Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hooray for planting

I had to work today but managed to get home at a reasonable hour.  Fortunately, since we only had a tiny shower this morning- the garden was READY!!  Of course, as soon as I got home it started clouding up and more rain is moving in.  Looking at the radar it looks like it may miss us again- I'm hoping so, because I didn't get everything in that I wanted.  But... I did get my cabbage, kale, cauliflower and broccoli plants in and under floating row covers.  I'm using the row covers for dual purpose- not only protection from insects but also from the deer and rabbits that are so casually wandering through.  This is my first year with row covers and I'm eager to see how they turn out.
Tomorrow, if it doesn't rain too much, I'm putting in my other early crops- my onions and leeks as well as planting peas, radishes, beets, carrots and some greens (lettuce, chard, spinach).  I've got little romaine starts ready to go as well.
Gardening season is finally here.  Hooray!!  Therapy!!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Taking a risk

I moved my tomato seedlings out onto the porch this afternoon.  A risky business considering the cold temps and wind we've had recently.  They have grown so much that they are starting to grow INTO the lights.  They need to have more space, more light and to harden off so I can plant them outside.  Our last frost date is in two weeks???  The way this year is going, I don't feel I can trust that.  We're still looking at temps into the mid 30s overnight late this weekend.  But those tomatoes NEED to go out. And amazingly enough- two of my tomatillo plants are already blooming!!  They're only about 8 inches tall (pot and all) but they seem to think they are over achievers.
Today was a lovely, sunny, breezy day.  We grilled out for dinner- the first time for the year.  Of course tomorrow is supposed to be rainy.  I'm really hoping that it misses us- or at least if it rains that we only get a little shower.  Maybe, maybe if it doesn't rain tomorrow I'll be able to plant my early stuff in the garden on Sunday.  My usual standards, some of it should have gone in two weeks ago.  sigh...  the angst of gardening.
I've got to work tomorrow.  We had lots of discharges today so I'm a bit worried that it will be ultra busy tomorrow.  But, it will be what it is.
J16 has to be at school by 630 am tomorrow.  She is heading to St Louis for an overnight with members of the Art club.  They will be hitting several museums, the arch and at least one college there.  Mostly, they will have fun.
Oh, and she is quite pleased with herself.  She got her ACT score back.  She got a 28 (highest possible is a 36).  Not too shabby.  Now, she just has to finish that dress for prom.  She's got a week and it's not done yet.  EEK.   I'm probably more concerned than she is.
Now, I've gotta go feed chicks.  They seem to be eating a lot lately.  It must be a growth spurt.  They were so funny this afternoon.  I captured all the random boxelder bugs I could find on the basement window (only a few stragglers) and dropped them into the cage.  The chicks were thrilled and chased each other around.  Our local post office has been forewarned that I've got more chicks coming in next week so all is right with the world (well, at least my tiny corner of it).
Good night all.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Fab Four at 4 weeks

 The obligatory cute chick photos.  We brought them home April 1 so they are now about 4 weeks old.
Perching practice:
Micah and Claudia hop on the stick we have stuck in the corner of the kennel for them.  They just started this behavior for real this week and I've even caught them sleeping on the perch- oh, they're growing up...

Claudia- isn't she a lovely color, a beautiful rusty red
 Claudia is one of our mystery 'Rainbow Layers'.

Micah- our Barred Rock:

Buffy- the Buff Orpington vampire slayer (or at least boxelder bugs!):

And lastly, Eddie- she looks quite scruffy.
Eddie is kind of a runt.  She seems to be several days in development behind the others- although they were all supposed to be the same age.  She has feathered out in odd patterns and looks pretty rough. Her feathers are actually a lovely chocolaty brown color, much darker than I thought she would be.  She is another mystery 'rainbow layer'.
The chicks hate being photographed- they're camera shy.
The new chicks arrive next week.  We have a May 2 hatch date so I expect them Wednesday- of course, I could be wrong- I've never done this before.


Hmm, after writing all that last week, I'm about posted out. That and there's nothing much going on here- much to my great annoyance.  We finally had a day with no rain today.  WOO HOO!  Of course, it is supposed to get down into the mid 30's tonight and over the weekend.  GRRR.   No rain forecast for tomorrow either but thunderstorms on Saturday.  sigh....
I work on Saturday so I'm in the middle of a 6 day stretch.  And work has been emotionally draining this week.  Not the awfulness of the other week- not busy, but just draining.  Since I work in psychiatry, I hear things that people have been through that just break my heart.  Most of the time, I can leave it at work and lose myself in things at home but some this week have stuck with me.  And all this rain and cold weather have deprived me of my garden therapy.
But, in good news for work, we have someone who has accepted the soon-to-be-open position at work.  Unfortunately, she can't start until August so I'm still on hold for my getting to reduce my hours...  While I do really love my job, sometimes I feel that it gets in the way of my life and where I want to go.  But, finances do dictate that I stick around there.
In V's book news, I have been out and about several times with him again recently to take more photos.  That's another thing that the weather hasn't cooperated with.  It's hard to get nice, quality shots of 'haunted' houses when it's raining.  Yesterday, we spent quite a while after work wandering around in a local cemetery looking for a particular headstone. Ah, the things I do for love.  We didn't find it.  V went back to their office today and they couldn't find it it their records either, even though two local historians say that it should be there.    V did manage to get an extension on the image files that were to be done by tomorrow.  He now has until the 13th for the images but still has the manuscript due the end of May.
The chicks are growing huge.  I'll have to take some more photos soon.  Tomorrow we will have had them for 4 weeks.  The others are due to arrive next week.
Speaking of next week, it's going to be crazy busy!  Monday, I have to work, then I'm driving to the Quad Cities to attend my bee keeping class in the evening.  I'm so excited!!  But, I have to drive home and then get up and go to work on Tuesday.  Blah.  However, I have the rest of the week off next week.  Woot!!  Friday is my comp day anyway and I took 2 extra days of vacation.  I'm really hoping the weather cooperates and we're going to build a coop.  And I have about fifty thousand other outside things on my to-do list.
In garden news, I did send an email to Baker Creek Seeds, complaining about the poor germination of the purple tomatillos.  I didn't really want any additional tomatillo seeds so told them that if they wanted to compensate me to surprise me.  So I got an email today telling me to expect a little surprise.  This should be fun.  My other email conversation of the week was with Gurney's.  I had ordered my hardy kiwi vines from them last fall but the female vine didn't overwinter.  So, they are sending me a replacement plant (no charge) that should arrive by mid May.  Not too bad.  Oh, and another thing that doesn't appear to have overwintered (unless they come up really late) are the monarda (bee balm) plants that we started from seed last spring.  They were absolutely gorgeous last year but there is no sign of them this spring yet.  The anise hyssop is up and smelling lovely.  And the coneflowers and blazing star are all looking good.  Who knows.  I won't rip them out yet.
Oh, I almost forgot!!  We have a single little spear of asparagus up!!  We had only one stalk on the entire plant last year.  I don't think I've got it in a very good place.  I really want to get more but I need to find a better home.  This poor little plant has struggled since my parents brought it up to us right after we purchased this place.  You'd think it would have grown a bit in the last two years.  We haven't cut it yet since it is doing so poorly.
Wow, for not much going on, I sure rambled a lot.  Maybe this is my therapy.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

And the winners are...

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

7      11

Timestamp: 2011-04-27 12:45:17 UTC

So that means the winners of the prize packages are:
Erin  and Dmarie

Email me a shipping address and I'll get your surprise packages off to you soon.  The address is fullfreezer (at) gmail (dot) com.
Now I get the fun of putting the packages together... mwahahaha

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Then and Now- Part 7

Looking ahead
I guess I shouldn't really call this then and now since I'm going to talk about some of my dreams for the future and some of the plans as we know it.
The big stuff in the house is mainly done.  Oh, we want to eventually replace the windows for some that are more efficient and in better shape.  Along those lines, I would like to replace the siding on the house as well but that isn't pressing.  Someday we would like to add on a solarium addition onto the southeast corner of the house. This would include a fireplace or wood stove and in my dreams, a hot tub (definitely quite, quite low on the 'green' scale but an indulgence for our mental and physical health).   This area would also allow me to have some potted citrus trees and maybe a fig.
More immediate plans call for the addition of more outdoor living spaces.  We have planned an extension of the deck that will wrap entirely around the addition.  We will replace the west window in the upstairs room in the addition with a door.  Off that deck, we will add a patio between the house and J16's goth garden.  I planted a climbing rose that will grow over an arch as the entrance of the garden.  We will also add another patio area with a fire pit near the south end of the shop, close to the herb/flower garden. We already have the pavers for both of these patios. We purchased them at the end of the summer last year when a local home store was having end of the season sales and they have been stacked until we can get them installed.
The herb/flower garden is in the process of being installed.  The backbone of this bed will be the manchurian apricots and bush cherries I planted last year.  This is also the area where the cranberries will be planted (if it ever stops raining!!)  These will be filled in with a variety of herbs/flowers and I hope to add a bird bath- not necessarily for the birds- but to provide a water source for the bees I'm planning to get. The herb spiral will be near this patio although I still plan to have a bunch of kitchen herbs right off the porch so I can reach them without getting wet if needed.
As far as homesteady additions, we've got chicks and desperately need to get the coop built.  However, it keeps raining.  AAARGH!!   On Monday I'll be attending a bee keeping class presented by none other than Zan Asha of The Renegade Farmer,  a bee keeper extraordinaire from the Bronx. We're moving slowly and deliberately and I've got a rule of only one new species a year.  So this year it is chickens and next spring I plan to add a hive of bees.  I'm hoping to get the hive this fall/winter so I have time to get everything set and learn more before spring when it is time to get bees installed.
Longer term, V hopes to convert our little barn into a passive solar guest house/studio.   He wants a place to make and record music and I would love to have a larger space for quilting.  And it would be nice to have an extra space for guests. With a composting toilet and grey water reclamation system.
My ultimate dream, which may or may not be able to become reality, is to become a small, organic market farm or possibly a small CSA.  Like I said, probably not reality, but, hey, a girl's gotta dream, right?  That would involve probably quitting my job and taking a huge leap of faith.  Oh, and conning everyone else into it as well.  But, we've got a great location and, hopefully the motivation for it.  We'll see... that is many moons down the road.
We've got to work on getting this place under better control and more able to support ourselves before we expand it.  Of course, with me working full time at the moment things are challenging, especially since V is also working, although from home.  I am hoping to be able to cut my hours down to 90%- hopefully by the end of the summer.  If it weren't for college tuition coming up in the future, I'd go to 80% but that would make things a bit more interesting than I am comfortable with at the moment.
Here's looking to the next two years and beyond.
Tomorrow, I'll announce the winners for the giveaway.  Good luck to all.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Then and Now- Part 6

 More of the great outdoors
During the warm weather months, we tend to spend a lot of time outside.  While house renovations have taken priority over the past two years, we have also been working on things outside to make life easier or more enjoyable.  We have built bridges over several of the creeks.
At least two of the four creeks are spring fed, at least we think so.  The summers have been so wet that we haven't seen things dry out but the fact that there is flowing water even in the depths of winter when everything else is frozen, tells me that water is flowing continuously from underground.
We ripped the rotting deck off the South side of the house.  Whoever in the past thought it was good to build a solid concrete block base for the deck and then vent both the dryer and the bathroom fan underneath it obviously wasn't thinking too clearly about condensation and rot...
 In the place of the old deck, we built a new deck with a pergola.  I planted hardy kiwi vines that will eventually provide some shade to the south deck.
 The current deck is only phase 1.  We hope to extend the deck around the back of the house this year to provide more outside living space. We also have several patio living spaces planned in 'the master plan'.
Over the past two years, we have weathered storms:
 and blizzards...
The weather hasn't always been kind but it is home...

Tomorrow, I'll let you in on some of our future plans...
And don't forget, it's not too late to enter the giveaway.  I've got goodies for two lucky winners to celebrate our two years here on our little piece of heaven.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Then and Now- Part 5

 The Great Outdoors
When we first came to look at the acreage, it was still winter.  There were pockets of snow on the ground and the landscape was brown and dead.
 But there were streams with running water where the children poked sticks into the water.  There were rolling hills, woods and meadows.
We fell in love with the rolling hills and the wetland at the bottom where the creeks come together.
Spring arrived and with it, the green grass.
I found a garden space in the barnyard for my garden. It is high, flat and was already fenced.  This:
 has become this:
 We still have a long way to go with weed control, not only in the garden but all over the property.
Although what many people consider weeds
 I consider wildflowers.  The meadow, ungrazed now for three years (the property was vacant for a year before we moved in), has sprung into life and become a haven for butterflies and bees.
 Much of the 5 acres that we have isn't useable as agricultural land.  More than an acre is a wetland and we have opted to leave the farthest, wooded corner totally wild.  It was there that I discovered elderberries last year.
Last spring we planted an orchard with 5 apples and a pear.  We have blueberries, red currants and last year we planted manchurian apricots, bush cherries and hardy kiwi vines.  This year, we will add cranberries.  I hope to construct an herb spiral and an herb/flower bed for the bees and butterflies (as well as our use).
When the house construction work was getting to be too much and we were getting discouraged. We would purposefully take a break and take a walk around the property to remind us why we are doing this.  The land called to us and we listened.
It is still talking to us and we're trying to work with the land to make this place a welcoming, productive oasis.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

We interrupt the regularly scheduled broadcast

For a field trip.
The sun finally peeked out for a little bit this afternoon and I got the opportunity to join V on a photo shoot.  He is gathering images for his book and I went along with my camera.  We stopped at several places for photos but most intriguing was the Black Angel.
She is a rather maligned statue in Oakland Cemetery here in Iowa City.   She was originally commissioned by a  distraught mother after the death of her son.   After installation, the statue turned black and has been the source of many legends and rumors here in town ever since.
 She is rather lovely, I think.
So sad, looking down, with sheltering wings.

Amazingly enough, as much as a legend as she is (she has been mentioned in numerous books and in film) this was my first visit to see her. I never went, even during my college years here.  J16 even beat me to it.  This the figure that J16 drew for the art show.

Of course, before we went for photos, I took V to the farmer's market ;)  Mmmm, fresh goat cheese.....

Then and Now- Part 4

Getting rid of the uglies
Gosh, you guys are the best.  Thanks for the complements on all our hard work.  But, be reminded, this is the recap- not all these things happened at once.  They have been spread out over 2 years.  That being said, I'll admit that even I'm amazed at how far we've come when I started putting these posts together.
Today we're going to journey through the uglies of the house.  Somewhere along the line, one owner was not the sharpest interior designer and there were some, shall we say, interesting decorating/construction choices.  We'll start with the upstairs bath:
And that photo doesn't even do it justice, the flash lightened it up. I didn't even have a photo of before we started demolition and even this one misses so much.  The entire room was covered in dark wood- floors, wall and ceiling. And of course, there was only one small light in it and the window faces north with most of the light blocked by the garage.  It felt somewhat like a wooden cave.
Needless to say, it got an overhaul. The photo below is before it was finished.
 Well, it really isn't truly finished.  We haven't completed the mudding and taping of the drywall because we're contemplating replacing the window.  And there is trim work that still needs done.  See, I said I just want one room completely finished.
But on to the most recent project.  The kitchen.  Most of you should remember this one- since it just happened last month.
The original:
You can't see the glass top electric stove to the right.  Of course, it was free-standing.  How does someone cook with no counterspace next to the stove?  Note also, the orange cooler- obviously this was from before we had the well fixed.  We  hauled drinking and cooking water from the house in town for a while.
Now, the finished product (photo taken as K11 made his lunch today).

And I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my new kitchen.  We still have some trim work to do and I don't have the door pulls on the upper cabinets yet.  It is beautiful and functional with a kick-@ss professional gas range in the island.
Tomorrow, I'll take you on a tour outside so you can see why I fell in love with this place.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Then and Now- Part 3

The BIG projects
For a significant discount, we purchased our property 'as is'.  We knew there were issues with it and that the previous owners weren't interested in fixing them.  Two of the known issues were key talking points.  Both the well and septic failed inspection.  The well water was 'bacterially unsafe for human consumption' and the septic tank was an ancient concrete block affair that was not-so-slowly crumbling in on itself.  They couldn't deny us occupancy because of the septic but the well- well, I was unwilling to live in a house where the water isn't safe to drink.
The biggest problem with the well was that it was a 'pit well'.  Yup, the well head was in a shallow pit outside the house with a slab over it.  There was a hole through the basement wall into the well room:
The previous owners had put a door over it to cover it up from their clients.  But, the 'roof' leaked, necessitating a sump pump in there and it was also another major entry point for mice as well as letting in a ton of cold air.  But, extending the well head to bring it up to code was beyond our abilities, so we called in professionals.  Oh, to save money we did a lot of the work ourselves but they moved the pressure tank inside for us and did the work on the well.
 The pit, however, we filled in ourselves.  V had to install new blocks in the basement wall to seal the hole and then we spent forever (or at least it seemed like it!) filling in the pit.  The bottom is filled with rubble from the pit walls and then we did lots of manual labor moving dirt to fill the rest.  We leveled off the hillside where the pit is and used that dirt for fill.  That now-flat area will become a patio and is nearby J16's goth garden.
The septic was a whole other matter.  The well was imperative so we pinched pennies to make that happen (actually, we took out a home equity loan on our old house!) but we knew we couldn't afford the new septic system until we sold our old house.  Unfortunately, our house went on the market just as the housing market tanked so it took us a while to sell.  But last summer, after about a year of living here, the ground opened up....
And we had a huge muddy mess. The South yard still hasn't recovered.  We still have a 'reserve' pile of dirt that they left us and it's a good thing- the septic tank settled tremendously over the winter and now we will have to backfill  areas where there is about a foot difference between the tank and the surrounding soil.  But, we knew it was coming.  Now that the heavy earth moving equipment is through, I can start on my plans for the herb/flower garden that will be in the spot in the foreground of the picture above.

People have asked me in the past how we have been able to afford to make all these repairs.  We were fortunate enough to have fully paid off our previous home in town so didn't have a mortgage there.  We did take out a home equity loan that gave us a 'cushion'  for repairing the well and purchasing materials -which we promptly paid off as soon as we sold the house in town.  Then, a portion of the money from the house sale has been put into savings for the rest of the projects. We are careful about how we spend our money, making purchases in advance, when possible, when supplies are on sale and storing them in the outbuildings.  But mostly, we have saved a TON of money by doing the majority of the work ourselves.  I'm so fortunate that V is a jack of all trades and has the skills needed.  We have all learned lots and it has been a great family project with the children working with us to achieve all this.  I'm still waiting for at least one room in the house to be COMPLETELY DONE.  But, I can live with the chaos because it is all part of my dream.
Tomorrow I'll finish up with the house stuff before we move to the outdoors and what has happened out there.  Not as much as I would like has happened outside as we're trying to get the house more livable first but things are progressing....

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Then and now- Part 2

Top to bottom renovation

In the past two years, we have worked on this house from top to bottom and side to side.  Here's a few highlights:
One of the first tasks (to keep mice and birds out of the attic) was to replace this soffit
 With this:
 In addition to adding the venting on the soffits, we added roof ridge vents to help keep it cool and a new chimney cap to keep out the water.
And also in the attic- even though the previous owner said that there was 'plenty' of insulation- we disagreed:
 And added significantly more...
 We ripped out and rebuilt entire walls that had water damage:
And a portion of the main girder for the house... eeek!!!
 We replaced a door...
and added storm doors to keep out the rain.
We finished the basement:
Well, kind of- it's still a work in progress with many tasks left to do.

All this in addition to both V and I working for $ (me full-time outside the home), raising our three children, growing a garden and preserving the harvest.

We've been busy little bees, but the journey isn't over yet.  Tomorrow I'll recap some of THE BIG STUFF.  The stuff we couldn't do ourselves (or at least did with help).  And then, the journey will continue on...  it's a never-ending one.

And don't forget.  It's not too late to get in on the 2 year farmiversary giveaway!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Then and Now- Part 1

There's a mouse in the house...
Well, there were.  Lots and lots of mice.  Many of you know that when we bought this house, it had 'issues'.  Many, many issues.  Not the least was the mouse infestation.  The property had been a combination home and vet clinic for about 10 years before we bought it.  The couple who owned it poured so much money into their business that the house had been sorely neglected.  And the neglect obviously goes back further than just those owners.  The house was in really rough shape- and parts of it still are.
When we purchased the property, the house had been vacant for over a year and the mice had made themselves quite comfortable.  The vet clinic had obviously had a mouse problem, evidenced by the 'mouse proof' room where they stored feed (rather than try to solve the problem they pop-riveted sheet metal on the inside of the closet) and the numerous 'stick up' air fresheners near the dark room (aka Mouse Central Station- more on that another day.  I think I have PTSD from that)
The house was not liveable when we closed.  In fact, it took until July before we could even move in and even then it was touch and go.  Part of the fine print of our mortgage agreement was that the property had to be our primary residence within three months of closing.  So we had to get to work quickly.
One of the first things we did after we closed was to entirely gut the basement.  

 The children had fun demolishing the walls.
Above is some of the ugly evidence.  You can see the track of the tunnel and nest area that was in the insulation in the wall.  ICK!!
We geared up with masks and gloves- and sometimes even gowned for protection:
 At this point V said he felt violated because of the sheer amount of mouse feces everywhere.
There were places it had soaked into the insulation.  ICK, ICK, ICK!!

We have worked long and hard at sealing up all the places we could find that they were getting in.  This is a prime example:
This was what was left of the mudsill behind the deck when we removed it.  It was a bit like the mouse equivalent of an expressway.
In the past year, we have had only three mice in the house.  Thankfully cornered and/or dispatched by the cats.  So, one challenge down, many more to come.
Tomorrow, I'll take you top to bottom of the house for more adventures.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Two years ago... (and a giveaway)

... I had a restless night.  Because...

Two years ago tomorrow, all this became ours. Our 5 acres of heaven (although sometimes it doesn't feel like it!)
We closed on our property on April 20, 2009 and then the adventure really began.
The journey is far from over and I'm so thankful for all of you who have come along for the ride; providing inspiration, advice and companionship for the trip.
This week, I'll be posting a series of then and now to see how far we've come.  I'll be looking back through the photo files to highlight some of the challenges we have faced, both big and little.

But you are all interested in the giveaway part, right?  To celebrate our two year farmiversary I'm going to have a giveaway.  To thank you all for your support through the last two years, TWO, yes, two lucky winners will receive three packets of herb seeds each.... and maybe a few other surprises as well.  If you're interested, post a comment, telling me either what your favorite herb is or what you would like to see more of here.  I'll select winners at random from comments posted by midnight CST on Tuesday April 26th.  Good luck to all... and oh, the seeds are available to US residents only, although there may be alternate gifts available for those overseas.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Out of room

 I repotted my last little seed starts this afternoon.  Three new varieties of peppers and replants of one tomato, two peppers and my purple tomatillos.  I've generally been happy with all the seeds I've received from Baker Creek but I've had terrible germination with the purple tomatillos I got from them this year.  Even after replanting I've only got two viable seedlings- not that I need that many tomatillos- but it is quite disappointing.
I've run out of room under my lights.  I've got all 9 flats filled!
And this doesn't even count the brassicas that are out in the shop (we moved them from the porch because it is wicked cold and windy). I've even got a flat that is now living on the landing in front of the south door because I don't have room.
Fortunately it's my flat of little romaine that I was planning to set out to harden off soon anyway.
And finally, as promised a while ago, our new basement door.
Much lovelier than the hideous scratched up dutch door that was there previously.
J16 did go visit her new 'employer' this afternoon and is quite excited about the whole business.  Her new boss, Nan, is a newbie blogger.  Check her out at Wapsi-no-noc Gardens!  J16 is excited about all she can learn.  And I'm hoping to learn vicariously.

I know it's only April...

 But really.....
It has been snowing heavily since about 8 this morning.
Last night it was predicted that the snow would miss us and that we would get only rain.  HA!!
Now they are saying we may get up to an inch and a half.  Bah Humbug, I say!  We already had an inch of rain yesterday.
I guess this means no outside gardening for me this weekend.  But, that may be a good thing.  I've still got tons to do this weekend.  Maybe, since the weather is bad, I'll FINALLY get the door and drawer pulls on the cabinets in the kitchen.
I do have some little seedlings to transplant so I can get my hands in the dirt.  And now that V has finished a big project for one of his employers (he got a $250 bonus if he finished it before midnight last night) hopefully I can pin him down on chicken coop design issues.  Of course, he still has to have all the image files for his book ready by the end of the month.  Ahh... no rest...
And especially no rest since Mom and Dad have invited themselves up for Easter. They want to see the new kitchen.  I'll have to see if my brother will be in the country and wants to come over as well.  We haven't hosted a family holiday since we've been in the new house.  But, that means lots of cleaning and preparation.  I'll be honest- the housekeeping has slid a bit the past few weeks with as busy as we've been.  I need a good excuse to really get down to some spring cleaning.

An update:  It stopped snowing and as of 1130 am, it had all melted. Hoorah!!  We had about an inch of snow- at least it didn't stick around.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


That was work today.  Busy, relentless and stressful.  Oh, there were some high points that reminded me of why I love my job- but today was pretty much just awful.  At least tomorrow is Friday and I'm not working this weekend.
But, some positive about the day.  V declared the new basement door finished (stained and finished) and we carried it into the house so he could install it.  This is the new door to replace the one we trashed to get the corner cabinet into the kitchen.  Well, actually, the old door was already trashed- we just helped it along...  So now the new door is installed and it is beautiful.  I'll have to get some pictures to post.
And it seems that Justine got the internship with 'the herb lady'.  She will go over on Saturday afternoon to find out more.  It figures... I can barely get her to help me around the garden and she's going to work for someone else for free.  Hmmm...  of course, I don't count as a job reference.  But maybe she can get paid in herbs ;-) That would be nice.
The weather has taken a turn to colder and windy.  My little plants are still looking well after the chipmunk ravages of yesterday but I worry about the wind.  I dusted them down with cayenne pepper to help deter the little critters- and I moved them to a different location.  If the weather cooperates, I will plant out the cabbage and kale this weekend.  We're supposed to get rain tomorrow into Saturday morning so I may not be able to get into the garden.  We'll see.  I also would like to get some onions and peas planted if I can.
Now, it's bed time.  I'm tired. And tomorrow at work looks just about as busy as today.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Grrr... Chipmunks

I was sorely irritated this afternoon to arrive home to this:
@#*$&! Chipmunks!  And the photo was snapped after I had done triage to get little roots into the soil.  Those annoying chipmunks had been digging in my seedlings and had uprooted 14 of the 32 plants in this flat.  Evidently, it had happened recently since only one seedling was slightly wilted.  I would have been thoroughly devastated had I arrived home to uprooted DEAD seedlings.  At least I had more pots so I could replace the pots that weren't salvageable.   They got into the broccoli and cauliflower seedlings    and, of course, at this size, trying to quickly identify a broccoli vs a cauliflower seedling was beyond my ability- so we will have a surprise row in the garden.  At least they have similar requirements.  Now I just need to figure out how to keep those little critters out in the future. I really don't want to have to do this again.
But on a better note, my last plant I ordered arrived today.  Another red currant bush.  After V backed into one of my two plants with the lawn tractor last fall it wasn't looking too good and I honestly didn't think it would survive the winter.  So I ordered another one.  Well, the one that got hit is looking great this spring so now we have three.  But best of all, this plant is HUGE!  Look:
 It is easily as big as the two out there that we've had for 2 years.  I'm impressed.  And I got it safely planted in the ground (after I repotted seedlings).  Today is probably our last nice day for a while since it is supposed to rain for a few days.  Good thing this plant arrived today, I hate digging holes and planting things in the mud.
And, lastly, an obligatory chick shot.  They are about 2 weeks old now.  This is Claudia.
Isn't she beautiful?  I'm a bit worried that she may be a Claude since she is already getting quite a little comb on her- but time will tell.  She is one of our mystery 'rainbow layers'.   Any ideas from the chicken 'experts' out there?  She has lovely wings.