Friday, May 22, 2009

Morning Smells

The first thing I smelled this morning on my way out to do chores was the rain. What? You can't smell rain? I can, I guess that makes me superhuman or something. I can live with that. I smelled the rain, and after two days of 850 degrees the cooler weather and smell of rain was a nice change.

Then I smelled the lilacs, relaxing, mesmerizing, sweet lilac smell. Love it. They're pretty too, don't get me wrong, but the smell is why I keep them around.

Then I smelled the skunk. Much preferred the lilacs, and even the rain, but there it was, sneaking it's way through the air like a snake. A very fragrant snake. And not in a good way.

In the country there are lots of smells you just take for granted. When they fertilize the corn fields, when hay is cut, the smell of rain (it's a superhuman thing, what can I say), pine trees when the air is damp and heavy..... stuff like that. And skunks. And road kill. And the only thing worse than smelling skunk is smelling a dead skunk, which is the equivalent of live skunk plus road kill. And if it's close enough it actually smells like hot tar. Makes you appreciate the better smells, like the fertilizing of the fields.


Since two days of 850 degrees and being superhuman and all pretty much took me out (headache, nauseous, I know it's spelled wrong, but it's ok, I'm good in lots of other ways, and generally just worn all out) nothing got done last night. Hubby even felt sorry for me and took me out for dinner. So no cooking or cleaning up either. Sometimes 850 degrees can be made to work in your favor. And after returning home I collapsed into the chair and knitted and watched one of my favorite shows... House. Arrogant asshole at his best!

What did I knit? I knew you'd ask. Well, I worked on my Muskrat's sweater, and... are you sitting?.....

I. Even. Took. A. Picture!!

And here it is:

In case you're not familiar with what knitted pieces look like, the big piece is the back and the smaller is one of the fronts. There is a mistake, but I'm not going to point it out, if you can't see it chances are a 3 year old won't care either. Tonight, since my Wings will get their 3rd chance to take the Hawks down there will be significant progress on the front, may even get the left front done and a start on the right front. That's one of the fun things about knitting smallish sweaters, for smallish people, they go pretty fast.

I love the colors, pretty much just went through my stash and picked out 4 colors, just to see. Even I didn't think they'd look this cool together, but I'm happy with them.

There won't be much done in the garden tonight as it's raining (seeing and feeling rain isn't a superhuman feat, just smelling it is), so maybe I'll find some counters or floors or something inside the cabin to clean off or sweep. Maybe even a dustrag, but that's pushing it.

And maybe, just maybe the rain will take it one step further and give me the ultimate in spring weather.... a good old fashioned thunderstorm! In which all bets will be off and you'll find me sitting out on my porch (covered) knitting and listening to the storm. Good times!

And guess what??? My son, affectionately referred to as The Army Brat is now OUT OF IRAQ!!! YAY! Let the breathing re-commence~!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Whacking Rhubarb

Before you go all "O.M.G she's killing her rhubarb" on me, let me explain. I planted my rhubarb a long time ago, along an old fence line. Then I fenced in the horses, which would later turn into steers, which would then become sheep and goats, and of course the chickens,and now has become my garden area. Between the rhubarb fence line and the horse fence line, which has now become the garden fenceline, there is about 6 feet by 100 feet of weeds and raspberry canes. Doing battle with raspberry canes is not my favorite activity, and my arms now have the scratches to prove it, however, their eventual surrender of juicy little reddish berries is worth it.

But not in my rhubarb.

Since the 6 feet isn't enough room to get my tiller in, I have to hoe out the weeds by hand. Not happenin'. Sorry. Not gonna weed a strip 6' by 100' by hand (or hoe), especially since it's riddled with crabgrass, all manner of forest undergrowth and raspberry canes. I'm just not that adventurous.

But neither do I really like to use gas powered appliances, since they use gas and all, but in this case, the gas powered weed whacker won. Well, technically I won, since I had to do 7 different rain dances to get this thing started, eventually I did and the rhubarb was sucessfully whacked. No, let me rephrase..... the weeds surrounding the rhubarb were whacked, and all but one or two rhubarb leaves survived. This is a good thing and it looks a lot nicer than a weed and mosquito infested patch in which to wander around lost in until you happen to run into the rhubarb.

So, the rhubarb doesn't care if it's weedy, but I do, so I whacked. And won! And Murphy (of murphy's law) didn't show his face once!

Radishes are coming up, so far no show on the spinach and carrots, and one potato plant has emerged through the hill to peek up into the sun.
Tonight maybe I'll get some lettuces planted, my designer lettuce collection depends on this, after all!

I'm still working on the multicolored cardigan for the muskrat (3 y/o granddaughter). One of these days I'll take a picture of it, the back is done as is 1/2 of one front. Tonight probably won't see much knitting, being as how I'll be playing with my designer lettuce collection, but tomorrow night there is another hockey game, so a lot of knitting will happen.

Go Wings! Pluck them Hawks!! (pay no attention to the grammer, it sounded better than "pluck those hawks"!)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Murphy Conspires With The Strawberries.

I'm sure you're hanging on with every thread of your being waiting to hear about my strawberries. You know, the stone wall I built to contain them, and the crowns that I planted, that never came up, and then the garlic that I planted there because the strawberries never came up and something had to go there?

Up to speed now? Ok. So Saturday, hubby says...."let's go for a drive". Never one to shirk off a possible adventure, we hopped into the truck and headed off for points unknown. Actually, we had a known point, but because I've been on his little adventures before, whether or not we would actually get there remained to be seen (we did..... eventually...)

Stop one... to see my muskrat (or monkey as she's also called. Some would also call her my almost 3 year old granddaughter). This was fun, they moved out (her and her mother) close to a month ago and I hadn't seen her since. While we were there, I noticed blueberry bushes by the tra-zillion, so we had to stop and dig up some of those.
Stop two... a fruit stand on the side of the road that had........STRAWBERRIES!!!!! Plants, not just crowns, where there was actual greenage visible! So of course we had to get some of those.
Stop three....lunch.... after this and a few yard sales it gets routine, so we'll just end there.

Strawberries plants people! Lots of them! On Sale!!! Enough to fill up the stone hedge (that is now planted with garlic and chives and a few beet and spinach seeds thrown in for good measure) and more!
Strawberries, the ones I've wanted for so long! Finally I have them. I paid for them and hauled them out to the truck as I heard a faint chuckle in the background. Dismissed.
Got in the truck and headed off to the next unknown stop and heard that chuckle again. What the heck?? Oh yeah, it was Murphy, for sure. The infamous Murphy who conspires to throw obstacles in my path just to watch me trip over them.
"Where are you going to put the strawberries?", he taunts?
"You already planted the stone hedge, you can't put them there".
"You'll have to find another spot"... he continued. This went on and on until he was laughing so hard he couldn't say another word.
So I'll show him! I planted those strawberries in with my garlic, and chives and beet and spinach seeds thrown in for good measure. And next year, at this time you can all read my bestselling book: Strawberries, garlic, chives and Murphy! Just to see how it all turned out!

Oh, and a special shoutout to my cousin. She's a California gal. She's a Sharks fan (as in not a Red Wings fan). I'll just leave you to digest that for a minute.

Yeah, I know, and I'm sorry, I had little to do with her upbringing.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Financial Decisions

Our farm is not a money maker, it will most likely never support itself, let alone us, but it's my hobby, my passion and it's just what I want to do.
However, that doesn't mean that we stop looking for ways to make it pay better. We scrounge and rearrange, we save "stuff" and collect "stuff" for future use and try to have fun doing it.

The latest "rearrangment" involves all of my chickens (there are somewhere close to 60 of them). I want them penned up, this protects them from critters, keeps them out of my gardens and keeps the chicken crap off of my porch and patio. I do not like chicken crap on my patio. I'm a barefoot kind of gal, always have been, always will be. I don't care if I walk around barefoot in the lawn, I know there is "residue" there, but choose to ignore it, besides, it beats shoes any day!

When the chickens are loose, it's obvious, and it's yucky, and yes, even for me, gross. Where in the world is the financial decision involving my chickens hidden in all of this?

When I keep my chickens penned up, I am happy, I know they're safe and I can walk barefoot all summer long. However, it costs at least 20-30 bucks a week to feed them. Hmmmm.

If I pen in the garden rather than the chickens, they will stay out of the garden, and basically feed themselves. They're already trained (as much as you can train a chicken) to go into the coop at night, so I can shut the door and keep the critters out that way. Then in the morning I can let them out, and let them eat bugs, weeds (not tomatoes, thank you very much - those are mine!) and be actually healthier in the long run. And yardbird beats penned up bird in taste any day of the week.

The pros for letting the chickens run loose seems to outweigh the cons, there is however one fairly large project first. To pen up the garden. Yes, I'm sure we have enough fencing (remember the note about scrounging....), so this weekend, set poles, string fence and build a gate and then let the chix out. It will be better for them, and I'll either learn to wear shoes, or learn to not care about what I step in. And I really, really, really don't like shoes.
But free range it shall be!

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Outside version of chicken condo (the adolescent cage) assembled. check!
Baby stinkies, I mean baby chix moved outside. check!
asparagus weeded. check!
onions weeded. check!
beets planted. check!
spinach planted. check!
radishes planted. check!
3 loads of laundry done and hung out. check!

pictures taken of all the above. uncheck!

Busy day, and all in 1/2 day! Started raining shortly after lunch, so the rest of the day I stayed in and played with my seeds. (my laundry, if it ever dries, will smell soooooo good!)

Thunderstorm last night, power in and out. this isn't good. normally power out doesn't really affect us, however when we have baby stinkies, I mean baby birdies that need heat, it's not good to have the heat lamps go out. So the first night they're outside they're subjected to a good old fashioned thunderstorm. Only lost one, I think he/she got squished when they all huddled together.
That sounds glib. It's not meant to be. Even though these birds are destined for the table, it's still heartbreaking when a baby dies. They depend on me to keep them healthy and alive and this one got let down, it's not taken lightly. And it's not even from the financial aspect of losing eggs or meat... it's just the fact that one of my babies has died. It hurts.
But life on the farm moves on, it's not the first loss, it would be great if it were the last, but I know better.

Enough of that! tonight, the rhubarb needs to be weeded. Whether or not that gets done depends on how much happens between that and Game 7!

Go Wings!!! Drown them ducks!!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Some Of My Critters

This post has lots of pics, sorry dial-up readers!

This is Dr. Pepper and Mr Salty. Yes, even though we raise these boys to eat, they still have names and still get lots of hugs and cuddles.

Barn Kitties (4 sisters - by next year I should have about 29 cats!) looking down out of the hay loft.
My horses, Mike McMustang and Sierra's Mercedes Benz. They look a bit rough in the spring, before they get their winter coats all combed out. They are both mustangs, both branded. Mike was captured in California and Sierra, in Wyoming.

My baby chicks are going outside TONIGHT!!! they are getting a bit stinky! Also on tap for tonight, get beets planted, then if I have time, carrots and spinach too.
Last night I dug up all of the strawberry crowns that didn't grow and used that space for my garlic and chives. I might put some radishes in there too. Rather have strawberries, but oh well!
Yeah, and about the lawn, if I don't get after that, might need to break out the haybine!
We plowed up 1/2 of our 1st hayfield last night. It's getting too weedy and doesn't produce, so tentative plan is to seed corn for a year, then put in a pasture mix. So far the tractors are not acting up. This is huge (and unusual) and now that I've said that...... aye!

Monday, May 4, 2009

In Which A Trip To TSC.....

just gets out of hand! Went to the local Tractor Supply store (my favorite store in the whole wide world!) and what did I find? Baby chix! On sale. As in clearanced out! And no more coming in! So I did what any sane, logical, demented farmer would do, I bought a bunch of them! See! Aren't they cute?
So, 47 new babies have arrived! and were housed in my bathtub, something hubby's not real fond of, but what was I supposed to do? They had to be contained, and they had to be somewhere that was waterproof, washable and I could put heat lights on them.
Below, is an example of the elaborate Chicken Condo's that I've built. My architech brother would be rolling in his grave, or maybe just laughing so hard.... never mind....
Anyway, enter the Chicken Condo. Several rooms, some with food, some with water, and 2 with heat lamps. This all lives on a tarp in our guest room until they are feathered out and it gets a bit warmer outside, then they go to the adolescent cage. There was a time I used to keep them in the barn in lights, but they got drafty anyway, so for a few weeks, they live inside.

That wasn't the only fun we had this weekend. After our momentous trip to Tractor Supply, we decided to stop by Walmart and what did we find? Come on, think about it, what sits outside of Walmart on the weekends, attended by cute little blondes in a box marked "free......". Yup. Kittens! They are so cute. 3 of them are identical, I've named them Inky, Stinky, Blinky and the other Chuck because well, she's not identical. So 4 barn kittens have come to call our zoo home. They have so much fun up in the hayloft, climbing in the hay, hiding between bales, waiting for the slightest breezes to stir up the loose strands of hay, pouncing on each other, and that's not even counting how much fun there is to be had up in the eaves. A Disneyland for kittens! That's what a hayloft is. Especially since there isn't a Mother to tell them "No"!

I didn't get ANY gardening done this weekend, the weather was beautiful, but circumstances beyond my control kept me away. I've decided to start the rest of my seeds using the paper towel method. So far the only seeds that aren't responding to this treatment are the parsley, but they take a long time to germinate anyway. I direct seeded (into pots) tomatoes, peppers, and some flowers, but being away from home and not able to tend them didn't work out so well for them. So, paper towels it is! And, because I don't buy stuff like that, I use extras that we always get when we go to places like Dairy Queen and McDonalds. That experiment will play out over the next few weeks. Tonight, maybe, just maybe I can get part of the garden tilled. My onions are doing GREAT!! My asparagus is peeking up and my strawberries NADA! I'll give them a few more weeks, then take the roots back and get a refund. Seems like I should see some green within this time!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Is It Spring Yet?

Let's take a wander around the old garden shall we? The rhubarb is coming up, no this isn't a picture of my rhubarb, my camera got left in the house this morning. Still have to dig some of that for my Dad who wants some in his garden.
I've planted my strawberries in the stone ledge border I built around the pool, they also don't look quite like the picture, actually, I'm not at all sure they're alive.
Asparagus has been planted as well. Oh, and onions. Onions are important.
Garlic is ready to go in too, although normally a fall crop, someone didn't get off their behind long enough to get it planted in the fall, so spring it will be. Started it in the house probably in January or so, not too much longer, actually the tops are starting to die back already.
My Tiger Lilies are popping up all over as is all of the mint that seems to find it's way around the place.
Started in pots are Hollyhocks (I know, they'll grow anywhere, anytime, but I wanted to make sure I got a good bunch of plants before I put them out for the rabbits to munch on - gotta feed those rabbits ya know!)
Also started are tomatoes (3 dif. kinds of regular tomatoes and 2 different strains of heirloom) as well as peppers, hot and regular.
As soon as hubby gets the garden rototilled for me (or Sunday afternoon, whichever comes first) I'll put in some radishes, carrots and spinach and beets maybe. Don't know about beets, have to check on those, but definitely the first three.
One of these nights when it's nice enough, I'm gonna grab hubby and go tooling around the countryside and woods, looking for blueberry plants to transplant. Tried to grow some from seed, but no go.
One of the next big projects in the barn related area of the homestead is to Clean. Out. The. Barn. This spring has been very busy with work and other stuff, and that just hasn't gotten done yet. If I could get hubby to get the dozer outta there, it would help. Then I have to build a wood rack (actually just reinforce it as I've already built it) and start piling all of our scrap wood up there, off the floor. The next task would be to corrall all of the binder twine, actually, this is valuable stuff. But scattered all over the floor, not so much.
In the knitting room, I'm still working on granddaughter #1's sweater. Purpley heathery Lithuanian Birds and Blooms design, and I do need to get a picture of that.
Here's the reason for a recent er, um, stash addition!
So, daugher #1 calls and says, “Go to this yardsale. They have TONS of yarn”, she says. “More yarn than I’ve ever seen in one place, ever!” She recants. “It’s your heaven”, she teases, “your own personal paradise”, she continues.. yadda, yadda, yadda….So, being the dutiful mother that I am, I went. Seriously, this woman had a problem. She needed to start her own Yarn-a-holic 12 step program. She had yarn. LOTS of it. Yes, TONS! of good stuff! Mohair, cashmere, alpaca, wool, actually very little acrylic. She had skeins and balls and cones. She had needles, and lace wires. Stitch and row counters were coming out of boxes. Patterns, books and leaflets jumped as I walked by. But she doesn’t have alot of this stuff anymore. Bet you can guess why! Because now I have a yarn problem. 8 (yes, count them - 8!) lawn and leaf bags later I’m now looking into 12 step program requirements for myself.
Part of my New Years Resolution was to knit from my stash and not buy any more new yarn. There’s a loophole here, can you spot it? Yup! New! This yarn was not New, so it didn’t count!
I wonder if justifying addictions is addressed in the 12 step programs?
Moral of this story? Sorry, got nothin’ for ya. But yard sales, garage sales and auctions rock for possible stash enhancement!

So, now that I've fessed up about my recent purchase, I better go. Got a few minutes before I leave for work and that means I have a few minutes to pet and drool, I mean to admire my recent aquisitions!