Friday, August 30, 2013

::orchard progress::

 We finally got the rest of this years orchard trees in the ground.
Two new apple, a plum, and a peach.
That makes a total of two apple, two plum, and three peach.
Since they are all babies we load water on the tractor and take drinks out to them every few days. 

The foreman approved all work done.  

Boys were in charge of the tractor.  

See the little babies?  
They may not look like much yet but they will.
The pine trees on the right are getting cut down to make more room.  
I hope that next year we can add two more apples, two pears, and two of something fun.
See the road?  That fence line is begging to be the future raspberry patch.  This is one of our last places of full sun on the front part of our property that doesn't have a garden in it already. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

::a start of a goal::

 I am a few steps closer to having my egg basket look like this...

Look what we got?
 My friend from work placed a mail order for baby chicks and I was able to add a few from my wish list.  

The black one is a Cockoo Maran.  They lay chocolate brown eggs.
The little grey one is a Blue Silkie.  They bring fluffy into the world.  

This is what an adult Blue Silkie looks like.

And this is an adult cuckoo maran.  

Our last little guy is an Easter Egger.  They are a mix of other breeds and generally lay blue to pink eggs.  I am hoping for blue.  

 This is an adult Easter Egger. 

 My best friends puppy came over to be socialized since she is about to give in to some backyard chickens of her own. 

Link to my pintrest for original images that are not mine. 

Eventually I still need to add two Olive Eggers and two Ameracanas.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

::candy and canvas birthday party - the plan::

Guess what is coming up?????

The best time of year!

My favorite thing in the universe!



photo credit to emma
It's Lily's birthday party time!!!

This may be the first you are hearing of it on here but I have been making lists for months.

She said that she wanted a NORMAL sleep over this year.  NORMAL!!!  I would have rather she say she wanted a tattoo on her neck.  

Normal is some bad language around this place.  I just can't do normal.  But she wanted normal.  I tried to embrace it.

For about five minutes.

To try to help her shake this normal concept I had her sit with me and start digging through Pintrest.  The creative little soul of hers talked herself right out of normal in a hurry. And next thing I knew we had come up with an idea.  I am pretty sure it doesn't meet the requirements of NORMAL, but don't tell Lily.

She wants an art party. 

But wait you say - haven't you already done that?

Yes, but stay with with me.

But this one is for all grown up fourth graders, and girls only.

We are calling it a:

The party starts after school on Friday.  I will pick the girls up from school and bring them straight to our house.  Lawn twister will be all ready for them in the yard to burn off some energy.  I will have snacks of rainbow Jello in champagne glasses, Cokes in bottles, and fresh popcorn from the machine.  

I'll feed them dinner at about 5pm and have them ready for the main event by 6pm. 

Originally I looked into running the painting session myself.  I even found some kits online that are supposed to walk you through it all.  That same day that I was going to order a kit I got a request on Facebook to like a new page.  Normally I ignore that stuff but this one happened to be for a local artist that runs painting parties for kids or adults.  Her prices were cheaper than buying the kit myself, and she comes with her experience - something I can't buy in a kit.  If things go well after the party I will list her referral information.      

I am looking into renting a few large tables and some chairs so every one will have space to paint.  I looked at round tables first, but I have a table cloth trick that wouldn't work with round.  The trick is easy - Walmart has flat sheets for $4 in bright colors that make perfect birthday table clothes.  Cheap but not ugly like plastic table clothes.  Back to the rental issue - after doing a bit of looking around I think I might have some decent options for around $40 that should give me plenty of chairs and two big tables. 

Since it is a Candy and Canvas party I will have a candy table set up inside.  The back drop will be all different color balloons or all different color paper chains.  The table cloth will be bright teal (thank you flat sheet at Walmart) with various candy option.  

Next to the treat table will be a cake table with a petal cake and a few other baked items like brownies and Rice Krispy treats.  I am going back to making her cake this year, but I will dearly miss my cake lady.  We are not breaking up - I will be using her for Max's pirate party in the winter.      

In the kitchen I will set up the island with buffalo chicken dip and chips. 

The take home favor is the painting they make and I will make them each a sketch book with a pack of colored pencils and a sharpener.   I need to find some inspiration on etsy.

Now - open forum to the group - what else should I add?  Anything too far that I need to take away?  What am I missing?

All photos are my own or are linked on my Pintrest page.  

Monday, August 19, 2013

::cottage garden august 2013::

Cottage Garden

What a perfect year for a garden.  The weather has been fairly mild for us.  Warm but not boiling, with good rain.  I have watered less than 10 times so far.  But with perfect weather comes perfect weed growth.
 The Cottage Garden has had a great year.  The tomatoes are HUGE and luscious.  The black weed mat in the rows has really limited my weeding and saved me some serious time.  I don't really know what I did right to make them so much more productive this year.  I wish I did, so I  could repeat it.

 The onions were very productive too.  I let them grow till they started to look sad and droopy, then I pulled them to dry.  Any of them that start to look mushy will get diced and frozen (that idea given to my by Emma's mother).  I harvested them August 9th and I filled part of their spot with cilantro and spinach for fall. 

My lavender plants went crazy, but they usually seem to step up and shine every year.  I love having them flanking the gate so I can smell and touch them every time I go in and out. 
the new patch
The old strawberry patch had a low production year.  I ripped out about half of it and added more compost to the blank spots.  I did this to provide it with nutrition and to give the baby plants a space to fill.  They sure did fill in.  Next year all those baby plants will make TONS of pretty little berries.

The new strawberry patch filled in like it was possessed.  I planted lettuce and carrots in the blank spots just to have less space to weed.  The straws are quickly moving into those areas and next year I will need no cover crops for the blank spots.  The berry's on these plants are huge and delicious.  Now if I can just remember what type they are so I can plant a field of them. 
 (I found a hidden marker today - they are called Quinault)

My peppers all did really well, but they usually do.  They seem very resistant to my funny farm crew.  What made me happy was that the eggplant went crazy this year.  I planted two Asian Eggplants on a whim and they have gone nuts.  I give a few to everyone that comes over.  I am just trying to get rid of them.  The cucumber got too stepped on by me trying to weed other things.  We didn't get much from it.  Since it is my least favorite I don't really care. 

I put in a ton of Bush Baby Watermelons that have gone insane.  I will end up having to give those away too because we have one million.  Hopefully nothing kills them before they are ripe because I can't wait to eat them up. 
I rotate them periodically so the yellow spots are from fruit I turned that day. 

The carrots that I mixed in other spots did wonderful.  I need a root cellar for all those crazy things. 

 Our pear tree has has limbs snapping off from the weight of the fruit.
We only picked what was on the endangered branches.

 I am going to try and can those puppies. 

I would say that the Cottage Garden this year is the first time I have really felt like I actually might have any idea of what I am doing in the garden.  The majority turned out so nice.  

It is a little sanctuary.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

::orchard garden august 2013::

 Some times in gardening you think you do everything right and stupid powdery mildew comes along and kills half your back garden while you are on vacation and not paying enough attention.  

You can either cry, or...

 Bring out the reinforcements. 

 Things were going great.  
(famous last words)
It was over crowded, but that usually works for me.  Fewer weeds grow because they can't compete with the plant.  Right?  Usually.   
Before my road trip I saw some white stuff on the pumpkin leaves.  I just thought - oh well, if the pumpkins die who cares.  Then I got home and worked straight for six days.  When I got back out there things had exploded.  The pumpkins were totally dead and eaten alive by this white mildew.  Research quickly showed it to be Powdery Mildew.  Stupid mildew.  I don't care about the pumpkins but it took half the cantaloupe vines.  Dead.  Gone.  Emma helped me clean it up and she said, "This is like the black plague of plants."  Wise words.  We pulled out all the dead vines.  Then sprayed the live ones to try and save them.  

 We took all the dead vines to the burn pile and tilled under the open areas.  In good news the watermelon varieties I had planted seem to be resistant.  Some of the cantaloupes might be saved.  The green beans, broccoli and tomatoes in that garden seem healthy.  I chalk this up to lesson learned.  Good thing the farm stand near by has cantaloupe :) 

 Josh tilled under all the blank areas. 

 And the Shorties promptly made foot prints in it.  
I have ordered some wheat to fill the spots as a winter cover crop.
I want to try and process it next year, but I'm not going to count those chickens before they hatch. 

The pretty green plants are the watermelons that seem to be resistant.

 The beans, broccoli, and tomatoes seems to be surviving.  
Some of the cantaloupes are hanging on.

 This Brandywine Tomato is thriving.
Look at that beast!
It's amazing what animal poop compost can do for a plant. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

::first day of school::

 Ready to start fourth grade.
Lillian has to be called Lillian now.  
No more Lily.
She had to wear the 4H skirt she made.

Mr Max was super excited to start Kindergarten.
Me - not so much.

Off they went

 Quinny and Daddy didn't like it. 

 Max told me it was the greatest day of his life.
Lillian said she has her best class ever.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

::just right - sheep::


I have so enjoyed learning about our little lambs this year.  The leaders of the club are so nice and they really helped us a great deal.  Lily told me that she likes showing sheep more than any other project.  

Perfect - because I couldn't agree more.  

I am feeling like maybe this breed is finally the one that I have been looking for.

I have been searching for a while to find what kind of animal it is that I want to breed and raise.  I came from a horse show background so I started with horses, but that was too expensive and it wasn't something I could do myself.  Then Emma showed rabbits in 4H and we bred them for awhile.  They were too easy and cheap.  I ended up with over 50 (first time I have ever admitted that), and ended up selling them all off.  Then I have played around with the pygmy goats.  That started off just right, but after the horrible year we had last year I don't have any joy in even trying.  I fell off that horse and I am not getting back on.

Then a little black lamb fell into my life.  This may finally be the "just right" in the Goldie Locks journey that I have been taking in the world of animal husbandry.  At fair I had at least 8 people ask me for my contact information to buy lambs from me, I referred them to the breeder I got my lamb from.  I had a really hard time finding a breeder for these little lambs.  There are not any in Indiana, or if there are they are hiding from me.  I love the look of these little creature - short and round.  They are cute like Pygmy goats are, but they bring fluffy to the table.  No one can resist fluffy!  They are known to be good at delivery their babies, unlike pygmy goats.  Baby Doll sheep are also very good mothers.  They are just the right sized adult animals for me to deal with easily.  If they need to go to the vet you can just throw them in a dog crate in the back of the van.  Since they are small they are less wear and tear on the farm and they are cheaper to feed.  Animals of breeding quality cost less than $500.  They are not free, but its not like horses.  They have babies once a year and not 10 at a time rabbits, so there is not a huge chance of a major population problem like rabbits.  If you can't sell the wethers then they can fill up the freezer.   

I am wise enough now to know that just because I want to go and buy an entire starter flock, that is not the right thing to do.  I need an actually plan and to think carefully about timing and costs.  For now I think that I will add two ewe lambs in the spring and maybe a ram in the fall.  Once I see how that goes I will see what the next step is.    

Sunday, August 11, 2013

::fair plan 2014::

Fair rocked it out this year.  But now we have to figure out a game plan for next season.  As usual Josh was correct about doing too many projects.  We made an agreement that we would tell him what we signed up for next year and he had the right to veto anything that was too far over the top.  (maybe)

We came up with a rule this year that you get to show no more than four total animals per year.  Loop hole - a pair of ducks equals one animal.

Emma wants to show her champion Pygmy wether, Bo.  We traded our old buck for a baby doe to be born this fall and she will show that too.  Then she wants to step it up this year and buy a Nubian doe.  We talked about goals this year and she said her goal was to win Supreme Champion doe or wether.  That is when the top pygmy, meat, and dairy goat come together to compete for best goat at fair.  Pygmy goats do not usually win that prize and we don't have much interest in meat goats - that left dairy.  We decided on a Nubian because they are beautiful and have great personalities.  I have found a top notch breeder and we hope to buy an adult doe this fall and breed her or buy a baby in the spring.  Emma only has three years left of 4H and I am willing to invest in something of higher quality for her to put her time in to.  Then she says she wants her fourth animal to be a dairy COW.  I do love dairy cows, but I'm not sure that is in the budget this year.  Maybe I can talk her into something else, like a Pygmy wether baby.  No one can resist an adorable baby Pygmy goat.

Emma:       1. Bo - senior Pygmy wether
            2. Fall baby - junior Pygmy doe
            3. Spring baby - junior Pygmy wether  or maybe the    Nubians baby
            4.  Adult doe - senior Nubian doe

Keep in mind that Emma's mother (Jenni) does her indoor projects with her.  With my little Miss Lily I run the show and it was a ton of pressure.  I wish that Jenni had been in charge of Lily's indoor projects too!  We did get all her projects done but it was too many.  We agreed that four indoor projects was a good number.  She thinks she wants to do sewing, woodworking, recycling, and cakes.  I might let her squeeze in one other easy one because I can't stop myself.  For her animals she is showing her rotten little baby goat, Marshmallow, who will be in her awkward yearling show year next year.  She will also be returning to the ring with her adorable little lamb Annabelle.  Now for new animals - I traded one of our senior does for a fall pygmy baby doe.  That one will be for Lily.  Then we will get Lily another lamb to show next year.

Lily:   1. MF - yearling pygmy doe
        2.  Spring baby pygmy doe
        3.  Annabelle as a yearling sheep
        4.  Spring lamb

I used to sponsor a dear friend named Shealynn in 4H, last year things fell apart for that.  She is the same age as Emma and I love her like a niece.  But next year I am going to make sure that kid has some animals to show.  She loves LaMancha goats (the kind with no ears).  I found a breeder and I am going to get her a wether baby this spring.  I am giving her that goat as her own and I will work with it to make sure it is at least partially trained for when she comes up for the summer.  I really want to buy a second lamb this spring, so I am hoping to talk Shealynn into showing it for me.  That kid has a really strong work ethic so I don't think leading a perfectly trained lamb into the ring for me is going to bother her at all.   


        1. LaMancha junior wether                
        2. Spring lamb


Thursday, August 8, 2013

::road trip::

We just got home from our very first road trip.
It was my Mother, Lily, Max, and myself.
Josh and Q flew out and met us in Colorado.
Our goal was to stop at all the ridiculous places we were curious about on our way.

Our first stop was at the World's Largest Wind Chime.

Laugh - but it was awesome.

The same town had the World's Largest Golf Tee - so we checked that out too.

Then we drove on and got the chance to go up in Arch.

The kids loved it so much that they couldn't even pose for a picture at the top.
We had dinner at a fun local place in Kansas City, then drove till we found a hotel to pass out at.

The next day we had to make a pit stop in Abilene, KS

Home to the oldest carousel in the country.
$2 each bought us a ride. 

The attached pioneer village was adorable and we really enjoyed exploring it.

Latter that night we picked up Josh and Q at the Denver Airport and drove up to Fort Collins to spend a night at my sisters house.

Then it was off to the meat and potatoes of the trip -
LaGarita Ranch in Creede, CO.
We were meeting up with our Arizona family for a reunion.

See the ranch horses off in the background?

Quinny fell in the pond within about 20 mins.

Josh proud of his climb.  He and Max made it to the very tip of that ridge behind him.  

One evening the whole crew ended up at our little cabin.
Look at all those glorious shoes.

On my night to help cook I made oven smores for desert.

Quinny loved that idea. 

We had some fun playing in the Rio Grande.
Josh threw a rock in next to Lily and gave her a surprise.

Quinny liked the no seat belt rule on the two mile driveway.

Daddy and Max built a raft to let sail on the ranch creek.

While waiting for the rafts launch Lily had to dunk her head in the water.

The ranch had hundreds of humming birds that were everywhere.

We found the storage in the cabin to be just perfect. 

A second boat launch was in order.
Maxs knows it made it all the way to the ocean. 

My cousin Erin took this wonderful picture with the horse I fell in love with.
I always was a sucker for a grey.
We dropped Josh off at the airport and we headed to our next big stop...

My poor little mother made it all the way around the strenuous trail!
I was impressed.

I loved Mt Rushmore!
It was such a cool thing to see.
But Sir Q lost his mind.  
He walked that whole trail by himself and then had a total nervous breakdown.
I tried to carry him out but he started trying to punch and pinch me.
I put him down and felt so frustrated.
Then a stranger who was in the area for bike week walked over and tried to pick him up.
If you know Q you know he has severe stranger danger.  
He took one look at her and ran behind me to hide.
He managed to walk out holding my hand like a normal human till we were almost to the car.  
Then he lost it again...
But that lady bought me some time and I want to send her a cyber fist bump.

My mother has always wanted to see Crazy Horse.
We headed over to check it out.
Q and I napped in the car while the rest of the posse looked around.

 Miss Lily got a dream catcher to bring home with her.
Major cuteness. 

We had to stop in at Wall Drug on our way home.
That place was a total blast.
I love a good tourist trap.

Max had been on watch for an "American Bison" and he was glad to finally see one.  

After many more hours in the car we stopped for dinner and stumbled across this crazy little park.
It has all sorts of vintage playground equipment.  
Those kids got some serious sillies out.
Then we drove till we couldn't see straight any more. 

The kids were starting to get snippy with each other so we pulled over for a stop.
We ended up at the birth town of President Herbert Hoover.
Such a random stop, but so pretty.  
Q could only manage to keep one shoe on.

Here are the monkeys a few hours from home.
They were worn out but happy.
Me too. 


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