12.15.2010

Sick and Tired and Sick of Being Tired

I'm a little sick. Well a lot of sick actually. I've been down with strep for the last 2 and a half days. Yes Virginia, you can get a really bad nasty case of strep throat as an adult. Needless to say I've been miserable. My loving husband has been tending to my girls out back, the kids, dinner, errands, and me. I love that man. I highly doubt I'd have been feeling so much better so quickly had he not taken such good care of me. He gets much love always! :) However, the absolute best part about being sick? I got to sleep in two days in a row! Seriously, I couldn't swallow, could barely drink and eat (had to force it down so I could take the meds the doc prescribed) and couldn't keep my eyes open longer than 40 mins at a stretch that first day but the fact that I got to go back to sleep once everyone was out of the house was the bomb! Yeah - I'm that easy.
This time of year just wears me down. The stress of the holidays and the cold and crazy weather. It just takes it all out of you. No wonder I got sick. Nobody else has gotten seriously sick around here - a few sniffles and sore tummys here and there but nothing stay off of work worthy. I should feel guilty for calling in to work but I don't. You get sick you take your days and you definitely don't go spreading it around.
Winter has finally settled in around here. Nothing to be done out doors other than to tend to the chickens. Seed catalogs have started arriving so lots of mental planning going on up in the old noggin.
Thanksgiving has come and gone (first year cooking up a turkey and it was wonderful!) and I'm sorry but I'm just not looking forward to Christmas. If I didn't have my girls to think about I'd chuck Xmas all together. But that's a rant for another day.
Lots of knitting going on. Lots of reading. Lots of looking out the window waiting for more snow and hoping for warmer weather. It'll get here. Just gotta stay healthy and be patient!
... and that's my boring post for the month.

11.19.2010

Oh joy Oh joy

No eggs. I'm convinced I won't get an egg out of any of the girls until spring. That's so uncool. I would have loved to put something together for Thanksgiving using my fresh from the chicken butt eggs but no go. My ladies have other ideas. C'est la vie! I can wait - will only make that first omelet that much sweeter!

11.12.2010

Reality

It's raining. It's cold. Gotta go tend to the chickens. They better be glad I love them.

11.07.2010

No method, all madness

It's been an unseasonably warm October. Not sure if that's a true statement or not but it's seemed pretty damn warm to me. October is not a warm month around here and Halloween was crazy warm in these parts this year. At any given time it would have been raining and cold but it was dry and clear and I didn't have to layer the kid under her costumes before she headed out with the husband so to me that's warm. So it's been nice out and I've done nothing with it until today.
Today I decided to finally start another bed. I've had misgivings about going "in ground". I kept telling myself that folks had been gardening that way for eons but for a city girl who started out with raised beds breaking new ground took some nerve. I decided on a 10x7 foot area. Why 10x7 I don't know - it just looked right.
Now when I put in the asparagus bed (which is doing beautifully and holds a lot promise for the spring) I double dug. Double digging is hard back breaking work. It was a bitch. I just wasn't having it this time around. I broke out the Mantis and my lovely husband tilled up the sod. Bad move? Maybe. I'll know come spring. I put down some gypsum to and raked it in with a garden rake before watering. I topped it off with some old leaves and a 6 inch layer of straw to try to encourage a little worm activity. Like the post title says 'no method, all madness'. Like with everything else I do out there just going with the flow and hoping for the best.
I know I know. Tilling is bad. Still there's some time before I go back out to work the soil again so maybe I didn't do too much damage. It'll be worth it to at least start building up the soil in the new bed even if I don't do anything with it in the spring.
Damn chickens still ain't laying.

10.31.2010

Season closer

It's been a while since my last post. Been a little lazy lately - the lack of postings would suggest a lot lazy but I digress.
The garden is done for the season (late summer/fall sowings didn't go so well). Compost has been turned and leaves mulched. The girls have a finished pen and are snug in their coop on those cold nights. Putting up straw for easy winter access and stocked up on feed. No eggs yet which is kinda disappointing - no eggs soon and I'm not holding my breath - spring it'll have to be!
We had our first fall frost on the 28th - 9 days later than the average for these parts. Not surprised - we've had a pretty warm October. Tonight is no different. Lots of kids out - not enough for my liking but enough to keep me handing out candy regularity.
Overall I'd say this year was a pretty good year. I learned to can. Or rather I learned to can a little, I should say -  tomatoes, salsa and pickles. The basics. Tried out a new crop (popcorn) with very poor results (one funky ear of corn survived!). Beans didn't fair so well either. Peas did pretty good and the onions were great! Garlic was wonderful. The tomatoes were the bomb! This was a good year.
I have it in my head that the 2011 growing season will be awesome. 
The asparagus bed is going well. The garlic has been planted (6 varieties - 5 plots) and strawberries moved to a new home. Lots of runners repotted and waiting for a new home in the spring.
Lots of planning to do for the spring - potatoes to order and put in the ground (onion order has already been put in). Still have a little time left to get some new plots started.
So the season is over. No real exciting news. We ate what I grew and enjoyed it all. What more can I say?

9.17.2010

Goodbye

On Thursday I said goodbye to Pasty Butt.


My beautiful boy was just not meant for city living. I'd have kept him if I could but I didn't want the neighbors complaining about his crowing. I know I know. I come across like a bad ass when talking about the neighbors but I do have to live here and despite my growing disgust with how rude and annoying they can be at times I just couldn't overlook the fact that he was crowing his ass off . I have to admit that there are things I will do just to be a bitch but keeping a rooster within the city limits is not one of them. That just would have been ornery on my part and unfair to him in all his roosteryness.
It took a while but I finally found the little guy a good home. I put an ad out on line (not a good idea and will never do it again) and when that failed to produce an acceptable result I started calling around to the animal hospitals out in the neighboring boonies and I got lucky. He was adopted by a farm vet with a flock of his own who was only too happy to have a young rooster - something about needing another stud. After assurances that he wouldn't eat him (which was the problem with the responses on line - WTF??!!! Don't tell me you're gonna eat him for crying out loud - he's my frikkin' pet!) I took him on a long ride out to the country.
D. helped me get him into the carrier but the 30 min drive out to the country I made alone with my boy.
Before the vet's assistant took him to the back to swap out the carrier I reached in through the cage wire to stroke his feathers and coo my goodbye ...
Ungrateful little fucker pecked me on the webby part of my right hand. Should have let his little ass get et up. My broke heart healed up rather nicely after that and I bumped some Katy Perry all the way home.
C'est la vie!

9.06.2010

A Place of Their Own


My husband is so good to me. He gave up his Labor Day holiday to start work on the chicken pen. Of course he's off work tomorrow and I have to go in to the office so maybe it'll be done tomorrow! (hint - hint)


Motivated to get started on the shed now. Would be cool to have a hang out spot in the back and be able to open that window over the coop and look out over my ladies - and hide from the kids. 

9.05.2010

Sigh

The summer growing season is winding down. I lost my pumpkins and gourds early in the season so not much to look forward to headed into the fall - except for of course - EGGS! BEETS! COLLARDS! LETTUCE! RADISH! BROCCOLI! CHARD! CAULIFLOWER! .... and finally - SWEET POTATOES!!!!!

So really not winding down - just not as much to do :) ... still gotta clean up the beds, once cleaned then seed the beds with a fall/winter cover crop, build the chicken pen (can't let them keep roaming the yard), dig the new beds for spring, plant out the garlic and I still haven't cleaned out the garden shed. Did I say there wasn't much to do? Yeah I lied. There's plenty to get done out there. Gotta mulch the asparagus bed too. Almost forgot.

I'm not deluding myself. I'm no farmer. I'll never be able to throw off the shackles of the man and do what I really want to do. Hell I'm not even sure I'd enjoy the "thrill" of working 13 hr days 7days a week but I would love to be able to dedicate more of my time to the homestead.

Yep - I'm actually building a homestead here.

I'm no "foodie". I'm not a voice for change. I just want to grow stuff in my yard and get eggs and meat from my birds (the meat part is the next step after eggs - gotta work up to the whole raise 'em to kill 'em thing though!). I don't mess around with pesticides or herbicides. I'm just working it out.

Tons of pics to load. Gotta get on that.

9.01.2010

Pasty Butt - roo???


Little heifer is crowing! Not a true indicator but I'm more than a little suspicious!!!

8.29.2010

Seed to Table ... NOT!

Let's just say I've learned some lessons on seed companies these past seasons. As I'm headed into fall and thinking way too far ahead in to next spring I've been thinking a lot about the seed I've planted. I've noticed that quite a bit of the seed I've bought from a certain company based on recommendation from other gardeners, farmers, growers and the like have been hit or miss at best. Not sure if it's the region I'm in (depending on where the research takes me I'm in a zone 5 or 6 - sometimes being in the midwest sucks @ss) or if it's just bad stuff but I've had some pretty rotten results with product from this company.
I could blame the weather (it's been crazy around here), I could blame experience (this is only my second full growing season) or it could be "user error". However you want to look at it I have not been at all happy with these products. It's sad really. They have really cool varieties - stuff you can't find anywhere else. If it would grow I would be happy but right now I'm looking at the germination and failure rates of certain seed and I'm totally pissed off! Something I tend to do when I'm pissed off is to rant and rave. I'm not gonna - not with this. It's all about experience and the learning process.
Bottom line is I need to learn these things now. I want to try new and cool stuff but I also don't want to waste time and energy, space and especially not money on product that just won't grow!

8.14.2010

Only a matter of time ...

I knew it would only be a matter of time before somebody in the 'hood spotted my ladies out back. They're actually kinda hard to miss - big back yard, yes. Fenced, yes. Wide open space, definitely!


Thankfully "Pacer", as we call him was actually excited and a little impressed. He's always walking up and down the street in front of his house on his cell - pacing - go figure - so "Pacer".
Glad the first real meeting with one of my neighbors over the ladies went well. I know I know - I should have talked to the folks immediately around me to let them know I was getting the girls but I didn't want to. Not that I couldn't. I just didn't want to so I didn't. Figured if there was a problem they'd come talk to me. No problems but maybe "Pacer" coming over is the start of something good and folks will venture over and if nothing else learn something!

8.11.2010

Invasion


Thinking Black Swallowtail
Lovin' the dill!

Chicken Run

... and no it ain't the movie!:)

Apparently 2 of my girls decided to make a break for it. Not sure if they were feeling flighty (ha ha!) or just being chickens but the little buggers decided to cross the road so to speak and venture out into the wild blue of neighbor lady's yard.
Now neighbor lady ain't all bad. She stays to herself. She doesn't bother us. Truthfully she just bugs the hell out of me. The first and last time she talked to us, I mean really said more than 4 words to us, was when she asked us to take down our wind chimes cause they made too much noise. It.was.one.frikkin.wind chime.... yeeeeeeeh well we took them down and put them up on the other side of the porch and she hasn't talked to us since. I mean we hardly ever see her. She only comes out doors to mow her grass and spray her pesticides and weedkillers and herbicides all along our shared fence line. She's not my favorite person on the block so bottom line I didn't want my girls to give her a reason to knock on our door and I definitely did not want them eating her pesticide riddle grass so yes, of course I would naturally have been eager to have them back where they belonged.

So supposedly this is how my 14 yr old spent 2 precious hours of her young life today:

B. went out to check on the chickens and to make sure they had plenty of water (it's been hellishly hot the last 2 weeks). B. saw only 3 of the 5 where they should be. After about 15 mins of walking through the garden and peeking into beds she heard clucking. She looked around and saw nothing but then she heard it again. She looked around some more and still saw nothing when suddenly out of the corner of her eye she saw a flash of yellow, turned her head and saw Lucy Loo (our Easter Egger) strolling casually up and down the fence line - on the other side of the fence - on neighbor lady's side of the fence. B. calls to Lucy. Lucy runs. According to B., Lucy doesn't casually stroll away - she takes off at a full run, squawking her head off the whole while. Lucy's partner in crime, Pasty Butt (Speckled Sussex and suspected rooster!), takes flight from a small stand of weeds along the fence (it's been too hot for neighbor lady to work in her yard the last 2 or 3 weeks) and joins Lucy on the lam. Once the alarm was sounded and the hunt was on those bitches were not going down without a fight! So off they go running across that woman's yard with B. in hot pursuit - it was 100 degrees out today ...

twenty minutes later ...

The poor kid is freaked out and calls D. hysterical and crying that mom was gonna kill her - she got the birds over the fence but she couldn't get them into the run. D. assures her she'll live and promises I won't kill her but that she needed to do her best to get them into the run.

Things quickly escalated with feathers flying and chickens clucking and my kid in tears. Between the two runaways and the high afternoon temps my poor baby was just run ragged. She finally gave up trying to get them into the run and called her dad who called my wonderful MIL to come around the corner and help out.

By the time I got a chance to talk to B. she had been pecked, she had been shit on twice, and had stepped barefoot into warm, mushy poo courtesy of her friend Pasty (at least that's who she's blaming!).
Needless to say after everyone finally got around to looping me in on all of the days' activities (gang o' folks imagined themselves dying at my hands today apparently) and after making sure all was well I found myself trying not to LMAO as my oh so tough girly girl held back tears over the 'poo pedi'.
She survived - I promised her a new pair of jeans from Old Navy and bye-bye tears! Today that was ok -she earned them today. :)

So I've decided it's time to do the unthinkable - I made an appt. with a local vet (recommended by my DMIL) who specializes in birds and fowl to come out and pay a house call and clip the girls' wings. I feel terrible about it but it's got to be done. I can't and don't want to keep them locked in their run all day. We have more than enough backyard for them to hang out without having to be caged and if having their wings clipped will let them have a little extra freedom I think it'll be worth it in the long run. The ladies will be happier if they can roam free back there - and B. will be happier knowing she won't have to run a chicken to ground! :)

8.07.2010

Sadly I haven't posted in a while. Things have been somewhat hectic around here. Actually let's be honest - my Facebook addiction has been consuming nearly all of my computer usage. I'm not proud. I have a problem. I must kick the FB habit! All is not lost however. When I'm not at work, cooking dinner or doing something or other with the family, knitting or pouring over seed catalogs I have been spending a lot of time building up my space out back.
I now have two more raised beds ready for a fall garden. The compost bin is in it's second year and coming along - hoping to get some get stuff out of there for the fall planting and the chicks are now 10 weeks old and outdoors. Pardon the cliche but they took to the coop like a duck to water!

I canned my first batch of pickles. Bread and butter of course. Easy peasy but they stunk to high heaven. Seriously stinky stuff but so worth it. Hubby is enjoying them and so am I - tempted to force feed 'em to the girls. I'm starting to find myself obsessed with getting them to try new foods. My little experiments seem to be going unnoticed (even by my other half!) but at 14 and 6 they have minds of their own and I can only 'hide' foodstuffs for so long before they figure out what stuff is - but hey if they want to not eat it because they never tried it and don't want to try it then they are free to go hungry because I don't get paid to cater meals! :)
Getting ready to try my hand at water canning some maters! You'd think it would cross my mind that 22 tomotato plants would produce a shit load of tomatoes and I'd have to do something with them - but yeah not so. I've harvested well over 35 lbs of fruit from the surviving 17 plants (unfortunately I lost a couple to blight with all of this wet and humid weather). That's in the past week and half. I still have the rest of the summer to go. I can only expect D. to eat so many in one sitting and try as we might we just can't consume it all so canning it is. Maybe a try to dry a few? Who knows. Sky's the limit - what we don't eat the chickens will be more than happy to take care of for us I'm sure. Waste is not on my list of things to do this summer so everything will find a place in the pantry or the compost or somebody's gullet one way or another.

So let's see - to date I have harvested 35+ lbs of tomatoes, close to 12 lbs of onions, a pound of garlic (only planted 12 bulbs), a little over 8 lbs of cucumbers, a few peppers (can't grow them to save my life for some reason!) and one annoyingly ginormous lemon yellow squash and only 2 8-ball squash. The last two only goes to show - this time last year I had squash out the yinyang but this year I can't get the buggers to put out jack crap and I planted out 3 plants this year - last year only 1! Gardening is nuts.

7.08.2010

Wet and Wild

It's been raining it's you know what off the past week or so. We recorded almost 3 inches over the weekend in my little pocket of the world. To hear my friends tell the tale there's just no way that's possible because they didn't get anything out in the boonies but my little rain gauge tells a different story and it's one I'm listening to. Between the off and on rain and the mini heat waves in between my garden has suffered a little. Not much but enough to make me worry.
The tomatoes are still going gang busters. They've outgrown the stakes and spirals and I've resorted to pruning back the tops to try to keep them under control. They're beautiful really. Lots of foliage and little green tomatoes and there are a couple trying to show off some color. This time last year I had my first tomato by the 4th - of course I planted about 3 weeks earlier and stayed glued to the weather channel and paniced everytime I heard the word "frost" but damnit I got tomoatoes before anyone else! I played it safe this year - just hoping I won't regret it ...
Everything seems to be filling in nicely - I've harvested potatoes, cucumbers, squash and some nice candy onions. I need to take more pics soon.
Speaking of pics - the chicks are ginormous! They are almost 5 weeks old. They've moved into a larger pen and love cottage cheese - and tomatoes and bananas and yogurt and hardboiled eggs, and lettuce and sunflower seeds ... and a lot of other crap. Speaking of crap - they shit everywhere! Yes I know - birds shit - but it's like walking through a mine field when I take them out and they decide they want to hang out on the front walk way. Gotta get 'em out in the coop soon.

6.26.2010

Down the rabbit hole

I have fallen down a deep and dark blogging hole and I want out. See, I have a select few blogs that I follow daily. Unfortunately one of the problems with following other people's blogs is that you don't have time to work on your own. It's not their fault. They make the time to keep folks up to date on the happenings in their gardens or on their farms. Hell - if they didn't I wouldn't be bothered with reading their stuff now would I? That being said I'm noticing a very scary trend. We all seem to be posting the same crap.

Plants, animals, projects, etc. In and of itself us all posting about the same stuff is no big deal. Hell, we all have pretty much the same interests. This time of year everybody is literally doing the exact same things in their yards, gardens, on the farm, around the house, etc. We're also all blogging about it at the same time. Sadly, I'm starting to lose interest in what other people are doing. It's not that I don't care - it's more like if  I want to see a cucumber or teeny tiny watermelon I can go out in my own back yard and look at one. I don't need to see pretty pictures. I can go out back and take my own!

I know I know I'm being petty. Other people are probably thinking the same thing about my blog (if anyone is actually reading any of this of course) and wishing for something new and different. I try to mix it up but I don't want to go bat shit crazy off topic. I can't say that I would blame anyone for thinking I'm boring if they come here looking for something exciting. I'm naturally a boring person. That's just me. But when it comes to other peoples lives I expect more! If I take the time to read you then damnit I want something to read.

Personally I'm getting pretty tired of it all - the reading of other people's blogs that is. My attitude is not very 'blogger' like of me I know but I'm still faithfully logging in to see what everyone else is talking about because, well, if they are doing something cool I want to know about it! I guess when I think about it that's really the point. You check out what other folks are doing and you may or may not find something that floats your boat. No pain no gain you could say. There's that and then there's the truth of it all: I feel vested. That's right - vested. I've been reading their stuff for so long I feel like a bad friend if I don't read their posts every single day. I may not comment on anything but I still have to check it out.

So I've fallen into this vicious cycle. I read. I post. I post. I read. I look for excitement in other people's posts where I can find it. I just don't want this to turn into a chore. I want this to be fun - a running commentary on my homesteading adventures in the big city. How frikkin' corny am I?

6.22.2010

Rainbows, growth spurts and garlic

It's been a crazy week - a fun week - check out the highlights:

RAINBOWS

How often do you see a double rainbow in the city? Better question - how many people actually noticed and stopped and took the time to appreciate the beauty of it?

I did not find gold at the end of this rainbow but I did find vodka and a spot up the block to shack up for a few hours after I downed the bottle. JK!


CHICKENS

The girls are growing. They've started hanging out with me in the garden. They're pretty good and behave themselves for the most part. Occasional we have issues but it's been cool. They tend to stick together out there but of course there's always one...

Cluck Norris - she's fearless ... she keeps wandering off and she's gonna end up being some stray dog's dinner.

Make shift holding pen - they were PISSED!


GARLIC

Garlic. Siberian hardneck from SSE. Beautiful stuff. I'm leaving some in for another week. Probably pulled it too early but it's my garlic and I couldn't resist and I had to know what the hell was going on down there! Hehehehehehe!

6.16.2010

Rainy Harvest


Before the rain moved in this evening I got a chance to hang out in the garden and get a few clean up chores and some light weeding done here and there around the beds. Went ahead and dumped the other halfway dead potato bag and figured since I was out there anyway I'd go ahead and weed and thin the onion bed and harvest some herbs. Picked a couple of peas while I was at it ... I'm getting good at this!

My Cup Runeth Over

It's been raining like hell the last couple of days. Yeah yeah yeah - in a couple of weeks I'll be bitching that it hasn't rained enough - but that will be then - this is now and it's been raining it's ass off! Normally I love a good rain - I truly appreciate what we have had come through the last couple of days. Even still heavy rains and high winds kinda mess with you when you're trying to get stuff to grow. I shouldn't bitch though. Some people around here have lost their entire garden - plants blown over and snapped, seedlings literally rip from the ground by the winds, sown seeds washing out of rows. I definitely should not bitch because I can say, with a big ol' grin on my face, that I haven't suffered any obvious ill effects out there.The beds are draining well and the plants are thriving (knock on wood). I am having problems with the high winds and my peas though. They keep blowing over on the chicken wire fence. My DH built me a gorgeous 6+ foot high folding trellis but it came out too late for the first sowing. No biggie, I'll use it in the fall. Peas are almost done for the summer for me anyway so I'm not too sad about it but it's still irritating.

The only down side for me had been that things have been going f'in nuts out there!


This bed holds beans, carrots, basil, tomatoes, marigolds and nasturtiums. Can you see anything other than the tomatoes? They are all staked and caged and they still have managed to take over the beds. I have little green tomatoes everywhere ... it's a beautiful sight! My Early Girl has clusters! Clusters!!! Hoping to have my first tomato by the 4th of July - that would rock my world to be sure! Yeah I have no reason at all to bitch about how things are going out there.
The other beds  and the 'bucket brigade' are doing just as well although not nearly as mature as this bed.
I'm not gonna sweat though - just have to stay on top of it and watch for any signs of disease or pest problems. I mean I could pull one or two plants and probably be alright - but I ain't pullin' jack crap. This is only Year Two. If I run into issues it'll be a notable lesson for next years garden!


 
  

6.13.2010

6+ inches

My rain gauge says it's rained over 6 inches in the last couple of days ... maybe it's broken. Although a little tube with inch markings on it can't be all that wrong - can it? :)
I took this pic after the sun had been out all day so a little bit of the water had evaporated by the time I got out there.

6.09.2010

Taking it all with a grain of salt

A few weeks ago I put up a question on a local gardening community forum board (won't name names) asking if anyone knew what the deal was with my tators. I was worried because I had 4 healthy bags of potatoes planted with early, mid, and late season varieties that seemingly overnight decided they hated me and started keeling over.

I literally hand picked 3 of the 4 varieties I set out. I had gone down to Planters and dug through the barrels of seed potatoes and picked out the very best I could find. I brought them home, cut and cured them and planted them out in their little bags - all in the name of love for the tator. (The Purple Viking, the 4th bag, I bought on line while looking for something "new"). So naturally I was upset at the thought of losing even one of the bags but here I was watching 2 of them doing something they definitely shouldn't have been doing - seeming to die! The leaves had turned yellow and were starting to lose that lush and lucious look but overall the plants were doing well. I needed to know if anyone with more knowledge than I profess to have could help me out. So I joined the forum and posted my concern. After about 2 weeks I got a response - the poster assured me that what I had going on was one of the blights - couldn't say which one but was fairly certain that's what it was. OK - that's cool - but why did 6 other people jump on the bandwagon and not only diagnose blight but wilt and tobacco virus too? ...and all before I even posted a pic. I was told to immediately remove the bags from the vicinity of the other garden plants and the other 2 bags and destroy the plants because nothing was going to grow and the disease would spread.

In a panic I moved the two bags over to a lonely corner of the garden - but I couldn't bring myself to destroy them. I just couldn't. I moved them to their corner and I left them there. I watered them when I watered the rest of the garden and checked for bugs when I thought about it but my heart ached with every wilting leaf and shriveling branch. Finally, today, I couldn't take it any more. One of the bags seemed half dead - the other half only so so and just barely hanging on - I just couldn't take looking at them any longer. So I sucked it up and dumped one of the bags ... and found potatoes. Nice sized ones too. Not as many as I'd have hoped but considering I'm guessing I probably dumped them sooner than I should have (DUH!!) wasn't too bad of a haul.

... so what do I think was the problem? I interplanted the bags - I planted early season with mid-season and mid with late and early with late ... I basically f'd up. Makes sense that half of the bag would be ready before the other half, huh? The only thing is I never got flowers - so I didn't think there would actually be potatoes in there!

To sum it up - the next time I start freaking out about what's going on in the garden I should probably trust my first gut instinct and just let it happen. Worse case it doesn't grow. Today's lesson was an easy one to learn - I can't dig up everything I set out because some random dude on the 'net told me it was going to kill everything around it. Now I'm not blaming the guy for touching off my freak out session - that was all me. He was only trying to help!

From here on out I'm telling myself hourly to take all gardening advice - solicited or not - with a grain of salt.
I always have this thing rattling around in my head that since I'm new to this I have to follow what others say because they've been at it for a while and undoubtedly know more than I do. The internet is awash with folks with decades of experience - I should be able to trust anything they say, right? Folks know what they're talking about I'm sure, but unless they are physically here looking at it there's no way they can know for sure about what's going which leaves me in the same spot I would have been in had I not asked any one at all about what was going on.

So I'm down to 3 bags now. They look a little raggedy but I'm not dumping them. I'm going to wait until they die back the way they are suppose to - totally and completely. I'm going to take my chances with these last 3 - sorry randome dude.

6.08.2010

I think they're gonna make it!









Loving my girls! Loveable as they are I try not to forget they are FOOD!!!! :) Still just so much fun ...

6.07.2010

eScaping Garlic

This past fall I planted 12 cloves of Siberian hardneck garlic from Seed Savers Exchange. I now have 11 healthy scaping hardneck garlic plants - one fell as a casualty to the squirrels ... oh well. I figure if I really like it I can hold back 4 or 5 good bulbs to plant out this fall. I think I will pick up another "starter set" of a different variety from SSE to go in with this one.
Love, love, love garlic. Planning to make it a staple in my garden.
Putting in pathways ... once again managed to avoid cleaning the shed - woohoo!!!

This is from my bathroom window. Not a good angle - half of the garden on this side is cut off and  I still haven't figured out how to use the zoom on the camera. Guess I could have opened the screen and leaned out but it wasn't that serious.
A little over a year ago this entire area was choked by weeds and brush and a bunch of other crap including volunteer pumpkins. This is a hell of a lot better.
 Still a lot of work to do out there!

6.05.2010

It's hot!

It has gotten progressively hotter thru out the day. I thought it was suppose to cool down as the sun set but apparently nobody told that bitch Mother Nature because I swear that is so not the case today! It's hot! It's one of those kind of hots that make you wanna sleep. This is the kind of hot that saps your energy. Had I not gone out and watered, pulled weeds, side dressed the tomatoes and picked peas early this morning it still wouldn't be done because I wouldn't have been out there until the sun went completely down today which would most definitely not have been good.
Despite my bravado I'm sure I'd have peeped my garden out from the 2nd floor bathroom window and I'd have seen my beds suffering and I'd have gone out and done what needed doing and I'd have been evil the whole time I was doing it but I'd have done it. That's the thing with gardening on this scale - you put in the time and energy to get it off on the right foot and you can't just let it slide. You suck it up and you go out and you sweat it out and you do what you know needs doing - and you reap the rewards for it later.
I found 2 little tomatoes this morning - they may not make it but the plants are setting so that's a good sign. I found newly formed squash and lots of blossoms. The popcorn is about 3 inches high (got it out late - most probably won't be knee high by the 4th!), the garlic is sending up scapes and the onions are amazing - lots of baby onions out there to be thinned. The beans have started their climb up the tepees and the strawberries are setting lots of buds. I'd have missed all of this had I slept in today instead of heading out early to avoid the heat and with the addition of the chicks and having their needs to tend to now I see waking up super bright and early from here on out the norm for me.
I've always been a morning person (not sure how I hooked up with my other half - he would sleep til noon if I let him!) so it's not a big deal waking early to work around the heat. I just need to get a good routine going. Gotta give it some time. Right now I'm just cranky. I'm such a baby but damnit it's hot out there (and the added humidity and stagnant air - no breeze - doesn't help either).
... and to think - just a few weeks ago I was bitching about the cool nights and the cold wet soil. Yeah.

6.03.2010

What's in a name?

...after much debate and many tears (I wanted to slap some people for being all stupid about the names they were putting out there – they obviously made the mistake of thinking this was a democracy - it ain't!) - the chicks all have names.


Please welcome –

Jackie Brown – she’s super chill – if she grows up to be anything like she is now she’s going to be super docile

Lucy Loo – bossy b!tch – she picks on everybody – so far at the top of the pecking order

Cluck Norris – Lucy’s right hand pecker – Cluck Norris starts pecking where Lucy leaves off!

Smiles Davis –  kinda hard to pin her down. She fights back when picked on but otherwise just hangs out. I wasn't having a bird named 'smiles' but my oldest named her so gotta keep it. Thanks K. for adding the 'davis' - now I'm loving it!

... and last but not least

Pasti Butt - as in ‘pasty butt’ – she poops a lot! – a lot! Hoping she cuts back soon - gonna need to swab her vent so the poop will slide off (TMI?)

Lots of thought and consideration went in to these names. Seriously - these birds will be a part of the family for a while to come. I may have to send them to that big coop in the sky when they stop laying but that's life - until then they get names. It's only fair.

6.02.2010

All Chickens Poop


My first flock has arrived! Very exciting stuff. Too cute. Of course they won't be 'cute' forever and the pooping and peeping ain't all that cute after the twelfth hour of it but damn if they aren't just perfect.

Picking them up at the post office was an experience. For one thing we live in the city - not the heart of the city but we aren't on the fringes either. Don't get me wrong - with the exception of having to call 3 times just to find out if there was anything special they needed me to do paperwork wise and stuff like that it went well. They called me the minute they arrived which was 15 mins after I had called to see if they were there. They were nice and helpful when I made my way to the window. She took my information and asked to see my driver's license for verification - and then tried to jack me for my chicks. For real. I could hear my girls peeping all the way out in the lobby - I could also hear one worker telling the other worker to tell me that they lost them. I kid you not. I had to yell through the microphone speaker thingy that I could hear them! Needless to say I got my chicks and got the hell out of there before they remembered a bill or two they forgot to deliver - those they can keep...

Despite the near 'chick-napping' that went down all 5 chicks arrived home safe and sound. No pasty butts, no watery eyes, alert and peppy - and poopy.

I knew that chicks pooped; I had heard they pooped a lot. Everything and everybody poops but I had no idea that something that small could poop that damn much! What the hell??!! I guess I have lots and lots of chicken poop to look forward to in the coming future but if these little peepers are pooping this freakin' much how much poop will these 5 peepers poop when they aren't little 'peepers' no more?! Scary poop dilemma.

Anyway, it's been a little over twelve hours since they came home and I've already been compelled to change the bedding in the brooder.

They are watered and fed and chillin' right now. All 5 of the girls have been poked back to life at least twice. What can I say? It seemed cruel but at varying times they all looked dead. Sleeping chicks are a very scary deal. They just fall over. They fall over face first where ever they are and are sound asleep. Funny as hell to watch but scary as hell to just walk up on. Ask my 6 year - it was funny to me - not so much to her!




6.01.2010

"Sunday" Rant

"Don't tell your grandmother how to suck an egg."

My wonderful FIL told me that years and years ago. It baffled me at first because I wasn't in the habit of witnessing people suck eggs and I wasn't gonna ask him what the hell he was talking about. I mean naturally I wondered what the hell he'd been drinking/smoking/snorting before I got there but I wasn't asking that either! I have issues. I have this thing about being respectful to my elders - it's a little something called "home training" - something most people have no experience with at all. It goes like this - He (my elder) said something. He (my elder) looked and sounded pretty sure about what he said. Who was I (the young pup, child) to go all smartass on him and question him about it? He (my elder) is over 60 so his word is law! Sound crazy? Maybe but "elder respect" is something near and dear to my heart.

It was all good though - he saw I was struggling with some inner demon, laughed a little and went on and explained it as only Wally could. Fuck off and don't tell people how to do what they do when they're doing it. That's it. Pretty simple, huh?Now before you go thinking my FIL is an ass he's not! :) I was interviewing him about his military service for a writing assignment at school and he was giving me some great shit to use in the paper. He's one of the most down to earth and trully wonderful human beings you'd ever meet and he doesn't take shit. He's smarter than the average bear and he imparted a great truth to me that day. He's a wonderful man. I actually enjoyed writing that paper - but - I digress so back to the topic at hand.

So here's where I'm going with this.

Don't tell me that I'm wrong for the following things:


  • attempting to grow as much of my family's food as I can


  • raising chickens and/or rabbits for eggs and meat


  • wanting to not work 60-80 hrs a week


  • being content with my current work situation and not seeking out advancement ops


  • wanting to learn to knit and can and cheese make and bake bread, etc


  • refusing to fall into the the abyss of the consumer driven craziness that rules the households of so many in this country


  • for being happy to live simply and trying to get my family to follow


It's ok to have an opinion. It's ok to express it and you can even tell me that I am wrong if you don't agree with what I do but what you're not allowed to do is attack me. I won't stand for it. Not because I don't like what you have to say or can't see your view point or can't get on board with what you think but because there is a right and wrong way to do things and being an ass just because it feels right to you and you finally got your courage up to approach me that day isn't the way to get through to me. It's just that simple.

You're going to live your life. I'm going to live mine. Mine will undoubtedly be healthier and happier for you not being around beause if you don't like the way I live you'd just be a pain in my ass. You, with all your high and mighty and judgmental bull crap, will undoubtedly make me want to hit you in the face and that would be wrong. Couple that with how your shit doesn't stink attitude and you and I will never be on the same page. So ...

"Don't tell your grandmother how to suck an egg." It's simple, to the point and advice that so many in this world would be smart to live by.

.. and that's my Sunday rant (posted on a Tuesday).

5.30.2010

Bessie

This is Bessie. She's a real work horse. A 1985 Ford Ranger. Less than 50k miles on her. She's a good little truck - a well loved hand me down from D.'s Grandpa George.
She's a little plain in the looks dept. Manual transmission. No bells or whistles to speak of but she starts and stops. She can haul a half cubic yard of top soil - she be riding real low while she's doing it though so gotta keep an eye on that! She's moved furniture and boxes, lumber and hay bales and who knows what else.






They just don't make 'em like this any more!

To Nina with Love

For Mother's Day my other half had the idea to build his mom a raised garden bed like the ones he's built for me - since Mother's Day he's built her two more! My contribution was labor to get the beds installed, help haul dirt and help out with the clearing of the brush and weeds. We did a pretty good job if I must say so myself. She's now got the makings of a very, very cool raised bed garden!

5.27.2010

Farmville

                                                       "Hello. My name is L. and I am addicted to Farmville."



Yes, I know it's fake. Yes, I know it's a game. Yes, I have chickens, horses, goats, sheep, llamas, chinchillas, cows, ducks, geese, foals, calves, and pigs. Yes, I 'work' very hard to attain my crop masteries - I have them in rice, pumpkins, artichokes, tomatillos, soybeans and a few other things. Yes, I have sold off buildings and machinery to make room to plant more 'crops'. Yes, I have built barns and botanical gardens and cottages. Yes, I have no freakin' idea what a tamarind/tamaroon/tampico (???)  tree is but I have several and I make "money" off them.

I have set my alarm clock to get up in time to harvest a crop so that I could plant another crop so that I could beat the timer on the co-op farming option. Yes, I have timed crop plantings so that they would be ready for harvest when I got home from work. Yes, I have emailed customer service because the Wandering Stallion wasn't showing up in my horse barn when I know good and damn well I clicked that button. Yes, I have  gotten mad as hell when gifts from friends have disappeared from gift box. Yes, I know I make more money and get more mastery points per plot planted with a soybean crop than with any other regular crop.

I built an army of seagulls. Yep - seagulls - on a farm. And I bought a dog. I have a dog named Rosebud. It's a red border collie.

I bought an empty Super Big Gulp cup @ 7-11 to get the Zynga code so that I could get a prize - I bought a hot dog too - there was a code on the box - but it was for Mafia Wars so that sorta pissed me off! I still ate it though ...

Don't judge me!

I got problems.

5.26.2010

How to Grow Asparagus, Year One - Spring

Year One - Spring
  1.  Dig a hole - a big ass hole - the kind of hole that makes your other half grit his teeth and roll his eyes at you behind his sunglasses because he doesn't think you can see it. Don't remove the top layer of sod like all the books say - just take the sharpest shovel you can find and start digging.
  2. As you sweat it out digging the hole silently curse your other half for letting you get yourself into this and for not saying a word when you started digging because he wants to be supportive and doesn't want to piss you off by telling you that you should be doing it the way the books say you should be doing it.
  3. Curse the crappy, heavy clay soil and the horse it rod in on because it's a big hole. It's way bigger than you think it should be and it will have turned into a real bitch to dig said hole but you've already started and he'll be watching. From a distance he'll be watching.
  4. When the hole is way bigger than you intended and you've decided your other half sucks for not telling you to stop digging an hour ago you will want to add as much gypsum, 10-10-15 fertilizer, peat moss and sterilized (you hope!) enriched top soil from your local nursery to the hole. Screw reusing the stuff you just dug up - this is your hole and you already bought the dirt to fill it with.
  5. After soaking them in lukewarm tap water for half an hour you will take 2 diff kinds of one year old asparagus roots and stick them in the hole you just dug and filled. Now, and this is important, completely ignore the spacing instructions on the "how to" sheet that came with them and just stick 'em in there. You will have bought too many. The hole really should be bigger (that's right - it should have been bigger!) and you'll be damned if you throw any of them out or take the time to add any more width to that hole. Little bastards'll just have to figure it out.
  6. Cover the roots with the topsoil, gypsum and other crap you just stuck in there, water and walk away. Pray your littlest rug rat doesn't fall into the hole and mess it up.
  7. Think about your littlest rug rat falling in the hole for about an hour then go back, put a box frame around the hole (okay it's more of a rounded edge square at this point) and cover with bird netting. She falls in now and it's her fault and she's digging you a new rounded edge square.
  8. Last but not least, don't forget to put all the sod and dirt you dug out of the rounded edge square onto a black plastic tarp right there in the middle of the yard so that anyone driving by or taking a peak in into the garden will see it and say "WTF!?" and then you can proudly tell them about steps 1-7 ... and as you do you will silently die a little inside as you try to ignore the stares and pitying glances; because as you regale them with the tale of your first asparagus planting they will no doubt know you don't know what the hell you're doing. And that tarp with the sod? It'll kill the grass and you will be reminded that the grass under that tarp is being murdered. You will be reminded pretty much on a daily basis clear up until you move it, but for every day you're reminded about that tarp and the dying grass underneath you will let it sit there. You will let that black plastic tarp with all that heavy clay soil and sod sit out there one or two extra days past the day you intended to make time to move it; and when the person who's been reminding you looks at you crazy and says "I told you so" you will ignore that person because you already knew it was dead. You will have looked under there every day. Once it is good and dead and sufficiently fried, then and only then, do you move the pile.
  9. Back to the rounded edge square - check it every day. Nothing will grow but weeds but check it every day anyway. Be sure to pull out anything you think is a weed - and just so you know - asparagus doesn't look a damn thing like a weed. It looks like anything but a weed. If it doesn't look like the asparagus you know and love then it probably isn't asparagus and you should pull it. Save yourself the heartache and embarrassment of later finding out it was a weed after you've let it get several inches high, emailed pics of it to friends, and invited folks into the garden to show it to them. Trust me ... Anyway, while you weed pretend you don't care there's nothing coming up. Pretend it's OK that the hole you slaved over and watered isn't producing anything. Just weed.
  10. After one month you will get pissed off. You will decide it's a done deal, loudly cuss out the guy at the nursery who promised you the damn things would grow (never mind you're in the backyard all alone and the neighbor's dog is staring at you - go right on cussin'!). You will storm into the house, grab up some seed packets and slam the screen door on the way back out - cussin' all the while. You will then lug out some leftover bags of soil from the still dirty shed you promised yourself you'd clean the weekend before and never did and you will take it over to the rounded edge square fully intending to fill it to the top of the box frame ... and just before you get ready to dump in that first bag of dirt you're gonna take one last look and find -

They grew.

5.24.2010

Gorilla in the Garden

My Mother's Day gift from D. and the girls. Best damn present ever! I hitched it to the tractor and towed a bunch of garden tools over to the inlaws today when we went over to help my MIL clear her garden bed. I didn't realize how very badly I needed something so very sturdy and stylish. Well, I really didn't need it to tell the truth about it but I'll be damned if I give it up! It is so very, very cool. I fully intend to put this sucker to good use!!!

A Gorilla and a couple of Crocs!

5.23.2010

Wants v. Needs

During the week I add to the ever growing list of things I tell myself I need to do and accomplish over the coming weekend. It's usually at least 15 or 20 things long. From laundry to cleaning to gardening to grocery shopping to personal stuff.

I usually end up carry things over from week to week and so it's a never ending list. I tell myself on Wednesday that by Sunday it'll be done and over but by 6pm on Sunday I'm crazy over all the things that still end up not getting done. Usually it's the laundry or the dusting or the gardening or some of the the cleaning. Here lately it's been "work". Usually something I've needed to remote in and go over or complete in time for the upcoming work week. Sometimes I can blow it off and get it done first thing Monday morning but not all ways.

Every Monday starts out pretty much the same as the Monday before - I'll mentally go over the list on my drive into work and admit I failed. At most maybe only half of it will have been completed and the stuff left over will piggy back on the 'new' list.

Maybe one day I'll put up a pic of my weekend list.

So it's Sunday. The garden is planted out (with the exception of a few transplants I'm scrambling to find homes for out back in my garden or in some one's somewhere!), the laundry is maybe half done (the kids are covered, D. is covered for the most part, and I still have two loads of my own to do), the cleaning of the storage shed didn't happen (but it will!) and I still need to log into work. There's at least 12 other things on that list and it's close to 4 ... and I'm sitting her blogging about how there's not enough time in my life to do the things I want to do and the things I need to do.

Wants v. Needs. An age old battle.

Hands down 'needs' win.

5.19.2010

Lettuce and Birthdays

Today marks the 14th anniversary of the birth of my eldest child. I feel so damn old. :)
B. is my joy. She's funny and smart, she's a talented musician and artist. She's 14 and she's beautiful. She can also be a totally obnoxious pain in the ass. She hates to clean her room. She hates to do her chores. I constantly have to remind her to do her laundry. To be honest about it, after one of her eye-rolling sessions, I have to think twice before following her too closely down a flight of stairs. Seriously - at times she has this super human ability to incite homicidal tendencies in me. She can be the biggest turd - she can be the turd of all turds.

She's my little girl.

The years are passing quickly but the memory of the day she was born never fades. My chest will always tighten at the memory of the first time I saw her face; at the way she turned her head toward the sound of my voice. I can still feel the weight of her in my arms. I can still smell the 'new baby smell' that was totally her and her alone. She did me a solid that day too - not just the whole being born thing either. See, her dad didn't want to cut the cord. Admittedly, he did turn green at one point during the delivery, but come on! He also made some ornery comments about not wanting to touch her until they cleaned her up. Okay, okay that's cool. Well, they didn't put a diaper on her right away; they swaddled her and put a little hat on her head and handed her to her daddy - 5 seconds later, right on cue, she peed on him. It was, without a doubt, the most awesome day ever. She was, and still is, the best kid ever. Even if sometimes she's a turd.

... and I harvested lettuce today! Yummy! Me thinks that May 19th is a good day. Henceforth, May 19th shall be recognized not only as B.'s bday but also as the day to begin the lettuce harvest in the Pit. Probably shouldn't tell B. she has to share her bday with the lettuce though. She doesn't particularly care for dirt and she's still not totally down with the gardening thing yet.

*side note - the peeing on daddy thing became a tradition of sorts. Nearly 7 years later S. did the exact same thing the first time D. held her too! My girls rock!

5.18.2010

Dirty Deeds

I have to clean the garden shed. Not just clean as in straighten things up - but clean as in pull everthing out, hose it down and whitewash it. I wish I could lie and say that half of the mess in this shed is from the previous tenant but that would be wrong. The shed was probably the cleanest spot on the property when we moved in! It's all me and it's sad. There are hay bales, garden tools, bird netting, bamboo, old window frames ... I blame no one but myself. It was empty. Yes I could have taken a few more steps past the threshhold and put a couple of things up on the shelves. I could have stacked stuff neatly against the wal but it was all empty and just dropping it was quicker! After a long day it was easier to just dump it there. It's gonna be a dirty job. No way I could bribe the girls into it and I probably couldn't even sweet talk the husband into taking a stroll back there. I suppose with my other half I could talk him in to doing it but it wouldn't be fair. He did afterall remember the wistfull look on my face when I first saw it and ran out and got me an awesome Gorilla cart for Mother's Day. It wouldn't be fair to ask him to help clean up this mess.

Although I will say - D., if you're reading this and in the mood to be super duper sweet to me ... :) ...

I have plans for this shed. Big plans actually. I imagine how cute and quaint it'll be once it's painted and landscaped. I'd love to have a nice stone/gravel path cutting down through the side yard, past the garden and right straight up to the doors. Maybe an old gliding rocker out there to sit and chill on? Clean the windows and fit some screens up there and figure out some lighting inside. A little paint and some flowers it could be a cool spot to be able to just get away.

So, come rain or shine, this weekend my number one priority (other than getting out the rest of my seedlings and tossing around some seed) will be cleaning up the shed. Hopefully the raccoons haven't been hiding out in there - don't want to piss them off - still on the hunt for the little bastards as it is.

5.17.2010

Waiting Games

I'm a very impatient person. If there is one thing that I've learned through my gardening experiences it's that patience is not only a virtue but if you're going to grow stuff it's a freakin' requirement. You have to wait for the soil to dry out so it can be worked. You have to wait for the air temps and the soil to warm up to plant seeds. You have to wait for those same seeds to sprout. Then you have to wait for the fruits and vegetables from those seeds to ripen. Yada yada yada.

It's nothing but one long ass waiting game but it's worth it.

While I have to admit I've been a little pissed off at the rain, the chill in the air, the mud my girls seem to want to tromp into the house and on to the hardwood floor, not to mention the fact I just wanted to be outside and couldn't, it would seem my garden has been more than a little appreciative. I went out yesterday but that was just to put up bird netting - really nothing more than a quick in and out! Today I finally slogged out through the wet grass to take a good look at the happenings back there and am not so pissed off at Mother Nature as I was a day or two ago.

Turns out I now have sprouting asparagus (ok - one spindly little asparagus frond shouldn't count but it does - hell I didn't even expect that to come up!), the compost has produced some volunteer 'tators from some tinier than tiny lost causes from last years grow bags. I guess they could be from some kitchen scraps I tossed out there too but I don't really care - it's really cool watching them come up!

The tomatoes are growing like weeds and the onions and garlic are gorgeous. The peas are coming up beautifully and growing taller and stronger. A few pea seeds I planted out just before the first hard rains earlier this month finally sprouted and are now filling in some gaps on the chicken wire fencing I put up for them to climb on. The bush and the pole beans are starting to come up too.

One rainy day about a week ago I had tossed some carrot seeds into one of the tomato beds, pressed them into the soil (didn't cover them!), layed a light straw mulch over them to keep them from washing away and almost forgot they were there. Luckily I saw them poking through today and marked the spot. The lettuce is finally ready and the radish are on track to finish up in time for me to throw out some squash and zucchini in their place. This weekend, come hell or high water, the radish need to come out. Didn't realize I had used up so much real estate to plant out more after the first harvest - won't be sad about it but total waste!

And then there are the strawberries. Me thinks I'm gonna love having my own strawberry beds. Have a lot of flowers and runners and berries in those beds. Gonna be sweet!

With the exception of the lettuce leaf basil (the only freakin' basil the slugs seem to like this year!) the herbs and flowers I planted are doing extremely well.

Overall it's a good start to the season.

I still have melons, corn (both sweet and popcorn), cucumber and a couple of peanut plants to put out. Then there's the sweet potatoes and the rest of the tomato transplants and one sad lonely pepper plant I picked up because I had an extra bucket for the 'bucket brigade' I needed to use and thought it would be perfect for; s-u-c-k-e-r.

Yeah - I have a full growing season ahead and I couldn't be happier. Maybe this year I'll actually be able to get B. to spend some time with her mother outdoors. She's fourteen and tries to live on the internet. Note the emphasis on 'tries'. Can't seem to shake S. - she's along for the ride full steam - best helper a mother could have. :)

I should be knocking on wood right about now. I'm probably jinxing myself being all prideful and stuff about the early successes. S'ok I guess - I'll be paying my dues soon enough - I have about a weeks worth of weeding to do in the next day or two. I guess that's one thing you don't have to wait for when gardening - with weeds there's never a waiting game to be played. C'est la vie!

5.15.2010

... goin' huntin'!


I was ok with the little holes and pits I found in the unplanted soil in my garden. I was ok with it because I just knew it was a squirrel and figured there was probably little I could about it. Besides that they scare me. Some squirrels can fly and that's just wrong.

After convincing myself it was the squirrels I let the matter drop. That is until I started finding these weird little holes in my compost. Now I'm thinking "what the hell?". Rats? Snakes? What? As time went on the holes got just a wee bit bigger and they started multiplying. I started to think that maybe it wasn't the squirrels after all. Well duh.

After months of avoiding what was right in front of my face I finally had to admit we were being invaded by "hoodcoons". I preferred the squirrel theory. And the rat theory and the snake theory. I don't like raccoons. I don't like them at all.

Raccoons in the hood don't scare. I mean I know that raccoons are not a shy and timid kind of creature but the raccoons in my hood do not play. They.Do.Not.Play. Let me say that again - They.Do.Not.Play.

I take that back - yeah they do because once they know that you know that they're there it's almost like it becomes a game for them. They mess with your stuff (tried to tip over my rain barrel - they actually moved it but couldn't get it turned over I guess), they dig in your garden and they poop directly in front of the door to your garden shed because they know you know there shouldn't be poop there so you won't be looking to avoid stepping it and raccoon shit stinks. It also doesn't wash off well for some reason - I had to pour bleach in my shoes - they're in the trash because they still stunk. They're after me and I'm not being paranoid.

They're after me and it's not all in my head. It's not!

They were on our front porch and it wasn't even full on dark either but there they were - just chillin'. Tony and Stella. Just kicking back and enjoying the view and the breeze from the relative comfort of our front porch.

It was a breezy day. Our front door was open with the screen door latched to let in some fresh air. The wind was blowing pretty good so I didn't pay any mind when I heard the gentle tap tap on the screen door. At least not the first time. The second time - a little louder even - I took notice. When there was a third and louder tapping I realized something was up. I get up and go look and they, yes they, were out there knocking on the freaking door.

Seriously the one knocking looked at me as if to say, "Bitch you gonna let me in??". I yelped, scared myself and started laughing and I swear I saw Stella cut her eyes at me before they turned and meandered down the steps. They took their sweet time about leaving too (at least it felt like they were taking their sweet time!) but off they went to yet again violate my compost pile.

Don't get me wrong. I like animals. I like them a lot ... I wouldn't say I love them but I do like them. We have kitties and frogs and an ant colony. The cats pretty much take care of themselves - the ants and frogs are contained and not in my face. I like them just fine but if push comes to shove I will kill a damn raccoon.

I don't like raccoons. They have thumbs and like the flying squirrels they freak me out ... and right now they are fucking with me.

They got to go ... one way or another they have got to go.

5.14.2010

Fresh from the Chicken's Butt

Enough whining about the unfairness of Mother Nature and how the bitch can ruin the best laid plans. Blah blah blah - it's been raining and it's been chilly and it's sucked. Planting out is going to have to wait a little longer but I did get some good news in the past few days.

Got an email from
My Pet Chicken and the chicks and coop are on their way! The chicks are scheduled to ship on time and should be here at the end of the month. The coop will be here next week. I'm excited. Really excited. School girl squealing, crying and passing out excited. I know they're just birds but these are pets with benefits! They lay eggs and they have entertainment value. I protect, house and feed them and in exchange they give me eggs.

Cats don't do shit. Dogs don't do shit. The way I see it, with the chickens it's a win-win situation.

***to all animal lovers - yes I know cats and dogs are cool - but they don't do shit!***

Of course I thought long and hard about whether I trully wanted chickens. Ok, it was 2 seconds total but wanting and doing are two totally different things. I needed to take a lot of things under consideration before actually placing the order. Lots of research and soul searching - especially about cleaning up poop. I do live in the city in a very urban area. Gotta think about things like becoming a full time chicken keeper before doing them. Had to research codes and ordinances. I made sure I got the true scoop on the rules and regs of poultry in the city and I intend to be in compliance to the very letter of the law as any good citizen of this fair city should.

However, if my coop sits a few feet closer to the neighbor lady's house than it probaby should I figure it's gonna be okay.

The way I see it is this - if the cops were no where to be found when D.'s car and my van got jacked for our tags and renewal stickers (collectively a grand total of 5 times) and despite the fact police reports had to be filed to replace them (which cost money for the copies of the report that you have to have to get replacements!) and we still go about a week without ever seeing a cop in our area, then my lovely neighbors can deal with my coop being 2 feet outside of the "mandated" distance in the ordinance.

Let's be fair - if I can hold my tongue and not make waves about the fact that 10+ people suddenly reside in a sect. 8 house across the way, a spot that used to house a family of 4 + an infant (oh the family is still there - they just added some folks) then a foot or two outside of the 100 feet should be cool.

The weekly card parties in the house up the street with the rude ass people who don't know how to park? Yeah the old couple that hosts the parties leave us alone and stay up the street but still ... the whole situation really annoys.

Then there's the guy with the landscaping biz who likes to empty his water tanks or pool or something or other into the street 3-4 times a year. The run off washes down the street and into our driveway, onto the sidewalk and our lawn. It doesn't always smell pretty - like stank butt crack. Nothing we can do about it though because according to the water dept. he's cool so long as it's not polluted water - but of course they won't send anyone out to check up on it and I ain't going up there to start a beef with that man - I still have to live on this block!


Then there's the gentleman behind us with the illegal car repair shop in his garage and the 3, count them 3!, shacks he threw up last summer to store/hide some old car crap ...

Yes the list does in fact go on.

Yeah I'm thinking folks can bite me.

Overall except for a few bad apples this is a great neighborhood but the bottom line is this - it probably wouldn't be a good idea to fuck with me about my chickens.


I asked myself a couple of questions. Like would I want to deal with the coop cleaning and the poop and the feeding and the watering and the egg collecting?
Do I have the time to take care of all of that?
How would I protect them from predators (people and animals)?
Time and money is going into starting up my little flock - if I wasn't sure I wasn't going to do it.
I think I've prepared myself pretty well. I put more thought into this than whether or not to have kids that's for sure! Ok - I shouldn't admit that out loud but it's true. I'm a great mom - hubby says so all the time - but motherhood just sorta showed up and I went with it. Love the little boogers but this is different. I'm paying upfront and outright for the chickens! :)

To get a peek into what it's like to have an urban flock I took a basic chicken keeping class at Badseed Farm - that's their flock here. It was informative. There was a lot of stuff I'd already found out for myself but I also found out some cool stuff (chickens like pasta!) and some stuff I hadn't even thought about (using a kiddie pool for a brooder!).
Of course it was cold and rainy so I was only half listening. I was more into eyeballing their farm setup and watching the flock but it was a great time.

Months ago I asked the kids and my other half to each pick out a breed of chicken they would want to attach themselves to. Actually it was more like I researched the breeds for what I wanted in a chicken and her eggs and then gave them some limited choices to choose from; otherwise I know one of the girls would have picked a silkie bantam and I wasn't risking it. Then I waited. I mulled my decision for what seems like forever but after the class at Badseed I came straight home and placed the order.

If I had any real doubts about this it's definitely too late now!

Soon I will be a proud surrogate mama to an Easter Egger, a Speckled Sussex, a Gold Laced Wyandotte, a Rhode Island Red and an Australorp. All of these breeds are considered to be cold hardy (Midwest winters!), strong layers and docile birds. If all goes well they will produce an average of at least 2 dozen eggs per week. If things go really, really well maybe more.

... soon there will be poultry in the Pit!