Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Year's end

Without the chickens I have not had much to tell this year.

Without their antics to report I am left with this for amusement:

Yes, she went to school like that.

Cadbury the Rabbit steadfastly refuses to do anything more exciting that eat the speaker wire when he is let into the house. (Sound familiar anyone?) Although we now have to tie his hutch doors shut as he has learned to jiggle them until the slide locks are open. Hmmm, note to self re-evaluate amusement factor of escape artist rabbit.

But we have also spent more time together since
our move:

So it has been a good year. Eventful, but not as blog- worthy I guess. At least not in this capacity.

But we be ordering new chicks for spring and Hubby (our "Lone Rooster") has assured me there will be a home for them when they get here.

Long live Urban Chicks Farm in 2011.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Making pie


Since it is just the 4 of us tomorrow the girls and I spent the morning (the WHOLE morning, those of you who cook with children will understand) making a deep dish apple pie (Mesha & Hubby's choice) and a pumpkin pie (Juju & I). Juju cut out the oak leaves with extra dough and Mesha wove the lattice top. Fun was had by all. And, brother dear, we remembered sugar.

Friday, November 12, 2010

continental divide

There are no mountains in Minnesota.

Friday, October 29, 2010

This makes me happy

On the far left is the clothespin "dress" that Mom sent me soon after we moved. It is the same one we used when I was a kid. At that time I thought hanging clothes was stupid when we had a perfectly good dryer. Thanks Mom, I smile every time I use it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fall Evenings


I am in love with our fireplace.

I didn't think I would be - I have been fiercely devoted to the idea of the wood stove or better yet, the masonry stove. Fireplaces are inefficient and drafty. . . and oh so beautiful. Hubby banked the fire last night, and this morning there were enough coals to start a new one.

Spending the evening (after the girls have gone to bed) curled up with a book and a glass of wine, maybe a blanket on the loveseat is nice, but add the fireplace with a crackling fire and it becomes heaven.

BTW - the glove garland is not meant to be decorative, but rather an indoor line to dry snow encrusted accessories when winter does come. But it is cute.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Twilight of summer


Wow, a whole month has gone by - what have I really done?

The leaves are changing and falling (the cosmos, however, have yet to realize it is fall and are still blooming) Hubby and I are still, ever so slowly, weeding and barking the yard. Cutting back the overgrown shrubs and finding evidence of flowers we have yet to see bloom.

No coop or clothesline is yet built.

Cadbury did get removable wooden sides for his hutch - a little more comfortable I am sure when the wind picks up. He also has a shallow box of straw upstairs to sleep in as the nights casually slip into the upper 30s.

But like the world around me - I am preparing for a nap.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Eggs and the Equinox

Juju came home from school to tell us that during the full moon this week her science teacher said it was possible to balance an egg on its end. Hubby tried on Tuesday for S&G but could not get it to work. The full moon was last night and Voila!
It is on the narrower of the 2 ends, both on the tablecloth and on the bare table.

A search on Google assures me that this is an urban myth and eggs can be balanced at anytime of the year. But that sucks all the fun out of it doesn't it? Besides, most the photos I found online showed eggs balanced on the wider end and suggested using a pinch of salt on the table to facilitate this trick.

I prefer to think Mother Nature is a wondrous thing and will continue to propagate this "bad science" After all, according to science, bumblebees cannot fly. Oh wait apparently this is an urban legend too.

The truth can suck the fun out of everything.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

another new bug!


A black ladybug! Like the previously seen preying mantis, I have only read about these. Also like the mantis this elicited excited exclamations. (Say that 10 times fast)

This one was kicking it on the sheets I had hung on the (still temporary) line. It seemed to be really attracted to the warm white fabric.

The days are finally cooling a bit, I spent an hour today ripping the ivy away from the kitchen window and door - it had started invading.

The crock pot is full of chicken stock - to be pressure canned tomorrow night. There is double chocolate zucchini muffins in the freezer, and a couple loaves of maple nut zucchini bread on the counter. I have 3 bananas in the fridge begging to be made into bread. One of the neighbors behind us is allowing me to pick apples from his overloaded tree this week (tomorrow a.m.?) in exchange for a pie. Good thing too, as the family polished off the last of the cherry apple fruit leather this afternoon. I have started putting ripe roma tomatoes in the freezer to can when I have enough.

It won't be enough to stop grocery shopping, but it is a start.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Summer Bounty

I would like to claim this as my own.

But I can't.

Except for the Mr. Stripey tomato Juju picked today (far right front) that will soon become part of the BLTs we plan to eat for dinner, this was brought to us yesterday by our resident earth goddess Deb. All of the spiny oriental cucumbers will be dried for rabbit snacks this winter, and the small zucchini for soup this fall. The peppers will be frozen and the tomatoes will be tossed with feta, onions, olives and the smooth cucumbers for Greek salad - yum. The big zuch will become double chocolate cake for the girls' lunches.

I am not sure what is blocking my ability to grow massive amounts of food - believe me I am open to suggestions - but I am forever thankful for the generosity of neighbors.

Friday, August 13, 2010

But it is so pretty . . .

Yeah, I know. Invasive. Very invasive. I will pull it out, I swear. Really.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Visitor


I have never seen a preying mantis outside of gardening books.

The girls and I attracted the attention of my visiting brother with all our squealing in the front yard.

He just shook his head and went inside to finish his coffee.

He always thought I was strange anyway.

I have gotten 1 full grown yellow crookneck from this plant, BTW. The other 3 have shriveled up and died at about 3" long. Luckily my neighbors don't have such problems and I have enough large ones to make zucchini bread and enough small ones to marinade in balsamic vinaigrette and grill. Yum.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Garden update

Mostly neglected unknown lettuce.










Kentucky wonder pole beans. The books said the first week of July is the last chance to plant these.







blue field peas (last years leftover seed) and onions (leftover from earlier planting)








2 yellow squash!











Basil, onion and roma tomatoes (no blossom end rot! It is amazing what watering does for the happiness of our plants!) There are also cherry tomato and Mr. Stripey tomato + carrots (seeded 3x now with new seeds and minimal sprouting) and a single radish (from 6 seeds leftover from a couple years ago.

For the most part I feel good about this year's garden. The soil has not been amended (or weeded) for at least 4 years and we started planting in June. I've been watching the sun movement and have big plans for next year (I always do!) Sheet mulching will play a big part in my fall projects.

We have a lot of information sources here. Across the street is a retired botanist and we have met a couple neighbors who are serious about their vegetable gardens. (#1 advice - mulch) Plus the local extension service is 6 blocks away.

I have my criminal barrel that helps keep the plants healthy, and me feeling happily subversive. I have rabbit pellets to side dress. (no need to compost them! It has something to do with their vegetarian diet)

All of this makes me optimistic for next spring!

1st tomatoes!


Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes! Mesha and I picked them 10 minutes ago.

She put them on the counter so she can share with Juju when she wakes up.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

gifts of the garden

This was left on our front porch yesterday.
I have been much more vigilant with watering this year. I have green tomatoes, and I have pinched off my basil once already. But any midsummer bounty is beyond my current gardening skills.

This is one more reason to get to know your neighbors.

From this basket of cucumbers and banana peppers I made Juju extremely happy. She loves refrigerator pickles. The trick will be to get her to leave them alone for a couple days.
The yellow squash is in the fridge. Dinner tonight. Yum.

Monday, June 28, 2010

I love surprises

In the back corner, by the parking area I found this!!!

The tree is old - half dead, being attacked by overzealous vines.

But it is an APPLE TREE!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

It's not honeysuckle


What a nice addition to the the side yard off the kitchen

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A home for Cadbury


Hubby finished the hutch - just in time for the rain to stop. The rabbit loves his 2 level home. He can be seen cavorting on the bottom before racing up the ramp to stand on his hind legs peeking out the windows. We will get some straw to fill the "loft" space. It is designed to match the blacksmith shop.

And the only thing he had to buy was the hardware cloth. Good Man, my spouse.

We believe there is paint to match in the basement, otherwise we have a trip to the home improvement store soon.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Morning Coffee Spot


I am the only one awake. I love starting my day like this.

fox

Hubby and I were woken at o'dark-thirty by fox calls. They are very strange sounding - I had never realized they made noise before. The girls woke up crying, scared by the strange new sound. (although once the windows were closed, their fan turned on, and tucked in together they went back to sleep) Mesha and I have both seen one of them, beautiful really. He (we think) is bold and wanders confidently through the street and yards, but shies away from anything that moves. But we have seen no raccoons or possums and our (red) squirrel population is much smaller than our (gray) squirrel population in Minneapolis.

But we better make sure our outdoor rabbit hutch is secure.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Grand Plans

Planning is may favorite part of any project.

Sitting by the fire with a warm beverage in January with a pile of seed catalogs and a pad of graph paper.

Using Ikea kitchen software for a remodel I will never do.

Putting together a wardrobe via catalogs of clothes. I do end up buying a single outfit, but rarely does it go farther. My hubby still owns more shoes than I do.

Amidst unpacking our life - Wishing we could have fit the couch and the tumbling compost bins - we are planning.

Craigslist has failed to offer up a rabbit hutch in our price range so we are designing one to be built w/ free materials offered instead.

It will go here:
It is the flagstone side yard with a narrow gate to the front, the kitchen door (on the other side of the tumble of ivy) and a closet sized potting shed. Roses and Clematis are climbing the fence and the tree is an unknown flowering variety. Just in front of the ivy are steps to the covered back deck.
The clothesline will go here: Next to "Wheel Forge" in the lower yard - same level as the community laundry room. It doesn't get as much sun as the upper yard, but it doesn't have kids running through it as much either.

The hen house, and enclosed yard (fox, hawks and coyotes oh my) will be here on the edge of the upper yard in the uncultivated area by the lilacs. But not until next year I think. The hens I want are out of stock at my pet chicken (black copper maran, gold laced polish or wyandotte, a standard frizzel or silkie plus an Araucana for those who want to know)











Now where to put the bee hive??

Saturday, May 22, 2010

square foot gardening


I have had the book for nearly 2 decades. Now finally put to use.

In this 3 1/2x3 1/2 raised bed are 2 chocolate cherry tomatoes, 1 Mr. Stripey tomato, 1 roma tomato, 9 purple basil, 5 large leaf basil, 4 marigolds (seeds planted by Mesha in school for mother's day, carefully moved here) 27 white onions and 120 carrots.

Of course I will have to cover it tonight - it has been dropping below 50 degrees.


And in this corner - Mesha's (everbearing) strawberry and peppermint stick zinnia garden.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

And by the afternoon . . .

At breakfast


Welcome to Colorado


This is the front yard at 12:15 this morning.

It is melting already, the blossoms bouncing back.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

New Digs


We rented the house for the yard.

We don't move in until Tuesday, when our POD is delivered, but I mowed the lawn yesterday.

The cats are ensconced in the house, not allowed out yet. Cadbury is waiting patiently for an outdoor hutch to replace his medium sized pet carrier and occasional leash time outside. (He has to be watched tho - he slipped his harness and hid under the back deck for a couple panicked hours yesterday)

The shed has been okayed to be Hubby's shop.

There is a lot of yard work. All the roses, honeysuckle, etc are overgrown. The vinca, boston ivy and unwanted grasses need to be pulled up or tamed. But we keep finding new flowers - poppies, rembrant tulips, irises . . .

Someone put a lot of love and work into this property once.

The other bonus is it is 2 miles from work and the Denver area seems to be riddled with bike trails. The option to commute via bicycle was a major feature we were looking for.

Oh and having 4 hens (the most allowed in city limits) is in the lease. WOO HOO!

There are more stairs than we would like, but the house itself in a single level. The girls are running around the backyard happily - and isn't that the most important feature of any home?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

It looks so sad and lonely . . .


I know it is for the best. But I miss them.

The Mastons called today - Jane Doe laid an egg while sitting on one of the girls' lap. LOL

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sir Cadbury meets Waldo the Hamster


He also tried to cuddle up to Ivan the housecat - who ran away and hid in our bedroom.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Changes

The hens are going to a new home on Tuesday.

In a surprising turn of life, I have received a transfer to Sheridan, CO. The transfer is not a surprise, Hubby and I decided it was time for a new place to call home over the winter. But the speed of it all is the surprise. We have 2, maybe 3 weeks before we make the 15 hour drive to a city where we know not a soul. It is both exciting and scary.

And I just paid this year's poultry permit fee.

This does not mean Urban Chicks Farm is dead - but it may be only a cherry tomato plant on the deck of an apartment this year. To paraphrase Jenna Woginrich from the first post of her blog , Urban Chicks Farm is not a place but an idea. And ideas can move with you.

So we are packing up the family, the bunny (who will now be an inside pet) and the cats (we are going to have faith that we will find a house that allows cats) and move to a new life.

The henlets will be moving to Milaca, a new addition for a friends and their 3 daughters. They have agreed to keep us updated.

Stay with us - we will be starting from (chicken) scratch once again.

That was bad - none of you deserve such pun-ishment.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rabbit Update

Sir Cadbury, Duke of Hossenfeffer is doing well. Hubby made a hutch with a re-purposed wood bin and a combo of leftover chicken wire and hardware cloth. His left eye is completely open now and he seems happy and healthy. Better sight has made him more energetic, so all of us have scratches on our hands, but he is still a welcome addition

No photos - dead battery in the camera.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

the easter bunny


Every family get together we leave with more than we brought. Today was no different.

My uncle gave me 2 bags of feed for the hens and my cousin gave the girls art supplies and dress up clothes.

But now we also have a rabbit. Meet Sir Cadbury (bock bock bock) He is the runt of a litter and has been a little mangled by others on the farm he is from. We don't even know how old he is or what kind.

I had intended to get a rabbit this year, but I was more thinking of going to the Shepherd's Festival in May and getting an angora. But Sir Cadbury is free and my daughters are ecstatic.

After they are in bed, Hubby and I will clean his left eye (currently matted shut) and see if he needs vet attention. Tomorrow there will be a trip to Fleet Farm to get a water bottle and pellets while Hubby builds a hutch.

At least I don't need another permit for him. The hutch will also live inside the hen yard so the pellets can fall through and mix with the straw. Using this compost should repel wild rabbits. Bonus!

On a different note - I don't remember this kind of weather during Easter weekend during the last 7 years. Usually it is cold and nothing green is coming up. There were even tomato starts at home depot! Mostly in early April here in MN the only plant options are forced flower bulbs.

The girls and I plan to plant lettuce and peas this week.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

12 angry hens


Okay only 5.

The girls are still limited to their yard. They protest this.

Loudly.

And often.

The only time they were distracted from this was when a mouse nest full of baby mice was uncovered during their constant scratching around.

It was a brutal buffet. They swallow them whole like a snake would. Gross I know, but in those moments I saw the link between reptiles and birds.

When they were done, they all crowded around the closed door to their pen to protest their containment.

Loudly.

Monday, March 29, 2010

beautiful day


Any morning starting with freshly ground coffee has a good start but today . . .

The girls and I rode our bicycles up Victory Memorial Parkway to Webber Park. Round trip is about 10 miles. We did it leisurely, as Juju has but a single speed and Mesha is on a tag-a-long style attached to my own cruiser style bike. I love the parkway. Since it is Monday most of the people out were older folks without headphones and so the smiles and good mornings were a welcome change to the usual curt nod one gets.

When we got home we had lunch and while Mesha napped with Hubby, Juju and I went outside.

While she took pictures, I cleaned up the landscape beds. I have always done much of my vegetable gardening in containers, but this year I am going to put my faith in the 5 years of mulch and compost and *gasp* garden in the ground. I dumped old potting soil onto the leaf mulch (now raked up into it's proper place) and stacked up most of the pots by the garage to be posted in the free section of Craigslist later this week. I cleaned up Hubby's attempt at earthworm farming - now a container of mud and stagnant water that smelled like a pigsty - pouring that on the beds also.

I see that the PM rhoderdendron and also the hazelnut shrub I bought at the Friends School Plant Sale last year are budding (WOO HOO!) AND there are alpine strawberries putting out fresh leaves!

Then I went inside for a spell and read.

The rest of the day was spent that way. Work a little, read a little. The sun was shining and the birds were singing.

Only the hens are not thrilled. They have been regulated to their yard (a mere 16x20 ft mind you) to give the plants a chance to grow before they destroy them. There got a little extra scratch for their inconvenience. For a little while, at least, they are content.

Now on to knitting. Mesha's shrug is 1/2 done and due by Easter.