three at a friend's farm including this lady below. She got two of the Silver Laced Wyandottes, and one of the Buff Brahmas. They are going to have more space than they know what to do with there, including horses, donkeys and another set of dogs. We'll miss them, but I think everyone is happier for the less crowded coop. 

So, here are the final 8 ladies remaining, complete with names for everyone! The three golden comets ( the three red girls) were the first to get names almost as soon as we got them, because we always knew they would be sticking around. Ginger, Sunshine, and Freckles as by far our sweetest chickens, and will be the biggest egg producers. I love having them around! 

This is Rosemary (Rosie). She's the only one of the Silver Laced Wyandottes that we kept.  Personally, I think this breed is a lovely one, and when she's full grown she'll have beautiful lacey-looking feathers. However, the three of them together, while the youngest, were the pushiest in the bunch and were picking fights with the older ladies, so I think the other two will be much happier at the top of their pecking order at the farm. 

This is Winifred ( Winnie). She's one of the Easter-eggers, and looks like she's going to be a lovely wheaton color. She's the shyest of the bunch, but is the easiest to pick up and work with. She's a total sweetheart. I'm very eager to see what color her eggs are going to be!  

This is Becky. Her Easter-egger beard/ear tufts crack me up every time I look at her. She's turning out to be quite the runt of the bunch, and quite the spaz, but she's definitely a lovely bird, and doesn't mind being at the bottom of the pecking order. She patiently waits for food, and prefers to snuggle up to the big girls at night. 

Chipmunk has always been one of my spunkier chickens, and is one of the Buff Brahmas that I kept. She's curious, outgoing, and little naughty. You have to keep your eye on this one, or she'll get into something, or peck a ring off your finger! Still, she's pretty cuddly, and will do anything for a treat. 
 Last but not least is miss Bryony. She's  the other Buff Brahma that is going to be sticking around. She's blonder than Chipmunk, but less outgoing. She's usually one of the girls quietly running things from the background, like the chicken godfather, if you will. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

{Find a Reason to Smile}

*Today's post is brought to you by the magic of Google Awesome, which, without my knowing, backs up my pictures from my phone and does silly things with them.

The last week or so has been, to be frank, BLAH. There's been a lot of stress and rotten news to go around, for both Jeff and I and people I know, and in dealing with it, I've been focusing on things that make me happy in my life, and bring a smile. 

Like these lovely ladies. They are goofy, moody, sweet, and entertaining to just sit and watch. They are always so happy to see me when I get home in the evening, that I don't even mind cleaning up after them! 

I know, I know. I'm a little obsessed, and everyone things this about their own, but my dogs are pretty darn awesome. Just when I think my day is going to be outright terrible, they pop up at my side and make me laugh and forget myself for a few minutes. 

This Guy. This guy puts up with my impulses, harebrained ideas, and high maintenance temper. I am sincerely lost without this guy.

Oh, to have a space to sit and be. We finally got the Adirondack chairs put together and stained, a canopy for shade, and now, combining watching silly chickens with Jeff and the clown dog duo is now a breezy relaxing activity that I look forward to. 

I'm certainly glad and grateful for the simple things in life that make me smile even on days when I feel less than happy.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

{ Chicken Update }

The goal for this year was to work towards a larger idea of self-sufficiency, and a more immediate desire to spend more time outside doing and enjoying this summer.

So far. So good.

The chickens are pretty low maintenance, especially compared to the dogs. They do however seem to REALLY enjoy when I get home in the evenings, as they all come rushing out of the coop, or whatever object they were pecking out, and are eager to get out the run to explore the yard. That includes Cooper and Kate, who they seem to have no fears of.  I'd like to think that I worked really hard with the two pups while we were brooding the chicks to help them understand that the chickens are not like the other birds outside and are not to be chased or eaten - and to my surprise, they do really well with them! At best, they show a total disinterest, and at worst, they nose them around, and get their feelings hurt when the chickens come right up to their snouts and peck at them.

This is not to say I trust them alone together, because I don't. I know both my dogs well enough that given the right trigger, they both have excellent prey drives and that a flighty chicken may quickly become a dead one.  So, direct supervision only - and the tiny suburban backyard farm continues to go smoothly!

{Spring Weekend}

Jeff is gone six days and home for two in his work rotation. So, the days off he gets rotate. This past weekend was the first full weekend we have both had off together in over six weeks. Lucky for us, the sun shined, the breeze blew, and we made the most of a spring weekend in Kentucky.

We started it off with a lunch date to Windy Corner Market, a quaint local restaurant that is accompanied with a beautiful drive along well manicured horse farms. The food was delicious and had a laid back atmosphere that you could soak up.  It set the tone for the rest of the weekend, which was spent building and planting the vegetable garden we've been talking about, getting herbs started, and spending time down on the farm with family and the dogs watching the semi-annual LDS conference.  

I left this weekend feeling refreshed, optimistic about this summer, and contented with my life. 

In two planters, we have starter herbs for basil, mint, parsley,cilantro, rosemary, and lavender. 
Jeff also planted a peach tree this weekend! While it may take a couple of years to bear fruit, the blossoms that we get to enjoy now are gorgeous! 

Monday, March 24, 2014

{Yard Birds}

My life, ever animal themed, has taken an agricultural turn as of late. The discussion started over a year ago, When I mentioned how much I'd like a pig... which Jeff promptly shot down ( and probably with good reason). This led to other conversations, one of which was keeping Chickens. Surprisingly enough, it was something we both agreed on, and so, a year ago, we both decided that this summer we would make efforts towards learning new skills in self sufficiency, and along with a vegetable garden, building up a respectable food storage, we are venturing into the world of urban ( or in our case Suburban) chickens.

After Copious amounts of research and planning, we started at the end of February with the first set of chicks. I wanted a varied flock with different breeds so that they would first, be easier to tell apart, second, provide a varied set of eggs, and third, would give us some experience on the difference between chicken breeds first hand. As different breeds started to hatch and trickle in to the local feed stores, we started our search and ended up with four different breeds of chickens in our flock. Golden Comets, Buff Brahmas, Easter Eggers, and Silver Laced Wyandottes.

The first several weeks are spent keeping them warm in a brooder, out of their water source, and out of the mouths of canines. While I'm sure the choosing of particularly docile breeds has been a huge factor, these guys are by in large very sweet, curious, and easy to manage. Some are flightier than others, but a couple of them are happy to eat right from your hand, and are just as interested in the dogs as the dogs are in them ( Though I suspect they have very different motives). It has been surprisingly easier than I thought it would be so far, and provided Mother Nature can get her act together, we will be transitioning them outside as each chicken becomes old enough.  Until then, the older girls enjoy day trips outside, while they younger ones enjoy free reign of the brooder in their absence!

Chickmunk is a sassy Buff Brahma, feathered legs and all!
Nugget is another Buff Brahma, and will make a tasty meal in a few weeks!
This little lady is an Easter Egger, and will lay an egg that can range from blue-green in color. She's a shy, but calm little bird so far! 
This is Becky! She's also an Easter Egger, and we're curious how she's going to feather out. So far, every one of our easter eggers looks very different from the other, and I'm curious how different their eggs will be, too!

 Some of these ladies will be dinner in a month or two, while most of them will be laying a colorful set of eggs, both being more organic and healthful than anything we can find in a store! We're certainly looking forward to the fun, struggle and adventure that these gals have in store for us!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

{How to Be By Yourself}

When Jeff first started driving for a living, there was difficult transition. He was gone for several weeks at a time, and when he was home, it was only for a couple of days before leaving again. During that time I had to re-learn how to be by myself. How to go through the day without bumping into someone else at home. The first couple of weeks were the worst, and while I had the newly adopted Cooper to help ease into the transition, it was still a rough switch.

But as the weeks went on, it got easier, and it was almost like learning to be single again, in the sense that I had to be more self-reliant on a day-to-day basis. I started to look forward to my time alone at night after work, to having full control over the tv, the ability to consume a book without feeling like I should be paying attention to someone else, and I could cook whatever I wanted, Fish, mushrooms, sushi, and it wouldn't matter because Jeff wasn't there to be allergic or detest them! I still missed him to death, and we maintained contact several times a day, but after a long adjustment,  I could get through a day FINALLY without panic attacks, low emotions, or listlessness. It worked. We made it work.

And in November, when Jeff got hurt, I was conflicted. I was over the moon excited to have him home, but internally annoyed, because all of the sudden, I had to start sharing daily routine with someone else again. I had to share the remote, the bed, pillows, meal decisions, use of time, etc. and there were more than a few moments where I felt like he was welcome to leave anytime in the first couple of weeks of having him home non stop. And as we eased back into the routine of having each other around every day, it got comfortable again. I love having Jeff home, I like having him to talk to before bed, to wake me up in the morning, to argue with, to laugh with, and it was nice, REALLY nice to have him home for two months, and those first annoyances were easily forgiven and forgotten.

So here we are, starting the cycle again. The Jolly Green Giant's arm is in ship shape and he's back to work this first week in two and a half months. And he's happy to be back to working, and providing, and I'm learning how to be by myself, again.