Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday

  • The commute to the big city still sucks
  • Reba laid her 3rd egg today!!  She is very consistent for a beginner!
  • I am glad that all my cyber-friends are safe and sustained no major damage from Irene
  • I am taking a vacation day this Friday to make it an extra long weekend!  (Only the 3rd day I've taken this year - hubby's work is so busy - not complaining - that he can't take any time off.  I still have 2-1/2 weeks left to take)
  • I can't believe the NFL pre-season is over this week
  • I can't believe the NFL regular season starts next week
  • YAY!
  • August 30th??  Really??  Already??
  • Hope everyone had a great day today!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Go Reba!!!

FINALLY!!!  Our first egg!!!  Laid at 10:15 AM ET this morning by our Production Red - Reba:

Poor thing has been putting up a racket for two days...this morning she was making even MORE noise (which we didn't think was possible!!).  She was in and out of the nesting box...squawking and carrying on.  She finally went in and was quiet...so of course I had to go investigate...she was in there about 20 minutes, and at one point I thought she was going to fall asleep....then she 1/2 stood up and looked like she pooped - so I'm thinking, great....she is going to lay the egg right in the poo!!  Then she let out this horror movie squawk/scream, my plaque starting moving through my veins again (The Great Outdoors anyone?!?), and started walking out of the nesting box....as I peered inside, I had to choke back tears - there was our first home grown, farm raised, all natural egg.  Sigh....I feel like a proud mother hen :-)

Only took 24 weeks, but now we are on the road to raising our own food, outside of what we grow in the vegetable garden.  I am just beside myself!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

How do you get a garden to produce?

Ignore it for about 3 days...

Got lots more tomatoes on the vine - might have enough to car one jar!!  So, how do you can tomatoes??  I have never done it :-)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

All is okay

I am in the big city today - and yes, I felt the earthquake all the way down here.  Just a mild shaking of our building.  Hubby said he felt it at his work too.  Hopefully everything is okay at the house - will find out later...

Leigh - hope you are ok...if you get a chance, let us know.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Quick Catch Up

Last Friday was our 5th anniversary!  Can you guess what our wedding song was?? (Hint:  title of blog?)

Friday night was the usual hang out by the fire and have a few beverages and watch the Panthers play - oops, I mean get beat - but that's okay because they won their first pre-season game last week.  We are big NFL nuts.  We both root for the Panthers (duh) and I am also a Dallas Cowboys fan (since I was a kid) and hubby is a long-time Buffalo Bills fan.

Since my husband works a lot of hours this time of year, we decided to celebrate on Saturday.  We found a new place to hang out that isn't too far away - about 25 minutes or so.  Believe me, out here, that is close!  They have pool tables, dart boards, etc; so we played a few games of pool, had a few drinks and were still home in time to lock up the chickies (no APG, not one egg yet...).

So, needless to say, not much got done around the ole homestead this weekend.  We kinda took the weekend off :-)

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I am fairly new to this "homesteading" thing...it began last winter for me.  When we moved out here to the country three years ago, I didn't know that is what we were doing...but now I am hooked.

Gardening has always been fun for me - therapeutic.  I learned about gardening from my maternal grandmother.  They had a one acre corner lot in a subdivision, but she was always outside tending to her flowers and shrubs, and the small vegetable patch she had in the backyard by the patio surrounding their inground pool.  I was just a kid, so I didn't pay too much attention to the finer points...but it stuck with me.  When I moved out on my own, I lived in a tiny mobile home in a mobile home park on a tiny corner lot.  No room for a vegetable garden, but I did surround the front of the house with lots of flowers and shrubs.  People would actually stop and tell me how pretty they all were if they were taking a walk by.  When I moved out to NM, we lived in an apartment, but I still had to do SOMETHING garden related.  So I planted some flowers and a cherry tomato plant in pots on the balcony.

When we moved to NC and finally had a house with a backyard, I was able to have a small vegetable garden in some raised beds that my husband (boyfriend at the time) built for me.  And I went CRAZY planting all manner of flowers and shrubs all around the house.  My sunflowers grew over my head - so big in fact, that I could not cut them down after the season was done with my pruners....I needed a saw!  My roses grew big and beautiful...my gardenias flourished...my geraniums and snapdragons seeded themselves and kept coming back every year...I loved it.

Then we moved out to the country, to ten virgin acres covered with trees.  Perfect - I thought to myself - a blank canvas!!  Little, by little, I started planting things....roses, mums, daffodils...then I found new things like goose-neck loosestrife...foxglove...columbine...which led to more gardenias, dahlias, bleeding hearts, black-eyed susans, purple coneflowers, azaleas.  Most of these are still doing very well...the foxglove did not come back this year though...and I have not been able to get the columbine to come back either....and the dahlias struggled last year and gave up this year...but overall, I am happy with my flowers and shrubs.

Enter the vegetable garden.

The first year, we didn't have one - we moved here the beginning of July, too late to start.  The following year, I was determined to grow fresh vegetables for my family to eat during the warmer months.  I staked out my plot - 5 X 20.  My future SIL and I turned the soil (ie., CLAY), my husband rototilled it into smaller chunks, we added peat and compost and dirt (you know, the dark stuff!!).  I planted all my seeds and stood back to announce I was finished planting.....and I saw a river running through the middle of the plot.  The inflatable pool we were filling apparently was not as level as we thought and one side caved in and let loose a waterfall....right through my freshly seeded garden plot!!  I could have sat down and cried....I had a few seeds left over so I did my best to fill in the soggy blank spots and hoped for the best.  Which did not materialize.  It was so hot that the only thing that grew in abundance were weeds.  We managed to get a few beans and a couple tomatoes and that was that.

Summer #2 - I asked my husband to make me some raised beds to avoid runoff when it rained heavily (or when the pool collapsed) so he did.  This also gave us the opportunity to put more dark dirt in there than we could ever hope to till into the clay in the ground plot.  I planted my seeds, and we also planted some transplants from a local nursery (just in case).  Then we had a couple of trips we needed to take for family weddings that spanned from Buffalo, NY to Key West, FL on back-to-back weekends...the kids did not water as well as we had hoped they would so needless to say, we did not get much out of that garden either.  We got a little more than the previous year, but not what I had hoped for....so I asked my husband to build a greenhouse over the raised beds so we could get an earlier start....and (this is one reason I love him so much) he did.

Summer #3 - this summer...I was able to begin planting the end of January - which helped my SAD (seasonal affective disorder) immensely!  Things started coming up all green and beautiful!  I even planted some things I had never planted before - carrots, onions and garlic.  I don't like carrots, but my husband does.  The onion tops died and fell over and when I pulled them out, they were only marginally larger than when I planted the sets.  The garlic didn't get bigger either (although I did use a store bought garlic bulb).  The carrots didn't get very long - now I know I have to "fluff" the soil much deeper for them.  We got a little bit of lettuce, but it got too hot and it bolted....the broccoli looked promising, then it bolted.  We did get about 1/2 pound of red new potatoes (YUM) and one yellow squash so far....we have been getting a cucumber about every 3 to 4 days now for a couple of weeks and just enough tomatoes to have some chopped tomatoes and cucumbers for dinner with a enough left over to have for lunch the next day.  The peppers have just started blooming, so I am hoping to get some in the next few weeks.

So, step by little step, we are getting there.  I am very proud of one thing this year - everything in the garden was planted by seed directly into the beds and they grew.  That is a major accomplishment for me - no seed starting indoors (can't get past the damping off), no nursery transplants...I just wish we could grow enough to save it for later use - you know, enough to can something!!  But we will get there.

The thing that prompted this whole thought process, and post, is the current book I am reading.  "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver.  I am sure most, if not all, of you have already read it - remember, I am a homesteading newbie!!!  I found it amazing what they were able to do in one year - and even their children got involved!!  I am in awe...

There is nothing I would like better than to quit my job and do this homesteading stuff full time.  But that is not practical, so all I can do is take it in pieces...add a little here and there....over the winter, I learned to make my own butter, and bake bread.  Two things I never even thought to try myself.  Then we added the vegetable garden....we are getting there.  In the spring, we planted blueberry bushes and added chickens to the mix.  I am not sure what the next step will be....a pig maybe?  We are extremely fond of all things pork :-)

I think a "thank you" is in order to all of you for cheering me on, commiserating with me, and letting me share in your successes and failures.  You are all an inspiration to me and you keep me on the right track every time I think I have gone batty and should step off this homestead train. 

P.S.  STILL no eggs....but I keep hoping :-)

Friday, August 12, 2011




R A I N !!

For almost an hour now!


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tidbit Tuesdays

  • Remember the rain we were supposed to get?  Yup....not sure where it went, but it was not here.
  • Oh, and remember how we were supposed to move into a rainy trend?  Yup...not sure where it is going, but it is not here.  Sunday is our next significant chance of rain....
  • Oh, remember how I said I was going to try to be more UPbeat?  Yup....not happening....sorry.
  • Eggs??  Anyone???  Not yet....
  • Hope you're having a better Tidbit Tuesday that I am!!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Sorry about my lack of posts....this weather has really gotten to me.  I feel like it is winter being cooped up.  And to add insult to injury, the central air in our home broke down on Wednesday at high noon!  Wow - did it get hot inside!!  Luckily, I had vaguely remembered signing up for a home buyer's protection plan when we bought the house 3 years ago.  Turns out we did - for an extra 60 months.  Woo hoo!  We only had to pay the deductible ($100) and the guy came at 6PM and was able to fix it then and there.  YAY!!  So, by then it was 91F INSIDE....took 2 hours of continuous running to bring it back down to 74F, where we usually keep it.

The chickens are handling the heat quite well, I must say.  Although it probably helps to put big ice chunks in their waterer :-)  Still no eggs yet....

We have been able to harvest a little bit from the vegetable garden - 5 cucumbers, about a dozen tomatoes (Romas and cherry) and some tiny carrots - and we have a couple of yellow squashes that should be ready today or tomorrow.  OH!  And I threw some cantaloupe seeds into the compost bin and guess what they did?  They sprouted :-)  So we have beautiful cantaloupe plants growing in the compost bin LOL!  I am going to leave them there and see what they do.  There are even a few flowers on them already. 

I am trying hard to keep my head above water, so to speak.  Trying to look at the good instead of obsessing about the bad....it's hard to do!  Anyway, we are supposed to be in a streak of rain for the next week - anywhere from a 30% chance each day, to 60% (over the weekend - go figure!  Ooops - sorry...try to be UPbeat....).  Temps should be in the upper 80s to lower 90s, so we will get a little relief.  At this point, I will take it!!

I know a lot of us are in this same boat right now - which is pretty amazing given we are scattered around the country.  I hope this is not trending to be the norm - if it is, that is all the more reason to learn self-sufficiency, even on a small scale.  I am determined to learn how for me and my husband.  And any other family or friends who may need it.  We have always had an "open door" policy for those we love.  No matter what happens, they always have a place to go.  If we don't have room, we will make room.

Ok, now that I am rambling, I will wrap this up with a shot of some of our "bounty":

Stay cool!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Doing the squat!

Loretta just did "the squat"!!!!  Eggs soon!!!  Yippee!!!!