February 28, 2011

Signs of spring

This morning I woke to the sounds of birds singing. Not any new voices, but all of the winter residents are starting to stake their territory - Carolina wrens, chickadees, titmice, etc. It is such a beautiful sound! I also heard a sound that took a few sleepy minutes to identify. My first thought was that Foxy had captured a small duck and was holding it hostage on the porch. I crawled out of bed to find Foxy indeed sitting on the welcome mat waiting to be let in, but he had no captives. It was then that I realized the strange croaking noise was a FROG in my frog pond!! The pond has only been thawed for a week or two, and already the frogs are back! It wasn't even a spring peeper either; it was a pickerel frog.

After that great start to the day, I was motivated to do some serious spring-y things. First I did some organizing in the greenhouse and planted a couple of flats of broccoli, kale, lettuce and spinach. I LOVE greenhoue time of year. Everything in the greenhouse is so manageable. It's only once you move all those precious plants out into the wide open garden that you realy start to lose all control of the situation.

I then moved on to removing the debris from the flower beds around the greenhouse in order to make it easier for the chickens to wreck havoc expose the beautiful crocuses and snowdrops that are blooming. My cute little twine fence didn't fare well over the winter, but the posts are still standing strong, so I can easily redo it. It was more of a looks thing anyway as it totally failed at his intended purpose of keeping the chickens out. I now have scraps of fencing laid down over the newly uncovered area in hopes that it will be less inviting for scratching in. At least I won't have the goats eating the hyacinths and crocuses this year. I might actually get to enjoy them for once. (Famous last words, but I am setting a warm weather resolution for myself to work on having less attachment to perfectly groomed flower beds, or flowers at all for that matter should the situation get that dire.)

At this point my sunny spring day turned into a real soaker, and I abandoned any further outdoor projects.

February 24, 2011

Is a half a yurt better than no yurt at all?? Well, yes, but only if you're willing to make the investment to acquire the other half of the yurt; otherwise, no. This is the predicament we currently find ourselves in. We had BEAUTIFUL sunny, warm weather last week, and I took the whole week off of work to tackle the job of cleaning and inventorying yurt parts to ready them for assembly. It was then that I discovered we are missing one half of the exterior wall. Bummer. Considering we have already invested a sizeable chunk in building the deck the yurt will sit on, we are definitely going to continue the investment and order a new half-wall. I just spoke with a delightful representative of the Pacific Yurts company, and he informed me it will cost about $910.00 plus shipping. I wasn't shocked as I had already figured as much. Oh well, it's just money, and then we'll REALLY have a yurt! :)

The good news is the rest of the yurt pieces looked pretty good. The HEAVY-duty vinyl roof has a few spots that need repair, but they will be shipping me a repair kit with the wall. Some of the interior wall linings have some stains on them, but the delightful representative supported my decision to paint over them. All in all I'm feeling pretty good about the whole thing.

Of course, the inventorying process required unstacking Joe's very neatly stacked and well protected yurt pile, the pieces of which we then spread all over the deck where the yurt will soon stand. Several of the wooden pieces need some repair, and I'd like to give them all a recoating of tung oil, so we've left them spread out for the moment. We purchased a huge tarp (was I the only one who did not realize how expensive tarps are??) to cover the whole kit and kaboodle. There is apparently no amount of weights, logs, boards, etc. that will hold that tarp in place. Last night, anticipating two days of rain and wind ahead, I went out for the umpteenth time to recover and resecure the tarp. This time I have used bungee cords to tie the tarp to the deck posts, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

In other news, after only a few strokes of the pen from a judge happy to see so many smiling faces in his courtroom, Logan Samuel Harding has become my legal nephew!! Two days later he celebrated his first birthday!! As a party gift to the supporting friends and family in attendance, the proud new father gave everyone a stomach bug. Oh well, the family that vomits together stays together, isn't that what they say? Totally unrelated but also exciting - my chickens are now laying 4-5 eggs a day!!

February 08, 2011

Battle of the Bugs

Like seemingly everyone else in the country, Joe and I are unwillingly sharing our house with scores of stink bugs and ladybugs. For the most part they have stealthily sneaked in and hidden themselves away in little seen nooks and crannies, but when the conditions are just right, they come out in force! The conditions which turn a lazy ladybug into avid explorer are mostly centered around temperature. Most evenings, we go through a complex series of mental calculations and deliberations in order to make the very important decision of when to stop loading the woodstove in order to achieve the perfect sleeping temperature. This is not a fool-proof equation, and we often err, usually on the side of making it uncomfortably warm. The aforementioned unwelcome insects, however, do not find the heat uncomfortable and just when we are getting ready for bed, the bugs are coming out to party!

After a few late(ish) nights in a row recently, Joe was looking forward to a strict early to bed night to get himself back on track. Lights out (for him) at 9 o'clock sharp! I was happy to support him in this cause, but I was nowhere near sleep myself when 9 o'clock rolled around (I rarely am). Luckily, Joe is not bothered by having a light on while he sleeps, so I usually leave my LED reading light on over my head and read for an hour or so past when he goes to sleep. This night in particular, though, we had made the mistake of throwing one too many logs on the fire, and the shanty was toasty to say the least. All of the bugs that were coming alive due to the warmth were of course headed straight for the "sun" (aka the reading light over my head).

I was determined to ignore the dive bombing bugs and even bite my lip and tolerate being crawled all over to avoid disturbing Joe....but then the ladybugs started biting! I can handle a lot of things, but I will NOT put up with being BITTEN by a LADYBUG!! So, I grabbed our bug-catching cup and decided I'd just capture each one that came my way. Easy solution. Well, I never got to read more than two words in my book before I was stopping to shake shake shake the cup (to disorient the previously caught ladybugs of course) and grab another bug. Joe's a pretty good sleep-through-anything kind of guy, but the heat and all the activity were definitely keeping him awake. Since it was too hot to get under the covers, the ladybugs were biting him too.

The final straw came when our cat, Foxy, came through the dog door with a live vole. Joe and I both instantly kicked into action to grab Foxy and throw him back outside before he had a chance to release his quarry in the house. At that point, Joe decided to forget the early to bed plan and go meditate for an hour in the outhouse. I tried to read for another fifteen minutes or so, but I was soon fed up with fighting the bugs and gave it up. The whole ordeal had tired me out and I fell right asleep. I'm not even sure when Joe came back in. Poor guy...good thing he's so good natured! :)

P.S. I always like blog posts with pictures, so I was looking up a good, scary stink bug picture to go along with this one. Google led me to a photo of a kid EATING stink bugs, which of course my morbid curiosity led me to follow to its original source. I then ended up on a well illustrated web page about bug eating around the world and had to read the entire article. I am literally feeling nauseous right now. I was going to share the web link, but on second thought, I'll spare you.

February 03, 2011

Yurt Progress

Some photos of our most recent yurt work day, last Saturday.