Monday, April 30, 2007

I'm still here

I survived Princess' performance week rehearsal schedule!! I have many updates, but will take it one day at a time. I think I have pictures for everything. I should post with consistency for a while.

First, look at the salad produced by my garden. The colors are so rich and diverse. No two lettuce varieties are the same shade. I have tons of salad greens and radishes right now. In a few weeks the lettuce will bolt and Spring crops will be finished, then I will concentrate on beans, peas, corn, melons, and okra.

I will continue to plant lettuce, but the heat of the coming summer will render each planting a short, small-leaved harvest. Jove suggested planting in the shade of the fruit trees. With great hopes I will, because I cannot resist the freshness and color of these wonderful salads.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Parenthood Issues

We have a small problem down on the farm.

About a month ago, I had a hen go broody in the corner of the roosting shed. I let her stay where she was because she was out of the way and safe from predators. A couple of weeks ago, another hen joined her. Unfortunately, she only had the one egg under her. I mistakenly let her stay. Last week, the hen on the right joined them. I was glad this particular hen was out of circulation because her back was getting raw from too much rooster activity, so I mistakenly let her stay.

A few days ago, one of the hens left her eggs to get the corn I threw out and I saw one of the other hens reach over and steal an egg. Now that the eggs are starting to hatch, they are fighting over the chicks. The unhatched eggs are not as well attended as you can see. I disturbed them before this picture so I could count the chicks, but still the eggs should have been popped back under. They weren't.

Later, I went out to gather the last eggs of the day and there was a just hatched chick on the floor. No chicken was warming it. No chicken noticed. Instead they were more worried about the day old chicks that were skittering from one mom to the next while the moms were pecking at each other while herding the chicks away and underneath. I took the forgotten newest chick and put it in an incubator.

Tonight, I chose a mother and took all the chicks and put them in a separate hutch. The other two, if they remain, can concentrate on the last few eggs. I had a friend who had two hens share chicks, but mine don't seem to be able.

Did I mention?

How much I love my house at this time of the year. Well, I do. Sleeping in an open house is like camping with all the amenities. I get to hear all the wonderful night animal sounds; I get to feel the moistness in the air when the dew drops and the air cools; I get to hear the birds wake with song, all while lying on my firm, but not too firm, mattress on my crisp line-dried sheets with my favorite pillow.

Some think I'm out of my mind for living here, but you can't convince me.

Monday, April 23, 2007

We're Expecting Rain

Since we are expecting rain tomorrow, I have spent most of the day planting the "row crops." By row crops I don't mean acres and acres of beans and peas, but I did plant rows. I planted the usual butter beans, pink-eye purple hull peas, and rattle-snake beans. But, I also planted cannellini beans, yellow wax beans, and believe it or not SOY BEANS. I don't know why I thought I needed to plant soybeans because I know I don't have time to learn to make tofu, yet I think it might be fun to try. If I never make tofu, I know that my sister likes to eat edamame like popcorn so I have one user. And, my husband said they would be good protein for the cows. And, they also fix nitrogen so they are good for the soil. Nothing is wasted if you have an extended family and a farm.

Tomato plants, eggplant plants, cucumber seed, yellow squash seeds, zucchini seeds, and patty pan squash seeds were installed. I also planted the dill and basil, the zinnias and the sunflowers. There is still much to be done, but I made a huge start today.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Have you ever . . .

Seen yourself in someone else and not liked what you saw? I did. I've been wanting to write about it for a while, but I suppose I didn't want any of you to think I'm less than fantastic. When I was at the Viking Cooking School, I stood next to someone so like I am (used to be) that I saw myself. We looked nothing alike, but I recognized an expression and attitude that could have been my own a few years ago. O.K., maybe a few months ago. She had that I know everything; you're wasting my time; I'm too good to be here face that made me suck air as I made sure I had a better attitude.

I didn't like what I saw when I looked at myself. I thought of all the time and fun I have sacrificed pretending - setting up the wall around myself to hide my insecurities. I wonder how many friendships I have voided before they started because of that know it all face.

What about you? Have you ever seen yourself?

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Remember that I got sick on Easter. Well, I was apparently contagious. I infected my entire immediate family and have been nursing all week. I think we are well, now. Thankfully, we were all able to cast off the funk quickly. I will wash and line dry everyone's sheets so that we don't have a second dance with the plague.

I will be scarce for the next few weeks because Princess will be spending more time in the city rehearsing ballet, putting our already frenetic schedule into fevered hyperactivity. After the 28th, there will be calm, except for schooling, gardening, canning, and regular work.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

More Southern Spring

Competition among flowering shrubs, trees, and plants is steep in the Southern Spring. Another one of my favorites is the iris. White iris blooms, like the daffodils, at all old homesteads and frequently in ditches where people have thinned and didn't know what to do with the spare rhizomes. Yellow iris and purple iris are also fairly common.

This fancy bronze bearded iris is in front of my mother's house. They used to reside in the side yard by the old pear tree and before that at my grandmother's garden fence. My grandmother had a riotous garden of single species, gifts from gardening friends and purchases of beautiful things. Matching color was no object. Yet, it all seemed to work.

She had a garden inside her house and in the windows of the hardware store of gloxinia, violets, cyclamen, cactus, and anything else that could be rooted from a cutting. I remember her joy at coaxing something into blooming or rooting.

She would have been happy to think her special iris is still blooming in profusion each Spring. Mama wants me to take a few to plant at my old house. I will, for memories. The blooms are not the only special iris trait that produces memories.

Did you know that you can take an iris leaf and, with a stick, write messages or your name on it. You can then fashion bracelets and crowns or you could just leave the leaf attached to the ground to claim your bloom. I spent hours, as a child, sitting with the iris scratching my name and secret messages onto the leaves.

Don't you just love the stalky, pride of these wonderful plants?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I'm expecting a visitor!

I've been expecting a visitor, Addie the Adventure Mouse, for the past few days. She may be waiting at the terminal, as I write. Even though I survived the entire winter without a sniffle or even a snuffle, I spent Easter Sunday in bed with the crud. Though not feeling well, I was able to get my contributions for Easter dinner, a lemon cake and a pesto pasta salad, ready Saturday night. I also took care of my bunny duties. Then, I crawled in bed and didn't move until Monday morning. I didn't get the mail.

So, this morning I will check the station and expect to find Addie waiting to accompany us to ballet rehearsals in the city. After that we will show her true Southern hospitality and some warm weather.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Struggling with Day Light Savings Time

I doubt that the powers that be gave two seconds thought to the by-products of an earlier Day Light Savings Time. In fact, I never thought of consequences. Being the energy conserving maniac that I am, I was excited! Now, I've changed my mind. Every night I struggle to keep a school schedule for bed-time rituals. Yet, the children play longer; we start supper later; we eat later; we go to sleep later. The children wake up later. Starting school before 8:30 (which is our goal) is impossible for children who don't get to sleep until 10 something.

Knowing the struggle of morning, I concentrate more on an early start. Yet, I am affected by the light. I am weak. I want to play longer outside. I want to leisurely prepare dinner. I don't want to sacrifice our reading time.

Since this is Poetry Friday for many of my online friends, I thought I would share a fitting poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. I hope y'all don't mind me playing along.
Bed in Summer

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candlelight.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people's feet
Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?
Honestly, I am so happy my children don't have a school bus to catch.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

A change of color

Do you remember that picture I posted in October of the field of rye grass? This is that same field. Now, Instead of looking neon green, it has a cloak of red. After we planted the winter forage grass, we over seeded with Crimson Clover. When my husband was out of town, Pink Panther and I planted the clover to balance the heavier feeding rye grass with nitrogen producing clover. This is the natural way of fertilizing the pasture. The clover is also a high protein forage that the weanlings seem to be enjoying. Obviously, my bees are in heaven.

Honestly, we may have seeded a bit too heavy. There are seeding ratios involved and when you relinquish all control to a ten year old boy who was very excited to be driving and less excited about seeding, the outcome becomes unpredictable. I have complete faith in my garden nuisance, Bermuda Grass, to overcome the hardship of emerging from beneath that clover. In the close-up I see only one plant that would be considered a weed. Can you find it?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Southern Spring Queen

I was overcome by the sheer spectacle of the azalea yesterday and had to share. I feel a bit guilty since I have just found out one of my Northern friends is being pelted by blizzard like conditions, but once my camera was raised to my eye the inevitability of these pictures showing up here was cast. Maybe they will bring a smile.

This weekend the show will be over. I think our temperatures will dip to almost freezing and the blooms will fade. Every year we Southerners are lured into thinking the cool weather is over only to be slammed with freezing weather on the weekend when white shoes and light-weight, sleeveless dresses premiere for Summer. Because we are a slave to those clothing rules and what people think, we will wear our white shoes and light clothes anyway and pretend we aren't cold. We are good at pretending. Sometimes when it is over 100 F in the Summer, we pretend we don't sweat.

Let's go back to safer territory, the azaleas. Lest you think I have this flashy show occurring in my garden, let me set the record straight. This is my mother's side show. I was lured into picking up my camera when I was picking up her contribution for the Salvation Army. My foundation plantings are virtually non-existent, because we are still working on hardscapes.

When we plant, I will plant azaleas because I won't be able to resist the month of melodrama each year.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Bluebird Eggs

In the spirit of Easter, here is a picture of naturally colored eggs. I finally found the courage to check my birdhouses. I found out last year that checking the birdhouses is not harmful, that the birds will return to the nest, and that some intervention actually increases success rates. It still scares me. What if? What if? What if?

I don't want to be responsible for a nest of dead babies.

Yet, by checking I got to see this nest of perfectly colored blue eggs. I wish our dyed Easter eggs could look so perfectly blue.

Monday, April 02, 2007

I have been cleaning

Really!! Don't laugh. I really have. What I have done is not enough. No matter what I do, cleaning wise, it is never enough. Dirt and clutter just seem to reappear as soon as I turn my back. I feel like Pigpen. Nonetheless, I have spent the rainy part of the weekend purging.

Purging feels good. I don't want to stop. I want pristine counters, shelves, and desktop. I want a calm place for my eyes to rest. I want simplicity.

Unfortunately, I still want stuff - books, dishes, fabrics, pots, pans, and shoes. There is a separate part of me who wants stark simplicity. Duplicity in the home makes for confusion, disorganization, and a crazed woman. Yet, I can't seem to choose a path. I can't seem to purge deep enough to make a difference.

Yet, things are better than they were.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Happy Birthday Pink Panther

We've had a birthday! Pink Panther has turned eleven and I am wondering just where those years have gone. Seems like just yesterday when I was studying his little toes and fingers thinking how tiny they were. Now, I study his fingers and toes only to see if he has washed them. They aren't tiny any more.

We didn't have a big party because he had a Scout Camporee this weekend and we didn't want to invite people only to have him come home so tired he couldn't stay awake. They spent the weekend competing in a catapult competition. They lost, but had a good time!

For his birthday, Pink Panther asked specifically for a few presents - a didgeridoo, a welding helmet (not held together with duct tape), and an iTunes gift card. When they were all unwrapped, I realized how interesting his choices were. He has so many interests that really have little to do with me. I used to be his center, his primary focus. No longer. Anyway, back to the presents.

He got interested in the didgeridoo when we were studying Australia, so my husband and I agreed to buy the didge so he can make all the animal sounds he wants. My daddy has been teaching him to weld, so my parents gave him a new welding helmet. Princess have him the iTunes gift card because she and he have recently become interested in having their own music (I still get to preview purchases). He saves money obsessively and got some more to add to his stash from Mr. Wisteria's parents. I like the interesting person he is becoming.

Make a wish and blow!! But, don't spit on the cake. I would like a piece of that banana cake with cream cheese frosting.