Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I don't know if it was because of all the rain we had this spring, or the cooler weather we had during that time, but there is a proliferation of BUGS this year.  Since we moved from the big city, out into the country, I definitely noticed an increase in the amount of bugs.  Not only that, but the number of different bugs we encounter here is significantly higher than anything we saw in the city.

One of the big differences, I am certain, is the amount of wooded acreage we now have.  We live on 10.25 acres - approximately 8 - 8.5 of that is woods.  As such, there are a lot of spiders, bees, wasps, hornets, flies, mosquitoes, worm thingies hanging from the tree branches, as well as beetles, aphids, moths, snails, slugs, and, oh....CHIGGERS.  O-M-G!!!  These little buggers are horrible!!  They are so tiny, you can only see them when you are wearing a white tee shirt.  And when they crawl over your skin, it feels like they are just biting their way over you.  And let me tell you - when they do bite you, look out!  Well, they don't actually "bite" or "sting" you - they feed off you.  GROSS!  And it takes WEEKS, yes weeks, for the bites to go away or even to stop itching.  And the itch is so intense, you want to remove the body part that has the bite.  Where do they bite?  The tenderest, warmest skin it can find - most times when it encounters an obstruction, like an elastic know what I mean...nice, huh?!?!

I have done a lot of research on these minute, dastardly creatures.  And there is a plethora of information out there about how they feed and why the "bites" are so hideously itchy and painful!  But what I cannot seem to find, is how to control them.  Or better yet, eradicate them!  Everything I have read says they are mainly found in high grasses.  So, in a field, yes.  I understand that.  But, we seem to find most of them in our front yard where there is NO high grass - hmmm.....the articles also say that they seem to congregate in one area, so if they are bothering you, just move somewhere else - problem solved!  NOT.

We do not go outside without covering ourselves, head to toe, with 40% Deet.  Anything less is like candy to them.  Even with the high test spray, we still get munched on.  Maybe not as much, but it still happens.  And we can't spray that stuff on the dogs, so they have no protection other than the flea treatment they get every three weeks in the warmer weather (we continue to do it every four weeks through the winter as well).  On top of that, I carry one of those Off fans they came out with last year as added protection....yah....right....

So, after months of getting literally eaten alive - both me and my husband - and the poor dogs - we decided we had to do SOMETHING.  So, I admit it - we took the so-non-homesteady route in the hopes of getting some control over our yard.  Hey - if they want to live in the 8 wooded acres, fine by me.  But the couple of acres surrounding our house, yard and pool - that is now OFF LIMITS!  Hopefully, this will help.

As I sit here itching just from writing about it, I am hopeful that having the chickens here next spring, before the insect population has a chance to explode, will help.  We did not get them until the middle of May, after everything had a chance to reproduce in extreme quantities.

I wish we could have found an organic solution.  There may be one out there yet - I keep looking as I am not a big fan of chemicals and pesticides either.  Especially with our pets and now the chickens.  But, by the same token, I am not ready to sacrifice my skin to these creatures any longer.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday

  1. Can you believe it's been a week since I started the "Tidbit Tuesday"??
  2. Looking forward to fresh eggs in about a month!!
  3. My daughter will turn 20 years old one month from tomorrow - my how the time does fly!
  4. I love fireworks - looking forward to this coming weekend
  5. The dogs do not like fireworks - but they just have to deal each year - it's only one night!!
  6. I hope the chickens are ok with the fireworks...hmmmm....

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Where did the week go??

I guess I need to get on the ball - I didn't realize my last post was on Tuesday!!  Sorry!!

The week just got away from's not like there was anything crazy going on.  I didn't have to commute to the big city since my boss was out of town.  But things were still quite busy at work.  I didn't really get much done around the house or yard either, so I'm not sure where the time went!

About a week ago, we noticed some of the blueberries were starting to ripen.  Actually, there was one really big, fat, blue, juicy looking berry that I wanted to pick so, last night, I noticed there were a few more looking the same.  I said to my husband, I think we should pick these before they rot on the bush.  He agreed.  We picked the 6 or 7 ripe berries, and proceeded to eat them, right then and there!  Sorry - no pics!  There was no time to run and get the camera in the split second between picking them and eating them.  And let me tell you - were they ever DELISH!!  There are a lot of berries on the two bushes that are in varying stages of ripening.  We are looking forward to picking - and eating - many more this year!  Love them blueberries :-)

Today, we will be putting more sand in the chicken run.  Hubby stopped at the home improvement store on his way home and picked up twelve 50-lb. bags.  Only cost $4 - I had a gift card from Christmas that I had not used yet as this particular store is pretty far from us - he happened to be near one while working and put the card to good use.  The chickens will be LOVING life once we get it all in there!  Gotta have their sand baths!

I hope everyone has a great weekend, gets everything accomplished that they set out to do, and makes time to just relax!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday

  1. I dreamed about Tessa last night....wonder what that means?
  2. It is HOT again.
  3. Today is the Summer Solstice - the longest day of the year; which means now the days will begin to get shorter :-(
  4. I wish I had more time to read in the summer - I love to read!
  5. Having spaghetti for dinner - from the sauce my husband made last fall that we put in the freezer - YUM!
  6. It was so nice to spend time with my daughter this past Sunday - I miss her since she moved out on her own...
  7. Is it Friday yet?!

Sunday, June 19, 2011 did we do?

In my last post, I listed some things we wanted to get accomplished this weekend.  So, how did we do?

Clean gutters - Done.  Sorry - I wasn't going to climb up on the roof to take a picture :-)

Plant Marigolds in the vegetable garden - Done:

Tomatoes, Carrots and Peppers coming along nicely
 I did one half on Saturday - and finished the rest up this morning.

Weed garden - Done:

Squash, more Peppers and Lettuce
 Finish chicken tractor - Done:

The chickens weren't too sure what to make of it at first:

But soon they realized they could pig out on some juicy green grass and they went nuts!

They are getting so big!!  Hopefully, we are just 6 weeks away from our first home grown eggs...can't wait!!

Haul more sand into the run - not done...was just too dang hot!

Move pallets from driveway to the backyard - Done.

Cut up pallets and stack wood - partially done.  We get a lot of free pallets from my husband's work (actually from the company next door to his work).  So we currently have about 25 kiln dried, solid oak pallets to cut and stack.  That's A LOT of wood.  We did a few pallets, but once again, it was too hot.  That kind of work is best saved for the cooler weather.  But at least there is no longer a huge stack sitting in the middle of the driveway and in the back of his pickup.

I hope you were able to accomplish whatever you set out to do this weekend.  And had a little downtime to relax as well.

Friday, June 17, 2011

To Do List

Yep - we all have one....but I don't like to write mine down (though I should - maybe I wouldn't keep forgetting it!!).  Sometimes I do write it down if there are things I have forgotten for two or three days - things like, make hummingbird solution...wash towels....vacuum....sometimes I just get lazy and don't want to do them!!  On those occasions, I write them down and make myself more accountable.

Don't get me wrong - I love to feed my hummers - and I don't let them go without any food for two or three days...I start to tell myself to make the stuff when it gets below halfway in the feeder in the hopes that I will remember by the time it is empty :-{  [Note: I make my own solution - four parts water, bring to rolling boil, add one part sugar, stir until dissolved, bring back to boil, remove from heat, let cool.  I do not add food coloring - it is not necessary and the jury is still out on whether or not it is harmful to the birds.  To get them to find it, I make the first batch of the season with a little more sugar, so it is sweeter.]

So, the to do list for this weekend - clean out gutters (lots of debris from the storms last weekend), PLANT MARIGOLDS IN VEGETABLE GARDEN (bought them last weekend and they are still in the flat), weed garden, finish chicken tractor, haul more sand into chicken run, move pallets from driveway to back yard, cut up pallets and stack the wood...

Hopefully, we will be able to get most of it done.  Want to share your To Do List for the weekend?  Come one - I know you all have one!! :-)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Yesterday morning it was 54 degrees when I got up around 5:30 AM....this morning, 53....ahhhhh...what a welcome change!

Everything can now breath a sigh of relief...we have received some rain (last weekend) and now some cooler temps with lower humidity.

I'll take it!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Finally!! (Okay....okay!!)

For the last couple of weeks, we have been literally baking in the heat - close to 100 every day, no add that to our "soil" of red clay...what do you get?  That's right - earth that is baked into the same thing as those terra cotta pots you see in the stores. 

So, this past Friday, what did we get?  A nice, gentle, soaking rain that gave everything the deep drink of water it so desperately needed - the sprinkler just does not do as good a job no matter how hard we try.  NOT!  Nope - Mother Nature is not done fooling with us yet!  As we were getting ready for our Friday night ritual of sitting around the fire with a few adult beverages, the skies got ominously dark in fact, that the chickens put themselves to bed at 7:15 PM?!?!  Then the winds picked up...the thunder started rolling....a few flashes of lightning lit up the dusky sky.  I quickly checked the radar and saw that we were under a severe thunderstorm warning and there was a big red cell headed our way.  Then, a really big thunderbolt struck relatively close - well, close in my vocabulary.  I told my husband, see ya and went inside to ride out the storm.

Then it started raining - YEAH!  Really hard - NO!  So hard that the gutters could not keep up and we had geysers blowing over the endcaps.  The pool - which we were thinking we would have to add water to as the water line was barely above the bottom of the skimmer hole - filled up quickly.  And since the earth was baked so hard, you guessed it!  The water just rushed over the front yard so that we had a river running through it.  Oi vey! 

Remember "moderation"???  "Happy medium"??  Apparently not.

After the storm, we resumed our normal activity and it was actually cool out.  You could almost hear the flowers sighing from the deep drink they were taking.  And the tree frogs had whet their whistle and started (not sure how to describe their sound - chirping + croaking) - choaking?

Saturday - hot and steamy!  Well of course - after all the rain the night before!!  Saturday evening - getting dinner ready and guess what?!  Another storm rolls in just as we are heating up the coals on the grill.  Since our camping trip got canceled, we decided to have our favorite camping dish for dinner.  Inside foil pouches, place one chicken breast, chop up some potatoes and onions, liberally season with salt, pepper, Italian Seasoning, Garlic Powder and Paprika.  Add a couple of pats of butter and a handful of ice cubes.  Seal them up (we usually do two layers of foil folded up opposite ways - like a cross; but I cut the foil pieces too small so we added a third layer and it worked a lot better!).  Place over coals to steam in the pouches for about 20 - 30 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts.  When done, eat directly out of the pouches after adding some shredded cheese to melt on top.  Scrumptious!!

All in all, at least we got some precipitation.  Not exactly the way we wanted it - except on Sunday when we did skirt the main storms and received about an hour's worth of nice gentle, soaking rains.  I guess Mother Nature has a decidedly different sense of humor than I do.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

And the winner is.....

Me?!!?  Wow!!  I am flabbergasted!! I received some unbelievable news yesterday - Leigh over at 5 Acres & A Dream awarded me the Stylish Blogger Award!

Leigh was the first person to follow my blog - thank you for all of your support!  It has been incredible to see all that you are doing on your homestead - way more than me :-)  But you give me the inspiration to forge ahead and work toward the same goal - self-sufficiency in this crazy world.

The rules say I need to divulge 7 things you do not know about me, so here goes:

1.  I am a southpaw - but only for writing, eating and brushing my teeth.  I do everything else right-handed.

2. Almost 20 years ago, I gave birth to my daughter after 36 HOURS of labor.  She was 8 weeks premature; but you would never know it today!  Needless to say, I did not have any more children...

3. I drive a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo - it has 139,000 miles on it, but I LOVE IT!

4. I am the eldest of three daughters.

5. I wanted to be a singer when I was growing up - music is a passion of mine - I can also play piano and guitar.   The first song I learned to play on the piano was "Maple Leaf Rag", learned by watching my friend play it.

6. I learned about gardening, cooking and bird watching from my grandmother - I miss you Nanny!

7. I have the BEST husband in the world - he loves me unconditionally, will do anything for me if I ask (like building a chicken coop and run so we could get some chickens), and supports me in everything I do.  I love you babe!!

Now, in the spirit of this award, I would like to pass it along to Carolyn over at Krazo Acres.  I have just recently started following Carolyn's blog but enjoy every minute reading it!  Lots going on over there as well.  Congratulations Carolyn!!

Thank you all for your interest in the goings-on here at our little 10 acre plot and for your support, words of wisdom and encouragement.  Homesteading is hard - but you all make it easier!  Keep up the great work!!

Friday, June 10, 2011


A couple of weeks ago, I was telling my husband about how much water was in the compost bins and was making it forward two weeks and voila!  The smell is gone!  And so is the water - they are now bone dry.

I am beginning to think that the word "moderation" and the phrase "happy medium" are not a part of Mother Nature's vocabulary...a few weeks ago we were drowning in the daily torrential downpours, we were dodging rain drops and storms to hurry up and get the chicken coop and run we are BAKING...the chickens seems to be taking it in stride (thank goodness!!)...we are trying to keep the vegetable garden from dying (although a few more onions have popped out flower stalks, so I guess we can forget about getting any onions bigger than a marble this year)....most of my flowers are doing well - our August Beauty Gardenias are blooming since it feels like August outside - but the roses are starting to peter out.  This kind of weather makes me happy we have a well and are not subject to water restrictions like we had when we lived in the big city.  But even with watering, things are barely hanging on.  It is just too dang hot!  I can't imagine what August will be like if we have August temps now...

We are hanging in there...doing the best we can....stay cool!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tiny Potato Salad

About a week ago, I "hauled" in our first harvest of 2011.  It was a mere 1/2 lb. of red potatoes and 1/2 a dozen green onions - that were really red, not green - but were the size of green onions; only red...with the extreme weather we have been experiencing, they decided they were done and shot out some flower stalks :-(

I didn't post the picture of the harvest because...well...compared to all of you, this was Barbie doll-sized!!  But I was thrilled! (Pssst...I think my husband thinks I am leaning off my rocker a little...)

Anyway, on Monday, I found a potato salad recipe on and sized it down for my small amount of potatoes.  After it was done, I figured it was just enough for me and my husband to have for dinner.  Did I take a picture??  Of course not! 

And by the was absolutely delicious!!  Nothing really does compare to home grown...can't wait until I have home grown eggs to put in my future salads!!

Saturday, June 4, 2011


What have we accomplished before noon?

1.  Eat breakfast (me: drink pot of coffee)
2.  Wash sheets
3.  Cut down saplings blocking the view of the chicken coop/run from back door
4.  Haul to the burn pile
5.  Compost and mulch 2 raised vegetable beds
6.  Haul 4 buckets of sand into the chicken run for their dust baths
7.  Hang sheets on the line
8.  Plant 4 Leland Cypress trees (he dug holes, I watered, he mulched)

Reward for getting all that done by noon?  A relaxing dip in the pool...

Ahhhhhhh....the only time I ever truly unplug!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Best Laid Plans...

About six weeks ago, my husband and I made plans to go camping this weekend.  We love to camp and bring the dogs with us.  They love it too.  Especially going "riding in the truck"!  Say that phrase, and Sasha's ears fly up in the air and her head tilts to the side...Mika just starts going berserk!  She is not good in the car...she gets really wound up and can't come down.

Anyway, we both put in at work to begin our vacation at noon on Friday.  We would then pack up and drive the 1.5 hours to Uwharrie National Forest which is a favorite spot since they have OHV (off-highway vehicle) trails and we have a four-wheeler that we load up and bring with us.  We picked this weekend hoping it would not be blazing hot (which it would have been close), and we would avoid the holiday rush from last weekend.  But, was not meant to be.  My husband's work is extremely busy right now - he has already put in 38 hours this week, not including his holiday hours from Monday.  While I am disappointed, it would have been nice to get away even just for two days, this is the kind of thing you encounter living on a homestead.  If you make the choice to live on one, you better like it - A LOT.  There is plenty to do that will keep you busy beyond the number of daylight hours, and you will not get the chance to go do things that others do on a regular basis.  Especially when you add livestock into the picture.

But my husband and I have simple needs.  We don't need fancy vacations at the beach or a foreign country, or a cruise...a simple weekend of putting up a tent, cooking over a fire, percolating a pot of coffee on the Coleman stove in the morning is good enough for us.  Maybe we can try again in the fall - when it will be cooler - hopefully!!

So, this weekend I will sit and watch Farm TV since the chickens are such entertainment for me.  And they are growing in leaps and bounds; and making all sorts of new noises that are so cute!

Yeah - it's the simple things in life that amuse me :-)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Boy, am I glad we got a bunch of stuff done last weekend, because Mother Nature has decided to leave us on the "London Broil" setting this week.  Yesterday, I had to commute to my "real job", and when I started the Jeep at the end of the day, my console said it was 114F in the parking lot.....that is HOT.

Two and a half hours later, when I got back home, it was still 86F.  And there doesn't appear to be any relief in sight.  Hopefully, the vegetable garden will survive.  The chickens seems to be doing okay.  But they do get a good deal of shade since we put a tarp over the top of 2/3 of the run.

The forecast for today is a high of 96F, but we do have a 50% chance of thunderstorms, so we may get a little bit of relief.  Although, when it is this hot and humid, the rain usually just makes the humidity worse.  Always a challenge on the homestead!

Stay cool!