Saturday, July 30, 2011

Meet Me At The Fair

Fair 2011
We have one day left of the county fair, but all of our judged events were completed by this morning.  We were conservative with the number of entries we competed in since this is our first year and we had no idea what to expect.  It was a great learning experience, and we found that the best bet is to enter a lot of categories and show, show show!  You see, when you are doing any animals along with whatever your other entries are, you have to be there every day, and often a couple of times a day.  Best advice, enter lots and make the most out of each trip. 

Both kids have expressed that the fair days have been the best of their summer so far and each time we go, they don't want to leave.  A friend let us in on a tip before fair started that one of the community banks offers a mega wristband with a ticket purchase for a special price.  The kids wear them all week and have unlimited access to all of the rides.  The perfect thing for kids who have to be there multiple times a day for taking care of animals, showing, volunteering, barn duties, etc.  With one day left we are all exhausted and the house is suffering from neglect, but everyone is contented.

This weeks take:

Sidney:  2nd place, watercolor
rooster crowing~nada, performance anxiety :)
2nd place, poultry showmanship
1st place, high honor best Silkie rooster

Charles:  1st place, carrots

Me:  3rd place quilt, first time entry

Friday, July 29, 2011

Well Hello Thoreau!


A few nights ago we spied this creature in the yard next to the barn, he hung out for a moment, even though as we drove in from a long afternoon at the fair, we had to back up when we caught sight of him.  He was happily munching, yet in the back of my mind I wondered, is this the evil creature who snuck into our fort-knox like chicken enclosure to off a couple of our beloved egg layers??  (an aside, chickens are a constant learning experience, and no matter how safe you think your space, something seems to surprise you....now fort-knox has been re-fortified, anything getting in is going to have to burrow!)

I digress.  I put it out on facebook for opinions on what the creature was.  That post was one of my most active with responses, which I found curious, yet encouraged :)  The conclusion:  this is a groundhog/woodchuck, a plant eater, and not our culprit.  We have no idea how long he has lived here, but seems quite tame.  I took photos of him this evening from a mere five feet away.  He is very active, well at least he is very into his food!

Since he is not the dreaded chicken predator, we decided this creature who puts appetite before fear of our little posse, should have a name.  What better than one reflective of living off of the land and having a lovely fat belly!
Meet Thoreau!

Happy Friday!

I am waiting on one last result and I'll do a fair post.  I can say, that it has been quite a ride and this family will be a repeat offender, and probably on a much larger scale next year ;)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pause For Station Identification



I've not forgotten to write so far this week, we are just up to our ears in the county fair.  I can say, this far, we have learned a ton and are gaining our footing for the rest of the week and future years.  AND we already have a couple of ribbons ~ but more later.

The above shot is our first garlic, that we lovingly planted last fall and harvested yesterday.  It's drying out on the porch and will be stored and put with farm bags soon.    Our week three farm bags went out without a hitch and the week four bags are being picked up as we speak.  Week three included arugula, red leaf lettuce, onions, spinach, squash, beets, a few of our first cucumbers and wild blackberries!  The cucumbers this year are proving to be a challenge (look for another post on a sustainable life soon, ranting discussing).

I hope your week is off to a great start, I will have more from the county fair shortly! :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Little Relief


After a tremendously hot week, and little rain to speak of all summer, this morning we awoke to a dark sky and a slow steady rain.  Though we only got a 1/2 inch,  it allows for us to give our drip system and well a little reprieve from the constant garden watering.  As I walk outside this afternoon, the sun once again heats us up and the ground gives an audible sigh. 

We have delivered our third farm bag in as many weeks and are beginning to need to harvest twice daily in the garden.  The steady rain of this morning allowed for some guiltless quite reading time while the kids slept and the garden drank.  I head into the weekend preparing for a busy week that begins Sunday with my 4H'ers first time showing in the county fair.  Every day has a segment that requires our presence at the fair grounds, it should be quite an experience and Sidney has been counting down the days. 

This weekend begins both with excited anticipation and a heavy heart.  The school mate that I mentioned earlier this week, passed away this afternoon.  My thoughts are with her family trying to deal with such an unexpected loss.  I am once again reminded at how precious life is.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thankful Thursday


Please join me in MissBuckle's brainchild, Thankful Thursday.  You can comment here or post on my facebook page...what are you thankful for today?

Today I am most thankful:

::  That I spent way too much money on a little orchid plant for New Years brunch, then that I kept the little ivy bits after it was done, only to be surprised with new blooms today!

::   That we are expected to get some relief from this heat wave tonight.

::  That the garden seems to have hit its stride and is thriving.

::  That this summer is turning out to be one adventure after another for the kids!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Up A Tree

Up a Tree II

"Mom", the boy says, "we need to get more trees, I've climbed every tree on this place!"  "Well, maybe when my legs get longer I can reach higher branches."

As he ascends, wide eyed and alert, he inspects each snarled branch for ghosts, shadows of what were, all while listening to what they are now.  The prize, swiftly added to his collection of tree treasures, a cicada shell. 

Cicada
Boys will be boys....and I love that!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sunsets

Weekend Sunset
Sunsets.  The end of long hot summer days.  Reminiscing of school mates from oh so long ago, a lifetime ago.  Prayerful thoughts for one from that life, who now seems to be fighting for hers.  This summer has taught us to reflect upon stages of life, friends, and where we all are now, and how small this world really is.  Hopeful in the thought that sunsets soon lead to sunrises.  This morning's pre-dawn, in our unusual extreme heat and humidity, greeted me with fireflies lighting their way through the garden; lighting the way to sunrise.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Into the Bramble


 On a stiflingly hot day
escape into the shade of the forest.
Take great care
and forage
into the bramble bush.
For your patience
receive
lovely stained fingertips
and sweet rewards.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

What a Difference Three Weeks Makes!

I have recently posted a couple of garden related antic-dotes at Eat Right Racine and A Sustainable Life, I realized suddenly that I hadn't done much garden talk here.  Our very cool start to summer finally gave way to a sustained warmth that this week will turn into a potentially record breaking heat wave.  We have been incredibly dry which forced us to prioritize getting our irrigation set in the garden.  We laid drip line throughout the garden and berry patches which has cut down our need to hand water substantially.
It is amazing to me the progress the garden has made in a few short weeks.  The above picture was taken when we got back from California around the 23rd of June.  The photo below was taken yesterday!
Our second farm bags went out this week and we are definitely continuing to ramp up.  We distributed arugula, baby bok choi, a few squash, swiss chard, green onions, sugar snap peas, radishes, and a small jar of our chive vinegar.  We have a bumper crop of lettuce, and this is fair warning that greens will be abundant this week.  We can see the sliver of baby beans beginning and we should have beans coming out of our ears within the next ten days.  And squash, well let's say B came in this morning with the below group that wasn't out there when we went to bed last night!

We are starting to also see the berries take shape.  We picked gooseberries and red currants yesterday and are going to tackle the wild blackberries today.  Thanks to Julochka, my new favorite past time is cordial making.  We made our first attempt last week with mulberries, and processed red currants yesterday.  We tend to drink no soda in our family, but the kids have had quite a treat with the cordials.  They make the most amazing fresh homemade sodas when added to sparkling water, and nothing tastes more like summer!

**I know, I know, this is Silent Sunday.   After the day in the garden yesterday, I just didn't have the energy to get these thoughts together when I sat down last night.  So, Happy Sunday to you! ;-)

Silent Sunday



Silent Sunday

Friday, July 15, 2011

On a Friday

Honey, we SO need a lake house!
After a long week of busyness, today was wonderful.   A morning of leisurly coffee sipping as I finished hand stitching the binding on my fair entry quilt then weeding and walking the garden in the early morning cool.  Charles, blissfully happy to be headed to a birthday party of a good friend that involved a bouncy house and water balloons.  Sidney, excited to spend a whole nine hours with one of her best buddies running on the farm today.

Thanks to the generosity of a friend (that's you Miss Mary), many ladies, children and a brave gent enjoyed a lake house afternoon.  I was once again reminded that I must have time on a lake regularly, it is the closest my mind can come to perfect relaxation.  Hmmm if only we could get rid of the other house ~ but alas, if that happened, I think we would have to be a single house family for a good long while!

All in all, a beautiful 80 degree day prior to a pending crazy heat wave and a great way to start the weekend.  What soothed your soul this beautiful Friday?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thankful Thursday


Today,  I am ever so thankful:

:: That I can cross every commitment that cluttered my calendar this week off and exhale.

::  That little boys sleep so soundly after long adventurous days at camp.

:: That though it was a sad farewell, the roosters found a good home.

:: That while hanging onto my little girl, she is blossoming and testing her wings so gracefully.

:: That a good friend is home safe and though injured, is with us, in almost one piece ;)

What are you thankful for this week?  If you don't blog, leave your thoughts as a reply here or a comment on my facebook wall.  Thanks to Miss Buckle for this weekly post!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Posturing


We did a little bit of the chicken shuffle last night.  We moved our five month olds, two hens & two roosters (yes we're keeping the roosters now, long story) into the enclosed yard/barn area with the adults.  Then we moved the six three month olds out to the chicken tractor.  Whew, feathers were flying!

Gotta say, I love watching these crazy birds.  The larger of the two roosters tried to come out and assert himself.  The response he received was a whipping by a particular Rhode Island hen.  He cowered and puffed up dancing in the corner, yet attracted no empathy from the others.  The Aruacana rooster made his way outside from inside the dark barn (we introduced them inside at dusk), and didn't have much better luck. 

I went out to check on them just before dark and all of the ladies had headed in to roost and two of the hens had perched themselves inside the barn, blocking the entrance from the outside.  Both roosters were stuck outside!  I guess we're going to see who rules the roost here!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thankful Thursday


Today I am thankful:

:: for warm summer days full of activity

::  large fragrant bunches of lavender

::  for learning something new each day

::  my little girl, snuggled up, fast asleep on a lazy summer day post slumber party

:: my little man, sitting on the porch taking apart the spent fireworks to figure it all out

What are you thankful for this week?  If you don't blog, leave your thoughts as a reply here or a comment on my facebook wall.  Thanks to Miss Buckle for this weekly post!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How Cool is That??

I know that I have marveled in the past about how much I love our smallish town's Fourth of July parade.  We get up bright and early, fill our iced-coffee cups and hoof it up to the start of the pre-parade (yes, we have a pre-parade).   As we are walking we are mesmerized by the sounds of sirens, not the kind that woo you into debauchery, no, the emergency vehicle type.   Those vehicles representing departments from all over the county and a few from around the country lead off the pre-parade.  We head to our friend's house for their annual parade front bash and get to chat with loads of friends and neighbors.   When the parade proper starts, shortly into it, we see this!

This was so exciting, you see this is an original horse drawn milk wagon from the Progressive Dairy!!  Don't get the excitement??  Well that is our farm!  The original Gifford operation for the Progressive Dairy.  This float was sponsored by the Racine Heritage Museum.  What?  I had no idea, must investigate if they have a current exhibit on the Gifford family and what is now our precious homestead.
 The day progresses to amazing and carefree relaxation time at a dear friends lake cabin.  It has been a tradition of ours for the better part of the last 8 years and now with the kids older and lake activities.. all . that... it was really special.  The below shot is the pontoon 4th parade that is so cute...this year however, I was on the phone dealing with a work emergency for 3 hours including during this parade and missed it.  So this lovely shot was taken by B.  (That's all I'll say here about said work emergency, but good grief!!, lets out exasperated sigh)
The lovely fun filled day ended with exhausted, yet glowingly happy kids and a intimate fireworks display for four back on our homestead. 
One of the best weekends all year to be in this awesome community!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

One Enchanted Evening

Wild Flowers
Our fourth annual chili cook-off was yesterday and oh what a day!  We had a great crowd of friends, new and old, this year and and a pretty good one to one ratio adults to kids (37 adults/34 kids)!  The day was steaming hot, so perfect weather for a gastronomical competition, plenty of games for kids and adults alike, and lots of cold beer flowing (for the adults of course)! 

The evening ended with glow sticks, a few fireworks and several children turning into pumpkins~ ah as any party should end, with tired rosy cheeked kids.  :)  Hopefully sweet dreams all around!  To illustrate just how jam packed the evening was....I didn't take a single picture!  Sheesh, not a shot, nothing, zip, zero, zilch!  In fact the above photo is of one of the centerpieces I had placed around, and I took that shot this morning!!

In case you were wondering, all of the entries were fantastic.  This years chili winner was an amazing buffalo chicken chili, and our secondary pie contest was taken by a key lime meringue that was to die for!

Thanks to all of the participants and great friends who came out to celebrate a wonderful warm summer night, on this fourth of July weekend.  It was one enchanted evening!

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

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