Thursday, April 28, 2011

There's a Chicken In My Kitchen...

 And it's not for dinner!  We have spent quite a bit of time the last couple of days troubleshooting with "little squirt".  You may recall that she was born with a bum leg and fostered by some friends of ours.  When we got her back at a month of age and the others picked on her horribly, so we had to separate her in her own space.  As she has grown, her leg has been much more a hindrance than we had hoped and we fear that some tough decisions may lay ahead. 

Yesterday, B used some vet-wrap and tied the splayed leg to the other so that she could pull it under herself and attempt to walk.  Sidney introduced her to the outside which little squirt was quite skeptical about, so she came inside and hung out in the kitchen.  With her new "crutched" legs, she began to get around better than she ever had.  This morning when I went downstairs to feed and water everyone....she was gone!!  Not in her cage, door pushed open, gone!  We found her several minutes later as she had been exploring the basement.  Please note, that getting around in a 36" square space had been difficult up until this point. 

We still do not know what her future holds, but I am willing to bet that we are the only family North of Yancy's place on Walton's Mountain that has a Chicken roaming around the kitchen!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

If You Can't Beat It...

Cabbage & Broccoli
What? More rain?  Go figure!  If you can't beat it, join it.  That's the motto for the rest of this week.  We have a couple of days off and have every intention of getting some major work done around the homestead.  Rain, rain and more rain.  Ugh!  So, this morning, we joined it.  We completed the first length on the new garden fence installation and B began the construction of a rock wall to enclose the strawberry patch.  We were dripping wet, but loved every minute of it.... well mostly :).  Later in the day, when it was just grey and a little less was falling from the sky, we transplanted all of the broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and leeks to the garden.  We placed them carefully in their nests within the landscape fabric and then covered them with a gauzy row cover to prevent the dreaded root maggots. 
Veggie Protection
On taps for tomorrow...some more fence work and the strawberry patch.  Rain, rain, go away!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Shel

Shel Silverstein
I would say that it was the fall of third grade that Sidney really caught the reading bug. She now reads at a sixth/seventh grade level as a fourth grader and has a tremendous appetite for it. In the last couple of months (spring of second grade) Charles has really taken an interest in reading. It's amazing the difference between children, or maybe it is the contrasting approaches that boys and girls take in how they do things. Sidney went straight for chapter books, then novels. Charles got hooked on graphic novels, then articles in Highlight Magazine and some children's encyclopedias we have.

Now he has found a new love. Shel Silverstein! He read cover to cover A Light In The Attic, followed closely by Where the Sidewalk Ends. Now I remember reading these books as a kid, but I would pick and choose poems, not read them like a novel. Yesterday, I bought Charles Falling Up. In the car he immediately sat down grabbed the book out of the bag and began reading each poem, giggling appreciatively, and sharing antic dotes as he read.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Strangely Cathartic

 I wasn't sure if I was going to like it when I  followed Martha's instructions on leaving fall foliage in order to create winter interest above the snow.  I typically like to have things all tidied up in the fall so that I do not have to worry about it again.  I must say that we enjoyed having the added texture in our winter landscape.  With spring so incredibly slow to start this year, I have been itching to get outside; and now all of that lovely "interest" has been driving me absolutely bonkers.  So this afternoon, when the sky became blue and the sun was shining (despite the weather channel saying that at that moment there was an 80% chance for rain), I grabbed by biggest pruners and off I went. 

Let me tell you, there is another benefit to leaving all of the "dead heading" until the spring.  You do not need the above mentioned pruners to get the job done.  Everything is so dried out it just breaks off nicely at the ground.  There is something strangely cathartic about getting on your hands and knees and literally ripping out winter and revealing all of the lovely bits of spring that are resting beneath what was once winter interest.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!



Wishing you a day of
love, laughter and peace
shared with those who have
bright eyes, bushy tails,
and hearts full of wonder.

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I'm Ready

 The gray has been so persistent this last week.  Fits of torrential rain, sleet and heavy clumps of snow have led to a saturated soggy ground, that runs like a little stream down the driveway.  As I gaze around the blogosphere, pinterest, and postcards to blogcamp, there are gorgeous rainbows of color bursting from the pages.  Here, there is an almost screaming absence of color.  The grass has started to green which leaves the landscape looking like a re-touched black and white photo, with only watery wisps of the ground painted.  Thankfully, a couple of blooms have braved the elements and taken a stand against the harshness that is early spring.  So, I set my sights on the buds, thousands of them, plump with the promise of a color explosion. Just waiting, for the proper moment.  I'm ready.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pure Red Decadence

Red Velvet
In B's family, the traditional birthday cake is none other than Red Velvet.  I had made it only once before, years ago, because the kids have always picked other things that they wanted for their special birthday treats.  This year, Sidney requested we roll out the red carpet and that is just what we did! 

This is not a cake for the faint of heart.  It has all of the good, that's truly bad for you in it.  It runs the over indulging gamut from shortening, to butter, to whole milk, to two full bottles of red food coloring.  This treat is as gorgeous to look at as it is sinful to eat.  Just be sure that you don't have your cholesterol checked immediately after.  So without further adieu...
Red Velvet to Be


Red Velvet Cake

1 1/2 C. Sugar
1/2 C. Shortening
2 Tbsp. (heaping) Cocoa
2 oz. Red Food Coloring
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 Eggs
2 1/4 C. Flour
Pinch Salt
1 C. Buttermilk
1 tsp. Baking soda
1 Tbsp. Vinegar

Cream shortening, sugar and eggs thoroughy.  Make a paste of the cocoa and food coloring and then add to creamed mixture.  Add Vanilla.  Add sifted flour and salt alternating with buttermilk until completely incorporated.  Add soda to vinegar (hold over bowl as it foams up), then mix gently into batter.  Bake in 2 well greased and floured 8" pans at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, cool, split layers (if desired), and ice.

Icing Recipe
6 Tbsp. Flour
1 C. Whole milk 
Cook constantly stirring until thick, cover and cool

1 C. Sugar
1 C. Butter
1 tsp. Vanilla

Cream until very fluffy and no sugar granuals are detectable.  Then add flour mixture to creamed mixture and beat on high until it has appearance of whipped cream.  Ice cooled layers.

Enjoy!


Birthday Bash

 This weekend was nothing less than a fast and furious birthday extravaganza.  Each day had a different birthday activity complete with meal and it's own dessert, by Sidney's request.  It began Friday evening with Sidney's slumber party.  
 She requested terriaki stir fry with tofu (I also made chicken for the rest of the girls, but they all tried the tofu and loved it), samosas and naan bread.  Dessert was her favorite saucer size chocolate chip cookies that I make stuffed with ice-cream for messy, homemade, and delectable ice-cream sandwiches. 
I had several crafts planned but they were so busy playing games, singing songs to YouTube, and just plain being silly, that painting the eggs from our hens was the only one they got accomplished.

Several of the girls then "party hopped" Saturday morning to another birthday party filled with 3 hours of swimming.  By late Saturday afternoon we collapsed for a little pre-game night rest and watched large snow flakes fall for about an hour....what?  Wasn't this April 16th??  Game night (for the grown ups as well as kids), was breakfast delicacies for dinner prepared by our friends and, I brought her favorite Chocolate, Honey, Almond Tart for dessert.
Sunday, the birthday proper, we took her to her favorite restaurant for lunch.  It's a Mongolian grill and we all got our fill, she opened her presents and then we headed home to work in the garden and prepare for yet more food, birthday dinner with friends.  It ended up being an absolutely gorgeous afternoon! We were able to accomplish tons of garden work, have a leisurely evening, and watch the kids jump on the trampoline until dark.  We had her requested favorite chili followed by red velvet cake (which will be a post all to it's own)!
Needless to say, a perfect birthday weekend for Sidney!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Where Does The Time Go?

Where does the time go?  Ten years ago today I first held this precious little bundle.  I remember saying immediately that I had never seen a baby with such amazing grey-green eyes.  Those sparkling eyes never changed in color, they only enhanced with the sparkle of wonder as she has discovered each new day.  

Happy Birthday to my sweet girl who forever changed our lives and introduced us to this amazing ride called parenting.  Pictures of the weekends festivities to come later!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Shellac Me!

 I was fortunate enough to be born with beautiful nails.  After all, I inherited from the best...my mom and gram.  The frustration that I have always had is that whether I do it myself, or pay money to get a manicure, the polish never lasts more than a day or two.  Many times, I have chipped it by the time I get home.  Between typing, farm and garden work, nail polish would never stand a chance! 

A couple of months ago I saw a post from Pioneer Woman about a new fangled manicure she got while traveling.  I was intrigued, but filed it in the back of my mind.  That is until my sister-in-law called me about two weeks ago to let me know about hers and what a miracle the shellac manicure is for those who don't need acrylic nails but want to color!  Then a good friend told me that she had just gotten one locally!  I had planned on going in just to  make an appointment for my annual mani/pedi outing with my SIL (whose coming into town next month), but went in and spur of the moment tried it out!  Amazing!  My nails were dry the minute she finished and oh my was I hard on them yesterday. Much of the afternoon was baking up a storm and scrubbing lots of dishes prior to one almost 10 year-olds birthday festivities this weekend.  So far, so good...not a ding.  It's supposed to last a full 14 days chip free and for some a little longer.  I'll keep you posted!  Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring Carol

As I slowly walk and listen,

I can truly hear.....

So when the earth is alive with gods,
And the lusty ploughman breaks the sod,
And the grass sings in the meadows,
And the flowers smile in the shadows,
Sits my heart at ease,
Hearing the song of the leas,
Singing the songs of the meadows. 

Robert Louis Stevenson
excerpted from Spring Carol

Monday, April 11, 2011

Saturday, April 9, 2011

As The Garden Begins To Grow

I seem to have been struck with a bronchial infection of some kind that leaves me getting winded doing menial tasks.  As a result of spending the entirety of yesterday on the couch, I am a little more restless today.  So as the kids are enjoying 50 degrees running and exploring outside, I took a little stroll to check the progress of the garden.

The cold frames are humming along.  This first one has a few of the greens that over-wintered ready to make another small salad and the cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and brussels appear to be hardening off nicely.  
The salad greens and rows and rows of radishes are sprouting.  I see a radish green salad in my very near future!
B has utilized every bit of the completed compost to top dress most of the garden beds, and the garlic, shallots and potato onions are beginning to put on a show.


My mouth began to water seeing the alien ruffles of the rhubarb emerging.

Last, but not, least...the chives are beginning to flourish.  Charles hasn't discovered them yet, but I'm sure he'll be coming in the house any time after grazing on his favorite snack!  Crazy Kid!
It seems we are well on our way!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Color My World

 This month's challenge over at Jillsy Girl Studio is all about color.  Something that our eyes, here in the North, are in desperate need of!  I'm sliding in at the last photo for a green row.  Our stonecrops are just poking up and this foggy morning covered in silvery dew droplets.
Wishing you a day full of color!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Propagating Strawberries

In each of the last three years we have accomplished a large project for the garden that was permanent.  The asparagus beds were made and planted in 2009, the berry beds and twelve six foot by 18 foot raised beds were completed in 2010 and this year we must replace the decrepit garden fence and take the opportunity to enclose the current and future expansions we plan for the garden space.  The West side of the garden had an out of control strawberry patch which was sacrificed to raised beds last year.  When we added all of the berries last season to the new area, it was shy strawberries. When out and strolling the garden on Sunday and planning for the new fence, we saw the first (of I am sure many to emerge) small strawberry plants pushing through adjacent to where they once lived.  So may I introduce another, smaller yet no less important legacy project for 2011.... propagating strawberries.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Limbo

This time of year is really bi-polar.  We have a beautiful day or two where the mild sunshine and exposure to Vitamin D invigorate us, then it is back to grey, cold, windy (we really must get a wind turbine put in), and rainy.  This weekend was a perfect example.  We knew rain would be predominant, but the mid afternoon bliss of Saturday spurred renewed enthusiasm for farm work and planning.  We managed to install most of the cover to the chicken yard that we had fenced last fall.  It went fairly smoothly with only one frustrating hiccup which hopefully we will be able to get solved this week as we dodge rain showers.  Not too bad for a big farm project!  If you check out the Back to the Garden section, you can see we have gotten a number of planting jobs completed too.  

Our sunny evening walk on Saturday had us listening to birds and planning the layout of the new garden fence and much needed tree pruning.  We then began to discuss whether we wanted to move the old orchard to new soil and where to plant our nut tree grove.  Sitting on the front porch, warmed by the evening sun, we ended the day renewed and ready to get going.  Sunday, we woke up to rain, grey and wind.  Back to indoor tasks like garden bag making, running kids to birthday parties and play dates, and once again feeling a bit like we are in limbo, waiting impatiently for sustained time out doors.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Red Breasted Bully

Once upon a time there was a husband and wife sitting on the porch enjoying a beautiful 45 degree evening and basking in their accomplishments of the day.  When suddenly the trees around them became alive with avian. 
There was a most active and lovely red breasted robin, who was steadfastly chasing every other bird out of the tree she had claimed as her own. 
The Cedar Waxwings have made an early appearance and the Ms. Robin would have nothing to do with their tom foolery. 
Now, Mr. Woodpecker took advantage of the situation and made his way around the tree in question without being noticed.  It struck the husband and wife that Ms. Robin was quite a bully, not only chasing the Waxwings from "her" tree, but also trying to remove them from the whole area.  This prompted the family of Cedar Waxwings to take a much needed break at a nearby watering hole.
They came and then went
one,
by
One
Until they had all headed toward the silvery sky, refreshed, to find a place to roost.

They will return tomorrow to give that Red Breasted Bully a run for her money!

Jill, see now that it's April I've got birds!  But I'll start looking for pink! :)

Friday, April 1, 2011

March's Postcards

March Postcards
I sit here and take a moment to experience true April showers, no joke, it is most definitely raining this first day of April.  But with the rain comes the hope of a myriad of colorful blooms that are just waiting to burst through.  Looking back to March's postcards I can see that the energy is shifting from indoor comfort to the eager anticipation of spring, outdoor play, gardening, and color.

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