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Stubbly carrots

10 Nov
Stubbly carrots

Stubbly carrots

My kids really love fresh carrots while mostly just tolerating others so this year I decided to go big on carrots. I gave them the sunniest patch of garden. I even thinned them out. And I left most of them into the ground until now to give them a little extra time to get big. Despite that (and unlike in past years), they all turned out to be super stubbly? Why so stubbly?

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Time to seed my blog

18 Mar

The peas are poking through the ground, the spinach has squeezed out, and the overwintering broccoli that huddled there all winter has taken off since I transplanted it. The over Swiss chard is sprouting new leaves, and the kale is looking robust. Tiny carrots that I left in the ground are starting to grow. The tulips are about to flower. The plum tree (what limbs I didn’t prune off) are about to flower, and the raspberries are leafing out. Worms are looking for new places to  live (and getting stepped on). I even saw ants swarming in the middle of the sidewalk. Yes, spring is here, and what better time to bring my blog back to life.

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Lawn-o-matic

28 May
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Installing a lawn

I added a lawn in the north end of my backyard over the weekend. I’d rather use the spot for gardening but the light is too poor and the family wants a lawn (I already took all of the other grass for gardening).

Bring back the crazy weather

14 Mar

Yesterday it rained. Then it got snowy. Then bright, cheerful sun came out. Then blizzard snow. Then driving, wet rain and blustery wind. Then gorgeous sunshine.

Bring it all back, I say. Much better than today’s gray!

Would you eat cookie-cutter farm fresh eggs? Yum!!!!

10 Mar

When my eldest and I decided to make egg and bacon sandwiches for breakfast, it was an obvious move to trot out eggs from our chickens in the backyard (they have really started producing nicely again). What wasn’t so obvious was that we should cook our delicious packets of yum in cookie cutter shapes.

My oldest thought this was a grand idea and set about helping me make it happen. First she found cookie cutters for her and her sister. She chose a pumpkin and her sister got a star. She ladled our scrambled eggs into the cookie cutters while I pinned them down to the sizzling griddle (careful not to burn yourself and make sure you use metal ones!). Of course a bit of egg leaked out of the bottom, but most of it stayed inside and started cooking very quickly.

It took longer than usual to fry the eggs and I had to turn temp to low so that they didn’t burn on the edges, but pretty soon I was able to flip the eggs (still in the cookie cutters of course), cook the other side, and bam – we had pumpkin and star shaped eggs. Next we cut the toast with the same cookie cutters and broke the bacon into pumpkin and star shaped pieces (OK, we just wedged pieces of bacon in there).

And then the girls ate it all up. Mom and dad had regular egg sandwiches.

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RAT ATTACK!!!

3 Mar

There are rats in our walls and it’s making Natalie threaten to move out so it’s an all out blitz attack this weekend.

Here’s what I’ve tried already:

  • Paying someone to come find all the holes in our house and close them off. That was last year. He must have missed a few even though he spent more than a full day on the job.
  • Old fashioned rat traps in the attic and the basement. This is ongoing and I catch them from time to time.
  • New electric rat traps that shock them when they go into the house to grab bait. No hits yet after three weeks.

Next up on my list:

  • Trimming trees near the house that the vermin may be using to climb up and down.
  • Searching for more holes that they may be using to get in and out.
  • As much as I’m against it, setting up special rat poison houses that only rats can get into.

If this shit doesn’t work:

  • Cutting a hole in the wall where they make their noises in the middle night and going after them commando-style.

So far they haven’t made it into the house (except for once when they found a way in under the kitchen sink and committed a bloody plum massacre all over the kitchen floor – I was able to find and patch that hole because they had tried unsuccessfully to drag a plum through the hole, leaving a bloody ring around the entrance.)

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My daughters express their feelings about the coming rat battle.

My daughter takes a ride on the underground railroad, meets Harriet Tubman

27 Feb

It was a privilege  to re-learn about Harriet Tubman as my first-grader pulled together a report on Harriet Tubman’s amazing escape from slavery and then to help free more than 300 people herself. What an inspirational woman! Here is the map my daughter put together for her presentation. We helped her print out the states and then she traced them onto a poster board. She presented her report today, and apparently “it went well.” That’s all we ever get out of her.

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Covered wagon or greenhouse?

27 Feb

Rather than  buy starts, last year I built a greenhouse so I could sprout my own tomatoes, peppers, and basil. Calling it a greenhouse is being generous. I used some scrap two-by-fours to frame out a low-slung frame that’s eight feet long, four feet wide and three feet tall – or something like that. The only complicated part was to build and mount a door. Then I stretched plastic over it all, and voila, I had greenhouse.

It worked great – I wasn’t sure how it would perform, and I actually ended up with too many cherry tomatoes, lots of peppers, and even some of the finicky basil that I had never been able to start on my own before.

After I was done with it, I parked the greenhouse in the hidden area on the north side of my house and thought vaguely that I needed to do something about the roof. (Every time it rained, the water pooled heavily on the roof, which caused it to sag and sag some more each time it rained). I promptly forgot about the plastic-wrapped wonder until recently, when I started thinking about dragging it out so I can get some new starts going. When I went back to take a look, sure enough it was filled with water and rotting leaves. Yuck.

Seeing some of the PVC-like plastic pipes some people use to tent over their raised beds, I came up with the idea of popping out the top of my greenhouse with some PVC pipes. I just needed to figure out how to secure the pipe ends without tearing the plastic. I went to the hardware store, looked around, and decided 45-degree PVC elbows would likely do the trick. So I bought two 10-foot lengths of 3/4 inch PVC and six elbows, plus some basic brackets to hold the elbows in place.

From there, I estimated how long a piece I thought I would need by wedging a piece of PVC into the roof and seeing how far I could wedge in. I quickly made a mark, cut the pipe down to size, screwed the brackets over the elbows, and wedged the PVC pipe in one elbow, bent the middle of the pipe up until I could slip the other end into the elbow on the other side, and I was done. I did that twice more, and I suddenly had a pop-up roof and a greenhouse that looks just like a covered wagon.

Now it’s time to move it to the sunny side of the yard and see how warm it stays at night.

Freak Hailstorm Creates Picture Perfect Opportunity

25 Feb

Earlier today I talked my younger daughter into going with me to walk the dogs – all it took was to point out to her that the sun had come out. As we walked out the sun was dazzlingly bright and there was a soft, drizzly rain. It was beautiful. Not one to miss an opportunity, she quickly asked if we would see a rainbow. Good question I said – maybe we would.

We went out around the corner and the light was really wonderful – the late afternoon sun was lighting up the  light rain. Then the rain got thicker and heavier – wetter, really. Then my daughter noticed it was hail. Suddenly the hail came streaming down in wet streaks. Very wet – we were getting soaked. I took my phone out, turned around and took a bunch of photos as she walked toward me trying to catch the hail. The sun was behind her and made for a perfect photo opp. I’m just glad my phone’s camera was up to the task. Here are two of the best photos. I love that you can actually see the hail being lit up by the sunlight.

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Really, Do I Have to Eat Greens to Get Better?

25 Feb

Natalie was really sick yesterday so I stayed home and made her garden soup for lunch – the surest way to get anyone better. First I went out and picked big piles of overwintering chard and spinach. I sliced the stems out of the chard and fried those up first with some pressed garlic. Then I added both piles of greens and stewed them down. Thanks to the garlic, the greens started to waft deliciousness right away. On the side, I was heating up some premade tomato soup. Just as it got hot, I dropped the stewed greens into two bowls and then poured the hot soup over the top. On the side, I melted cheese on corn tortillas and sprinkled more garlic on top (you can’t have enough garlic when you get sick). Natalie is feeling much better today. Not sure if the soup did it, but…

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