Thursday, May 30, 2013

Love Summer, Dread Summer

Summer is coming.  I'm looking forward to it and I'm somewhat dreading it.

The pluses:

My alarm won't go off every morning to make sure that all household members (furry, feathered, and otherwise) have breakfast and are properly equipped for the day and that certain members of the household are out the door on time. Mornings have a slower pace, nice, because I've never been much of a morning person.

Organized activities are minimal, no soccer or basketball practice messing up dinner or chopping every Saturday and  Sunday neatly in half, so that we get nothing done.

I am able to spend more time with my daughter, who is good company.

The farmer's market is open, and it is warm enough to enjoy it.

My garden is in full swing, collards, kale, scallions, cilantro and strawberries are ready now with other cool things to come.

Camping, got to have at least one venture to primitive living and escape the house. When I'm away from home I don't think about the trim painting that needs to happen, or have to look at the nasty white floor in the kitchen that looks like it needs to be washed despite the fact it was just washed. (Personal rant: Who are the sick people who install white floors in homes??? We garden, some of us ride horses and we have a large dog, the floor is never clean for more than fifteen minutes.)  Cooking with wood for a week is fun and it sure makes me appreciate the microwave and the oven when I return.

The dreads:

The cats become my alarm, usually they come and sit either on my pillow, so that I breathe fur while they yowl at me or the sit on my chest and rub their noses and whiskers across my face.  They know I don't "do" cats in my face.

Organized activities are minimal, so every day my daughter tries to see what she can come up with to entertain herself, usually involving friends who live several miles away or activities that are expensive and a minimum of a half hour's drive away.  She isn't old enough to drive, so I become "chauffeur extraordinaire."  and "the mom who says, "No!."" (sometimes I get the urge to say "nee." but she wouldn't get it--she is finally of the age when she can be introduced to Monty Python, she'll get it).

Though my daughter is good company, sometimes I just want to talk to adults or just plain old don't want to talk.  That introvert thing gets in the way of parenting, that's why I have only one.

Camping, I hate the packing.  Last year, I forgot the dog food (I remembered everything else!),  but she didn't mind eating leftovers.

Sweat.  Living in humid-land, life is hot and moist and a bit smelly.


Chick update:  The girls are doing well, they are more active now and have little feathers growing in on the tips of their wings.  Since it has been hot, they have been able to go outside briefly (they are supposed to be kept between 85-90 degrees at this point), they seem to enjoy it.  They are perching on my daughter's hands, much to her delight.

Friday, May 24, 2013

New Peeps

I have been missing having chickens.  I miss their crazy antics, the silly way they walk, their ninja kicks at each other over the grubs I toss from the garden and just looking up from yard work to find a tilted head with curious eyes pondering my every move.  I also miss the eggs, though Fluffy and Zebra our long-time companions gave the bittiest eggs, they were by far the tastiest I've ever had.

With a bit of trepidation, I jump back into the poultry raising pool.  I quickly became attached to the last crew only to have all of them gone in a moment, but that is life, isn't it? Changes in a moment never to be the same again.  I still feel a bit of guilt over the last bunch, but it is time to move on and try again.

So, meet the new peeps with names chosen by my bibliophile daughter:

Athena, (Buff Orpington) the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, just warfare, mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill. Thus far, I can tell she naps well.


Lucy (Buff Orpington)  named after the youngest child in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.


Ursula, (Australorp), not sure where she came up with this one, I don't think it was The Little Mermaid and she hadn't remembered that it is her Nonna's middle name.
and Paisley, I named a piggy bank (only because she said it required a name) that my daughter gave me as a gift, Paisley, because of the pattern on its back. I seem to remember a character in a movie somewhere with that name.  Anyway, she seems to like the name and has bestowed it on a bitty barred rock chick.

The yellow chicks seem to already understand how to pose, I just plopped them down, they looked cute and I snapped the pictures.  The black ones turned their backs and had to be re-oriented repeatedly to get a sort-of-okay shot.

These girls already have the beginnings of pin feathers on the tips of their wings, their cute as a button fluffy look won't be around next week.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Gardening Breather

Japanese Maple
It is dumping rain outside, so I have put aside my efforts to get my garden in for the day.  I've made so many trips to the horse farm that I have lost count.  The slippery clay soil in my back garden has taken on a darker, more organic hue.  I am incorporating 8 inches of manure into the top 8 inches of soil and then the following year I am top dressing with even more manure, I started this process on a small part of the garden last year, but I didn't have a good source of manure.  The garden beds end up being raised. The paths are mulched with straw and as soon as the soil heats up a bit more (it has been a cool spring) the beds will be also.

Back garden, Egyptian onions, Kale, Collards, Cabbage, Strawberries and Potatoes.

First Strawberry of the season.

Last year, I mulched the paths and never quite got around to doing the beds, I was a bit distracted with other projects that came up with the new house, like painting most of the interior, including the forty year old kitchen cabinets.  When I emerged from my projects to get back to the garden, the weeds had won.  At that point, I would go out to weed for and hour or so and there would be a small cleared area in the jungle, by July 4th I had pretty much given up and was a bit embarrassed when the BBQ guests asked to see my vegetable garden.  Food production was very low.(photos taken this morning between downpours)

This year, I have been making an effort to spend an hour, if not two on the gardens each morning, some of that time is spent hauling manure and some of that is spend picking out those weeds while they are still tiny.  For the new front garden, I am using the lasagna method, laying layers of cardboard for  weed suppression and layers of organic matter on top.  I planted it with squash and cucumbers and within 24 hours the squirrels had unplanted it.  I replanted the plants and most of them survived, but I lost a few Armenian cucumbers.  I am currently extending it bit by bit, so that I can plant pumpkins and watermelons.  I still need to build a trellis for the cukes and small pie pumpkins...
The fig's first leaves!

On the chicken front, I called the feed store to confirm that the Buff Orpington chicks would be in on Friday and the gentleman told me that in  a couple of weeks four different breeds were due in and he had no knowledge of Buff Orpingtons, even though he was the same person who told me about them in the first place.  The store manager called me back, right as I was typing this line, the Buffs and Barred Rocks will be in late next week and we may be able to score an Australorp in June, if not we'll get another Barred Rock.
Flower bed in front with plants imported from MA last year.