Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Self Portrait

I love this picture. Not exactly a flattering photo, but it is one of my favorites none the less. This is me in my homemade apron, forever rolled up jeans, and muck boots. If my face were in the shot I would have on my GIANT blue with white stars sun glasses that cover most of my face and a big floppy orange straw hat. That is my look most days. This photo makes me smile.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Planning a new place for planting

I am thinking of planting. Now I know, lettuce aside, I will not be planting anything out of doors for at least another month and a half, but one can hope and dream.

The site at the left is the new garden. It has a bit more shade than last years site, BUT this site is not 20 feet from 5, yes 5, black walnut trees. So even with the shade the garden will be more productive than the pitiful poisoned  one of last year. If you do not know, Black Walnut trees produce a toxin called Jungalone that is toxic to a vast array of vegetation. Most garden plants are susceptible to the toxin and either die outright, die just before bumper crops are nearly ripe (as was the case with my tomatoes last season), or they produce such sad and measly crops they aren't even worth the work. Informative tidbit over.

Back to the new garden. This site is partially shaded for just a few hours a day and I figure lettuce and broccoli will appreciate it. The straw covered portion is only about 1/4 to 1/3 or the entire length. Eventually this will be the area for our 6, 4x12 raised beds, but we are still a few years off from being able to construct those. There are other more pressing construction issues to get to first, like building a duck house under that truck topper...

Yes the garden is right off of the poultry yard and I purposely placed it just there. Some might say I am asking for trouble putting my garden within eyesight of birds, but I think it will be a good thing. There will be a gate allowing the birds, when I choose, into the garden for forage and for pest control and then to keep them out all other times. They will be separated from the garden with a 4 foot fence so I am not too concerned about security. If it keeps them in the pasture, it should* keep them out of the garden.

The placement of the garden has another driving force behind it, convenience. We spend most of our time in the summers in the barn and duck yard. With this arrangement I might actually get some weeding done without having run after someone who is going for the duck yard. I hope I am not constantly running after someone who is running for the back of the house, one can only hope but time will tell. I suppose if it isn't more convenient and safe we will just have to get the play yard up this summer, darn too bad.

Now if I can just get my wonderful neighbor to till it for me all will be right with the world. The Asparigus and Strawberries are still in the back garden for now, as well as all our foundation plantings. I will move the garden plants when we have our raised beds, as they don't seem to be bothered by the walnuts. And the foundation plantings will go back to their foundation homes after we regrade the house in a few weeks. All in all things are going very well. 

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Just a Friendly Public Service Announcement

Hello friends. Just a reminder that when walking on your property, or anothers, in brush please be pay attention to where you step. Earlier this week I had the unfortunate priviledge of stepping on the one board in the 1/2 acre I was walking, while placing my foot in in the exact section of the board with a 3 inch nail through it.

Yes folks, I had the unfortunate privilege of putting a nail through my muck boot heel and about a 1/2 inch into my foot. Luckily I made contact with my heel, instead of the ball of my foot, which is considerably thinner rubber and woudl have caused much more damage.

I dont know which makes me more mad the fact that I put a nail in my own foot OR the fact that I in basically ruined a pair of muck boots that aren't even a year old. Harumph.

So please friends, look before you step. It could save you money and the humiliation of walking like an idiot for a few days because your foot hurts too much to walk normally.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Muscovy fuzzy butts

Last Friday and Saturday we had our second hatch of the season, this was a very small hatch of Muscovy ducks. 5 eggs were sat on and 4 hatched. It is now a week later and they are thriving beautiful little cutie pies.

The new little fuzzy butts are in the foreground and are considerably smaller than their week older buddies.

Our lavender and white one is snuggled up next to a Ancona almost dead center of the photo. This little beauty is our oldest. Then just under Lavi and to the right you have the two spot heads, they are the second and third I found and I have no idea which is older. And then way at the bottom facing us is the youngest, it is a chocolate and white and looks just like its mommy. I am assuming they are all females at this point, but it will be several weeks before I know for sure.
 I am no good at vent sexing when they are this little so I will wait, at least 6 weeks to try. It is astounding to me the difference in size between the day old hatchlings and the week old ones. The Ancona's are DOUBLE the Muscovy size and they are only 7 days apart. Mother Nature is truly amazing.

The crane, the crane.

 Another reason I love my home.
Over breakfast I was looking out the window and I saw this.
Two Sandhill cranes snacking in the field behind our home. They couldn't have been 25 yards from the house. I love that my home is on their migratory route and that they are landing so close to the house to have some breakfast with us. Just one more moment of joy, brought to us by the natural world.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fuzzy Butts

A second sign of spring arrived as of last Saturday, that was when our first clutch of our own ducklings hatched.

Out of a possible 14 Ancona eggs, 13 hatched, and 12 made it. I consider this a smashing success and I think I will only use broody hens to hatch from now on. We let two girls start sitting in the middle of February, which is not the best time to sit on a clutch of eggs that are heat sensitive in an unheated barn in north-most Indiana. But clearly those ladies did their job.

We are now waiting for the remaining eggs under Momma D to hatch. She had 6 Muscovy eggs under her origionally, but earlier this week one was oozing so it had to be disposed of. Oozy or stinky eggs are a BAD sign. Rightly it was quickly removed and thankfully no disaster occurred. Muscovy take an extra week compaired to Ancona so these 5 are expected to hatch today, tomorrow, Sunday, or Monday.

This morning when I checked on the little fuzzy butts there was a new hatchling under Momma D so things are going well. It is a little lavender and white Muscovy babe. I am super excited. 1 down 4 to go! Another egg has a pip, which is a wee little broken pushed out piece, so I am hopeful we will have #2 by days end. I hope to have one more, really big, Muscovy hatch this spring and then we will be all set for duckies this year. A Muscovy hen can hatch and raise as many as 18 ducklings per hatch, we are only looking for about 12 more if all 5 of this hatch make it.

And, we downsized the Ancona flock before the hatch, I am not totally crazy I mean who wants 35 ducks!? Well I do, but we don't have anywhere to house 35 ducks right now, maybe someday. We used to have 15 Ancona adults and now we are down to 9. One or two of whom I think will go in the next month or so. I don't really need that many adults, but the buyer for my other 6 wanted trios, so that is what he got.

Now we just need to get the old truck topper converted into a duckhouse and get the little duckies feathered and the way will be cleared for our other poultry projects.  We will get our goslings in May? I think, and maybe turkeys then as well, I am still wresteling with the idea of chickens as well, I think or how wonderful it would be but then I remember how much I really don't care for live chickens...

For now spring has been good to us, much has been accomplished, and there is much more to do. I fear poor weather is on its way, at least that is what the weather people are telling me this week. But that is midwest living people, 68 degrees one day and 20 with an ice storm the next. It is only March in northern-most Indiana after all.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


I would say spring has sprung, but where I live, it might have just "spr-". One never knows what the weather will do till the end of April round these parts. Anyway, I don't care, the weather is beautiful and I can get things done outside around here, Huzzah!

My first task this spring is to get the apple trees puned, did I say pruned, I meant hacked within an inch of their lives. When we bought our home, just almost a year ago, it came with 7 apple trees spread over the property. One was in such bad shape the only option we had was to cut it down and another will probably have go at the end of this season, but the remaining 5, one of which has 4 kinds of crab apple on one tree, are in healthy enough shape but have not been puned in at least 10 years or so. They are terribly  overgrown and will be in even worse shape when I am through hacking away.

This is my first adventure pruning apple trees without being an assistant or being supervised. I have seen many an apple tree pruned but have never had full discretion to be the architect. After many conversations with my father, my go to when it comes to questions about trees, animals, and general outdoorsy things, and after many books on pruning I have officially started my 2010 pruning. The yard is strewn with limbs and the tree looks pretty sad at the moment. I do not expect much of an apple harvest this year, but at least we will be able to mostly reach and see what we harvest we will end up with. Next year should be better, but who knows what it will hold.

I am wishing we had our chipper so I could make short work of the limbs. I am also wishing we had our smoke house up and running, we will have a mass of apple wood chips at the end of this and I can think of nothing better than delicious smoked goodies. The smoke house is still about 8 years away sadly, but it will happen, oh yes it will. I suppose we can probably sell our apple wood chips...hmmm, I will have to look into that venture.

On the docket for today is more massive pruning, I have yet to finish my first tree, granted it is going to be the hardest to prune, but I still have 6 left. I have a feeling Mr. T is not going to appreciate all my hard work and all he will see is the mass of limbs in his yard, heck at this point that is all I see. Well a mass of limbs in the yard and 5 big limbs way up in the top that NEED to come out and I have no idea how to get to them. I am not as spritely as I used to be so climbing up into the tipps tops of trees is, one- scary and two- fairly hazerdous. I think I will be dragging the ladder out of the garage and hoping it doesnt sink 3 feet in the mud.

Other spring things include our second annual receiving of 1/4 cow, there is considerably more meat in the freezer this year than with last years cow, so hopefully it lasts much longer. Also we, I mean me, are anxiously awaiting our ducklings to hatch.  Jerry (an Ancona hen) and Momma D (a Muscovy hen) have patiently been sitting on their clutches for several weeks now. At last candeling we had 20 babies growing and thriving. What we will do with 20 ducklings I really don't know but I am very excited to see what we get.

I am now off to enjoy a beautiful spring day. Mr. T is working second shift today so he will be watching the little ones and I will be working away. I am very grateful to have a day, during the week, to work without interuption, for a few hours anyway. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Today we are 5 years old and 28 years old

Today is a special day in the T house. Today is my birthday, AND today is also MAT'S birthday, his 5th. Yes folks that's right 5 years ago this Moma labored on her birthday and got the greatest gift one could ever ask for, a healthy baby.

He has been an adventure from the start. From the delivery 7 days after his due date, to my 8 hour labor, to his 8 pound 14 ounce birth weight, to his sleeping for no more than 2 hours at a time for the first 15 months, to his walking at 9 months, to his locking me out in the rain with the deadbolt at 20 months, to his baby powdering of the living room at Christmas time to make it "snow" indoors, to his becoming a big brother and wearing it so well, to the virtual loss of my own birthday because his is more important to me than my own, to his starting at a new pre-school TODAY, to his turning 5 today, it is always an adventure and I wouldn't have it any other way.

To my first born son, Happy 5th Birthday MAT, may the adventures continue forever more. And may you learn to use your evil powers for good, you crafty crafty little evil genius you. Your Moma loves you.

Oh and I turned 28 today, yay...

"I'm saving the earth...and my gas bill. What are you doing?"

Yes, that is snow on the ground and yes, that is our laundry hanging out. It is 42 degrees, the snow is deceptive, and the sun is shining. It takes a bit longer to dry than on 75 degree days, but it still gets dry, given 6 hours of sunlight. It is a little chilly while hanging it but totally worth it for the "green" benefits, both earthly and monetarily.

I am astounded at all the people who had no idea one could hang their laundry to dry in the winter. My first thought is, "how do you think they dried laundry in the winter before dryers?"
People crack me up.

Monday, March 1, 2010

It's just what I always wanted...

Ok not ALWAYS, but it is just what I have wanted since we moved in.

Once again I will sing praises of

On Saturday morning I was perusing the local furniture section of craigslist, as I do most Saturdays, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, looking for any useful and needed pieces at the right price that we might need. I always look at cupboards, pantry's, and hutches because...well we are short on food storage space and we end up with much of our food on the counters and stored in strange inconvenient places.

As I was looking I saw a listing for a pantry at a reasonable price and in the town only a few miles away. I thought "it is probably in terrible condition, but it is so close I will check it out anyway."

I clicked and woosh! up pops this huge and gently used pantry. It is perfectly colored and designed to match our existing cabinets, maybe a hint dark, but I do not care. Oh and best part the listing is literally minutes old. So I emailed, first person by the way, and got a call back. Mr. T went to pick it up.

Perfect. I decided it was for my birthday, which is actually Wednesday and my present was going to be Mr. T building me things of my choice, one of which would have been a pantry. Some may scoff at my purchase of housewares as a birthday gift, but I don't really like jewelry, don't need any new clothes, can check out any books I might want from the local library, and this monstrosity of a cupboard WILL make my life easier and happier.

I now have the space to keep all our food in the kitchen, AND my paper towel in the kitchen, rather than the bathroom. My appliances all have a place as well as my water bath caner, it lives in the top of the pantry with the towels, gardening seed storage, and items that are too large to fit in the shelves. I even have two shelves in my regular kitchen cabinets that are basically empty.

Another bonus of this is it forced a food clear out. Now all the food in our house is food we eat. What we don't eat or won't eat, as is the case for canned peas, we are donating to the food bank that gave us food when Mr. T was laid off. They took care of us so we are giving back. They are also going to be getting a steady stream of duck eggs as well, we currently have 12 dozen in the fridge, and the oldest is from the 17th of February.

It is my birthday I can ask for and declare my present to be whatever I want it to be. Plus, Mr. T is still gonna have to build me the other stuff someday anyway.