May 31, 2010

In Memory

Since it's Memorial day,
I would like to honor the veteran in my life;
my Grandpa Joe.

He was a Marine in the 1940's.
Yes, World War II.

He flew as a rear gunner in a
Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber
over the Pacific.

Grandpa Joe passed away when I was six,
before I was old enough to appreciate him,
and the stories he must have had tucked away somewhere.
I've recently sent the paperwork to get his records,
I have two pictures of his squadron,
and my brother Joe and I recently found his uniform
in my grandma's basement.

But we still miss his stories.

In loving memory of my grandpa,
and all those that came before him,
and those that came after;
who sacrificed much -
to protect the freedoms we enjoy.

Take a moment to be Thankful,
and remember,
on this Memorial day.

May 28, 2010

the Chicken Revolt

The chickens are on my naughty list.

They have eaten our tomatoes,
decimated our strawberries,
destroyed the garlic bed,

and I forgave them...

But what they did Wednesday morning,
was crossing the line.

It all began with my brilliant idea to try the
"Three Sisters Method"
when planting our sweet corn this year.
Provided it actually works, I'll elaborate more on that
later; for now it suffices to say - it is an Indian method
that involves planting your corn, beans, and squash
together - in a way that benefits all three.

The first step involves making 18 inch mounds...
Precisely five feet apart.
After making 11 of them Tuesday night,
(a whopping 1/3 of the goal)
it dawned on me why it was a tribal custom.
I was wondering where my tribe was....

predictably, the chickens broke in at the crack of dawn,
and destroyed, and devoured,
every last mound and kernel of corn.

I considered tarring and de-feathering them all.

I used to like chickens,
but after my special pet chicken
-Anna Magdalena Bach-
died this past Winter,
the bond was weakened.

So, our chickens will likely be losing many of their
freedoms in the coming days.
Wednesday was spent replanting and
building a fence of protection
around my corn mounds,
but I feel it is time for our plants to experience liberty.
Gardening - free from fear of scratching claws,
pecking beaks, and diabolical birds in general.


May 26, 2010

Gardening with "Honey Bear"

This past week has involved a lot of garden time;
and not just in our garden.

On Monday we had the privilege of helping a man that has
been gardening for a very long time.
We've known him for about ten years I guess;
and I'm yet to discover what his real name is.
Everyone that knows him just calls him
"Honey Bear."
It goes back to the days when he used to sell honey,
and I guess it just stuck.

Honey Bear is a Master Organic Gardener,
and has an overwhelming amount of knowledge to share.
In his eighties, it's amazing how much he can still accomplish,
but the number of things he can't do
is growing as well.
That's where my mom, brother, and I came in.
We volunteered a day to help him get his gardens
and raised beds ready for planting.

First, we began with our customary tour...
He always has the most amazing collection of
heirloom plants & interesting flowers.

Some lovely blue irises...

Next, we built a new fence
for his little flock of chickens and ducks.

After that, it was time for the serious jobs...

Joe began the process of moving the bags of decomposing
leaves that Honey Bear has been saving all Winter.
His plants absolutely love this special mulch.

Yeah, he got something on him.

Meanwhile, Mom waged war
on the thistles in the raised beds.

Flowering Russian Kale

In its own rustic way,
Honey Bear's garden is a lovely place,
with lots of interesting sights to see.

A special kind of accidental art.


After putting the camera away...
I got busy emptying said bags of decomposing leaves...
Some of them were very full of water,
(resembling tea...)
Ankle deep in the squishy mulch,
fluffing up the leaves in preparation for tomato plants,
these pictures do no justice to the absolute mess I was...
Believe me though, I've never had a problem getting
dirt on my hands -
and was seriously having a pretty good time out there.

We were pretty wiped out -
but it was a special, and very educational day.
I'm often reminded of the importance of spending time
with those that are older than we are.
They have so much to offer in the way of
wisdom and experience.
We are so thankful for each of the elderly friends
that the Lord has blessed us with over the years.
They have taught us so much.

On the way home we stopped for Blackberry milkshakes.
Now we are busy applying some of Honey Bear's
ideas to our own garden -
and planning on visiting him again soon.

May 24, 2010

Cats and Flowers

Just a few random cat and flower photos from the past week.



Johnny Jump-ups


Roman Chamomile

"The grass withereth, the flower fadeth:
But the word of our God
shall stand forever."
Isaiah 40:8

May 22, 2010

Buster's Turtle

Buster is getting to be a pretty old dog,
so I didn't think much of the fact that he didn't move
the entire hour my brother Joe and I
were playing volleyball.

Until I noticed the thing sitting next to him.
It kind of resembled a rock.

A rock with a long neck and beady eyes.

We get at least one of these slow-moving visitors every year.
If the creek gets too high,
they cross the road and head for our flooded woods.
Unfortunately for him...
there is a fence in the way.

Buster sat nearby and studied his new little friend,
while Joe ran to get a shovel...

For those of you that have never run across one of
these guys, he's a snapping turtle, and he has the
potential to be very painful.
This dude was made to chomp fingers off,
and we could see he was perfectly willing to follow through,
though I think he would have settled for
Buster's tongue if he got any closer...
They don't usually let go once they clamp down...

So, Joe scooped him up in the shovel.
(Our snapping-turtle transportation method of choice.)

And after a parting shot,

and a parting duet...

Mr. Turtle was safely delivered to his destination.

He thinks he will take the shovel more often;
you wouldn't believe how much faster it was.

May 18, 2010

fearsome potatoes

One would be surprised at what an unsupervised Winter
in the garage will do to a box of potatoes...

They literally take on a life of their own.

It goes without saying that I kept them above ground
a little longer than I should have.
But it's been raining...
We had just a short little window to get them planted.

Dad agreed; these things were pretty scary looking.

Kind of made us happy to bury them.

The dirt was so wet and heavy
that Dad dug the trenches for me this year.
It made me feel bad that I'd insisted on saving
quite so many of last year's potatoes...

Let's just say -
if the Lord chooses to bless them,
we won't be lacking in potatoes this Fall...

May 14, 2010

a thought for your day

Two very true statements.

Complete with a bogus date.

Destined to confuse and give headaches -
for many generations to come.

(Did they even know about bananas in 1828?)

(Original quote credit goes to Groucho Marx.)

May 10, 2010

Of Gardens and an adorable Pest

I've been catching up on the garden today.
It seems just yesterday there was a snow drift out there -
and all of the sudden there are daisies.
Daisies that are literally taking over the garden.

But that really doesn't bother me yet.

I picked our first strawberries of the year too -
a whopping total of six.
But there will be more soon.
A lot more...

So, I was busily hilling the potatoes - and attempting to
get an area ready for one of the varieties of green beans that
we are trying this year.

If it weren't for this little guy -
I would have been a lot more productive.

Problem number one:
He can't rationalize how on earth I can dig in the garden
all day; and then turn around him and scold him
for doing the same thing.

What a hypocrite I am.

He had a bad case of 'go fetch' on the brain today.
He kept throwing his basketball at me.
I tried ignoring him for awhile -
but I can only handle a dog sitting right where I'm
attempting to plant green beans for so long.
I tried telling him to go away;
but something about the garden makes him deaf;
He just kept staring at me.
So I threw it over the fence -
and he immediately tore right through the lettuce patch,
stomping the potatoes, barely grazing a tender
pepper plant.

Last week we had five pepper plants.

We're down to four now.

I covered my eyes as obliterated lettuce leaves
rained from the sky.

Three seconds later:
he was back.

Spencer is not healthy for gardens.

(Freshly hilled potato plants...)

Somehow the green beans managed to get planted;
and I decided to quit, before Spencer turned everything
into coleslaw.
Between him and the cats -
it's a wonder anything even bothers coming up around here.
We've got some hardy vegetables,
and thankfully,
we had a surplus of lettuce this year.

But as far as pepper plants go -
it looks like we'll be buying another one.