Saturday, May 31, 2008

Just a Picture Today

Imagine the sweetest smell you've ever smelled!!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Moving into the heat of summer

We move quickly from cold enough to freeze your entire garden and orchard to so warm the weeds are threatening to overtake the young plants and lettuce and English peas are failing. We have already cut the first cutting of hay. We are hoping to get at least one more, but even if we don't we'll have two years worth in storage, which is the goal each year.

I harvested the garlic this week and will begin to braid it this weekend. I may try to fashion a wreath rather than a hank. Honestly, I'm not that good at it. I never know what I'll get. Whatever it turns into, the garlic will finish the curing process hanging in the hall - looking pretty. I hope.

I'll plant more warm weather crops where I dug the garlic, the bitter lettuce, and the peas tomorrow.

And, I'll have to stick the running beans! Ugh!

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Remember the egg-eating snake from a few posts? Well, he had a voracious appetite. The hen wouldn't stay on her nest after the incident, so we let the snake have those eggs since they weren't fit for human consumption. The eating was so good that he brought a friend to stay. I found two snakes in the chicken coop while collecting eggs last weekend. Seeing the one snake shimmy straight up the wall to his full six feet was proof positive that no bluebird house is safe without a baffle. I'm not skittish, but the never before witnessed prowess of the rat snake gave me the all-overs.

We decided the snakes had to go.

We decided on a relocation plan - bag and transport to the spring stream about a mile away. We were able to catch both snakes and K drove them over the hills and to the swamp to their new home. One of the snakes, the least aggressive of the two, slithered off into the stream. The other shook his tail, "reared up like a cobra (my son's description)," and threatened to strike. Of course, K thought it was a photo op and moved forward rather than backwards.

We went to the museum yesterday because tennis was rained out. We talked to my snake expert cousin who felt that we should have carried them farther from our house and the chickens.

We're waiting for their return.

All photos by K.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Decluttering becomes Major Reorganization - As Usual

I'm taking a break. This morning, inspired by the guests arriving Thursday, I decided to deschool the kitchen and declutter my office. I started with the office because its state of disorder has rendered it a place to enter only in emergency situations and this is not the way you need to feel about a space when it provides you your sole source of income.

I literally needed a manure scoop to get in the room, so I started there. Quickly, I realized that the problems with the room and the source of the clutter and garbage were:
  1. Poor arrangement making everything too difficult to use
  2. Too many wires puddled under the desk making sweeping improbable
  3. Poor view adding to a depressing atmosphere
  4. Too much stuff in this small room.
I, then, pulled the filing cabinet, table, computer, scanner, printer, and shelving into the hall and started fresh. I wanted to call a carpenter, but restrained myself until after the company is gone.

Now that everything is back into the room, which is still too small, I have a view of my patio and farm which will certainly improve the ambiance. The wires are hidden. Clutter is abated.

I might be able to work on Monday.

Perhaps, I'll even blog more.

Now, for the kitchen.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

An omen?

We are just wrapping up a performance week for Princess. With stagings, dress rehearsal, practice and what nots, I have driven to Jackson almost every day this week. Tuesday, the one day Princess didn't need to be there, K had tennis. Monday, as I was getting dressed, I could find only one foundation garment without holes and reminded myself to take care of that problem one day this week in Jackson. Thursday, I put on a bra that had been sprung, if you know what I mean. The fabric had lost its resiliency. The straps were only flimsy reminders of what once had been. I had no choice but to wear the thing because no laundry had been done this week and I had forgotten to replenish my stock.

By the time we got to Jackson, my shoulders were screaming. I saw a red target and saw it as a liberator. I drove across three lanes of traffic, hurdled up the off ramp, and wheeled into what I believed would be foundation heaven.

My 12 year old son, said "Oh, mom do you have to do this now?" I assured him I did. My 8 year old daughter skipped around choosing totally inappropriate items for me and herself. For summer I prefer foundation garments to be heavy on cotton and heavy on support. In Mississippi, it gets hot, hot, hot, hot, hot!! And isn't gardening a sport? So, I wasn't all that excited by the orange, yellow, red, and green nylon models. I wanted basic. I wanted white. I wanted comfort.

After totally alienating my son and disappointing my daughter, I found some potential candidates - only one of my size and popped it in my cart.

Yesterday morning, I donned the garment. Something seemed odd about the way the inside was made, but the fit and fabric were right. I ripped the tag off. Later in the day, when I was sitting at a computer in town working, I had an epiphany. Furtively I slipped my hand inside the edge of my shirt, felt for the join between the strap and the cup. Yep, there it was. A clasp. A clasp that would provide easy access.

Omen? Gosh, I hope not.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

What happens when chickens make poor nesting decisions

This morning when K was checking chicks, turkeys, and our broody hen who decided to nest outside of the hen house (not that it would have made a difference in this instance), he started squawking loudly enough for me to hear him in the house to, "Bring the camera!!!!!"

When E and I did bring the camera, we saw the broody hen trapped in our temporary restraining pen with this enormous rat snake. The idea of the temporary protection was to keep the raccoons and skunks away - also yellow dogs who might forget their training. We weren't really thinking of long, thin predators.

We should have been. This snake is certainly a healthy specimen. He or she has probably been feasting on our eggs for quite some time. I think he was about 5 feet long, but none of the pictures show the full length.

K was more enthralled about capturing the dislocation of the jaw. Honestly, I thought it was somewhat gross, but what do I know. These were taken at close range without the aid of special lens. K and I both assumed the snake had such a mouthful that he would be in no position to strike.

What to do? What to do? Should we relocate the hen and her eggs? Or just hope she learns to choose more wisely next time.

Can we count this as science??

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


I changed my background color to match the blush roses climbing on my fence. I'm sure I showed them last year. Yes, here they are. This year I have even more, despite my lack of knowledge in the rose training area. Despite my lack of tender loving care, these heirloom roses that I started from cuttings are growing prolifically. A few buds were burned in the last frost, but most are near perfect?

Weeding the fence behind the roses is no walk in the park. Let me tell you. But having a wall of roses will be something to behold.

Do you think climbing roses are ugly in the off season? I've thought about this more than once, because I was thinking of growing them on all the fences, but they do look a bit unruly.

I'm knitting a sweater for my self with a silk, cotton yarn of this color (If you're a Ravelry person, you can see the details there. I'm tbwisteria). The yarn is expensive, not the most expensive by any means, but every 3 inches of sweater costs around $13 (I'm knitting in the round). Y'all needn't remind me that when I'm through knitting I will have spent a pile of money. You also don't need to remind me that I could have gone to a nice store and bought a similar sweater for less. I know. I know. The same goes for all the clothes I make for myself and princess, and for most home decorating projects.

What I do want to know . .

How is it that our raw materials prices have gotten so high, while our finished goods prices are lower? Much of the fabric and yarn are made with the same cheap labor used to make the finished goods. When I was young, many people sewed so they could have nice clothes cheaply. Wearing handmade clothes to school was not necessarily a positive. Now the only clothes that are more expensive than handmade are couture, which of course are handmade by the popular crowd.


Which leads us to the question of the day? Why do I do it? Why does anyone do it?

Does watching fabric grow beneath your needles from wonderful yarn have a price? Does creating a perfectly fitting garment have a price? Do I knit and sew for process? If I did, couldn't I just use some cheap stuff?

I noticed in the magazine, Interweave Knits (Winter 2007, because, yes, I am that far behind) which contains the pattern for my sweater, that Jove was quoted in the web watch section:
Since I have started knitting lace, I have found a use for the product. I now wear shawls. And have given shawls to people as gifts. . . . So while I knit lace primarily for the process, there is still some part of me that needs to see a use for the product.

Yep, at $13 plus dollars every three inches, finding a use for the product would be all important.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Wild Blooms

We're in a honey flow. Meaning, that despite the slow start, spring has sprung and is moving forward quickly despite the cold and rain. My garden looks terrible, but the wild blackberries are blooming prolifically, the honeysuckle and privet are just beginning.

The bees are working hard now. If all goes well, I will get to harvest and make jelly out of this bumper crop of blackberries. Wouldn't it be nice to have so many wild blackberries that you didn't have to ration the jelly??

Love, love, love wild blackberries!!

Friday, May 02, 2008

I'm a week behind

Last Friday at about 8 a.m., the USPS central distribution center in Jackson called and said they had a box of chicks for me. I don't live in Jackson. In fact, I live an hour and 15 minutes from Jackson. I asked why my chickens were there. She said they had come in on Fed Ex and someone had forgotten to put them on the truck to my town. The next truck would be tomorrow or I could pick them up in Meridian which is 45 minutes from here.

I knew that those chicks had been shipped the same day as the turkeys which arrived the previous day, and that if I didn't get them home and heated, fed, and watered quickly that there would be 25 chicks dead - a few months too early. So, another trip to Jackson seemed imminent.

Have I mentioned that I have a truly wonderful little sister who lives in Jackson. O.K., she's not little anymore, not that she's fat or anything (she's actually very thin even though she has two children under 4), but she did get older. No matter, adult or not, I will always think of her as my little sister(She's 10 years younger). I wonder if that offends her?

Anyway, I called and she offered to collect the chicks and bring them out to the farm. She did. After we got the chicks situated, she began beautifying my front yard. She cleaned the front beds, pruned branches from my Natchez White Crepe Myrtles, mulched, planted two gardenias, and made two beautiful flowering pots. She was a maniac.

All I had to do was feed her family and pay for the plants. I won't mention how far over budget she went.

I was glad to have a beautiful view from the front porch since my Master Gardener MIL would be arriving the next day, but I was more excited to have unscheduled time without a holiday event to just be with my little sister. We had fun.