“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”

Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution

Your perfect garden: mulch landscaping

mulchIf you would like great curb appeal, a refined turn to your landscaping, and dollar for dollar increased worth for the home, then you’re likely to like these mulch landscaping suggestions to give a polished contact to your trees, shrubs, and beds. While mulching is essential because of its aesthetic appeal, it is a necessity for the ongoing health of your plantings, as well.
Various kinds of Mulch
Mulch could be either organic, as in the full case of shredded solid wood with compost, or inorganic, while in a variety of decorative stones. While inorganic choices will longer last, there's some maintenance to take into account still. Weed seeds shall blow and discover their method into any surface, so some weeding, either yourself or with Roundup chemically, is necessary. Every couple of years, the top ought to be restored with a lighting layer to pay for the settling and sinking occurring as time passes. Inorganic materials ought to be pass on at a depth of 2 - 4 inches.
Organic best mulch needs to often be replenished more, either each full year, or almost every other year. The organic parts breakdown, which enriches the soil for nutrition. A preexisting mulch bed ought to be top-dressed with 2 - 3 ins of mulch. A fresh bed ought to be established with 4 - 6 inches. Make sure to leave area at the bottom of vegetation, you don’t desire to bury them. In case you are laying Playground Chips for a recreational region, 6 inches may be the recommended depth, since it is to become a cushion for falls.
Form Follows Function
Consider the design that you will be landscaping. A formal design dwelling would reap the benefits of a formal landscape strategy, which may include symmetry. Think about sheared low-developing hedges, such as for example boxwoods, or holly. Include defined designs, such as for example shaped evergreens.  Geometric designs prevail in this design. A  Casual, or Modern, abode would look greatest with informal plantings which are asymmetrical. Pruned junipers or forsythia would achieve a natural look lightly, aiming for a nice variety of texture. Curved edges and walkways will be the norm because of this style.  Some landscape programs can achieve a distinctive combination, with an official approach toward leading yard, then tapering to more natural ranges on the borders, sides, and back of the house. Some home owners adopt a concept, like a Japanese water backyard, or a Rock backyard planted with succulents.

Home Secrets: Natural Cleaning Solutions

clean_houseMost store-purchased cleaners contain chemicals that may cause not eye and pores and skin irritations but even malignancy just, birth and asthma defects. They could be ingested by children and pets accidentally.
Thankfully, nature offers provided us with the necessary ingredients to help keep our houses spic and span without killing ourselves, wildlife or the surroundings. Just use these healthy household cleaning solutions - most which you probably curently have in the kitchen-for an all natural cleaning that's much better for your health insurance and for the air flow, soil, water, vegetation, and creatures around you.
1. Lemon
When life offers you lemons, help to make lemonade-or an ideal non-toxic household cleaner. An all natural bleaching deodorizer and real estate agent that may give your home an excellent fresh scent, natural lemon fruit juice cuts through grease, removes stains, gives hard surfaces a lovely shine and eliminates fungus even. Dilute some lemon fruit juice with water to completely clean staining on trimming boards and destroy germs. Dip a vintage toothbrush in lemon fruit juice to eliminate grout. Then add salt and you have a highly effective cleaner for metallic grills and a polisher for chrome. Soak plastic material meals containers in lemon fruit juice overnight to eliminate smells. Put diluted lemon fruit juice in a spray bottle to help keep your kitchen countertops clear and smelling great. Who requirements toxic chlorine bleach for the laundry when you're able to just add a mug of lemon fruit juice to your load for brilliant colors, whitened whites and a lemony new scent? The set of things that could be cleaned by lemons will be impressive.
2. Olive oil
Not for cooking just, olive oil is an excellent natural cleaner and polisher. Then add salt and you may scrub pans and pots. Rub it into natural leather to obtain scratches out. Then add lemon fruit juice or vinegar and there is a great natural solid wood polisher. The citric acid in lemon juice helps it be ideal for dissolving tarnish. Work with a cotton fabric to buff stainless and brass to avoid streaks and rust and obtain a brilliant shine. Work with a halved lemon dipped in salt to brighten copper cookware. Plus, it can be used by you to lubricate all your kitchen appliances, from blenders and grinders to any cookware with movable parts-or fix a squeaky door even. And before you begin your springtime gardening, spray some essential olive oil on your own garden tools to lessen dust buildup. With all of this value (not forgetting its culinary, health insurance and beauty programs), it's no question that for the historic Minoans, essential olive oil represented wealth.
3. White vinegar
The natural acidity in white vinegar helps it be an excellent natural antifungal and antibacterial. Not only is it a fantastic nontoxic degreaser, it eliminates soap scum. Placed on a white natural cotton glove and dip your fingertips in a 50/50 solution of whitened vinegar and warm water and all of a sudden cleaning Venetian window blinds and piano keys is really a breeze. Dip a natural cotton cloth in a 50/50 solution of whitened vinegar and essential olive oil to eliminate water rings from solid wood tabletops. To completely clean and brighten floor coverings, dip a drive broom in a remedy of just one 1 cup whitened vinegar and 1 gallon of water. Utilize the same treatment for clean brickwork. To eliminate tough odors like tobacco smoke, leave a plate of vinegar in the available room overnight. There are over 100 different ways you may use white vinegar throughout the house.
4. Baking soda
You probably understand that an open box of baking soda in the fridge absorbs odors. But additionally to being an efficient deodorizer wherever you would like to eliminate stinky smells, it is also a highly effective antiviral agent and surfactant that eliminates grease and grime. Utilize it as a scouring powder to completely clean countertops, sinks, tubs, bathing room floors and your outside grill. To unclog drains, pour some baking soda down the drain, and slowly pour in a few whitened vinegar until it foams. Flush with warm water and repeat before drain is clear. To keep floor coverings fresh, sprinkle on some baking vacuum cleaner and soda after 15 minutes. Maintain your combs and hairbrushes clear by soaking them in a few drinking water with a teaspoon of baking soda. And create your tile flooring sparkle with a mop . 5 mug baking soda in a bucket of tepid to warm water. You can find so many makes use of for baking soda throughout the house you'll would like to involve some handy all the time.
5. Club soda
For an effective and safe window cleaner, fill a little spray bottle with club soda and work with a soft cotton fabric (a clean T-shirt can do the trick). If you want to cut through grease, put in a little lemon fruit juice. Being an added bonus, club soda is an useful stain remover and polisher. You may also water your interior and outdoor vegetation with golf club soda once weekly: they love the nutrients in the soda, which assists them grow. To help keep your valuable gems sparkly, soak them in one glass of club soda overnight. Plus, the carbonation in golf club soda makes it a perfect rust remover. For cleansing cast-iron cookware, pour in a few club soda as the pan's nevertheless warm therefore the food contaminants don't stick. With one of these and more surprising home uses, it's obvious that golf club soda isn't only for drinking.
6. Salt
You wouldn't pour salt in a wound, but pour it in white vinegar and there is a powerful cleaner with a deodorizing impact. A remedy of salt and golf club soda will clear and deodorize the within of your fridge. For wines spills on natural cotton or linen, blot out everything you can and pour salt on the stain to suck out the others. Then soak the material in cool water before throwing it in the clean. Mix some salt into lemon juice to eliminate mildew and rust staining. To brighten coloured curtains or washable dietary fiber rugs, clean them in a saltwater solution. Work with a cloth dipped in exactly the same treatment for brighten rugs and carpets and rugs. Use it alone for a smooth but effective scouring real estate agent. With over 14,000 utilizes, salt is just about the world's most flexible mineral.

Home Secrets: Home-made Carpet Cleaning

Carpets keep their elegance if deep cleaned at least one time a year longest. This working job will be one where it will pay to create in the pros, because they have muscle, methods and machinery not available to home carpet cleaners usually.
If your allowance won't stretch to top notch services for a very reasonable rate, you can find do-it-yourself alternatives that produce a good job of home rug cleaning, so long as you carefully work, use the best equipment and observe these cautions:
Know your carpet. Make sure to understand the sort of cleaning method suggested by your carpet's manufacturers.
Adhere to steamers, not shampooers. Once you buy or lease a carpet cleaner, select a carpet steamer. Old "carpet shampoo" units make use of rotary agitators to use detergent solution and could overwet carpets. The hair shampoo film could be difficult to eliminate, causing resoiling.
Vacuum first. Water plus dust equals mud, which is extremely difficult to eliminate. Before cleaning the carpeting, vacuum completely to remove just as much loose dirt as you possibly can.
Choose the right cleaners. Stick to cleaning products designed for home carpet cleaning, and follow package instructions to combine cleaning solutions.
Pretreat. Work with a traffic-lane cleaner or pre-spray to take care of areas of higher soil before cleaning.
Keep it dried out. Over-saturated carpets and rugs aren't cleaner, wetter just. After extracting, create a second dry move over the carpeting to remove just as much dampness as possible. Keep traffic off cleaned carpeting until it really is dry freshly.
Looking after Hard-Surface Floors
Much like carpets, routine cleaning is the greatest way to keep up with the elegance of hard-surface flooring. Regular sweeping, vacuuming or dust-mopping removes abrasive dust and grit from the ground. Establishing a "shoes-off" plan and using entry mats helps prevent road soil from getting into the home and becoming tracked onto floors.
When it's time and energy to clean, thoroughly clean with a light hands. Hard-surface floors look greatest when clear and clean, but detergent make use of or cleaner buildup can make a hazy movie that dulls flooring - and attracts and keeps more dirt. Depend on these cleaning ideas to keep hard-surface flooring looking clean and gorgeous:
Linoleum and vinyl Floors
To look after linoleum and vinyl, sweep, vacuum cleaner, or dust-mop every day to eliminate surface grit. Damp-mop with pure water to remove dust and restore shine. For more heavily soiled flooring, vacuum first, after that wet-mop floors utilizing a very light answer around 1-2 teaspoons liquid dishwashing detergent per gallon of tepid to warm water. Rinse the ground with clean drinking water before drying it with whitened cleaning cloths.
If you can find depressions in the ground, work with a scrubbing pad to loosen any soil in these certain areas as you clean, then wash with fresh pure water.
Hardwood Floors
These floors are vunerable to abrasion, are often dented and may be broken by moisture or incorrect cleansing methods. Remove dirt and surface area soil from hardwoods every day, preferably with a large-headed microfiber dirt mop. Alternately, hardwood floors could be vacuumed but make sure to change the beater pubs off in order to avoid scratching the ground. When required, damp-mop with plain drinking water to get dirt, using a hardly wet mop. Avoid any drips or standing up water; the mop mind or terry mop protect ought to be wrung till nearly dried out before it touches the ground. A solution of whitened vinegar and drinking water will up the cleansing ante, so check it out for stubborn dirt.
Even more intense cleaning will demand a cleaning item formulated for the floor's specific finish. Usually do not use essential oil soap on hardwood flooring; it'll develop a dirt-trapping sticky film also it can hinder recoating or refinishing flooring later on.
Ceramic Tile Floors
Keep ceramic tile flooring looking their finest with daily sweeping or even vacuuming to eliminate surface grit. If using a vacuum cleaner, arranged the beater bar to the off placement to vacuum. Every full week or so, damp-mop with a remedy of 2 tablespoons liquid dishwashing detergent to at least one 1 gallon of tepid to warm water. Use a cleansing toothbrush to scrub stained or unclean grout. Rinse with pure water. Buff the tile with a clear, dry towel to eliminate any water spots. In no way apply wax to ceramic tile flooring; it can be hard to remove, could cause slip-and-fall injuries and could hinder resealing grout.

Home Secrets: Useful Cleaning Methods

To help with making your spring cleaning much less frustrating, here are some tips from the cleaning company serving durham:
·When you do severe cleaning, it is possible to kick up lots of dust by moving things around just. Open the windows to obtain as much oxygen in the homely house as you possibly can.
·Start at the very top and work the right path down. Dirt and dirt have a tendency to settle in lower locations if they are disturbed, so save the carpets and floors for last. Vacuums like the Hoover WindTunnel II upright consist of features like a telescoping wand and extend hose with a complete 20 ft of combined cleaning grab cleaning those hard-to-reach locations at the tops of areas, such as shelves, draperies and ceiling fans. The machine really lifts and traps dust, so that it won't scatter back to the room.
·Nearly eight in 10 grownups who do annual cleansing rely on equipment for cleaning hard-to-reach locations, such as for example under and corners home appliances, or for cleansing curtains or rugs.
·Use vacuum cleaner wands and hoses to completely clean cobwebs, walls, blinds and drapes.
·Clear miniblinds by hanging them in the bath with suction cups, spraying them together with your favorite rinsing and cleaner them clean with a removable showerhead. Vacuum clear between washings with a dust-brush attachment.
·Clean windows with an assortment of 1/2 mug ammonia in a bucket of drinking water.
·Use vacuum pressure cleaner with a brush device to clean dust and lint off baseboards, and follow-up with a wet towel then.
·To look after hard surfaces, like a hardwood flooring and tile, consider a cleaner like the Hoover FloorMate SpinScrub difficult floor cleaner. This 3-in-1 device is made simply for those tough work: vacuuming, cleaning and drying hard-surface floors. A remedy of Hoover FloorMate Floor-to-Floor hard ground cleaner and water is preferred on marble, ceramic tile, vinyl, laminate and sealed hardwood floors along with other surfaces throughout the house.
·To tidy up spills on the carpeting, first dab up just as much of the spill as you possibly can. Next, have a damp, absorbent cloth and lay it on the spill. Finally, location several heavy books on the cloth for approximately 24 hours.
·Steam cleaning carpets and rugs is considered one of the most challenging tasks of heavy cleaning. That's where a machine like the Hoover SpinScrub SteamVac multi-surface cleaner might help, providing professional high quality deep cleansing that keeps your carpeting looking better longer. We advise that you first vacuum cleaner the carpets, and clean the carpeting with the SteamVac and Hoover Deep Cleansing carpeting/upholstery detergent for an ultra deep clean.
·Before performing any wet cleaning, ensure that you possess vacuumed your complete home, including drapes, furniture and walls.

Great things about hardwood floors cleaning

A shiny and sparkling hardwood floor will be able to bring classy elegance in virtually any available room. This is a great expense because it is lengthy lasting yet quite appealing. Any homeowner with hardwood flooring in their home will need to consider refinishing it at some true point.
Heavy traffic, dirt, animals and moving of furnishings round the room are a number of the things that may wreak havoc about the finish of one's hardwood ground. As a result, you might have to refinish it to be able to restore the natural luster and beauty of the wood.
Although they're very appealing within a glance just, a bit is required by them of maintenance. Luckily, refinishing hardwood floors isn't a big challenge, unlike what a lot of people think. You can find professional contractors always open to quickly complete the complete job, efficiently, and affordably. Here are a few of the primary benefits associated with choosing the maids new london for cleaning hardwood floor and in addition refinishing tips.
Improved Appearance
This is the biggest benefit of hiring a specialist contractor ultimately. These professionals have yrs of encounter in the flooring industry. Therefore, they know the very best answers to hardwood problems.
They know what must be done to provide your floor a better appearance. A better look of the ground will reflect on all other top features of your room and house nicely.
Affordability and Disruption
Refinishing is certainly less of a headache and cheaper than replacing the complete floor. An upgraded project will take a longer span time also, disrupting your entire day to day existence in the home. Lots of points should be moved because the entire floor region will most likely need to be done.
Professionals can refinish your complete floor in just an individual day often, which is a great deal less invasive. You wind up reducing the quantity of hassle you have to offer with, and you also save a substantial amount of money by devoid of to displace your floors.
Here are a few factors that needs to be considered while budgeting:
·The situation of the floor.
·The colour of the floor.
·Whether it’s on a new staircase or the top is flat.
·Any additional services.
Floor refinishing is really a worthwhile investment for just about any homeowner. It adds worth to the true home as a whole, and can especially attractive to prospective home purchasers whenever it really is set to become sold. It does increase the chances of the house being purchased in the true estate market.
Refinishing the hardwood ground all by yourself could be very risky, particularly if you don’t have much encounter in it. This risk may not be worth taking based on your situation. After all, in the event that you up mess it, chances are you will undoubtedly be hiring a specialist anyways as well as perhaps paying extra to repair up the mistakes.
Rebuffing the Finish
A professional can rebuff your floor end effectively. If you opt to do it on your own, you’ll need to buff it as you strip off any staying residue.
Reduced Maintenance Costs
Once your ground is refinished by way of a professional, you are certain to get many years of service as a result before having to repeat. Refinishing furthermore reduces the probability of the floor learning to be a harbor for termites or some other kind of pests.
Unless you have the proper machinery and sufficient experience, hardwood floor refinishing isn't something you need to do by yourself. Doing therefore could be messy, and time-intensive. Floor refinishing is really a process that should be done precisely, the result will never be appealing otherwise. Hiring a specialist refinisher can save you lots of time and money in the long term.

Home Cleaning for Each Season

Winter Cleaning YOUR HOME
Cozy nights simply by the fire, holiday entertaining, snowfall and rock salt all around the homely house -- winter season brings its own group of specific housecleaning challenges. This season is more about organization and preparedness than cleaning actually. Sustain your regular cleaning routine or let cleaning organization to provide you with superior maid services.
Inside, you need to change your furnace filter systems a little more in the wintertime regularly. The furnace often runs more, so - particularly if you've got a fireplace - there's more particles in the air.
Winter is a good time to clean your personal computer also, since you have significantly more downtime. Energy the pc down and unplug it. Remove the trunk panel -- it's simple and generally just a few little screws. You don't have to touch anything. Simply make use of some canned compressed air flow to blow out dirt and pet tresses from the parts. Turn your keyboard ugly right into a trash bin -- you will be surprised at just how many crumbs and points lodge within the keys. Wipe down the table and keys with a damp cloth. You can use compressed air to obtain between the keys also.
In the event that you enjoy decorating for the holiday season, make sure the homely house is clean when you begin. And at the final end of the vacation season, take the extra time and energy to dust and clean down all your decor and ornaments as you put them away. That way, next winter season, you'll focus on a clean slate. Are you experiencing an artificial Xmas tree that's obtaining a bit dingy? Put it in the tub and spray it with the shower gently! Let it dry and it'll be exactly like new completely. Of course, please avoid doing this in case you have a pre-lit tree.
If you reside in an area where you get snowed in often, you might like to come up with a little "survival package." Add a few days' well worth of energy bars, batteries and flashlights, blankets, non-perishable food it doesn't require cooking food or refrigeration, and powdered milk. Remember a can opener, utensils and a gallon of drinking water per person, each day. Don't forget meals for your pets.
Pull your cold-weather equipment out of storage space -- sleds, skis, snow scrapers and shovels. Make certain everything is in operating order and all set. Create your coats, hats, scarves and mittens handy.
Outdoors, there's less cleaning to accomplish; plan the weather instead. Put your snowfall shovels within an easy-to-reach place. Buy salt or some other de-icers so you are not caught unprepared. Search for nontoxic compounds for the security of your as well as your neighbors' pets. Make certain all your vehicles possess ice scrapers and brushes to eliminate snow. Check your wiper antifreeze and fluid levels, and keep your gas tank close to full in order to avoid freezing always.
Deposit waterproof floor mats close to every door leading outdoors to catch melting snowfall and salt. Grab some large baking linens - the type with an elevated edge - and utilize them for shoe and shoe storage. It'll keep dirt and snowfall from spreading and melting inside your home. Look for the baking linens at garage product sales or flea marketplaces for real savings.

Home Secrets: Cleaning Tips

Whenever we transfer to a new place, the very first thing I do is help to make note of all plain things that have to be cleaned. Since it's uncommon that people move locally, we generally don't possess a chance to execute a thorough clear before our things arrives; instead, we need to clean close to our things, that is not perfect, but does work. It requires a little more patience just.
The Kitchen
Maybe because I hate a dirty kitchen actually, plus I discover that people's cooking smells nevertheless linger long right after they're gone, I first tackle your kitchen. It's also where I actually spend lots of time and power making certain I've cleaned every surface area. Again, this is specific to me and you also might discover that the prior owners barely utilized their stove or kitchen area cupboards - lucky you!
This is where you might need to use a heavy-duty cleaner, which might include appliance cleaner, like a paste or wax.
Kitchen Counters and Cabinets
Work with a mild cleaner to completely clean the within of cabinets, particularly if they're painted or lined. Should they aren't lined, contemplate using a liner to make sure that the insides are prepared for your dishes. Lining paper can be bought at any true home store. I have a tendency to you the type that doesn't stick, so that it can be removed at any right time.
Clean the very best of cupboards, and cabinet doorways. If the top is wood, work with a wood cleaner or a moderate soap. For grease-stains, make use of baking drinking water and soda. Create a paste and use it, allowing it to sit for some minutes. Also clear handles and inside drawers.
Counters require less work usually, just be sure you clear between cracks utilizing a putty knife to eliminate any debris. Clear back-splashes with a moderate cleaner or baking water and soda.
I take advantage of a chlorine-free of charge bleach to completely clean the sink by putting quite a few in a spray-bottle and adding drinking water to it. Spray the sink nicely and allow it soak for some time. Then rinse thoroughly. Furthermore, bleach the plugs by putting them in handful of bleach-water and permitting them to sit for some minutes. Rinse well. Sink odors could be removed by combining baking soda and water collectively, pouring it down the drain then.
Cleaning Walls
I clean the walls following, because they are usually a larger work, one that I get I'll leave easily don't take action before we begin to unpack. Unless the prior owners had lately (and After all, very lately) painted the inside, you don't necessarily need to clean them. Whether it's a house that is occupied by small kids, look for fingerprints nearer to the ground and around lighting corners and switches. Liquid stay cleaners from businesses such as for example Tide work nicely to remove a few of the even more stubborn stains. Another excellent solution for sticky places, the one that requires hardly any elbow grease, would be to apply handful of material softener to a sponge after that rub it on the region. Whatever has stuck to the wall shall disappear. This is effective for eliminating wallpaper or papers borders really, too.
Step-By-Step Cleaning - Walls
·Remove all dirt and cobwebs, especially inside corners and around heating system vents.
·Grab a new sponge, or when i prefer, a new sponge-mop to attain those hard to attain areas, and fill up a new bucket with comfortable, soapy water. You may use a moderate detergent or dish soap. Detergent is effective for just about any hard-to-remove stains.
·Wash the walls ensuring any dust or cobwebs that linger behind are usually wiped away.
·Clean the molding and baseboards.
·Clean the light change plates and along any doorway frames.
Cleaning Floors
Whenever we transfer to a new home which has carpet, we generally hire a specialist cleaner to steam thoroughly clean them ahead of our move date. If that's not possible, or the prior occupants claimed that they had the carpets cleaned, in that case your new home probably requires a thorough vacuum. Be sure you ask the prior owners should they had any pets; if they did, you might want to drive back possible fleas, particularly if you have pets of your.
For wood flooring or faux wood, hand wash the floor, making sure to completely clean under heating system vents and under home appliances. Work with a mild soap to completely clean its surface; solid wood soaps, such as for example Murphy's, work nicely to remove dirt and present it a polished shine (smells great, too!).

The Day I Discovered That Donkeys Don't Read

This is a busy week....
weeding, gardening, mowing, trimming....
getting the farm as spiffy as possible for Hubbs' annual work picnic this Saturday.

By mid-afternoon it was time to take a break and relax a little.

I sat in the shade with the sheep for a bit.
enjoying the blue sky with its cotton-candy clouds,

and watching this butterfly float from one spot to another in the grass

and listening to the cicadas.
I found this empty shell on the fence next to the sheep.

It had been a while since I had visited with the donkeys,
so I spent a little time with them as well.
Pulling a chair into their lot,
I sat down to peruse my favorite catalog that had just arrived.

It's funny...
any other time I have donkeys in my lap.
This time, however, because there is a catalog in my lap,
they stayed away.
(Notice that Chloe would rather stick her head in the weeds than wear a fly mask!)

They just didn't trust that old catalog.
Donkeys are like that.
Wary of everything.

So, I checked out the recipes in my catalog and then headed back to the garden.
There was still much to do...
watering, weeding, harvesting...

tons of tiny tomatoes.

It's soon time to make sauce!

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Deja Vu

I am beginning to think that it just isn't a day without
some sort of chicken relocation!

Yesterday I decided to let the three roos that (I had relocated to the barn area last Friday)
out of their yard to roam free around the barn and pastures.

I never would have guessed that as soon as their door opened,
they high-tailed it straight back to the farmhouse!

Now, this is no small feat....since the farmhouse is about a quarter mile away from the barn...
and not a straight shot.
Obviously, chickens are very smart.

So, they spent the day around the house....crowing, like they do.... constantly!

When Hubbs came home from work there was a thunder storm brewing
 just a few miles from here, so we decided to relax on the front porch and watch the storm.
I'd love to share that experience with you:

As the evening wore on,
it became obvious to me that the Roos had no intention of returning to their home at the barn.
They hung around outside their old house down the driveway.

I knew that I could re-capture them after dark if I allowed them to roost in their old house.

And so that is just what I did.
And after they were cozily tucked in their old house,
I picked each one up... one by one... and loaded them...

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Planning Ahead

Oh my goodness...do you believe it?
It's August 1st already!
Happy August, friends!!

Our weekend was quiet, indeed, as I had hoped.
"Be careful what you wish for...." may have been the governing force in the weekend,
however, as Hubbs sustained a "little" back injury...making our weekend even quieter!

I used the time to get a little gardening done.
We are in the height of summer veggie season.

Every day yields tomatoes galore...

with more on the vines for tomorrow.

Peppers are abundant.
I resist picking them all now, though.
If left on the plants a little longer, they will be red and orange peppers.

There is never any question as to "what's for dinner?" these days...
oodles of vegetables... sometimes fresh, sometimes sautéed....
(everything in this pan came out of the garden...picked and sautéed and eaten within 30 minutes)

We've had zucchini and yellow squash galore this summer.
With prolific zucchini always comes the questions...
"what to do with all this zucchini?"
Of course there is baking and sautéing.
I use them like cucumbers in salad.

Last week I bought a spiralizer for my Kitchenaid.
I used it to spiralize fresh zucchini which we then used raw
beneath a spaghetti meat sauce.
It was delicious,...

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Why I Don't Go To The Gym

I'll let you in on a little secret or two.
One:  I hate repetitive exercise for the sake of exercise.
Two:  I hate to sweat.

But then, with activities like this...
who needs a gym?

I had a truckload of hay delivered yesterday.

Over the next couple of months I will be stockpiling hay for the upcoming winter.
Just about all of our animals (except the birds) eat hay,
so we need quite a lot of it.

With the help of Anna (who helps out on the farm when needed)...
loading the bales on the hay elevator and sending them up to the hayloft of the barn...

I stowed 100 bales in this corner of the barn (by myself)...
(each bale weighed 40-50 lbs)
an activity equal to working out in the gym.
And yes, I sweated... a lot!

Stowing hay was not the only fun activity of the day, however.
I also did another rooster relocation.

This time I caught and transported Egg, Jelly, and Petunia to the turkey house.

"Why?" you ask.
Well, it seems that these three have taken to trying to terrorize me whenever I step out of the house.
They come running and attempt to flog me.

Of course I use my big-girl-voice and remind them that "I'm the big bird." 
And tell them "NO!"
As long as I don't turn my back and don't back down I can avoid a...

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She Takes Her Job Seriously

The daily "round-up" is one of Annie's favorite times.
The equines have been grazing in the early morning hours.

And although I told you that they were grazing all night long just a couple of weeks ago...
it seemed as though they were all beginning to put on a little more weight.
So, it's back to dieting...
which means less time on pasture.

When it's time for everyone to return to the dry lot
I yell, "Let's go!" and Annie goes running into the pasture.

Moonbeam and the ponies always come running by the time I yell "go".
The littles, however, need a little more prodding...

a job that Annie is only too happy to perform.
She races around Ollie and Red as fast as she can,

barking in their faces.

It's annoying enough that anyone would move just to get away!

The next command is "Leave it!" as soon as they are obviously headed into the dry lot.

If I didn't call her off, she'd bark and bark and bark.
I think with time she will understand the subtleties of the job,
but for now, at least, she gets the job done!

"All that fuss to come in...now where's the food??"
(And by the way, yes, Ollie does have teeth.)

A few more photos from yesterday:

We have tons of Ruby Throated Hummingbirds right now.
It's not...

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Family Farm Day

Going into the weekend was a mad dash of getting the farm 
ready for Hubbs' work picnic.

By noon on Saturday, with the help of some of our kids...
everything was shipshape and ready to go.

The picnic was perfect.... families with kids...
great food, animal visits and hayrides.

I think a fun time was had by all.

Hubbs with Mack
Mackenzie joined us for the picnic (her Daddy was the Grill Man.)

Can you believe this little one will be one year old this week?
She is walking now, has four teeth, and pretty much says "Dadada" for just about everything!

There were lots of other adorable "littles" who enjoyed the animals, too.
Just a few of the precious faces:

Visiting with the piggies...

Everywhere we looked there were big eyes and smiles.

There is nothing better than sharing this wonderful place with tiny souls!
That made all of the preparation well worth it!
Many thanks to our helpers!!

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The Post In Which I Redeem Myself, Photographically Speaking

Ok, so, maybe I am a failure at photographing a dog family.
This next photo is going to knock your socks off.

I searched through old photos last evening until I found this one:

Ava, Fagner, Duffy 2008

I took this photo 8 years ago for Dr. Becky.
This was her horse family at the time.
(Amazingly, the only one still alive is old Duffy who is somewhere in his thirties....
and I honestly think he was in his thirties when I took this photo.)

Are you impressed?  (Don't be.)

I should stop here and rest on my laurels, 
but because I always try to keep it real around here
I have to confess...

Here is the original photo:

See what I mean?
To photograph animal families posed together you need one of three things:
(as I said yesterday.... drugs, photoshop, or taxidermy.)
Photoshop is my drug of choice.

With digital programs such as Photoshop
you can make just about anything disappear or appear.
(Watch, while I pull a rabbit out of my hat!)

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How To Take a Dog Family Portrait

Pinterest is full of pictures like this one...

(Via Pinterest)
and this one...

(Via Pinterest)
and this...
adorable canine families posed and smiling.

(Via Pinterest)
Let me tell you.
I have tried and tried.
And tried...
to get one (just one, please) perfect photo of my 3 favorite dog-pals.

Try as I might,
it never happens.

I've come to the conclusion that the only way others get all of their dogs together
is either drugs, Photoshop, or taxidermy.

Of my three...one is a camera hog.

One is completely camera shy.

And one has attention deficit disorder.

And then there is the cat (barn cat Moll) who likes to get in on the action.

This was as close as I could get to three in one frame.
Notice how well everyone is paying attention to me!
"Helloooooooo....hey....over here!"

Maybe I could submit this to "Pinterest Fails".

I did, however, have a fun time photographing Sammy 

and his many faces.

So, in conclusion...
if you were looking for a tutorial on how to take family portraits of your pets...
you've come to the wrong person!

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Leaving The Crazy World Behind

Perhaps the biggest gift that life on the farm has given to me 
is the ability to observe the natural world on a daily basis.

Being present each and every day to witness the subtle nuances of nature
is a joy that most people don't have.

Let's face it, life is slower here.
We live more by the sun than the clock and are governed by the whims of the seasons.

All summer long I have observed the habits of our resident barn swallows.

They arrive in April and immediately busy themselves with setting up housekeeping.
If their mud nests are left undisturbed from the previous season,
they will do a little redecorating and resume occupancy.

During the summer months they raise two sets of juveniles.
I have the privilege of witnessing this process each day as I work around the barn.

The barn swallows' life, I have noticed, centers around child care....
with a great deal of time spent dive-bombing the barn cats
and squawking their warnings.

Yesterday there was a decided difference, however.
Upon inspection of the nest, the (fully grown) babies were gone.

As I drove around the farm, I was aware of this particular behavior....

Every August, the barn swallows and tree swallows begin congregating on the electric...

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Maybe He's Not As Lonely As We Had Thought....

It's next to impossible to pass the pig yard and not stop in for a visit.

We're in the midst of another heat wave,
so it's not unusual to pass by and see one of the girls lounging in the pool.

There's no better way for a pig to cool off than a dip in the pool.
Looking at Ginger's face I imagine her in a pink polka dot bikini,
flotation device around her middle,
 and a fruity drink with an umbrella in her little hoof!
This is one happy pig.

While Ginger cools off I sit down in some dry hay to watch. 
Immediately, MaryAnn lays alongside my leg.

Of course the obligatory belly-rubbing ensues.

Bobby crawls into my lap,
and dogs occupy the other side of me.

It's a hot afternoon love fest in the pig yard.

Of course it comes with a price....

I should know better than to wear nice pants into the pig yard....
this happens every time!

Update on Tom, Fred and Ethel:

Well, Tuesday night at "tuck-in" time, I put Tom in the yard with Fred and Ethel.
Tom immediately went into attack mode.
Needless to say, I picked him up and removed him before he could harm Fred.
Fred is much smaller than Tom and cannot adequately defend himself.
At some point when he is fully mature, we will try it again.
Usually these contests end...

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A Surprise For Tom

Welcome to our grand experiment.
We saved you a front row seat!

Yesterday was auction day.
I headed up to our local livestock auction looking for friends for Tom.
There were tons of sad looking chickens for auction,
and lots of handsome roosters (we don't need no stinkin' roos!),
quail, pheasant, and bunnies galore.
I could easily have brought a carload of bunnies home with me,
but I showed restraint!

There were a few old turkeys that looked like their days were numbered,
and then there was one pair of young turkeys...
which I did bid on and won. 
(I thought they were both females when I bid....
only to find out after I won that the darker one was a male.)

Meet Fred (right)  and Ethel (left).

Fred looks to me like a young Bronze turkey (but what do I know!)
Ethel?  Your guess is as good as mine.
I have seen photos of light turkey hens like this described as Bourbon Reds.
If you have a clue...please enlighten me.

The thing is... they are just about full grown, but still young.
Since Fred has not sexually matured, there is a good chance that Tom will be ok with their presence.
(This is the grand experiment.)

At the time of this writing, Tom had not yet met these two.
He will meet them at bedtime when...

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For The Love...

Of Watermelon!

According to Ginger and MaryAnn, there is nothing more refreshing on a hot afternoon!

We are in the midst of a heat wave.
It's been very hot and sunny... with no rain.
So, farm chores are done early morning and late evening.
I've been doing a bit of sewing and weaving during the hot hours of the day.

How are you weathering the heat?

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Uh Oh

Uh, oh.
I have no good excuse.
Except, that in this crazy upside down
virus-filled week....
I thought today was Saturday.
And I missed leaving you a post.

I've been scrambling, rearranging, mowing, cooking
all in preparation for our fun-filled family weekend.
Somewhere along the way... I lost my mind.
Please forgive.

I'll be back Monday... and I'll make it up to you...
I promise!!
Coughing, sneezing, snorting virtual hugs to you all....
right now they are the only kind of hugs I am giving...
Have a great weekend!

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Happy Monday!
Summertime is here in full force...
and with it, all of the things that go with summer.
Like... watermelon...



and hours spent relaxing on the porch!

We had our family SummerFest on Saturday to celebrate the best of summer.

Four generations spent the day together...

picnicking, playing, swimming, and enjoying each other's company.

The youngest generation...


Above is my beautiful Momma... enjoying her great grandchildren.

The grandma's got together and made giant bubbles.

It was the best of summer all rolled up into one day..
and so special to share it with loved ones!

By the way... thanks for all of the well-wishes from the past week.
Sadly, however, Hubbs and I are still quite under the weather from this strange virus.
Keeping my fingers crossed that it soon decides to leave!

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It's late evening and the sun has passed below the horizon.

The farm is settling down for the night.

I take a few moments and sit in my favorite corner of the garden.

This is one of my most favorite places in the world.

I sit here and enjoy the flowers that surround me...

and look around to see the vegetables starting to fill

 and over flow the boxes.

Tiny pumpkin babies are hanging on the vines.
I close my eyes and can taste the wonderful pies they will make.

My constant companions are always more than willing to hang out in the garden with me.

I am sure Sam is thinking "you never know... there might be a bunny or two in here!"

The dogs and I walk up to the fainting goats' pasture,
located directly behind the garden.

Here I sit and watch the goats watching us.

They are always curious and wary of the dogs.

Especially when their play gets a little rough.

After a hot and humid day,
a few thunderstorms moved through and cooled things down.

I love this time of day.
The farm is completely peaceful...
except for the squawking of guineas.

It's something they do every night...right before retiring.
It's a sort of cacophonous guinea symphony...
perhaps a lullaby of sorts.
Who know what goes through a guinea's...

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Dragonfly Afternoon

It's been hot and dry...
we've had no rain in weeks.
The earth is parched and the grass is getting brown.

Because the sky has been so clear and blue, our nights have been unseasonably cool.
Our afternoons....blistering.

Afternoons are generally quiet these days.
Animals, who spend their nights grazing, prefer to find a comfortable place to sleep.

Why they sleep in the hot sun, however, is a mystery to me!

I took my camera to the pond yesterday afternoon and found a cool spot to sit.
The pond is scum-covered from the heat of the sun and lack of rain.
I sat there and watched... looking for any and all signs of life around the pond.

The koi seemed curious with my presence and one by one came close to shore to get a better look.

I was amazed at how quiet it was.
Even the songbirds seemed to be napping.

The only critters who appeared unaffected were the insects.

I watched several tiny butterflies flit from stone to stone beside the water...
each no bigger than a nickel.

As I sat on the shore of the pond, this little "skimmer" type dragonfly sat close to me on a stick.
(I have always been fascinated by dragonflies 
and for years felt a sort of spiritual connection to them.)

He would leave and return,...

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Counting Sheep

I wonder what it must be like to be burdened with a wool coat for one's entire life!

Sitting with the sheep and watching them on this particularly warm day,
I imagine that it might be something like a hot flash that never goes away.

Amazingly, the sheep never appear irritable from the heat.

They are, however, wise at picking what type of activity belongs with what temperature.

They are much more active in the late evenings these days...
while afternoons are spent beneath the shade.

I am sure that wintertime is their favorite
and that they never feel a chill.

One thing I will say is that sheep are stoic.
You never quite know how they feel about much of anything.

They are as peaceful as can be...
spending their active hours happily tearing off grass, chewing, swallowing,
only to later bring it all back up again and chew, chew, chew.

Gracie and her girls are quite secure in their tranquil world...
with no predators to upset the routine...
and they graciously share that sense of peace with anyone who will sit with them.

You only have to spend a few moments listening to the soothing chewing
and your vital signs drop... you mood mellows...
and for the time being, all is right with the world.
It's no...

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It's 6:30 in the morning and morning chores are finished.
The sun is just peaking above the hills;

quickly burning off the pre-dawn fog.

The garden is just waking up and I hear the hum of pollinators
busily flitting from blossom to blossom.

The dew on the asparagus fronds reminds me of frost.
(A condition to which I am not anxious to return!)

Watering was done the previous night and will be repeated this evening as well.

We are reaping the rewards daily...
with meals that include green beans, squash, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers and more.

The morning glories have just opened their smiling faces to greet the day...

capturing the rising sun in their centers.

The horses are in after a night of grazing.
We've been letting them out in the front pasture during the night hours
so that they can graze without bothersome flies and without annoying fly masks.

Once back in the dry lot, fly masks are on and they are ready for a morning of napping.

Ollie falls asleep with his fly mask half off.

The animal enclosures have all been cleaned, waters have been changed, 
and food has been distributed.

I walked the sheep back down to the bee yard.
They've been spending half of each week there and half in their own...

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Hot and Humid With a 100% Chance of Visitors

Boy, oh, boy, it's hot here!
But then I suppose if you are reading this from just about anywhere else in this country,
you are saying the same thing.
Seems it's hot just about everywhere!

It's not the heat that gets us so much here...
as the humidity that accompanies the heat.
Humidity just makes it feel all the more hot...
and sticky... really sticky!

We've turned our days around and swapped them with our nights.
All of the animals do their grazing now at night
and just sleep to survive the heat of the day.

I've been emptying and refilling water buckets twice daily to assure that the animals
have cold water to drink.
There's just nothing refreshing about 90 degree drinking water, now is there?

Earlier this week we had visitors...
a friend and her two daughters Bella and Nina who braved the heat
to come visit with the animals.

Ginger and MaryAnn were especially happy to have company.

And the sheep reaped the rewards of a whole pack of Ritz crackers.

The heat made Daphne and Chloe a little cranky.
These two bullheaded Houdini gals just refuse to keep their fly masks on.
I find them in the middle of the dust of the dry lot.
How they get them off, I haven't a clue.

So very out of character, Daphne gave...

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A Very Sad Day

If nothing else,
farm life teaches us 
that there is a deep and abiding truth to this:
To everything there is a season.

There is a time to plant and a time to harvest.
There is a time for birth and a time for death.

You cannot have one without the other, 
for it is the essence of this precious thing that we call life.

Chuck on left.  Tom on right.
We said our farewells to handsome Chuck,
half of our Bourbon Red Turkey boys,
last evening.

Early in the morning it seemed that Chuck was having a little trouble walking.
We assumed that he had a sore foot as he had had in the past.
And so the boys stayed in their yard for the day to minimize walking.
Tom spent most of the day in and out of the house...
Chuck remained indoors all day.

By evening, though, Chuck was unable to stand and would fall over when attempting it.
He thrashed about trying to keep his balance with his wings,
exhausting himself.
Watching him... so pale, frail, and unable to move...
we decided that it was best to call Dr. Becky to euthanize him.

And so old Tom is now our only surviving turkey.
I am sure he will miss Chuck's company,
as the two have been constant companions ever since hatching....
and they have followed me around every day...

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Pecking Order and a Rescue Mission

Two's company,
three's a crowd.
What is four?

In the case of the roos...
four seems to be just one too many.

I opened the rooster house yesterday morning, and these three came running out.

Running, as if to get as much distance between them and their house as possible.
Up the driveway towards the house they ran...
at full chicken speed!

It was concerning, however.
Where was number 4?
Where was poor Fish?
I walked over to the rooster pen, to find poor Fish standing alone in the doorway.
He slowly walked out of the pen and into the yard.
Something was obviously wrong.

And what struck me right away was his poor floppy comb.
(A floppy comb can be a sign of stress.)

Looking closer at Fish, I noticed that he had dried blood speckled down his back,
and his comb was looking a little battered.

It looks like Fish has been named as low man on the totem pole...
last in line of the pecking order.

I realized that some action needed to be taken to rescue Fish from this fate.
However, catching these fellows during the daylight hours while they are out free-ranging
would be impossible.

A chicken re-location seemed necessary, 
but it would have to wait til evening.

Once everyone is inside roosting, it is easy to pluck...

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A "Tail" of Two Kitties

By now I am sure you have met our house cat Ivy.

Ivy was a rescue from the local shelter...
Hubbs' birthday present.

Ivy lives the perfect cat life.
She sleeps inside at the foot of our bed,
has access to food and water 24/7,
and gets to go outside for adventures just about any time she chooses.

She's settled in to her routine quite nicely.

And I am sure you have run across Bobby our barn/garage/neighborhood cat
on one of your visits to the farm.

Bobby lives the perfect cat life as well (for a wanderlust).
He moves from barn to garage to Dr. Becky's barn...
staying several days at one particular place before moving on to the next.
He's an outdoor cat who has the benefit of a heat lamp to sleep under
in the colder weather (at each of his three homes),
and a supply of food and water at several locations.
He can be seen just about anywhere in a mile's radius...
prowling, hunting, adventuring.
Bobby is a friend to all... pigs, dogs, chickens, you name it.

With one exception.

For some reason, sweet Ivy just cannot stand when Bobby is around.
At times we will hear her outside screaming.
And of course we go running to see what is happening.
Each and every time we find her just feet away from Bobby

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On Independence

Grammie Camp is officially over.
(And let me say... the quiet is deafening!)
It's funny... at the beginning of our 8 days my brain hurt from trying to process the never-ending
chatter.  After all, I spend most of my days alone or with animals.
Conversation is a rare thing.
However, at the end of the 8 days it seems almost unnatural to have so much silence.

It may be no surprise to you that my purse is now adorned with Skylanders stickers.
What? You don't know Skylanders?  Consult your local six-year-old.

I knew that Sponge Bob wore square pants... 
but I had no idea that he lives in a pineapple under the sea.
(I may have needed these past 8 days more than I knew...
obviously my knowledge of pop-culture is sorely lacking.)

Now here is where it gets really juicy.
If you know me well.... make sure you are sitting down.
I have a confession to make.
I may have partaken in a Hamburger Happy Meal or two over the past few days.
No McDonalds workers could ever have picked me out of a lineup for at least the past 20 years.

Strike that....guilty as charged.... 
"Yes, Officer....blond, big nose, bird legs, late 50's, dark glasses, farmer's tan....

ordered a Chicken Nugget Happy Meal and a Hamburger...

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It's a Good Life

As I sit here at my desk, it is past 10 PM and I have just tucked Tyler in for the last time (for a while).
This is the first few moments of quiet time that I have had all day.
This particular little six-year-old loves to share each and every thought that comes into his head...
so our days were filled with much conversation.

He has kept me in stitches and touched my heart so many times these past days.
It's been a precious time...
one that I will always cherish, and hopefully one that he will remember forever.

To top it all off...Tyler lost his first tooth last night.
He laughed through happy tears...
unable to believe that he had been able to pull it out all by himself...
wishing that he were still in school so that he could show all of his friends.

We spent last evening saying goodbye to his farm friends...

And although there is much for me to catch up with around the farm,
and my free time will be greatly enjoyed...
I will miss his warm small hand in mine, his freely given hugs and kisses,
and that "I love you, Grammie" that I have heard several times daily.

These are gifts that I will keep wrapped inside my heart...
knowing his hand will never be as small as it is right now,
and that its...

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Still Hanging With the Boys

Yesterday morning started off hot and muggy,
so we seized the opportunity and hit the pool early.

The funny thing is, we were not alone.

No, the four roosters had ventured the one hundred yards between their house and ours...
proceeding down the back path to the pool.

While we swam, they pecked in the mulch and spied on us from above.

And when we were done swimming, they made their way home again.
They seem to love following a particular 6 year old wherever he goes.

Grammie Camp has superseded most farm work... except the necessities.
That means that weeding has gone by the wayside these past two weeks.
I may never recover.
Not that I love weeding or aspire to spend my time doing so,
however it seems that a majority of my spare time gets used up pulling unwanteds out of the ground.

There has to be a better way.
Perhaps changing one's mind about "what is a weed" might help.
In the case of the garden around the house, I have been able to do just that.
Take this patch of "weeds", for instance....

These are milkweeds.

And there was a day that I might have just pulled them out.
However, I have decided to allow them to remain.
After all, these plants are necessary in the life cycle of the Monarch...

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Grammie Camp 2.0

Today's post is a quickie.
It's Grammie Camp time again...
this time our little Pink Fairy is here to stay for 3 days.

My days are filled with baby play...
walks to visit the animals...

and walks to the blueberry patch to pick berries.

Mackenzie gets quite excited when she sees the blueberries.
She loves them!

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What Do You Do With A Scurvy Pirate?

What do you do with a scurvy pirate?

Make him walk the plank!

I was curious as to whether the Roos would follow me onto the pirate ship.

I should have known!
It was only a matter of time.

Now that they've been aboard, 
I am sure they will have many more adventures on the high seas.

"Arghhh!  Hoist the mainsail, matey!"  bellows Captain Petunia.

Now what kind of name is that for a scurvy pirate!

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My garden is my happy place...
although before today I might not have been willing to say that.

But, after 5 man-hours of weeding,
(I had help.  "Thank you Anna!")
it is finally looking as though it is loved once again.

We've been lucky.
It's been a summer of perfect garden weather thus far.
We've had adequate rain making watering just an occasional chore.
Sunshine and blue skies have been abundant.

Everything is growing...

like weeds!

Now I understand full well what is meant by the saying "growing like a weed!"
What is it about weeds that make them grow so rapidly?

With weeds slowing getting under control,
I am happy to stroll through the aisles between garden boxes,
inspecting the vegetables thriving within.

In spite of the proliferation of weeds,
this is my favorite time of the gardening cycle.

We eat from the garden daily.

Also, the perennial flowers that I have added around the fence over the years
are mature and all blooming...
making the garden an explosion of color.

Coneflowers (Echinacea) in every color...



green (my favorite)...

and orange!

Mountain phlox in fuchsia, with yellow trumpet vine above,
and wild yarrow below...


Bee balm (Monarda)...


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Fireworks and Floggings

These boys,
these crazy rooster boys have lost their heads!

You might have noticed from last week's posts that they have taken to following us around.

Any day now I expect them to be knocking on the front door!

This weekend they ventured as far as the barn...
which is a pretty good distance away from their home.

If they had walked just a little further up the lane, 
they would have ended up with a happy discovery...
(happy for them, not for us...or for the lady chickens that live up the lane!)
Luckily they turned around and headed home...
enough adventure for one day.

The thing is...
the following has escalated a bit.
Last Thursday before Tyler left the farm, he merrily ran down the driveway
to play on the pirate ship...
only to be followed by four sprinting chickens,
one of whom ended up flogging him.

Now, since these boys have not yet grown their spurs,
the flogging was frightening but not injurious.
The red shirt that Tyler had on that day may have set them off as red is a color of aggression
to roosters.

What we have noticed though, is that if you run
they will chase.

So, as it turns out...
Egg, Fish, Jelly and Petunia have added yet a new wrinkle to life on the farm.
((Macy... you might need to...

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This is me, yesterday afternoon.

Laid low by a virus that Hubbs was kind enough to share with me...
I did as little as was possible (relatively speaking.)(I assure you this is a rare occurrence.)
Gracie, on the other hand spends every afternoon like this, in the shade, avoiding the heat.

The morning was consumed by the equines (the farrier came and trimmed everyone's hooves),

a run to the recycling center, the local thrift store (I had some items to donate),
and our John Deere dealership to pick up new mower blades,
(mowing this farm is something like mowing a mine field...
all manner of monsters reach up and try to mangle your blades!)
and a stop at my favorite tomato farm for early season hoop-house tomatoes
that taste like the best of August with each juicy bite.

And yes, I have become the queen of run-on sentences...
let's call it poetic license.

Errands run, however, I assumed the supine position and did nothing
except will my body to fight this virus at warp speed.
I can't afford to be anything but efficient this particular week...
with a family picnic/party just days away.

I ventured back out mid-afternoon to throw some hay, gather eggs, feed goats,
and freshen water buckets.

While out, I...

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It's All In A Day

I sat down to write this post (at 9:00 PM last evening)
and the sun had already set.
Can it be?  The days are already getting shorter!
Where has summer gone?

We have been so very lucky this year and have enjoyed so many days that look just like this:

Yesterday was one of those days and I took advantage of every moment of the beautiful sunshine.
(I have to tell you... my arms are dark as can be.
The rest of me?  Not so much.
I am sporting a very fashionable farmer's tan.
But this is neither here nor there.)

The day started at 5:30... with morning chores top on the list.
Two hours of weeding were followed by a major pruning of the grape arbor

which is also where the kiwi berries are growing.

All three goat pens were mowed.

This weekend is our family SummerFest,
so I will be concentrating on getting the farm in tip top shape this week.
In preparation, I made two batches of pizza crusts.

I use this recipe and pull of small pieces of dough, roll them out nice and thin and then cook them on the griddle...making individual flatbreads that can be topped and placed in the pizza oven.

Dr. Becky called to say she would be over in the afternoon to vaccinate the horses, donkeys,
pigs and sheep...
and also to...

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Catching Up

The sun rose yesterday some time after 5 AM...and as our bedroom
filled with light, our feet hit the ground...
And we didn't stop until the sun set.

It was one of those most perfect days...
temperatures in the low 80's, beautiful blue skies dotted with puffy white clouds.

After spending the previous few days with our Pink Fairy,
and before that with our favorite scurvy pirate, Tyler...
we really needed to get caught up with some extra farm chores.

By 8:30 AM, the animals were all fed and watered and cleaned,
and the chicken houses were stripped and cleaned as well...
and two loads of laundry were done (sheets hung on the line).

We don't usually work like this on Sundays, but the weather was just so perfect...
we had to take advantage of it.
A heat wave is scheduled to linger for the next two weeks.
Working in hot and humid weather is no fun.
Hence the push to get things done yesterday.

We started the day taking the horses to the upper pastures for grazing time.
Usually they just go out into the front pasture...through a gate...nice and easy.
However, the front pasture is in need of a rest.
(There are presently more weeds than grass.)

Our upper pastures are actually much nicer and very...

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March, April.... May? Hey!

*tap tap* Hello? Anyone still out there?

Yes, it is I.... slinking back into this blawg after neglecting it for, well... all of 2014 so far. *Sigh*
No excuses, really... just can't seem to cram enough into each day lately, let alone post updates on here.
But that is all about to change! (Really?) Yes.
I have a rather large and growing collection of pictures from the last three months I'm just about to bust to share. With anyone. Just not today. *Insert evil laugh* I'll be posting them on Friday Farm Fotos over the next few weeks, spreading them out so it will be more exciting that way. Kinda like a cliffhanger. Or not.
I'm also going to start something new around here; I started writing in my journal again back a few months ago, and I'm thinking of sharing some of my short stories from it with you. Sometimes I just write nonsense~ well make that most of the time~ but some of them are memories from my childhood and other musings that I want to put on here if for no other reason than to put it out there for someone other than me to read.
Oh, and something else~ I'm trying to familiarize myself with all this social media stuff by posting a picture every morning on Twitter or Instagram or...

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And.... October.

*Tap tap tap*
Hello? Anyone still out there?

Thanks to those of you who have sent emails checking up on me and making sure everything was okay. I never meant to be away so long....
So much has happened since my last post; along with the usual "busyness" of summer, my aunt and uncle were involved in a very serious car accident in July. They have both recovered for the most part, but since they are in their late 70's, it was a long road for them. Hubby and I tried to help them out as much as we could, so along with taking care of their place and my Dad's yard as well as our own, summer came and went before we knew it.

In August, we had to have Daisy put down. Those of you who've read my blog for a long time will remember her story~ she was our very first sheep; a bottle lamb. One day I found her limping very badly on her back leg, not able to put any weight on it it all. I wasn't sure if it was a hoof problem, so I checked it out but didn't find anything. By the second or third day, it was clear she had either dislocated her hip or worse, it was broken. And by this time she was in so much discomfort, she had stopped eating. We had a vet come and look at her but she advised that any...

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Friday Farm Fotos: Spring chicks

It's just part of having chickens. They get old. And stop laying.
And die.
Of course, around here they always die of natural causes....
Once a hen's laying days are over on the Fraker Farm, they get put "out to pasture" so to speak. In other words, I turn them out every morning and let them spend their days roaming and foraging to their hearts content, and I figure if they become a meal for a predator at least they died happy, since most chickens think it's heaven to get to free-range at all, let alone all day long.
I usually don't keep more than 4 or 5 laying hens at a time anymore simply because I stopped selling (and giving away) eggs and the feed is too expensive to justify keeping more hens than we need to in order to have enough eggs for two people.
I bought four Red Star chicks a few years ago, after having only Rhode Island Reds as my primary layers for many years. I fell in love with these calm, beautiful girls right away. Even as chicks they were so sweet and curious... I could stick my hand down in their box and instead of freaking out like most breeds do, they would come to my hand and peck at my wedding band along with any mole or freckle they thought might need...

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Friday Farm Fotos: Plow, Plant, and Pray

Lily and Tiny share a moment at the fence.

I found a quote on the internet not too long ago in which the beautiful Audrey Hepburn once said,
 "To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow." 
I love that. 
I also know firsthand how frustrating it is to plant one day and then the weather make you lose all hope in your garden the very next day. 
Ugh. Thanks a lot, Mother Nature.

(Sorry, I'm a child of the 70's. :)

Hubby plowed our little garden spot in early March. 
Here he is at work with the sheep cheering him on in the barn behind him. 
Gotta have teamwork to make a garden.

The ground was so beautiful and dark.... thanks to some heavy doses of manure.

Hopes were high for our little garden this year! 
We planted onions, broccoli, and cabbage near the end of March.

Then it snowed.

Aaaand we had a frost. A hard one.

And our poor broccoli... eh, it didn't look so good.

The blossoms on my apple and pear trees didn't fare so well, either.
No fruit from them this year. *pout*

Hubby left the broccoli alone, and it actually came back to life after a few days of warm sunshine. 
Here he is working the rows with "Cubby".

I think everything will be alright after all this cold weather. Time will tell.
We put...

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Home Is A Good Place To Be!

It seems our beautiful sunny weather has come to a temporary end.
With rains predicted today and tomorrow,
I thought it best to move Gracie and her girls back from the bee yard to their own yard,
where they would have shelter from the rain.
(Not that they are ever opposed to standing out in the rain!)

They have been just a little out of sorts since their move to the bee yard.
Every time the gator drives by them they come running to the gate.

And if they are not actively eating, they are lying by the gate...
giving me the idea that they really want to go "home!"

So, yesterday, with Ritz crackers in hand,
I led them back to their yard.

Up the driveway...

down the orchard lane...

to Home Sweet Home!
And life was good again.

The pigs were certainly happy to see them coming.
Although the pigs had free run of the sheep yard in their absence,
I think they missed their company.

MaryAnn was smiling from ear to ear.
(Or maybe it was the fact that I had Ritz in my hands.
I did give the pigs their treat as well!)

After the move was complete and the unpacking done,
I headed to the donkey yard,
drug a chair inside with me,
and had a seat.

It wasn't long before I had a cat in my lap...

and very soon after that, one...

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Hay! Hay! Hay!

If you have followed this blog for the past few years,
then you know the struggles we have had in trying to get a first cutting of hay.

Cutting hay this time of year can be difficult...
and for the past few years, the weather just was not cooperative.
We'd cut... it would rain... we'd lose the hay.

Finally, this week the weather has been perfect.
Warm days, dry nights, gentle steady breeze.

The hay was cut Monday.
Raked yesterday.

And baled last evening.

Perfect timing.

Last evening we sent a wagon load up the hay elevator...

and into the top of the barn.

Lush, green wonderful grass hay.

And while we worked, the horses drooled over the wagon of hay.
"Don't worry, guys... you'll get this eventually."

We have a great situation.
Our neighbor, a dairy farmer, makes the hay for us...
We take about 20% and give him the rest as payment for making it.
Hopefully it is a win-win situation for us all.
Having some of our hay, without having to buy all of the equipment is wonderful for us...
and less hay that we have to buy in the end.

After the hay was stowed....

"Are you sure you are done?"

A few views from the hayloft...
(From left to right as I look from the hayloft)

A little closer...
you can see where the...

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Mornings In The Garden

Mornings in the garden...
a favorite time in a favorite place.

Morning chores are finished and the sun has risen above the horizon,
but still shining horizontally across the land.

This perfect light makes everything growing look electrified...
colors so vibrant they almost look artificial!

The perennials around the border of the garden are just starting to bloom.

And roses are climbing the garden fence,
intertwining with grape vines and trumpet vines.

As I go from garden box to garden box,
I here the tinkling of garden chimes.

A tiny wren chitters his warning...

when I get too close to his house...

"Chitter, chitter, chitter, chitter" he yells at me...
protecting his family within.

A brilliant blue sky above and cool breeze on my skin,
makes my chores pleasant...
none of it feels at all like work...
it's more like spreading a little love around the garden.

In many boxes there is basil that came up from last year's seed.
We'll have basil enough to share with an army this year!

Thank goodness we'll have just as many tomatoes.
I've pruned the tomato plants and staked them up.
Each day they grow taller and stronger.
Juicy heirlooms of every color are just a few weeks away!

I silently water, pull weeds and...

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Why I Wear A Watch

Oh, what fun I had with yesterday's mystery post!
Today we return to the ebb and flow of farm life...
the rhythm that everyone counts on.

Of all the animals on the farm,
I believe the equines feel most secure when they are on a schedule.
There are certain things that they look forward to each day at certain times.
And believe me, if we deviate from the routine, they let us know!

I've been letting them out in the front pasture in the very early morning.
It is more comfortable for them to be out when
 it is cooler,
and before the flies get busy.

When I arrive back at the barn later in the morning,
they are ready to come in for their breakfast.
It is at this time that they get a pelleted vitamin and mineral chow.
(all of my equines put on weight quite easily and so they do not get a high calorie grain)

Every morning it's the same deal.
Everyone comes in except Red.
He is always the last one to the barn,
and usually requires a little round-up by Annie.

She takes her job quite seriously.... and although she sounds a little vicious,
she is all bark...no bite!

Ollie, who is already in the Littles' stall, eating,

gets bumped from his dish by Red.

Obviously horses can't do a higher level of reasoning,
or Red...

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Are You Ready?

So much of life at the farm happens when we are not looking.
And the pond is no exception to this.
(This is the point where you must go back and read yesterday's post if you missed it!)
I know...it was cruel of me to make you wait a day for the mystery to be solved.
Hopefully it will be worth it.
(If you click on the photos, they will enlarge to give you a better view!)

In a glen nestled between shale hills of oak and pine and walnut there is a small pond
teeming with life.
The pond is home to 4 domestic ducks, a few pairs of wild mallards,
and goodness knows how many wild critters.

The humans that tend this pond deliver feed daily for their beloved ducks.
They also throw fish food into the pond each day for the koi.

Although the ducks actually prefer the fish food, they do
supplement their diet with nibbles from the bowl from time to time...
but not enough to ever empty the bowl...and certainly not to drag it, empty, 
down to the water's edge.

Who is responsible for this mischief?
Let's see....

Pekin Pete:  " Have you noticed how quickly this bowl gets emptied lately?"

Cayuga Cal: "Yea, thank goodness we have the fish food to eat!"

Pekin Pete quacks up, laughing, "Yea, poor...

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A Mystery At The Pond

The good thing about farm mysteries is...
they can most always be solved with the use of the game cameras!

We've had a mystery at the pond for the past several weeks.
You see, our pond was man-made about 17 years ago
(before there were rules about making ponds).
It is fed by several underground springs... one of which comes from our old log cabin,
whose basement serves as a springhouse.

Over the years we have raised several groups of ducklings...
Perkins, Cayugas, Khaki Campbells, Swedish Runners.
Only four domestic ducks remain.

Several wild mallard couples are amongst the many squatters that call this area home.

From time to time we have stocked the pond with fish to supplement
the "mysterious" koi that somehow made it into the pond.
(I am told that a friend may have slipped his little koi into the pond years ago.)
In the past 10 years these koi have reproduced and grown.

At the present time we have 8 huge koi.

A whole host of bullfrogs and spring peepers and turtles call the pond home as well.
And of course there are the transient visitors...
wood ducks, blue herons, and a whole host of mammalian immigrants.

On the edge of the pond is a structure that has housed baby ducklings from time to...

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Between Showers

Summer rains...
I've gotta say...
I love 'em!

Yesterday was one of those days.
All day long it looked and felt like evening.
It was the kind of day that sent me straight to my sewing room...
and there I stayed!

I only ventured outside for animal chores,
and luckily they were timed when there was no rain falling.

A rainy day like yesterday saves me a ton of work
as I will not need to water the garden for a couple of days.
And when the sun comes back out again,
everything will be even more green and lush.
(and in need of mowing!)

In between the storms,
everyone came out to eat their meals...

and socialize.

I stopped in the garden to pick my dinner.

Sweet, sweet sugar peas....yummy right off the vine!
It's almost like having my own produce market.

We should eat kale every single day!
Fresh, fresh, fresh!

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Oh, how I will miss this in the long winter months.

These need a little more time...teeny weeny.
Not bad for a quick picking between rain showers.

It's what's for dinner.

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