Every time you feel in God's creatures something pleasing and attractive, do not let your attention be arrested by them alone, but, passing them by, transfer your thought to God and say: "O my God, if Thy creations are so full of beauty, delight and joy, how infinitely more full of beauty, delight and joy art Thou Thyself, Creator of all!
- Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain

You can’t get to joy by making everything perfect. You can only get there by seeing in every imperfection all that’s joy.
-Ann Voscamp

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My uncle collects Farmall tractors. These are some of them.

Inside one of them was this little surprise.

Mama Robin has been hard at work!

Here is the cool "thingy" that attracts the flies before the apples form, keeping them from laying their (eggs?) in them. It's a red plastic ball that gets smeared with some VERY sticky stuff. My uncle scrapes it off when it's full of flies and adds more sticky stuff. I'm not good at remembering the names of things, so I don't recall what the sticky stuff is called. It comes in a can that looks like PVC cement, and has a brush attached to the lid to apply it with, just like PVC cement. But it's not. It's something else. Sticky something that works! Uncle said that two years ago he was embarrassed to even give the apples away, they were so full of brown spots. Last year, when he started hanging these sticky balls up in the trees, he had beautiful apples. Very few of them were damaged. I'm definitely keeping this in mind for the future!

And last, the tree that grows Dr. Pepper! I took this picture, and went to find my uncle to see what the cans were all about. I thought he was going to say there was something in the cans that either repelled or attracted something. Nope. He just wanted to say he had a tree that grew Dr. Pepper! He was also wearing a Dr. Pepper hat and T-shirt. I think he likes Dr. Pepper!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My Uncles Garden

As I've mentioned, we had a wonderful visit with my aunt and uncle this past weekend. I loved seeing his garden. It is so far ahead of anything I'm growing! He said they put lime in the garden this year and it's made a big difference. I guess so, but any time I've seen his gardens they've been beautiful.

The potatoes are very bushy! They're eating some of them already!

The broccoli is forming heads!
The peas have a lot of flowers.

This is a coffee plant. My uncle has three of them. He's kept them indoors in front of the picture window for 2 winters, remembering to mist them with water often. My sister also has coffee plants that are about the same age. Hers are about a foot tall as compared with his three or four foot plants. He really has a green thumb. I hope it rubs off on me!! Any way, these plants are supposed to grow coffee beans in the next year. He plans to roast them. Yummy!

These are his replacement chickens. I got my new laying hens from him when he decided to start over. They're Rhode Island Reds. He likes them a lot as an all purpose bird. His family eats them once in a while and likes the meat, and they lay really well.
I've got a few more fun pics from this visit to share, but for now I'm done. The uploading is just too slow. You can look forward to a great tip on keeping your apples healthy as they grow, corn that's HIP high by the Fourth of July and a tree that grows something very unique.
Today I worked quite a bit in my gardens. I got a few tomato plants that the Hovland Garden Club was "giving away" if you made a donation. No one was taking them and they were looking a bit worse for the wear. I had a pumpkin plant that was in sorry shape. It was obvious that it would never grow a pumpkin, so I took it out of the garden by the house and put in one of the tomato plants. We also just finished another 4 square feet of our other garden, so I put two more there. I thinned out all the carrots and beets and filled in the bare spots in the garden with radishes and turnips. Lastly, I planted two small rows of spinach of two different varieties. I plan to shade them from the sun and see if I can get some more spinach before fall. Oh, and I weeded, of course! I really have to get out there with my little hand cultivator and go after the edges again. The grass is doing it's best to take over! The little girls took all the thinned out carrots and had a tea party with them. I didn't know that baby carrots were meant to go with tea, but you learn something every day! :) We ate the baby beets, tops and all, steamed for supper. The leaves were tender, but the little "beatlings" were...well, a combination of chewy and crisp that squeaked in the teeth. Not the best, but they didn't go to waste.
We're having fun, the girls and I, spending some time together without the big kids. I miss them, though! It's awful having to find so many things that are lost around the house without Molly. That girl somehow knows where everything is! If I need it all I have to do is ask her. Without her I'm a little lost myself! And without Sam, there's just no music! It will be nice to have him around filling my life with sound again. There hasn't been any drumming going on in two days. I sure never thought I could miss that!! :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Fun Things to Come

Hey all! We're back from dropping our 10 and 12 year old at camp (sniff, sniff ). :( That was actually pretty hard to do! I'm sure harder because we home school and they're with me most of the time. I'm sure they'll have so much fun they'll come home and be bored for the rest of the summer. It sure looked like a fun place to me!
Last night, after dropping them off, we stayed at my aunt and uncles house. I've got some lovely garden pics and other fun stuff to show and tell. It will have to wait until tomorrow, though. See you then, and it will be SO worth it! I've got a "real" garden to show you! It makes mine look like...well...a joke, seriously! A serious joke! :D
The deer seem to think so too. While the gardener's away the deer will play? They uprooted more beets, walked through the carrots for the third time, and ate what was left of the spinach.
BUT, it's one step at a time, right? I'm on a learning curve here, and the only place to go is up!? One small step at a time and all that? Tomorrow, then!
P.S. Do you think if I put dog or people hair in the garden it would help? I've heard that it might work, but has anyone tried it? Would you share the results with me? I'm thinking about tying a few plastic bags out there for now. Any other ideas short of fencing? THANKS!!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Some Fun Pictures

I've really been enjoying having a camera again, and the girls have been helping me find good things to take pictures of. They come running to tell me there's a humming bird at the feeder when they see one, but I think it would be a miracle to get a picture of one. The flowers are easier, they stay still! Have a great day!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Happy Little Peas and Onions, and VERY Unhappy Tomato Plants

Green is said to be a very relaxing color. I'm sure this is true. When I was a new mom and had trouble letting my milk down, I would look at my houseplants (it was April). It really worked! I could relax and let it flow. It's still very relaxing for me to look out the window, or be outside near the garden. I especially love looking at the peas and onions this time of year. The green is so brilliant and beautiful.
That said, I'm not enjoying looking at my tomato plants. Especially the cherry tomato. It has issues, and I don't know how to help. Is it just too cold here? It's potted and placed on the sunniest side of the house. It's still tiny and looks sick. When I potted it after picking it up at the nursery I watered it with a diluted manure tea that I picked up at the local dairy. That was about 2 weeks ago. I hoped it would help it thrive, but...
I never have had success in getting any tomatoes to ripen here. I did see Mama Pea's set up. Wow! What sweet looking plants those are! I guess I'll have to do some serious work if I want tomatoes like hers!?! Beautiful, Mama Pea! If you want to diagnose my sick tomato plants, please see the photos following. Mama Pea...Erin...? THANK YOU! ;)

Happy looking peas.

Happy onions. What do you think, Erin? Are they OK?

small and sickly cherry tomato plant

healthier top growth

Sickly looking bottom growth that seems to be spreading toward the top of the plant. The Early Girl planted next to it seems to be slightly affected by whatever it is too. The leaves turn a very dark, spotty green and then the edges begin to dry up. It is well watered, though, so I don't know. That's about all I know about gardening at this point. Weed, water, fertilize...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Eating the "Fruit" of our Labor

Gardening is something I didn't think I would like much. I know, that's probably surprising to some of you and sacrilege to others, but it's true all the same. Now, I can't imagine NOT gardening. It just feels "right" somehow. For one thing, it's very healthy. Your body benefits from it in so many ways. Good exercise and fresh air when you work in the garden, and good healthy, safe, nutrient packed food to eat - what could be better? Of course, I'm enjoying such a nice cool, bug free summer that it's easy for me to say I like it now. I guess we'll see what I think when the black flies are out full force some day?

It's especially fun right now, since we're eating some of the good stuff we've been working with all this time. It does require patience, however, and that's one thing I don't posses in great quantities. For instance, after planting seeds that say "10 days to germination" I am out there the next day and about 5 times a day after that willing the little seeds to grow. I'm almost ready to give up on them after 8 days, and actually mildly surprised to see the first tiny leaves peek out on the 10th or 12th day. How funny is that? I will say that because of this impatience, it is the most carefully tended and well watered patch of earth around - at least until the little ones show themselves! :)

Sweet basil ready for the spaghetti sauce for supper last night.

Spinach and beet greens ready for steaming (to be eaten with salt and butter). This will probably be about the last of the spinach, since it's beginning to bolt. Hopefully this fall I'll plant it again.

Kids Washing the Car

Why not? I couldn't think of anything else to write about, so...

I've got such a fun bunch of kids! Sometimes I love them so much I think my heart might burst!! Especially when they're washing my car! (just kidding) :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chickens: Mixing Flocks is Not the Best Idea

This is a picture of one of our new hens. We got 8 new hens from my aunt and uncle when we went to visit my family. Yes, I did also say we'd gotten bunnies at the same time. Dan said all we needed to be traveling in true hillbilly style were some pots and pans hanging on the outside of the camper.

Picture this: We had our pickup pulling our 31 year old camper. In the back of the truck were 8 chickens in a dog kennel. Inside the camper were some bags of feed, and 4 bunnies also in a dog kennel. Piled around said chickens were lawn chairs, bicycles, and lots of other odd things I can't remember. It was rather laughable, really. Too bad I didn't have a camera at the time, but I'll leave the image up to your imaginations instead.

Any way, we brought the chickens (Road Island Reds) home and added them to our dwindling flock. We were down to 4 hens after the last stalk and snatch by the neighbors dog. Now, we have a major fence that should prevent any sneak attacks. We promptly went from getting 4 neatly laid eggs every day to 0 - 2. The chickens were busy sorting out their pecking order. They cared nothing for laying eggs for about 2 weeks after that. Soon the new hens began to lay in all the oddest places, so we are egg hunting all over the coop. Did you know a hen could squeeze into a 6 to 8 inch space, make a cozy little nest there, and lay eggs? We've found that they can. We've also had some egg eating or eggs being laid from perches and broken. Not sure yet which is going on. We haven't seen any actual eating of eggs yet. That would be a first for us, and I definitely would have to do some research to find a solution for it. I think it may have stopped, so we'll see.

If you're really squeamish, you may not want to read this paragraph. The oddest thing that's happened with this whole thing is the chicken (one of the new ones) who's middle toe on each foot seems to be "rotting" off. It was bleeding from those toes when we got it. By the time we were home with them it seemed to have stopped. After a few days, though, we found that the claws were gone and the toes were turning black. We started to "doctor" (very inadequate doctoring) her with a poultice made of tea tree oil and activated charcoal. This would harden over the toe, stay on, and protect it. It would also draw out any infection (or so I hoped). It seemed like it was working. None of this seemed to bother the hen at all, by the way. She was happy as a clam. Eating and moving about normally. The other chickens seemed to be leaving her feet alone and treating her completely normally. BUT, a few days later, her toes were bleeding again, and the other chickens were pecking at them. We decided to let her free range outside the pen and see what happened. It's been 2 days, and she's definitely on the mend! Provided nothing eats her, I think she'll be fine, though basically a 3 toed chicken. I think what happened was that the blackened ends actually fell off! It doesn't seem to trouble her at all. So, what was all that about? Was she injured somehow on the same toe of each foot? I sure don't know...

Here's the flock now fairly happily adjusted, after about 3 weeks of battling it out. So, I think I've learned something. It would be better to start over, and get all new chickens than to mix flocks. We've mixed flocks about 3 times in the last year, all meaning more work for us and more stress on the hens. Next time, we'll stew them all and do a good house cleaning before beginning again!

OK - I'm off to stake up the peas! :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


On our trip to visit my family and help my grandparents put in their garden, we picked up 4 Californian bunnies. We got 2 bucks and 2 does, and plan to begin breeding them in November. They're almost 3 months old now, and cute as can be. They're probably about half the size they'll be at maturity now - about 5 lbs. We've almost finished setting up the rabbit barn the way we want it, and it feels so good to have that accomplished. The kids have named them all; Ruby, Marshmallow, Rudy and Munchie. They're fun pets, but that's not entirely the point. We hope by late winter to be eating some delicious, organic, natural, humanely raised, disease free rabbit! Here are the lucky breeding stock in all their wiggly nosed cuteness!

The Girls

The Boys

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Feeling Thankful and Full of Wonder!

I'm so excited to be back online (with photos!!!) that it's hard for me to decide what to share first. It seems that so much has taken place since my last post. Summer is in full swing, and the gardens are growing. I look so forward to visiting the gardens every morning and seeing the little changes day by day...except on the mornings I discover little visitors have been wreaking havoc during the night. Thankfully there hasn't been too much damage yet, but I think I'm going to have to come up with something to keep them OUT! Here are a few garden pictures...

This is evidence of the deer who visited last night. Notice the ailing carrots. If there are still any left by fall, it doesn't seem like they'll be very big. Hopefully they'll start growing faster! The spinach has been growing nicely. I've picked it twice, and it was delish: However, this morning there were some extra leaves nibbled off, and some plants were pulled up...pesky deer.

The beets, also molested but holding up better than the carrots.

Heirloom squash: a gift from a dear friend!

Snow Peas

Yellow Onions

Sugar Snap Peas

God's plan is so amazing...all this in a little seed! I'm so overwhelmed with thankfulness and wonder this time of year!

I'm also very thankful for this new camera! It was hard to wait for it, but I'm so glad I did. I'll be back soon. Until then, may God's righ blessings be evident and may you be full of wonder!