Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Netting the Run

We recently inherited two huge pool leaf nets, and this weekend we finally put them to good use- leaf nets no more, they now span the majority of the chicken run for hawk protection! Look how fancy the girls have it now!

 If not for the net, they'd still be confined to their coop, because they're still a good snacking size for the big red-tailed hawks we have around here. But now that they're roofed in, we felt secure enough to let them out into their very own yard for the first time.

The Chicken Friends were on hand to coax them out and encourage them to explore, and those girls only hesitated for a moment before bursting past the kiddos and out into the yard. They had no trouble finding their way back and forth after that first pass, and spent the rest of the day roaming through the brush.

We still need to work on a proper door of some kind so they can be more easily closed up at night (right now they come and go through an open flap cut into the hardware cloth, which is closed at night with a few wires... fine for them, not very convenient for the chicken keepers).

Though the entrance into their yard is not ideal, I couldn't wish for a better setup for the yard itself, and I've gotta say it sure is fun to stop by and watch them in their new space!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Little Campers

With only six days of school left, I'm guessing parents everywhere are beginning to wonder what to do to fill the hours and days between now and when school starts again in August... at least I've been thinking about it, anyway! My dear friend and fellow Mama, Keri, suggested we figure out a way to do some kind of Scout-esque "summer camp" for our kiddos. As we chewed on the idea, it began to flesh out, and lo and behold "Little Campers" was formed (named by said friend's 6-yr-old).

Every Tuesday this summer we'll bring our kiddos together and guide them through a themed activity, topic, or project, each one earning a "badge" once the meeting is concluded. She'll be making them all matching sashes for these badges to be displayed on, and we're going to have a little conclusion ceremony at the end of the summer to celebrate their accomplishments. We're even planning on making them little placards. It'll be adorable.

And thankfully, they don't care that the whole experience will be homemade and kinda an off-brand of the Scout programs... ahem... so that's a win.

So in this time before our first session- set to kick off the first Tuesday of June- I'm putting together a few of the tokens they'll earn each week. Our sessions will be as follows:

6/6: Community Service Project
6/13: Gardening Project
6/20: Nature/Solstice Project
7/4: First Aid Lesson
7/11: Wild Plants/Foraging Activity
7/18: Movie Making Project
7/25: Cooking Lesson
8/1: Craft Project
8/8: Photography Lesson
8/15: Conclusion Party

With permission from Keri, I'll be sharing what we do in our homemade summer camp, including the resources, tutorials, and materials we utilize to pull it all together, so follow along! And if you happen to know a better way, OR if you participate along with us, please feel free to let us know!

Happy camping!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

After They've Gone

 The end of the school year is fast approaching, and I've been making a deliberate effort to really enjoy the hour or so in the mornings immediately after the kiddos go to school. Our daily rhythm is about to drastically change, and though this won't be wholly new to us, this will be the first round concluding with both kiddos away. In a little over a week I'll have to shift gears from making my own schedule and filling my own day to having my Littles back with me full-time.

When the school year first started and my last baby started Kindergarten, I thought I'd struggle with some kind of pseudo-empty nester feelings... but of course like everything else in life a new rhythm developed and everyone adjusted. Throughout the course of the year, I've actually come to relish the freedom that comes with six hours a day all to myself!  

There will be a lot of fun to be had in the coming summer months, to be sure! But I know there will also be mornings when I miss the quiet, stillness, and solitude of post-drop off school mornings. So for now, while my babes are off doing all the fun things that their dear teachers have planned for them in these last few days, I'll be here at home trying to appreciate every quiet moment that I get after they've gone.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


Our faithful border collie mix, Leeloo, went on to chase squirrels in a Better Place today. She was with us for almost 13 years, and I suppose she was our first baby if you think about it, though technically she always was a Daddy's girl. She lived a rich, full life, and we're comforted knowing she knew she was part of the family and that she was loved. Rest in peace, good girl.

Monday, May 15, 2017

A Pollen-Eater

I went out to water my garden the other morning and as usual was greeted by my giant sunflower and the busy bees foraging for breakfast on it's surface. There was one girl in particular that we couldn't help but focus on- she stuck around long after the others left, completely absorbed in her systematic search for nectar, and totally covered in pollen. Luckily she lingered long enough for me to run back into the house and grab my good camera, and here's what I got for my trouble:

Henry said, "I guess they should be called pollineaters instead of pollinators!" What a goofball... but he has a good point! Just look at all that pollen!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day

(Henry got a lot of those right... I'd like everyone to know my age is a little off, for the record...........)

Happy Mother's Day to my Mom-a-Lee, my mother-in-law, my grandmother and grandmother-in-law, the mother figures in my life, my mommy friends, and all the Mamas (and Mamas-to-be!) in my life! May you sleep in (or at least try to), eat well, and feel loved today!

Fish sculpture from Audrey

Saturday, May 13, 2017


If you need us this weekend, check the coop! Oh, these irresistible girls and their chicknanigans! We just can't get enough.

Friday, May 12, 2017

A Walk Through the Garden, May 12th

It's been a while since I wrote one of these posts (almost two years ago, to be more precise, revisit it here). I've done a fair share of lamenting, that's for true, but just a straight-up casual walk-through? I think one of those is due.

Note: as I've said before, I've been slowly working to improve the conditions of the fill in the raised beds, and some of my plants have really responded to the amendments, while others continue to struggle. There are some things out there right now offering some encouragement, though... 

When you first step through the garden gate, you might notice right away that two of the perimeter beds are finally filling up with flowers- both the annuals I planted from seeds and the perennials that came from nursery transplants. The big, beautiful sunflower that greets you first thing is a volunteer from some chicken scratch left behind when that run of fence was part of the coop.

Next you'll walk by my radishes, which are currently in two separate phases- the first radishes planted almost all failed after germination, but the few that did survive I've let go to seed because let's face it, those are survivors and totally worth perpetuating (and the flowers are pretty!). The second round just poked their spicy little baby leaves out of the areas that we added rotted horse manure to, and hopefully those will lead to some crisp red globes we can sink our teeth in to!

In the two legs of the same bed with the radishes are the green beans, which have been struggling with rust, and quite a few have been succumbing despite my best intervention efforts. However a few have come back around and are flowering profusely to make up for the loss. Our pole beans- planted after I realized we had soil problems- will know nothing but perfect growing conditions (or as close to perfect as I can manage), and if you walk under the first cattle panel arbor you might notice a few of them are already beginning their climb. I've been proactively treating them for rust with neem oil.

Strolling by the bed opposite the beans and radishes, you'd next see the peppers. The verdict is still out as to whether or not they will pull through, but a few of them are bearing fruit and I'm feeding them like crazy. I haven't quite let go of my hopes for homemade fermented hot sauce. Still crossing my fingers.

You'll probably notice I've planted quite a few nasturtiums here and there, and many of them have finally made an appearance! We may not get much of a yield from our garden this year, but I can try to make it pretty anyway!

The bed next to the peppers holds our tomatoes, and they are the bushiest and greenest things out in the garden. You can't help but be drawn to them when you're making the rounds. Our tomatoes, for some reason, have never shown a single symptom of the soil problems we're having, and have all put on quite a show with flowers and little green orbs of promise... which means with my luck they'll be crawling with pests in another month. It's always something, right? For now, though, they remain a highlight of my garden walks.

 And then there are my squash, the most successful of which is another volunteer (the pumpkin). You have to take care not to step on it now as it continues to sprawl. It is growing in the pathway around the raised bed that holds zucchini and yellow squash, and recently our cucumbers have also germinated in this bed, too. Surprisingly, one of the zucchini is just going to town, and we've picked four squash off this plant this week (one which was as big as my forearm!).

Lastly, on your way out of the garden you'll pass by two perennials that are making me soooo happy right now- my pineapple sage (an impulse buy that is turning out to be delightful, love it) and my lavender (smells so good, and it's always hosting bees). I spray them with the hose first thing when I'm watering because they immediately fill the air with the most amazing perfume.

There is a sense of hope now when I stroll up and down the paths, taking stock of what's going on and what needs attention, and for me that is all I need to keep at it. Summer is just around the corner and heat stress is no plant's friend, but my main goal is soil building this season, and that I can work on no matter the weather.

When you're standing out there and the sun is setting, it's easy to imagine how great it'll be when it's all fixed up............ but even now when things are less than ideal, there's still a little something growing, blooming, changing, and helping to remind me that really, even now, it's not all that bad.