May 27, 2011

Strawberries and strep

The 100+ strawberry plants we put in the ground last spring have turned into all we could have dreamed of, and more....and more! We now have a virtual strawberry forest (or at least that is what it looks like to the poor little blueberry bushes that are being completely enveloped) that is producing goo-gobs of the most BEAUTIFUL huge berries. I would be even more excited about this except that I've been out of commission with a case of strep throat for the past few days and haven't been able to keep up with the harvest. My hope is to someday soon have the time, and energy, to both harvest and process the bounty; I'm thinking strawberry jam. In the meantime, we've been parceling out strawberries on a "pick your own" basis. I did manage to pick HALF of the plants the other night and came up with this giant bowlful that ended up topping my grandfather's 85th birthday pound cake. YUM!! I think this bowl holds a couple of gallons, at least.

May 18, 2011

Rain, rain, rain! We've spent the last week or more making up for the dry winter we had. I just hope we're not using up our summer supply of rain too! If I have interpreted the very confusing climate summary for the month of May from the NOAA website, we (well Blacksburg, VA anyway) have had rain for 14 out of the 18 days so far this month, and only 4 "clear" days. Hmm, great for the watertable, but not so great for the solar panels, although I'm always surprised with how much they manage to do with even a little burst of sunshine.

All the clouds and wet weather have made for good transplanting conditions between showers. The greenhouse is getting emptier and emptier while the garden is starting to look like something productive. I still have lots of seeds to plant, but cultivating mud just isn't my idea of fun. The slugs are LOVIN' this wet weather, and I'm having to fight them for the bounty of large, luscious strawberries we're starting to harvest. Luckily, the strawberries are big enough that even after you cut away the occasional slug munched area, you're still left with plenty of berry.

The wet weather has also seemed to reinvigorate the amphibians in the area. I had given up on having any tadpoles in my pond this year, but the other day I caught two woodfrogs (I think) engaged guessed it, amplexus! This is, of course, the polite and scientific way of saying they were ensuring the survival of their species. I didn't want to disturb them, so I haven't inspected the pond yet to see if there are any signs of eggs or tadpoles, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia, these are not the aforementioned frogs.)

I have a sneaking suspicion that the guineas are also working on the next generation. Silver has been MIA for large chunks of the day in the past week or so, and I didn't see her at all yesterday. So, she's either gotten snatched by something, or she's working on a nest somewhere. Time will tell! I am excited at the thought of adorable baby guineas; realistic about the fact that this will initiate another feeding frenzy among the local predators; and apprehensive at the thought of dealing with possessive guinea mamas who bring their babies right to my feet and then attack me for being too close.

On Monday, Joe and I celebrated our fifth anniversary. One of us, and I won't say who, forgot our anniversary (despite the other one of us having mentioned it many times over the preceding weeks) and made plans to spend the day with a friend (not the one they are married to). All's well that ends well, though, and we spent the evening together exploring the backroads of Floyd. Co and eating pizza in the car. Next year, though, one of us is going to steal the other one's planner and highlight May 16th in bold colors. :)

May 14, 2011

Random farm photos

Raindrops on lambsquarter, a common, edible weed - delicious and nutritious! This particular example is a hybridized version of the wild variety and a cultivated variety we planted in our garden several years ago, known as "Magenta Spreen".

A paw paw flower.

The birds have assembled and are patiently waiting for me to stop taking pictures of paw paw flowers and give them their scratch grains.

Miss Peeps, the goofy Salmon Favorelle hen. She's an avid eater of pansies, but she's so darn cute I can't get too mad at her for it.

May 12, 2011

Introducing the Starpod 2000!

That husband of mine is always up to something. His latest genius project is the "StarPod" - an elevated, screened, glass-roofed platform perfect for breezy, bug-free summertime sleeping and stargazing. How's THAT for a sales pitch!

Many of Joe's projects sound crazy at first but turn out to be great additions to our compound, and this one is no exception. It was built all from salvaged materials (minus the screen). It has still been a bit chilly at night for sleeping in it, but we have tested it out for stargazing. What an amazing view!!

As we were laying there the other night, staring at the sky and listening to the melodiously chaotic sound of two whippoorwills singing out of step with each other, Joe said "What do you bet in 5 years we'll know 10 people with one of these?" :)

May 05, 2011

Wedding Pics

It takes a village to get into a wedding dress! Good thing my mom is well qualified.

Honorary flower girl, my niece Ruby

Happy couple sitting down for a brief moment

Sisters, now spread across WAY TOO MANY MILES!!!

The ladies

She looks like the runaway bride here, but really she's the cloggin' bride!

May 04, 2011

Catchin' up

What a crazy busy few weeks! As of this writing, though, my sister is officially married and U-Haulin' it to Alaska with her new husband, and my boss and his farm hosted a very successful square dance calling workshop weekend/dance party attended by over 50 people. My job descriptions for the first major event included bridesmaid and lead-packer, and farm beautification manager (aka head bush-hogger) for the latter. Plus, for 11 of the days leading up to these events, Joe was serving at a Vippassana meditation course, which put me solely in charge of our little universe as well. I have certainly earned myself some guilt free hammock time, but the weather today has taken a turn for the cooler, so I think I'll pass.

Maybe after I've had a day or two to catch my breath, I'll pilfer some wedding pictures from my friend, and fellow bridesmaid, to post on here.

Meanwhile, overnight it seems, the trees are all leafed out, the grass is growing a mile-a-minute, the birds are all back..but still no tadpoles in my pond. :( The switch from winter to spring means a shift in our daily living patterns which I'm finding myself slower at adapting to this year. The perks of winter, which are now over, include free refrigeration courtesy of Mother Nature, hot water on demand from the woodstove, and a relaxed work schedule. Now that it is warm weather, though, we are enjoying the convenience of H2O in its liquid form, no thawing or ice breaking necessary; no more coats, scarves and hats everywhere nor buckets of water taking up valuable floorspace; and homegrown salads everyday! But, and especially after the last couple of weeks, I'm already needing a vacation.

This past Sunday we were pleased to host, if only for an hour or so, my grandparents, two great aunts and one great uncle, two aunts, one uncle and one cousin from GA who stopped in on their way back down south after the wedding. It was a lot of fun to show off our place, which I think there were many misconceptions about (my grandmother had this idea we slept in bunkbeds and didn't have light switches). My aunts and uncle, who have been on multiple mission trips to Africa, were excited to see the correlations between our lifestyle and that of the communities they had visited in Africa - we even had guineas running around! :) They were all very impressed with the beauty and non-offensiveness of the World's Nicest Outhouse, all except my cousin who let the term "outhouse" keep her from even going near it. (Maybe we should call it the "World's Nicest Freestanding Organic Sanitary Facility")