6.30.2012

One of Those Days

Do you ever have one of those mentally draining days where you can't help but feel that you have no idea what in the hell you are doing in life? Today's thoughts consisted of: I can't believe I spent all last weekend working on homework and no time in the garden and now I am doing it all over again; I quit my job??? What the hell is wrong with me???; I can't believe I may actually finish college; This paper is too hard, I will never finish college; Why can't I just be a writer? Oh wait, if I were a writer, this paper wouldn't be so hard; Good Gawd I need to get my butt in the garden; Maybe I should invest in lottery tickets....

Perhaps this is a nearly 1/3 life crises thing... You know, more than a quarter of my life, but not quite midlife... I guess I should get back to my homework...

And then I keep thinking about the 4th of July. Not in a "I love this country, yay America" kind of way, but in a "PLEASE GOD DON"T LET MY HOUSE BURN DOWN" kind of way. In case you hadn't been following this blog last 4th of July, here is a great photo essay of the war-zone that is my street every single YEAR. 

feeling a little overwhelmed by the workload???
 

6.28.2012

Let The Flea Wars Begin

It is that time of year... Punkin escapes to the big wide world of the driveway, and we inevitably end up with fleas. I already powdered the carpets, next on my list is to give the cats another dose of anti-flea juice. Just have to order some from the internet...  I have a feeling that the fleas maybe worst than last year due to our very mild winter, and I am dreading it... Fleas are my worst enemies! I mean, other than slugs and groundhogs... Let the battles begin!

6.27.2012

I've Never Had This Problem Before

So with the harvest of my garlic (all of it, it's insane, but that is another post) my garden is soooo empty. I have to sit down and figure out what I can plant that is quick growing and pretty because the Garden Walk is in 3 weeks, and I have an empty garden. All forsake the tomatoes, which are monsters, pics to come later. I have a list of things to plant, but they dont get planted until August for the fall growing season... Oy vay... Maybe I can plant them early? But I don't want everything to bolt or be bitter and nasty... What's a gardener to do???

6.25.2012

Harvest Monday

Thanks to Daphne over at Daphne's Dandelions for hosting Harvest Monday!

This week is all about greens. Green lettuce, green kale, green chard, I am up to my eyeballs in greens. I did take pictures of it all, but for some reason I cleaned my camera of files before I loaded them onto my computer. Doh! I had a total brain fart there I guess... So a picture of my fridge will have to do... (Isn't it so pretty?!)
The lighting makes it look like some weird space ship thing.....

This week:
Kale = 15 oz
Lettuce = 1 lb 10 oz
Chard = 1 lb 8 oz
Garlic = 43 heads (not weighed)
Broccoli - I didn't even weigh that little head I had, but it was tasty!

Annual Total: 14 lb 10 oz
Eggs: 0

6.22.2012

The First Garlic Harvest

We harvested the soft neck garlic. I hope we did it at the right time. Most of the lower leaves had died down to brown, and the top leaves were still green but flopping over and turning brown at the tips. It looked like I was thinking it should, and the cloves look really good, so we shall see. Out of the 46 Lorz Italians planted, we got 43 heads. So, a loss of only 3 is pretty darn good in my book, especially since we've never grown it before. Some of the heads a really really little, but that's OK, I will still use them! I have them all laying out on a big piece of plywood with a fan hanging up in the garage to cure. I am super excited to pull the hard neck varieties out because they just look so darn BIG! They just don't look like they are ready to harvest yet... maybe a couple more weeks....

For storage, I will probably put them into braids and hang them somewhere in the basement... I will have to make sure my dehumidifier keeps going like, every day, other wise the braids will probably get moldy. Not good!

Now, questions.... How long do they need to cure for? How do I know they are done? How do I get all that dirt off?

6.21.2012

Thwarting Cat Attacks

This morning, we heard the most gawd-awful chicken sounds.... And then Punkin was running, and I mean RUNNING to the back window to see what was going on. There was one of the neighborhood cats stalking our chickens. The chickens must have noticed it because they were huddled in a corner together and making the loudest noises I have heard from them yet. We chased the cat off, but I know he will be back. The cats around here have figured out that we have little chickens and not Big chickens... They have been in the yard almost everyday for the last week. I know the last girls we had would fight off the cats. Heck, they pestered the hell out of the groundhog when she came into the yard. But these ones are still little and an easy snack. Damn those cats! (Sorry Carolyn)

However, I am pleased to say that after a week (I really haven't been counting) the chickens know me as food. Like, serious food. Meal worms to be exact. Little One loves me! At least I am telling myself that. I can now walk into the back yard, she runs up to me and checks out my hand as it moves down to pick her up, and then she sits quietly in my arms for a few minutes until she realizes I don't have any worms at the moment and starts peeping like, "Hey! What the devil?! Where are my treats?!" And then I set her down and she follows me until I give her something to munch on. I know hug a chicken every day :)

Now, the weird thing... Not bad since the compost pile is growing because of it, but they just do NOT eat kitchen scraps. I keep setting stuff out, they will look at, peck it to check it out, and then walk away. My old Girls used to go INSANE for kitchen scraps. I just don't get it... Maybe these girls need to grow more so that their pallets can mature and appreciate kitchen scrap goodness....
Left Profile of Little One

"This is my better side"

Little One, Blackie, Big Red, Blondie (We are soooo original with names this time around)

They really will perch anywhere

They perch even on flat things...

6.19.2012

If I Needed An Excuse To Clean Out My Refrigerator...

So, of course, during the hottest week of the month, and us having no air conditioning, the refrigerator HAS to break. Right?! Yeah... It started making this weird clicking and buzzing noise... Hubby diagnosed it on the internets, and is off the the appliance parts store. Hopefully we don't have to replace the thing. Because honestly, I would rather have new couches than a new fridge. And I LOVE my fridge. It has the perfect storage capacity, doesn't have all kinds of drawers and nooks, just plain simple shelving. A nice cold simple box. With a bottom freezer. Oy vay....

Dang It!!!

**Update** I had this post scheduled to go out tomorrow, but screw it. I will just tell you how it turned out. Hubby got back from the parts store and they told him it wasn't worth it. Replacing the parts MIGHT give us a 50% shot of making it work again. So we went out and bought a new refrigerator.And some ice to keep our food cold until it is delivered. SO, now I am drinking wine with leftover ice and we are going out to dinner. Gawd its hot!!!!

It's Gonna Be A Hot One!

The temps this week are supposed to get up into the mid 90's, which is pretty hot for us here in the mid-west. I am just thankful may rain barrels are chock full of water! Yes, I will keep talking about them every chance I get until I am sick of hearing the words "rain barrel." Sorry.

Anywho, I am thankful for the rain and the water in storage because everything is finally recovering really really well from the groundhog attacks. The cucumbers don't seem to want to climb up, so I am resorting to trying them so they don't smother my eggplants. And speaking of eggplants, I don't know what in the heck if going on... They keep growing new leaves and all, but the aren't growing up, they are growing out. Like bushes... Eggplant bushes. I can't figure it out! Everything else seems to be doing well... Except the peppers. They too are not really growing. The bed they are in did not get the same ammendments as the rest of the garden, so maybe that has something to do with it. I really have no idea. Whatev! So here are some pics. These are before the rains, so just imagine everything bigger :)
Tomato Basil Alley is growing along nicely

Amish Paste flowers

despite the close up, this basil is still really little... just planted it a few days ago

The lone head of broccoli after the groundhog attacks... It is about the size of lemon

But I still have hope for my purple sprouting broccoli (blogger not accepting edited photos)

cabbages recovering nicely post GA (again, darn you blogger!)

There we go, the brassica bed

Brussel Sprouts... I gotta get some more DE on these

Stunted peppers... Although, they do look better after the rains

I replanted the beans that the Old Chickens dug up and ate...

6.18.2012

Harvest Monday

First off, thanks to Daphne for hosting Harvest Monday! So lets get to it then... This week I cleaned out the pea bed since everything was starting to turn brown, and I ended up getting anoth 1lb 6oz! Woot! I also cleaned up my lettuces sine they were growing on top of each other and this heat was making them bolt. I ended up with 3.5 gallon bags of cleaned lettuce weighing in at 2lb 8oz! We also got a small handful of sour cherries from our tree. Last year, we only got 2 cherries, so I'd say this is a significant improvement! I didn't weigh them, but they sure are cute!

Another thing you could say that I "harvested" was water! We got our second set of rain barrels installed just in time for the big rain. Which was so desperately needed! So in total we can store 330 gallons between the 6 barrels. Awesome! With the rain we got, we ended up with about 240 gallons. This should last us about 8 days of watering. Insane. We used to take that water from the city system and it did no good for the plants. Rain barrels are the greatest frekkin thing ever! All I have to do it figure out how to make the ones next to the house "pretty" which for bright-in-your-face-blue, that is not an easy task. Any suggestions??

This Week: 3lb 14oz
Yearly Total: 10 lb  9 oz
Eggs: 0

Now full and still ugly....

I could make a small, and I mean small, tartlet!

6.17.2012

Beneficial Bugs

First off, Happy Father's Day to all you hard working Papas out there!!!

I don't have any pictures of them, mainly because when I see these little buggers, I don't have my camera handy. However, I am so so so pleased with the increase of beneficial bugs going on this year. I have seen my first few lady bugs (this is the beginning of the third year in this house), praying mantis's, honey bees from the neighbor, other random bees which I don't know the variety (but not carpenter bees thank gawd), and thanks to them and the chickens (the old ones) we don't seem to have much of a pest problem.

Except for the slugs. The other night, we went out to stalk groundhogs, and Hubby ended up slug hunting instead. In a matter of 4 or 5 minutes, he squashed probably 20 slugs. Totally gross. Lately they have been into my brassicas and my hostas. It's really cheesin me off! I put some DE on them in hopes of evading the little slimers.

Oh, and I am happy to announce that the groundhog feasting seems to have subsided (for now, knock on wood) since we wrapped each individual bed in chicken wire. Expensive, annoying, difficult to weed, but at least we will get some kind of harvest out of it. They have been getting into the yard, and I know this because I reset the wood and bricks in their tunnels under the fence every few days, but so far they haven't gotten into beds. I hope it stays that way!

6.13.2012

Punkin Is, Uh... Fat...

So, this is Punkin...
Punkin used to always be a slim 7 pounds, just like her brother and sister. She now weighs about 9... I know because I weighed myself, then weighed again while holding Punk... a gain of 2 pounds a lot for a little kitty... Any suggestions on how to get her to slim down without starving the other two? When she was an only child, it was easy to just set out her allotted food for the day, and when it was gone, it was gone. She just had to deal with it. I tried to get her to play with her laser pointer, but uh, she was just kind o moving her front feet around. Oliver loved it of course, but he isn't the one with a weight problem. Actually he could probably stand to gain a pound. Oy vay... It isn't easy to tell your child she's fat....

Lessons in Frugality #2 - Find A Part Time Job

For those of you that have been following for awhile know that I was really unhappy at my job, which was being a flight attendant. Well, I have officially turned in my notice... And it is weird. But now that the business of quitting is over with, I can tell you about my new job! I have found a part time job working as a nanny for 2 tweenaged boys and their totally awesome parents. I have to make sure they get picked up from camp, make them snacks, make the family dinner (which is totally fun) and make sure the laundry is done. Did I mention the dogs? I also get the pleasure of having 2 gorgeous chocolate labs with me when I am there. They are the sweetest dogs you ever did meet.

This will totally help the income and it gives me plenty of time to do my school work. Which I should totally get back to! Happy Wednesday Everyone!

6.12.2012

Whoops! Harvest Monday!

I didn't link up to Daphne over at Daphne's Dandelions this week because, well, it is Tuesday! Whoops! I've been so busy with chickens and groundhogs lately that I have been neglecting the blog slightly. And the garden. BUT we have been getting our first harvests over the last couple of weeks, so here they are! Lettuce, garlic scapes, and peas. Peas Peas Peas! I love peas! I want to grow like, 5 times as much next year. Where will I put it? I have no flippin clue.
1 pound of lettuce this week! I have never really been able to actually grow lettuce very well, so I am very proud!
4 lb, 3 oz so far of peas... One more harvest to go!
Scapes! Finally! The total harvest has been about 1.5 pounds... I have way more than this picture shows. I think I am going to do a scape pesto with all of my extra....
Garden Total: 6 lb 11 oz
Eggs: 0

And of course I can't leave you without seeing a truly adorable picture of sleepy chickens...

6.10.2012

There Is a Reason They Are Called Chickens and Not Braves....

The new girls are soooooo scared of me! I hate it! I am used to even the mere sound of me waking up, walking down the back stairs, and opening the back door making my girls run for me. I know it will take time for them to get acclimated, but geez, I just want to hug a chicken. I hugged a chicken every day for the last couple of years and I am in chicken hug withdrawal. And the other thing that is weird about these girls... They wont eat the kitchen scraps. I harvested some lettuce yesterday, and tossed the remains into the run for them to snack on. Nothing, nada, zilch. They didn't even seem curious about it. Guess all those scraps will actually make it into the composter... Freakin weird...

Tomorrow, trekking to the urban farm store to stock up on meal worms and other chicken goodies. Hopefully soon they will realize that Tiny Gardener = Treats!

And the other thing... They won't go into the coop. When I went out to check on them last night, they were all huddled into a corner of the run sleeping between the chicken wire and the feeder. I moved the feeder into the coop, and so far only 2 of them have been brave enough to check it out. Little One was even sleeping in there for a minute. (Did you notice that? yeah... they will probably get some sort of names... bad gardener! bad!)


6.09.2012

The New Ladies Of the Homestead

Dorothy, Rose, and Blanche went into retirement off in the country to eat bee-killing moths and snakes and bugs and mice and grass and whatever come along. Chicken Man Kevin was super-duper nice. I kind of was doubting this whole, I will let your chickens live thing, until he said "Wow, you raised really nice birds. Do you want me to pay you for them?" I said no, of course not since he was giving me 4 chickens and I gave him 3. I also bought some honey off of him. Oh, and he made fun of me when as I cried letting the Girls out of the plastic crates. Yeah, I am even crying as I type this. There is no way I could have eaten those Girls. Yeah, I am such a sissy!!!

Before you see the pictures, I have to tell you about this place. This guy is out in Oberlin (Im pretty sure only Allison will know where that is) and he has MANY acres, about 50 bee hives, 15 or so turkeys, and tons of chickens. They all just roam around free, eating bugs and scratching. It was soooooo cool. I hope to have a place like that some day. Only on a much, MUCH smaller scale. When I drove up, all the little chicks and growing chickens came flocking. And when I got out of the car, oh the peeping! So darn cute! Although once I got into the back yard, and REALLY saw the chickens, and they all came running over, mouths open, wings spread, it was kind of like getting swarmed by tons of miniature velocoraptors via Jurassic Park. 

So anyways, here are the new ladies of our little urban homestead (with no names)... A Barred Rock, RI Red, Easter Egger (I forgot the actual name for them), and a Golden Buff. The Buff is much littler than the others, but it was the biggest one he had. They seem to get along though. They are so little and cute!



Oh, and I also got one last picture of Blanche, doing what she did best... Eating eggs instead of laying them...


6.07.2012

I Found An Out!!!

So, I took a chance on calling a chicken breeder/beekeeper on craigslist to see if he would be willing to do the deed to my chickens or if he knew someone who would. He said he would not do it because it is so gross, and the guy he knows only does large orders, like 50 or more. BUT he said he would be willing to trade some younger chickens for our older chickens!!! The Golden Girls will live on! And I don't have to do the guts and stuff!

Anyways, he is about 45 minutes away, easy peasy, and he said he likes to keep the older chickens around because they eat the bad bugs and keep his bees happy! Holy cow I am so freakin happy!!!!

6.06.2012

I Am Such A Sissy

So, no one ever told me that when I got into raising chickens for eggs that uh, they would get old and stop. Did any of the stuff I read tell me that? Not in so many words... So now it has come to the point where my chickens really are pretty much done laying. They are almost 3 years old now, and the eggs that we are getting have very frail shells, and the point of this is, is that they are not earning their keep anymore.

The easy thing to do would be to kill them and just do this myself, but uh, I am a sissy. That and I have absolutely no idea what I am doing... Does anyone know of any small scale poultry processors in NE Ohio?? I would really love to pay someone to just take care of my problems, but I would also love to not have to drive 3 hours to get to such a person. I would be willing to drive like, uh, and hour and a half?

Oy vay, if only I knew how to do this... And if I wasn't such a damn sissy....

6.03.2012

Farm Weekend

So, this weekend, I was finally able to get all of my squash and pumpkin seeds in the ground. The dirt was tilled up sooo nicely, I could just stick the seeds in and go. Easy Peasy! Our goal was to lay down black plastic between the rows to suppress the grass and weeds and field flowers. I really should have done this before I planted the seeds.... Lesson well learned for next year. I needed to get a total of 6 rows of plastic down.... I only got 2 done before I ran out of logs to hold the wood down.

Now the solution would be to find lots of wood or something to hold down the plastic. I found some, only it was after I had gotten all cleaned up. And I found this wood because I found this little thing!
That is my little niece  Shelby playing with the new barn cat, Kitty. I can't really think of anything else to call her at the moment, so that will probably stick. But anyways, I was pulling logs out of the overgrown grass, and there she was! I probably would have brought her home with me, but she is most definitely pregnant as well. Her body is way too little for her to have a belly this size. So soon, we will have LOTS of barn cats. I will need to look up the county's spay and release program. I love barn cats, but I don't want hundreds of inbred ones either. So I ran to the little grocery store and picked up some bowls, cat food, and a big jug of water (since we don't have any running water at the farm) and filled her bowls up really full. We will only be going down there every couple of weeks, at most, and I don't want her to run away.  She is pretty clean too... I didn't see any fleas, just burrs and dirt. Her ears could use a good cleaning, but I don't think she shows any signs of mites. All in all, she is very healthy, if not just skinny. She could stand to gain some weight, especially since she is gonna be a mommy soon.




I guess I should probably include a picture of the farm since that's what this post was originally about...
The plastic you see there is the portion that my FIL planted with canteloupes. Our portion is at the top of that little ridge, but I didn't take a picture of it since it looks, well, like dirt....