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!