Showers N’ Flowers

Today I am sitting at my desk at work, contemplating why I even attempt to re-ink a stamp. The frugalista in me says, “Why buy a entire new stamp when a bottle of ink is three dollars?” The realist in me says, “Every time you re-ink a stamp, you end up looking like you were booked and fingerprinted MULTIPLE times in the county jail.” I now have ink on my desk, my face, all of my fingers, my pencil cup, my mouse, and the book I was reading. Luckily, I wore a black shirt today.

But let us discuss more pleasant and pretty things. My yard, for example!

This spring was chilly all the way into the first of May. Not that I’m complaining, HOWEVER, my corn I planted never came up and my cream peas were lackluster. My tomatoes were sad and took forever to grow. Even so, now that it’s warmed up, things are filling out. Let’s take a look around:

View from our porch. It rained today for the first time in a MONTH, PTL! I was already tired of watering.  Yarrow and daylilies are at the forefront:

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View of the house. The front porch will eventually be screened in the front, and closed on the sides with big screened windows. I call it my future three season room. You can see that the blanketflower (on bottom left) really took over. It is all over our yard now.

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Front left side of porch. From left: Indian hawthorn (covered in blackberry I can’t kill), blue/black salvia, daylily, and then my lemon trees I grew from seed five years ago. Also, a couple of geraniums.

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View of what I call “The Salad Bowl”. Jason leveled the front yard, and this required making a hill around the driveway. I have really been working on this hill with tomatoes, wildflowers, asparagus, and Drift roses, among many other things. Trying to keep it covered to prevent erosion. Also, it is 100% ‘sugar sand’, so I am slowly digging out sand and replacing with compost. The flat ground is where we will plant big thing like corn and okra, and you can also see my sad peas and my rows of green beans. The flowers are brown eyed Susans, which I love!

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Raised metal bed that Jason built. The plan is to trellis indeterminate tomatoes here. This is a 10′ bed, but a 20′ is in the works. I will put anything vining or trailing on these.

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Prime-ark Freedom blackberries! Only 2 yr old vine and producing tons of huge fruit. I love this berry!

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Backside of the ‘rose garden’. Time to clean up the old bulb leaves. Once they are brown, they are fine to remove.

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Iris bed with orange, purple, and white irises. Also have some daylilies and crocosmia planted.

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The ‘rose garden’, with a few unidentified roses, but also has “Trumpeter”, “Electron”, Mutabilis, “The Fairy”, and “Dolly Parton”. I put assorted impatiens in the empty spots just to fill space.IMG_20180520_190023805

Another view of the iris bed. You can see the lighter green crocosmia taking over, but it’s so gorgeous here in a few weeks, who cares? The little tree on the right is a lemon tree that I planted from local seed. There are two lemon trees in Jacksonville that I know of, and both are ancient. I got seed from both trees about five/six years ago, and one tree is just now fruiting! We are sooooo excited. BTW, the Coors can you may see isn’t mine; it’s for the slugs. Yes, I am a bootlegger for slugs. Only kidding…slugs are apparently addicted to cheap beer and they will come by the hundreds to a beer-filled dish only to party and subsequently perish. Try it for yourself if the slugs are driving you crazy!

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Hope you enjoyed the tour! In the next month, things will start getting crispy out there and I’ll only come out “when the sun hits the pines”, which is to say, either before sun up or after sundown!

 

Cat In Glasses, Weird Dog, and Walk Your Chicken Day

We recently discovered that our cat, Milo, loves to be dressed up. That is, he doesn’t resent it very much. Okay, fine, he doesn’t hate it and tolerates it more than ten seconds, which could indicate ‘love’ for a cat. Anyway, Milo was dressed to the nines this week, all while sitting in a tiny wicker rocking chair with a doll blanket on his ‘lap’. Amazingly enough, he never objected to any of this treatment and we all came out of this photoshoot with no bloodshed. Maybe in all the spare time I have (HA), I’ll make a cat calendar. Then again, probably not.

 

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Later in the week, Nancy ‘remembered’ an old trick of hers: Bring us the dog food bowl and whack us on the legs with it until we fill it. It’s cute when it really is ‘cookie time’, but can get slightly annoying when, thirty minutes after she eats, she is already beating your ankles with her bowl. Still, I have to say she is a smart dog who knows what’s important in life. (FOOD)

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We ended the week by putting a chicken in a dog harness and seeing what would happen. Things can get monotonous in the country sometimes, so you have to spice it up a little. As you can see, Rae did very well for his first walk. Really, it’s much like ‘walking’ a cat, which is to say, you put it in a harness, pray it doesn’t go berserk and scratch out your eyes, and follow it wherever it wants to go. Again, no bloodshed other than at the 0:11 mark, my child is attacked by fireants. We awarded Rae with a cabbage leaf covered in baby cabbage worms, and yes, he ate it down to the rib.

 

Have a fabulous pre-Thanksgiving weekend friends! I’ll be decluttering more, bathing dogs, and probably walking chickens.

 

 

Facebook, Redneck Trees, Creepy Garden Dwellers, Sewing, and Hygge…

and this is how the past week rolled here on the farm!

I had started week two of Facebook freedom, and it dawned on me that I did not have any way to contact a particular group of friends other than Facebook.

Sigh.

Feeling fairly defeated, I have logged back on. BUT, I have only been checking it twice a day. I think that is better than my former record 4,537 times a day and every time I went to the bathroom.

Do I still think it is possible for life without Facebook? ABSOLUTELY. I now realize that I didn’t have a good back-up plan for contacting folks (other than Facebook) which I have been working on correcting this week. I have only been looking at my group of friends page, and not my feed. Otherwise, I’d be back to spending a ludicrous amount of time on there.

Moving on!

I finally found a sign that I love after a four year search for the ‘perfect’ sign for my kitchen wall. It also helped that it was 50% off at Hobby Lobby! On the very same day, my food order with Mary Jane’s Farm  arrived. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was. I have been an official “Farmgirl” with Mary Jane for five years, and following her site/magazine subscriber for eight. I had never tried her food before and I have no idea why I hadn’t before. I also had forgotten that as an official Farmgirl I get free shipping! Hello!

So, I got a sampler pack that lets you try the Budget mix (think: Bisquick on a heavenly, organic level) and then a couple of instant meals that you just add water to the bag! They are intended for on-the-go or for camping/backpacking. All I can say is: WOW. Simply…amazing. In fact, I have already restocked yet again. More on that later.

Here is my sign and some of the food items.

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Then the next day, I planted lots of pansies and violas in my gardens. I am not sure why I never (!) have planted pansies before but I love them so much!

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And as I stepped out to check on the garden that evening, I saw these critters. We have a cute little toad and a massive spider. I have only seen three of these spiders in the nine years we have been here, but counting his legspan, it is easily as wide as my palm. Ack! It’s a good thing that I like spiders. Perhaps even more creepy is how well this little feller mixes in with the background…

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With all of this extra time I now have (thanks to my Facebook reduction), I decided to get back to sewing. I have a love/hate relationship with sewing. There are times when that’s all I want to do, and then when it gets frustrating, I want to throw my sewing machine and all the fabric and sewing notions right into a burn pile. I had to use my seam ripper more than someone SHOULD on this dress. To be quite honest, I had to go to the store to get another seam ripper as I dulled my first one, if that tells you anything. Anyway.

It is a Dottie Angel design; Simplicity 1080, if you’d like to see the pattern. I plan on throwing on some leggings and doing farm work in it. I had read several critiques of this pattern and they are not unfounded. There are definitely parts of the pattern which just seem overly complicated. I still have to hem it and then figure out how to fit it properly so I don’t have the ‘back bunching’ that I have going on now. Losing 10 pounds would help, but until then, perhaps some well placed darts will do.

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Later in the week, influenced by my dear friend “Big Rig”, I went to the dollar store to get some holiday “day-core”, as we say. Of course, all of the fall/Thanksgiving items were gone with exception of a lonely package of plates, some fall napkins, and a vinyl tablecloth, despite the fact it was only the first week of November. Actually, I want to say it was November second, perhaps? So a word to the wise, if you need autumn ‘day-core’ at the dollar store, you’d better head up there in August, I guess.

Even though I was pretty peeved that it looked as though Father Consumerized Christmas had just upchucked his wares on half of Dollar Tree, I just could not pass up the gold glitter deer head. So then I had to pick up a tiny dollar tree, a tiny strand of LED lights, and some gold ball things in the floral section. I grabbed a roll of gold glittery tulle (hint: UNWRAP IT OVER A TRASH CAN, unless you want your entire house coated in gold glitter). Yet, one deer head was just not enough.

Then it was a trip “up to the Wal-Marts” for more deer heads and tiny pinecones. All told, it was under ten dollars for my little redneck tree and I love it.

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To finalize my week, I have been re-reading about the Danish concept of ‘hygge’ (pronounced ‘hue-gah’ or ‘hoo-gah’, depending on who you listen to). I had looked this up several years ago, being the trendsetter that I am and all (NOT), and I love love love the idea of hygge.

What is ‘hygge’? From what I gather, hygge is:

  • Snuggly blankets
  • Fireplaces
  • Wool socks
  • Cinnamon buns
  • Cake
  • Hot tea/coffee
  • Candles…many candles
  • Friends
  • A purring cat
  • Soft lighting (read: more candlelight)
  • Books
  • A cozy chair
  • Togetherness
  • Unfinished pine wood
  • Anything you can find at IKEA, surrounded by purring cats, lit candles, friends and family wrapped up in ‘cosy’ blankets wearing wool socks in front of your roaring fireplace, shoveling cinnamon buns and cake in their mouths while drinking hot tea/coffee and reading long, engaging and meaningful novels in a room preferably with either unfinished pine walls or an unfinished pine table.

And that, friends, is ‘hue-gah’ for you! So I would like to present my little snippet of farmhouse hygge to you. We have a purring cat in his cozy bed in an IKEA bin. Please note that this IS in a room with unfinished pine walls (unseen in photo).

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For more hygge ideas, there are now a bajillion books, e-books, and websites dedicated to this 2017 word of the year, or, you can simply order a free IKEA catalog, curl up on your couch with a warm blanket and hot coffee, and peruse the pages at your leisure.

Until next time!

Year nine on the farm: Older, fatter, and furrier

October 2017 marks two milestones for our family; we have now been on the farm for nine years, and I turned forty.

Turning 4-Oh

Something about turning forty has changed me. With any luck, I hope to live another forty years. It would be a gift of another lifetime! With that, it got my little pea brain churning, thinking about:

  • The importance of living every day to the fullest
  • Celebrating every birthday, and that sending birthday cards to family/friends is no longer optional
  • Planning for a life we’d like to live after the kids have moved out
  • Becoming debt-free so we can work minimally and live to the max
  • Maintaining our health so we can enjoy life to the fullest

I also think about how I have already lived four years longer than my own grandfather did, and how every day is truly a blessing.

On a funnier note, I am trying to understand why, at forty:

  • My body has begun to cling to every single calorie like a person dangling from the side of a cliff
  • God decided that visible nose hairs are not optional just because you are a woman while simultaneously they become more prevalent/darker…yet at the same time, I am losing the hair on the top of my head
  • Any new hair I DO happen to grow on my head is either white and silky or a thick and extremely unruly black menace that sticks straight out
  • I can throw out my back by simply standing up and moving my leg half-inch in the ‘wrong’ direction

These are the things I ponder now.

 Year Nine on the Farm

With this year, we are still working on paying off our debt, maintaining the home and grounds, and now we are downsizing.

While I did keep some baby chicks hatched this year, the new goal is to continue to downsize the flock until we have a nice number of laying hens. Let’s face it: I do NOT get $100 worth of eggs a month that I’m paying for the feed at this point! We do have some older layers as well as several hens who are more like pets, but as usual, we also possess a disproportionately large number of roosters who are getting fat on my dollar.

Now for a review in photos!

October 2016:

That time that everyone got ticked off after playing Sorry:

November 2016:

The cold and wet beginning to our square foot beds:

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Our living room/library area after bringing in the ferns for the winter:

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Fall foliage:

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December 2016:

A beautiful winter sunset!

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From 65 degrees to 48 in 47 minutes!

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January 2017:

One day, as I was hanging laundry, I looked up to see this ‘mackerel sky’. I made myself pretty dizzy trying to take a good pic.

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This year marked the beginning of new beds and a new gardening method: Square Foot Gardening. I love it!!! Jason built the beds. The soil you see was just, well…crappy, but it’s all I had. Now it has much better soil.

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2017 was the Year of the Annoying Ladybug/Asian Ladybeetle invasion. Here is a group in our barn, but there were hundreds in the house. Yuck. Glad they do eat aphids, but it would be lovely if they would hibernate outdoors like REAL ladybugs!!!

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February:

Being sensitive to sodium nitrate (Read: gives me major migraines), I can only eat uncured meats. Let’s face it, when you live in the sticks, things can be difficult to find. Our local Wal-Mart decided to stop carrying ‘my’ bacon, so I was forced to drive thirty miles to find some. Jason came to the rescue with my Valentine’s gift!

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Ladybug invasion continues in the warm sun:

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A true ladybug! I found several Twice-Stabbed ladybeetles on our pear trees. Yaaaay!

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March:

Another ‘true’ ladybug, the Convergent Ladybeetle. I probably learned more about ladybugs this year than in my last 40 years!

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April:

April showers and all of that!

May:

May’s warmth brings out the reptiles! Anoles and rat snakes are in full force!

June:

A cicada emerges!

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Swedish strawberry cake:

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A new friend emerges from the woods! My first photos of Eleanor, the wild cat.

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July:

Happy Fourth!!!

We add another new family member. Meet Esther. Note: Esther is the one without the beard.

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August:

Esther enjoys robes and hiding in the mini pantry. This behavior was not endorsed by yours truly. No one likes cat hair in their cereal.

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September:

Another new family member! Meet Milo:

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2017, so far, has proved to be the Year of the Cat! I also have declared it the year of Returning to the Homestead since I have now deactivated my Facebook account and suddenly have hours and hours added to my day! Amazing, isn’t it? Hope you enjoyed this year’s re-cap.

On to 2018!!!

Lamplight

The electricity hasn’t gone out. There is something absolutely magical about reading by the light of an oil lamp. 

When days grow dark at five o’clock, artificial light given off by electric bulbs seems harsh to my eyes. It’s too bright; too unnatural, perhaps. 

Tonight I’m enjoying the illumination and warmth given off by my Mamaw’s green glass lamp. 

I wonder how our sleep cycles would be affected if our homes weren’t kept as bright as daytime when night begins to fall?

Now, back to my reading. Goodnight, friends. 

The Grey Days

During the fall and winter a couple of years ago, we had two or three sunny days in four months. It was terrible. Every day started off with a grey hazy morning and ended just as gloomily. I actually love cloudy days, but after a month of seeing no sun, my attitude became just as ‘blah’ as the forecast.

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Starting around Thanksgiving, I felt bone-dead tired all of the time, then eventually my attitude worsened to where I didn’t care to do anything. I didn’t want to clean, cook, do crafts, or work on my garden plan, which are all typically things that I enjoy. I also drank too much sugary coffee and stuffed myself with whatever carb was handy. Subsequently, I put on extra weight. I clearly remember one day in January where the sun was barely peeking out from the oppressive cloud cover. Since it was in the 20s that day, I sprawled out on the floor of our sunroom just like an old cat, basking in the warmth. I was desperate for some sunshine!  The ‘meh’ feeling went on for several months until February, when Mr. Sun decided to show his face again. Days were warm enough to get outside, and my mental fog dissipated.

While I believe hormones totally rule our female world and could account for at least part of my ‘blah-ness’, I also thought that there was a deeper explanation for the lethargy and overall depression I had experienced. That’s when I began to research Seasonal Affective Disorder.

As it turns out, SAD (how appropriate!) is a cyclical depression that affects people most often during the autumn and winter months, although it can happen other times as well. SAD is caused by the lack of sunlight, so the number of people who are afflicted will increase the further you move from the equator. It can also occur if you live in a cloudy area with little sun or even by working in a dark office.

So what to you do to lift your mood? Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal, who first wrote about SAD in 1984, gives several tips on his site. One suggestion is to increase the light in your life! Get outside in the sun when possible. Open up those heavy drapes, or even invest in a light box. This is one reason that I pick weeds for at least an hour a day when weather permits throughout fall and winter. Other tips: Reduce stress! Don’t overeat sugary and starchy foods. Get some exercise!  Take a vacation to a sunny place and bask. And of course, if these ideas do not work, definitely talk to a professional.

After the Grey Days of 2013-14, I was talking with a friend, and she went through the exact same thing! Remember that you are NEVER alone!!!

Have you ever had the grey days of winter? I often wonder how many women go through this and don’t speak up!

May your days be sunny and bright, friends!

 

Some days are good for…

A cool and drippy November day is perfect for snuggling up with a friend!