Thursday, June 30, 2011


It has been a long, emotionally draining day.  I didn't manage to get up to see Roger before surgery- today was really busy at work.  But I did get to spend a little time with Sharon, his wife, not long after she had met with the surgeons to learn the outcome.   Sadly,  none of Roger's foot was salvageable.  He ended up with an amputation about mid calf.  Sharon was looking shell shocked.  They had known that this was a possibility but had hoped for the best. She is feeling totally overwhelmed.  Unfortunately, there is little I can do to make things better.  They had relied mostly on Roger's income and with him not working, even before she got laid off her job, it was a struggle to make ends meet.  She is panicking that they may need to move (they live in a split foyer home) but I urged her to wait to see how he progresses in rehab before she makes any rash decisions.  And even after the amputation, they still have the cancer diagnosis to deal with- which hasn't really even been addressed.
It looks like the weekend is shaping up for better weather than I had hoped.  So, I think, we plan to go to their house, as a family, on Monday morning to weed the garden.  Anyone in the IC area interested in a charity weed, let me know- we would be glad of the help.
It about broke my heart when Sharon was going on about needing the food from the garden, especially if she can't find a decent job.   She was asking about drying tomatoes and if they would store that way, or if she could freeze them.  Roger is the gardener and canner in the family and she is feeling a bit out of her element-- but realizing just how important that stored food has been in their lives in the past. I did volunteer to come help with canning tomatoes if they need it.  I'm not sure how I'll be able to do that- can my produce as well as theirs- but I'll give it my best shot if necessary.
But on a brighter note- I picked the first handful of black raspberries this evening.  They didn't last long enough to make it into the house to be photographed.  V and I shared them outside in the heat.
Yes- it finally feels like summer!!  It made it over 90 today!! and mid 90's tomorrow... with high humidity, of course- it wouldn't be summer without it.  Not much work got done outside this evening with the weather.  However, I14 has decided he wants to earn some money.  So, tomorrow morning, he is going to weed the iris bed for me.  He's figured out that he needs to work for 3 hours to have enough money to buy a game that he wants. Definitely doable in his  eyes.
I feel like I've been a bit of a downer these past few days.  I'll try to be more upbeat in the future- I'm just beat.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

News: Good, Bad and Ugly

News flash!!! The Good: V has finished his book!!  Woo Hoo!!! He still has a little formating to do but the text is done.  What a relief!  Now, he will have time to do other things around the house and homestead. Yeah!! This has been such a stressor for both of us.  I've been picking up lots of slack while he struggled to finish.  So maybe now my days won't be quite so overloaded.  Of course, he has now picked up another freelance project.
But also, I heard bad news today.  Around lunchtime I got a page.  It was Roger's nurse wondering if I could get away from what I was doing to come see him.  He got some bad news.  The infection in his foot has continued to spread, in spite of the IV antibiotics, and is into the bone.  So, tomorrow morning, they will amputate a significant portion of his foot.  He was not handling this well, as can be expected.  It is a terrible blow for someone who has always been quite active and has a large garden planted.  To make matters worse, his wife just got laid off her job so now they have no income.  Talk about stressful.  I'm going to try really, really hard to not complain about my lot in life... I've got absolutely nothing to complain about.  Weeds- bah- who's going to complain about them now.
But one last bit of ugly ugly.  I discovered the first Japanese Beetle of the year this afternoon while I was out weeding.  I disposed of him or her quietly, no witnesses...   I didn't get my peppers mulched- maybe tomorrow when J17 is home to help (She's working at the farmer's market this evening)  I'm using that corn based mulching plastic stuff under the grass clippings (I discovered the hard way that it really needs mulch over it as just burying the edges like it says lets it blow away) and it is so flimsy that the slightest breeze is a problem.  We got a good system worked out when we did the tomatoes.  J17 and I put down the plastic stuff while the boys gather grass clippings, they we all scatter clippings.
I'll have to see if I can talk J17 into doing a bit more weeding tomorrow.  I'm getting much, much closer to having a handle on the weeds in the garden.  Then, to tackle the flower beds :)  I've been working on my pre-party 'to do' list.  hahahahahaha.......  I must be delusional to think I'll get it all done.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Making progress

Thank goodness the weather has been cooperating for a few days. Too bad I've had to go to work.
But both last night and this evening I was able to spend several hours in the garden weeding after work.
Half of the garden is looking pretty good.  I've got J17 on line to weed the peppers tomorrow (if she doesn't, she doesn't get to go see her friends in the afternoon) so tomorrow evening I can hopefully get mulch down around my peppers. Then it will look even better.
Of course, the weather is supposed to be fabulous all week, but the weekend, so far, isn't looking as hopeful.  I work at the hospital on Saturday so that day is pretty much out.  I'm just hoping for some good weather for Sunday and Monday.
Then, next week, things get even more interesting.  On Thursday the 7th,  V and J17 will head east to Pennsylvania for a college visit.  I'll be at work on the 7th but then I'm off for a few days to hang with the boys. I'm kind of excited to have 4 days off in a row (without V to have projects of his own to distract me).  I've got so much on my 'to do' list that it's going to be fun to see how much I can get done.  I've got lots of outside stuff planned as well as starting some deep cleaning in the house since we'll be only a month away from our big party in August.
A party, you may ask?    Yup, we're finally having a party at the new house.  It is a combination of housewarming and to celebrate V's 50th birthday.  Nothing like adding a little more pressure, LOL.  We've got friends and family coming in from around the country as well as friends and family here.  It should be fun.  I really love entertaining and it will be a great chance to show off everything we've accomplished in the past two years.   Of course, I want the house and gardens to look good so I've got TONS to do.
Time to get some sleep so I can make some more progress tomorrow.
And, yes, if you're in reasonable driving distance, you are invited,  I'd love to meet more of you.

Monday, June 27, 2011

News that's currant

Red currant, that is.  Ha! You thought I misspelled.  I do that on occasion, but not this time!

I picked the currants this evening.  6.7 ounces or just shy of 1.5 cups.  Not too bad.  The bush I planted this spring, while huge, didn't produce.  Not surprising.  But the two year old bushes- the two I planted shortly after we moved in were loaded.  I'm excited to see what they produce in the future.  It will just keep getting better and better. Maybe someday soon I'll have enough to make currant jelly.  Mmmmmm......
But tonight, I just made some sauce.  I know many people don't like the seeds and strain the juice but I really don't mind them- they are kind of like gooseberries.  The sauce is setting up nice and thick and I think we'll use it as a jam over the next few days.  I'm definitely seeing some cream cheese and currant 'jam' on my toast for breakfast.
Now, I'm off to read the article in the new edition of National Geographic on "How heirloom seeds can feed the world".  It's called Food Ark.  Let's see if I can stay awake long enough to read it ;)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Scenes

I'm tired.  I didn't sleep well last night and have been busy all day.
V and I visited Roger in the hospital this morning for a bit.  He isn't doing very well emotionally.  The cancer was a 'surprise' discovered when he was hospitalized for something else.  He has a terrible infection in his foot that has been cleaned out (down to the tendons!) and they are hoping it doesn't continue to spread.  He is worried that he may lose his foot.  Add onto that the new diagnosis that was  found and he is a wreck.
Of course, like any gardener, he is worried about the weeds in his garden that he hasn't been able to tend.   I wish I had a better handle on the weeds in my own garden or I would go weed his.
But, on to more positive things.  It was a lovely, sunny day today after it dried out this morning. I spent the afternoon outside in the garden.  Here are a few images of the day
Chickens doing chicken-y sorts of things in the temporary run:
 Broccoli peeking our of its leaves-
Purple cabbage: as beautiful as any flower-
Raspberries beginning to ripen-
 And blueberries, too- our first!
 Red currants ready to pick-
 The first tomato!  Black Krim
 Peppers- Volcano (hot hungarian wax)
My asiatic lilies that I planted this spring are blooming- at only about 8 inches tall!
 The Goth Garden:
 Grrr- bugs were on my basil!
I hope you all had a peaceful Sunday.

Happy Birthday big sister!!

Saturday, June 25, 2011


I had a phone call this evening.  Not good news. It seems my dear, dear friend Roger, who I shared a garden with for years. is not well.  He found out he has prostate cancer.  And evidently they have discovered spots in his lungs and liver.  I am heartbroken. I have known him since I was 17.  That is longer than I've known V.
Please send positive thoughts his way.

Guess what??

It's raining again!  Isn't that exciting?!...  umm, no, not really... at least not for me. I had so many things I wanted to get done outside today that it just isn't fair.  Yesterday was an absolutely perfect day weather-wise and I ended up getting stuck late at work.  Grr..  
But, I saw the rain approaching this morning on the radar and got boys up to help me. We did manage to get one of the tasks off my 'master list' done this morning before the rain started.  We weeded the blueberries and put down landscaping fabric and mulch.  I'm not one to use the landscape fabric much but I've been having such a struggle to keep the blueberries weed free that it seemed like a solution. I also nearly finished weeding the herb garden and half the onions.  As you may notice, I'm not one for finishing anything.  I'm way too ADHD in the garden...  I start on something and then notice a REALLY big weed in something else and get distracted.
It looks like the bulk of the rain is going south of us (my parents look like they're getting it again- and they do NOT need more rain!!) so I'm hoping to be able to get out again when it stops raining- or at least tomorrow.
Oh, we did have some excitement this morning.  While the boys and I were out working, we decided to open the chicken door and let the chicks out into the temporary run.  Today, they actually came out!!  Buffy was quite unsure about the whole thing and stayed in the coop much longer than anyone else, but, finally she braved the great outdoors... then when it started raining she was the one I had a hard time getting back in the coop.  Figures.  The little chicks were much more adventurous in exploring the run than the big girls.
Now, since it's still raining, maybe I can get caught up on inside stuff. I hear laundry calling....  and maybe some focaccia.  I've been wanting to try to make some of that.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday harvest

Today at work was LONG!!   I was so busy. I ended up staying almost an hour late to get stuff done and even then didn't get everything done that should have been done.  My student and I were supposed to go over her mid-term evaluation but it just didn't happen.  Fortunately, I've got it done and we will go over it first thing Monday morning so I can fax it back to her clinical coordinator.
After work. I fed the chickens and did a bit of harvesting in the garden.

Not the biggest but the first:
 Mmm, we had it steamed for dinner- just enough for each of us to have a spear.  There are several out there much bigger that are still growing and lots of little ones coming.   How exciting... we've been out of broccoli in the freezer for a while and it's one of our favorite veggies.
And now the kale we had for a salad
With the cool, wet weather we've been having, the kale is going strong.  Still yummy and tasty and not even looking like it's ready to bolt.
The weather forecast for tomorrow isn't looking quite as good as I had hoped.  But I still plan to get up early and get as much weeding done as I can.  My garden is an embarrassment of weeds and that has got to change.
V is writing late tonight, hoping to finish his book soon.  So, tomorrow, I can get up early and get down to business.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Not too creative tonight.  It's been a long day.  Work has been rough this week.  But tomorrow is Friday and it seems like the week has gone by quickly.  The last 6 weeks have gone quickly- it is midterms for my student.
J17 and I broke out the flame thrower this evening.  Unfortunately, it was too windy for it to be really useful. But I did get a little bit of weeding done before I had to make dinner.  I rediscovered my dill and rescued the eggplant.
It was cool again today with lingering showers- weather more like April than June.  Tomorrow should be about perfect- mid 70's and partly cloudy.  Too bad I've got to work.  I tried to encourage J17 that it would be a good day for her to get out and weed and earn some more gas $.  However, she has landed a cat-sitting job and they paid her in advance so she isn't quite as motivated to work for me.
I did make several discoveries this evening.  First- we have blueberries on the at least one of the bushes.  They're not ripe yet but they're getting big.  I'll have to get some netting over them to keep the birds out if we want to see any.
Second- the red currants are beginning to ripen.  Unfortunately a deer munched the tips of one of the bushes.  Grrr..
Third- said deer also munched a few things in the garden.  The sunflower I didn't mind so much.  It was a volunteer.  But the deer ate every single leaf off the plant, including the top.  Sadly, it didn't stop with the sunflower.  Every single head of romaine that I was getting ready to start harvesting has been eaten off.  sigh...  I guess we really need to repair the gate that the tree fell on... not that the gate has ever stopped them.  I hope it had a good meal... maybe we'll have to take my Dad's advice and get a landowner's deer license this fall and fill the freezer with venison.
Fourth- the little asparagus crowns that I planted this spring are up!  I had looked a few weeks ago and they weren't there.  I had almost given up on them and was thinking about writing a letter of complaint to the company.  But, there they were this evening in all their wispy, frondy finery.  6 new crowns.  Woo Hoo!  Maybe next year I'll have more than one stalk!  Although I will probably let these go a year or so before harvesting anything.
I'm looking forward to the weekend.  The weather is supposed to be drier than it has been so I'm hoping to get lots done outside.  Of course, the weekend that the weather is supposed to be great, J17 decides to go spend time at a friend's house. sigh.  I'll have to enlist the boys to help burn things...  and weed... and plant my new elderberry.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wet Wednesday

Today was wet, drizzly and cool.  Yuck.  But a few things brightened my day.  I had a 'sidewalk find' on my way to downtown to catch the bus.  It was just beginning to rain (again) when I noticed this lying on the sidewalk:
 A bookmark.  LOVE IT!  So I had to rescue it from getting wet and ruined.
I got off the bus before my usual stop so I could meet V at the grocery store (sigh) to get more milk and some dog food.  On my way in I noticed the sign announcing that all plants were 25% off.  I know they will mark them down even further but the selection gets worse and worse.  So I indulged myself and got this:
It's a Black Lace Elderberry.  I had seen it earlier and thought about it for the goth garden. It has nearly black foliage and will produce edible fruit- I checked.  I noticed that we have a 'wild' elderberry growing near the wetland last spring.  I purposefully didn't harvest the berries hoping it would spread this year.  But these we can plant near the house... and they will look really cool!
Not much else going on here.  V is nearly finished with his book.  Children are eating me out of house and home and work has been rough since we have a bunch of really ill people in right now.
I'm looking ahead to the weekend.  It looks like Saturday may be my day to spray the tomatoes with the copper mix.  And maybe do some more weeding.  My brother lent me his flame thrower (I said I wanted one!!) so I can burn off the weeds along the garden fence and border (and maybe where the vining crops haven't vined to yet.  I'll see how far I get.  Don't worry- I'll be sure to have photographic evidence for all of you.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Solstice at Troll Bridge

Happy Summer Solstice!!

Things here at Troll Bridge Acres are going well.  Of course, it's still raining off and on and the garden is weedy.  But things are growing and blooming. Here's a few photos of the day.
The Black Watchman hollyhocks are blooming in the goth garden:
As is the Sweet William 'Sooty'  It doesn't look very dark in the photo...
 The St John's Wort is blooming... maybe some tincture is in the future.
 And the tomatoes are starting to bloom.
 And of course, I can't post photos without some obligatory chicken photos.
Below is Georgie or Captain Georgina.  She's an Ameraucana.  Check out her ruff and green legs.  Isn't she cute.
 And Magnus is staring me down...  He's getting little wattles on his chin. Awwww...  he's growing up.
The days start getting shorter from here on out until December.  EEK!  Where has the year gone.  It has been such an odd spring that it doesn't really seem time for solstice yet.
I hope Summer is good to everyone and that the weather cooperates with the gardens, here and wherever you are.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday check in

Father's Day was grand. We had a lovely afternoon at my brother's house.  My parents were there as were my SIL's parents, her sister and family and two other older couples with grown children.  My brother smoked a couple of pork shoulders and we had pulled pork sandwiches.  Mmmm...  I ended up taking both the kale salad and the strawberry rhubarb sauce.
Yesterday morning K11 and I constructed a temporary run for the chickens.  Of course, we opened the chicken door and they were terrified.  Oh, we got a couple of them to stay out for a few minutes but not long.  This run isn't very secure so we didn't leave the door open for them.  Hopefully I'll be able to get started on the real thing soon.
Last night we had terrible storms again. We lost power for a few hours overnight and had over an inch and a quarter of rain.  More on the way tonight... sigh... so much for having dry weather to spray tomatoes.  I hope they survive the wet weather forecast for the rest of the week.  My parents were complaining that their garden is drowning  They aren't sure they will have anything survive this year.  They have had even more rain than we have.  Actually, except for the weeds that I can't get to because it's too wet to work, my garden isn't looking too bad.  Late, a few things rotting off at the base (I've lost two cabbages, two broccoli plants and I think almost all of my carrots), and some spot on the tomatoes... but the tomatoes and peppers are blooming.  I saw the first blossom on the cucumbers and there are tiny heads of broccoli and cauliflower out there. So, I'm not going to complain.  At least not much...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Five hours

That's what I spent in the garden today.  Weeding and mulching.  It was nearly perfect weather for working out there.  It was cloudy and mid 70's.  The downer was that it was really humid and everything was wet when I started early this morning.  I re-discovered the broccoli and cauliflower that had been nearly overrun by weeds. After lunch, J17 came out and helped and we got most of the herb bed weeded before we moved on to the tomatoes and peppers.  As the rain approached, we had the boys come out.  They gathered grass clippings from the lawn that we used for mulch.  So at least the tomatoes are mulched.
I did notice on the tomatoes that we've got the start of bacterial spot on a few of the plants.  Sigh... probably a consequence of too much rainy weather and weeds restricting air flow.  But, the plants have been weeded and mulched now so that should help. I'll have to stop off and get some copper to spray on the plants when (and if!) it ever dries up enough.  I hope it stops raining before this gets too much worse.
It was a good day's work... and I picked another quart of strawberries this afternoon.  Mmmm, I see another batch of strawberry rhubarb sauce in my very near future.
Tomorrow is Father's Day.  I need to check with my brother about what time we should be over at his house for the barbecue.  My parents will be coming up so I'll get to see Dad for Father's Day.  Hooray!!
I'll have to think of something to take along for lunch.  J17 suggested a kale salad (you know: kale, garlic, lemon juice, salt, olive oil).  I'd really like to take something from the garden but kale and green onions are about all we've got at the moment.  Hmm, or the rhubarb sauce.....

I hope you all have a fabulous Father's Day. If you're lucky enough to still have your Dad- let him know you love him.  I know I will.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


I've taken the past two days pretty easy.  Oh, of course work was work, but things at home have slowed down a bit.  This evening- besides checking on the chicks and bringing them some overgrown kale leaves, has been pretty low key...   I planted a couple of herbs that have been loitering around on the front porch for a while and did a little weeding in the garden- but not too much.  This evening, V and I even took time to sit out on the deck and watch the fireflies rise from the grass. Of course, this was accompanied by a bottle of sparkling wine, chocolate and freshly picked strawberries--- ON A THURSDAY!!!  Oh, my, what is the world coming to!
I'm hoping that the forecast rain will hold off for the weekend so I can get some more weeding done in the garden.  But, Mother Nature always wins.  Right now, with the chickens in the coop, I'm more relaxed than I have been in weeks- weeds and all.  That is such a huge load off my mind.
One more day of work and I'm off for the weekend.  Sunday is Father's Day.  I've heard from my brother that my parents are coming up for Sunday and he is hosting a barbecue- weather permitting.  I guess I need to figure out what to take along...
Now- it's getting to be past my bedtime for a work night- especially since I've had a few big girl beverages... something I rarely do on a work night.
I hope you all have a great Friday.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Chickens Away!!

My dearest, most darling, sweetest, amazing husband finished the door for me today while I was at work!  Isn't he just the best!!!
So....  Tonight after work, J17 and I put down bedding
Check out the new screen door in the inside..
 And we took the chickens outside!!
Below- Claudia checks out the roost.
 The big girls came out first.  After a few minutes for them to adjust, we brought the little ones out to join them.  I guess the little ones aren't THAT little any more.  They are 6 weeks old already
 Since they have been living in the kennel condo in the basement, they are already acquainted with each other.  We have been letting them out together for short periods over the last week or so to get them accustomed to each other.  There was a little pecking but not that much.  We thought about bringing the kennel into the coop and having the little ones in there for a while but they seem to be doing pretty well together so we're going to risk it.  I'm hoping that since it is a new space for all of them that no one will feel the need to defend their territory.
They seem to be mingling pretty well...
 Below, Magnus, our rooster has discovered the log we placed in there for entertainment.
He's a Welsummer- isn't he handsome??

Now, I've still got to clean up the downstairs bathroom.  It will be SO nice to have that back!!   There is something unnerving about getting out of the showers with all these chickens watching you- like they're asking "Where are your feathers?!"

Now... to build a run so we can let them outside.  But, I think they're going to be adjusting to life in the coop for a few days.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sooo close

I am so, so, so close to being finished with the coop.  I finally got my camera charged so I thought I'd share a few photos. 
Here is the North side of the coop with the clean out door:

 The South/West sides- chicken door to the far right under the window.
I still need to finish the exterior door trim and the corners.
And now for some inside shots.
The roost is over partially over the clean out door
 Don't you just love the vinyl remnant on the floor- it's almost too bad we'll be covering it up with bedding. You can just see in the above pic where the feeder and waterer are positioned.  The chicken door is directly in front of the roost.
And finally, the nest boxes:
 There is a half wall behind the nest boxes with hardware screening above.  To the left is the door to the storage portion of the coop.  The only thing left to do is the screen door between the two sections.  Then it's time to put in the bedding and the chickens.
But now, something different!  A harvest!!!
 The first pepper!  It actually came from a plant labeled "yellow bell" but doesn't look like a bell. It did taste like one, though, so I'm thinking it's just a mutant shape.  The other little pepper set on looks more normal.
And strawberries!!
Mmmm... I made a strawberry rhubarb sauce this evening.  We don't have rhubarb of our own but yesterday Jim gave me some.  He gets produce from a CSA and they gave him rhubarb- which he doesn't like- but we do!!

I hope to have more progress to report tomorrow.  Maybe even about chickens!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Whirlwind weekend

Ok, I'm officially exhausted!  It has been such a wild, busy weekend.  But, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH has been accomplished.  Sorry, no photos, my camera batteries are dead.  We are almost finished with the chicken coop!!!  Only the interior screen door to install and the wire wall to put up (the wall is framed, just the wire needs installed.  The exterior is done and the chicken and clean out doors are finished (I'm particularly proud of those!  I did them myself!)  V took time this morning to help me out and finished the electrics this afternoon so there is now a light and a covered outlet (for the heated waterer in the winter).  Of course, the outdoor run isn't finished (the materials won't be delivered until we order stuff for the rest of the deck) but I plan to put up a temporary fence so we can let them out.
Also, this morning, I FINALLY got the rest of the garden planted!  Woo Hoo!!  What a great feeling.  There are still many, many weeds out there but things are looking up.
This afternoon, J17 and I took a break and went to Wapsi-no-noc Gardens (where she works) for an herbal tincture making workshop.  What a nice break.  We learned about some herbs, got a tour of the gardens and had the opportunity to prepare some tinctures.  I made some with Motherwort, Skullcap and Burdock root.  J17 made Valerian, lemon balm and feverfew. They still need to set for at least 6 weeks.  We also got a couple of plant starts (motherwort and pennyroyal).
After the workshop, we went to Jim's house and helped him prepare his garden.  So, now that is done and I can stop feeling guilty.  We didn't dig up a very big area.  Maybe only 8x8 feet- but it is sufficient for a few tomato and pepper plants and some basil.  That's all he wants.  Not bad for a first garden.
Now, I've had it. I was up at 6:30 this morning and worked hard all day.  Tomorrow I'm back to work.  After work, I hope to finish the coop!!!  Woot!!!  But, now, it's time for a bit of wine, maybe some strawberries and off to bed for me.
I hope you all had an equally productive weekend.

Friday, June 10, 2011

An off day

Today nothing much got done outside because of all the rain.  We had an additional inch of rain overnight and it kept threatening to rain off and all day.  So, a variety of other things got done.  J17 and I ran some shopping errands today.  I had a coupon for 30% off at a local store (Kohl's) so we did a bit of clothes shopping.  I am SO grateful that J17 is a great shopper and has no problem buying things off the discount racks.  So, with sales and discounts, we actually saved more money than we spent.  I got a couple of new shirts and a new pair of capris for work. J17 got some shorts, a shirt and a light weight jacket.  We also hit a few other stores and picked up things like deodorant, toothpaste, etc. as well as getting some last bits of lumber I need for the coop.  She and I also got new cell phones today.  Hers died this week and I've noticed that mine hasn't been holding a charge for very long recently. Since we don't have a land line out here, we rely on our cells to communicate with the world.
I did get a bit of work done on the coop this afternoon.  I got all the trim pieces cut for the windows so I can put the hardware cloth over the windows. hopefully tomorrow.  J17 has promised to help me tomorrow, although she has to work at the farmer's market in the morning.
We did go out to dinner this evening to celebrate my birthday.   It was nice to not have to cook.  I've decided that I'm not going to have any more birthdays after this one.  I'm going to hold at 49.   Do you think that will work??
Now, even though I kind of want to get a bit more done this evening, I think I'm going to call it a night.  We're going to settle in and watch a movie- something we haven't done as a family for a while.  It should be fun.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Onions but no tears

I mentioned during my whiney post yesterday that I had onions to process.  On Sunday, my brother showed up with a huge bag of onions- probably about 25 lbs of them!  I was busy trying to get lunch on the table so I'm a little fuzzy about how he came about having them- but they are late season onions from Texas. Evidently they were the ones left in the field that were about to be plowed under and someone gleaned them (his inlaws who had been visiting????)  Anyway, we divided up all these huge onions.  Many were already starting to go bad so we knew they wouldn't last.  But they are big, beautiful things:
 Over a pound each.  I weighed two at 1.2 and 1.4 lbs each!!
Mom has been freezing onions for years so I use her method- nothing fancy here.  I'm not sure it is the 'right' way to do it but it definitely works.
Chop the onions into the size you would normally use for cooking- I use a medium dice for most things.
 Then lay them out on a jelly roll pan.
I cover this tightly with plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer for a few hours.  Then I transfer the onions to ziploc bags.  Freezing them on the cookie sheets helps to be able to take out what you need easily without them all sticking together although I have been known to just put them directly in to the bags.  These were pretty wet, juicy onions so I was worried they would stick.
These work really well for things you will be cooking.  They tend to get soft when they thaw so they're not really good to use 'fresh'.  But, this is a great way to preserve onions that aren't storing well.  We've had some really wet years recently where the onions started to spoil quickly.  This way, we have onions through the winter.
So, I've now got probably 7 lbs of onions in the freezer- for nothing!!  Woot!  I like that!!

I'm not sure how much the weather will cooperate with my grand plans for this weekend.  We had storms last night and this morning and then it seemed to rain all day.  We ended up with 1.7 inches of rain so I'm not sure any gardening will get done unless the sun comes out tomorrow and dries things out.
I am planning to do some more work on the coop tomorrow.  V is getting really stressed about his manuscript.  He is past his deadline for having it submitted and he's still working on it.  So, I really can't expect much from him this weekend.  The children, however, are a different matter......

Thanks to all of you for all your support.  Sometimes, I just need to whine to people who will understand (many of my co-workers and friends don't!!)

Oh, and to top it all off...  The roof of the house is leaking!  What a great week it's been!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tears of frustration

I'll admit it.  I broke down and cried this afternoon.  I am just feeling so overwhelmed with trying to manage the garden and finish the chicken coop on my own.  The garden is rapidly disappearing under a blanket of weeds and the chicken coop remains unfinished.
The tears?  I was already tired from a really busy day at work. I was trying to put up the last bits of siding on the way high up parts of the coop.  THINGS were not cooperating and pieces measured multiple times before cutting didn't fit... and I was running out of siding so every cut mattered.  I was FRUSTRATED!!!  And everything seems to be happening so slowly.  I couldn't put the wire over the windows because I realized that we don't have the trim pieces ready.  I ran out of nails... and now it's storming again.

But, V came and held me and let me cry for a bit and then helped me finish the siding- so the world seems a bit brighter... but it's still raining... and the chicken coop isn't finished... and I STILL don't have my vining crops planted... and the garden is a mass of weeds... and I still haven't planted the comfrey plant that J17 brought home from work... or our new kiwi that arrived to replace the one that didn't overwinter... or a couple of other flowers... and I have a huge mountain of laundry... and I feel incredibly guilty because I promised our friend Jim that I would till up a garden space at his new house and I have failed miserably at that.   Oh, and I have a bunch of huge onions to chop and freeze (my brother brought them on Sunday- more later on those).
So, I remain overwhelmed.  But, I have Friday off since I worked last Saturday (and it's my birthday).
Tomorrow is another day- I'll see what I get done.

Thanks for letting me whine.  Maybe I'll try to make some cheese to go with it some time....

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Oops, I nearly forgot!

I had grand plans for working on the coop today when I got home from the day job.  I was going to finish putting up the last few bits of siding and put the hardware cloth over the windows to keep out unwanted guests.  But, none of that got done.  I was reminded today at work that this evening was our girls night out to celebrate my coworker's retirement.  OOPS!  No matter how much I wanted to work on the coop, I wouldn't have missed this for the world.  Having worked closely with this woman for the last sixteen and a half years, I had to be there to wish her all the best... it's probably just as well- it was wicked hot out there again today.  It was still 90 when I was on my way home from dinner around 8 pm!   Fortunately, V took time out today to build the clean out door so at least something got done.  Now I'll just have to work doubly hard tomorrow night.
I did have just enough time when I got home to pick the strawberries. I got probably about a quart.  Of course, it was hard to tell because V was helping me and none of the ones he picked made it into the bowl! I guess he likes them...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Making up for lost time...

... with the temps, that is.  It seems like the weather is trying to make up for all the heat it didn't give us this spring.  We hit the mid 90s today with high humidity.   BLAH!   It was hot, hot, hot working on the coop this evening.  But, I got out there and did some more work on the interior.  I put up what we're calling 'the poop walls'- we lined the bottom few feet (higher behind the roost) with plasticized masonite board that we salvaged out of the old surgical suite in the basement.  Now with the walls and vinyl floor, after clean out it can just be hosed out.  So, the interior is done except for the wire wall and the nest boxes.  Now, we just need to finish the wire dividing wall (actually half wood and half wire) in that will separate the chickens from the storage area, put hardware cloth over the windows and finish the chicken and clean out doors.  We're down to the final bits.  Unfortunately, V is behind on his book which leaves me doing the work after I get home from work so it's going slow.
However, on a (hopefully) brighter note in the garden. I've decided to 'hire' J17 to weed.  There is no way I have been able to keep up with things so I've offered to pay her an hourly wage for weeding.  I didn't get my final things planted in the garden this weekend-  I hope it's not getting too late to get them out.  But I hate to give up chicken coop work time for the garden.
I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment.  Yesterday was a great break but I've got so much on my plate at the moment that now I'm almost regretting taking the time off.  It's supposed to be another scorcher tomorrow but I'll see what I can get done.  J17 plans to go out early in the morning to weed while it's cooler.  (The idea of having gas money appeals to her. )  Maybe I'll try to put in the last garden bits tomorrow... we'll see...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A holiday of sorts

What's wrong with this picture?

LOL!  Dad is the oldest one of us here and everyone stands around watching him work!  Of course, he has, by far, the most experience of any of us with a chainsaw.  The tree trunk is cleared and the damaged gate has been removed from what is left of it's hinges.  Hooray!  But that is about all the work that got done today.  So, for us, it was a holiday of sorts.
We had quite the family gathering.  All told, there were 12 of us siting around the table at lunch.  It was lovely to see everyone.  This is the first time that my sister and her husband have been here so they got the grand tour- and ended up helping out.
I've got to laugh at my siblings.  Both of them ended up out in the garden weeding.  I did tell them that I didn't invite them over to have them weed!  Honestly, I did!!  But they both helped out.  That tells you something about how pathetic the weed situation in the garden is!  But, I did send my sister home with starts of chives and garlic chives and with some walking onions.  They are truly the coolest things!  I hope they do well for her in Colorado.
We had a great lunch.  Grilled local brats and some hot dogs that Mom brought.  I made some oriental slaw with napa cabbage and Mom brought her famous macaroni salad.  I also made some hummus this morning for a dip with tortilla chips or veggies and we had some Sterzings- a locally produced potato chip that we grew up with.
By the time everyone left, it was already 5 pm so we just decided to call it a day and relax.  Let me tell you, it feels nice.  Of course, I know I've got fifty thousand things to do, but V and I sat on the deck and watched the wildlife.  We spotted lots of different birds and were even visited a few times by a hummingbird.  Even my brother was bird spotting and came in to borrow my bird ID book.    Too much fun.
Well, I've rambled on for a bit with not much to say other than we had a great day with the family.  And we got that darned tree trunk out of the way.  I hope you all had an equally wonderful Sunday.

Oh, and I've got to tell you- when they were leaving and I was giving Dad a hug and kiss goodbye- I thanked him for helping with the tree. He chuckled and thanked me for letting him come cut it.  "It's my hobby, you know."  LOL!! Only my Dad!!

Saturday, June 4, 2011


The first strawberries arrived today.  Enough for one for each of us.  Oh, they were tasty!!!  There are a few more beginning to ripen and I, for one, can't wait.  A few are misshapen from frost damage but, I'm not going by appearance here!
I had to work today.  It wasn't a bad day.  After I got home, I did manage to get the flooring glued down in the coop.  Now, we can't walk on it for at least 12 hours but tomorrow, I hope to put up the final interior paneling to 'poop proof' the walls and V wants to finish the interior 'wire wall' that will separate the chickens from the storage area.  Soon... soon.....
It seems that we are hosting quite the family get-together tomorrow.  My parents are coming up, as is my oldest sister and her husband (visiting from CO).  My brother and oldest nephew are coming as well (we're not sure his wife is coming yet).  I'm only missing one sister (wish you could be here!!) for the entire family.  Mom said they will bring some hot dogs, buns and Mom's famous macaroni salad.  We will supply some local brats (maybe some burgers), beverages, coleslaw, chips and strawberry shortcake for dessert.  It should be a lovely picnic.  We hope for some advice on the tree situation as well as just time to visit.
My sister has asked if J17 has access to chives or parsley with her job.  J17 isn't working this weekend but I told her that I can fix her up with chives, garlic chives and walking onions if she wants.  My parsley is looking rather pathetic (as is most of the garden!!) or I would offer her some of that as well.
Now, I've got to go get a few things done before the big day tomorrow.
Have a fabulous Sunday.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Birdie stuff

Progress has been made. Sorry- no photos. The interior walls of the coop are painted.  Today V and I14 put up most of the stained siding.  After work I put down the additional floor boards and got half of the vinyl flooring cut to fit.  I really wanted to get the rest cut and glued down but I ran out of light.
But something really cool happened!  I had been working for a while and was in the shop cutting plywood for the floor (let me go on record that while I am able to use a circular saw, I HATE them!).  Anyway, I came out of the shop and around the corner to the coop. What should there be in my garden but a wild turkey!  It took off and flew to one of the other hills.  Beautiful!  Of course, I'm not so sure I want it prowling around in my garden, but it's nice to see.
I've got to work my paying job tomorrow.  We're supposed to have more thunderstorms but I'm hoping to get the flooring done and maybe a few other odds and ends.  I really need to get the house cleaned.  It seems that my parents and sister may be coming up on Sunday after all.  That will be nice.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate and Dad can take a look at our troublesome tree trunk to give us some advice.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The first of June

My, oh my!  Where has the time gone. It certainly can't be June already!  But it is.  And I am woefully behind my self imposed schedule for the year.  But, there you have it.  We've been doing our best.  And really, we haven't done too bad.
Today was an 'easy' day.  We only worked on the coop for an hour tonight and finished the interior walls. I was all gung-ho to start in on the flooring but V wants to make sure the roof doesn't leak before we put it down.  He installed the roof vents this morning and since it is supposed to rain tonight we should get the test he wants.
Actually, having a little non-physical-labor down time is pretty nice.  I think one of the reasons I haven't been sleeping well is that I'm over tired; kind of like an over-tired child who fights going to sleep.

We had a lovely harvest salad tonight with dinner.  A basket of kale, a green onion and some asian inspired, toasted sesame vinaigrette made for a tasty salad.  Mmmmmm.  And V and I each had a tiny radish from the garden.  YUM!!
There are a few strawberries out there that I'm keeping my eye on.  Soon... soon.....

Tomorrow is the last day of school for the children.  And the summer begins.  It's a busy weekend planned already.  J17 is going to go work at Wapsi-no-noc Gardens on Friday since she won't be able to be at the farmer's market on Saturday because she is taking the SAT.  I work Saturday and we'll have to see about Sunday.  My sister from CO is coming home for the weekend.  Originally, we had planned to go to my parents farm to see them but we've got so much to do here we're thinking about inviting them all up here (and maybe having Dad bring his big chainsaw for us to use to finish clearing that tree- no ulterior motive here!!).

On my to-do list for the rest of the week and weekend:
Finish the chicken coop!! we're getting so close- I'm hoping to have the girls installed before my birthday (the 10th)
Weed the garden (I'm tempted to get a mower for the weeds in my cabbage!!)
Finish planting the garden- I still have my vining crops to plant (squash, cucumbers and melons) and our baby corn.
And of course, we still have to work on that huge brush pile we've got stacked up and cut some of the other limbs down to a more manageable size.  Clean up was 'get it out of here' not 'stack it neatly'.
And the usual laundry, cleaning, etc.....  especially if my parents do come up.

Oh, and FYI, I've changed my comments to allow anonymous ones so if anyone out there without an ID (Joyce, I'm thinking of you!) wants to comment- you can.