June 30, 2010

It sure does seem like nature has a way of keeping us in shape. This winter it was the long walks through deep snow up to the car and back. This summer it is the daily watering ritual.

It has been weeks since we have had any rain that is even measurable, and the temperatures have been hot even for summer. In the midst of it all, we have managed to keep our garden mostly flourishing through regular watering. Our rain barrels are long since emptied of actual rain, but Joe has ingeniously rigged up a system that allows us to refill the front rain barrels with water from our spring (which thankfully is still running strong). Back in Virginia Beach, Joe's family runs Wareing's Gym, where they have all of the finest equipment to help you get the best workout possible. Here in Floyd Co., we have combined form and function into a daily workout that revolves around water.

Joe usually spends 30-45 minutes a day down at the spring pumping water with the Simple Pump (the only hi-tech equipment involved in our workout) up to our rain barrels, at a rate of about 1.5 gal/min. From there it is dipped into buckets and distributed by hand throughout the garden, one bed at a time. We have been focusing on deep, thorough waterings, so we generally put the whole results of one round of pumping on one or two beds. It takes about a week to get the whole garden watered, at which point it is time to start over.

So, the next time you feel the need for some exercise, be sure to stop by the Floyd Co. branch of Wareing's Gym for a fun, friendly workout - no membership fees and we'll even send you home with a handful of fresh sungold tomatoes!

June 24, 2010

I'm guilty of breaking the age-old adage not to count your chickens before they hatch. I wasn't really tallying numbers as such, but I was counting on having at least some chicks. Victoria, our formerly broody hen, has decided otherwise. After one week on the nest, she called it quits and rejoined the rest of the flock. I guess she's just not cut out for motherhood yet. She left me with the very disappointing task of burying 20 eggs (couldn't think of what else to do with them), but at least now we're getting eggs for eating again.

There's no such adage about counting your tadpoles before they hatch (or are even eggs) is there??

June 19, 2010

Joe recently checked out a book from the library called "The Cabin: Inspiration for the Classic American Getaway". It is a beautiful collection of photos and descriptions of cabins throughout the country, although the authors' description of a "cabin" is somewhat broader than mine (their cutoff size was 1200 sq ft). I had to chuckle when I read this one paragraph:

"It takes some imagination to take an open 14-ft by 16-ft room and jigger its simple rectangular plan into a working home--if only for weekends and vacations. But that's the type of planning that has to take place if a family is going to use the room for a variety of different needs: from sleeping to cooking, from reading to entertaining. For some, a 14-ft by 16-ft room is small, even for a master bedroom; but for Lois and John Schwob, this tiny, changing space is everything."

For those of you readers who may not know me personally, my husband and I have spent three years now living full time in a 12-ft by 16-ft one room cabin (in the truest sense of the word). The authors were correct in their assessment that it takes some imagination to jigger (is that a real word??) one open room into a working home, but what a fun and rewarding challenge it has been. :)

Off the topic, but this morning I spotted TWO frogs in my pond. We all know what that means...

*Note: I just did a Google search on 'jigger' and came up with:
"A person who jigs or operates a jig. A small measure for liquor, usually holding 1/2 ounces."

Interesting new word, but I'm not sure if it was entirely applicable in the above quote.

June 18, 2010

Breaking News on the Poultry Front - We have a broody hen! Victoria, our white rock chicken, has been dutifully sitting on an unknown number of eggs since Sunday. I know for sure that there are at least eight eggs under her because I put them there myself last night, a dangerous operation that I was lucky to walk away from with only minor injuries. The eight additional eggs were donations from my father's flock and a friend's flock, just to spice up the mix a little bit.

On a less cheerful note, we appear to have lost a guinea, bringing our total down to six. I found a pile of guinea feathers in the middle of the field last night but no sign of a body. For a couple of weeks now I had suspected that one of the guineas was sitting on a nest out in the field, and it was most likely that guinea that got snatched. On the bright side, Ranger (the former outcast guinea when there were seven) has hooked up with the dead guinea's mate and is now accepted into the larger guinea group again.

We've reached that very sad time of year when the rain stops falling with any regularity. This means lots of time spent hauling buckets of water to the garden from ever dwindling rain barrels. Everything is planted and growing nicely, however something is making my young butternut squash plants wither away only days after they've sprouted. Hopefully I'll figure out the culprit and how to nip it in the bud before it is too late!

Flower photos, from the top: Water lily, portulaca and calendula. All are growing in my garden at the moment. :)

June 07, 2010

Cold blooded neighbors

This weekend, we turned our homestead into a campground and hosted my sister, brother-in-law, nieces, nephew and another sister for the weekend. We had a great time. Although there was some blood loss due to a bike wreck and a rooster attack (apparently even Reynaldo has a breaking point, and the kids inadvertently found it), no limbs or lives were lost, so we can count it a success. Even with all of the added activity, my two cold blooded neighbors made several appearances and even allowed the kids and myself to sneak in close for photos. Here is our frog (which I have determined is most likely a pickerel frog, not a leopard frog as I initially thought, please comment if you think otherwise)..

and the garter snake living in our compost pile.

The garden is finally all planted. I think this means that I get a brief interlude before the mad house of harvest season kicks in, but I can't seem to shake this nagging feeling that I'm forgetting something. There's still the regular chores of harvesting strawberries (yum!) and weeding but the sense of urgency has faded for the moment. Nature has been kind enough to keep our garden watered fairly regularly in the past few weeks. Just today we've gotten the gutters replaced on the back of our house after the winter snows took them down. Now we can start bulking up on our rainwater stash for later in the summer when the rains are not so predictable.

June 02, 2010

Frog went a courtin'...

..and he did sing, uh huh!! Our new pond resident has decided his new home is worth sharing, so he is singing his heart out to attract the ladies! I can't wait 'til we get some tadpoles in there, especially since there's a nice crop of mosquito larvae already populating the pond.

We are slowly but surely getting the garden planted. The greenhouse is completely empty. All we have left to plant is yellow squash, zucchini and pumpkins. I'm really looking forward to bypassing the grocery store (for the most part) for the next few months.