Friday, April 30, 2010

Animal Views

I thought I'd join with Joyce at A Perfect Beginning in doing a Corner View post. This week's theme is animals. The pictures include Callie through one of our kiwi vines and the hen who was recently attacked by a neighbor's dog & is recovering nicely.

I ended up with 3 quarts of vegetable stock yesterday. Today I'm canning dried beans, a mix of bought cranberry beans and homegrown Purple Hyacinth beans. The cranberry beans are old, and won't easily soften up. According to Jackie Clay, homesteader extraordinaire, canning them is the way to go. If this goes well, another day I'll can up black-eyed peas and split peas.

One of the things I love about living in the country is all the animals I'm blessed to spend my days with. Wishing you a day of all the things you love!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Stock that's a Safe Bet

I saw the neatest trailer for the movie Babies yesterday, thanks to Sarah. It's the story of the first year of 4 babies from different parts of the world, & looks touching and wonderful. I can't wait to see it! Check out the link to her blog, and see for yourself.

I'm making stock today. Got the big pot full of goodies... lots of carrot tops and ends, onion bits and skins, and bunches of asparagus stems, the part that you break off, herbs and other assorted bits and pieces. This time of year, those stems always threaten to take over my freezer. Which means it's stock time. I'll then can it today or tomorrow. I'm working on listing some new items in my etsy shop. Wishing you all a happy Thursday!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Poppy Love

Last night, I received the questionnaires I had left at STARworks with samples of my first batch of beer soap. The feedback was thoughtful and helpful, by far the best information I've ever received on my soap. Those folks are awesome!

I was surprised to find this poppy last week, a few days before it bloomed. It was in the bed in front of the trailer I lived in while building the house. I don't remember when I planted the seeds, and in fact, think I may have pulled up a plant or two before, as I'd never had luck with poppies before (or so I thought), and didn't know what the leaves looked like. Oops! I'm loving the color. Seeing those leaves, I think I've got a bunch of them coming up that I planted over the winter. These would be red ones. I think poppies are such cheerful things, and look forward to seeing their happy faces.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


J & I met friends yesterday, to attend the Jr. League Rummage Sale in Winston-Salem. It was J's first rummage. Teresa & I have been going for 20 some years now. It's always fun to see what treasures we can find. We shared some especially good food and wine afterwards, and shared all our finds.

Today we're working around the homestead. Laundry... gardening... & J has been creating the most wonderful dog. The inspiration was an upcoming show at Circa Gallery--It's Raining Cats & Dogs. His pieces have been selling pretty quickly lately, so I won't be surprised if this fella doesn't make it to the June show. Happy Saturday, friends. Send some rain this way if you can!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dragonflies & Dogwood

I haven't been around much this week. There have been lots of things to keep me away from the computer. The chicks and the garden are growing. J & I have been planting things. He the edibles, me primroses, some Kousa dogwood seeds, and sedum and hosta that my friend Meredith shared with me. Actually, the dogwood do have edible fruits. I've been cold-treating the seeds, and this was the week to plant them out. I'm hoping to have some sprout. The fruit the seeds came from was pleasant & lightly sweet. The trees are pretty year round, and they're resistant to dogwood anthracnose. What's not to like?

This little dragonfly spent the night under some row cover I had cozied up one of the clematis with. I'm fond of dragonflies, and love to see them flitting about when I walk to the hayfield behind our homestead. Happy Earth Day!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Brotherly Love

The weekend's Spring Kiln opening went well. The weather was lovely, and I met some really nice people. We're talking about making this an annual thing. Saturday night, J & I went to see my brother play jazz with some folks at a local restaurant. J had never seen my brother play, & it was a lot of fun. My brother makes me laugh more than anyone else I know. I'm sure thankful to have him for my big brother.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Cookies are Covered

I believe Meredith's got the cookies covered ( here & here), so I've got brownies in the oven for this weekends Celebration. Today will be soap wrapping, labeling and general last minute things to get ready. It looks to be a beautiful weekend coming up. So, come on out and support your local artists, enjoy the beautiful green rolling hills of Seagrove, and heck, Meredith's cookies are worth the drive alone!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wailin' Wednesday

It's a busy week, between working and getting ready for the Celebration of Seagrove Potters. J & I are heading out tonight to see The Wailin' Jennys. Hope you're having a happy Wednesday!

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Laundry Trials

Several loads of laundry have been washed with the homemade laundry detergent I made. J & I feel it's doing as well as our storebought detergent, and J said he actually thinks his socks are looking cleaner since using it. I should tell you that laundry has always been a challenge here, and we'll probably never get sparkling whites, with the water coming from our well. I have not yet done a cost analysis, and the washing soda was a challenge to find locally. I ended up buying a pool product at the hardware store, which is Sodium Carbonate, the same as washing soda, called pH up. That said, here's the recipe I used, which makes a whole lot of detergent:

12c borax

8c baking soda (helps with hard water & dinginess)

8c washing soda

8c bar soap, grated (I used some of my homemade soap; others use Fels Naptha or Kirks Castile. I think anything goes as long as you like the smell)

The directions say to use 1/8 cup per load. I thought that seemed awfully little, until J told me most detergents contain fillers. I still used 1/4 cup due to hard water and a large capacity washer. I did grate the soap by hand, as that created smaller pieces than my food processor, and I wanted to be sure it melted totally. I also used a warm water wash for the same reason. FYI: The light tablecloth on the end was singed while trying to stay warm with a Coleman stove during the Holiday Hoopla; it's not a true stain. All told, we'd give it a thumbs up.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Don't Want No Fox in the Henhouse

In Thursday's post, I didn't think to mention the fox that came through here. On Good Friday, while I was out in the garden, a fox came and stood within 50 ft. of me. It looked at me, unperturbed, twice. I was beginning to think it might be rabid, and started slowly backing up. It looked up as I did, and took off. Being close to the natural world is truly wonderful at times, and really tough at others.

This is the first wild iris bloom of the year. J & I were out last night covering up all we could with buckets, pots, and row cover. The forecast was for 37, and it's not uncommon for us to have a frost with that forecast. We're happy to see we dodged it, so all our little apricots, peaches and strawberries are safe for now. Have a wonderful Saturday!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Country Living

WARNING: slithering photo! It's been an interesting time here since yesterday, with all sorts of creatures showing up and one disappearing. A week or so ago, J created a chick daycare so they could be out in the fresh air & sunshine during the day, and able to scratch in the dirt. It's basically a fortified dog lot. I keep an eye on them out the back door, or from working in the garden, and every hour or so, go there to make sure all is well. I had been in the house, quietly painting, trying out a simple batik method I learned of recently here. When I went out to check, the Delaware chick was missing. No sign of her, no feathers, no noise, just gone. I'm thinking a hawk may have gotten her. The lot is under a tree, and partially, though not totally covered by tin. She was 5 weeks old, so I'm thinking too big for a snake. I immediately got the other chicks in the house. As soon as I went to check on the older hens, who were free ranging around the garden & orchard, I saw a black lab at the edge of the woods, and one of the hens came running towards me with her tail feathers missing, as well as a wound. I don't know the dog, but it had a collar on, and you can bet I'll be keeping a close eye out for it, as well as the camera handy. I think the hen will make it. I've been giving her lots of greens to help with clotting, and clabbered milk to give her extra protein for wound healing. She's talking to me a bit, though moving slowly.

This morning, I noticed Famata kitty had a rodent. We've got lots of moles here, as well as mice. She was doing her feline homesteading duties. When I had finished harvesting asparagus, I saw Callie jumping around in one of the greens patches. When I got closer, I saw she was tussling with a snake. She's the smallest cat, but I think the most fearless. You just never know what will show up when you're living in the woods.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Little One

On Saturday, J's son came to help him put up fence posts & fencing. The garden has expanded quite a bit, with 2 new asparagus beds, a potato bed, and a sunchoke bed. Also, we had our largest patch of strawberries in the same area. We wanted to get the new section fenced in, mostly to keep the chickens out. J's sons partner, and little L, came and spent the day as well. She's such a sweet little thing, and has a good mama to care for her.

J & son both worked hard and steady all day, and got all the fenceposts in & fencing up. Bravo guys! One minor challenge was they cut the phone line in the process. But J, being the handy guy he is, had it repaired by noon yesterday. We enjoyed a lovely Easter dinner with my siblings and families at my Mom's. The weather is hot for April, but just gorgeous. Hope your Easter weekend was a nice one!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Mud and Suds in the Yard

In several weeks, I'll be taking part in Mud and Suds in the Yard. It's part of the Spring Kiln Opening, an annual event in Seagrove. This year, there are 49 potters taking part. I'll be setting up my soaps and other products at Whynot Pottery. There will be refreshments, door prizes and some wonderful local, handmade goods. If you're in the area, come on out.

I grew a nice patch of calendula last year. I always thought they were an annual here, but several hardy plants made it through the winter. A couple have already flowered. I'm thinking this is unusual, but it may just as easily be lack of knowledge. Can anyone enlighten me?

Full Bucket

Be a full bucket

pulled up the dark way of a well,

then lifted

out into light.


Our first asparagus omelet of the year this morning. Isn't spring grand?