Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A great Memorial Day weekend

So, we broke down and bought a "composter" this weekend. First, it's more visually appealing than our old pile of cow poop and rotting things but more importantly, it has a nice lid to keep our stupid dogs from eating said rotting things and then throwing them up in the house. It's also in a good place where it stays nice and warm. I didn't want a plastic one as I don't know how long it'll hold up to the UV here, but building my own is pretty far down on the list.

Next step is going to be to order some red wrigglers online. After an exhaustive search (including an odd conversation with the guy in town who "teaches" worm composting but never uses the right worms), I'll be ordering worms online, which to me feels almost as wrong as buying rocks.
Here's 38 cu. feet of rocks unloaded into the front rock garden. The sack hanging on the right is my thistle feeder.
Here's the veggie garden. The beans are in the back left corner with hopes they'll grow up the fence, the squash, pumpkins and cukes are in the front left square and the corn is on the front right. Tomorrow I'll plant the melons, tomatoes and peppers.
Here's for the most part our finished flower garden. I'll fill in later with some plants that flower later in the summer.

More excitingly, here's James installing our new toilet (finally!) It's a super sexy low-flow with dual flush. On the picture, the two buttons were labeled 1 & 2, so the curiousity was whether or not the ideas of bathroom issues being called 1 & 2 was universal. However, the actual buttons have a half-circle and full circle, which doesn't necessarily translate into "press here for solids and here for liquids" but we figured our guests could press either button 4-5 times before they would use the water of the old toilet, so we won't put up a sign on how to flush it, but will likely be known for having the weird toilet. (Just wait until I get my composting toilet eventually!!)

We spent Sunday visiting the local cemeteries and then had a nice barbecue with family and friends. As we were putting flowers around our families' headstones, it made me realize that I'm not certain how far down this tradition has been passed. My grandmother's generation (at least here) is pretty serious about this and I can remember going most years when we came to visit, but there were very few younger people out and about at the cemeteries. It's too bad, as I find its an excellent time to re-remember family history and reminisce. I guess since most people I know live far from where their ancestors did, it almost feels like an antiquated tradition, but one I am eager to keep as long as we live here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

More Progress

Here's the mostly completed front half of my flower garden. I'll eventually take it back to the stone steps, but I kinda ran out of flowers that weren't weeds. Hopefully, we'll head to the greenhouse for more perennials this weekend and I can finish it to the stone walkway. The goal is flowers in front of the stone walkway and veggies behind it. However, there's a peony plant, two bushes and a clump of tulips I'll leave for this season in the back. All in all, most of what's in there was salvaged from around the property plus some purchased phlox, salvia (including some really cool mis-marked discount salvia) and lamb's ear. There was a butterfly bush there already and something else that I can't identify quite yet, but I at least recognize it's not a weed :)

Here are my veggies I started inside. I'll supplement a little and start some seeds outside, as well as buy some tomato plants so I theoretically have a rotating harvest. My friend had used similar starters and hers all died before being planted, so I'm kinda hesitant about these.
Here's some prettiness that I just need to not screw up! Below are our apple and crabapple trees in bloom. They were actually much prettier yesterday before the windstorm, but I hadn't charged the camera. Here's the next project which is my rock garden on the front of the house. This side of the house gets lots of sun and is the first thing you see when you drive up, so I'm going for something low maintenance, like a rock garden. I got over my fear of the roto-tiller and tilled it up, then WyDOT nicely left these big ol' posts in our field, so we decided to salvage them to outline the garden. If the wind stays calm we'll get the weed mat down soon and go pick up some stone then I'll continue my plan to 'plant it" with old things like a wooden cart, a horse-drawn plow, an old pot-bellied stove, wagon wheels, milk cans, a crab pot etc. I like to think of it as "redneck sheik"

Hopefully I can get this done before the weekend. I kinda miss my birdfeeder outside the kitchen window. We had a visit from a Lazuli Bunting the other day (pic below from Cornell Ornithology) who is my favorite so far.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Garden Progress

So, here's the before picture of my 1st gardening goal. The plan is to use the first 1/4 of the garden for flowers and the back 3/4 as my vegetable garden.

Here's today's progress in the front corner. I transplanted some tulips that are in weird locations around the property to fill in around the two that were there and mulched. I also found some petrified wood and some old fence posts to contain the mulch. It's pretty generic, but a step in the right direction and though I feel guilty about buying mulch, I used old newspaper as my weedblock underneath. Tonight I'll go pick out some perennials to finish out the front of the bed, then I get to try to use the rototiller. Woohoo!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My New Project

So, Grandma Jennie was a fabulous gardener and was known as the woman with all the flowers. She specifically kept a lot of iris. Anyway, I'm starting to address the yard (something which should have been done for the past 2 years). So, here are some of the pictures of the yard during its glory years. I'll try and post some "current" pics next week and maybe use the blog as motivation to get this place back to some of its glory. I picked up some veggie seeds today and will start those indoors this week.

The family in front of Grandma's Hollyhocks. If I was really lucky when I came to visit, Grandma would let me pick a few flowers and make hollyhock dolls. It was one of my favorite things to do.Grandma and Papa and their grape harvest.
This bed has actually fared well over the years. It needs a bit of weeding and sprucing, and some piping management (our washer drains from the pipes in the corner). It's in a great corner of the house that stays nice and shady in the summer . . . but is not one of the first things you see when you arrive at the house.
More gardening fun. We won't garden this area of the yard for quite a while.
Iris were grandma's favorite flowers. Here's some of the many plants she kept.

The Inaugural Branding

So, my aunt and uncle just started their own herd of cattle and James went out to help with the "inaugural branding." Here are a few pictures from the day:

Here are the cattle below with the boys (not James this time) on horseback rounding them up.

Here they are neatly in the pen. Because this was the first branding of their herd, even the adults needed branded. James got the job of putting the crowbar into the chute behind the cow to keep it from moving. He apparently got pooped on a lot during this process, but unfortunately I was not there to get pics : (

After lunch, they branded the calves. Here they are moving the calves.And here's James as he tagged one of the calves named Bubba. Our family uses this nifty table thing for branding calves, so there are fewer newbie jobs to go around.

Here's my cousins wrestling a calf before it gets put into the table.Here's James manning the branding iron in the pot. Silly James forgot his cowboy hat and ended the day with a gnarly sunburn.

The calf on/in the table. One person would hold the hind end, one would brand, one would castrate, and another would administer the shots. It's quite the operation.

The actual branding.The celebratory beer afterwards.

And just for fun, a short video of my cousin showing off his cowboy skillz.

Friday, May 1, 2009

It's a . . .

picture of my approaching largeness. Due to "popular" demand (or lots of demand from one brother-in-law) here they are:

Oops! Dad forgot to get the baby in this one!

Anyway, pregnancy is funny. Mom took me to school to show me off and I got responses from "you're so tiny" to "wow! when are you due?" I also got scolded by a "gentleman" in the grocery store in Harrisonburg. As I was waiting for my parents to taste some beer, he gave me a waggin' finger and pseudo-lecture on not drinking. Yeah, that's me. I'm a dixie cup in the grocery store lush while I'm pregnant : ) I wish I had looked at him and said "Why not? I'm just fat!" but I was too shocked to say anything.

Five on Friday

1.  Look at these winter white legs out enjoying the sunshine at the dino park.  Spring has FINALLY sprung! These boys went from winter di...