Monday, January 31, 2011

No Turning Back Now!

For three separate reasons, there's no turning back now!

First, our friends that have been living in Nebraska for nearly 3 years have officially crossed the border and are in our home state...for keeps!  I am really so excited to have them home and beating the storm!

Second, yeah...the storm.  Why is it all weather channels forcast different totals?  The least we can expect is 12".  The maximum  is 24"!  With wind gusts up to 45mph, they are calling this storm "Life Threatening".  I am thinking it could be fun!  No really, FUN!

Third, last night I sat down and hit that little "Sumbit Order" button for our peeps!  Yup, I actually did it!  I should be jumping up and down, right?

Well, I was!  However this morning I got an email from my girlfriend informing me that my work travel schedule is now going to pull me away the week our peeps are to arrive!  So I am working on my options. 

Can you believe it?

Volunteers, anyone?  :)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Back to The Drawing Board

There's just not much going on these days other than Chicken Pickin'.  The place that I had hoped to order peeps from went MIA on me.  It was a local hatchery and I had been looking forward to picking them up myself.  So it would appear our peeps will be going thru the postal service after all.

I haven't convinced Pig Pen to build a Chicken Tractor for Red Rangers :(  It's not like he doesn't have a million other things to do, so I can forgive him, right?  He's busy body enough.  My girlfriend, Tricia, has visions of her and I building it.  Which I am sure we could...ha!  But not to Pig Pens specs and standards.  Oh, and she wants to paint it PINK! 

She's also naming all my chickens!

Since we aren't doing specific meat birds, we are adding Buff Orpington's to the mix.  I've heard really good things about them and the new book I got says they make excellent meat and layers.  Can't go wrong, I hope!

Rookie Rick found a friend who is ordering organic food-grade DE!  So we get to piggy-back the order.  Woohoo!  I was happy about that!  We are going to try the deep litter method and this will be key.  It's nice to have at least one local friend who does the same things we do.  So far, we have ordered seed, bees and now peeps together (well, peeps getting ordered this week).  It helps save on shipping costs when you buddy up!

Speaking of bees...we ordered 3 more this week!  The best part is -I don't have to DRIVE 8 hours to get them!!!  This makes me very happy!  Our hive count is going from 2 to 5!  I am getting very antsy to see how our existing 2 weather the winter.  I really hope they make a grand appearance come Spring!  The honey of course is excellent, but I am most looking forward to the pollinating benefits!

Tonight is "Date Night".  We were planning to see a movie and have dinner.  But ya know, we just don't enjoy those kinds of things as much as instead...we are going for a drive to visit...hold your hats...

A different Tractor Supply store and dinner.  :)

Now we're talkin'!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Plan Complete!

OK, my head hurts.  Two days...two days I have been beating my head over the Garden Plan for 2011.  My eyes are crossed and blurry and my now two least favorite words have become "Isolation Distance".

I decided to tackle companion planting, heirlooms and now that all in one year.  And not only did it drive me crazy, it did some of you too who had to field questions.  For that...thank you and sorry! :o)

See, as an "Heirloom Virgin" (hey, you guys started it!) I have alot to learn.  Like for instance, who ever thought long and hard about planting your various types of tomatoes in the same row?  Or your colored and hot peppers int the same row?  Please tell me I am not alone in the dunce hat again! 

Cross-Pollination.  Seed saving.  Do you see where that could lead?  MmmmHmmm straight to the need for "Isolation Distance".  The amount of space you need to keep between different varieties of the same plant in order to minimize or avoid cross breeding altogether.  Crap!

I have five different types of tomatoes I was wanting to try and nine different peppers.  I know, I know...maybe a little overboard.  But to me, that's half the fun!  Trying new stuff!

So in the end, I decided that my best was all I could do.  I don't have enough space to truly keep this from happening. 

I made my lists of companion plants and started laying things out, it got messy and spread out. 
I really wanted to do things to scale so that I wouldn't miscalculate.  But let's face it - me, graph paper -ain't happenin'.

So I hit up the Internet for garden planning software.  I looked at a just two.  One was complete garbage but the it was dreamy!  (translation=easy)  I found it at none other than Mother Earth News.  I should have known!  They offer a free 30 day trial.  After that, it is a $25 annual subscription.  In case you are interested you can Click Here

And if you are wondering, I get nothing for mentioning them and have no affiliation whatsoever. Just sharin'.

Computer stuff doesn't scare me in the least but if it does you, no worries really.  It just walks you right thru.  You can add your varieties, change the default spacing etc.  Planting timelines go by your climate and your area even.  Once I got going, it was pretty darn fun! 

I know you will not be able to actually read this...but here it is!  And it's perfectly to scale with our perennial crops even! 
See...told ya it looks small.  But on the computer screen it's not and of course I had to print it on one sheet.  Phew!  All done!!

Our garden is 76*38 and growing!  At least if I have my way it will.  (I actually thought it was bigger!)  I really want a grain patch somewhere.  We haven't had room to plant our own corn in 2 years.  We can go wider with the garden, but any longer and we will be running into our fruit trees.  Gotta have those!

So how is everyone elses planning coming along?  Do you have any software or tools that you love to use?

And before you tease, I am so not a Type A (anymore)!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Coop Progress

It's been a while since I posted any Chicken Coop pictures and seeing as how it's about time to get the peeps ordered, I thought I'd show you where things stand now.

The Coop measures roughly 8*12 feet.  The walls are sheet metal.  Pig Pen thought this would be easier to clean.  He hung the roosts this weekend!  He foraged for the limbs in the woods and came up with ones that seemed about the right size.  They range from 1.5 inches up to 3.  He is going to make little ramps connecting them.
Looks a bit messy right now, work in progress!  However this is the door leading into the Coop thru the garage.  The roosts are to the right.
Here is the little 'doggie door' and door leading out.  I didn't take any outdoor shots because the ground is froze solid and all it would show is the post holes he dug a few weeks ago.  The outside will be fenced on the sides and top measuring about 9*24 feet. 
Then of course we are fencing the entire back portion of the yard for more roaming room too.  But at least with the enclosure, they can come and go even if we aren't home during the day and they should be safe from predators. 

He is going to fence off the garden as well.  Yup, a fence within a fence within a fence.  (Three!)  It would be nice to let them truly free-range, but I am pretty certain we would be chicken-free in no time if so!

All three windows still need to be reinforced.  The Coop is heated along with the rest of the garage by this:
He built his own wood burner last year.  It works pretty darn good!  The garage maintains a temperature of roughly 60 to 70 degrees.  That should be good for the girls, huh?  Hopefully with three windows and if needed, some extra lighting during the winter, we may (fingers crossed) see eggs thru out the winter months too.

Stainless Steel countertops are in the works also.  For ya know...
We are very excited to get our peeps!  Hopefully we will be ordering them within the next two weeks!  Plenty of time for him to build the brooder and hang the heat lamp!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Seed Storage???

The other day, Erin at Garden Now - Think Later, posed the question "How do YOU store your seeds?".  If you are looking for really should check it out!  I've hired her to come and 'fix' me.  She just doesn't know it yet and the pay is horrible!  :o)

Later in the day, MamaPea at A Homegrown Journal, took "The Challenge" and posted her seed storage technique.  Yet another post you really should look at if you are inclined towards seed saving!

And don't forget to read the comments for both of these posts!  There were some great ideas shared by fellow bloggers!

I am woefully failing in the seed saving area.  However, I did order heirloom seeds this year for the first time!  Wooohooo!  Did ya catch the last part:  'for the first time'?

So here is how I currently store my seeds:
Huh...imagine that...a bubble wrap envelope.
But the exciting part is they came in this week!

A few years ago I was cleaning a closet and found a random packet of beet seeds amongst office supplies.  I also have some seeds left over from last year -that I can't find!  S.O.S!

I do keep a Journal.  I've been doing this for about four years now.  It's invaluable.  If for nothing else it helps me to remember things my brain dumps every night when I sleep.  Or zone out, or get distracted, or -where was I?

Oh yes.  And then of course I started blogging!  It serves as a garden journal too.

I am diligently adding to my library and have no intention of stopping :)  That counts for something, right?  Surely there is some redemption in that?

And let's not leave out that YOU GUYS are the most amazing folks!  The doors you've opened, the ideas you've shared, my money you've spent!  OK, we need to talk about that one!!! 
Can you guess what I'll be doing this week?  Purchasing a 21 foot three ring binder?  Oh, and looking for mushrooms.  Hehee! 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Lawdy, Lawdy! or Lawdee Lawdee?

Now far be it from me to Lawd anything over anyone.  But ya know...sometimes ya just got to! 

Let's face it...the ole gray mare is just plain old!

How's about a little stroll down memory lane...
It started many years ago as acquaintance.  But a true bond developed with a simple note passed in Algebra class.  I think it had something to do with baseball and bases, but I could be wrong ;o)
Hey, Julee -what 'base' would this be considered going to?

For those of you wondering what the heck she is doing on the floor rolling around in money, she didn't hit the jackpot.  Well, maybe she did:
Bachelorette Party....these were the 'clean' ones.  :o)  Gosh I hope Holli and Colton are standing beside you right now!!!
We had alot of fun back then.  Every morning our Senior year, we gave the announcements over the intercom.  It was super cool!  We got to play music first and then launch.  Yes, on several occasions, the Principal would come around the corner and give us the evil stink eye over our choice of music.  Oops!
With hair like that, I am sure you can imagine what type of music was screaming thru the school!  Geez, his hair was almost as big as hers! 

You make me laugh, you make me cry, and I love it when you sing to me.   We've had alot of fun together.  Being older and wiser now, "Fun" by definition has changed, hasn't it?  But I can't wait to keep on going!

We have always been there for each other. 
When it really counts especially!
You are more beautiful on the inside than you are on the outside. 
And I love you with all my heart.

You found the right man!  God Bless Gardener!  
You have a wonderful family...
and you are a wonderful Mother. 
So my friend, another decade has gone by. 
We YOU are older now, but are you wiser?
Our 30th
You have always been able to get me to do the darndest things. 
Next time, I get to pick.

So ARE you wiser now? 
Cuz you still don't know how to spell your own name...
Lawdee, Lawdee...Look Who's FORTY? 
Happy Birthday, Ms. Julee with two E's.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Keeping Time and Chicken Humor

I keep telling myself that my lack of focus is going to pass soon.  Got to get it together!!

So after running around all day and hoping my dishes would magically clean themselves by the time I got home (they didn't), I decided it was time to get the old wall calendar down and the new one up!
Notice anything odd about that picture?  It's been on the same page for almost a year!  Apparently time really does get by me!

A few weeks ago, I ordered a new calendar.  Today it got a proper home!  And I vow to change it monthly.  If any one minds giving me a reminder to change it monthly, I'm OK with that!
This sparkly new calendar is by ChickenMama Designs.  If you haven't seen it yet, you hop on over and order one!  Her photography is stunning!  Pig Pen especially liked the fact that moose and deer hunt openers in MN are noted :o)  My favorite was the Mother's and Father's Day pictures.  So sweet!

Since I am on the subject of ChickenMama, I thought I would share a great laugh she gave me today.  A little background first though.  She graciously volunteered her expertise in the Chicken Pickin' we've got going on here.  So I emailed her a few questions.  Since we are contemplating doing meat birds (the red broilers not the Chucky Chickens) and layers, my questions were geared towards the 'how to' on feed etc.   From what I have read up on so far, the meat birds require certain feed-needs that the layers don't.  I was concerned about this do you separate the feed when you only have one coop?  It's not like feeding your dogs out of different bowls, right?

Well, ChickenMama had a few thoughts on this...but...the part that got me was this (taken directly from her email):
You might have to change your name from Apple Pie Gal to Chicken Pot Pie Gal if you really get into chicken farming!  ;)  
I don't care who ya are...that right there is funny!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Four More Years?

No, that's not a Political Cry.  Four years ago this week, we purchased our home.  We had basic requirements:  Land, out buildings, big kitchen.  At the time I was a Realtor.  We committed the cardinal sin of purchasing the first and only house we looked at.  How's that for taking your own advice?  :o)

Warning:  Long Picture Post

We weren't picky and we weren't scared.  Here is what the second floor looked like:
Master Bedroom...for "Shrimpy" People
Second Bedroom
Third Bedroom
The main structure of the house, including the upstairs, is over 150 years old.  Suffice it to say, there was one heat vent and one pass thru vent.  No insulation.

Less than 24 hours of closing, here is how the neighbors met us:
We didn't mess around!  And thankfully, we had lots of help.  Lots.  Pig Pen, Pops, his family and friends.  These guys worked their fannies off!  Seriously...

Ryan and Keith got the honor of throwing the first sledge hammer and crow bar:
And the mess....oh my gosh...I still remember that first hammer crash!  Because we forgot to cover the 'pass thru' vent and it all came piling down thru it and straight into my livingroom!  Makes me laugh...  :o)
Old Master Bedroom/Window
Master Bedroom Window gone...He's like a monkey up there!

Pops and Pig Pen framing in old window.

Hallway and Second Bedroom gone!  Hey, we found a hidden window too!

Lots of stuff went down "The Slide"

LLL roasting marshmallows...

Hey look...we raised the ceiling so Pig Pen wouldn't bump his head!

And we leveled the floors!  Funny, main level was fine...hmmm
Can you see the difference???

First piece of drywall goes up!  Did ya notice the INSULATION?
It took exactly ONE MONTH.  But we went from this:
Two side windows where large one used to be.
King Size Bed  Heehehee!
The hallway is forever gone.  The little green bedroom is now this area:

It is now one, very large master bedroom.  The second bedroom, which is not now one really nice sized walk-in closet!  :0)

All the work was done mostly on nights and weekends.  This is just one of many projects.  But this one was by far the biggest yet.  As soon as this was done, we ripped out the full bath and front bedroom.  That's another storey...

So it's been four years and after that mess, now you know why I shudder at the thought of doing the livingroom.  It's in the same condition (or lack thereof).  Ugh....

Well on the bright side, we did it together!  With lots and lots of help.  Did I mention that?  Thank you, All!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What'll Be?

Ya know how we all seem to have been struck by that bug?  The one that befuddles our brains and makes us completely -dare I say- useless?

Funny how we go from mad gardener, to crazy canner, to dead man walkin', to kaput!  It's the weather, I know!
Well I have been working on this dang thing since Monday! 
And it's still not done!  But here's why:

It measures 39.5 x 24.5 inches.  Sorta big for a wall hanging!  So my dilemma is, do I just keep going and make it a lap quilt?  Or find a good sized wall to hang it on?  More like a door...but OK!

I could find a really neat block in my new book and just keep going.  But that might take me weeks at this pace!  Or simply bat it, back it, quilt it, bind and gag it, hang it.

What do you think?  I think I'm gonna read a book.  Maybe I will make it thru one chapter!