Harvest Totals

Last month I decided to start writing down all the food we harvested from our land.  In April, I only kept track of eggs, but this month I tried to remember to measure everytime we brought something in the house.  I keep a little scale on the kitchen counter for just this.

April Harvest

  • 146 eggs

May Harvest-

  • 110 eggs (we were down because 3 of our hens were broody and not laying)
  • 5 pounds 4 ounces strawberries
  • 2 pounds shiitake mushrooms
  • 4 ounce rose petals
  • ~2 pounds of greens (this included chickweed, kale, lettuce, pea shoots, and spinach.  I’ll try to be better about separating then next month.  Sometimes we would go grab some greens for a sandwich and forget to measure.

In May, we also had 11 inches of rain!!

Feeding the garden

Quick question…

How often do you fertilize or feed your vegetables? I’ve not done anything since they’ve been planted, and everything looks great, but I imagine they would like a little food boost every now and then.  I checked on my comfrey compost tea, but it’s not ready yet…

Yummy giggles!

Leif found his giggle tonight!!  It had us all laughing up a storm!  I’ll see if I can upload the video for you!

3months3months2

I also finally finished his kimono for next winter.  It’s a pretty easy pattern, I just haven’t had a whole lot of hands free time.  I’m going to knit some pants to go with it.

leifkimono2

leifskimono

(Sorry for the horrid color, the lighting sucked!)

Oh, and the strawberries are coming in!  YAY!

strawberryharvest

Gardens a growin’!

Kaia’s flower garden:
kaiasgarden2009

Looks like we will have a nice strawberry harvest this year:
strawberries

Onions are doing well!
onions

Potatoes are up and growing strong:
potatoes

Lettuce and other greens are overwhelming us!
lettuce

Here’s a view of the front gardens from the roof
gardens2009

The plants on the roof are doing well… well, the ones that survived. Almost all of the delospermas (ice plants) didn’t survive the winter. We have large dead spots on the roof. We’ll see how things grow over the summer. Hopefully the plants that are living will fill in the gaps.
roof2009
roof2009-1

Kaia and I planted 45 Gladiola bulbs this spring, and Heidi created a little heart garden around them for us!
heartgarden

In the garden

Things are really looking nice in the garden! The greens are growing strong, my cucumbers and summer squashes are peaking their heads up, the potatoes are up, and the new asparagus has just broke ground. Yesterday, in Virgo (a fruit sign), I planted a hops vine, put in 22 tomatoes seedlings, seeded 3 types of winter squash, 2 types of pole beans, and seeded 3 types of melons into soil blocks. With almost everything in the garden, I realized that I have nothing to feed the plants with. I can’t use anything fishy or seaweedy, ’cause Suki will dig to china trying to find the source of the smell. So, I’m going to try an herbal fertilizer. I filled a 3 gallon bucket half way with comfrey and yarrow leaves (they were slightly wet from the rain). Then I put a large rock on top of them to weigh them down, and covered the bucket. I’ll let it sit like this for 3-6 weeks. I should end up with a concentrated fluid vegetable food. I’ll water it down with 10 parts water to one part concentrate and then spray the veggies. I’ll let you know how it works. What do you use?

The only pests I’ve noticed so far are flea beetles and white flies. I’ve sprayed a little neem oil to see if that will do the trick. May have to get some diotomacious earth for the beetles. What are your preferred methods of pest control?

this is a bloom from the “pavement rose” (a rugosa type) that I picked up at the herb festival this past weekend. Isn’t she lovely? The fragrance fills the garden!!
rugosarose

Birdies at the feeder! There is one I’ve seen lately that is an iridescent midnight blue! I don’t know what it is, but it’s beautiful!
birdfeeder

Keeping busy

We had one of those wonderful weekends where you stay really busy with all kinds of fun stuff!

Though we don’t really celebrate Easter, Kaia and I wanted to do something crafty for spring. First we made sweet little birds nests (and ate way too many M&M’s) We brought a few to a birthday party on Sunday, but what we left at home is all gone now :-)

birdnests

birdnests2

We dyed some of our eggs, too. But, since we get dark eggs from our chickens and you can’t see the dye well, we tried a new dying tactic.

First, you set up your dyes in glasses and hard boil your eggs.
Then, you roll the cooled eggs around, cracking the shell, but leaving it on the egg.

marbleggs1

Plop the eggs in the glasses of dye and leave them for a few hours, at least (we left ours overnight).

marbleggs2

Then, take them out of the dye and peel off the shell. The inside of the shells are just as beautiful as the egg.

marbleggs3

The darker colors came out best. Some of the eggs didn’t peel well at all, I think they were a little too fresh when we boiled them.

marbleggs4

marbleggs5
We plan on having deviled eggs later on this week.

Yesterday, while the moon was in scorpio, we planted spinach and chard seeds out in the garden beds, and started cilantro and fennel in soil block in the cold frame.

With the weather warming up, I really need to go into the bee hives and check them out. But, the weather has been either rainy or too windy. Soon, hopefully, so I can add more supers if they need more space (to keep them from swarming).

Roots and wood

I put out some roots yesterday while the moon was in Virgo… potatoes of all colors (red, blue, white, yellow fingerling, new potatoes). I did intensive planting of 50 potatoes in a small raised bed, each potato was placed 9 inches apart in all directions. We’ll see how it goes. I also planted beets (Lutz’s salad beets, which make good greens as well as large beet roots, and Chioggia, which are the red and white bull’s eye beets). And since the onions I grew from seed are still looking puny, I put in a pound of onion starts, too.

I also planted a rose bush. I know that’s not a root, but I’d just received it in the mail and it needed to get in the ground. It’s a Rosa canina rose. I’ve been looking all over for it and found only one supplier, and it was going to cost $70 to get it shipped to me. Even though these aren’t the showiest of roses, the hips they produce are huge and I use them a lot in cooking and medicine. Many other roses produce nice rose hips, but this is the kind you will get when you order them from an herb supplier. So, I thought I would have to be without…then Lizzy Lane found one on Ebay for me… in Italy! I contacted the seller and they were the nicest people! They said they would send me a small start for $11, including shipping. It arrived in beautiful condition on Wed. so I plopped it in the ground yesterday. Yay!

Here’s a rose hip recipe for you:
Rose Hip Jam
Fill jar 2/3 full of cut, sifted & deseeded rose hips.
Cover with apple juice.
Let sit 4 hours to overnight. May be blended for smoother texture. Refrigerate.
Slather it on toast, use instead of jelly, or just eat it with a spoon!! Mmmm

Toby’s started work on a wood shed. It seems to rain every time we need to bring wood in for a fire, so we thought it would be nice to have a dry place to stack it for next winter :-)
woodshed

And, I don’t think I ever put up pictures of the guest house once we finished it… well, almost finished it. Heidi’s been living in it since late last year, but it still needs water, electricity and finish work. It’s cute though, eh?
guesthouse

plantings

I set out my broccoli, kale, and lettuce/greens seedlings today. (The moon is in Cancer, a water sign good for planting leafing vegetables.) And tomorrow the moon moves into Leo, a fire sign good for planting fruiting plants, so I am going to start my tomatoes and eggplants. From reading other blogs it seems like I’m way behind on my plantings, but if I calculate my plantings by the average last frost date around here (April 21st), I’m not supposed to start tomatoes until about now… am I way late??

I have another question… When I start my vegetable seeds, unless the seed package tells me otherwise, I always just stick the seeds in the soil…. I know some seeds need cold, some need scarring, some need soaking, but which seeds? Is there a list of seeds needing stratification or scarification?

hello…

… I’m still here :-) I’ve just been away from the computer a bit… It’s hard to type with a baby in your arms :-)
We are all doing really well! Leif is a total sweetie! He’s very laid back, although he is a total snuggler and doesn’t like to be put down. Kaia is still in love with him and is taking on the role of ‘big sister’ very well.

We’re getting some much needed rain here. Looks like the week ahead will bring even more rain! Maybe the spring will start flowing again (it dried up last July with the drought). With the rain, I’ve gotten a few shiitake from my logs. They dried up last year and hadn’t produced in a long time. I really need to move them to a more moist and shaded area, too.

shiitake

In the garden, I’ve planted asparagus. I’m the only one in the family that likes it, so I should have lots to enjoy! I planted the crowns last Sunday, under capricorn, an earth sign good for planting roots. I know asparagus isn’t a root crop, you harvest the spears, but I thought it might be good to plant them under an earth sign to get the roots established well for better harvest later. We’ll see…. I have 10 more crowns, maybe I will plant them under a leaf sign and see which patch does better.

calmingthechild
Kaia thought she’d try out the chair to see how well it works to calm you down.

rugsnuggles
nuttyfamily

Gardening 2009-7

With the moon in Virgo, an earth sign, the onions and leeks went in the ground today. It wasn’t so easy planting with Leif attached to me by sling, but we managed :-) I only put in 16 soil blocks of onion (with 3 or 4 seedlings in each block) and 12 soil blocks of leeks (with 3 or 4 seedlings in each). I just don’t have the garden space this year for more. Plus, they are so tiny and spindly, I may get some onion starts to plant elsewhere just to make sure we get some onions out of it all.

Oh, here is another great guide to planting by the signs. They have a weekly newsletter too with reminders of what to plant when.

Gardening 2009-6; Signs to garden by

Living in the Appalachian mountains, I’ve heard some of the older farmers say things like: “I won’t be planting corn today… moon’s in the heart” or “Best be planing your collards today… moon’s in the feet” I had no idea what they were talking about, but I really wanted to understand them!! It sounded so neat to be able to garden by the moon signs.

This is my first year gardening by the signs. I am mainly working with this book. It’s easy to use since it spells it all our for you; when to plant what and why. A very general overview of the signs if this:

Pisces, Cancer, and Scorpio are water signs (wet) and are generally good times to plant leafy things.
Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius are Fire signs (warm/hot) generally good for planting fruiting things.
Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn are Earth signs (cool/cold) generally good for rooting things.
Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius are Air signs (light/bright) generally good for flowering things.

So according to the book, these signs, mixed with other aspects of the stars and moon, tell me when it is best to plant my garden.

This past fall, I attended a class on Healing by the Signs, given by Phyllis D. Light. Her family dates back many generations in Alabama, and she is lucky enough to have generations of relatives who have passed on their herbal and gardening knowledge. Though her class was primarily about healing according to your sign and what sign the moon is in, she also touched on gardening as her ancestors taught her. This is where I finally understood what it meant to “plant things when the sign is in the feet”. Here are some basic notes:

(notice as you go down the zodiac, you also go down the human body… The first sign starts at the head, the the last sign ends at the feet. A person born under a certain sign, if out of balance, may have afflictions related to the body parts that their sign rules. Also notice that the first sign is a fire sign, then there is earth, then air, then water, and it repeats down the zodiac.)

Aries (the first house) rules the head and sinuses. It is a fire sign good for pruning, turning soil and killing weeds. It is not a time for planting or starting new projects.

Taurus (the second house) rules the throat and thyroid. It is an earth sign good for sewing seeds and planting root crops. It is a good sign in which to start projects, and build.

Gemini (the 3rd house) rules the breath, lymph, and blood. It is an air sign good for weeding, cultivating and harvesting. A time for cleansing.

Cancer (4th house) rules the stomach, breasts, and upper liver. It is a water sign good for planting seeds or root crops, watering the plants, pruning/grafting.

Leo (5th house) rules the heart, spine, arteries, spleen, and lower liver. It is a fire sign good for pruning, killing weeds and cultivating.

Virgo (6th house) rules the intestines, solar plexus and carpal bones. It is an earth sign but is considered a barren earth sign because of the dry/hot Leo sign before it. It is good for killing pests and weeds.

Libra (7th house) rules the kidneys, skin, and lower back. It is an air sign for planting above ground crops (things without big roots)

Scorpio (8th house) rules the genitals and bladder. It is a water sign; prune for growth and plant seeds.

Sagittarius (9th house) rules the thighs, hips, glutials, sciatic and motor nerves. It is a fire sign good for tilling and cultivating. You can also plant some over-wintering foods such as garlic, onions, and greens.

Capricorn (10th house) rules the knees, joints, skeleton, and skin. An earth sign good for pruning for growth, planting seeds, bulbs, rhizomes, and greens.

Aquarius (11th house) rules the calves, ankles, blood, and circulation. An air sign for harvesting to store food, and weeding.

Pisces (12th house) rules the feet, lymph, synovial fluid, and glands. A water sign for sewing seeds, transplanting, grafting and fertilizing. Considered a very fertile sign.

So, I’m taking detailed notes as to what I’m planting when and will report back at the end of this gardening year to let you know how things went. If any of you out there are gardening by the signs, I’d love to hear your experiences.

Gardening 2009-5

Yesterday, The moon was in Cancer… a water sign, good for planting grafting and pruning. So, I went out and pruned the fruit trees that needed a little trim. And many of the trees that I planted last fall also needed to have their limbs weighed down. The limbs that are growing at too close of an angle to the main tree will not be strong enough to support a full load of fruit. So, the limbs are weighed down or pushed down to at least a 45 degree angle from the main trunk to encourage a stronger crotch angle/structure. I chose to weigh down the limbs since I have lots of twine and rocks; I don’t have any limb spreaders/spacers. So, for those limbs that were too close to the main trunk, I tied some twine to the limb and weighed it down with a rock. The sap is rising in the trees right now, so they are more pliable and hopefully, after a few weeks, I can remove the weights and the limbs will stay in their new positions.

I had also hoped to start more seedlings yesterday, but that didn’t happen. So, I starting them today. The moon is in Leo today, which is generally thought of as a very hot and dry fire sign, not good for doing anything but killing weeds and pruning, but, I’m hoping that if I plant the seedlings in the garden in a good fertile sign, that they will grow well. (According to my biodynamic planting book, today was still a good sign for planting fruiting things… must be because of other aspects of the stars and planets that I don’t understand). So, I made 4 more trays of soil blocks and started broccoli, kale, spring lettuces, greens mix, celery, and parsley.

The onions and leeks are doing great since I started watering them from below and added the peat. So, I think they will go out in the garden on Thursday… the moon will be in Virgo… an earth sign good for planting root crops.

Gardening 2009-4

The leeks and onions aren’t doing so well. They started off great, sprouting in 2 days, but since then they haven’t done much. It’s been 2 weeks since they were planted… they should be about ready to go in the ground! Only one seed has grown to ~2 inches. The rest still look like sprouts. i may have let the soil get too dry and maybe then too hard for the roots to penetrate. The soil looked dark and moist, but it felt hard. So, instead of spritzing them from the top, I poured a bunch (probably a quart or so) of water into the bottom and they soaked it up! I also decided to put a pinch of peat on the seeds to give them a little cover… the sprouts looked too exposed… We’ll see how they do.

Home

Things are chugging along here.

On the gardening front, the leeks and onions started sprouting after only 2 days! It’s exciting to see our little window greenhouse working so well!

On the baby front, I’m still VERY pregnant, and really starting to get tired of it. It’s wouldn’t be so hard if I wasn’t so sore. But the baby is so low that any movement is, well, SORE! Even sleeping is hard.

Unfortunately, Kaia has had a high fever for the last 3 days. She usually runs a 3 day/3 night course with her fevers, so hopefully she will be feeling back to her old self tomorrow, but still, we are all exhausted! Herbs and home remedies don’t work on her fevers. Motrin is the only thing that will ease her when she’s aching, and sometimes that doesn’t even work.

Hope to report back with healthy child and baby news soon!

gardening 2009-3

I seeded the onions and leeks today. According to my calendar, yesterday afternoon through Saturday the moon is in Virgo and it is a good time for planting/seeding/transplanting rooting crops. I have two different kinds of onions: Copra and Red Bull. For each kind I planted 5 seeds in each 2″ soil block. I will thin them to 4 seedlings and then plant the blocks 12 inches apart in 12 inch rows in the garden. Onions and leeks grow well in bunches like this and take up the same amount of room in the garden as if you had planted them in individual block, but take less seedling block space (so instead of having 160 soil blocks with one seedling each, I only have 40 seedling blocks with 4 seedlings each, and will produce the same amount of onions.) The leeks (King Sieg) will be planted 4 seeds per 2″ soil block and planted in the garden 8″ apart in 16″ rows.

LizzyLaneFarm asked about watering the soil blocks…. they are made extremely moist and hold water very well. They also have a high peat percentage so they don’t fall apart easily. I will put the seeds in the indentation and the book recommends not even covering them. I’ll simply mist them occasionally to keep them moist. This is my first year using the block maker and soil recipe, so we’ll see how it goes. My brother-in-law has used this recipe before and said he doesn’t have to water them much because they hold so much moisture.

Gardening 2009-2

We made some soil blocks today in preparation for seeding our onions and leeks.
I used the soil block recipe from Eliot Coleman’s The New Organic Grower book, and did decide to buy a 2″ soil block maker from The Peddler’s Wagon. We mixed up the soil in a large rubbermade tub. I will have more than enough seedling mix, but we’ll only use what we need as we go along.
seedlingsoil

Today, my friend Heidi helped me with the blocks (my energy is running low and I’m not moving around too well so it is really nice to have the help!). We mixed about 2 1/2 parts soil with one part water and then pressed the block maker in nice and snug.

soilblocks1

Then we pushed the blocks out into little trays that we made. These trays were used to carry the plugs that went into the roof. We lined one with plastic then put another one on top to hold the plastic in and keep the seedlings from sitting in the water. (Does that make sense?)

soilblock2

soilblock3

I’ll seed these with Onion and leek seeds on Wed. afternoon or Thursday, when the moon is in Virgo, an earth sign, and good for starting root crops.

For now, the blocks are in their ‘green house’ that Toby made for me. He made a long shelf to fit in our biggest window and I’ve wrapped it in plastic to keep moisture and warmth in. I think it will work well. We’ll have to move the dining table somewhere so that I can get to the seedlings… but for now, here it is:
seedlingwindow

Gardening 2009 – 1

I’m very excited to get back into gardening, but I’m also very nervous. I really want to make my time and efforts count and be able to grow as much as possible to feed my family. Still, I feel like there is so much that I don’t know. Everyone seems to have their own ideas of the right kind of soil mixture, the right way to fertilize (or not), the proper way to get rid of or live with pests, etc…. So, this year, I’ve decided to document all of my gardening endeavors on my blog. Then, I can take a good look and what worked and what didn’t. I am planning on using organic and bio-intensive methods, including gardening by the signs, crop rotation, and companion planting. I’ll be following The North American Biodynamic Sowing and Planting Calendar .

So far, I have my garden space planned out. We have built some raised beds and have about 270 sq.ft of gardening space. It’s not much, but we have lots more rocks to build more beds in the spring if possible. Moving all the rocks and dirt has become impossible for me in my third trimester, and Toby is already working his butt off. So, once the weather warms up and I’m feeling up to it, I will try to double our gardening space.

By late winter, I need to:
-finish filling the raised beds with composted dirt
-clean up the established herb and strawberry beds
-transplant the hops (’cause I’ll be using that space for onions and lettuce now… we are going to plant the hops in front of the cabin so it can grow up the building)
-transplant the passion flower (I’m going to move it to the grape area so it can use the trellises)
-prune the fruit trees
-place and fill the 8th raised bed box

Garden needs/things to make (that I can think of);
rain gauge (I had one, but it’s been beat up and trampled to death)
bird flash tape (I found that this worked really well when I used it in my last garden in 2005)
labels for the seedlings/plants
mini greenhouse for starting seedlings (I’m planning on using plastic bread trays to hold the soil blocks. They stack easily with some head space and I can put them in front of my south facing glass doors. Then I’ll cover them with plastic to keep the warmth and moisture in)
soil block maker (my brother-in-law has one he said I could borrow, but I imagine we will both be needed it at the same time and often through out the year. So, I may try to order one, or make one)
Ingredients for my seedling soil mix (following Eliot Coleman’s spoil block mix, I will need: peat, lime, bloodmeal, phosphate, greensand, I already have sand, garden soil and compost)
trellising (I plan to grow ‘up’ as much as possible. All the vines will be trellised)
limb spreaders (I will need to work on opening up the limbs on all the fruit trees we just planted so that the sun and air can reach as much of the tree as possible. These can be expensive if you need a bunch, so I may try making some… in my spare time! Ha!)
Metal rods for floating row cover (I have a large amount of floating row cover, but no rods to support it over the plants. I’d like to use the cover for season extension as well as pest control)
fertilizers/pest control (I have none of this stuff… whether it’s fish emulsion or organic pest controls (like ‘surround’ or diatomacious earth), all of it got lost/tossed/destroyed over the past 3 years of moving and building. I also don’t know what I’ll do about the fertilizers… all of the natural and organic stuff has a strong smell to it and Suki digs up anything I put it on. Last time I used a seaweed spray, she dug to china trying to find the fish under the soil)

So, I’ll get started on as much of this as I can in the next month or so… seedlings (onions and leeks) get started indoors here in mid. Feb (right when I’m due!), so I want to be sure everything is in place and ready to go.

Seeds have been ordered…

…and when I look at what I’m wanting to grow next year, even though I’ve planned out the whole garden, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. :-) I like having things organized and it’s been a few years since I’ve gardened (since we’ve been building). Now, I don’t remember all the stuff I knew… like starting seedlings, floating row covers, companion planting, cover cropping, rotating crops, pests, etc. Oy! At least the baby is due before I will need to start the seedlings.

I got my seeds and tubers from FEDCO and Seeds of Change

Sugarsnap Snap Pea
BEAN, POLE, BLACK SEEDED BLUE LAKE
BEAN, POLE, KENTUCKY WONDER
Prescott Fond Blanc Cantaloupe
Sweet Dakota Rose Watermelon
Arava Cantaloupe
Calypso Pickling Cucumber
General Lee Slicing Cucumber
Raven Zucchini
Tromboncino Summer Squash
Saffron Summer Squash
Paydon Heirloom Acorn Winter Squash ECO
Uncle Davids Dakota Dessert Winter Squash
Zeppelin Delicata Winter Squash
Squisito Winter Squash ECO
Jarrahdale Pumpkin
Rouge Vif detampes Pumpkin
Red Ace Beet
Chioggia Beet
BEET, LUTZ SALAD LEAF
King Sieg Leek
Copra Onion
Red Bull Onion
Space Spinach
SPINACH, AMERICA
New Zealand Spinach
Summer Lettuce Mix
Winter Lettuce Mix
Greens Mix
Bright Lights Chard
Forest Green Parsley
Windsor Broccoli
Fiesta Broccoli
Winterbor Kale
Golden Self-Blanching Celery
Pingtung Long Eggplant
Rosa Bianca Eggplant
Cosmonaut Volkov Tomato
Cherokee Purple Tomato
Rose de Berne Tomato
Pineapple Tomato
WOW! Tomato ECO
Peacevine Cherry Tomato (I’m going to plant the cherry tomatoes on the outside of the chicken coop so that some of the plant can droop into the coop and the chickens can enjoy some of the harvest :-)
Amish Paste Paste Tomato
Potatoes: Banana, Caribe, Sangre, All Blue, Elba, Red Cloud
ASPARAGUS, JERSEY GIANT
Bouquet Dill
Kablouna Calendula Mix
Resina Calendula
FENNEL, PERFECTION
CILANTRO, SLOW BOLT (SANTO CILANTRO)
There are lots more companion flowers and herbs that I want to get, but I may just buy those as seedlings later.

Growing seedlings without energy…

I’m starting to plan out my garden for next year and trying to figure out how to get seedlings grown. It seems like we will need to buy warming mats (to keep the temp. constant) and maybe even grow lights (since we are on the north side of a mountain and may not get enough daylight in Feb. and March). But, I don’t want to spend more money or use the energy to power this stuff. Once it gets warm enough outside, we can use our cold frame for starting the seedlings. But, to get the greens, broccoli, kale, and such started in early March, it will be too cold outside, even in the cold frame. What do you all do?

Week in Picture Review

Here’s all the lard after it was canned. Looks like creamy milk, doesn’t it! I’m really enjoying using it to cook up eggs, veggies, etc…

Kaia and I spent some time making some holiday soaps. This was a batch of Wintergreen/Sweet Orange soap, and she’s mixing in a little cinnamon powder ‘to make swirlies!’, while enjoying a piece of Halloween candy.

The next day, we cut it up into pieces and will let it sit 3 weeks before using it (so it cures and isn’t so caustic). The first batch made 20 pieces of soap (~3 oz each)

The second batch we doubled and ended up with another 44 bars! This one is Clarysage/Ylang Ylang with swirlies of cardamom.

We’ve been getting the garden beds ready. Made 8 raised bed frames with scrap wood. Hopefully that will be enough to get us started this spring. Toby tilled the soil and mixed in lots of leaves and some roof dirt (which will help break up the clay and add some compost). I need to add more compost, manure and soil and will plant some rye for the winter.

We gave Kaia a mini-sling to practice carrying doll babies… But she found a fuzzy, wiggly doll baby she likes better… Snuggle or torture? It depends on who you ask.

She’s also decided she wants to learn how to knit. So she plopped down in the rocker by the fire (an appropriate place for knitting, I think) and pretended for a while. We are going to start a kids knitting group with some other moms when we get back from Disney.

And, what post would be complete without snuggling kitties… Isabella, Daisy, and Chub Chub Max.

Crazy Lady!

You can call me that if you like!

This Sat. Toby helped me finish up a new little chicken hut that I’d started. It’s a 3’x4′ shed that sits at the edge of the fencing of their run. The back side opens so I can put their food and water in. That way, their food and water isn’t sitting out in the elements. It use to be in the coop, but kept getting pooped on when they roosted at night.

This Sunday Toby and I started on our Guest house. It will be a 12’x12′ room with a 6’x12′ loft… a cute little cottage for little retreats. (Our friend who is currently living in a tent will move in there once it’s done in exchange for some help with the land and when the little one is born.) And this one will be painted yellow!
Here’s the location… to the far right of the cabin and storage building, where Toby and Kaia are (can you see them?)-

Kaia helped sketch things out for us on her drawing board-

We built the foundation-

And just like the first time around, Kaia helped Toby put down the flooring-

On Monday, I got out and planted 6 fruit trees… 2 apples, 2 pears, 1 cherry and 1 plum. I wish I’d gotten a picture of me swinging the mattock :-) Don’t worry, I’m taking care not to over exert myself.

Yesterday, I went out to the last hoop jam of the season, and I dressed for the occasion. My hot pants got me asked out! I told him “thanks but I am happily married and expecting my second child”. He said “I don’t care” :-O




Today, I planted 5 more trees… 2 English Walnuts, 2 Persimmon, and one more apple! Wahoo!!! I can’t wait for harvest time!

This weekend, I get to take a wonderful break at the SE Women’s Herb Conference. It’s my ‘ME TIME’ of the year!

Finally, truly settling in

We had our house party (/birthday party/Equinox celebration) this past weekend. Finally! The house is complete, the yard is tamed, the trash is gone… Whew!! So, this past Saturday, we invited our friends and family, and anyone who helped on the house, to come over and see the finished product. I think there were over 70 people who stopped by and everyone loved it. It was so nice to show it off (and to hear everyone ohhh and ahhh :-) The last guests left a little before 1am and Toby, Kaia, and I crashed hard! The next day we spent laying around and trying to recuperate. Toby and I both noted that yesterday was the first time that we really felt like we could step back and enjoy the house. I think part of it is because having the yard cleaned up makes it feel more like home, and partly also because we have been working towards this party for months (project after project to finish up before the showed off the house). We sat by the fire pit last night drinking apple cider and eating apple pie with the neighbors and it was just so blissful!

So, my next project :-) is working on the garden space. I’m hoping to get a bunch of raised beds built before the winter, so they will be ready in spring for lots of veggies! I also have 17(!!!) fruit trees to plant. I got a Celeste Fig as a house warming gift and we planted that on the south side of the house. We are zone 6b, so we wanted to protect it from the cold winter winds. I also have (either waiting to get planted, or on its way here) A HardiRed Nectarine, Sweetheart Apricot, Wilson Delicious Apricot, UltraMac Apple, Pink Lady Apple, Arkansas Black Apple, Grimes Golden Apple, Honey Crisp Apple, BlackGold Cherry, Santa Rosa Plum, Methley Plum, Maxine Pear, Moonglow Pear, Lake English Walnut, Champion English Walnut, Prok Persimmon, and a Yates Persimmon!!!! (Most of these are from Stark Brothers) I ordered dwarf varieties when they were available, but the persimmons and walnuts will get 30+ feet tall, so I need to do some good planning to be sure that they don’t block the garden sun when they are fully grown. I also have a ginkgo that I have babied along in a little pot for over 7 years that I can finally put in the ground. But, Ginkgo trees have been known to get up to 80 feet, so I really need to figure out a good space for this one!!

I also hope to put in some grapes, blackberries, raspberries (and many other berries), passion fruit, hardi kiwi, rose (rugosa… for the rose hips), chestnut, and what ever else will fit!! I can’t wait!!! Now, will someone please come dig some holes in this dang red clay for me! :-)

Berries galore!

I was happily surprised that our little berry patch is doing well this year. After the chickens scratching all around and kicking up so many roots, I didn’t think it would survive. But last week, I saw some red coming from the weed surrounded strawberries and found ~1 1/2 quarts of ripe, red strawberries! I’ve since picked another quart or so.

I wanted to get lots more strawberries so we could freeze a bunch. So, Kaia and I went out for Flying Cloud Farm for a little berry picking yesterday, and got ~2 gallons! MMMMmmmmm!! Their berry patch is huge! The strawberries plants are all so big and healthy, and everything is organic!! (I need to give my berry patch a little time and attention so I can try to get them to grow as big as the ones at the farm!) the patch is surrounded by flowers that you can pick a bouquet of for just a couple of bucks! So, Kaia and I had a really nice afternoon!

Last night we has a pasta dish with a salad topped with strawberries and a strawberry vinaigrette for dinner, and for dessert – strawberries dipped in home made whipped cream.

How’s this for a yummy treat??

Now that we are living in the house, and the projects have slowed down (a little), I feel like Toby and I are taking on roles parents that we haven’t been able to yet. We are playing family games at night, taking outings without having to hurry back home to get some building time in, we are sitting down to healthy, home made meals. It’s been very, very nice!! Though there is still the stress of completing the home projects and paying off the bills, it has lessened.

Mark your calendars

Would everyone please mark you calendars to email me next year to make sure I get my butt into the woods the first week in May.  The woods are bustin’ out!!

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Kaia and I went to the annual WNC Herb Festival  today and shopped for 4 hours!  I gave her 25 one-dollar bill in a little purse so that she could buy the herbs she wanted in her garden and keep track of her money.  She did a great job, and so many of the vendors thought that she was so cute with her little purse, that they cave her stuff for free.  For her garden she got: Sweet Annie, Lavender, Wood Betony, Dill, Fennel, a roma tomato, a bottle gourd, and sweet grass.  For my garden, I got:  Stevia, Wood Betony, Two Tomatoes, basil, Feverfew, Rue, Marigolds, Blue Vervain, Motherwort, … I think that is it…  Oh, I also got a hops vine… but that will go in near the house once it is done.
Sunday I leave for a week of studying with Rosita Arvigo so I can learn (professional) Maya Abdominal Massage.  It won’t be in belize, unfortunately.  It’s in NH, but that will give me a chance to see relatives that I haven’t seen in many years!

this weeks progress

Here is what was accomplished this past Tuesday on the house! It feels like what I imagine standing in the middle of stonehenge to be like when you are in the house :-)

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And here is a beautiful dogwood flower! It is supposed to be 17 degrees this sat. night, so I hope they all make it through! My strawberries are covered with flowers, so I’ve covered all of my garden beds with floating row cover.

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“Eat Shit and Die”

I heard a statement in the news the other day that makes me want to scream!! Generation Y, the young kids today (which includes my baby) are predicted to be the first generation to die before their parents! You know why? Because of all the shit we feed them! Kids under 20 are already starting to have problems with obesity, diabetes, cholesterol, and other illnesses that we aren’t supposed to see until old age (if we see them at all). So here’s what I know… in the 1920’s people were eating fresh, whole foods; foods that were produced by the farmer next door. In the 1940’s all the men went to war, all the women went to work in the factories for the war. New chemicals were developed in these factories… chemicals that include pesticides and preservatives. It was an effort to produce more food and make it last longer. A good thought… unfortunately, they couldn’t have predicted the repercussions! In the past 3 generations, we have seen the invention of processed foods, preservatives, pesticides, herbicides, chemical hormones, food colorings and other additives. Not to mention the invention of the TV that we veg out in front of to eat these processed chemical foods! In the past 3 generations, we have also seen an increase of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, reproductive issues, and inflammatory diseases. I wholeheartedly believe that it is directly related to what we are eating. As a society we are over fed but under nourished! No, I cannot sit here and tell you that I cook every meal from my garden, or that I don’t get that box of Mac and Cheese on occasion. But, as of this moment, I am making it my duty to be damn sure that my daughter doesn’t die before I do because of what I fed her! I challenge all the parents out there to do the same! Let’s start eating more whole foods, unprocessed foods, foods that haven’t been chemically altered! Let’s start buying foods locally, that aren’t adulterated with preservatives, or hormones. I know it takes more effort to eat this way. Believe me… I know! I guilt myself every time I pour my daughter that bowl of processed, high sugar cereal. But, what could be more worth the effort of healthy, whole food eating than the life of your children?? If you need a good place to start, I would recommend Sally Fallon’s book “Nourishing Traditions”, or any other whole foods cook book (any other recommendations?)

Exciting news!

I just went out to look at my shitake logs to see if they are getting too dry, and found 3 mushrooms growing! And the logs all look like the are about to bust open with more!! yay!! My first ‘shrooms! Now I need a good recipe. I can’t let them go to waste! Maybe the rain we get this weekend will help bring on more! (Let’s see how many more exclamation points I can use in this post!?!!)

Lavender Festival

Today we headed out to the local lavender farm, Sunshine Lavender Farm, for it’s annual lavender festival!! (Every town should have one!!) There were foods made with lavender, lavender wand making, pick-your-own lavender, even artists there drawing the scenery. And, it smelled so good!! Here are a few shots of the day:



Check out this white one!!

I think I heard her say they had ~3000 lavender plants!! That is my idea of heaven :-)

Beekeeping, garden making and land searching

OK, there are going to be lots of pictures in this one!

First, the bees. They are doing well. Though one hive still has a moderately high mite count, both hives are growing rapidly!! The queens are laying really well and the population is just exploding, which is great! They are bringing in lots of nectar and pollen, too. So, you would think that they would stop drinking the sugar syrup and just fill up on the food they are bringing in. But, they are scarfing it down, which makes me think they need it (or maybe what’s in the syrup). To help decrease the mite population we are adding HoneyBHealthy to their sugar syrup, as well as 15 drops of Bergamot Essential Oil/quart of syrup (some friends of ours totally got rid of their mites using bergamot!) We are still doing weekly mite counts to make sure the level doesn’t go up. So, here are a bunch of great pictures (well, some aren’t so great, but I had to post them!)

This one show a great capped brood pattern in the middle with lots of white capped honey on the edge.

Here’s a great one of pollen and capped brood.

Here is a queen. It’s fuzzy, but she is the long bee in the middle.

This is a pic. of brood (baby bees) being capped over.

And this one I was so upset that it didn’t turn out!! We were witness to a bee birth :-) This baby bee is just about to come out of the comb. Here is his little fuzzy head!

And one of our girls hard at work.

Now, on to K’s garden! We put in our new/used sink this weekend and put the old one in the garden for K. This morning, K and I filled it with pineapple sage, chocolate peppermint, purple basil, hyssop, chamomile, zinnea, lambs ear, calendula, and a tomato. I tried to put things in there that she could smell, taste, and feel. But, it’s a little crowded. So, I may move the hyssop to my herb garden :-) She really likes it! And everything is very well watered!

Here’s one of the garden.

And my little helper.

And my little helper practicing her best sad face.

So, as far as land search… well, we have been a bit disheartened. To be able to have the sustainable homestead that we would like, we are really hoping for more land than we will be able to afford in our current area. Land prices around here (and back in Asheville) are so inflated that we can barely afford an acre! We did, however, just find out about the possibility of buying some land from a family member. This would be great! My biggest worry though, is that we would be surrounded by many people who have very different beliefs than us. Plus, one of my herby friends and I have just started to talk about opening up an herb school here. If we moved, I couldn’t do that. (Well, it’s not that I couldn’t, but I don’t think there would be the desire for an herb school where the family land is.) I wish there were some overwhelming factor to push us somewhere. It would make this decision so much easier… do we spend more and have a higher mortgage, or by less, have a smaller mortgage and less land to work, do we spend more and buy less land to be near a town we love, or spend less and buy more land, but be near a town that doesn’t have such a supportive community for alternative living? I don’t know! Anyone out there got an answer??