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!
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 -
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
Sprouting garlic - Siberian hardneck ...
Abandoned tires found on the side of the road. Reclaimed to use as planters. Cleaned them up and put them out. I've heard it all about using these but they're a garden staple and in my opinion a must have - plus I think it's cool. Check out the crazy compost bin in the background - my overzealous husband put it in last spring. There's always ton of grass and leaves after he cuts the yard and it needed to be put to good use. So far so good - the 'hoodcoons' love it!
Putting in the onion bed ... they were so fragile looking!
D. putting in bed #6. God I love that man. Nothing sexier than a man working in the garden. He's so hot ...
... finally - S. and her lima bean, nasturtium and marigold. She's so cute - she weeds it everyday.
I know it's May. Kinda sorta mid-May but stil it's only May. Folks around here want to tell me that planting too early in May is not a good thing. Hell it's not that it's been overly chilly or even that the soil hasn't warmed up - at least not if you ask my soil thermometer which I think could be broken but what do I know - it's just too damn wet right now. Been there and done that and won't repeat that mistake - was a total nightmare last year but I couldn't help myself. I wanna plant!!!! Right now I'm fighting the urge. The soil has been untouched - if it wasn't out and tucked under a row cover before the rain it's not going out - at least for right now. The 'bucket brigade' has been helping to feed my dirt addiction. I can hold out for a little longer. Couple of days of dry weather and I should be back in business. Just gotta keep telling myself that warm weather and sunny skies are on the way.
Seriously though - the Pit is coming along nicely. I have expanded. Last year I had all of 2 beds, 2 buckets and a compost pile. I got lots of tomatoes and peppers (the peppers never fully ripened!) but not a lot of anything else. My oh my how things have changed. I now have a thriving garlic bed, 5 raised beds, an asparagus plot, 2 "reclaimed" tires playing host to several strawberry plants, the compost pile is a cooking, the potato bags are overflowing, my sweet sweet husband has helped me to haul dirt in Poppa George's old truck without so much as a complaint and I have a 'bucket brigade'. What is the 'bucket brigade'? Just that - a brigade of buckets. I didn't think my loving other half would let me till up more of the yard so I made a couple of mad dashes to the local bakery and procured several empty icing buckets. Drilled a couple of holes, threw in some rocks for drainage, mixed up my own special secret blend of bucket filler and plopped some peppers, 8-ball squash and tomatoes right in. So far so good. Nobody has keeled over yet.
I'm actually very proud of myself. I spent the winter learning to knit, make cheese and butter, bake bread (all of which I should be doing more of but which has taken a back burner to getting the garden rollin') and reading up on everything garden related I could find that held my interest. There wasn't a lot - it's all pretty much the same thing from book to book and the Internet, while fascinating to say the least, was pretty much the same. Had to think outside of the box and go 'old school' to find what I needed to get me started. Xmas gift subscriptions to Mother Earth and Grit replaced other mags in my monthly mail lineup. Homegrown.org became my online site of choice. So much to learn but not enough time to learn it. Now I'm winging it.
I have harvested radish and some lettuce. I have grown my own transplants for the garden but that ended badly for the 48 tomato seedlings murdered by an insane freak accident with some pesticide drift. I am planning more beds for some mid spring planting of corn, squash, cucumbers, melons and pumpkin. Basically I'm just going with it. Have to get some pics out here soon. It's great.
When I ordered the chickens and the coop I realized I had either lost my damn mind or finally, FINALLY, found it. No turning back now though - the chicks are ordered and paid for - just waiting for them to hatch and ship!
So - I'm trying this blog thing again. This year may not be as successful as my first. I may go further with this than I could have imagined. I feel good about the people I've met in the community through my burgeoning gardening ventures - hell people who like digging in the dirt are some of the most down to earth (no pun intended) people you'd ever meet - and every one I've met, talked to in passing or on the real have been absolutely wonderful and inspirational. I'm finding myself more tuned in to what is going on in the local urban ag community and I feel good about this road I'm on. Dragging the fam along. Not as much kicking and screaming out of them as I thought there would be which is good because I wasn't hearing it anyway!
So, The Corner Pit is relaunched.
Now if only I could get rid of the 'hood rat' raccoons who seem to like chilling on the front porch and out back in my compost pile ... for real though - before the summer is out I'ma kill a damn raccoon.