Tuesday, June 30, 2015

#100HappyDays :: Day 56

Our seasonal birds have quite the set up.  Outside their evening digs in the chicken tractor, they have a large area to roam, multiple spots to find food and water, the ducks and geese have a swimming pool, large shade trees, grass full of clover to snack on, and a built in spot that the chickens have decided is perfect for dusting themselves.   Happy birds.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Teenage Years

As we find ourselves fully ensconced in the teenage years it has been both a joy and a challenge to watch teenager #1 develop her own style through trial and error.    She is her own person.  She does not want to be a trend setter, but does seem to make choices that others want to emulate.  As she gets irritated when she sees her ideas begin to be duplicated, she is constantly tweaking herself.  Years ago she worried that she was going to lose her imagination.  She did not want to grow up and no longer be able to be creative.  Thankfully, her creativity seems to only be expanding in her ideas, art, and expression.

B and I decided long ago that since there would be many important challenges that we as parents would have to navigate and set strong boundaries for, that things like fashion choices and hair color would not be a major issue for us.  We would allow our kids to express themselves as long as they were safe and any permanent changes to their bodies that they desired would wait until they were of legal adult age.  With Leanne's help, it seems that Sidney's vision came out perfectly, suiting who she is right now.  Hopefully these little faiths in their creativity and ideas will give them the wings they need to fly with confidence and joy.

#100HappyDays :: Day 55

This pile consisted of 10 cubic yards of 3/8" chipped limestone.  A major project undertaking that ran fairly smoothly.

We had enough of the black fabric that we use for row covers to line 3/4 of the garden paths.  Thank goodness we have the tractor!  B was able to dump buckets on the edges or use it to fill the wheel barrow.  Happily it was a pretty easy material to spread with our metal rakes, and provided quite the upper body workout.

After about six hours of work we had finished the bulk of it, and could go no further without more landscape fabric to line the final two path lengths.  B's estimate was perfect as we had enough limestone to back fill around the pool as well and with what we have left should be able to finish the final paths with ease.  A hard days work that will save us hours of time in the long run.  We can check off the list trying to keep all of the weeds and grass pulled from the paths, and it doesn't look too shabby either!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

#100HappyDays :: Day 54

Everything is growing by leaps and bounds on the farm.  It is hard to believe that the ducks and geese are just over eight weeks old!

Our first farm bag of the season went out on Friday, the cooler weather has put us behind one week from last year, but has allowed a longer seasons growth of lettuces, cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower and fennel to name a few.  The garlic scapes are just beginning to come on too, right on time!

The challenge each year for us is keeping up with succession plantings so that produce that is pull and done, keeps coming.  Yesterday we finished the irrigation system on one such bed, full of lush baby summer crisp lettuce, kale and bok choi.  Then we planted another eight heads of our favorite salinova lettuce.  Another re-use item on the homestead, old invisible fence flags to mark where seeds went in the ground so we can identify the young growth from the weeds that will surly come through too...a side bonus, maybe they'll keep Emerson out of the bed too!

After having 10 cubic yards of flat gravel delivered yesterday, the next tasks are infrastructure ones; rocking in around the pool to make a mow strip, and beginning to cover and rock in all of the paths in the garden.  I cannot wait to see how this final touch formalizes the garden that we have worked so hard on over the last eight years.  Me and my sore muscles will post before and after pics soon.  Happy Sunday!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

#100HappyDays :: Day 53

A fresh bouquet of wildflowers picked with a light heart.  Yesterday was a happy day.   The Supreme Court decision came down at a good time; there is so much divisiveness within our country and our politics.  In fact this environment has led some justices to regress and write tantrum like dissents filled with name calling, further illustrating a spiral toward childhood in how we approach issues.   I am happy that I no longer have to try to explain to my children why we had legalized discrimination.

Speaking of childhood, if any of you saw Inside Out this week, it leaves a good analogy.  Far too long have fear, anger and disgust ruled individuals.  Everyone needs to find their joy, balance their emotions out and begin to reflect on the integrity of their own lives and how they affect the world around them without being so concerned with the lives of others.  Do onto others people, Love Wins.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

#100HappyDays :: Day 51

You have got to love a playing a new game that involves trivia and silly dares.  Things like kneeling down by the player on your left and reading them a Shakespearean Sonnet in such a way as to move them to tears.  We were all moved to tears of laughter....advance one space.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

#100HappyDays :: Day 50

The early season view shows the garden well under way.  We top dressed the beds with hay to help inhibit weed growth and maintain moisture.  The little things really spruce the garden up.  Our constant nemesis is the grasses and weeds that come up in the garden paths, this year we hope to gravel the paths all in to eliminate this problem once and for all.

A bonus to having a tractor?  The delicate negotiation involved with B rising me up in the bucket so that I can get an 'aerial' shot of the garden.  Here's to  the summer season, complete trust in your life mate, and being half way through #100happydays!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

#100HappyDays :: Day 49

A few warmer days and the summer crops are beginning to grow like mad.  Everything is setting little flowers, this baby eggplant is a late summer treasure in the making.  

Monday, June 22, 2015


B is always looking for new ways to do things.  As a constant researcher, we never need to worry about finding innovative ways for re-use.

Due to various storms we have lost a number of trees over the last 8 years.  There is some wonderful wood that we have seasoned and hold onto for fires and cooking, but there is also a lot of more junk wood like willow and box elder.

Enter hugelkultur;  a permaculture method creating a raised garden bed, by layering logs of wood and soil.  The natural settling and breakdown of the wood over time gives wonderful nutrients to whatever we may choose to plant there.

Fortunately, the timing worked perfectly for us to clean up areas of various logs, and the fact that we had a great deal of surplus soil from where the pool area was just dug.

With the bulk of the work done, we plan to water it thoroughly and cover it with a row cover while it initially warms up and begins to break down.  Then I think we will plant a variety of perennial plants on it to make it a more permanent fixture in the garden.

#100HappyDays :: Day 48

Father's Day was a leisurely day spent enjoying the warm weather.  When I asked B what he wanted for dinner he suggested that we try doing some fried chicken over a bonfire.  We have done quite a bit of bonfire cooking in the past and it seemed the perfect day for it.

We moved our table from the porch into the shade by the bonfire and all spent the late afternoon and evening outside, hanging out, listening to music, cooking, playing Frisbee, and Sidney spent some of her time making flower crowns and drawing.

When it was time to eat, the chicken and biscuits were perfect, and we did a simple cabbage salad dressed in poppyseed dressing that the kids gobbled up seconds of.  The perfect way to spend an absolutely beautiful day.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Solstice

The solstice brought with it true summery weather, that led to hours spent outside.

A little bit of work, lots of play, and a clover flower crown for dad

Here's to the rest of the season holding as much promise as this first day of summer.

#100HappyDays :: Day 47

An evening celebrating dear friends.  A party filled with laughter, tears, good food, lively conversation and all kinds of wackiness.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

#100HappyDays :: Day 46

Charles turned twelve Mothers Day weekend, but was at a soccer tournament, so decided to have his birthday party when the weather was (should be) warmer, and we hopefully had the pool in.  Since he was old enough to walk he could be found trying to scale every tree he could reach.

Not every birthday party comes complete with pigs!

I would expect nothing less than vibrant imaginations creating wrestling games on the trampoline.

Though the pool was put in and filled only yesterday and our temperatures have been cool at best, nothing was stopping these boys from jumping in and initiating the pool.  The looks on their faces when they hit the water were priceless.  They lasted about 20 minutes before they came in the house shivering, and ready for ice cream cake.  

Twelve year old birthday parties, a very happy spot in an otherwise hectic day.

Friday, June 19, 2015

#100HappyDays :: Day 45

After two months of planning and rescheduling a few times due to rain, yesterday, this happened!  When I was growing up, my house was the hang out house.  We had a pool, basket ball hoop, pool table, and my folks always kept a stocked fridge.  My group of friends had countless sleep overs, it was a highlight of my adolescence.

Sidney had expressed that she wanted the same thing, but we do not have a pool.  No we only have six acres, basket ball, volleyball, bad mitten, fire pit, archery, a trampoline and tons of animals...but that is boring!  We were considering an above ground pool and when one came up for re-sale for a great price from a local family we jumped on the opportunity.  We need to finish the back-fill area around it and take a power washer to the outside but it is about good to go.  Next year we will add a deck around the back.  A happy moment yesterday, envisioning happy summer days ahead.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Skunk Grove

As I mentioned in my #100HappyDays post today, the cool weather crops are doing quite well.  I posted a picture on Facebook yesterday of our first harvested head of Napa Cabbage that got quite a few comments, one reminding me where we lived.

Some have called our town the sauerkraut capitol of the world, though I am sure this is hyperbole, the original name for our town was Skunk Grove, an homage to the fact that it was once  the home of Franks Kraut Company and you could smell the sauerkraut for miles around as it was fermenting.  Subsequently, we became Franksville.

WI is one of the largest cabbage producers and when it is harvest time you know when a field has been picked and the rest left to compost into the soil! There must be something extra special in our Franksville soil to happily grow such gorgeous heads of cabbage.  We used our first head to make a ginger lime slaw, and are anxious to start our first batch of kimchi over the next few days.

#100HappyDays :: Day 44

We do not often get much of a spring.  Many times we go straight from winter to the mud of the thaw, and then onto balmy summer temperatures.  This year however, we seem to be stuck in perpetual Spring, as we head into the solstice this weekend, we have seen persistent rain, and many days of cool temperatures peppered with a few warm days here and there.

As a result the garden's summer veggies are off to a slower start.  Thriving, and even some beginning to flower, yet still small plants aching for warm and sunny weather to grow.  On the flip side of this is the cooler early summer crops of lettuces, cabbages and broccoli are growing beautifully and beginning to grace our nightly table.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

#100HappyDays :: Day 43

When life throws those curve balls at you, notice the simple beauty around you, it will rejuvenate you.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

#100HappyDays :: Day 42

Just over a week later, and after the constant rain has battered our white peonies to the ground, I was given a little gift between showers, our pink ones have just begun to open.  Since thunderstorms continue to be in the forecast speckled throughout the rest of the week, I may just cut them all and put them in vases all over the house!

Monday, June 15, 2015

#100HappyDays :: Day 40

I began the year with a yoga class on goal setting for my practice, and I have been sad that getting to classes has been difficult to accomplish.  Then, a friend of mine posted last week about Ali Kamenova's videos on YouTube and I love them!  There are videos for every level and intensity and I am looking forward to see where it takes me.   I have managed to practice four out of the last six days, and the little sitting space behind our living room couch is slowly turning into my yoga area.  Happy to be working on this goal, and looking forward to further transforming this little space in the family room.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

#100HappyDays :: Day 39

Both of our girls have tons of personality, but Penelope is the most dog like.  She follows us everywhere and loves to come up to us and rub next to our legs...in fact she decided to rub her side against my leg like a scratching post yesterday and she's getting so big it was everything that I could do to stay upright.

 We have a trough in the pasture that we put all of their veggie, fruit, and bread scraps into.  Though they enjoy that, they tend to quickly dump the scraps so they can play with the trough, flipping it and rolling it around the grass like a big toy.  Not so dissimilar to children choosing to play with the wrapping more than the gift.  Pigs at play, a happy spot in the day.

Fowl Lessons

Our first year of raising chickens and ducks for protein was a learning experience, and we did not realize just how much until we began to raise this years batch.  We kept last year's fowl well into early fall because they just did not seem be growing as expected.  When they did go for processing and we got them back they were very thin and tough.  With the exception of I'd say two, they have spent the rest of the time in our freezer, with us not quite knowing what to do with them.

That is where this year comes in.  All of our birds are huge and growing very fast.  In fact we will call for a processing appointment on our ducks in about two weeks!  I would say it was a problem with the breed, we changed hatcheries and went a different route on the chickens this year getting Red Rangers, but we kept with Pekin ducks so now I believe it was just the quality of stock coming from the hatchery.  From day one the chicks were aggressive eaters and foragers.

With a very wet start to summer, and rain in the forecast for most of this weekend, we got some tasks done when we could outside, but mostly focused inside and clearing out the freezer.  B had the great idea to try pressure cooking the chickens to see if that made them more tender, and then pressure canning the meat for future.  That, did the trick!  We ended up with 6 1/2 quarts of beautiful shredded chicken, and 7 quarts of a rich stock, all canned and ready to make easy meals on busy nights.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

#100HappyDays :: Day 38

Years ago we went through a phase where we made a lot of smoothies, but the equipment failed on us soon after we got it and we have been bit gun shy on buying anything else.  Over the last several months, Charles has asked incessantly to make smoothies again.  So after doing a lot more research and talking to friends, we made the decision to get a new one.  Once this Ninja 1500 went on sale for a great price I jumped on it, and was thrilled that it replaced three other appliances in my kitchen freeing up a ton of space!

I found this great pin on creating your own smoothies, bought a variety of ingredients and had Charles go for it.  He created a great strawberry/mango smoothie that we all enjoyed. I cannot wait to see what concoctions he comes up with!

Friday, June 12, 2015

#100HappyDays :: Day 37

Yesterday evening I hosted a class where we learned how to use a bullet journal.  A pretty cool concept especially for someone who is a list maker and note taker.  I will not use it so much for the calendaring, I am perfectly comfortable with iCal, but I have never found a to do list app that I really liked, and I find that I have notebooks for so many different things that this will be a good way to consolidate everything into one place.

Our dear friends who are moving next month were in attendance and brought their kids so that our kids could have some extra time to hang out before the move.  Lots of laughter, a very heated round of Anomia, and playing ghost in the graveyard in the rain gave the kids as well as the parents a very happy moment to remember.


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