Saturday, June 11, 2011

Weeds, weeds, and more weeds!

I have a long, narrow flower bed for annuals between the front porch and a sidewalk that leads to the driveway. I planted it with purple petunias back in May and now I just can't keep the weeds out. It is completely crazy. The weeds pop up like someone sprinkled the whole area with weed seeds. I scrape them off and the next day they are back again. After a few weeks of that I decided I needed to take stronger action. I didn't really want to put landscape fabric down, since that area is for annuals, but I knew if I just put cypress mulch, the weeds would just grow through. I ended up doing the same thing I did in part of the garden last week--cover the short weeds with newspaper or paperbags and then put the mulch over top of that. I sure hope it works!

After lunch I did a bunch of hoeing in the garden. The weeds were taking over again. I didn't get a chance to more straw down, but I got a lot of the weeds out and re-planted some places where the seeds hadn't come up (or possible got chopped off by the hoe). It was cool today, but really humid, so I was really sweaty. I ended the task with a washdown and soak in the cool tub. Now I need to get the lower level ready for our guest from Chile who is coming on Wednesday for a week.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Diggin' in the Dirt

We got started on the garden this weekend. I am sorry to say that last fall I did not leave the garden in very good shape. At all. It was filled with weeds. I know I should have covered it with newspaper and manure and mulch for the winter. However I did not and now I have to pay the price. First we mowed all the weekds short. Then we rotatilled. We made the mistake of renting the front tiller because it was cheaper than the back tiller and we figured since we tilled it last year it wouldn't be too hard. We figured wrong. The tiller was very hard to operate even for Josh, so we just tilled it twice and called it good enough. I have to be honest. It's NOT really good enough. I wish I had started a compost pile last year. I could really use some good soil. I am thinking I might try to get some and then just put it on top like a raised bed without sides, especially before I plant the seeds.

I did get some plants in the ground--strawberries, tomatoes, and a pepper plant. I also got 2 more blueberry bushes!

I am planning on starting my compost pile soon. A neighbor has promised to bring me some wooden pallets (skids) from work. Hopefully that will be soon. I can use those to build my compost bin. I have 2 buckets of grass/soil I pulled from a flower bed last week and a can of kitchen scraps ready and waiting. I am also hoping to get some manure-partially decomposed from the neighbor on Friday.

The deer ate my peach tree down to nothing this winter, so I need to replace that when I find a good sale. The apple trees are damaged, but I think they will make it.

I have been hunting for morrels in the woods off and on lately. I haven't found anything yet. The neighbor with the pallets took me last week and stopped by yesterday to show me the huge bag he got from another location. I'm just searching in my back acres.

Last week I also learned more about raising chickens. Sweet Pea's friend's family raises chickens and goats. His father happily showed me the chicken coop and told me all about raising chickens--he said they are almost as easy as goldfish once you have the coop all set up. I am still very interested, but I know it's not time yet. Give me another year to get the gardening and composting worked out. For now I am going to buy my eggs from them.

That family also has fruit trees and was planting their raised bed vegetable garden. The "kids" also raise goats and they have goat's milk for the first time this spring. They said they get about a gallon a day from 1 goat. That's a lot of milk! Josh's dad once rasied goats when he was young and they drank goat's milk. Josh did not like it at all, so I know he's really not likely to go for that idea!

Monday, April 25, 2011

"Doggy" Fence

When my oldest son was a toddler, he was obsessed with farm animals. Everytime we drove past a farm or yard with a fence, he would exclaim, "Horsey fence, Mommy! Horsey fence! Can we go to a farm?" Well, now that he's thirteen, he has his own "horsey fence"--it just hold in dogs instead of horseys! We decided to fence in a portion of the back yard around the deck to allow the dogs room to run freely without taking off into the woods. They really like it out there. We made it pretty large--45'x80' so they can get enough exercise. It does seem to be making a difference. They are much more calm in the house now.

I haven't planted the garden yet. It's been too cold! I cleared out some corn stalks and rocks, but that's been the extent of it. I will wait until May and warmer weather to get going out there. You may remember what happened last year.

Actually I am glad I blogged about the garden last year, so now I can go back and see in advance what problems I had and try to do some avoidance this year. I can try to put something on the fruit trees to keep the tent worms off this spring for example.

Hope everyone's spring is off to a good start. Right now out my window I see Honey dog staring down 4 large deer. I think the deer know the dog is behind the new fence and they like it!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring is on the way!

I can tell spring is on the way because the driveway is muddy and the road is slippery mud and BIG potholes. Actually the road in front of our house is still thick with ice, due to the shade of the trees that line that stretch of road.

I can tell spring is on the way because this week's weather forecast doesn't call for a "Winter Weather Advisory" and has 2 digit numbers that start with a 5.

I can tell spring is on the way because the boys' extra curricular activities are starting to come to a busy end. One more week until the Odyssesy of the Mind competition!

I can tell spring is on the way because we are approaching the 1 year anniversary of our move to the country.

Speaking of the anniversary, I decided to think back on all that we've done over the past year in preparing our country home. Other that the obvious house-building:
  • Created a vegetable garden
  • Planted blueberry bushes
  • Planted red raspberry bushes
  • Planted apple and peach trees
  • Located a major source of blackberries out back
  • Located a source of black raspberries
  • Build shelves and organized a storage room
  • Finished an unfinished basement
  • Prepared for minor emergencies such as power outages

Soon I will have time to plan the next steps. Here are a few things I would like to do this spring and summer:

  • Tile my kitchen backsplash (already started!)
  • Plant the garden again with a few modifications (Can you say fewer cucumbers?)
  • Plant more blueberry bushes
  • Do some landscaping around the house
  • Train the dogs to listen better when off leash in the yard
  • Get some more gravel for the drive way and in the pole barn
  • Quilt a placemat type quilt to put on the top of the washer and dryer in the laundry room
  • Dehydrate fruits and veggies with my new dehydrator
  • Maybe get a pressure canner for my birthday to preserve my harvest!

I think I can do all this--we'll see what else comes up! It sure is fun living in the country!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ice storm and updates.

School was closed today due to an ice storm. Usually teachers love snow days, but honestly, I really need my students in class right now. So many were out sick last week, we are behind schedule. Honestly I won't be surprised if we are off again tomorrow--there are still thousands without power in our county and it's still snowing and very windy. Many of the roads still have a thick layer of ice.

We lost power for a few hours in the middle of the night. It came back on about 5:30 this morning. We didn't have to do anything special to deal with our loss of power other than use my husband's Blackberry to check for school closings. My back-up plan would have been to use the Red Cross emergency weather radio. My mother in law got it for me for Christmas. It is crank-powered and has am/fm and weather bands as well as flashlight and cell phone charger.

I have really worked on emergency preparedness over the last year. We were prepared for a longer power outage, fortunately we were one of those whose power was restored early. We have firewood for the fireplace and 2 back-up generators as well as a supply of gasoline. We have a well stocked pantry and plenty of blankets, warm clothes, candles, flashlights and an oil lamp. It's good to know we'll be ok if the power were to be out for a long time.

I have been making a lot more foods from scratch and eating less processed foods. I am not totally organic and homemade because I work full-time and it's just not reasonable for us. I have packed my lunch every day this school year and all with real food, no Lean Cuisines! The kids have taken lunch from home much more frequently this year than ever before also. We haven't made it everyday, but we've definitely improved! I am really proud of that! It takes organization and planning and if I don't plan ahead, the kids end up with school lunch.

Thanks for stopping by my blog, even though I've been terrible about updating!