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Thursday, April 30, 2009

farm fresh eggs & landscaping

I thought I'd add this to tonight's blog for you city folks... If you've never had farm fresh eggs, (and I'm not referring to the ones in the store labeled 'farm fresh') you should give them a try. I decided to have a three-egg omelet for dinner tonight. Out came the camera. I decided a little milk in the bowl and a shot of mustard would let you see the difference in the yolk color. I can't wait until the new hens start laying. We have twenty-five that will lay 'Easter eggs'. Their yolk is so dark it's almost the color of an orange. But the taste? WOW! Yes, this omelet was yummy.

The point of my shame... These steps lead from my bedroom balcony to a point halfway between the pool area at the corner of the house and the patio below the deck. Yes, we have lived here five years and still use planks to cross over the mud! We have had many projects that seemed to have pushed their way to the top of the list... i.e. chicken house, horse stalls, goat shed, pastures, front gardens, vegetable garden, raised melon bed, driveway maintenance, chopping wood, electric fences, gates and posts, sick old people... Now, Hubby finally agrees to help me build this steps.

Here's the plan I drew up tonight: a landing at the bottom, four steps up to the pool area, parallel steps going down to the patio area, boulders, blue ornamental grass and pink flowers fill in between the structure and lawn, slightly taller plants bordering the foundation with pink in-between, cedar mulch

Let me know what you think. BTW, for those that will ask how I did this: I used excel to draw the wood plans, then copy/paste to paint to add the finishing details. I don't need a landscaping program.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Rubbing off on Hubby

Normally, Hubby rolls his eyes like a preteen when I pull out the camera. Although, most of the time it's just an act. (Once when his family was over and out came the memory-maker, he made an 'oh no' statement... I said, "Fine. I'll put it away and not take any pictures." He quickly back-stepped!) He rarely suggests that I grab my camera unless there's a beautiful sunset... and I already have tons of those shots.
Anyway, back to my story... I had some huge planters for the front porch and, since there was a break in the rain, was in the process of filling them with the annuals I bought today at the nursery. So Hubby, while standing in front of my weeping pine, says, "Man, this would make a great picture. Why don't you get your camera?"

Well, of course I had to see what would make him want me to pull out the camera. SquirrelQueen ( http://thrusquirreleyes.blogspot.com/ ) would be thrilled with what we found perched on the new growth...

Raindrops clung to the buds appearing as rhinestones.

This huge droplet was perched at the perfect spot for our observation.

If you look closely at the shot above and below,
you will see the reversed reflection like that of a gazing ball.

I'm so proud of Hubby for noticing the tiny droplets in his six-foot-five world!
How about you SQ?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fun in the Woods

Well, I've finally got the blog's comments working! Yea! Anyway, I didn't want to post just to tell you that, so here's a family video I'd like to share. On one of those nice warm November weekends, my daughter's family came up and played in the woods with us. In this clip, Grand #3 has figured out the sapling/bark catapult game!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Attitude of Gratitude Award!

What a week I'm having! My third award!
I was presented with this Attitude of Gratitude award from Jessica at http://countryfamilyrobinson.blogspot.com
1. Put the logo on your blog or post. -done-
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs that show an Attitude of Gratitude. -um... that's a lot-
3. Link to your nominees within your post. -ok-
4. Comment on their blogs to let them know they've received this award. -yeppers-
5. Share the love and link to this post and the person who nominated you for this award. -done-
Tell us how you've come to have an Attitude of Gratitude.
Thank you to all my followers, as well as those that stop in and comment without following. I am grateful for the kind words of encouragement. I am also grateful for the positive messages I read in your blogs. I have 'met' a lot of interesting people that have worthwhile things to say. I am very blessed!
So now I pass this award on to:
Ok, so I didn't do all 10, but it's getting late and I still haven't worked on my book...

Kreativ Award! Whoopee!

Thank you Jessica! I now have two awards to showcase on my blogs. What a wonderful week I'm having! This is a fun one - kinda like a survey bulletin...

I am supposed to tell you about 7 of my favorite things:

1. God. Without Him none of the other things matter.

2. when my grandkids compete over who gets to give me the very last goodbye kiss!

3. walking in the woods with our goats

4. quite time with my horse

5. my camera - I am lost without it.

6. landscaping my humongous yard

7. blogging & writing my book, really anything creative

Now I have to choose 7 blog friends to pass this award on to...
1. http://charmine-myfavorites.blogspot.com/

The seven I have chosen are quite varied in content, but similarly they all use blogging in a very creative way.
Now go pay it forward my Kreativ friends!

moving day - chick update

Yea! I actually have my garage back! Well, we don't really use it as a garage... It's usually to full of junk. But at least I can use the back door again. A couple of days ago I caught one of the babies standing on the tallest waterer, looking over the wall for a landing zone. Yesterday Hubby had to catch one and put it back in the pen. Plus, since they had quadrupled in size, they were starting to create a smell. So the eviction notice was served. Hubby got busy and finished their new home in the big hen house.

He had no plan on how to get them from point A to point B. Yeah, somehow I knew I was going to get stuck with the dirty work. I got a piece of greenboard that was small enough to handle but large enough to almost reach across their enclosure and slowly herded them down to one end. Then it was just reach in, grab one, stuff it in the kitty-carrier... Hubby took some video of me collecting them for the journey, but he's not so good with the camera. Anyway, I cut out this clip of me showing him one of the birds I call angel wings. It looks so beautiful in the sunlight.

Seeing them sleep took some getting used to. At first we kept thinking they had died! They stick their heads down in the bedding and some of them stretch out in such an abnormal looking posture. As soon as a bunch get into a nice deep slumber, one will come ripping through the crowd to wake them up. It's a wonder any of them got any sleep at all!

I still can't believe we haven't lost a single chick! That's very unusual. Hopefully that won't change now that they are outside. It will be a little harder for Hubby to maintain a constant temperature, but before long they will be acclimated to the outdoor temperature. Wonder how the old gals are going to sleep tonight with all the babies chirping...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

technical glitch...

So much for my pretty blog. Apparently, the comment link does not function correctly using pYzam layouts. Bummer. Well, I'm not going to spend a ton of time making them pretty again, otherwise I'll get no actually writing done. So it's back to the plain layout until I learn HTML.
But at least it's fixed now so I can receive your comments. I've missed you!

technical glitch...

So much for my pretty blog. Apparently, the comment link does not function correctly using pYzam layouts. Bummer. Well, I'm not going to spend a ton of time making them pretty again, otherwise I'll get no actually writing done. So it's back to the plain layout until I learn HTML.

At least I found out about the problem and fixed it, so I can receive your comments. I've missed you!

BTW... Let me introduce you to my two horses:
The brown and white Saddlebred (sorrel & white in winter) is my mare Nekoda.
The black and white Tennessee Walker is Hubby's gelding Buddy.

Friday, April 24, 2009

sky watcher

When I was a child, my favorite thing to do was lie on my back and see what pictures I could find in the clouds. I've never stopped being a cloud watcher. One of my favorite cloud pics is the one I use behind the title of this blog. That's a view from my bedroom! How blessed am I?

It's hard to match the beauty of sunset colors reflecting off ice-covered branches. This is what I see when I look out my kitchen door in the winter.

No, it's not a funnel cloud. Living in Xenia, people are leary of anything that looks like a tornado! (Google Xenia 1974)
These next two are more shots from my bedroom deck... my favorite spot on a summer's eve. (Ignore the cell tower.)

This one reminds me of lava cutting down the slope of a volcano.

I also have shots of different fronts moving across the sky. Here's one from last year. It looked like we were being swallowed by this huge dark mass!
This next shot is a scan of the picture on regular paper I kept under lexan on my desk at work. The hard drive that has the original shot crashed! (not backed up) You see there's not much in the way of landscaping... It was shortly after we built this house. That's my bedroom deck facing you. I was standing in the far corner of the goat's pasture. That IS a real rainbow, and yes, it REALLY was PINK! (A special gift from God, just for me!)

From my deck, I love watching the colors disappear into the treeline. I must have thousands of pictures of our sunsets. I wish my camera could capture those 'Halloween' clouds that pass over the moon at night. It simply gives me a great feeling when I walk out on a starlit night and see those shadows move across the sky. Yes, I've spent a lot of my life with my eyes turned toward the heavens...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

bathrooms & gardens...

I've been busy today... I managed to get some inside and outside work done!Last year Hubby and his dad planted some nice sticker-weeds in my garden. (Don't ask.) Anyway, nice to know the seeds did well. I spent several hours on this garden today and almost finished it! My wheel-barrow is heaped with weeds and my back hurts. Another one of those projects that I will post more on when I'm done...

This ornamental grass is just off the kitchen deck. I haven't yet cut it back and noticed a lot of new growth, so out came the clippers.I thought instead of tossing all the cuttings back into the compost pile, I'd add a few to my hall bath. I already had an urn full of cattails. I stencilled these dragon flies (not today) to appear as though they are flying up out of the 'weeds'.
Last summer my girlfriend brought me back this signed print from her stopover in New Orleans. She thought it would be perfect for my master bath.
I decided to double-mat it and put it in a frame I already had. It didn't suit the print or the room so today it is white.
The wall really is green, and yes, that's torn wallpaper... on purpose! I'll expose the finished product soon. It is the only feminine room in the house, so I made sure it's 'over-the-top'!
This mirror hangs in the same bathroom on an opposite wall. I've had it forever! (Well, since the late 70's.) There is enough dark wood in the room with the windows, doors and floor, so I decided to lighten it up a bit too. And, of course, a touch of pink
I think I've done enough for one day. Hopefully I'll have the energy to get out of bed tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

chicks update

I am still having camera issues, (long story involving a warranty and those 'refurbished' replacements) so excuse the quality. But on to what you've all been waiting for...

First is one of the pics I snapped a little bit ago. When they first arrived, the chicks were all fuzzy and soft. Now they are quickly getting their feathers. (If my refurbished camera (2nd one!) would cooperate I could really document the growth.) I'll try to get a good picture of the tail feathers to share. They are so darned cute!
The chicks are two weeks and one day old. Here is what they look like now. It's still hard to tell there are seventy-five of them in there! Compare it to this picture that was taken two weeks ago. Hmmm... have they grown?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

chick pics

Here are some shots showing the different colors and markings of the various breeds we have. Sorry about the quality... I'm having camera issues. To get an idea of scale, that's Hubby's hands in the photos, and they are gigantic hands! Do you have any idea how big a size 14 ring is? Anyway, let me know what you think of the pics.

update on the babies

Well, the chicks have all made it ten days. Hurray! According to the hatchery, we can start lowering the temperature of their pen five degrees per week until we reach seventy degrees. So far they seem like they've been very comfortable... They don't pile up under the heat lamp, but they also don't scatter along the walls to get away from it.

This week we will add some fascia and soffit to the hen house to keep the cold drafts out. Once the roof is sealed off, it will be easy to maintain the needed temperature, so that the chicks can soon move to their permanent home. (Yea!) My fear is that they will do one of those overnight growth spurts, and we'll wake up to seventy-five chicks pooping all over the house. (I think I would just go back to bed and tell Hubby to wake me when they're gone!)

It's amazing to watch how fast they are growing! When they first arrived, they looked like a ship on the ocean in that huge pen. Now, they pretty much fill up the space, but still have plenty of room to roam. I remember going out into the garage to hear them chirp. Today, I can sit in the dining room and listen! I am resisting the urge to post more pics. I will wait until they are a full two weeks old and snap another shot at the same angle as last week's progress post.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

goodbye handyman

Well, this is it. The handyman that was doing all the work for me, in trade for the old Lincoln, finished today. His last job was moving many, many wheel-barrows full of large rocks through the mud from my dump spot around to my front flower bed. It was so nice to have someone around to get the things done that I have a hard time doing by myself. We will miss him. Not only was he a hard worker, he was an extremely likeable guy. He had lived a country life in his past and had lots to talk about with us. He said he was very accomplished in the saddle, so perhaps we'll invite him back to ride sometime...

One of the blogs I follow is titled, 'when I am rich'. I too have said that quite often. Today I say, "When I am rich, I am going to hire him full-time."

their own space and cash to burn

Finally! The shed has been erected. We bought one of those small metal backyard sheds last year but never got it put together. The guy doing the work for me finished it today. Now the girls have their own storage space. The bikes, helmets, big wheel, balls, bats, Frisbees, jump ropes, sidewalk chalk, archery set... everything is coming out of the barn! It seems the bikes and stuff were always in the way, or they were buried where I was afraid the grandkids would get hurt trying to get their stuff out to use. (I take a huge risk just looking for a wrench!) Anyway, now I have yet another project on the list... painting the shed. I plan on painting it to match the barn, but I also want to jazz it up. With the girls help, I'll add faux windows, flowers, whatever to dress up the outside. When I get around to it, I'll post pics, but for now it's off to the next project.

While the two oldest grands were here, I took advantage of the help. I paid them to help me pick up the big #2 rocks from where they had been dumped beside part of the driveway. They've been there a while and have been driven over with the tractor. They were mashed well into the clay. We sat on the ground and picked them out one-by-one and tossed them in the wheel-barrow. Then we took turns pushing the heavy load up the driveway toward the road. We filled in all the potholes with the big rock while I sent Hubby to the gravel pit to bring back a truck load of 57s. The girls helped shovel the smaller stones from the truck to cover the larger stones we had put in place. When Mommy came to pick them up, she was delighted at the smooth drive in from the road!

After we finished the driveway, we took a couple more heavy loads to the goat shed. Right inside the door where we stand to feed them their grain was a low spot the was extremely muddy in wet weather. We again place a layer of the big rock on the bottom and then covered it with the smaller stone, bringing it up almost level with the door sill. Now Papaw Ray has a smooth, dry place to stand at feeding time.

It was a long day, but to have three jobs crossed off my list in one day is a rare treat! And the kids took home a pocket full of cash...

Friday, April 17, 2009

buying free stuff

I was just reflecting on the ways Americans find to spend money on things that, once upon a time, were taken for granted because they are FREE! Of course, even I have shelled out my hard-earned cash on rocks and dirt. But the rocks were prettier and the dirt was richer than what I could scavenge.

And yes, long ago and only for a special deal and a friend, even I paid to get a suntan. However, I thought then, and still do, that it was just plain silly to pay for concentrated sunlight. I remember how I laughed when bottled water started popping up... How on earth would they ever get people to pay that kind of money for water! But I've been in situations where my only choice was to pay for water or pay for a carbonated beverage... What can a girl do?
Now there is a growing trend - oxygen bars. OMG! It's true! People go to these establishments and pay to breathe! They claim it makes them feel better. You wanna know how I'd feel if I paid real money for air? Stupid! What's next... rain?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

see for yourself...

You be the judge... The chicks were shipped to us last Wednesday at one-day-old, making them eight days old now. One photo was taken last Thursday, the day the chicks arrived. They looked about the same on Monday. Then yesterday morning, their legs just seemed to have popped out! I snapped the other photo five minutes ago. Can you tell a difference?

growth spurts...

I almost wish I had taken measurements of the chicks when they were just a day or two old. It was hard to tell how much they had grown from the day they arrived until yesterday. But I swear they have doubled in size over night. Yesterday they were still tiny little things... Today they tower over their feeders! In the beginning, Hubby thought he had made his 'pen' far too large. Now we're hoping it's big enough to keep them in until they're ready for the outside weather! Tomorrow marks one full week from when they arrived. I will post side-by-side comparison pics and let you be the judge. I will also try to get some good shots showing the different markings the various breeds have. They're just so doggone cute! Dirty, nasty birds...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

me too...

A popular theme I found in blogs today, was parents contemplating the way their children were growing too fast, leaving the nest, flying past milestones...

I can really relate. It's been on my mind a lot lately. My daughter has four girls, spread out in age from fourteen to two. The fourteen-year-old used to think I was neater than sliced bread. I was the world's greatest Nana, and I have the letter to prove it! Now, I sometimes embarrass her. The two-year-old just thinks I'm fun to play peek-a-boo with. The four-year-old has become very possessive over my attention as the baby vies for it. (And I love it.) But it's the eleven-year-old that my thoughts have been dwelling on lately...

I usually refer to her in my blogs as #2. #2 can be difficult at times. She is one of those children that you don't always know what she's feeling. As outgoing as she is, she can be quite introverted. Sometimes she's hard to get close to. Though she can be distant, there are times when we are extremely close. She loves to sit on my lap and have me scratch her back. (Truthfully, I think she'd sit on anyone's lap for a good scratch.) But the very best times we share are in the bathroom. (Nothing weird here folks, so don't get crazy on me.)

#2 is the one who is always particular about how her hair looks and if her clothes fit right. She puts great thought into her accessory choices. She loves to have me help her with her hairstyle. I guess almost everyone enjoys having their hair brushed by someone else. We take great care in selecting just the right perfume for her to wear. When she stays with us and takes a bath or shower, she likes me to pamper her like a princess. At home, there is too much going on with four kids for her to get that special attention. Mommy's goals are to get the kids to the point where they don't require assistance in the bathing and grooming department. So, starting when she was young, she loved the special 'salon' treatment she got from Nana. When she would shower, I would scrub her back for her. I would wait outside the shower door, and when it opened, quickly wrap her in a bath sheet before she got a chill. I gently combed out the tangles in her long wet hair and then dried her hair for her. I sometimes even referred to her as 'Your Highness' as though I was her hand maiden.

Now she is eleven. #1 was starting to develop at that age, but #2 is quite a bit slower in that area. I'm glad. When she spent the weekend not long ago, she wanted to take a bath in my whirlpool tub. I added foaming bath salts. She wanted me to shampoo her hair as she leaned her head back under the faucet. I happily obliged.

I know it won't be long before she is repulsed by the idea of her Nana running her bath, washing her hair for her, or waiting with the towel. That will be a major milestone for me... it will mean she has grown from being my little princess. No matter how many times I tell her she will never outgrow my lap, I know in my heart that time is very near. I hope that I can find another way for us to have that close one-on-one time. At least there are two more waiting in the wings...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter chicks

There's something special about baby chicks on Easter. Easter is about new beginnings. And spring is in the air; a good time for baby chicks. Ironically, twenty-five of the pullets (future hens) are nick-named Easter-egg chickens. The eggs they lay are a bluish-green - very rich and tasty! Wish I had some now. Next year I'll let you know how they look in the grandkids baskets.

My daughter and her four daughters saw the chicks for the first time today. Jen doesn't like the idea of eating chickens that she knows. I try to reason with her... Our chicks are probably treated much better than the ones she normally eats! And I guarantee they don't suffer when it comes their 'time'.

I'm not particularly fond of the slaughter idea, but there's something about being self-sufficient, providing our own food source, that is quite satisfying. I could end up liking this farm life!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Steamer Trunk

On the outside it was beautiful... a thing to desire. The delicately carved wood told the story of hands that took pride in their work. The patina on the hardware gave evidence of its age. and yet only added to its beauty. In spite of all its delicateness, it was dotted with dings and gouges that appeared as badges of strength. It looked as though it could continue on through endless voyages, riding on crested waves, being packed onto trains, off to every exotic adventure under the sun. Every eye that glanced its way felt envy. Although not quite majestic, it appeared a symbol of success.

I opened the lid to an atrocious contrast. Whatever care had been taken of the external wood had not been bestowed upon the inside. The stench of mildew arose from the darkness. The frayed remains of a once-elegant fabric lay crumbled in the bottom. Why had it never been crafted into a luxurious ball gown? Maps that led to nowhere were yellowed and disintegrating, their purpose never fulfilled, the journey never taken. The framework, once square and straight, revealed well-worn edges as they bowed under the strain of time.
Such a life...

3 days old and counting...

Well, the babies have been here for forty-eight hours and all are still alive! Thursday, there was one that we didn't think would make it, but now we can't tell which one it was... That's a good sign. We've read and been told that you can plan on losing a certain percentage right off the bat. So I guess we're pretty lucky. If you call having seventy-five chicks in your garage lucky!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

I just got home from our Good Friday service at church. It was humbling... Humbling to think of what Jesus went through for me, for us. To spend any block of time with only that focus is an experience that really draws us closer to God.

The sanctuary was dimly lit with candles across a table in front. Right behind the table was a rustic cross holding a crown of thorns and draped in a black cloth. The music pastor and his wife who led the singing with him, were off to the side and dressed in black. The mood was solemn as we heard scripture and sang songs about the cross and the crucifixion.

This was not an Easter celebration. There was no mention of the joy of the resurrection. The purpose was to focus on the sacrifice that Jesus offered for us. As each speaker read their scripture and said a prayer, they blew out a candle until there remained only one. The last scripture was read by the principal of our Nazarene school. As he exited the platform and walked to the remaining lit candle, we all expected him to lean and blow it out. But instead, he picked up the candle and carried it down the aisle and out of the sanctuary. I felt the symbolism was that our Light had left us, although temporary.

Most of the time I contemplate the crucifixion, I think about the physical pain that Jesus endured. But what about His followers' pain? Can you imagine how they felt? Here was a man whom they believed was God in the flesh, Who spoke of eternal life, and yet He was now dead!

Jesus gives us strength and holds us up. What if we suddenly felt that He was gone? What if the whole foundation of our faith was pulled out from under our feet? I can't imagine the anguish I would feel if Jesus was taken from me. Yet, that is what His early followers went through on that terrible day. I can understand... To watch someone hanging, nailed to a cross, seeing Him breathe His last breath, would we, at that moment, understand His promise to rise on the third day? Could we fathom the reality of that?

landscaping a goat house

Some farm people might think it strange to waste time landscaping a goat house. Well, our goat house is directly in front of our home. When I sit in my rocking chair and look out across the front yard, this is what I see. So it's a bit fancier than the standard struction most people would have for their goats.

We bought a 12x16 garden shed, complete with a shuttered window. I added a solar porch light just for ambience. The front door is for people, the back door for goats. The inside is divided off with a fence, gate and their feed trough. They are free to run in and out anytime they please. The fence runs off both sides of the shed so they cannot get to the front of their house.

I had planted a couple of shrubs by it two years ago. The one under the window looked so lovely in the summer with its eight-foot branches blowing in the wind, I didn't want to prune it. So the man that is helping me with the yard work dug up the bush and replanted it out in the yard. It looks much better in its new location. But then I had nothing in front of the goat house to dress it up. I decided the Japanese bloodgrass that I had such a large supply of, would look splendid across the front.

I dug out the remaining grass from in front of the shed and filled a row with two wheel-barrow loads of the grass. I also added several clumps to the corner on the other side of the double doors. This grass gets about eighteen to twenty-four inches tall and is a lovely green on the bottom and deep burgundy on the top. I placed an old bird bath behind the grass to fill the 'blank-wall' area. The grass is not yet cut back, as there isn't new growth yet. I can't wait to see it in the summer! Later I will add a trellis and some ivy to the side that I can see from our porch. If I didn't have the goats this would be the lovely little writer's cottage I've dreamed of...

As usual, Sadie has to get her butt in every shot! You can see a sillouette of Derby inside...

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Matter of fact, fifty girls for sure! Another twenty-five could be either girls or boys.

As usual, I was up past 1am last night. By 5:30 I was sleeping soundly, when suddenly a rude noise jolted me awake! The phone? Who would be calling at 5:30 in the morning? The United States Postal Service, that's who. They called to say Hubby's baby chicks had arrived and could he please come pick them up. NOW?

I tried desparately to return to lala land. But once Hubby's babies were all safe and sound in the garage, his excitement kept me from it. I know he was disappointed that I didn't make the journey to the garage until it was time to feed the dog. I know what chicks look like. Yeah, they're cute. They're also dirty, nasty birds that lay delicious eggs!

The hens we have now (plus one remaining rooster - the other rooster was tough) were given to us when they were about six months old. They didn't require all the special care and equipment. And so our journey begins...

This is Hubby's set-up. We had a roll of aluminum just the perfect size to form the pen. He drilled holes at the top edge and tied the sides together with bailing twine to keep it in a nice oval. We already had one heat lamp from when the goats were babies. He bought a second one and some more waterers and a couple of feeders.
He probably put more anxiety-filled preparation into this project than he did for his children's birth! All week he has been testing his heating ability - to get the enclosure up to ninety-five degrees. Thank goodness we're heating with wood now instead of propane.

The chicks came in three separate boxes. One box of twenty-five 'Easter-egg' hens (they lay bluish-green eggs), one box of custom mixed hens (five different breeds, five of each), and a bonus box of twenty-five free chicks. They may be any breed, either sex. The free ones ended up being black with white bottoms. Cute!
The first thing he had to do was take each chick and dip it's beak into the water to teach them where it is. We were going to band the legs to identify which was which, but their little legs are so tiny, we were afraid we would cripple them with the bands. Besides, their markings at this age are distinguished enough to tell them apart.
About six months from now we'll be up to our eyeballs in eggs! We hope to sell enough to pay for the feed. We'll keep what we need and donate the rest to the local food bank or our church. Stay 'tuned' for future updates on our life with chickens.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

progress in the garden

Now that I've got all the irises back in the ground, I'm focusing on the Japanese bloodgrass. It is a medium-height grass. The top half of its soft blades are deep red. When I planted it, I didn't know it was so invasive! I only bought three six-inch pots and divided them. I put a little beside each boulder in my main garden. It got to where you couldn't see the boulders!
I worked out a trade deal with a handyman to help me with some heavy work. He dug up all the grass (and irises) for me. Now it's in two big piles waiting to be replanted in different locations.
The two arrows in this first picture point to what is left of the piles he dug up. The X marks my almost diminished much pile. The yellow line is a rough outline of where my garden will curve around the front of the house. The lower right corner shows where the rocks will border on the gravel drive's parking area. I really need to post a video to show this well. The picture below is a close-up of the border by the gravel driveway. It is wide here, but will taper down as it leaves the driveway area. I'm using the big rocks to trap the bloodgrass. I'm not putting any back in the middle of the garden where it is harder to control without disturbing my other plants. I learned my lesson!
The arrow in this next picture is where the concrete drive meets the gravel. The yellow line illustrates the curve of the concrete up the slope. The pile of smooth rocks to the left of the arrow are just piled there. They won't be in the finished border. The ground-covers in the center top of this picture will be spread on down the slope to fill in around the plants I am adding. About where the tree is at the center top is where the concrete drive meets the sidewalk that leads around to the front porch. I stained it the color of our decks.

Couldn't resist putting in a few pics of Sadie... She's my yellow lab. We adopted her a year ago. She is lying next to the 'sitting' rock. Last week I finished (almost) this iris bed. I added stepping stones to define the pathway. Hopefully it will inspire people (grandkids) to not walk through the flowers! The yellow X marks the side of the ugly green transformer box. It will later be surrounded by the picket fence. I hope these bulbs thrive despite the freezes we've had the last two nights. I have way too many plants to cover everything! And we get a lot of wind here. It would be hard to keep them covered. Behind, and just to the left of the wheel-barrow is a willow bush. That is where all these bulbs used to be. The shrub grew much faster than I anticipated! It was a baby one and one-half years ago... Now it's eight feet tall!
This is the angle at which you would approach the house. The picket fence does a nice job of camouflaging the big green box. There is several more feet of this garden to the left with another smaller boulder. This is directly opposite the corner where the new rocks and grass are.
Just had to put one more of Sadie.
Here she is listening to me for a change!
Here you can see the parking area in the top right corner and the concrete drive at the bottom. I have the rocks sweeping around the corner. The arrows mark some of the grass surrounded by the rocks. Ignore the mess. I clean when I'm done.

Notice the big bare spot where the grass used to be. This pile is as big as a large bathroom and is only half of what he dug up! Remember, it all started with three six-inch pots!

I added some small patches where the arrows are. (Will put one where the X is tomorrow.) I'll be sure to keep my eye on it and not let it get out-of-hand here. This corner is topped with jelly-pebbles. Notice my little sack-race kids. A lovely gift from my mother-in-law. The tree is a weeping cherry. I have drain tile around the base until it gets older because I have six cats! It's in the perfect spot for a scratching post! The cats love sunning themselves on the boulders.

This is the same corner at a different angle. I already cut this grass back for spring.
Still waiting on new growth. I hoped it survived being on top of the ground for so long. The rock border separates the jelly-pebbles from the mulch and ground covers. Notice the color of the sidewalk.

This circle marks where they dug up this patch of grass. See why we couldn't see the boulders? The green plant is a rescue... My best friend dug it up to make room for some of the bulbs I took her. When I saw them laid on the ground, I brought them home and planted them. They don't look that healthy, do they...

This is what's left of one pile. I took two big loads down to a friend already!

More bare spots where the grass used to be. This picture was taken from my front porch. In the lower left corner you'll see more rocks. There is a rock garden across the front of the porch. It is filled with jelly-pebbles, larger rocks and more of the little kids playing.
After I get the porch repainted this summer, I'll post pics showing everything in full color. The concrete porch is a mustard yellow. The colors in this part of the garden are green, yellow, and deep burgundy-red. The house is pale yellow with white trim and green shutters.
When I do the video of the garden, I'll be sure to include the view I have while sitting in my rocking chair. Ah, one of my favorite spots!