Thursday, March 26, 2015


So excited to see spring springing. I was talking to my dad on the phone the other day, and as I was gushing on and on about the first leaves popping out on the apple trees I bought and planted, he responded with a "what did you expect to happen?". So he's not the most outwardly sentimental of folks, but dammit if nature doesn't surprise the shit out of me every year when it does EXACTLY what it's supposed to. I don't feel like I emerge from single digit temps as enthusiastically as my plants do - I seem to have to spend some time licking my wounds and reminding myself that it's a whole 9 or 10 months until I have to go through that again. Our plants, with their lack of dwelling on the past, just burst forth and make the most of the turning tides of weather. Gosh darn it I gotta take a hint.

But I'm trying. I almost finished hemming in our meadow garden this year, although putting in 3 rows is more than enough (so says my back) for now. My trapezoidal gate is awaiting chicken wire and then it's done. The onion starts are ready to go in the ground, and I've got rabbit-poopy hay to go between the rows and mulch/fertilize. My starts up in flats are ready to be joined by more starts of the warm-weather variety. Holy hell it's gonna be a busy growing season!

Handsome dog amongst the flowers
Embarrassed to say I'm not sure what this sweet little white flower is. Damn you eastern flora!!
Three rows. 3!! About 10 more to go...
Not everyone has a trapezoidal garden gate. BOOM. Lucky girl, this one.
Red maple.
Bradford pear.
Daffodils + vinca = Spring!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

(almost) wordless.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Preparing for Bees....

I am so so so very excited to be getting bees this year. And so so so very excited to cross #2 on my list off for the year.

I mentioned that I had like a 1 in 4 chance of getting a cost share - AND I DID!! Whoopee!!! The list of things they give you is long so I won't list it here.... suffice it to say that I really just need protective gear, a smoker, and a bee brush. And so many people have come out of the woodwork to give me old equipment they found or no longer use, or whathaveyou. Which means I have to find a bee brush and some leg bags and possibly an old white shirt.... and then I'm good. Everything else has been supplied through the Farm Bureau's cost share, or friends. AMAZING. Thank you thank you thank you!!

I don't know yet who my mentor will be, but I know a lot of the members that live near me, so very excited. A bunch of really cool people.

OOOH. And one of the women working in the county planning and inspections office put this little map together that shows all the locations of beekeepers in the county with a one mile radius around them, emulating the bees' range. SO COOL. I grew up in a household with maps in the bathroom, and now that I am going to have 2 GINORMOUS bathrooms, I ordered a 38 x 48 copy.

Starting on hive bodies!

Finished hive bodies!


25 done. 15 to go....

Couldn't resist getting started on these. Such a yummy yummy smell.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Lift off!

We have lift off, folks. I was going to do it last weekend, but the damn snOMG 2105 screwed all that up. And I was freaking out because I didn't want to plant seed trays only to have them reach -3 Fahrenheit in an un-insulated shed, but I didn't want to keep the lights on 24/7 to keep the trays warm enough..... duh. Idiot. We're not living in it yet, but we (more or less) have a HEATED HOUSE. Idiot.

So this weekend.... I planted (what will be) our garden.

I feel so very (overly) organized this year. I used a planner and planned both the back garden with raised beds and the meadow garden with rows. I calculated the numbers of each plant that I want. I tried to put friends with each other and keep plant enemies separated. I incorporated pollinator and pest attracting flowers in the plans. I got soaker hoses for the blueberries (they have been in my car for a week now, and will continue to rattle around in there most likely until our first drought-like conditions, thankyouverymuch). I am prepared. I hope I don't fuck it up.

Planning his own garden. Or world domination. Or just destroying a new notebook we (thought we'd) hid



Ta da!!!

Monday, February 09, 2015

Blink and You'll Miss It there went that plan. It really does seem that farmsteading, and life these days in general, is all about taking a giant leap forward, and then getting knocked several steps back. It's frustrating, it's annoying, it's heartbreaking, and the few victories that you have (however brief) are so addicting you go back for more. In this day and age it would be easy enough to hide my head in the sand and not do ANY of this. No garden, no chickens, no rabbits, no house building... just do what 99% of our countrymen and women do - work, pay rent, watch TV, sleep, rinse, wash, repeat....

But I can't. I'd be miserable. I have been miserable without my garden DESPITE my being preoccupied with being pregnant, giving birth, and not sleeping taking care of my baby. I've been miserable not PRODUCING anything here off the property, so I have chickens, a rabbit and will put in the garden this year. All is peachy.

Except this morning, when I went to check on the rabbit and chickens in the pre-dawn gloom... no bunny. Wide gaping hole in the side of the pen, and a few tufts of fur. I'll save you the gory details, but it wasn't our dogs, although it was something comparable in size and potentially smarter. (Sorry guys)

Got back to down where our dogs are, and the wall of skunk smell hit me. Looks like Luke got skunked, although it's still fresh enough it could be either of them - you can't tell. And then I saw a small body in the driveway behind my car. Obviously my first thought was that it was the bunny and something and dragged her 1000ft down the driveway and left her behind my car. Upon closer inspection, it was a possum. I sat and tried to tell in the light of the flashlight on my iPhone whether it was dead or just playing dead.... it was dead. No idea by what. Dogs won't go near it, but Zora is walking very stiffly this morning which usually means she ran hard the previous day. her poor old arthritic bones can only take so much....

We will rebuild and try again. I feel terrible about the rabbit. It is so easy to get lulled into a false sense of safety... we've been so lucky so far. The only animal massacre we've had was in broad daylight when a fox (we think) got several of our chickens and our poor dogs were tied up and couldn't get to them... and our chickens have always been secure in their coop. But just because they have been safe doesn't mean they ARE safe. We will persevere. Lesson learned.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Thank you for indulging me last time. I really did rant, but I really did need to. Sometimes if I don't let it get to a boiling point, I don't do it. I know. But I learned to procrastinate at one of the BEST schools ever.


But I'm excited. Progress is being made. I can cross #3 OFF my 2015 to do list!
 And it's only February! FUCK YEAH!!

A THIRD kind of animal has taken up residence here at Stoneyhaw - The Rabbit. She is a (just shy of a) year-old French/German Angora Rabbit. However, I noticed today in the daylight that her ear has a breeder's tattoo, so I might see if I can find out any further background info on her. She's a very warm light brown, with grey guard hair. She looks like she needs to be groomed soon...

The meat/fiber production adventure has begun.

We still owe her a box/shelf/shelter, but the tote will have to suffice for today. I wish we had something more substantial than chicken wire for the 'walls', but feeling good about the hardware cloth underneath the bunny butt, so that's a start.

And she needs a proper name...

Bunny feet!

"You assholes better finish my palace soon..."

THIS was NOT the agreement

Inspected by the Chicken Mafia. Bunny doesn't even flinch.

Tub is temporary. Bunny is pissed...

She found a way, despite inadequate 'shelter'

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Inching Closer

As I mentioned before, I have a great desire this year to produce something. Don't get me wrong, we're producing shit. Babies and houses and whatnot. But I have this grand desire to produce something smaller and more intimate.

I had a baby. Maybe 'intimate' is not the best choice of words. You mama's reading this know what I mean.

But having a baby, building a house, juggling a young family.... these are big big things. Big things that take up all your focus if not time and energy (and resources). And I feel like they're floating on an infrastructure that's quite shaky, frankly. If you could strip them away (which you can't, thankfully), there would be nothing left. And that's kind of starting to feel empty to me.

So it's time for me to come "out of the baby funk" (thanks for the perspective, mom!) and get to building that foundation. The house won't be under construction forever. The baby (OK, toddler) won't be a baby forever. The family won't be young forever...

So three things I'm looking to produce this year. Like I said before, if we pull ONE off, I'm a fucking winner.

We're bringing it back. Yes yes. It's time. I planned it (I used a planner! What!), I ordered half of the seeds, I found the seed starter light set up thingy I got from a generous soul, I bought seed starter trays, I bought seed starting mix, I am patiently awaiting time to start 'em (just around the corner). I got everything all figured out, and then in a casual sort of way the Redneck threw out that we should use the meadow instead of my raised beds... Time to re-plan! Which I did. Which of course just made the project bigger, because if I'm going to plant in the meadow, then OBVIOUSLY this opens the beds up to being herb beds.... snowballing already, this one. And I've barely even begun.

Thankfully the rainwater tanks are still in good condition and I was already planning on putting a soaker hose in the blueberries this year, just in case. The Rabbiteye blueberries have a tendency to ripen late and right when the rain stops, so hoping this way every single last berry gets a chance to ripen instead of shriveling up into nothingness....

#2 - BEES
Everybody I know personally has listened to me squee! every Tuesday night for the past two weeks (so twice...but it feels like there was a LOT of squeeing...). Dude. I'm in a beekeeping class. And effing LOVING it. (Because I was born an eighty-year old peasant woman) I am the one in the middle of the county extension auditorium surrounded by people in varying stages of boredom fucking wide eyed and so excited I'm about to pee. And then coming home and verbal vomit gushing/regurgitating it all back to the Redneck who very patiently pretends to listen to it all when he so just wants to get back to his video games now that the toddler has FINALLY gone to sleep.... and he threatened to stop letting me go if I thanked him for taking care of the kids every Tuesday night (on top of already having them every Monday night) just ONE MORE TIME.

I can't help it. I have been trying to take this class for the past 3 years. I finally just sent the check in and figured I'd figure out logistics later. And so I'm doing it. I have a 1-in-4 chance of getting a Farm Bureau sponsored pair of beehives and bee packages and I've got my fingers crossed I'll be a lucky recipient. Because there's a lot of equipment involved and that shit is pricey! And they give you bees, too. And one of the requirements of the cost share is that you agree to take a mentor. Ahem. GIVE ME A MENTOR, YO!

I'm really, really excited about this one.

...and #3 - BUNNIES

We need to supplement protein. Our chickens give us a lot of eggs, 'tis true. But we need to start supplementing meat. It's time. And chickens take forever and a day to get big enough to eat. IF they go broody and raise hatchlings. Because let's face it, with everything else going on, I'm not getting on the incubator bandwagon. That is too mush trouble. So with my far-fetched dream (it's good to have goals!) of a fiber farm in mind, I'm eying some Angoras. French Angoras, specifically. I'm hoping to be kicking myself that my table loom is at my mom's and wouldn't fit in the last car load out this time next year. Oooh - raised bed garden with herbs morphing into dye garden? Fuck yeah! I already ordered the indigo seeds. Not even kidding.

Maybe it's the company of some truly inspiring women recently and getting to spy into their farming endeavors (here and here - and one of the spouses is in my beekeeping class! Small world!), maybe I'm coming full circle, maybe I'm in fantasy land... but I am a strong believer in if you say it out loud, it's true. So I'm saying my shit out loud. I would love to make these three things a reality this year. I'm anxious as hell to get started.