Wednesday, August 31

Book Score!

Borders is having a big going-out-of-business sale and although I am sad to see any book store go, Roy and I did get some great deals the other day.

Taking advantage of Grandparents offering to watch the little man, we went, knowing that if we had him with us we would only be able to look for about 7 minutes.

Everything was 60% off or more so I spent a little more than I should have from the budget but that's ok, I will just cut back on eating this week.

My scores included:

The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy 1943-1944 by Rick Atkinson(great reference book from the time and place my Grandfather was in the War)

Made From Scratch by Jenna Woginrich (OK, I already have this one in hard cover but I just could NOT pass it up. It is one of my all-time favorites)

A Company of Heroes: Personal Memories About the Real Band of Brothers by Marcus Brotherton (I enjoy all things WWII and Band of Brothers related)

Up Tunket Road by Philip Ackerman-Leist (was on my to-read list and I got it for $6)

Slow Death By Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things by Rick Smith (I will save this for a rainy day when I want to get paranoid about something)

The Ultimate Guide to Homesteading by Nicole Faires (I could not believe I found this one! I have wanted this for a long time, just never got around to buying it)

One Man's Wilderness: An Alaska Odyssey by Sam Keith (All about Richard Proenneke!!)

Tuesday, August 30


Ground Bees:
Roy - "Did your father come over and spray chemicals on those bees when I was out of town last week?"
Me - "No, why?"
Roy - "They seem to be all gone."
Me - "Good"

***(Side Note) -
Roy - "Did your father till the garden rows when I was out of town last week?"
Me - "Yes."
Roy - "I was going to do that, ya know."
Me - "That was three weeks ago."

Looks like the DT Earth and old door screen I used worked and I am still alive to report about it. I am still not going over in that area of the yard, especially with the little man, until I am sure. I will try to mow that grass later tonight and see if I am attacked by anything.

We did not get any effects of the hurricane, short of what would be considered just another windy and slightly rainy day. Watching videos and television shows that our neighbors in Vermont seemed to be swamped with horrible weather which makes me feel very lucky that the only things I had to clean up were my watering cans that blew around the yard. And I had to retrieve the Happy Hippo Kids Wading Pool from the neighbors field.

So far there have been no returns. I lost 1 egg, but he so nicely left me the shell in case I wanted it for something. I still wonder why I didn't smell anything that day. I thought that you could smell a skunk even when they have not sprayed, but all i could smell that night was chicken poo. Our dogs got sprayed by a skunk once when we first moved here and it was just plain awful. My poor girls stunk for weeks, the house stunk for weeks and they had white fur so with all the tomato juice, they were a muted shade of orange-pink.

Not a result of Irene, but our internet has been down. And, my blog lost its formatting for some reason so I had to re-do a lot of the colors and layout. I am still not happy with it and I would love to have the time and knowledge to create a fancy farmer page. But this will do for now.

I think I have gotten all i am going to from the garden this year, short of tomatoes and beans, which have suddenly taken off. I will pick my small sampling of gourds and just let the zucchini and cucumber vines trail off. I had NO cucumbers this year. Not one. I maybe will have 5 zucchini for the season. I think that might be a new record considering that I can usually build a small log-like cabin from all the ones I usually get.

My one "pumpkin" for fall this year. A little Lumina.

One of three decorative squashes. (At least they are orange).

I show you the above picture, however embarrassing, to emphasise that I have no idea what I am doing at any of this homesteading stuff. This is the best an 8-month pregnant lady can do with a two and half year old who likes to pick anything - ready for harvest or not. Add that to lack of proper materials and an obvious lack of tomato knowledge. I try to make myself feel better by thinking that at least some of the tomatoes are red.

He is taking his new medication like a big boy and he seems to be eating again. After about a week of the first chewable-treat pill, he was throwing up constantly and not eating. Now he seems to have an appetite back and he just has his usual hair balls. he did lose a few pounds so I am treating him to lunch meats and cooked chicken. His addiction to fresh grass has proven quite irritating lately as his inside potted grass has died and I, bad Mom that I am, did not have another one already seeded and growing. He voices his disapproval loudly and frequently.

Monday, August 29

Internet has been down for a bit - a fresh post tomorrow!

Thursday, August 25

Weeds and Potatoes

Oh, I was so embarrassed today. My parents come over for a visit and I cringed when my Dad headed toward the veggie gardens.

They are a mess. Between having tomatoes that hate me, no time to weed, and a miserable growing season in general, my garden makes me look like a big fat failure. I have tomatoes, but as i have stated in earlier posts, they are a huge falling-over mess semi- contained in a horrible stake and twine system. My cucumbers, pumpkins and decorative gourds are non-existent. And my zucchini plants have produced 4 zucchini this season.


In the time of year when gardening and homesteading magazines are full of articles about the best ways to get rid of, oopps, I mean 'enjoy' the massive amounts of zucchini coming from the garden, I have FOUR. Last year I was yelling at the too-friendly coyote "get away from my chickens, but PLEASE take some zucchini!"

Enter Dad with the tiller.

I now have rows again. And as he was tilling, I was weeding. It seems under those weeds, I have beans growing! And one white pumpkin.

And I have potatoes!!! We were about to till the row of weeds taller than my son that should have been a row of potatoes, when I thought we should just try to dig a hole and see if anything survived.

I have yellow potatoes!! Not just the tiny, pathetic-looking ones, but nice big yellow potatoes!!! We dug half the row and I have enough for several good meals. The little man thought it was just fantastic that potatoes were coming out of the ground and he had a great time collecting them (even the tiny ones).

And I got to talk a little gardening with my Dad. Before he was married to my Mom, they both worked on vegetable farms. Yes, I know, my Mother, who is afraid of dirt and bugs, used to pick peppers with the best of them. Dad rented field space behind is parents home from a neighbor and grew a ton of squash, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and corn to sell. I asked him how he kept the weeds down and he said "a hoe." I asked him how he staked his tomatoes and he said "I didn't."

Wait a minute here. He "didn't"?

Did he have some type of magic tomato plant that defied gravity and grow straight up on its own?

Unfortunately no. He said "I just let them lay on the ground. We picked the ripe ones every day."

I had a hard time believing this. My tomatoes are all over the ground, not be choice, and they are rotting before they can turn orange.

Dad must have had very non-picky tomato customers back then. But he said he didn't have any problems.

Could it be true? Could the answer to my tomato problems be THAT simple?? Have I been going about this all wrong? I still don't know about this. More research is needed.

Aside from all the tomato annoyances, I really enjoyed working with Dad in the garden today. Even if he had the tiller going full blast for most of the time and I was weeding away around the bean plants. I am trying to convince him to get a garden going in his own yard again but he just keeps saying that it is too much work and that he has bad soil.

I did manage to sneak a few tomato plants into Mom's flower bed this season. She enjoys the flowers but not the dirt, so I usually take care of the minimal flower gardens that she has. And I do have to say that is thrilled to have her own tomatoes growing.

Maybe next year I will add a few potatoes.

Wednesday, August 24

OK, I've Got Another Problem Here

I have a skunk in the chicken coop!!!! I went to collect the eggs last night before bed and to check the feed and water and I saw him run under the nest boxes.

First, nature seems to be trying to make my life difficult.

Second, how did he get in there and how do I get him out!!!!!

Tuesday, August 23

I've Got a Problem Here......

The other day while mowing the lawn I discovered that we have yet another infestation if ground bees this year. They seem to have appeared overnight and they are swarming all over the little hill by the barn.

Taking advice from the Internet, I put an old door screen over the hole and then Roy put a bunch of that Diatomaceous earth powder all over the screen and surrounding area. This just seemed to make them very, very angry and I stayed away from them.

Here we are a day later and the little stinkers have dug themselves a new hole. A BIG hole. And there seem to be even more of them.

My plan tonight is to get dressed in thick layers, remove the screen from the old hole, dump a ton of the DE on the new, big hole and cover the whole thing with the screen and a few rocks.

If I am still among the living after this attempt, I will post on the outcome.

Monday, August 22

I Hate The Tomato

"I am not going to do this again next year. There has to be a better way."

That is what I say to myself every fall after I have experienced yet another tomato apocalypse in the garden. And for some reason, no matter how much I think about it and try to come up with something better, I always end up using the same old techniques that result in failure.

It goes something like this:
-Plan which types of tomatoes to grow and buy seeds.
-Start seeds, sometimes too early, sometimes too late, in the basement under the lights.
-Transplant seedlings using spacing specification on seed packaging.
-Use tomato cages even though I know they won't work.
-Admire seedlings in neat rows with neat rows of cages, gently placing wayward branches into cages.
-See tomato plants explode into huge monsters, toppling cages.
-Stake cages up with anything handy - wooden stakes, broken rake handles, etc.
-Tie cages to stakes, plants to cages and watch as everything falls over.
-Not very gently haul plants and cages back upright and hold with more stakes and more twine. -Admire havoc of tomato garden with huge spiderweb of twine semi-holding-up monster tomato plants.
-Try to harvest.

I hate the tomato.

I should hate myself for not being able to come up with a better system. Or I should hate the garden store people for selling me cages that are meant to hold up a tiny plant with two tomatoes on it. But mostly I just hate the tomato. That is probably why I keep growing them - because one of these years I will conquer them and they will be perfect and I will have accomplished something. Maybe when I am about 90 years old. Until that wonderful, most likely arthritic day, I WILL find a better way.

Enter the internet. That wonderful piece of technology that us modern homesteaders can not live without. If anyone can help, the internet can. Currently, my tomato patch looks similar to this: I have used this type of cage the most. It usually falls over due to heavy plants and my soil being rocky so I can not get the "legs" in as far as they probably should go. I also have three of these cages. They started off promising but as the plants got bigger, they toppled like the other cages: Other than that, I have just used a combination of wooden stakes, metal stakes, twine, hope and prayer. I made something that resembles the following picture from three stakes and a lot of twine which also seemed promising: It looks to be more sturdy but I have found with the circular cages that the plants get too top-heavy and they fall. And the space for growth and support is limited once the limbs get too large to keep confined inside the circle. I think the way to go will be with a more sturdy, permanent structure such as the one below. It will allow for the growth and height that my tomatoes seem to crave. If made from wood, it can not be a totally permanent structure in my current garden. It would have be designed so that i can dis-assemble it and store it in the shed when not in use. If it is a "tent" shape however, the problem would be weeding and getting into the space under it, as it would be too short for the tiller or easy walking. I had that problem with my bean tepees in that the tiller was useless around them and they took up a great deal of space.

Or I might go with a more streamline approach such as two tall and strong metal stakes, spaced 1 foot apart at both ends of each row. I would run s strong but manageable wire and create a long, skinny cage, so there are three or four lines of wire going down both sides of the plant rows.

Either way, I will have to space the rows ever farther apart to allow for overhang.

My other option would be to be even more aggressive with trimming the "suckers" from the plants as they grow. This will help keep these my monster vines under control, and energy will go to producing really nice tomatoes instead of a bunch of foliage. The excess foliage that I allow to grow now will eventually grow into new branches that will form fruit, but that results in overhanging branches and tipping cages. In reading up on this I have found that most experienced growers advise that tomatoes should be pruned to not only produce larger fruit earlier in the season, but also to protect the plants against pest and disease problems. Pruning is a very simple process, although you may get the feeling of being a "killer" as I do when I thin seedlings. All you need to do is trim off the tomato "suckers," which grow in the "V" space between the main stem and the branches on your tomato plant.

Additionally, you may want to prune any branches off at the bottom of the tomato plant that are touching the ground, which helps to ward off insects and especially disease, such as blights and wilts. Just clip the one or two branches, with garden shears or scissors, that are touching the soil right near the stem. This also might help me eliminate my "tomato branches too low on the plant to adequately place up on the cage" problem. A website that I found helpful was Tomato Staking Techniques Evaluation One of my winter goals is to get down to business and plan my new garden. I can guarantee that one of the main design considerations will be the mother of all tomato staking contraptions. I'll keep you updated on what I finally come up with...

Friday, August 19

Sometimes It Is Hard to Know What to Say.

Jasper Amish bury sixth accident victim
By Andrew Poole

Jasper, N.Y. — In a previous news article, a patriarch of the Jasper-Woodhull Amish community, his voice shaking with sadness, put it best: “Another Friday, another coffin, another funeral.”

And so Friday went for the grief-wracked community, forced once again to deal with the death of one of their own. Elva Hershberger, 39, of Highup Road, Jasper died Tuesday, July 26 at Strong Memorial in Rochester, the sixth victim of July 19’s cruel three-car accident in Benton.

Hershberger is the first victim to die since the day of the accident, when five other members of the Amish community, including her husband, Melvin Hershberger Jr., 40, were killed.

Under thick layers of gray clouds and scattered rain drops, friends and family were joined by Amish from other communities in mourning. Many Amish from other communities had just returned home after the July 22 services for Hershberger Jr., Melvin Hostetler, and Anna Mary Byler.

Services started Friday morning at approximately 9 a.m., when family and friends, totalling fewer in number than the July 22 services, gathered in a barn on Waight Road.

Shortly after 11:30 a.m. crowds of five and 10 emerged from the barn and began walking north on State Route 36, past buggies lined around the Hershberger residence, toward the family burial plot.

A row of buggies pulled out of Waight Road onto State Route 36 following the walkers, with an open buggy carrying Hershberger’s body toward the plot, toward her family, toward her husband.

Riding in a van visiting farms near Penn Yan more than a week ago, 13 Amish were in the vehicle at the time of the accident. Their van was northbound on Pre-Emption Road when it struck a vehicle driven by Steven Eldridge, of Penn Yan, who was passing a slow-moving tractor in a no-passing zone.

The van then swerved into the southbound lane, colliding with and becoming embedded under the tractor.

All 13 Amish were injured, five were killed, and the drivers of the van, Lyn Oles, and the tractor, Tim Labarr, were injured.

The only person to emerge unscathed: Steven Eldridge, who is facing six counts of criminally negligent homicide, driving while intoxicated, and other charges.

Two of the other Amish passengers injured in the accident, Martha Hostetler and Andy Byler, have been discharged from Strong Memorial. Another passenger, Rose Anna Miller, remains in guarded condition as of Saturday afternoon.

Funds to help the families of those killed or injured in the accident have been established.

Copyright 2011 Penn Yan Chronicle-Express. Some rights reserved

Thursday, August 18

Disposable Lawn Mowers

"Our lawn mover of 6 years has died. You would think that something as major and expensive as a lawn mower would last more than 6 years, but I have been informed by Roy and numerous sales people at Tractor Supply that mowers are not built to last. The fact that this made me seriously mad was evident in that such a major purchase should last longer than a pair of jeans. No, I was not racing my mower or participating in demolition derby's with it. I was mowing the lawn. I thought that was what one did with a lawn mower but apparently I was supposed to keep it in the barn under a big heavy tarp and not even breathe on it. More on this in a later post...."

Here's the rest....

When we moved to our homestead, we bought a rider lawn mower. It was not cheap, but it was not top-of-the-line. Given that it was not cheap and that it was, well, a lawn mower, not a box of crayons, I was under the impression that it would be something that would last. My neighbor has two lawn mowers that look like they are from the 70's and they are still running strong. So I really didn't think that one of the adjectives I would later use to describe my mower would be 'disposable'.

In his "you should be known this" voice, Roy has informed me that mowers don't last long. And that is where my problem lies: I 'assume' things. I function on the premise that everyone operates with a baseline of common sense. Granted, this could be considered the lowest common denominator of common sense, but it is a standard that I can base things on. The same applies with things that I purchase. I know that there is a lot of cheap junk out there and I am usually good at spotting it and avoiding it.

But I think that any normal person, with common sense, would assume that such a big purchase as a rider lawn mower would be something that would last. It is a machine - like a car or a tiller or a table saw. It should last longer than the scrubber thing I use to clean the little man's juice cups with.

Bottom line is that (besides that my neighbor has an ability to resurrect mowers from the 1970's) nothing is made to last.

Get ready, I am going to sound like I was born in 1919 now: Things used to be made to last. They were not cheap plastic junk and people took care of things because they knew the cost of replacing them. People knew how to fix things. Ever wonder why there is a lack of local hardware stores that sell 'parts'? Because now it is cheaper and easier to just buy a new mixer. Hey, it only cost $5.99 at the day-after-Thanksgiving sale and it will only cost about $6.99 for a new one. Just toss it and get another one. But wait, didn't that mixer never work well anyway and it didn't have enough power and the cheap paint kept flaking off into your food?

While on the topic of mixers, I found an older Sunbeam Mixmaster at a garage sale for $15. It came with a juice attachment and two ceramic mixing bowls. It works perfectly. It is heavy and durable.

We now have a new rider lawn mower. The old one was totally shot - the motor seized up and gas and other things were leaking out. And even with my promises-to-myself of being extra careful with it and taking very good care of it, I am still skeptical that it will see 2015. But I will give it my best.

Note to self: Buy a book on small motor repair.

I do have a nice back-up however. A beauty like the one pictured below that I salvaged from my husband's Grandparents farm liquidation.

Look how easy it is to take apart. Even I can do this!:

Come to think of it, we salvaged a lot of stuff from that place and most of it has a useful place in our home. And it STILL WORKS!!!! Stuff from the 1940's and earlier.

So if this new mower dies, then I will have the leg and arm muscles of a lumberjack since I refuse to buy another mower and I have over an acre to push my antique beauty over.

Wednesday, August 17

Garden Color

Color, color, color in the gardens. The rain has caught up with us and now I have a bright and colorful display. Hollyhocks, cosmo, sweet pea (in moderation), black eyed susan, glads, queen anne's lace, purple cone flower and others have been making my days a little brighter lately.

Tuesday, August 16

No Sleep Tonight

After a long and careful debate with myself, I have decided that my super power, if ever given the chance to have one, would be no need for sleep. I would not have to sleep. Ever.

Yes, time travel would be exciting, and control of the weather was high on the list. Invisibility, being able to fly, super-fast weeding capability - they were all under consideration. But having a full 24 hours to fill with anything and everything is just too good to pass up.

Think of all the things you could accomplish with those endless 24 hours. Not just housework, baby care, yard chores, and the like - but all those other projects that there never seem to be time for. Sewing, knitting, sitting down to read a book or pet the cat for pete's sake! It would be perfect.

Of course, spending time thinking about the wonderful effects of this power does waste valuable time that could be spent reading that book. But one must dream.

Or, technically, one must day-dream as there will be no sleeping!

As lovely as this sounds (I am picturing the massive amounts of yard chores done by lantern-light), it can never happen. Humans have a monophasic sleep pattern (your typical 8-hour block of sleep every 24 hours).

But I can get close. Here is how: The Uberman Sleep Cycle. It replaces 8 hours of shut-eye with six 20-minute naps. According to an article in Men's Health magazine, Leonardo da Vinci is said to have followed a sleep pattern akin to Uberman. Also 'geniuses and military leaders throughout history have been linked with polyphasic and unconventional sleeping habits—Napoleon, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and Winston Churchill, to name a few.' Who wouldn't want to be ranked up there with those guys? Even if it is for homesteading accomplishments and having a spotless kitchen.

Animals, new mothers and babies all have polyphasic sleep patterns, so why not regular adults? The possibilities could be endless.

I am a little unsure if I should try this however. Aside from absolutely annoying my husband (stop vacuuming at 4am!), I would get a little cranky. Usually on days when I push myself to stay up late and get things done, I can get up early the next morning if I have to, but I notice that my mood is drastically changed. Especially if this happens more than one or two nights in a row. And how would you get exactly six 20-minute naps? It takes time to fall asleep and who wants to have to hear an alarm clock 6 times instead of just once?

I am thinking something a little less drastic. According to medical sources the average person can get by, without drastic negative effects, with 6 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. I can probably boost this to 5 hours by consuming massive amounts of caffeine.

I think this will give me more than enough time to complete all my back-logged knitting and sewing projects.

Monday, August 15

Homestead Updates

So many things have been happening around here lately it has been hard to keep up. The blog has been taking the back burner to life recently.

Mildred: She is officially gone. Missing for over a week, I think I have found the place of her demise in the side yard by the field. Feathers everywhere and not just the "I think I'll shed a few" variety. We think it must have been a fox hiding in the tall grass Sunday night and she must have been out digging for bugs with her 7 partners in crime. This has lead to a confinement status for the rest of the 17 ladies which they are not happy with. In an effort to reach a compromise, I have set up the portable pen again and they are allowed access to fresh grass on a daily basis. But they are still contained and safe. They may not think this compromise is fair but I am viewing it as an act of tough love on my part.

Lawn Mower: Our lawn mover of 6 years has died. You would think that something as major and expensive as a lawn mower would last more than 6 years, but I have been informed by Roy and numerous sales people at Tractor Supply that mowers are not built to last. The fact that this made me seriously mad was evident in that such a major purchase should last longer than a pair of jeans. No, I was not racing my mower or participating in demolition derby's with it. I was mowing the lawn. I thought that was what one did with a lawn mower but apparently I was supposed to keep it in the barn under a big heavy tarp and not even breathe on it. More on this in a later post....

Baby's Room: It has taken me much, much longer than I thought to get the new baby's room painted. Trying to paint at half-hour intervals during episodes of Curious George does not make for a speedy completion of a job. The trim is done and the second coat of wall paint went on yesterday. All that is left is all the touch-up, which is very time consuming. With any luck, it will be done before the baby arrives. And I still have the sew the curtains!

Prince: Prince, my oldest cat at 12 1/2, has been diagnosed with a very bad case of hyper-thyroid ism. After a traumatic trip to the vet (lets just say my car smells like a litter box right now), he was given chewable pills that are supposed to take like beef-flavored cat treats. I do not know this for sure since I have not actually tried one but Prince seems to be eating them on his own. Hopefully this will help control the problem.

Our Line: I know I have talked about this before but I just can't help but let everyone know how much I love my clothes line. It saves us so much money every year and it is one of my favorite parts of the day - hanging the laundry out. I think that is my form of meditation since I can not ever see myself sitting on the floor for an hour doing nothing, thinking about nothing. It's just not going happen. I'll get my much-needed stress relief from the line.

Speaking of Stress: Little man is trying to drive me crazy. He is 2 1/2 which is equivalent to saying he is a terror with a cute face. Sweet to the point of perfection on minute, crazy to the point of total meltdown the next. And he has this interesting power that lets him turn on and off his ability to hear at any given time. I can be talking to him and he just does not hear me. It is like I am not even in the room. but if I say something along the lines of "Lets go to the park" he has the excellent hearing of a wary caribou on the plains.

Wednesday, August 10

Garden Update

I have a ton of green tomatoes and not a single red one. Not even an orange one. At this rate, I will be canning green pasta sauce.

The tomatoes were my major investment crop this year since we were planning on making our own sauce, so the rest of the garden is small by comparison. I have onions that are doing well and my beans are finally taking off. The peas have just about run out of steam and I am going to plant another round shortly. We go through a lot of peas here.

Wedding has been a challenge since I have to constantly invent new ways of bending, reaching, and pulling due to the growing belly. So my rows are looking a little overgrown. I did manage to uncover all my pumpkins and gourds, revealing that i do in fact have some this season. Like this nice little while lumina pumpkin.

My zucchini has not been producing the baskets-full like it did last year. I have only harvested 4 so far. Four!!!! And no cukes either.

Was it the strange spring weather we had this year? Is my soil really THAT horrible? Is it just me? Does my garden not like me? I don;t see any reason why it shouldn't - I never spray it with chemicals, I ran up the water bill to astronomical highs during the recent drought to keep things well watered, and I have done my best to keep the tomatoes off the ground despite my faulty cage system.

Anyone else in upstate NY having problems?

Tuesday, August 9

Weekend Catch-Up: Sunday

A humid and slightly miserable day to be outdoors, however we had obligations to attend a reception, held outdoors. Everyone was sweating and hair was frizzy but we arrived home after having a nice time.

The ladies were grazing in the yard and under the cedar bushes as usual and Roy went out to tend them at around 9pm and do the head count. All 18 chickens usually find their way back to the coop around dusk and the nightly bed check goes well.

But not on Sunday. Roy came into the house and announced that we were missing 8 ladies. More specifically, I was missing 8 ladies.

Flashlights in hand we wandered around the yard, sure that I would see them running towards me or roosting on a fence or int eh neighbors barn.

No luck. And I was worried. I get attached to my animals and I have named a few of the ladies I can tell apart from the others. But I care about them all, name or not. Missing were Abigail, Gladys, Mildred, one of my newer rhode island reds, and three golden comets.

Abigail and Gladys are two of my absolute favorites, being from the group of original 6 from which we started our flock. Both friendly and easily handled.

I went to bed that night like a nervous parent. What were my kids doing? Don't they have any respect for the rules? Do they know how much they are worrying their mother?!?!

The next morning I looked out the bathroom window and saw chickens in the yard. I had not let the ones who behaved out of the pen yet so i knew some of the "lost" ladies had returned. I went out in my jammies and sandals and did a head count. Abigail and Gladys were there, as well as the rhode island red and the three golden comets. But not Mildred.

I looked around the yard, calling "here chickie, chickie, chickie" but she was nowhere to be seen.

I kept an eye out for her all day but she never showed up. So Mildred is officially missing. No signs of an attack by a fox or coyote in the yard but plans of exploring the fields did not pass today due to pouring, all-day rain. I envision her hold-up somewhere dry, waiting for her chance to make her way home.

Friday, August 5

A Lesson in Modern Back-to-School

The other day we went to Staples to get some copier paper.

Normally, Staples is almost a ghost-town in that everything they have can be obtained at big box stores for less money. They just happened to be having a good sale on copier paper.

When we pulled into the parking lot we had a hard time find a spot. At Staples.

The store was packed. Kids of all ages wandering around with lists and parents pushing carts full of supplies. School supplies. It was the last day of July. Neither the parents or the kids looked very happy.

Roy and I just kind of looked at each other and didn't know what else to say. It was July. And these kids were already having to think about calculators, #2 pencils and 3-ring binders.

I am going to revert to 100-year-old-men-conversing talk now: when I was a kid, all we had to bring was something to write with and something to write on. And I am not that old. The classrooms all had crayons, colored paper, art supplies, and the like.

Now it seems that contained within the 2 pages of school supplies is everything that used to be provided by the teacher. Even Kleenex.

Some poor girl at Staples had Kleenex on her back-to-school list. Didn't the teacher always have a box on her desk for students? Another one of my favorites was the fancy calculator. I don't remember all the letters and numbers given to tell you exactly which one to get but Roy said it was expensive. You know, the ones that do everything except add, subtract and divide, and that have all the buttons that you never know what to do with.

I got a pocket calculator free with the purchase of something years ago and I use it when I go to the grocery store. I turn it on, add numbers and get the answer. The things that these poor kids have to deal with could probably alter global warming if aimed at the sun.

I guess this is all a result of a combination of school budgets, progress and technology. I wonder what the little man and the new baby will need when they finally get on the bus? Will laptops be mandatory?

Thursday, August 4

Hello Rain! You Are Most Welcome!

The rain finally came yesterday - not just the little shower that lasts 5 minutes before returning to humid and unbearable - but a nice full day soaking. I could hear the garden and the lawn drinking it in.

We have been using the sprinkler on the veggie gardens for what seems like weeks now, and according to Roy's lecture about the high water bill, it might just have been weeks! TLast night - no sprinklers. Just tomato plants dripping with accumulated raindrops.

Before I started small-scale gardening, I never really though too much about the weather and how it effected things on a grand scale. I was just concerned about how it effected me and my weekends. Now, I see things much differently. Even as a small-scale food grower, I see the need of living with the rythym of the weather. Checking the forecast each day to decide planting, tilling or watering times. It makes me slow down a little bit in that there is something else dictating the timeline.

Wednesday, August 3

My New Iron (for display purposes only)

I found this at a yard sale for $10. No markings on it, just an awesome chicken closure. I just had to have it as it fit my criteria for home decor - it is heavy, solid, one-useful, obviously used, and you want to look at it for more than 30 seconds. The fact that it had a chicken clasp was a total bonus.

The charcoal iron was developed in the mid to late 1800's as a step up from the sad-iron, which even though allowed three irons to be warm at once, they still cooled quickly. The charcoal iron was filled with smoldering coals to keep a consistant heat, but it did get rather smoky and needed 'fanning' to keep the coats hot.

"Family charcoal irons, with removable top and hardwood handle with shield... Use ordinary charcoal as fuel, is easily regulated to any desired heat and does away with the hot fire on ironing day. Weight, 7 pounds." Sears Catalog 1902

Tuesday, August 2


My apologies for the lack of posts lately - we have been very busy here with projects. New post tomorrow!