Tuesday, May 26, 2009

An Ocean of Trees.

On top of the goat/chicken fence and going on spider hunts, we did a lot of brush work.  A. Lot. 
I am so sore I can barely move today.  I have blisters on my hands and feet (That is with wearing heavy duty work gloves and thick socks) I'm walking around like a little old woman, I'm sunburned and even my fingers hurt.  But, it is a great workout and my biceps are looking good so it's okay.

For those of you that have no clue what I am talking about.  Brush work refers to clearing up tree limbs, debris, and pine needles.  We had around 60 trees cut down on our property.  Now, before you start e-mailing me and telling me how awful that is, know that we had very good reasons for doing so.  

First, quite a few were in danger of falling on our house.  The others were cut down to make room for a pasture and a large fruit orchard.  (I plan on having 40-50 fruit trees, we already have 17 ready to be planted.)  The pines were very tall and sucking every ounce of sunlight from our property.  We had moss growing instead of grass. We strategically left a lot of trees around the property.  We are surrounded by hundreds and hundreds.  Anyway, I am also going to put a walking path going out to the orchard and herbs all along the path.  It is going to be so nice when we are done.  
My husband and I came up with a good system of working the trees.  He would cut the limbs up in about 4-6 foot sections, I would pile them up.  As he was cutting, I would get them out of the way as quickly as I could and pile em up.  Talk about a good workout.  Biceps, abs, gluts, thighs, back, calves.... Who needs an exercise program when your doing all this work?  

We had some tree guys come out to cut down and haul away the trees.  They sell the trees to a local paper mill.  It is how they make a living.  So, the service was free for us and benefited them.  We did not have enough trees to sell to the mill directly, so this was a good alternative for us.  The only stipulation was that they cut off all the limbs and tree tops and left them on the property.  They just haul away the trunk.  So, that meant a lot of work for us.  We knew it was going to be a lot of hard work, but oh my gravy.  All I can say is that we are both in very good shape now.  It has taken us several months to be almost done.  We finished up the majority of the work over the weekend.  
We still have some in the back of the house to do but it is not as overwhelming as what we have already tackled.  
Our four-wheeler came in handy when we were working the pasture area.  The trees were much more abundant and a whole lot bigger in that area.  We used the wench on the four-wheeler to wrap around bundles of the tree tops and limbs, then drug them to the burn pile.  It really saved us a lot of work.  Poor four-wheeler.  He went from moose, caribou, and sheep hunts in the Alaskan mountain ranges to being a farm mule.  He is past his prime.  

These piles do not look too big until you put it in perspective.  This is my husband.  He is not a small guy.  He is right around 6ft tall. Most of the piles tower over him.  

Next weekend.....burning.  
Maybe I'll have recovered enough by then.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Busy and dangerous weekend.

This weekend has been busy! First we had to complete the chicken/goat fence and enclosure out by the barn. By we, I mean my husband did all the work and I stood there handing him things. We (I really mean he) just need to put a gate on it and it will be done. We have let Ambi and the Divas out...That sounds like a pop group doesn't it? Anyway, we have let them out in their new enclosure and they really seem to like it. At first, Ambi was scared and did not know what we were dragging him out of his comfy barn for. Then he saw the yummy grass and went to munchin away.Until the big, mean, hungry dogs came and tried to figure out a way in so they could eat my precious animals. The squirt gun did not deter them much so........They had to be put in time out. On the tie outs. Mental note**Must figure out how to train dogs NOT to eat livestock. Protect..not eat.

Then came the dangerous part.
I have not seen a black widow spider in my entire life. Just this last week, we have found and killed 10. With their enormous egg sacks. (By we, I again mean my wonderful & handsome husband, except for one that was about to bite me. I stomped on it. A lot.) They are all over the tree stumps and branches under the trees we have been trying to clean up. They strike fear in my heart. I *know* we would be okay if we went straight to the hospital after being bit, but I just don't even want to go through that. We have been keeping the kids away from all the wood until we have their numbers greatly reduced. We have also shown them the spiders, what they look like from all sides, how to identify the web and what habitat they prefer. Hopefully, they won't get bit. We bought a riding lawnmower today and my husband mowed 3 acres around the house. I think that will help, along with doing a thorough check around the property. We have gotten rid of a lot of debris, so hopefully that will help as well. I found one on the gate to my goat pen. There is also a wasp nest on the gate. I am just so thankful I saw each venomous pest before it got me. That is hubby's first order of business tomorrow.

This is the hand of my brave husband. I would need a much longer stick and a whole lot more bravery. Aren't husbands handy?

Did you know that black widows can still crawl around after you sever them in half? No, well then here is a little show for you. Hopefully you can make out the front end of the spider. The back end was already smashed into a paste.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Do yourself a favor and watch this video.  It is about a young mother dying of bone and liver cancer.  She really struck a chord with me and reminded me of so many things I have been neglecting.  


It is almost an hour long but is worth every second.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Garden update. My oh my!

I was overjoyed when I checked on my garden this morning.  It is doing so well.  This is my first try at companion planting and at a large vegetable garden.  I can already see a difference in the health and productivity of the plants.  I did not even see tomatoes on the plants a few days ago..they are so big already.

Broccoli with fresh dew.  For some reason it reminds me of a large afro.  I keep picturing a broccoli cartoon character with bell bottoms and an unbuttoned shirt.  And hairy chest.  What? You don't?  Stayin alive,  stayin alive. ha ha ha ha staaaaayin aliiiiive..  Your welcome, now you'll have that song stuck in your head the rest of the day. 

Little yellow summer squash.  Zucchini.
We had this bad boy for dinner tonight.  Oh. my. heck.  How yummy he was with Parmesan and sweet onions and plum tomatoes and lots of butter.  Mmmmmmmmm.  Recipe to come
There is nothing more beautiful than purple beans.  They taste exactly like green beans but are just prettier.  The funny thing is they turn green when you cook them.  Things that make you go hmmmmmmmm.  

As a side note, beans are my favorite thing to eat straight out of the garden.  I will hide in-between the rows and eat them.  Just like when I was 5.  There is nothing...nothing like a bean straight from the garden.  Bliss. Until your children come up like hungry birds. "Can I have one? Can I have one? Can I have one?  I need a better hiding spot.

 It also brings up memories of my Dad. Geez... that sounded like he was deceased or something. How morbid.  No, he is alive and well and wonderful.   Anyway, he had a gigantic veggie garden when I was little.  I am astounded at how he managed it all by himself.  It had to be at least an acre big.  He did it all by hand.  He built a sprinkler system.  He built supports.  He hoed and raked and worked his butt off.  He was and is dynamic and driven and the hardest worker I have ever seen in my life.  I always thought he was strong and wise and invincible.  I wanted to be just like him. He also had a compost, chickens and another garden in the back of the house. The point is, (I always digress) I use to sneak out in the garden and eat green beans.  I thought I was sneaky, smart, cunning, stealthy.  I was not.  He saw me every time.  He was wise enough to let me steal the green beans because they were healthy.  And I wouldn't bug
 him for candy.  He let me think I was sneaky.  Now, I am a hard-core health nut and gardener.  Thanks Dad!  I always get warm fuzzies when I eat fresh beans.

Have you ever seen prettier corn?? No, you have not.  If you have, just lie and say mine is prettier.  I love the red and green contrast.  So beautiful!  And, no, those are not overgrown weeds, they are sugar snap peas.  They are using the corn and some bean poles for support and to help them grow. My awesome friend, Jamie, planted this row of peas.  That is why they are thriving so.  She is the most loving and wonderful person.  They have thrived under her care.  

 The peas provide nitrogen for the corn and the corn provide shade.  They get along swimmingly. Okay, so if you look at the bottom of the picture, those ARE weeds but that's okay.  I'll get to it over the weekend.  The pine straw really helps keep the weeds to a minimum.  Worth every drop of sweat it took to rake up and pick out every pine cone and stick.  Okay, not every stick.  Just don't look too close.  

This is my "first" row.  It has corn, peas, yellow squash, cucumbers and marigolds.  They all get along well and the marigold helps keep pests out.  I planned for 18 inches of space between rows.  That is a good amount of space for me to work in.  I am kind of petite, so getting between the rows is really not a problem, but I did not anticipate how large and full and robust the squash and cucumbers would get.  They were kind of running together a bit.  Next year, I will probably provide at least two feet to give them a bit more room.  The spacing has not affected the growth of the plants, just the ease of getting around them.

The row on the left has beans, marigolds, pansies, corn, okra, peas and cucumbers.  On the right are Blue beans, cauliflower, corn and peas.The row in the middle has corn, peas, beans, and cucumbers and pansies and marigolds.  The flowers are in every row though, so I will stop repeating that over and over.  They are there. Trust me.

Lets see, now we are on the row in the middle.  That has beans and broccoli.  Also, you can't see it well but there is also romaine lettuce toward the end.Beans and peas.  Beans and peas.  Can you tell what my favorite veggies are yet???

The row on the right has beans, peas and red potatoes.  You can see one row of tomatoes poking out.  There is cauliflower and Brussels sprouts in there somewhere.  
Some of my tomatoes.  I have 3 rows of tomatoes.  That is like 30 tomato plants.  I am going to start making my own tomato supports.  The are getting expensive.  I have yellow stripe, big boys, beef steak, cherry and yellow pear.  I love the smell of tomato plants.  I would roll around in it if I could.  There is basil planted between each tomato plant.

There are several more rows to show but it started raining and I did not want to mess up my already deteriorating camera.  I have used the heck out of it.  One day I will tell you of my fantasies of having a Nikon D-80.  Right now, the sticker price just hurts too much and I can not speak of it.  

Just imagine strawberries, spinach, artichokes, radishes, yard long cucumbers, watermelon, grapes, and herbs up the wazoo.  

The garden is really coming along.  

Part 2...The Museum

There are several of these sculptures outside the museum.  They are made completely of vines, by hand.  They are really cool.  They remind me of something the "Whos" in "Who ville" would live in.  The hallway leading to the children's museum regularly features local student's art.  Some of the pieces are REALLY good.  The one above was a wonderful pencil piece with lots of neat detail.  Albeit a little sad.  These little guys are just inside the children's museum.  They remind me of my kiddos.  Wild and colorful and strange.This is a collage of all used art materials.  This is what my home school room looks like at the end of every day...Just not as organized.There are computers to learn all about different aspects of art.  Have you noticed most of the pictures of this boy are the back of his head?  Or a hat covering his face?  The boy hates it when I take pictures of him.  He is going to be 30 and think he was  not as loved because I have less pictures of him than the other children. Imagine the therapy.  This is a neat balancing square that toggles back and forth until both sides are, well, balanced.  An important aspect of any art piece. There is a really neat room where the kids can jump around and their silhouettes are cast on a screen.  I have no clue how this works and there is nothing that explains it there.  I'll have to find out though.  This is the kids favorite room.  The colors and the screen changes.  Soo neat.The elusive Brandon strikes again.

And now, another round of moody preteen.  I am going to get through her teenage years by taking pictures every second of the way.  It makes it so much more fun.  Then, I'm going to make a collage poster and give it to her children so they can make fun of their mom.  
Don't let her fool you.  She loves getting her picture taken.

Oh, look!  I got one and he is even kind of smiling.
Sort of.

I would have taken more pictures of the museum, but I was too busy embarrassing my kids.  Until the battery died.  Darn, I need to start carrying a back up.