Have you missed me lately? I have missed you. For your enjoyment, I offer you this picture of a beautiful sunrise over our lilac bushes during a Spring morning thunder shower! It might be more stunning with photo shop or some fancy technical manipulation, but I am just happy to be getting a post up, so these pictures are going to be simple as they come. Besides, I spy a cloud dragon, can you?
Things have been BUSY here on the homestead! It seemed like Spring was never going to come and then all of a sudden it was here and between school and soccer and work and additional responsibilities/engagements, I wasn’t sure life was ever going to slow down.
Once the weather turned warm and the grass started to turn green, I decided to head outside and shoot some pictures of a few of my favorite things and I thought I would share them with you here. Like I said, I don’t have the time or to be completely honest, the skill, to make these pictures photo blog amazing. Since this isn’t a photo blog, we’ll just go with it. Yes this blog has photos, but I am NOT anywhere close to a professional photographer, thus not a photo blog. I don’t even know what half (okay, three-quarters) of the settings on my camera are for. Can you tell I am a little sensitive about the quality of my pictures, Ha! Someday when I am old-er-ish and need a hobby to occupy my time, I will eventually learn some fancy photo skills. Until that day comes, you will just have to appreciate my amateur attempts at showing you our life and enjoy my fascinating commentary.
Ha, I didn’t know all of that was bottled up when I sat down to write… Anywho, here we go!
These are some of those lilacs from the sunrise picture above that are just about to really open up into full bloom. I love the way lilacs smell! They are one of those flowers that really only last for a few days before they fade away, but when they are in bloom they are simply lovely. I could go into the metaphors about life and death and enjoying things while you can, but I have so much more to show you, so we will just leave it at that, alrighty…
One thing about Spring that I love, is watching my children run and play outside with pure joy and wild with imagination. You can probably guess all the fun my girls had with the sea of dandelions in our yard. I promise you, I never got tired of the fistfulls of blooms every time I turned around from smiling little faces, saying “Mommy, I have something for you.” It was even more fun when the yard was full of wishes just waiting to be blown away!
To some people, the answer to a yard like this would be to spray it. Well that’s not how we roll here. We are now beginning our third summer on our little acreage and Chris and I are trying our best at incorporating some permaculture ideas into our little plot. We are new to it, fumbling through mistakes, and learning as we go; one thing that I love is watching our yard transform. It has looked dramatically different every year and the plants that have spontaneously grown in our yard have changed and shifted over these couple years. When you watch what was mostly weeds transition to mostly grass, you know that something good is going on.
According to the book Gaia’s Garden written by Toby Hemenway, “Weeds are supremely multi functional plants. They are the pioneers covering, protecting, and fertilizing bare soil, preparing it for others. Many weeds are superb nutrient accumulators- in fact, that is often their primary role, pulling widely scattered nutrients from deep in the earth and concentrating them in the surface soil. That also explains why they are so nutritious: They accumulate health-giving minerals in their tissues. Weeds can also tell the gardener about soil conditions.” Essentially if you leave your weeds be, you can tell a lot about the what your soil is trying to tell you. Interesting enough, you just have to take the time to pay attention. These weeds can also become food and habitat for wildlife. Many weeds also happen to offer highly nutritious food and/or medicinal benefits to the humans who care to utilize them. Personally we do not eat the dandelions in our yard. You will find out later in this post why, but let’s just say they might not be the cleanest of plants and no amount of washing would change that.
Some “weeds” that we would like to encourage on our property is the milkweed. Given the propensity for farmers around here to spray everything, the milkweed which was once prolific around here is now few and far between. The endangered Monarch butterfly relies on this plant as food for its eggs when they hatch into larva. Unfortunately our little 5 acres won’t do much for saving this beautiful species, but at least we can do small our part to help. My children are thrilled about the possibility of offering some habitat for Monarch’s. I am thrilled about the fact that my children might one day realize that we need to share the world with more than just the human species to survive. Certainly there are some weeds that we do control for like Canadian Thistles, for one. But we are trying our best to let things progress naturally for the benefit of our soil, the beneficial insects, and for the future landscape plans that we have. With the brain I have, you can’t even begin to imagine all the plans I have for our yard! 🙂
Back to my kids and all their joy and imagination and fun…this is one of the fairy houses my kids made. It’s kind of funny, because I had plans to buy all the cute little “fairy house” knick-knacks so that we could do this as a project together. You know what I’m talking about; the itty bitty sized wheelbarrow and garden tools, the sign that says, “snail crossing,” the cute little mushroom with a door and windows?
Well, there is no where in my little town to find anything like that and I was dragging my feet about ordering something online because it was all expensive and there were so many choices. I of course wanted it to be a surprise, but the reality of it is that no matter what I bought my kids would probably fight over who got which item and someone would undoubtedly get the item that the other two didn’t want as opposed to picking the one she did want. Honestly, my brain hurt just thinking about something that should be fun turning into something not at all fun.
So, I said fuck it (in my head, of course) and decided one day that we would do what kids used to do, back in the day before internet and knick-knacks, and we would create fairy houses using *gasp* sticks, rocks, and natural materials. I of course tracked down some pretty shells and nuts to use for dishes and bathtubs, but the kids created their fairy houses and described in great detail what each feature was to be, despite my protests and wishes for them to be other things, because really I wanted to build the fairy houses and didn’t want to share. So we compromised and I eventually took a hike, so that I could do proper adulting behaviors like fold some laundry while they undertook the more serious work of construction.
In the end, the children were thrilled with their fairy houses and it was sweet to see the little cradle Mira made for the baby fairy that surely would sleep in her house and Blake’s fortress was almost a maze with its back doors and out buildings. All in all, we’ll call it a success.
Anyway, back to my favorite things…
Meet Maris! She is our Red Labrador Retriever. Maris is about one and a half years old and she is a sweet, funny, pretty girl. She is my girl, until Daddy comes home and then she is his sweetheart. If you asked me what I thought of her six months to a year ago, I promise I had some choice words to describe her that had a remarkably different flavor. She was so incredibly naughty as a puppy and her cuteness was probably the only thing that helped her survive until now. Oh man, was she naughty! I can laugh about it now, but that’s because she is maturing and no longer the asshat that she once was. (I meant that term in the most loving of ways.) Here is a visual…
Whatever you do, don’t let that face fool you! There was mischief in there just waiting to sneak out when I wasn’t looking.
Moving right along…
If you were to ask me what is one of my favorite things about Spring and Summer, I would probably give you a really long list, but near the top of that list would definitely be gardening! I call it “Soil Therapy!” There is nothing quite like taking bare ground and planting some seeds and watching it transform into the food that you eat for dinner. Granted it is not really all that simple! It requires hard work, dedication, and a hell of a lot of weed pulling, but it is absolutely worth it.
We have had a garden for probably the past ten years. Some years our garden had been better than others. The past two years were actually quite piss poor. It all boils down to commitment and developing a relationship with the soil; truly understanding what it needs from you (or doesn’t need) in order to grow happy plants that give you delicious food. This year Chris and I made the commitment to ourselves, and our garden, that we would be home more so that we could take care of it. Look forward to a future post on our garden and some of the things we do to care for it. These pictures are just of Chris and the kids planting some of our potatoes and onions.
Mira thought she would be funny, when Daddy said he needed more sticks to mark the rows they just planted. Did I mention that gardening is an amazing educational tool. My kids have helped in the garden for as long as they have been alive. The amount of help has transitioned a bit from eating fistfuls of dirt to actually planting seeds and pulling weeds. However, including them in the process of growing our food is one of the few things that is irreplaceable, in my opinion. Learning the skills of growing, harvesting, and storing food is something that they can always use. Honestly, in this day and age, it is becoming a lost art. Gardening is the gift that keeps on giving and it is one of many gifts that I feel my children deserve to know.
You might notice that I am not in any of these pictures. I am going to be honest here, planting the garden is not my favorite part of gardening. It’s not that I mind the work of digging and repetitive planting of seeds or young plants. It is more that my OCD gets a little bit triggered because there is this plot of naked ground and my brain goes all wonky trying to plan where everything is going to go, I have to have a plan and a chart and it has to be complete or else I start to get discombobulated and confused and irritable. Sometimes I even start shouting for no apparent reason and then have to retreat and have a good cry. At this point in the garden we didn’t have a plan (or a chart.) Seriously, sometimes it is hard to be me, but it’s all good! Besides, someone needed to take these pictures and I certainly couldn’t do both at the same time; dirt and cameras don’t go so well together. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Those pretty ladies and handsome fella are another piece of our homestead puzzle that just wouldn’t be complete without them. They decided to get into some gardening action too. This is obviously the garden before the fence. We learned last year that if we want to keep our seeds and plants in the ground instead of scratched out of the ground, we absolutely have to have a fence. I won’t even mention the dog chasing balls or carrying away our sticks or digging for the pure joy of digging. I mentioned she is a better dog than when she was a puppy, but she is still a dog!
Meet Stella! She is our Plymouth Barred Rock, or at least one of them. Way back when we first bought the kids baby chicks for Easter, about four years ago, we bought two Buff Orpington’s and a Plymouth Barred Rock. The Barred Rock was named Stella and the name stuck. Every single Barred Rock that we have had since has become our Stella bird. No not all of our birds have names, but a lot of them do. We have a Buff that I call Puffy the Buffy, (she slays bugs, FYI.) One of our Red’s is named Friendly because she is the sweetest bird that actually lets you pet her. We got a group of about five Gold Stars last year and I can’t tell any of them apart, so they are just The Golden Girls. Our handsome rooster is a Silver Laced Wyandotte. He doesn’t officially have a name, but I was thinking something like Rico Suave. The reality is that Don Quixote is more fitting.
This year was the first year that we ever had a hen go broody and actually sit on the eggs long enough to hatch them. This is a picture of our broody girl Mamacita on her eggs the day they started hatching. She is such a good Mommy.
Five out of the nine eggs under her hatched. They are the cutest little farts!! I just love having chickens and seeing a mamma bird with her little brood of chicks is stinkin’ adorable. I have a chicken post planned too. We will see how soon I can make that happen.
Last, but not least, I’ll leave you with a picture of my boy playing soccer. This was the first time he had ever played soccer and he had a lot of fun. It was quite a bit different then wrestling, which was good for him. We shall see what he chooses to do next year. But, for now we are choosing a slow paced, stay at home, rest filled summer break. This mommy needs it for sure, because soon enough I will be planning our next school year and prepping supplies. But we won’t think about that right now.
I had best go and start making supper. Homemade pizza’s are on the menu this evening and I am pretty sure a glass of wine is calling my name.
Until next time… Love vibes to you all!
P.S. I couldn’t resist sharing my kitties with you. If an animal were a happy place, cats would be my happy place animal. They are purrr-fect!