Friday, April 18, 2014

Morse Code

Deep in the heart of a wildberry pink guest room, a secret society of small, active yellow feathered creatures participate in a mysterious ritual.  Daily, they gather as a group to tap out obscure messages, for endless hours, communiques aimed at...who?  Ancient alien beings in another dimension? Wood lice living in the floorboards?  We may never know, but certainly, their motivations must be suspect.

What are they doing?

Why all the hammering? And peeping? Just...why?  They are soooo ridiculously noisy!  It's enough to drive you nutso.

That may, perhaps, be their entire motivation.  To  I feel like the Grinch when he bemoans the noise, oh the noise!  Tingtookas ring-tinging have nothing on these little monsters.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

No Dig? No Way.

  Oh my.  Doesn't this garden look decadent?  I've been pondering how to tackle the weedy mess that became of my gardens.  Perhaps I will just top the mess with a thick layer of compost and call it good?  I dunno...seems too easy, but still, I like the idea of it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Signs of Spring

Inside the house, the living room is filled with the smell of growing plants and damp dirt.  Outside, the Walking Onions and chives are sending out new green sprouts.  Everywhere you look, there are pots and tubs and trays filled with little plants and damp peat moss.

The cats love it.  They keep wanting to nibble everything, or give the dirt a nice, cozy dig.

The weather has turned chilly again, but it looks like next week we should be over the hump and well on our way to warm spring temperatures.  I have a long holiday weekend ahead of me, starting tomorrow afternoon, so I plan to spend time outside starting the clean up process.  The dog yard needs attention, as does the very weedy back garden and hoop house.  I think a run to the hardware store and greenhouse supply shop are on the menu--leaf compost and T-Posts are firmly on the shopping list this year.  I also need to repair a couple of gate hinges, and install something to keep the overly-licky Wonderdoodle away from the rabbits.  He really likes to snuffle up through the trellis and lick them...great for him, terrifying for the bunnies.

I also need to research making homemade egg dye from vegetables.  I think it should be easy enough, I just need to get my proportions correct before I have my little gardeners try it out at Youth Garden Club tomorrow afternoon.  It's still too wet to go out and work on our garden plot, so we'll be indoors dyeing eggs and making radish & carrot seed tape.  Man, I really hope I get an extra pair or two of helping hands...I have visions of multi-colored flour paste coating every surface before we are done.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Temporary Greenhouse

The onions and cabbages have been moved out to the porch, which warms up during the day very nicely.  at night, though, the temperature drops and while it doesn't freeze, it does get nippy.  While both onions and members of the cabbage family do well with cool temperatures, these particular beauties have been they are teensy bit sensitive. 

Until the weather cooperates and allows me to plant these guys outdoors, I've rigged up a pseudo-greenhouse made from leftover 4 mil plastic, some staples, and a handy wire kennel divider (to keep the cat from sleeping on the onions again).  During the warm sunny days, I roll back the plastic.  And then at night, when it gets colder, I roll the plastic back up.  Tah dah!  Simple and effective, and somewhat cat proof.

Monday, April 14, 2014


With spring weather finally arriving, it was time to set out the potatoes and let them get ready for planting.  I had a stash of small potatoes that had started going to seed in the late winter, so I took them out of their baskets and started chitting.

Chitting is an easy process.  You simply take your seed potato and place it in an egg carton, with the little "eyes" or rooting buds pointing upwards.  As you can see, my eyes had started sprouting already.  Left in the dark, the new growth will grow long and lanky and weak, and it won't work to plant the potatoes out.  So, by taking them out of the dark and into the light on the porch, my potatoes will sprout happily (and slowly) for the next couple of weeks until the soil warms enough to plant them.

 I've got lots of Carola potatoes, and one half-carton of German Butterball.  I love both of these potatoes. They have great flavor, and are fantastic keepers.  With any luck, I'll have a successful growing year and have plenty more when next fall's harvest rolls around.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Major Award

So last weekend, I received a rather exciting email.  Several weeks prior, I had entered a Grow Your Homestead contest held by Storey Books.  I wrote a very short essay on what I do here on the Farmlette, and what I would do with the prizes should I win them.  I'm sure hundreds of people submitted entries, so imagine my surprise when I was picked as the Grand Prize Winner!  I felt a little like the dad in A Christmas Story, when he comes in waving a telegram and shouting "I won! I won! I won!"

It may not be a leg lamp, but I love my new potting bench.  I've wanted one for-evah, and now, I have one.  I also won ten books from Storey, which I have added to the Little Free Library...well, I'm currently reading The Backyard Goat, so that will go in later (ha!)  If the books and potting shed weren't wonderful enough, I also won $200 in gift cards to Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply.  I plan to purchase some much-needed bamboo canes for myself, and then treat the Community Garden to something...maybe a collection of useful hand tools? Or a trimmer or a spade, or something?  I can hardly wait to peruse the catalogs and figure out what fun things I get to order.

I was waiting to announce my lucky win until I heard from the PR person at Storey, but since I got my loot delivered on Friday, I suppose I can announce my major award.  I've also been named their Homesteader of the Year, which is such an honor.  I'm sure there are other folks out there who do more than I do, but I'm happy to pay the goodwill forward!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Finally, Friday!

What a week.  It wasn't terrible, just long and relentless...between work schedule madness and the sudden appearance of spring, it was a combination of long days, lots to do once I got home, and general silliness of projects, animals, and fresh spring air.  And boy, am I glad it's Friday.

Not that I have big plans for my weekend, of course.  Mostly, sleeping in, possibly afternoon naps, some baking, a little knitting.  You know, the usual.  Sometime in there I need to harvest a couple of rabbits, clean the Bunny Barn, and move the weaned kits to their own roomy cages.  Poor Ophelia will be glad to have her digs back.  When I went in to give her water the other morning, she had two kits on her back and one was attempting to sleep on her head.  She was wearing that long-suffering mother look, but gamely tolerating her offsprings' whims.  I think its time for them to move out, though--four weeks is plenty, and they are happily eating and drinking on their own now, so they can hop on over to an adjoining cage.  It'll be nice to putter in the Bunny Barn, as its supposed to rain.  I love the sound the raindrops make on the roof, and the smell of rain will be so very welcome after this long, long winter.

This picture in this post is from a collection that the preschoolers drew for the visiting chicks, to decorate their tub brooder.  I just love them--they are incredibly cute, and so joyful.  A chick and her girl, now that says happy spring to me!