Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Still plugging away

We're still working away.
But, I'm tired and V is tired.  I think we're working on new definitions of tired and sore...  We've both been working so hard that we've just about had it.  But we just keep on going....

Ok, enough whining.  I didn't sleep very well last night.  It was hot and humid last night and even with the windows open and the ceiling fan on, it was muggy and we didn't want to resort to the air conditioning this early in the year.  So, I'm extra whiny today.

Work was busy, busy, busy today.  And today was the last working day for one of my co-workers who is retiring.  So things will be even more wild for the next few months until our new person starts and gets oriented.
After work, I came home, made dinner and started in on the coop.  V and the boys worked on shredding some brush from the trees while J17 was off at her violin lesson.  Our chipper/shredder wasn't too happy with the still wet twigs we were trying to shred so they gave up after not too long. Then V came to help me.  I've got almost all the interior walls up and the floor is nearly dry.  My hope is that tomorrow I can finish the walls and maybe even get the flooring down.  Once the floor is down, we can't walk on it for a while so we can take a bit of a break.  Of course, V still has to make the chicken door and the clean out door. For those, we need to have the final siding up.  Fortunately, that shouldn't take too long to put up.  So, we're still working away.  If the weather holds, I hope to have the big girls out there soon.

J17 says she will feed and water the chicks for me tonight and change the bedding because I'm done.  Poke me with a fork done.
Now,  I'm having a guilty moment and watching Chopped on the Food Network.  Soon I will go to bed. It isn't as humid tonight but I'm so tired I don't think it would matter if it wasn't.

Monday, May 30, 2011

A day to remember and celebrate

It was a busy day here under the troll bridge.  Many, many things going on.
First, it was Memorial Day.  A day to remember those who have served so long and so hard to insure we have the opportunity to live our dream.
 Today was a day to rest a little from our labors of yesterday (a little, not much):
 And be thankful that things weren't worse.  A young woman was killed not far from here when a tree fell on her tent while she was camping with her family.  Tragic.  And she was a teacher at an area high school.  What an awful way to end the school year.
We didn't get to have our shredding party.
 Although the day was nearly perfect weather.  Mid 80's and sunny.  But quite windy.
But, of course, we worked on the chicken coop.  We're getting closer. There is actually a door that will close now!  And I got nearly an entire interior wall covered in plywood.
 The space you see near the back is for the clean out door.  Now that we have a door, it will be weatherproof and we won't get additional rain into it.  We can't proceed on the floor until the OSB dries out.  Unfortunately, it has had so much water damage from the storms we have had that we're going to have to put down some additional sheets of plywood on the floor that we weren't planning.  At least we have extras stashed in the barn.  I'll see if I can get another wall finished tomorrow after work.
But our big news today is that we had a celebration... and a name change.  I13 is now officially I14!
 The birthday boy was amused with his cake.
Here's a better view:
 Hopefully it is recognizable as an Xbox controller.  I love the edible spray paint that you can get, but the black isn't really very black.  We have a family tradition of highly personalized cakes for birthdays.  It's really fun and we make an effort to match the theme with the person.
And finally, I leave you with some beauty:
The first peony is blooming.
V and I decided that we're getting tired of these working vacations.  We need a real break.  We've been at this for over two years now and it's wearing.  Hopefully someday it will slow down.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

More storm damage photos

We spent the afternoon cleaning up.  Here are a few photos of the day:
The southwest corner of the barn took the most damage-
We lost another tree on Gazebo Hill.  This one had about a two and a half foot diameter.
It just snapped off.
On my way back to the house from my walkabout, I got this shot of the tree in the barnyard/garden.  You can barely see the barn behind the downed tree:
Beginning to clear the limbs:
 Tree top in the garden.  Luckily, it missed the bean trellis:
Amazingly enough, the black pearl pepper survived. Two inches difference and it would have been history:
 After a closer inspection of the garden, I'm not sure I will lose any plants at all!  A few tomatoes got knocked over but they look pretty good and I propped them up with mounds of dirt.
We got most of the tree cleared:
 We had to stop because it was getting too big for the 16 inch chainsaw to handle.  Now, we've got a huge pile of branches to shred. We'll have to have a shredding party!  And we'll have plenty of hickory if we want to fire up the smoker!!
Finally, a look at the damage:
The eaves have been shaved completely off a good portion of the roof, including shearing off a few rafters.  There is a hole completely through into the barn on the top corner.  It's hard to see but not too far from the upper window (that we just put in a few weeks ago) there is a hole all the way through the wall where the boards were cracked by a branch.  No windows were broken but there is still lots of broken glass all over the ground because both floodlights in the fixture were shattered.
We knew we needed to re-do the roof on the barn, it just wasn't in the plans for this summer.  When we redo the roof, we want to change the roof line so we can have big windows on the south wall of the loft. Part of the conversion to a passive solar building.  We're not ready to do that yet.  My guess is that we will do a patch job for now until we're ready to completely raise the roof.
All in all, we got off lucky.  The house didn't sustain any damage, the garden is fine and we are all well.

Big storm- updated with photos

We had a severe storm move through this morning.  Heavy rain and high winds.  We've got a huge tree down.  It hit the barn and one corner of the garden.  Photos to follow- it's till too stormy to spend much time out there.
I guess the coop is on hold for the near future....

I'm beginning to think we'll have those chickens in the basement forever.

A few photos.  It is still pretty rainy.
Here is the West side of the barn.  The tree was just at the north end of the garden.  It was a huge hickory tree.
 The tree was snapped off at the base, below ground:
 It took out the southwest corner of the barn roof.   It's hard to see how much damage has been done because there is still a tree parked on top of it.
 My poor garden.
The garden was spared the worst of it.  The main tree trunk fell through the gate toward the barn and not toward the garden.    Sadly, the garden would have been easier to fix.

It looks like we've got another tree down on what we've named Gazebo Hill.  But right now the creek is too high to try to cross and there is still quite a bit of lightning and rain out there.

More later.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Rainy day progress

A day in photos.

A rainy morning was perfect for making waffles.  I had been promising the boys for a while that I would make them.
 And a HUGE package arrived:
 There is a funny story behind this table saw.   For a while the hospital stopped giving 'longevity' gifts to employees.  That was fine by my.  For my 5 year employment anniversary, I got a totally useless glass ashtray (or candy dish- I don't remember) engraved with the hospital logo.  Well, evidently, the hospital started giving gifts again.  I have worked there for 16 years so I got, retroactively, the 15 year gift.  They are doing it differently.  They give you a link to a website and your personal 'number'.  To my surprise, there were all kinds of great things there.  But, looking through, there really wasn't much I was interested in.  Expensive jewelry or watches- nope, golf bags- I don't think so, mantle clocks- don't need it.  There was a pretty cool binocular camera but the software wasn't Mac compatible.  We also don't need a wine refrigerator or another tent.  So, that took me to the tools.  Most we have already:  Compound mitre saw- check, circular saw- check, table saw... wait a minute!  So, I ordered a table saw.  V finds that immensely amusing.  But, here it is, ready to be assembled- a 15 amp, 5000 rpm Skil table saw, with stand. Not too bad for free.
The rain kept falling off and on all morning.  V tried to cheer me up by saying that it was cupcake weather- with sprinkles.  HA.  I was amused but it didn't really make things much better. The coop and surroundings are wet.  This:
is what's going to hold us up the most.  I can't put down the flooring until it dries.  And we won't put up the interior wall until the flooring is down.  But we did make some progress in spite of the rain.
Behold, a window is born:

We got all 4 windows installed.  Tomorrow, we will tackle the doors (people, chicken and clean out).
But here it is so far:
I had really hoped to be finished and have the big girls installed by now but time and weather have NOT cooperated with our coop.
And before you think that this is huge, only 2/3 of the structure is actually for the chickens (an 8x8 area).  The front section, right by the people door, is for storage and such.
It looks like the weather should hold for tomorrow so maybe we can get the doors done.  And maybe, I'll put up some of the interior walls.  We will be repurposing material from the old surgery in the basement.  I'll post photos of that stuff some other time.  Of course, the weather finally started clearing off late this afternoon, just in time for us to wrap up and head out to a graduation party.


Local Radar

does not a happy camper make....

Update- how cool is that. I thought I just did a screen capture but it brought all the code with it.  So you've got a live radar feed.  Hmm, another storm is coming this morning.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Not much

I had the day off work today as a comp day since I worked last weekend.  I feel like I was busy all day but I don't feel that I accomplished much.
I did some laundry, did some weeding in the garden and strawberry bed and did some work on the chicken coop.  On the coop, I finished staining the siding (we ran out of stain before) and measured and mapped out some sheathing pieces that V and I cut and put up this evening.  V and I also made a trip to the home supply store and picked up fencing material for the run, the interior wall and hardware cloth for over the windows.  So, except for some hinges (that we realized that we forgot) and the posts and roof for the run (that will be delivered with supplies for the rest of the deck) we've got everything we need to finish.
Now- we just need the weather to cooperate!  There were off and on showers all day today that limited what I could get done.  Tomorrow looks pretty good except for a 40% chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. Sunday and Monday look about the same.
Today, V had lunch with an 'informant' for his book.  He needs to get 'personal experiences' to make things work better.  He also spent the morning writing.  So, that took him out of the equation for most of the day.
Tomorrow, we plan to put in the windows on the coop and finish the last wall. Then, if the floor dries (!!) I will put down the flooring material (vinyl remnants) on the interior and we can begin working on the interior wall.  The hard stuff is done, we just need things to dry out and stay dry for a day or two.  Not that it is likely to happen.   But, if we can get the windows and walls done tomorrow, that will keep the rain out of the interior so it will dry better.
The big girls are more than ready to move out and the little chicks desperately need more room.
My hope for the long weekend is to get the coop finished enough that we can move the big girls out.  J16 will be MIA for the weekend since she will be at the farmer's market tomorrow morning and has numerous graduation parties for friends that she wants to attend this weekend.  However, we have had a discussion of expectations for the summer (if she wants gas money for the Smart car!) since we have many, many things going on this summer and V and I alone won't be able to get it all done when we will still have our regular jobs to do.
I hope you all have a safe and wonderful holiday weekend.  We'll be busy... we've got a coop to build, garden to tend, herbs to plant and another birthday to celebrate (I13 will become I14 on Monday) as well as a graduation party to attend and all the usual weekend stuff.  Plus, I want a little time to relax.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rainy day nettle wars

Not much happened around here today.  It was a rainy, cool day- perfect for sleeping in.  After our late evening last night, V and I got the children off to school and then went back to bed, sleeping until 1030!!  Unheard of!  I guess we needed it.  After the last few weeks, having a day to rest felt really nice.
It was way too muddy to do anything else in the garden and it was also a bit too muddy to work on the coop without wearing 10 pounds of mud on each shoe.  I'll post pictures soon since you all are asking.
I did manage to get laundry done and catch up on dishes and inside cleaning- things that have been a bit neglected with the outdoors push of late.  But, one thing that did happen outside today- NETTLE WAR.
Now, don't get me wrong-  I have nothing against nettles.  They are nutritious both for us and for our compost. However, nettles growing where they aren't wanted are a nuisance.  And in the middle of my raspberry patch is definitely not where they are wanted.  Raspberries are enough of a prickle hazard without the added sting of nettles.
Since the latest round of storms and rain has ushered in some cool weather (low 60's) and all the recent rain has made the ground quite soft, today was the perfect day to don a thick sweatshirt, heavy jeans and gloves and pull the offending nettles.  Nettles have an incredibly dense, fibrous root system that is usually a real pain to pull.  I'm sure I didn't get them all and they'll be back, but hopefully after the raspberries are done.  The black raspberries are loaded with flowers!  And they have spread wildly since we planted them.  Last year, I planted some red raspberries that have grown a lot but I didn't see any blossoms.  I also planted some pale purple ones that are still looking rather peaked.  I think they are too far back in the shade.  Maybe I'll move them sometime since they aren't doing very well in that spot.
My raspberry patch is on the south end of the garden, where the grove of Boxelder trees shades the corner of the barnyard.  They seem to do well there.  They don't get burnt up by the hot summer sun and it tends to be a pretty damp area so they get plenty of water.  Last year we had only a few berries and the year before none, since we had just moved the plants.  I've got high hopes for this year's raspberry crop.  Mmmm, raspberry jam.....
Tomorrow I go back to work for the day, then I've got a 4 day weekend.  I could definitely get used to this work schedule. It has been so nice being home.


We had a lovely anniversary meal last night.  Our nephew spoiled us a bit. He wasn't working in the kitchen at 126 last night, however, was the chef at Hearth, the sister restaurant upstairs.   But the wait staff was expecting us and he stopped down to see us, bringing us a 'treat' of freshly fried beet chips.  He sent a few other treats throughout the meal.  All the food was outstanding- both what he brought and what we ordered.
He even managed to get me an ingredient list for one of the sides I had with my meal.  I would have never thought to put figs, cinnamon, cocoa, roasted tomatoes and chilis with eggplant but it was REALLY good. I'll have to try to replicate it when the eggplant starts producing.
One of the treats that we were brought was shaved raw asparagus with diced tomatoes and a truffle vinagrette.  Yummy!!
Of course, I don't think I need to eat for the next week....

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I had a fabulous day today.  I'm sunburned and tired- but happy.
I have today and tomorrow off work.  I took some vacation time because today is our 25th wedding anniversary.  Hooray for us.  It sure doesn't seem like that long.
Today I got to spend some quality time with V- some working together, some just hanging out.  We got the roof finished on the chicken coop- roofing material and all!  Just in time for the latest round of thunderstorms.
Earlier today, while V was working on his manuscript, I planted the garden (hence the sunburn).  I got the tomatoes, peppers and eggplant planted out.  I also set out some herbs (basil, marjoram, summer savory), planted beans (bush and scarlet runner) and planted broom corn.   I've still got our baby corn to plant and the vining crops.  I'm holding off on those because V wants to be able to drive the garden tractor over that section of the garden with the wagon to haul out some logs from a tree he cut last year.
Tonight, we will be going out to dinner at 126, where our nephew (my brother's oldest son) is the kitchen manager.   They have lots of selections of locally and/or sustainably produced food.   The children- we're picking up a pizza for them and having date night.
I've still got tomorrow off.  Hmm, I wonder what I can accomplish then.  It's supposed to rain so it will probably be inside stuff.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

For Erin's bugs

Whitefly and Aphid 'death juice'.

When we lived in Virginia, we had a terrible time with whitefly on our tomatoes one year.  I stumbled across a great recipe for a spray to get rid of many bugs: especially whitefly and aphids.  It takes two days to make it so you'll have to wait to treat your pests.
Day 1:
Chop 2-3 heads of garlic (not just cloves- the entire head!) in a food processor or blender. Transfer to a jar. Add one to two tablespoons of vegetable oil.  I don't think I ever actually measured. Cover and let sit over night.
Combine two cups of boiling water with 1/4 cup soap flakes or shaved scraps of leftover soap (this is a great way to get rid of those odds and ends of bar soap).  Pour into a jar and cover.  Let sit overnight.
Day 2:
Combine the two jars of goo.  Strain out the chunks (You can use old pantyhose- which work great- cheesecloth or a strainer).  Pour into a tightly sealed, well labeled jar.
When you're ready to use it, add one cup of this mix to a gallon of water and spray the infested plants.

To add a extra little zing, you can add chopped jalapenos to the soapy water.

Anybody else got any good pest/disease control recipes?

Anything for Japanese beetles???  Please.....

Storms coming...

We had a severe storm overnight.  No damage (except one of my little tomatoes on the porch got hit by a flying trash can).  Today has been variably overcast but we knew the storms were coming again.
The boys and I were out working on the north side of the chicken coop.  We were just finishing putting up the second sheet of OSB sheathing, knowing the sky had been darkening, when we heard the tornado sirens wailing.  Right now, we're looking down the barrel of a storm heading directly for us.   There are unconfirmed reports of at least one tornado from this.  We'll be taking shelter soon.
I'll be sure to keep you updated.

Update at just after 4 pm.
The worst of the storms have slid just to the northwest of us.  But only by a few miles.  In fact we're wondering if the above picture is a rain wrapped tornado just to the north of us.  We heard reports of a tornado on the ground crossing a highway just northwest of us moving east.  It looked much more impressive in real life.
We're not totally out of the woods yet since there are still a few dangerous cells on the way.  But the worst seems to have spared us.

Update about 6pm.
There are no reports of damage...  At least not that I have heard.  There were several funnel clouds spotted nearby and large hail (2 to 3 inch!!).  We had hail with the last cell that came through about an hour ago.  Pea sized hail (quite a bit!), heavy rain and wind.  We had just over an inch of rain in a short time.  I haven't ventured out to see how the garden fared.  I would probably sink.  Maybe it's a good thing that I'm so far behind that I didn't get most of the summer garden planted.
It looks like the weather should calm down in the near future and looking ahead at the long weekend... so far it looks lovely.  Cross your fingers.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

We're still here

It appears the world didn't end.  Thanks goodness, I've got way too much to do!
I did manage to get out of work at a reasonable time today. The exciting news is that the forecast rain didn't really materialize. We had rain last night and a brief storm this morning but it really didn't add up to too much.
V was busy writing today and we want the coop to dry a bit before we work on it more.  So...  I tilled the rest of the garden and planted out a few plants.  I'm trying out my cool corn based plastic weed barrier but it was a bit too windy to do much.  The film is REALLY thin and it blows with the slightest breeze.  I only planted out my tomatillos and the litchi tomatoes. Oh, and the little romaine lettuce plants that have been languishing on the porch. I'm hoping that the weather continues to hold and I'll plant my tomatoes and peppers tomorrow- if we're not building the coop- or even if we are.   I also managed to weed part of the early stuff. I've still got half the row of cabbage and the onions to weed.  But WOO HOO!  Things are happening.
We had planned to attend a play that J17 is in this evening. There is a series of student plays going on at the school this evening.  Unfortunately, the play that she was in was cancelled.  They were evidently doing a final rehearsal at one of the student's homes right next to the school.  As they were climbing the fence (taking a shortcut) one of the girls fell and was injured badly enough to require stitches.  So, no play tonight... but that allowed me a little more time to garden ;)
I do feel so much better this evening that I got some gardening stuff done.  Not quite as cranky now.

Friday, May 20, 2011

It begins again

The rain has begun.  It did manage to hold off for most of the day.  V managed to get the roof on the chicken coop (against my advice, telling him he should wait for help) between bits of working on his book.
 I got home to look at the progress and only a few minutes later:
 The sky darkened and it began to rain.  So far it hasn't been too heavy but it is forecast to last all night and though tomorrow.
But, I did have a bit of time to look at what is blooming:
 Those are the double columbine that we planted in the goth garden last summer.
Chive blossoms...
 And the Magpie columbines also in the goth garden.  They aren't true black but they're pretty cool.
They are just starting to open up...

I work tomorrow, which is OK by me since it is supposed to rain all day.  Being at work will help me not be so frustrated with the weather.  Maybe Sunday we will be able to get some wall sheathing up on the coop.  We only have a 40% chance of rain.....
I'm kind of excited that I only have to work two days next week.  I've taken Tuesday and Wednesday off to celebrate our anniversary (a big one- 25 years!!!!) and I have Friday as a comp day for working tomorrow.  Friday off makes a 4 day weekend with the holiday (and I13's birthday!!)  I could get used to this schedule.  I just hope the weather cooperates some.  Although V won't complain about rain.  He desperately needs to write.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


That's what I feel I accomplished today.

Oh, I wasn't sitting around eating bon bons.  Work was quite busy today and there was no way I could sneak out early.  In fact, I didn't even get finished all of the things I would have liked to get done.  So,  I didn't get home until 5ish this evening.  I did go out to look at the coop.  V managed to put up the rafters all by himself this afternoon while taking a break from writing.  I would have liked to get started on putting the OSB sheathing on the roof but we just didn't have time.
I made dinner (stir fry with rice stick noodles- mmmm) and we headed out for I13's final band concert of the year.  For an 8th grade band they are GOOD!  Home about 9:30, change chick bedding, start a load of laundry and here I am, ready for bed.  I got nuthin'.
I'm hoping that the rain holds off and we can get some stuff done tomorrow night.  It won't take long to slap on the roof and wall sheathing.  There's only a 40% chance of rain tomorrow during the day.  The real problem is overnight Friday and all day Saturday.  If we can get the exterior walls up, I can work on the inside even in the rain.  And maybe someday I'll get my garden weeded and planted.   Of course, if I pull the weeds the rabbits will be able to find my peas easier (the few that came up, that is).
Ho hum, c'est la vie.
I hope you all had productive days.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Slow but steady

I did manage to get a couple of hours off this afternoon.  It was a glorious, sunny day.  I SO wanted to plant out my tomatoes but I refrained.  Instead, V and I continued to work on the coop. We worked on the joist hangers for the roof.  We're now set for the rafters to go in, frame the interior wall and put on the roof.  Not as fast as I would like it to be going, especially with rain forecast for the weekend.  I was ready to work more but V was done.  He has been working so hard lately that his arms/shoulders are about ready to give out.
But here is why we are working ourselves into the ground:
The little girls (and guy?)
 And the big girls:
"Hey, are you going to open this door or not?"
The little ones are already starting to get a bit crowded.  It's not too bad yet but in another week or so we'll have to do something different.  But that's in the future...  

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I did it myself!

Today after work, while V worked to finish framing the windows on the coop, I built the roost. All by myself.
Now, that may not seem like a big deal.  But, I often feel totally incompetent in construction beside V's expertise.  So to build something all by myself, from deconstructing the counter crates, planning, measuring, using the radial arm saw and building it felt really good.
This is a freestanding- well, leaning, roost.  It will lean up against the wall in the coop and it's easily moveable when it's clean out time.
And, no, I didn't leave it over the office door in the shop....
But V finished the framing on the walls.  Tomorrow afternoon we will put up the rafters and hopefully get a roof on soon.  We're under a time crunch (what's new!) Thursday is kind of a bust since I13 has his final band concert of the year that evening.  Friday, J17 is in a play at school and it's supposed to start raining again for the weekend (and I work Saturday).  I'm going to see if I can take a few hours of vacation time tomorrow afternoon- if it is reasonably calm at work- so we can have a few more hours to work before it gets dark.
Here's the last (south) wall.  This wall will have two windows and the chicken door.
It's coming along.  None too soon.  The big girls are about 7 weeks old now and are SO ready to move into bigger quarters.  They are all too excited to get out of the kennel and 'free range' around the bathroom when I'm feeding and watering them.
We still need to get supplies (mainly fencing and roof panels) for the run but the girls can go into the big coop even without outside access right away.
Now, I'm tired. Work and then working at home is getting to me.  Work hasn't been too bad but I had a student start with me this week and that is always exhausting because everything seems to take twice as long because I have to explain it all.  But she seems like she'll be a great student.  Good thing, since she'll be with me until mid August.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Whew, what a whirlwind

A bit of a panic this afternoon when my laptop suddenly tried to tell me that I didn't have an airport card installed and it wasn't going to let me connect wirelessly with anything.  EEEK.  Fortunately, V is such a genius and was able to troubleshoot and get me back in operation.
It was drizzly this morning.  V stayed home to work on his manuscript but children and I went to church and J17 and I worked the plant sale.  Everything went well.  I'm not sure how much we brought in but probably close to $300.  There were only a few plants left (reminder to self- next year- more bell peppers!) and the veggie plants left over were taken to the crisis center to be given away to people stopping in at the food bank.  Anything to encourage more people to grow their own!
After lunch, the sun came out.  It was quite breezy so things dried out fairly quickly.  Behold:
 People door on the end and the clean out door toward the back.  The chicken space will be the back 8x8 section.  The front 4x8 part will be storage.  The interior wall isn't framed yet.  It will actually be a half wall with chicken wire over the top part.  There will be two windows in the storage section that we plan to use for ventilation and we need let the air flow through.
The last wall was framed:
 And we hoisted it into position only to discover that one of the 2x4s attached to the shop as part of the east wall has warped in all the rain we've had and we'll need to do some adjusting to get the wall to fit into place. sigh...  so the final wall isn't up yet.  But, the weather is supposed to be dry all week so maybe working afternoons/evenings we can get this thing more finished before it starts to rain again just in time for next weekend.
I didn't get any gardening done today.  It is just too wet out there.  And we've got scattered frost forecast for the next two nights.
And last but not least:
Happy Birthday to my darling daughter.  Now 17!  Where has the time gone.  We went out to dinner for sushi and had cake later at home.  Yum.


Having issues with my laptop. Hope to be back in business soon.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Today's forecast scattered showers turned into an all-day cold, soaking rain.  GRRRRR...  I had such hopes for the day.  We did manage to get another wall framed for the coop by working in the shop but we're stuck there because we're out of room to do the other one.  We had hoped to put those walls up today but V is worried about the OSB flooring that's out there now.  We covered it with tarps but it is still looking wet and he's worried about sinking screws into it.
But, it is supposed to start clearing off tomorrow afternoon so we're hoping to get all the walls up.  Then it is supposed to be lovely all week so hopefully we can get the roof on as well.  Maybe by next weekend we'll be able to move the big chicks in.  Of course, I have to work next Saturday so we'll see how much gets done.
And it's probably just as well I didn't get my tomatoes and peppers planted yet.  The forecast for tomorrow and Monday night is for lows back into the mid 30s.  I guess with the weather we've had I'm not surprised.
So, I'm frustrated by the weather. sigh.....
But today wasn't a total waste.  Today I:
Baked J's birthday cake
Did dishes
Did 3 loads of laundry- used the dryer- too wet for the lines outside :(
Sorted the several baskets of laundry that have been sitting around (this time of year I'm good about getting it washed and folded but sorted and put away is another story.
Mended the pocket of V's work pants
Got J's birthday gift (yes, I'm still getting her something even after a car- which wasn't really for her birthday)
Picked up a load of pine shavings for bedding for in the coop
Got a big feeder for the chickens in the coop
Helped V frame the West wall of the coop.  Now we have the North and West walls framed and ready to put up.  We even worked on the door frame a bit. We are repurposing the old door that we replaced on the south side of the house last fall.
Started planning the roost for the coop.  I'll be using repurposed wood from the counter crates.  We would have used it for construction but it is really soft pine so V didn't think it was good for construction. But it should make great roosts.
Received a package in the mail from Susan.  FUN!  Thanks so much!
Tomorrow will be busy.   I've got to work at the plant sale at church all morning.  Of course, I'm getting rid of 5 flats of plants that I started!  Woo Hoo!!!  It's for a good cause- we're fund raising for the local crisis center.  The fund we're donating to helps families financially with things like utilities and rent to keep them in their homes.  There has been a HUGE increase in the demand for services in the past year.
Tomorrow there is also a name change here.  J16 will officially become J17.   So, there will be a cake to decorate and a party to be had.  If it clears up in the afternoon, we'll be building.
Have a great Sunday.

Friday, May 13, 2011

It coulda been bad

Wow, it seems like a long time since I posted.  I was going through withdrawal yesterday while blogger had it's issues.  Not only could I not post, I couldn't see what was going on with all my bloggy friends.  I hope you all are well.
This afternoon was a tragedy averted.  I arrived home from work and wandered around a bit doing little stuff: reading the mail, sorting and starting laundry, checking seedlings, etc.  I finally went down to check on the chicks before I started dinner.  I was planning to change the bedding tonight and I thought I'd do it before I had dinner and maybe a glass of wine.  To my dismay, I discovered that the brooder light bulb had burnt out and the tiny chicks were huddled in a mass trying to stay warm!  To make matters worse, the bathroom window was still open.  We have had exceptionally warm weather the past two or three days (actually- hot!) and opened the window to allow more ventilation but today it cooled off and was rainy (high only near 60).  Unfortunately, no one thought to close the window so cool air was pouring into the bathroom.  EEEK!  I got the bulb changed and the chicks seem none the worse for wear.
The weekend is supposed to be cool and rainy (well, off and on showers).  I hope it holds off some. We desperately need to get that coop finished.   We haven't had time to work on it this week after work.  I've been doing other things and V has been incredibly busy trying to get stuff done for his book deadline. (he did get all his images sent off)  One side of the coop is finished, the North side is framed and sitting in the shop.  We just need to move it into place and fasten it.  So, we just need to frame the West and South sides.  Even if it is a bit rainy, we can do the framing in the shop and move them into place.  But we really need to get it moving.  The more rain we get on that exposed OSB sheathing and floor, the more likely we are to have damage that will cause problems later.  
And, those big chicks are getting HUGE!   And the little ones need more room.  And I need to get the main summer garden planted.  And I need to take the tiller over to Jim's house to help him start his garden.  And I need to bake and decorate a cake for J16's birthday (soon to be J17!) on Sunday.  And I have to work the annual plant sale at church on Sunday morning.  And......    It doesn't end.  I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed right now.  My work schedule and the weather can't seem to get coordinated to make my life easy.  But, I will survive.  I always do.  This is the way of May.  Too many things need done at once.  And our anniversary is coming up.....
Oops, laundry calls.....
I hope you all have a productive weekend.  I'll be back tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Amazing!  what a weather ride we've had in the past few weeks.  From a freeze to record or near record highs today.  We hit 91F!    With the warm weather of the past few days, spring has been springing out all over and the flowers bursting into bloom.
The first strawberry blossom:
But notice its dark little heart :(  Freeze damage.
And the lilac has suddenly become awesomely fragrant and beautiful.
 And amazingly enough, my tiny clematis is blooming!
 The poor thing is only about 7 inches tall.  I got it really cheap last year at the very end of the season when one of the garden shops was clearing out all its plants.  The poor thing was pot bound and pathetic and honestly, I was surprised that it came back at all this year.  And to bloom.  Amazing.
And apple blossoms.
 Mmmmmm..... the big tree is loaded again this year.  I didn't venture out to check the little ones tonight but I hadn't noticed any buds on them.
And last but not least.  One of the black columbine in J16's goth garden isn't quite blooming
But it promises to be spectacular in a few days.
What's blooming in your neck of the woods?

Monday, May 9, 2011


Things have been absolutely crazy-busy around here.  The weather was fabulous all weekend and we worked like mad.  Slow but sure progress was made on the chicken coop.
I did what every homesteady Mom wants to do for Mother's Day-
I got to stain siding for the new coop.  Isn't it a pretty color- it's what all the well-dressed coops are wearing this spring... and it coordinates with the shop.  I did NOT want to get it the same color brown as the house and barn.  blah.
And Ticket was helping with framing the North wall.
 It turns out that he is, in fact, 16 inches on center when lying down, LOL!  He served to hold the studs in place.
Here is the first wall going up:
We're attaching it directly to the wall of the shop so it took some creativity.  But, this wall was finished (including the electrics wired) and the North wall has been framed.
But, the most mad thing we did was this evening:
We bought a car!
This really wasn't on the agenda but timing and availability came together. We  have run into issues- especially on weekends where all three drivers (V, J16 and I) have different things to do in different places and drop offs aren't convenient.  Now that J16 is working at the farmer's market on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings it will be more of an ongoing problem since V has kum do class on Saturday mornings as well.
But, we found a great deal on a used Smart car- a 2009 Passion- to be precise.   It is what J16 has been drooling over for at least a year.  They are, as you can see, quite tiny.  It is essentially a roll cage with a 3 cylinder engine.  The body panels are all plastic so it is light weight and incredibly fuel efficient.  It averages 40 mpg- not too bad with gas prices the way they are at the moment.  Technically, this is my car (I'm on the title) but in reality, it will be the one that J16 drives.  One of our local dealers imported two used Smart cars to sell here since the closest Smart dealer is in Chicago.  They have had this car for less than a week.  This particular car had been owned by a Mercedes dealer as their loaner car for customers having work done.  So, it has low mileage and has been exquisitely cared for.  I haven't gotten to drive it yet but I hear from J16 and V that it's zippy and fun to drive.  This was definitely NOT on my list for the week but it will make the summer easier and this will be J16's college car in the fall of 2012. (eeek, that makes it seem SO close).
I feel quite unsustainable and not at all practical or frugal at the moment, becoming a three car household, but, I guess things fell in together for a reason and this seemed like the right car at the right time.  Of course.... now she OWES me...... Mwahaha