Sunday, April 29, 2012

Messy Porches and Baby Birds

They did it again, little barn swallows perhaps, 
making their annual nest on our second floor porch ceiling fan.

Mama bird adds on to the nest, flying back and forth with bits of this and that.

Soon we notice she spends a little more time in the nest.

Then one day Poof, babies!

Last year my husband walked out on the porch to take a look.
They flew off in unison.
Off to make their way in the world.

It won't be much longer now and this batch will be feathering their own nests.
But for the time being, we'll let them make a mess of the porch.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Flowers as Life Lessons

Flowers as life lessons.
Sometimes you have to look past obstacles to see beauty.

Always keep your chin up.

And blossom.

Linking up with 

" surprise blog event called Flowers for Leontien, is being scheduled for this Saturday, April 28, 2012, at8:00 am CST, in honor of fellow blogger, Leontien Vandelaar."

  I am joining my fellow blogger by linking my flower post to today's event, sending hugs and prayers during this difficult time.  

Frog Spit

I took a stroll by the garden wall this morning after feeding the wild cats.  They morning is cool with rain forecasted for most of the week.  Walking over by the frog pond I came across plant after plant covered in frog spit.  Now I know it's not really spit from a frog.  Too bad it's not because when I looked up where it really comes from, it's a froghopper or spittlebug!  Sucking the juices out of all my wildflowers.  

I found a pretty detailed article at this blog:  The Home Bug Garden who had an infestation most likely due to leaving vegetation to overwinter, as I did, for it's aesthetic value.  Some of those seed heads are so pretty with snow on them!

The spit is produced by their bodies, encasing them in foam that protects them from weather and predators.  They have a wide variety of colors.  Most articles say they can stunt growth but only in serious infestations.  Natural and chemical remedies don't seem to affect them very well so the advice is to give them a spray with the garden hose to knock them off the particular plant or leave them be until they morph into little froghoppers.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Late Night Chicken Stroll

Can't you just hear her now?

Whistling in the background  
"Oh, I'm just taking a stroll, nothing unusual here!
What? Shouldn't I be in the tank with the other chicks?
No, no.  I'm just  . . ummmm, making sure the place is locked up!
Yes, that's right, just taking a security stroll."

Hmmmmmm . .  .something just doesn't seem right here.
Ahhhh, another escapee, that's what's going on!

I walked downstairs to turn off the lights before bed and what did I see?  This little chicken looking at me!  She finally made it to the top of the big metal tub and tumbled out- intentionally or not.
Little did she know that I was coming back!  When she saw me she turned around and ran over to me, in style of course.  You can see how classy she is by her pose!

Time to cover the big tub.
Time for the hubby to finish the alternations to the coop!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

First It's Hot, Then It's Cold

I have the gardening bug- bad.  I want to get my plants in the ground!

First it's hot.
Then it's cold.
Then it's hot again.
Then we have a frost.

What's a gal to do?!

I have my lettuce, collards, spinach, radish, peas and a few tomatoes in.  The tomatoes were pretty iffy the other day, but they survived the frost.I have some potatoes in the tower. What about the rest?

The herbs, the flowers, the little seeds?
I wore a jacket to work on Monday.
Today it was 94!
The high for this weekend is 65.  
Where does that put us when the sun goes down?

Crazy weather!

The Hot and Cold water towers are in St. Clair, MO where we do some of our shopping.  There's a nice Ace Hardware there that is a perfect variety store. 
It's a small town, it doesn't even have a Wal-Mart!
This Ace has home goods, fabrics, plants, toys, hardware, clothing, candles, jewelry.  
You name it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Do You Know What This Is?

We're having a debate- what is this plant?
Could it be wild ginger? The leaves aren't quite right.

It has this little pod coming up.

It's not this Mayapple

Another strange little plant

It has bean pod thingies

I know this is poison ivy.  If there were only a market for this, I'd have it covered.

This is a bit blurry because I had to lean down to get the shot.  It has pretty berries but not sure what it is either.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pure Maple Sugar

The Sweetest Gift- Pure Maple Sugar
from Catawissa MO maples grown within 
a few miles of our home.
A gift from friends.

Our friends, Laura and Dennis, are amazing people.  We met them when we were volunteers on a committee that brings local non-profit organizations together at large events to broaden their reach, offer local entertainment and showcase the town.  

Laura is a chainsaw artist, carving items such as bears, eagles, benches and personalized logs for home or business.  They live on several wooded acres in a very unique teeny home next to the lake- by  choice as there are traditional homes on the property that they rent out.  They are very self sufficient, always looking for sustainability opportunities.

This year they processed their sap into both syrup and sugar.  They sent over a bottle of the sugar for us to try and it is delicious.  She has not decided if she will sell it direct or through a vendor so I cropped the address and phone number from the bottle.  

They are also clearing several acres to begin raising meat goats and planting herbs to creating other items for sale in our local markets.   It will be fun watching their process and lending a hand.  In the meantime, it's sweet treats for us!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Flowers, Not Frost

The day was grey, damp and cool but it made the colors of the garden look to brilliant:  pinks, greens, purples and whites.  You can still see some drops.  The sweet peony has been crawling with ants, about to burst open in a marvelous bloom.  They say the ants help it open up but I can't say for sure.  It looks better if you click to enlarge the photos.

My purple iris have bloomed now. I still need to get that bird bath topper on but my back has been bad and it's pretty heavy.  It's really a cat bath though.  They jump up on it spreading out their paws around the top so no water actually gets on their paws!

Our fountain pump bit the dust.  We'll have to get a new one.  We found this in a crazy place called Gringo Jones.    You need to click on their LINK just to see it.    It's down in the city next to the Bug House, near our botanical gardens and the place is absolutely packed with STUFF.  They have vintage gates, antiques, new stuff that is weird but cool, imports, huge statues, stained glass, furniture.  Amazing place.

This is really aluminum so light enough to install easily and remove when we need to clean it out.  It's not really losing it's paint.  That's hard water deposit from the well water. 

This is our stump that finally fell over in the last year or two.  It has nice lines to it so I let it be. 

The hostas are doing very well, in fact they are doing so well I'll have to divide them again this fall.  Can you believe they started from a few teeny plants, probably from Wal-Mart.

The cats come by and drink water that rests on their leaves.  It's a favorite wasp drinking spot too.

This is the next peony bloom over, a little ahead of it's sister.  

Hopefully we don't have a frost tonight, temperatures are dropping!  They are supposed to be 36 in the city sooooo, we may-- but I hope not.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Poor Little Chick

Poor Little Chick.
I had been tending the garden and
working on my Buck a Block quilt squares
not paying any attention
to the little guys.

When I went downstairs to answer the phone
there she was-- bloody, pecked
but not to death!

I picked up the little one and held her, keeping her warm and safe 
until my husband came home.
"We have to find another tub for her or they will kill her!"  I cried.
I said I would have to sit up all night holding her.
He scrounged up something temporary.
Not because I threatened, it would be ok with him if I stayed up all night.
He says these things happen.  
I know they do, but she's such a cute little chick!

Today he got them a new home, a bigger home.
I guess it pays to be a cute chick.
Now they are not pecking at each other, at least not yet.
I got them some big rocks to jump on so they won't get bored.
I don't know what other "toys" they might like.

I hope the coop move will go OK, we've lost them before to the bigger ones.
He's going to have to rig something up to keep them separate for awhile.
I know they may be dinner in a few months, but for now they are happy.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Herb Garden - What Do I Plant?

I am trying to design a dual purpose herb garden that will serve both as apothecary as well as a pottage herb garden.  I've checked several sources to determine what I will need but I would appreciate any help you might be able to provide.

I'm hoping my sister in law will want to join in with this since they will be building next door in the not too distant future.  The garden is on the side of our house that will meet their property so it would be perfect.  She's way ahead of me in learning how to use them.
Hopefully I can grow these in Missouri (and spelled these correctly)

Apothecary Herb Garden  (updated May 2012)

Calundula officianalis purchased seeds
Chamomile purchased seeds
Fennel - foeniculum
Garlic purchased sets
Hens & Chicks - Sempervivum tectorum
Lavendula soechas
Marjoram planted
Myrtle - myrtus communis 
Rosemary planted indoors
Sage planted indoors and out
St John's Wort
Thyme (thymus vulgaris) planted

Separately- chickweed

Pottage Herb Garden

Basil planted
Chives planted
Dill planted
Nasturtium purchased seeds
Parsley planted
Peppers- vrs planted
Sage planted
Thyme planted
Winter Savory

Separately - spearmint planted

What I Have


I'll be working on this for the additional garden space we are going to use this year.  Any comments are welcome!

 I have linked this up to Wildcrafting Wednesday.  I hope I did that right!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Singing Frogs

I can't believe how loud my frogs are tonight.
This is off my front porch.
You must think I'm crazy to like listening to this, 
but it amazes me that they are so loud.

And people say it's quiet in the country.
It's a good thing I like frogs.

photo credit singing frogs

Between The Rains

Saturday between the rains.
Buckets and buckets of rain came and went.
I was soaked and my hair curled like it hasn't in years.

Then it stopped. The sun came out, a little.
So I took a walk down to the coop and shared some collards with the chickens.
They were happy.

My husband cleared out a few more cedars leaving more open space.
The larger trees are loving it.
We'll need the boards for the potato tower
the gallows when I find whoever is digging them up.
I laid chicken wire on top but haven't secured it yet.
Just layered some straw on top hoping they would 
get confused and leave it be.

My knockout rose is on the corner of the house.
It's probably 8 ft tall and blooming.
It was an obligation purchase 
to support a co-worker's high school band a few years ago.
Amazing rose.

This little froggy is quite at home. 
The little plastic pond cracked years ago
but I don't have the heart to remove it.
The frogs live in it and
I like frogs.

Stella is getting ready.  
This is my favorite day lily.
Blooms for so long.

I haven't put the top of the bird bath on yet.
We're expecting bad storms, potentially damaging ones.
Mary's there though.
Watching over things.

The little escapees are at it again.
I've chased a few down today.
They are on the tile down the hall, so it's ok.
We cover them when we're not around.
They don't go far, in fact, they don't really mean to leave the tub.
They lose their balance.
Then they cry.
They haven't figured out how to fly back up to the tub!
They are the sweetest chicks, little buff orpington's.
They let us hold them 
and then they nestle down to sleep.
Taylor is loving them! Even Taylor's mom holds them
and she's afraid of all animals (crazy daughter).

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Love the Beaches, Hate the Boat Ride

I love the beaches, hate the ride to them.
Watch the water, the brown spots are really gravel.
Yes, we're that shallow.
There are lots of things in the water
and it can change daily.
Logs and rocks, all part of running the river.

Our rivers are not deep in most parts.
Some areas have only inches of water, maybe 2 or 4.  
Most use jets on their boats, not props.
You have to get up on plane to get through them 
so you have to go really fast.

I won't drive the boat.
By the way, 
Who uses a paddle boat in the river?  Crazy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Where's the River, Honey?

What's wrong with this photo you might be asking?
Our garden tractor as tow vehicle?
I think my husband was in the sun too long.  We're several miles from the river.
Maybe it's just wishful thinking?

Oh, I found out.  It's easier to move the boat around with the little tractor than hook it up to the truck!
Just wondering
if he was headed here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Radishes- Ready for Eating

The new crop of radishes is ready!  These are nicely spicy, not horribly hot unless you eat an entire one in one bite.  I planted them as soon as the dirt was ready and within a month they are ready.  

We're sending a couple down to my father in law today.  We're under a freeze warning tonight, after several weeks of temperatures in the 80s, all the way up to 90!  These guys will be just fine.  In fact, in a couple of days I'll add some new seed and get ready for the next crop.

Look how pretty these are with their rainbow colors.  I can see a white one is almost ready.

I found some radish recipes here .  I'll have to try them out- especially the Texas coleslaw,Yum!

Devastation in the Potato Tower

They got it.  They ravaged the potato tower.  

Who?  Not sure, but 
If I had to guess . . . .

Randy "The Digger" Raccoon

or perhaps

Paulie "The Tater" Possum

I guess we'll need to cover it with chicken wire until it is more established. Nothing was eaten, just disturbed.

  With the hen house straw covering it they must think we planted chicks!

Animal images from Micro Soft Clip Art.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Potato Tower

My husband used our cedar trees to make boards for my potato tower.  Here it is with its first layer and some chicken pecked straw as cover.  We selected red pontiac potatoes for our first box.  They are one of the varieties recommended for the towers.

As the vines begin to grow you add another board on each side and fill with more dirt, compost or straw leaving some of the vine exposed.  Keep going until the tower is filled.

Once the bottom layer of potatoes have matured to the size you want, remove the bottom layer of boards and scrape out the potatoes.  Push the dirt back in place and replace all the boards.

Make sure you select a variety that will set potatoes as far up the vine as possible.

We put this box next to our little side garden so we can watch it.  We may try another variety next to it and perhaps other methods up in the big side garden.

Click here to see my earlier post on making the boards.  He cut them to size and made sure to pre drill the screw holes to prevent the boards from cracking. 

Our neighbor gave him a hand, or two!

We are getting some cooler weather this week, hoping we don't get a freeze.  We have grapes on the vine due to the early spring, small peaches plus a couple of potato eyes planted in this box.  Most everything else is a cold weather plant plus perennials.  We'll keep our fingers crossed!