Friday, March 30

Fox in the Coop

This past weekend I lost three of my hens. After cleaning the coop of the winter deep bed straw getting everything fresh and new, I did a head count of my ladies and found 17, which was spot on. That was Saturday.

Sunday - just a normal day. Nothing to suggest there was a problem in the coop. Watering and feeding occurred without incident, although it was done after dark with limited visibility of the outside run.

Monday - Friends were over for dinner and wanted to see the chickens. I noticed three ladies were missing. Head count = 14.

I noticed the hole right away, being daylight. Under the door that leads into the their outdoor run. Something had dug a hole just big enough to get through and had made off with three of my ladies. Whatever it was, it was small. The depression is only about 4 inches under the door and I can not imagine a coyote or a stray dog being able to fit through it, let alone get back out hauling a struggling chicken.

I am going to go ahead and guess that it was a fox. And he must have visited three times that night, or he had friends with him. A gang of deviant, misdirected young foxes who got in with the den from the wrong side of the tracks.

Tomorrow is fence fixin' day. We are going to remove what is left of the top netting, reinforce the wood posts, tighten the rope that the netting rests on and fill in the hole under the door. i am also going to trench around the entire outdoor area about 6 inches and put an "L" shaped layer of chicken wire in the ground with the "L" running up the bottom of the existing fence. I am going to bury it in there so if anything tries to dig they will hit wire and not be able to go any further.

The roll call of the missing: Hildred, Abigail and one of my un-named Golden Comets. I raised the golden comet from a tiny little chick from the Tractor Supply. Hildred and Abigail were two of my original six chickens - the ones who started it all. I only have one of the original six left - Gladys. I can tell her apart due to her clipped beak. The original six were from a farm that performed that procedure, which I think is not all that humane.

That's four chickens lost to predators and two lost to natural causes in the few years we have had laying hens. I will never get used to losing an animal, especially to such a violent end.

Early Spring Blooms

Monday, March 26

"...but then you have to eat it."

With everything we do to make our homes and ourselves more sustainable, it is easy to get that burned out feeling of being in a rut. Not that there are not new challenges and ideas around every corner that we can assimilate into our homesteading, but sometimes the desire to do so is just not enough to get us off the couch.

There comes a point when a person has done so much to change that although it feels great and the benefits are plain to see, the effort in making and keeping with such changes can be daunting.

There are days, and we have all had them, when I want to throw my hands up in the air and say "the heck with it!". I want to be ignorant as to the origin and composition of my meat products. I want to run loads of laundry on hot with bargain brand detergent. I want to operate under the completely sweet assumption that product manufacturers have our best interests at heart and would never do or making anything that would harm us consumers.

Wouldn't it just be so much easier? A little less work? I little less money spent on non-organic products?

Yes, it might be. But as the fast food commercial says, "You can buy a hamburger for 59 cents, but then you have to eat it."

So on those days that I am contemplating the trade in of my homesteading library to clear shelf space for my new high definition flat screen, I just go with something small.

I pick a room in my house and when I have a moment or two of peace and quiet, I go into that room and ask the question: What can I do in this room to make it more sustainable/efficient/productive/organized/home-stead-ish? (I say home-stead-ish when I mean using oil lamps for reading instead of an electric one, or using homemade rag rugs instead of buying a new one that smells of stain-resistant chemicals.

For example, the family room. The other day I was feeling a bit down in the sustainability dumps so I asked the question and came up with cleaning the windows. We have an old house and the windows in the family room are very old. They have the counterweight system of opening and closing and they are not the most efficient windows we could have. Since we can not afford to replace them right now and we have used caulking methods to seal gaps to save heat, I thought that I could give them a face lift of sorts.

The exterior facing side of the windows are hard to clean since they require a step ladder and a long handled brush and must be cleaned from the outside. But in doing so this not only gave the whole room a new sense of freshness, it let in more light and it made the view better for taking pictures of birds at the feeder. These windows had not been cleaned on the outside for some time, so although this may sound like a trivial idea, it really did make a difference, not only to make the room more pleasant, but to provide me with that small accomplishment to keep me focused.

Cleaning the windows: lets in more natural light (less artificial light needed), better view (better bird pictures), lets me get a good look at the outside of the frames to take note on any needed repairs (catching problems before they turn into a big job and saving on costs and lost heat), and proof that using a great home made glass cleaner really does work.

I know it's a small thing, but when I am feeling like throwing in the dishtowel I will take any little motivational tool I can think of to keep me from eating that
59 cent hamburger.

Sunday, March 25

What a Difference a Day Makes

I took this picture in the morning the other day of the buds on my magnolia tree. This tree was one of the reasons we bought this house. I love it. It is old - very old - and tall and wide and full of blooms every season.

By late afternoon on the same day this is what I was treated to:

This crazy March weather has made a lot of trees flower sooner than usual. I hope, if we get a freeze, that this will not be a disaster for the fruit and walnut trees.

Thursday, March 22

Chicken Status

The ladies are looking like they just stepped out of a Martha Stewart Backyard Chicken book.

OK, I slight exaggeration - some of them are still molting - but the majority of them are filled out in feathers and plumpness. My flock is doing great and they look like the chickens you see in the how-to books on backyard chickens. On chill evenings, I see them shaking their feathers up, like a dog shaking off after a dip in the pond. I want to think this is because they are aware of their beauty and not just flapping their feathers to keep heat against their skin.

I am quite proud of them, and they have been laying more eggs since the weather has warmed up, which is another plus. We have had a great spell of warm daytime weather so I have been leaving the coop door open. But I make sure to close it up on chill nights, when there is snow, a wind chill or unfavorable conditions in general. They are stuck in he coop on those cold days, but they don't seem to mind.

I have been using my spare time to clean up the coop lately and I put a fresh layer of straw down on the deep bedding inside and some more fresh straw on the ground in their outdoor run. This not only gives them hours of digging and pecking entertainment, it also keeps the mud down in the run which means cleaner eggs. The coop will need to be completely cleaned out pretty soon since it is starting to get quite "ripe" in there and I don't want to let it go too much longer. The deep bedding is providing warmth and insulation but with the weather starting to turn towards spring, it is time to clean things up.

We have had a mild winter here for the most part so I did not have one incident of frostbite due to wind chill. The coop temperature never fell below freezing - the lowest it got was about 38 degrees.

I have combated the cabin fever by giving them various forms of entertainment such as flock blocks, extra scraps, cabbage or lettuce heads, apples and home made chicken bread. Things that take time to peck away at and that take a lot of effort seem to keep them happy, full and content. This means no fighting chickens and no pecking at each other.

I have so much crumble dust since I started using my system to filter it out, I decided to try using the dust in a shallow tub for dust bathing. In what may just amount to a glorified chicken litter box, this shallow container, about 2 feet in diameter and about 6 inches deep, seems to be working. They sit in it and wave their feathers around and all that, just like outside when it is dry and the ground is worked up a little.
Our second winter with chickens seeme to have gone by without incident and I am looking forward to a spring a summer filled with new challenges. Not only for egg production - these ladies will be chickens with a purpose. I plan on using them to clear the space for my new vegetable garden.
More on that project soon....

Tuesday, March 20

It's Pruning, Not Murder

While catching up on a few of my favorite blogs this afternoon I was reminded of a critical broccoli seedling step that I had forgotten about:
-- pinching off the first set of leaves after the true leaves have started growing --
The result is less "tippy" broccoli seedlings and the energy is focused on those true leaves.
I also use a tablespoon to place some additional potting mix around the base of the stem, while provides a llittle more stability for the sometimes "tippy" stems.
I am happy to do this since it is pruning, not thinning, which I hate. Thinning seedlings makes me feel awful. I dreaded it - it makes me feel like a veggie killer.

Monday, March 19

Odds and Ends

For all intents and purposes, Prince is the king of the house. He has been with us the longest and it going on 13 years.

And he does not let us forget his earned status. A more opinionated, demanding and sometimes irritating cat I have never met. But his indescribably large capacity to love is unmatched.

Then we have Cheese. A spitfire, she is, and a great mouser. At only 3 years of age she has grown to the respectable size of a puffy maine coon, and shows no signs of stopping.

I saw my first bee of the season over the weekend, enjoying the snowdrops in the side garden. I amso saw my first robin of the season last week - a rather chubby specimen - pearched on top of the wooden rose trellis. Most likely a Mamma about to lay some eggs in one of the many nests in teh barn. In the past week the robin population has exploded and they seem to be everywhere, scowering the grounds for nest bits.

What I consider the 'second flower' of spring popped up in the yard today and i love looking out the window and seeing little bright spots of color dotting the dull green and dead brown grass.

Speaking of nest building, whoever built this one had home security on the brain. That rose bush with the huge thorns is the one that took out the little mans huge plastic ball last year. Opened up a gash about 6 inches long and seemed happy to do it.
My parents never want for a good supply of firewood.....
I have been seeing a lot more red tailed hawks around than usual in the past few weeks. Some with tails so bright red that there is no mistaking them for another species. The starlings are also making their presence known lately, lining up on the telephone lines and diving off one after the other to the field below, like olympic divers.

Sunday, March 18

Is It Just Me??

Is it just me or does anyone else find the picture on this bag of cat treats just a bit disturbing?

Thursday, March 15

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Possibilities and Promise

A nicely padded envelope arrived in my mailbox yesterday from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and I couldn't wait to rip into it. All those pretty seed packets - I gave each one the once over and a gentle shake just to hear the sounds of promise.
Every year I still marvel over the possibilities that exist in each paper packet. Seeds are amazing things. That something this light and small, when planted in rich dark soil and tended by our hands, can produce a bounty that can sustain us for a season and more.
All the seeds I ordered were there except for three - they were sold out by the time my order arrived even though I sent it in the day after I received the catalog. I think they were slow to mail them out this year, either that or my mailman was spending his lunch hours gazing at photos of zucchini and heirloom tomatoes. (For those of you who are saying "why didn't she just order online?" - I just really, really like ordering from the actual catalog. I don't know why.)
I did not receive my corn, cucumbers or hot pepper, for which I received a refund. No problem, I can just find the seeds locally this season.
I started the Waltham broccoli along with my four varieties of tomatoes today - cherry, sungold, beefsteak and brandywine. No roma this year since I will not be making a second attempt at sauce anytime soon. This season I am not going crazy with the tomatoes as I have done in years past. Resulting from ideas about lines of mason jars filled with home made sauce lining my pantry shelves, or being unable to say no to an extra plant, I always end up with too many tomatoes in the garden.
And of course, being the softy that I am, I simply can not thin my seedlings without feeling a tremendous wave of guilt. As I am trying in vain to decide which seedling out of a group of 5 gets the snippers, all I an hear is a little voice in my head menacingly whispering "murderer...."
Technically, I should be deciding which one seedling should stay, snipping away four (!), but that is how I always end up with too many tomato plants.
So now, in the basement, I have three trays of hope under the grow lights. The feeling I get from knowing that I can grow food is worth more to me than gold. If things get bad - job loss, economic instability, rising food costs - I can still put peas and beans and, yes, tomatoes, on the table. And if things are fine, great! I will still feel even richer with the knowledge that I can provide for my family.
Possibilities and promise.

Wednesday, March 14

The Baby Sling That Wasn't Meant to Be

I'm a busy girl. Laundry, dishes, cleaning up, toddler entertainment center, house chores, yard chores - the life of a home maker.

I try to include the little man in as many chores as possible and he is a great helper, but having one free hand was just not cutting it, even with two little toddler hands helping out.

My baby girl likes to be held, which is wonderful and I am happy to do it. However, she is going on 15 pounds and even though I like the arm workout, juggling her while doing housework is not optimal, or safe.

I did not want to spend a bundle (no pun intended) on a baby carrier so a little research online lead me to a site with a step by step video on how to make your own baby sling. Carry your baby with you, keep her close and comfy, and have two hands free. Perfect!

Given that I love sewing and I always have fabric on hand (clearance remnants at Joanne Fabrics are a goldmine), I set about following the woman in the video and making my little girl her own baby sling.

Easy! Fast! Perfect! Just follow the instruction and make sure your measurements or spot on.

I finished the sling and got her in it. She looked around, looked up at me and wailed. She hates it. Every time I try to put her in it, she screams. The blow to my sewing ability ego aside, (hey, my seams are pretty good - the other babies won't notice!), I just can't stand that look of dread on her face when I attempt to put her in.

So, I have a perfectly good baby sling here - made out of nice, slightly stretchy, conservative light gray pinstripe if anyone is interested.

Maybe I can use it for the cat.

Monday, March 12

Things are Sprouting in the Basement....

I currently have one grow light humming away in the basement providing a nourishing glow to my broccoli seedlings. I am surprised how fast they germinated this year, but compared to the astronomically long germination time of green bell papers in the next flat over, anything seems fast.

I started the broccoli and peppers around the beginning of the month, along with rosemary, lavender and thyme. I am seeing the slightest bit of growth with the rosemary and the lavender so far.

Last week I started the marigold and nasturtium seeds for the hanging baskets I make now rather than buy. I will choose a few more varieties to start a little later to fill out the baskets.

Next to start: tomatoes..... (if you have been a reader since last spring, you know that they are my nemisis)

Saturday, March 10

Cleaning Chicken Eggs - Plain and Simple

I recently saw an advertisement for Egg Wipes and it brought back the old question of how to clean the coop eggs before eating them. When we first got our chickens, we researched every aspect from heat lamps to proper nest boxes to egg safety and I decided on the less is more approach to cleaning the eggs. I am all for safety, but I think that the less you can do to something you are eventually going to eat, the better.

But I wanted to explore this topic again in that I do want what is safe. Who knows - there could be some new information out there.

So, these egg wipes are biodegradable cleaning cloths that come in a pop-up container resembling any number of cleaning cloth containers. Their plant-based cleaning solution is made up of Water,non-ionic Surfactants derived from corn, palm and coconut oils, water conditioner,preservative - less than .2%.

Sounds good, but are they really necessary? Do we need to buy another product to clean a product that we have produced ourselves? I am sure that some people will want to use these and more power to them. However, I will stick to my tried and true approach for getting clean eggs from the coop.

First, I try to keep a clean nest box - fresh straw weekly and a daily quick-glance inspection to remove any obvious poop or dirt. I try to visit the coop at least twice a day to gather eggs which leaves less opportunity for them to become dirty with muddy chicken feet or from the hen who can't make it to the "outhouse" fast enough.

This seems to take care of 75% of any dirty egg problem I might have.

When there are eggs that get dirty - from poop, mud, remnants of a broken egg - you have to clean them.

I rinse the eggs in room temperature water and get rid of stubborn, dried on debris with the soft sponge. I have a sponge exclusively for this purpose so nothing gets transfered where I don't want it. I let them air dry and put the, pointy side down, into cartons and they go into the fridge. If I'm in a rush, I dry them off with a soft dish towel.

That's it. Plain and simple. I don't see the need to complicate things.

That said, there are quite a few other methods out there to clean eggs - everything from not cleaning all but the dirtiest eggs to using bleach. What works for me might not not work for you. In searching for a few alternatives, here are some general guide rules containing the most frequent cleaning methods and advice:

Water: It is a common thread to use only room temperature or luke warm water to clean eggs. Cold water causes the pores in an eggshell to pull any wayward bacteria from the surface in through the shell and into the egg.

If you have chickens then you know egg yolk from a broken egg, once dried, is hard to remove without damaging the egg. You end up putting your thumb though the shell from applying the pressure to clean the egg and you end up with a broken egg in your sink. Luke warm water is actually better to use in this case, and you should use it for all your egg cleaning. Cold water will just make that dried egg yoke harder to remove. Another good reason to stick with room temperature water.

Also, do not immerse the eggs in water or let them stand in water. I use a basin of luke warm water from the tap, soak the sponge in it, and wipe down the egg over the sink. This saves water from not using the running tap while you are cleaning the whole batch.

Dry Cleaning: You can forgo water altogether if you wish and use a dry sanding sponge, loofah, light sandpaper, or abrasive kitchen sponge. I have found that this works well for not-so-dirty eggs that still need to have a little cleaning before going into the carton.

The Bloom: Eggs have a natural antibacterial protein coating called the bloom. It provides some protection to the egg in that it helps protect against bacteria entering the pores of the egg shell. The dry cleaning method is the best if preserving the bloom on your eggs is your goal. I have found it said that if you don't wash your eggs, just dry clean them, the bloom will protect the egg so you do not need to refrigerate them. However, they will deteriorate much more rapidly than refrigerated eggs do - bloom or no bloom. Refrigeration slows down the aging process and the eggs will stay fresher, longer.

Sanitize: Some people follow the washing and drying of eggs with a sanitizing spray, using bleach diluted in water for the spray mixture. I am really not a fan of doing this. Adding chemicals, especially after you have washed away the bloom, just doesn't make sense to me. This is also why I do not use dish soap when I am washing the eggs, not even a very mild, unscented one.

How do you clean your eggs? Do you use any kind of cleaning solution? Have you found a natural, home made solution that works?

Wednesday, March 7

The Final Word on Demon Foods

What's good for you? What's bad for you? What type of bread will cure your insomnia and which kind will send your sugar levels skyrocketing after one slice?

Tea? Coffee? Caffeine? Plant based diet? Low carb intake? No meat? Peanut butter is a good source of protein. Wait, peanut butter will add pounds to your love handles!

I am hyper conscious of all those news reports and articles claiming that one type of food is good for you, another is bad, and some will kill you tomorrow. Then the next week, just reverse it all and start all over. Pretty much everything is bad for you it seems and even though i say I am "hyper-conscious", it is focused on the absurdity of the entire ordeal rather than drastically altering my diet.

I can across this fantastic blog post the other day which just about spells out the whole thing. Please, please read this blog post from Consciously Frugal. We need to stop freaking out and use some common sense.

General rule: If it is something that your great grandmother would not recognize as something eatable to put on the dinner table, it is probably not something you should be eating.

"Foods grown for shelf life and transport, saturated in toxic chemicals, generally aren't (*gasp*) so great for actual consumption when it comes to nutrient value."

Amen, sister.
Consciously Frugal: Demon Foods

Tuesday, March 6

Great for the Reference Library

The American Red Cross Wilderness and Remote First Aid Emergency Reference Guide is a great resource to have in your home library. It is a straight forward how-to the covers the basics of first aid and situations that may arise when you are out and about on a hiking trip or camping.

The photos make this a very visual learning guide and help enforce the written directions, making it easy for all to use.

The cover a wide spectrum of possibilities, from Altitude Illness to Submersion Incidents, and they also have a Special Situations section offering assistance for everything from emergency childbirth to snow blindness.

And even if you don;t go into labor while hiking in the Smokies, you may need to reference the section on broken bones, snakebites and cuts and scrapes.

PDF - Download the free book here.

Saturday, March 3

Shampoo Prepping: Quantity vs. Quality?

In a recent clip I watched about preparedness, or "preppers", I saw that one family was stocking up on personal items such as toilet paper and shampoo. It seemed, from looking at the contents on the shelf that their shampoos and conditioners of choice were Suave and Vo5. And they had quite a selection.

When thinking about prepping, these brands do offer a very cost effective solution. You can get a bottle of Suave or Vo5 in most stores from under $2.00, and they are often on sale for less. If you have a coupon, then you could walk away with getting a bottle almost nothing. And in the world of budgets and stocking up, this is smart spending.

But what about the cost to your body? Saving money is one thing, but I also want to use what is safe.

One website I went to rated Suave Shampoo as "highly toxic" and refers to it as a "chemical soup." It contains potentially harmful ingredients such as DMDM HYDANTOIN and COCAMIDOPROPYL BETAINE which have been linked to cancer, as well as ethanol which is linked to infertility and pregnancy problems. Penetration enhancers such as PROPYLENE GLYCOL and TETRASODIUM EDTA are also present which increase exposures to carcinogens found in the shampoo. Methylisothiazoline causes neurological damage. More than 10 other ingredients are listed including Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, FD&C RED 40, AMMONIUM CHLORIDE, and SORBITOL.

Searching around on the internet for chemical free shampoos, dangers found in cheap shampoo, etc, is a daunting task. There are websites out that that claim just about everything and a lot are trying to sell you something. Finding the plain facts is not as easy as I thought. basically, i just have to go back to plain old common sense. The less ingredients, the better. The less chemicals, the better. They are absorbed through the skin into the blood stream just as if you'd eaten them. Would you eat a tablespoon of your shampoo?

But the question remains, when prepping, do we go for quantity or quality?

I know that it is just about impossible to get away from all chemicals in personal care products. However, I am not willing to risk some of the nasty side effects some of the more harmful chemicals cause. Studies have linked everything from abnormal brain development in unborn babies to the development of Alzheimer's disease and other nervous system disorders to these dangerous chemicals and additives. Companies use them because they are convenient and cheap.

Disruptions in brain function, cancer, liver disorders, rashes, skin conditions, endocrine disruptions - all these things that can be caused by slathering sweet smelling, cheap products on your skin and scalp.

The information on natural products is also all over the place in terms of getting to the bottom line. Products claiming to be natural, false advertising, organic vs. non-organic. You don't have to expose yourself to toxic chemicals to take care of personal hygiene, but I have found that just about every shampoo has some sort of ingredients that are questionable.

The organic sections of grocery store and specialty shops are full of safe alternatives - just read the labels and use your common sense and good judgement. Burt's Bee's Shampoo is the one I use. Yes, it does have chemicals, but it is a lot better than Suave. Dr. Bronner's soaps can be used to make more natural shampoos, and I guess you can also just wash your hair with a plain old bar of goats milk soap if you had to.

If and when the sh*t hits the fan, I am most certainly going to want a supply of soaps and personal products. Stores will run out of these items just as fast as they do food and flashlights. It comes down to quality vs. quantity. Do you want a large stock of possibly dangerous products that could give you cancer or do you want a smaller stock of safer alternatives? The cheaper stuff is easier to stock up on because it is just that - cheap. Being on a budget and trying to store things away dictates frugality and maybe a little deviation in what we are willing to use.

The more expensive and maybe safer alternatives are always more desirable, but you will most likely have a smaller stash of them due to cost. So you will be able to feel much better about washing your hair with generator pumped water, but it is not going to last as long. And, if something does happen, who knows how long it will take to get the stores supplied and running again?

I am taking the 50/50 approach. I currently use safer alternatives and when there is a sale, when I have a little extra in the budget, or when someone asks me for gift suggestions, I get the safe stuff. But I will have a stash of the cheap stuff in the back of the bathroom prep closet just in case. I think that if things get bad, I will most likely have much more pressing matters to fret over then shampoo chemicals.

The bottom line: If something bad happens, I think that we will be less concerned about the chemicals in or shampoo as we are about putting food on the table and home security. Sadly, our priorities will change until things calm down. If that means Suave and Vo5 for a while instead of going around with very dirty hair, then I think I will lather up and cut my losses.

I am interested in what you think about this. Quality or quality in the prep cupboard?

Friday, March 2

oh, good, it wasn't a spider.....

They are predicting heavy thunderstorms tonight along with winds strong enough to bring down the power lines. As it is well past dark here I can only sit and listen to the howling outside and wait for the pelting rain to tap rather forcefully against the windows. Tomorrow morning I will survey the damage which will probably amount to a ton of downed branches and all the recycling from the neighbors caught in my cedar bushes.

I am looking forward to a good storm, especially one with thunder. None of this drizzle and nonsense for me - if it's going to open up, let it come. I am ready.

After a day like today, I am ready for anything.

After about 3 hours of sleep total last night I was up before the sun with the little man who had a bad dream about his "little garden." This lead to me giving in and letting him watch a Curious George much too early in the day, which gets him off to a crabby start when I turn it off after the half hour is up. I hate having the television on before the sun comes up. Something about it just doesn't seem right - like I am committing some sort of blasphemy.

The baby was not far behind in waking and the day had begun. And it was meant to be a day of cleaning. A home inspection was happening today and the little man and I had a lot to do. We had just gotten started after the baby went down for her nap when I caught something out of the corner of my eye in the dining room. It looked like something fell from the ceiling and I was dreading another huge black spider in my house. Turns out it was just a drop of water..... oh, good, it wasn't a spider....

Wait, water should not be coming out of the dining room ceiling.

Old houses have their quirks. One of which is old plumbing that for some reason never got the replacement attention it deserved. I can imagine one of the old timers who lived here years ago taking a look and saying "Awww, that's good for another 30 years! I put that in myself after I came home from school walking three miles in 4 feet of snow. Uphill."

As a concerned wife looks on, the plumbing was ignored until the upstairs toilet decide to spring a leak. This morning.

I had a saggy, dripping ceiling to prove it. The little man was fascinated by the fact that potty water was coming out of the ceiling and he wanted to play with the bucket I had thrown under the drip.

The baby woke up and was crying, little man was getting his socks soaked on the wet carpet, and I was noticing how dangerously close the dripping area was to my antique china cabinet.

Within the next minute, I was on the phone with my neighbor up the street who happens to do home repairs. He was at our house 10 minutes later and he solved the leaking problem - the pipe that brings the water into the toilet was loose. So at least it wasn't used toilet water coming through the ceiling. Although "fresh toilet water" still doesn't sound all that much better.

The carpet was soaked but luckily we have carpet tile squares in that room. Since it is the only room in the house with carpeting, and we have a three year old, we like being able to take up one or two squares if an accident happens and replace them. I took up 10 dripping carpet squares and hauled them out onto the front porch. We dried the floor underneath as best as we could and put down new tiles out of our spare stash.

The ceiling had stopped dripping by this time and we did our best to get everything back in order. The inspector was coming at 2pm and we still have the kitchen, two bathrooms, and the front porch to clean up.

By this time little man was out for his nap and I was frantically cleaning up and making things presentable. The inspector came and went without noticing the ceiling and I collapsed on the couch for a nap of my own.

This problem has reminded me of a project that I have been sticking on the back burner for a long time. I need to go through the house and make note of the things that need repair. Not just painting and window replacement but getting a good look at the plumbing and electrical too. Not that this is the best time for home projects, but avoiding another potentially costly problem will be worth it in the long run.

This weekend = home assessment. (and starting more seeds.)

Thursday, March 1

Seed Order is Placed!

I ordered my seeds from Baker Creek today - and it was such a challenge. Staying within budget when you are ordering from baker Creek is one of the most difficult things I do each February. So many fantastic varieties to choose from!

I kept things simple this year and stuck to the things I know we like to eat and that i know grow well in my garden. The only things I ordered this year that were new are the Ali Baba watermelon and the Golden Bantam corn. (Mom wants watermelons but she doesn't like dirt).

This years order:
Purple Podded Pole Beans
Old Homestead Green Bean
Waltham 29 Broccoli
Little Finger Carrot
Golden Bantam Corn
Early Russian Cucumber
Lincoln Peas
Jalapeno Pepper
Ali Baba Watermelon

All heirloom, non-GMO seeds will be making their way to me hopefully by the first week in March.

Tomorrow, I start the peppers.