Sunday, April 30, 2017

Our Weekend Saw...

Right now, I'm loving a weekend that saw...

...a warm, humid Friday afternoon spent watching the peeps, hunting bugs, and giving them their first treat- oatmeal for the win!
...burgers on the grill, thunder in the distance, and three chapters of our new story time book 'Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.'
...early breakfast-making with my girl (from her own cookbook, 95% made by her), some work around the house, and naps for everyone under the heavy grey skies of a cold front.
...BLTs, chocolate cookies, more thunder with no rain, and finally a temperature drop of over 20 degrees in less than an hour.
...a good movie with my guy after the kids went to bed and an extra blanket over our summer sheets when we were all tucked in.
...Sunday morning blueberry pancakes, another appearance of fleece and hoodies, work in the garden with two great helpers (and less-than-normal arguing!), and all the grub worms we could find doled out to the peeps as fairly as possible. seeds planted, fresh grass cut, and pizzas ordered for dinner.
...lots of sand left behind in the tub after bath time, two more chapters at story time (with cries for more, such a good book so far!), and long-sleeved pajamas.

This weekend saw the last of April, the last time we'll probably need long sleeves for a loooong time, and the last of our garden seed stash tucked into our newly-amended soil. I thought it was a pretty fitting sendoff for the first full month of Spring.

Wishing everyone a sense of resolution and new beginnings as we jump on in to May!

Happy weekending!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Openin' It Up!


Queenie and her entourage

Libby leading the way, Queenie cautiously following

Libby up, Paprika down
 My peeps have been literally cooped up for the past five days, and this morning I decided to peel back the flap blocking their front door and let them down into the run. Most of them were freaked out by the new freedom and didn't have the courage to do much more than stick their heads out of the opening and look around. Paprika and Libby, however, only needed about five minutes to gather the gall to jump, followed shortly by my favorite girl, Queenie-Five-Toes.

Queenie, the dorking with five toes on each foot

I had to go back out about an hour later and help the bold adventurers remember how to get back up with their sisters (and their food and water, for now)- as it seems they couldn't remember where they were- but it was a good start. I could watch them all day, those little feather babies. How we love their shenanigans!

Libby, Paprika, and Queenie of the First Expedition

 I left the flap pinned back when I checked on them at sundown, so they'll be able to get back down again tomorrow if they so choose. I can't wait to see who takes the leap next!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Something Sweet

My kids have been so crabby lately.



This morning was more of the same, and it seems magnified because Audrey's hearing is greatly diminished (due to her ear infections over Easter weekend) so every squabble is yelled.

It was all I could do to get them out the door and over to the school on time without joining in on the yelling myself, which is just the worst way to start your day, I'm tellin' ya.

When I returned home from dropping them off and had stepped out of my car, I couldn't help but pause for a moment and look out over the field as the sunlight started breaking through the trees to filter over the tall grass and flowers... and I realized I needed a walk.

So I put on my grubby garden shoes, grabbed a vessel just in case I found something worth carting around, and started making my way through the dewy grass.

I could still see my breath from the lingering chill of the past night.

I could hear frogs croaking around the pond, and our neighbors' horses calling to each other.

And I found lots and lots of dewberries.

 Best of all, though, I let go of the frustration of the morning, the Mama guilt, and the tension I'd been holding on to from the hoorah of getting the kids out the door. I felt good about the little things again (I'd gotten both kiddos to eat breakfast, they'd left the house with clean clothes on, and I'm pretty sure they both remembered to brush their teeth, high five). I had reset.

And I had almost two quarts of dewberries for the freezer.

When the kids come back home, they'll probably find a way to pick back up where they left off. There will probably be more yelling, tattling, and whatever else they come up with. I just need to remember that there's always something sweet hidden here and there among the thorny parts of the day- I just need to take the time to slow down and look.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Right Now

Right now, I'm...

...snuffling and coughing and hating whatever has been in the air for the past week or two. I'm so over these seasonal allergies.
...planning how I'm going to put my lovely pile of rotted horse manure to work, and hoping whatever I plant from this point forward will have enough time to establish itself before it gets too hot!
...marveling at the comparison of my garden space our first spring here vs. now.
...smiling at the third or fourth "Hoppy" that was found and loved this weekend, and the plans the kids have to go back out and find him when they get home from school, build him a house, and find him "greens and bugs and things" so he'll stick around. I hope they do find him...
...feeling antsy for the sun to come up so I can go check on my feather girls, who spent their first night outside in the big girl coop!
...putting another hive inspection on my to-do list for this week. I need to get out there and make sure everyone has enough room, and I'm curious to see how that queen cell panned out in Middle Hive!
...indulging in a little look back on this day a couple years ago.
...loving that last photo from this weekend: my big boy who still conks out in the afternoon and wakes up smiley and happy, like he as since he was a baby.

Right now I'm stuck in that Spring current of energy that always makes me feel both motivated and overwhelmed, like I should be purging and creating equally, and which always makes the hours in the day seem to fly by with super speed. How thankful we are that the daylight hours are growing longer!

My we all find a way to channel that energy to our advantage this week. Happy Monday!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Weekending :: Earth Day

 This weekend we wore hoodies, drank extra coffee, scooped poop, dug in dirt, planted things, finished (finished!) the garden paths, and put the cattle panel trellises up. It felt more special than my birthday... and then we remembered that Earth Day fell on this weekend.

Yep, that'll do. This weekend was special, and we all felt it.

Wishing all a little something special from the weekend.

Happy weekending!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Spring Onion Soup

This week I've been out in my garden, assessing and revamping. I have a tentative appointment with our neighbors to go scoop and haul horse manure this weekend, and I'm trying to make room for as much of it as possible in my defunct garden beds.

Yesterday, I came to terms with the fact that my spring onions weren't going anywhere, and that their space should be one of the areas amended... so I pulled them all. To my surprise, half of them were rotting from the outside layers inward, and I discovered a new kind of slime mold (lucky me) while I was out there. I think I should stop calling it a 'garden' and start calling it a petri dish!

Anyho, I wasn't about to let these little baby onions go to waste, rotten layers or no, so I cleaned them up, peeled back all the mushiness, and came up with a plan...  

Spring Onion Soup
Makes about four appetizer-sized portions

1 lb spring onions, cleaned
1 quart good chicken stock or broth
4 TBS butter mashed with 2 TBS flour to form a paste
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup heavy cream

Place spring onions in pot and cover with stock or broth. Add bay leaf and simmer, uncovered, until onions are very soft and stock is reduced by half. Remove bay leaf and puree (be super careful, this hot stuff splatters and stuff!). Put puree back into pot and whisk in butter/flour paste. Turn heat back on to low and continue to whisk until soup thickens. Turn off heat again and slowly add in heavy cream. Whisk until incorporated, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve right away! 
(If you want a thicker soup, make more butter/flour paste a tablespoon at a time and whisk in while heat is on until it's as thick as you like.)

I garnished with crispy fried onions, and that crunch was a nice texture in the creamy soup. However, I over-seasoned and my soup ended up being too salty (sad day), so go easy on the salt- because of the thickness of the soup, the salt dissolves more slowly (vs a brothy soup), thus it will grow saltier over time (d'oh). 

So the moral of this story? Learn from my mistakes: don't take shortcuts in building garden soil, and go easy on the salt!


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

"Sick" Day

My daughter never gets sick during normal business hours. Ever.

This past Easter weekend, she stayed true to form and came down with a double ear infection. In less than 12 hours, she had two ruptured eardrums, and by Easter Sunday she started vomiting violently every 45 minutes or so for no apparent reason.

Off to the minor emergency clinic we went. Some anti-nausea meds, antibiotics, and ear drops later we were back home and realizing she wasn't going to be able to go back to school in the near future- she's practically deaf now.

So today, when Brother went to school, Sister stayed home with Mama for her first of what will probably be several "sick" days. She has no fever and her nausea is a thing of the past, but her fluid-filled, ruptured ears will effectively prevent her from participating in class until further notice.

She was so bummed... so I tried to make it a good day...

  ...and she said she had a pretty good time. I'm afraid I might have used up all my wild cards, though, and in facing down a potential week of her being home but not really feeling bad, I'm not sure what we'll be doing for the next few days. She seems up for whatever, though, so at least there's that.

These "sick" days sure do require a lot of energy!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


Oh, our pretty little plot, waking up and greening out... doesn't it look perfect? .....................from far away?

But everything looks perfect from far away, now, doesn't it? Let's keep it real- things are far from perfect over here right now, and I'm going to spend this post bitching about it all. Let it be known that this gardening year will now be known as The Year of Working Out the Kinks. What a difference taking a year off makes (and for us this time around, not a good difference); we have a little plant drama on our hands this spring, y'all...

After a huge larger-than-golf ball-size hail storm, I went out to assess the damage to our baby fruit trees and found that the hail had actually not bothered them much, but all my pear and apple trees instead were hurting from a serious attack of fire blight. After doing a little reading about this highly contagious bacterial disease, I realized that my older apple trees have probably been struggling with this stuff for at least a year already, and I just didn't know enough to recognize it and prevent it spreading to the new little babies. So that's our first issue...

Next up, we have the veggie garden, wherein our spring seeds have already been sown and are all sprouting............. but not growing. Most of our radishes, beets, onions, carrots, greens, squash and herbs germinated the week before spring break (if you're keeping count, that's more than a month ago), and they're all still the same size (though more yellowed now).

So I hit the books and blogs and forums again, at first thinking the mulchy-"compost" stuff we had delivered for our beds was too high in nitrogen. It didn't take long for me to realize that on the contrary, my problem is actually that the "soil" in those beds is devoid of all the major plant nutrients. Whatever this filler is that was delivered, it certainly wasn't compost, and it arguably isn't even soil. My sprouts are all starving to death. So that's issue number two.

Issue number three isn't really a big deal (I know now), but it initially freaked me out...

 ...while out in the garden this morning taking pictures for this post, I looked over at my struggling squash and saw this. Can you see why I freaked out?! So I had to come in and hit the Google one more time, this time figuring out that this is a big patch of "dog vomit slime" mold (not kidding). Thanks to whatever the mulch-soil-stuff is in the beds, these spores have now found a perfect environment for their debut, which apparently is the same morning I'm kvetching about the conditions of my gardens. This mass literally grew overnight, because I was out in my garden after dinner yesterday and it wasn't there.

So I scooped it out, along with the hay mulch it was growing on, and that was disgusting.

But back to the real drama at hand- fire blight and failing seedlings.

For the fire blight, I've decided I'm going to severely prune my apple and pear trees (sterilizing the shears after every snip and burning the trimmings), and then spray my trees with some Organocide Plant Doctor to try and prevent the bacteria from getting another grip. Hopefully this won't be too little too late. I've read that the only alternative to pruning is culling the trees.

For the garden, I'm seriously considering tearing up the failing sprouts and starting all over again. Some of my transplants aren't so bad off, so I'm treating them with Epsom salts and fish emulsion, but the rest of everything else would probably be better off starting over in properly amended soil. Our neighbors have offered their composted horse manure, and I'm feeling foolish that I haven't already taken them up on the offer. That might be what we need to do this weekend.

It sucks that the seed investment I've made so far is wasted, but there's no sense beating my head against a wall when there is so clearly a problem out there right now. Right?

So enough bemoaning the gardener's misfortune, it's time to act! Now... where did I leave my pruning shears?