Tuesday, July 28

Today is an outdoor day. Roy has today off of work, the weather is beautiful and we have a ton of things to do. The garden shed needs finishing, the lawn mower need to be fixed, and there is a ton of weeding and trimming to be done. Also, I discovered yesterday that we are having aproblem with our potatoes in the garden. One plant is fine, the next plant is dead. Repeat this all the way down the row.

I pulled up the dead plant. Ants. Tons of little red ants.

Like I said. Lots to do today.

Wednesday, July 22

A Quote I Like

"If it isn't everything you want for the future, let it be enough for tonight.
Living the way you want has nothing to do with how much land you have or how much you can afford to spend on a new house.
It has to do with the way you choose to live every day and how content you are with what you have."
~ Jenna Woginrich

Sunday, July 19

My Castle Awaits

As I sit here feeding Connor his 3pm bottle of Enfamil, I can happily hear the sounds of the circular saw and the drill coming from the side yard. For that is where my loving husband is so lovingly repairing my lovely garden shed.
We got it second hand so it needed some repairs and some of the wood was rotten but it is almost done.

I can already see the neatly organized shelves of twine, stakes, and mason jars full of cable ties and little plastic white plant labels. My row of tools lined up by size - shovel, hoe, and my favorie, the sod ripper.

I am going to paint it a nice shade of "every barn should be this color" red, with white trim. It will have a little porch overhang in the front made from pine and cedar logs that we have on the property. (Roy doesn't know about this part yet so lets not put the cart before the person who is good with the circular saw).

Friday, July 17

Oh, how perfect for today....

"Restraint offers a space between intention and action and the opportunity to protect others from actions or reactions that should exist only in your imagination."
Stephanie Dowrick

Wednesday, July 15

Crossing over to the dark side.... or "light" side as the case may be

There has been much speculation lately around the house concering the possible installation of solar panels in our side yard. I have been a big "no, no, no" on this since we moved here for the fact that I think it would look horrendous.
If we could put them on the barn roof, it would be perfect. However, according to Roy, the barn roof (which is south-facing) does not get enough sun during the course of the day(?). Anyway, Roy has been pushing this idea for a while and I have slowly come around to actually thinking about allowing them in my yard.
I am all for self-reliance and sustainability and in getting into homesteading I have been reading alot about generating at least some of your own power. So I guess it is not a total shock that I changed my mind and finally said "ok" to the solar panels. Although this does mean that I will be digging a trench from the panels to the house which is about 100 feet and will be done by hand because I will not let a backhoe in the yard (ruts in my grass!).
So in my quest to be self-reliant, we have taken the step to produce just about half of our own power for the whole house (between 30 - 40%). I have crossed over to the dark side. My yard will now be home to a 9' wide by 3' tall solar panel. I swore I would walk that thin line between having a really nice yard and having all the things I want to be self-reliant. So even though I have crossed over, hey, I still love my yard!

Tuesday, July 14

Fat Birds and Muscular Ants

I have a nice little bird house by the cats run outside. I don;t know what kind of bird is neating there at the moment but I think he got stuck. I noticed the other day that the paint had been scratched off the front of the house by the entrance/exit hole. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that it was actually chewed or clawed away. Like something was trying to get into the house to eat the baby birds. Because the thought of something trying to eat babies is a little unsettling to me, I have decided to believe the other option. I have a fat bird who got stuck and his bird friends had to come and peck away at the wood until he was able to get free.

I am also having an interesting dilemma with my outdoor ant poison stakes. Anyone who knows me knows that one of the things I hate the most, besides japanese beetles, is ants in my house. I just can not stand the thought of it. So, while I am very conscious of chemicals and poisons and hardly ever use them for weed or pest control, the beetles and the ants are the two exceptions. I have strategically placed these little dark green disks with the stake on the botton around the house by the doors and front porch. I have also placed them in certain key areas of the flower garden where I have noticed ants in great number.

The problem that I am having is that they move. All by themselves it seems, in the dark of night. I have been finding them all over the yard. My imagination being a lot my creative now that I have a baby in the house and the whole day to ponder such things suggests that an army of pissed off ants has decided to teach me a lesson and steal my poison traps. I have found them on the rock wall on the far side of the barn, in the middle of the yard on the way to the veggie garden, and wedged in between landscaping rocks in the shade garden.

The War of the Roses. And Lilys. And Chipmunks.

First attack: The japanese beatle. I HATE them with a passion. They eat everything. Roy's grapes, the hollyhocks and the cherry tree we planted for Connor. And my roses especially. Thoese nasty little gleamy black bugs that look for creepy and mean. I HATE them! I have the traps - 4 of them around the yard looking like ugly wind-socks. They work but the smell of those baits is pretty strong when you catch the scent on the breeze. Last summer when I was 3 months pregnant, I couldn;t even go out in the yard for a while without the smell overpowering me to the point of throwing up.

Second attack: Deer. Oh, but they are so pretty and gentle and graceful. Yeah, until they start eating your lily's and garden plants. I have the little monsters chowing down on everything from tiger lilys to hollyhocks to tomato plants.

Third Wave: Chipmunks. I have talked about these devils before. Yes, they are cute too but not when you go out in the yard and see that they have dug up half the garden to make entrance and exit holes for their miles of underground tunnels. My yard must provide the kind of living environment they prefer - access to bird feeders, compost, and the occasional wayward peanut. I know it is hard to tell from the picture below, but the little mosters have managed to pile a ton of dirt onto my thrift plant in the effort to clear the hold right next to the thrist plant that I filled back in the other day. Now I am going to try a big rock.

Sunday, July 12

What is going on here....

This morning I saw a story on Sunday Morning about fighting over clothes lines. And now I don;t know what to say because the whole concept that there IS fighting over clothes lines is unbelievable to me.
I grew up having a clothes line. Everyone I know had one. All our relatives, our neighbors, just everyone. I love having one. Not only is it a cheap way to dry clothes, it is good for the environment, saves money and it is absolutely one of the most relaxing activities around. I look forward to doing laundry in the summer just so I can go outside for 15 minutes or so and have peace and quiet. I am out in the sun with warm grass under my feet. It is wonderful.
So, it never really occured to me that there are places where you can't have a clothes line. Who wouldn't want one? Mostly I thought it was rich people who send their laundry out or people who just didn;t care about anyone but themselves and thier own conveniences. Not that I am one of those total hippie people or anything but there is something to be said for thinking about what kind of planet my son will inherit.
This story shows two really strange people. The lady with the clothes line and the lady who was against it. The lady who had one was a kind-of hippie and I really think she was just trying to save money on her electric bill. I also got the impression that she was kind of out to make a statement. Like, my clothes line, and many others I have seen in yards have been well used, well placed and look permanent and traditional. Her's was strung up between some pine trees and it didn;t look like it was getting much sun.
The other, much stranger person, was the lady who was opposed to the hanging of clothes. I call her the calvin klien lady. She has this necklace on the the "CC" which I think is meant to stand for CoCo Chanel or something but I just automatically think Calvin Klein. But anyway, she was a typical rich old lady with the designer everything and those huge sunglasses. She seems to want to give the impression that she is very affluent. This story was filmed in Oregon by the way, so you kind of don;t expect someone like her to be slumming it in the wilderness and pine trees.
The whoe argument was over the fact that some neighborhoods do not allow clothes lines and some people want to have them anyway because of energy and money savings. Let me just say right now that I am totally for clothes lines. I don;t care where you live, it is one of the best ways to save money and energy.
But the fact that there is this argument going on at all is rediculous. There shouldn;t have to be websites like Project Laundry List and LineDry.com, which are interesting and great but they shouldn;t have to even exist. It just seems like it should be common sense to use a clothes line. Again, I say, who doesn;t have one and who wouldn;t want one?

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Saturday, July 11

Packed up the kid and went to the farmers market this morning. We went to Fairport today since it was close to the vacuum cleaner reapir store. (Needed a new brush roller part and figured it was better to buy the part then to throw away the whole vacuum cleaner). Got a lot of good stuff, pictured above. Got potatoes too but I already had put them away.

Also went to Pittford Dairy for milk and Leo's Bakery for bread and pizzas.

Everything in the photo above was grown and purchased locally. I should note that the blueberries are already gone.

Tuesday, July 7

Cheeky Chippy

As I am headed up the driveway towards the back door, pushing a baby stroller, I hear a noise. It is coming from the bird feeders and I think, "oh, a bird was feeding and took off when he heard me coming along." I felt a little bad that I scared him away from his meal but then I noticed that it was not a bird at all. It was one of the million chipmunks that have invaded my yard, and my bird food supply.

I have noticed that the chipmunk population has exploded and the last two summers, I have had a huge influx of the little brown guys. They used to be cute and it was fun to see them around the yard, occasionally. But now they have taken over. They are eating the roots of plants in the shade garden, making holes in the rose garden and all over the yard, and they get the majority of the birdfood before the bird even have a chance.

The thing that finally made me realize that they were no longer a cute occasional little "happening" was that my three cats lost interest. I would say "Look Prince, a chippy!" And set him on the window ledge so he could sit in pounce-mode, tail swishing back and forth, until the chippy ran. He would then go flying through the house from window to window trying to follow the chippy across the yard. Well, that was then. Now, when I say "Look Prince, a chippy!", he looks at me with the "yeah, ok, another chippy. Big deal" look on his face.

So this little chippy had gotten himself inside the feeder and had his little chippy butt pressed up gainst one side of the glass and was frantically digging through the bird food "filler" to get to the sunflower seeds. I walked right up to the feeder and tapped on the glass. He stopped and looked at me and I swore he said "Yes? Can I help you?". He was not scared, he did not try to run - I could have petted him if he was not inside the feeder.
This is my fault, of course. I insist on feeding the birds. I think chippys are cute and I don;t do anything to stop them from breeding like crazy and living in my garden (I don;t have the heart to kill them and trapping them would take years).
An enabler in most definitions is a person who through his or her actions allows someone else to achieve something. Just call me the chipmunk enabler.

Monday, July 6

12.25.2008 - Old but Important for good vision

LEDLights for Christmas: Warning - Do Not Look Directly at the Christmas Tree.

My husband deceided that he wanted LED lights for the Christmas tree this year. They were offering a trade in at Home Depot where for every string of regular Christmas lights brought in the recycle, you got $3 off a box of new LED lights. We already had some LED Christmas lights that look like little snowflakes for the outside of the house and I thought they looked "bright" - like the light was different and it was hard to look at even though they were not acually that bright on the front porch.

I set up the tree and put the new blue and white lights on. Before I put the orniments on, I decided to turn the lights on to make sure it looked ok and to arrange them. I was blinded. I could not see anything for about 15 seconds. It is a different kind of light and it hurt my eyes. Apparently when they are outside, they just look like different lights, they take a little getting used to, but then they are pretty. Inside is a different story. DO NOT USE LED CHRISTMAS LIGHTS IN A CONFINED SPACE.

I had spent so much time putting them up that I left them there, partly to prove to my husband that this idea was not necessarily the best one he has had. So, we had a very blinding Christmas tree this year. From the outside looking in the window, it looked like there was a blue and white space ship landing in our dining room.

Next year, these LED lights will go on the outside bushes and I sure they will look very nice. However, I am sticking with the regular lights for the inside Christmas tree. I want our kids first Christmas, next year, to be memorable. Not blinding. I think this is a thumbs up since it does save energy and the light do not get hot to the touch. Just use with caution.

Thursday, July 2

Houston, we have compost!

I have been thinking about starting a compost area for a while now but I did not want a big pile of dead, decaying stuff in my yard with flies buzzing all over the place. If I threw everything I could on the pile, it would be about 8 feet high. (I do alot of weeding, mowing and trimming).
So, I wanted something small that would mostly be for food scraps and other things but not for every branch I trimmed from the birch tree. I really hate when I throw scraps and organics in the trash, like I am wasting something. And in our efforts to be more sustainable, I went out into the yard the other day, sod ripper in hand, and made a compost area.
It is NOTHING fancy, but I think it will work.

Wednesday, July 1

Fireflies vs. Fireworks

A few nights ago, Roy and I went out to the field with Snowy for her nightly business. We could hear the gigantic "boom" fireworks from the Fireman's Carnival going off a few miles away and we could see the glow of the explosions over the tops of the pine trees behind our house.
But the better show was all of the fireflies that were circling and diving around the side yard and field area. They were so pretty and quiet and surprisingly non-polluting in that their little lights don't shoot cloulds of dark smoke into the air. At least not that I know of.
Just one more example of how much better I think my life is now. I would rather spend time with my husband and my puppy in our field watching fireflies than overload my senses with gunpowder.