Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Measuring Up

It's that time of year. When the kids have ants in their pants and they're ready for the learnin' to be over. Even homeschoolers have field day.

A day to forget the books, blow off steam and have some fun.

Of course field day wouldn't be complete without water balloons.

It's the time of year to reflect back and think about how much we've learned and how far we've come. Homeschoolers don't have generalized tests to measure a child's progress. We don't need them. We just don't move forward until the concept is mastered. We know what they know. We see the progress every day. If something doesn't stick we go over it again. Practice. Practice. Practice.

Thinking back I know we've accomplished a lot this year. Unfortunately, it seems we're going to have to go back over that little concept called reading. *sigh*

If I only had a nickle for every dish I've had to remove...

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Plethora of Peony

It's not only the official state flower of Indiana, it's also one of my favorites. Something the original owner and I share in common. Mrs. Kurtz left us a beautiful legacy of peonies. Lots and lots of peonies. Here are samples of what's in bloom this week.

And my absolute personal favorite, which I consider an "antique pink", below. Not in full bloom yet, maybe tomorrow.

Thank you Mrs. Kurtz.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mr. Hospitality

Miss Polly and her little ladies made their debut out in the run this week.

At first Old Jack was fine with it. In fact I swear he perked up and said "Hubba, hubba!" under his breath. That is until he spotted the babies.

Jack didn't like the babies at all.

He said "This ain't no stinkin' day care, this is the Playboy coop! Get those babies out of here."

I reminded him I didn't have much room left for chickens. The babies had to go somewhere. Then I fanned myself with a copy of my Betty Crocker cookbook. (I might have just happened to have it open to the fried chicken recipe.) And the next thing you know...

Me: "Where you going Jack?"

Jack: "I'm going to build a jungle gym."

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sheepless Nights

Does it seem like it's taking FOREVER for it to be time to pick up our new lambs or is it just me?

I've read where having lighting in the barn lot reduces predation by about 90%. We really needed some outdoor light anyway, I mean it's so dark out here even the boogyman gets a little freaked out by it. So viola, behold a light on a pole. And if you look closely there's also an outdoor outlet for a tank heater if needed. And here's the kicker....

they actually WORK.

I know you're sitting there scratching your head thinking "What's the big deal?" Well, had you been here during the Great Outdoor Strobe Light Adventure you would know. You would understand that after that experience with a certain electrician I'm eternally grateful to the new guy. Cause the old guy took more than 10 trips to try to hook up a security light on our garage. TEN TRIPS to install a light fixture.

It always seemed to be working while he was here (0r so he said), but at night, when it would get dark, when you would actually want the light to function it would switch it's self to psychedelic strobe mode. The bats thought they'd flown into a 70's disco. It went on for months. I finally felt so bad for the guy I told him just to install one of those lights with the motion sensor and call it done. And you know what? You have to walk up to that light, jump up and down, flap your arms and scream at it before it comes on. I feel very secure.

So yeah, outdoor lighting that works as it should all by itself is a wonder to behold around here. And if the day ever comes when we FINALLY have sheep, they'll be safer and I'll sleep better at night.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Kid Quilts Workday

My quilt guild donates quilts for kids to the pediatric unit at a nearby hospital. Today nine of us gathered at the library to assemble some of this years quilts.

The quilts are quick and easy. A couple of the gals that chair this committee already had kits made up for us which made them even easier. Some of us worked on piecing the tops, some on piecing together scraps of batting, some worked on layering and others on finishing the sandwiching. It was a regular sweat shop assembly line. One of the gals has a long-arm at home so she'll be quilting them before they are delivered to the hospital.

I started out trying to take pictures of them all, but ended up getting engrossed in what I was working on and forgot all about my camera. Here is the first one I did. The panels are adorable with farm animals. Just added striped borders and called it done.

This one with race cars and flame fabric is perfect for a little boy. It was layered with a black and white checkerboard print on the back.

Super bright robot panels with bright solid borders. Super cute. I wish I had a nickle for every time we said something was cute today.

I loved the scrappy, I spy-like quilts we made.

Lots of stuff to spy.

They claimed this hexagon one was easy. I think they're fibbing. They gave me the pattern. We shall see about how easy it is.

The Quilts of Valor committee had their quilts on display in the main hall of the library. They were stunning. But I think with my skill level I'll just stick with the kid quilts committee for a while. (I think I just heard the QoV committee chair just let out a sigh of relief.)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Now What?

Would someone pleeaase tell me how NOT to fall head over heals in love with this cute, little bugger? I'm afraid he's a boy. I don't have room for any more boys.

We may need to build another coop...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Gardening With No Garden

Last year after the chickens stole my garden plot I tucked a few tomato plants in with my flowers. A few is not enough. I want enough tomatoes to can up a batch or two. This year I'll be tucking tomatoes into every nook, crannie and vessel that even resembles a pot to plant things in. I figure it will be the great tomato experiment. I have seven varieties, Brandywine, Early Girl, Big Boy, Celebrity, La Roma II, another Roma which I can't remember and a Juliet grape. One way or the other I'll be putting up tomatoes this year. Even if they all croak and I have to buy them at the farmer's market I'm canning tomatoes this year.

I'll stuff in a few peppers and some cabbage while I'm at it. Maybe grow some beans on a few trellises. I'm pretty sure the original owners here used to do the same because I've found chives and other edibles tucked in all over the flower beds. Other than that we'll have to rely on harvesting the fruits and berries around here. We have the materials to make some beautiful raised beds but we have too many projects going on all at once. I don't think we'll be able to get them finished in time for planting, but at least we now have a plan for where everything will go.

If you look at an old plat map from the 70s it's easy to see where the original orchard was. Now there is only one poor old deformed apple tree left. And where the other trees were there is now a septic system. It's also where the sheep shack now resides. So I've decided to move the orchard and the garden.

We'll be planting semi-dwarf trees this weekend on the North end of the property. Two apples, Granny Smith and Jonathan. Then an Elberta peach and a Harrow Delight pear. The kid was all excited about getting the Granny Smith tree. It may be be a few years before he gets much out of it. I think I'll wait until after he helps dig the holes to share that little tidbit. I'd hate to squelch his enthusiasm before the work is done.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake

I was supposed to have a vegetable garden last year. It was supposed to be right next to the chicken coop. And the northern part of the coop was supposed to be my garden shed. Complete with a potting bench. It was a good plan. Instead I ended up with a flock of scurvy pirates living where my garden should have been. Not to worry though. I thought they would simply fertilize the area for me and I would be able to reclaim the plot this year.

But instead I ended up with a one-eyed rooster that didn't get along with all the other chickens. Old One-Eyed Calico Jack needed a safe place to live. I felt sorry for Jack 'cause well, he is disabled an all. So I gave up my garden shed and made it comfortable for him. Then Jack needed ladies. He also needed a place to hang out with and show off for the ladies. So my garden spot was converted to a swingin' bachelor pad. Once again, I have no place to plant my vegetables.

Me: What have you got to say for yourself Jack?

Jack: "Let them eat cake instead."

Me: "Or how about fried chicken?"

Jack: "Heh, heh, heh that's a good one.


It was a good one right?

(still quiet)

You were just kidding?

(not a word)


Monday, May 4, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

Working our tails off just to keep up with the yard work. Picking up a few needed supplies for the barn project. And watching the babies grow. It's a busy time of year. But I love it.

I did take a little break one evening and started reading The Backyard Homestead. If you're only going to have one gardening/chicken raising/homesteading kind of book this is it. I buy a lot of books then turn around and resell them. I'll be keeping this one.

I'm off to do more weeding...

Friday, May 1, 2009

Kissing Cousins

My nephews have come for a sleepover. It's always a fun experience. They are ruff and tumble boys that's for sure.

This is Geo. He's my favorite cat of all time. (just don't tell Ethel I said that) He's very laid back. Laid back but curious enough to get himself into all sorts of predicaments. He's had about 9,000 lives.

You really have to keep your eye on him. Ethel doesn't take her eyes off either one of them. If you said she hates her cousins with every ounce of energy in her soul it would be an understatement.

Especially Mr. Loki here. I tried to videotape her blood curdling warning howls for you but the video recorder's batteries were dead. Lucky you. Cause it really is blood curdling and I'm not sure how long you would live with curdled blood.

It always precedes the "you're getting too close, this is your final warning" hiss.

Which Loki apparently just considers an invitation.

I don't think he was trying to kiss her.