Homestead Update

Since Ed updated you on the bees I thought I would  update you on the rest of the homestead.

A couple months ago, I found out I had an umbilical hernia. While we waited for the insurance company to decide if I could have surgery, and then get said surgery scheduled, my doctor gave me one order: No lifting and no straining. Great.

I had visions of spending another summer completely out of commission. I am now happy to report that I had the surgery, it was a success, and I have just been given the go ahead to gradually increase the work I am able to do. Yes, I am obeying the “gradually” rule because I really want to get better.

Since I didn’t know for sure if I would be able work outside this summer, I decided to not have a garden. For the first time in years, I did not buy any seeds or plants. I keep feeling like I’m forgetting something. I am going to use this summer to plan next year’s garden, and work on getting the ground ready.

My camera got knocked off the table with the lens open, and suffered some damage. Sometimes, it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Chicken Girl took these pictures, and had trouble getting consistent focus.

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Thyme growing inside the tire. If you look closely at the right side of  the picture, you might be able to make out the blue flowers on the Borage plant.

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Love in a Mist

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Wild grapes

The thyme survived the winter, and there are some volunteer sunflowers.  Last summer, I planted some Borage and Love in a Mist, but they just decided to come up now. Gotta love those unexpected blessings. I’ve found wild grapes growing in one of the fence rows, and some of the mulberry trees are producing like crazy. The blackberries we planted last year survived for the most part, and a few plants even have some green fruit.

The lawn and weeds have taken off too. Unfortunately, one of our weed eaters, and both lawn mowers are out of commission. Ed will probably want to tell you about that. I did pull a few weeds yesterday, but I got tired quickly, and decided I probably shouldn’t over do it.

The dogs have finally decided to stay put. Ed is two thirds finished with a new dog house, and they have already moved in. Libby is still digging like crazy, but she has found other places beside the fence. We just have to watch for the sink holes!

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Meeko and Chicken Girl “helping” Ed build the new dog house.

My mom’s best friend decided that Chicken Girl needed a better chicken coop, so she bought one and had it shipped to us. Moony and his girls are living there, and Sunny and company were finally moved from the oldest coop to the new one that we built. Everyone seems happy for now, and the eggs are coming steadily again.

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Moony and the girls in the new coop

Chicken Girl and I finished the school year, and we were both ready. Several months ago, I told you we were getting ready to start dissection in Biology. She did one crayfish, and begged me not to make her do any more. I didn’t, but I adjusted her grade accordingly. Oh, she just had a birthday. She’s seventeen. Time sure flies.

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Chicken Girl and the unfortunate crayfish.

Last week, we had three days in the 90’s and three nights of some intense thunderstorms. We didn’t have any serious damage; just a few limbs down off the big elm tree near the garage. One of those mornings, I stepped out on front porch just to take a quick look around. The weeds all survived. So did this guy.

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Frog just off the front porch.

This morning about 5:00, Ed and I heard a dog barking in our front yard. It wasn’t one of ours. We got up, looked, didn’t see anything, and went back to bed. When we got back up later, I realized two of the cats were outside. Captain came in, but Adora didn’t. We found her this afternoon. She was alive, and she didn’t have any marks we could find, but she was obviously not good. The vet couldn’t find any marks either at first. She has super thick fur. When he finally did find them, there were three or four bite marks and they were on her back end. So, he gave her fluids, antibiotics, steroids, and liquid nutrition. He said to bring her home, keep her warm (her temperature was below normal), and call him in the morning to let him know how she’s doing.  Now she’s covered up in a box in Chicken Girl’s room.

This is a picture I took of her a few days ago: A living bookend. I thought the glowing eyes were funny. IMG_2114

Well, that’s all the news for now.

Connie

 

 

 

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Run, Run, Run!

Seems like all we did this week was run.

We made two 100 mile round trips to Liberty. and one 140 mile round trip to Independence this week, for doctor’s appointments and other personal business. Needless to say, we didn’t get much done on the homestead.

However, we did find a supplier for free wood pallets and other cool stuff from a store in Liberty. Look what we brought home yesterday!

wood frame with pallets in the background.

wood frame with pallets in the background.

Since we still don’t have the cold frame finished, Ed is thinking about using part of one of the pallets to frame the windows. Lord willing, his next two days off (Monday and Tuesday), will be “stay at home and catch up on projects” days.

Even with all the running, we did manage to get some school done. Most of what we did this week was literature. Since she was having to do a lot of sitting and waiting, I made her take books with her. She was not happy, but she did it. Today we started some Shakespeare, as well as reading “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” . Next week will have some “catch up on school” days as well.

The days that Ed worked, I got a few projects finished. I got some goldenrod picked and then I hung all my herbs out in the garage to dry.

goldenrod

goldenrod

drying herbs

drying herbs

I started drying them this way a few years ago, when we lived in Independence. I had a bumper crop of herbs and needed to get them all harvested before a forecasted frost. I crammed everything I could get into paper grocery sacks and stuck them on a shelf in the back of the house. Time got away from me and I didn’t get anything done with them. A few months later, I opened the bags, expecting to find rotted plant matter. What I found was perfectly dried herbs. I’ve been drying them that way ever since. The challenge this year was finding a place to hang the bags. I thought about the basement, but its too damp. I finally settled on the garage. I would have suspended them from the rafters, but I didn’t have any way to reach that high.

I also finished my first fall decorating project.

maple syrup bottle candle holders

maple syrup bottle candle holders

It’s the same concept as the blue ones I did awhile back. These are maple syrup bottles. I coated the inside with a shade of acryllic paint called “nutmeg”. Since the little handles are solid glass, I covered them with hemp rope. The leaves on the front are real maple leaves from the trees in our front yard. I coated them in about a ton of Mod Podge, to make them stay on. Then I tied on the raffia bows. I think they turned out well. The candles were too big for the bottles, so I had to whittle them down a little to make them fit. I guess that is as good a reason as any for learning to make my own candles!

Of course, on the days that Ed worked, we still had school, and Katherine still had to read. Here she is reading Les Miserables. Bookworm is reading along.

Kat and Bookworm reading Le Mis

Kat and Bookworm reading Le Mis

Ed is working on a series of posts about our critters, but I have to say something about Bookworm here. She is Captain’s daughter, from her first and only litter. At our last house, she practically lived outside. Now, she won’t go out unless we make her, and then she climbs the front door screen, yelling at us to let her back in. She divides her time between Katherine’s room and the tables in front of the picture window in the front room. I’m not sure what she was  thinking here. Maybe she thought she looked better in the pot than the avocado tree did.  That tree is tougher than it looks. It stood right back up when I made Bookworm move.

Bookworm in the avocado pot

Bookworm in the avocado pot

Our weather has been typical for Missouri fall. Two temperate days, one hot day, and then a “but I don’t want to turn on the furnace yet” day, and then back to a temperate day. We are getting very close to our average first frost dates, so I would really like to get some things finished outside soon. I also need to bring in some potted plants and herbs from the front yard. Then I’ll have to work on some interior lighting.

Hope everyone has a great evening!

Connie

Captain My Captain

When Connie and I got together, Katherine had just got a new cat which was named, for no particular reason I ever learned, Captain. Captain was about 9 months old when we came into contact. Let me assure you, neither of us was overly impressed.

I am not a cat person. Now cat people take the fact that I can get along with cats as a sign that this is not true. I can get along with Democrats too, that does not mean I believe that Roosevelt saved us all.

So Captain and I have been kind of tolerating each other for oh, about seven years now. In fact, we have tolerated each other so long now that we have formed our own kind of weird bond. Kind of like that long standing crick in your neck. It’s a continuing pain, but you would miss it were it to leave.

Captain is probably the sanest of our cats, but you best not forget that she is the mother and grandmother of crazy (Bookworm) and “oh dear heaven look at that!!!” (Adora, AKA Arrhythmia). So Captain, in a pinch, can show you her mind blowing spells of the crazy that she so liberally passed on to her progeny.

For instance, on two occasions Captain has deserted our lovely home complete with heat, air-conditioning and cat food to live in the woods by herself for months at a time. We would get an occasional glimpse of her from time to time; distant and unresponsive to our calls. She was somewhat like a land version of the Loch Ness Monster. Living on mice and surfacing occasionally for the amusement of the gawking masses. (Katherine, Connie or me).

Both times she came home thinner and quite proud of herself. Once, after one of her walk abouts, I saw her catch a mouse in our old house. Most cats play with Mr. Mouse for awhile and generally just scare the pour thing to death. Captain pounced on it, ate it whole from tail to neck, turned to me and spit the head out. “Take care of that won’t you.” She seemed to say and then walked away disdainfully.

When she has decided to stick around the house, she has just this summer decided to sleep most nights in the barn. Having met her child and grandchild I often wonder if she is not smarter than all of us on this matter.

She will leave the house about dusk, go out to the barn where her only trouble might be raccoons, foxes, the occasional coyote or snake, and sleep under an unused feed stall. Of course, being a cat, she cannot come when called in the morning. That would be so beneath her dignity. So Connie and I, after calling a number of times, feeding the other cats, calling again, feeding the dogs, calling, and checking the garden, walk out to the barn where we find Captain in the same spot each time. After some coaxing by Connie and/or Katherine (I can forget about it) she will come out look at all of us like, “Well what are you waiting for?” And go to the house to be fed.

Captain is really a quite pretty cat. Now you cat people are thinking “See he really likes cats.” Rattlesnakes are really very beautiful, but that does not mean I pet them. So my ability to see Captain’s beauty does not make me a “cat person”. She is white mostly with colors around here and there. A picture would do best I think.

Captain showing her love and affection for Connie. One interest we both share.

Captain showing her love and affection for Connie. One interest we both share.

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Captain, showing her ultimate distrust and disdain for me. And I am so nice to her. Reminds me of several of my ex-girlfriends.

Captain likes to sleep on my pillow. I have no idea why. I often come to the dining room table all set for a meal to find her sitting in my chair. Again, I have no idea why she would want to do that. Maybe she likes to hear me growl, “Get down you silly cat.” When not trying to sit in my chair or lie in my bed, the cat seems to spend a lot of time on my dresser lying atop my “Stuff Box” Connie made me for Christmas a couple years ago.

You would think that sometimes I petted her, rubbed her, and treated her like she was welcomed or like I missed her when she wasn’t here. ‘Course we all know better than that don’t we?

Take Care,

Ed