Saturday, November 15, 2008

I picked up a second job!

Dear Friends,

I know it has been awfully quiet around here. The truth is I have spent most of my days working-and my evenings too! But the work is never dull. Working for surgery is an exciting thing and you always have to be on your toes for what is thrown your way. Sometimes it's a middle of the night call, that wakes you from sound slumber that you must answer. Sometimes is a problem you have to find a solution to. I can't say my job is boring in the least though sometimes I wish for more uninterrupted sleep!

But, to make ends meet a little better, I also took up a second job here at the hospital. So that is what I've been up to lately. Busy Busy Busy. It won't be like this forever, I hope.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Homestead-y Stuff

Good evening friends!

Today as I had promised myself, I did homestead like things. I got the animals settled into the shed-- as I have no extra $$ right now for lights, I used some of my homemade grow light plant stand lights, which I can replace with fresh ones for the seed starting season anyway later. I already have heat lamps but its not even close to cold enough for that yet. When I finished that, I turned my compost pile for the last time this winter. I was surprised about the amount of almost completely composted material....amazing what a bit of chicken poop will do! I spread this stuff over some of the garden rows and it will continue breaking down over the winter.

I really didn't do the baking like I wanted to- the reason was I only had 10 dollars for groceries and our cupboards were already pretty bare...We would have had more but Mike has a stomach infection now and we had to pick up two types of antibiotics today to start fighting it...but I did the best I could, buying 30 eggs, a little bit of cheese, a small hunk of ham, and some Ramon noodles( for something quick), and some butter. Things I can use to make beans, pumpkins, rice and potatoes seem more palatable. Not what I wanted, but sometimes ya just have to add that new notch in the belt. It wouldn't be like this way normally but Mike couldn't work the previous week and did not get paid so we were riding on just my paycheck this week to pay the bills. It will be better next week of course, no biggie.

This afternoon then, I got out a new project to begin, I really want to learn how to sew my own clothes, as I mentioned yesterday, so I started with something "easy" seeming. The apron is all cut out now, and I'll start sewing it up tomorrow.

That's it for now...

Have a good night!


Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween 2008

Good evening ghouls and goblins!

I wish I could say I was out having fun, but I am at work :P. Those of us in the medical profession do not get holidays! Can't y'all quit getting sick or hurt for the holidays? The whole weekend I am going to be on call, but I won't have to work unless they have emergency's at night after the morning shift goes home so I'm crossing my fingers I can sleep through the nights without having to jump out of bed and into scrubs.

Tomorrow I hope to do homesteady type stuff all day. I'm going to make myself stay away from the computer and focus on chores, both outside and out and maybe I will even make some yummy comfort foods to munch on. AND I want to try my hand at sewing--- I have a pattern for an apron and some scraps of fabric. I know my first won't be perfect (Did I happen to mention in 8th grade I got a D+ in home economics? My worst grade EVER!! Go figure.....) so I am not wanting to buy expensive fabric for this first trial. I'm even going to have to figure out how to sew on buttons......I am most certainly not a natural homemaker lol! Aprons are an alien garment to me.....but I figure it's got to be pretty "easy" right? If all goes well, perhaps then I can try making other things. The last time I tried sewing anything was a skirt, which when I proudly tried it on Mike quickly proclaimed to look like curtains............

Well, Have a good night all! Sleep tight!


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hallow's Eve

Good evening friends!

I know it is way past an update. I guess I haven't had much to say lately as this is one of those odd times of years where there isn't much going on outside or in. This weekend though, I must totally winterize everything. I need to get the remaining animals into the shed-- buy hay and winter feed, bury pots of plants in the ground to protect through winter, get burlap to wrap around my rose bush, wrap my fruit tree trunks, and cut back the remaining perennials.

A sad note about my animals: Last night as I went out to top off the water and feed, and to cover the hutches for the night, I discovered that Silver was dead. He had been healthy seeming earlier in the day. Since last year around this time, someone poisoned our previous rabbit, I was suspicious and smelled the water--- it smelled very strongly, like turpentine or paint thinner would smell like. I tried the other waters too, they did not have this same smell but to be on the safe side, I removed them all and gave the living critters new bottles. I'd hate to think that anyone would be so cruel as to poison someones pets but I can't help but suspect, especially after what happened last year. I left the bottle open, to show my husband later, but I foolishly didn't cap it again and by the time he was around to smell it, what ever it was had dissipated so my proof was gone. Poor Silver :(. I never did get him to father any kits, though I tried. I think he may have been sterile. So Once I put his memory to rest, I will have to find another male rabbit. Perhaps another dutch, they don't eat as much as a Rex dose! and therefore cost a lot less to raise. I hear too that they have large litters and put on meat very quickly. So maybe I will try that.

Other then that, there is not much to report here.

Have a good night all.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Focused all over the place

Good evening my friends!

I took a low census day at work today thinking that today was the day Mike got his test results for cancer back, I wanted to be there. But I was mistaken, wrong date. But since I'd already called in, I took the opportunity to hike again. I've done very little hiking this year, and I've forgotten how much I love it.

Sunday I went to the local state park, Indiana Dunes State Park. I took a nice long hike, one big loop that took me from one end of the park to the other and back starting at Devil's Slide. Normally you start down at the beach for trail #10 (the longest trail in the park) But since Ike took out a huge portion of the devils slide trail head parking area, the only way to the trail was to take a deter strait up Devil's Slide, a very steep sandy dune that you could literally sled down and have a wild ride doing it. What a nice little warm up that was! I followed a narrow trail between fencing (which keeps you on trail and off the protected portions of the dunes) The re-route takes you back down to the beach, on the other side of the giant sink hole. Its then a long walk along the gently lapping lake Michigan. I was tempted to take my boots off and wade, but it was chilly out with a slight breeze. There is no shade, and this portion would be almost unbearable on a hot day. You'd certainly get sun burnt. This part gets kind of monotonous after awhile, so I stopped now and then whenever I saw a particularly flat smooth stone to perfect my stone skipping techniques. (I really do need the practice!) I managed twice to get seven skips, my best score ever! It's hard to tell where to leave the beach, there are no clear signs and I way over shot the turn off. In fact I walked myself right out of the park and came to a road. Try as I might, I could not find a road on the map the park gave me. So I walked a bit along the road to see if I could see a continuation of the trail. I did not, but I did see a different trail head stop for a trail I never knew about in the Indiana Dunes national lake shore, plus, there were bathrooms which I took full advantage of. The little trail that goes from there is a birding trail, a .6 mile loop and boy was it hopping with birders and birds. A pleasant surprise for a mistake. after taking advantage of a bench to take my boots off and fix my socks which had been bunching up on me, I went back along the road to the beach and walked further up in the dunes trying to find my real turn off. About 10 minutes of regaining the beach, I found it. The sign was way up in the dunes, not visible from down by the water at all. My guess is most people go the opposite direction then I was going. The hike up from the beach on that end is not even close to as steep as Devil's Slide. Its still a sandy hill though, but not difficult. For the first time the entire hike, I'm in the trees, just in time for when it starts to warm up in the sun. A bit of a stronger breeze kicks up but since I'm moving, I don't get chilled. The trail takes you back west, on the back side of the dunes you were on the other side of, hiking east. It's a whole new environment there. The trees are mostly native tulip trees, oaks and some others I'm not sure of. You hike through alternate dry and swampy areas. The trail goes through "Paradise valley"first which is a calm, flat area. I stopped here to take a short break as other hikers passed on by. I certainly wasn't alone on this trail. There were far too many people for my taste, but with such a nice weekend, I could understand the need to be out. Next comes swampier areas, filled with ferns, trees that like more water, and the resinous white pines, filling the air with a scent that is near and dear to this Californian conifer forest dweller. I stopped to examine a small tree with dark blueberry colored fruits, bell-shaped. I'm reminded of Thoreau's book, Wild Fruits, and I'm tempted to eat them. I resist, barely, and move on. Lots of muddy trail follows, and then a boardwalk through more marshy land. A few stealthy mosquito's get a snack but it's not enough of a bother to spray the deet I carry with me. I leave the wetter areas for more solid ground again. The trail intersects several other trails, number 2 and 9 I think. Number 10 isn't a complete loop. I end up at the nature center and have to walk through a large and very busy campground (or should I say RV ground, I only saw 2 tents out of all the visitors staying there...and Rving is NOT camping!!! Don't kid yourselves! I hardly even count Car Camping as camping.) I hit the "Beach Trail" at the end of the second part of the campground, right next to the potties, that takes me back to the devil's slide area. It's a boardwalk the entire way that boarders a little stream. It's not far then, until I was back at the car.

Today, I stayed even closer to home and went to Deep River for a short hike. I wanted to take my favorite trail and maybe harvest some Hen-Of-The-Woods, where I had two secret spots of it. However, when I came to the first foot bridge, or where it should of been, I knew that Ike had done it's damage here too. That first stream crossing without the bridge is no big deal, its small. and the other bridges I came to, though damaged, were stable. The trail though, was something else. The river had gorged out big sections. A few times I had to climb down 3-4 feet lower then it was before. I had to weave through tree roots that I used to walk over unseen below my feet! There was a lot of standing water on parts of the trail that had to be navigated around. Trees were down everywhere. It got worse at the train trestle, where the soil and rocks had been heavily eroded away. I climbed on down anyway, the footing was tricky. Beyond this, the trail had been completely obliterated as what looks like a new arm of the river had made a gorge of the trail, and filled it with water, then surrounded it with heaps of downed trees, so many the thought of climbing over or around in hopes of finding the trail again was daunting. They don't really keep the trails in this park maintained, though, so It didn't surprise me too much. Mostly its those of us who hike them who do anything to help, and this was beyond help, I think. I found a way around this major obstacle though, but was unsure where the trail was after. I would of gone further had I brought my GPS or at least my compass, and if it didn't look like it was about to rain. So I turned back. I do not want to be caught back there if it rained, it floods an awful lot in this park. My hen-of-the woods were somewhere past that mess, if they were still there at all. My forage foray was not all together ruined though, I came to Haw heaven. Lots of fruit on the hawthorns this year, and the light frosts have made them sweet and very flavorful. No wonder there were so many robins, they were likely getting fat off of them. They are not Washington haws, or pear haws, its a new kind I haven't yet identified, but defiantly a haw. The leaves (the few left), the bark, and the thorns are all pretty distinctive of haws.

As I hiked today, I came to thinking about all kinds of things, about how I have myself always spread so thin around and getting nowhere, and not enjoying it. I've shoved things aside that I love (such as backpacking and hiking) for things that are mediocre to me, and for dreams that are probably unattainable for a long long time, if ever at all. Is a dream worth chasing if you never reach it or is it something worse? I'm just trying to survive, but if what I do to survive kills the things I love, is it worth it? I had to stop and think over this stray thought. I have to really look inside my heart. Sure I'd love to have a farm someday, but would it be attainable, or worth it? Am I making my life miserable for a possibility that may never happen? I don't want to live like that. I want to live for the moment. Hiking makes me feel at peace, being in the woods, brings calm and sometimes clarity. Why can't I just be happy where I am, living in this trailer with a small garden?

I'm rambling but I can't help but think the trail is the place for me. I've probably spoken of this before, but once, when I was laying in a hospital, near death, ready for it in fact, I had a dream. I was on the trail, I was hiking, hiking, hiking, up hill. There was a place I had to get to, a mountain top. And as I hiked, no mater how fast or far, it remained out of reach. I just could not get to the top. In my dream I grew fearful. I couldn't die yet, I had to reach that mountain. I was meant to. I was supposed to. I lived, I began getting better after that dream (In fact I don't remember a whole week of lost time before that dream so it really sticks out in my head).

Anyway, I have a whole lot of thinking to do. A farm dream is all well and good......but in all reality, I have my doubts if I would be able to attain it. Maybe it's just not meant to be.....

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Poor Freya Cat and a possible parasite

Good evening (Morning?) dear friends,

It's now 40 minutes into Sunday morning here and I can't sleep. I guess I have a bit on my mind (and some indigestion also) that has me wide awake. Most of you know about Freya cat--she even blogged for a while before she got bored of pushing keys on the keyboard. Those of you who know her, know that she is adored by Mike and I. Last Sunday was the last time anyone saw her, that is until yesterday. But even before last Sunday, she was gone for 2 whole days. I was at work when my husband called and said she had came home (last Sunday) but that something was VERY WRONG with her. She was drooling and acting nutty and was covered in mud or filth. He'd tried to catch her and she ran off, not to be seen again for a week. I though she might of been poisoned by something. When she didn't return, I feared the worst. I tried not to think about it. I tried to push it from my mind, really because I couldn't handle thinking about it.
but yesterday afternoon, when I returned from dropping mail off, she came running, meowing, greeting me in the drive way like old times. she was covered in filth (but wasn't drooling or nutty) she looked to have mud caked all over her and was looking very very ragged with patches of fur missing. My poor Freya! A bath, and antibiotics, she is going to be fine. poor Freya! If only they could speak, then I could understand what kind of trauma she had. :(

In some disappointing news, I thought perhaps I finally had an alien parasite. But, the p.o.s (piss on stick) reports that no, there is not an internal parasite at this time. Odd, because I really thought it was possible, with my crazy apatite lately and the odd early spotting (it ain't time for the monthly visitor yet so i thought it was very odd). oh well.................I'll just have to find another excuse for my crazy french fry addiction.

Have a good night (day?) my friends,


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hiking Season

Good morning friends!

I'm making plans to do a long day hike solo by myself come this weekend. I'd rather backpack but with the one car thing, that's hard to swing as Mike always finds some excuse to need the car. :). But there is hope, as the gas prices continue to go down, my ability to drive anywhere of note for hiking goes up. So gas, keep going down! It's for my sanity!

When Mike was much more interested in the whole hiking thing, his idea of hiking season began with the first frost and ended with the first remotely warm day. he wasn't much of a buggy, humidity, hot day kind of hiker. Snow was good, ice too, and the colder the better at night. But to me...Hiking season is all year long, except for some of the coldest nights....brrrrrrr. I don't quite have the stones to spend any more nights out below 0*, even with double the ground pads and an expensive -15* sleeping bag. I've tried it, and spent several nights freezing to death and afraid to get out of my bag to answer natures call. I'm a cold sleeper. I'll get chilled no matter the bag. I don't mind sharing my sleeping bag with my bottles of water to keep them from freezing, but when it comes to warming your cold camp fuel in your armpit so you can start your stove for a hot breakfast is just too much :). So call me a wuss if you like, I don't like sleeping out in the below 0 kind of weather. But, I will still hike! Once you are moving and burning calories you stay fairly warm, so long as you don't slip into any icy streams and get your boots wet (In which case baggies over your feet, though annoying to hike in as you slip back and forth in your shoes, helps tremendously to keep you from loosing any flesh.....believe me....I know.) and once again, it is quite painful to put your feet into frozen ice cube boots in mornings! So I think camping out this winter is not on my list of things to do, but hiking, snowshoeing and things of this nature will certainly be on it.

But, as I said before I got off on the whole freeze your stones off tangent, I was going hiking. I'm thinking a nice long stay out all day Sunday hike, with a picnic for myself. Perhaps I'll even pack my pack (as I would for backpacking) just so I get that good happy feeling again as I step along the trails. I'm not sure where I'll go yet, somewhere with lots of colorful leaves of course. I may have to pick up a disposable camera so I can take some pictures. The colors seem very vivid this year and I'd like to share them with all of you.

Well, happy trails my friends!


Friday, October 10, 2008

Lost And Found and the First Frost

Dear Friends,

You'll have to pardon me for not typing this week, I was very busy! But that doesn't mean I didn't have anything to type. Every time I tried to sit down and log on something would come up and I had to put it off once again. I'm sure you've all had days...and weeks(!) like that.

Last Sunday I had finished putting the veggie garden to bed. There is absolutely nothing else to do in it until next spring (not counting mulching and caging berry bushes for winter, I still need to do that). That Sunday, since things are tight, I tried something new for supper from the pantry. A while back someone gave me a bag of lentils they didn't know how to use. I've never really cooked lentils beyond that 15 bean soup bag which had them in it. I also had a bunch of beans but wanted something much faster then beans. What I came up with was surprisingly good, hearty, and cheap to make and i had left overs for days between the two of us. If you've never tried them, this is what I did, though I did not follow a recipe I just tossed in what I had, kind of like "garbage soup".

1 lb bag of dried brown lentils (Reading up on lentils later, I discovered they come in different colors)
1 can condensed tomato soup (normally I would use tomato paste but this is what I had)
7 cups of water
8 chicken bullion cubes
1 can of sweet corn
Garlic greens (I missed some garlic in the harvest and it was sprouting in the garden..had to dig em up anyway so why waste em eh?)
1 bay leaf (I used a fresh one from my little potted bay tree!)
dried thyme (amount? I just dumped some in)
ground black pepper (again, I didn't measure)
chili powder (nope...just poured it on it again)

I combined it all in a big soup pot and let it come to a boil, then simmered for about 40 minutes until the lentils were tender. This would be really good with sausage in it if you wanted to add meat but as it is, there is plenty of protein and fiber just in the lentils. I also made some white bread to go with it in my $5 thrift shop bread machine.

When this was all ready to be served, Brandi dog decided to get into some mischief but not the usual kind. This time it was VERY SERIOUS and SCARY. Mike was on the computer watching hockey while I was fixin' supper when Brandi decided to charge right through a screen window and go running off. Mike ran after her but this dog is FAST. We were frantic. We took turns searching by car but Brandi had run into adjacent farm fields and open areas. We called everyone we could think off, the police, animal control, humane society, the Houndsong rescue group whom we adopted her through. She is of course micro chipped but we didn't want her to be lost! It started to get dark. We kept hoping she'd smell her way home before dark as it was getting cold. Brandi HATES cold.

After searching and searching, I finally came home, feeling awful about losing our dog. But then the phone rang. It was the police dispatcher. They had found a dog and wanted to know if I could go see if it was mine. She couldn't give me a description but gave me a location. I hopped back into the car and drove as fast as my little Accent could go. I pulled up to two police cars. The police men were standing outside with a very happy and pleased with herself looking hound dog. It was Brandi, doing her best to impress the police with good behavior and acting very sweet. Apparently, when she got lonely and bored with tracking critters down, she went to the first people she saw for companionship. She really does hate to be alone, even more then she hates being cold. I was VERY glad to get her back. Thanks Portage Police!!! I am also glad she didn't go to one of the neighboring farms to harass livestock. I was afraid she would try that.

Since then, Brandi hasn't wanted to let me out of her sight at all. I can't even disappear into the bathroom without her getting frantic. I'm hoping she learned her lesson. She's been sticking to me like glue whenever I am home. I think being alone out there probably scared her silly.

It was a good thing she came home, as the next morning a first light frost coated the grass on the north side of the house when I got up. Its been very chilly these past nights but the days have been warming nicely. This year, the leaves on the trees are spectacular. Very bright and colorful. In fact, I think it's the best leaf year I've had since moving to Indiana. This weekend I have to work, but next weekend I most certainly will squeeze a hike in to take in some of the leaves and maybe I'll pack a picnic to enjoy.

Well, I hope you enjoy your weekend!


Thursday, October 2, 2008

The shivering dog.

Good evening friends!

This morning started off chilly again but not so chilly as the day before when I had all the windows to the house open, I had closed them last night. Still though, it was cold enough this morning in the living room to make the dog, our "tough" hunting dog, bred to deal with difficult hunting environments and rugged territory, shiver. For such a "tough" breed, she sure gets cold easy. The poor thing doesn't like to be in temperatures lower then 60. I guess I will have to make her a dog sweater or something for winter time! But at least the dog and I finally have something in common besides our love of socks, watermelon, and balls of yarn.

I'm reading some good books right now. The first, which arrived on Monday is "Heirloom, Notes From An Accidental Tomato Farmer" by Tim Stark. I'm enjoying it thoroughly. And then there is a surprise book "Five Acres And Independence" by M.G. Kains. It wasn't a book I'd ordered or was even expecting in the mail Wednesday, but there it was, thanks to my friends in Michigan who'd sent it to me. These are the same friends who bred Buttons, my Dutch rabbit and whom with I occasionally go hiking with. They needed the room, they wrote, for their expected new baby so were getting rid of books and thought of me when they pulled Five Acres off the shelf. That was very kind and thoughtful and I will be sending them a thank you note. I'm sure I can take the information in the book and use it to my advantage, even in my tiny lot garden and someday on my own piece of land. In any case, it should be a good read for the long winter that is before us.

Looking forward to the weekend.....

Have a good night all.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Cold and Rainy

Dear Friends,

It's been cold and rainy all day. I woke up this morning and had to layer in clothes in the house and close windows. I don't think it got above the 50's today. Today's chill reminded me that I really need to get the shed prepared for housing animals during our long cold winter. I need to clean it out and organize it so that they have space and are easy to tend to and I need to set up a light on a timer for them and heat lamps and heated waterers. I also need to buy some hay, maybe two bales should do it? And not only all this but I need to make nest boxes for the hens as they should be laying well in another month or two.

The cold also reminds me its time to stop fooling around in the garden and get it cleaned up. Pick green tomatoes to ripen inside, the remaining peppers and to cook up all the pumpkins for the freezer and either dry the seeds and pumpkin skins for rabbit feed or roast the seeds for ourselves to enjoy. Then I need to pull all the tomato plants, weeds and whatever else needs to be pulled, composted or disposed of, mulch beds that still need new mulch, and give the compost pile one last turn over for the season. Also, annuals I wish to keep need to be cut and brought inside for rooting and growing over, and perennials in pots have to be either sunk in the ground or planted then mulched, and my potted amaryllis bulbs have to be debugged and brought inside.

Of course, all this stuff is pretty miserable if it's cold and wet out...Time to start dressing for the cold I guess. Good buy summer clothes!

Good night my friends,

Nickie :)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A good weekend

Good evening friends!

I hope you and yours are finding yourselves healthy. My weekend has been pretty easy going. Mostly I worked in the garden and with the animals. I watched Internet TV with Mike, we went out to dinner and went to the hardware store to buy bulbs with a gift card Mike had won in a drawing. I also had a coupon for a free bag of bulbs from on-line that I used. I bought 20 tulip bulbs, mixed purple kinds, and purple and pink anemones, some organic cow-free bulb fertilizer and a bulb planter all without paying a dime! I planted them around my apple tree along with the purple flowering perennials I had received from the plant swap last week, and I moved one of my irises there as well.

Mike mowed down my buckwheat with protests that it was too pretty to mow. I told him I didn't want them to reseed though or they might become weeds so he went ahead and did it for me. After, I turned over the soil and the buckwheat stalks into wide rows where I will be planting next year. I have one side of the garden all done now. The other still has tomato plants so I haven't turned the soil yet though they are on their last leg and they will be leaving soon enough.

Saturday a few good reads arrived in the mail. A couple books on prairie plants, grasses, sedges and rushes as I've been interested in the ecology of the area for a while but haven't taken the time yet to learn much. I also bought a reading book just for enjoyment about an heirloom tomato farmer, and another (which hasn't yet arrived) about propagation techniques.

Over all it was not a difficult weekend even though I was called in to surgery late Saturday night and didn't get home until 4 Sunday. I slept in until 10, much longer then I had hoped to on Sunday so I got less done then I had planned but still not a bad day.

Today, Monday, it has been wanting to rain all day. Real gloomy looking but the clouds give a nice look to the yellow leaved trees.

Well, nothing more to report here. Have a good night,


Friday, September 26, 2008

The weekend is near.

Good evening!

Its a cool evening tonight outside...but nobody is complaining. It seems like it's been a very long week for me but it's finally over. I know I should be grateful for every day and not wish it away faster, as we all know, time flies but this week has been worrisome. You see Mike hasn't been feeling well for a couple of weeks. Strangely my 6th sense had kicked in about a month ago (why am I always being proven right?) and I was telling my husband that it had been a very long time since he'd had a physical and that he should go find a doctor and get blood work up and a general well being check. Lo and behold, a couple weeks ago he started feeling unwell. But Mike being Mike, he just dealt with it. Finally this week he did go to the Dr to get checked out. She gave him a blood test and some pills to help with his bowel issues. Those pills, that evening sent him to the ER feeling worse and panicky as he was having a reaction to them. The next day we made another appointment with the Dr again. Thursday he was taken off those pills and given something else and his blood test was read. Apparently there are a number of possibly worry some things going on. He has more tests scheduled but nothing major....just things that could become VERY MAJOR if he doesn't get a handle on them now. I hate it when that woman's intuition is right but at least we know whats going on and that has lessened the stress a bit. The pills the Dr gave Mike is making his stomach feel much better at least! I really should right a book on my gut instinct, I swear. Since forever, it's proven me right every time, something that is really handy when scanning the help wanted ads or hitch-hiking. Anyway, like I said, more tests are to follow but for the weekend we won't think about it. We'll just try to enjoy ourselves and this promising beautiful weather that is expected.

Have a good weekend everyone!


Thursday, September 25, 2008

What I learned #3

Good evening everyone!

It's getting darker earlier and earlier here in NW Indiana. The landscape is dotted with yellow trees. Though it's only the beginning of fall. In the fields near home down the road are acres of sorghum. At the festival, I've finally learned what they do with sorghum. I met a very nice ranger lady who was directing an old white workhorse in a circle. The horse was attached to a couple of wooden logs that were attached to a grinder. The grinder was used to squeeze sap from the stalks of sorghum. (Sorghum, if you don't know, looks a lot like corn stalks). Next, they take the juice of the stalks they squeezed out and pour it in a hot wide pan over wood fire to boil down and thicken, just like you do with maple syrup from the sugar maples in late winter. The liquid eventually turns into molasses, a sweeter the pioneers relied on here since sugar cane sugar was difficult to come by, especially in the winter when they settlers had to wait for months before they could get to town. When regular sugar crystallized and became hard to use, they would soften it with molasses and that's how brown sugar came about. They baked things like ginger snap cookies, which use molasses. That along with honey kept families in sweeteners through the long winters. I found it very interesting.

Well, have a good night my friends.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What I Learned #2

Good morning everyone!

Its beautiful out. I spent a little time in the garden weeding a flower bed and pulling out old cleome plants that were past their prime. I also spent time playing with the kittens, the rabbits and the chickens. They do keep me busy. The kittens think they are helping me when I'm weeding but they are really quite distracting. You just can't tell them otherwise though.

At the harvest fair I learned how to make apple cider. As it turns out, you can't squeeze much juice from a whole apple, so the apples have to be ground up first before pressing. You put the ground up pieces in cheese cloth and put them under the press, which squeezes out the juice. Juice doesn't last forever though, and when it goes bad its not really 'bad'. A slimy goop forms on the top called "the mother". When the goop sinks to the bottom, you have apple cider vinegar. The longer you keep it (the more times the mother forms and sinks), the better it tastes. I had been curious about how to make cider for a long time, especially with the wild apples that grow in the woods I think it would be neat to be able to make my own at some point in time but since I have nowhere to store even a small apple press here I'll likely never get around to doing it until I have a bigger home.

Well enjoy your day everyone!


Monday, September 22, 2008

What I learned this this weekend #1

Good day friends!

I hope you are all enjoying this first day of fall which started at 10:44 am today. This weekend has been all about fall stuff. First I went apple picking at the local u-pick orchard which was disappointing. Oh the apples are good, but since they changed ownership the atmosphere of the place has also changed. They are making it so commercialized now it's ridiculous. Soon it will be another Disney land. I may have to go farther to get my apples because I don't think I'll go there ever again. Not only did they jack up the price of their apples to more per lb. then they are at the stores, they now make you PAY just to pick the apples........ Nope, not going back.

But Sunday, I had a grand time! I went to the harvest fest at the Indiana Dunes National Lake shore. I did a short hike and then took a tour of the old farm house, the organic garden and checked out all the booths that were demonstrating old ways of homesteading chores.

I spent some time talking with a bee keeper who had a hive there (empty of bees for safety sake) and watched as he took a steam knife that was heated by hot water over a fire to the hive frames to cut off the waxy part so he could put the frames in a centrifuge. Next, we spun the frames until the honey came out, and drained through a spout at the bottom. I got to taste the fresh honey right there. This honey was goldenrod honey and very yummy. I learned that each hive could make a HUGE amount of honey, but that since everywhere was getting built up, open places were being mowed and people don't plant flowers as much that what the hives used to make in honey has diminished a great deal. I've also learned that hive die offs haven't effected this area much at all and that some bee farmers are refusing to take their hives to farms that use a lot of chemicals anymore because they are afraid of the risk to their bees. An interesting thing I learned is that buckwheat (the cover crop I am using) makes a very strong black honey that a lot of people don't like.

I learned a lot from each of the booths, and I figure I can reflect on each thing in different posts.
I'm glad I went and had a lot of fun.

Today I took my spare roses and peppermints to Deep River park, where they were having a plant swap meet. I only managed to give away a couple of peppermints but the roses all went. I received some bulbs, toad lily clumps, ferns, spearmint, edible sage, ornamental basil, a couple tulip tree seedlings ( I figure I could try to have fun with them and grow them as minis), obedient plant, and some sunflower seeds.

Well, it's time for me to go.

Nice chatting with ya,


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Howdy dear friends,
It is a beautiful morning here in northwest Indiana. It's the perfect morning to do a bunch of mulching. I hopped out of bed early today and made a bee-line for the free mulch pile and filled up my car twice, which was enough to mulch one bed nicely. The daylily bed along the road needed new mulch bad as what I had put there when I planted it was almost all gone now.
Yesterday i spent time in the garden doing other chores. The Latham raspberry twigs I planted in the spring are getting tall and floppy so I went to the hardware store and bought some metal stakes and wire to make the trellis I had been putting off for too long. After i trellised them, it looked a lot neater. The layer of half broken down compost I'd mulched with in early summer has kept the weeds at bay nicely. Then I used the old bricks from a neighbor to line the bed and finish it all off. It looks almost professional now. I'm pleased with myself.
I cut down the yellow scabiosa plants. these plants were considered 'weeds' by the evil association here, but I ignored thier dyer warning in the form of a ticket requesting that I "weed". Surprisingly, there were no consequences and the butterflies and insects got to keep loving the scabiosa flowers. Now though, I decided to go ahead and cut them down as they were starting to look very ragged and unkempt. Though as I was doing the deed all kinds of butterflies kept visiting the flowers as I worked, making me feel guilt ridden, even worse as they visited the growing pile on the ground of cut plants. If you want LOTS of butterflies, plant yellow scabiosa. Bees, hover flies and butterflies can't seem to resist them.
While I was out in the garden, I decided to share with you some of the very pretty leaves I have right now. (See the picture). Top: Blueberry, Hydrangeas. Middle: Coleus, Heuchera. Bottom: Ornamental sweet potato vine, native tulip tree.
In the veggie patch, I harvested a moon and stars watermelon. I read that you should harvest when the tendrils nearest the melon have dried. I'm hoping this is right. I'm too scared to cut into it yet to find out.
Well, have a wonderful Sunday!

Friday, September 19, 2008

And things return to normal...

Dear Friends,

Things are high and dry now here at my place and almost all the roads are open once again. For a while there I was quite frazzled with it all. I was worried about the animals who were constantly wet despite changing bedding every day and trying to keep the wet out. I was worried about my father-in-law who lives in Munster, IN. which is still under mandatory evacuation. He's OK by the way. I was worried about my neighbors, and worried about how I was getting to work everyday as the traffic situation was very bad taking 2 hours to get around instead of the normal 45 minutes.

But now, things are getting back to normal. I cancelled my mini-vacation plans because of this storm, and as upsetting as that is, I have the opportunity to help out my not as fortunate friends, neighbors and family that were affected by this storm by helping them dry out and clean up. Considering I could of gone fishing from my steps the other day, I count myself lucky just to have suffered problems in the garden only.
In the garden I lost my Brussels sprouts, most of my pepper plants, a conifer shrub which I replaced today with something much more interesting (Burgundy Star Ninebark), and my parsley.
Today as I was feeding and cleaning and brushing the rabbits (who are shedding like I've never seen them shed ever before) I noticed that the buckwheat was already blooming (See the picture if you don't know what buckwheat looks like). I'm tempted to let it go to seed and maybe have yet another crop pop up from that since it seems to grow so fast and green. I'm still debating as I feel like I should be planting greens and such right now even though I KNOW there won't be time before the first frost. I forked up a good wide row of the buckwheat turning the soil so that I can at least get my garlic planted.
I need to get the trellis for my raspberries in this weekend while the ground is soft. I had no idea they would grow so fast and they are starting to get long and floppy. Luckily Mike won a home depot gift card that should cover the costs of the project easily!
To cheer up, I've decided to do some fall things. I'm roasting pumpkin in the oven for pumpkin pie right now and afterwards the seeds which I'm soaking in oil and spices will go in next. Those little sugar pie pumpkins have a LOT of seeds for their size. I'm saving a few seeds for next year's garden. Tomorrow I think I will go apple picking at the orchard down the road (providing that road is open tomorrow) as my favorite apples are ripe right now. MMMMM. Nothing cheers me up like a fresh picked apple! :)
Have a great Friday all!

Monday, September 15, 2008

An Island

Dear Friends,

I hope this evening finds you all safe, warm and dry. Here, dry is a hard thing to find. As of last Friday, my rain gauge reads 12.5 inches of rain. Do you know what that kind of rain does? It cuts off all the roads, lets rivers take over bridges, lets marshes and swamps and drainage ditches turn into lakes, and for some unlucky folks, it turns houses into boats. Yesterday I was feeling quite claustrophobic. I left 2 hours early for work, only to find every road impassable. I had to call off or risk getting the car stuck in moving water where moving water shouldn't of been. I had to stay home and watch my yard turn into a lake. Neighbors moved their cars to higher ground. Some peoples cars were up to their dashboards in water. Kids paddled makeshift rafts down the street. Emergency vehicles came into our neighborhood to see if we needed to evacuate. Half the neighborhood had to, our part was voluntary. We stayed.

Everyone was worried. Everyone was waiting for the rain to end and finally around 5 pm it did. By morning, the water had receded somewhat from my yard, and one street was passable so that I could get to the toll road (the only main road in NWI at that time that was free and clear) so that I could get to work.

In a way I was glad to have an excuse to stay home. I was running a 100 degree fever since Saturday, and I was able to rest though I felt antsy too. I don't like not having the option of going and getting out away from the house. I don't like being an island.

But their is no more rain in the forecast for a while, and for that, all of us in these parts are thankful. I hope the roads are even better off by the time I get out of here and go home.

Have a good night all,


Saturday, September 13, 2008


Good evening friends!

Its been raining like crazy. Yesterday we had 5 inches, its been raining for most of the day today also though we had a small break around noonish. Lots of flooding and they are saying we are in for a LOT more. Record breaking amounts more.

It seems since I moved to Indiana, when the seasons change I get sick. When winter turns to spring, I usually end up with some awful respiratory infection that needs lots of antibiotics to knock it out. Fall I usually end up with some kind of horrid creeping crud. This morning, I woke up with a cold. I'm now sitting here at work, feeling feverish and quite miserable. I'm just glad work is quiet.

Stay high and dry all,


Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Day Off Tomorrow---

Good evening friends!

Another day has passed yet again. How quickly time flies. Tomorrow I actually have a day off. I won't even be on call. I'm weighing my options here.

So far my options consist of:
  • Slacking off and vegetating mostly with a few light chores like cleaning animal cages, dishes and laundry, around the house.


  • All chores--outside and in, weeding, turning the compost, getting mulch and mulching flower beds, picking veggies, ripping out old plants, deadheading, grocery shopping, baking bread and cooking up pumpkins to freeze and bake with.


  • Staying in bed all day in my jammies and doing nothing (which sounds really good right now since I've been run into the ground everyday this week)....this option, no matter how wonderful it sounds, probably won't happen but a girl can dream, right?

Well, good night everyone!


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Things I do While On Call

Good evening dear friends,

There are lots of crafts I wish i could partake in but just can't tie them into my busy schedule. Things like quilting, soap making, painting, and the like but there are at least a couple things that are very portable for me to do during down time at the hospital or in the on-call room. One of those things is knitting--- which for whatever reason I prefer to do during winter, when warm fuzzy yarn doesn't over heat, and the other is cross-stitch embroidery which can make down time fly. I actually think I'm getting pretty good at it, so I'm tooting my own horn here. It's a relatively inexpensive hobby as hobbies go (much less expensive then my other great loves of travel, backpacking, and gardening) and like I said, Its pretty portable.

Hydrangea is my latest finished project--- though really it isn't "finished" yet as I need to wash and press it then decide what I want to do with the piece. I'm debating whether to make it into a pillow for the couch or a wall hanging. If I make it into a pillow I wouldn't be able to display it since Brandi dog loves to fling pillows around the house. It wouldn't stay nice for very long that way I'm afraid. I guess I could use it as a wall hanging for now then someday I can use it as a pillow once the dog grows out of that kind of behavior.

I just liked the piece, which I saw in a magazine. I thought it was very cheerful and colorful.

Speaking of colorful I've been pondering what I want to do with the garden next year. I'm thinking to have a bit of fun and experimentation. Why stick with just a yellow theme for the flowers next year when I could also have a yellow themed veggie garden too? I looked at my favorite seed source on line and chose out varieties that were yellow to order. Did you know they even have yellow radishes and yellow beets and a watermelon with a yellow rind but red inside? I didn't know that. I think it would be very fun to try these things. Incidentally, the yellow watermelon takes less then half as long to ripen as the stars and moon, which still hasn't ripened here and I'm guessing won't before frost. So I guess I'll never get to taste that famous old fashioned watermelon in this zone--what a waste!

Have pleasant dreams tonight,


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Jacket Weather

Good Evening Friends!

It was very chilly this morning. So chilly that the garden impatiens were sulking, with droopy leaves. They are dragging their feet to the inevitable end of their life though I am sure they perked up later during the day when the chill lessened. I even had to wear a jacket.

Yesterday's rainfall amounted to just under 2" according to my rain gauge this morning. The Buckwheat is loving all that rain. Its growing nice and thick...maybe too thick? I wasn't sure how thick to plant the seeds, as the dog ate the directions. I'm sure it won't be a problem though as buckwheat can't take frost at all. It's days are numbered.

I saw in the paper today that a local plant club is hosting a perennial exchange next Monday. Great! I can take the extra roses, peppermint, irises and lilies and exchange for new plants. This way I won't have to hold them over the winter. Just what I needed! Things work out well sometimes.

Have a good night all-


Monday, September 8, 2008

Turning of the Seasons

Good evening friends,

I know I haven't typed anything for a while but believe me, I've been thinking of all kinds of things I could be adding here. Working for surgery sometimes I may disappear into the dark abyss for a while. Surgery pretty much OWNS me. Such is the price of learning....They beep, I hop. It seems most of my waking hours are spent at the hospital these days, especially now that I'm picking up on call time. The couple days I've had off these past couple of very busy weeks, I've spent vegetating and resting up because by the end of my long shifts---on my feet the whole time, I am exhausted. My legs and feet are tired, and then I wake a million times at night wondering if the pager is going off. When it does, I have to leap out of bed, throw on scrubs, and get there fast. I had Saturday off, and it felt strange to wear street clothes. I felt almost naked without my scrubs. I have to constantly remind myself that I like my job when the halls of the hospital seem endless.

It's when I'm tired I begin to wonder how I even ended up working in this environment. It's strange really. I'm a Forestry Science major, with an art degree also. If I had known how much I would like working for surgery, I would of skipped all the rest and headed strait for Surgery. Truly strange how the seasons of one's life changes.

Speaking of changing seasons, Fall is blasting in. It's shoving summer aside very rudely. I'm not sure I'm ready for it at all. I thought perhaps it would ease into fall, but not this year. Seemingly over night the trees have started changing. Golden Rod and Snake Root are changing the nature of open fields. Weeds are yellowing in those same open spaces. Trees look tired. And rain. we've had lots of rain. First we had a day long rain that gave us 3.5 inches (according to my rain gauge in the garden) the other day, I think that was Friday. Today its gotten down right chilled, and lots more rain. It's been in the 50's since about 2 pm or so. When I get off work tonight, I'm likely going to freeze since I didn't bring a jacket.

The Buckwheat I planted is loving the rain. It's very green and healthy looking but with the dropping temperature, I'm wondering if I planted it too late. Its only a few inches tall. I also worry about other things in the garden--the watermelons still haven't ripened. They are just sitting there. Not growing, not ripening, not doing anything but existing. I'm sure the bulbs I planted on my day off in Sasha's memorial garden are also enjoying the rain. I planted yellow tulips, yellow and orange cupped daffodils, and mixed crocus (I wanted yellow ones as my theme will be Yellow next year in the garden but all the store had were mixed colors.) Planting bulbs is about the only gardening I've done since I last posted.

My busy schedule is showing with my poor neglected animals. The poor bunnies need a good grooming. Especially the dutch bunny, who is shedding like mad and looks dreadful. I combed gobs of loose fur from her this morning. It's Brandi though, who is showing the most signs of missing me. When Brandi gets lonely, she gets destructive. She likes to tear things up and drag things around the house. When she's missing me, she gets into the dirty hamper and drags out clothes with my scent on them. Usually that's dirty socks. The other day, she'd dragged out some scrubs from the hamper to lay on them in the living room. I found another dirty scrub top on the bed. Silly dog. Her latest 'trick' is to open the refrigerator. This is trouble. When she's learned something once and been rewarded (in this case she learned there are lots of yummies in the fridge) then she remembers it and keeps doing it. The other night I came home to pieces and containers all over the floor--refrigerator door wide open. Uh oh. This one, is way too smart for her own good. This one, learned how to let herself out of the crate a while back. Now how many dogs do you know can figure that out? Perhaps I can teach her now to fetch a beer for me since she knows how to open the fridge?...There has to be a silver lining in this somewhere!

Anyway, that's it for now...I've lingered far too long on the computer. I have to get hopping.

Have a good night all!


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sleepless in Indiana

Good evening friends,

I did absolutely NOTHING at home today. I slept in...well kind of. I think I may have to go to the dreaded Dr. one of these days. I HATE going to the doctor. First you have to sit in a waiting room and fill out forms, then you wait some, then they call you to the back, make you stand on a scary looking scale, and take you to some claustrophobic little room where you wait some more on a silly paper covered table thingy. Then come the tests, the needles and if its not to bad, money eating prescriptions and a doctors note forbidding you from going to work for a week. If it's bad, like it usually is, I end up with a pain scale of 10, screaming until the dalodid can take affect where they whisk you off to surgery or a tiny little room for two weeks to either die or live, only to start receiving hospital bills for $50,000 a few days later. Yeah...things like that makes you NEVER want to set foot in a doctors office again.

But here's the deal. I CAN'T SLEEP. Oh, I am so tired every night that I go directly to bed after I get home for work. I can fall asleep instantly. I can fall asleep anywhere. On a rock, even. It's staying asleep that's the problem. You see for a few years now I've had this strange tingling numbness in my left and on. But the past few months its now in both hands and getting worse! When ever I go to sleep, the hands start tingling (like your foot does If you've sat cross legged too long on the floor) anyway, it gets so bad, it wakes me up all the time. I wake up, have to move my arms around and go back to sleep...over and over and over all night long. The last couple of nights, the hands have actually been so asleep they hurt and I couldn't move them for a few moments. It's been WEEKS since I've gotten any solid sleep. I'm feeling so strung out...

Mike says I need to go to the doctor. I'm not really sure they could do anything about this though, and usually I like to see if things will get better on their own. But I have a feeling this is not going away anytime soon.

I sure miss sleep....

I didn't intend to post this but I guess I needed to vent. Tomorrow I have a day off from work so I will have plenty of garden-y stuff to post then I'm sure.

Good night, sweet dreams.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Our Daily Bread

Good Morning Friends,

Another gorgeous cool morning here in Corn and Soybean land. The perfect kind of morning for long walks in the woods if one was inclined to. No walking for me today though, as I am very tired! Yesterday at work was crazy. I even had to work some over time and my boss HATES giving out over time. I expect another busy day today and so I am resting up and working on some sewing instead of working in the garden. It's only Tuesday and I have a long week ahead--too soon to be so worn out.

Yesterday before work I found a bread machine at the thrift shop. $5. It seems to work when I plug it in and play with the buttons. I printed a manual from the Internet. They did not have that particular model on-line as the company who made it, Regal Ware, no longer makes or repairs bread machines. But that's OK, so long as I have the general idea how to use it I can experiment. This will be my first time making bread in a machine-- I've always hand made bread. However, I rarely do make bread because of my busy life so I always end up buying the grocery store bread. With a machine, I can set a timer before I go to bed at night and have fresh bread for my homemade strawberry jam in the morning when I wake up. How sweet is that?

Have a good day!


Monday, August 25, 2008

Perfect Morning

Good Morning Friends!

It's simply too beautiful out to put into words correctly. Its sunny and cool--the perfect weather for working in the garden. Too bad I have nothing much to do this morning. :) I planted some Spinach seed in an empty spot between the bush cucumbers and the tomatoes, just a couple short rows. It's "Giant Noble" which bolted way too quickly in the spring as soon as it started to get any decent size on. maybe it will do better as a fall crop then a spring crop. In any case, the seeds were 10 cents a packet so I won't be crying much if they don't do well and the rabbits don't mind one bit if the spinach has bolted or not. I prefer Bloomington Longstanding, which lasts forever in the garden, spring or fall but i ran out of seed this spring and couldn't find any locally and bought these cheep seeds instead.

Though its really nice outside, I don't want to laze around. I think I'll get some sewing done instead.

Have a good day!


Sunday, August 24, 2008


Good Morning Friends!

Its a beautiful morning outside today. In fact, its the perfect kind of morning for lounging around outside watching chickens, kittens, rabbits and birds with your caffinated beverage of choice. It's sunny and 70 with a breeze. But I told myself I would finish the left half of the vegetable garden today and get the buckwheat planted. I could tell when I was digging this morning and turning the soil over, where I had amended last year as apposed to the new area this year. HUGE difference. Still clay but dark brown, moister, filled with organic matter to make it lighter in texture and easier to turn. I'm still stunned at how well the corn did in the not amended side with little rain or water and no fertilizer either this year. I will have to remember the variety-- kandy Korn i think. It isn't too picky! I don't know, it could be the soil too, after all, my broccoli gets huge without fertilizers in the unamended clay too and I KNOW those are heavy feeders.
Anyway, I got that part finished and got out my big bag of buckwheat seed (there are a few peas and mung and alfalfa seeds mixed in there thinks to our old dog getting into the seeds and spilling them onto the floor) The directions on the bag said to broadcast the seeds and lightly rake in, but not how much per foot to broadcast so I took handfuls and threw them all around. I probably planted way too many but its short term anyway as if we get an early frost they will be goners and I intend to cut them down before they go to seed as green mulch before frost anyway.

A few things to note, The strawberries grew bonkers this year but the fruits are sour---I think they did not get enough sunlight so I will move them next spring. I think I'd prefer them in a strait row anyway so I can control the runners more carefully. I need to move a few flowering plants to the shadier garden on the north side of the house-- the bleeding heart that is in with the strawberries now, *don't ask*, and the hardy geraniums that are in the south flower bed. they do OK where they are but the get sun burnt and ugly in the heat.

Yesterday I collected a whole bunch of daylily seeds from the stella d' oro's I planted along the street last year. I think I'll offer up those for barter or pay this winter with some other things. Daylilies are surprisingly easy to grow from seed. My not yet year old plants I started in the winter last year are doing great. They are knee high and loving their new garden spot.

Today's Harvest was:
  • 1 really big red tomato (I think it was called Supersteak)
  • 39 cherry tomatoes

Enjoy your day!


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Looking for ways...

Hello again friends (for the second time today!)

I am squeaky clean free of the garden dust that had covered me from toe to head now and it feels just too good. As I was showering I was trying to think of other ways I could maybe make some $$ or even barter for new things I don't have or need for things that I do.

It occurred to me that maybe some folks would like to buy or barter for my seeds and plants through the mail? I would much rather do things in person one on one (without all the postage!) but I guess I shouldn't rule it out either.

So I was wondering if anyone would be willing if I collected them to trade or buy if I offered some seeds? I don't have much right now but I could go gather some. Right now in the garden i have Yellow Scabiosa (see scanned image at top), various sunflowers--light yellow multi branching (my favorites!)and yellow with red multi branching. I also have grandpa otts morning glories going to seed and I can collect "white wonder" tomato seeds also (I was going to do that anyway for my own self but will ferment more if there is interest.) I am sure I can collect more kinds then just those.

So let me know if you like this idea and I will run out to collect seeds.

Well, That reall is all for today!

Take care,


Kittens and Plants

Good Afternoon Friends,

Today's Harvest:
  • 1 cucumber
  • 3 past tomatoes (not counting the ones the chickens helped themselves to)
  • 22 pumpkins
I am late for my normal morning post today because I have been busy working furiously outside! I am having a small plant sale which isn't going good and a kitten give-a-way. I advertised, put a notice on Craigslist, and put signs up but nobody comes down this dead end road ever who doesn't live here. All morning I only had one customer, who bought a peppermint plant but she really didn't come for the plants, she came to pick out a kitten. She chose out the black and white tuxedo kitten and promptly named him Oscar. I knew that kitten would be easy to home, he has such a nice personality and is as cute as a button. There are 3 kittens left now, all little girls, all tabbies.

In the garden, I cut down all the corn stalks and piled them up near the compost. Then I harvested all the pumpkins and the 3 mystery squash mutts too. I added the vines to the pile just to get them out of my way. I'll likely not fit them into the compost, they have too much powdery mildew on them. Then I began to dig up the garden area, it was dry and dusty and a little difficult to turn the earth and dig out the corn roots but I want to get it done this weekend so that I can plant a cover crop and try to start improving the soil on that side. It looks bare and empty now, with only the sunflowers still on the end. meanwhile, the chickens were dust bathing and having a blast today. That's the first time I've actually seen them dust bathe. They were both competing for the same spot even though they have the entire garden full of dust!

I think I'll move my sale table under cover of my porch now as I have indoor chores to do now--like cleaning my sewing room that I finally have back from the kittens! Boy were they getting into everything and making a mess. If anyone stops by, I'll leave an honesty jar outside for them if they don't want to knock on the door.

Have a great rest of the day!


Friday, August 22, 2008

Chassed In By Rain

Good morning friends!

We are getting a nice hard rain this morning. I kept hearing the thunder in the distance and was enjoying the warm humid morning until the rain chased the hens and I under cover. But that's OK, we need the rain and it will hopefully be enough to make working in the dirt easier this weekend. Clay...hard as a rock clay.....

I got up nice and early this morning ready to get out and get hopping on the garden today. There really isn't a whole lot to do but a bit of puttering around like trimming the mint before it goes to seed, doing a bit of light weeding so I can re-mulch one bed this weekend and chopping up some things for the compost pile--mainly some corn stalks which would take forever and a day to decompose if you don't chop em up into small pieces. You would think that a grass on steroids would seriously heat up the compost like a bag of grass clippings does. It doesn't so I need to throw in some chicken turds this weekend to get it cooking. Part of me cringed at wasting such pretty corn stalks, after all the local shops sell bundles of them for fall decorations near Halloween. But it's not near Halloween yet and I don't want to store them as my space is very limited and even if I were to use them as decoration like last year, i don't expect them to last thanks to the deer who destroyed my fall display last year.

I keep starring at the small pumpkins scattered all throughout the corn patch hoping that with every blink of the eye that they get orangier. I really want to get those ugly vines out of there before all those squash bugs hatch. Some already are hatching. Did you know those suckers bite? I found that out this morning. And speaking of getting ripe, I realized today as I checked out my watermelon that I have no idea how to tell if one is ripe yet!

My finicky and somewhat spoiled rotten hens turned their noses up at cantaloupe slices this morning. But the rabbits didn't. They chowed right down. The buck is a pig. He'll eat anything without hesitation and if I don't measure his feed out everyday he would be too fat. He goes through a lot of feed. I've noticed that rexs are like that. The doe is much more hesitant about eating new things, even though I've fed her new things since she was a baby! She doesn't eat a lot and one dish of food lasts her days if I were to give her the same amount the other eats in a couple of hours time. My co-workers were going to throw out this perfectly good fruit from the office fridge last night....I thought of a much better use for it! I took it home and they shook their heads at me, the office weirdo. At least the hens don't turn up their beaks to elderberries. I have a couple of year old plants that bore some fruit, not enough for me to do anything with so I gave them to the chickens who sure love them. Word of warning though, don't stand too close--those suckers squirt!

This weekend I think i will do a plant sale, and offer up my kittens for free as well. They will be 7 weeks old and they are going through so much litter and chow. I need to find them homes this weekend! I found a home for one this week Monday, with some co-workers of my husband in the city. The big fuzzy fluffy laid back kitten. I also need to find homes for all the peppermint seedlings, rugosa rose seedlings, and red lily bulbs that are threatening to take over everything so that I won't have to trench them in for the winter. This particular dark red Asiatic lily increases itself like mad and it really needs to be divided and re-homed and since the almanac is predicting a cold hard winter, I doubt things in pots have a chance at survival if I don't bury them deep in the ground.

Other things I will need to do before winter arrives will be to fix up a place in the shed for the rabbits and chickens. last year I had one rabbit and she stayed inside the house until spring. That isn't going to work now that we have Brandi, who likes to kill rabbits--plus, they are very messy! And there is no way the chickens could stay inside either. I'll have to clean and organize the shed to fit them in, and add lights and maybe heat lamps for the really cold days. I could put the lights on a timer in case it snows so bad I can't get out to the shed in a timely manner but if its very cold we usually have very little snow so that shouldn't be so much of a problem. Snow likes to drift 4 feet high or more sometimes in front of the shed door! I also need to get some kind of protective tree wrap for my young trees or chicken wire to put around them, whatever is cheaper. The chicken wire helps my hawthorn and other small seedlings keep from getting chowed down, so it should work for tree trunks and blueberry bushes. I need to get a supply of hay or straw for animal bedding during the winter and for mulching more tender things like the cranberry, and some burlap for my not-as-hardy-as-it-was-advertised rose bush which luckily came back from the ground after last winter. Thats enough typing for now.

Hope all is well,


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Poison Day

Dear Friends,

This morning I am glad I had been out bright and early, for If I hadn't been, who knows what atrocities may have happened?

I stood outside to guard my garden and livestock with spade and shovel in hand, dirty kneed from garden work, standing defensively with a look of determination and a bit of terror on my face. I planted my feet firmly in the way. "No herbicide here needed!" I exclaimed to the balding, pale, thin man in the golf-cart like vehicle with the big tank full of poison that had been going up and down the streets spraying the asphalt cracks. "Look, no need, there's no weeds in the cracks here!" He backed down...moved on and continued spraying recklessly in front of my neighbors, whether there were weeds in the cracks or not. He was very wise not to mess with the fed up crazy woman with the strange hat and garden tools. I didn't back down until I could hear his noisy little contraption going down another block to spread his poisons around.

Meanwhile, the hens found my distraction a good time to raid tomatoes while I wasn't paying attention to them. I can't fault them a few tomatoes though, they are pretty good. I shooed them from the vegetable garden and got to work on the pumpkin vines, cutting back vines which were useless with no pumpkins on them. I began cutting them up into bite sized pieces for the compost. Last year I didn't cut them up, I threw them in whole, which was a mistake as they were fibrous, stringy and took forever to break down, even with copious amounts of rabbit poop mixed in. As I was cutting, i noticed on every leaf, an army of red insect eggs. Pretty fascinating if I didn't know they were trouble. I had never seen so many squash bug eggs in my LIFE. Some batches had just hatched, confused and bewildered baby bugs still grouped together didn't know what to do as their world collapsed around them. "Here Chick chick chicks!" Henrieta feather bottom comes running, I hold out the baby bugs on a leaf platter. She tilts her funny red head one way then the other. Pecks at one of the eggs, tries it again and loses interest. Waddling back over to where her companion is working on a ruined tomato. I returned the leaf to the compost pile. I guess it will be the spiders getting fat on them instead. That's OK too, so long as somebody eats them.

Speaking of getting fat, I harvested my last cabbage today. Its a savoy cabbage with very crinkly leaves. Its amazing how big the plant got. It took up a LOT of space. Most of the outside leaves were ruined by caterpillars and grasshoppers, and next year I am going to have to do something about it. Certainly I can find an organic solution to my pest problem? I mean, other then toads...two of which I found living in the leaves of this cabbage likely getting fat off the caterpillars. I appreciate their efforts, but most of the cabbage ended up in the compost so I'm going to have to do something more.

Well, thats it for now!

Have a great day.