Thursday, February 24, 2011


I read an interesting post this morning on Jenna's blog over at Cold Antler Farm...and I have to say, it was very thought provoking.   Ever since we moved out to our little 10 acres in the country, I have had this urge to be more self-sufficient, even though I wasn't exactly sure where it was coming from. 

I was born in a city; raised in the suburbs; lived in the suburbs when I moved out of my parents house; moved to a larger city; moved to an even larger city; and then moved out to the country (which, by the way, is the LAST TIME I will move!).  It's not like I spent a lot of time on a farm or even in the rural countryside.  When we were growing up, there was a farm about a mile from our subdivision - Ben Heckman's farm.  He must surely have passed by now - God rest his soul.  But we would get on our bikes, peddle to his farm to buy eggs, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers and the like.  That was pretty much the limit to my farm exposure as a kid.

But in Jenna's post, she talks about how society is changing so rapidly that innovation seems to be pushing us in the wrong direction.  Now I get it!  That is what has been niggling at the back corners of my brain since we moved here 2-1/2 years ago....people are too stressed and rude, traffic is a nightmare, we spend so much of our time trying to be here and do that, which necessitates the need for more technology...PDAs, smart phones, iThis, iThats, laptops, etc.  We have become slaves to technology - and not for our benefit, as most people would like to think.  People are so "me oriented" they no longer know what it feels like to hold a door open for the next person, nope - they have to go!  Now!  There is somewhere else they have to be!  REALLY??  You couldn't wait for 5 more seconds so you didn't let the door slam into the face of a mother trying to figure out how she was going to get her child in their stroller through the heavy glass door that is flying into her?

My grandparents would reach out from their graves to slap me if I did that...I was raised by the Golden Rule.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  How would they like to have that door slammed on them while they were carrying their groceries?  Not too good, I would imagine.  I was raised to say "please" and "thank you" in abundance...if you are in line at the grocery store with a cart full of groceries, and the person behind you has 3 things, let them ahead of you.  When someone is trying to merge onto the highway next to you, slow down to let them in or better yet, move to the left lane - don't run them off the road (as I have had done to me COUNTLESS times on my 140 mile commute to work)...Ask for help - don't demand it.  You know why?  It is called manKIND.  We need to get back to our values...they got lost in the technology somewhere...I guess people think they can blame the cell phone call for them tripping into a fountain in the mall...and not take the blame themselves.  We need accountability - no more passing the buck.  If you make a mistake, own it.  Do your best to correct the wrong if you can.

I would love nothing better than to sequester myself here on our land and not deal with society except on a limited basis (going to town for supplies, etc.).  At least until society decides they have strayed too far down the wrong path and will work to get back to the basics...back to being manKIND...

I know we all can fall victim to being sucked into the moment...but realize that moment, when you are being rude and self-obsessed, there is a beautiful sunset going on that you are missing...

or a new flower in your garden has bloomed and you are missing out on it...

or your pet has finally drifted off into a peaceful sleep and you are missing it...

You tell me - is it really worth it?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Busy, busy, busy!

We had some phenomenal weather last weekend, so we took advantage and did a bunch of stuff outdoors.  My husband had a couple pieces of heavy equipment dropped off on Friday.  He fixed the driveway - which is an annual task when you have a 600 ft. long gravel driveway!  And guess who forgot to take a picture....yep - that would be me.  Oh well...

But I did get a couple of pictures:

Here, he is grading out the area for the chicken coop and yard in the foreground.  We also staked out where the coop and surrounding fence will go.  Chickens in June - YAY!  In the back, where the other piece of equipment is, he is going to build a small pole barn to house the yard and outdoor equipment.  We will use our own pine trees as the poles and may even cut our own boards from trees on our land for the sides and roof.  Still a work in progress...

And while he was having fun with his "toys", I set to work in the greenhouse.  I cleaned up the raised beds, tilled it up, added some homegrown compost I have been making for about a year-and-a-half now, and sectioned it off.  I am going to try the "gardening by the foot" method this year.  It certainly does seem to take less time, even though you are still working with the same amount of space overall:

The bottom row is onions, garlic, onions and lettuce (L to R).  The only square that is planted on the top row is the right-most one - I found some potatoes still growing when I tilled it, so I put them back in the see what they will do.  In the house, I have some flowers and herbs started - there are little green sprouts everywhere!  Snapdragons, Petunias, Marigolds, Thyme, Oregano and Tarragon.  Hurry spring!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Warmer Weather

This past weekend was so nice!  We finally broke into the 50s, so that meant getting some seeds planted :-)  A week ago, I couldn't stand it any longer - I had to get something growing.  So I planted a few herb seeds - oregano, tarragon and thyme.  I planted the seeds on Sunday - by Wednesday, little tiny green shoots were beginning to grow.  I was ecstatic!  They are still very tiny a week later, but still growing.

Yesterday, I broke out the egg cartons I had been saving and planted some flower seeds - Snapdragons, Marigolds and Petunias.  I am looking forward to seeing A LOT of little green shoots in the next week to ten days!

Outside, my mums have started coming back, and there are buds on my rose bushes and forsythia.  Of course my daffodils are still pushing up and there are even a few flower buds working their way toward blooming.  The temps are supposed to stay in the 50s all week, even approaching 70 by week's end.  Next weekend, I plan to start some tomatoes and peppers indoors.

Happy spring!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Signs of Spring?!

Just found this outside:


Cast of Characters - Part 2

We have three cats.  Princess, Zoe and Tigger.  We used to have four - but we had to put Tessa down last fall.  She was 16 years old and developed either diabetes or hyperthyroidism and the vet agreed that if we decided to treat whichever she had, it would not be worth it in the long - perhaps short - run.  She was always a large cat (about 12-13 lbs.), but had lost a significant amount of weight in just a few short months.  So, after agonizing over the decision, we decided to have her put down.  She is now in our "pet cemetery" on our property.  Rest in peace my sweet Tessa:

Next, we have Princess - she is 18 years old!  Yup, she is like the Energizer Bunny....just keeps going, and going, and going...We know her day is coming soon, all she does is eat, sleep and use the litter box.  She no longer plays, but will still come to you when she wants some affection.  We are pretty sure she can no longer hear, but her eyesight is still spot on.  In the meantime, we just let her be.

Both of these cats were adopted as well - Princess from the shelter, and Tessa from a veterinary hospital I worked at at the time.  Can you tell we love animals?!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Love My Husband

My husband is very handy.  I had mentioned to him that I would like a wood cabinet on my side of the sink to keep my everyday stuff in - instead of on the counter.  (Our home does not have a whole lot of counter/cabinet space.)  So, this weekend he did just that:

He "acquired" the wood at work - from a very large pallet.  Then he came up with this design and slapped it together.  Add a little stain, and voila!

Even though it is simple, and only took a few hours to build and finish, I absolutely love it!  I love all things wood.  Next year, when we add on to the house to make the kitchen bigger, I cannot wait to have all new, wood cabinets.  I never understood why some people paint wood....why would you cover up something so naturally beautiful??  Just a little bit stain, to add some color, is all you need.  Let that wood grain shine through!  Oh well, to each his own I guess.

I also baked some more bread on Sunday while he built this for me, and before the Super Bowl festivities (just me and hubby!).  Even though none of our teams were in the big game (my teams are the Dallas Cowboys and Carolina Panthers and his are the Buffalo Bills and the Panthers), we are such football fans that we had to watch as much of the game as we could before having to get to sleep - we had an early day on Monday with work.  I also planted some lettuce seeds in one of the garden beds inside the greenhouse - just to see what will happen.  And to get s-o-m-e-t-h-i-n-g growing, I started my herb seeds inside.  Hopefully there will be some green popping by next weekend!

Today is trying to be nice outside.  We are supposed to get up to about 45 degrees, but it is WINDY.  They are forecasting snow, again, this Friday....but then it looks like we will finally get to where we are supposed to be this time of year - in the 50s during the day, and around 30 at night.  Fingers crossed!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Cast of Characters - Part 1

I thought I would introduce you to the cast of characters here at Broken Road.  First, we have Sasha.  My daughter and I adopted her in 2004 at the age of 10 weeks:

She is part German Shepherd, part Chow Chow (her tongue is black and pink splotches and she has a curly tail!).  She is now SEVEN years old?!?!  Wow....time flies.  She is great dog.  And loves her Mommy :-)  However, she is prone to stomach issues - which we have finally determined are caused in large part by artificial dyes in dog food.   So, after reading the label of EVERY bag of dog food in the store aisles, we have finally found one food that seems to agree with her - Purina Pro Plan Lamb & Rice Formula.  But boy is it expensive!  And every few weeks, she gets tired (read bored) with it, so we have to "spice" it up by putting some plain yogurt on it, or some crumbled up potato chips, etc. just to get her to eat it....the things we do for our pets!

Ahhhh....riding in the Jeep with her head out the window - life is SWEET!
Such a pretty puppy dog!
Then we have Mika (pronounced mee-ka).  The wild child.  After my husband and I got married, he decided Sasha needed a playmate during the day while we were both at work.  We were still living in the big city then.  So, we went back to the shelter and he found this one:

Mika was also around 10 weeks old when we adopted her in 2007.  So cute!  Yeah, when she's sleeping:

Yup - that is her favorite sleeping position LOL!  Mika is a Yellow Lab and German Shepherd mix; mostly lab traits though (webbed toes, large muscular upper torso, hates to have her feet touched).  I am still waiting for her to "grow out" of her puppy phase - the barking insanely when someone shows up at the house, the whipping and subsequent beating of her whip-like tail when she is happy or worked up, and the never-ending energy...I get tired just watching her!

But they are our babies, and we love them to a fault.  Hey, what can I say - we LOVE animals!

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I want chickens.  Bad.  Since I started perusing all of these blogs, I just have this need for chickens.  So I purchased a copy of Jenna's Chick Days and now I want them even more.  I have nothing yet - no coop, no feed, no straw or wood shavings...but I have picked out the spot where I want the coop.  And my husband is working on a design for the coop.  It's a start.

Originally, I thought it would be so neat to raise them from day-old chicks.  All the little poufs of fuzz, with their little cheep cheep noises....Yeah - hello?!  You have 2 large dogs and 3 cats?!!?  What was I now I am looking at pullets or young hens who have already started laying.  I know they are more expensive, but I need to start outdoors with them.  Then all I have to worry about are the foxes, raccoons, possums and hawks. :-\  Oh, and don't forget the snow and frigid temps....SIGH.

Someday....hopefully soon!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Channeling Spring

I am not a winter person.  I do not like the snow or the cold.  I do not like having to put on four layers of clothing before going outside.  I was born and raised in Upstate NY - I lived there until I was 30.  I never reached the point of having my "blood thicken" so that the cold did not affect me as much.

As I sit here and look at the thermometer which reads 49 degrees, I am longing for warmer weather.  This winter has been very cold and snowy for being in NC.  I am ready for spring!

Last fall, I had my husband build me a hoop greenhouse in the hopes of having some cool weather veggies over the winter.  Well, one thing led to another, time gets away from you and before you know it the cold weather has descended and it is too cold to start anything.  So here I sit, just itching to get something growing.

I had him build it over two of our three raised beds he made for me last year.  I found the "plans" on the Internet and it ended up costing about $150 ($94 of that was for the 100 ft. roll of plastic - of which we only needed about 20 ft.).

Last weekend, when we went shopping, they had seeds out!!

Yay!  Flowers!
Looks good enough to eat - doesn't it?!
Trying something new this year...
Yeah - I went a little nuts :-)  My husband rolled his eyes, but I simply said, "Now I won't have to buy any flowers at Lowe's and we will have a full vegetable garden!"  Hopefully this year, I will have enough to freeze or can.  I drool when I read Mama Pea's posts about all the wonderful vegetables and fruit she is able to enjoy all year long!  We have not had much success the past two years since we moved out to the country.  The soil has been less than desirable - no dirt!  All clay....first year we did ok, but I spent most of my time yanking up weeds.  Last year, we tried the raised beds and did marginally better, but we didn't quite get the soil right - plus it was HOT.  So I am looking forward to a better year - third time's a charm, right?!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Learning New Things and Revisiting the Old Ones

Over the holidays, I learned a few new things.  I learned how to make butter from whipping cream and a Mason jar....really neat!  I also learned how to make bread.  This is something I always wanted to do, but never thought I had the time.  Well, now that my daughter has moved out on her own, I am finding I have "extra" time on my hands. J

I am not a fan of white bread, so I dug out my trusty Betty Crocker cookbook and found a honey wheat bread recipe.  And this is what happened:

Oh my goodness!  It was out of this world!!  So of course now my husband only wants the homemade stuff - what have I gotten myself into?!  Seriously though, it did turn out incredible (if I do say so myself)...I also made a batch of French bread which turned out well - but did not seem worth the effort...I guess because the loaves are so skinny.

I have also decided to get back into crafts.  It has been 10 years since I held a crochet hook or knitting needles in my hands.  So, I crocheted this scarf for my daughter:

This shows the color she chose - it was a variegated purple and deep blue color.  And here is the finished scarf:

The picture came out a little dark, but I was very pleased with my work.  It had been a LONG time!  And now that I have my confidence back, I am knitting another scarf that is worked in a berry stitch pattern.  I saw it on Mama Pea's blog and she kindly shared the pattern with me.  I forgot how much more time knitting takes than crocheting...I am hoping to have it finished by the time I start planting the garden!