The Garden and Other Stuff

Kefir. Does anybody know about this stuff? A friend gave me some “kefir grains.” They look like gel bubbles. You just put them in milk and set it on the counter for 24 hours. Magic–kefir! It is easier than making yogurt. But the thing is, you have to keep feeding those darn kefir grains. Its too much for one person! It makes absolutely great smoothies. I think I like it better than my yogurt smoothies. Here’s a website with more than you ever wanted to know about kefir.

Here’s some of the things that are happening in the garden this week.Some yellow petunias and blue lobelia. This is the most success I have had with the lobelia.

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A second bloom on my new rose bush. I really love the color and the smell of this rose.

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The day lilies are having a good year! Maybe they like the watering system.

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The daisies are leaning over. It looks like they are the blooms on my little azalea.

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A close-up:

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The hydrangeas are finally starting to bloom. It seems like they are later than usual this year. They are HUGE!

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Close ups of the two types of blooms:

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Did you know these common little begonias will come back year after year? I didn’t know that. Free flowers are always so fun ๐Ÿ™‚

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And here’s something I do every single night–I wash all the eggs that I’ve gathered for that day. One of the fun things about having chickens is finding the occasional unusual egg. See that giant oblong egg? Yeah, that’s going into my quiche tonight ๐Ÿ™‚ And that tiny little one? I’m giving that to my friend who does the Pysanky eggs.ย 

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And that’s it for another week, friends. Hope all is well with you.

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Garden Events

Let’s get the unpleasantness over right away. Thursday night Noah was barking. Nothing new, right? But I went outside to hush him up, and then Chloe started barking and staring at something. YES. Another rattlesnake in my yard :(( ย The third rattlesnake in three summers. I rounded up the dogs and shut them in the house. But this time it was pretty close to the front door and the front gate. So I just stood there staring at it so it wouldn’t move. And I called my neighbors WHO ARE ALWAYS HOME and they weren’t home!! So I just kept standing there and calling them over and over, and then I called Kevin (MLG) to see if he had any good ideas about what to do. And then I thought of another friend to call to see if they could come over to shoot it. And then I thought I heard a car and hoping it was my good neighbors, I called them again, and they were home!! (they live about a mile away from me.) Anyway, Tom came over and shot that stupid snake, and I thanked him profusely, and he said it made him feel like Crocodile Dundee ๐Ÿ™‚ I must have stood out there having a stand off with that snake for over half an hour! It was a little un-nerving, and I freely admit that I had an ice cream sandwich after that. And stayed up extra late and then took TWO melatonin before I went to bed.

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Alright, now to the fun stuff. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time in the garden this week. The weeds are growing like crazy, plus I’ve bought a few plants that needed to get into the ground. Its no good leaving little six-packs to bake in 95 degree weather.

This is another little succulent I got a while ago. Its a tiny variegated jade plant.

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I’ve been collecting decorative pots, and today I replanted some of my little trees that were still in plastic containers.

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I’m trying this little tree in the shade garden.

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Finally having some luck with a heuchera. Aren’t the colors pretty?

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And that little rose bush is going great guns!

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I bought a yellow gaillardia to go with the pretty blue salvia. The dahlias are doing very well. I think I might add more of those next year!

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Okay, the plant people must know that if they name something with a food name, I am immediately attracted to it. This was a Peachy lantana.

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And I’ve already forgotten what this common little flower is called. But I noticed that they are producing more and more colors in this plant this year.

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The roses have done well. Most of them are done, and I am waiting for them to put out a second bloom.

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My honeysuckle!! I absolutely love the scent of this in the garden.

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When its this hot, Noah gives up his beloved sling bed and lays in the gravel next to the house.

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And a short chicken report. You can see the chickens bald spots in these pictures. So irritating. Some of them are finally growing some new feathers back. They are always moving. Going into their house or coming out. Checking out the second yard, and of course running to the gate if they think I’m bringing a treat.

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This rooster is such a gentleman. Just the way roosters are supposed to be. When I give them treats, he just points out the delicacies to the girls and lets them have first chance at the food. That flat comb he has is called a rose comb. I didn’t use to like them, but I think it makes him look dignified ๐Ÿ™‚DSCN6187

And that’s it for this week’s events. I have another busy week next week. MLG will be here, so I’m sure I’ll have some new things to show you.

 

 

Garden Report

This is the year of the columbine! These are some old columbines that self-seeded behind one of the Japanese maples.

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These are some columbines that I planted last year.

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And one more columbine, right next to the new rose bush I bought last week! I’ll get it planted tomorrow.

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A lone foxglove. Remember, last fall I complained that the foxgloves were blooming then, instead of waiting until spring?

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Did I tell you I built this trellis myself? This is a wild rose, and it needed some support. I saw these stakes at the nursery and decided I could build my own trellis.

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Snapdragons and the Gerbera daisy.

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And the lupines in full bloom.

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I forgot the name of this plant. Its a perennial that grows well in the shade, with lime green leaves and beautiful violet flowers.

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Thought I’d throw in a few pictures of the chickens. They all run over to the fence when they see me coming. Because usually I am bringing them some sort of treat. You might be able to see that many of them are missing feathers. I am not happy about this at all. I think it started because I was leaving the lights on during winter to keep them laying. They were bored, and so they started plucking each other. I weaned the lights off, and I’m hoping that when they eventually molt, that will be the end of their feather plucking.

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This is one sitting in the nest box. You can see that they all have a favorite nest box. Most of them lay their eggs in the first and the last box. I don’t know why. All the boxes are equal. I even put a little runway up so they could walk back and forth and choose any box they wanted.

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And that’s the report for this week. We have a week of predicted 70 degree weather–perfect for working in the garden. I’m hoping to get some more planting and weeding done this week.

Chicken Report

My chickens are growing up! They’re doing grownup things like crowing every morning, and laying eggs. I look forward to finding eggs every day, and I usually check several times a day, trying not to disturb the hens too much. Today I actually stood there and watched one hen lay her egg!!

Here’s my egg washing system. You can see they are still laying a variety of sizes. The big ones are double yolkers.

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And my new pink egg cartons! I have asked people to save their egg cartons for me, but I was worried that I would not have enough cartons so I checked around the internet and found one place that sold cartons at a discount. I have a LOT of pink egg cartons ๐Ÿ™‚

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Today I worked in the garden a bit. I pulled up all the mint (haha, I’m pretty sure it’ll make an appearance in the spring…) The chickens love to pick over fresh greens.

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The two big boys. So far they are behaving themselves for the most part–not fighting with each other, not being aggressive towards me, and not bothering the hens TOO much. As long as they behave themselves they are welcome at my farm. They have names: Buddy #1 and Buddy #2.

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The little king. He stays away from the big boys and he doesn’t bother the hens at all. Probably because he can’t see… Somebody pecks his topknot at night, so now he gets anti-pick medicine on his head.

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And Here’s Baby!!!! She is so smart. She might be low in the pecking order, but she just knows how to stay out of everybody’s way, and she gets her fair share of all the treats too.

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Baby’s big sister. She is probably the largest hen, and really she is probably the most outstanding.

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This is a New Hampshire Red. All of the red hens are pretty friendly, and very curious. They always come very close to me, and usually let me pet them.

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Chicken in a Bowl ๐Ÿ™‚

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One more shot of Buddy #2. He is really a gorgeous rooster–a Speckled Sussex. You can see his female counterpart in the corner there. Oh, see that woodwork along the ground in the back? The chickens were digging their way UNDER my woodshed. I was worried that the cement foundation would collapse, so MLG rigged that up to deter them.

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Buff Orpington. They are very quiet. I love their soft color.

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Every afternoon I spread a bunch of “scratch” for them. Its like a chicken treat. They look forward to it every day, and always follow me along the fence line to see if this time I will be giving it to them.

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An action shot of Baby–that’s how she does it. Identifies what she wants and finds the most strategic place to get it ๐Ÿ™‚

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And that’s the chicken report for now. I wish you all lived closer. I have a lot of eggs to share with people. I had eggs for dinner tonight. They taste good, but I am not a good egg cooker, and they don’t look very appetizing, so no pictures.

 

This ‘n That

The chickens are starting to lay eggs! I’m having so much fun gathering them. So far they’re laying all different sizes. Even though all my chickens are standard sized, some of their eggs are still “banty sized.” The big ones are double-yolkers!!

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Sometimes this is exactly how I feel:

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“I just want to drink coffee, raise chickens, and take naps”

My knee is doing great. But the heel on that same leg hurts like heck. I went for my final checkup with the surgeon (for 9 months) and told him about it, and they did x-rays on it. No fracture. The physical therapist doesn’t think its plantar fasciitis (I don’t think so either) but they are having me do some stretching exercises and that seems to help a little. Its just discouraging to still have that same leg hurting to be walking. HOWEVER, after saying rather pitifully to my BF that I didn’t think I would walk too much any more because my arthritis was so bad, I decided that I was being a baby. So I have been challenging myself to take longer and more vigorous walks. It feels good mentally :/

I’ve been trying out some new recipes. Jill recommended this one, which says its pizza sauce, but its really just a marinara sauce recipe. Its easy to vary the recipe a bit using what you like/have on hand. I like chunks of tomatoes in my sauce, so I usually use ย I am loving making this and freezing it in zip lock baggies and then using it for whatever. I made a low-cal chicken recipe using some chicken tenders. I mixed in some fresh spinach with the marinara sauce, used less than half a serving of penne pasta, and then topped it with some fresh mozzarella that was on sale. YUMM, and only 250 calories! Sorry, no picture.

Then, Biz recommended this pumpkin baked oatmeal. I looked the recipe over, and the stats on it were pretty high–400 calories for a serving. Then I realized that the serving size was huge, even for a volume eater like me. So I cut it into 8 pieces instead of 6, and voila! 300 calories per serving ๐Ÿ™‚ I got up bright and early one morning, and made this recipe. Right before I put it in the oven, I had a brief thought that there was not much pumpkin pie spice in it, so I took a little taste, and it seemed okay. After it had been in the oven for 15 minutes, THAT’s when I realized that I actually left the pumpkin out of the recipe. Aaargh. I guess I wasn’t quite awake enough. Anyway, I adjusted the cooking time down, and it is still quite delicious. I can’t wait to make it with the pumpkin in it!

Thursday night we had a good rain storm, the first in months! Saturday I went out to see what was still looking good in the garden. Here are the petunias I planted by the studio door. I think I will always have some flowers growing in this–it mostly protects the plants from the deer, and its cheerful to see the flowers when I drive up.

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The roses are loving our cooler temperatures. This is the “wild” rose. The branches hang down. I plan to put a little support for it for next spring, but I love how it is a prolific bloomer.

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Other roses:

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The tuberous begonia. I got a two for one in this pot!

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The dwarf abutilon is loving the fall.

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And the mandevillea vine is still going strong.

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So, in other garden news, I have voles in my yard! I couldn’t figure out why the dirt was rising up in certain areas. MLG is here today, and pointed out the vole trails to me. I found these solar vole repellants on Amazon. Anyone have any experience using these things?

And that’s about all for now. Have a great week!

 

 

An Excellent Day!

But first! I have other things to share with you. My blog life is somewhat divided. I have this blog, and then I have my quilting blog. But sometimes things overlap. I have been working for the past month on a big event. I was invited to teach my quilted embroidery and be the “guest artist” at Quilting in the Garden, which is held at one of my favorite nurseries, Alden Lane. I wrote about the event over on my quilting blog, in case any of you want to see more. It was a wonderful experience. Getting to share 40 of my quilts with the hundreds of people who came through was really special.

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Here is part of my quilt display in their greenhouse:

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My sister came over to the quilt show and brought me two huge boxes of velvets and silks. When I got home, I went through them and divided them into 4 piles: for me, for my BF Robin, for the thrift store, and for the garbage. The garbage pile got thrown on the floor, and Sophie claimed it. “My treasure,” she says. This is what she does when anything new and even semi-soft lands on the floor. She sat on that pile for hours, until I finally picked it up and put it in the garbage. Don’t feel sorry for her, there are only about six dog beds that she can choose from to sleep in.

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Chloe was Robin’s favorite when she visited. And so I started sending her a morning snapshot of Chloe, especially because I won’t let her get in my lap in the morning, and she does her best to get as close as possible–she must be touching me.

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Okay, so today…. The day started out bright and early at 7am when Kevin arrived (MLG) to help with some chores. My neighbor (who’s been my neighbor for 29 years) is moving, and so she offered me some furniture. I don’t really have that much room, but I like this pine chest. It will be nice to have a place to display a few things without them needing to be dusted all the time.

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And this green leather chair with wood carving–her parents brought it from Italy! Its so beautiful, I couldn’t resist. I’m not a huge fan of green, but its not a bad green. I had to move some furniture around yesterday to get these things to fit in my house.

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Then it was on to other chores. My neighbor also gave me a LOT of oak wood for my wood stove. Kevin measured it at one and three-quarters cords! I am all set for winter this year! While Kevin was working on that, I decided that this was the day to clean out the chicken house. It didn’t actually smell bad (when it gets wet is when it smells bad) but I wanted to clean it out before the rains come. It was a big job, and I was exhausted when I was done. But it looked so nice with fresh shavings on the floor. Later in the afternoon I ran out to see if the chickens were enjoying their clean house. This is what I saw–they kept coming in and out the door and staring at the floor. I texted Shelley a picture and she came up with the perfect caption: “THE FLOOR IS LAVA!!” Silly chickens.

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And then I turned around and looked at my nest boxes again. I WAS SO EXCITED when I realized that one of my chickens laid her first egg. I had just been telling Kevin that two of them were early egg layers and might start at four months (which is exactly how old they are now.)

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Its such a nice little egg.

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And then I came back inside and pretty much did nothing for the rest of the afternoon ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Chickens!

Well, I went out in the afternoon hoping to get some good chicken photos. They are hard enough to photograph, with their constant movement, but the afternoon shadows did not help. Next time I’ll try earlier in the day.

After I found a home for the first two roosters, this guy appointed himself king. He is smaller and so his crow is higher. As long as he behaves himself, I might let him stay.

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This is one of my French Maran hens. I say hen with great optimism. She has a pretty pronounced red comb and wattles, but I googled Maran hens, and some of them look like this. Fingers crossed she never crows!

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The little king better watch out. These two boys are a lot bigger.

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Baby continues to do well. She is an eating machine! Trying to make up for lost time, I suppose. I still think she is one of my prettiest chicks. I love her soft silver color.

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This is baby’s big sister. She is a darker blue color. Very pretty also.

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Buddy likes to stand quite close to me. See how his comb is different than most chickens? That is called a rose comb.

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And just another of the cochin hens. This week I changed over from baby feed to layer feed. High hopes that a few eggs will be coming soon ๐Ÿ™‚

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All the chickens like to take turns standing on these pots that I left in the coop. Its really interesting to watch the feather development on the roosters. If only they didn’t crow and fight and want you-know-what all the time, I would love having roosters.

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I am still really enjoying ย being a chicken “farmer.” I just love watching them, and I even enjoy cleaning up their house a bit and doing those farmery things.