Monday, July 27, 2009

Six little Chickies!

"By the end of the summer I'm gonna get some chickens! You watch!" Yes those were my determined words I repeated for the past few months. My family had 4 chickens when I was a teenager and I had some back in the day down south about 20 birds of everything from a ridiculous sized leghorn to tiny black bantams that looked like fluffy balls. My favorite being a "classic" rooster who was despite a handicap incurred from cock fights (he was rescued) had earned the name "Manhore" for as the name states loved all the hens. That rooster wasn't scared of anything! But it has been a good 7 years or so since I've had the pleasure of my own flock to fuss over. So despite the cards being stacked against me in a way, I have been on a mission to have my bitty egg layers. Searching craigslist everyday for weeks I'd watch and reply to anyone who posted ads with chickens. Just over a week ago my persistence paid off. A couple was looking for a home for 6 "soon too lay" chickens. I replied and to my disappointment it was a no go, someone else had first dibs. Not too long later I received a call, the birds were mine! My "always there when ya need her" Mom was there to assist in the retrieval. They only cost me $10 for all six. Yes I know a total steal, I kinda feel like I rescued the lil' gals. Their living conditions left a bit to be desired. Although it's taken me time to get them totally settled, their new home is on it's way to being quite cozy. No names yet as I can't tell them apart very well. They're this years birds, in other words for the chicken illiterate, "teenagers". With a proper diet they should have no trouble at all laying by fall. I'm fairly certain they're Rhode Island Reds although part of me suspects they may be Red Stars since they have specks of white but that could also be because their young. Either way great layers and brown eggs! The gals are fairly calm and always looking for a hand out! No problem picking them up although they love pecking jewelry! They are in a pen actually a dog kennel. I'm building the coop this week. Until then it's kind of a makeshift roost. We can't have free range for obvious reasons so we'll have a bit more work making sure they get plenty of greens everyday. So now the wait begins for that first egg! I can't forget to mention the neighbors have a free range rooster that greets us every morning when he thinks the suns coming up!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Look Blueberries Mommy!

Jocelyn was in blueberry heaven yesterday! We as in James, Jocelyn, Ariana, Mer Mer (my cousin), and I went to a local pesticide free blueberry farm. see it here! Talk about an excited little girl! She loves them so much they made her sick a few weeks back because she ate so many. But that didn't stop her, "More blueberries mommy?" We were only there for an hour and a half because we had other pressing responsibilities but it was plenty of time to pick a good amount. I intend to go back again without Jocelyn so I can pick faster and stock up for winter and hopefully again this weekend with her so she can enjoy them again. Our favorite thing to do with them is freeze them and eat them as a snack. Of course in our pancakes, too.
My gardening obsession kicked in and now I want a dozen bushes of my own. I can't help it! Unfortunately our property needs a lot of work before it would be fertile enough for that. So in the mean time maybe a few potted ones?
As we were leaving I spotted this luna moth hanging out on the side of the

check out the farm here! 

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Smiling Wind

Have you ever just stopped to watch the wind? Not just listen but watch. Earlier today I was sitting in the yard with Ariana and noticed she was intently watching a leaf skipping across the yard. Funny how she was so intrigued at only three months old. You really should try it sometime...sit outside and use all you senses...feel it, smell it, hear it, taste it, let it move you. Come to think of it, I think that's some therapy thing. It's true that just being outdoors changes you. Lifts your spirits, calms you and acts as a perfect harmony. Try it at night and it's even more exciting, then your senses really heighten.

The clothes on the line swinging in the breeze just takes you back to when life was simpler. Not to mention the energy saved! I'm still using my make shift clothesline but it serves it's purpose. Only problem is I can only get one load on at a time. Really need to get the proper lines up. (Hint Hint Hubby!) LOL! Guess I'll be going to borrow a post hole digger tomorrow. Yea ME!

Hanging the clothes out is like therapy to me, don't know why. I just feel good doing everything the "Simple" way. Not the simple way your thinking...throw 'em in the dryer. Yes physically that's simple but it's not simple in terms of environmental impact. Ya know...back to nature! There is no better way than utilizing the heat and bleaching power of the sun and the slightest stir of wind to dry your clothes. Don't want stiff laundry coming off the line? Pour some Vinegar in the rinse cycle and they wont get "crunchy". A nice constant breeze helps too. Ta ta for now!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Socks & Festivals

Who doesn't love a fun hobby or craft to keep them busy? I've been doing craft shows and festivals for quite a few years now. Nearly every weekend somewhere we'd load up early in the morning, coffee in hand and set up for a eventful weekend. If I wasn't by myself I was with my mum-in-law. Little church and firehouse shows to the "ya don't get in unless you're good" to the strictly judge and handmade to my favorite...3 day long Palmerton Festival that I only got my own spot because the "jelly" lady passed away! Bless her soul. This past year I had to cut back since the lil' ones have me much too busy to craft 24/7. So I dropped out of all the shows but Palmerton Festival, of which I will never give up until I reach the same end as our blessed jelly lady. There's just something about that festival that makes you giddy. Ya talk about it all year, meet people ya didn't know lived down the street, and of course the profits make it well worth the exhausting 3 days of no sleep. You could sleep, although you probably go home each night trying to fill custom orders and restock. Maybe it's just me (and the mum-in-law) but it's the one time during the year I look forward to as much as Christmas. Why? It's so fun! A mass of crafters selling everything from "granny" doilies, nuts & bolts jewelry, stained glass, quilted everything, and of course "funky sock monkeys"! The smell of every food vendor in the area along with local church ladies yummy treats. Small town bands, silly rides, and socializing with young and old. Mind you I am one of the youngest crafters there with the exception of the "head crafters" daughter who makes beautiful jewelry. It's a family event that really ends the summer with a bang!
I've always loved creating things, it's rewarding and satisfying. Tinkering with this and that... "can I make something out of this?" Last year I expanded my usual hemp jewelry and displayed a few other handcrafted goodies. I appeal to the younger crowd since the majority of the other crafters are much older and their goods appeal to well frankly the "old folks". Why would I want five different toilet paper covers? (Okay be nice!)

Sock monkeys make everyone smile! Come on their adorable! I made some sock horses too but I had come up with those at the last minute so only made a few. I think I've perfected them this year at least to my taste. I sold out of them last year so fast my table looked horrible by Saturday at noon.
My hemp jewelry is just that hemp jewelry. Little of this a little of that. All cool! The soda tab jewelry rocked...bracelets were the best bet....chokers did okay. I'm a bit of a green freak so recycled stuff is right up my alley! My sling rings were inspired by a local mom I chased down in the park a couple years ago and begged her to tell me where she go it. She had made it. So hey why not, I mastered a pattern all my own and there ya go. A lady even bought one to carry her little dog in...funny. My AIO (all-in-one) cloth diapers are a hit with eco-conscience moms and I picked up a few orders.

So this year, who knows, I have a few new ideas to change things up but for the most part I want to keep it simple. That's my thing...practical, recycled, fun, and unique. So less than two months to get stocked and ready for that early morning! I've got a great spot that I don't intend to give up and some great memories to make.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tires & Potatoes

Any one up for potatoes? So I though this year I'd try my hand at potato gardening. It's really quite simple but as far as how well it works I've yet to find out. After doing my homework and doing lots of research online, I'm giving it my best shot. A used tire potato garden....

First off you need ...
  • Potato sets
  • Soil & Manure

  • Straw

  • Used tires

That's basically it. The basic concept is to plant your potatoes in the base tire and as it grows cover it with straw and continue to stack tires.

I started off with two pounds of potato sets. The morning before planting I cut them into pieces with a sprout or two on each piece and set them out to dry a bit.

After I had prepared the area by pulling grass and setting the first layer of tire, then I partially filled three of the tires with the soil and manure. The other two I left empty wanting to try growing the potatoes with no dirt at all. I set the potato pieces in the first three tires down in the soil and covered them lightly then placed a layer of clean dry straw over them. The other two tires I filled half way with straw, placed the potatoes and covered with more straw. Then after a good soaking with the garden hose all that was left to do was wait.

About a week or so later BAM....those little guys in the first three tires were up and growing. The others were slow going but a few days later all five tires were filled with beautiful little potato plants. The key is not to expose the root or spuds to light by keeping them covered with straw. Similar to the old row planting method and building up the sides of the rows with straw as the plant grew. The extra perk with the tires is they act as a hot bed, extend your growing season, grow vertically and make harvesting super easy. Just knock the pile over and pick nice clean potatoes!

Now as they've grown I've been stacking tires and filling them with only straw, watering when it doesn't rain and watching for critters. So far so good. Will we be successful and have tons of home grown red potatoes?

I'll keep y'all updated with our progress. Not really sure how long this takes but that's why it's an experiment. Of all the stuff I've read on it, no one really showed the end product. You can get your tires free most places considering they usually charge to dispose of them so your saving the tire guys money. Sounds like a win win situation!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Rambling Strawberries

Well here we are... becoming one of those crazy bloggers. Not that I wasn't one before in way, just my personal ramblings in a notebook. So I've decided to share some with the world. I figured way back when that I'd take all my ramblings and put together a book. Someday I hope to pass it on to my kids, since by then I'll probably forgotten most of what I want them to know! LOL! Can't say I'll get to this everyday but hopefully with a little inspiration I can at least get to it once a week.

Gardening is my true passion, well along with a half a dozen other things but it's really the one thing I can spend all day doing and never tire of. It's so satisfying and you always discover something new and unusual. So on Mothers Day my only request was to go to Lowes. I came home with some gardening hardware and a $10 strawberry plant that was already in full bloom. Jocelyn helped me plant it in a large pot along with a $1 rescue that was headed for an untimely trip to the compost. A good mix of horse manure, rotted hay, and soil had our new garden addition quite happy. Now a month or so later it's gotten so big and has multiplied with tons of baby plants I had to start a bed for them. I consulted with a friend of ours that has plenty of experience with a large organic farm. So today I built a raised bed with the never ending supply of boulders and rock around the property, filled it with the same combination I used for the momma plant. Jocelyn helped fill the bed while I snipped off the baby plants and prepared them for planting.

Jocelyn is certainly learning well. Apparently my green thumb is growing on her and my obsessive "tree hugging". She even says "bye bye trees" when we leave the great outdoors for lunch!

So it's ta ta for now.... I'll be posting the progress of our tire grown potatoes this week sometime hopefully.