Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Learning to take the farm life on the chin

There is a chicken in my small flock that I've become particularly fond of.  This sweet chicken started as a tiny little yellow chick and has grown to be large and the most beautiful gentle bird.  I've had a sneaking suspiscion that this was not the hen I hoped it was, but was woken by his crow just this morning.  Since I live in the city and I'm not allowed to have chickens at all, he will surely give the rest of us away with his alarm clock voice.  I'm so sad that he'll need to find a new home.  I have a prospect or two, but no one who would consider this sweet gentleman for dinner.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Cottage is Ready for Christmas

Merry Blue and Red Christmas from Florida!

Monday, November 9, 2009

There's going to be a wedding!

Our babygirl, 21 year old Emily and her long time boyfriend have committed to a wedding date. I have four months to help them pull this off! We're so excited. It seems that our son and his sweet lady will be married in 2011, so I'll need the practice. Life is good, days are too short, money is tight, and love is in the air!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Upcycled wood/recycled plastic composite raised beds

What a cool turn of events that resulted in some great raised beds. My Frenchman noticed that some composite (trex type) decking had been sitting around his work. It was once part of what used to be a handicap ramp. He asked and was given the materials and began cleaning them and planning our new garden area. Last week, he installed two of the three new beds (we're waiting until the sweet potatoes are harvested before we add the third). I was so excited to get started on the beds that I started filling them and mulching around them until I found myself trying to finish in the dark!

We've been digging and planting and seating in this record hot weather with high humidity.

It's been a good week and I've somehow kept in a fall mood as we begin planting like it's spring.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Littlest Helper - An afternoon in pictures & video

Our grandson always brings excitement when he comes to visit, but last night he was ready to pitch in and help with some big projects. He always has time to pretend and dance, too!

Making his own pizza with Grammy

Helping Pepere wash cars

The fruits of his labor

Play time in Auntie's shoes

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Coop

I laugh as I write this. "The Coop" was once a place where the Frenchman and I (and most of our families and friends) used to go to dance on Saturday nights when we were dating and living in Maine. It was a barn with picnic tables lining the inside and the house band was the Ritcher family who owned the place. Strictly BYOB. They played for our wedding reception. It was quite a party!

The coop that we are installing is not as fun, but it's definately as creative. The Frenchman has built this chicken tractor (movable coop) from recycled PVC pipe and recycled PVC fence material. The only thin we bought was the wire and a few latches. 1/2" wire is suggested to keep snakes and things out, so here we go.

Here it is!

I'm proud that this talented carpenter has always been interested in reusing every scrap and has made some beautiful furniture from it in the past. We rescued a side table today from the landfill. I'll post that project as we get it underway along with the raise beds, and maybe a salad growing table. (He's sucha good sport).
The Dogs approve, too!

Saturday Morning at the Cottage

Ahh, to sleep in one day a week. It's such a guilty pleasure! The dogs and I puttered around all morning; I read and made sandwiches for the event, the dogs napped, and the Frenchman is in the yard working on the new chicken coop. Today I'm preparing to go to the bridal shower of a beautiful young woman, the bride of our young Director of Worship, Tom. The church will overflow with well wishes for them today and I'm excited to go.
Open Face Cucumber Sandwiches

3 small cucumbers (peeled if waxed) and sliced thin
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 package dry Italian dressing mix
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 sour cream
1 loaf rye cocktail bread (or regular loaf cut in half)
dill weed to garnish

Mix cream cheese, sour cream, mayo, and dressing mix together and refrigerate (overnight is best)
Spread each piece of bread with cream cheese mix, place a cucumber slice or two on top and garnish with dill.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Garden Update in Pictures

The fastest growing animal on earth?

Ok, I felt bad when my two children grew up right before my eyes, it's even more amazing to watch my baby grandson turn into a toddler, but I've never seen anything grow as fast as a chick! They are now 18 days old. These little buggers are changing daily. They obviously weigh more everyday and are more curious all the time, just like our grandson. They're starting to roost on nealy alnything and they are eating a ton! Here are a few pictures of "the girls"; Cocoa (Brown Easter Egger), Bella (Buff Orpington), and Daisy(soon to be a white Delaware).
By the way, our grandson has accidentally squeezed Daisy a couple of times, but she's still our most relaxed and friendly chick!
Today I got to spend time caring for my grandson after dinner which meant poop, came home and cleanned the chickens (more poop), and let the dogs out (you guessed it). The moral of this story is: the more people and pets you love, the more of thier poop you have to put up with.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Urban Farm Magazine

I just picked up the inagrual issue of Urban Farm Magazine. I feels good to know that I'm not alone out here!

Urban Farmer: Raising Chicks

A New Adventure in Urban Farming!
We've just received our shipment of three day old chicks. We requested hens to appease the neighbors, hopefully that's what we recieved. The are so sweet and seem very content in our homemade brooder. The cottage seems more homey already! The Grandbaby loves these little hens.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Late Summer in the Deep South

It's mid August and the subtropical weather has been seasonably hot and humid. The heat on our shady back porch has been at 100 at 4:00pm two days in a row. The humidity is at 95-100% every morning and usually levels out to 35% by afternoon.

The Frenchman and I got way to the beach for a couple of days to celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary. We day dreamed about a little beach house, but we'd miss our veggie patch. The 30 miles that seperates up from the ocean is just fine, besides, if we lived there, where would we go to get away?

The early mornings and evenings are my favorite times now. On a cooler morning I find it hard to stay out of the garden when I'm supposed to be getting ready for work. I'm craving a cool Maine day and a cold night a the county fair. I'll settle for a cooling rain shower and our local hot county fair in early November. I suppose this is a perfect time of year to rear some baby chicks since they love the heat, so that's my next big adventure. They arrive in 7 days!

The Frenchman and I have begun to talk about our dream of building a small eco-friendly home with big front and back porches and a bit more room to expand and explore. We have a good amount of planning and even more financial buckling down to do if we want to accomplish this dream, but the planning is part of the fun.

Meanwhile, we're constantly puttering around our little cottage, especially in the back yard. Our anniversary present ot ourselves was a papaya tree. I'm so happy we enjoy the same things!
Late summer planting began last week & my zucchini already has it's first leaves. I've also sown some okra, chocolate mint coleus, Big Max pumpkin, summer squash, and cherry tomatoes. It's all an experiment at this oint, but my goal for fall/winter planting is a container garden full of herbs. I've have to wait for cooler weather and besides, I need to help build the "stealth" chicken coop first (city limits and chickens don't jell). The coop has a planting area on top, so maybe it will be my new herb garden!

The sedums have been loving the weather. I've just potted an Autumn Joy in honor of my grandson's mother (her namesake) and it's one of the few potted plants that are thriving in this weather.

The watermelon is being attacked by stink beetles, but it's hanging in there. I've just planted some sweet potato vines, but probably too early since they look very droopy, so I've been hand watering them daily along with my green peppers.

Some recent flops has been carrots that seemed to like the sandy soil, but looked terrible malnourished. My tomatoes have died off and I fear my Cecile Bruner rose is not responding well to the organic liquid fertilizer, so I think I'll try a teaspoon of Epsom salts. It's all a big experiment that I hope to learn from.

I sometimes feel like a mad scientist with my little assistant(19 month old Logan). He likes to throw rocks in the tiny pond, so it may be a rock garden soon - poor fish :(

Stay cool and enjoy what's left of the summer!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

US Botanic Garden Washington, DC

I just returned from DC where I visited (with my Mother, Sisters, and some friends) so many sites, I'm having difficulty recalling everything that I took in over our weekend. One of the highlights was the U.S. Botanic Garden, with the Conservatory full of diverse plant life and "rooms" like The Jungle, Children's Garden, World Desert, Southern Exposure, and the Orchid display, it was a vast collection of plants from all types of climates. I found it hard to take it all in, so I snaps some photos of my favorites. I also tried to capture some of beauty of the parks close by. I hope you enjoy this little photo tour.
My Sisters, Mom & I

My twin sister

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Living Simply, Getting Organized, and Getting Free!

I've been planning a weekend away and rethinking the way I dress every day. The weather has warmed up and I'm temped to wear flip flops and shorts all the time, but my work requires me to dress a bit more properly and besides, I feel better when I look presentable.

I've spent some time today cleaning out some things in my closet that I just don't wear. My closet is fairly simple already (with the occasional clearance rack Vera Wang and a new Dana Buhman tunic that I love), I've made up my mind that if it makes me feel ulgy or in pain when I wear it, it's got to go (to be recycled of course).

I found a neat little program that's going to help me organize those few practical, good looking pieces of clothes. It's called Victoria's Clothes Organizer; a database of sorts where I can lay out my clothing without getting dog hair all over it.

Some might find this kind of organizing a bit much, but it helps me stay balanced. I've found that if I can remember what I have, I buy less. If I buy less I'll get my debt paid sooner. If my debt is paid I won't be
a slave to debt any longer.

The bible says that the borrower is a slave to the lender (Proverbs 22:7). This girl's not going to be enslaved forever, so I'll budget carefully allow for some fun, pay with cash, and take good care of what I own. Some days, like today, I'll brave the dust bunnies as I think about packing.