February 2014

Monthly Archive

Weekly Garden Post: Straightening up the garden bed

Posted by on 24 Feb 2014 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

So three apologies off the bat.

1st, I said I was going to post 3 times a week, and I didn’t last week.

2nd, I don’t have any before photos for this garden post.

3rd, I’m closing comments for the forseeable future, because there simply hasn’t been a lot of interest in my blog (my own fault) and all of the comments are spam.

On to the garden post.

Last fall we had a huge load of compost and a huge load of wood chips dumped onto our driveway, which we then used a mini front loader to move over the garden.

front loader


Looked like this

We topped off the raised beds with compost, then spread wood chips for mulch. Then the remaining majority we dumped in the area that will be my new garden area. We did this as quickly as we could, as we had to get the loader back before our time was up. Thus, the new garden area was haphazard at best, and very much piles of material, rather than an even garden bed.

Last Saturday my husband and I (though more my husband, bless him) worked to even out my garden. He used string and stakes to make sure that the corners were square and the sides were straight. Oh, I love my engineer husband. He also did most of the spreading and smoothing of wood chips. I stayed out as long as I could to help, but as soon as I went in to get a drink, the baby saw me and I had to take care of him.

Anyhow, here are the results:

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So now that the garden is straightened up, my next big task is this:

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This is the area south of the garden and coop. It is about .15 acre. I intend to use it to plant a few fruit trees, with orchard grass underneath, and my chicken ranging over it. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

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Yes, my beautiful ‘pasture’ is completely covered in tumbleweeds. Fun fact: did you know that tumbleweeds are not native to North America? They were accidentally imported in a shipment of agricultural seeds, and within 10 years covered the country.

So my next task is to clear that area. We are going to get a burn permit in mid March, gather up all the weeds, and burn them. We simply can’t figure out any other way to deal with them.

Weekly Garden Post: Celeriac

Posted by on 17 Feb 2014 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

This week I started my celeriac seeds. I have never grown celeriac. To be honest, I have never eaten celeriac. I don’t care much for celery, but I keep hearing about how much better celeriac is then celery, both in flavor and texture. So I am growing some this year to try out. To start them, I prepared some jiffy pellets, and sprinkled some seeds on top. I watered them well and place a greenhouse top over them. We’ll see how they do.

On an unrelated note, I have my seed trays downstairs in my unfinished basement, and my cat keeps knocking jiffy pellets out of the tray and batting them around. Any ideas?

Odds and ends

Posted by on 14 Feb 2014 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

I don’t have anything in particular this Friday, so it is going to be an odds and ends post.

I heard on the radio that the high pressure system over our area is moving out, so we should expect a few wet months, maybe into early summer. Yay for more water!

I picked up my Azure Delivery order, and one jar of my half gallon jars was broken. I’m not too upset (they are going to refund me the value of one jar) but I do like to have nice even numbers of things, and now my jar count is off.

I have been making some pajamas for the daughter of a good friend, and I didn’t realize that I didn’t have enough fabric, because I missed cutting out one very large piece. Discovered it when I was sewing on Tuesday, and made a trip to the fabric store and a couple of calls to discover that this particular fabric pattern had been discontinued. It was only available in one store in the state, 110 miles away. Another phone call, and I was able to get two yards shipped to my house. It arrived yesterday, and I have pre-washed it, and will hopefully get a chance to cut it out today and sew some more. I would like to be done by Monday night, so I can give it to my friend when I see her on Tuesday.

I have talked my kids into cleaning as a Valentine’s gift for me and Daddy. We’ll see how long this lasts. I had to put them in separate rooms to clean, because the Bug can’t help but nag her brothers into cleaning the ‘right’ way.

I finally got my husband to help me set up my seed shelf. Now I just need to do my maintenance chores for my plants – trim the onions, thin the plants, water, start new seeds.

I think that is all for now.

Having kids in different schools

Posted by on 12 Feb 2014 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

I’m going to say right off the bat that I know it can be done. I know women who have children in three different schools, merely because they have a high schooler, a middle schooler and an elementary schooler. My own mother had, at one point, one in college, one in high school, one in junior high, and two in elementary, one of whom was  a kindergartner on half days. This was in addition to band, drama, music lessons, and I think one of us was in soccer or something. So my complaints against having one homeschooled and one in a charter school really won’t hold much water with those who are dealing with it doubled or tripled.

I also know that some mothers have good reasons for having some kids in school and some home schooled. Activities and services that public schools provide are invaluable resources for some children, and others simply need to be home.

That being said, this is my opinion of splitting my family between home and public school: I won’t ever do it again.

If I feel strongly enough about keeping my kids home to protect them, give them a better education, spend more time with them, teach them God’s word, it applies as much to my oldest child as my youngest child, to my boys as much as my girls.

If I am already spending a great deal of time to prepare lessons for one of my children, it is not much more to prepare lessons for two or three or four of them.

If I feel comfortable with the socialization one child is getting from ‘only’ co-op class, music lessons, church and a sport, then I shouldn’t worry about it being enough for my other children.

In short, I’m bringing my kindergartner home at the end of this school year. I would love to do it sooner, but I feel like we made a commitment to the school, and to our neighbours that we carpool with.

I feel like I’m stretched pretty thin already, and the commitment to drive to school every day pushes me just beyond my abilities. I have had to give up a few things that I truly enjoy for the short term, like sewing, and reading whole books in less than a month.

I’m frustrated that although his teachers are fantastic and truly care about him, I don’t see him learning anything that I couldn’t teach him at home. I have to fill out sheets every week saying that we did his homework and read to him, and when I forget to, there is no sign that the teachers even glanced at the sheet. I would like to only be accountable to myself and my husband again.

In the same line, I will probably not do preschool again. I have my 3 year old in mommy led preschool and it is also pushing me over the line.

Finally, I miss the flexibility of being able to pick up and go somewhere for two or three days on the spur of the moment. “Let’s go to the King Tut exhibit.” “Let’s go to the zoo.” Let’s go to Mt. Rushmore.”

So that’s the end of this experiment. I’ll have to have a really good reason to split my kids again.

New Schedule for blog posting

Posted by on 11 Feb 2014 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

So I have not been updating regularly at all. And while I know that nobody reads this blog, it kind of makes me sad that I can’t be consistent. So I am going to try something new. I will be posting three times a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I might occasionally post other days, but I will make a real effort to post those three days consistently.

Mondays will be homestead items. This will be about gardening, chickens, preserving food, etc.

Wednesdays will be homeschool items. I’ll talk about what we’re learning, curriculum choices, field trips, etc.

Fridays I haven’t decided yet. If it was about 3 or 4 years ago (maybe even only two years ago) I would probably post items about natural birth, breastfeeding, etc. But I’m not as interested or involved in that community as I was then. I became certified as a doula immediately after the conception of my son 2 years ago, and I am coming up on my renewal date a year from now. I have no desire to pursue renewal at all. I haven’t done a single birth since then. This is a little surreal for me, considering how much I felt that it was my life’s calling to be a midwife back then. But I am just too full of things now to worry about it. Perhaps in a few years . . .

Anyhow, I don’t have a particular theme nailed down for Friday’s posts. I might occasionally write about birth, but I’ll more likely write about family or book reviews or sewing.

So this post is on a Tuesday,  and tomorrow I hope to have a post up on school.

Garden Plans

Posted by on 10 Feb 2014 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

I have finalized my garden plan for this year, have ordered seeds and am already starting 100 onions, celeriac and a few herbs. I have used the free trial of the garden planner on territorial seed, and have liked it well enough that I am considering purchasing it for the year. I am still debating though.

One thing I did purchase though was the Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook. I love this book! You enter your personal area’s last freeze date in the week labeled last freeze in the handbook, then work forward and backward from it, labeling every week according to your area’s dates. So I know exactly when to start each plant indoors, or outdoors, when to start checking for harvest, and a whole bunch of other garden chores to do. For example, this last two weeks I was supposed to take care of all of the plants I’ve already started, start celeriac, turn my compost pile (weather permitting, which it didn’t), and clean and sharpen my tools. It also has lots of information on a variety of gardening topics, and pages to keep notes about each month for 3 years.

The only ways I think it could be improved would be to have some kind of pocket to place print outs of garden plans, receipts, and other things in, and I would also like to see more room for notes. Other than that it is perfect.

I purchased my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I have purchased from Seed Savers International before, and had good results, but I wanted to try a new company this year.

My garden goals for this month are to post on this blog at least once a week, to work on getting my new garden patch straightened out, and rows built up in it, to get my seed starting shelves put up (hopefully tonight!), and for our area to get lots of rain and snow, particularly in the mountains, as we are in the middle of a drought and need all the help we can get.

What I am planting this year:

Asparagus, Garlic, Lettuce (looseleaf and head), beets, rutabagas, turnips, parsnips, chives, sage, dill, mint, marjoram, thyme, oregano, parsley, rosemary, basil, rasberries, blackberries, strawberries, lots of tomatoes, eggplant, arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, radishes, kale, swiss chard, spinach, potatoes, carrots, onions, peas, beans, corn, hot and sweet peppers, rhubarb, elderberries, melons, winter and summer squash, pumpkins, apple tree, peach trees, pear trees, plum trees, cherry trees and a lilac bush.

I’ll go into more particulars as I start things and plant them.

Full Disclosure: I have received nothing in compensation for my reviews of the above books, websites and products. I reviewed them because I love them and wanted to share them with you.